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Category Archives: Humor

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle Audiobook Review

Better Nate Than Ever is a charming and laugh out loud funny debut from Tim Federle. I bought a copy of this book for my nephew recently and thought it looked so good I had to pick up a copy for myself too. Federle draws from his own Broadway experience to tell the story of a thirteen-year-old boy who runs away to New York to pursue his acting dreams.

better nate than ever audio

Book: Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle, Simon & Schuster Audio, May 2013

Book Info: Audiobook borrowed from Overdrive’s eMedia Library. Running time: 5 hrs, 54 mins. Read by: Tim Federle. Also available in e-book or paperback, 304 pages from Simon & Schuster.

The Playbook:  Thirteen-year-old Nate lives in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, and dreams of starring on Broadway. He gets his chance to sneak away and audition for E.T. the Musical on Broadway, with a little help from his friend Libby.  The author talks about the inspiration for the book here:

Nate the Great – I loved how Nate is so brave to go after what he wants! The parent in me was scared to death of him traveling to NYC all by himself, but the kids got guts. One of the scenes that had me laughing out loud is when Nate read all the parts in E.T. the Musical for his Elliot audition.

Empire State of Mind  – Nate feels right at home in New York, and is taken in by the cheap pizza and clothing stores, and the multitude of cupcake shops. And Broadway of course! Federle really makes you feel that love at first sight emotion Nate feels about New York.

Supporting Characters - Nate goes to his first acting audition ever and meets all types of child actors, stage moms and snooty casting professionals.

We are Family - Nate’s family includes his parents, older brother, and estranged aunt. Nate’s family aren’t really supportive of his acting bug, hence the running away to New York. Their story evolves throughout the book though, and I’m interested to see how the family supports Nate going forward.

Questioning - Nate is bullied at school by kids calling him homophobic names. I like what Nate has to say about his sexuality, and that he’s still figuring things out:

(My sexuality, by the way, is off-topic and unrelated. I am undecided. I am a freshman at the College of Sexuality and I have undecided my major, and frankly don’t want to declare anything other than “Hey, jerks, I’m thirteen, leave me alone. Macaroni and cheese is my favorite food – how would I know who I want to hook up with?”)

Screenplay – Tim Federle writes such a fun story and makes Nate so endearing. There are recurring jokes, highs and lows in the audition process, travel, money, clothing and cell phone woes, and heartwarming surprises. The book is consistently entertaining, and Federle has a witty and strong voice.

Voice Acting– Author Tim Federle also performs this audiobook and does a bang-up job.  It makes sense that he’s such a natural considering his theater background, and he really brings the story to life. Federle uses different voices for all the many characters and makes the story even more hilarious. Federle brings a great energy to the story with his performance. This would be a fun book to listen to on a family road trip too. Listen to a sample:

Encore! - The Better Nate Than Ever series continues with Five, Six, Seven, Nate, available now. I can’t wait to read it!

Curtain Call: Read Better Nate Than Ever if you like: musical theater, New York, middle grade books, and you love to laugh.

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Cherry Money Baby Audiobook Review

Cherry Money BabyBook: Cherry Money Baby by John M. Cusick, Candlewick on Brilliance Audio, September 2013

Book Info: Purchased audiobook, and received book for review from publisher. Running time: 7 hrs, 21 mins. Read by: Sarah Elmaleh. Also available in hardcover or e-book, 400 pages from Candlewick

About the book:

Cherry Kerrigan loves her simple life, her family’s tiny trailer, even working at Burrito Barn. Forget college — she’s marrying her sweetheart from next door. But here comes Ardelia Deen, a glamorous starlet who sweeps Cherry into a world of fast cars and penthouse parties. Now Cherry’s small-town life just seems so . . . small. When Ardelia drops a bomb of an offer, Cherry knows her life will change forever — no matter what she decides. John M. Cusick focuses his signature satirical wit on Hollywood royalty and the wide-eyed dreams of Small Town, U.S.A., in a novel about discovering who you are . . . and changing your mind.

