Rumpleville Chronicles presents The Bomb That Followed Me Home

Author-Cevin Soling  Illustrator-Steve Kille

The Rumpleville series are contemporary fables that are replete with social commentary…The fairy tale format highlights the perverse morality of contemporary culture and foiled promised of “happily ever after” endings. 

This was from the press release I received with the book.  I requested the book because I thought it was a children’s book.  I still thought that when I took it out of the mailing envelope and saw a children’s book.  It wasn’t until a few pages into the book that I realized this is not  for kids.  So, of we completely take that off the table I can review it as a book for more mature readers, let’s say teenagers or older.

A boy realizes he is being followed home by a bomb (that hides in the landfills).  As he walks by his neighbors house (the only part of the book I truly enjoyed) he remembers all of the reasons he dislikes them.  Once home there is this

“Suddenly something chafed against my leg.  I glanced down, and there at my feet was the cutest bomb I had ever seen.”

The boy wants to keep it, but his parents won’t let him, relating it to having a dog.  I won’t spoil the end, but really it just made an absurd book bad.  My husband disliked it more than I did.  The illustrations were okay and I suppose kids would enjoy the art.  You would have to make up your own story.

This is book three in the Rumpleville Chronicles.

This was not to my sense of humor (except the neighbor gibberish part), but it would probably appeal to someone with a more twisted sense of humor.  If that person might be you, leave a comment and I’ll mail the book on to you, free of charge.

Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin 1936, by Jeffery Deaver

Cover ImageFinished audio 1-14-09, rating 3.5, fiction, pub. 2004

In this historical novel Paul Shumann is a hit man for the mob who gets caught red-handed and is offered the choice of the electric chair or traveling to Germany to kill one of Hitler’s power men, Reinhard Ernst.  The choice was an easy one and Paul travels to Germany with the Olympic team where cameos by real Olympians, including the hero of the games, Jesse Owens, add interest.  Once Paul reaches Germany he is almost immediately embroiled in a murder that has the Crypto searching Berlin and beyond for the hit man.

The many storylines are compelling.  You get to meet Hitler and other real characters like Himmler and Goring.  The Cryptos search for Paul is a cat and mouse game that forces Paul into the shadows.  There are a few there to help Paul complete his heady task of killing Ernst.  And the men pulling the strings back in New York are not exactly what they seem.  There is also love and national loyalty at play.

This novel has plenty going on and there were many things I really liked about it.  I thought the first two-thirds of the book was a great set-up full of wonderful characters and storylines.  It was interesting to see that some of the police were not Hitler supporters and it added real depth to the real story being enacted Hitler.  Paul’s sense of duty to his job and his interest in righting injustice made him a compelling main character.

As much as I enjoyed the first part of the book I equally did not find the end satisfying.  The wrap up had plenty of twist and turns, which was good, but at the end there still seemed to be a few things left incomplete. 

If this time period intrigues you or you are a Jeffery Deaver fan you should give this book a try.

The Pigman, by Paul Zindel

Cover ImageFinished 1-1-09, rating 4, YA fiction, pub. 1968

“There was no one else to blame anymore…And there was no place to hide-no place across any river for a boatman to take us.  Our life would be what we made of it-nothing more, nothing less.”      -Chapter 15

High School sophomores John and Lorraine like to play phone pranks, but one such call leads them to Angelo Pignati’s front door.  Mr Pignati, aka Pigman because of his collection of pigs, is a lonely old man who has been forgotten and visits his best friend the baboon at the zoo everyday.  Soon the two teenagers become more comfortable at Mr. Pignati’s house than their own more judgemental homes.

Greed and mischief led them to Mr. Pignati’s home and his generosity kept them there, but John and Lorraine gain valuable life lessons through their friendship with the old man.  They are just kids and yet they are faced with the realities of aging, the fragility of life, peer pressure, magic, and the destruction of youth.

I think this book is wonderful.  I like the alternating chapters between John and Lorraine.  The language and the story are so vividly real that even though this was published in the 1960’s it is still relevant for teens today.  It is brutally honest and doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and yet it isn’t without hope.  John and Lorraine are flawed teenagers caught up in misfortune of their own making and Mr. Pigman is a sad man who gains happiness before losing it again. 

I recommend this as a young adult novel, although as a ‘not so young girl’ I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Fault Line, by Barry Eisler

A NovelFinished 12-27-08, rating 4/5, fiction, to be released 2/09

Fault Line is part political thriller and part family drama with enough sexual tension to make it truly compelling.  Ben, an American assassin between assignments, is called back to Silicon Valley by his estranged brother, Alex.  Alex, a big shot patent lawyer, becomes concerned when two people close to him are killed and someone breaks into his house.  The relationship between the two never recovered from the death of their sister when they were all in high school, but they must now find a way to trust each other.

