Thank you for reading!

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Hello, to all who stumble across this blog. I appreciate your readership, whether first time or long-time reader. Every set of eyes is appreciated, and I have enjoyed posting and interacting with readers here on WordPress.

Honestly, I never planned to write and publish erotica forever. Writing erotica short stories was a way of getting myself to write more, and I was kind of thinking I might as well try publishing them to cash in on the current craze for them. I did not really cash in, but it’s been a fun time, and I have met some interesting people.

Thank you, everyone, but Bambi Quim is retiring. I will probably keep my works up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, for now, but I will no longer be blogging, tweeting, or otherwise doing social media. Happy 2017 everyone! I hope this year brings you good things.

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Pobody’s Nerfect

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I was graciously provided with an advanced reader’s copy of Sophie Kinsella’s recently released My (not so) Perfect Life via Netgalley.

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Here is the synopsis from Penguin Random House:

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

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Full confession: I am one of those few people who was actually not a fan of Confessions of a Shopaholic.

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*sigh* … I know

Yet I liked My Not So Perfect Life. It was not exactly written in the way that I would have liked – there were some cringeworthy moments, and some moments where the writing was a bit over the top. But there were also moments that made me giggle, and overall, I felt a strong connection to the story.

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I’m going I let you guys in on a little secret: I am not perfect. I would love to be, but I’m not.

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Katie works in marketing, a job that demands creative thinking, grueling hours, and can feel pretty thankless. This description likely sounds familiar to anyone who works a white-collar job.

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I would actually highly recommend this novel for work-book clubs, because it could facilitate discussion regarding many aspects of work-life relationships:

  • Work-life balance
  • Relationships with co-workers
  • The importance of hard work
  • Being true to yourself
  • Perception vs. reality
  • Teamwork
  • Goals, and how to achieve them

Sophie Kinsella creates characters who are believable and relatable, and if you are feeling overwhelmed, trying to find your place in the world, or looking for the next book for your book club, then you might enjoy My (not so) Perfect Life.

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2:1 – Two Books I Didn’t Finish that weren’t Completely Awful

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I recently received, and tried to read, a couple of ARCs from Netgalley.

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One of these was James William Brown’s My Last Lament,

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the other, Alyssa Maxwell’s A Pinch of Poison.

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I was unable to finish either of them, not necessarily because they were bad – they just weren’t for me.

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James William Brown’s tale is epistolary, a format I generally dislike. You meet Aliki, a lamenter, which is basically a person who professionally laments. You can read about them in Classical Greek works – at the funeral, you’ve got your coffin, your pallbearers, and your grieving women, who cry/scratch their faces/pull out their hair (aka, lament). Aliki has been approached by one of those young, ambitious educational people, who are seeking a PhD and need juicy subject matter to force themselves to write their thesis about. This chick wants to know about lamenting, and has provided Aliki with a tape recorder, since initial meetings were not very forthcoming (and also, it’s a tape recorder, which must be wicked cheap these days since everyone can just record on their smart phones now). But Aliki doesn’t want to talk about lamenting. She wants to lament on behalf of herself, on behalf of her village, which she witnessed nearly torn asunder by the awful World War II.

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That is, unfortunately, all that I know. I did not get very far in this novel, because while the tape recording makes sense (a woman who makes her living by vocalizing grief will, of course, choose an oral, rather than written, method, to vocalize her own), I just generally don’t like epistolary novels. And this one was no exception. I am a fan of the subject matter, and think that if you do not have the intense hatred for epistolary novels that I do, you should most definitely give it a try.

