16 Ways to Break A Heart by Lauren Strasnick (2 out of 5) 

•March 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Wow. This was a car crash. I am not just saying this because there’s a car on the cover and because the book is about the breakup of a relationship. No, not metaphorical at all. This was a book pick by the Harper rep. She is usually on the money, so I pushed my misgivings aside and plowed through it. Tuesday was not a good day anyway. I tried to read this at the hospital, to no avail. When I got home, I plowed through more. Then while I was waiting for my sister to come by. Then during the “Big Bang Theory”. In short, if I have to put it down numerous times and pick it up again and again, it means my interest is elsewhere. To be fair, so was my mind. But a book…A book…Is an escape. For me, at least. This one had me looking for the nearest fire escape/exit. 

Natalie and Dan are opposites in many ways. But their chemistry? Off the charts. So is Natalie’s rating as a semi-stalker. The book itself begins at the end of the winding road that was THEM. The book is comprised of texts, chat conversations, and letters between the two..And others….That spell out the end of the relationship. For as good as they are, they are also bad…Together. Natalie comes off as this whack job, needy, borderline emotionally abusing kook. Dan should be the bad guy here, as his actions spell the end of the relationship. Instead…I kinda ended up liking Dan and sneering my lip (Billy Idol-style) at Natalie and her missives. There is something wrong about reading a book like this and taking the side of the guy who deepsixed everything, and not taking the side of the girl who was done wrong. But that’s how I felt! Mass frustration, but feelings about books, as with feelings about people, cannot be ignored. Seriously…The only reason this book got two stars was because I like the cover and I really liked Dan..Who is supposed to be the bad guy. I was not at all digging on this book. 

Felony Murder Rule by Sheldon Siegel (4 out of 5) 

•March 22, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been reading this series since my first bookstore job. My former manager Stacey told me Sheldon Siegel was a better John Grisham. I do love John Grisham, but I did mentally sign out of my worship log for a few years, because his books started annoying me. I looked him up on a lark on Shamazon and saw this self published book. I was very excited. He didn’t let me down. 

I had no idea this kind of crazy law existed. Felony murder rule states that someone who is with another person or persons at the time a felony (in this case, murder) is committed but doesn’t actually commit the violent act, is still liable to answer for the act itself. The offense basically leaps to that person just because they are in the same place at the same time. Let me state, that blew my doors right off. What kind of madness is this law? In the case of the book, a teen named Thomas is sitting in a car listening to music while his friend Duc goes into a liquor store to get beer for a party. Within minutes, Thomas is hauled out of the car by police and informed that Duc tried to rob the store and the owner put 6 bullets into him, killing him instantly . Then they inform Thomas that he is under arrest, under the felony murder rule. His aunt goes to Mike Daley in desperation and after dropping a piece of very important information on him, gets him to take the case last minute, after he fires the other lawyer (she wanted him to accept a plea bargain. The stubborn teen refuses to admit that he did anything wrong). Last minute…Mike takes the case and only has FOUR days to learn the case, interview all the principles in the case, and try to prove his client’s innocence, outside of this crazy law. The only way to do that? Find a way to prove that Duc did NOT provoke the owner into shooting him to death. This felt like the book where Mike and his ex-wife/partner Rosie and her niece Rolanda (also working the case) may finally lose a case. I was hooked all the way until the end. I missed these two and Siegel’s novels with them. I hope he has another one in him. The ending wasn’t contrived, and a few twists provided some surprises that not only went a long way toward the end, but stated true to the characters of Mike and Rosie. Bravo, Sheldon Siegel, Bravo!!

Naked 76 by Kevin Brooks (3 out of 5)

•March 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I was hoping for an “Almost Famous” type of story, but for the young adult squad. It was not quite that. It is a good book, and obviously well researched, but it is very long and somewhat drawn out. Especially for the ever-on-the-move teen crowd. I liked it OK but I could find better out there for the young adult consumer. It did not stop me, as a 44-year old, from enjoying it. 

