Friday, January 29, 2010

In Which Trai Reviews 'Prescription for Romance'

Just a quick note before the review: I've added a list of my favorite links to the side of the page. I've mentioned a couple of them in the context of my reviews before. I just wanted to add that I asked the lovely Laurel Ann over at Austenprose if she could link to my blog if I linked to hers, and she very nicely put me in the "Lit Links" sidebar over there! I'm quite pleased to give back to the Janeite community! Onto the review.

The Book: Prescription for Romance (book one in the "The Baby Chase" miniseries)

The Author: Marie Ferrarella

How I Found It: Browsing eHarlequin's website and finding that this particular miniseries dealt with a fertility institute made me curious. One of the stories I'm currently writing involves a couple's struggle with it, so I wanted to read something about the inner workings of a facility like that.

The Review: I have to say, out of my (admittedly brief) experience with the category romances, this is definitely the one I liked the least. Out of five stars, I'd say this one gets maybe two. It was a decent way to pass two of my shifts at work (in total, it probably took me about three and a half, four hours to read), but that's about all it was. I do want to continue reading the miniseries to see resolution of the plotlines introduced here, but I'm not sold on this particular author.

This is a single-plot book, for the most part. To give the gist of it: Paul Armstrong runs a well-renowned, family-owned institute that gives couples with seemingly no chance to have a child one last ray of hope. He is the chief of staff; his twin brother Derek is the chief financial officer; his sister Lisa is the administrator; and another sister, Olivia, has tried conceiving with her Senator husband for five years without success.

The conflict begins when Paul is informed that Derek has hired a PR consultant to help reform the institute's image. Recently, a series of damning news stories has put the clinic in jeopardy, as accusations of wrongful practices are thrown about. Derek is convinced a public relations person will be able to help smooth the damage over. After meeting the woman, Paul is reluctantly forced to agree.

The problem is, Ramona is not the PR person she claims to be. In fact, her working for the institute has two reasons: one, she is an undercover reporter hoping to gain information on the supposed practices of the institute, and two, her mother, who donated eggs years ago, is dying of leukemia and Ramona wishes to see if she has any siblings who could be the match for her mother that she is not.

And... that's about all there is. Two subplots come up that will presumably be addressed in future books. One definitely will, as Olivia's potential infertility is the plot of the second book in the miniseries. The other, Derek's involvement in shady business practices and gambling, could be a potential future book, but then again, it could only be a throwaway subplot for the next book.

Okay. To get started on why I didn't like the book: let me count the ways.

First, the characters were completely flat. I'm talking little to no character development AT ALL, beyond Paul having a crappy childhood and Ramona having a nice one with her single mom. And Ramona was a complete freaking Mary Sue to the point it was annoying the heck out of me. Some particularly egregious examples:

- The numerous mentions of her smile bringing sunshine to or lighting up a room. Seriously? How did this get past an editor? Come up with something more original, please.

- She has a "near-genius IQ" and "had never gone through an ugly-duckling stage and had been a swan from the moment she entered into the world." (Good God, the second sentence...)

- "She knew that she could be all but irresistible if she wanted to be." (Someone's just a tad conceited...)

- "... the sway of her hips was something to behold. It was enough to even make a man believe in Santa Claus." (I can't snark this; I think the ridiculousness is evident on its own.)

Seriously, Ramona has no flaws. Or depth, for that matter. Oooh, she cares about her mother. Wow. Most people do, I'd hope. Plus, the whole "heir and a spare" thing is getting hackneyed ever since I read My Sister's Keeper at least four years ago. I know that wasn't her mom's intention, but still, the idea that Ramona could just randomly approach a person and go, "Oh, hi, give my mother a bone marrow transplant" is jarring.

