Reviews and Giveaways


Porn Star by Laurelin Paige My rating: 3 of 5 stars This is another book where the authors have good intentions, but don’t really execute them that well. I think it’s wonderful that Laurelin Paige and Sierra Simone wanted to write a book that includes the very real issues within the adult entertainment industry, including rapes and sexual assaults. I think that if they had done a little more to, no pun intended, flesh things out, then the book would have been excellent. I loved the comparison of Devi/Logan to mythology and astronomy, but I think that sometimes it wasn’t as developed as it could have been. Of course, neither were the characters. Each felt a little flat, which was disappointing because I could tell that they were aiming to build these really strong characters. Instead, Logan becomes the epitome of a NiceGuy stereotype and really isn’t as in touch with respecting women as he thinks he is, while Devi comes off as whiny and immature. Even the villains/antagonists in the story aren’t fully-formed. When I finished reading the story, I felt almost like I had wasted hours of time on reading this book. I hate feeling like reading a book was a waste of time, especially when it is a book that could have been excellent. The sex scenes were okay. They weren’t over-the-top or even all that racy like you might expect with a book on porn stars falling in love. They were just okay. I couldn’t understand how the characters were having mind-blowing sex when the writing wasn’t really all that mind-blowing. Some of it was gross, but a lot of it just seemed blah. I know it was meant to shock and titillate, but it was, like porn, too over-the-top. It didn’t seem like realistic behavior, and all seemed like it was a performance. A lot of it was also grossly coercive, which doesn’t promote the sex-positive message that the writers were intending to share via the story. There were some elements that were a bit racially insensitive and a little bit off on how bisexuality works. The idea that Devi is “exotic” fetishizes her for displaying traits associated with the Persian ancestry on her father’s side. I’m sure that Paige and Simone didn’t mean to say anything racially insensitive, but they did make statements that were cringe-inducing. The descriptions of bisexuality really dumbed down the research. While I appreciate the attempt to address the research that shows women are rarely heterosexual when it comes to arousal, saying all women are bisexual based on arousal is untrue; most are bisexual, followed by homosexual, and then heterosexual, but that doesn’t define their sexuality. Yes, most women can be turned on by other women, but sexual orientation isn’t just about arousal. The same studies that determined that women are rarely heterosexual also say that most men are either heterosexual or homosexual in their arousal, which effectively erases bisexual men. They also show that women can become aroused by watching animals having sex, which could be used to suggest that women are into bestiality, and that’s just interpreting the study in the most literal way possible. It dehumanizes women and bisexuals. It also engaged in bi-erasure by suggesting that if a person is more attracted to one gender than another, that they cannot be bisexual. Devi enjoyed sex with women and fooling around with women, but she preferred men, especially Logan more. In fact, she based her identity as heterosexual solely on the attraction to Logan. Enjoying sex or preferring sex with a particular person or with a particular gender does not make someone not-a-bisexual. Dating one person exclusively or marrying them does not change their sexual orientation. Bisexuality is hard enough for most who identify that way without encountering these stereotypes & common misconceptions. It was mentioned toward the end of the story that the romance developed over the course of two months, but it seemed like it was closer to three weeks. Maybe there was more going on that wasn’t included in the story, but I think I might have found the story more believable or realistic if there was more of a sense that they were doing more than just having sex and talking about astronomy. It was also a little weird that the one who was more wealthy was Logan. Porn is one of the few industries where women out-earn men; top female talent make $2000-2500 per scene, whereas the most well-known male stars make $1500 per scene. To live the lifestyle he lived, he would need to be working more often and investing a good deal of his check. The only reason Devi would be making less is (1) the refusal to work in heterosexual porn and (2) the lack of experience. Otherwise, she would be out-earning him. I think the book had an interesting premise and I might recommend it if you just want to read something a bit smutty, but I wouldn’t tell anyone to have high expectations for it. Maybe it won’t disappoint you if you don’t go in expecting too much. View all my reviews

