Patricia Marx and Charlotte Stuart

(Workman Press)

In an age when chastity, for the first time since the Victorian era, is actually trendy, millions of promiscuous twenty-something's are feeling like the seasoned sleaze of the sexual underground. Thankfully, we have Marx and Stuart's How to Regain Your Virginity to protect us from the neurotic sexuality of moral America with an entertaining collection of "facts" that put the silly back in sex. The book discusses 100 "recent findings" that claim to provide deep insight into the wily ways of sex. Though some of the chapters are a little too cute (babies are really made by shrinking grown-ups in the wash! Ha!), most are fairly clever, such as how to give the dreaded kiss of death, which will ensure that you won't have sex at the end of a date. Scattered throughout are somewhat amusing profiles of the various genres of virgins, including The Librarian Virgin, who fines family members 25c when they are late for lunch dates, and The Married Virgin, who boasts a self-cleaning uterus. Ultimately, How to Regain Your Virginity is a somewhat amusing book that unfortunately wastes more time on pointless frivolity than on our true sexual sore spots. --Emma Johnson


Tom Clancy


Tom Clancy's newest voyage through the innards of international spy networks (and, on another level, the mind of a flag-waving paranoid) is first and foremost an insider's book. So much so, in fact, that you'd have to be either a stock market genius or very easily entertained to find anything in it remotely interesting. Clancy takes far too long to deliver what his loyals want--intriguing technological and military discussions--and even then they come off as obligatory and contrived. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Clancy's treatment of hero Jack Ryan, who once again saves Democracy with the sort of savoir-faire one expects from a major motion picture franchise. But other than a penchant for global heroism, Ryan is a simplistic, cookie-cutter character whose only other personality quirks stem mostly from his mindless righteousness and impeccable reputation. While freshman Clancy readers may be impressed with the novelist's heart-pounding interpretations of dry academic theories, more jaded readers will feel like they would've had more fun learning about them in college. Without the inclusion of the monolithic-enemy-of-implacable-evil that made Clancy's earlier works so entertaining, Debt of Honor is a simplistic bore. Hopefully, in the future Clancy will learn to dance with the gal that brought him--fundamental and heavily armed clashes between Right and Wrong--and leave the subtle international intrigue stuff to a writer whose world view is sophisticated enough to handle it. --Paul Primrose


Steven King


Insomnia follows the standard Steven King million-seller formula-- tight, insightful storytelling wrapped around a warmed-over plot of unspeakable horror loosed upon small-town America. Unfortunately, only half of the formula really works here--King's engaging yarns and mastery of analogy are as impressive as ever, but there just isn't anything remotely frightening about a bunch of old folks' sleeping problems. It would be one thing if they were laying awake because they were scared out of their Depends by some unspeakable evil, but the vaguely creepy, if intriguing, plot twist that is responsible for their sleep troubles are about as threatening as Casper, the Friendly Ghost. After that, all that's left are three hundred pages of shaky interior monologue and a whole lot of King waxing poetic about the elderly. And while that's probably enough to save it from the Waldenbooks Discount Bin, it isn't enough to elevate it above all the other shaky horror stories King has been mass producing lately. Insomnia isn't awful--like all King novels, it's a quick and entertaining read, and contains an intriguing theory on aging and existence. Cumulatively, the final effect leaves the reader feeling like they've just stepped out of a lukewarm shower after mediocre sex. --Paul

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