Review(ish) – Yes Please

Sometime last year, my two besties from high school (and loyal GIAO readers!) and I started talking about reading a book together to discuss and review. Initially, that book was going to be Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices. Then, we took it down a few notches and decided to read Amy Poehler’s Yes Please together.

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This led to a series of texts and emails over a few weeks about the book, about the virtues of reading, and about coolness. Reading is obviously a pretty solitary activity, but discussing a book with friends can be all sorts of fun. I highly recommend it (and guys, let’s do it again!).

So, here’s what we thought about the book (texts and messages have been edited to sound way more put together than the conversation actually was. My buddies are Bestie 1 and Bestie 2 – they are both brilliant and hilarious.

H: How’s the book going?

Bestie 1: I’m about halfway through – she is funny, but I can’t stop comparing it in my mind to Tina Fey’s book which I thought was funnier. Not a fair comparison, but that’s what’s happening.

H: I am also comparing to Tina Fey, but not sure who wins the comparison yet. I noticed they are both no dummies: UVA and Boston College. With Bossypants, I sort of regretted that I never watched 30 Rock and am now sort of regretting not watching Parks and Rec.

Bestie 2: Interjection: Amy Poehler has a site called Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls that posts cool stuff women achieve worldwide. Also, I have spent more time in the past 12 months reading other women’s advice than is really necessary: Sonya Sotomayor, Ariana Huffington, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton (albeit indirectly), Tina Fey, Rachel Maddow, Mindy Kaling. I’m sure I’ve got more.

Bestie 1: Half the point of reading is to understand people and who they are and what they did to make them who they are so I would say it was all time well spent.

[Break for messages about when we can all get together for a weekend. Insert note from #2 –  For-freaking-ever H lived on the East Coast near Bestie 1, but she recently came to her senses and moved back to the Midwest where Bestie 2 lives.  Bestie 2 is ridiculously excited about this because now we can force Bestie 1 to come visit and freeze her ass off in the 11 months of the year it is cold here.]

Bestie 1: Things I have thought while reading Yes Please: Amy Poehler is cool. I wish Amy Poehler would stop trying to convince me she is cool. I wish Amy Poehler was as cool as Tina Fey. I wish Amy Poehler was as cool about her coolness as Tina Fey. I wish I was as cool as either one of them.

Bestie 2: She’s also more blatant about her messages than Tina – Say what you want, like who likes you, etc. Tina more told parables that were entertaining along the way that you enjoyed reaching the moral of the story.

[Break for messages about bread, cheese, and wine — in copious amounts. Priorities.]

H (the open-minded optimist): I am 40% done with the book and I don’t feel like Amy is overselling her coolness really. Hmmm.

Bestie 2 (in a moment of delusion): She’s growing on me.

Bestie 1 (always agreeable): I have also turned around on the book – I am almost done now and the final third warmed me back up to who I thought she would be. Not that I was ever really not enjoying it.

[Break for messages about Bestie 2’s new puppy! Yay puppies!  That puppy is amaze-balls.]

H (bringing us back to order): Am I the only one not finished with this book yet? Working on it now! She lost me a bit waxing poetic about her Parks and Rec castmates since I have never watched it.

Bestie 2 (feeling herself again): I have no patience. I skip things I’m not interested in. Only reason I’m still reading this one is to chat with you besties about it.

Bestie 1:  [radio silence]

H: Okay, here’s my final thoughts. From reading this, I think Amy Poehler is pretty cool, but I am definitely not a super fan – she joined SNL long after my days of watching it, and I really haven’t seen her in that much. I really don’t have anything bad to say about the book – I just don’t have anything great to say either. It was okay.

Bestie 1: I am glad we read this book together because I like doing things with you guys and texting funny things to each other. As for the book – it was good, but I just wish it was better. I like Amy Poehler – she is smart and funny and I like that she encourages girls especially to be smart and funny. I honestly just thought she would be a better writer. I was under the impression that she wrote more (I had the mistaken presumption that she created and wrote Parks and Rec like Tina Fey created and wrote 30 Rock). It was a good breezy read. I have been reading a book about the Cook County criminal courthouse, busiest in the US. Interesting so far. [H interjection: that one sounds less breezy!]

