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review 2016-11-03 22:43
The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy) - Marie Rutkoski

At last!!!! At long last, I have finally finished!!!! Hooray!!!!

 

Assorted thoughts:
1. I am so disappointed. I loved the first two books. But this one? Nope.
2. The main reason I didn't like The Winner's Kiss was because it was sooooo slow. It dragged on and on and I thought it would never end.
3. Idk why, but I really didn't like the writing in this one. I used to love it, because it was beautiful, but in this one it was too purple for my tastes
4. I don't even have much to say, I'm just glad to be done with this thing.

 

Probably not going to write a full review for this. I don't wish to dwell on it anymore, I'm just relieved to be done with it.

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review 2016-11-03 22:23
The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, Book 4) - Maggie Stiefvater

To say I am disappointed is the fucking understatement of the year. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this book! But I was expecting to love it with all my heart and soul, and I didn't. I only mildly liked it. *sigh*

 

Assorted thoughts:
1. I really like Pynch, I think Ronan and Adam are such a cute couple. But goddamnit, I wanted more. More kisses. More sweet moments. More Pynch! I feel cheated.
2. The thing about The Raven Cycle is that the plot is wandering and all over the place and so, so confusing. Originally I was able to forgive this because of how much I loved the characters, but now I'm just annoyed. Since this is the last book I had higher expectations for The Raven King.
3. There's so many loose ends. Noah? The Gray Man? Declan and Matthew? Maura and Calla? Henry's mom and all the other collectors? Ugh, what even happened to them?
4. Despite that, I liked how the four main characters got closure.
5. This series is the strangest thing. I did like it overall, but I'm disappointed with The Raven King. I don't even entirely know why, I just am.
6. Side note: that cover is gorgeous

 

It's been two months since I read this, so I guess no full review.

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text 2016-08-23 18:30
Running from Romeo by Diane Mannino
Running from Romeo - Diane Mannino

Tropes: 19

Welcome to the newest episode of The Next Been Done Before! Today's episode contains a heroine so beautiful that she can't see it herself even when roughly every guy she meets tells her so. We also have a hero who's most valued characteristic is his piercing eye color and how out of this world handsome he is. For good measure we throw in some deaths in their backgrounds, some martial problems among his or her parents, and something sexual in the past that could cause trauma for one of the main characters (you get two guesses on who!).

Introducing our heroine, Emilia King, a college student who's majoring in Shakespeare. She's perfect. Every guy she meets wants her. They ask her out constantly, and while she claims to not see how beautiful she is and how she doesn't want to go out with them, she never tells them outright no, and then blame them for continuing to ask her out, instead she tells them "some other time" or "not now". You'd think they get the message, but still. She's clumsy.

I am so embarrassed and caught up in the beauty of this man that I blush, trip, and miss the chair.


She's... in denial (given that everyone keeps telling her how beautiful she is).

Who am I kidding? He would never be interested in someone like me. I’m so boring, plain and he’s so…well, out-of-this-world gorgeous.


She's never felt sexual attraction before our hero crosses her path.

This is the first time in my twenty-one years where I’ve ever been interested in a man.


She's different from other girls, because... other girls don't listen to music?

“Most girls are all about Adele. You like the Neon Trees, Mumford and Sons, and the Black Keys. Any other favorites?”


And, of course, she's not like other girls.

“I think it’s safe to say that most girls feel that way, you would be the exception.”

“I suppose I’m not like most girls.”

“Emilia, first of all, no one is perfect. But if anyone is as close to perfection…that would be you.”



Now, for our male lead: Logan Prescott. He's perfect (except for once, and it's only so we'll have a cliffhanger at the end). He, also a college student and a business major, is a rich bachelor who, until meeting Emilia lived only for pleasure.

“You bewitched me. I don’t know how else to explain it. I met you and I realized that only caring about pleasure and instant gratification just made me feel empty, lonely. Does that make sense?”


Add to it, he's out of this world gorgeous (in case you missed the quotes above). Either way, he has a reputation of having multiple sexual partners. A fact that makes him avoid Emilia at first, for her own good, of course. He has the ability to cure Emilia of her nightly terrors by his mere presence after knowing her for roughly two hours. (Noteworthy that years of therapy, support from family and close friends could not manage this.) His most important characteristic, apparently, has nothing to do with his actual personality, though.

"He’s not only drop dead gorgeous but obscenely rich. He’s a keeper, Emilia."


Apart from that, his biggest (and only role) is to tell Emilia that meeting her - not knowing her - changed his life.

“I told you. I was quite careless and out of control for a long time. Meeting you made me want to change. Is that so hard for you to understand?”


By the by, this is also the general plot: Emilia's ability to change Logan's life. Because of this we have her doubting him whenever a woman comes within ten feet of him (which also makes it easy to include some casual slut-shaming). Add in some past trauma - hope you'd already made your guess - she must face it head on by simply being in a relationship with Logan. Which causes her best friend to give contradictory advice more or less all the time. Go out! Don't go out! Live a little! Life will hurt you! And more.

There you have it folks! This was another episode of The Next Been Done Before! 'til next time!

