Book review & giveaway: ‘The Itteh Bitteh Book Of Kittehs’

When my boyfriend Spencer found out I was getting The Itteh Bitteh Book Of Kittehs, the latest book of hilarious cat photos from the ICanHasCheezburger.com franchise, he was . . . well, a tad excited.

In fact, he couldn’t believe it.

The third installment capitalizing on the Lolcats, an Internet phenomenon in which visitors caption photos of cats submitted by other users, doesn’t pull any tricks. It’s exactly what you’d expect of a humor book with baby cats on the cover, and what we’ve seen before: many full-color pages of cats in various poses, all captioned with funny and clever phrases. Here, most of them are — as the title suggests — “itteh bitteh” kitties. Kittens, you know.

I’ll be honest: I’ve never been a cat lover. Give me a giant golden retriever over an itteh bitteh kitteh any day. However, I started hanging out on the ICanHasCheezburger website years ago — and even tried my hand at captioning some — and really got a kick out of it. They’re all light-hearted and, if you stop by often enough, you’ll begin to see running gags like monorail cat.

What’s the appeal of Lolcats? For Spencer, a guy who grew up with kitties, it’s a way of still laughing at the ridiculous stuff cats get into. After flipping through The Itteh Bitteh Book Of Kittehs last night, we may or may not have watched a solid 30 minutes of box cat on YouTube. And other cat antics. And talking cats. And cats doing human-like stuff.

Never seen a Lolcat, or don’t quite get it? For someone new to the genre, Spencer says, “Start with a book — you’re guaranteed to get a few good ones. With the website, if you don’t see something you like, you can dismiss it too quickly.” You have three options and plenty of laughs in each installment.

If you’re into funny cat photos, you’ll like this one — and read it quickly. If you’re not into funny cat photos? This might not be your bag. But it’ll still make a great gift or be fun to share with friends.

Or, you know what? You can win one! I have a copy up for grabs, courtesy of the publisher, to one U.S. resident. (Added on Oct. 18: Congrats to Melydia, our randomly-selected winner! She’s been emailed. Thanks everyone for entering!)

And because you can’t talk about Lolcats without looking at Lolcats, here are Spence’s and my favorites from The Itteh Bitteh Book Of Kittehs:


Book review: ‘Holly’s Inbox’ by Holly Denham

hollys_inboxI’ll admit it — I was completely hesitant to read this book. But not because I worried that I’d grow tired of reading a novel consisting entirely of e-mails, or my apprehension to start another British chick lit book after I’ve been spending time with a glut of them lately.

Oh, no — I was hesitant to start Holly’s Inbox because I’ve been completely obsessed with the website! And if I actually paged through the whole book, getting the whole of Holly’s disjointed life at one time, what would I have to look forward to as more of our dear receptionist’s personal messages were revealed online?

Well, I needn’t have worried — because ripping through the book was just as fun as quickly flipping through the site. The premise of the story is that Holly, a British twenty-something, has just taken a job as a receptionist at a big banking group in London. Holly’s Inbox is exactly what it sounds like: a voyeuristic peek at someone else’s e-mail. Though we know “Holly Denham” is the funny, quirky product of one man’s (yes — man’s!) imagination, the novel is just like you’d expect the personal correspondence of a woman who has been unlucky in love, has hostile negotiations with coworkers and loves her hilarious friends would read.

Holly navigates the treacherous waters of an office romance and blooming friendships as an unexpected new coworker — one magnetic guy from her past — crops up. Each snippet of information comes courtesy of Holly’s frequent exchanges with her best friends Jason and Aisha or co-receptionist Trisha, whom Holly eventually wins over. Messages come in and out from all sorts of other characters, too, including Holly’s well-meaning but delusional parents, shifty brother and Internet-savvy grandmother in Spain. I absolutely loved the back and forth between Jason and Holly, delighting in all of his sage “advice” as things began to really heat up between James Lawrence and our Holly, that little tart!

Our heroine is likeable, funny, irreverent and — most importantly — realistic. It became painfully clear to me that I could absolutely see myself in Holly, particularly in the moments she’s obsessing over how to phrase a message or waiting for a response. Though the book tops out at more than 600 pages, don’t let that bother you for a moment — picking up from where I’d left off on the website, I read the entire thing in two nights. To say it’s a “fast read” is an understatement, but you’ll have an excellent, funny time going through. It was pure escapist fun, and definitely one of the most enjoyable, light books I’ve read in a while!

