Obama has a potty mouth

And he’s not the only one. Hillary Clinton and John McCain dropped the F-bomb way more than our president during the race up to the 2008 elections. How do I know this? I read it in a book. Game Change, written by  political reporters John Heilemann and Mark Halpern, is a veeeeeeery compelling behind-the-scenes  in-depth look at what was going on when the cameras were off on the campaign trail. Spoiler alert: Hillary despised Barack and Elizabeth Edwards was kind of a bitch. Palin was WAY more underqualified than it even appeared in the Katie Couric interviews (if that’s even possible), and McCain kind of won the Republican nomination accidentally.

Don’t like politics? Doesn’t matter. This book has something for everyone– sex, lies, videotape. But don’t worry, it doesn’t just focus on John Edwards the whole time. My one qualm? I would recategorize the book as “thriller” — my heart raced as I was forced to relive the terror of nearly having Palin a stone’s throw from being Commander-in-Chief.

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Think you’re having a bad day?

Real estate is an ugly business. Especially for Annie O’Sullivan. Just as she’s ending an open house, a last-minute potential buyer comes to look at it– and then abducts her in his creepy white abducting van. Still Missing is the (fictitious, thank God) story of the time Annie spent in captivity with a truly scary dude (think Kathy Bates in Misery. And then picture her as a man.) and how she attempts to adjust back to her life after living through such trauma. Disturbing, graphic content? Sure. Completely absorbing and unputdownable (yes, I just made that word up)? Absolutely. Oh, and it’s got a jaw-dropping twist ending.

Do not read this book if you live alone, and/or you’re a realtor. You will never go to work again.

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Martin. Steve Martin.

I’m a HUGE fan of Steve Martin. That aching vulnerability! That comedic timing! That nose! For audible.com last month, I reviewed his latest novel: An Object of Beauty. You can read it here. Then I went back and re-read ShopGirl. And because I was on a Steve Martin kick, when I was at the library, I picked up another one of his books that I had never read: The Pleasure of My Company.

And all I could think while in my Steve Martin cloud was: he’s just pure genius. It’s not because his plots are all that fascinating or exciting– they’re not. It’s that he gets the one tenet of good novel writing– create compelling, complex, intriguing characters. His protagonist in An Object of Beauty is so beguiling, that when she committed a morally questionable act, I actually wanted her to get away with it (though admittedly that might be more telling of my moral ambiguity than his talent). Martin’s hero in The Pleasure of My Company has more mental and control issues than you can shake a stick at (as my great-grandmother used to say), but he tugs on just the right heart strings to make you want to give him a hug. And then let him live in your house.

Then there’s Shopgirl. Mirabelle is heartbreakingly naive and tender, without being simple. Plus, it’s one of the few movies-based-on-a-book that actually does the book justice. Something about this pseudo love story just speaks to me (and clearly spoke to others as well, seeing as how it’s a NY Times bestseller).

In conclusion, I worship Steve Martin. That is all.

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Holy political intrigue

What makes a good book? I’ll tell you the kicker for me: it’s when I start reading it at 9 p.m. and then can’t turn out the light until I’m done. A Beautiful Place to Die, by Malla Nunn (Jan. 2010) kept me up until 2:30 a.m. last night. Set in 1952 South Africa, shortly after the new apartheid laws went into effect, a white police captain in a small village is shot to death. Detective Emmanuel Cooper is sent in to investigate, along with the powerful (and corrupt) Security Branch who are determined to pin the murder on black communists and an underground political uprising. Cooper, who begins uncovering shocking details about the Captain’s past that led to his murder, must race against the clock to catch the real killer, before an innocent man is put behind bars.

The things this book will do to your heart: stop it, break it, warm it (not necessarily in that order). Nunn has created the perfect protagonist in Cooper– a wily detective who has real flaws, quick wit and balls of steel. I hated to let him go on the last page, which is why I was overjoyed to see that he also stars in her second novel Let the Dead Lie. If you need me, I’ll be ordering it on Amazon.

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