Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Harlequin--chapter two-three

Anita calls Guilty Pleasures, only to find out that Jean Claude is on stage. She decides to listen in...which means we get to watch Jean Claude make out with a random customer. He compliments her on listening in on a feeding without getting Anita's own ardeur up and kicking.

The whole "Jean Claude feeds on his customers without their consent" thing still squicks me out. HE RAPES EVERYBODY WHO GOES INTO HIS CLUBS.

Anyhoo, he tells Anita he needs to feed off a few more, and then they can talk. Anita then thinks VERY HARD about the legal notice that Jean Claude has to put up outside his club, saying that basically if you set foot inside you've given him permission to do whatever to you, which is about as much informed consent as a con artist's pitch is full disclosure. It does not say "I'm going to feed on your sexual energy and leave you panting and craving my presence" and that means it's not saying enough.

  • You couldn’t use vamp powers to get sex.

Jean Claude finally calls her and tells her that he's aware Something is going on but he can't talk about it because it's vampire council-y...stuff. Anita realizes that Malcolm is 100 right, somebody IS framing his vamps and trying to get Anita and the other executioners to clean up so they don't have to.  Anita pushes for more info and Jean Claude tells her to butt out, pushing on the issue could get her killed.

Anita continues to push. Jean Claude tells her not to come over for a while, because she could push her way into his dreams and find out what the fuck is going on, and that would be a Very Bad Thing. Anita points out that with the warrents she's getting, she has to follow through otherwise she loses some of her privelges as a marshal. Jean Claude is basically "So what? You can usually manage to save these people" and brings up "our" Avery, which is a dude she saved a couple books ago that she refuses to sleep with because LKH can't think of a better plot than "Dude Courts Anita"

Also: It's Nate that Anita's going out with tonight, and Jean Claude wants it to go well because it's an anniversary celebration and if Anita will celebrate with Nate, that means it's open season and she has to celebrate with everybody.

“Spoken from the man who most often dresses me in fetish wear.”

I love how it's romantic that Jean Claude treats Anita like a fucking doll. End of chapter.


Is there a reason female protagonists can't just be fucking happy in their relationships? You know, let the relationship be a source of fluffies and not conflict?

Nathanial wears a fedora. That's kind of priceless. Also, we get the usual "Ain't he pretty" routine, and apparently Nate can stuff his ankle length hair under his hat.

I have trouble stuffing back length hair under a hat. I call bullshit. And oh thank GOD LKH is listening to somebody about the bullshit character smells:

Sweet, clean, and underneath that the smell of vanilla. I knew now that it was only partially him, that some of that sweet scent was bath products and cologne, but the scent he wore didn’t smell so lusciously of vanilla on anyone else’s skin. One of those tricks of skin chemistry that changes the scent of the really good perfumes.

Nate smelling like vanilla has been the dumbest thing in the book, second only to his fucking hair. Now it's in the open: he's wearing vanilla-scented body spray. It's a small thing, but I'm kind of liking it. That, and the fact that we've made it through three chapters with only one make-out session, which did not involve Anita.

Anita decides her sudden attraction to Nate is somebody messing with her, so she stuffs a cross down her shirt and tells him that Unspecified Bad Guys are in town, and they need to be careful. They head off to the movie. End of chapter.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Harlequin--chapter One

Onward ho, then.

...this intro is boring. Malcom, the pastor for the Church of Eternal Life, is in Anita's office. Big freaking whoop. She's the main squeeze for the biggest power in St. Louis. Of course he's going to start paying homage eventually.

Anita has an inoffensive coffee cup, a red sweater and a new gun. I don't know enough about guns to know what the difference between a Browning and a Sig Saur is, let alone a Hi-Power and a Dual Mode. Also, Malcom isn't all that handsome. However:

That same personality that made his Sunday morning television program such a hit.
That sentence all by its lonesome tells you Malcom is a POWER in the vamp world. How do we know this? It was a big deal that Jean Claude's folks were up and about at noon. Malcom is powerful enough to have a Sunday MORNING TV program. Vampires don't resist the pull of the sun, if I remember right. They just fucking die when the sun rises, and then wake back up whenever their powers overcome the sunlight. I got the impression that EVEN JEAN CLAUDE was having difficulty with pre-noon events until he got his power up during Danse Macabre. It takes YEARS to pull off a Sunday Morning TV slot, and the timeline on these books is really tight. A month between books, maximum. Malcom has been showing up Jean Claude in the wake-up call department for a very, VERY long time.

I've always liked Malcom as a (fucking wasted) concept. The Church that is exactly what it says on the tin: Eternal Life. As long as Earth never self-destructs and it's still legal to be a vamp and you keep your nose clean, you're alive.

That would really suck after a while. Seriously, people aren't made to live forever.

Malcom tells Anita that she's going to get a death warrent for one of his members. Anita actually has two, so she decides to play "Whose dick is bigger" with Mal for a while.

I swear to God, two pages in and it's a dick measuring contest. Anita brings up that Mal doesn't blood-oath his membership, which apparently means they can do whatever, whenever, and don't have to worry about consequences. On the other hand, it means they have free will and can tell the guy in charge to go get fucked if, for example, they order the membership to go line up for blood apple duty. Let's see, the freedom to murder everybody verses the freedom to tell somebody no, they won't fuck you today.

Don't you just love LKH's moral conundrums?

God. Please. Fucking PLEASE come up with a word other than "sweetie" for your fuck-buddies, Anita. It's cloying, old fashioned and it really doesn't fit the personality of somebody who 1. was a virgin for most of her adult life 2. has about six different guys currently on retainer and 3. Is supposed to be twenty-seven sometime in the mid-ninties (This is a guess. Please do not make me unravel the Anita Blake Timeline. I don't think it can be done).

 Their choice, if they understand that it is a choice, but no blood oath means that they are not mystically tied to anyone but the vamp that made them. You, I’m told, do the deed, most of the time.
...so Mal can order the vampires to do whatever? What's the big deal, then? I mean, you basically just said that these idiots aren't a threat to JC because they're cut off from a lot of potential power, and Malcom can order them to drop and give him twenty any time he wants. I mean, unless you're going to, IDK, forget huge chunks of your own mythology, Malcom having pet vampires who aren't oathed to Jean Claude shouldn't be that big of a deal.

Anita Blake then argues that vampires having free will is a bad thing.

This is the heroine of the novel, people. THE HEROINE OF THE NOVEL IS SAYING FREE WILL IS BAD.

 Anita then passes along that Jean Claude gave Mal and his people an ultimatum: either he blood oaths them, or Jean Claude does. Or they move and blood oath someplace else. Malcom shrugs.

Anita reminds us all that she got grandfathered into being a Federal Marshal because she killed vampires for a really long time, and she could pass a basic gun course. This alternate United States Government isn't filling me with confidence.

“You were trying to take away one of my people to be killed with no trial. You shot him to death on the church grounds.”

Mal has a good point. That's a huge civil rights issue, and of course it's a no-go because having to provide a vampire with a trial would give Anita fewer bad-ass scenes where she just whips out her fifty-cal and goes to town. Of course, the contrast between vampires and every other discriminated group ever is a really shitty one to make given that vampires feed off people like leeches or cancer and that's exactly the accusation made against most marginalized people.

“That’s true, but no human can mesmerize other humans so that they help in their own kidnappings. Humans can’t fly off with their victims in their arms.”
Stockholm syndrome. The Girl in the Box. Freaking Waco and Jonestown. YES THEY FUCKING CAN. Also, maybe we can't fly off with victims, but we can certainly stuff them in a van, which has happened, or a basement, or a plywood box. It is frighteningly easy to manipulate another human being into becoming a victim, and it is equally easy to make another human being disappear. Maybe a vampire wouldn't have to work quite so hard to get away with it, but vampires aren't alone in the "killing people" business.

Malcom tries to convince Anita that she's got the wrong vampire, and that somebody else ate the victim. Anita blows him off a few times, and then he pulls out the boogeyman card: something really big and powerful visited his church and he's got no idea what it was, but it was around the time of the murder.

I would not buy that if I were Anita, but she finally starts listening.

I thought about it. Malcolm was no Master of the City, but he was probably one of the top five most powerful vampires in town. He’d be higher, if he weren’t so terribly moral. It limited him in some ways.
It's been four books, and I still do not understand Laurell's grudge against conventional morality. I'd get it if it were because it discriminates against a lot of people, but it's not. It's like "OOOOH YOU HATE MURDER AND STEALING AND RAPE. YOU'RE A STUPID PRUDE", and that's kind of how serial killers think.

 Oh, and both the warrents of execution are on women vamps. Because we can't start that sexism early enough, I guess.

