MIDNIGHT CONFESSIONS by Stephen Colbert

September 5, 2017

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Co-authored with The Staff of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert

I am a long time Stephen Colbert fan, although I must admit up front that “Midnight Confessions,” the segment on the Late Show, is not my favorite bit. So I was somewhat surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, and how funny it is.

You would think if I didn’t like the segments much, I would really dislike a whole book of them but the reverse happened. Maybe because these are the best of these bits? I don’t know, but I read it rather quickly and was laughing out loud through most of it. I couldn’t resist sharing bits of it with my family, either. And I loved that they included tweets from fans with their own confessions! My personal favorite from @pjerickson, “Sometimes I make up words in order to sound more aproserial.”

Stephen Colbert has taken the show on a decidedly political/anti-Trump journey but this book does not reflect that. It is pretty much politics free, so would make a great gift for anyone, Democrat or Republican. (Maybe not strict Catholics who might find the whole confessions idea blasphemous, but what do I know.)

It’s still a bit early for holiday shopping but keep this book on your gift list. It’s a really pretty hardcover, with a padded cover and a non-book-like shape that would look pretty on a coffee table. And if you need a break from all the bad news in the world, do yourself a favor and buy this book. You’ll be glad you did.

A few favorites:

They say there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s, but I’m thinking a whole bag while you’re idling in the driveway is close.

I think women look great in stiletto heels, but if I were a woman and a man asked me to wear them, I would murder him with my shoes.

I’m a man in his fifties who eats like a man in his twenties who doesn’t plan to make it to his thirties.

A librarian pet peeve that I can get behind:

I have violent thoughts when people use the terms “sci-fi” and “fantasy” interchangeably.

“Oh, I love science fiction. I just read Lord of the Rings.”

I will end you.

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MIDNIGHT CONFESSIONS by Stephen Colbert. Doubleday (July 11, 2017).  ISBN 978-0385541800. 304p.

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A CHILD’S FIRST BOOK OF TRUMP by Michael Ian Black

June 30, 2017

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Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal

Not sure how I missed this when it came out last year, but I found it now. Put out by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, it is much more parody than children’s book. I thought I might enjoy a little political levity while stressing out about politics but I am too far gone for this book to reach me.

WARNING: if you are a fan of the “dotty old racist”* in the White House, then this is not the book for you.

*Thank you, Jon Lovett, for this. Listen to “Lovett or Leave It, a week in review recorded in front of a live audience. It’s great,” a podcast from Crooked Media.

From the publisher:

What do you do when you spot a wild Trump in the election season? New York Times bestselling author and comedian Michael Ian Black has some sage advice for children (and all the rest of us who are scratching our heads in disbelief) in this perfectly timely parody picture book intended for adults that would be hysterical if it wasn’t so true.

The beasty is called an American Trump.
Its skin is bright orange, its figure is plump.
Its fur so complex you might get enveloped.
Its hands though are, sadly, underdeveloped. 

The Trump is a curious creature, very often spotted in the wild, but confounding to our youngest citizens. A business mogul, reality TV host, and now…political candidate? Kids (and let’s be honest many adults) might have difficulty discerning just what this thing that’s been dominating news coverage this election cycle is. Could he actually be real? Are those…words coming out of his mouth? Why are his hands so tiny? And perhaps most importantly, what on earth do you do when you encounter an American Trump?

With his signature wit and a classic picture book style, comedian Michael Ian Black introduces those unfamiliar with the Americus Trumpus to his distinguishing features and his mystifying campaign for world domination…sorry…President of the United States.

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6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A CHILD’S FIRST BOOK OF TRUMP by Michael Ian Black. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (July 5, 2016). ISBN 978-1481488006. 32p.

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THEFT BY FINDING by David Sedaris

June 13, 2017

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Diaries (1977-2002)

A few years ago, David Sedaris was the closing speaker at the Public Library Association Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was lucky enough to attend, and got to briefly meet one of my favorite authors. But even better than just shaking his hand was listening to him speak. He is one of a very few authors that when they go on book tour, you have to purchase tickets to see him and let me tell you, totally worth it!

He read a bit from his book that was out then, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, which I had read and enjoyed. He spoke for a bit but then the rest of his talk, at least what I recall, was him reading from his diaries. He had a few thousand librarians laughing so hard they were crying, and I was one of them.

So when I heard this book was coming out, I was overjoyed. And this is only part 1.

Sedaris is a prodigious journaler. He has been keeping journals for most of his life and when I say keeping them, I mean not just writing but storing them so he has plenty to draw from. In fact, maybe too many. He has over 150 diaries, filled on both sides of the page with his tiny writing. He had to go through all of them to hone it down to these books. And, I’m sorry to say, some things get lost along the way.

