Review: Because of Low

Because of Low
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 he was trying to convince her to leave Marcus because he’s a jerk, I could have gotten behind that, but he suggested that Marcus would leave because Low was too poor for him. Great. Really great friendship you have there.

And, for the love of all that’s good in the world, can we stop talking about suicide and mental illness like it’s a character flaw? It isn’t. These are actual health conditions and do not deserve this kind of crap.

Basically, there is a lot about this story that squicks me out. And that’s not even the more technical facets. The grammar is atrocious. The editing is awful. There’s a lack of development of the story. It feels like Glines writes pretty much the same story over and over. That might be popular with some, but it’s boring for others. I think she might be a decent writer if she would stop doing that and start writing books that she puts a full effort behind.

I am going to try to finish this series, even though I’m pretty sure that no book in it will ever get above a 2-star rating. People who enjoy Glines’ books will probably love this one. People who don’t won’t. It’s really that simple.

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Review: Breathe

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, Bella, and Edward. The annoying behaviors, beliefs, and actions of each character, as well as the levels of character development for each were consistent with those three Twilight characters. I know that the Twilight books are not considered to be particularly high quality writing, but they were so much better than this book’s regurgitation of them.

There were, of course, other little things that made me want to scream. The speech patterns of the various servants who worked at the mansion seemed to be modeled after the slaves from Gone with the Wind. There were regular comments about most girls being materialistic and slutty. There was this association of sexual behavior of women being linked to a lack of self-control, self-esteem, and morals. Sexual women were either super-dumb or super-devious; they were deserving of whatever plight might befall them. Every time Sadie had any sort of sexual experience, something bad happened. Sexist men were treated like they were the perfect specimen of masculinity. It was all very disturbing and infuriating.

If you like past works by Glines, then it’s possible that you will like this one. If you don’t, then you probably won’t.

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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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AP Stylebook: Preferred Pronoun

“Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.”

AP Stylebook on Transgender Pronoun Usage
via Tumblr

This is a hoe.

This is a hoe.

It doesn’t look much like a person to me. It looks more like something you would use to garden with. (Or, if you’re particularly antisocial, as a weapon.) Calling a person a “hoe” means that you are calling them this gardening tool.

Oh, but you meant to say “ho” because you think the person is a whore. As if you’re in a position to judge someone else’s sex life and/or occupation.

You’re not.

If a person dresses in a provocative way, then you shouldn’t judge them. If they have a reputation for being sexual, then you shouldn’t judge them. If they are a sex worker, then you shouldn’t judge them.

The only person you have the right to judge in this world is yourself.

via Tumblr

That Awkward Moment When: I Apparently Owned Slaves

I always thought that in order to be accused of being a slave master that a person had to actually own slaves. If they didn’t do that, they would at least need to do something like be a pimp or help human trafficking in some other way. Apparently not. Apparently, I am a slave master. That’s right. Me.

In what was perhaps the most unusual experience that I have ever had on Twitter, I found out that I am apparently promoting the slave trade. I guess I do that on the same days that the world spins backward. You know, the ones where I support the policies of Hitler, kill as many babies as a mythological troll, have sex with anything that moves because I can’t figure out how to close my legs, and prostitute myself for all those Big Macs that I eat. Yeah, to be the most unusual experience on Twitter, you have to really be saying something truly wackadoodle in nature, and this guy was doing it.

As these incidents seem to always begin, someone brought up welfare and another person brought up abortion. I saw a tweet that I found strange, where a guy (I’m using male as a gender default here) said, “Think of how many millions of minority kids would be alive, if Liberals [sic] didn’t exist!!”1 Aside from the grammar issues2 and the blatantly racist idea that abortions are something that happen only with minorities3, this particular idea seems to suggest that liberals are actively trying to kill minority children or promote a service that is designed to kill minority children. I know that some people like to bring up the whole Margaret Sanger inspired Hitler thing that some RWNJs like to harp on, but that’s just promoting propaganda that has been debunked many, many times. Anyway, to this particular wackadoodle I said, “Liberals support social programs providing food, shelter, & education to underprivileged kids. I’m not sure how that would kill any minority kids.” This led to his first claim of my being a slave master by saying, “No, Liberal policies support voting certain segments of citizens into slavery & forcing them to pay YOU benefits, in name of poor!” Now, aside from the fact that this didn’t make a lick of sense to me, I took a bit of offense to being accused of being a party to slavery. Before his second question was received, I was responding with the question of “Which groups are liberals forcing into slavery?”

His second question came through right as I sent off my first response, “You believe someone owes you free healthcare?” Now, let’s a take a second to remember that I am on disability for physical and mental health problems. I actively seek and receive treatment for these issues. I am trying to improve my life and my situation so that one day I might be able to get off disability, but I understand that this could be something that will keep me on disability permanently. I know that these issues are not going away. My answer to that was, “Yes, I do.” This triggered a secondary “battle” between our accounts.

He felt that the people who are paying for benefits like free healthcare are slaves, which I felt was absurd as these people are not owned and are not being dominated in any way by me. As I was trying to help him understand it is ludicrous to consider oneself a slave when one is also calling himself a member of the 53%, he fired off another tweet: “Then the money that provides it to U, must be earned by another citizen, which enslaves them! U steal f/their families! #Sicko” Now, I almost made a quip about how it was nice that he was actually acknowledging my disability with the term “Sicko” but I didn’t. As I was trying to respond without glibness to his claims that I was stealing4 he sent another tweet, “They do or U wouldn’t be getting benefits they paid 4! U are the slave master stealing their earnings! U noble by leaving them some $?”

