Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Broken by Traci L. Slatton



I was hoping that this would be like Alma Katsu's book, THE TAKER -- lush, dark, atmospheric, historically relevant. And that cover, it's so beautiful!!! Unfortunately, it was a porned-up work of historical fiction whose flippancy actually made light of what was a very dark time in history.

Alia is a fallen angel. She has one act of grace, one miracle, at her disposal, although she hasn't used it yet. She resides in Paris at the time of German occupation, chumming around with various famous people like Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, Salvador Dali, etc. She has two lovers, a musician and a bullfighter, both of them part Jewish. Alia fears for their safety, as well of that of her neighbor and best friend, Suzanne, and her young daughter Cecile.

My problem with BROKEN is that it is too flowery to be erotica, but too erotic to be literature. It falls in a shadowy middle ground.

To make matters worse, Alia is a Mary Sue. Hearing all these famous people talk about how beautiful she is, and how much they want to have sex with her (again), got old fast. Even when the Nazis get involved, they have nothing but good things to say about her, such as how beautiful and Aryan she looks, and how much they want to fuck her, too. Uhhhh, great.

I don't mind erotica, but I didn't like how sex was portrayed in this book. I felt like it was meant to shock and horrify, which was not very fun to read about. Her rape by the Nazis made me cringe. The ending was good, but I was so impatient to get to the ending that this doesn't really credit the work much. I feel like this author could do good work if she focused less on using fancy words and more on actually telling a decent story.

1 to 1.5 out of 5 stars.

Slow Heat in Heaven by Sandra Brown



This is my first Sandra Brown novel. A lot of the people on my flist swear by her, and since her newest book -- MEAN STREAK -- just came out, my update feed has been saturated by reviews and status updates singing her glorious praises. I don't know about that. When it comes to these established romance novelists, I'm far more interested in their backlists; I like seeing how an author develops and grows, and how her books change with the zeitgeist. For I am...

...the backlist bandit!

SLOW HEAT IN HEAVEN is a lozly and politically incorrect adventure that takes place in Heaven, Louisiana. Reading it reminded me of early V.C. Andrews novels (you know, the ones she wrote herself before she died and Andrew Neiderman took over with his dubious consent F/F rapefests). I think it's because of the atmosphere, the old money, and the rich people doing terrible things to one another...also, the dot-dot-dot love scenes. If you are looking for something really naughty, this book probably isn't for you. The sex scenes are far tamer than the smut you can download for free off Smashwords (medical erotica, anyone?), and the talk of "hair clumps" are better suited to cleaning out one's shower than they are to a sex scene between the H/h.

Schyler Crandall left Heaven when her bitchy adopted sister, Tricia, slept with her fiance. She hid in England with a guy named Mark who owns an art gallery and comes back only because her (adoptive) father winds up in the ICU because of a heart attack. The book isn't very clear on this, but Tricia and Schyler were not related. They are both orphans that the Crandalls adopted because Mrs. Crandall was barren. We never meet her -- she died of one of those mysterious wasting diseases that only rears its ugly head in romance novels. Ken Howell, Tricia's husband, comes from a similar state of filial wtfuckery -- his parents both died in a plane crash. #RichPeopleProblems

So Schyler is in Louisana and nobody is very happy that she's back, not even her father who seems to hate her for some reason. (Could this reason be the result of underhanded scheming from Tricia McBitchface? Maybeeeee.) Cash, the alpha male love interest, shows up and starts being an asshole and flirting in a way that would get you slapped with a sexual harassment suit and a restraining order. Cash's charms come from his Cajun French, his ten-inch peen, the fact that he's a medicine man with huge muscles, he lives in the bayou, and he has chest hair so thick you can curl your fingers in it.


I actually think body hair is hot, but I bet a lot of you just winced lol. ;)

Cash is such a dbag though that it is kind of impossible for me to like him. About 50 times throughout the novel, we're reminded -- through various characters -- that Cash will nail anything with a skirt, and has slept his way through half the women in town. He has no qualms about treating these women like shit because that's what keeps them crawling back into his bed for more. Likewise, he doesn't mind pitting women against one another for sport, and jealousy gives him the luls. It isn't really a surprise that he thinks "yes" means "no" and that all of his love scenes with Schyler have the bitter aftertaste of rape that is so typical of 1980s romances.

