Down and Out in Bugtussle by Stephanie McAfee
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
Date Read: September 2013
When her dream life in Florida with her now-ex-fiancé goes south, so does Ace — she moves back home to Bugtussle, Mississippi, and into her late Gramma Jones' little house. But even though her best friends, Lilly and Chloe, are thrilled that she's returned home, not everything is smooth sailing. Ace wants her job back as art teacher at the high school, but the beautiful Cameron Becker has no plans to relinquish that position. Although Ace wants to run Miss Becker out of town, she accepts a job as a substitute teacher. On top of her job woes, Ace's friends keep setting her up on blind dates when all she really wants is for people to stop meddling in her love life.
In her quest to find inner peace, Ace takes up gardening and discovers old love letters in her grandmother's well-worn gardening book. With her faithful chiweenie, Buster Loo, by her side, Ace is determined to get to the bottom of her Gramma's secret life, all while hoping her own doesn't implode.
Publisher: NAL, Tantor
Series: Mad Fat Girl #3
Listened for Review (Tantor Audio)
Down and Out in Bugtussle: The Mad Fat Road to Happiness by Stephanie McAfee
Overall Rating: 2.50
Story Rating: 3.00
Character Rating: 2.00
Audio Rating: 4.00 (not part of the overall rating)
First Thought when Finished: Ace is just not my kind of gal. We just didn’t connect which happens occasionally.
NOTE: Let me admit that I have not read the first two in the series and I think that is where my disconnect with the story/characters came from. If you are already a fan of Ace then I have heard that this is a fantastic addition to the series. Please go read other people’s reviews too. I am in the minority in not liking it very much.
Story Thoughts: I thought Down and Out in Bugtussle was a bit of quirky fun. There really wasn’t much of a point to the story but the shenanigans were delightful. It really made me wonder if all school teaching staffs had that much fun regularly (and drama) or if it was just these quirky ladies. Otherwise, my biggest complaint was I couldn’t quite figure out what the point of the story was. There were a few times when things were so over the top (Ace’s reactions mostly) and I just couldn’t quite figure out why. I think it might have been where she was a character but to a person coming in late to the series, it just didn’t make sense.
Character Thoughts: Let’s start with the side characters since I really liked them. I thought the other substitute was fantastic in a throw-back to the 80s kind of way. She was funny, odd, and unique! I loved her car, big hair, and love of 80s rock. I also found Ace’s two best friends to be likable. Sure they were a little dramatic but each had big things going on so it was understandable. Ace *sigh* oh how I wish I liked you better. She had moments of pure delight but then she would go over the top mean on someone. She didn’t come across sassy instead it was more brash to me. The TSA agent verbal smack down in the story was the last straw for me. As I said, it might just be where she was as a character but it just wasn’t a very likable trait.
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell / Length 9 hrs and 43 mins
Cassandra is one of my favorite narrators. She is fun, quirky, and really knows how to deliver a line. In fact, she may have made me like the book a little more than I would have on my own. She did give the women in the series a lot of sass and brass! Her narration fit perfectly with the story.
Final Thoughts: On a whole, I think fans of the Bridget Jones series would really like the Mad Fat Girl series. Ace didn’t work for me but I know she is delightful for many of my friends. Please give her a try if you like fun, quirky leading ladies.
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During her non-reading time you can find her hanging with her rescue furr children named after book characters: Lizzie a beautiful cattle dog mix (Pound Pup), Cinder a beautiful Shep/Pitt mix (Pound Pup), and Minerva a beautiful Shep/Pitt mix (Foster Fail). Gathering with friends and family, attending conventions, watching movies/tv shows, rooting for the 49rs, and crocheting.
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