The second reason I didn't like the book: the attraction between Paul and Ramona was just not believable. Seriously, Paul's liking of her amounts to "she's hot and she has a good relationship with her mom that I never had with my parents." That is all we get-- the rest of their developing relationship is completely skipped over for length reasons, one assumes. It literally takes the author locking them into a reformed bank vault in order for them to get it on, which brought to mind numerous trapped-in-a-freezer episodes of sitcoms and made me go, "Really? REALLY?"

Third, the narration felt awkward. It is third person omniscient and we can spend a scene comfortably within one character's thoughts for a few pages, only to suddenly switch to another character's the next paragraph and a third character's the next. I'm a fan of switching only after scene breaks or new chapters when in the third person omniscient, so I hated how jerky the writing felt. The author did it solely so the other character wouldn't have to interpret another's emotions.

Basically, this book didn't do it for me. I really want to see what the next book will be like, because it will hopefully give me what I was looking for: a view of a couple whose relationship is threatened by the inability to conceive a child. For a miniseries entitled "The Baby Chase", this first book had NOTHING to do with babies-- the only thing that could possibly, obliquely tie the plot to the miniseries title is Ramona's search for a bone marrow match for her mom, and even then, the child is presumably older than her and no longer a baby.

Only recommended to fans of the author, people who want to read the full miniseries, or people who want to see an example of a Mary Sueish heroine in published fiction. Yay.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In Which Trai Reviews 'A Walk to Remember'

The Book: A Walk to Remember

The Author: Nicholas Sparks

How I Found It: This one's kinda self-explanatory. The movie's huge, without reading this and The Notebook I felt as though I was missing something, and when a friend and I were discussing The Last Song, she mentioned I should read it.

The Review: It's shocking, I know, but somehow I've reached nineteen years old without seeing A Walk to Remember when it's one of the biggest teen movies of the last decade. You can all laugh at me now. But I wasn't the hopeless romantic I am today until I was about 16, so until then I avoided this stuff like the plague.

That being said, I will repeat my Dear John disclaimer: I'm not a rabid fan of Sparks; I think his work is hit or miss for me. I really, really liked Dear John and The Last Song, but this book and The Notebook were just okay.

Everyone probably knows the plot of this one through osmosis, but I will recap: Unlike the movie, this takes place in the 1950s. Landon Carter is what counts as a bad boy in those times. He doesn't do anything really harmful, just plays a couple pranks with his friends and hangs out in the cemetery at night.

Everyone in town knows the local Baptist minister's daughter, Jamie Sullivan, who is so saintly she seems to put everyone to shame. She loves helping people, animals, you name it. Jamie's father writes a Christmas play for the town, which is performed by some of the high school seniors each year. When Landon gets roped into performing it along with Jamie, Jamie makes him promise one thing-- that he won't fall in love with her.

Despite Jamie's warning, Landon ends up having to spend more time with her as the days go on, and before long, Landon realizes his opinion of her may have been misinformed. She isn't weird, just a genuinely good person. And Landon may actually be falling for her-- which is a problem in itself given what Jamie is hiding.

Okay. So this is Sparks' third book, after The Notebook and Message in a Bottle. And it's also pretty short-- the trade paperback edition I have is 207 pages. Compare this to The Last Song, written ten years later, which, at 390 pages, is his longest work to date. Yeah. I think he started to realize the books had to be a little longer as he went on.

As the books of his I've read go, this one was very simplistic. Basically, it's a coming of age story as Landon matures into a responsible young man, and it's the love story of Landon and Jamie. That's about it. I felt like there could've been more than that, but I guess there didn't have to be.

The problem I had was that Jamie was a little too Mary Sue-ish (read: perfect) for me. She's just so religious and so cheery and peppy about everything that Good God, I don't know if I could've put up with her. I mean, it's admirable considering what's found out later in the book, but still. Give the girl some faults.

I guess that was another problem I had with it-- Jamie had no faults, probably because she's based on Sparks' sister, the inspiration behind the book. Perhaps Sparks didn't want to tarnish her memory by giving Jamie faults of any kind. Or maybe we're supposed to believe Landon's blinded by love, but I don't think that's the case if the whole town feels the same way. I just felt like Landon had a decent amount of depth, but that Jamie was just kinda... there.

