Saturday, February 11, 2006

Book Review

I took a break from my analysis of the Project Runway collections to watch a bit of the Olympics and to read a book. I watch Chad Hedrick win the gold medal in the 5000 meter in speed skating and I watched the American pairs team perform the first throw triple axle in competition. I've also been watching the snow pile up outside my window and feeling guilty that I parked my car in a space not my own in the garage downstairs. Our apartment is half empty so I doubt I'm actually in someone's assigned space but I'm a worrier. I'm a little over-socialized with regard to rules, I sometimes think.

Anyway--back to the reading a book this afternoon and evening part--I have some conflict about the content of my blog with regard to books. Up until now, I've reviewed a few of the books I've read but the reviews have generally been positive. Books that were a disappointment, I have discreetly not mentioned. What to do, what to do? I've always subscribed to the notion that it's better to say nothing than to say something negative, well, ok--I've tried to subscribe to that notion not always successfully, but I have to consider how intellectually honest is it to mention the books I buy in my bookstore runs but never give my reader(s) a sense of my opinion about them? I don't hesitate to throw my opinions out there regarding Project Runway, Survivor, or the U of I, do I? I know the power of a bad review, but where is the context if all reviews are good and none are bad? So that's the rationale for this review.

I just finished Bitten & Smitten by Michelle Rowen. I bought the book because it has a cover quote by MaryJanice Davidson that says, "A charming, hilarious book! I'm insanely jealous I didn't write it." Well, I love MJ's Betsy books and her Royal books--okay, okay--all her books so that was a big plus for me. Bitten & Smitten is also a vampire book; another of my personal favorites. So there were two good reasons to buy the book not even counting my book buying addiction.

So how did it turn out? My review is mixed, I guess. It is a charming book with humorous elements. The heroine, Sarah, is a bit of a Betsy clone and her narrative voice is amusing most of the time because she has a sarcastic wit. One line I chuckled over was, "Let's stop beating around the bush. Move away from the bush." The book is very well-written. That's nothing to sneeze at nowadays. Good grammar, excellent mix of dialogue and narrative. We spend a little more time in Sarah's head than I would have liked but she does have a lot to adjust to in a short space of time since the book takes place over a week or so.

So what are the problems? Around page 64 I was pretty annoyed by Sarah's stupidity. In fact, I set a page 100 deadline as to whether I would even finish the book I was so hacked at her. Now see, that could be considered a positive, right? Because I was so into the book that the heroine was ticking me off, right? And I missed the deadline because I didn't check my page count again until 136. So there's another positive--I must have been into the story not to notice the page deadline when it came. That said, Sarah annoyed me. A lot. She kept doing stupid things. First she doesn't believe she's a vampire for a while--yeah, yeah, it's a shock, get over it already. Denial does not help. Second, she puts herself in danger by telling a stranger that she's a vampire--because that's the kind of thing you want to spread around, right? Said stranger turns out to be a vampire hunter naturally. Now you may be thinking--hey cut, the heroine some slack, how was she to know that there even were vampire hunters? Well, she barely survived her first encounter with three of them the night before. I'd think she'd be a little more wary. One near death experience would make me look a bit leery at strange guys. Third, Sarah saves the vampire hunter guy whose stated intentions are to kill her. Now would any normal person do that? I mean, a saint, sure--but Sarah doesn't present herself as a goody-two-shoes heroine. She's vain and shallow and materialistic. But she saves the vampire hunter/killer guy and not only saves him--brings him into the vampire's safe place so now he knows where it is so he can tell all his friends!? DUMB.

Other than that it was an okay book, I suppose. I did finish it--that's gotta count for something. Oh yeah--the hero's name was Thierry. I had to block that out of my head--that's was just too dorky of a name. Reminds me of the guy who married Christina Onassis--Athena's dad with the mistress and all. Not a heroic figure, imo. Since Thierry turned out to be married for like 500 years, he fit right in with the not heroic thing. He and the wife were estranged, I guess you'd say, but what? He's never heard of divorce? Better to just go 'round having affairs? We never really get to know Thierry--he's an enigmatic character from the beginning to the end of the book because this book is more like chick lit than a romance. It's really all-Sarah, all the time.

So there you go. Take from this what you will. The book is very much in the MJ Davidson template, but not as good. The heroine is annoying and does stupid things. The hero is a bit player and the story is chick lit, not romance.

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