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Alyssa Maxwell’s story is a mystery, set in the early twentieth century, and is the second book of a series in which a “lady” named Phoebe and her “maid” Eva since mysteries and talk about the plight of women. Phoebe’s all “Oh no, I’m supposed to find a husband and take care of the house, but all I really want to do is put myself in danger, get my maid in trouble, and flirt poorly with this guy I will obviously get married to and take care of his house later.” Eva’s like “I’m totes fine with being a maid. I’m good at it. I fucking LOVE it. But really, secretly, I don’t love it, which is why I’m trying to Sherlock Holmes my way through some local murders with my mistress, hoping that this will somehow get me out of my servants role. Also, I’m going to pretend I don’t like this constable guy, even though I’m obviously totally into him and I’m going to marry him and take care of his house and lose my role of lady’s maid that way.” Also, there are annoying schoolgirls, the headmistress dies, and I don’t really care who committed the murder. A mediocre mystery. But some people like those.

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Are YOU in the mood for a mediocre mystery?

Those are two books that I could not finish recently. What about you? Did you pick something up, hoping to love, or at least like, it, and become sorely disappointed? Let me know the last book you Could. Not. Finish. below!

Tape recorder image: J.smith at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Manners, Horses, & Brilliance

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On March 2, 2010, an indie film called Gentlemen Broncos was released on DVD.

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The weekend before this release, I obtained a copy and watched it. Not through illegal means – I was actually working at a video store at the time, and we were supposed to watch the movies previous to release to enable us to make recommendations. Yet the majority of the income from rental of this DVD, once it was available to rent, likely came from me. I was obsessed.

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Fair Question

For those who don’t know what this movie is about, it follows a boy in a small town in Utah who likes to write stories. He lives with his mom, and they don’t have a lot of money, but they love each other and have each other’s best interests at heart. His mother agrees that they should spend some of their meager income to enable him to attend a writing conference, at which one of his favorite authors teaches some of the classes. He submits his recently finished novella to a writing competition that is part of the conference, and the favorite author ends up plagiarizing his work.

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I turned this movie on recently upon seeing it available on HBO (I reluctantly agreed to a cable package to save costs on internet, because I live in the Bay Area, where you would think everyone would collectively agree regular internet access should go for about $20 per month, but instead, we pay too much for internet that’s shittier than the lower-cost internet I was able to receive in hick towns in the midwest). I was feeling nostalgic, and remembered that I had really liked it a lifetime ago (because holy shit, how was 2010 seven years ago, already).

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Now, I might like it even more.

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I know…

One thing I have been dealing with lately is the realization that life is probably never going to feel easy. I was never good-looking enough, and am now too old, to be a trophy wife, which means I’m probably always going to struggle with money. And even trophy wives have to deal with bad sex and pay therapists to help them deal with feeling like a necrophiliac. Life is hard, and other people take advantage of you, and sometimes it feels like you’re never going to get ahead. This struggle is something that this movie acknowledges – freely, and in a way that helps you laugh. And then, it also reminds you that sometimes, life’s not so bad.

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Grotesque, weird, & slightly funny

The movie also includes Jemaine,

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the kid from Sky High & the hilarious Jennifer Coolidge,

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and a plethora of other talented actors. If you haven’t seen it, I highly, highly, highly recommend it.

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I know, I know – but seriously, I am. #watchit
Plagiarism comic: Nina Paley [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Wicked Boy

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So… I actually read The Wicked Boy, written by Kate Summerscale, last year, meant to review it, and completely spaced.

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#whoops

The Wicked Boy was released in July 2016, and is a nonfiction account of an actual matricide perpetuated in Victorian London. 13-year-old Robert Coombes stabbed his mother while his father was out at sea. Summerscale carefully researched this account, and writes the details in a competent and fairly interesting manner. Did Robert have conspirators? If so, how involved were they? Why would Robert have committed the crime that he did? What happened after the murder was discovered? All aspects considered within this book.

However.

When I picked this book up, I was expecting a fictional narrative. And this work, while interesting, does not provide me with the closure that a novel could have given. In a fiction work you can come up with a specific reason – Robert was protecting his brother, for instance – for the crime. In a non-fiction, research book, no definitives can be given. While this lack of closure is because the crime actually occurred, and people are messy, as are their motivations for doing things. Going into the book with that expectation, however, resulted in my feeling sorely disappointed when it was not furnished. As such, my main criticism of the novel is not a criticism against the author; it is, instead, a warning for readers. If you’re not generally a non-fiction fan, there’s a good chance you won’t like this book.