This book hits on many current trends, cyberwarfare and blogs being the most evident.  Even having the love interest, Sarah, be a Iranian-American made the story feel up-to-the-minute. 

I loved the different political views of each of the characters and how it influenced their actions.  I could identify with them all, which is something more people in the government should take the time to do!

I really liked the book and recommend it.  There is a possibility of a sequel and I am hoping it will happen.  I’d love  to read more about the Treven brothers.

Green Goes With Everything, by Sloan Barnett

Cover ImageFinished 12-15-08, rating 3/5, personal/environmental health, pub. 2008

Simple Steps to a Healthier Life and a Cleaner Planet

This is a guide to help you clean up your life.  It covers dirt and germs, babies and everything associated with keeping them healthy, food choices, water, air, energy and more.  Barnett was inspired to become educated in the green movement when her son faced a life threatening asthma attack and she was convinced it was due to environmental triggers.  The chapters contain studies and science back up as well as many websites to help you further your knowledge.

I am not a green zealot, but the small things do irritate me.  Things like rinsing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, bottled water, and not recycling are like nails on a chalkboard, and yet I am terribly remiss is turning the TV off (I like the noise and constant stream of news).  This book does a great job of pointing out some of the big things we miss in our lives that have an impact on our health and the environment.

The main problem with the book is a big one.  Barnett is the wife of Shaklee’s CEO and she makes no apologies in recommending their products at every turn.  The only times she does not recommend Shaklee products is when the company does not have a comparable product.  She did provide studies showing the Shaklee products were best in some of these areas, but it was distracting, annoying, and made me question her judgement when she kept pushing Shaklee.  It seemed odd for a book that wants you to make better choices to give you only one in many areas.

On the whole, I think this is a good book.  I took 2 pages of notes and plan on checking out some of the websites mentioned.  It also had tips for around the house that I plan on trying.  Some of the things I already knew – buy organic, read labels, buy new pots and pans… – but it is always good to be reminded  as I seem to get too busy to pay attention and fall back to some bad habits.

I checked this out of the library and that is my recommendation to you, unless you are not familiar with any of these issues.  Then I’d recommend picking up a copy, just be willing to read a lot of hype about Shaklee products.

Foul Play, by Tori Carrington

Cover ImageFinished 12-13-08, rating 4/5, mystery, pub.2007

Book 3 in the Sophie Metropolis series

Greek-American Sophie Metropolis is back as Astoria, Queen’s newest private investigator.  As a new PI Sophie has yet to prove herself as a the real deal, but when the wife of the Mets star pitcher approaches her Sophie knows this could catapult her into the major leagues.  Sophie pushes the missing pets cases aside and follows Reni Venezuela becoming more and more convinced something is off even as he leads the Mets to the World Series.

Sophie’s wonderful Greek family is as warm and welcoming and pushy as ever.  Sophie hasn’t seen sexy Jake Porter in a month, so when a handsome Greek banker her mother has chosen for her younger sister shows up on Sophie’s doorstep, she cannot resist temptation.  And there is also her ex-fiance making a nuisance of himself by suing her grandfather. 

Sophie Metropolis has been compared to Stephanie Plum (series by Janet Evanovich), and while I love both this is my favorite.  It has the same quirks and colorful characters, but tells the story with more heart.  I care about Sophie and though she is a zany mess now I have hope that one day she’ll pull herself together and get everything she wants.

Something that attracted me to this series in the first place is that fact that Tori Carrington is a husband-wife writing team from Ohio.  The have a great website and contests and if you are on their email list they send fun updates with recipes and polls and lots of extras.

I recommend this series to anyone who likes Janet Evanovich, who is interested in the Greek-American culture, or who is looking for quick, light-hearted read.

Happiness Sold Separately, by Lolly Winston

Cover ImageFinished 12-9-08, rating 4/5, fiction pub. 2006

“Choices.”  Elinor finally says, repeating her mother.  “That’s kind of a fairy tale, you know?”  She leans her head on Beatrice’s bony shoulder.  Elinor has always been pro-choice, but it never occurred to her that one day she’d have no choice.  There are many things you can do later in life, but having a baby isn’t necessarily one of them.”      -Chapter 3

Ted and Elinor have been married for five years, trying to have a child for half of that time.  Their struggle has taken its toll on their marriage and Ted begins an affair with his trainer at the gym.  When Elinor finds out she is devastated.  The two try counseling, but Elinor needs space.  This space leads Ted to continue sleeping with his trainer, Gina. 

This book has a wonderful cast of characters and enough surprises to keep you reading.  I thought all three of the main characters had their moments of too much self-pity, but that’s what made them real.  I was rooting for Elinor and Ted and had sympathy for Gina. 

