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review 2017-07-14 08:49
Treatise and character study
Anna Karenina - Larissa Volokhonsky,Richard Pevear,Leo Tolstoy

The foremost impression I'm left with, since I have the last part very present, is this literary symmetry: Anna takes about sixty pages to come in, by train, and leaves the book sixty pages from the end, also by train (yes, I know, some dark humor).

Next, also with the end very present, this sense that in the end, Levin and Ana essential difference is that when doubt harasses them, Levin goes back to what feels natural to him and trudges on, and Anna gives into despair.

For all that it's name comes from the woman, larger than life in the outside, and deeply uncertain on the inside, it was Levin the vehicle for most of the author treatise on... well, everything: agrarian reform, women's education, religion, politics, war, ideologies... At first I was interested. Passing the middle point, I just wanted the author to get on with it. I've gone over this many times: I have little patience for authors trying to educate or reform me through fiction.

While the Levin/Kitty side of the novel carries the most heart-warming bits, it's also choke-full of opinions, so whenever we got to it, instead of feeling like I was resting from Anna's turbulence, I started to feel dread at the amount of pages Tolstoy was about to bore me with his "insight". I totally get why the movies gloss so much over this side of the equation.

And it is some type of equation, or coin. I wonder if the author was trying to make Anna into a personification of reason, given the stab he takes at it in relation with faith in the end, with Levin as this second, him being unable to properly express himself, but finding peace with his own being at the end; Anna all poise, yet false, forever uncertain inside, speech coming out pleasant while thoughts looped and spun in place without answer. Also, passion vs. love. And romantic feeling against filial.

As for characters (beyond the two protagonist, because, you know, so mired into the theme), they were all so damned well fleshed out:

Vronsky with his honorable selfishness: I know it sounds like a contradiction, but the guy truly does not realize the damage he does, and in his own way, he follows a code of conduct strictly. It's horrifying.

Karenin... *sigh* Anna calls him a robot. At first, it looks like she's just over-reacting to her new feelings, ascribing the worst to her obstacle. It turns out she is over-reacting, but she's also somewhat right. The guy is a wonder of self-discipline, in his life and even where his feelings and though process is concerned. The way he twist and rearranges facts and ideas to suit himself is a thing to read. While writing this, I also wonder if his influence wasn't arresting much of Anna's internal disorder, if she didn't loose what little was keeping her peace when she left him, or if it was the other way around: a wild mare kept in tight reign, that suddenly tasted freedom and galloped non-stop into the abyss, with Vronsky spurring her.

Kitty with her innocence; Vronsky breaks her heart, but after some false steps, she comes on the other side just as sweet, and wiser.

Dolly and her big heart. Stiva forever on the rope by the miracle of his social nature. Sanctimonious Lidia. Betsy, so liberal but in the end unwilling to forsake societies constraints. Sergey and his empty rhetoric. Nikolay and his nihilism. Varenka.

I guess there was much more in all those many pages than proselytism. You can disregard this whole paragraph, I'm claiming that Levin ruined me, but really? Last night I went to sleep, and kept wondering: how much of these explorations impulse change? Much of what is disused in dialogues here feels like sides talking to hear themselves, not to seek understanding, and I was left thinking about social change, and whether writing heralds it, or just meanders over what society has already started to accept or war upon. I noticed many of the topics expounded on came and passed, discarded by history, yet things that are barely touched upon, like womens rights and education became an issue not long after that endures. What I'm trying to say, and I'm treading on deeply personal and weird territory here, is that I started to doubt how much social commentary in literature looks forward, and how much it's just a soap box for the author.

So, *wheoo!*, that's a looong commentary on a loooong book, and I'm still unsure what I'll rate it. No, I do know. It's really good, and as a character study is great, but I don't think it perfect because, for me, if you are going to fill a novel with ideology, it has to age well, and it has to engage even on those bits. So 4 stars.

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review 2017-05-14 05:10
complicated feelings
The Saint - Tiffany Reisz

First off, this book goes some dark places.  Because it's enevitable that it's going to be compared to 50 Shades of Grey (and probably Silvia Day's Crossfire series), fuck it, I'll go there.  50 Shades wants to pretend it gives Christian a dark and tortured past.  The Saint looks at 50 Shades and laughs it's ass off.


And yeah, I get why there's bible verses and some religion involved.  The main love interest IS a priest (and a sadist), so that makes sense, but it's just super weird for me.


