75 Books...More or Less! discussion

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Archive (2016 GR Completed) > Elyse's 150-Book Challenge!

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message 1: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
I had to modify 2015's challenge to 150 from 175 even though I cracked 200 in 2014! But times have changed and habits have changed. I *wish* I were reading more but I find myself watching TV more and dabbling in PC games again. There isn't enough time for everything! So I'm shooting for 150 in 2016. Hope to see everyone on the other side!


message 2: by Andrea, Moderator (new)

Andrea | 4115 comments Mod
I think 150 is still an amazing goal! I don't watch a lot of TV but I do have a few shows I like. It's also some nice down time I can spend with my husband. I also like to play some games like Candy Crush and scrapbooking when I can. We all need some healthy balance for all of the things that we love. I think when we do too much of just one thing we get burnt out or we start missing out on other forms of enjoyment.


message 3: by Elyse, Moderator (last edited Jan 04, 2016 05:46PM) (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
1. The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury The Forbidden Wish - Jessica Khoury 4/5

Penguin First to Read ARC.

"When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years -- a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes. 


But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?
As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury."


I really enjoyed this Aladdin retelling. There was nothing cheesy or overplayed about it. And there was quite a bit of originality. The jinn history and Nardukha were really interesting and Zahra's past, slowly given to you throughout the book, was fascinating. I liked the twist on the Forbidden Wish. Overall, great retelling.

Good first of the year read!


message 4: by Elyse, Moderator (last edited Jan 05, 2016 07:06AM) (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
2. Oh Myyy! by George Takei Oh Myyy! - There Goes the Internet (Life, the Internet, and Everything #1) - George Takei 4/5

Kindle Unlimited.

"How did a 75-year old actor from Star Trek become a social media juggernaut? Why does everything he posts spread like wildfire across the ether, with tens or even hundreds of thousands of likes and shares? And what can other sites, celebrities and companies do to attain his stratospheric engagement levels, which hover or top 100 percent while theirs languish in the single digits?
Read about George Takei’s meteoric rise and dominance of the Internet in Oh Myyy (There Goes the Internet), published of course in electronic format.
In this groundbreaking, hilarious and informative book, Takei recounts his experiences on platforms such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, where fans and pundits alike have crowned him King. He muses about everything from the nature of viral sharing, to the taming of Internet trolls, to why Yoda, bacon and cats are such popular memes. Takei isn’t afraid to tell it likes he sees it, and to engage the reader just as he does his legions of fans.
Both provokingly thoughtful and wickedly funny, Oh Myyy! captures and comments upon the quirky nature of our plugged-in culture. With Takei’s conversational yet authoritative style, peppered with some of his favorite images from the web, readers should be prepared to LOL, even as they can’t help but hear his words in their heads in that unmistakable, deep bass."


George Takei is hilarious. And I love to see that he is 100% involved in his social media accounts. It's not a assistant or an imposter, it's really George Takei! His interns may pick ages to share, but text posts are solely Mr. Takei. This book was pretty funny. I definitely enjoyed the random memes and Facebook posts scattered throughout. The whole Facebook Promoted Pages chapter was a bit much but I can see why he felt the need to explain himself.


message 5: by Charleen (new)

Charleen (charleenlynette) | 1527 comments George Takei is great. Always makes me smile when I see him in something.


message 6: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
3. Lions and Tigers and Bears (The Internet Strikes Back) (Life, the Internet and Everything) by George Takei Lions and Tigers and Bears - The Internet Strikes Back (Life, the Internet, and Everything #2) - George Takei 3/5

Kindle Unlimited.

"George Takei is the undisputed King of Facebook, with millions of fans liking, commenting and sharing his posts each week. Following on his best-selling Oh Myyy (There Goes the Internet), in this second book Takei caps another year at the top of the Internet, with more hilarious compilations and commentary on the best memes in the galaxy, covering everything from Admiral Ackbar to Siri to Grumpy Cat.
But his reign isn't all fun and LOLs. In this groundbreaking book, Takei also chronicles the "dark side" of the Net - how he has battled the haters, spammers and trolls, and even how some of his once-loyal fans were quick to turn on him. Takei's musings on the nature of our increasingly connected world - why people share, what it really means, and how the developing world actually gets how to use social media - is required reading for anyone trying to understand and leverage its power.
Takei has used his own vast powers as a social medialite for the good of humanity, taking on the forces of inequality and oppression both at home and in far flung lands like Putin's Russia, proving that "Uncle George" is not just fabulously funny, but fantastically fierce.
Oh Myyy. Indeed."


