Audiobook Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

On Wednesday, the real-life Book Club Babes met to discuss our latest selection: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. None of us had heard of this novel or its author before, but with over 96,000 ratings and 15,000 reviews on Goodreads, it was clear that this book had some major buzz.

The protagonist A.J. Fikry begins the story as a curmudgeonly middle-aged man, grieving the loss of his wife and dealing with the challenges of running his failing bookstore on a small island off the east coast. He doesn't particularly like Amelia, the sales rep from Knightley Press, or the annoying tourists, or anyone for that matter.

Then a two-year-old named Maya is abandoned on his store's doorstep, and A.J. must learn how to embrace life once again. This book felt like a coming-of-middle-age novel, because over the course of a decade, the reader sees how A.J.'s character evolves to become more empathetic and optimistic. I'm not that fond of stories about parenthood, given my lack of desire in parenting myself, but it's heartwarming to watch how Maya changes A.J.'s life for the better.

My book club agreed that this book was cute and charming, and we were all pleasantly surprised to learn that it featured characters of color. According to the author, "A.J. and Maya are both mixed-raced, as am I! A.J. is half-Indian and half-Caucasian, and Maya is half-African American and half-Caucasian." This book demonstrated that characters can be diverse without race relations dominating the conversation, because skin color doesn't make a family.

If you're looking for a book that makes you smile and enjoy the love of reading even more, then check out The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. It's short and sweet, clocking in at only seven hours on audio, which is perfect for readers with busy schedules. As the Book Club Babes declared, this novel may not be an unforgettable masterpiece, but it puts you in a good mood, and that's what stories are supposed to do.

Audiobook Review: Why Not Me?

 Review: 4 out of 5

When I heard that actress Mindy Kaling was writing another memoir, I didn't think twice about buying it. I had enjoyed her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, but had hoped for less childhood stories and more gossip about her celebrity life. Why Not Me? is a great sequel that divulges more of these details.

Kaling focuses on the ups and downs of fame and how exhausting it can be as a role model to curvy women of color. She has a refreshingly honest perspective on living in Hollywood: she looks good because she has a horde of people to make her attractive, and she puts on a smile even when she's having a bad day, because there's nothing that pisses off the masses like an extremely wealthy person with an awful attitude.

Even though she's the creator of her own show with her own name in its title, at the heart of it all, she's another 30-something woman who just wants to make friends and fall in love. I admit that I don't follow her closely on television since I gave up watching "The Office" and have never seen an episode of "The Mindy Project."

However, the reason why I like her memoirs is that she's relatable, hilarious, and the kind of woman I'd like to go shopping and grab frozen yogurt with. Spending extra money on the audiobook version is worth it, because it further enhances the feeling that you're listening to a good friend.

And perhaps if I were one of her besties, then she would give me the real scoop on her relationship with B.J. Novak. Because as adorable as her "soup snakes" versus soul mates metaphor was, I just want to hear the hookup stories. Kaling reveals that she loves doing sex scenes on camera, but won't spill about what goes on behind the scenes? Talk about disappointing!

As much as I love to read about drunken escapades and one-night stands a la Chelsea Handler, that's not who Kaling is. She's a theater nerd/sorority dropout/hopeless romantic, and that's what makes her endearing. I wish her show the best of luck on Hulu and hope to read more of her memoirs in the future!

Audiobook Review: Uganda Be Kidding Me

Rating: 4 out of 5

Chelsea Handler knocks it out of the park again with her latest comedic memoir, Uganda Be Kidding Me. Published in March of last year, the book retells Handler's traveling escapades in the past few years, including a ski trip at the private Yellowstone Club in Montana and a brief stint in Montenegro.

The majority of the memoir, however, covers her African safari trip with her close friends. A self-labeled 'professional alcoholic,' they spend their time guzzling cocktails and hitting on their South African guide named Rex.

“There’s a difference between being a class act and being classy. Peeing off the side of a jeep doesn’t mean you’re not classy, it just means you’re a free spirit with a small bladder.” - Chelsea Handler

Many readers will hate Handler for being the typical ugly American tourist, who keeps asking where the tigers are in the bush and complaining about her bit of vacation weight gain.

And yes, I admit that she is outrageous and abrasive. I've seen her talk show "Chelsea Lately" and read her other books, My Horizontal Life and Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, so I know her particular brand of humor well. She is the exact opposite of politically correct, making wise cracks at every minority imaginable--little people, blacks, Asians, and the LBGT, among others.

