#BestsellerCode100: Reader’s Review of Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

As we pick back up our Bestsellers List reading challenge, Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire is the first book to review.  For a summary of Beautiful Disaster, please check out its introductory post.

This post might contain spoilers.

Beautiful Disaster* by Jamie McGuire

It’s All In The Title

“Beautiful Disaster” is the perfect title for this Bad-Boy romance.  It is obvious that Abby & Travis have an immediate connection the very first time they meet.  Whether they can overcome their pasts and find their happily-ever-after future is what compels the reader to keep reading to the end of the book.

As Roberta mentioned in her Writer’s Review, within the first few pages it felt like I was back reading Fifty Shades of Grey, only with better language and a slightly more believable situation.  I say “slightly” because there were many aspects of this story I didn’t buy into – Abby and Travis remaining celibate while sleeping in the same bed for a month and Travis not getting hauled off to jail the second or third (or fourth) time he punched some random guy in the face are two prime examples. Of the two, Beautiful Disaster was better written, but both novels moved along quickly with the same roller coaster plot line dynamic.

Publishing Similarities

It’s interesting to note that both Beautiful Disaster and Fifty Shades of Grey were originally self-published in 2011, both were acquired by established publishing firms in 2012, and both became bestsellers.  Beautiful Disaster didn’t have quite the massive success that Fifty Shades of Grey experienced, but I’d say a book that has been translated into over fifty languages worldwide didn’t do too badly.

Beautiful Disaster is told from Abby’s point of view, while the second book in the series, Walking Disaster, is the same story told from Travis’ point of view.  I’ve noticed that this is a common way for self-published authors to sell more ebooks.  McGuire concluded the series with a novella about Travis & Abby’s wedding, titled – are you ready? – “A Beautiful Wedding.

A Compulsive Read?

It’s always interesting to read the reviews that readers leave on Amazon and Goodreads.  Those readers who were able to overcome the co-dependency and borderline abusive / stalker aspects of Travis and Abby’s relationship stated that  Beautiful Disaster was a “page turner,” a “fun story,” and “a powerful love story.”  Unfortunately for me, I found it was none of these.  I couldn’t overcome my dislike of the negative aspects of their relationship.  And then, on page 355, there was one more downward spiral, one more massive misunderstanding between Abby and Travis, and that was the last straw for me.  From then on, I skimmed pages in an effort to finish the book.  I ceased caring if they ever worked things out and made it to their happily-ever-after future.

We’ve read some romances in this challenge that I thoroughly enjoyed. The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst was so good that I immediately read the other two books in that series.  Needless to say, I won’t be looking for rest of this “Disaster” series.

You can also join us on social media:

Have you written about Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 52. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005) – Discussion begins December 17, 2018
Literary Fiction

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Review of Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Time to review Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire from a writer’s perspective

This post might contain spoilers.

Beautiful Disaster* by Jamie McGuire


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Travis Maddox has the reputation for fighting and one night stands. When he meets good girl Abby Abernathy she keeps him at arm’s length, which makes Travis want her even more. To get closer to her, he proposes a bet. If she wins he must refrain from having sex for a month or if she loses, Abby must move in with Travis for a month. What possibly could go wrong?

Genre

Beautiful Disaster is the relatively recent genre called New Adult (NA) fiction. According to GoodReads, St. Martin’s Press came up with the idea in 2009. NA books feature  protagonists who are 18–25 years old, and concerned with going to college or figuring out career choices as well as navigating adult sexual experiences. As with many New Adult novels, this one is also a romance.

Characters

The protagonist of the book is 18-year-old college student Abby Abernathy. Abby is a virgin who has come to college far from home to escape her father and his reputation. When she meets Travis Maddox with his rippling muscles and tattoos, she must resist his attention to avoid ending up in a similar situation as the one she left . Travis has both anger management issues and commitment issues. Passive/aggressive Abby insists they have a platonic relationship, setting up the “will they or won’t they” trope (see romance tropes).

 

Travis Maddox is the classic anti-hero bad boy, but also has a charming and vulnerable side. Looking through other reviews, readers either love Travis Maddox or they disapprove of his over-the-top, abusive behavior. It is to Jamie McGuire’s credit that many of the most passionate reviews attack Travis. They have suspended their disbelief about a made-up guy — one who was created to develop tension in the plot– to the point they talk about him as if he were a real person. That shows McGuire’s ability to writing complex, authentic characters.

I, on the other hand, could not suspend my disbelief entirely. These days if Travis had actually attacked multiple people with his fists as he does in the book, he would be in jail for assault. It also wasn’t entirely believable that Abby and Travis would sleep together night after night and still be “just friends.” Obviously, this novel is fiction.

Discussion

On the plus side, the book is a quick, easy read. I finished it in one sitting. It was pleasant if you were looking for escapism.

On the negative side, there were a few flaws. As I mentioned in the Book Beginnings post, McGuire uses many exclamation points in the first few pages to emphasize that things are loud! Very loud! She uses exclamation points more often than is recommended and could easily have been omitted with a few well-chosen descriptions. However, the good news is that as I became immersed in the reading the exclamation points faded into the background and were easy to ignore.

