The House at Review Corner – Make Every Man Want You

Go to any bookstore (do people still do that?) and you will see hundreds of them – books that fall under the category of “self-help.” Sometimes you will find people standing in these aisles, paperbacks up to their faces, eagerly devouring whatever nuggets they can.

I am not one of these people. I don’t “do” self-help as a general rule, as the very words just make me think of Dr. Phil and his Southern-fried philosophy on “communication.”

Do you point at me, sir? How dare you!!

People change, however.

I don’t delve too much into my personal life on this blog, except where it intersects with my current snark-fest. If you’ve been a reader of BWP for a while, I used to occasionally drop references to “the boyfriend” and then, later, “husband-to-be.” Well, it didn’t work out – and by this, I mean it exploded in my face in a spectacular fashion last year. Suffice to say, I was utterly blindsided and crushed. The verbal bomb was dropped on a Sunday morning (see ‘spectacular fashion’) and I had maybe three humiliating hours in which to take my things and vacate the premises.

Breakups happen; they’ve happened to me. This one has hurt way more than anything else. A good friend recommended a self-help book that she found useful after she had her own relationship crash and burn. I gave it the mental side-eye for a second, but then, I thought, Let this be a new era of Nicole, and give it a try.

Imagine my surprise when I actually found it helpful! I moved on to another one, and that one was also useful in its way.

Of course, there have been horrible ones. Let’s face it: everyone and their cat is some sort of guru or expert these days, and most of it is the same rehashed BS we’ve all heard before. And, getting back to the snark, THOSE are the ones on which we will be focusing for this new occasional segment I’d like to call, The House at Review Corner.

Let’s begin with one I finished last night, entitled Make Every Man Want You: how to be so irresistible you’ll barely keep from dating yourself!

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Creepy, creepy Comix (All Romances, Volume 2)

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since we last visited with each other, dear reader. Especially since I found the following gem RIGHT AFTER reading Garden of Shadows.

“He Suspected the Worst,” from Volume 2 of All Romances. The year is 1949, and this is the second story in the magazine.

We open with a girl standing on a broken bridge, rescued by a handsome youth with an unfortunate-looking jacket. Once on safer ground, the girl introduces herself in an odd way:

All Romances    Ace  archiver USA #2 (1949) - Page 11

Not, “Hi, I’m your step-sister, Leslie?” Not that it matters, as our young man is suddenly obnoxious, calling Leslie’s mother a gold-digger, but not exactly in those terms.  “Uncle Jim,” as Leslie calls him, is determined for the two young people to be friends.

Ross is being a bit intimate with his second cousin, Mavis, when he discovers Leslie kind of spying on them. Then this happens:

All Romances    Ace  archiver USA #2 (1949) - Page 12

“I also forgot that Ross was my STEP-BROTHER.”

Ross decides to leave and head for New York, because he knows where he’s not wanted; he’s going to go with Mavis and Friends to the West Indies, because that’s where winners and not-gold-diggers go! (And this time, he actually does say “gold-digger.”)

Leslie is sad that Ross is going away, because feelings, I guess. And then “Uncle” Jim makes up his will, but her mother and Leslie are not privy to his decisions.

Jim kicks the bucket soon enough, and Ross is all “I’m’a kick you outta this house because I’m the king now” or some shit, but in reality, Jim left everything but $10k to his wifey. Ross also has to stay at the house for the next two years if he wants the dough to which he is entitled. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but according to the inflation calculator (love that thing, especially when looking at old prices in magazines), it’s equivalent to ~$100k today. Cha-ching! Of course, Ross doesn’t believe that his step-family were ignorant of the changes to the will, so he is pouty and goes to his rooms.

He starts insulting Leslie about the gardening, and then Mavis shows up again. Mavis essentially invites herself to the house, and then is insolent and lazy, not to mention a bitch. Ross piles on about the girls duping his father out of his money, and maybe even murdering him. After the spat, Ross leaves and then Mavis goes out for a walk. Down by the water, where the suspension bridge is out!

Mavis is in trouble and Ross dives right in to save her, which nearly kills the both of them. Until Leslie and her canoe save the day.

