Thursday, March 7, 2013

Case Study No. 0834: Jane Jameson

Audio Book Review: Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs: Jane Jameson, Book 1 by Molly Harper (Author), Am...

This is the summary of Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs: Jane Jameson, Book 1 by Molly Harper (Author), Amanda Ronconi (Narrator).
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"Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs" (Jane Jameson, Book 1)
Molly Harper
Release Date: March 31, 2009

Maybe it was the Shenanigans gift certificate that put her over the edge. When children's librarian and self-professed nice girl Jane Jameson is fired by her beastly boss and handed twenty-five dollars in potato skins instead of a severance check, she goes on a bender that's sure to become Half Moon Hollow legend. On her way home, she's mistaken for a deer, shot, and left for dead. And thanks to the mysterious stranger she met while chugging neon-colored cocktails, she wakes up with a decidedly unladylike thirst for blood.

Jane is now the latest recipient of a gift basket from the Newly Undead Welcoming Committee, and her life-after-lifestyle is taking some getting used to. Her recently deceased favorite aunt is now her ghostly roommate. She has to fake breathing and endure daytime hours to avoid coming out of the coffin to her family. She's forced to forgo her favorite down-home Southern cooking for bags of O negative. Her relationship with her sexy, mercurial vampire sire keeps running hot and cold. And if all that wasn't enough, it looks like someone in Half Moon Hollow is trying to frame her for a series of vampire murders. What's a nice undead girl to do?



With a loud "ahem," Mrs. Stubblefield motioned for me to leave my display of Amelia Bedelia books and come into her office. Actually, all she did was quirk her eyebrows. But the woman had a phobia about tweezers. When she was surprised/angry/curious, it looked as if a big gray moth was taking flight. Quirking her brows was practically sign language.

My joyless Hun of a supervisor only spoke to people privately when they were in serious trouble. Generally, she enjoyed chastising in public in order to (a) show the staff just how badly she could embarrass us if she wanted to and (b) show the public how put-upon she was by her rotten, incompetent employees.

Mrs. Stubblefield had never been a fan of mine. We got off on the wrong foot when I made fun of the Mother Goose hat she wore for Toddler Story Hour. I was four.

She was the type of librarian who has "Reading is supposed to be educational, not fun" tattooed somewhere. She refused to order DVDs or video games that might attract "the wrong crowd." (Translation: teenagers.) She allowed the library to stock "questionable" books such as The Catcher in the Rye and the Harry Potter series but tracked who read them. She kept those names in a file marked "Potential Troublemakers."

"Close the door, Jane," she said, squeezing into her desk chair. Mrs. Stubblefield was about one cheek too large for it but refused to order another one. A petty part of me enjoyed her discomfort while I prepared for a lecture on appropriate displays for Banned Books Week or why we really don't need to stock audiobooks on CD.

"As you know, Jane, the county commission cut our operating budget by twenty percent for the next fiscal year," Mrs. Stubblefield said. "That leaves us with less money for new selections and new programs."

"I'd be willing to give up Puppet Time Theater on Thursdays," I offered. I secretly hated Cowboy Bob and his puppets.

I have puppet issues.

"I'm afraid it's more serious than that, Jane," Mrs. Stubblefield said, her eyes flitting to the glass door behind me. "We have to reduce our salary expenses as well. I'm afraid we can't afford a director of juvenile services anymore. We're going to have to let you go."

Maybe some of you saw that coming, but I didn't. I got my master's degree in library science knowing I would come back to "my" library, even if it meant working with Mrs. Stubblefield. I'm the one who established the library's book club for new mothers who desperately needed to leave the house on Thursday nights for a little adult conversation. I'm also the reason a small portion of the Hollow's female population now knows that Sense and Sensibility was a book before it was a movie. I'm the one who insisted we start doing background checks on our Story Time guests, which is why Jiggles the Clown was no longer welcome on the premises. I'm the one who spent two weeks on my knees ripping out the thirty-three-year-old carpet in the children's reading room. Me. So, after hearing that my services were no longer needed, I had no response other than "Huh?!"

