Wednesday, December 18, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Girl Walks into a Bar . . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle by Rachel Dratch

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

The former SNL star recounts the adventures and unexpected joy of dating and becoming a mom when she least expected it—at the age of forty-four. Anyone who saw an episode of Saturday Night Live between 1999 and 2006 knows Rachel Dratch. She was hilarious! So what happened to her? After a misbegotten part as Jenna on the pilot of 30 Rock, Dratch was only getting offered roles as “Lesbians. Secretaries. Sometimes secretaries who are lesbians.”

Her career as a female comedian at a low point, she suddenly had time for yoga, dog-sitting, learning Spanish—and dating. Dratch reveals the joys and terrors of putting herself out there in a quest to find love and then becoming a mother in an undreamed-of way. With riotous humor, she recounts breaking the news to her bewildered parents, the awe of her single friends, and romance and coparenting with her baby-daddy, John.

Filled with great behind-the-scenes anecdotes from Dratch’s time on SNL, Girl Walks into a Bar . . . is a funny book with a refreshing version of the happily-ever-after story, full of sensitivity, candor, and plenty of comic relief, as only Rachel Dratch can tell it.


I will admit, I knew Rachel Dratch was on SNL before I read this, but that was about all I knew about her.  And I couldn't have named a single scene she was in (now I know -- Debby Downer!).  I would not have been one to be asking, "What happened with 30 Rock?" or "So, what's the deal with you and John?"  I had no idea about anything in her personal life.  However, now that I've read this book, I love Rachel Dratch!

If you've been following this blog for awhile, you know I've been on a humor audiobook kick for awhile now.  Girl Walks into a Bar looked interesting.  I figured it would be similar to Bossypants by Tina Fey or maybe Here's the Deal by Howie Mandel, was better than both! 

Dratch tells a little bit about her time on SNL and what happened afterward (30 Rock and "going in another direction"), she talks about the dating scene in New York and unexpectedly becoming a(n unwed) mother in her 40s.  For me, this book contained a perfect balance of humor and drama.  Dratch made me laugh in some moments and nearly cry in others. 

I highly recommend this book for any woman - particularly any woman who has at some point experienced the feeling of not being completely perfect in their career or motherhood (or both).  You will identify with Dratch and come to love her as I did.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture by Andy Cohen

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

The man behind the Real Housewives writes about his lifelong love affair with pop culture that brought him from the suburbs of St. Louis to his own television show

From a young age, Andy Cohen knew one thing: He loved television. Not in the way that most kids do, but in an irrepressible, all-consuming, I-want-to-climb-inside-the-tube kind of way. And climb inside he did. Now presiding over Bravo's reality TV empire, he started out as an overly talkative pop culture obsessive, devoted to Charlie's Angels and All My Children and to his mother, who received daily letters from Andy at summer camp, usually reminding her to tape the soaps. In retrospect, it's hard to believe that everyone didn't know that Andy was gay; still, he remained in the closet until college. Finally out, he embarked on making a career out of his passion for television.

The journey begins with Andy interviewing his all-time idol Susan Lucci for his college newspaper and ends with him in a job where he has a hand in creating today's celebrity icons. In the witty, no-holds-barred style of his show Watch What Happens Live, Andy tells tales of absurd mishaps during his ten years at CBS News, hilarious encounters with the heroes and heroines of his youth, and the real stories behind The Real Housewives. Dishy, funny, and full of heart, Most Talkative provides a one-of-a-kind glimpse into the world of television, from a fan who grew up watching the screen and is now inside it, both making shows and hosting his own.


I love Andy Cohen!  He's like the gay, Jewish, white male version of Oprah Winfrey.  Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but he's just such a likeable guy. If you've been following this blog, you know that I've been on a humor audiobook kick lately. I listened to the audiobook version of Most Talkative - all 8 hour and 37 minutes of it!    

I enjoyed the beginning of the book where Andy talks about his youth, his midwest upbringing and and his experience with coming out of the closet.  This is one thing I love about books from celebrities - the feeling that you are getting to know them on a personal level. 

I also enjoyed hearing about the development of Andy's career and some of the behind the scenes action from the Real Housewives.  However, as the book went on, it got a little long and rambly.  The title, "Most Talkative," could not have been more appropriate.  Despite that, if you like Andy Cohen, I think you'll like this book. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The New Green Smoothie Diet Solution: Nature's Fast Lane for Peak Health (Green Smoothie Guides) by Liz Swann Miller

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

**Now Revised & Expanded With Brand New Content + 30 New Delicious & Nutritious Green Smoothie Recipes**

Join The Green Smoothie Revolution For Abundant & Radiant Health!

Feeling Tired, Stressed and Depressed?

