I've always been a luke-warm fan of Stephen King, because his novels tend to be hit or miss for me. I was intrigued that he penned this one as a seque...moreI've always been a luke-warm fan of Stephen King, because his novels tend to be hit or miss for me. I was intrigued that he penned this one as a sequel to the Shining, so I picked it up. One rainy weekend later, I was done with the book, which I enjoyed quite a bit. Perfect? Of course not, but it was entertaining. The first part of the book is mostly dedicated to telling us what happened to Danny Torrance after the events of the Shining and into his adult hood, where he becomes Dan, the promiscuous alcoholic drifter who struggles to live with his Shining (psychic) abilities. Eventually after an eye-opening "morning-after" encounter with a young single mom, her child, and some nose candy, Dan settles down in a sleepy North Eastern town and tries his luck at AA. Meanwhile, elsewhere in New Hampshire, a young girl named Abra Stone is coming into her own Shining abilities. Unfortunately, she's being hunted by a group of RV driving quasi-immortals that call themselves The True Knot. They survive by consuming the "steam" of psychic children, while torturing them to death. Abra cries out for help (psychically, of course) and guess who hears her? Dan to the rescue...
All in all, I thought it was an entertaining read, with some creepy moments, and lots of tension. Some people will probably be annoyed by all of the pop culture references but these were almost a comfort for me, in an odd way, during some of the more tense/creepy moments in the story. I also think they are a reflection of the America we live in today, in which we are bombarded by advertising and driven by consumerism.
I will agree with the reviewers that felt that The True Knot were not as scary as other King villains. They are still human and able to be killed, and they have their own particular weaknesses as members of The True. They also care about each other, which might turn off readers that are into more "pure evil" types of villains. Personally though, I think the mistake that King made was establishing that Abra was incredibly powerful, right from the beginning. The anticipation leading up to her encounters with Rose the Hat and all of the others, was nerve-wracking at times, but the actual encounters themselves were not. Rose gets her ass handed to her in the middle of the book. This kind of made me doubt her as the prime antagonist. And unfortunately, the ending is sort of anti-climactic, which is a problem I've had with other books King has written. There is so much build-up to the end, but then everything just kind of falls flat and it's over in a few pages. That said, there is still much to enjoy here. I read the book in two days, and was glued to the page, so he's still doing something right.(less)
Purity is not much different than anything else Evangeline Anderson has written. There is a stronger sci-fi element, and less sex, but that’s about i...more Purity is not much different than anything else Evangeline Anderson has written. There is a stronger sci-fi element, and less sex, but that’s about it. If you’re looking for a compelling sci-fi tale about the woes of being a human (excuse me, an Erian) full of desire and need and how that can mess everything up? Look elsewhere.
I found neither K nor Boone to be inspiring characters. There was nothing about them that really grated on me, but on the other hand, they were both pretty forgettable, personality wise. Their romance was actually quite bland and everything played out very predictably. I felt like K and Boone could have been so much more interesting as characters that had been through a lot. They could have been more complex and in turn made the story more complex. The potential was there, but as per usual, underutilized. Boone falls far too quickly for K (it’s obvious right from the beginning that he’s already developing feelings for her, which is a little weird considering she had just killed a bunch of his comrades) and K overcomes her issues with being touched, a little too easily and quickly for someone who has spent most of her life being brainwashed and pumped full of drugs. Boone’s friend Loki had more spitfire than either K or Boone, and I often found myself wishing that she had pumped some of that into her main leads, rather than saving it for a minor side character.
One other nitpick I have is that the real name of “K” in this story, is Krissana, which is also the name of the heroine in Planet X, a completely different and unrelated story that she wrote a few years ago. (She also repeats in her BOK series; there are two female characters with exes named Mitch.) I mean really? Out of millions of names that exist, and she chooses the same ones all over again? I don’t understand that at all.
Purity isn't the worst book, and certainly not the worst by EA. I liked the skin suit idea, and some of the other sci-fi stuff, but at the same time, the lack of heat in this book (it has a couple of sex scenes but nothing too crazy) combined with the half-ass writing, makes it only a two star read, for this reader. (less)
I read Shadowed feeling a sense of enjoyment through most of it. Even the kidnapping at the beginning didn't bother me, because Reddex at least wasn't...moreI read Shadowed feeling a sense of enjoyment through most of it. Even the kidnapping at the beginning didn't bother me, because Reddex at least wasn't trying to have sex with Nina (at least not at first) and his characterization and condition was such, that he ended up depending and leaning on Nina quite a bit in the story, which I thought was nice. Nina came across as a gentle and patient soul, and a mature one as well. She wasn't girlish in the way that Nadiah and Lissa were in their books. She had some life experience and wasn't afraid to be strong for Reddex. It was clear that she felt compassion and curiosity about him very early on, so the whole kidnapping thing went over as smooth as something like being thrown over the shoulder of a giant emotionally-neurotic Kindred possibly could. Reddex was kind of refreshing simply because HE DID NOT WANT TO BE TOUCHED. Desperate because he was supposedly inheriting Saber's job as the leader of their clan (due to Saber being in an "incestuous" relationship with Lissa), Reddex goes to an exiled swamp witch on his planet who tells him she can mute all of the emotions he feels with the blood of a woman with healing hands. Just so happens that he's dream sharing with some Earth chick, who of course is Nina, and she's a massage therapist. But of course they crash land on a weird planet and bond (but not BOND because Reddex can't bond a bride to him due to his condition) and then he can't give her up. Also he discovers Nina mutes others' emotions when she's touching Reddex, and he can't feel hers, so after that, he definitely tries (a little too hard at times) to get into her pants. Ah well, it is erotica. Still, the sexy scenes were not as hot as they normally are and I did find myself skimming them a bit at times. Maybe it's just that it's all getting a little old for me. And then....then I got to the last part of the book, which is basically Kat's bonding ceremony. It was very very disappointing to me that the story and solution to the issues between Nina and Reddex, was wrapped up with (view spoiler)[yet another bonding fruit incident. What's more, since the bonding fruit was involuntarily eaten by most of the the people at the reception, there are suddenly consent issues that come into play. Some of what was described in passing (regarding a freaking NUN and some twin kindred, more specifically) sounded like dubious consent at best. I'm certainly not fond of "You must have sex with me even though you don't want to because you'll die due to a health condition" kinds of scenarios. I just can't get down with that. (hide spoiler)] There will be more books coming I'm sure, especially since she sets up another couple of heroines for their stories in this one. But I think this was the final one for me, and I'll be passing on those. ["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I enjoyed this book of Miranda July's short stories but if we could give half stars, I would give it a 3.5. It's the first of her writing that I have...moreI enjoyed this book of Miranda July's short stories but if we could give half stars, I would give it a 3.5. It's the first of her writing that I have read, although I have seen Me, You, and Everyone We Know. I remember thinking it was a decent film and charming in its own way. That's kind of how I feel about July herself. She's a decent writer, and charming in her own way. But some of the stories were kind of a drag to read too. After a while I tired of what I came to see as the endless babbling of her writing. At times the point seemed to get lost in the mire of her eccentric/indie writer's perspective, which tainted each and every character in the book.
