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.

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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.

Mrs. Poe probably says “Hell no, don’t read this book”

Probably not even from the grave. It would be fitting for E. Allen Poe’s wife to be a zombie. Desperately craving peaceful rest, but her mind cackles evil-ly and tells her “Never more.” Like an insomniac, but, you know, rotting.

So, yes, I recently read Mrs. Poe, and no, I didn’t like it. Here’s the cover, so you know what to avoid.

Avoid.

Avoid.

Mrs. Poe is not an evil book. It’s not a particularly well written book, but it’s also not particularly poorly written. Instead, it is even worse: It is BORING.

The writer took some interesting concepts – Edgar Allen Poe, appearance vs. reality, imagination vs. reality (done so, so, so, so, so much better in Northanger Abbey. Like – SO  much better. Read that instead. #unbiased), writing – and mushed them together in a very, to me, unappealing way. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I doubt it.

*eyes shifting right & left* No, this is not my favorite Austen book. #ZOMGittotallyis

*eyes shifting right & left* No, this is not my favorite Austen book. #ZOMGittotallyis

So what, exactly, did the Twilight-vampire-named authoress do wrong?

I probably don’t remember everything I disliked about this book. I tend to block out bland, unpleasant memories. But here are a few of them:

  • The narrator is particularly unlikable. Of course, this isn’t always a dealbreaker. Lolita is an amazing book, and if you’re sympathizing with Humbert Humbert, you’re reading it wrong. But I think that the author wanted us to like the narrator (some poet, I forget her name, and honestly, am too lazy to look it up). She is supposedly drop-dead gorgeous (which is fine, I usually prefer to think about handsome people, but will pull this up as a fault if the character annoys me), vain and proud about her poetry (which, frankly, doesn’t strike me as very good), angry that her husband left her for other women (with more money; of course he left you, honey #chaching), lusting after another woman’s husband (hypocrite; also, ew), not spending enough time with her children (which probably wasn’t that uncommon amongst the gentle classes during the time period specified, but still pi$$ed me off), and cannot make up her freakin’ mind. What are you, a thirteen year old? Stop being so indecisive; make up your mind, and stick to it. Making up your mind, only to change it the second some guy in tight pants walks by is not going to make me like you.
  • The unlikable narrator is always going on and on about how sexy Mr. Poe is. Um…ew. Have you seen pictures of E. Allen Poe? Who is attracted to that? Like, seriously.
He's sexy and he knows it? #wait...what

He’s sexy and he knows it? #wait…what

Now, for a moment, I thought it was possible the authoress was going to redeem herself. I thought maybe the narrator was supposed to be unstable, rather than unintelligent, as well as too naive to see what was going on in front of her. I probably shouldn’t explain how I thought this might happen, but I think I’m going to anyway:

MY THOUGHTS that would have completely changed the way this book is read, and also appealed about a million times more to my gothic sensibilities:

E. Allen Poe is a sadistic asshole who can’t even really write. His famous stories, “The Raven” poem, etc., are actually written by his dying wife. Now that his consumptive wife is dying, he’s on the prowl to seduce another “good” writer, whose works he plans to sell as his own. Possibly, in addition, killing this writer after he reaps the literary goods she has sown. (If you have read the book, don’t you agree, this ending would have made the book so much more fun?)

ANYWAY, continuing my list:

  • The protagonist (ew) is frightened of this woman whose husband she is trying to steal. Um, hello? Has anyone seen Fatal Attraction? I think we all agree the protagonist and her “sexy” (#vomit) lover deserve a little torture. Particularly when…
  • Mrs. Poe is dying. DYING. Of consumption. And all her husband and this boring poetess can do is make googly eyes at each other while she withers away? Um, no. Not cool, guys.

Well, I’ve reminded myself of why I don’t like this book. Maybe you will, maybe I’m missing something wonderful about this book. But if so, I genuinely didn’t see it, and so I can’t recommend this book to anyone. Oh, also, I received it as an ARC; thank goodness I didn’t pay for it. *shudder*

& on that dark & stormy note, I bid you adieu. Also - ravens.

& on that dark & stormy note, I bid you adieu. Also – ravens.

Wow.