Review: Porn Star


Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn My rating: 2 of 5 stars This book was good, but it wasn’t. That may not be obvious since I rated it so low. Firsts tackled some tough subjects, but it didn’t really do so in a great or helpful way. I honestly wonder if it may have done more harm than good. The intention of the author, much like the intention of the main character Mercedes Ayres, was probably a good one at heart, but, as the proverb goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Good intentions cannot fix what is truly wrong with this book. I understand the attempt to soften the approach people take to cheating and slut-shaming, but it doesn’t actually achieve that. Instead, it pushes those stereotypes even further and dismisses criminal behavior as seduction and bad parenting. Luke is portrayed as the former boyfriend, while the behavior described is clearly sexually abusive. He groomed Mercedes before forcing her to perform oral sex on him and before eventually raping her. Charlie’s actions are not really any better. Filming a person having sex without their consent is illegal. Trying to physically force someone to have sex with you is illegal. Attempting to blackmail someone over their sex life is, you guessed it, illegal. But the author chooses to say that Charlie was trying to “seduce” Mercedes. No, that’s not seduction. Those are acts of sexual violence. Kim is an emotionally abusive and emotionally & physically neglectful mother, and Mercedes’ absentee father who decided to punish Mercedes for her mom’s decisions isn’t much better. Kim is portrayed as a slut and a bimbo who only cares about spending the ill-gotten gains of her ex-husband. It’s the kind of storyline that you might get from websites run by “men’s rights activists” and MGTOW. Faye is the supposed-to-be-subtle-but-really-isn’t cautionary tale. Zach is the night-in-shining armor. Angela is the good girl, the girl with the patience of a saint and who is let back into Mercy’s life too easily. Mercedes is the fallen girl/girl gone bad who takes on the sins of all those involved & is nearly ruined in the process. She is constantly obsessing over what side she should show others, which is something that a lot of people feel, but it was never really addressed in the book. Yes, there’s the whole, her mom screwed up how she thinks about sex, beauty, weight, etc., but that’s not enough to explain why she is so hyper-critical and why she is convinced that she is unlovable. And if you’re going to spend a whole book tearing down the main character’s self-esteem, then you need to spend more than a couple of pages making her act like she’s all-better all of a sudden. Sometimes it came across as preachy. No, wait, it always came across as preachy. The sex lives of most of the characters in the book are regularly criticized. Angela, Mercy’s BFF, is super-religious and pushes her faith onto everyone. (There are even Bible verses that are quoted and referenced.) Her sex-negative attitude only pushes Mercy to hide her actions. Kim’s antics seem to push the idea that adultery leads women to even more vice-filled lives. Mercy’s internal dialogue about how many guys she’s had sex with pushed the idea that girls & women who have ‘too much’ sex might be seen as used up goods. The outcome at school for Mercedes pushes the idea that women and girls have to be punished for being sexual. When Mercedes describes how she feels about sex and intimacy, even when she sometimes thinks she’s attracted to Faye, it’s almost like reading a pamphlet on sex addiction. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed by the way that her pseudo-attraction to Faye was handled. I know that with sex addiction, a person might engage in sex with people that they aren’t really attracted to, but the whole “is she going to kiss me” thing that existed through most of their interactions was just shrugged away toward the end. I didn’t know if Mercedes was only thinking about Faye that way because she really doesn’t understand relationship boundaries or if she might not be as heterosexual as she eventually felt the need to declare she was. Sex addiction or figuring out that you’re LGBTQ might be an interesting topic to cover in a novel, but it needs to be addressed in a better way. Come to think of it: all of the issues that are described within the book need to be addressed properly. In attempting to counter the sex-negativity that people, especially women and girls, encounter in their lives, the book actually pushed an even more sex-negative outlook. The book essentially normalized sexual violence, parental neglect, and shaming young women for being interested in sex. That’s why I don’t think I could ever truly love this book. It almost seemed like a book I could like until it became clear that it was just another in a long line of anti-sex books with ambiguous attitudes toward abuse and sexual assault. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. View all my reviews

