Some Kind of Misogyny : Some Kind of Magic by Mary Ann Marlowe

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In this sparkling debut novel, Mary Ann Marlowe introduces a hapless scientist who’s swept off her feet by a rock star—but is it love or just a chemical reaction?…

Biochemist Eden Sinclair has no idea that the scent she spritzed on herself before leaving the lab is designed to enhance pheromones. Or that the cute, grungy-looking guy she meets at a gig that evening is Adam Copeland. As in the Adam Copeland international rock god and object of lust for a million women. Make that a million and one. By the time she learns the truth, she s already spent the (amazing, incredible) night in his bed

Suddenly Eden, who’s more accustomed to being set up on disastrous dates by her mom, is going out with a gorgeous celebrity who loves how down-to-earth and honest she is. But for once, Eden isn’t being honest. She can’t bear to reveal that this overpowering attraction could be nothing more than seduction by science. And the only way to know how Adam truly feels is to ditch the perfume—and risk being ditched in turn

Smart, witty, and sexy, Some Kind of Magic is an irresistibly engaging look at modern relationships why we fall, how we connect, and the courage it takes to trust in something as mysterious and unpredictable as love.

Source: Goodreads

I am so fed up of books that feature a Plain Jane MC who hates anyone with boobs and even though she’s really plain manages to catch the attention of Mr. Handsome and falls instantly in love with him.

This is that sort of book.

To be honest, I picked this book up mostly because it reminded me of that old 90’s movie, Love Potion Number 9. If you haven’t seen that movie it’s pretty is like Amy Farrah Flower played in this case by Sandy B  and Sheldon Cooper played by Tate Donovan uses some formula that makes her attractive to everyone.  Though, they do it in the name of science and aren’t as socially awkward as Shamy.

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Here though, the whole Love Potion Number 9 angle is hardly played with.   Well, it might be later on considering I only read about thirty pages of the book before calling it a day.

I have noticed this year, that my tolerance for bad books or at least books I don’t like-since reading is subjective- has decreased drastically.  Used to a book like this and its tropes usage would’ve only gotten a couple of groans from me and I might’ve been able to tolerate it to the end but I just can’t anymore.

I really don’t know what it was that ticked me off so much about this one if it was the use of tropes of the lack originality that made me roll my eyes.

Or the fact that a grown woman would describes herself as being ridiculously responsible would randomly fall into a one night stand with a rock star without knowing him.

I just couldn’t…

It’s the same feeling I felt when I read that said grown woman constantly trashes any woman who looks better than her and bemoans about her own looks because she’s not blonde.

And she’s supposed to be a grown professional woman.

You know, maybe a few years ago I would’ve been okay with this but I can’t now.  I just can’t.  I thought we were beyond books like this.

And okay, I know that Fifty Shades of Puke managed to get published but that was years ago.  AND more importantly that was an outlier.  This sort of shit really has lost any sort of originality it has and I just don’t understand how it could make it past the slush pile.

But whatever.

It didn’t make it past my slush pile and I certainly don’t recommend it.

Overall Rating: DNF

 

Why I DNF A Book in Under Forty Pages; The Return of Brody McDouche by Jennifer Ryan

The black sheep of Fallbrook is back . . . and he’s in for the surprise of his life.

Former bad boy, now-decorated Army Ranger Brody McBride is home and on a mission: Find the woman he never should have left behind and right the wrong he did eight years ago.

When the man she loved broke her heart and skipped town, Rain Evans picked up the pieces. But along with heartbreak, Brody left her something infinitely better than she could have imagined: two beautiful daughters. One she gave birth to, and the other she rescued from the woman who helped destroy her relationship with Brody.

Brody is shocked to discover he’s a father, and he’s more determined than ever to win back Rain and protect his girls. Can they rekindle the love they once shared and become the family they were always meant to be? Or will a danger from their past return and ruin everything?

Source: GoodReads

I have been having a slew of DNF’s lately but The Return of Brody McDouche  McBride broke a world record of DNF’ing in under 40 pages!  Usually, I make it at least past the fifty page mark.  But I thought I’d list the reasons why I DNF’d Brody McDouche (yes, it really should’ve been named that).

  1. Secret baby plot:  It’s an annoying trope, but I’ll be willing to put up for it if it’s different and the girl doesn’t like give up her entire life for the baby.  Doesn’t happen here.
  2. Double secret baby plot with multiple women knocked up at the same time: Ew, ew, ew.
  3. Women randomly is able to adopt second child from the Evil Bitch-Slut! character despite having no familiar connection: Maybe it was threw illegal means or something, but generally the adoption goes through blood relatives first when someone’s parental rights are revoked.   There was a blood uncle to kid 2 here, so I didn’t get it.  This is one of those times you wish you didn’t have some experience in family law.
  4. Characters having weather and seasonal names: The female MC’s name is Rain her biological daughter’s name is Dawn.  Gag reflexes yet.  And Dawn’s half sister’s name is Autumn so there’s seasonal, weather, and dish soap names here.  It’s annoying it’s obnoxious.   And if you have those names I’m sorry, BUT….whatever. Combined its hideous.
  5. Brody McDouche says that Rain is his woman despite having no contact with her for eight years, and because of that not paying her the requisite amount in child support: Yeah.  He’s a McDouche.
  6. Brody McDouche’s brother is a caring uncle who is also a lawyer that seems to have never told Rain about maybe she should seek child support: Despite the fact Rain is pretty broke because she’s raising two kids as a single mom and doesn’t seem to be making much money, he doesn’t suggest informing McDouche even though McDouche would probably owe her a good chunk of his earnings because um, child support.
  7. Brody McDouche is rich despite working for the government for eight years: Because being rich is a requisite for a romance novel and somehow being deployed makes you an expert at the stock market or wherever McDouche got his money?!?!?!?!
  8. Demonization of Roxy (the other woman) being a complete bitch: Never mind it takes two to tango, and Brody McDouche willingly went into Roxy’s bed.
  9. Rain still dreams about Brody McDouche besides the fact that he abandoned her and she was forced to raise both of his children without child support: ew
  10. The fact that Brody McDouche is the hero: Enough said.

