Monday, April 30, 2012

Clear Water by Amy Lane

Meet Patrick Cleary party boy, loser, and spaz. Patrick's been trying desperately to transform himself, and the results have been so spectacular, they've almost killed him. Meet Wes "Whiskey" Keenan he's a field biologist wondering if it's time to settle down. When the worst day of Patrick's life ends with Whiskey saving it, Patrick and Whiskey find themselves sharing company and an impossibly small berth on the world's tackiest houseboat.
Patrick needs to get his life together-and Whiskey wants to help-but Patrick is not entirely convinced it's doable. He's pretty sure he's a freak of nature. But Whiskey, who works with real freaks of nature, thinks all Patrick needs is a little help to see the absolute beauty inside his spastic self, and Whiskey is all about volunteering. Between anomalous frogs, a homicidal ex-boyfriend, and Patrick's own hangups, Whiskey's going to need all of his patience and Patrick's going to need to find the best of himself before these two men ever see clear water.
This was such a good story.  Patrick is a 23 year old who is still struggling with ADHD as an adult.  It's affected his self esteem, his career path, and indirectly, his relationships.   As with so many "invisible" conditions, people in his life seem to think that if he'd just get himself together, he wouldn't have a problem.  (And yet, the majority of the world doesn't seem to expect cancer patients to think themselves cured or amputees to will a new limb to grow.  This is a bit of a sore subject with me, can you tell?)  And Patrick has bought into this way of thinking, calling himself a fuckup and constantly apologizing and talking about how he needs to get his shit together.  But the Patrick that we see, and that Whiskey sees, is a kind, smart, curious, big-hearted, vulnerable man desperately in need of people who will believe in him.
Whiskey is a biologist in his mid-thirties.  He's spent the majority of his adult life working in the field, wandering from place to place and project to project as the grant money leads.  He's standing under the stars one night, thinking about settling down and making a home for himself, when Patrick literally crashed into his life.
The relationship between Whiskey and Patrick is the heart of this book, which is as it should be in a romance novel.  Whiskey has experience working with odd people, and his patience and understanding are exactly what Patrick needs.  And Patrick's desire to please, his need to accomplish something and prove his value, lay the foundation for both Whiskey's literal and metaphorical home.  They're both tender with each other, and want to take care of each other, which makes for a really heart-tugging romance.
That's not to say that it was the perfect book.  There's a bad guy sub-plot featuring Patrick's ex that I certainly could have done without.  Cal is only present at the beginning and end of the book, and he's never really anything more than a cardboard cut out with the words "Generic Drug Dealing Bad Guy" written on it.  He adds some shoot-em up interest toward the end of the book, but his actions don't make a heck of a lot of sense if you think about them too closely.
Also, the last chapter was sweet, but it was pretty anti-climactic and could have been cut down a lot.
So, not perfect in all respects, but Clear Water was an entertaining book with a wonderful romance at it's heart.  Definitely worth reading.  B+

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quick! What are you reading?

At the moment, it's Girl From Mars by Julie Cohen.

It's entertaining, but a little slow going for me.  Partially because there's some really obvious stuff going on that the main character just isn't cluing in to.  And partially because her passions are not my passions.  Philomena Brown is a comic book artist, and she lives and breathes Girl From Mars.  All the comics background is interesting, but that combined with the lack of mystery about what's coming next in the story makes this one kind of put-downable for me.

So, what are you reading today?  Is it good, bad, indifferent?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

m/m romcom

I had a thought today.  (I know.  Don't fall over in shock or anything.)  I've been thinking a lot lately about romantic comedy in m/m (male/male).  Basically, there is none.  Well, that's not true.  There are books that people call romantic comedy.  But it's a pretty small percentage of the total sub-genre.  And what I've read hasn't left me with the same satisfaction that m/f (male/female) romcom does.

Why is this?  Is it not terribly popular, and therefore not published often?  Or is there something specific about romantic comedy that doesn't work when you're dealing with two men vs a man and a woman?  Is it not great because it's rare, or is it rare because it's not great?

That's the part I've been thinking about for a while.  Here's the part that just dawned on me today.  If I want to analyse the problem, I should host a book club on a blog.  It takes me a while, but I get there eventually.

