Category Archives: Humor

Review: George Bailey Gets Saved in the End by Ken O’Neill

Title: George Bailey Gets Saved in the End by Ken O’Neill
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Humor/Satire
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Same Holiday. Different George.

George Bailey, who has made a fortune selling Christmas ornaments, is having a rough few days. He’s thrown his back out lifting the Thanksgiving turkey; his father has died and his wife has left him. He’d turn to his best friend for support, but said BFF is having an affair with his wife.

Let the holiday season begin!

On the heels of all this misery George meets a new woman, and he also meets Jesus (or perhaps just an awfully nice guy named Jesus). As he scrambles to hold together his floundering family, he must figure out if these strange and wondrous events are miracles or symptoms of a nervous breakdown.

Review:

George Bailey Gets Saved in the End by Ken O’Neill is a humorous novel that is also poignant and surprisingly, uplifting.

After a series of life-altering events occur in fairly quick succession, George Bailey is forced out of complacency about his career and marriage. He works alongside his father, brother and to  some extent, his own children, in the family owned Christmas business. George has grown increasingly unhappy with his job but inertia and family expectations have left him unable to decide whether or not to leave his position.  Although not exactly happy in his 24 year marriage, he is content to stay with his childhood sweetheart, Tara.  As events continue to  snowball out of control, George has no choice but face his growing dissatisfaction with his life, but will he make better choices than he has in the past?

George is an endearing middle aged man who is content to maintain the status quo despite his increasing unhappiness.  He ignores problems until he has no choice but to face them and even then, he is hard-pressed to make decisions about how to fix them. With his life completely upended, George makes a few questionable choices but overall, he is making progress as he tries to figure out what will make him happy.  While he is definitely making progress in making positive changes in his life, he still has to force himself to explore his feelings and stop reacting passively to difficult situations.  Habits of a lifetime are difficult to break, but George makes considerable progress in affecting positive changes in every aspect of his life.

George Bailey Gets Saved in the End by Ken O’Neill is a charming holiday novel that is fast-paced and engaging.  The characters are multi-faceted with quirks that add to their overall appeal. An entertaining yet extremely heartwarming story of new beginnings that I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend.

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Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, George Bailey Gets Saved in the End, Humor, Ken O'Neill, Rated B+, Review, Satire

Review: How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You by Tara Eglington

Title: How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You by Tara Eglington
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin/Thomas Dunne
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Humor
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Sweet sixteen and never been kissed . . .

That’s Aurora Skye’s big secret. And the way she wants it to stay. She’s not going to give away her first kiss to just anyone. Busy dodging suitors and matchmaking for her best friends, Aurora (not so) patiently awaits her prince.

But everything changes when Aurora is coerced into a lead role in the school production of Much Ado about Nothing. Which means she’ll have to lock lips with her co-star Hayden Paris—the smart and funny boy next door who also happens to be the bane of her existence, always around to see her at her worst.

Now Aurora is more determined than ever to have her first kiss with the one who’s truly worthy of it. But first she’ll have to figure out just who that person is.

Romantic and funny, Tara Eglington’s How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You is a feel-good tale of finding love where you least expect it.

Review:

How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You by Tara Eglington is a cute, giggle-inducing young adult romance with a (mostly) fantastic cast of female characters.

With a fairy tale view of romance, Aurora Skye expends a lot of energy avoiding parceling out goodnight kisses to her dates.  With an arsenal of evasive maneuvers at her fingertips, she is waiting to bestow her first kiss on her “Prince” much to the amusement of her next door neighbor and personal nemesis Hayden Paris.  Despite never having been in a relationship, Aurora dispenses plenty of romance advice to her close circle of friends. Aurora is the teensiest bit annoying since she is a little controlling, a lot nosy and a tad irrational where Hayden is concerned, but she is surprisingly likable. She is loyal, protective and willing to do just about anything to make her friends and family happy.  Although she is popular and well-liked, Aurora is not a “mean girl” and she is willing to stand up for anyone she thinks is being treated unfairly.  All in all, she is an all around enjoyable and sympathetic character despite her faults.

The secondary cast of characters is fairly large but they are well-developed and relatable.  Cassie Shields is Aurora’s best friend and she always has Aurora’s back.  Their other close friend Jelena Cantrill is trifle shallow and a wee self-centered, but she offers a nice foil for Aurora’s niceness.  Lindsay is in the midst of a sudden break up with her long term boyfriend Tyler and with Aurora’s advice, she is rediscovering her individuality while resisting Tyler’s attempts to reconcile.

