I met author Joy Eileen on Twitter, where she seems fun and passionate. I'm not surprised her debut novel shares the same qualiKiller Characterization
I met author Joy Eileen on Twitter, where she seems fun and passionate. I'm not surprised her debut novel shares the same qualities.
Faith attends college and works at a coffee shop on campus when she meets hunky Jason, her "knight in coffee justice". Despite the niggling discomfort she feels in Jason's presence, they end up moving in together, and his control over her becomes complete. She tiptoes around trying to avoid his wrath, but he is the one responsible for cutting her down with his words and fists.
When she can't take it anymore, she escapes to meet her friends at a bar where a local band, The Jackholes, plays. Faith feels drawn to the lead singer, Killian. She jumps into help the harried waitress, in the process revealing her bruised arms (to her friends' horror). Kill gets Faith a job as server and a home at his place, to keep her safe from Jason.
Most of the time I dislike scruffy, tatted heroes, but Kill is a dream man. He's not a boorish alpha by any means. His reputation as a man ho goes out the window once he meets Faith. Faith can't deny her attraction to him, but is wary of getting hurt again. He had a sweet, vulnerable side to him he kept hidden. It was because of that side, I needed to avoid him. I already determined he would break my heart if I didn't stay away.
Their banter is hilarious.
We walked to a huge monstrous black truck. I had to practically pole vault into the cab. "Nice truck. Overcompensating?" I asked, glancing at the juncture between his legs.
Kill's laugh was amazing. The rumbling in his chest made my traitorous nipples harden.
Kill is spot on when he tells Faith:
"As your friend I have to say you have an uncanny knack for attracting the biggest poseurs, douche bags, and tools. You're like a beacon." Kill looked up to the ceiling as if he was praying for patience. "You know you look hot. It's like you added an extra strength light bulb to your douche beacon. Every douche for miles will be lined up."
The unresolved sexual tension between Faith and Kill about killed me. I grew to care about Faith and want good things for her.
I did have some quibbles about this book. It needs tightening of the plot and exposition. For how long it is, I expected more resolution of major plot lines. I don't mind cliffhangers but I think it would work better to include the excerpt of the next book as the ending of this one, to give readers some relief from the UST.
Books like these make me appreciate my book club even more because I probably wouldn't have tried it wA Man with Asperger's Delightful Journey to Love
Books like these make me appreciate my book club even more because I probably wouldn't have tried it without my friend Colby picking it this month.
Don Tillman is a 39-year-old genetics professor in Australia who knows he is socially inept but doesn't know he has a raging case of Autism Spectrum Disorder. He would like to date but his difficulties with emotions and subtleties of interactions have made that difficult. Being the scientist he is, he decides to write a questionnaire for potential partners he dubs "The Wife Project". He believes his data driven approach will weed out unsuitable candidates.
He has a married psychologist couple, Gene and Claudia, to help him sort out these puzzling social interactions. Sadly, Gene and Claudia are his only friends.
When Don attends a dating event, his unique perceptions of the world are hilarious.
Olivia resumed talking to me while the others engaged in small talk -- an extraordinary waste of time when a major life decision was at stake. On Claudia's advice, I had memorized the questionnaire. She thought that asking questions directly from the forms could create the wrong "dynamic" and that I should attempt to incorporate them subtly into conversation, Subtlety, I had reminded her, is not my strength. She suggested that I not ask about sexually transmitted diseases and that I make my own estimates of weight, height, and body mass index. I estimated Olivia's BMI at nineteen; slim, but no signs of anorexia.
Every time Don meets someone new, he mentally calculates their BMI. BA HA HA! I've met quite a few characters through dating but I've never had one come out and ask me my BMI--Don would totally do that if not for Claudia's advice.
Don's friend Gene sets him up with Rosie, a "barmaid". Rosie comes over for dinner prepared by the excellent cook Don.
I commenced retrieval of vegetables and herbs from the refrigerator. "Let me help," Rosie said. "I can chop or something." The implication was that chopping could be done by an inexperienced person unfamiliar with the recipe. After her comment that she was unable to cook even in a life-threatening situation, I had visions of huge chunks of leek and fragments of herbs too fine to sieve out.
Once Don discovers Rosie smokes and runs late, he automatically discards her as a candidate for The Wife Project. But when Rosie tells him she's trying to discover the identity of her biological father, geneticist Don is suddenly all in to helping her with The Father Project.
They narrow down potential fathers based on her mother's medical school class, and proceed to obtain DNA samples from over fifty men in a madcap manner.
Don eventually learns that Rosie is a doctoral psychology student who's smarter than she seems. Don and Rosie test a sample from one probable father.
"But I've never consciously thought of him as my father."
"He's not," I said.
The results had come up on the computer screen. Job complete. I began packing up.
"Wow," said Rosie. "Ever thought of being a grief counselor?"
"No. I considered a number of careers, but all in the sciences. My interpersonal skills are not strong."
Rosie burst out laughing.
