What Neva Read in September: TMI, Too Many Fluids, and Too Much Sex (?!)

Yesterday Lila weighed in on what she’d read this month. Today’s Neva’s turn, and she’s not terribly happy.

Bad month. Bad bad bad. Eff you, Lila, for nabbing the good picks. My first was Virgin, by Radhika Sanghani. That one made me angry. I laughed a couple of times, but more often (sooo often) I cringed at the over-sharing. I’m okay with over-sharing as a rule, so it has to be bad. Yeep, the details. I think this was meant to let young girls know, in a funny and blunt way, that it’s normal to be confused about sexuality and to maybe not really be sexual until after your teens, but the heroine spent most of the book whining that she was a freak of nature because she was a twenty-one-year-old virgin, so it sent hugely negative messages for a looong time until the positive messages finely seeped out. In the meantime, most of the jokes felt flat. On the plus side (or not, depending on how traumatic your recollection of those years is), a lot of it felt really authentic to me, specifically all the embarrassing bits and the ones in which Ellie obsessed over guys who were definitely not worth obsessing over. So for accuracy, it gets points. This came close to working in many ways, but missed a whole bunch of marks. Continue reading

What Lila Read in September: Beekeepers, Billionaire Geeks, and Butt Crack

In an effort to control the chaos of our lives, we’re limiting our review posts to one each per month. Here’s what Lila read:

My first read in September was Truly by Ruthie Knox. It’s no secret that we adore Ruthie and everything she does, and I especially was looking forward to this book since she previewed it on Wattpad earlier in the year. There are a lot of things to love: a normal-sized girl in an impossible situation, a cranky guy who’s an urban beekeeper, and unlikely but undeniable chemistry. And there are also messages — sooo many messages.

First off, I realize by writing “normal-sized girl,” I’m making an issue of something that shouldn’t be an issue. But there you have it: it is actually an issue, just as it is in film and television and magazine depictions, and it’s extremely relevant to this story. Moving on. Continue reading

Review: Screwdrivered by Alice Clayton

Any Alice Clayton book is met by me with ridiculous expectations, but I didn’t know what to expect from Screwdrivered. Because it’s not a standalone, being part of her Cocktail series, but it’s not really about those people. Its protagonist made a couple of brief appearances in Rusty Nailed, and she rather unsettled our friend Caroline in the process. So we don’t really know what to think of her, except we have some vague recollection that her style and her familiarity with Simon stand out.

This is kind of a splendid thing, this not-knowingness. We have the proven awesomeness of Alice Clayton combined with a whole new world of possibilities. But still, that Viv person was kind of suspicious, wasn’t she?

Well, turns out Viv is amazing (of course she is), and Simon and Caroline barely intrude (meaning only that this book can stand all on its own, but more on that later), and I’m in love all over again. This time with Clark.

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What We’re Reading: End of Summer (Gah!) Catch-All (Part 2)

Hey! We’ve been on a bit of a hiatus this summer, and that’s not really going to change, but we have been reading, of course, so we thought we’d catch you up a bit on all that. Which Neva did yesterday. Today it’s Lila’s turn:

I’ve been doing some retro reading, and read The Fatal Crown, by Ellen Jones, and Wait for Me, by Mary Kay McComas , both provided by Open Road Media’s Retro Reader program. The Fatal Crown is a fictionalized account of the battle between Stephen and Maud for the English throne in the twelfth century. The premise of the book is that Stephen and Maud were not only rivals, but also lovers, an unlikely and unsubstantiated rumour, but one that makes for a great story. My review is on Goodreads, right here.

Wait for Me was written in the 1990s, just like The Fatal Crown, but was a contemporary romance set in the 1990s. Two star-crossed lovers keep finding each other through the ages, but the story is really about them finding each other now. One is a broke foster child who works selflessly for several charities, and the other is a high-finance heir and mamma’s boy. Despite their disparate personalities and circumstances, the attraction is undeniable from the start. The premise that starts the book is thin and barely alluded to and the sex scenes over-the-top purple, but the romance is lovely and the 90s allusions are fun, in retrospect. Check out my Goodreads review here.

