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Adding this to the books-that-made -me-lose-friends shelf! I'm kind of shocked! I thought I was holding back in this review...but I guess not. ;-)
Speaking as a third-wave feminist, I will say that it's tough trying to argue your views to people who consider this a "post-sexism" era, and attempt to use that as a rationalization and a defense for some very sexist, misogynistic thinking: basically, "shut up, you've won the right to free speech and equality - now flash your tits or get back to the kitchen." Even if not phrased in such explicit terms, the mindset among these "post-sexism" individuals seems to suggest that feminists have "won" and are now demanding more than their "fair share." I said this in my review of MEN EXPLAIN THINGS TO ME, and I'll say it again now: that third-wave feminism isn't just some over-entitled mindset where women are demanding special treatment - unless you believe that equal treatment is "special" treatment. There is still a wage gap, and that wage gap is particularly bad when it comes to women of color. Women in many states still do not have access to safe abortion, either because of state-imposed limits or because it isn't covered by an insurer. Women are still hyper-sexualized in a way that men are not, in a number of venues ranging from the religious to commercial, and still largely blamed for their own assaults. Yes, things are better than they were 100, 50, 20, or even 10 years ago - but it isn't perfect, and we aren't even close to being done.
But back to the book: I love nonfiction and I love feminism, so picking up PINK THINK was a no-brainer. I'll read any feminist title I can get my hands on, because I love being informed and getting access to the popular and unpopular ideas of the movement. PINK THINK focuses on the indoctrination of girls into womanhood via pop culture and cultural norms, focusing particularly on the 1940s-1970s, when mass-production created a number of affordable products for the growing middle class but before Title IX and the Civil Rights era came into play. The result? Some very questionable products and advice that make you wonder what the hell the last generation was thinking. Obviously, as a feminist and pop culture aficionado, I thought this was bomb.
Peril cites some questionable definitions taken from "experts" that seem horribly dated (81):
Hermaphrodite: "A female bisexual"
Masturbation: "A tyrant that robs its [female] victims of the incentives and radiant energy for worthy accomplishments.... Oftentimes the remedy for this situation consists of a minor surgical operation spoken of as circumcision."
Orgasm (female): "No more essential for conception than a mink coat or a lipstick."
These definitions are so horrible that they're almost comical - until you remember that people actually thought that way, and that some to this day still do. Peril covers a number of other topics, such as toys shaped like house cleaning products so that little girls can be just like mommy; dating advice books for boys that read like some of the pick-up books of today, suggesting to boys that no does not always mean "no" and that they should press ahead as far as they can, sexually, because that means they'll only get further next time; douching with Lysol for feminine freshness (ugh!); and the idea that female sexuality is something undesirable that not only tarnishes a woman's reputation but that should also be suppressed if not being used for procreation and the begetting of offspring as seen in this excerpt from a book by Ann Landers from the 1960s:
Housework, particularly floor-scrubbing is not only good for the female figure, but it's good for the soul. And it will help take the edge off your sex appetite. Cooking, baking and sewing will prepare you for homemaking. Energy siphoned into these constructive channels will leave less energy for erotic fantasies (89).
My goodness, it's like something out of Handmaid's Tale or Stepford Wives, and I don't think it's a coincidence that both those books were written by people who were alive at a time when these products and ideas were in full rotation. And while things are changing, the damage is still there. Go to any toy department often enough and I guarantee you that you'll hear parents telling their boys, "You can't have that, that's for girls!" or "That's a boy toy, girls don't play with that!" to their girls. I've heard moms and dads scolding their children about wanting to play with everything from Weebles, to Lipsmackers, to Hot Wheels. You still see cooking and cleaning toys marketed to girls, and tool kits and action hero toys being marketed to boys - and rumor has it that at one point, a pole-dancing doll circulated the toy dept. of an unmentioned store, until it was (I imagine) very quickly recalled for an innumerable amount of reasons.
