Books I Read, Vol 42

Dec 10, 2017 | Blog, Books I Read

 

 

Space romance: laser guns of loooooveeee! A marquess with nightmares. Book deal alert! Scarred yet adorably, cheerfully arrogant duke from Tessa Dare. And a nonfiction academic look at our society’s beef with obesity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grimspace

Author: Ann Aguire

Series: Sirantha Jax #1

Tags: space, ragtag team, rebel alliance, superpowers, kickass heroine

Format: ebook

Rating: Yay!

 

What a fun adventure!

Spaceships! Aliens! Fight scenes! Laser guns! People dying! Ragtag team! Time/Space superpowers!

The first half of the book keeps you on your toes pretty much the whole time. Literally nonstop action. Jax is pulled from one shit show to another. From escaping a government compound, to the middle of turf wars between Mad Max-esque borderlanders, to a thieves den of space pirates… on and on and on.

I had a few “rock on!” moments, especially when the borderland matriarch Mair is laughing maniacally while shooting a machine gun out the top of her rover.

I loved the world building, especially when it came to explaining an alien race of genetically conditioned slaves.

I enjoyed the acerbic back and forth the inevitable couple were having.

But most of all, I was 100% strapped in for the nonstop raucous adventure.

 

Until it stopped.

 

You see, Sirantha Jax is a “jumper”, who can transport whole ships around the universe. Transportation of this type is controlled by a giant corporation that has a monopoly on it. A ragtag team, complete with a moody protagonist, breaks her out of a her Corp prison to basically kidnap her into their Rebel Alliance-esque cause. Their plan is to start their own company of jumpers, so Jax is obviously a key ingredient in this dangerous plan.

They don’t ask her if she wants to do it. They just take her.

So, nonstop action happens, and when they finally come up for air, she’s like “fuck this.” She’s seen people she liked die. She’s risking her life for a cause that she didn’t sign up for. Her and her now boyfriend have this moody ass fight and then she…

…like, becomes a babysitter for strippers (????).

 

Wut.

 

My investment in this novel goes from 100% to 0 in a matter of seconds, and stays pretty much at 15% for the rest of the novel.

 

You know that part in Jane Eyre where she fucks off to go roll around on the moors and teach dirty children and tries to sell her gloves for a muffin and shit? It was like that.

I thought we all agreed that fucking off to roll around on the moors was a BAD idea, right?

Jane Eyre, I love you, but I love you like I love the Angel series. We’ve already established that I don’t particularly want to sit through that kind of mood and pace killer again.

 

I’m conflicted, though, because at the same time, isn’t she right? I mean, she DIDN’T sign up for that shit, and there was a heck of a lot of shit that went down.

 

She goes back to the crew and the dangerous mission for some bullshit reason, and once again, we’ve got a case of Stockholm Syndrome.

I feel like there are more cases of romance novels with Stockholm Syndrome than without Stockholm Syndrome.

I mean, maybe I should give out an award called “No Stockholm Syndrome.”

 

So here I am, skipping along down the lane of SciFi Action, blissfully unaware of the plot holes, until suddenly, the path comes to a cliff, and I stare down the abyss thinking, this is not good.

 

On her Journey to Find Herself Just Kidding She’s Going Back To What She Knows, she briefly meets a benevolent older woman who is a paper doll version of that older angel woman from Touched by an Angel.

The more March, Jax’s boyfriend, opens his mouth, the younger he sounds, and the more I dislike him. He goes from being a self-assured ex-military type to an unstable, whiny baby with attachment disorder. I mean, come on, guys. You’ve known each other for like three weeks, most of which you were snapping at each other. He CAN’T be ready to go on a suicide mission for you unless there is something really wrong with him.

His biggest character change was when she comes back from Finding Herself Just Kidding, and she finds him forlornly sitting on his bunk with his head in his hands, ready to cry.

Puppy! Pull yourself together, Puppy!

At which point, I stop reading to saying to myself, “Oh no…I’m reading New Adult, aren’t I?”

New Adult is the same as saying the characters are physically adults, but mentally throwing tantrums like babies.

 

The romance in this book is NOT its strong suit. Ohhhh, it makes no sense whatsoever. Which is really unfortunate, because Unstable March also happens to be the leader of this sad band of rebels.

Pacing problem #2 is when they once again have Jax on their side, and they end up milling around like lost puppies. The one who had the plans is dead, so it’s up to March. March!

They are wandering going, “what should we do?” “I don’t know, I guess, just this.”

End up walking on the highways of new Terra with all the possessions on their back. WALKING.

How exactly are you going to start a revolution as hobos?

