Vaginal Fantasy Book Club discussion

The Native Star (Veneficas Americana, #1)
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Sep 2013: Warrior > Official Discussion Thread for Native Star *SPOILERS*

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message 1: by Felicia, Grand Duchess (new) - rated it 4 stars

Felicia (feliciaday) | 740 comments Mod
This is our ALT book in Sept! Readdddd (YES YOU ARE GOING TO LIKE IT BETTER)

Claire (cacromwell) | 221 comments I read this a while ago and really liked it - not as steamy in the romance department, but really great world building and interesting and layered characters. Maybe I'll go ahead and finally read the sequel!

Paige | 1 comments I read this book a couple months ago. I remember having the same problem I did in Gabriel's Ghost that there kept being all these plot twists about the main male character. Every once in a while it was like ooh here's this terrible secret about Dreadnaught let's see how Emily handles it. That got pretty irritating after a while. Other then that I remember really enjoying all the different kind of witchcraft and the world building the most.

Rebecca | 18 comments Just to make sure, is it this one...

Stacia (the 2010 club) (stacia_r) | 48 comments This is a book I've been wanting to read for a while now, so I'm going to have to try to find time for it.

message 6: by Serendi (new)

Serendi Rebecca, there's a link at the top of the topic. And yes, that's the book it points to.

Sean Lookielook Sandulak (seansandulak) | 918 comments Mod
The links don't show up in threads on the app (just one more thing that you can't do on mobile), but you can always find links to the current books on the group main page.

Rebecca | 18 comments thanks

Kelsy (kelsyfish) | 20 comments Emily's kind of a brat for the first part of the book, but I love Dreadnaught! Does anyone else wish he would just go ahead and give into his darker side more?

message 10: by Rio (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rio (minxxa) So I just finished the main selection for the month, and decided I wanted to give the Alt selection a try! I'm really enjoying being exposed to a lot of new books and authors!

message 11: by Andrea (new)

Andrea (dodgergirl99) | 39 comments I'm about 15% into this one and I think I'm going to have to Lem it. It's just too westerny for my taste. Oh well, at least I really enjoyed the main pick.

Robyn | 2 comments I read this a while ago, and really liked it towards the end, I did struggle to get into it at first but it does definitely get better

Shannon (sceriddle) | 95 comments I wasn't really a fan of this one. The world was interesting, but it felt like there were gaps in it. The romance made no sense. I'm fine with Taming of the Shrew style antagonism until they fall in love, but this just felt like they were assholes to each other until they smooched...and then continued to be assholes. And while the casual racism through stereotypes was unpalatable in the main, this one had some unnecessarily overt racism from a main character that doesn't add to the plot, or even get dealt with well: Emily just straight-up hates Native Americans. And there's old-timey racism against Italians, too.

message 14: by Hayden (new)

Hayden Kolodziejski | 2 comments I liked it, but also it was so rushed at the end. The characters were really wonderful and there was a good bit of action, my only real issue with it was that it felt so young adult in the romance department. [spoilers?] Like when they made out I was like "whoooohoooo getting to the goodstuff" but then noooooo all the propriety had to happen. Stanton was a damned sangrimancer (or half anyways) I thought he would be a little less vanilla in his love for her. The ending where they were talking about babies was just a big eyeroll because about three seconds before Emily had been all confused about Stanton's feelings and ready to leave [end of spoilers] but all in all it was very fun and a quick easy read.

Katie (katie_jones) | 348 comments I thought this was a really interesting book, especially for a first-time author. I enjoyed the world, the slight variations on history, and the mixture of steampunk with magic...which is funny because steampunk is usually so science/technology based. I have a hard time rating it, because it's not one of the best books I've read, but I did enjoy it. 3.5 maybe? It felt like it had the potential to be a much longer book with a lot more back-story, but perhaps because it was a first time novel, it was edited down. I thought it was an incredibly visual story, and I'd love to see it as a movie!

message 16: by Rio (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rio (minxxa) I agree it felt rushed at the end. There was so much focus on the travel and escape, etc. and then everything got wrapped up super quickly with not a lot of time for things to settle. I would have preferred to see a little less of the trip, and a little more of the ending with Stanton and Emily having a little more time discovering their feelings for each other instead of boom, we are now together. I feel like this is one of those books that could have used a good editor's hand to help balance it out a little bit. But, I too enjoyed the book. I liked the world building and the mix of magic and technology. It was creative and interesting.

