Sophie seems to have lost her mojo at the same time that some freaky stuff starts going down again in San Francisco. The Squirrel People are restless,Sophie seems to have lost her mojo at the same time that some freaky stuff starts going down again in San Francisco. The Squirrel People are restless, ghosts are swarming the Golden Gate Bridge, and there's a man in a yellow suit drifting around stirring up trouble. What's going on this time?
2.5 Stars but I'm feeling generous but I'm not feeling generous after getting my thoughts down.
What this feels like is a contractual obligation. My guess is that Christopher Moore signed a deal for a follow-up to A Dirty Job, time was up, so he knocked this out. I wasn't impressed.
I laughed/cried/snorted my way through A Dirty Job. Seriously. I may have chuckled once or twice this go 'round. Charlie's new body was funny at the end of the first book but once it's sustained for a while and some obvious drawbacks are pointed out, it just got disturbing. Like, I-wish-I-could-scrub-this-image-from-my-mind disturbing. And, yes, thank you, I do actually have an overdeveloped sense of potty humor. But too far is actually too far.
The characters were just kind of more of the same. That should be good since I loved them before, but everybody changes at least a little bit over a year or so. Not these characters. The bad guy(s) are back. Well, there's a different, surprising, leader but the rest is the same. I think we got all the laughs we could out of beating these villains up the first time. I miss Mrs. Ling and Mrs. Korchev. They got a scene or two and they were amusing but that was it. There was a lot more of Lily this time around, and she was funny. Abby Normal shows up for a couple of pages in a throwaway scene. I could go on, but I guess I'll sum this up with "Same characters, only slightly different story."
The ghosts on the bridge confused me. I was probably jet-lagged while I read this, so maybe I just missed it. But they tell these long stories, some funny, some sad, some just random, for no apparent reason. Padding the page count? I don't know. I saw absolutely no purpose.
Somehow, A Dirty Job was funny and crass in a way that I liked but it still had heart. Charlie was doing his best despite being overwhelmingly unprepared for the job. The Emperor is trying to save his city. Death is more than a punchline, and hospice workers are angels on earth. I found that all to be missing now.
I have loved Christopher Moore in the past, and luckily I still have quite a few books from his back catalog left to read, because I think I may be done with him now. I haven't really enjoyed any of his work since 2007. Wow. Except for Bite Me. I do love Abby Normal.
As I write this, the average rating on GoodReads is almost 4.0, so I'm obviously in the minority, but there you go. This one just wasn't for me. Christopher Moore fans will obviously read it. I do highly recommend A Dirty Job but I personally wish I had stopped there....more
In a hospital in England, the anti-Christ is born, making unlikely allies of the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale. They've both spent quite a biIn a hospital in England, the anti-Christ is born, making unlikely allies of the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale. They've both spent quite a bit of time on Earth and they actually kind of like the place. They're not ready for the End of Days. So they set out to make sure it doesn't happen.
I read this book about half a lifetime ago, which makes me feel a little old. I really enjoyed it. When I saw that it was going to be adapted for radio by the BBC and we could stream it on our side of the pond, I was excited.
I think I was a little distracted as I was listening to it. I only listened to it around the house so I could stream it over our wifi. And of course I was puttering around as I listened. I laughed in all the right places but it felt disjointed to me. I think that's at least partly because I would get focused on whatever I was doing for a minute or two and then try to pick up the thread of the narrative again. Also, the BBC app is terrible. I could only listen to five minutes at a time before the audio started whistling at me, so then I'd have to exit completely out and go back in to listen to the next five minutes. That shows some sort of dedication on my part, doesn't it, that I listened to the whole thing like that?
Also, (I'm afraid to say this), I tend to love Neil Gaiman's books but I've never been a huge Terry Pratchett fan. My sister has tried to get me to read the Discworld books forever. I've read a few. I enjoyed one and the others were just too random and over the top for me. That's how Good Omens felt to me now. I don't know if my taste has changed or if it just stood out to me more in this format.
