A Book Review: HAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHA! HAHAHA–uh–HAHAH!


“My point is that I may not know that Des Moines is the capital of Iowa without Googling it first, but I’m skealthy [a coined term meaning skinny & healthy]and I feel great, and accoding to the people who hire me to model their clothes, I look pretty good, too.”

Sarah Deanna, from Supermodel YOU

I love Amanda deCadanet’s show The Conversation.  I’ve learned a few good things from talks she’s had with her guests, and when she had Sarah Deanna on, I was intrigued by Deanna’s background.  I am a sucker for a good overcomer story, and Deanna’s poverty-to-business-school-to-runway-model tale fit the bill.  Thinking I’d learn a little bit more about that, I bought her book Supermodel YOU.  Amanda owes me some money.

I’ve been wanting to blog about this for weeks, but I had to wait until I could a) quit laughing, b) quit giving myself whiplash from shaking my head, c) muffle my inner mean girl.  Yesterday, I realized I was never going to get to that point, so here it is.

This book is ludicrious.  It is hilariously misguided, terribly written, and just…awful.  But don’t let me tell you.  Let me just drop some choice quotes.

“Your days of making excuses are over–[models] don’t sit around making a million excuses for why we’re not at the weight we want to be.  You’d never hear Heidi Cklum or any other model mommy complaining about how she can’t lose the baby weight.  Heidi Klum doesn’t make excuses, because ther are none!”

“There are other reasons why models maintain a lower body weight than the normal population, and they tend to be reason taht result from healthy behaviors, not unhealthy ones.”

“I don’t have thunder thighs anymore because I took control of my genes and changed my environment and habits and my life.”  (Deanna talks about how she is 5’10” and weighs 117lbs, and earlier writes of how she was asked to lose 20lbs to start modeling.  So, at 5’10” and 137lbs, she was calling herself overweight, and saying she had thunder thighs.)

“The models I know get most of their exercise by going dancing, shopping, or just running around on the job.  The trick is that they think they are getting enough exercise.”

“Most models don’t drink a lot either.”  Excuse me while I stop laughing again.

To be skealthy, you need the 5 Keys, which are:  Self Awareness, Beauty Sleep, De-Stressing, Modercizing (the model version of exercise, which is just natural movement, and not movement for the sake of exercising–sweet lord), and Intuitive Eating (if it makes you feel good, eat it.  if it makes you feel bad, don’t eat it.  Also, you should “think about howyou look when you eat, you might just change your style.”)

So, forget your overactive thyroid, or your medication, or the fact that you have a metabolism.  If you will just love yourself, get lots of massages, take naps, never go to the gym, and sit in front of a mirror while you eat (yes, that advice is in there) you will no longer be overweight, but you will become magically skealthy.

I can’t.  I can’t.  This book.

According to this book, I should weigh about 4lbs because I LOVE myself, and naps, and massages, haven’t been to the gym in months, and only eat things that make me feel good.  Like the pancakes I had for lunch.  Only, pancakes aren’t allowed because they aren’t organic.

I hate to criticize because Deanna seemed like such a sweetheart on The Conversation, and she is so peppy and earnest in her writing.  She’s that sweet cheerleader who is telling you that you don’t have to be Dumptruck Martha anymore!  Just, like, you know, be magical!  Totally!  Yeah! 

God bless her.  At one point she pleads for someone to give her an honorary biochemistry degree after delighting that she verified her theorem of how everyone should eat by watching the cast and crew over an extended Stella McCartney fashion shoot.

I just can’t.  I’m laughing again.

1 out of 5 stars.

(It gets the 1 star because it made me laugh so much, and I love to laugh.)

 

Lane of ARC


I am incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by creative, ambitous, interesting people, and even more fortunate that some of them are related to me–so they are stuck, and have to claim me whether they want to, or not.  (Do any of you ever have flashbacks to 8th Grade English when you are writing?  I am terrible with commas, and whenever I am writing I flashback to diagramming sentences on the blackboard, and start worrying about parts of speech, diagram tails, and progress reports.  Clearly, I do not worry too much about rabbit trails.)

One creative, ambitious, interesting relative, who knows her way around a comma is my Cousin-in-Law, LynDee Walker.  LynDee is the creator of the Nichelle Clarke mystery series, and her second book, Buried Leads is available now for pre-order.

Last night, LynDee was at the Frisco Public Library for a reading and signing event, so we loaded up the SUV and trekked on over.

Here we are with LynDee's poster.  And you thought the cover art was cute on its own?  I want my LIFE to look like this poster.
Here we are with LynDee’s poster. And you thought the cover art was cute on its own? I want my LIFE to look like this poster.