I might have complained in my Dear John review about how I feel about Sparks' ability to write secondary characters-- it's not too good. In The Notebook and this book, the secondary characters really felt like wallpaper, there only to further the plot. I think he got better at this as he went on, but even in Dear John, Tim was still that way. The best I've seen him do was The Last Song, and that was because with multiple narrators, character development HAD to happen.

It was a nice story, very sweet and heartwarming, but it left me completely dry-eyed, and I'm a girl who can get pretty emotional. I don't get it. The books I hear are his biggest tearjerkers leave me cold (The Notebook made me shed a single tear and the movie didn't make me cry at all), but the ones like Dear John and The Last Song are the ones that really get to me. I think it's because this one I couldn't really relate to-- there were instances in Dear John and The Last Song that hit close to home, and that's why they got me.

Overall, I liked it enough, but it just wasn't Sparks' best. A decent story about young love, but I'd recommend The Last Song over this one-- it tackles almost the same issues in a different and better way, in my opinion. Still, though, I'd recommend it to fans of Sparks, if not really anyone else who might not like slightly sappy love stories.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

In Which Trai Reviews 'If Only in My Dreams'

The Book: If Only in My Dreams

The Author: Wendy Markham

How I Found It: I asked on a forum for recommendations of romances that take place in the forties. This was one of the books recommended to me, in addition to a couple more. So if a bunch of books I review in the next couple weeks turn out to be war stories, that's why!

The Review: I was actually really impressed by this book. I didn't cry like many reviews warned could happen, but I was touched by the story and it was a little heartwarming to see a perfect happy ending.

(One complaint, though-- the woman on the cover art looks a little old for 29. It bothered me. The cover art for the sequel looks like this has been fixed.)

Clara McCallum has just received the shock of her life-- at 29 years old, she has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and it is malignant. This isn't the greatest timing in the world, either, as Clara's big break is coming in the form of her newest acing role-- a biopic of some New York soldiers that perished during the Normandy landing. Clara plays the fictional bride of the dashing Jed Landry, their leader.

As Clara struggles to cope with her diagnosis, she arrives on set one day to shoot the scene where she meets Jed Landry at the train station. Only there's one problem-- the set's train takes her back to the actual 1940s, mere days before Pearl Harbor, where she meets the real Jed Landry... whom she knows will be dead in a few years.

Jed isn't sure what to make of Clara, who appears to him skittish and afraid. When she takes off and leaves some of her things behind, Jed is confounded by what he finds among her possessions, and when his search for her proves fruitless, he begins to wonder if Clara might be a spy.

Clara and Jed are attracted to each other after their brief meeting, but Clara has two problems-- she knows Jed is destined to die, and she also knows that her cancer is a death sentence in his time. Still, once she is back in the present, she finds herself wondering if it's possible she can save Jed or even the United States, changing what history has in store, or if it's possible that the present can hold love for her after what she's experienced with Jed.

This isn't quite science fiction-- Clara's time travel is never explained, not fully. She visits her old physics teacher, who explains that time travel would require more energy than the sun has, and Clara suspects the second time she time travels that she may have willed herself back, but that's about it. Just a warning for people who might want the legitimate time travel explanation; it's not quite here. But that's okay.

Anyway, I felt like this book was really well-put together. The connections between Clara's present and Jed's past were well done. Similarly, the forties details felt authentic (even if some of the slang would get a little annoying!). Reading Jed's sections did feel like he was a legitimate man from the forties; I could definitely believe the writing.

Some things were really cute-- such as Jed finding Clara's iPod, which he assumes must be a spy transmitter. It was funny to see how he reacted to the technology and how Clara attempted to explain. Clara and Jed's pairing felt natural-- it made sense for them to be a couple. Their attraction was nicely written and believable.