There are a lot of illustrations in this book that are great - I especially loved the pictures of vintage products, particularly the full color ones in the middle (there were not nearly enough). Kind of shocked that bodice rippers, the treatment for "hysteric" women (hint: masturbation machines), and certain fashion ads weren't even mentioned, though! But then, there's so many salient examples of sexist advice and products from these time periods that I'm sure the author was forced to pick and choose, at the risk of compiling a 1,000+ page encyclopedia of "Sexism through the ages." I wish there were more pictures of out-of-touchproducts, although if you read this book and would like to learn more on the topics presented in here, I can recommend three videos to you right off the bat: Vox's How did pink become a girly color?, Buzzfeed's Women Review Sexist Vintage Ads, and anything by Sarah Haskins via her "Target Women" series, for more modern examples.
Oy, this is disappointing. I really enjoyed Chambers's other two books, KILLING MOON and SKIN AND BLOND. Both were in genres that I'm generally highly skeptical about and the author managed to win me over with dark, tight plotting and stellar characterization. Even though I'm generally leery about assassin romances, I thought for sure that SLOW BURN couldn't be anything but good in V.J. Chambers's hands.
I was wrong.
For the first 1/3 of the book, I thought this would be good. It has the hallmarks of her other book - damaged men and broken women who don't really "fix" each other (in fact, you could argue that they even make one another worse), but their love persists despite or because of everything, resulting in train wreck drama that makes it hard to look away. SLOW BURN actually reads like a prototype of SKIN AND BLOND, which also featured a promiscuous heroine and an asexual (or, I guess, demisexual in this case) hero with serious emotional problems. Unfortunately for this book, SKIN AND BLOND is the better book and I read that one first.
Here's what I think the author was going for: something like Anne Stuart's Ice series, only with a sci-fi bent. Because the heroine, Leigh, nearly died in a car accident (too much cocaine and alcohol). Her father, who works for a super secret organization, stole a serum that not only heals but also results in increased strength and regenerative abilities. He gave it to his daughter, and she lived; but now that super secret organization is after Leigh. She hides in plain sight, going to college, and taking her father's calls once a month or so on a disposable cell phone. Only, one day he doesn't call, and a man named Griffin shows up in her life claiming that he's been inoculated with the same serum and that her father has hired him to protect her.
It's an interesting premise, even if it is a bit cheesy in an 80s action hero way. My problems stem primarily from the execution. Leigh is an idiot. I like how drug addiction and sex addiction are portrayed in this book but oh my god, it was so much better in SKIN AND BLOND, where you could tell the heroine was competent even though her life was slowly being torn apart. Here, Leigh lacks all sense. This is a girl who is told "lie low" and immediately throws a party and starts snorting cocaine. Not just once, but multiple times. I get that addiction isn't convenient and I understand why the author did it, but it was really frustrating to read - I don't like TSTL heroines, and it would have been easier to stomach if there was something to her character other than the fact that she was beautiful and unashamed of her sexuality and used that to "cure" the demisexual hero.
That's another thing I took issue with in this book: sexuality. This was present in SKIN AND BLOND, but to a much lesser extent. The "asexual" hero keeps referring to himself as broken. In this case, it's a result of sexual abuse, but I don't really like asexuality being compared to a disability: in psychologically healthy human beings, it isn't. Since Griffin was a victim of abuse, it's natural that he wouldn't want sexual contact but that's not really asexuality, that's PTSD. The hero in SKIN AND BLOND referred to himself as broken too, but in that book, it was clear that he was a true asexual (but not aromantic) and just felt frustrated at not being able to live up to the sexually active, heteronormative standards set by society, and that his "brokenness" was an expression of that sentiment. Here, it felt muddled and weird. There's also a strange line from the heroine about the movie, Boys Don't Cry, in which she refers to the trans hero of that movie as a "girl dressing up as a boy." Which, again, I'd like to give the author the benefit of the doubt here, and assume that this is her way of showing the heroine's ignorance (she was, very), but it came off as sounding very misinformed.
