What to Read / NOT to Read, 4th Edition - Why Not Me?, Bird by Bird, People I Want To Punch In the Throat, Expecting Better, Bringing Up Bebe, more! Some Free on Kindle!

I was too busy with Nanowrimo in November to read a whole lot, so I just saved the reviews from that month to add in with my December reading list. Some great ones, and some you really need to avoid... plus, a number of them are free to download on kindle! Check them out, and be sure catch up on any of my previous Read / Don't Read digests that you might have missed: 1st Edition, 2nd, and 3rd. :)

Book Review Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling - What to Read and What NOT to Read via Devastate BoredomWhy Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Essays, Humor, Memoir, Modern Life
READ - If you like authenticity and laughter.

This was a really enjoyable, authentic read, by a seriously funny woman.  The pages flew by, and I laughed out loud at least a few times and was genuinely amused pretty much all the rest of the time.   Hard to go wrong with this one!

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Essays, Writing, Life
READ - If you enjoy reading, writing, or words in general.

Anne Lamott is amazing.  This book is amazing.  This book is all about what is beautiful in life and in writing, but refrains from glamorizing any of it…  Writing is hard.  Being a real person is hard.  If you write or aspire to write, this one is a must-read!  In fact, I think this is the third time I've read it, and it never fails to amaze me. So much inspiration contained in 237 pages!

Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
Memoir, Non-Fiction, Infant and Child Care, Parenting Discipline, France
READ - if you are interested in childrearing philosophies and looking for common-sense wisdom.

As a teacher I’ve always been interested in philosophies of parenting and discipline, because let’s face it… when you’re working with itty-bitties you end up doing a good bit of both!  And then on the flip side, when the parents of your students AREN’T prioritizing childrearing / discipline at home you’re going to suffer for it at school, so it’s good to know what your (subtle, caring) hints should be about in parent / teacher conferences.  I’ve been hearing about this book for ages now, and I figured I might as well read it -- it is a memoir of sorts, written by an American mother and journalist raising three children in Paris, and highlights include the fact that French babies sleep through the night at two or three months, eat like little gourmands from toddlerhood, and listen when they are told “no.”  For some of the chapters I was going, “Aha! That’s brilliant!” and then a moment later I would think, “Hmmm, wait, that’s actually kind of common sense…”  All in all, there were some very interesting parts, and some boring ones, and one of the morals of the story seems to be that it's a lot easier raising children when the government provides quality childcare (um, ya think?), but overall I enjoyed it.

Humor, Essays
READ, if you enjoy dark humor

This book was totally funny.  Especially because I use pinterest, caught the tail end of AOL chat rooms back in the day, know all about the behind-the-scenes of carpools and room moms in elementary schools, and don’t mind curse words (and please note, interspersed throughout this book is a LOT of very funny swearing).  I actually bought this book and I’m completely glad I did.  I have no doubt that I will reread it, whenever I need a laugh!

The Haunted Hotel, by Wilkie Collins
Suspense, Classic Literature
Read, if you enjoy classic literature, suspense, and ghost stories

This short novel is a fun creepy read, written by a Victorian mystery master!  Ghostly enough that I had to have a nightlight on after finishing it, TRUTH!  But then my creepy-tolerance is low late at night in general, so.... you'll have to read it yourself and let me know what you think. This one is free to download via Kindle!

Non-Fiction, Pregnancy and Childbirth, Synthesis and Analysis of Global Research
READ - if you are intrigued by pregnancy and infant development, and what the latest research shows about how mom can help or hinder the process.

(Note to my mother -- don't get excited! I read this one out of purely scientific curiosity, honest! ;P)  I often am impressed (but not in a good way) by how much nonsense is spouted as medical fact both online and by folks around me, and I was interested to know how much of the same is tied up in how we view pregnancy.  The author of this book is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, and knows her way around analyzing the statistics behind a research study -- she breaks down topic by topic what the most valid scientific studies actually show about alcohol, caffeine, off-limit foods, exercise, etc, during pregnancy.  It was very interesting, and some of the research certainly weren’t what I was expecting!

