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Book Review: In the Event of Love by Courtney Kae

Image of a digital book cover. This is a cartoon style drawing Pine trees make up the background. On the left is a blond white woman in a pink coat, torn jeans, and knee high boots with a cowboy hat. On the right is a brunette woman in a red flannel shirt, khakis, and work boots, holding an axe on a stump. There's a Christmas wreath behind her.

Summary:
With her career as a Los Angeles event planner imploding after a tabloid blowup, Morgan Ross isn’t headed home for the holidays so much as in strategic retreat. Breathtaking mountain vistas, quirky townsfolk, and charming small businesses aside, her hometown of Fern Falls is built of one heartbreak on top of another . . .

Take her one-time best friend turned crush, Rachel Reed. The memory of their perfect, doomed first kiss is still fresh as new-fallen snow. Way fresher than the freezing mud Morgan ends up sprawled in on her very first day back, only to be hauled out via Rachel’s sexy new lumberjane muscles acquired from running her family tree farm.

When Morgan discovers that the Reeds’ struggling tree farm is the only thing standing between Fern Falls and corporate greed destroying the whole town’s livelihood, she decides she can put heartbreak aside to save the farm by planning her best fundraiser yet. She has all the inspiration for a spectacular event: delicious vanilla lattes, acoustic guitars under majestic pines, a cozy barn surrounded by brilliant stars. But she and Rachel will ABSOLUTELY NOT have a heartwarming holiday happy ending. That would be as unprofessional as it is unlikely. Right?

Review:
This is a thoroughly queer holiday romance for your holiday needs. It has the returning to my small town from the big city to try to save a small business trope. It also has the second chance love trope.

The two main characters in this sapphic romance are BOTH (!) bisexual (and say the word), which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before in a romance. There’s a secondary male character who I think is bisexual, although it’s possible he’s gay and has dated women in the past (no one ever says which). There’s another secondary gay character, and a trans woman of color. The owner of the business Morgan works for is a woman of color. A tertiary character is a woman of color married to a Jewish man. Chrismukkah happens briefly. There’s also a pine tree decorated for a mix of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

The sex scenes are steamy and on-screen (all f/f), and there were at least three? Maybe more? I lost count. There’s also one ahem, self-love scene, which I honestly skimmed over because that’s not something I’m personally into reading. I appreciate that it did move the plot forward and wasn’t pointless though. (The character essentially clears her head in this way and then is able to solve a problem she’s been puzzling over).

The one thing I didn’t like was how alcohol is handled in this book. Rachel (the love interest)’s dad has alcoholism. That’s absolutely fine to include. In fact, it’s generally something I’m happy to see. But the representation of this struck false. The main thing that really bothered me is how Rachel interacts with alcohol herself. The book establishes that she’s traumatized by her dad’s alcoholism. It tore the family apart in high school. He’s been in and out of rehab that her and her brother pay for. Her mom left the family after Rachel (the youngest) graduated high school. Rachel routinely drops by her dad’s apartment (that she and her brother pay for) to check for signs of alcohol. YET she STILL drinks regularly. Not occasionally. Regularly. Most people I know who’ve seen this much of the negative impacts of alcohol won’t even allow it in their homes, let alone go out drinking themselves regularly.

Plus, there’s the whole instigation event to Morgan coming back to Fern Falls. (I don’t consider this a spoiler because it happens in chapter one). She gets wasted out at a bar and accidentally kisses the fiancé of someone whose wedding she’s organizing. He’s “in disguise” because he has a hoody on, but we all know she’d have recognized him if she wasn’t drunk. Anyway, everyone knows about this because the news wrote it up. We know Rachel knows about it. She still goes for Morgan. No way. No adult child of an alcoholic would set themselves up like that. I overlooked it because it’s a cheesy romance, but this is not a realistic depiction of an adult child of an alcoholic who’s actively engaged in their recovery. Adult children of alcoholics tend to fall either into the camps of also alcoholics themselves or sober. Rachel falls into neither. I feel weird complaining about realism in a holiday romance novel, but this is real life for a lot of us, and I disliked it being used as a plot device poorly. Alcoholism is serious, and Rachel wouldn’t be casually getting drunk with some love interest who’s only home because she became a hashtag while doing something drunk. In fact, I think this was a missed opportunity for some real bonding. They could have been at a town event and both noticed they were drinking hot chocolate. Rachel reveals the stuff about her dad. Morgan reveals she’s decided to dial it way back with the alcohol after possibly losing her career on that night out. Instant believable bond. But no….they just share spiked drinks.

