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All posts for the month November, 2013

State of the Shannon: Thanksgiving thoughts

Published November 29, 2013 by Shannon

Thanksgiving was lovely. I went over to Meka’s, and we spent the time not talking at all about certain zealous rapey paladins. Instead we had an excellent dinner with our mutual friends, who discovered that they are now grandparents for the third time on Thanksgiving morning. This weekend promises to be low key, except for a trip to the store, because I need a new suitcase, the handle of mine having broken off during my travels this week.

I haven’t done much writing because I’m deep in revisions. Mostly I want to change a thread of subtle misogyny that runs through my writing. My kind-hearted beta hero really seems not to appreciate the ladies in his life, and I don’t know why, because that was never my intent and the ladies are awesome. To that end, though, my Nano novel this year made it to a grand total of 5k words. There’s always next year, I suppose, and in the meantime I want to start writing longer, more substantive essays here on this blog. I don’t know if I’ll find something to deconstruct, or if I’ll just see where the spirit moves me, but essay writing is a skill I really ought to perfect.
Last week, I didn’t read much. I ended up deciding not to finish The Book Thief, because, while I’m sure the story is poignant and powerful, I knew there wasn’t going to be a happy ending, and I wasn’t in the mood for a good, cathartic cry. Similarly, The Omnivore’s Dilemma suffered the same fate. I might return to it at some point, but the fact that everything I eat is terrible for the environment and for everyone involved in its production, little say how terrible it is for me, was overwhelmingly depressing. At the moment, I’ve started Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano, and it’s BLOWING MY MIND. It’s a provocative book, and has made me uncomfortable in places, but then it’s supposed to, of course. It’s not quite what I had in mind when I was looking for books about trans* people being awesome,, but it does seem to feature an awesome transwoman telling her own story, and that is what I’d asked for after all. I want to read some fiction, and with a ridiculous amount of books on the TBR pile, you’d think I’d find something to read, but alas, not so much. That said, the library
is doing its quarterly brown bag book club, and I’m leading it. I wanted to pick a non-sappy holiday book, so we’re reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which I thought probably would go over better with the nice old couple who always come to those meetings than, say, Holidays on Ice,, which was also an option.

Lastly, it’s now officially the season for holiday music. Generally, this is the time of year when everyone plays the same old dozen chestnuts, which pretty much universally fail to put me in a festive mood. It’s been my mission in life to find obscure holiday songs that I like to counter some of that. In that spirit, I’ll share one with you today.

Tilting at Windmills: Seeking books with trans* characters

Published November 24, 2013 by Shannon

I’ve been processing around the fact that a dear friend came out to me as transgendered quite recently. This is not a blog post about that. It’s all deeply personal, and while I would like to find a place where I can write about more personal issues on this blog, I still think about my LJ days and break out into hives. So… baby steps. Also I don’t know that the world is clamoring for yet another blog post in which a cisgendered woman embarks on a journey toward ally-hood. Not when there should be more trans* people blogging about their own experiences and being allowed to speak for themselves.

Anyway, as anyone who reads this can probably imagine, books help a great deal with that sort of processing. Thus it was that I googled “romances with transgendered protagonists” and got… nothing. I did get lists of good YA with transgendered characters, but even though I read YA, I didn’t want problem novels. The only trans* characters who are awesome that I can think of offhand are Bel from the Vorkosigan Saga and… that’s pretty much it. (And I’m not sure Bel counted considering the character was a genetically engineered hermaphrodite who identified as an ‘it’, which reads kind of skeevy to my ear.) I wanted a book where the trans* person is just, you know, part of the core cast, or, better yet, the protagonist, who gets to have adventures, maybe even get the boy or girl or some other gendered person of xir choice, and basically gets treated like a person.
.

Of course, given the number and complexity of books out there about, say, blind people who are people first, their disability second (I can think of two) it shouldn’t come as any great surprise that I can’t find what I want to read. I knew, intellectually, that the book world was overwhelmingly white and able-bodied and straight, but it never really sank in how pervasive that actually is. (And no, I rather think that my predilection for M/M novels primarily written by straight women isn’t exactly helping the diversity train all that much.) It makes me sad and angry, and now I get in a visceral way why we need more voices crying out for diversity.

That said, I hope it’s just that my Google foo is terrible and you can all hook me up with awesome suggestions in the comments.

State of the Shannon: On dignity and putting myself out there

Published November 22, 2013 by Shannon

Hello from cold and frosty Seattle. This has been an interesting week. Let’s see if I can break it down.

  • 1. I finally started serious work on revising a novel I wrote with my friend Mia. I’d been holding onto it FOR TWO YEARS because I loved our characters so much and I didn’t want people like me to read about them and then mock us. But, whatever. It’s good. And Mia’s beta readers liked it, so there’s that. More news as the situation warrants.
  • 2. Needless to say, I have read fuck all lately. I started a well-regarded modern classic, but I don’t think I’m going to finish. Not because it’s a bad book, but because there is no way it will end well and I am not down for a sad ending. (The book is The Book Thief, if you were curious.
  • 3. On Wednesday, I had an appointment to determine if I am blind enough to get paratransit. Nothing like going to a hospital and showing some misplaced kindergarten teacher that you can climb stairs but find navigating four-way stops in unfamiliar areas to strip a girl of her sense of dignity. And yet, as a proper blind person, I am supposed to not express what utter bullshit this whole process is, because then it would appear I’m not grateful. (FWIW I don’t need paratransit often. Maybe once or twice a week, and more this time of year, when I actively feel unsafe going to the bus stop near my house because I worry someone will drive like an asshole Seattle driver and squash me like a pancake. Believe me, I am not looking for extra perks, because those vans are not places anyone in their right mind would want to hang out on for extended periods of time.
  • 4. I learned some shocking news about someone very close to me. I’m trying to process it, but it’s made me face some hard truths about myself, and some issues I need to work on. Which is never fun, but there you have it.
  • 5. Why did no one in my life alert me to the existence of Ana Mardoll’s ramblings? I discovered it at work today, and promptly developed a blogger crush, which will manifest itself in me having to work up the nerve to post a comment once every six months while reading religiously. See also, my relationship with Jenny Trout’s blog.
  • 6. Speaking of blogs, I have written something on the Internets that you can read. It’s a guest review for the book pushers, who are some of the nicest human beings in romancelandia and who were kind enough to let me wax long-winded over there.
  • 7. So excited for Thanksgiving. It’ll be a weekend spent with my bestie with lots of good food and hopefully some karaoke.

How has your week been? Hopefully, there were fewer dignity-stripping events for you to contend with.