Still funny but George, you're repeating yourself. He tells the some of the same anecdotes in both books. Also, it feels like he's super on the offensive with this book. He has an explanation for EVERYTHING whereas in Oh Myyy! it was more just straight funny stuff. This book wasn't as funny and innocent as the first book. A little disappointed. Though the Facebook algorithm was interesting.


message 7: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
4. The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1) by Rick Yancey The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave #1) - Rick Yancey 4/5

E-Book Purchase.

"After the 1st wave, only darkness remains.
After the 2nd, only the lucky escape.
And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive.
After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up."


This was a rollercoaster of a book. Told in multiple POVs though they lacked some individuality. Cassie reads the same as Evan reads the same as five-year-old Sammy, etc. That was a little disappointing. Sammy's POV was sometimes too adult to be from a five-year-old's perspective. But a day after finishing the book, it's still running through my mind. When I go to read the book I'm currently reading, I'm still thinking about The 5th Wave. Must read The Infinite Sea ASAP!


message 8: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
5. Macbeth by A.J. Hartley Macbeth - A. J. Hartley & David Hewson 5/5

Audible Audiobook.

"Macbeth: A Novel brings the intricacy and grit of the historical thriller to Shakespeare’s tale of political intrigue, treachery, and murder. In this full-length novel written exclusively for audio, authors A. J. Hartley and David Hewson rethink literature’s most infamous married couple, grounding them in a medieval Scotland whose military and political upheavals are as stark and dramatic as the landscape on which they are played.
Macbeth is a war hero and a patriot, doing everything in his power to hold together Duncan’s crumbling kingdom, which is beset by sedition from within and with threats from overseas. But when Duncan, contrary to ancient Scottish tradition, turns to building a family dynasty instead of rewarding those who have borne the brunt of the fighting, Macbeth and his powerful wife, Skena, make plans of their own, plans designed to hold both the nation and their strained relationship together. Sinister figures who claim supernatural knowledge spur them on, but the terrible outcome is as much about accident and failure as it is malevolence. Soon Macbeth and his wife find themselves preeminent in all the land, but struggling to hold themselves and their country together as former friends turn into bitter and deadly enemies.
This is Macbeth as you have not heard it before: fresh, edgy, and vital. It is a story of valor in battle, whispering in shadows, witchcraft in the hollows of an ancient landscape, and the desperate struggle of flawed people to do what they think is right."


Alan Cumming has such a charming and entrancing voice. It doesn't matter if he's talking about chopping off heads, it's still so pleasurable to listen to! I haven't read Shakespeare's Macbeth so I have nothing to compare this to but I thought it was great. The storytelling was gritty and real. Everything was phenomenal and I was so immersed in the story. Makes me want to see the new Macbeth movie with Michael Fassbender. A. J. Hartley and David Hewson need to do this with all of Shakespeare's works! I found Hamlet so I'm pretty excited to listen to that!


message 9: by Elyse, Moderator (last edited Jan 15, 2016 04:47PM) (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
6. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang - Chelsea Handler 3/5

Audible Audiobook.

"Get ready for big laughs as Chelsea Handler lets loose with more comic personal essays. In this new, no-holds-barred account of life on the ridiculous side, Chelsea mines the wealth of material that is her family, her sex life, her career, and her distinctively outrageous worldview. Here is young Chelsea discovering "The Feeling" during a third-grade sleepover and getting shafted by clueless parents over Cabbage Patch dolls...and grown-up Chelsea at the mercy of the remote control, Lean Pockets, and Sex and the City --but still managing to convince her boyfriend that there are Swiss Army knives in the soles of her $16,000 shoes. Through it all, Chelsea never lets anyone off the hook, even herself, as she delivers page after page of irreverent humor, biting wit, and deliciously off-kilter entertainment."

A barrel of laughs but some of the same anecdotes we've heard before. Lies Chelsea Handler Told Me was written after this one but I read/listened in the opposite order. Still, same stories. It was short and wasn't anything special but at least it was funny.


message 10: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
7. A Cold Legacy (The Madman's Daughter, #3) by Megan Shepherd A Cold Legacy (The Madman's Daughter #3) - Megan Shepherd 4/5

E-Book Purchase.

"After killing the men who tried to steal her father's research, Juliet and her friends have escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune tellers who seem to know Juliet's secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor's walls.
Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor's long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she'll follow her father's dark footsteps or her mother's tragic ones, or whether she'll make her own."