(source: Brilliance Audio)

Cherry Money Baby is a book with a lot of personality. The character of Cherry Kerrigan is bold and sassy and has no filter. She’s the type of no bullshit girl you know you can trust to tell it like it is and to have fun with. She doesn’t have big ambitions but she’s practical and loyal, and prides herself on rolling the best burritos at her job at Burrito Barn. Her life changes overnight when she saves an A-list movie star from choking at Burrito Barn, and gets some notoriety of her own. Will Cherry stay true to herself or will the fifteen minutes of fame spoil her forever?

I’m a little wary when guys write female protagonists, but I have to say that I would never have guessed a guy wrote this book. The female voice is authentic; Cherry is larger than life, unapologetic, and fearless. You just never know what’s going to come out of her smart mouth. When she talks to the press after her brush with fame, and Cherry admits she didn’t think before giving Ardelia Deen the Heimlich Maneuver, manufacturers rush to print up “I Don’t Think” Cherry t-shirts.

Right away this book reminded me a little of another humorous contemporary read- Robin Benway’s Audrey, Wait! There’s not enough humor in YA in my opinion, so I was happy to read about a comic gold heroine like Cherry. Similar to Audrey, Wait, the protagonist becomes a reluctant celebrity and learns a lot about herself.

Cherry has always scraped to get by, and now that she’s friends with a generous celebrity she gets a taste of the good life, including a swanky Alfa Romeo, parties, and new job opportunities, it’s mind-blowing. The differences between the haves and have-nots are shown in Cherry’s and Ardelia’s relationship. Ardelia seems too good to be true, and you never know if she’s just slumming it with Cherry with an ulterior motive. There are several opportunities to look at class issues, from life at the trailer park, to meet and greets with Ardelia’s hoity-toity friends, as well as “celebrity.”

Another thing going on with Cherry is her ambition- what will she do after high school? Her dad wants her to do something with her life, not just marry the guy in the trailer next door. But, Cherry loves her boyfriend and wants to start their life together. When Cherry meets Ardelia, she starts to see that she might have other options and more to offer than she ever knew.

I listened to the audiobook, performed by Sarah Elmaleh, a new-to-me narrator, and in fact this seems to be her first audiobook. This audiobook just would not work if it weren’t matched with the right performer. There’s Cherry, with the larger than life personality, her family and friends in the trailer park, plus the English accented movie star Ardelia and her entourage. But Elmaleh gives an authentic voice to Cherry and infuses the supporting characters voices with personality. I had a copy of the book, but used a credit on the audiobook based on the audio sample, and I’m really glad I did. Elmaleh has a great throaty voice and nails Cherry’s deadpan humor, and eases seamlessly into Ardelia’s polished accent. This is an audiobook I’d listen to again if I needed a pick-me-up.

Cherry Money Baby is fun and entertaining, but has more going on beneath the surface. The tale got a little too convoluted for me in the third act but I couldn’t put down the book all the same.  I kind of like it more as time goes by actually.

This is the first book I’ve read by author John M. Cusick, and now I’m eager to check out his other book, Girl Parts.

Cherry Money Baby is a YA Fiction Cybils nominee.

Losing It by Cora Carmack Book Review

Losing It Cora CarmackBook: Losing It by Cora Carmack, William Morrow/Harper Collins pb

Book Info: NA Contemporary, own kindle edition & pb, 258 pages

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

More Info:  Goodreads | Amazon | Cora Carmack FB

Losing It came out last fall as a self-published e-book to rave reviews. I snapped it up immediately, but sometimes e-books get lost on my kindle. Subsequently the book had a paperback relaunch through a partnership with Harper Collins, with a companion book Faking It is on the way. I bought the paperback for an author signing and finally read the book! I admit I did judge the book by its cover and expected a racy read. But what I was surprised about was the amount of humor contained in the novel.

Losing It is just the kind of New Adult novel I prefer – it takes place in college when our heroine is figuring her next steps before graduation. Losing It reads more steamy and mature than YA, but is not as explicit as the title/cover suggest. I loved all the silly moments in the book; there are some LOL scenes on a par with Friends or Bridget Jones Diary. There’s friendship, awkwardness, a British guy, Texas, Shakespeare, and cat humor. If you’ve been holding back on reading this one, you really have to check it out.

