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D. Rizzo (United States)
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Faking It
Faking It
by Jennifer Crusie
Edition: Hardcover
47 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, Sept. 1 2002
This review is from: Faking It (Hardcover)
I liked this book, which reprises some of the characters from Welcome to Temptation. However, compared to Welcome to Temptation, this book is a pretty little story. I mean, it's funny, it's warm, it's sexy, and it's worth it... but read Welcome to Temptation first. It's like Faking It is Britney Spears, and Welcome to Temptation is Madonna.
This book concerns the brother of the Dempsey clan, Davy, and his foray into a small Ohio town with its own art gallery. Characters include sisters Tilda and Eve, their mother Gwen, Eve's daughter Nadine, Nadine's father (and Eve's gay ex husband) Andrew, and a host of other eccentrics, including Davy's ex flame Drea Whipple Lewis who's hot on the trail of husband number 3.
Conflicts abound. Drea's latest "harvest" is more interested in Gwen. Davy and Tilda keep meeting in closets. Eve's alter ego, Louise, jumps Davy's friend Simon, who's averse to dating mothers (and not recognizing her as Eve, mother of Nadine). Of course, the omnipresent Crusie dog makes an appearance, this time in the form of Spot, aka Steve, a pooch Tilda rescues from a callous owner who adopted him just for the duration of her home decorating project. All of this action revolves around the central conflict of Tilda needing to recoup gallery forgeries that could damage the business's reputation forever.
Basically, the only REAL problem with this book is the same as Welcome to Temptation: THE CHARACTERS ALL HIT AT ONCE, AND IT'S REALLY HARD TO KEEP THEM STRAIGHT! This time, it was worse since Spot got a person's name after Tilda adopted him, and at times I'd FORGET him, and then it'd mention Steve... and I'd think, who's that? If this author would have her characters call each other by their roles... Mom... Dad... something like that, maybe it'd help.... Either that or a diagram. I am not a stupid woman, and this is for some reason a recurring problem for me with Crusie novels.
But the book is sweet if not sassy like Welcome to Temptation. If you like Crusie, you'll like this book.

Writ of Execution
Writ of Execution
by Perri O'Shaughnessy
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.79
102 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Continuation, July 3 2002
I have read all of the Nina Reilly books, and this is a good one, if not quite as good as its predecessor Move to Strike.
The story concerns slot-jackpot winner Jessie Potter, a young Washoe Indian and fomer Marine, who strikes a 7-mil plus jackpot at a local casino. It also includes her obsessive first-marriage father in law, her husband-of-convenience, and a casino-employed compulsive gambler. Motivations for behavior are as eccentric as the characters themselves, all of whom want something different for diverse and equally eccentric reasons.
There were a few small weaknesses. Jessie, so reluctant to trust even her attorney, embraces the chance to trust her stranger-husband. That hardly makes sense. Then, although the father-in-law issues are explained, they're not demonstrated in the story... he barely escapes paper-doll status as a character. Nina's relationship with pseudoboyfriend Paul van Wagoner hardly justify her hot and cold treatment of him... of course, series regulars get it, but would a series newcomer? There are lots of minor characters, and sometimes it gets inconvenient to have to recall everyone's role in the story... I bet some combining could have simplified matters.
However, authors Mary and Pamela make great strides in the area of literary cohesiveness, fitting together the components of this story with increasingly masterful ease. The character of Kenny (husband of convenience) is a terrific manifestation, and the authors' familiarity with the ins and outs of slot machines and Nevada's gaming industry are both interesting, significant, and (I'd think) illuminating!
I eagerly anticipated this book, and I was quite satisfied that my wait was worth it. I'm now awaiting the next installment!