In the finale to Megan Shepherd's Madman's Daughter trilogy, Frankenstein is being channeled. Juliet, Montgomery, Lucy, Edward, and Balthazar have finally escaped London and are hoping to live out their days at Elizabeth von Stein's manor, Ballentyne. Unfortunately, the chaos isn't over and they're still being chased. I was sad to see this storyline end, the reinventions of classics was interesting with such a heroine in Juliet. It was a good ride and I'm interested in reading Shepeherd's new series!


message 11: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
8. The Fugitive (Lorien Legacies The Lost Files, #10) by Pittacus Lore The Fugitive (Lorien Legacies: The Lost Files #10) - Pittacus Lore 5/5

E-Book Purchase.

"In this exhilarating one-hundred-page companion novella to the New York Times bestselling I Am Number Four series, Mark James is on the run—and on the wrong side of the law—but he'll do whatever it takes to save Sarah Hart and help the Garde.
A sequel to I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: Return to Paradise, this novella picks up with Mark racing to Dulce, New Mexico, evading capture from both the Mogadorians and the FBI. On the road, his mysterious new ally—a fellow blogger from They Walk Among Us who Mark knows only by the screen name GUARD—sends him a care package to help in his quest to find Sarah. Inside is a stack of cash, high-tech equipment, and some seriously advanced weaponry, all begging Mark to once again ask the question: Just who exactly is this guy? As Mark gets closer to tracking down Sarah, he also gets closer to discovering the identity of this enigmatic figure who seems to know so much about the Loric. When the truth about GUARD is finally revealed, nothing will ever be the same."


Finally catching up on the last few Lorien novellas before the final book comes out in a few months! Mark doesn't have a huge part in the novels but he does a lot of behind the scenes work which is nice to see through the novellas. He became a good ally even though he was a jock asshole in the first book. A refreshing switcheroo!


message 12: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
9. The Navigator (Lorien Legacies The Lost Files #11) by Pittacus Lore The Navigator (Lorien Legacies: The Lost Files #11) - Pittacus Lore 5/5

E-Book Purchase.

"The Garde think they are the last of the Loric people. But they are wrong. They have forgotten all about the crew that brought them to Earth. Where have the pilots for both ships been all these years? And why haven't they joined in the fight against the Mogs? In The Navigator, discover the truth behind their escape from Lorien and what happened to them after they arrived on our planet."

I loved this!! I would've loved a whole book about Lexa! You get to see so much more on Lorien and who else made it to Earth. This is a great addition to the Lorien Legacies series!


message 13: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
10. Bream Gives Me Hiccups by Jesse Eisenberg Bream Gives Me Hiccups - Jesse Eisenberg 3/5

Audible Audiobook.

"Taking its title from a group of stories that begin the book, Bream Gives Me Hiccups moves from contemporary LA to the dorm rooms of an American college to ancient Pompeii, throwing the reader into a universe of social misfits, reimagined scenes from history, and ridiculous overreactions. In one piece, a tense email exchange between a young man and his girlfriend is taken over by his sister, who is obsessed with the Bosnian genocide ("The situation reminds me of a little historical blip called the Karadordevo agreement"); in another, a college freshman forced to live with a roommate is stunned when one of her ramen packets goes missing ("She didn't have one of my ramens. She had a chicken ramen"); in another piece Alexander Graham Bell has teething problems with his invention ("I've been calling Mabel all day, she doesn't pick up! Yes, of course I dialed the right number-two!")."

I don't know about some of these stories. I liked the restaurant reviews written by a 9-year-old. They were pretty descriptive of his life while also reviewing the restaurants. Pretty funny. The Marxist Socialist jokes I didn't get. The section with letters from Harper to Miss Rita her guidance counselor were pretty terrible. Overall, meh. Nothing spectacular. I thought this was a memoir but it's just a collection of random stories that didn't have any cohesion. I give the narration a 4 and the stories a 2 so I decided on a 3.


message 14: by Elyse, Moderator (last edited Jan 24, 2016 07:45AM) (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
11. Consent by Nancy Ohlin Consent - Nancy Ohlin 2/5

Read for free on Simon & Schuster's pulseit.com!

"An intense—and passionate—bond between a high school senior and her music teacher becomes a public scandal that threatens the reputation of both.
Bea has a secret.
Actually, she has more than one. There’s her dream for the future that she can’t tell anyone—not her father and not even her best friend, Plum.
And now there’s Dane Rossi. Dane is hot, he shares Bea’s love of piano, and he believes in her.
He’s also Bea’s teacher.
When their passion for music crosses into passion for each other, Bea finds herself falling completely for Dane. She’s never felt so wanted, so understood, so known to her core. But the risk of discovery carries unexpected surprises that could shake Bea entirely. Bea must piece together what is and isn’t true about Dane, herself, and the most intense relationship she’s ever experienced."


