Sunday, March 30, 2014

Truckers - Terry Pratchett

    1989; 292 pages.  New Author? : No.  Book #1 of the Bromeliad Trilogy.  Genre : Comedic Fantasy.  Overall Rating : 9*/10.

    The “Outside” nome clan is dwindling.  Once there had been 40 nomes; now there are just 10, and most of them are old, 4-inches high, and easy prey for foxes and rats.  It is time to move on.

    There was a truck – with the words Arnold Bros. (est. 1905)  emblazoned on its side.  Masklin has studied its movements; its coming, stopping, and going from a spot close by is very consistent.  With perfect timing, he could herd the whole clan on board and they could go to wherever it went.  Masklin has no idea where that is.

    But if they stay where they are now, they will surely perish.

What’s To Like...
    Truckers is a Terry Pratchett fantasy set in the present time and place, presumably England.  It is a world rife with nomes, who will remind Pratchett fans of the Nac Mac Feegle, but this is most definitely a non-Discworld setting.  The book was published in 1989, which makes it an early Pratchett work, coming out at roughly the same time as book #5 in the Discworld series.

    Personally, I think Pratchett was on the top of his game around this time.  Truckers had me laughing out loud with its madcap action, puns and wit, and the nomes’ complete misunderstanding of the world of humans.

    The pacing is good, and the characters (which are all nomes with one exception – a sacred, talking computer called simply “The Thing”) are delightful.  The main plotline is somewhat akin to Watership Down (reviewed here), but with a heavy dose of humor.

    The ending showcases Pratchett’s masterful writing skulls.  There is an exciting chase scene which leads to a satisfying resolution of the main storyline (What shall we do?  Where shall we go?).  But at the same time, it sets up the next book in the trilogy.  I like authors of literary series who can pull this off.

    The basic color for a practical nome’s clothes is mud.  That was common sense.  Grimma knew fifty ways of making dyes from wild plants, and they all yielded a color that was, when you came right down to it, basically muddy.  Sometimes yellow mud, sometimes brown mud, sometimes even greenish mud, but still, well, mud.  Because any nome who ventured out wearing jolly reds and blues would have a life expectancy of perhaps half an hour before something digestive happened to him.  (loc. 320)

    He’d had one glorious moment of feeling that, although they argued and bickered and got things wrong and tripped over themselves, nomes would come through in the end.  Because Dorcas had been watching the planes, too, clinging to the wire with a calculating look in his eyes.  And Masklin had said:
    “Just supposing – for the sake of argument, you understand – we need to steal one of those, do you think it could be done?”
    And Dorcas had rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
    “Shouldn’t be too hard to drive,” he said, and grinned.  “They’ve only got three wheels.”    (loc. 2887)

Kindle Details...
    Truckers sells for $6.64 at Amazon.  The second and third books in the trilogy, Diggers and Wings, both sell for $5.69.  But I borrowed this e-book through my local library for free, and the other two books are similarly electronically available via the Greater Phoenix Digital Library.

”It’s a small step for a man, but a giant step for nomekind.”  (loc. 1837)
    The primary target audience of Truckers is juveniles.  Amazon lists it as recommended for ages 10-and-up.  There is nothing even remotely R-rated in the book.

    Yet it is also an enjoyable read for adults, and there are subtle messages woven into the story about things such as Leadership and Faith.  It reminds me of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons which entertained adults and kids alike.

    9 StarsTruckers is a light, easy, subtle, thought-provoking read, and I’m hard-pressed to come up with even a quibble, save that it was over way too fast.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dawnwind - Last Man Standing - George R. Shirer

    2012; 295 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Science Fiction.  Overall Rating : 4½*/10.

    John Epcott is the only survivor of a devastating pandemic that swept across Earth.  Fortuitously, a Junian spaceship has picked him up and taken him back to their home planet.  It’s a pleasant place; John can breathe the air and interact with the sentient, humanoid Junians.

    But it isn’t home.

