ARC REVIEW: Jeopardy In July – by Barbara Venkataraman

Title: Jeopardy In July
(A Jamie Quinn Mystery #5)
Author: Barbara Venkataraman

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
First published: March 27th 2017
Finished reading: July 6th 2017
Pages: 220

“The thought of discussing Fifty Shades of Grey with women who reminded me of my grandmother sent shivers down my spine. You couldn’t pay me to join that book club, not even for a million bucks. Well, maybe a million. Hell, I’d eat a cockroach for half that.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I read the first four Jamie Quinn books last year and I have grown to like both the main character and the writing style, so it was really easy to say yes to a copy of book number five. And I have to say that Jeopardy In July might just have been my favorite Jamie Quinn adventure yet. I’m not sure if it was because this story was exactly the fast, entertaining and easy read I was craving at the moment, but I literally read this cozy mystery in one sitting and enjoyed every single moment of the ride. It’s true that if you look critically at Jeopardy In July not everything about the plot is exactly all that credible and some of it might be over the top… But trust me, in this case this will lead to only more laugh-out-loud funny moments and situations Jamie Quinn will have to find a way to get out of. The writing style is very enjoyable and fun to read and I literally flew through the pages. The whole Kip-romance thing still wasn’t my thing, but the many La Vida Boca scenes mostly made up for that and the case Jamie Quinn finds herself in the middle of is very interesting. In short a highly entertaining cozy mystery with a healthy dose of humor and funny quotes… Reading the previous books is recommended though since it will help you understand the characters and their evolvement over time better.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first four books of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

La Vida Boca is a posh assisted living facility in Boca Raton, Florida and seems to be a true paradise for the older generation. Recently they have been having an alarming amount of deaths though… While none of them are considered suspicious at first, things start to get strange when members of the same small poker club are starting to die under suspicious circumstances. Jamie Quinn has once again found her a mystery… Will she be able to find out what is really going on?

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I normally prefer my mysteries to be a little more ‘thrilling’, but every once in a while I like to endulge myself with a cozy mystery. Jeopardy In July turned out to be just the highly entertaining, fast and easy read I was craving and I had a lot of fun reading this story. The writing style is very enjoyable and the case in Jeopardy In July is quite interesting. I’m enjoying to see Jamie Quinn’s character evolve over time and the ending definitely made me wonder what’s next in store for her!


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BOOK REVIEW: Quirky Essays For Quirky People – Barbara Venkataraman

Title: Quirky Essays For Quirky People
Author: Barbara Venkataraman

Genre: Non Fiction, Humor, Essays
First published: May 13th 2014
Finished reading: June 28th 2017
Pages: 71


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Last year the author pointed out her collection of essays was available for free on Amazon I decided to add it to my collection, especially since I enjoyed her writing style in her cozy mystery series. The title and cover spoke to me and it sounded like a fun read, and Quirky Essays For Quirky People was just that. This bundle is packed with short humorous essays about quirky situations that will make you smile. They are very easy to read and perfect for whenever you feel like a light read. As always with short stories (even though I don’t read/review a lot of them), my review is different than usual. Below you can find a list of the 24 stories included in Quirky Essays For Quirky People in chronological order with a quote and short description:

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ARC REVIEW: This Is Really Happening – by Erin Chack

Title: This Is Really Happening
Author: Erin Chack

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir,  Humor
First published: April 25th 2017
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group / Razorbill
Finished reading: April 24th 2017
Pages: 240

“I realized then that luck is a slippery thing, hard to hold and keep with you. No amount of worrying will prepare you for when it starts thrashing around in your hands. Luck happens whenever it feels like it, wherever it feels like it, however it feels like it.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Penguin Young Readers Group / Razorbill in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Two years ago I made a promise to myself to read more non fiction stories, and since I’ve discovered I really enjoy reading memoirs even if I’m not familiar with the author. I came across This Is Really Happening in one of the Buzz Books editions at Netgalley, and I was instantly convinced by the short excerpt provided there. To my surprise, my request came through last Saturday… And since I was in the mood for a memoir, I decided to try and read it before the publish date today. This Is Really Happening is without doubt a well written and fast read with just the right dose of humor. It contains various, mostly ‘coming of age’ essays about various stages in Erin Chack‘s life. To get an idea of the topics in the essays: among other things she talks about high school and how she met her partner, about her battle against cancer at the age of nineteen and how people react to the illness, about her job at BuzzFeed and her roadtrip from coast to coast. What stands out is the enjoyable writing style and the fact that Erin Chack tells things exactly how they are; not hiding the ugly (and maybe embarrassing) details and that makes this memoir feel a lot more authentic. Serious topics are mixed with hilarious moments and if you are looking for an entertaining, well written and interesting coming of age memoir, This Is Really Happening is a great choice.

