The “What?!” Moment: When a Book Jumps the Shark

We’ve all been there. You’re reading a book and then boom! Out of nowhere comes something totally jarring that makes you stop and exclaim, “What?!” You reread it several times because it’s so confusing and/or because it’s so ridiculous that you can’t believe it’s there. But no matter how many times you read it, it doesn’t change. Can you get past it? Does it annoy you so much that you can’t continue reading the book? In television, when a show reaches the point of no return and becomes so outlandish that it should probably be canceled, it’s referred to as “jumping the shark.” This phrase stems from an episode of Happy Days when Fonzie literally jumps over a shark while water skiing during a trip to California. See what I mean?

Sadly, a “what?!” moment happened while I was reading Sophie Kinsella’s new novel, Wedding Night. Let me preface what I’m about to say by making it clear that I’m a fan of her stand-alone novels. Twenties Girl is one of my favorite books of all-time, and I've Got Your Number is brilliant. I’ve never read the Shopaholic series. (I know, I know.) I saw the movie and loved it, though. But from what I hear, the movie is very different from the books.

Anyway, I was all revved up to read Wedding Night, had been counting down for months, pre-ordered it, and tweeted and posted on Facebook with glee when it finally arrived. To my utter disappointment, it didn't take long for me to become really frustrated. While at her son’s school, Fliss must make a hot air balloon project with him because her forgetful ex-husband failed to do so. She searches for something to make it with, and well, let’s just say that her choice is incredibly inappropriate. It’s ironic because she’s so upset with her ex and constantly trying to prove what a negligent parent he is and in general what a bad person he is, and then she does this. What a way to show how much better you are…humiliate yourself and your young son. When something is too idiotic and too unrealistic, it loses the comedy. I know Kinsella was going for funny with this scene, but comedy is grounded in reality. Ninety nine percent of parents wouldn’t do what Fliss did. That’s the problem. Unrealistic = unfunny. And that was all it took. I was out of the story. I had a lot of trouble getting past that, but I pushed on…and then boom! Fliss is having drinks with Lorcan and more “balloons” fly out of her purse for a repeat appearance. Please. Again, unrealistic. A contrived attempt at getting a laugh from readers.

I was also turned off by how over-the-top flaky Lottie is, and by how late into the book her marriage to Ben happens…I think 160 pages in or so. The book’s description already tells us that they get married and her sister tries to stop the honeymoon, so the build up to something we already know will happen is incredibly long. By page 300, I skipped to the end to confirm my prediction for the outcome, which was right. I can forgive a predictable story and actually quite enjoy them if they’re engaging. Unfortunately, this is not Kinsella’s best work. But that’s just my opinion. I’m still a fan of hers, and I’ll buy her next book, but my hopes won’t be quite as high. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. I’ll have to wait and see…

Note: This post isn’t meant to be hurtful or disrespectful toward Kinsella at all. Please don’t misinterpret it. I respect her and have said many times that she is one of the best chick lit writers out there. I know how much time, effort, and hard work goes into writing and publishing a book, so I know this was no small feat. I appreciate her dedication to the genre we all love so much. However, chick lit has evolved and moved past the bumbling heroines, or at least I want it to, and I know she can write a much better story with much better characters than Wedding Night. I look forward to what she comes up with next.
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Did you read Wedding Night? What did you think of it? Can you continue reading a book after it jumps the shark? Which books have you read that have a "what?!" moment?

Where Are the Romantic Comedies?


The last romantic comedy I saw in a movie theater was To Rome With Love last summer. And I’m pretty sure it was the only new rom-com I saw in a theater last year. I waited to rent The Five-Year Engagement because it looked awful, and I was right. I finally sat through a couple excruciating hours of that movie in October last year. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed. However, I absolutely loved This Means War, but it isn’t exactly a classic rom-com since it’s also a spy-thriller-action type movie. The real romantic comedy genre is practically nonexistent in film right now. Browsing through Moviefone’s list of movies coming soon, I see that there is only one romantic comedy being released this year, The Big Wedding. Only one. This is an outrage. Why do we have to suffer through countless sci-fi, thriller, vampire, and action movies, but we only get one decent romantic comedy per year? The biggest problem is that the genre as a whole has been branded as stupid. People seem to think that these movies are so formulaic and predictable that they aren’t worth anything. Well, guess what? The big blockbuster action movies are totally obvious as well. I wouldn’t exactly classify them as original. There’s a quest to conquer evil, lots of action and violence, then the good guys prevail over the bad guys. The end. So, why isn’t that stupid? Why, why, why is the romantic comedy genre the one that people love to hate the most? 

In recent years, the best romantic comedy released was The Proposal in 2009. Sandra Bullock has a knack for romantic comedies, and she’s my favorite actress. Two Weeks Notice is one of my all-time favorite movies. She gets rom-coms right. The Proposal is the type of rom-com we need more of now. It’s like the classics that came before: The Wedding Planner, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Sleepless in Seattle to name a few.  And I don’t mean similar in plot. I mean similar in how they make me feel. True fans of rom-coms know what I mean. As the credits roll, you get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside and can’t stop grinning and wishing that something funny and amazing and beautiful like what you just saw would happen in your own life.

