My Favorite Books, #8 – Faking It by Jennifer Crusie

Love me some Jennifer Crusie!
Faking It Cover

While it is, on paper, a ‘sequel’ to Welcome to Temptation, this book is very much a stand alone. Funny, witty and with the heroine simply ‘putting up’ with the sex at the start , it’s a classic early Crusie turn-romance-conventions-on-their-heads story line.

The publisher’s weekly blurb:

Bestseller Crusie (Fast Women, etc.) takes readers on another smooth ride in her latest romantic caper. At the wheel this time is fab art forger Matilda Goodnight, whose chance encounter in a closet with cute con man/thief Davy Dempsey leads to madcap mayhem and breathless romance. He’s trying to steal back the money he filched from Clea Lewis, ex-girlfriend (and possible husband killer), who had taken it right back. Tilda just wants her last “Scarlet” painting, which Clea has bought to impress Mason Phipps, her rich art-obsessed beau. It’s the last of six forgeries Tilda did for Tony, her now deceased gallery-owner dad, and Tilda is determined to preserve her newly squeaky-clean reputation. Confused yet? It gets wackier, because the whole Goodnight clan and supporting cast are as enormously engaging as the loopy plot. There’s Tilda’s mother, Gwen; her sister, Eve/Louise, a split-personality teacher/diva; her gay ex-brother-in-law, Andrew; and her precocious teenage niece, Nadine. Add a host of shady characters and would-be hitmen, and the breezy plot thickens and puffs up like the light airy doughnuts all Goodnight women are attracted to but eventually forsake for muffins: “Muffins are for the long haul and they always taste good. They don’t have that oh-my-God-I-have-to-have-that thing that the doughnuts have going for them, but you still want them the next morning.” Finally, defying all odds, Crusie answers the burning questions she poses can liars and thieves fall in love, live happily ever after and stay out of jail? while confirming the dangers of dating doughnuts.

So many things are right with this book it’s hard to pinpoint a favorite. I think, if I had to give someone one reason to read it, aside from the aforementioned starting off with low-quality sex between the hero and heroine, I’d say, as a writer, it’s the depth and quality of the supporting characters.

Of course, now that I’m back in Ohio, picking a book set in Columbus isn’t a bad start either.

Favorite Books #7 – The Blue Sword

Another YA book which I have re-read many times, The Blue Sword is a wonderful story of a girl who never quite fit in while growing up who finds herself loving a place so far away and very different from home. Soon she’s embroiled in local life far more than she or anyone one around her ever anticipated. The echo of British Empire in this novel appeals to me, as does McKinley’s character’s range of reaction to the land they find themselves in. And there’s a romance, too!

From the blurb at Amazon:

Harry Crewe is an orphan girl who comes to live in Damar, the desert country shared by the Homelanders and the secretive, magical Hillfolk. Her life is quiet and ordinary-until the night she is kidnapped by Corlath, the Hillfolk King, who takes her deep into the desert. She does not know the Hillfolk language; she does not know why she has been chosen. But Corlath does.

Hope you give it a try!

Wednesday Words: Boomie’s Spa Experience

This is one of the *funniest* bits of writing I’ve read in quite a bit. And it actually happened!

Boomie, who has (had?) a dating blog on Maplewood Online, wrote about an experience having a massage with a friend.

I’ll post the start, but you *have* to go read the rest (scroll down the page until you come across the ‘start’ I’ve posted)!

My special friend and I who shall remain nameless (double tee) decided to have a nice spa experience in Koreatown on the advice of another friend who shall remain nameless (lars)…

We had been in the city earlier so we took a cab to the spa, Juvenex. Its on the fifth floor of some greasy looking building so we get a little nervous but upon exiting the elavator we were pleased to see it was indeed “rainforest” like it in it’s prettiness inside, with tubs everywhere, steam rooms, showers etc.

After we picked our treatments we were quickly escorted to a room to change and given our locker keys. We were told to “put on these bathing suits”…..um what? I tell her, “we brought our bathing suits” and she replies “no no you use this one…” and she hands each of us what looked like a fortune cookie. These were our “bathing suits”…you unwrap them to find a paper piece of a napkin or some **** with velcro for a “top” and paper panties for the bottom….oh my GOD. A black paper bikini!!!!! A bikini made of a wet wipe! AND it was tiny! We got some ass and boobage goin on my girl and I… Did she REALLY think I was going to slap these DD’s into that? Double Tee and I were horrified but cracking up as we can’t seem to help doing….the vision of us walking around the spa in those paper bikinis with our t&a dangling and jangling in those handwipes… ok so we did it….hey at least it was black- that would have a slimming effect….so with the panties and top on….we are told to take a shower. Did I mention these Korean chicks at this spa are BOSSY?!!! They practically pushed us into the shower and told us to rinse ONLY.

Favorite Books #10, Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris

IMO this book is one of Charlaine Harris’ finest works. A very dark heroine who is trying to find her way after life shattering events, this book is about surviving and moving forward.

The write up on Amazon:

Harris, author of the Aurora Teagarden series, now introduces Lily Bard, resident of Shakespeare, Arkansas, a woman fiercely protective of her privacy, determined to succeed as a one-woman cleaning agency, and just as fiercely determined to excel in karate. When the unpopular and very nosy owner of the apartment building next door is murdered and the body dumped in the local park, Lily reports the body to the police–anonymously. The local police chief, however, is nobody’s fool and quickly discovers Lily’s involvement and her own past, which makes her a possible suspect. Given the situation and, since she cleans for many of the other possible suspects, some opportunities, Lily decides that the only way to clear her name is to find the real killer. Harris has created an intriguing new character in this solidly plotted story. Expect more from crime fiction’s first cleaning-lady series.