My favorite stories were Something that Needs Nothing, about a desperate young woman whose love for her girlfriend is not entirely requited; and Telling Stories to Children about a woman who ends up becoming a surrogate mother figure for a little girl whose troubled family life seems to swallow them both whole. I didn't care too much for Making Love in 2003, or the boy from Lam Kien. These were stories that I thought seemed like unfinished ideas. I tend to agree with others who have said that these almost come across more as writing exercises than something that should be published.
But I still felt inspired. There were sentences that had me enraptured with her writing, even while I was kind of annoyed at it. I think she has a gift for adding significance to seemingly insignificant events that most of us wouldn't bat an eyelash at. The loneliness and shadow of melancholy that seemed to overshadow the characters was something that I could relate to, even when their actions seemed absurd. This was a hugely redeeming feature of the book for me, and hence the 3.5 stars.(less)
Evangeline Anderson's newest installment (notice, I didn't say last) in her Brides of the Kindred series is already out and just in time for the holid...moreEvangeline Anderson's newest installment (notice, I didn't say last) in her Brides of the Kindred series is already out and just in time for the holidays down time, should you be so fortunate to have it :).
My overall impression: More of the same, with some unexpected elements that pleased me.
Lissa, the new high priestess of First World is the heroine in this one, and Saber, her adoptive-brother and clan mate, is her hero. Both have agreed to go on a dangerous mission to the laughably campy matriarchal planet, Yonnie Six (lol) in order to recover some scrolls that are sacred to the Kindred. They must infiltrate a society in which men are treated like dogs, complete with leash and shock collars, and pleasure is the prime objective. This is more of an obstacle for the naturally submissive and virginal Lissa, than it is for Saber. Considering that Kindred men are typically over-supplicating to the women they love, as well as over-sexed, this makes sense. Saber takes to his role fairly well, save for bristling at the more unpleasant and abusive ladies, of which there are a few. I actually liked Saber for the most part, although I will admit that I also found him a little boring as well. He struck me as a benevolent leader sort. He also didn't act like a horny guard dog, though there were some "low rumbling growls" and what not. It was very subtle though.
Lissa...I didn't care for her much. She's not completely useless like Sophia or Olivia, but she came across as very one note: timid, shy, righteously angry when she needed to be, but completely saccharine otherwise. It's a boring archetype. If they're not virginal innocents, they're dumb and bitchy, that's how Anderson likes to roll with her leading ladies, I guess. But considering that both Lissa and Saber were boring together, it kind of worked.
The unexpected stuff: (view spoiler)["Evil" Draven devises a plan with Lauren's clone who calls herself "L" (seriously? you can't come up with something better than that?), to implant a device on the Mothership, that switches the bodies up of the Kindred and their mates. This means that Baird gets to experience Olivia's pregnancy all the way up until the baby pops out of her. And Sylvan experiences Sophia's pregnancy as well. Elise and Merrick have some hot switched body sex, although sadly, this is only mentioned later on, and we don't get to experience it with them. There is also a scene in which Lissa fucks Saber with a strap on in front of some people, and they both love it, but both feel ashamed that they did, for different reasons. Predictable angst ensues. Then they both make mature decisions to suck it up and accept it, and of course HEA. I was kind of surprised. I saw definite evidence of adult maturity in this relationship. It was pretty refreshing. I also liked seeing the dude on the receiving end for once, not gonna lie. (hide spoiler)]
Anyway, other stuff happens of course. In fact, I would almost say that the last part of the book feels both crammed and rushed. Everything wrapped up a little too neatly, which is something I sort of loath in books, in case you haven't grasped that from my reviews yet. It's insulting and lazy. There were also a few glaring grammatical/placement errors that stuck out to me too, which doesn't usually happen for me with these books. I'm guessing she just wanted to get it out before the holidays. Apparently, she is going to start working on yet another book, early next year. I'm crossing my fingers for some kind of new angle, something fresh. Maybe a transsexual or hobo or someone who already has children or something challenging like that? Maybe a hero who dreams of something other than "taking a bride" or who is reluctant to commit (in this case, that would be weird)? Stranger things have happened. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
After reading her book Wild, I decided to pick up Cheryl Strayed's book Tiny Beautiful Things, mainly because I liked Strayed's writing style and I wa...moreAfter reading her book Wild, I decided to pick up Cheryl Strayed's book Tiny Beautiful Things, mainly because I liked Strayed's writing style and I wanted to know more about her. In hindsight, I probably could have saved myself the money because you can read many of the letters written if not all, in the archives of the Rumpus website.
Strayed is very high empathy which I appreciated a lot while reading her responses to some of the letters she's received since become "Sugar" of the Dear Sugar advice column on the rumpus. In fact, I would say Strayed has a gift for conveying her empathy via writing, while still not fearing to tell it like it is or shy away from the truth lurking behind many of her reader's issues. I didn't always agree with her advice but not once did I ever feel like throwing the book at the wall,even when I did disagree.
After a while, it became clear that Strayed uses these reader letters as a jump-off point to then relate it back to something in her life, and wax-poetic on that. In other words, the advice column seems to be a platform for her writing every bit as much as it is for advice. This is partially why I picked the book up in the first place, but there were times when I couldn't help thinking "You just spent 2 pages talking about yourself and one paragraph addressing the other person's problem". I can't help but feel Strayed is a tad self-centered (aren't we all?)but I think that is almost impossible to avoid when you are heavily involved in memoir-style writing, so I can't complain too much.