Last Hour of Gann: Throwing in the towel

Published November 16, 2013 by Shannon

I’ve thought for as long as Ive lurked on the edges of book blogging that there was value in negative reviews, and even in snark. I like a good snarky review as much as the next girl, and have even written a few over the years. However, my opinion about books I don’t like and how I should engage with them has changed a lot over time.

It’s not that I want to be a Susie Sunshine reviewer who has nothing bad to say about anything, but I engage with books a lot. At work, I attend a book club sponsored by a vision loss group every other month. I also cohost a podcast in which I am required to read something every month. I also have a local YA book club that I’ve been attending. Therefore, in any given month, I have to read two, sometimes three, books that, very often, I didn’t choose. I will read those books to the bitter end, sometimes frothing at the mouth on Twitter the whole time. For everything else, if I’m not engaged, or worse, if I’m angered by what I’m reading (and not in a productive, “We-should-fight-for-social-justice!” sort of way, I’d much rather stop reading the problematic book and find something else. I didn’t used to feel this way. I thought I owed what readers I had reviews of everything, so I wouldn’t be seen as someone who loved everything she read and therefore couldn’t be trusted. That, unfortunately, is an excellent recipe for burnout, and besides,I’m finding that I am less likely to write about things I love unreservedly because all I can think to write are superlatives. A book I liked but found problematic in some ways at least gives me a jumping off point. The key, though, is that I have to like the book. If I’m hate reading, it becomes not just a chore, but a tedious waste of time, and I find myself resenting both book and author for that.

Which, of course, brings me to The Last Hour of Gann. Meka’s already peaced out of our readalong. I thought I could persevere, but then I read R Lee Smith’s interview on Dear Author. As I am wont to do, on my first reading, I went, “Huh. Well… sheesh.” Then I thought about what I’d read and the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I became.

It wasn’t so much Smiths provocative thoughts on rape (though how she could be unaware that rape is a theme in her work I can’t understand), but her talk about characters… this passage in particular was what drove me especially nuts.

*sigh* Because no one else survived? Because I’ve been criticized before for having a “cast of thousands” and the faceless mob was my only way to deal with 40+ extra people? Because “decent” people tend to disapprove quietly while the wrong sort speak up? But mostly because there is a very ugly facet of human nature that wants–needs–to find a scapegoat in the wake of catastrophe and Amber was it.
Although there was a small military presence aboard the Pioneer, most of its passengers and all of its crew were members of the Manifest Destiny Society, which was, as it was during the westward expansion, fueled by a zealous belief that they had been appointed by God to lay claim to new territory by virtue of their own innate superiority. Even Amber thinks of them as a cult. They were not bad people. I don’t think they were even particularly weak people, but they were people whose entire philosophy got slapped out from under them in an instant. They weren’t just people whose ship crashed; they were people who believed God wanted them to go to Plymouth and who instead crashed on Gann. Even more than the average survivor, if there is such a thing as an ‘average’ survivor, they were lost. And Scott took them in.
Scott was a Manifestor. He knew exactly how to talk to those people and he said all the right comforting things while Amber was there telling everyone they were never going home. He took charge–and if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about people in a crisis, they seldom question the guy in charge–and he started immediately rewarding loyalty with extra rations and tents. In short, he gave his supporters the best chance of survival. And if you don’t think his supporters would pick on Amber just because he did, you don’t remember high school.
Scott made it impossible for anyone to disagree with him and stay in the group and I want to make something very clear: No one could have walked away and survived, alone, on that world. There were decent people in that second group of survivors, but they had to choose between going along with stuff they didn’t agree with or walking off into the wilderness and dying for their convictions. I believe that people are mostly good, but I don’t know anyone who would choose the latter.

She may be right about human nature. She may have it exactly right about how most people would react in a crisis. Granted, I’m still early days with the book, and maybe soon the asinine high school popularity contests the human colonists are having will be over because they have other stuff to worry about, but my patience for that sort of thing is gone. Maybe it really is that I don’t like dark books, but such a bleak outlook on humanity is one I don’t want to read about for 1500 pages.

Then there is the issue of expecting something different from what the text provides. A long time ago in Internet years, I was hanging out with my sister, and she started to read this awesome YA book aloud to me. It was about a girl who had agreed to leave her flighty, free-spirited mom to live with her gruff and taciturn dad in Washington. I thought what I would get was a nice coming of age story about a young girl moving to a new place and discovering herself, maybe having wacky adventures along the way. What I got, it turned out, was Twilight. I stuck it out to chapter 11, when I finally realized my nice coming of age story was never going to happen and gave up.

I expected Last Hour of Gann to be about humans settling on a hostile planet. I had a resourceful, if blunt and bitchy protagonist. I wanted her to thrive and survive. She had flaws, but hey, I can name, like, two true anti-heroines in the books I’ve read recently. Then Meoraq showed up, and it became obvious that this wasn’t so much a story of humans making a new start as it was a story about Meoraq’s journey to a deeper understanding of faith. Which, ordinarily, I’d be all for, except for those pesky characterization issues. And the fact that every woman I’ve met so far except for Amber has been helpless or useless or both. Besides, Gann is not The Sparrow.

Now that I know my major sticking points will not get any better, I’ve spent time mulling over whether I want to continue this series of blog posts. Given that Meoraq wouldn’t be the kind of person I’d want to read about under normal circumstances, little say the kind of romance hero I enjoy, I’m going to throw in the towel now. I like him fine but am not super invested, and I am not invested enough in Amber that I absolutely have to know how she fares. At this point, I’d simply be hate reading, which I derive no pleasure from. I think it’s time to call it a day and accept the fact that R Lee Smith isn’t for me. I’m sorry my first attempt at a readalong failed so spectacularly, and here’s hoping the next one will work better.

And now I am off to find a book to read that I know I’m going to enjoy.

Last Hour of Gann, Book III: The rageface recap

Published November 15, 2013 by Shannon

Just a note: Someone in the comments a couple of weeks ago brought up the issue of triggering. This book is nothing if not full of triggers. So is the recap.

Recap:

When last we left our intrepid human crew, their numbers had been reduced from 50,000 to 2,000, and then even further to a grand total of 48 people. I just want you to put that loss into perspective for a minute. As far as they know, the human race consists of 48 people. Rescue is not feasible, so for the rest of their lives, all of humanity is this small group.