I’m a slave master. I guess you can blame all those BDSM books I’ve read. Oh, wait. That’s a different kind of Master/slave dynamic.

Anyway, as I tried to determine whether or not I should just laugh or go into full-on bitch mode, I decided that maybe I should invoke a folk-hero for the Right. No, I didn’t go with Won-Won. I went with Jesus. JC represented what could still be considered an extremely liberal social and fiscal policy. Also, bringing up the big J can lead to a bit of an implosion in the argument of wackadoodles. My full comment to him, cut up by his “slave master” tweet, was, “You know, I’ve heard that before so many time it’s ridiculous. It’s one of the funny reactions that so-called Christians have toward taking care of the sick and the poor, or as Jesus called them: the meek.” This is where the butthurt got even worse on his part because his response was:

Christians?? Jesus said “Don’t Steal”
He did not say, “Don’t steal unless u 1st vote 4 a Senator to steal on your behalf”!!
Jesus was telling YOU to provide for the poor, Derp! Your wealth, not stealing someone else’s wealth for your personal benefit!

Suggesting that my Senator ever does anything on my behalf was laughable. I pointed this out. His response, “Doesn’t matter, U low life! It’s your intent to steal benefits for yourself, at other citizens expense! #Fact” Now, here is where I had to get snarky. You see there’s this book called a dictionary and there are words in this book that are followed by what they mean. When you purposefully use a word wrong, don’t expect me to take it lightly. When the word you choose is fact, then you might actually want to use it to refer to something that can be proven. I told him this, in less than 140 characters. (Yay, me, for being all succinct.) He tried to argue the idea that I had already admitted that I wanted to steal someone’s money. It was all quite lovely. It left me feeling all warm and fuzzy like all those sermons I’ve heard growing up about embracing God’s love while shaming anyone who that particular preacher finds unworthy of God’s love.

Anyway, I gave him some facts about welfare and other social programs, ones that he probably should have paid attention to as there is a test5 in November. He claimed that starvation and food insecurity wasn’t a problem prior to the invention of welfare. Apparently someone was asleep when these things were covered in history class. Colonists regularly faced starvation crises in the early days. Part of the way poor people would feed themselves prior to the American Revolution, oddly enough, was to put themselves into indentured servitude, which is basically where a white person sells themselves or their family members into slavery until a debt is paid off. After the war, things got better for a while (if you were white), but eventually things got hard again for the poor. Much like during the “Great Recession” of 2008, charities ended up getting maxed out with demand and didn’t have enough in the way of supply. Children were dying. People were losing their jobs left and right. Things were bad and hunger was still an issue long before programs like food stamps existed. It has continued to be an issue because people don’t want to admit that sometimes really bad things like starvation actually do happen in America.

As the argument continued, the dude kept calling me a slave master. I went back to trying to be more civilized, but he just kept at it; continuing to claim that I was justifying the “theft of fellow citizens money! As if it’s owed you!” and stating that I had “been justifying your existence through slavery of your fellow man!” I almost would want to award him with a cookie or a gold star for his persistence if I didn’t despise him so much for calling me a slave master or dense or thief or anything like that. When I requested he refrain from the criminal accusations, he really earned my ire by stating: “I will speak truth whether it makes you uncomfortable or not. You have ZERO conscience about violating other people’s freedom!”

Here’s the deal. There are red lines with me in arguments. If you call me stupid, I will attempt to argue with you until you beg for mercy. And if you accuse me of lacking a conscience, then I tend to get über-pissed because of the whole many-of-my-family-members-have-been-sociopaths-and-I’m-not-really-anything-like-them thing that has been a big issue in my life. I tried to explain to him that slavery and tyranny and theft were not words that we just throw around, but, of course, that only strengthened his belief that I’m a repugnant slave master. At this point, I told him that if he continued his comments, I would block him. He did, so I did.

I know that not everyone likes the current government. I didn’t like the last one, so I understand what that is like. I know that people sometimes like to claim that they are being oppressed by their taxes. I know that they like to claim that paying these taxes are akin to living under a tyrannical rule. I also know that when they make these claims that they are being the very definition of histrionic.

There are people in this world who live under tyranny. There are people now who are slaves. If you’re able to complain about your government or your “slave master” without fear of reprisal, then there’s a pretty good chance that you are not living in a tyrannical society nor are you an actual slave. I know the world isn’t perfect. I know that America isn’t perfect. I also know that when people make claims like that that they are misusing these terms. They are, essentially, watering down some very serious issues so that they can use them for their own good. They are dismissing the terms and the fact that, even in 2014, people still live in these kinds of conditions. Using these terms so lightly is not a good thing.

Gallery of Tweets between us under the cut. [50+ images]
Continue reading That Awkward Moment When: I Apparently Owned Slaves

  1. Doesn’t this sound like he is advocating killing off all liberals by saying that if we didn’t exist then the world would be better? Or is that just me? 

  2. Liberal isn’t a proper noun, dude. 

  3. Yes, a majority of women polled were non-Hispanic black and Hispanic women, but for a single racial group, white women actually make up the largest chunk. 

  4. I’ve heard that accusation by many RWNJs before. 

  5. election