18 &19/40: Down to You; Up to Me (by M. Leighton)

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Down to You

Up to Me

Bad Boys Novels #1 & #2

by M. Leighton

Published 02/12/2013 by Penguin Group U.S.A.

Contemporary Romance

WHO: Cash & Nash Davenport and Olivia Townsend, Bad Boy twins and a co-ed respectively…

WHAT: fall into a sex/love triangle…

WHERE: that begins at Dual, a nightclub in Atlanta, GA; touches at Salt Springs, a rural town about an hour’s drive from Atlanta; and at a couple of tertiary settings e.g. an art gallery and Olivia’s apartment.

WHEN: The setting is now (cell phones and Hummers) though computers are not noted and ledgers are physical/paper copies.

WHY: Olivia is attracted to bad boys but wants to avoid falling for the same old trap that has led to heartbreak in the past. While inevitably attracted to nightclub owner, Cash, she also finds herself drawn to his twin brother, Nash – a lawyer and, more provocatively, the boyfriend of her bitchy roommate and cousin.

HOW: The context for the relationships that evolve in this story is the dangerous secret that the twins are keeping, a situation that puts Olivia’s life at risk.

+/- Very light reading with intriguing premise (come on! Twins! Bad boy! Forbidden fruit! The Russian Mafia!) but comes across as a suburban daydream and; the emotional life of the characters is stunted even for young twenty-somethings.

+/- Lots of pages to dog ear if you are looking for the sex scenes though nothing particularly novel about the sex described.

The two novels are really one story arc and could have been combined and edited down to better effect.

OTHER: 

Penguin’s First to Read, a program that offers a lottery chance for readers to access digital galleys/advanced reading copies of their titles, offered Everything for Us (Bad Boys #3) this July. Everything for Us features the bitchy cousin that I mentioned above, in a kidnapping plot. I entered the lottery and, in anticipation of perhaps winning, I decided to read the first two books in the series. I did not win an ARC of Everything for Us whose release date is September 3, 2013. As it stands now, it is unlikely that I will read and review Everything for Us.

I purchased and dnloaded digital copies of Down to You and Up to Me (by M. Leighton) from Barnes & Noble/nook. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

I have challenged myself to read forty books this summer. Many books will be backlist titles as I’m trying to clear the stacks; but I have no doubt that new releases will make their way in too! 😉

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17/40: The Time Traveller’s Wife (by Audrey Niffenegger)

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The Time Traveller’s Wife

By Audrey Niffenegger

Published 2004 by Harvest/Harcourt, Inc.

WHO: Henry deTamble and Clare Abshire,…

WHAT: a time traveller and the woman he loves…

WHERE: play out their drama in a meadow at her parent’s home and against the backdrop of Chicago, IL…

WHEN: from Sunday, June 16, 1968 – Thursday, July 24, 2053…

WHY: in a story of destiny/fate filled with romance, comedy and, tragedy alike…

HOW: all in concert with Henry’s Chronic Displacement Disorder (CDP)

+ The Time Traveller’s Wife is a tightly constructed and well edited story. The timeline is not linear, but by confining most of Henry’s adventures to  a segment of time tethered to specific relationships that are linear, and in the past and present tenses, the story doesn’t become unwieldy or fantastical in scope. 

+ Events are plausible. There’s no magic or supernatural effect deployed in the story.

+ 8 Kleenex story. Admittedly, this may also me a “minus.” The Time Traveller’s Wife is definitely a tear-jerker, filled with emotional yearnings never fully requited even as the characters play out the scripts of their lives. Each victory in determinism is bittersweet, every hope tinged with the wistfulness of knowing it may not be actualized. Readers will be able to identify and emphasize with these feelings, which are magnified in the story and thereby giving the reader access into the life and world of The Time Traveller’s Wife.

There are a couple segments where it is not clear what Henry’s appearances signifies. It is less of a case loose ends and more of a situation in which the appearances are not strongly enough linked to a relevant event in the story. For example, Henry appears in the kitchen, beaten and bloody. Why? 

 It is not clear as to how much Henry’s father knows or understands about Henry. Though a secondary character, Henry’s father plays a significant role; but  knowing whether ignorance or ambivalence is a factor in his relationship with his son would help the reader develop a clearer picture of the dynamics. Likewise, the nature of Inga (Henry’s one-time girlfriend,) as well as what she knows and when, is not explicit. This again lends a vagueness as to the tenor of their relationship and is slightly problematic in a key, tension-filed scene.

OTHER: Years ago, I started listening to the audio edition ofThe TIme Traveller’s Wife (by Audrey Niffenegger; narrated by William Hope and Laurel Lefkow.) My ambivalence towards the production was due to the narration: The narrators didn’t quite pull off the age ranges either in pitch/tenor or affectation convincingly. When I lost the CDs, I didn’t care, but I sensed that I might like the actual story so I purchased a print copy of The Time Traveller’s Wife (by Audrey Niffenegger.) I apologize, but I do not remember who I purchased it from; but it’s been in my TBR stacks since 08/10/2009! I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

I have challenged myself to read forty books this summer. Many books will be backlist titles as I’m trying to clear the stacks; but I have no doubt that new releases will make their way in too! 😉

16/40: Lamb (by Bonnie Nadzam)

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Lamb

by Bonnie Nadzam

Published September 13, 2011 by Other Press

WHO: David Lamb, a deceitful, delusional, aging and divorced man who is currently in a relationship with a much younger co-worker…

WHAT: seduces an eleven-year old child off of a parking lot…

WHERE: in Chicago and takes her to a ramshackle cabin in Colorado…

WHEN: and over the course of twenty days… 

WHY: tries to instil the idea of ultimate truth and beauty and love…

HOW: by showing her a world far different from where she came from and providing her with memories that will carry her through her life.

