Follow-Up: Fun with Fat Shaming! (Part 1)

Sarcasm AND alliteration in the same headline. This is like my best blog day EVER.  Except there’s no flowchart.

I did a pie chart instead:

Fun with Fat-Shaming Pie Chart

A PIE chart — get it? HAHAHAHAHAHA!
DAMN, I’m good.

You had to know I was going to go there, so quit rolling your eyes at me. I couldn’t decide on a subliminal-message kind of color scheme, so I just went with hot pink for Girly Girl Power.

I do have a point, just shut up and keep reading.

MY POINT:

The blatant, nonsensical, unnecessary and utterly fucking ridiculous weight-shaming in Kate Angell’s Squeeze Play  provided a BIG FAT TARGET for my Darts of Mockery — and several people who read the review weren’t shy about borrowing my metaphorical projectiles (see below) or bringing their own to the party:

Storify: The Squeeze Play Twitter discussion

Technical note:

My infamous Darts of Mockery are stocked in three different styles:

  1. Wimpy little foam thingies with suction cups that don’t stick to anything, like the cheap Nerf darts my son bemoans.
  2. The middle-grade Velcro darts that stick if you “throw” them from three feet away, but don’t present a choking hazard for dogs of less than usual brain power.
  3. The big-boy, bad-ass, biker-bar, don’t-fuck-with-me darts with actual POINTS that may cause pain and will hopefully cause intellectual stimulation when aimed properly. You know, like at BOOKS, not authors.

I tend to use the don’t-fuck-with-me darts the most. No, really.

ANYWAY:

I decided I couldn’t let this latest episode of Piss-Me-Offery go without having a bit of light-hearted fun with it — but with some honest constructive criticism as well. I’m saving up all the snark for the group project following the lecture, so here’s the inaugural Insta-Love Online Seminar for Romance Writers:

Using Body Image as a Character Trait in Romance Writing

Fat girls with daddy issues always try harder

Now remember son, the fat girls with daddy issues always try harder.

Don’t. Go. There.

Ever.

The ONLY exception to this rule is making a character’s weight issues an integral part of the story. And that’s a trope that should be touched only by a very select few authors who have the sensitivity AND skills in characterization to make it work.

Helen Fielding did it brilliantly in Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Random Author, you are no Helen Fielding.

If you throw in references to pounds and sizes and scales and muffin-tops and Spanx, it’s going to come back and bite you in the ass. In more ways than one. (Was that snark? I made it a few paragraphs snark-free, didn’t I?)

It seems like a no-brainer equation to me:

Women come in all shapes and sizes.
+
Women are the ones buying and reading your books.

WHY would you take such a low-payoff gamble that is nearly guaranteed to alienate a significant number of your readers? Do the math. You’re not going to come out ahead.

And for the remaining readers who aren’t offended or annoyed, you risk kicking them out of their reading trance as they mentally grapple with the pounds:height:size ratios.

Case study: Squeeze Play by Kate Angell

While Stevie tipped the scale at one-thirty-six…
+
Her size sixes had evolved into tens and twelves
over the years, and the occasional fourteen.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I estimate that EVERY SINGLE READER will remove themselves from the story to calculate Stevie’s height knowing that she wears double-digit sizes at 136 pounds.

Don’t believe me? The official Answer According to Twitter was that Stevie is approximately three feet, four inches tall. EVERY contributor to that discussion, including me, put not just the fictional character into the equation, but herself as well.

And for what purpose? None. Nada. Nil. Null. After all that bullshit, there was no character change or growth. The weight-shaming was just a superficial and lazy and insulting attempt at defining a non-entity character. It didn’t matter. It doesn‘t matter.

It should never matter.

Fat Shaming - Twitter Discussion

But MOST IMPORTANTLY our lovability is
100% dependent on our dress size & # on scale #iwannapuke

And if you have your “hero” do the shaming….

You might as well just pack up and go the fuck home.

I made it to the end of Squeeze Play without noticeable damage to my Kindle, but I left little chunks of my brain behind whenever the dickhead “hero” offered his “blunt” and “honest” “advice.”

“Chocolate-covered strawberries are great comfort food.”

“Find comfort elsewhere.”

“Why all the concern?” His gaze darkened to jet, dropped to her breasts, then to her belly….

That crosses the line to MISOGYNY, and you’re out on two strikes.

Hey, Mr. Hero — you like it “blunt” and “honest”? Come over here so Betty and I  can give it to you straight:

"Sit down and stfu." - Betty White

STFU = Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

Thus endth the lesson for today.

Got it? Good. Because that shit is NON-NEGOTIABLE.

Now that the boring lecture is done…

Let’s move on to the Fun Group Project: Choose How You Lose!

