You know, for a book that's supposedly about nerds saving the day, this book sure puts us down a lot. And I mean, a lot. In fact, every main character at one point takes part in some nerd-shaming.
Genevieve Terrence, the main character, is an ex-hillbilly currently residing in beautiful Hawaii. Jack Farley, the titular nerd in this story, has been crushing on Genevieve ever since they started working together. Gen hasn't noticed, because she's infatuated with her boss, Nick "It's not sexual harassment if they want it" Brogan.Yes, this is one of those books where the heroine mistakes aggressive sexual behavior for the overtures of a long term relationship. And even though she knows that Nick is only inviting her on the business trip to Maui because he wants a one-stand, she is convinced that she can change him. After all, he looks like Cary Grant. He'd make a great husband. He just had a troubled childhood.
Jack throws a wrench in this would-be "romantic" getaway because he's been invited too, to troubleshoot problems in their sister branch, Aloha Pineapple. He's thrilled, because he knows that when Nick inevitably leaves her a sobbing, weepy wreck, he can be the one to pick up those soggy pieces, and tenderly make love to her until she forgets her woes. Because as everyone knows, niceness is totally a synonym for manipulative opportunist.
Unfortunately for all three characters, the plane never makes it to Maui, and Nick isn't what he seemed. (I mean, beyond not being Genevieve's future husband.) The plane gets wrecked, and Genevieve and Jack are marooned on a tropical island with two energy bars and six condoms.
At first, NERD IN SHINING ARMOR was an okay read. It had some troubling gender stereotypes, but most books written during this time period did. And there's something about the chatty, overly familiar narrative style of chicklit written during this time that really appeals to me. Probably because the first romances I ever read were written in this style, and reading them makes me nostalgic.
But I have limits, and this book crossed them about half a dozen times.
Here are some examples:
We learn that Genevieve lost her virginity when she was thirteen-years-old, because she is a hillbilly, and this is all that hillbillies have to do for entertainment because they don't have video games or TV. Genevieve traded hers away because the boy she was dating promised to take her out to the movies for a month. Spoiler alert: he lied.
Genevieve's hillbilly act got old fast. By the end of the book, she was making so many "you know you're a redneck when..."-type comments, that she could have been an opening act for Jeff Foxworthy.
We have sex scenes that read like this:
When he sucked her nipple into his mouth, he made an mmmm sort of noise, as if he'd just taken a mouthful of pecan pie with whipped cream. He certainly knew how to do this part right - exactly enough pressure to send a signal down below, where the welcome party was being set up. Soon that welcom party would be in full swing, ready to greet the honored guest.
"Welcome party," eh? I guess that would make the condom the balloons?
It almost makes you nostalgic for Bertrice Small's "love grotto."
For a nerd, Jack just isn't very nerdy. His inner dialogue is airheaded and he comes off sounding like a cross between a thirteen-year-old boy and a sixteen-year-old girl. When he's not thinking about sex, he's mentally cataloging everything the heroine is wearing and saying things like "omigod!" We're told that he's a brilliant programmer, but never really see any of that in the book. Instead, we're told that he has a home gym because he's too socially awkward to go to the regular gym (because he needs a hot body to appeal to the heroine), and instead of playing video games, he plays flight simulators (because anything else would be *too nerdy*), which is how he's able to land the plane...
He's also...kind of a jerk. He makes so many judgments about Genevieve, and the fact that he is so desperate to reclaim Nick's sloppy seconds really put me off his character. You'd think he would warn her or something, you know, since he's such a nice guy. Then we have this dubious line:
He wondered if the bathing suit was a signal that they wouldn't have sex anymore. If so, it wasn't a very good signal, because those little scraps of material would come off in no time. He'd always thought that was the idea of a bikini - gift-wrapped sex.
That sounds kind of rapey to me. How easily clothing comes off is not a substitute for vocalized consent. And the purpose of a swimsuit is for swimming, obviously. Otherwise it would be called a sexsuit, Mr. Genius Nerd.
The plot is padded out further with a subplot where Genevieve's mother teams up with Jack and Gen's boss to find the plane and save them, with the help of Gen's younger brother, Lincoln. We also find out that Genevieve and her family have psychic powers for some reason, and the sole purpose of these powers is to provide an explanation for how Annabel and Lincoln "just know" exactly where to find Jack and Genevieve without actually looking very hard.