I don't quite know why I like wartime romances-- there's just something about the waiting and the uncertainty that strikes me as really emotional. Even if it's not something I can truly relate to, I can feel for the people it has happened and is still happening to. I liked that Markham did something different with this book-- instead of the woman being afraid the man would die at war, Clara knew Jed would die and still took the chance anyway, accepting it for however long it would last.

Overall, I really liked the book, and I might start looking into what else this particular imprint (Signet Eclipse, which publishes paranormal romance) has come out with. I've already bought the sequel to this book, The Best Gift, and I intend to read it soon. Highly recommended to fans of time travel fiction, paranormal romance, and the forties.

Friday, January 15, 2010

In Which Trai Offers Her Opinions on 'The Lovely Bones: The Movie'

I finally got to see the film adaptation of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones today. Stupid confusing limited release/wide release schedule. Ugh. Just a warning, there will be comparisons here between the book and the movie, and probably a bunch of spoilers for either, so don't read if you don't want to be spoiled.

Before I begin, can I say that the poster (pictured) freaks me out immensely? I first saw it at my campus bookstore as the cover to the movie tie-in edition, and wow. Yeah. I'm gonna have Stanley-Tucci-in-a-cornfield nightmares.

Okay. I'll describe the plot of the book as best I can. Susie Salmon is fourteen years old when the book opens, and the book opens in a bit of a unique way-- Susie tells us that she was fourteen years old when she was murdered in the 1970s.

She goes on to describe that back in the seventies, it was an era where people still wanted to believe that disappearances, murders, didn't happen. It is also an era that seems hopelessly dated to people like me, who grew up seeing forensic science figure in a BIG way on crime shows. Forensic science is frustratingly far behind in this novel, which is part of the reason Susie's murderer gets away with what he does to her.

On her way home from school, Susie is lured into an underground structure made by her loner neighbor, the (really creepy) Mr. Harvey. Susie knows he is alone and wants to be nice, although she quickly realizes what a bad idea this is as Harvey makes her linger longer and longer. He rapes her and then murders her, dismembering her and then collapsing the structure, burying the evidence of his crime and hiding her body in a safe in his basement.

Susie's family is eventually informed of her demise when her elbow is found by a neighbor's dog. Though part of her body is found, Mr. Harvey is never caught. The novel tracks Susie's family and friends and Mr. Harvey as the family deals with their grief and Susie watches over them all from Heaven-- all the while wishing her murderer could be caught.

Overall, the movie was fairly faithful to the book. Things weren't so much changed as they were left out, and the screenwriters did a good job of deciding what had to be taken out if ONE thing was taken out in the beginning. However, the film suffered from feeling really choppy in the middle-- the sense of time passing was REALLY screwed up. I'll try to explain the differences below.

The biggest, most conspicuous difference between the book and the movie was understandable but still made it feel like something HUGE was missing-- in the movie, Mr. Harvey kills Susie but doesn't rape her. I can understand why this was taken out-- a rape scene featuring a 14-year-old girl (Saoirse Ronan was 13 at the time of filming, and not even allowed to read the book) would probably turn off a lot of moviegoers, though a lot of them are already turned off by her murder in the first place. Anyway, since the rape is taken out, a big chunk of the theme of the book is gone, too.

A major part of the book is Susie trying to learn about what she missed out on in life by watching her family from Heaven. Since her first and only sexual experience is so violent, she tries to learn about sex by watching her family. She watches her mother's affair with the leading investigator on her case, and her little sister Lindsey's first sexual experience as she passes the age Susie was when she dies. She begins to get a feel for what sex is like when it's not violent. At the end of the book, when she returns to Earth in the body of a girl she knew, Ruth Connor, she has sex (in Ruth's body) with Ray Singh, her crush whom she only got to kiss in the days before her death. She finally gets to have sex with someone she loved, fulfilling her wish.