 

Shit happens, and Jax ends up captured by a praying mantis/shape shifter bounty hunter. He can wear skin that looks like any particular human.

I end up rooting for him.

Yeah, the guy that shows up at the end of the novel to cause trouble, and has no character other being slightly competent.

I want Jax to end up with him.

 

March!!! You are so sad and unstable. Your kicked-puppy attitude is extremely unattractive, to the point where I’m grasping for anyone that could be competent.

 

The book has a weirdly rushed, nonsensical ending.

 

It was largely nonsensical and the romance was possibly the worst part, but I’m still giving it a Yay because it was entertaining. I suppose I was distracted enough that it didn’t kill me to read it. I finished it pretty quickly and enjoyed most of it.

 

BUT OH MY GOD I JUST REALIZED is March actually Rochester?????

Think about it. Two people who supposedly hate/don’t like each other. He reveals he’s had a crush on her the whole time. She fucks off. When she comes back he is a broken version of himself, totally dependent on her.

Right? Right???

Oh man, Jane Eyre would totally be classified as “New Adult.”

 

The Danger of Desire

 

Author: Sabrina Jeffries

Series: Sinful Suitors #3

Tags: historical romance, regency, breeches part, vengeance, PTSD, nightmares

Format: audiobook

Rating: Yay!

 

Yay!

In the Mickey Mouse Roll Call of Character Archetypes, this hero counts as The Witty One, which made the book pleasantly entertaining.

Hero and heroine have a witty repartee that is enjoyable, and they don’t seem to be idiots. Not enough to give them a No Idiot award, but at least they have minds.

She’s on her she-vengeance crusade (vengeance is so much cuter when it’s done by a girl) to hunt down the man responsible for her brother’s suicide. (There’s some flawed logic in there but whatevs). She is trying to smoke him out in gaming hells, which means… *trumpet blare* breeches part!

 

Ah, women pretending to be men. It never gets old.

 

Unfortunately, no mistaken identity hijinks here (the hero thinking the heroine is a guy, etc.). He recognizes her immediately and tries to outgamble her…and loses.

 

Anyway, he has a secret of his own, that he so sorely fails at hiding. He has *second trumpet blare* PTSD! From childhood trauma! He has nightmares and he’s afraid of the dark! Poor baby!

 

And here comes the part where I fully consciously engage in a self-indulgent fantasy trope. She fixes him! Aw yay!

I have to admit that I love the (completely baseless, somewhat insulting) trope that a man has some emotional trauma he can’t overcome alone. Then a woman sees it, rolls up her sleeves, and says, “alright, let’s get this shit done,” and starts systematically breaking down his defenses.

What solves his issues? Sex, persevering love, a good long talk usually do the trick.

Badda bing badda boom, you got yourself a cured hero.

 

I think it is the emotional baggage equivalent of HGN. I mean, wouldn’t it be nice if issues were so easily solved by love and sex? Wouldn’t it all be so much easier?

 

In reality, I’m all too aware that I can’t “fix” (in itself a weird idea) someone. In reality, I’d probably meet these broken souls and immediately be put off by their rude behavior, which past trauma can’t excuse. I would steer clear of the emotionally unavailable. If by chance I come across someone I like enough for the trouble, I would give him a number to a therapist, and say “figure your shit out. I’ll be over here.”

 

Hmm. Maybe I’m a little TOO hands off.

 

 

Book Deal Alert! On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

The Kindle version of On The Edge, the first book of the The Edge series, is on sale for $.99! Getttttt ittttttttt.

Get it.

 

Don’t let the male model on the cover deter you: it’s a great, imaginative introduction to the Edge series. IMHO, the Edge books get better and better.

 

Have I told you how much I love Ilona Andrews?

Of course I have.

 

NEW to the full-on squee:

Yet another reason to love Ilona Andrews: female characters know when they look hot.

The Duchess Deal

Author: Tessa Dare

Series: Girl Meets Duke #1

Tags: historical romance, regency, scarred hero, ex-military, recluse, growly, seamstress, marriage of convenience, vigilante

Format: audiobook

Rating: Yay!

 

Hurray! I love Tessa Dare!

 

This was a silly book. She shows up on his doorstop in a monstrosity of wedding dress (that sounds suspiciously similar to a wedding dress from the eighties, even though white wasn’t yet formalized as the required color for wedding dresses, but whatevs) and he’s like, “she’ll do.”

Just like that.

Romances are ridiculous!

 

It was very funny. I laughed out loud a few times. The Duke is scarred and self-conscious about it, but has surprisingly little angst. He’s adorable abrupt and arrogant.

“Are you asking me to marry you?”

“Noo…You must understand. I am a duke. You are a seamstress. I am offering you the privilege of my hand in marriage. Very different.”