I really don’t think there is another word that captures my feeling while reading The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club, which is supposed to be a mystery, but by the time the book gets around to the “who? what? where?” questions, you don’t really care, anymore.

I have a feeling this book was self-published, particularly because of the formatting. The author switches viewpoints between characters a lot, but there wasn’t even a paragraph break in the text when this happens, which is both disconcerting and annoying. Also, while I understand why the author switched viewpoints so often, it was not written particularly well.

So – Gordonston is an area in the city of Savannah, Georgia. This fact is completely wasted in this novel, however. If you have been to Savannah, you know that it is a beautiful city, with a lot of different aspects. This book focused on one area of Savannah, but did not really have much discussion of the landscape of the city. There were vague descriptions of a park that everyone takes their dog to, and a couple of mentions of the heat.

oblivious

If you have not been to Savannah, I recommend that you read Midnight in the Garden of Good and EvilMidnight… is such a good book, and does a great job of revealing the feeling of the Georgian city. Reading Midnight… is what made me want to visit the city, which I did after receiving my Bachelor’s Degree. (I highly recommend a visit to the Mercer house, which the Gordonston… book at least mentioned.)

"The Book"

“The Book”

The author tries to make the book interesting by creating “zany” characters. And these characters are pretty screwed up. [Warning: Spoilers are about to follow. Read at your own peril of being annoyed that you already know shit about this book.]

  • There’s the “gorgeous” chick who arranges for a vacation in Paris with the husband she has been dating since high school, without realizing he has a passport.
  • There are the two ridiculous, wealthy older ladies who vie for the attention of a man whose wife dies somewhere within the first 100 pages of the book (I wish I could be more specific, but I just. Can’t. Look through that book for details.)
  • There are numerous Nazi/Hitler references.
  • There is a nephew who pretends to be doing all of this awesome humanitarian work in poor countries, who is actually scamming money from people so he can have crazy adventures in Europe.
  • All of these characters are very (I repeat: VERY) self-involved, yet the reader is supposed to believe that these people have enough wherewithal to keep their dogs alive.
& I didn't even tell you guys all of the crazy shizz that goes on in this book.

& I didn’t even tell you guys all of the crazy shizz that goes on in this book.

That’s actually why I read the book. I was expecting a mystery filled with colorful characters. But while the characters are kind of crazy, it wasn’t really any fun to read about their crazy. Don’t get me wrong – I read the entire book. I wanted to know what the author was going to do next. But rather than I-must-keep-reading-this-book-is-amazing-OMG-how-can-the-author-wrap-this-up reading, I was more interested in continuing to read to see how much carnage the train wreck was going to create.

If train A leaves the station in Grand Rapids at 9 a.m., going 125 mph, and this book continues for another 120 pages, will I feel like chucking this book under the train when it rolls through Ann Arbor?

If train A leaves the station in Grand Rapids at 9 a.m., going 125 mph, and this book continues for another 120 pages, will I feel like chucking this book under the train when it rolls through Ann Arbor?

The mystery ends up consisting of which character is going to be killed, though there are supposed to be a couple of “twists” regarding the identity of the contract killer and the manager of a secret contract-killing business that all of the residents of Savannah know about that can be seen a mile away. And why the character who is killed is killed is also supposed to be a surprise, but isn’t really all that surprising, at all.

The book ended, and I realized that it had been a chore to read. Partially because the story was so forced. Partially because the writing was terrible. Instead of being simple and clear, or detailed and specific, the author chose to go the route of vague and unintentionally hilarious. There are descriptions (that I’m paraphrasing because I refuse to open the book again) like: “Kelly wore her long blonde hair in a very trendy style.” There’s also a line something along the lines of: “Kelly and Tom got plenty of exercise through making love, which was expected with a recently married couple, but because they were so attractive, was expected doubly so.”

But the point when I literally looked up from the book, puzzled expression on my face, and said: “Wow,” was another scene between the recently married couple. Kelly, the attractive blonde who could be a model if she wanted to, but works at the make-up counter at Macy’s, wakes up a few minutes before her husband needs to get up for work he thinks, but she’s going to spring their vacation on him that he can’t join her on because he doesn’t have a passport, which she should know since it seems they’ve been living together for a decent amount of time and also she’s known him since high school. (Run-on intentional; I dare you to read that sentence aloud.) But Kelly doesn’t know this when she wakes up and sees the early time on her alarm clock. Kelly wakes up excited, and full of the spunk that made Tom fall in love with her. She decides to wake him up “in his favorite way.” He wakes up talking about a weird dream, and Kelly “smiles secretly” and there’s some mention of a salty taste in her mouth.