Since the rape is gone from the movie, NONE of this happens there. Susie's sex with Ray is turned into a sweet kiss (the kiss they had while Susie was alive is eliminated from the movie). I had mixed feelings about the absence of ALL the sexual material. I think it was probably for ratings reasons, but it made the whole thing feel weird.

I first read the book when I was 14 and it was summer reading for school. The fact that Susie was learning about sex in Heaven by watching over people weirded me out-- it felt way too much like voyeurism for me to be comfortable. I re-read the book this past summer and understood it more, and it felt less skeevy the second time around. When I saw the movie today, I took a friend whom I'd loaned the book to a couple years ago. We were discussing it after the movie and both agreed that we could understand why the sexual content was missing, but agreed that since it was such a big part of the book, it really made the movie feel like something huge was missing. And the things that were there were skimmed over-- Lindsey's boyfriend and true love, Samuel, is present, but the poor guy isn't even given a name or a line of dialogue, for God's sake. He gives Lindsey her first kiss and Susie sees it from Heaven and is happy for Lindsey. And... that's it. That's all we get.

The other thing that could've been done better was the passage of time, which was very poorly handled. We get only four indications time has passed:

1) Len (the cop) says it's been 11 months since Susie's murder.
2) Abigail and Jack (Susie's parents) give Susie 24 rolls of film for a camera, and she uses them all. They say they'll develop a roll a month, and Jack does this after her death. He reaches the last roll and it's assumed two years have gone by. (I went with my friend and my parents and was the only one who caught this one, so it probably could've been more explicit.)
3) Lindsey ages from 12 to her twenties, presumably.
4) Mr. Harvey flips through a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about Lindsey's accomplishments that lead us to believe time has passed.

While we are shown time has passed, we see almost no indication of what has happened in that time. It really felt like the entire middle of the book was missing. The book handled the time passage through a chapter called "Snapshots" where Susie offers brief sentences about what happened in the passing years, but without that here, it felt too choppy. All of us were completely confused about how old everyone should've been by the end.

Now, for the things I liked about the movie:

1) Wow, was I impressed with the girl who played Lindsey, Rose McIver. They managed to make the aging COMPLETELY believable, which was so impressive considering how many years she progressed through.
2) Mark Wahlberg (Jack), Stanley Tucci (Mr. Harvey), and Susan Sarandon (Lynn) were PERFECT. Mark Wahlberg was a really convincing father who really wants to know what happened to his daughter, and he made me feel for him. Stanley Tucci... well, um, I might show his performance to my kids one day to teach them about Stranger Danger, let's put it that way. Susan Sarandon was the BEST choice for a period-correct grandmother; the movie needed her humor and she was wonderful.
3) The fact that the sex scene between Ruth!Susie and Ray was changed to just a kiss-- it made it less creepy. I just didn't like how they showed Susie's face instead of Ruth's-- I know they were trying not to confuse the viewers by showing Ruth, but it felt awkward.
4) The fact that Abigail's affair with Len was excised. Made her way more sympathetic in my eyes.

Overall, I was decently satisfied with the movie. I'd been looking forward to it since I saw the cast ages ago. I love, love, love Saoirse Ronan-- Atonement is one of my favorite movies (and books!), and she impressed me so much with the way that she could express EXACTLY what Briony was feeling with her eyes. She did a pretty good job as Susie, though she doesn't have too much more to do than narrate, but that's how it should be. There are more changes than I listed here, but this is long enough! I liked most of what was done to the movie, just felt it could have been a little better handled at some points.

Happy reading/viewing!
- Trai

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In Which Trai Reviews 'Waiting for Baby'

The Book: Waiting for Baby

The Author: Cathy McDavid

How I Found It: Random browsing online is my friend.

The Review: Lilly Russo and Jake Tucker broke up after a brief fling, one that ended when Jake decided he didn't want a relationship. He has three daughters and runs a busy ranch, while Lilly has her hands full working at a day care center for adults with special needs.