And that is why I DNF this book.
Simple enough, huh.  Sad thing is, that the other titles in this series don’t look that bad.   I just, I just don’t know if I want to touch it with a ten foot pole after Brody McDouche.

Boo: All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St Amant

Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself her is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

Source: GoodReads

I’ll read a lot of things, but I sort of draw the line at Inspirational romance. While I am a quasi practicing Catholic (meaning, I only attend mass at holidays and when I’m dragged to it—i.e. when it’s my mother’s birthday—and don’t believe the church’s views on several social issues), I don’t like reading about people’s religion that are like a written version of all those lame Kurt Cameron movies. All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes is marketed as a contemporary, which was why I picked it up, but it soon became clear after reading the author’s bio and some brief God allusions that this is light inspirational lit.

I still continued on though, because it wasn’t blatantly in Kurt Cameron territory, but I couldn’t finish the sucker because it was just bad. And that’s not include the random Bible versions and come to Jesus talk which is annoying enough when it would randomly appear in a text conversation of all things.

The summary of the book drags you in, the book is set in a cooking competition that looks like it’s akin to Cupcake Wars—but this show is called Cupcake Combat. It’s sort of funny they changed the name when the fictional show airs on the Food Network in this book, it’s like be a little more obvious St. Amant but I’ll relent. But seriously, what’s wrong with making up a network like I don’t know like even the Food Channel. You have to use the Food Network’s name but then blatantly change the obvious show you’re trying to mimic.

Anyway, set in a food competition this book features around a woman named Kat who is the blandest crybaby to ever live. You see her life sucks because she wasn’t born blonde like her sister—STELLLA (always have to put a Streetcar Named Desire reference when I hear/read that name) and she banished to working at her aunt’s cupcake shop (apply named Sweetie Pies, even though they only sale three flavors of cupcakes) because everyone in her family hates her. And her life is so horrible mixing those Duncan Hines cake mixes of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Because no one in the town Kat has been banished to have ever heard of the special cupcakes that she likes to do—like throwing cherries into her chocolate cupcakes—and it’s just draining the life out of her. Luckily, she has her best friend and resident asshole Lucas to fix things for her.

Obviously, I have little sympathy towards Kat. Maybe if her problems weren’t so superficial I’d care. Or maybe if I could understand why the bakery called itself Sweetie Pies when it served no pie, or made do with just three cupcake flavors despite being in freaking Louisiana which is sort of known for their variety of desserts. And really, Kat, red velvet isn’t that hard of a cupcake to make for an experienced Southern baker. You are just showing your inexperience. But I guess when you mix three flavors of Duncan Hines mix all your life, red velvet would be a difficult to make. And as much as Kat likes to complain about her life, I really didn’t think it was that bad. I just wondered how a bakery stayed open making three cupcake flavors and how they named themselves Sweetie Pies when there’s no freaking pies? Talk about misrepresentation. The only somewhat coherent explanation I made up in my head is that Aunt Maggie is making some special pies that she sells when Kat’s not there that would get her in trouble with the local sheriff. Either that, or the town only has one bakery, and you’re sort of stuck with three flavors of cake.

I think I was supposed to feel sorry for Kat, but I there wasn’t really any significant development for her whining to look anything more than first world problems. Really, if you don’t like making Duncan Hines cake mixes be assertive, work and compromise with your aunt rather than having your Duck Dynasty wannabe best friend entire you into some faux Cupcake Wars competition—again, did Cupcake Combat have to be on the Food Network? Really, did we need to be that obvious?

I could not stand the male lead in this one folks. He is creepy as fuck. And looks down at anything that is not deep fried and generica. Seriously, they leave a nice restaurant in order to go for the pink slime at a fast food restaurant.  Seriously, he basically pouts when Kat was like let’s eat at this nice place, though she eventually agrees that fine dining= snotty people. Note, I might be a little prejudice in this regard since the last time I ate a Mickey D’s burger I received such severe food poisoning I haven’t gotten anything more than a Coke from there in about a decade. But regardless of my own fast food prejudice, I just found it a little odd that someone who is entering a food competition would be more happy with a gross Mystery Meat burger than fine dining. And who gives a fuck that a salad is fifteen dollars? It’s fine freaking dining. If you didn’t want to spend so much on food, you could’ve looked up restaurants near you on Yelp. But alas, it’s fifteen dollars a salad or Mickey D’s. And it just doesn’t end with the we take pink slime instead of filet mignon incident, Lucas constantly snarks at people for dressing “metro” and says he doesn’t want Kat looking one of those evil city people with makeup and shiny lips.

Really, he mocks anyone with any education or culture background that is different from his own? Honestly, I think one of the reasons I despised Lucas is because he rang Trump voter to me. That and besides being anti-intellectual he is creepy as fuck. So, he secretly tapes Kat to get her on the show and then he follows her around like a puppy dog and is just God awful controlling and their not even together yet. Like he snaps at her for watching The Wizard of Oz instead of football.