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A collection of personal essays where Erin Chack writes about a variety of things that happened to her while growing up. From meeting her partner during high school to her battle with cancer, dealing with the symptoms of chemotherapy, what it’s like working as a writer at BuzzFeed, college and an extended roadtrip; she recounts everything with a healthy dose of humor and honesty, talking about various universal themes along the way.

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If you enjoy reading memoirs and are looking for a well written and fast-paced bundle of essays with just the right balance of serious topics and humor, This Is Really Happening would be right up your alley. I really enjoyed the writing style and the general tone of the story. It feels like Erin Chack is telling you her story while sharing a drink in a bar; personal, honest and with just the right dose of humor. Recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: Big Mushy Happy Lump – by Sarah Andersen

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Title: Big Mushy Happy Lump
(Sarah’s Scribles #2)
Author: Sarah Andersen

Genre: Graphic Novel, Humor, Non Fiction
First published: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: January 1st 2017
Pages: 128
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*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I admit I don’t have a lot of experience reading graphic novels, but I fell in love with these illustrations as soon as I saw the cover. And what better way to start the year with a light read full of ‘down to earth’ and endearing illustrations and situations that are extremely easy to relate to? Big Mushy Happy Lump is actually the second comic by the author and is coming out on March 7th; the first, Adulthood Is A Myth, I will be looking forward to read soon. I had a lot of fun reading this graphic novel and it was really easy to connect to the illustrated personal essays of Sarah Andersen. I could see myself in so many of the real-life situations! I mean, I think any booklover can relate to the illustration below…

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The essays are not just about books though. They also talk about the author’s real-life experiences with for example anxiety, career and relationships. These little stories are both fun to read, orginal, easy to relate to and feel authentic; the illustrations a real treat. This bundle would make a perfect gift!

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This second bundle of Sarah’s Scribbles is full of both the most recent fan favorites and dozen’s of all-new comics. The illustrated personal essays are based on the author’s personal real-life experiences with topics as anxiety, career, relationship and other challenges adults have to face.

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I had a lot of fun reading Big Mushy Happy Lump. Not only are the illustrations easy on the eye, it is also really easy to relate to the highly personal little essays. The stories feel authentic and the humor used was right up my alley. I’ve seen the tone being compared to Furiously Happy, and I completely stand behind that comparison. If you are looking for an entertaining graphic novel that talks about real life, this one is an excellent choice!

BOOK REVIEW: A Man Called Ove – by Fredrik Backman

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Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Humor, Contemporary
First published: August 27th 2012
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: November 22nd 2016
Pages: 337
(Originally written in Swedish: “En man som heter Ove”)
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“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.”

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There has been a lot of hype around Fredrik Backman‘s work this year, and I thought it was about time to find out just exactly what everybody was raving about. And boy do I regret not having picked up my copy of A Man Called Ove earlier! This originally Swedish book was in one word BRILLIANT. I fell in love with both the prose and main character from the very first page and it’s been a while since a book has been able to make me laugh and cry at the same time. Ove has managed to win over my heart, grumpiness and all, and he is hands down one of my new favorite characters. He really reminded me of Carl, the grumpy old man from the movie Up! And Ove’s character is just as endearing in his own grumpy way. Apart from the prose itself and the fabulous character, Fredrik Backman is also able to combine heartbreaking and sensitive topics with a humor that is right up my alley. The humor might not be for everyone, but even so I would suggest trying A Man Called Ove if you haven’t already. It’s without doubt one of my favorite reads this year!

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Ove is a grumpy man who finds his solitary world turned upside down when a young family moves in next door. He is the kind of man with strict routines and a short fuse. People around him call him ‘the bitter neighbor from hell’, but is he really bitter just because he doesn’t seem friendly all the time? Behind his cranky exterior is a story and a sadness that will slowly be revealed as random things start happening when the family next door moves in.

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This is not the first time I have been blown away by a Swedish book, and A Man Called Ove has definitely been added to my list of all time favorites. I’m having a hard time writing a coherent review, but what I can say is that I strongly suggest reading this story. It’s just that good! I’m aware the humor I myself loved might be a turn off for some, but even so I would say it is worth the try. I will be looking forward to read his other books soon.