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Expectations can make or break an experience

My other quibble with this book, is that I felt that last several chapters were unnecessary. Because Summerscale cannot provide resolution regarding the murder, she attempts to provide it by exploring the life that Robert Coombes lived afterwards, which *spoiler alert!*seems to indicate that he was able to come to terms with whatever motivations led to the matricide, and become a productive citizen. While I feel that I understand what she was trying to accomplish – maybe people can change! If provided with the appropriate tools and opportunities – it didn’t quite work for me. Perhaps if the last few chapters had been condensed, it would have worked for me. But the way it’s currently written, the ending drags on, and I certainly don’t care as much about the resolution as the author herself.

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Overall, this book was… okay. I think that true crime buffs, and non-fiction readers interested in information about England in the Victorian era will find it interesting. Intrigued and wishing it were a novel? Give it a pass. Researching middle-class crime in the Victorian era? Give it a read.

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Will you like it? Like so much in life, it depends.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? I would love to read them!

Update: How did I do in my 10 Books in 2016 Challenge?

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Um… well, I didn’t quite make it. Though I’m fairly certain I read more than 10 books before 2016 had ended, not all of them were from the list I created last August. This post will provide the 10 Books in 2016 Challenge Update: (aka, it’s now 2017, so here’s specific detail on how I did).

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  1. The Glass-Blowers By Daphne DuMaurier

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2. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

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3. Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

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4. The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale

  • STATUS: Read in 2016 #yay
  • Blog post

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5. The Room: A Novel by Jonas Karlsson

  • STATUS: Did not read in 2016 #boo

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6. Odd Girl Out by Elizabeth Jane Howard

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7. Off the Page by Jodie Picoult

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8. Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming

  • STATUS: Did not read in 2016 #boo

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9. The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida

  • STATUS: Did not read in 2016 #boo

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10. L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad

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In conclusion, I read 7 of the 10 books chosen for the 10 Books in 2016 Reading Challenge. I didn’t knock the challenge out of the park, but I’m happy with my results.

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How did your 2016 reading go? Or what are you aiming to achieve in 2017? I would love to hear about your accomplishments and your goals in the comments!

Fighting for Your Right to Be Who You Are

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Okay, I know the title makes it appear that this is a political post, but bear with me. I am not going to discuss our current political climate; I am going to review Walker Long’s upcoming work, Swapship Troopers:

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Swapship Troopers is available for pre-order on Amazon, slated for release on Thursday, January 19. I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of this work, and in a snapshot, guys: I highly recommend.

Swapship Troopers is a satiric take on Robert A. Heinlein’s work Starship Troopers. Private Quantrill is in the marine corps, putting his life on the line in the war against Bugs. These aren’t your regular, disgusting creepy crawlies. These bugs are gigantic alien species who can easily render even the most skilled fighters lifeless in a matter of seconds.

In addition to having their lives on the line, there is also the question of whether or not they’re doing much living. In the midst of war, there is one thing, in particular, that people tend to miss: la petite mort.

Luckily for these soldiers, there are some genetically altering drugs that allow for some fun times…

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This work is fun. You don’t have to have already read Starship Troopers in order to enjoy it (although you might enjoy the work more if you have read it; I actually cannot comment on that, since I haven’t). Yet, this book is not simply an erotic fiction; it is a piece of fiction that happens to contain erotic scenes. Due to the opportunity at first thrust upon him, and later provided to him, Quantrill learns about himself, while simultaneously having to deal with the preconceptions and expectations that come with the very idea, as well as embodiment of womanhood.

I was impressed with the manner in which Long portrayed the developing romance and Quantrill’s self-awareness, which add an element of sweetness to the story. This sweetness is juxtaposed with the brutality of the war being fought, as well as steamy sex scenes.

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#steamy

I really liked this novella. Have you read it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!