Metapost: 2012 Ends, 2013 Begins

It seems like a lifetime ago when I wrote my first Blogger post, and like only yesterday when I was happily gibbering to myself because I had 55 followers in Google Reader. Now I have 162 (not that I'm obsessively keeping track or anything) and Google tells me I average 10 posts a week. Some of them are even good posts!

When I started this Blogger blog in February, I had no idea that I would ever meet so many wonderful people, be broadened by so many valuable points of view, and have so many incredible comments that made me laugh, cry, and in many cases both at the same time. I certainly had no idea that I would end up being so conflicted and challenged by my deconstructions, or that I might meet so many talented writers through the comments who would go on to inspire me to pick up writing again.

You are all -- all of you -- such wonderful people. I cannot thank you enough for being here, for reading what I write, and for creating such vibrant and meaningful discussions. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

It occurred to me today that you all know already how to stay connected with me via all the colorful buttons at the top of the blog, but I know I do not have all 162 of you (and goodness know how many of you don't use Google Reader and aren't in that number) as friends on Twitter, Facebook, the Blog Bounce, etc. If you'd like, please feel free to drop those into the comments for this post so that I can friend you.

Thank you all again for a truly wonderful year. Here's hoping the next one will be just as fun. I have a good feeling about that. *cheers*

Open Thread: Characters You'd Like To See In Fiction

Inspired by Depizan's comment:

And in fantasy-medieval land, women's lots are pretty circumscribed. If you don't want to marry someone and make babies (and possibly run a household), or, depending on the world, join a convent, you've run out of female-appropriate things to do. (Granted, I'd love it if more fantasy authors thought to throw in guys who rejected the male-appropriate things to do and wanted to raise kids and sew and what not. And not as joke characters.)

Twilight: When Fantasies Reinforce Toxic Societies

Content Note: Medicine, Doctors, Pain, Infertility, Falling, Fainting, Poverty

Twilight Recap: Bella is being carried by Edward to the nurse's office after nearly fainting in Biology class. 

Twilight, Chapter 5: Blood Type

   I was still so dizzy. I slumped over on my side, putting my cheek against the freezing, damp cement of the sidewalk, closing my eyes. That seemed to help a little.
   [...]
   "I'll take her," Edward said. I could hear the smile still in his voice. "You can go back to class."
   "No," Mike protested. "I'm supposed to do it."
   Suddenly the sidewalk disappeared from beneath me. My eyes flew open in shock. Edward had scooped me up in his arms, as easily as if I weighed ten pounds instead of a hundred and ten.
   "Put me down!" Please, please let me not vomit on him. He was walking before I was finished talking.
   "Hey!" Mike called, already ten paces behind us.

Open Thread: New Years Resolutions

I don't really like New Years Resolutions. I don't mean that I don't like following them, I mean that I don't like setting them. I don't like thinking about them. I don't like the entire exercise: I feel like I have to sit down and come up with something I do badly so that I can then resolve to do better. It's such a negative process for me. And then there's the fact that 99% of my "resolutions" are things that I was already trying to work on anyway only now it's somehow official because it's January 1st. It just seems strange and arbitrary and upsetting, so I'd already resolved not to do any this year.

Then I saw this quote in the Believing in Ourselves daily calendar:

I made no resolutions for the new year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning, and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.

Anaïs Nin, novelist and diarist

Oh my god. Anaïs Nin (who I had never heard of before, so I'm learning something already today) totally clarified for me why I don't like New Years Resolutions.

I don't like New Years Resolutions because I'm already doing them every moment of every day for my entire life. I'm constantly judging myself based on the feedback I receive from the people around me: am I too loud, too introverted, too pushy, too big, too smile-y, not smile-y enough? I hold myself to an impossible standard of work ethic -- I need to be a more productive employee, a better wife, a kinder daughter, I need to blog more, write more, answer more emails, read more, review more. I need to take better care of my body, carve out more time for yoga and bike riding. I want to start another deconstruction, maybe two, maybe a dozen. My to-do list is easily a hundred items long. And when I stop and smell the roses and play video games instead or watch TV, it's always to the backdrop of a tiny little voice of blame: you should be doing something else right now.

This is normal for me, and -- I suspect -- normal for a lot of other people. There's a constant chatter in my brain of things-to-do, behavior-to-fix, changes-to-make. It's not debilitating for me in any sense; it's just the background noise of a socialization that asks for perfection. And because of this -- because I am already doing my darndest to be perfect -- New Years Resolutions seem like a laughable exercise. Make a decision to do something better? When am I not doing that??

So when someone asks you this year what YOUR New Years Resolution is going to be, feel free to give them this Anaïs Nin quote. And then tell them to go look her up on Wikipedia, because she is absolutely fascinating. Among other things, she is "hailed by many critics as one of the finest writers of female erotica". I'll bet you didn't know that, 'cause I didn't.

OPEN THREAD BELOW.

Deals: The Handmaid's Tale on Kindle

PEOPLE! Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" is today's Kindle Daily Deal. This is pretty much my favorite book ever.


I can only assume this was picked because I compared "Bumped" to this book. *fake preening*

Twilight: The Fantasy of Being Beautiful

Content Note: NSFW Image Link, Body Acceptance, Arbitrary Social Beauty Standards

Sooner or later, I'll have to admit that Firefly is really the first Joss Whedon franchise I've really followed. Buffy was riding high during a time in my life when I was just too busy to watch television, and by the time I was in a place where I felt I could catch up, I was daunted by the sheer volume that had come before and the impossibility of coming up to speed quickly. I did watch a dozen or so episodes of Angel, though, largely because it was aired around the same time as Charmed (which I watched for awhile out of desperation for positive portrayals -- however mismanaged -- of Wicca in the media).

I didn't really care that much for Angel, but one episode stuck with me well enough that years later I was able to pull up an episode synopsis with very little effort. In this episode, Cordelia (who is plagued with painful and debilitating visions) pops into the astral plane to have a heart-to-heart over this whole painful-and-debilitating-visions business. Her spirit-demon-guide-buddy gives her the once over and remarks in surprise and admiration that she must have unusual self-confidence because most other people present an idealized version of themselves on the astral plane.

