Thursday, December 22, 2011

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

How is it possible she can crank these out so quick? Oh yah, they're all the same. (And yet, still so damn entertaining!)

This time out, Stephanie's back from vacation. But what happened in Hawaii? With whom? And why did Ranger and Morelli fist fight?

Incidentally, the guy on the plane next to Stephanie ended up dead. And she's being chased by a deranged hired gun, some fake cops, and a loony hairstylist. Lula's decided to WHAM everybody like Ranger, and the office is in temporary housing full of rats.

But you know that's all secondary. I mean - what REALLY happened in Hawaii???

Friday, December 16, 2011

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

A boring, forced prom date with the foreign exchange student turns into a night of action and adventure the likes of which high school senior Perry Stormaire could never have imagined.

This book is a movie waiting to happen (and apparently, Hollywood agrees) with gun battles, frumpy-to-fierce wardrobe change, and a tuxedo that becomes more and more tattered throughout the evening. Edge-of-the-seat exciting, with super-fast chapter breaks and a truly riveting storyline, this book is a major keeper; it's easily one of my new favorite teen books.

It's Hard Not to Hate You: A Memoir by Valerie Frankel

After a doctor recommends she reduce the stress in her life, Frankel begins searching for ways to be more honestly in-touch with her emotions ... beginning with the rage and anger she feels towards nearly everyone in the world.

The book's funny, but not hilarious. Frankel's willing to say and do things other people only dream of (or maybe, don't even think about). Her exercises in emotional honesty may help you find ways to be more true with yourself - or just give you a few minutes escape.

Monday, December 5, 2011

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

Due to the failure of our penal system, this near-future novel presents a day where non-violent criminals are re-released into society with genetically altered, rainbow-tinted skin to match their crime: Blues rarely live long upon release (child molesters), but Yellows (misdemeanors, like petty theft) can sometimes find work in minimum-wage, after-hours jobs until their sentence runs out. 

With a million winks, nods and nudges toward Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," our main character Hannah Payne is a convicted Red. Her crime: the murder of her unborn child (she's caught after having an illegal abortion). How sweet, innocent and ultra-religious Hannah became a Red is the compelling tale. 

We find lots of clues about how society got to this strange point -  a plague, political upheaval, technological changes - but that info is doled out on a need-to-know basis. I hadn't expected all the religion in this book, but it's done well. Through her ordeals, Hannah lost her faith and searching for answers is part of her quest. 

The book gave me lots to think about - and yet, it was very entertaining and an easy read. It's one of those stories that stays with you. And with all the hot-button topics it presents, it's the kind of story you'll revisit and reassess long after you've put down the book.

Spud - the Madness Continues ... by John Van De Ruit

South African John "Spud" Milton is back with another year's diary about his friends and foibles as a scholarship student in a prestigious boarding school: still struggling to understand girls, still waiting for his hormones to kick in, and still struggling to understand his lessons.

While I really enjoyed the first book in this series, this one left me a bit cold. The diary format seemed to turn dull here, just a rote entry-by-entry list of events rather than a more fleshed-out story of the boys' hijinks. And this time there's no "cast of characters" in the beginning to help you remember who's who (everybody's got a nickname).

I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship edited by Wade Rouse

The subtitle: "Hilarious, heartwarming tales about man's best friend from America's favorite humorists"

Rouse allowed a whole bunch of writers to tell any kind of dog story they wanted - and the resulting tales are a mixed bag: about dog training, childhood dogs, current dog-mates, puppy-sitting, naming dogs, and much, much more.

Every story is good. Really, I was surprised - there's not a weak link in the chain.  While reading, I found myself flipping back and forth to read each writers's bio before I read their story, to see if they were comedians, novelists, magazine writers - it's a nice mix of names you know and new faces to learn.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

OMG funny. No other way to describe it.

A strange kid with weird ideas, Haven Kimmel mines her childhood (nickname: Zippy) for comic gold in this book about small-town life, families, and growing up. Riding around town on her lavender bike named Rodeo, searching for good Christian deeds that need doin', and generally making trouble at every turn, Zippy's world is filled with characters like her a sci-fi fan mom who never leaves the sofa, a mean old neighbor lady, and the drug store owner who doesn't sell drugs.

I laughed out loud all the way through this book. This was Kimmel's first memoir, although it's been followed up by others that I will soon be trying out, also.