There have been a lot of post-apocalyptic dystopians centered around the premise of running out of water and extreme drought. But I have difficulty believing that any of them are better than this.
Nadia (then called Raisa -- although she adopts several names and identities over the course of LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND) was abandoned by her parents when she was only four. All they left her with were these words: Look to the North Star, and we will always be there, and a purse of money and her identity sheet.
It has not rained in decades. Drought is widespread. People subsist on one quart of water or less. The world is covered with decaying cities as overpopulation runs rampant, leading to urban decay and corruption. There is no internet. Public executions are televised. The bureaucracy is used to predate on the ignorant, the criminal, and the law-abiding, alike. To me, this world was like a cross between the witch hunts of the Seventeenth Century and the Iron Curtain of Communist Eastern Europe.
Nadia was blind when she was young, possibly from the television, and only special nutrients and medicines fixed this. Even now, watching TV hurts her eyes, so she turned to books for solace, scavenging them from abandoned buildings. I loved this quote:
...she fell into novels as if into a well, and into poetry as if it were a river (20).
A lot of books use reading as a way to set apart the heroine from others, to create a sort of us vs. them -- I'm not slutty and dumb! I read books LOL!! Reading actually served a purpose here. Nadia used the information she got from books to survive, and it gave her an advantage over others that she used to deceive, bluff, and lie her way past the officials hunting her down. That was pretty awesome!
The other main character of this book is James Orotov, who has been paralyzed since he was eighteen. His brother Farrell has used his connections to help him regain motor activity in his legs, but James may die before this happens: either from cancer precipitated by this experimental wonderdrug or from catching the eye of the Agencies (i.e. the gov't) & getting slated for arrest & execution. When he meets Nadia in one of her disguises on an abandoned rooftop, he sees right through her ruse...but for whatever reason, he decides to help her. And then their fates intertwine.
I actually read the P.S. for this book, because I was hoping that there would be an interview with the author (I wanted to see what her inspiration for writing this book was). As you may or may not know, I live in California, and we are in one of the biggest droughts on records (beating, I think, the really bad one that took place during the 1930s). Water prices are ridiculously high right now & it sucks, but there's nothing we can do about it except pray for rain. So reading LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND was really terrifying, because I could see this happening, and let me tell you, I definitely appreciated the water I drank today, because so many of us take the simplest things like water for granted.
Another thing I thought was really cool was how people were demoted from their job positions before arrest. This was brought up in the guided reading questions & I think that the author did it to promote a sense of urgency for the reader -- as soon as the demotions start, you know that shit's gonna go down. I also think the Agencies demoted people because the low-ranked people don't catch attention & are far more replaceable, so it's a way to keep things quiet and maintain control. Also, when people are in a high-ranked position, they have more power, so if you want to remove someone with power, the easiest way to do that is strip them of it, so they lose all their defenders/supporters.
LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND was a lot like Margaret Atwood's ORYX AND CRAKE (one of the blurbs compared it to HANDMAID'S TALE, but it really is a lot more like ORYX AND CRAKE). It is literary science-fiction, so you will not encounter a dystopia that was created with the intent of introducing a FORBIDDEN LURVE!!!!!! There is a romance in this book, yes, but it does not happen until later & it is not particularly forbidden...unless you count the fact that both of them are on the run from the gov't, but that seems more like a marriage of convenience, imho.
The ending was a bit confusing and random & I found I was a little lost with what was going on. It seemed like a very sudden and neat way to wrap up the book and I was not expecting that, so I'm deducting a half-star for the ending. Also, if English is not your first language, you may want to think about whether you want to read a book that has no punctuation. Like BLINDNESS and THE ROAD, LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND is written stylistically, and there are no quotation marks encapsulating the dialogue. You really have to pay attention to see who is saying what. Just a thought. :)
I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
THE EYEBALL COLLECTOR is a pretty neat book. I actually bought it for $1 at a Dollar Store because I thought the cover was cool. Usually, I'm wary about books like these because juvenile fantasy can be just that...juvenile. Never have I been more wrong!
I was telling my friend that this would make an awesome Tim Burton movie because Urbs Umida has the dark, gloomy atmosphere of Corpse Bride & The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Hector Fitzbaudly is the son of an esteemed wine merchant and butterfly hobbyist. He has lived in modest luxury his whole life, although he has been fascinated by the seedy side across the river, even getting mugged one day while slumming it up. Hector gets more acquainted with the wrong side of the river than he might lie, though, when an opportunistic conman named Trupin blackmails his father and then sells his story to the Diurnal Journal, anyway, for a tidy sum of money. What an asshole!
Hector swears revenge, and we follow him from a boys' home, to the castle of Lord and Lady Mandible. Because Truepin has remade himself as a foreign baron & is hanging around with the Mandibles who are, for lack of a better word, creepy.
The writing in this book is great. The fantasy element...maybe not so fantastic, although it is interesting. Urbs Umida seems to be an alternate England where fantastic beasts rove the woods, & everyone is just a bit more morbid than the actual Victorians were (which says a lot because -- hair jewelry and taxidermy were pretty much all the rage back in Queen Victoria's time).
One thing I really liked was how dark and atmospheric THE EYEBALL COLLECTOR was. The evil people in this book really are evil. There are paintings done in blood, a cloak of living butterflies, the bad guys kill animals for fun (this is how you know that they are really evil), and some centaur-like creature gets turned into a chair and it is morbid as fuck.
I gave this book to one of my friends who is really into Goth culture. I think she'll enjoy this book -- at least, I hope she will. If you like Victorian-era/Steampunk/mannerpunk fiction, or are into Goth culture as well, you should read this book. I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye out for more books in the Tales of the Sinister City series.
Oh, and don't be alarmed that this book is #3 in the series. It was meant to work as a standalone. The author has this adorable author's note where she says that she meant her books as "paraquels" or books that can be read in parallel with one another & have recurring characters, but that aren't dependent on the previous books. That's a really neat idea. :)
I took a lot of issues with ACROSS THE GREAT BARRIER. Actually, they were the same issues I had with THIRTEENTH CHILD, but since that was the first book in the series I was a little more lenient because kicking off a new book series can be hard. For example, in my own fantasy series, a lot of people have said that the first book is the weakest and the series gets a lot stronger as the books go on. I was hoping that would be the case here, but nope; ACROSS THE GREAT BARRIER is pretty much exactly the same as the first book in terms of plot, formula, and pacing -- in fact, it actually moves slower. It took 300 pages for anything significant or interesting to happen, and this book is 340 pages.
You guys are lucky I didn't have access to a computer while I was reading this because my status updates would have gone something like these: OMG THIS IS SO BORING. Or, OMG I WANT TO KILL EFF. Or, MOTHERFUCKER. WHAT THE FUCK. I HATE EVERYTHING. SHITFUCK.
Eff activated her Mary Sue powers in the last book to solve a problem, and now everyone is praising her for it. Her twin brother, Lan, who is a double-seventh son, is super jealous because he's always gotten the praise and not her. However, he does suggest kindly that she should consider applying to college because pretty much any one of the universities would take her while her glowing accomplishment is still fresh in everyone's mind.
Eff's response: "Waaaaah, I'm not special enuff. I want to stay hoooooome! I'm not worthy!!!!"
My response: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW.
Most of this book consists of Eff whining about people thinking she's too awesome/not awesome enough, or that she's not good at Arvupan magic. She refuses to go to university because she doesn't think she's worthy, and yet when she meets a boy who's been studying Aphrikan magic all his life, she's mad at him because he's younger than she is and better than her.