Well, Lucas, if it would’ve been me I would’ve told you to fuck football. I was forced to attend stupid football games in high school because I had to be in stupid marching band so that I could be in concert band and I still have no interest or know how that fucking game works.

And at this point dear reader you’re probably like resentment much?

Hell yeah, when idiots like Lucas say that football games are better than classic movies and who like fucking McDonalds better than surf and turf.

I actually ranted about more of the superficial problems that I had with Lucas (sans creepy taping Kat behind her back scene, I honestly wondered if the douche had one installed in her shower that’s how big of a creep he came off as). The real problem with the character is that he’s emotionally manipulative and as a result emotionally abusive. There’s obvious control issues there, and while what I mentioned was petty it’s just examples of how the character acts throughout the book. Full disclosure, I DNF’d this one, but the way the book was going it was clear that Lucas was thinking about sabotaging the MC so that she wouldn’t win and could be his woman and make him some special cupcakes (note, not specialness is not the same as my head cannon Aunt Maggie’s special pies).

Like I said, the pairing was really wasn’t working for me. And from the page flipping I did there seems to be some complications with a creepy judge. But really, from what I saw the judge wasn’t as creepy as Lucas—but from the various page flipping and reviews I read he transforms to being really creepy.

Besides the bland characters and horrible ship, the other HUGE problem I had with this book was the fucking cupcakes. I’ll admit I’m not a baker. I can’t really bake unless it’s gluten free shit, and to be honest if you ever try to make something gluten free you know that it’s a) going to taste bad or b) you’re going to need a whole lot of skills so unless it’s those bake and break gluten free cookies, I usually don’t go there unless the flour has already been properly mixed with the proper thickening agent—and FYI, getting preprepared gluten free flour with xanthium gum already mixed in it is expensive. However, I have binged profusely on a lot of baking shows—because when you can’t eat delicious bake goods you might as well enjoy watching people talk about them. I will say without a doubt, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would’ve crucified Kat and everyone else in this stupid competition about the quality of their bakes.

Seriously. I’ll just go through some of the cupcakes that were made. The first competition cupcake ingredient included a mixture of peanut butter, chocolate chip, and caramel with a stinking topping decoration of an animal crackers and caramel corn. Mary and Paul would probably remark how it wasn’t an innovative use of the ingredients, I mean sticking a freaking animal cracker as decoration. On most food shows they probably would’ve at least crumbled the sucker and incorporated it into the batter somehow. The same with the caramel corn using it as garnish and decoration is just downright lazy. The peanut butter, caramel, chocolate combination to me seemed to be a little too heavy—peanut is a heavy flavor on it’s own and while chocolate can work with it, with caramel added to it to me would seem overly sweet. You’d have to balance it somehow correctly (often with the amount and quality of ingredients), but nothing is said here at all. Instead, all we get is Kat bad mouthing someone’s brownies because they were gooey. And gooey brownies are just bad, ya’ll.

At the end of the day, I gave up on this one before it could cause my headache to get any worse (172 pages). Oddly enough, the inspirational crap didn’t even get to me. Yes, there were some annoying biblical quotes—really book, people don’t text Bible quotes—but other than that I didn’t want to throw this book against the wall at least for that. I did want to throw the book against the wall for it’s judgmental hillbilly leads who think apparently adding animal crackers as a decoration in a food competition is innovative.

Overall Rating: DNF. Burn book, burn.

The First Romance Novel I Ever Read: Perfect by Judith McNaught

A rootless foster child, Julie Mathison had blossomed under the love showered upon her by her adoptive family. Now a lovely and vivacious young woman, she was a respected teacher in her small Texas town, and she passionately lived her ideals. Julie was determined to give back all the kindness she’d received; nothing and no one would ever shatter the perfect life she had fashioned.

Zachary Benedict was an actor/director whose Academy Award-winning career had been shattered when he was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife. After the tall, ruggedly handsome Zack escaped from a Texas prison, he abducted Julie and forced her to drive him to his Colorado mountain hideout. She was outraged, cautious, and unable to ignore the instincts that whispered of his innocence. He was cynical, wary, and increasingly attracted to her. Passion was about to capture them both in its fierce embrace…but the journey to trust, true commitment, and proving Zack’s innocence was just beginning….

Source: GoodReads

Perfect is one of those dreaded rereads that you realize you’ve outgrown what you thought was a good book and said book SUCKED.

To be fair, there were some things that I enjoyed about Perfect and that I’ll always enjoy about the book. I’ll probably reread certain things again, but in 2016 there are things about the twenty some odd book that are ridiculously dated that make me wonder if they were even okay in the 1990’s because some of this shit I don’t think it would’ve flied back then.

The premise is one to raise eyebrows, the Stockholm Syndrome trope. As a feminist, or as a decent human being, I don’t like the trope still I like the wrongfully convicted movie star angle when I was fourteen and I thought it’d be a fun one to revisit. However, it wasn’t.

I started drafting this review halfway through the very long reading process of this book and finished it after I got through its unicorn dropping of an ending (FYI, for sanity purposes you should really think about skimming the last hundred or so pages and going straight to the epilogue or at least the wedding scene). I knew I’d have a lot to talk about, so I thought it be better to start my ramblings off early than later in the drafting process—the grievances ended up being a whopping total of over 1800 words (or the equivalent of a small undergrad essay).