In Losing It, college senior Bliss Edwards is still a virgin and just wants to bite the bullet and lose it with a one-night stand. With her friend Kelsey’s encouragement they head out to a bar with that goal in mind. Things don’t go exactly as planned though with the handsome Shakespeare-reading British guy from the bar, and hilarity ensues. Plus, there’s a Grey’s Anatomy worthy surprise the morning after in theater class.

I was going to have sex.
With a boy.
A hot boy.
A hot British boy.
Or maybe I was going to throw up.
What if I threw up on the hot British boy?
What if I threw up on the hot British boy during sex?”

page 21 paperback, Losing It

The book is fresh, witty and spicy, with a forbidden romance aspect. Once I finally picked it up I Faking It by Cora Carmackcouldn’t put it down, and I stayed up late reading. There is some will they/won’t they mystery that keeps you turning pages. Plus, there is another guy in Bliss’s life (Cade) that wants to take their friendship to the next level. But beyond the boy drama, there is real drama in the form of Bliss’s acting and directing goals – what will she do after graduation? Bliss is very relatable and her awkwardness is endearing- I would totally want to be friends with her.

The paperback of Losing It includes the first two chapters of the companion book Faking It, due out June 4. Faking It centers on one of the secondary characters in Losing It, but Bliss also makes an appearance or two. And there will be one more companion book out later this fall called Finding It. Cora Carmack has a fresh voice in New Adult and I love her sense of humor. Can’t wait to read more from her!

Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar by Kelly Oxford Audiobook Review

Everything Is Perfect When You're a Liar by Kelly OxfordBook: Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar by Kelly Oxford, Harper Audio, April 2, 2013

Audiobook Info:  Memoir/Humor, Audible purchase, Audio length: 10 hours, Read by the author.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Publisher’s Summary:

Kelly Oxford is . . .

A wunderkind producer of pirated stage productions for six-year-olds

Not the queen of the world

An underage schnitzel-house dishwasher

The kid who stood up to a bully and almost passed out from the resulting adrenaline rush

A born salesman

Capable of willing her eyesight to be 20/20

That girl who peed her pants in the gas station that one time

Totally an expert on strep throat

Incapable of making Leonardo DiCaprio her boyfriend

A writer

A certified therapy assistant who heals with Metallica mixtapes

“Not fat enough to be super snuggly.” —Bea, age four

Not above using raspberry-studded sh*t to get out of a speeding ticket

“Bitingly funny. But everybody knows that.” —Roger Ebert

Sad that David Copperfield doesn’t own a falcon

A terrible liar

I don’t know where I’ve been but I haven’t heard of Kelly Oxford until her book came out last week. Oxford is a comedic writer (she wrote a tv pilot and has a movie script in development) and a twitter celebrity. I saw a mention on twitter coincidentally by The Mindy Project (love!) stars about Oxford’s book. I was just wishing for a new humorous memoir à la Bossypants or Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, so I was thrilled to spend an audible credit on Oxford’s book. Oxford’s unfiltered sense of humor is entertaining to listen to and she’s gained a new twitter follower in me. She talks about growing up and working odd jobs and her adventures in parenting, so it’s all very relatable.

Kelly Oxford is from Canada and the book chronicles her life growing up in Calgary, before starting a family and later moving to Los Angeles. The book starts out with Oxford at age six, going through hoops to try to cast a stage adaptation of Star Wars. She later goes on a wild trip to Los Angeles to try to meet Leonardo DiCaprio and be his girlfriend before Titanic makes him a superstar. She also talks about peeing at a gas station while waiting in line to buy cigarettes, and her weekend trip to Vegas hosted by magician David Copperfield. Oxford is brutally honest in her observations and a fearless sharer of embarrassing moments.

Oxford is a good storyteller and I found all the essay’s absorbing. She does find the humor in everyday life, and even when she’s discussing a serious topic she gives it a light touch in keeping with the tone of the book. For instance, she talks about the worry that her husband will die and she won’t have a job to support herself, so she takes a job at a nursing home. Oxford actually had a few interesting jobs before doing the writing thing, like washing dishes at a German restaurant at age 12. My favorite stories were the Vegas trip and the family’s trip to Disneyland, but they all are pretty amusing.