Review: Firsts



The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts: Murder and Memory in an American City by Laura Tillman My rating: 3 of 5 stars I don’t know how to explain my feelings toward this book. It is an extremely compelling story, but the writing quality is poor. There seemed to be no real outline or backbone to it. The purple prose only highlighted this flaw, as did the repetition of unimportant things and the lack of refreshers given for details that seemed more important. If all you knew about the case was the manner in which Julissa, John Stephon, and Mary Jane died, then it would seem impossible to feel bad for John Allen Rubio and Angela Camacho, but what happened to them within the justice system is awful for other reasons. This is a case where a man with a severe mental illness (paranoid schizophrenia) and an intellectual disability (IQ in the low 70s) and a woman who had a shared psychosis with this man because of her own intellectual disability (IQ in the 50s) end up imprisoned, and, for him, end up on death row, but the writer is busy talking about superstitions & personal fears. It’s almost like she doesn’t completely perceive the gravity of the situation, the level of injustice that’s going on. As lovely as it is to learn about regional cultural beliefs, I was more concerned about the fact that this man who should be in a hospital will probably face lethal injection. The writer could only view this as horrible once she met Mr. Rubio, but it seems like anyone with a basic sense of compassion would figure out after learning about his background. Instead, she was oblivious to it, which made her seem callous. It made the whole book feel callous. Also, the stalking of Ms. Camacho’s family was a bit disturbing. I understand she felt that she needed to hear from them for her newspaper article and her book, but her behavior was quite creepy. I’m surprised that they didn’t issue a restraining order after the second or third time she showed up outside the woman’s front door. The writing honestly reminded me of what you’d find in an essay by a bored, uninformed student who waited until the last minute to do an assignment. I have a hard time believing that this is something the writer was encouraged to get published, at least in its current form. I have no doubt that she has talent, but the fixations on pointless details within the work are distracting and annoying. I wish she had explained more about Rubio’s mental health than how a superstitious grandmother convinced her to throw away a perfectly good pair of tennis shoes. This wasn’t her memoir. This wasn’t even a memoir for the building. It was an unfocused work of nonfiction that was rather disappointing. View all my reviews

Review: The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts: Murder and Memory ...


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I like Zayn.1 I hate his “Pillow Talk” video & don’t really like the song. He looks bored and the video is just 100% tacky.2 Who thought it was a good idea to put flowers over her genitals and hearts3 on her nipples?456789 Whoever it was should be fired.10 And the random lesbian scenes, what’s that about? There are people who had LSD trips that weren’t as bizarre as this video.11 This was the music video equivalent of a MySpace profile with glitter graphics and auto-play songs. It’s just…a tacky vomitfest.      It’s obvious that he’s trying to prove he’s not just Zayn Malik of One Direction, but I feel like he’s trying too hard. The video looks like it was supposed to be artistic, but it was just kaleidoscopic, over saturated, exclusion/difference layer12 obsession weirdness.  Gigi Hadid is gorgeous, though.  No judging. ↩I’m being nice here. ↩These reminded me of some holographic heart stickers my mom used to order from Oriental Trading Company. I would stick them on my Valentines. ↩No, really. ↩  ↩ ↩    ↩   ↩I. TOLD. YOU. SO. ↩A floral pillowcase should cover their bosoms to mark them for this unforgivable sin. ↩I am still being kind here. ↩Actual Photoshop thing. ↩

Review: “Pillow Talk”



I read the book, so I wasn’t surprised by any of the numerous twists that Flynn imagined up in her story. I also wasn’t surprised that I found the movie just as convoluted and boring as the book. I still don’t understand how or why it attracted such a following. It’s the mystery/thriller/drama equivalent of the Scream franchise. It uses cliched, trope-filled action while critiquing the culture and society’s thirst for vengeance over justice. The unfortunate thing is that it gets caught up in being melodramatic and fails to adequately execute that social criticism. It’s awful. The actors do a great job, which is why it’s getting two stars instead of just one. I think the supporting cast deserves the most credit. They really try to sell the film. Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris both did absolutely incredible work. Ben isn’t one of my favorite actors, but I generally like his acting work. In this movie, I don’t. As Nick, he carries a constant grimace that just makes him look constipated. He looks more like he needs to find a box of laxatives than his missing wife. Like with the book, I think it is a waste of time and that you should really skip it unless you like the book or members of the cast. It’s just not worth the hype. There are so many better movies out there.

