Beauty and the Beast? Oh, Please.

WARNING: Rant ahead. Containing strong language, and much disgust.

Are you prepared? Yes? Then let’s go!

As you may know, Mac is a closet romance fan. Yes. Make all the jokes you want. Go ahead.

My tastes have always been closer to romance as a side-genre, but while going through dramatic times and wanting something of a lighter nature to distract me, I decided to give romance another chance. What better way than a Kindle Unlimited account on Amazon? And a Beauty and the Beast retelling? Heck yeah!

This is where I stumbled across this lovely gem: Beauty and the Beast by Angela Fattig.

Security…
Safety…
Fuck them and leave…
And the most important one…
Don’t give them your heart.
For both Shannon Taylor and Jareth Stein it’s been the same thing. Day after day, year after year.
Shannon Taylor knows all about hurt and betrayal. It’s something she never talks about. Not even her best friend knows.
High school is a very unkind place. Hell the whole childhood thing is Hell. Aren’t fathers supposed to love their children not hurt them?
Jareth Stein knows the secret of life. Leave them before they leave you.
That was the lesson his mother taught him all those years ago when she left him in the hands of his abusive father for another man. Never to be seen again.
In addition to the issues Jareth and Shannon face already; Jareth’s mom comes back with a message:
If you don’t give me what I want I will destroy you and everyone you love; starting with Shannon.

It sounded great. Abused hero and heroine, and dealing with resulting issues? My catnip. Plus, all wrapped up in some Beauty and the Beast? Hell yeah! Not to mention this, directly from Amazon!

50% of ebook sales will be donated to fight child abuse. So when you buy a copy for $2.99 you are doing your part to protect a child.
Thank you for your continued support.

A book like this couldn’t go wrong, right?

So, let’s start with the language. Fuck is the first word. Now, I’m no stranger to all the curses despite my proper Christian upbringing, but this book takes it a little far. No, make that a lot too far. It’s always cock or dick, ass, pussy, etc. That’s when you start to really wonder how big the author’s vocabulary is.

That’s mildly annoying, but I can live with it. The horrid grammar mistakes, too. Like this gem of dialogue!

“If I wanted to get you into bed, all I would need to do is come up to you and tell you I was ready to fuck.” He says this in a low and deep voice that has my insides turning to mush and my panties soaked.
“If,” I question breathlessly. I can’t believe I’m still playing this dangerous game because he’s right.
He smirks. “You know I want to fuck you,” he says, “How could you not. You were ogling a hole through my cock only moments ago.”
I huff and cross my arms over my chest. “I was not ogling your cock,” I say although we both know that’s a lie.
He laughs. “Well,” he questions raising a brow.
Frowning, I say, “Well what?”
“Wanna fuck,” he asks his voice dropping even more.

This charmer who doesn’t know what a question mark is? Jareth, our hero. Yes, named after that Jareth.

He moves fast and goes right for the sex, right after our heroine, Shannon, was having a panic attack, nonetheless. Oh, but don’t worry. That was cured the moment she saw Jareth’s magic dick, and ogled it. Because that works every single time.

After one magical night of passion after this chance meeting at a coffee shop, they part ways. And then Shannon wakes up alone in the hotel room and realizes that gasp! they didn’t use a condom.

foreshadowing

Then we move onto Chapter One. Where Jareth, (who’s an FBI agent! And a cop! Don’t ask me how.) meets up with Shannon again at a club. And guess what? She’s two months pregnant! Betcha didn’t see that coming! It was a complete and total shock!

Oh, and when Jareth sees her, in a tight red dress, we get treated to how his cock’s gone “hard as a fucking rock, my temper spiking.” Why? Well, because he wants her body to belong to him, of course.

Ah, can he get more charming? But since it was still Beauty and the Beast, supposedly, I let it slide.

And they finally learn each other’s names! How’s that for exciting? But Shannon’s trying to convince herself that she doesn’t need Jareth’s magic dick, so she gets angry and storms off.

Next chapter! POV switch again! This time, it’s our villains! Jareth’s mother, Jolene, and his stepfather that she abandoned him for, Jack. Surprise! These two are planning to blackmail Jareth out of some money. The plot is afoot! The scoundrels.

Jareth catches up to Shannon, and she can’t stay mad at him because he’s such a good kisser, and in no time, they’re having sex again. This girl has no spine. She just needed the magic dick that much, I guess.

