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Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Boychik Lit Book Awards - Great Gifts!

Boychik Lit Book Reviews - No. 16


Just in time for your holiday book shopping, here are the Boychik Lit Book Awards for 2014. These are books by authors I know personally and who have given me the generous gift of their time, attention, and suggestions. So, grab a ballpoint because you’ll want to add these to your list and check 'em twice:
  • In the category of mystery and crime fiction, For Whom the Shofar Blows: A Rabbi Ben Mystery by Marvin J. Wolf. Get this one for fans of Walter Mosley and Michael Connelly.
  • For mind-bending short stories with a metaphysical twist, it’s Meeting God or Something Like It by Morrie Ruvinsky. Just the brain food for a train ride or while waiting at the airline gate.
  • My kudos for outstanding family relationship drama go to Black Cow by Magdalena Ball. A dysfunctional family from an upscale suburb in Australia moves to a farm and tries to build a new life. And you thought you had problems.
  • For historical romantic fiction, get For the King by Catherine Delors. Intrigue and passion in early nineteenth century Paris. Just the page-turner for a cold night in February.
  • For political satire, read The Man Who Loved Too Much by John D. Rachel. He’s a wise cynic who rants against the follies inevitably committed by all kinds of authority, from family heads to heads of state.
  • In the realm of personal relationships, I recommend Never Kiss a Frog: A Girl’s Guide to Creatures in the Dating Swamp by Marilyn Anderson. Uh, the title pretty much says it all.
  • For outstanding achievement in science fiction, The Man Who Would Not Die by Thomas Page. If you dream about immortality, be careful what you ask for.
  • And in the category of children’s books, Tell Mommy a Story by Jim and Jean Anton, a picture ebook for toddlers, available on iTunes.
For Boychik Lit, I’m Gerald Everett Jones. My new books are Mr. Ballpoint about the wacky Pen Wars of 1945 and Christmas Karma about an unhappy family during the holidays, narrated by an angel with a weird sense of humor. To get the complete list of these books, download the podcast at Boychik.com.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

All Three of Rollo's Misadventures Now in Kindle for a Buck

My holiday gift to fans of Rollo. Priced at 99 cents through the holidays, ALL THREE comic novels combined in one Kindle. (No paper, think green.)

So if you have a Kindle and are taking a trip, load it up! If you get a new Kindle, let this one be your first download! Buying three ebooks separately would cost almost 15 bucks. So for just one buck, you get My Inflatable Friend, Rubber Babes, and Farnsworth's Revenge. 

And you get to find out how failing upward can be so painful it's funny. It's boychik lit - a story about a young man with more chutzpah than brains. Young men identify, mature men sympathize, and woman of any age just love to see this guy go splat. 

Grab it now, because in January the list price goes back up! http://amzn.to/1zNdAZJ

"The Mackerel Plaza" by Peter De Vries

Boychik Lit Book Review - No. 15


Here’s my book review of The Mackerel Plaza by Peter De Vries. I credit humorist and poet Peter De Vries as the godfather of boychik lit, or comedies about boys and men who are less than careful with their life choices, particularly their choices of romantic partners.

The Mackerel Plaza is one of the funniest books you will ever read. That is, provided you have a sense of humor about both religion and the lusts of the flesh. Rev. Mackerel, respected leader of the People’s Liberal Church in suburban Connecticut, has a problem. His saintly wife has recently passed away. But that’s not the problem. He suspects she’s enjoying a better life. But while he’s still on Earth, he’d like to remarry. And, conveniently enough, he’s been secretly dating the church secretary, Miss Calico. There’s a double irony here. First, his congregation is so respectful of his wife’s legacy that they wish to erect a new shopping mall named in her honor – the Mackerel Plaza. Secondly, the preacher rightly worries that, even if his flock were to eventually approve of his intention to marry Miss Calico, the couple would have to wait years to set the date – not until the plaza is built, the dedication is done, and the luster of his wife’s postmortem fame begins to fade.

A humorous novel must have an engine of comedy. That is, a situation that is both ridiculous and impossible to maintain, which generates conflict, embarrassment, and laughter. An outwardly righteous man who harbors secret lusts is just such a formula. Certainly, men and women of the cloth have the same urges and flaws as the rest of us, but in someone whose social position is exalted, discovering their hypocrisies gives them farther to fall. And we do love it when our comic characters go splat.

The Mackerel Plaza was published in 1958, back when making fun of straying fundamentalist preachers wasn’t politically incorrect. Author De Vries grew up in the Dutch Reformed church in Chicago and yea those strictures gave the guy a real cramp in the you-know-where, so painful it's hysterical.

For Boychik Lit, I’m Gerald Everett Jones. I think you’ll enjoy my new humorous novel Christmas Karma about the travails of a dysfunctional family around the holidays, narrated by an angel who has a wicked sense of humor. Main character Willa Nawicki is bewildered by a series of curious karmic events that literally ring her doorbell during the frantic season, awakening years-old resentments and stimulating ever-more-intense personal confrontations. These bizarre visitations include a grizzled old man claiming to be her father, who has been missing for some thirty years but now says the title to the family home is in his name – and now he wants the place back.

As the angel observes, “The surest way to invoke the laughter of the universe is to make plans, particularly devious ones.”.

Christmas Karma would make a great gift for yourself or anyone tends to get the blues this time of year.

