Find it at your library!

What a hoot!

I've ventured into the dark underbelly of urban fantasy before, but I've never encountered anything this funny while in there. Peter Grant is a rookie cop in London who seems destined for a boring, paper-pushing desk job, until a ghost appears to him at a crime scene and gives him evidence in the case. It turns out Grant has an aptitude for magic—which, oh by the way, is totally real!—and is promptly whisked off to meet his new boss, Inspector (and wizard!) Nightingale. Something evil is stalking London's streets, turning normal people into face-disfiguring rage machines, and Grant is going to have a lot to learn if he wants to be of any help to Nightingale in the investigation.

Come for the magic—Aaronovitch is an equal-opportunity fantasy writer, liberally sprinkling in all manner of supernatural creatures—but stay for the humor. Grant is really funny, in that “laugh at my pain” self-deprecating way.

He's also “just enough” of a lot of things without going overboard into annoying. He's awkward with women, but not totally hopeless. He's grouchy and sarcastic, but deep down he has a heart of gold. He's goofy without being too silly. He's a great character, and it makes me excited to continue on in the series to see what other crazy shit he gets into.

I listened to the audio and highly recommend it. The reader (of course) has a fabulous British accent on top of being a skilled voice actor. He manages to do higher-pitched voices for the female characters without coming off screechy or forced. And his deadpan delivery of Grant's jokes is right on.

Highly recommended escapist reading for your holidays right here. Enjoy!

Find it at your library!

I think the best tidbit I took away from Anna Kendrick's book of funny personal essays was not to put too much stock in “nice.” Being nice, as Kendrick explains, usually means being compliant. It means not sticking up for yourself, or knuckling under when people try to push your boundaries. And in order to be a good person, the kind of person you want to be, you might just have to let go of the idea of being nice.

Oh man, did I need to hear that. Not earth-shattering advice, maybe, but absolutely freeing for a chronic pleaser who agonizes constantly about other people's opinions. Even people I don't like. Maybe especially people I don't like. I've already been working on setting boundaries and holding to them, even when people try to push me, but having Anna Kendrick's adorable voice in my head sure reinforces those decisions. Nobody controls me but me! Mind-blowing.

(I should probably give credit where credit is due and point out that Adam has been trying to convince me of this exact truth for years. His kneejerk response when he can tell someone is trying to force him to do something is to dig in his heels and lean all the harder in the opposite direction. So thanks, Anna Kendrick, for reinforcing the recalcitrance my husband has been cultivating in me!)

Of course, there's a lot to like in her book besides that one nugget of wisdom. She tells funny stories about growing up, performing on Broadway as a child, foregoing college to move to LA and pursue acting, all the way up to being nominated for an Oscar. A lot of the stories are geared toward that whole “I'm a regular person, just like you!” shtick, but somehow, in her bright and chirpy voice, it works. Granted, you'll probably enjoy the book a lot more if you're already a fan of Kendrick's movies, or if your childhood was spent singing, dancing, and performing and you can relate to that impulse to be the center of attention. (Not that I would know a thing about that.) (Have you heard my rendition of Someone to Watch Over Me? Let me go put on a spangly dress and do some vocal warmups while you prepare to be wowed!)

Adam and I listened to the audio version on a recent car trip, and it was just the kind of light, fun read to break up a long drive. If you're looking for a little whimsy to help you get through the holiday season, Scrappy Little Nobody should be at the top of your list.