All in all, I found this book to be an inspiring read. And there are so many delicious quotables, I doubt I'll be able to keep my copy unmarked.
I don't even know where to begin with this review. I had such mixed feelings. I picked this book up on a Friday afternoon and read about 20 or 30 page...moreI don't even know where to begin with this review. I had such mixed feelings. I picked this book up on a Friday afternoon and read about 20 or 30 pages in, then picked it up again on Sunday and read the rest in one sitting. That is a testament to Cheryl Strayed's writing. It really is superb, and she has a gift I think, for drawing readers into the story.
The book begins with some back history of Strayed's childhood, growing up with her siblings and mother on a farmhouse with her step-dad (she had a very poor relationship with her biological father who was abusive to her mother). It then moves to her college years, when she and her mother begin to attend classes together and apart, both to get their degrees in-you guessed it Oprah Book club fans, Women's Studies. Strayed marries a good man at 19 but 3 years later, she finds out her mother is dying of lung cancer. After that happens, her life falls apart. She has a massive breakdown and begins cheating on her husband repeatedly until she confesses her infidelities and he leaves her. She claims that she still loved him very much and that he was still her best friend. She hooks up with a junkie who in turn hooks her up with heroin. She gets pregnant via said junkie and has an abortion. She then decides to hike the PCT from Mojave to Cascade Blocks in Oregon. In spite of months of preparation, she finds as she begins her journey, that she is still woefully unprepared and ridiculously naive in regards to what her 1100 mile+ hike would actually be like. Heaving her massive and heavy pack nicknamed "monster" along the way, Strayed slowly but surely acclimates to life on the trail. Along the way, she meets other hikers and makes some friends, as well as having a few spooky encounters with snakes, bears, and creepy men, armed only with a whistle (which I found incredibly stupid btw…I would never go hiking alone without some kind of real protection or firearm. That's just me though). She even has time along the way to hook up with yet another stranger, while taking a break from the hike in Ashland. By journey's end, Strayed is fitter, happier, and….well, maybe just fitter.
What I liked:
In a way, I can relate to Strayed. Someone close to me is a heroin abuser, and knowing what drove him to that, I could easily see the pain of her mother's death bringing her to that. I could also relate to her self-destructiveness in general, especially when she mentioned how she imagined that people who were "cutters" enjoyed the pain they caused themselves. That hit home for me in a pretty real way.
I really enjoyed the actual "journey" parts of this book. Strayed makes a few bad judgment calls and underestimates how much stress her body would have to go through. Unlike some, these dumb decisions didn't drive me batty and I found her to be somewhat endearing in her foolishness. She is pretty lucky that nothing really bad happened to her. I also found her encounters with the other hikers to be interesting (more specifically, the fact that just about everyone she came across was friendly and helpful to her in some way).
Strayed's writing as I said, is pretty damn good. She is honest and forthright about her past, and I don't feel like she tried to paint herself as a victim too much, which is good, because I didn't see her as such.
What I didn't like:
I felt like Strayed didn't do the greatest job of explaining her "transformation" while on the trail. In fact, it almost seemed like she didn't change much at all, except to mention that she felt she no longer needed heroin at the end. Oh yeah, and instead of sleeping with a man she is attracted to, she decides not to. I mean, both of those things are important I suppose, but I just needed…more. I felt like Strayed needed more redemption or something. She basically just rationalizes away the shitty things she did, because they lead her to hiking the PCT, which somehow leads her to a rebirth that isn't quite believable to me, as presented. I expected a little bit more contrition, and maybe for her to stop using her ex-husband as an emotional tampon (in all fairness, she did make some comments like maybe she was truly moving beyond him but it was only a couple of lines). Another reviewer mentioned that if we reversed the gender roles in this story and a man had written it, this book wouldn't have quite as many four and five star reviews because we would all be so focused on what an asshole he was to cheat on his loving and supportive wife repeatedly and engage in heroin use. I kind of tend to agree that it wouldn't also. And while I think anyone who hiked the trail is a bad-ass for even trying to go so far, Strayed admits multiple times that she is constantly being helped out and complimented because she is pretty. There is even a scene where three guys she met on the trail tell her that she is lucky to get helped out by strangers like that, because no one at all wants to help three men out. It kind of took away from the "empowerment" aspect of her journey. I mean really, had she not had all of the little handouts and whatnot, I don't know that her story would have ended the same way, because she found herself in some sort of dire circumstances at times. Not that it really lessens her feat greatly, because I don't think that it does. Things are what they are and she did make it the whole way.
I probably sound pretty judgmental of Strayed and but I honestly am trying hard not to be. I'm not by any means perfect and I'm in no place to truly judge her as a person. She may have well evolved immensely on her trip, but she didn't convey that personal internal evolution very well to me with her writing, and that's what I'm criticizing because I have a feeling that Strayed is probably a cool lady now a days. I'm happy that she found someone worth marrying again and had a family. She lives in Portland just like me, so maybe someday I'll meet her. I'm definitely going to check out more of her writing and her Dear Sugar column. (less)
I decided to take a break, first from reading, and then from reading mindless poorly written garbage. I felt as though my brain were trapped in a clou...moreI decided to take a break, first from reading, and then from reading mindless poorly written garbage. I felt as though my brain were trapped in a cloud of smoke and cheap words.
So I heard about this memoir by Lidia Yuknavitch, and I had to give it a go. Lidia lives here in the Portland area and somehow knowing she's around, a real person existing, is kind of exciting.
The book is comprised of vignettes; various memories that Lidia recalls and show/tells us with her often poetic prose and use of various literary devices. After opening with the death of her still-born daughter at age 26, the first part of the book is mainly about her dark and frightening childhood, shared with her sister. The failings of her parents are pretty grievous, and her father especially took some pretty fucked up liberties with his daughters. Lidia however, is a gifted swimmer and finds her strength in swimming, and later in her life, writing. She is careful not to cast her parents into specific boxes; while she is deeply hurt by her father, she also speaks of his vast intelligence and artistry and while she resents her mother for not protecting her more, she also remembers how much her mother was there for her in other ways.
