Vaginal Fantasy Book Club discussion

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Nov 2014: Mind Games/Karma Girl > Discuss Mind Games *spoilers*

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message 1: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan (calijonathan) Your thoughts, impressions and questions of our primary reading selection. And go!


message 2: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan (calijonathan) Early in the book, Packard outlines his activities to Justine. A group of people using their special talents or idiosyncrasies to get justice (a.k.a. revenge). The first thing it reminded me of is the TV show Leverage, where reformed con men and thieves are getting a second chance by helping the innocent. I suppose the A-Team and the new show Scorpion as well as comic books like the Justice League and the Avengers are the same theme. The theme may not be new, but I'm already excited to find out how Packard will prevent Justine from stroking out and include her as part of the team.


message 3: by Brittany (new)

Brittany (nerdyspinster) | 255 comments I'm about six chapters in right now and so far I like the book. I was having trouble connecting with Justine's anxiety over her illness (really the whole hypochondria thing in general), so it made it a little difficult at first to get my head in the world etc. Also, there's no real good explanation of what "highcaps" are/how they came to be other than they're telepaths/telekinetics etc. and apparently that's a thing that's been going on for a while...so I feel like I've kinda walked into the middle of a story that's already started. But I think that's on purpose since Justine is sort of a fish out of water too. Would be nice to have a little info-dump though.

Really don't like Justine's relationship with Cubby. I feel like that's a toxic relationship waiting to fail. He doesn't support her or sympathize with her hypochondria, and she's really only latched onto him because he's "normal". I mean, he was ready to dump her as soon as her hypochondria started coming back! The only reason he doesn't is because Justine lies and says she's going to get over it like he told her to. As if it's that easy to turn off a psychological illness like that. Really don't like Cubby.

Didn't really like Packard at first either, but he's growing on me. He's turning more endearing rather than irritatingly pushy. I wonder what his issue is with his restaurant and the mish-mash of Asian decorations. I'm curious now. Also,not sure how I feel about the whole disillusionment vigilantism. I can understand why Justine agrees to it, in order to get relief from her own problem, but the whole pushing change on someone before it's ever going to happen in that person's timeline makes me think of Minority Report in a way. It's a little creepy. I guess the fact that it's only done to criminals makes it a little better? Idk, that's still just a little iffy to me.


message 4: by Cathal (new)

Cathal Stockdale | 21 comments I am about half way through the book, and similar to Brittany I had been growing to like Packard some more but then you discover some more things which I won't mention now but I don't like him now.

I sort of do like Justine, she is strong willed and seems to be the only one that stands up to Packard apart from Francis some what.


message 5: by Cara (Eli) (new)

Cara (Eli) | 6 comments Yeah, I have finished with the book and was left with the same issues as Nicole. I do not however, suffer from anxiety disorders, so there may be things I missed out on due to that?


message 6: by Gloria (last edited Nov 03, 2014 11:50PM) (new)

Gloria Mark (glowem) | 7 comments I just finished the book in one sitting. Rather than a testament to how great I thought the book was, it really just reflects how uneasy I was with the book, and that made me unwilling to put it down. I did like it though.

From the moment we met him, to me, Cubby felt like a throw away character, I don't think he was ever fully fleshed out in a way that made me care about him, and I didn't get a feeling that he and Justine had much of a connection. This was a problem that, at the time, I didn't realize would plague me the entire book. The only character I ever felt connected to was Shelby, and I'm not sure why that was. Maybe it was the fact that she was the only person that Justine ever really talked to. Come to think of it, Shelby was the only important reoccurring character that Justine wasn't sexually attracted to, and as such she was able to have full conversations--more than once even!--with her. That's actually not true, surprisingly, Simon is is similar to Shelby in this regard.