Let’s make this a real world example, shall we? According to this website, Sheboygan, WI has a population of roughly 50,000. (I admit i picked that city because Sheboygan is fun to say out loud. Don’t judge.) So imagine you’re from there, and an earthquake destroys everything in Sheboygan except your neighborhood. That’s bad enough, right? Your mom lives across town. Your favorite department store is now gone. So you’re reeling from that when another natural disaster takes out everything but your block. If that happened to Meka, that would mean that the entire human race would consist of her, but also the snotty lady next door who is always saying loud passive aggressive things about how Meka occasionally misses a bit of her guide dog’s poop. For me, it would mean that the human race consists of me and a bunch of strangers from my apartment building, of which I have close connections to only one. That is a terrifying prospect.

After the crash, things start to go pear-shaped for Amber because Scott has a deeply ingrained inferiority complex about the size of is penis. (The text doesn’t explicitly say that, but his behavior is so childish that that’s the kindest reading i have.) Amber tries to point out problems. Scott dismisses her until she placates him. It doesn’t help that Yao, lassiter and Crandall, the Fleet men, (or, as I like to call them, Moe, Larry and Curly) know Scott is an idiot but go along with him. Crandall earns my annoyance by being unhelpfully snarky during the initial briefing the leaders have, at which Amber includes herself anyway, despite Scott’s objections. During this briefing, they all put Scott in charge of the food (not much) and the medical supplies (even less.) Scott doesn’t want to hear about the fact that they’ll need to find food and perhaps another source of drinking water, and growls that Amber shouldn’t go telling the rest of the world her fears about their lack of water.

Things only get worse when Scott cuts Amber’s rations. Everybody else gets three ration bars. She gets one. When she tries to protest, with good cause, that this isn’t fair, he snipes that she has plenty of reserves. Plus, he’s in charge, dammit, why won’t she respect that? (This is the point where, if I were, say, Jenny Trout I’d probably insert a picture of Eric Cartman, but a blind woman doing a Google image search seems like a recipe for disaster, so use your imaginations.) Moe, Larry and curly try to give Amber a pep talk. They explain that popularity matters, and what they need to do to survive is make friends. One of the men even points out that she’s right, and scott is an idiot, but he outright says he’s not willing to put his ass out on the line for her. (You know what would have been awesome at this point? If one of the Stooges had started channeling
Kristen Chenowith, but I am not nearly so fortunate. Sigh.)

Then chapter 3 happens, and Fleetman Crandall descends to the realm of my least favorite character in this fucking book. What happens is that Scott produces a pocketknife, and while everyone but Amber is roasting their ration bars on sticks at a fire they’ve made (somehow, all by themselves). She fashions her stick into a spear and tries to take the suggestion that they start hunting to Scott and the stooges. Scott is not only dismissive but contemptuous, and he gets in Amber’s face, threatening to throw her out of the camp altogether. Amber tries to talk the stooges around, but Crandall, earning that spot on my shit list, quotes Lord of the Flies (“It’s about a bunch of gay Brits who get stranded on an island.”) and tells her she should take a lesson from what happened to Piggy. He also quotes Animal Farm, leading me to hope and pray he never got to Shakespeare in high school. He then threatens to take away Nicci’s rations if Amber doesn’t behave. scott apparently wants to take away Amber’s altogether. Amber is angry and mystified, and then Crandall puts a nail in the coffin of my love for him by asking Amber if she wants to fuck. He’s willing to protect her, he says, because after all there are 11 women compared to 37 men, and she’ll need his protection. He also implies that soon she won’t actually have a choice and she might as well take him, but only if she can keep her mouth shut unless he wants it open. Amber’s reaction mirrors mine, because at this point we both threw things and marched off in a huff. But seriously, with that as the alternative, what else is there but a xenophobic racist lizard asshole?

Thankfully for my blood pressure and my will to continue reading this book, chapter 4 happens, and we switch back to Meoraq, rape paladin extraordinaire and I marvel at the fact that I would much rather read about a paladin who rapes women for the good of his god than about the incompetent wastes of space that are the remainder of the human race. Meoraq stumbles across some of the remnants of the ship and interprets them as a sign from Sheul. Then he finds human footprints and follows them, amazed by their customs and trying to figure out who they are. Then he sees one up close and realizes he is staring at a horrible abomination. “It had no face.” Which, as last lines of chapters go, is pretty damn effective.

Meanwhile back in high school, aka the human camp, the rations have run out, so yeah, its time to finally start hunting. This is a hollow victory because Amber just started her period and she’s cramping. As she makes spears, Scott goes up to her and they have another argument, the highlight of which, for me, is Scott mansplaining about how there are 11 women, so their wombs are a viable resource for the colony so they’d better get to breeding, and even though he totally thinks it’s gross, eventually Amber will have to fuck someone. For the good of humanity. Once more, Amber joins me in a desire to punch someone in the face. Luckily for me, fucking for the good of humanity doesn’t start right now. First there’s the hunt. Which goes about as well as you’d expect, since basically the humans have machismo and nothing else on their side. It would have been awesome if some of them had actually managed to kill each other, at least for me, but R. Lee Smith doesn’t seem to want to throw me a bone here. Amber does manage to hit the planet’s equivalent of a deer, but it gets away, and then she stumbles into Meoraq. Their meet-cute redeems this book, dissipating a bit of my rage , as it is both well-written and adorable. They manage to exchange names, and touch each other’s faces, which is not as creepy as it sounds. Then, of course, Scott shows up and tries to rescue Amber, but he is not the alpha male in this book, and his penis is still too small, so that of course doesn’t go over well. Meoraq disarms him and breaks his spear, Amber calls Scott an idiot, he walks away, and Amber invites Meoraq back to camp.

Predictably, no one is thrilled that Meoraq has joined their little group. Scott thinks it’s a terrible idea, and he and Amber have yet another argument in which he threatens to vote her off the island–er–the colony. (Take a drink.) Meoraq unloads a tent and makes himself at home. and Amber promises Scott she’ll teach the lizard man English. Scott magnanimously offers to let her try, threatens her some more with colony expulsion (take a drink) and then leaves her to it. The language lessons don’t start off well, but after a while Amber begins to get the feeling Meoraq understands what she’s saying. Turns out he does. He’s astounded that such ugly creatures have the ability to speak a language. Of course, according to God, there can only be one language for those that follow Sheul. Sigh. So our rape paladin is not only a rape paladin but also xenophobic. I can see no way in which those character traits will annoy me for the next six books.

After the camp settles, Meoraq meditates and has a dream, which features among other things, a group of his people and Amber’s joined together. There’s also some great sexual tension in this section, and in the dream she communicates her story with him. He wakes, and then rouses Amber and, via drawings, communicates that he will take the humans with him to Xi-Matezh, to await further instructions, including, very possibly, the order to kill them. There is also some more reflection about how he lusts after Amber, . but he can’t act on it because he’s not raping her.

