Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"Blind Submission," by Debra Ginsberg

Angel Robinson, in need of a job after the bookstore she works at closes, is pushed into applying at a literary agency by her (unpublished) boyfriend, Malcolm. She lands the job and dives right into a hellish workplace with a demanding boss, snoopy co-workers, and a never-ending pile of work. She quickly proves herself to be quite invaluable, working with authors to better their manuscripts. Then an anonymous author begins submitting pages of a story that sounds incredibly like Angel's own life. The story soon takes a scary turn when intimate details of Angel's life are revealed.

I have to say that I really liked this book. While I would love to work on authors' manuscripts, the manic pace of the agency and the high demands of the boss genuinely made me nervous. I think Angel was a pretty well developed character, as well as most of the other characters. It would have been nice if she's been a little stronger, but I guess that was rectified in the end.

4 stars

"Rise and Shine," by Anna Quindlen

Bridget is a social worker in New York who has always felt in the shadow of her older sister, Meghan, a morning talk show host. Then Meghan swears at a guest on her show when she thinks her microphone is off, and suddenly her world is falling apart. The FCC launches an investigation, tabloids disregard all of her charity work and focus on the mistake, and Meghan is forced to take a suspended "vacation" from work. And her husband leaves her. She flits away to Jamaica to regain sense of her self, or some crap like that.
Okay, now let me scrape away all the "prose" that critics are harping about and lay it all out the way it really is.
Bridget: I'm a social worker, and I help women who've been abused and mistreated find help and stand up for themselves. I help families in crises. But poor me, my big sister is so popular and beautiful, I can't stand up for myself when she treats me like crap. I'm also dating an old man.
Meghan: Oh, no one understands the pressure I'm under! I'm expected to be beautiful and elegant all the time. My husband doesn't realize that everything I've done has been for him and our son. My mistake is so tragic! I must run away and ignore my son, the one sane person in this crazy world.
Yuck. The only, and I do mean only, sympathetic character in this book is Meghan's son Leo. He's bright, caring, kind, and unselfish. And because the plot is lame, and all the other characters are lousy, what does the author decide to do? Yup. Let's allow Leo to get shot by an inner city thug and become a paraplegic. Even then, the drama is all about the two sisters. It's crap. Also, for every line of dialogue, there are five paragraphs of back story or flashbacks that have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the plot. Where the hell was this woman's editor???
2 stars, and that's only because of Leo. Poor, crippled Leo.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Grave Surprise," by Charlaine Harris

Yes, I read the sequel. It did get better, though the sexual current between Harper and Tolliver continues to flow.

In this book, Harper is hired by an anthropology professor to demonstrate her dead body-finding abilities to his class. Confident that he'll prove her to be a phony, the prof is amazed to find Harper can identify every body in an old graveyard. With one shocking discovery. One grave contains an extra body, that of a young missing girl whom Harper had tried to find two years previously. You guessed it, Harper and Tolliver are forced to stick around to be hassled by police and locals until the whodunnit case is solved.

It's an entertaining read. Kind of on the dark side, which is how I like 'em.

4.5 stars

"The Thirteenth Tale," by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale is the story of Margaret Lea, a young biographer hired to tell the true life story of Vida Winter, England's most famous writer. Up until this point, Vida had made up nineteen different versions of her past. Margaret is less than enthusiastic and demands the facts.

Frankly, I don't care to tell you anymore about the plot. It bored me to tears. I don't understand all the hype about this book. It was excruciatingly slow, and then finally, finally, when I thought I'd reached the end, there were two more chapters. I turn the page, and it's the final details wrapped up. I think I'm done. I turn the page, and it's like, "Oh, I know how when I finish reading a book, I wonder what happens to the characters afterwards. So I'm going to tell you what happens next." Seriously.

You know, maybe if this book had kept a better pace, and the main character wasn't so annoying, it would really be decent. There are some good elements to the story. The background and secrets that are revealed are sound. So I guess it's the writing that's to blame for this miss.

3 stars

By a Spider's Thread, by Laura Lippman

Apparently this is Lippman's eighth installment of a crime series. Had no idea before I started the book, but it makes no difference, really. I didn't feel left out. Anything that referred to the past was explained in short detail.

I really liked the first line of the book, which is why I decided to read it. "They were in one of the 'I' states when Zeke told Isaac he had to ride in the trunk for a little while." Sounds interesting, right?


Tess Monaghan is a P.I. hired to help an Orthodox Jewish furrier, Mark Ruben, find his wife, who has just disappeared with their three children. It's all, "Oh, I'm super Jewish." "Oh, yeah? Well, I'm Jewish, but I don't care about religion...until someone puts Jews down, then I'm super pissed off and hypocritical." Blah, blah, blah.

Don't bother.

2 stars