The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hayes

imageSome people are born boring. Some live boring. Some even die boring. Fred managed to do all three, and when he woke up as a vampire, he did so as a boring one. Timid, socially awkward, and plagued by self-esteem issues, Fred has never been the adventurous sort.

One fateful night – different from the night he died, which was more inconvenient than fateful – Fred reconnects with an old friend at his high school reunion. This rekindled relationship sets off a chain of events thrusting him right into the chaos that is the parahuman world, a world with chipper zombies, truck driver wereponies, maniacal necromancers, ancient dragons, and now one undead accountant trying his best to “survive.” Because even after it’s over, life can still be a downright bloody mess. 

 

Who wouldn’t like a vampire book where the vampire in question is called Fred. He isn’t your usual vamp, he’s not muscular or fast or even good looking. Fred is an accountant who wears button down shirts, sweater vests and loafers for crying out loud! He doesn’t understand most of his power, he knows he is fast, has a faster metabolism and has heightened senses. He is also a bit of a coward, he likes to avoid confrontation and runs away from danger.

He gets himself into some seriously dangerous situations when he meets up with an old high school friend, Krystal, who is part of an organization called The Agency, who deal with parahumans. Along with a zombie called Albert, a werehorse called Bubba, mages Neil and Amy he finds himself in some strange situations.

This book is a hoot! It’s not your normal pumped up vampire paranormal book, it’s about a strange young man who was made but not really understanding everything he needs to know regarding his powers. He is the least likely vamp you will ever meet. That’s what makes it so much fun, instead of using brawn to get out of situations he uses hits wits. If you are looking for something different, look no further!

4/5 stars

Crash

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Burned Bridges of Ward Nebraska by Eileen Curtright

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There are no secrets in a small town. For someone like Rebecca, that can get awkward.

Rebecca Meer’s hometown of Ward, Nebraska, is small—so small that she can’t even sneak home after a drunken girls’ night without running into at least three people she knows. But she has bigger problems than her reputation. The head doctor at her fertility clinic is losing his mind, and his wild behavior could cost them the business. Her super successful ex-boyfriend has blown back into town and somehow become her son’s fifth-grade teacher—now her son is asking awkward questions about the end of their relationship. Rebecca can’t even run the PTA’s annual food drive without getting mixed up with criminals. In Eileen Curtright’s astute comedy, we see just how far a stressed-out single parent will go to be the “perfect” mother.

The people in this town are nuts! A principal who isn’t a principal, a teacher who isn’t a teacher and women hell bent on medicating their children with the latest in ADHD meds, throw in some criminal antics for the annual food drive and you have the start of how things are going to go.

In England there is an expression “Mad half hour” where someone goes off kilter for a short period and then goes back to their usual self…. Well this whole town seems to have a mad half hour and then some! The cast of characters are wide and varied but really well written and a fun book to read.   I have to say that Dr Thad’s behaviour was downright funny! Not so much in what he said but the way he acted. Kevin Holts is bent on warping the young 5th grade minds he is in charge of. Becky starts off as the only sane person in the town but as things decent more and more into madness she is slowly sucked into it. The only seemingly voice of reason has lost hers.

To be honest when I started it I wasn’t sure where it was going but I was glad I stuck around for the ride! I laughed quite a bit in parts and it’s one of those light fun reads we all need now and again.

Book provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

4/5 stars

Crash

 

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Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes

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Is that? No, it can’t be. Yes it is Hitler on the cover. Adolph Hitler wakes to find himself on a field in Berlin 2011. No mention is made as to how or why this has happened and by the end of the first two chapters or so you don’t even question it yourself. He finds himself lost and wondering what has happened to him and where all the others must be. He is dressed in the military uniform of his day and when seen by others he is mistaken as a comedian, part of a duo act.

This book finds Hitler discovering the ways of the modern world, new technology, a new political system and a new world that is alien to him but he manages to find his way around this. Through a series of encounters he is made into a comedy/satirical act that has become a hit, not only on TV but also on You Tube. Everyone thinks him a mad and eccentric actor who never breaks character and never believes for a moment that he is THE Hitler.