Review: Gone Girl


1
For Such a Time by Kate Breslin My rating: 1 of 5 stars Recommended for: Anne Rice; anyone who thinks that the dislike of this book is unfounded; bigots I’ve read many books that I could classify as “bad books” over the years, but this one is quite special in how awful it truly was. There was nothing enjoyable about Kate Breslin’s debut novel For Such a Time. First, let’s tackle something that was brought up repeatedly in the book and in its official descriptions. The lead female character Hadassah Benjamin (known through most of the novel as Stella Muller) has blonde hair and blue eyes. On the back of the copy I checked out of the local library, it is specifically described as, “her Aryan-like looks allow her to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller.” According to the official description on Amazon’s app, the description starts, “In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy.” On page 14 of the story, she is described this way, “Morty once told her that her beauty would save her–a “changeling,” he’d called his young niece, Stella’s blond hair and blue eyes a rarity among their people.” Early in the war, this might have protected her, but it wouldn’t have been guaranteed. When you consider that Werner Goldberg, the man who was literally the poster boy for the Aryan ideal, was expelled from the army in 1940 when it was discovered he was a “1st degree Mischilinge” and had to help his father escape a hospital in 1943 so that he wouldn’t be deported to Auschwitz, you can be sure that appearance wouldn’t guarantee the safety of a non-influential light-haired, light-eyed Jewish girl. And the supposed rarity of the trait is questionable due to the fact that now 32% of German-Jewish children also have blond hair. Brown (light and dark) and black hair each have slightly percentages than that. One would assume that the dark hair stereotype is just that, a stereotype. By focusing so much attention on the appearance of this woman who is also described as a savior, it is promoting a white supremacist ideal of beauty and moral value, while simultaneously justifying that ideal’s belief of punishing those who don’t fit their narrow standards of beauty. Somehow her beauty is able to trick Aric into believing that she isn’t really Jewish and that the papers that have been stamped saying that she is must have been wrong. Aric will eventually blame her for not telling him that she is Jewish and for not telling him that she did not support the Nazi’s cause. This is after he has seen her traumatized at the brutal killing of Anna while in a camp. He saw that this broke her spirit, but he believes she still might be willing to support Hitler and his group of bigoted, sociopathic thugs. Her beauty and position as Aric’s secretary also seem to convince every Nazi officer that she must be a prostitute. She even calls herself a “brazen hussy” when she is forced to kis Hermann in order to save the life of Joseph, Aric’s houseboy. And Hermann muses that she is a sorceress using her beauty to bewitch the Commandant into sympathizing with the prisoners. (Of course, Hermann also calls women weak-minded and mere vessels for man’s use, so he’s not exactly a great example of non-sexist thinking.) Another serious issue is the repeated use of rape and assault as a way to threaten Hadassah/Stella into doing things & the underlying Stockholm Syndrome-esque quality of the relationship between her and Aric. When she first meets Aric von Schmidt, she tells him that the Gestapo assaulted her in some way and suggests that it may have been a sexual assault attempt. He classifies their behavior as a prank. Twenty five pages into the book, he threatens her with being returned to Dachau while he tries to seduce her. She is reminded over and over that she is essentially his prisoner, that she has no true sense of free will or personhood, but that she should be thankful for his saving her and for his attraction to her. When she has a traumatic flashback in a nightmare around page 47, Aric expects her to be thankful that he’s moved her to Czechoslovakia with him, but he’s threatening her with being sent back. He even uses sexual innuendo in these conversations, while having no regard for the suffering that she has been through. All that he cares about is that attraction he has. And he tries to make that attraction seem more important than what he knows, as he witnessed some of it, she’s been through. He threatens her when she doesn’t want to do as he has told her, tells her he will send her to Dachau for not eating, forces her to eat food pork, forces her to type of the lists sending prisoners to Auschwitz, forces her to sit through meals as Aric and other SS officers talk about the benefits of slave labor in the camps and ghettos, threatens to kill people unless she kisses him, and forces her to agree to marry him. As I read the story, I saw his behavior as similar to Christian Grey’s behavior in the Fifty Shades series, only Aric was so much more vile. When the book started, Hadassah saw Aric as a “Jew Killer” and a potential threat to her safety. By page 82, she has begun to trust him, while knowing that he could turn on her at any moment if he found out who/what she really is. This is so reminiscent of Stockholm Syndrome. She is living in the home of an SS-Commandant and sees him as a good person who doesn’t really want to hurt Jews. She doesn’t recognize that he continuously fails to show real compassion for the prisoners in […]

