Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: CHOPSTICKS by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

chopsticks cover

Glory, a piano prodigy, has a nervous breakdown and obsessively plays Chopsticks over and over. Then one day she simply vanishes from the "rest facility" she's staying in. What happened to Glory? Why did she go crazy and where did she disappear to?

sample chopsticks page
An example page from Chopsticks, via the novel's Tumblr.

Chopsticks is a book told almost entirely in pictures. Not so much like a graphic novel, more like a scrapbook. I've been wanting to read it for a long time, ever since I read Vasilly's review of it at 1330v. I have to say, I'm very torn about this book--on the one hand, I love the concept and definitely think creative ways of storytelling like this should be encouraged. But on the other hand, the execution left a lot to be desired.

The photographs and visuals in Chopsticks are gorgeous, certainly, but not consistent with the time period the novel is set in. It starts in the early '90s, but everything in the photographs--from the type of film used to the clothes and hairstyles of the subjects--look like they're circa 1970s. There are also visual themes in the book that are never explained and seem really random. If any of you follow me on Pinterest, you know I love octopi (they're my favorite animal), but why all the octopi in Chopsticks? Glory's obsession with Jo Ann Castle was also really weird and anachronistic. At first I thought it was a metaphor for Glory's life, seeing as how Castle seems like a performing monkey; but by the end I realized this isn't the type of book that trades in metaphors and no, Glory actually just liked Jo Ann Castle and watching The Lawrence Welk Show. You know, like a normal teenager! The Malbec wine theme also seemed really random and weird. I don't know a lot of teenagers who are that into wine, and these teenagers even say they're not! Yet Glory's boyfriend's parents give him wine for a birthday present? MAKES NO SENSE. Who does that?

example of a page from chopsticks
An example page from Chopsticks, via the novel's Tumblr.

As for the story, I found it really shallow and obvious. The characters had no depth. Glory's dad was over-the-top controlling, the school administrators were cartoonishly bureaucratic, and Glory and her boyfriend only had two speeds: histrionic whinging and total freak out. I'm not saying I didn't understand their frustration, but that's ALL we ever got of their personalities. It needed to be balanced out with some cognitive reasoning (not lovey-dovey make-out sessions) in order to be believable. Or bearable. I knew exactly where the book was going by the end of the second chapter and was disappointed that there were absolutely no surprises or twists in the story. The conclusion to Glory's serious psychiatric problem was laughably simplistic, not to mention kind of unrealistic.

So while I liked the concept of Chopsticks and would definitely encourage Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral to continue experimenting with telling stories in this format, I don't think this particular book was successful. A better option if you're looking for a story told in pictures might be Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: PAINTED FACES by LH Cosway

painted faces cover

Freda is a young Dubliner who likes to be called Fred. One day she introduces herself to her new neighbor, who tells her he'd like to be called Vivienne. It's only after Nicholas invites her to one of his shows that she realizes he's actually a professional drag queen, not just a guy with a weird sense of humor. Nicholas asks Freda to be his costume assistant, but it's clear he wants more than just a professional relationship or friendship. Will Freda be able to put up with his moody bullshit long enough for these two crazy kids to get together?

I picked up Painted Faces because romances with a heterosexual drag queen as a hero are pretty unusual. You know I'm a sucker for books that are unconventional like that. I'm really glad I took a chance on it, because it was totally fun and entertaining.

What made Painted Faces for me was the heroine and narrator, Freda. She is awesome and hilarious! First of all, she makes cupcakes for a living. How can you NOT love someone who makes cupcakes?? She also has an attraction for anything odd and is always ready with the clever quips. Some of the dialog exchanges in Painted Faces are pretty sharp. She has great friends, drinks too much, visits her parents nearly every weekend, and loves music. She's a character that I felt like I knew and would want to be friends with in real life.

As for Nicholas, he reminded me of something from an animé. As in, cartoonish. You know those beautiful guys in animé shows that are surprisingly kick-ass, yet super-moody and occasionally go into shame spirals because of their DARK PAST? Yeah, he was kind of like that. And sometimes he got slightly rapey, or at the very least sexually harassing. At first it was just awkward and funny (there are so many funny/awkward--fukward?--situations in this book), but as Nicholas and Freda began to know one another more, he only got pushier. I started to get really impatient and annoyed with him about halfway through the book, and equally annoyed with Freda for putting up with his crap. I get that she like-likes him, but no means fuck off, buddy. Once we got to the DARK PAST reveal I really didn't care anymore, and it didn't seem much of a dark past secret anyway. So while I totally get why he would fall in love with Freda, I didn't find Freda's attraction to him that convincing.