If you’re a long time fan you won’t miss the stuff that’s missing because you’ve probably heard it before. If you are new to Sedaris, you may want to start elsewhere. Holidays on Ice is a particular favorite of mine (especially with the Santa cover if you can find it.) I especially love his audio books and if you can afford it, get the The Ultimate David Sedaris Box Set. Many an airline ride has pleasantly passed quickly listening to him read his own work.

Sedaris is an observer of life. He spent his early adulthood wandering the country, working odd jobs and dining at an IHOP nightly. He meets a lot of quirky people along the way and it is these observations, usually completely on the mark, that are the hallmark of his humor. Pay close attention or the punchlines will go rushing past you – I had to stop several times and reread a line or two. Push on through early adulthood to read about his first stint on NPR talking about being a Macy’s elf at Christmas (which is replayed annually) some jokes, recipes, and lots more. A sure bet for fans.

6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THEFT BY FINDING by David Sedaris. Little, Brown and Company (May 30, 2017). ISBN 978-0316154727. 528p.

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REVOLUTION FOR DUMMIES by Bassem Youssef

April 10, 2017

Laughing through the Arab Spring

If a book has a blurb from Jon Stewart , and the author is known as the “The Jon Stewart of the Arabic World” I have no choice but to read the book. So I did.

I first learned about Bassem Youssef while watching Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. And I was intrigued. A few weeks later, I stumbled across the book at my library and grabbed it.

I like learning about different cultures, and I don’t know a whole lot about Egypt. I did have a co-worker from Egypt (who has since been promoted and moved to another branch of the library) and we talked on occasion about her family and her life in Egypt and here, so I have some understanding, at least of how her family lives. But she is no revolutionary, and Youssef is. So I was happy to read a very interesting point of view from a very funny Egyptian voice.

While I appreciate his humor, the Egyptian government did not. He was threatened and arrested but eventually fled Egypt and landed in California. Youssef is not just a comedian; his first career was as a heart surgeon. Besides not knowing much about life in Egypt, I know even less about their politics. Comedy is not especially welcome by an oppressive regime, and that was not a surprise. But Youssef’s life has been extraordinary so far, brutal at times, sad for sure, but his writing style, his satire, is laugh out loud funny.

 

From the publisher:

“Hilarious and Heartbreaking. Comedy shouldn’t take courage, but it made an exception for Bassem.” –Jon Stewart

“The Jon Stewart of the Arabic World”—the creator of The Program, the most popular television show in Egypt’s history—chronicles his transformation from heart surgeon to political satirist, and offers crucial insight into the Arab Spring, the Egyptian Revolution, and the turmoil roiling the modern Middle East, all of which inspired the documentary about his life, Tickling Giants.

Bassem Youssef’s incendiary satirical news program, Al-Bernameg (The Program), chronicled the events of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, and the rise of Mubarak’s successor, Mohamed Morsi. Youssef not only captured his nation’s dissent but stamped it with his own brand of humorous political criticism, in which the Egyptian government became the prime laughing stock.

So potent were Youssef’s skits, jokes, and commentary, the authoritarian government accused him of insulting the Egyptian presidency and Islam. After a six-hour long police interrogation, Youssef was released. While his case was eventually dismissed, his television show was terminated, and Youssef, fearful for his safety, fled his homeland.

In Revolution for Dummies, Youssef recounts his life and offers hysterical riffs on the hypocrisy, instability, and corruption that has long animated Egyptian politics. From the attempted cover-up of the violent clashes in Tahrir Square to the government’s announcement that it had created the world’s first “AIDS cure” machine, to the conviction of officials that Youssef was a CIA operative—recruited by Jon Stewart—to bring down the country through sarcasm. There’s much more—and it’s all insanely true.

Interweaving the dramatic and inspiring stories of the development of his popular television show and his rise as the most contentious funny-man in Egypt, Youssef’s humorous, fast-paced takes on dictatorship, revolution, and the unforeseeable destiny of democracy in the Modern Middle East offers much needed hope and more than a few healing laughs. A documentary about his life, Tickling Giants, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and is now scheduled for major release.

Something to look forward to.

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

REVOLUTION FOR DUMMIES by Bassem Youssef. Dey Street Books (March 21, 2017). ISBN 978-0062446893. 304p.


FOR THIS WE LEFT EGYPT? by Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel & Adam Mansbach

March 23, 2017

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A Passover Haggadah for Jews and Those Who Love Them

My parents are gone, my children are adults and aren’t always home for the holiday, and we usually end up celebrating with friends. So I like to switch things up with new and different haggadahs, and there are many beyond the Maxwell House Coffee* Haggadah that I grew up on – and fell asleep during the long, long readings. (*free at many supermarkets for years.)

