May 27, 2009

Book #39: Charlie All Night

Charlie All Night (titles again, I know, right?) by Jennifer Crusie is my second chick lit novel in a week. I was on vacation, don't judge!

Radio producer Ally has just been replaced. Her radio star ex-boyfriend has replaced her with a younger and thinner model in his bed and on his show.

Charlie has been hired to helm the 2am show and since he's not really there to deejay, he's perfectly fine with having hardly any listeners. But since Ally has been assigned as his producer, he has to work extra hard to keep her from making him a star, and to keep his hands off of her.

This was a somewhat enjoyable beach type read (sadly, I was not actually at the beach). But I didn't find the relationship to be as complex or as enjoyable as the one in Crusie's Bet Me. But I believe Charlie All Night was originally published as a Harlequin. And yes, I'm totally judging.

Book #38: Bet Me

Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me is chick lit. As far as I can tell, that means it's a romance novel, but an extremely modern one where the heroine has a career and doesn't always want children.

Of course it started with a bet.
Min (short for Minerva) has just been dumped by her boyfriend David, who she wasn't even sure she liked very much, three weeks before her sister's wedding. Min is an actuary, and on the chubby side, so she's pretty sure she'll have to listen to her mother's recriminations when she shows up to the wedding dateless. When she overhears David the ex, make a bet that his friend Cal can't get Min into bed, Min decides maybe she can get some revenge, and a hot (if worthless) date to the wedding in one swoop.

Cal hardly ever turns away from a bet, but he's actually not sleazy enough to bet on getting a woman into bed. What he does bet on, is that he can get her to leave the bar with him. He figures he's at least that charming. But since Min is onto him, he actually won't get very far with his legendary charm.

Through a series of extremely odd coincidences, and maybe a little fate, and despite their psychotic exes, Min and Cal keep finding themselves together. Jennifer Crusie actually does a really good job of making you see why a guy like Cal might fall for a girl like Min. And he even talks her out of her perpetual dieting. (But seriously ladies, diet if you want to, but nobody and I mean nobody, wants to hear you whine about all the things you choose to deny yourself.) This was a funny and frothy good book.

May 19, 2009

The book post that never was.

"Town is fearfully dull, except for the frequent raids of the Servant Girl Annihilators, who make things lively in the dull hours of the night...."
I tried to read A Twist at the End by Steven Saylor, I did try.

The subject matter is fascinating. It's set in Austin in 1885, when the entire city was living in terror of it's very own serial killer (three years before Jack the Ripper stalked London), the Servant Girl Annihilator. I've thought for a while that time and place would be a great setting for a novel, and then I found out someone had already written it. So I was somewhat psyched to read A Twist at the End, despite the mediocre Amazon reviews.

But it is a fat book. 576 pages. Although I don't object to a long book, I object to a boring book. And only a handful of pages into the first chapter, we meet the Exposition Fairy. For the non-TV or video game addicted: the Exposition Fairy is the character that helpfully explains to the audience whatever back-story is necessary to the scene that couldn't fit into the "Previously on..." This is almost always done as awkward conversation that doesn't at all resemble conversation heard in real life. I can deal with the Exposition Fairy on television shows (though voiceovers, like on "My So-Called Life" and "Veronica Mars" make for much better exposition- in case any TV producers are reading) I object to having them appear in the first chapter of a murderously long book. It just comes off as hacky.

That's a lot of annoyance to plow through. So instead of dreading it, and avoiding it, I just quit. 576 pages people. I'd rather read Twilight for the 59th time.

I may shelve this and come back to it later. If I ever run out of vampires romances.

Book #37: Vision in White

Vision in White is the first in a series about a group of friends who run their own wedding planning business. And it's Nora Roberts' heralded return to pure romance. No sadistic murders to solve and no paranormal evil to conquer with magic. Kind of a bummer.

So Mackensie is the photographer for Vows, the wedding business she started with her three childhood best friends. She has an insanely disfunctional relationship with her manipulative mother, and is ambivalent about her historically absent father. So as a result, Mac is one of those tedious women from chick lit books who's incapable of having a healthy adult relationship with the opposite sex, because she's too afraid of getting "hurt". To quote Rayanne Graff on My So-Called Life: "Anything causes a scar. Living causes a scar. My mother has a humongous scar from having me. Does that mean that I should have never been born?"

Enter Carter, a high school English teacher who's had a crush on Mac since they were teenagers. He's far too nice, and well adjusted for her. But he wants her anyway. The usual roadblocks get in the way, but guess how it ends?

Since this is the first in a series, it's a lucky thing that Mac's best friends and business partners are entertaining and likable women (they'll be the subjects of the subsequent novals). Though it's a little hard to buy her relationship-phobia when she's able to have such long and healthy relationships with her friends.

