Goodreads Review: The Woman in the Movie Star Dress

I’ve been having a fun weekend spending time with one of my best friends from college who came to visit this weekend. I’m currently sleepy and have had 3 beers, but I finished this book a few nights ago and really wanted to get my review, as well as some gaming stuff, done before I conked out. Sadly, this book wasn’t my thing, but opinions are just opinions, and I would bet I have friends who would dig this book. It did spark a new interest in watching some old movie classics. Now it’s just a matter of actually doing it. 

The Woman in the Movie Star DressThe Woman in the Movie Star Dress by Praveen Asthana

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This review contains minor spoilers.

Genevieve is a young Native American woman who works in a thrift store that sells clothing that may or may not have been worn by previous celebrities. Believing they hold a trace of those woman they’d adorned, Genevieve wears them to various functions to achieve various goals, including finding love, being a seductress, and playing detective to find out the truth of a tragedy that tore her family apart.

I probably wasn’t the target audience of the book, as I’m not a huge noir reader, or a huge mystery reader, or really a fan of classic movies and movie stars. While I found some entertainment value in the read, there was alot I wasn’t sold on.

The book starts out with something of a plot, and then branches to all these little subplots that one would assume would end up connecting. However, the number of story lines slows the pace way down and parts of it were either boring or melodramatic. It doesn’t help that the plot just seems to stop so that Genevieve can go out with different people wearing different dresses. The mystery gets lost and then becomes less of a mystery and more of a personal journey story. Which is fine, but it definitely doesn’t feel noir. The supernatural aspect of the clothes carrying traces of their former wearers would have been more interesting if Genevieve wasn’t also taking peyote or smoking marijuana. Because seriously, between the peyote or clothing spirits, my bet is on the peyote.

I found Genevieve to be annoying and some of the side characters to be melodramatic. Like the number of story lines, the number of characters got a little out of hand, doing nothing more than giving Genevieve a reason to wear more clothes and not really serving a purpose. The idea of linking characters to different movie stars was interesting though. The one character I did like was Renzo. His story and mystery was my favorite, and I really enjoyed his ending.

Besides the fact that Genevieve has weird feelings towards three different guys, the romance factor is low. In fact, I wouldn’t really consider this a romance novel. There’s a pretty high level of angst and a really awkward scene with the father of one of her love interests. As for the Sex Factor, there is no steam to this book. It talks about sex happening without ever going into it, which would be okay, but this book needed something to spice it up.

The writing was okay, but technically the book could have benefited from some deleted scenes and extra development into the main characters and mystery. There are many people on Goodreads who seemed to love this, but it just didn’t grab me.

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Anxiety and Gaming Triggers

I suppose it’s time to talk about those hateful things known as depression and anxiety. I want to write about something that’s happened recently, partially because I’m hoping writing about it will help me figure it out and wrap my mind around it and maybe find a solution at some point, but I also want to reinforce my belief that these things shouldn’t be hidden, and that talk about mental illness shouldn’t be avoided because there’s a stigma to it. Seriously, why is there a stigma? More people than not have some form of it. It doesn’t mean they’re broken, it means their chemicals went a little wonky at some point.

I could go on for pages about that whole thing, but I’ll stick to my current situation for now.

piglet

My husband and I, being the fabulous nerds we are, decided to try LARPing. Manhattan has a great group of people who I’d gotten to know through TengaiCon, and they sold us on giving it a try. So I drew up a character and tried to figure things out.

At first, I was just really shy. I didn’t know the mechanics of the game, and it’s never been easy for me to be anyone else. I thought it would get better for me and that I would eventually feel comfortable. I even had a couple really good nights where I felt outgoing and comfortable and in character.

awkward
Everyone is great and patient, but I realized quickly that LARPing was triggering my anxiety and triggering it hard. Even on nights when I started out feeling good, something would happen, and it wouldn’t even be something major. It would just be a shift for me, and watching everyone else having a good time while I spiraled made it worse.