More character stuff: I despised "Chief Otto Sanchez" from the moment he was first mentioned. The way Justine talked about him from that very first mention in chapter two, all the way to the end...he made me very uneasy. In fact, reading about him, I became physically ill several times (though being sick, I'm on a hairpin trigger right now). I don't understand her infatuation with the man, and it made it hard for me to relate to Justine the entire book, since her unyielding feelings of safety and admiration for the guy were present the entire time. Packard on the other hand always seemed like a good choice--though I didn't have the same moral hang-ups as Justine did about the whole Dillusionist set up. That may have played a role in my willingness to trust the, admittedly sketchy Packard.

All in all, I found the character romance arch mildly surprising, though not unpredictable. I knew from the start that Cubby was not one of the two men who were worthy of making the back cover blurb, leaving the choice between Packard and Otto--who even before he was a sentient character in the story, still felt like Justine's serious romantic interest, just from the newspaper article references, and was cemented further once introduced. I originally figured Otto for the Brick Slinger, and only ruled that out--maybe he killed someone else, and framed them as the Brick Slinger--once I was sure he was Henji, a conclusion I came to without the visual aid of his visage, though I couldn't tell you exactly how or when or why. I struggle here because I don't know if I guessed these things because the plot/characters were predictable, or simply because I'm pretty good a guessing these kinds of things. I'd be interested to know what other's thought of Otto's character. I can't imagine I'm the only person who was kind of put off by him right from the beginning, though the enormity of the anger I feel towards him probably isn't strictly normal....

Edit: I got distracted. I meant to add that I truly predicted, and wished for Packard and Justine to get together in the end. This was the thing I was wrong about. I also was expecting Otto to be a lot more "EVIL" and less "morally grey". More "Lord Voldemort" and less...Packard, I guess.


What a wall of text.
TL;DR: I don't like Otto.


message 7: by Gloria (new)

Gloria Mark (glowem) | 7 comments As per the anxiety thing, I agree that it's pretty realistic. I, too, suffer from Social Anxiety, mild to moderate, depending on how bad my other psychological issues are at the time--Packard would just have a field day with me. I feel like the fixation that you feel on a subplot (in Justine's case, the various aliments she feels, and their progressions) that exists only within your head, though sometimes convergent and sometimes tangent to the narrative outside it, is well represented. For me, I interpret peoples feelings based on whatever little social or body language clue I can draw out of a person. The subplot for me is mostly about how people are trying to reject me, though they're too polite, or whatever, to say it. For Justine, it's the symptoms of her vein star syndrome, and how the worsen.

However, where Crane really succeeds here, is showing how this internal subplot affects how a person communicates with others. Since for most of the book, her hypochondria, and it's resulting anxiety, are dormant unless called upon, all we have to go off of is Cubby near the beginning of the novel. It seems as though the subplot interferes with Justine's ability to act as a "normal" character in the outside world's story. She is often unable to concentrate on a conversation because the subplot is overwhelming her. She makes rash decisions on out to act in the outside story because her subplot makes her feel rushed, like time is running out. These are all real feelings, and I can understand her character through them.

On the other hand, where Crane fails, I believe, is that anxious, hypochondriac Justine and "normal"--I understand how degrading this term is in this context, I just need it to make the distinction--Justine are truly two entirely different characters that needed to be flushed out entirely on their own. When Justine is anxious, I don't mind feeling somewhat isolated from her, and I actually like that she seems distant and hard to relate to, in the narration. However, when Justine is "normal", I want her to be relatable. I want to feel some connection with Justine, I want to empathize with her, not just sympathize with her sad plight. I never felt like I could understand Justine even when she was at her best. She always felt distant to me, rushed even.