Not a whole lot of substance. Very loose plot. Kind of boring. Why can't a grown man show restraint? That's pathetic and disgusting. Teenagers are hormonal bags of lust but c'mon, why is this happening? Why are adults doing this, taking advantage of teenagers? Sometimes these things are made up by the teenager and that's even more bullshit. But this should not be happening. I don't believe it's love but if it is, geez it can wait! Bea was months from turning eighteen. Get over yourself and control yourself. Overcome with lust, that's pathetic and despicable. And then the way it all ended? That's how fickle a teenage is and WHY you shouldn't get into this to begin with. Obviously not the only reason.


message 15: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
12. Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova Inside the O'Briens - Lisa Genova 4/5

NetGalley ARC.

"Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.
Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?
As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate."


Still Alice was a hard book to read and so was this. Genova really knows how to humanize a disease and make you feel like they are your family member and you're involved in this struggle. It hurts that Joe blames himself for having HD and possibly passing it to his children. Dude, it's not your fault, you didn't do this on purpose and neither did your mother. The guilt that Joe feels is so heavy. I didn't like the ending. But overall it was a really good book dealing with a really difficult disease. It shows the power and strength of familial bonds.


message 16: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
13. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari Modern Romance: An Investigation - Aziz Ansari 4/5

Audible Audiobook.

"At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?
But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.
For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before."


I've been with my husband for 10 years and am happy to not be single in today's dating world. I don't envy the struggle of singles today! It seems really difficult! Though I've never been single as a true adult, I met my husband when I was 18 and have been with him ever since. So I can't really relate much to this book but Aziz Ansari did a great job talking about this subject. He injects a lot of awesome humor, it would not nearly be as funny just reading it. The audiobook is a must.


message 17: by Charleen (new)

Charleen (charleenlynette) | 1527 comments Elyse, I've read all of Lisa Genova's books, and I felt like this one got back to so much of what I loved about Still Alice. I thought the ending fit the story really well, but of course I still wanted to know more!


message 18: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
Charleen wrote: "Elyse, I've read all of Lisa Genova's books, and I felt like this one got back to so much of what I loved about Still Alice. I thought the ending fit the story really well, but of course I still wa..."

Yeah, I like to know all answers by the time I finish a book and this didn't happen! I've read Still Alice and Inside the O'Briens and I own Love, Anthony and Left Neglected. I need some lighter reads before I dig into those!


message 19: by JanB (new)

JanB  | 980 comments Elyse, I really enjoy Lisa Genova's books, some more than others and this was one of my favorites. She certainly has the credentials to write them and her ability to humanize the diseases makes them so readable. I wish she'd write faster!
I'm thinking Modern Romance might be a good book for my daughter :)


message 20: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
Elyse wrote: "12. Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova Inside the O'Briens - Lisa Genova 4/5

NetGalley ARC.

"Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Char..."


I forgot to mention that my in-laws (mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt!) and I have created a book club and this was our first novel, which was great because I already had it from NetGalley and really needed to get around to reading it! We're all in different parts of the northeast so we're book clubbing via e-mail and phone! It's more fun than I thought it would be. ;) Our next book is The Bean Trees, which is also already in my TBR! :)


message 21: by JanB (new)

JanB  | 980 comments Elyse, what a fun idea. You chose great books too. I enjoyed both of them!


message 22: by Elyse, Moderator (last edited Jan 29, 2016 07:48AM) (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
JanB wrote: "Elyse, what a fun idea. You chose great books too. I enjoyed both of them!"

Yes, my mother-in-law chose Inside the O'Briens and my aunt-in-law just chose The Bean Trees. We're each choosing a book and I haven't decided what I'll pick yet! Maybe a Liane Moriarty or a Susanna Kearsley, neither of which I've read but are in my TBR.


message 23: by JanB (new)

JanB  | 980 comments Elyse, I've read both and IMO the Moriarty books would make for better discussions.


message 24: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
Great, thanks for the tip! :)


message 25: by Elyse, Moderator (last edited Jun 05, 2016 07:52AM) (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
14. Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius Anne and Henry - Dawn Ius 2/5

Read for free on Simon & Schuster's pulseit.com!

"In this wonderfully creative retelling of the infamous—and torrid—love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, history collides with the present when a sizzling romance ignites in a modern-day high school.
Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.
Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.
Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.
Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?
Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry beautifully reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time."