Normally, I would just say “This isn’t for me” and take a step back. But in this case, quitting brings another bout of anxiety with it. It means not getting to spend time with good people I wouldn’t see otherwise. It means feeling like I’m letting people down. And strangely, it also feels like I’m giving up on a couple characters who had potential. While most people wouldn’t think twice about it, to me, it feels like unfinished business.

I’m currently thinking of coping techniques I can use because I do think it’ll get better. I went through something like this when I started playing tabletop RPGs. A lot of it is hating the feeling of not knowing what I’m doing. Some of it is being intimidated by people who are awesome. There’s also an element of being a little overwhelmed by different people and different characters.

There’s also a need, when LARPing, to separate the reality from the game. No, I’m not going to rage at work and turn into a werewolf. But I have found myself irritated or angry or hurt by something a character did and it’s carried over into my feelings toward a player.

I’m not sure if I’m ready to give up yet, because there are some really fun points. Right now, I’m going to take a short break and then just take it one game at a time. The main thing I’m making myself remember, though, is that just because I’m having these issues, I’m still an awesome person. I don’t say that enough out loud, but having anxiety doesn’t mean I’m broken. It just means I have a thing I need to handle.

Perfect
A.

Goodreads Review: Alex by Sawyer Bennett

I liked this book, but one of the beginning scenes is about a hockey game and it was painful how much I want to go see a live game again. We have minor league and club teams nearby..I have no excuse. Maybe it’s more I miss college hockey and actually watching NHL on a television. Either way, I enjoyed this book a lot. I reference the 3rd book in the series, which I wrote a GR review for but hasn’t dropped here yet. It’ll come out in a few weeks, closer to the time when the book is released. 

Alex (Cold Fury Hockey, #1)Alex by Sawyer Bennett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alex is the MVP of the Cold Fury hockey team. The problem is, he hates playing and he has a reputation for being a jerk to both the fans and his teammates. Alex couldn’t care less, since he’s only playing to bring home a paycheck and set himself up for when his career ends. That all changes when he’s forced to work with Sutton, an advocate for children in broken rooms, on a team sponsored anti-drug campaign. Besides the fact that he’s attracted to her, he starts to see hockey through her eyes and his love for the game is renewed. As they form a relationship, Alex starts to doubt if he’s good enough for her, and when his own family past starts to haunt him, he wonders if the only way to save his sanity and his career is to let her go.

I read this book because I’d read an ARC of the 3rd book in the series and wanted more. The plot of this one is straightforward but well written. It doesn’t drag. The romance between the 2 main characters develops at about the speed I like my romance to develop in general. Though the plot is pretty standard, the hockey aspect makes me happy, other than the fact it’s painful how much it makes me want to go watch a hockey game.

Sutton is mostly likable and cute. She and Alex both come from harsh childhoods, but she’s pushed through hers and found happiness while Alex can’t let go of his. Because she’s a therapist, it seemed very blatant that she was using psychology on Alex, and though she emotes, there were times when she felt very stoic and logical about what was happening to her. Alex is fun as the surly hockey player, but I almost wanted him to be grumpier and to hold on to his angst a little bit longer. The chemistry between the two was good, but I wanted more conflict.

The Romance Factor was at about a 4/5 because even though it was very sweet, it didn’t give me the Heart Feels. Having said that, the nod to one of my favorite movies ever at the end was pretty darn awesome (not giving spoilers…read it!)

I remember the Sex Factor in the other book from this series being much higher than this one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still there, it’s still frequent, and it’s steamy. Maybe I’m just acclimating to the sexy times in the books I’ve been reading, but this one felt tame. Sexy, but tame. I’m giving it a 3/5.

This was a fun read and I always enjoy cameos of characters from other books (though one of the cameos was a little depressing knowing what happens in book 3). Hockey and romance? Yes…please give me more.

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Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop

The yarn diet is over and I blame the Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop for knocking me off the wagon. But seriously, there was no way I was getting out of this event without indulging.

My friend and I started planning this a year ago, so I was prepared with a yarn budget. After making the drive up, we started out on the Hop, tentatively planning on hitting all 17 stores but prepared not to be sad if we didn’t. Because let’s face it…17 stores is a lot of yarn shopping. One of our first stops, however, was the local tea shop, where I picked up some loose leaf tea that tastes delightful and makes me happy.