This book brings up the ghosts of the German past and tries to make a comedy of it. The Nazi salute, which has been outlawed in Germany for years, is tossed about in the book, along with chants of Mein Furher and other things that are deemed no-nos. It also brings up the past about Jews and racisms. Hitler in this book still goes on political rants, his hatred of the Jews and how he wants to get back into government. In a mad twist at the end he is revered as a character who is anti violent, which in itself is a joke. He does have to confront the issue of Jews who were gassed and does it in such a way that is so very wrong but because he has the charisma he pulls it off and looks ok. This book tries to make a mockery of Hitler but in the end it doesn’t work as well as it should. It shows that he is starting to change the people around him to his way of thinking, his charisma and charm seem to bring about things in people that shouldn’t be happening….. again.

This book will offend some and it is a strange read. I must admit I did laugh out loud in some parts that are actually funny. Some parts made me angry and some made me think. It received pretty good reviews in Germany and only a German could write a book such as this. I started this review not sure how I would rate it. I was going to go for a 2 for the length of the political rants but the originality of the concept made me lean toward a 5. I am going to give it a 4.

4/ 5 stars

Crash

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Death: A Life by George Pendle

 

3845819Death, have you ever thought about him, not actual physical death but the spectre called Death. How did he come about, when did he find his calling or his thoughts a feelings? Well if you ever did then this book is for you.

Death calls on George Pendle to write his life story, to clear up any misunderstandings and to show how he almost became ‘human’. The story starts in Hell. Sin, Death’s mother and Satan, his father, gave him the usual demonic upbringing of fire, torture, abuse and overall hatred, all of which he enjoyed. He guarded the Gates of Hell with his mother for a while until dad decided to take his wife and son to the new planet of Earth. Creation had just begun and Satan and his wife decided to cause a bit of a stir while Death wandered around trying to find his purpose in life. He hung out in the Garden of Eden talking to the trees and other new life there, stumbled onto the cave where Adam and Eve were living when God called down to earth to tell them not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, but as the name tags of all the trees were mixed up it took some finding to get to the tree. Death talked to God and told him he had a purpose but didn’t know what it was, God said something would come up and it did in the form of a unicorn. That unicorn was Death’s first victim. Death doesn’t cause death, he just gathers the souls to move them on.

We see the whole of history from the stories of the Battle of Heaven right through to modern times through the eyes of Death, how he goes from botched attempts to collect souls to gathering them on mass scales. He talks to the souls, finds out more about them before he sends them to the darkness, but things start to change and Death gets tired of death and wants to live, to have a life and to do all the things he can’t do. He suffers a breakdown after joining forces with the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he hates the destruction of all the death and embraces life…. Naturally he is put into rehab to overcome his happiness.

This is one funny story! I rather enjoy satirical books about religion and this one is no exception.   I know that a lot of people don’t like books that poke fun at religion thinking it as sacrilege but I take them as they are meant to be, a bit of fun and a laugh.

 

4/5 stars

Crash

 

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Book Review: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

6224935 I found this book on one of those lists of “Books you need to Read before the Film”. It looked vaguely interesting so I got on the holds list at the library and waited. The plot seemed semi-interesting, although complicated – Judd Foxman’s father just died and he is heading home to sit shiva with his 2 brothers and sister. Meanwhile, he’s also dealing with his ex-wife who cheated on him with his boss and just announced that she’s pregnant.

Unsurprisingly, as the 7 days of shiva passes, the drama gets higher and higher between all of the players. The siblings are all coupled up and bring their own issues, both past and current. Judd in particular is trying to deal with his life pretty much falling apart around him.

I just didn’t like most of this book. Almost every character in it seemed to fit into a nice little Hollywood box – as if the author was writing it specifically to get it optioned for a film. One of Judd’s sisters-in-law is so desperate to get pregnant that she literally decided to jump Judd at one point because his sperm is “interchangeable” with his brothers. He has a kooky mother who is very in touch with emotions, a stressed out sister whose husband is too into his job – they all fit into nice little boxes. Everyone seems to reveal their true emotions at just the right moment in a nice and neat (yet kind of messy) way.

There was also extensive descriptions that were all looking down the author’s nose at people. How dare people be old and have wrinkles, or be overweight? I thought at first this was just me grabbing at certain things but no this was repetitive and unnecessary for the story.

This is one book that I should have skipped and went straight to the movie. Justin Bateman, Tina Fey and Dax Shephard – all of whom I love star in it so I’ll give it a chance and see if they can inject some heart into it because the book was severely lacking in that area.