What’s To Like...
    Structurally, Dawnwind : Last Man Standing reminded me of Gregory Maguire’s book Wicked.  The storyline is segmented, with gaps in the timeline.  George R. Shirer “star-dates” each jump, so it’s not really confusing.  Just different.  The segments can be briefly called New Arrival, Lonely, Starship Crisis, Revenge, and Dawnwind.  “Dawnwind” is the name of a starship, BTW.

    The world-building could be better done.  The planet Juni bears a remarkable resemblance to Earth.  Things and terms such as “1600 hrs.”, trains, weddings, tattoos, bookstores, audio books, regular books, the phrase “folks ‘round here’, porcelain dolls, pillows, and snowballs are all native to Juni.  And all galactic races apparently speak English.  It felt like John could’ve been plopped down in a place like Scotland and have experienced a greater culture shock.

    The Junians are not very different from Terrestrials as well, save for their blue skin (smurfs?  Na’vi?), the nerve endings in their hair, and their penchant for painted eyes.  Other sentient races are given short shrift.

    There are a slew of characters, and George R. Shirer enjoys giving them all names and different eye-painting colors for you to make note of.  Don’t bother.  Most of them are limited to one-and-done roles.

      There are a couple cusswords and a few suggestive phrases, but nothing worthy of keeping this off the YA shelves.  The storytelling gets better as the book rolls on, with the “Dawnwind” segment by far the most interesting.  That is, until. . .well, more about that in a bit.

    “Ah.  You’re attracted to me.”
    “What?  No!  I mean. . .”
    She glared at him.  “You should choose your next words very carefully.”
    “It’s not my virtue that I’m worried about.”
    “Ah!  So you are attracted to me.”
    “Uqqex, it’s been over six years since I’ve had sex with anyone.  At this point, trees are starting to look attractive to me.”
    “I sincerely hope that last statement was exaggeration.”  (loc. 3429)

    Cleric Til drifted over to the group.  Her multicolored scarf was wound around her right arm.  She swept the small group with her gaze, and smiled.  “More survivors.  Thank the pantheon.”
    “I’d be more thankful, Cleric, if the gods hadn’t seen fit to blow up half the ship,” said Sebo, blankly.
    “The gods don’t do everything, guardsman,” chided Til.  “If you think they do, then you should come to the temple more often.”  (loc. 5336)

Kindle Details...
    Dawnwind : Last Man Standing sells for $2.99 at Amazon.  George R. Shirer has one other full-length novel, The Marvelous Land of Ap, also for $2.99;  and seven Short Stories, each for $0.99.

”Yazat’s balls!”  (loc. 3161)
    The fact that Juni and Earth are so much alike is a serious weakness.  Sci-Fi readers are looking for escapism; if we want to read a book set in our familiar world, we’ll pick up Charles Dickens or something.  But this is fixable.

   What isn’t forgivable is the cliffhanger ending.  Dawnwind : Last Man Standing feels like a prequel to a whole series, giving us the back-story for our plucky hero, whether we wanted it or not.

    Okay fine.  But there is no sequel, and therefore the cliffhanger climax just means you wasted your time reading a story that has no ending, and possibly never will.  Better to have read something else.  Anything else.  Even (bleh) Dickens.

    4½ Stars.  Add ½ star if sequels are ever written and published, and this prequel becomes a free download to get you hooked on the series.  FWIW, if you’re looking for a book that gets this genre right, try C.E. Stalbaum’s The Spider and The Fly, reviewed here.  At the time of this posting, it is available for free for the Kindle.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Children of Men - P.D. James

   1992; 351 pages. New Author? : No.  Genre : Dystopian Literature.  Overall Rating : 7*/10.

    The year 1995 is called “Omega” because it was when the last child was born on earth.  At first, everyone thought it was just a statistical fluke.  When it continued, everyone was confident that science would find the cause and develop a cure. 

