Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The RAtC Sex-O-Meter and Kinky vs Porn

Thinking about my blog and how I wanted it to evolve made me wonder - am I really ranking and reviewing these books in a way that's most helpful to my readers? Am I telling them all they really want to know? And then it hit me - a Sex-O-Meter! Something that would (probably through an easily deciphered image) would clue people in on whether the book I'm reviewing has too much (or too little) sex for their own personal opinion.

I, as you all know by now, read a variety of romance and non-romance. Accordingly, the level of sex in each book swings wildly from G/PG to XXX (I would put more X's in, but I find that redundant). But what about the average reader? What do they want? What are they willing to tolerate? I was talking out this idea with my roommate and we decided that it was GREAT. Who has a Sex-O-Meter?!?! No one I know of!

But what also came about during this conversation was the question of how I was going to decide on my two endpoints. The whole point of a scale is to have the two extremities at either end. Originally I thought maybe I'd put a young adult or juvenile novel at the 'sex-less' end of the scale but I think that's going to be TOO FAR on the
innocent end. Instead, I think one of those Harlequin Inspirational Romances is going to be over there on that end. Mostly because this is going to be a Sex-O-Meter, not an Adult Content-O-Meter. I will not be judging books on their language or violence - I'll leave that up to someone else. Primarily, 80-85% of the time, I'm reading some sort of romance novel (or a paranormal with lots of sex added in), thus a Sex-O-Meter would be the most useful. Inspiration Romances are defined by their religious/spiritual aspects, with no sex and little kissing happening in the books. With that in mind, I think they're more than acceptable for any person in the general population so they're going to be 1's.

Well ok then. We've got one end of the spectrum defined. But what about the other side? It's a lot harder to say whatever I've got in my other hand, that 'THIS' is hardcore. Porn is in and of itself something generally considered to be defined by the individual. Thus, I have to create my own definition of porn- at the very least using 'porn' in such a way that it implies that the sex content is far higher than what would normally be found in most books. Finally, after much discussion, I decided to make the far end of my Sex-O-Meter spectrum this one particular E-book I reviewed in an earlier post, Stalked by Jaid Black. As an Ellora's Cave 'Exotika' title it's pretty much guaranteed to contain a lot of raunch, but I feel this title really exemplifies porn - but not in a derogatory way. 'But how can you call something porn and not be derogatory?' you might ask, but I think it's very possible. Porn doesn't always have to be of the type that pedophiles and perverts use to jack off to in the middle of the night. Porn can be used by many people in a completely healthy, consensually satisfying, way. I'm using the word 'porn' to signify a high sex to plot ratio, because it's a word that's easily associated with sex- graphic sex at that.

And yet, still in this discussion with my roommate, the conversation changes - 'What about the books with those guys who change shape and have sex? I definitely think that's porn'. My reply is that those particular books are a type of KINK, not something that is automatically classified as porn. What a huge 'ah-hah!' moment - I do consider things like that a kink and not porn. Because I've found that what kind of sex and how often that sex happens in a novel has very little to do with what type of creatures the main characters are. The question that comes out of that though, is how far does that extend? Are all types of sex going to be categorized more as someone's kink? Maybe that's why we have the delineation of porn, to refer to a medium that incorporates a particular type of sex, a medium that is meant to include large amounts of graphic reference or images of sex, with no consideration to the type of sex being had. Now that I write this, that definition is probably why anyone is able to use the term porn or pornography in a non-derogatory way. The porn itself is almost innocent of what type of sexual act is being portrayed. Thus, you can have both morally defined 'good' porn and 'bad' porn.

Wow. I just referred to porn as innocent. Go figure. I probably just made some fundamentalist's head explode.

Heat Seeker by Lora Leigh

John Vincent has always led a life of danger, and now he has every reason to want to remain as dead as the obituary in the Australian papers had proclaimed him to be. He’d left nothing behind in the life he had once led—except for one woman, and one night of unforgettable passion. Now, both will return to haunt him…

Bailey Serborne is still tormented by a past she can’t change and a man she hasn’t been able to forget. A man who was supposed to dead.. But now, a stroke of fate has revealed that sometimes, a woman is given a second chance to heal her heart—and exact the sweetest revenge

I really like Lora Leigh, she probably rights the best erotic suspense novels, and this particular story was good - but it was not her best. It might be that I'm kind of done with the whole back from the dead thing. But, I try to say that, yet I like the other ones and they had similar plot lines, because this whole particular series is made up of an Elite Ops team that is run by 'dead' men. I did think the characters were interesting though, with John pretending to be this international negotiator of all things deadly and Bailey leaving behind her life as a CIA agent to put the worst of the worst behind bars. Almost sounds like a movie trailer, doesn't it?