Also, before I forget: Authors, DO NOT use rape for shock value. Do not use it for the sole purpose off getting a (poor excuse for a) cliffhanger. Do not use it as a plot device. Do not "reveal" it on the last page.

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review 2016-08-20 17:49
How I became Lotus Raine...the porn star by Erika Ashby
How I became Lotus Raine...the porn star - Erika Ashby

After having read Moving Forward by this author, I wasn't sure I was going to give her another chance. The above mentioned book didn't sit well with me. Mostly due to its endless shaming of women, especially sexually active women. Then I saw the title of this one.

I was intrigued. My hopes were that this book would be nothing like the one I'd read before by this author. A book about a porn star (/sex actress) and that industry. Perhaps this would be a more complex representation of women, sex, and the porn industry. Adress the virgin/whore dichotomy.

Let me start by saying this: I was wrong.

She was dressed way more revealing than I’d ever attempted. I’m confident, but damn, I didn’t want to get molested.


I wanted him to feel somewhat special. Even though that’s only something females tend to feel


"Every girl wants to fall in love. And most books are about just that.”


Never mind there's a grammatical error on the first page (and they continue throughout the book), this book does not offer a complex story with nuanced characters or a good message.

The book is a interview done by the heroine after she becomes a porn star. Our heroine, Lucy, used to work for a company doing research for authors. Lucy's latest assignment: follow the daily life of a sex actor: Brent. As a part of this deal, Lucy goes to live with him for a week. Here's the twist: she already met him, and they almost had sex at a club. So when they meet at his home, sparks are flying all over the place. What follows is tension between them, Lucy at times uncomfortable with his profession, and at the same time morbidly curious. Regardless of her feelings, Lucy is determined to go make the best of her assignment.

Here's the thing: Lucy is horrible. She's the typical ultimate judgmental heroine. She constantly judges other women (unless they're her best friend, of course) even if she's never spoken to them. There's a (possible) backstory to why she detest women who have multiple sex partners. However, that particular part of her past is more about her own fears about being sexually active, and it's not explored in the story as a believable reason to why she'd loath women on sight. Instead, her endless shaming of other women seems unnecessary and only adds to the easy of disliking her.

Her hypocrisy is clear by the following example, from the book. Lucy is interested in Brent, the sex actor, and while at time she might wonder and ignorant of what his profession entails, she never quite judges him for it. She tries to see beyond his profession, which, props to her, but when she meets the first female sex actress, it's hate on first sight. Simply because this particular woman dresses a certain way, acts a certain way, and is a sex actress. Conclusion: According to the heroine, it's okay for men to be sex actors, but not for women.

The story, if we look at it instead of the characters for a second, is not much to write home about. The interview part was strange and not quite necessary except to throw a couple jabs at readers who likes to read books that feel real (and in extension, logical).

I didn’t get how readers could be so blunt when in disagreement. Usually the point of reading was to escape everyday reality. But once some cross that line, they get so hell bent over something they don’t find logical. Well, let me tell you something—life isn’t always logical.


The funny part about it is people push aside these real life possibilities while reading a fictional story. It makes absolutely no sense to me. Just freaking go with it folks.


A few things: Yes, people can read to "escape everyday reality", but some of us likes to do so with realistic stories. Realistic doesn't mean you have to get married, get 2.5 children, have house with a white fence... you get the deal. It simply means the story should feel real to the reader. (And I agree, life isn't always logical, but there's a different between illogical and unrealistic.) Second, "just go with it" is an argument I'm not buying. Like, let's all write racists, sexist, abusive, and whatnot, it's cool, just go with it. Basically, what these two quotes say is this: Don't dare say anything's wrong with a book, and if you think something is, you're reading it wrong. Given that the heroine had a job to make sure authors wrote realistically about certain themes, this doesn't go with her personality, either. (I'm not saying the author intended for this message, but it is what it is.)

About ten pages in, it was clear what the outcome would be. Given the heroine's shaming of women who have multiple sexual partners, it was easy to guess when she became interested in Brent what the outcome would be, or rather how Lucy approached her own new profession as a sex actress. I promise, it's not a hard guess.

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review 2016-07-17 13:16
The Hit List by Nikki Urang
The Hit List - Nikki Urang
The bonus girls are worth more points if a Hitter is able to get them into bed. The first Hitter there gets to claim the points. After someone claims points, the girl will lose her bonus status and become like every other girl in the game.


Welcome to the game! Sorry, welcome to the story I mean. When Sadie moves across the country to attend a new school, The Conservatory, she's introduced to the game. Before going into the details of the game, we'll stay with Sadie for a moment. She moves across the country after she suffered an injury after a mistake her dance partner, and then boyfriend, make that left her without a scholarship. Meanwhile, her then boyfriend got a scholarship, and Sadie can't help feeling betrayed, left behind, and she wonders if what they had was real. At her new school, she meets Brielle, her new roommate who, like Sadie, has an absentee mother. She also meets Adam, Brielle's friend. Also, of course, Sadie meets Luke, campus heartthrob who flirts with everything that moves.

