Month: June 2015

Book Review: Light a Candle for the Beast

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free glitter text and family website at FamilyLobby.com

As someone who’s written a re-telling of Rapunzel and a variant of The Sleeping Beauty, it should come as no surprise that I like fairy tales. Due to this predilection, I recently downloaded and read Echo Shea’s Light a Candle for the Beast: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling. It promised to be a dark re-telling of a tale most of us associate with a Disney movie featuring talking housewares.

A_Bela_e_a_Fera_-_The_Beauty_and_the_BeastImage by Giovana Milanezi from Criciúma, Brasil [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

Unfortunately, Light a Candle for the Beast wasn’t for me. The story has numerous five-star ratings on Amazon, and the writing of the story has its moments, it just… wasn’t for me.

light a candle

Light a Candle for the Beast is a gothic novella, with witches, dark spells, a need for vengeance, and regret for what could have been. The beauty has been beaten, disfigured, and ultimately, killed. The beast has been punished, broken, and only wants to die. The protagonists of the fairy tale are discussed by a biased third-party who has also been punished by her association with them.

Not bad concepts, it just… didn’t hold my interest. Have you read it? What did you think? Do you have any favorite fairy tale retellings?

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Book Review: This Time, Baby

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Today, I will be reviewing Selena Kitt’s erotica short story This Time, Baby. I feel like the models on the cover are older than the characters they’re supposed to be portraying, but they’re also really attractive, so I’m willing to just enjoy it.

this time, baby

Step-siblings Jared and Audrey are incredibly attracted to each other. Jared is a ripped nerd with a penchant for his blonde, bubbly step-sister. Audrey notices Jared’s hot bod, but has so much fun teasing him, that she won’t let him have sex missionary style. But how long is Jared going to allow her to tease him without insisting on satiation?

Selena Kitt is a good writer, but this particular story didn’t work for me. I think because Audrey didn’t work for me. The sex scenes would have been hot, if I hadn’t been so turned off by Audrey’s “flirting,” which consisted of corny jokes and excessive use of the word “bruh.”

image

An interesting thing about this story, as well as some other erotica I’ve read, is its’ emphasis on the vagina. I find it interesting that the characters in some stories almost treat the vagina like the Holy Grail. In this story, for example, oral sex and anal sex occurred, but despite the fact that Jared was able to achieve orgasm, he is continually frustrated that he has not yet had access to his step sister’s kitty. I feel like this veneration of the vulva is correlated to the fixation with pregnancy.

In a lot of older/more experienced men with younger/less experienced women stories, there is the concept of ownership I discussed in my last post, which often extends into the realm of childbirth. “You are going to have my baby” type of conversations, etc. Sometimes, however, the conversation goes the other way. “Don’t worry about a condom. I want to have your baby.” Is the possibility of pregnancy making the activity more dangerous? Or is it an allusion to intimacy so strong that the addition of a child is not terrifying? Or, perhaps, a glaring signal that the girl in this interaction does not entirely understand what she’s getting into?

Grumpy-Kitty

I can’t recommend This Time, Baby, simply because the characters didn’t work for me. If you’re a story-driven reader rather than a character-driven reader, however, and the ideas of teasing, games, and semi-incestuous relationships turns you on, definitely give it a try.

Also, let me know your opinion of the vagina in the comments below. Is it really the Holy Grail of sex? Or is this a literary/erotica thing?

Ownership, Rich Kids, & Word Counts

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Today, let’s discuss Lucy Leroux’s novelette Confiscating Charlie.

Confiscating Charlie

For those of you wondering what the fuck a novelette is, the term seems to refer to a work that is longer than a short story yet shorter than a novella. Generally, the length meeting this definition seems to be more than 7,500 words, but not exceeding 17,500 words.

#wordcount
#wordcount

With our vocabulary lesson out of the way, we can get down to the real issues: Shit that bothered me while reading this story.

