May 9, 2019

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

"The dead don't talk. I don't know why." But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.
Maybe he has a gift, maybe it's a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd's otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo's sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it's different.
A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world's worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd's deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15.
Today is August 14.
In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock 'n' Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares, and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere.

This book was recommended to me by a friend/bomb Americano maker. So, obviously I had to read it. She was kind enough to lend it to me. Now, I have to say, I’m pretty hooked on this character.

This book was a ride from beginning to end. It laid the foundation for the protagonists. It explored their depth and the depth of the story. Then it completely took off.

I didn’t know the synopsis when I went into the book, so I was going in blind. I think that was good for this one. It made for so many surprises. I didn’t think it was going to be creepy, but I didn’t expect that it would also break my heart. There were so many different emotions. I can’t wait to read the next one. I have to see what comes next for everyone involved.

5/5 Stars

Memorable Quotes: “We are not, however, a species that can choose the baggage with which it must travel. In spite of our best intentions, we always find that we have brought along a suitcase or two of darkness, and misery.”

“The dead are sensitive to the living. They have walked this path ahead of us and know our fears, our failings, our desperate hopes, and how much we cherish what cannot last. They pity us, I think, and no doubt they should.”

“In our dreams, we are not detached observers, as are the characters who dream in movies. These internal dramas are usually seen strictly from the dreamer’s point of view. In nightmares, we can’t look I to our own eyes except by indirection, perhaps because we fear discovering that therein lie the worst monsters plaguing us.”

“Most people desperately desire to believe that they are part of a great mystery, that Creation is a work of grace and glory, not merely the result of random forces of colliding. Yet each time that they are given but one reason to doubt, a worm in the apple of the heart makes them turn away from a thousand proofs of the miraculous, whereupon they have a drunkard’s thirst for cynicism, and they feed upon despair as a starving man upon a loaf of bread.”

“A cynic once said that the most identifying trait of humanity is our ability to be in humane to one another.”

“The town slept, but not its demons.”

“Life, Stormy says, is not about how fast you run or even with what degree of grace. It’s about perseverance, about staying on your feet and slogging forward no matter what.”

“Most people tend to think the best of those who are blessed with beauty; we have difficulty imagining that physical perfection can conceal twisted emotions or a damaged mind. “

“We are not strangers to ourselves; we only try to be.”

“It takes awhile to realize what a lonely world it is, and when you do . . . Then the future looks kinda scary. “

“We who survive must go on in the names of those who fall, but if we dwell too much on the vivid details of what we’ve witnessed of man’s inhumanity to man, we simply can’t go on. Perseverance is impossible if we don’t permit ourselves to hope.”

Click To Purchase!

April 25, 2019

I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids by Jen Kirkman

"You'll Change Your Mind." 
That's what everyone says to Jen Kirkman—and countless women like her—when she confesses she doesn't plan to have children. But you know what? It's hard enough to be an adult. You have to dress yourself and pay bills and remember to buy birthday gifts. You have to drive and get annual physicals and tip for good service. Some adults take on the added burden of caring for a tiny human being with no language skills or bladder control. Parenthood can be very rewarding, but let's face it, so are margaritas at the adults-only pool. 
Jen's stand-up routine includes lots of jokes about not having kids (and some about masturbation and Johnny Depp), after which complete strangers constantly approach her and ask, "But who will take care of you when you're old?" (Servants!) Some insist, "You'd be such a great mom!" (Really? You know me so well!) 
Whether living rent-free in her childhood bedroom while trying to break into comedy (the best free birth control around, she says), or taking the stage at major clubs and joining a hit TV show—and along the way getting married, divorced, and attending excruciating afternoon birthday parties for her parent friends—Jen is completely happy and fulfilled by her decision not to procreate. 
I Can Barely Take Care of Myself is a beacon of hilarious hope for anyone whose major life decisions have been questioned by friends, family, and strangers in a comedy club bathroom. And it should satisfy everyone who wonders if Jen will ever know true love without looking into the eyes of her child.