Don is just so damn endearing! The funniest scene is when Don and Rosie pose as bartenders at a medical school reunion in order to swab cocktail glasses. Memorizing orders and drink recipes is where computer-mind Don excels, and he performs so well that the bar owner wants to go into business with him.
Equally funny is when Don wants to woo a ballroom dancing champion, so he practices his dance moves with a skeleton from a nearby lab. When he tests out his dance moves in front of a crowd, he learns Unfortunately, this requires cooperation on the part of the partner, particularly if she is heavier than a skeleton.
When Don decides he would like to have sex with Rosie, he talks it over with Gene:
"So why the stress?" said Gene. "You have had sex before?"
"Of course," I said. "It's just that adding a second person makes it more complicated."
"Naturally, said Gene. "I should have thought of that. Why not get a book?"
So Don buys a book and memorizes all the sexual positions. Naturally, he brings out the skeleton again for practice, and naturally, the dean walks into his office while Don is getting into compromising positions on the floor with the skeleton. *laughs*
In addition to the charming humor, there's some depth to this story about love and growth. I definitely want to read the sequel. Highly recommended....more
While I like Ana Steele in the Fifty Shades trilogy, Christian is the most compelling character to me.Christian Grey's Head: A Dark and Yearning Place
While I like Ana Steele in the Fifty Shades trilogy, Christian is the most compelling character to me. His sadness, humor, arrogance, determination, and unpredictability keep me coming back for more. So I was quite excited to hear about Grey, and the story doesn't disappoint.
I think the insight into Christian's perspective deepens my sympathy for him by shedding light on his behavior with Ana. His history of abuse leads him to approach the world with a tight sense of control. From the get-go, Ana's sweet stubbornness undermines that control, which intrigues him. Christian begins to learn that control isn't all it's cracked up to be. Control makes him cold and empty. Control keeps him distant from others. He starts to yearn for Ana's closeness, and the fear of losing her triggers his fear of abandonment. He vows not to relive the pain he felt when his mother left him at age three, yet he can't stay mired in post-trauma dysfunction and keep Ana.
"I feel about punishment the way you feel about me touching you." And from nowhere the darkness crawls over me, shrouding my skin, leaving an icy trail of despair in its wake.
This book makes me feel Christian's exquisite fear. We all know what happens at the end of Fifty Shades, but the ending of Grey is more hopeful. Instead of his mother's abandonment creating life-long self-hatred, can Ana's departure serve as a corrective emotional experience for Christian?
It's poignant to hear Christian's flashbacks throughout the story, like the first time he spoke in his new family:
"This is your baby sister, Christian. Her name is Mia." Mommy lets me hold her. She is very small. With black, black hair. She smiles. She has no teeth. I stick out my tongue. She has a bubbly laugh. When Mia is crying, Elliot ignores her. I hold her and hold her and she stops. She falls asleep in my arms. "Mee a," I whisper. "What did you say?" Mommy asks, and her face is white like chalk. "Mee a." "Yes. Yes. Darling boy, Mia. Her name is Mia." And Mommy starts to cry with happy, happy tears.
And I find it fascinating how he describes what he feels for Ana: the unknown emotion of love.
"Thank you," I whisper. She looks confused. "For not touching me," I clarify. Her face softens and she raises her hand. I tense. But she shakes her head and traces my lips with her finger. "You said it's a hard limit. I understand." And she leans forward and kisses me. The unfamiliar feeling surfaces, swelling in my chest, unnamed and dangerous.
Everything that made me love the series is still present, without the annoying repetition of inner goddesses. Their emails are as funny as ever, and I enjoy seeing Ros bust out Christian for sending flirty emails during an important work meeting. I believe EL James' writing has improved. The best change for me, though, is Dr. Flynn. He finally names the correct diagnosis (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and I love the hope he inspires for Christian after the break-up.
If you hate the series, you'll probably hate this book. But if you enjoyed Ana's perspective, I encourage you to give Christian's a try. I know Grey kept me up late several nights in a row. There's just something compulsively readable about this series!...more
Beck Anderson's debut novel Fix You was a 5 star read for me. I wasn't the only one who loved the story as evidencedLove Lasts Through Life's Troubles
Beck Anderson's debut novel Fix You was a 5 star read for me. I wasn't the only one who loved the story as evidenced by its nomination for two RITA awards. Its sequel Trouble Me keeps up the humor and depth, even adding in a suspense element, as Kelly and Andrew's relationship progresses.
Boise was an unusual setting for book one, and in this story we visit the raw, rough Oregon coast as well as more urban settings like NYC and LA.
When movie star Andrew drives his girlfriend Kelly and her two sons to Oregon, he feels choked up by emotion:
I feel full to bursting. I have a family. A beautiful family. I have this girl, this glorious woman to the right of me now, who let me into her life when I probably least deserved it.
The abundance almost makes me scared.
I've never had so much to lose before.
That's a great setup for what's to come. And at that point Andrew doesn't know he'll have even more to lose when his family expands.
Meanwhile, Kelly continues her passion for running, which led her to meet Andrew in the first place.