What do you mean, it's not all about me?
What do you mean, it’s not all about me?

In many ways, Confiscating Charlie could be regarded as a fairy tale. Poor girl raised by her cruel, uncaring sister, is saved by a rich boy who awakens her sexual passion while providing her with comfortable living arrangements. Another way of viewing this scenario is that an older man with a Master’s degree under his belt seduced a young, inexperienced girl into becoming his mistress.

Knight in shining armor or dick with a sword?
Knight in shining armor or dick with a sword?

The sex that Charlie and Alex have in this book is sexy, so as far as erotica goes, it’s not that I don’t think this story fits the bill. In fact, in general, I have personally always been slightly enchanted by the idea of an older, more experienced man seducing a younger girl (although not, like, not even legally adult young, which this book and most erotica tastefully avoid by making the girl old enough to avoid statutory rape). What really bothered me in Confiscating Charlie was the concept of ownership.

birdcage
In the end, Charlie’s really just a songbird in a cage.

When Alex takes Charlie’s virginity, which both of them are really into, he gets possessive. Although he’s willing to put on a condom for Charlie’s first time, he also informs her that she needs to go on birth control soon, for some supposedly romantic reason, but really just pointing out that he’s an asshole who thinks he can dictate what a woman does with her body before he’s dating her or has even had sex with her. A star-eyed Charlie tells him that she’s already on birth control, and he tosses the condom away, adding litterbug to his list of offenses (not to mention potentially putting Charlie at risk for STDs).

No littering! Don't you see the sign?
No littering! Don’t you see the sign?

Then, after getting her all hot and bothered, Alex makes Charlie say that she “belongs” to him, out loud, before he will penetrate her. This requirement is being made to a virgin who has never even been kissed before, and who does not seem to get affection from her family or anyone else, and whom Alex has known for less than a month.

bitch_please_-_blk_mens_cu_1

Of course she does it. I mean, the novelette is realistic, in that 19-year-old girls tend to be idiots, particularly when they think they’re in love. (I was no exception.) Yet something the novelette does not touch on is the fact that Alex’s demand is not okay. A person does not belong to another person, whether we’re talking about slaves or romantic partners. A person belongs to him- or herself. It’s not romantic to let someone else treat you like livestock, just some possession that they own and to whom they can do whatever they wish. A woman is not a cow, and it is not okay to say otherwise.

This is a cow, NOT a woman. One can be property, the other cannot.
This is a cow, NOT a woman. One can be property, the other cannot.

Now, this novelette is erotica. It is aimed at adults. People are entitled to be turned on by whatever works. I just worry sometimes that we don’t think through what is turning us on and realize the problems and issues. If you realize something is problematic, but take guilty pleasure in it on an idea level upon which you wouldn’t act, that is one thing. But do we realize these things are problematic? Do we realize that saying “I belong to you” is acting like cattle? Or are we buying into media-produced ideas of romanticism that are potentially damaging?

I am not turned on by being treated like property; I want to be treated like a human. Am I just being harsh on this idea because it doesn’t turn me on, personally?

I don’t know. Feel free to comment on this idea below!

On Looking Back

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I recently read this lyrically worded blog post by Brain Popsicles that discussed looking back, and realizing what an idiot you were when younger. In particular, this post was discussing writing, and how the things that you wrote when younger are often cringeworthy when re-read at a more mature age.

In a way, I can see the benefits of looking back. You can let yourself feel the humiliation of what your younger self considered literary just enough to remember to be humble. Or you can focus on the degree by which your writing has improved, and congratulate yourself on maturing as a writer.

Yet, for some of us, looking back too often is not the best idea. For some people, looking back at the past can be paralyzing, can prevent current creativity.

Personally, for me, I thought of Edna Mode from “The Incredibles” when she meets up with Mr. Incredible and agrees to patch up “the hobo suit” which she designed.

edna quoteSuch a healthier attitude for me.

