Reader’s Dilemma

Miss Larkin’s writing is like a puppy’s first confrontation with a flight of stairs. It’s very awkward, but it’s so cute you have to smile and hope it will succeed. While the puppy eventually masters the stairs, Miss Larkin never fully masters writing. At least not in The Earl’s Dilemma.

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She keeps stumbling over the same words – lack of synonyms in her vocabulary and the lack of thesaurus in her home library become apparent very soon. I could not resist so I counted, cruel courtesy of modern technology. Using the word throat 52 times and the word cheek 92 times would not be a big problem if both words were not used in relation the same character almost invariably. The same goes for frown (101 times).

As much as I tried to like Artemis for subjective reasons, I tried to dislike Earl’s Dilemma for objective reasons. It is badly written. Really. And I loved it. I enjoyed the simple love story, even though it was riddled with detailed descriptions of drapery, upholstery, linen and other types of cloth. I liked the characters, even though they were all frowns, eyebrows, throat and cheek.

I doubt I will ever read another book by Miss Larkin, but I’ll be forever thankful for putting a smile on my face when I desperately needed it.

Have you ever really liked a book that was poorly written? This actually happened to me once before, more than 10 year ago when I read Man on Fire.

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A Feeling to Remember

Have you ever sat by the river, watching the endless flow of placid water, listening to the rustle of leaves on the summer breeze? Have you ever sat in silence feeling the warmth of sun rays filtered through the branches on your face? Have you ever closed your eyes to better hear that moment of serenity? If you have, than you have an idea of what it felt like to read A Summer to Remember by Mary Balogh.

I did not fall in love with Kit, the male protagonist, nor did I wonder what it would be like to experience the things Lauren has experienced. I did not feel compelled to rush through the pages, inadvertently skipping whole sentences to see what happens next. I was not frustrated by the “unnecessary” events and descriptions which did not deal with the two protagonists.

I did not grin excitedly.  I smiled contentedly.

Normally, only the books that fall into the Personal Edification category can arouse anything similar. The fact that I enjoyed a book intended for the Guilty Pleasure section this much is surprising. Novel. Strangely exciting.

There is nothing guilty about the pleasure I’ve had reading it. A Summer to Remember is a beautiful, unassuming book. I absolutely loved it and have enjoyed the writing style, the dialogue and the many characters it manages to portray wonderfully. I respect the way it reflects the period (Regency) in which it takes place in every aspect – even when norms and propriety are toyed with.

It’s not really easy to write about this book, but where words fail, I’m sure that the fourth panel of the little comic below will best explain what reading A Summer to Remember felt like. I do wonder whether the new category “maximum coze” will have additional entries.

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The First Cheap Thrill of 2017

During my seven-day tryst with flu, I have come to recognize there are some, albeit few, benefits to being unable to exercise any type of exertion. Putting aside that you might have to do some actual work while burning up at mild 38.5 degrees Celsius, you don’t (really) need your mental faculties to be at their peak to engage in these benefits.

  1. You can read silly books to your heart’s desire
  2. You needn’t explain to anyone why the fuck you are watching Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Jane Eyre AGAIN.

Flu is what brings about the first  Cheap Thrill of 2017 to my blog.

I’ve stumbled upon Storm and Silence on Goodreads (trending in some context) so I’ve decided to take it up when shit got too real.

Key words: 19th century, London, feminist, suffragette, tall, dark, curt, brooding, gender bender, guns, fights, France, balls (the kind you need a gown for), commerce…

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Storm and Silence (read here) suffers from a serious case of ADHD. Its story lines disappear and reappear indiscriminately, with no sense of proportion and position in the grand scheme of things. For example there’s a story line about Ella (sister) and her love problems which took up so much of Thiers attention (for some unfathomable reason).

Boring. Uninteresting. Superfluous. Boooooooring. Skip-skip-skip. Don’t care.

After putting the reader through superfluous torture with Ella, Thier decides he no longer has any interest in it and ends the blasted thing in just a couple of pages. Could’ve done that sooner. Like before introducing Ella as a character.