Here are some quotes from our Prince Charming of the Bayou:

"Be careful how you talk to me, mon cher," he said silkily. "When they get all riled up," he nodded toward the crowd, "I might be the only thing standing between you and gang rape" (76).

"I should have shot you when I had the chance."

He gave her a slow, lazy smile. "And I should have raped you when I had my chance" (187). 

When he thinks the h is sleeping with someone else, he threatens to kill her. When she gets angry at him for his fuckery later on in the book, he asks her if she's having her period. Make no mistake, this is the kind of man who would blame you for your own rape (e.g. "you shouldn't have worn that skirt, you know what that does to me, you know how your body makes me lose control").

After Schyler gets attacked by a local pimp's (Jigger Flynn) pitbull, she wants to get him hauled in by the cops. That line above is from when Cash takes Schyler to a pitbull fight  to show her what Jigger is really like. But our TSTL heroine decides to go to Jigger's house and shoot his dogs, because that's humanity for ya!  She has the assumption that she and Jigs will talk over this incident like best buds, maybe on the veranda with ice-cold glasses of mint juleps -- and yes, she is that delusional.

Meanwhile, Schyler discovers that:

Her evil sister fired their old black maid, Veda, for being old. Veda's daughter, Gayla, had to drop out of college to support her mother and Jigger turned her into a prostitute. She's pretty enough that he has her live in with him, and refers to her affectionately as "that black bitch." The dead-parents theme continues here, too, as it turns out that her pops died in an oil refinery explosion.

Gayla's old boyfriend, Jimmy Don, is in prison, days for parole. He's good-looking, too, and there are two lovely rape-scenes just for him. One is a gang-rape scene. They do not go into much detail, thank God, but it's still disturbing as hell. Poor Jimmy shouldn't have dropped the soap...

Someone is embezzling funds from her family's logging company, and her beloved home, Belle Terre, has been put up for collateral that's about to be cashed in because she can't pay off her father's loans. Also, the people scheming to do this are not above killing Schyler and/or other people to make this happen.

The first half of the book is a lot better than the second half of the book. The first half was nice, slow build-up. The second-half was just one plot twist after another, rivaling one another in terms of ridiculous, only to be resolved -- in the parlor, of all places -- like some turn-of-the-century whodunnit. SLOW HEAT IN HEAVEN is a low-brow romance novel that falls under the so-bad-it's-good umbrella. The unique plot and shithead characters were entertaining enough that I was able to suspend my disbelief to the point of being able to enjoy the book.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

Rescued by the Buccaneer by Normandie Alleman



Frederica: Lalalala ... I'm on a boat heading to the Colonies! Nothing could go wrong! Oh wait, that looks like a pirate ship! I'd better warn the first mate.

First mate: Shut up, you're a woman. Your expertise is limited to matching one shade of pink to another shade of pink, and sucking cocks. How would you know what a boat looks like? You wouldn't, that's how. Now shut up.

Frederica: *stomps foot* Curse you, you mansplaining dimwit! I'm telling you, I saw a pirate ship!

First mate: Well, I don't see anything. So I'm going to handcuff you as punishment!

Guy in crow's nest: PIRATES!! PIRATES DEAD AHEAD!

Frederica: I hate being right.

Pirates: Arr! Avast! Swashbuckling! Booty! PIRATE THINGS!

Frederica: *knocked unconscious*

Bradford: Hi! I'm a pirate! You're our prisoner. I saved your life.

Cap'n Humphrey: AND NOW YOU'RE MY SLAVE! HAW HAW HAW!

Frederica: Eep.

C.H.: You sleep on the floor. Also, I'm going to spank that ass of yours.

Frederica: You're going to hit my donkey?

C.H.: Virgins. *scoffs* BEND OVER LASS. AYE. AVAST.

Frederica: OW! THIS AROUSES ME! OW! I DO NOT LIKE THIS!

C.H.: Oh ho ho. Your booty be shivering my timbers and raising my sails. But alas, impotent I be, so ye will have to settle for a finger-banging, says I.

Gaston: I am a marooned sailor. Save me! (LOL, I'm also a pirate.)

C.H.: Here's a mop.

Gaston: Hello, lass. Has the captain raped you yet?

Frederica: How dare you!