I lost the ability to read through the rest of it again, because I already gave the awful thing back to the Amazon pits where it belongs, and there’s no way in hell I’m actually paying for it, so I shall continue without the rich, beautiful quotes I had hoped for.

So, there’s much of the sexytimes, which I’m in no position (har har) to criticize. But wait! What about the plot? Well, there’s something about protecting Shannon’s friend, Alicia, who suddenly turned out to be Jareth’s half-sister, for no reason at all. And some mob boss Jareth’s trying to stop. He and Shannon keep fighting, and he keeps being right. Because the man is always right, right?

And the day after they met up again, she’s telling him that she’s pregnant with his kid, and then he tells her all about his Certified Tragic Backstory. Sexual abuse by Daddy, in short, starting at five. When he was seven, he tried to tell Mommy, who told him he deserved it somehow. But he knew that was wrong.

NOW HOLD ON, JUST ONE FUCKING SECOND.

When abuse starts that young, does a child ever know that they don’t deserve it? I had my fair share of childhood drama, and, let me tell you, I was always sure I was the one doing the wrong thing. Mother is God in the eyes of a child. Besides, who opens up that easily? No abuse victim I’ve ever known.

Oh, and don’t worry, it gets better. Shannon’s all, “Oh, Jareth, I’m so sorry I called you an asshole! I wouldn’t have if I’d known!”

NONONONONONONO.

Nobody gets a license to be an asshole just because they were abused. We’re adults. We grow up, move on, and make the decision to change. None of us get a free ride because of our victim card. If someone’s being an asshole, it’s your duty to call them out on it, and not take that shit.

Oh, and then she’s like, “I’ll never look at you differently!” Oh, bullshit. She was already looking at him differently, which was why she was apologizing for calling him out on being the asshole that he is. And there they go, pitying each other so touchingly. Or sickeningly, in my case.

And then, we hear Shannon’s story (was that before or after they had more sex? I can’t remember), It started when she was five, too! Almost the same thing! Her Daddy was getting drunk, though, and her Mommy found out one time when Shannon was fighting him off as a teenager, so Mommy got killed, Daddy got to prison.

After more sex (including some tongue in the butt, complete with chocolate flavored lube!),

we arrive to Jareth’s mom threatening him and Shannon, your typical cheating misunderstanding. And then, somehow Shannon gets kidnapped, by this guy who turns out to be her half-brother! And, of course, he wants to rape her, too. She’s just that sexy, I guess. Even though we don’t even know what she does for a living! And her appearance is mentioned once! (Oh, I guess it’s because her magical Jareth-fixing hoo-ha tastes like peaches. That’s gotta be it. Because Jareth isn’t the only one to mention it.)

And don’t get me started on the sappy dialog. At one point, Shannon actually says something like, “From the moment I looked in your heavenly blue eyes, I loved you.” Oh, please. Does anyone actually talk like that?

So, to sum it up, Jareth’s a controlling asshole who gets away with it because it’s supposed to be sexy, and he keeps his victim card on hand. Shannon’s a weak, cardboard-cutout abuse victim who always needs the big strong man to save her from everything. Everything is made better by magical sex, and the villains know they’re villains, and take pride in it.

I’d lost all the respect I might have had for this book within the first couple chapters, I only finished it out of a savage need to hate something. I’m so sick of the Rape As A Backstory angle with women in books. Yes, we know rape is evil, thanks. We get the picture! But using it as a crutch to give your character an easy gateway to drama is just wrong. And please, the magic dick is not a miracle cure!

There’s so much NOPE throughout that book. There wasn’t even enough WTF-ery to make it funny! I can’t say I’ve ever come across a book that I dislike more, but I won’t be discouraged by this drivel.

But Tim Curry makes everything better.

On Dystopia

Let’s get into the fictional world a bit, okay? Okay.

So, dystopian fiction! So popular lately. The Hunger Games. Divergent. What have you. What’s all that stuff about?

Well, I’m here to tell you.

Just let me push my glasses up my nose, here. Have to get the right pretentious feel of the geek who knows so much more than everyone else, you know?

There. That’s better.

Anyway, my roommate absolutely loathes anything dystopian. I have a hard time understanding that. Sure, I’m not into the recent fad, but there are some really great dystopian stories out there. Anthem is one of my favorite examples. Harrison Bergeron. I love the way they make me think! So, this all lead me to write her a little mini-essay about dystopias, which I will shell out for you all, here.

