Review: We are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

We are Never Meeting in Real Life
Author: Samantha Irby
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Vintage Books
Genre: Memoir, Essays, Humor
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Sometimes you just have to laugh, even when life is a dumpster fire. With We Are Never Meeting in Real Life., “bitches gotta eat” blogger and comedian Samantha Irby turns the serio-comic essay into an art form. Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making “adult” budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette–she’s “35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something”–detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father’s ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms–hang in there for the Costco loot–she’s as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.


I learned of We are Never Meeting in Real Life on Goodreads. I was sorting through the giveaway section and saw it. The witty title and adorable cover drew my attention immediately. When I read the blurb, I knew I had to enter to win it. And I did, so I’m lucky!

We are Never Meeting in Real Life is a group of essays about blogger/author Samantha Irby’s life. She has a straight forward way of telling things like she sees them and is great at describing the outrageous experiences of her past. Her tone is sometimes upbeat, sometimes not, but it’s always humorous. Irby has a way of saying things that others will either detest (language and issue sensitive) or wish they had thought of (down with the swearing and oversharing).

I fell in the latter category. I truly enjoyed reading We are Never Meeting in Real Life. I wasn’t aware of Samantha Irby prior to reading her essays, but I loved her style. She wasn’t apologetic about her thoughts and experiences, and I liked that. My favorites in this collection were My Bachelorette Application, You Don’t Have to Be Grateful for Sex, Fuck It, Bitch. Stay Fat, and A Christmas Carol.

I probably would have given this set of essays 5 stars if I hadn’t been slightly concerned about the way the author presented some of her stories. She has been dealt with some very crappy situations in life, and while this book seemed upbeat about it all, there was a hint of sadness behind some of it. Like if she made fun of her own life enough, it wouldn’t be so depressing. That made me sad. She seems like a cool, introverted chick. I wanted sunshine and rainbows for her. Hopefully, the rest of her life will be.

Review: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

29868610Scrappy Little Nobody
Author: Anna Kendrick
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Genre: Memoir, Humor

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).


A couple of months ago, my best friend and I found out that Anna Kendrick was doing a tour to promote her memoir, Scrappy Little Nobody. Being the huge Pitch Perfect / Anna Kendrick fans that we are, we quickly decided we needed to experience An Evening with Anna Kendrick.

20161128_190846

On Monday, November 28th, we made the forty-five minute jaunt into the U-District of Seattle to the University Temple United Methodist Church to bask in all that was Anna Kendrick. As you can tell by this beautifully out of focus picture, my friend and I got there later than most fans and ended up sitting at the back of the balcony for the hour-long question and answer interview. (Thank you Seattle construction for taking up valuable street parking spots!)

Now what does this have to do with my book review? Well, I hadn’t read the book before attending. One of the pluses of going to the show was a signed copy of the book when you presented your ticket. I kind of wish I had read the book, though; her interview would have added an extra “A-ha!” to some of the stories in the book. It still did, but I imagine it would have been even better with prior knowledge.

Scrappy Little Nobody was a fun-filled romp through Anna Kendrick’s journey to fame. It has so many interesting stories that are told in only the way Anna Kendrick could tell them. Reading her book was just like listening to her talk. You know how endearing Anna Kendrick is in all those interviews you watch or read? Well, she’s just as endearing in Scrappy Little Nobody. You will want her to be your best friend after reading this book — if you didn’t already before. I loved the little insights she gave to her life, acting and the industry she has excelled in. Scrappy Little Nobody was a delight to read.

If you’re a fan of Anna Kendrick, you need to read this book. You will adore it! It’s Anna Kendrick’s life experiences told as only Anna Kendrick could tell them.

Review: I Hate Everyone, Except You by Clinton Kelly

29430846I Hate Everyone, Except You
Author: Clinton Kelly
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Memoir, Humor
Note: I received an ARC from Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Bestselling author and beloved television personality Clinton Kelly pens a hilariously intimate collection of essays about his often-embarrassing journey from awkward kid to slightly less awkward adult.

