Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Audiobook Review: #famous by Jilly Gagnon





  • Release Date: February 14th 2017
  • Audiobook Hours: 7 hrs 53 minutes
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)


Did I pick up this book because the cover reminded me of Fangirl ? Maybe. Yes, yes I did.

When high school junior Rachel Ettinger secretly snaps a photo of  Kyle Bonham and tweets, ahem, I mean flits it it to her best friend she thinks nothing of it.

Until the pic goes viral.

While Kyle becomes an overnight internet sensation  Rachel becomes a target for harassment and cyberbullying.

So, in case you aren’t familiar,  this book was inspired by the phenomenon that is Alex from Target.

#famous had a strong start, we see a lot of the rampant sexism online and I really thought Gagnon was going to flesh out Rachel's story through this lens, but the online abuse gets dropped pretty early to focus on a tedious plot where Kyle recruits Rachel to repeatedly appear with him on an Ellen type talk show.

Kirkus' review of this book called Kyle a “ schmuck with a haircut” which at first I thought was kind of cruel, but then I realized he is kind of a....dolt ?  He gets everything because he's a handsome. Kyle is just so unaware of anything  else going on in the book including Rachel's cyberbullying. It seemed like every other character is telling him what to do or how to do something and he just goes with it.  He reminded me of the president on Scandal.

Also fair warning, there is a lot of “not like the other girls” and fat shaming in the first part of this book.

 I really like James Fouhey performance as Kyle,  he is one my new fave narrators. He has this crisp, youthful voice. Co-narrator Arielle Delisle had some good voices too but her predominate voice, Rachel, sounded too much like she was "doing a voice".

#famous explores the modern phenomenon of internet fame, but it falls flat underneath a less than stellar romance.

Between the # and the lowercase f this book title is really hard to search for in some library  databases 





Saturday, April 22, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness


  • Release Date: October 6th 2015
  • Length: 6 hours and 23 minutes
  • Genre: Contemporary / Paranormal YA
  • Publisher: HarperTeen

17-year-old Mikey Mitchell just wants to enjoy his last few months of high school with his best friends and hopefully getting his OCD under control.  But he's also kind of stuck in the middle of your favorite paranormal YA novel, except you know. . . he's a background character.  Strange blue lights and mysterious deaths  means the indie kids--those high school kids with the capital D destinies and weird names--are up to something. Mikey just hopes the indie kids don’t  blown up up the high school….again.

Patrick Ness is a mix bag of an author, you just never know what you’re going to get. The concept of having a Mikey's contemporary narrative  adjacent to the indie kid's paranormal adventure made for an entertaining listen.  The indie kid's plot is a parody of e those paranormal YA books of the early 2010’s and Ness creates a loving satire of the genre.

Can we talk about James Fouhey, the audiobook narrator ? James Fouhey is official on my auto-buy list. His voice was perfect for the narration of Mikey, he has these great tonal shifts and at times it didn’t even sound like he was reading a text. He also seems to read fast, this book is 336 pages and the audio is only 6 hours long.

An irreverent, offbeat YA coming of age story about immortals, gods and vampires but mostly about what it means to be the rest of us.



Mikey’s crush in this book is a half black, half Finnish girl named Henna Silvennnoinen and I thought that Finnish part was such a specific ethnicity you don’t see in YA. Well, it turns out that Henna Silvennoinen is a real woman--she won to have her name in the book from an auction when Ness was raising money for the typhoon in the Philippines. The name of Mikey’s best friend, Jared Shruin also came from this auction. That must be awesome !

Monday, March 27, 2017

100% Real by Sam Talbot

Publisher: Time Inc. Books/Oxmoor House
Genre: Cookbook
Release Date: April 4th 2017

I’m not sure why it took Top Chef Season 2 finalist Sam Talbot (who should have totally been asked to leave along with Cliff. I’m just saying! ) to write a cookbook, but here it is and it features 100 recipes that are 100% real.

The book itself is a mix of Talbot’s advocacy for type 1 diabetics and his philosophy of eating whole and natural foods.  He covers the spectrum featuring recipes that are vegetarian, vegan, dairy free, and gluten-free.