Before you get any farther, no, I’m not talking about the new ones. They are not relevant to my rambling. I try to avoid them.

Once upon a time, in a Utah town not all that far away, Mac was in high school, and had the opportunity to specifically study fantasy and science fiction. For credit.

Oh, it was a magical time! Filled with some of the worst, and best, books she had ever read.

But that’s not the point. I digress. Again.

See, dystopia is an attempt to moderate the extremists. You know, those people with all their fancy ideas for how the world could be better. If we were all equal! If we all shared, and the government ran everything! If we didn’t let emotion control us! If we could all be pretty! If we could stop crimes before they happen by analyzing someone’s psyche!

The point of a dystopian story is to say, “Yes, but. . .” and take that utopia these people have imagined, and point out the flaws. Show people the awful truth behind the pretty lies.

Now, dystopias are downright depressing, usually. But they do make you think (or me, at least). It makes me open my eyes a little more to the world around me, and realize that things aren’t as bad as they could be. Not by a long shot!

I’d provide you guys with a list of my favorite dystopian books/movies/what have you, but I’m not a very good judge. That stuff and depression don’t really mix well together, sometimes. I tried, and I could only come up with three off the top of my head. I haven’t even read most of the greats. So I will duck my head back down, and shut up now.

Thanks for reading. You guys rock.

Beastly: A Book/Movie Comparison

Today, I thought I’d talk about one of my favorite modern day fairy tales. Alex Flinn’s Beastly, which had a movie made of it in 2011. And, well, let’s meet Beauty and the Beast!

In the book, we have Kyle Kingsbury. Gorgeous son of a famous NYC news anchor. Sure, his dad never talks to him, but he shuts up and deals with it. He knows he’s hot stuff, and looks down on everyone else. Doesn’t even notice a lot of people. One day, he pisses off a witch named Kendra, who transforms him into an all-out beast. Hair covering his whole body, no lips, big teeth, claws. A legit beast, he can’t go anywhere without people freaking out, and trying to kill him.

Disney's Beast

Yeah, that’s about right.

Playing opposite him, Linda Owens (Lindy for short). A plain redhead and literature enthusiast, at a private school on scholarship. Works part time to make sure the rent gets paid, because her dad’s an addict. Wears t-shirts and jeans all the time, her hair in a braid. Kyle himself describes her as a nobody.

The movie gives us Kyle Kingston. Running for the president of the high school Green Committee because he’s gorgeous and he knows it. That’s his whole campaign, with no beating around the bushes. One day pisses off a witch named Kendra (played by Mary-Kate Olsen), and she. . . gives him tattoos. And scars. And makes him bald. He is hideous.

Alex Pettyfer in Beastly makeup

Wait, what?

He falls for Lindy Taylor (played by the gorgeous Vanessa Hudgens). A scholarship student who knows how to look cute. Her hair is always perfect, and she cares about the environment, too, because she becomes the Green Committee’s treasurer. She loves Jujy Fruits and coffee from a little coffee shop in the city. She gives to the homeless. While walking down the street with her headphones on, she starts singing out loud. Isn’t she cute? And Kyle sees it, too. When a picture is taken with him and the gorgeous, cute Lindy, he can’t help but stare at her. And she even has a cell phone! Wow, she’s so poor!

Wait a second. . . .

Wait a second. . . .

So, Kyle is shut away in a house in Brooklyn (book). Or an apartment outside the city (movie). He spends time sulking, with only the maid and the blind tutor his father hired as company. He eventually agrees to let the tutor, Will, teach him, builds a greenhouse, starts calling himself Adrian, and grows roses (book). He stalks Lindy, going by the name Hunter (movie).

Due to circumstances made possible by Lindy’s addict father (in the book, he breaks into the house, in the movie, Kyle sees him kill someone), Adrian/Hunter gets Lindy to live with him, through blackmail. She’s angry, at first, but then they start talking face-to-face. So he invites her to take Will’s lessons with him. (Except in the movie, he only starts studying because she’s there. And then he builds a greenhouse and plants roses because she likes roses. Not because he does.)

Without going blow-by-blow for the rest of the differing plots, I’d like to say the movie is shallow. After all, it’s Hollywood. Nobody can be too ugly, right? Unfashionable doesn’t exist in a teen romance! And classic literature? Who’s into that stuff? A cute nerd would be into contemporary poetry, coffee, Jujy Fruits, music and saving the planet! Plus, the climax lost all of its muchness. Quite frankly, it’s disgusting, and ruined one of my favorite books.