Clinton Kelly isn’t just an enduring television host. In I Hate Everyone, Except You, Clinton Kelly is a finicky connoisseur of 1980s pornography, a disillusioned critic of New Jersey’s premier water parks, and perhaps the world’s most foul-mouthed high-school graduation speaker.

Whether he’s fantasizing about strangers in airports, throwing his baby sister in the air to jumpstart her cheerleading career, or rescuing his best friend from death by mud bath, Clinton leaps life’s social hurdles with enviable aplomb. He shares his unique ability to navigate the stickiest of situations, from finding true love in a crowded gay bar to auditioning for sliced turkey commercials. Clinton delves into all these topics—and many more—in this thoroughly hilarious, unabashedly frank collection that will upend expectations and leave you snorting Chardonnay out your nose.


When I saw I Hate Everyone, Except You was available for request on NetGalley, I knew I had to read it. I was/am a huge fan of What Not to Wear. I religiously watched every re-run and new episode when I was on maternity leave. I secretly wanted to be on that show and have Clinton Kelly and Stacy London transform my wardrobe. I was so sad when it ended. So I was excited to read I Hate Everyone, Except You and learn more about its co-host, Clinton Kelly.

From the minute I started reading I Hate Everyone, Except You I was hooked. Clinton Kelly’s narrative is exactly what I expected it to be. He was witty, funny and didn’t hold back. He shared some life experiences I don’t think I would have shared. Mr. Kelly was so candid that I felt like I was right there with him through it all. It was a lovely, if not somewhat embarrassing journey. I especially enjoyed the parts about his family, childhood friends and meeting his husband.

The only thing that I felt I Hate Everyone, Except You was missing was a common thread to unite all of the chapters. It might have been as simple as putting them in chronological order instead of randomly dispersed throughout the book. That would have helped his stories feel a little less disjointed.

Overall, I Hate Everyone, Except You was a really fun read. I got to see a side to Clinton Kelly I had never seen before on T.V. and learn more about his history. I also got to laugh a lot. If you like a funny celebrity memoir, this one is for you.

Review: Author Anonymous by E.K. Blair

29613610-1Author Anonymous
Author: E.K. Blair
Publication Date: August 29, 2016
Genre: Romance, Erotica, Based on a True Story

Rating: Unrated – Explanation in review.

Synopsis:

*An intoxicatingly risqué stand-alone book.

She’s an author.
She’s a mother.
She’s a wife.
She’s a fraud, a woman marked and bound by her own deceit.

Experience the astounding tale of how Anonymous battled through a year of scandals and betrayals, how her world fell from its axis with a single choice, and how she lost herself between reality and fantasy.

This is a stand-alone tangled in lust, heartbreak, and contrition.

*Based on a true story.


I’m going to start out by apologizing for this review. It is going to be one giant rant. That can’t be helped, so I’m sorry. I’m also going to warn that if you’re not into books with cheating, this one definitely isn’t for you. The entire focus of Author Anonymous is cheating. There’s nothing happy in it either, so if you’re looking for a dark but uplifting romance this isn’t it.

Let’s start with what I actually liked about this book. E.K. Blair deserves 5 stars for her writing. It’s dark, gritty, and unapologetic. I applaud her for being able to portray the characters the way she did. Their actions and thoughts were hard to read, so they had to be hard to write.

Now for the rant…

I wanted to DNF this book so badly. I basically had to force myself to read it. It was morally disturbing to me. I hated the main character Tori. I hated her thoughts, her actions, her truths. Nothing about what she did was okay. I don’t care what her reasons were. I’m a wife and mother. I’ve been married for 10 years, so I can understand some of her complaints about her marriage but nothing excuses her from the choices she made. I try not to be judgemental, but I’m judging here. She knew what she was doing the entire time. It was intentional. She knew she was hurting everyone around her and did it anyway.

