Monthly Archives: February 2013

Night Hawk by Beverly Jenkins

Before I read Night Hawk I’d been holding out for a hero. I’d been holding out for a hero until the morning light. He had to be strong, and he had to ride his horse into a saloon and he had to have a Scottish brogue that he brought out on special occasions. Ian Vance aka Ian Bigelow aka Preacher? NAILS IT. He gets the job done. That is, when Maggie Freeman wasn’t taking matters into her own hands. She didn’t wait around for Ian to swoop in and save her, although she has no doubt that he would. They complimented each other perfectly and I loved watching them fall in love. I wish there had been more focus on the romance and less awkward info dumps, though.

“…I do most of the doctoring for the race around here, deliver all the babies too. Learned my doctoring during the war.”
“Where are you from?”
“South Carolina. Trained under Susie King Taylor.”
Maggie was unfamiliar with the name and it must have shown on her face because Lola explained. “Susie helped nurse the Black troops of South Carolina’s Thirty Third Regiment. She was fairly well known back during those days.”
…as Maggie listened she told how Susie’s family…escaped slavery on a Union gunboat and joined the Union Army. “She was about fifteen when the Yankee officers came to St. Simon Island to recruit soldiers. She was hired to be a laundress at first…

And it continues on from there, pulling me completely out of the story. Sure, I’d love to know more about Susie King Taylor and Big Nose George Parrot (holy crap!) and Jim Beckworth, but surely there was a way to be a little less obvious when introducing an Important Moment in History to a scene that has been running along so nicely, and I’m all invested.

All in all, a lovely book. 3.5 stars!

The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch

David Finch and his wife Kristen find themselves at an impasse after five years of marriage. He is not the man that she married, probably because he has a special gift for playing other people or “characters”. Luckily Kristen has a hunch – he has Asperger Syndrome – and therein lies the rub. This is why they have trouble communicating, why they’ve lost touch: Finch’s innate lack of empathy. So what’s the solution? Well, Finch’s love for his wife makes him want to be a better man, and while he goes about that process in a way that is a bit clinical, his aim is true.

The book was the perfect combination of hilarious and heartfelt. Finch has a way of detailing his compulsions that makes them hard to criticize because you’re laughing so hard. Make no mistake, I also cringed, but only before I burst out laughing again. It was immensely entertaining, although there was one point where I put the book down and didn’t pick it back up for weeks. Usually that means that I’m done, but when I picked it back up I was right back to being immensely entertained. One issue that I found with the book was Kristen’s lack of acknowledgement of her role in the crumbling of their marriage, or what I felt was her lack of acknowledgement. She says all of the right things in every situation, she talks about them each taking responsibility for their actions, and how they should be more communicative, but he really does all of the heavy lifting. And I guess that’s the point of the book? It’s his journey, after all.

This book was of special interest to me as my husband also had a late in life Asperger Syndrome diagnosis. I wasn’t expecting to understand my husband more by way of reading this book or to receive some sort of epiphany; I simply wanted to see certain aspects of our relationship reflected back at me, and that was extremely satisfying.

3.5 stars

Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy struck a chord with me; the depiction of college life felt authentic and brought back memories of dorm days and frat parties and mean rumors and heartbreak and The Games We Play. Of course there’s a lot of texting too, which don’t exist in my memories because I AM OLD. Pagers, anyone?

Jacqueline, the girl formerly known as Jackie, has been dumped unceremoniously by her boyfriend, frat boy and future politician Kennedy. Honestly, I’m surprised that she wasn’t expecting it. He did, at one point say, “You’re my Jackie.” It’s supposed to be this sweet sentiment like, “We’re meant to be.” But what I saw was: “You’re the wife that I’m gonna step out on.” Crushed, Jacqueline doesn’t want to get out of bed, and she certainly doesn’t want to go to Econ and sit next to her now EX Boyfriend. Fortunately for her, there is a guy with a lip ring, tattoos, and charcoal smudged fingertips staring at her from the back of the classroom just waiting to step in. Because when God closes a door he sometimes opens a window. So that hot guys can climb in and watch you sleep.

I liked Jacqueline. She’s smart, she’s kind and she’s a bad ass who doesn’t let herself get knocked around. Also? She plays the upright bass. Hell yeah. I didn’t entirely hate Kennedy and I appreciated that he wasn’t completely written off as scum. He lets his little head make important decisions which is dumb but also so like a guy, am I right? I felt like he truly cared for Jacqueline and it was nice to see a bit of his home life and his interactions with his siblings.

Lucas, of the lip ring and tattoos and charcoal smudged fingertips, is just mysterious enough. He’s got a pretty heartbreaking backstory. He’s obviously into Jacqueline, but he still manages to give her mixed signals and act like he couldn’t give a rip, which is also SO like a guy, am I right? In case you were wondering: Lucas>Kennedy. Lucas is HAWT. Which brings me to one of my issues with the story: I felt that it was incredibly weird (and lame) that while Jacqueline is having a very serious conversation about rape with a group of girls, that as soon as Lucas’ name is mentioned (he volunteers as a self-defense assistant) the girls get all silly and swoony and “He is SO yummy.” Which is SO like girls, am I right? But seriously, it completely threw off the tone of the moment.

All in all, Easy was a sweet story about finding love and finding yourself. For me, Lucas is hot sauce because he helps make Jacqueline stronger, he encourages her independence and he makes an awesome sacrifice for her. I really did enjoy this book, and I’ll probably re-read it a million times.