Monday, April 20, 2015


ISBN #: 978-1627791830
Page Count: 240
Copyright: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

Hilariously imagined text conversations—the passive aggressive, the clever, and the strange—from classic and modern literary figures, from Scarlett O’Hara to Jessica Wakefield.

Mallory Ortberg, the co-creator of the cult-favorite website The Toast, presents this whimsical collection of hysterical text conversations from your favorite literary characters. Everyone knows that if Scarlett O’Hara had an unlimited text-and-data plan, she’d constantly try to tempt Ashley away from Melanie with suggestive messages. If Mr. Rochester could text Jane Eyre, his ardent missives would obviously be in all-caps. And Daisy Buchanan would not only text while driving, she’d text you to pick her up after she totaled her car. Based on the popular web-feature, Texts from Jane Eyre is a witty, irreverent mashup that brings the characters from your favorite books into the twenty-first century.

Kathy's Review:

If our favorite literary characters, or authors, could text, what would they say? The author imagines these conversations throughout the history of literature, beginning with Greek mythology and ending with Katniss and Peeta in “The Hunger Games.” Extremely funny, and spot-on with keeping with the particular character’s quirks or infamous scenes from the books in which they live, Texts is smartly imagined.

Admittedly, I didn’t know a LOT of the literary references in the book. They were still funny, but I think some of the nuance went over my head. There were several jokes relating to Daisy Miller that I didn’t get because I had never heard of this character, but I could still tell that it was stuffy British lit from back in the day and that Daisy had some haters who thought she was a tramp.

The philosophical stuff was funny – basically, some of the crazy-yet-brilliant thoughts of some of the past writers were reimagined into texts and came off as you’d imagine.

Some of my favorites were Miss Havisham’s texts (Great Expectations) reminding all that she was jilted at the altar; Emily Dickinson texting from inside her bedroom to someone on the outside of the door; and Peter Pan as the ultimate druggie, texting Wendy and asking her to come party with him. Surprisingly, some of the more modern literary references were my least favorite. Babysitters Club came along after I was too old to be reading that stuff, so I skipped right over that one. Even Sweet Valley High, of which I was an ardent fan, wasn’t one of my favorites.

This will take you just about an hour to get through, and I’m sure that if you enjoy reading, you’ll be amused at this inventive way to retell their stories.

*A physical copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

{Review} A GHOSTLY UNDERTAKING by Tonya Kappes

ISBN #: 978-0062374646
Page Count: 304
Copyright: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Witness; Reissue Edition
Series: Ghostly Southern Mysteries (Book 1)

Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

A funeral, a ghost, a murder . . . It's all in a day's work for emma lee raines . . .

Bopped on the head from a falling plastic Santa, local undertaker Emma Lee Raines is told she's suffering from “funeral trauma.”   It's trauma all right, because the not-so-dearly departed keep talking to her. Take Ruthie Sue Payne—innkeeper, gossip queen, and arch-nemesis of Emma Lee's granny—she's adamant that she didn't just fall down those stairs. She was pushed.

Ruthie has no idea who wanted her pushing up daisies. All she knows is that she can't cross over until the matter is laid to eternal rest. In the land of the living, Emma Lee's high-school crush, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, isn't ready to rule out foul play. Granny Raines, the widow of Ruthie's ex-husband and co-owner of the Sleepy Hollow Inn, is the prime suspect. Now Emma Lee is stuck playing detective or risk being haunted forever.

Mandy's Review:

I'm always up for a good mystery involving murder, ghosts, and surprises. Sometimes it's nice to just read a book for enjoyment instead of trying to figure out what the author's trying to convey.

Emma is in an unusual situation. Her sister, Charlotte, and she run one of the local funeral homes. It was previously managed by their parents, but their parents have decided to move away, travel, and leave the funeral home in the hands of their daughters. All goes well until Emma has her incident with the plastic Santa Claus.

It's this konk on the head that allows Emma to see the ghosts of the recently departed. Ruthie being the most recent, Emma thinks she's starting to have episodes of the "funeral trauma" again until Ruthie convinces Emma she was murdered. Emma, now intrigued, decides to help investigate Ruthie's death ... especially when the local law enforcement office, Jack, subpoenas Emma requesting she not bury Ruthie until the official investigation is over.

Sticking your nose in where it doesn't belong can get you into trouble, as it does with Emma. There's someone in town that's not happy with Emma playing junior detective. Will Emma be able to help Jack solve Ruthie's murder before someone close to Emma goes to jail?

There were parts of the story that moved just a bit too fast for me and I feel like some important elements may have been left out but overall I did enjoy this novel. I have a lot going on in my life right now and reading something just for the pure enjoyment of it was refreshing. It helped me to escape my head for a while, which is something I was sorely needing. If you're looking to escape and visit a new place for purely recreational purposes, then I would recommend beginning this series.