There are also a bunch of secondary characters in Painted Faces who are fun and show how much thought LH Cosway put into the two main characters--not just their personality, but their hobbies and what types of people they hang out with. I also LOVED the setting; I seriously need to read more books set in Dublin.

Even though I think Painted Faces is too long and I was a little disgusted with with romance in the third quarter of the book, I still like it for Freda and what a fun and entertaining read it was. The ending was also really sweet and kind of redeemed the whole book for me. I am definitely going to check out more work from this author.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Originally released: 2012
Starring: Keira Knightly, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Directed by: Joe Wright
Based on: the book of the same name by Leo Tolstoy

Anna is married to this guy named Aleksei, who is honestly kind of a prick. When she goes to Moscow to visit her brother, she runs into dashing cavalry officer, Count Vronsky. It's love at first sight! But Anna's a married woman and tells Vronsky to leave her alone. Instead, he stalks her for the next hour, and then Anna's hubby is all, "You're behaving improperly BLAH BLAH BLAH." So Anna figures if people are just assuming she's sleeping with Vronsky, she might as well sleep with him! And Vronsky bangs the brains right out of her head.

This version of Anna Karenina takes place almost entirely in a theater and is extremely stylized. It's a little strange at first; during the opening scene I was like, "What is this and why am I watching it?" But then I was totally sucked in and the theater setting seemed to work naturally with the themes of the story. I felt that by making the staging obvious, the story was allowed to dominate and I didn't have to sit through the typical explanations of what's going on that would have slowed the pace of the movie. Plus, IT'S A METAPHOR DUDE. A beautiful Russian metaphor.

anna karenina poster

In addition to the gorgeous sets, you've got beautiful costume design (I found it really interesting that Anna wore black when she was "innocent" and white after she was a notorious adulterous--I thought that was a great way to demonstrate how appearances and reality never mesh with her) and perfect casting. I loved Matthew Macfadyen most especially, who plays Anna's brother, Oblonsky. He was hilarious! He was like Gaston's crazy uncle in Gigi, only Russian and married. It was great to see Macfadyen in a role where he wasn't being dour. I also loved Ruth Wilson as Princess Betsy. That is an awesome character!

As for Anna, I have SO MANY FEELS. For one, I LOVE her. I've seen other people call her selfish--and she is, especially at the end of the movie--but I also really admired her and thought that for most of the movie she was trying to make the best of a soul-sucking situation where she was miserable. But then on the other hand, I was also like, "Girrrrrrl, what were you thinking." I was totally with Anna up until right after she gave birth to her daughter. To me, this was the turning point in the movie, particularly when Aleksei asks her, "What do you want?" This is an honest question and deserves deep consideration, but I wasn't sure Anna knew what she wanted when she answered. She said she wanted Vronsky, but maybe she just wanted passion in her life. Of course, Aleksei's never going to give that to her; but on a practical level her decision to leave with Vronsky really made no sense. She loses everything for herself AND her child, and all she gains in return is him. Why would she choose Vronsky? And then the whole thing with them returning to Moscow and her INSISTING on trying to be accepted in society and going into a panic spiral when she's not... WHAT? Don't tell me you didn't see that coming, Anna. You had the guts to tell society to go fuck itself and I respected you for that; now have the balls to deal with the consequences. Basically I think Tolstoy fell in love with Anna as he was writing the book; but then he remembered he was trying to be moralizing, so he forced her to act in a way that made no sense in order to teach Team Vagina that if we cheat on our husbands, WE WILL DIE. PS, if you know of a 19th-century novel where the adulteress main character doesn't die, please let me know.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Vronsky
You know you want to lick that moustache.

Still, the central question of Anna Karenina seems to be, did Anna really love Vronsky? Not because if she did love Vronsky it would excuse her behavior, but because the message of the story is different depending on how you answer that question (I know we were spoon-fed a message about lust and all that, but I decided to ignore it). And honestly, I don't think it's a question that has a definitive answer. Personally, though, I believe Anna did love Vronsky, because unless he had some magical penis or something, I don't think Anna would give up her son just because she found a guy sexually attractive. Maybe her spiral into jealous crazy town was simply a result of her love not being shored up by faith and hope.