1) The Main Characters—specifically Julie, Zack to a lesser degree.

 God, I wanted to deck Julie and then some. McNaught heroines are always borderline Sues. I sort of give some of them a break—like Meredith in Paradise she might look perfect have an idyllic life, but at least there are flaws there and she’s just as much to blame with her relationship issues as Matt. With Julie, while little Ms. Perfect can’t do anything wrong.

Save for the first twenty pages of the book where she’s a little homeless wraith, but of course she changes her evil wiles of being a thief. FYI, the backgrounds on the character are nice and all but don’t really add much to the story. With Julie, I could refrain for her digging out dead fish out an aquarium since it didn’t really add that much to the story. The pickpocket thing could’ve been utilized, but wasn’t.

Besides the useless flashbacks, another issue I had with this character is she’s so damn preachy. I just wanted to smack little Ms. Perfect and her judgmental ways. I wanted someone else to mention that she was a little bit of a bitch towards Zack, but they were all like forgive Julie.

In fact, one of the little 1D dweebs she teaches calls Zack a jerk when he’s released from jail because he made Julie cry. God forbid. Even though Julie was the fucking one who got him trapped AND beaten by the police.

Zack is no saint either, but at least his motivations make sense. Dude was locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. While I didn’t like how fast his relationship with little Miss Perfect developed—personally, I wish he would’ve reconnected with an old lover than Ms. Perfect Virgin at least his motivations made sense. Though, even Disney did more developing Belle and the Beast’s relationship—since they had him give her a library and try to woo her with dinner before he even thought about getting her to kiss him, let alone bed him. Furthermore, is a little bit ridiculous how much name dropping that McNaught did to pump up this character to A-list celebrity status especially since unless you watch a lot of films from this era when this book was published you’re not going to recognize some of these names. By the way, Barbara fucking Streisand sings at their good old country church wedding of all things.

2) The Side Characters—Save For Matt and Meredith (and even then seemed to talk unnaturally)

 Other than Matt and Meredith who developed happily ever speech (speech that sounds unnatural by couples who are living blissfully in book-ville) I didn’t enjoy any of the side characters. And Meredith, I got annoyed with you for defending Julie Sue.

First, there’s Julie’s dipshit brother who is a sexist and then some—but again it’s his ex-wife’s fault their marriage failed apart because she didn’t know how to cook, wanted to live in a nice house, and got into a riding accident which resulted to a miscarriage. This is an annoying subplot that is quickly solved within 360 pages of the book where she admits she’s wrong and they live happily ever after in a crappy apartment. It’s still annoying though because if you cut out that crap I could’ve gotten through with some of this torture a little quicker.

The other brother, the minister father, and mother are all equally bland. Save for this annoying scene at the end of the book where the minister dad goes on one of those stupid save yourself for marriage rants and we get a weird quasi Christian romance scene of the couple reconnecting and Zack getting randy because he can’t have sex with Julie till they get hitched. Hell, he can’t even be in the grown ass woman’s house alone with her. Oh, and her father’s one of those people who calls their wives “Mother” that is always a freaking pet peeve of mine so it’s additional fictional knee in his nuts from me.

Me when thinking about some of these characters.

See, talking about these people is getting me violent.   It really makes me concerned why my fourteen-year-old self loved this book (probably because Zack is hot).

And God, even since the reread I’ve skimmed that part—the last one hundred pages—with good reason.

Other than them, there are some annoying locals that maintain the pristine—piss poor annoying values of their cookie cutter American town. FYI, if you sleep with someone before you’re married and a woman they’ll gossip about you to no end.  And there’s these two annoying geriatric twins that dress alike, one being nice one not so nice, where there’s yet another subplot involving one of their love lives.

I hated them all.

3) Plots and Subplots Fail Flat

 For 700 pages everything better be damn well resolved, right.

Oh, dear blog reader, you’d be wrong. Oh, so wrong. There are so many holes in this book it isn’t funny.

I think a part of the problem is we have so many extraneous storylines: whole killed Zack’s wife, is Zack going to get his freedom, is Julie going to betray him, the Katherine/Ted drama, will Matt ever get his nap with Meredith, and most importantly if the community of Keaton is the community that Dump uses in his idealistic view of what used to make America Great since it seems to be full of WASPs and Julie looks like a supermodel.

Rather than focusing on what’s important, meaning who really killed Rachel—Zack’s wife—or for that matter working the shit out that happens between Julie and Zack appropriately, the murder mystery is solved very randomly and not by even the main characters. If any plot is resolved, it’s that Keaton gets this big fat moralistic info commercial at the end and like I said before.

Skip it.

Unless you want to see a town full of jerks whose faces you want to punch—Julie’s included. God, did I want to bitch slap Julie.

Again, McNaught, why were we stuck with her as a MC?

When rereading this, I was sort of shocked how ill paced this one is. It is over seven hundred pages and yet parts that needed to be fleshed out weren’t fleshed out at all. And as for Matthew and Meredith, while I liked them in there I sort of wanted them to be how Cam and Amelia were utilized in Seduce Me at Sunset, meaning we get longer meatier scenes with them to get rid of some of the bullshit—aka Julie and her town full of hypocrites with their little forgiveness message that doesn’t only extend to Princess Perfect but Zack’s God awful relatives who disowned him and left him to fend for himself on the streets when he was fucking eighteen.

Forgiveness, my ass.

And for the love of God, kill Ted and Katherine with fire, McNaught.

4) Feminism—It Ceases to Exist

 Remember the 1990’s woman?

