Bookit Review: The Girl I Used to Know

Title:  The Girl I used to know
Bookit #11
Author: Faith Hogan
Release Date:  2017
Medium: Kindle Unlimited Ebook

I found this book on the Kindle Unlimited service while looking for something different to read.  This book actually was better than I anticipated.  For one thing, the romance of the book was minor and almost a background story point. THe main focus on the story is the two main characters whose POV switches back and forth.

Amanda King is a forty-something mother of two who has suppressed her dreams to help her husband get ahead in his career.  Throughout the book she is forced to see how little of herself remained after all these years, and start to live on her own terms again.

Tess Cuffe,  a sixty something women who lives in Amanda’s basement has her own issues.  She had a falling out with her sister forty years before and never really allowed herself to get over it.  She is forced to reevaluate her life as well. 

This story is as much about friendship then any romance.  It has a happy ending for both Amanda and Tess, but its focused on them, and not their romances.  It’s a good story, although sometimes I felt the sentences were a little stagnant.  I definitely recommend this book and gave it a B+

The only issue I had with this book is that Richard and Douglas both made me want to throw my kindle.  Particularly Douglas and his “a girl like Tess.”.  He leads Tess on, and then blames her for everything and convinces her sister of the same.  Richard is a little easier to handle, though the way he tries to manipulate Amanda into what he wanted in a wife also is hard to take at times.

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Bookit Review: Love Bites

Title: Love Bites
Bookit #10
Author: Skye Turner & Amanda Lanclos
Release Date:  November 11 2017
Medium: Kindle E-book  (Kindle Unlimited)

When I spotted this book on the ‘You May Like’ list, I thought it sounded cute and decided to read it.  It sat in the not-read pile for awhile but I finally got down to reading it this month…and I was disappointed.

The book description warns you that it is a book for adult readers.  Normally this doesn’t bother me as I am an of age reader.  However, by the end of the book it was too much.  The book was almost all sex scenes, with very little plot.  What little plot there was wasn’t very good and the whole book comes out as a shallow story.  While I don’t mind the occasional love scene, I prefer it to compliment the story, not be the entire story.

The story at first seemed to have some merit, but it soon stopped being a story.  It jumps time with no warning, and most of the non-sex scenes are just a few paragraphs leading to a new sex scene.  And I didn’t think they were written all that well.

I don’t know if it was perhaps the 1st person narration (Done with two characters alternating) or the fact that it just seemed rushed and nothing holding it together.  Either way, this book gets a strong C-.  I feel it could do alot better if they had added more to the plot so it didn’t seem like out of nowhere at the end, and developed the characters a little more so I actually cared about what was going on.

I may give the authors another chance individually, but I don’t see myself continuing this series when they do continue it. The other reviewers on Goodreads apparently disagree with me, so perhaps it was just me.

Ship & Let Ship

This post is actually linked to my last writing post.  The villainization of characters is a common trait among ship wars, and that is a part of today’s post.

Fandom in general is a fun, happy place for people to join together and enjoy something.  Be it a sport, a book, a movie or a TV show. If it’s a collection of fans of something, its a fandom.

However, particularly in the fictional work driven fandoms (Tv, books, movies etc) there is a dark element that pops up from time to time.  It’s called a Ship War. A ship, for those who are wondering, is a term for a pairing you prefer to see in a relationship. Most people have ships and have no problems letting others have their own ships.  Some, however, do seem to have a problem and make fandom less friendly, less happy and less enjoyable.

My first experience with a ship war was in the Doctor Who fandom.  I was late to the game, having watched but not been sucked in till I rewatched season 1 of the second series (or Nine’s tenure if you prefer) after catching an episode of Torchwood and Season 2 of Doctor Who.  I found myself really enjoying it, and immediately started shipping Rose/Doctor. I found that the Doctor Who fandom is thriving and has many little niches and sub fandoms. There was a lot out there, from fanfic, to fan made videos, and academic meta.  You can find a lot.

But one day, while surfing through various social media and fanfic sites, I started noticing something.  A strange undercurrent in the fandom. It turned out there was a division in shippers who prefered Rose and those who prefered Martha, his next companion, as a romantic interest.  I personally love Martha, though I found her season a little hard to watch. I found fanfics where either Martha was downgraded to a women who clung and became obsessed with the Doctor, totally ignoring the kickass character you saw on-screen or Rose likewise turned into a caricature of her characterization.  It just depended on what the author/video editor decided was the ship of choice. People took it further than that, and it made me back off for a while and want to rant about the fandom.

Sherlock, a television series based on Sherlock Holmes, was another fandom I saw this in.  However this fandom war made me completely drop the fandom. It made me uncomfortable enough that I have yet to go back and watch the show after season 2.  In particular one following of a ship decided to not only be horrible to other fans, they were horrible to actors whose character had, in their point of view, got in the way of their ship.