I think a clear difference in the narrative from anxious to relaxed would have made believe more that Justine had a serious mental illness, and not write off her distant tone to her being a dull person.


message 8: by Ksenia (new)

Ksenia | 13 comments This book gave me the heebie jeebies, something just felt off the whole way through. Plot just happens to the main character and she seems either full of anxiety or euphoria to ever think straight, and even the kissing/sex made me feel uneasy because it seemed to just happen to Justine rather than her making decisions that lead to those actions.
Most of the interactions have a sexual undertone, both hero and villain, which felt creepy when with villains, but even with the heroes Justine never seemed in control.


message 9: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Marae I think it's interesting how this book follows the last in the fact that the male lead offers the female little choice and decrees that he knows what's best.
Packard found Justine and was convinced that she would end up dying due to her hypochondria. He convinces her to zing and join his team but never shares the consequences. He basically butters her up and makes her feel good and now she's forever his little henchman?
I haven't read any further than that so maybe he has reasons for doing it?


message 10: by Kayla (new)

Kayla Turner (plainkayla) | 78 comments Okay, one thing that really REALLY got under my skin was a scene close to the end of the book where...
(view spoiler)


message 11: by Kayla (new)

Kayla Turner (plainkayla) | 78 comments I will add that a lot of people above have a similar opinion of Cubby. That he was a throwaway character and not very sympathetic to Justine.
I felt he was an excellent addition to the book- and it made her character more rounded overall. I connected, and felt sorry for him.
As someone who suffers anxiety, I related to Justine's perceptions and her craziness. Knowing that you're being unreasonable, yet being unable to shake the feeling or reign it in and seeing that it is destroying your relationship is powerful.
She says at one point that she has made him bitter. It's truly a brilliant side commentary on mental illness without distracting from the plot.


message 12: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Crane-rosset | 104 comments Hated this one. First of all, I called it from the begining that Otto was going to be a "bad" guy and that Packard was lying through his teeth. And Packard's whole, "I own you now and soon we will be together," thing turned me off. And Justine...are we sure her issue isn't nympomania? I was annoyed by her instantly wanting to sleep with EVERYONE she met. It just felt like forced conflict..."Oh, I am a good girl and I love my boyfriend and would never hurt him, except I totally want to sleep with everyone I interact with for more than five minutes." It just felt contrived. I was also bothered by the character of Jordan. Everyone is like, "Watch out for her. She is dangerous." And she shows up for two seconds. What was the point? The ending felt very rushed, as well. Nope, not a fan.


message 13: by Shelley (new)

Shelley | 39 comments Three thoughts:

First, I rate this book as "meh". Some books have such great characters that I feel emotionally attached to them and sad to see them go when I finish the book. This one had generally unlikable characters. They all lie or cheat or steal. They might all have one bit of something good about them, not enough to redeem them to the point of "I'd go have a beer with this character if he/she were real" status.

Second, if I were casting this as a movie, I'd have Mario Cimarro as Otto. (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0162333/?r...)

Third and finally, this line from the scene with Justine and Otto really cracked me up: "Time slows and simmers as he slides his hand, little by little, up and under my pant leg, resting it on my bare calf, sending effervescence through my pelvis."

EFFERVESCENCE THROUGH HER PELVIS? Sounds like he gave her Alka Selzter somewhere that no woman should have Alka Seltzer.


message 14: by Frakki (new)

Frakki Karu | 509 comments Yahoo! Already read the book! No way to miss out on the fun come the next meet up.

I thought it was a great concept for a book. I binge read the next two books as well.


message 15: by Frakki (new)

Frakki Karu | 509 comments Reviewing book to remind myself why I liked it so much. Mostly it was due to the uniqueness of having a protagonist who suffers from mental health issues.

I love how she uses the skills she's gain from having the illness, such as hiding fear and horror, to stand up to people. It's her weakness that allows to be stronger -- not physical skills.

I thought it was really interesting how the story develops with the use of her illness. I mean, there's always bad guys in the world and people fantasize on how to get rid of them in books. So many books just shoot them dead or kill them in other gruesome ways. Her you have this weird rethink on the issue.

