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.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I hope you all have enjoyed my reviews because this will be the last one. I’m done. Broken. Taken to the mountaintop and then shoved off. I’m finished reading. Forever. Time to take up knitting.

I thought (smugly) when I read The Heart’s Invisible Furies 3 weeks ago that I had met my book of the year. It was leaps and bounds past anything I’d read this year, and I truly felt it was untoppable. Hahahahaha.

StD does have an unfair advantage in that it’s Fantasy. My favorite genre. So maybe THIF is better, and my bias infringed on a clear and truthful review. That said – y’all are here bc you seem to like my bias. So I’ll tell you now that StD was better. More beautiful. Effervescent and action-packed and the most romantic non-romance I’ve ever read. Shoot, this joker was more romantic than plenty of romances.

At heart – even at 38 years old – I’m that awkward nerd girl addicted to magic and a quest and something bigger than all of us. Lord of the Rings. Harry Potter. Everything yummy by Neil Gaiman and VE Schwab.

As usual – I won’t bother discussing the plot. I will tell you I was moved – to the bottom of my feet – by a book that seemed to expend no effort in doing so. From the slow but captivating beginning building inexorably to a ending so heartbreaking and frustrating and enthralling I knew that I was in the presence of greatness. A book doing all those things books are meant to do – transporting the reader to some place beautiful and difficult and moving and important. More breathtaking than any thrill-ride. More touching than any movie. All of the things a book should be delivered with grace and ease.

Here’s a side note – this is book 1 in a duology. Book 2 comes out October 2. And you’re gonna NEEEEEEEEEED book 2 when you finish book 1. I’m going to be a better friend to you than Sam was to me and let you know that whatever space you have between book 1 and book 2 will be endless. That said – I’m still going to suggest you go out today and read this. Every day you haven’t read it is a day you’re missing something.

Just under 4 months for this, my current Book of the Year, to be unseated. Laini Taylor and I welcome all challengers.

See my Review of Muse of Nightmares.