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WiB Summer Edition: Week 12

August 6, 2010

I’m still not even at 200 books for this year.  I’m sad.  And running out of graphic novels at my library system to read.  So.

First up: High Heaven by Quinn Wilder, a ’90s Harlequin off my to-read shelf.  The usual: he’s trying not to be sexist, she’s strong but tender inside.  Throw in a mentally challenged dependent and you have a Harlequin.  Nothing special.  Got tossed in the give-away bag after I was done with it.

Next, Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen.  I got this at the library and bought it for my kid’s birthday in a double-pack (she likes two books in one, especially when you have to literally flip the book) at the same time, and when I started it I was like “Oh God, what have I done?”  It was packaged with a much lighter, younger book, but…as I started to go through it, I realized that the lessons it’s teaching are important ones.  I don’t want my daughter to think that being a teenager means drug and alcohol experimentation, because it certainly didn’t mean it for me, but I don’t want to shelter her from reading about these things either.  I’d like to say it’s a tough call, but it’s really not.  I’m just not going to censor her.  I would prefer her to be older when she reads this, but…it’s probably now that the important things will stick.  But that’s not really anything about the book itself, is it?  It’s a good book, about a girl whose best friend loses her boyfriend suddenly and then realizes she’s pregnant.  The two of them go through it together.  It’s got shades of Along for the Ride with the mother character, like this mother is the prequel to that one.  I liked it.  I liked it more and more as it went on and I distanced myself from reading it as a book I bought to give to my kid.  You know?

Then I read Burger Wuss by M.T. Anderson–another one off my to-read shelf.  I liked it, but it was missing something.  It felt a little like Howe’s The Misfits but didn’t quite live up to the same emotional connection.  It’s about a kid whose girl dumps him and he wants revenge, which is all tied up with a job at a fast food joint.  There’s satire and subversion, and teen angst and whatnot, but it didn’t quite come together the way I wanted it to.

After that came The Beach House by Jane Green.  I’m glad I picked this one up; it’s the Jane Green novel I was looking for her to do, where she steps away from the vapid city girl and hits a stronger emotional level.  Yes, there are shades of several other authors in it–Binchy, Pilcher–but I liked it MORE for that.  It didn’t feel like a rip-off, but an homage.  I KNEW she had it in her.  Very pleased.  But I still wish they’d hire someone to take the Britishisms out of the mouths of her American characters.

I picked up a reread next–Anne O. Faulk’s Holding Out.  This was one I used to love, but for some reason either gave up or didn’t steal from my mother when I should have.  It’s a book that only could have been written when it was written: post-OJ, post-Clarence Thomas, the aging second wave and militant third wave of feminism comes together to oust a wife-beating Chief Justice from his position, using a patsy by the name of Lauren Fontaine as its spokesperson.  Lauren’s a great character, if a bit TOO perfect from today’s point-of-view—single parent who works hard and ends up with a TON of money (from working on Wall Street), who is told all the time how attractive and great she is.  She leads a sex strike, which of course happens right when she’s found a great guy–her not-quite-childhood hero, Jake, who knows exactly what it’s like to be in the spotlight for a cause greater than yourself.  It’s such a FUN read, and the fiance and I spent like two days debating aspects of the book, even though he didn’t read it with me.  But I don’t think he could have.  It takes an optimistic view of the government that he just doesn’t have.

Finally, I read Proven Guilty, a Dresden Files book.  This is the first Dresden book I’ve ever given five stars to, and let me tell you why: It’s tight.  It’s enjoyable.  Butcher has worked his way up to writing damn good books, and I’ve always been reluctant to give these five stars because I don’t LOVE them.  They’re fantasy; that’s just not my preferred reading type.  But Butcher doesn’t deserve four stars because he’s built a near-perfect world: one where everything makes sense.  Where series repetition of introduction to characters and scenarios doesn’t bore me (no “perfect-size-6” blah blah blah here).  WHERE I HAVE COME TO LIKE AND *ENJOY* WHAT BASICALLY BOILS DOWN TO POLITICS AND POWER PLAYS.  That’s a heck of a lot of conversion on my part.  And if I, not a fantasy fan, am enjoying the hell out of these books?  Yeah, I bet most people will too.

And now I REALLY want to see the show.

Well, that was it for this week.  Tune in next week with more Dresden Files, and um…IDK.  Fairy tales?

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