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Book Review: “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim”

We’re underway with our “Month of Humor” reading for April. For our first week of humorous reading, we picked up David Sedaris’s comedic book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.

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This is the second of Sedaris’s books we’ve read on this challenge. During December’s “Month of Holiday” reading, we read his holiday-themed book, Holidays on Ice. I really enjoyed Holidays on Ice, so I was really thrilled to have an excuse to pick up another of this author’s books. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim did not disappoint.

Dress Your Family… was a collection of short stories, telling stories about Sedaris and his family. His observational humor, and complete honesty about touchy subjects, left me laughing many times. Sedaris’s style is full of dark humor. In this book, he introduces some pretty serious topic, and approaches them with a “such is life” attitude that is refreshing if it is not always funny. Mostly, his book is funny because it is relatable – it is full of stories that almost anyone can relate to, from childhood vacations at the beach, to being a struggling 20-something, to sibling rivalry.

This book might not be for everyone. Sedaris talks about some pretty touchy things (sexual harassment, infant deaths, drug use, to name a few), and it’s a little cringe-worthy to read jokes about these touchy subjects. If you can swallow that pill, this book is a win! Sedaris is uproariously funny, exceptionally dry, and creative in his storytelling.

So how about you? Have you read Dress Your Family… or any of Sedaris’s books? What do you like (or not like) about Sedaris?

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April Reading List

We’re cruising right along in this book challenge (and in 2014). It’s hard to believe we’re into April already. The theme for April’s reading is “Month of Humor” (thanks to April 1 being April Fool’s Day). For this month, we’re reading funny books by funny people – which should prove to be a welcome break from some of the heavier selections we’ve picked up recently (I mean, The Red Queen was excellent, but not very funny). We’re already well into the month, finishing up our last selection for March and first for April, Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

So here’s the list! I hope you’ll pick one (or more) and read along with me, and join in each week for my review, and a book discussion in the comments!

April 6 – 12: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim – David Sedaris

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We’ve already tackled a book by Sedaris during this book challenge (see: Holidays on Ice in December’s “Month of Holidays” readying). Sedaris has already proved to me that he can be not only funny, but slightly dark, sometimes twisted, and very sentimental. I’m looking forward to tackling another of Sedaris’s books. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is a collection of short stories, so prepare for a bunch of laughs!

 

April 13 – 19: Dad is Fat  – Jim Gaffigan

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I LOVE JIM GAFFIGAN. I can’t express this fact enough. He is so funny. I have watched all his specials. I love that his comedy is about realistic things – family issues, food, home births. When I found out he wrote a book (and titled it Dad is Fat… hilarious!), I knew I had to read it. April’s “Month of Humor” theme was a great time to work this book into my reading schedule. If it’s half as funny as Gaffigan’s comedy specials, it’ll prove to be an excellent choice.

 

April 20 – 27: Two for the Dough – Janet Evanovich

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Our favorite bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, is making a second appearance on our reading list. Last month we read One for the Money, and I was pleasantly surprised by how downright funny Evanovich’s novel was. Stephanie is a really funny leading lady, and reading about her (mostly failed) attempts in bounty hunting is non-stop entertainment. This book will fit wonderfully into our “Month of Humor” theme, and will be the second time in the entire book challenge that we’ve picked up a book that is a second in a series. If you haven’t read One for the Money yet, I recommend picking that up this week, and catching up with Two for the Dough at a later date.

 

April 28 – May 4: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams

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Speaking of tackling a “second book in a series”… We’re doing to wrap up our “Month of Humor” and segue into May’s “Month of the Apocalypse” reading by tackling The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams. This book is the second in his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. We read the first book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, back in November, when our theme was “Month of Travel” (you know… travel the galaxy). How does this fit in with the “Apocalypse?” Well, the Earth literally ends in the first book, so we’re going to find out what happens next, while hopefully laughing our butts off.

So there you have it – our very carefully selected books for April’s “Month of Humor” themed reading. I hope you’ll pick one (or more), follow along, and tell me your thoughts in our “book-club-like discussion” at the end of each week.