Gaston: You don't sound outraged enough. He probably just rubbed up against you, and did some other naughty stuff. Guess what, I plan to take over this ship.

Frederica: You're going to get killed!

Gaston: LOL, nope. Now bend over, I'm going to spank you!

C.H.: SO I HEAR YOU TWO WERE PLANNING A MUTINY! ALSO, I HEAR YOU WERE TELLING EVERYONE I AM IMPOTENT, WHICH I AM FAR ANGRIER ABOUT, SO GUESS WHAT BITCH? YOU GET TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A GANG-BANG OR DEATH.

Crew: GANG-BANG! GANG-BANG! GANG-BANG! GANG—

Frederica: I choose death!

Crew: Boooooo.

C.H.: OFF THE PLANK WITH THEM!

Gaston: Can I have some booze?

C.H.: ...Sure, why not. Here you go.

[Frederica and Gaston are pushed off the plank]

Gaston: I have a knife. I'll cut us loose! We'll float to safety! Now take off all your clothes.

Frederica: How can you think of sex at a time like this?

Gaston: It's so you won't sink, dummy, although I'm tempted to fuck you anyway.

[they wash up on an island]

Gaston: Let's have sex. Also, call me Master while we have sex.

Frederica: Ooh, yeah, fuck me, Master, even though I'm a virgin it doesn't hurt at ALL.

Gaston: Hey, guess what, this island is populated. Now bend over so I can spank you.

Frederica: Ooh, yeah, I like being spanked.

Gaston: I'm going to tie you up now.

Frederica: Weeeeee.

Gaston: I have my own ship. I'm a captain. NOW BEND OVER SO I CAN SPANK YOU.

The end.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Flying by Megan Hart



This is my first Megan Hart book and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

When Stella divorced her husband Jeff, CEO of an airline, the only thing she fought him for was to keep her free flights. Now, every other weekend, she dons sexy lingerie, takes her suitcase (named TARDIS), and has one-night stands with men in other cities. She likes sex, it makes her feel good, and helps her forget her problems. Most importantly, it reminds her that she's alive.

When she wears something pretty, even under her rattiest jeans or T-shirt, it reminds her that her body still works. She breathes, she laughs and sighs; she has orgasms.

She's alive (51).

It's unusual to read a romance novel about a sexually active heroine and Stella is an especially responsible one. She always uses protection, she doesn't let men treat her like shit, and she commands respect. That made for a really refreshing read.

One day, when she's at the airport for business instead of pleasure, she meets Matthew at the airport bar. He's also divorced, and also has a dark and troubled past. They hit it off and become lovers and, later, maybe something more. Unfortunately, his bitch ex-wife is still in the picture and is constantly demanding his attention, usually by using his two young girls against him. Bleh.

As if things weren't complicated enough already, Stella also has a sixteen-year-old son named Tristan who is intent on pushing her boundaries any way he can. And he has no qualms about pitting his two parents against each other in order to get what he wants. And now he's about to drive. EEEEEE.

FLYING is a really interesting romance. It's kind of how I would expect Lifetime movies to be like (I don't watch them). Lots of "you go, girl!" and "oh, snap!" moments, BFF girliez moments, and frequent nods to the stereotype that all men are cads. (Unfortunately, my romantic life has been shit enough to make me suspect that this is true. PROVE ME WRONG, MEN. PROVE ME WRONG.)

Towards the end, the drama started getting really over the top and I started cursing Matthew for being such a spineless weenie. I had an ex who was like that with his ex-girlfriend. There is really only so much understanding you can give before you turn into a doormat. On the other hand, FLYING is a great portrait of a less-than-perfect relationship. I loved the ups, the downs, the red hot sex scenes. It was nice to read a well-written romance that actually made me feel things.

And did I mention all the sex, and how hot it was?


I have two other Megan Hart books somewhere in my room and I look forward to reading them. The breezy prose and intense development of supremely flawed characters make FLYING a vastly entertaining, but emotionally wrenching, read. Time to launch into Tiffany Reisz!

3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan



How have I not read any Courtney Milan until now?

Somebody slap me!

I got into historical romance novels about a year (year and a half?) ago. My friends, Louisa and Myrika, were always yapping about them, comparing notes, and I started to feel Jelus.