Should make for a great conversation.


message 16: by Ksenia (new)

Ksenia | 13 comments Jennifer wrote: "...And Justine...are we sure her issue isn't nympomania?..."
YES! A hypochondriac nymphomaniac who hasn't heard of STD's or pregnancy!
Also she's supposed to be completely average looking, why is everyone falling over themselves to have sex with her :/


message 17: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan (calijonathan) I also finished it this week and have mixed feelings about it. Many of you have mentioned the points already. I thought the story of using psychoses to change people's attitudes and behaviors and create moral change was new and interesting although morally questionable. And the evolution of highcaps was intriguing.

But there were so many areas poorly developed. Why did Justine have such a bizarre confidence in Chief Otto Sanchez? Why was she so quickly and easily turned on to Packard and the Chief and pretty much every guy she met?

I really did expect her to be with Packard in the end so that bit of misdirection was successful but I really had a hard time seeing Otto just dumping Sylvia for Justine at the drop of a hat. Or beret.

And what was the motivation of the Brick Slinger? That could have been an entire crime novel in itself but was just background tension.

The Alka Seltzer comment above. I'm still laughing about that. Well done.


message 18: by Shelley (new)

Shelley | 39 comments Jonathan wrote: "Why did Justine have such a bizarre confidence in Chief Otto Sanchez? ... The Alka Seltzer comment above. I'm still laughing about that. Well done. "

I think we're going to get some cosmic explanation for Justine being drawn to both Packard and Otto, like how every highcap has a human to balance him/her out to keep harmony in the universe (or something lame like that). I also expect that the fight between Packard and Otto that no one talks about was over a woman. Justine is just gong to be another verse in the same song.

And thanks!


message 19: by Shelley (new)

Shelley | 39 comments Nicole wrote: "I'm pretty sure that I missed the whole "effervescence" line. Thank you for mentioning it and I definitely had the same reaction that you did."


That line really stuck with me. I was still chuckling (and squirming over it) at the time I finished the book. Call me old-fashioned, but anything that evokes Alka Seltzer is not even a little romantic or sexy.


message 20: by Somethingblue (new)

Somethingblue | 33 comments Ok, without reading the previous because I'm not that far yet, I have a couple of early observations. First, this is the second book in a row that had mention of Ebola, which is just interesting to me in that I wonder if I would have picked up on it before this year when it became more prevalent in the media. Second, I seem to have a problem with names lately. Criminy from the previous book felt creepy to me. Ironically, with this new book, Cubby is a character. My kids call my brother in law Uncle Cubby as a nickname so sometimes I'm a little icked out there! HAHA! Finally, whenever I read about illness, whether physical or mental, I always think I suffer from it too. I am identifying way too much with our heroine :)


message 21: by Katie (new)

Katie (katie_jones) | 348 comments ...And I'm realizing I read the wrong Mind Games! Okay...back to finding the book ;)


message 22: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Crane-rosset | 104 comments Ksenia wrote: "Jennifer wrote: "...And Justine...are we sure her issue isn't nympomania?..."
YES! A hypochondriac nymphomaniac who hasn't heard of STD's or pregnancy!
Also she's supposed to be completely average ..."


It's not even that. No one is ever worried about STDs or babies in romance books, unless it's one of those where the ultimate goal is to catch a man and have babies. (gag) I don't even care if the character wants to sleep with everyone. Fine. Do it. But own it. None of this virgin/whore complex BS. Like I said, it just felt like a contrived way to make more drama.


message 23: by Kat (new)

Kat | 27 comments For some reason, I had a really hard time envisioning Otto as hot. It's probably the combination of his name and his job title, but I kept picturing him as a slightly overweight, older man with a mustache.

Kayla wrote: "Okay, one thing that really REALLY got under my skin was a scene close to the end of the book where..."

Yessssssss. God, that wigged me out.


message 24: by Cathal (new)

Cathal Stockdale | 21 comments Katrina wrote: "For some reason, I had a really hard time envisioning Otto as hot. It's probably the combination of his name and his job title, but I kept picturing him as a slightly overweight, older man with a mustache."
and a beret? ;)

Having finished the book I am still confused about Packard: are we meant to like him or hate him? is he truely looking out for others or a self centred so and so? I know you can be all of these things but not usually to the one person. Anyone else have any thoughts on Packard?


message 25: by Gloria (new)

Gloria Mark (glowem) | 7 comments Katrina wrote: "For some reason, I had a really hard time envisioning Otto as hot. It's probably the combination of his name and his job title, but I kept picturing him as a slightly overweight, older man with a ..."