 And then we have a guessing game where Malcom tries to name Anita's date and/or sex partner tonight and Anita just says "nope" to all the names.

PLEASE tell me we're going to have more action than sex this time. Seriously, a fifty-fifty cut would be nice. Please. PLEASE.

...at least make most of the sex consensual. Or at least not life-destroying. Please.

“Very well; your sin is lust, Ms. Blake, as it is the sin of your master and all his vampires.”
BWWAHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA please tell me you did not think anybody would take that line seriously. ANITA SPENT SEVENTY PERCENT OF THE LAST BOOK HAVING SEX, and I think that's a low-ball estimate. Oh, did I say sex? I'm sorry, I meant RAPING PEOPLE. Also having emotional breakdowns where she tried frantically to get away from abuse, only to be manipulated back into the five or six abusive relationships she's got running at the moment. If we narrowed the sexscapades down to consensual sex, I'd say that we spent maybe twenty percent of the last book on that.

So no. Anita's sin isn't lust. It's not wrath either. Anita doesn't spend any more time being angry than she does being lustful. If you made me pin a "sin" on her, I'd say Gluttony was her biggest issue, given that sex is her food.

“I’m Christian, too, Malcolm.” 
“Do you worry about getting into heaven, Ms. Blake?”
 It was such an odd question that I answered it. “I did, for a while, but my faith still makes my cross glow. My prayers still have the power to chase the evil things away. God hasn’t forsaken me; it’s just that all the right-wing fundamentalist Christians want to believe he has. I’ve seen evil, Malcolm, real evil, and you aren’t that.”
Yeah. The cross glowing thing bothers me. As I've established before, I believe that God mostly honors those who honor Him, and Anita doesn't do shit to maintain a "Good Christian Relationship" with her Higher Power...but she does go out of her way to criticize other people who follow the same path, mostly because Anita Has To Be The Best At Everything. I would gladly give Anita this point if the Cross glowed for everybody, because the alternative is that God is honoring the kind of faith that only goes to Him when it gets something. And God doesn't have the greatest history honoring that nonsense.

In other words, if God hasn't forsaken Anita, those Fundies, and most of the rest of the faith, should have His protection too. And sadly, that's not the case in the Anitaverse.

Malcom asks Anita if she knows any preists that would be willing to give him absolution.

“I am still a believer, Ms. Blake; being a vampire has not changed that. I wish to die absolved of my sins.”
Oh Jesus. How can an author look at that and pass it up in favor of unsexy sex scenes? THIS IS THE STORY I COME HERE TO READ, LAUREL. WRITE THIS STORY PLEASE. I would read the story of a Christian vampire desperate for forgiveness. I would read the shit out of that story.

The chapter ends with Malcom leaving the office being morose, and Anita deciding that Bad Shit is coming down the tubes.

Ten bucks says the bad shit ends in sex.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

State of the CW

Got back from visiting family. Which was...interesting to say the least.

We'll be doing the Harliquen. Mostly because I'm too lazy to research another series ATM. I think, however, that'll be the last Anita book I can handle for a while.

In other news...book is going well and should be out on time. Ish. I'll get back to you on the ish part.

Take care, my lovelies, and let's all enjoy the last days of 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Danse Macabre chapter 54-55

Chapter fifty four opens with Anita and Asher backtracking on every single thing they said in the previous chapter.

I swear to God. I've heard people talk about books being unreadable and I've always been kinda like "HUH?" I mean, Eye of Argon, that's unreadable. I could muscle my way through all of Fifty Shades, which sadly now looks like Hunger Games plot wise. Twilight. Everybody called them "unreadable" and I was like "Well, it's bad, but you read the damn thing."

This book. This book is unreadable. Rape aside, not one thing has advanced, not one character has developed one iota. The only crisis that resolved itself is one that never existed in the first place and I swear to fucking god if there is one more sex scene after this one I'm going to go insane.

Wet and tight rears its ugly head. Given that she hasn't had a shower since the limo, apparently Asher doesn't really mind seconds. Asher demands to do Anita doggy-style. They do. And...

chapter fifty-five

Anita wakes up in the hospital. The therianthrope hospital. Dr. Lillian gave Anita a transfusion and risked giving her yet another strain of lycanthropy. Yippee.

Asher is, of course, at her bedside wringing his hands and looking worried. And now once again he's all ANGST and YOU DON'T REALLY LOVE ME and Anita gets to ANGST to his ANGST and this got old about four books ago.

He also reveals that he's got a Heyena as his Animal to Call. Cool.

Anita summarizes everything that happened in this book. Unlike the usual hand-wave of loose plot threads, this...basically just retreds the entire book. It ends with this.

I’m happy behind my black wrought-iron fence. The one with the pointy spikes on top. White never really was my color.

Wow. Aren't you edgy.

And that is the end of the book.

Alright, guys. I am open to suggestions for whatever happens next. I'm also going to go curl back up in bed with cold medicine. I am ALMOST over this shit, but now we're down to the annoying bits.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 53

I WAS IN Jean-Claude’s office at Danse Macabre. It was black-and-white elegant, with framed kimonos and fans on the walls as the only color. I sat behind his elegant black desk, with a drawer open. I had an extra gun in that drawer. I’d loaded it with silver shot while we waited. Asher sat beside me, in a chair pulled up so he could be close enough to touch me.
I want to point how many times, in the early books, Anita is facing someone arrayed exactly like this. That one lone good guy against a sea of bad. Well, now Anita is standing up there as the sea of bad's right hand woman, and she doesn't seem to notice. A lot of people have pointed out that Old Anita would kill New Anita without hesitation, and I'd say that's a pretty good judgement call. And it's not the sex. Frankly, the sex scenes themselves just annoy me because where the fuck is the plot. It's the rape. And the fights that end with either death or a Fate Worse Than Death. And the rape. And probably more of the rape. Old!Anita wasn't telling the bad guys to get stuffed to prove she was the baddest cat in the house. She was telling them off because you don't do that shit to people. She supported Richard over Marcus because Marcus and Rania were making torture snuff films. She blew Rawhead and Bloody Bones away because it was killing children. She killed the blinking Aztec vampire away because Jesus fucking Christ was that fucked up. It wasn't because they were endangering her and her people. It was because what they were doing was wrong.

She raped her way through this entire book and now she's sitting next to a dude that basically rapes his entire customer base every time they set foot in his clubs.

Just thought I'd point that out.

Jean Claude is out playing with the media while Anita questions Merlin. RIGHT.

He was tall, dark, and handsome. He was not European. No, something darker, farther east, as in Middle East. There was something very Egyptian about him, or maybe Babylonian, because he was old.
HE WAS MIDDLE EASTERN. Identify the fucking race for once.

Merlin says he rolled the whole audience to...wait. If Merlin is Middle Eastern, why is he using a name from British mythology? I mean, unless Merlin is, like, the Merlin (or trying to claim that he is that Merlin) wouldn't it make more since for Merlin to use a name from his own neighborhood's mythology? It's kind of like how when you curse, you usually do so in your native tongue? If you're gonna assume a big and scary sounding name, you're gonna go for your own nightmares, not mine.

Anyhoo, Merlin rolled the whole audience, and not just the humans, because he didn't want half the audience to miss out on the show. Yeah, because Ballet is all about the slight of hand and the flashy gimmicks. That's why ballerinas learn how to keep their blisters from oozing through to the silk.

Asher then tells Merlin that's a direct challenge to every Master in the audience, and Merlin is like "So? You're only here because you sleep with the boss." and the conversation goes downhill VERY quickly after that. Anita decides she has to prove her dick is bigger than theirs and she pulls a gun on the room. Nobody's actually doing anything, but nope, we gotta pull a gun out.

Merlin and (gag) Adonis roll their eyes and go with it, probably because it's the thing standing between them and dinner.

Anita accuses Merlin of dropping his mind control act because it got the MOAD's attention and scared him shitless. (...so THAT'S what happened. Okay) and he kind of goes "Who?" and Anita describes the MOAD's bedroom because this proves something. I guess.

Anita says that the MOAD is both a shapeshifter and a vampire. Merlin says that's impossible and...holy shit.

“The strain of vampirism that we have today is destroyed by the lycanthropy virus,

Wait. Wait wait wait wait wait. I thought it worked kind of like giving somebody cowpox so they can't catch smallpox. That's not "You can't have both at once", that's THIS ONE KILLS THE OTHER ONE and that's an entirely different kettle of fish. Why aren't vampires with weres-to-call dead? Seriously. If vampirism--the thing keeping vampires alive--is destroyed by were-whatever viruses, then shouldn't vampires drop dead every time they get bitten? That's a pretty big rule-realignment to be throwing around like that.

