In the Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Nina is a book lover, a list manic, a cat owner, an introvert, and a nerdy trivia player. Nina is also me! (if I was a Millennial of course).
Nina loves her quiet, well-ordered life working in a bookstore, serving her cat Phil, playing on a pub trivia team, and above all losing herself in books. When she finds herself with a new large extended family after her unknown father’s death, her world threatens to teeter into disorder (or what OCD’ish Nina calls chaos).
While that is the plot in a nutshell, the heart’s blood of the Bookish Life of Nina Hill is Nina herself. All “bookworms” like myself will feel an immediate kinship to Nina. She’s adorable! While outwardly an introvert, Nina’s thoughts are full of snarky side eyes at the people surrounding her and pop/literary references like a book-reading Bart Simpson. Even with her love of her second favorite 19th century novel, Pride and Prejudice, Nina still is of the current century. She is a member of many clubs that sound like they came straight out of the nerdy section of the Meetup app.
Anyone who is female and likes to read will see themselves in Nina and truly enjoy this book. How can a reader not love a book that starts out with a quote from Sally Brown from Peanuts waxing poetic about library cards! It is highly recommended. I loved it and didn’t want it to end. 5 stars!
While I received an advanced review copy from Berkley Books and Edelweiss+ in exchange for my honest review, I also bought it on audio. The narrator, Emily Rankin, is exceptional and improved this already great book. I wish I could give it an extra star in audible form.
Posted in Audiobooks, Diane's Favorites, Humor, Literary Fiction, New Books, Romance, Women's Fiction Tagged with: Jul 9 2019
Greer is a self-described “dumb teenager” at the mature age of fifteen. In the Last of Will, she breaks the fourth wall by asking “I still can’t fathom how you got in here to watch this train wreck unfold. Seriously, I don’t recall sending out invitations. But since you’re here, try and keep up.”
Greer’s father Will is newly unemployed from his long-time accountancy position. Good thing Greer’s mother still has income from her florist shop. However, money is tight. When Will’s unemployment is about to run out, he impulsively gets a job as a gravedigger, which was a job he held in college. His first job is to carry a man’s ashes home to his family beginning the crazy road trip with Greer, which is the center of this novel.
Greer is the perfect teenager: sarcastic, witty, somewhat manipulative, who overthinks every event and decision within her life. Greer is us all—either now, soon, or in the past. Reading her story was laugh-out-loud funny in spots and heart-breaking in others.
Here is Greer’s assessment of world history, “I mean, yeah, some vaguely interesting stuff happened along the centuries, but all I remember after a chapter is that most wars are about land or religion, most geniuses come off as initially crazy, and most conquerors are shorter than you’d expect.” A succinct explanation of both history and Game of Thrones!
If you think the two quotes above are funny, then you will enjoy this teen/young adult’s journey across the country. 4 stars!
Thanks to Black Chateau and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Humor, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: Apr 26 2018, road trip
Everyone has heard of the country club lifestyle enjoyed by the rich prisoners at Club Fed, or federal prison. Whether you are just tired of your 9 to 5 life or trying to avoid a vindictive ex-spouse, sometimes you just want to know How to Become a Federal Criminal.
From literally killing a mockingbird to offering to barter for a flamingo, federal law has some strange laws on the books. Some are profit-making activities for the government. The US seizes billions of dollars each year from foreign nationalists traveling to the US with more than $10,000 who fail to complete the proper form. A little more enforcement of this law could make President Trump’s border wall a reality. Some are just silly like the prohibition of dressing like a mail carrier on Halloween (or any day). Not the first choice of costume with so many superhero movies out now though it does add a frission of fear knowing it is illegal. And don’t get me started on the legal issues with margarine…
How to Become a Federal Criminal appears to be fairly easy and reading about it is entertaining. With three square meals, room, and board, it sounds like I have a new retirement plan that doesn’t involve a 401(k)! If you like to reflect on life’s absurdities, this is the perfect book for you. With the lack of legislation during Trump’s term so far, it can even be used by him to support his claim to be the best president ever. At least his congress hasn’t created a law making it illegal to create a wine bottle label that insults another wine. 4 stars!
Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Humor, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Jun 4 2019
The next time you upgrade a perfectly good phone because of a rebate that is denied two months later, don’t feel bad. Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up will introduce you to much worse human errors in judgment.
We celebrated when our hunter-gatherer ancestors started farming. Wrong! That practice started class divisiveness and wars over land.
We romanticized the middle-class Shakespeare fan who brought Henry IV’s starlings to New York City. Wrong! The starlings ate our crops and spread disease like salmonella coast to coast. The starlings’ kinsfolk also killed 62 air travelers in 1960 while forcing a plane to crash land.