After moving to go to college in Texas, Lidia's life seems to spiral into a mess of alcohol, sex with just about everyone(and abortions), drugs, and mayhem. Crimes are committed. Men are married (three of them). Lidia is fearless in exploring art, writing, sexuality. She also relates to how she found writing through doing workshops with Ken Kesey and meeting Kathy Acker. Eventually she goes on to be a professor herself, and marries one of her students, with whom she eventually had a child and is still married to, today. While Lidia does some morally questionable things in her life, she keeps it real. She tells it like it is, even when she isn't explicitly telling it. She writes with a dispassionate hindsight. The tone seems at times amused, other times somewhat apologetic, but only subtly so.
The way that the book is written is so...lovely. I really love Lidia's writing voice. She has a mastery of language. To me, a well written memoir should bring the reader closer to who the writer is. And this was something that I felt reading the book. I felt connected to her, which is something that makes the book far more meaningful to me. Our life experiences are pretty vastly different too, but the emotions, the feelings...I felt a kinship, even though you can't actually put emotions into language. She gets close enough sometimes. Sure it's not a work of perfection, objectively speaking. There were a few lines that had me rolling my eyes. But nothing that really took away from book, as a whole. (less)
I had heard much about this book when I was going through my "radfem" phase (I have since declared myself a humanist) and bought it a few years back....moreI had heard much about this book when I was going through my "radfem" phase (I have since declared myself a humanist) and bought it a few years back. I read it pretty quickly but decided I thought it was a little over-the-top and unrealistic, but that I enjoyed it. I tend to like reading about dystopias and alternate futures and the like. However, over the years passed, I have reevaluated and I do believe that the potential is there for something similar to what happened in this story, to happen in America. Human beings, being deeply flawed and the ones tending toward irrational fanaticism have lead me to believe this. I think its an incredibly remote chance, and I also think it would start a war in this country. The point is that I don't think it's *impossible.* I believe that was Margaret Atwood's point too.
I found myself horrified and disgusted by the way women and all societal outliers were treated in this dystopian world. The idea of being forced to have sex with an assigned patriarch is absolutely revolting to me. While the narrator seems to keep her wits about her and maintain a solid frame throughout the novel, it did not lessen the tragedy of being separated from her daughter and husband. But of course, anyone who is immersed in any kind of government/ruling system, will soon find agency in their own ways, and also learn to exploit loopholes in the system, as well as learning to exploit human weaknesses, which don't disappear simply because one lives in a totalitarian state. Offred (the narrator) does just this in striking up illicit affairs with both the commander and Nick, and is able to find a way out (it is implied that she is indeed taken in by the resistance in the epilogue. I choose to believe this as well.) I enjoyed this read very much and recommend it to anyone who is intrigued by "speculative fiction."
Last month I took a class that Kevin Sampsell taught (along with Chloe Caldwell) and my interest in reading and writing memoir was piqued. Kevin menti...moreLast month I took a class that Kevin Sampsell taught (along with Chloe Caldwell) and my interest in reading and writing memoir was piqued. Kevin mentioned he had written this book, so I decided to read it. It was all the more exciting because I love reading people's writing that I know or have even just met, in Kevin's case.
The book is told in little vignettes and short essays on his youth spent in Kennewick, WA. The first parts of the book establish a somber tone that seemed to linger through the entire thing, at least for me. Nothing I read later on was really funny, in light of knowing that their dad was a pedophile and got his older (not blood related if I understood correctly,but still...)sister pregnant. It was disturbing.
Still, I could relate to the awkwardness of his teen years, and the need for love and affection from the opposite sex. There are some somewhat brow raising tales of love and sex, porn-booths and prostitutes. He also talks of some of his first jobs and living in different cities as he moved into young adulthood. I was never bored. Even the little moments that seemed inconsequential, weren't because I knew they were important to him. He was writing about it, so it must have meant something. That's what counts to me. Plus little things can have a big impact on a person's life.
I liked the style that the book was written in, it made it seem easier to read, having everything broken down into the vignettes. It flowed well. I wish I could have had a bit more reflection on the darker aspects of his life. Or maybe a piece that tied together all of the times he felt like crying or killing himself, or hated his dad or anyone else...that's really just my preference though.
Verdict: I look forward to reading more writing from Mr. Sampsell.
3.5 stars out of 5...this is my longest review yet. Who knew I could go on and on about such a silly book?! Also, I tried to blot out the spoilers but...more3.5 stars out of 5...this is my longest review yet. Who knew I could go on and on about such a silly book?! Also, I tried to blot out the spoilers but sorry if I didn't get them all!
I'm not going to lie. Believe it or not, I was sort of looking forward to reading this book, in spite of what I wrote in my review of Revealed. The idea of two f**ked up people coming together as soul mates is one of my weaknesses when it comes to love stories so I may be a bit biased in this review. Many people have asked why I continue to read the series since I review it so harshly and am such a critic. My answer is that, while I understand that erotic works of fiction are usually read first and foremost for their erotic content; Ms. Anderson has clearly intended to put just as much effort into her story and actual writing craft, as she has in getting us off. And she's very good at the latter, IMO ;) I just think that the former needs a little work. And I also think that authors of these kinds of works still should step up their games. Writing is writing, no matter the subject. It's a craft that should be respected and done well, not used to create unreadable garbage. Luckily, unreadable garbage is NOT what you will find here.
First off, quick summary. This story begins right where Revealed left off, so you need to read that before you read this one. Elise, a human woman who was previously captured by the departed All Father, is found floating in a stasis unit in space by Merrick, a Beast/Blood Kindred hybrid. Hybrid Kindred males are even larger in size than their full blooded peers and are supposedly unable to bond. However, after saving Elise and bringing her back to the Mother ship, Merrick and Elise are revealed to have formed an artificial bond that must be destroyed before it destroys them. Thus is the beginning of our journey. First the two must travel to Rageron to find a rare plant that can help destroy the bond. All the while, needing physical touch to ease the "hunger" of the bond, but trying to resist their overpowering attraction to one another. After this , they are kidnapped by Draven (the new evil) subjected to pain and torture, and then reunited in the end.
