June 24, 2009

Book #45: Strange Bedpersons

Strange BedPersons by Jennifer Crusie is dated chick-lit.

Tess is a bleeding heart liberal who grew up on a commune, calls her parents by her their first names, and despises everything yuppie.
Nick is a wealthy Republican lawyer, desperate to make partner at his firm. It's very Wall Street.

Can these two opposites attract? Yawn.

What was interesting about this story is that at the beginning of the book, Tess and Nick had already dated and broken up, because they were two different. Second chances can be an interesting concept, but I prefer getting to experience the couple first meeting.

June 22, 2009

Book #44: The Gamble

I thought I had read all of Lavyrle Spencer's novels years ago, but I somehow missed The Gamble.

All Lavyrle Spencer novels are about families. Some are about the traditional families that are bonded together by blood, and some are about the families that come together by choice.

Agatha Downing is a lonely spinster who limps through her quiet existance, making hats for a living and crusading for temperance in her tiny 1880's Kansas town.

Scott Gandy is the charismatic former riverboat gambler who buys the saloon next to Agatha's milliner shop. Soon he is joined in town by his rag-tag and flamboyant group of bartenders, card dealers and dancing girls.

Agatha and Scott clash at first, but eventually band together to care for a 5 year-old orphan boy.

Lavyrle Spencer's romances build slowly, which always feels more realistic than the typical overly dramatic love-at-first-sight books that saturate the genre.

June 11, 2009

Book #43: Nineteen Minutes

"In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five.... In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge."

-from Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult

Nineteen Minutes is about a Columbine-like school shooting. Bullied outcast Peter Houghton opens fire in his New Hampshire high school killing ten people, but failing to kill himself before he's apprehended by the police.

The book is told from all different points of view: the shooter, the shooter's parents, a superior court judge, the defense attorney, and the police officer who stops Peter Houghton. The time spans from the time Peter is an infant, up to a year after his trial. The story is also told from the point of view of Josie Cormier, who's mother is the superior court judge. She was Peter's best friend in childhood, until she ditched him for the popular crowd. Josie's friends and her boyfriend were shot by Peter during the rampage.

It's an interesting story, and Piccoult does a good job making you feel empathy for the killer (who's been bullied his entire life) but also very clear that his solution was wrong. It's a very difficult read of course, and as a parent is especially scary. You always wonder about those student shooters, how their parents didn't notice them stock-piling weapons, how they could create a monster without knowing it. Of course it isn't that simple, and you can always do your very best job, and it can still not be enough. But I'd like to think as a parent, if my child were being bullied to that degree, that I would do whatever I had to do, to keep him from having to be miserable every day of his life. Whether that means going bankrupt to pay for private school, or quitting work to home school, so be it.

"What about home schooling? You know, it's not just for scary religious people anymore."
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Dead Man's Party"

June 05, 2009

Book #42: Getting Rid of Bradley

Getting Rid of Bradley is the third Jennifer Crusie book I've read, and I have to say, I like her. They're light and fun, and her characters are insanely likable.

Lucy Savage (And by the way, Lucy is a great character name. It immediately conveys 'adorable' and 'quirky'.) gets stood up at her own divorce. She finally gets the guts to get rid of her boring and controlling husband Bradley, but not until she walks in on him with another woman, in her house. Lucy is a science teacher with a great old Victorian in need of some work, and three silly dogs that she's devoted to.

Due to absurd coincidences, (hey, I don't mind, if it's done in an entertaining way) Lucy ends up defending herself from a mugger, who is actually hot cop Zack Warren, as he's trying to save her life.

Zack ends up moving in to protect her from either someone who's trying to kill her, or someone who is just trying to break into her house. Of course sparks fly, so do bullets, and cats.

My favorite thing about Jennifer Crusie books are her characters. They all come across as real people. They're not ridiculously gorgeous, though they're of course attractive to the other person. They have typical human fears and insecurities that make them feel like people you know.

June 03, 2009

Book #41: Deadly Desire

The fourth book in Brenda Joyce’s Deadly Series, Deadly Desire is a little bit more mature, faster paced, and steamier than previous installments.

Francesca gets to meet the family of the man she loves, police commissioner Rick Bragg, as well as his estranged wife. Rick is now convinced he must give up his political aspirations and get a divorce so that he might marry Francesca. And Calder Hart, Rick’s charming, rich and single brother is starting to come between Francesca and Rick even more. Francesca is fighting her attraction to him, and Calder wishes to protect Francesca from the inevitable heartbreak of being in love with a married man.

There’s also a mystery to solve, in the form of a blackmailer who’s stalking Lucy Bragg, Rick and Calder’s sister, and heroine of one of my all time favorite Brenda Joyce novels, Fires of Paradise (terrible new cover art, Lucy is a flaming redhead!).

Book #40: Deadly Affairs

Deadly Affairs is the third installment in Brenda Joyce’s Deadly Series (also known as Francesca Cahill Romance Novels). This series is steadily getting more intense, though I’m still irritated by Francesca’s naiveté.

Francesca has been hired (for her sleuthing skills) by her first paying client, Lydia Stuart, to find out if Lydia’s husband is cheating. In the course of following him, Francesca literally stumbles on a body, and before they know it, they’re on the trail of a serial killer.

Francesca is still having her intense and steamy “friendship” with police commissioner Rick Bragg, the man she loves but can’t have because he’s married to some awful woman who lives in Europe. Novels set before divorce was so fashionable and easy to obtain makes for lots of angst.

And now Francesca also has to fend off the matchmaking attempts of her disapproving socialite mother, who wishes to match her up with none other than Calder Hart, Rick’s magnetic, womanizing, wealthy brother. This love triangle is heating up nicely.