I’m Reading #Nerd, #Hater, #Player

The indie community is not without its drama, and last fall, some of it involved two authors who apparently were both writing books with a similar main idea. I don’t know details, I don’t know people involved; I only heard buzzings here and there. For some reason, the topic in question stuck in my head.

So when I saw the titles of Cambria Hebert’s series, it rang a bell. I might’ve just slid past it, but the blurb of the first book (#Nerd) struck a chord, and I downloaded it.

I’ve said before that I find some New Adult books somewhat formulaic. It doesn’t bother me, necessarily, as long as the characters are strong and the storyline doesn’t take itself too seriously. A few extra twists never hurt anyone, either.

#Nerd definitely has the formula element. The nerd is the girl, Rimmel (and it’s never addressed where her name came from. . .which I found interesting and a little maddening. If I knew a girl named Rimmel, the first thing I’d ask is where she got her name). She’s not only a nerd, she’s actually a very shy, withdrawn, almost-hermit girl, who dresses in clothes five sizes too big, wears her hair around her face and keeps everyone at arm’s length.  As a matter of fact, in my school days, she wouldn’t have been termed a nerd, necessarily, as much as just ignored. In Buffy-lore, Rimmel would’ve gone invisible long before our story begins. But I digress.

She’s at a college in Maryland on scholarship, and of course part of that scholarship is the requirement to tutor her less-academically-minded students. And to whom is she assigned as a tutor? You guessed it. Hot, rich, popular football player, with heavy emphasis on PLAYER. Dude gets around. During their first study session in the library, he slinks off with a random chick and our poor little nerd spies him getting some action in the stacks.

(Side note to girls in college: if popular literature is accurate, get yourself on staff as a tutor to meet the man of your dreams. Apparently it never fails. You’re welcome.)

But our player, Roman, aka Romeo (and it’s a testament to how much I really liked his character, because I had a hard time taking him seriously with that nickname) turns out to have a heart of gold. He sees the sweet vulnerability in Rimmel, and something in him harkens to something in her. Deep cries unto deep, one might say.

Unfortunately, before this can really develop, there’s a complication in the form of a fraternity rushing initiation. Although this is not a belabored point, thankfully, it does play into both the rest of this book and the second one. There’s the twist, see?

I gobbled up all three books in about three days, so you can tell I enjoyed them. The characters were compelling, well-written and likable. The plot wasn’t shocking or earth-shattering, but it was viable and interesting. The use of the fictional college’s BuzzFeed, a texting gossip network work that uses way too many hashtags, was cute and added to the background.

If I had any reservations about these books, it would be the speed with which Rimmel transforms from hermit-girl to girlfriend of popular dude. We find out why she’s hiding under all those clothes fairly quickly after she and Romeo begin dating, and while I am all for the theory of love-cures-all, I needed her to be a little more real in her reservations. Then again, maybe in real life, any girl who was full-court-press pursued by our man Romeo would cave fast, too.

A fourth book is coming out in May, about one of the side characters. I really enjoyed the supporting cast in these books, including Romeo’s parents. I like this new trend in NA of letting the parents play a bigger role. It feels more realistic to me.

So if you enjoy New Adult romance with a little humor, some heaty heat (oh, yeah!) and some intense love. . .if you liked Beautiful Disaster, for instance. . .check out Cambria Hebert’s Hashtag series.

I’m off to skulk for something else to read. Oh, yeah. . .and write the book that’s under deadline right now.

I’m Reading The Way We Fall

It started late at night, after I’d finished a pretty decent NA con rom called Stupid Girl (see last week’s post). I needed something to read, even if it was just a bridge book until the next really great one came out. I saw the cover for this one, and though I’m not usually a cover geek, it did catch my eye. I found the blurb a little confusing, but hey, I was young and I needed the money. Oh, no, wait, wrong justification. It was late and I needed a read.

It was a little slow at first and just a tad confusing. But pretty soon I caught onto the drift of the story line: girl runs into old college boyfriend, he’s married but there’re still sparks. . .we all know where this is going, and since it’s con rom, I could be fairly certain that there had to be something up with the ex-boyfriend’s wife or with their marriage. I wasn’t wrong on either count.

The plot of this book isn’t bad. It’s interesting, and it’s not trite. The characters are fairly well-developed, or at least the main ones are. A few seem to float in and out of the story like seaweed on the ocean.

It’s the execution of the story that left me a little less than satisfied. There are multiple flashbacks, and they go back to different places. The story takes place in present-day, five years ago, six years ago. . .like a confused time-traveler,I was constantly having to determine where and when I was. There are two key past events that influence the present, and those are slowly revealed.

I would’ve been okay with the flashbacks. I even could’ve dealt with the dual POV in both present and flashback. But then we jumped into the POV of another important but as yet unexplored character–just for one short chapter–and I was left even more confused.

And then. . .it ended. Mid-emotion, mid-plot thread, mid-climax. . .it just ended. I might’ve thought a page had been left off if there hadn’t ben an announcement about the next book.

Will I read book 2? Probably, eventually. I’d love it if the author could pull all these threads together and redeem the first book through the second. If you enjoy angsty reads, you’ll like The Way We Fall by Cassia Leo. Maybe wait for book 2 to come out.

Between Colleen Hoover’s Never Never and this one, I’m experiencing a long case of bookus interruptus. And I don’t love it.

