Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Phyl's 5 Phaves from December
I feel as if I should subtitle this post "Large Print and my Treadmill." Because that's how so many old Nora Roberts titles ended up on my December reading list and how 2 of those wound up as Phaves. Bear with me while I explain. In the recent past when I've been looking for an older title it has not been unusual for me to find it in my library's large print section. It's where I found a copy of Judith Ivory's The Proposition (see #3). I've always known that my daily treadmill time is much more enjoyable if I can read while I walk. But I really need ideal lighting conditions to walk while I read a paperback. When I figured out that a large print book is easiest on my eyes I went to the library and began browsing the large print shelves and discovered a whole section of old Nora Roberts titles (late '80s). I grabbed half a dozen and brought them home. What fun to discover these old categories. I'm hoping to go back and find old Linda Howard or Suzanne Brockmann books to read. Who else should I look for?
Meanwhile, I have to comment on what it's like to read books that are now over 20 years old. It's a little weird, I have to say, to read a "contemporary" that was pre-internet and pre-cell phones. Characters used typewriters! They smoked! But that's the small stuff. The big stuff is to realize how and why NR became the best-selling author she is. The books she wrote in the late '80s are well-written, often humorous and emotional, and show tremendous variety. The lead characters in the books I read this month include a TV producer, dancers, a model, an architect, a publisher, a scientist, a spy, and a romance novelist (see #1). There's nothing cookie-cutter about these books. It's been a real pleasure to discover them. And I was grateful for the incentive to stay on my treadmill a bit longer!
Anyhow, without further ado:
5. The Name of the Game by Nora Roberts. This book was originally published in 1988 and features a female TV producer. Johanna is the daughter of a famous Hollywood producer, but driven to succeed on her own. Besides having no time or interest in a relationship, she has serious trust issues. When movie star Sam Weaver appears on her game show Sam finds himself doing whatever it takes to prove to Johanna that she can believe they have a future together. I just looked this up on Amazon and discovered that this book was re-released this past week in a trade called "Duets." How timely!
4. The Preacher's Wife by Cheryl St. John. This is from Harlequin's inspirational line (Steeple Hill Love Inspired) and tells the story of a childless widow who agrees to marry a widowed preacher with three young daughters. The preacher and his daughters are still affected by the tragedy of losing their wife/mother. Josie says yes to the marriage, mostly because she is a very lonely woman (her only family is a bitter mother-in-law), but also because she believes it's what God wants her to do. The actions of the characters are very much based on their Christian faith, but nonetheless the book deals realistically with grief, with the dynamics of making a new family that has to include Josie, and how love can grow again. This book is touching and sweet and would appeal if you like inspy books.
3. The Proposition by Judith Ivory. When I reviewed Black Silk back in November, Jessica commented that she was reading this one and loving it. Since I enjoyed BS so much, I looked for this at the library, found it only in Large Print, and brought it home. This was a thoroughly entertaining read and I loved the Pygmalian tale told with the gender roles reversed. The ending was a bit of a fairy tale, but it worked. After having read two books now by Ivory, I'll be looking for more of her back list. How unfortunate that she's no longer writing.
2. The Lost, an anthology with stories by J.D. Robb, Patricia Gaffney, Mary Blayney, and Ruth Ryan Langan. This paranormal anthology revolves around the theme of something being lost. In the Robb story, Eve knows she has a murder on her hand, but no body. For fans of the In Death series, this is another fun installment. In the Blayney story, a man is cursed and in a sense lost in time as he is condemned to the same time and place while others around him age and move on. Langan tells a story of lost family. I liked all three of these stories. But my favorite was the Gaffney, "The Dog Days of Laurie Summer." This was just so well done. It tells the story of a woman who has an accident which leaves her body in a coma. But her consciousness enters the body of a labrador retriever. The dog, coincidentally enough, is adopted by Laurie's husband and son. And so Laurie learns some valuable truth about her life and marriage. I loved how Gaffney made Laurie both dog and human. Very well done.
1. Loving Jack by Nora Roberts. I think this is one of the best category romances I've ever read. It was funny, emotional, and very tightly written. As usual, Roberts gives great insight into her characters through their work. But you also see very clearly how Jackie and Nathan grow and learn to accept their differences. Jackie is a writer of historical romances, and while I don't imagine this book is autobiographical, I would not be surprised if Roberts described her own work process when she wrote Jackie. Roberts also tells us about the book Jackie is writing. That book became Lawless which I happen to have on reserve (in Large Print of course). Loving Jack was republished in 2008 in a double book called Love by Design, so it's probably readily available.