Review: For Such a Time



I cannot believe such a horrible and exploitative show was ever greenlit. Actually, considering that A&E has shows that publicly shame hoarders and addicts, it really isn’t surprising they would expand their dehumanization to sex workers. It’s also not surprising that they misrepresent prostitution with their assumptions that prostitution is always human trafficking or than all prostitutes have pimps. They also portray the women as being morally and emotionally weak. They’re also shown as being unintelligent, drug addicts, and bad parents. It seems that they (including the “advocates” who are former prostitutes who shame and yell at the “victims”)1 don’t view these women as being fully human because of their profession. That’s really gross. The attitude of “Pastor Kevin” and his team towards prostitution, as well as the actual lack of resources that they provide to the women they’re “rescuing” is reminiscent of crisis pregnancy centers. There are grand promises they make to these women, but the reality of how they “rescue” them is a hotline number, a prayer, and a bunch of empty promises. None are trained to actually help or identify the people they claim to be rescuing. They coerce these women into talking about traumas and life stressors to at least two total strangers in the eight minute timeframe. They try to make these women trust them & seem shocked when they aren’t “empowered” to change. They seem shocked when they aren’t ready to leave a potentially abusive situation to go with a group of people who have emotionally abused you & lied to you in the less than ten minutes that you have known them. Human rights and sex worker advocates have rightly called them out for doing more harm than good to these women & to the cause of ending human trafficking. And when there are even reports that the women that said yes are being reported to cops? Yeah, that really sounds like they want to advocate for these people. And their idea that they are saving these women or that all sex workers need saving really speaks more to the egos of the “savior” than it does the SW. This show is messed up. I view the advocates as people who are dealing with Stockholm Syndrome. ↩