Introducing a simple, affordable, mouth-watering way to improve your health from the inside out. "The New Green Smoothie Diet Solution" provides you with a simple, immediate and complete blueprint you can start using today to achieve new levels of health and well being!

Expensive equipment Not Required! Hard to find exotic fruits and vegetables, Not Essential! And as a bonus, you'll spend less than you normally would at the supermarket, while enjoying all of the nutritious benefits of deliciously tasty green smoothies.

Inside You'll learn How To:
  • Create the perfect smoothie every single time (step-by-step)
  • Balance sweet and savory flavors for maximum taste
  • Rotate greens for maximum efficiency
  • Supercharge your smoothies with next level ingredients
  • Purchase the best blender without breaking your budget

Amazon Three Time Bestselling Author,Licensed Naturopath and Raw Food Expert, Elizabeth Swann-Miller focuses on the 7 critical factors of peak health and shows you how to easily achieve them.

This Book Will Show You How To:
  • Overcome sugar cravings and shed inches fast
  • Detoxify your body
  • Fight the negative effects of stress
  • Feel happier and calmer
  • Increase vitality
  • And improve the look of your hair and nails
Over 60 Flavor Packed, Health Infused Recipes Guaranteed To Be:
  • Kid friendly
  • Beginner friendly
  • Budget friendly
  • Quick & Easy to prepare
  • Created with ingredients you can find anywhere


Here's a nice little break from my humor audiobook trend - a health/nutrition book.

The author, Liz Swann, reached out to me a few months ago to request a review for her book, and I'm so glad she did!  She had seen my review of The Raw Food Detox Diet and thought I might be interested in her book.  When I read The Raw Food Detox Diet a couple of years ago, I was beginning my journey into eating a healthier diet.  At that time I had tried a few green smoothie recipes and enjoyed them, but found that making green smoothies required planning ahead in order to be sure to have the exact right ingredients on-hand (...or so I thought!).  After a few tries (and a few bad smoothies), I just kind of gave up.

And then came The New Green Smoothie Diet Solution!  (Don't let the title fool you. This is NOT a "diet" book.)

Being the impatient person that I am, I first skimmed the book for a few recipes that sounded good, jotted down a number of ingredients on my grocery list and quickly discovered that I didn't get enough of the right things to make any of the recipes I had seen.  DO NOT DO THIS!

I then resorted to sitting down and reading the book start to finish, skimming over the recipes as they appeared in each chapter and marking the ones that sounded good so I could try them later.  I would estimate it took me about 2 hours of actual reading time.  Then I started with a few of the basic smoothies at the beginning of the book (just 2 ingredients each).  I tried one each day at lunch and quickly realized that making yummy green smoothies was SUPER easy.  Once I had mastered the basic green smoothie, I moved on to some of the more complicated recipes -- they weren't really "complicated," but required a few more ingredients which I needed to add to my shopping list.  I found all of the recipes I tried very good.

Ms. Swann encourages readers to make a green smoothie for one meal per day.  I work from home, so this was pretty easy for me to work in a green smoothie at lunch time.  I found that cutting up the fruit over the weekend saves me time during the week and have been amazed by how much fruit and veggies I consume in one day just by making a smoothie rather than skipping lunch, eating leftovers or snacking on chips throughout the day, which was my normal routine before I resolved to drink a green smoothie every day.

If you are interested in eating healthy or learning how to make delicious smoothies for you (and your family), this is definitely the book for you! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Why We Suck by Dr. Denis Leary

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

In "Why We Suck", Dr Denis Leary uses his common sense, and his biting and hilarious take on the world, to attack the politically correct, the hypocritical, the obese, the thin - basically everyone who takes themselves too seriously. In "Why We Suck", Leary's famously smart style and sardonic wit have found their fullest and fiercest expression yet. Zeroing in on the ridiculous wherever he finds it, Leary unravels his Irish Catholic upbringing, the folly of celebrity, the pressures of family life, and the great hypocrisy of politics. Proudly Irish American, defiantly working class, with a reserve of compassion for the underdog and the overlooked, Leary delivers blistering diatribes that are penetrating social commentary with no holds barred. Leary's book will find wide appeal among people who want to laugh out loud or find a guide who matches their view of what's wrong in America and the world-at-large.


This is another book that is not for the easily offended, but the author is Denis Leary, so that shouldn't come as a surprise.

I recently started on a humor audiobook kick.  I found that these books are the easiest to digest while I'm driving or walking, and they are relaxing for me because they take my mind completely off of anything other than what the author/narrator is saying at the moment.

