Wow, there’s Nothing On TV aka C-Spot Reviews: The Chained Heat Edition by Megan

Over the last few weeks, my reading increased in direct proportion to the number of cable shows’ season finales. Now that I’ve exhausted all the PVR’d episodes of various series I’ve been hoarding, I’ve started playing around with the “On Demand” selection of movies and series that was included with my cable package. Sadly, just because it’s “On Demand” doesn’t mean that it is “In Demand”.

One of the series I stumbled upon was Femme Fatales – which I thought could be interesting as I’m a big fan of the Noir genre. This anthology series is produced by Cinemax, which I didn’t discover until later is also known as Skinamax, and the first episode follows a Lindsey Lohan-like actress who’s sent to prison. Oh yeah, baby, Women in Prison. Once I picked my jaw up off the floor during the rather, uhm, vigorous sex scene between Lacey and her cellmate, Camille, I had a good laugh, seriously considered rewinding and was reminded of a few fanfic and lesfic stories. I know, I know – Women in Prison movies and pulp novels were exploitive, geared to push censor boundaries and titillate male audiences. But there are a few WiP lesfic stories that I loved – more for the absolute angst ridden melodrama than anything else (and, some hot smoldering sex behind bars). Once I thought about them, I just had to read them again. For research purposes of course.


Hard Times by Blayne Cooper From her days as Advocate in the fanfic world, I’ve always been a big fan of Blayne Cooper’s work. She has a wicked sense of humour with fast paced and imaginative plots and characters who stood out as vibrant, smart. Hard Times was one of the first “published” novels by Cooper that I read and I think it is an excellent example of successful transitioning from fanfic to publishing. Her humour is still there but there are more serious plot lines and I found the characters even more real and endearing than in her fanfic. Kellie Holloway is a privileged, self-destructive woman who ends up in prison after a drunken confrontation with the police ends in tragedy. Once there she meets Lorna Malachi, a woman who’s been incarcerated since she was a teen and has learned early how to toughen up and survive behind bars. An unlikely friendship (not really … since this is a pretty common trope in prison stories) develops and of course there’s a sizzling romance and at least one shower scene. Both main characters are flawed – making bad choices along the way and learning to deal with the consequences – but at the same time. If you haven’t read this one yet, I’d recommend it as a well written romance set in a not so typical setting .


Angel and Ice Trilogy by Susanne M Beck (Sword’n’Quill)
(Redemption, Retribution, Restitution)
Note: I read (and re-read) the fanfic versions of these books, and can’t tell you whether the published versions (issued in early 2000’s) have any major differences, editing, etc. According to Amazon, these books are still available in paper version, though the publishers that are listed are no longer in business. Fanfic versions can be found here: http://www.ausxip.com/fanfiction/r/redemption.html, www.ausxip.com/fanfiction/r/retribution.html , http://www.ausxip.com/fanfiction/r/restitution.html
Angst, romance, tragedy, deception, danger, corruption, noble sacrifices, soul mates (who are united, torn apart, reunited, torn apart and reunited again), scads of uber characters including a gang called The Amazons, lots of sex, lots of violence, an over the top plot that keeps getting more and more ridiculous, hilarious dialogue that makes the reader laugh out loud and a breathless florid narrative. I really shouldn’t … but I really love this story . This is a long series – in which the author seems to be having such a fun time telling the story from Angel’s perspective that she just doesn’t want to wrap things up and continues to throw up obstacles in the path of Angel and Ice’s quest for a Happily Ever After. And I had such a fun time reading it that I didn’t want it to end. Angel, who embodies her nickname, is convicted of killing her husband (but it was self defense as he beat and was about to rape her) and sent to The Bog to serve out her sentence. The Bog is a decrepit, corrupt and dangerous women’s prison full of gangs, crooked guards and …. lesbians. How could I not love this series? Once Angel has established herself as a person who can “get things” behind prison walls and settles in for what is going to be a long sentence, Ice returns. One of the most uber of uber characters, Ice is an assassin for the mob until she’s double-crossed and returned to prison where she resumes her leadership of the Amazons, a gang of self-appointed protectors of the innocent. Dark, brooding, stoic, noble and a total bad ass when it comes to fighting – of course she’s Angel’s soul mate. The first book focuses on Angel and Ice’s time in the Bog, the second follows them on the lam and the third continues as they deal with the aftermath of the second book. This series pretty much breaks the angst-o-meter, so be prepared to suspend your disbelief and enjoy.

