Thursday, May 31, 2007

Book Report catch-up

I'm late posting today because I met my parents for lunch, then ran a few errands on the way home. Since the good catfish restaurant back home closed down, we've been looking for a new one, and I found a great place in Dallas that we went to today. We knew it would be good when there was a line out the door and a wait for tables at 11:30. I also noticed that most of the diners were men. I may be eating lunch out more often. :-)

I've updated my web site with a few fun things about the series and about the latest book. For those who are in book clubs, I've done a reading group guide for the series. I've also posted some photos of settings for Damsel Under Stress. I have more stuff to add, and I'll be doing that gradually over the summer as I get time. The next few weeks are going to be hectic, since I'll be at conventions on weekends and needing to write during the week.

Now I'll catch up on book reports. First, a couple of chick lit books I found when I kind of went nuts on the sale table:
Dress You Up in My Love by Diane Stingley is a fun twist on the "invent and then rent a boyfriend" plot. Samantha invents a date with a fictional boyfriend as an excuse to escape early from her mother's Thanksgiving dinner, then later uses that same imaginary boyfriend to prove that she's not at all upset about her lifelong male best friend (the one she's always been sure she'd end up with) falling in love with someone else. When people expect to actually meet this guy, she hires a struggling actor to play him. There's just one problem: the actor takes his craft very seriously and insists on full creative control as he approaches the role as an improv exercise. That was the twist I loved. Usually, the rent-a-date guys in these books are willing to just show up, be perfect and act like they're in love, but this one starts looking for his motivation, figuring out why he does the things he does, and building a complete backstory for his character, to the point where Sam realizes she even has bad taste in fictional men.

Then there was Lexi James and the Council of Girlfriends by Melissa Jacobs. This book has kind of a "Sex and the City" vibe to it (though with much less annoying women), as it's about a group of close friends who counsel each other through life's ups and downs, often meeting at brunch to do so. Lexi also has what she calls "the Senior Council," the women she met while volunteering at a Jewish retirement home who have become like a bunch of adopted Jewish grandmothers who love to dish out advice (and the fact that she actually bothers to do volunteer work automatically moves this chick above people like Carrie Bradshaw). A lot of chick lit critics whine about how these books are all about how important it is to find a man or buy shoes, but the main plot of this one was more about her career, dealing with her boss, and figuring out what she wanted to do with her life, which was a nice switch. There's still a dose of romance, but it's definitely secondary.

And then on a totally different note, there's a new fantasy novel that just came out this week called Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin. I got to read the manuscript of this book last fall, since I did the endorsement blurb on the back cover (and in a strange way I think I get more thrilled about seeing my name on a book in that context than I do seeing my name on my own book), and it was a ton of fun. It's sort of a fantasy/mystery adventure with a lot of humor and with some great characters. It also got the Mom seal of approval. I let my mom read the manuscript, and she called me as soon as she finished it to find out if there would be a sequel. I had to tell her that the first one wasn't even published yet (I have, however, already told the editor that I'd be happy to read the sequel for a blurb).

I may post a quick note before I head to A-Kon tomorrow. Then I'll be offline all weekend.

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