Recent Reading

Saturday, July 28, 2007

CRANK by Ellen Hopkins. This book was disturbing, heart wrenching and very raw. One of the things that kept me reading was that I understood about being that age and the allure of 'bad company' and illicit excitement of pushing boundaries or crossing the line. Not that I did anything near as destructive as the protag of this book-- my sense of self-preservation has always been too well-developed, but it's all part of growing up, isn't? Breaking curfews or sneaking out, stepping past that 'No Trespassing' sign, or trying that first cigarette, or any other 'fill-in-the-blank' gamble. The writing is also captivating. The whole book written in free verse, so in many cases, because of formatting, the subtext was clearly stated even as the narrative moved forward. Don't let the poetry throw you, the story telling is very straightforward nothing pretentious, etc. Here's the booklist synopsis:

Gr. 8-12. Like the teenage crack user in the film Traffic, the young addict in this wrenching, cautionary debut lives in a comfortable, advantaged home with caring parents. Sixteen-year-old Kristina first tries crank, or crystal meth, while visiting her long-estranged father, a crank junkie. Bree is Kristina's imagined, bolder self, who flirts outrageously and gets high without remorse, and when Kristina returns to her mother and family in Reno, it's Bree who makes connections with edgy guys and other crank users that escalate into full-blown addiction and heartrending consequences. Hopkins tells Kristina's story in experimental verse. A few overreaching lines seem out of step with character voices: a boyfriend, for example, tells Kristina that he'd like to wait for sex until she is "free from dreams of yesterday." But Hopkins uses the spare, fragmented style to powerful effect, heightening the emotional impact of dialogues, inner monologues, and devastating scenes, including a brutal date rape. Readers won't soon forget smart, sardonic Kristina; her chilling descent into addiction; or the author's note, which references her own daughter's struggle with "the monster."

THE SHOE QUEEN by Anna Davis. I loved this book! When I saw the title, I thought it was a chick lit, but since I luuuurve shoes and have had quite the collection myself (although nowhere near the 523 pairs that the heroine owns) how could i resist this book? I had to pluck it off the shelf and at least read the back blurb. I wish I had a pic of the back cover. It's a lovely photo of an elegant lady (the heroine?) dressed as a 'flapper'. The story takes place "in the glitter and excitement of 1920's bohemian Paris" and the author does a kickass job of really bringing the period to life. The sights and sounds, the language and setting. Everything. She has quite a lovely way of writing reminds me of Judith Ivory or Patricia Gaffney. I really, really, wish more romances were written during this time period.

But this book is NOT a romance. The heroine is married and not in love with her husband, though she's excessively fond of him, and she does fall into an affair or two during the course of the book, one with the man who is the love of her life. Or is he just an obsession. The one person or thing that doesn't fall into her lap. Who says no to her (at least initially). There is a tragic incident in her past that she's never fully dealt with and affects her behavior in the present, the emptiness that she tries to fill with an endless stream of parties, her collection, striving to be the premier hostess and to be known for her own talents as a poet. I love how the symbolism/importance of the shoes is revealed, what the mean to her past and her current situation and how that love/obsession is shared and understood with hero(?). I'll admit, part of me wishes this was a romance with an HEA or HFN, but I was happier to see that the heroine was well on her way of healing. I enjoyed this book so much I even read the book club questions at the end, *g*, and really thought about the answers. There's also some information on the real life characters many of the characters in the book are based on. Which could be part of the reason all the secondaries came across as fully-fledge and complex-- although that's probably more due to the author's skill. Definitely recommending this read.

I don't care for the blurbs on Amazon or Chapters.Indigo so I'll reproduce the inside cover text, here: When English society beauty Genevieve Shelby King spots the most exquisite le slippers on the feet of her archrival she covets a pair of her own. But exclusive designer, Paolo Zachari denies her request--and no amount of money from her wealthy American husband will change his mind. Soon Genevieve’s desire for a pair of unobtainable shoes develops into an obsession with their elusive creator--threatening her marriage. Zachari awakens her to a passion beyond anything she has ever known, forcing her o confront the emptiness of her elaborately designed life and a secret buried deep in her past.

A small tangent here on back blurbs. A lot of them suck! Who the heck writes those things. A perfectly intriguing cover and title are decimated by some cliché riddled vaguish tripe which tells me absolutely nothing about the book, story, and characters. blech.

THE BILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR by Jessica Bird, is pretty much what you'd expect from aka JR Ward writing a contemporary romance without the vamps. She has a very entertaining commercial voice that just reels you in for the ride. This is the second Jessica Bird category I've read and I think she's on my auto-buy list at this point, which sez a lot because I rarely buy/read category books for one reason or the other. I actually took a short break in the middle of reading The Shoe Queen (which I loved) to read this book in a matter of hours. Quick, easy, fun, hot. Go for it.

I'm gonna try HOOKING UP. I haven't read TOM WOLFE since BONFIRES was a big deal, but this collection looks like fun.

I've read a crap load more books in the last months but can't be arsed into posting about them now, although I meant to at the time. I will say that I've finally been bitten by the Julia Quinn bug. I had several of her books in the tbr piles for eons but only just got around to reading her. I started with the Sir Philip one (loved it), dug up the Duke & I (loved it), then went on to The Secrete Diaries (loved it) How the Marry a Marquis was.... meh. There's probable more in the boxes in the basement, but me digging them out ain't gonna happen at this point.
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Ray-Anne said...

Thank you Vanessa for the tip re the new Jessica Bird. The extract on e-Harlequin was good enough to take me straight to Amazon!
LOL Ray-Anne

Jaye said...

oops, I've been offline for awhile, Ray-anne so sorry I didn't reply to this post. You're welcome. I'm sure you'll finish the Jessica Bird book in one straight reading. She just has a way with storytelling that compelling and fun. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :-)

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