Author: Lauren E. Parker

Lauren Parker is a writer based in Oakland. A harbinger of chaos, she spends most of her time hunched over her computer working on her podcast, GLOW the Distance. She has written for the Toast, Harlot Magazine, the Tusk, Ravishly, Main Street Rag, and plain china. You can follow her on twitter @laurenink and online at and

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax


The short of it is this is Jane Austen Book Club with Downton Abbey.

The long of it can be described in the following conversation I had with my friend Kelly Anneken, the podcast host for a Downton Abbey podcast called Up Yours, Downstairs (which is great).

Me: It’s a book about a young woman who married too young, an empty nester who doesn’t know what to do with her life, a woman in a sham marriage, and then this concierge at this fancy Atlanta apartment complex that coordinates a weekly date to watch Downton Abbey.

Kelly: Zzzzzzz



Food, A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

So happy for these two lovebirds

I would like to mention I am a huge fan of Jim Gaffigan. I loved Dad is Fat, I love his standup, and I follow him on twitter and various other social media platforms. I’ve loved him since all the way back to his hot pocket days. I am a Jim Gaffigan hipster. We’re clear? Good? Now onto the review.
I didn’t love Food: A Love Story. It just didn’t have the same hook or story arc that Dad is Fat did, and this book doesn’t feel as strong to me. That being said, I think anyone that loves food will enjoy it a lot. This is a good uncle book. Buy this for your uncle who really likes ribs for Christmas. This book has an audience, I’m just not it. I’m sorry, Jim. I still really love Dad is Fat. Food just felt really sporadic and that the concept wasn’t as solid as it really needed to be. I just wanted this book to be tighter. Although his missives on Midwestern food is on point. His point about Cincinnati serving chili over spaghetti is entirely accurate and we need to stop doing it. As a former Midwestern resident, I understand the amount of mystery and butter that goes into every item that makes up Midwestern cuisine. (Hint: Germans, Polish, Italians – it’s all beef and carbs). But once we got to the hoaky names like “Wineland” and “Coffeeland” the joke began to just wear thin.

Jim Gaffigan’s website and comedy things are here.
Jim Gaffigan on Twitter.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

2am at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie – Helene Bertino


This book is so gorgeous. It’s been a long time since fairly simple prose and evoked such a complex story. Right away I was drawn it the character of Madeleine – a nine-year-old girl whose mother has died and whose father has completely checked out. Madeleine has the qualities of great children in literature, the toughness and headstrong nature of an Anne Shirley or a Harriet M. Welsch, with this added layer of having the drive to a jazz singer. She’s classic in her underdog standing but so layered and unapologetic in her depth. She is Jane Eyre before she grew up and got super irritating. Following the arc of a single day in the life of all of these characters is actually an interesting twist on the novel format. It pushes the minutia of the story to be so significant and to take up so much space in the narrative. The end result is a beautiful book with multifaceted plot revolving around the crux that is the Cat’s Pajama’s  Club. Part club, part public nuisance, part halfway house, the Cat’s Pajamas seems to fit into the Philadephia setting so completely that I could see it so clearly wedged among old warehouses and run down apartment buildings.

This book was so witty and shines in the overcrowded sea of 2014 novels.

If you’re interested in learned more about Marie-Helene Bertino, her social media is below including Twitter and Facebook.

Marie-Helene Bertino on Twitter
Marie-Helene Bertino on Facebook
More Info
Author Bio

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Great Grisby by Mikita Brottman

3 (1)

There are many books about dogs. Dogs and pets in general have always held literary and personal significance, and wook at dat fuzzy widdle face! At the same time, not every book about dogs is very good. There have been some great works done on the subject of important dogs – Rin Tin Tin, Marley and Me, the Art of Racing in the Rain.  Alas, the Great Grisby: Two Thousand Years of Literary, Royal, Philosophical, and Artistic Dog Lovers and Their Exceptional Animals is not a great piece of non-fiction, dog related or otherwise. While I completely understand Professor Brottman’s love of her adorable dog, and while I think she had a pretty decent concept, the execution didn’t have an arc. Not having an arc would have been fine if the sections about each dog, the list includes a slapdash list including literary and dogs of writers and artists, had explored the significance of each animal to a decent depth. It wasn’t even really a book of essays either, which is what I had expected. But it was little articles about different dogs, what people said about those dogs, how she disagreed with those arguments, but her arguments tended to lead with how much she liked dogs and therefore disagreed with or made wild personal leaps about the relationships between dogs and their owners. It would have been one thing if she had actually incorporated some research into her train of thought,she does cite but I would have preferred she actually discuss some of that further in the text,  but it was just her opinion with no real lead as to how she go there. Then there is Grisby. Grisby is not a famous dog. He is her dog. Which is where I gathered some of my confusion since the title was clearly taken from Great Gatsby, yet Grisby is not a literary character. He’s just a cute little dog that his owner likes, which is great! Trust me, I want everyone to like their pet. I just want them to figure out how their dog relates to the stories and thoughts they are communicating a little more solidly.

The book felt like it was rambling and I just couldn’t get into the structure of it at all. I think it was poorly used as a structural device. I found none of Brottman’s investigations went as deep or as complexly as I would have liked.

Mikita Brottman is a professor in the Department of Humanistic Studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and a critic, author and analyst. She writes and teaches about the uncanny, abjection, true crime, esotericism, horror in film and literature, and the history of psychoanalysis. She lives in the old Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore, with my partner David Sterritt and our popular and charismatic French bulldog, Grisby. You can reach her at her website.

I received this book for free from HarperCollins and was not compensated for this review.

Reasons Why My Kid is Crying by Greg Pembroke


Greg Pembroke starting taking pictures of his three year old son mid tantrum and captioning the reasons for it on a Tumblr in 2013. After that, the site blew up and tons of submissions from other parents with similar woes started appearing on the blog. I actually really loved the blog and as someone who has discussed how gross she finds children, this was not selling the event much. However, I laughed until I cried. Then I called my mother and asked her what the hell she was thinking. I loved the selection that was picked for the book and it’s a great gift for any parent. However, I wouldn’t buy it for anyone who hasn’t had a kid yet, it will be too discouraging. But if you’re a parent and you need a laugh, this is a great book. It’s mostly pictures so if you don’t really have the headspace for a full scale memoir navigating the complexities of identity and parenthood, this achieves the same thing without requiring you to read less than 16 point font.

This book was published by Three Rivers Press and can be purchased wherever books are sold. Don’t forget to visit your local library! You can access the book trailer for Reasons Why My Kid is Crying here. You can also enjoy the Tumblr blog here. GREG PEMBROKE is the father of two sons (and the husband of one wife) from Rochester, NY. He works part time as radio advertising copywriter three days per week and stays home with his young sons two days per week.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.