The Saint is the 5th Original Sinners book (the first of "The White Years"), and while it "takes place" after 4 books, 90% of the book is the telling of Eleanor/Nora's introduction to Soren, Kingsley, and BDSM... so reading it first basically means you're just reading backstory and it all works out.  Actually, it looks like most of "The White Years" books (5-8)take place before "The Red Years" (books 1-4).


I do want to give Reisz for probably one of the few erotic romance books I've read that actually uses "clitoris," "vagina," "penis," and "erection."  There's one or two cases of more flowery/euphemistic language, but very little... and it was kind of awesome to read a book that uses proper words and does it well.


But back to the first paragraph. things starts out with sexual tension between a 15 year-old and a 28 year-old.  It's a BDSM novel, so expect all sorts of things there (if you don't like bondage and sadism, don't read this book).  There is also mention of rape, abuse, and incest - not as active parts of the story, but as spoken confession/revelation.

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review 2017-05-07 20:49
GHOST (Boston Underworld Book 3) - A. Zavarelli




♪♫My Pick For Book Theme Song♫♪

Drown by Bring Me The Horizon  --Talia's song, and Alexi's song too, but before they did their own version of healing.♫



Book Title:  Ghost

Author:  A Zavarelli

Narration:  Tracy Marks

Series:  Boston Underworld #3

Genre:  Mafia, Dark Romance

Publisher:  A Zavarelli

SourceI received audiobook via Audiobook Boom

in exchange for an honest review.


Add to Goodreads






My Thoughts


Some of the others who have read this book, have loved it. And yet, the reasons that they loved it so much more than the first two books, are the same reasons that I did not like as much as the first two books.  The biggest of those reason's being that it's darker than the first two stories.  Darker in a way that makes it physically painful to read at times.


Talia's story is sad and heartbreaking, and yet I didn't really feel like I connected to her as much as I wanted too.  Alexi is clearly broken too, and his story is heartbreaking, but made even more so by the treatment of his family or Vory as they're called.  I'm just not feeling this Vory…their code that they live by or whatever.  I don't think it's for me.  


Tracy Marks has done excellently with the narration of this series…but this particular story, and I think it may be because of the Russian accent rather than the Irish accent, fell a little short of excellent for me.


Ratings Breakdown


Plot:  3.5/5

Main Characters:  3.5/5

Secondary Characters:  4/5 For Magda

The Feels:  3.8/5

Addictiveness:  3.5/5

Theme or Tone:  3/5A

Flow (Writing Style):  4/5

Backdrop (World Building):  3/5

Book Cover:  4/5

Narration:  4.5/5

Ending:  3.8/5  Cliffhanger:  Nope.


Will I continue this series?  Well I have already received Saint from Audiobook Boom, so I would say that I will.


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text 2017-05-03 01:16
i know the story involves priests and a religious household
The Saint - Tiffany Reisz

but damn is it weird for me to see bible verses in an erotic romance

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review 2017-05-02 03:01
Has potential, but needs editing and a kink consultant
The Deep End - Kristen Ashley

Reading this, I can see where people are coming from when they like this book.  After all, it was featured in Library Journal, and they do affirmative reviews.


But for those not reading my running commentary as I read it, this book is heavily flawed.  It's better than 50 Shades of Grey, but that doesn't take much.  The relationship has some serious issues, but it's more bone-headed stupidity rather than abuse.  The writing style is... inconsistent.  Reading the author's FAQ it sounds like the weird and seriously confusing sentences that result are actually a direct result of a deliberate writing style.  There are just sentences throughout that are nearly incomprehensible due to sloppy writing.  I'm also get the incredibly strong impression from both the writing and the author's website that she really has no idea what she's talking about.


I can see where readers are excited about these books.  But.. yeah... not so much for me.


It had it's up points, and a lot of down points.  I see how the plot element that resulted in a physical assault connects... but it really is way the fuck out of left field and doesn't really fit in.  I'm also vaguely amused that the owner of the club seems to be the BDSM equivalent of a mob don or some shit.  I really don't feel like listing out all my issues with the book right now, I've already ranted about them and this is a rather informal review..


In it's favor, it is one of the few femdom erotic romance novels I've come across, even with all it's flaws.  However, with all it's flaws I don't really think it's worth it.


I doubt I'll be reading anything else in the series or by this author.

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