Books


Well, Richard Paolinelli decided to offer me a shot at being published by his company because he’s determined that I have a sad, unfulfilling life. He probably won’t understand why I rejected his condescending, passive-aggressive offer, even though I think I explained it pretty well: That’s an interesting telling of this tale, Richard. I was the one who had been insulted and attacked on Twitter. After I wrote a tweet that he didn’t agree with, he said I was a man, he said I was incapable of thinking, etc. He had repeatedly called me names and had made racist & sexist remarks toward a friend of mine. I pointed this out to you and you started making sexist remarks toward me. No, I didn’t respect your friend after he began harassing me. No length of time in the military excuses harassment. I don’t know anyone by the name of Johnny Walker and I don’t have troll accounts. I did put you on a will-not-read and my author-boycott lists, but that shouldn’t bother you. (It also shouldn’t bother you that Anne Rice or Brad Thor is on that list, and I won’t explain why any of them are on the list because it’s not your business. Just know that I keep that list so that I personally know which authors I don’t want to read.) You had already said that you didn’t want me or my friends to read any of your work. I would love to know who your fellow author-friends are, especially if they’re making determinations about my life that are obviously very flawed. One could say that maybe the reason that I’m so busy is that I design jewelry and am the sole caregiver to a mother with kidney failure and a father with dementia, but that would require one to actually put forth a little more effort than just reading a years-old bio on Goodreads. I don’t care that you pity me. I don’t want to have a hand-up or a hand-out from you because I don’t trust you. You have done nothing to make me think that you’ll actually help. If/when I decide to finish my books and try to get an agent and a publisher, then I want to do it on my own. P.S.: It’s Alabamian, not Alabaman. I also posted this on Goodreads:  I didn’t realize that it was consider “trolling” to have a will-not-read or an author-boycott shelf on Goodreads. Here I thought it was my way of keeping track of the books that I will not read and the authors that I will not read. Apparently a particular author who I recently added to that list decided to label it as such and accused me of giving him fake 1-star reviews. (I didn’t rate any of the books.) I really don’t get why he thinks it’s any of his business who is on my will-not-read and author-boycott lists. Whether he’s on the lists or someone else in on the list, it really isn’t his concern. Also, most authors know that it’s not the best idea to publicly balk at being on a person’s author-boycott or will-not-read list. That tends to lead to more people adding you to their lists and to weird scandals a la Kathleen Hale’s reverse Misery stunt. I never give fake reviews. I used one book to explain why I was adding him to the list. I didn’t rate the book because I haven’t read the book in whole or in part. (I’ve been nervous about rating books that I marked as will-not-finish because I don’t want to give a fake rating.) I’ve seen some authors who think that any review under 4-5 stars is fake. That’s not true. Some people just don’t like your books. People are entitled to opinions about your works. They don’t have to be positive ones. And they are entitled to share those opinions with their friends and family members…and total strangers. And a person can like some of your books and still decide to boycott you. Books by Charlaine Harris that I haven’t read are marked as will-not-read. Books by her that I have and have not read are marked as author-boycott because I chose to quit reading her books. That’s a right that I have as a reader and as a consumer. I get to decide how I spend my money and my time. If an author doesn’t like being on that list, then they probably should just avoid looking at the list. I really wish that authors who behave badly would stop pretending like they’re victims when readers say that they want nothing to do with them anymore.

Poor Richard’s Attitude   Recently updated!


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 most important thing to know about Margaretha Zelle is that she loved men. The most crucial thing to know about her is that she did not love truth. When it was convenient, she told the truth. When it was not, or when she found the truth tedious, she invented what might be kindly called “alternative truths”—and unkindly, “lies.” For her, what was factually true never seemed as essential as what should have been true.” – Femme Fatale: Love, Lies, and The Unknown Life of Mata Hari by Pat Shipman via Tumblr Photo credit: FaceMePLS via VisualHunt / CC BY

“The problem the WRP faced in connecting pregnancy to their line of sex-discrimination was this: Even if a man could take care of the kids and the elders, and a woman could join the air force and handle the family finances, only one of them could get pregnant and give birth. RBG and her team had to convince the justices that pregnancy too was a matter of equality—or inequality—and not just something special that women indulged in, off on their own. Even more radically, RBG wanted the Supreme Court to recognize that women would never be equal if they could not control their reproductive lives, whether they wanted to be pregnant or not. That meant the right to an abortion, and it meant the right to be free of discrimination for staying pregnant.” – Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik via Tumblr Photo credit: national museum of american history via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

“The problem the WRP faced in connecting pregnancy to their ...



“Treating men and women differently under the law, RBG told the justices, implied a “judgment of inferiority.” It told women their work and their families were less valuable. “These distinctions have a common effect,” RBG said sternly. “They help keep woman in her place, a place inferior to that occupied by men in our society.” – Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik via Tumblr Photo credit: WFULawSchool via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

“The adoring portrayal of an older woman like RBG as both fierce and knowing, points out the feminist author Rebecca Traister, is “a crucial expansion of the American imagination with regard to powerful women.” For too long, Traister says, older women have been reduced in our cultural consciousness to “nanas, bubbes” or “ballbusters, nutcrackers, and bitches.”” – Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik via Tumblr Photo credit: allaboutgeorge via VisualHunt / CC BY-ND