Amadis Surprised this one's getting so many negative comments. I thought this was amazing from page one. Way better written than any of the other books we've read so far, at least since I started reading along around February or March. A really well thought out plot and fully realized characters with action that really ramped up toward the end. I really could not put it down, even though I really needed to be doing other things. I thought the romance was very well done. It was very clear to me how their feelings for each other gradually changed along the course of the story. And I didn't think the romance was young adult-ish either. Just better thought out than most of the rather shallow romances we usually read. Not that shallow romances don't have their place too. I like that sort of stuff as well. Just saying just because they didn't get to having sex in this one didn't mean it was young adult-ish in my opinion. I also loved that the two main characters were both likeable and unlikeable in the beginning with their own prejudices and misconceptions that were gradually recognized or undone throughout the story. Glad to know that this is a series and that more of the mysteries are still be revealed. Looks like the fourth book is due to be published this year. Going to go find book #2 right now!

Belle (grimmira) It was an interesting book, but not without issues (most of which have already been mentioned).
The end felt quite rushed. It would have been better to either cut out some of the trip or make the book a little longer to extend the end & make them getting together seem less rushed.
Emily was a bit of an obnoxious, immature brat throughout pretty much the whole book.
I also felt that the romance was a bit YA, but not just because they didn't have sex. I think the immaturity of the characters, especially Emily, is a big part of the YA feel to the romance. It just comes off more as something written for 13 year old girls.
My biggest issue, though, is just a personal pet peeve. The constant references to Wicca annoyed me to no end. Wicca was not even a thing in the time the book took place. So, every time it was referenced, it yanked me right out of the book.
Despite the issues & the fact that the book lags in some places (especially in the beginning), it was a quick, easy read & relatively fun.

Katie (katie_jones) | 348 comments ^ I looked that up because I was interested; although Wicca as it's known today became a common term in the 20th century, the term "wicca" was an Old English masculine term for a sorcerer. *The more you know* ;)

message 20: by Anna (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anna | 135 comments I agree with much of what's been said for the most part. I generally really enjoyed this book, though I agree the tension was miss-handled at the end, which made the relationship payoff fall a little flat. However, it was still quite enjoyable. I liked both characters. I like that they were both imperfect, and that they both had damage from the adventure... not everything was magically solved by the end.

There were some adorable quotes from this book, which I couldn't help but highlight as I ready. I'm gonna share some of my favorites now:

"I do hope I haven't interrupted your hoeing-down."

"your comfort with extortion is an extremely ugly personality trait."

"And in her constellation of aches and pains was one bright glowing sun of discomfort that she preferred, for obvious reasons, not to discuss."

one of my absolute favorites: "Don't make me get common."

"'How is your hand?' he said finally. She lifted her arm. 'Still gone.'"

Also, I loved the concept of squinking. There is something powerful about putting all the belittling, mansplaining, manipulative, mean stuff under one umbrella. That way if someone says something that feels bad, you don't have to analyze exactly why it was hurtful, you can just say, as Emily does, "I won't be squinked, Mr. Tarnham."

Anyway, I enjoyed this book for sure, much more than Warrior.

Belle (grimmira) Katie wrote: "^ I looked that up because I was interested; although Wicca as it's known today became a common term in the 20th century, the term "wicca" was an Old English masculine term for a sorcerer. *The mo..."

True, however it was the references to the modern day religion that were annoying to me - the mention of the Wiccan Rede, the whole "whatever you do comes back to you 3-fold", when asked what form of magic she practiced & Dreadnaught replied that she practiced Scottish Wicca, etc. These were obvious references to the modern day religion known as Wicca, which did not exist during the time the book takes place, not simple uses of the Old English word for wizard or sorcerer.

Whitney | 221 comments I decided to read the Alt first this month and I must say I did enjoy it. I agree with others that the end felt a bit rushed but other than that I thought it was pretty good. I really liked the world building and the characters.

Ashley | 55 comments I'm conflicted about this book. I thought the world was *fascinating* and really well done. The amount of detail added to the alternate Wild West reminded me a lot of Mejean Brook's world, which is absolutely a tick in Native Star's favor. I also thought the writing was surprisingly strong. I don't know what I expected in that department, but at times the quippy campiness felt a bit like Gail Carriger (another item in the book's favor).

My main issue with this book was the romance, which felt forced and insubstantial. It almost read like the author had pitched the book as a straight fantasy novel and had it rejected, then retooled it a bit to work in a romantic angle to get it published in that genre. I think Emily and Dreadnought--by the way, what a grimace-worthy name--would have worked better as a platonic pair in this book with vague romantic undertones to be resolved later. As it stood, I just couldn't get on board with their romance, especially given the rushed ending.