[nsfw] This was really more than enough prompting for me to roll off the couch laughing hysterically because I would rather imagine that I too would have decent self-confidence if I looked like Charisma Carpenter. It's a pretty decent bet, after all, that if you're asked to pose nude for both the cover of Playboy and a ten-page nude layout, that at least according to society at large, you're doing okay in the looks department. [/nsfw]

But it was while I was confirming via Wikipedia that Charisma Carpenter had in fact posed for Playboy (because I do try to double-check the stuff I write), that I found this quote:

In the June 2004 issue of Playboy magazine, Carpenter appeared on the cover and in a ten-page nude layout. When asked by People magazine in 2005 about her nude pictorial and whether or not she would ever pose for Playboy again, she replied, "I don't know. I did Playboy for a very specific reason. Not only was it a good financial move, but it was about the place I was at in my life. I had just had my son and I'd gained 50 lbs. during pregnancy. I wanted to get back to my old self. I wanted to feel desirable and sexy. So I thought, 'What if I went full throttle?'"
Which I guess just goes to show that even "looking like Charisma Carpenter" is not a full-fledged guarantee of feeling desirable and sexy all the time.

Now, I've no idea if canon!Cordelia in Angel is supposed to be beautiful all along, but I do know that Twilight is supposed to be the story of an "average girl" and the beautiful boy who loves her. Stephenie Meyer has consistently reaffirmed that Bella is average looking and not Barbie-beautiful, and that the surplus of her admirers in Forks are the result largely of her newness and subjective standards of beauty that vary from place to place. Bella is not supposed to be impossibly gorgeous, and this makes her easier for the reader to sink into the character: hey, I'm not impossibly gorgeous either, so this could be the story of my life.

And yet... there seems to be a tension in fantasies that we both want our reader insert character to be as plain and unattractive and average as necessary for us to sink into and yet still astonishingly lovely should we ever actually have to look at them. On the silver screen, the most "average girl" suddenly is filled in with a Hollywood Homely or, in the case of Bella Swan, Kristen Stewart. And, yes, beauty is subjective and very much within the eye of the beholder, however, Ms. Stewart definitely meets many of the mainstream American "standards" of beauty.

But isn't this just what Hollywood always does? Buying up intellectual property describing plain or homely people and casting them all as drop-dead gorgeous knock-outs is part of the standard operating procedure for Hollywood movies. Maybe so. Except that there's this book that I got my hands on this weekend: The Twilight Graphic Novel.

This is a real thing in the real world.

The novel is not actually in color except for about 3% of the book. That disappoints me.

Drink that in.

The cover is not, as you might wonder, vampire!Bella. That is, in fact, human!Bella holding hands with Edward in the forest meadow in the first book, Twilight. Bella, as pictured here, is white-as-the-driven-snow, with big brown eyes, thick lips, and a cavern between her breasts that is apparently so deep that it is sucking her sweater into gravitational collapse. (That's the only explanation I can give for the way her sweater is arranged.) Her hair reaches down to the small of her back and additionally seems to have been coated in whatever they give the Pantene Pro-V gals in the commercials.

This Bella is "average" in the same way that Kristen Stewart is "average", which is to say "not average at all". There isn't a single spot on her skin, not one mole or skin tag or birthmark or even pores. Her face is perfectly symmetrical, her eyebrows are as thin and straight as if she'd spent that very morning being waxed and penciled. Her eyes are heavily shaded with mascara and eye shadow. It's a look that can be attained naturally or can be acquired with makeup and wax and skill, and there's nothing wrong with those things, but I'm not sure it's the Bella we were sold in Twilight. But it seems to be the Bella that the author, the artist, and (presumably) the fans want.

Or maybe not. That's just the graphic novel, right, and we all know how much those artists are influenced by anime these days. Let's pull out The Twilight Saga Official Illustrated Guide and see what Bella really looks like, pre- and post-vampirism.

Please tell me: is that a gold brick chained to her hand? Is it some sort of MP3 player? I need to know.

Outside of the shinier hair, I honestly cannot tell a difference between human!Bella and vampire!Bella.

I think part of the appeal of Twilight lies in it being the story of an "average girl" (just like you!) who has all her fantasies come true, including the fantasy of being as incredibly beautiful on the outside as her soul-mate recognizes she is on the inside. Of course, in order to become beautiful, she has to start as "not-beautiful" (just like you!), even if we don't want to actually see that reflected in the movies and visual media accompanying the Twilight 'verse. So lip service is made to the fact that she's a little average, a little homely, a little plain, and we sit back and believe the words without dealing with the reality that the images being presented to us don't mesh with the words themselves. Why should that bother us? We've been dealing with Hollywood Homely all our lives, after all.

The fantasy of being beautiful, however, strikes me in some ways as being similar to the Fantasy of Being Thin. In 2007, Kate Harding wrote:
But exhortations like that don’t take into account magical thinking about thinness, which I suspect — and the quote above suggests — is really quite common. Because, you see, the Fantasy of Being Thin is not just about becoming small enough to be perceived as more acceptable. It is about becoming an entirely different person – one with far more courage, confidence, and luck than the fat you has. It’s not just, “When I’m thin, I’ll look good in a bathing suit”; it’s “When I’m thin, I will be the kind of person who struts down the beach in a bikini, making men weep.”
If the fantasy of becoming beautiful is a fantasy of changing the self instead of changing looks, then it doesn't matter if Bella Swan is beautiful all along. The difference between human!Bella and vampire!Bella becomes a difference not of skin texture or eyebrow size or hip-to-waist ratio or bust measurements or anything else that our society largely arbitrarily defines as "beautiful" and "not-beautiful". The difference becomes something as intangible as the elusive vampire sparkles: a magical transformation into a different person. Human!Bella stumbles into school and the boys turn their heads to gawk at the new toy; vampire!Bella struts confidently around the world making grown men fall to their knees and weep in her wake.

Twilight is a fantasy, and I've said before and will say again that fantasies are well and good and healthy. But it's worth remembering -- because there are quite a few industries out there that pay good money to coax us to forget -- that the fantasy of magically becoming a new person overnight, whether via acquired beauty, acquired thinness, or acquired vampirism is not something that can be realistically realized. All these things will open doors and grant social acceptance, and that's the unfortunate nature of the world we currently (as of writing) live in, but they won't make someone a different person.

The flip side is that 'different personness' can be achieved without having to resort to magically-acquired body changes. Or, it's just possible that 'different personness' isn't even really necessary once we look past the constant demands of society to be more of whatever the exhorter-of-the-hour wants us to be.