I loved the last sentence. I was very curious how Ius would end the book, we all know the fate of Anne Boleyn, and it was a creative ending. The rest of it was kind of annoying, boring. Modern-day high school is such a blah time period. Very teeny bopper book. But interesting take.


message 26: by Elyse, Moderator (last edited Jan 30, 2016 04:04PM) (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
15. One More Thing Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories - B. J. Novak 4/5

Audible Audiobook.

"B. J. Novak's One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is an endlessly entertaining, surprisingly sensitive, and startlingly original debut collection that signals the arrival of a welcome new voice in American fiction.
Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, Novak's assured prose and expansive imagination introduce readers to people, places, and premises that are hilarious, insightful, provocative, and moving-often at the same time.
In One More Thing, a boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes - only to discover that claiming the winnings may unravel his family. A woman sets out to seduce motivational speaker Tony Robbins - turning for help to the famed motivator himself. A school principal unveils a bold plan to permanently abolish arithmetic. An acclaimed ambulance driver seeks the courage to follow his heart and throw it all away to be a singer-songwriter. Author John Grisham contemplates a monumental typo. A new arrival in heaven, overwhelmed by infinite options, procrastinates over his long-ago promise to visit his grandmother. We meet a vengeance-minded hare, obsessed with scoring a rematch against the tortoise who ruined his life; and post-college friends who debate how to stage an intervention in the era of Facebook. We learn why wearing a red t-shirt every day is the key to finding love; how February got its name; and why the stock market is sometimes just...down."


This was a very quirky set of short stories. I liked that some of them had connections to others but were not placed one after the other in the book. Some stories were long, some were one sentence. There was a lot of tongue-in-cheek and some stories you had to think about for a minute. I enjoyed the audiobook and the wide array of guest narrators was fun!


message 27: by Elyse, Moderator (last edited Feb 03, 2016 04:25PM) (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
16. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern Sh*t My Dad Says (Sh*t My Dad Says #1) - Justin Halpern 4/5

Audible Audiobook.

"After being dumped by his longtime girlfriend, twenty-eight-year-old Justin Halpern found himself living at home with his seventy-three-year-old dad. Sam Halpern, who is "like Socrates, but angrier, and with worse hair," has never minced words, and when Justin moved back home, he began to record all the ridiculous things his dad said to him:
"That woman was sexy...Out of your league? Son, let women figure out why they won't screw you. Don't do it for them."

"Do people your age know how to comb their hair? It looks like two squirrels crawled on their heads and started fucking."

"The worst thing you can be is a liar...Okay, fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but then number two is liar. Nazi one, liar two."
An all-American story that unfolds on the Little League field, in Denny's, during excruciating family road trips, and, most frequently, in the Halperns' kitchen over bowls of Grape-Nuts, Sh*t My Dad Says is a chaotic, hilarious, true portrait of a father-son relationship from a major new comic voice."


If you don't like swears, don't read a book called Sh*t My Dad Says. There is a lot of swearing. That being said, this was a surprisingly endearing book! A mix of one-liners on every topic you could think of and anecdotes of Halpern's childhood, you get a real sense of Mr. Halpern. And you feel how much he loves his son and his whole family. I was surprised to have tears in my eyes at the last chapter! And they weren't tears of laughter, though I did laugh out loud a few times. This gruff, crass, manly man is a teddy bear for his family and it's a sweet book.


message 28: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
17. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (The Tales of Dunk and Egg, #1-3) by George R.R. Martin A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: Being the Adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall and his Squire, Egg (Tales of Dunk & Egg #1-3) 4/5

Library E-Book.

"Taking place nearly a century before the events of A Game of Thrones, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms compiles the first three official prequel novellas to George R. R. Martin’s ongoing masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire. These never-before-collected adventures recount an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living consciousness.
Before Tyrion Lannister and Podrick Payne, there was Dunk and Egg. A young, naïve but ultimately courageous hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall towers above his rivals—in stature if not experience. Tagging along is his diminutive squire, a boy called Egg—whose true name is hidden from all he and Dunk encounter. Though more improbable heroes may not be found in all of Westeros, great destinies lay ahead for these two...as do powerful foes, royal intrigue, and outrageous exploits."


I read The Hedge Knight as a graphic novel in 2014 and re-read it in this because I gave graphic novels a chance and they're just not my thing. I can't focus well enough, there's not enough story for me. So I was familiar with the first story and enjoyed it more as a novelization. Dunk and Egg go on some adventures and get into some slippery spots but they make a great team and I could've kept on reading their tales! It's pretty far removed from A Song of Ice and Fire. Though Aemon Targaryen is mentioned as entering the maesterhood, this would be Maester Aemon of the Night's Watch with Jon Snow at the Wall. So Maester Aemon was over 100 years old!


