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
Nah, I think my favorite is still Hopeless and its companion novel Losing Hope. But I also lovedMaybe Someday!
CMaybe My Favorite Colleen Hoover Read?
Nah, I think my favorite is still Hopeless and its companion novel Losing Hope. But I also lovedMaybe Someday!
College student Sydney lives with her boyfriend Hunter and best friend Tori in a Texas apartment. At night she studies on the balcony and listens to a guy play his guitar from his balcony across the courtyard. His music is soulful, and she finds herself singing her own lyrics to the songs.
Ridge is the guitar player across the way. He's in a band with his brother Brennan and roommate Warren, but he has writer's block for writing lyrics. When he catches Sydney singing to his songs, he's intrigued. Would she mind telling him those lyrics?
When Ridge convinces Sydney to text the lyrics, he tells her how amazing they are. And that compliment makes Sydney feel pretty good:
The words he just texted were like stairs stacked one on top of the other, and each compliment was like me running up each step until I reached the top of the damn world.
Things turn to hell when Sydney discovers her boyfriend cheating with her best friend. She moves out in a huff, only to find she has nowhere to go. Ridge invites her to stay in the empty bedroom at his place. YEAH!
Sydney learns three key facts about Ridge: 1) he's deaf, 2) he has a deep connection with his hot girlfriend, and 3) Sydney is falling in love with him. No matter what happens, Sydney doesn't want Ridge to become the cheating Hunter nor for her to become the "other woman" Tori. But what to do when the attraction is so freaking strong?
Desire is easy to fight. Especially when the only weapon desire possesses is attraction. It's not so easy when you're trying to win a war against the heart.
The heart is a constant theme in this story. Sydney's head might tell her one thing, but her heart tells her another. Since Ridge is deaf, he is more in tune with his heartbeat than the average person, and that plays an important role in his attraction to Sydney. And hearing each other's heartbeat is a deciding factor for both of them.
To fight their attraction, they try to repulse each other by sharing their flaws. Hilarious!
Me: One time in high school, I spent the night at a girl's house who I didn't know very well. We made out. I wasn't into it, and it was really gross, but I was seventeen and curious. Ridge: No. That does NOT count as a flaw, Sydney. Jesus Christ, work with me here. Me: I like the smell of puppy breath. Ridge: Better. I can't hear my own farts, so sometimes I'll forget that other people can hear them. Me: Oh, my God. Yes, this is the type of thing that definitely sheds a different light on you.
I also loved the music element of the story. Hoover returns to her roots of slam poetry by writing beautiful lyrics. I haven't heard any of Griffin Peterson's songs yet but I hope to soon. The lyrics from Where She Went were more emotional for me, but Sydney and Ridge's lyrics are still compelling and meaningful.
I thought the author deftly handled Ridge's deafness. How Sydney responds to his disability makes him fall for her more:
She understands me. She respects me. She astounds me. She predicts me. She's never once, since the second I met her, made me feel as if my inability to hear is even an inability at all.
The reason Ridge doesn't verbalize is heartbreaking, and I love the wounded male characters the author creates. Now, I have a little theory I want to share. I happened to read Ugly Love before this one, and unfortunately Ugly Love was my least favorite from this author, partly because the characters rarely speak. I wanted more of Colleen Hoover's funny, snarky, revealing dialogue! After reading Ridge's story, I kind of wonder if the author became accustomed to writing more internal and less loquacious characters? Just a thought.
Luckily, obnoxious Warren's story is releasing tomorrow as a novella, so I don't have to wait to get more Colleen Hoover, yay!...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
I don't know about your high school, but in my school it wasn't cool to be smart. The popular kids were solid "B" or "C" students whSo Sweet and Cute!
I don't know about your high school, but in my school it wasn't cool to be smart. The popular kids were solid "B" or "C" students who didn't take advanced classes. I remember lying about my test grades a time or two due to embarrassment that they set the curve.