I also happen to be particularly fond of satire, so I really enjoyed this book - Why We Suck by (Dr.) Denis Leary.  There's no real purpose to the book, other than to hear Leary's humorous take on everything that's wrong with the American culture.  The topics of the book cover everything from celebrities to the president, parenting, strip clubs, religion, politics, men vs. women, sports and more.  Even if you don't agree with what he says, the book is guaranteed to make you laugh most of the time. 

Leary also talks throughout the book about his family, and I felt that I gained a better understanding about who he is as a person.  I grew to like him more, despite his demeanor, and I got the feeling that although he tends to be blunt and sometimes offensive, deep down he really has a soft heart.

If you are a fan of satire and not easily offended, I recommend this book.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

When Chelsea Handler needs to get a few things off her chest, she appeals to a higher power—vodka. Seems reasonable, when considering that she discovered her boyfriend was having an affair with a Peekapoo and she had to pretend to be honeymooning with her father in order to upgrade to first class. Welcome to Chelsea’s world—a place where absurdity reigns supreme and a quick wit is the best line of defense.

In this highly entertaining, deliciously skewed collection, Chelsea mines her past for stories about her family, relationships, and career that are at once singular and ridiculous. Whether she’s convincing her third-grade class that she has been chosen to play Goldie Hawn’s daughter in the sequel to Private Benjamin, deciding to be more egalitarian by dating a redhead, or looking out for a foulmouthed, rum-swilling little person who looks just like her...only smaller, Chelsea has a knack for getting herself into the most outrageous situations.

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea showcases the candor and irresistible turns of phrase that have made her one of the freshest voices in comedy today...


Okay, so I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I read this one.  I was on a humor kick, and personally, I like Chelsea Handler's sarcastic humor, so I thought I would give it a try.  And I do not regret it.

I had recently read Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres and Bossypants by Tina Fey.  Chelsea Handler's Are You There Vodka, It's Me, Chelsea is equally as funny, with a totally different flavor.

In Are You There Vodka, It's Me, Chelsea, Handler tells a handful of stories from her life starting with a memory from her childhood where she told her classmates that she was going to be in a movie with Goldie Hawn in order to avoid getting in trouble for not doing her homework, to her pre-teen years when she lied about her age to get some babysitting jobs, one of which ended up going horribly wrong when she was hired to watch a sugar-addict who was older than her true age, to many more stories that provide momentary glimpses into Handler's life and make the reader laugh out loud.

If you like Chelsea Handler, you'll love this book.  If you don't like Chelsea's sarcastic humor or are offended by language or sexual references, you might want to stick with something like Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Blue Bottle Club by Penelope J. Stokes


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

On the eve of the Depression, four adolescent girls confide their dreams on paper and commit them to posterity by storing them in a blue bottle in an attic. Sixty-five years later, a jaded female television reporter finds their girlhood wishes and determines to track the women down. While the plot may sound predictable, the protagonists are not; Stokes offers some of the strongest, most appealing women characters ever to appear in evangelical fiction (which is not a genre famous for its three-dimensional females). The novel has a happy ending, but not in the traditional sense of many evangelical novels written for a female audience: no godly heroes come riding in on white horses to rescue these women from poverty, abandonment and despair. Their stories involve broken dreams and betrayed hearts, but speak to an ultimate victory that is centered in God's unconditional love and their lifelong friendships with other women. (Beliefnet, Aug. 2000) -- From Beliefnet


First of all, I really enjoyed this book and I want to make sure that statement is clear before you read anything else.

That said, there are a lot of grammatical errors in the book.  Not just a few here or there, but a LOT.  Missing punctuation and typos are very distracting to me when I'm reading, but I enjoyed the story so much that once I was into it, I happened to notice those issues less often - not that they were occurring any less often, they just didn't distract me as much from the story.  However, the version I read was the ePub version through my library and my guess (from my own experience) is that many of the errors were due to the conversion of the document to ePub format, not the author's errors.  I still thought this feedback was important for potential readers (and the author/publisher).

About a quarter of the way through the book, I started to have some concerns about the religious theme that was developing and where it was headed.  However, I found that as I read on, it got better (for me).  The religious theme did not seem overly aggressive to one particular viewpoint, which I liked.  I read some negative reviews from people who probably have stronger one-sided religious views than I do.  It is no surprise that the writer of a spiritually themed book cannot please everyone because we all have different opinions when it comes to religion and God.  However, I did not read into the religious theme that much, I just took it for what it was - a lighthearted, spiritually uplifting book.

Overall, the story line hooked me.  I loved the characters, I loved the overall message.  I would recommend this book for any woman who enjoys fiction, stories about friendship and has an interest in things of a spiritual nature.

Monday, June 3, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me by Howie Mandel

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

A frank, funny, no-holds-barred memoir that reveals the Deal or No Deal host’s ongoing struggle with OCD and ADHD–and how it has shaped his life and career.

