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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Jeffrey Reiner has been laid off from his job at a South Florida newspaper where he has had the title of Universal Calendar Editor for the past 16 years. He has exactly 147 days of severance pay, but he is in no hurry to get back to work. He knows he has to take any opportunity that comes his way, no matter how humbling or embarrassing. A guy who calls himself “enterprising dude” hooks him up with a couple short term humiliating and degrading assignments.
Through all of this, Jeffrey’s family life is unravelling. His wife communicates to him via daily to-do lists, his teenage daughter has no use for him, and his son has taken up a disturbing form of pest control. His mother is trying her outrageous best to get kicked out of an assisted living facility. Even his dog finds a way to let him down.
What follows is a very funny journey of self discovery and a look into the absurdities of life.
Written in first person prose, the writing is so comfortable and laid back one feels that the author is really the main character, Jeffrey.
Full of whimsy, dry humor and surprising insight, I thoroughly enjoyed joining Jeffrey on his journey.
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Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer manage to do it again in their latest book Wild Ride. With action, adventure, and quirky characters, the paranormal storyline take the reader on one heck of a trip.

Dreamland, an old amusement park in Ohio, needs some work. Mab has been working her butt off restoring the park to it’s former glory. Her goal is to have it shining for the Halloween celebrations. But it is a little strange that the owners and long time residents Gloria, Gus, and Delpha don’t want her working at night. And they are a bit anxious when she is working with the statues of the park mascots. Especially after FunFun the clown seems to run her over – or was that an illusion she had? Maybe she has been working too hard.

Gloria’s son Ethan returns from the military and gets shot at on the Dreamland grounds. Who is after the Dreamland residents? And what is up with the midnight roller coaster run? His mom keeps talking about demons. Ethan might just have to sober up to figure this all out. What do you mean he’s the new Hunter?

Using humor, and great plotting, Crusie and Mayer lead the reader down the path to figuring out just how paranormal this family park is. With twists and turns galore, it is indeed a roller coster of a ride. Great dialogue and lots of frothy fun! And it makes one want to visit Dreamland for real! A great read.
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As an Anglophile, I guess my most deep, dark fantasy (no, NOT that kind) is that I will find out that I was switched at birth…and that my real parents are British! Trust me…this is not an insult to my American parents. They would be MORE than happy to trade me to an unsuspecting couple across the pond. But, alas, my fantasy is just that…fiction. Well, in this novel, the first by stand-up comedienne/actress Alison Larkin, the main character, Pippa, is raised by British adoptive parents in England but finds out that her biological parents are truly American. This immediately makes sense to Pippa, since she’s always considered herself something of an American-phile but most importantly, she is NOTHING like most the British people around her. This information propels Pippa on a quest to find her true identity and the reasons for all of her non-British idiosyncrasies. Larkin, herself, is a biological American and adoptive Brit, so the story resonates very true. Larkin’s writing style is sharp and witty and Pippa is a truly engaging and highly enjoyable character. We want her to be happy…whether in America or England. For me, I will just keep searching for that one day when I find my true parents…and I’m able to go home where I belong…England! Sorry mom and dad.

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I love dogs. I own a dog. Often, I like him more than about 90% of the people I know. I also enjoy books about the relationships between men and their dogs. Especially when the gruff guy shows a kinder, gentler side to his personality as a result of the actions of his dog.

One of the best “guy/dog” books I have read is “Merle’s Door” by Ted Kerasote. It is a wonderful true story that is sensitive without being sappy.

Although I love the “guy/dog” books, I know that they will never end well. The dog always dies.
About two-thirds of the way into the book, the guy finds “a lump” on the dog’s leg, or the dog develops this phlegmy cough. You know you are pages away from uncontrollable sobbing…. by both you and the guy.

So, it was with delight that I picked up the latest book by Dean Koontz noted for his suspenseful raw thrillers. Koontz and his wife, following years of consideration, adopt a three-year-old golden retriever from Canine Companions, an organization that provides service dogs to those in need. The dog was on “early retirement” as a result of an elbow surgery. The book, a memoir of his 9-years with the dog, is about as far away from his usual shocking tales as one can get. I knew Koontz had an affinity for “goldens” as they are characters in many of his books, and his book jackets show a picture of him with a “golden”.
Koontz delights in the mundane, day-to-day activities of “Trixie” to the point of some degree of boredom from this reader. It is also could be a little uncomfortable for the reader when he refers to Trixie as “my little girl” or tells her “your mom and I are so proud of you”. But maybe that’s because you do not expect that form of emotion from someone whose stories are otherwise so dark and chilling. Koontz also takes anthropomorphism to an extreme, but as a dog owner and lover I found it acceptable.
This book definitely shows another side of Koontz, and in the end…..I sobbed uncontrollably.

 

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This is a great, funny mystery, ala Hiaasen. Schreck has a strong writing style, a knack for developing fresh, fun characters and a witty, droll sense of humor that compliments the darkness of the subject matter (in this case child porn and a child sex ring). His main character, Duffy Dombrowski, is a rude, crude, messy social worker/amateur sleuth who is someone you want to keep reading about. I hope this series continues and continues….

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