Lindsay | 132 comments I LOVED THIS BOOK! LOVED IT! (sorry about the caps)

What a great read though. The magic system was truly innovative, complex, and well rounded. I liked how, while it was prominent, it was not wholly accepted. I liked how there is a price and consequences to darker magic - it also gave a reasonable explanation for our villains being so villainous, since their quest for powerful magic leads to them damaging their soul. They weren't evil just because they could, they were evil because power corrupts.

I love our main characters as well. I love how Emily is strong-minded to the point of being stubborn. She is brave and a quick-thinker, but she also gets scared and acts impulsively. I love how she starts off doing something wrong (making that love potion). Her intentions were for selfless purposes (starvation in winter sounds like a terrible fate), but at the same time, it was wrong and she has to make amends for that. I also think it was interesting that she was prejudiced towards Native Americans. It is startling and not a good trait, but in that time and age her feelings were very common and it is nice to have a main character who has views that challenge us. If she was just a perfect, wonderful, altruistic heroine, she would be boring.

I love, love, love Stanton. Again, he is complex and seems like a whole character. He is very smart and capable, but he is also a supercilious prig. Again, he is brave and quick-minded, but also susceptible to weaknesses. I love his dark past. Our brief glance at his family informs us why and probably how he was seduced to follow black magic and he makes no excuses for his history, he does not blame anyone. Yet, he tries to make amends for his wrong and live with the time he is given trying to do the right thing. Also, Dreadnought Stanton is the best pretentious name ever.

I love how Emily and Stanton both fall victim to Grimaldi, you do not usually get your main character being used to sneak weapons in to murder significant characters. I love how I was not sure if either of them would make it out alive. Both of them were shot, cursed, and Emily had her hand AMPUTATED. WHEN DOES THAT HAPPEN IN STORIES!? When do our main characters suffer serious and permanent injuries?

Their journey was full of danger, and unlike Warrior, I was genuinely afraid for them. When Stanton nearly gets lynched, when they have to escaped Grimaldi/Rose and jump from a train and he slices his wrists!!! I mean, DAMN. It was tense, the stakes were high. I did not know if they would have a happy ending and it was just fun to be on the edge of my seat.

I also loved the romance. I liked that Emily was not fond of Stanton at the beginning, that they got on each other's nerves, that they bickered. I liked though, how bit by bit, they began understanding one another. Seeing Stanton selling his beloved horses and Emily selling her hair each gave one another a glimpse into their heart. They saw how each were committed to their journey and willing to sacrifice important things for the sake of it. From experience, I can tell you, it is easy to fall in love with someone who you are thrown together with suddenly and spend much of your day with, because they are always there, you get to know them quickly and it is very easy to develop intense feelings. It just seemed natural and real and not based on sex and physical attraction.

Lindsay | 132 comments P.S. I also loved their first kiss. The scene was so tense and raw and heartbreaking and when Stanton kissed Emily I was flailing with delight. It was hot.

P.S.S. I also sobbed when Stanton reminded Emily of his promise to take her to Central Park. ^__^

Amadis Okay, just finished book number three in this series and I'm pretty miffed that I have to wait until DECEMBER for the next book! Really love this author, this series. From her website it looks like she might be writing in this universe for quite a while. Yay!

Vella (vwbug) | 8 comments I really liked this book. I accidentally read it first thinking it was the main pick. Both the writing and world where strong. I LOLed at a lot of the interactions between Stanton and Emily.

I also was annoyed by the rushed ending and references to Wicca, which was created in the 1950s.

One of my faves since I joined this book club.

Amadis The Wicca references didn't bother me as this is 'alternate history' not real history. If the author wants to change some things around and it makes the story more interesting, that's fine.

message 29: by Beth (new) - rated it 3 stars

Beth I enjoyed the beginning of the book and all of the set up (especially the zombie miner scene), but the novel really took off around halfway through and I could hardly put it down. My feelings went from "this is enjoyable" to "this is fantastic!" around the time of the rifle standoff with the religious zealots. I found Dreadnought obnoxious at first, but he was clearly written that way on purpose. At some point I started imagining him as Benedict Cumberbatch since the character is a bit Sherlockian and really couldn't shake the mental image haha.

