Damaged Women & Tattooed Men

This is a post about Brown Family, a “contemporary erotic romance series set in Seattle” written by Lauren Dane. For more details which do not include my opinion visit laurendane.com or goodreads.com.

I’ve read the first instalment of the Brown Family series years ago and I remember I enjoyed it, so when I felt the need to dip my brain into the Cheap Thrill pool, I thought of Lauren Dane.

Coming Undone (Brown Family 2) is nothing to write home about [but here I am, writing a post about it], but it’s a good enough way of spending an evening after a hard day at work. It’s a simple story about a young widow with a daughter who moves to a new city in search of a new life and gets down and dirty with a guy who doesn’t do relationships but does tattoos, family and friends. The widow has a dark past, because someone has to be damaged, I guess. I liked Brody and the [pause to look up name of main character] Elise because they both were almost lifelike.

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There’s a lot of sex in the book which kind of got old real fast. Frankly, even when I pick up a “contemporary erotic romance” I can do without 15 sex scenes, 20 pages per scene. But then again, it is an erotic romance, and I had the same beef with Laid Bare (Brown Family 1) so I really shouldn’t bitch about having to skip some pages.

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After Coming Undone, I’d logged onto Goodreads to see what’s next and imagine my surprise when I realize the two protagonists of Inside Out (Brown Family 3) are one Andrew Copeland [say what?] and Ella Tipton [maiden name Brown?]. I gave it a whirl but gave up because I couldn’t find the chemistry between the non-Brown characters and I couldn’t bring myself to care about Ella, her freckles, her boobs and her funny voice.

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Logging onto Goodreads, again, I discover a totally crazy summary for Never Enough (Brown Family 4) which made me gag.

Gillian Forrester spent her life running…until Miles came along. The moment she held her older sister’s unwanted newborn, Gillian stopped running and began building a life for her adopted son. Now, thirteen years later, Gillian’s sister reveals the father’s identity on her deathbed – a revelation that shakes Gillian to her core. Adrian Brown is the epitome of the successful rock star. It takes a lot to shock him – but the bombshell that he has a thirteen-year-old son rocks his world [PUUUUUUUN! Because he’s a ROCK star!]. And Adrian is even more surprised when the buttoned-up elegant woman who’s raising him ignites his erotic and romantic attention – and engages his heart.

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So that was a no. But I am an adamant creature, stubborn some would say, so I’ve decided to try and to read another Brown Family (and Friends) book – Drawn Together (Brown Family 5) which was doomed from the very start. I mean the main character is Raven who shows up in all the previous books as a crass, impolite woman whose juvenile actions are interpreted with words such as “honest” and “direct”.

So, another DNF.

I don’t understand what’s with Lauren Dane and wounded women and women in peril? Maybe the Brown Family series is the Wounded Female series? Maybe there’s more variation in her other series…Let’s check on Goodreads:

Giving Chase (Chase Brothers #1): …Despite Maggie’s happiness and growing love with Kyle, a dark shadow threatens everything-she’s got a stalker and he’s not happy at all. In the end, Maggie will need her wits, strength and the love of her man to get her out alive.

I think I’m done with Lauren Dane for now. However, aside from Coming Undone, she also gave me an excuse to put a Tom Hardy picture on my blog which is always a plus. So, thanks Lauren.

Meh

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

Maddie is a popular, cheerleading, quarterback-dating girl with a dark secret. She likes comics, a lot. She hides her true, comic-loving self in fear of losing her popularity which she cultivated over the years. However, she is forced to slowly show her true face and accept who she really is with the help of the boy she’d been secretly pining after for years. Book includes comic book talk, LARPing, a guy called Logan and words such as adorkable.

I cannot seem to get a break. This time break was not given by The Summer I Became a Nerd. I was not expecting to be amazed at the magnificence of its literary merit, but I was expecting….  What in the world was I expecting when I picked this one up?

The Summer I Became a Nerd is something of a book, although not really. It’s more like a rough draft that could have been a book, a fun book at that. There’s just so much missing from it. I feel overwhelmed just thinking about making a list.

So I won’t.