Meoraq goes off for a while after is conversation with Amber. When he returns, he brings a dead saoq–the deer that Amber and the colonists were trying to hunt. He still doesn’t attempt to speak any English, but he does teach Amber a few words of his own tongue. (Nope, rampant xenophobia isn’t annoying me at all, why do you ask?) There is an obligatory Scott being a dick scene, (take a drink) though he shuts up when Meoraq shoves saoq meat at him. He and Amber eat, there is another Scott being a dick moment, (chug-a-lug) and Amber finally seems to get that Meoraq is a complicating factor she can’t really deal with.

Meoraq, meanwhile, thinks of the humans as his pets, which makes logical sense but does not earn him any brownie points. He’s meditating on how it feels to be a new pet owner when he sees Scott taking a piss. This necessitates a lesson in human biology with Amber, who explains that she’s female, and no, there are no babies in the group just yet, thank Sheul. The sex ed talk freaks Nicci out, because she has not been obnoxious and whiny in at least a chapter, and Meoraq has to go lie down for a while and think about how wrong it is that he wants to have sex with Amber considering she’s an ugly human. (I haven’t decided if this particular conflict warrants being added to the drinking game. So far, no… but we’ll see where we are next week.

Weeks pass. Meoraq feeds the masses, but he makes no effort to speak English. Eventually, there is yet another argument about how Amber is clearly failing at her one job, like Scott knew she would. (Take a drink.) He suggests Amber go off for a walk and think about what she’s done. She does, and attempts another hunt, but chickens out at the last minute. Luckily, Meoraq is on hand to retrieve her. Back at camp, my liver implodes because there is yet another argument. This time, Meoraq finally reacts, and utters a few words of English. It becomes apparent he and Amber can basically understand each other now, which means Meoraq is going to take his herd of humans to Xi-Matezh. I guess it’s good he can speak her language now and didn’t have to have, like, yet another dream in which he and Amber communed, a la Ayla and Jandallar. Then again, if they had, this would not have dragged on quite so long.

Questions:

1. So clearly this section didn’t work for us, but I thought we’d start with something positive. Do you see the romance yet? We know it’ll work out, but are you invested in that part? And what did you think of the meet-cute?

Meka says:

I will try to write about this without the incredible rage I am feeling at this moment concerning this entire book. Meoraq and Amber’s meeting is the best thing that could have happened in book three, because God knows nothing else good comes about. I thought that Smith did a wonderful job of actually showing how different their cultures are. There isn’t this instant understanding, and the author could have really taken a cheap shortcut and done things that way. There is the need to learn on both sides, and the frustration that comes from them not understanding the other person. Their first meeting was absolutely adorable, and I really love the writing techniques that are employed by the author to show us what each of them sound like to the other.

Meoraq slapped Amber, but at this point, it isn’t enough to take me off team Rape Paladin, and girl, that is saying something. I am usually not down for my heroes knocking the crap out of heroines, but he was also worried. And considering that he usually rapes for the lord, it’s likely a step down from what he could have done. Yeah great. I’m making excuses for lizard on woman abuse. Oh how far I have fallen.

Meoraq is at the point where he is having a lot of arguments with himself, and that is probably the most adorable part of the book for me. Well, that and the fact that he’s feeding amber food. They commiserated over a dead animal together. I mean, what more could a girl ask for? Well, he did knock the hell out of Scott repeatedly, so there is that. I would have felt better if he’d pinned the guy to the ground with his sword, but I guess I’m just getting greedy.

I don’t think that I am invested in the two of them enough to keep going, however. I wish them the best, but the other assholes in this book are ruining it for me.
Shannon says:

Given our intro to Meoraq, and given my own skepticism about this book as a romance, I was surprised by the level of tenderness Meoraq shows Amber from the start. I think the fact that he has to struggle and fight his feelings is quite interesting, though could grow tedious rather quickly.

I’d forgotten that Meoraq smacked Amber around in these chapters. While that is never excusable, I’m willing to give it a pass because at this point Meoraq doesn’t see Amber as a sentient being. He sees her as a pet, so in that instance his behavior is understandable, though I can always hope there are regrets about that later.

Oh and I did love the way Smith managed to tell us what the humans sounded like to Meoraq. I can’t think of any similar scene in any other speculative fiction where that happens.

2. Do your opinions of the characters still hold true or have you changed your mind?

Meka says:

The one thing that I always look for in a book is consistency. R. Lee Smith gives that to me in spades by giving me terrible, one-dimensional secondary characters that I absolutely hate with every fiber of my being. I don’t buy a lot of what has been happening. Are you going to tell me that no one else thought ‘hey dudes, we’re going to be out of rations soon so let’s go hunting!’? I mean, really? No one else got the bright idea that soon they would run out of rations and need to figure out their food situation before this? Everyone just let’s scott run roughshod over people and allow him to do whatever the hell he wants and people are content to just let that fly? Have these people never had to do a group project in college? I am not buying this little brand of human nature right now, not one little bit. No one has cried or had an emotional breakdown except for our spazlet Nicci, who I also pretty much hate now. The only person with a brain is amber, and the rest of these characters have been given a terrible disservice by only having one mode. Whatever their motives, it’s like we’re being slapped across the face. ‘And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the human personification of asshole. While over here, rolling around in her natural habitat and too stupid to figure out how to start a fire is the amazingly temperamental, ragey Nicci. While over here is this woman who opens her legs so that she can stay warm at night.’ I am so over all of these people. No one has any initiative except for look-at-me-I’m-the-blatant-villain Scott, and his cohorts yabba, dabba, and Do. That’s Yao, Dag, and Crandall respectively.

What is the point of anyone even bothering to come out of their role when they just get slapped right back in to it anyway? Everytime I see someone standing up for Amber, they just cave. I am absolutely sick of it. I do not buy that there wouldn’t be more arguments from everybody in that camp, but this is let’s pick on the fat girl who gasp! Speaks up for herself and gives more than two shits about everybody in that good-for-nothing space camp full of losers. Just, fuck all these people right now. Shannon can tell you that when a book makes me that mad and I curse this much, I am too dangerous for the interwebs.

Thank goodness for Meoraq. He might be rapey, but at least he stays true to form and shows some signs of redemption. At least he’s trying at this point. At least *he* is showing the possibility of change. At least *he* sees something of value in Amber, even if right now he does think they are all his pets. Screw Scott, give me the rape paladin and his orgasms for his god that makes little baby lizards.

