Friday, February 26, 2010

Feature Review: "Wild Ride," By Jennifer Crusie And Bob Mayer

By Becke Davis, RBTB Contributing Editor

CONTEST TODAY!!! Win a copy of "Wild Ride" or a $10 book gift card! Deets below.*

“Demons and Minions and Clowns – Oh, My!”

Carnivals have scared me ever since I saw Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train,” and Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes” confirmed my conviction that fun fairs hide all manner of nasty things. Roller coasters terrify me, Tilt-a-Whirls make me nauseous and who wants some fake psychic to guess your weight, anyway? As to clowns – I don’t need Stephen King’s “It” to persuade me that clowns are just . . . wrong.

In Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer’s “Wild Ride,” clowns – one in particular – bedevil Mary Alice “Mab” Brannigan. Mab’s restoration of Dreamland is a labor of love, until she’s assaulted by the smiling robot clown she recently painted. After that, it hardly surprises her when a motherly fortune-telling machine gives her relationship advice and a helpful raven becomes her companion. Mab’s road to love is bumpier than most, as she struggles to accept that her mother’s admonitions about demons in the old amusement park were nothing but the plain truth.

Ethan John Wayne has come home to die at Dreamland, where his mother still lives, after a Taliban bullet lodged in his chest and stole his future. His mission changes when his mother starts spouting nonsense about demon Untouchables residing in the park and Guardia saving the world. Ethan can’t even save himself, but he’s the only one capable of dealing with the mass hysteria. Another shot to the chest makes Ethan realize the threat is no fantasy, but it’s going to take more than a mysterious shooter and a rattling roller coaster to make him a believer.

“Wild Ride” is as wacky and wonderful as a Frank Capra movie, if Capra had dropped acid and dreamed up a demon-infested Potterville crawling with evil minion teddy bears. The story is both warmly, weirdly familiar and totally original, infused with Crusie's and Mayer’s strong, uniquely recognizable voices yet unlike any of their other books. Mab has Crusie’s artistic vision, and Ethan has Mayer’s military ethos; their stories weave together in a tale that has everything: not one but two romances, mystery, magic, a voluptuary mermaid, an Etruscan devil and even a very un-Poe-ish raven.

Pull back the bar on your roller coaster seat and . . .


Buy the Book!

“Wild Ride” refuses to stay in the box called what-readers-expect. Crusie and Mayer successfully took the road less traveled, and with all the book’s unexpected twists and turns, I had a hard time imagining how the story would end. How do you feel when a story arrives at its happy ending by an unconventional path? Does it shake you up, or do sit back and enjoy the ride?
***
*Becke's offering today's 30th new RBTB NEWs subscriber a copy of "Wild Ride," PLUS a $10 book gift card up for grabs for folks already on board RBTB NEWs! Click here to enter, and to keep up-to-date on romance-fiction fun -- and the exciting upcoming phase of RBTB.
***
Monday: Kaki Warner -- "Pieces of Sky" -- GuestBlogs with the very funny tale of how western romance has changed the way we "listen" to dialogue.
___

68 comments:

Emmanuelle said...

Can't wait to read Wilde Ride !!

Pat L. said...

Me too would love to read this book. And unconvential hea is fine with me.

Thanks for offering up this contest.

Becke Davis said...

Emmanuelle - I was so excited to get an advance read, I keep forgetting it's not out yet. It's well worth the wait!

Pat - I get a real buzz when a book goes somewhere I'm not expecting. It's the best kind of surprise!

(Assuming no main characters are killed off, that is. I'm not real fond of THAT kind of surprise.)

Leigh Duncan said...

Oooh, killing off characters I've invested my heart and soul in? Not if you want me to read your books again. But plot twists that take me to the happily-ever-after moment in a way I didn't expect? Love those!
Wild Ride sounds like fun.

Kara said...

You are right when you say that clowns are just wrong!!! They give me the creeps. LOL.