Sometimes I just have to rock myself back and forth and say, “You’ve offended so many people at this point. Don’t try to keep track now, girl.”

The reason why I enjoy her despite her offensiveness is that she's also self-deprecating. She has been famous long enough to know just how dependent she is on her countless assistants. It may be humble-bragging when she declares that she doesn't pack her own suitcases or make her own margaritas, but it also goes to show that you can be a hot mess no matter how much money you make.

Case in point: Last weekend I was visiting my family and had to try to keep quiet late one night in my old bedroom, because I was laughing so hard listening to Handler share her embarrassing story of when she shit herself in her swimsuit while kayaking in the Bahamas. The joke builds and builds on itself until she sneaks into a guest house in the wee hours of the morning, only to drunkenly open the front door for someone without her bikini bottoms on. It had me giggling like a crazy person and was easily the most hilarious portion of the book.

Ultimately, Chelsea Handler is the woman you'd want at a party, because she's unapologetic about who she is, and she definitely knows how to have fun. She also loves her dogs dearly and never, ever wants children, so I have a feeling we would make fast friends. She may not be the best role model, but I think she's better than that, because she's real.

Audiobook Review: Me Talk Pretty One Day

Rating: 3 out of 5

Well, 2015 has started off on a mediocre foot. The first novel that I read, Invisibility, was a subpar paranormal YA romance, and now I'm disappointed by David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day after hearing such great things for so many years. I've got to say that I'm regretting my choice to insert this audiobook combo-breaker after listening to a long list of female comedic memoirs.

Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000) is a collection of essays about Sedaris' childhood in North Carolina, living in New York, and moving to Paris with his boyfriend. He cracks jokes about his Greek Orthodox father and his siblings, whom I knew nothing about except that his sister Amy is also a famous humorist.

I enjoyed the essays that were more self-deprecating, especially about his struggles with language. Whether it was finding creative ways around his lisp as a kid or surviving French lessons with his sadistic instructor, I laughed at his bumbling and atrocious grammatical mistakes. Anyone who has struggled with learning a new language can relate to his verbal roadblocks.

I won't doubt that Sedaris is a good writer, since it's obvious that he's a powerful wordsmith. However, I find issues with Sedaris personally, because to be honest, he didn't seem like somebody I would enjoy hanging around. Besides his heavy drug use, his adamant refusal to use computers, and his insincere stunt as a creative writing teacher, most of the time he needs--as my mom would put it--an 'attitude adjustment.'

Sedaris came from a privileged-enough family, raised by a meddling father who forced his children to play musical instruments and constantly berated his daughters about their weight and overall appearance. I'm not saying the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, but there were many points in this book where I felt that Sedaris was just plain mean.

Part of this is because he revels in his superiority as a 'real New Yorker,' a personality trait which I can't stomach. NYC is just another city, and living there does not make you automatically smarter and more interesting than anyone else. I hope that becoming an expat--yes, I know he loathes the word--in France instilled a bit of compassion when it comes to dealing with tourists and foreigners.

And even when he's completely justified, like when a couple of Southern tourists on a train in Paris assumed he didn't know English and accused him of petty theft, his stories fall flat because there aren't any punch lines. I kept waiting for him to confront and humiliate the rude couple, but that never happened and instead he goes along his way without a word. His essays include a lot of buildup, but little payoff.

I may be one of the few people who dislike Sedaris, but unless he's eaten a giant slice of humble pie in the 15 years since publishing this book, I'll stick to writers who can make people laugh without putting others down--or if comparing him to other caustic yet relatable comedians like Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman, at least do a better job about hiding the fact that you think you're better than everyone.

Audiobook Review: Yes Please

Rating: 5 out of 5

In January 2012, I bought my first audiobook: Tina Fey's Bossypants. This outrageously hilarious book led me to read a long string of memoirs by other famous women (Mindy Kaling, Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman, Samantha Bee, Jenny Lawson, and Lena Dunham), but tragically, none of them lived up to the reigning comedic queen. I was ready to accept the fact that no one was going to be able to rise up to that level of humor.

But then! Everyone's prayers were answered when it was revealed that Amy Poehler would be writing Yes Please. Finally! Who better to top Tina than her "Saturday Night Live" costar and very own BFF?