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

If you’re joining this rant in progress, don’t miss the beginning and end of all this WTFery:

  1. World Series of Romance: Squeeze Play by Kate Angell
  2. Follow-Up: Fun with Fat Shaming! (Part 1)
  3. More Fun with Fat Shaming: Group Project!
  4. Even MORE Fun with Fat Shaming: The Low-Fat/No-Fat Edition!
  5. Final Round of Fun with Fat Shaming: The Guys

World Series of Romance: Squeeze Play by Kate Angell

Just so’s you know….

This started out as a One-Quote Review, and then four hours later I found myself in the throes of a Full Snark Bitchfest.

Shh! Mom's on the warpath!

You’re damn right I am. Also, if you give me
cake to relax, it better not be made of Ivory Soap.

If you read all the way to the end, you’ll see why.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Squeeze Play (Richmond Rogues Book 1) by Kate Angell

  • Title: Squeeze Play
  • Author: Kate Angell
  • Series: Richmond Rogues, Book 1
  • Genre(s): Contemporary
  • Publisher: First published June 2006 by Love Spell; re-released as self-pub ebook December 2011
  • Source: Amazon (99¢ ebook)
  • Length: 318 pages
  • Trope(s): Angsty Athlete, Flaky Heroine, Friends-to-Lovers, Big Misunderstanding(s), Dumped in Public, Rebound, Small Town, Plot Moppets, Weight-Shaming
  • Quick blurb: Big-league ballplayers return to hometown for charity bachelor auction.
  • Quick review: A lot of eye-rolling and some major ::HEADDESK::ing.
  • Grade: D

The first in a steamy new series of romances featuring a hunky baseball team and the sirens who challenge the players in the game of love.

I have two positive things to say about this book:

(1) It was only 99 cents.

(2) It wasn’t Sweet Jesus! Honey Dews! bad.

But it was close.

I know I shouldn’t judge an entire series by the first book, but since it had a multi-arc storyline, I figured one book was more than enough.

You don’t believe me, do you? DO YOU? Well, all I can say is READ THIS:

My nipples picked you out of the crowd.

Him: “Your first blow on my coffee turned me on.”
Her: “My nipples picked you out of the crowd.”

My first idea was to do this as a Rogues vs. McCoys box score, but I’m kind of charted-out for a while. So this is going to be a Heroines vs. Heroes play-by-play with color commentary instead.

The match-up:

  • Home: The Small-Town Girls — Jacy the Wacky Coffee Shop Owner, Stevie the Low-Self-Esteem Tomboy, and Natalie the Big City Slut Who Tries to Throw the Game.
  • Visitors: The Richmond Rogues — Pro baseball players, in town for a celebrity bachelor auction, known by their on-field nicknames of Risk, Zen/ Einstein, Shutout, Romeo, Chaser and Psycho. Collectively known as “The Bat Pack.” No, really.

The scouting report:

  • Small-Town Girls Jacy and Stevie have the home-field advantage, and they know the value of well-timed coffee-inspired innuendo-laden puns.
  • Richmond’s local-boys-done-good Risk and Shutout have history with and insider knowledge of their opponents, but mental trips down Memory Lane might weaken their defenses.
  • Natalie the Slut, unexpectedly called down from her big-city penthouse, may throw both teams off their game with her wild pitching and penchant for crowd-baiting.
  • Irrational jealousy resulting from big misunderstandings will dominate play, but players will also need to be prepared for numerous distractions from both sides of the bench in the form of cleavage- and/or ass-flashing and baseball-metaphor sexual propositions.

The pre-game show (aka the prologue):

Bottom of the ninth in Game Seven of the World Series – Rogues down one against Tampa Bay, two outs with a runner on third.

After whiffing a backdoor slider¹ and a curve, veteran hitter Risk Kincaid proves his nickname by — wait for it —  CALLING HIS SHOT (see image at right).

And of course he knocks it out of the park. But it’s not just any ol’ game-winning hit! It’s a homer to the left field bleachers aimed straight at the scantily-dressed and vividly-coiffed female fan who taunted him on the Jumbotron.

While the 80,000² Tampa Bay fans pout, cry and head out to riot in the streets, Risk makes nice with the reporters for his SportsCenter highlight reel:

“What about the girl with the pink hair?” someone asked.

“What about her?” he shot the question back.

“You nearly slammed the ball down her throat³.”

A corner of his mouth turned up slightly. “She needs to learn to duck.”

Classy, huh? But I suppose taking her head off with a line drive homer is better than yelling “TAG” in the middle of a rodeo bar.

¹ Yes, “backdoor slider.” Take a WILD guess where my dirty mind went with that one.

