Sassy, No Spoilers: Beach Read


Romance novelist meets literary novelist? Love? Okay…

So, Romance really isn’t my jam. Call me a cynic, a curmudgeon. I don’t really enjoy “contemporary love stories” unless they were written by Nora Ephron (or are Bridget Jones, my guilty pleasure read), and anything else falls short (change my mind?).


I’m also one of those people that enjoys “seeing what all the fuss is about” with popular books (see: Twilight, Where the Crawdads Sing) so that I can complain about how overrated they are, but intelligently and with bodies of evidence backing up my loathing (see: Twilight, Where the Crawdads Sing). The only book I couldn’t get through (or past a sentence, actually), was the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, in which case I might point to a lengthy Target receipt and boldly state that it was better penned.

I’m nowhere near a beach. So I Googled images of nice beaches at work.

Anyway, everyone in the Book of the Month community was losing their minds over Beach Read, as a light-hearted, fun Romance for “the rest of us,” the skeptical snobs who turn up their noses at Danielle Steel and Nicholas Sparks. (Guilty.)

And reader. I was disappointed. I found myself eye-rolling and skimming through many of the mushy-gushy scenes because it was just so over the top as to be pure fantasy. I felt the author was coming from a good place, but I just found the protagonist weak and not as full of venom as the dust-jacket copy promised (and for someone who clearly understands the mechanics of a novel, as she wrote them into the book very clearly for the two “writers,” the promise of the premise was a huge letdown).

So what’s it about, anyway?

A woman (and popular Romance writer), reeling from the sudden death of her father, inherits his beach house that he shared with his secret lover. And who lives next door? None other than the protagonist’s enemy from college. Another writer. A literary one. Trouble ensues, they end up making a bet that the other can’t write a novel in the same genre. Sexual tension builds, of course, which comes with its own set of problems.

I got through it, and I can see the appeal. And I really don’t enjoy negative reviews, so instead I will note the good things about this novel.

  1. It reminded me of a lot of relationships in my 20s, and the stupid things I did that makes me cringe now. Personal! Growth!
  2. The man’s name is Gus, which is my dog’s name, though I do not think my Gus cares.
  3. It was a nice brain break away from all the thrillers I’ve been terrifying myself with.
  4. It broadened my horizons in a genre I don’t normally read.

And there you go. While it wasn’t necessarily my cup of coffee, I’ll recommend BR to:

  • Romance enthusiasts with a positive outlook on love, not a skeptical one for those of us ruined by reading too many Stephen King/Chuck Palahniuk/Flannery O’Connor stories.
  • People on a beach (though there’s a huge lack of actually being on the beach in this book?).
  • Book clubs looking for something that won’t make everyone blush TOO terribly.
  • Someone that needs a flippin’ break from too many scary books in a row.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

What I learned about: the best-dressed UFO cult ever, Unarius

Image by PhotoVision from Pixabay

Have you ever noticed how so many cults have come out of California? They pop up and wave around their strange theories like palm trees in the wind. Here, you can be as weird as you want. I’ve certainly enjoyed believing in David Lynch and the ghost that’s lived in my Furby since 1998. We just do us out here.

So while researching cults, I stumbled upon one that doesn’t have a really sad ending (yet, at least, though it really doesn’t seem likely).

Unarius (short for Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science) was founded in 1954 by Earnest and Ruth Norman, labeled as “cosmic visionaries” on the official website. Unarius is pretty wild, y’all. Their headquarters is located in El Cajon, California, just outside of San Diego. They received notoriety as the cult that made low-budget movies that aired on public access tv in the 80s. These “psychodramas” were basically members of the group acting out regrettable previous life experience–as aliens. If John Waters circa 1972 had directed these films, you’d never know the difference.

The whole belief system of Unarius was that—according to Ruth (aka Uriel)—in 2001, 33 spaceships filled with fellow “space brothers” would arrive on Earth and improve humanity. Long story short: that didn’t happen (I really, really wish it did though, we could use the help).

Their Archangel, Uriel/Ruth, had the goal of making everyone believe in the mission of the space bothers, because believing in them would facilitate their arrival. The space brothers were aliens that were supposedly former humans that are more spiritually and scientifically advanced than the rest of us.

The message of Unarius is actually pretty cool, I will give them that. They believed in spiritual healing through past life therapy by creating their low-budget films—and they were pretty good at marketing. They managed to air their films on public access TV across the country. Reportedly they had three feature films, 80 TV shows, and hundreds of self-published books.

My favorite thing about Unarius: the costumes. Uriel LOVED wearing elaborate dresses and wigs. She had rainbow capes, a massive dress with 33 planets that was apparently so heavy, she had to sit down while wearing it.

They also had a Cadillac with a UFO on top that says “Welcome Your Space Brothers,” and I want to see it in person. Really bad.

You can still become a member of Unarius. Since Uriel’s death, and the fact that the aliens didn’t come to hang with us in 2001, they mostly focus on spiritual healing through things I can’t really figure out by reading their website. Typical. They have home education kits on their website (they even have Blu-Ray!), along with some sweet postcards and UFO pins. Their message is actually kind of heartwarming. You’d think people would troll them, hard, on YouTube and the general internet; somehow they don’t.

You do you, Unarius. If only we could all be children of the stars.