Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lucy Monroe: The Real Deal

The Real Deal: C-
Amanda something & Simon Brant

Years after a disastrous marriage destroyed any semblance of self-esteem, all Amanda Zachary has left is her career. She scores a major coup in being assigned the task of negotiating a merger between her firm and a computer company, but one of the owners, Simon Brant, refuses. Over six feet of exotic looks, rock-hard abs, and sexy ponytail, Simon is a genius-recluse ensconced on an island near Seattle. Said genius has a few flaws, including stunted social skills and a tendency to become so engrossed in his work that he disappears for hours, even days. Overcome with a sudden idea, he abruptly ends his first meeting with Amanda and suggests that they reconvene at his house, which is how they end up living together. She keeps trying to convince Simon; he keeps disappearing; she is afraid she's falling in love, and the only way Simon can think of to keep her around is to delay making a decision.

After hearing raves about this novel, I shoved my lazy body into my car and went on my merry way to the library, where I checked it out ('hm, the cover is not too bad') and excitedly started to read the book when I'd come back home.

Mm...... disappointment!!!

It was a got-out-of-bad-relationship-will-discover-the-strong-woman-in-me novel with a little bit of I'm-insecure-about-my-body mixed in. While I'm gung-ho about women finding themselves, releasing their sexuality, finding their soul mate and falling in love.... it did not work in this less-than-pleasurable story.

So, Amanda got out of her bad marriage. She is climbing up in her company. She needs to somehow get the reclusive-but-brilliant Simon Brant to agree with her company's merger. She heads on over to his home for an interview.

I don't really remember what happened, but I'm getting the feeling that Simon sees her for a millisecond and then abandons her when a great idea pops up into his mind. She then is forced to sleep over at his home (how unprofessional of both Amanda and Simon!) because she misses the only outgoing ferry (or something like that).

Then she talks with his butler, is 'coerced' into practicing martial arts with Simon and works out with him(insert in the high sexual chemistry, tension, sweaty bodies, whatever whatever whatever). Once again, I can't see this happening in real life; super improbable and very unprofessional.

Unprofessionality set aside, Amanda really needs that merger so she stays with him, seeing him when she can and trying to convince him.

Then some things happen and then they're in bed, having the sex of their lives. Her insecurities come out. She's self-conscious (from her previous douchebaggy ex-husband) but Simon gets rid of all of those insecurities, which is really nice. (After all, if a guy can let you be confident of who you are, what more can he do for you to show that he cares?)

I do believe that that was the one good part of this novel. Simon easing Amanda's fears.

Then the latter half of the book is them rolling around in bed. They have sex like half a bajillion times. She experiences the greatest pleasure of her life, he is intrigued by her, they in


I think by the end, they're in love, as expected of a hero and heroine.

But oh man, I didn't see it coming, and the rather explicit sex scenes (and there were a ton of lusty glances, touches, sighs, moans, yadda yadda yadda) was off-putting. As it is with me and all other novels, if I am not emotionally invested in the characters (and believe me, I didn't give a rat's ass about Amanda or Simon... maybe just a little for Simon, but not really) the sex is quite unenjoyable.

So. I didn't like this.
I was disappointed.

So I don't recommend this.
...but I feel that I might be in the minority about this novel.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sophia Kinsella: Remember Me?

Remember Me? : A
Lexi Smart

Shopaholicpowerhouse Kinsella delights again with her latest, a winning if unoriginal tale of amnesia striking an ambitious shrew and changing her life for the better. After taking a nasty bump on the head, Lexi Smart awakens in a hospital convinced that it's 2004 and that she's just missed her father's funeral. It's actually three years later, and she no longer has crooked teeth, frizzy hair and a loser boyfriend. Initially wowed by what she's become—a gorgeous, cut-throat businesswoman—Lexi soon finds herself attempting to figure out how it happened.

As her personality change and lost memory threaten her job, Lexi tries to dredge up some chemistry with her handsome albeit priggish husband, Eric, though the effort is unnecessary with Eric's colleague Jon, who tells Lexi that she was about to leave Eric for him. Amnesia tales may be old hat, but Kinsella keeps things fresh and frothy with workplace politicking, romantic intrigue and a vibrant (though sometimes caricatured) cast. Though the happy ending won't come as a surprise, readers will be rooting for Lexi all along.