The way the romance between Emily and Dreadnought developed was really wonderful, but I didn't like how things finally resolved at the very end. Did anyone else think it seemed kind of passionless? I literally had gut wrenches and butterflies during the tension between them so I was waiting for some really spectacular romantic scene as payoff. Overall the very end of the book disappointed me. The action leading up to it had been so fun and exciting, but I thought it got overly convoluted. No one should ever need an entire chapter at the end to try to transition into the next book. Too many things were left utterly vague for me to even understand where the book is going next. It seemed like there were too many shadowy quasi-villians at the end with separate agendas and it lost focus. I really loved reading it though and I'll definitely read number two after seeing other positive comments about the series.

Lindsay | 132 comments Beth wrote: "At some point I started imagining him as Benedict Cumberbatch since the character is a bit Sherlockian and really couldn't shake the mental image haha. ..."

He was tall and lanky and was lovable even when being pompous? Oh, yeah, Benedict Cumberbatch all the way for Stanton.

Jordan (jordan_lusink) I have to say, I got stuck in this book at 4%, my Kindle app tells me, and just couldn't seem to motivate myself to go back to it. Then it seemed that other people were struggling with it as well from the first few posts here.

I finally found the gumption after reading the last few posts with the quotes and the Benedict Cumberbatch. (It's true that, just from the descriptions of Dreadnought, I pictured Benedict Cumberbatch as well...hmm...)

I'm about 20% in right now and am excited to keep reading. I think that the dialogue and dynamics between Dreadnought and Emily, while potentially exaggerated, are a lot more natural and realistic than conversations between other leads in books like this that I've read. Maybe it's because I'm a super sarcastic, quippy person, but I appreciate it.

Amanda | 23 comments Native Star is for people who want dry and dark fantasy with very little romance scenes. The only part that was interesting is open magic use in a post civil war US. This book just couldn't keep my attention and the dark magic bad guys came out of left field. There wasn't a clear main goal besides trying to get the stone out. The major save the world goal wasn't made apparent until the last one hundred pages. The romance amounts to the two characters realize they don't hate each other but not just care but love each other. The book just didn't work for me as a first in a series. I am hoping the problems with the romance is fixed with the next book.

message 33: by Miya (new) - rated it 3 stars

Miya (bistitchualbee) Totally loved this book until the ending with the awkward marriage proposal and the tree leaves all like "Hell yeah" and talk of wee bb warlocks soon to be on the way.

Jillian (_berryprincess_) Just finished reading and I really liked the beginning.

In my opinion, the book starts with hints about true love and Dag and tries to get you to think that Dag will be the main character and Emily never needed the love potion but then in Chapter 2 BAM! Dreadnaught walks in. Then I knew he was the real hero of the story. No one with the name DREADNAUGHT is a secondary character, ever. You can describe him as annoying, skinny, nerdy, stuck-up all you want - HIS NAME IS DREADNAUGHT! You will not be able to resist him! :)

But after that things get boring until at the end I'm just reading so I can finish the book without any real care of what happens to the characters or how it turns out. How can a book with magic and steampunk and fighting and a cross country adventure be so boring?

I also became very annoyed with Emily's naivety regarding the credomancers. "His voice was so soothing and suddenly Emily felt better without knowing why" Duh. Once the concept of credomancy was explained to you, this should stop being a mystery.

Finally I didn't like the Epilogue at the end. I felt the book wrapped up nicely and could stand alone or be part of a series. But the epilogue was so blunt that it changed my opinion and made the book feel unfinished.

Caitlin I didn't really like this book, what with the racism that never gets dealt with, to the rape magic that is forcing someone to fall in love with you, to the meandering plot.

message 36: by Miya (new) - rated it 3 stars

Miya (bistitchualbee) Also... whatever happened to poor Dag?

message 37: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine | 11 comments I've read Native Star before and loved it so much I re-read it. I think the world building is incredible, the way the magic is built in to the very crust of the earth. I thought the storylines all crossed nicely as well, like when Dag shows up again.
I like "journey" books, especially those with a bit of action and romance thrown in. Just my style. I remember wishing the second book was already out when I first read it...then I sort of forgot. Now I can go download "Hidden Goddess" :)

Tereza I really liked this book. I enjoyed the characters themselves, their interactions, and the dynamic of their relationship.

Neither of the characters was perfect which made me like them more and they came pretty battered out of their adventure, which made me like them even better.

I agree with Jillian that the epiloque felt like undoing of a very nicely wrapped up story and would rather if it wasn't part of the book.

Also, Benedict Cumberbatch as Stanton - YES!

message 39: by Beth (new) - rated it 3 stars

Beth Miya, "Also... whatever happened to poor Dag?"