I'm overjoyed to say that Yes Please is everything we've been waiting for and more! It's difficult to decide where to start my praises, so here are a few tidbits from the book for you to get a sense of the awesomeness that awaits you:

“I recently hurt myself on a treadmill and it wasn’t even on. I was adjusting my speed and stepped wrong and twisted my ankle. I felt a moment of frustration filled with immediate relief. I didn’t have to actually work out, but I still got credit for trying. It was a gym snow day.”

“Please don’t drive drunk, okay? Seriously. It’s so fucked up. But by all means, walk drunk. That looks hilarious. Everyone loves to watch someone act like they are trying to make it to safety during a hurricane.”

“However, if you do start crying in an argument and someone asks why, you can always say, "I'm just crying because of how wrong you are.”

She begins her book with her preface, "Writing is Hard," which is absolutely perfect for its tongue-in-cheek honesty about the writing process. Each following chapter is filled with her wisdom regarding body image and aging, dating and divorce, and balancing career and parenting.

Poehler talks about treating your career like a bad boyfriend and owning up to your mistakes. Her fiercely feminist views are a breath of fresh air, and the way she describes her own frustrations and insecurities as a woman are very relatable.

What's not so relatable is all the shameless name-dropping she does, but you still forgive her for it, because hey, it's not her fault that she knows a ton of super cool, famous people. I mean, who wouldn't want to be her friend? She even has a few celebrities guest-star on the audiobook, including Seth Meyers, Carol Burnett, and Patrick Stewart. Her parents also drop by to talk about marriage advice and what Amy was like as a child, making this the most sickeningly cute book I've listened to ever.

I also really appreciated how much time Poehler spent discussing what actually made her a star: her years at "SNL" and her famous parodies of Hillary Clinton, her experiences on "Parks and Recreation," and her hosting the Golden Globes. As much as childhood stories can entertain, fans want to be flies on the wall of a celebrity's most famous moments, and I'm so glad that Poehler shares hers so candidly.

And while Yes Please is filled with more sage advice and less hilarious anecdotes than Bossypants, it was so fun to listen to that I finished the audiobook in a weekend. You'll crack up laughing at everything from Poehler's lessons learned on mushrooms to the pranks she pulled on her costars. Yes Please is a delightfully charming read that might just make the spot of my favorite book of 2014!

Audiobook Review: Not That Kind of Girl

Rating: 3 out of 5

As for my latest audiobook review, when it comes to Lena Dunham, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I love watching her show "Girls" and admire her dedication to depicting realistic portrayals of beauty, love, sex, and friendship. I respect her as a proud feminist, raising money for Planned Parenthood on her book tour and speaking out against misogyny in the media.

On the other hand, I recognize the level of privilege that Dunham has attained and understand criticisms that she has not done enough in regards to representing people of color on-screen. Let's face it, if her parents weren't renowned artists and she wasn't able to attend prestigious schools like Saint Ann's and Oberlin, it's less likely that she would have gained such an exalted place in the arts community and impressed Hollywood enough to give her $3.5 million to write a memoir at the mere age of 28.

Of course, I also realize that male artists do not receive such flack like female artists do, which is why I don't mean to single Dunham out. She's certainly not the first rich white person who became famous thanks to the nepotistic network she was born into, and she won't be the last.

This is why it can be difficult to relate to Dunham. Her book Not The Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's 'Learned' suffers from the same navel-gazing that "Girls" does. Dunham can't help it: the first rule of writing is to write what you know, and all Dunham has known is her upper class world in New York.

In this world, Dunham is a special snowflake, coddled by her parents, nannies, educators, and therapists. She discusses working in retail and finally dating a nice guy after a series of jerks...which all sounds relatable until you learn that her boyfriend is Jack Antonoff, lead singer of Fun., and her part-time gig was at Geminola, a vintage boutique that supplied outfits to "Sex and the City" and is owned by the mother of her friend/costar Jemima Kirke.

That's not to say that Dunham hasn't experienced hardships in her life. Suffering from OCD, anxiety, and depression, Dunham has spent most of her life keeping her mental illness at bay, whether that be with her prescriptions or self-medicating with drugs, such as cocaine.

She also writes about her excruciatingly painful endometriosis and a heartbreaking incident in which she was raped by a friend of a friend in college. I applaud her for discussing these experiences and normalizing them for her readers, even if there's little in Dunham's life that could constitute what most Americans consider normal. At least by putting herself out there, women around the world can know that they are not alone.