Happy Reading!

 

 

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Book Review: “Bossypants”

Well, I missed my introduction post again – I am not doing too well keeping you all updated with the reading of the week! Sorry! This week we segued from March’s “Month of Women” into April’s “Month of Humor,” so to meet both requirements, I picked up a book by a woman (Tina Fey), about a woman (Tina Fey), which promised to be pretty hilarious (because… you know… Tina Fey).

This week’s read was Bossypants by (you guessed it) Tina Fey.

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I have been a Tina Fey fan for over 10 years, when I realized she was the writer of Mean Girls. As much as we all hate to admit it in 2014, the 2004 film was comedy gold – especially if you were a high school senior like I was. I am also a diehard fan of 30 Rock, Fey’s NBC show in which she acted, produced, and wrote. There’s also the little fact that she was a writer and actor on Saturday Night Live. So when I needed to find a “humor” book by a female author, Bossypants was the obvious choice.

Man, am I happy I picked this book. Fey is nothing short of hilarious. Her book serves as a sort of autobiography, riddled with entertaining stories from her childhood, through adolescence (there’s quite the story about how her mom handled her getting her first period), through her “starving artist” days, into a successful career, and up to parenthood. She touches on everything from being a woman in a stereotypically man’s world (comedy), to body issues, to parenting a toddler… all three things I can relate to (being a woman in a man’s world through the military, not through comedy… obviously). Fey writes honestly, and says the things most of us are thinking but refuse to say out loud.

I literally laughed out loud at least once per page while reading this book – which, if you ask my husband, is really annoying because I like to read at night when he’s trying to sleep. I was up until 1:30 a.m. last night (this morning? is it morning if you haven’t slept yet?), trying to laugh quietly and not disturb my poor husband who’s alarm would go off 3 1/2 hours later.

Bossypants was a great way to kick off our “Month of Humor” reading. It was uproariously funny, sweet and sentimental, and Fey is really someone I can (and I’m sure many of you can) relate to. She’s not afraid to make fun of herself, and clearly she’s very successful at doing just that. I would enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read, an exhausted stay-at-home mom needing a mental break, an exhausted working mom needing a mental break, or anyone who wants something to laugh at with a glass of wine (or a beer, or a milkshake).

So how about you? Have you read Bossypants? What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of Tina Fey? Does this book sound like a “must read” or a “total dud” to you?

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Book Review: “The Red Queen”

This month’s reading theme, “Month of Women,” has been exceptionally interesting, and introduced me to a lot of new female authors, books, and characters. The idea was, in honor of National Women’s Month, to read books for women, by women, about women. This week, I read Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction novel, The Red Queen.

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The Red Queen is the second in Gregory’s “The Cousin’s War” series, which follow characters throughout the infamous Cousin’s War in England in the Middle Ages. We read the first book, The White Queen, in January, and it was one of my favorite books of the challenge. The Red Queen had a lot to live up to, in my opinion, but Gregory hit a home run with her second book in the series! Where The White Queen followed the York queen Elizabeth Woodville, The Red Queen followed the founding mother of the opposing family, the Lancasters. Born as a cousin to the King of England, Margaret Beaufort was raised as a pious, regal young woman. She was forced married to a Tudor, and at the ripe old age of 13 birthed her only child, Henry Tudor, who would become heir to the throne of England. With usurpers and decades of battle, Margaret grows from a young mother dedicated to her “true king,” to a queen mother on the warpath to win her son the throne.

The Red Queen is absolutely fascinating. Margaret is a really powerful female lead, and one can’t help but allow their heart to go out to the woman who faces every misfortune on her rise to power. Unlike Elizabeth in The White Queenwho lives a rather fortunate life on her way to power, and needs to face a downfall, Margaret takes the opposite journey – struggling and desperate on her rise to power (or her son’s power), and finally successful later in her life. Gregory weaves a very successful and exceptionally interesting story, allowing readers to related to the character, feel for her disappointments, and enjoy her successes.

