The Bro Code for Parents by Barney Stinson – Audiobook Review

The Bro Code for Parents by Barney Stinson and Matt Kuhn, narrated by Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris)
Published in audio by Simon Audio, published in print by Touchstone, both imprints of Simon & Schuster

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

So you’re going to be a parent.

You might be asking yourself a series of important questions:

Will I be a good parent? • Will I be able to afford this? • Can I ever have sex again?

Well, the answer to all these questions is a rock-solid no. But just because your existence is now a petrifying turd on the canvas of life doesn’t mean your kid has to be as lame as you’re about to become. That’s why I’ve written this book—to teach you how to be an awesomommy or legendaddy.

The Bro Code for Parents will help you:

Choose a baby name that won’t get your kid stuffed into a junior high locker •

Interview and hire a smokin’ hot nanny • Teach your child instant classics like “The Boobs on the Bus” and “Bro, Bro, Bro Your Boat”

With full-color illustrations, interactive work sheets, and even suggestions for how to turn a stroller into a broller, The Bro Code for Parents gives you all the tools you’ll need to raise your child to be almost as awesome as I am. Almost.

Thoughts on the story:

If you’ve watched How I Met Your Mother this is probably exactly what you think it will be: ridiculous, slightly sex-obsessed advice that bears little resemblance to any sane parenting advice, but is pretty funny. This will sound like I’m damning The Bro Code for Parents with faint praise and I don’t mean to do that, but the best thing about this book i that it knows when to stop. I absolutely do not mean that it gets tired. The thing is, this concept absolutely could get tired, but Stinson (okay, Kuhn) keeps it to the perfect length where you feel that he has covered what he should, but he doesn’t overdo it. If you find Barney funny on How I Met Your Mother, you are likely to be amused here, too.

Thoughts on the audio production:

I have only watched How I Met Your Mother sporadically and, while I really enjoyed it, I’m not sure that I am into it enough that I would have cared much about this book in print. Audio, though? Neil Patrick Harris kills it. He KILLS it. The voices, the vocal sound effects… Yeah, audio is the way to go with this, because of the supreme awesomeness that is Neil Patrick Harris.

Overall:

If you’re into Barney Stinson and have any knowledge about parenting, this is – at 2.5 hours – a fun diversion of an audiobook.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link at the bottom of this post. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The Trial of Fallen Angels by James Kimmel, Jr. – Book Review

The Trial of Fallen Angels by James Kimmel, Jr.
Published by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, an imprint of Penguin

It is a fairly typical day for lawyer Brek Cuttler: play with the baby, go to work at her law firm, pick up the baby, stop at the store on the way home. The only problem is, she has no idea what happened after all of that. Brek’s next moment of consciousness involves sitting in an otherworldly train station, dressed in her favorite suit and covered in blood. Brek is is now in the afterlife, and she has been chosen to continue her earthly quest for justice by joining the team that presents souls for the Final Judgement.

My oh my does The Trial of Fallen Angels ever have some intense moments! There are a couple of scenes involving Brek’s little daughter that made me have to put the book down and walk away overnight, because they were just too much for me to handle. One of the times I very nearly put the book in the freezer. Moms of young children, this book may just about kill you, be forewarned.

At the same time that The Trial of Fallen Angels attempts to give you heart attacks, it also has some really beautiful parts. I simply adored the theme of connectedness that runs through the stories and the lives that Brek encounters as she learns how to present souls. The threads begin to weave together, illuminating not only the reader but Brek herself as to the reality of her past and that of her family.

The Trial of Fallen Angels is unlike anything I’ve ever read and, although it gets slightly preachy towards the end, it is a moving book with great emotional impact.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
*These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The Good Father by Noah Hawley – Book Review

The Good Father by Noah Hawley
Published by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House

Youthful indiscretions can cause inconveniences later in life, although hopefully they aren’t always life-destroying. For Dr. Paul Allen, his indiscretion was a particularly ill-suited marriage. He was a young and ambitious doctor, she was a flighty young woman. They might never have even stayed together, had it not been for an unintended pregnancy. Although the marriage ended, Paul would always have his son Daniel as a memento – at least during those times when he actually saw Paul. Now Paul has a new wife, two new sons, an entire new life into which Daniel barely fits. Many days Paul likely doesn’t even give his firstborn son much thought. All this changes one summer evening at a political rally in California when a promising young presidential candidate is assassinated and Daniel – now going by the name Carter Allen Cash – is accused of pulling the trigger. Suddenly, Paul finds that Daniel now consumes every moment of his life, as he tries to prove – even if only to himself – his son’s innocence.

From the first page, The Good Father sucks the reader in with each and every word. A child’s terrible act, a father’s guilt, and absolutely engrossing writing are the keys to The Good Father‘s success. Hawley’s structure was particularly interesting: in addition to Paul’s quest for the truth, we see excerpts of Daniel’s year of driving across the country before the assassination, as well as case studies of other political assassinations. As a rheumatologist, Paul is used to looking at the world as a medical problem, something with relevant case studies, and he addresses his son’s transgression in much the same way, even if he doesn’t realize it immediately:

I thought about how the clues in a human mystery are nothing like the clues in a medical mystery. With medicine you are dealing wth scientific facts. Tissue samples, blood tests. The human body is a finite entity, with a finite number of systems…. But with a human mystery, it is difficult even to decide what constitutes a fact. -p. 173

