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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Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth – Mini Book Review

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth
Published by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

From the publisher:

Eighty-year-old Dora, the narrator of a story that began a half century earlier, is bonding with an unlikely set of friends, including Jackie Hart, a restless middle-aged wife and mother from Boston, who gets into all sorts of trouble when her family moves to a small, sleepy town in Collier County, Florida, circa 1962.

With humor and insight the novel chronicles the awkward North-South cultural divide as Jackie, this hapless but charming “Yankee,” looks for some excitement in her life by accepting an opportunity to host a local radio show where she creates a mysterious, late-night persona, “Miss Dreamsville,” and by launching a reading group—the Collier County Women’s Literary Society—thus sending the conservative and racially segregated town into uproar. The only townspeople who venture to join are regarded as outsiders at best—a young gay man, a divorced woman, a poet, and a young black woman who dreams of going to college.

Okay, so, longest title ever. I have to say, the title actually sort of prejudiced me against Miss Dreamville before I even started. For one thing, it makes the book sound almost sickly sweet. Well, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society is definitely sweet, but it is not at all saccharine. Dora is a wonderful narrator, full of vim and vigor, as well as heart.

Jackie is, of course, the center of the novel. She is after all the catalyst for the change in Collier County. Even so, Miss Dreamville is not a Yankee coming down to save and enlighten backwards Southerners. Jackie is certainly the instigator of the literary society, but because she wants to make friends and have something to do in her new town. The group she gathers is mostly comprised of misfits and outcasts, but each of the characters in this book has something to teach her (or his) new friends, Jackie included.

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier Women’s Literary Society is well-written and absolutely endearing. It is a quick read both because it is relatively short and because it is so easy to get lost in that you won’t want to put it down. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss.
* 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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Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite by Matt Kaplan – Book Review

Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite: The Science of Monsters by Matt Kaplan
Published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

From the earliest times, humankind has been obsessed by monsters. As is evidenced by the fact that an entire month-long blogosphere event can be organized around horror stories, our species is fascinated by the things that scare us.

Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite is that most special of nonfiction books – the kind you don’t want to put down. Kaplan has wonderful style, as well as the ability to make his already interesting subject even more interesting. He has clearly done the research necessary to present a well-rounded and informative book. I could tell that the book would be good when he started with this interesting and pertinent information on page 4:

…Rozin, along with many others in his field have a theory that there is pleasure for the mind in watching the body react negatively while knowing perfectly well that nothing bad is actually going to happen. The enjoyment, they suggest, comes from a sense of mental mastery over the body that is responding in a knee-jerk reaction.

To put this information in context, Kaplan describes two different studies, one of people who like very spicy foods and another of people who love horror movies. Both groups don’t just claim to enjoy the actual experience, which others would find to be physically or psychologically painsful, but they also claim to enjoy the accompanying physical reactions, whether it be sweating from spicy foods or a racing heart from the scary movie.

After establishing the human penchant for the things that frighten us, Kaplan works through ten different categories of monsters, from giant animals (many early monsters, King Kong), to the beasties of the water (Leviathan, Jaws) to the created (the Golem, Frankenstein, Terminator). Of course he also discusses werewolves, vampires, Medusa, ghosts, and the like, but what is particularly interesting about each of these ten categories is that by grouping them together in these categories, it is easier for Kaplan to look at the root cause(s) of the fear. For instance, the connection between rabies and the fear of those “cursed by a bite” such as vampires and werewolves.

