Archive for October, 2015

22
Oct
15

No. Just no. CBR7 Review 57.

Unknown-1You know how sometimes modern adaptations of our favorite classic novels turn out great, and quickly go up on the shelf alongside the original? Bridget Jones. Clueless. For Darkness Shows the Stars.

And then there are some that aren’t great, but are ok, and that’s good enough, because it makes us think about how great the original was. Death Comes to Pemberley. Emma: A Modern Retelling.

Of course, there are lots that are just lousy. But for some reason, that doesn’t stop me from reading them. Jane is one of these books.

It wasn’t good.

But I couldn’t stop reading it, mostly because I needed to know how ridiculously the second half of the book would pan out.

Jane Moore is a mousy college student, forced to drop out after her parents die, leaving her pretty much nothing. Her brother and sister were very well taken care of, but Jane was always an afterthought, and treated as such. And acted as such.

Jane was such a wet noodle.

I wanted to shake her sometimes. Yes, her mother was horrible and her brother was a monster, but that doesn’t excuse her non-existent personality. Just being socially aloof isn’t enough to show me that there’s anything else going on inside.

Jane gets a job as a nanny for a huge, famous, crazy rock star (who’s cool rock star name I can’t even remember, so let’s just call him rock star) who has custody of his French daughter, courtesy of his messed up ex wife, a French model and pop star. Of course this guy has tons of baggage: a failed first marriage due to drugs and general excess, thousands of groupies, a horrid second marriage, and now general snottiness and attitude. Oh, and a terrible temper. He’s such a good time! And he has no clue how to raise his own kid, other than to spoil her with gifts.

And somehow, beyond all things sensible, this rock star falls in love with the wet noodle. And I can’t.

Jane is so blasé. So boring, so milquetoast. Everything she says annoyed me.

Of course there are shenanigans concerning the loud noises coming from the forbidden third floor of the mansion, and of course the rock star never tells the truth about what’s going on up there. And yes, their hasty city hall marriage is interrupted for very REASONS, forcing rock star to tell precious Jane THE TRUTH about what exactly is going on up on the third floor.

Jane takes off for New Haven and is taken in immediately by the two St. John sisters, who never show me a clear motive for their kindness. I guess they are just really nice? Or something? And yes, they have a super hot brother, studying at the divinity school, who pretty much is a walking poster for aspergers. This whole section drove me batty.

One weird day, after a huge fight with aspergers brother about moving with him to Haiti, Jane goes to the movies and randomly finds herself watching a documentary about her rock star. She gets all verklempt when she finds out that he has never stopped searching for her (seriously, she never even left Connecticut. His people assigned to searching must not be very good.). The end of the movie has a weird epilogue tacked on explaining that rock star was recently critically injured when there was a fire at his house, killing his mysterious third floor resident, and burning his estate to the ground.

The fact that this information is passed on to Jane while watching a documentary in a movie theater nearly drove me to throw the book in the trash.

And yet I kept reading.

Jane and rock star meet again. She leaves the kind, supportive St. John sisters without even a word of thanks and heads back to her jerk. And everyone lives happily ever after.

This was just the worst.

The end of the book included an excerpt of the authors new book, Catherine, a modern Retelling of Wuthering Heights. I’ll pass, thanks. Although admittedly, if I started to read it, I would probably finish it. My bad.

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15
Oct
15

“I’d made the vampire cry. Great. I felt like a real superhero. Harry Dresden, breaker of monsters’ hearts.” CBR7 Review 56.

UnknownOne of the things I like most about doing the Cannonball every year is getting recommendations from other ‘ballers for books I might never have heard of otherwise. Honestly, I can’t believe I had never heard of Jim Butcher or Harry Dresden before, and for that I am sorry. And I also can’t believe that its taken me this long to get around to the first of the series, Storm Front.

I’m going to admit something to you about Storm Front. I had taken it out of the library at least twice before, started it, put it down, and returned it.

But then James Marsters happened.

I saw on Audible that Storm Front was on sale for something crazy like $4, so I downloaded it, pressed play, and from the first paragraph, I was all in.

I know I’m supposed to write about the book, so I will do that very briefly. Really, what I want to write about is James Marsters.