It didn't sit right that a boy two years younger than me was so much better at world-sensing, even if he'd probably been learning Aphrikan magic his whole life long (192).
Fuck you, Eff.
When a guy shows interest in Eff romantically, she turns him down because she doesn't think he's her one and only. And while I don't believe in settling for less, I also think that it's equally stupid to turn down a good match because you don't think it's a good match because there is no whirlwind of passion. It seemed like the author was attempting to portray Eff as a strong female character for turning down a relationship, but I don't think Eff is a strong female character. She's inconsistently characterized, has zero self-esteem (when she's not being arrogant as fuck), and she lets all kinds of opportunities pass her by. She doesn't take an active role in her fate, she's a passive observer.
Another scene that pissed me off was when Eff brought back a mysterious stone creature. When she and one of the professors she was interning with from her father's college go on an expedition to the woods, they find this trove of petrified creatures that look incredibly life-like. Eff takes home a statue as a souvenir, bragging about how flawless it is, and how if the professor hadn't already taken this other specimen she'd found, he would have taken that one instead. She visits her brother's university and shows him the bird, but then yanks it back when he wants to study it. Because fuck science! It's a souvenir, dammit! (And it's not like she couldn't just as easily have gotten another one.)
Also, the plot arc is exactly the same as the previous book. Eff has insecurity issues for 80% of the book. Eff goes on an expedition to the woods. Eff discovers something is not right in the woods. Eff uses her special snowflake powers to save the day. Everyone praises Eff.
ACROSS THE GREAT BARRIER was an interesting idea, but terribly slow and anticlimactic. I had no emotional connection to any of the characters (Miss Ochiba isn't in this one D:), & it has lots of build-up with little pay-off. I ended up skimming huge parts of the book because it didn't bring anything new to the table. It was like a total rehashing of THIRTEENTH CHILD.
Netgalley approved me for books #1-3 in the series, which is super exciting because now I get to read them all at once & not suffer through cliff-hangers like the people who actually had to wait. Oh, and by the way, the cliffhanger at the end of this book? It is a mean mother of a cliffhanger, & I suggest having book #3 on hand before starting or you might just become a murderer too.
Jasper Dent is the son of Billy Dent, a serial killer with about five or six monikers who is probably just as evil and devious as Ted Bundy. In the last book, Jazz accidentally helped his father escape from a maximum security prison and now Billy is free in New York, with millions and millions of victims to "prospect."
So it's totally not like I'm biased or anything. *cough*
Jazz is pretty emotionally exhausted at this point, the poor kid. I mean, he helped his dad escape to murder more people, & he feels partially responsible for the murders the Impressionist (another serial killer) caused in book #1, even though he helped capture him. And word gets around because pretty soon the NYPD come a-callin' and are all, "Hey, we have ANOTHER serial killer on our hands. This one's called the Hat-Dog killer & he cuts off peens, gouges out eyes, & puts guts into KFC buckets. PLEASE HELP US CATCH HIM, K?" So Jazz goes to New York and more wtfuckery transpires.
There is character development in this book, and I loved the depth of Jazz's angst. I suspect he is a sociopath as well, but a nonviolent one, in spite of what his dear old da would like to believe. Connie wants to take their relationship to the next level but Jazz is terrified of sex because for his father sex and killing went hand in glove, and Jazz is so brainwashed he thinks it might unlock his inner-killer.
We also meet Jazz's Aunt Samantha, Billy's older sister. Jazz's friend Howie decides that she is his love interest, and I have to say, I was pretty squicked out by all the descriptions of Howie talking about how much he wanted to bone this older woman because Howie is 17 & Samantha is, what, 40-something? I have no problems with May-December romances where the woman is older, but Howie is seventeen and that is just too young, which made it very creepy for me. Especially since the author seemed to find it hilarious. I am sorry, but that is not funny. I hope they don't end up together.
One thing I really didn't like about GAME was all the POV swaps. They really bogged down the story. There were some scenes with Howie and Aunt Samantha that could have been cut. I also feel that some of the Connie-fighting-with-her-family scenes could have been cut as well. The first 200 pages of GAME moved really slowly, and it wasn't until the last 100 that things really began to pick up. The last 100 pages I finished in about an hour because I literally could not put the book down (or, I guess, close the window, since I was reading this on my comp. But w/e).
That twist. It was pretty great. I was not expecting that. I was not.
Although I would have liked for some of my questions to be answered. My friend Myrika was laughing at me on Gchat because she sped through books 1-3 after I told her how much I liked book #1 and I was pestering her with theories, until finally she was all, WANT ME TO TELL YOU HOW IT ENDS?" And I was like, "NOOOOOOOOOO." But apparently it's really grim stuff & I'm going to be traumatized for life after finishing book #3. And this is coming from a woman who writes stories so dark that they make mine look like sunny walks in the park, so that fucking tells you something.
Seriously, though, HOLY MOTHER OF CLIFFHANGERS, BATMAN.
That's just cruel. I bet when this was first published, Mr. Lyga got a lot of angry fanmail.
My book club wanted to read all three books of the Frontier Magic series for our next meeting, & that is why I am here today. I've read so many books already (I've sat out a couple meetings because there's an attendance cap, & I already read the book, so let someone else have a shot) that I was excited to see that they'd chosen an entire series I somehow hadn't read yet. OH BOY!!!
Most people know Wrede by her Enchanted Forest series, which I actually have not read. I know her from her Cecilia & Kate series (charming) and her Mairelon series (twee and annoying).
THIRTEENTH CHILD falls somewhere in the middle of being charming & twee and annoying. If you crossed Harry Potter with Oregon Trail, you would get something that closely approximates THIRTEENTH. In fact, many of the characters in this book wouldn't be out of place in an HP book & Miss Ochiba is pretty much a black Professor McGonagall.
The premise is that the main character, Eff, is the twin sister of a double-seventh son. Seventh sons are known for their good luck and innate magic abilities so everyone is really excited about Lan, her twin. Thirteenth children, on the other hand, are very unlucky, and a lot of people believe that they cause misfortune and jinxes. A lot of her extended family wouldn't mind if she died, and treat her very cruelly because...that's what you want to do, piss off someone who brings misfortune. W/e.
Eff's father is commissioned to become a professor in a university so the family ends up moving (the younger children anyway; the older children got married/jobs & stayed in Helvan Shores) to the city. Eff starts taking magic lessons from black Professor McGonagall, and I thought the magic systems -- Arvpan, Cathay, Hijero, Aphrikan -- were pretty interesting. It's too bad that magic doesn't serve much purpose in this book beyond being a shiny ribbon the author dangles at the reader, as if to say, "Come on! Follow the magic! All the way to the end of the book now, come on! Wheeeee!!!!"
The book moves very slowly. I think the first 200 pages were a chore to read because her family were all assholes, & Eff is a child for so much of it. By the end of the book she's sixteen, and finally, about fifty pages from the end of the book, we finally have some action. Even though it's kind of pathetic. I mean, as far as villain bosses go, that's like, a stage one platformer boss. Only a n00b would miss.
Similarities to HP aside, I did think the frontier setting was interesting but problematic. Other people said it reminded them of LITTLE HOUSE (which I've never actually read -- *ducks*), but it really reminded me of Oregon Trail. An Oregon Trail with dragons and woolly mammoths, and dire wolves... Wut. (Don't get too excited. These beasts don't make much of an appearance and when they do, it's from a distance and highly anticlimactic.) I saw someone else complaining that there weren't any Native Americans and I do think that's an interesting point. Where are the Natives? And why are there woolly mammoths? What is the rest of the world like? DOES THE REST OF THE WORLD STILL EXIST? I mean, what is it like in Europe and Africa?
