Review: The Switch

The Switch
The Switch by Diane Whiteside
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The Switch was a really bad book. I absolutely loathed this book. I knew five pages in that this book was going to be boring and, in that aspect alone, I was not disappointed.

The book was excessively repetitive on topics that weren’t really all that important to the story-line. An example is Beth’s continuous grief over Dennis. I get it. This was set two months after 9/11 and he had supposedly died when the World Trade Center collapsed. It would be reasonable for a person to grief and to obsess over the loss of their friend in such a traumatic way. But it didn’t seem like she was even mentioning it as part of the grief. It seemed like a ploy by the author to make Beth more sympathetic. The same goes for Sean’s character with the continuous rehashing of his dead wife’s aneurysm and stroke history–and how it was so horrible that she didn’t want to have sex with him because of how extreme her pain was. There was never any real depth added to Beth and Sean’s feelings toward Dennis and Tiffany.

There also wasn’t any depth to the feelings between Beth and Sean. They used one another to act out fantasies, ones that had already been described in depth. One chapter spent more time describing Beth’s fantasy (in a sort of “flashback”/italicized way) of having sex with a conquering hero than it did on Beth doing anything in real life. Sometimes it seemed like there was more time spent by the characters masturbating about their fantasies with one another than they ever actually spent with one another.

It’s also worth noting that the fantasies themselves were really, really awful. Beth had a fantasy of conspiring with the Germans against the French Resistance during World War II, which would then lead to her kidnapping and rape by the Resistance, which would turn into a D/s sex scene. Yes, a white author wrote a biracial character having a fantasy that involved helping a government that preached vehement hatred of anyone who wasn’t 100% white. Though Hitler technically named Japanese persons “Honorary Aryans”, there were still laws against inner-marriage and there were still potential acts of discrimination perpetrated against them. That made that particular scenario more than a bit disturbing. Several of Beth’s fantasies dealt with potentially racist ideas.

This is one of those books that after you read it, you want to take a shower–and not a cold one. It has a very high ick factor which, when combined with it’s very high boring factor, makes it practically unreadable. I would recommend finding something else to read.

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Review: Anything He Wants

Anything He Wants
Anything He Wants by Sara Fawkes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book. How do I explain how I feel about this book? My feelings toward this book are very complicated. Why? I found the book entertaining, but it was also horrible. The things that entertained me were the worst parts. A good example of this is the horrible quality of the writing itself.

The writing was repetitive to the max. One of the favorite repeated phrases in the sex scenes was the main character’s “weeping entrance”. It was inspiring thoughts of either weeping blisters and hives or the Weeping Angels of Doctor Who. Neither of those images are really conductive to setting up a hot scene. And when this happens in almost every chapter–sometimes multiple times in a single chapter–it becomes really hard to take. I didn’t know if I should just laugh at that particular issue or throw the book at the television. It was really confusing. There were other things that were regularly repeated, which mainly had to do with Jeremiah’s genitalia. It felt like the writer lacked the creativity to come up with any other descriptions of the characters.

There were some spelling and grammar issues, as well. The most memorable one for me was where Lucy was noticing how the “sunlight shown” into the room. I’ve heard that sometimes publishers leave grammar mistakes in to ward off bad luck, so maybe that’s why that particular noticeable error got left in this story.

Aside from the bad writing, there was the problem of just how disgustingly abusive Jeremiah was. You think that Christian Grey is bad? Jeremiah is, in many ways, much, much worse. Where Christian kissed Ana on the elevator before she knew of his sexual proclivities, but after they had actually had a few conversations, Jeremiah fingers Lucy on the elevator the very first time he is on the elevator alone with her. He didn’t even know her name before that day and she didn’t know his until the next day. And he didn’t have permission by her to finger her. She was attracted to him, which he took to mean that he could do whatever he wanted without ever asking. The next meeting with him is more intense and more grotesque. He sneaks up on her, has sex with her, and then offers her a ride home, but seems shocked when she doesn’t want to get in the car with a man whose name she doesn’t know and who just had sex with her without getting consent.

