The Fakest Romance Novel You’ll Ever Read

I recently read The Actor and the Housewife, by Shannon Hale, and it’s kind of hilarious. Not usually when it’s intended to be, but still, I had plenty of giggles.

actor and housewife

When I read the blurb on the inside cover, I immediately thought to myself: Hm, this sounds like at least half of the stories on Wattpad. I was right. This is the story of a plain, overweight Mormon housewife who keeps coincidentally crossing paths with the hunkiest hunky-hunk Hollywood hearthrob, and then they become BFFs!

In my mind, he looks like this. Particularly since his initials are F.C. and he's British. #ontoyouHale

In my mind, he looks like this. Particularly since his initials are F.C. and he’s British. #ontoyouHale

She ends up writing a rom-com (oh, yeah, she’s a screenwriter when she, you know, is bored b/c the kids aren’t around wrecking the house), which sells, and then she stars in it with her BFF Felix.

You guys, I'm not even joking.

You guys, I’m not even joking.

They both go through a tough time, and then Felix’s wife leaves him and Becky’s husband dies (remind you of another novel I’ve reviewed?), and then, THEN, Becky’s oldest child Fiona explains that God introduced Felix into Becky’s life so she could still get laid when God decided to rip the love of her life out of her life prematurely:

What if God knew that? What if he arranged for you and Felix to meet all those years ago, so that you’d be best friends, so that he’d be here for you after Dad’s death, and its be too late for you to shut him out? So that you could have someone to be with now, so that you could keep feeling lovedso that you don’t have to be lonely. I think that’s something God would do.

Hale, Shannon. The Actor and the Housewife. New York: Bloomsbury, 2009. 307 [emphasis added]

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHAHAHAHAHA *giggle* *snort* *chortle* Why don’t you recommend mom get a bikini wax while you’re at it, Fiona? I bet Felix isn’t used to hair down there.

bikini wax interesting

The grammar and writing is generally a tad better than the majority of what you see on Wattpad, although the ending is either going to cause you to feel relieved or disappointed, depending on the kind of reader you are.

reader

I recommend this if you’re looking for a frothy beach read. It’s enjoyable enough. You might want to get it from the library, or via cheap e-book deal if that’s available, because I don’t know if you’re likely to want to read it again.

Try not to incur library fees; it's not really worth it.

Try not to incur library fees; it’s not really worth it.

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Dreams & Demons & Other Normal Teen Nonsense

Sappy movies based on fairy tales tell us that our dreams really can come true, if we are very good little boys and girls, and we want them badly enough. But what if you wanted your dreams badly enough to summon a demon? This idea provides the backdrop for Kerstin Gier’s Dream a Little Dream, the first book of the Silver Trilogy.

Personally, I think this is a terrible cover. & why are you showing me the protagonist's face? That's what I have this little thing called "imagination" for...

Personally, I think this is a terrible cover. & why are you showing me the protagonist’s face? That’s what I have this little thing called “imagination” for…

Olivia and her sister are constantly having to move for their somewhat selfish mother, a traveling professor, whose most recent gig is at Oxford. Arriving from the airport to discover their mother has been getting bizz-ay (bom chicka wow-wow) in their absence with an older, balding gentleman, while they’ve been in Switzerland enjoying stinky cheeses with their dad, Olivia and Mia are, to say the least, not happy about it. The book reads quickly and easily, but it’s just a bit bland. Bland The storyline’s actually not that bad. Liv moves to London, and meets a group of super hot upperclassmen who are just normal popular guys. You know, good at basketball, flirting/teasing/ignoring all the girls, and, oh yeah, getting drunk and summoning demons. You know, just boring, normal activities that teenage boys engage in.

...no big thing

…no big thing

Protagonist Liv is really annoying. Although she’s supposed to be a teenager, she often talks like a middle-aged woman. She fits in well with this demon circle because she can access this funky dream hallway and she’s never held hands with a boy, much less had sex with him.

Briefly seen in this other cover version, which I like much better, and hope they use.

The dream hallway: briefly seen in this other cover version, which I like much better, and hope they use.

The virginal aspect, while a common theme in at least literary demonic rites (I’ll be honest, I’m not very knowledgeable about real ones), also really annoyed me. I don’t have a problem with a girl waiting to have sex, but I also don’t have a problem with a girl having sex. This aspect of the book felt a bit slut-shaming to me, which I did not appreciate. Our protagonist is not a “good” girl because she’s never been kissed before; she’s a girl who still pretends boys have cooties. Again, this is fine, it just doesn’t make her a better person than a girl who likes to go on dates and kiss her lipstick off.

Not advocating changing for a guy; just saying that both Sandys are equally lovely.

