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Theresa K. (Tesstarosa) - , - Reviews

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100 Hilarious Little Howlers
Review Date: 4/13/2011
Helpful Score: 3


First off, a book thats title is fifty percent lies is off to a bad start. There are 100 stories and they are short (or little), but they are overall not hilarious or howlers. The stories are not all bad, so many are bad and, even if they are good, they arent all that humorous.

I struggled to read this book, and seriously considered quitting at about the half way point. This is something Ive actually never done. Rather than quit, I decided to continue reading and if I hit a story that just didnt grab me in the first page or so, to just skip it.

This was a good decision. It made getting through the longer and a long story in the book is about 10 pages and boring stories easy. Mostly because I just quit reading them and went onto the next story.

I was surprised by the stories that I didnt like. One that I skipped pretty much completely was written by Lewis Carroll. Whi the edytors chose to leafe yt in the straynge Englysh format yt was written yn ys a misteree to mee. I found miself unayble to read yt because all the is were written as ys. I just quit reading. I didnt think Lewis Carroll wrote in Old English, so perhaps this was supposed to be part of the humor of the story. I just found it annoying.

The other thing I was disappointed in is that the editors didnt seem to have any real method to how they organized the stories. They are not grouped by author or theme, they are simply presented in alphabetical order by story title.

Im pretty proud of myself for finishing this book.


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Review Date: 11/17/2010


Junior lives on the Spokane (Washington) Indian reservation. Hes kind of a runt and is picked on by everyone on the rez except his best friend. Until he decides to attend the all-white school to get a better education. Then, his best friend turns on him.

He gets by through his comics and humor, living in an Indian world that no longer accepts him because he attends the all-white school (where he is a pretty good basketball player) and trying to gain acceptance at an all-white school that doesnt want to accept him because hes an Indian.

I loved this semi-autobiographical account of growing up in two worlds. Junior attacks his life with aplomb in some of the most trying circumstances like dealing with bullies and crushes on girls.


The Abuse Excuse : And Other Cop-outs, Sob Stories, and Evasions of Responsibility
Review Date: 6/22/2008
Helpful Score: 2


Mr Dershowitz book explores the use of abuse as an excuse for commiting in trials and the success of the "abuse excuse." He gives multiple examples of different abuse excuse cases (Lorena Bobbit, Melendez Brothers, etc.)

The "Introduction" is fairly lengthy (relative to the rest of the chapters) and includes a number of footnotes to support his positions or add information. The stories about the cases are well written and easy to read.

The book was written while the OJ Simpson trial was being prepared and must have been released before the verdict -- he makes several references to the OJ case in the book. It's a bit weird reading these stories now, but it is an interesting read.


Agnes and the Hitman
Agnes and the Hitman
Author: Jennifer Crusie, Bob Mayer
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 354
Review Date: 12/14/2009


Agnes Crandall writes the âCranky Agnesâ cooking column and is engaged to Taylor, an up-and-coming local chef. The two of them have just worked out a deal to purchase Two Rivers from Brenda Fortunato Dupres. Brenda is the mother of her best friend, Lisa Livia (aka LL) growing up. Part of the deal is that Agnes and Taylor will cater the wedding for Maria â Brenda's granddaughter and Lisa Livia's daughter.

This will be Agnes and Taylor's first big catering event at the home which is on the river and has a barn for the catering events.

One evening, a young local comes to Agnes' home and tries to kidnap her dog. Agnes uses the nearest weapon she has at hand to stop him â a frying pan. (This is not the first time she's conked a guy on the head with a frying pan, either.) In the struggle, the intruder falls through a previous covered-up door in the kitchen and fatally falls to the floor of the previously hidden basement.

Shane is a government agent and is called in to help protect Agnes by his Uncle Joey, who is also a good friend of Agnes'.

