Book Reviews: Erotic-tock

“Wow! Where did you learn to kiss like that?”
“Marine Corps.”

A vampire hunter is captured by his prey, but rather than killing him they turn him into one of them. After finally escaping their torture he goes for revenge. . . then meets his supposed soulmate.
There’s long chapters with the antagonist and his wife, as though trying to humanize him, make him seem like he’s just protecting his family rather than a monster deserving of his fate. From what I gather he was the protagonist of the first in this series, so that’s probably for the new readers like me. For a rich girl Cassie is quite likeable, as is the wife, but the guys were mostly unlikeable; the antihero/deus ex machina was the most interesting, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s featured in the next book.
All in all, an okay fantasy story, erotic in very small does.

His Human Slave
The title says it all: Earth girl is chosen as the perfect mate for the leader of an almost annihilated race. He expects complete obedience, she’s not built for that, so they clash while he teaches her to enjoy the sex and the punishments.
I enjoyed the anthropological aspects of an alien learning to deal with a human female, and having even worse luck than human males. There’s a few instances where I chuckled, “Dude. . .” The shower scene was both erotic and hilarious.
I’ve reviewed enough master/slave stuff to be bored by it, so I concentrate on the story and the characters, both of which are excellent here. Especially pleasing to find an author who knows her craft so well; I can definitely see why Zander fell in love with Lamira.

One Week in Greece
It seems like the new in-thing in erotica is ménages, though oddly enough it’s almost always multiple men with one woman. Wonder if it should be called reverse Mormon.
Businesswoman goes to Mykonos to close a deal on a hotel for her father’s chain, and runs into “the guy” from her past, except he’s now in a homosexual relationship. Turns out they’re both bisexual and they both want her, but make up dumb excuses in their heads to leave her alone, not counting on her own desires.
Early on there’s some inner monologues, and even conversations, that lasted too long, making me want to skip. Thankfully that disappeared as it went on, but all three of them—more so the guys—do way too much thinking. And oddly enough for something listed under erotica rather than romance, there isn’t much sex going on. I would call it a romance—albeit between three people—with some sex rather than a romantic work of erotica.
Once they’ve finally gotten out of their own way, I loved the relationship between the three of them. Unlike most books, I can read about them talking as they take in the sights for as long as they want, because it all sounds so fun. The humor and good cheer carried this story.

The Last Resort
A child bounty hunter—she kidnaps kids that were abducted by parents who didn’t have custody, so she’s a good guy—gets stuck in a snowstorm after her latest mission and, after being crashed into, is rescued by a couple of brothers who are renovating a hotel, along with about twenty construction workers. Love ensues between her and one of the brothers.
She’s an ex-Marine with abandonment issues. Not a typical heroine. (BTW, I was a Marine and I don’t worry about that “always a Marine” nonsense.) He’s never met anyone like her and can’t stay away, which either annoys or concerns his brother—or both. It may be because I just got through watching the series again, but she reminds me of Wynonna Earp: a giggly badass. So of course despite all her issues and quirks I love her. She’s a complex character—maybe a little too complex—so I’m enjoying the game between them, while realizing in real life they’d probably piss each other off so much. Even better, this is one of those rare situations where I actually like the male character too. Not that I usually hate them, I’m just indifferent, concentrating on the female lead. This guy I would like as a buddy.
Obviously if she hadn’t been trapped this story would have never happened, so as a plot device it’s fine. Interesting to think of a baby as a wild card, both drawing them closer and driving them apart. And it has to be said, that little toddler is probably the best character in the entire book!



Poetry Tuesday: Upon Julia’s Clothes

By Robert Herrick, that underappreciated 17th century Brit.

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
The liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration, each way free,
O, how that glittering taketh me!


Travel Thursday Snapshot: We Cannot Romania, We Gotta Go, part 2

The next morning, driving into Deva gave me my first look at Romania, and it was basically like a lot of places I’d seen in Latin America. Plenty of trees on those hills, but one had to wonder how long that would last, if industry and commerce and most of all capitalism blew into this town.
Then I was told Transylvania means “Land Beyond the Forest,” so maybe there was a chance. . .
First things first: find a real place to stay. The best hotel in town—which wasn’t saying much, the elevator was tiny and kept sticking—charged us four dollars—yep, four dollars!—for three nights. Even 25 years ago. . . you just gotta lie back and let that sink in. Yep, it’s true, not lying.
Second order of business: find a local in need of cash who will do my laundry.
Finally in the afternoon—nap time after the train and lumpy overcrowded couch—I got my first glimpse of downtown, and I actually did manage to dig up a couple of old photos taken once the rain stopped. Yes, that’s me posing like someone pretending to be cool in front of a giant sign that said Romania, as well as the guy on the right over the Transilvania sign.

