Monthly Archives: October, 2013

Heartburn

Heartburn by Nora Ephron, read by Meryl Streep

Rating:  * * * *

This is a laugh-out-loud story of surviving the breakup of a marriage.

I highly recommend this recording just to hear Meryl Streep bring it to life.  I wouldn’t have found the story half as funny had I read it in print:  Streep’s inflections and timing bring out humor I would certainly have missed from the cast of self-indulgent characters.

Ephron penned many popular screenplays, including Sleepless in Seattle.  The first print edition of Heartburn was published in 1983.  This audio recording was released in 2013.

If you like this, you may also like Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen.

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Bubba the Cowboy Prince: A Fractured Texas Tale

Bubba the Cowboy Prince:  A Fractured Texas Tale by Hellen Ketteman, James Warhola (Illustrator)

Rating:  * * * * *

Like Cinderella, only funnier!  Bubba lives in Texas, a lowly servant to his wicked stepfather and two stepbrothers.  When Miz Lurleen, the prettiest rancher in the area, decides to marry and throws a shindig to meet her mate, Bubba is of course not allowed to attend.  Then his fairy god-cow shows up.

The story is funny enough on its own, but the pictures send me into peals of laughter.  Bubba is the red-headed stepchild, Miz Lurleen (with her big hair) has a butler with his nose perpetually pointed to the ceiling, and the fairy god-cow…well, let’s just say that if I could have ever dreamed up a fairy godcow (which I most certainly could not), I couldn’t possibly have dreamed she would have curls that would do Nellie Oleson proud.

Codename Wolf

Codename Wolf by Gil Hogg

Rating:  * * *

Roger Conway joins the British secret service on a lark, then, still a novice, finds himself thrown into a high-stakes operation including a new Cuban missile crisis, assassination attempts, and a clandestine group of operatives known as The Disciples.

Roger’s route to the secret intelligence service is entertaining:  dishonest, but ingenious, with a bit of luck thrown in.  The book is well written, moving along quickly and with plenty of red herrings and conspiracy theories.  Yarham, Roger’s right-hand man, is the most interesting and only likeable character in the book:  intelligent, quick-witted, content without being stodgy.  Roger is tiresome.  Four stars for the idea and the writing style.  Two stars for the story.

Through NetGalley, I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Donny and Ursula Save the World

Donny and Ursula Save the World by Sharon Weil

Rating:  * * * *

Choose your ism: survival-ism, terrorism, environmentalism, fatalism, cataclysm, botulism (or something like it), escapism. Employing a series of hilariously apt double entendres, this book explores the notions that money is the root of all evil and sex makes the world go around.

I can pretty much guarantee you won’t read another book this year that so brilliantly ties together GMO seeds and belly dancing.

Through NetGalley, I received a copy of this book from Passing 4 Normal Press.

The Silent Wife

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison, audiobook read by Karen White and Donald Corren

Rating:  * * * *

Jodi and Todd, together for 20 years, are unraveling as a couple.  Todd goes too far and Jodi can no longer tolerate his philandering.  Todd no longer sees the need to pretend he has only one reality, the one he inhabits with Jodi.

Told in alternating “his” and “hers” chapters, this is an unnerving tale related through Jodi’s dogged denial and Todd’s casual ability to lead multiple lives.  The life they have built together is equally as solid as a relationship can be and as shaky as if built on quicksand.  What is truth?  What is betrayal?  If one doesn’t acknowledge a truth or a betrayal, does that make it a lie?

Jodi reminds me a good deal of Madolyn, the psychiatrist in the 2006 movie The Departed.

The publisher’s description of this book does the reader a gross disservice by saying it “rush[es] haplessly toward the main event.”  In actuality, this book rushes not at all.  It does, however, cover a great deal of ground before it reaches the main event, which by that time does seem hapless.  And that’s the genius of the book:  it is disturbing precisely because it is not disturbing enough – until it is.

The Prostitutes’ Ball

The Prostitutes’ Ball (Shane Scully series #10) by Stephen J. Cannell

Rating:  * * * *

Shane Scully of the LAPD, lead detective on a triple homicide case at a posh estate, and his new movie-business-obsessed partner, Hitch, uncover details about another triple homicide that occurred at the same estate 25 years prior.

Despite the provocative title, what drew me to this book is the name Stephen J. Cannell.  His name was a familiar sight on TV credits some years ago:  he created/co-created The Rockford Files, 21 Jump Street and many other highly successful series.

This is a well-crafted, suspenseful story within a story.  Really, it’s like a set of nesting dolls:  open one set and find another nesting inside.  Open that, find yet another inside.  Every time I thought I had the plot figured out, it veered.  Just when I was confident Scully was the guy wearing the white hat, he’d be faced with an ethical dilemma and I’d hold my breath and will him to make the right decision – only to realize all was not as it appeared and the whole situation was different than I thought.  I had Hitch categorized in my mind, only to find he didn’t fit the categories into which I tried to squeeze him.

An engrossing tale encompassing murder, drugs, midlife crisis, greed, purpose and lack thereof, motivations personal and business, it unfolds like a 3-act play.  I look forward to reading other books in the Shane Scully series.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick, narrated by William Dufris

Rating:  * * * *

Homer, a boy with a talent for telling entertaining stories (some might call them tall tales) sets off on a heck of an adventure when he attempts to save his brother Harold, who was sold to the army during the Civil War.  Homer meets a motley assortment of characters with interesting names like Professor Fleabottom.

William Dufris does an absolutely delightful narration of this story.  All the character voices are distinct from one another, and each voice brings the character to life so that even minor characters become memorable.

Wildly funny and adventurous, the story nevertheless contains an undercurrent of sadness as Homer encounters kidnapping, thievery, war, incarceration, and death.  The journey to recover Harold complete, Homer finishes up his account (mostly true) with humor and optimism, leaving the reader/listener wondering what is next for him – and knowing that whatever it is, it will be entertaining!

If you like this story and/or this narrator, you may also enjoy the Holmes on the Range series by Steve Hockensmith.

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