And be sure to catch these podcasts on BoychikLit.com.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese

Boychik Lit Book Review - No. 14


Here’s my book review of Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

The book’s title refers to a pledge in the Hippocratic Oath, "I will not cut for stone." Although the original meaning had to do with not removing bladder stones, it would perhaps be more relevant to today's medicine for a new doctor to promise, "I won't perform treatments just for the sake of making money.”

So, it’s all about ethical choices and doing the right thing.

The story flows from the unlikely and surprising birth of a pair of twin boys, Marion and Shiva, by an Indian-born nun, Sister Mary Praise, in Ethiopia in the 1950s. The father is an English surgeon, Thomas Stone, who heads the field clinic. The story is narrated by Marion. It’s about Marion’s finding his way in the world as he grows up, his identity both bonded to and becoming separate from Shiva, and eventually becoming a surgeon himself. The boys’ mother dies from the difficult birth, and their father abandons them. It’s a story about family, community, betrayal, parental love and estrangement, sibling bonding and rivalry, personal bravery, not-so-uncommon acts of kindness, the heroic practice of medicine, suffering and compassion--and irony. Things just don’t turn out in the ways you’d expect.

Author Abraham Verghese is likewise a practicing surgeon, now living in the U.S., who grew up in Ethiopia. His account seems autobiographical, but much of it is invented, as he explains in detail in his Acknowledgments.

I heard him speak at a book signing at an Ethiopian restaurant in Los Angeles, and he mentioned that he admires W. Somerset Maugham. This book does remind me of Maugham’s Cakes and Ale, including the crafting of its sentences. Maugham also studied medicine, and Vergehese has said that Of Human Bondage was one of the books that motivated him to become a doctor.
Verghese also said in an interview that “a book is a life you live without giving your life.” You probably never thought about how challenging it would be to practice medicine in a place like Ethiopia, but here’s your chance.

For Boychik Lit, I’m Gerald Everett Jones. I think you’ll enjoy my humorous novels Mr. Ballpoint and Christmas Karma. And you can catch these podcasts on BoychikLit.com.

Monday, December 1, 2014

"The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt

Boychik Lit Book Reviews - No. 14


Here’s my book review of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

This is a story about art theft and romantic obsession. Main character Theodore Decker is very much the boychik – a young man with more ambition than brains. So it’s a coming-of-age story, as well, full of his personal introspection and psychological turmoil.

Be warned – plot spoilers ahead.

Young Theo and his mother duck into a New York museum in the rain and are caught in a terrorist bomb blast. His mother is killed, but he is one of the few survivors. Another fatality is a cultured old man named Welty, who was at the museum with his pretty young ward Pippa. She’s close to Theo’s age and also survives, but with some debilitating injuries. She will become the unrequited love of his life. Before Welty expires next to Theo in the rubble, he gives him his signet ring and tells him to take this small painting – The Goldfinch – a Dutch Master picture of a bird chained to its perch. Theo takes on the mission to keep the painting safe.

That’s as much of the story as I’ll give away. There’s a lot more – this is a big book. The novel owes a lot to Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past and Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, and it mentions both. The underlying philosophical questions are broad and deep: Why is there evil in the world? What is the point of living? And what do we owe to history? to future generations?

A literary agent told me that author Donna Tartt refuses to be edited. Like I say, it’s a long book. It topped the bestseller lists for a while, and clearly many of her readers hoped it would be worth the time invested.

As for me, I applaud its ambitions, but I do think less would have been more.

For Boychik Lit, I’m Gerald Everett Jones. My new humorous novels are Mr. Ballpoint and Christmas Karma. And you can catch these podcast book reviews on BoychikLit.com.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Holiday Book Giveaways

Drawing for Free Books Ends Thursday (Thanksgiving) Evening

LaPuerta Books and Media is giving away five copies each of Gerald Everett Jones's recently released books, Mr. Ballpoint and Christmas Karma.



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Mr. Ballpoint by Gerald Everett Jones

Mr. Ballpoint

by Gerald Everett Jones

Giveaway ends November 27, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Christmas Karma by Gerald Everett Jones

Christmas Karma

by Gerald Everett Jones

Giveaway ends November 27, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"The Beginner's Goodbye" by Anne Tyler

Boychik Lit Book Reviews - No. 13

Here’s my book review of The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler.

It’s a story about love and sudden, tragic loss. Some fans complain it’s too short. So read it twice. The second time through, slow down. Marvel at Anne Tyler's spare style. And ask yourself why it's not the same as other authors who limit themselves to twenty-word sentences, no more than two clauses per. It could be plain-vanilla tenth-grade stuff. It could be boring and insipid. But there's something else going on here. Something gets said between the lines. It could baffle you trying to figure it out. I think it's all about logic and thought flow. Your brain has to supply what's skipped over. She trains you not only to read, but also to think and to feel.

Her main character here is a middle-aged widower. To all appearances, he’s a jerk, easier to sympathize with because he has a disability. But he's using the disability as an excuse not to relate to people. "Don't give me any help" is his self-fulfilling proclamation. He justifies himself to himself, as we all do, even when he knows he's behaving selfishly.

Forgiving all her characters, even the stinkers, is an Anne Tyler trademark. Her writing is a loving, angel’s eye view of the human condition.

I wrote my new novel, Christmas Karma, especially for fans of Anne Tyler. Old heartaches come knocking the week before the holiday, in a story told by an angel with a weird sense of humor. Particularly if you tend to get the blues this time of year, this book will lift your spirits.

For Boychik Lit, I’m Gerald Everett Jones. Catch these podcasts at BoychikLit.com.