Are we ever going to see the implications? No?

GOD I hate this book.

They debate for a minute if Belle Morte could be waking up the MOAD's pets, but Anita says no and I guess that means the answer is no. Okay.

I nodded. “Yeah, you guys filled me in on the limo ride here.
Gee, Laurel, Maybe if you'd cut one of the endless fucking rape scenes in this book we actually could have watched that!

Merlin starts testing all the other people in the room, I guess because he's really bored.

I blinked in his direction. “Are you saying you’re the Merlin, as in King Arthur and the Round Table?”
Called it.

So Merlin says that he did the power trip at the ballet to see if the MOAD were interested in anybody there, and apparently Anita's it because Mary Sue Power List Activate. They discuss the MOAD's methods for several pages, and then he makes sympathetic noises over Anita's brand new scar.  Yeah, it's already healed. Aren't we glad it happened in the first place? Didn't it impact the plot in such a beautiful way?

“I’ve come up against demons. Vampirism is a contagion, not a demonic anything. It’s a blood-borne disease. A doctor back in the 1900s sort of figured out how to cure it. You don’t cure demonic possession with a blood transfusion.” “Cured it?” Merlin said. “With a blood transfusion, truly?” “Well, yeah, but the vampirism is what keeps the dead body up and running, so you take the vampirism out of the blood, and the body dies.”


The conversation continues until Damian says he needs to feed and leaves the room. Merlin and his people follow, leaving Anita, Asher and Nate in the room.

This chapter is not ending. This chapter needs to end soon.

Anita decides she needs to feed on Asher. Asher decides he needs to whinge about how NOBODY UNDERSTANDS MEEEEEEEE because Anita is taking him for granted (She kind of is, though...) and nobody loves him right and he's so ugly and scarred...

I grinned. “Not perfect; handsome, but not perfect. Requiem’s too damn moody by half. London, I’m a little embarrassed about him.” “Why embarrassed?” “Not sure, maybe because I’m not sure I even like him, and I had sex with him.”

So then Anita and Asher start making out on the furniture because they both need to feed and NOW he's accepted that she loves him and he loves her and of course it's gonna be forgotten by the next book. Also, we're 96% done with this book and there is no climax in sight, other than Anita's. HELP.

The chapter ends with Anita demanding Asher make her "Come both ways."

...but at least it's consensual. And a little on the sexy side.

State of the CW

Yeah, so on Thursday I had a fever of 102.6 F. (39.2C). I also began coughing up chunks of stuff that didn't seem to be compatable with, you know, breathing. It is now  five days later, I have no fever, my lungs no longer crackle like a bowlful of rice chrispies and I can actually sit up long enough to type something.

I have not been this sick in years.

But the good news is today I have energy. I feel like eating is a good idea and not a chore, and that probably means I'm on the mend.

The bad news? I gave everybody else in my household the same fucking crud.

Merry fucking Christmas.

As for the book, I'm gonna see how much I can scrape out between now and the end of the year, and it should be out Januarary first, or thereabouts. Sound good? Sounds good.

I'm going to go eat an orange now.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Danse Macabre chapter 52

Sorry for the spotty updates, guys. I've been fighting some INCREDIBLY nasty crud the last couple days and have been more concerned about the things going into (and coming out of) my lungs than I have been about the blog.

I'm better today. Or at least I was before I read LKH's attempt at writing a ballet.

This is what I've been dreading this entire book. And oh my fucking GOD does it hurt.

Anita goes back to the ballet. LKH tries really hard to make us be impressed with her description of vampire ballet, but contemporary ballet is more about watching people do awesome things with their bodies while telling a provocative story and not...sigh...this shit.

The air sparkled with glitter. Out of that scintillating cloud a vampire floated. It was Adonis, the vamp who had almost rolled me with his gaze earlier. His costume had changed to a ballet version of 1700s dress, which meant: fairly accurate from the waist up, and tights from the waist down. I’d seen vampires fly before, but not like this. He hung in the air as if he could have hung there forever. Other vampires appeared out of the glitter, hanging in the air as if they’d been pinned there. Adonis hovered just outside our box, so close I could see his blond curls moving in the wind. What wind? The wind of his own magic.
That's the tamest fucking thing I've ever read about. That's the Cirque du Soleis meets David Copperfeild on a required G rating night.

That's the Rite of Spring. When it was released it caused fucking riots in the theater. In 1913. This version's been updated a little bit, but it's still disturbing as fuck. And again: That's what LKH is trying to upshow with foofy shirts and glitter. It ain't working. Now, if (gag) Adonis up there were doing arabesques or the 32 fouetee turns from swan lake...you know, this?

Yeah. We might be talking something impressive.

My point is that ballet is an incredible, physically demanding sport that utterly, totally and completely destroys everyone who participates in it. It destroys your feet, your body, and if you're female, large chunks of your soul because you'll probably walk away with some kind of eating disorder. AND YOU KNOW THIS GOING IN. I would LOVE to see a vampire version of Rite of Spring or Swan Lake or even Peter and the Wolf (...actually that would be really fucking sexy, given the context). Or even something new and even more disturbing. And again, given LKH's hard on for french terms you'd think we'd get a few of the actual movements in the text. But nope. It's non existant wind, glitter, and accurate french costuming over tights, which is something ballet threw out about the time the french disposed of its monarchy. This ought to be something violent and controversial--for fuck's sake, human ballet companies have managed to incite fucking riots--and instead we get fucking Fabio lounging on a glitter cloud.

The glitter had fallen down, so that the vampires were revealed in all their grace. They danced in the air. They held their places, and danced. Damian leaned in and whispered, “Do you have any idea how much strength it takes to do what they’re doing?”
No. No I don't have any idea how strong they have to be because I DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. This is vague to the point of pure fluff. DID YOU NOT RESEARCH ONE THING ON BALLET LAURELL? THERE ARE BOOKS. THERE ARE GLOSSERIES.

Apparently it takes a lot of energy for a vampire to resist the call of gravity. I am not impressed, given that dancing until you split your own toenails is considered a good dress rehearsal in ballet circles. Broken toes? That's opening night.

A woman stepped on stage, dressed in one of those long white gossamer dresses.
No. You don't do pointe work in fucking Ophila's dressing gown. I am sorry. NOBODY, not even a vampire, would risk stepping on the hem and taking a header into the first chair violinist during the pas de deux. You're talking about a gauze skirt that ends at the calves. I would not call that a "long white gossamer dress".

I would have said the dress floated around her as she tiptoed on stage,

 bourree. The word you are desperately, desperately needing here is bourree. What the fucking blue motherhumping fucking FUCK are you doing describing a basic movement in pointe work as motherfucking "tiptoe". THAT IS NOT WHAT THAT IS. 

I suspect, dear readers, that not only did LKH do approximately ZERO research into ballet before writing this abortion of a dance sequence, she has never fucking SEEN a ballet before. Maybe she saw a black and white recording of somebody jumping rope while En Pointe (which would be utterly fucking stupid and incredibly dangerous) but there is no way in fuck you would describe a bourree entrance as fucking "tiptoe". 

And of course, she's playing the fucking human and of course, the pretty glittery vampires above are going to kill and eat her on stage, because it's the only way LKH can think to be fucking edgy.

She went up on her toe shoes, as the girl did.

Sometimes the ballet leaves me confused, but there was no confusion here.
No fucking shit. But you know what, Laurell? That's why ballet companies print the plot of the ballet in the fliers they hand out to ticket holders. So either you gate crashed whatever you went to see, or really can't stand to read anyone else's writing except your own. I could follow fucking ballet when I was ten, mostly because hello, I could fucking read. 

 Once you’ve seen someone fly, what’s a little grand jeté?
Congratulations.  You managed to find one ballet term to use in this climactic scene about ballet. Did you leave it under the couch? I bet you did.

Also, this brings up a good point: This company has an incredibly shitty choreographer. They should have saved the flying vampires for the climax, and focused on proving that the company could be fucking unsettling and scary and also GOOD in purely human limitations before they moved on to the vampire stunts. 

So the vampires chase the designated victim--who is also a vampire--around the stage for a while.

They danced, and showed that they could do traditional ballet.
Really? Cause one, I haven't seen that and two, the nearest you came to using a proper ballet term, you used it to shit on real ballet. You can't just say this shit and expect us to believe it when you have done exactly shit all to sell us on the concept. 

