Category Archives: Book Review

Zeroes, by Chuck Wendig – A Book Review

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Zeroes, by Chuck Wendig – A Book Review

As usual I’m late to the party. I first heard about Chuck Wendig when his blog post, an open letter rant about tiny houses went viral in 2016. I became an instant fan. If you’re not opposed to laughter and you have 3 minutes, it’s worth the time Tiny Houses

I got to meet Mr. Wendig at the Writer’s Digest conference in New York City in 2017. He was a panelist and I was nerd fan girl (perimenopausal fan girl, ya know the best kind, hot as in “flashes”). Anyway, I didn’t stalk him or anything, I have a life damn it. Sometimes I read his blog and sometimes I don’t have time (I’m a shitty stalker). Truth is I follow a lot of blogs and many of those writers have become personal friends or at least online acquaintances and I prioritize my reading time accordingly, sorry Chuck. (pssst…..Chuck doesn’t give a f*ck about what blogs I read).

A couple of months ago I was browsing in a local independent bookstore because that’s my happy place. I came across a signed copy of Zeroes by you guessed it, Chuck Wendig. If you’re like me author signed books create a nice buzz. Not as potent as that Judy Blume signature I got in person in 2017 for In the Unlikely Event but not bad for a random Tuesday. The book collected dust until it got selected for my airplane read on a recent trip.

I must confess that I am a lifelong card carrying member of the Luddite Society. My card is a 4′ by 4″ piece of slate with C A R D etched into it. In other words, I am not technologically savvy. My husband is a nerd and he keeps me current on gadgets and I feed him home cooked Italian meals, it’s how we work. I would still use a rotary phone and maps if it didn’t embarrass my family so much.

So imagine my surprise when I loved this book despite the fact that it was about hackers and AI gone terribly wrong. The main characters were intriguing and I cared about them – well, except for that asshole Shane (he was on the peripheral so it’s OK). Basically five hackers are brought together to work on a secret government project. They are an unlikely group with varying degrees of skill and social beliefs. By the end of the novel they all hold hands and sing Kumbaya with incense burning (not really).

My lack of knowledge may have helped me to buy into the plot….you don’t know what you don’t know. I don’t have the technical grit to argue the story line or ferret out glitches and that’s fine. Not sure if a more savvy reader would find faults that were blissfully absent in my perspective. The bottom line is I cared about the characters which I think is the most important part of writing fiction. If I don’t give a shit about the people in the book, I’m not sticking around.

The idea of artificial intelligence and every day surveillance pressed the correct buttons in my mind. I am concerned about the overall lack of discomfort regarding the loss of personal privacy. My kids have grown up with smart phones, GPS, social media and appliances that spy on us within our own home, they don’t have any concept of being off the grid. I give this book a massive thumbs up (you see that Big Brother, of course you did).

PS: This book came out in 2015 because, Luddite. Did I mention that I am always late to the party, yeah, I did.

 

 

 

 

 

Booked!

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Booked!

You ever have a day that seems to have it’s own theme? That weirdness happened to me yesterday and the common thread was books. Common thread is an oxymoron because although books were featured throughout the day, the intention and context varied wildly. I’ve already corrected myself and I haven’t made it out of the first paragraph yet, yeah me. In the interest of saving time and not boring you to tears, I’ve created a list to explain myself:

1. I found out yesterday that an essay I submitted was rejected for a anthology. It’s fine (*sniff*sniff*), the collaborator was super nice about letting me down. I wish every rejection in life came with that much consideration. I thought about sending her flowers afterwards, it was that kind.

2. There was a fundraiser for our high school library and I donated. I’m all for more books, all the time.

3. I’m currently reading, Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Why yes it did come out 5 years ago what’s your point? I like it. It has mixed reviews on Goodreads, some people want more dirty laundry. I don’t, it’s authentic without giving the reader too many cringe-worthy personal accounts. I don’t need to know why she got divorced or the details of her married sex life. She has kids that I guarantee, never want to read that. There is a part in the book called plain girl versus the demon which really resonated. I don’t know a woman alive that hasn’t gone through that particular self-deprecating hell.