While protecting Agnes, the two of them need to figure out why people keep trying to break into Agnes' home and Agnes' has to work to ensure that Maria's wedding takes place at her home because now Brenda is trying to set things up so that the wedding will get moved and then Agnes will have to come up with three months of actual mortgage payments or be foreclosed on.

I enjoyed this book better than the last Crusie/Mayer collaboration that I read (Don't Look Down.) The action and romance is better written and the story is a little easier to follow even though much of it is pretty far fetched.


Alias Grace
Alias Grace
Author: Margaret Atwood
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 261
Review Date: 6/21/2011
Helpful Score: 1


This is the fictionalized account of a true story.

Grace Marks, a poor, Irish immigrant housekeeper, has been convicted of killing her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper and mistress, Nancy Montgomery, along with the stable hand, McDermott.

The stable hand is hung for his role in the murder, but, Grace, who cannot remember the murders themselves, is sentenced to life in prison.

A group of people, who believe Grace is innocent and that the murders were committed solely by McDermott.

In an attempt to prove their case, they bring in Dr. Simon Jordan, someone they consider knowledgeable in the new field of mental illness, to help prove that Grace is not guilty of this crime.

Grace has been granted privileges that most prisoners do not receive. She works in the Governors wife home as a member of the staff during the day (her expert sewing skills have made her the seamstress for the home) and is returned to the prison every evening to sleep.

Each day, he sits with Grace as she tells him her life story. But, Grace does not know the full reason Dr. Jordan is there and has faced may disappointments in the past when others have tried to have her conviction overturned. The one piece of good fortune she did get was that her sentence was commuted from hanging to life in prison.

Graces life is told to us in a chronological fashion, each day, Dr. Jordan hopes that by letting her go at her own pace through her life story, she will be able to remember the day her employer and his housekeeper/mistress were murdered. And that the memory of the events will not have a detrimental effect on Grace.

In the meantime, Dr. Jordans work on this case, is having significant effects on the course of his life.

This was a very poignant story about what it was like to be the member of a household staff as well as an immigrant from a poor family with an abusive father. It also reflects what few choices Grace, as a woman, had to make a better life for herself. Along the way, there were people who intervened at appropriate times to help improve her lot in life and there were those who intervened and what they offered ended up costing her.


Almost to Die For (Vampire Princess of St. Paul, Bk 1)
Almost to Die For (Vampire Princess of St. Paul, Bk 1)
Author: Tate Hallaway
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 33
Review Date: 4/13/2011


The first book in Hallaways new Vampire Princess series introduces us to Anastasija Parker, a somewhat geeky high school student with a penchant for the drama club, who at her 16th birthday will find that her absentee dad isnt the deadbeat her mother told her he was. She also finds out that shes not a true witch like her mother and is quite possibly, more like her father a vampire king.

Now her mother and father are fighting over what her destiny will be and shes got two boys with crushes on her one a witch and one a vampire. And then theres the strange behavior shes starting to exhibit at school.

How will she choose?

Once again, I really enjoyed this book by Hallaway. Her characters are quirky, fun and struggle with the answers. It didnt hurt that the story is set at a fictional high school in St Paul that closely resembles Central High School and the setting is in the St Paul area and since thats where I live, it was fun to imagine this all happening around my neighborhood.


Are You There Vodka? It's Me Chelsea
Are You There Vodka? It's Me Chelsea
Author: Chelsea Handler
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 400
Review Date: 5/31/2010


A collection of wildly funny and wildly exaggerated stories taken from Chelsea Handlers life.

A book that is not easily read in public as I found myself laughing out loud constantly avoid eating and drinking while reading this book. Your book will thank you for not spewing food and beverages on it.

A quick read and definitely funny.


Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks
Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks
Author: Ben Goldacre
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 1/5/2011


Ben Goldacre has written this book to explain how proper scientific research is conducted and why it is conducted the way it is. He spends a great deal of time on the placebo effect and regression to the mean. And, complains that this information isnt taught in schools.