They gave me a recommendation: Read Lisa Kleypas.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

 "I'm dishonorable and disreputable. I lie and I cheat, and I am telling you plainly that you are only a means to an end for me. I'm not telling you the truth, but overall, I'm not playing you false. You may not know the exact cards I hold, but you will know the score. I promise you that much" (33).

Frederica "Free" Marshall is a suffragette. She runs her own newspaper. She has about 50,000 readers. Women adore her as she champions their life, and makes them think, "By God, I could be more than chattel! Imagine, having more rights to land than a cow or a horse!"

Imagine that.

With the menfolk, however, Free is not quite as popular--especially when they learn that beneath that pretty face is a calculating mind that will not stoop to male subjugation. When a rich snobby man offers to make her his mistress, thinking he is doing her a favor, she refuses him. Obviously, he takes this as an insult, and makes it his business to destroy her whole life.

Enter Edward Clark.

Edward Clark was presumed dead when his family banished him to a war zone as punishment. Once nobility, he is now a rogue and a forger with a dark and twisted past. He also shares the same enemy as Free, albeit for different reasons, and when he learns of the man's plans to destroy Frederica, he approaches the woman himself and offers her a very interesting deal...

And pretty much falls in love with her on sight.

"I married her to unleash her on the world, not to keep her under wraps...I married her because she made me believe in her....Because I wished her beyond your power, not under mine. You have no idea of the debt I owe her. For her I'd do the unthinkable....If she asked me to do it....I'd even forgive you" (244).

A lot of regency and victorian romances can come across as wallpaper historicals, but THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL was amazing. There was so much to like in this book that I cannot.

✾ The dialogue. It was witty, hilarious, and flowed well--not just between the love interests but also the supporting cast, which takes me to the next point...

✾ The supporting cast. It's been a while since I read a book with such a large and engaging supporting cast. You can tell that Ms. Milan really loves her characters; she infuses them all with life, and then writes about them further in the between-the-numbers novellas. That's awesome.

✾ The feminism. Free is a feminist, but she isn't a bitch. She has a realistic, grounded view of what she can accomplish, and she knows that big changes happen gradually.

"Suffragette," she said, "is pronounced with an excalmation point at the end. Like this: 'Huzzah! Suffragettes!'" (10).

✾ The love story. It's realistic, it doesn't happen all at once. There's great chemistry, it's just...great. It's the kind of love you hope to have for yourself one day--a cross between finding the unattainable Disney prince, and falling in love with your best friend. :)

"Love is not a finite quantity" (211).

✾ The love interest. He is now a part of my book boyfriend harem and you cannot have him. Nyah.

"By the time I realized [my heart] existed, it was already yours" (156).



✾ The lesbian couple. There is a lesbian couple in this book. They are adorable. They are also feminists. Their awkward tiptoeing around one another is just...fwahhhh. I love it.

"I lie, I cheat, I steal, and I'll probably drive you away screaming within the week. But if you marry me, I'll only do those things on your behalf" (170).

I could quote from this book all day, and happily, but you should probably just read it yourself.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 25, 2014

If I Were You by Lisa Renee Jones



Sara: I'm a teacher! I'm a good girl! I'm clumsy! And awkward! I'm beautiful but I don't know it! I eat a lot but never gain a pound!

Bella Swan: Holla.

Anastasia Steele: My inner-dissociative-identity-disorder said someone called me?

Sara: No! Go away!

Sara's friend: I bought this storage unit of stuff from someone who stopped paying. Oops, I left my naughty diary at Sara's house!

Sara: Ooh, my friend's diary! I shouldn't read it, because I'm a good girl! *reads it anyway*

Sara's friend: My diary! Oh there it is. It's not actually mine, though. It belongs to this woman called Rebecca. I'm going to post it on ebay and sell it for lots of money!

Sara: That's so unethical! I should be able to keep it and read it for my own curiosity!

Sara's friend: LOL GETTING MARRIED, HERE, HAVE ALL THE STUFF IN THE STORAGE LOCKER INCLUDING THE DIARY.

Sara: I'm going to stalk Rebecca's work place and learn more about her.

Mark Compton: Hi, my name is Christian Grey Mark Compton. I am a brooding, obsessive, manipulative, and possibly sexual deviant billionaire. I must be obeyed in all ways.

Sara: I am afraid that he is a creepy rapist, and yet I am strongly attracted to this.