So here's what I'm thinking.  Pick a couple of romcoms that are considered some of the best in both m/f and m/m and compare them.  What works in each book?  What doesn't?  Is there something about a woman being part of the equation that allows the comedy magic to happen?  M/M is largely written by and for women, so in theory it shouldn't be a gender difference in the creators/audience causing the problem.

A problem with this plan may be finding enough people willing to read both m/m and m/f stories to get a good conversation going.  There seem to be a fair number of people on both sides who don't want girls/two dudes cluttering up their romance novels.

So.  Is this something you'd be interested in?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mini Monday, the Shameful Neglect Edition

It's been ages since I've posted much of anything, let alone a mini Monday, but I read a little story tonight that is perfect for one, so here we go.

<== This is Zach.  He's cutesie and darling, and if the model was really the character he'd probably be wearing a scarf, something with some shimmer, with that jacket.  One night Zach's designated driver abandons him at closing time when she makes up with her boyfriend.  So Zach flirts his way into a ride home from Sergeant Stephen Miranda, aka Officer Hotness.  What follows is the whirlwind (a little too whirlwind) beginning of a relationship.  Stephen is pretty closeted.  Zach is decidedly not.  That mismatch is one that doesn't work so well.

I liked Zach a lot, and although we don't get much time to get to know him, I liked Stephen, too.  But the story was so short that it makes it a little unbelievable that they'd make the decisions they do.  And it ends before they get the chance to act on those decisions, let alone face the consequences.

At 46 pages this was a cute, fluffy little read, but there could have been real depth to the story if it was expanded to about 2-3 times that length.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

You Must Read This Book

Y'all.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing (okay, the geese are honking, which isn't quite as pleasant, but whatever), and I read a really, really good book today.  One of my Goodreads friends recommended it to me, and I'm so happy they did.  This story should not be missed.

Here's the blurb (it doesn't do the story justice by any means, but it's what we've got to work with):

Straight jockboy Kevin thinks he has gay, cross-dressing 
Danny under his thumb. Kevin only likes girls. 

So... why does he keep thinking about her? 

Or him. 


Kevin is a star football player on the verge of losing his spot on the team because of his grades.  But that all changes when he spots a pretty girl across the room at a party and realizes that it's actually Daniel, the new kid in school and the second string quarterback.  Kevin makes a deal with Dani-- she helps him pass his classes and he won't tell the whole school about Dani's little hobby.

The relationship between these two characters is absolutely magic.  Real and easy and loving and painful and everything that a true relationship is, no matter the genders or sexualities of the people involved.  It's a beautiful thing to watch unfold, and the author does an incredible job sharing it with us.

Kevin may be presented as a typical jock, but he's so much more than that.  There is real kindness there, under the rough, teenage boy exterior.  And Daniel, Danny, Dani, is a real person, struggling with issues of identity and acceptance.  More acceptance of self than acceptance by others.

It's not perfect.  There are places where difficult dynamics seem to be more in the characters' heads than on the page.  Well, many of our problems are more in our heads than in reality.  But in the relationship between Kevin and his father, Kevin seems to be pushing hard against an obstacle that just isn't there.  At the same time, the author doesn't shy away from some difficult, painful truths in Kevin and Dani's relationship.  Both have their issues, and something kind of horrible happens between them that must be overcome.  I'm not sure how I feel about that incident, but it's a lot like looking at other relationships that have hit a hard speed bump.  Could I get past it?  I don't know.  But do I believe that these two have managed to move on?  Absolutely.

That's what's so wonderful about these characters.  They're real and believable.  They grow and change individually and as a couple, and it's a wonderful journey.  The end of the book is a little after school special, but Kevin and Dani are so terrific that I'm willing to forgive that.