Is the book informative? Yes. Was it worth reading? Most definitely. Especially the part about how pharmaceutical companies can legally and conveniently hide the bad results that they get when testing new drugs.

The writing style is easy enough to follow although there were a few times when I felt he could have been for clear. (Like when he complained that most people dont know the difference between mean, mode and median. It would have been a very simple footnote and its not like he didnt use footnotes. And, mean is the only definition I remember for sure its the average. The other two are the piece of data that is in middle and the one that occurs the most but I dont know which is median and which is mode.) He really has it in for homeopaths andnutritionists and I cant say that I disagree with him on this one. But, he spends a great deal of time on them and Im not familiar with any of the people he names. Perhaps because they are famous only in the United Kingdom.

Overall, a book worth reading.


The Bell Jar (Modern Classics)
The Bell Jar (Modern Classics)
Author: Sylvia Plath
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 169
Review Date: 8/1/2010


Another book read for a book club. Definitely a classic and one that I wouldnt have probably chose to read of my own accord. Definitely a book worth reading.

The story follows Esther Greenwood a brilliant, talented and beautiful college student in the early 1950s. The story opens in June 1953, the month the Rosebergs were electrocuted for treason, with Esther at an exclusive month-long internship working at a New York magazine. She is given her own room at a New York hotel as are all the other girls and she works as an editors assistant at a New York magazine part of the day and is taken to plays, fashion shows, shopping trips, etc. the rest of the time.

As the month of her internship draws to a close, Esther will have to go back home and begin her life again as a scholarship-based college student. We see her begin to behave strangely but we also know her thoughts and her behavior just seems to be that of a young woman who knows she has a lot of talent and is facing the pressure to succeed.

As the story progresses, her behavior definitely becomes that of someone who is experiencing an extreme mental breakdown in a time where mental illness is shunned and the treatments are none or barbaric.

The story is beautifully written and is a semi-autobiographical account of the authors life as a young woman. As I read it, I was heartbroken with how little was known about mental illness and how horribly the people who suffered from mental diseases were treated by the people they knew and often by the people in medicine.

Her life under the bell jar and eventual, if temporary, escape from the bell jar is riveting.


Blades of Glory: The True Story of a Young Team Bred to Win
Blades of Glory: The True Story of a Young Team Bred to Win
Author: John Rosengren
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 12/30/2008


A well-written and interesting book following the Bloomington (MN) Jefferson hockey team. The stories of the players, coaches and those around the team are very eye-opening.

I doubt that the stories are exclusive to the hockey world -- the experiences of those on this hockey team are probably similar to the experiences of those on other high-performing high school athletic teams.


Blind Dates Can Be Murder  (Smart Chick, Bk 2)
Blind Dates Can Be Murder (Smart Chick, Bk 2)
Author: Mindy Starns Clark
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 72
Review Date: 7/19/2009


This is the second book in the "Tulip" trilogy.

Jo Tulip, who writes a syndicated helpful hints column, "Tips from Tulip", learned in the previous book ("The Trouble with Tulip") that her column is losing circulation and that she has to do something to save her column and connect with the young generation. You know, the people that are her age. She is doing that in part by going on-line and writing a blog. And, she's decided it's time to start dating again, after being unceremoniously dumped at the alter. To do this, she chooses a computer dating service.

She meets her computer match at a local steak house. It's definitely not a love match -- there's not even a chance that they'll be friends. But the evening gets even worse when her date drops dead from an apparent asthma attack. Then she finds that her date is actually in trunk of the car of the man who showed up for her date.

While the fake date's death appears to be from the asthma attack, Jo can't rule of the possibility of his death being a murder. She gets her best friend, Danny, who has showed up as the police photographer during the initial investigation into the date's death, to help her with her investigation.

Danny still hasn't told Jo that he's in love with her -- and Jo has no idea. Everyone else knows, but Jo is clueless and Danny isn't really aware that everyone else knows until he starts to ask for advice.