Tea - the preferred drink of many a knitter.

Tea – the preferred drink of many a knitter.

On the first day, we hit 4 stores, and considering we didn’t start until the afternoon, that was pretty good. Especially because it was snowing. Snow in Kansas makes me want to hide and avoid the roads. Snow in Minnesota felt normal, and I think I went into Michigan driver mode.

What size do we think these are?

What size do we think these are?

Over the course of the weekend, we hit all 17 stores, which scored us a set of 17 stitch markers and a cute holder. We saw some beautiful scenery and petted some delightful yarn. To give you an idea of how the hop works, you buy either an EZ pass or a VIP pass with the proceeds going to the local food pantry. This passport is stamped at each store, where you’re given your marker. At the end, if you fill out the whole thing, you turn it in for a chance at a drawing.
2015-04-10 17.02.43
At each store, you can also enter a drawing, and along with the stitch marker, you get a free pattern that uses the store’s specialty Hop yarn. You can buy the yarn if you want.

I picked up quite a few of the specialty yarns. I also found some other delicious yarn that I have to relegate to patterns, but it’s nice to already have some of my yarn paired with patterns. I’ve already wound one of the specialty skeins, so if I can get through the frustrating hat I’m currently working, I’ll be casting on for that.

2015-04-12 16.01.41
We had a blast yarn shopping and hanging in the hotel room and eating at new places. By Saturday we were pretty tired and ready to get back to reality, but it was a great time. Now to work on using up this yarn and more stash yarn in preparation for next year.
A.

Goodreads Review: Adapted for Film by Stacey Rourke

I have two other blog drafts waiting in the wings, but they’re not quite polished and one is a little bit heavy, so I’ve been sticking to book reviews, which are way more fun. Plus, I’ve been embracing the fact that I’m an unashamed romance reader. This was a quick read and a good palate cleanser from some of the heavier/steamier books I’ve been reading lately. It’s fun but not super scandalous. 

Adapted For FilmAdapted For Film by Stacey Rourke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aubrey Evans is on set for the making of the movie based on her romance novel, but she finds herself clashing with the director, Kole Camden. Though they manage to put their differences aside, the studio thinks that the best way to avoid the bad press that has already leaked is to manufacture a relationship between Audrey and the actor playing the lead role, Greyson Meyers. While it seems innocent at first, Aubrey is unable to stop the studio from taking it to further levels, and things get only more complicated when she realizes that though Greyson is hot and fairly unrelenting of his flirting, there’s something brewing between her and Kole.

The plot was your typical, fluffy romantic comedy and made for a perfect popcorn read. It didn’t drag at all. On the contrary, the clever dialogue kept the story going. I don’t think I’ve read the author/director/actor triangle before, so that part was fresh, but part of my love for romantic comedies is the comfort of familiarity and the promise of a happy ending.

Rourke’s characters in this book were fun and quirky. Aubrey is icy but clever and snarky. I love snark. Kole is funny but strangely awkward. There’s one scene in which he admits his jokes don’t always work out (it’s a funny scene involving a feather duster) and he endeared himself to me. Greyson is over the top flirty but somehow he never gets annoying. My favorite though was Mateo, the Cuban hip-hop star playing one of side characters in the movie. He reminded me of Pit Bull and cracked me up.

The Romance Factor was there, but it was fairly light. There wasn’t a lot of foreplay between the main characters. Even they don’t seem to realize there’s something there until later in the book. At the same time, because I knew there was romance waiting in the wings, it still read like a romantic comedy.

The Sex Factor was super low. The book is easily PG with one scene maybe edging up to PG-13. Maybe. I like some steam, but it’s not a deal breaker, so those romance readers who aren’t so much into the dirty stuff are likely to appreciate the tame nature of this one.

This was a fun, well-written read that gives me faith I’ll enjoy the other books by this author. If she comes out with any other rom-coms, I’m pretty sure I’ll be grabbing them. Now I just need to get in the mindset to read her other series.

