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review 2020-02-04 14:32
We Used To Be Friends - Amy Spalding

My expectations from this book before I read it was that we would meet one friend at the start of the friendship or a high point in the friendship, and one at the end of the friendship, slowly meeting in the middle and there would be some sort of big reveal as to what caused the break-up. I fully expected to bawl like a baby by the end. This... did not happen.

We Used To Be Friends is, well, it's a bit of a mess. Instead of what I thought would happen, the chapters felt all over the place for no real reason other than a gimmick, I had to continuously check where I was in the story to the point where I nearly started making a spreadsheet. The friendship was clearly broken at the chronological start of the friendship, so you never got to see a real moment where the friends were inseparable.

June is actually an awful person. She spends her time building Habitat's for Humanity so she can feel like she's better than everyone else, she's controlling to the point of abusive, choosing to not speak her feelings and then send two word texts to Kat in order to make Kat run around trying to work out what she did wrong, then she blows up at Kat for being too extra. I saved many examples of James shittiness, including when Kat started she was scared to be herself around James because she felt like James was judging her, when she felt like he parent's break-up was more important than the death of Kat's mother, when she spends basically the whole book being jealous of Quinn but not bothering to ask for time just with Kat, which Kat would have gladly given and the straight up gaslighting during the major argument.

Kat, I love. She's a messy human being and can come across as selfish but I don't think that was it. She spends so much time trying to make everyone else happy, and making sure other people's needs were met and just got shat on for it from James. She's appreciative of every kind gesture, like when James bough her emoi earrings and she put them on immediately, taking a picture for Instagram, when she tries her hardest to like her Dad's new girlfriend despite still healing from her mom's death, when she was devastated after the argument with James yet still went to an event with Quinn, because she knew it meant a lot to Quinn.

I left the story not upset for anyone but Kat (and maybe James' ex boyfriend Logan, run while you still can mate), wishing that Kat ditches James entirely and gets herself new friends that make as much effort as she does to show their appreciation.

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review 2019-07-25 01:26
Ted Mobsy Is Not a Hero
Dumped, Actually - Nick Spalding

I need to get ahead of the books that I have finished the past week. Due to me being at training right now I just don't have a lot of energy to post reviews. Going to post as many as i can before I finally fall on my face.

So this book, eh, the main character got on my nerves. That's before the reveal about what a loon he was when you find out the backstory on his and his girlfriend's relationship. I used to watch "How I Met Your Mother" and over time, the narrator of the story, Ted Mobsy got on my freaking nerves. Ted went around talking about being in love, and wanting to be in love and even finally got his dream girl (Robin) who he just wore down into going out with him. Do you know how happy I was when they broke up? Because initially the writers got that Ted just loved being in love and wanted every woman he met to fit what he wanted. He didn't really give a crap about them as independent people from him.


So here enters the lead character, Ollie Sweet. Unlike with his other books, Spalding's writing wasn't funny in this one. I just knew where he was going with everything. Har har, Ollie goes to a spa and we know he's going to get waxed. Ollie goes off to the forest, gets bored, and ha ha masturbates in front of deer. I just felt annoyed through the whole book. The only reason why I gave this three stars is that the book moves rather quickly and shocker of all, Spalding doesn't go for a HEA that is fairly well telegraphed from the beginning of the book.


Ollie plans on proposing to his girlfriend at an amusement park on her birthday. Yeah that right there would have me dumping you hard. I am not a public proposal person. Good on you all that have the ability to not recoil in fright if you are the center of attention. So Ollie proposes, gets rejected, goes into a tailspin, and the editor at his newspaper tells him that he should consider writing about his heartbreak. The newspaper is doing low numbers and any day now they will get the ax. Ollie turns his heartbreak into "Dumped, Actually" a play on the movie, "Love Actually." 


Related image


This part of the movie is still seriously messed up to me. I was maybe screaming at this point and wanted her husband to come out and kick his ass. Who does this?? Sorry, I am getting distracted.


Anyway, Ollie via emails from readers starts going through the things you do to get over a breakup. Get a makeover, go out camping, etc. Through it all though I just realized that Ollie is one of those guys who dumps his friends anytime a woman is around (he admits this) and he is obsessed with his parents happy marriage and wanting to have one just like it. Honestly, Ollie is a wanker. He's just one of those guys who is all, I am a nice guy. We don't get to read any of his writing, so who knows how good at it he supposedly is. But we just keep reading about his antics to get over his ex.