All of that said, I still gave it four stars because this is a fun holiday romance. It’s not supposed to be that serious! And the bisexual rep is so uncommon and needed. I just wish the alcoholism/adult children of alcoholics rep was just as well done.

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4 out of 5 stars

Length: 320 pages – average but on the longer side

Source: NetGalley

Buy It (Amazon or Bookshop.org)

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Friday Fun! (Happy Festivhanumas!)

December 23, 2011 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  Yes, I totally made up that amalgamation of the three holidays I’m celebrating this year, but I think it works, yes?

For Festivus, which is today, I mostly just air grievances.  I suppose I could wrestle my cat like my friend Sara does with hers, but I do that quite a bit anyway, so not so special.  I will be airing grievances on twitter today (I can just hear my twitter followers saying AS USUAL ahem), but I also will air a few book and book blogging related ones here.  I hate that horrible stupid books like The Help and Twilight get all the acclaim and backing from publishing houses while non-white, non-western, and non-traditional ones get ignored.  I really can’t stand that stupid Waiting on Wednesday meme, and I honestly do not get it.  I hate it when bloggers don’t write their own book summaries and instead grab them from Amazon or GoodReads or what-not.  I honestly do not like Book Blogger Appreciation Week. It reminds me a lot of the voting for homecoming king and queen in highschool.  I hate it when authors and/or publishers either read your review requests rules and ignore them or skip reading them altogether before contacting you.  *exhales*  See why Festivus is awesome?

Thankfully Chanukkah involves 8 crazy nights, so I have lots of chances to celebrate it both contemplatively alone and with friends!  I’ve already been lighting my candles (very late) when I get home from the gym with my kitty.  She’s been pretty good about not tackling the menorah.  So far.  But this weekend I will be celebrating with three different friends–Nina, Josh, and Sara.  Josh I haven’t seen in um….two years? So I’m super-excited for his visit!  I am also looking forward to making latkes and having an excuse to eat sour cream.  Also to reading The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, which is now a tradition since my dad gave it to me last yearish. It may have been the year before.

Comparatively, my Christmas is low-key this year, since I spent Thanksgiving with my family.  I finally pulled out my (short fake) tree last night, but still need to decorate it.  The cat, however, is very pleased with the ability to hide behind and just generally sniff it.  I’ve already watched The Grinch and Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas.  All that’s left for the annual viewing is Claymation Christmas.  I still have some gift swapping to do with friends and some to hand out to those folks you’re supposed to give gifts to (like landlords), but I’m very close to being done!  And then it is

ON TO NEW YEAR’S MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY AND THIS YEAR @BITCHYLIBRARIAN IS VISITING ME FOR IT AHHHHHH

 

Friday Fun! (Happy Hanukkah!)

December 3, 2010 6 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  It’s certainly been a busy week here in Boston.  The holidays are officially in full swing, so on top of finishing up my final semester of grad school, I’ve been balancing everything that goes along with the holidays.

I hit up the sales on Saturday after all the crowds were mostly gone and picked up a couple of things I’ve been needing, including a rectangular baking dish, a bread pan, and a coffee maker.  The coffee maker was massively on sale, and I know it will save me a lot of money compared to buying coffee every day at Dunks.  So far, I’ve only forgotten my traveling mug full of coffee once…..  I already put the bread pan to good use by making banana bread.  In lieu of regular plain yogurt, I used pineapple Greek yogurt, and you guys, it was to die for.  The bread was incredibly moist.  I think this may be the secret to nommy banana bread.

I also did about half my holiday shopping (entirely online.  I’m a cyber maven).  Most of what’s left includes baking massive amounts of baked goods for various people including the mailman, coworkers, etc….  I then decorated my apartment with the few holiday decorations I actually have.  It didn’t take too long, particularly since my fake tree is pretty tiny.