Whenever I go on walks or runs, I stake out the neighborhood, figure out which house I'd claim as mine.
I TOTALLY do that! There's one house in a nearby neighborhood I've stalked for years.
One of my favorite parts of the story is the marriage proposal running gag. After a lame first attempt, Andrew decides to make it fun:
He pulls out the twist tie from the hot dog bun package. It's twisted in the shape of a ring. "Kelly Reynolds, will you marry me?"
I laugh and hold out my hand. "Where's the Eye of the Tiger?"
"I've arrived at a brilliant idea. I'm going to propose multiple times -- so many times you can't stand it. And you won't be able to tell which is the official, last, 'real' proposal."
As his father says, "Andrew never can do something without a production. We knew from the time he was five he'd be an actor." Ha ha.
The proposals are clever and funny. Perhaps a subtitle for this story could be "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)".
I also laughed at the incident in the trailer when Andrew and Kelly pull a prank on a mean actress. When the trailer's rockin', don't come-a-knockin'!
Things get more serious when somebody obsessed with Andrew tries to kill him. I had a good inkling who Crazy was from the get-go, based on the strangeness of conversations between the characters. The ending was quite suspenseful.
I love the idea of titling the books after songs, and the title I heard for book three sounds great!...more
My Goodreads buddy Mitsy told me I must read Lauren Stewart novels, and I’m glad I followed her advice. I particularly enjoyed tDeeper Water Is Better
My Goodreads buddy Mitsy told me I must read Lauren Stewart novels, and I’m glad I followed her advice. I particularly enjoyed the ending of this contemporary romance.
Laney is stuck in a reverse fairytale, dating princes who turn into frogs.
’You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.’ My mother’s favorite expression was completely wrong. If you kiss a lot of frogs, all you end up with is sore lips and a bunch of frogs. And if you kiss a lot of princes, hoping at least one of them will stay that way, all you get is a horrific amount of disappointment and even more frogs.
When her boyfriend Kevin breaks up with her (oh yeah, he’s marrying the woman he’s been seeing on the side), she declares him yet another frog and swears off all men, amphibian or otherwise.
Five months later, she’s hanging in a coffee shop when a cute guy flirts with her. She’s not having it.
”Trust me, you don’t want me to get to know you, not if you like who you are right now. I’m cursed. I could turn you into a frog with barely any effort at all. Go find someone else to pretend to be in love with. I wish you luck.”
Naturally, her blow-off intrigues Carson to no end. Men do enjoy the chase!
For the first half of the story, there’s a lot of snappy dialogue as Laney and Carson get to know each other…as they pretend they’re not falling in love. I didn’t feel connected to either character at that point. It's like they're in the shallow end of the pool.
Then Laney discovers why Carson says he can’t fall in love, and I was hooked. Here he has a confrontation with his mother:
I rubbed my cheek and jaw to lessen the sting and get the blood moving. “It hurts even more than the hit does, but if you rub the area right away, you don’t get as much bruising.” My next words were soft. “My mother taught me that.”
I thought Carson’s mother demonstrated good insight into why she stayed with abusive men.
There is excellent character development for both Laney and Carson. Laney learns that her needs are important. Finding our voice seems like such a universal struggle for women. Carson muses:
She needed to learn how to say what she wanted instead of pretending she was fine with every decision someone else made for her.
And Carson learns that he isn’t doomed to repeat his father’s abusive behavior. Laney pleads with him:
”You’re great and you’re not broken and you won’t hurt me. The only person you’re hurting is yourself. Over and over in some stupid, useless kind of penance.”
With each other’s support, maybe the water will be lighter and smoother for these two?...more
Mia Sheridan, from my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. When I met her at the QPorn Star With a Heart of Gold
Mia Sheridan, from my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. When I met her at the Queen City Indie Con, told her how much I loved Archer's Voice, and asked for a recommendation for my next read, she suggested Stinger. I'm so glad she did!
Grace Hamilton is Type A all the way. She's a law student who plans to graduate in two years (who the hell can accomplish that?) She attends a law student conference in Las Vegas and notices there's another conference happening at the Bellagio. What is it? The Adult Entertainment Expo. Law students and porn stars together in one hotel? Tee hee.
When Grace bumps into hotel guest by the elevators, she sees his conference name tag and assumes he's another law student, until she reads:
Carson Stinger Straight Male Performer Adult Entertainment Expo
He was about my age with sandy colored hair that was just a little too long and curling up at the ends, and one of those handsome faces that manages to be both manly and boyish at the same time. Simultaneously rugged and pretty. His hazel eyes were fringed with thick, dark lashes, his nose straight and his full lips curved into a half-smile.
Grace feels flustered and Carson feels amused.
"Well, have a good time ... er, a nice time, um, enjoy," I gestured toward his name tag, "the show. Or rather, not the show, but the ... well, enjoy the weekend."
And that's when he burst out laughing, deepening the tiny dimple by his mouth. "I will, Buttercup. And you enjoy your weekend too. Let me guess, law student conference?"