THIRTEENTH CHILD raises more questions than it answers, & doesn't really serve as a standalone book. If my book club hadn't demanded that we read all three books by the next meeting, I'd probably drop the series like a hot potato. But as it is, it looks like I'm stuck. So. Until next book, yes?
This is another one of those books that literally everyone else seems to like except me. The moment I saw the average rating, 4.21, I knew foul play was afoot, because 4-point-something ratings usually mean that the book in question is a total smutfest with a brutish alpha male whose sole attractiveness lies in the bulginess of his muscles and the epic proportions of his mighty peen.
BUT some of my friends really liked this book, and I loved that the title and cover were total throwbacks to the bodice rippers of the 1980s. And I actually like PNR (sometimes). I thought, "Hey! Maybe everyone's right! Maybe this book will be good!"
I WAS WRONG.
First, I would like to start by saying that rape in fiction does not necessarily bother me. What bothers me is when it is romanticized or when the heroine reacts to it inappropriately. You can write the most graphic rape scene in the world & as long as it is suitably horrifying, I'll be like, "Okay, good job" as long as the rest of the book is good. Note: this does not happen in this back.
My thoughts while reading this book were basically:
Please stop. Please. I can't take anymore. D:
And the book was just like:
TROLOLOLOLO HAVE SOME MORE RAEP
In A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER, rape is equated with courtship. Lachlain pounces on the female character in public, rips her clothes off, and starts ogling her in public. In the rain. He then basically holds her hostage in her apartment, demands that she showers with him, comes close to raping her in the shower (but he is satisfied by her jerking him off instead), threatens to rape her about 100 more times after that, almost burns her alive, destroys the whole apartment while she's sleeping to threaten her some more, forces oral sex on her while she's sleeping, and then rapes her while she's running away from him & oh, when he does it, he's in beast form, so he's even bigger than normal, and Emma is like NOOOOOO I'M SCURRED but then she decides she likes it so yay! it's not rape after all.
All this basically comprises the first three quarters of the book.
The first quarter of A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER is easily the worst, because that's when Lachlain is saying that he can't decide whether he's going to kill her or not, so he wants to rape her first to test the merchandise and see if she's worthy of being his mate. He also steals her credit card to go on a shopping spree, forces her to wear sexy undies which he then says make him lose all control and make him want to rape her more (victim blaming: I love it), & oh yes, tells her that she can't wear her normal clothes anymore because he doesn't want men ogling her. Also there's this weird thing in the beginning where he's like, "You can only wear red because you're a vampire and I don't like that." This pretty much goes nowhere, and does nothing except to show what a crazy control freak he is.
Oh, & let's not even go into the Outlander brogue. All the dinnas & cannaes & lasses you don't want!
Emma isn't much better. As far as heroine's go, she's pretty spineless. She cries when she kills moths. She's a spoiled rich girl who has expensive clothes and lives in a nice apartment and has long, butt-length blonde hair. She's majoring in pop-culture. She's a seventy-year-old virgin. Oh, & she doesn't know she's beautiful. BECAUSE TINY, PETITE BLONDE WOMEN WITH LONG GORGEOUS HAIR AND HUGE BOOBS ARE SO UGLY U GAIZ OMG. YOU NEVER SEE THEM IN MOVIES. OR MAGAZINES. OR ON TV. OH WAIT--YES YOU FUCKING DO.
Oh and guess what. Guess what? Her orgasms summon lightning. DAFUQ.
Maybe she's a Thundercat.
And oh boy, is her body traitorous. She lets Lachlain treat her like crap because he's hot. She enables his ill-treatment of her, lying to her caretakers about where she is & who she's with, even when Lachlain announces that they'll be going to Scotland because SOUL MATES BITCHEZ!
Obviously, Lachlain's wolf pack is less than pleased, and there's this one Lykae who has been pining after Lachlain all this time who's named Cassandra. The two of them get into a catfight while the males lul and make jokes like, "Where's the Jell-O?" Emma talks about how much she wants to tear this bitch's eyes out, calls her a skank, and Cassandra responds in equal terms, being all like, "LOL YOU CAN'T HAVE BABIES! LOL YOU'RE INFERTILE. LOL NOBODY HERE LIKES U!
I found the world-building very scattered. Since the bulk of the book is about Emma and Lachlain's abusive relationship, not much attention is paid to the actual development of the world of Lore. From what I gather there are --
AND THEY ALL HATE EACH OTHER. Except when they rape fuck each other.
Apparently the series does get better and more feminist-friendly as it goes on. While that may be, A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER was a terrible read & I would not recommend it to anyone looking for a romance novel with genuine emotional connection between the h & the H.
Prudence wears glasses(!) and writes sensationalist Gothic mystery novels(!!). I wanted to like THE DEVIL EARL for those reasons alone, and when we were introduced to her sexy and dangerous neighbor, the Earl of Ravenscar, master of Wolfinger, I wanted to love this book. Seriously, it had the formula for everything I love in fiction -- smart heroines, dangerous alpha heroes, mysteries, Gothic atmosphere, danger, sex...come on, book, let me love you!
Book: LOL, nope.
Prudence Lancaster is, by her own admission, on the shelf. She writes books and embraces the single life while her younger and prettier sister, Phoebe, courts men and trouble with equal gusto. One of these men is James Penhurst, the younger brother of the current Earl of Ravenscar. Prudence is almost as excited as her sister about this because she has an unhealthy obsession with the Wolfinger manor, and her neighbors' twisted and sordid history.
When Prudence actually meets the so-called Devil Earl, she is shocked by how good-looking he is, and how much his manner affects her. Sebastian Penhurst feels the same way. A debaucher in his youth, he still feels the heavy weight of his family's evil deeds. But he can't quite suppress his feelings for Prudence; she intrigues him, infuriates him, and excites him, all in equal measure.
Then James Penhurst goes missing and everyone assumes that Sebastian Penhurst offed his younger sib with a kind of, "Oh, the Devil Earl strikes again!" sort of ennui. But Prudence is convinced of his innocence and decides to help solve the mystery of the Missing Brother -- while fucking Sebastian's brains out, of course.
THE DEVIL EARL started off really well, but about halfway through it completely fizzled out. The ending was a speeding train of wtfuckery with increasingly ridiculous plot twists. I'm not going to say too much about what these twists are (there were a lot), but half of them involved pirates. You know you're in dire straits when you have to fall back on pirates to create some drama.
I was surprised that there were actual sex scenes in this book and not the more typical fade-to-black type things that tend to grace these historicals. The foreplay scenes in the beginning were pretty sexy but the actual sex itself...not so much. And on that note, I'm almost positive E.L. James read this book. She had to've. Prudence said "Oh my!" more times than I cared to count, especially when Sebastian aroused her (which, unfortunately, was a lot, this being a romance novel & all).
She wriggled, but he held her fast and kissed her. There. "Oh, my!" Prudence whispered, as awareness shot through her, obliterating all else. Sebastian. Hot. Wet. There. With his mouth! (191).
Compare that to this one from Fifty Shades Darker:
Oh my. He kisses me… there.
With his mouth! There! OMG SO EXCITING!!!!!
What was that editor doing? Sleeping on the job? About half those "oh mys" should have been struck.
Maybe her editor was George Takei. Although if here editor was George Takei, we probably would have at least gotten the consolation prize of some hot man on man action. OH MYYYYYY!!!!
It's all straight up in here. And Sebastian actually cries when they have sex, because it's so beautiful! How did she know what he'd been wanting for Christmas all this time? A virginity, of his very own!