This isn’t to say I have a problem with the actors. I thought they all did well, particularly Mary-Kate Olsen as Kendra and Neil Patrick Harris as Will. But the plot itself? It doesn’t get what Beastly is really about.

In short, when choosing between the two, go with the book. It’s much more rewarding.

Favorite Books: Beauty Queens

I am a huge fan of Libba Bray. The woman is hilarious, slightly morbid, and totally my type of person. Which is why it makes me sad when feminists everywhere
Beauty Queens Cover overlook Ms. Bray’s novel Beauty Queens as one of the greatest feminist novels out there.

What’s it about? The fifty contestants of the Miss Teen Dream beauty contest get in a plane crash and land on a deserted island. Not many survive. We have a feminist who wants to bring down the contest, a win-at-all-costs Indian Valley Girl, an African American pre-pre-Med student, a secret wild girl, a transvestite, a blonde, a lesbian former delinquent, a bi hard-of-hearing dancer, a pageant princess, and a couple of supporting girls. All have their own views. Their own problems they don’t want to discuss. And they’re all being forced, in one way or another, to follow what society expects of them.

But on this island, stripped of that society, they start to break those chains.

And of course, let’s not forget the Commercial Breaks. Or the very hot, very bodacious pirates with oiled pecs. Or the other things—agents, warlords, quicksand, psychedelic berries, volcanoes, guns, piranhas, maxi pads and hairspray. All brought to you with an abundance of satire by The Corporation, “Because Your Life Can Always Be Better.”

Whether or not you support modern feminism, this is a book I believe every chick ought to read. It’s a great lesson on what feminism should really be, besides being frakkin’ hilarious!

Soften Your Heart and Know God

A replica of the Christus statue, on display at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
A replica of the Christus statue, on display at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

With the semester starting up, that means Institute for us so-inclined Mormon people of college age. I’m taking two classes—one about the New Testament, the other focusing on the Book of Mormon (the weird Mormon bible). So, this means that I might be posting more religious stuff now and again.

Last week’s lesson in the Book of Mormon class focused a lot on how a hardness of heart meant receiving a lesser portion of the truth (aka, being deluded by pride, self-righteousness, etc). So, in order to know more of God and be open to His will, knowledge and so on, we should pray for our hearts to be softened. My teacher asked us to think about that for a minute.

In church on Sunday, we had a lesson on our personal relationships with God. After all, He is our literal father. The source of all knowledge. Why do we never just ask Him for answers? Do we ever listen to Him when He speaks to us? Who is He? The fire-and-brimstone God to be feared? Or the loving Father and Lord who cares about the silly things like our latest crush?

I know God is there. It’s never been much of a doubt in my mind. The only doubt has been in myself. I know, today, that He loves and cares about each one of us. He knows us personally, better than we know ourselves. He may not always give us what we want, but He gives us what we need. He wants us to be happy. And He wants us to know Him. And I can’t wait to see Him again face-to-face–this being of flesh and blood who loved all us idiots so much that He allowed His perfect son to suffer unimaginable agony for us.

I’m not a very good person, in my heart. I’ve never been tempted by sex or drugs (although I love rock’n’roll!). My pride is my greatest enemy. I judge others harshly, undeservingly. And when I’m proven wrong, I have never once asked for forgiveness. In my heart, I have few good things to say about my sister and mother. Because wrath is better than the forgiveness that would leave me open to mockery.

So,  for me, having a squishy heart might be nice sometimes—for the benefits of the fuller portion of the word—knowing and understanding more. But. . . I can’t allow that softness. It’s what I’ve fought against for too long.

Having a softer heart didn’t help anything! Love didn’t keep Mom from throwing a VCR at my head. It didn’t stop my sister from trying to beat me senseless. Sharing scriptures didn’t keep the house clean. Forgiveness didn’t make my sister choose a higher path. Crying never stopped the fighting. In my family, all you can get for those valiant efforts is labeled the fragile snowflake—the sensitive, whiny crybaby.

I separated myself from that girl. Yeah, she’s still there inside me, but I dosed her with chloroform, beat her half to death, and tied her in a corner. She won’t be making an appearance. I can’t let her. She’d ruin everything I’ve worked so hard for. Me. Mac. The shell of a girl-woman who is sadistic, twisted, sarcastic, antisocial, blunt, and confident.