Anyway, even though I had some issues with the story itself, I thought Anna Karenina was a really, really good movie. I loved how stylized it was, while still being very emotional and focusing on the characters of the story. I haven't read the book, but I think this might be one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I've ever seen. I can't wait to watch it again.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bloggiesta Finish Line

bloggiesta finish line

Yet another Bloggiesta is over. This weekend I didn't get as much done as I'd planned. You know how sometimes it feels like the universe has some nefarious plot to keep you from getting anything done? That was pretty much my weekend. BUT. I did complete my first goal, catching up on my posts for the Liquid Persuasion blog. I wrote over 30 posts! It took foreverrrrrrr. I'm exhausted. But I'm glad I did it because it needed to be done.

I'm really glad there are events like Bloggiesta to give me a kick in the pants to get these housekeeping tasks done! How was your weekend?

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Bloggiesta Starting Line

bloggiesta starting line

Hello, everyone! It's that time again, when I devote more time than usual to fixing up things on la blahg for Bloggiesta, the blogging fiesta!

Here is my to-do list:

  • I really need to catch up on posts for Liquid Persuasion. I don't know why I get so far behind on that blog.
  • Update links on my resume.
  • I'm starting a new blog with Becca from Lost in Books and Tif from Tif Talks Books called Book Bloggers International, which has a planned launch date of April, so I'm going to do some stuff with that. Schedule posts, etc.
  • Maybe I'll write a few posts while I'm at it.

Anyway, those are my weekend plans! Plus working. What will you guys be up to?

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: A CONSPIRACY OF ALCHEMISTS by Liesel Schwarz

conspiracy of alchemists cover

Elle is an aeropilot willing to do a little smuggling on the DL if it means extra cash. When a French guy name Patrice asks her to take a box to England, however, she bites off more than she can chew and becomes embroiled in... can you guess? A CONSPIRACY OF ALCHEMISTS!

I know I swore off steampunk novels the last time I read one (and the time before that, I believe), but I didn't really clue into the fact that A Conspiracy of Alchemists was steampunk until I started it. I thought it was going to be a fantasy about alchemists set in Paris. Alchemy and Paris goes together like hot dogs and mustard (except I don't really like mustard, but anyway--it's a metaphor). Seriously, there's an entire book written about how the statues on Notre Dame are actually modeled after famous alchemists.

That wasn't this book, obviously. HOWEVER, A Conspiracy of Alchemists did start off really strong. I loved Elle and the setting, and the story was really fast-paced and interesting. Even the descriptions of the steampunky objects were less annoying than they usually are. I was thinking this might be the first steampunk novel I actually liked! And then... the romance started.

Anyone who knows me knows I love romantic subplots, but in the case of A Conspiracy of Alchemists, it was like hitting a brick wall in the believability department. It was SO. CHEESY. You see, in addition to the French guy, Patrice, there's an English guy who is 1. an aristocrat with 2. a dark secret, who 3. is kind of a jerk and pushes all the heroine's buttons. Yet she finds herself irresistibly attracted to him! Actually that wouldn't have even bothered me if I hadn't had to put with descriptions of his man musk and affecting stare and smirk, and everything else that I've read so many times I feel I could recite it. It was almost as if Liesel Schwarz wrote a steampunk novel and then took a generic Build Your Own Romance Novel template and just cut and pasted. No thought whatsoever!

In addition, after a while the story started to fall apart and feel really random, like there was too much going on ALL THE TIME. At some point in a book you want the plot to become less important and the characters to engage your interest, and that just didn't happen in A Conspiracy of Alchemists. I think because Elle has to behave so illogically for the "romance" to work that her character lost consistency. In any case, I stopped enjoying it and got really bored.

Alas and alack, yet another steampunk novel I don't get. But thank you to the publisher for giving me a copy to review!

Further Reading:

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Top Drinks by Lauren Clark

stardust summer cover

Today's post comes from Lauren Clark, author of Stardust Summer, through ABG Reads Book Tours. Welcome, Lauren!

The title of Stardust Summer is meant to conjure up warm thoughts about spending the day at the beach or on the shores of your favorite lake or river. It's the sort of day spent in a bikini, barefoot, laughing with a group of your best friends. The grill's fired up, the sun's getting low in the afternoon sky, and all of your favorite songs are playing on the radio.