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18. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver The Bean Trees (Greer Family #1) - Barbara Kingsolver 4/5

Library E-Book.

"Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, Arizona, she has acquired a completely unexpected child, a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places."

This is the second book chosen for my in-law book club and it was a good choice. Taylor is a small-town girl whose never seen the world so when she decides to leave Kentucky, everything surprises her. And most surprising of all, a woman leaves a child with Taylor! Taylor thinks she had it bad until she met people worse off than her. She learns to appreciated what she has. Taylor, Turtle, Lou Ann, and Dwayne Ray make quite the foursome but they're all each other needs. Along with Mattie, Estevan, Esperanza, Edna, and Virginia May, Taylor and Lou Ann get through the curves that life keeps throwing at them. My heart hurt multiple times for little Turtle. I definitely want to read the sequel.


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19. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman 5/5

Audible Audiobook.

"Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.
Fredrik Backman's novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others."


Oova. I've been thinking of it as Ove like overt but it's pronounced Oova. Oh the wonder of audiobooks! Ove is an asshole. He's the meanest grumpiest curmudgeon of them all. He makes the Grinch look like a sweetheart. Throughout A Man Called Ove, you learn how Ove got to be this way. And you learn what it takes to make Ove's heart grow three times in size! Fredrik Backman has a amazing gift of getting readers to fully, wholeheartedly invest in his characters. And I love his use of animals and their tie-in. Ove made me laugh, Ove made me cry, Ove made me yell at him!! I loved this book and I love Fredrik Backman's writing. 2 for 2! Keep writing! I did find it weird that we never find out the name of Parvana and Patrick's 7/8-year-old daughter...


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Andrea | 4115 comments Mod
I love when I see how much other people also love Lisa Genova. She is truly a gifted writer! It's extra fun for me because she lives in Massachusetts so I often can identify places she is writing about even when she renames them.


message 32: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
Andrea wrote: "I love when I see how much other people also love Lisa Genova. She is truly a gifted writer! It's extra fun for me because she lives in Massachusetts so I often can identify places she is writing a..."

And I'm just over the border so I feel the same way! :)


message 33: by Andrea, Moderator (new)

Andrea | 4115 comments Mod
Right!!! :)


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Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
20. Violent Ends by Shaun David Hutchinson Violent Ends - Shaun David Hutchinson, et. al. 4/5

Read for free on Simon & Schuster's pulseit.com!

"It took only twenty-two minutes for Kirby Matheson to exit his car, march onto school grounds, enter the gymnasium, and open fire, killing six and injuring five others.
But this isn't a story about the shooting itself. This isn't about recounting that one unforgettable day.
This is about Kirby and how one boy—who had friends, enjoyed reading, played saxophone in the band, and had never been in trouble before—became a monster capable of entering his school with a loaded gun and firing on his classmates.
Each chapter is told from a different victim's viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he'd become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties.
This is a book of perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—from the minds of some of YA's most recognizable names."


This was a very interesting story. Each chapter is by a different author and a different perspective to all come to the same end, the school shooting. I thought it was really creatively done. Some stories were better than others, some more relatable, but it all came together well.


message 35: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
Big happenings in my life as of late. We sold our house. Moving out Feb 29. We'll be at my brother's house for a month. Closing on our NEW house Apr 4. Leaving for Hawaii Apr 7 and not returning until Apr 24! So yeah. Busy busy! I'll be around here and there but might not be putting up any reviews, just logging my books! :)


message 36: by ❤Marie (new)

❤Marie Gentilcore (rachelx) | 99 comments Congrats on your new home!


message 37: by Andrea, Moderator (new)

Andrea | 4115 comments Mod
Elyse, are you still in NH?


message 38: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
Thank you, Marie!

Yes, Andrea, we're still in NH. We just got 15 minutes closer to Keene where my husband works. And upgraded on the house a bit. :)


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21. The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) by Libba Bray The Diviners (The Diviners #1) - Libba Bray 3/5

E-Book Purchase.

"Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It's 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfield girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her Uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he'll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened..."


This book was long and it felt long for the first part. I kept losing interest in it and felt like I was never making any progress. I ended up putting it aside and reading other books but I finally decided to dig in and plow through it. It finally picked up more than halfway through and then I couldn't put it down. But that doesn't make up for the painful first half. I absolutely loved the Gemma Doyle trilogy and had high hopes for this one. I was disappointed but I already have Lair of Dreams thanks to NetGalley so I'll probably be reading it. Hopefully it's more fast-paced than The Diviners.