+ As I was completing the WHO and HOW entries above, I realized that Bonnie Nadzam has created an interesting construct of paradoxes that creates an underlying tension of unease beyond the obvious one derived from WHAT David Lamb is doing.

Though not graphically explicit, one senses the sexual undertones and it’s quite stomach churning, especially if you are a parent. Let’s make no mistake about this, David Lamb is a pedophile and there is no way to feel about him other than revulsion. It is no special writing skill on the author’s part to invoke this sentiment as there is no other way to feel about a pedophile. The usage of pedophiles (as well as child killers, child abusers, etc) are cheap and lazy shots by writers because it limits the reader’s response. Nothing that Nadzam has done here tempers that and you really have to wonder why she even tried.

OTHER: I purchased a print copy of Lamb (by Bonnie Nadzam) from Slategray via Alibris.com. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

I have challenged myself to read forty books this summer. Many books will be backlist titles as I’m trying to clear the stacks; but I have no doubt that new releases will make their way in too! 😉

15/40: Sin City: The Hard Goodbye (by Frank Miller)

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Sin City: The Hard Goodbye 

by Frank Miller

Third Edition Published in 2010  by Dark Horse Comics

(Vol. 1): “This volume collects stories originally published in issues fifty-one through sixty-two of the Dark Horse Comic Book series Dark Horse Presents and in the Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary  Special, originally edited by Randy Stradley.”

WHO: Marv, a big ugly brute…

WHAT: wakes up in the morning after a night with Goldie, a beautiful woman who, unfortunately is now dead…

WHERE: in a seedy motel room in Basin City (“Sin City”,) an underground venue populated with prostitutes, corrupt cops, thugs, addicts and drunks. 

WHEN: The time is now or in the very near future as…

WHY: Marv goes out and tries to figure what exactly has happened and who is responsible.

HOW: Relying on his animal nature, Marv seeks vigilante justice.

+ The black ink panels are amazing in rendering light/shadow, texture, emotion and movement with both fines lines and blocks of black/white. The overall selection of “shots” to tell the story gives the reader a sense of the spaces and the subjects’ position within each scene.

+ The women in the story wield their sex like a weapon. Though Frank Miller draws the women in a highly sexualized way and they are often the victims in the story, these are not women without intelligence or resources.

+ The story probably doesn’t end the way you think it would/should; but it’s true to the world which Frank Miller has created.

Marv and/or Miller twice expresses a rather provocative, gratuitous sentiment (two different issues) wherein he doesn’t understand that there’s no correlation between a person’s looks and their sexual orientation :-/

“She’s a dyke but God knows why. // With that body of hers she could have any man she wants”

In Miller’s world of alleyways and strippers and such, for some reason this is the one thing that jumped out at me as “wrong”; and while not a deal-breaker for me in terms of continuing the story/series, it might be for others.

OTHER: I purchased a print copy of Sin City: The Hard Goodbye (Vol. 1) (by Frank Miller.) I apologize, but I do not remember who I purchased it from! I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post. 

I have challenged myself to read forty books this summer. Many books will be backlist titles as I’m trying to clear the stacks; but I have no doubt that new releases will make their way in too! 😉

14/40: A Rake’s Vow (by Stephanie Laurens)

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A Rake’s Vow

by Stephanie Laurens 

Published October 1, 1998 by Avon

Romance

WHO: Vane Cynster and Patience Debbington…

WHAT: fall in love while investigating 1) the appearance of a spectre on the estate grounds and 2) the disappearance of a number of bright shiny personal things from the house’s guests at…

WHERE: Bellamy Hall in the English countryside.

WHEN: 1819 (Regency period)

WHY: Fate!

HOW: Through a series of sexual encounters, Vane and Patience become emotionally involved as well.

+ Stephanie Laurens makes a concerted effort to paint the scenes with words to include “atmospherics”, i.e. While she details a hayloft, she also describes the light and the effect it has on the subjects.  

+ Because this is a Romance novel and not a mystery, the pretext of the investigation into the spectre and the disappearances was under-developed; but the sub-plot actually has good bones: original and interesting. I kinda wish this had been a mystery with a little sex thrown in rather than a Romance with a little mystery!

 Regency Romances tend to assume the conventions and sensibilities of a modern day Romance, just in costume. This book is no exception. 

While the descriptions of post-coital langor were very good, the applications of the words “silver” and “gold” used to describe an orgasm were…. bizarre.

OTHER: I acquired a paperback copy of A Rake’s Vow (by Stephanie Laurens) from The Rogue Book Exchange (Medford, OR.) I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post. 

I have challenged myself to read forty books this summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day.) Many books will be backlist titles as I’m trying to clear the stacks; but I have no doubt that new releases will make their way in too! 😉