The adaptation was very well done though. I haven't listened to many (if any) other radio adaptations, and I liked the full cast and the sound effects. I can't think of any weaknesses in that aspect of things.
I don't know if this is still available, but fans of the book should definitely check it out. I think I just had too many other things going on because I really should have loved it....more
Mary Roach has a gift for making science accessible and--dare I say it?--even funny. In this book, she tackles the digestive system.
Covering topics raMary Roach has a gift for making science accessible and--dare I say it?--even funny. In this book, she tackles the digestive system.
Covering topics ranging from thorough chewing (as in 700+ chews for One. Freaking. Bite.) to the miraculous properties of spit, from being eaten alive to the possibility (or not) of chewing your way out if you are, from "The alimentary canal as criminal accomplice" to *ahem* flatus, and ending up with bacterial transplants to treat intractable digestive ailments, this book asks everything you might possibly have ever wanted to know on the topic but were afraid to ask.
I have a pretty juvenile sense of humor, so all of the fart jokes, and spit jokes, and *ahem* "criminal accomplice" jokes had me at least giggling. In the two chapters devoted to flatulence, I was quite honestly laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. Not that it was necessarily that funny but because "Oh my gosh, I can't believe she went there. And there. And there!" I'm almost ashamed of myself. Almost. Luckily my husband and I have the same sense of humor so he just kept playing whatever game on his phone as I laughed myself silly and waited for me to catch my breath and report so he could share in the joke too.
I've worked in healthcare for years, so I've developed a pretty strong stomach (though I'm not a nurse or CNA and haven't ever had to wade into the trenches, so to speak), so nothing in here bothered me. That will obviously not be the case for all of you. If you can stomach it (heehee!), I do recommend this. If it doesn't seem to be your kind of thing, it's probably not....more
Bernadette Fox is an...eccentric...mother and wife living in Seattle. Her daughter, Bee, is an excellent student and has asked for a family cruise toBernadette Fox is an...eccentric...mother and wife living in Seattle. Her daughter, Bee, is an excellent student and has asked for a family cruise to Antarctica as a reward for earning all A's (or her school's equivalent) throughout her middle school career. Bernadette and her husband, Elgin, can't think of a reason to say no so the planning begins.
Bernadette is in a fragile place mentally due to a Huge Hideous Thing that happened when she was still living in L.A. The stress of planning the trip, or having her virtual assistant in India plan it, added to the stress of the terrible parents at Bee's school and the general anxiety Bernadette experiences every day prove to be too much; Bernadette disappears. This book is a collection of emails and other ephemera as Bee tries to figure out where her mom went.
This was hilarious but it was also so sad at the same time. The parents at Bee's school were horrific beyond words. One in particular took helicopter parenting to an entirely new level. No wonder poor Bernadette calls them "the gnats." She tries her best to just lie low and let them do their thing but they won't let her. All parents must be joiners! All parents must volunteer in the classroom! All neighboring parents must keep their backyards in the condition that chief helicopter mom dictates! Holy cow.
Bernadette herself was an enigma. I liked that she just kind of gives the other parents the finger but it was obvious that something just wasn't right with her. She would go on huge rants about how she hates Canadians and 5-way intersections, both of which are apparently innumerable in Seattle. She seemed to be most honest in emails with her virtual assistant. She chose a house that used to be a girls' school and then let it crumble down around her family's ears. I couldn't figure out what the heck was going on with her. And then I found out what the Huge Hideous Thing was and I just had to gasp out loud and sit back and process it for a minute. It was nothing that I had ever expected at all. Once I knew what had happened, I had much more sympathy for Bernadette.
I flew through the first half of the book with all the emails and notes and twists and turns. The second half is more of a straightforward journal written from Bee's point of view. I can't say that I lost interest but my reading definitely slowed down. I think it had to be written this way but I preferred the first half.