A few years ago I got the NEW AMERICAN HAGGADAH: A New Translation by Nathan Englander, edited by Jonathan Safran Foer. It is beautiful and different. There is a timeline created by Mia Sara Bruch and commentaries by Nathaniel Deutsch, Jeffrey Goldberg, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein and Lemony Snicket (really!) This is a beautiful book with gorgeous calligraphy and subtle contemporary artwork. This book is a thought provoking translation that, at least for my guests, inspired conversation and discussion of many things, from the actual Seder to contemporary politics.

But this year I am really mixing things up with this new Haggadah written by one of the funniest gentiles on the planet (Barry) and two of his Jewish and funny friends. It is laugh out loud funny and I love the illustrations, too, looking very much like 1960’s children’s book illustrations.

If you’re ready for a change and want to laugh instead of sleep through your seder, order as many copies as you need today from Amazon and you’ll have them in plenty of time for Passover. The first night is Monday, April 10th.

From the publisher:

The book you hold before you is no ordinary Haggadah. If you’ve ever suffered through a Seder, you’re well aware of the fact that the entire evening can last as long as the exodus from Egypt itself. There are countless stories, dozens of blessings, and far too many handwashings while the meal turns cold. Now prepare to be entertained by another version of the book that’s responsible for this interminable tradition.

With this hilarious parody Haggadah from the comedic minds of Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel, and Adam Mansbach, good Jews everywhere will no longer have to sit (and sleep) through a lengthy and boring Seder. In For This We Left Egypt?, the authors will be take you through every step of the Seder, from getting rid of all the chametz in your home by setting it on fire with a kosher blowtorch to a retelling of the Passover story starring Pharaoh Schmuck and a burning bush that sounds kind of like Morgan Freeman, set against the backdrop of the Promised Land―which turned out not to be a land of milk and honey but rather one of rocks and venomous scorpions the size of Yorkshire terriers. You then eat a celebratory brisket and wrap up the whole evening by taking at least forty-five minutes to say good-bye to everyone.

So gather all the Jews in your life (even the few who don’t appear to be long-suffering) and settle in for a fun way to pass the time while waiting for Elijah to show up.

I can’t wait.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FOR THIS WE LEFT EGYPT? by Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel & Adam Mansbach. Flatiron Books (March 7, 2017). ISBN 978-1250110213. 144p.


TURBO TWENTY-THREE by Janet Evanovich

December 10, 2016
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Stephanie Plum Series, Book 23

 

I still enjoy this series, but I was a bit disappointed in this latest entry. I thought last year’s Tricky Twenty-Two was the best book in years, so I was hopeful for this one. While Evanovich kept the shorter length which worked well in 22, this one felt longer. Really long.

It starts off silly, which we have come to expect and enjoy. Stephanie is out to pick up her latest bounty runner but he takes off in an ice cream truck. She causes it to stop, the subject takes off and a dead guy falls out of the back of the truck. Not just dead – frozen, dipped in chocolate and covered in nuts. A dead Bogart Bar, as it were.

Lula is back of course, and she’s hatched a plot with Randy Briggs. The two of them are creating demo tapes to submit to Naked & Afraid, the Trenton edition, with varying results. Meanwhile Ranger offers Stephanie a chance to earn extra money. She goes undercover at the ice cream factory to try and figure out what’s going on. But all she finds is another frozen body and she’s not happy about it.

Stephanie and Joe are still together, and she’s constantly tempted by Ranger as well. Her mother is ironing like mad, Grandma Mazur has a boyfriend, and all sorts of hijinx ensue.

I found the first half really slow moving but it picked up after that. The usual jokes, exploding cars and so forth abound and fans will enjoy.

12/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TURBO TWENTY-THREE by Janet Evanovich. Bantam; First Edition edition (November 15, 2016).  ISBN 978-0345543004. 304p.

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CURIOUS MINDS by Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton

August 17, 2016
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Knight and Moon Series, Book 1

In the first entry of the Knight and Moon series, Evanovich and Sutton have teamed up again (Wicked Charms) to introduce the eponymous Emerson Knight and Riley Moon. Moon is a Harvard MBA with her first job as an analyst for Blane-Grunwald, a large, privately held bank, and Knight is their largest depositor; young, good looking and a bit of an eccentric.

When Knight demands to see his gold deposits, Moon is dispatched to placate him at his home, Mysterioso Manor, which boasts wild animals roaming freely and a classic car collection. The two of them fall into an adventure looking for the missing Grunwald partner that gets significantly more dangerous as they stumble onto an evil plot to steal the world’s gold.

