Love Overdue by Pamela Morsi (August 2013)

love-overdue

 

The trope of the frumpy librarian breaking out in 5-inch stilettos is amusingly (from a librarian’s perspective) resilient in its attraction to the general public.  I guess it’s that madonna/whore thing. And I can’t say I’m immune to the trope’s attraction.  I’ll refrain from showing up to work in heels that hobble.  But I did amuse myself with this little mass market confection.  There were a few places where I thought, no way, that’s not how libraries work.  But in general, Morsi got it right.  I loved the Miss NO NO NOOOOOOooo! character.  Every library’s gotta have at least one.  I had to suspend my disbelief in a serious way, when the main male character didn’t recognize his siren librarian from a brief encounter with her break-out form eight years earlier.  It’s quite the conceit to believe someone you once slept with isn’t going to recognize you just because you’re actually wearing clothes this time.  Or am I giving men too much credit?  Regardless, this is a fun, contemporary romance, that is well-written enough I only winced a couple times at the sweetness.

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The Universe vs. Alex Woods by Gavin Extence (June 2013)

alex woodsFabulous book.  And it surprised me.  It’s not about what I thought it was going to be about.  And I don’t want to ruin it here by telling you.  I’ll just say it deals with a somewhat controversial subject, and humanizes it in a wonderful way.  This is a coming-of-age story of a 17-year-old boy in England.  Like any other young person who doesn’t fit the standard mold — Alex has epilepsy brought on by being hit by a meteor — he gets bullied.  This might make you think it’s a YA book.  It could be.  But some of the allusions are ones that YA’s may not get, so I’d put this in more of the adult reading category.  This is a funny book.  Such a light sense of humor (in that lovely British way), especially given what ends up being weighty subject matter.  I had no problem, as a middle aged woman, relating to the story.  Maybe in part because one of the characters is a quirky (slightly crazy?) mother, and if I’m honest, I probably fit into that broad (not specific: I do NOT hold seances or collect all things witchy) category.  You’ll close this book feeling pretty certain that your own uniqueness is quite all right.  And you’ll likely have a refreshed perspective on what makes life worth living.

Imperfect Bliss by Susan Fales-Hill (July 2012)

ImageI both enjoyed this book, and am unsure about it.  It’s chick lit with some serious themes.  It’s The Bachelorette for a feminist, gay-positive, anti-racism audience.  It delves equally into earnest, trying-too-hard humor and cliche, and insightful, truly good writing.  The book’s light side centers around the biracial protagonist’s sister who goes on a reality show called “The Virgin” to find her match.  The more serious side deals with attitudes about race (her mom is a self-loathing Jamaican and her father an aloof Brit), homosexuality (one of the characters struggles with sexual identity, and the fallout of coming out), divorce and single motherhood, and the struggle to balance feminist convictions with an open-minded acceptance of real people.  It could be that Fales-Hill has found a way to address serious societal issues in a basically light and fun read.  Or it could be that the book can’t make up it’s mind what it wants to be.  I guess you’ll just have to decide for yourselves.

One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper (Aug 2012)

Wow.  I loved this book.  Gobbled it up.  I was at work yesterday, mourning the fact I couldn’t read it (no, librarians do not just sit around reading on the job), and even though I was queasy and should have just napped when I got home, I read and read and read until I was done.  The ending, though not a “happy ending”, is satisfying.  And the meat of the book is a meal of laugh-out-loud funniness and aching sadness, a savory blend that never has one element dominating the others.  One reviewer has noted that Tropper just “gets men”.  Although as a woman I will likely never get men to anyone’s satisfaction (though not for want of trying), I feel like I get them a little better after reading this book.  I even feel like I understand my ex-husband, baffling soul that he is, a little more (disclaimer in case he’s reading this: you’re NOT like the main character in the most obvious sense).  This is a great read for anyone who has ever screwed up and lost a relationship (isn’t that all of us over the age of 16?).  Tropper’s insight into people’s train of thought is remarkable.  There are so many “yes, you’re right” moments.  Here’s an example:  “Usually she hates it when her pity for him interferes with her anger, and she compensates with extra nastiness . . .”  Think about that for a while, and you too will realize the insight of that observance.  The book is full of them.  But it’s never didactic in any sense — it just flows, and the fabulous humor keeps you flowing right along with it.  Until you reach the end and you sense a shift in your overall understanding of humanity.  You have to love when books can do that.  Galley provided by BEA.

The Lunatics by Dave Berry and Alan Zweibel (Jan, 2012)

First, a board member went into hysterics over this book.  Then a member of upper management.  Then I did.  Lunchtime in the staff room was unbearable for all the ineffectively suppressed snorts of laughter.  And now every time it’s back on our shelves, I face it out with a staff recommendation label, and it gets snatched up.  Everything that happens in Lunatics is stupid.  That a lemur figures so prominently in a caper that begins with two Jewish men in New York City who loathe each other but somehow always end up in each others’ bubbles that flit from one continent to another with ridiculous rapidity and no true point other than digging themselves deeper into the hole they dug themselves at the beginning with said lemur, may give you some idea of the absurd romp you are in for.  Or not.  There’s no good way to explain the plot of such of a book.  You just have to experience it.  If you have a taste for the absurd (and a tolerance for profanity) — and perhaps enjoyed Mark Helprin’s Frederick and Fredericka — you won’t make it half a page without embarrassing yourself in public.

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