So when I came across a Goodreads friend's review of Smart Girls Get What They Want, I was definitely intrigued. Can smart girls have boyfriends and fun social lives too?
Gigi is a 10th grader who spends all her time with her bffs Bea (who's red-headed and feisty) and Neerja (who's Indian and calm). They enjoy their somewhat nerdy obsession with getting into an Ivy League university until they run across Neerja's older sister Parad's 12th grade yearbook, which nobody has signed. Parad is brilliant but doesn't appear to have any high school friends, which appalls the three girls. Is that how they'll end up?
So they set out to create more balanced lives and run into many hijinks along the way. It all starts when Gigi and Mike Ipolito (a lacrosse player who somehow attends the same AP classes as Gigi) get accused of cheating on their AP Chemistry test. Mike claims he has secured a scholarship to Amherst (one detail that's incorrect in this book--there are no athletic scholarships to Ivy League schools) so he seems unfazed by the accusation, but Gigi freaks out that her future is ruined.
The kooky principal makes Gigi and Mike collaborate on a presentation of the Periodic Table as a means of proving their knowledge (the poor things--that sounds like an AWFUL assignment to me). At first Gigi thinks Mike is a dumb jock mooch but perhaps there's more than meets the eye for this cocky boy with brown eyes and shaggy brown hair.
Meanwhile, hottie Will moves to Boston from California, and he seems to have a thing for Gigi of all people. School plays, ski team, and dances all line up in this fun coming-of-age story.
I really enjoyed Gigi's voice. She's funny and endearing.
Parad was the type who carefully saved her tests in color-coded files. (Love her!)
It was like their parents couldn't do enough for Parad now that she'd made the Ivy League. They let her drive their new Mercedes...and never asked her to babysit the eight-year-old twins, Shiva and Shari, who we secretly nicknamed Thing One and Thing Two.
"What I'm saying," I went on, "is nothing worthwhile comes easy." I'd read that somewhere. Maybe on the back of the Pop-Tarts box "This is probably the advantage of being stupid. Stupid people just do. We tend to overthink."
Today Neerja's mom was wearing a bright pink shalwar under a kameez of purple etched in gold and matching pink. I think it is totally unfair that the rest of us don't get to wear these. I would kill to walk around all day in flowing purple and pink lounge wear.
She usually fell for the brooding artists, like Rolf the German exchange student, skinny pale guys in black leather jeans whose pain the rest of us mortals couldn't begin to fathom.
And when Gigi has an angst-ridden moment like this, I swear she lives inside my head:
I focused on the passing houses filled with couples who'd somehow survived this teenage craziness of he-like-her-but-she-likes-another-guy-who-likes-somebody-else. How did they do it? How did they end up in their golden, warm, and cozy living rooms with their 2.3 children and dogs and cats? Because getting from where I was to where they were seemed millions of light-years away.
I smiled so much at the ending that I didn't even mind the lack of realism involved in the resolution to the school budget cut crisis. This is my first read by Sarah Strohmeyer and it won't be my last....more
This story engrossed me until the last few chapters, when I thought Jocelyn's commitment issues dragged on aThis Time the Woman Has Commitment Issues
This story engrossed me until the last few chapters, when I thought Jocelyn's commitment issues dragged on a bit too long.
Jocelyn "Joss" Butler is an American living in Scotland, a recent college graduate, who seeks an apartment after her best friend and roommate moves out of town. On her way to view a posh place on Dublin Street, Joss shares a cab with a hot business man she nicknames "The Suit".
Their meeting is fantastic. I was drooling over The Suit just as much as Joss was:
Perhaps in his late twenties or early thirties, the Suit wasn't classically handsome, but there was a twinkle in his eyes and a curl to the corner of his sensual mouth that, together with the rest of the package, oozed sex appeal. I could tell from the lines of the extremely well-tailored expensive silver-gray suit that he wore, that he worked out. He sat with the ease of a fit guy, his stomach iron flat under the waistcoat and white shirt. His pale-blue eyes seemed bemused beneath their long lashes.