Or, as Kate put it:
The reality is, I will never be the kind of person who thinks roughing it in Tibet sounds like a hoot; give me a decent hotel in London any day. I will probably never learn to waterski well, or snow ski at all, or do a back handspring. I can be outgoing and charismatic in small doses, but I will always then need time to recharge my batteries with the dogs and a good book; I’ll never be someone with a chock-full social calendar, because I would find that unbearably exhausting. (And no matter how well I’ve learned to fake it — and thus how much this surprises some people who know me — new social situations will most likely always intimidate the crap out of me.) I might learn to speak one foreign language fluently over the course of my life, but probably not five. I will never publish a novel until I finish writing one. I will always have to be aware of my natural tendency toward depression and might always have to medicate it. Smart money says I am never going to chuck city life to buy an alpaca farm or start a new career as a river guide. And my chances of marrying George Clooney are very, very slim.

None of that is because I’m fat. It’s because I’m me.
One of the very few things I like about Twilight is that -- if you squint at it in just the right light -- it tells the story of an unhappy girl who takes steps to improve her life and get the future she wants. What I don't like about that message is that she does this via fantastical means that simply aren't available for the rest of us. It's a fun and compelling fantasy if you like that sort of thing, and that's great. But I'd just as soon have had Bella come to love her own self instead of exchanging her self overnight for a 'better' self.

Final note: I really very much wanted to work this Monty Python clip into the post, but the occasion never presented itself. Here it is, anyway. 

Open Thread: Color Metaphors

I've been thinking today about how often we use color metaphors in speech and how a lot of them sound potentially problematic to my ears now that I'm somewhat more educated on language marginalization.

I'm wondering if there's any way to salvage these metaphors, or if that's even possible. Could we say there's no yellow-and-blue morality in this world, just shades of green or that's the pot calling the kettle red. Is that possible? Is it doable? Is it desirable?

Open Thread: A Public Service Announcement

Sent via email from a fellow Slactivite, you should now all try this wonderful thing out: Teledraw.

It's like Pictionary + Telephone + Wild Fun Times.

Here is one I did: H.G. Wells looks forward to the completion of his anthology.

Please note that the site is new and has some trolls that need reporting, so it's not a Safe Space. Trigger Warnings for racism, ableism, transphobia, and NSFW drawings. The report button seems to ban them pretty fast. There are two channels, one "Everyone" channel where you don't need an account (has the most drive-by trolls) and a "Registered Users" channel where there are far fewer trolls.

OPEN THREAD BELOW.

Author Interview: Jonathan Ball on "Path of Righteousness"

Ana's Note: I generally try to avoid hosting political or military opinions directly on this blog. However, I recognize that Middle Eastern wars are common and popular subjects for a variety of books including a number of political and military thrillers as well as a variety of widely-know Christian series books. 

I've chosen to host this interview with the understanding that the sentiments expressed herein are not endorsed or directly-commented-on by myself. As always, readers are free to comment as they please as long as the Comment Policy is followed. 

Thank you.

Ana: Today we have Jonathan Ball introducing his novel, "Path of the Righteous". I haven't read this book myself, but Jonathan was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Jonathan, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?

Jonathan: "Path of the Righteous" is a fictional look into a plausible future. It is about an American economic collapse under a developing regime. America's electro-economy fails, so the reigning president must decide to either pursue failed endeavors or to betray Israel as a buy-in to the Saudi Arabian controlled petrol market. American Christians start to defect to Israel with the intentions of joining the Israeli Defense Force and make a stand against an American-backed and very dangerous Arab Alliance.

Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?

Jonathan: A large part of this novel, or at least the inspiration for it, was made out of consideration for the dangers of over-reaching governments all over the world. The international alliances we have, especially in the Middle East, are dangerously fickle. As we've seen world markets fail since the 2008 collapse in America, we've also seen real unrest and violence. It's a sad reality in the current state of our world, so I started to ask myself: What would I do if America went to war with Israel? That thought manifested itself into a realistic-fiction type of look into a possible future.

Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book?

Jonathan: I really wrote this book for the sake of being creative and just getting ideas out there. I'm a former Marine, so I've always loved the tales of war-torn heroes who pull through the depths of what the world sometimes has to offer. I'm ever inspired by the enduring human spirit, especially that of the American warrior who lays his life on the line for others. Then, I started to write "Path of the Righteous". My father, Mike Ball, and I have discussed the prospect of going to fight for the IDF if Israel's surrounding enemies started to attack. I just fictionalized the idea, added some political basis to justify the idea, and ran with it. It was a lot of fun to write it out.

Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?

Jonathan: Wow... That's a tough one. A friend of mine read the first draft (a dangerous endeavor for sure), but he compared me to Tom Clancy. I remember thinking 'Yeah. If only...' However, I do see the similarities. " Path of the Righteous" is set within a realistic political climate and focuses on the fight of a few for the sake of the many. Mr. Clancy gives more specific names to auxiliary characters and does more to define non-critical characters, but I really didn't want to make "Path of the Righteous" so long that it would be a chore to read. Additionally, the political climate and set up for a large-scale edge of a world war was done more blatantly than Mr. Clancy's use of conspiracy tales. Even still, I can certainly see the similarities despite the differences.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?

Jonathan: I initially wrote a screenplay called "Aces" for an animated children's movie about a pigeon who becomes a fighter pilot. He was a loner/troublemaker and had to learn how to be a team player for the sake of completing his mission and getting the girl. I was in consideration in the Toronto Independent Film Festival (2011), but just missed the final selections. Not too bad for a first-timer from what I've been told inside the movie-making industry.

Then I wrote "Path of the Righteous", which is the first novel I've published for purchase, and it's really exciting. So exciting, in fact, that I'm proofing several other novels that I've written. Readers who like "Path of the Righteous" can expect "Les Troubadours de la Guerre", "A Hole in the Pocket", and several others to come. Each of my books keep to a similar genre or theme -- a former warrior, someone who waged war in the name of country, but then must find his way through his own conflicts -- but all tell a very different story from the last. With "Path of the Righteous", I did leave openings to tie in other parts or continuations. Contingent upon how the story does, I might be considering a "Path of the Righteous" series, but we'll have to wait and see.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?

Jonathan: "Path of the Righteous" is available on Amazon for $0.99. Readers can also follow me on Facebook to keep up with new releases.

I would also love to know everyone's ideas and feedback. I'll check reviews on Amazon through the link to "Path of the Righteous". All feedback is welcomed because I see it as a great way to improve overall.