Howie Mandel is one of the most recognizable names in entertainment–respected by his peers and beloved by audiences as the host of the enormously popular prime-time game show Deal or No Deal. With a career that spans three decades and many different show-business platforms–he’s a renowned stand-up comedian who continues to perform more than 150 sold-out shows a year, he created the award-winning TV show Bobby’s World, he’s starred in feature films and the hit TV series St. Elsewhere, and he’s also hosted his own daytime talk show–he’s one of the most versatile performers anywhere. But there are aspects of his personal and professional life he’s never talked about publicly–until now.

Eleven years ago, Mandel first told the world about his “germophobia.” He’s recently started discussing his adult ADHD as well. Now, for the first time, he reveals the details of his struggle with these challenging disorders. He catalogs his numerous fears and neuroses and shares entertaining stories about how he has tried to integrate them into his act. “If I’m making myself laugh,” he writes, “then I’m distracted from all the other things going on in my head that are, at times, torturous.” And he speaks frankly and honestly about the ways his condition has affected his personal life–as a son, husband, and father of three.

Fans who’ve been dying to know “the deal” behind Mandel’s remarkable rise through the show-business ranks will be rewarded with many never-before-told anecdotes, each one generously leavened with Mandel’s trademark humor. There are tales from every phase of his colorful career–from his early days as a teenage carpet salesman and aspiring stand-up comic to his stint opening for Diana Ross, his six years on St. Elsewhere, and beyond.

As heartfelt as it is hilarious, Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me is the story of one man’s effort to draw comic inspiration out of his darkest, most vulnerable places. It’s sure to please Howie Mandel’s legion of fans–and provide hope to the millions who strive to succeed in spite of OCD and ADHD.

The first time I saw Howie Mandel on Deal or No Deal he seemed familiar, but I didn't know why.  I don't remember watching St. Elsewhere (which he was in for several years), but in his book, I also learned that Howie was the voice of Gizmo in Gremlins, Animal (and other characters) in Muppet Babies and Bobby in Bobby's World.

I liked Howie in Deal or No Deal.  I'm not sure if this book made me like him a little more or a lot less.  I think a combination of both. 

It was interesting to read (well "hear"...I listened to the audiobook) about his struggles with OCD and ADHD.  It sounds like he was fortunate enough to come from a loving home and somehow found the most patient woman in the world to put up with all of his antics over the years.  The honesty and openness is what made him likable, yet the stories themselves (the seemingly apologetic stories of cruel jokes he played on a friend and even his son) and the narcissistic theme throughout the book left me with an overall negative impression of him as a person.

That said, the book is funny and I didn't hate it; I'm just not sure I'd ever want to know Howie Mandel personally. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Bossypants by Tina Fey

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon -- from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)

If you like Tina Fey, this book will make you like her even more.  Besides being hilarious, Tina comes off as very down-to-earth and honest about her real life struggles (and the fact that her real life "struggles" are probably not really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things). 

I "read" this book in audiobook format and it was so fun to hear Tina tell her story in her own words - from growing up in Pennsylvania to doing amateur improv in Chicago to Saturday Night Live to 30 Rock (and simultaneously moonlighting on SNL as Sarah Palin while simultaneously planning her daughter's birthday party). 

Fey made me laugh as she talked about her father (Don Fey):

"How can I give her what Don Fey gave me? The gift of anxiety. The fear of getting in trouble. The knowledge that while you are loved, you are not above the law."

...and her honeymoon adventure, her interview with Lorne Michaels at SNL and even as she described her struggles with being a working mother.

I highly recommend this book for whenever you want something lighthearted and fun to read.  If you are offended by language, however, this book may not be for you. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

"I've experienced a whole lot the last few years and I have a lot to share. So I hope that you'll take a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy the words I've put together for you in this book. I think you'll find I've left no stone unturned, no door unopened, no window unbroken, no rug unvacuumed, no ivories untickled. What I'm saying is, let us begin, shall we?"


I "read" this in audiobook format and all I can say is I...LOVED it.  Seriously...I'm not kidding.

I'll admit, I'm an Ellen fan, so I may be slightly biased, but this book was just what I needed.  I typically read non-fiction (business) books and occasionally fiction, but I was bored.  I needed something different, something light, something that didn't make me feel like I was reading.  After all, reading is work. 

The audiobook is narrated by Ellen, who is just a joy to listen to.  Over the course of three hours, Ellen talks about everything from gardening to gambling to how to become a billionaire.  She tells fun, lighthearted stories and she just makes you laugh. 

I don't know many men in my life who would enjoy this book, but I would highly recommend it for women, especially those who are already a fan of Ellen.