All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Everyone Else’s Girl – Megan Crane

Everyone Else’s Girl
Megan Crane
Quercus
2010, 251p
Read from my local library

Meredith has been called back to where she grew up because her former childhood best friend is marrying her brother and although they don’t speak anymore, that wasn’t a good enough excuse not to attend the hens night. Whilst she’s back at home, Meredith’s dad is involved in a car accident as he is returning from driving her mother to the airport for her flight to Europe for the ‘trip of a lifetime’ with her sister. He breaks his leg and as their house is ‘made up entirely of stairs’ it’s determined that someone has to look after him. Meredith’s brother and sister take giant steps back despite the fact that they still live at home (younger sister) and nearby (brother). Meredith now lives in Atlanta (the home is in New Jersey) but somehow it’s decided that Meredith is the perfect option. After all she doesn’t mind, she is always the nice one, doing nice things for people. And her job isn’t that important, not like her brother Christian’s job! And although her younger sister Hope has graduated from college and is just bumming around before doing some travelling, she’s playing the young and wildly irresponsible card. So Meredith arranges leave, tells her boyfriend Travis that she won’t be home for a while and settles back into her childhood bedroom to play nursemaid to her father.

Whilst in town she runs into Scott Sheridan, the school geek that Meredith’s brother bullied relentlessly, to the point of making up a game entitled “Scotty Sheridan sucks because…” that they would play on long car trips. Although Meredith never participated in the bullying as she was far too nice for that, she acknowledges that she didn’t exactly help either. But Scott Sheridan doesn’t look like a geek these days. Actually, Scott Sheridan is sort of hot. And Meredith finds herself oddly attracted to him and it seems he can’t stay away from her either.

Her time at her parents place will make her question everything – from what makes her happy, to her job and career options, to her wonderful relationship with Travis and if it is what she really wants. Her and her family will lay secrets and animosities bare and Meredith will face some home truths about her personality.

I read one of Megan Crane’s books, Frenemies, last year on a whim and really liked it. I was looking for something light and fluffy to read after completing Never Let Me Go so I thought another of her books might suit. While I liked this one, I didn’t like it as much as I liked Frenemies. And that’s because I kept getting infuriated when I read it. So mad in fact, that I’d have to put it down and take a few deep breaths and calm myself down before picking it up and going on with it. The reason?

Meredith. The main character. She was an insufferable doormat!

I know she truly saw herself as the good daughter/sibling, eager to please. The one that was nice, that was never mean to people, the one that people turned to. But when her father has an accident and needs care – although he only has a broken leg, so I’m not sure why that equals round the clock care, but anyway – her brother and sister basically bully and belittle her into doing it. Christian, her brother, is quite frankly, a massive douche. If my brother spoke to me the way Christian speaks to his sisters, I’d sock him in the mouth. He’s arrogant, self-important, patronising and a huge jerk who seems to think that he can boss people around whilst simultaneously stepping back because he’s far too busy and can’t be involved, despite living 30-40 minutes drive away from their father. His snide little “Oh Meredith can do it, she loves that sort of stuff, don’t you Meredith?” made me dislike him instantly and after that I couldn’t come back around to him at all, no matter what.

Meredith’s younger sister Hope is only fractionally better. Twenty-two and having just graduated, she actually still lives in the family house sponging off their parents, but isn’t available to do any of the caring because she can’t be bothered. Meredith is the reliable sister so Hope is embracing the young and irresponsible label to the point of ridiculousness. And people are fine with it. The father even makes a crack that he’s her only source of income presently but not sharply enough to actually suggest she earn it. She sleeps most days and goes out most nights and does very little at first but she sort of redeems herself a little during the course of the book by helping Meredith learn to loosen up and have a bit of fun and remember that she’s only in her late twenties, not seventy.

Even though her siblings annoyed me, I think Meredith herself annoyed me more for allowing herself to be treated this way. She’s basically belittled as having some unimportant job and life and told to uproot herself and look after their father and then her brother admonishes her several times for not doing a good enough job of it, but he’s not concerned enough to actually help out himself! I’d have told him to shove it but Meredith doesn’t stand up for herself because good girls apparently don’t do that. It meant that I couldn’t really settle in and enjoy the story, particularly the interactions with Scott Sheridan as much as I would’ve liked because I was always so irritated with the family dynamics.