The one important thing this book lacks is soul. Fact is, even the crappiest of books can have a soul. The Summer I Became a Nerd has these words, and stuff happens. Some stuff is cute, some mildly entertaining.

But in the end, it’s just meh. Read it. Don’t read it. In the end it’s really all the same.

Featured Image by gelopsychedelico.deviantart.com

A Case of Literary ADHD

Rose Christo’s Gives Light Review

I’ve been itching for something light to read, so when I realised I’d bought a book titled “Gives Light” it seemed a no-brainer. I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I had bought it,  which I absolutely loved because I had no idea what to expect.

In the beginning, the book was capable of smoothing out the wrinkles of a shitty day.

Halfway through, it became apparent that I will not enjoy the book. Rose seemed to have had a bunch of various ideas which are perfectly OK, but she really should not have put them all in one book. It’s just too much, and the book ends up being about nothing and everything and about no one and everybody. It’s all over the place and no character is given proper attention due to this literary ADHD.

I will list all the things that were not given proper attention in Gives Light. And no, I do not care that it is the first book of a series because a series is a series, and a book is a whole in its own right.

  1. Skylar St. Clair is a mute teenager who got his throat slashed by a man who had killed his mother
  2. His father has disappeared without a word and Skylar is put in a custody of his paternal grandmother who lives on the Nettlebush Reserve
  3. Skylar’s mother was murdered on the Nettlebush Reserve by a member of the tribal council
  4. He was in fact a serial killer who had murdered several women
  5. The son of the murderer, Rafael Gives Light, lives on the reservation
  6. Native American customs and history are interspersed throughout the book
  7. For the first time Skylar becomes a true member of a community and makes friends
  8. Skylar’s new friend Annie has to take care of her two siblings because her mother is in the Army and her father is useless (it is mentioned somewhere that he had a stroke)
  9. Rafael Gives Light becomes one of his best friends
  10. Skylar’s father turns out to be a criminal who brings illegal immigrants into the country
  11. FBI and social services regularly visit the reserve and threaten the fragile stability of Skylar’s new life
  12. Skylar slowly falls in love with Rafael and Rafael returns his feelings
  13. Skylar is briefly conflicted about his feelings for Rafael – briefly because there’s so much shit going on in the book he has no time to deal with it for a longer period of time.

Imagine all this (and more – I avoided spoilers) crammed onto 285 pages, and do not forget to include descriptions, internal monologue and musings of a teenage boy who uses words such as “vociferous“.

Let’s go general and explore topics.

  1. Dealing with severe loss and monumental change
  2. Facing painful past experiences and achieving personal growth through adversity
  3. The treatment of Native Americans in modern society
  4. The importance of preserving the culturally and spiritually rich Native American customs and way of life
  5. Dealing with the fact that you are different and learning that “normalcy” is a matter of perspective/upbringing
  6. Treatment of crime and punishment in different cultures

I’m sure I could come up with more but I think this is enough to illustrate my point.

It’s a shame, really, because the book is well written. If the first list was cut down and one or two of the topics given proper prominence, I believe it would have been a really good book and I would have probably been half way through the second part of the series.

I Cannot Bitch

Expect the unexpected is not exactly what comes to mind when you’re looking for a frivolous summer read. It most certainly is not something you expect to be applicable to a book titled Lord of Scoundrels with such a cover (urgh).

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And yet… Mind. Blown. My mind is also blown by the fact that my mind was blown. So, Mind Blown Squared.

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Lord of Scoundrels (praise the Lord, it’s not Lord of Rakes!) is 171 pages long (short?) and on each page shit happened which I did not see coming. I’ve never read a romance which felt like a thriller – the suspense was killing me because I just could not foresee how things would unfold.

I’m still shocked by this book. It’s fun, intelligent and witty, well-written with awesome protagonists who just go around doing stuff protagonists in a book of this sort are not supposed to do.

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I have nothing to bitch about. I cannot bitch about Jessica Trent’s ineptness. I cannot bitch about idiotic and unnecessary sex scenes. I can hardly bitch about long-winded descriptions of characters’ appearance and/or attire. I cannot bitch about dimwitted dialogue nor rudimentary language skills. I could try to bitch about the presence of an actual plot, but in truth the only thing I can bitch about it the fact there is nothing to bitch about.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go and find out if this book is an aberration of cosmic proportions or something Loretta Chase does as a matter of course.