The Woodlands by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Fantasy, Dystopian, Romance
READ if you like The Giver or the Divergent series

This enjoyable and sometimes gritty dystopian fantasy novel kept me intrigued and never felt formulaic.  Definitely check it out if this genre is up your alley! I kind of feel bad not saying more about it, but too much went on during the course of the novel for me to even know where to start describing it... oh! But I definitely think this one was mis-titled! So vague, so uninspiring... I would have called it "Green Eye, Blue Eye," or SOMETHING more interesting than "The Woodlands"... This book is much better than its boring title. ;P This one is also free on kindle, what-what!

Dream Student by JJ Di Benedetto
Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Mystery, Suspense
Read, if you enjoy an unconventional mystery and have fond memories of college

Sara is a college student whose dreams eerily begin to overlap with other people’s… she can see what they are dreaming, sometimes so vividly that she can’t tell that it isn’t real life, but they are unaware of her observing presence.  This is troubling enough for the young girl when the dreams she is “eavesdropping” on are merely those of her roommate and boyfriend, but even more disturbing when she begins to witness the dreams of a serial killer…  dun dun DUH!  I found the plot intriguing and the characters likeable.  I figured out “whodunnit” in the middle of the novel, but the author wrapped the book up pretty neatly in the end so I didn’t mind too much. Also free on kindle!

Susanna and the Spy by Anna Elliott
Period Romance, Espionage
Read, if you like romance and spies

This sweet, simple romance has shades of the classic (original??) spy novel The Scarlet Pimpernel, but in a refreshing twist, Susanna spends most of her time saving and doctoring the spy rather than playing damsel in distress.  Her “I must warn him!” ends up getting a little tedious, and there aren’t any real surprises in this book, but it’s a fun and fluffy read.... and free on kindle. ;)

Flotsam and Jetsam by Carrie Ryan
Science Fiction, Zombies, Dystopian Fiction
Don’t Read, unless you really love zombies and are okay with a story driven by a sense of fatalistic helplessness.  

This was more of a short story than a novella, set in the author’s post-zombie-apocalypse world from her series Forest of Hands and Teeth.  I enjoyed that series a lot -- it wasn’t sophisticated but it was vivid -- oh that zombie baby!! -- and had high hopes for this story as well.  I have to admit, it let me down somewhat… it was surprisingly nihilistic.  Skip it. (but it is free on kindle if you're determined to check it out)

Gateway to Fourline by Pam Brondos
Fantasy, Adventure
Don’t Read, unless you LOVE fantasy a la Chronicles of Narnia or J.R.R Tolkien and are willing to look over a lot of flaws

I wanted to love this book, I really did… a girl realizes that some of the students at her college are more than “non-traditional”... they are from a parallel universe, where the true king has been displaced and the common folk live in fear of blue, spider-y, cheetah-ish creatures called the Nala.  I think the sentence I just wrote illustrates part of the problem with this book -- I never had a firm grasp on what the Nala LOOKED LIKE, despite the heroine having plenty of encounters with them… they were definitely blue.  Otherwise they seemed to morph between looking something like spiders and looking more cat-like.  A lot of details were fuzzy and confusing like that.  Also, the plot hinged on a journey, sort of like in LOTR, where the heroine needed to destroy a magical item that was preventing the king from being able to reappear in Fourline.  However, this journey never really felt urgent, especially since the heroine didn’t really have a clear idea where she was going and had to rely on other people to get her there, and then the item turned out to be incredibly easy to get at and destroy… Ugh.  Thinking back, I really didn’t like this book at all.  Skip it!!

Don’t Read, unless you really love real-life stories

This book is more of a collection of memories than it is an actual memoir or biography.  I downloaded it because it was free and I was writing some historical fiction around the same time period as Rosetta’s growing up years, but the way the stories are related just isn't compelling for someone who didn’t know her.  I think it’s lovely that her family has created this book in her memory, but it’s more or less what you would expect from a family project.

