Friday, 16 November 2012

Review: The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines

In One Line: hot and heavy love triangle

Genre: naughty guilty pleasure!

The Gist:

Ash works hard to play the good girl for the sake of her preacher daddy and her perfect boyfriend Sawyer, but when Sawyer goes away for the summer Ash finds herself drawn to old childhood friend and Sawyer’s cousin, the ultimate bad-boy Beau. Beau has always loved Ash, and now that he finally has her, will he be able to let her go once Sawyer comes back to town?

The Cover:

Hello matching midriffs and sexy disappearing hands! Headless bodies that leave you wondering what their faces look like, and ultimately just presuming that they are sucking each other’s faces off. And look at her tangly hair! That is blatantly sex hair. This is a steamy cover made ‘safe’ by it’s resemblance to a film poster, which may save some of your blushes, but once you start reading you’ll know the truth. You’ll know. 

Why You’ll Love This Book
  • It is perfect guilty pleasure reading. Sick of revising? Had a hard week at work and want to dream of lazy Lousiana days? You need this book. I can pretty much guarantee that whilst you are reading it you won’t be thinking of anything else. 
  • This book has so many popular culture parallels! Because Ash is clearly Scarlett O’Hara and Beau is Rhett, and also if you’re a fan of True Blood (like me) you’ll be hyper aware of Ash’s basic Sookie Stackhouse-ness. Except without the mindreading fairy powers or vampires. 
  • This book deals with every southern USA stereotype you can think of. Ash writes ‘y’all’ in her letters to Sawyer. And Sawyer has a name like Sawyer. And there’s even a scene in a dive bar where Ash and Beau play pool and Sweet Home Alabama is playing in the background. As a Londoner reading this book on a foggy Autumn day, I can only conclude that these cliches are a Very Good Thing. 
  • Sexytimes. Yeah, you heard me. Sexytimes. 

Why You May Not Love This Book:
  • Basically, this book is terrible. Like, really really bad. You can do what I did and exclaim ‘what the hell!’ and embrace the blatant trashy cheesiness, or you can sneer and tut at the likes of me. I expect that there will be a lot of you tutting. 
  • The story can be So Much Better. And the characters could be So Much More Likable. You’re not reading this because you love Ash and are rooting for her to fulfil her desires, you’re basically just reading because you want to get to the next bit of sexytimes or read another paragraph about how hard Beau’s chest is. It’s the literary equivalent of a car crash (except that nobody gets hurt of course!) and you just can’t take your eyes away, no matter how terrible you know it is. Also, the ending is so bloody neat and tidy and sweet it made me feel a little sick. 
  • My doggie is called Beau. Kinda made me feel a bit weird about reading about a sexy Beau. 

The Hypersomnia Test:

Nothing beats a little bit of literary soft-porn to keep me awake. And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter. 

Final Verdict:

Read it guys. Just set your brow to as low as it will go. Yes this book is all about the cheap thrills, but I’m not one to dismiss the occasional cheap thrill here and there. I think they’re essential actually, because it’s the only way you’ll be able to work out what substantiates the good stuff. I will say that I’m rather surprised that this has been published by Hot Key Books, a new publisher that has so far shown a great knack for highlighting fabulous and original talent. This book is neither fabulous nor original, and I’m tempted to be rather cynical about why it was chosen for Hot Key’s list. *waves the controversial flag*

There is another issue here about the sexytimes, one I want to address more thoroughly in another blog post on the matter, and on the rise of the ‘New Adult’ genre. Basically, I felt the portrayal of sex in this novel was gratuitous and unnecessary, a bonus added cheap thrill to grab attention. My personal opinion is that if you want soft-porn in your literature, go to the erotica section, not to YA. More on that in another blog post though. 

I’m nearly twenty-nine. I can cope with the portrayal of sex in this book, and ultimately found it a fun slice of escapism. Would I recommend it to a fourteen or fifteen year old? Probably not. 

Further Reading:

Easy by Tamara Webber
Everything that Simone Elkeles has ever written
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

On Getting an Agent

Yesterday I got to announce some news: I have an agent. 

Twitter was suitably amazing and very validating, and my family are all lovely and proud. I am thrilled - this is the next step to fulfilling my dreams after all, and I got to say 'I'm very happy' over and over again. But there's an oddness to it all too. An oddness akin to someone coming up to you on your birthday and saying "so how does it feel to be twenty-six?" and you realise that you feel exactly the same as you did yesterday, when you were twenty-five. 