It’s hard to explain my thoughts about the male characters in this “love triangle” without giving too much away, so I’ll keep it simple. I hated Alec. I didn’t trust anything about him. He was just as horrible as Tori. Landon was okay. He wasn’t an innocent bystander, but he wasn’t really malicious either. I understood why he did what he did and I was okay with it for the most part. I also want to point out that Landon said something about 40% in that I really agree with when it comes to cheating.

Obviously, reading Author Anonymous was a struggle for me. I was so looking forward to getting to the end and being able to come to terms with what this book had dealt me. I thought I was getting what I wanted until E.K. Blair did something I was not expecting. I don’t know whether to be pissed off at her or call her a genius. Considering how I felt about the story, I’d probably lean towards pissed off. If I hadn’t been reading this book on my Kindle, I would have thrown it at the wall or, better yet, burnt it!

I seriously hope the real Tori is never revealed. I don’t want to know who she is. I have to admit it took guts for her to ask E.K. Blair to write her story and put it out there. Although, now that I think about it, it seems like an attention-getting scheme.

Ugh. So how do I give Author Anonymous a rating? On one hand, the writing was brilliant. If it wasn’t based on a true story, I might have thought E.K. Blair was super creative for coming up with such a frustrating story and character. I do want to explore her other books. On the other hand, I hated this book the entire time I was reading it (except for maybe one or two chapters) partly because I knew it was based on a true story. I really did want to DNF it. I thought maybe I could come up with a middle ground rating, but I didn’t feel like any rating could properly portray my feelings. I guess that means I’m leaving it unrated. I will say that I’m glad that I was able to borrow this book from the Amazon Prime Kindle Lending Library. I think I would have been angry if I had spent money on a book that was so infuriating.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That Will Make You Laugh (or at least chuckle)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Ten Books That Will Make You Laugh (or at least chuckle). 


1. Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins

 Does being nobody’s fool mean that you’re nobody’s love?

Colleen O’Rourke is in love with love… just not when it comes to herself. Most nights, she can be found behind the bar at the Manningsport, New York, tavern she owns with her twin brother, doling out romantic advice to the lovelorn, mixing martinis and staying more or less happily single. See, ten years ago, Lucas Campbell, her first love, broke her heart… an experience Colleen doesn’t want to have again, thanks. Since then, she’s been happy with a fling here and there, some elite-level flirting and playing matchmaker to her friends.

But a family emergency has brought Lucas back to town, handsome as ever and still the only man who’s ever been able to crack her defenses. Seems like maybe they’ve got some unfinished business waiting for them—but to find out, Colleen has to let her guard down, or risk losing a second chance with the only man she’s ever loved.

 

 


2. Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

 The first night after Caroline moves into her fantastic new San Francisco apartment, she realizes she’s gaining an intimate knowledge of her new neighbor’s nocturnal adventures. Thanks to paper-thin walls and the guy’s athletic prowess, she can hear not just his bed banging against the wall but the ecstatic response of what seems (as loud night after loud night goes by) like an endless parade of women. And since Caroline is currently on a self-imposed dating hiatus, and her neighbor is clearly lethally attractive to women, she finds her fantasies keep her awake even longer than the noise. So when the wallbanging threatens to literally bounce her out of bed, Caroline, clad in sexual frustration and a pink baby-doll nightie, confronts Simon Parker, her heard-but-never-seen neighbor. The tension between them is as thick as the walls are thin, and the results just as mixed. Suddenly, Caroline is finding she may have discovered a whole new definition of neighborly…

In a delicious mix of silly and steamy, Alice Clayton dishes out a hot and hilarious tale of exasperation at first sight…

 

 


3. January  – December by Aubrey Carlan

 It’s really simple. I needed money. A lot of money. One million dollars to be exact. The amount didn’t matter. All that mattered is that at the end of that price tag held my father’s life.

No money. No life.

The time limit was one year. On January 1st I had to pay up or my Father was going to be killed.

When you’re faced with an ultimatum like this, you do whatever you have to do.

And that’s exactly what I did.