Spencerville
Spencerville
by Nelson DeMille
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.55
102 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Book!, April 6 2002
I not only enjoyed but connected emotionally to this story about star-crossed lovers and the idiot... husband who impedes their togetherness.
Keith, our protagonist, is a retired Cold War veteran who returns to his hometown to find Annie, his high school and college sweetheart whom he left in Ohio when wanderlust proved more powerful than regular lust. She, in the intervening twenty years, married the local bully, Cliff, a man whose power as the town's corrupt police chief is exceeded only by his paranoia. A sociopath walking the fine line between sanity and absolute psychosis, Cliff responds not well to Keith's arrival, and soon enough the situation becomes both intolerable and amusing, as Keith is more than ready for the challenge Cliff presents.
What I found so impressive on an emotional level was the way Cliff's absolute asinine-ness (if that's a word) worked. ...However, his misuse of power, exaggerated though it is, is entirely believable, and the consequences -- the veritable imprisonment of his wife, his personal manipulation of the law to his own ends -- relatively terrifying. Annie's plight bothered me, as her lack of power in the face of the larger, more evil, hopelessly crazy husband basically left her a sitting duck, even when Keith was on her side, and even when she herself chose to fight back.
Of course, as this is a modern American novel, we all know how it ends.
Anyway, I took away a star for three reasons. First, I don't like Keith's hippie friends. They contribute very little to the story, and I find them distracting... The author was trying to demonstrate just how "over" that era is, and no, these two don't fit into contemporary society at all... They have next to no point, except to get in the way and distract readers who're bothered by their dimness.
Second, I missed Annie's children. The idea of her having children was, I suppose, to connect her more to her husband -- and to explain why she stayed with the nutcase for twenty years. But if she HAS children, they should be important even if they're in college and not home. Are they crazy like their dad? Do they emulate him at all? Does she like them? How does he treat them? The children presented a number of questions that remain hanging in the background.
Last, the author tantalizes readers with snippits about exactly what Keith did for the government for twenty years and throws in Keith's old boss to tempt him back to the government fold. Yet, he never ties up these loose ends.
I think this book has a necessarily wide scope, but I think some of the width means that the author had to incorporate more information than was germane to his main plot line. But there are consequences to that.
However, this is a marvelous book! If you're looking for a chunky summer read, this is a great bet.

Perfect Murder Perfect Town
Perfect Murder Perfect Town
by Lawrence Schiller
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.89
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars For a Fair Ramsey Rookie...., March 14 2002
This is not a bad book.
It has one main advantage and two disadvantages. The biggest advantage is its goal, to present ALL of the information available concerning the 1996 murder of JonBenet Ramsey. The author chronicles the evolution of the investigation and the commentary from both sides of the argument (Did or did not the parents have anything to do with their daughter's murder?) without significant -- at least, to me -- bias. It's a wonderful goal, as so much of this murder has fallen prey to conjecture and speculation... and while this book does acknowledge theories, it does base itself around facts.
The two problems with the book, though, are the occasional streaks toward interpretation... for example, it might say something like, "This person did __________, which could mean __________." But it doesn't NECESSARILY mean what the author suggests, and that does become annoying. Also, there are a LOT of investigators, journalists, friends of the Ramsey's, and peripheral people who are very hard to keep straight. Short of making a glossary of characters, or implementing each person's rank or relationship with his or her name (like "Lieutenant So-and-So"), I would advise potential readers to keep a little list of people for their convenience.
I don't think it's a bad book. I bought it from a bargain counter in a bookstore, and I think the [price] was fair. However, I don't know how important it is for the casual reader to own... so if you're a fellow casual reader and not spiritually invested in this case, you should be satisfied reading the copy from your local library. I could have just borrowed it and not missed owning one.

