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review 2017-01-16 03:03
Book Review: Cheating Bastard by Devon McCormack
Cheating Bastard - Devon McCormack WTF did I just read? What kind of twisted tale was this? Didn't expect it to end this way, but probably should have. Dark. Never mind the rough sex, the dubious consent, the mind games - the sociopath within takes the cake. Holy shit, what a ride.
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text 2016-08-25 18:44
Waiting for Romeo by Diane Mannino
Waiting for Romeo - Diane Mannino

Tropes: 24

The second book, Waiting for Romeo suffers from the same issues as the first book. A "perfect" heroine. A hero who is barely a character, since his purpose is to tell the heroine how perfect she is, and how she changed his life. It continues with the slut-shaming.It adds some tropes as for the new adult genre, making the story even less original and even more bland. Apart from what mentioned in my review for the first book, this (and the first, too) suffers from uneven pacing (think glacier speed), awkward and lazy writing.

In the second book there is a bit mystery going on, but it's not much of a mystery (I guessed it even in the first book what was to come). Emilia has to face something from her past, but that isn't incorporated into the story until the last 20%, and several things that happened before with other characters are never resolved. The story becomes blander, the characters duller (if possible), and the story never seems to go anywhere, or have any sense of direction.

What I kept thinking while reading the second book was that it should've been one book. The first book barely has a plot, and it moves too slow, and the second is haphazard at best. The author should've written one book: it would've made for a tighter and smoother story and it would've had an actual, solid plot.

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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 2016-07-01 10:43
Shadowboxer by Cari Quinn
Shadowboxer - Cari Quinn

New Adult Tropes: 20

“Welcome to this century. Women can do everything men can. Including fight.”

Where to start with Shadowboxer? This book includes so many topics: verbal abuse, domstic abuse, sexual abuse, kidnapping, death of (more than one) family member, prostitution, underground fighting, estranged parents, protecting a younger family member, money troubles, a rich guy feeling sorry for himself, trust issues, slutshaming, misogyny... are you exhausted yet? We'll take it from the start.

Mia is a female underground fighter. She's in it for the money she desperately needs so that she and her younger sister Carly can move away from the city. In the beginning, Mia went into prostitution (oral sex only), but then went into the fighting scene, but is also working at a bar. For months she's been training to set up a fight with the famous underground fighter Tray "Fox" Knox so she can get the money she needs. Tray is the golden boy that got tired of living good life with the money his parents gave him. Tray dropped out of college and went into the underground fighting scene. When a chance meeting have them cross paths, Tray is immediately drawn to Mia in ways he doesn't understand. Mia on the other hand, wants nothing but a fight from Tray. What follows is a long push and pull of Mia wanting Tray, hooking up, and then pushing him away. It goes on for more than half of the book, with little else to add into the plot.

Basically, there's no plot. It's all Mia and her trust issues (which aren't brought up until somewhere around the 40%-60% mark) and Tray endless longing for Mia. This is supposedly a MMA fighter story, but there's almost no fighting going on, only a few mentions of their workouts. There are two big fights looming in the future at the beginning, but neither of them happens. In the end, it's all about their lust for each other. So let's take a look at our main characters. Introducing Mia:

I wasn’t some quivery female caught in the storm of my emotions.

Mia is the heroine with an disdain toward anything female or feminine (which kinda changes once she lets Tray into her life). She's a fighter that can (apparently) take on any fighter, male of female. She comes from a troubled childhood filled with parents dying, and on top of that, she was kidnapped and sexual abused for several months. You'd think this would play a bigger role in this story, but it doesn't (apart from when Tray makes it all about himself). It's brought to light somewhere in the middle of the story, and Mia has two (I think) panic attacks due to memories from her time in captivity. Other than that, it isn't that big a deal, or it doesn't come off as it when in her POV. Once again, New Adult uses sexual abuse as a plot device, and in this case, a backdrop for the romance. It's difficult to care for Mia; she's mean and her (as above mentioned) disdain for female and femininity is cringe worthy.

Now, here's the best of Tray "Fox" Knox:

My knowledge of the thought processes of females was practically nonexistent.

I’d kill for her in reality, maybe because no one else ever had.

“I can deal with Sandra Bullock,” I muttered, grateful that Slater wasn’t around to hear me turn in my man card.

If it's hard to care or like Mia, it's even harder to give a single fuck for Tray. He's the kind of guy that is all don't need my parents or their money, fuck them while still having them pay for his Ivy League college, his apartment, and his new car. Please tell me more about how hard your life is. To be fair, he does come from a family where his father abused (verbally and physically, from what I gather), his mother. And Tray has a policy that a real man never hits a woman. A policy that obviously doesn't apply to his mother, since Tray doesn't really do anything to help his own mother to get out of an abusive relationship. He does however feel the need to protect a female stranger that appears to have been in a fight (Mia) from the second he lays eyes on her. Good guy, right?

Moving on. When he finds out that Mia was kidnapped and sexually abused and later prostituted herself, he somehow makes it all about himself.

How could I be ready to listen to her talk about being hurt? How could I ever let her put her mouth on me and not think she was imagining a money transaction afterward?

Add in the usual, Mia's not like other girls, deserves better than an alley fuck, and the usual "my girl is a special snowflake" mentality, you have Tray. (I'd mention the secondary characters, but they were all flat and boring, they're barely worth mentioning.)

Moving on to the fighting aspect. It's ridiculous. Throughout the book, there's the theme that Mia is the best fighter ever. Tray describes her as tiny, but fit. She's feet shorter than him, and he outweighs her greatly. Yet, she thinks she can take him in a fight. How? No clue. Look, I agree with the initial quote: women can do anything men can, but there are limits. Biologically, men are (generally) stronger, taller, heavier. A trained male fighter will 99% of the time win over a female fighter. That's biology, nothing you can do about it. The last 1% is all about luck and coincidence. Nothing in the story indicates that Mia is delusional otherwise, but this is both delusional, and frankly, a bit suicidal. I believe this story would've done better (on the fighting aspect) if it had focused on the difference between male and female sports, especially society's view on it.

Going back to Mia's past abuse and prostitution. There's a huge gap about how her life after she escpaed her kidnapper/abuser and the present. Why did she enter prostitution? How did she do it? How old was she? How did she reason? Because she had a job (bartender), how bad was it for that she felt the need to prostitute herself? Or was she of the mentality that prostitution is just another job? It's never explained. There's also little time over for dealing with her past abuse, both in the past and in the present. As it is, it reads like it is Tray's magical dick that somehow saves her, which is an angle one should never take in fiction. It is insulting to victims of sexual abuse to keep up this mentality that a man (or woman) can cure you from the trauma by sex. It should be with professional help and support from trusted and loved ones.

Last, apart from all mentioned above, the writing is very amateurish. Tray for example, has two different sides: the one we see in his POV and the one from Mia's. They are at times almost two different people, who speaks and thinks differently. Add in awkward and painful methafors such as this one:

By the time Mia emerged in her sports bra and a pair of tiny bike shorts that made her ass look like a pair of puffed-up marshmallows suspended on two sexy sticks, I was considering a number of sexual harassment suits.

To sum up this book: poor execution and no sensitivity when it comes to heavy topics.

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