Sebastian managed to slide in and out, over and over, until her maidenhead gave way gently before him. She opened her eyes wide then, surprised at the breach, but she shed no tears. He was the one who felt pressure behind his lids, because of her precious gift to him (197).
It's a very white Christmas after all.
I was also upset by the fact that Prudence wasn't recognized as pretty until Sebastian decided to take her glasses away. It would have been a lot better if he thought Prudence was pretty with her glasses. Instead, there was a lot of emphasis on, "Well, she's got glasses, but she's also super skinny, and has great T&A, and super tiny feets, so I suppose this one flaw can be overlooked."
Yeah, thanks for doing me that solid.
Now that I've finished the book, I kind of wish the story had been about Sebastian's wicked ancestors -- pirating, gambling, duels, beating people, raping local peasant girls, imprisoning his wife in a tower and then stabbing one another to death. That sounds like an awesome story. Like something that could have been one of the greats when it comes to bodice rippers. Instead, I got a wallpaper historical with a dash of Gothic flavoring (but oh my! not too much!).
The Shadow Thane series is a new adult urban fantasy series. It is about a young shape-shifter who finds herself as the object of a sexually depraved...moreThe Shadow Thane series is a new adult urban fantasy series. It is about a young shape-shifter who finds herself as the object of a sexually depraved witch's obsession. The two are forced together by circumstance--and the threat of an ancient prophesied evil. Books 1-3 are now available as an omnibus.
WOLF'S EMBRACE was a big disappointment. I'm a huge fan of love-hate relationships and romances born of outlandish revenge plots & schemes, but if you're going to go that route, you have to stick to your guns -- and, oh, yes, if you have actual guns or other weapons, so much the better -- and not wuss out.
The premise of WOLF'S EMBRACE is this: Rolf O'Daileigh, Earl of Killroone, is butthurt that the evol Norman, Hugh Fitzgerald, has abducted his niece-slash-ward, Lady Duvessa. He decides the best way to resolve this is to kidnap Hugh's oldest daughter, Sybelle, rape her, & then hold her hostage in his castle until the situation resolves itself, because he is a man and men don't talk things out. (Especially not in romance novels; this is how you get Big Misunderstandings).
And boy, is there a big misunderstanding in this book because it turns out that Hugh didn't kidnap and rape Duvessa at all. They eloped, because Duvessa's mean ol' uncle was going to make her marry a boy her own age, and thank Goodness this handsome middle-aged man swooped out of nowhere to save her from marrying one of her peers! (Wait...)
WOLF'S EMBRACE reads like the author decided to take the concept of Christine Monson's spicy debut novel, STORMFIRE, and turn it into pudding. Which you cannot do. I mean, if you are going to have the hero rape the heroine, that's your business -- but then you can't go the other way and turn it into fluff. Rape is not fluffy. It is traumatic on physical, psychological, and emotional levels, and as soon as you start talking about traitorous bodies, I'm Audi.
But WOLF'S EMBRACE has STORMFIRE beat in one way -- the torture. Even Torquemada would approve of the atrocious prose of this novel. Read it to infidels and watch them recant in minutes!
The tantalizing allurement of her lust was upon her now, weaving its wiles around her (53).
I don't think that's purple enough. Can we up the ante?
His mouth levied a tax on her flesh... (53)
Okay, that's getting better.
Finally, he couldn't avoid the portal that he sought. His fingers stroked the curls guarding her inner treasure (53).
Perfect! That's just like something Bertrice Small would write!
Oh, and then we have this romantic thought just before the rape:
It was as if every other wench he'd lain with was merely a preparation, a rehearsal, for this particular woman (53).
I actually made it a lot farther than page 53, but this page was so full of terrible writing that I almost DNFed right then and there. I made it another 150 pages before giving up in frustration. Hugh Fitzgerald is such an asshat. This whole situation is all his fault, but even though his daughter is (presumably) getting raped, he won't let Duvessa intercede for him because -- gasp! -- Rolf might confine her to her room and then there will be no more sexins! When one of Hugh's other daughters (who I actually liked -- they were adorable and quite intelligent) points out that he seems to care more about fucking than saving his daughter from certain rape-torture (rapture?! I see what you did there, romance novels!), he raises a hand to hit her, and stops only when his ladylove says "don't."
I tried to finish this book, but it was terrible and I have a whole stack of less terrible romances to work through, so there really isn't any point in sticking with something like this. I highly doubt another 150 pages of this mess will change my mind -- or my rating.
First, I would just like to say that I am incredibly disturbed that this book was published by an imprint of Scholastic, which markets to preteens and children. BREAKING BUTTERFLIES contains some ideas that are, frankly, harmful and dangerous.
***MAJOR SPOILERS TO COME***
The book opens with a story about the two protags' parents. There were two girls named Sarah and Leigh. Sarah is a shy loser who is completely blindsided by the amazing and beautiful Leigh. They become best friends, and decide that when they grow up, Leigh will have a boy named Cadence and Sarah will have a girl named Sphinx, and their children will be married, and then the two of them will be grandmothers together. Pinkie swear?
They end up doing just that, and Sphinx (Sphinxie) and Cadence become friends. Except there's something not quite right about Cadence. When he's just five years old, he smashes a butterfly in his hands, making Sphynxie cry. Sphynxie's father doesn't trust Cadence after that, but the two mommies are like, "No, he's just a little boy, he doesn't know what he did was wrong." But then, a few years later, Sphinxie and Cadence are left unsupervised, and Cadence informs Sphinxie that she is "his" and slashes her in the face with a knife, almost gouging out her eye. Sphinxie's father goes, "I told you so." Sphinxie gets stitches, and Leigh's mother whisks Cadence off to England, because apparently England is a cure for sociopathy.
Now Sphinxie is a teenager and one day she finds her mother in the kitchen talking on the phone. It turns out that Cadence has terminal leukemia. Terminal, because his mother, Leigh, has decided that she doesn't want him to have to go through chemotherapy because there's a chance that it might not work, and she doesn't want him to barf. Because mothers totally think, "Oh, gee! There's a pretty big chance this cure won't help my baby, whom I love very much. Might as well just let him die au naturel, then!" that is totally what any loving mother would do in this situation.
Sphinxie decides that she has to see him though, because he was her best friend when they were kids! She owes it to him! Never mind that he cut her in the face with a knife and almost gouged out one of her eyes, they're still best friends. Obviously, Sphinxie's father is not cool with this but Sphinxie insists, so her mother decides that one week probably won't hurt.
So they go to England.
Cadence is sickly looking but Sphinxie is totally attracted to him. Because he's so hot! He practically sparkles, just like Edward Cullen (you may think I'm exaggerating; I am not. I lost count of how many times Sphinxie says Cadence "shines"). He paints. He plays piano sadly. He's good at chess.
He's also a sociopath.
Cadence still believes Sphinxie is his. He tells her that according to their mothers' little legend, they are destined to be married and have children. He gets mad at her for putting concealer on the scar on her face, because he wants everyone to see his mark on her. He gets angry for no reason, and when Sphinxie goes into his super-sekrit painting study without asking his permission, he explodes when he finds out, threatens her, and then pushes her to the floor, causing her to scream.
The two moms rush in and Cadence is SO SORRY OMG I DIDN'T MEAN IT, and Sphinxie feels bad because she shouldn't have trespassed in his sekrit space and also, he is dying, so mulligan.