The inside of this book has a simple layout with bright colors and tons of photos of Talbot in the kitchen or hanging out at the farmer’s market, reflecting his laid back East coast lifestyle.  Talbot introduces readers to his five tips for keeping  [food] real, advice on setting up a pantry and a few equipment essentials. There are even more  tips on sourcing ingredients in the back of the book, which you will need because there are some very specific ingredients that might be intimidating to a rookie cooks.

The recipes  have tons of herbs and spices, he re-imagines comfort foods and creates magical looking salads. Because this is a book isn’t about fad dieting you won’t find calorie counts in these pages, you’ll just find real food.


*ARC provided by Netgalley

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani


  • Release Date: May 2013
  • Hours: 13.75
  • Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
Every four years the villagers of Gavaldon will stop at nothing to protect their children from a shadowy figure who whisks them away to a magical school,  never to be seen again. Except maybe in the pages of your favorite storybook.


This magical school us  where students are trained to become the villains and heroes in your favorite fairytales. When best friends Sophie and Agatha find themselves on different sides of the divide, they must fight to hold on to their friendship and who they truly are.

This book does so well what I think a lot of of villain origin stories just haven't (I'm looking at you Heartless). Soman Chainani perfectly charts the development of our young heroines as they start off as misanthropic students  and grow to embrace their inner good and evil. There are a lot of smart ideas in the world Chainani builds, for example the students with the highest merits become popular heroes; your Snow White or Cinderella, while lower ranking students become sidekicks.

With that said this book is. . . I'm going to say bonkers. It has a lot of funny and sophomoric humor , then it gets suddenly dark in tone. Like there is legit a mass murder  and I was like WHAT?!  The students are put in maybe not mortal danger, but they certainly get tortured and humiliated so warning if you are giving this to a younger reader.

The story also doesn't seem to no where it's"there there" is. It's like first there is a big forest challenge, then there is a mysterious talent show, Then there is a ball ?All of which felt like a distraction from the big ending which left me both intrigued and scratching my head ?

Sporadicness aside there was something delightful about the absurdity of the book. Chainani has a handful of really touching and challenging moments in his book. As a (here we go) adult reader you pretty much know the lessons the characters are going to learn before they learn them but Chanini changes it up with a bit of humor or a unique idea. You just never know what tropes he's playing straight and which one he isn't.

Narrator Polly Lee had her work cut out for her on this audio having to voice a whole cast of teachers and students . She perfectly pitches the heroes to sound prim and proper then she seamlessly transitions to low and gravely for the assortment the villains. As our heroines get drawn into their good and evil surroundings Lee effortlessly transforms her narration right along with them.

Side Note

I'm so glad I listened to  this audiobook. It's been on my TBR since I saw Soman Chainani  at NYC Comic Con in 2015. I'm going to get a physical copy since I missed out on all the illustrations, there was some stuff I couldn't quite visualize.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Margot Lee Shetterly @ The Rappahannock Library


Hidden Figures has taken over the pop culture zeitgeist and it all  takes place right here in Virginia !

I'm not sure how I missed that Shetterly was going to be doing a Q&A and signing at University of Mary Washington , but when my dad (of all people) told me about it, Kat and I took the short ride up to attend.

I knew this was going to be a big event,  but I didn't realize how big until we started looking for parking. Hundreds of people of all ages and backgrounds descended on The University of Mary Washington campus clutching their copies of Hidden Figures in their hands. The UMW auditorium seated 1200 and it was standing room only.

Shetterly gave a brief overview of her work and what it meant to her. And because both Shetterly and Hidden Figures have strong ties Virginia it was a family affair. Descendants of Mary Jackson were in the audience as well as Shetterly's parents and some of her childhood friends.

Shetterly even let it drop that Hidden Figures  is part of a trilogy about black figures in mid-century America.

I don't have to tell you the line for the signing was massive. Out of all the public book events I've been to I've never seen a line like this.



The Rappahannock librarians did an amazing job with this event. I think  one librarian was dressed for the part with her string of pearls and a-line skirt.

My favorite thing overheard while waiting in line was when a man behind said me said

"There weren't even this many people when I went to a Kurt Vonnegut signing."

It's amazing to me just how much this story has resonated with people, their were people in line with stacks of books who hadn't even seen the movie or read the books. They were here for the story


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Midnight Star by Marie Lu in Gifs (Spoiler Free)




So I just finished Marie Lu’s Young Elite’s series and...




Tuesday, March 7, 2017

10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith (Kat's Experience)





Me on Day 1



Me on Day 10


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