Chris Merit: Hi, my name is Edward Cullen Chris Merit. I am a brooding, obsessive, manipulative, and possibly sexual deviant millionaire. Also an artist. I am attracted to you and you should run.

Sara: I am afraid that he is a creepy rapist, and yet I am strongly attracted to this.

Chris: You should run from me while you still can. I'll use you up until nothing's left. Nobody is worse than I am. Not even Charles Manson. I'm one sick son of a bitch.

Sara: Keep talking, I'm getting so wet, my panties could put out grassfires.

Mark: I am going to hire you to work at this art gallery. I am also going to fuck with your head, because that is what all good employers do. Also, fill out this multiple choice test, which I will grade.

Random token minorities: Hello! Just popping in to show how not-racist the author is!

Sara: I like these people. That's how you know I'm such a good girl. I find homosexuals and people of color pleasant and nonthreatening. When I see a black person, I don't cross the street!

Random token minorities: Sara is so awesome! She treats us like people! We are not worthy!

Chris: Why haven't you run away yet, baby? Don't you know I'm no good for you, baby?

Sara: Oh, I want him to do terrible things to me like the men in Rebecca's journal. But I am a good girl and good girls aren't allowed to think about sex! I'm so conflicted!!!

Chris: I'm going to fuck you rawer than a chicken egg with salmonella, baby.

Sara: Oh boy!!! I'm going to get fucked! Eeee, I feel so naughty and not at all like a good teacher. *squeals*

Chris: I'm a bad person by the way, baby. You wouldn't want your parents to meet me, baby.

Sara: That means we'll probably be married by the time the series ends, doesn't it?

Chris: Shhh, yes, baby. Now let's fuck ironically against this window, baby.

Sara: I'M AFRAID WE'RE GOING TO FALL TO OUR SPLATTERY DEATHS BUT IF I DO, I WANT IT TO BE WITH YOUR COCK INSIDE OF ME.* (actual paraphrasing from the book)

Chris: I want to do unspeakable things with you, baby, but if I do, you will run away, baby.

Sara: I want you so bad.

Chris: Clearly you haven't been listening to me, baby. LET ME WARN YOU 234342423 MORE TIMES WHILE SENDING YOU MIXED SIGNALS AND INVADING YOUR PERSONAL SPACE.

Sara: You forgot to call me baby at the end of that sentence.

Chris: Did, I, baby? Sorry about that, baby.

Christian Grey: Bitch, not only did you steal my name, you're also stealing my game.

Edward Cullen: Um, you really shouldn't be talking about stealing. You're pretty much me.

Christian Grey: I'm the rapey version of you that only a Twimom with a midlife crisis could dream up. YOU WISH YOU COULD  BE THIS MISOGYNISTIC AND FUCKED UP, MORMON BOY.

Chris: GO THE HELL AWAY.

Christian Grey: Laters, baby.

Sara: We should have sex without a condom!

Chris: That is a stupid idea!

Sara: Boohoohoo you're right that was stupid of me! Not that I was going to have irresponsible sex, but that you've gotten mad at me and think I'm a slut! Boohoohoo!!!

[several chapters of sex]

Chris: You're the first woman I've ever brought home, baby! You're not like other women, baby. Also, even though you haven't had sex in five years, you're awesome at it, baby.

Sara: But I'm so clumsy! And awkward! And innocent! And such a good girl!

Chris: You should run away from me, baby. I haven't said that for a couple chapters, baby, so I'm going to say it again. Also, we should keep our relationship a secret, baby.

Sara: Ooh, he's so dangerous! I hope he doesn't bury my body in an abandoned lumber yard!

Chris: Both my parents are dead, baby. This makes me deep and mysterious, baby.

Sara: My mom's dead, too! OMG! WE HAVE SO MUCH IN COMMON! Like, did you know that I used to be rich, too? But I blame my father for my mother's heart attack! So I live like a poor person to spite him and to make myself into a martyr by moving to Forks San Francisco.

Chris: You're running away from your problems like you should--*pause*--run away from me, baby.

Sara: You're mean! Where did you even get that psychobabble bullshit from?

Chris: The same company that makes Mark's multiple choice interview questionnaire also has a degree papermill, baby. Oh, and so hey, even though I just met you, and this is crazy, I want you to quit your job because your boss wants to have sex with you maybe, baby.