What exactly would make the day just a little more perfect? A fun and flirty cocktail might taste refreshing after swimming and waterskiing. I'm talking about something tall and very cool rather than cozy. Nothing too sweet, with lots of ice, and a few bubbles too, to keep it fresh and zesty.

Check out these Top Ten drinks, perfect for any Stardust Summer day. (Most include alcohol, but many can be made without liquor!!)

1. The Bikini Martini - The name and vivid color make this a delicious summer cocktail. Half-fill a martini shaker with ice Just mix 3 ounces Bombay Sapphire gin, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, 
2 tbsp Blue Curacoa,
1 tbsp Peach Schnapps, and
 1 tsp confectioners' sugar. Shake for 30 seconds and pour through a strainer. Add a twist of lemon zest for garnish.

2. June Bug - Blend together 3 cups of Ginger Ale, 4 tablespoons of grenadine, 4 tablespoons of orange juice, and 3 scoops of orange sherbet. Serves 4. Add a splash of white rum for the "adult" version.

3. Frozen Mango Margarita - Throw it all into the blender, puree, and enjoy! One ten-ounce bag of frozen diced mango, 1/4 cup lime juice, 2/3 cup tequila, 2 tablespoons of orange liqueur, 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar, and 2 cups of ice water

4. Electric Lemonade - YUMMY and refreshing!! Blend together 1 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, 1 cup sparkling mineral water, dash ginger ale, 1 cup of vodka, and 2 cups of ice. Garnish with mint and thin lemon slices.

5. Hurricane - Perfect for parties. Add Passion Fruit Cocktail mix, lemon juice, dark rum to crushed ice. Decorate with orange slices and cherries.

6. Alabama Slammer - Okay, so Stardust Summer is set in Mississippi and New York....but this drink is too simple and delicious to skip over for this Top Ten Drink List! Just mix up 1 1/3 ounces of chilled Absolut Vodka in a glass and fill with ice-cold cranberry juice.

7. Zenzero - It's the subtle hint of ginger and honey that gives this drink a distinctive and refreshing flavor. Mix 1/8 ounce fresh ginger,
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice,
3/4 ounce honey syrup, and 2 ounces Tequila. Mix the ginger and lemon juice. Pour into a shaker filled with ice. Add tequila and honey syrup. Shake well and pour into the martini glass.

8. Gin Fizz - This takes some work, but is tasty and fun to drink! Combine 1 tbsp. powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. lime juice, 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, 2 drops orange flower water, and 1 egg white. Add: 1 whiskey glass sweet gin, 2 whiskey glasses of cream, and 2 whiskey glasses seltzer water, plus 1/2 a glass of crushed ice. Shake, strain, and drink.

9. Sangria - A traditional favorite that almost everyone will love. You'll need 1 bottle of white wine or blush Chablis, 1 two-liter bottle of club soda, 2 cups sugar, 3 oranges, thinly sliced, and 3 lemons, thinly sliced. Wash and slice the oranges and lemons. Discard seeds. Combine all ingredients (including lemon and orange juices) in a large container. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Serve over ice.

10. Pisco Sour - Delicious and so pretty in a glass! Mix up 1 cup Pisco (a South American brandy) or White Rum, 1 cup guava nectar, 2 TSP superfine sugar, 1/4 cup lime juice, with a splash of bitters. Add lime slices and mint leaves.

What is your favorite summertime drink? I'd love for you to share your recipe for the perfect afternoon cooler!

Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets.

A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What Would Jane Austen Do: Smellovision Edition

what would jane austen do?

One of the cheesiest things I encounter in romance novels are descriptions of how the characters smell. It always throws me straight out of the story.

The problem with scent descriptions is that they're usually utterly meaningless and add nothing to the book. They're like unnecessary clothing descriptions, but with a 100% higher chance of grossing me out. Sure, scent is part of REAL LIFE. But this isn't real life, this is a book. A book where I cannot smell any of the shit you're cooking. So unless that smell you smell is adding something the story, let's file it under Do Not Need to Know.