Quick book synopsis:

Harry Dresden is a wizard living and working in Chicago. He gets involved with all sorts of horrible things when a couple is found murdered in a hotel room with their hearts ripped out of their chests. The police bring him in as a paranormal advisor, and then all hell breaks loose. Gigantic scorpions! Hilarious, talking skulls! Faeries who like pizza! I loved every minute of it, and really look forward to reading (ahem, I mean, listening) to the next book as soon as I can.

And now, my thoughts on James Marsters.

Yes, I am a Spike girl, and I love him for that, but this was something completely different (except for the long, black duster coat. That was completely the same.)

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Marsters really brought Harry to life for me. His reading was incredibly human — it was as if the real Harry was just telling me a story about something that happened to him once. It was filled with humanity, humor, horror, sarcasm, and sex (the voice, not the story. Harry doesn’t seem to be too lucky with the ladies just yet.) It made me want to know more about Harry, which I guess is the biggest compliment you can pay to the first book in a long series.

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So thank you, James. You got me involved with a series that I’ve been meaning to get involved with for quite some time. But I couldn’t have done it without you.

Strangely — or not at all strangely — this is the song that ran through my head the entire time I was listening to this book. He’s truly a man for all seasons.

06
Oct
15

What am I going to do when Sue Grafton gets to Z? CBR7 Review 55.

UnknownOne rainy afternoon, about 9 years ago, I went to the local library. I had a toddler and an infant, and the library was right next door to our apartment, so we used to drop by a lot. And I would wander around and pick up random books that looked interesting for me to read while I was up with a cranky baby all night. One of the books I got on that rainy day was a dog-eared paperback called A is for Alibi.

And then I read as many of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone books as I could get my hands on. And these days, I get a little bit excited when a new one comes out. There’s nothing new here, but that’s ok with me. I’m not looking for these books to rock the literary world. I’m just hoping to visit Kinsey’s little world for a few hours, and see what — if anything — has changed since our last visit.

I like Kinsey Millhone, in spite of herself. Kinsey is sort of a pain in the ass, but she really doesn’t care. She understands that she’s a bit prickly and demanding of people, she has a hard time letting people get close to her (unless they are over 85 years old), and she has terrible luck with men. She has a terrible diet, she can’t be bothered to care about her appearance, and she’s cheap. But she considers wine and toilet paper to be the only things that really need to be on a shopping list, and that’s good enough for me.

I also love the fact that these books take place in the 1980s. Kinsey doesn’t have a computer or a cell phone. She uses micro-fiche and goes to the library or town hall to get research done. And she talks and listens to people. So much more interesting than just doing a google search.

In this book, Kinsey is juggling a few things at once, per usual. First off, she is hired by a wealthy woman to find the son she gave up for adoption when she was a teenager. But this woman isn’t exactly who she claims to be, and Kinsey starts snooping around to get to the truth. Between the art heists, secret identities, and crazy divorce settlements, this plot was my favorite of the three.

In addition, Kinsey finds herself caught up in a case from over 20 years prior that her colleague, the late Pete Wollinsky, was investigating. She gets in over her head with this one, and the outcome was both frightening and disturbing.

To balance the upsetting bits, Kinsey also gets involved with her new neighbors — an elderly couple that she immediately dislikes, but her landlord Henry does like. This plot was somewhat ridiculous, but I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed Kinsey’s reaction to every little thing the neighbors got up to.

I love Kinsey’s little day-to-day rituals. After 24 books, we know that she’s going to jog for three miles every day. We know that she only wears turtlenecks and jeans. We know that she wants a chardonnay at the end of the day, usually at Rosie’s tavern with Henry. I was disappointed that Kinsey only ate one peanut butter and pickle sandwich in this book, but was glad that she made up for the lack of that delicacy with a fried salami and pepper jack sandwich that she was drooling over. The lady likes her sandwiches, for sure.

I definitely look forward to each new entry into Grafton’s alphabet series, and I’ll be said when she finally gets to Z. Reading these books is a comforting feeling — you know what you’re going to get, and you enjoy it, like slippers on a cold day, or a nice cup of tea when its raining.




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