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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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review 2018-03-18 16:38
Funny and Heartwarming Book by Spalding
Checking Out - Nick Spalding


Please note that I got this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating of this book.


So I have pretty much loved about every Nick Spalding book I have read. There have been two misses for me, but for the most part he is always enjoyable. In his latest we follow 33 year old Nathan James who though he has about everything to live for (has a fat bank account and a hot girlfriend) is told that he is an inoperable brain tumor.


Spalding has Nathan going through some of the stages that you would see someone go through if someone died (hello Mr. Anger) as well as him trying to find meaning in his life by trying to find those left fortunate than him (the donkey sanctuary scene had me in hysterics). Ultimately though, Nathan realizes that no matter what he does, he eventually is going to die, he just needs to determine how he plans on living until that occurs.


I adored Nathan. Usually Spalding's book has a double POV. For this one we stay firmly in Nathan's head the whole time. What works though is though you may realize that Nathan is a little bit superficial (okay a lot) there is no maliciousness in him. So when he gets his diagnosis you do feel as much grief as the character does. When Nathan goes around breaking the news to his family and girlfriend, Spalding still manages to mix the absurd with the tragic so you will find yourself torn between tears of sympathy and laughter while reading.


The secondary characters were really good. Nathan's mother and her sculptures sounds like the stuff of nightmares. And heck at least Nathan realizes that his girlfriend though hot is terrible. There is another love interest in this one that I really did enjoy and thought worked well. I do wish that we had been able to spend more time with Nathan's cousin and her son, there seemed to be a lot going on there. Maybe Spalding will follow up with a second book since there are still some loose ends to follow up on in this one.


The writing was great. I had tissues nearby due to some sniffles, but also because I laughed so hard I cried three times while reading this book. The flow was great. Spalding tops off the top of each chapter with the month so you know how much time has passed. That is important cause a doctor Nathan sees initially mentions 6 months for him to live.

The book takes place in England. There are some mentions of Trump and his terribleness in this one, so apparently taking place in our current timeline. I did have a question about something though. Spalding via Nathan mentions at one point downloading the Uber app to his phone. I didn't think Uber could operate in England?


The book ends on a bittersweet note. I like that Spalding didn't try for some third act deus ex machina.


Please note that I read this book for The (Mostly) Dead Writer's Society 52 week challenge: March 12-18: Green cover. 


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text 2018-03-18 16:11
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Checking Out - Nick Spalding

So funny though the last little bit was heartbreaking. Did love the ending, but really wanted some unbelievable third act miracle though.

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text 2018-03-18 13:24
Reading progress update: I've read 66%.
Checking Out - Nick Spalding

I think I hurt myself laughing. I am laughing so hard I have tears. Poor Nathan has just been beaten up by a small orange cross eyed donkey that then gets amorous with him. 

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