I found myself a bit distracted when reading this novel, trying to match up the timeline to that of Elizabeth’s story in The White Queen. Their stories run parallel to one another, and I feel like I can better understand parts of Elizabeth’s story by understanding Margaret’s. These novels tie together so neatly. Gregory’s historical edge is captivating. I am a fan of historical fiction, and her novels remind me of why. While reading her novels, I feel inspired to research the era and the families more completely. Elizabeth and Margaret are the grandmothers of the infamous king, Henry VIII, and great grandmothers to Elizabeth I. Margaret was the matriarch of the famous Tudor dynasty. I love that I learn while reading these novels, and I can’t wait to pick up the next one.

We’ve read the first of a few series during this book challenge, but this is the only time we’ve picked up a second book from a series. There is a reason – I have really enjoyed these novels, and find myself thinking about them well after they’re done (I even had a dream that I was watching the final battle of The Red Queen take place), and inspired to learn more.

So how about you? Did you read along? Have you read The White Queen or The Red Queen? Are you a Gregory fan? Share your thoughts about this novel!

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Week 30 Reading: “The Red Queen”

Wow! I can’t believe we’re onto our 30th book in the challenge! Even if you’re only reading along periodically, or simply collecting recommendations for future reading, I thank you for taking part in this reading adventure! This week we’re keeping with our “Month of Women” theme (book for women, by women, about women), and picking up Philippa Gregory’s The Red Queen.

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The Red Queen is the second in Gregory’s The Cousin’s War series. We read the first book back in January (see: Book Review: “The White Queen”). If you haven’t read that one yet, I recommend you pick it up and catch up with the story before picking up The Red Queen

I have been looking forward to this book since I finished The White Queen in January!! Gregory has a way with storytelling, and infuses just the right amount of mystery, history, and magic in her historical fiction series. I hope The Red Queen continues on the path of excellence Gregory started with her first novel in the series! This novel follows the same story line told through a different point of view, and I just can’t wait to crack it open and get more of this series!

I hope you’ll join me this week! Remember, at the end of the week, you are encouraged to share your thoughts, arguments, criticism, or giddy feelings about any of the readings (and if you hate my opinions, you are free to let me know). We’re going for a “book club” atmosphere, and I hope you’ll join in the fun!

Happy Reading!

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Book Review: “One for the Money”

Well, it has been a very busy week. I am approaching the end of two college courses (finals next week!), and just began two more (my last two). In my hectic school schedule, I forgot to post what book we were reading this week, but hopefully you’re keeping up by checking out the “The Month’s Books” page, where I list what the readings for the month are.

This week, in keeping with the “Month of Women” theme (books for women, by women, about women), we tackled Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money.

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One for the Money is the first in Evanovich’s “Stephanie Plum” series, and was quite an introduction to a really entertaining leading lady! The novel follows broke-as-dirt Stephanie Plum, a 30-year-old single woman in New Jersey, as she tries her hand at gaining some fast cash through bounty hunting. Yes… bounty hunting. She sets quite a slow learning curve as she seeks out to capture the grand prize bounty, Joe Morelli – a man she has a romantic (or at least lusty) past with. Her adventures are exciting, her near-misses frightening, and her story is all over very entertaining.

I have to admit, I came into this novel with a bit of a wall up, thinking I wouldn’t like it. First off, it is apparently a very popular series, and (just being honest – hate me if you will) I have noticed that very popular series that are followed predominantly by women tend to be REALLY hit or miss (think Outlander vs. Twilight). Secondly, my last experience with a female bounty hunter novel ended in grave (pun intended) disappointment (see: Book Review: “Guilty Pleasures”). I have to apologize to Stephanie Plum for my judgements – and eat my words for sure.

