2.5 I don't know why, don't bother asking. It was free on Amazon, and it was late and I didn't want to get out of bed to find the book I should have b...more2.5 I don't know why, don't bother asking. It was free on Amazon, and it was late and I didn't want to get out of bed to find the book I should have been reading, so I told myself that the idea of modern-day mail order brides could be interesting (and it was youtube-based, btw, and not email), so despite the fact that the cover is pretty meh, I thought I'd give it a try. It was fine, mostly forgettable, completely unbelievable, and why does everybody gotta go preggers-crazy in romances these days? But yeah, quick and free, and fairly painless.(less)
This popped up in my feed one night from someone commenting on another's review, and because I'm fascinated by the recent trend in "Billionaire" ev...more2.5
This popped up in my feed one night from someone commenting on another's review, and because I'm fascinated by the recent trend in "Billionaire" everything (like, seriously. Scroll through the indie romances and they're all Billionaire something or other), I thought it'd amuse me for a time. And it did. Eventually. Most of the time, I just found it horribly tacky. The book opens with a soldier's death, and yet that never stops people from being tacky at his funeral, at his family home, at the family business... And by people, I mostly mean his "devoted" brother, Carter, but not just Carter. These characters are gross, and beyond the parental figures (Carter's parents, Gwen's foster father, and Gwen herself), I found them fairly unlikable a majority of the time (and sometimes downright repugnant). I kept hanging on in the hopes that the ship would right itself (and because it was super quick anyway), and eventually, mostly, I think it did - but it could have done with a lot more time in the end of the story for me to believe in the development and personality shifts of the characters.
But if this is your type of book and you can look past the tackiness, there are worse ways to waste 99¢, I'm sure, and it does have its moments of being effecting. It's worth it for Gwen's character, at least. (But if you're going in looking for abundant sexytimes, skip it. Tension, yes, but beyond that, not so much...)(less)
Since I liked the Claire Kent works, I thought I'd give her other penname a try, and this was the first I stumbled across. Meh. In the beginning, it w...moreSince I liked the Claire Kent works, I thought I'd give her other penname a try, and this was the first I stumbled across. Meh. In the beginning, it was a flat out NO. Really, really rough. It did get better, but didn't hold a candle to the character development or the chemistry of Escorted, or even Nameless.(less)
I've actually had this all but finished for weeks, but got distracted and realized that I hadn't finished up the last few pages or so (oops). Definite...moreI've actually had this all but finished for weeks, but got distracted and realized that I hadn't finished up the last few pages or so (oops). Definitely enjoyed. Full review (and an interview with its ghostly narrator) to come. =)(less)
Something Realis a pitch-perfect coming of age story about finding yourself and your voice, and how much that struggle is compounded when all eyes...more4.5
Something Real is a pitch-perfect coming of age story about finding yourself and your voice, and how much that struggle is compounded when all eyes are on you. I had a feeling I would like this one, as reality TV and the obsession with celebrity is something that freaks me out, frankly, and I think is ripe for the exploring through books like this. Fortunately, I wasn't wrong - Demetrios' story and characters easily won me over, and her humor and engaging style, and sharp understanding of human nature, made this one enjoyable and surprisingly affecting.
Now, I'm going to try to not go totally off on a tangent when I say this, and I mean it as a good thing, so bear with me, but: this book kinda had me a little depressed. It's not that it's a saccharine, traumatizing, emo-fest; the book retains its sense of humor and sort of 'Ugh, my life' tone, keeping it relatable and believable, and just generally readable. But because it was so believable, it brought to life one of my least favorite things about the modern age, and that is the stifling, piranha-crazed mess that is our obsession with celebrity culture and its (apparent) lack of privacy.
The anonymity of the internet and the constant feed of images from other people's lives has given us license to take the playground bully phase into our adult lives with impunity; one look at the comments section on youtube, gawker, reddit, etc. will tell you that people don't blink an eye when it comes to laying bare their most vile, callous, unasked-for and uncalled-for opinions for the world to see. They do so gleefully. People will post anything, from one extreme to another, about every last aspect of a person's life - a complete strangers life - including the most vile things you could ever say about a person; they will put this all into writing and make it a concrete, shareable released unto the world, with a total lack of any feeling of guilt or empathy. When people speak out against these things, there is always, always, an avalanche of comments to the effect of They signed up for this, she knew what she was getting herself into, he's more than compensated for this, etc etc, as if any of that is an excuse to treat human beings the way we do. We shrug and say, Comes with the territory, as if this is an unavoidable evil. As if we don't decide what "the territory" is, as if we don't decide what type of people, what type of culture we want to be. As if going about your LIFE on the day to day gives people the right to harass you, your children, your friends, family and barest acquaintances just because your WORK happens to be in the public sphere. And it's so pervasive - it's thoroughly inescapable and it warps us all. I don't watch celebrity news shows, read the gossip mags or blogs, and yet I can still tell you who's dating who and I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHY. THIS is the dystopia of our time. We live in 1984, and it is of our own choosing.
