Paper Towns by John Green

Yet again, John Green has made me sad smile at the end of another novel. After The Fault In Our Stars, I knew I needed to expand my Green collection, and I happened on Paper Towns about a month or so ago, and I didn’t want to let it linger long on the bookshelves, unread. So when I had a break in my regularly scheduled programming (haha) I decided to sneak in the read.

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(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Quentin “Q” Jacobsen has been in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman since the day they met her.Or, at least, he thinks he’s in love with her. She moved next door when they were ten. They were really good friends as kids, but when they happened upon a dead body in a nearby park, things got weird. Q was realistically freaked out. Margo was curiously obsessed with figuring out what happened to him. This incident started the split in their friendship, and then as they got older, Margo tended to hang with the popular crowd, and Q was mixed in with his band friends. Q never stopped admiring Margo though, and couldn’t believe his fortune when she shoved his bedroom window open and crawled through.

Margo needed a partner-in-crime to drive her getaway car, and Q had keys to his mom’s minivan. So, though hesitant on participating in Margo’s revenge scheme against her ex-boyfriend, he just can’t pass up the chance to spend all night with Margo. Armed with blue spray paint, a “fat-daddy-size” tub of Vaseline, and some catfish, they target the ex and a few frenemies. I have to admit, the pranks were hilarious, devious, and thoroughly planned, and I laughed so much during the first 100 pages of this book.

“Did you see it? His face without the eyebrow? He looks permanently doubtful, you know? Like, ‘Oh, really? You’re saying I only have one eyebrow? Likely story.’ And I love making that asshole choose: better to shave off Lefty, or paint on Righty?”

After their long adventurous night, Margo and Q part ways. Q expects to see her in school, but Margo mysteriously doesn’t show up. Nor the next day. It’s not the first time Margo has gone missing, but Q is concerned after what they talked about the night before. She had said a few things that made it sound like she wasn’t going to come back, and Q was starting to think she may be dead. When Margo’s family call in the police, Q knows it’s really going to be up to him to find Margo. She always leaves clues about her whereabouts, but her parents have never understood. So Q and his two best friends, Radar and Ben, and Margo’s frenemy, Lacey, take on the challenge of finding Margo to make sure she is safe.

(Fan art from Pinterest.com)

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As they find and attempt to decipher Margo’s clues, all of them start to see that Margo wasn’t who they thought she was, and the question begs to differ- did they even know the real Margo?

Green had me rapidly turning pages to figure out if Q and his friends would ever find Margo, and more importantly, was she dead or alive? It’s fast paced, easy to read mystery and in addition, the wit in Green’s writing had me in laughing and smiling- to me, ideal reading! I know this has been out for a decade (published in 2008), but this book is still worth the read, and I’m glad I’ve added it to my collection!

 

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Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

This audiobook came highly recommended to me by my book club buddy, Megan! She was cracking up at the humor of the novel and shared a segment during a past meeting, and she has great taste in reads so I decided to check it out. She also mentioned it was a recommendation by Reese Witherspoon’s book club, Hello Sunshine. Sold!

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

The novel introduces us to Nikki, a 20-something Sikh woman who has gone against her traditional Indian upbringing. She’s a law school drop out, tending bar in London, and single despite her family’s urging to find a husband. She’s not sure what she wants out of life, but after her father suddenly passes away, she decides to take a second job to help her support her widowed mother. While checking out a local community board, she finds an advert looking for someone to teach an English creative writing class to local Punjabi widows.

The widows aren’t exactly what Nikki expects. They’re not all little old grannies, only one knows how to actually read and write in English, and though they are modest, traditional women, they are eager to explore a more modern expression of their bedroom experiences and fantasies. As a joke, Nikki had bought a racy book of erotica for her more conservative sister, and the widows found it in the stack of writing workbooks meant for the class. After Nikki confronts her class about the misunderstanding, the widows convince Nikki that those stories are the kind they wish to learn to write. In an effort to liberate these women from their repressed expression, she agrees, thinking that maybe this is how she can be reconnected with her community while still maintaining her modern views.

Then, we learn about the Brotherhood, a group of extremely conservative Sikhs who keep a watchful eye on the morals of the community. Anyone who seems to disrespect (whether they meant to or not) their religion and community becomes a target of extreme punishment. Nikki and her class, who have now formed a strong bond, have to be extremely careful not to let the secret slip about the content of their writing, least the Brotherhood find out.

Meanwhile, there is also a parallel story about one of the widow’s daughter, Maya, who died in a suspicious manner, as well as a mysterious man whom Nikki becomes romantically involved with. As the ending draws near, the story lines come crashing together like waves, and I was completely drawn in.