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Carry On, nothing to see here

Rainbow Rowell – Carry On (2016)

You can tell Rainbow adores Simon, Baz, Penelope, Agatha… she truly loves them all. Makes you love them. The kink is, she doesn’t really love the plot. Rainbow just wanted to have some reason to put her beloved characters together, and she was forced to come up with a plot.

The plot is introduced somewhere mid-book. Occasionally she completely forgets the plot-thingy, goes on a binge with character development, subtle comments about life and reality, with her subtle style which has underlying respect for readers’ capability to get a hint.

Oh. SHIT. She forgot the plot.

And then the plot comes back again, and it is supposed to explode. It is supposed to go overboard and overwhelm. But it doesn’t. It somehow flickers pathetically, and you can feel that Rainbow just couldn’t let it die, so she poked it every now and then with a stick.

Maybe the biggest fault of Carry On is the fact that it’s supposed to be fantasy. There be dragons, but dragons don’t make a fantasy book. They make a book with dragons in it. Not many authors are capable of migrating through genres seamlessly, and a fanfiction-ish, fantasy-ish book doesn’t really seem to be Rainbow’s cup of tea (yet?). I respect her for doing it, but for me this is what she does best (excuse my being a bit self-referential):

Well, Rainbow Rowell summarily executes willing suspension of disbelief by making you the protagonist of her books. She makes you feel like a hero, makes your life seem worthy of a book of its own. Because, most of us can find some portion of our lives, as small as it may be, that a little imagination and some wordplay can make into a good, maybe even a great book. And that’s what Rainbow tells you, what she reminds you of – your life is interesting, you have great friends, there is excitement behind that very corner, you just need to see it.

 

 

Of Rakes and Romance

What are you doing? Are you really reading a book with rhyme in the title?

Those were the two questions which still plague me, as I’m nearing the last page of Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (oh yes, that IS the title). The answer to the second question (which is, obviously, yes) makes me smile every time.

I’m actually reading a book which someone decided to name Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. Not Nine Rules. Not The List. Not Nine Rules to Break. Not even – Romancing a Rake (I hate that word because it makes me think of someone romancing a garden tool, which is really not my cup of tea, regardless of bullshit I read).

Writing a review of this book might seem unnecessary, but having in mind that I have read REALLY BAD erotic novels, and even worse historical romances, I feel the need to mention that this is actually readable. Yes, it’s unimaginative, unoriginal and rife with unnecessary and easily avoidable clichés, but it is still a fun read. And the title is so ridiculous that it alone makes the experience more worth the while.

Let us explore other titles in the series:

I mean, come on! Really? Nine, Ten, Eleven he’ll take you to heaven.

I’ll end this with a few images which will additionally clarify what it is that I’m actually reading.

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Yes, I do own Nine Rules to Brake When Romancing a rake, thanks to my friend over at Anatomy of Reading and Other Demented Things.

 

I did not weep for Charlie, I wept for myself

Flowers for Algernon, 1958
Daniel Keyes

I knew what was coming. It was only a matter of time. Despite brief bursts of optimism, there was nothing to look forward to save hopelessness. Somewhere around page 220, my vision began to blur. Having reached page 238 I was sobbing desperately.

Flowers for Algernon has left me raw; nerves exposed to the harsh elements. It’s the heightened awareness that makes Algernon such a thrilling story to read. Even the sense of despair bears a bitter-sweet quality that I cannot really explain.

One of my greatest fears has always been the fear of losing my mind. I have never had nor will I ever have the mental prowess of Charlie Gordon, but I cherish my mind and my judgment, as flawed as they are, beyond everything else. The idea of losing that freaks me out. Not the idea of being without it, but the idea of that interim period of knowing you cannot understand or think the way you used to – that limbo in which you remember what you were and could do, but cannot reproduce it.

I did not weep for Charlie. I wept for myself, I wept because of the eventuality of decay.

