Saturday, January 14, 2006

January's TBR challenge--Contemporary.

Title, Author, Year Published:

Treading Lightly, Elise Lanier, 2006

Janine Ruvacado is a published author with a teenage son and an (unrealistically) awful mother. She recently has been diagnosed with debilitating osteoporosis, and must learn to eat better and to exercise. Janine starts walking at the local gym when her treadmill breaks, and starts talking to the man walking on the treadmill next to her. She details all the ways in which her life is playing tricks on her: her ex-husband is manipulating her teenage son, the IRS is after her, she can't get in touch with her agent, etc. Over time, as they walk together in the gym, he starts helping her fix her own problems and she starts learning to trust.

Why did you get this book?

::whining::Angie made me.
No, ahem. I really liked the cover.

Do you like the cover?

Why, yes. I do.

Did you enjoy the book?

No, I didn't.

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again?

Yes, she was new to me, and I didn't like her book, but I don't think she's on my automatic avoid list as of yet.

Are you keeping it or passing it on?


Anything else?

Hate the set-up -- debilitating illness? It can't simply be a wish to be healthier that sends her to the gym? She's a little dim too. When the guy walking next to you in the gym knows everyone's name, and INSTALLS A VCR IN THE GYM SO YOU CAN WATCH YOUR FAVORITE TAPE, then there's an incredibly high chance that he either a) knows the guy who owns the gym, b) is a partner in the gym, or c) owns the gym outright.

Relationship with mother and son was OK, but when Tom pops into their lives, son is all down with that. As long as they can high-five, then, cool dude.

What is it about really short books and the first kiss? He just leans over one day and kisses her. No prob. Then he's rubbing her lips with his thumb in the middle of another conversation. Totally, completely unbelievable.

I go out to lunch at least once a week with different men. (One at a time, usually.) I've known these guys for years, and they are my colleagues, and now, my friends. We're good enough friends that I've cried at lunch over how stressed I am when my kids act up. But there's never been the slightest hint of a kiss, or an unwelcome hug, or anything like that. Doesn't the air shift, or the room become tense, or SOMETHING before a first kiss? Doesn't happen here--weird.

Didn't believe the set-up, didn't connect with the kissing, didn't work for me. (Although I liked both the characters and could see them together--but not in this book.)

Icing on the cake are the following too-crazy-to-be-believable details and author errors which completed the ruination of the book:

Author had to let the reader know that Ben & Jerry's Phish Food had chocolate, marshmallow, and caramel, with no fish products in it. I need to ask: There's a romance reader alive who is unfamiliar with Ben & Jerry's flavors? (Cuz, you know, Chubby Hubby has no husbands, and Chunky Monkey has no monkeys. No disclaimers when the heroine ate Chunky Monkey? Hmmm.)

I cannot fathom why the heroine was described as having deep phobias about sub-basements. Was she ever locked in a sub-basement as a plot device? No. In fact, when she needed a repair done in her apartment, she, with a slight amount of trepidation, ventured down to the sub-basement to get the maintenance guy to come to her apartment. (Her apartment building doesn't have a phone?) I don't incredibly enjoy parking garages; they kind of creep me out, but I wouldn't call it a phobia. Odd.

Oh! And the heroine has a stalker. Is the heroine ever threatened by her stalker in such a way as to make the hero rush to her rescue? No. In fact, her stalker calls her partway through the book to let her know that he won't be bothering her any more. Church Lady says, "Well. Isn't that Con-VEEEN-ient?

And then she took her son out for dinner in New York City and they went to Benihana's. Ummmm. What? A native New Yorker goes to Benihana's? OK, if you say so. (Maybe they went to Cats to top the night off.)

And then there's a section in the middle where guy who's been walking on the treadmill next to her and who's also rich and really good-looking calls her up. He succinctly tells her the story of his life in a narrative form. I have to quote this because I cannot believe an editor let this go through:

"There's not much to tell. I'm pretty boring, in fact."
"Boring? How so?"
"Life and work have always been synonymous for me. One can't be defined without the other. Starting at a young age, I determined to make something of my life. Poverty had killed my mother when I was in my late teens, and my father had taken off when I was a child, leaving me with nothing but his name and hard feelings."
"That's so sad, Tom."
"I guess it was, but it gave me inspiration. Standing alone at my mother's grave, as the minister quietly uttered words to help escort my mother into her next journey, I silently vowed to crawl out of the impoverished life that had killed my mother and suffocated us like a damp, heavy curtain."

Oh Good Gracious, Lord in Heaven. What the hell is that? I'm well-read, and enjoy writing and all that, but I've never used "impoverished" in a phone conversation unless I was trying to crack someone up. "Uttered words to help escort" got me going for a while, but I returned to the book only to bump into "impoverished life" and damp, heavy curtains. Aaaagggh!

Simple enough, right?

No, Angie, Keishon, Cindy, and p.devi, and everyone else who forced me, FORCED ME I SAY, against my will to read a contemporary, this was not simple. (But I also read another contemporary which was not nearly so upsetting, and I will grace you with its review either Sunday or Monday.)


P.Devi said...

I think it's a given that your review of the book is more entertaining than the book itself could possibly be. Whadda trouper.

CindyS said...

You've read TWO contemporaries!? I haven't even finished the one I have started yet.

Now you have to look on the good side of this experience. You got a book out of the TBR pile and it sucked and can now make room for a new book that hopefully will not suck. See, it's working.

But seriously, how did you finish the book? That quote almost had me asleep. If it wasn't for my 'imminent need for chocolate every minute I am conscious on this earth then I would have fallen gracefully asleep on my computer like a "damp, heavy curtain".'

Banish all contemporaries from your TBR pile immediately. I don't wish to be blamed for anymore brain trauma inflicted upon yourself! Know you limit ;)


Megan Frampton said...

Oh, I LOVED this review. Thanks for suffering for us.

And yeah, no Benihana's in NYC. I don't even know where one is (not, actually, that that means anything since I never go out. But I do have a Zagat's).

And expositional dialogue! Aagh!

At least it gives me hope for the publishing possibilities of my own mommy-lit. . .

Suisan said...

Glad I can keep you guys amused. I have decided that the next book I write about is one I enjoy.