The next day, she finds out who he is and that he knows a lot about who she is.

After terrifying her by having her come to his office, he tells her that he’s been planning on firing all the temps, which is what she is, but that he wants to hire her as his personal assistant. Part of her duties include doing, as the title says, anything he wants. Because Lucy is poor and no one else is hiring, she sees the job as being necessary to her survival. This is coercive. It is sexual harassment. It is abusive. Her choice has essentially been taken away and she even admits as much. Lucy has been stripped of her basic rights & dignity and we’re just 3 chapters into the story.

Of course, there’s the nice-ish side to Jeremiah. There’s the side that some people might see as being caring and compassionate. Usually, it is just him throwing a tantrum about how he hired her to whatever he wants. And the tantrums work. He gets what he wants over and over again. This is not a Dominant and submissive relationship. This is an overgrown toddler dehumanizing a woman who has been through enough trauma and grief already in her young life.

Most of the book is about sex between Jeremiah and Lucy. It seems that it’s used to distract the reader from noticing that there’s not really any development of the characters or the plot. The suspenseful part of the book isn’t that suspenseful. It’s just random acts of nakedness and violence thrown together in a very haphazard sort of way.

I may read the sequel to this story, but I will only be doing so if I see it at my local library. I would not buy it and I’m reconsidering my desire to read any other works by this author.

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Review: The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin
The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was the kind of book that I didn’t want to put down, but also couldn’t read much of at one time. There was just a lot of information that I needed time to be process. There was a lot of talk of vile things like torture, war, murder, etc., which was uncomfortable to read unless I took breaks between sections of the story.

Another slight issue is that the book was dry, but I wasn’t reading it because I wanted to read a good story. I was reading it for the information and insight that it could provide. The information was so intriguing that I didn’t want to stop reading it. Before reading the book, I knew that this man was one who has encouraged homophobia, sexism, and who was linked to some very suspicious deaths of political dissidents. The story painted in the book showed that my personal description of him was way too nice. One could argue that everything was conjecture and speculation, but I can’t. There were so many well-known victims of this man’s corruption who were mentioned and whose stories were told in even more depth than I’d seen before. It helped to give this book more credence in my perspective.

Several people have said that it is a biased account, which is obvious without their stating it. She lived under someone who can easily be classified as an authoritarian or a tyrant. That would lead one to develop certain opinions of that political leader. And when the leader is notoriously private about his life and is a real “lives in the shadows” personality, it is hard to present the full picture of this man. Gessen did the best that she could with the information that she was available to accumulate. The whole idea of him being “a man without a face” comes from his extremely secretive nature and ability to be whatever the situation requires him to be–so long as it doesn’t conflict with his own personal interests.

I think this is definitely a very informative book and that people who are interested in Putin, Russia, and the more recent history of the country will enjoy the book. Other people probably should look for something a little less intense.

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Fifty Shades of Tame

I saw Fifty Shades of Grey today and…

  • The movie is better than the book. That was the consensus of everyone who talked about it as they left the auditorium.
  • The movie doesn’t include most of the abusive behavior. Anything abusive that was left in was not as bad as it was in the book.
  • Ana actually comes off as less of a “doormat” and Christian isn’t as horrifyingly creepy as he was in the book. He actually comes off as almost sympathetic, which could be worse in some ways because it might lull some people into thinking that his behavior is acceptable. 
  • The movie highlights how poorly written the books were. Like the books, there’s no real plot. There’s no real way to gauge the time. It ends in what should have been before or during the climax of the story, but that’s a problem with the books. 
  • Though Christian mentions his mom’s drug use (and her preference) and being a prostitute, there was no calling her a crack whore. (His doing that in the books always made me cringe.)
  • I don’t know why they couldn’t hire total nobodies for roles like Mia and Grace. They barely had any lines at all. Also, Max Martini’s main job in the film as Jason Taylor is to stand behind Jamie/Christian and take objects from his hands. It felt like they were using him as an extra.
  • There was one scene where you could infer that oral sex was supposed to be happening. And it was actually a Christian going down on Ana one, which is still oddly taboo in American cinema. But it was the only oral scene. It was also the only real foreplay scene of any kind, which is a little cringe-worthy because there would be a whole lot of chafing.
  • And there were a lot of shots of Dakota’s magically always-erect nipples and Jamie’s very lovely butt. 
  • Oh, if you don’t want to see the movie yourself, for whatever reason, I would still recommend getting the soundtrack. It’s pretty damn awesome.