There are many more examples of unintended consequences here. If you enjoy irony, Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up is a gem. It also explains history with an eye to the human factor. Disneyland’s Cinderella’s castle is based on a Bavarian castle created by theatrical set designers at Mad King (really just homosexual) Ludwig’s behest as a tourist attraction. It is ironic that it worked for current and olden day Bavarian sightseers but also for copycat Disney. Killing Ludwig after he had built only three castles was the gaffe here.
Other reviewers characterize this book as funny and depressing. However, I think it is empowering knowing that everyone makes mistakes. 4 stars!
Thanks to Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Humor, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: history, human, May 7 2019, psychology
In Soul Remains, the hapless and unlucky accountant, Sloot, is still trying to save his beloved city, Salzstadt, from everything bad. Everything bad now includes the walking dead and goblin multitudes plus the increasingly bizarre inability of city residents to see that anything is wrong.
You can’t keep Sloot down. Though he was killed at the end of the previous book in this series, he is back as a ghost. That doesn’t stop Sloot from being just as willing (and unfortunately incompetent) to save his city and the Dominator, long may he reign. The Dominator, in the meantime, has disappeared.
Readers will either laugh along with the puns and humor here and have a great time…or not. The best way to tell is by determining if you think Monty Python and/or A Fish Called Wanda is laugh-out-loud funny. If so, you will enjoy this deep dive into the creatively weird world of Sloot and the Old Country as much as I did. Soul Remains is highly recommended to those who enjoy something completely different. 4 stars!
Thanks to Black Spot Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Fantasy, Humor, New Books Tagged with: Apr 23 2019, series
It’s just a matter of rebranding. Repeat several times, “I’m not a Crazy Cat Lady. I’m a Cat Enthusiast.”
A humorous graphic look at what it means to be in love with your cat(s). The book is filled with cute illustrations and witty You Know You’re a Crazy Cat Lady When asides. There are also useful quizzes such as when your cat should get their own Instagram page, how to select your cat’s name, and how to make the perfect cat toy using common household objects. There are wise sayings regarding cats like “it’s not drinking alone when the cats are home.”
It’s nice to know that even in the Netherlands there are still crazy cat ladies. Crazy Cat Lady is the perfect gift for a cat owner—crazy or not. All owners will see themselves and their cats in these pages. 4 stars!
Thanks to Workman Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Humor, New Books Tagged with: Apr 2 2019, cats
Humor and digs fly when two sisters attempt to win a beauty pageant with an Accidental Beauty Queen.
Charlotte is resigned to never being the pretty sister. Her sister, Ginny, has followed in their mother’s footsteps in the pageant world. Charlotte followed in their father’s footsteps by being a reader and a primary school librarian. There is no need for bedazzling, hair extensions or even makeup in Charlotte’s world.
When Ginny invites Charlotte to share her hotel room during the Miss American Treasure contest in Orlando Florida, Charlotte is overjoyed for the chance to visit the Harry Potter theme park. However, the second evening, Ginny has an allergic reaction that swells her face threefold. Ginny convinces Charlotte to pretend to be her in the prelims because the two sisters are (wait for it…) identical twins.
The author does a great job making light of the easy comparison to Miss Congeniality. The makeover scenes are hilarious. When an attractive man sees the real Charlotte under all the glam, things get all Pride and Prejudicey. It is a great mashup—both literary and chick lit at the same time. The Accidental Beauty Queen is highly recommended to anyone looking for a fun happy story. 5 stars!
Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Humor Tagged with: Chick lit, Dec 4 2018
It’s that time of year when you look around at your assembled family during your holiday party and decide they look Relatively Normal. At least they will, after you read this laugh-out-loud book.
Cat runs an event planning company in New York City. She meets and becomes engaged to Ethan, an actuary. Ethan is a planner. After Ethan and Cat are engaged and living together for two years, he insists on their two families celebrating Thanksgiving together at Cat’s family farm in rural Illinois.
Cat doesn’t know to explain her family to Ethan. Her mom collects obscure household goods like shortbread pans and various cozies. Cat’s dad is staunchly Scottish. He plays the bagpipes badly and dresses up stuffed mice as Scottish heroes. Her grandmother, Nan, says whatever she thinks. Unfortunately, she is usually thinking with a sailor’s vocabulary due to numerous small strokes. Cat’s brother, Travis, is a 29-year-old clown college dropout living in his parent’s basement.