I started to walk around him, but stopped when I heard the clearly condescending nickname and the amusement in his voice. "Yes, actually. Is there something wrong with that?"
"No, not at all. Looks like we're both here to learn how to be the best at getting people off."
Ha ha ha! He's a live one. It doesn't seem possible for these two to have any sort of future, but Carson's quite the charmer, and Grace doesn't know how much she needs a little levity in her life.
I enjoyed the mystery as to why Carson calls her "Buttercup", and it's sweet when he talks her down from a panic attack. Carson's merciless teasing when he discovers Grace's favorite movie is Titanic (mine too!) cracks me up. At one point they're watching the beautiful fountain show at the Bellagio and "My Heart Goes On" plays over the speakers. Then they're in the pool and Carson spends hours trying to convince Grace that two people can fit on a small raft.
Both characters have sadness in their backgrounds that fostered some personality flaws. After her brother died, Grace became the overachieving caretaker in her family, putting her father's and younger sisters' needs ahead of her own. At her worst she's a rigid control freak who tries to make everyone else happy. But with Carson's encouragement, she begins to speak her voice with her father.
He sighed. "Gracie, I'm sorry I never made it clear to you that your happiness was important to me. You stepped right in and started taking care of this family when your mom left. I saw it and I let you do it, and that probably wasn't fair to you."
"No, Dad," I said quickly, shaking my head. "I wanted to do that. It made me feel like I was doing something to make things better for everyone. Better for you."
"You were darlin', but I should have made that more my job, than yours. It was too much pressure for a kid. And you always put enough pressure on yourself as it was."
Insightful words from Grace's father.
Carson's mother was also a porn star, and his chaotic upbringing leads him to believe he's not worthy beyond his good looks. Grace helps him challenge his low self-worth. But how can a porn star offer anything of substance to a woman like Grace? Carson's desire for her leads him to a huge life change, and I love how his background ties into the risks he later takes to help victims.
There are some minor editing errors, like misspelling blonde, two characters speaking in the same paragraph, and the inclusion of copyrighted song lyrics (unless the author obtained permission to use them).
What a beautiful story about two wounded people helping each other develop and grow. It's also a hot and humorous adventure! As Carson says, "Life is wild."...more
Nicki Elson has a talent for writing humorous, engaging characters, and Lyssa Bates is my favorite so far. Lyssa’s an inves Funny, Heartwarming Romance
Nicki Elson has a talent for writing humorous, engaging characters, and Lyssa Bates is my favorite so far. Lyssa’s an investment analyst in her twenties who dates a cute, skinny nerd named Keith.
He was a runner and also dabbled in martial arts and whatever else was the current rage in nerd culture.
Keith buys her a vibrator to spice up their sex life, and Lyssa likes her new toy. A lot. Lyssa likes her vibrator so much that she nicknames it Vibrizzio, her sexy Italian lover.
Keith isn’t so enamored of Vibrizzio, especially when Lyssa always insists on a threesome. That’s gotta be a new low when a boyfriend is jealous of a lil’ machine.
Meanwhile, Lyssa get assigned to an important account at work: Project Pineapple. Heading the team is the gorgeous Hayden King. He’s a rising star in the company, confident and competent. He’s curious about Lyssa, but she seriously doubts his interest in her.
Hayden learns about Vibrizzio in an unfortunate airport incident. Damn the TSA! Lyssa tries to play the vibrator off as a flashlight. Later, at a dimly lit restaurant:
He nodded and squinted. “This lighting’s pretty dim. I’m having trouble seeing my choices—do you have that flashlight handy?” His handsome features stayed perfectly composed as he narrowed his eyes further and tilted his head to the side. “Can I borrow it for a sec?”
Lyssa stared at him, hard, and didn’t say a word. Flicking his eyes up, he held her gaze while the corners of his mouth twitched.
“Having fun?” Lyssa asked.
He shrugged. “Not as much as you apparently plan on having later.”
Lyssa disdains the plentiful women Hayden seems to attract. After one of his trysts, they chat.
”That woman has an ass that won’t quit.”
Lyssa wrinkled her face. “What exactly does that expression even mean? An ass that won’t quit? Think about the primary function of an ass—I’d think that’s the sort of thing you might want to quit.”
Lyssa’s sister is rather bitchy, but Lyssa dishes it right back:
”How’s the big bad city treating you,” Jessica asked, pulling back and holding her hand to her sister’s face, running a thumb over her cheek. “Yikes, all those exhaust fumes are hell on the pores, I see.”
“The city’s great, Jess. Too bad you never got a chance to live there.”
“Well, some of us move on with our lives and can’t stay stuck in the party-party atmosphere of the college years forever.”
“True. And some of us feel the need to experience life before bending to the will of an arcane society.”
I would hate a judgmental sister like that.
I could feel the romantic tension building between Lyssa and Hayden, but it’s tough for her to see. When the idea arises of Hayden dating Lyssa’s friend Trish, Lyssa tries to be okay with it.