A strong, masculine face stared into mine--sharp jawline, a cleft chin, wide cheekbones, and a Roman nose. Dark stubble shadowed his cheeks, and his dark hair was kind of messy. Altogether, his rugged unkemptness seemed at odds with the stylish designer suit.
*fans self* He's surprised Joss doesn't ask him for his number (arrogant arse), and she dishes it right back to him. Love their banter!
All too soon the cab ride is over and Joss meets her new roommate--a friendly woman named Ellie--in the Dublin Street flat. Ellie explains that her brother built the gorgeous flat and gave it to her. When Ellie leaves for a grad school class, Joss christens her new home with a luxurious bubble bath. But whoops, she forgot to bring a towel into the bathroom. When she emerges naked into the hallway, who is there catching a glimpse?
The Suit! Oh, shit. Turns out The Suit is Ellie's older brother Braden.
Despite Braden having a bitchy girlfriend, he has his eyes on Joss. But Joss wants nothing to do with him. Or so she wants to believe.
All I could think about was Braden shirtless, with me wrapped around him like a tortilla.
Joss has a horribly sad past. Her entire family died in a car accident, and her best friend from high school died too. Poor lass has panic attacks whenever she thinks about her family. Like any trauma survivor, she's hesitant to disclose her losses, and avoids getting close to others at any cost.
Too bad she and Braden have such an intense attraction to each other.
"Braden, I don't want anything to happen between us." He raised an eyebrow, clearly unconvinced. "Tell that to your damp knickers, babe." I narrowed my eyes at him. "You are such a dick." He grinned and leaned down to brush a soft kiss across my lips. "I'll see you tomorrow."
One reason I enjoyed this book is that Joss attends therapy, and the therapy scenes seem realistic to me. I like Dr. Pritchard, and I cheered when the psychologist told Joss:
"What I'm trying to say, Joss, is perhaps you should stop being a martyr. Perhaps what is best for Braden is having you in his life."
Amen! Too bad Joss takes such a long time to realize this. But change is hard.
Any book that has a character named Corndog is my kind of read. :-D
I adored Catching Jordan so I was eager to rMiranda Kenneally Knows Sports Romance!
Any book that has a character named Corndog is my kind of read. :-D
I adored Catching Jordan so I was eager to read the story of one of Jordan's classmates, Parker Shelton. She's a high-school senior softball ace who quit the team after a scandal rocked her family life. Now bound for Vanderbilt next year, Parker is searching for an activity to fill her free time.
Parker decides to join her best friend Drew on the baseball team by becoming team manager, helping with stats and equipment. How bad can it be to hang around hot guys in uniform, right? What Parker doesn't realize is that the 23 year-old assistant coach Brian Hoffman is the hottest guy on the team. Coach Hoffman's six years older and highly inappropriate as a love match. Too bad they have an instant connection.
If that's not enough drama, there's a sweet guy Will a.k.a. "Corndog" on the team that might be into Parker. Unfortunately, Parker's bff Drew might have feelings for Will too, if Drew's gay (like Parker suspects).
Though something about the love triangle (quadrangle?) didn't quite grab me emotionally, I really enjoyed the exploration of homosexuality and the church in small-town Tennessee. Not only is Drew's sexual orientation in question, but Parker's family scandal is that her mother left her father for another woman. Parker became so traumatized that she dropped 30 pounds, leaving her at an anorexic weight. Parker's older brother--once an academic superstar--has now turned to alcohol and other drugs to deal with his emotional pain.
Members of their evangelical church have shunned the family for Parker's mother being gay, which was really sad to read. I understand some people view homosexuality as a sin, but I don't view it that way, and I became angry when Parker's classmates called her a slut simply because she kissed several guys in an effort to prove her heterosexuality. Homophobia can be rampant in settings like athletics and particular churches, leaving Parker to feel deeply alone.