Evanovich’s novel is downright funny. Her character – Stephanie Plum – is so honest that it’s impossible not to love her. Unlike many female leads, she doesn’t come by her craft gracefully or easily… she struggles, makes mistakes, and gets herself into some really hairy situations. She even finds herself rescued by quite a few male characters – something that is rarely found in “chick lit” (books for women), where women are usually tough-as-nails and can handle things themselves. It’s refreshing to see such a genuine portrayal of a woman in a novel, especially in a modern woman (well, “90’s modern”) with a job like bounty hunting. I feel like every single woman I know could, at some point in her life, relate to Stephanie. Evancovich infuses so much tongue-in-cheek humor into her characters. From Stephanie on down to the lowliest of supporting characters, each one seems real, New Jersey sarcastic (all that offensive New Jersey language), and contributes to the story.

There’s even an element of mystery in the story, as Stephanie seeks to get her man, and help him prove his innocence. Evanovich kept me captive the entire time, and I found myself up into the late hours of the night with this one. Listen – it’s nothing profound. This novel isn’t going to knock your socks off… but it will entertain you. It was a great relief from all of my school work, and a fun way to spend my evening. I would happily read another Stephanie Plum novel, and gladly pass this one on to any of my friends.

So what about you? Are you a Stephanie Plum fan? Does this novel even sound interesting to you? If you’ve read it before, what did you like (or not like) about it?

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Book Review: “Paper Woman”

Well, this week was a lovely one spent visiting family, reading by the pool in the Florida sunshine while my parents chased my kids around, and feeling generally well rested and refreshed on some much needed vitamin-D (it’s been a long, gray, dreary winter). Speaking of reading by the pool…

In keeping with March’s “Month of Women” theme for March, this week I read Suzanne Adair’s historical fiction novel, Paper Woman.

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Paper Woman follows Sophie – a 33 year old widow living in Georgia during the American Revolution – as she faces redcoats, rebels, Native Americans, and dangerous Spaniards on an exciting journey from Georgia to St. Augustine, where she hopes to find the man who murdered her father. Sophie comes face-to-face with fear, love, and her true self, all while keeping herself, and her companions, alive.

What a great novel! Not only is it exceptionally well-written and a real page turner (I had a hard time putting it down), but Sophie is, quite possibly, my new favorite female heroine in a newer book. Contemporary authors have this desire to make their female characters either wilting flowers, or infallible, rough, tough women, and I always have a hard time relating to one or the other. Sophie is a wonderfully balanced combination of both. She is strong, determined, stubborn, and smart, but also sensitive and full of faults – characteristics I feel that any real woman can relate to. The supporting cast of mostly male characters are richly described and just as realistic, contributing to Paper Woman being one of those historical fiction novels that you can picture being based on real people and real events. They seem to come out of a journal entry, rather than a work of fiction.

Adair surely does her research. The historical backdrop is so acutely tuned and deeply developed – you feel like you have been there – seen the sights, smelled the smells, experienced the action first hand. The characterization of Sophie and her comrades, coupled with Adair’s well-defined setting makes this novel a joy to read. I may be a little partial to this novel – it has a great female lead, is about one of the most fascinating (in my opinion) periods in American history, and is historical fiction (my favorite genre) – but I think this one is a must read for sure. There’s enough romance for the romance readers, loads of history for the historian, and a female character that will make you either fall in love or feel empowered. The book is exciting to no end, and a wonderful way to learn facts about American history you didn’t know before (for example: I had no idea the Spanish were involved in the American Revolution – shame on me)! The best part, however, is that this book is the first in a series. You can count on seeing another of Adair’s Mysteries of the American Revolution Trilogy.

If I’ve piqued your interest, you can find this book in a really well formatted eBook version at the following sites (just click the links). You might also find a hard copy on one of these sites if you prefer a book in your hands (I usually do).

Amazon  |  Smashwords  |  Barnes and Noble  |  iTunes  |  Kobo

If you’re interested in learning more about the author, visit her website: http://www.suzanneadair.net – her blog is updated frequently, and her posts are always interesting, informative posts about the American Revolution (generally), and give an insight into her research process!

So what about you? Have you read any of Adair’s books? What are your thoughts? Do you appreciate a well-written female lead? Do you like American Revolution novels? Mysteries?

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