This is my pick of the month!!
(Technically speaking, it would have been the pick of my month in September, but I read it late-September... and this is my blog so I'm allowed to cheat. Really.)

If you know me, you know I don't put up with cruddy heroines, even if I might allow a little BS from the heroes. So I wasn't surprised when I started to read the Shopaholic series and ...put it down after thirty pages (the heroine is completely not in control of herself.. though I'm sure that changes later on.... it's a beast to put up with in the beginning.)

So when I saw this little jewel staring at me on the library shelves, I ignored the sensible, rational part of me and checked the sucker out.

I have no regrets.
The book is good enough for me to want to almost-glom all of Kinsella's novels.
(Almost glom being that I don't know if I really want to read about the uncontrollable shopper just quite yet...)

Lexi Smart wakes up from her mild 3-day coma with her brain from three years ago: she is shocked at her changed appearance, her gorgeous husband, her no-longer-close best friends, and the high-status at her job.

What happened?
What happened?

That is the question she asks - and one that you will undoubtedly ask.

Slowly, but surely, old-Lexi finds the life that new-Lexi has created for herself and tries to continue living her life as the new-Lexi, only to find that the new-Lexi is radically different from the old.

She is no longer the awkward, easygoing girl.
She's a powerhorse: a beast at work, sharp dresser, always-shrewd.Off-tune karaoke singing has been replaced by glamorous parties with expensive wine. She has a personal assistant who shops for her. She drives a Mercedes Benz.

When she meets Jon, her gorgeous husband's architect, she feels chemistry and a thrill that she is unable to muster up for her husband. It can't be!, she thinks. I married Eric so I must love him!

Little by little, old-Lexi tries to right the wrongs... and in doing so, completes herself, something that new-Lexi had been unable to do.

I read this book at, like, 11:30pm, thinking, 'Oh, I'll read a couple of pages now and read little bits over the next couple of days' - a result of the disastrous exams that were sneaking up on me.

Oh, I was wrong!!
I remained GLUED to the book for the next four hours (read it in record time).
It was 4:30am when I finished and I wanted to kill myself for the tiredness I would feel from the lack of sleep. I also wanted to kick Kinsella: after all, she was the reason why I hadn't slept that night.

I laughed, shrieking sometimes.
I felt the chemistry between Jon and old-Lexi.
And, of course, I groaned at old-Lexi-trying-to-be-new-Lexi.

A fast, funny, delightfully entertaining read - I declare this a must read for chick-lit and non-chick-lit lovers alike.

Go! Now! Read it!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Linda Howard: Death Angel

Death Angel: B
Drea Rosseau

A striking beauty with a taste for diamonds and dangerous men, Drea Rousseau is more than content to be arm candy for Rafael Salinas, a notorious crime lord who deals with betrayal through quick and treacherous means: a bullet to the back of the head, a blade across the neck, an incendiary device beneath a car. Eager to break with Rafael, Drea makes a fateful decision and a desperate move, stealing a mountain of cash from the malicious killer. After all, an escape needs to be financed.

Though Drea runs, Salinas knows she can’t hide–and he dispatches a cold-blooded assassin in hot pursuit, resulting in a tragic turn of events. Or does it?

Left for dead, Drea miraculously returns to the realm of the living a changed woman. She’s no longer shallow and selfish, no longer steals or cheats or sells herself short. Both humbled and thrilled with this unexpected second chance, Drea embraces her new life. But in order to feel safe and sound–and stop nervously looking over her shoulder–she will need to take down those who marked her for death.

Joining forces with the FBI, supplying vital inside information that only she can provide, Drea finds herself working with the most dangerous man she’s ever known. Yet the closer they get to danger, the more intense their feelings for each other become, and the more Drea realizes that the cost of her new life may be her life itself–as well as her heart.

This was a most interesting read.
Very interesting.

When I read it a month ago, I gave it an A-. Now I'm obliged to give it a substantially lower grade.

Drea is the girlfriend of really-bad-guy Rafael Salinas. Coming from an impoverished background, she's done whatever she could to provide for herself... and she's done pretty well for herself in terms of material wealth. However, Salinas doesn't give her the love and acceptance that she so yearns for in her heart.