Bestie 2 (a.k.a. crabby-pants-mcgee): Umm I have decided that I don’t have to finish everything I start.  

So there you have it.

Finishing A Bollywood Affair

Today we’re finishing up A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev. We usually post our sister read-alongs in three parts, but this time we’re putting parts 2 & 3 into one post.

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As we read, our texts were flying. Here’s what we were thinking through the middle third:

Holly: Mili says “The entire household does not need to see my chromosomes.”

Amanda: That almost made me snort inappropriately while trying to tell my child to go to sleep.

Holly: That was basically the point.

Amanda: I feel like I’m actually watching a Bollywood movie right now. This is amazing. You should have had an Indian wedding. (Uh, with no offense to your husband or your actual lovely wedding!

Holly: Tell that too [redacted name of former Indian crush]!*  (And, no offense taken, obv). Oh, and I saw on the author’s website that her next book is called The Bollywood Bride.

*And now we shall see if my husband is a faithful GIAO reader.

Amanda: BTW, let’s go for Indian food.

And from there, we forged on through the final third of the book, continuing to laugh hysterically – well, until things got sad for a while..

Amanda: I am going to have to finish this book now.

Amanda: Um wow. It’s getting hot in here.

Holly: Dude, I do not post about the steaminess of books. Posts about steaminess make me mildly uncomfortable.

Amanda: [Tries to think of something that can amuse me and make Holly mildly uncomfortable…]

Amanda: I will say I don’t have a lot of familiarity with Indian culture, so I thought a few things were interesting about the relationships with daughters.   Seeing Mili’s friend’s mother yelling “you stupid cow” to her daughter versus the excitement of a new baby girl to a new generation really stuck out to me.  I loved that Mili wasn’t just trying to empower herself, but that she also wanted more for other women. I just loved Mili and her hope and her naivete, matched against her strength, intelligence and her determination.

Holly:  I loved how Sonali Dev described writing this book in her acknowledgements section: “I would love to say that this book was hard labor, that my path to publication was riddled with sacrifice and tears. But I can’t. Writing Samir and Mili’s story was pure joy, and my path was so riddled with the incredible generosity and support of so many people…”

Amanda: I loved that too! Even though there was some sadness to this book i just loved it. It was a joy to read. 5 stars!!

Holly: I loved it too! Good find, pal. 

Source: Thank Goodness for public libraries where we both found this one!

We’re Reading A Bollywood Affair

It’s time again for another sisterly-readalong, and this time we are diving into A Bollywood Affair, a debut novel by Sonali Dev. We’ve both been reading and chatting, and we’ll share what we think in 3 parts as we make our way through.

A Bollywood Affair opens with a scene of a mass child-wedding in the Indian state of Rajastan.

It is intense. Then, we fast forward twenty-odd years to the present. Our child bride (and heroine!) Mili, is studying in the U.S., while dutifully waiting for her husband to claim her. Unbeknownst to her, her “husband’s” brother Samir, Bollywood film director-slash-model-slash-playboy (Mili loves to talk in slashes), has been sent to finalize an annulment of the arrangement that his grandfather forced the family into years ago. That’s all in the first few chapters. From there, we’ll try to stay relatively spoiler-free:

Amanda: Samir is kind of a dick

Holly: Oh no! I need to catch up.

Amanda: Samir reminds me of Flynn Rider with his “I’m going to turn on the smolder.”

Holly: Who?

[Amanda explains. And sends videos. She is correct. That is exactly what is going on the book. EXactly. Someone get Mili a frying pan!]

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Holly: I was cracking up quite loudly reading this last night. Like, my husband tried to kick me out of the room. This book is killing me. Okay, it is maybe not the best written, most beautifully crafted novel ever, but Mili is fucking hilarious and awesome.

Amanda: She is going to be kicking ass by the end. But I hope Mili knocks him in the face with a frying pan before HEA happens.

Holly: HEA?

Amanda: Happily Ever After, yo!

Holly: If I was a real blogger I’d probably say some shit about shipping but I think that is a stupid verb.

Amanda: And that is why you are my best favorite. Oh, I will start writing this post.

[Amanda did not start the post, so I stole her texts and added them in here. We’ll see if I’m still her best favorite.]

***

Amanda: Holly is always, always my best favorite.  Unless she’s editing my apostrophe usage or duplicative word usage.  