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Goodreads Review: Unrequited by Jen Frederick

I returned home from visiting a friend and yarn shopping for a few days, so after a long drive, it’s kind of amazing that I’m actually on the computer. However, I had some things I needed to do and I wanted to get this out since the book reviewed below comes out tomorrow. It’s a steamy one. As for me, I’ll be cleaning, putting stuff away, stashing yarn, and preparing to get back to the work grind tomorrow. I also have a few posts I really need to get into words soon for various reasons, so fingers crossed that it happens. 

Unrequited (Woodlands, #4)Unrequited by Jen Frederick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this without realizing it was part of a series. Though I usually hate coming in on the middle of things, this one didn’t bother me. It can easily be read as a standalone, though of course now I want to read the other ones in the series. Well played, Jen Frederick. Well played.

I’ve read other books by this author, and though I end up liking them, I’ve found them to be fairly dark and intense, so it takes me a little longer to read. This one felt a little lighter, though I’m not sure if that’s the right term. The premise is that Winter has been in love with her sister’s ex-boyfriend even before he was an ex. And then she acts on it one night when he’s particularly vulnerable after his father dies. This night is followed by guilt on her part and infatuation on his, and when they reconnect a few months later, Winter has to decide if she’s willing to get over his past with her sister to try to have an actual relationship with this guy.

I really liked the main characters. Finn is fun in his infatuation of Winter, but he pursues her without going too alpha male. Winter has some fun quirks. She’s a tattoo artist and she’s adopted, which gives something to the plot line. However, the lengths she goes to take care of her sister gets annoying, especially because her sister is a horrible person who I wanted to punch in the face through most of the book.

Though it’s not my favorite, the infatuation since childhood trope is a fun one, and Frederick delivered a really well paced story. It’s a pretty steamy, fairly quick read, so give it a try if you like steamy romance.

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Goodreads Review: House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy

It’s been awhile since I’ve ready something scary, having been more into romance for a few months now. NetGalley gave me a good excuse to wander into something different for a little while with this horror/mystery. I really enjoyed it, and though there’s nothing mind-blowing or new, it still held my attention and gave me some unsettling feels. Goodreads shows that this comes out April 14th, so if you’re so inclined, pick up a copy and give it a shot. 

House of EchoesHouse of Echoes by Brendan Duffy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Horror-mystery is a genre I tend to enjoy more in movies than books. Some of the newer authors I’ve read don’t seem to do horror in general as well as some older writers, often falling to cliche without being entertaining. It was refreshing to read this novel by Brendan Duffy, because even though the story had many of the classic horror tropes, it was still delivered in a well-written, haunting manner.

Ben Tierney brings his wife and two sons to a place called The Crofts, a house in a village full of history and mystery, and one that he wants to write about. It’s also an escape from the mental troubles his wife had faced when they lived in the city and a chance to start over by turning the large house into an inn for them to run. It’s also an opportunity for a new start for his older son, Charlie, who had faced bullying at his previous school. The people in the village are friendly and Ben feels he’s in the right place, until strange things begin happening and a strange entity starts luring his son into the woods.

The writing was solid and the author did atmosphere really well. From the start, the book was eerie. The setting was common but the way it was presented still gave me, as the reader, a chill when picturing some of the scenes and happenings. There wasn’t a lot of gore in the book, but what there was had an impact on the story. The plot had a good overall concept, though I think there may have been a little too many different tropes thrown into the mix. At one point, I started reading it like a checklist of plot points found in horror. Having said that, he never used something that wasn’t part of the plot, so even though there was a lot going on, it still tied into the storyline.

The characters didn’t start out with much depth, but one thing I liked about them is that they all remained somewhat of a mystery. For instance, Ben’s wife seems to be losing her mind at one point, and even though there are reasons for it, I started wondering if maybe she was going psychotic. Same with the son, because let’s face it….creepy kids and horror go together well. The changes in the characters kept an air of mystery to the story, even though a horror fan is likely to figure things out fairly early. And what’s nice about this book is that figuring it out doesn’t matter…it’s still a good book to read to the end.

I’d recommend this to all horror and mystery readers, though I think those who like classic ghost stories/mysteries are going to enjoy it more than those looking for something edgy or gory.

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