I love flawed heroines who are doing their damnedest to make their way in the ‘normal’ world and it doesn’t get much better than this book.

My Favorite Books #9, A Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith

Actually, A Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith is one of my daughter’s favorite books and when I asked her for a suggestion she couldn’t believe I hadn’t included it yet.

So here we go. I *have* to use the original cover, it’s much better than the new one as it shows more of the diversity of the group:

And here is the review I wrote back in 2009 on it:

I love fantasy and now have a daughter who loves it too. The good news/bad news is that, while she’s only in first grade she’s reading at a fifth grade or above level. While I’ve been able to find some fantasy books at her reading level that don’t have implied, or semi explicit sex, it’s hard! Even Tamora Pierce, one of my fav authors, won’t work for her. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think sex (implied or semi explicit) is inappropriate to put in books for middle school and above, however I do think my daughter, at six, is too young to read it.
This book, however, is a wonderfully fun, chaste, book. She can’t decide which of the princesses is her favorite and likes them all. And it shows her that, just like people, princesses come in all types, shapes and sizes (and temperaments!) Although I figured out the plot twist pretty early on, the book still worked and the last third, wherein the ‘Posse’ is formed makes up for the plot device. I didn’t like how the ending was handled when I first read it, but it’s grown on me.
Recommended (for you and your precocious daughter if you have one!)

Hope you like it as much as we did (my daughter corrected that to “as much as we do!“)

Wednesday Words – Snippets!

Okay, now that I’m rolling along with favorite books on Monday, Songs and Videos on Friday, it’s time to add a new feature: Words on Wednesday!

For today, I’m including a snippet/excerpt of mine from a work in progress which I’ve been referring to as Camille and the Zombie (this is unlikely to be it’s final name!). Other weeks I may have quotes from favorite authors, excerpts from other writers and anything else which strikes my fancy and I think fits the theme.

Unlike my post New Story, Somewhat Different this is much more of the type of story I typically write.

Hope you enjoy it!

He wanted to know she was?! What the hell was he? And how the heck had he learned to use magic with such control? Frank had not just used magic but seemed comfortable and knowledgeable about uses and spells she had no clue about. All kinds of worries and questions and wonderment hit her. Camille refrained from any response, knowing there wasn’t any sensible answer she could give.

“What in tarnation is going on?” Andrew’s voice cut the tense silence. Tarnation? Clearly he was trying to convince the group he was a good old boy. Accompanied, no, restrained by, a large, lethal looking man in black, he came around the corner of the warehouse. For some reason they hadn’t bothered to take away his gun. Given his fury, she was glad he couldn’t aim the carbine in his hand at her. “Camille, you’d better have a good explanation!”

Andrew had dressed the part with his stomach hanging out over torn sweats and his boots only half laced. He wretched his shoulder out of the man’s grip – something the escort clearly allowed to happen – and looked around, stopping at the abandoned truck. The back door had swung open and several caskets were cantilevered out, precariously hanging over the edge. Andrew’s arm holding the rifle jerked and his face turned red. His rheumy blue eyes were fixed on her.

Camille wondered why the hell they hadn’t disarmed him when they had him. He stalked over to her, his body shaking in fury. The escort followed but did nothing. A quick glance and she was slightly reassured to see the safety was still on his gun. But really, these guys!

“Holy mother of Elvis, that’s my goods that are being ruined! Camille you – you – you’re fired!” Andrew’s voice roared like an auctioneer’s at ‘fired’. “And I don’t know who the pretty boy is, but you can be sure as there’s mud in the Mississippi I’m going to be suing both your sweet asses for damages.”

With the last pronouncement he shook his empty fist in Camille’s face. Okay, he had a right to be pissed, but this was going too far. Camille drew back her arm to slap his hand away only to find Frank stepping in the slim space between them forcing them both back up a step. Okay, not a problem, probably a good thing she didn’t hit him given there was still a slight chance she’d have a job at the end of all this, no matter what Andrew had said. Camille peered around Frank’s shoulder.

Andrew was muttering and using his free hand to pat the many pockets of his fishing vest, which he’d thrown on over the quilted flannel shirt he wore through out the winter. Likely looking for his cell phone.

“Sir,” Frank said. Andrew halted his movements and looked at him with a wary eye. “We need you to come down to the station to make a statement.”

“What? I didn’t do anything wrong. No sirree. I’m an innocent party here. Nothing to do with those Zombies taking them caskets.” Andrew, the idiot, was gesticulating wildly with the rifle with one hand and still trying to locate his phone with the other.

Frank grabbed the stock of the gun and yanked it out of Andrew’s hands. Camille found the gun thrust into her hands as Frank twisted Andrew’s arm up behind him. Okay, Frank might not have the training she’d had, but his move was as smooth and as quick as she’d ever seen. She removed the ammo clip and put it in her pocket, since these guys seemed likely to hand the damn thing back to Andrew.

“That’s an interesting statement. Care to repeat it?” Frank asked.

“I didn’t have nothing to do – oh hell.” Andrew clammed up after that. Frank propelled him back to the warehouse the escort following. There he deliberately turned his back to exclude her from the conversation. He even went so far as to walk them around the corner of the building, out of sight.

Camille didn’t know if she was more annoyed or relieved. Either way she took advantage of the opportunity and ran back to the far steps. She set down the gun and, with a jump, she grabbed the top of the fence and quickly clambered over.

And…it’s off!

The query letter and partial from the contest I ‘won’ at Savvy Author are off to Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

(insert incoherency here).

Yes, I know, it could be weeks, months before I hear back. Doesn’t mean I won’t be anxious for the first week. Or two. Or three.

Sigh.

Before I forget, I really, really need to thank all of my friends at ERA, esp Cherise Sinclair, for all their help tightening up my query.  You all are the best!