4. Speaking of hell, my kids high school had an ALICE drill. For the uninitiated, that is the protocol in place for active shooter drills (isn’t that sweet, I mean we have fire drills, better chance of getting shot at than experiencing a fire at this point). Students were instructed to move heavy furniture to block doors, ladders will be provided to evacuate the second floor classes and books will be used as potential shields or to distract yourself while your classmates are getting shot at – I hear War and Peace pairs well with a school shooting. In any event, it’s a nice thick book and that may slow the bullets enough to not die, maybe.

In an effort to not obsess about that last bit, tell me what you’re reading in the comments.

 

Thanks for Asking

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Thanks for Asking

The idea for this post came from the talented, fierce and very funny, Janelle Hanchett. Somehow she accepted my Facebook friend request a few years ago and by some miracle she hasn’t unfriended me yet. Anyhoo, Janelle posted a completely made up Q & A as supplemental material for her paperback. Of course it was funny because she’s awesome like that. And I discovered that we both like Ginger Beer (calm down it’s not actually beer, we’re sober gals). Here’s a link to her book and in full disclosure, I get nothing but good vibes for the mention. I’m Just Happy to Be Here

I read her Facebook post and thought, I can take that and turn it into a blog post because I’m apparently too lazy to write an actual book. So I’m going to one up my girl Janelle and have a fake book (kind of fake, actually it’s a partially finished book) to go along with my quasi fake book’s Q & A. I will refer to my imaginary interviewer as “Skip” and I will respond as Super Cringe.

Skip: Thanks for taking time from your world wide book tour to talk to me. Might I add that you look amazing and I’m a major fan (wink).

Super Cringe: My pleasure Skip. I had some time to kill before my private jet leaves for Copenhagen so why the hell not. Fire away Skipper.

Skip: Great let’s dive in…so where did you get the idea for Super Cringe?

Super Cringe: The idea sprang from a text exchange with my teen daughter who responded to one of my texts with Super Cringe there was also an Ewwww implied but not included in the text. I could hear the audible eye roll even though we were at least 12 miles apart, her eye roll game is really strong. I thought wouldn’t it be fun to create a character named Super Cringe.

Skip: So you decided to turn your daughter’s insult into the anti heroine Super Cringe, is that correct?

Super Cringe: B-I-N-G-O Skippy!

Skip: Wow, that’s kind of brilliant.

Super Cringe: Is it? I hadn’t really noticed but these books are flying off the shelf so….holds palms and head up toward sky with an exaggerated shrug-sigh.

Skip: How did you find the time to write Super Cringe? I hear you have a small business and that you volunteer regularly in addition to your family obligations.

Super Cringe: Oh Skippy, writers don’t “find” time to write, they steal it. Time isn’t hiding in-between couch cushions or stashed in a coat pocket that you forgot about. I had to sneak writing time in…15 minutes here, an hour there. I basically would ignore my children when they begged for food and/or attention, my husband and dog were neglected, that’s the writer’s way.

Skip: Aside from being on every major best-selling book list on earth, is there something else you wish to accomplish with this book?

Super Cringe: Of course Skipper…I mean being a best-selling globe trotting author is fantastic, it’s a dream come true. However, there are more important matters. I would love for this book to open a space where people can come together, see that they have more in common, find the sweet spot of humanity. World peace would be great….(whispers) f*cking world peace from Super Cringe (stares off for a minute, slowly nods head).

Skip: Um, Super Cringe, you with me…

Super Cringe: Apologies, I was just visualizing world peace. I also wouldn’t mind if this book got me back the body I had at 28 Skip, I mean that was a damn good year. And being able to eat whatever I wanted without consequence, pass the Oreos.

Skip: (Nervous laugh) So getting back to the book…it’s basically your life with some of the more cringe-worthy bits highlighted.