Lastly, the pacing. The story just felt way too jumbled and uneven. The sci-fi element ended up making this book really cheesy, and not in a good way. There was too much emphasis placed on the sex, and it detracted from the action sequences. The "grand reveals" felt cliche. It really upset me because SKIN AND BLOND, in comparison, was tight and perfectly paced, with great reveals, excellent sexual tension, and a really smart and flawed heroine, who I didn't always like but always secretly rooted for.
One of the things I like best about Chambers is that she allows her heroines to make mistakes. There are too many books out there that demand perfection from their heroines: they must be beautiful, pure, and good, held to completely different standards than the hero, from whom we're far more quick to forgive much greater flaws. Chambers, like Gillian Flynn, has a penchant for flawed heroines who often do the unforgivable while somehow managing to appear human and even relatable. She just needs to tighten her pacing and omit some of the weird, unnecessary asides from her books in the cutting room.
I have a love-hate relationship with reading challenges. On the one hand, sometimes I find new gems I never would have thought to pick up otherwise (for example, this year's challenge led me to discover a new favorite author, V.J. Chambers). On the other hand, sometimes they have me scrambling around in the Daily Deals/Free sections of the Kindle Store in a panic, desperately seeking free or cheap books to complete a category I do not like.
MUST LOVE GHOSTS sort of falls into the later category. I went through this very brief period in college where I was reading romances that fell more on the supernatural side of the paranormal romance fence, i.e. psychics, realistic ghost novels, etc. I liked them because they felt more plausible than werewolves, because it's easier to believe in inexplicable occurrences in an old house than it is a hulking GQ model who turns into a furry once a month. (And no, I have nothing against furries or GQ models.) Then I got sick of them and haven't picked up another since...UNTIL NOW.
I picked up MUST LOVE GHOSTS two Halloweens ago because I thought the jack-o-lantern satchel on the cover was cute. The premise was also intriguing. Abby is a girl who lives in a small Virginia town called Banshee Creek that is rife with history. It's a destination location for those interested in the occult and paranormal and many who live there have built their lives around capitalizing on that. Not Abby, though, who's a singer in a folk/country band (although not by choice). This whole time she's been trying to get over the grief of losing her fiance in Afghanistan.
Mike was a friend to both Abby and Cole, the fiance. He's also been in love with her since the day he met her and has tried to hide his feelings out of respect to both his friends. Now that Cole has been dead for two years, though, it's getting harder - especially because he has to deliver an important momento to Abby that he's been holding onto her for years, from Cole. What makes hiding his feelings even more difficult is the possibility that they might not be unrequited.
This was a pretty good story, honestly. It doesn't have a very significant paranormal element. Most of the story focuses on Mike and Abby and their growing attraction to one another, set against the backdrop of this small town vibe. The writing was solid and I don't think I spotted any typos. Both characters felt real in a way that romance characters sometimes don't, by which I mean they are annoying human beings. Mike, especially, got on my nerves with his Debbie Downer routine, and the fact that he was constantly playing Officer Safety, and telling everyone, "that's not safe!" I'm the same way, but he even got on my nerves - and that says something.
MUST LOVE GHOSTS is a fun, light read though. It kind of reminds me of those "cozy mysteries." There isn't a lot of tension and it's mostly written for light entertainment and feeling good. I think this would be a good rainy-day read in a warm, cafe setting. Possibly with a cinnamon flavored pastry.
I'm too tired to do a properly angry review, so while reading this, just picture my face looking like this: 😡
CAPTURED was bad. The characters were incredibly bland. Braith, or whatever his dumb name was, is a generic beautiful vampire who is feared by all without actually giving any reason that he should be regarded in this way. Seriously. What is "evil"? in this world, if Braith is considered on the cutting edge of it? Girl Scouts?
