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!

April 11, 2019

Hot Six by Janet Evanovich

Low-rent bounty hunter Stephanie Plum reaches depths of personal experience that other women detectives never quite do. In Hot Six, for example, a sequence of new and hideous cars bite the dust; she finds herself lumbered with a policeman's multiply incontinent dog; and she has several bad skin days. All this when she is trying to prove her distinctly more competent colleague and occasional boyfriend Ranger innocent of a mob hit; avoid the heavies trailing her in the hope of finding him; and cope with a wife-abusing bail defaulter with nasty habits, such as setting Stephanie on fire.
It’s been awhile since I picked up this series, and I forgot exactly how much I love it. It was super easy to jump right back in to all of the crazy shenanigans.

I’m pretty sure we’re made to think Stephanie is a pretty slim character, but with the way she eats, I don’t see how she could be! If she is, I’m certainly jealous. I would love to have her diet and still be in shape.

There are parts of these books that drive me nuts. I know it’s supposed to add to the comedy, but sometimes the characters are so incompetent I feel like screaming. I get past it quickly, but it does make my eye twitch.

Also – can we just talk about how amazing Grandma Mazur is? She is such a gem of a character no matter what book you are reading. She’s hilarious and really gives these books a lot of life.

Now, for the storyline of Hot Six – it was pretty interesting. It seemed pretty normal for Stephanie and her “everything-goes-wrong” lifestyle. But, what is normal for her is absolutely NOT for us normal folks. So, it was a fun ride as usual even if she was running into danger around every corner.

I had a fun time reading Hot Six and it was one of those books that just flies by.

5/5 Stars

Memorable Quote: “Probably the pink stucco was very Mediterranean. And probably in the summer, when the awnings were unrolled and the porch furniture was uncovered, and the sun and the heat washed over the Jersey shore, the pink house felt like itself. In March it looked like it was waiting for the Prozac to kick in. Pale and cold and stolid.”

Click to Purchase!