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review 2016-05-17 22:40
Farm Fresh by Posy Roberts
Farm Fresh (Naked Organics Book 1) - Posy Roberts

So. This story made me very, VERY uncomfortable, but problably not for the reasons you think.


Let me point out at first that I was looking forward to this book very much. A farmer living in a commune and an environmental engineering student with some sexual hang-ups crushing on each other, finally taking a leap? Yes, please! I loved the unique premises of this story, I loved the beginning. Painfully shy Jude struggling with his past, his body, his sexuality and desires. I liked Hudson too, so protective of his commune, an organic farmer to boot, with a big heart and all his insecurities as results of past relationships. I also loved the idea of an LGBTQ commune where everyone lives and loves freely and openly. So I pretty much enjoyed the story until Jude took his first steps on commune ground. It was only then that I had issues, and I had a lot of them. I guess part of them were my own fault, because if I'd paid attention to the blurb, I might have caught on before getting in too deep.


Jude moves to Kaleidoscope Gardens, however his sexual hang-ups make it hard to adjust. He’s an uptight virgin living among people who have sex freely and with multiple partners. When Jude finally loosens up, Hudson is flooded with emotions.


In hindsight, I already felt uncomfortable reading this part of the blurb, just chose to ignore it. Don't ask me why. As it stands, I'm not at all happy with the "uptight virgin" part, because it has a certain ring to it I don't much appreciate. It got worse when I actually learned what Jude's "loosening up" entailed.


Let me be clear: I am not opposed to polyamorous or open relationships. I had one, I enjoyed it, I was freaking happy, I would do it again with the right people at the right time. My first issue was that basically everyone living in an open/poly relationship in this commune had Problems with a capital P, mostly to do with trauma. Which was a little disappointing in the way that not everyone living in "alternative" realtionships does so because they can't have a "normal" (monogamous) relationship, or because they are dealing with (sexual or other) trauma and this is their way of coping. It felt a little too clichéd for my taste, and I'm concerned that parts of this book might manifest certain prejudices people have regarding open and poly relationships instead of resolving them. A lot of potential wasted, IMHO.


What really got me going though, were the rules the members of the commune had to follow.


If I wanted to get technical or really bitchy, I'd point out that asexual people are part of the 'queer' (the Q in LGBTQ, you know?) community, too. In this book however, there would not have been a place at the table for them. Not cool. Which brings me to the big fucking thing that made me uncomfortable and rage-y as hell. In order to be allowed to stay and live with the commune, Jude had to participate in a sexual act in front of the other members in some kind of ritual.


Pause to let that sink in.


I'm sure you can see and interpret that as a positive, life-infirming way of introducing Jude to the commune, and make him feel welcome.


I felt no such thing.


For me the statement "Fuck with us or you can't stay with us - no matter how much you help our farm or love some of our members." is NOT okay. In fact, I'd go as far as saying: This is COERCION, pure and simple. When you blackmail someone into "willingly" participating in a sexual group act? That's not including, welcoming or ROMANTIC. It is wrong. No matter the context or intention. So, so wrong. And if you want to intercept here to tell me that Jude really wanted it in the end, that it was liberating for him and helped him to grow? That he just needed a little push in the right direction, because he didn't know what he really needed? I'd say that maybe, just maybe, you think about the implications of these statements.

"He/She actually really wanted it, they just didn't know it."


"You didn't mean it when you said 'no'. Your eyes and body said 'yes'."


"I know you think you don't want to, I know you might not be ready, but if you don't do it now, you have to leave."


Still see no problem? Because holy crap, I do! I could list my issues alphabetically or according to time of occurence, there are so many of them! So, yeah. I hated that part of the book. I hated it with a vengeance. It made me spit fire and venom all over the place, because NOOOOOO. I do not have enough words to express how bad this was for me.


I did try to move on. Mostly because I liked Jude as a character and wanted to see where his story would go. Unfortunately, things didn't get better. After opening up - the marvellous justification for pushing him way beyond his limits - he would have need an even more nurturing, supportive environment, in addition to some very special attention and care from the one he started to fall for. What did he get instead? An abrasive dickhead of a self-centered jerk who treated him like shit. I know Hudson had his own issues. Some of his thoughts made sense to me, I'll give him that. I even understood parts of him, because I didn't hate him as much as I could have. But the things he did and said pissed me of. Some of them were just unforgiveable and I was pretty much done with him after that. I was also done with the book.


Even though I finished it, I didn't really care anymore. Things got ugly, things got tense, things got emotional, but I remained fairly entouched throughout it all. Maybe a blib here or there for Jude and his brother, nothing more though.