I  loved the audiobook narrator, Meera Syal. Her voice is like butter, and yet the changes in her tone for dialogue and breaks in the story were easy to understand and made it easy to focus on the tale. I also think listening to the audiobook certainly helped with understanding certain cultural words that I probably would have stumbled over if I was reading. I liked being able to hear the pronunciation.

Jaswal’s story is both funny, thrilling, entertaining, and downright steamy! I really enjoyed it, and though I’d recommend it, you should be warned that there really are erotic stories included in this book! There’s clever dialogue that takes the “audience rating” down a notch, but the title is not misleading. I’d say it’s definitely not suitable for the youngsters, but certainly a fun read for women.

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Thought Piece: Podcasts I Really Enjoy

I’ve recently discovered the joy of podcasts- I know, I know, I really do live under a rock.

I was under the impression that they cost money to buy off iTunes (which is false) and I thought they would kill my data (nope, just my battery). Once I got that all cleared up, I was like a woman possessed, downloading and subscribing to anything that looked interesting, asking my friends for recommendations, and being “that guy” who walks around with earbuds in, not speaking to anyone but laughing and smiling. My neighbors probably thought I was losing it while I was outside doing yardwork, haha.

I thought it would be fun to share what I’ve been listening to, and see we have any favorites in common!

  1. Small Town Murder

Host comedians James and Jimmie dive into small town murders (obviously). They do some really impressive research on each town, including demographics and real estate reports in comparison to the national averages, and start from the beginning of each story, from the childhood background of the murder to the way that their trials were handles, etc. It’s fascinating if you are into true crime, but crudely funny (and there is a disclaimer- if you don’t have a rough sense of humor, it’s probably not for you and that’s TOTALLY okay!) For a chicken like me, it’s a great cross of Law & Order and comedy, so I don’t get too scared!

2. All the Books!

Don’t know what to read (and my blog just isn’t doing it for you? *wink*) ? Check out All the Books! The host is so knowledgeable about what is hot right now in many different genres, and seems to be the human-Goodreads. She’s awesome, and my TBR pile wishes she would stop (haha, just kidding, I don’t want her to stop!) recommending all the books!

3. Fearless Rebelle Radio with Summer Innanen

Image result for fearless rebel radioI love Summer. She is sassy, she is smart, and she always hosts some of the coolest guest speakers out there in the world of body positivity. Her topics never hold back and I’ve enjoy every episode that heard so far!

 

4. HGTV & Me

Image result for hgtv & meRebecca and her friends and family crack me up. I love HGTV, and whether you do or don’t, you know you’ve watched it at least a handful of times. Rebecca goes into details about the shows found on the HGTV channel, and is spot on with the entertainment value of the shows.

5. Radio Free Dystopia

Image result for radio free dystopiaFor Dystopian novel fans, this podcast is eerie but awesome. They talk about books in the dystopian genre, and then relate it to the world we are living in, or could be living in if etc. were to happen. It’s fascinating and really intelligently put together, meaning it doesn’t sound like a bunch of conspiracy theorists, haha. They went on a hiatus in August 2017, but I’m hoping that they’ll come back for more. If not, the episodes that have done are still totally worth giving a listen to.

6. This American Life

Image result for this american lifeThis is such a hodge podge of interesting discussions and stories and interviews that I’m not going to be able to sum it up properly, so I’m just going to say check it out! My fave episode so far: Words You Can’t Say, from February 4th, 2018.

7. UnF*uck Your Brain

Image result for unf*ck your brainKara is pure gold. She’s unapologetic, she’s smart (Harvard grad y’all), and really makes you think about how people are conditioned to think, as well as coaching you on how to retrain your mindset. I’m completely intrigued to see what she comes up with every episode.

 

8. MuggleCast: The Harry Potter Podcast

Image result for mugglecast podcastOMG, this podcast! I’m really late to how awesome this is, but obviously better late than never. Three guys host a discussion all about Harry Potter, and it’s both funny and interesting and obsessive all at once. Perfect for your HP fix!

(Photo Credit for all photos: Google Images)

So these are my top so far! What do you all listen to? I’m totally taking recommendations!

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

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(Photo Credit: Google Images)

I took a trip to the library, checked out The Chemist, and then left it sitting around, waiting for it’s turn on the TBR pile. I finally got around to reading it, and it took me four days to devour the 500+ page book. I shouldn’t have waited to read it, because it has quickly become one of my top books that I’ve read this year!

The reader is immediately thrown into the action that is Dr. Juliana Fortis’ life. On the run for the past three years, she has shed her old name for unisex names like Chris, Casey, and Alex; lived in booby trapped hideaways; and driven in circles for hours in cars bought off Craigslist with cash. She’s extremely intelligent, and has successfully outsmarted the government officials that are determined to assassinate the escaped asset. What she never expected was the email she received- a plea from her old boss to help them solve a case, in exchange for her freedom.