When the week draws to a close, Sphinxie's mom is relieved to be going home, but guess what? Sphinxie doesn't want to go home. She wants to stay with Cadence until he dies, because he's so lonely and cares about her so much and he needs her and she has to do this for him because that is the not-selfish thing to do. Because when someone is abusing you, it's because they need you, or possibly because they're dying of cancer. Because apparently cancer is a free pass to be evil as you please.
More fuckery happens.
Cadence, Sphinxie, and Leigh go to a pet store. Cadence looks at a little budgie and decides he wants it. Later, he tries to kill it in front of his mom and Sphinxie. When Sphinxie makes him let it go, Cadence attacks her, and they fall into a glass table and get impaled with shards of glass. "Don't call an ambulance!" Sphinxie says, even though she's got a shard of glass sticking through her palm. "I'm fine!" So in a bid for worst mother of the year, Leigh says OK, and she drives Cadence to the hospital, and he gets some medicine and everything is okay.
Except Sphinxie tells her parents what happened.
"WHAT THE FUCK?" say her parents. "COME HOME IMMEDIATELY!"
"I can't," says Sphinxie. "I need to stay here for him. Can't you see how badly he needs me?"
By this point, I'm thinking, no way can this possibly get any worse. I mean, we're already glorifying an abusive relationship -- and this is a physically and emotionally abusive relationship that makes books like TWILIGHT and, I hate to say it, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, look like Disney.
But Cadence has another WTF ace up his sleeve. "Guess what?" he says, "I'm going to die soon, and I want you to die with me, because I'm not going to live long enough for us to be married and have babies, so I bought you a knife, and when I tell you to I want you to kill yourself with us and together we shall be dead and still and it will be art. Because suicide pacts are romantic."
Sphinxie is horrified, but she also likes the idea of being a marble statue. Especially when Cadence tells her that they can be holding hands when they die. She starts thinking about this seriously. She cares about Cadence so much, can she really live without him? And he wants this so much, why should he die alone? She doesn't tell anyone this because she knows that if she does, even Worst Mother of the Year will probably send her packing because that's pretty fucked up.
Although...Cadence later tells Sphinxie that his mother knew he was a sociopath all along, because the psychologists diagnosed him as one. But Leigh didn't tell Sphinxie's mom because she knew that Sarah wouldn't bring Sphinxie to England if she knew that her BFF's son was a murderous sociopath. Denial. Not just a river somewhere in Egypt.
Sphinxie's father, the only rational human being in this book, has had enough, though, and she and her mother end up booking a flight. Which makes Sphinxie angry. How dare they take away her right to kill herself! Maybe she ought to kill herself anyway, because it's not like Cadence is taking away any of her rights! After all, he has cancer and he needs her here so much and she loves him.
At the end of the book Cadence gets really sick, and Sphinxie tells her parents she's not coming home until Cadence is dead, and good sense goes out the window because Cadence has cancer, so they say, "Okay, sweetie, you can stay with the dying sociopath. We'll come up for the funeral and then take you home." Then Cadence and decides it's suicide pact time. He kills that poor little bird and tells Sphinxie it's her turn next. But Sphinxie decides she doesn't want to die, although she does tell Cadence that she loves him. And then Cadence dies and she cries.
But it's okay, because she has eggs in her uterus! She will have a baby one day! And then she will tell her baby the story about her tragic love affair with the beautiful shiny special sociopath.
I am not kidding.
Let's go over what we've learned here today, shall we?
1. Cancer is a magical thing that allows you to be as cruel and terrible as you want.
2. If a guy cuts your face with a knife, it means he loves you so much he wants to mark you as his.
3. If a guy asks you to do a suicide pact with him, it is romantic and artistic and not creepy as fuck.
4. As a woman, your primary objective in life is making babies. And planning weddings.
5. If a person you love turns on you, it is selfish to run away as fast as you can.
6. Lying about whether someone is hurting you/planning to hurt you is perfectly healthy.
7. If a man plays piano, is good at chess, and paints pretty pictures, he can't be a sociopath.
8. This was a love story, and not society's cry for help.
I am...I don't even have words. How did this book get published? And why is it being marketed to impressionable teen girls?
The closest he will ever come to happiness is when he's hurting her. Will she let him? A beautiful and twisted story of first love and innocence lost--written when the author was just eighteen.
Doesn't the man on the cover look like Gilbert Gottfried?!
(I would pay money to hear Gilbert Gottfried narrate the audiobook. Oh the lolz I could have.)
Menage isn't one of my kinks, although I do think it can really add spice to a sex scene if done well. I have read a handful of good menage, and a lot of really bad menage, so even though I am a relative newcomer to the erotica genre, I'm starting to get a feel for what I like and what I don't like.
Gretchen is a nanny for the Baumgartners: rich, WASPy people with a Florida beach house. They don't let the fact that they have two young children get in the way of their polyamory, and Gretchen often lies awake at night, listening to them have sex and talk about their old conquests, and wishing she could join in.
I do not envy the therapy bills those children will be getting when they relive all this as adults. Because I'm sure if Gretchen hears them going at it, the children do, too....
Gretchen is blonde, and yes, the carpets match the drapes -- Kitt makes a point of drilling this in several times, as it is absolutely crucial to know how beautiful her natural pubes are. So beautiful, in fact, that the Baumgartners later tell her that she must stop shaving and let her blonde wonder pubes grow back, so that they can be admired by all.
Gretchen likes to have sex with men and women, although she asserts that she "likes men too much" to become a lesbian. Despite this, she has a girlfriend named Ronnie. One day, she comes home and finds her girlfriend having sex with another man in their bed. Rather than confronting them, she stays and she watches, and wishes that she could join in. Then she leaves.
When Gretchen returns to the Baumgartners', she breaks apart, though, and tells the couple how sad she is. They take her out to a party, where she wears a low cut dress, and both Mr. and Mrs. Baum ogle her cleavage very lustfully. Gretchen ends up going home with some random dude, who she has sex with without using a condom. She accidentally calls out Mr. Baumgartners' name while they have sex. And guess who is watching Gretchen and Mystery Man do it? That's right! Mr. Baumgartner!
Gretchen ends up talking to Ronnie and they have an emotional discussion about Ronnie's cheating. HAHA! Just kidding. Actually, Ronnie says that the guy she cheated on Gretchen with (Vincent) asked her to marry him. Then she has sex with Gretchen. Because nothing says "I love you" like having unprotected sex with your ex when you're about to be engaged.
After they have sex, Ronnie talks about how much fun it was to boink the Baumgartners. Then she makes Gretchen drop her off at her cockholded fiance's house, with the implication that she never wants to see Gretchen again after this. Okay?
Gretchen spies on the Baumgartners having sex a few more times. Then Mr. Baumgartner takes sexy pictures of Gretchen while she strips for him. Then he and she both masturbate, although he tells her that his wife said that she isn't allowed to touch her, and Gretchen begs him to do it anyway.
The couple weigh the pros and cons of boinking Gretchen and then Mrs. Baumgartner and Gretchen consummate the relationship on the beach. Then they have sex. And then they have more sex. And then they have more sex. And it is all terrible, and there are no condoms in sight, and won't somebody please think of the children?
Even though Mr. and Mrs. Baumgartner are busy enough that they require a nanny to take care of the children they already do have, they have applied for a foster child, which they plan to adopt. This is why they were initially hesitant to boink Gretchen -- they know that they will be monitored very closely by CPS to make sure that they are taking care of the child well. But since this is a work of erotic fiction, good parenting can be damned so long as there's sex involved!
I have no words to describe this book. It is terrible, but I've come to expect that from erotica as a whole. It is a sad fact of life when good fiction becomes the exception, and not the rule, in a genre.