More recently I have come across a shipper war in The 100 fandom.  I came into the show, enjoying it. I liked the show, liked the books.  I was (and still am) a Bellarke (Bellamy & Clarke) shipper. I could argue why I felt they were the endgame couple.  On the screen, Clarke and Bellamy both had various other love interests. In particular, Clarke fell in love with Lexa, a character I didn’t care  for that much due to some writing issues. However I saw shippers on both side go to extremes to fight each other on it. Bellarke fans would exaggerate Lexa’s bad qualities, and Clexa shippers would state that Bellarke shippers were homophobic (whether they are or not as individuals can be debated.  It’s a poor generalization of a ship following however). They threw petty insults towards each other, but not in a fun “we all love each other anyway” sort of way. To the point I avoid the main 100 threads and tags because I’m always finding something happening.  And I’m not alone. I have heard stories from various fandoms where someone choose to leave or just stick to very specific tags because of overall tension due to a ship war.

There is a difference between good-hearted debate between shippers and shipper wars.  I have had conversations with my friends who have had different ships. For example, one of my best friends and I often disagree on shipping Jack & Gwen in Torchwood.  It’s good-natured debate. I have several friends who ultimately hate Trip/T’Pol from Star Trek: Enterprise. Yet when I write it/talk about it, they shrug and it’s the same when they talk about their prefered ship (Trip & Hoshi is a popular one).  The point is – we ship and let ship. We have our ships, our OTPS, our crackships and our “they are cute, so maybe” ships. They aren’t always the same. But we enjoy the same fandom, enjoy our friendships and our mutual love for whatever it is we are fanning.   We don’t go warring against each other over a disagreement with a ship. We don’t attack the actors who are just doing their job for getting in the way. We don’t let our shipping take over our lives, and our fandom enjoyment.

If you do not like a ship, do not read it.  Don’t write it. Treat your fellow fandomers with respect, and let others ship what they want to ship.  Yelling at them won’t change their mind, abusing them certainly won’t, and abusing characters in your writing will just make people avoid it.  It can also make people just peeking into the fandom run away from it.

If you don’t like a type of ship (be it slash, femslash, or het) don’t click on fics that use it.  Don’t target authors who write a ship you hate and give them bad reviews. I actually had this happen to me as a writer.  I saw a review, and got excited that someone had taken the time to leave one. When I opened the review up, I found a rant on how my couple was disgusting and how I should be ashamed to ship them. I was bewildered, and I know of others who have gotten similar reviews.  Once a friend and I decided to do a fic exchange. I wrote (well, am writing as I never finished it….meep!) a Jack/Ianto fic while she wrote a Jack/Gwen fic. She got a review that called her a homophobe for writing a bisexual character with a woman. Beyond the fact that it wasn’t even changing the sexuality of the character, it was confusing as to why this person took the time to seek out a Jack/Gwen fic and berate someone.  

So in the end, enjoy your ships and let other people enjoy their own.  Fandom is supposed to be fun, not somewhere someone is made to feel uncomfortable, or berated.

 

Bookit Review: Smooth Talking Stranger

Title: Smooth Talking Stranger (Travis series #3)
Bookit #9
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Release Date:  2010
Medium: Kindle E-book

Smooth Talking Stranger is the third of four books in the Travis series by Lisa Kleypas.  This story focuses on Ella, a woman who finds herself suddenly the guardian of her sister’s infant son.  Like the other books in this series, the main character has some dysfunctional relationships and issues they have to overcome to end up happily ever after.

I think this novel is not quite as good as the previous two, but still is better pacing wise and depth wise then the fourth novel, which apparently came out years after the rest of the series.  I don’t think the issues that Ella face are dealt with.  Dane, her boyfriend, is a bit too laid-back a character. Some of the other minor characters are rather two-dimensional and not memorable at all which was a let down, as other books had such memorable secondary characters.

I did have an issue with some of the macho-man stuff that has come across in this book.  It was in the other two, but perhaps because I read three books within 48 hours it just stood out more to be here.  It also reuses the love triangle plot line where the woman in question has to decide between her ex and her current interests and the guy insists that she not sleep with him simply because she is theirs.  The possessive part bothers me, especially when it’s followed by sex and then the guy ignoring his significant other after she meets up with the ex to determine where to go.

Perhaps its the formula-like of it within the series or it, or perhaps the questionable relationship if you can’t trust that your significant other would choose you.

That being said, it was an enjoyable read.

Bookit Review: Blue-Eyed Devil

Title: Blue-Eyed Devil (Travis series #2)
Bookit #8
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Release Date:  2008
Medium: Kindle E-book

WARNING:  This novel covers topics that may cause triggering effects on those who suffered from physical or mental abuse.