Not advocating changing for a guy; just saying that both Sandys are equally lovely.

The book picks up in the last twenty pages or so, ending on a cliffhanger that can be seen from a mile away, but resolving the main mystery rather nicely (except for further madonna-whore complex bullshit). The entire book, the protagonist has been fighting the idea of the existence of demons while simultaneously being able to invade the dreams of others via the dream hallway, so how do we reconcile this? Well, it’s not entirely reconciled, because this is a series, after all, and Gier has to keep you reading. Still, the ending was a bit above the rest of the book.

cliffhanger

On my arbitrary scale of book ratings, I give this book: melted ice cream. It’s okay, and I’ll still read it, but it’s not as delicious and far more messy than I would prefer.

Meh. It's okay.

Meh. It’s okay.

Psychological Thrilla, Not Plain Vanilla – You Should Read This Book

I just read the review copy I have of How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman (fairly late, since the book was released in October 2013), and my initial reaction? Wow. A very good wow.

good wifeHow to be a Good Wife is the title of a nonfiction book Marta was gifted by her mother-in-law on her wedding day. She has lived by the directions in this book for years, and knows every word by heart. But lately, Marta’s not as happy in her marriage as she was at the beginning.

Or was she ever happy in her marriage?

You see, Marta’s been seeing things.

Her husband claims she hallucinates without her pills, and she hasn’t been taking her pills. With her son grown, at his own apartment relatively far away, it’s only Marta and her husband Hector in the house now. & Marta is ready to see what happens when she does not take her pills…

This book was great. I devoured it; if I wasn’t so set on actually passing the courses I’m taking this semester, I might not have stopped reading to come up for air. I like books with unreliable narrators. Can I believe what I’m being told? How objective are the other people interacting with the narrator?

I know what my opinion is of the veracity of Marta’s conclusion about her marriage, but one of the best things about this book is that it could be interpreted in many different ways. Or at least, in two.

I don’t want to give too much detail regarding the book, but I will say I really, really enjoyed it. 4.5 out of 5 stars – and the loss of half a star is really simply because I don’t think I will read it again.

Chapman has a spare style of prose, which I found delightful. I like prose that sparkles in its’ simplicity, that feels like stepping on fresh, crisp snow. This book talked about potential insanity in a way that was easily comprehended, which is a very difficult thing to do. This novel is Chapman’s debut, and it was a great first book. I will definitely be on the lookout for any future work of hers that is released.

You should read this book.

Please, recommend a book you have enjoyed in the comments below!

Please, recommend a book you have enjoyed in the comments below!

Chewing Gumm You Don’t Need to Spit Out

Although you won’t necessarily remember it, either.

#memorable?

#memorable?

Daisy Gumm (whose real last name is Majesty, but there’s a pretty strong indication that she thinks as favorably of her married name as she does of the paralyzed veteran who can’t give her children that comprises her husband) is a psychic.

ouija

And by psychic, I mean con artist, who will take your money and move the planchette on a ouija board or favorably read you tarot cards if you’re a gullible person with too much money and too little sense.

money

You know who I’m talking about.

Unfortunately for Daisy, who works hard but really wants to just stay at home and be a housewife to the perpetually cranky man she vaguely remembers having loved before he became wheelchair-bound, there is mischief afoot at the house of one of her more prominent clients, the Kincaids.

#mischief

#mischief

What happened to Mr. Kincaid, the lecherous man who traps housemaids with his wheelchair (yes, there are two wheelchair bound men in this novel)? Is he dead? Did he steal money from the family business and disappear?

There is an answer, although the point of Strong Spirits is really more about evoking the period style of the twenties.

Oh yeah, I've been talking about this book the entire time.

Oh yeah, I’ve been talking about this book the entire time.

Strong Spirits kept my attention. Daisy is a spunky character who doesn’t know her own mind, and a discerning reader will likely see where this story is heading, but the book is worth a read. The book feels a bit frivolous. Daisy is meant to be characteristic of her time period, and therefore, is fairly judgey. And this is not a mystery.

I know, Sherlock. I was disappointed, too.

I know, Sherlock. I was disappointed, too.

However, if you’re looking for an enjoyable read that doesn’t require much mental capacity, and which you will likely forget soon after reading, Strong Spirits is for you.

What is this thing you call "memory?"

What is this thing you call “memory?”

On my indeterminate scale of book scores, Strong Spirits rates 2 out of 13 ghosts.

Cute ghosts, at that.

Cute ghosts, at that.

