They hatch a scheme. They all drop out, pretend they’re lawyers, set up law practices and hustle clients with DUIs. Their scheme gets out of hand, of course, and they have to lie and cheat, get new identities, new passports, new credit cards and I can’t remember how many new cell phones! Zola also has to help her parents and brother, who are undocumented immigrants from Senegal and are about to be deported. The scheme spirals out of control and their troubles pile up. What a waste of time. I don’t recommend it. ★★ out of four. (Full disclosure: This is not the kind of book I’d choose normally, but I thought I should expand my reading choices.)
The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. (Full disclosure again: this is also a book that I would usually avoid.) Chose it anyway. And, as it turned out, I should have left it on the shelf. What am I trying to prove? It was formulaic, but once I started reading, I wanted to see how the crazy plot played out.
The president goes missing because he’s apparently the only person who can stop a devastating cyberattack that will affect America and maybe the rest of the world. He must do it all by himself, without secret service protection, although (and this is strange) he keeps in touch with his chief of staff, the director of the FBI, the vice president and several others. By phone, yet. The plot is complicated, convoluted and confusing. Of course, at the end, with only seconds to spare, the president is under extreme pressure to do a James Bondian “save” and Rescue The World! Ta daaaaa! ★★ out of four.
Natural Causes by Barbara Ehrenreich. What a bore. Why did I even finish this? I liked Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, in which she documented a year-long plan for herself: to live with only money she earned from minimum-wage jobs. It was a good read as well as an eye-opener.
I thought Natural Causes was going to be about health practices that are not what we think they are, like . . . oh, maybe, taking 10,000 steps a day is way, way too many; or white bread is healthier than whole wheat; or sugar and salt and artificial sweeteners prevent cancer. I presumed wrong. Instead, she gets really technical and goes into biology and chemistry and more. She delves into cellular life and immune cells and the perils of our ageing bodies. I guess I’ll continue eating whole wheat spaghetti and avoiding Peanut Butter Cups. Snooze. ★ out of four.
All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson.This is another one I finished only because I wanted to find out what heck happened. I guess that’s the mark of a good plot. This plot, however, was poorly executed.
Harry Ackerson’s father dies mere days before Harry is to graduate from college. Harry skips the graduation ceremony and goes to Kennewick, Maine, where his father lived with his new wife, Alice. Alice is young, pretty and blonde.
Harry becomes suspicious about how his father died (he stumbled while walking along a path on a cliff beside the ocean; hit his head; fell into the ocean; drowned.) Was this an accident or . . . . . (gasp) murder? Harry starts asking questions. To complicate matters, Harry has always been attracted to Alice.
The points of view alternate among Harry, Alice, and Alice’s stepfather. The author does lots of telling without showing. He explains what his characters are thinking and why, instead of letting readers figure it out. I like to figure things out myself. At the end of the trail, I found out who did what and why. Eh. That’s enough. Not an enjoyable journey. ★★ out of four.