Kelly Oxford reads the audiobook herself, something I always appreciate with memoirs. Who better than the author to read her own stories, right? Oxford speaks clearly and reads with an easy, conversational manner. I did speed up the narration a tad  (to 1.25x) with the audible app, and that was just perfect for me. Oxford brings her stories to life with her reading and this is an audiobook I didn’t want to stop listening to.

If you like humorous memoirs like those by Tina Fey, Jenny Lawson, or Mindy Kaling I think you’ll eat up this book. I hope there’s a part two someday.

Deadly Cool and Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday Book Review

In Gemma Halliday’s Deadly Cool series, high school students don’t just worry about being popular or getting into college – these teens also have to worry about just surviving the day. This high school has a high body count, and Hartley Featherstone always finds herself right in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s strange to think that a series about murders in high school could be in the “feel good” book category, but that’s what these were to me. This series is a breath of fresh air, witty and sharp and lots of fun, in a black comedy kind of way.  Savvy readers will be able to solve the mystery, but it’s still a worthwhile and enjoyable journey.

I read both books in the series back to back, and since they follow the same formula, rather than repeat myself I’ll just talk about both books. In the first book, Deadly Cool, Hartley finds out that her boyfriend Josh has been cheating on her, and when her rival Courtney (president of the chastity club!) turns up dead, Josh is the top suspect. To complicate matters, Hartley’s the only one who believes in him and can help clear his name. Meanwhile, the bodies are piling up and it looks like Hartley’s number could be up next if she and her friends (the police are clueless) don’t solve the mystery in time.

Hartley is the kind of girl you want to be friends with, she is sweet and funny and sarcastic, and she gets into the funniest situations. Hartley is not on her own in her murder solving endeavors.  She has her own Scooby gang (Hartley favors herself more as a Nancy Drew really) to help her out.  Hartley’s BFF Sam is along for the ride (and they are riding in her environmentally conscious brother’s vegetable oil powered Volvo.) to support her friend in her schemes. Hartley’s mom also provides some comic relief with her creative vegetarian recipes.  (Oh, those wacky vegetarians!)

Goth-wannabe-bad-boy /school-newspaper-editor Chase also gets involved in solving the mystery. The series is light in romance, but Chase and Hartley do have some will they/won’t they moments and they have charming chemistry. There’s a scene where Hartley hides in Chase’s bedroom that is simply hilarious.

The sequel Social Suicide again kicks off with a murder (they should really close down Herbert Hoover High) – this one by “Twittercide” and involves a cheating ring. Hartley finds herself in the center of the mystery again, and now she’s also working with Chase on the school newspaper so she has a legitimate reason to investigate. The local police are getting a little suspicious of Hartley now since she’s always around when the dead bodies are located.  Besides the case, and stressing about her crush Chase, Hartley also is worried about her mom’s online dating life. Comic hijinks ensue once again!

This series is so light and fun, and I liked the sequel just as much as Deadly Cool. The mystery, humor and light romance combo succeed in this fast-paced series. It’s really not too dark or morbid at all; it’s kind of Heathers-light. I couldn’t find any information regarding a book 3 but I certainly hope there is one!

Find out more about the series here:

Goodreads | Amazon | Author page

Bossypants by Tina Fey Audiobook Review

Book: Bossypants by Tina Fey, Hachette Audio, Released on April 5, 2011

Audiobook Info:  Memoir/Humor, Library copy, Audio length: 5.5 hours, Read by the author.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

I have been eager to listen to Bossypants by Tina Fey for ages, but had a hard time tracking it down at the library. The book format just would not do – I had heard too many good things about the audiobook. Finally I found a copy, and it came just at a time when I needed a little more laughter in my life.

Since I’m very late to the Bossypants bandwagon I’m not going to summarize the book too much. Tina Fey uses self-deprecating humor to talk about her life in entertainment and her experience as a wife and mother. Her stories are very amusing and at some points even laugh out loud funny. She talks about her upbringing and also her experiences as a woman in comedy and being the boss on 30 Rock. And though I was most interested to hear Fey talk about her career and SNL horror stories, what I ended up liking the most were her personal observations about beauty, weight, if she’s going to have another baby (she did!) and her experience as a cover girl.

