Monday, May 27, 2013

Books That Deserve a Little Love (And a special announcement)

by Jennifer Harlow

Art is subjective. What one person loves another can think is just garbage. I've gone on record about my feelings about monster hits like Twilight and The DaVinci Code. I didn't like them. I thought the characters were 1D, the dialogue was wretched, and in the case of Twilight I didn't like the values put on display for young people (having a baby and married at 18, almost dying when Edward dumped her),but that's me. To each his own. But recently I heard, and the exact numbers may be off, that 11% of readers are responsible for over 50% of all books recommended. This is why Amazon bought Goodreads, to tap into these people as word of mouth is now the biggest way to sell books. Now I read a lot. I average about three books a week but have been known to read three books in a day. I love most genres save for traditional romance and military history. Not to mention I'm a writer who had to learn what makes a good story, good characters, interesting yet believable dialogue, etc. I also know how hard it is to get word of mouth rolling. So this week I wanted to at least attempt to get some love for books that I think deserve to be read. These are the books that I read at least once a year, that faded into somewhat oblivion, and that I think you'll enjoy. Here they are:
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Josie and Jack by Kelly Braffet
Beautiful, brilliant, and inseparable, Josie and Jack Raeburn live a secluded, anarchic existence in their decaying western Pennsylvania home. The only adult in their lives is their rage-prone father, a physicist, whose erratic behavior finally drives them away. Without a moral compass to guide them, Jack leads Josie into a menacing world of wealth, eroticism, and betrayal. His sociopathic tendencies emerge, and soon Josie must decide which is stronger: the love and devotion she feels for her brother or her will to survive.
From its opening page to its shocking climax, this contemporary Hansel and Gretel story is compulsively readable and hugely entertaining.

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God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo
Beatrice "Trixie" Jordan, a lonely, 27-year-old jewelry designer living in Los Angeles, responds to a personal ad from a man "seeking a friend for the end of the world." The man is Jacob Grace, a 30-year-old writer. They fall madly in love and believe they are soul mates. Abandoned by their fathers, they spend much of their time helping each other come to terms with their feelings. After enduring some emotionally desperate times, they hope better days are ahead and plan to leave L.A. and spend the rest of their lives together. However, when Beatrice was 12, a fortune-teller told her that her true love would die young. First-time novelist DeBartolo, writer and director of the film Dream for an Insomniac, has written an edgy story of love and fate rife with expletives and sex. This is a love story in which a happy ending isn't guaranteed. 

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The Heroines by Eileen Favorite
            Penny and her mother encounter great women from classic works of literature who make the Homestead their destination of choice just as the plots of their tumultuous, unforgettable stories begin to unravel. They appear at all hours of the day and in all manners of distress. A lovesick Madame Bovary languishes in their hammock after Rodolphe has abandoned her, and Scarlett O'Hara's emotions are not easily tempered by tea and eiderdowns. These visitors long for comfort, consolation, and sometimes for more attention than the adolescent Penny wants her mother to give. Knowing that to interfere with their stories would cause mayhem in literature, Anne-Marie does her best to make each Heroine feel at home, with a roof over her head and a shoulder to cry on. But when Penny begins to feel overshadowed by her mother's indulgence of each and every Heroine, havoc ensues, and the thirteen-year-old embarks on her own memorable tale.

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Casandra French's Finishing School for Boys by Eric Garcia
Is it possible to have it all? If by 'all' you mean a succession of irritants building up into one great mess, then that's exactly what Cassandra French has got - a mother who's under house arrest for fraud, a blonde, yoga instructor of a friend who's the sort of man magnet you want your boyfriend staying well clear of, a boring and highly frustrating job as a lawyer for a Hollywood film studio, and three men in her basement. Actually, the three men are proving to be the least of her worries. They're (ahem) enrolled in Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys, a school that, after one bad date too many, Cassandra founded to train young men into better human beings. The curriculum includes color co-ordination, behavior on dates and, occasionally, sex. Everything is going swimmingly well, until she enrolls Jason Kelly, the studio's biggest star. Suddenly, it seems, Cassie is in well over her head.

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Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
Doctor Impossible—evil genius, would-be world conqueror—languishes in prison. Shuffling through the cafeteria line with ordinary criminals, he wonders if the smartest man in the world has done the smartest thing he could with his life. After all, he's lost every battle he's ever fought. But this prison won't hold him forever. 
Fatale—half woman, half high-tech warrior—used to be an unemployed cyborg. Now, she's a rookie member of the world's most famous super-team, the Champions. But being a superhero is not all flying cars and planets in peril—she learns that in the locker rooms and dive bars of superherodom, the men and women (even mutants) behind the masks are as human as anyone.

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The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James
"I have written about the joys of love. I have, in my secret heart, long dreamt of an intimate connection with a man; every Jane, I believe, deserves her Rochester."
Though poor, plain, and unconnected, Charlotte Bronte possesses a deeply passionate side which she reveals only in her writings—creating Jane Eyre and other novels that stand among literature's most beloved works. Living a secluded life in the wilds of Yorkshire with her sisters Emily and Anne, their drug-addicted brother, and an eccentric father who is going blind, Charlotte Bronte dreams of a real love story as fiery as the ones she creates.
But it is in the pages of her diary where Charlotte exposes her deepest feelings and desires—and the truth about her life, its triumphs and shattering disappointments, her family, the inspiration behind her work, her scandalous secret passion for the man she can never have . . . and her intense, dramatic relationship with the man she comes to love, the enigmatic Arthur Bell Nicholls.