Other adventures included getting a haircut and shave—with a straight razor—getting stopped by a hot blonde in front of a wedding store, and being given a chance to choose the music played at the dance club that night. My selections, awesome as they were, proved to not be popular with the locals, so I had to find another way of entertaining myself those nights.
One way was chatting with one of the few people who knew English, who happened to be a friend of the hot blonde from earlier. The most memorable exchange, apart from finding out how many words in Romanian are the same in Spanish, was when he said he loved the blonde, but platonically.
“But Plato was wrong about everything!”
“This is true.”
“Maybe you love her Socratically.”
The last part that was fun was walking back to the hotel at two in the morning, with my superior night vision. People claimed they didn’t actually believe in vampires. . . but they didn’t walk alone at night either.

Poetry Tuesday: Seventy Years Are Few

By Lu Chih, China, c. 1243-1315.

I think a man’s seventy years are few!
Of his hundred years’ allotted span,
Thirty are lost.
Of his seventy years,
Ten are spent as a foolish child,
Ten are spent completely decrepit.
The fifty left divide into days and nights;
Only half have the light of day.
Wind and rain hasten one another,
The hare runs and the crow flies.
Carefully I ponder it all;
What’s better than
To be happy and at ease?


Book Reviews: This Blog Is Graphic

Sometimes a cigar is just a cancer stick.

A David Beckham-ish soccer star—he’s even moving to the States to continue his career—and his rather shrewish wife, along with their latest baby, crash on a deserted island and have to survive against—gasp!—dinosaurs! And bad humans, with access to a portal. The soccer player’s last name is Sauvage, hence the title; cute.
There’s a brief clip of the present before flashing back to original crash, which is a lot funnier than I would have thought: as the crash occurs and stuff is flying around, including the two adults, there’s a shot of the baby looking all kinds of concerned, and it’s hilarious! Later the kid looks right at the “camera,” also really funny. Not that the rest was bad, but that was such a high point I couldn’t help but feel a little let down after that.
A few complaints, such as all the British-isms, and not familiar ones at that. The way the writer got rid of one of the main characters struck me as abrupt and unnecessary. It’s interesting that while the kid grew up without any schooling or even jungle training, he’s smarter than the other semi-humans on the island. And as always, it’s not the dinosaurs that are the most dangerous.
Not so much a cliffhanger ending as a jump point for his next adventure.
Each issue has author/artist commentary at end; the first has side-by-side versions of the same page showing the first draft, the inked version, and the colored. Interesting in a DVD extra kinda way.
Some vivid colors, maybe even go as far as bright, others muted. At times the artwork was a little too realistic, as in gory, but this is probably the most detailed I’ve ever seen dinosaurs drawn (not that there’s a huge pool to wade through on that). The colorist, in the last interview, says he wanted to make the setting “alarmingly beautiful,” a character in itself, and I think he succeeded.

Kiss: The Elder V.1: World Without Sun
“A world without heroes is like a world without sun.” Nice tag line, and lyric.
In a dystopian future where war has destroyed the surface of the planet, four kids explore where they’re not supposed to and change the course of history (there, got the requisite cliché out of the way).
What sets this apart from most other graphics is how well written it is. You know the government is up to no good when they call the society a “collective.” But once I saw how far in the future this was set, I wondered how the author was going to get KISS to be relevant. That worked out okay, though in the end I realized they didn’t need to be there at all to make the story work, so that was a little disappointing.
There’s some cool touches, like the Sphinx wearing sunglasses; just imagine how big those things must be. The “educational” (brainwashing) videos for the citizens remind me of the FedNet from Starship Troopers. Adi was my fave of the four main characters; the way she uses her butt to open the secret door is awesome. And most of all the dystopian story and setting were well made.
A couple of nitpicks, though. The robot battle was too confusing, couldn’t tell which side was which. And there’s an oopsie medical-wise; one of the characters sprains an ankle but is running fine a little later.
The artwork was okay in the old underground city, but once the story gets to the forbidden levels it really takes off. Much brighter in the garden, for example.
Bonus starts at 116 of 154, with the first two pages being congratulatory notes from two members of KISS. After that comes the expected early designs and alternate covers.
If only they could have worked Detroit Rock City into it. . .