And thus we see the dilemma—defeating Pride and becoming that version of me that I hate the most. Oh, what to do. I’ll sort it out eventually.

Classic Favorites: The Lord of the Rings

Poster

The first LOTR poster I ever saw.

For me, Lord of the Rings can be more commonly referred to as The One That Started It All. Before that, books meant little to me. Mostly because I was reading Babysitter’s Club at the time (and the Amish books that my mother sanctioned for me). But when the movie of Fellowship of the Ring came out, my dad fanboyed enough that he convinced my sister to go see it with him, first. And then he took me. It was love at first scene.

So, my daddy got me to read the books, and I had them all finished by the same time the next year, when Two Towers came out.

Lord of the Rings was my first obsession. I drew it, I acted it with my stuffed animals, I wrote it all over my dresser. Why? Unlike Harry Potter, which I got into shortly after, my sister and my mother didn’t like it. It was a Me And Daddy thing. It opened up a huge door for my imagination. A gateway to a new, previously inconceivable world of magic and adventure. It was dreaming about Lord of the Rings characters that got me to start writing in the first place.

Through my love of Lord of the Rings, I started to eventually expand my horizons. Other fantasy. Dragonlance. The Belgariad. Turning anywhere for a new source of this fantasy world my mother was so certain was evil.

Eventually, I developed other obsessions. Harry Potter. The Belgariad and Dragonlance. Dean Koontz. And Lord of the Rings—the original—faded into the background. My obsession with it was too much—too intense. For, when it came to Lord of the Rings, I would have to sit and watch the movies without allowing anything to interrupt. And after it was over, I’d be lost in the thought of it. Maybe because I was reminded of my original, childish obsession with it. Or maybe because it’s still–and will always be–the One Fandom To Rule Them All.

So, I usually studiously avoid it, lest I once more be pulled into that black hole of fandom worship. But it’s hard, sometimes. Like with the Hobbit movies being in theaters. After watching An Unexpected Journey (midnight showing, of course), I spent the entire next day moping around in an obsessive haze. The same with Desolation of Smaug, just a few weeks ago. And now, here I am, watching Fellowship of the Ring again with my roommate who’s never seen them. And what am I doing? Not working on my own writing. Just writing about my deep and abiding love of Lord of the Rings.

And I’m falling in love all over again.

Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep CoverAs a college-aged chick who hasn’t started school and quit her job at the call center she was working at, I don’t have much money to play around with. Which is why I was grateful when a dear friend bought me no book other than the new Stephen King novel I had been salivating over, Doctor Sleep. It’s the sequel to The Shining, focusing on Danny Torrance as an adult. And it is wonderful. The fabulous Mr. King has done it again. It took a lot of willpower just to put it down for a few hours.

The book opens not long after the incidents at the Overlook, and we find Danny is still being haunted by some of its citizens. Dick Hallorann to the rescue, telling Danny one day he would be teaching someone, himself.

Grown-up Dan Torrance is not a pretty picture. A drunk who’s run his life into the ground, can’t hold a job for long, and is constantly drifting from town to town. Why drink? It shuts up the shining. But eventually it got to the point where I could stop whining in sympathetic misery, because he got to a town where he was employed by a former alcoholic himself, who became his sponsor, and got him into AA.

The villains, the True Knot, are basically Shining Vampires (not sparkly ones, because this is Stephen King we’re talking about, and we would never muck his image with such filth). They trek around the country, finding children who shine, and torturing them to death so they can suck up their essence (they call it steam)–their vitae (Amnesia: The Dark Descent called it that). It makes them younger, so they can live forever.

Abra Stone, the girl destined to be Dan’s student, is the shiningest shining kid who ever shone. She telepathically contacted him when she was a baby, at which age she also knew about 9/11 before it happened. So, of course, the True Knot wants her. And she and Dan have to stop them (play dramatic chords).

Not very many writers I’ve seen can go back to a standalone novel after a few years and churn out a sequel without ruining everything. But King did it well. As a fan of the first book, which I read in middle school, I don’t think it disappoints, keeping up all the delightful chills. It hurt to see Danny (or Dan, now that he’s All Grown Up) had become an alcoholic, but it was good to see him not following in Jack’s footsteps.

Also, there are plenty of references to the original. Those little things tend to make me happy. Little quotes repeated in that way King has that puts me in absolute awe of his style.

Basically, if you’re a fan of The Shining (here meaning the book), Doctor Sleep is a fantastic must-read.