Ana: Thank you, Jonathan. I understand you have the first chapter of your novel available as an excerpt for interested readers? And is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Jonathan: You can try the novel for free with Amazon's "Send sample now" feature. Don't be confused when you open the book to Chapter 22 on Page 1. I promise it will make sense when you read the book, and you can expect similar chapter ordering in future novels as my own little nod to personalized style. Thank you so much for your consideration and I really hope you enjoy "Path of the Righteous".

Claymore: A World Not Like Our Own

Content Note: Intense Torture, Strong Violence, Sexualized Violence

Claymore Recap: Clare is on the run from the Organization and is looking for Raki. This is the first episode of the Riful arc.

Claymore, Episode 15: The Witch's Maw, Part 1

Episode 15 opens with Clare looking for Raki.

Twilight: The Problem of Mike

Content Note: Rape, Sexual Violence, Stalking, Rape Culture

Twilight Recap: Bella is on the verge of fainting in her Biology class, due to a strong sensitivity to the presence of blood.

Twilight, Chapter 5: Blood Type

   "Can someone take Bella to the nurse, please?" he called.
   I didn’t have to look up to know that it would be Mike who volunteered.
   "Can you walk?" Mr. Banner asked.
   "Yes," I whispered. Just let me get out of here, I thought. I'll crawl.
   Mike seemed eager as he put his arm around my waist and pulled my arm over his shoulder. I leaned against him heavily on the way out of the classroom.

Open Thread: Don't Forget Your Music

(As a reminder, Amazon is giving away free winter holiday MP3s here. The deal presumably ends on the 26th, so get them while they're still available.)

In other news, what are you doing lately? Not everyone spends time with family on December 25th -- in our case, Husband is very often in another state, doting on his children, and Parents are very frequently on a cruise or some other fun-place-with-food, so Ana is frequently alone on Yule.

Since Yule is one of the very few Wiccan holidays I actually have a bit of free quiet time (because I can't not give out candy on Halloween), I tend to try to spend the evening in quiet meditation, with possibly some reflection on the upcoming year and maybe some introspective Tarot reading to guide my thoughts and plans. And then when I get antsy, I'll usually go play computer games because dear sweet earth mother, A.D.D. and quiet meditation are like oil and water, you know?

So what are your plans for the weekend?

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Tropes: Manic Pixie Dream People

Husband and I watched "Bridesmaids" last night. I'd picked it up for fairly simple reasons: I'd heard that it passed the Bechdel test, and I'd heard that it was about friendship and growth instead of about Women Behaving Badly At Weddings, and I wanted to see what such a movie would look like. And then after adding it to the Blockbuster movie queue, I started obsessively worrying that such a movie would never be made and that the whole thing would be failtastic and saddening, so the disk ended up sitting on our coffee table for weeks until Husband got tired of it and popped it in to watch.

Deals: Bumped for 99 Cents

OK, I know it's only got 3 stars on Amazon, but I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. And it's 99 cents right now.


The one caveat is that it DOES end on a very OMGWTFBBQ sequel hook. But it's worth it. It's about the fetishization of pregnancy in our culture, the commodification of young women's bodies, and the empowerment of protected sex. Review here.

Author Interview: Lizz Lund on "Kitchen Addiction!"

Ana: Today we have Lizz Lund introducing her novel, "Kitchen Addiction!". I haven't read this book myself, but Lizz was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Lizz, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?

Lizz: "Kitchen Addiction!" is funny romp through Lancaster, PA. It features Mina Kitchen, who is a less than satisfied office worker, who suffers from inherited "catering crazies" any time she experiences stress -- which is a lot. The adventures she encounters revolve around the zany capers she lets herself get led into by her Godmother, the senior crowd at St. Bart’s Episcopal Church, and her neighbor, Vito Spaghetti. The broad jacket description I use is this:

Meet Mina Kitchen, a forty-something single who likes to cook -- and cook and cook. In fact, her zest for whipping up trays of canapes is dwarfed only by her weird luck and mountain-lion size tabby cat, Vinnie. That, and her godmom's tendency for blackmailing new members into joining St. Bart's. Okay, maybe Mina's Swiffer-addicted neighbor, Vito, is a bit weird, too. As if all that wasn't enough, Mina's a Jersey girl transplanted in the midst of the Amish-flavored countryside of Lancaster, PA.

Things get really complicated when she learns that her neighbor Vito is in a witness protection program, and her dry cleaner deals in prescription samples. Throw in a few mysterious flaming feces flingers and a fuse box labeled in Arabic, and you have a recipe for catering disorders.

"Kitchen Addiction!" will keep you smiling when you're not LOL-ing. Set in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, you'll find a surprising cast of characters, humorous plot twists, red herrings and actual recipes. Well, some of the recipes are real. The others you might to take with a pinch of salt, and some Tums.

If you're looking for a funny fiction read, packed with humor, excitement -- and recipes -- look no further. Lund's debut "chick lit" novel blends fun characters, great dialogue and zany capers into a frothy fiction that's sure to amuse. The novel also delivers a virtual tourist romp through the actual streets of Lancaster City and its surroundings.

Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?

Lizz: I sincerely hope that "Kitchen Addiction!" will give folks a light-hearted, feel-good read -- honestly nothing serious. That said, I think the things that may resonate with some readers might come from Mina and her employment dilemmas; and the feeling of being a round peg in a square hole. There’s also a foodie aspect here, that anyone who’s succumbed to watching back-to-back episodes of "Chopped!" might understand. And, there’s a perspective for pet-lovers, as Mina and her buds consider their pets family. There’s also the situation of being a 40-something single gal, and living in an unfamiliar locale, with local customs that seem a bit odd, at least to an outsider/Jersey transplant.

Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book?

Lizz: Boatloads of money? Rockstar fame? Hey, I think I’m missing something…? lol ;) Honestly, I think most everyone has a book they want to write in their head. Luckily for me, I was let go from my job a few years ago, and found I had scads of time on my hands, in-between looking for a new job. My mom was really into Janet Evanovich at the time, and I soon began gobbling up her Stephanie Plum novels. I loved the fact that Evanovich uses first person, and that Stephanie’s from New Jersey -- like me. I also love reading Marian Keyes, too, for similar reasons. And I really love living in Lancaster.