I highly recommend this funny romp through the lives of a modern American family....more
Percy Jackson finds himself entering a camp of Roman demigods near San Francisco with only the vaguest memory of who he is. The Romans accept him andPercy Jackson finds himself entering a camp of Roman demigods near San Francisco with only the vaguest memory of who he is. The Romans accept him and he finds himself on a quest with Hazel and Frank, a couple of other demigods. They must make their way to Alaska, "The Land Beyond the Gods," defeat a giant, win back the Roman standard, and free Thanatos, aka Death. All in about four days. No sweat.
As much as I loved reading Percy Jackson in print, I have to say that I love listening to Joshua Swanson's narration of this spin-off series even more. He sounds as excited as I feel to find out what's going to happen next. He does a great job of voicing all the different characters, and he makes all these smart alecky demigods sound as smart alecky as they really are. I can't recommend this series on audio highly enough!
I do really like this series so far. I seem to have never reviewed the first book, The Lost Hero, but I did enjoy it. I mostly listen to audio books in the car but I had to bring this one in the house with me and listen as I cooked or cleaned or even just got all my stuff ready for the next day. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next.
Percy sounds a little older and wiser in this book. He's kind of filling a big brother role for Hazel and Frank. He's been on enough quests to know how it works, even if he has lost his memory. He doesn't dominate the other two; he acknowledges that Frank is the leader and he lets Frank make the tough calls. I respect him for that. He's still hilarious though and I just love him.
I felt bad for Hazel but I liked her a lot. She's carrying around some serious baggage from her past. She sees this quest as a chance to correct some mistakes she's made. She's a tough warrior in her own right and wise beyond her years.
Frank's pretty cool too. His demigod ability is awesome! He's been going through a rough time as well. It was nice to watch him dealing with that and growing past his insecurities and into his abilities.
The book is full of action and humor and is a fast read in any format. Rick Riordan fans will not be disappointed. I'll be picking up the third book pretty soon, I'm sure!...more
I don't even know how to begin to describe this plot. Garnell Lee Ray is an assassin for hire. She has a grudge against greedy developers and she's taI don't even know how to begin to describe this plot. Garnell Lee Ray is an assassin for hire. She has a grudge against greedy developers and she's taking one group of particularly dirty specimens out. She likes to use gravity to her advantage. Detective Krontz realizes that Garnell is tied to these deaths in some way, but he can't quite figure out how. This Yankee cop sure as hell isn't going to let a cute little Southern girl get away with murder though.
That sounds oh-so-serious. Zany, unpredictable, and hilarious are probably the best words to describe this Western North Carolina tale. Written by 12 local authors, each getting a chapter, this seems to be a competition to see which one can throw the biggest curveball out for the next author to catch. They each did an admirable job. I would come to the end of one chapter, think, "There's no way we're working through this," and the next author would not only work through it but also raise the stakes. The story's so twisted and turned it could probably be a study in knot theory for a mathematician with time on his or her hands.
I did have to just sit back and let the story take me where it wanted though. If you have a logical, ordered mind, this might not be the book for you. But if you're willing to shut down the rational brain and enjoy the ride, it's a book that will have you laughing out loud.
I don't know how big an audience this would have outside of Western North Carolina. I think you probably have to know a little about the area and the people to really get it. I think if you're coming to visit us though, this would be a fun book to pick up while you're checking out Malaprop's (because if you're a reader, you have to stop by Malaprop's while you're in Asheville) and see what makes our corner of the world tick. It's a fun story made all the funnier with all the kernels of truth buried within the farce. ...more
I have mostly been able to follow Christopher Moore into his craziness with success. He makes a joke and I laugh. It might be the weirdest thing everI have mostly been able to follow Christopher Moore into his craziness with success. He makes a joke and I laugh. It might be the weirdest thing ever (Humpback whales with "Bite Me" on their tails?), but I get it. But then there was Fool. And now there is Sacre Bleu.
