Book Reviews: Poker, Dreams, and Seductions

“I was just pointing out the inherent hypocrisy.”
“Gee, that’s so nice of you.”

The Backstage Pass
A cute short story about a woman losing her virginity to an 80s rocker, as told to her daughter’s friend.
This is part of a series, but I didn’t need the others to know what was going on, especially since it’s all explained in the small opening before Cougar Mom gets there. There’s rock-star sex, lots of descriptions of the 80s, plenty of uncomfortableness for the woman who has to listen to her mom talk about sex, but most of all it’s loaded with plenty of humor, which is ultimately what makes this a worthwhile read of about 15 minutes.
4/5

Luck, Love & Lemon Pie
A Wisconsin housewife wants to spend more time with her husband, but he’s so into poker he forgets their anniversary. Thinking that the way to connect with him is to also play poker, her plan fails big time when she eclipses him and wins a tourney that sends her to Las Vegas.
This is not a conventional plot—or I should say it’s an unconventional idea and the plot is actually quite familiar—but in this case that helps. The writing is entertaining, and for the most part the characters are fun, even the kids. Of course the protagonist has to have a snarky best friend along with a nemesis.
My only dislike was the way MJ would tell Poker Stud to leave her alone one minute and then quickly enable him by showing she was falling for his charm. But I suppose it was necessary to lead up to the breaking point before the story could be finished.
4/5

Tomas and the Galapagos Adventure
Drawn more as a cartoon than a graphic novel—but then it’s obviously for kids—this very short book has Tomas falling off his horse and dreaming about a pirate and zoological adventure on the Galapagos, just as the title says.
Tomas has a gap in his teeth “like a movie star,” his mom says. To me he looks like Zack Braff must have as a kid. At times I couldn’t tell if the writing was being snarky or was really that bad, but since I liked the line, “Bonito’s trot quickens into a canter as they gallop. . .” I’ll give it a doubtful benefit. There is one thing that’ll make adults cringe, though it won’t matter to kids (so it probably doesn’t need mentioning in a book for them, but here goes anyway): it’s disturbing to have a character go down with a concussion and not even get taken to a doctor.
On to the important part, the artwork. It’s done in broad strokes and bright colors. All the animals are smiling, except the hammerhead sharks, for whom it would be virtually impossible; the squid about to be eaten don’t look happy either. Since this is a dream, it doesn’t have to make sense, and as if to prove my point, a line says, “Are there such things as friendly pirates? There are in dreams!”
I was wondering if they might go Twilight Zone at the end, and they did.
3/5

Seduced: An Erotic Valentine Collection
Three stories of women falling in love—or back in love—with men whom they’ve known for a while.
In the first we get an Australian supermodel who comes back to the country home of the guy she can’t resist, who happens to be the brother of her psycho ex-husband. Seems hard to believe the bad guy would give in so easily after all that anger—that was a bit of a letdown—but other than that a decent story.
3.5/5

Next up is a British girl falling for the brother of her ex-fiancé, who died five years ago, before they could marry. Everyone feels guilty about it but keeps it bottled inside, so the requisite miscommunication ensues. He’s adamant about this not being a relationship, in order to spare her emotional pain, so he thinks. Problem is, he claims–in his mind–to be in love with her and yet does a total dick move near the end; he doesn’t deserve her.
Story was ok, but the miscommunication common in romance novels was particularly egregious. Didn’t care for it in the end.
2.5/5

The book concludes with the story of a woman fleeing her wedding when she finds out her fiancé is cheating, so instead she takes the honeymoon trip with her male best friend. This one falls squarely under the “Love was there all along!” cliché, making it kinda run of the mill, though for the most part I enjoyed the writing and snark. As again seems sadly requisite for the genre, misunderstandings and erroneous conclusions almost screw things up before they remember to communicate.
3/5

Overall 3/5

;o)

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