 

 

Mini Review: Stars & Swipes and Hugs & Misses

Stars & Swipes and Hugs & Misses,

Amanda

Published December 3, 2014 by Quirk Books

Postcards 30 pgs each

Source: Quirk Books

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Quirk Books is pretty much my new favorite thing.  Having already read and loved Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Horrostor, I was completely entertained when they sent me two books of funny postcards: Hugs & Misses – “full of lovelorn ladies, roguish gentlemen, renegade Cupids, and indecent proposals,” and Stars and Swipes – “with farcical frontiersmen, prattling presidents and other all-American oddities.”

These are two books full of perforated postcards of amazingly silhouette captioned images. Like this:

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If I have your mailing address be on the look-out for some amazing mail!  There was great debate at our house over Thanksgiving as to whether Hugs and Misses or Stars and Swipes was funnier.   I voted romance while my darling sister and husband voted Awkward Americana.

My advice is to get both and report back to me with a vote. These will make a perfect stocking stuffer for anyone with a quirky sense of humor.  Or they’re delightfully ridiculous to send to any pen-pal!

Review: Superheroes Anonymous

Superheroes Anonymous, Lexie Dunne

Amanda

ebook, 192 pages

Published November 18th 2014 by Harper Voyager Impulse

Source: E-ARC from Edelweiss

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From Goodreads…

Everybody in Chicago has a “superhero sighting” story. So when a villain attacks editorial assistant Gail Godwin and she’s rescued by superhero Blaze, it’s a great story, and nothing more. Until it happens again. And again.

Now, the media has dubbed her Hostage Girl, nobody remembers her real name, and people are convinced that Blaze is just Gail’s boyfriend Jeremy in disguise. Gail’s not so sure. All she knows is that when both Jeremy and Blaze leave town in the same week, she’s probably doomed. Who will save her now?

But when the villains miraculously lose interest, Gail is able to return to her life…until she wakes up strapped to a metal table by a mad scientist who hasn’t read the news. Escaping, and now more than human herself, she’s drawn into a secret underground world of superheroes. She’ll have to come to terms with her powers (and weakness) to make it in the new society, and it’s not easy. After all, there’s a new villain on the rise, and she has her sights set on the one and only Hostage Girl.

I’m a nerd and I’m a sucker for books set in Chicago so I requested this even though I wasn’t 100% sold on the premise.  I am so glad I did!  I’d call Superheroes Anonymous basically The Incredibles as a book for adults.  It was light hearted and a bit silly, but a really fun read overall.

IncrediblesWallpaper1024Superheroes Anonymous takes us to a version of the US that is filled with heroes, villains and damsels in distress.  They can fly, have superhuman strength, and of course have the costumes to go with!  Gail happens across a villain when she first moves to Chicago and since the first run in has been kidnapped more times than she can count.  She’s preyed on so much that her nickname becomes Hostage Girl.  She even seems to have her own personal superhero!  Blaze (complete with fire insignia on his uniform!)  is there to save her nearly all the time.   I was not too sure that I liked Gail very much in the beginning.  She seems to have lost any sense of her self in becoming Hostage Girl.  Even her boyfriend calls her “Girl” instead of her name!  No thank you.

Gail’s boyfriend breaks up with her and Blaze has moved on with him-kind of suspicious don’t you think?  Gail thinks she’s in for a peaceful life now, but then there’s a crash while she’s out getting coffee and she wakes-up in an evil lab one more time.  Gail is helpless, but when she’s freed she realizes she has become somewhat super herself.

I loved this new super Gail! Even though she’s figuring out what’s going on with her body she becomes much stronger emotionally and starts to grow a backbone.  I don’t want it to sound like she’s immediately runs out to become a superhero because that’s not true, but she decides to really think about what she wants out of life rather than being a hostage.  She begins to see the real lives of the superheroes and wonders if she would like to be one of them.   I love the friends that she makes-and I want to read more about them!  The heroes keep their stories private of just how each came into their powers and I hope that book two gets into them in more detail.

The ending was a complete cliffhanger though which is kind of maddening.  I do not like the direction things were going in the final scene so I hope that the wait for book #2 goes quickly!

4 stars!