The secondary characters are developed in order to help Ollie learn more about himself. What made me laugh for all of his crap about his parents we don't hear much about them or his immediate family until his parents vow renewal ceremony. I think Spalding should have included more details on them. Just reading about Ollie doing things his readers suggest to get over his ex gets boring. He tries to throw in a side plot about the newspaper maybe being closed down and the terrible investor, but I don't want to get into how offensive I found that whole freaking thing and I don't feel like spoiling. Let's say, per usual nice guy antics, he can't just let his female boss handle things alone, only he and his words are there to save the day. 


The writing is typical Spalding, trying to make you laugh the whole way through, but just like "Dry Hard" I didn't find this one very funny. I hurt myself laughing while reading "Love....From Both Sides." The flow was wonky. The book honestly should have ended after Ollie has his heart to heart with his ex, but it lumbers along to the ending.


The ending as I said was a nice surprise. 

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review 2019-04-29 18:17
Least Favorite Spalding Book
Dry Hard - Nick Spalding

Well this was a shocker, I didn't like this one. Usually Nick Spalding can make me laugh until I hurt myself. "Dry Hard" really didn't work for me though because I think that Spalding left out some things that could have rounded out the book more. We hear about how badly Kate and Scott behave when they drink. And there's even references to their families realizing it and avoiding them. I think it would have been more realistic to have the parents and siblings back up Holly (their daughter) about how they behave when drinking. Instead Spalding seems focused on showing why YouTube stars are a problem, unless it's his characters reaping the benefit. 

"Dry Hard" follows Kate and Scott who though are happily married, wish that they had more time together. When both get stressed they like to drink. Unfortunately when they drink they don't have a stop button and it causes both of them trouble at work. When they finally turn into boozy messes on Christmas their daughter Holly films them and then posts it on her YouTube channel in order to get her parents to realize they need to stop drinking. So that's what Kate and Scott pledge to do. For a whole year, no drinking.


Of course we are supposed to laugh about them getting into scrapes and both wishing for a drink, but I didn't find it very funny. Both characters are alcoholics full stop. Every description of them thinking about drinking, drinking til they black out, and the remarks made by friends and family shows that they are not seen as sober/competent.  Unlike with the other couples Spalding has introduced us to over the years, I couldn't warm up to Kate or Scott. Them deciding to chronicle their non-drinking on YouTube seemed out of character and also stupid. Spalding does this to tie together the whole YouTube culture thing and it doesn't work at all. I get we are supposed to be rooting against someone, but the Kate and Scott were hot messes. 


The other characters get very little development. Even though we switch to Holly at times, I think Spalding could have included more of her issues with her parents drinking. We get mentions of why she never invites friends to stay over. You think her parents would realize that and also really really apologize for it. The therapy session scene we get once again sucks. 

The book wasn't that funny to me. I mean at first I was smiling, and then cringing the whole way through. Probably because I have a brother who used to drink to the point he would black out and wake up and accuse everyone around him of all sorts of things. I also had an ex who was a "functioning" alcoholic.  I just couldn't find the book very funny. I think I would skipped over this if the synopsis hadn't made it seem as if Kate and Scott don't really have an issue with drinking, they just over drink a bit and get caught in a viral moment. 


The ending was so unrealistic. I think we're supposed to cheer on how things end up. But I already have issues with so-called YouTube stars using their platforms and how it can leave bad impressions on teens and adults. I am not going to lie, I will watch a video on how to snake a toilet or fix a sink. However, based on all the articles about "BS influencers" and how some people selling products are pretty much blackmailed into giving these "stars" money or get bad reviews I just have a bad taste in my mouth about the whole platform. 

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review 2018-11-22 03:35
Who needs to drink when you can have this much fun reading?
Dry Hard - Nick Spalding

Kate Temple's in PR, Scott Temple's a marketing director for a distillery. Both of them rely on alcohol to get through their days (and nights). They used to have each other to rely on and curb their use, but as they've become more successful, they have to do more things away from each other and they really don't have anyone to watch out for them. Also, because they spend less time with each other, both have a hole they need to fill throughout their days -- which usually involves more drinking.


Things are getting bad enough that they both endanger their jobs (not to mention the property and safety of others) thanks to drunken escapades. But this doesn't give either of them much pause -- if anything it drives them to the bottle even more. Their teenaged daughter, Holly, can't understand why these two can't see how bad their drinking is, how much it's hurting their marriage, how much it's affecting her life. So, at Christmas, she decides to secretly film them at their drunken worst (which starts pretty early in the evening) and then she shows it to them, hoping this video intervention will awaken them to their problem.