He pursed his lips. “Normally this is something I’d be all over, but I haven’t been feeling normal lately.” He leveled his eyes at her.
“Is this something you should talk to your gynecologist about?” Lyssa asked.
He grinned. “You’re extra sassy today, which means you’re using humor to divert your discomfort. I think maybe you’re not as okay with this as you claim to be.”
Hayden knows Lyssa well.
This story had me beaming and cheering at the end. HIGHLY recommended! ...more
As a single woman in a couples world, I was drawn to this novel. But it wasn't until I cyber-met the lovely Lisette BrodMolly Hacker is Too Appealing!
As a single woman in a couples world, I was drawn to this novel. But it wasn't until I cyber-met the lovely Lisette Brodey when she interviewed me at her Author Chateau that I bumped this story to the top of my list. And what a funny, clever story it is.
Molly Hacker is a 32-year-old newspaper reporter whose single status seems to be of great concern to her friends and family. "Just settle down with a husband!" they say. "Stop being too picky!"
But Molly doesn't want just anyone to be her partner for life. (Smart woman!) She's looking for a guy who's cute, interesting, and funny. A guy just like her ex, Leo. Their breakup broke her heart and her trust, and now her mantra is "I must, I must, I must begin to trust."
I REALLY relate to Molly. She is an independent writer, won't settle for just any guy, likes Coldplay and Maroon 5, has a hilarious gay BFF and a misbehaving cat, and even wishes she could've been a psychologist (my career). However, she's more neurotic than I am (I hope). And I'm so thankful people don't get on my case about being single. Poor Molly has to endure meddling friends and family.
When my aunt Pauline asked me why a pretty girl like me couldn't have brought a man to the wedding who wasn't attached to someone else, I asked the thrice-divorced sister of my mother to explain to me how settling for three Mr. Wrongs had enhanced her life.
She's certainly not a shrinking violet! Molly is a lot funnier than me, too. Her insights crack me up, like:
I was feeling like the rock star's girlfriend. I liked that, but then my lips started forming the word "groupie", and I didn't want to be considered one or to fend off their overzealous affection for my man. My man? I needed to regroup. Or did I need to regroupie?
"What does 'cute as a button' mean, anyway?" I asked. "I mean, how did buttons ever become the poster children for cuteness?"
But her coworker friend Randy steals the show with his cleverness:
I just stared at Randy, noticing his face had a strange orange glow to it. "And your face is orange because … ?" "Okay. Self-tanner. Put on too much for too long. Tried to impress. What a mess. I confess. Now I digress. What's up with you, or should I guess?" "Give it a rest, I chimed in."… "I hate men," I said, glaring at him. "ALL of them." "Molly Rose, how irrational. What has gotten into you? Why so blue?" "If you can be orange, I can be blue!" I said. "Such colorful banter," he said.
Ha ha! Then, when invasive socialite Naomi shows up unannounced at Molly's office, Randy has some fun:
To complicate my ever-complicated life, nothing ever got past Randy, who had taken from his desk drawer a Scream mask (derived from the famous Edvard Munch painting), put it on his face, and proceeded to stand three feet away from the threshold of my office door, mocking every move Naomi made behind her back.
Molly encounters quite a few suitors throughout the story, including a rock star painter, her high school crush (who's now getting a divorce), an older man who's wealthy and suave, and an awkward yet endearing man. If she decides to choose one of these men, which one will it be? This mystery match-making element kept me turning the pages.
It's clear that Molly Hacker is well-deserving of a wonderful man who matches her wit and style....more
What a thought-provoking romance! It's rare for me to feel such fondness for the hero and the heroine, butThe Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth
What a thought-provoking romance! It's rare for me to feel such fondness for the hero and the heroine, but I loved both Daniel and Aubrey. It's also rare for me to understand Shakespeare, but Georgina Guthrie provides an excellent guide to the Bard in this story.
Aubrey Price starts her last year at the University of Toronto with a tight budget, a set of close friends, and a passion for all things Shakespeare. She works as an assistant to Dean Grant in addition to taking a heavy course load. The TA for her Shakespeare course is Dean Grant's son Daniel, who's scruffy and gorgeous. Aubrey tries to suppress her attraction to Daniel's forbidden fruit due to the anti-fraternization policy. (Good luck, Aubrey.)
Daniel is a puzzle. He crisply calls her "Miss Price", at times seeming standoffish and pompous. At other times he smiles warmly and appears impressed by her depth of knowledge and wit.
Daniel had been livid with me, which was definitely not without its strange appeal. Angry-Daniel was something to behold. But then he was Tail-Between-His-Legs-Daniel, followed shortly afterward by Tiny-Piece-of-Heart-on-His-Sleeve-Daniel. The episode was rounded out nicely by Dimpled-Smile-and-Lip-Biting-Daniel. Smorgasbord, right?
Aubrey has no idea how he feels about her until Dean Grant invites her to a family dinner and Daniel unexpectedly shows up. When he has one drink too many, he reveals his true feelings.