The Queen and Di: The Untold Story
The Queen and Di: The Untold Story
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Even Handed, Fair, March 4 2002
Having shied away from the more obsequious books on the shelves in recent years, something made me pick this book up and give it a go. I have been quite favorably impressed.
This book classifies the late former Princess of Wales, Diana, and Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth during similar times in their lives. The author covers familiar ground: childhoods, educations, courtships, marriages, marital challenges, child rearing, and public perceptions without sensationalism or conjecture, achieving an impressive objectivity. Although I know some die-hard Diana sympathizers may take issue with some of the details or interpretation of blame (for example, Diana's alleged premarital virginity -- which the author endorses -- and the he-said, she-said within the Wales' marriage), the author's tone makes her both pleasant and easy to read. She is inherently believable.
This book would be perfect for someone curious about the late former princess and her formidable mother in law, but who's never read much on them in a factual medium (that is, something beyond People Magazine or a "blabloid"). I think even most Diana fans would appreciate the author's even-handedness on more sensitive details on the late former princess's life, and fans of the Queen would be further convinced of England's monarch's steadfastness and devotion to her country.
I like this book. I think most others with an interest in British royalty would, too.

Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood: A Novel
Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood: A Novel
by Rebecca Wells
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.60
233 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book. Mostly., Jan. 26 2002
This book does so well what it does well that it's quite possible to overlook the parts that ring false or disturb.
The story centers around a native Louisianan author, Sidda, and her mother angst, the mother being a self-possessed bon vivant who, at the same time, brought terror and fear upon her offspring during their childhood. The two stories told simultaneously, the Sidda's in present and the mother Vivi's in flashback, we the readers see the childhood causes of Vivi's duality of personality... and the effects of her scars on the subsequent generation.
First, this novel does ring true with the friendship between Viv and her three best girlfriends, the "Ya Ya's." The girls are sincerely and believably close; the author of this novel creates this circle of friends during a specific time in that specific place with authenticity and sensitivity. The girls themselves, as well as members of their families, are clearly drawn distinguishable personalities. Their highjinks are amusing and appalling, and their shared experiences make believable the adult closeness which they share as daughter Sidda's story unfolds.
Sidda herself is what doesn't sit firmly with me. She's a successful playwright who alienates her mother by using private scenarios from her childhood as fodder for her very public plays. Sidda, despite her success, is a woman fraught with insecurities and obsessive envy of her mother's place and position of security in life. She yearns for closeness and acceptance with her mother, but she has been disappointed too many times by her unpredicatable and not-always-reliable behavior... perhaps Sidda's discomfiture is understandable, but I find it hard to swallow that an adult woman with a distinguished career, especially one as cerebral and evolved as playwriting, hadn't dealt with her childhood megrims before the wholly adult age of 40.
As a result of Sidda's issues, she's put her relationship with a man she adores and who adores her on hold... she's desperate to fill in blanks that have plagued her since she young (the linchpin scene concerning Vivi's breakdown emerges with tremendous power and startling poignancy), and find a context for her past before initiating her future. That's fine. It's just not as fun to read as the parts involving the Ya Ya's themselves, those four formidable Grande Dames of whom I'd like to be a part.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a unique cast of characters and that "good old boy," Creole variety, of the deep south. I'd read it again... as I already said, its weaknesses are more than offset by its strengths.

Corruption Of Blood
Corruption Of Blood
by Robert Tanenbaum
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
56 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Kennedy, anyone?, Nov. 12 2001
As someone typically fascinated with the Kennedy mystique, this book's subject matter (the Kennedy assassination) intrigued me, especially since in one hand, its author worked on the actual Kennedy investigation... and in the other, he's fluent and creative enough to have invented the mythical Butch Karp, prosecuter extraordinaire. Putting those hands together, we get this particular novel, which examines the assassination from a fictional historical perspective.
I gave the story only three stars because, after a while into it, the Kennedy thing gets kind of muddy. It's really hard to keep all the characters and their interrelations straight (considering that some are good guys, some are known bad guys, some are mysterious and seldom-seen bad guys, some are good guys masquerading as bad guys, most have several aliases, and none of them use first names), and the political double-speak gets hard for me to digest. However, the "answer" in this book as to who killed JFK is sufficiently intriguing and satisfying for conspiracy theorists... and sufficiently absurd in its genesis to satisfy those with less tolerance for flights of fancy.
Much more interesting to me in this book is the sub-plot concerning Butch's wife Marlene, who delves into an investigation of her own, which (as seems to happen regularly in Butch Karp novels) winds up dovetailing neatly with her husband's. This book also introduces readers to the Karp family dog, Sweetie, the rescued Neapolitan mastiff that grows into the treasured family pet who spends half of his time drooling on Karp family belongings -- and the other half as Marlene's partner in vigilantism.
I would recommend first checking out this book in a library for a good preview... and while it does begin tantalizingly, remember what I said about its foggy middle and end. However, if you've been a hard-core Butch Karp fan, this is a necessary, although not especially noteworthy, addition to your Karp collection.