The saddest thing is, I can totally visualize what LKH was going for, and with the right (IE non traditional) music, the right staging, and good choreography, this would actually have been fucking chilling to watch. But between LKH's utter allergy to research (she must get need an epi pen every time she gets near an encyclopedia.) and the fact that, hello, BALLET IS NOT A WRITTEN MEDIUM, everything about this just fucking fails. The beauty of ballet is seeing a very tallented prima ballerina do an intoxicating arabesque and tracing the muscles of her inner thigh through her tights. And there's nothing sexual about that statement (Unless you're turned on by that). You will never see anatomy the way it's displayed at the ballet. And the key word here? It's seeing. Writing about ballet is like carrying water from Niagra Falls home in a bucket. It doesn't have the same impact.

They danced, and showed that they could do traditional ballet. Then the music changed. The couples gave themselves more room, and they began to do dancing that would have looked more at home on the stage at Guilty Pleasures than at the ballet. It was still beautiful, graceful, predatory, but it was also very sexual. Nothing that would get you arrested, but as they had been able to convey menace, pity, and derision, with a gesture and a look, now they conveyed sex.
She couldn't make it through an entire chapter without making it about sex. Also, I like the implication that traditional choreography can't convey sex. I mean, it's not like it's just a bunch of men and women in skintight leotards and tights rubbing bodies for hours on end.


The vampires kill the designated victim with lots and lots of fake blood. The audience gasps. The Designated Victim's vampire lover comes on stage and sees that his love is dead, and decides to fight with the head vampire. So this is basically something between Giselle and Romeo and Juliet. Both of which are older than fuck. LKH really thinks she's describing an edgy ballet? REALLY?

...I have to say the idea of a vampire company dancing Giselle would be tight as fuck. Can you imagine what the Willis would look like? 

The ballet ends with humans "killing" the dead girl's vampire lover and taking her body off, and this is seriously so incredibly tame for ballet. I think motherfucking Coppelia has edgier moments than this, given that a central point in the plot is stealing an innocent man's soul. It ends with a standing ovation, curtain calls and this:

You don’t hear screaming much at the ballet, but you heard it now.
Oh for fuck's sake Laurell, you're going to the wrong ballets. Tame plot, bad choreography, gimmicks instead of actual dancing? PfffhhhhHAHAHAHAHA. Did ya'll note that halfway through the 32 turns video, the audience erupted into applause and screaming? Ballet fans get into their ballets.

 The chapter ends with Anita wondering how they're going to survive the after party for the cast.

...That's actually a good question, given that opening night after parties are usually booze-fueled angst fests with high strung personalities while everyone waits for the reviews to hit the morning papers. But of course it's going to be a fucking dick measuring contest because NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANITA, including the dancer's careers. 

Oh, and traditional ballet and traditional music can't convey sex? 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 50-51

For somebody who claims to love sex as much as she does, LKH sure has a strong aversion to using the word penis.

HE HELD ON to the door to raise himself above me, so that only the long, hard length of him touched me at first.
That long hardness? That's probably an elbow. Maybe a knee. It's not real clear is what I'm trying to say. Also: It's a g-spot. Not just "that" spot. You're a fifty fucking year old woman, you can use the commonly accepted terms for genitalia.

In the dimness of the car I couldn’t see that he was wearing the condom that Nathaniel had given him.
Thank you. Thank you for letting me know all the things that we can't see. Also: thank you GOD for FINALLY giving Anita the same approximate wattage as a twinkle light. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE HAVE ESTABLISHED SAFE SEX. And for the record, I don't think Anita as a woman is stupid, because Anita is not real. Anita's character is so poorly written and her choices make so little sense that for her to be real, she'd have to have a room temperature IQ.

...guys, are simultaneous orgasms that important? Cause this chapter is making a very VERY big deal about the guys holding off until everybody involved is ready to...erm...go. It's not that big a deal in this scene, but...well...

Requiem isn't enough for Anita. So Jason and Nathanial move in. They decide the very best thing they could do to power Anita up is have one guy take her doggy-style while she gives the other man a blow-job. At first Jason is going to be the dog on the street, so to speak, but then they decide to switch so that Jason can find out how Anita gives awesome head.

...only it kind of reads like LKH forgot who was in which place between when she ended chapter 50 and started chapter 51. There's an "Oh yeah, we decided to switch because..." sentence but it's comparatively deep in the book.

To suck, lick, and writhe my mouth, my tongue, and ever so lightly my teeth, around the smooth muscled length of him.

I actually had to go look that up to make sure there are muscles in the penis. There are. However, a penis is still not the first thing I think of when I think "muscles". Though now I'm imagining a dick with really great abs...

So they go at it for a couple paragraphs and Nathanial is all like "U there yet, bro?" And Jason is all like "I will be soon" so they increase their...erm...pace and somehow Anita's orgasm, which nobody checked on, happens the same time as the guy's. And I don't get why this is a big deal, but hey, it's just me.

Also: LKH should not use "Spilled" or "Drink" when her main character is giving blow jobs.

Maybe the feeding would last longer if I fed on men who weren’t tied to us metaphysically, but I didn’t love anyone who wasn’t tied to us. So I had to feed more often, so what?

Jesus Christ. Most of Anita's ardeur problems can, according to these books, be solved by eating a fucking hamburger. She is electing to starve her physical body because the sex is more fun, to the point of endangering other people's lives. When your eating disorder puts somebody else's life in danger, you graduate from Anorexia and hit Drunk Driving 101. AND OUR HEROINE IS JUST LITERALLY SAYING THAT THIS DOES NOT MATTER AS LONG AS SHE LOVES THE PERSON SHE FUCKS.


“I hate football, let’s just keep fucking,” Jason said.
Okay. That exchange legit made me giggle. Jason is cool. He and Ronnie can go run to Alaska and be cool together.

And then we go right straight back into ick territory.

“Her name is Perdita. Perdy.” He stuffed the towelettes into an empty garbage bag, apparently there for the purpose. “Jean-Claude wanted to know some of what you could expect when you fuck Sampson.”
Yeah, the "Have sex or else INCEST" people. God fucking GOD I thought we'd dropped that plot thread entirely.

So then Anita senses that trouble is brewing and they all head back into the theater. And the chapter closes on this happy moment:

Normally, I’d have tried not to hold on to too many men at once in public, but the hell with it. One, we all needed the comfort. Two, my reputation couldn’t get any more trashed than it already was.

Anita really needs to just own her fucking life and get over herself.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Danse Macabre chapter 49

And now it's time for Anita Must Feel Special.

THE FIRST THING you need to know in order to control something is how it feels to do it.
 How it feels to do what? Do the thing or control the thing? And I'm kind of inclined to think that by "do" Anita means fuck. Because she has literally done nothing else this entire book except have flavors of non-con.

 I was a natural psychic, which meant that my gifts weren’t something I had to strive for, they just came to me.
 Yes. Anita is just fucking special that way. Those of us who have to work for shit? Yeah, we're not naturally talented. We are SOL. I guess if you're not born with the ability to draw realistically, or do complex algebra, or play piano music from memory, you aren't actively talented.
The problem with being a natural is that sometimes things come so easily that you don’t know how, or even when, you’re doing psychic stuff. It sort of sneaks up on you. You must understand a thing to truly control it.

Yeah. Apparently even Laurel K. Hamilton realized she'd done enough morally ambiguous sex scenes, because Anita auto-pilots through having Rania in charge and all the healing and shit happens between chapters. THANK YOU GOD I DO NOT HAVE TO READ ANOTHER RANIA SEX SCENE.

But apparently Anita just blacked out, and Rania is still here. Fucksticks. Also:

She loved to be in on someone’s first experience, especially if she could turn pleasure to pain, joy to terror. That just flat did it for her. Not my kink, which made it easier not to do it.
NOTE WHAT ANITA'S BIG CONCERN IS. It's not that this is something horrific that I would rather bleed than allow. It's that overt torture Isn't Her Kink. YKINMK should only count when IT DOES NOT INVOLVE ACTIVELY HURTING PEOPLE. A kink is liking feet or, at the worst, inflation. TORTURE AND RAPE DO NOT GET TO COUNT.

I was suddenly drowning in the scent of wolf. The beast inside me stirred, as if Raina’s power were a spoon and I were some kind of soup. Stirring, looking for just the right tidbit.
It's official. Laurel needs to fucking eat before she starts writing. STOP WITH THE FOOD METAPHORES THEY ARE GETTING FUCKING OLD.

The skin had blistered, and hardened, and begun to slough off. Days, or weeks, of healing in minutes. I moved the hardened skin to one side. I wasn’t quite brave enough to pull at it. I moved all that truly dead skin aside until I found the palm of my hand. The skin of the palm was soft, baby soft, but there was a new cross-shaped scar in the middle of my hand. That skin was shiny and not soft, not rough, more slick. Weeks of healing.