Orange is the New Black
Based on a book by the same name, this is a standout new series produced and available through Netflix. I haven’t had a chance to watch any of Netflix’ other series, but they knocked this one out of the park. The actors, writing and production in this series are outstanding – something I wasn’t expecting from a company that doesn’t even have a channel on TV. The story follows Piper Chapman, a rather self-absorbed and entitled woman who ends up in prison for inadvertently being her ex’s mule in an international drug cartel. Chapman is a spoiled little rich girl, used to avoiding consequences and taking accountability for her words and actions and to say that she’s a fish out of water in prison is an understatement. Although she is the primary character in the series, I think Orange is the New Black shines through the ensemble cast. Unlike most series, each of the supporting characters back stories of how they ended up in prison is brilliantly portrayed – elevating what would normally be two dimensional, stereotypical background characters into fully developed and real women whose circumstances and choices led them to incarceration. Even better, as the series progressed, characters I liked, I learned to hate and those I hated I fell in love with. I started this series with almost no expectations – and finished it on the edge of my couch, devastated that I have to wait a year to find out what happens next.

Cheri’s Funk Reading List

As some of you already know, I’ve been feeling a bit off the past couple of months. When I’m in a funk, I reject most of the reading I should be doing for reading that I want to do. That means that reviews that I should have done are still waiting to be done. And I’m not sure when I’ll get all caught up because I’m still a bit funky.

Since my funk reading list tends to be only old favorites, I thought I’d share what made the list. There are a few other books on the list because they were selected as Books of the Month for the Mostly Lesfic Goodreads group or for Cocktail Hour.

Ok, here we go! These are not in any order because I can’t remember in what order I read them. Some of them have already been reviewed here so I provided links to the older reviews.

Open to Persuasion by Allie (CanadaBadGirl) – This is one of my favorite SVU fics. I think Allie aka CanadaBadGirl or CBG is a great storyteller and I’ve read everything she’s written in the Bad Girls fandom but I think there are other SVU fics that she’s done and she may also write for other fandoms. Not sure. This story not only has a very good depiction of a relationship between Alex and Olivia but two good cases. I highly recommend it. Andy and I also featured this one on an episode of Cocktail Hour and I reviewed it previously here. I haven’t read that review recently so who knows what I said…

My Lord by Mayt – This is a super long, super angst filled, and super good Conqueror fic. Are there some issues grammatically? Sure. Does it take away from the epic tale? Not at all. This is possibly the best Conqueror story I’ve ever read. There are a total of 7 books and some are better than others but, overall, just a great series. Be sure to keep a box of tissues nearby. Mayt has plenty of other fics available and a published series that starts out with Hesed by Maytee Aspuro Y Gonzalez

Snowbound by Queenfor4 – I came across this story awhile ago during a browsing of Calli’s Creations galleries of covers. I’m one of those people who will pick up a book because the cover grabs me… I had forgotten about it until Cari Hunter’s Snowbound was selected as the Mostly Lesfic book for May and it came up during my search. So I read it a couple of days ago. I very much enjoyed it! Megan Galagher is a homophobic mystery writer who ends up snowbound with a lesbian doctor, Randi Oakes. The unfolding of the story is good and the relationship building is good, too. I’d read it again and do recommend it. A nice Xena Uber. I also just noticed that UK reviewed the story here awhile ago so you should see what she had to say, too.

