When seventeen-year-old Veronica Montez and her best friend Lia discover their favorite hangout’s about to go bankrupt, they put together a benefit concert to try and rescue the grungy Laundromat-slash-rock venue. All they need’s a guitarist to round out their new punk band so they can headline the show. Enter Lia’s virtuoso brother, Jake, who unexpectedly drops out of college and returns home just in time to fill the bill.
Veronica soon bonds with gifted but temperamental Jake over their affinity for gory horror flicks and discovers he’s as ambivalent about his future as she is. Talk about terrifying. If someone as smart and talented as Jake can’t figure out his life, what hope does Veronica have? Really Liking Jake scares her, too, though she can’t decide if she’s more afraid he won’t like her back or that he will. Something tells her he'd be interested in more than just hooking up, and while fake blood and guts and machete-wielding movie maniacs don’t faze her, the thought of risking her heart in a real relationship sends chills up Veronica’s spine.
Elizabeth Myles is a graduate of Lone Star College-Tomball and the University of Houston. Her prize-winning short fiction appeared several times in Inkling: the Creative Arts Magazine of LSC-Tomball, and her novel, Fear and Laundry, received a notable entry honor in the teen category of Shelf Unbound Magazine's Writing Competition for Best Independently Published Book. Shelf Unbound subsequently included Fear and Laundry in a special contest issue spotlighting the work of “some of today’s best indie authors.”
Elizabeth and her handsome husband, Steve, live and run together in Texas, where Elizabeth also spends her non-writing time reading, cooking and baking, listening to Nine Inch Nails, watching sci-fi and horror movies, episodes of Supernatural, and The X-Files. She loves hearing from readers, so feel free to contact her at elizabeth(at)mylesandmyles.info and connect with her at elizabethmyles.com.
In 1994, I was seven years old. Admittedly, I don’t really remember much except for playing a lot of old-school Sega, quoting back lines from The Simpsons when the seasons were still memorable and my school winning a competition to go see The Secret Garden. In Elizabeth Myles’ Fear and Laundry, you really feel as if you’ve been transported all the way back there.
Living in Carreen in small town Texas, 17 year old Veronica Montez is rather subdued compared to her best friend and partner in crime, the brash Lia Mlinirich, who is behind the fight to keep the doors open to popular indie music venue Lynch’s alive after falling behind on payments while trying to lure back local superstar Clyde Kameron in time for the show. In the meantime, when Lia’s brother Jake suddenly comes home on a whim a week or so before the new semester starts at med school, it opens up a whole can of curiosity for the town of Carreen and a slot in his sister’s band, much to her distaste. It also causes sparks to fly between Veronica and Jake in a way she doesn’t want to admit. But the more she keeps fighting it…
And so awkwardness, hilarity, mid-90s nostalgia and rock show beatdowns ensue, as you do.
Myles applies a great sense of voice to Veronica, free-flowing and natural as she captures the teenage voice incredibly well, even if it was a little peculiar the way Myles has Veronica mostly recounting dialogue with other characters rather than speaking the words from their own mouths. Despite this, it’s easy enough to get lost in 1994 with Myles building a recognisable world without dating itself as it definitely feels nostalgic more than anything. She also manages to showcase her knowledge of music and horror movies, giving the music scene of Careen a community feel as everyone comes together to support Lynch’s, as well as examining both the negatives and positives of small town life without resorting to clichés (which I’m pleased with as someone who comes from a small town).
Myles has pulled off a great feat with Fear and Laundry with her immensely likeable characters that get called out on their bullshit and it sticks. In a YA landscape where some teenage girls are heaped with Sueish traits of lolclumsy and trying to convince readers that they truly are plain Janes all while everyone within a one kilometre radius is fawning over them and really are blessed with beauty after all, Myles provides a realistic view of the teen girl who experiences the usual spate of teenage angst and heart fails. She doesn’t shy away from showing us that Veronica isn’t perfect as she tries to test authority figures and gets caught up in her own selfishness at times, as well as letting her jealousy rear its ugly head as she confronts the fact that she isn’t the only girl hung up on Jake. However, Veronica is also more the introvert, more readily fading into the background, as well as a loyal friend to Lia and letting her get away with more than she deserves.