Sara: I'm not quitting my job, but I am not at all alarmed by your possessive, stalkery behavior.

[more sex]

Chris: Oh hey, I bought you designer clothes and a Louis Vuitton bag, baby.

[random motorcycle ride through San Francisco]

Chris: You make me lose control, baby.

[sex scene starts]

[someone knocks on door]

Sara: I'm horny! Go away!

Chris: HOW DARE YOU TAKE CONTROL FROM ME, BABY! THIS SEX SCENE IS OVER, BABY! NOW STRIP, BABY. AND PUT ON YOUR CLOTHES WITH NOTHING UNDERNEATH OR BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN, BABY.

Sara: I bet I'll like those things.

Chris: No, they're terrible, and I'll do them to you anyway if you don't do what I say, baby.

Sara: Oh, I'm so frightened for my life and so turned on by this abuse.

Chris: I've never brought a woman to a gallery showing before, either, baby. But you're not like other women, baby. You don't think for yourself, baby. You don't have self-respect, baby. You don't ask questions like, 'what happened to all the women this psycho dated before?' baby.

[boring passages, nipple fondling, DID WE MENTION THIS BOOK TAKES PLACE IN CALIFORNIA? LOL. LET'S TALK ABOUT WINE AND MAKE JOKES ABOUT WINE.]

Chris: I don't want to do anything to you now because you got drunk, baby.

Sara: Boohoohoo he won't take advantage of me while I'm drunk!

Chris: STOP STUMBLING AND ACTING DRUNK WHILE YOU'RE DRUNK, BABY! YOU MAKE ME SO ANGRY, BABY! I'M GOING TO THREATEN YOU SOME MORE, BABY!

Sara: He's so tortured and I want him so much! I want to fix him! I want to fuck him! Ahhhh!!!!

Chris: Forget about what I said about not fucking you while you're drunk, baby!

Sara: Ohhhhh, I don't feel so good. *vomits*

[Sara wakes up the next morning naked, with Chris cuddling her while he's fully dressed]

Sara: Why aren't YOU naked?

Chris: I didn't want to take advantage of you, even though apparently half-naked spooning is OK.

Sara: Ooh, he wanted to take advantage of me even after I vomited wine and passed out! That means he loves me! And he's thoughtful and considerate too!

Chris: Put on this robe. I am a man, which means I'm also a rape-machine. If I see you naked, my heat seeking missile penis will plow into you and I will be helpless to stop it.

Sara: He's so good to me.

Chris: I want you to go on vacation with me, baby. I'm going to talk to your boss and make him let you go, baby.

Sara: No! I am an independent woman except when I'm not! I want to keep my job! Now let's go to my apartment! I want to show you these journals I found.

Chris: I AM ANGRY AGAIN, BABY. READ THE JOURNAL ALOUD, BABY.

Sara: K.

Chris: I AM GONNA PUNISH YOU SO HARD, BABY. YOU SHOULD REALLY RUN.

[sex scene]

Sara: I'm just SO worried about Rebecca, whom I've forgotten about until now. If I went missing, I'd want someone to look for me.

Chris: (undertone) Don't worry, baby, you'll get your wish sooner than you think.

Sara: What?

Chris: I said, you're so fucking sexy, and I love the way you make me want to do bad things to you.

Mark: HELLO. I BET YOU'D FORGOTTEN ABOUT ME.

Sara: Am I in trouble?

Mark: I HAVE A VIDEO OF CHRIS AND YOU DOING NAUGHTY THINGS.

Sara: AHHH!!! I'M SO SORRY! PLEASE DON'T FIRE ME! I WON'T EVEN ASK WHERE YOU GOT THAT, OR WHY YOU WERE KEEPING IT!

Mark: I OWN YOU.

Sara: I'm sorry.

Mark: CHRIS KNEW THERE WERE CAMERAS. HE'S ONLY WITH YOU TO FUCK WITH ME.

Sara: Boohoohoo. Well at least I'm not getting fired. But now I am angry at Chris! So I am going to cancel all my plans instead of confronting him because no way would the boss that wants to get into my pants and films me making out with people have any reason to lie to me about these things!

Chris: YOU CANCELED PLANS ON ME SO I WAITED OUTSIDE YOUR APARTMENT FOR YOU TO GET HOME FROM WORK, BABY.