However, Anita has not healed Requiem, so much more petting occurs. And...Anita has to invoke the ardeur because she is too weak to have it permanently damage people, and somehow this means that she is up to healing Requiem, since Rania has offically booked for the evening. And she's shut down the marks, which takes up pages because Anita has to make sure she hasn't hurt anybody, but she doesn't dare open the marks so everybody has to psychally call everybody else and it takes a while.

...I am completely lost.

Anita and Requiem position to have more sex and that is the end of the chapter.


I debated a while on what chunk to share, and I decided on this piece. Melphanie is probably one of my favorite characters in this story because of how much she hates the protagonist. She's a prickly personality to work with and I'm probably going to hang onto her for at least one more book just because damn is she fun to have around.

Editing is still pretty rough at this stage, but I wanted ya'll to know what's coming.

The lists posted every morning. Not work assignments. If work were assigned, Alys thought perhaps the former slaves would have revolted on the second day, the free-born, the third. But they were simply blank lists. Sign your name under the Miller’s sign, make your mark beneath Gerswyr Hunter’s. Now you hunt, or spin. Or build houses under Pardal Norestrain’s guidance, or try to manage the inner workings of the Keep under Bennatus. There were always very few names under that list at first, and Alys was rather tempted to put her name down, just to see how the Keep’s government was forming.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 47-48

So now we're stuck in the Mother of all Darkness's head? And Anita is panicking? And this is somehow effecting the guys back at the ballet but Anita has no idea how?

I have no idea. Whatever potential plot we had is gone now, and I'm just scratching my head going whoza what now?

Oh, yeah, her. So why was I inside the head of the man she was about to eat? Why wasn’t I inside her body?

Congrats. You managed to top yourself. THAT is as phallic as it gets.

A wolf appeared between me and it. A white wolf with a dark saddle and head. Me, my wolf. This was a dream, which meant I was unconscious. Weird.
WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? One second we were on the verge of Ballroom Blitz involving toe shoes, and now we're in a prehistoric cave involving cats and ghost wolves and dreams and I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.

Anita yanks herself out of the vampire dream by burning herself badly on her own cross. Everyone gathers around to watch Richard slowly peel her fingers off the cross, and apparently "peel" is the right word because bits of Anita have cooked to the cross and it's very painful.

And then they send for Dr. Lillian. They do not, mind, get Anita out of the as-yet-unseen Merlin's range. Nope. They just drag up their best were-doc because who cares about putting non-combatants in the line of fire. The reason you keep your doctors and leaders away from the front lines, kids? SO THEY CAN STILL LEAD AND FIX YOU WHEN YOU GET SHOT. Losing a couple of the guys would be sad. Losing Lillian would be very bad because there's no way to get another doctor who won't report all of them to the nearest health board and/or cop.

Anita has a phobia about needles. Oh, she needs to be sheltered from the nasty needle. Oh oh oh oh please no needles.

 Richard heads back to his date. Which he abandoned because his ex-girlfriend got hurt.

They're all terrible people. End of chapter.

Next chapter.

They drag Anita to the restaurant to do first aid on one of the fancy tables. Given that first aid involves yanking cooked in metal from Anita's hand? I am cringing for the staff when they get back. That's literally a has-mat job. First, because it's blood, and second, because it's shape shifter blood. Anita isn't a shifter, but she's established as a carrier and she ought to be contageous. So that blood spilling all over the floor, and the tablecloths, and the tables, plates, cups, silverware, candles, candle sticks and god knows what else could potentially pass therianthropy on to whoever has to clean that shit up. And possibly to a diner. I don't remember how long it can remain viable outside the body, if this were ever established, but if you can get aids from blood soaked day old needles (you can) at least one person ought to sweat the fact that a lycanthropy carrier is bleeding all over surfaces where non-infected people are going to eat.

There is no reason this could not have been done in a bathroom...other than because we want to have this done on a table with Nathanial straddling Anita's body and kissing her while they pull the cross out. SPECIFICALLY to stifle her screams.

Yes. Nate's job is to gag a screaming woman in severe pain by kissing her. This is supposed to be romantic.

They take a moment to establish that the tablecloths are being bundled up. No mention is made of bleach buckets, mops, rags, though Anita does wonder how they will explain the fresh blood. I wonder if they're going to bother informing the cleaning crew that the blood could probably infect them with wolf, lion, leopard or Who The Fuck Knows, It's Just Special, but that's just me being silly and worrying about the welfare of other human beings.

They start worrying about the MOAD. What about Merlin? The guy that Jean Claude was stressing over? The guy you powered up the kitties for? WHAT ABOUT

oh please tell me you're not seriously going to pretend that was just Anita enjoying the show. YOU WERE GEARING UP FOR BATTLE THERE. THIS IS WHAT YOU'VE BEEN LEADING UP TO YOU--


However, Lillian still thinks that the Dance Plot can be resuscitated and asks Anita to clear the morphene out of her system by...

oh fuck me gently with a buzzsaw she's summoning the goddamned munin.

 She smiled, and patted my cheek. “Once you are healed, your beasts may rise, so I will leave you with people who can take your beast, if they must.”
 “I don’t understand.” 
“But I think we should start with someone that Raina never touched. I knew her, you see; she always loved new conquests.” 
I shook my head, gently. “Don’t understand.”
And this is going to be different from the rest of the book HOW? Other than it being Rania the Friendly Sadist and not Anita the reluctant one? WE HAD A PLOT. IT WAS RIGHT THERE. WE WERE ALL LOOKING AT IT. WHY ARE WE NOT DOING THE DANCE PLOT?



So yeah, they kick Lillian out of the car, and she drops plot points to try to keep us entertained but Anita is too busy getting Jason to help her out of her glittery corset to bother. We get a run-down of Rania's history which basically boils down to "Murderer who died horribly who should be fucking dead and out of this goddamn book."

And the one person here Anita hasn't fed on, who would "Count" to Rania for some reason (I DON'T EVEN FUCKING KNOW) Is Noel. The cute little boy that Anita now dismisses as just a baby. Mercifully, they kick him out of the car because Requiem is wounded enough to "count" to Rania.

Finally Requiem locks eyes with Anita and they gaze into each other's souls and THANK YOU FUCKING GOD that is the end of the chapter.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 46

Just to put you guys into the right frame of mood, I'm going to show you what LKH only wishes she were writing about:

This is the Alonzo King "Lines" Ballet company. I know approximatly NOTHING about them, other than that they have the most AWESOME PEOPLE IN EXISTANCE in their company. I have been drooling over the photographs of thier dancers for well over a year now because LOOK AT THAT ANATOMY:

This is my favorite picture of anything ,ever. I want to be this. Exactly this.


LKH's job is to convince me that the dance-piers can out-preform the Lines Ballet. They need to out amaze that picture right there.

  • THE BLOND FLUNG himself over our heads, and out into the air. The air was full of vampires. They had flown up and over the audience, and in that instant the vampire let them go. He released his hold on the audience and they were left gasping, shrieking. Not at the fact that their minds had been messed about with, because they didn’t know that, but at the vampires suddenly appearing above them like magic.

SERIOUSLY, LAURELL? SERIOUSLY? You want me to be impressed by a ballet company using vampire slight of hand instead of dancing? I want dancing vampires. I want vampires who can do that picture up there. I do not want David Copper-vamp trying to trick me into being awed. Ballet is a very difficult, very demanding, very very fucking gorgeous disapline. It's this:




The vampires danced on the air, at least a dozen of them. They defied gravity, and made it look effortless. It was beautiful, but I couldn’t enjoy it. I was too scared.
Describe the dance. Please. Please. I am begging you. DESCRIBE THE FUCKING DANCE. Give us wrists and ankles at first position, or the weightless lifts of a pas de deux, or at least one fucking grande jete to get our blood flowing. PLEASE. GIVE US ONE FUCKING REAL BALLET MOVEMENT. I AM BEGGING YOU.

Other vampires flew low over the crowd, and they blew kisses at other women and other men. There were three or four women among them. It was sort of the reverse of most ballet companies, where there seemed to be more women than men.
...you're turning ballet into fucking gender politics.

Oh for FUCK'S SAKE, the dance troupe's leader (NOT, mind, it's Premier danseur. You'd think with the hard on LKH has for french she could get the fucking titles in a fucking ballet troupe right) is named MERLIN. FUCKING MERLIN.



Instead, we're focusing on the metaphysical sex going on between Anita, Auggie and Jean Claude, becuase who would be more interested in ballet? (ME. LAUREL. ME. I DO NOT GIVE A FUCK ABOUT THE SEX. I WANNA SEE TOE SHOES AND MEN IN TIGHTS.)

