This is my personal blog and does not necessarily reflect the collective views of Hard Limits Press

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cerulean Sins, Chapter Ten Part One

So, short version is I was very sick. The hospital was involved, there were I.V. medications and a round of antibiotics that made me sick on top of everything else. Now though:

Aaaand we're back. 

This chapter opens with some nonsense about splitting up the vampires and wereanimals on Anita's side so the "bad vamps" can't mindfuck everyone if they try. It irritates the shit out of me how Anita persists in using this kind of baby talk when referring to the people around her. "Bad little vampires" is especially grating. It just makes her come across as callous, to the point where she's gone right past anti hero in to cruel waste of space. These are the people she's tasked with executing and she can't be bothered to humanize them even a little. You can say that's how she has to approach it all you want, but Anita is clearly not doing it to protect her sweet little core. She's doing it because the only real person in the entire world is her.

She manages to work in some nonsense bullshit filler about what color the sheets on Jean-Claude's bed are. He "doesn't do" white sheets. What? This is the guy who owns an office that is all white. Is this meant to imply that he doesn't do white sheets because he gets blood on them? Because he doesn't understand how anal sex works so his lovers have a fifty fifty chance to shit the bed? Whoa, I think I just described the entire series.

"the rug was actually fur, thick and soft, and somehow just by touch you knew it had once been alive."

It's...a fur rug. Of course it was once alive. Because it feels like fur. 

Anita only now thinks to ask what exactly Belle and Musette can ask them for while they're guests on J.C.'s lands.


2). Assuming she doesn't know--despite how fucking stupid that is given her job--she only thinks to ask after she's completely fucked everything beyond all repair?

I know I have probably complained about this countless times, but her sheer incompetence is almost delicious to watch. Why? Because then I get to study all the ways LKH tries to make me believe that Anita is actually wonderful and I have just enough schadenfreude to find that amusing. When it doesn't inspire unholy rage, that is. (I almost mistyped rape instead of rage, which I think would have typified this garbage series a bit better than what I intended).

One of Musette's child servants used to use his boyish looks to entrap people. That's...actually awesome in a way. It is appropriately gross and dark. The thing is, I wonder if we really need a character who embodies all those stupid false accusation fears people always bring up when sexism is the topic of discussion. Then again, he's also firmly on the evil side so I'll give her a pass on that. This is the kind of thing LKH wants to write, I think, but she's not confident enough to just put it out there in all its sick disturbing glory. Either this series needs to just bite the bullet and be dark as fuck (in a way done with actual skill), or it needs to realize how silly and comic book like it is and just embrace that ridiculous kind of twisted that allows for everyone to have joke penises and so on.

As it is it's like that trifle from Friends that is half dessert half beef stew.

Apparently making children in to vampires is normally not done. In fact the last guy to make child vampires was using them for pedophilia purposes and when Belle found out, she killed him and tried her best to give one of his victims, Valentina, a normal life. And I am supposed to hate Belle and love Anita because...? This is also another time where I yearn for some world building that makes a modicum of actual sense.

Turns out Valentina is a little torture prodigy and has tortured J.C. Okay THIS IS GOING TO SOUND WEIRD, but finally. This shit is actually creepy as fuck, unlike the dumb werewolf nonsense about sticking people in holes in the ground and other B movie schlock that LKH thinks is darkity dark. Going after children and twisting them? I mean it's emotionally manipulative and kind of cheap, but it is effective.

Anita crawls over to sit beside J.C. as an act of comfort. That's very sweet and submissive of her, and I would probably like her more if she did things like this more often. Not that I expect her to be in the submissive role, but it's a lot nicer than constantly shaming everyone into BDSM. Which is particularly icky considering that described almost everyone she knows.

Here is another really interesting attempt at worldbuilding: "Belle's line is built upon sex, and it has become custom to offer any of Belle's line sex when they visit you." See, to me? That is damn cool. I love the idea that vampires can feed on more than just blood. I also LOVE making up new cultures and so this is the kind of stuff I go nuts for. It's just so sad that nothing will come of it. It's all set up to be convenient for the main characters. Musette will stick around precisely as long as she's needed to spew conflict in a completely unsubtle stream, like a fire hose of pedophilia and torture just spraying around totally unattended.