When she meets Salinas' go-to man (aka assassin), they share an incredible experience and crazily, (seriously, crazily) she wants to turn to this man for comfort, knowing full well that he wouldn't be able, or willing to, care for her.

In realizing this and in realizing the shittiness of her situation with Salinas, she makes a run for it, taking $2mil of Salinas cash with her.

He, of course, finds out and is furious.
He dispatches the hit man to go after her and effectively take her off the radar.

She runs from everyone and through a car accident, dies. (it says left for dead - she actually dies) Miraculously (and ever-so-slightly touching the paranormal realm), shed is given another chance at life... and she is a changed woman.

When she and the hit man meet again, they try to put an end to the bad Salinas.

I don't mind paranormals, dying, and etc etc. However, I do mind relating to the hero and heroine. I understood and sympathized (somewhat) with Drea. But I could not relate to the hero.

Similar to Diaz from Cry No More, the hero is hard to read, closed, distant, cold-blooded, and... well... what you would expect hit-men and assassins to be.

However, unlike Diaz, our hero remains distant to the end of the novel. While he changes - albeit slightly- for Drea, I still couldn't understand how Drea could have possibly loved him. He was stoic. He didn't talk. He just.... he just... I don't know... just... was there. It was apparent that he cared for her, yet I felt something was missing.

As for Drea caring for hero - she kind-of fell into love with him the moment she met him, so she just... loved him. BUT, I can't relate to how she came to feel safe and wanted and cared-for in his arms, as Howard wrote.

It's this strange mesh of incomprehension that I'm left with, even at the end of the story.

I think that Ms. Howard might have taken her uber alpha hero a bit too far.
If you're going to have someone fall in love with a sniper/ assassin/ killer-dude, make him somewhat ...human?

Other than this, the story was interesting to read. I'm not sure if I truly recommend this or not. I say GO FOR IT - but borrow from your local library before purchasing this baby.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lauren Weisberger: Everyone Worth Knowing

Everyone Worth Knowing: A+
Bette Robinson & Sammy

When Bette Robinson quits her Manhattan banking job like the impulsive girl she's never been, she knows she won't miss the 80-hour workweeks, her claustrophobic cubicle, or her revolting boss. But soon the novelty of walking her four-pound dog around her unglamorous Murray Hill neighborhood wears as thin as the "What Are You Going to Do With Your Life?" phone calls from her parents.

Then Bette meets Kelly, head of Manhattan's hottest PR firm, and suddenly she has a brand-new job where the primary requirement is to see and be seen inside the VIP rooms of the city's most exclusive nightclubs. Bette learns not to blink at the famous faces, the black Amex cards, or the ruthless paparazzi. Soon she's dating an infamous playboy—and scaring off the one decent guy she meets. Still, how can she complain about a job that pays her to party? But when Bette begins appearing in a vicious new gossip column, she realizes that the line between her personal and professional life is . . . invisible.

I'm sure everyone hear has read and/or seen The Devil Wears Prada, the debut novel written by Lauren Weisberger.

It was funny, I admit.

Weisberger's second novel, Everyone Worth Knowing, is even funnier.
I loved it.

It's about Bette, raised by hippy-organic-earth loving-vegan parents, who after quitting her fairly successful job at an investment banking firm, chooses to work for an event-planning public-relations firm.

While doing so, she becomes the newest girl-toy for Manhattan's hottest and most eligible bachelor, Phillip Weston.

She doesn't really know how it happens.

In what it seems like a mere second, her life becomes flipped upside-down; she's staying out late, going into expensive bars and the trendiest "it" places in town. Everything else that's not part of this rich-people-but-superficially-shallow world gets cast aside.

Strangely enough, it's in this atmosphere that she meets a cutey bouncer at one of the clubs. He sees Bette and realizes that she's different from all of the other party-going girls.. it's when they're put together to put on a huge party that they get to know each other.

(Ohmygosh, may I add in here that Sammy is adorably adorable???!)

This novel thrusts you into the glamour world and the craziness that is event-planning. From Manhattan to Poughkeepsie, New York to Istanbul, Turkey, this novel has it all: romance, laughs, friends, and shitty co-workers. A definite keeper on my shelf.