Arianna is a human who is part of the resistance against the vampires. If you think that this means cool fight scenes THINK AGAIN. We meet Arianna post-capture, when she's about to be sold as a blood slave or drained of all her blood. If you think this means emotional tension, THINK AGAIN. She metaphorically bites her nails as she finds out she's being sold to a vampire with cruel eyes and a crooked nose, only to be rescued by Prince Braith.
The ensuing pages are a blathering mess of purple prose, odd word choices, bad writing, and terrible characterization. Arianna is constantly described as special, sometimes in that exact word. She has insta-hate immediately with her female human "rivals," even before she falls into insta-love with Braith. Her eyes are described as "crystalline sapphire" more than once. Her hair has "red streaks" and it's a color the hero has never seen before. She always cries "a single tear" when she's upset. The prince has never had a blood slave before: she is his first. The prince usually goes for curvy women, but now he's discovering for the first time that skinny women are beautiful and so are their angles. I'm not kidding, and yes, there's a scene where she stands in the sunlight and it flatters her sharp angles. Oh, and the kicker is that it turns out Braith was blind - but through mthe magic of Mary Sue Technology (pat. pending), she has restored his sight. Because... magical hoohahs.
I love vampire stories and I love captive romance stories, so this should have been the best of both worlds. Instead, it's the worst, featuring all of the cringiest tropes and starring the Mariest Sue in the Mary Sue universe.I don't think I'll be reading any more books in this series, and probably not anything else by this author, either.
I grabbed a ton of this author's books while they were free, because they were FREE - and also because they looked spooky, and I needed books to fulfill the Halloween romance challenge I am definitely still committed to, even though it is now November. The first book of hers I read was THE KILLING MOON, named after an Echo and the Bunnymen song (YAS), and I enjoyed it way, way more than I thought I would. In fact, I liked it a lot.
When I picked up SKIN AND BLOND, I had raised expectations - but somehow, this book (and the author) exceeded them.
SKIN AND BLOND is about a private investigator named Ivy, who got kicked off the force due to bad behavior (e.g. sleeping around). She has a lengthy history of emotional trauma, as well as a sex addiction, so solving other people's problems seems like it ought to be the last job she should have. And yet, she's good at what she does. Good enough that people go to her when they think that the cops won't or can't help.
One such case gets passed along to her from her last friend in the world, her ex-boyfriend, and previously fellow cop, Miles. A distraught brother is determined to find his missing sister, who vanished without a trace, taking her bed sheets with her apparently but leaving her phone behind. But the simple missing persons case quickly blows up as drugs and mafia ties enter the mix, and pretty soon a flighty girl's post-college misadventures start to look a whole lot more sinister.
Plenty of authors try to write dark content, but Chambers actually succeeds. SKIN AND BLOND is creepy, in more ways than one, but it also has a great dark emotional sphere. Ivy is torn up about losing her job, her inability to form personal relationships where sex is an act of intimacy instead of oblivion, and her own unpleasant past that involves the death of her parents. Her relationship with Miles tore me up inside because Miles is asexual, but desperately wants a family and love, but even though he's not aromantic, he still is averse to sex and touching. His love for Ivy and her love for him took on the tragedy of a Greek play, and watching them interact made my heart hurt.
And no, that love doesn't magically "cure" their problems or their lack of sexual desire/intimacy.
I really enjoyed this book a lot. It's everything I want in a thriller, and the closest thing I've found to filling that gap left by a dearth of new Gillian Flynn books. If you enjoy psychological thrillers with strong female characters riddled with flaws and personal baggage, you will love this book.
I needed a romance novel about a demon for a reading challenge, and this book was free (this is becoming a familiar refrain from me). The summary sounded intriguing but it had one of those horrible cartoony covers (not pictured here), and I always side-eye my acquisitions from the freebie section because while I have unearthed some gems there, there's also a lot of garbage.
At first, I really enjoyed the childish banter and gossipy writing style. It kind of reminded me of Katie MacAlister before her writing got kind of bad, or the middle Stephanie Plum novels when they were formulaic and cheesy but still good.