So where can you buy this amazing book?  You can't.  Because for some reason it's not been picked up and published by anyone.  (Silly, silly publishers.)  It is available for free, though, published online by the author.  (And that is the final proof of how good this story is-- I hate reading on a computer screen for any length of time, but I happily spent the entire afternoon reading this.)  So here it is: The Girl For Me by Failte.  If you enjoy it half as much as I did, I hope you'll pass the link on to everyone you know.  This story deserves to be read.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review: She Went All the Way

Review by Diva

I've been rereading some old favorites and recent reads...trying to cut down on the old nook budget which, due to nausea and self-pity, was beginning to balloon out of control.  So I took another pass at Meg Cabot's She Went All the Way, her stand-alone chick lit romance novel.

Background:  I never read The Princess Diaries but I suspect, judging by the Queen of Babble trilogy and her 3 "Boy" novels, that her famed YA series had traces of her smart, sassy, yummy writing. I'm a Major Fan of Ms. Cabot's books.

Set Up:  Oscar winning screenwriter Lou Calabrese hops on a helicopter to a remote film location in rural Alaska, annoyed that she has to share a ride with film star Jack Townsend who famously changed a catchphrase line she wrote for him six years ago...and she's never forgiven his lameass egotistical "I think I need a bigger gun" quip that became a bumper sticker and pop cultural phenom. When their pilot tries to blow Jack's head off, Lou saves him and the copter crashes in the wilderness in a snowstorm. Their adversarial relationship continues as they attempt to survive the elements and evade paid assassins bent on making Mr. Townsend a distant memory.

What Worked:

It's Funny.  I like her sense of humor. Her fine deadpan use of the phrase "F--- bunnies" to refer to womanizer Jack's ex girlfriends is priceless.

Supporting characters: Jack's society matron rich mom comes off dimensional, sympathetic and endearing. As does Lou's gruff ex-cop dad. Neither descend into caricature which is pretty impressive alongside some of the contrivances present.

The MC.  She's tough, smart, and doesn't take any crap off Mr. Fabulous. Except when lust makes her all stupid.

What Didn't:

The Romance. Sorry, guys, but anytime a character utters the line "Has anyone ever told you that you are really cute when you're mad" my gag reflex engages. Plus, she's mad at him, he's nearly gotten her killed, pulled some stupid stunt jumping a gorge on a snowmobile with her in tow and she's all Oh the Kiss He Kissed Me SWOOOOON CITY! I have never felt this way ever not ever before where are the trilling birds from Disney's Cinderella I feel a musical number coming on...

Two Words:  No condom. That's right, folks. Our h/h hook up without protection. I lost all respect for everyone involved, including myself for reading the book. How difficult would it have been to mention that the heroine, who carries peanut brittle in her purse in case she gets hungry might have a condom in there too? I realize it's a snowstorm and all, but seriously...I would have felt sooo much less used and dirty as a reader if Cabot had tossed in a convenient prophylactic.

The Verdict: Fine if you don't think too much or mind that they're risking disease. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mini Monday, The Tuesday Edition

Apparently yesterday was Monday.  Whoops!  I had no idea.  So here are our Monday mini-reviews, only on Tuesday.  It's good to try new things, right?  Once again, thank you Julie for keeping us educated and entertained!

The Secret to Everything by Barbara Samuel O'Neal

I loved this book, the happily ever after was delightful.  There was a fun mystical twist plus a few very cosmic sort of aspects.  Any book that includes Magick, in one form or another, is a good one.  She also did an excellent job with her child characters, captured their voices perfectly.  As with her last one, a wee bit too much mention of food for my liking, but then that's my own hang up, many people look for this, I'm just not one of them.  I really enjoy how she incorporates dogs into her stories, at least this one and the one before.  I have her third book on request right now at my library, hope it comes in soon, I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

And now mini-review two.

I just finished a delightful book.  It was supposed to be for the forum book club but not everyone could get it (recommended by Anna/Irish Betty's mom, who is a research librarian).  It's called Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt, and it's by Beth Hoffman.  Quite "G" rated, almost bordering on super sweet, but with enough of a bite that it just isn't quite that bad.  Very well done, great child's voice, and fabulous scenes from the South in the 60's.  Fun characters and gentle life lessons.  Not upsetting, even our Diva could read it in her currently emotional state and not be harmed in the slightest.

Thanks, Julie!  Two more books to add to the TBR shelf.  Yeah, thanks a lot.....  :)