A disarming cautionary tale that’s just naughty enough to be kept from Handler’s Lemony Snicket fans but real enough to...

ALL THE DIRTY PARTS

A perpetually horny teenage boy learns the difference between a breakup and heartbreak.

Puerile portrayals of aroused teenage boys are nothing new in any medium, from 1980s sex comedies like Porky’s to novels like C.D. Payne’s Youth in Revolt (1993). But this interesting experiment by Handler (We Are Pirates, 2015, etc.) may be the most cleareyed and honest portrayal of the sexuality of adolescent boys in recent memory—it’s raw, authentic, fitfully funny, and tragic all at the same time. Our narrator is Cole, a high school student who's developed a well-earned reputation as a horndog in his school, as pointed out by his platonic frenemy, Kirsten: “I’m not talking about sex, Cole. I’m talking about how it’s one girl, and then it’s another.” It may be true, but Cole is also consumed by the topic in the way teenage boys typically are, lost in a flood of yearning, online pornography, and blinding lust. During a dry spell, Cole even starts fooling around with his best friend and masturbating buddy, Alec, with unforeseen consequences. But halfway through the school year, Cole meets Grisaille, an exotic and dangerous exchange student who is every bit a match for Cole and more. “She could snap you in two, Cole,” warns Kirsten. “She probably has, come to think of it.” It’s a slim volume, more stream-of-consciousness moments than true narration, but Handler has clearly put a lot of thought into what he’s trying to teach here. His prose can be laser-focused—one of Cole’s conquests is “crazy breathless Jesus Christ beautiful.” Yet he can still disarm on the fly with surprising humor: “Four years ago, I think, I thought anal sex just meant you were really particular about it.”

A disarming cautionary tale that’s just naughty enough to be kept from Handler’s Lemony Snicket fans but real enough to spark genuine conversations about sex and its consequences.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63286-804-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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HONEST ILLUSIONS

Suspenseful, glamorous story of love, blackmail, and magic, set in New Orleans and Washington, D.C., about a family of high-class magicians practicing the time-honored profession of thievery. When magician Maxmillian Nouvelle adopts the 12-year-old runaway Luke Callahan, he gives him more than a family: He teaches him the secrets of blending what's real and what's not...giving people what they want—and also taking what they value. For the Great Nouvelle is a master jewel-thief; stealing from the undeserving rich warms his blood like the anticipation of good sex, a passion that both Luke and Max's bratty daughter Raxanne eventually share. Thirteen years pass: As Luke practices the fine arts of larceny and escapology, Roxanne grows into a flame-haired witch who turns bell, book, and candle into smoke onstage. Offstage, she trades in her David Cassidy poster for Luke; together, they set off sparks that could make an innocent bystander..go up in flames. But Luke's invincibility, like the Great Houdini's, is deceptive: Slimy Sam Wyatt—a former grifter now running for the Senate—slithers in from Luke's past, his frigid heart full of contempt for the family he once tried to seam. He threatens to frame Luke for murder and expose the Nouvelles' after-hours show unless he disappears. Five years later, a homesick Luke reappears, determined to show the disillusioned Roxanne that he's more than smoke and mirrors. Together, they set out to plot vengeance, staking everything on their most daring sting to date. True to the magician's oath, Roberts reveals no secrets, but the illusion works—in a compelling and detail-rich first hardcover. Good escape reading.

Pub Date: July 17, 1992

ISBN: 0-399-13761-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1992

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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