Isle Of Dogs
Isle Of Dogs
by Patricia Cornwell
Edition: Hardcover
89 used & new from CDN$ 0.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Effective Juxtaposition for the Extraordinarily Literate, Oct. 28 2001
This review is from: Isle Of Dogs (Hardcover)
I've read all of Patricia Cornwell books. I snatched this one off of the shelves as soon as I could, having waited for it with great anticipation.
First, let me say that I endorse this book.
I noticed that, up to now, it's had a rather low rating on Amazon, so to prevent outside influence over my own opinion, I've read none of the other reviews... but I'll confess that they don't surprise me much. In this book, Cornwell does a masterful job illuminiating the absurdities of criminals, "red necks," American aristocracy, and human tradition. She weaves into the story significant details of American history, microcosms, and etymology. Her characters who maintain dignity are those motivated primarily by selfless commitment to others, and those with alternative motivations are drawn with such comic hyberbole as to be reduced to their lowest common denominators.
Would many run-of-the-mill readers, who read mostly for pleasure and escape, assimilate as well as appreciate what she's done here? They see "Cornwell" on the cover and expect Scarpetta angst. But their limited perspective does not minimize Cornwell's accomplishment. A one-note author she is not, and Hammer and Brazill represent the exclusive channel for her comedic flair, a highly sophisticated and at times esoteric flair, but a flair nonetheless.
In other words, this is a book for the sophisticated reader, the one with the point of view and experience for a true black comedy.
The only Cornwell writing that made me laugh harder was Lelia Erhart in one of the book's prequels... the woman's malapropisms were marvelous as much for the words she meant as the words she actually said, both of which dovetailed seamlessly and with great effect into the plot. Readers could take everything two ways -- and often her misspeak revealed the precise truth she meant to avoid. Magnificent!
Anyway, I did knock off a star. I miss Virginia West, a character in the prequels. Her elimination leaves Andy "alone" with Hammer, if you catch my drift, to confusing effect. Virginia used to soak up Andy's hormones, allowing him to develop as Judy's mentee, a relationship that was evolving most productively until Cornwell muddied the waters. I don't think a fiftyish and increasingly salty widow, one of accomplishment and dignity, would ever verbalize warmies, even in the abstract, for a man the age of her offspring. Call me crazy, but creating such an atomosphere rings false to me.
Also, there is the issue of readability. This is a challenging book, one I'll have to reread to ensure I got it all. Now, I do admire that modern writers are able to generate stories of complexity and depth for modern readers. Still, when reading a pleasure book, I don't usually skim a page here or there just to get on with the show.
For a Cornwell devotee, go for it! If you're not a voracious reader, this book -- actually, most Cornwell books, which are written intelligently, deeply, and with masterful command of language -- are probably not your cup of tea.