Examples of scent descriptions with comments par moi:

  • "He smelled of paper and printer ink." Aha! This guy clearly works in an office. What a clever way to convey that information.
  • "He smelled of gingerbread cookies with a hint of lemon." First of all, YUM. Second of all, is he some sort of baker? Can I snack on him? I want to know more!
  • "He leaned forward, and she caught a whiff of manly essence." Ooookay WHAT. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? Because when I think of manly essence I think about how guys are stinky and sweaty and gross and I do NOT want that in a romance novel, TYVM. And furthermore, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Seriously, do you even know what you're saying right there, or is just the lazy person's way of trying to convince me this guy's attractive without coming up with anything that's even remotely attractive about him other than his MANLY yet STRANGELY NONSPECIFIC animal MUSK.

If scent descriptions were mostly of the first two examples' variety, I wouldn't have a major problem with them. Unfortunately, they're usually of the last variety, and quite honestly it's getting to ridiculous levels at this point.

Question: what did Mr. Darcy smell like? Did Lizzie, at any point in P&P, mention Darcy's manly essence? Or what about Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre? The answer is, no. You don't know what either of these iconic romantic heroes smelled like because the authors didn't mention it, and THANK GOD FOR THAT.

Here's my basic argument: scents may be a part of memory and sexual attraction, but they're not romantic. Ergo, if scent is in my romance novel, it should be there to convey specific information, and not be couched in ridiculous sex-scene-style metaphors of the manly essences and fragrant gardens, you feel me? Would you say a guy smelled like manly essence to your girlfriends? No, they would laugh in your face. So don't type it into your novel. And when in doubt, ask yourself: would Jane Austen do this? If the answer is no, take a good long look in the mirror and then DON'T DO IT. Please.

Further Reading:

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

TSS-Happy Middle Name Day!

that's not my name

Hello, Saloners! Did you know it's National Middle Name Day? Did you know there was such a thing as Middle Name Day? Well, now you do. In honor of Middle Name Day, I thought I'd list some interesting author middle names (most of which I found on TV Tropes, which has a mind-boggingly extensive list).

  • CS Lewis' initials stood for Clive Staples. He went by Jack.
  • Lewis' buddy JRR Tolkien's full name was John Ronald Reuel, pronounced Raoul. Surprisingly hot for Tolkien. Of course, he went by Ron.
  • The famous poet Rainer Maria Rilke's full name was Rene Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke.
  • Erich Maria Remarque, author of All Quiet on the Western Front, legally changed his name. Originally it was Erich Paul Remark.
  • Arthur Conan-Doyle's middle name was Ignatius.

Book characters can have unusual middle names, too:

  • Lord Peter Wimsey's middle name is Death. This is actually a legitimate surname, although most people who have it usually spell it like the Belgian town of de'Ath.
  • The Wizard of Oz's original name was, "Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs, Diggs being the last name because he [Oz's father] could think of no more to go before it... When I grew up I just called myself O. Z., because the other initials were P-I-N-H-E-A-D; and that spelled 'pinhead,' which was a reflection on my intelligence."
  • Bertie Wooster's middle name is Wilberforce, which he finds very embarrassing.
  • JK Rowling doesn't have a middle name, but she does give her characters middle names. A reader once asked her if Nymphadora Tonks hated her first name so much, why didn't she go by her middle name instead of Tonks. Rowling replied her middle name was Vulpecula, which Tonks hated even more than Nymphadora.

For more odd middle names:

Do you have a middle name? Mine is Kersten (pronounced care-stin, because it's German). My mom told me she got it from a calendar of saints' feast days, although I've been told by several people there is no saint named Kersten. Also, my mom is Lutheran, so where did she find a saints' calendar? In any case, I like it.

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Friday, March 8, 2013

It's Not Your Mother's Book, But Are You Your Mother?

mom issues

Random pet peeve time! One marketing line I hate is "It's not your mother's romance novel." Here's why:

1. Way to be outdated, publishers. I don't know if you've noticed this (I say that to be polite; you clearly haven't), but my generation isn't as anti-parental, never-trust-anyone-over-thirty as the Baby Boomers were. You see how we tend to bring back their fashions and listen to their music and all that? So unless you're trying to sell to Baby Boomers with that phrase--and, if you are, fair enough--that might not be the best marketing tactic.

2. Romance novels aren't cell phones. They haven't really evolved all THAT much in the last forty years, so I'm not sure what the quantifiable difference between one generation's romance novel and another's would look like. And don't say Fifty Shades, because my mom was way more into that book than I was.