Veronica’s teenage ennui is one many can relate to as she feels adrift in her senior year of high school, unwilling to put herself out there too much in comparison to the driven Lia and wondering just what she wants out of life but holding herself back. Fortunately, Veronica is eventually scared straight after
Lia, meanwhile, provides a lot of the comic relief in Fear and Laundry with her high-strung hysterics and insane pursuit for perfection when it comes to organising the benefit concert to save Lynch’s and putting together her beloved zine, Blank Fiction, as well as battling for the scoop on her beloved Clyde. Lia can also have her softer moments as well, especially when it comes to realising her idol Clyde Kameron is nothing like the ideal she has created of him and slowly has to come out of her delusion, as well as
Lia and Veronica may seem like chalk and cheese personality-wise, but Myles has crafted an authentic friendship between these two with their ups and downs and willingness to have each other’s backs where it counts, even when you know Veronica should stand up for herself more when she ends up tagging along on one of Lia’s insane schemes. A true friendship between girls is sorely lacking in YA novels nowadays where female friendship seems to come off as artificial at best and too many instances of the female lead always ready to lay into her supposed best friend as soon as her back is turned or vice versa.
Lia’s rock rival Eugenia Ripley and Veronica’s creep of an ex Dustin Tran also round out a great cast of characters, especially when Ripley and Lia’s petty feud for the Clyde Kameron exclusive comes to a head at the Impressionable Youth inaugural gig. Fellow Impressionable Youth bandmate, Paige, on the other hand, although she makes an impact as both foil and friend to Veronica and does stir the pot quite often as Veronica tries to make sense of her affection for Jake, it’s still somewhat sad to see her
Oh, and in this book the male lead actually proceeds to treat the girl he likes with respect. Honestly, it’s pretty sad that I feel kind of giddy when a writer manages to create a decent romantic male lead that doesn’t treat the object of his affection indeed like an object to possess and control and slowly strip her of her autonomy. Face it, Edward Cullen ruined a generation of male romantic leads and writers somehow have to start picking up the pieces.
The chemistry between Veronica and Jake is adorably awkward and sweet as it’s pretty easy to tell Jake is sweet on her, while Veronica is scared shitless at contemplating her feelings as other guys have served to break her heart before. Some of their best scenes together were definitely with Jake driving Veronica to school, with their introspective conversation only making the tension more palpable. Through their shared love of music and horror films, Jake and Veronica provide a space for one another as the both of them seem to be drifting aimlessly and wondering just what could possibly come next.
Hell, which is great to see in a YA novel with relationships treated so maturely without resorting to forcing affection onto another or deluding oneself into believing obsession equals ‘love.’
The music element of Fear and Laundry is its major draw and what attracted me to it in the first place as music lovers will enjoy the descriptions of Lynch’s and the punk rock performances, able to understand the exhilaration and sheer adrenaline that comes with being lost in the crowd at a gig and just how powerful and dangerous it can be. Myles’ story also kind of reminded me somewhat of another of my 90s favourites Daria with both Daria and Veronica being deadpan snarkers with an introverted nature and having a hopeless crush on their respective best friends’ brothers who just happen to play in their own bands, and this aspect only made me more excited to read the book. It kind of makes me curious whether Myles has ever seen the show or not as the book really matches its Generation X disillusionment and dry brand of humour.
I think many can also relate to the older bloke crush or crush on someone's brother, as well as the stone cold fact that there’s just something incredibly attractive about musicians I’ve never been able to resist and someone singing with a guitar’s practically an aphrodisiac… It’s been proven, you can’t argue with science.
Fear and Laundry was a fantastic read. I highly anticipate the sequel if this sneak peek from Myles’ blog is anything to go by and I’m very confident for the future of indie publishing if more talent like Myles continue to produce quality stories like this.
At the risk of sounding dismissive of self-published e-books, this was a lot better than I expected. It’s not the best new book I’ve read in a while, but it was a lot of fun to read. (Again, I don’t want to be dismissive of all self-pubbed e-books, but my track record with them so far hasn’t been the greatest.)