Ysabel is a witch who was burned at the stake 500 years ago when she got too inconvenient for her lover to have around. She cursed him, his mother, and three other villagers who were responsible for her death with her last dying breath - only she didn't read the fine print of that spell. Now, she's doomed to serve as Lucifer's assistant in the afterlife and he wants her on a special assignment: those 5 humans who killed her have escaped, and she's going to relive the final moments of her death in increasing increments of time every day that they remain at large.
Remy is the half-demon assigned by Lucifer to help him, and he's basically a walking sexual harassment poster. Remember the heroes of the early 2000s, the hyper-sexualized ones who acted like frat boy rejects and thought "no" was just a "yes" in the rough? Remy is cast in that mold, so much so that I actually checked the book's publication date to see if it was a 2002 release, or something like that. But no, this came out in 2012.
Despite his grating personality, I really liked the premise and the chemistry between them was somewhat well done, so I thought I might be able to overlook that element of sleaze. I sat on a three-star rating for this book until the 50% mark, when I realized that the sexist comments were going to keep coming and Remy was going to let his alpha flag fly, saying things like, how he wished he could have her walk around panty-less but oh, then the demons who lived in the sewers might see her crotch when she was walking around and that crotch belonged to him... but oh, then he could just kill all the demons who lived in the sewers in a massive act of genocide so she could be panty-less and remain his alone! Ha ha! A winner is he! And Ysabel, she eats this up, hook, line, and sinker, after some token resistance, because Remy likes women who say "no" because he sees it as a "challenge."
Also, at the end we find out that Lucifer secretly orchestrated this to play matchmaker because he wants to breed more inhabitants of hell. Double ew @ infernal breeding programs.
The blurb on Goodreads is super confusing, because I don't remember reading any of the parts about Sera controlling his own brain or the details behind the government mandated experiments. All of that was sort of hinted at, but as far as I can remember it was never stated in such black and white terms.
Sera is a psychic who has, apparently, died. While he was alive, he was friends with a guy named "Wish" who promised him that he was going to create this great mental afterlife that he could frolic in when he died: think heaven, only for psychics, except that it's called, appropriately enough, "Wish City."
When Sera gets to Wish City, he finds out - surprise, surprise - that it's not exactly what Wish promised him. Paradise is downright ugly, with drugs and cheap sex filling the streets. Everything is dark and grungy and completely unlike what Sera expected.
Fiend, like the city, was also dreamed up by Wish, and like the City, he's a creation that managed to get loose from his creator and take on a shape all of his own. Fiend likes to eat brains, and next up on his cerebral prix fixe menu is Sera. Only... he's attracted to Sera physically as well, and decides to toy with his food before eating him - but that doesn't quite go as planned, either.
HOW TO LOVE A MONSTER falls into that hateful three-star review territory for me. There was nothing particularly wrong with the story but it didn't wow me enough where all I wanted to do was gush. It entertained me, and then we parted ways. I did think the world building was very odd, and while original, there were many aspects that confused me and could have used more fleshing out.
While reading, I kept having this sense of deja vu, wondering what this book reminded me of. Then it hit me: those weird dark fantasy movies from the late 90s like eXistenZ (1999) and Dark City (1998). Both of those movies had an incredibly original world with a compelling storyline and scenery, but - for me - also felt kind of confusing and sometimes even nonsensical (and not in a good way).
I bought this while it was 99-cents and for that, I think it was a good deal. If you're a fan of bizarre stories and/or are looking for m-m erotica that doesn't fit the usual mold, you'll like this, I think.
P.S. I realize that Fiend isn't a zombie, but since I don't read zombie novels for the most part, I decided to go ahead and use him for a zombie category on my Halloween romance challenge. He eats brains - I figured that was close enough.
I fell in love with Anne for the first time while watching the BBC mini-series version of the books. Her bosom friendship with Diana, her winning over of the aloof but good-hearted Marilla, her instant simpatico with Matthew, her enemies-to-friends relationship with Gilbert Blythe, and her constant good cheer in the face of never-ending bad luck totally made me fall hard for my fellow socially awkward, compulsive chatter-box.