I got so tired of having absolutely no freaking idea what on earth was going on. I mean, zero idea. You probably have a better idea what's going on than I did. Notice that I didn't write a synopsis? There's a reason.
Individual elements worked well for me. I liked coming across all these painters and seeing them...misbehave. Especially Monet. I read a book about him once. I liked Lucien and Henri a lot. They had been left a little broken by the women in their lives, but they were still young painters (Or bakers. Or counts.) out on the town having a little fun. And sex. And alcohol.
Paris is always a good location to read about. I'm not sure how much I really want to go, but reading a book set in the city always has me ready to pack my bags. And then I think that I would stand out like a sore thumb in chic Paris. And I mentally unpack them again.
I loved that the ink of the book is blue and that so many prints of paintings were included. In color no less! I hate reading a book that talks about a real work of art and there's no print in the book. Call it laziness. It just seems like it should always be included.
I really appreciated that there is a section at the end explaining what is fact and what is fiction. I was a little surprised by what bits fell under which heading. I knew about van Gogh's ear. I did not know that he shot himself in the chest on purpose and then walked a mile to the doctor for help. That truly is some craziness.
But then there's the whole thrust (hee hee! Are you proud, Mr. Moore?) of the story that centers around The Colorman and Bleu. Who the hell are they and what the hell are they doing? I didn't know. I have a better idea now, but I'm still confused. Maybe my sense of humor is broken at the moment. Maybe my attention span is about as long as that of the hummingbirds that are starting to show back up at my house. But I just couldn't follow anything about them. And they really are the entire point of the story.
I have a feeling that if you liked Fool, you'll understand this better than I did, so go ahead and give it a try if you're interested.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.
Gumdrop Coal has gotten the axe. Founder of the Coal Patrol, those elves who deliver coal into bad little kids' stockings, Gumdrop is out on his ear wGumdrop Coal has gotten the axe. Founder of the Coal Patrol, those elves who deliver coal into bad little kids' stockings, Gumdrop is out on his ear when Santa decides that every child deserves a real gift on Christmas. Gumdrop takes it hard. His methods might be harsh, but he believes they're fair and they mostly get results.
He's promised Santa that he'll stay away from children, but he hasn't made any promises about parents. Let's face it--someone is responsible for little monsters turning out the way they are. After a few violent encounters, parents and children have changed their ways for the better.
Then one of the parents Gumdrop roughed up is found dead. Everyone in Kringle Town thinks Gumdrop did it. Gumdrop sets out to clear his name. Can he nab the culprit before his own goose is cooked?
This was fun, if a little hard to sustain over the length of a short novel. I can't say that I've actually read any noir, but I'm somehow familiar with the tropes, either through movies or the collective subconscious. Harmon stayed true to what I know. The good-looking dame with questionable motives. The hard-boiled MC. Over-the-top villains. Very cool.
What was a lot of fun was seeing how Christmas lore fit into the book. There can't be many Christmas songs and stories that Harmon didn't work in here. Tiny Tim, Ralphie, It's a Wonderful Life, "The Twelve Days of Christmas"--he really covered a lot of ground.
I mostly liked the way that familiar sayings had a Christmas twist. "Son of a blitzen." "I didn't know it yet but someone back at the North Pole was about to start playing reindeer games for keeps." "For a little while, things seemed too foggy even for Rudy's schnoz and the whole tale was about to get more twisted than a cheap string of lights." It did get a little old if I read the book too long at one time. But when I put it down and came back after a little break, I was entertained again.
I was surprised that there was a true Christmas message worked in, with talk of the Child, and the First Gift, and the true meaning of Christmas. I liked it.
As for the mystery, I didn't really follow all the twists and turns. I went with it, but now that I'm sitting here thinking about it, I'm not sure that everything really worked together. That might be my fault for reading without thinking too much, I don't know. It happens.