All the really seems to matter in the end is that this probably won't be one of those books I reread a million times. The sex was hot and the violence even hotter (and the twist at the end wasn't too damn bad either)- it just wasn't my favorite of hers. But she has so many that I don't think it makes too much of a difference to the still very high quality that the rest of her books continue to maintain.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. While not the best, it was still fun and definitely worth it to round out the series.

Series - 1) Wild Card 2) Night Hawk 3) Maverick 4) Heat Seeker

Trick of the Light by Rob Thurman

Las Vegas bar owner Trixa Iktomi deals in information. And in a city where unholy creatures roam the neon night, information can mean life or death.

Not that she has anything personal against demons. They can be sexy as hell, and they’re great for getting the latest gossip. But they also steal human souls and thrive on chaos. So occasionally Trixa and her friends have to teach them some manners.

When Trixa learns of a powerful artifact known as the Light of Life, she knows she’s hit the jackpot. Both sides – angel and demon – would give anything for it. But first she has to find it. And as Heaven and Hell ready for an apocalyptic throwdown, Trixa must decide where her true loyalty lies – and what she’s ready to fight for.

Because in her world, if you line up on the wrong side, you pay with more than your life…

Is it bad that I wasn't really surprised to find out that Rob Thurman is a girl? I think it was both something about the way she rights and then also the complete and total lack of information in the back of all the rest of her books that clued me in. Because if she wasn't hiding anything, why wouldn't say a bit more of herself? Whatever, it doesn't make a difference of the quality of her books, I just thought that was an interesting tidbit to share.

Trick of the Light is the first book in Thurman's new series, focusing on a totally new set of characters (mostly) in what seems to be the same world as her Cal Leandros series. I say mostly because one of the supporting characters from the Cal Leandros books makes a cameo in this one, and since the rest of the it does seem to corroborate the same contemporary urban feel, it makes me conclude that the environments are the same. I first have to say that while it was hard for me to let Cal and Niko go, I'm excited the Trixa, Zeke, Griffin & Co might have enough to pull it all together and not make me miss them too much. I wasn't really impressed with the hop scotch approach to finding all the clues to the lead Trixa to the artifact, but I did like the character introductions and explanations along the way. Yes it was a little slow and some things were predictable, but the relationship between Zeke and Griffin is very unique, with each of their pasts playing into their present. BUT let me tell you the most surprising thing - the ending. Where Thurman ends up with this book and what is revealed was very unexpected and I think she does a great job of keeping the curtain closed until the very last scene. I expect good things from the rest of her books, so keep 'em coming!

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. A good beginning to what will hopefully turn out to be another fun series.

Series - 1) Trick of the Light

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dark Slayer by Christine Feehan

Ivory-a rare Carpathian female-has been protected by her brothers for most of her life. But once she frees the mage Razvan from his prison cave, they must flee together, enemies of Carpathian hunters as well as vampires. Ivory senses that Razvan is more than he appears to be, and she vows to go against the entire Carpathian race to help him, risking both their lives in order to save their love.

I don't think I can say enough good things about Christine Feehan. She started out with this great plot and wonderful story line - but I'm not going to lie. After about the 8th book or so, you kind of got the feeling that the series wasn't going anywhere original anymore. But with these last few books she has proven to me that it was no fluke, her rise to prominence, but a clear example of an author with vision. Ivory and Razvan are very moving characters, but with unbelievable stories. They've both endured incredible hardship and yet still manage to find the courage to be with each other. I know that sounds really corny, but this series is really developing an interesting (and new) plot line, with the latest characters being ones readers can really root for.

Overall Feeling - Big thumbs up, a great addition to a (well deserved) highly regarded series.

Series - 1) Dark Prince.........18 additional books later...... 20) Dark Slayer

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why do we all love Patrick Stewart?