Snowbound by Cari Hunter – I just reviewed this one here.

Bonded by CBG – One of my very favorite stories in the Bad Girls fandom. CBG does angst like nobody’s business. She also has a very good grasp on the essence of the characters. A joy to read.

Biography & the sequel Plus Ca Change (or Ties That Bind) by CBG – Another favorite! AND this one has been published! You can find it under the name A Walk in the Rain by Alison Barnard. I grabbed the sample from Amazon to see if it started out differently and it appears to be exactly the same with the exception of changing the names of the characters that appeared in Bad Girls. I will, eventually, buy it to support the author but will probably wait until the next time I get the urge to read it. Shouldn’t be too long. Incognito also reviewed both of these stories here and here.

Reapers, Inc.- Brigit’s Cross by B. L. Newport – This was the April book of the month for the Mostly Lesfic group. We all agreed that it was pretty damn good. It’s the story of a newly dead woman who becomes a grim reaper. Initially, it was hard for me to get the image of Dead Like Me out of my head but as I got into it, it was definitely a good read. It’s the first in a series and you’ll probably want to pick up the second one just before you finish the first so you can move on. You’ll know if you want to continue by mid-book.

Soiled Dove by Brenda Adcock – I love westerns – especially westerns with brothels and whores. I didn’t really love this one but I didn’t dislike it either. It was ok. I enjoyed it mostly. I guess it just didn’t move me but it did give me a few hours of entertainment. I don’t not recommend it. You know what I mean?

The Road to Glory by Blayne Cooper & T. Novan – I’ve read this one before and enjoyed it but I enjoyed it even more the second time. I just love Cooper’s sense of humor and Novan’s ability to write angst and there’s lots of both here.

The Story of Me by Blayne Cooper – This short story is, in my opinion, fantastic. It’s classic Blayne Cooper. Stalkers, squirrels, and mishaps make this a very funny, well done romp.

None So Blind by LJ Maas – This is one of my very favorite romances of all time. It’s got the classic formula but Maas, I think, was a fabulous storyteller and I fell in love with both Torrey and Taylor. Yes, there are some issues – lots of flashbacks and many times when the lack of communication between the main characters makes you want to shake them violently – but I just don’t care. My dear friend, incognito, reviewed it here a long time ago so you can see what she had to say, too.

Balance of Forces: Toujour Ici by Ali Vali – I read this one for my appearance on Cocktail Hour with Andy and Ali Vali. It had been awhile since I read a book of Vali’s that I honestly enjoyed. I enjoyed this one. I don’t know if it was because it started out as an online fic – I love her old fan fic more than just about any book she’s put out – or if it’s just a good story, but I do recommend this one!

There were a few more but I can’t remember what they were. I’m still on the edges of the funk so who knows where that will take me!

Cobb Island by Advocate (Blayne Cooper)

Cobb Island is a book length Xena Uber that is really two stories in one. Blayne Cooper, writing as Advocate, introduces us to four modern day characters: Olivia Hazelwood, her teenaged brother Dougie, Kayla Redding, and her teenaged sister Marcy. While on a week’s vacation to a remote Redding family owned island in Virginia, Liv joins Kayla in the search for a long lost family history. Meanwhile, Dougie and Marcy debate taking their relationship to the next level. Sharing the main focus of the story with Liv and Kayla are Bridget Redding and her sister-in-law, Faylinn. Their tale takes place in the late 1600’s. I enjoyed these parts of the story the most.