I had fun reading this. It’s a very light and easy read, so it was good to pick up while I was in-between books. Veronica’s not the most engaging character, she’s pushed around by Lia and the novel’s circumstances, but she felt like a real teen girl who wasn’t particularly good at anything. I do wish that she would have been fleshed out a little more—we get that Veronica plays the drums, but she’s not really into them; she likes horror movies; and she’s constantly late and not a good student. But we never get the full details about what makes those things Veronica. She doesn’t feel bland enough that she could be anyone reading this book, but I could have used more of her. I did like the fact that Veronica does take charge of her life and starts to develop better habits for herself, which is a nice change.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Lia, though—she feels like a lot of the best friends that I’ve read in YA, as she’s more outgoing and pushes Veronica around. If there were more facets to their relationship, I think I would have liked her better. A big part of the problem is that of almost all the other friends Veronica has, Lia’s the one with the most screentime and her opinion rules all. I would have really liked to have seen a deeper level to Paige, who only seems to exist as the ‘other’ girl Veronica will have to fight for Jake’s attention, and Melina’s only purpose is cause a rift between lower-class Veronica and her upper-class potential boyfriend Alex.
As for the romance, that was another aspect I think that could have been developed a little more. I do like that Veronica does date other guys and doesn’t exactly paint them as evil or inferior to Jake. However, her attraction to Jake feels really undeveloped. On the one hand, I liked that she has a reaction of “OMG, I like him but I can’t tell him, how do I tell him?” which felt really realistic. On the other, I just didn’t see Jake’s appeal; it felt like he was the standard YA love interest.
The main/suplot about saving local hangout Lynch’s and Lia trying to get an interview from local Rock God Clyde Kameron actually took an interesting turn and resolution. While I don’t think the girls would have gotten away with as much as they did in the plot, the resolution and ending felt closer to the reality of the situation, and as much as I was expecting the last minute save and getting all of the money, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it wasn’t the case. I was disappointed, but I liked that there wasn’t a deus ex machine appearance of money.
If there’s one thing that I really liked about the book, it’s not dated. The heading explicitly state that the book takes place in the early fall of 1994, but aside from mentions of VCRs and no cell phones, the book doesn’t feel that dated. I also liked the emphasis on the local music scene and ‘zine culture Lia and Veronica take part in. While these elements could have dated the book more, they’re handled admirably, and they give more of a sense to the DIY culture of the early-mid 90s punk scene.
Read now, no. But for the amount I paid for it, it wasn’t that bad, and it’s an enjoyable read.
I'm going to try something different format wise for this review. Hopefully it will help me keep everything more organized.
First Thoughts: I'll be honest, the whole reason I enter the giveaway for this book was because I liked the title and the cover. That said I must add that I was pretty excited to read it as well. According to the back synopsis it's about a senior in high school trying to figure out what to do after graduation which is something that I've been really into lately (hmm, wonder if it has anything to do with really life).
Characters: The cast of characters wasn't something that hasn't been done before but Elizabeth Myles didn't let that get in her way. In my mind characters can really make or break a book, especially one like Fear and Laundry, and these characters defiantly made the book. While I did enjoy the characters as they were I have to say that there were times where I wished Myles had brought them to life a little more.
Writing Style: For me this was the biggest weakness in this book, more specifically the dialogue. Most of the dialogue was in these sort of summarized chunks that made the story slip into more of a telling than a showy style. Honestly I was so frustrated with the dialogue that I didn't really take notice of anything else regarding writing style.
Plot/Pacing: I need to point out that this book was in three parts and then and epilogue. At the beginning of each part Myles informs you of the dates that the part covers. This wouldn't have been so bad if it were just the day and month but the year was also included which frustrated me. I spent most of the book trying to figure out why it must be so important for the story to be set in 1994 and didn't get an answer. It just didn't seem relevant to the plot. Aside from that the parts really helped advance the plot of the story though at the beginning of each plot there was a bit of summarizing to get through. As far as the basic plot I felt a bit let down that I didn't get to really experience much of what the back synopsis promised about her worrying about life after graduation but the other promised parts were all there.