The job…Exquisite Escorts. My role, serve as high priced arm candy to anyone that can afford the $100,000 price tag for a month of my company. Sex is optional (for me) and a 20% increase on the price.

***
Mia Saunders just barely escaped a paltry life back home in Las Vegas until she gets the call that her Father has been beaten to within an inch of his life for not paying his gambling debt. Problem is, the lone shark is her lousy, ruthless ex-boyfriend. Another guy in a long line of men she’d fallen head over heels for. Not anymore.

Mia’s mission is simple. Serve as a high-priced escort for her Aunt’s company and pay monthly against her Father’s bad debt. A month with a rich man who she doesn’t have to sleep with if she doesn’t want to? Easy money. At least that’s the way it was supposed to go.

Each installment in the Calendar Girl Serial will release every month throughout 2015. The stories will feature Mia, told from her perspective as she continues her journey as an escort to twelve clients in twelve different locations.

Warning: This book is designed for audiences 18+ due to language and graphic sexual content.


4. MacKenzie Fire by Elle Casey

 The first night after Caroline moves into her fantastic new San Francisco apartment, she realizes she’s gaining an intimate knowledge of her new neighbor’s nocturnal adventures. Thanks to paper-thin walls and the guy’s athletic prowess, she can hear not just his bed banging against the wall but the ecstatic response of what seems (as loud night after loud night goes by) like an endless parade of women. And since Caroline is currently on a self-imposed dating hiatus, and her neighbor is clearly lethally attractive to women, she finds her fantasies keep her awake even longer than the noise. So when the wallbanging threatens to literally bounce her out of bed, Caroline, clad in sexual frustration and a pink baby-doll nightie, confronts Simon Parker, her heard-but-never-seen neighbor. The tension between them is as thick as the walls are thin, and the results just as mixed. Suddenly, Caroline is finding she may have discovered a whole new definition of neighborly…

In a delicious mix of silly and steamy, Alice Clayton dishes out a hot and hilarious tale of exasperation at first sight…

 

 


5. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

 Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.


6. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen

 A hilarious and moving memoir—in the spirit of Anne Lamott and Nora Ephron—about a woman who returns home to her close-knit Mennonite family after a personal crisis

Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her brilliant husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on Gay.com, but that same week a car accident left her with serious injuries. What was a gal to do? Rhoda packed her bags and went home. This wasn’t just any home, though. This was a Mennonite home. While Rhoda had long ventured out on her own spiritual path, the conservative community welcomed her back with open arms and offbeat advice. (Rhoda’s good-natured mother suggested she date her first cousin—he owned a tractor, see.) It is in this safe place that Rhoda can come to terms with her failed marriage; her desire, as a young woman, to leave her sheltered world behind; and the choices that both freed and entrapped her.

Written with wry humor and huge personality—and tackling faith, love, family, and aging—Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is an immensely moving memoir of healing, certain to touch anyone who has ever had to look homeward in order to move ahead.


7. Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

 Ruth Reichl, world-renowned food critic and editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, knows a thing or two about food. She also knows that as the most important food critic in the country, you need to be anonymous when reviewing some of the most high-profile establishments in the biggest restaurant town in the world–a charge she took very seriously, taking on the guise of a series of eccentric personalities. In Garlic and Sapphires, Reichl reveals the comic absurdity, artifice, and excellence to be found in the sumptuously appointed stages of the epicurean world and gives us–along with some of her favorite recipes and reviews–her remarkable reflections on how one’s outer appearance can influence one’s inner character, expectations, and appetites, not to mention the quality of service one receives.

 

 

 

 


8. In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins

 Emmaline Neal needs a date. Just a date—someone to help her get through her ex-fiancé’s wedding without losing her mind. But pickings are slim in Manningsport, New York, population 715. In fact, there’s really only one option: local heartthrob Jack Holland. Everyone loves Jack, and he won’t get the wrong idea…. After all, Jack Holland would never actually be interested in a woman like Em. Especially not with his beautiful ex-wife creeping around, angling to reunite ever since he rescued a group of teens and became a local hero.