So, an idea began to brew. After a little digging, I became a bit perplexed that most of the fiction I could find, using Lancaster as a setting, was about the Amish. I mean, I live here, and I’m definitely not Amish, right? So, I set out to use my local environs in a way that is fresh, writing-wise at least. I also thought it would be fun for readers to find out that most of the street names and directions given in Kitchen Addiction! are actual street names and directions around the area. And I thought it would be a unique approach to include recipes -- good and bad -- as part of the storyline. And, of course, I set out to write something humorous.

Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?

Lizz: I guess I’ll have to rely on my editor's, as well as "beta readers" feedback for this. Nicholas J. Ambrose, of Regarding the Hive, who I’m very thankful is my editor, lives "across the pond" and put "Kitchen Addiction!" in the Marian Keyes category (for which I am extremely flattered.) In terms of Mina being a Jersey transplant in Central Pee-Ay; I'd say I was definitely influenced by Janet Evanovich. Other writing style comments from my first readers in the States have compared me to Erma Bombeck. All of these comparisons frankly make me feel very happy and grateful; especially as they did not include references to anesthesiology digests or other soporifics.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?

Lizz: "Kitchen Addiction!" is my first novel, in an upcoming series of Mina Kitchen books. I’m about halfway through its sequel, Confection Connection and am hoping for an early Spring release. That said, the editing portion of writing is still part of a learning curve for me; as I'd rather delay and release a good product than rush and publish something that might prove unsatisfactory for readers. I’m also 2 chapters into a Christmas-themed novella, using most of the same characters, with some funny Yuletide twists. I’m aiming for releasing this during 2011 holidays; and am working pretty hard at it.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?

Lizz: Online, the easiest ways for a reader wanting a copy of "Kitchen Addiction!" would of be through Amazon as a paperback and as an eBook through Smashwords for $2.99. For folks in the Lancaster area, I’ve just been in communication with Aaron’s Books in Lititz, PA and looks like "Kitchen Addiction!" will soon be on their shelves.

I also make every attempt to provide updates to my blog page, Simmerings. Most of these posts are funny; and some steer straight toward useful (posted pet friendly hotel directories when Lancaster got hit by the last round of storms/flooding.)

If anyone wants to reach out, I do get around to answering all emails: LizzLund.Author@gmail.com For those disposed to Twitter; I always reply to direct messages; sometimes I don’t see all my tweets - I’m @FunnyAuthor on Twitter. And I do check for comments on my Facebook page, “Lizz Lund – Author” too.

Ana: Thank you, Lizz. I understand you have the first chapter of your novel available as an excerpt for interested readers? And is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Lizz: The first chapter is here. If that piques your interest, and you'd like a larger sample, my husband and I collaborated on a FREE cookbook based on Kitchen Addiction! It’s about half done; but we posted what we completed anyway up on the site; under the “Samplings” page at http://www.LizzLund.com. The cookbook in its entirety should be completed and posted soon; we’re only about 3-4 recipes to go. This is also a pdf; and anyone can download it completely, or by single recipe, anytime they wish. There’s no sign-up or anything like that. And, really, it's completely free.

I’d also like to take a moment and thank your readers for their interest in reading about me, and Kitchen Addiction! I hope they find it a happy read.

Deals: December Kindle Big Deal Sale

There's another Kindle Big Deal Sale! Except I didn't find much that I couldn't live without. But I did get:


Narnia: The Passion of Aslan

Content Note: Death, Torture, Execution

Narnia Recap: The four children have joined Aslan at the Stone Table. The White Witch has demanded Edmund as a traitor sentenced to death, and Aslan has made a secret deal with the Witch, out of the hearing of the rest of the company. The Witch's final question -- "But how do I know this promise will be kept?" -- was answered with a fierce roar from Aslan, and she fled the camp in fear.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Chapter 14: The Triumph of the Witch

I want to say a few things before we start this chapter.

Review: Game Dev Story

Game Dev Story
by Kairosoft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been thinking lately that I need to start reviewing my android apps. Between my Captivate phone and my Nook running CM7, I use android apps pretty much all day, every day, at least as much as I use my eInk readers. I was honestly planning to start with some productivity and writing apps, but instead I got unexpectedly addicted this week to Game Dev Story, so... we'll start there.

How do I love this game? Let me count the ways. I love that it's a single price on the Google Market and there is no possibly way to give the company money besides buying this game. In other words, this isn't one of those "games" where you have to keep sinking more and more money into it to keep playing or to access all the toys. And when you buy the game, it's ad-free. My goodness, it's like it's an actual game company instead of a money-sucking schema.

I love that the game plays when I run it and not when I don't -- it's not one of those games where you have to set a timer to remember to come back at 3 am because that's when your crops need to be harvested. I love that the game is the perfect speed; not so fast that I feel like I'm unable to keep up and not so slow that I'm bored.

I love the subject matter: you're head of a game development company and you make video games. The market changes in a "historical" fashion -- fans will recognize the development of the Sega Genesis, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Playstation, etc. -- but also in a realistic fashion based on which consoles you, as a developer, choose to support. I love being able to piece together my own star team of programmers and I love having a team of all-women right out of the gate.

Code, girls! Code like the wind!

I love that there are different job types and specialties and it's not just "can you code?" but also who does the writing, who does the graphics, who does the music. (I wish my Real Life company would realize that.) I love the cute training options, and my goodness but finding good game combinations is addictive.

I haven't been able to put this down for two days now. To be fair, Husband watched me play for two minutes and dismissively called it a "spreadsheet game", so you might try the free demo first, but I love it and that's good enough for me.

~ Ana Mardoll

Twilight: Bad Boys and Blood Drives

Content Note: Assault, Danger, Painful Sex, Painful Pregnancy, Blood Donation

Twilight Recap: Edward has beckoned to Bella across the school lunchroom and she's joined him at his empty table. Bella has suggested that Edward is possibly some sort of super-hero as an explanation for his supernatural behavior during The Parking Lot Incident.

Twilight, Chapter 5: Blood Type

Welp, I've kind of burned out on Hating On Edward Cullen for the moment, so I'm just going to assume for today that we're supposed to hate Edward Cullen because he is a bad guy, and Twilight is about redeeming him with the redeeming power of redeeming love. And, coincidentally, that works very nicely with today's conversation.

Open Thread: Favorite Comic Character

Since we had such a scintillating comics discussion on the Twilight threads, it's time for a fan thread: who is your favorite comic book character? (Shorter list for less obsessive fans.)

Off the cuff, I'd have to say Wonder Woman for me. I've read zero of her comics, but I like the (possibly apocryphal) story that her creators had quite a few write-in complaints about her being big, tall, strong, and generally Amazonian.