Review: 8 Minutes 


While It Lasts by Abbi Glines My rating: 2 of 5 stars As I mentioned in my reviews for Breathe and Because of Low, I had been boycotting books by this author until recently. I hoped that maybe I had unfairly judged Abbi Glines and her books. I figured out with Breathe that I wasn’t wrong. And I figured out that Because of Low followed the same pattern of book badness. Still, I thought that maybe I hated Because of Low so much because it featured a more misogynistic male lead. I thought that maybe womanizing Cage would be a bit more compassionate and less of a hate-filled horror show. I was wrong. They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I don’t think that fully covers it. This book inspired me to re-define insanity: Insanity, n.: reading book after book by a particular author and expecting to make it through one without some level of degrading comments toward a particular gender, biological sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, level of ability, class, etc. In other words, this book is so degrading toward women that I seriously started to worry about all the hate being shared. What if this sort of writing inspires more internalized misogyny? How does that help anyone? There is some serious hate going on toward Eva and all female characters. For example, the continued usage of the term “female” or “females” to degrade any woman in the book. It is used specifically and generally. No similar usage of “male” or “males” exists. What’s so bad about “female”/”females”? It’s a scientific term that reduces an organism down to sex. It dehumanizes women by classifying them only by their reproductive organs, it excludes the trans community and those who are not biologically female, and is used solely as a way to speak negatively about one or more female characters. There’s also the grammatical faux pas of using female as a noun; it’s an adjective. That’s why it is 100% cool for me to say “female characters” and 0% okay for a writer to say things like “with the females”–which was actually used in this particular novel. Cage, who I semi-respected in Because of Low, is a misogynist in this book. He makes his first ignorant observation on the tenth page because she doesn’t respond positively to his flirting. I don’t know why this kind of behavior is presented as acceptable for a male love interest to exhibit, but it really isn’t. If a guy treats you like crap in the real world, get away from him. He’s a bad dude. And if he hangs out with a group of extreme misogynists and does not call them out on it, get away from him. Quickly. This sort of thing isn’t sexy behavior. He doesn’t respect you, he hates you. Eva was okay. She was a bit judgmental towards all other women her age. Her cruelty toward her female friends was appalling–even in the instances where it was exhibited solely through the narration. There was very little respect for her personal issues that resulted from the loss of her ex-fiancé. Her grieving and behavior was presented like most of the other mental health issues that Glines tackles: like it’s a character flaw. That still bothers me. And it should bother others. Any writer who suggests things like depression, grief, anxiety, trauma, suicide, drug use, alcoholism, etc. are simply signs of personal weakness is promoting ignorance and stigma. That makes struggling with these issues harder on the real patients who have them. I did have a least favorite minor character. Eva’s ex-fiancé’s mother, who is also the mother of Eva’s best friend, was condescending and I could not sympathize with this woman. She is so self-serving. She tears the relationship between Eva and Cage apart, which I would have supported if it had been based on legitimate factors–not Cage being poor and having a DUI. (Poor-shaming behavior is another thing I’ve come to expect in these books.) It strained not only Eva and Cage’s relationship, but the relationships that Eva has with other individuals. The writing in the book is horrible. Aside from the continued grammatical issues and the choice of uneducated rural phrasing, there are fact issues in this book that I would think an NCAA fan would have picked up on; especially one who is an SEC sports fan. The premise of the story is that Cage is on Eva’s dad’s farm as punishment from being picked up on a DUI. Who bailed him out? His baseball coach. A baseball coach, a booster, or any individual associated with the university cannot give money to a player, nor can they use their money on behalf of a player. Doing so would lead to an NCAA investigation and could lead to fines, loss of eligibility, a coach being terminated, and other not-so-great things. This flaw in the premise lowers the overall quality of the book. And, as you can probably tell, the quality was not high to begin with. Another issue with the book is that there is a lack of depth to the story. You have a bad boy who seems like he can’t hurt a fly and a good girl who is sexually and emotionally inept. In other words, you have the same exact two leads that you’ve had for the previous books in this series. Reinventing the wheel is pretty lazy. The shallowness of the story, as well as it’s predictability, makes it so freaking boring that I was often looking for things to distract me from reading. Readers should be headed toward a book to ease boredom, not headed away from it. I’m confused about why the Sea Breeze books are classified as Young Adult. They are quite sexually explicit. They’re very descriptive of anything and everything sexual in nature. They also promote some mistaken beliefs about female sexuality: (1.) that the first time always has to hurt, […]

