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Jess Walter's new novel, Beautiful Ruins, begins on the banks of a sleepy Italian town once named for its proliferation of prostitutes, while a young man recently returned home moves sand around, trying to make a beach to attract American tourists to his family's hotel.
This man, Pasquale, has illusions of grandeur, which endears and endangers him equally, and each character in Walter's book seems to have their own vision of reality which may or may not align with actual life. As though each of us constructs realities which become admirable and yet, impossible. Beautiful ruins. But in this novel, the title works on many levels.
The story moves back and forth in time, from Hollywood of the 1960s and the isolated Italian village where news of movie stars seeps in, to current day, when modern notions of celebrity and success can dilute even the purest of artistic sensibilities.
Walter's style is vivid and Technicolor, each scene painted with practiced hands. There are moments of wisdom, moments of great feeling. A good book makes you stop and close your eyes, savoring description. A good book will cause you to marvel at its construction, at each diligently crafted piece and the way they fit together. A good book will make you say "I wish I wrote that" many, many times. And a good book will keep you awake after you finish, thinking about the many threads of its tapestry, synapses in your brain firing and refiring. Beautiful Ruins is a very, very good book. I loved it.
Mary Vensel White, author of The Qualities of Wood
I work in the medical industry, and could not do my job nearly as well without this book. I have to find crosswalk codes for invalid codes that are billed by medical providers, and this is the book to have for that. You simply look up the billed code, read the description, and find something similar that is valid for payment.
In HIGH FIVE, the fifth in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, Stephanie hits a new high in dysfunctionality when it comes to men.
Plum is a klutzy bond enforcement agent, i.e. bounty hunter, working for bail bondsman and sleazy cousin, Vinnie, in Trenton, NJ. In this book, Stephanie's official assignment takes back seat to a family request to find Uncle Fred, who's disappeared. But what's with the photos Uncle Mabel found in Fred's desk of a plastic garbage bag containing a dismembered body? Photography wasn't Fred's hobby.
In HIGH FIVE, Plum is beset with Briggs, Bunchy, Ramirez, Morelli, and Ranger. And that's just for starters. Briggs is a midget that becomes Plum's unwelcome houseguest after the latter's zeal for fugitive apprehension results in an unfortunate incident. The mysterious Bunchy also wants to find Fred, and is following Stephanie around. Ramirez, a psycho rapist that Plum helped put away in book one, is now back on the streets and wants revenge.
But the real core of the novel is Stephanie's lack of a sex life - a condition that's now reaching the critical stage. Plum has prurient yearnings for Joe Morelli, a distant relative and Trenton undercover cop - that is, when she's not hating his guts for being totally exasperating in the way males often are. After all, twelve years ago he did take her virginity behind the eclair counter of the pastry shop in which she was working. Then there's Ranger, the Cuban-American, bounty hunter extraordinaire who's Stephanie's sometime mentor and now, to her distraction, the occasional stud muffin of her fevered dreams. Our heroine has a yen for Bad Boys, and both Morelli and Ranger can be that, especially when they dress in black.
As one would expect in a continuing series, the author must ratchet up the wackiness of Stephanie's life a notch with each succeeding volume. Through the first five books, she's managed to do this without stretching my credulity beyond the breaking point. Plum is just one of those girls with excruciatingly bad karma. I'm beginning to anticipate, though, a plot where Evanovich tries too hard. We'll see, because I intend to read all of the series - 5 more installments as of this review.
At the conclusion of HIGH FIVE, Stephanie succumbs to the need for a night of lovin', writes the names of Morelli and Ranger on separate pieces of paper, mixes them in a bowl, closes her eyes and picks one, summons the winner after showing his name to her pet hamster Rex, puts on a killer-sexy black dress, and waits for her man of the night to arrive. The reader won't know who got lucky until it's revealed in the prologue of HOT SIX. Rex and I know, but we're not telling.
If a Stephanie Plum book was to be made into a film, Sandra Bullock would be absolutely perfect in the title role.
I couldn't wait to launch myself into the sequel to Divergent, and it proved to be as good as I was hoping it would be.
I like a story when I can tell some things that are going to happen (which keeps my faith in certain characters) and when other things come as a shock. I experienced that while reading this book. It was the most enjoyable read I've had for some time.
Now I've just got to wait for book three! :-(
I like the Rick Steve's series of Kindle books to take with us on our trips and this one of Ireland proved to be just as helpful. It's great having access to the book on our trip and, as with most Rick Steve's books, it presents a lot of valuable and useful information while traveling. We found his advice on driving in Ireland to be be especially helpful, since we had never driven a car with the steering wheel on the right......as well as driving on the left side of the road.