ME TOO! I mentioned this in the casting thread, but for some reason, I envisioned him as Mario Batali, but heavier, and with greasy hair. I still cannot shake this image of him.


message 26: by Miya (new)

Miya (nursethalia) Just some random thoughts, not really in order…

I didn’t expect to like Justine very much, especially since she’s described as being “medium pretty”, but every guy she meets finds her gorgeous and perfect and wants to make out with her. It’s a romance novel cliche. I think the mental health issues are what helped me connect with her and give her a chance to grow on me. It’s nice to see a protagonist suffering from anxiety and mental issues and dealing with it, even if most of that “dealing” was via metaphysical hoodoo. Especially so with all the misinformation and fear in the media that construes sufferers of mental illnesses as always being “crazy” and/or dangerous. So props for a protagonist with relatable qualities.

I think Cubby’s character was shortchanged. It felt like his entire existence was just to cockblock the other males and give Justine more internal conflict once the hypochondria became a manageable issue. The fact that he randomly slept with a 40-year-old crazy woman he’d literally just met was just too unbelievable. He was also so immediately dismissive of Justine’s anxieties in the opening chapter of the book - I feel as though his refusal to take her to the ER and him telling her to just “get over it” was the author trying to write him off as a poor choice for Justine without really trying to flesh out the character. I think Justine’s character could have grown, been more admirable and relatable, if she’d been the one to make the decision to break their relationship off, perhaps for his own safety or because she didn’t feel he deserved a relationship centered on lies, rather than relying on the old trope of “you’re never here, I don’t trust you anymore, I’m gonna cheat on you and then dump you”.

Every time Justine sees Otto’s photo in the paper or his face on TV, she goes on about how wonderful and moral and righteous and brave he is. Her bizarre over-confidence and infatuation with him happened so often that it was painfully obvious that his integrity was going to eventually come into question. It seemed like sloppy storytelling, and I’m trying to figure out how those bits got past editing.

Never have I heard a man’s dick describe as cucumbery or fat. Although I did like the fact that condoms were included without detracting from the smut. I was also surprised to find out that Otto was supposed to be hot. Especially after reading about his opera attire.

For all my complaining, I actually did enjoy this book quite a bit!


message 27: by Miya (new)

Miya (nursethalia) Can we talk about all the touching, please?

Did anyone else really enjoy the descriptions of all the sensation play in this book? I feel like the foreplay parts were very accurate/believable for the type of stuff we read here.

*hides*


message 28: by Kayla (new)

Kayla Turner (plainkayla) | 78 comments I enjoyed several of the descriptions except when she referred to Simon's term "spelunking". I find that a thoroughly un-erotic word and it kind of took me out of the moment a bit.
I appreciated her second time with Otto, when she described him rolling on a condom and then entering her. It was the first instance in a book I've read where they actually describe the action- not just hint at it or let the reader assume one was used. That to me, felt incredibly realistic.
Her definitions of his and Packard's body left the reader able to imagine an average man- not some god like figure which made it hotter to me. They were truly attainable.


message 29: by Sam (new)