This book sounds like it really lives up to its name "Wild Ride."

I really enjoy when a book takes twists and turns that I don't expect!! Although I do agree with you about killing off characters I am invested in...no good!!

Added this one to my TBB list!!!

Becke Davis said...

Hi Leigh! I want to stress that I was VERY happy with the way Wild Ride ended.

(I had another book in mind with that comment, but I'm not naming names. It wasn't a romance.)

Becke Davis said...

Kara - in general, I think clowns are creepy. But my next door neighbors when I was growing up were professional clowns on the side -- he was a hospital chaplain and they performed at the hospital. Now that kind of clown is different, and they were really lovely people.

And my husband and I still crack up whenever we see Bozo the Clown. When we lived in Chicago, there was an event downtown where kids could meet Bozo and get their pictures taken with him. I was working Sundays back then, and my husband was always looking for things to do with the kids. He thought meeting Bozo would be a great idea, and the kids were thrilled about it.

Until they saw Bozo up close, that is. My daughter was fine, but when my son got on Bozo's lap and saw that clown face up close, he started screaming his head off. Bozo lifted him up and held him out to my husband. "Not today, Dad!" he cracked, as if it happened all the time. And it probably did.

Deb said...

Becke, this isn't my usual type of book, but your post and descriptions were great! I was giggling at your descriptions and side comments.

I'm boring...I guess I don't like a lot of twists and turns in my stories. It's great to read a story that has you involved, but I don't want to be on a .... roller coaster ride with the story. (Couldn't resist that one!)

Thanks, Becke!

Deb said...

Forgot to add---
My cousin was a cowboy clown for the Shrine Circus named Crackerjack. The kids loved him with his huge cowboy boots and small cowboy hat. However, I agree with you. The clown in "It" creeps me out big time!

debbie haupt said...

Oh I have been waiting for this book to come out. I love the collaboration of these two incredible authors. It amazes me how much they mesh together when they take on one of these projects.
And hey girls and guys too, if you haven't read the re-release of The Cinderella Deal, you have to.
Deb

Keri Stevens said...

I am totally Jonesin' for a book. But anything that takes me to Capra on acid is going to be a winner for me.

I love unconventional paths. I read with a mixture of delight and envy anything that makes me think, "I wish I had thought of that."

I am really looking forward to this book. Crusie/Mayer collaborations are an auto-buy for me.

Keri

Tonya Kappes said...

BECKE! You are sooo lucky to get the ARC. I love when Jenny and Bob get together. I have no clue how they do it and she's explained it several times before to me, but I still don't get it. I tried to collaborate once, but I wrote too fast for the other author.

I can't wait to get it!

Becke Davis said...

Deb - that's cool, I know everyone doesn't have the same taste in books.

I remember the Shrine Circus! I went there once as a kid. I think you're right, "It" really ramped up the creepiness factor of clowns. It's hard to think of clowns now without the image of those movie posters flashing into my mind.

Becke Davis said...

Hi Debbie! I'm with you on The Cinderella Deal. That's always been one of my favorite Crusie books. Of course, I've read them all more than once and they're ALL great.

Keri - I was smiling as I read this book; it made me happy on so many levels. As you can tell by my blog, it's a very visual story and I kept flashing on movies as I read it.

In an odd way, it made me think of Capra's YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU -- a longtime favorite of mine -- and BRINGING UP BABY. I love those movies because of the unexpected twists and turns they take, too.

I also was reminded of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (book and British series), although it's hard to say exactly why. Probably because Hitchhiker also caught me by surprise in good ways.

Tonya - I was practically jumping up and down when I received the ARC of Wild Ride, I was so excited. I'm awed by the whole collaboration process. I don't know how authors can do it without killing each other!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hi Becke,

I adored both both Crusie/Mayer books, especially Agnes and the Hitman, which still remains one of the funniest books I've ever read. I'll be interested it see what they do with this one. Glad to hear you say it has two romances and an HEA - I was a little put-off by some of the promo material first put out on the book.