A lot of people have compared Anne Stuart's Ice series to my IMA series (specifically CLOAK AND DAGGER), and have said that the antihero of BLACK ICE (Bastien Toussaint) was a lot like my own Michael Boutilier.
Well, that intrigued me.
I've read Anne Stuart's work before, mostly her historicals, and a couple of her gothics, so I was curious to see what she would do with the theme of espionage and murderous assassins.
First, I should point out that this book does have rape and torture. The H doesn't torture the heroine -- not physically, anyway -- but he does rape her. Sort of. It's dubious-consent of the "no-no-yes!" variety. Make of that what you will. But if you have triggers you might want to steer clear of this book as a matter of principle.
For a mainstream romance novel, this is pretty gritty. Most of the graphic stuff is alluded to, which is probably why the publishers gave it the okay, but I was still pretty surprised to see something like this from MIRA, which is usually pretty light and fluffy.
Chloe Underwood is a polyglot with a passion for languages. Her interests have brought her to France, where she makes a small but livable amount of money by translating French children's books into English. She lives with her roommate, a woman of the world named Sylvia, who offers Chloe a far better job -- going to a secluded estate and translating for a bunch of rich grocery importers.
It sounds too good to be true. So, of course, you just know it is.
Bastien Toussaint is a mercenary contracted by an enigmatic corporation calling itself the Committee. That is just so 1980s spymaster cheese that I giggled to myself a little. Anyway, Bastien is there to assassinate someone, and finds himself intrigued by the little mouse calling herself Chloe. He suspects that she's a plant there to disrupt his plans, and finds himself preoccupied with her.
Chloe is afraid of Bastien because he is a sexy European man who is playing the role of jaded womanizer, and he's one of those men who is a total asshole but still keeps women coming back. She doesn't want to be attracted to him, but she is, and her fascination leads her to do a little prying...and she soon realizes that the group of importers she's working for aren't importers at all.
They're. All. Assassins.
BLACK ICE is one of those books where you have to suspend your disbelief while reading the book. For example, I found it difficult to believe that a bunch of highly trained mercenaries/assassins would just let a civilian wander around unescorted. She found out about them by using Google, which begs the question: why was Bastien Toussaint using an identity that was already "out"?
Why didn't they check out the new translator immediately rather than just being all, "She looks stupid and innocent -- I'm sure she is?"
Also, Bastien has the unfortunate habit of assuming people are dead, only to have them come back later and try to put a bullet in his ass. WHY IS HE STILL ALIVE? This is not the kind of mistake that leaves you alive for very long in assassinland.
I was also annoyed by the fact that Bastien never uses a condom in all the times he sleeps with Chloe. Maybe this is supposed to show his loss of control. But his obsession with bodily fluids makes this really OOC, because who's to say that Chloe wouldn't go to a doctor and get swabbed?
I enjoyed BLACK ICE but it's not my favorite of Stuart's books. The assassin parts are pretty downplayed, and Bastien Toussaint is an idiot. He is hot, and the sex is scorching, but unprotected sex is something I just can't jump on board with, ever. I would definitely read the sequels, though I hope they're darker than BLACK ICE.
On the surface, Jasper Dent is an average teenage boy -- he's an active participant in the drama club, he has a beautiful girlfriend, and he spends a lot of time with, and worrying about, his friend, Howie, who is a hemophiliac.
But Jazz is not, and never will be, a normal boy. Because his father is one of the worst serial killers in the world. With over 100 victims, the name "Billy Dent" still makes people quiver.
Billy Dent was prepping his son to follow in his footsteps, so Jazz has seen things that would make even the most seasoned crime scene investigators retch. Sometimes, he was even forced to participate. Jazz doesn't have the same drives that pushed his dad, but his greatest fear is that he's going to turn into his father.
When a dead body shows up in his hometown, Lobo's Nod, Jazz is convinced that it is the work of another serial killer. G. William Tanner, the police chief, doesn't want Jazz to get involved in the case, and for a while, Jazz's tips fall upon deaf ears...until more bodies start piling up, and Tanner has no choice but to let Jazz help.
And the work of this serial killer is a little too familiar for comfort...
Whenever I come across a book that's been hyped to high heaven and back, I'm a little wary. But I received books 1-3 in this series from Netgalley and it seemed like a pretty low-risk introduction to Lyga's work. Rather than investing time and money, I only had to invest my time.
I HUNT KILLERS was a pretty decent read. I think my favorite parts of the book were the flashbacks to Jazz's memories of Billy Dent. Dude was seriously fucked up -- and brilliant. I loved how he mind-fucked his son, and the struggle Jazz had to deal with on a daily basis. I mean, his father raped the women he killed, and now the poor kid is afraid to have sex because he's afraid it'll be the catalyst that'll make him lose his control.
The story took a while to get moving, and I kept thinking that this would be a much better story if it were written in first person, because I really, really, really wanted more insight into Jazz's mind. Third person makes you a little more removed from a character, and Jazz was already so isolate.
When I was in high school, I was a wallflower. I was so shy, I never said a single word in some of my classes, and at the end of the year there were still people who didn't know my name.
I really, truly expected to enjoy THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER. The moment I read the summary, I was like, Oh my God, this book is singing me the song of my people. It's been on my to-read list since I joined this site, and I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy until now.
I finished it in about two and a half hours, and I have to say, I am so disappointed.
The book is written in epistolary form: a series of letters by Charlie addressed to an unknown person.
I don't like Charlie's narrative voice. He is an unhappy boy and yet nobody really addresses that. I discussed this with a friend of mine, and I think he has a combination of depression and maybe mild autism, but the way it is written is not very good. His disorder is better characterized in the beginning than the end, as if the author forgot.
In the epilogue, Charlie has some sort of psychotic break, but because of the lack of consistency it seems to come out of nowhere. I'm still not quite sure what his deal was.
This book really doesn't capture what it means to be a wallflower. Charlie makes friends instantly. He's not popular, but he's friends with the popular kids. He has a social life. People know his name.
When I was in high school, they would pass back papers and people would always say, "Who is Nenia Campbell?" One time, someone said, "Is she new?" It was the end of the year; I had been in that class for a whole year, and they didn't even know I was there.
I used to leave my lunch at home because I had nobody to eat with. I'd sit in the library and read, because going through the day without any food in my tummy was better than sitting out like a total loser and eating all by myself.
Being a wallflower means you're shy, and you don't pop out of the woodwork. It means you lack social graces, and that you'll never be in the limelight. Charlie isn't a wallflower.
This book touches upon a lot of serious issues but not with any sort of real depth.
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER deals with suicide, drug use, molestation, sexual abuse, domestic violence, rape, abortion, and homosexuality, but they are not dealt with in a constructive way, and happen so quickly that you could easily miss it if you were skimming the book.
The book opens with a suicide and there's some crying, and everyone is sad, and Charlie is so sad and makes such a fuss about this kid he hardly even knew that his teachers are afraid he'll be next, so give him better grades even though he doesn't do any better work. Okay.
At one point, Charlie does LSD. He ends up passing out naked outside, I think. Okay.
Two people in this book are molested. One of them is a family member of Charlie, and s/he ends up dying in a car crash. The other is a friend of Charlie's and it's just mentioned casually, like, "My first kiss was when I was seven. It was one of my father's friends." Um. Okay.
Charlie's sister gets into an abusive relationship. She dates a guy she perceives as weak and pushes him around until he hits her one day. This makes her like him more, and they get into a vicious circle. When Charlie's parents find out they break it up, but Charlie's sister ends up going back to him. Okay.