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The Pursuit of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman
In her newest well-tuned, witty, and altogether wonderful novel, bestselling author Elinor Lipman dares to ask: Can an upper-middle-class doctor find love with a shady, fast-talking salesman?

Meet Alice Thrift, surgical intern in a Boston hospital, high of I.Q. but low in social graces. She doesn’t mean to be acerbic, clinical, or blunt, but where was she the day they taught Bedside Manner 101? Into Alice’s workaholic and wallflower life comes Ray Russo, a slick traveling fudge salesman in search of a nose job and well-heeled companionship, but not necessarily in that order. Is he a conman or a sincere suitor? Good guy or bad? Alice’s parents, roommate, and best friend Sylvie are appalled at her choice of mate. Despite her doubts, Alice finds herself walking down the aisle, not so much won over as worn down. Will their marriage last the honeymoon? Only if Alice’s best instincts can triumph over Ray’s unsavory ways.

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The Bachelorette Party by Karen McCullah Lutz
After being left at the altar by her soap star fiancé, L.A. high school teacher Zadie Roberts wants nothing to do with love and romance. Still, with the help of her best buddy, Grey, she may somehow overcome the wedding that wasn't. That is, until Grey gets engaged to Zadie's prim and proper cousin Helen, and Zadie is dragged back into wedding festivity hell. The coup de grâce is Helen's bachelorette party, thrown by her clique of prissy friends and certain to be a day of torture. But when the Pinor Grigio goes down and the sweater sets come off, things get out of control. Helen turns into a girl gone wild and manages to get herself into a sticky situation that just might sink the happy couple for good. And meanwhile, Zadie's own love life takes a most unexpected turn. Karen Lutz throws one bachelorette party you won't soon forget.

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Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
Being a Greek god is not all it once was. Yes, the twelve gods of Olympus are alive and well in the twenty-first century, but they are crammed together in a London townhouse-and none too happy about it. And they've had to get day jobs: Artemis as a dog-walker, Apollo as a TV psychic, Aphrodite as a phone sex operator, Dionysus as a DJ.
Even more disturbingly, their powers are waning, and even turning mortals into trees--a favorite pastime of Apollo's--is sapping their vital reserves of strength.
Soon, what begins as a minor squabble between Aphrodite and Apollo escalates into an epic battle of wills. Two perplexed humans, Alice and Neil, who are caught in the crossfire, must fear not only for their own lives, but for the survival of humankind. Nothing less than a true act of heroism is needed-but can these two decidedly ordinary people replicate the feats of the mythical heroes and save the world?

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Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff
Jane Charlotte has been arrested for murder.
She tells police that she is a member of a secret organization devoted to fighting evil; her division is called the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons—"Bad Monkeys" for short.
This confession earns Jane a trip to the jail's psychiatric wing, where a doctor attempts to determine whether she is lying, crazy—or playing a different game altogether. What follows is one of the most clever and gripping novels you'll ever read.

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Vamped by David Sosnowski
So this vampire walks into a bar...Yes, it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it's just another night in the never-ending life of Marty Kowalski. With his trademark slogan -- "There's a sucker born every minute" -- this blood-drinking bachelor has managed to talk half the mortal world into joining the graveyard shift. Now vampires outnumber humans, and Marty is so bored he could die -- again. With modern conveniences like synthetic blood and Mr. Plasma machines, the thrill of the hunt is gone. Especially for Marty, who's starting to wonder if he should just settle down, maybe start a family. Hey, it could happen. But is this confirmed nightcrawler fully prepared to adopt -- and raise -- a human of his own?

There they are. Your new reading list. Enjoy and spread the word.

What about y'all? What are your favorite books that need some love? Besides mine, I mean. Sound off in the comments.

And...BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! I've joined the Kindle publishing world. My book, JUSTICE, Book One in The Galilee Falls Trilogy is out now. It's only $2.99.

It’s hard being a regular police officer in Galilee Falls, a city with the highest concentration of superheroes and villains in the country. It’s even harder watching your best friend, the man you’re secretly in love with your whole life, planning to marry another woman. Detective Joanna Fallon has to contend with both. When the vilest supervillain in the city’s history, Alkaline, the former crime boss who can shoot acid from his wrists, escapes from the maximum security prison, the whole city is gripped by panic. Leading the pursuit is Captain Harry O’Hara, Joanna’s boss and secret lover, and the city’s champion superhero Justice, who caught the villain last time, much to Joanna’s chagrin. Before her father was murdered in a mugging twenty years earlier, Joanna worshiped the hero, but when he disappeared and failed to save her father, that adoration turned to contempt for all supers. After Alkaline attacks too close to home and targets Joanna as his next victim, tough-as-nail Joanna has to contend with her increasing fear while struggling to choose between her life-long crush and her new-found love.

At turns vulnerable and fierce, equally mordant and winsome, Joanna is an earnest yet emotionally damaged heroine, who despite the tough breaks of her childhood sees the good in people and vow to protect her beloved city at all costs. An ass-kicking petite firecracker with no superpowers of her own, she charges after supervillains unflinchingly, never losing her wit even when facing her toughest fight. With a coy blend of whimsy and vivid imagination, she delivers both humor and thrills in an action-packed and edgy blend of comic book cool, fantasy-noir, and bitter-sweet romance.

Buy it HERE.

Now, get reading people!


Beth Groundwater said...

What an interesting selection of books, Jennifer! I hadn't heard of a single one, and I'm glad you shared them with us. I can see now that your writing style reflects your reading tastes--very edgy and eclectic. Good luck with your new self-publishing venture, JUSTICE. Please keep us posted in a future InkSpot article on how it's doing.

Jennifer Harlow said...

Hope you like them.