NERD IN SHINING ARMOR was a disappointment. I was hoping for a story where the heroine embraces the nerdy hero's nerdy quirks, and instead found a book where nerds are put down, and it's only when they're transformed to fit acceptable beauty standards that they're found worthy of being love interests. The idiotic villain, numerous deus ex machinas, and unlikable characters were just nails in the coffin. NERD'S one saving grace is that it is compulsively readable (like watching a plane crash), and saved me from being bored during my lunch hour or while waiting between various appointments. But sadly, that wasn't enough to save its rating.
Andrews McMeel knows that their audience loves cats. There is no other explanation.
Books like these can be hit or miss. I always apply for them because I love cats, but the last one I got, BREAKING CAT NEWS, was only so-so.
That is not the case with BUSINESS CAT.
For those of you who aren't into internet pop culture, Business Cat is a popular meme of a cat with a photoshopped tie. BUSINESS CAT borrows heavily from some of those memes, but also has fresh content with a continuing storyline as BC struggles to improve projections, slash the budget, and become Business Pet of the Year.
I thought BUSINESS CAT was really cute and funny. I'm glad I got a copy from Netgalley!
I usually have an idea of what rating I'll give a book by the end of the first chapter. With SACKED, however, I waffled between a two-star and a three-star rating for most of the book, and didn't really come to a solid decision until the very end. This is because SACKED does some things extraordinarily well, and other things...not so well.
SACKED is a romance between a very talented football player and a girl who is a fan of football. Knox Masters knows he's probably going to end up as a first-draft pick, playing for a top NFL team. He's also a virgin, by choice, because he thinks that conserving his energy means that he'll be able to focus on the game more and play better as a result. Ellie Campbell is the sister of one of his teammates. She's been helping her brother cheat (without his knowledge) since eighth grade in order to hide his learning disability. She and Knox hit it off immediately, but she's reluctant to enter a relationship for many Important Reasons.
One of the things I liked about this book was the fact that it had a virgin hero. Usually in books like these, the male character is an overconfident man-whore, who sleeps around and treats women like dirt or objects (I guess dirt technically is an object) until he meets the heroine with the magical goody box who transforms his life completely through the magical powers of virgin!sex. Knox saved himself because he didn't see any point in having empty sex, and instead devoted his time to achieving what was really important to him - his career in football. That's pretty cool.
Another thing I liked about this book was Ellie's relationship with her brother. They cared about each other so much. I loved their interactions. I thought it was heartbreaking how Ellie kept hinting about all the opportunities their school offered for people with learning disabilities, and Jack never took her up on it. His defensiveness was really well done, and I liked how even when they had arguments, they could still forgive one another, and their love was never tested by stupid, pointless drama.
In fact, most of the secondary relationships in this book were really well done. The Warriors' relationship with their coach. Their relationships with one another (loved the guy banter and the football chatter). Ellie's friendship with her roommate. It gave the book a lively, congenial atmosphere that was pleasant and enjoyable.
So, what didn't I like about the book?
Ellie and Knox's relationship is founded on insta-love. Knox decides that she's the one from the very moment he meets her because she likes football and she has the magical ability to tell him apart from his twin, Ty. Believe it or not, this is actually a test Knox subjects all of his potential bed mates to - he introduces them to his identical twin, and then tricks them, to see if they can tell him apart. Smooth.
There's also a lot of explicit sex in this book, to the point where it started getting repetitive and empty. Plus, you get weird turns of phrases like, "long, ropy seed jets" and "I wonder if I can wear her. Whether there's some campus provision that would prevent me from walking around with her attached to my d***." That's not erotic...that's actually kind of creepy.
Knox also has this Edward Cullen vibe, where he pursues the heroine to the point where it seems a lot like stalking, and he doesn't always take "no" for an answer. Towards the end, he becomes even more invasive, which is probably why I didn't like the ending. I don't really like the idea of a guy walking in and taking total control over a girl's life. People who enjoy novels with overbearing heroes who want their women "kept" will probably not mind this as much, but it felt weird to me. Very 1950s.
SACKED is not a bad book by new adult standards. Frederick's writing is clear and fluid, and she captures college life pretty well, in my opinion. I always appreciate when new adult authors take the time to show students struggling with their coursework when it comes to balancing work and play. It was the execution that really killed this book for me. With a few tweaks, I think this is a book I could have loved. I still have the sequel, JOCK BLOCKED, which I plan to read soon, and I'm loving her co-authored series with Elle Kennedy. This book in particular just wasn't right for me.
As a young woman, Grace Marks was arrested for the killing of her master, Mr. Kinnear, and his housekeeper-slash-mistress, Nancy Montgomery. Her "accomplice", Mr. McDermott, is already dead, and Grace is currently awaiting her fate in an asylum. Dr. Simon Jordan is a psychologist who is very interested in Grace because she claims to have no memory of the murder, or the events leading right up to it. Is she mentally ill? Innocent? Or a villain?