Shannon says:

I couldn’t have said that better myself, but I’ll add that, as I mentioned on the blog the other day, I’m reading Stephen King’s Under the Dome. In that book, the big bad is town selectman “Big Jim” Rennie. Rennie is a two-bit cartoon villain, but he would still snack on Scott for breakfast. He would have done more than making pretty speeches to ensure his popularity. Hell, if Amber is really that much of a threat, why does Scott bother with the grandstanding? Wouldn’tit be easier for him to quietly have her killed? Granted, we wouldn’t have a book if he did that, but I seriously don’t get his motivations.

As for the rest, my opinion hasn’t changed. Nicci is still useless. I am still rooting for Amber (though in kind of a halfhearted way, like you might if you know your team is going to lose), and I… don’t exactly like Meoraq, but he’s the best option at this point.

3. I know it’s early days to be saying any of this, but it’s worth asking anyway. This book is long. Do you think all of what we’ve read has been necessary and integral to the plot?

Meka says:

I don’t believe that everything we have read has been integral to the plot. It is a given that whenever Amber tries to do something to improve the camp’s situation, Scott is going to be all over it like white on rice. And then they are going to argue. Repeatedly. Forever. And ever. It’s not going to change. Book three could have been a third of the length if we didn’t have to keep reading about a pissing contest that no one is ever going to win unless someone shoves a knife threw Scott’s villainous, misogynistic heart. Quite frankly, what this book could use is a lot more stabbing action. We also don’t have to continue reading about how none of the camp will grow a pair of balls, either. It’s pretty much a given at this point.

Shannon says:

I did find a lot of these chapters repetitive. Quite frankly, they made me tired, and I am worried that as the book progresses, things won’t so much be epic in scope as they will be long and draggy. That said, I haven’t thought anything before this point was superfluous. The first two books fleshed out who the characters were, and I figure that once you’ve read them, it’s fairly easy to decide whether you’ll want to keep investing time with them. This section, though, could have been pared down quite a lot and still retained the basic points.

4. So we were both angered by this book. What was the part that annoyed you?

Meka says:

I am simply angered by the pointlessness of it all, and the characters who only have one mode. Nicci’s is needy/whiny/ragey in one incredibly unattractive package. Crandall just wants to get his knob slobbed. Eric is an ass-kisser, Dag is going to be a stupid little lackey, Maria who could have been someone great is just going to fuck Eric for warmth, Scott is going to continue to be a raging douche canoe, Amber is going to continue to be absolutely fucking fabulous, and Meoraq is going to keep on being a zealot with the possibility for change if only he’d stab some of these other people. The rest of the camp are a bunch of formless, nameless, personality-deprived faces who don’t do anything about anything.

Shannon says:

We’ve hit on most of what made me ragey. The only thing to add is the fact that the portrayal of the women also bothers me. Nicci is a “good little woman”, and Amber won’t shut up and let the men make decisions. For her pain, she is denigrated and stomped all over. I’m assuming that eventually she’ll get her comeuppance, but there’s a lot of stuff to go through before that happens. If Amber’s punishment for having agency is to be abused, but hey, she gets the lizard in the end, that just depresses me.

Also, and this doesn’t make me angry as much as it makes me sad, it’s becoming obvious that Amber is not the protagonist of her own book. Sure, she’s the lead, but I don’t see a character arc for her. That honor goes to Meoraq. Maybe that’s why the humans have no depth. They’re not important, because, all trappings of nifty sci-fi adventure aside, they don’t matter. It’s Meoraq’s story we’re going to read.

5. Any adjustments to your predictions from a couple of weeks ago?

Meka says:

I have a feeling everyone is going to be the same as they always are, except that situations are going to get a lot worse. Nicci is not long for this world since she seems to enjoy being useless. Amber, being fierce and fabulous, is going to be tormented beyond belief. Dr. Yao, who actually did speak up for her and big ups to him, will probably die because he went against the Scott. Scott is probably not going to die soon enough, if ever.

I feel terrible for having to dip out of this read-along with my bestie, especially since us reading the book together was my idea. But at this point, I’d just be hate reading it. I hate these people and I no longer care what happens to any of them except for Amber and Meoraq. Any lingering concern I had for Nicci has been curbstomped right the hell out. But I will still be reading the recaps and adding my commentary! For the record, I hope I am wrong. I hope we see more life in the other people. But now, I have become a cynic.

I read a post recently about how this book was a great crossover in to the romance genre for someone. I had to sit on my hands. I am so glad it is working for other people, but I do not classify this as a romance. Not yet, anyway. But again, I can be proven wrong. Team Rape Paladin for life!

Shannon says:

I have nothing much to add to that, either. I will say that as I go it solo, I will try very hard not to hate read. I do want R. Lee Smith to surprise me by bringing some of the awesome of which I think she’s capable, and besides, I don’t really like snark for its own sake. I make no promises, though, except to stick it out to the bitter end.

What I’m reading recently: Comfort books and torture porn

Published November 11, 2013 by Shannon

My goal is to write a post at least twice a week–more if the spirit moves me. Originally, this was going to be a set of quickie reviews of the books I’ve finished, but every time I try to write about this particular series, I struggle to find the right words.

What I’ve been reading is the Unlikely Lovers series by Cheryl Brooks. I love her Cat Star Chronicles with a fervor that astonishes most people, because they are awesomely terrible and I literally cannot stop reading them once I start and why is the next book out in freaking July of next year? I was curious about her self-published contemporaries, so I bought the Unlikely Lovers books and proceeded to gobble them up one right after the other, which is quite out of character for me, since I normally am not a glom reader.

The books are pure fantasy, with heroines who’ve been around the block meeting heroes who are both passionate and nurturing. The Cat Star books tap into that same fantasy, but with more weird alien sex. There’s plenty of sex in the Unlikely Lovers books, and it’s inventive and makes me wonder at points just how biologically feasible any of it is, but that’s not why I read these books. I read them because I can be guaranteed a hero and heroine who aren’t complete assholes to each other, and reading about repetitive fucking has always worked better for me than repetitive violence.

Speaking of repetitive violence, I’m also slogging through Under the Dome by Stephen King. I like king’s work quite a bit, but this one feels like third-tier Stephen King fanfiction. I knew there were going to be rough days ahead when there was a brutal murder in the first few chapters. There are many, many characters and every time I get attached to one of them, they die. I’m also struggling to care about Dale Barbara, the book’s protagonist. He feels like a stock King hero, with a little Jack Reacher thrown in. (That’s not a compliment; I DNFed the one book featuring Jack Reacher I tried to read.) Also, of course there are the magical kids, and the over the top villains, and my hatred for Jim Renny in particular has nothing to do with the fact that I’m supposed to hate him; he’s just unbelievably cartoonish. I’m finding the book to be nothing more than a violent slaughter fest, but I’m reading it for Book Hoarders, so I will finish it. I just may have to stop and read fluff along the way.