I enjoyed the audiobook because it allowed me to hear her tone and get a better sense of her storytelling. Although some parts don't shine through orally, like her unnecessarily long entries in her food diary, there were many gems of writing that either amused or inspired me.

Ultimately, I wished that Dunham would have spent less time romanticizing her own neuroticism and more time revealing behind the scenes stories of "Girls." It's the same issue that I had with Samantha Bee's I Know I Am, But What Are You? Fans are less interested to hear the backstory from before you were famous than the juicy tales behind why you're famous.

Let's hope that the next memoir on everyone's to-read list, Amy Poehler's Yes Please, makes up for these disappointments by being a book that not only speaks to me, but also speaks for me.

Audiobook Review: Love Irresistibly

Rating: 4 out of 5

Julie James does it again with yet another novel in her U.S. Attorney series. The last two installments followed the romances of the Rhodes family. In A Lot Like Love, heiress Jordan Rhodes falls in love with undercover F.B.I. agent Nick McCall, and in About That Night, her ex-con brother Kyle Rhodes (aka "the Twitter terrorist") becomes smitten with the assistant U.S. attorney Rylann Pierce.

Love Irresistibly (2013) continues the narrative of the Chicago office with Cade Morgan, the assistant U.S. attorney who was responsible for putting Kyle Rhodes behind bars. His next assignment involves catching a corrupt senator, and he needs the help of Brooke Parker, general counsel for a prestigious restaurant company.

Brooke assists the case by allowing Cade and his team to bug the senator's reserved table at an exclusive fine dining establishment. The case is closed without many hitches, and the rest of the novel navigates their subsequent relationship and the emotional obstacles that stand between them.

Both struggle with a fear of commitment, Brooke due to her insanely busy work schedule, and Cade due to abandonment issues with his estranged father. One of the many reasons why I like reading Julie James' books is that even though her characters are strong and independent, they also can be afraid to show their vulnerable sides.

This story was especially enjoyable when it came to Cade's reunion with the teenage half-brother he never knew existed. Together they bonded over football and girl problems, while working through Cade's anger over their father who left him. The biggest lesson everyone learned was making sure not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

But enough about high-profile prosecution and family drama! Let's talk about love scenes! After feeling major disappointment with the last two romance novels I read (Deeply, Desperately and Absolutely, Positively by Heather Webber), it felt nice to get back to the good stuff.

I can always trust that James will deliver when it comes to passion. A huge pet peeve of mine is a romance novel that lacks in romance, and this was not one of them. None of that ridiculous cut-to-black, 'one thing led to another' writing that is frankly both prudish and lazy.

James cranks up the heat to the point where it was difficult maintaining a poker face listening on the train. A word to the wise: if you're going to buy the audiobook version, perhaps reserve your listening until after you complete your daily commute!

Steaminess aside, there are tons of great things about James' books. I've read all six of her past novels and already bought her 7th. But for my sake, this time it's in print!

Audiobook Review: To All The Boys I've Loved Before

Rating: 4 out of 5

This was a book that I couldn't resist after reading so much great feedback from other book bloggers. Jenny Han was a new author to me, and I'm glad that I was introduced to her work.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before is a young adult fiction novel that follows Lara Jean Song, a high school-aged middle child. Her older sister Margot just broke up with her boyfriend Josh and is studying abroad in Scotland. Her younger sister Kitty is obsessed with convincing their dad to get her a puppy. And Lara Jean finds herself in the most mortifying of predicaments.It turns out that her habit of writing love letters to the boys she was once in love with has epically backfired, because somehow the letters get mailed. And one of those boys just happens to be Josh.

To save face, Lara Jean impulsively decides to pretend to date her old middle school crush, Peter Kavinsky, who also received a letter. Peter agrees to fake-date her to make his ex-girlfriend jealous, which adds even more drama because nobody crosses the queen bee and gets away with it.

This was a great audiobook, because Han imitates a teen girl very well with her short, simple sentences and conversational tone. However, as much as I loved the fact that Lara Jean was half-Korean (seriously, why aren't there more protagonists of color in literature?!), you could obviously tell that the narrator was unfamiliar with certain terms, like incorrectly pronouncing the Japanese manga that she reads as "main-gah" instead of "mahn-gah." A small quibble, but I couldn't help but cringe during these moments.