    It is now 2021 and all hope has pretty much vanished.  After a quarter of a century, old age has taken its toll, as the remaining population consolidates into a few urban areas and waits for the inevitable extinction of the species.  

    Theo Faron is a somewhat privileged person; he’s the cousin and former advisor to the Warden of England, Xan Lyppiatt, who is in charge of administering governmental services to the diminishing population in these final years.  Like everyone else, he awaits the coming doom with stoic resignation.  But there are always some people who still want to change the world.

What’s To Like...
     The Children of Men is a one-off book by P.D. James, who is much better known for her detective series featuring Adam Dalgliesh.  Technically, it isn’t a dystopian novel – everyone is just trying to make the best of a hopeless situation – and no one considers it to be a perfect world.  But all the dystopian earmarks are present, and for me it had a very “Fahrenheit 451” feel.

    The premise is original, the writing is superb, and the world-building is excellent.  A lot of the book is set in the Surrey section of England, which I’m familiar with and love.  And since this is P.D. James’ mother country, the book is written in ”English”, not “American”.  There aren’t a lot of characters to keep track of, but those that you meet are all well-developed. 

    The book is a platform for Ms. James to give her thoughts about some of the hot-button topics, such as euthanasia, immigration, and prison reform.  She also handles the “if you were facing the end of civilization, what would you do?” question with keen insight.  There is much food for thought here.

Kewlest New Word. . .
Diktat (n.)  :  An order or decree imposed by someone in power without popular consent.

    “I’ve never quite seen the point of the Quietus although you seemed keen on them, Felicia.”
    Felicia said: “They began spontaneously.  About twenty eighty-year-olds in a house in Sussex decided to organize a coach party to Eastbourne, then, hand in hand, jumped over Beachy Head.  It became something of a fashion.  Then one or two Local Councils thought they ought meet an obvious need and organize the thing properly.  Jumping off cliffs may be an easy way out for the old people but someone has the unpleasant job of clearing away the bodies.”  (pg. 137)

    “Theo, look.  Isn’t this beautiful?”
    He turned and came up beside her.  She was standing beside a tall overgrown hawthorn heavy with red berries.  From its top bough there cascaded a white froth of travelers’ joy, delicate as a veil, through which the berries shone like jewels.  Looking at her rapt face, he thought, I only know it’s beautiful; she can feel its loveliness.  (pg. 321)

 “Nothing is compulsory at Woolcombe, except unhappiness.”  (pg.  29)
    The setting and premise may be great, but the storytelling was meh.  A lot of the passages are overly descriptive, and this leads to slow spots.  I found the “diary” chapters particularly tedious.

    There wasn’t much of a plotline, and not a lot of action either.  The ending felt forced and rushed, and I didn’t find it plausible.

    Still, it’s dystopian, it’s thought-provoking, and P.D. James handles words like a maestro.  If you prefer character-driven stories over thrills-&-spills, you will likely find this an excellent book.  My quibbles may well be due to simply expecting a different kind of narrative.

    7 Stars.  The plusses outweigh the minuses.  But my next dystopian book will probably be Catching Fire.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Attic Piranhas - Marlin Williams

    2014; 182 pages.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Contemporary Fiction.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    Change is coming to the Elegant Watch Company, where Max Fagan works.  No one buys mechanical watches anymore, and Elegant Watch has been slow to fathom this.  They've been losing money for some time.

    Change is also coming to Max Fagan’s life. Given his lack of funds – he’s about to be evicted from his apartment – and dead-end job, you’d think he’d embrace it.  But occasionally, some people need a bit of a push to get them out of their rut.  Enjoy your hot dog, Max.

What’s To Like...
    Marlin Williams has recently finished a significant revising of The Attic Piranhas.  I read the earlier version in December 2012.  The review is here, and I’ll try to keep duplication of it here to a minimum.  Besides, lots of the book’s details have changed and my memory is understandably fuzzy, so it was a pleasant re-read.