As a quick note, Karen and I immediately thought of one of the previous books in the challenge, Fifty Shades of Grey. Both novels are flights of fantasy with bad boys driving them, but the characters in Beautiful  Disaster are regular people, not kinky billionaires. Somehow the fact that Beautiful Disaster was more grounded in the real world made it easier to accept the romantic fantasy aspects for me.

Overall, I would say that Beautiful Disaster is neither beautiful or a disaster. It is simply entertainment to be enjoyed in the moment.

Join us on social media:

Have you written about Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 52. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005) – Discussion begins December 17, 2018
Literary Fiction

#BookBeginnings The Girl Who Drew Butterflies

For something different, I’m reading a middle grade/young adult nonfiction title The Girl Who Drew Butterflies by Joyce Sidman for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-butterflies

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies by Joyce Sidman

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  A biography of seventeenth century artist, adventurer, and scientist Maria Merian.

In another life, I review children’s books at Wrapped in Foil blog. The last month or so I’ve been a round one judge for a children’s book contest, Cybils and along with a number of other judge’s I’ve read 130+ children’s books (this is one of them.) It has been a challenge, but a fun and educational one.  By the way, if you  are looking for gift ideas for kids, the Cybils nomination lists are a great way to find new books (published in the last year) already sorted by age and genre.

First Sentence:

A girl kneels in her garden. It is 1660, and she has just turned thirteen:  too old for a proper German girl to be crouching in the dirt, according to her mother.

Discussion:

This is a beautiful book. Between Maria Merian’s gorgeous paintings of flowers and insects, and Joyce Sidman’s lovely photographs, it is hard to tear your eyes away to read the text. But Maria’s story is pretty fascinating, too.

I know they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I really like biographies written for children, particularly picture book biographies. Author’s of picture books have distilled an entire life to fit into 32 pages. That is amazing to me.

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies is technically a middle grade level book, but I think it could easily work for older kids, too.

What do you think?  Is it something you might be interested in reading?

#amwriting Finding the Path

A few days ago I walked across a grassy patch near my house. A silvery dew covered the area and I could see footprints.

When I turned back, I noticed something that startled me.

I thought I had been walking in a straight line, but instead I had wandered back and forth.

It is natural. People who get lost in the woods or in the desert — where there are few landmarks — begin to loop around and walk back to where they started (LiveScience discusses our tendency to circle).

The way to correct the wavering is to focus on an object in the distance, such as a tree, and head for it. I tried it. When I checked my path, it had worked.

As I thought about it more, I realized it was a good metaphor for my life right now. I feel like I’m wandering lost, rather than pushing toward a writing goal.

The problem is I have many, many projects and so my goals are a forest rather than a tree. No wonder I’m getting nowhere.

It’s time to thin the forest. It’s time to focus.

Too bad it is so hard to figure out which ones have the most value or even will bear fruit.

How do you decide which projects are worthwhile? 

#BestsellerCode100: Number 53. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listBeautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire.

This post does not contain spoilers.

Beautiful Disaster* by Jamie McGuire


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

Summary: When good girl Abby Abernathy meets bad boy Travis Maddox, she resists his charm because he has the reputation for one night stands. Her keeping him at arm’s-length makes Travis want Abby even more. To get closer to her, he proposes a bet. If she wins he must refrain from sex for a month or if she loses, Abby must move in with Travis for a month.

This novel is a defined as a “new adult” romance. It is followed by a loosely linked series featuring the Maddox brothers, including Beautiful Oblivion, Beautiful Redemption, and Beautiful Sacrifice.

Have you read Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 52. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005) – Discussion begins December 17, 2018
Literary Fiction

#BookBeginnings Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

After being on hiatus  for a few months Karen and I are going to resume reading The Bestseller Code list, starting with number 53, Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there.

book-beginnings-Jamie-mcGuire

Beautiful Disaster* by Jamie McGuire


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

Summary: When good girl Abby Abernathy meets bad boy Travis Maddox, she resists his charm because he has the reputation for one night stands. Her keeping him at arm’s-length makes Travis want Abby even more. To get closer to her, he proposes a bet. If she wins he must refrain from sex for a month or if she loses, Abby must move in with Travis for a month.

This novel is a defined as a “new adult” romance. It is followed by a loosely linked series featuring the Maddox brothers, including Beautiful Oblivion, Beautiful Redemption, and Beautiful Sacrifice.

First Sentence:

Everything in the room screamed that I didn’t belong. The stairs were crumbling, the rowdy patrons were shoulder to shoulder, and the air was a medley of sweat, blood, and mold.

The first paragraph drew me right in. I wanted to know who was narrating and where they were. What is going to happen?

The second paragraph made me cringe.

“Keep your cash in your wallet, Abby!” America called to me. Her broad smile gleamed even in the dim light.
“Stay close! It’ll get worse once it starts!”

Notice anything about the second paragraph?

Exclamation points! Five on the first page! Ten by the end of the second page! Fifteen by the end to the third page!

If you have ever taken a writing course, you know that overuse of exclamation points is a common writing  mistake. Helping Writers Become Authors website has a clear discussion why you should avoid using so many.