Thank you Harper Voyager Impulse and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

Review: You Have to F*cking Eat

You Have to Fucking Eat, Adam Mansbach, Owen Brozman, Illustrator

Amanda & Joshua

Hardcover, 32 pages

Publication: November 12th 2014 by Akashic Books

Source: Print ARC from Publisher

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Sometimes, a book comes along that is so profoundly truthful that it defies explanation. The ideas expressed within are so universal in their application that the work elevates from mere text to something approaching scripture.  For us, this is that book.

  Your cute little tummy is rumbling

And pancakes are your favorite treat.

I’m kind of surprised you suddenly hate them.

That’s bullshit.  Stop lying and eat.

Poetic. Fucking. Brilliance. An inspired artistic expression of the existential crisis every parent experiences while out for breakfast at their favorite spot (or what used to be their favorite spot 5 years ago when they still had time to enjoy things like breakfast on a Saturday fucking morning, but I digress) while trying to get junior to shove just one more goddamned bite of french toast or egg or anything to postpone for even five fucking minutes the next cry of “daddy, im hungry”.

This book is not only informative and potentially therapeutic, it is also aesthetically pleasing, with entertaining illustrations to show the importance of EATING YOUR GODDAMNED DINNER! In fact, this book is even enjoyable for children; our daughter liked the pictures in this book so much she picked it up and wandered off to read it on her own.  Oops.  Thankfully, it didn’t end up in her backpack and go to school for her teacher to discover, my sister’s prediction notwithstanding… Maybe she will even f-ing learn something from it!

Seriously, every parent should buy a copy of this for their partner or anyone else who has children in their house.  Fill Christmas stockings with this book!  Let the Chanukah fairy deliver it!  You can read it while you eat your kid’s leftovers for your after-bedtime dinner and drown your sorrows in a glass of wine and a couple muscle relaxers.  Or wait – is that just at our house?

5 stars!

Thank you Akashic Books for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

All quotes were taken from an uncorrected galley proof subject to change in the final edition

Book Pairings

Let’s talk about books that you should read together. No, not like series or books by the same author, but books that make more sense (or are more fun), if you read both.

This post is inspired by my recent reading of For Darkness Shows the Stars (futuristic/post-apocalyptic Jane Austen) and companion Across a Star Swept Sea (retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel), but I fully enjoyed those without (yet) reading the accompanying classics. So, here are some pairings where you must read both, in order for the magic to truly happen.

1. Jane Eyre + The Eyre Affair

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No one should be shocked that my sister demanded I read a book set in a bizarro 1985 London involving time travel and literary detectives. The Eyre Affair is about our heroine, Thursday Next’s, attempt to track down the villain who stole one Jane Eyre. As in, just plucked her, right out of the story! So, you see where I’m going with this – I had to first read Jane Eyre, then read this silly Jasper Fforde novel.

And, of course she was right. I loved Jane Eyre. I loved Thursday Next. I reference the Toast Marketing Board as often as possible. Amanda win.

 

2. The Great Gatsby + Great

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I’ve seen a few positive reviews of Great recently, and I’m intrigued. I loved The Great Gatsby in high school English. I read it again last year, and I wondered why I loved it so much since the characters are generally unlikeable, shallow, and vapid. Oh dear, what does that say about me? Don’t answer that.

Anyway, Great is a contemporary YA retelling where Nick has become Naomi and Gatsby is Jacinta. Scrolling through Goodreads, there are definitely some haters of this book, but whether people loved or hated, the consensus is that Great makes the most sense with the background of the original work. This is totally on my list to read soon.

 

3. Treasure Island + Treasure Island!!!

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You guys. Have you heard of Literary Disco, the amazing book podcast co-hosted by 90s teenage heartthrob Rider Strong? Yeah, I hadn’t either, until recently, but now I am totally hooked and working my way through 50+ episodes. It’s amazing. (Note, J may disagree as he had the pleasure of listening to several episodes on a recent drive to NC. However, I think his disdain was less about the show and more about my excitement over Shawn Hunter.)

Okay, so the show is actually really really funny. One of the books they covered was this goofy Treasure-Island-With-3-Exclamation-Points. It’s Episode 6: go listen, and then try and tell me that you don’t want to read this book. But I think we should read Treasure Island first, for maximum effectiveness. Agree?

 

What other book pairings do you suggest?