It doesn't work -- her parents defend their drinking, downplay the mortifying things they do on video and generally blow her off. So in a fit of adolescent pique, she uploads the video to YouTube so her friends can see it. But the video catches the attention of a couple of popular YouTube celebrities and next thing they know, Kate and Scott are a viral sensation.


This very public shaming convinces them that they need to make some changes, and decide to cut out drinking totally. Holly tries to get them public support by uploading videos chronicling their efforts to live dry for a year, attaching the hashtag #DryHard. Things do not go well -- well, maybe well, but not smoothly.


Now, here's where Spalding distinguishes himself from almost every other writer on the planet -- he makes all of that hilarious. Yes, Holly's going through a lot because of her parents, but even in the way that Spalding describes it, her hardships are funny. At the 14% mark, I wrote in my notes "I have no idea if he can tell a story, but Spalding can make me laugh!"


I can thankfully report, he can tell a story -- and still makes me laugh. The comedy comes from the situations, from the slapstick-y way his characters navigate the situations, and just the way he narrates (typically through the protagonists' voices). It's not just one thing that he does well -- he can bring the laughs through multiple channels. Yes, the couple are careening toward rock bottom, but you laugh about it; yes, they're dealing with very serious life and death issues -- but Spalding makes you find the humor in the situations; they have monumental struggles that don't go away just because they sober up, but you'll ber chuckling and chortling while watching them flounder.


Oh, also, this has nothing to do with the plot, but Spalding's description of Gin Fawkes -- a flavored gin using orange peel and cinnamon produced by Scott's distillery -- is enough to make me consider becoming a teetotaler. Fantastic stuff. Funny and horrifying in equal measures.


This is the story of a family in crisis and the great lengths they go to to preserve that family. That right there sells me on the book -- everyone wants the same thing -- Kate and Scott's marriage to recover. There's not one person in the family thinking of pulling away, there's not one more committed than the rest -- both spouses are flawed and fallible, even Holly makes mistakes and loses her way, however briefly. No one's blameless, no one's to blame, Scott and Kate have got themselves to this point together, and together they'll make it out. Too many books like this will take the "side" of one spouse -- one is committed, one is faithful, one is stupid and blind to their own faults and one is the bigger/wiser person, etc., etc. Spalding doesn't do that -- he presents the Temples as mutually dysfunctional, mutually aspirational, and human.


Unlike a lot of similar authors, if Spalding had the opportunity for an honest, heartfelt emotional scene or a series of laughs -- he'd pick the laughs 99 times out of 100. Thankfully, if he could go for a fairly honest and quite heartfelt scene with laughs, he'd go for that too. If he'd gone for fewer laughs and more of the honest and heartfelt moments, he might have a more complex, realistic, and substantive novel. Something more akin to Jonathan Tropper or Nick Hornby at their best. Instead, Spalding produced an entertaining, funny and frequently hilarious novel. The substance is there -- but it's hidden and easy to miss between the chuckles.


If you take the time to look for the substance/depth -- you'll find it and appreciate its presence. If you don't and just laugh, you'll be fine and have a good time -- either way, you win.


This was my first Nick Spalding book -- it will not be my last. Fast and funny -- I had a blast reading this and laughed out loud more than I can remember doing in a long time. Read this. You'll enjoy it.


Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Amazon Publishing UK via NetGalley in exchange for this post -- thanks to both for this.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/11/21/dry-hard-by-nick-spalding-who-needs-to-drink-when-you-can-have-this-much-fun-reading
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text 2018-06-26 00:59
The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) By Amy Spalding $1.99!
The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) - Amy Spalding

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby’s been happy to focus on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a great internship at her favorite boutique, she’s thrilled to take the first step toward her dream career. Then she falls for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Hard. And now she’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win the coveted paid job at the end of the internship.

But really, nothing this summer is going as planned. She also unwittingly becomes friends with Jax, a lacrosseplaying bro-type who wants her help finding the best burger in Los Angeles, and she’s struggling to prove to her mother—the city’s celebrity health nut—that she’s perfectly content with who she is.

Just as Abby starts to feel like she’s no longer the sidekick in her own life, Jordi’s photography surprisingly puts her in the spotlight. Instead of feeling like she’s landed a starring role, Abby feels betrayed. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image others have of her?

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