Once again, I enjoyed this book. I'm looking forward to the next book -- the ending of this book has an interesting twist and I'm hoping that it will resolve one of the issues that hasn't been resolved from the first book. The Christian theme is still there -- perhaps a bit stronger than in the first book -- but it wasn't an overpowering theme in the book.


The Body Is Water
The Body Is Water
Author: Julie Schumacher
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 5/4/2009


Jane Haus is three months pregnant and has decided to walk away from her teaching job in Pennsylvania and move back in with her cantankerous, widowed father in her childhood home on the Jersey shore. She doesnt know the father of her child, a man with whom she had a two-night stand, and is ambivalent about the pregnancy.

Her older, brilliant and more competent sister, Bee, learns of her decision and quits her job in Atlanta to move back home as well to help her sister, and father, as she goes through her pregnancy.

While living at her fathers home she comes to put together the puzzle of her familys eccentric history. Learning about a mother she never really knew and hoping that by learning about her mother, she will learn what she needs to know to be a mother and meet the challenge of the next phase of her life.

I enjoyed this book. Janes memories of her childhood and life on the Jersey shore are well written and really made me understand why Jane was so confused and uncertain about what she should do when she found herself pregnant. In fact, Im planning to try to find other books by this author to read.


The Boys on the Tracks
The Boys on the Tracks
Author: Mara Leveritt
Book Type: Perfect Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 1/31/2011


In 1987, two boys, Kevin Ives and Don Henry, in Saline County, Arkansas, are run over by a train. The emergency workers on the scene felt the bodies were wrong and that the boys may have been dead when placed on the tracks. But the state medical examiner ruled their deaths as accidents due to marijuana intoxication. Yes, the state medical examiner thought theyd inhaled so much marijuana that they passed out and couldnt hear the train whistle.

The parents didnt believe this conclusion and were appalled at how the investigation was handled. The investigation work was shoddy from the start, the scene wasnt secured and witness accounts were dismissed.

Kevins mother, Linda, questions everything about her sons death and eventually a local attorney, who has quite a few person problems, steps in an helps her family and gets a grand jury to determine that the boys death were homicides and not accidents.

But even this, does not result in a real murder investigation. And, every time it looks like something will break the case the investigation is blocked, by the authorities charged with investigating the case.

The Iran-Contra affair seems to be connected to the boys deaths and a number of other unsolved murders that happened during the same time period. A lot of drug running was going on in Arkansas during this time. Former president Bill Clinton was the governor at the time and he didnt seem to care that the people doing the investigations were incompetent. Later on, when Mike Huckabee was governor, he was also unwilling to help with the investigation.

I read this book partly because I believe the Ives family is a distant relative and because I wanted to find out why this case was so difficult to solve. It is very well written and some fairly complex twists and turns are presented in a manner that allows you to keep track of who is who and what is going on.

The story really made me angry this family just wants justice. A solid investigation into who murdered their son. But it would seem that in Arkansas the good old boys network is the law and the law breakers.


Breaking Dawn (Twilight, Bk 4)
Breaking Dawn (Twilight, Bk 4)
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 3537
Review Date: 9/13/2010
Helpful Score: 1


The final book in the Twilight series. It opens with Bella driving her new, extremely expensive sports car that Edward has purchased for her and insists that she drive now that her trusty pick up has conveniently died. This embarrasses her to no end and she can barely drive the thing. (Perhaps her hoping to get her to vampire quicker?)

She and Edward announce to her father that they are getting married, but he doesnt react the way Bella expects no anger, just laughter. Laughter because she has to tell her mother shes getting married. Well, this should elicit anger but once again, the parents dont react the way Bella expects them to. Her mother is thrilled.