I think the realisation of my brand new responsibility is settling in now. Not only to myself, to fulfil my potential, but to my new agent, and to all the people who wished me well yesterday on Twitter and Facebook. It's all real now. That fluffy cloud that sat in my head, containing all those hopes and dreams and possibilities, is now outside of my head. Everybody can see that fluffy cloud, and I can't let it float on by and dissipate. I have to do something with it. There's intrinsic pressure there. The cloud looms.

And then there's the issue of the book itself. It's suddenly become VERY important. It's turned from a kitten to a tiger, and I just hope and pray I can do the story justice. And that my agent likes it. And then that a publisher likes it. And then that readers like it. See what I mean about the pressure cloud? Instead of writing for me, I'm now writing for a lot more people. It's daunting. 

I'm going to be bold with the truth now, because sometimes I think in the UK we're told not to be bold, or to be embarrassed at being bold. I'm going to say it though: I think I can do it. I honestly do. I don't know yet how long it's going to take (hopefully not that long) but I really do think I can do this. And what's great about having an agent: I'm finally not alone. She thinks I can do it too.

Hugs and high fives,


Sunday, 4 November 2012


It's just gone midnight on Saturday, and I can't sleep. My mind is rattling. I feel distinctly bothered. Honestly, it's times like these that I'm thankful for my anti-depressants, because without them I'm pretty certain I'd be spiralling into a well of frantic desperation. But I'm not. I'm watching a film (Up in the Air), I'm all fidgety, and I'm struck with the need to write it out. So I've paused the film, schlepped my laptop on to my lap in bed, and I'm here. Unedited. 

The red cups are back in Starbucks. The festive drinks are flowing, and there is even a wreath in the doorway. I don't usually mind these things - I work in retail after all - but today they just served as a reminder that the year is nearly up. Soon we'll be saying goodbye to 2012 and beckoning in a new year that promises amazing, exciting things. But I don't want this year to be over. This was meant to be my year. My twenty-eighth, the year my life was meant to take a leap upwards. It hasn't. This year was crappy. This year was probably the worst of my life. And I don't want it to be over because I want more of a chance for it to change. I want something good to happen, so badly. But when the first of January comes, I'll turn twenty-nine, and I'll look back and realise that life is tired, and sad, and nothing ever turns out the way you want it to. 

Last New Year's Eve I saw in midnight alone in my room with my TV. I can't remember what I was watching. My brother was alone at his flat, my dad was asleep on the sofa downstairs, and my Mum was at my Grandpa's bungalow, making sure he was wearing his sleeping mask. This was a job that usually fell to my Grandma, but two weeks earlier, after a lifetime of near-perfect health, she was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of Leukaemia. Her illness broke my family. My Grandpa refused to wear his mask, and over time developed vascular dementia from the slow lack of oxygen to the brain. My last and enduring memories of him are not good. Four months after he passed my Grandma went into remission. My mother and I decided to take a mini-break to Holland, but on breakfast of the first day my Grandma's carer called and told us to come home. I watched my mother sit shiva for the second time that year, and it wasn't even really the summer yet. 

My mother is struggling with her grief. My father isn't in the best of health. I don't want to say anything about my brother because that's a whole other story, but it's not good. I've put on weight. I discovered on facebook that one of my oldest friends got married and didn't invite me to the wedding. I'm still living at home with my parents and am struggling to work out what's going to happen next. 

And now we're here. In November. And the red cups are out again at Starbucks. I'm crying as I write this. The kind of tears Sara Crewe cries in A Little Princess: silent ones behind a closed door. 

Is it strange that despite this being my crappiest year on record, I don't want it to end? Because that's the feeling I have. Distinct dread that this year is ending. Maybe what I'm dreading is having to raise my hopes again. Life feels static in the gloominess, but it's comfortable. Change is frightening. Or maybe what I'm dreading is the anniversary of the leukaemia rearing it's head. It's nearly a year since everything went downhill, and it frightens me that it's been that long. 

Maybe I'm anxious because I don't want my birthday cake to be Christmas pudding again - the pudding from our cancelled Christmas the week before. I've just read that last sentence back and I can't believe how morbid I sound. But it's honest. I think this year has turned me into a morbid person. Maybe this is growing up. 

I'm not going to end this on an optimistic note. That's what I usually do, and that's how I like to end things. But right now it wouldn't be true. Because right now I feel like an insignificant drifting speck of nothing, and I'm hoping that sharing this with you brings me just the tiniest bit of relief.