Other than that, I enjoyed this story because it was so relatable. Lara Jean, inexperienced in relationships, must learn to adapt when her once-unrequited loves start to show interest in her. She must also navigate her changing family life, dealing with her older sister so far away from home. With their father raising three girls alone after their mother's death, Lara Jean has to step up to be a role model to her younger sister.

I was a bit disappointed by the conclusion, since the story took too many turns toward the end that I couldn't predict where it would stop. Once it did, I felt that I would have outlined it differently. However, I learned that Han has a final sequel planned for April 2015 called PS: I Still Love You, so hopefully the plot comes together better in the second half.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before is a fun, lighthearted read that will make you empathize with your teen self and nostalgic for your own coming of age.

Audiobook Review: I Know I Am, But What Are You?

Rating: 3 out of 5

To call Samantha Bee eccentric would be understated. In this 2010 comedic memoir by "The Daily Show" correspondent, Bee talks about her life growing up in Canada with her divorced parents and their extremely different parenting styles.

Unsurprisingly, Bee had a series of rebellious stages--that is, after she got over her obsessive girlhood crush on Jesus Christ. I found it hard to believe that a woman whose famous persona is a total square once spent her time stealing cars and dating much older men, but it was fun imagining her doing it nonetheless.

Craziness just seemed to follow Samantha Bee, from the numerous men who flashed her to her experience working in an erectile dysfunction clinic to her cat Newton who tried to rape her head. She also attracted crazy, since she fell in love and married fellow comedian Jason Jones, also from "The Daily Show," after they starred together in a live-action production of "Sailor Moon." The idea that she met "The One" wearing a Japanese schoolgirl superhero costume is hilariously adorable.

Now married since 2001 with three children only four years apart, Bee and her husband balance work and family with a twisted sense of humor. I wish that she would have discussed her experiences with Jon Stewart and the rest of the "The Daily Show" cast, but alas not a peep! Hopefully, she can write a sequel of juicy career tidbits soon!

Bee's dirtier than Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling, but not nearly as offensive as Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman. Her awkward, unpopular personality also reminded me of Jenny Lawson, so to sum up all the female comedic memoirs I've listened to so far, here's a list from good to greatest:

So it turns out that nobody has been able to top Tina Fey, since Bossypants continues to be the funniest book that I have ever read. But we've got a great contender coming soon: Amy Poehler's Yes, Please, which will be released on October 28. I can't wait!

Audiobook Review: The Bedwetter

Rating: 3 out of 5

As it was pointed out to me recently, I'm suffering from a so-called "First World Problem:" I'm running out of female comedians with audiobooks to listen to! After Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Chelsea Handler, I gave Sarah Silverman a shot with her 2010 memoir The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee.

I knew that Silverman was a vulgar comic from watching her roasts and viral videos like "I'm F***ing Matt Damon," but I knew nothing about her personal journey.

So it was interesting to learn that she suffered from chronic depression, anxiety, and bedwetting until she was 16 years old. Because of her mental illnesses, she has even chosen to not pass down her genes and reproduce.

The book definitely gave me a newfound respect for Silverman. I empathized with her stories of childhood bullying, and shared in her success in capitalizing on feeling like an outsider. Let's just say I hope that there are loads of people kicking themselves for mistreating this dark-haired Jewish girl turned celebrity!

Silverman has a knack for turning dark moments into comedic gold. She manages to make tough subjects like race and religion hilarious, as you can see in these gems:

“Some people need Hell. If you’re the type of guy who sees a hooker in an alleyway and instinctively thinks, “Hey, now there’s something I could rape and kill without any consequences,” then the concept of Hell might really keep you out of trouble.”

“I'm sympathetic to the nuns' violent impulses. I mean, if I'd given up sex to devote myself to a man who I had to just trust loved me, despite never being physically around to prove it, I'd probably be smacking little children too.”

Is The Bedwetter on the same level as Bossypants? Not by a long shot, but it is funny. The main downside I had with the book was its structure. The first half was fine, with linear chapters chronicling life from before she was born to her dropping out after one year in college to focus on stand-up.

However, after her 'mid-word,' it's apparent that editing got a bit lax. The chapters jumped around from her various PR scandals over her many controversial jokes to her thoughts on her Jewish identity. She wrapped it up well in the afterword (written tongue-in-cheek from the perspective of God after Silverman's future death), but I just wish that the second half had a better flow.