So, is Mavis grateful when she comes to? Of course not! She tries to spin another story, this time about Leslie trying to kill her. Ross has finally had enough of it, but before he can say anything else, Leslie faints from all of the exertion.

All Romances    Ace  archiver USA #2 (1949) - Page 17

Which is the 1940s version of:

And now, for the squicky conclusion!

All Romances    Ace  archiver USA #2 (1949) - Page 18

What in the . . . WHAT??

Ladies, if the man you love is a close relation, SHUT IT DOWN.

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Garden of Shadows; or, A Different but still kind-of-the-same perception of evil [Dollanganger, Book 5]

When last we left the Dollanganger family, we would have been looking at Seeds of Yesterday, which was so scintillating I completely forgot to write about it! If you absolutely MUST know, there is a Wikipedia page to fulfill your desires! This book, however, is a “prequel,” if you will. It is written from the point of view of Olivia Foxworth, nee’ Winfield – aka, the evil grandmother. Honestly, it very nearly makes one pity her – even taking into account the inconsistencies between this volume and the others in the series. According to sources, the ghostwriter finished this one from Andrews’ notes, which may account for some errors.

We begin with a prologue, where Olivia states that she is forced to tell her own story, when she would have much rather kept it to her grave. She dares her readers to judge her after you discover what she’s been through. I know someone who might be up to that task . . .

What Olivia has been through is a doozy – or de rigeur for Andrews books, depending upon your perspective.

Olivia’s mother dies when she is young, leaving her father to bring her up. He treats her like a son, teaching her about his business accounts and training her as an accountant. She is far from truly feminine and in fact, is pretty gangly and awkward-seeming. She dreams about finding twoo luv some day, and imagines life as the pretty people in her fancy dollhouse. She is not having much luck finding a husband, despite her father’s best attempts.

Until the day Malcolm Foxworth comes to dinner, and seems quite taken with her. Especially her head for business and the fact that she is mature and not flighty. After a walk, a dinner out, going to church together, and some horseback riding, he proposes. Malcolm cites the fact that they have much in common and would make a great partnership.

Olivia is over the moon, as she has fallen for his dashing good looks. It is only later that she realizes – he never once mentioned the word “love.”

The wedding is put together very quickly. Olivia waits with bated breath for her first kiss at the altar, but it’s merely perfunctory. The wedding is attended by her father, her aunt, and her cousin, John Amos (the creepy butler from the other books). And indeed, he is creepy here, too; he has barely met Olivia, as he is from the “poor” side of the family, but he begins insinuating himself right away.

There is no honeymoon; indeed, the bride and groom board the train to Virginia that afternoon. Olivia begins to see already how megalomaniacal he can be – and stingy (he won’t let her order too much food on the train, to save money).

They pull into a deserted depot late at night. The butler/driver meets them and drives them to Foxworth Hall, which Malcolm tells her is her responsibility. She is given a quick tour of the rooms they pass; one of these has a white door. Malcolm says it was his mother’s room, and no one is allowed in.

Olivia is given her own bedroom. She hopes it is just for appearances and puts on her sexiest lingerie (with a V-neck! *gasp*) to await Malcolm’s return. But he never does, and she remains an “unlit candle.” By the way, the dollhouse never comes with her to Foxworth Hall, so it’s unclear how Corinne eventually gets hold of it in Flowers to give to the children.

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Kristy’s Big Day, Or, Who’s Really Getting Married Here? (Baby Sitters Club, #6)

We open with Karen, Kristy’s soon-to-be-stepsister, waxing poetic about old Ben Brewer, a family ghost that apparently lives in the attic. Kristy is concerned that Andrew, soon-to-be-little-stepbrother, is getting frightened by all this ghost talk. Yes, I mean, Ben Brewer eats fried dandelions, I’d say that’s pretty scary.

Kristy exposits that her mother is getting married to Watson, the kids’ father, and they will be moving to his mansion on the other side of town. This will be a good thing for everyone – everyone but Kristy, that is. I know, she’s a kid, she’s never lived anywhere else, all of her friends live close by, blah blah. With her flair for the dramatic, however, you’d think she was moving to Mars. Stoneybrook can’t be terribly big. Also, Watson can be a jerk.