And I HATE circuses! Having said that, I did spend one summer of my youth working at a circus connected to one of the Great Adventure Parks. Trust me! Circus people are wild.

Bethany said...

I love the unexpected. Deaths of characters I love have to be done right--I can handle it in Whedon because there's some reason for the deaths usually--Jenny's death shows that Angel is making his killings personal, Anya dies trying to do what she thinks is right and facing an apocolypse instead of running away, etc (sorry for anyone who is spoiled).

However, I feel like if it's death just because the author wants to shock us, that's not cool.

Also, it's a good thing my office door was closed because I totally squeed when I saw you were writing about Wild Ride. I've been so excited for this book for so long.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas and friends old and new! And thanks, Becke,for this great intro to "Wild Ride." I've been looking forward to this read. I fell in love w/the first Crusie/Mayer collab; love the addition of that mantastic guy sensibility to the romance construct.

The unexpected twists/turns, as you call them, on the way to HEA always remind me simply of why I love reading: the presentation of endless possibility, or as some say, the destruction of all those other possibilities. Some stories, in the case of our discussion, romance fiction, become more inviting and richer when authors bring to them certain intense levels of talent, creativity or storytelling. When that happens, it's clear from the start and becomes an expectation with the author/s, and is a treat.

Yet I would be more than happy to read the romance construct day after day knowing each road to HEA simply will follow the expected boy (or whomever/whatever) meets girl (whom/what)/loses/gets back structure. It's part of why I read it. It comforts and entertains me, and I find it satisfying.

Now, about those clowns...

Becke Davis said...

Vanessa - I loved Agnes & the Hit Man, too - there's a really interesting reader's guide here (spoilers): http://www.crusiemayer.com/agnes/readersguide.htm

And I can't see a reference to Wonder Woman without thinking of Don't Look Down.

This is one collaboration that really works!

Becke Davis said...

That's a good point, Bethany. I'm all about the author's right to exercise his or her creativity any way they see fit, but as a reader I'm invested in the characters and the story. Shock value can add to a story if it fits, but when it's done for nothing BUT shock value I'm not a happy camper.

Gia Dawn said...

Becke, I don't think you liked this book nearly enough...lolol!

Becke Davis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becke Davis said...

Gia - I love books, so when I find one that excites me I want to share it with everyone. No one has ever accused me of subtlety -- if I were a punctuation mark, I'd be an exclamation point!

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Like you I'm terrified of rollercoasters. Sounds like a great read Becke.

Becke Davis said...

Marilyn - my husband and kids went through a crazy period where they had to ride every roller coaster they could find. We practically lived at Kings Island in those days. I'm the official wimp of my family! They'd get me on these rides they swore weren't scary and I'd be scared out of my wits. My daughter works at Disney World so I'm always at those parks. You won't catch me on the scary rides - It's a Small World is more my speed. Even Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is a little spooky for me!

Becke Davis said...

Just out of curiosity, are you all familiar with the books Jenny and Bob write individually? They are both amazing authors in their own right.

(Every time I go to write those words, I think of John Lennon's "In His Own Write" and want to spell "right" that way.)

Becke Davis said...

BTW, I just deleted a comment I made because I was worried I'd give away a plot point. Sorry!

hope101 said...

This would be on my autobuy list because of Crusie's voice, frankly, but you've made this sound like so much fun, Becke. A review I'm sure both Jenny and Bob will appreciate!

As for unconventional endings, if it follows the internal logic of the world that's been built for me, I'm good with that.

Becke Davis said...

Hope - thanks so much for stopping by. Your comments mean a lot to me.

The whole book is pretty unconventional, but I found it very satisfying. As a struggling writer, it was interesting to see how the authors pulled it off. As an avid reader, I was on board even when I wasn't sure I would be. Now THAT is real talent. (Not that this will surprise anyone who reads Crusie and/or Mayer books.)