O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! that we should, with joy, pleasance, revel, and applause, transform ourselves into beasts! ~William Shakespeare, Othello
Hehe. Before Daniel makes a total beast of himself, he attempts to rein himself in, though it's tough to avoid Aubrey's charm. The secret that likely drives him to drink that night also ups the professional stakes to dangerous levels.
Aubrey has a winsome sense of humor which her roommate Matt draws out of her:
"I didn't know you guys were headed in that direction," I said. "I knew you liked each other. Some nights I could tell you really liked each other." I rattled the headboard, and he shot me a poisonous glare.
Matt also made me laugh:
"I had to get up. My brain was screaming for Advil," he groaned. "And I have the worst case of the zacklies." "What the hell are the zacklies?" "You know, when your mouth tastes zackly like your ass."
The banter between Aubrey and Daniel kept me grinning. Her F-bomb explosions surprise and delight him. His pair of jeans with a hole over the knee makes Aubrey swoon.
"Now tell me," I said, eager to lighten the tone. "Am I going to get a look at one of those sweet knees tonight?" Daniel sighed again. "Don't worry. Mr. Ratty Pants will be making an appearance this evening."
Instructors getting it on with students is abusive and wrong. But this story never feels icky that way. Aubrey is a strong, independent woman and Daniel does his best to exhibit self-control. Can they keep their paws off each other until semester's end? I look forward to finding out in the next two books in the series!
A very little thief of occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience. ~William Shakespeare Coriolanus, Act II, sc. 1...more
Hopeless blew me away. (See my review here). Colleen Hoover has amazed me by turning Sky and Holder's trauma intoI Live to Read Colleen Hoover Novels
Hopeless blew me away. (See my review here). Colleen Hoover has amazed me by turning Sky and Holder's trauma into triumph, and she has made Holder my favorite book boyfriend. He is so smart, loving, and kind. So it was such a treat to read Sky's journey of discovery from Holder's perspective in Losing Hope.
I'm impressed this story didn't feel rehashed. The addition of Holder's interactions with his sister's boyfriend, along with heart-wrenching letters to and from Les, pack a powerful emotional punch in this story.
There are two issues I have with this series:
1. Les's therapist. The trauma Les sustained is horrific. And, people can heal from that. If Les wasn't getting better after years of therapy, TIME FOR A NEW THERAPIST. Did the therapist even ask if Les was thinking about suicide? Sometimes even the best therapists can't help clients, especially if clients are hell-bent on killing themselves, but I thought this potential malpractice was glossed over in the story.
2. The cover model is cute and all, but he just doesn't look like Dean Holder to me. I picture Holder as taller and lankier, with less of a preppy look. What do you think?
These are minor complaints I have for a masterpiece of a story. The sadness, the humor, the depth of characterization, and most of all, the hope…I can't wait to read what Colleen Hoover writes next....more
How does a woman move on after the death of her husband? Having two adorable sons and supportive parents helps. But what reallyFixated on This Story!
How does a woman move on after the death of her husband? Having two adorable sons and supportive parents helps. But what really does the trick is falling in love with a humble movie star who needs some fixing of his own.
So goes the romance of Kelly and Andrew, who meet when Kelly breaks down sobbing on a run. Andrew's in town for a film shoot, and he feels sad to learn it's the two year anniversary of Kelly's husband's death. They gradually get to know each other. Can a famous actor and a down-to-earth widow make this long distance relationship work? It'll be tough, given Kelly's lovable neuroticism, Andrew's shady past, and initial exchanges like this:
He fishes his cell phone and sunglasses out of the car. "Can I get your number?" "You don't want my number." "Yes, I do." "No, you don't." Seriously, is he kidding? "Do too." He shakes his head. "This is insane. Why not?" "Look at you. Come on." He stares at me with those very blue eyes. "Don't be ridiculous. Give me your number."
I loved the unique setting of Boise (said with an "s", not a "z"!) and the realistic characters. But what I loved most of all was the humor. MAJOR props for the mention of that Saturday Night Live skit "Master Thespian!" As well as these quotes:
Starting the first day I get little texts each day: "Development meeting in 90210. Lady across from me has taken 'bee stung' lips to a horrifying new level."
"You'll fly down here. A quick visit. Now go, make the phone calls. Make it so." "I will see what I can do, Jean-Luc Picard. You're a huge nerd." "You're the one who knows the name of the captain."
The salesgirl is done giving me the up and down. "Size six is the largest we go." "I'm sorry, I missed it. Did the sign above the door say Big Heads on a Toothpick R Us?"
If my life were a movie this'd be the part where the montage begins. You know, they'd play a kicky song like "Walking on Sunshine," and there'd be shots of Andrew and me getting ice cream, riding bicycles through the park, playfully doing lots of things as a happy couple.
Ha ha ha!
The only part of the story I didn't eat up was when Kelly reveals something about her deceased husband Peter toward the end of the novel. That part of the story didn't quite seem to fit as essential, unless I'm missing something.