My god, I sound maudlin. But to have a soul-stealing spotlight like this thrust on you from an early age - from any age, frankly - and to know you can never escape it - never, truly never - has got to make you feel defeated. To be your own brand, to have to make every move of your life calculated to suit that brand...it's disheartening and dehumanizing, and it pervades everything. It's CREEPY. And then heaped on that, the guilting and shaming if you dare to disrupt the flow... It just makes me sad. And tired. I felt real empathy for Bonnie™. She's not even real, yet I was kinda stressed for her. I was sad for her. I was sad for the real people like her that bite off more than they can chew when it comes to life in the spotlight, or find themselves unwittingly (or unwillingly) thrust into it. I suppose there are worse things, bigger problems to worry about in this world, but we can't choose what freaks us out, and paparazzi feeding frenzies freak me out. It makes me feel claustrophobic. And then, expanding beyond the paparazzi into everyone having to have - and express. Vocally - an opinion, and it just makes me feel disheartened.
And yet, this is something we seem to welcome, to strive for. Hell, I'm just a blogger and I'm told to think about "my brand." I'm just a random girl on the internet talking about books and people don't hesitate to comment on my looks/weight/voice/clothes, ask to see my tits (and an inordinate amount of requests to see my feet, WTF?), and any other thing they feel comfortable with saying behind the anonymity of a computer screen. And that, I think, is what's at the heart of why this bothers me so much - if all it takes is a little anonymity for people to behave the way they do, then that's what we really are at our most base, and it doesn't even take much digging to get there. This behavior exposes us. And Heather Demetrios holds up a mirror to that and, through Bonnie™, shows us what we value versus what we should; how we should treat people versus how we do.
And so, yeah, I wasn't supposed to go off on a tangent, but all of that. That's what made me feel a little depressed, just really, really sad reading this book. It put a face to all of those things that have always sort of eaten at me, and the inescapability and manipulation in the story (and its sheer plausibility) all worked together to make this more powerful and affecting than I thought it'd be.
...all of this makes it sound like I sit around all day, stressing out over the fishbowl lives of celebrities. Guys, I'm really not. I'm not that neurotic, I promise. So, MOVING ON, basically what I'm trying to say is it was good and it felt real, and it made me feel, which always makes me rate a book higher in my estimation, and makes it more memorable to boot. I fully believed Bonnie™ as a character, as well as pretty much all of the people she was surrounded by. Some made my skin crawl, some made me have hope - she really nailed the characters. Bonnie™ has a strong voice and sense of humor, and Demetrios deals with difficult subject matter in a non-cloying way. She explores relationships, decisions and choices really well, keeping it all relatable, and very realistic. Bonnie™'s doubts of whether she's doing the right thing, whether she should just go with the flow, whether she's causing more harm than good by trying to stand up for herself, etc., ring very true, and the myriad ways people react to what she's doing, how people (complete strangers, those closest to her, everyone) treat her and have opinions on her was sadly realistic and perfectly captured.
The pressure and the fishbowl and the emotional blackmail - all of it felt true and heartbreaking, and made the book memorable. But lest you think its a depressing sobfest, it's not; it manages to always be engaging and often surprisingly light-hearted, with the emotional peaks and valleys that signal a well-plotted book and a good understanding of human nature. And though it made me sad, it's also an empowering book. It's about finding your voice, finding yourself, and not being afraid to embrace that. It made me sad because clearly I'm more neurotic than I'm willing to admit, but it's also funny and smart and sexy and triumphant. There was never a time where I felt it fell flat or had a weak spot. The revelations, manipulations, and peeks into the family dynamics are well-placed to keep the tension, and looooong story short, I think Heather Demetrios is one to watch.
Jesus, why did it take me so long to get to that? I might have some deep-seated privacy issues...
My August Rewind (up late, but better late than pregnant... Err, never. Better late than never.
THE BOOKS: The Fairest of Them All| Carolyn Turgeon [re...more My August Rewind (up late, but better late than pregnant... Err, never. Better late than never.
THE BOOKS: The Fairest of Them All | Carolyn Turgeon [review] Mansfield Park | Jane Austen (obvs) Among the Janeites | Deborah Yaffe [review] The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. | Adelle Waldman [review] Austentatious | Alyssa Goodnight [review](less)