Thursday, March 01, 2007

Book Report: Mental Health

I'm free! I'm free! I'm free!! The book is turned in, the essay is turned in, and I currently have no major, pressing deadlines. I almost don't know what to do with myself. I'm trying to get a little housework done, then tomorrow I'm heading to the folks' house to hang out and eat barbecue (and probably lots of other stuff). And then work begins again on Monday.

I've been sadly neglecting my book reports. Part of that was because of the deadline, but it was also because of the fact that most of my reading recently has been books I'm judging, and that has to stay anonymous. I may bring up some of those books later, when I can do it in a context that doesn't indicate when and why I read them.

Today's theme would be mental health, which is highly appropriate for "the book is done!" day.

Did any of you see the TV series Emily's Reasons Why Not? It starred Heather Graham and ran for all of one episode before it was cancelled. I don't get TV programmers, because how can they judge what the audience will be based on one airing? They can't tell if the people who did watch would have told other people about it, or if they'd roll their eyes at it and not come back. The episode really wasn't that great. But the series was based on the novel Emily's Reasons Why Not by Carrie Gerlach, and had almost nothing to do with the book, aside from the title and the main character's name. The book itself is a lot of fun, and it manages to sidestep one of the major pitfalls you see in chick lit. One of the most amusing things about chick lit is the bad side of dating and romance, all the bad dates and Mr. Wrongs the heroine experiences before finding Mr. Right. When you're chronically single and dateless, it makes you hate the heroine less for finding the perfect guy when you've seen what she's been through. However, if she goes through too many bad dates or bad guys, there's the danger of her looking Too Stupid To Live if she can't figure out what's not working for her or she can't learn from her mistakes. This book has most of the bad relationship stuff told in retrospective, so we see her learning along the way. Emily is in therapy because of her string of romantic failures. Her therapist makes her take an honest look at her past relationships and make a list of reasons why each relationship was a bad idea. For most of the book, each section is about a particular relationship and what happened, followed by the list she comes up with of the things she should have realized or has learned from it. By the end, we see her putting the Reasons into practice. So we get the best of both worlds, all the fun of her disasters while also seeing that in the present she's trying to grow.

Then, closer to the women's fiction realm is Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakthrough by Isabel Sharpe. Isabel has been a good friend for a long time, so it's been fun to read the finished product after being part of some of the brainstorming for various parts of the book. When she first came up with the idea, she described it as "Madonna moves to Mayberry." After the not-guilty verdict in the trial of the century for allegedly murdering her abusive, cheating lover, the only place Lorelei Taylor has to go is the house she inherited from her grandmother in a small Wisconsin town. She's the kind of person who can't help but shake things up, and her influence ends up affecting a Stepford wife who can't deal with anything short of perfection and an abused young wife who sees that not-guilty verdict as an inspiration. Think Desperate Housewives, except not nearly so campy and with actual character growth.

And then I have another Out of the Blogosphere book, My Favorite Earthling by Susan Grant.

Keira, warrior-queen of the galaxy, is as famous for her beauty as she is for avoiding marriage. But when an upstart little planet called Earth threatens her world with its fleet of spaceships, the fate of her people lies in her hands. She must bind herself to a barbarian from the rogue world...or face the destruction of her own!

Confirmed bachelor Jared Jasper knew the trick Earth pulled on the alien invaders wasn't a permanent solution. What they needed was a peace treaty. It just never occurred to him that he would wind up on the bargaining table. Playing the pushover groom to a mouthy alien babe who knows how to use a plasma sword is not exactly his idea of fun. But with six-billion people depending on him, he doesn't have much choice--sleep with the enemy...or bring on interstellar war.

For more info and an excerpt, check out Susan's web site. She also blogs about her adventures as a 747 pilot, which is a lot of fun to read.

Finally, two months from today, Damsel Under Stress will be released!

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