Wednesday night was the first night of Hanukkah, which I celebrated with my cat.  She seems to have forgotten the menorah between last year and this year.  She loves sitting in the window with the menorah to the extent that I have to lock her in another room while the candles are burning.  Last night, for the second night of Hanukkah, I went over to my friends’ Nina and E’s apartment.  We celebrated with their downstairs neighbors/landlady.  We made three different types of latkes and had them with sour cream, homemade apple sauce, and homemade grape juice.  Then Nina and E gave me my Chrismukkah presents, and they know me so well!  I was totally blown away at the wide assortment of baking accessories, craft projects, cat accessories, and naturally a book that they gave me.  🙂  I have the bestest friends.  Next week, on the last night of Hanukkah, they’ll come to me and get their presents from me.  I’m excited for them to see what I got them!

Happy holidays to all.  I hope you’re already enjoying and celebrating this lovely month instead of letting the holidays stress you out.

The Joy of Doing Less During the Holidays

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

No doubt about it, the holidays are a busy time of year.  There’s presents to buy and wrap, parties to go to, people to see, travelling to do, baked goods to make, decorating to do, and more.  If you’re at all like me, it can all add up to stress.

Looking back on last week, I see that I did a lot of things that should have been fun, but I was so stressed out that the stress over-shadowed the parts I should have been enjoying.  I was constantly plotting to make it to everything (not to mention to stay awake) instead of just enjoying the moment.  I realized this yesterday, and worked to make my week this week less stressful, but thinking about it this morning, I remembered a blog post from one of my favorite zen blogs, Zen Habits, entitled The Lazy Manifesto: Do Less. Then, Do Even Less.

The jist of it is that minimalism isn’t just about what stuff you own.  Minimalism is also about doing less and enjoying it more.  I think the benefits of this are easy to see if you just think about the last time you were distracted doing one activity out of a worry to get to the next one on-time.  Now imagine if the first activity was the only one you were doing that day.  See how that works?

If you live in the moment and enjoy it to the fullest, you don’t need to hyper-schedule yourself.  Instead of going to every single holiday party, choose two for the month to go to and really go all-out at them.  Don’t be afraid to tell friends or family no, you can’t come, you don’t have time, even if you don’t have time just because you want to spend that evening at home baking cookies and watching Christmas specials.

I really like this idea of doing less, but doing it to your fullest.  I think as Americans we have the tendency to overschedule ourselves for god only knows what reason.  Maybe some lingering Puritan philosophy about idle hands being the devil’s plaything.  Regardless, there is such a thing as doing too much during the holidays, so don’t be afraid to say no and limit just how many festivities you partake in.  Partake in fewer to a more full extent.  I think you might wind up surprised at how truly festive you’ll feel.

Friday Fun! (On Thursday)

December 10, 2009 4 comments

You guys get Friday Fun a day early this week, since I’m taking a three day weekend to visit my family in Vermont–father, brother, nephew, sister-in-law, grandmother, aunt, and uncle.  I didn’t go up for Thanksgiving, since I had to work the day after, and Christmas is out of the question since that’s pretty much exactly when my very pregnant sister-in-law is due.  So, we decided to do a visit mid-December and a visit mid-January instead.  I like it.  It means I get to skip lots of the holiday traffic.

Last Saturday was the first time I’ve washed my laundry in machines since June.  Now, don’t think I’ve been wearing dirty clothes; I haven’t.  I don’t have a washer/dryer at my apartment, and the nearest laundromat is a solid 1.25 miles away, so I’ve been handwashing everything.  Yes, including towels.  Well a couple of weeks ago, my drying rack broke (we’re fairly certain the kitty broke it), and I hadn’t had time to pick up a new one, so my laundry pile was enormous.  Thus on Saturday I decided it was necessary to use machines if I was ever going to catch up, and guys can I just say, holy crap I’d forgotten what fabric softened clothes and towels feel like.  *sighs*  I don’t mind the upper body workout of handwashing, but my god I miss the fabric softener.