Oh, did you hear a little girl squealing?

That was me. There's just a little Twilight sequel movie coming out in 184 days. Not that I'm counting.

Book #36: Forbidden Nights with a Vampire

Forbidden Nights with a Vampire is book seven in the Love at Stake series. And yet again, I'm thankful this was available on Kindle so no one has to see me in public reading such ridiculously titled literature.

Vanda is originally from Poland, was made a vampire during World War II, still seems to be sufferring from some form of Post Traumatic Stress, and has serious anger issues. Vanda owns a vampire strip club in Hell's Kitchen and is in trouble with her coven master for multiple verbal and violent assaults against fellow vampires. They totally had it coming though.

Phil is daytime security for the "good vamps" of New York and volunteered to be Vanda's anger management sponsor. He's also a closet Werewolf. Why he doesn't want all the vampires to know this, I have no idea.

Vanda is revealed to be far too vulnerable, especially for someone who prances around in catsuits, with purple hair, and a whip tied around her waist. Phil gets to save Vanda, which is pretty much his reason for existing. Happily ever after of course, with only one "rascal" thrown in. At this point, I'm convinced that Kerrelyn Sparks is taunting me.

Book #35: Paper Towns

Paper Towns is the third John Green novel I've read, and my favorite so far. Although yet again, I spent the entire novel worrying that he'd kill someone off.

Quentin Jacobsen is in his final semester of high school and has spent nearly his entire life being in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman. Q (as his friends call him) and Margo were friends as small children, but she long ago traded him in for the popular clique and dating jocks. Yet for Q, and maybe even the entire school, while they all live their lives in black and white, Margo lives hers in color. The school is always abuzz with some rumor (that inevitably turns out to be true) about her crazed adventures.

A month before their high school graduation, Margo enlists Q for wild night to be her getaway driver while she exacts revenge against various friends and cheating boyfriends. And the next day, Margo vanishes. Q spends the next month trying to decipher all of the clues Margo seems to have left him, and plans to unravel the mystery and get the girl. Though on his quest, Q finds that he never really knew Margo at all.

As with previous John Green books, the main character's friends are hilarious and far more practical than the hero is. And the object of affection is fascinating and complex. I didn't care for Margo as much as Q does. But I do remember what it's like to be in high school and to be completely wrapped up in someone who seems to be so bold and colorful.

Edited to add: I was especially entertained by the fact that at the same age Q and his friends spend hours talking about Walt Whitman, my friends and I were trying to decipher Nirvana lyrics.

my Overrated List

1. lifestyle changes
2. Al Pacino
3. irony
4. sushi

via Shapely Prose and Overrated List

May 15, 2009

Can't. Wait.

"True Blood", June 14!

29 days! (Not that I'm counting.)

May 12, 2009

Book #34: Dead and Gone

Dead and Gone is the ninth Southern Vampire Mysteries/Sookie Stackhouse book. And you would not believe how freakin' excited I was for this book to come out.

Sookie Stackhouse, small town Louisiana barmaid and unwilling telepath, leads a pretty exciting life. The vampires have been out in the open for a while, and the other supernaturals (werewolves, shape-shifters, fairies etc) she's known about for some time are making their presence known to the rest of the world. Plus she has two super hot vampires vying for her affections.

As far as this series goes, this volume seemed pretty epic. The pace was breakneck (which is saying a lot for a Southern author) and I could barely stand to put it down to go to work and to sleep. To avoid spoilers, I won't even get into her love life, but... Yum.

There are no more Sookie Stackhouse books being published this year, and I'm struggling to deal with that. However, HBO's "True Blood" (based on the series) comes back for a second season on June 14!

May 11, 2009

Book #33: Deadly Pleasure

The second novel in the Francesca Cahill Romance Novels, (still hate that name) Deadly Pleasure, takes place only a day after the first novel ends. Which is kind of an interesting concept for a series. Most of the series I read, the subsequent novels take place weeks, and sometimes months after the previous ones. And sometimes events are referenced that took place in that time in between novels. Which always makes me wonder what my favorite characters are up to when they're not being written about.

I find myself having a hard time liking Francesca Cahill. There's nothing really bad about her. I just find her obnoxiously naive. Which is probably a perfectly accurate trait for a well-bred young lady in 1902, but is an impractical trait for a "sleuth" as Francesca brands herself.

In my opinion, Brenda Joyce's male characters tend to be more compelling than her females. So the two men Francesca finds herself caught between, New York Police Commissioner Rick Bragg and his womanizing millionaire half-brother Calder Hart are interesting enough to keep me reading.