Friday, September 23, 2011

Good books

Checking out books from the library is such a freeing experience for me, mainly because the books there are close to free so I can pick up things I wouldn't plunk down my debit card for. Right now, I'm experiencing a period of heightened fiscal responsibility so I'm not buying books. This is very difficult for me. Very. But I have been lucky enough to get on a pretty nice streak with books from the library.

You saw this one in the photo from yesterday. I did finish it. Everything worked out in the end, which is good because there are two more books in the series already out. To Fetch a Thief by Spencer Quinn (real name Peter Abrahams, award-winning author, Stephen King's favorite writer) is the second in the Chet and Bernie series. Dog On It was first. I read it and talked about it here. I took a chance then and now because I have a policy against reading books with dogs in them. It's much too easy to harm them in fiction and my heart can't take it. What's different about this series is that Chet, the dog, is the narrator. As a "writer" who's backed into the first-person corner with a story, I am so impressed at how much we know about Bernie and the world when we only know what Chet the dog sees, understands, and remembers. The basic plot: Bernie and Chet are private investigators hired to work as a bodyguard for a dog-show winner. The kidnapping threat turns into two missing people and a dog. There's murder, crooked cops, and adventure. If you've ever wondered what your dog thinks or you laugh out loud at dog antics, try this one. The story holds things together, but the character of Chet is the attraction here.

And the other one I checked out because it was there was Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie. I don't like gothic anything and this is a gothic romance. I recently rented and made myself sit through Jane Eyre because that's what English majors do. Orphaned governess moves into a spooky house with an inscrutable employer, falls in love that can never be because she's poor, she inherits from a previously unknown rich relative, and the crazy lady in the attic burns the house down so that Jane returns to save her love Rochester.

I don't like dark or spooky or crazy ladies who burn down houses. I am not a fan of orphans, haunted houses, or mysterious accidents. I don't like dark. This is another strict policy I have. I took a chance on Maybe This Time, a gothic romance with a twist, based on the author. Crusie books are often weird but also funny. This is my theme: I'll take a chance on you but I want you to be funny whether you are a biography or a romance or a mystery or a fantasy. Just be funny.

And Maybe This Time is. It's funny. And gothic. The plot: 10 years after their divorce, teacher Andromeda tells lawyer North that she's remarrying. He asks for help with his two wards. Their aunt died in a fall at the spooky house transplanted from England and they keep running off nannies. They live with a crazy housekeeper on an isolated estate. There are ghosts. Some are malicious. There is a cast of characters that shows up for a house party/seance at the end. Wackiness and deadly seriousness ensues. Through it all, Andromeda is funny.

We know I have eclectic tastes in most things. The common thread here is funny. This is what I like to read. And this is how I'd like to write. Someday.

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