First, what worked for me:
1. Elise and Merrick. I liked them both. I liked them together and apart. I feared that Elise would be turned into another god-awful Sophie-like character. Luckily in between the angst and weeping, and stupid decisions, there were enough ballsy moments in which Elise was forced to prove herself worthy of Merrick. I also liked that Elise was fairly straightforward in her desire for Merrick as well. Sure there was some resistance on account of her very dark past (even worse than Sophie's, IMO) but there wasn't any annoying "I like it but I can't because...because....because..." like with Olivia and Kat, etc. Me thinks perhaps Anderson has learned a thing or two about the irritating way she tends to portray her females. Bravo.
Merrick was just right for me, as a hero. He's definitely my favorite so far. He came across as alpha and protective, but not an overbearing asshole. There are moments where he's forced to accept Elise's independence and strength as a person, which he does. He didn't try to force anything on Elise that she wasn't willing to give, but he also knew that she might need a little bit of seductive coaxing. He was blunt and to the point, which I liked. He doesn't shy away from killing (there was actually a line where he refers to himself feeling better "now that the killing was done" that made me LOL.). He's not oversexed (unlike *ahem* Baird) but he's definitely into enjoying what Elise has to offer. He's tortured, scarred, but still soft and squishy on the inside. I don't know. I'm not really sure what it was about this one. In some ways he was very much like the other heroes but the balance of his character just worked for me better than in the past.
The sexual tension between the two was very believable to me. They were a couple that I was rooting for (for once!) and couldn't wait until they hooked up. (view spoiler)[The final bonding scene at the end did not quell my desire. (hide spoiler)] I hope we get a scene or two of sexy time with this couple, next book.
2. The story elements. There were certain parts of the story that I found to be surprisingly dark. This is a good thing IMO, especially considering the tooth-ache inducing love fest that was Revealed. I loved the fact that Merrick's mom was (view spoiler)[literally, a whore. I loved that Elise's stepfather earned his nasty end (serial raping Elise, running over her dog TWICE in front of her and then trying to rape her again at the end...yeah, didn't feel bad for his passing AT ALL). I loved the sadistic Draven guy who forces his minions to stab out their eyes when he's done with them. And his blanket of skins. Yuck. I also enjoyed Lissa's self-exiled naked trek into the desert. (hide spoiler)] I believe her story with her touch-kindred lover/brother will be next. I will be interested to see how Anderson handles that situation, considering her other pseudo-incest stories have left a bad taste in my mouth and reek of coercive sex. But she's already off to solid start in having Lissa admit that she very much reciprocates her "brother's" attraction.
3. First World: I liked the stuff that happened on First World and learning a bit more about it. I felt like I could picture the different scenes/settings in my mind. I will admit that I found Rast/Nadiah a little boring now that they are together. Lissa strikes me as the young, sweet, virginal type. I kind of wonder what Anderson has against women who aren't afraid to sleep around a little bit. I don't recall encountering that in any of her past works. Her women are always sexually unsure of themselves and seem to need men to help them find their sexual power. It's not necessarily a criticism as much as an observation.
What didn't work for me:
1. Repetitive storylines. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the story, but it struck me more as a hybrid of Planet X and Hunted than something really new and original. Anyone who has read those two books and then reads this will see the similarities. A dangerous jungle planet traversed by A large beastly dude and young hottie? Check. A remote and indigenous people with strange customs and beliefs that cause problems for the main characters? Check. Huge scary jungle creature that needs to be killed by alpha hero? Check. Young hottie is former victim of rape? Check. Beastly dude must overcome hottie's sexual hang ups due to the past rape? Check. Not only that, but even Draven's storyline is basically a copy of the All father's from the first four books. He kidnaps the heroine and hero, tortures them both a bit, and then somehow they are able to get away, which is basically how it always played out with the All Father in the past. Although I will admit that Draven is funnier and a bit more sadistic IMO, which is good. The more bad he actually accomplishes, the more us readers will want his demise '. (Think Joffery from Game of Thrones. Is there anyone who's read the books or seen the show that didn't want that kid dead? LOL)
2. The Mothership Crew. Anytime we were forced to revisit the ladies on the Mothership, I skimmed. It bores the hell out of me, not gonna lie. I could care less what weird concoction Olivia is mowing down on. I sure as shit don't want to hear anymore of Sophie's whining or stammering. And what the hell does Kat even do anymore aside from eating and girl-talk? Sylvan and Xairn seemed to be the only Mothership men available this time around. Once Elise meets them all, I couldn't stop thinking "someone like her wouldn't be friends with women like them". I don't see why all of the women need to be friends or hang out together constantly. It's unrealistic. Sophie's happy news at the end of the story left me gagging. Also, question. If Olivia is already hugely pregnant with one child,(view spoiler)[ how in the hell is Sophie going to handle carrying two? (hide spoiler)] I mean, the dynamics of humans giving birth to kindred babies hasn't exactly been discussed in detail. Also, the stuff with Xairn and Lauren was kind of a head scratcher. The way Xairn was behaving and reacting to his dreams didn't really make sense to me. All in all, I suppose I should admit that I find the other couples rather boring now that they've had their stories and are together.
3. I found the fiancé character to be unnecessary. (view spoiler)[I felt that there was enough angst with the artificial bond and past rape, without throwing in a fiancé that, surprise surprise, is flamboyantly effeminate and evil. He also talks like Zsa Zsa Gabor, apparently. And once again, yes, he had underhanded motives and was kind of sadistic. This is one prediction I made that I was indeed right about. (hide spoiler)]
4. No real consequences. One of my biggest on-going gripes is that there are no permanent consequences in this series. While many of the characters have troubled/dark pasts, it seems as soon as they meet their prospective mates, nothing bad sticks. For example, (view spoiler)[Merrick survives a punishment of being slashed up by a transformed "ancient one" in beast form, with poisonous claws. Even though the slashes heal, the poison creates pain that lasts a decade. Luckily in true Evangeline-form, all Merrick needs is some "female life essence" to stop this from happening. I will let you use your imagination on what exactly that means. But I thought that was stupid and he should have had to live with the pain until all of the poison left his body. Why would female ejaculate be a cure? OH yeah, because this is a hokey campfest of an erotic story where sex SAVES LIVES and cures all sorts of problems. (hide spoiler)] Another example is Sophie's infertility. She should never have been able to have kids with Sylvan but due to "magic", she's healed and(view spoiler)[ now having twins. (hide spoiler)] Yuck. Also, Merrick and Elise are able to (view spoiler)[ restore their bond to a real one at the end, because apparently their love is magical. It wouldn't bother me so much if the implications of their relationship being "lesser" for not having a magical psychic connection, weren't there. But they are. (hide spoiler)] I just think that while fantasy stories are just that, fantasy, they still need to follow the rules of that universe. And if the rules of that universe are: "nothing bad ever happens that's permanent anyway" then why do I bother reading? If I know every single Kindred and their mates are going to make it and live happily ever after, what's the point?