I don’t remember seeing any evidence of that – he’s paid you for watching his kids even though you’re nearly family; he seems to treat you and your brothers well enough. Oh, I get it, you’re just pissed that he’s taking your mom away. To live in a friggin’ mansion.

Anyway, the step kids and Watson have come over for dinner of “pasketti,” as Andrew says, who is perturbed that worms are on the menu. Kristy sets him straight. Kristy wants to eat outside, her mom makes a joke, and Kristy acknowledges that her mom has been in a “great mood” since the engagement. So maybe you should stop drinking the Hatorade? Kristy goes around the table and gives a long detailed explanation about how the family comes together. She wonders if the two youngest will be fighting over toys and things.

Karen pipes up and basically repeats what Kristy has just thought. Charlie asks for wine, but they tell him no. Wah-wah.

Mrs. Thomas announces the wedding date to the table. Andrew needs to have a wedding explained to him. Kristy finds out that she’s going to be a bridesmaid. She’s excited to wear a dress and flowers, and I must ask where the girl is coming from. This is tomboy Kristy, right? Sweatshirts and jeans and sneakers? And now she loves dresses?

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Dawn and the Not-So-Impossible Three (Baby Sitters Club # Five)

This is the first Dawn book. As she pedals to her next job, Dawn informs us that she’s the newest member of the BSC, and that the club is the most important thing in her life. Not school, or family, but the club. Dawn is from California. California is awesome. Connecticut sucks, because it’s too cold. Dawn talks to the meteorologists every day. Sounds like she’s a bit crazy.

Speaking of crazy, Dawn’s job today is at the Pikes, the family with the metric ton of children. However, only half of the clan will be home. Mrs. Pike is heading to a trustee meeting – how does she have time to do anything with all of these kids? Dawn tells us that Mrs. Pike is super-organized, “a baby-sitter’s dream.” A bite-sized version of Foreshadowing skates across the hall tiles.

Dawn tells Mrs. Pike she has a BSC meeting at 5:30, which gives her leave to recap the club members and what they’re like. She leaves Mary Anne for last because she’s Dawn’s new best friend. And their parents, who were high school sweethearts, are dating again.

Mrs. Pike tells Dawn that one of the kids is playing at the Barretts, a family Dawn doesn’t know. Mrs. Pike tells her that Mrs. Barrett is “very relaxed,” and the kids go back and forth between the Barretts all the time.

Baby-sitting happens. Dawn is asked about her “new-old” house, which is from 1795, and it’s dark, and narrow, and you have to duck if you’re tall, but gee golly wow, so much history! Mallory, the older Pike, is all ears about Dawn’s mom and her dating escapades. Dawn doesn’t know the whole story about why they broke up, but she does known that her parents were unhappy together and got divorced. Mrs. Schafer is crazy – not “nasty crazy,” more ditzy, seems like. But, Dawn, what is nasty crazy? Is that a Cali thing, like “hella?”

Anyway, the musing is interrupted by the Barretts making their first appearance, Suzi with a skinned knee. Dawn takes care of it and the kids stay and hang out.

As Dawn is in her driveway, Mary Anne runs up and says she has “great news.” Ooh, what? Kristy came out? Claudia can spell?

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Tarnished Engagement, or Let’s have some more doormats (All Romance, Volume 1) with Bonus Advert!

Meet Nina and Dick. They’re in college and Dick’s in a band. Dick likes ugly suits.

AR pg 25

They end up working at the same hotel for the summer, Dick with his band and Nina as a waitress. Waitressing leaves Nina ragged and very little time for her man, as they work different hours.

After a time, Nina is resolved to see him at night, even if she has to stay up late. She catches him with one of the rich guests, and he’s upset to be caught. Unintentional pun coming up in three . . . two . . . one . . . (Hint: see yellow box).

AR pg 26

Marcia sneers at the fact that Nina is a waitress, blah blah, class wars. Dick claims he’s just being nice because Marcia offered to get his band more gigs, and then he can make more money! Honest!

Marcia begins to berate Nina the very next day, and Nina, surprisingly, tells her off. Wow!

AR pg 27

Marcia has asymmetrical boobage going on here.

Dick gets mad. See Dick fume. Spout, Dick, spout. Nina says they’re done. Say goodbye, Dick!