As with any adaptation, fans are bound to either love or hate ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: A GRAPHIC NOVEL. It makes the rookie mistake of trying to incorporate multiple volumes of the story into one book, so it reads as being very front-heavy in terms of plot, with the end of the book feeling very rushed.
That said, reading this graphic-novel reminded me of my love for the story and made me want to re-read the books. Most of the highlights are here - the hair-dye incident, for example, and the case of the missing brooch - and they are classic. Anne actually reminds me a lot of Pollyanna (the good version, not the cruddy Disney version); I just adore tales of sweet and loving children. They give me faith in youth, while also making me want to be a better person, myself.
If you like Anne, and also like graphic novels, this book is a must. <3
Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!
I've read several mafia romances and so far all of them, without exception, have been incredibly stupid.
My expectations when I picked up PASSION & VENOM were low, but I needed a book with a skull on the cover for a Halloween challenge and it was free (and still is free as of 11/4) in the Kindle store, so I figured, "Why not? YOLO."
To my surprise, PASSION & VENOM was actually a decent read. It has the dubious honor of being the only mafia romance I didn't want to throw out the window.
Unfortunately, it is still kind of stupid.
There are two kinds of stupid. There is the kind of stupid that makes you want to throw books out the window, and the kind of stupid that feels incredibly fun and goes best with popcorn. This book is the latter. In fact, it shares many attributes (good and bad) with the books of one of my favorite authors of all time: Bertrice Small. I would call her books stupid, but I love them all the same. The over-the-top situations, bad writing, inexplicable violence, and d-bag heroes are part of the fun.
PASSION & VENOM is about a girl named Gia. On the day of her wedding, her husband is killed, Kill Bill style, and she is kidnapped and kept in squalor under the constant threat of torture. Her only companion is a man without arms - her captors cut his arms off, and this man warns her that they might very well do the same to her - or worse.
Her captor is a man named Draco Molina. One thing about him that I appreciated is that the author shows he is a bad guy without beating us over the head with it. He is not one of those ill-tempered buffoons who shows off his "might" by waving around a gun and yelling and basically acting impulsive. Everything Draco does is cold and calculating. He is scary, and some of the (graphic) scenes in here are downright disturbing, straight out of a 1970s bodice ripper.
There were two things about this book that I really couldn't forgive and ultimately these two things were what dragged down the rating of this book from a 4 star to a 3 star rating.
1. Gia doesn't really have much in the way of personality and falls for her captor way too quickly, given what he'd done. In the beginning, I felt for her. She was kidnapped and wanted to escape. I liked her resourcefulness and hoped to learn more about her as a character. I don't feel like she really developed from that point. She was a highly superficial character who only really had two facets: attempt to escape and fail spectacularly and fight attraction to Draco. He was a bad man. I would have liked to have seen more conflict about that attraction.
2. The writing is, at times, really terrible. The heroine refers to her vagina, repeatedly, as "her sacred place." People "smash their lips together" instead of pressing them together in thought. Some of the sex scenes are cringe-worthy and involve the phrases "I am making his face my b*tch" and "my nectar coating all of him." Blech, no, thank you. Using nectar for sexy times is almost as bad as "cream."
Lastly, I wasn't thrilled that Draco's relationship to her and her family is teased at throughout the entire book, only to end on a cliffhanger. I also thought that the relationship between Gia and Francesca was interesting but it yo-yo'd a lot for the convenience of the plot, and it might have been nice to see more development there (as opposed to the sudden events of the ending).
Overall, thought, PASSION & VENOM was a pleasant surprise. I found it to be a fun, quick read that hit all the same buttons as a 1970s bodice ripper pulling all the triggering stops. I don't recommend this for the faint of heart (so anyone who doesn't appreciate reading about violence, rape, gore), or for people who balk at the idea of trashy books for entertainment value (ya squares!), but if you like dark romances where the villain gets the girl or are fed up with bad mafia romances, like I am, then you should probably give PASSION & VENOM a try.