Blue-eyed Devil is the second novel in the Travis Series by Liza Kleypas.  I was looking forward to this book, because Hardy had been one of my favorite characters in the first book I read, Brown-Eyed Girl, and he is the hero in this novel after being the one who lost in book 1, Sugar Daddy.

The main character in this novel is Haven Travis, the youngest sibling of the Travis Clan.  It starts soon after the closing of Sugar Daddy in that they are attending Liberty and Gage (the couple from book 1)’s wedding.  It is there she meets Hardy, and it leaves a lasting impression on her.

This book is a little different from romance novels that I have seen in the past, because it involves a couple who faced domestic abuse.  It also deals with the problems children who have faced domestic abuse might have as adults.  I was glad to see that for the most part Haven ends up saving herself, rather than her love interest.  Often times I have seen this written as a ploy to get the two main characters together, and in this novel it’s not.  She is also allowed to get help when she needs it, and not having it forced on her or denied her like some narratives are prone to do.

In fact, their romance, baring the moment at the wedding, doesn’t even start till after Haven removes herself from the abusive relationship.  It also doesn’t look down on therapy, and has really good sibling relationships.  One of the stronger themes in this series is the relationships between the main character (always female) and her siblings.  Book one was about Liberty and her sister Carrington.  This is about Haven and her relationship with her brothers.  Brown-Eyed Girl (book 4) is about Avery and her half-sister Sophia.

This series also has a good record in showing mixed families.  Not everyone’s family is perfect, and not every perfect family is a bad family.  There are single parents, distant parents, parents who were both there, and parents who realised they couldn’t care for their children so they gave them up for adoption.

I also found this relatable because I have dealt with people who are narcissistic in nature, and I have seen the problems they cause for the people around them. I’m not sure I believe the therapist in this story who says abusers are always narcissistic.

Overall, I give this a A, because it had good pacing, the main character manages to save herself half the time, and people deal with their issues instead of having instant cures. However, this book has references to domestic abuse, both physical and mental, as well as rape.  Therefore I suggest you avoid this one if any of those subjects might be triggering for you.

Bookit Review: Sugar Daddy

​​Title: Sugar Daddy (Travis Series #1)
Bookit #7
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Release Date:  2007
Medium: Kindle E-book

A few weeks ago I reviewed a book called Brown Eyed Girl.  I found out later that the novel was in fact the last book in a four book series about the Travis Siblings.  The first book in the series was Sugar Daddy and was focused on Liberty Jones, a woman who grew up poor and ended up having to raise her baby sister.  She gets torn between her first love – Hardy Cates, and the man she has started falling for – Gage Travis.

I like this book better than Brown-Eyed Girl because it seems to have more details and more consistent pacing. Liberty’s story has a strong backstory.  I had to admit I found the fact that Gage didn’t show up till about 2/3 thorugh the story odd for a romance, but it put more emphasis on it being Liberty’s story.  She’s the narrator (and its in first person) and the story is more about her moving on.  Given the information in the ‘description’ I thought both Gage and Hardy would have showed up more then they did.

Reading this novel was helpful in improving my thoughts on Brown-Eyed Girl simply because some of the information I found lacking in that novel gets explained in this one (and the two others).  So while each book can stand its own, its a good idea to read the series in order to get the full story.

Final Grade:  B+

Bookit Review: Brown-Eyed Girl

Title: Brown Eyed-Girl
Bookit #6
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Release Date:  2015
Medium: Large Print Hardback

My grade: B

I found this book on a stroll through Ollies, a discount surplus store with a huge book section. I thought the summary on the back looked interesting and got it.  My first reaction was surprise at just how huge the large print was.  It seemed bigger than the usual large format I’ve seen in the past, but its been awhile so I could have been wrong.  I found it actually takes a bit to get used to the different size when you aren’t used to it.

This book apparently is the fourth book in a series about the Travis family.  I wasn’t aware of that before I read it, so that might have affected how I read the book.  There seemed to be bits that seemed rather shallow and under developed and that might just have been because the assumption was you’ve read the previous three books.   The book overall was not bad.  The story focuses on Avery, a fashion designer turned event planner who focuses on Weddings.  She is a bit guarded due to a really bad break-up and the memory of her father’s tendency to never stay committed.  Joe Travis wants to change her mind on relationships, but he can only do so much.  With Joe and Sophie (her sister)’s help she ends up finding more confidence in herself and allowing herself to open up and trust others.  It does have its clichéd moments, but then what romance novel doesn’t?

I think I may try to read the earlier books and see if it changes my mind on the book.   Till then its a good light read.