Although now that I say that, I've remembered that Elf Quest counts as a comic, so I'm going to change my answer (without actually editing, because if this wasn't stream-of-consciousness, it wouldn't be Open Thread day) and say my favorite character is Nightfall. She's competent, capable, and totally low-drama awesomesauce.

Tropes: Running a Deconstruction, or Devoting Your Life To Complaining About Things You Don’t Like

Ana's Note: This article originally ran as a Slacktiverse Special. This is a repost in case you missed it the first time.

My story closely resembles many of those on Slacktiverse. Some indeterminate time a few years back, I followed a link-to-a-link-to-a-link and landed who-knows-how on Fred Clark's exquisite Left Behind commentaries. I then immediately dropped to a zero productivity rate as I feverishly plowed through the entire series, from the first post to the last, in a frenzy of reading that left me gasping for more.

Author Interview: Jed Fisher on "First Enlistment"

Ana: Today we have Jed Fisher introducing his novel, "First Enlistment, War for Profit Part One". I haven't read this book myself, but Jed was kind enough to agree to guest blog about his book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Jed, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?

Jed: "First Enlistment: War for Profit Part One" is the first novel of the War for Profit Trilogy. The main character, Galen, has just graduated from a military academy. He begins his military career by enlisting in a professional mercenary armored brigade along with his two friends, Tad and Spike. Set a couple thousand years from now, professional mercenary units range in size from teams of four to entire divisions of fifteen thousand and offer their services, for the right price, to employers. Galen has enlisted in a mercenary armored brigade to seek his fortune and make his mother proud.

Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, what do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?

Jed: The primary theme is military service. Although I’ve chosen to create a future setting for the action, the challenges of professional military service, the experience of fighting battles and wars, has changed little for the individual soldier, whether they poke one another with pointy sticks or vaporize one another with particle cannons.

Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book?

Jed: After having been asked, “What’s it like?” one time too may, I decided to write a book about military service. Of course it is a work of fiction, of science fiction, to avoid giving away any state secrets or divulging too much about current weapons capability or operationally sensitive information. But still, I give a clear sense of what it was like for me. But keep in mind, as with any experience, no two people experience it exactly the same way. As a fan of David Drake’s "Hammer’s Slammers" novels and short stories, I do appreciate his stories and the sense of ‘being there’ that he gives. And it’s close, so very close, to my own experience. I also enjoyed the entire line of Mechwarrior novels, as well as Harold Coyle’s Team Yankee novel. But my greatest inspiration for my novel was my own experience, 24 years in the US Army Field Artillery.

Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?

Jed: Well, I could say many fans of "Hammer’s Slammers" would like "First Enlistment". But some won’t. Readers of Military Science Fiction are very diverse and have very specific taste. My experience in the military was from a very unique perspective, my own perspective, and won’t resonate well with some readers. Which is fine, I understand that. I can say that if they like the first chapter they will enjoy the rest of it.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?

Jed: I’ve published a trilogy and "First Enlistment" is the first part. However, all thee novels do stand alone as separate stories. They do not end with cliff hangers. I have also released the entire trilogy in a single volume for readers who enjoy longer works. I have also published my short story collection, "River Rats and Other Stories", chosen from literary material I wrote for professional writing workshops and classes. What I’m working on now is a novella about a disgruntled Staff Sergeant left behind by his artillery unit at the end of large-scale combat operations to be a casualty replacement. So far I’m having a lot of fun with that story, set about two months into the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?

Jed: My novel is available as an eBook on Amazon. I’m also on Facebook. And I have a Hubpages blog where I post articles, where readers can leave comments.

Ana: Thank you, Jed. I understand you have the first chapter of your novel available as an excerpt for interested readers? And is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Jed: Yes. Enjoy the sample.


Deals: National Geographic! Again!

In case you missed this a few weeks ago, it's on sale again:


National Geographic has a 10 disc series of natural things for sale at ~$30 once you take shipping into account. This bundle includes the Jeremy Irons narrated "Relentless Enemies" disc which is about swamp lions in Africa and which is really freaking good. I think the sale is today only.

Claymore: The Many Kinds of Sacrifice

Content Note: Violence, NSFW Nudity, Death

Claymore Recap: Clare has been rescued from Ophelia by Ilena, who has agreed to train Clare. This is the last episode of the Ophelia arc.

Claymore, Episode 14: Qualified to Fight

When we join Clare in Episode 14, she's training furiously in order to master Ilena's Quick-Sword technique and hopefully bridge the gap between the warrior-she-was and the warrior-she-hopes-to-be, and with her weaker arm, to boot. Finally Ilena tells Clare that rest and refreshment are as vital to training as practice is. (This seems like something Clare should already know, but the Organization training methods seem to be to just let the students do whatever they want.)

Twilight: The Breaking Dawn (Part 1!) Movie Review

Content Note: Infertility, Dangerous Pregnancy, Racism

OK, so a bunch of you might be aware that I made a big spectacle out of myself and saw Breaking Dawn over Thanksgiving weekend. And now it's time for the Very Serious Review. And note that I am not going to refer to the book at all because I think movies should stand on their own. Ready? Let's go!

Open Thread: GoodReads is Very Disappointed in Me


If you can't quite read the picture, it's informing me that I've read 104 out of my 365 book reading goal, which means I'm sitting at 28% with no hope in sight. Ha.

It's not like I set the goal realistically. I picked 365 because there are 365 days in a year and reading a book a day sounds lovely, if a bit tiring. And a good fair few of those 104 that I did read were ABNA entrants (which take a heck of a lot of time, let me tell you) and graphic novels like Claymore, which I can whip through pretty fast. So it's rather arbitrary, really, but a fun way to track my reading in general terms over the year.

(Husband has also pointed out that according to his ARAT program, my reviewing -- and therefore my reading -- has plummeted since I started the blog. Double Ha.)

But! The astute among you have noticed that there is a badge for winning. Ana does not like to not win badges. Badges are basically my reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Badges are why I cannot bear to uninstall the Kobo app from my phone, despite being inferior to every other reader app I own, because the Kobo app treats reading like Pokemon. And, seriously, I eat that sort of thing up. And since there's basically no chance that I'll read 265 books this weekend, I fixed it another way.


All better now!

How many books have you read this year?

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Feminism: The Dilemma of Female Fantasies

[Content Note: Sexism, Ableism, Racism]

Ana's Note: This one is going to be all over the map, folks. What can I say, it's the nature of December. Apologies in advance.