Elephants, meet Nessie

I recently received and read a copy of Sara Gruen’s At the Water’s Edge. Here’s the pretty cover:

waters edge

Gruen is the author of Water for Elephants, a book I haven’t read, but inspired a movie with one of the most terrible lines I’ve ever heard:

"You're a beautiful woman; you deserve a beautiful life." #whataboutthenormalsandtheuglies

“You’re a beautiful woman; you deserve a beautiful life.” #whataboutthenormalsandtheuglies

I read At the Water’s Edge immediately after my finals ended, and it was the perfect book at that time. I think, in general, the book is fairly enjoyable. But it was particularly nice to read a novel that didn’t make me think too much, but that wasn’t completely stupid or ill written, either. I would recommend it as a beach read.

The novel revolves around the character Maddie, the wife of socialite Ellis who gets dragged to Scotland with her husband and his friend Hank during WWII. Ellis and Hank can’t fight in WWII, because the former is color blind, and the latter is flat footed; looking fairly physically capable, however, the two are often subjected to derision, which they generally handle via getting drunk, until they decide to handle it via traveling to Scotland and finding proof that the Loch Ness monster exists.

#logic

#logic

In Scotland, Maddie discovers herself, faces the reality of the man she married, falls in love, and becomes immersed in Scottish supernatural lore.

A fairly good read, and one that I would recommend to most people. On my completely biased scale for books, At the Water’s Edge rates one ghostly castle on the Scottish highlands.

#readit

#readit

Holy Shit, Y’All

On a terrible impulse, I purchased Tumbleweeds, by Leila Meacham, from the Barnes & Noble bargain section. And on an even more terrible binge-read, I actually finished the book. It looks like this:

tumble

Tumbleweeds is the long, rambling saga of three best friends, who meet around the tender age of 11, and form the inevitable love triangle. Except that only one character is likable. And he ends up becoming a priest, which means he doesn’t even get sexy times.

Even these ladies thought the punishment a bit exorbitant.

Even these ladies thought the punishment a bit exorbitant.

Tumbleweeds reminds me of the YA sagas I used to read, particularly the Sweet Valley High editions that gave a delicious, soapy, long history of a family within the Sweet Valley world in an attempt to cash in on the already wild imaginations of teenagers and supposedly give background and greater meaning to characters with whom those teenagers were already acquainted.

As a preteen, I read a lot of stupid shit.

As a preteen, I read a lot of stupid shit.

I don’t ordinarily read family sagas, because they’re generally not my cup of tea. I like salacious gossip regarding real and imaginary people as much as the next gal, but there is often an element of authenticity that is necessary but missing from the saga novels. So instead of feeling connected to the characters, I generally feel like I’m just wading through scenes to get to the sex, much like a romance novel.

engorged

There is nothing wrong with liking the predictability and steaminess of the romance novel, I’m just not much of a romance reader. Although, of course, a well written book is a well written book.

Unfortunately, Tumbleweeds is not a well written book. It’s a romance novel, replete with the predictable plot lines, but with hardly any sex.

omg

If you like the predictability of a romance novel, but are not a fan of the sexy scenes, you might want to pick up Tumbleweeds. Otherwise, I suggest passing up this novel in lieu of other fare. Even as fluffy beach reads go, there are so many better novels out there.

PassLogoOn my indeterminate scale for rating novels, Tumbleweeds earns the status of a used bandaid. #notafan

Ew.

Ew.

Book Review: Jane and the 12 Days of Christmas

Once upon a time, there lived a woman named Jane

who wrote novels that caused her warranted fame,

now she probably lies in her grave with unrest

because she stars in books that can be a shitfest,

and one of those novels is this:

20600462https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20600462-jane-and-the-twelve-days-of-christmas

So I received a free copy of Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which is awesome, but the book itself is not one I recommend.

It’s pretty terrible – a “mystery” that doesn’t really contain much, you know, mystery.

It stars Jane Austen as a novel-writer/detective who just happens to stumble across murder all the time (this is the twelfth book in the mystery series). In this case, it is Christmas-time, and Jane is being snarky as she visits her relatives & visits old family friends in their nice house.

The whole book revolves around the concepts of legitimacy and honor, which could, to be fair, be interesting topics, but which are not in this particular novel.

Jane comes across as someone who is not fun to be around, and the insinuation is made that she derives the plot of Persuasion from the occurrences in this novel. Jane is noticeably judgmental, including being disdainful for the voiced opinions of a woman whose poverty Jane, herself, seems to have no conception of, and including negativity towards the parenting style of her brother and his wife which seemingly could be partially derived from the fact that Jane, herself, has never born children herself.

Oh, there’s also some romance that is hinted at, for no apparent reason whatsoever.

So… I don’t recommend reading this one. Unless you devour absolutely everything Jane Austen related, regardless of the virtue of its’ content, or you have been reading this series and really need to know what happens next.