The humor occasionally borders on silly, but the one liners fly as fast and furious as the pages do in this auspicious start to the new series. Evanovich fans will find this series closer in style to the Stephanie Plum series rather than the slightly more sophisticated Fox & O’Hare series.

Copyright ©2016 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

8/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CURIOUS MINDS by Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton. Bantam (August 16, 2016).  ISBN 978-0553392685. 336p.

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THE ART OF MURDER by Elaine Viets

June 4, 2016
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Dead-End Job Mystery (Book 14)

The Bonnet House is a lovely old house that has been turned into a museum and gardens. This Fort Lauderdale landmark  is where Viets has set her latest Dead End Job mystery.

I was aware of the hot Miami art scene, but did not know that Fort Lauderdale also has its share of artists and galleries. In this book, a young woman is taking an art class at the Bonnet House, and collapses in the parking lot surrounded by witnesses. She is dead by nicotine poison – Viets is nothing if not cutting edge here – vape liquid is the murder weapon. There are plenty of suspects and a friend of the victim hires Helen Hawthorne to find the killer. Well, she really wants Helen to prove that the victim’s ex-husband is the murderer, but Helen is keeping an open mind, especially after she finds out the current husband has taken out a large life insurance policy on his wife.

Meanwhile, a small enclave of expensive condos known as “Little New York” is having a raft of burglaries of gold coins. When an elderly man is killed during a robbery, the security team steps up and hires Coronado Investigations to find the robber.

There are lots of red herrings and a lot of fun along the way to Helen and her hot hubby solving these mysteries. Another terrific read from one of my favorite authors.

6/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE ART OF MURDER by Elaine Viets. NAL Hardcover (May 6, 2014). ISBN 978-0451476135. 304p.


THE BOB’S BURGERS BURGER BOOK by Loren Bouchard & Cole Bowden

May 28, 2016
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REAL RECIPES FOR JOKE BURGERS

I imagine most of the folks watching Bob’s Burgers (like myself) imagine what Bob’s punny burger of the day creations would taste like in real life. But Cole Bowden took it one step further. He chronicled his burger experiments with the extremely fun Bob’s Burger Experiment blog, eventually catching the eye of the folks behind the show, leading to the creation and release of The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book.

As the title states, these are “real recipes for joke burgers.” And they are freaking tasty burgers.

Burgers run the gamut of toppings and combinations. There’s the “Texas Chainsaw Massa-curd Burger” (my own first try), which features a habanero-studded patty topped with cheese curds and a wickedly tasty homemade ginger ketchup. Young Bob’s “Baby You Can Chive My Car Burger” may have been criticized by his dad, but only before he tasted it. That spectacular creation is stuffed with feta cheese, topped with chives and a sour cream mustard mixture, and served up with spicy fried pickles. Even Bob’s guaranteed-to-win-awards creation, “Bet it All on Black Garlic Burger” is included.

Each recipe comes with mention of the episode and season where it originally appeared, an intro to the recipe, clear and concise prep/cooking instructions, and building instructions as well. Most also

New Baconings Burger

include illustrations too. So yeah, you probably should be a little bit of a Bob’s Burgers fan to REALLY enjoy the book. With grilling season truly upon us, though, I think EVERY burger fan should buy this one. Includes 75 recipes.

 

5/16 Becky LeJeune

THE BOB’S BURGERS BURGER BOOK by Loren Bouchard & Cole Bowden. Rizzoli (March 22, 2016).  ISBN: 9780789331144. 128p.

 


TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES by Denise Grover Swank

August 6, 2015
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Rose Gardner has been the dutiful daughter for twenty-four years despite her abusive momma. Rose is a charming character, incredibly naïve and sweet, but she finally snaps; she tells off her momma and creates a list of 28 wishes on the back of a Wal-Mart receipt that includes things like wear high heels, kiss a man, and get cable TV.

While working at the DMV, she has a vision about herself being murdered; turns out her momma is the one who gets murdered and Rose is the prime suspect. Her mysterious new neighbor, Joe, is incredibly helpful and adds a bit of romance.

There is a lot of humor in this book that borders on but never quite crosses over to silly, and the mystery here almost takes a backseat to Rose and her declaration of independence.

This is the first book in a new series, with the next two following in September and October, respectively. It is light, fluffy Southern fun and should appeal to Mary Kay Andrews and Charlaine Harris fans.

Copyright ©2015 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

8/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES by Denise Grover Swank.  Crooked Lane Books (August 11, 2015).  ISBN 978-1629532196. 288p.