3. I like old books.

4. My mom and I basically read the same books.

5. This whole generalized mother issues thing is coming from a sexist and stereotyped place, you do know that? I had a professor in college who was always saying offensive things (he had tenure), and one of the things he told us once was that women are terrified of becoming their mothers, even though they ALWAYS do, and that was the secret to understanding female psychology. Obviously he was a Freudian. But the point is, that's a gross oversimplification of a complex familial relationship; and helloooooo Freud lived a hundred years ago and knew shit-all about women to begin with. So maybe we could stop using these ideas as the baseline for thinking about and relating to women. I'm not going to magically turn into my mother anymore than my body will magically repel rape sperm.

What marketing phrases get on your nerves?

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: DEFENDING THE DUCHESS by Rachelle McCalla

Proposed alternate title: Crossing the Line with the Duchess (it is said twice)

defending the duchess cover

Julia is visiting her sister, an American who married into the royal family of a very obscure country in Central Europe named, for some reason, after Elizabeth Bennet's flighty sister. Anyway, now that her sister is a queen, Julia is slated to become a royal duchess--if she survives long enough to make it to the ceremony! Fortunately, she has a bodyguard with the unlikely name of Linus to keep her safe. Nothing's sexier than safe!

Defending the Duchess started out pretty good, with Julia almost immediately being abducted and Linus chasing after her. Very exciting! Buuuuuuut then the book became all about finding out who attempted to kidnap Julia and why, and it had something to do with engines, and I just really did not care. The less I know about the MacGuffin the better, and unfortunately Defending the Duchess was 90% blah blah blah about engines and legal documents and cars. Snoresville, especially since it seemed like the author didn't know a whole lot about any of those things.

I can understand why there was so much about the MacGuffin, though, because without it the book would have been fifty pages! There was no character development at all and very little romance. Julia was the most bizarrely weak character, both physically and emotionally, that I have come across in a long time. Maybe ever. She bangs her shin and is completely unable to walk; she gets a phone call from the baddy bad guy and "whimpers"; and whenever one tiny thing goes wrong she has an emotional breakdown and can't deal. I'm not saying I'm a rock or anything, but how on earth did she make it through law school if she faints at every sign of conflict?

Also, the writing was super-stilted. When Defending the Duchess first started I found it a bit hilarious ("The handsome guard's chivalrous actions;" "Julia caught a whiff of a manly scent;" "Were all royal guards so perfectly sweet and attentive? Julia couldn't recall a time when she'd felt so pampered;" "Julia felt her heart warm a little more for the thoughtful guard;" etc. etc.), but after a while it started to wear on me, especially when there was nothing interesting going on in the story.

I'm not sure why I kept reading, except that I'm a sucker for Ruritanian romances and I kind of liked Linus (even if I did think of the movie Sabrina every time I saw his name and reflect on how that's the most inappropriate name for a bodyguard ever). I skimmed through most of it, I'm not going to lie, and was pretty relieved when it was over. Nevertheless, I might consider reading the next book in the series, even though I have no idea what other relatives King Thaddeus and company are going to dig out of the US.

ETA: Oh, oops! I forgot to add, I got a copy of this book from the publisher for free on Netgalley. Thanks, publisher!

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Why I Don't Read Literary Fiction: A Case Study

bel canto cover

I started Bel Canto at the beginning of February and I'm not here to say it isn't amazing. There's a quote on the cover of my copy that says it's "its own universe," and that is a completely accurate statement. When you're reading it, you're completely immersed in the world of the book. Ann Patchett's writing style is lyrical and beautiful, and it's a really really good novel.

So then why do I have such trouble picking it up again after I put it down?

It's not because there's no plot, because there is a plot; and it's not because the story's boring because how can a story about people being held hostage be boring? It's not boring. I just feel no investment in the outcome of this situation and have no curiosity about what will happen next.

I seriously think there's something about my brain that only responds to genre novels. Like I'm really only interested in genre novels, have been ever since I was a kid, and if a book doesn't fit into a certain genre I don't even know how to approach it. What's a story even supposed to be about if it doesn't fit into genre? That's the question.

Maybe I'm just not used to dealing with literary fiction and I need patience to work through Bel Canto. It would probably be worth it; but it's a library book, so I might not finish before it's due. Clearly I don't have a lot of motivation here.

Is there a type of book that you struggle with?

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