From Jackie Cantwell
Author: Wolfgang Herrndorf
Title: Why we took the car
Destined to become a YA classic, this story features a 14 year-old boy, Mike Klingenberg, who could be Holden Caulfield?s German cousin. The book was translated from the German by Tim Mohr, and nothing was lost in the translation. Mike has a serious crush on pretty and popular Tatiana, and he’s awaiting an invitation to her birthday party that summer. Mike is just another disaffected Berlin youth, until he meets the mysterious Andre Tschichatschow (Tschick), a Russian immigrant, who comes to class drunk and disheveled. When Tschick steals a car, Mike joins him without hesitation, to escape his unraveling family life. Mike considers himself boring, but Tshick disagrees, “You just have to do something to make yourself stand out.” Adults will like this book as much as teens. I still think about the characters, long after finishing the book. Enjoy the ride!
From Jackie Cantwell
Author: Dave Barry
Title: Insane city [sound recording CD] : [a novel]
This laugh-out-loud romp could only be brought to you by Dave Barry. We meet our protagonist, Seth, as he’s heading to his eco-friendly wedding at the Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne. He’s set to marry Tina, a beautiful, Harvard lawyer from a wealthy family, who really should be out of his league. The zany characters include strippers, an escaped orangutan, angry cops, angry pimps, an Albino python, Haitian refugees, etc. Hilarious situations include a hijacked pirate ship, a misplaced batch of marijuana brownies, and a billionaire whose wish is to join a secret society. This is a real page turner (or disc turner) as the reader wonders “Will the ‘groom posse’ rescue Seth from himself?” and “Will the wedding go off as planned”?
From Ginny Pisciotta
Author: Compton Mackenzie
Monarch of the Glen
Having loved (and previously reviewed) the Monarch of the Glen DVD series, I just had to read the book of the same title. Unlike the series, which takes place in more current times, the book takes place in the 1940’s, when Hector MacDonald’s father, also Hector MacDonald (but referred to as Ben Nevis) was Laird of Glenbogle.
Ben Nevis has visitors from the U.S. – a millionaire (Chester Royde), his young bride Carrie, a Scottish Canadian interested in her Scottish MacDonald roots, and Chester’s sister Myrtle. Maintaining castles, estates, and a gentry lifestyle can be very difficult and expensive in the 20th century so Ben Nevis attempts to set heiress Myrtle up with one of his sons.
The visitors are quite enamored with Highland lore and life. Chester even starts wearing kilts. They also get caught up in a hysterical all-out war between Ben Nevis, clinging to customs and thinking more fitting of centuries gone by, and a group of progressive thinking hikers, who feel they have the right to hike on the lands of Glenbogle.
The story and characters are humorous and enjoyable overall. My one complaint would be that the story gets bogged down a bit in wordiness and Gaelic dialect, though even the wordiness can be quite clever if you can take the time to read it through. Also, the switching back and forth between names and titles can be a bit confusing.
I would recommend this book to fans of the series who need a Glenbogle fix, or to those interested in Scottish culture, or to anyone who enjoys a humorous story full of quirky characters and doesn’t mind a little wordiness or Gaelic dialect.
From Ginny Pisciotta
Author: P.G. Wodehouse
Jeeves & wooster. complete series [videorecording DVD].
Jeeves and Wooster is a fun, zany British series based on stories by P.G. Wodehouse. The 23 episodes are set in the 1930s and revolve around Bertie Wooster (Hugh Laurie), a likeable but feckless member of the idle rich, and his extremely competent valet Jeeves (Stephen Frye).
Bertie always seems to be involved in some wacky scheme, usually at the request of one his eccentric friends or relations. The unflappable and brilliant Jeeves is always working behind the scenes to fix the bumbling messes that Bertie puts himself in, all while maintaining his professional image and duties.
There aren’t many series that my husband and I both love, but this is one fits the bill. It is worth watching for the theme song alone – a toe-tapping original piece written in the jazz/swing style. If you are looking for light-hearted entertainment this series is a must-watch.
From Jackie Cantwell
Author: Benjamin Mee
We bought a zoo
This is the remarkable true story of a successful journalist and married father of two who buys the dilapidated Dartmoor Zoo in southwest England. The book was made into a movie, in theatres now, starring Matt Damon. Benjamin is joined in this venture with his siblings and widowed mother, who sinks her inheritance into the purchase. Ever media-savvy, Ben lands a TV deal to film the park being prepared to be reopened for the public. This book has it all: a love story, exotic animals, impatient creditors, indifferent bankers, demanding government officials, and a ragtag crew of zookeepers. The most exciting parts are when the most dangerous animals (such as Sovereign the jaguar) escape or almost escape their enclosures. A fascinating section, which became known as the Day of the Dentist, was when a renowned animal dentist checked the teeth of all the animals in a marathon, costly session. The threat of danger always lurks, which makes the narrative so suspenseful. Will the park pass the inspection? Will it ever open to the public again? Will his family give up on his dream?
From Rosalia Millan
author: Hines, Jim C.
The Stepsister Scheme
This book picks up a few months after the Cinderella story ends. Danielle(Cinderella) is happy with her husband, but her stepsisters just can’t leave well enough alone. They plot to steal Danielle’s husband and her child. Queen Bea, the prince’s mother, introduces Danielle to Talia and Snow (Sleeping Beauty and Snow White). These two princesses are Queen Bea’s spies, they help her maintain balance in the kingdom. Through out the book we get details regarding the “real stories” of the lives of all of the princesses and get to meet some new and interesting characters. The book is fun but maintains an aura of darkness that keeps it from getting overly silly. This is the first book in a trilogy about a sisterhood of women who are tough and smart.
From Kyle, Teen Book Reviewer
author: Sonnenblick, Jordan
Zen and the art of faking it
Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonneblick is about a boy named San Lee who moves into a new town and is attending a new school. Instead of trying to make new friends, or trying to be cool, San decides to try his best to be different from others. He tries to be different by pretending to be a Zen Master. He decides to pretend to be a Zen Master because he answers many questions correctly in History class that nobody else knows, and everybody thinks he is a Zen Master.
Besides pretending to be a Zen Master, San has to deal with many family problems at home throughout the story. San also meets a girl who he thinks is cute and her name is Woody. Woody loves listening to the same type of music as San and they often talk about lyrics from the songs they like. San is determined to impress Woody without letting her know that he is really not a Zen master. I enjoyed reading this book and I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a book about a character who pretends to be who she or he is really not.