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

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?