Star Island

by Carl Hiaasen |

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REVIEWED BY JOSH EMMONS

NOVEL

You might be tempted to skip Hiaasen's latest satirical trip through American culture, since he's picked such an easy target: The book's heroine, pop star Cherry Pye, is a three-car pileup of Lindsay, Paris and Britney. But reconsider, because Star Island is the funniest book to come out since Hiaasen's Nature Girl (2006). After owning the charts as a teen, Pye (nee Cheryl Bunterman) has slipped into a fog of expensive drugs and cheap sex. Eager to reverse the trend, the agents, producers and family leeches who depend on her have planned a comeback tour for her new album "Skantily Klad." Can Cherry marshal her slim talent to show the world there's more to her than meets the eye? Or will a series of hilarious mishaps spin her career-and everyone attached to it-out of control? As always, a generous spirit animates Hiaasen's motley cast of characters; even the most cartoonish emerge with their humanity intact. Read the book, laugh and understand our absurd, enchanting country a little better.

Super Sad True Love Story

by Gary Shteyngart |

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REVIEWED BY KYLE SMITH

NOVEL

This funny sci-fi novel isn't so 'fi': It's set in a not-too-distant future in which Americans are obsessed with handheld digital gizmos. As Manhattan falls into chaos around him, a hapless nerd who works for a firm that promises the rich eternal life tries to romance a woman 15 years his junior with strict Korean-immigrant parents. With Shteyngart's nutty knack for tangy language, it's as if Vladimir Nabokov rewrote 1984.

The Stuff That Never Happened

by Maddie Dawson |

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REVIEWED BY MEREDITH MARAN

NOVEL

If you've ever turned 50, or think you might, this deceptively bouncy, ultimately wrenching novel will grab you at page one. At a half-century, narrator Annabelle McKay revisits dashed dreams in a tale that jumps between 1977, when she and her husband fall in love, and 2005, when they fall out. While some plot turns, like a right-on-cue "chance" encounter, feel predictable, the phrase "summer read" seems invented for this debut.

NEW IN PAPERBACK

THE LACUNA

by Barbara Kingsolver

A rich, absorbing saga about a writer indelibly influenced by his work for artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

THE GOOD SOLDIERS

by David Finkel

Finkel's account of the months he spent embedded with American troops in Baghdad is a sobering must-read.

LIT

by Mary Karr

A true tale of motherhood, alcoholism and redemption rendered with The Liars' Club author's signature intensity.

READ ANYTHING GOOD LATELY?

Anthill: A Novel, by E.O. Wilson. Those poor ants work 24/7! And when they fight other ant colonies, to look bigger they stand on pebbles. "I'll show you-I'm getting up on this grain of sand."

SO YOU IDENTIFY WITH THEM?

Yes! They work their whole lives; it's so sad. Now I don't throw my sandwiches away; I put them on the streets. Let the ants have a little break. The other day I had half a hot dog, and I put it in a tree. This woman said, "You're littering," and I said, "I'm feeding the ants!"

DO YOU READ A LOT?

We're a very booky family. (My late husband) Edgar and I, we never did drugs. Every Saturday night we went to a bookstore, and you were allowed to buy anything you want. We'd come home with shopping bags full.

Known for enigmatically-sourced celeb bios (Princess Diana, Tom Cruise), Andrew Morton now turns to Angelina Jolie. He unearths few bombshells but offers some odd revelations:

ANGELINA LIKES TO BARGAIN-SHOP

"One day," Morton writes, "she took (Nicolas) Cage ... to a discount store, Pick 'n Save ... to remind him how the other half still lived."

SHE'S A BOWLING HEIRESS, SORT OF

Royalty might be overstating it, but Jolie's maternal grandparents co-owned a 10-lane bowling alley in suburban Chicago just as the craze for the pastime was beginning.

JOSEPHINE BAKER IS HER MODEL FOR MOTHERHOOD

Morton claims that Jolie, a mom of six, gets "inspiration" from the expat nightclub performer who "raised twice as many orphans."

PLAYING DRUMS "SAVED HER LIFE"

So says her drum teacher Joey Covington of Jefferson Airplane. "They gave her a focus and a sense of achievement."

>NEW IN PAPERBACK

THE LACUNA

by Barbara Kingsolver

A rich, absorbing saga about a writer indelibly influenced by his work for artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

THE GOOD SOLDIERS

by David Finkel

Finkel's account of the months he spent embedded with American troops in Baghdad is a sobering must-read.

LIT

by Mary Karr

A true tale of motherhood, alcoholism and redemption rendered with The Liars' Club author's signature intensity.

>READ ANYTHING GOOD LATELY?

Anthill: A Novel, by E.O. Wilson. Those poor ants work 24/7! And when they fight other ant colonies, to look bigger they stand on pebbles. "I'll show you—I'm getting up on this grain of sand."

SO YOU IDENTIFY WITH THEM?

Yes! They work their whole lives; it's so sad. Now I don't throw my sandwiches away; I put them on the streets. Let the ants have a little break. The other day I had half a hot dog, and I put it in a tree. This woman said, "You're littering," and I said, "I'm feeding the ants!"

DO YOU READ A LOT?

We're a very booky family. [My late husband] Edgar and I, we never did drugs. Every Saturday night we went to a bookstore, and you were allowed to buy anything you want. We'd come home with shopping bags full.

>Known for enigmatically-sourced celeb bios (Princess Diana, Tom Cruise), Andrew Morton now turns to Angelina Jolie. He unearths few bombshells but offers some odd revelations:

ANGELINA LIKES TO BARGAIN-SHOP

"One day," Morton writes, "she took [Nicolas] Cage ... to a discount store, Pick 'n Save ... to remind him how the other half still lived."

SHE'S A BOWLING HEIRESS, SORT OF

Royalty might be overstating it, but Jolie's maternal grandparents co-owned a 10-lane bowling alley in suburban Chicago just as the craze for the pastime was beginning.

JOSEPHINE BAKER IS HER MODEL FOR MOTHERHOOD

Morton claims that Jolie, a mom of six, gets "inspiration" from the expat nightclub performer who "raised twice as many orphans."

PLAYING DRUMS "SAVED HER LIFE"

So says her drum teacher Joey Covington of Jefferson Airplane. "They gave her a focus and a sense of achievement."