    The essence of TAP is similar to A Confederacy of Dunces (reviewed here).  The humor is both weird and madcap, the protagonist charismatically unlikeable (is that an oxymoron?), and both have hot dog vendors.  But The Attic Piranhas is shorter, its pacing faster, and Max has a few more redeeming qualities than Ignatius.

    It also seemed like the storyline in the revised version is now more focused.  Charley and the Attic Piranhas are more clearly portrayed (they are also defined in the Amazon blurb, as well as in the second excerpt below) and the roles of Misters Wong and Sanderson now seem to fit more deftly into the plotline.  Of course, it is equally possible that the second reading just increased my understanding of what was going on.

    There’s a nice moral to the story about the impact of negative thoughts and feelings; and the author manages to pull this off without getting preachy.  The ending closes out the story neatly.  There’s no booze, drugs, or adult situations to offend sensitive minds, and just a single “sh*t” near the beginning.  So both YA and adult readers will enjoy this book.

    “Hey,” Max pointed to the pocket, “I gave you a twenty-dollar bill.  Where’s my change?”
    The vendor’s grin broadened.  “Change come from within.”
    “I’m talking about my money.”
    “Money,” Mr. Wong shook his head, “no matter.”  Then as he nodded, he said, “Change matter.”  (loc. 56)

    Charley stopped parading around on the scaffold and put a hand to his ear.  “Hear that?”
    Somewhere in the distance, Max could hear a faint rumble; it was almost like the sound he made when he blew bubbles through a straw into his glass of chocolate milk.
    Charley dropped his hand away from his ear.  “They’re coming.”
    “The attic piranhas.”  Charley tapped a finger against his forehead.  “You know, those little things that gnaw at you.  If you stand here much longer trying to make a decision, they’re going to catch up with you and eat you alive.  I’m not talking metaphorically, pal.  I’ve seen it happen a few times and it’s not a pretty sight.”  (loc. 590)

Kindle Details...
    The Attic Piranhas sells for $4.99 at Amazon; and ANAICT, this is Marlin Williams’ only full-length novel available for the Kindle.  He has seven short stories also for the Kindle, all priced $0.99, plus one collection of Short Stories, priced $4.99.

”A mind driven by indecision goes nowhere.”  (loc. 585)
    Overall, I felt like this version of The Attic Piranhas was a lot more polished and easier to follow than the 2012 edition.  There were still one or two “rough spots”.  The “Rolling Stone infringement” issue gets resolved too casually.  Mr. Sanderson’s new assistant turns out to be a relative of another character, which is either incredibly coincidental or a deliberate tie-in that flew over my head.  And I still feel Ramir’s entrance is a bit abrupt.  But I quibble.

    Simply put, if you've read John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces and liked it, then you’ll love The Attic Piranhas.  If you haven’t read ACOD, then if things like anti-heroes, crazy antics, karmic comeuppances, and a tinge of the paranormal appeal to your reading tastes; you will enjoy this book.

    8 Stars.  Add 1 star if you think Ignatius Reilly was annoyingly charming.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Owl Dance - David Lee Summers

    2011; 270 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Western; Steampunk.  Overall Rating : 6*/10.

    What’s gotten into some people in the sleepy town of Socorro?  Well actually, it’s an artificial “intelligence” composed of thousands of tiny “nanites” that have been traversing the galaxy and studying sentient beings.  Its collective name is Legion and it likes to take up residence in a host’s mind from whence it can observe the subject’s mental processes, supply information (think Google glasses), and make persuasive suggestions to the subject as to the best course of action to take.

    Legion finds us fascinating, but can’t help but meddle in human affairs in order increase the odds that we’ll survive as a species.  Alas, the best laid plans of mice and nanites go oft awry.