ALIAS GRACE is told from several POVs, which is a device I don't really like. Simon's POVs were odd, especially the sequences with his affairs and his dreams. My favorite POV was Grace as she's telling her story to Simon. I loved the parts about her childhood, and her close friendship with Mary Watney. As Grace tells her story, the suspense builds as the reader begins to wonder how this naive girl who overcame so much in her early life ended up getting sucked into cold-blooded murder.
It's no secret that Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors. Her writing is lush and beautiful, and even though it's dense, the story-telling is often just as good as if not better than the story itself. ALIAS GRACE is not my favorite of Atwood's work, but all the elements of why I love this author are present...just perhaps not in the best proportions. ALIAS GRACE suffers in the second act, when the narrative weakens and an odd hypnotism storyline rears its head. The last portion of the story is mostly epistolary, and this seemed designed more to hastily tie up loose ends.
ALIAS GRACE is an interesting book based on a true story, written by one of my favorite authors. It's certainly not a bad book, but it's not one I would want to recommend, and it's certainly not the first book that would come to mind if I were recommending Atwood to a newbie. But if you're interested in Canadian history and love Margaret Atwood, ALIAS is a must-read for you.
This is a rerelease of an older title written by Sabrina Jeffries under the psuedonym, Deborah Martin. Usually, authors use pseudonyms when they're writing in a different genre - either to test a fresh, unbiased fanbase or to keep their books organized by genre. I'm not sure what the purpose was here, but it's interesting to think about.
STORMSWEPT is a historical romance novel set in Wales. The heroine, Juliana St. Albans is the daughter of a powerful lord who has just seized the property of a Welsh squire in a gambling debt, causing the man to commit suicide in his shame. Rhys Vaughan is the son of that squire, determined to get revenge on the St. Albans.
One day, Juliana attends a meeting of Welsh radicals in disguise with her Welsh servant, Lettice. Rhys is one of the speakers, and his intelligence and charisma rallies those assembled. He sees Juliana in the audience and is immediately attracted to her, and impulsively kisses her without knowing who she is, although others are quick to enlighten him. After a surge of anger and a brief misunderstanding, he decides he wants her instantly.
Juliana's brother, Darcy, is furious when Juliana and Rhys elope - even more so when he finds out that Lettice, whom he covets despite being married, is in love with and plans to marry another Welshman, Morgan Pennant. With the help of Juliana's brother, Overton, and a host of other people, Darcy gets Rhys and Morgan impressed in the British Navy, where they are whipped and flogged and forced to fight in battles they have no investment in. Darcy then takes on grieving Lettice as his mistress while Juliana, thinking that Rhys meant to betray her and steal back his land, eventually gives up her husband for dead and takes on a new suitor at the behest of her family (i.e. Darcy).
Everything is fine and dandy...until Rhys returns, back from the dead.
My friends loved this book, and their high praises were a huge factor in why I applied for this book on Netgalley. Now that I've read it, I can see why it was so popular with them. Juliana is a great protagonist. She doesn't take any guff, not even from the love interest. It was refreshing to see a heroine who actually stood up for herself, who was intelligent and kind, and who didn't make stupid, selfish decisions (although there was someone in this book who did make stupid, selfish decisions *cough* Rhys and Darcy *cough*). Juliana was a huge factor in my liking this book.
The quality of the writing was also quite good. I loved the writing, except for the sex scenes, which were mildly cringe-worthy. "Honeypot" should never be used in descriptions of intercourse, ever.
No, my beef with this book is actually the hero, Rhys. I hated Rhys. He was such a selfish, arrogant, stubborn jerk. The lust-at-first sight was bad enough, but then he follows her home, sneaks into her window, and pushes her into eloping by compromising her step by step. Then when he finds out she's planning on marrying someone else, he goes apesh*t. The way he treated Juliana was awful. He takes control of her estate and says she can't have it back until she sleeps with him. He accuses her of being a liar at every turn, and doesn't believe a word she says unless someone mansplains it back to him on her behalf. And, oh, yes, he keeps trying to figure out how to have sex with her without forgiving her.
I wouldn't have a problem with a jerk hero if it weren't so blatantly obvious that we're supposed to feel sorry for him, and the hero does remind us what a victim he is, whining and looking hurt (only when no one is around to see, of course), and generally sulking while expressing his fear of abandonment. Well, I'm sorry, but I felt no pity for this piece of work. Juliana sets him straight on this, and I half-wish she'd married Stephen instead of him because it takes the hero thirty pages from the end before he finally - finally - realizes he was wrong. And it literally takes a declaration from Juliana's brother, a big fat, "I DID IT!" in blinking neon lights, before he does this.