I KNOW!! That's a driving conflict throughout the book and then there's just no mention of him at all. I don't think the fact that he loved her before the curse matters... She says herself that it only made the spell that much worse.

message 40: by Miya (new) - rated it 3 stars

Miya (bistitchualbee) Beth wrote: "Miya, "Also... whatever happened to poor Dag?"

I KNOW!! That's a driving conflict throughout the book and then there's just no mention of him at all. "

Honestly, I think the bit about him having always been fond of her was a way for the author to lessen the audience's harsh feelings towards Emily on that front. Sort of like, "Oh, he already liked her, so her putting a spell on him that made him act like a fool in front of everyone and breaking his heart and tear down his barn was no big deal, see?"

The poor guy :C

Caitlin Yeah I read that as "it wasn't REALLY a rape spell, see? he liked her anyways!"

message 42: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine | 11 comments Sheesh. Seriously? Does love spell now equal rape spell in the world of super PC parlance?

message 43: by Miya (last edited Sep 26, 2013 10:55AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Miya (bistitchualbee) Jasmine wrote: "Sheesh. Seriously? Does love spell now equal rape spell in the world of super PC parlance?"

I think one could easily argue that a love spell is tantamount to a date rape drug (one that, unfortunately, never wears off unless the caster decides to revoke the spell.)

A love spell forces someone to love another against their will... which could definitely lead to sex when that person physically and mentally cannot give legitimate consent. Had things worked out for Emily, she and Dag would have been married, had sex, and had children - all against his will. So we could equate her love spell with a prelude to rape.

Fortunately, Emily didn't fall through with her plans. Some could argue that this makes her actions okay. But imagine a man slipping a woman a date rape drug but then circumstances outside his control lead him to not being able to follow through with raping her. Does this make his intent to rape her any less repugnant?

message 44: by Miya (last edited Sep 26, 2013 10:53AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Miya (bistitchualbee) I'm not advocating that Emily is an awful character who everyone needs to hate. I simply noticed that having Dag admit he'd been in love with her all along seemed suspicious - like something the author just threw in once she realized that a love spell coupled with racism towards the natives might make people dislike her protagonist.

Dag is still under the spell when he admits to always having loved Emily... how do we know that's not the spell making him think that?

My point is just that, to me, having Dag admit he'd always loved her doesn't negate or excuse what Emily did to him.

message 45: by Miya (last edited Sep 26, 2013 10:58AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Miya (bistitchualbee) I did enjoy the book, but did anyone else feel like the resolution was too condensed? I remember looking down at my Kindle and seeing "2% of book remaining" and thinking, "Wait, what? Already?"

Caitlin What Miya said

Jennifer Crane-rosset | 104 comments Loved this one. I love the world, the little details, like Stanton's wallet. Magic debit card with a smart chip! The Emily/Stanton relationship reminded me a bit of the relationship between Alexia and Lord Woolsley in the Parasol Protectorate series-affection hidden under antagonisim. People keep mentioning the racism. Yeah, it was pretty thick, but it seems to be in keeping with the popular attitudes at the time. "The only good Indian is a dead Indian," was something that was said by a real historic public figure, and people went along with it. "Civilizing" the Natives, was considered the humane choice at the time, even if it meant destroying the cultures. It was not a nice time. Unfortunatly, such things still are said in modern times about other groups of people, but at least public outrage about such statements seems to happen more than public acceptance.

Emily's love spell...doesn't every teenage girl who discovers magic try that? I know I did, and I was no where in the desperate situation Emily was in. Her and her father were starving, magic users are hated by most people, and a woman at that time didn't have a lot of choice. They got married and that's about it. There was no putting herself through law school while working at McDonalds or anything like that. Women were banned by law in some places from owning property or working. Unless they wanted to be whores. And what did all the men call her? A whore. Not a nice place to be a woman, eathier. The issues of race and gender and class of the timescale of the novel are hard to see and judge by our standards today.

message 48: by Sara (new) - added it

Sara (medusasmirror) | 34 comments I'm super late getting to this one, but I just got my audio credit. I've just gotten past the demon raccoon and Emily is kind of pissing me off right now. Does she get better? I've probably got another hour or two of listening before she drives me crazy at this point. Does she get better? Between the morally questionable behavior, brattiness, and racism I'm just kind of over her right now.

Caitlin They stop focusing on the racism soon, but it's not like she has an epiphany about it or anything...

message 50: by Sara (new) - added it

Sara (medusasmirror) | 34 comments Ok, thanks.

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