 

She’s spunky! He’s grumbly! Witty repartees! Silly nicknames!

 

I noticed there was a bit of a Beauty and the Beast thing when he started moonlighting as a vigilante as a new, fun way to handle his emotions.

Since he is a Dare character and not your typical scarred hero, he doesn’t just moan about his hideousness, he fucking does something about it.

He stumbles upon his talent of striking fear into the hearts of criminals with his ghastly burned face, and starts prowling the streets, defending maidens and children and elderly ladies. He gains notoriety as the Monster of Mayfair, and a street kid becomes his sidekick! Shenanigans!

Growly recluse + locals mobilized by fear to capture him kind of = B&TB, right?

 

To be honest, I like my scarred heroes a liiittle more angsty. I mean, we don’t even get a clear idea of what he looks like. Of course only half of his face is ruined with scars. The rest is fucking hot.

 

Plot line is completely dependent on the characters’s journey towards overcoming insecurities, which I LOVE. However, the climactic conflict was somewhat weak.

Enter stage left: bitchy female rival to throw shade and cast doubt in only the pettiest of ways, only to depart immediately after, as if that was her only job. Mission accomplished, exit stage right to never be seen again.

C’mon, heroine. You are better than that to be sidetracked by this baggage.

 

But yay! Silliness and fun!

 

Ready for the next one, Dare.

 

What’s Wrong With Fat?

Author: Abigail C. Saguy

Series: N/A

Tags: nonfiction, psychology, sociology, body positivity

Format: audiobook

Rating: Um. Yay.

 

This book was really fucking good.

It’s pretty heavy, lots of sciency talk, but it really makes you think about the way we think about obesity.

 

Saguy is a sociologist that specializes in mental and societal framing. She doesn’t seem to be a body positivity activist in particular.

She looks at all sides of the obesity argument and draws conclusions, not necessarily whether they are right or wrong, but on what they presumptions they are basing their facts on.

For instance, fat as a health issue is one frame. Within that frame, there are:

  • activists, medical professionals, and the media that believe that fat is unhealthy, and that the US is undergoing an obesity epidemic.
  • activists for the Fat but Fit argument, that says that people of all BMI ranges can be healthy.

If you notice, both are arguing about who is healthy. A pitfall of this framing is that fat people are still being on judged on whether or not they are healthy, whereas thin people are not. There are many thin people out there who don’t exercise and eat like crap, but the fat person has to eat salads every day to be considered the “acceptable” type of fat.

 

That’s what always kills me about the Fat is Beautiful frame. Arguing that “fat people can be beautiful too” is still putting emphasis on the beauty as value frame. We can be a big beautiful, but we still have to be beautiful. I mean, how many people are coming up to CEOs with beer bellies and telling them that they fat is beautiful, too?

No, CEOs are defined by their accomplishments, not the current social level of acceptance on beer bellies.

I mean, when do we get to the point where women can be judged on their accomplishments alone?

 

To relate it back to romances, this is also why I won’t touch any weight related romance with a ten foot pole.

They are eventually accepted, yeah, but at what price? A majority of the book is her not being accepted, feeling shitty, and finding herself until, oh so conveniently, a MAN validates her.

It’s still about Beauty. It’s still about Societal Acceptance of Weight Standards. It’s still a beauty/no beauty dichotomy.

 

This book goes pretty in depth with the framing ideas, and makes a lot of great points that I don’t have the eloquence right now to elaborate.

One sound clip I did manage to save was about how the BMI is so inaccurate, it is almost does no good at all.

Comparing a full panel of health tests to only the BMI scale, “may lead doctors to overlook about 16.3 million normal-sized people, as well as overtreat 55.4 million overweight or obese people who have normal cardio-metabolic profiles.”

 

That’s frightening.

 

The way the BMI still persists, though it is highly discredited, and diets persist, though they are highly discredited just fucking kills me. The amount of mental energy, money, time, pain, suffering, social embarrassment and mortification put into trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist… What could we be doing instead of that? Where could that money be going? What would we have solved if we didn’t so much time on this fantasy of weight loss?

 

This book, and my recent experience at the doctor’s office, has me fired up. So much so, that I wrote a long piece on talking to medical professionals about my weight as a blog post.

A nurse recently said to me, “Have you tried losing weight?”, and I can’t get it out of my head.

Have you tried losing weight.

Has anyone in this world never tried?

 

I don’t talk very much about my weight loss journey. Or at least, I don’t talk about it as much as I could, since I am opposed to diet culture, and diet culture is all around us.

If you want to hear my stance on it all, read “Have you tried losing weight?”.

I’ve put a lot of my soul in that.

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