All the faults I have found in Algernon disappeared on those last pages where it is impossible not to see a glimmer of your own future. Keyes finishes the story right at the point when it hurts the most.

It’s a strange sensation to pick up a book you read and enjoyed just a few months ago and discover you don’t remember it. I recall how wonderful I thought Milton was. When I picked up Paradise Lost I could only remember it was about Adam and Eve and the Tree of knowledge, but I couldn’t make sense of it.

 

 

Disturbed

I’ve read plenty of books that left an impression on me. 1984 and In Cold Blood come to mind. I’ve been seriously affected by these books. You can imagine how surprised I was to learn that Grey will be another book which I will include on this list. I did not expect to include it on any list, except on the Reasons-to-dislike-E.L.-James list.

Having mustered through cca 150 pages, I was simply unable to finish this book. Not because it is badly written (though it is), not because there is no chemistry between the main characters (though there is none), and not because the characterization is not worthy of Teletubbies (though it is, barely, but it is). I can read bad books. If you stumbled upon this blog before, I’m sure you are aware of this. Grey takes “bad” and it fucking owns it.

It is a deeply disconcerting book. It disturbed me in a way I have not been disturbed for a long time. In Grey we get to meet the adored Christian Grey. But this is not your attractive, rich, renaissance man we came to know  in FSoG, oh no. This is a rich, controlling psychopath who is only inches away from becoming a rapist and a serial killer. In Grey we come to learn that Christian Grey is not a Dominant. He’s not a guy with troubled childhood and run-of-the-mill psychological issues. He is just a sick, disturbed man who needs to be institutionalized to ensure the safety of those around him. He’s got power. He employs thousands. He owns many cars and a helicopter, and he can find you and be there real fast. You should be afraid, very afraid.

“It places the lotion in the basket.”

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At the same time we get to meet a new Anastasia Steele. An inexperienced, bookish girl who stumbles into the orbit of a man who will have her under the scrutiny of a private investigator, who will punish her for writing “It was nice meeting you”, a man who does not want to dominate her – he wants to hurt her. He wants to earn her trust, and this he wants after making her sign an NDA.

The repetitive nature of Grey’s internal monologue only adds to the feeling that he’s not all there. He keeps thinking and saying things like “Oh, that smart mouth” and “Fair point, Miss Steele“. He feels inexplicably threatened by unimpressive kids and, even though he notices that Ana likes him at the very beginning of the book, he keeps noticing it as something new, always revelling in this “discovery” in the same way. The fact that there is no chemistry between them only enhances the level of disturbance because his insistence on making her his is simply unfathomable.

Christian is horribly fragmented. His thoughts are all over the place, mixing dialogue with internal monologue. He takes a moment to talk to himself and then he talks to people –  but not out loud. Remembering it makes me shudder. It is creepy beyond reason.

Essentially, Grey takes “badly written” to a level I did not believe possible. It transcends genre and reads like a psychological thriller. I kept expecting Christian to kidnap and murder Ana or Kate (or both). Then we would get introduced to some very cool FBI agents who delve into the mysterious ritualistic murder of a young woman (or women) following a trail of evidence back to a rich CEO. There might even be some introverted profiler who’d try to get into the murderer’s mind…. and find Christian Grey while he’s finishing his fava beans and drinking a nice chianti.

Saying that a book is “the worst book ever written” is ungrateful because it would imply I have read every book which was ever written and it might imply that I’ve actually read Grey. So I’ll just phrase it this way: “Grey is the worst book I have ever tried to read“. The statement lacks decisiveness and it’s tepid (much like Grey) but it’s the truth. I mean, come on. She tried to write a sexy adult novel (one she has already written) and all I could think about while I was reading it was the following five things:

  1. That poor, poor girl, I hope she manages to get away from him.
  2. My God, this man is really disturbed, this is just so creepy.
  3. Dear Lord, this man is really disturbed, this is just so sick.
  4. I should really read Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs again.
  5. Will Graham is one of the hottest characters ever.

I hope I’ve managed to show you just how many shades of fucked up Grey really is (hint: it is not 50).

To hell with niceties. This IS the worst book ever written.