Now, back to the game. It's a campus game where the male students who join in are looking to score. Literally. They get point when they sleep with a girl, and some girls (they vote on which) are worth extra points. These girls' names are official on a blog that hosts the game. The guys sign up and some of the rules are: consent is a must, no alcohol can be used by the Hitter (the participant) to alter a girl's state of consciousnesses but if she does it to herself, you're good to go, you must prove you had sex (pictures, underwear, video, etc.. Have fun.

...

Yeah, have fun.

I'll discuss the game more in-depth later in the review, because for a large part of the story it is merely a backdrop, something going on outside of Sadie's world. So we'll start with Sadie. She has trust issues like, well, the typical New Adult heroine that she is. Her ex-boyfriend/dance partner accidentally dropped her during a dance, which left her injured and Sadie lost her shot at a scholarship. Due to this, she's unable to trust people and her dancing is affected when she's unable to partner with someone else. (She's also iffy about partnering with someone who isn't gay, or she isn't in a relationship too, because screw professionalism, right?) In the beginning, it's easy to sympathize with Sadie. Her mother is absent and offers no motherly support, and after Sadie's boyfriend left her, it's not hard to understand where she's coming from. Yes, in the beginning, this is all fine and good, but at some point (even before 80% of the characters have called Sadie out on it) you lose interest, and what initially was sympathize for Sadie turns into frustration and the need to tell her to grow up. She hangs onto her anger, feels like she's entitled to something better, and acts much like a baby.

Then Sadie meets Luke, local heartthrob and... it's not quite as much insta-love as usual NA, but there's definitive some insta-something-alike there. Luke, whom she is later forced to dance with, is a flirt. Sadie is unable to trust him when partnered, and instead she decides to practice with Adam (who she is able to dance with because, you know, he's gay). Anyhow, despite what it may sound like, I did like how Luke and Sadie's relationship developed, at times. Kinda. Maybe. Okay, maybe not really. It's mostly due to Luke's whiplash personality. One second he's cold, then hot, then cold. Sadie calls him out on it - good for her - but throughout the story there's never a reason revealed why Luke acts the way he does. He has some trust issues himself, and he, too, is iffy about relationships, but that doesn't suffice to rationale or explain his actions. I also lost respect for him at the end of the book, when certain reveals are made. I also dislike how Sadie dealt with the revelations, but most how they were portrayed in general.

Now there will be some mentions about the game, but mostly it's how Sadie reacts to it. Sadie is one of the bonus girls, those that are worth more point if you sleep with them. Her name is official on the blog, and she's aware of it. She's aware of the rules and stakes. Here's the thing: several times she wonders why no one is stepping up and stopping the game, why no one takes it up with the school. She sees girls (and talks to some of them) and wonder why they let themselves be used by the game. Even when things gets out of hand and a girl is sexually harassed, she doesn't do anything. Actually, she acts as if the game is no big deal, not really. The girls know about it, she thinks, so what's the harm? (Not her exact words, but it's how it sounds.) Yet, when some girls take advantage of the game (uses it to sleep with boys), Sadie somehow looks down on these women, asking them if they don't know they're being used for points? I'll discuss this more in a short while.

For the game, I'm not undecided. It's a horrible thing. The rules says that all parties must consent, but it's quiet clear that consent, to some people, is easy to go around or overlook. Especially on college campuses. Then turning women into something men can receive points for, if that's not dehumanizing, I don't know what is. Given the nature of the game, this will certainly seduce some guys that feel entitled to women's bodies to joining in. It's a perfect setup for boosting the notion that women are for men, and men can use them however they want.

Moving on to the rule that says no alcohol is allowed to change the woman's state of consciousness, but it's okay if she does it to herself. First of all, this rule would be incredibly easy to go around. So you as (male) participant is not allowed to give the women drinks, but there's no saying your best friend can give them to her. Also, it's good to remember that if the woman is drunk and unable to make sound decisions, then that can be considered rape. What the rule basically says is that it not okay if you give her alcohol and sleep with her, but if she drinks herself drunk, it's her fault for having sex with you even if she doesn't want to. That sounds like victim blaming. Oh, wait, that's exactly what victim blaming is.

Then there's the rule about proof. Proof could be underwear, pictures, and videos. Let's begin with the fact that sharing a picture of video of this nature against the other person's knowing, that's a crime. While it may only be shared by the "hitter" and the person hosting the game is still sharing that picture or video. Once again this encourages the notion that women are for men, and men are allowed to do what they wish when it comes to women.

The problem isn't that the game is in the story, it's the way it's treated. Characters might point out that they are hurt by it, but there's no discussing how sexist and degrading the game is in itself. There's no one pointing out what the game says about women, femininity, and society's view of women. This is the issue. When it's revealed who's behind the game and its origin, there are still no discussion about this, just how it was started from a misguided point of view, of confusion and frustration, but not about the obvious lack of respect for women the inventor of the game had (and might possibly still have).

This book had a good concept. It had a story that could've, if done well, evoke strong feelings, exposing dark parts of society's view on women, men, and sex, but it failed greatly. Instead it avoids going deep or opening up questions that most people might not want to ask themselves in favor for some hesitant romance, girl-on-girl hate, and Sadie's trust issues.

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