Vampires are allowed group hypnotism, because group mind tricks aren’t permanent.

Seriously. In a universe with Jim Jones, David Koresh and Warren Jeffs, you seriously want to give a fucking vampire carte blanche to hypnotize an entire crowd? THINK ABOUT IT. Have you thought about it? THEN THE ANSWER IS NO. NO. NO YOU WOULD NOT GIVE VAMPIRES THAT KIND OF POWER. Jesus Christ, all you'd have to do is say "It is only Kool-aid" and you've got mass trageties on your hand. BESIDES. YOU WANT ME TO BELIEVE THAT THE BIBLE BELT KEEPS VAMPIRES FROM FEEDING IN PUBLIC BUT DOESN'T BOTHER WITH MASS HYPNOSIS ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME.

Anyhoo, Merlin attacks Anita with birds. So nice that we got him with no warning or intro whatso ever and instead focused on forty chapters of rape. Anita repels the birds and draws on the powers of Obsidian Butterfly, the mayan vampire who pretty much served as a power-boost for Anita and fuck-all else. This causes her to drop her sheilds.

It felt as if my body were a cave, a fleshy, soft cave, and the birds that I had heard and felt poured inside me, as if they’d found a home.
...that is the most disgusting metaphore ever written by a human. CAN YOU GET MORE PHALLIC THAN THAT?

Anita swallows all of Merlin's birds with her metaphysical cave (I am going to pretend like hell that it is NOT her va-jay-jay. I advise you all to do the same) and the MOAD pokes her head in to call Anita hers, and then the chapter ends.

I'm going to go watch youtube videos of awesome dancers. You are welcome to join me.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 45

On the one hand, we finally get to open a chapter with something other than non-con and sex politics!

On the other hand: It's about clothes. Specifically, Anita complaining about the multi-inch stiletto heels with the open toes and the straps.

It's time to come clean about something, folks: I love shoes. I LOVE shoes. Specifically decently high heels with a specific curve in the heel structure, straps around the ankles, and toes that are the perfect balance between blunt and pointed. My go-to work shoes right now are a pair of insanely comfortable half boots with inch-and-a-quarter heels. I can run in those babies. They rock. But those heels aren't just an inch and a quarter high. That's also their width. They are incredibly stable and most of my shoes...erm...aren't. I wear certain heels on special dinners (or to church) when I know that I won't be walking much while wearing them, or for the day or so after so the blisters will heal. And they're not exactly walking friendly. My favorite pair of heels? I've torqued my ankle in them doing nothing more than walking from the porch to the car on a gravel driveway.

Anita shout not be wearing massively high heels into a tense situation. Not if there's any chance at all that she'll be kicking, running, or doing athletics. Even if she can keep her balance, they'll sink into the ground and she can hurt herself that way. Even my awesome inch-highs stab into the ground like they're going Lady Macbeth on its ass. SHE SHOULD NOT BE WEARING HIGH HEELS INTO POTENTIAL COMBAT.

Also: Jean Claude raided Jareth's closet. AGAIN. Except...oh my god. OH MY GOD.

His vest fit him like a glove because it was laced up the back; a corset vest.

No. No no no no no no no I am sorry CLOTHING DOES NOT WORK LIKE THAT.

Apparently we also went straight from "Maybe we need to dress for the party" to the party itself, because we're talking about running the press gauntlet like it's old news. Okay. Anita is *sigh* more famous than Elvis. Please continue.

Normally, I enjoyed the Fox Theatre. It had been built in the 1920s as a movie theatre, but no movie theatre I knew had Chinese Foo dogs with glowing eyes at the bottom of a sweep of marble staircase. The interior was lush and gilt, full of carved Hindu gods, and animals from anywhere that qualified as exotic. Normally, I loved gazing at it all. Tonight, it was shelter from the storm.

This is the first chunk of description LKH has given that I find believable. I think she's probably actually been there. Given that all we found out about Philly in Micah was a graveyard and what the inside of a hotel room looked like, I'm kind of happy with this.

The Master of Hollywood is here, and is apparently the darling of the media. And yet LKH still expects us to believe that an ER nurse had never seen a vampire bite before.

There were too many vampires in the VIP section to have dinner beforehand. It raised too many questions about what everyone would eat. Jean-Claude had avoided the problem by simply saying the restaurant was closed for that night. The management of the Fox was happy with that. Yeah, vamps were legal, but St. Louis is still part of the Bible Belt. No one was sure how people would take it if someone got pictures of vampires feasting on humans in the Fox club theatre.
Yeah. It's the Bible belt's fault we don't want to see vampires eating people. Thanks again. Hey, has it been established why the blood has to be "on the hoof" so to speak? 'Cause bringing in a bunch of bagged blood and dressing it up all pretty could have avoided that...wouldn't have been as much fun for the Masters but it would have been a real good publicity photo...

I knew for a fact that some of the “naughty” impromptu scenes at Danse Macabre were very planned. The trick was to give the customers a thrill, not scare them to death, or make them run for a cop.

Why do I get the feeling that LKH is the kind of person who thinks people like Edwards and Silvia Browne really do contact the dead? If you're running a vampire club it doesn't matter how sanitized it gets. SOMEBODY is going to buy it and call the cops. If you're purposefully trying to give them an edgy, bloody show, you'll have let the cops in on the dress rehearsal so they can feild the panicked calls from the audience.

The main difference was that the police were watching for hatemongers trying to kill the monsters, and our guards knew that the other job was to make sure none of the visiting monsters got out of hand.

I like this. I like every part of this, because it's a commonality. Both sides are actively working to keep their monsters at bay. Humanity has an awful, awful lot of ugliness work through. But I just can't buy it because every single leader we've seen so far has the self control and ethics of a drunk flea on a baby possum. I don't buy that any of these people can stay in hand.

The lights go down and all the vamps around Anita start quietly freaking out.

I glanced at Damian, and his eyes were wide, a little panicked almost, then his face went peaceful, as well. I looked at Jean-Claude. He whispered, “He will try to make humans of us all.”

So the humans and the guards get rolled, and then the vampires start dropping, and Anita realizes that Micah is about to go and she drops something totally precious in our laps:

“Power up our cats,” I whispered.
Come on. You know I had to.
Anyhoo, Anita touches Richard with her psychic...psychicness, I guess, and then drags herself over to Claudia to shake the were-rats out of it. I have no idea what "it" is or why Anita is freaking out over entertainment-pires rolling the audience when Jean Claude does that every damn day, but whatever. Big bad enemy vamp is behind Jean Claude's dance baby, and we have to go squish him now.

Wait. Is that...

No. It can't be. Not Eighty-five percent of the way through the book.


Random Dance-pire jumps up to Anita's balcony. He's...uh, cute. And dressed in a ballet leotard. Kids, I took ballet for years, I've been to several, I camp on this image search frequently, so TRUST ME: That dude has left NOTHING to the imagination. There's a leotard. That doesn't matter. You can count the wrinkles around his nipples. 

That's why I find this:
His upper body was beautiful even by my standards.
 Fucking hilarious. I don't even know why.

Pretty Dance-pire tries to roll Anita and fails, so he kisses her and touches her and she makes googly eyes at him while wondering just what they've let into their city, and there's something even bigger and nastier waiting in the wings and THAT IS HOW YOU INTRODUCE A BIG BAD POWER PEOPLE LKH HAS DONE SOMETHING RIGHT GIVE HER COOKIES and that is the end of the chapter.

So now we've got overpowered dance-pires in an auditorium full of possible (and probable) food, most of Anita's bodyguards out of commission, and Anita eyeing a hunk of hot blond in skin-tight spandex.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 44

Anita tests out the other were-lion and he peggs off as a "wounded antelope" because Anita's uber-beast reads other predators as prey, I guess. She promises not to choose either Peirce or Haven and it's flippy-floppy enough for me to know she'll probably do exactly that.

I think one of the most disturbing things about this series (and there's a shit ton of disturbing to be had) is how Anita never owns responsibility for her choices. Icky as it is to say, that's part of why the sex is all non-con. As long as Anita never consiously chooses to have sex, she isn't responsible for being sexual. (Note: I am not saying for a second that the rapes don't count as rapes, or anything like that. That's just one of the componants behind why it's ALWAYS non-con.) it's even more obvious when we get out of the bedroom and start trying to do plot shit. It's not that Anita sucks at her job, or is insenstive, or a bigot, or a misogynist. Nope, boys and girls. She's just out of control. She's afflicted. It's not her fault.