That all said, a new Ava March book drops today. It is going to be mine and I am going to enjoy revisiting her imagining of Regency England with adorable men in love with each other. (Though that said, I just sampled the audiobook and am pretty sure I’ll be reading this one on my Kindle because that narrator isn’t doing anything for me at all.)

What are you guys reading? What else should I have my eye on?

The anti-Meoraq

Published November 8, 2013 by Shannon

(Needless to say, there is no Gann post this week. Meka and I will be hanging out in person, terrorizing the good citizens of Spokane. Therefore, I’m rambling all by myself.)

As I’ve often stated, I prefer my heroes a little more on the beta side. I do have the typical female fantasy of finding someone to take care of me, but the fantasy doesn’t seem to manifest in the typical way for me.

When I’ve read people’s discussions of alpha males and their appeal, I often hear about how it’s nice to have someone simply know and act on your needs, whether you acknowledge them yourself or not. I get the draw of that, but for me as a blind person, having people act on the needs they think I have isn’t sexy in real life. It is usually fucking patronizing.

That’s why I like my heroes beta. A beta hero is less likely to assume than he is to simply ask, and that means the heroine’s opinion actually carries weight. He will accept a no. He won’t arbitrarily decide anything.

I also love reading about heroes who are allowed some uncertainty. After finishing the reading for the readalong, I found myself reflexively wanting Meoraq to be wrong about something. Anything. I ended up seeking a book with one of the most uncertain heroes I’ve ever read. (It’s part of a loosely connected series and I’m in the middle of a glom so I’ll review the whole thing when I’m done. I realize it’s not really very edgy to want to read a book where the heroine is in a greater position of power compared to the hero. It’s still an unequal distribution of power, but I sometimes feel so powerless in my own life that I want my heroines to be competent and in control.

With all that in mind, here are some of my favorite romances of this type.

  • Wild at Heart by Patricia Gaffney: Hero is a fish out of water having been literally raised by wolves. Heroine’s father is studying him and helping to reintegrate him into society. Except for a ridiculous plot twist at the end, I loved this one and have been thinking it’s time for a reread. Michael and Sydney were just too awesome and sweet.
  • The Proposition by Judith Ivory: A reverse My Fair Lady scenario. As with the previous book, I liked that Mick was never treated like an idiot, and he often did leave Edwina flummoxed, but for her part, she was no ninny herself and they both had a lot to teach each other.
  • Outcast by Cheryl Brooks: OK, so the Cat Star Chronicles series is the kind of bibliocrack that won’t appeal to everyone, but I thought this one was wonderful. Lynx is so very wounded, and Bonnie is so innately kind. I loved that she was simply there, doing what she could for him without having to be all manic pixie dream girl and do quirky things to show him how to love.
  • His at Night by Sherry Thomas: I don’t know that Vere was really so beta, and much of his incompetence was an act, but the way he played so well off the heroine was a joy to watch. I believed in their HEA completely.

I’m struggling to come up with a straight contemporary to include here. Or a romantic suspense, though I imagine a RS with a beta hero would be a very hard sell.

So. Any recs for anti-Meoraq books along these lines? Leave them in the comments.

Review: As You Wish by Jackson Pierce

Published November 4, 2013 by Shannon

I don’t remember why I happened to have a copy of As You Wish by Jackson Pierce in my TBR pile. I tend to give young adult paranormal romances the side eye, because I had such a terrible time reading Twilight, and it’s only now that I am able to get past my knee jerk, “Oh, it has a hot supernatural boy in it. It’s going to suck” reaction. Weirdly, I do not feel this way about adult paranormals, which I often enjoy. Nonetheless, however I came to find out about it, I’m glad I gave this one a try. The premise is interesting, and even though the book doesn’t live up to its full potential, it was an enjoyable few hours.

Our main character is Viola. Ever since her boyfriend, Lawrence, came out to her, she’s felt invisible, as if she’s not a whole person without his love. She wishes so badly that she could just belong that she summons a Jinn. Once she realizes Jinn really is there to grant her wishes, she’s reluctant to try, and once she makes that first wish, it becomes clear to her that losing Jinn would be inevitable and heartbreaking, because in Jinn she finds someone who understands her completely, someone who cares for her as much as she cares for him.

At first Jinn is annoyed that Viola won’t make up her freaking mind already and wish. He only wants to return to Caliban, the world he comes from. There, life is simple, people don’t age, and there are no complications, like falling in love. But the longer Jinn stays on Earth, the more he comes to care for Viola, and the less sure he is that he really wants to return home.

For the first half of As You Wish, I was completely on board with wherever Jackson Pierce wanted to take me. I loved Viola. I know introverted artsy girls are a dime a dozen in YA, probably because their authors are introverted artsy types themselves, but, well, I was an introverted artsy YA myself. Viola was relatable, and thoughI didn’t go through a breakup like she did, I remember feeling invisible when I was in high school. The need to belong is important when you’re a teenager, and I thought Pierce captured the longing of someone on the outside looking in beautifully and poignantly. I also loved Viola’s relationship with Lawrence, which made a lot of sense to me. (I don’t know if Pierce got the nuances of a relationship between a young gay man and a young straight woman perfectly, but if Dan Savage’s podcast is any indication, she seems to be pretty much on the mark.) Jinn was great fun, too, being both delightfully snarky and vulnerable, and while there was a bit of insta-love, it wasn’t nearly as instantaneous and all-consuming as YA romances tend to be, neither is Jinn the most perfect boy ever. The other characters, particularly high school queen be Ollie, didn’t feel like caricatures.

I wish things would have kept up that well. I didn’t dislike the second half of the book, but it lost some of its charm. Viola becomes wishy-washy, Jinn loses some of his snark, and poor Lawrence suffers a lot. The fun secondary characters become predictable cliches, and the central conflict is solved with a bit of hand waving that turns something scary (the other jinn in Caliban) into something lame (a bureaucracy, with paperwork.) I also thought the underlying message–that you shouldn’t let other people define you-was sort of lost given that Viola doesn’t really spend much time as an actualized person before she gets her HEA.