All in all, I was not happy with this book. I had high expectations and even bigger hopes for it, but I was bitterly doisappointed with the execution of the whole thing. The notion that coercion is romantic in any form or fashion will never fly with me, so these scenes combined with Hudson's appalling behaviour at times ruined the book for me. 2 stars, one of them is solely and exclusively for Jude, because I really liked him and felt for him as a character.

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review 2014-01-07 00:00
Commune Of Women
Commune Of Women - Suzan Still The author employed a rather odd method of telling her story. We had seven different women in the commune and we had to read their individual interpretations of the storyline. I found that tedious. Some of the chapters (which were each about a single woman) were so boring that I simply went on to the next "chapter". My personal opinion is that the author wanted to write about her personal analyses and observations of how people interact. Sorry but this was not for me.
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review 2013-10-11 14:10
Contact and Commune
Contact and Commune - L. Neil Smith As it happens, Contact and Commune is an apt title. The novel concerns first contact between humankind and a non-human technological society. And the commune? Well, the expedition is from the American Soviet Socialist Republic and the United World Soviet. A case of the universal lack of ability to foresee the demise of the system? Well, this was written before it disintegrated in 1991. The book was written in 1990--well after the writing had been broken off the Berlin Wall. The premise is that after economic crisis, the world turned back to old style Marxism. In some ways, Smith’ scenario of backsliding into socialism is more credible in the age of Occupy Wall Street than when the book was published. But for Smith there are statists and there are his sort of libertarians and nothing in between. That means he has some blind spots that make it impossible for him to credibly depict an American Marxism. The spacecraft, for instance, are named after Democratic politicians: the Daniel P. Moynihan, the Howard M. Metzenbaum and the James C. Wright. Smith can’t see the difference between middle of the road Democrats and Marxists. (Never mind that mid-21st century anyone would remember any of them, particularly the last two.) The “commune” side of this novel just isn’t credible to me in several respects. Never mind the level of political preachiness this book slides into, heavy handed even by the standard of Smith’s usual novels which I’ve often found overly polemical. (And believe it or not, I consider myself a libertarian, so if I find it annoying... ) And the “contact” side? Well, there are science fiction authors that simply rock at putting across credible aliens with truly different mindsets. Orson Scott Card’s “pequeninos” in Speaker for the Dead or the alien in Robert A. Heinlein’s The Star Beast or those in Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness come to mind. L. Neil Smith’s aliens feel like... well, how did he himself put it? Ah, yes, a “cross between a paleontology exhibit and a cartoon where the animals wear trousers.” They’re about as believable as Jabba the Hut or Jar Jar Binks. If you are interested in reading Smith's tale of Communist humans versus Anarcho-libertarian aliens, this book probably isn’t the way to do it anyway. Contact and Commune is the first part of two books; the third in the trilogy was never released separately. In 2000, Forge of the Elders was published, comprising the first two novels and the previously unpublished third work. So if you want to read this despite all I’ve said, order that book, not this one. Believe it or not, I have read and enjoyed books by Smith. I liked his Probability Broach. It’s libertarian science fiction too, and perhaps too much insider in-joke for non-libertarians, but it has imagination and a sense of humor. Both The Crystal Empire and Henry Martyn are good adventure stories and neither sport a heavy-handed libertarian message but are enjoyable by general readers. One is an alternate history involving a Sino-Aztec empire and the other is swashbuckling space opera. All three of those novels are something Contact and Commune is not: fun.
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review 2011-09-14 00:00
Commune Of Women
Commune Of Women - Suzan Still I enjoy books that not only tell a good story but take us deep into the minds, thoughts and lives of the characters in the story. A Commune of Women takes us on that journey. Seven women who could not be any different are tossed together under extremely dire circumstances and must find a way to endure by working together to survive. Can you imagine being locked in a fairly small room with six other strangers, sharing food, water, trying to help the woman who is injured and not think about the chaos and death that is going on outside that door? I sure can't.

I admired every one of these women for different reasons. I have to say my favorite was Sophia. I would love to be as able and calm as she was in such a high stress time. She never panicked and seem to be very confident as to how to go about things. I couldn't wait to find out more about her. I hung on her every word imagining myself in her shoes.

Pearl, the street lady was my least favorite. I very much wanted to like her but I had a very hard time reading her. The author wrote her using the back woods talk that is very real but was hard for me to understand. When her narratives came around the story stopped the smooth flow because I had to read very slowly and re-read a lot of her conversations. BUT, I think she had the most common sense and the brightest way of looking at things. Pearl's cup was always half full!

The plot is really right out of the news with a terrorist attack at an airport. It was scary in many places because it could happen, has happened. I don't know if I could be as brave as these women.

Get ready for be in for the long haul once you open the cover. The story takes off with a bang and never slows down until the end.

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