As with the other works I’ve read by Blayne Cooper, Cobb Island is a tightly written piece. She weaves easily between Liv and Kayla, Dougie and Marcy, and Bridget and Faylinn. While this is a romance, it’s also a bit of a ghost story with paranormal activity, and throughout there’s plenty of humor to keep it light. There is intimacy and attempted rape, I don’t recall anything that would push this further than a PG rating.

http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/a/advocate_cobbisland.html

Echoes from the Mist by Advocate (Blayne Cooper)

Echoes from the Mist, another book length fic, is the follow up to Cobb Island. It continues the story of Kayla and Liv a few months after we leave them in first story. Lucky for us, we get to learn what happened to Bridget and Faylinn. Again, that was my favorite part. Marcy and Dougie are absent from this story, except for a cursory mention of them at the beginning when Cooper is reestablishing the relationships and histories of the characters for the readers who may be reading the sequel some time after Cobb Island.

I won’t give much away but I enjoyed the sequel as much as the first in the series, even more. The storyline involving Bridget and Faylinn was still tight but I was less satisfied with the rest of the story. Don’t get me wrong, the entire thing was good and kept my interest throughout, although I do admit to rushing through the Kayla/Liv portions to get to the Bridget/Faylinn ones. There were some mis-used words, like bath instead of bathe and breath instead of breathe, as well as some uses of Bridget or Faylinn when the author clearly meant to use Kayla or Liv. These things will happen in fan fiction but it seemed that perhaps Cooper didn’t have a beta read through the last few chapters because that’s when it happened several times. But, again, a reader will see those things when reading unpublished, on-line work. Hell, we see it in published books every now and again.

Echoes from the Mist is a bit more racy but still nothing more than what I would consider PG-13. Ok, now that I’m a mother, maybe PG – 15. And just like Cobb Island, I found myself laughing out loud several times.

If you read Cobb Island and enjoyed it, you’ll probably like the sequel even more. I did.

http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/a/advocate_echoesfromthemist.html

The Story of Me by Advocate aka Blayne Cooper

What is it with squirrels that make them move into uberish fan fiction storylines ? Don’t get me wrong I do love squirrels especially the chestnut coloured ones that we have in my neck of the woods, and I especially like the BadSquirrel – you know the pen that turned out my favourite online fic “Rumors”, but how come squirrels drop into storylines talking to themselves about the protagonist or too the protagonists? Ok so maybe it’s just Advocate that has this quirk with squirrels, but I still wonder why.

Should you be in need of a good laugh and you want a Larisa break you could go watch Randi our 5’11 ft., 32 years old, single and straight protagonist sitting on a bench telling two squirrels the story of her life, while she gathers courage to go nock on Mac’s door.

You might ask who Mac is, but I think that I’ll just let Randi tell you about her and easy you into her story of stalking and revenge, of Randi posing as Mac’s loving girlfriend for a family gathering and how this little fun playing around with people’s minds somehow blows up in Randi’s face.

I know that I’m not really telling you what this is all about, but I think this story deserves to be experienced without knowing exactly what to expect so that you’ll get the full benefit of the humour both in the dialog and storyline.

For those of you who want a touch of romance – never fear – this is humour and romance all in one story – “get two for the price of one” – I’ll say that’s an offer that you can’t refuse! This story is well written with a smooth storyline and a couple of lovable characters to keep you interested.

If you become attached to the squirrels you can pick up Advocate and T.Novans “The Road to Glory” where you’ll get a chance to meet them again, and should you just happen to like the intervention of wise little animals in a storyline you could chance a look in on a couple of turtles and their humans Sam and Cory in Carola “Ryûchan” Eriksson’s” “Ignorance is Bliss” and “It’s A Turtle Life”.

The Story of Me is also reviewed on this site by Incognito.

http://xenafiction.net/scrolls/advocate_tsom1.html

 

 

The Story of Me by Advocate (Blayne Cooper)

This is one of the wackiest stories I have ever read. It is the story of Randi and Mac. Randi has a long standing grudge, Mac has a recent one. The object of their “affections” is the same woman, so they join forces to face her at Mac’s family get together.

The characters are completely and utterly crazy but no less lovable. Blayne Cooper’s writing and exquisite sense of humor shines again. The length of this story is perfect, and it is a wonderful relaxing treat, and very recommended.