Kelly and Andrew admire Ernest Hemingway, and it appears author Beck Anderson does as well, evidenced by her short sentences and overall clean writing.
Spend some time with Kelly and Andrew and you'll enjoy them as much as I do!...more
Thank you to my friend Sue for choosing this hilarious epistolary novel for book club! The first half had me laughing almSkewering Seattle Soccer Moms
Thank you to my friend Sue for choosing this hilarious epistolary novel for book club! The first half had me laughing almost every page. I suspected it would be difficult to maintain the intensity of the humor for the whole novel, and unfortunately I was correct. The characters and storyline were so farcical and shocking that it was a bit disappointing when the reality of consequences hit the story. But it's still a fantastic, unique read.
Bee Branch is a fourteen year-old super-star student at Galer Street School in Seattle. From the first words of the novel--the mission statement of Bee's school--I knew I was in for a parody:
Galer Street School is a place where compassion, academics, and global connectitude join together to create civic-minded citizens of a sustainable and diverse planet.
Um, connectitude? It's no surprise when we learn that school parent Audrey Griffin wrote the mission statement. She's neighbor to Bee and her family, and Bee's mother Bernadette Fox can't stand snooty do-gooders like Audrey. Bernadette refers to the school moms as "gnats" and doesn't want anything to do with them. It's hard to tell if Bernadette is eccentric or mentally ill. I loved her architectural genius backstory, revealed later in the novel. Here Bernadette teases Bee that she's going to follow her to boarding school at Choate:
"Oh, didn't I tell you?" Mom said. "I'm going to move to Wallingford and rent a house off campus. I already got a job working in the Choate dining hall." "Don't even joke," I said. "Nobody will know I'm your mother. You won't even have to say hi. I just want to look at your gorgeous face every day. But a little wave every now and then would sure warm a mum's heart." She did that last part sounding like a leprechaun. "Mom!" I said. "You have no choice in it," she said. "I'll be lurking behind the sneeze guards with my plastic gloves, serving hamburgers on Wednesdays, fish on Fridays--" "Dad, make her stop."
Bee's dad Elgin is a brilliant manager at Microsoft and has the third most-watched TED talk in the world, when he unveiled an amazing microchip that harnesses the power of mental imagery to do tasks for you that you don't want to do. (HELLO, can I get one of these to clean my cat's litter box?)
Meanwhile, intrusive neighbor Audrey is planning to host the "Prospective Parent Brunch Committee" organized by the paid consultant Ollie-O, who sends emails to motivate the school parents to recruit high profile parents (aka "Mercedes Parents") in order to elevate the school's reputation, like:
From: Ollie-O To: Prospective Parent Brunch Committee
REAL-TIME FLASH! We're up to 60 RSVPs! I'm just throwing out some fertilizer, but: Pearl Jam. I hear they've got kids entering kindergarten. If we get one of them--it doesn't have to be the singer--I can grow it.
Later Ollie plans the brunch at Audrey's house:
Principal Gwen Goodyear will be stationed at the door, bidding adieux, and handing out Galer Street swag. There is no way to overemphasize the importance of this. Just because they're Mercedes Parents doesn't mean they're not highly receptive to free shit. (Excuzey-moi!)
When the brunch turns disastrous, the school calls on a famous PTSD psychologist to intervene. The psychologist's letter had me howling!
I truly enjoyed the correspondence between Audrey and her friend Soo-Lin, who also has children that attend Galer. Soo-Lin ends up being the administrative assistant for Bee's father Elgin at Microsoft. Soo-Lin's part of VAV: Victims Against Victimhood, and spreads the word wherever she goes. The ridiculous VAV acronyms remind me of self-help groups gone wrong (so wrong).
Seattle is a wonderful setting. The author even mentions my favorite restaurant Wild Ginger!
Bernadette off-handedly promised Bee they would go on a trip to Antartica if Bee gets straight "A"s in middle school (or in Galer's case, straight "S"s for "surpasses excellence" since they don't believe in grades). Naturally genius-child Bee achieves the grades and now the social recluse Bernadette and her workaholic husband need to follow through on their promise.
Will Bee's family ever be accepted by the Prospective Parent Brunch Committee? Will they make it to Antartica? Will Bee's father become part of her life again instead of holing himself up at Microsoft? Will Bernadette stay eccentric or succumb to mental illness?
A Woman in Search of Her O, And Clive the Cat Steals the Show
While I giggled throughout Alice Clayton's debut novel The Unidentified Redhead, this booA Woman in Search of Her O, And Clive the Cat Steals the Show
While I giggled throughout Alice Clayton's debut novel The Unidentified Redhead, this book stepped up the zany fun to the point I was laughing almost every page! Added to the humor was compelling characterization, crisp dialogue, and emotional punch that made this a definite 5 star read for me.