Tempted at the thought of freedom but knowing what her old boss, Carston, is capable off, she decides to take his bait- her way. When she pops in for a surprise visit, they agree to work together this one last time. He sends her the information, and she gets to work. Kidnapping her new target, Daniel, is relatively easy. In fact, it’s almost like he wanted to go with her. When they make it to her newest designated hideout, she gets to work. Enter, the Chemist.

But of course, things don’t go as planned. Just as soon as she’s almost gotten the information she needs- though not exactly what she expects- from Daniel, someone literally drops in on their party. As “Alex” prepares to fight off another government lackey, she instead is surprised by her new guest… who just happens to be in the same boat as she.

Teaming up, Alex, Daniel, and their new guest decide to change the game and take out their pursuers in the hopes of finally being free from their previous lives. It’s absolutely thrilling, gripping, and full of plot twists. I also loved the sense of humor in the book- even in some of the most terrifying situations, there would be a line that would crack me up and give me a second to breathe. I may be a bit behind the curve on this one because it was published in 2016, but if you haven’t read this one, I give it a 100% recommendation!

 

Spooky Halloween Tag!

I came across this really seasonally awesome tag (even though it isn’t book related) from Kourtni at Kourtni Reads, that I thought would be a fun way to celebrate the spirit of Halloween!

1. Favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

Frankenstein by the Edgar Winter Group, or Dragula by Rob Zombie!

2. Name something you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark forest or in an abandoned building.

Um, I wouldn’t really want to go into a dark forest or an abandoned building, let alone run into something I wouldn’t want to run into!

3. Have you ever played with a Ouija Board?

No, no, definitely not. Those things freak me out!

4. Favorite horror monster or villain?

JAWS! OMG, he freaked me out. I’m still not a fan of swimming in the ocean because of this one, despite Shark Week’s attempt to teach me that sharks just have a bad rep.

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(Photo Credit: Google Images)

5. The creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

I used to work as an equine vet tech on night shift, and occasionally I’d hear stuff that would creep me out, but one night especially: I was in the isolation barn, and I had one patient, way in the back of the barn, behind two sets of heavy doors. The horse had been there awhile, so I was familiar with what she getting for medications, and she was only on oral meds. But during that night, I swear I heard a fluid pump go off in the barn, and shuffling in a stall that was very close to the pharmacy where I spent most of my time. Totally creeped me out- but at the same time, I wasn’t surprised. The isolation barn was many a horse’s last stop.

6. If you were dared to spend the night in a “haunted house”, would you do it?

NOPE.

7. Are you superstitious?

Yeah, I’d say so. There are some things that I’d rather be superstitious about than not- you know, like saying something and then knocking on wood before it can be proven untrue.

8. Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?

I tell myself no.

9. Which urban legend scares you the most?

Truth be told, I’m always creeped out by urban legends, so I guess one doesn’t scare me more than another. Being a Vermonter, I grew up with the legend of Champ aka “America’s Loch Ness Monster”; the sightings of Bigfoot; and more creepy ghost stories than you’d want to know! So I just take everything with a grain of salt and hope for the best.

10. Do you prefer gore or thrillers?

Thrillers, definitely. Gore gives me nightmares.

11. Do you believe in multiple dimensions or worlds?

I think you have to- the world is a big place, and we’ve proven that there is a lot out there that humans don’t know about. I guess you could say I’m open to the prospect, but not searching for it.

12. Ever made a potion of any sort?

Haha do mud pies count?

13. Do you get scared easily?

YES. I have a very impressionable imagination.

14. Have you ever played Bloody Mary?

No.

15. Do you believe in demons/the devil?

I believe in evil, and that it can take many forms.

16. You’re home alone but you hear footsteps in your house, what do you do?

Pray it’s the cat.

17. If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

I try to not watch scary movies (see question 13), so I’ll keep this real PG and say Hocus Pocus, hahaha.

(Photo Credit: Giphy.com)

18. If you could only wear one Halloween costume for the rest of your life, what would you be?

I think Kourtni nailed this answer- I too wouldn’t mind wearing a Hogwarts uniform! #HufflepuffPride

19. Would you ever go to a graveyard at night?

I have, and it creeps me out.

20. In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

I guess a gun- I don’t relish the idea of getting close to a zombie.

21. Would you rather go to a Halloween party or go trick or treating?

PARTYYYY!

22. You’re in a horror movie. Are you the final girl, the first to die, the comic relief, the skeptic, the smart one, or the killer?

Oh lawd, I’m so definitely the first to die. I can’t run, and I’m kinda gullible so I’d be all, yeah, let’s follow the creep guy!