All in all, in spite of a few bothersome bits, I was pleasantly surprised by this story. I'm pretty sure I will read the next installment when it comes out this fall. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I read Battle Royale about four or five years ago. Now I have never read the Hunger Games series but I am familiar enough with the plot to know that t...moreI read Battle Royale about four or five years ago. Now I have never read the Hunger Games series but I am familiar enough with the plot to know that there are some similarities between those books and this one. However, I am willing to bet that this book is much more "R rated", and I have heard as much from others that have read both. Keep that in mind...this book is pretty violent.
You will note that at the beginning of the novel, there is a list of every student who participates. I believe all of them get a POV chapter. The list came in very handy for me because other than a few phrases I've learned through watching anime, I am unfamiliar with Japanese. The names often sounded familiar to my ignorant ears, so I literally had to take notes to keep everyone straight. Luckily, because so very many of these characters die, keeping track of them is much easier toward the end. In all fairness, I don't hold this against the author. That was my problem, not his.
The premise is that a class of Japanese teenagers is hijacked by the government and forced to participate in a cruel and twisted game in which they must off each other one by one. Resistance=Death, and those in charge are not afraid to prove that, right off the bat. There are a few core heroes (and heroine) that are able to stay alive right until the end. There are also some very nasty killers: Mitsuko Souma, a beautiful but psychotic and malicious young female student. And Kazuo Kiriyama, a sociopath with an inability to experience emotions of any kind, making him a creepy and extremely dangerous foe. On the other side of the equation, are Shuya Nanahara,the benevolent rebel and talented athlete, Noriko Nakagawa, the young woman he has a crush on who proves to be intelligent enough to stay alive, and Shogo Kawada, a previous winner from another class who must try and survive all over again. It's one of those books that might be slightly predictable but you don't care because it's well done.
So who survives? I heartily recommend you read this book, to find out.(less)
Oh boy. I downloaded this little gem and read it out of boredom this last weekend. I was kind of surprised by the content, it wasn't what I was expect...moreOh boy. I downloaded this little gem and read it out of boredom this last weekend. I was kind of surprised by the content, it wasn't what I was expecting, especially based on the story description and what it left out (sex in shifted form infers both partners are shifted, and that rape is not involved, at least to me). Raise your hand if you find bestiality, coercive relationships, pseudo-incest (not technically incest but still psychologically traumatizing) and rape, sexy? If that's you, you're gonna love this story. Well actually, you might not, because it's really not all that well thought out or written.
As a child growing up, Rachael knows her family is different. They are Amon-Kai, a race of beings of which little is known or told to the reader. We only know that they have pale green eyes and can see really well in the dark. Also the males have special abilities and grow to a very large size, and as well, turn into murderous beasts every full moon; that is unless they find their perfect mate, and bond her to him (and while I'm at it, what is with all of this bonding forever crap? She writes about it in every story, where the woman must be "bonded" to the male, permanently. As tempting as it is to go into a rant about the myth of monogamy (as in one partner and one partner only, for life) and how sick I am of seeing this stupid-ass trope, I'll refrain. ) Then they are saved from their curse. Rachael's older foster brother, Richard, is also Amon-Kai. And conveniently, his perfect mate also happens to be his sister. However, the children's mother is disgusted by the thought of her daughter being forced into a nasty, coercive relationship in which her daughter will have no agency and her son will be allowed to sneak into his sister's room at night and molest her, after she comes of age. After a fight with her husband, she kidnaps her daughter and they move to a land far away. Sort of. Years later, Rachael has moved on with her life and gave up looking for Richard years prior. Guess she didn't have the all consuming desire for him that he had for her...yet another bad sign. However, it isn't long before Richard shows up, having finally found her, since he never stopped looking to begin with.
As adults, Rachael is engaged to another man who is portrayed in classic Evangeline fashion as weak, smarmy, somewhat effeminate, and up to no good. No doubt Elise's "fiancé" , referenced in her last book, Revealed and who will surely play a part in her upcoming book Persued, will be shown in the same unflattering light. It would be a problem bigger than Anderson could ever handle or write about should the fiancé be an okay dude. She simply doesn't know how to bring a couple together without coercion or a bad situation that forces them together, or making "the other man" or "the other woman" bad people so that the good ones will want to get together. Like a man who turns into a murderous monster every full moon, and MUST have bonding sex with the woman he knows belongs to him (who cares what she thinks about that) to calm him down. Not cool. I would love for her to prove me wrong. The only reason I bother reading any stories of hers are that I've always seen a spark of something special with her writing. But I digress; further along in the story, there is a scene in which Richard in his beast form, rapes Rachael, who sacrifices herself in order to prevent him from eating her friend who is unconscious. This scene was sickening and completely unsexy. I nearly stopped reading there. This is the second book of Anderson's that I've read, in which a woman who technically consents but is repulsed by the actual act happening the entire time and tries to leave the hero after because of it. If that's not rape, then it's something else that's just about as nasty. Just because her body reacted to it, does not make it any less rape. It really troubles me that Anderson uses that in her stories to justify the male's actions (for example, her men often say things like "you may say otherwise but your body doesn't lie" in dubious consent/rape scenes. It kind of scares me a little that her writing seems to infer that a woman becoming wet during rape, means that she actually wants it.) After this happens, Rachael attempts to cut Richard off and marry her fiance, only to have him show up on her wedding day and seduce her. Slowly she gives into the needs of her body and realizes within the last two pages that THIS IS WHAT SHE REALLY WANTS. Right? That the hero would want to force this situation on the heroine, struck me as rather unloving and very very selfish. It made me dislike him as a person. If he really cared and wanted her to be happy, he'd leave her alone. Or at least quit dressing up their relationship in romantic BS language when this story is about as romantic and sexy as watching a girl get raped by a dog. But, then again, YMMV. (less)
I bought this book of essays on impulse, having seen it on my coffee break in the Small Press section at Powells. Being a twenty-something myself, I w...moreI bought this book of essays on impulse, having seen it on my coffee break in the Small Press section at Powells. Being a twenty-something myself, I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to read about another woman’s life and experiences. They were totally different from mine in a literal way, but I could still relate to the sense of wistfulness I found in many of her stories. Like many if not most of us, Caldwell seems to learn the most about herself through her relationships with others, and that is what most of these essays are about. I have to admit that I respect how much she revealed. I think that it takes balls to be so open about every part of your life.