J.C. and Anita go through a list of people they care for and whether they are safe from Musette's demands. Anita holds forth about how forcing someone to have sex against their orientation is rape. Gosh, how evolved. Except a rapist is saying it, so it just makes my face turn in to a flaming skull.

Anita also says a bunch of simple crap about how they've managed to protect everyone and J.C. washes her balls and tells her she's as devious as Belle Morte. Okay.

"To Belle Morte if a man has an orgasm he must have enjoyed it."

Cool, I'm back to loathing everything about Belle Morte. But you're not off the hook Anita, because I know you and I know you believe this too.

Okay, I am going to split this chapter in two because dinner is done and I'd much rather stuff my face than put up with Anita's garbage.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cerulean Sins Chapter Nine

My blog really, really wants me to learn Russian, since that's what all my stuff is currently set to. I can't figure out how to change it. It keeps changing back. Well, at least the main post editor is in English, which means I can do an Anita chapter.

I am still way behind Dottie, but let's play a spot of catch up, shall we?

"Musette made no move to protect herself. Angelito stayed with the other men across the room. It was as if neither of them saw me as a threat. You'd think with my reputation vampires would stop underestimating me."

You only have a reputation because Word of God says you do.

Can anyone tell me how many times Anita has actually killed a vampire (or anyone for that matter) on screen? And how it compares to the time she spends fucking or endlessly nattering on? I know I'm like a broken record on this subject but it baffles me how any writer could think merely stating something is enough to convince readers. Is your heroine supposed to be tough and capable? By god you had better put her in a situation where she needs to be tough and capable, and then have her apply those skills/traits to the problem at hand.

Anita is smiling and it's a badass darkity dark smile, you guys.

Musette licks the knife blade clean of Asher's blood, taunting Anita.

"It was as if Asher didn't matter at all to her."

Uh, I think that's been well established. Or weren't the ridiculous paintings enough to drive that point home?

Anita grabs Musette's hand before Musette can stab Asher a third time, which prompts Anita to muse (ha) that maybe Musette expects her to "fight like a girl, whatever that means."

Isn't it great how Anita works internalized misogyny in even when there's no pertinent segue to help her along?

Anita knocks Musette to the floor and stabs her with the same blade Musette was using on Asher. Well shit, that's more like it. It only took sixty two pages for something mildly interesting to happen.

Werehyenas show up, presumably because they're Asher's animal to call. Anita's beast awakens. Her beast is "like a snake." NO bad author, no cookie. It already IS an animal, don't compare it to ANOTHER animal. "This chicken sandwich is like canned tuna." See? That's fucking weird.

Bobby Lee the southern fried wererat is here, because somehow Micah is psychic and knew to send him, and Bobby Lee is also a mutant and can fold reality in order to appear here not twenty seconds after the knife went in to Musette''s body.

Anita gives Musette a tuffy tuff speech about how no one messes with "our" bloodline, even though Anita isn't a vampire. Then again she also co-leads the shapeshifter coalition so obviously she sees no problem with appropriating identities and leadership roles that don't and shouldn't belong to her.

Belle Morte starts to take Musette over to respond to Anita's message, making Belle's eyes turn the color of "poisoned honey." What color is that, pray tell?

"Fear drove through me like a blade..."  Tsk tsk. That's just lazy.

Belle Morte's voice comes out of Musette's body and Anita thinks Belle would probably give really good phone sex. I'm sorry, but I don't like Anita enough to accept this kind of comment from her during a tense moment. She'd had to have a consistent character and I'd have to understand her as a person before this would work. As it is she just sounds crass and callous. Not in a good way.

Belle and J.C. have a conversation wherein J.C. is actually badass and tells Belle Morte to fuck herself, and that if she is so arrogant as to send a servant of hers in to their territory without warning again, that servant will be summarily executed. Oh J.C., why aren't these books about you and Asher?

Even Anita admits she's "superfluous." Finally something we can agree on!

