Monthly Archives: December 2008

Rebel in Blue Jeans

51497bjvz2l__sl500_aa240_Rebel in Blue Jeans 
Author: Beverly Stowe McClure
Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Reviewed by: Cheryl Malandrinos


Rebel’s life is in turmoil. Her mother ran off with a drummer, leaving her father distraught and distracted; her friend Will seems to be wanting more than just friendship, and an older guy has taken a sudden interest in her. What should she do?

Young adult readers, especially those who love animals will find many things to appreciate in Rebel in Blue Jeans by Beverly Stowe McClure.

When Rebel’s mother decides to take off with Bo, a drummer in a rock band, she feels unwanted and alone. What is so exciting about city life anyway? Rebel trudges through the days on the ranch with the help of her best friends, Will and Sully, and spends a great deal of time talking with her animals to help relieve her frustrations. And while she’s not sure exactly how she feels about Rick, she’s caught off guard when Will seems to be wanting more than friendship from her.

When her mother calls and wants Rebel to come visit Bo and her for the summer, Rebel is determined to hate him and convince her mother to come back home. Can Rebel bring her family back together? And if she can ever believe in love again, is it Will or Rick who will capture her heart?

This is a quick and easy read, but it’s certainly not short on conflict. McClure has woven together an interesting plot and a strong and complex heroine to create a story that will be enjoyed by young adults everywhere.

Tackling the difficult subjects of separation and divorce, the desire young people have to see their parents reunited, making decisions regarding boys, and finding your way in an uncertain world, Rebel in Blue Jeans provides readers with a heroine they will love for her spunk and get frustrated with over her stubbornness.

Rebel in Blue Jeans is an inspiring and entertaining read that would make a great gift for your teen reader…whether she’s a rebel or not.


Filed under Young Adult Fiction


Author: David S. Grant
Publisher: Offense Mechanisms

Rating:   + half
Reviewed by:  Gary Mack

This raw, irreverent, raunchy, and vile saga on the party exploits of a Harvard graduate and his nitwit friends reads like the daily script from a Howard Stern radio show. With most of the dialogue beginning with the word, “Dude”, and the scenes taking place inside Wisconsin bars, the dual novel, “Bleach/Blackout,” is limited in its scope to character observations and juvenile sex talk. Though David S. Grant’s intent is to parody the social circuits of our latest generation, there are only so many tavern and sex scenes one can take in a row! On top of that, with the amount of legal and illegal drugs the main character popped in his mouth, I felt like I lapsed into a drug-induced coma by the fifth chapter.


It’s clear that Grant has the ability to be funny but he doesn’t know when to stop. He often over uses a line, like when he makes an observation about a woman at the airport who claims she will only drink Starbucks. The first time around, the insight left me with a scant chuckle. After the airport scene, every time a person ordered a coffee in the book, I had a strong hunch that the next line was going to make some reference to Starbucks. How funny can that be the tenth time around?


There are many other instances of this overplay, like the constant jabs at the band, “Wham,” George Michael, Gap shirts and married homeowners. Worst of all, there’s a running commentary from the narrator, though you clearly know it’s the author’s view, on the post 9/11 terror alerts. These attempts at satire sorely stick out and are as butchered as a joke on amateur night.


Grant decides to write the story in the first person present tense – always the most difficult of tasks. Often he mixes his verb tenses, like when his friend is shot and he writes, “… she was dead by the time she hit the floor.” Interspersed within the story are past tense vignettes on the drinking, smoking, and sexual exploits of the gang at New Year Eve parties. Though the parties are chronicled by the year, to me, they all seemed pretty much the same. 


Without a plot, the ending is a stretch. Though Grant is capable of writing believable conversations and he flushes out his characters fairly well, his writing lacks any lyrical or metaphorical buoyancy.


Simply put, this is not a novel that emerges on any front. Yes, Mr. Grant shows glimpses of brilliance and wit but he needs to contain himself and polish up his craft before he publishes again.      

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Filed under Literary Fiction

Born Liberal, Raised Right

born_liberal_raised_rightBorn Liberal, Raised Right: How to Rescue America from Moral Decline–One Family at a Time
Author: Reb Bradley
Publisher: WND Books

Reviewed by:  Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Are you tired of hearing of all the crime on our streets lately? Does it make you weary to watch the news or read it online? Are you concerned about the direction America is headed but not quite sure how it got so bad in the first place?

If you answered, yes, to any or all of these questions, then Born Liberal, Raised Right should be the next book you purchase.

In this engaging and informative book, author Reb Bradley discusses how the future of America is threatened by adults “stuck in their ‘terrible twos'”. Based upon Bradley’s personal experience as a pastor and counselor, in addition to a wealth of research, the author provides a sound argument that America’s moral decline is the result of overindulgent parents not providing their children with the self-control they need to become successful members of society. Bradley contends that parents who overindulge their children, fix all their problems, and refuse to allow their children to experience the consequences of their actions, foster young people who become adults who feel entitled to have everything they want and cannot accept life’s disappointments.

The author states that we are born with certain tendancies: a desire for self-gratification, lack of self-control, and subordination to our emotions. And it is these traits that parents must consistently help their children rein in if they are ever going to escape feelings of entitlement and the desire to always play the victim and avoid blame. Bradley also goes on to state that “magical thinking”, unchecked emotion, and an inability to deny yourself anything are traits that are “the very hallmark of liberalism”. Misplaced liberal compassion creates problems in America; it doesn’t fix them.

Well thought out, easy to read, and captivating, Bradley has penned an excellent book that could make a difference in the future of America. Liberals will probably hate it and conservatives will tout his wisdom, but in the end Bradley is truly believeable as a man who wants to preserve the American family and inspire parents to bring up inspriring and motivational leaders who will move the country to new heights of moral greatness.

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Filed under Current Events, Politics

When Life Stinks, It’s Time to Wash the Gym Clothes

When Life Stinks, It’s Time to Wash the Gym Clothes
Author: Kelly Epperson
Publisher: Rockford Writer’s Guild

Reviewed by: Cheryl Malandrinos


If you are looking for the perfect gift for the Mom on your list, then look no further than When Life Stinks, It’s Time to Wash the Gym Clothes by Kelly Epperson.

A compilation of Epperson’s columns that have appeared in a variety of newspapers, When Life Stinks is an often humorous look at life, aging, motherhood, and world events.

From traveling down memory lane to the hazards of parenting, from 9/11 to the death of Princess Diana, and from Live Aid to living in France, When Life Stinks will have you saying, “Yes! Finally there is someone who understands.” Epperson talks about the making and breaking of New Year’s resolutions and being a “gum junkie”. You’ll laugh right along with her as she discusses how JcPenney might have discovered that 8 out 10 women are wearing the wrong bra size and the fad of girls wearing sweatpants with words plastered across their behinds.

Granted, I may have related more to this book than a younger reader because Epperson and I are close enough in age that I recognized the name of almost every band or musician mentioned, but most of the themes flowing through When Life Stinks are universal and can be appreciated by a diverse group of readers.

A great debut for Kelly Epperson. I can’t wait to see what she’s up to next.

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Filed under Humor