Summer Reading List: Baseball and Cheatin' Hearts


Alternately titled: I hate Emily Griffin.

Before we get into THAT, though, can we talk about the Olympics for a quick minute?  I know the fact that they only happen every four years (the good stuff only happens every four years.  If we could figure out a way to include figure skating in the summer games we wouldn't even NEED a winter Olympics) is what makes them special.  But, still, I love them and wish they came around more often.

Tell me you weren't grinning like the biggest idiot on the planet last night when the gymnastics scores were announced and Gabby Douglas broke out in her Mary Lou Retton smile.  Tell me you didn't get all teary-eyed when the cameras broke to her mom in the audience.  Tell me you didn't mutter something about long-legged, skinny, mosquito-looking Russian crybaby when Victoria Komova burst into body-racking sobs.  TELL ME.

I think one of the greatest thing about the Olympics is, save for the basketball team and possibly Michael Phelps, these are basically just normal people with grueling workout schedules.  Then, all the sudden, Ryan Lochte is the newest hottie and Missy Franklin and Gabby Douglas are in a head-to-head competiton for America's Sweetheart.  I love it!

Now.  My summer reading list.  And a little bit of why I hate Emily Griffin.

A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand - Okay, peeps, if you've ready any of my summer reading list reviews to this point then you know I totes have a girl crush on Ms. Hilderbrand at the moment.  I adore her books.  Absolutely adore them.  This one, though, as much as I hate to admit it, I was not in love with it

A Summer Affair introduces us to Claire Crispin, wife to Jason and mother of four young children. Years prior to the time frame in which the book is set, she goes for a GNO with several friends.  One of those, Daphne, drives home drunk and ends up in an accident.  Claire blames herself and carries the guilt around with her.  When Daphne's husband, Lock, askes her to chair Nantucket's annual summer gala to benefit a children's organization, she feels as though she can't say no..  She's just months removed from the traumatic birth of her fourth child and from giving up (temporarily to her, permanently to her husband) a career in glass blowing to embrace full time motherhood.  Just weeks into her charimenship, she and Lock begin having an affair.  The ensuing drama is centered around Claire and Lock falling in love, fear of discovery, and wondering if she can actually leave her husband and her life.

My main problem with this book is that, unlike so many of Hilderbrand's characters, Claire Crispin isn't all that likeable.  She's whiney and a pushover and more than once I found myself rolling my eyes at something she said or did.  I would've much rather read a book about Siobhan, Claire's saucy sister-in-law.  The best thing about the book is that karma does it's job though not in the way you would expect.  There is no happily ever after -- and I tend to think that's how it generally tends to go when it comes to cheatin' hearts.

Calico Joe by John Grisham - Love baseball.  Love John Grisham.  Picking up this book was a no brainer.

The story takes us from current times to the summer of 1973 when baseball was still America's game and Joe Castle, up from the farm leagues to play for the Cubs, took the game by storm with his record shattering hits.  Paul Tracey was an 11-year-old kid in '73 and, like any other boy at that time, worshipped Joe Castle -- soon coined "Calico Joe" thanks to his Calico Rock, Arkansas, roots.  Paul also happened to be the son of Warren Tracey, the New York Mets pitcher with a chip on his shoulder.  In present times, Warren is dying of pancreatic cancer and Paul thinks it's time he made ammends with Calico Joe. 

This was a short book. I was able to read it in just over a day.  It's an interesting story line and, even though there's a lot of baseball in it, the storyline is good enough that I think even nonfans would enjoy it.  It's a story that tends to pull at the heartstrings and, honestly, it's 100% predictable.  The character of Warren has absolutely nothing - nothing! - about him that's likeable but that's pretty standard of most of the villians in Grisham's books.  It's a good summer read but not anything that you're going to move to the "best book evah!!!11!" shelf.

Heart of the Matter by Emily Griffin - I'm to the point that I believe "Emily Griffin" is a pseudonym and "her" books are actually written by a man.  It blows my mind that a woman could continually write books to where a - for lack of better expression - cheating bastard comes out on top.  I have one more of her books downloaded so I'll certainly read it but then I think I'm done with her books.  They're entertaining enough, for the most part, but the message they send makes me all stabby.

This Griffin tale is about . . . what else?  Infidelity!  Tessa Russo recently quit her job in order to stay at home with her two small children.  Her husband, Nick, is the best pediatric surgeon in the area (a fact he's quick to rattle off to a patient's mother . . . asshole).  Valerie Anderson is a high-powered attorney and the single mother to a six-year-old little boy.  Tessa and Valerie's lives intermingle when Valerie's son is burned and Dr. Nick Russo is the surgeon who cares for him.  Over the course of the book, Nick and Valerie delve into an inappropriate relationship (won't spoil for you, however, if it's actually consummated) and Tessa finds herself handed an unraveling marriage.

Interestingly enough, the characters Dex and Rachel from Something Borrowed find their way into Heart of the Matter.  Dex just so happens to be Tessa's brother and, hey, wouldn't you  know -- Tessa actually ran out on a fiancee right before a wedding too.  It's a family thing! 

This book sucks.  The character of Tessa is likeable enough -- but maybe that's because we're supposed to root for the wife.  Nick Russo is sleazy and please don't get me started on a renowned (best in the area!) surgeon risking his career for an inappropriate relationship with a character that is sullen, whiney, and rude.  Emily Griffin doesn't set us up to hate Valerie Anderson the way she did with Darcy Rone in Borrowed.  Valerie isn't that bitchy girl who always got her way; the girl we all love to eat.  But there is also not one single thing about her that's so much as remotely likeable.  My real problem with the book is what we end up taking away from it: that if your husband cultivates another relationship outside of your marriage, some of the fault is on your shoulders.  Griffin seems to insinuate that Nick took up with Valerie because of Tessa's unhappiness.  Because of Tessa - stressed out with a 2-year-old and 4-year-old - no longer being the woman Nick married.  Really?  It couldn't be because, I don't know, NICK IS AN ASSHOLE?  Or, you know, Nick couldn't have discussed the problems in their relationship with Tessa before jumping into the arms of another woman?  Please. Another problem I had with the book is the disdain Griffin seems to convey for stay-at-home mothers.  Seems as though staying at home with your children makes one boring and gossip-mongering in Griffin's opinion. 
I was seriously so disappointed with this book.  Emily Griffin?  You're an asshole.
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