I’m Reading Stupid Girl

So I’ve exhausted all the Kristan Higgins books until August (August! Do you know how long away that is?? Does she not care for my well-being??), Alice Clayton has nothing until the fall, and Nora’s next hardback isn’t out until April. What’s a girl to do? I was relegated to trolling the scrolls at the ‘Zon.

I came across a promising looking book called Stupid Girl by Cindy Miles. It was NA con rom, and those don’t usually let me down. I started it one morning, and the beginning pulled me in.

Now I have to admit, there’s nothing new here. It’s what I call formula NA: girl arrives at college hiding some horrible event from her past. There’s usually a death somewhere, whether it’s her high school boyfriend, her sibling, her parent, a random passer-by. . .whatever. We got the angst going, right? And then once at college, this girl, who usually is a virgin, or at least very inexperienced and often considers herself shy or plain or a geek, has a meet-cute with The Hottest Guy On Campus. Yes, he has a title that must be written in all caps. And this dude, who is a major player and sleeps with anything that moves, falls suddenly and deeply in love with our hometown sad girl.

Of course, she’s warned off him by her friends, by classmates, by his exes and by random passers-by (not dead ones. Usually.). But she doesn’t listen because she is In Love, and although she’s afraid of a) being hurt b) him finding out her angsty secret c) being made a fool of in front of entire school, she risks it all. But dang it if a, b and sometimes c don’t happen, and then we have more angst and will they end up together? Of course they will. This is con rom.

Don’t get me wrong. I happen to love me some good formula NA books. If done right, they grab you and stick in your mind for months. But they must include some crucial elements: strong, believable characters, a little humor so we don’t get too bogged down in the angsty-angst, and a story arc that makes us root for the Couple Least Likely To Succeed.

I’m happy to report that Stupid Girl covered most of those bases. I liked both Olivia and Brax. I liked that Olivia had a great passion–astronomy–which made her more than just a two-dimensional cutout girl. The story arc made sense, and there was enough of the funny to keep me from sobbing into my tea the whole book long.

On the negative side, some of the plot was a tad contrived, and there was a part near the end that felt too vague. I was hoping girlfriend would say, “Umm. . .what? Can you be a little more clear?” But she didn’t, and I was left having to trust that his explanation somehow made sense to her. Also, the side characters, which are so important in these books, felt a little flimsy. Olivia’s roommate was a tad stereotypical and there was not enough build-up to their relationship.

But overall, if you need a fast and fun NA, and you don’t mind a little pathos, try Stupid Girl. I may gamble on the next book in the series, too. Stay tuned.

I’m Reading Never, Never

This week, I’ve just finished reading Never, Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher.

I discovered Colleen Hoover a few years ago, when a friend recommended Slammed. I enjoyed it, and then Point of No Return. . .and of course, Hopeless. Her more recent books have been even better. So when I saw this one, I was excited. I didn’t read the blurb or any reviews, I just dove right in.

From the beginning, it was. . .different. A little confusing, but I was willing to bear with it. And before too long, I was hooked. The premise is intriguing: both of the main characters, Charlie and Silas, apparently have an odd form of amnesia. Neither can remember anything that happened before 11 o’clock on the morning the book begins. How they cope–and what they learn–begins to paint a troubling picture.

Just when I was drawn in, wrapped up and ready to find out just what happens next. . .the three worst words appeared on the page.

To Be Continued

I came closer to throwing my Kindle across the room than I ever have. What?! I went back to Amazon, and I saw the truth. It’s a novella, the first in a series. When does the next one come out? May 17th. Do you how many days away that is? Like, 100. Okay, 88. But close enough.

I still do recommend you read it, but if you want to save yourself some angst, wait and read it on May 15th.

Until then, come back next week and we’ll see what I’m up to then.

I’m Reading. . .Until There Was You.

This week, I’m reading Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins.

For me, word of mouth is the best way to find new books and new authors. I count on a small group of people who know my taste and preferences. Last fall, my friend Amanda recommended KH to me. I began with her Blue Heron series, and I was hooked fast. As is typical for me, I went on to devour everything of hers I could find.

I’m now down to her earliest books, and I’m still enjoying them. She has a way of writing strong yet flawed women who are surrounded by amusing–yet all too real–supporting characters, family members and always a dog. I’ve yet to get through one of her books where I haven’t a) laughed out loud (usually in the middle of the night, to the annoyance of my sleeping husband) b) cried real tears–and sometimes ugly cried with sobs and c) sighed at the lovely romance of it all.

These books are more than just love stories. They border on chick-lit, but the very best of that genre–not so much on the angsty, more on the real and amusing. The women have good jobs, they have strong support networks, and they’re close to their families. The men tend to be slightly less-well developed; we’re definitely seeing the world through the female perspective, but it doesn’t make me like the guys any less.

The heat is on in KH’s books, but there’s no detailed sex. It’s fade to black, but I never feel that lack–there’s no doubt that she delivers the sizzle. But if reading the nitty-gritty makes you queasy, no worries here.

If I were you, I’d begin with The Best Man (on sale right now for 99 cents at the ‘zon), Book 1 in the Blue Heron series. And then be prepared to sail through her entire back list–I’m betting you’ll be hooked.

My favorites so far as Catch of the Day and Too Good To Be True. Be sure to come back and tell me what you think. . .or stop in to my Facebook page and let me know. We can chat all things KH!

Until next Wednesday. . .