Category Archives: funny

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

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One Last Stop
is a romantic comedy set in the modern world with magic elements and time travel. It centers around August, a cynical college student who moves to NYC and falls in love with a girl on the train, only she ends up finding out that the girl Jane is actually displaced in time from the 1970s. It has well-written LGBTQ+ and BIPOC characters and beautiful friendships and romantic relationships, as well as an extremely interesting plot.

Availability: COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by:  Esther Markov
Rating:  Must Read

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

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This book is a memoir about Doughty’s beginnings working in a crematory in Oakland, California, fresh out of college and full of morbid curiosity. The author does an excellent job of demystifying the death industry and what happens when we die in today’s society. The book is funny, candid and occasionally does not pull back on the details so it may not be for people who are more squeamish. In the audiobook version, Doughty herself narrates which makes the book feel more personal.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jo Hoppe
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge:
Audiobook

Bunny by Mona Awad

book coverAfter reading Jamie’s review I was intrigued enough to pick up this book. I agree it was a wild read and I also ate it up in two days.

Not sure in the end what I think about it. It was super teenage drama-y, but as the story was told through the perspective of a 24 year old going on 16, I couldn’t decide if that was a an annoying weakness or a brilliantly executed character representation.

Not wanting to spoil anything for anyone else who gets Bunny-curious I’ll say this, that Mona and I seem to have consumed the same media. If you liked the following, whether as a guilty pleasure or sincerely, then I think you’ll enjoy the book: Buffy, Gilmore Girls, Twilight, Vampire Diaries, Kill Bill, Death Proof, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Evil Dead. I can find traces of all of these in the book, which again could be genius, as I could see the main character also enjoying them. I think there might even have been a reference to Evil Dead.

For those who enjoy this book, I recommend the movies Anna and the Apocalypse and Freaky.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Emily Nelson Ringholm ’07
Rating: Recommended
Challenge: Book with a one word title

Bunny by Mona Awad

book coverI just finished reading Bunny by Mona Awad and I can’t even begin describing it, let alone summarizing it. This was one of the weirdest books I have ever read and I absolutely loved every second of it. I devoured it in two days. The writing is incredibly visual and Awad places the reader into the body of the main character, Samantha, through her descriptions. For a majority of the book, you, as the reader, are just as disoriented as Samantha. This book is a rollercoaster and if you just go with it, it’s so rewarding. I will admit that this book is not for everyone. Honestly, it probably has a fairly niche audience. However, if you are into the weird, and the slightly macabre and horror-comedy, then I highly recommend this book to you.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jamie Ourand
Rating: Recommended (Highly recommended if you are into horror-comedy)

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

book cover“If you don’t laugh you’ll cry” I found myself thinking with each turn of the page of You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism. These first person accounts of racism – stories that took place over the course of a woman’s life – bring to light the everyday racism people of color encounter from the overtly hostile to the laughably ignorant. Some of the stories I read and thought “yes, I can believe that happened” while others blew me away and left me thinking “I can’t believe that happened”. I think that was the author’s intent – to alert even racism-aware readers of the extent to which POC encounter these incidents on a day to day basis, as well as validate those people who have experienced similar incidents.

The book is written in a humorous fashion but don’t think that dilutes its message. It does not pull any punches when it comes to the actual stories. It is a good read for those wishing to understand more fully the extent of racism in this country. For those who do not believe racism exists, this might be a good book to introduce the subject. It is factual but not accusatory, humorous without being silly. A good conversation starter for those who need to be brought into the conversation.

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Stephanie Marsich
Rating:  Must Read
Challenge: Published in 2021

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

book coverYou’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism was a fast but difficult read. I kinda go into a downward spiral every time I think about it. I mean the US has a huge problem, but this isn’t just a US problem. Racist parties and leaders are getting voted in left and right the world over. Hungary just revoked the human rights they’d given LGBT people. I’ve heard more stories about Alexei Navalny’s health during imprisonment than Aung San Suu Kyi’s. There’s vaccine nationalism left and right and us-first politics when we all know that if we don’t stop the pandemic everywhere then it ends nowhere.