If you're looking for a different kind of Christmas read, go ahead and check this out. It's a nice change from the sickeningly sweet fare that's usually offered up at this time of year. ...more
Jill Conner Browne writes a fictional account of how the Sweet Potato Queens came into being and how they truly became queens through some terrible deJill Conner Browne writes a fictional account of how the Sweet Potato Queens came into being and how they truly became queens through some terrible decisions and heartbreak.
I absolutely loved the first chapter of this book. It was sheer perfection I tell you. It starts when the queens are in high school and haven't really figured out that they're queens yet. They are always being looked down upon by the high school beauty queen, a bitch if ever there was one. I was shrieking with laughter and doing a corny little fist pump all alone in my car by the time the chapter ended. "You tell her, Queens!" I was repeating the last few sentences of that chapter to anyone who would listen for days, complete with my best Southern drawl.
That was by far my favorite part. The Queens seem determined to make every mistake it is possible to make when it comes to love. There were still definitely some funny parts, but I had gotten so attached to these characters in that first chapter that I just wanted everything to go right for them. But I think Browne's ultimate message is that we are all Queens, no matter what horrendously bad decision we have made in our lives. We just need to pick ourselves back up, dust off our crowns, and start singing "Tiny Bubbles" again.
I am torn between recommending the print or audio versions. I listened to the audio, read by Browne herself, and had a blast listening to her. I am definitely a Southern girl, but up here in the Southern Appalachians, we have more of a twang, and Browne definitely has a drawl. I could listen to her talk all day, I swear. No matter the slight differences in accents, I think that Southerners all have a similar rhythm to our storytelling, so listening to her read this book just felt deeply right.
On the other hand, there were so many quotes I wanted to mark, but there was no way for me to do that! Maybe I'll check the print book out of the library and look for the best bits. One that I can sort of remember is something like, "She was letting that word fly. You know, the one we called the firetruck word back then because it began and ended in the same letters."
For a laugh-out-loud, ultimately feel-good book, go ahead and pick this up in whatever format tickles your fancy. It might not have quite lived up to the high expectations I had after the first chapter, but it is definitely a girl-power book, and we all need to read those every once in a while....more
Wayside school is just a little different. The builder built the school sideways, so it's 30 classrooms stacked on top of each other. Mrs. Jewls's claWayside school is just a little different. The builder built the school sideways, so it's 30 classrooms stacked on top of each other. Mrs. Jewls's class is on the 30th floor. That makes for a long hike for her students. The students at Wayside are a little different as well. One boy has a literal compulsion to pull a girl's braids. One student sleeps all the time. Everyone calls a new kid by the wrong name and he never corrects anyone. One new kid shows up wearing a raincoat and there's a huge surprise when he takes it off. The teachers at Wayside are a little different too. The first teacher is horrible and when she disappears, the students get a teacher who is just as wacky as they are. Yes, life's a little different at Wayside, but that's the way they like it.
I can remember my 4th grade teacher reading the first book to my class. We thought this was the funniest thing ever! I had high expectations going into it, and I wasn't really let down. It wasn't as funny to me now as it was to my 9-year-old self, but I can definitely see why I loved it back then. Don't get me wrong--it was still hilarious, but I found myself giggling or smiling instead of laughing out loud.
I wasn't too sure about Louis Sachar as the narrator at first. He's not terribly exciting but he grew on me. He has an earnest voice that perfectly set up the crazy things these kids did in all seriousness.
I felt the first book was the best but the other two were worth checking out as well. The end of the second one got waaaay weird and ended in a not-very-happy place. I was surprised. But readers will have to pick up the third book to see how things work out for the Wayside Schoolers, so I guess it was effective marketing.
I think the books work so well because, well, kids are weird. For real. They start learning pretty early on what is and isn't acceptable, so they don't do half the weird things they want to do. The Wayside Schoolers have no inhibitions. They just go for it and it's fun to live vicariously through them.