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Review: The Proposition

The Proposition
The Proposition by Katie Ashley
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I’m not really sure what other people are seeing in this book when they rate it so highly. It wasn’t good.

Emma is clearly in need of some therapy to get over her fiancé’s death. The dude died four years earlier and she’s still treating it like it’s the first day after his death. I think that her inability to truly get over his death is part of why she is so obsessed with having a baby before she turns thirty. (Unless she has a full-on fertility issue, she shouldn’t be as concerned about being almost 30 and baby-less. And clearly she doesn’t, since it only takes a couple of tries.)

Aidan’s proposition was also pretty shameful and could be considered sexual harassment. He isn’t seducing her. He isn’t really even helping her. He wanted to have sex with her and she turned him down, so he uses her obsession with having a baby to advance his own agenda. That’s not a sign of a caring and giving person.

There were some serious issues with overzealous religious types. Emma’s backwoods family get-together was so trope-y that I almost expect it to be a prequel for Deliverance. I could almost hear the banjos playing in the background as I read. I know a lot of people still have issues with the idea of out of wedlock pregnancies, but these people were a bit over the top about it.

And then there was the male entitlement and slut-shaming. A cleaning lady at the office simply smiled at Aidan and he thought she was being a tease. That’s pretty indicative of some of the more problematic thinking that went on in this book. Of course, it fits in well with the previously mentioned Wanna Baby attitude that Emma has, the religious nuts, and Emma’s judgmental tendencies toward certain sex positions. (Who knew that kitchen sex was trashy? Only Emma and some people who probably have very boring sex lives.) Women are treated as sex objects whose only real importance is to provide pleasure for the men and babies to continue the human race. Basically, women are just ovaries, a uterus, and a vagina, but not in the well-written, let’s-stop-thinking-this-way style of The Handmaid’s Tale. No, this is one that PROMOTES the idea that the only value a woman has is her fertility and her ability to make a guy orgasm. Very, very backwards. Very, very gross.

It was extremely easy to read. Sometimes ease of reading is a good thing, but in this book it most certainly wasn’t. It was too easy to read. There wasn’t really enough going on in the story, which made it too short. It also left it feeling like she didn’t truly put effort into the story. There was a lot of rushing going on and the sex was boring. There was no chemistry between the characters, which meant that the entire story felt very flat.

I knew going into the book that it wasn’t going to be some great work of literature, which is why I waited until I found a copy at my local library. Of course there was a cliffhanger, so the author wants you to pay up so you can find out what happens next. She needn’t have done that because this book was short enough that another 200 pages or so wouldn’t have been some horrifying reading task. I can only assume that she split the book into two parts because she wants the moolah. Well, I have no intention of buying the other books because the quality is so low and the story-line/style is so offensive. I may want to know what happens with these characters, but I will only find out if I stumble across a copy of them at the library. And I really hope that my library doesn’t buy the other books because they could spend that money on much better books.

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Review: The Destiny of Violet & Luke

The Destiny of Violet & Luke
The Destiny of Violet & Luke by Jessica Sorensen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher of The Destiny of Violet & Luke through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review.