² Yes, EIGHTY THOUSAND fans. Which is very impressive, because the largest pro baseball venue (Dodgers Stadium) has a capacity of only 56,000. I thought maybe the anticipated crowds forced a cross-town move to the Ray-Jay, but that only seats 65,000. So it must have been a cross-country displacement to Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles.

³ Intentional or unintentional? You decide.

First inning (chapter one):

Oh, bloody HELL — I’m balking on the first pitch.

This stupid book has 13 chapters, and I don’t have the time or patience for extra innings. I have more angsty athletes to read about, dammit. I also have difficulty maintaining extended metaphors.

We’ll go with some obscure stats and random trivia instead.

Continue reading

Loving Lady Marcia by Kieran Kramer

Let’s be honest: It’s obvious this book was written and published JUST SO I COULD MAKE FUN OF IT.

  • Loving Lady Marcia by Kieran KramerTitle: Loving Lady Marcia
  • Author: Kieran Kramer
  • Series: House of Brady, Book 1
  • Genre(s): Historical (Regency – in theory, anyway)
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, August 2012
  • Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($7.99 ebook)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • Trope(s): Instalove, Ruined by a Rake, Reunited, Mistorical
  • Quick blurb: “Overnight, I went from debutante to bluestocking.”
  • Quick review: It’s pretty much what you’d expect from the title and blurb.
  • Grade: DNF

Being in love, she decided, was not for the fainthearted.

I made it to about 30 percent. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be (e.g., Lady Alexandra Bad), but it wasn’t good.

All the cover quotes for Kieran Kramer’s recent debut series featured a LOT of synonyms for fluff: Delectable. Frothy. Confection. Better than dessert. All those same words can easily be applied to this first installment in the House of Brady series.

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I KNOW it’s supposed to be goofy and irreverent.  But even a “confection” has to have some substance – the whipped cream is supposed to be a topping, not the main ingredient. The Tudor era offers an even better analogy — Henry VIII and his minions were extremely fond of intricate marzipan sculptures called “subtleties.”

Think of it this way:

Jersey Shore marshmallow peeps vs. Downton Abbey marshmallow peeps

Too many parodies and spoofs and homages and “inspired bys” rely on “SEE WHAT I DID THERE? HAHAHA!” neon signs and abandon the need for good storytelling. With Loving Lady Marcia, whatever attempt the author made at plotting and characterization is completely stifled by the painfully placed and phrased pop culture references.

And sometimes they’re even info-dumped with gratuitous Regency name-dropping for extra impressiveness!

A servant brought in a lovely tea tray, and her mother began the old, comforting ritual of pouring tea – Daddy’s favorite Irish blend – chatting all the while about Marcia’s siblings. Gregory enjoyed being a man-about-town but also worked with Daddy several days a week on house designs. Peter fancied himself a Corinthian and loitered around Tattersall’s and Gentleman Jackson’s with his friends. Janice had made her debut and presentation at Court several weeks before, and the whole household was at sixes and sevens attempting to keep up with all her gentleman callers; Robert was at home because he was between halves at Eton, and Cynthia was mad for Greek mythology and had asked Mama to call her Andromeda.

Yes, Lady Marcia calls her father “Daddy.” But it’s OK, because “she pronounced it the Gaelic way, Doddy.” But it’s NOT OK, because it’s distracting and extremely annoying. Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

Daddy told them how lovely his three girls were – almost as lovely as their mother….

ALSO: The family name of the House of Brady is Sherwood.

So you’ve obviously been waiting ever so patiently to learn if there’s a “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” in there somewhere, right? Almost, but not quite:

Marcia’s cheeks burned. “No one was in awe of me.”

“Really? Everyone was ‘Marcia, this. Marcia, that.’ And you didn’t discourage them.”

The exchange wasn’t even with Jan/Janice – it was dialogue between our heroine and her jealous former schoolmate.

Ready for a final bite of saccharine sweetness before the closing credits? No? Too bad, so sad. Suck it up, because here it comes:

But they shared a love for their family and a zest for life that bonded them through thick and thin.

Oh, BARF. And for crying out loud, don’t TELL me. SHOW me. Ugh.

Her Magic Touch by Sable Hunter – The Full Review

  • Her Magic Touch by Sable HunterTitle: Her Magic Touch
  • Author: Sable Hunter
  • Series: Hell Yeah! Book 3
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, Erotica
  • Publisher: Self-Published, October 2011
  • Purchase: Amazon, $4.99 (YES, I paid $ for it)
  • Tropes:  Insta-Love, Virgin Heroine, Cowboy Alpha Male, TSTL, Simile Sex
  • Quick blurb:Misogynistic daredevil asshole, paralyzed in a motocross accident, hires ugly voodoo priestess, who doesn’t know she’s really a guardian angel, to restore his manhood. Also, celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse makes a cameo appearance.
  • Quick review: Continuing Adventures in Epic Assholery and Virgin Sacrifice: In Which Sable Hunter Mistakes Misogyny for Romance
  • Grade: F

NOTE: I’m deleting the separate posts with my “read along” status updates because I was lazy and copy/pasted them into the full review…. And because I figured I should try to contain all the bitchiness within a smaller blogographical area. I’m leaving the Bad Sex roundup intact.

