Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiter Rant

My Rating: 5/5
Pages:302  • Speed: Very Fast and Funny
Subject: Cynical Real-Life Job

Have you ever wondered what the waiter thinks when you ask for a different table, stiff him on the tip, or act like you are God's gift to the restaurant? Well now you do. Waiter Rant is the front of the restaurant version of Kitchen Confidential, and is a must read for anyone attempting civility eating outside their own confines. Believe me, after you see what these guys go through, you will want to give them at least a 25% tip every time (unless they're incompetent.) Waiter Rant began as a blog written in secret by a New York waiter revealing restaurant stories that sharpen your pupils and leave you speechless. That lead to his instant New York Times bestseller which landed him interviews with Oprah & Matt Lauer. His proven ability to write creates readability you'll finish before dessert and want to share at the table. Beware of the potty-mouth, as in-the-field-type language is unabashed. I am definitely buying his new book, Keep the Change, about the world of tipping and how to become its "guru".

Check out his blog here. Still hilarious and spot on.
Both books available there with links to major booksellers.

Personal Note: My husband was in the tipping world of valet parking for 6 years, so I can understand the frustration and outpour of stories from the service end. These guys are people; we seem to forget that when they're picking up our keys or delivering our plate. Last month while visiting my sister in Ohio, I picked Waiter Rant up at a unique bookstore called The Book Loft of German Village. I'm so glad I did. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Florence of Arabia

My Rating: 4.5/5
Pages: 272 • Speed: Fast
Subject: Satirical Thriller
"...a blistering comic novel sure to offend the few it doesn’t delight" (B&N.COM).

Christopher Buckley's spot-on pun of dysfunctional world-Saudi-American relations gives the reader both a laugh and heart-aching reality check. Widely gutsy and hilariously understood, his ironic parallels of warped-Islamic culture leaves a shocking mark of intrigue regarding the women of our oil providers. For example, an executioner reduces a woman's sentence for driving a car (the most seditious of offences) from beheading in front of the plaza's Starbucks to a mere 1,000 lashes. Buckley's response? "God be praised." His sarcasm and deep comprehension of world-order seeps through every page. This Arab-jibing adventure is filled with sweaty romance, undercover CIA and a taunting taste of evil disguised as religious rule. Hold onto your hat, your burka...and quite possibly your head as Florence Farfarletti attempts to liberal Arab women through jaw-dropping television!

Here's the back-cover summary: "Appalled by the punishment of her rebellious friend Nazrah, youngest and most petulant wife of Prince Bawad of Wasabia, Florence Farfarletti decides to draw a line in the sand. As Deputy to the deputy assistant secretary for Near East Affairs, Florence invents a far-reaching, wide-ranging plan for female emancipation in that part of the world. The U.S. government, of course, tells her to forget it. Publicly, that is. Privately, she’s enlisted in a top-secret mission to impose equal rights for the sexes on the small emirate of Matar (pronounced “Mutter”), the “Switzerland of the Persian Gulf.” Her crack team: a CIA killer, a snappy PR man, and a brilliant but frustrated gay bureaucrat. Her weapon: TV shows. The lineup on TV Matar includes A Thousand and One Mornings, a daytime talk show that features self defense tips to be used against boyfriends during Ramadan; an addictive soap opera featuring strangely familiar members of the Matar royal family; and a sitcom about an inept but ruthless squad of religious police, pitched as “Friends from Hell.” The result: the first deadly car bombs in the country since 1936, a fatwa against the station’s entire staff, a struggle for control of the kingdom, and, of course, interference from the French. And that’s only the beginning. A merciless dismantling of both American ineptitude and Arabic intolerance, Florence of Arabia is Christopher Buckley’s funniest and most serious novel yet, a biting satire of how U.S. good intentions can cause the Shiite to hit the fan."

Available here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Number the Stars

My Rating: 4/5
Pages: 144 • Speed: Very fast
Subject: Children's Historical Fiction

Awarded the Newbery Medal in 1990 as the "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."

Ten year old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think about life before the war. But it's now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching in their town. The Nazis won't stop. The Jews of Denmark are being "relocated", so Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be part of the family. Then Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission. Somehow she must find the strength and courage to save her best friend's life. There's no turning back now. (back cover summary)"

I loved re-reading this children's classic, that reminds us that even kids had to make courageous, selfless decisions in the middle of war-torn Europe. The simpleness of the storytelling makes it absorbable, believable, and sympathizing. This is appropriate for maybe 3rd grade and beyond, and is a great introduction to World War II, an important part of world history for any child.

Available here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

My Rating: 5/5
Pages: 355; Speed: Slow but witty & real
Subject: Romance, Literary Fiction

"In the small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in the English countryside lives Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson’s wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, the Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and regarding her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition? (back cover summary)"

Charming, intelligent, heart-warming and dignified, Simonson's attention to detail and witty renditions creates a very strong British novel! Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali's appreciation for both the old-ways of civilized people and their disgust of hypocrisy builds a riveting relationship both know is impossible. A joy on every page and characters you feel are real, give the old Brit a chance, and enjoy some herbal tea while you're at it!

Available here.