The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

***Updated review October 31, 2018***
This weekend Sam suggested that I try Scribd. I figured I’d do the 30 day trial and see how much reading it brought me. I am not a book-listener so I wasn’t anticipating using that Scribd service. Fast forward to Monday afternoon when I’m diagnosed with the flu. Burning up with fever. Muscles aching. Randomly dozing off at every opportunity. Both the ARC and the amazing Duran I’m reading felt like too much – for very different reasons. I looked for The Hating Game on Scribd and saw it was only there as an audiobook. What the heck? I couldn’t be any more miserable, and I was desperate for one of my favorite books of all time.
It turns out listening to The Hating Game was exactly what I needed. Oh, I’m still sick and miserable. But the time goes by faster when an incredible book is read aloud.
I’m not sure that I’ll read or listen to this book again though. It has a magic to it. But I fear that it’s a shiny veneer that would rub off upon too close an inspection. I want this book to remain the unspoiled confection that it is. So today I bid a fond adieu and say a sweet thank you to this wonderful, funny, touching, kind, and happy book.

***Original Review August 31, 2016***
Take the stars. All of them. Load them up in a wheelbarrow or cargo plane or semi-truck. Take them all! I got to the bottom of page 4 and fell so hard – I was like that skydiver with no parachute.

Honestly, I’m going to revisit this review in a month. I have to know if these feelings subside. I love this book like you’d love a person. A tiny fireball person. Or a big hulking psycho in a robin’s egg blue shirt.

I think this is the best romance I’ve ever read. I’m not sure how to get over it. It’s like someone broke up with me. I want to sip tea in the window seat while rain streams down and Radiohead plays in the background.

I want to travel back in time to a moment I haven’t read this so I can read it for the first time. Better yet – I want to curl up into a tiny ball and drop into these pages – never to be seen again.

Clever. Well-written. Light with a surprising depth. These little sentences that made me stop and grin. Vivid colors and bright funny images. A sweet funny woman and a very bottled-up man in an engaging private war with immense repercussions.

Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie

Read during a breather in the Duran binge. It was cute, and I didn’t want cute. Mostly I wanted Duran. But it’s hard to read one incredible emotional book after another without one of them suffering because of my overload.

It only took a few hours to read this, and it was fun. Easy. But nothing was engaged. And at times I was frustrated and impatient with the characters and their hang-ups. Still, so-so Crusie isn’t bad stuff.

Now back to the Duran…

The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

As we’ve talked about before – angst is such a personal thing. Generally, particularly in contemporary romance, I avoid it. (Suanne being my notable exception). I find that angst is frequently created by the plot. A lazy author device where horrible incident after incident is thrown at the characters. Their reactions aren’t explained beyond “x just happened so of course this is the reaction.” But we don’t all react the same to stress.

So when an author is spoon-feeding me her character’s reactions with no emotional context I’m resentful and bored. Meredith Duran avoided all of this. There were difficult and harsh events in the story, but they weren’t the center of the upheaval. My feelings – sadness and stress and worry and and love for the characters – came from the characters themselves. Julian and Emma were the strength of the story – its bedrock. Organic sentiments were stirred by them – not by the crap happening to them. It’s a difficult distinction. It involves an author doing work – making characters that I will love and with whom I will connect rather than writing cringe-worthy high-drama that belongs in a soap opera.

I suspect I’ve found something magical in Duran – a truly special author. I’m anticipating reading everything she’s written.

Faking It by Jennifer Crusie

This was not truly truly a 5 star read. But it’s my prerogative – and next year or in 3 years I’ll look back and remember this idiotic book that had me smiling throughout.

It’s charming bc it’s the story of two grifters falling in love. With terrible sex. And lies. And the most insane family I’ve read outside an Irving novel. Tilda and Davy were offbeat and bizarre and real. Rather than a book where a character has a quirk or imperfection this was a story where the characters were quirks and imperfections.

Matilda. Louise. Nadine. Ethan. Gwennie. Ford. Rabbit. Clea. Mason. Andrew. Eve. Jeff. Michael. Davy. And Sophie. Plus a visit from the Mayor! I am going to miss you guys so much. There was nothing normal about this book, and i couldn’t be happier about that.

Welcome to Temptation

An understated, snarky, sneak-up-on-you kind of love story that I thoroughly enjoyed. This book felt so matter-of-fact. It didn’t feel like a romance for much of the book. And then it did.

Phin the bear meets Sophie the pornographer. Their love is a reluctant one… I loved his lackadaisical attitude and her vulnerability hidden under thorns. Excellent supporting characters. A mystery. Everything for which I could ask.

Jennifer Crusie is finding a place in my heart.

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie

I don’t get to use the word zany very often, but this was zany! Sort of like a Stephanie Plum novel, but way better. A huge insane cast. Hijinks galore. And a hero who didn’t have a huge role, but gave good swoon.

This was highly recommended to me as a laugh-out-loud book. It didn’t make me laugh, but it did make me genuinely happy.

I’m excited to have found Jennifer Crusie and delighted with this silly read.