Battlestar Galactica: Folly of the Gods
Original Galactica, not “reimagined,” so don’t whine about getting the wrong one.
Adama’s injured getting the fleet through a black hole, and his concussed mind has him thinking about Baltar and reliving the past. In the real world the Cylons are still following the fleet until they encounter the last enemy you would expect, and then Baltar shows up for realsies; this guy’s like a thousand bad pennies! In fact, the writers brought absolutely everyone they could think of back for this. . . except Athena!
Not happy with the deus ex machina that ends it. In fact, the story wasn’t much good from plenty of perspectives. There’s a lot of borrowing from other places; there’s even some Borg overtones in these new Cylons. For someone who was a huge fan of the original series, and who’d enjoyed previous graphics, this is really disappointing.
The artwork is watercolor-y, but the humans are drawn very strangely; it’s them in the general sense, like you might recognize someone at a distance, but in the close-ups it doesn’t look anything like the actors. Apollo in particular looks horrible. Oddly enough, Iblis is the one who looks most lifelike.
About a dozen pages of variant covers.

Betty Boop
She’s listed as “The most famous female cartoon star of all!” and I don’t know if I can argue with that.
Betty is a waitress and wannabe star trying to keep her grampy from losing his house, but not doing a good job of it; perhaps grampy shouldn’t waste all his time and money buying tiny jet engines to put on turtles. Despite there being numerous stories, they all have that same plot: bad spirits want the house.
The first thing you see is the cover art, and it looks kinda surreal: her pose, her clothes. . . the fact that’s a clown behind her. . .
An orchestra made of bones seems like a good idea. Not so great when a little dog has a crush on you. The double-headed blonde is creepy. There’s a shot from behind that shows just how little Betty’s dress is, but later we see she looks better in her winter skating gear. So does Sally, for that matter.
Some fun lines:
“Ain’t that a kick in the head?”
“Mephistopheles Metamorphosis!”
“Every member of the clown’s guild is required to carry a crowbar with them at all times.”
Best moment: the clown making the nightclub owner literally smile is awesome.
20 pages of extra stuff. Mostly alternate covers, with a sketch of her on a rolling log, for some reason.


Travel Thursday Snapshot: We Cannot Romania, We Gotta Go, part 1

Having a few days before I had to be in Munich but getting a little weary of Prague, I hopped on a train to Budapest, where I always knew where to go for fun, only to sit next to a guy who I took for American—totally no accent—only to have him be Norwegian. He was going to visit his girlfriend in Deva, the capital of Transylvania, as well as invest in a nightclub, and since at that point I’d never been to Romania, I figured why not and joined him on the train that would go across Hungary.
One of my main reasons for going, besides hopefully meeting some Olympic gymnasts in their training town, was the two books I had in my backpack. I’d taken many books on the trip and bought even more—sent a whole box back home I’d bought in Germany and Netherlands—which I kept in my big backpack, but I would always have a couple in my go bag, and in this case they were Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Interview With a Vampire. If that wasn’t a sign to go to Transylvania. . .
And they were needed, as eastern Hungary has some of the most boring landscape Nature ever created: a solid hundred miles of nothing but wheat fields. Kansas has nothing on this. The only exciting thing was at the border, where I was extorted $31 for a visa. It only got better—so to speak—when darkness fell, but the train was so slow we didn’t get into town until after two in the morning, and that’s only because I asked someone where we were. Bugsy—yep, that was his name, said so on the passport—was fast asleep and had about two seconds to gather his gear. By the time we got to the door the train was in motion and, big backpack strapped on, I jumped off and tried to land on two feet, which was a stupid thing to do for someone who was a big fan of inertia. Luckily the backpack stopped me before too long, but Bugsy took much harder and numerous shots from the cement.
So then I had to grumpily sit on my backpack while he called his local contacts, only to find no one could pick us up. Luckily there was one guy—a barber or baker or something—who made extra money by meeting the trains to see if anyone needed a taxi, so only an hour later–after two stops to pour water in the radiator–I was sitting at a table in a small dining room in a small house, snacking on potatoes and who knows what else while politely fending off glasses of the local moonshine. Soon after that I was catching some shuteye on a couch next to a stranger, wondering why I wasn’t in Budapest with a beautiful girl I’d met on a previous trip. . .
Finally excitement happened the next day. . . which you can read about next week.