Friday, May 18, 2012

Sharing Good Books: Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty - by Elle LothLorien

Sure, Claire Beau thought about sleeping with her doctor. With his moss green eyes and sexy petulance, neurologist Brendan Charmant is definitely worth fantasizing about. But she didn’t actually do it…did she?

Claire should be able to answer this simple question, but she has no idea. All she knows is that she met him in a sleep lab for an appointment one day, and woke up at home seven weeks later to find that he’s suddenly her warm and loving boyfriend instead of her cold and remote doctor. According to Brendan, her brother and all their friends, Claire is in the middle of a whirlwind love affair with him, a claim bolstered by the weeks of steamy emails and text messages the two of them have exchanged. But to Claire, he's just the arrogant doctor with only a passing interest in finding a diagnosis for her debilitating symptoms.

Claire Beau is afflicted with “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome,” a mysterious disorder that causes her to sleep for days at a time, and black out for entire weeks. Dr. Brendan Charmant might have given her the best night (or two, or three) of her life, but she has no memory of ever seeing him out of his white coat. Still, she can’t help finding herself more than willing to fall for him (again). After all, doesn’t every girl deserve a Prince Charming?

But when Brendan’s arrested, and she discovers that she’s the alleged victim of a heinous crime that she can’t recall, she’s crushed to find that her dream-come-true was all just a cruel illusion. Despite having no memory of the actual crime, there are mountains of damning evidence against him. So why is she risking everything to save both of them from this hellish, waking nightmare?


What got me interested in reading this book was finding out the author wrote a version with an alternate ending. (Janet Reid had posted about it on her blog.) There's something very tempting about getting to see the consequences of a different set of actions and decisions. Reading an interview with the author, she said something along the lines of going back to the tipping point and rewriting it from there. Ms. Lothlorien really cared about making sure the alternate timeline existed because the characters made slightly different choices, not just to appease fans in camp love rival. When I read that, I was sold. Someone who cares that much had to write an interesting book, right? Right. She didn't just swap out boy #2 for boy #1 and call it good. (Did I mention it was a love triangle?)

Yeah. Normally I rant and rave about love triangles. In YA fiction. Romance novels are a little different. I don't see them nearly as much, and if it furthers the plot, then I say go for it. When I say I've read several hundred romance novels in my life, I'm probably being conservative in my estimate. No joke. I won't disparage romance novelists and say once you've read one you've read them all, but there is a general story arc that's almost universal to romance novels. When you're well-read in a genre, you can probably tell how many pages are left just by what's happened without even looking at page numbers. It's not that they're predictable, they just follow a pretty standard format. And yeah... you know the girl has to end up with Mr. Right. It's law.

So this love triangle? Pretty interesting. There's no insta-love, well, not really anyway. There's also not the familiar romance arc. I looked down, sure I was 75% of the way through the book, but I was only like 22% done. Yeah. Shocker. And I kept reading until 4am because I couldn't put it down. I kept telling myself to go to bed but I couldn't. I HAD to know what happened next. I'd read spoilers (because of the interview talking about how she handled the alternate ending), and I still had no idea how it was going to all work out for these characters. I was anxious. There was some pretty serious shit going down.

This wasn't your girl meets hunk, girl and hunk have opposing goals or are at odds in other tension and conflict inducing ways, girl and hunk work it out and achieve happily ever after kind of story.

The MC doesn't remember big chunks of her life due to a medical condition, even though she's up and walking around. Certain events during those black out weeks cause her already complicated life to unravel around her.

I didn't need all the surfer lingo, honestly. It was like reading the surfer version of A Clockwork Orange. Yeah, she interpreted, but I think a sprinkle of surfer speak would've given us some flavor without reminding me why I don't care for Pointbreak. (Which she mentioned, funnily enough.) 

Was it transformative? Probably not. Then again, I don't expect to be transformed by every book I read, just transported. Did it transport me? Heck yeah. Did it turn the standard romance format on its ear (in a really good way?) Yup, yup. Will I read other things by this author? Oh yes. After all that, I'm not sure I'll read the alternate ending. I think she ended up with the right person, and I'd be a little squicked at her ending up with who I think is Mr. Wrong. Still, if I ever feel like rereading it, I might get the alternate version and read that instead, just to see. (I mean... at 2.99 it was pretty affordable.)

It was refreshing. I'd recommend it to people that don't need their romances to follow the standard arc, like some mystery, and don't mind feeling anxious because of shit hitting the fan.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wild Rumpus

Maurice Sendak--author  and illustrator--will always be remembered. All you artists and makers and doers, take a moment today for a wild rumpus... in memory of a true artist.

" I was gonna hide somewhere where nobody would find me and express myself entirely. I'm like a guerrilla warfare in my best books."
 --Maurice Sendak

And if you don't know anything about this visionary, Google is your friend. This man was and is an inspiration for children, for the LGBT community, for human beings.

"Please don't go. We'll eat you up. We love you so."
-Where the Wild Things Are