Lili Garcia is the bassist for Naked, a band straight out of the London pink scene. This is a scene in its infant stage, and the pressure of the scene exploding and suns emerging from the cloud that had hung over London previously, cause a breakdown of epic proportions between Lili and Curtis Ray, the breakout star of the band. Oh yeah, and he’s also Lilu’s boyfriend. Therein lies some more tension. Enter one William Bonney, a guitarist from another band. Also known professionally as “Billy the Kid”. The total anthesis of Curtis Ray, and every bit as talented. You know what this is a set-up for. A band battle royale? Not quite. More like the fight for Lili’s heart. This did not surprise me one bit. I also have to admit bias. I did not like Curtis Ray (Sounds like a convict name. Or the lead singer of a Billy Ray Cyrus tribute band. UGH!) at all. I was a huge fan of Billy the Kid. And you know what happens..Lili begins to question all she was previously “content” with. The story goes on for a long time. I felt that it could have been wrapped up quicker. These are teens. They don’t ruminate over decisions forever….That’s what the 40 something crowd like myself do! So…In a nutshell, I liked it but I didn’t love it. 

Sex, Drugs, & Opera by Roland Orzabal (4 out of 5)

•March 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Yes, THAT Roland Orzabal. Lead singer of Tears For Fears. In case you didn’t know, I love Tears For Fears. And now an author. This book came out awhile ago. As usual, I’m a little behind. You can get it on Amazon. I’m not sure if it’s out in your indie bookstore or the “Killer B’s”(Barnes & BAM) that are leaning on pillars in the corner. I know that Ingram carries it at a discount price. If you’re a fan, give this a shot! It’s a great little book. I was entertained by Orzabal’s distinctly wry sense of humor, as well as some potshots at Big Country that appear in the book. For the record, also a fan of Big Country. I just love the humor in this book. And a lot of heart, as well. There’s hope where often you think none can be found. A prevading sense of it runs throughout the book. You can’t help but root for Solomon; he seems like a good chap. 

Solomon Capri is having a midlife crisis, although he seems to be in a suspended sense of denial at the start. His band, Fortune Favours The Brave, had its moment in the sun decades ago. The band sputtered and stopped when its guitarist (and Solomon’s best friend) Fran got sick and died. Jenny, Solomon’s now estranged wife, was a fan that Solomon spotted at one of their shows and fell head over heels, married, and had a family with. Cinderella story? In a sense, but not a happily ever after. Jenny and Solomon have hit a rough patch. Solomon gets an offer to participate in an American-Idol type show that turns singers into opera singers. He accepts, thinking that perhaps this is the boost his marriage needs.. you know, win and be a hero in the wife’s eyes again. He ends up enlisting the help of an elderly man who lives on a leaky barge with his disabled wife, in learning to sing opera again. The mysterious Sylvania is Solomon’s key to getting into the opera show, but she and her weirdo friend, the burly and dim-witted Andreas, latch onto Jenny, and the distance between the and Solomon grows. Add in her best friend, the big bosomed firecracker Lexi, throwing herself at Solomon. And the daughter of the family that lives on the property, developing a crush on Solomon, and this poor guy has his hands full. With explosives. A string of events unravel, and after Jenny moves out and then Solomon busts her holding hands with Andreas at a play, it all goes boom! In his face. Seriously, I felt so sorry for this guy, grieving the death of his marriage and not looking for anything but a way to get things back to how they were, and it all goes nuclear. There is still humor here, folks. It’s not gloom and doom as I am making it sound. At the same time, revealing more will ruin the book for you. And I do NOT want that, because it was a story full of heart. Solomon is one of my favorite characters in a long time. I encourage you to pick up this book as soon as you can. What a great read. 

Hamstersaurus Rex Vs. The Squirrel Kong by Tom O’Donnell; Illustrated by Tim Miller (5 out of 5) 

•March 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Sam Gibbs and the lovable Hamstersaurus Rex, are back! This time around they find a giant (GIANT) squirrel hiding in the woods behind the school. Squirrel Kong (great name) IS real, but he’s kind of an urban legend. Meaning…No one believes he exists. Even AFTER Squirrel Kong stomps his way into the school and trashes the science lab. Then fingers (and paws) point to our innocent hamster friend as the culprit!!! Sam must find a way to not only prove the existence of SK, but he must exonerate his innocent hamster friend. 