"I'm sorry, Jane, but we have no other choice. We must be careful stewards of the taxpayers' money," Mrs. Stubblefield said, shaking her head in mock regret. She was trying to look sympathetic, but her eyebrows were this close to doing the samba.

"Ida is retiring next month," I said of the ancient returns manager. "Can't we save the money through eliminating her position?"

Clearly, Mrs. Stubblefield had not expected me to argue, which proved that she never paid attention when I spoke. Her eyebrows beat twice, which I took as code for "Just leave quietly."

"I don't understand," I continued. "My performance reviews have been nothing but positive. Juvenile circulation has increased thirty-two percent since I was hired. I work weekends and nights when everyone else is too busy or sick. This place is my whole...What the hell are you looking at?"

I turned to see Mrs. Stubblefield's stepdaughter, Posey, standing near the main desk. Posey waved, her bagged lunch bobbing merrily. Something told me she wasn't just early for a picnic with her wicked stepmother. Posey was virtually unemployable since she'd set fire to the Pretty Paws Pet Grooming Salon while blow-drying Bitty Wade's teacup poodle. Apparently, doggie nail polish, heat elements, and long-haired breeds are a cataclysmic combination.This was the third job Posey had lost due to fire, including blazes started with overcooked microwave popcorn at the Video Hut and a boiled-dry coffee pot at the Coffee Spot. When Posey wasn't working, she moved back into her dad's house, which also happened to be Mrs. Stubblefield's house. Clearly, my boss had decided she could share a water cooler with Posey but not a bathroom.

I was being replaced. Replaced by someone who needed flash cards to understand the Dewey decimal system. Replaced with someone I'd hated on principle since the sixth grade, when she penned the following in my honor: "Roses are red, violets are black. Why is your front as flat as your back?" Thanks to middle-school politics, I was labeled "Planed Jane" until my senior-year growth spurt. Regarding the use of "planed," I believe one of Posey's smarter friends showed her how to use a thesaurus.

Posey spotted me and froze mid-wave. I uttered several of the seven words you're not supposed to say in polite company. My soon-to-be-former boss let out an indignant huff. "Honestly, Jane. I can't allow someone who uses that language to work around children."

"You can't fire me," I told her. "I'll appeal to the library board."

"Who do you think signed your termination notice?" Mrs. Stubblefield preened while sliding the paper toward me.

I snatched it off her desk. "Your crony, Mrs. Newsome, signed the termination notice. That's not quite the same thing."

"She got approval from the other board members," Mrs. Stubblefield said. "They were very sorry to see you go, but the truth is, we just can't afford you."

"But you can afford Posey?"

"Posey is starting as a part-time desk clerk. The salaries aren't comparable."

"She starts fires!" I hissed. "Books tend to be kind of flammable!"

Ignoring me, Mrs. Stubblefield reached into a drawer to remove an envelope, which I hoped included a handsome severance and detailed instructions on how to keep health insurance and feed one large, ugly dog without bringing home a paycheck.

The final indignity was Mrs. Stubblefield handing me a banker's box already packed with my "personal effects." I stumbled through the lobby on legs that threatened to buckle under me. I ignored the cheerful greetings from patrons, knowing I would burst into tears at the first face I recognized.

I got into my car, leaned my forehead against the white-hot steering wheel, and began to hyperventilate. After about an hour of that, I mopped my blotchy face on my sleeve and opened what I thought was my severance check. Instead, a bright yellow-and-white-striped slip of paper drifted into my passenger seat, shouting, "Twenty-five dollars! Plus free potato skins!" in huge red letters.

Instead of a severance check, I got a gift certificate to Shenanigans.

This prompted another hour or so of hysterical crying. I finally pulled myself together enough to pull out of the library parking lot and drive toward the mall. Shenanigans was one of the first big chain restaurants to come to Half-Moon Hollow after the county commission finally unclenched its "dry" status. After decades of driving over county lines to Maynard to get liquor by the drink, Half-Moon Hollow residents could finally enjoy cocktails close enough to walk home drunk instead of drive. Personally, I find that comforting.

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