After finding her comedy specials on Netflix, Jen Kirkman became my favorite comedian. Now, I am an avid I Seem Fun listener (her podcast), and I bought both of her books. I figured I should read them in order, so this one was up first.

As a fellow person who doesn’t have kids and possibly won't have them, this book was hilarious. It’s so true that as a woman you always get questioned about if/when you’re having kids.

We aren’t machines, people!

If you like comedy and enjoy autobiographical essays, you’ll likely enjoy this book. Even more so if you’re a woman without kids.

5/5 Stars

Memorable Quote: “I think that people confuse a woman with empathy with someone who has the emotional means to raise a child. I’m not mother material but I’m a nice person, sure. And I’m a nice person because I’m usually in a good mood and I’m in a good mood because I’m not responsible for raising a child I don’t want.”

April 24, 2019

Penpal by Dathan Auerbach

Penpal began as a series of short and interconnected stories posted on an online horror forum. Before long, it was adapted into illustrations, audio recordings, and short films; and that was before it was revised and expanded into a novel!
How much do you remember about your childhood?
In Penpal, a man investigates the seemingly unrelated bizarre, tragic, and horrific occurrences of his childhood in an attempt to finally understand them. Beginning with only fragments of his earliest years, you'll follow the narrator as he discovers that these strange and horrible events are actually part of a single terrifying story that has shaped the entirety of his life and the lives of those around him. If you've ever stayed in the woods just a little too long after dark, if you've ever had the feeling that someone or something was trying to hurt you, if you remember the first friend you ever made and how strong that bond was, then Penpal is a story that you won't soon forget, despite how you might try.

Okay, this has to be one of the creepiest and most unsettling books I have read in a very long time. There were times I was reading it at night and I had to put it down and turn on a comedy show just so I could fall asleep. I don’t know if it was because of the story or the way it was written, but it got to me real good.

It’s crazy that Penpal started as just some short stories online because Auerbach expanded it into a novel. It isn't the best writing I've ever read, but it does really grip you.

The novel follows the main character as he uncovers the truth about his past and the memories that haunt him. You follow along as he processes through his childhood. What happened to him is truly inconceivable and it brings horror to one of the fun aspects of being a kid – penpals.

This is a truly haunting book that is a pretty quick read once it sucks you in. Maybe just don’t read it right before bed.

3.5/5 Stars

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

My sister got this book for me for Christmas. It was at the top of my list because of how hyped up it was. So, once I finally got to dive in, I was so excited to see if it lived up to the chatter.

This book is one of those that when you finish, you just need to sit in a quiet room and process it for a bit. It’s a crazy ride from start to finish and decompression is necessary.

The great thing about The Woman in the Window is it that it really keeps you guessing. If your brain is like mine, you try to figure out the twists and turns the whole time you’re reading. You come up with so many different scenarios that by the end, you can’t remember if one of your guesses was correct or not. I don’t think I guessed this one, but I sort of half guessed it. I’d explain but . . . no spoilers.

This book is largely about agoraphobia, so it’s interesting to get into the mind of the main character as she deals with that as well as other large storylines in her life. It’s hard to discuss without giving anything away, but any sort of spoiler would really ruin the reading experience.

There are twists and turns in every direction. I liked a majority of the characters for what they were, but the cops were a bit irritating to me. The way they handled things didn’t seem realistic, but maybe it is. Either way – I was really frustrated with them.

I put this book on my list of Must-Reads!

5/5 Stars

Memorable Quotes: “I step into the hall — the one area of the house I dislike and distrust, the cool gray zone between my realm and the outside world. Right now it’s dim in the dusk, the dark walls like hands about to clap me between them.”

“That little boy would be well Into his teens now, almost Ethan’s age, not quite half mine. I think of him tonight as I stare at the ceiling, feeling dead myself. Dead but not gone, watching life surge forward around me, powerless to intervene.”

“Now the night has my heart in its claws. It’s squeezing. I’ll burst. I’m going to burst.”

Click to Purchase!