This book felt honest and true until close to the end.  There was a silly scene that didn’t feel like the rest of the book, but other than that I enjoyed it very much.  It’s hard to tackle infertility, infidelity, a troubled marriage, and single parenting and make it entertaining. 

I read a review at Book Addiction that made me want to read this book and I’m glad I did.  It was a worthwhile read.  I plan on checking out Winston’s first book, Gook Grief.

More reviews-

Heather @ Book Addiction

The Handmaid and the Carpenter, by Elizabeth Berg

Cover ImageFinished listening to 12-8-08, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 2006

This is the love story of Mary and Joseph.  We meet them as they meet each other and declare their intentions toward one other.  Mary is a brazen 13 year old girl who is visited by an angel and Joseph is an uncompromising 16 year old who lacks the faith to believe in the miracle of Mary’s Christ child.  This is their story and although it obviously includes Jesus the story ends with Joseph’s passing.

I listened to this on cd read by the author and thought it was a nice story for the season.  I think Berg took great liberties with the story, but for a short holiday read it was enjoyable.  It would be a nice gift for the sometime reader who doesn’t mind that Mary and Joseph might seem a but too human.

Ishmael:An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, by Daniel Quinn

Cover ImageFinished 12-6-08, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 1992

“TEACHER seeks pupil.  Must have an earnest desire to save the world.  Apply in person.”   -Chapter 1

The narrator of this book answers this ad in the local paper and finds a full-grown gorilla, Ishmael, waiting for him in an office.  Ishmael and the narrator can talk to each other and Ishmael shares the truth about the history of the world and mankind.  The narrator is a willing, if somewhat daft, student and becomes convinced that everything the gorilla says is true, from his take on overpopulation and how it relates to feeding starving people to the destructive things Mother Culture teaches us that are ruining the planet.

Jason and I read this together and it took us over 6 months and not because it was long!  This book is an overly repetitive philosophy lesson.  It has some really interesting and thought-provoking ideas, but went out of the way to repeat each idea ten different ways so that it made me feel like I was back in school with a bad teacher.  There was no plot or storyline to follow, just a guy listening to a gorilla tell him what was wrong with the world and how to fix it. 

Okay, so if I disliked it so much why did I give it 3 stars?  The ideas themselves were good.  It didn’t necessarily change my view of the world, but it did reinforce some of what I already believed about man’s need to conquer the world at any cost.  Jason’s favorite part was the retelling of the Cain & Abel story to fit the philosophies of Ishmael. 

If you are looking for a good story, skip it.  If you want to be exposed to different ideas about the our society and the world I think you’ll probably get a lot out the book.  It won the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship , a half million dollar prize, when it was published.

Sundays at Tiffany’s, by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

Cover ImageFinished 12-1-08, fiction, rating 3.5/5, pub. 2008

“Please don’t leave me, Michael.  I’m begging you.  You can’t – not now, not ever!  You don’t know how important you are to me!”

“You’ll see, Jane,” he promised her.  “You’ll forget me, and it won’t hurt tomorrow.  Besides, you said it yourself: Love means you can never be apart.  So we’ll never be apart, Jane, because Iove you so much.  I’ll always, always love you.”

And with those words, Michael began to fade out of the room, in imaginary friend-style…”     -Chapter 7

Jane was a lonely child with a successful but neglectful mother.  Jane’s imaginary friend, Michael, gave her friendship and love before he had to leave her on her 9th birthday.  Fast forward 23 years and Jane has never forgotten Michael, achieving her own success by putting their story on the Broadway stage.  Even with this success she is still a lonely girl who never feels good enough.  Michael is between assignments and sees Jane on the New York streets and decides to follow her.  Michael is shocked to find out that Jane remembers him, something that has never happened before.

This is a fast read (I finished it in a day) and one that will open your imagination.  Who doesn’t want to have an imaginary friend whose sole purpose is to make them happy?  I was prepared to put my disbelief out in the snow while I cozied up to a lighthearted read.  It did tickle my imagination in a light, if not superficial way.  Michael was the perfect man and Jane was a normal girl who had never stopped loving him.  I even got past the fact that somehow Michael never aged, so when he was friends with an 8 year old girl he was the same age as when he fell in love with the same girl 23 years later.

The ending ruined much of the magic, for me at least.  I won’t ruin it for you, but I was disappointed because it felt lazy.  It could have been powerful or poignant, but it was…boring and short on explanation.  I liked the book and maybe not everyone will have a problem with the ending.  Total romantics will love it.  I consider myself more of a romantic realist, so I was a bit disappointed.  Overall it was a fun read with lots of potential, but one I’ve already rewritten in my head a half dozen ways and liked better!