Saturday, February 25, 2012

#6 2012

The Pleasure DialThe Pleasure Dial by Jeremy Edwards

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh my lord, what a delight, is this book!

This peek-a-boo into the world of 1930s radio...when Radio was King...has it all. Frazzled comedy writers, egotistical radio Stars, a nymphomaniacal daughter, pansexuality,and men who wear Fedoras!

Artie Plask leaves New York, after spending too much time looking up a mannequin's skirt, for a lucrative job writing for one Sid Huffy...Radio Star/King of Comedy...Once in the City of Angels, our boy Artie meets a bunch of characters that blow his mind..and other body parts..The lovely Elyse (daughter of Sid) who can't seem to keep her clothes on....Sid, himself...the Star-of-the-day...with a serious flair for comedy (too bad he yearns for Drama)....and Mariel, the true Star of this story...writer extraordinaire...the girl-with-the-feather...the wittiest of them all

And Sex....of which there is a plethora. Lubricious, lively, and louche...Fun sex, not Porn (sex-for-profit)..although these folks profit greatly by all their exertion/exercise. The dialogue improves, and this reader felt the temperature rise..a Good thing

There is a story here...and believable characters. Women who like sex, in all its permutations, but still have a job....and think with their brains (they leave their pussies for pleasure, and know the difference). Men who are more than their "tools"...who care about life, and their job, and women

Old time radio was no different than today's Media...Professional jealousy...Pompous asshole writers...Money issues..This story has all of that, with a touch of Innocence

Recommended to anyone who enjoys good fun with a touch of innocence...and a decent story, to boot

4 Stars

*** I received this from GoodReads***

#5 2012

The Lola QuartetThe Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four friends form a jazz band in High School, the eponymous Lola Quartet....add one more (the drummer's step sister/trumpet player's girlfriend) and you have the cast of characters playing in this story

You also have a pregnancy-kept-secret, a runaway, a theft of mucho $$$$ from a meth dealer, a ruined journalist, and a cold-blooded murder. Oh my!

Gavin and Anne were High School sweethearts, until Anne became pregnant, and decided to run away with Daniel (because he had a place to run to in Utah)....Anne spends a lot of time in turmoil, wondering if the baby will look half-Japanese, like Gavin, or Cocoa brown, like Daniel...Anna slept around a bit. Once the baby is born all pink and shiny, Daniel splits...and Anna steals over $100,000 from her crazy Meth dealer begins her Life on the Lam....Meanwhile, 10 years on, Gavin's successful career as a journalist tanks miserably once he's caught faking stories...he has to return home to Florida to work for his sister, foreclosing properties....Jack the erstwhile Boy Genius is a Vicodin addict who spends his days reading books about jazz arcana...Daniel is an embittered police detective with a trashed marriage, two kids, and no life...Sasha the drummer spends her days hiding from reality..her nights working at a roadside diner..her spare moments devising a plan to save Anna from that hellhound Meth dealer..

The death of High School dreams...the harsh bite of reality...the way people we once thought we knew, can change into monsters...the way we accept all of this as "just life" but still keep an eye peeled over one shoulder...that's what this book is about. It's no "mystery" any more than life itself

While not earth shattering, I thought this was a good story, well made me consider some of my youthful indiscretions...and what the fallout would have been, if i'd stayed in touch with people from college...and if anything would have survived from those friendships, besides regret


4 Stars

***This was a Net Galley***

Friday, February 17, 2012

#4 2012

The Whipping ClubThe Whipping Club by Deborah Henry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Marian and Ben, young lovers in 1950s Ireland, are on the road to learning some of Life's more difficult lessons. Marian (Catholic) is pregnant, and about to tell Ben (Jewish)...but after a disastrous first meeting with his parents, she hies off to a Catholic "Mother & Baby" home to complete her pregnancy and "give up" the baby for adoption.

Fast forward ten years.....Marian and Ben are married with a daughter, Johanna, and life is good. Things start to unravel when the "other" child makes an appearance, though not directly at first. Seems Adrian was not adopted by a wealthy American couple, but has been languishing in a Catholic Orphanage, within spitting distance (okay, I exaggerate, here) of Marian's happy home. Thus begins the journey through Irish Adoption Law...the quest to "get Adrian back".

After a shaky period within the bosom of his family, Adrian is returned to the Orphanage while the wheels of Church and State grind slow, his fate in the balance, since he is legally the ward of one Sister Agnes....head "angel" of the Orphanage.. He befriends another orphan, a girl...and all hell breaks loose because they are kids and curious. The girl is shipped off to a madhouse and Adrian is consigned to an Industrial School for Boys, where the loving attention of the priests leaves many marks.

If this story seems to be following a is. It did. It is a fierce indictment of the Catholic Orphanage/Industrial School system....of the "homes" for unwed mothers....of the abuse of defencless children by priests and nuns....but it is told more from the side of one family caught up in the system's net. The toll taken on a marriage through guilt, frustration, and anger..Marian spends a lot of time blaming herself for Adrian's situation...and suspecting her husband of countless infidelities....and envying his ties to Judaism and "faith"....Ben goes through life trying to succeed at his job as a Journalist, being thwarted at every turn for his "radical" ideas....trying to understand his wife's mood swings...Johanna goes through life as a kid in a shaky home situation...The Church people go through life with "God's blessings"

I liked this book for its restraint..and respect the author for not turning it into a screed...for developing believable characters caught in a heartbreaking situation, without reverting to a "4 hankie" fest...I came away from this book still angry as hell at the blindness of the Catholic Church and the cruelty meted out in the name of God....but I am glad I saw the human side of this one story..

Recommended to anyone who wants to be pleasantly surprised at the handling of one Hot Button Issue

4 Stars

***this was a Net Galley***

Saturday, February 4, 2012

#3 (?) 2012

The Sausage Maker's DaughtersThe Sausage Maker's Daughters by A.G.S. Johnson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought this book would be another take on KING LEAR....likeA Thousand Acres..a literate, "moving" take.....Not so...Shakespearian this is tone or telling

Kip Czermanski was the eternal Black Sheep in her family of Breck Blonde sisters...and the strict Catholicism...Needless to say Kip was short and dark haired...Kip was the trouble maker..the wild child...the Counter Culture rabble rouser who loved to terrorize her family by indulging in such "nonsense" as anti-war activities..Feminist terrorism...never mind that she was blamed for the death of her mother...the "sainted mother" who died from complications of Kip's birth

A fact that older sister Sibely never let's Kip forget

This story starts where Kip is languishing in jail...charged with the murder of her brother-in-law...Sybel's husband...Kip's lover from her college days. The final straw for JJ Czwermanski..The Sausage King's...youngest daughter (herself a bother and,now, an Adulteress to boot)

Talk about family dysfunction.....this book is a Big Ass soap opera

Sisters pointing fingers and pulling their own hair

There is also a whiff of the AFTER SCHOOL far as the Counterculture aspect.....a "preachy teachy" tone (which leads me to think the Author didn't live through this era)

I tend to avoid books that deal with the 1960s-early 1970s...because I lived that era...the Anti-War/Feminist Movements...because my issues, within those Movements, were "class" related....I saw that most of the Movement Radicals were Trust Fund babies...dressed as Lumberjacks..driving snazzy sports cars.....kinda made me sour

That BS being said....I thought this book was a "guilty pleasure"....oddly compelling..if only for the fact that the "least" of the Czermanski sisters....ended up a murderess

Recommended to those who enjoy their Family Dramas as "soap opera"....and never really lived through the Counterculture of the 60s-70s

3 Stars

**this was a Net Galley**

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