Mounting evidence shows that eating disorders are a biological illness and that multiple risk factors have to be present for an eating disorder to begin. Still, it bothered me that 5'7" Parker got down to 110 pounds and didn't seem to face the horrible consequences associated with malnutrition, like low energy or food obsession.
Like in Catching Jordan, there are painfully honest journal entries by the main character and abundant teenage humor. Here Parker writes a memory about her mother:
When I was five, Mom discovered a recipe for homemade edible Play-Doh...I had dinosaur cookie cutters, so I made Play-Doh T-Rex. I bit its head off, and Mom joked, "My little praying mantis." We giggled and giggled and gorged ourselves on that Play-Doh. The next day we went to church and Mom and I kneeled at the altar. As I prayed, I didn't ask you for anything. I only thanked you for giving me Mom.
Gah! That is so sad.
I cracked up when Parker played MASH with Coach Hoffman--a game where she predicts his future in different categories of life.
"Okay, so you're going to marry Kim Kardashian and you'll go to Tokyo for your honeymoon. Then you'll live in a house at the beach and drive a submarine around."
It was also good humor when Parker's dad messes up Will's nickname:
Dad sets a hand on Will's shoulder and studies his face. "What church do you go to, Corn Fritter?"
Ba ha ha!
Overall this is a wonderful Young Adult read and I look forward to the next in the series!...more
What a clever title! And the cover is fun and catchy as well.
Seventeen year-old Chuck Taylor has some intrusive and unwanted thoughts, like "The stoveWhat a clever title! And the cover is fun and catchy as well.
Seventeen year-old Chuck Taylor has some intrusive and unwanted thoughts, like "The stove burners might have been left on...and they could burn the house down." These obsessive thoughts nag and nag at Chuck, skyrocketing his anxiety, until he executes a compulsive behavior to try to neutralize that anxiety. For example, he checks the burners to make sure they're turned off. He doesn't double-check or triple-check, he quadruple-gazillion-checks, which can last HOURS.
It's obvious Chuck suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and these rituals make it hard to live a normal teenage life. Somehow Chuck manages to do well in school and has a great friend named Steve, but when new-girl-at-school Amy asks him to tutor her in Calculus, he faces imminent disaster. He's totally crushing on her, but how can he act normal around her? If she finds out he has OCD, will she reject him?
Afraid of losing Amy, Chuck finally relents to starting therapy and the antidepressant Lexapro. He soon discovers that kicking this OCD thing is a lot harder than it looks.
This is definitely a book for the older YA crowd. Though author Aaron Karo tackles a serious subject matter, he is a comedian, and I giggled throughout the book. The first page discusses Chuck's compulsive count of his masturbation episodes.
I just began my masturbation tally again on January 1st. I don't know why I'm compelled to keep track of it. And to make matters worse, I'm already beating (no pun intended) last year's pace.
Chuck's friend Steve, who apparently looks like a pale Milhouse from The Simpsons, has the unfortunate last name of Sludgelacker. Naturally the school bully immediately nicknames him "Fudgepacker". *shakes head*
My opinion on the authenticity of therapy in this story is a mixed review. The author gets it right when Chuck's therapist uses a version of cognitive behavioral therapy (exposure and response prevention) to try to extinguish the compulsive behaviors. But it's highly unlikely that Chuck sees a psychiatrist for talk therapy--he'd more commonly see a psychologist or a master's level therapist for the talk therapy and a psychiatrist (medical doctor) for the medication. But perhaps that would've been cumbersome to the plot. I'm a bit disappointed that the therapist isn't very likable, though Chuck's description of her as a "pear...a tiny little head and the rest of her body just expands from there" did crack me up.
Dr. S. has been in a much better mood in the past few weeks since I started taking the Lexapro.