Rosie Murphy w/a Gabriella Edwards said...

This sounds like so much fun! I can hardly wait to read it. I loved, and I'm sure you're not surprised by this at all, A Hitchhiker's Guide...

Looking forward to the read.

Gannon Carr said...

I'm all for the unexpected twists and turns an author may take.

My 20-year-old niece is terrified of clowns--she can't even watch one on TV without running out of the room.

My kids and I love the Tilt-A-Whirl (affectionately dubbed the Tilt-A-Hurl) LOL. My hubby can't stand it, though.

Becke Davis said...

I hope you like it as much as I did, Rosie.

I've been trying to think of other books that left me smiling the way this one did. Offhand, I can think of three - Lani Diane Rich's The Fortune Quilt, and two by Sarah Addison Allen -- Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen. All three are completely different from Wild Ride, but all left me with that sense of reading something "new."

Becke Davis said...

Gannon - I loved the Tilt-a-Whirl when I was a kid; it was the extent of my daring with carnival rides. But when I tried riding it as an adult, let's just say it was a close call.

Bob said...

Clowns scare me.

Becke Davis said...

Bob! Great to see you here! I'm really looking forward to taking your workshop later this year.

Pamela Keener said...

These are both new to me authors though I think I have a Jennifer Crusie book on my TBR mountain. The premise sounds like a hoot and I will be adding it to my buying list. As for ending it can catch me by surprise but it has to blend in with the continuity of the book (I hope that makes sense) not something so far off that you say where did that come from & how did we get there.
Love & Hugs,
Pam

Becke Davis said...

Oh, Pamela, I envy you discovering Jenny Crusie's books. They are wonderful. I haven't read all of Bob's books - he's written a lot of them, under different pen names. I only know his Robert Doherty books, but I recommend those. Read about Bob here: http://www.bobmayer.org/

Becke Davis said...

Michelle - I love your comment about the "endless possibility" some stories offer. That's one thing that appealed to me in "Wild Ride" -- I really felt as if ANYTHING could happen.

Jenny said...

Thank you so much, Becke, that was a lovely review!

Becke Davis said...

Jenny - Hi! Thanks so much for stopping by.

Boy, I sweated bullets over that review. I wanted to do justice to "Wild Ride" because I loved it so much.

I hope the review will encourage others will pick up a copy and find out for themselves what a fun book it is!

Becke Davis said...

"others will pick"

This is how I demonstrated being tongue-tied in written form. My comment should say "encourage others to pick up." Duh.

Pamela Keener said...

Thanks Becke I will check bob's site out. I am always looking to discover new to me authors.
Love & Hugs,
Pam

Becke Davis said...

Pamela - read more about Jenny here:

http://www.arghink.com/

Her fans congregate here: http://www.cherryforums.com/index.php

And Jenny and Bob are both here:
http://www.crusiemayer.com/

Stephanie said...

I've never had a problem with clowns before but now I'm getting worried;)

Here's some random trivia: did you know Willard Scott was the original Ronald McDonald?

This was another awesome review. How am I going to wait until this book comes out?

Becke Davis said...

No, Stephanie, I didn't know that. A friend of mine in Chicago was Ronald McDonald in the 1980s - he has some amazing collectibles from his time there.

Sarah said...

Being afraid of clowns is apparently a very common fear. I had a roommate in college who was afraid of clowns, but her favorite movie was "IT". Somehow that doesn't seem right, but maybe she was facing her fears. As for me mascots creep me out so I tend to avoid them!

Thanks for the awesome review and the contest. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

Becke Davis said...

My son never did like clowns, but he DID like "It." Still can't figure out that one.

debbie haupt said...

Wow Becke you even got Jenny and Bob to contribute Kudos girlfriend.
And I LOVE Roller Coasters the bigger the better. I love the Screaming Eagle -

Virginia said...

