Review: Ride the Tiger, by Pat Silver-Lasky

Ride the Tiger
by Pat Silver-Lasky

Product Description (from

Fame, Money and Sex. That’s what Hollywood is all about. Madelaine Brent wanted them all and she always got everything she wanted. But sometimes everything is too much and somebody can get murdered.

My Thoughts:

When I was offered the chance to read this book, Ride the Tiger, by Pat Silver-Lasky, I jumped at it. While it takes place in a time not too far from our own, it feels like old Hollywood, with divas and directors and intrigue around every corner.

I loved the dual opening – the very first chapter with a murder on the beach, and then immediately moving to Maddie on her medical vacation to Mexico for a “rejuvenation” treatment. (My parents live in Mexico, and while their medical care is excellent, they’ve told me enough stories to know it’s also much more casual than here in the states – so those scenes really rang true.)

Madelaine – Maddie – reminds me of so many movie stars – living her outward life and inner life on completely separate planes, and her husband Charles with his British accent also seemed like the perfect archetype.

I can’t really speak about more characters – I’m hesitant to even bring up Maddie’s male roommate in Mexico – because while this is a story about Maddie’s life, it’s also mystery/thriller (this is why I never talk about plot – I cannot bear giving spoilers).

I thought Silver-Lasky’s characters were wonderful. Chilling, compelling, poignant, and even bitchy, when the time was right. Her plot, also, was gripping. I was never bored, and while I suspected the killer fairly early, there were enough twists and turns to keep me reading all the way til the end.

I also loved the way Silver-Lasky’s knowledge of Hollywood history shone through the novel. As I said, it takes place in what is essentially the present, but she made it feel like something from the golden age of film, with rich descriptions and perfect dialogue as well as lovely references to places and people of both then and now.

If you take a chance on only one new-to-you author in the next year, Pat Silver-Lasky should be that author, and Ride the Tiger should be the book.

Goes well with an egg-white omelet and pink grapefruit juice.

Review: Saving Gracie, by Jill Teitelman

Saving Gracie
Jill Teitelman

Product Description (from
“Why didn’t I ask where the Women’s Lib train was going before I jumped on?” Ruth Kooperman wants to know. Saving Gracie is the story of her rocky journey from carefree East Village poet to last-minute mother to single suburban mom. (I’m pretty sure God didn’t expect me to deal with menopause and toilet training at the same time.”) And when demonic middle-age mortality threatens to steal her dearest friend, dark female humor to the rescue. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. You’ll laugh again. This memoir-like tale covers all the bases: late-life motherhood and dating, single parenting, marriage, divorce and the humorous side of even the darkest times.

My Thoughts:

When I was offered a copy of Saving Gracie to review, I jumped at the chance because the description seemed like something I’d really enjoy. I was not wrong. In fact, I’m incredibly glad to have been introduced to Ms. Teitelman’s writing, because if she writes anything else in this wonderful voice, I HAVE to read it.

Saving Gracie is at once a sort of late-bloomer’s coming-of-age story and a romance. The first part is the internal development of the novel’s protagonist (and first-person narrator) Ruth Kooperman. At the beginning of the story, Ruth is fiercely independent, child-free (and approaching an age at which childbirth is unwise if not impossible) and single, prone to bad choices in men. Through the course of the novel we watch her grow into motherhood, into stable relationships, and finally, into a relatively sane, relatively stable woman.

But that’s just part of the story. It’s also a romance. Or really, three romances. It’s a romance between Ruth and the two men who occupy her heart during the course of the novel, Jake, with whom she has a child, but not a marriage, and Marty, whom she marries. It’s a romance between Ruth and her son Joey. And finally, most importantly, it’s a romance of sisterhood between Ruth and Gracie – one of the sane mothers she meets while checking out a school for Joey.

Like Ruth, Gracie has a wicked sense of humor. But she’s also got a twenty-plus-year-old marriage (to Max, who seems like a great person, and who I wish I had as a neighbor), and, in many ways, represents what Ruth would have been if she’d ever found the nice (rich) Jewish boy her parents wished she would.

The friendship between Ruth and Gracie doesn’t even begin until a third of the book is over, but its impact is still strong, and really, we need that much setup – and that much growth from Ruth – before either we (or Ruth) are ready for Gracie’s arrival. We need Ruth to be open for a new kind of friendship.

Despite a poignant ending, I thoroughly enjoyed Saving Gracie. I thought the characters were all very real, and, having grown up on the east coast (though I’m Italian and not Jewish), I could hear the cadences of their speech in my head, even though there’s no dialect written into the dialogue.

Saving Gracie is the kind of novel that you live inside while you’re reading it. When I would pull myself away to do something mundane like eat or let the dogs out, I found myself wishing I was in Boston in winter, instead of Texas where it’s 80 degrees in December.

Put plainly: this book is amazing, and everyone should go read it, now.

Goes well with bagels, cream cheese, and a cup of mushroom soup.