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Finding the Me in Mommy

Jennifer Crusie’s “Bet Me” is pretty much a sure thing

Another book review!  First of all, I need to let you all know that this book is not new to me.  I’ve read it over, and over, and over.  I really wanted to write about a book that I love, and one that I hope any of you who are actually reading this, will love too.  Especially after the disappointment of the last book I reviewed.

So, “Bet Me” by Jennifer Crusie.  All of Crusie’s books are on my bookshelf.  That’s right, every single one.  And, don’t tell my husband, but I might have a few of them on electronic copy too.  Anytime I need a lift, one of her books does the trick. Like printed Prozac.  (Is Prozac even prescribed anymore?)

“Bet Me” has some of the best characters you’ll find in any fiction novel.  I enjoy all of Crusie’s characters, but there is something about Min Dobbs that just makes me feel like I want to know her, or I do know her, or heck, maybe I am her.   She is so real, slightly neurotic and worried about her weight.  She meets a gorgeous man who falls for her instead of the skinny chick.  And Crusie makes you believe it could happen!  He thinks she’s hot, he feeds her doughnuts, he stands up to her mother.  That works for me.  If I’m going to fantasize, its probably going to be about a man cleaning house and bearing cheesecake rather than Fabio.  Maybe one who lets me sleep in and changes all the diapers.  Or one who…never mind, I’m getting a little sidetracked here.

Another character in this book whom I adore is Harry.  I have a soft spot for little boys, can’t imagine why, but watch for him and I think he’ll steal your heart too.

If you’ve never read anything by Jennifer Crusie, if you don’t read romance, if you think you simply can’t find time to read, consider this my Valentine’s Day gift to you.  Read this book!  It will improve your day.  And seriously, what beats that?

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Life lessons from Blue’s Clues. Really.

On our last trip to the library, my 3 year old picked out his usual books.  Thomas, Charlie Brown, Max & Ruby, etc.  For some bizarre reason, he really wanted this Blue’s Clues book, called “I’m Sorry!” by Justin Chanda.  He considers himself too old for Blue’s Clues, so I was both surprised and irritated.  I can’t stand the Blue’s Clues show.  The silly mail song gets stuck in my head and the guy is weird bordering on creepy.  I watched one episode where he did an Elvis accent, and I’ve never been able to watch it again.

So I have to admit I totally rolled my eyes at this book.  I put off reading it to him, saying “Wouldn’t you rather read Calling All Engines?  Or Charlie Brown Valentine?”  Finally, it was the only library book left unread, and I was stuck.

It ended up that the joke was on me.  I love this book!  I guess without the annoying song or the guy who gives me the heebie-jeebies, it’s a whole different ball game.

In the story, Green Puppy borrows Magenta’s favorite crayon and accidentally breaks it.  (Side note:  I’m a little bewildered by green, blue and magenta colored puppies, but it didn’t faze my toddler at all.)  Magenta is sad, of course, when she finds the broken crayon.  Green feels bad, but doesn’t know how to tell Magenta that it was her fault.  Through the story, all the characters help Green find nice things to do to show Magenta that she’s sorry, but in the end, Green learns that being sincerely sorry is what matters the most.

Seriously, what a great lesson!  This is exactly the concept of sorry that I most want my children to understand.  A sincere sorry and honesty about what happened are most important.

We read this book the night before last.  Last night, I had something occur that reminded me that this basic concept of sorry applies to all people, all ages, in all interactions.  Sorry doesn’t mean anything unless you feel it in your heart.

I have high hopes that my children will learn this at 3, and not have to learn it by causing pain to someone else when they’re my age.  And if Blue’s Clues helps that happen, I guess I’m okay with Blue and her many-colored buddies.  Although, I’m still a little freaked out by Steve.

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“A Discovery of Witches” crosses genres, but is it a good thing?

As promised, I’m starting the book review section of this blog.  I read constantly.  I don’t stick to one genre, and I will read the instructions to a toy or the back of a cereal box if I don’t have a book handy.

I just finished A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  I chose this book solely by the cover (I know, a sin among readers).  We recently took a little mini-vacation and I forgot a book.  That’s a really bad thing, because I’m a bit of an insomniac and without something to read, I will toss and turn, waking up my husband and my kids in the confined space of a hotel room.  So we stopped at Target and while my husband impatiently tapped his foot, I grabbed a book that looked okay.  I started it during our trip, but it was sloooooooooow going.  When we came back home, I went back to the book I had been reading before we left, a Kathy Reichs novel that guaranteed me some suspense.

I finished Cross Bones (Reichs at her finest, by the way), and restarted A Discovery of Witches.  It took about fifty pages, but eventually I felt invested enough in the story to want to keep going.

This isn’t the typical witches, vampires and daemons book.  In fact, there were several points in the novel where I forgot completely that there was a supernatural theme at all.  The author becomes very caught up in history, both where it relates to the characters individually and where it relates to the history of the supernatural creatures in general.  Let me just say, I love history.  For me, the best and most interesting parts of the book were when the author got lost in the historical aspects.  If you’re not a history buff, I have a feeling those passages will be excruciatingly dull and wordy for you.

I like some supernatural themed novels.  I love Harry Potter, I’m a fan of Kelley Armstrong, and Shanna Swendson’s Katie Chandler books are fantastic light reads.  I sometimes read long, descriptive historical novels and get so caught up in them that I’m sad when I hit the last page, like I did when I read The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson.  And occasionally I read lighter, full-of-humor romance novels, like anything written by Jennifer Crusie.

The biggest problem with A Discovery of Witches is that it tries, in one really long novel, to satisfy and intrigue the fans of any of the above genres.  For me, it pretty much fails in all categories.  It’s too long and in-depth to be a romance novel, it’s too fluffy to truly appeal to the reader of more serious books, and the supernatural aspect feels like a throw-away to fit in with the current “in” topic.

And the biggest irritation of all, for me, is how it leaves you hanging at the end.  It’s like the author is taunting you with the knowledge that you have to buy the second, and third, and thousandth installments in this series to know what happens to the protagonist.  I, personally, didn’t care enough about the protagonist to feel inclined to purchase the next one.

I’d rather buy another Kathy Reichs.

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