And, of course, I began obsessively thinking about everything that’s in my own inbox at work . . . and what someone would learn about me from opening up Outlook and spending a few hours paging through my messages. My guess is quite a lot.

Needless to say, I’m deleting my “sent items” as we speak!


4 out of 5!

ISBN: 1402219032 ♥ Purchase from AmazonPeek in Holly’s Inbox
Personal copy obtained through BookMooch

Book review: ‘How To Take Over Teh Wurld’ by Professor Happycat

lolcats_wurld_bookSince bursting onto the Internetz in 2007, the LOLcat phenomenon has pervaded popular culture, catapulting its website — I Can Has Cheezburger — into superstardom. If this is all Greek to you, here’s a brief set-up: people send it funny photos of cats; other users make up silly captions for them on LOLspeak, which typically involves spelling everything out phonetically, and then the images are voted upon by the giggling masses around the planet. The funniest pictures make it to the main website.

In my experience, there are two types of people in the world: those who find LOLspeak and I Can Has Cheezburger? hilarious, and those who really don’t. If you’re in the former camp, I have a great book to pass your way! And if you’re in the latter? Well, um . . . move along, now, nothing to see here, folks!

How To Take Over Teh Wurld: A LOLcat Guide 2 Winning by Professor Happycat is a collection of silly and often spit-take-inducing photos submitted to the website — mostly new, but with a few classics mixed in there! Though I can’t help feeling downtrodden that my Irish Kitteh has never made it into the anthology, I can’t feel too discouraged — there are plenty of funny pictures to help me get over my disappointment!

What I love about this book — even more than the first collection, aptly called I Can Has Cheezburger? — are the awesome drawings interspersed with the LOLcat photos. True to the book’s title, the artwork provides lots of helpful tips for those kitties ready to lead the revolution . . . or contribute to it, at least.

It’s not fair to “rate” a book like this — I mean, it is what it is. No tricks up the sleeve here, or rabbits to be pulled from a hat. If, like me, you frequently start your day by attempting not to spew Diet Coke out of your nose at work while perusing the website, you’ll dig the book. And if LOLcats are still a foreign concept to you, you can has an explanation and gets teh giggles over here!

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite LOLcats from over the years — particularly the ones I had to share with coworkers who were worried I was having a seizure after keeling over in my chair, tears coursing down my face. What? Don’t judge — they’re hilarious!


Purchase from AmazonI Can Has Cheezburger? website


math_dog


useful_kitty


lissen_hes_drunk

One of the Cheerleader Girls

Apparently, not me. Photo by Richelle Antipolo

Apparently, not me. Photo by Richelle Antipolo

Trust kids to tell you the truth about something — and everything. Whether you’re prepared for it or not.

At a family birthday party this weekend, I chatted with Isabelle, my cousin’s four-year-old niece. Quite possibly the world’s cutest and most vivacious child, Isabelle loved putting pink lipstick all over the faces of her captivated audience and wowing us with her zippy one-liners, including “Did you know Michael Jackson has a sister?” and “God doesn’t like liars.” (I swear we didn’t provoke her!)

One of the most telling, though, had to come as we all gathered around in the backyard. Isabelle was swinging with my sister and me while her aunt — my cousin Ciara — sat nearby. After putting a full face of makeup on Katie and I and declaring us her “Fashion Girls,” Isabelle surveyed her work carefully. After a few moments she made a face, jumped up and flew over to sit in Ciara’s lap.

“Where are you going?” I asked her, laughing at her suddenly-smug expression from across the yard. “Aren’t you a Fashion Girl?”

Isabelle wrinkled her little nose at me, her whole face collapsing in disdain. Ciara looked over at us, bemused, as Isabelle tossed her long ponytail over her shoulder. “Um, we’re the Cheerleader Girls,” Isabelle then announced. “And you’re not.”

Kate’s eyebrows shot straight up as she laughed, her face just as shocked as mine. “What do you mean, not a Cheerleader Girl?” she asked Isabelle, who just grinned devilishly (and adorably, I have to say).

I could feel my whole stomach trembling with laughter, remembering my high school days that were filled with just about anything but cheerleading. I was a straight theatre geek, actress in all the school plays and editor of the school newspaper. I spent my time in the dark recesses of the school auditorium, learning lines and rehearsing and playing around with friends. My long hair has been, since the dawn of time, a bit unkempt . . . mostly because no contraption or amount of hair product can make it look the way I want. When you get to know me, I’m a little loud and bossy — definitely not one to float along with the crowd. In the literary world of Megan McCafferty, I fancy myself much more a Jessica Darling than, say, a Sara D’Abruzzi or Manda Powers. And I was always good with that.