However, their lives intersect again once Lilly comes to Jake with a business proposition: the center was recently given a mule the clients can use and Lilly needs a place to board it and run the exercises. Jake agrees and the arrangement goes smoothly-- until Lilly realizes she's pregnant.

Lilly has already had her heart broken by previous pregnancies, all of which ended in loss, the final straw being the collapse of her previous marriage. With all that heartache in mind, Lilly finds it difficult to let Jake into her life once it is clear that he will have to be. During the next couple months, Lilly has to cope with both fear for the pregnancy and fear of commitment as her and Jake's lives come closer and closer to changing indefinitely.

For all the honesty present in the story told here, I had some mixed feelings about the book. The thing I liked was that McDavid was true to humanity and showed reactions in this book that didn't sugarcoat things. The reactions to the special needs adults Lilly works with aren't always kind. McDavid accurately showed how children can be afraid and nervous around special needs individuals, and how people can sometimes be rude and mean. Similarly, she wasn't afraid to address the strain of extenuating circumstances on families. Lilly has been badly burned by her previous experiences with pregnancy loss and her ex-husband's reactions to the problems, and McDavid didn't hesitate to show how that could lead to problems in a relationship. Lilly's hesitance to get involved with Jake seemed very real and warranted.

The main problem I had with the book was that Lilly's pregnancy and its complications seemed to overrule everything else in the book. I never really felt like I knew much about Lilly or about Jake, besides things that were relevant to the plot. Their romance took a backseat to the pregnancy and to the subplots-- Lilly working at the center and Jake taking care of his three daughters, one of whom is a rebellious teenager. There wasn't enough shown of Lilly and Jake as a couple for me to really get a feel for them.

The ending also seemed a little too tidy-- I assume it was because the book was very close to the end that there seemed to be a little hand-waving and "Oh! Look, he really is perfect for me!" It just seemed a little too forced for me in the end that Jake did so much for Lilly when she'd previously been a bit chilly towards his earlier attempts.

Overall, the book was good, but could've done with less focus on the pregnancy and more on character development and development of the leads' relationship. I didn't get to know these characters as well as I probably could have. Recommended to fans of romances.

Friday, January 8, 2010

In Which Trai Reviews 'Thirteen Reasons Why'

The Book: Thirteen Reasons Why

The Author: Jay Asher

How I Found It: A friend mentioned it a few years ago and after seeing all the acclaim it got, I kept it on my mental list and bought it yesterday.

The Review: This is a book to be read in one sitting, like I did-- just a warning. I started reading at maybe eight, eight-thirty and didn't close the book until one o'clock in the morning. It's difficult to put it down without losing track of the story, I'd think.

Hannah Baker killed herself, Clay Jensen knows that. She swallowed pills two weeks before and now her desk at school is empty. She was Clay's crush and he misses her, and he is as shocked as anyone to find a series of audiotapes in a shoebox by his door.

When he begins to play them, he is greeted by the voice of Hannah Baker, explaining that if you have gotten these tapes passed on to you, then you are one of the reasons she killed herself. The tapes will explain everything. There are two conditions: you listen and you pass them on, or risk having the tapes revealed very publicly, exposing your secrets to the world.

As Clay begins to listen, he slowly begins to realize the effect one person's action can have on the lives of other people. Why is Hannah's first boyfriend reason number one? How does her being named "Best Ass in the Freshman Class" a few years before matter? How have the rumors started about Hannah affected Hannah herself?

And why is Clay one of the reasons she killed herself?

Like I said before, the book is made to be read in one sitting, simply because you keep reading in order to find out who the next person is and what part he or she plays in the story. The impact of the book slowly builds until, at the point where Clay's part of the story is revealed, you'll probably feel as helpless and desperate as Clay does. I cried through most of his chapter. And by the end, when the last sliver of hope for Hannah takes place on tape, with Clay and the reader both knowing it's hopeless, it's really heartbreaking.