LynDee did a reading from Buried Leads, and I can already tell you that you’re going to want this book.  How can you not love a mystery that starts with Armani shoes and–spoilers–never mind.  Just get the book.

lyndee reads
LynDee explains the importance of research when writing crime scenes.

I was excited to win an ARC of the new book, and as soon as I have that in my hot little hands, I’ll tell you all about it!  And by “all about it”, I mean, “absolutely nothing about it.”  I’ll just tell you where to get it.

She looks good with a Sharpie!  LynDee signing books for her fans.
She looks good with a Sharpie! LynDee signing books for her fans.

Read up on LynDee and find out when she’s going to be near you.  If you happen to be in Virginia, she will be launching Buried Leads at the Library of Virginia’s Virginia Literary Festival on October 16.  The website says wine and cheese follow.  I can’t think of anything much better than books and cheese, so please check it out and tell me how awesome it was.

A Review: Saints and Sinners


A great book and a meh book, one with a heavy figuring a saint and funny/insanely funny people, and the other with a variety of sinners and sads.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel, by Maria Semple, is gorgeous.  It is layered and lively, told uniquely through the email correspondence, handwritten notes, and recorded conversations of its adult characters, and narration from its fifteen-year-old heroine, Bee.  It was intelligent and interesting on architectural, technological, and emotional levels, and it reminded me of what I like best about writers like L’Engle and Dean.  That is, the effortless flow of science and solid literature in the narrative.  I like reading a book that makes me want to go read up on something real.  Bernadette does that.

I read this in a few hours, and actually got excited when I turned on my Kindle after my bath, last night, and saw I was only 62% through.  I still had a lot more to go!  I had been afraid I was close to the end.  Now I’m sorry it is over, so I”ll have to go read it again.

Five out of Five stars

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, seems like it should work.  Like Bernadette, it is told in bits and pieces, through the perspectives of different characters.  There is action, there is adventure, there is travel, there is romance, and there is Richard Burton standing on a ship on the coast of Italy.  But it doesn’t work, mainly because there are no likable characters.  There are sympathetic characters, but no one to like.  No one to get behind.  No one to care for, so why bother?  The two characters who come closest to fitting the bill disappear entirely for sections of the book.  The writing is goodish.  I mean, there is nothing wrong with the writing.  It is perfectly good writing, but it fails to deliver on that emotional level. 

It took me 2 weeks to slog through it, and even then I only skimmed bits that were stand-alone segments, having little to do with the story.  I didn’t enjoy the reading at all.

Two out of Five stars*

What’s funny to me is how much Bernadette and Ruins have in common in the way of style, storytelling, diversity of cast, and use of pop culture. They couldn’t be more different, though.  Bernadette is going somewhere specific with it’s patchwork, and it makes a quilt.  Ruins doesn’t know what it wants to be with its hodgepodge, and it makes a mess.

 

*I have to say that Ruins isn’t a terrible book.  It isn’t even a bad book by today’s standards.  But, it is not an enjoyable book.

Reviews: Weight Loss, Living Life, and the Brady Family


I was trying to decide on a book, when I came across this one with nesting dolls on the cover, and decided to give it a try.

 

Stranger Here: How weight loss surgery transformed my body and messed with my head, by Jen Larsen was…sad.  It’s a good read, but it is a sad read.  It did make me think about how there is no magic bullet to any success.  Weight loss surgery is no easier than hitting the gym.  There is still a lot of will power required, and possibly even more required thought about food and eating than doing something like Weight Watchers.  It isn’t easy to have your insides rearranged, and it isn’t easy to change your life to fit new innards.  Even harder is the work required to get your head right because if you don’t love yourself fat, skinny isn’t going to change the self-loathing.  And that’s the whole point of Larsen’s memoir.

4 out of 5 stars.

 

 

13 Little Blue Envelopes is a book by Maureen Johnson.  Clearly, I did not choose this one for the cover.  I chose this one because it was $.99 when I bought it, and I was looking for light reading.  It is a sweet, but not cloying YA novel that follows 17-year-old Ginny across Europe.  I’m not going to tell you anything else about it, other than that I loved it.  I loved it so much that I actually clapped when I saw that a sequel had arrived.

 

The Last Little Blue Envelope follows Ginny back to Europe and introduces new friends.  I loved this one, too.  Yes, you could see the end coming from the beginning, but it was an end worth getting to, and just as easy and enjoyable as the first.  Read this.

4.75 out of 5 stars for both.

 

I also read Here’s the Story, by Maureen McCormick.  I loved Cindy Brady best, but clearly Marcia’s was the hair to have. Her memoir was a little like if Mackenzie Phillips and Melissa Gilbert’s memoirs had a baby.  Yeah, let that sink in.  Definitely worth reading if you like memoirs, and especially if you grew up watching the Brady Bunch, but not really easy prose.