While I realize that this particular topic is kind of random, I still feel like it's something that I want to talk about - Why do we all love Patrick Stewart? Men, women, children- why is he considered to be so cool? Why did I care whether I was in the 2nd row or the 42nd when I went to see him? He seems to be this living embodiment of older, stately elegance, one whose popularity transcends all different kinds of acting mediums - TV, big screen, theater, etc. And it's not just the Trekkies that I'm talking about here. Patrick Steward has officially engraved himself on America's heart. But what has done that- is it his accent? Is it perhaps the quiet calm that he seems to exude as easily as walking? Or maybe the stern father figure persona that he uses so adroitly- the wise mentor that through his own trials and tribulations is able to impart impeccable advice? I don't know what it is, but I've got to say that it's incredible to see.

I mean, he's so ingrained in popular cultural as this terrific figure, that when I came back from Dragon*Con and told a friend that after hearing him speak I wanted him to be my grandfather, she replied "You mean instead of your sex toy?" SEX TOY! He might not have been seen as a typical sex icon, especially at the beginning of his Star Trek career, but now he is! As Professor Xavier and through so many other roles, he has an almost George Cloony like image- except, of course, without the playboy reputation.

But what about you? Are you a Patrick Stewart fan? If you are, and are willing to share, do you think of him more in 'fatherly' terms or would you like the chance to get to know Mr. Stewart on a more 'personal' basis?

Morgan Kingsley Series by Jenna Black

I've decided that for this particular series I'm not going to do just one review per book. Instead, highly influenced by the fact that I read all of them again in about a week's span of time, I'm going to do a series review. I thought about trying to do an overarching series description myself, but the truth of the matter is that I'm lazy and I feel like the jacket of the first book does a better than decent job of giving readers the general idea:

Exorcism isn’t a job, it’s a calling—and a curse. Just ask Morgan Kingsley, a woman who has a stronger aura than any demon. Or so she thought. Now, in a pair of black leather pants and a kick-ass tattoo, Morgan is heading back to Philadelphia after a nasty little exorcism—and her life is about to be turned upside down…by the demon that’s gotten inside her.

Not just any demon. Six feet five inches of dark, delicious temptation, this one is to die for—that is, if he doesn’t get Morgan killed first. Because while some humans vilify demons and others idolize them, Morgan’s demon is leading a war of succession no human has ever imagined. For a woman trying to live a life, and hold on to the almost-perfect man, being possessed by a gorgeous rebel demon will mean a wild ride of uninhibited thrills, shocking surprises, and pure, unadulterated terror…

hus the 'wild ride' begins! And I think that phrase is particular apt because of all the types of personalities and lifestyle choices that Jenna Black brings into her series. A prime example of Urban Fantasy, the books are set in a contemporary world that is familiar to all of us, but that has its own tweaks - most shockingly the fact that demons possess people regularly on a volunteer basis, and exorcists are about the only people capable of dealing with illegals who have all the strength of their demons but none of the willingness to conform with society's views on morality. I think it's also a little different for readers to read a book whose heroine has powers but is not omnipotent or gaining more every half second. Yes, you find out that she's slightly different than the average human due to some genetic tampering, but in general what you see is what you get - a somewhat average woman who's trying to deal with fantastical circumstances. She get's hit, she falls down, she has emotional breaks - there's no perfect level of power for her, nothing that let's her defeat all the bad guys.

And then of course there are the demons - possessing humans and becoming some of the best 'humanity' has to offer
. Because of course, endowed with demon strength, they can become the most effective firemen, policemen, etc. that the world has ever seen. The flip side to that is the secret 'perversions' that some of them develop, for having been deprived of physical sensation for centuries some of them become addicted the dichotomy of pain and pleasure. It's an interesting take on the genre - amorphous energy when not possessing anyone, demon's are often drawn to the extremes of feeling experienced by the S&M crowd - with pretty much no preference between men and women.

I guess I would have to say that in general, what surprised me the most, was how forgettable I originally found the series. Only with the release of the latest book was I reminded of these - and even then I couldn't remember enough to read the newest one without going back first. And now of course I can't think of why I didn't like the series more. I enjoyed it quite a bit the second time around and I'm really excited about the next one (of course I have to wait until March 2010).

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. An interesting take on a well loved genre, I definitely recommend them all.