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer
Historical Fiction, Families
DON’T READ, unless you really enjoy illogical plot twists

This novel begins with a young engaged woman deciding to “lose it” to her husband-to-be… but when he gets drunk on the afternoon she has secretly appointed for the deed, she slips off to do it with a stranger instead.  Okay... and from then on she’s portrayed as a level-headed, intelligent woman of integrity and never seems to wonder "what was I thinking?" about her little lapse in judgement… and no, SHE wasn’t drunk at all.  That stranger turns out to basically be her husband’s boss, which she was aware of at the time, and the baby she has as a result of the incident is the focus of the novel.  The plot whizzes through the child’s life, with plenty more nonsensical plot twists and artificial suspense along the way.  It was horrible, and I’m not sure why I finished it.  Stay away, stay far away!!

Three Men and a Maid by PG Wodehouse
British Humor, Classic Fiction
DON’T READ, unless you’re writing a paper about how social norms have changed for the better since the 1920s and need some good examples...

I adore PG Wodehouse.  However, I have to say, this is not him at his finest.  Usually the people in his book bumble around stupidly, getting into trouble without meaning to and generally being endearing -- the characters in this book do a lot more lying and manipulating than is his usual, and it lends a more malicious edge to the humor.  Also, while not unusual for the time period in which this book was written, there is a scene where one of the characters dresses up for a minstrel show, and it is just painfully uncomfortable to read from a modern perspective.  Please, choose another of PG Wodehouse’s books.  This is NOT a good representation of his talent.

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  1. People I Want to Punch in the Throat. That's the one I'd like to read.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. Oh it was so funny... you have to read it Sandee! ;P

  2. I really enjoyed Bringing up Bebe too, especially the chapters about how they handle food. Such a variety from a young age, not a lot of snacking etc. Fascinating! I just downloaded Susanna and Spy to my kindle based on your review, can't wait to read it!!

    1. Yes, I agree, Samantha, the chapters on food were really interesting and smart.

      I hope you enjoy Susanna and the Spy!

  3. Interesting list. I read Bringing up Bebe and definitely enjoyed it! I thought she had good advice and I enjoyed reading about the differences in cultures.

    1. It was intriguing to learn about what things we take for granted about childrearing and behavior and discipline... that actually aren't "givens" at all, right? That are actually cultural norms...

      Thanks for stopping by Emily! Checking out your blog now, and WOW, what a lot of cool health and wellness printables you've made!

  4. Great reviews! :D I've heard great things about Mindy Kaling's book, and the title for "People I Want To Punch In The Throat" pretty much makes me have to read that one. Will have to check out Dream Student as well! :]

    I read The Woodlands fairly recently--I wish they'd named it something different too since I tend to judge books by their titles (heh)--it was good though!

    1. Definitely check them out, I liked all three!

      YES, bad title, good book! :)

      Checking out your blog now, and Farrah, you are hilarious! Plus that Sriracha popcorn looks uh-mazing....!

  5. I loved the Woodlands. It was great read. I have heard Bird by Bird is a great read. I will have to check it out. Thanks for sharing on Literacy Musing Mondays.

    1. Woodlands was good! Have you read any more of the series?? I haven't yet, but definitely going to... and Bird by Bird is SO good. Let me know what you think after you read it! :)

  6. Headed to my Kindle to check out a few of these titles! Thank you for such a great breakdown of each title. A few I will be staying away from.
    Thanks for joining us at the Country Fair Blog Party!
    Laurie - Country Link

    1. Thanks for coming by Laurie! I'd love to hear what you think of any you ended up reading! :)

  7. Oh man, I love your sense of humor, and I think we have similar tastes in books! Off to get some free Kindle books now. Thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday!

    1. Hehe thanks Tina! Let me know what you thought of any you ended up reading... I'd love to hear your impressions!


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