Final Thoughts: This proved to be a lighter read for music lovers. While I was let down when it came to some of the things that I was expecting I did enjoy it. I wouldn't call this book my cup of tea but I'm sure there are others out there that could consider it theirs.
The writing was a bit difficult at first—it was different then other contemporary styles—it was a mixture of someone telling a story along with actual dialogues. I wasn't liking it at first but it was actually quite good and new for me.
This was good but I think I liked The Real You more. There is a sequel which I will be reading but it is from Veronica's pov as well so I dunno a bit wary about that.
The story revolves around Veronica and her bestfriend's and/or band members tying to help their favorite hangout's closing to not happen. Struggling with school and realizing her interest in her bestfriends's brother are all part of the normal agenda. It features all the angst of living in a small town and being in awe of someone who did leave their town and made it big as superstars. Also Veronica runs the zine with Lia and they are trying to score an interview for it. And Lia's brother, Jake was really so different and sweet. Oh, also, this is based in 1994 and I was four years old at that time lol. So some of you might get references.
This review is a mess. Sorry. But this was okay for me. Yeah.
I'm taking a break from my "1001 books to read before you die" list in order to read a bit more of what I call "comfort" reading. Comfort reading, in my own definition, is lighter books that allow me a chance to escape from every day stresses. Since this is my last night of winter break and I take a big exam that will decide my fate in 6 days, any spare time has been dedicated to any comforts I can get.
I first read Fear and Laundry back in 2012 and I loved it. Mostly because I grew up during the 90s and I like to believe that I'm still there. My wardrobe consists of lots of grungy baby doll dresses and band shirts. Anyway, I still enjoyed it, but I lowered it down to 3 stars after giving it a second read.
I liked the fact that it was a fast read, but the chapters were a little too short for me at times. The version I read was the upgraded version. But the version I read in 2012 didn't seem as choppy. However, my memory could be fuzzy.
The resolution to the Clyde chaos seemed too light and unrealistic. I found it hard to believe with Clyde acting the way he did that he would go back and thank anyone. The fate of Lynch's was very believable, even though I was sad to see it.
I loved Veronica's character development and I really related to her. Her relationship with Jake built gradually and it was very realistic. I loved the scene where she falls asleep with him while watching horror movies. That is a fantasy of mine.
All in all, very imaginative, cool, and a great comfort book. Can't wait to see what Fear and Laundry 2 has in store.
Elizabeth Myles, author of Fear and Laundry, took me back to 1994, and made me long to hang out at Lynch’s, the local Laundromat, rock venue and food joint.
Fear and Laundry was a creative and charming read that cost only $0.99 on Amazon Kindle.
My only big critique is about the writing style/tense. I am not sure what exactly it was (I keep trying to pinpoint it), but the writing style/tense made the story hard to follow. It just didn’t flow for me and this kept me removed from the story. I felt like I watched the story but I wasn’t a part of it. And there were quite a few times where I had to go back and re-read a sentence to stay with the story. Other than that though, Fear and Laundry was a really entertaining book.
I gave Fear & Laundry by Elizabeth Myles 3 STARS. Overall it was a really happy, charming story. I would recommend reading this book when your to-read list thins out.
Lia and Veronica are two best friends who are trying to keep their favorite hangout from closing down by organizing a benefit concert. Veronica is a senior in high school who is not sure about what she wants to do with the rest of her life while trying to play in her best friend’s band and dealing with high school. The book is set in the summer/fall of 1994 before the Internet and cell phones became widespread. Lia’s brother Jake is also home from college as well where he was the child prodigy. Veronica feels better when Jake does not know what to do with his life as well. The book takes an interesting book at high school in the early nineties where there are some things that do not change such as rivalries.
Fear and Laundry is really kind of cute, though doesn't really require much heavy lifting, mentally. In a nutshell: Music lovin', zine makin' teens form band and put on benefit to save the community laundromat/performance space. Has light romance, mixed signals, a "Curt Kobain-type", etc.
I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway and I absolutely loved it. The characters were very believable and felt like my best friends. I enjoyed the story and all of the surprises that came along with it. I can't wait for more books by Elizabeth Myles!!