I always like when authors narrate their own memoirs, and especially when the author is as witty as Tina Fey.  Fey has a conversational tone and speaks at a pleasant, brisk pace. She does sometimes make a reference to the fact that you are listening to an audiobook and I always wondered if she was ad-libbing at all. Her voice trails off at times in her reading, but for the most part I thought she did a great job with the narration. Since I listened to a library copy I did not have access to the PDF that Fey refers to many times, and I’m tempted to check out the print copy sometime to see the photos I missed.

The audiobook is broken up into short segments on different topics ranging from Sarah Palin to 30 Rock to balancing work and motherhood.  She gives props to her famous co-workers including Alec Baldwin and Amy Poehler, and also to the writers on 30 Rock, including favorite lines and episodes. The book is well balanced between personal and career highlights, and the only topic I wished she touched more on is her experience making Mean Girls.

Bossypants is an inspiring and humorous audiobook, and worth the wait. It is one I made time to listen to. Oh, by the way I listened to Bossypants in the Playaway format, which is a first for me. A Playaway is an all in one audiobook/mp3 player, and you supply the battery and earphones to listen. It is a pretty great format but I haven’t seen them around too often. Give one a try sometime! At just over 5 hours long, Bossypants is a quick and enjoyable listen, perfect for fans of memoirs, humor and of course, Tina Fey.

Tough Sh*t by Kevin Smith Audiobook Review

Book: Tough Sh*t ( Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good) by Kevin Smith, Penguin Audio, March 20, 2012

Audiobook Info:  Memoir/Humor, Received for review,  Audio length: 5 hours 58 minutes, Read by the author.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

More Info: Audible | Goodreads | Amazon

I remember watching Kevin Smith’s Clerks and Chasing Amy back in the day – I was big into slacker movies in the 90s. I think those are the only two of Smith’s movies I’ve seen – now I’m more of a romantic comedy kind of girl. Still, I remember the two films fondly; they introduced me to Smith’s humor, and in turn led the way to me listening to this audiobook. Now I know Kevin Smith more as a personality, as well as an annual public speaker at Hall H at Comic-Con. Based on all this I knew I was sure to be entertained and amused with Tough Sh*t.

In Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good, Smith talks about his movie career and his influences from George Carlin to Wayne Gretzky to John Hughes. He dishes on which actors impressed him and which actors pissed him off as he takes you behind the scenes of his movies. Smith also gets the infamous “too fat to fly on Southwest” incident off his chest.  Smith acknowledges his family by including a loving recognition of his wife Jen and compares his first date with Jen to Lloyd Dobler asking out Diane Court. Behind it all is some good career advice to get paid doing what you love to do.

Kevin Smith’s story is inspirational – he fell in love with film and followed his dream to be a filmmaker. From his first visit to New York’s Angelika theatre he knew he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Slacker’s Richard Linklater and make films. In fact I learned in this audiobook that Smith made his mark on cinema by creating the bromance film genre.  Interesting, right?

The part of me that loves Hollywood gossip ate up Smith’s celebrity stories, from Bruce Willis’ on set bad behavior to his falling out with mentor Harvey Weinstein. Smith also gives a fascinating look at filmmaking when he decides to self distribute his Tarantino-esque film Red State. He also gets some jabs in to the movie critics who love to hate him.

Who better than Kevin Smith to narrate his story? It’s his life and his stories and you can hear the passion and enthusiasm in his voice. His story is very personal, and like his films potty-mouthed at times, and I can’t imagine anyone else narrating the book. Smith is a professional podcaster so is obviously very comfortable behind the mic, and the six hours I listened to this audiobook flew by. His sharp humor, intelligence and knowledge of pop culture made for an entertaining listening experience.

This book is for Kevin Smith fans, those who love movies and pop culture, and those looking for some creative inspiration. If you have six hours to spare and are not easily offended, check out this audiobook.

Check out some other opinions of Tough Sh*t the audiobook:

Gil T.’s Pleasures

Pure Textuality

Owl Tell You About It


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