Caldwell’s essays are all regarding her early twenties spent in Brooklyn and Seattle (and here in Portland too, I think but I don’t recall reading any Portland-centric essays in her book). I felt drawn into her life right away. Caldwell strikes me as someone who is probably warm and friendly and eager to experience everything that life has to offer. She writes with frankness about her past sexual exploits and drug use, and is honest about her feelings; yet she also conveys a sense of vulnerability throughout. There were certainly lines in the book that really resonated with me as well. I will probably have to go back and highlight them at some point.
Critique-wise, I would first say that the constant listing of “we did this and we did that and then we did this….” Got kind of monotonous after a while. I mean, I think I get it, but the events and places and things listed don’t have meaning to anyone else but the author and the person she’s writing about, so the constant listing kind of makes one’s eyes glaze over after a few pages. And I also have to agree with the one reviewer who mentioned wanting to see more self-reflection. And it very well may just be her writing style; but I just got the sense that Caldwell didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about how these experiences and relationships were affecting her growth as a person. Maybe that wasn’t what she wanted to write about this time around, but I’m not sure if one can get away with writing about doing heroin and acid and having multiple casual sexual relationships and attending orgies, without a little “gee, why am I behaving this way” kind of introspection. And that’s not meant to be a moral judgment, it’s just that she was engaging in risky behavior and never seemed to question herself on it at all. And if she didn’t that’s cool, just write about it. Maybe in the next book. I will certainly buy it. (less)
I’m almost a little surprised at how much I enjoyed this simple and straightforward tale of innocent virginal girl and bad boy hook up. There’s nothin...moreI’m almost a little surprised at how much I enjoyed this simple and straightforward tale of innocent virginal girl and bad boy hook up. There’s nothing profound about it, and it has the usual Evangeline-campiness to it, but the characterization worked for me.
Krisa is a young woman on a journey to meet her betrothed on another planet. Unfortunately for the very young and beautiful Krisa, though he’s rich and powerful, he’s also quite old and not exactly the nicest guy. Certificate of virginity in hand, She settles in for her trip to his planet, but is curious about the other passenger; who- get this: Is a huge, dark haired guy with glowing silver eyes. Yep, Anderson actually did something shockingly different and made his eyes silver instead of amber. He’s chained up, and she finds out he is a dangerous escaped prisoner who’s killed lots of people. But rather than fear him, Krisa can’t seem to stay away from him. She’s drawn to him but doesn’t understand why.
Their ship crashes on Planet X and after an attempted rape by the captain, Teague saves her and kills the guy, and they are off to find a way off the dangerous jungle planet. Krisa realizes that most of the stories about Teague are exaggerated or flat out lies. He’s actually a good guy and takes care of her, which she appreciates. Along the way, they meet a primitive tribe of people, and of course they like to enact public sex rituals and dress in revealing clothes. In order to fit in, so must Krisa. And that’s when the story starts to get a bit hotter, as she pretty much feigns resistance to the sexual tension between her and Teague, who is desperate to have her. Luckily, there are no rape like scenes and anything that resembles dubious is pretty light on the “dubious” part. Krisa is reluctant to lose her V card but only because she knows that if she is returned to her future husband, he’ll either disown her or insist of restoring her hymen to its virginal state. Her desire for Teague is pretty apparent through most of the book however, and she clearly consents to the inevitable love-making that happens between them. Teague is characterized as a bad-boy with a good heart and strong desires for Krisa. Because Krisa is characterized as very girly and naïve, I felt they worked together well as a couple, with Teague being the more experienced one, showing her the way, so to speak. Sometimes this dynamic doesn’t work for me, but it did here. There was almost a romantic comedy like vibe to the story, with Krisa fussing over her “cincher” and being embarrassed over breaking all of the proprieties she learned at her girl’s finishing school. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly not brilliant by any means, but it was entertaining, and it was also nice not having to slog through pages and pages of angst and the heroine unable to decide if she could handle being with the hero and if she really cared for him or not. The only thing that got tedious was Krisa’s wondering if she could handle giving it up to him when it was obvious that she not only wanted him, but that it was going to happen one way or another. But it’s a short read, so I can’t complain too much.
In the end, (view spoiler)[they are saved, but Krisa’s memories are erased and she is sent to her fiancé. Fortunately, she is rescued by Teague who couldn’t let her go. He takes her to his ship where he proceeds to bring back her memories with a little sexy time. She remembers everything and then they arrive at a new planet where they are safe from extradition. (hide spoiler)] It’s a very short and abrupt ending, and probably should have been fleshed out a bit more. It seemed like maybe Anderson left the story for a while, wondering exactly how to finish it, and then came back to tack on the ending. The other complaint that I have is that the dialogue got annoyingly repetitive after a while. Teague finished just about every sentence speaking to Krisa with either “little girl” or “sweetheart”, and I thought this got a little excessive. Other than that though, it was a decent read. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
My kindle kept telling me that it wanted me to read this story. For some reason, even though it was Evangeline Ande...more**spoiler alert** Charlie’s Bargain
My kindle kept telling me that it wanted me to read this story. For some reason, even though it was Evangeline Anderson and I tend to enjoy her work even when it kind of sucks, I just kept pushing it aside. This weekend I wanted a quick and dirty read, and decided to give this story a shot. I was pleased when I learned from the description that it was sci-fi. What I didn’t expect were rape apologetics disguised as a ridiculous and disturbing love story.