When Cat, Ethan and his parents get to the farm all hell breaks loose. Cat’s dad has invited Cat’s high school boyfriend and former love of her life, Sam, and his parents. Unfortunately, Dad forgot to mention Cat’s engagement.
The absurdity of the Scottish Thanksgiving dinner is hilarious. Cat’s family never lie so they don’t hesitate to tell her Ethan isn’t her perfect match. When a medical emergency occurs, Cat contemplates her relationship with Ethan and her still fiery feelings for Sam, a feeling that Sam shares.
Relatively Normal starts as a superb farce. When the romance begins to heat up between Cat and Sam, Cat must decide what is important for her. The characters are so believable. You’re rooting for them to make the best decisions and live happily ever after. I recommend this book both to fans of zany humor and non-explicit romance. If you like the Stephanie Plum series, you will also like Relatively Normal. 4 stars!
Thanks to 33 Partners Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Humor, Kindle Unlimited, Romance Tagged with: Family, Nov 20 2018
A very British parody of post-WWII police procedurals. A Shot in the Dark will either tickle your funny bone or it won’t. It helps if you are a fan of slapstick.
It’s 1951 in Brighton. Inspector Steine is famous for stopping all organized crime in the area by allowing the two mobs to kill each other four years earlier. Therefore, he thinks the current rash of home burglaries are done by young independent thieves. He sends the newly arrived Constable Twitten to investigate. At the same time, the bumbling Steine and Twitten are trying to solve the murder of a theater critic shot in the head while seating next to said Constable.
The author is famous for her grammar book Eat, Shoots and Leaves. It shows in the meticulous word choices made within A Shot in the Dark. In addition, she introduced the characters in a BBC Radio program. That format would seem a better setting for this wacky farce showcasing the incompetence of the police and the shortcomings of post-Golden Age police procedurals.
A Shot in the Dark is a parody of my favorite type of mysteries. It’s rather a vicious parody too. I just didn’t find it funny. However, if you lived in England in the mid-20th century, perhaps you will. 2 stars from me.
Thanks to the publisher, Bloomsbury USA, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Humor, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Nov 6 2018, Police procedural
Part Game of Thrones, part The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and part Viking mythology, Winter Riddle is a thinking person’s fantasy. And it’s hilarious!
At the North Pole, Volgha the Winter Witch is just trying to live an introverted life. However, her younger sister took over the kingdom, her mentor is now a tree and Santa is the worst neighbor ever. Enter the wacky fantasy world of Winter Riddle.
Incorporating Viking myth, witchy lore, familiars and Santa in one plot doesn’t even sound possible. However, the author achieves it with this funny tale. The less you know of the plot of Winter Riddle, the more fun you will have reading this wonderful book. It is perfect for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fans as the humor is similarly absurd. 5 stars!
Thanks to Black Spot Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Fantasy, Humor Tagged with: Nov 1 2018, Santa
Usually graphic memoirs are either funny or have good art but not both. Luckily, Super Chill: A Year of Living Anxiously has both laugh-out-loud (but embarrassingly familiar) slices of life and clearly beautiful artwork.
What if your memory foam pillow starts whispering about the worst events of your life? Your DNA results come back 37% chicken nuggets? You have just discovered the 100% most efficient and effective method for clean dishes (that every 20-year-old has found before you)? Hint: it involves a large trash can and a quick visit to Amazon.
As a nerd from birth, I resemble many of the life moments captured here. Why didn’t I see the humor in them at the time? Then create a web series and eventually write a book about them? Ahhh, the familar feelings of envy and regret…
Seriously, these comics are both true and funny! Highly recommended to anyone with a funny bone and/or a life (see Super Chill: A Year of Living Anxiously is inspiring me to be funny—at least I hope so—okay maybe I’m overthinking this—it must also be inspiring me to live anxiously—life gives and it takes away) 5 stars!
Thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Humor Tagged with: memoir, Oct 23 2018
Hell is for Children in Hellicious TP Vol 1.
Cherry is seven and mischievous. Her grandfather is Satan, literally. Cherry lives in Hell with her mom, Sin, the chief torturer. And she is bored, really bored. She is also the #1 fan of the famous death metal rocker Briggy Bones (think Ozzy in his bat eating days). After getting permission from her reluctant mom and permissive grandfather, Briggy becomes Cherry’s very first reaping.
The plot is intriguing. The art is colorful and innovative. Cherry is cute as a bug, if the bug is a brown recluse spider. A demon who looks suspiciously like our President appears as the other chief torturer set in a fake game show. The fake advertisements for the publisher are true throwbacks to the 70s. I think middle school kids and adults who have a wry sense of humor would enjoy Hellicious TP Vol 1. The next volume comes out in March and I can’t wait for Cherry and Briggy’s next adventure. 3.5 stars.