*A physical copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 17, 2015

{The 2015 Amazing Book Race Challenge Review} NOT MY FATHER'S SON by Alan Cumming

ISBN #: 978-0062225061
Page Count: 304
Copyright: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Lupe's Review:

I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Alan Cumming himself, and I have to say, it was so much better that way. Being able to hear the tiniest inflections in his voice, feel, really FEEL what he is saying, made this such an immersive story. You're able to chuckle with him when you hear his voice smiling and get teary eyed and cry for him when you hear him speak so solemnly about his childhood, and even much of his adulthood.

His foray into what happened to his grandfather, the trigger from his father that makes him so introspective on himself, parallel in a way that only a Hollywood story should. Unfortunately, this was no glamorous Hollywood life. Alan's childhood and adulthood were marred by his father, Alec, and just listening to his story was enough, at times, to just make my heart break. I have always liked him as an actor and musician. He is just so versatile and just, well, GOOD, that you never would have expected all the obstacles he had to face. His personal life alone (being bisexual and his HEAVY advocacy of LGBT rights) were nothing compared to his childhood personal life. He was able to overcome so much adversity from his father, so much angst. And to be able to tell it so truthfully, without hindrance and without hiding anything, I think is a true testament to his character.

Read this. If you don't ever read another memoir again, read this one. I promise you won't regret it.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

{Review} SMALL MERCIES by Eddie Joyce

ISBN #: 978-0525427292
Page Count: 368
Copyright: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Viking

(Taken from book flap)

An ingeniously layered narrative, told over the course of one week, Eddie Joyce’s debut novel masterfully depicts an Italian-Irish American family on Staten Island and their complicated emotional history. Ten years after the loss of Bobby—the Amendola family’s youngest son—everyone is still struggling to recover from the firefighter’s unexpected death. Bobby’s mother, Gail; his widow, Tina; his older brothers Peter, the corporate lawyer, and Franky, the misfit; and his father, Michael, have all dealt with their grief in different ways. But as the family gathers together for Bobby Jr.’s birthday party, they must each find a way to accept a new man in Tina’s life while reconciling their feelings for their lost loved one.

In unflinching but lyrical prose, Joyce shows us one mother’s struggle to keep her family together and preserve the memory of her son. Following Gail as she moves from the corner offices of white-shoe Manhattan law firms to the blue-collar gin mills of the outer boroughs, Small Mercies reveals a different New York, one that exists in the hearts and minds of its inhabitants.

Presented through multiple points of view, Small Mercies explores the conflicts and deep attachments that exist within families. Heart-wrenching and profoundly relatable, Joyce’s debut is a love letter to Staten Island and a deeply affecting portrait of an American family.

Charlene's Review:

Small Mercies is a haunting story of a family in the aftermath of the loss of Bobby, their son/brother/spouse, on 9/11. Mr. Joyce paints a picture with his words: A picture of life before, and life after. 10 years later, Bobby’s widow announces to his mother, Gail, that she has met a new love, and Gail must find a way to tell the family, all of whom are still grieving.

With the focus on the family, instead of the terror attack, this is a new twist on a fateful day. Perhaps the most humbling of all. When the cameras faded and the stories died, the families were left to find a new normal. Small Mercies is a look at the reality of survivors of 9/11 and how they must learn to live as the casualties of an act that took America’s innocence. The guilt of the family "business" , the unspoken words, the wishful thinking, and the unspeakable grief of a mother are all demonstrated in a heart-wrenching novel full of real, raw emotion. The true beauty of this story is the flawed, hurting characters that cling desperately to each other, every bit as much as they suffer alone.

I have read many books on the subject of 9/11 and Small Mercies is one of the best, as it reflects not on the horror and destruction of that day, but the ability of the human spirit to rise from the ashes.

5 out of 5 stars!

*A hardcopy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

{Review} SMILE NOW, CRY LATER by Paul MacDonald

ISBN #: 978-1507525449
Page Count: 248
Copyright: January 12, 2015
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Series: Chuck Restic Mystery

Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

Chuck Restic is a man without a purpose. A 20-year career working in the risk-averse world of Human Resources for a large corporation has left him comfortably numb... but so incredibly bored. There has to be more to life than trying not to get sued. Chuck finds an escape in an unlikely form when he begins moonlighting as a private detective. He's not your typical PI (he prefers a passive-aggressive approach over the old-fashioned fisticuffs kind) but he is amusingly effective at solving crimes. And at last he is able to apply that HR experience -- the same one that gives him so much consternation -- to a finer purpose.

This first book in the series has Chuck venturing out of the confines of his Los Angeles skyscraper in search of a missing colleague. The trail leads him from the shady underworld of Armenian mobsters to the billion-dollar land developments that serve as the lifeblood of the city. Murder lurks at every turn. The Chuck Restic Mystery Series is a fun romp that mashes traditional mystery with a scathing send-up of Corporate America, and delivers a fresh take on the classic Los Angeles detective novel.

Shelley's Review:

This book grabs and holds your attention from page one.  The author throws in number of subplots and twists that makes this  book appeal to a wide variety of people.  Something for everyone!  I really look forward to another installment of Chuck Restic Mysteries.  Kudos Mr. Macdonald!

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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