Here’s the breakdown:
Charlie and her younger brother have lost their family fortune and are now living on a dangerous rough n’ tough planet of exiles called Hole. Charlie works to support them as a bar maid. While working, she encounters a huge golden-eyed Xorn, a race of dangerous humanoid aliens "savage lusts" (LOL). Apparently, Xorn experience a 6 week period called “yearning” in which they feel overpowering sexual need. The only thing that can quench their desire are the sex fluids of another. Already I was raising an eyebrow. Kind of gross. Xorn also have the ability to mentally “touch” another, including being able to turn on a woman and make her “honey” gush like a fire hydrant. Ick.
This particular Xorn, named Lynx, is a powerful man who owns multiple bars. He knows more about Charlie than she thinks; for not only does he secretly stalk her at night (not like that's creepy or anything) he also knows that she’s the one for him even though they haven’t had a conversation ever, because he’s magical and awesome like that. His desire for her is overwhelming and he can’t resist molesting her with his mental touching abilities. He causes her to gush like a fountain, which scares the crap out of her, and makes her even more resistant to him. Knowing he has no chance of wooing her the old fashion way, our incredibly smart Xorn hero contritely asks for her forgiveness and explains his nasty personal problem, asking for her help. JUST KIDDING GUYS. That would be just a little too close to smart and normal, and we need to keep this book down and dirty. Instead Xorn tricks Charlie’s brother into a $40,000 debt, knowing that she will sacrifice herself to keep him from having to work in the planet’s deadly mines, to pay it off. This is when Lynx lays the truth on Charlie…well, minus the tricking her brother part. He tells her that he needs her honey to satisfy his needs for 6 weeks. At first she refuses but Lynx’s overwhelming need to claim and own Charlie completely, pushes him to manipulate her for the safety of her brother. She gives in but chickens out at the last second and refuses to comply. Once again Lynx shows her how much he loves her by fulfilling every woman’s fantasy: Being raped on a gynecologists table. Lynx causes her body to feel pleasure against her will as he takes her honey by force, while she cries and begs him to stop. It’s super sexy and romantic. Oh and there’s also a nasty little gang rape scene in here somewhere, in which another bar maid gets whored out against her will and passed around the bar. This scene didn’t sit well and was very disturbing, especially when I don’t expect to see that kind of thing from this particular author. It came off as gratuitous and it certainly was not sexy.
Following their first encounter, Charlie finds herself unable to stop thinking of the forbidden pleasure she felt while being raped. She begins to have Stockholm syndrome-ish feelings for him, even though she tries to tell herself that he’s not a good guy, that he took her by force. Still, when she returns to him for their next meeting, she has dinner with them and they connect. She willingly gives him what he needs afterward, but a sudden wave of desire overcomes her and she feels the need for them to go all the way and have sex. He tells her she is now feeling the “yearning” but much sooner than he had anticipated. It’s too dangerous for them to have sex or for her to go down on him (for some stupid and contrived reason that is never fully explained). Instead he says, he will bone her in the booty. Because of his huge size and girth, Charlie freaks out, unable to fathom taking him in that forbidden spot. Instead she semi-tricks him into taking her the old fashioned way, which he does but in the process he forms a life bond with her and must take her in the booty anyway. She refuses, but you know the drill. He forces her, inspite of her promising to never forgive him. Don’t worry, he was crying the whole time. At least he was sorry.
Inspite of being anally raped, and them having only one real date, Charlie realizes that she has real feelings for Lynx. And she theorizes, even though he took her by force; it’s not like he didn’t need it bad. He was feeling the yearning after all. But her ex fiancé suddenly reappears in her life and says he wants her back and he’ll pay off her debt. She goes along with it, leaving Lynx to marry the other guy. Lynx is desperately in love with Charlie and gives her a final speech about how he’d do anything for her (though apparently that doesn’t include not raping her. He has to do that because of his overpowering need for her. Otherwise this wouldn’t be the sexy, erotic, story that it is.) but she won’t have it. She leaves to marry her boring fiancé, while Lynx is left behind to die alone. Literally; for once bonded, Xorn can’t be apart from their mates for too long or they shrivel up and die. There is no explanation for why this would be. I guess separate vacations would be impossible. Anyway, long story short, Charlie realizes she really loves Lynx, and also that she does have a fortune left to her after all, through an estranged aunt. How fortunate! She returns to Lynx finding him cold and lifeless on his deathbed. She revives him through the magical powers of her vag honey, and they re-enact the bonding sex ceremony to seal their bond forever. HEA, the end.
I get the feeling that Anderson was trying to produce a story similar to that of Claimed, but it didn’t come across well at all. The heroine was written too prudish while the hero came across as a rapist. Well…he was a rapist. I’m sorry but there’s no getting around that. What galls the crap out of me though, is that there are literally lines in the story where the heroine excuses the rape, because “he NEEDED it.” WTF. NO. Anderson should know better than this. That is never ever ever acceptable. No means no means no. Maybe Anderson thought that she had written a scene that was more dubious consent than rape but she failed. There was too much crying and reluctance on the heroine’s part to make the scenes enjoyable. These scenes made Lynx’s character irredeemable in my opinion, and the supposed romance between them consequently, seemed more plausibly like Stockholm syndrome than love. Whats more, I’m finding that Anderson seems incapable of thinking outside of the story tropes and character archetypes that -she is stuck-in. Except for the rapist part, Lynx was far too similar to Teague from Planet X and Baird in Claimed for my liking. A big, dark haired, golden-eyed animalistic man with an overpowering need to claim his one and only soulmate; and a reluctant, boring heroine? That describes most of her work. I’m looking forward to the day when she evolves a little bit and does something different and maybe a little more challenging. Maybe like actually build a loving relationship between two characters rather than forcing them together with rape or some deadly or stressful situation which brings about the “I love him” revelation from the heroine. I know it’s hard work Evangeline, but most relationships are ;)