Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: SEX, LIES, AND CRUISING by Cathryn Chapman

In an effort to get away from London and a cheating fiancé, Ellie impetuously takes a job on a cruise ship. No place better to find a sexy fling than aboard ship, I say.

Right away, she meets Seth, the "Grecian god."

Unfortunately, life on a boat is not as exciting as one would think, especially if all you do is drink, dance, and sleep with the first guy your finger lands on. "Basically, I’d been on board for about five minutes, downed drinks like a university student, and jumped right into bed with a virtual stranger. The fact that he also happened to be a colleague I’d see daily for the next six months only made things worse." (13)

Mundane and somewhat predictable, this story did not intrigue me as much as I thought. I'm sure this would be considered a fun, flirty, beach read, but it just wasn't quite for me.

My rating: 2 stars

Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: PERFECT SEX by Robin Storey

Susie is a middle-aged mother seeking companionship--or maybe she was just looking to get laid as the story is called Perfect Sex.

Actually, the story line goes that this woman is going to write a book about her online dating experiences as a guide for women over 40.

The book didn't start off all that great for me as all the character talked about was the unfulfilled marriage, her non-existent sex life, and the weird sex toys she's never tried. It practically played out like an episode of Hot in Cleveland or Sex in the City--two shows I'm not particularly fond of.  The characters didn't appeal to me so much, and I found the subject matter and general execution to be trivial and daunting.

Although the initial premise was alluring, I just couldn't get into this book.

 My rating: 2 stars

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review: MOMS ARE NUTS: A collection of essays & stories by various authors

Emmy winners, magazine editors, comedians, TV personalities, bestselling authors and social media superstars team up to bring you a laugh-out-loud book not about being a mom, but about having a mom, grandmom or mom-figure. And while it's not OK for someone else to make yo-momma jokes about your momma, it is perfectly healthy — even downright hilarious — to find the humor in your own upbringing. In fact, these writers highly recommend it. So if you think your mom is nuts, pull up a chair. You're in good company.

My thoughts: I have a mom, who I love to death, but, let’s face it: she’s also nuts. That’s why I wanted to read this book—to know that others share my pain. (Just kidding, Ma!)

In “The Boots,” Eliza Bayne recalls the time her mother bought her the most embarrassing boots at a flea market. Of course, she was bound to insist she wear them on a snowy day. It was a cute tale.

“Mothers are full of momtradictions—behavior that does not match up with their own philosophies on life (you can call it hypocrisy, but they you had better be ready to send an apology greeting card.)” (Loc 679) This is actually true!

Although relatable in many ways, the stories were not as funny as I expected. I didn’t anticipate laughing so hard that milk would come out of my nose, but I expected to chuckle a few times at least. They were mildly amusing at best. They were just: “Eh.”

My God did these writers like to ramble on and on. I wouldn’t say that these moms are nuts; they’re just boring.  This book was such a disappointment.

I should’ve written for this instead. Being raised by a Mexican mama, I have loads of stories.

My rating: 2 stars

Friday, July 17, 2015

Review: MY FAKE FIANCE by Lisa Scott


What I like best about Lisa Scott’s stories is that they are clean romances; her stories concentrate more on the deeper lover rather than the physical lust. And I’m glad to say that this was another good one.

This story was just a repeat of movies like The Wedding Date and, of course, My Fake Fiancé, with the same premise—two people trying to fool family/friends with a sham engagement and, accidentally, falling in love in the process.

For Sam, this all begins when she is invited to her frenemy’s wedding. Eek! How perfect that she happened to hire an actor to play the part of her fiancé. But it turns out that Justin was indeed perfect in far more ways than one, especially when it was indicated that “It’s very important to see how a man treats the other women in his life.” (109) SO TRUE!

Filled with smart and witty commentary within the POV’s of both Sam and Justin, this is a sweet, well-written romance.
My rating: 5 stars

Review: SECOND CHANCE by Lisa Scott

What’s worse than losing a boyfriend? Losing a rich boyfriend.

Chelsea keeps kicking herself for letting Trip McCall get away in high school. Of course, it wasn’t his millions she was missing—it was him. She basically regrets dumping him for not wanting to make something of himself. Well, I guess he showed her!

But it seemed that she might have a second chance with Trip as they plan their 10-year high school reunion. Reunions: a chance for looking back and to re-live regret. Since high school, many people ended up in a place they’d never thought they’d be. For Chelsea, working as a receptionist was not in her plans when she obtained that medical degree. But will she jump at her second chance?

Is it normal to pine for someone for 10 years? Isn’t it a little insane? Is it even possible?

The best advice came from Chelsea’s grandfather.