- 1)
The Devil Inside 2) The Devil You Know 3) The Devil's Due 4) Speak of the Devil

Friday, September 18, 2009

I'm BaaaaAAAaack!

Hey Everyone - I'm back! (random side note - why can I not write that without picturing the end of Independence Day? LOL)

After neglecting my inner blogger for quite a while, I'm revving up for a marathon session. Dragon*Con was incredible and while I might not have spent as much actual face to face time with authors this year, I don't regret a single minute of it! Unfortunately I'm stuck at work so I can't post a random assortment of pictures of the ins and outs of that weekend, but let's go through a few highlights, shall we?

Friday, Sept 4 - I think, even though I attended a hilarious panel held by Ensign Harry Kim (Garrett Wang), my favorite event on Friday was going to a live action performance of Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog! I hadn't seen it before going to Dragon*Con (shame) and even though I couldn't hear all the words, being surrounded by all these people who knew every word to every song? Greatness!

Runner up for Friday - I almost forgot to mention the Buffy panel I went to, with Charisma Carpenter and Julie Benz (Cordelia and Darla). A lot of fun, it gave great insight into the characters and the women that made up Joss Whedon's worlds.

Saturday, Sept 5 - Two words - PATRICK STEWART! That's right, Captain Jean-Luc Picard! I don't care how much of a Trekkie this makes me sound, I was center, maybe 5 rows back, from possibly my favorite Star Trek captain! (I say possibly, because I really like Kate Mulgrew - Captain Janeway - as well) Don't pretend you're not jealous!

Sunday, Sept 6 - Sherrilyn Kenyon signing! I got quite a few things signed by her last year actually, but I spent another 3.5 hours in line to get more! It was actually amazing that my friend and I were even able to get in line for this because you needed a wristband - not that they told anyone that. If we hadn't struck up a random conversation with the guy at Sherrilyn Kenyon's booth on Friday we would have had no idea! Well anyway, the universe was looking positively upon us and we were able to get in line.

Monday, Sept 7 - Monday was a slow last day, so I gotta say my favorite part of it was getting fitted for a corset. I know - weird right? But they were beautiful- Lace with steel boning. I didn't end up having enough money to get one that day, but I know my size and eventually one will be mine! If you want to check them out yourself, take a look at Scarlett's Corset.

Ok, to try and keep this post from being too epic I'm going to stop now. But there were other things I might bring up for discussion later - the future of Urban Fantasy, Goth in the Mainstream, Fetish panels - all sorts of adventures (sometimes concerning books, sometimes not) but were always interesting and informative. Plus - pictures!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Where I'll be and something to do while I'm gone!

Hi Readers! You're not going to see many (or any) updates from me in the next week or so because of two big things 1) I'm moving, and 2) I'm going to Dragon*Con! That's right, Dragon*Con- the mecca of all things slightly nerdy and ridiculous that have to do with Science/Fiction and Fantasy. I had the joy of going last year and stalking Laurell K. Hamilton and Tamora Pierce around the Con (and I also got to be in the same room as Kevin Sorbo which you know is cool!) thus I can't wait to go again this year! If you're interested in seeing just some of the pictures that I took, check out one of the Facebook albums I have to commemorate the weekend, here. Also, here's a list of just some of the guests who are attending this year that I hope to see:

Charisma Carpenter
Laura Anne Gilman
Charlaine Harris
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Traci Lords
James Marsters
Kate Mulgrew
Leonard Nimoy
Edward James Olmos
Kat Richardson
Michael Shanks
Kristy Swanson

But this combined with the move is going to make it really difficult to review any of the books that have just come out (though all the driving will definitely give me time to finish a few) so I thought I'd leave you with a poll - what would you want if I were to do a giveaway?

I bring this up just because it seems to be the season for giveaways. Left and right people are giving away makeup, sunless tanner kits, gift cards, everything! Unfortunately I don't have any special hidden backers to help me fund my venture so I thought I'd poll the people who do stop by and see what they think. There are going to be two ways to voice your opinion on this - comment on this post and/or vote in the poll to the side! I really want to hear what you guys think, though I'm hoping to stand strong and not actually hold the giveaway until I get up to 20 or 30 followers....we're going to see. I might be getting ahead of myself. Either way, thanks for stopping by and I hope you let me know what you'd like to see in your mail box!

Love and Luck,