Bitch, please.

Bitch, please.

Um, no.

No. No. No. No. No!

In case anyone was swayed by the author’s misguided attempt to portray how “frisky” and “fun” the young couple is, let me explain that since Tom was sleeping, and could not give consent, he was sexually molested by his wife.

In the same way that it is not okay for a man to have sex with his wife while she is sleeping, it is also not okay to give someone a blow job while they are sleeping. Basically, it is not okay to do anything to a sleeping person other than wake them up, and maybe cuddle. Maybe, depending on your relationship. If a person cannot consent to a sexual act, it is wrong to engage in that sexual act, even if you’re “sure” that person would be cool with it if that person was awake. That person is not awake, therefore, it is not okay to engage in that sexual act. Even if you’re married to that person.

rosemarys-baby-rosemary

I just felt I should be very clear & emphatic about that, because, we all know that not everyone seems to understand the need for consent.

Overall, The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club was a terrible book that I do not recommend to anyone. If you think you want to read it, you are probably wrong. I paid somewhere between $1-2 for it, and feel like I overpaid.

Teenage suicide & reading this book - don't do it!

Teenage suicide & reading this book – don’t do it!

Just Ok: Ghosts, Atmosphere, & Disappointment

I recently finished Sadie Jones The Uninvited Guests. I have been working on reading this novel since mid-summer, but only finished the novel this month. It was… okay.

Uninvited Guests

The Uninvited Guests is a ghost story that starts very strong, but ends on a few fairly disappointing notes.

I was really looking forward to this novel. I am a fan of a well written ghost story, and had heard excellent reviews and opinions of this one.

The novel begins promisingly. I liked the author’s style of writing, and felt that she did a great job setting up the appropriate atmosphere. It made me excited to know what happened next. The novel also has very long beginning chapters, though – which is a little disconcerting, when you don’t realize it. You tell yourself you’re just going to read a chapter before beginning your homework, and an hour or more later, you realize you’re still not quite done with the first chapter yet. (I’m possibly exaggerating, plus I read slow, but still, the chapter’s pretty long.)

In addition, my friend began reading this novel at the same time, and she did not initially enjoy the author’s style of writing. So it’s possible that not everyone would initially like the novel.

The setup was great, the characters were well written, I wanted to keep reading –

And then, the last third of the book takes a turn towards Disappointment Ranch.

Disappointment Ranch - where the

Disappointment Ranch – where the good ol’ American need for expansion usually results in death by malaria.

The characters change very suddenly, and without much reason. So the story feels as though it’s resolved very abruptly, like the author knew what ending she wanted, but ran out of steam trying to get there.

And far too much of the story’s last third and resolution depends on love. I have a boyfriend, and a son, and I love both of them, but the use of love at the end of this novel struck me as overwhelming. I was ready to throw my hands up and yell: “Yech! Stop! Cooties!” even though no kissing or sexy times occurred.

Have you read The Uninvited Guests? What were your opinions? Did you find the ending disappointing?

Book Review: An UnSetterfielding Disappointment

I was so excited to open the package that revealed I had been the lucky recipient of the following ARC:

So. Excited.

So. Excited.

For those who are unfamiliar with Diane Setterfield, she is the author of the bestselling novel The Thirteenth Tale. You should run to a library, or better yet, a bookstore (let’s get a deserving author some royalties!), and grab a copy of her previous novel. Particularly if you like gothic fiction and/or the novel Jane Eyre.

40440 (1)

I adored The Thirteenth Tale. I adored that novel so much that I was worried Bellman & Black couldn’t live up to Setterfield’s debut novel. For me, this worry proved to be correct.

Sometimes, it's hard to be constantly correct.

Sometimes, it’s hard to be constantly correct.