Long Time No See
Long Time No See
by Susan Isaacs
Edition: Hardcover
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.13

3.0 out of 5 stars Great for an Isaacs Devotee.... BUT., Oct. 17 2001
This review is from: Long Time No See (Hardcover)
First, let me say that After All These Years and Shining Through, two books by this author, are two of my favorite books in life... very high praise from an English teacher and natural lifelong voracious reader.
While this sequel to Compromising Positions does somewhat satiate my desire for witty and vibrant Isaacs writing, it leaves me wistful. With this book, Isaccs does her ribald, creative, liberal thing... but like heroine Judith Singer, she's now somewhat predictably paced, a little too readily familiar, and -- dare I say it? -- just a touch YAWN.
Is this author running out of ideas? Must she resort to the vague glimmers of already-told anecdotes and slightly faded allusions? I could almost say Judith's lines with her in this reprise of Compromising Positions... and I figured out the who-done-it well before the end (read After All These Years if you want an amazingly witty murder mystery by this woman... it's a much better illustration of what she can do!).
Don't get me wrong, the mystery itself is terrific, with a powerful punch at the end, when the evil villain emerges. So why does it fail to totally satisfy? I wish the author had saved this idea for a stimulating NEW heroine... someone not quite so liberal, not quite so Semitic, not quite so like all her other heroines. Someone like... Cass, in After All These Years. She's highly intelligent, she's well educated, she's affluent, she's conservative, she's black, she's DIFFERENT.
Oh, and with Nelson, the heroine's adulterous partner in days gone by, expect little of their initial forbidden lustful thrill... Nelson is older, too. It's nice that these two post-menopausal, pre-Medicare folks gained their long-awaited closure, but then I doubt that Judith would either need or much benefit from a twice married, thrice fathered cop-boyfriend, despite Isaacs's efforts to establish Judith's loneliness as a widow and emptiness with "only" her Ph.D. and two grown, successful children.
Most people would have it so good.
Anyway, it's a good -- if not totally fulfilling -- read if you're a devoted Isaacs fan... if you're not yet, don't let this book try to turn you on to her. But read After All These Years. Read Shining Through. Don't watch the movie! Seriously! You'll LOVE them.

Welcome to Temptation
Welcome to Temptation
by Jennifer Crusie
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
88 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Fun Read, Oct. 9 2001
This book was entertaining, amusing, and a great escape. I enjoyed the entire Dempsey family (sisters Sophie and Amy with brother Dave) and all the kooky residents of small town Temptation, Ohio.
The story centers around Amy's task of filming an audition tape for local Temptation celebrity Clea Whipple (which, depending on your life experience, might allude to "squeezing the Charmin" or a transformation of "whipped cream" and "nipple," both apt images to the ripely sexy Clea).
Naturally, as in most Cruisie books, the simple-enough task at hand morphs exponentially into a major problem. A simple audition tape somehow becomes a porn video called (believe it or not) Hot Fleshy Thighs. Clea is busy seducing the son of the man to whom she lost her virginity. Amy the Juvenile Felon is enticing Wes the Country Cop. And Mayor Phineas Tucker (the fourth) thinks Sophie is rather intriguing... despite their disparate sides of the proverbial tracks.
Each page gets funnier, and each funnier part makes the story even more absurd... good absurd, though.
Crusie gets bonus points for her depiction of Phineas Tucker's mother, an austere and formidable woman hell-bent on keeping her son mayor while protecting "his" (really her) best interests, whether or not they'll make him happy. Crusie gets more bonus points for the character of Dillie, Tucker's daughter by his late wife (from Sophie's side of the tracks). Dillie's a full-bodied character all on her own. The kid's a kick in the pants.
However, Crusie loses ground and a star in my rating because of the confusing beginning of this book. It's almost impossible to keep all the characters straight without making a diagram, which I didn't do, but which I almost had to! It was difficult to separate the characters effectively by name, occupation, age, mate, and personality, and to remember the details about each. I got the hang of it about the quarter of the way through, which is too far into the story to impress me.
However, I think this is a great book for kicking back and having some laughs... it's brain candy, but delicious, complex, and worth it brain candy... so enjoy!

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