This also allows Kaplan to describe the things that have replaced some of these earlier fears in the same categories. For instance, the myth of the minotaur seems to have evolved from geological happenings, such as earthquakes. Now that we understand the natural mechanisms that create loud noises and shaking from the earth we no longer use a proxy mythical beast, but that doesn’t keep us from making what are essentially horror movies with natural occurrences – earthquakes, volcanoes, asteroids, etc. – as the monster. As Kaplan says,

The monster is being created by the same core fear, but believability is forcing the form of the monster to change. -p. 147

Although Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite is a particularly relevant read around Halloween, it is a smart exploration of the connection between man and monster that is a good enough read to pick up at any time. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher, via Edelweiss.
* 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 Other Half of Me by Morgan McCarthy – Book Review

The Other Half of Me by Morgan McCarthy
Published by Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Jonathan and Theo Anthony did not have the most conventional of childhoods. Living in their ancestral Welsh home with an alcoholic and depressed mother and a father they are told died shortly after splitting with their mother, the figure who looms largest in their imaginations is their grandmother, Eve. Absent for much of their childhood, Eve is a former politician and a philanthropic hotel mogul, whose ideas of what their family is and should be set her at odds with the somewhat flighty Theo. As their live of privilege puts them at odds with the residents of the neighboring village, the ways that Theo and Jonathan cope and acclimate – or fail to do so – begins to drive them apart, until all that remains between them is the pull of blood, which is itself countered by a family secret bigger than Jonathan could imagine.

Told from Jonathan’s point of view, The Other Half of Me is part family mystery, part coming of age story. The life of the wealthy young man, essentially a modern lord of the manor, is not one that most readers will be likely to commiserate with, but McCarthy humanizes Jonathan, even as she makes him a ladies man who no girl can resist. Despite the occasional cliche character trait, Jonathan is easy to relate to because he has struggles with family and finding his place in the world that are similar in kind if not particularly in substance to what nearly everyone experiences at one point or another. Perhaps the most realistic and convincing piece of his character is his relationship with Theo. The siblings are very different, and Jonathan is protective of and dismissive towards his sister in turn.

It is the combination of the complex but easy to relate to Jonathan and the hint of a family mystery to be revealed – along with McCarthy’s strong prose style – that makes The Other Half of Me such a compelling read, despite the fact that most of the other characters are mostly just sketches that the reader understands only so far as Jonathan does. 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 Map of the Sky by Felix J. Palma – Audiobook Review

The Map of the Sky by Felix J Palma, narrated by James Langton
Published in audio by Simon and Schuster Audio, published in print by Atria, both imprints of Simon and Schuster

This is the second book in the Map of Time series. I previously reviewed the first book, The Map of Time. This review may contain some spoilers for previous books in this series.

Synopsis:

There is a Whole Lot going on in this story. I mean, it is over 600 pages in hardcover and over 2o hours in audio. This being the case, I’m going to give you the publisher’s synopsis so I don’t inadvertently include spoilers:

A love story serves as backdrop for The Map of the Sky when New York socialite Emma Harlow agrees to marry millionaire Montgomery Gilmore, but only if he accepts her audacious challenge: to reproduce the extraterrestrial invasion featured in Wells’s War of the Worlds. What follows are three brilliantly interconnected plots to create a breathtaking tale of time travel and mystery, replete with cameos by a young Edgar Allan Poe, and Captain Shackleton and Charles Winslow from The Map of Time.

Thoughts on the story:

Palma integrates disparate pieces of his story much better in The Map of the Sky than he did in The Map of Time. Perhaps it was partly that I knew more of what to expect, but this time around he seemed to avoid the rambling exposition which occasionally plagued the first book in this series. Not only that, Palma seems to be the absolute master of his narrative in The Map of the Sky. Threads are introduced and seemingly abandoned, only to be picked up later in ways that are nothing short of brilliant.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Oh, James Langton, the only problem with this series is I’m not sure I can ever listen to you in anything else, you so perfectly encapsulate Palma’s cheeky third person omniscient narrator. Occasionally when Palma goes a bit too much into exposition, you keep things light, fun, and moving forward. I can’t imagine anyone else narrating these books and you make 20-odd hours fly by in the blink of an eye.

Really, though, the production is wonderfully smooth, and Langton’s narration even more so.

Overall:

I listened to The Map of the Sky in fewer days than most audiobooks half its length because it is just So. Good. Although I enjoyed The Map of Time, The Map of the Sky is definitely the better of the two and it is even better in audio. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Audible.com

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. 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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