What’s To Like...
    The Amazon blurb calls Owl Dance a Weird Western Steampunk novel, and I’m kewl with that.  It takes a bit – 20% or so - for the Steampunk phase to kick in, but it’s worth the wait.  The setting – 1870’s in the American Southwest (primarily in the New Mexico Territory)  – is a pleasant change of pace.  David Lee Summers renders all the American locations in a believable fashion, while avoiding excessive minutiae that would distract from the story.
    There are two main protagonists – one Hispanic (Ramon); the other Persian (Fatemeh) and it’s nice to have non-Eurocentric heroes.  The supporting cast has a bunch of interesting secondary people to meet, among them Professor Maravilla, General Gorloff, Billy McCarty, and last but not least, the Russian chemist Mendeleev.  To boot, Newhall, California gets some ink, which is one of my old hometowns, and yes, it really does have an old refinery right at the edge of town.

    I liked the clever twist on the Biblical ‘Legion’.  There is some violence (soldiers getting blown up by bombs), a single cuss word, and a romance leading to adult situations.  But none of this is enough to not call it a YA novel.  

Kewlest New Word. . .
Curandera  (n.)   :  a healer who uses folk remedies.  (Spanish)

    Ramon looked up and saw Fatemeh as she stepped from the rock enclosure.  She wore a clean, modest black dress, but it clung to her skin because of the moisture.  Her feminine curves were very apparent.  Ramon watched, mesmerized as she stepped over and sat down next to him.
    “You should close your mouth,” she said.  “There are mosquitoes.”  (loc. 610)

    “It is a country of cowboys and loose cannons who have no respect for intellectual pursuits.  The country has been around for a century and I cannot name one decent university or important literary work that has come from there.”
    “I have heard some critics speak highly of a novel called Moby Dick,” ventured the general.
    The scientist waved his hand as though subjected to a bad smell.  “A long-winded book about a madman hunting a whale?  It has no value.  Poe showed some promise, but he was obviously influenced by the French.”  (loc. 2648)

Kindle Details...
    The Kindle version of Owl Dance is no longer offered at Amazon.  The paperback version is available for $10.41.  David Lee Summers has another dozen or so books available at Amazon, in assorted genres.  Most (but not all) are available for the Kindle, and range in price from free to $4.99.  Some of these are short stories; some are full-length novels.

“Good citizens maintain the status quo.  It’s the outlaws and the dreamers who change the world.”  (loc. 5735)
    There are weaknesses.  The storytelling is disjointed, and I felt like the author started each new chapter with no idea where he was going to take it.  The inherent result is a lot of stuff – characters, scenes, side plots, etc. – that is just unnecessary.  Some examples – the pirates, the submarine, the occasional Baha’i preachiness, and even the titular owls.  Do any of these contribute to the main storyline – the Russian invasion?  Ditto for a slew of characters that trot into the story, get named and developed, then exit never to be heard from again.

    There are also some WTF’s.  Apparently the whole invasion force, plus food and supplies, plus bombs and ammunition; can be brought across from western Russia on just two dirigibles.  Wow.  There’s also Fatemeh’s fabulous powers of persuasion – convincing outlaws, pirates, and bounty hunters to instantly change sides.

    The climax - the demise of the airships - is . . .well. . . anticlimactic.  I was expecting an exciting fight scene, with the proviso that firearms could not be used (the airship will go boom); instead there was a bad case of rigor mortis.  Loose ends remain.  Bishop Ramirez & Randolph Dalton are swept aside with a “they better not try anything”; the problem of Legion isn’t even addressed; and the Russian ground troops are still out there.  Lastly, the pirates who just saved the USA are to be deported?  Wow again.

    This is another one of those “it cooda been so much better” books that cries out for a serious rewrite.  For instance, have our heroes win the airships on their own resources, maybe work an owl playing a crucial role.  Legion needs to be defeated, or at least neutralized.  Switch the final battle site to the West Coast; that’s the land the Russians were trying to reclaim in the first place.  Scrap the Baha’i blurbs, they don’t contribute anything.  Dump Dalton/Ramirez and the Pirates/Submarine too; neither thread is needed.  Better yet, save them for a sequel.

    For all that, the Owl Dance still held my interest.  I think David Lee Summers' writing style is strong enough to overcome the storytelling issues.  But just barely.