But when the wedding festivities take an unexpectedly passionate turn, Em figures it was just one crazy night. Jack is too gorgeous, too popular, to ever end up with her. So why is she the one he can talk to about his deep, dark feelings? If Em is going to get her dream man, she’ll have to start by believing in him…

 

 

 


9. Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth by Jenny McCarthy

 Oh, the joys of pregnancy! There’s the gassiness, constipation, queasiness, and exhaustion, the forgetfulness, crankiness, and the constant worry. Of course, no woman is spared the discomforts and humiliations of pregnancy, but most are too polite to complain or too embarrassed to talk about them. Not Jenny McCarthy! In the New York Times best-selling Belly Laughs, actress and new mother Jenny McCarthy reveals the naked truth about the tremendous joys, the excruciating pains, and the unseemly disfigurement that go along with pregnancy. Never shy, frequently crude, and always laugh-out-loud funny, McCarthy covers it all in the grittiest of girlfriend detail. From morning sickness and hormonal rage, to hemorrhoids, pregnant sex, and the torture and sweet relief that is delivery, Belly Laughsis must-read comic relief for anyone who is pregnant, who has ever been pregnant, is trying to get pregnant, or, indeed, has ever been born!

 

 

 

 


10. Yes, My Accent is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You By Kunal Nayyar

 Of all the charming misfits on television, there’s no doubt Raj from The Big Bang Theory — the sincere yet incurably geeky Indian-American astrophysicist — ranks among the misfittingest. Now, we meet the actor who is every bit as loveable as the character he plays on TV. In this revealing collection of essays written in his irreverent, hilarious, and self-deprecating voice, Kunal Nayyar traces his journey from a little boy in New Delhi who mistakes an awkward first kiss for a sacred commitment, gets nosebleeds chugging Coca-Cola to impress other students, and excels in the sport of badminton, to the confident, successful actor on the set of TV’s most-watched sitcom since Friends.

Going behind the scenes of The Big Bang Theory and into his personal experiences, Kunal introduces readers to the people who helped him grow, such as his James Bond-loving, mustachioed father who taught him the most important lessons in life: Treat a beggar as you would a king. There are two sides to every story. A smile goes a long way. And, when in doubt, use a spreadsheet. Kunal also walks us through his college years in Portland, where he takes his first sips of alcohol and learns to let loose with his French, 6’8” gentle-giant roommate, works his first-ever job for the university’s housekeeping department cleaning toilets for minimum wage, and begins a series of romantic exploits that go just about as well as they would for Raj. (That is, until he meets and marries a former Miss India in an elaborate seven-day event that we get to experience in a chapter titled “My Big Fat Indian Wedding.”)

Full of heart, but never taking itself too seriously, this witty and often inspiring collection of underdog tales follows a young man as he traverses two continents in search of a dream, along the way transcending culture and language (and many, many embarrassing incidents) to somehow miraculously land the role of a lifetime.


 

What books have made you laugh?

 

Why Not Me?

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Publication Date: September 15, 2015

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Synopsis:

Welcome to Mindy Kaling’s mind. In this memoir, you will read about her experiences before and after fame. You will learn her thoughts on beauty, weight, dating and friends.


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Okay, so if I’m being completely honest Why Not Me? should probably be more of a 3 star review. I gave it 4 stars because I love Mindy Kaling. I want her to be my friend (Maybe I should have gone with 5 stars…). She’s super funny and would fit right in with the rest of my friends. We would have so much fun together!

So, while Why Not Me? was not particularly Earth shattering, it did have great entertainment value. Like her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), It’s ramblings from Mindy’s mind. It was funny. I can honestly say there were several parts where I laughed out loud. (Criminals, Will, emails–if you’re reading it and want to know.) I liked getting to know more about Mindy and get a glimpse into what life’s been like for her.

If you’re a Mindy Kaling or Mindy Lahiri fan, you will enjoy this book. If you’re not a fan and she annoys the crap out of you, don’t read this book. You’ll just be torturing yourself.