The Good Father is really about the journey of grief, guilt, and acceptance , but it also to a lesser extent explores the psyche of a young man losing his way. Both stories are resonant, and Hawley’s way with words makes this story irresistible. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The Red Thread by Ann Hood – Book Review

The Red Thread by Ann Hood
Published by W.W. Norton & Co

After losing her daughter – and subsequently her marriage – in a tragic accident, Maya Lange moved across the country and began the Red Thread Adoption Agency, helping families adopt baby girls from China. None of Maya’s new friends, clients, or coworkers know about her loss, they simply know she is completely devoted to her job and to bringing families together with the little girls destined to be part of their family. The latest batch of families seeking new additions includes Maya’s good friend, Emily, who is desperate to make her marriage – which is her husband’s second – feel like a family, despite her sullen stepdaughter who wants nothing to do with her.

Instead of focusing solely on Maya, or solely on Maya and Emily, Hood gives roughly equal time to each family contemplating adoption, in addition to writing chapters from Maya’s point of view as she works to help these families bring home babies and works out her own painful personal history at the same time. I was actually somewhat worried when I discovered that so many characters were receiving sections from their own point of view and that each Chinese family whose daughter would find a new home would have their story briefly told as well. Often novels with large ensembles do not work well for me because they frequently seem to sacrifice good character and even plot development for too many points of view, and “The Red Thread” had only 300 pages to tell all of these stories.

My fear was totally unfounded.

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how she did it, but Ann Hood managed to evoke in me an intense emotional connection to the story she was telling and to the plights and lives of all of the families involved, even those Chinese families whose stories were given only a few pages. Maya’s story brought me to the point of tears more than once, and books very rarely make me cry (other than a few Harry Potter deaths, which still get me every time). Part it may have been that this is a highly personal story for Hood who also lost a child and went through the adoption process, but I think it is just as much the fact that she is a phenomenal writer whose backlist I now can’t wait to read.

The writing was gorgeous, the plotting was perfect, and the characterization was superb; it was emotionally engaging without being emotionally manipulative. I can very highly recommend this “The Red Thread.”

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

Source: author.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Books Guaranteed to Put Me To Sleep – Guest Post by Lauren Grodstein, author of “A Friend of the Family”

Lauren Grodstein teaches creative writing at Rutgers-Camden and is the author of “A Friend of the Family,” which I reviewed yesterday.

A few nights ago, after yet another round of searching for the lost pacifier, I found myself, once again, unable to fall back asleep. The house was quiet – the kid snored, the husband snored, the cat snored at the landing at the base of the stairs. These three are frankly outstanding in their ability to go from alert to unconscious in the time it takes a normal person to sneeze. Meanwhile, once I’m up, I’m up – and, at three a.m., I’m usually ticked off, surrounded by snoring and pacifiers, wondering once again how I got into this mess. There was a time in my life when I slept, regularly, til noon! These days it’s a triumph if I’m still asleep at five-thirty.

However, on those occasions I’m able to go back to sleep, it’s usually due to the help of one of four books that now stake permanent territory on my nightstand. These books are well-written enough not to wake up my irritable inner grammar maven, but boring enough not to wake up my imagination, either. They’re like literary Ambien. This week, in honor of daylight savings, I’m sharing this list as a gift to all the exhausted parents out there, since I cannot give them the biggest gift of all: a child who sleeps through the night.

1. In Suspect Terrain, by John McPhee

John McPhee is a masterful reporter who’s done books on everything from oranges (fabulous) to Alaska (a bit meandering at times, but still well worth a read). However, in “In Suspect Terrain,” McPhee, alongside intrepid geologist Anita Harris, documents the geographical history of the eastern United States, spending a whole lot of time at the Delaware Water Gap and dropping mad knowledge about igneous rock and conodonts. The writing is lovely; the topic is dull as, literally, dirt. Four pages in I’m asleep and dreaming about sediment.

2. Fascinating Womanhood, by Helen B. Andelin

This gem is actually very absorbing the first few times you read it; it’s a 1960s guide to man-catching, akin to 1996’s The Rules, and full of such pearls as “Beneath his desire for worldly acclaim lies an even more intense yearning, and it is HIS DESIRE TO BE A HERO IN YOUR EYES. It is for this he lives and breathes.” (caps author’s). When I first read this book in my twenties, this advice seemed hugely amusing, but ten years later, with my hero fast asleep next to me, reading it not only knocks me out, it also knocks out my ability to feel any sort of amusement whatsoever.

3. The Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen.

Virtuous vegetarian recipes; sweet black-and-white illustrations. Pass me some of that Arabian Squash-Cheese Casserole before I lose consciousness forever.

4. Lonely Planet Vancouver, by the Lonely Planet people.

Vancouver, as a city, has many of the same qualities I look for in a sleeping aid: it’s pleasing, calm, attractive, and, deep down, just the tiniest bit boring. Believe me, I love Vancouver the way any normal person loves maritime Canada, and I keep this guide on my nightstand because it’s as close as I’m going to get to the city any time soon. Nevertheless, what is Vancouver if not rainy weather, homemade scones, urban kayaking, and efficient public transportation? Just thinking about it makes me drowsy in the nicest possible way.

So there you go: my four insomniac go-tos. If you have any suggestions of books that knock you out, please email me at laurengrodstein@yahoo.com. Three in the morning is coming all too soon, and believe me when I tell you I need all the help I can get.

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