    6 Stars.  Add ½-star if you happen to be Baha’i.  Subtract ½-star if you happen to be Catholic.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Jefferson Key - Steve Berry

   2011; 508 pages.  (570 pages, if you include the ‘extras’).  Book Six (out of nine, and soon to be ten) in the “Cotton Malone” series.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Action; Thriller.  Overall Rating : 8½*/10.

    The New York City assassination attempt on the president was well-planned.  Two remote-controlled high-powered guns, from upper story hotel windows, in rooms rented a week earlier.  Plus, Cotton Malone set up to be the patsy.

    The thing is, the presidential visit was unannounced, so very few people knew about it beforehand.  That means there’s a leak somewhere.  And bizarrely enough, the perpetrators might be pirates.

    Well, privateers, actually.  It really irks them to be called ‘pirates’. 

What’s To Like...
    As with any Steve Berry novel, the action starts immediately, and never lets up.  There are multiple plotlines going on simultaneously, and a zillion cliffhanger points, which Berry uses to switch from one thread to another.  This scene-shifting can get excessive – sometimes 4 or 5 jumps in two pages – but it is an effective device to keep you wanting to see what happens next.

    There are a slew of plot twists, a slew of government intelligence agencies, and a slew of characters to keep track of.  The bad guys especially can get confusing with regards to who works for who, and that changes occasionally. All the characters are “gray” to some extent.  The POTUS has secrets he’d rather not tell, and even the baddest of the baddies has at least a couple admirable traits.  Jonathan Wyatt is of a particularly fascinating gray hue.

    The Jefferson Key is a standalone novel, but it helps if you’re already familiar with regulars – Cotton, Stephanie, Cassiopeia, and Danny Daniels.  The settings are less exotic than usual – NYC, DC, North Carolina, and Nova Scotia.  There’s just a modicum of swearing, no sex scenes, but there is some graphic violence in the form of a couple torture episodes.

    The more-recent Steve Berry novels always include extras at the end – a Writer’s Note (what’s real and what’s fictional), a short story (here, a 54-page “prequel” adventure spotlighting Wyatt), and a sneak peek at the next book in the series.  The first two are worthwhile reads; I never read the sneak previews.

    He cut a glance at the two antsy agents, who held their position.
    Not to worry, he thought.  Soon you’ll both join the fray.
    He returned his attention to his dinner, a delicious Cobb salad.  His stomach bubbled with anxiety.  He’d waited a long time for this.  Camp by the riverside.  Advice he’d received years ago – and as true as ever.  If you waited by the river long enough, eventually your enemies would float by.  (pg. 206)

    “Do you love her?”
    “Not anymore.”
    The admission shocked her.
    “I haven’t in a long time.  It’s not malice, or hate, or anger.  Just nothing.”
    His mellow tone unnerved her.  She was accustomed to the booming voice.
    “Does she know?”
    “How could she not?”  (pg. 354)

 “Privateers were the nursery of pirates.”  (pg.  102)
    At times The Jefferson Key seemed a bit over the top.  The final, dashing rescue is exciting, but requires a significant suspension of belief; and Cotton has to do some fancy stepping to save the day both in Nova Scotia and North Carolina.  Not all the threads are tied up (but perhaps carry over into the next book?), and one, the “second traitor” thread, just seems to fizzle out.  In spots, it felt like I was reading a Clive Cussler novel, and that is not a plus for me.  I also don’t recall the previous books being so graphically violent, but it’s been a while since my last Cotton Malone book.

    Nevertheless, Steve Berry is my favorite Action-Thriller author, and that hasn’t changed after reading The Jefferson Key.  His style may be formulaic, but he excels at it.  His books are always well-researched and his twists to history are always original and innovative.  The idea of pirates . . . oops, I mean privateers. . . operating in present-day America is totally kewl.