If you watch a lot of movies from the era you’re told that the 90’s woman can have it all and conform to the standards that were established by men—i.e. being their babysitter. In this book, we’re constantly told how horrible Katherine is because she didn’t learn to cook and clean and wipe Ted’s butt.

Julie is deemed as wholesome and we get some virgin worship for her, while McNaught hotly contends that evil women such as Rachel and Katherine to a lesser intent are evil because they have sex, don’t want babies, and want careers.   Also, anyone who has had an abortion in this book is treated like tainted goods. Hell, Julie even had to ask Zack permission to write a fucking book (which FYI, is sort of a product placement for the fucking book your reading—no wonder Julie is a such a Sue).

I find it so odd that this is the same woman who wrote Paradise where the main character is very career oriented. Sure, there were some gender issues in that book but they were handled more tactfully and you understood the motivations towards the various upsets. Here though, people are merely called a slut in the good town of Keaton if they don’t listen to the great Reverend Nuts-I-Must-Kick rants about virginity.

No wonder Julie is so fucked up.

Really, her social worker should ashamed of his/herself. Then again, I don’t think they had much choice but to but her with Nuts-I-Must-Kick after his shrink relative—who we never see after her first appearance—makes her appeal about what loving people they are.

That aside though, I am really surprised with how much woman hate there was in this book it seems like everyone—aside from Julie—can find some way to insult someone of the female sex.

Really, this book should just go for the fat pigs and talk about their periods because I think it sort of wants too with the amount of hate that spewed from it.

A part of me knows I’m not looking at the book in it’s historical contents, it is over twenty years old and because of that it is dated, but somehow Paradise didn’t seem to get on my nerves as much as this.

The thing is, is even though parts of this dragged and I rolled my eyes I didn’t hate it. There were some scenes that worked. I loved seeing Matt and Meredith again, and Zack wasn’t that bad. Julie though—I went from being fairly sympathetic to hating her guts.

First Read: An A. It was my first romance novel, but second read I’d probably give it a C+ if I’m being generous. Therefore, rounding up the reading experience to a B. Like I said, hideously dated some poor messages but there is something at least interesting about it.

 

 

Romance-cation: My Favorite Book of ALL Time

Corporate raider Matthew Farrell had come a long way from the poor, scruffy kid of Indiana’s steel mills. A long way from the country club where, feeling like an outsider, he had dared to fall in love with a beautiful blonde named Meredith Bancroft, and known a once-in-a-lifetime passion and betrayal that sill haunted his memory… Now world leaders courted him, the media watched his every move, and he was ready to move in on the Bancroft empire.

A cool, poised executive in her family’s legendary department store chain, Meredith had once defied her father for the sexually magnetic, intense Matt Farrell — and their brief, ill=fated marriage was the disastrous outcome. Now, as the Bancroft firm is threatened by a hostile takeover, Meredith is forced to confront Matt. As tensions build between them, bittersweet memories rise to the surface, leaving them suspicious, restless, and uncertain. Will they be able to believe in each other — and grasp the tender miracle that is before them?

Source: GoodReads

This is probably my favorite romance novel of all time, though it’s companion sequel-Perfect-is a close second.  This book contains a lot of my favorite tropes and is the king of angst.

It’s over 700 pages so McNaught has plenty of time to torture her characters, and torture is what she does to them here.

I have read Paradise maybe a couple of times in the past twelve or so years that I have known about it.  This is the first time I’ve read it in several years though, and it has surprisingly held up well.  While I do think the fat book could’ve been cut down a little bit-because no one really likes reading about mergers and acquisitions it is still a good book.

And after going to law school, I am able to pick up on thins that sixteen-year-old me didn’t understand.

Yay me!

The characters are pretty well formed.  Initially it might seem like Meredith is a bit of a Mary Sue, she is described as a Grace Kelly look alike BUT McNaught fully forms her with flashbacks starting from the time she’s 14 to when she turns 30.

Matt Farrell is drool worthy and not a complete ass, which is a problem that a lot of McNaught’s men have.  Yes, he does have jerkiness moments, but as far as moments of asshole-ness go his asshole-ness has motivations.  And in the end–sigh.

The one character that I had issues with upon reread was the father character.  God, did I hate this SOB.  I really don’t understand why McNaught gave him as happy as an ending as he got, he needed his ass kicked and then some.   But instead he is basically given a slap on the wrist.  After causing eleven years of angst for our leads, you’d really think McNaught would allow us readers to have moment of sweet vengeance.

But no.

It amazes me how always quick of a read this one is.   Like I said, over 700 pages but I can usually finish it within a day or so-this time it took me three days but I was doing work, chores, and errands during all of it.

There are parts of the book that do feel a little dated.  It was written in the early 1990’s after all.  Many of the fashions, decorations, etc. described as being extremely modern by McNaught are now fairly garish.  But still…

This book is worth it’s weight in paper.  It always will be a favorite of mine, though the flaws are more apparent.  Paradise still holds well and will always be the bar I set for reconciliation stories.

Overall Rating: A freakng plus.

Are You Sure This Isn’t a Katy McGarry Book: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

Source: GoodReads

 

Man, if I didn’t know this book was by Jennifer L Armentrout I would’ve thought it was by Katy McGarry.

Like McGarry books this one is overly romantic and dramatic, but lacks the duel narrative that hers usually has.

All things considered it is a really solid contemporary.  The storyline was engaging and focused more on character development than plot.  Sure, there were a few over dramatic things that happened during the course of the story that made me want to gouge my eyes out a bit, but overall it was enjoyable.