And then, here comes her man – Marcia’s, that is!

Nina, since she’s such a good doormat person, she goes to warn Dick that Mr. Loring is on his way. Personally, I would have let him had his balls handed to him, but that’s me.

Everyone lies, the Lorings leave, and Dick tells Nina he’s been a fool. And of course, she forgives him, because this is All Romance, not All Breakups.

AR pg 28

Yes, Dick, it doesn’t matter that you fell for a wealthy young socialite bitch because she offered you some money. I know it’s me you REALLY love!!

See below for a bonus advert:

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“My Soul Wasn’t My Own,” or, the Devil is in New York (All Romance, Volume 1)

Abby is raised in an orphanage until she is sixteen, when it is discovered that she has an aunt, who comes to claim her.

AR pg 17

Now, isn’t this something you would have figured out before you went to claim your niece? Also, she’s sixteen, so it’s not as if she would need constant supervision. She’s also been in an orphanage, so I’m sure she can fend for herself. I think I’m over-thinking a comic book for young girls.

She sends Abby out with the maid to go shopping and get her hair did, and wonder of wonders, she’s pretty! But . . . can she sing? Of course she can, with a little work. Aunt Magda decides to invest in her niece – lessons, a trainer, even finishing school!!

AR pg 18

This is also called “older people living vicariously through the young.” It’s sad that Abby finds this sort of sexism kind – as if the only endgame for a young woman (an aspiring chanteuse, no less) is to snare a rich man.

Abby makes her debut, and everyone finds her stunning, including Mr. Randolph, who is a fine catch!

AR pg 18 a

Sure, he’s a catch . . . if you’re into dudes who could be your grandfather! Also, need I remind you that this girl, Abby, is SIXTEEN. I know the median age for marriage was much lower in 1949 than it is today, but still – EW.

A serious sculptor is also interested in the young Abby, for his new work called “Spring in Flight.” The man chasing Abby will be played by model and wrestler Cal Martin, who is only interested in a serious acting career. He pays no attention to Abby when they first meet, except for letting her lean on him a little when she tires from modelling. Then, in her dreams . . .

AR pg 20

Oh, boy, Abby! *fans self*

Abby is still seeing RichGrandpa, and probably having to sit on his knee (not shown). She only has eyes for Cal, but he doesn’t seem interested – thinks she is a spoiled little rich girl, as she comes to the studio in a hired car. Abby protests.

AR pg 21

Wow, Cal is rather intuitive – for a pretty boy. Abby is so grateful to be out of the orphanage that she will explain away anything her aunt does, including auctioning off her V-card.

After this, Cal is more receptive towards Abby, and indeed, they have a day on the town when the sculptor takes a sick day. They are caught, however, by Aunt Magda, and she is PISSED that a common wrestler should have put his meaty paws on her human Fabergé egg!

AR pg 22

If RichGrandpa can’t take his little dolly seeing New York sights with a young man for one day where they didn’t even mack on each other (they went to the AutoMat, how scandalous, you guys!), RichGrandpa can stuff it. Well, he can stuff it anyway, for being interested in a relationship that is rather pedo.

File:Pedobear.png

Time passes, and Aunt Magda has another hare-brained scheme – let’s get Abby into the movies! She plans an “accidental” meeting with the movie producer at the unveiling of the sculpture. And he loves it! For the man, not Abby.

AR pg 23

NO one has seen Cal, though – oh, wait, here he is. The director makes his offer, and Cal asks to speak to Abby alone. He asks her if she’s married to RichGrandpa; she isn’t, and how dare he ask, after he walked out on her?

AR pg 24 (a)

The famous last words of the wife of “Jungle Billy.”

AR pg 24 (b)

Aunt Magda is an awful person. I mean, he’s standing right THERE; she has no filter, just like Chevy Chase!

AR pg 24 (c)

OH, but now, she’ll make his decisions for him, because he’s going to be a rich movie star. Until she finds out that he has to work with monkeys and swing from trees, because that’s not something successful people do.

So, Abby gets the man of her literal dreams. Hurrah. Now you guys should find a way to dispose of Aunt Magda and get the proceeds from her nightclub, and all will be well!

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