Lettice and Juliana and Morgan were awesome, but Rhys and Darcy are free to go to the devil any time.
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. Flawed, but a definite improvement over this author's earlier work.
Maggie Sparkes is a super rich heiress who works in nonprofit. When she finds out her childhood friend/the daughter of her maid is dead, supposedly by suicide, she jets out to New York. No way Celine killed herself, Maggie cries to anyone (and I mean anyone) who will listen. But fear not! Detective Dip is on the case, and she's bought friends. She immediately starts going through all of her friend's things and finds items that...disturb her.
For the first 60% or so, this book has a definite IF I WERE YOU vibe. Maggie discovers a notebook in which her friend lists all of her sexual adventures before she died. She starts taking up with the man who might have killed her friend. She wears her dead friend's clothes and lives in her apartment. It's very awkward.
Is this a rip-off of IF I WERE YOU? No. They're very different stories. IIWY was erotica with a mystery thrown in. HWBMR is a mystery with some erotica thrown in. The focal point of this story is the mystery, and I was pleased to see that when it came down to brass tacks, the heroine was more interested in getting closure than sleeping with the hot, potentially murderous dudes (eventually).
At the 60% mark, the pacing picks up dramatically. Instead of slogging through tedious descriptions of Maggie attempting to play Nancy Drew/Gossip Girl, we're presented with even more subjects, interesting evidence, and some truly tense scenes as Celine's diary entries reveal clue after damning clue. Also, I loved the descriptions of old antiques and Chinese pottery. I actually didn't know how "new" bone china was, or how it got its name.
I probably would have enjoyed this more except for the fact that Maggie was a bland character, who didn't really have a personality apart from being rich and harboring an obsessive need to pour huge sums of money into finding out how her friend died. Why? An answer for this wasn't really provided, and I was given the impression that they were somewhat estranged.
I also thought that both she and Celine had definite TSTL tendencies. When they should have asked themselves, "Gee, maybe this person is a little too eager to install this camera into my house" or "maybe I shouldn't mix vodka and sleeping pills while in a fragile emotional state" they threw caution to the wind instead, leaving me shaking my head and muttering, "Really, lady? Really?"
HE WILL BE MY RUIN is mystery "light" with some sexual stuff thrown in. Not really my cup of tea, but I enjoyed it despite that, and found myself pleasantly surprised by this book's readability. Honestly, if you liked IF I WERE YOU, you'll probably like this, as the mystery is a lot better and it doesn't have quite as many long sex scenes. I'm not mad at it. Especially with its $1.99 price tag.
I used to joke that I was technically "Greek" because I was in a society (a lot of societies have Greek names, too) - in fact, I was offered membership to two. But I never rushed, and I didn't have any friends who were in sororities. Ever since I saw Legally Blonde, I was fascinated by sororities. They seemed so girly and decadent and shallow, like a sleepover with Kelly Ripa.
In other words, awesome.
DIRTY RUSH is probably not a realistic portrayal of what sororities and fraternities are actually like, any more than 80s movies by John Hughes were accurate portrayals of what high school was actually like. But it does manage to capture the "spirit" of what many of us wish it was like, which is almost as good.
Especially for those of us, like me, who can only participate in these kinds of events vicariously. This is prime entertainment.
There is an 80s movie vibe to DIRTY RUSH. It's larger than life, exaggerated, cliche, raunchy, and completely OTT. Taylor Bell is the smart, pretty girl who refuses to go to rush but ends up joining anyway because of a boy. Her sorority sisters love-bomb her, there's a scavenger hunt that involves collecting bodily fluids from frat boys, one of her sisters has to go to the ER to have anal beads removed from her rectum, and, oh, yes, the whole sorority is almost torn apart in the wake of a sex tape-slash-drug-dealing scandal.
You know, typical college life.
DIRTY RUSH is the trashiest thing I've read in a while. Parts of it made me angry. I didn't like how they referred to the alcohol as "rape juice" or that they used r*t*rd and autistic as insults. But there were surprisingly good parts, too. Like the acceptance of gay fraternity members, some truly loyal sorority sisters who stuck by Taylor no matter what, and Taylor's relationship decision at the end. If it weren't for the stilted dialogue and choppy transition scenes, I think DIRTY RUSH would have been an edgier, soapier version of Diana Peterfreund's Secret Society Girl series.
Yes, I actually liked this book. I know, I'm as surprised as you are.