Thursday, July 19, 2012

Romance in the Stacks: Tempted Again by Cathie Linz

Tempted Again by Cathie Linz
PB Romance Linz
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Teen librarian Marissa Bennett has just went through a painful divorce and wants to start over in her hometown of Hopeful, OH.  Unfortunately, she doesn't exactly make the best first impression when she makes a wrong turn and accidentally crashes the Founder's Day in her beat up lime green VW bug.  She's pulled over by hunky cop Connor Doyle.  Doyle is a former, third generation Chicago police officer who moved to Hopeful after seeing too many of the teens he was trying to protect from gangs wind up murdered.  He also has a history with Marissa.  They dated when she was in high school and they worked at the same pizza place.  Connor dumped her with not even so much as a phone call.  Naturally, she still hates him.

However, the fates seem to keep on pushing them together.  First, Marissa and Connor are forced to work together on a teen group.  Then, Marissa accidentally signs a lease next to Connor. No way these two adversaries get over their mutual disdain and find true love, right?

Praise:  Cathie Linz is a former librarian, so the portrayal of Marissa's job is pretty accurate.  I like the support characters a lot, especially Connor's extremely proud, Polish granny.  Marissa's dad, a history professor who turns every conversation into a dissertation on ancient Egypt, is pretty funny too.  Also, I found the obstacles to Marissa and Connor's relationship refreshingly realistic.  Marissa is on the rebound and has been hurt by Connor once before, and Connor isn't ready to settle down yet. 

Quibbles:  I'm kind of tired of the police officer/ librarian pairing.  This is the third library romance where the love interest is an officer.  Nothing against dreamy cops (or anyone dreamy), but I'd like a little more variety!  Why not a dreamy firefighter or chef for a change? 

Overall, this book was pretty enjoyable.  It's not too sappy or emotional like some of the romances that I've read.  Some parts of the book are laugh-out loud funny. Tempted Again reads more like witty chick-lit than a traditional romance novel.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

So hot right now: Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn is so hot right now since releasing her third novel Gone Girl in early June to wide acclaim (hints that it will be on many "best of 2012" lists). Because it might be difficult to get your hands on her newest, don't hesitate to get one of her older titles Sharp Objects or Dark Places.

Flynn's novels may not be for everyone; they are dark and suspenseful (although there is occasionally a drollness that pops up). But, and it's a big but, they are skillfully written and rewarding. Her characterization in both books are stellar. She writes people and dialogue realistically and the reader meets the characters as one would in person-- over time. Though this technique might imply a slow-paced read, they aren't.

Sharp Objects follows Camille Preaker, a reporter living in Chicago who is tapped by her boss to return to her home town in Missouri to report on the murders of two young girls. She is not pleased about this prospect, and we find out why as she re-introduces herself into the world of Wind Gap, Missouri. Camille is shut-out of the official investigation by the sheriff, but she's always got good 'ole gossip to go on. However, things get uncomfortable the minute she's back in her childhood home: the memories of her long-dead little sister, her cold mother, her step-father without a spine and her pre-teen half-sister who's got a reputation around town as a trouble maker. She reverts back to her own dark thoughts and memories in mere days of being back home while trying to find out what happened to the two murdered girls.

Dark Places begins 20-odd years after the murder of Libby Day's family. She and her brother Ben were the only two survivors, but Ben is in jail for the murders and Libby (as a seven-year-old) helped put him there. When a so-called murder club offers her money-- something she's run out of-- Libby is motivated to begin an investigation of that day. Did Ben really murder her mother and two sisters?
Libby isn't the most likeable of characters, but, once again, Flynn presents a truthful persona born from a deeply traumatized childhood. Dark Places is also an exceptional study in perception. Flynn drops details which seem insignificant, but we come to find out aren't. What is one person's innocent belongings are another person's proof of guilt. Chapters alternate between Libby in present day, and Ben and their mother, Patty, the day in 1985 leading to the overnight murders. It's an effective device for keeping the suspense afloat as well as giving the reader some perspective. (To those it may interest: in mid May Amy Adams was reportedly in talks to play Libby in the film adaptation of this book.)

Sharp Objects
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Dark Places
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Gone Girl
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