J.C. tells Belle Morte that love and possession are not the same thing, implying that Anita's love has taught him the difference. You have to be fucking kidding me. Anita, who constantly objectifies everyone around her? My leopards this, and my wolves that, and Nate my kitty slave?

J.C. says this in a very straightforward way, only to have Musette/Belle inform him that he speaks "in riddles." For an all powerful vampire she sure is dense.

Anita points out that maybe Belle shouldn't have rejected Asher if she wanted to keep J.C. around.

Anita tells Belle to get lost because she's "tired of trying to explain color to the blind." Belle Morte doesn't know what that means. God it annoys me how LKH tries to establish how foreign these vampires are by having them misunderstand simple idioms. How is Belle such a political powerhouse when she can't even decipher basic shit like this? Her vampires are from all over the world, and it's not like she's short on time. A lot of idioms also find use cross culturally. It might be put somewhat differently from one language to the next, but the idea is there. "Kick the bucket", for example, is used in a lot of cultures. Now, it may be "taking off the clogs" or "kicking the void" but the outcome is the same.

J.C. starts using "threat" as a noun again which annoys the ever loving piss out of me. Belle Morte doesn't know why Anita won't act properly scared of her, necessitating MORE TALKING.

Anita takes the knife out. Belle communicates an image of herself nude on a featherbed and Anita admits to wanting her (!) but don't get too excited because only naughty vampire magic can make Anita feel the dirty bad wrong lesbian feelings.

Anita comes back to herself and J.C. and Damian are holding her. Jason is standing over both of them. Is it just me or do people fall down a lot in this universe?

There are wolves here now too and they have an "almost eatable" smell. Eatable? This is the same woman who used superfluous a couple of paragraphs ago.

Anita manages to get in a dig about how Richard should be here to watch her and J.C.'s backs. Maybe you shouldn't have raped him then, Anita. Just a thought.

Anita uses the phrase "Mexican stand off." Maybe that would sound innocuous from someone else, but everything out of Anita's mouth is highly suspect.

Belle tries to use the ardeur against them but they have such good control now that it doesn't work. And all the wolves howl, because reasons. LKH has also described BM inhabiting Musette's body as a mask moving under her skin like three times now in as many pages. I guess it's marginally better than the whole toothpicks under melted wax bullshit she uses to describe (and I use that word very loosely) shapeshifters.

The wererats are here for Anita because she made friends with them. I guess the mass rape later on will come as a special surprise, then.

Anita waxes on about Angelito's muscles. Bobby Lee tells Anita--oh I'm sorry, I mean "honey-child"--that he would follow her to the "ends of the earth."

Anita tells everyone to keep an eye on Musette and Musette's vampires.

Oh shit, here comes Meng Die. Strap in, everyone.

"Meng Die was lovely, delicate, with perfectly straight black hair cut just above her shoulders; her skin was like pale porcelain. She would have looked like a perfect China doll if she hadn't liked wearing skintight black leather most of the time." 

Meng Die's animal to call is the wolves, but the wolves don't like her because she's "too damn unfriendly." Uh huh. These are the same people who let Raina and Marcus rule them. What you mean is she is a racist stereotype and any behavior she exhibits outside of that stereotype will be punished accordingly. Meng Die doesn't behave like a hothouse orchid, so she barely warrants screen time even though with wolves as her animal to call she should be a major player.

Guys, I'm really going to hate Black Jade, aren't I?

Faust is here. Faust has burgundy hair and copper colored eyes, which sounds like an atrocious combination to me. I don't know why we're pausing the story for these appearance info dumps. It's not hard to work this stuff in to the action. He's a master vampire but he isn't a strong one, or something, so he can't have his own city.

Everyone leaves and Anita ponders the fact that a two thousand year old all powerful vampire being ticked off at you is probably a bad thing.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Cerulean Sins Chapter Eight

Short personal update: GRAD SCHOOL IS HARD. Persian is hard. So much reading. So much. Language homework every night, pages and pages of it. So far managing to keep on top of it all but sadly it doesn't leave much time for sporking or for writing that doesn't directly pertain to school. I get about a month off at the end of this quarter though, and hopefully I'll be able to read and write to my heart's content then. I might also do NaNo, because I am both insane and a masochist.