Bellman & Black is the story of William Bellman’s struggle with death. A death that he caused, the death of those he loved or knew, and, of course, his own. As a result, Bellman & Black is pretty depressing. There are books about death that are beautiful; in my opinion, this is not one of them. This book is bleak and odd and disconcerting, which is not inappropriate, given the subject matter.

death

Based on the blurbs of the book I had read, I was expecting a dark story that was full of magic. Yet, now that I have read the novel, I don’t feel these blurbs were very accurate. Or rather, I felt that the story alluded to a particular type of magic – that found in mythology.

ravens

In particular, the theme of ravens that permeates the novel has a feeling of mysticism, wisdom, and an unconquerable defeatism often associated with zombies.

Don’t get me wrong; Bellman & Black is not a horrible novel. It’s well written, the character of William Bellman is drawn with broad strokes, but is understood by the reader. It just wasn’t quite the novel I was hoping to read, particularly when the novel The Thirteenth Tale was.

I would maybe recommend this novel as one to borrow from the library. On the scale of suckage to awesome-ness, I give Bellman & Black 3 ripe bananas – it’s the type of book that’s good when you’re in the mood for this type of book.

bananas no pajamas

Book Review: Big Girl Panties

I requested this ARC solely for the title.

big girl panties

It arrived a couple of days before my two accounting finals, and I gave a great sigh of relief, because a romance that doesn’t make you think sounded like the perfect relief after the stress of end-of-the-semester. (This review, btw, is belated – I am once again in the midst of school stress with 2 summer semester classes.)

Aw - a mindless romance, for me? You shouldn't have...

Aw – a mindless romance, for me? You shouldn’t have…

Except…that’s not exactly what this book was. This book goes a little outside of the romance formula – but at the same time, doesn’t go far enough. It made me think more than I was expecting, which isn’t a bad thing – but I wish the author had put a bit more thought into the novel, as well.

Enough of vague abstractions! Let’s discuss what the book is about.

The viewpoint? Third person. The narrator tends to sympathize/get inside the heads of Holly Brennan and Logan Montgomery.

Who the hell are they? Holly is an overweight young widow with severe self-esteem issues who ends up seated next to Logan Montgomery on a plane. Logan Montgomery is one of the best personal trainers around. He regularly trains athletes, has two amazing fitness studios he tends to work from, and he offers Holly classes to redeem himself from displaying obvious disgust that a fattie sat down next to him on a plane.

So – obviously they get together? *Spoiler alert!*

Untitled

Was it any good? Surprisingly, it was. I liked the fact that the characters were different. The “famous,” really good-looking guy was a personal trainer, instead of a movie star, etc. People stared at him, because he was ripped and handsome, but he wasn’t always pissing & moaning about paparazzi, and the trials of being rich (which may be real, but don’t really compare to the trials of being poor and, you know, being in danger of going without food, a home, etc.). And having an overweight female protagonist was refreshing.

The whole “she’s overweight but she’s so smart & funny” thing, however, seemed a bit overdone. Holly’s self-deprecating humor wasn’t horrible – but I doubt everyone would find it an enchanting reason to hang out with an overweight person. More likely, it would make a lot of people uncomfortable to hear her say things that at least some of them are already thinking.

And after Logan and Holly have passionate sex pretty much everywhere in existence, and Logan has realized that he at least like likes her, he still feels uncomfortable being seen out with her in public. More uncomfortable, in fact, than he did when they were out in public before they began having copious amounts of sex.

He might as well be wearing one of these...

He might as well be wearing one of these…

*Spoiler Alert*

This feeling of being uncomfortable ends up being played off as “Oh, Logan’s not really uncomfortable with the fact that Holly is still a larger woman, he’s uncomfortable with the idea of commitment.”

Um – bullshit. The author just wanted her happy ending, and tried to pull some Freudian rabbit out of her hat.

The thing is, the book would have been so much better if Holly had realized it, but also realized that she was a healthier, happier person because of the confidence Logan had helped her build. And then realized that she didn’t need the man Logan himself, but that didn’t mean that the health and confidence needed to be abandoned with him.

Instead, you get your cliche happy ending, which feels hollow and less than satisfying.

But at least we are left with the knowledge that Holly is getting lots of great sex…

So not as satisfying as the 1995 P&P miniseries...

So not as satisfying as the 1995 P&P miniseries…