And like Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman is an acquired taste. Not everyone will enjoy her profanity and crudeness, but I hope that people can recognize the importance of free speech in comedy. You may not like her graphic descriptions of female sexuality, but I'm glad that she fights for equal opportunity vulgarity. Female comedians are constantly criticized for not acting 'ladylike,' and I applaud Silverman for refusing to silence her voice and follow traditional gender roles.

So while I would recommend The Bedwetter and was happy that Silverman narrated the audiobook, perhaps the narrative might make better sense in print. As for my next audio pick, I'm leaning toward I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee from the "The Daily Show."

Audiobook Review: My Horizontal Life

Rating: 4 out of 5

After listening to Jenny Lawson's hilarious Let's Pretend This Never Happened, I wanted to keep up the laughs. Each audiobook that I've purchased since I started spicing up my road trips has been written by a female comedian, so of course I had to follow this new tradition of mine.

This time I returned to a familiar author, Chelsea Handler. I enjoyed Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea (2007), and I knew it was only a matter of time before I picked up My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands (2005).

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My Horizontal Life was Handler's first memoir, published when she was 30 years old. As the title suggests, it's a compilation of her craziest trysts during her teens and 20s. Her partners include a Vegas stripper and a little person working as a waiter in a cantina.

She also shares stories about her relatives: her German mother, Jewish father, Mormon sister, and four other older siblings. As the baby of her eclectic, opinionated family, it's no surprise that she had a dubious dating life--if only to gain some much-needed attention.

I think that the book's subject matter is self-explanatory, but I'll mention this anyway: Chelsea Handler is not for the faint of heart. She's crude, outrageous, and often politically incorrect. Her stories involve heavy drinking and drug use, which are often catalysts to her sexual escapades.

She can also be extremely self-absorbed and hedonistic. Her lovers are usually chosen on good looks alone, and are tossed aside quickly when they don't meet her superficial standards.

But you know what? Who cares! These anecdotes would never have formed if she had stuck to the straight and narrow, and I applaud her for turning her rendezvous into a successful career in comedy.

I have to laugh at all the prudish pearl-clutchers who reviewed this book poorly. What did they expect? It's not like they intended to buy a book written by the Duggar family, and this one jumped into their tote bag by mistake. Puh-lease.

So yes, if you bought a book about one-night stands and then got upset because it was too vulgar, then you're as naive as Chelsea's old roommate "Dumb Dumb."

I'm not saying that Handler is the most feminist or sex-positive person, but I respect her for living it up in her youth and not settling down with a husband and kids just because everyone else thinks that's what you should do. As long as everything's safe and consensual, it doesn't matter who or how many.

You do you, Chelsea. Grab another Ketel One and keep on having a blast!

Audiobook Review: Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Rating: 4 out of 5

I know that I'm totally late for the bandwagon, but better late than never, right?

Two years ago I listened to memoirs narrated by three female comedians: Bossypants by Tina Fey, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling, and Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler.

Aghast at the realization that 2013 was void of road-trip hysterics, I purchased Let's Pretend This Never Happened, narrated by Jenny Lawson herself, a.k.a The Bloggess. Lawson is famous for her wacky ramblings, and her "mostly true memoir" highlights her most hilarious stories.

I admit that I knew nothing about Lawson when I started this book--only that its cover of a mouse dressed up as Hamlet had intrigued me since its publication. I learned that she was raised in rural Wall, Texas. Her father was a taxidermist with a penchant for traumatizing Jenny and her sister with dead animals (hence the cover).

She takes all the insanity in her life with stride, however, as well as a kick-ass sense of humor:

“I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have a childhood that was not like mine. I have no real frame of reference, but when I question strangers I've found that their childhood generally had much less blood in it, and also that strangers seem uncomfortable when you question them about their childhood. But really, what else are you going to talk about in line at the liquor store? Childhood trauma seems like the natural choice, since it's the reason why most of us are in line there to begin with.”

To get a sense of what kind of book this is, here's a small sampling of topics: cow vaginas, vampire cougars, cat rapists, and a big metal chicken named Beyonce. Lawson's tales seem so far-fetched, she admits that many of her closest friends can't tell fact from fiction.

But what is true is the sadness that often takes root in her stories. Lawson suffers from depression, anxiety, OCD, and rheumatoid arthritis. She also experienced multiple miscarriages before the birth of her daughter Hailey.