The wedding takes places she doesnt not trip going down the aisle. (Although, it would have added to my joy in the reading.) A few of the La Push werewolves show up and Jacob, who has been missing, makes a surprise appearance at the wedding. This pleases Bella (because the little tramp is still stringing the guy along) and bothers Edward (but hes just so mature in his response, because he just avoids Jacob.)

They then head out to some tropical island in South America, near Brazil, for a wonderful honeymoon. Sadly, theres really no sex but I suppose I shouldnt be disappointed as the author is at least staying true to the young adult fiction genre by being vague about it (and all those parents who dont want to explain sex to their kids can wait until their own children are 16 and pregnant.)

But, horror of horrors, Bella gets pregnant. Apparently, dead sperm can swim. Even worse, she cannot be convinced to not go through with this pregnancy. I think she just wants to do so because shes sure its a boy. Luckily, she hedges her bets and picks a girl name. Unfortunately, its a name she made up by combining her mother and Edwards mothers names Renesmee (ruh-nez-may or some such stupid pronunciation.)

Bella nearly dies about 6 weeks later giving birth. (Well, its not a human baby.) Edward has to save her by being the one who transforms her into a vampire. But not until after shes been attacked by the baby. (A girl given that stupid name.)

Its good that shes transformed because the Volturi are going to arrive to make sure shes been made a vampire. But, theyve learned about the baby and thats not good.

Now they have to prepare to battle the Volturi who will want to kill little Renesmee (who has reached toddler stage in about 6 weeks.)

The ending was a massive disappointment. All these vampires from around the world show up to defend the Cullen family and stop the Volturi from killing sweet little Renesme. And, I feel no remorse at revealing this, nothing happens. The Volturi go home and they all live happily ever after. (You knew that was going to happen, didnt you?)

Oh yeah, and Jacob comes back and helps the family but what happens to him is just stupid.

Thankfully, Im done with this series.


Bury Me Deep
Bury Me Deep
Author: Megan Abbott
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 18
Review Date: 3/3/2011


This story is based on an actual event but Megan Abbot decided to change the outcome of her story.

Its 1931 and Marion Seeleys husband is a doctor with a drug addiction. In order to work, he must go to Mexico and provide medical assistance to poor miners. He feels its too dangerous for her to go to with him, so he leaves her in Phoenix, where she works for a local doctor as a transcriptionist.

Marion befriends Louise, an outgoing nurse, and her roommate Ginnie, who is suffering from tuberculosis. Louise and Ginnie are party girls and spend many evenings entertaining the wealthy local men. Marion finds herself drawn into their lifestyle and into an affair with a wealthy local man.

Then things fall apart and Marion is entangled in the deaths of her friends and facing her husband with her infidelities.

I had a hard time getting into the story its written in a very noir vein. But once I got used to the writing style, one you would expect from a writer of that era rather than this, I found myself drawn into the story.


The Catholic Revolution : New  Wine, Old Wineskins, and the Second Vatican Council
Review Date: 7/19/2009


Andrew Greeley is a sociologist and Catholic priest. In this book, he explores what happened to the Catholic church after the Second Vatican Council.

He presents the case the Second Vatican Council didn't actually instigate large changes to the church but that those in the church were not fully prepared to implement the changes and now that the changes have been made, theres very little than can be done to turn back the clock.

He also pointed out that the Church leaders often ignore the things that make Catholics love being Catholic such as May Crownings, the stories, stained glass windows, etc.

Greeley makes his points well and has the data to back up his observations.


Cheer!: Three Teams on a Quest for College Cheerleading's Ultimate Prize
Review Date: 11/17/2010


Kate Torgovnick follows three different college cheer squads through a year of training, cheering and competition two co-ed squads one former championship team and one from an all-Black school and an all-girls cheer squad.

After a background of the history of cheerleading in the United States, Torgovnick introduces us to the men and women that she will be following for her story.