Sara: You're so hot. I'm not at all alarmed by this. BUT WHY DID YOU KISS ME IN FRONT OF THOSE CAMERAS? YOU'RE JUST USING ME! BOOHOOHOO!

Chris: MARK IS EVIL, BABY. HE WAS THE MAN REBECCA WAS HAVING BONDAGE SEX WITH, BABY. LET'S GO TO A BONDAGE CLUB THAT MARK OWNS. I WILL SHOW YOU THE TRUTH, BABY.

Sara: OH MY GOD THAT WOMAN IS GETTING CANED! THAT'S SO FUCKED UP! GET ME OUT OF HERE THIS IS SICK AHHHHH.

Chris: It's like an addiction, baby. I used to be addicted, but now I've almost quit, baby. I'm well again, because your magical vagina helped cure me of my BDSM affliction, baby. But Mark doesn't want to be cured and that's why you've got to stay away, baby. BDSM is wrong, baby.

Sara: I can't do this, I can't be like you, boohoohoo.

Chris: But you're the only thing that can heal me from my BDSM addiction, baby!

Sara: This is too much! I'm tired of being an adult! I'm going to run away and wangst! And also go to this storage locker by myself because even though people are watching me all the time, I'M SURE IT'LL BE FINE--OH GOD SOMEONE IS IN THE STORAGE LOCKER WITH ME.

CLIFFHANGER.

---

This is pretty much FIFTY SHADES OF GREY with a very loose, erotic retelling of REBECCA thrown in for kicks. Since Daphne DuMaurier's novel is one of my all-time favorite works of gothic fictions, I was super excited to read IF I WERE YOU because I was so sure it would be amazing.

Nope.

In fact, it was really, really, really boring.

And disturbing.

Here are some quotes:

"I shouldn't be aroused. Not by painful pleasure and bondage" (24).

BDSM is wrong.

"[BDSM] has been my drug of choice. My way of feeling nothing. But I do feel now. I feel with you and for you. What it did for me it can't do for me anymore" (344)

Seriously, if you like BDSM, you need to be cured of it asap, because you're fucked up in the head.

Any man who isn't married by thirty-five is either gay or he's got skeletons in his closet (62).

If you don't get married, you're gay or fucked-up in the head. Nobody sane wants to be alone.

"I'm going to make you sure you are so thoroughly fucked that being fucked has a new meaning" (179).

Would that make this the 'hipster fuck,' or the 'anti-fuck'? Is it ironic or antithetical?

If I am going to die, I want it to be with this man inside me (184).

Sex is more important than being safe.

"Get the condom, baby."

"We don't need it," I whisper, so ready for him I hurt with need. "I'm on the pill" (201).

What I said above.

And then there's Chris.

"I'm trying to protect you here. This world you've strayed into is filled with dark, messed-up, arrogant assholes who will play with your mind and use you until there is nothing else for you to recognize yourself" (137).

"I am not the guy you take home to Mom and Dad, Sara" (174)

"I'm still not the guy who'll give you a white picket fence" (225).

I'm not sure why he's warned me away so much, but I'll say it for him. He's dangerous and I've never wanted to live on the edge more in my life (228).

"Mark wants to fuck you, Sara, and I don't share. You're with me or you're not. Decide now" (237).

The dark Chris, the dangerous damaged Chris I keep forgetting exists, is back. What just happened to set him off? And damn it to hell, why does it turn me on when it shouldn't? (258)

"I've broken rules with you, important rules I've lived by, and you're the one who'll pay the price" (293).

"Yes. I'm a jerk. The kind of jerk you don't deserve" (294).

"I should scare the shit out of you and throw those damn journals away" (313).

0 out of 5 stars.

In Real Life by Lawrence Tabak



Where were the Seth Gordons of the world when I was in high school? Little old bookish me would have fallen for him on sight.

This is going to be a long review, because I have a lot of things that I would like to discuss about IN REAL LIFE. Most of them good.

1. This is a young-adult book narrated in first person by a boy.

That's kind of nice. A lot of YA tends to have female narrators and there's only so many variations of "girl on fringe gets sexy popular guy and becomes queen of the school" that I can take before I start to feel a little sick from all the saccharine sweetness of it.