Husband and I watched the totally-not-Twilight movie "Little Red Riding Hood" a few weeks ago. We watched it purely for snark purposes -- I'd already deliberately spoiled myself on every major plot element, and we were largely looking for some good times with the RiffTrax. We were not disappointed.

Author Interview: James Anderson on "Deadline"

Ana: Today we have James A. Anderson introducing their novel, "Deadline". I haven't read this book myself, but James was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. James, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?

James: This is a thriller set in a daily newspaper in Toronto which covers 24 hours in real time and combines murder, a serial killer, action, terrorists, and romance. It follows four central characters in Toronto and Afghanistan in an alternating format as they cope with personal and professional deadlines in their lives. I wrote it as a fast-paced, page-turning read with short paragraphs and short chapters using journalistic style.

Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?

James: It explores what it is like working in a daily newspaper. It gives readers a behind the headlines look at how stories are pursued. I strongly believe thrillers should be entertaining first and fast-paced page-turners. That’s what I tried to create here. I think it shows that the daily headlines are what life is about and I used real incidents fictionalized in this novel. I hope it gives readers an insight i nto the hectic and sometimes dangerous world of journalism. But most of all, I hope they are entertained in enjoying a thrilling novel and story.

Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book?

James: I’m a 63-year-old retired Canadian journalist with more than 35 years experience in daily and weekly newspapers as a reporter and editor. I’m also an avid reader with wide tastes, but I especially like thrillers and mysteries. Authors like Michael Connelly, Lee Child and Vince Flynn are my favourites. Like Michael Connelly, I’m a former journalist now turned author who writes about my experiences in a fictional way. I write because I feel compelled to write. I’ve been writing stories since I was 12 years old and published some short stories in my 20s. But most of my life has been taken up with writing for newspapers. Now that I am retired I plan to write thrillers. There are not many on the market with a journalism theme, so I believe that mine will be a new experience for readers.

Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?

James: I really don’t think there is anything on the market that my book could be compared to. Perhaps the Jack McEvoy novels of Michael Connelly would the closest, such as The Poet. But if you like fast-paced, page-turning thrillers with action and some violence and sex, although not too graphic, then "Deadline" will be your cup of tea.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?

James: This is my first published novel. I’m currently about half-way through a sequel titled The Scorpion, based on requests from readers of my first novel who enjoyed it. I’ve had many four and five-star reviews on Amazon and Smashwords and only one two-star review so far.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?

James: "Deadline" can be purchased from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and the publisher Lulu. I can be contacted on Twitter, Facebook or email. I enjoy hearing from readers and their opinions on my book, good or bad. Constructive criticism can only help me improve my future novels. I try to respond to every reader who has taken the time to read my book and contact me. Reviews are also appreciated and helpful to other readers. I will be letting people know through Facebook and Twitter when my next novel is available.

Ana: Thank you, James. I understand you have the first chapter of your novel available as an excerpt for interested readers? And is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

James: Here is the first chapter of my novel, or you can read the samples on Amazon or Lulu. I want to thank you Ana for this opportunity to get the word out about my book. I hope readers will give it a try and let me know what they think, what they liked and what they didn’t. Thank You.

Narnia: The Emperor's Hangwoman

Content Note: Death, Torture, Execution

Narnia Recap: Peter, Susan, Lucy, and the Beavers have caught up with Aslan at the Stone Table.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Chapter 13: Deep Magic From The Dawn Of Time

   NOW WE MUST GET BACK TO EDMUND. When he had been made to walk far further than he had ever known that anybody could walk, the Witch at last halted in a dark valley all overshadowed with fir trees and yew trees. [...]
"No," said the dwarf, "it is no use now, O Queen. They must have reached the Stone Table by now."

Deals: Free Holiday Music (That You Can't Get Out Of Your Head)

Amazon is giving away free winter holiday MP3s here from now until December 25th.

Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks / 1400052173

I was really excited to read this for a book club; I'd heard that the book was really wonderfully written and informative. Now having read it, I'm really struggling with my review: how do you rate a book that has a great first half but which I only finished because I didn't want to show up to book club not having read the whole thing?

The first half of this book tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, and how she came to be so incredibly important to the field of modern medicine. The chapters that cover the technology used to work with her cancer cells and which give a sort of 'history of modern medicine' overview are extremely interesting and informative, and well worth the investment of this book, I think.

There's a lot of valuable discussion of the ethics of medical research, and how our understanding has grown and changed over the years. For instance, Henrietta's cells were used without compensation because the mentality at the time was that charity care in a free hospital meant that the patient's cells, once 'donated' for their own diagnosis, could then be used without permission and compensation for research. Whether or not this is fair to the person from whom the cells originated is a complex question that we've answered differently as a society over the years, and I appreciate the balanced look provided in the "science sections" of the book.

Unfortunately, in the second half, this book tails into a sort of autobiography of the author as she follows Henrietta's surviving family and children around the country. And it's this half that is something of a slog to wade through. Everything discussed here is interesting, but it becomes repetitive quickly as the author covers and recovers the same ground (Henrietta's cells were taken without her permission; her surviving children have not been compensated adequately), and several members of my book club thought that the author toots her own horn enough to be seriously distracting.

Worst of all, there's a feeling in several places that the author is carefully editing and editorializing the 'facts' in order to work peacefully with the family -- in the chapter where the children are abused by their new step-mother, for instance, you'd be forgiven for assuming that their father dropped off the face of the earth, because I'm not sure he even appears in that chapter once the new step-mom moves in. And, again, when Henrietta's daughter complains that she wants the scientists to tell her what her mother was like, and the things she enjoyed, it's frustrating as a reader to not be able to ask why her father (and indeed the community at large) isn't able to tell her these things -- after all, Henrietta and her husband grew up together in the same house!

The second half of the book is framed in a sort of moral crusade: the family should be compensated for their mother's cells because they can't even afford proper medical care! I sort of agree with everything in that sentence EXCEPT the "because". I think the family should have universal health care regardless of whether or not they hit the genetic lottery in terms of their mother, and I also think they deserve some kind of compensation for all they've been through. I think by linking those two issues in a cause-and-effect sort of way, however, really obscures all the other poor people in Henrietta's community who are also being denied health care on a daily basis.