I really enjoyed the character Mallory.  I feel like she is very relatable.  She’s at that age where a lot of people don’t know what they want in life but at the same time sort of do but haven’t came to those conclusions yet.  I thought Armentrout did that well.  I also enjoyed the romance for the most part.  Though, I could’ve lived without the Paige subplot.

That was a little too much for my taste and a bad throwback to YA of the mid 2000’s where the Mean Girl trope was alive and well.  And really, Paige wasn’t a necessity as was a lot of the external plot that went on that lead to the melodramatic event in the middle of the book that I found a tad bit unbelievable-though, I get events like this happen.  I think the thing that bothered me so much about this subplot was if you took it out of the story it would’ve been just as strong maybe stronger if you got annoyed with the melodrama.

The actual character development that went on with this particular book was pretty strong.  Mallory had a lot of shit to deal with and dealt with it.  I also liked how the romance wasn’t the focal point of the book.  Other relationships such as those with family and friends played an important role in this book, including self development.

In all this was a very different Jennifer L Armentrout book for me to read.  While there is still that ridiculous readable quality about it, but rather than being what I deem fast food reading (a book that’s not the best for you good) there’s something about this book that is more mature than those other books.

I also liked that this book incorporated diversity and not in a tokenism sort of way.  There are several characters who come from a non-WASP background were not generalized.

While not perfect, this is a good book.

Overall Rating: B+

That Kilt Looks Itchy: When a Scott Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare

On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.

A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.

Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.

Source: GoodReads

If this book would’ve been written twenty or so years ago, I would’ve hated it.  That being said, I’m okay with it, but I didn’t love it like several people did on GoodReads.

I sort of blame the tropes that were used more than the writing and characters themselves.

I mean, come on it’s the blackmail trope.  You’re going to sort of get a dick hero with this trope-I mean, dude (albeit hot dude in kilt) blackmails mousy rich English lady with property into marrying him.

I sort of wanted to castrate Logan at that part, but the more I read the book, I found I couldn’t hate Logan.  If this would’ve been a late 80’s Catherine Coulter book, I’m sure I would’ve found plenty of reasons to hate him-Coulter’s blackmail trope usually consists of multiple abuse and rape scenes-but Logan really wasn’t that abusive and actually had some charm about him despite the rather sketchy move.

And I could sort of (if I squint) get his motivations for blackmailing Maddie.

Though, even though he had good natured intentions it was still a dick move.

I really did like Maddie though.  I thought she was a well formed MC with some quirks.  I could so identify with her anxiety, I hate attending social gatherings myself and am a major introvert at that.  I liked that despite not liking parties and dancing, she’s not an outright hermit and has interests of her own.

The supporting cast could’ve used some fleshing out, but  for the most part they were enjoyable enough (I guess).  I really liked Maddie’s aunt, and from what I saw of Logan’s men they were interesting enough.

Overall this was quick romp that was fun to read.   While I originally wasn’t a huge fan of this couple, I warmed up to them.

Overall Rating: A B.

I Don’t Feel Your Pain: The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev

Ria Parkar is Bollywood’s favorite Ice Princess–beautiful, poised, and scandal-proof–until one impulsive act threatens to expose her destructive past. Traveling home to Chicago for her cousin’s wedding offers a chance to diffuse the coming media storm and find solace in family, food, and outsized celebrations that are like one of her vibrant movies come to life. But it also means confronting Vikram Jathar.

Ria and Vikram spent childhood summers together, a world away from Ria’s exclusive boarding school in Mumbai. Their friendship grew seamlessly into love–until Ria made a shattering decision. As far as Vikram is concerned, Ria sold her soul for stardom and it’s taken him years to rebuild his life. But beneath his pent-up anger, their bond remains unchanged. And now, among those who know her best, Ria may find the courage to face the secrets she’s been guarding for everyone else’s benefit–and a chance to stop acting and start living.

Rich with details of modern Indian-American life, here is a warm, sexy, and witty story of love, family, and the difficult choices that arise in the name of both.

Source: GoodReads

I enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t great.  I felt like it missed out on a lot of  opportunities.  The subject matter that it covered was not only interesting and exciting, but there was also a lot of emotional issues that could’ve been explored more that were barely touched.

If you know anything about me and romances, you’ll know that I’m really fond of the “second chance” trope.  I think this is because it gives the author a chance to develop the characters at two different stages of their lives and the romance doesn’t feel as forced as in some other tropes.  Still though, it’s a hard trope to pull off efficiently.

And I don’t think it was done efficiently here.  I didn’t really feel Vikram and Ria reconnect.  It was more or less sexual tension and then bam let’s get naked.  Let’s not go through any of our shit first and try to resolve our hatred for each other.

This is the best part of second hand romances, rediscovering that love.  That even though you’ve been hurt by someone and have changed over a period of time, you can still reconnect.  But I think Vikram just wanted Ria for her breasts and Ria wanted Vikram for his biceps.

It’s not terrible though, there were some sweet moments with these two, but it missed the boat in a major way.

Just like having Ria be a big Bollywood star, but hardly spending anytime discussing her career.  Rather, it was her at the wedding making moony eyes at Vikram, his biceps, and blue eyes.  All she really does besides that is stare and mope.

The one thing that I did think was handled reasonably well was the effect that mental illness can have on a family.  Being from a family that has mental illness on both sides, I see where Ria was coming.  While the mental illness that my family members suffer from is nowhere near as severe (that I know of) as the one that Ria’s relative suffers from, I felt her angst wondering if a ticking time bomb is going to go off in your head.