I can see why it earned so much acclaim from the critics-- it deals with a lot of issues YAs may face, and it handles them fairly well, I'd think. It also has an interesting scene I think merits discussion-- Hannah discusses a communications class she took much like a sociology class I took in high school, where topical issues are discussed. Hannah anonymously submits a note asking to talk about suicide. While the class has discussed other topics submitted anonymously before without naming names, the class refuses to discuss suicide without wanting to know who wrote the note, leaving Hannah alienated and with no way to vent her feelings.

This made me wonder why this is. Why is it that no one does discuss suicide unless it's happened in the community? Why do we feel as if we need an opening to discuss an issue that happens to teenagers? Why is it not safe for someone to anonymously ask for help and receive some kind of comfort or somewhere to talk about their feelings? And why isn't more done to help the people who need it?

While the book wasn't as life-changing as I heard it was, it was still a very good book-- partly because I like stories about the snowball effect and how people connect with one another; the book reminded me of Testimony in that way. Asher did a good job creating an original story, and creating Hannah and Clay. Clay was defined just enough to give us a sense of his character, but with enough open ends to let the reader be Clay and understand his experiences by remembering our own.

And it is important for the reader to take Clay's experiences to heart-- to learn how to reach out to and maybe help the Hannah Bakers of the world. Luckily, I've never had an experience involving a friend and suicide, but after this book, I can hopefully pay a little more attention to the warning signs.

Recommended to almost anyone with an interest in the subject matter or the hype around the book.

Monday, January 4, 2010

In Which Trai Reviews 'Mother To Be'

The Book: Mother To Be

The Author: Tanya Michaels

How I Found It: Random browsing online and in a used bookstore.

The Review: Delia Carlisle is forty-three and pregnant-- not a place she ever expected to be, given that she believes that, due to her parents' failed marriage, romantic love isn't something that will ever apply to her or her relationship with her live-in boyfriend, Alexander DiRossi.

Even as Delia attempts to figure out how to shift her world to suit the impending new arrival, and wonders how to tell Alexander, Alexander himself realizes after a visit to his close-knit Italian family that he wants more with Delia. When Delia's revelation leads him to propose to her that much quicker, Delia rejects him, not wanting to make the mistakes her parents did by making a commitment she's not sure of.

In addition to dealing with Delia's relationship to Alexander and to her unborn child, the book takes a look at her relationships with her two best friends and, later, another expectant mother that Delia wishes to help. Delia attempts advice-giving on all of these people, not always realizing that her fiercely independent, stubborn ways could drive a wedge between her and the other people in her life-- and that she will have to let people in and let herself love before she can really be happy.

My feelings about the book were middling. There were some nice touches and some things I didn't always like. For example, the nickname of "Ringo" for Alexander (since her friends' husbands are named George and Paul) just came off as silly and unnecessary for someone of Delia's age who is serious in most ways.

I was also getting tired of Delia's stubbornness about love by the end-- I suppose my issue with reading romance novels will always be my need to shout at the book "BUT IT'S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU DAMMIT WHY CAN'T YOU SEE IT." I appreciated the sort of feminist perspective and Delia's need for independence, but eventually it just came off as repetitive and TOO stubborn about being alone. The book also felt a tad unbalanced-- so much of it was in Delia's perspective; comparatively little was from Alexander's. I would have liked to see more from his side, but since the storyline was generally about the pregnancy, it makes sense for it to be mostly on Delia's.

For all the little things that annoyed me, there were things I did like. The chapter quotes, taken from Delia's supposed musings in a baby journal after the child is born, were well-done and fit with the themes of the chapter. I did enjoy the storyline of Delia helping the other expectant mother, Joanne; it was nice to see a mentoring relationship in addition to the romantic relationship and friendships presented.

Overall, the book had a good story that was developed well, but got frustrating at points due to the heroine's refusal to commit herself to anything serious. The two leads and the supporting cast were fairly well-drawn as well. Recommended to fans of romance.