Bullshit. Even if Anita were mentally ill with diminished capacity--I personally do consider people in long-term abusive situations to fit the clinical definition of mentally ill. Their thinking processes have been altered by their circumstances and they are much more likely to develop depression, PTSD, and addictive behavior as a coping mechanism. Note: I'm not saying that they stay in those situations because they are mentally ill, they are mentally ill because they're in those circumstances. You cannot breathe chlorine and not have lung damage. Abuse is toxic and damaging--she still has personal responsibility. Being abused does not give you a blank check to be abusive. You might have a diminished capacity to recognize right from wrong, but you can still recognize it and you absolutely can still back down and say no. The instant another person is involved in the abusive situation, you become responsible for how you behave towards them. Being a battered wife does not give you an excuse to beat your child. Being the spouse of an abusive partner does not give you the right to harm the person they're having an affair with. You do not have the right to continue an abusive cycle. The moment you raise your hand against someone who is not your abuser, and your abuser does not have a figurative gun to your head? You become the abuser. It's a very sketchy gray area, because the circumstances of abuse do dramatically reduce an individual's capacity to free choice, but unless there is an immediate threat against you or another individual--ie he will kill you and your children if you don't do as he says--it is never alright to perpetuate an abusive cycle.

Anita knows that Haven is not a good person. She knows that he's probably abusive (he's a motherfucking mob enforcer) and she knows that bringing him into St. Louis will destroy one of the few good were-animal groups in the city. She is attracted to him, yeah, but it's the attraction a co-dependant person has for an abuser (I am not kidding: Abuse victims, unless they have EXTREMELY good self-awareness, will pick a new abuser out of a crowded room of otherwise sane individuals. I had a friend who told me the best thing she could do when attracted to a guy was run the fuck away.) and while she's tone-deaf to her own self-needs, the fact that everyone else in the fucking universe wants Haven gone ought to be a good clue that he needs to be gone.

Auggie then reveals that one of his goals during this trip was to take over the local lion pride. And that he still wants to do that.

I came thinking I’d get my ashes hauled, and make a smash and grab on the local lions. Still might do the whole lion thing, but the rest didn’t work out like I planned.”
Yeah. Letting him supervise sexerpades with Haven would be a very bad idea.

Anita threatens to kill Auggie's pet lion so that Auggie can't hold control of a lion pride anymore. It's almost admirable, but we're threatening to kill someone we don't know that we've never met just because Anita's feeling taken advantage of.

This goes back and forth for a few minutes, and we find out that the were-lion leader's brother, Justin, is going to be at the ballet. Great. Jason shows up bleeding, and we spend a couple pages talking about his sex life. And it's actually good, though I'd really like to know what could leave that kind of dramatic bite mark on a shoulder. Consensual sex rocks, folks.

And of course Meng Die is disgusted by this. I can't decide if it's the consensual sex part or that it was two guys doing it. Either way, it's yet another case of the author character-assassinating her own characters. WHY IS THIS NECESSARY I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

Auggie tells Anita that Justin isn't the match that Haven is because she needs someone dominant enough to dominate her, and I tried to think my way through the implications, my dear blog-readers. I really did. I tried so hard. There was the sexism and the gender politics and the fact that Anita is never dominated, ever, and that was about the time the gender/sexual bullshit turned into a Lovecraftian mobius strip and my brain dribbled out my ears. I have no fucking clue what this book is doing, why it exists, or what we're supposed to do with it. Guys, Fifty Shades of Gray has more complexity and a better plot, and that's one book I'd like to shoot just to put out of its misery.

The chapter is done. I am going to go OD on cold meds and go to bed.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 43

We get several highly disturbing paragraphs of Anita manhandling Noel. It reads like a molestation that neither party enjoys, and it walks right up to rub shoulders against cannibalism.

The thought slid my face down his body, until I rested at his sternum, the upper edge of his stomach. So close now that I could not so much see the fast rise and fall of his body as feel it under my cheek. I rolled my face over, and kissed his stomach. He jerked, as if I’d bit him, and made a wonderful whimpering sound. I buried my mouth in the soft, easy flesh of his belly. I took as much of his flesh into my mouth as I could hold, and not draw blood. I bit him, hard and deep, and it took all my willpower to rise up from that flesh, and leave it whole.
Like I said last night: Can we please start the chapter off with something resembling consensual sex? Please?

Of course, he gets dismissed as being "just food" and not enough for the ardeur. He's first accused as being "too submissive" because "Joseph shops for bottoms", but Nate decides its because Noel is "too straightlaced" to get off on being bitten.

Given that Noel is terrified out of his mind the entire time, I don't think "prude" is the right word for that mindset. Also: Being called a prude is one of the things I know guys use on unwilling girls. They don't want sex because they're too "prudish" and nasty and bad, and now they have to prove how worthy they are by giving the guy sex. Or to apply it to here: Noel's failed to capture Anita's attention because he's too much of a prude, rather than Noel being scared out of his fucking mind and being forced into a sexual situation he does not want and should not be forced to have.

 Travis, the other werelion in the running, shows up for his turn. Somehow this translates into inviting Jason in, which he teleports in to do, far as I can tell, and this in turn becomes a dominance fight between Jason and Graham supervised by Jean Claude.

I don't know. I've read it three times and I still can't figure it out.

And then Meng Die shows up. The woman who almost killed Requiem last night.

She was one of the few women who ever made me think, delicate. She was tinier than I was, so fragile looking. Maybe that was why she almost always wore black leather, very dominatrix.
The entire purpose of what happens next is just to make Anita look more desirable. She walks up to Requiem (the word "slinks" is used) and runs her hands up and down her body, insisting that Requiem would want her again. Requiem refuses her. Meng Die accuses him of refusing her because of Anita. Anita apologizes and says she didn't know Requiem was Meng's boyfriend. Jason says that Meng doesn't have boyfriends, only "people she fucks", because this is different from Anita how? So we've got slut-shaming, just like with Ronnie, to try to make Anita look wonderful and vurtuious in comparison. Meng Die then propositions every other man in the room, and they all turn her down flat because she's just too icky in comparsion for Anita.

I am not making that up. This is actively painful. 

 Then we go back to London, who states that he can feed the ardeur every two hours without suffering any ill effects. I'd say "bullshit" but London is an addict, and that's how it works. It's rather incredible to me that LKH is only accurate when it's psychologically awful and she wants to treat it like a positive. Anita just force-fed a metaphysical alcoholic psychic booze and now she gets a big benefit, while he gets to go back to being a sex-addict. And this is supposed to be just ducky.

London says that he's "addicted immediately" which is, again, pretty accurate for being an alcoholic ) and Nate sums up everything I have to say perfectly.

“You always look happy at the beginning of an addiction,” Nathaniel said. 
“What happens later?” I asked. 
“You die.”

End of chapter. The only problem I have with that? London isn't "at the start" of "an addiction" He's very late-stage, as in the "having to take quantities that would kill a normal person just to get a buzz" stage. He has an exceptional tolerance to his addiction of choice, which is a symptom of being in late stage addiction. He's also back to where he was before he tried to sober up. An addict doesn't go back to the beginning of their addiction when they relapse. It's always back to where they were when they sobered up. A relapse is a rocket train back to rock bottom. It is an INCREDIBLY shitty thing to break someone's sobriety by force.

And I'm done for the night.

Danse Macabre--chapter 42

You know, this book has slowly degraded all my standards. I began the book wanting a plot that didn't hurt ballet too badly. Then I just wanted a plot in general. Then I just wanted happy, consensual sex that didn't read like it hurt on a physical or psychological level. Then I just wanted sex that wasn't actively abusive. Now? Can we at least start a chapter without having rape? Please?

I BROKE THE kiss, pushed him away hard enough to make him stumble. His eyes were drowning emerald fire. “Didn’t it feel good?” he asked. I shook my head, not trusting my voice. But the moment he wasn’t touching me the panic was back. The fear, and it was worse now. I was surrounded by vampire tricks. Surrounded even inside myself, and that was one person I couldn’t run from.

I shook my head. “No, because if you touch me, I’ll give up. I won’t fight. I can never win a fight when you touch me. The effect you have on my body overwhelms everything else.”
Yep. Because our bodies are hardwired for survival and MICAH IS YOUR RAPIST. OF COURSE your body is going to shut down. IT WANTS TO STAY ALIVE.

I want to blog about something other than rape and abusive behavior. I would love to have the insanity of the agents of the (NUMBERED) dread overloard being defeated by a seven-spotted ladybug. Or even Werewolves taking selfies. BUT NO. WE GET PAGE AFTER PAGE AFTER PAGE OF ABUSE, RAPE AND MIND-FUCKERY.