All that said, I powered through the book in a few days, mostly smiling all the way. I could have wished for a little more awesomeness from the characters, but what I got was satisfying. Its even better because this is a standalone. No soap operas. No unanswered questions. That’s such a rare thing in any genre of fiction these days that I applaud any standalone novel at all.

For the record: I read this in Braille via Bookshare. I’d rate it a solid B.

Last Hour of Gann Readalong Week 2: Rape paladin

Published November 1, 2013 by Shannon

Welcome to week 2 of our Last Hour of Gann readalong!

Both of us found this week’s reading a bit hard going, though that is nothing compared to how hard we are going to find next week’s section. Nonetheless, here we go.

The Recap:

There’s a massive fire that can be seen in the city of Xheoth, where Meoraq is staying. Meoraq is a Sheulek, a warrior of the god Sheul, doing a circuit of the countryside. When he sees the fire, he goes to the roof of the temple to watch, noticing that it resembles a beckoning arm. He takes this to be a message from Sheul, and informs the temple’s abbot that he will set out at once for the city of Tothax, which seems to be where the arm is pointing. He leaves the roof and returns to his quarters to await his supplies being gathered. While he waits, he’s visited by a woman he’d chosen to have sex with during his time in Xheoth. She thinks she has somehow offended him, and he is made uncomfortable by her, because she was basically phoning it in during her encounters with him. He makes an attempt to offer comfort, which doesn’t go over well, and leaves her crying. He gets his supplies from the people at the temple, and trudges out in the rain, eventually leaving the city and heading in the direction of the fire.

Arriving at the city of Tothax, Meoraq is informed he has been summoned by Exarch Ylsathoc, one of the leaders of the city. Choosing to make the man wait, Meoraq asks to be directed to the temple’s abbott. He is not taken to his quarters, but is instead brought to the building where official business is conducted. He meets Nkosa, a lowborn guard who is nonetheless Meoraq’s bastard brother. Nkosa informs him that he’s been married and he envies Meoraq’s carefree life. He confesses he’s not sure what to do with his wife. Meoraq offers a teasing reply,and Nkosa shoves him. At that moment they are interrupted by a clerk, who is scandalized that someone is touching a Sheulek. The brothers share a few more awkward moments, and then Meoraq leaves to see if he can find the abbot. Outside, he encounters the clerk, and demands his silence. He learns there is a petitioner awaiting his judgment, and so he makes his way to the arena, where he meets another chosen champion. This one turns out to be Shuiv, who explains that the trial they’re determining the outcome of involves two farmers and a disputed harvest. Their lord has asked for the impartial judgment of Sheul, which means Meoraq and Shuiv will be fighting to the death. Shuiv extracts a promise from Meoraq that if he dies, Meoraq will take care of his soon-to-be-born child, sending him to the house of Shuiv’s father to be taken care of and trained if it turns out the baby is born male. The fight commences, and Meoraq hears a message from Sheul. When the fight is concluded and he’s recovered, he discovers that Shuiv is dead, as are the two farmers.

After the trial, Meoraq meets with Lord Arug, who presents him with his daughter. Because he’s been victorious in the trial, Meoraq gets to have sex with the girl. She is clearly frightened, and Meoraq finds the whole business tiresome, but does it anyway. They both have orgasms, and he leaves her immediately. Once more he tries to find rest, but he’s summoned to yet another tribunal. He encounters a woman he recognized because he remembers her crying the whole time he had sex with her. She wants him to recognize his child, but since she didn’t have an orgasm, the child is considered corrupted. Also, Meoraq did not leave a mark of conquest on the girl. Meoraq and Saluuk, the girl’s father, fight, but eventually Saluuk relents and decides to punish his daughter for her wickedness. Once more Meoraq is hoping for rest, but is instead led to meet with Exarch Ylsathoc, who informs him that his father is dead.

Meoraq goes off to keep a prayer vigil for his father, during which he remembers a time when he was training as a Sheulek. His master had come back from a pilgrimage to the great temple at Xi-Matezh. Meoraq had gone to see him after his return. His master, Tsazr, told him that he was able to enter the Temple–something not everyone can do–and received a divine message. He didn’t elaborate on what it meant, but mentioned the words Nuu Sukaga. Meoraq comes out of his trance to find an usher awaiting him, and presents the boy with the list of supplies he will need, as he has determined he must go to Xi-Matezh himself.

Meoraq is awakened from sleep by the Exarch bursting into his quarters, demanding to understand why Meoraq is offering him such an insult. He and Meoraq argue, and in the end Ylsathoc reluctantly agrees to gather Meoraq’s supplies. Meoraq then goes to the temple roof to pray, and is joined by Nkosa. He tells Nkosa that he is going to Xi-Matezh, because he thinks Sheul has a message for him. Nkosa thinks that message will be that meoraq should assume the stewardship of his lands, a responsibility he’s inherited now that his father is dead. Meoraq won’t commit to that,but he does promise that he will see Nkosa again when his journey is completed.

The Drinking Game

  • 1. Take a shot every time a woman cries.
  • 2. Take as many shots as you need when there is either a rape or the threat of one.
  • 3. From last week: Take a shot every time Scott is a raging douchebag.
  • 4. Same goes for Meoraq.

Any additions or corrections to the drinking game are, of course, welcome in the comments.

Questions

1. What are your general impressions of Meoraq?
Meka says:

Well, I jumped the gun and started book 3 so my impressions change a great deal. However, since we are not there yet, I’ll give you my pre-book 3 thoughts. Can we talk book 3 yet? Can we can we?

Shannon says:
No.

Meka says:
Meoraq made book two a slog fest, quite frankly. Also, this book has a completely different writing style than that of book 1, which threw me off but was brilliant at the same time. I didn’t really get a good sense of who he was for a long time. When there was talk of him making his circuit and doing trials, I didn’t understand what he did with his spare time. You know, those few moments when he wasn’t having daily introspections about his life and his god.

He was ruthless, self-important, egotistical, brash, rude, and basically in my eyes, not a character that could possibly be redeemed. Yet even in his arrogance, he managed to make me laugh. He is very selfish, and yet there are moments when he could have continued being an ass and instead took up for his cousin. It didn’t make it enough to endear him to me, however. But I’ll be talking about that in a later question.

My favorite moment in book two was that he murderized the two farmers in court. I bet that would make anyone think twice before getting a warrior to do their battles for them! I didn’t realize just what his job entailed or that Shuiv and Meoraq would be fighting until they were in the courtroom. Did you see that coming, Shannon?

Shannon says:
Meoraq wasn’t really my idea of a romance hero at first. He was a self-centered ass, and he did a lot of things I didn’t like. Good Lord, dude, just stay away from the lizard women, OK? However, he’s a classic anti-hero, and the redemption arc for those is often really compelling.