6/10

Book #8 of 2012

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Frenemies – Megan Crane

29yo Augusta “Gus” Curtis had a plan. She was going to see in 30 as a grown up with a fantastic boyfriend, great friends, a job she loved and some partying. That all fell apart when she discovered her perfect boyfriend lip locked with her so-called friend Helen. Helen and Gus had roomed together in freshman year of college and although Gus’s other friends didn’t really have any time for her, Gus had always assumed they were good friends. She’d always been there for Helen when Helen needed her so she’s not sure quite why Helen repaid her by stealing her boyfriend. Although Helen is one of ‘those’ girls who doesn’t enjoy female companionship much and always gets along better with men, Gus thought that Helen had some loyalty towards her. What’s even worse is that Helen can’t seem to see that what she’s done is wrong and just wants to know why Gus is mad at her. Gus is a complete mess over the break up and goes through several humiliating moments, including karaoke singing a Janis Joplin song to ex-boyfriend Nate and boyfriend stealer Helen. As Gus’s best friends, Amy Lee and Georgia try to get her to see that her obsession with getting Nate back and understanding why Helen did what she did isn’t healthy, Gus can’t be told. She looks for hidden messages from Nate everywhere, convinced that he was ‘trapped’ by Helen and that deep down, he wants her back too. He just need to escape Helen’s clutches.

While Helen is trying to get Nate back and dealing with Helen, there’s also the problems of her best friends to consider. Georgia has a thing for unsuitable men and is forever picking up corporate sharks who discard her after a few weeks, leaving her bereft and bedridden in tears. There’s Amy Lee, the only married one who just wants everyone to grow up. And then there’s Henry…. Henry Benedict Farland IV, who rents Nate a room in his house, who has been on the periphery of Gus’s social circle for 10 years, who Georgia pined over for most of college and who let Gus into his house in order for her to find Nate and Helen kissing in the kitchen. But is Henry as evil as Gus  likes to believe? Maybe there was another reason he let her in that night, and not just for his personal amusement.

This was a random pick up from my local library – the colour of the cover caught my eye and so did the title. Because let’s face it – who hasn’t had one of those toxic frenemy types in their lives at some time? I like reading about women’s relationships and I’m an avid fan of all ends of the chick lit spectrum from the fanciful to the more serious ‘women’s fiction’ types. And this book was a really fun and quick enjoyable read that passed a lazy summers afternoon.

Gus is a bit of a mess – she’s still living in the same one bedroom apartment she’s had since college and her furniture is still the same mishmash of rejects found on the street that she’s had since college as well. Her walls are lined with posters and her books don’t have shelves, piling up all over the floor. She has a pretty cushy job as the librarian in a museum where she gets to catalogue and research how she wants and quite a lot of freedom. Her friends Amy Lee and Georgia, a dentist and lawyer respectively have moved onto the grown up train a little ahead of Gus but at the beginning of the book she truly doesn’t see that she is wallowing in her early 20’s when really she’s about to turn 30 and her college days are long ago. She’s likable but a bit nutty – totally done in by finding out that Nate betrayed her with Helen and she mostly lays the blame at Helen’s door, assuming that Helen trapped or seduced him. Someone ought to give her the heads up on ‘you can’t take what doesn’t want to be taken’ but she is at first, steadfast in her belief that poor Nate is innocent, having been tricked by the toxic Helen and it isn’t until almost the end of the book that the wool starts to lift from her eyes and she stops viewing Nate in such an idyllic light.

It’s something that happens plenty in the real world – we’ve either been there or know someone who has. It’s never the poor male’s fault, it’s always the witchy other woman and her seductive wiles. Especially when the male is one like Nate – affable, good looking, nice, probably a bit simple. He’s not exactly a deep character in the novel so you have to make assumptions about him based on what you’re given but he doesn’t strike me as being particularly intelligent. It’s mentioned several times that Nate has a long relationship history, not much of it particularly serious and he seems the type of man who ‘marks time’ with whoever is around until another woman comes along. And it’s obvious that he wasn’t that into Gus in the first place if he’s swayed by Helen, her supposed friend after just four months.

Helen was a bit of a weird character. At first I found it a bit hard to believe that she didn’t know that she was doing something wrong but then I was reminded of a few instances in my past where similar things have happened. Helen’s attitude was more that she was doing Gus a favour, because clearly it proved that Nate and Gus were not meant to be together – which was true, but it’s not the way that anyone ever wants to find that out, is it? She made good hatred fodder because she was so annoying and clueless and I wish that Gus had actually given her a bit more of a serve throughout the book instead of standing there bemusedly gaping like a fish at Helen Logic, which made very little sense and deserved a pretty good smackdown.

Henry was delightful – I love rich, male slutty types with hidden depths who clearly have eyes for the main character which she’s totally oblivious too. At first he comes across like  he might be the villain but it’s a wonderfully fun journey when you realise he’s not. This book is not without its flaws – Gus is at times just a little too neurotic. It stops being amusing and strays into irritating, wanting-to-smack-her territory and her obsession with Nate and Helen goes on just a fraction too long. And the fight she has with her friends is a bit weird, but I suppose some of the worst fights in real life can be over the most trivial things. But overall it was just a soothing read – good girls like Gus who get jerked around by boyfriends/so called friends can win in the end. And who doesn’t like a happy ending?

7/10

Book #2 of 2011

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