Sam | 61 comments Early on in the book something felt off to me and I finally realized it was because it's in present tense. I'm just so used to books being in past tense that it's jarring when it's not. What did everyone else think of the tense? I thought it fit well with her medical panic attacks and euphoric hours, because her thought processes were all very in the moment. If it was in past tense some of that "in the moment" quality would be lost. Also, is vein star syndrome a real thing?
I liked the book, particularly the powers. I'm conflicted about the love triangle. I definitely had Otto pinned at having a secret identity, but early on I thought it was as the Brick Slinger and then I switched to Henji after learning about him. I kept picturing him as older than I think he was supposed to be. How old is he? The beret was weird, too. I really liked the flip the book made when Justine was over at his house between who was the villain. It was a genuine "Oh, crap. Everything she knows might be wrong" moment. I still don't completely trust Otto and don't particularly like him as a romantic lead.
I have mixed feelings about Packard. He's more attractive, but the way he keeps tricking Justine is super messed up. I don't really understand what he sees in her. Did he just pick her to join the group because she thinks she has vein star syndrome? What he says makes it sound like he has genuine feelings for her, but his actions make it seem like she's just a pawn in his scheme to get to Otto. Do he ever really say what he likes about her other than that she's a hypochondriac? Was anyone else confused by that first kiss scene? From what it said I got the impression they had sex, but later it was always described as just a kiss. I had to go back and look at the quotes: "I fall deeper into the thrilling hardness of his erection between my legs. I slide up on him, and then down, and the feel of him magically penetrates to the deepest places inside me."
Has anyone read the next two books? Are they good? Maybe another thread would be better for that. I think I'll read them, but not immediately. I went ahead and read some spoilers on them on Goodreads, because the love triangle went a different direction than I thought it would.


message 30: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 26 comments I also thought that Otto wasn't necessarily good looking, I pictured him as a little old for Justine. But I thought that the sexy-time description when she was spelunking him was HOT!

But I do not get the love triangle at all I loathe Parker. He seems domineering and a tad abusive. Not to mention you can't trust him as far as you could throw him. At the first kiss I liked that it was a force they could not fight. Then we find out he's tricked her to serve his own ends and I lost all interest in him entirely.

All in all I really enjoyed this book. Although I am still laughing at the Alka Seltzer comment; I didn't really think about it at the time but now it's all I can think of.


message 31: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Katie wrote: "...And I'm realizing I read the wrong Mind Games! Okay...back to finding the book ;)"

That is soooo hilarious!


message 32: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Miya wrote: "...I didn’t expect to like Justine very much, especially since she’s described as being “medium pretty”, but every guy she meets finds her gorgeous and..."

But I think medium-pretty girls who have good personalities and are both independent and compliant are attractive to men--more so than extra-extra pretty girls.


message 33: by Julie (new)

Julie England (tehluhlah) | 13 comments Sam wrote: "Early on in the book something felt off to me and I finally realized it was because it's in present tense. I'm just so used to books being in past tense that it's jarring when it's not. "

I'm glad I'm not the only one who had trouble with the use of present tense! It kept me from really getting into the story, my brain kept trying to figure out who she was real-time narrating her adventures to.


message 34: by Xanthi (new)

Xanthi | 52 comments I'm trying hard not to read anything before I finish this book to avoid spoilers but I just had to comment on something. I don't know about you but maybe I'm a hypochondriac as well but I would never wore someone else's bathing suit and swim in it as well. xD it feels weird. Would you? Am I overreacting?


message 35: by Kayla (new)

Kayla Turner (plainkayla) | 78 comments That's what I said. :) ^


message 36: by Somethingblue (new)

Somethingblue | 33 comments I didn't think I was going to end up getting as into this as I did, but I've already started book 2, Double Cross:)


message 37: by Cat (new)

Cat (thecato) | 2 comments I enjoyed this book but for a story about "reverse emotional vampires," more than just a little part of me wanted the nemesis to be Dr. Phil.

Oh! And, two words: "cucumbery erection."