But how is that even a four-year-old knows I’m not “one of them” — not a Cheerleader Girl?

Despite the fact that Isabelle and I continued to play and she did eventually come to the Fashion Girls, there was a sudden and crisp division between us that even my “Fashionable” status couldn’t save. Just like the summer I turned fourteen and stepped into the halls as a newly-minted high school freshman, I was standing in one clique looking out once again.

I guess high school really doesn’t end — even before you get there.

Book review: ‘Meeting Mr. Wrong’ by Stephanie Snowe

meeting_mr_wrongMarried at 22 and pregnant with twins, Stephanie never imagined she would find herself re-entering the mysterious, awkward world of dating. But after her husband leaves her for another woman and she has their children alone, our fearless narrator discovers an inner strength — and, many months later, puts herself back out there to find a new love. And preferably one without a mullet.

Meeting Mr. Wrong: The Romantic Misadventures of a Southern Belle is Stephanie’s short, fun look at trying to find true love while experimenting with online dating via Yahoo! Personals — and its cast of characters — starting in 1999. Despite a friend’s warning that the Internet is “full of axe murderers” who surely want to kill she and her children dead, Stephanie gamely sifts through e-mails from men pledging to love she and her children for the rest of her life to find someone who, you know, might be tolerable. Among many others, we meet Gil, the “birdbrain,” who probably adores his feathered friends more than he enjoys human contact, and Ben, the coworker who can barely remember Steph’s name, let alone be bothered to keep from vomiting in her general direction while drunk.

Stephanie’s incredibly strong, narrative and hilarious voice is what kept me compulsively reading this one. At 150 pages, this was a fast and enjoyable read that was almost like a compilation of awesome, hilarious blogs — and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, I loved that about it! It was punchy and to the point. The chapters were short and focused. There were several “laugh out loud” moments — especially when Stephanie’s mother was trying to convince her that if you want to find a man in the South, you sure as hell better like NASCAR — and I found myself chuckling at many other points, too! I could clearly hear her speaking voice through the entire book, and found her unique and innovative varieties of mild cursing hilarious! I know, I’m terrible. But we share the same sense of humor. And as a woman growing up in and out of the South, I felt like I had an extra appreciation for it.

A fast, fun and ultimately hopeful read for anyone who loves dating horror stories — or for anyone looking for a laugh and “thank God that wasn’t me!” moments. And does Stephanie’s story have a happy ending? Grab this one and get to reading!


4 out of 5!

ISBN: 1592994016 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Blog
Personal copy won from badgerbooks.

‘Yours Is a Very Bad Hotel’

bad_hotel

This has nothing to do with writing, books, eating or John Mayer — the topics on which I typically seem to post — but I have to share the hilarity of it, anyway! Apparently it’s been circulating since a frustrating hotel room mix-up was experienced by two gentlemen in 2001, but it’s still bringing the LOLs today. Check out the PowerPoint presentation posted on Snopes about two Seattle-based travelers who arrived at a DoubleTree Club Hotel at 2 a.m. to find their “confirmed” room reservation had actually morphed into no room — and no alternate accomodations were made by Mike, the dismissive and unapologetic night clerk. It’s been uploaded as a series of still frames, so you don’t need PowerPoint up to view the stills.

I love that these two (rightfully) disgruntled customers wouldn’t settle for writing some strongly-worded letter to Mr. or Ms. “General Manager,” and took the time to create actual graphs and timelines about the injustice of it all!

bad_hotel_timeline

And the title just makes me giggle. Hopefully Tom and Shane have had much more restful, non-smoking trips since then!

And happy Sunday, everyone!

Oh, the Magical Christmas Cat

I came across this book the other day at work over in Romance and I literally burst out laughing. I’m not sure what it is exactly about this cover — the daydreaming cat? the snowglobe? the “magic”? — but I can’t stop chuckling every time I see it! I was trying to describe it to my mom yesterday, but she couldn’t quite grasp the hilarity without seeing it.

Here, grasp:

Now, I should point out in the sake of fairness that I have absolutely no idea what this book is about. I’m sure these authors are quite lovely people — and their stories could be artistic, faceted and enchanting! But this cover. The cover! And The Magical Christmas Cat? Really?