Super Cringe: That’s right Skip, I own my cringe.

Skip: Fascinating, do you have another book in you?

Super Cringe: Well I haven’t stopped my cringe-worthy ways so I suspect this may become a series. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

* Featured art is by Lisa McMillen of http://www.cicalisadesigns.com/

The Badass & A ‘Fro Below

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The Badass & A ‘Fro Below

Last night I was at a book club meeting with some friends. I think we all know that “book club” is code for over indulging in food and adult beverages in the suburbs. I partook in the food and limited beverages to water because I prefer to chew my calories. I am sworn to secrecy regarding my companions (not really, no one got sloppy). I will say I ate a hamster’s weight in bacon wrapped dates and I regret nothing, N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

The book we were discussing was Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares by Sherry Stanfa-Stanley. FindingMyBadassSelf  I met Sherry at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Conference this past April and we hit it off. After the conference I contacted Sherry because I wanted to purchase 10 of her books. I turned the big ‘5-OH’ in June and I decided to give the books as a favor to the ladies who attended my birthday dinner. At that dinner a friend offered to host a book club to discuss it.

The book gave a description of Sherry’s experiences while ticking off an eclectic bucket list of things that pushed her out of her comfort zone. The tone of the book is friendly with a good amount of humor. It’s an interesting and fun read. I read the book in early May and one thing that stood out to me was the rhino situation. There are a few lines in the book that caught my attention (page 193 if you happen to have a copy):

(Sherry) “Oh! I think he’s going to pee!”

“Um, no,” Robin said. “See his equipment down there? This is similar to how we manually ejaculate him.”

I read that and I immediately had a stream of questions and thoughts. Here are some of them in no particular order:

Holy sh*t is this rhino getting happy endings as part of his care?

How often?

Is it always the same person or does this task get rotated? (and really which one is more disturbing; a rotating team of happy ending professionals or a single individual responsible for the “the job”? I’m still debating that. I’m leaning toward the one individual being worse because then it seems like an exclusive relationship, this bothers me. Is it consensual?)

Anyhow there were 52 unique and interesting experiences described in the book and this one was the one that haunted me. I may be a 12 year old boy trapped in the body of a midlife female.

Other topics carried over into things we had tried in our own life – one person jumped out of perfectly good airplanes several times (for fun, the weirdo). Others discussed being on nude beaches, eating in the dark, zip lines, sex shops (I told you it was a good book) and the “woes of waxing”.

I got a Brazilian wax once so I had some skin in the game on this one (wink for those that have experienced it). For the uninitiated, there is no amount of candle light, chanting monks and calming incense that can tame the horror of getting your lady bits waxed. Basically you are placed on a table with your legs pushed as close to your head as possible. The goal is to have your feet nestled beside your ears, easy peasy if you happen to be a double jointed acrobat, a ballerina or an expert level Yogi. Sadly I can not list any of those credentials on my resume.

I’m fairly bendy though so positioning was not the worst part. The worst part is having a Gyno light switched on while you are in that position and happen to be naked (or wearing a thong whose sole purpose is to help you pretend you have some modesty….insert maniacal laugh…you don’t, it’s all gone, it left with dignity.) Once the hospital-like floodlight is pointed toward your nether regions, a thin coat of hot (think lava) wax is applied to your most delicate areas – front to back. Then because that isn’t awful enough, tape is used to yank the wax and hair off (perhaps with some skin and 13% of your soul) At some point the technician will ask what your pruning preference is for the front of the house. The options range from geometric shapes to completely bald. I went with the landing strip option. A lightning bolt would have been cool sadly, I didn’t think of it until after and I never went back (that was 2007).

One of my friends who attended last night sent me a link to an article this morning which described a hairy situation. Apparently there is a feminist movement for growing out hair where in previous years the trends have been to shave or wax (down below, armpits, legs, anywhere). I replied with a big nope. Do what you want ladies, I’ll keep the ‘fro below to a crew cut.

 

 

 

 

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