23. Do you have to watch something happy after watching a horror movie so you can go to sleep?

YES. Ugh, my dreams get crazy. Shoot, I’m still having Hunger Games nightmares (though I’m extremely talented in archery in them!)

24. Whilst watching scary movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, the person with their eyes covered the whole time, or the person who falls asleep?

Cross between yelling and eyes closed.

25. Are you the one who gets scared, or the one who does the scaring?

In my younger days, I was the one who did the scaring. Now, I’m the one who gets scared. Adulthood is terrifying, y’all.

26. Favorite scary book?

I probably haven’t read anything scarier than Carrie by Stephen King, because I can’t handle scary stories. I also read this back in high school as part of an assignment, and I kept asking my teacher if I could read something else. She wouldn’t let me.

27. How old were you when you saw your first horror movie?

I have no idea- probably a teenager.

28. What was your first Halloween costume?

A kitty!

29. What are you going to be for Halloween this year?

A really cool aunt, LOL. I’m trunk-or-treating with my nieces and nephew this year, because I only had three trick-or-treaters last year! #ruralsmalltownprobs

30. If you could have a spooky Halloween pet (black cat, owl, bat, rat, wolf), what would you pick?

I’d definitely take a cat. I mean I already have two, what’s one more? #catladyprobs

I hope you all enjoyed, and feel free to do the tag too!

Have a Happy Halloween!!

Texts From Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg

Texts From Jane Eyre is another very witty and clever book that I highly recommend for a change of pace and a good laugh. The book is comprised of short “screenshots” of text conversations between some of literature’s most memorable characters and authors, including Jane Eyre (hence the title), some done in a modern style and some retaining their classic voices.

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(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Because it’s such a short book and again, I don’t want to spoil it for you, here are just a few classic characters you will “chat” with:

  • Circe:
    • “where did the pigs come from Circe?”
    • “i don’t know, a pig farm, a pig mommy and a pig daddy who loved each other very much…”
  • Jane Eyre:
    • “I KNEW IT. DID YOU LEAVE BECAUSE OF MY ATTIC WIFE IS THAT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT”
    • “yes. Absolutely.”
  • Hamlet:
    • “darling i don’t mean to criticize but you really hurt your father’s feelings last night”
    • “hes not my real dad. why do you even like him”
  • Nancy Drew:
    • “do you think you can come get me?”
    • “are you tied up again?”
    • “i’m just over at the cave by the old mill”
    • “so you’re tied up…in a cave.”

If you giggled at any one (or all!) of these, then you’ll really enjoy the rest. It’s a perfect way to get to “connect” with some of your favorite literary characters in one place. It’s fast paced, light fare, and well worth checking out!

 

 

 

 

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

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(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Where are my Gilmore Girls fans out there?!

(Photo Credit: Giphy.com)

Welcome welcome! So, I just had to read Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham for so many reasons.

  1. Because I love “Gilmore Girls“.
  2. Because Lauren Graham is hilarious.
  3. Because everyone who has read this said it’s hilarious.

So for all thee above, I checked it out of the library and read it in two sittings. And it is hilarious, and enjoyable, and makes me believe that Lauren Graham and I should be friends… just saying. Although, I think I’d have an awful time keeping up with her because she seems to like having a million things on her plate!

Being a biography, the book covers Graham’s childhood, to how she decided to be an actor, to her big break on “Gilmore Girls“, and then to her latest project of “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life“.  It was interesting to get to know Lauren, and to peek at how she came to be Lorelai Gilmore. The bio is full of comedy, sarcasm, and a little satire. But between all that is also a lot of great advice- some Graham’s, some “Old Lady Jackson’s”. Each chapter is fast paced, witty, and conversational.

I don’t want to spoil it for you, as it is a relatively short book, but here are some of my favorite parts:

“I hadn’t really seen “Slap That Bass” as much of a comedic song, but maybe I was wrong? So I decided to go with their response and sort of shimmied my shoulders, adding even more personality and pizzazz.”

“The Top Secret Hollywood Secrets Food Chart”

“Paper Towels, a Love Story”

“Where ‘Oy with the poodles already” was born! I’ve said it on command for you in airports across the land, but honestly I forgot where exactly in the show it appeared.”

“But life doesn’t often spell things out for you or give you what you want when you want it, otherwise it wouldn’t be called life, it would be called vending machine.”

“It’s his variation on the Pomodoro technique, called Kitchen Timer, and it’s transformed the way I write…I love it so much that it makes me want to touch my fingertips together in that wonderful symbol we just invented in the last decade.

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(Photo Credit: Google Images)

I highly recommend the read, especially if you’re a fan or if you need some light reading or humor in your life. I promise you’ll walk away from it with a smile and a good dose of laughter!