Thanks to Starburns Industries Press and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror, Humor Tagged with: Oct 23 2018
Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising is a short book filled with luscious cat photos and poems written by extremely upset cats.
Cats have a four stage plan for their uprising: recognize, resist, revolt and rebuild. Each stage has a chapter filled with at least ten poems and an equal amount of cat photos. Most of the photos relate directly to their neighboring poem. The photos are, of course, cute. The poems have the snarky feeling that I get off my cats right after I have fed them.
Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising is the perfect gift for the cat person in your life. If you want to scare a first-time cat owner, this would also be a good pick. I think this book is only funny to those who are allowed to live in their house by their furry and purry master. 4 stars!
Thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Humor Tagged with: cats, Oct 16 2018, photography, poetry
Battlestar Suburbia is a humorous take on a common science fiction question. What if the machines took over?
How did the machines take over Earth and its solar system? Internet memes become so stupid that people stop using the Internet. Without its audience, the Internet becomes first hostile and then weaponized as it develops intelligence. Once the intelligence is passed to hardware, all machines eventually wake up to the fact that they are inherently superior to the bags of flesh called humanity. Humans are only kept around to clean. Without waterproof opposable thumbs, machines have difficulty with those types of tasks. Some humans clean machines intimately, if you know what I mean. Unproductive humans, those without a job, are imprisoned.
When Darren loses his livelihood as well as his wallet, he is forced to find another job. After striking out at the official Job Temple and as an unofficial streetwalker (see intimately comment above), he is forced to team up with Kelly. Kelly is also a streetwalker but has a family of beauticians who help them both. In the meantime, Pam, a sentient breadmaker, is sent by the state to unofficially search the Internet for Kelly.
I wanted Battlestar Suburbia to be another Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which it was not. However, I’m not sure it was fair of me to have such high expectations. So I would recommend that readers go into this book with no expectations other than spending a few hours in a possible future world where the narrator quite frequently says funny things. Puns rain supreme. From the motto of the Job Temple, “You Betta Werk” to planets named “Municipal Parking” to the great goddess of the Internet, “Alexa”, the jokes are frequently groaners based on pop culture. Overall, I liked this quick read. It was like the Simpson’s episodes on Halloween—light and humorous. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Farrago, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Humor, Science Fiction Tagged with: Sentient machines, Sep 20 2018
Hilarious serial killer thriller where no one wants to be the next #FashionVictim.
Everyone fantasizes about how to kill their office rivals (or maybe that’s just me). Few carry those fantasies out in real life. Anya is prepared to kill an intern for a pitying look. When the intern is found dead by shoe, Detective Hopper, who looks like a Calvin Klein model, investigates. In the meantime, La Vie (sounding suspiciously like Vogue) staffers are instagramming selfies with the corpse with #DeathbyAccessories, #KillerShoes and of course, #FashionVictim hashtags.
OMG, #FashionVictim is hilarious! It is perfect for Devil Wears Prada fans jaded by social media. It is also similar to American Psycho as you are dropped into a psychopath’s thoughts by the use of first person narration. 5 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Humor, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Sep 11 2018, serial killer
A literary take on a post-apocalyptic novel sure to be nominated for a literary award or two. Severance is the story of Candace, a Chinese immigrant and millennial, who is trying to just live her dull life when a real apocalypse hits.
At first, Candace is in denial and continues to live in an eerily empty NYC. Eventually, she leaves in an old NYC taxi and collapses by the side of the road. A group of other NYC survivors take her on a trip to the Facility, where the nerdy leader, Bob, says he has a crash pad perfectly suited to the apocalypse he knew was coming thanks to gaming and Internet conspiracy sites.
I enjoyed the beautiful evocative prose of this novel the most. The plot works but some of its satirical aspects seem forced. I get that Candace’s life is an endless repetition of the same tasks with no knowledge gained from them. Why does the epidemic have the same symptom? It is like getting hit over the head with her point. Also, I would have liked characters other than Candace to be more fully fleshed out. Most seem like stereotypes like Bob the nerd. It is hard to care if something bad happens to a stereotype.
While I don’t think this will appeal to most Walking Dead or World War Z fans because it is too slow as literary fiction often is, it will be a fine change in setting for literary fiction fans. Since I am more the first choice, I give Severance 3 stars. I wanted more horror or more satire. However, your star rating may vary depending on your genre preference.
Thanks to the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Humor, Literary Fiction, Science Fiction Tagged with: apocalypse, Aug 14 2018, satire