This book sounds really good! I would love to read it!

Becke Davis said...

Debbie - you wild woman, you!

Virginia - good luck! Did you sign up for the newsletter? We have two different prizes on offer today.

Princess Bumblebee said...

Great post, Becke!
I actually love when something happens unexpectedly. Most of the stories I read I can pretty much predict what will happen and, frankly, it does get old sometimes. In fact, I recently listened to Mayer and Crusie's 'Agnes and the Hitman' ntothat long ago and loved all the crazy fun, hehe. Can't wait for this one!

Becke Davis said...

Yes, Princess Bumblebee - Agnes is a favorite of mine, too, but this one goes even further. (Although it's hard to top the flamingoes . . .)

Princess Bumblebee said...

Becke, the flamingoes! Hilarious!
Well, just had root canals done on two of my teeth and feelin very tired. Off to bed.
Have a great weekend!

Becke Davis said...

Oooh, Princess - that sounds painful! Take it easy. Feel better soon!

mariska said...

This book is like my kindda book !

as for the question, i just sit back and enjoy the ride. well, i like surprise !

ps : did sign up for the newsletter.

Becke Davis said...

Hi Mariska! I hope you enjoy this book, because it will definitely take you on a very wild ride!

Rosie G. said...

I have always enjoyed Ms. Crusie's books - loved their humor. And what could better one of her books plus a book g.c.

Becke Davis said...

Hi Rosie - Jenny Crusie is incomparable, isn't she? I don't think she could write a book I wouldn't like.

Anonymous said...

Count me in for the draw please. I love Jennifer Crusie's books too - just like everyone else here.

Have a good weekend.

Becke Davis said...

Hi Anon! We'll count you in!

Anonymous said...

i like that idea love jennfer's book
great reviews
very funny an d romantic
please count me in
kim h

Deborah Blake said...

I love all of Jenny's books, and the two she wrote with Bob Mayer. I can't wait to get this one!

And unconventional is just fine by me!

Becke Davis said...

Hi Kim and Deborah - I'm so glad you stopped by! I hope you enjoy Jenny and Bob's book as much as I did.

Diamond M said...

They make a great writing team. I've read all of their books thus far. I didn't realize they had a new book so I will be ordering it.

Anonymous said...

WILD RIDE sounds fantastic, I was thrilled when I met both the authors at the Spacecoast Writers Conference in Cocoa Beach--I did a workshop there, but they stole the show. They were fabulous, and very entertaining.

Becke Davis said...

Hi Diamond - not long to wait now!

Hi Anonymous! It would be hard to be up against Jenny and Bob with a workshop. I've attended several of Jenny's and learned something new every time. I'm taking Bob's workshop in a few months, too.

Becke Davis said...

This was on the JenniferCrusieFans Yahoo group loop today:

Go here and register and the prequel to Wild Ride will arrive in email:

http://us.macmillan.com/static/stmartinspress/exacttarget/wildride.html<http://us.macmillan.com/static/stmartinspress/exacttarget/wildride.html\

lisadh said...

I'm a huge fan of Ms. Crusie and have been vastly entertained by her collaborations with Mr. Mayer. "Agnes & the Hitman" really is just a hilarious book! My fave solo book is "Fast Women". Such a hoot and Jes has such a way with dialogue. She and Julia Quinn are the best when it comes to dialogue, right now.

To be honest, I haven't read too many books that have all the twisty plots. Like Michelle, I like the tried and true typical romance. It'll be interesting how "Wild Ride" goes, but I'm sure I won't be disappointed.

Becke Davis said...

Hi Lisa! I loved "Fast Women," too. My favorites change - love "Welcome to Temptation," "Bet Me" and "Tell Me Lies," too. And Agnes is definitely a favorite! If you're an Agnes fan, I think you'll like "Wild Ride," too.