There is more than one thing that warns against reading Storm and Silence such as:

  1. The main character Lilly, whose point of view we follow, balances on the edge of lunacy for the best part of the book.
  2. It takes I would say about two thirds of the book to actually get an inkling that  Rikkard (blah name) Ambrose (that’s the tall, brooding dude) is supposed to be an actual human being
  3. The end of the book is stupid, ridiculous and impromptu as the conclusion of the Ella-storyline.

However…

It’s kind of a cute book, with all its quirks and general “is-this-really-a-book” feel. I liked it. It was fun. Even when it was irritating the shit out of me I still had a grin on my face. Despite all of the above, Lilly grew on me and I ended up really liking Ambrose even though it took forever for him to take shape. Yes. It is possible it was the flu doing the liking.

However…

I have also red In the Eye of the Storm (read here). Unlike Storm and Silence, the no. 2 actually gives of a unified feeling and can be mistaken for a book. In the Eye of the Storm can face many historical romances and not blink. While Storm and Silence dabbles with adventure, In the Eye of the Storm brings it on and takes it seriously. The major fault which both instalments share is the extent to which you have to suspend your disbelief in order to digest some of the things that happen.

However…

We who are in the business of Cheap Thrills and Guilty Pleasures suspend our disbelief like you wouldn’t believe. So, I intend to read the third book here and I fully expect to be entertained.

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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.

Two ‘Easy’ Pieces

If you’re looking for something light and sugary to read this summer (or any other season for that matter) you should pick up either Attachments (1999) or Fangirl (2013) (preferably both). They’re just so damn sweet. To be clear, these books, as sweet as they are, have a certain gravity to them, making them a perfect blend of bitter and sweet.

These are romances. However, there are no blushing, innocent virgins and no tall, dark, mysterious, 29-year-old billionaire-multinational-CEOs here. These are regular people with regular stories. You and me, and that guy we had a serious crush on back in school. You know, the guy that was brainy and clumsy, and seemed like he liked you but had even less balls than you to do something about it?

These are situations we’ve been in. The dialogue is witty and hilarious, and you’ve surely had that discussions with your friend. This is us, trying to pry out of a rut we’ve been stuck in for years, but a rut we’ve grown so used to we think we like it. This is you, a student, convincing yourself you actually prefer books to people, and that it has nothing to do with the fact that you’re petrified to get out there and stop being socially awkward. It’s you and me, it’s Everyman and Everywoman.

So why should you read either of these books? After all, how can it be exciting reading about something you’ve experienced?

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.

The overwhelming familiarity of it all gives you strength and fortifies your belief that anything is possible. Anything.  You need a right set of circumstances, some guts to step out of your routine, and just wait for things to change, develop, and possibly turn absolutely beautiful.

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Despite their similarities, Attachments and Fangirl are fairly different. Both deal with relatively new (at the time they were written) social changes which stem out of technological development. Fangirl is categorized as a YA novel, which I do not like, because YA makes me think of Twilight and Hunger Games, and Fangirl is nothing like those…things. It’s a story about a girl in college, in reluctant search for her place in the social order. Attachments deals with old people (30) who are stuck and are only realizing they haven’t really found themselves.

Obscure movie references are another thing these two books have in common, and you cannot help but feel like you have some kind of inside information, because there must be a whole bunch of people who didn’t get that “single-white-female” reference.

Even though Attachments should be more up my alley, and even though it’s a solid 4* book, I still preferred Fangirl (5*). Attachments is a fun read but at times it felt more like an exercise in writing than a complete work of fiction. It doesn’t lack closure, but it lacks a clear sense of direction, something Fangirl has in abundance.

I don’t usually  copy quotes from books because for me that’s the equivalent of dismembering a body, but sometimes it’s hard to resist, so here’s a one from Fangirl:

He made everything look so easy… Even standing. You didn’t realize how much work everyone else put into holding themselves upright until you saw Levi leaning against a wall. He looked like he was leaning on something even when he wasn’t. He made standing look like vertical lying down.

And another from Attachments:

Have you ever seen The Goodbye Girl? Don’t watch it if you still want to enjoy romantic comedies. It makes every movie made starring Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock lash itself in shame. Also, don’t watch The Goodbye Girl if it would trouble you to find Richard Dreyfuss wildly attractive for the rest of your life, even when you see him in What About Bob? or Mr. Holland’s Opus.