“In short? It is exhausting being me. Pretending to be normal is draining and requires amazing amounts of energy and Xanax.”

I applaud Lawson for being so forthcoming about her mental illnesses, and for finding the slapstick silver lining. She managed to make a successful career out of her craziness, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Any blogger would kill to have Lawson's self-deprecating style and witty way with words. I hope she knows that after a lifetime of dreading social situations, she's now the cool girl on campus with many fans, who after reading her writing, would love to be her friends.

So whether life's getting you down or you just want to hear some kooky stories, I highly recommend Let's Pretend This Never Happened. You will literally LOL, I promise!

“Because you are defined not by life's imperfect moments, but by your reaction to them. And because there is joy in embracing - rather than running from - the utter absurdity of life.”

Audiobook Review: Jinx

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Rating: 2 out of 5

If you've been reading Book Club Babe, you already know that I'm a devoted Meg Cabot fan. I may have a whole shelf of her work, but this was the first time that I bought one of her books in audio.

I'm still waiting for Awaken, Cabot's sequel to Underworld, which will be released this July. So I decided to check out Jinx (2007), one of her few stand-alone novels. Unfortunately, it was aptly named, but it was one big ball of bad luck.

Jinx is titled after the protagonist Jean Honeychurch's nickname. Terrible things seem to keep happening to this 16-year-old, so she runs away from her home in rural Iowa to live with her aunt, uncle, and three cousins in New York City.

One of those cousins, Tory, immediately becomes Jean's rival when Jean catches the eye of her crush, Zack. But what happens when this competition between cousins takes a paranormal turn for the worse?

I could go into more detail, and honestly, I wouldn't spoil much. What's the point of keeping part of the plot a secret for the whole first third of the novel, if you already know about it from reading the summary? Talk about anti-climactic!

I also already knew that Cabot has a tendency to be melodramatic, but I figured what should I expect when she's writing about teenagers? Well, even young adult fiction has to have standards.

I kept getting horrible vibes a la Fifty Shades of Grey: whether it's E.L. James droning on about her "inner goddess" or Meg Cabot harping about "the knot in my stomach," authors need to tone down the obnoxious metaphors!

You know why the green light is such a powerful symbol in The Great Gatsby? Because Fitzgerald doesn't talk about it every five sentences! I understand that Jean is a nervous outcast, but I wanted to drive into oncoming traffic every time she described her stomach knot. I get it, you're scared! Stop wasting my time with over-used clichés and move on!

I empathized most with Zack, who seemed completely fed up with all this petty cat-fighting. Although cat-fighting might be inaccurate, since Jean is the typical girl oblivious that her love is actually not unrequited after all. Yawn.

Maybe I'm just too old for high school drama. It's easy to tell a fictional character to snap out of it and get some confidence, but I know that it's easier said than done in real life. I wish that I could go back and tell my 16-year-old self to stop worrying what the "popular" kids think about you, because those bullies weren't worth the brain space anyway.

I'm just going to chalk Jinx up to being an older novel that's not representative of Cabot's level of work. I'm also skeptical of trying audio versions of her books in the future, since I may be more accepting of teenage immaturity in print. Hopefully, Awaken will redeem my previously high opinion of this queen of teen fiction! Fingers crossed!

Audiobook Review: Secrets of a Shoe Addict

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Rating: 4 out of 5

Secrets of a Shoe Addict is Beth Harbison's 2008 sequel to Shoe Addicts AnonymousWhile Sandra and her friends began the series with a meetup group for female shopaholics, it's Sandra's sister Tiffany's turn to get a group of women out of financial trouble.

During a chaotic PTA trip to Vegas, Tiffany accidentally purchases thousands of dollars worth of clothes, while her friends run into money mayhem of their own--Loreen by inadvertently hiring a male prostitute and Abbey by being blackmailed by an ex-boyfriend fresh out of prison.

For those who read Shoe Addicts Anonymous, their solution is unsurprising: Sandra reveals that her previous job as a sex operator was a great way to earn cash fast, so the women decide to create an adult phone service called "Happy Housewives" to get them out of debt.

This book was an excellent sequel; it was funny, outlandish, and not shy at all regarding the dirty talk. As I've said before, I only wish there were multiple readers on an audiobook, as if it were a theater production, so the dialogue feels more natural.