I'll never eat salad again.


message 38: by Miya (new)

Miya (nursethalia) Xanthi, my MIL keeps spare bathing suits at her house for when guests want to use her hot tub, and I always politely refuse. I know she launders them, but it still weirds me out to think of offering someone the loan of a bathing suit that someone else's nether regions have been in.


message 39: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay (the_great_linzini) | 56 comments I loved this book, I've already moved on to the second book as well. I have a harder time picturing Otto as well, if I go by how he is described I don't find him overly attractive (I was picturing an Antonio Banderas type, and he doesn't quite do it for me). I was also imagining an artist's beret, which didn't help matters much. However, then I started thinking of my grandfather's photos from when he was in the RAF, (British Royal Air Force). Some of those boys (now grandfathers and great grandfathers), looked pretty hot in their military black berets.....


message 40: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay (the_great_linzini) | 56 comments So now my imagination has infused Otto with an English accent. :/


message 41: by Somethingblue (new)

Somethingblue | 33 comments Shelley wrote: "Three thoughts:

First, I rate this book as "meh". Some books have such great characters that I feel emotionally attached to them and sad to see them go when I finish the book. This one had general..."



Shelley - thank YOU for posting Mario Cimarro's IMDB link, because I have not been able to form an attractive Otto image in my head at ALL. This will help me as I read through book 2. Also, I'm sure this is wrong, but for some reason I dig Packard much more.


message 42: by Xanthi (last edited Nov 09, 2014 08:53AM) (new)

Xanthi | 52 comments I also liked this book and I liked it even more than the previous Vaginal Fantasy choice, Wicked as the Come. It was a great read for me and I enjoyed the heroine. Troubled but independent enough to do what she felt right without relying to any man to save her.

Here are my thoughts and then I will spam-reply to more of you :D.

Her relationship with Cuddy was of course problematic and Packard was spot on describing it (that's one of the few positive things about him). This relationship is one of those things when you say "ok, get on with it, you are going to break up, just break up already". A bit boring but I guess a necessary plot/part of the book.


I as well have mixed feelings about Packard. I think if I were Justine I would probably made the same choice. I didn't like Packard hiding the truth from her and he did sound arrogant with the whole "I saved you, you came to me, we belong together bla bla". Yes he is hot, steamy and all that, and he does have some positive traits in his character, but imo he is a no no for justine. Just a purely lust thing from her side and nothing more.

Packard might indeed have strong and true feelings about and also a narcissist makes me to not like him at all. Of course he is hurt and that might have messed him up but still he doesn't handle it very well.

On the other hand, Otto, even though she did pretty much the same thing to him, he accepted her after she came clean. He is the character that I disliked from the first
moment his name is introduced but came to really really like and sympathize with.

So, from the first moment he was introduced inside Justin's thoughts I felt that "uh, oh he is definitely not the saint she is imagining to be". And I couldn't see him as a sexy person :/

But the night garden/pool scene was the turning point for me. I instantly liked him and could somehow felt her feelings.

It was the first romance novel where I see a cheating heroine (haven't read that many still a newbie), and even though for me there is no excuse for cheating, I believe that most women reach the point of cheating when they have realized that their current relationship is in some way over. Maybe she knew it was a matter of time between her and Cubby but didn't want to admit it. Also the fact that she was finally free from her fears made her feel more alive and that might have something to do with her giving in to Packard.

So, I actually enjoyed, after she was single again, that she was an independent and sexually active person. I don't thing she is a nympho guys. She is enjoying life. No judgement, on the contrary, good for her! (but no-no to cheating).

And yes, finally, condoms people! Well, he is a police man, he has to do the responsible thing :)


message 43: by Xanthi (new)

Xanthi | 52 comments "But I think medium-pretty girls who have good personalities and are both independent and compliant are attractive to men--more so than extra-extra pretty girls. "

Yes, that! That's how I see it and how I perceive it from my male friends.


message 44: by Xanthi (new)

Xanthi | 52 comments Gloria wrote: "Katrina wrote: "For some reason, I had a really hard time envisioning Otto as hot. It's probably the combination of his name and his job title, but I kept picturing him as a slightly overweight, o..."