As much as I enjoyed the first, I may have enjoyed this one more. Simply because we get to see the bond between Sam and Hammie even more than the first book showed us. I love a story with humor, rabid animals, and the strong bonds of love between man and his unofficial pet. I laughed and also genuinely feared the ferocious beast known as Squirrel Kong. It’s a treat for those who enjoyed the first book. Target age group for this one is 8-12 years. It’s not out yet, so don’t rush to grab it. It’s out on June 27, 2017, and brought to us by the fine folks at Harper Collins Children’s. Put it on your lists, friends. It’ll be a fun book to keep your kids preoccupied in the wild jungle known as summer vacation. 

The Fire By Night by Teresa Messineo (5 out of 5) 

•March 13, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The wonderful Jenny over at Harper Collins sent me a copy of this WWII based novel months ago. Thank you, Jenny! I am again in the process of undigging many books in my library, and I found this one. I was able to get through this in a few hours Saturday night. It is out in hardcover, courtesy of Harper Collins publishers. I don’t know, honestly, how this one has slipped under the radar. I know it got raves when it was released in January, and I am pretty sure several customers pre-ordered it in December, in lieu of its January release. But the buzz in the bookstore I work at has been a quiet hum. I hope to change that by putting it up as soon as I get into work. 

This is the story of two nurses, best friends, who are overseas and fighting to save lives in WWII. Jo is a tough girl from Brooklyn, who is tending to six seriously wounded soldiers in France. She has a bond with one of them, but keeps her shield in place, because she isn’t sure how much her broken heart and spirit can take. She misses the carefree years with her best friend Kay, a fellow nurse. Kay, meanwhile, is stationed at a Japanese POW camp in Manila, and has a similar hard time quashing her emotions while trying to save lives and kerpbhers from being taken, as well. The stories of these ladies and their courage, even if fictionalized, is not very different from stories we have heard from the true firsthand accounts published throughout the years. By the time the war ends and the two try to find their places in a whole new world, they find the battle to achieve peace is tantamount to any possible reunion that faces them. Not just each other, but with families, once probable beaus, and themselves. What a truly timeless and beautiful story Teresa Messineo has brought to the history lover and the reading public in general. We are lucky to read such a story of the struggle on enemy lines, brought to us by two magnificent and brave women fighting to save lives, as well as remain optimistic in the face of daunting circumstances. The friendship between the women may be the root of this novel, but the spirit of survival permeates it long after it has ended. A magnificent tour de force. And definitely my favorite historical fiction since last November. 

Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy by Gareth Wronski (5 out of 5)

•March 13, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This kids year 8 novel was a hoot and holler. As some of you know, if space, robots, and odd things are happening, I am in 100% as far as reading goes. This charming little escape isn’t out until 6-6-2017 (per the advance) and is being brought to your planetary reading orbit by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. I would recommend it highly to anyone who likes space, robots, and fun. It is full of all three. 

Automatic Silicone (those first two words brought to mind anatomically blessed mannequins and a lot of giggles) Transistor Robot OS-78 is our narrator. I had a stilted autonomous voice in my head as I read the book. He brings us the story of Holly, a girl kidnapped by space pirates when they mistake her for the “Princess of the Galaxy”. Her teacher Mr. Mendez and the ever annoying Chester end up hurtling through space with her, and she tries to get home through insurmountable obstacles like bounty hunters and giant worms. Who is the real Princess of the Galaxy? How does Holly get brought into this whole big bang? It’s a fun ride, brought to us by that unemotional Android 0S-78. I swear, they could really make an animated feature out of this, if not a Nick show. I was entertained through the whole book, and laughing out loud a good portion. We all need more books like this right now, in this wildly off-tilt world we’re in. I would also advise you to put this on your TBR list for June. Now. Your kids will love you for it.