Lately, I’ve turned to the Hallmark Channel for my romantic comedy fix. They’ve had a bunch of cute new made-for-TV rom-coms. So, maybe the answer to my question, “where are the romantic comedies?” is, “on TV.” Has this genre moved from the big screen to primarily the small screen now? People still want romantic comedies, even though the Hollywood big shots seem to think they can dictate what we want. Rom-com fans will go elsewhere to find the genre they love. Just like when the big publishers decided that people shouldn’t like chick lit anymore, declared it "dead," and stopped publishing it. We went elsewhere. We self-published. We went to indie publishers. We found a way around people telling us what to like and what not to like.  Maybe Hollywood should adapt more romantic comedy novels into movies. There are so many stories that are just waiting to be brought to life in movie form. Until then, I think I’ll watch When Harry Met Sally for the billionth time. 
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What do you think about the state of romantic comedies? Leave a comment and weigh in. 
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New Release: Cupid On Deck

My new novelette, Cupid On Deck, is available now!

Louise “Lou” Riley agrees to tag along with her friends on a Valentine’s Day cruise around Seattle’s Lake Union. Donning their best 1920s attire, they board the old-fashioned paddle wheeler steamboat for an evening that’s expected to be the bee’s knees. Lou plans to shed her third wheel status onboard when she joins Nate, who she’s been sweet on for months. But when a mishap sends the dashing (and single!) Landon Harper to her aid, Lou discovers that Cupid may have other plans for her love life, and she and Landon share an unforgettable few hours together. Then, a surprise announcement sends everyone into a frenzy. Will Lou and Landon live happily ever after? Or maybe Lou and Nate are meant to be… Find out where the cherub’s arrow lands in Cupid On Deck, a roaring good time aboard a love boat reminiscent of the jazz age.

Where to buy Cupid On Deck:
eBook: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Amazon UK, Nook UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon France, Amazon Italy, Amazon Spain, Amazon Germany

Chick Lit On TV: The Carrie Diaries, Episode 4

Nancy's Discussion of The Carrie Diaries, Episode 4

I didn't like last night's episode of The Carrie Diaries. At all. I really, really didn't like it. First of all, "Fright Night" was kind of ridiculous because, hello, it's February, not October. A Halloween episode now was simply out of place. Maybe the show was supposed to be picked up for the Fall, but got pushed to a mid-season replacement. I don't know. But I got past that quickly, and I was looking forward to some parties and costumes and innocent teenage fun. 

Instead, what I got was an episode full of underage drinking and drugs. Yes, that stuff happens, but it was excessive and unnecessary for a show that's in the 8pm time slot on the CW. And it's not so much the fact that it was in the episode, but more of how it was presented and for how long it went on. Basically, the entire episode consisted of Carrie by Larissa's side as Larissa rambled incoherently and passed out repeatedly from being high. Oh, and at one point, she almost jumped off the roof. The whole thing was repulsive, annoying, and as Carrie put it, "exhausting." That's exactly the word to describe this episode. Exhausting. It just went on and on and on without much substance (no pun intended). And Carrie was practically giddy to see Sebastian on her doorstep at the end of the night, which was ridiculous, too. He was there with Mouse, who he gave his pot to, and she got high for the first time in her life. Instead of leaving her, he brought her to Carrie's house and dumped the problem he created on Carrie. What a gentleman. And after that, he was back to calling Carrie by her last name, a sure sign that their relationship is on the mend. He's just so charming, right? Wrong. Not this time. I wasn't buying it. The only reason Sebastian's party even went on as long as it did was because Maggie blackmailed the cop she used to hook up with, who now refuses to have sex with her because he could lose his job and go to jail. I guess he finally woke up. By the end of the night, Maggie and Walt got back together because he's scared to admit that he's gay. 

Something about this show just isn't working. I think it's the huge contrast between Carrie's high school life and her life in the city. It's like there are two different shows being weaved together, and they don't quite gel well together. "Fright Night" was disappointing to say the least, and I hope this show gets better, otherwise I might have to say goodbye to Carrie and her friends. I don't want to give up on it just yet, though. 

I want to hear from you! What do you think of The Carrie Diaries? Love it? Hate it? Let's discuss! Share your reactions in the comments. Thanks!

Cover & Description Reveal: Cupid On Deck

My new novelette, Cupid On Deck, will be released very soon! I'm so excited to share the cover and description with you!

Louise “Lou” Riley agrees to tag along with her friends on a Valentine’s Day cruise around Seattle’s Lake Union. Donning their best 1920s attire, they board the old-fashioned paddle wheeler steamboat for an evening that’s expected to be the bee’s knees. Lou plans to shed her third wheel status onboard when she joins Nate, who she’s been sweet on for months. But when a mishap sends the dashing (and single!) Landon Harper to her aid, Lou discovers that Cupid may have other plans for her love life, and she and Landon share an unforgettable few hours together. Then, a surprise announcement sends everyone into a frenzy. Will Lou and Landon live happily ever after? Or maybe Lou and Nate are meant to be… Find out where the cherub’s arrow lands in Cupid On Deck, a roaring good time aboard a love boat reminiscent of the jazz age.