Not a pretty feeling.

Though, I wish some of the other aspects of mental illness was as well thought out.  Parts of the illness and Ria’s reaction to it were fluffed over a little bit too much for my liking, but I guess overall it worked.

Despite it’s faults, I did like Bollywood Bride.  It was a nice book to read on the flight home for Christmas, and it served it’s purpose it entertained me without really offending me.  It’s not a perfect read though, but it was nice to find a romance that didn’t deal with blondes in corsets or hot marines who came back home and fell in love with Ms. Nebraska.

Overall Rating: A B a little shabby, but in the long run worth it.

 

Awesomly Lifetime and Hallmark: Murder She Baked, a Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery

Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?  If you don’t get this reference, you should thank God you were never forced to hear that song in the 199o’s.

Never the less, there’s apparently a mystery about chocolate chip cookies starring Ryan Lavery (Cameron Mathison) from All My Children and more importantly Sami (Allison Sweeney)  from  Days of Our Lives.  And I decided to review it, of course.

The Gist:

So Sami, whose name is Hannah here, is a small town bakery in a town that you know would never exist in America. Seriously, I’m currently living in what is considered a small town and it’s NOT this picturesque. More like aggravating in a lot of ways since it’s like an hour nearest to the nearest bookstore.  Plus, people sort of have to work in small towns too.  They don’t in this movie.  Anyway, she has a knack of figuring out small town crimes.  And then of course, someone is randomly murdered in town and-eek, murder mystery begins.  Enter big city cop, Mike (Ryan Lavery) these too start out initially sort of hating each other, but only in the your the obvious love interest Hallmark type of way.

Review:

Sami was actually engaging.

No surprise there.  When I tried to watch Days, she was one of the only characters that kept me interested the other being EJ.  What do I say, I’m an ABC soap fan.  Honestly, I wish GH would’ve stoled her because I think she would’ve been an awesome addition to the cast they have now.

Anyway, back to the movie.  The story starts out with her as a small town baker.  If  you seen her on Days, you know this is a bit of a different role for her.  So, it was nice seeing her play sort of the girl next door versus the bad girl.  Of course, after the typical day of normal life a murder of a pretty much insignificant character appears and the story really starts.

For the most part, this one follows the stereotypical mystery romance.  Ryan Lavery is the big city cop that comes in to help solve the case, Sami is the quirky bakery that gets involved in hijinks that annoy but later endure Ryan Lavery.

And yes, my eyes almost popped out of my head like half a dozen times.

There’s another love interest thrown in there that I just had to roll my eyes at because it was so obvious how this was going to play out.  But still, I didn’t mind it that much.

At it’s best Murder She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Mystery, was your stereotypical cheesy Hallmark mystery   I enjoyed it though, oddly enough.  Unlike My Gal Sunday, Allison Sweeney really takes charge of the movie and she does play an engaging heroine.  I would really like to see her in more things.  This just showcased that she was one of daytime’s and Hallmark’s better actresses.

The plot though and Ryan Lavery, eh.  While Ryan might’ve been pretty to look at and much more limited (thank God) than he was in My Gal Sunday, and I actually did like the chemistry between these two.

Shocking because except for Princess Gillian, I haven’t liked Ryan with anyone.  I give props to Sami on that.

Lifetime/Hallmark Squeal:

So, Ryan Lavery plays the love interest again.  Groans.  At least they casted him as a straight tight ass cop in this piece.  I think if he’s portrayed as the straight man, it works better than him being more of the at ease character.  Which is really weird because Ryan Lavery himself started out being a snarky character and when he was snarky, he was better than when he was sanctimonious.  But I find in these movies, it’s better for him to play straight man.  Also, it helps that there is no insta love in here either. So the swoonage is alright, not great, but develops as the movie goes along. And since there’s going to be a sequel, I’m totally okay with it.

OMG Lifetime/Hallmark Moment:

So many topes used here.  But there was really no OMG moments.  I say probably the biggest OMG to me was that a sequel to this one has been green-lighted and it’s going to be at Christmas time.  Totes watching it.

Overall Rating: Although, it’s cheesy and there were parts where I cringed and went in the other room to unload the dishwasher, overall this one really worked.  Solid B Hallmark, you deserve it. Or maybe I’ve just washed a lot of trash TV lately.

 

The Summer I Became a Nerd: Leah Rae Miller

Those are some shiny legs.

General Summary: Maddie a cheerleader has a secret obsession with comics.  But she’s afraid if she mentions the fact she finds herself obsessed with X-Men (who can blame her her name is Madelyn Jean Summers).

Review:

I’m going to start this review with an analogy that if you read my pre-review on Good Reads, you’ve probably already seen it.

Imagine if you will that you’ve been scoping out this guy from far away.  And he seems perfect for you and low and behold he asks you out and you go out on a date together.  And, well, the date’s just awkward.  It’s not that it’s terrible there’s moments where you’re like yeah…that’s why I’m into him but other times you’re like what was I thinking.  I need to ask for the check.  But you don’t.  Because you reassure yourself that if you survive the date’s awfulness there’s a bottle of wine at home.

This book is that date.

It’s not a bad book.  The plot is pretty simplistic.  And honestly I knew it could be dubious.  Because popularity was a main part of the plot.  And I usually hate any book that’s about being popular unless it’s written by Meg Cabot or in movie form by Tina Fey.