Hmm, Chuck. Is it your psychiatrist Dr. S who's changed, or is it YOU? I love books where characters go through significant transformation, and ultimately this book offers a lot of hope for change.
This is a quick, enjoyable read and I encourage you to give it a try!...more
Young Adult Sports Romance is my kind of genre, and I loved this book.
Jordan Woods is a high school senior who's captain and quarteFun Football Story!
Young Adult Sports Romance is my kind of genre, and I loved this book.
Jordan Woods is a high school senior who's captain and quarterback of the football team. When I read this premise, I was a bit skeptical. Could a girl possess the upper body strength and speed to excel at such a rough game? However, Jordan quickly won me over--she's six feet tall, the daughter of an NFL quarterback, and can zing insults with the best of her male teammates. She's crushed that her father ignores her football career (thinking she has no business playing this "man's" game), and her rocky college recruiting process seems realistic to me.
Jordan, or "Woods" as her teammates call her, is just like one of the guys. She's grown up with wide receiver Sam Henry, a tall lanky goofball with blond curly hair constantly falling in his face. Their friendship is funny and cute. Henry's family is poor, and Henry often eats dinner with the Woods then sleeps in Jordan's bed, with his feet by her head. It's a purely platonic relationship, or so Jordan thinks.
The funniest part of the story is when Jordan and Henry have to take care of an electronic baby for a week as a Home Ec assignment.
"Okay," Mrs. Bonner says. "Now that we all have partners, all husbands should come pick up their babies." I stand up and stretch my arms. Henry also stands. "No way, dude," I say. "I'm the man in the relationship." "Oh yeah, absolutely," he says, grinning. The doll has these creepy glass eyes that look like they're staring straight into my soul. I hold the doll out in front of me like it's a flaming bag of poo and carry it back to Henry. "Congratulations, Mommy," I say, dropping the doll into his hands. "You could've told me I knocked you up." "My bad. I thought you'd force me to get an abortion," Henry replies. "He has your eyes, Woods." "And your hair." The doll is bald. "Can we name him Joe Montana?" "Hells no, his name is Jerry Rice." "No, his name is Joe Montana." "I was in labor with him for fourteen hours!" Henry exclaims as he rocks the baby back and forth. "His name is Jerry Rice." I grin. "Fine."
Jordan's at practice one day, dreaming of her future as the starting quarterback for Alabama, when Tyler Green walks in. After a family tragedy, Texas star quarterback Ty had to move to Tennessee and now he's a part of Jordan's team. But the potential competition for her spot isn't what distracts Jordan. She thinks Ty's smokin' hot. He's tall, muscular, talented, with just the right mix of cockiness and vulnerability. Can Jordan pursue her dreams despite falling for the boy who might take over her starting role?
Here Ty watches a college football player come on to Jordan:
"That's Jake Reynolds?" Ty says, turning to stare. His eyes are opened so wide, he looks like one of those poison dart frogs. "Holy shit. He's so awesome." I laugh. "Trust me, he's not." "Seems like he likes you. Don't you want to date a first-rounder?" "Excuse me while I go vomit." "So you're not interested in him?" Ty asks, smiling. "Hells no. I'd rather date O.J. Simpson." Ty laughs. "I'm glad to hear that...I think."
It's great to see parents who are kind and involved. Jordan's mother tried to help her deal with her feelings:
For my seventeenth birthday, she bought me this lame journal. "Jordan," she said, "writing allows me to blah, blah, blah, think deeply about karma, blah, blah, blah, and helps me figure out my problems." Mom should get a job creating lame-ass mantras for the bottoms of juice-bottle lids.
This is one example of many where the author nails the teenage voice. Jordan finds that journaling actually does help (I hate when moms are always right) and her poetry adds a nice touch to the story.
I actually enjoyed the love triangle, though the story seemed to sag a bit as Jordan was working out her true feelings. The ending is satisfying and fun.
Fans of romance, sports, and YA will love Catching Jordan! ...more