I guess, in the end, I liked what I learned in this book, but the way it was presented made me feel like the author was pushing an agenda and a 'version' of history. That makes me uncomfortable in a supposedly non-fiction biography / science text, and so I'm not sure how much I personally recommend this past the first half.

~ Ana Mardoll

View all my reviews

Review: I'm With The Band

I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie
by Pamela Des Barres

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm With The Band / 9780450506376

I really wanted to like this book, but I couldn't get much past the first third of the book. Somehow, impossibly, this fascinating life story just could not hold my interest.

"I'm With The Band" is maybe a cautionary tale of the difficulties of writing an autobiography and the importance of a good editor. Pamela tells her life-story chronologically, but the chapters of her book have nothing to tie them together, no high highs or low lows around which the text is meaningfully organized. Everything just sort of flows from her early teenage years onward, carefully inter-spaced with increasingly longer entries from her diaries kept during those times. I think a skilled ghost writer or capable editor could have shaped this story into something with a little more punch, and a little less repetition.

Things I liked about this book, though, include: a very sex-positive and people-positive look at a fascinating time and a fascinating life. The writing, though sometimes repetitive as young Pamela bounces from new causes and new bands and new friends, is very earnest and largely feels extremely honest and open. It's very fascinating to read about the sit-ins, the be-ins, the drugs, the bands, and the people as though you're really there seeing everything through Pamela's eyes, and the diary excerpts underscore that these experiences aren't wholly filtered through the lens of memory and nostalgia.

Things I didn't like about this book: sometimes there's some shaming of other women, as when Pamela speculates that certain people who didn't live her lifestyle are probably miserable now anyway, but I imagine that Pamela has been given her fair share of flack so I won't judge her for being a little defensive. The disorganization of the material means that there are a lot of names to keep track of as they fade in and out of Pamela's life and it's sometimes hard to keep straight who everyone is. Without organized 'themes' in chapters, the writing starts to become a little repetitive: Pamela finds a new cause, a new friend, a new boy, a new band, a new drug, or a new job; falls intensely in love with the new thing; and is slowly pushed away from the cause/friend/band/boy/drug/job as it becomes increasingly unhealthy and/or a bad fit for her. I can see someone sticking with the narrative for the experience of the times, but for me I started to just get very sad at how many people weren't treating Pamela as nicely as I felt they should.

Also, the Kindle edition of this book has some errors that proved distracting (such as extraneous periods that slipped into sentences every so often) and the "teen speak" is a little heavy at times in the narrative, such as the desire to use triple adjectives like 'he was dreamydreamydreamy' and similar sentiments.

Finally, and this is going to sound a bit voyeuristic, but in a novel that advertises to be a "kiss-and-tell-all", it's very frustrating to me that in at least the first third of the book, scenes are written so vaguely that I have no idea what's going on. A recurring theme with the first third is Pamela's virginity and who she chooses to give it to, and I lost count of the times when I *thought* PIV intercourse had occurred, only for Pamela to bring up a few pages later that she was still a virgin. I'm not expecting graphic detail, but when everything is cloaked in vague descriptions and heated metaphors, it's really hard to follow the story. I note that Pamela describes her book as more of a coming-of-age tale in the introduction, and I think that's accurate -- at least for the parts I read.

Whether or not you will enjoy this novel will probably depend on what you're looking for. If you want an honest, open romp through the past and a close look at the drugs and rock of the period, I think this book will probably deliver. If you want a sexy tell-all that starts fast and keeps you hooked, I'm not sure that you won't find the book to be a touch of a slog.

~ Ana Mardoll

View all my reviews

Deals: Harlequin Half-Off Sale

eHarlequin is selling their eBooks at 50% off today with the code HALFEBOOK11. Yes, this includes Deathlands novels! (Search for "Axler, James", because "Deathlands" doesn't come up with any results. Search engine FAIL. And they have books 79-102 in the series.)

Affiliate link here:


The eHarlequin books download to Adobe Digital Editions and are therefore usable on ADE authorized devices.

Deals: A Pasta Book!

It is so rare to have a Kindle Daily Deal be anything to do with cooking and now we've had two this week! Vegan and now pasta! And I love pasta.

Twilight: Cultural Vocabulary and Cultured Ignorance

Content Note: Dysfunctional Relationships

Twilight Recap: Edward has beckoned to Bella across the school lunchroom and she's joined him at his empty table.

Twilight, Chapter 5: Blood Type

One of the hardest things about having taken a lot of fun psychology and sociology classes in college is that later you can't remember the names of all the cool stuff you learned. At my book club a few weeks ago, I could not for the life of me remember the names of Kohlberg's moral stages nor the name of the Heinz dilemma and let me tell you that makes it darned hard to google. And now I'm struggling with a concept that I understood very well, but which I cannot remember the precise name for it, so I'm just going to call it "cultural vocabulary". Please correct me in the comments.

Open Thread: MMORPG Tales

For those of you gamers in the audience, what's your MMORPG of choice, or have you played one? Share some fun stories in the open thread!

I'll start: I play LOTRO with Husband. We started at least as much as a test of our new computers and monitors when we upgraded a few years ago. A friend at work had recommended LOTRO as being a little more mature and less cartoony than WoW. We loaded into a field of gently swaying grasses, I wept at how beautiful it was, and that was pretty much all she wrote in terms of comparison shopping.

I prefer playing healers, so I was surprised and pleased to note that my Minstrel healer can also kill and/or stun just about anything just by shouting at it. This is surprisingly close to my real world persona (shouty), so role-playing has been a breeze. What I love/hate about LOTRO is the quests are incredibly repetitive, but this means I can multi-task in the background with my writing projects so...yeah. Husband is less enthralled, but he tabs out and codes. We know how to have a fun Saturday evening, I'm telling you.

Metapost: Internet Returned

And the internet is back FOR REALS. It seems to have come back some time between 9 pm and 5 am, so thank you AT&T Employee who worked through the night on that, and bless you.

It's funny how the initial 48-hour window I was offered by AT&T seemed so ridiculous that a mere 12-hour window (which is what it ended up being) is something I'm relieved over, but I'm just glad to have the internet and phones back up.

Deals: The Vegan Girl's Guide To Life

I'm guessing it's hard to find good vegan literature in ebook form, and today's Kindle Daily Deal is a $10 book for $1, apparently by someone with a name in the vegan community, so I thought it was worth a highlight. I'm eyeing that cupcake on the cover and wondering what a vegan cupcake tastes like... they really go for them on Cupcake Wars sometimes... mmm.