By the way, I tend to call them exclamation marks. Maybe I read too many British mysteries when I was younger? Do you call them marks or points?

I haven’t read a good romance in some time, so I’m going to stick with it. I suspect I will not notice them so much once I get into the story.

What do you think? Do exclamation points stop you when you are reading?

Have you read anything by Jamie McGuire?

Happy Thanksgiving!

#BookBeginnings Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly

Let’s take a look at Michael Connelly’s Dark Sacred Night for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-Gershkowitz

Dark Sacred Night* by Michael Connelly

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  When Detective Renée Ballard, who works the night shift in Hollywood, runs into retired detective Harry Bosch rummaging through department case files she tells him to leave. Curious, she opens the files and discovers he was digging into in an unsolved murder of a teenage runaway.  What she reads about the case hooks her and soon she reluctantly joins Bosch in  the investigation

First Sentence of Dark Sacred Night:

The patrol officers had left the front door open. They thought they were doing her a favor, airing the place out. But that was a violation of crime scheme protocol regarding evidence containment.

Discussion:

Connelly introduced Renée Ballard as a stand alone character in the novel The Late Show last year.  Now he’s teamed her up with the character of his longest running series, Harry Bosch. I have a feeling sparks are going to fly between the two detectives, but not the romantic kind.

My stepfather introduced me to Michael Connelly. His books stand out as police procedurals because he obviously does his research to keep up with the latest crime fighting techniques.

What do you think? Have you ever read a mystery/police procedural by Michael Connelly?

#BookBeginnings The Operator by Howard Gershkowitz

Today I’m reading a friend’s debut novel, The Operator by Howard Gershkowitz for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-Gershkowitz

The Operator*by Howard Gershkowitz

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Harold Russell takes his wife Laura to an historical hotel in Prescott, Arizona for a much-needed vacation.  While admiring an antique switchboard, a young switchboard operator using a brand-new version appears and talks to him. Because his wife can’t see or hear her, Harold wonders if he’s seeing ghosts. Another encounter with the young woman, whose name is Talia, in the middle of the night leads him to realize he’s traveling back in time to 1929. Using his knowledge that the Great Depression is imminent, he and Talia hatch a plan to prevent it. Arriving back in 2017, he finds the plan has failed, but Talia has left him a fortune and another plan to prevent an even bigger catastrophe.

First Sentence:

Journal Entry
December 21, 2016
7 a.m., Starbucks Dobson and Frye, Chandler, Arizona

It’s been a long time since Laura and I have gone away together. I don’t know if it’ll do much good, but it’s worth a try.

Discussion:

I met Howard Gershkowitz at a writers group at our local library a few years ago, so I’ve had glimpses of this novel coming together. It is exciting that it is finally published. He never revealed the ending to our group, so we finally get to learn what happens.

The novel mentions a number of real places in Arizona, which is fun for locals to read.

What do you think?

#amwriting Studying Lethal White

The fourth novel in Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series, Lethal White, came out last month. The author (actually J.K. Rowling) has shaken up the typical mystery format in this novel. Does it work?

Lethal White* by Robert Galbraith

(*Amazon Affiliate Link)

The typical mystery reveals something about a crime in the prologue or first chapter, usually within the first few pages. In book one of the Cormoran Strike series, Cuckoo’s Calling, Rowling follows the formula when a model dies in essentially the first scene (link is to my review). For this novel, however, she shakes things up. In fact, a crime is not mentioned until after page 40. Let’s take a look at an analogy to explain what she’s done.

Analogy

In most series, the relationship between ongoing characters, that is, the characters who are present in all or most of the books, changes and evolves over time. This forms a story arc. Using an analogy, the ongoing story of the main characters is like a stream which flows through the novels. The main mystery is what readers came to see, so the stream drifts along in the background while the main mystery plays out on the stream bank in the forefront. The stream is important, however, because it motivates readers to move on to the next novel when the main mystery has wrapped up at the end of each book.

Let’s emphasize:  the ongoing story arc is a backdrop, part of the staging.

Public domain photograph by Karen Arnold at PublicDomainPictures.Net

In Lethal White, Rowling points the camera at the story line of the two main characters. In effect, she focuses on the stream.

The two detectives, Robin and Cormoran, have had a mutual attraction that they continue to ignore, which is called the “will they or won’t they?” trope. The prologue of Lethal White features Robin marrying her longtime boyfriend Matthew while pining openly for Cormoran. At her wedding! Nothing dysfunctional about that, is there? The prologue sets the tone for the rest of the novel.

Does The Change of Focus Work?

Although I am all for shaking up writing formulas, in this case it hasn’t worked.

When the mystery finally shows up on page 40, it plays out mostly on the far shore. The reader begins to wonder if the series has turned into a poorly-plotted romance. Eventually Rowling brings the crime to front and center, but by then at least some readers have lost interest.

If the “stream” (romance) had turned out to be a gushing torrent with whitewater and waterfalls, then the shake up might have been successful. As it is, the “stream” is barely a drizzle.

Turns out, the main crime is how much I paid for a novel that doesn’t live up to its promise.

(Robert Galbraith novels summary page)

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