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I’ve Made a Boo-boo

I’ve screwed up. Like BIG time. I got this idea that it would be FUN to read Grey. I know! What a crazy, crazy idea. I should blame Leo DiCaprio. I’m quite sure I did not come up with this idiotic thing all by myself.

And then, my sadistic reading buddy over at Anatomy of Reading (and other demented things) decided to go along with my idea, probably anticipating that I would not be able to endure it and that she’ll have the last laugh, making me finish what I’ve started.

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Curse you, Leo! Curse you, reading buddy! Curse you, tiny toilet!

Fallen Too Far

I know you’re bound to wonder why the fuck I decided to read this book, but frankly I’m not in the mood to explain my current life situation which lead me astray. Suffice it to say, I’ve been having a rough couple of months and it started to show on my general psychological state. I googled summer+romance+book and this one was among those that Google pooped out. So blame it on Google.

I’m not gonna write a review. For the first time (possibly ever?) I’m gonna summarize an entire book, trying not to be judgmental or make any sort of opinion about it.

Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines tells a story about a nineteen year old Blaire who sets off to join her estranged father after the death of her mother. She’s a competent, no-nonsense girl, used to dealing with all sort of crap, having lost a twin sister in a car accident and taking care of her sick mother during her formative years.

After selling pretty much everything she’s got to pay for medical bills, Blaire goes to Florida to get some help from her father who has remarried. Once she reaches her destination, she founds that her father has left for Paris and the nearest thing she has to a relative is Rush Finlay, her (sort of) stepbrother she has never met or heard of. Rush is very hot, very rich, very popular with the ladies he’s a womaniser, unwilling (or maybe unable?) to settle down. Reluctantly, Rush offers Blaire to stay in a small room in his house (her father and Rush’s mother Georgiana live in Rush’s house). Rush’s stepbrother Grant is glad for this because he’s a happy-go-lucky guy, while Nannette, Rush’s stepsister is actually quite bitchy about the whole situation and Blaire in general. Rush’s terms which govern Blaire’s residential situation change on a daily basis, because he’s eager to have her stay.

Blaire gets a job at a country club, serving drinks to golfers. She manages to earn quite a sum on tips, having a skimpy uniform and ample bosom.

There’s instant attraction between Rush and Blaire, which develops and grow over time. Rush adamantly tries to curtail the attraction. They live together, make attempts at friendship, something they soon fail at. Inevitably, they hook up, because Rush simply isn’t strong enough to resist Blaire and the attraction they share.

When it seems that Blaire and Rush are gonna settle their differences and that their story will come to a happy ending, pending Rush’s explanation of his initial reluctance, things do not go as well as planned.

Blaire wakes up to realize that her father Adam and his wife Georgiana (Rush’s mother) have returned from their trip. She overhears a conversation revealing that the angry and vile Nanette is in fact her stepsister. Before meeting Blaire’s mother, Adam was in a relationship with Georgiana who was pregnant with Nanette. Adam decided to leave Georgiana to start a life and eventually a family with Blaire’s mother. He lied that Georgiana isn’t pregnant with him but with some other guy (I think Rush’s father, I’m not sure).

So. Ok. Adam left Georgiana who was pregnant with Nanette to be with Blaire’s mother and then, after the death of one of his twins, he abandons Blaire and her mother, and Georgiana takes him back. Georgiana has three children with three different guys. I think. Or is it two? I dunno.

Rush knew all this and it was the reason why he did not want to get involved with Blaire. His sister was horribly hurt by the lack of a father in her life and she in part blamed Blaire and largely her mother for this situation, and he felt for her, being something of a surrogate father to Nanette.

Blaire was very upset by the turn of events and the fact that everything she thought she knew about her family and about her life was in fact a lie. She’s especially pissed off at Rush for not telling her the truth. The night of the confrontation she sits in her truck and leaves to return home to Alabama. Rush follows her to try to fix things. Unwillingly she agrees to talk to him, and they end up spending one last night together, because she cannot be with him after all that has happened.

If you want more, there’s plenty of it – PLENTY OF MORE.

If you want to know what I think, you can read it on Goodreads.