I would say that this book was an extreme disappointment, except that it wasn’t. It was exactly what I expected from Sorensen. Her stories are extremely formulaic–from the swirling script font choice for the titles to the characters being horribly broken with abusive pasts to the plotless stories where you’re waiting for the inevitable coupling followed by some “cliffhanger” ending where they are torn apart or just the regular issues with things like grammar and spelling. (As this was one that was not self-published, I had hoped that the grammar would be better. That it wasn’t was actually a disappointment.) When it comes to sticking to her formula, Sorensen doesn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, her choice to write such formulaic stories is a disappointment because I think that Sorensen could actually write a really good story if she put a little more effort into it.

There’s nothing truly special about this book or this couple. Yes, they are broken, but this is not any different from any other couple she writes about. The stigmatized virginal girl and misunderstood oversexed boy have been the leads in her Ella and Micha & Callie and Kayden books. The boy having a substance abuse issue isn’t all that unusual, nor is the girl engaging in self-destructive/parasuicidal behaviors and lying to those close to her. I could easily change the names of the characters to those of her other books and have the same stories that I’ve already read by her. There’s not really any respect for the issues that Luke and Violet suffer from. They’re just there to help advance the idea of these characters being poor unfortunate souls.

The relationship and the attraction feels forced. It seems that she was so determined to hook these characters up that she didn’t actually feel the need to describe how these feelings were changing. Their love story needed a little more work, as did the character development. But, again, this is not any different from every other book of hers that I have read. There were no true surprises or developments in any other aspect of the story. The ending issue? It wasn’t something that threw anyone who had been paying attention for most of the book. The only “shocker” is that it drove them apart. It didn’t really change anything within their relationship and they had answers to some of their questions, but it shouldn’t have driven them apart. It seemed that the only reason that it did was that this would allow Sorensen to write yet another book about these characters; a book that will probably be almost exactly like this.

But here’s the completely wackadoodle part of all of this: I still want to know what happens with them. The book may not be special and may be exactly what I’ve read before. The characters may just be the same ones she’s written over and over, but I want to know what happens to them. And THAT is why the book is getting a two-star rating instead of a one-star one. Sorensen has enough writing talent and story-telling skills that even with all this craptasticness I still want to discover what happens to these two broken souls.

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Review: Captivated by You

Captivated by You
Captivated by You by Sylvia Day
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s the people you love who hurt you the most. This could be a good way to sum up the “plot” of the book and a good way to explain how this book was really disappointing.

This is one of my favorite series and authors, so it would be fair to say that I expect a lot from these books. This book did not deliver. It would have been more acceptable in a series I wasn’t a fan of or an author that I didn’t expect more from, but from Day? This book just wasn’t up to snuff.

Switching between the perspectives of Gideon and Eva was, shockingly, not that bad. That part was done well, but I did feel like Day hadn’t really thought out Gideon’s perspective on everything. His chapters felt less developed and some of the word choices during them (i.e. the continued use of lush to describe Eva’s curves) did drag things down a bit.

My biggest issue with the book was that it lacked a real plot. There was no real sense of purpose in the book. I knew in the beginning that despite their doubts Gideon and Eva would still be together in the end. I knew that they would get through their big obstacles. But I didn’t expect there to be as much of a cop-out in developing a real story. Gideon and Eva are both stormy characters and, even in the most dramatic of scenes, they were really weak in this book. There was no real bite in either of them.

I hate suggesting that she didn’t put enough effort into the story, but that is how it came across. Maybe she felt rushed or maybe she just needed to get certain plot points out before the next book, so she was just setting up the next one. I do know that I was very disappointed by it. I don’t know what exactly led to this book and the drop in quality, but I’m hoping that the next book makes up for it.

I would like to note that for anyone with a history of being abused or who is triggered by such things that this book has very graphic descriptions of sexual abuse. If that is something that might impact you personally, you might want to stay away for that reason. Also there is some casual mentioning of self-harm

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