On to the snark!

Musette twists the knife regarding the pictures of Asher, because she's an asshole. I guess the one good thing I can say about this is it does show how cowed and terrorized J.C. and his vamps are, how Belle Morte has a disproportionate amount of power over them even from afar.

Well now this toolbag wants some guest gifts even though she showed up early. This is of course another exercise in humiliation for J.C. and his court. Anita essentially tells Musette to get fucked, and for once I completely agree with Anita. Brr, that hurt to type.

Damian spoons Anita to keep her calm. Whatever.

A truly baffling series of events follows. Anita tries to call Musette names but instead spouts off something about beauty, and how Musette is the fairest of them all, and Musette should wait for her presents so that they will be worthy of such loveliness. For a moment I thought perhaps Anita was finally developing some diplomacy but no, someone is literally putting words in her mouth through ventriloquism.

J.C. makes some fawning mewling sounds about how pretty Musette is, and Musette wonders about whether Anita's beauty is a rival to her own. Oh my god, even the thousand year old Barbie vampire thinks Anita is at least as pretty as she is. I'll give her a little bit of a pass because Anita is the MC, but really, since when are curvaceous short women with curly hair everyone's type? And how can you truly compare Musette and Anita in the looks department, when they're practically polar opposites?

Also wow, jerk it a little harder LKH. She's one step away from having hearts and rainbows come out of Anita's orifices.

Everyone grabs one another's ego-cocks and strokes firmly while discussing who in the room is the prettiest. Asher is beautiful! No he isn't, because scars! No, he totes is the prettiest!

Even Musette is sick of this shit and she tells them all to shut up. If your characters are so unlikable and stupid that I regularly sympathize with the villain, something has gone horribly wrong in your novel.

Musette tries to insult Anita by calling her plain, which is extra weird because she just implied that Anita is as pretty as she is. God this is interminable. It's like watching children argue about whose Cabbage Patch kid is the cutest. The fact that half of these people are vampires doesn't improve the content one bit. If anything, it's more ridiculous (vampire baseball, anyone?).

Anita thinks the "cardinal girl rule" is to never date anyone prettier than you.

They should teach these books in school because I can't think of a more textbook example of internalized misogyny.


Musette has been a vampire for centuries but she acts like she's been in a coma that entire time. Sure, I understand the idea here, that a high protocol vamp who doesn't get out much might be a tad bit formulaic and formal in her speech and responses. But it's just so inane. I'm reading a series with the subtitle Vampire Hunter, yet we are spending whole pages standing around posturing about physical beauty and who has the most toys. It's not interesting, it's flat out ridiculous. It can't even be called world building, because it's as shallow as a coffee ring.

A bunch of natter about why Meng Die (delicate and exotic Asian vampire anyone?) isn't J.C's second even though she's stronger than Asher, and how Meng Die is going to get her own city soon and blah blah blah. This is a tragedy, it really is. This stuff should be gripping but I am completely un-gripped. At this point in the series we should be ready to lap up whatever new vamp lore comes our way but there is nothing about these books that is pleasurable, let alone interesting.

MORE TALKING about whether Asher is fucking J.C., or J.C. and Anita, or whether Belle Morte is going to call Asher home, or whether he's going to stay in St. Louis and oh my god who cares. This is particularly egregious because I should care. I want to care. At this point--eleven books in!--I ought to be rooting for these characters and their relationships. And let me tell you, I love romance. Not the happily ever after kind really, but romance as a motivator is something I eat up with a spoon. But this? I actively hate Anita and her homophobia, the arrogance that makes her stand between J.C. and Asher. I agree with J.C. the most overall, but in this series that's really not saying a lot; I still hate him for how fucking spineless he is. Asher I could take or leave, and since the rest of the book is so shit his angst over his scars doesn't make me feel for him the way it should. So why do I care about any of this? Especially since Musette is just swanning around being a complete douchecanoe, making repeated references to J.C. and Asher's relationship, to Julianna's death, to Asher's scars, and of course no one but precious special Anita is doing fuck all about it. 

Though I'm always happy when I get to use the angry baby picture.

