Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay by Stefani Wilder-Taylor. You don't have to be a new mom, or even have the twinkle of a baby in your eye, to enjoy this book - trust me! I'm a hardcore fan of "For Crying Out Loud," the podcast Stefani Wilder-Taylor does with Lynette Carolla, Both women have radically changed my opinion of what a "mom" is (in the best way), but that is a ramble for another time. Both women are utterly hilarious, so once I realized Wilder-Taylor has written some books, I knew I had to get my hands on them. This book doesn't disappoint. It's incredibly funny while still actually giving good advice on how to cope after having a baby - most importantly, to raise your child as you see fit, not to fall into any fad like attachment parenting, etc etc. There are short little sections with checklists mocking how far your child should be, developmentally, and pick-up lines to use on other new moms who look sane enough to be your friend. Many parts of this book will have you laughing out loud.
Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler. I might have appreciated this book if I had read Handler's other books first, but it still made a certain degree of sense on its own. Some of the essays were a little pointless, and at times Handler tried way too hard to be funny, which took away any of the humor that might have shown through on its own. That being said, after two weeks of putting down books unfinished just because they didn't grab my attention, I finished this one, so that has to mean something.
Jeneration X by Jen Lancaster. This is the type of writing I want to do. Or, to clarify, the type of writing I want to get paid to do. Lancaster is hilarious in a casual way, and is honest about her weight, her laziness, and her penchant for spying on her neighbors. It makes me want to be her best friend. I read the book in about a day and am ready to read all the others she's written.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. I've never been a big watcher of "The Office," but the episodes I've seen didn't make me a huge fan of Kelly Kapoor. I know it's stupid to assume that a character is similar to the actor playing them…but I do. I think most people do, honestly - who doesn't automatically think Michael Richards is Kramer? But I digress. The only books that have held my attention lately are humorous essay collections and memoirs, so when I saw Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, I decided to give it a chance. I'd previously flipped through the book in bookstores and chuckled at the table of contents, but that was the extent of it.
Now, though. Now I am in love with this woman. We need to be best friends. It started when the book opened with her joking about her weight and love of diets. I love when women are up front about not being anorexic, because 'fessing up to that is something I have trouble with, for no good reason. As Mindy goes through her life, I learned that she used to write sketches for Saturday Night Live characters with her friends, or go through an event pretending to be someone else or a random made-up character. So many chapters made me think "I did that, too!" and feel pleased with myself.
Towards the end of the book, she reveals that she is a size 8. Not to get all size Nazi, but I was furious. She spent a whole book saying she was a big girl but happy with it, and she's a size eight? I understand you're dealing with skinny ladies in showbiz, but come on!
Then I read the next page and was in love with her again. So much made me laugh. A truly fabulous book.
Makeup to Breakup by Peter Criss with Larry "Ratso" Sloman. I've had a love/hate relationship with KISS since I was 12 years old, but I've always rooted for the underdog, so was curious to read the drummer's memoir (as drummers are notoriously left out of the spotlight). When the book started with four pages of acknowledgements, with Criss thanking everyone from the people who have photographed him, the associations he belongs to, and Tom Arnold and Roseanne Barr, I wasn't sure I'd be able to make it through. But there is something about rock autobiographies that hook you and won't let go, even if you think the musician is whiny and spoiled and has done disgusting, despicable things in his life. Such was the case with this book. Criss spends most of it complaining that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley made more money than him - a legitimate complaint, since he was a founding member of KISS, but when a guy's complaining about making "only" $10,000 a show, you don't really feel bad for him. Things got a little more interesting once he realized how big of a dick he had been for the vast majority of his life, tried to overcome that and forgive those who had wronged him, and was diagnosed with breast cancer. Unfortunately, there was no real resolution to the book, as in I didn't feel like he actually learned anything or changed at all. Glad I got this book from the library, instead of giving him any of my hard-earned money.
Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster. I'm so glad I read Jeneration X first, because Lancaster isn't very likable at the beginning of her first book. She's all about style, shoes, having the most money, and buying anything she wants - even if it's a couch that can't be sat on. That being said, she never acts like an entitled bitch - she works 60+ hours a week for her money. Thankfully, she still has her sarcasm and sense of humor, so the beginning is easy to read, even if you don't really care about Jen as a person. (Who gets married just for the money? Ok, probably a lot of people.) In the second half of the book, Jen is searching for a job after being laid off with no reason. She still wants to have a lot of money, and still buys new sweater sets and shoes, despite having to take that money out of her savings account. Still, she's becoming a better person - volunteering, fostering dogs, searching diligently for a job while ashamed of being on unemployment, emotionally supporting her husband. She undergoes a massive change when she realizes she never should have been living so materialistically in her past. She begins writing and realizes that she doesn't want to go back to working her ass off at an office for money, because she wants to truly enjoy life.
Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge. A woman comes to standing in the San Francisco Bay. She doesn't know who she is or how she got there. After being rescued by a kind swimmer, the woman is taken to a mental hospital. There, she learns that someone has been looking for her. Lucie has a fiance, Grady, who has been frantically looking for her for over a week, posting flyers and making public pleas on the news stations. He is on his way from Seattle to come get her; the doctors think she will get her memory back once she sees someone familiar. Though parts of Lucie and Grady seem to fit together perfectly, there is a rift between them, and seeing him does nothing to bring back Lucie's memory. She's sent home with advice to see a psychologist for her dissociative memory disorder and is determined to compile her life story.
This was an amazing book. I was hooked from the premise and opening lines, and it didn't fail to deliver. There is an underlying heartbeat of suspense, as you wonder if Grady and Lucie will come together or break up completely - with the deadline of their previously-planned wedding looming just two months from the date Lucie is found. The story isn't overdone or sappy in the least - the relationship between Lucie and Grady is the most honest and realistic I've read in a long time. There are other elements that come together to round this story out, and it drags you in and demands you finish it quickly, with the story lingering in your mind long after you're done.
Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason. Jason Getty considers the murder he committed to be an accident, a crime of passion, a man truly reaching his breaking point and reacting without thinking out the consequences. Though he has finally found himself laughing and having hints of a normal life in the past year, he still thinks of Gary Harris, the man he killed, fairly often. That might be due to the proximity - Gary Harris is buried in Jason's backyard. When the landscaper comes to Jason's door saying he found something, Jason knows that he'll finally have to confess to his crime. Instead, the landscapers have found two other graves, and Jason has no clue who they belong to. This kicks off a story filled with suspense, never knowing who to believe, and a little trouble with keeping the characters and their histories straight. If you want an entertaining read, this is it.
The Odd Sea by Frederick Reiken. I've read this book countless times since high school; it's one of my top three favorite books. Ethan Shumway is sixteen when he disappears - literally disappears: his younger brother, Philip, sees Ethan at the end of the driveway one minute, then he's gone. The book is Philip's searching for (or "not-finding", as he calls it) Ethan. There is something about Reiken's writing that makes the whole story vague and mysterious, yet complete enough to be satisfying, regardless of what the resolution may be.
2013 Writer's Market edited by Robert Lee Brewer (Chapter 3: Promoting Work). The last chapter of the book before the listing section. There are a handful of articles about what social media outlets to use and how to effectively use them, including Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and blogging. It seemed a bit daunting since I don't use many of those platforms, but the advice was to the point and included links to many other sites either to help with social media, or that are lesser-known media outlets themselves.