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22. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows 5/5

Library Audiobook.

""I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb...
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends--and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society--born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island--boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.
Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society's members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever."


What a delightful, charming little book of letters! When I started it, I could not see why so many people loved it. I had a hard time getting into it, maybe because of the letter format. I would've given it a 3 at the beginning. But by the end I was sold. I was so invested in these letters, Guernsey, and the people who lived there. I loved them all. There's a story within the story and these characters are so quaint and cute.


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23. Trigger Warning Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances - Neil Gaiman 4/5

Library Audiobook.

"In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction--stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013--as well "Black Dog," a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.
Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In "Adventure Story"--a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane--Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience "A Calendar of Tales" are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year--stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother's Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale "The Case of Death and Honey". And "Click-Clack the Rattlebag" explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we're all alone in the darkness."


I'm going to have to read this as some point. I couldn't stay focused on some of the stories in the audiobook and I really wanted to pay attention! Neil Gaiman's narrating was pretty quiet and hard to hear, even at higher volumes. The stories I did catch all of were really good! The Dr. Who story was awesome. Click-Clack the Rattlebag was creepy. The Sherlock Holmes story was a little confusing. Overall, a great collection that I will definitely read or skim at some point.


message 42: by Carol (new)

Carol (carol07) | 2852 comments Elyse wrote: "22. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows 5/5

Library Audiobook.

""I wonder ho..."


I had a hard time getting into it, too, but ended up sticking it out and loving it.


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24. Troublemaker Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology - Leah Remini 4/5

Audible Audiobook.

"Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost.
That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices.
Indoctrinated into the church as a child while living with her mother and sister in New York, Remini eventually moved to Los Angeles, where her dreams of becoming an actress and advancing Scientology’s causes grew increasingly intertwined. As an adult, she found the success she’d worked so hard for, and with it a prominent place in the hierarchy of celebrity Scientologists alongside people such as Tom Cruise, Scientology’s most high-profile adherent. Remini spent time directly with Cruise and was included among the guests at his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes.
But when she began to raise questions about some of the church’s actions, she found herself a target. In the end, she was declared by the church to be a threat to their organization and therefore a “Suppressive Person,” and as a result, all of her fellow parishioners—including members of her own family—were told to disconnect from her. Forever."


Leah Remini is a no holds barred, tell it like it is kind of woman. I love her. She's hilarious and blunt and bold. She speaks her mind, no matter who's listening. She is not the type of person Scientology EVER recruits. Cults like sheep. They do not like thinkers. She's got the biggest tough girl Brooklyn accent and attitude but she's a real softie. This book was really interesting. It's so sad to see the brainwashing that goes on, in all organized religion. Leah shows how much shit she went through over the 30 years she was a Scientologist and how the "devotion" of people she knew and loved and grew up with turned their backs on her when she became "disillusioned." I'm sorry but loyalty to religion is NOT more important than loyalty to family. There needs to be more books like Troublemaker and Jenna Miscavige Hill's Beyond Belief.


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25. Zeroes (Zeroes, #1) by Scott Westerfeld Zeroes (Zeroes #1) - Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, & Deborah Biancotti 4/5

Library E-Book.

"Don’t call them heroes.
But these six Californian teens have powers that set them apart. They can do stuff ordinary people can’t.
Take Ethan, a.k.a. Scam. He’s got a voice inside him that’ll say whatever you want to hear, whether it’s true or not. Which is handy, except when it isn’t—like when the voice starts gabbing in the middle of a bank robbery. The only people who can help are the other Zeroes, who aren’t exactly best friends these days.
Enter Nate, a.k.a. Bellwether, the group’s “glorious leader.” After Scam’s SOS, he pulls the scattered Zeroes back together. But when the rescue blows up in their faces, the Zeroes find themselves propelled into whirlwind encounters with ever more dangerous criminals. And at the heart of the chaos they find Kelsie, who can take a crowd in the palm of her hand and tame it or let it loose as she pleases."


I enjoyed this new Westerfeld (and two other authors I've never heard of) endeavor. A little Heroes-ish but I liked the difference in their powers. They didn't have your run-of-the-mill superpowers like flying. I liked all of the Zeroes, for various reasons. I liked Flicker and Anonymous the most. Not sure why! But I can't wait for the second book! Will they find more like them?!


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26. Coraline by Neil Gaiman Coraline - Neil Gaiman 4/5

Library Audiobook.