There is a difference between writing about sex and writing about abuse. With sex, the  characters enjoy it. Anita has, in the course of this book, been assaulted by a woman, assaulted by a man, raped several dozen people at once, had an emotional breakdown (THAT WAS UNDERSTANDABLE AND A GOOD THING), had her emotions and feelings manipulated and shattered BY HER RAPIST, raped a recovering addict with the thing he is addicted to, and now we're doing rape again, and that's just the shit I remember. And the best part is, thanks to Anita being so fucking out of control the whole time, she's not in control of any of it. She's not having sex because she wants to, and neither is anyone else.

Micah keeps talking, and oh my fucking GOD it reminds me of many, many, many bad people I've read about. Jeffery Lundgren. Jim Jones. Vernon Howell (look it up.) Probably even Warren Jeffs. Once again, Anita is all but screaming I WANT OUT OF THIS BULLSHIT and the men are all gathered around, saying "But ANITA, we're all HAPPY HERE."

Shithead: If she were happy she would not be screaming right now.

 And then Nathanial says "you could leave us?" and starts crying. And it's passive-agressive and pathetic, and of course Anita collapses around him and starts rocking him and throwing all her own feelings and decisions away because how dare she be so selfish as to put her own wellbeing over the thoughts and feelings of her partners. How dare she think that her sense of self is more critical than pleasing her menfolk. Oh my god, how dare she try to disentangle herself from the two men who have victimized her over and over and over and over and fucking over again. How dare she.

 And then they start having a heavy petting session because "kiss and make up" is just too vanilla for this crowd.

They decide they don't want Haven, but that they need Jean Claude to break up the bond before it's completely set. Auggie decides that he'll try to help.

Yes. Let's ask the fucking MOB BOSS who ACTIVELY WANTS Anita to bond with Haven to keep Anita from bonding with Haven. I see no way whatsoever for that to go wrong.

And then we get another crash course in were-lion behavior. Which is basically of the "Let's study lions in a caged enviroment" variaty.

(On a totally unrelated side-note, I've been dealing with a slightly aggressive bunny at my work, and have ODed on bunny behavior and how to deal with biting bunnies and bunny body language and how to care for one properly and I have since decided I want were-bunnies almost more than I want were-hippos. Because folks? You do not fuck with bunnies. And they have a really complicated, yet easy-to-work with caste system that involves petting and grooming and establishing top bun that would probably be much more entertaining than the whole "Dominance/submission predator" pack behavior bullshit.)

And then we establish that new male werelions kill the infants of the females in the prides they move in on.

Look, I'll buy a lot of "Weres are different" shit, but you cannot expect me to swallow that a group of sentient creatures would willingly tolerate motherfucking infanticide. I could see a rogue lion doing that, but a group of something even part human tolerating a baby-murderer as a leader for three seconds? I can see a lot of solutions for that, starting with an anonymous phone call to the cops and ending with blood and fire and a very dead baby-killer. And if I were that female? It wouldn't happen with me alive. Not if it were my kid, not if it were anybody else's kid.

Oh, and guys? It's the female lions who wear the pants in the pride. NO FUCKING WAY WOULD THIS GO DOWN.

 “Your local pride has very weak females,” Auggie said, his voice still that empty master’s voice, so it could have been almost anyone talking. “Your Rex’s wife is weak, and since the females of the lions are just like the males, it’s forced him to reject a lot of strong women.”
...I'm being reduced to the point where all I can say is "fuck you, Laurell."

I wanted to say, I won’t let them hurt you and your people, but I couldn’t. Not and be truthful. We had an alliance with the lions, true, but if Joseph had truly let his pride get this fucked up, and it was truly the lion’s way to take over the pride like this, then no other animal could interfere.
FUCK the inter-were rules. If you are a good person, you do not let shit like infanticide happen. You're dealing with an artifically created set of rules usually constructed by abusive idiots who can't think around problematic behavior. And you should not be listening to the motherfucking MOB BOSS who has a vested interest in giving you his own lion.

Anita decides to try Noel on for size, and the chapter ends with her muttering about sharks and fish and god only knows what else.

This book is still not done yet.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 41

Non-Book stuff: Guys I am having an incredibly shitty time right now. It has nothing to do with books or sales or internet people or anything. I literally have no idea why I feel as bad as I do right now, but it's pretty bad. It's one of those really fun emotional yo-yos where you spend half the day feeling a numb sort of fine, a quarter of the time crying, and that remaining quarter thinking some pretty scary thoughts. Last night was bad, hence the skipped review.

Like I said, I have no clue why this is happening. There's been no obvious trigger this time around, none of my usual coping mechanisms are working well, and I have no idea whatsoever how to fix it. So forgive me for being a little flaky yesterday.

So Anita and Jean Claude start discussing the ardeur, because it's not like we haven't covered that enough in this book. Jean Claude says that Anita was about to "bind Requiem" to her forever, and that the ardeur can look into someone's heart and give them their greatest desire. Because of course, that desire is sex. It's not like maybe you want, IDK, kids or a gold medal or a book contract or to not have to worry about bills, or have a dead loved one come back or something. Nope. Hearts desires are all about sex and getting more sex.

“When you first met Micah, what did you need in your life?”

To not be raped by a total stranger in the shower?

Oh, no. According to Jean Claude Anita needed help with her leopards, and also this part:

“You needed a man in your life who simply said yes, instead of arguing with you or running his own agenda. You needed someone to put your needs first.”
And she got someone who raped her in the shower. Seriously. LKH is seriously saying that Anita asked for it. That the universe itself discovered that Micah was what she wanted and gave him to her, in the form of being raped in the motherfucking shower. 

 This goes on to say that the ardeur mind-fucks both people fucking into the perfect, ideal mates for each other and this binds them together, somehow. And Micah is all like 'Hey, yeah, it's all cool" because OF COURSE IT IS. 

 Anita actually does sum it up the best:

Nathaniel moved in, as if he’d hug me. I moved farther down the wall, out of reach. “But it’s all vampire powers. It’s a lie— doesn’t that ruin it for you? I trapped you. I trapped you both; it’s worse than what Auggie did to us. It’s not fake, it’s like real love. I made you both fall in love with me, that’s like evil.”

Yes. Yes it is evil to warp someone's mind like that. Thank you for coming clean.

And of course the guys are like "Oh NO WE ARE PERFECTLY HAPPY" and we take the time to mention that Micah's first girlfriend dumped him because of his enormous schlong.

He whispered the last few words against my lips. “You all love each other, isn’t that more important than how you fell in love?”
No. No it isn't. Our brains are way, way too easily manipulated for "I love you now" to fly. Many women legitimately love their abusive husbands, and vice-versa, because loving an abuser is survival. If you love them, it's easier to subordinate yourself to the abuser, and subordinating in the short term migitates the abuse. Long-term, it'll just get worse (again, that's why your best option in an abusive situation is to get away from the abuser. Even if you have difficulties or barriers, remaining in the situation and placiating the son of a bitch will not change the situation. The abuse is not about you, you can't change it and you can't make it stop.) but our brains and bodies aren't wired for long-term survival. That's why how a relationship starts is just as important as how it progresses. If it starts with abuse, abuse will continue. And one again, boys and girls, Anita's relationship with Micah started with him raping her in the shower. Anita and Jean Claude started with JC forcing himself onto Anita using horrific emotional blackmail (She had to date him or else he'd kill Richard and/or anyone else she dated) until she finally broke. Nathanial consistantly and passive-agressively manipulated his way into a sexual relationship, and every other male in Anita's life is someone she has abused. She mind-fucked Damian, Requiem, London and Auggie. Admittedly Auggie helped with that one, but his people didn't, and she got them too. The ONLY character in this entire book whose sexual relationship with Anita started on a basis of mutual consent and respect is her relationship with Richard.

"I love you now" is how bad relationships survive for years. It's not constant and continual. There will be peroids, sometimes prolonged, where the victim and the abuser are nice to each other. Whatever triggers the abuse is either absent or sated, and the abuser has a real good reason to keep their victim happy--so that the next time they fuck up, the victim won't leave. I watched this happen. I had it happen to me. It is vitally important that you never, ever, ever minimize abusive behavior in a potential or current lover. Unless both of you are healthy enough to address that behavior and correct it, it will continue and it will escalate. If a relationship starts with abusive behavior, that behavior will continue.

Second point? Anita did not initiate the relationships with Micah and Nathanial. Nathanial manipulated his way from damaged submissive to bedmate over the course of several books. Micah raped Anita while leaning against the exit door. Jean Claude is further attempting to trap Anita into these relationships by stating that she did initiate them and that she asked for what Nate and Micah did to her. That being raped and manipulated were really what she wanted and that she should live with the consequences of her actions.

And that is the end of the chapter.