Landing the lead role of Beatrice in the school play Much Ado about Nothing takes Aurora out of her comfort zone and puts her in near daily contact with Hayden, who is playing Benedick. No one can understand her sudden dislike of the boy who was at one time her closest friend and she is incredibly prickly with him every time their paths cross.  Hayden is a genuinely nice young man who always shrugs off Aurora’s unpleasantness and offers her shoulder to cry on when she needs one.  As the premiere of the play looms ever closer, so does the all important kiss between Beatrice and Benedick, and hilarious hijinks ensue as Aurora tries to avoid giving her first kiss to anyone other than her “Prince”.

Although How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You is a light-hearted young adult novel, Tara Eglington does manage to impart a few serious messages to readers.  While Aurora’s desire to wait for her first kiss seems a little silly, the idea behind not wasting her first kiss on someone who does not like or respect her is actually quite refreshing.  In a time when casual relationships are the norm, it is nice to see that she wants her first kiss to have significance.  The other important lesson stems from the storyline involving Lindsay’s breakup with Tyler and how their lives were so enmeshed while they were dating that they were essentially viewed as one person.  The time apart provides Lindsay the opportunity to embrace her independence while discovering the things she enjoys doing on her own.  And last but not least, Aurora does not let a misunderstanding destroy a friendship and she demonstrates the importance of forgiveness even when suffering from hurt feelings.

How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You by Tara Eglington is an engaging and entertaining young adult novel.   With a cast of appealing characters, a humor-filled storyline and subtle yet important messages, this fast-paced story will charm readers of all ages.

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Filed under Contemporary, How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You, Humor, Rated B+, Review, Romance, St Martin's Griffin, Tara Eglington, Thomas Dunne Books, Young Adult

Review: The Burned Bridges of Ward, Nebraska by Eileen Curtright

burned bridgesTitle: The Burned Bridges of Ward, Nebraska by Eileen Curtright
Publisher: Little A
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Humor, Satire
Length: 252 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

There are no secrets in a small town. For someone like Rebecca, that can get awkward.

Rebecca Meer’s hometown of Ward, Nebraska, is small—so small that she can’t even sneak home after a drunken girls’ night without running into at least three people she knows. But she has bigger problems than her reputation. The head doctor at her fertility clinic is losing his mind, and his wild behavior could cost them the business. Her supersuccessful ex-boyfriend has blown back into town and somehow become her son’s fifth-grade teacher—now her son is asking awkward questions about the end of their relationship. Rebecca can’t even run the PTA’s annual food drive without getting mixed up with criminals. In Eileen Curtright’s astute comedy, we see just how far a stressed-out single parent will go to be the “perfect” mother.

Review:

With razor sharp wit and perfect comedic timing, The Burned Bridges of Ward, Nebraska by Eileen Curtright is an entertaining and surprisingly, thought-provoking, novel.

Set in a small Midwestern town, single mom Rebecca “Becky” Meers tries to fly under the nosy town’s radar while raising her son Mitchell. Having just made partner in the local fertility clinic, she works with a slick doctor who keeps her busy cleaning up his messes but his latest misstep might be well beyond any type of damage control. At the same, she is stunned and dismayed to discover that Mitchell’s new teacher is none other than her son’s unnamed father Kevin Holts and his teaching style is unconventional at best and downright destructive at worst.  Throw in her unwanted attraction to Hayes Bandercook who just happens to be from one the town’s most notorious families and Becky becomes convinced that a prescription for the newest ADHD drug will solve all of her problems.

Rebecca is a harried working mom who loves her son unconditionally. An unfortunate mishap with the school’s toads puts Mitchell in the crosshairs of the principal and much to her consternation, keeping him out of trouble means discussing his behavior with Kevin in a professional capacity. Although she is thrilled to finally be a partner in the fertility clinic, her social awkwardness and inability to sugarcoat news make for some interesting (and alarming) discussions with some of the clinic’s patients.  After discovering her partner is up to his old tricks with one their patients, Becky is often left to deal with their clients on her own which sometimes ends with disastrous outcomes. At the same time, she is also scrambling to stop the good doctor from ruining their business with his after hours shenanigans.

The Burned Bridges of Ward, Nebraska by Eileen Curtright is a laugh out loud funny novel with a cast of well developed, eclectic characters. Although occasionally a little over the top, the storyline touches on a number of topical issues such as the alarming trend of overmedicating students and standardized testing in schools.  Zany and irreverent with a satirical edge, Eileen Curtright is nonetheless spot on with her depiction of some of the problems in today’s world and the downsides to small town living. A fast paced and engrossing story that I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend.

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Filed under Burned Bridges of Ward Nebraska, Contemporary, Eileen Curtright, Fiction, Humor, Little A, Rated B+, Review, Satire