The idea of this book is great: a man who is about to have his 100th birthday party escapes from his retirement home and embarks on a series of hilarious and dangerous adventures.  And, for the most part, it is funny.  But, it is also told in two time periods…the present day (where the man is 100) and the past (where the man in younger but still having adventures).  I LOVED the present day parts.  They are well-written and VERY funny…sardonic, sarcastic, and very, very dark in its humor.  But, the flashbacks to the past are…part funny, part endearing, and part history lesson.  After a while, all of the histrionics of the flashbacks begins to take its toll.  I wanted more (all) of the present day story.

The flashbacks play out more like Being There (the film and originally the Jerzy Kosinski book) and Forrest Gump…where the man, Allan and his life and works alter segments of history, such as Los Alamos, actual events in China, North Korea, etc., where he seemed to have no trouble affecting international politics just by being himself.  Aside from being in the “thick” of things politically (President Truman was a good friend), Allan was also high adventurous and enterprising as a young man (he walked back to his homeland of Sweden over the Himalayas after his involvement in the Far East was over.  So, the flashbacks part was a overly unbelievable and less funny than the antics of the 100-year-old Allan and his group of misfits.  These misfits include a thief who befriends Allan shortly after his “escape” from the retirement home, a hot dog cart owner (who also has a car that comes in handy), a home owner who just happens to own the house Allan and his crew stumble upon (the home owner is also the owner of a stolen/found elephant), and eventually a crime lord.  If you want a funny, lively and truly entertaining read, try this one.  Skim the flashbacks (they are funny in parts…just too long) but savor the present-day adventures of a 100-year-old man. 
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This is my first novel from Chicago-area novelist Laura Caldwell and I loved it.  It’s fun and light, but it has enough oomph to surpass romances and other lighter chick lit fair.  Caldwell’s writing style is easy going and breezy, just like the story here, which revolves around three friends who have been pals for years but are going through a “seven-year itch” in their friendship. The storyteller of the book, Casey, has been in a relationship for a while and that has changed the friendships she has. So, all three friends decide to take a trip to Italy and Greece to have fun and re-bond, but things begin to go awry quite quickly.  So, basically, you have the best of both worlds here…travel and light romance.  It’s fun and entertaining, while never being too fluffy.  Another author for me to savor! 

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A fun tale with an interesting weave of supernatural to change things up a bit. Tilly is bored with her life and her high school sweetheart husband and their inability to get pregnant is a constant source of contention. On a whim, Tilly visits a psychic, who happens to be a former friend, and this fortune teller warns her that she possesses the gift of “clarity.” Not believing in any of the psychic stuff, she initially ignores the fortune, but soon she begins to have day dreams where she foresees what is about to happen in her life. After these flashes of future vision, Tilly’s life begins to take turns she never imagined. This is the second book I’ve read by Winn Scotch, the first being The Department of Lost and Found. She is a strong writer who enjoys taking chances.

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The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle is a fun, light wine mystery set mostly in the South of France that will get your taste buds all set for a good bottle of vino! Not really a true “mystery” (there is a caper element towards the end of the book) but rather more of a breezy whodunit where the end result is no where near as much fun as the finding-out-who part. Mayle (of A Year in Provence fame) knows how to write great characters with wonderful inter-play and chemistry…making this almost as much fun as an episode of Moonlighting (the TV show from the 1980s). And the setting of Marseilles, rural Provence, Paris, and even Los Angeles make for a perfect backdrop to this entertaining romp about stolen wine.

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