2 Stars

~Melinda

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Book Review: I Hate Everything by Matthew DiBenedetti

8841773Have you ever woken up with the sun shining just right, the birds chirping a great tune, and your first thought is  I hate how perfect everything is today? Well have I got the perfect book for a pessimist like you. On a side note, this is also a great book if you are an optimist but need a gift for your Debbie Downer friend. Chances are though, even as an optimist, you might find the book to be a nice break from the bright light of happiness and keep it for yourself!

Matthew DiBenedetti quite literally hates everything,  from little pet peeves to realities of the world. He is an equal-opportunity hater. I mean, he is also the author of I Hate Everyone, which is now the next book I’m going to read. I Hate Everything is filled with over 200 lists of humorous hates. With such an extensive list, you will surely find something to relate to, to laugh at, and most certainly to loathe. There are even simple sketches with the lists to help get his hatred across. 

There are great one-liners:

I hate that once you use lip balm, you’re hooked for life. (This is one I totally relate too. I can’t go anywhere without my chapstick.)

I hate that stores put out back-to-school stuff while I’m still shopping for a bathing suit.

I hate that I breathe the same air as everyone else. (It is kinda weird when you think of it.)

But my favorite parts are when he ties together similar hates:

I hate that rainbows only come out when it rains. I hate that I’m only happy when it rains. I hate when a songs get stuck in your head. I hate when my iPod plays a song I really don’t like. I hate that I don’t have a good P’P’P’Poker Face.

The book is an easy read in a simple format so I can’t say too much without giving away all the hatred. I’m still giving the book 5/5 stars even though I hate that Amazon recommended the book for me. I hate that I bought the book. I hate that I read the book so quickly. I hate that I agreed with almost every list. I hate that this book can also be used to help end the barren coffee table epidemic.

5/5 stars

~Eddie

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Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

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Let me start this review off by saying that I stopped reading books for a several years because my advanced English class in High School. It seriously made me hate books. I read a few here and there (thanks to recommendations from Vi), but never really got into reading on a regular basis. But thanks to a book left on a gifted Kindle, my life changed.

I didn’t know anything about the book or Jenny Lawson for that matter, but the cover caught my attention right away. It reminded me of the movie Dinner With Schmucks and since I loved that movie, I figured I might like the book. Once I started reading, I couldn’t set it down. I found myself captivated by every chapter, awkwardly laughing to myself in corners at work and home. Once finished, I became a spokesperson for the book, suggesting it to friends and even strangers. I even started a mini-book club about the book at work. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is the reason I’m excited to read again and the reason I can participate in the blog.

In the book, Jenny Lawson takes us through a magical journey through her life. We start with her strange but relatable (especially if you lived near farms in the Midwest like me) childhood. The first several chapters are filled with stories of her slightly crazy taxidermist father, bread sack shoes and her array of pets which included turkeys. The chapter about Stanley the Magical Talking Squirrel literally brought me to tears.  

As she grows up, we learn more about her anxiety disorder. Though it is a serious subject, she writes about her disorder in such a way that you can’t help but laugh when she hides in a bathroom at cocktail parties. And we’ve all been there at parties when it gets uncomfortable silent and our minds wander, but the silence causes Jenny to blurt things out like: NECROPHILIA IS BAD, and then proceed to talk about why necrophilia is bad. You find yourself sympathetic, amused, and charmed by her awkward social encounters. I wish I could invite her to every party I host.

The book if filled with humorous chapters from her high school days, her time in Human Resources, her fights with her husband (who I believe is a very patient man), and her daughter. But Lawson also uses her witty humor to  intermix the more serious moment of her life. Her anxiety disorder, her anorexia, her miscarriages, and the horrible chapter about the death of her dog (which also brought me to tears). Luckily she always manages to add some comment that will have you laughing on the next page. 

Throughout the book you’ll probably ask yourself numerous times: Did that really happen?  Did she really buy a giant metal chicken? Was there really a family of squirrels swimming down the river? While there are some pictures to verify some stories, don’t stress about the rest. Who cares if some parts were exaggerated. She said it was Mostly True anyways. So enjoy the book and appreciate the laughs it is sure to provide.

The book gets 5/5 stars for reminding me that the best stories come from books.

5/5 stars

~Eddie

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