Yes me too! It changed after the pool scene, but still it was a bit weird.


message 45: by Shelley (new)

Shelley | 39 comments Somethingblue wrote: "Shelley - thank YOU for posting Mario Cimarro's IMDB link, because I have not been able to form an attractive Otto image in my head at ALL. This will help me as I read through book 2. Also, I'm sure this is wrong, but for some reason I dig Packard much more.
"


You're very welcome. I'm pretty hooked on Spanish-language novelas, and they are FULL of gorgeous men, so when a character in a book is Hispanic and handsome, I don't have trouble coming up with an image in my head. This is a better picture of MC looking kind of pirate-y and very sexy-yummy.

https://twitter.com/AmazingSDJ/status...

And despite the fact that the Otto in my head is super hot, I also like Packard better. Team Kebab!


message 46: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Mintz | 19 comments I enjoyed this book overall. It was well-paced and quippy, which helped me to get over some of my nitpicks. There were many places where I lol'd, for example, during the scene when the Disillusioned are introducing themselves to Justine. Nothing matters, it's all hopeless...then they burst out laughing.

I really like the idea of symbolism in architecture. I have often imagined that certain architecture is designed for the purpose of warding off evil or containing something inside. Like little real-life easter eggs that only someone who was really looking for it might see. It took me a minute to understand why kebabs and ouzo would be served at a Mongolian restaurant. Once I got it, it was pretty funny.

I even enjoyed the sex scenes (minus the cucumber reference, umm wha?). I hate it when authors say things like "manhood" or "his length" instead of "penis" or "cock." Nothing more mood-killing than a cheesy sex scene. I finished the book in a day.

That said, here are some problems I had.

Minions. Really? Couldn't Packard just said "You work for me; I'm your employer" instead of "I'm the master and you are my minions"? That just seemed silly and sort of made Packard less intimidating to me.

She wrote a lot in passive voice, which I find incredibly distracting. I was able to get passed that mostly by rewording it in my head (I'm an editor. It's a fault, sorry). If she had made these few passages active, the narrative might have been a bit tighter.

And the medical jargon. Oh boy! It seems to me that if you want to have a character that is obsessive about health and medicine, it would be wise to study up on the differences between a symptom, a virus, and a parasite. Also, basic anatomy around your choice of disease. I had to skim these passages in order not to be annoyed. (I told you these were nitpicky, right?)

Anyway, I did like this one enough to read the next one. (Also, I like Otto better than Packard. Maybe it's the minion thing, but then again, I found Otto to have more substance. In a kill-fuck-marry scenario, I would go with Cubby-Packard-Otto.)


message 47: by Kayla (new)

Kayla Turner (plainkayla) | 78 comments Am I the only one who completely dismissed Packard as a romantic interest other than the occasional romp in a closet or on a booth? Haha
1) he is deceptive, tricking her for his own gain.
2) the minion thing. It is annoying.
3) he can never leave the restaurant (when first introduced). Never able to go out on dates, meet the family, whatever means he is not partner material.

Also, not to be gross, but.... Don't you think a guy locked in a restaurant for 8 years without any romantic interest would be a little quick on the draw when it comes to sexy times? That's pretty much all I could think of, and it made his character a bit more comical. I suppose I never took him seriously, despite the nice sex scenes.


message 48: by Orange (new)

Orange | 56 comments I too thought Packard was a creep, pretty much right from the beginning and he just kept getting creepier. He lied, manipulated, and called people his minions, total creep. And I kept thinking about how he lives in a restaurant and never showers and his greasy hair probably smells like kabob, ew.


message 49: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Mintz | 19 comments Orange wrote: "I too thought Packard was a creep, pretty much right from the beginning and he just kept getting creepier. He lied, manipulated, and called people his minions, total creep. And I kept thinking abou..."


Eww...kabob hair. Ok, I changed my mind and my new k/f/m is Packard/Cubby/Otto.


message 50: by Frakki (new)

Frakki Karu | 509 comments I love the word minions. It kind of makes the user seem like a jerk, but intentionally. I've been know to use it. Makes me laugh.

I also liked how the others were defensive about their powers. Like Helmut -- it's not dread it's clarity.


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