However, I was willing to give this one a chance because it promised me the wonders of comic books and cosplay and all that good stuff that makes me watch The Big Bang Theory.  And the comic stuff was quite good.  To go back to our analogy. It’s like every time my date would smile at me or hand would caress mine I would feel that little zing.  But the rest of the time, nope nothing.

I’d say most of problems with this one resided in the main character Maddie.  I actually liked her YA significant other.  I know, I know.  That has to be a plus doesn’t it.  And it is, but for now let’s talk about Maddie.  She’s one of those girls.

Meaning, she has popularity on the brain.

I was glad that she was already popular though.  I can deal with that better than the I wannabe popular I’m going to ditch my friends and personality type.  But essentially Maddie was sort of like that.   And it was weird how Logan wanted her to drop everything-including her boyfriend-like a hot potato for him.

I get it, every nerd boy dreams of the day when they could have their very own Penny (a la The Big Bang Theory), but the way Logan was acting I was reminded of those scenes in those other books where the hero or the MC’s best friend feels so betrayed because she ditched them to play with Barbie and Ken.  And then Maddie’s guilt I really didn’t get it…

 

Much like I didn’t get why she hung out with Logan when she was dating Eric.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Logan a lot.  But I was like, girl this is only going to lead to trouble.

Which it did.

But at least she did try to break up with Eric, I will give her that.  But really I never got them as a couple.  I never really did.

Much like I didn’t get why Maddie was obsessed with hiding the fact she likes comic books.  Liking comic books doesn’t automatically make you a nerd.  Most people like comic books that I talk to.  I mean, look at how many movie tickets Marvel/Disney sold for The Avengers-that should be an indicator.  And who cares if people don’t like your cosplay.  It’s cosplay.  It’s cool.

But Maddie is obsessed with what people think.  And besides a girl who she was never really friends with anyway, no one really cares that she likes Batman and is now dating a guy who wears Iron Man boxer shorts (yes, he actually mentions this).

And yes, I found Logan to be adorable for the most part.  Save for the fact he took his little sister with them on their first date that…that was something.  I mean, it wasn’t even like she was truly forced on them.  Would you like to be babysitting on your first date?  It’s not romantic.  I mean I know Ann M. Martin has tried to make baby sitting looking alluring exciting to us for years with describing Claudia’s ridiculous outfits that she buys from watching Baby Einstein with the kids next door but please….

And Vera wasn’t a bad kid.  In fact, she was a little too perfect for a kid.  You know kids throw tantrums and act ridiculous sort of like Maddie…

Yeah, I know I’m harsh.  But really a lot of her actions were just a little over the top.

Overall though, I really did enjoy this one despite the gooey, gooey cheese and icky amounts of cringe moments (skim the last quarter if you don’t want to be covering your face).  It takes place in Louisiana too, which is always a plus.  And guess what it got points because it wasn’t offensive to Louisiana too (do you know how hard that is in YA).

Best Feature: Nerd Out.  Again, this must be a popular feature this week.  I honestly kept reading this for the comic book references.  It was sort of hilarious/disturbing how many of the characters were named after X-Men characters.  And I really liked the fact that Logan was a DC man.  Even though I am now into more Marvel stuff (their live action movie’s having been kicking DC’s ass).  I still hold great appreciation for DC, mainly because it was that brand that got me to love comics.  Plus, they have The Justice League.

The now regulation nerding out picture.  

Worst Feature:  Slut Slamming.  Oh dear.  I get that the Power Girl dresses provocatively but you don’t need to compare her to a porn star every other page.  BTW, she no longer wears the boob window costume.  They revamped it for the New 52 (not that it’s that much of an improvement since gets the Indiana Jones woman treatment in clothes-same costume but through wear and tear gets conveniently skimpier).  Not that I would care much if they dressed the men as provocatively as the woman.  Seriously, have you seen the way they’ve been sketching Catwoman lately?  I don’t think any of the DC ladies have heard of Victoria’s Secrets.

And the climax.  Basically it consisted of Maddie claiming her turf against a supposed evil bitch.  Well, two supposed evil bitches who were out to steal her man-cessory.   Seriously, if he likes you he’s not going to go out with the token mean girls.  You don’t have to do that weird real life role playing thing that makes the Christmas D&D on The Big Bang Theory look tame.

Appropriateness: This one is pretty clean.  I actually think it would be good for middle graders save for the whole Powergirl has boobs that borderlines on pornography according to this book and other slut slamming.  The language is mild, the characters only kiss, and for the most part they’re in the holding hands stage.  I mean, Wolverine’s little sister tags along with them on a date.  You can’t get to sexy good times with little sisters.  Though he did wear that Power Girl t-shirt.

Blockbuster Worthy: Sure, why not just for the sake of this blog entry.  It’s actually a fairly simple story and adapting it to the big screen should be easy enough. And casting these roles should be easy enough if I have a TARDIS.

Maddie: Kaley Cuoco.  Hey, she plays a popular lady dating a nerd.  She used to play  a teen on TV too and if I could deage her she’d be a perfect Maddie.

Logan: Johnny Gaelecki.  See nerd dating popular girl on favorite TV show.  Plus, he already knows how to wear glasses.  Bonus feature.

Overall Rating: I’m giving this one a five out of ten.  It probably would’ve gotten a bit higher score, but the ending just annoyed the heck out of me.  So first 3/4 gets a six maybe even seven the last 1/4 it squeaked by with a four.   Suggestion skim the ending savor over the first seventy-five percent.