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What We’re Reading: End of Summer (Gah!) Catch-All (Part 1)

Hey! We’ve been on a bit of a hiatus this summer, and that’s not really going to change, but we have been reading, of course, so we thought we’d catch you up a bit on all that. Here are Neva’s updates:

I read Ilsa Madden-Mills’s Briarcrest Academy series thus far: Very Bad Things and Very Wicked Things (plus its prequel novella — le sigh — Very Wicked Beginnings). The series is about students at a posh Dallas private school. Very Bad Things is about a brainy and beautiful senior who is ready to rebel and has a to-do list of things that will get her tyrannical mom’s back up and bury her flawless reputation. The older brother of a new classmate is fascinated by the downward spiral she’s intent on pursuing and can’t decide whether to fix her or let the barely legal girl alone.

This story was interesting enough, but my biggest problem was that the personality of the heroine, Nora, was hard to pinpoint. Which makes sense, since it’s in flux, or she wants it to be. But I felt that she was always true to herself, except that self was a bit of a muddle and contradictory. Much like this review so far… Anyways, I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I liked her strength, I didn’t buy it. Much like I didn’t buy the intense passion between Leo and Nora. And I wanted them to be more uncomfortable with the age difference, for that to be more of a barrier. Maybe just more reflection on stuff. There’s lots of thinking and angsting over a few specific topics, but many other big things happen with very little insight into why or how or what the consequences might be. I guess Nora’s inconsistency is symptomatic of the novel in general, but I still enjoyed it to some extent.

Very Wicked Things actually starts in the prequel novella, Very Wicked Beginnings. Which is free, but still. Cue rant about how unnecessary these things are. I get that they’re great marketing tools, but it’s not hard to also put that material in the story that it’s actually a part of. We’re smart; we’ll skip it if we’ve already read it. But it’s also not hard to put a helpful note in at the beginning to guide us. You know what is hard? Wiping ye bum with a hook for a hand is haaarrrd. Also, keeping track of all these bloody series books and what should be read when.

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Review: Harder by Robin York

I didn’t review Deeper, the first in this new adult series by Robin York, also known as Ruthie Knox. I just read it because I really really wanted to and because I love the author and because I needed something else from new adult. And I’m glad I did, because Deeper changed my life.

Hyperbole! Which I’m sure is what the author thought when I told her this in person. But it’s not quite. Because it saved the genre for me after I’d thrown my lot in with it professionally and then read a ton and then began to lose hope. Deeper combined thoughtful writing with all the sexual tension you could possibly want and the added bonus of intelligent, necessary messages. Necessary because the readers of new adult may be all over the age map, but the intended audience is quite specific. And I think if I’d read these two books at that age, I would have discovered some important things about myself sooner. Reading these books now, I’ve learned there are still some things I need to discover within myself.

Harder picks up a couple of months after Deeper left off. West has left college to go home and watch out for his sister, now that his abusive, drunken father has returned. He’s put emotional and physical distance between him and Caroline in an attempt to get her to accept the fact that he’s not returning, that he never should have been there in the first place, that Silt is where he belongs and where she definitely does not. But one night during summer break, Caroline gets a call from West, and she leaves for Oregon. Continue reading

Review: Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan

Last summer, Dr. Sean O’Neil and Élise, the French chef at his family’s Vermont resort Snow Crystal, got busy in a meadow. Scratchy. And crazy wild. And not something either of them has dwelled on since. Nope, not at all. No matter how fucktastic the experience was. Because neither of them does relationships.

So Élise is Sean’s dream girl, in that she has no illusions she’ll ever be his. So she’s not the reason he’s been avoiding Snow Crystal and his family, immersing himself in his work as an orthopedic surgeon in Boston. That would be his family, specifically his grandfather Walter, who never lets up on the guilt. Anyone who doesn’t want to spend every moment of their lives in Snow Crystal clearly doesn’t deserve his respect, after all. Family and home is everything to Walter. To Sean, it’s work.

But when Walter has a heart attack, Sean rushes right home to be with his family. And he finds himself coming to Élise’s rescue too. The sexual tension between them is as insane as ever, but Élise’s mission in life is to protect her heart, so she pushes Sean away when he tries to convince her a two-night stand wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

In the meantime, Sean’s dealing with the tension between him and his grandfather. Élise has loads of advice in that regard and has no problem berating Sean about the situation any chance she gets.

Suddenly Last Summer is a follow-up to the hugely popular Sleigh Bells in the Snow. People went nuts over that book. As averse as I am to Christmas stories, I went nuts over it. You don’t have to have read it to get into this one, but I totally recommend doing so. First, because it’s such a great read. Second, because you’ll probably feel a bit more kindly towards Élise if you do. Continue reading