Interior designer Caroline Reynolds (hey I just realized that's the name of the evil vice president from the TV show Prison Break) moves into a San Francisco apartment. Her mischievous cat Clive comes with her, but her orgasm does not. It's been missing for months after a not-so-sexy rapid-fire bed battle with her ex Cory, and Caroline is climbing the walls to get it back. It doesn't help when her bedroom wall bangs with the sexcapades of her neighbor Simon and his "harem", including the spankee, giggler, and meower. The meower totally turns Clive on.
They say when a soldier loses a leg in battle, sometimes, late at night, he can still feel twinges of that leg -- phantom pain, they call it. I lost my O in battle, the battle of Cory Weinstein, that machine-gun fucker -- and I was still feeling the aftershocks. I'd been feeling twinges of the phantom O all week long.
One night Caroline dons a pink nightie to get in the mood and starts fantasizing about George Clooney. She's about to recapture her missing O when the banging interrupts her, and she flies next door to chew out her man-whore neighbor. It's the beginning of a hilarious wallbanger of a romance.
Caroline has no filter, much to the delight of her best friends Sophia and Mimi:
"So, has he been wall banging at all this week?" Sophia asked. "Relatively quiet, actually. Either he really listened to me and is being neighborly, or his dick finally broke off in one of them and he's sought medical attention," I said, a little too loudly. The table of businessmen must've been listening pretty closely as they all choked a little just then and shifted in their seats, perhaps crossing their legs in unwitting sympathy.
Like Caroline, I am dying to visit Spain, and when she discovers that Simon is an international photographer with an upcoming trip to Spain, she likes him even more. When Simon discovers Caroline bakes bread, he goes all mushy. Clive thinks they're both nuts.
"You smell GREAT when you're all worked up," he said, waggling his eyebrows at me like the devil. "Seriously, you pick women up with lines like that?" I turned away from him to take off my jacket and squeeze my thighs together maniacally. Clive came bounding out of the bedroom when he heard my voice and stopped short when he saw Simon. Unfortunately, he had little traction on the hardwood floor and skidded rather ungracefully under the dining room table, Trying to regain his dignity, he executed a difficult four-foot leap from a standing position onto the bookshelf and waved me over with his paw. He wanted me to come to him -- typical male. I dropped my gym bag and sauntered over. "Hi, sweet boy. How was your day? Hmm? Did you play? Did you get a good nap?" I scratched behind his ear, and he purred loudly. He gave me his dreamy cat eyes and then turned his gaze to Simon. I swear he cat-smirked at him. "Zucchini bread, huh? You want some more, I take it?" I asked. "I know you have more. Simon says gimme it," he deadpanned, making his finger into a gun. "You're oddly into your baked goods, aren't you? Support group for that?"
Clive gets jealous of any man pursuing "the feeder" Caroline. This balloon won't last long.
While the last fourth of the book didn't hold quite the screwball humor and pacing of the prior chapters, overall I loved the story. I adored the unique POV of the last chapter. I thought Clive might turn the bottles of sand into a litter box!
What a wonderful surprise this series turned out to be. There are so many haters of this series but don't count me as one of them. IChristian is Free!
What a wonderful surprise this series turned out to be. There are so many haters of this series but don't count me as one of them. I thought the characterization was superb for both the heroine and the hero. I liked Ana much more than Bella in the Twilight series, and Christian's psychological journey enthralled me.
I love their banter, even when discussing difficult topics like when Ana buys him a camera on their honeymoon.
"For me, photos like those have usually been an insurance policy, Ana. I know I've objectified women for so long," he says and pauses awkwardly. "And you think taking pictures of me is...um, objectifying me?" ... "Well, it was supposed to be fun, but apparently it's a symbol of women's oppression." I snap away, taking more pictures of him, and watch the amusement grow on his face in super close-up. Then his eyes darken, and his expression changes to predatory. "You want to be oppressed?" he murmurs silkily. "Not oppressed. No," I murmur back, snapping again. "I could oppress you big-time, Mrs. Grey," he threatens, his voice husky. "I know you can, Mr. Grey. And you do, frequently."
Later they celebrate a happy event for Ana's friend Kate and Christian's brother Elliott.
Christian summons the waiter. "Two bottles of the Cristal please. The 2002 if you have it." I smirk at him. "What?" he asks. "Because the 2002 is so much better than the 2003," I tease. He laughs. "To the discerning palate, Anastasia." "You have a very discerning palate, Mr. Grey, and singular tastes." I smile. "That I do, Mrs. Grey." He leans in close. "You taste best," he whispers, and he kisses a certain spot behind my ear, sending little shivers down my spine.
My work book club read this and one therapist made an astute observation. He said that kink isn't pathological, and one downside of this story is Christian's journey from BDSM to vanilla is viewed as a journey to improved psychological health. While I partly agree with my coworker, I also believe Ana and Christian find and keep their own brand of kink. They show that BDSM can be light, playful, and sexy. And I have to believe that this wildly popular series has introduced countless readers to BDSM in a positive way.
The ending gave me an ebullient feeling and I loved reading Christian's perspective of the series's beginning chapter. I'd read all three books from his perspective should Ms. James choose to write them. I love Christian!!!...more