"Coraline's often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.
Gaiman has delivered a wonderfully chilling novel, subtle yet intense on many levels. The line between pleasant and horrible is often blurred until what's what becomes suddenly clear, and like Coraline, we resist leaving this strange world until we're hooked. Coraline is otherworldly storytelling at its best."


I saw the movie but didn't read the book until now. Or listen to it rather. It was as creepy as the movie! I enjoy Gaiman's children's books more than his adult books. He does childish fears very well.


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Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
27. Arena by Holly Jennings Arena - Holly Jennings 4/5

Penguin First-to-Read ARC.

"Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV.
She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier...
The RAGE tournaments—the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator—leading a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.
And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.
Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world—until one of her teammates overdoses. Now, she must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game—and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.
The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside..."


I was immediately pulled in to the fast-paced action right from the start. This was a cool, futuristic story where eSports are HUGE. Which may be in our near distant future. Kali is captain of her team and she's having a hard time dealing with her boyfriend's death. I liked Kali. I thought she was a very strong female lead and a powerful character. I liked the Taoist principles brought forth in this book and the bonds Kali and her team created. I was a fan of the slow burn relationship. No insta-love. And no love triangle! I rally enjoyed this book and am looking for a sequel!


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Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
28. The Rosie Project (Don Tillman, #1) by Graeme Simsion The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1) - Graeme Simsion 4/5

E-Book Purchase.

"Narrator Don Tillman 39, Melbourne genetics prof and Gregory Peck lookalike, sets a 16-page questionnaire The Wife Project to find a non-smoker, non-drinker ideal match. But Rosie and her Father Project supersede. The spontaneous always-late smoker-drinker wants to find her biological father. She resets his clock, throws off his schedule, and turns his life topsy-turvy."

This was the third pick for my in-law book club and was my choice! I owned it but hadn't gotten around to reading it yet, like many purchases. Glad I picked it! I thoroughly enjoyed Don Tillman in all his irritating glory. I find it surprising that Simsion had no intention of claiming Don as autistic or with Asperger's. I definitely felt like he was pushing the reader to make those conclusions and in fact, pushing Don to make those conclusions about himself right from the beginning of the book when Don takes on Gene's Asperger's lecture! But this is supposedly not the case. This is supposedly how many doctors and scientists behave! Rigid structure of time and schedules, social awkwardness, etc. Don did everything wrong and yet managed to do so much right. One project became another project, unbeknownst to him. Can't wait to read the sequel, I'm very curious where it's going to go!


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Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
29. Love Life by Rob Lowe Love Life - Rob Lowe 4/5

Audible Audiobook.

"Actor Rob Lowe is an entertaining raconteur whose bestselling first book, Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography, was hailed as “self-deprecatingly funny” (The New York Times) and “thoroughly entertaining” (Time) and earned the author the cover of Vanity Fair. Love Life serves up another delicious selection of intimate stories and observations from Lowe’s life, told with humor, warmth, and brutal honesty. After writing his acclaimed debut effort, Lowe felt he had more stories to share and many more friends to introduce. The result is a touching memoir about the business and craft of acting, the pitfalls of success, family, love, and much more.
Among the many adventures Lowe describes in Love Life are what it’s like in the trenches as both the star and producer of a flop TV show; how a visit, as a twenty year old, to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion led to a surprise in the hot tub; how an actor prepares for a role, as well as the practical, boots-on-the-ground details no drama or film school would ever teach you. You’ll delight at the hilarious account of the time a major movie star stole his girlfriend, and of coaching a kid’s basketball team dominated by omnipresent helicopter parents. The story of coming to terms with his son’s departure to college for the education his father never got will touch anyone with a family."


This was just as good as Stories I Only Tell My Friends. You get a bigger glimpse into Rob Lowe's life and you see how regular and normal he really is. He's head over heels for his family and has been sober for 23 years. He's got some great stories to tell. I enjoy his acting very much and everything he seems like, he is. Rob is genuine and humble and sweet and funny and open. Good book!


message 49: by Carol (new)

Carol (carol07) | 2852 comments Elyse wrote: "29. Love Life by Rob Lowe Love Life - Rob Lowe 4/5

Audible Audiobook.

"Actor Rob Lowe is an entertaining raconteur whose bestselling first book, Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobi..."


I loved his books, too. I am so glad he is still acting. Am watching him in "You, me, and the Apocalypse". It is very enjoyable.


message 50: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7806 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "I loved his books, too. I am so glad he is still acting. Am watching him in "You, me, and the Apocalypse". It is very enjoyable."

Yes, I've been watching that as well. And was pretty shocked by that episode 2 weeks ago!! I like him on The Grinder too. Before Parks and Recreation, I didn't know he had a funny side!!


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