There's a ton of comic book nonfiction coming out this year, and with all the superhero movies pouring through theaters, it's no small wonder. I actually just read and reviewed an ARC of Stan Lee's biography, written by Bob Batchelor, and even though it comes across as pretty fan-boyish, it definitely delves into the infamous Marvel vs. DC wars and touches upon some of the pettiness and poor decision-making that resulted from this. Reed Tucker, however, goes into way more detail, like the Crisis on Infinite Earthsvs. Secret Wars launches, and the "Fuck Marvel" incident. Tucker definitely tries his best to remain impartial, and really shows the relationship between Marvel and DC to be something between an older brother/younger brother-type rivalry to something like two arch-nemeses in a comic book for whom the constant battle serves as the answer to that existential question: "what is my purpose?"
DC is unquestionably the bigger brother in this story, since Marvel was created much later. Tucker chronicles their inception and growth and how many artists and creators ping-ponged between Marvel and DC, depending on who was giving out more pay and/or creative control at the time. Tucker takes us through the silver age, the bronze age, the crash in the 80s, and the box office boom of the 21st century with superheroes emerging in a new silver age: that of the silver screen, with blockbuster hits like The Avengers and Wonder Woman (which isn't mentioned in this book, which is ironic because Tucker was talking about how Dark Knight was the last really good DC movie, with both Suicide Squad and Batman vs. Superman being major disappointments - Wonder Woman was the next big hit that DC desperately needed).
I really enjoyed this book. I mean, obviously. I don't read a lot of comic books, but I enjoy most of the ones that I can get my hands on and I like watching super hero movies. Like many comic book commenters, Tucker takes cheap shots at Halle Barry's Catwoman and, of course, Batman & Robin - which, okay, I get it, but I actually like that movie and I've probably re-watched it more than Dark Knight OR Dark Knight Rises, which I find too dark and too disturbing. Batman & Robin is pure fun and mirrors the cheesiness of the animated series, which I adored growing up in the 90s (and still watch, to this day, courtesy of a DVD collection). Personally, I think DC's biggest mistake was Superman 64. Apart from disagreements over which was the better - or worse - adaption of the franchise, I loved learning so many new facts and trivia - like how the Men in Black movie was based off an indie black and white comic, or how direct distribution saved comics at a time when sales weren't doing so well, or that Stan Lee - "face" man of Marvel - at one point worked for DC(!).
If you enjoy comic book history and trivia, this will be a good addition to your knowledge banks. It's well-written, gossipy fun, and manages to make you appreciate the things that make comic books so wonderful while also revealing some of the flaws of creators and creations alike... and somehow, that touch of reality actually makes the comic books and writers even more whimsical. I guess it's kind of like Stan Lee's editorials, back when he wrote for Marvel: Tucker makes you feel like you're part of the comic book "Mean Girls" gang, and that taste of the geeky elite is totally worth it.
P.S. Obviously, that means Stan Lee is Regina George.
Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!
Do you enjoy books about cheating? Do you like heroines who are so stupid that they literally spend a week starving in their boarding schoolbecause they are too stupid to order food from a cafeteria? Do you like heroes whose big romantic confessions literally involve the phrase "I cheated on her every day"?
Then this is the book for YOU!
It's been a while since I read a YA book that I hated so much. I think the last one was Molly McAdams's SHARING YOU, a book about some selfish trash people who decide to carry on an extramarital affair because the wife is such a bitchly, she totes has it coming, you guys. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is the PG-13 version of SHARING YOU. Teenage trash people, Etienne and Anna, end up connecting immediately and succumbing to their attraction to one another... despite the fact that he has a girlfriend.