However, what Harbison does well in chick-lit is writing characters for every possible stage in a person's life. Single, married, separated--she covers it all with finesse. She also balances the realistic with the escapist nicely. Even if you've never gone on a date with a puppeteer or hired an escort, you'll have a blast hearing about these characters who do.

My only complaint would be the pacing, since once the conflict felt resolved, it took quite a while for the ends to get tied up. It took me over eight hours to finish the 26 chapters of this audiobook, and although the majority of it was entertaining, I felt the last few chapters were anticlimactic.

I know that most of you don't read chick-lit, but if you ever want to step outside your comfort zone, Harbison's a good author to try. Secrets of a Shoe Addict was a fun story of female friendship, and as an audiobook, a great way to pass the time--whether you're battling morning rush hour, cooking dinner, or relaxing in bed. Perfect for sneaking more books into your busy schedule!

Audiobook Review: Something About You

Rating: 4 out of 5

With all the traveling that I've been doing the past few weeks, I've been able to finish another audiobook. This one was called Something About You by Julie James. I've read James before, so I had no doubts that this would be a fun read.

The novel features the relationship between Cameron Lynde, an Assistant U.S. Attorney from Chicago, and Jack Pallas, an FBI agent. The two met under tense circumstances, when Cameron was pressured to not press charges against a crime lord which Jack tried to take down.

Three years later, fate brings them together when Cameron witnesses a murder and Jack is assigned to the homicide case. Their icy dislike for one another soon melts into some electric sexual tension, especially when Cameron's life is at risk and Jack becomes her personal security.

James has a background in law and lives in Chicago, so all the legalese felt natural. With four other novels under her belt, she's quickly becoming a bestselling name in the world of romance. I also enjoyed Just the Sexiest Man Alive and Practice Makes Perfect, and her two other titles in her FBI/U.S. Attorney series on currently on my to-read list.

It was my first time listening to a romance novel, which was entirely different compared to the humorous memoirs of Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Chelsea Handler that I listened to earlier this year. Something About You is pretty steamy, so hearing the love scenes out loud amplified the experience.

A bad narrator can completely ruin an audiobook, but luckily Karen White did an excellent job given the circumstances. Although I would prefer a man to read male characters so that the dialogue sounds more realistic, I was engrossed nonetheless. Let's just say on one road trip I missed my exit because I was so engaged with the story.

So whether you're an amateur or veteran when it comes to romance novels, try listening to an audiobook version of one. The genre's already great for escapism, and Something About You is a fun, sexy read to get sucked into. Just make sure that if you're listening to it in your car, pay attention to the road!

Audiobook Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ever since I listened to Tina Fey's Bossypants, I loved how audiobooks made my commute more enjoyable. Only interested in light-hearted books that require little concentration (because how hard would it be to pay attention to Moby Dick while avoiding crazy text-and-drivers?), I decided that Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) would make a good follow-up.

Mindy Kaling became famous for playing Kelly Kapoor on the American version of "The Office." Her character is so obnoxiously shallow and narcissistic, but Mindy is actually someone most women could relate to. She's a 30-something size-8 who likes gossip, guys with chest hair, and sneaking out of parties. I loved learning all the quirky tidbits about her, like how she creates revenge fantasies for her workouts, or how she hates the color navy.

Mindy talks about her childhood friends, her jobs leading up to "The Office," and how she handles fame. She dishes on her co-stars Steve Carell and Rainn Wilson. Even her friends BJ Novak, Mike Schur, and Brenda Withers provide the other various voices on the audiobook.

Bossypants literally made me laugh out loud, but Is Everyone... still got me to chuckle every now and then. Even though Mindy's not as funny as Tina in my opinion, I think younger readers will appreciate Mindy's struggle to date men not boys, over Tina's frustrations with the mommy wars. But if you're a fan of female comedians, you'll probably love both of them.

So got any more great audiobooks ideas? Only requirements: must be read by the author and offer lots of laughs!

Favorite Quote: “Teenage girls, please don’t worry about being super popular in high school, or being the best actress in high school, or the best athlete. Not only do people not care about any of that the second you graduate, but when you get older, if you reference your successes in high school too much, it actually makes you look kind of pitiful, like some babbling old Tennessee Williams character with nothing else going on in her current life. What I’ve noticed is that almost no one who was a big star in high school is also big star later in life. For us overlooked kids, it’s so wonderfully fair.”