    8½ Stars.  Highly recommended.  Add  ½ star if Dirk Pitt is your kind of hero.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Jackpot! by Jackie Pilossoph

    2011; 323 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Chick-Lit; Romance; Humor.  Overall Rating : 6½*/10.

    Jamie and Danny Jacobson are brother-&-sister, 30-somethings, and both career-oriented.  Jamie wants to be a screenwriter, although for now she plucks ping pong  balls for the Illinois lottery.  Danny aspires to be a Hollywood actor, but for now he has to be content with cheap, local commercials and dressing up like a donut to promote a local vendor.

    Their mom, Francine “Frankie” Jacobson, wants grandkids in the worst way, but neither Jackie nor Danny is in any hurry to make her wish come true.

    But money changes everything.

What’s To Like...
    Jackpot! is a light, quick pleasant read.  It is told from two first-person POV’s – Danny’s and Jamie’s.  The chapters switch back and forth between the two, but Jackie Pilossoph puts the Danny chapters in italics, which is quite helpful.  We follow the romantic undertakings of both protagonists, so the reader is getting two Romances for the price of one.

    Humor also abounds, a lot of which is of the Jewish persuasion since the Jacobsons are Jewish.  For the most part, it is low-key, as opposed to madcap antics.  It works nicely.

    The dual plotlines in Jackpot! are typical for this genre – boy and girl meet, love blossoms, a crisis arises, boy and girl split up, then somehow work through it.  Amor omnia vincit, and all that.  If you savor that formula, you’ll eat up Jackpot!

    But it also means the storyline is very predictable.  You can figure out who’s gonna end up with whom at about 20%, and for me, the book plodded thereafter.  Jackie and Danny may not realize they’re falling in love, but the reader does, and wishes they would hurry up and get a clue.

    There are some plot twists to liven things up, although they tend to be so convenient, they border on being WTF’s.  The ending wraps everything up neatly; you will find it either satisfyingly sweet or cloyingly sweet, depending on your reading tastes.

    “You know what I love about Bonnie?” he gloated.  “She goes along with anything I say.”  Then he kissed her on the lips.  “I love you pookie poo-poo.”
    “Not as much as I love you, pookie pee-pee,” Bonnie answered in a baby voice.
    Nausea came over me.  Pookie what? (. . .)  What language were they speaking”  I wondered.  Pookinese?  (loc. 1197)

    In the dream, there was a knock at my door.  I got up out of bed and answered the door.  He was standing there.
    “Hi,” he said.
    “Dad what are you doing here?”
    “Can I come in?”
    “Uh, sure.  Want to sit down?”
    “Okay.”  My dad sat on the couch and I sat on the loveseat.  “Can I get you anything?  A beer?”
    “I can’t drink anything, Danny.  I’m dead.”  (loc. 2623)

Kindle Details...
    Jackpot! sells for $2.99 at Amazon.  Jackie Pilossoph has three other books available for the Kindle, all of them in the chick-lit genre, and ranging from $2.99 to $6.99.

”Frankie Jacobson has a better chance of winning the lottery than she does of ever becoming a grandmother.”  (loc. 203)
    There are a couple quibbles.  A lot of the wit is couched in Jackie repeatedly stating “I wanted to say (insert wisecrack here) but instead said (something more tactful)”.  For me, that device got old after a while.    Also, there are a couple places where Jackie feels compelled to tell you she isn’t a lesbian.  Come on now, Ms. Pilossoph.  It’s the 21st century.  Are such ‘asides’ really necessary anymore?

    As a male reader, I find it hard to rate a Chick-Lit/Romance book.  Maybe the aforementioned “formula” for writing this kind of book appeals to the genre’s readers, no matter how often it’s used.  Perhaps the end (“they lived happily ever after”) justifies the means (how many WTF’s did it take before Love won out?).  I’ll check with the expert on this – my wife.

    6½ Stars.  Add 1½ stars if you’re female and like chick-lit, thank you very much.  Subtract 1 star if you’d describe yourself as “career-oriented”.