Book Reviews: Mermaid Kisses and Technicalities

“Did you say rapper or wrapper?”

Adventures of Technicality Man
In a word full of superheroes, it’s important not to neglect the literary ones. Technicality Man might not be the equivalent of Superman—or even Aquaman—but he’s got Continuity Leopard on his side, and sometimes that’s enough. And then there’s times like this story, when there’s a menace so large even the bad guys join the right side.
This is a silly story, but it’s meant to be silly; anyone who takes it seriously has totally missed the point. This is a cute fun indulgence on a lazy afternoon. There should be a new word for the level of meta this went to, like ultra-meta or such.
Now I’m gonna go lie down and think of some ridiculous superhero names. . .

Mermaid Troubles
After being kicked out of high school—and not regretting it at all—a surfing-obsessed girl who can always tell when someone’s lying meets an appropriately weird guy who needs her help to fight off an evil menace. It takes being temporarily turned into a mermaid, along with the death of a frenemy, to raise the stakes and get her to help.
I really like this character, and it’s a cute story. A bit of the usual “This is your destiny” with a teen love triangle added, though it felt a little weird hearing a story that takes place in a beach town in SoCal with a British accent. But the most important note is that it wouldn’t have been as good without such an awesome protagonist.

The Sweetest Kiss
A painter who works in a dress shop wants to win a competition that will have her living in Italy for a year. She’s got a crush on a long-time friend, but if she starts something with him it’ll be over when—if—she leaves for Italy. There’s an obnoxious rich competitor for both the contest and the boy.
This was an enjoyable read. Other than all the lack of communication which seems to be required in this genre, it flowed smoothly. I liked the characters, especially hot mess Megan, but c’mon, there’s such a thing as being TOO clueless.
This was my favorite moment. If the whole book could have been like this. . .
“Janine, didn’t you say you wanted to look at that other dress? The one in the back? I’ll go get it for you . . .” Surely she could see I was pleading for help!
“No, I’ve changed my mind.” Janine gave me a goofy grin. Then she pursed her mouth, wrapped her arms around her body, and pantomimed what I can only describe as a solo standing make-out session.
My face heated as I stared at her in horror. Brian followed the direction of my gaze over his shoulder. Janine quickly straightened, pretending to examine her dress box.
Part of a series, and not the first, but it didn’t seem to matter.

McArthur’s Spies
An American woman in invaded Manila convinces the Japanese she’s no danger, and is allowed to open a nightclub, where she plays spy as she gathers supplies for the POWs and resistance.
That was a difficult slog, ending with a marathon session lasting till after three in the morning. In those four hours I read the entire second half, taking the story through the aftereffects of the invasion and all the way to silly McArthur’s triumphant return.
So after all that happened in those three years, what is there to say? This quote pretty much encapsulates it: “Good spies and heroes are not necessarily Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. Claire Phillips was deceptive and foolish at times, but she also fought on behalf of the United States to defeat Japan in occupied Manila.”
The last part deals with the aftermath of her ego; had she told the truth about her exploits instead of embellishing, the FBI wouldn’t have been so skeptical and made things really bad for her. The book she “wrote” was bad enough, but there’s a passage about the movie’s publicity that was ridiculous in its hyperbole. A sad ending.
Meticulously researched, full of interesting and amazing anecdotes. Most of the book treated her like a hero, but to the author’s credit the last part brought her down to earth. Do wish there’d been more on Boone and Parsons, though.



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