Also this weekend I officially became addicted to Lost.  I’d almost finished the first season, which I was enjoying but not loving.  But I decided to watch the season finale and start the second season anyway.  Omg, the second season.   I wound up having a mini-marathon, and I am now determined to catch up before the new season starts in February.  The only other shows I’ve ever enjoyed this much are Buffy and True Blood, and I have to say that I think True Blood comes slightly behind Lost.  I know; I can hear you gasping now.  I am so into it; I even do the yelling at the screen thing. (Please remember I’m only in the second season, so no spoilery comments puhleeze!)

I wrapped all the presents I’ve bought so far, and they are now camped out under the tree.  I’m almost completely done with my Chrismukkah shopping.  I need to pick up a couple of little things, a present for my grandmother, and something for the kitty (yes I buy my pets Chrismukkah presents).  Also a few presents I bought online haven’t arrived yet, and I need to bake cookies.  It all sounds so busy, but it’s all stuff I enjoy doing, so I don’t mind.

I had really meant to get a book review up this week for the next Dark Tower book, but I still have about 50 pages to go, so it looks like you’ll have to wait for that until next week.  It has been a very busy week with finals and life and all that, so I’m not too surprised I haven’t quite finished it.

Next week I’m giving my final presentation in class with my teammate, and then I’ll officially be on winter vacation!  I’m also having some friends over for a Chrismukkah gathering, and other holiday activities.  As long as I survive the visit home, it should be a pretty awesome week.

Friday Fun!

December 4, 2009 11 comments

Reading other people’s blogs (most notably The Story Siren and Medieval Bookworm) made me decide my blog needs a bit of a consistent humanizing element to it.  Non-opinion posts that just give you a general sense of who the hell this person is who’s yacking to you about books, movies, and general opinions.  To that end I’ve decided to start this new (hopefully consistent) feature–Friday Fun!–in which I will ramble about general Amanda-stuff.  I hope you enjoy.

This week I became the proud owner of both a menorah and a 3 foot tall fake Christmas tree.  I can hear my family now.  “Whaaat?!  You bought a fake tree?!”  But you see, a fake tree is easier and cheaper, so I’m happy.  I’ll also need to skip the tinsel for the first year ever due to the presence of the kitty.  She totally would eat the tinsel and we’d get to spend a lovely night in the MSPCA ER.  As for the menorah, it’s the first time I’ll be the one in charge of lighting it.  For the last five years, it was always a roommate or hallmate who did, so I’ve taken it upon myself to learn the Hanukkah prayers.  My friend Nina helped me get the basics, but I found this website last night to help me practice when she’s not around.

I am a major online holiday shopper, and a lot of the presents I’ve been buying arrived this week.  I have quite the stash in my closet, and I need to acquire wrapping paper so they can wind up under the tree.  Seeing all the wrapped presents is one of my favorite things.  I’ve looked for wrapping paper twice so far, but finding non-holiday-specific ones for my Chrismukkah celebrations hasn’t been going too well.  And no, I don’t like snowman paper.

On the sour note, last night my downstairs neighbors complained about me walking around my apartment.  Yes, walking.  Personally my first reaction is that they should suck it up and deal because they knew what they were getting into when they chose an apartment that’s not on the top floor.  It’s not like I was dancing or running circles or something.  Upon reflection after she left, however, I realized that the new kitty addition does have a tendency to run circles (and bounce off walls and randomly do dances) in the evening, and perhaps this is what the neighbors have been hearing.  I can sort of sympathize with this, but it doesn’t seem to me there’s much I can do about it.  It’s not my fault the landlord has wood floors on the top floor of the apartment building.  I’m thinking of stopping by and letting them know it’s probably the cat they’re hearing, so they at least know (unless that’s unnecessary?), but in the meantime, any suggestions on how to deal with the neighbors?

This weekend my plans are a bit up-in-the-air, but I do plan on decorating the tree, maybe hanging out with some friends, and reading more.  It’d been a long time since I’ve read a series, and I’m really enjoying the cozy familiarity I’m starting to feel with the main characters in both The Dark Tower and Sookie Stackhouse.  Of course I also have a couple of movies on my radar to watch.  You’ll just have to wait til next week to find out what they are!

Peace!