What about you? Do you often re-read your prior work? Do you feel this action helps or hinders your creativity?

Let Down Your Hair

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“Everything came easy for William. Even me…”

Arthur_Rackham_Rapunzel

So begins “Let Down Your Hair,” a re-telling of Rapunzel.

This short story is narrated by Maeghan, the faerie who has been wronged by quite a few people during her life. How did the “wicked witch” end up with and successfully raise a baby girl, anyway? Maybe she wasn’t so evil after all…

Providing back story and sensationalism, “Let Down Your Hair” is a tale of love, found and lost, and personal strength, told by an ostracized woman who may have to fear for her life.

Book Review: The World Before Us

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I recently finished Aislinn Hunter’s The World Before Us. Just look at this gorgeous cover:

The World Before Us

The World Before Us is generally told from the viewpoint of a multitude of people who, at first, are not sure who they are. All they are sure of is that they are dead.

Ooooooh. #spookysounds
Ooooooh. #spookysounds

This ghostly posse are tethered somehow to a woman named Jane (she’s alive). Jane seems unaware of her personalized ghostly processional, yet with her love of old mysteries, including the tragic disappearance of a girl she was babysitting at 15, it makes sense that she would be haunted.

Jane = archivist = sleuth
Jane = archivist = sleuth

This novel was interesting. While it initially seems slated to be a mystery, and does, in fact, discover many facts, overall, this book delves into the subject matter of what it is to live, to be alive, as well as points out the dangers of becoming too enmeshed into the past. Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely. Yet I would not recommend it to everyone, because there are many readers who would feel frustrated, particularly with the manner in which the book is ends. This book, while well written, while interestingly characterized, is not meant to have all loose ends tied up. This book deals with life too realistically for that, and as anyone who is currently living (hopefully you are one of them) knows, life has a lot of loose ends.

C'est la vie #shrug
C’est la vie #shrug

On the universally agreed-upon 5-star scale, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. The writing is generally good, yet not always as lyrical as it could be. The ending will frustrate some, though I liked it. This book makes the reader think, which is generally a good thing, yet not always desired.

This book makes you think.
This book makes you think.

What are you reading? Do you have any recommendations?

Love Songs Gone Wrong: This is NOT How You Do It

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Have you noticed that lately, love songs have been poorly written? Maybe it’s just me being a curmudgeon, but here are some of the songs I like to crinkle my nose at in disgust and say: “If you are going to write me a love song, you are not allowed to do this…”

Do not start your love song off with:

What would I do without your smart mouth?

I don’t know. But you’re about to find out what I can do with my smart foot.

Somali_Wild_Ass_pair

Ugh, I can’t tell if this song is about a sex addict or a stalker. Just… no.

I’m hurting, baby, I’m broken down
I need your loving, loving, I need it now
When I’m without you
I’m something weak
You got me begging
Begging, I’m on my knees

I want cling wrap on my sandwich... I don't want to date it.
I want cling wrap on my sandwich… I don’t want to date it.

Image courtesy of dvs (Flickr: sandwich) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I usually love me some Ellie Goulding, but really?

So love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do
Love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do
Touch me like you do, to-to-touch me like you do

As opposed to loving you like someone else? These lyrics aren’t touching, and they don’t really make sense.

So, which
So, which “me” do you want – Jekyll or Hyde?

Okay, probably not actually considered a love song, but I have to include these lyrics, which are just too funny:

Can I hit it in the bathroom? Put your hands on the toilet
I put one leg on the tub
Girl, that’s my new dance move, I just don’t know what to call it
But bitch you dancing with the stars
I ain’t nothin’ like your last dude, what’s his name? Not important
I bought some cocaine if you snortin’
And she became a vacuum, put it on my dick like carpet
Suck the white off white chocolate

Let’s add comparing female genitalia to household appliances on our “don’t do this in a love song” list.

#notavagina
#notavagina

Are there any popular “love” songs that get under your nerves? Please share in the comments below!