Review: While It Lasts



Because of Low by Abbi Glines My rating: 2 of 5 stars As I mentioned in my review for Breathe, I broke my boycott of books by Abbi Glines. I had been hoping that my disdain for the books I’d read was misplaced. And with Breathe, I figured out that it wasn’t. Considering how negatively I felt towards Marcus Hardy in that book, it doesn’t surprise me that in Because of Low, I also found him to be a loathesome, misogynistic miscreant. (Say that three times fast.) This book is so much more degrading toward women than most books by this author. That’s really saying something because it is a common feature of her books to have women portrayed as objects and toys for the male characters to manipulate, abuse, etc. So when I say that this book is absolute misogynist trash, believe it. Marcus is having family issues because his daddy decided to cheat on his mom. While he hates his father’s decision and often complains about it in his own inner monologues, his vitriol is unleashed on the other woman. The nicest things he calls her is: gold-digger, that slut, and his little girlfriend. He repeatedly calls her a whore. He even calls her a “paid-for” toy. He often suggests that his dad is being used for his money and that that indicates how he’s a sucker. He thinks one time that he might kill his father, but then he suggests that he might have an even more elaborate plan for his father’s girlfriend. That part honestly had me a bit freaked out because it took the sexism into a whole new level of awful. Marcus has an obsession with stalking and sexually accosting innocent girls. That too carries over to this book. But this time, the innocent girl is interested. He wonders things like if Low knows that her BFF “had bagged” a certain number of women that week. Bagging or being bagged is grotesque. It not only objectifies women, it makes sex sound like something that is done to one party by another, when it’s not. Even in power-play sexual relationships, sex doesn’t work that way. When sex is something done to a party by another party, it’s called by another word: rape. So, we either need to call the sex between Cage and various women sex or we need to call it rape. If it’s consensual, then we should go with sex. If it isn’t, someone should be calling the fictional police department of the fictional town of Sea Breeze to report this sexual predator. Marcus talks about how he has a righteous fury toward Cage over any possible sexual relationship between Cage and Low. He envies him touching her. Marcus fails to understand that Low is a grown-up. She gets to do what she wants with her body. He gets angry because Low wears cowboy boots when she goes out. They’re so hot on her that he can’t handle the thought of any guy being attracted to her while she wears them. He needs to stop this crap. He talks about going caveman, which is trashy book talk for basically wanting to take a woman back to his apartment/house/mansion and coerce or force a sexual act out of a woman because she’s either pissed him off or because he is feeling insecure. It’s really a degrading phrase for all of humanity. The author uses the term “female” or its plural “females” in many of her books to refer to women. This is sexist and transphobic language. It’s sexist because it breaks women down to their reproductive organs–female is the term for biological sex. It’s transphobic because not all women are born female and not all people born female are women. As usual with her books, there are also slams at single parents. Tawny is portrayed as so uncaring that she leaves her daughter’s care arrangements (baby-sitters being lined up) to her sister. She is portrayed as being a cruel individual because she kicks her sister out any time that her daughter’s father happens to be around, so she leaves her sister homeless. There are also references to Low’s mom dying of cancer, which is something that is not uncommon in her books. And Low’s dad is a deadbeat & Marcus’s almost turns into one; these are other things that come up quite often in her books. There are slams of people who have had plastic surgery–a lot containing talk about breasts being fake and how that makes women ugly or trashier. Low even does this with Trisha. She sees her as a sex object first and can only picture her being good at sex work. This sort of judgment doesn’t work both ways, as she respects her and takes up for her when the guys suggest Low might not be very smart. And if a woman is into casual sex? Oh, honey, don’t even go there. That must mean that she’s an airheaded slut because that’s how they all behave in these books. But the guys who like casual relationships aren’t portrayed as stupid. Lead male characters who have history of casual relationships are suggested to be lacking morally, but that doesn’t keep them from ending up with a girl who has only had and will only ever have sex with them. Yep, the douchebags always get the virgins. I feel like this plot was stolen from an MRA website. The male characters in the books need to learn to stop ignoring when women say that they aren’t interested. In this book, it was Cage who didn’t get it. But both Marcus and Cage spent some time talking about Low as though she was some prize in a contest, not a person. Cage also had a tendency toward trying to tear Low down. It was presented as a best friend being compassionate and caring, but it was a type of bullying. He tried to ruin any confidence that Low had about her relationship. If […]