I am so tired of these books that make apologies for cheaters. In a relationship and in love with someone else? End the first relationship first and then move on. Don't string both women along and run to the woman you don't like when you want sex so you can keep the woman you do like pure, and then later confess that you "cheated on your girlfriend every day" in your mind with this new trash person, and try to make it sound romantic. And especially don't try to make it all about you by saying that you're just afraid to be alone. Because you know what that makes you? A trash person.
And don't even get me started about ANNA. Freaking ANNA. She is the biggest trash person on Mount Trashmore. The face that launched a thousand trash ships. Anna - who doesn't know she's beautiful. Anna - who gets sent to a cool school in Paris and immediately starts whining about how much she hates it there. Anna - who is so stupid that she doesn't even attempt to order from her boarding school's cafeteria in English and literally starves unless someone isn't there to order for her. Anna - who doesn't know a word of French,is resentful about learning French, and basically pictures the entire country as a beret-wearing, Amelie-watching population. Anna - who puts a Canadian flag patch on her backpack because she doesn't want people thinking she's American. Anna - who is shocked that French people watch English-speaking movies, too! Anna - who orders a coffee from McDonald's and is shocked that it doesn't taste like French espresso! Anna - who the moment she gets home to precious Atlanta, immediately starts whining about how much she misses France.
Anna - the stupidest person on earth.
As if the cheating weren't enough, this is a codependent relationship written in the style of TWILIGHT. Anna is a pathetic, helpless heroine who needs a boy to save her from scary France. He uses her, too, to cope with his emotional issues - because he doesn't want to be alone - while resolving all the (ahem) physical ones with his girlfriend of one and a half years. The difference is, Edward didn't cheat. Etienne dreams of being Edward. Edward was not a perfect hero by any means, but with him I could see the appeal. With Etienne, I am side-eying all the people saying how cute and fluffy this book is and thinking, "What? This dysfunction?" And say what you like about Bella, especially in New Moon, but at least she didn't cheat with another girl's boyfriend and then start sobbing about how "she didn't mean it! she didn't know what happened!" when caught with her tongue in his mouth. Bella did not cheat, and Bella was not an idiot. She would certainly know who Emile Zola was, and wouldn't call him "Emily Zola"; the greatest female author you've never heard of. Given the choice between this and TWILIGHT, TWILIGHT would win, every time.
I picked this up because of the title, because everyone is always talking about internet celebrity, and I was curious: what is the secret behind this fame? Is there a shortcut? Obviously, I was skeptical because there is no way in hell anyone would divulge all the secrets behind their fame and risk not only getting dethroned but also losing ad revenue to competitors of their own making. Books of this type are usually more similar to Pinterest inspiration boards, paired with vague, common-sense sounding advice that tends to conflict with itself if you look at it too closely ("be unique" - but also "be homogeneous/consistent!"). Um, yeah. To quote Ace Ventura, "Spank you, Helpy Helperton."
I have an instagram. I basically use it the way this book tells you not to use it. I'm over ambitious and over enthusiastic in what I like to share. Sometimes, I'll take book posts. I have a few #ootd posts, when I'm feeling fly (somewhere, a hipster just cringed). I document all my trips abroad, but also take pics of all the cool stuff I see locally in San Francisco, whether it's a tasty salad (yes, I do take pics of my food) or political graffiti or a protest that I'm participating in. I tried to make it author-geared once, and it just didn't work out. I felt annoying, repetitive, and fake. Maybe part of that celebrity is owning your self-hype and making it work, but I just felt like an obnoxious door-to-door salesman pushing my book on people.
To be fair, some of the pictures in here were really cool and even artistic. Some of them were also self-promotional and seemed to embrace the culture of conspicuous consumption that's so prevalent on insta ("look at this expensive makeup I'm using - buy it all, and don't forget to use my product code so I get a cut!") ("I bought the hardcover limited edition of this popular book, and that makes me a more worthy and hardcore fan than you cheapskates who only read it on Kindle"). I guess what I take issue with is when does it stop being an expression of one's individual sense of artistry and authentic expression, and when does it start becoming a corporate entity masquerading as the former?