3.75 out of 5 stars.

When Dreams Come True


I asked LynDee, now a Top Selling author (upgraded from first-time author, y’all!), to rejoin us and talk about what it is like to have seen such major success in her freshman offering, Front Page Fatality.  I am so excited for her, and I hope you’ve already bought your copy because it is truly a great read.

LynDee's first novel--it's a top seller!  See below for buying links.
LynDee’s first novel–it’s a top seller! See below for buying links.

 

As I sit here wondering where the heck February and the first part of March went, I’m must say I’m reeling a bit, and ever so grateful for everything 2013 has brought. Even if it has been kind of a blur.

My eyes popped open early on January 29. Like a kid of her way to Disney World, I jolted myself out of sleep singsonging “it’s here, it’s here, the day has come!” in my head. For more years than I care to admit, I’ve daydreamed and real-dreamed about what my “book birthday” would be like. I’ve also studied and learned enough about the way book launches for debut authors with limited publicity budgets go, to have prepped myself to enjoy the day by having pretty modest expectations. As in, I’d been telling myself for weeks that if five people who’d never heard of me bought my book and liked it, I’d be very happy.

Little did I know, y’all. Oh, just how little.

My fantastic husband planned a lovely day for me: I signed preorders at the bookstore that hosted my launch party, we stopped downtown for lunch, and we even had date night.

By halfway through dinner, my book was number 41 on amazon.com’s hot new releases list in mysteries with women sleuths. At that time, I didn’t even know it was charting in humorous fiction. By Friday night, it had climbed to number one in new humor, number two (behind James Patterson) in new women sleuths, and number five in humor overall.

Can we say “head spinny?” I spent that whole weekend looking around for Rod Serling. Heck, it’s been seven weeks and I’m still looking! I haven’t seen him yet, though.

I did interviews on various blogs, one with my local ABC affiliate (I was so nervous. Lucky for me, the anchor was very nice and you can’t really tell I was nervous. Much.), and another last week with a newsmagazine. One book blog chose my book as their favorite of February, and another named it in the top 5 books of the week just this week. And I’ve gotten fan mail! Like, actual people I’ve never met have taken time out of their lives not only to read my novel, but to write me notes, telling me how much they enjoyed it. How awesome is that?

It’s been amazing. Like walking around in a dream, truly. Maybe a little overwhelming at times, but I’m just so honored and flabbergasted that people are saying such lovely things, it’s largely been one of the best months of my life.

All the while, I was trying to finish up my second Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels mystery, Buried Leads, and get it ready to send off to my editor. I loved getting to go back to Nichelle’s world and see how life is treating her, what has changed for her, and what kind of trouble she’s getting into now. Writing the sequel was like getting to know an old friend better, and I’m so, so glad I get to write more books about Nichelle and her friends, because I adore her and am still not ready to say goodbye to her.

Getting Buried Leads ready to turn in was an entirely new experience for me, though. I’d never written fiction with a deadline, and I’d also never have dreamed of sending a manuscript to an editor after one pass through my betas, two reads after the rough draft.

But I did. Then I started immediately on Nichelle’s Christmas adventure, a novella slated for publication this December.

Last week, I got my edit letter on Buried Leads. As usual, my editor is brilliant, and saw something I could change that will make it a much better book. It’s also a major revision, though, and I panicked a little, because I have other works under contract with deadlines.

Fortunately for me, this revision has fallen into place such that I’m scratching my head wondering why on Earth I didn’t think of this in the first place.

Truth be told, I love revising. I love digging into a book and strengthening the plot, tightening the writing, and punching up the dialogue. I love getting to spend more time with my imaginary friends. And though I admit to an initial freak-out, I love having an editor who can point to the precise thing that needs changing, say “fix this,” and send me down a merry path of new ideas that make all those things happen.

I am not good at working on two projects at once, so Christmas has been put on hold while I spiff Buried Leads up, but I’ll get back to it, hopefully with more knowledge of how to make it better and stronger. Writing is still my first love, and I can’t wait to see how Nichelle’s holiday ends up.

I have dreamed of being an author for so long, and living it these past seven weeks has been wonderful. Thank you so, so much, to everyone who has bought, read, and said lovely things about my novel. Y’all have made this an experience I will never forget, and you have no idea how much I appreciate every one of you.

 

FRONT PAGE FATALITY: A Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels Mystery (Henery Press, Available Now)
BURIED LEADS: A Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels Mystery (Henery Press, October 15, 2013)
THE HEARTACHE MOTEL: Three Interconnected Mystery Novellas (Henery Press, December 10, 2013)
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