Review: Because of Low


Breathe by Abbi Glines My rating: 2 of 5 stars Once upon a time, I decided that I was never going to read another book by Abbi Glines again after reading books in the Rosemary Beach series. They were books that degraded women and promoted sexist ideas, stigmatized mental illness, and suggested adoption meant that your adoptive parents weren’t your parents. Her books also tended to lack things like plot and proper grammar. Well, I changed my mind when I found the Sea Breeze books in my local public library’s catalog. I figured that if I didn’t have to buy the book that I wouldn’t feel quite as disappointed if it sucked. I was right. Of course, I went in with the expectation that the book would be pretty bad, so I shouldn’t have been disappointed at all. But there were still some slight feelings of disappointment. I think they were mainly due to the fact that I felt that a book like this one should not have been published in the first place. As you have probably figured out by now, I was not a fan of the book. As with other books by Glines, there were serious issues with her writing style. The dialogue never flowed right. Conversations were wooden; they felt forced. There was only one continuity issue that I found, which is better than some authors do. There were some grammar issues, of course. I was a bit taken aback by the capitalization issues with directions. It seemed like no one had been taught that regions get capitalized. I even wondered if maybe I wasn’t remembering my English classes properly. I wasn’t. It was just that the writer and/or the editor failed to recognize it. There was a lot of repetition going on. One example is the introduction of Dewayne. Over the course of two pages, his name was mentioned six times, including one time where it was misspelled. You would think with that many mentions of him that he was an important character. He wasn’t. I’m not even sure if he showed up at any other point in the book, but I digress. Another example of repetition, in the first twenty pages of the book, Sadie, the seventeen-year old lead female character, complained about the cost of the condoms she bought for her mother. She would go on to complain about that through the book, as well as her mom’s sex life. Speaking of things Sadie did that were annoying, she was extremely whiny and judgmental. She viewed herself as being superior to her mom because she had never been interested in dating. She was a “good girl” and her mom was treated like some sort of evil, unintelligent, lazy, slutty monster. It was clear fairly early in the book that her mom needed some therapeutic help, but Sadie just wrote her off as being spoiled and selfish. There was a dependence upon tropes and stereotypes. Marcus, who is four years older than Sadie, was described as a “nice guy” and he behaved in a way consistent being a Nice Guy™. He befriended Sadie when she first started working with him. He was her first friend and she didn’t feel attracted to him, but he was extremely attracted to her–or attracted to what she represented. He would tell her how she wasn’t like other girls, which Jax also told her. (Writers, can you stop using that line in books? No one is 100% like any other person.) As Sadie expressed her body image issues, Marcus told her that he hoped that she stayed “this way. Sweet and innocent.” He basically was telling her that her self-esteem issues made he attractive. No. No. No. Marcus also had a tendency to follow her around and always seemed to show up whenever she was crying about something–this was particularly disturbing because the crying typically happened after he shared some gossip about Jax. (He even had his sister stalk her for him.) He was actively working to end her relationship with Jax, which he knew hurt her, so that he could be with her. This is not acceptable. This is not what a nice person does, but it is what a Nice Guy™ would do. And his badness didn’t end there. Sadie told Marcus that she wasn’t interested in him as anything other than a friend. She told him that she wass in love with Jax. She actually rejected him a few times. And what did he do? He waits until Jax is out of town and Sadie is alone and he kisses her. This was after yet another time where she told him that she wasn’t interested. This is a type of assault. If she hadn’t run away, I wonder if he would have tried to rape her. You might think that with all this Marcus talk that he was one of the leads. Nope. He was a secondary character. Jax was one of the leads, but Jax was a poorly developed character. As a teen pop star, he had a life that he led in front of the cameras and a different life he led in private. It doesn’t get much more descriptive than that. There was talk of the “old him”, but it was mainly just little mentions of how he had changed at some point in his career. One of the frustrations that I felt towards his character was after the Marcus kiss attack, he flew all the way across the country to rescue Sadie. That felt like he was underestimating Sadie’s ability to take care of herself. In the whole time that they were together, the brooding pop star began making her more and more dependent upon him. And here’s where I get to another thing that really bugged me about this book. This book felt like Glines took different parts of all four Twilight books and mixed them up, then wrote a story. The love triangle between Marcus, Sadie, and Jax was so similar to Jacob, […]

Review: Breathe