The books, especially the first, don't really have one big plot. Each chapter is more like a short story about a kid in the class. I happen to like short stories so this worked for me. I think kids will enjoy dipping in and out of it as well. Others might consider it choppy.
I don't really know what most adults will think of it unless they remember it fondly from their elementary school days. Kids with a kid's sense of humor should love it. A great read for both girls and boys....more
George Beard and Harold Hutchins are the 4th grade pranksters at their school. They change school signs around to say funny things, they fill cheerleaGeorge Beard and Harold Hutchins are the 4th grade pranksters at their school. They change school signs around to say funny things, they fill cheerleader pom poms with black pepper, and they fill footballs with helium. Perhaps their favorite pastime, though, is writing comic books. They steal into the school office and make copies to sell when the secretary's back is turned, then sell their comics to the other kids at the school. Their best superhero is Captain Underpants, who fights with Wedgie Power. "Tra-la-laaa!"
Their mean school principal, Mr. Krupp, really dislikes Harold and George for all the chaos they cause in his school. He blackmails them into behaving, but George and Harold find a way to fight back. Mr. Krupp never knows what hits him.
Oh my goodness. What a fun book! I was giggling away reading this by myself at the age of 33. I would have laughed to the point of tears as a child. But then, I've always loved a good fart joke. Unsophisticated, I know, but farts happen. Might as well get a laugh out of them.
George and Harold are a couple of comic geniuses. They have a talent for getting into trouble but their real talents lie in getting out of trouble. Their imagination and creativity seems to be limitless!
And what they do to Mr. Krupp... I loved it! What kid, no matter how well-behaved, doesn't dream of rebelling against some authority figure? If we're honest, we never lose those dreams. It feels so good to see someone acting out like that, even if it is just in the pages of a book.
There is one chapter that features flip-o-rama. I had such a good time with this! The book has reached a crashing climax and all of a sudden you get to sort of activate it yourself and watch the action take place. It was a lot of fun and I played around with it longer than I should probably admit to. When my husband got home, I made him watch as I flipped the pages to make the illustrations look animated. He even had to chuckle a little and admit that it was "pretty good."
I really, really enjoyed this and recommend it for parents who don't mind the potty humor. For parents struggling to find books for their sons to read, this would be a great one to try. ...more
Elliot somehow finds himself appointed King of the Brownies (not the kind you eat--the kind that likes to clean your house as you sleep. I'd be happyElliot somehow finds himself appointed King of the Brownies (not the kind you eat--the kind that likes to clean your house as you sleep. I'd be happy with either of them in my house). He first came to the Brownies' attention after he saved one of them from some evil Goblins on Halloween night. That night, Elliot also started a war between the Brownies and the Goblins, so I guess it's only fair that he has to lead the Brownies. The problem is that the Brownies have no concept of how war should work. They just go about their business as usual, expecting to be eaten or scared to death by a Goblin at any minute. Well, Elliot might be young, but he knows that something has to change.
This was cute. It really was. My biggest problem was the frequent breaks for "Now, Reader, if you don't like to read about people being scared to death, you might want to stop reading right here. For serious. You've been warned. The last person who continued reading was eaten by a platypus." (Paraphrased) It was kind of funny the first time or two, but it seemed like there was one of these in every chapter. Kids might like it, but I thought it got tedious.
Other than that, it was a fun little story. Elliott and the Brownies (sounds like a pop group from the '50's) got themselves into some tight spots, but it was amusing to see how the Goblins mostly managed to defeat themselves. I have to own up to a very juvenile sense of humor when it comes to smelly feet jokes and the like, so I actually thought it was pretty funny in parts.
I really liked that hidden inside this fun little story was a message about bullies and finding the strength to stand up for yourself. That doesn't mean fighting, but it does mean drawing the line. There's even a bit about forgiveness and second chances.
Recommended for the 9-12 year olds who can appreciate the humor....more