At one point, Charlie sees a girl getting raped. He just stands there and watches. (He watches other people have sex, too, including his sister.) Later he tells his sister about it (or maybe it was Sam, I can't remember), and she's like, "No, you can't tell anyone about it because it's okay now -- they're in a relationship and they love each other." Okay.
Someone close to Charlie gets an unplanned pregnancy. She gets an abortion. Afterward she doesn't seem at all traumatized or in pain and starts making jokes about it. Because that's so realistic. Okay.
Charlie's friend, Patrick, is gay. It's a really fucked up relationship because the guy Patrick likes (Brad) is in the closet. He doesn't have sex with Patrick unless he's taken a lot of drugs and alcohol first. One day Brad's father finds out and starts whaling on Brad with a belt. Then Brad calls Patrick a faggot in school and just sits there while his friends beat the crap out of his ex-lover. Okay.
I really found this book repulsive. I talked to my mom about it and she got defensive and started telling me how great it was for young adults, and that it was meant to be superficial because it's for teens and all this stuff, and I just said, "I don't care. I didn't like it. I thought it was stupid and shallow." And then she was like, "Well, a lot of people like this book so be careful what you say about it in your review."
Here's the thing, though. I don't think I should have to inflate my rating just because a book is a classic that everyone else seems to like. There are some classics I love (I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, JANE EYRE, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE) and there are some classics I hate (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, MADAME BOVARY, FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS).
I can see why this book appeals to teens. It name drops hipster lit and popular alternative music, and casually mentions controversial issues just enough to make the teen feel like they're reading something naughty. PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER could have been a really good book if it had been written better and had actual emotional depth.
Also, everyone in this book cries all the time. What is up with that? Are the pages made from raw onionskin?
Usually I love Anne Stuart -- she writes the kinds of books that I love to write: heroes as dark as sin, convoluted plots, fantastic dialogue, sizzling sex scenes. You know, my favorite.
When I read the summary for NIGHTFALL, it sounded awesome. A naive woman who gets mixed up with a man who just might be a killer? It sounded like a modern-day retelling of Bluebeard.
Richard Tiernan was convicted of killing his pregnant wife and children. He was sentenced to lethal injection, but famous crime writer, Mr. O'Rourke, posted his $1 million bail, in exchange for the rights to Tiernan's story. But there's a price -- Tiernan wants O'Rourke to whore out his own daughter to him in exchange.
Here's where I started to get annoyed. I got the feeling that this book was an attempt to capitalize on the O.J. Simpson trial, which had happened just one year prior to this book's being published. Tiernan is incredibly unlikable, and shows no remorse for what he allegedly did. He even makes jokes about maybe wanting to kill other women in the future, namely Cassidy.
This is how all the dialogue goes between the H and the h.
"Did you kill your wife and children?"
"Are you a danger to me?"
*leer* "Goodnight, Ms. Roarke."
(Her name is different than her father's because he changed it to sound more Irish.)
Cassidy is pretty spineless, even by romance novel standards. Her father is constantly telling her how ugly and fat she is. She has no sense of self-preservation or self-worth. When she gets to her parents' house, she unbuttons her shirt while she's in the kitchen, and is then surprised when Mr. Tiernan (who is living with her parents for some reason) walks in. To the kitchen. In the middle of the day. Oh, and she's offended when he doesn't leer at her boobs while rubbing a knife against his face.
Yeah, how about no.
Anne Stuart has written some great books but this, unfortunately, is not one of them.
Just shooting off a quickie review before I go off to bed because I have this internet situation going on -- namely that my parents, whom I still live with, unfortunately (my God, I've become a stereotype), have taken to shutting mine off to get me to go to bed earlier. Because this totally works, by the way.*
*No, it doesn't.
My first experience with Cherise Sinclair's work was CLUB SHADOWLANDS, which she has up for free download on Smashwords. That was where I obtained my copy. I'm actually working on a BDSM series of my own, so in addition to factual research I'm trying to read a lot of BDSM erotica and learn what to do and what not to do. And the more I learn about the scene and those who participate in it, the more I learn about the dos/don'ts.
Rebecca is not pleased when her boyfriend Matt announces that he's a swinger and that their vacation to the woods is actually a swinger party, where he expects her to jump in and out of beds with him along with the other couples. Way to drop a bomb, Matt, you asshole. If my future boyfriend happens to be reading this, you try this on me, you're going to be dumped faster than last week's garbage.
But Rebecca, the poor TSTL fool, things that it will be good for their relationship. After all, she's just signed a lease with him on a new apartment and maybe he's right, maybe she is frigid, and this will give their sex life the livening up it so desperately needs, and -- oh my God, Rebecca, do you even hear yourself right now? Of course, her douchebag boyfriend also criticizes her weight.
At the last moment, Rebecca gets cold feet and declines to participate. When she goes back to her cabin, she finds Matt fucking a big-boobed woman who is ruthlessly slut-shamed for the duration of the book, and yeah, okay, I get it, I'd be mad, too. But she should be mad at her boyfriend, since he pretty much blackmailed her into this without any warning and I'm really tired of seeing women get all the blame when the man is just as responsible for douchery/infidelity.
After sleeping out on the porch in a pout in freezing cold mountain weather (note: she is not smart), the guy who owns these cabins, Logan, finds her there and strips her to her undergarments on the pretense of helping her recover from the early stages of hypothermia. He enjoys this a little too much, and when she awakens, he fingerbangs her (warming her up from the remaining traces of hypothermia, I guess), and she is happy, and Logan starts thinking about fucking her.
What happens is about what you would probably expect. Logan is an Iraq war vet with PTSD and worried about hurting Rebecca. He also wants to push all her limits without scaring her away (typical BDSM romance novel scenario -- at least he doesn't tell her to run from him). Rebecca is a whiny woman who acts a lot younger than her age. She's heavy-set and self-conscious about it, she has daddy issues, mommy-issues, and vicious dog issues. Also she is curious about BDSM.
As Logan helps her explore the submissive side of herself, the swingers' psychodrama continues to play out in the background and it can basically be summed up in a single sentence: Matt is a dick and that big-boobed blonde bimbo he's palling around with is a mean old dumb slut.
The sex is pretty decent, actually, but the writing started to get really lazy about 50% of the way in, and I started to notice some things about the book that really bothered me.
1. Most Doms/subs have two safewords. One to slow down (usually "yellow") and one to make it all stop ("red"). Logan gave Rebecca one.
2. No discussion of hard and soft limits. Mostly just a whole bunch of "SURPRISE BUTTPLUG!"
3. Nobody in this book uses condoms. Nobody. Not the swingers, not the BDSMers. WTF?!
4. Logan is actually a really mean Dom. He takes his anger out on her during sex or during play, which makes it abusive and not fun. He tells her that he's only a Dom in the bedroom and then hops right onto the YOU WILL OBEY ME IN ALL THINGS train. He kicks her out of bed after saying something cruel, and then expects her to be back the next day and is angry when she is not.
5. I felt like Rebecca's weight issues were handled pretty badly. She became an embittered, walking stereotype and not someone I could relate to.
The book starts out with four animal spirits talking about China's failing dynasty. The turtle hijacks the shadow of a drunken man, and they go to America. That man is the father of our MC, and goes on to run a grocery store in Chinatown.
Hank, his son, is very sweet. I liked him immediately. His devotion to his parents, his upholding of tradition, and his good heart just make him one of those guys that you can't help but like. His mother is aloof and does not love her husband; when her hopes for America were dashed at a young age, she let it turn her cold.