BOOK REVIEW: Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine – by Stephanie Tromly

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Title: Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine
(Trouble #1)
Author: Stephanie Tromly
Genre: YA, Mystery, Contemporary
First published: August 4th 2015
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Finished reading: September 21st 2016
Pages: 352
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“Preparing to survive a typical day of being Digby’s friend wasn’t that different from preparing to survive the apocalypse.”

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While I was browsing books, I remembered someone had recommended this title to me some time last year. I thought it sounded like a fun read, so I decided to give Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine a go. And now I’ve finished it, I’m not sure what to make of it. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading it, but there is no doubt that the whole plot and story just is a bit too absurd and over the top for me. I feel like this book is trying too hard… Either way the plot just isn’t credible and doesn’t make any sense. I’m also having mixed thoughts about the main characters and I’m not sure I actually like them… That said, somehow I still managed to enjoy reading the story. It might be the prose, it might be the fast pace, it might be the weirdness of it all, but Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine is without doubt entertaining. If you like unpredictable contemporaries with a dash of humor, this would be an excellent choice.

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After her parents get divorced, Zoe moves with her mother from Brooklyn to upstate New York. She is determined to get back to the city and transfer to the elite private school her father wants her to go to. But then she meets Philip Digby, and he is by no means an ordinary guy. Zoe soon finds herself in a series of both hilarious and dangerous situations just by being a friend of Digby’s. Digby wants to find the kidnapper of a local teenage girl, because the kidnapper might know something about the disappearance of his little sister eight years ago. But helping Digby comes at a cost, and Zoe will have to step out of her comfort zone if she wants to keep up.

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I thought I was going to enjoy Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine better than I actually did, but the plot just was a little too absurd to my taste. It felt almost like the story and their characters were trying too hard to be funny and original. That said, it’s still a superfast read and I actually ended up enjoying it despite the crazy ride. If you like weird books with a lot of unpredictable situations, this book is definitely for you.

ARC REVIEW: Razzle Dazzle Unicorn – by Dana Simpson

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Title: Razzle Dazzle Unicorn: Another Phoebe And Her Unicorn Adventure
(Heavenly Nostrils #4)
Author: Dana Simpson

Genre: Graphic Novel, Children, Humor
First published: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Andrew McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: August 10th 2016
Pages: 184
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“”My dad speaks ‘nerd’.”

“It’s good to be bilingual.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Andrew McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I have been wanting to explore the graphic novel/comic genre for a while now, but with so many options out there it’s really hard to decide where to start. Netgalley and Andrew McMeel Publishing offered the great opportunity to try my hand at my very first graphic novel this year with Razzle Dazzle Unicorn: Another Phoebe And Her Unicorn Adventure. I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the cover. It’s just so colorful, fun and I simple love the artwork! This graphic novel is perfect for young girls from the age of 8 to 12 years, both because of the graphics and the simple, but funny and relatable stories. Dana Simpson has found the perfect formula in the friendship between little Phoebe and her best friend Marigold the unicorn. The interaction between both characters is great even at those pages where there isn’t happening much plotwise, and I love that it shows young readers that it isn’t necessarily bad to be different. Razzle Dazzle Unicorn shows a range of typical childhood events like the holidays, school assignments, summer camp, frenemies and chores. Phoebe’s childhood is quite typical except for the fact that her best friend happens to be an extravagant unicorn and she frequently runs into other magical creatures. Contemporary with a dash of fantasy,  and so much fun to read! I can definitely recommend this graphic novel for younger (female) readers.

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Phoebe and her unicorn are back with more adventures and more sparkly than ever! In this fourth volume, Phoebe and Marigold talk about the holidays and NY resolutions, confront trouble at school, frenemies and messy rooms. Marigold also has a nasty case of ‘sparkle fever’, and they both go to music summer camp to meet up with Phoebe’s friend Sue and her friend Ringo the lake monster… And they are reminded that being weird is WAY more fun than being normal.

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I fell in love with this graphic novel as soon as I saw the cover art. The graphics in Razzle Dazzle Unicorn are just too cute, colorful and adorable in general! They will lure in even those children that might need a little push to start reading, and Phoebe and Marigold the unicorn will put them under their spell from the first page. The stories themselves are simple, but quite entertaining and funny. It will be easy for the younger readers to relate to Phoebe and it has an interesting underlying message that will encourage kids to use their imagination and not be afraid of being different. The glossary in the back and the final section are a nice touch as well!