Musette worships Belle Morte to a creepy degree and can't see why Asher left, even though Belle Morte was "sickened" at the sight of him.

Musette "gave that Gallic shrug that meant everything and nothing." 

Beyond this being a meaningless sentence, it doesn't fit with the rest of Anita's character voice, if she can be said to have a voice at all. She's supposed to come across as this tough as nails animator, oh so practical and ruthless, yet she's popping off with words like Gallic? It's not that an author can't do that, but to synthesize it in to one character takes skill. And we all know the problem there.

Musette needles Asher and J.C. about not being together and Anita bluntly admits it's her DISGUSTING COMPLETELY UNJUSTIFIABLE homophobia keeping them apart. Someone explain something to me? WHAT THE FUCK DOES J.C. SEE IN THIS UNGRATEFUL, STUPID, STUBBORN, HOMOPHOBIC, MISOGYNIST, CLASSIST, JERK OFF? Why in the BLOODY FUCK is a master vampire letting this jumped up little sociopath dictate his life to this degree? Sure, the books always paint her as a hero that helps him when things get rough but if you look at her actions objectively, it's obvious that Anita's presence always makes a situation worse. He constantly has to clean up after her and she consistently makes an ass of herself. Where's the spark? Where's the magic? Why the FUCK are these people together?

Can we just have a book where Anita is written out and J.C. and Asher try to forge a new relationship after the loss of Julianna? Because that,  I might actually enjoy.

Turns out that because Asher isn't doing the naughty with either J.C. or Anita, he's fair game for Musette's guest gift, which basically means she can torture him to her heart's delight. Anita whines inwardly about how she's always being made to feel guilty about not fucking enough people. Shut up. You should feel guilty, Anita, because you have the fucking audacity to come in to a relationship established hundreds of years ago and dictate its terms based on your ridiculous backwards 'value system.' MEANWHILE APPARENTLY YOUR GOD IS JUST FINE WITH ALL THE MURDERING AND ZOMBIE RAISING YOU DO, yet you cling to the excuse that you were taught to be homophobic as a child? You utterly disgust me and if I were just reading this godawful series for fun I would have quit long ago.

Musette starts stabbing Asher and licking the blood because she can, I guess. And Anita? The vampire hunter? The Executioner? Acknowledges that she can't kill Musette and puts her gun away.

You have got to be fucking kidding me. Apparently she's still going to try something, but I don't get why she doesn't just empty a silver clip in to Musette's head.

Anita Blake vampire hunter, everyone. When she has the chance to use her gun she doesn't and when it would be the absolute wrong time to pull a firearm, guaranteed she will.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cerulean Sins Chapter 7

Dottie's breakdown here

"Musette stood by the white brick fireplace. It had to be her, because she was the only little blond Barbie doll in the room, and that was how Jason had described her. Jason had a lot of flaws, but describing a woman inaccurately was not one of them."

O...kay. I mean, that last line doesn't make any sense does it? I think it's one of those lines that sounds good at first, but when you're staring in to the fridge later wondering if you bought milk it hits you that it doesn't work on any level.

Despite Anita having already described Musette in a nice little package (what Western reader doesn't know what a goddamn Barbie doll looks like?) she goes on to natter about how Musette has blond hair but dark eyebrows, so maybe she dyed it or maybe it's real or maybe it's Maybeline.

Musette's pomme de sang is a "girl" of indeterminate age who is sitting at Musette's feet like "a pet." Be assured that Anita will be judge-y as fuck about this any second now even though she has several people enslaved through her magic woo woo vag powers. I really wish Anita would stop assuming that everyone she comes across that's fulfilling a subservient role doesn't want to be there. I'll give her the pass this time because Musette is supposedly a heartless murderer and maybe-pedophile with mind control powers, but in general Anita's gross oversimplification of BDSM dynamics continues to piss me right the fuck off.

There's some huge dude here with a long black braid and "dark" skin though in Anita's world being dark skinned means you "tan easily."

Everything and I mean everything in this room is either gold or white. If the descriptions had more life to them perhaps I would find this as amazing as it's clearly meant to be, but as it is I just wonder why no one has shot J.C.'s decorator yet. I mean, people have been shot for less in this series.