Seth Gordon falls in love, too, and when he does it is very cute. I loved Hannah, even though she is a manicpixiedreamgirl. I liked the natural progression of their relationship, and how they didn't have insta-love so much as a gradual, profound attraction.


There is none of this.

I really liked that. It was realistic. So was the awkwardness and the ups and downs of their relationship. Tabak doesn't portray love as this all-consuming thing; it's a stage in your life that you hope will last, but sometimes it doesn't, either because of circumstance or because one person wasn't as invested in it as the other person, or whatever. Shit happens.

2. This is about a boy who wants to play video games professionally.

I can relate to this on two levels.

Seth plays a game called Starfare, which sounds a bit like a cross between WoW, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Runescape, and Skyrim. He wants to enter the professional gaming circuit but in order to do that he'll have to play in Korea, where the big leagues are. Seth knows that he is almost good enough but the lack of support from his parents, who see it as fucking off, is discouraging.

Being an indie author is really similar in a lot of ways. Like Seth's parents, mine want to be supportive, but they also don't really see my writing career as being very likely to succeed--at least from a lucrative standpoint. You have to sell a lot of books to make enough money to live off of. Tabak really captures what it feels like to struggle to achieve your dreams when it feels like the whole world is either actively or passively discouraging you. So yeah, that hit me like a fist to the gut.

I also played Runescape back in high school and my first two years of college. I was addicted, and for a while, I was one of the high-ranked players (high enough to show on the site scoreboard, anyway). I would play for hours, sometimes just trying to boost my score. I wasn't trying to play professionally or anything, it was just great escapism. And Tabak captures that, too. You know you're playing a game, but it's like a part of your soul gets sucked into the screen, and when you're on there kicking ass with a fire spell or achieving a level-up in mining or archery or something, you feel powerful.

I feel a little silly writing that now, but it's the truth. Gaming can feel very empowering.

Another thing I thought was done really well was the online stalkers. If you become well known enough on any site, you will get stalkers! I have some! (Which totally makes me think of this song.) So I could sympathize with Seth and his archnemesis, Stomp. His reactions were pretty aligned with mine, somewhere between, "What the fuck is this person's deal?" and "how did I even get on their radar in the first place?"

3. This is a book that says that sometimes our dreams don't turn out the way we want them to.

Seth does end up going to Korea (minor spoiler), but once there he realizes that things aren't exactly all pie in the sky. He experiences culture shock. His coach is less interested in training him than in whoring him out for advertising campaigns and scapegoating him when things go wrong. His teammates don't speak English well (or at all) and seem to resent his presence. Yikes!

I'm not really sure how accurate this portrayal of Korea is, so it would be interesting if any of my Korean friends end up reading this to see what they think. I did read a book about Korean pop culture a few months ago, and a lot of this stuff--the advertising campaigns over talent, the jingoism, the very odd hangups about sexy/punk-style appearances--rang true.

4. This is a book that drags a little, especially towards the end.

The beginning was so awesome but the pacing really started to flag starting about halfway through the book. Never to the point where I was bored and wanted to stop reading, but it was noticeable and I did get a little impatient. I started skimming through some of his whinefests about how much being in Korea sucked, because after a while all his rants started to sound the same, although this did lend a realistic bent to the book--we can all sound like broken records when we're pissed or upset.

5. The supporting cast is pretty awesome.

I loved the young English teachers Seth met in the cafe. Sarah and the Australians were awesome. I loved Annie and Kim, and their adorable little interracial video game aficionado, Alex. I wanted to marry Professor Song (sexy Asian math professors, mmmmm). I loved Hannah. I even liked Garrett (well, no, he was kind of a womanizing creep, but Seth loved him anyway, and through Seth's eyes he was tolerable, because we love our family members even if they wreak havoc, right?).

6. I really liked the fact that being a geek in this book was not interchangeable with being a social pariah.

Seth has a crush on the popular girl in school. She knows this, but doesn't make fun of him for it or spread cruel rumors about him. She's actually--gasp--nice! He has good social skills. But he's really really nerdy and sometimes he makes jokes or observations that other people don't understand.

I will say that his agreement with the professor struck me as a little unrealistic and that was just kind of random, but it led to a plot twist at the end of the book that was necessary for an HEA so I get it.

7. Overall, this is a very sweet and flattering portrayal of nerds/geeks who like to play videogames.

And yes, there is a difference.

3.5 out of 5 stars.