Monday, August 28, 2006

Cheating At Solitaire


Cheating at Solitaire by Ally Carter.

The Plot: Julia James is a famous self-help writer. Her area of expertise? Being single -- and being happy and fulfilled being single. She's written such books with titles like Table for One, Spaghetti and Meatball: Meals for the Single Person and 101 Ways To Cheat At Solitaire. Who needs a boyfriend? Then the news hits the tabloids: Julia is dating! And not just anyone -- he's a handsome actor. Her credibility is disappearing. And none of it is true; she doesn't even know the guy. She's not about to let her career and her life get ruined.

The Good: I loved Julia's books and how Julia got famous. Carter has excerpts from Julia's books scattered throughout CaS; she perfectly captures the genre.

The plot is amusing; Julia is a successful writer, single, happy and content and accepting her lot. Her many fans view her dating someone as a betrayal of all that; so Julia has to think fast and examine what she is saying and why. She has to consider her career, her writing, her life, her family -- and her heart. Because this is also a romance between Lance and Julia, two strangers thrown together by circumstance.

Julia is a good level of famous; she gets recognized but not bothered. Until the press stars reporting on the trumped up story of her romance; suddenly, she finds herself living the life of a Star, hunted by reporters, sneaking out of houses. And I also love that Julia is a normal person.

The chemistry between Lance and Julia works, but what really works, and what kept me reading, is the friendship chemistry: Julia, her sister Caroline, and her best friend Nina are wonderful: funny, blunt, flawed, sympathetic, with just enough crazy. I was reminded me of my own family and friends (without the whole breaking and entering part.) I wanted to hang out with these three women, sharing a glass of wine, planning crimes (You don't want to know why they have to break into the neighbor's house, do you?) I cannot wait for the sequel, Learning to Play Gin.

Links: My Pop Interview; the Little Willow interview; another interview. My review of Ally's YA book, I'd Tell You I'd Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You.

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