“No regrets—now that’s the secret to a good life.” (371)

“Life’s an exciting gift, and you’re not willing to open it.” (497)

The story is smart and witty. A nice, quick romantic short.
My rating: 4 stars

Review: FLIRTS by Lisa Scott (5 Romantic Short Stories)

1.       “The Hot Girl’s Friend” -

Jane has always looked out for her friend, Miranda, by taking on the role of “the hot girl’s friend.” Her job is to weed out the single guys and dismiss all the losers, but she does it in such a smart-ass way. She called it “creative protection.”

Jane claimed that looks are what guys are interested in, until bartender Brady, the Ryan Reynolds look-alike, proves her wrong.


2.       “Wrong Place, Right Guy” –

Right away, the story grabs you with a frightful attack on our heroine, then sexy Tony comes to the rescue. But Tony seems to be the real danger as he somehow seeps into Kristen’s heart. Can they overcome the prejudice of their friends and family?


3.       “Not You” –

A one-night stand with a professional womanizer may prove to be the best thing our girl needed before her mom’s wedding. Who knew she’d be hitting it off with the groom’s son? Ewe! Scandalous!


4.       “Desperately Seeking Cupid” –

Sitting with a bunch of old ladies at a wedding can be depressing and boring. Why was everyone bugging Brianna to meet someone? Why would feng-shui in her apartment bring on a guy? Brianna is so desperate that she’ll try anything.


5.       “Never been dumped” –

Rachel wants to go out with a man to get dumped because she has always hated being the dumper. Weird lady.


The stories were witty and funny. All these characters had the same generic appearance, however, with their blonde hair. I suspected the author might be blonde, too. Also, since these are romances, they all end the same way. Typical.
My rating: 3 stars

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: OFF BOOK by Jessica Dall

When you read a book, your main focus is typically on the story with the characters being pieces in this grand plot puzzle. Just like when watching a movie, you never think about the life that goes on behind the scenes with the actors, directors, casting crew, and all. Well, this book does!

Eloise is a fictional character (actor) awaiting her casting call in a story. While others are getting cast as wizards, spies, nymphs, vampires, Martians, cowboys, and whatnots in all sorts of novels, Eloise continually sits on the sidelines, taking useless classes on character development and generally what authors (directors) are looking for, feeling more and more discouraged. At her age, the chances of getting cast are only getting slimmer. If she doesn't get called soon, she will be a teacher ("Those who can't do, teach!") and fade away, forgotten.

I was intrigued by this unconventional story. It's a behind-the-manuscript documentation, detailing the tasks and efforts in the making of a novel. I liked it!

Right off the bat, you root for Eloise and hope she gets a part. Then she does get a part--a part as a recorder, a part of the stage crew. "Now she wasn’t teaching people who were going to go off and have lives. She was watching people who already had lives in progress." (22) Kind of a bummer, especially knowing that most of your co-workers are "post-stories" (people that have been in stories and are now working behind-the-scenes.) Of course, one of which is a former and starred in an erotic romance novel. Nice!  Barnaby is a charismatic British stallion that sees something in Eloise, who flushes whenever he's around.

"We are all tools authors use to perfect their art. They make us wait around for months, years, picking us up, killing us off all for the purpose of getting their story told. And we have to put up with it because our entire existence is based on them giving us a story. We have no free will. Either you give yourself over and let those people do whatever the hell they want to do to you, or you’re stuck in that damn School left to fade away. If they want to break us, bash our heads in, slowly flay us alive, we just have to take it. It’s like .. . I don’t know. Mind rape. Life rape.” (34)

But Eloise didn't want to be "just another character sacrificed in the name of the plot." (53) Then, suddenly, she accidentally finds herself in a story--a strange, medieval-fantasy hybrid story. At this point, we cross back and forth between the story and the story within the story, all spliced with dialogue and a fleeting narrative.

Frankly, I wasn't so interested in the story Eloise found herself in. It sounded like she was in a world where King Arthur meets Robin Hood or Harry Potter or something. Regardless, I did want to know how it would turn out for her. Could she be trapped? And would it be the absolute worst thing if she were to stay? Did she break some sort of cosmic rule by falling into a story? I actually thought that Eloise was going to take initiative and write her own story.

It's funny because Eloise being trapped in the story made me think of those Bugs Bunny episodes, ones that had him arguing with the cartoonist over silly things like forgetting to draw his ears. In this case, Eloise would converse with the author, pleading for assistance. I thought that was kind of weird and the interplay would be confusing at times.

I was more fascinated by the concept and how it all began rather than the quandary, which is where the story started losing me. From that point on, I was mainly just muddling through it. And even though I didn't really know how Eloise ended up where she did or why Barnaby needed to go through the endless tedium of going through proper channels and procedures, I still kind of wondered how this would end.

My rating: 3.5 stars