But one day, after work, she is rescued by one of these caped crusaders, and it brought back some of the hopes for magic and wonder that she had as a young girl after seeing the U.S. on the silver screen. She decides that her son Hank needs to become a superhero and comedy ensues as she tries to get her son to become a superhero by doing everything from siccing a dog with rabies on him to pushing him into a toxic waste spill. (Really? Really?)
Hank does end up getting superpowers eventually -- I won't say how -- but as with most superheroes, his origin story is borne from tragedy. That tragedy leads to conflict: the desire to be a good person and make society a better, safer place versus the desire to get revenge and satisfy one's own pain.
It's no secret that I like Asian men, and Hank was flipping hot. >_>
And oh, hey, you know who'd make a GREAT Hank? Aarif Lee.
And Hank's mom? Lauren Tom, obv.
His dad...well, there's really no other choice but Sammo Hung.
And Red Center? Fan Bingbing
Movies would be so much better if I was in charge of casting. # JustSaying
I've read a handful of tentacle porn before, most of them awful. They say you get what you pay for, and judging a genre by the quality of the free porn you can get on Smashwords probably isn't doing anyone any favors.
When I saw that Netgalley was offering PET TO THE TENTACLE MONSTERS! I just had to apply. I had literally just downloaded about 100 erotic shorts, and I wanted to see how this one compared.
Our main character, Benji Tucker, lives in a RefCom (Refugee Community). Tentacle monsters have taken over the earth and humans live in internment camps where they are given a rating based on their level of contribution to society.
When Benji is in the wrong place at the wrong time, he ends up being taken by the scary Enforcers to who-knows-where.
But we know. Oh, yes. We know.
Maybe this is a subset of rule 34 of the internets already, but I'm pretty sure someone should make a rule: if a tentacle appears, someone, somewhere, is going to get violated.
So anyway, Benji finds himself in this room, where he cannot escape from, and there is a cute little pink tentacle monster that glitters and flashes rainbow colors when it is happy. It likes to play and acts like a child, so calls it Kitten.
But there's also a black tentacle that comes in, and it likes to play rough. It pushes him to the very ends of his endurance and spanks him if he does not comply. Benji is scared of the tentacle at first, which he calls Black (points for originality?) but its predictability -- and the knowledge that he will be rewarded, not punished, if he obeys -- makes him feel as comfortable with Black as Kitty soon.
The only tentacle he can't really get on board with his Silver, who doesn't really care about his limits. It pushes him until he cries, and at one point, actually makes him pee himself. (Spoiler.)
Don't worry, though. There's an HEA.
It's kind of scary how easy it was to find all these gifs...
I am currently imposing a self-ban on myself when it comes to book stores. The last time I went to a FoL sale, I literally picked up the entire romance section and plunked it down at the register and said, "ALL OF THEM." You might think I'm exaggerating -- I'm not. My two paper bags of book booty say otherwise.
THE BENGAL RUBIES was one of the books in that grab-bag. The cover makes the book seem a lot older than it actually is -- the Gothic two-tone font, the pose, the layout, made me think that this book was a rerelease of a title from the 1980s (not the 1970s, though; those gorgeous, handpainted covers are unmatched). Alas, BENGAL RUBIES is a 90s bodice ripper, which is hardly a bodice ripper romance at all, more of a, "Lady, if you don't mind, I would like to remove your bodice in a slightly less-than-gentle fashion" romance.
Honestly, I think I prefer the rapey ones. The half-hearted attempt at sweetness and character development makes for some truly bipolar characterization. How else to explain the fact that, after kicking the hero in the nadsack twice, the two of them end up making out just a few pages later? Also, foot-stomping heroines prevail in the 1990s books. Ever watch the stop motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? She's INDEPENDENT!!!!1
So there's this bitch named Jeanne who is pleading her case to her friend (platonic friend) Matthew Waterton, who also happens to be betrothed to her young daughter, Aloise. (Cringe.) She's married to an asshole named Oliver Crawford who hates her because she gave birth to two daughters and no sons -- and to add insult to injury, she became barren. Bitch, please! Jeanne thinks he is going to harm her and her child and begs Matthew to help her escape, but he tells her to go home.
On her way back home, Jeanne is attacked by two men her husband hired to bring her back after he discovered her missing. Matthew sees the struggle from his house and rushes to investigate/help-but-not-really. Jeanne dies in the struggle, and Oliver thinks, "My, how convenient." He kills the two witnesses and then decides he's going to blame the whole thing on Matthew, who's just standing there like a pussy. And if he kills the man who "killed" his wife, he will be a hero. IT ALL MAKES SENSE. Except his daughter is sitting there, seeing all this. But never mind that. Oliver chases after Matthew, intent on killing him, and Matthew runs like a little bitch and ends up escaping.
Years later, Aloise is now twenty and on her way back from a lengthy isolation in France. She's been in and out of boarding schools her whole life, brought back only when her father tries to marry her. But so far both her fiances have died in freak accidents. Also, Aloise ends up developing dissociative amnesia about her mother's murder, and nearly all her memories of her mother and her childhood have been repressed. Obviously, Oliver is getting really frustrated -- especially since his own remarriages tend to be ending in freak accidents (without children, either) -- so he decides to auction off his daughter to the highest bidder with a set of priceless rubies as her dowry.
Aloise is having none of this and steals the necklace from the ruby set and jumps overboard on the ship taking her back home. She washes up ashore and finds herself in the arms of Slater McKendrick, a mysterious man who frightens her as much as he arouses her, because this is a romance novel, and arousal must be felt! Little does she know that it's really her betrothed, now wearing a different name, intent on getting his revenge at any cost. Dun, dun, dun.
Honestly, this book is probably going to go exactly how you think it's going to go. While reading THE BENGAL RUBIES, I kept thinking to myself what a shame it was that it wasn't written in the 1970s/early 80s, because nobody did the concept of fucked-up love and revenge as well as they did then. That shit was fucked-up. BENGAL RUBIES is quite tame in comparison.
1. Hero gets kicked in the nutsack twice.
2. Hero has a pet tiger named Sonja.
3. Hero threatens to feed heroine to tiger. (An idle threat -- none of that feeding people to dogs for funzies shit that happened in SILVER DEVIL.)
I was hoping that this would be like Alma Katsu's book, THE TAKER -- lush, dark, atmospheric, historically relevant. And that cover, it's so beautiful!!! Unfortunately, it was a porned-up work of historical fiction whose flippancy actually made light of what was a very dark time in history.
Alia is a fallen angel. She has one act of grace, one miracle, at her disposal, although she hasn't used it yet. She resides in Paris at the time of German occupation, chumming around with various famous people like Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, Salvador Dali, etc. She has two lovers, a musician and a bullfighter, both of them part Jewish. Alia fears for their safety, as well of that of her neighbor and best friend, Suzanne, and her young daughter Cecile.
My problem with BROKEN is that it is too flowery to be erotica, but too erotic to be literature. It falls in a shadowy middle ground.
To make matters worse, Alia is a Mary Sue. Hearing all these famous people talk about how beautiful she is, and how much they want to have sex with her (again), got old fast. Even when the Nazis get involved, they have nothing but good things to say about her, such as how beautiful and Aryan she looks, and how much they want to fuck her, too. Uhhhh, great.
I don't mind erotica, but I didn't like how sex was portrayed in this book. I felt like it was meant to shock and horrify, which was not very fun to read about. Her rape by the Nazis made me cringe. The ending was good, but I was so impatient to get to the ending that this doesn't really credit the work much. I feel like this author could do good work if she focused less on using fancy words and more on actually telling a decent story.