Archive | March, 2014

Motorcycles, Sushi and One Strange Book

25 Mar

Motorcycles, Sushi, and One Strange BookNancy Rue

Publisher: Zondervan

Publication Date: 2010

Paperback: 221 pages

Book Blurb:

Normal? While family dinners and vacations to touristy destinations are ordinary events for her ‘normal’ friends, fifteen-year-old Jessie Hatcher’s normal life means dealing with her ADHD and her mother’s bipolar disorder. So why is Jessie shocked when the unexpected happens? Now her ‘normal’ includes living in Florida with the father she always thought was dead and learning the secrets of sushi from a man who teaches by tormenting her. Life isn’t any saner with her dad, but a cute guy and a mysterious book might just be the crazy Jessie needs.

Stand alone or series: It’s kind of both. This is book one in the Real Life series, however the novels follow the Real Life book (a mystical, physical book within the novel) instead of the girls. At the end of each novel the book is passed on to someone new and they are the person we see featured in the next book.

Why I read this book: I am interested in teen novels dealing with real-life issues. I’ve found many novels that gloss over the difficult parts and I’m always interested when a novel tackles those issues head-on.

Review:

Jessie’s life is messed up and she doesn’t even know it. To Jess her mom’s In-Bed Phases, where she doesn’t stir from her darken room for days or weeks, and her No-Bed Phases, where she cleans the house with a toothbrush and designs shoes, are normal. Her friends think her hyperactive flip-outs and bouts of wild behavior are funny and that’s why they keep her around. To make matters worse, her father shows up—the father she thought was dead since her birth.

Lou, missing father, walks in to a situation he couldn’t have imagined. When bad goes to worse, he takes Jess home with him to Florida. Her biggest fear is that her father will discover her “disorder”, as her ADHD has been referred to her whole life.

The writing was impressive. Rue writes the first few chapters so deep into Jess’s head that I felt ADHD as I read them. I started to fidget, my thoughts and speech became more disconnected. I was going up the wall. Yet Rue knew just when to cool it down. Right before I was about to throw the book at the wall to stop the insanity, she pulled back to focus more on the story than the style. It was a perfect maneuver and I was hooked—I had a lot of sympathy for the poor girl.

Yet Rue does not make Jess out to be a “poor girl.” That’s what I love about the Real Life series. Jess begins in a horrible situation in which she has no control. Then with the help of God, and a stabilizing adult figure, she takes control of her life. She stops surviving and starts to thrive.

This was a great book. (Don’t read it during finals when you need to concentrate thought.) I would recommend this book to all teens, though it is largely geared towards girls. I would also suggest this book to parents. I’m still closer to the teen side, than to being a parent of a teen, but I thought the parenting style of the dad was pretty cool. I enjoyed watching the way he handled a number of situations. Again, don’t start this book when you need to concentrate, but you should definitely start… and finish it.

Cast Your Votes

18 Mar

For the past year almost I’ve been writing and editing a novel, but I haven’t quite settled on a name yet. I’ve narrowed it down to two however and now I’m bringing it to you. Gut reaction: which book would you pick up off the shelf?

Happy voting!

Par for the Course

11 Mar

Par for the CourseRay Blackston

Publisher: FaithWords

Publication Date: 2008

Paperback: 241 pages

Book Blurb:

Golf, politics, and romance collide as golf-range owner Chris Hackett meets an attractive political correspondent who turns his world upside down.

Chris Hackett owns and operates Hack’s Golf Learning Center, an eccentric golf range in Charleston, South Carolina. Chris jumps at the chance to step up his game when an attractive new student and political correspondent, Molly Cusack, suggests that Chris capitalize on the highly polarized presidential election. His pitting of Right versus Left means even more income, plus a sharp new girlfriend, and soon Chris, his sidekick, Cack, and their unique golf range are the talk of the town… until someone takes the political insults too seriously.

The question is, will Molly, stick around long enough for Chris to learn the true meaning of “playing politics”? Or is she just another “moving target”?

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Why I read this book: The Flabbergasted series stole me away. I wanted to check out a new novel by him.

Review:

Blackston is at is again with another all-star cast of wacky, lovable characters. Chris Hackett has found his calling—he teaches golf lessons to beginners at golf range he owns. Cack is happy tending the grounds, telling passersby his views on what is wrong with the world, and insulting customers on a bullhorn every Tuesday during Wack the Cack. When Molly Cusack, a cute, single, outspoken political correspondent, learns of this unusual game she has a new idea. In an election year when temperature run high, why not take advantage of the wide dichotomy and make a little extra cash? On Friday night all the democrats come to take a wack at the right, with Cack shouting political insults at them from his high-powered, wire-mesh golf cart. On Saturday night republicans get the same chance. Soon Chris finds there’s a world of polarized issues—country fans and hip hop lovers, high school spirit teams wanting to wack the opposing team’s mascot and a round of wack the Baptists for eleven atheists (the Christians were given the chance but they didn’t think it would be quite right to Wack the Pagan). But with all this tension abounding, someone is bound to get their feelings hurt and maybe hurt a little more than just feelings.

I greatly enjoyed this book, though I have to say it doesn’t beat Flabbergasted. The cast of characters is as fun as ever. It’s complete with another men’s accountability group, which is always fun to witness. I would love to have seen Molly a little more rounded, we get a limited view of her as she flits about the country. Chris is excellently rounded, we understand him—what makes him tick, what gives him joy, what made him who he is today. Though we don’t have a backstory for Cack we don’t need one, we all know the type and Blackston uses him perfectly.

The book wasn’t as God-centered as the Flabbergasted series. Part of what I loved about that series was the unique insights into faith that it offered. This novel was definitely more golf-centered. I learned terms I didn’t even know existed. This was a fun read and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something light and enjoyable. I’m certainly going to check out other Blackston books, I’ll let you know more!