At the end of the Hell Yeah! Book 2 review, I mentioned that a few glimpses of the main characters of Book 3 made me cautiously optimistic that we would finally get a grown-up female worthy of being called a “heroine.”

I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

I also bitched and whined about the misogyny in the previous book, but Oh. Dear. God.

This was worse.

Therefore, I’m subtitling this review:

Continuing Adventures In Epic Assholery And Virgin Sacrifice: A Misogyny Manifesto

NOTE: For the purposes of this review, I’m defining “misogyny” as:

  • Infantilizing or otherwise demeaning and marginalizing women;
  • Inferring or stating outright that life without a man is not worth living;
  • Demonstrating double standards regarding male and female sexuality (e.g., manwhores rewarded with virgins);
  • Depicting assertive female characters as sluts;
  • Referring to female characters as “fresh meat”;
  • Repeatedly comparing female characters to abused or abandoned animals; AND/OR
  • Depicting a woman in premature labor serving coffee and doughnuts to lazy-ass men who are perfectly capable of getting the fucking coffee themselves.

It can be a little confusing, so here’s a handy dandy flowchart. Also available in printer-friendly PDF. It’s even color-coded for extra impressiveness! (Yes, I have a day job. Shut up and keep reading, and stop picking on me because I worked really hard on this and now you’re hurting my feelings.)

But wait, there’s more! In addition to the character inconsistencies, eye-rolling “coincidences” and inane detail we’ve come to expect, we also get a whole muddle of unnecessary paranormal nonsense – all of which completely distracted me from the Bad Sex. And of course that just sucked all the fun right out of this, officially making it the Absolute Worst Book I Have Ever Read.

(No, I have not read The Book That Shall Not Be Named, because I refuse to pay $10 for a crappy self-pubbed ebook. I only budget $5 for that sort of thing.)

Let’s get this over with – I need to cleanse my brain with… Something. Anything.

WARNING: This review/diatribe contains irrelevant analogies, bad sports metaphors, gratuitous musical interludes, self-indulgent run-on sentences (heh) and buckets of righteous indignation (it’s a manifesto, duh), with definite overtones of Mean Girl. It’s also very long, so I hope you brought snacks.

Read the full review at DearAuthor.com >>

Oh Dear God: Flaming Waves of Bliss and Hot Whipped Cream

Hell Yeah! Book 3 – The Bad Sex

No room for these apples and elevators and car engines and wild cherries and treasure houses and summer thunderstorms and banquets and wieners and homing devices and ancient pagan rhythms of life in the ridiculously over-long full review coming soon to Dear Author.

But of course these are too good not to share….. Number indicates Kindle location.

A few favorites:

Her Magic Touch by Sable Hunter

  • 2975: Ripples of pleasure sparkled from her vagina.
  • 2982: Waves of bliss flamed up from her vagina.
  • 3391: …the orgasm just burst upon her like a summer thunderstorm, raining down rivers of refreshing, engulfing pleasure.
  • 3539: …it was like his cock was a homing device and her hand was on a special mission.
  • 3574: …creating a fire that a thousand orgasms would never douse.
  • 3590: …it was like a high-speed elevator that had pushed upward and upward and upward finally being released and freefalling down in an extreme rush of blissful heat.
  • 4150: …sucked him in like quicksand – except this was like sinking into hot whipped cream.
  • 4335: …her knee resting right on top of his package. He just hoped she didn’t bear down hard and smash his wiener.
  • 4850: …getting her nekkid and primed for his loving.

Continue reading

Oh Dear God: Red Knight Rising by Alex Ironrod

An Open Letter to MLR Press:

Red Knight Rising by Alex Ironrod

Dear MLR Press:

(A) I will pay NINE DOLLARS for this only if you PROMISE to use my profits to hire someone who knows how to use use Photoshop. That is one of the WORST covers I have seen in a long time. I’d blame it on the designer, but I think the real punishment should be administered to the editor who approved that freakish mess of crap.

(B) Alex Ironrod. Ironrod. Alex IRONROD. Really? Are you trying to insult us?

Then again, after reading the blurb and the excerpt, maybe you are.

Good luck with that.

Thanks but no thanks,

Kelly


Continue reading