All of the cheerleaders are devoted athletes despite what many think. They work out both aerobically and with weights on a regular basis. The do high-energy gymnastics and dance routines and build high and dangerous pyramids during 3-4 minutes musical routines. In addition to devoting time to train for cheerleading competitions, they regularly cheer at athletic events for athletes who dont consider what they do a sport. (Its not a recognized sport at any college at the time the book was written.)

Torgovnick does a great job of making you root for each of the teams. As I read the story of each time, I realized the dedication and love for the sport that each team member must have to continue on with the sport. At one point, one of the girls is injured, but the injury isnt recognized for its severity right away and has near-tragic results for her. I found myself incredulous and furious that her coach, a former cheerleader herself, didnt recognize the potential problem quickly enough.

A very intriguing book and great inside look into the world of cheerleading.


Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang
Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang
Author: Chelsea Handler
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 219
Review Date: 6/22/2010
Helpful Score: 6


Another collection of the hilarious and ridiculous antics in the life of Chelsea Handler. This time she tells the story of her discovery of the joy of masturbation and finding out who the dumbest person on her staff is. And, her family, especially her father, rarely get portrayed in a good light.

This is definitely not a book to read in public, unless you like have people stare at you as you laugh hysterically. I found it to be a quick and fun read. Ms Handlers books are great for those times when you need something to make you smile and even if you dont.

Its definitely got adult themes, and Id be very leery of letting anyone under 16 (and maybe even 21) read it.


Christmas in Ireland (Kaylee O'Shay, Irish Dancer, Bk 4)
Christmas in Ireland (Kaylee O'Shay, Irish Dancer, Bk 4)
Author: Rod Vick
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 12/29/2009


At thirteen, Kaylee has advanced to a higher level of dancing and needs to spend more time training and practicing so she can continue on in dance. But something exciting has happened â her Aunt Kat, her mom's sister, has moved to town from Chicago. Her Aunt Kat is a marathon runner and really encourages Kaylee to train and be her best.

But Kaylee thinks her Grandma Birdsall must be getting worse, because she is spending her days over with her Aunt Kat while her mother is at work. Then Aunt Kat announces that she plans to take the whole family to Ireland for Christmas.

Kaylee is very excited about this. As an Irish dancer, going to Ireland to compete is a dream and Kaylee thinks that being able to go there for a vacation before she goes for a competition will help her be a better competitor in the future. Mostly because she will then be able to focus on the dancing and not what she going to get to see in Ireland.

Then Kaylee learns the truth about why her Aunt Kat has moved and it causes a major change in everyone's life.

Another great story in the continuing saga of Kaylee O'Shay. She still has the girls that pick on her, her good friends and is really starting to focus on what she needs to do to be her best.

*This is a young adult fiction book â I read it because I gave it to my nieces for Christmas 2009.


Cold War (American Chronicles, Bk 7)
Cold War (American Chronicles, Bk 7)
Author: Robert Vaughan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 7/2/2009


The story continues into the 1950s and opens with the death of Robert (Bob) Canfield, the last of the original members of the Quad Quad and one of the original characters in the story.

The US has entered the war in Korea. Travis Jackson is now a pilot fighting in Korea and his wife and young son are living the good life on base but soon find themselves back in the segregated south. Shaylin McKay has traveled to Korea as a reporter.

Demaris Hunter starts her own variety show on TV that is a huge success and leads to the discovery of a new country singer, Buck Campbell. Up-and-coming star Marcella Mills soon find herself with her own connection to Buck.

Loomis Bookers grandsons are leaders in desegregation. Artemis as a star in the NBA and Deon as a civil rights worker with Martin Luther King, Jr. Deon feels Artemis is giving in and not doing enough for Negro rights and Artemis feeling that he contributes in the way that he is best able to.

We also learn more about Bob Parker. He has joined the Army and is a helicopter pilot with dreams of becoming a writer. A hasty marriage ends his dreams of going to West Point.

The book is a good story but Im starting to feel like there are too many characters and with too many stories to follow to make me care as much about each story as I would like.


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