Musette and J.C. speak French at each other. J.C. explains Anita doesn't speak French but Anita can apparently understand it anyway, presumably thanks to her bond with J.C., so whatever. Musette switches to English but she has a heavy accent, despite most vampires doing away with theirs. Why? It makes no sense to me that vampires would all want to speak American broadcaster English. They're portrayed as arrogant and selfish creatures, and proud to a fault. Why would a vampire work to drop their accent for a short term visit? If anything a being convinced of its own supremacy would look down on others if they didn't have the same accent as they do.

We learn that Damien's maker is an abusive mistress named Moroven. Anita previously told us that this same vampire is a night hag, or able to feed off of fear. So, we can guess what Damien's life with her must have been like. Musette knows it too and torments him by asking questions about why Moroven would turn down a Council seat. Anita tells her to back off and Musette turns her attention to Anita.

Of course Musette is wearing high heels and sashays across the room, because all female villains in the Anita verse have to be conventionally feminine temptresses with the morals of a moray eel.

Remember the "dark" guy from the beginning of this chapter?

"The tall dark and scary man moved behind her like a shadow."

Anita also throws some shade about how obedient Musette's pomme de sang is because unless Anita herself is demanding such obedience, it's "yucky." 

J.C. presents Anita as his human servant and Musette digs at him about Julianna. Julianna was Asher's human servant, and she, J.C., and Asher were a happy little poly triad until Julianna was killed. It's a sore spot and Musette is going after it as hard as she can. You know, for a vampire she's not very subtle at this whole manipulation thing. Then again I guess she doesn't have much incentive to be subtle, if she thinks no one here will raise a hand against her.

Musette natters on about how Asher and J.C. must prefer dirty, dirty peasants. Anita laughs and tells her that's not an insult, because her family line has worked for everything they have and they're proud of it. Coming from Anita's mouth this just reads like some bullshit conservative thinker fantasy about how she's self made and no one ever gave her a hand up, despite having damn near every unearned advantage possible.

The reality is none of us are self made. Success always involves help from others. We all have more hands up than we realize. While the struggle belongs to us, and while we often have to accomplish parts of our journeys alone, the contributions of others always factor in. We're a collaborative species and we're at our best when we help each other.

Musette and Asher make dumbass comments about how Anita can't understand showing proper respect because she's American and Americans have never been ruled. It's not as if we're incapable of understanding a simple concept like noblesse oblige or what being a vassal means. It's not an excuse for Anita to act like an idiot. They're acting like she's missing the part of her brain that processes hierarchies.

Musette's scary shadow-like black servant is also like seven feet tall. Yeah, that's not problematic at all. I mean, Musette could certainly be a racist and choose her servants accordingly, but that is a level of nuance I don't think LKH is capable of. Oh, and his name is Angelito.

There's a picture of Asher as Cupid over the fireplace where the picture of Asher, J.C., and Julianna usually is. It's a depiction of Asher before he was scarred and he's eerily beautiful, naked on a bearskin rug. He has wings. This is seriously silly, but okay let's just go with it. Jean-Claude is in the picture too, as Psyche, and is wearing makeup. What? What is happening here?

These books take themselves way too seriously. This would be awesome if LKH just opened all the floodgates and let it be as weird and over the top and as grossly sexual as it wants to be. Instead we're stuck walking some kind of flaccid middle line that doesn't satisfy on any level.

Hey, kinda like sex with Anita huh? Amirite?

Turns out the picture is a present from Belle Morte.

They also have a present just for Asher, which is a picture of him naked standing by an anvil. All his scars are fresh in this one. This makes me think vampires are really in to awkward naked photo shoots with random objects. Is the next one going to be him riding one of those mechanical horse things they have outside of grocery stores while sucking a lollipop? Or maybe he'll be wearing a cowboy hat and chaps with the ass cut out while bending over a hay bale. Except he'll still have the big white wings from the Cupid picture because, well, it makes me laugh.

Anita gets a random memory of Asher being tortured and she and J.C. fall to the ground. Man, people fall down in these books a lot, don't they?