On Twitter, as I was reading the book, I made a few comparisons to Jondalar of Clan of the Cave Bear fame. Only, you know, a Jondalar who wasn’t exactly seeking anyone’s permission before sharing pleasures. Mostly, this is because the idea of a caveman lizard amused me far too much. Now, though, I think he reminds me a bit of a less-incestuous Jaime Lannister, who is getting what feels like a nice redemption arc in the Song of Ice and Fire books. (At least, he was as of the time I gave up reading until Martin finishes the damn things!) They’re both cocky, self-assured warriors who seriously need to be taken down a peg. And they’ve both done things that some would consider irredeemable.

I did struggle a bit at first trying to figure out what Meoraq actually did. At first I thought he was some kind of circuit judge. Then I realized he was participating in trials by combat. I loved that he was devoted to Sheul, and in fact is something of a zealot. Smith is clearly setting us up for some interesting discussions of faith with that story arc that I’m excited about.

2. What do you think of Meoraq’s culture? How does it compare to Amber’s?

Meka says:
Well, Meoraq’s culture views orgasms in an important light and that’s enough to put it above Amber’s Earth any day of the week. I don’t know that there are really a lot of differences besides that their society does not have technology. Those who are rich stay rich and are afforded more respect. Those who are cursed or poor have a more difficult time and still have to scrabble around to make a life for themselves. I am still trying to figure out the intricacies of the caste system. Meoraq is a Sheulek, and thus afforded a great deal of respect. His father’s house is a famous one and he stands to inherit it all should his father pass away. Yet I noticed that Meoraq went far, but not *too* far in his demands lest he bring shame upon his father, so that is important to him.

It sucks to be a woman in this culture. They want and need to have babies, and get to be raped by Sheulek warriors in hopes that their child is blessed. We haven’t seen very much of women in general, and those that we have are obviously being abused and are afforded very few rights.

Shannon says:
I thought the culture was interesting, but I especially liked the fact that it’s horrible in its own unique ways that are different from Amber’s. It’s not like Smith is trying to tell us, “Haha, my lizard people are so much more enlightened than the silly humans.” If I had to live anywhere, I’d still go for option C, prehistoric Earth, where at least I’d want to have sex with the nice Cro-Magnon men. I do have to admit that I am basically over fantasy worlds (or alien cultures, whichever) where the default has to be misogyny. I don’t ask for my SF and fantasy to consist of feminist utopias, but is oppressing the women really necessary all the time?

That said, the world building is really good in other ways. I m fascinated by the religion of the lizard people, and even if I wish there was less rape, I think the fact that these people believe orgasm is what creates babies is fascinating. There were human cultures that felt that way, and I am all for anything that encourages women to take pleasure in sex, provided it is sex they want to be having, which thus far we have not seen. I also loved the various religious rituals Meoraq observes. His faith is absolute, and I am excited to see where that will take him, and what awaits him at Xi-Matezh.

3. What did you think of the sexual politics of this world?

Meka says:
I didn’t realize that women have to orgasm or their babies are considered cursed, so that was a good catch. Honestly, I hate the sexual politics of this world. All I see is a man taking whatever he wants and the woman being forced to give it to him. I need to see a woman who tricks a Sheulek warrior somehow, just so that she can get hers.

I’m just going to come right out and say it–the rape scene in book 2 was completely unnecessary and gratuitous. I don’t know what purpose it served the narrative as a whole. We already knew women were treated terribly from Meoraq’s parting with the woman at the first temple, and by his Maury Povich ‘I am not the Father’ moment in the court room. That, by the way, was a really dickish move on his part.

Shannon says:
Yeah, as I said above, the sexual politics bothered me. I think the only thing that makes it all somewhat bearable is that Meoraq is clearly not having a good time with all the women, as Nkosa seems to believe. That said, I’m with Meka in that I could have done without that rape scene. It will be interesting to see if it is ever brought up again, but my money is on no. I also agree that Meoraq treated the woman in the courtroom terribly. She had no reason to lie about having been with anyone else, but because of his position in society, her voice was never heard. That bothers me, and though I don’t think Meoraq has quite crossed the moral event horizon, I really hope some of his attitudes change.

4. Let’s talk a little bit about the religion on Meoraq’s world.

Meka says:
Having grown up Pentecostal, his religion reminded me a lot of that particular sect of Christianity. It was all fire and brimstone, following God’s beckoning hand, burning for Jesus, etc. I’m sure that it is not meant to be that way, but it definitely took me back.

There is a new D&D class that Meoraq has founded called the rape paladin. It’s when lizards find an unwilling woman, rape her, and then pray. PRAY! I literally flailed when I read his prayers to himself while he’s thrusting in some woman. With all the dipping the Sheulek do, I found it interesting that they aren’t supposed to get too aroused or excited about it. I’m having trouble grasping nuances of his religion, honestly.

Shannon says:
I definitely got the impression that the sex the Sheulek get up to isn’t supposed to be fun. Maybe that’s part of why it’s such a sticking point for both of us. Meoraq’s clearly not into it, and maybe giving into your baser desires is what they mean by going to Gann.

I thought the religion aspects were interesting. I’ve written about how I think Meoraq’s religion makes him an interesting character, but I also wonder what the effects are on the society. Sheul touches everything Meoraq comes into contact with, and yet, it’s clear he’s not exactly the best practitioner of his faith. I wonder if there are any agnostic or atheist lizard people. The parallels to Christianity that Meka brings up are interesting, and I hadn’t thought of it that way. Then again, I am not a believer, so religion fascinates me in a much more detached way, I think.

5. What are your predictions now that we’ve read the second book? Do you want to change any of last week’s?

Meka says:
My prediction is that book 3 is when Meka calls her safeword and peaces out of this book. Considering that I already jumped the gun and started reading, that is a distinct possibility. I still need for scott to get eaten and I hope Meoraq nomms all over him. I have a feeling that there is going to be more rape in book 3, but by whom is anyone’s guess at this point. I thought Scott would be the most likely person, but after seeing our rape Paladin in action, I’m not so sure. Will I make it to the fourth book? Stay tuned!

Shannon says:
I predict that next week’s post will be much livelier than this post. And I predict that I will have to read a Meoraq/Nkosa/Amber threesome. Because why stop at one lizard peen when you can have two? Either way, I do not have a safe word to call, so if meka pieces out, these posts will be a lot more rambling and with less talk of rape paladins.

Let us know what you think in the comments! Seriously, the comments love you!