Throughout the book Amber and Lacey reassure the reader that they’re okay, they have happy lives. I’m glad they do but none of what they relate is okay and much of it is downright traumatizing. I knew that this kind of stuff went on, hell I was there when my husband got “randomly” checked five (!) times at O’Hare airport during our layover, causing us to miss our flight to DC. He told me how he’d had to stand in line with the other people of color and listen to TSA make racist jokes while waiting for all the “random” checks to be completed. I was there when they finally “randomly” checked his luggage before we got on another flight but not mine, despite the fact we were traveling together. But man I am still so naive as to how ubiquitous this is.

Read this or a similar book and do better.

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Emily Nelson Ringholm, ’07
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: Published in 2201

Brewed Awakening by Cleo Coyle

book coverHonest–I tried really hard to read another author after my last review, but I belatedly remembered that I don’t like Alex Cross murder mysteries and quit reading the paperback I had. Meanwhile, Brewed Awakening had come from my library request, so here’s a back-to-back Village Blend review! My punishment for this crime against Summer Reading apparently is to have suffered through easily the worst book in this usually-enjoyable series. I won’t give away the whole plot line, but the main character has amnesia and the readers have to suffer through her childish, immature handling of her memory loss. I can’t say things improve at the end (well, until it’s over on the last page), but it wasn’t bad enough to turn me off this author.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating: Recommended

Dead Cold Brew by Cleo Coyle

book coverI love a good cozy and this series is a fun, lively read. (The recipes at the end are a real bonus, too!) I fell behind in keeping up with Clare, so it was fun to enjoy this polite, Violent Lite murder mystery. If you don’t know the Coffeehouse Mysteries, I encourage you to start at the beginning and follow along!

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating: Highly Recommended

Death of a Celebrity by M. C. Beaton

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Ah, to be in the Scottish Highlands, where sheep and murder mingle with the homey characters who inhabit the lochs! This was a delightful read, with a great ending. The main character might irk you with his stubborn Scottish ways, but you’ll smile at the end of the book and wonder what becomes of him in future novels…

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating: Highly Recommended

Deck the Halls by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark

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I deliberately read this book, set around Christmas, to try to cool my brains as I walk in the summer heat. As usual, the authors (singly or combined) give an enjoyable, if simple, read. No twisted plot to follow, but characters that are modestly interesting (if a bit over-stereotyped).

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating: Recommended

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

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No beach for a “beach reads” book this virus-challenged summer, but this is my annual submission for groan-worthy writing featuring the popular series with Stephanie Plum. Madness, mayhem, and stupid characters–what more could you expect?

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating: Recommended
Challenge: A book with a number in the title

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

This book centers around the mind of Lionel Essrog, an orphan raised amongst other orphan boys in St. Vincent’s Home in Brooklyn, NY. Lionel also has Tourette’s syndrome, thus frequently becoming the target of harassment and bullying by his peers. As a child, he busied himself by reading books day to night in the local library. Until one day a man named Frank Minna comes to gather a handful of kids from the orphan’s home. On this day, Lionel, along with three other boys, begin their journey working for Frank as movers for his “delivery business.”

(Please note this is NOT a major spoiler, but takes place early in the book): Time passes and the boys have continued working for Frank for a few years now. The boys are helping Frank with one of his “jobs” and something goes wrong. Frank gets stabbed and the boys have to rush him to the hospital. Frank meets his maker, while the group of boys who looked up to him as their sole dependable leader have to figure out how to survive without him. The murder drives Lionel into a craze of obsession; he cannot move on with his own life until he figures out the truth behind who killed Frank, and what his “business” was really all about behind the scenes.

This detective novel blends mystery, humor, and poetic prose in a seamless way. This is the kind of book you can breeze through, laughing every couple of pages, but also feeling moved by the way the protagonist Lionel has a way with words. I can’t speak to the accuracy of Tourette’s being portrayed in this novel. However, the way the story blends Lionel’s syndrome with his relationship to words and storytelling had a profound effect on me as a reader. I recommend this book to anyone looking for an easy but captivating read.

I also know the book has been turned into a film, however, I haven’t seen it so I cannot speak to the similarity of the two.

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by:  Reilly Cook, class of 2019
Rating:  Recommended
Challenge: Book to Film