Book Review: The Woman Who Sparked the Greatest Sex Scandal of All Time

Super Bowl Sunday has come and gone, with Seattle the victors and a very disappointed Denver in its wake. February also brings with it a reminder of romance for the lovers out there, as well as another book for me to review. Today I will be reviewing an Eli Yaakunah novel. You can find her on Facebook.

scandalImagine a not-so-distant future, when the media conglomerates are no more, replaced by an ever-present “Agency” that possess the unchecked monopoly of not only disseminating the news, but that creates and scripts the world’s realities, from sports, local news, and even elections the world over. Welcome to the world of your protagonist, Ishtar Benten, a young woman in the employ of the Agency, who is promoted to Scriptwriter, and discovers that in her, and her fellow “god’s” hands are held the (mis)fortune of the world.

The Woman Who Sparked the Greatest Sex Scandal of All Time is her story. What resonates is the idea of a pervasive all-powerful organization, that controls what we are told and believe. The concept is not too far out of the realm of possibilities when one considers the intrusiveness of Government, (CIA, FBI, NSA), and the idea that only a few select – the wealthy and powerful – are truly in control of our destinies, only furnishing the illusion that we have a voice in our world.

The novel is narrated by Ishtar, who specializes in news stories with sexual undertones. As such, the reader is treated to several highly suggestive and graphic scenes of sex, and of violence. Many scenes come straight from her imagination, others are seen as she engages another for a passionate round of intimacy.

The story begins to gel when it becomes clear the Ishtar is beginning to question the morality and ethics of her workplace. The novel is a journey of discovery, not only of the environment around her, the characters in it, and the greater truth that lies beneath the woven tapestry that she helped fabricate, but also a personal one, where she must surrender herself quietly to the role assigned to her, or rebel against the authorities, and likely forfeit her job, and possibly her life.

The greater story is well told, and after wading through several chapters, does manage to grasp the reader. What I had trouble with was the attempt at creating a sensual image during the erotic parts of the stories. That, I feel, failed because it became labored with too many words attempting to conjure an image that is at once provocative and sexual. This is an instance where less would have been more.

Instead of allowing the reader to create the imagined dalliance, the writer tried to impose their idea of the protagonist’s sexual exploits down to the minute detail. What I found was a story that begged me to put it on the nightstand and forget it, which would have been a shame, since the story proper was actually quite good.

Understand, I am not a big fan of romance and/or erotica, so my review may be suspect. What I can say is that while I liked the story of the Agency, the erotica left me in want of something better, something more cohesive. The sex pushed me out of the story instead of enticing me in. As such, it felt clumsy, the transitions between the graphic sex scenes were not smooth, and I didn’t get hooked into the story until very late, long after I would have given up trying to read the book had I not agreed to review it.

In the end, I found the book to be a mixed-bag. I cannot assign a simple good or bad grade on it, so I’m left to flip-flop a bit and say “it’s good, but it has some problems.” Thus, I will not recommend this book to read, unless you are a fan of the genre, which is a shame. The book had promise of being a lot better than I found it, but that’s just this reader’s opinion.

List of Book Reviews
Next Review – Solid Rock
Previous Review – Crimson Return

The link between books, STD’s and really bad jokes

Here’s a news story out of WPXI Pittsburgh.

Herpes virus found on library copies of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

If you haven’t read the news story, please do so. I’ll wait.

Are you done? Great! After reading the article, all sorts of horrible jokes came to mind. Instead of my usual post, I decided to post those jokes. Read at your own risk. I’ve never been described as a comedic genius. You’ve been warned.

Here are my jokes about reading library copies of Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey (Photo credit: ellebnere)

  1. The only book I know of that wearing a hand condoms (rubber gloves) is recommended. Actual condoms may not be a bad idea, either. Practice safe reading.
  2. It’s not only that book, but think about all the other people who have been with that book. That’s how many extended partners you’ve been with.
  3. That book has gotten around more than my ex’s. (I warned you that they weren’t funny. They’re also tactless and bitter.)
  4. Try explaining to your husband of wife that you got herpes from reading a book. “Yeah, right! Skank!”
  5. When you go get tested, and they ask how many partners you had, you put x (where x = the number of sexual partners you’ve had) + Fifty Shades of Grey.
  6. The CDC is debating whether or not to quarantine libraries that have FSoG in their inventory.
  7. Book burning is no longer an option. It must be treated as Hazardous Material (HazMat).
  8. Have you opened up the book and gotten a whiff of the smell of a good book, and something else that you can’t quite figure out? Now you know. And now you want to take a bath. With bleach.
  9. When you borrow FSoG from the library, it comes with a free prescription for Valtrex.
  10. That damned book is getting more action than I am. That’s not a joke. It’s just sad. But it’s also a little bit funny.
  11. I need to read the book, but I need a virgin copy. Pun indeed intended.
  12. If you discuss this book in a book club, could that be considered an orgy?

I think it’s safe to say that I will not become a comedy writer anytime soon. The only thing I can be sure is that I amused myself. I guess that means you all are on your own.

Book Review: Winter Howl

This is the third monthly installment of Book Reviews. This month I’ll be reviewing a novel by my friend, Aurelia T. Evans. Being that she is someone I know, I risked not being able to be completely impartial, so from here on out, I will not do a review for a book from an author I know. As for Aurelia, you can find her on WordPress or on Facebook.

© 2012 Posh Gosh

© 2012 Posh Gosh

For this month’s book review, I have selected an erotic novel, Winter Howl by Aurelia T. Evans. Let me be totally honest and say that erotic fiction is not a genre I’m all too familiar with, but be that as it may, I jumped right in, and quickly took a quick cold shower. Who knew erotica meant sex? Okay, I did, but still…wow!

The story follows Renee Chambers, proprietor of a no-kill dog sanctuary nestled on the borders of Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin. The sanctuary, founded by her parents, is a shelter where all dogs, except those of a violent disposition, are accepted, and cared for. They also created an adoption program to help find loving homes for their charges.

What they didn’t expect was to find themselves playing host to guests of a different nature. Renee stumbled onto another world when she found a puppy who shifted from a wolf-like dog into a young girl, around the same age as Renee. The family took her in, not knowing what to do about the fact that they had canine shape-shifters in their midst. Ultimately, they came to an agreement; that they could stay, as long as they helped out with the care of the sanctuary.

Many years, later, after the deaths of her parents, Renee is now in charge, helped out by an unlikely group of shape-shifters, all who live on the ground unanimously. Her best friend, Britt, who happens to be the young pup that introduced the family to the shape-shifting world, lives in the house, along with her boyfriend and a few others that provide help in return for a place to live.

However, it is Renee that is the focal point of the narrative. Renee is an agoraphobe, – from the Greek αγορά meaning gathering place or market; and φόβος/φοβία, -phobia or fear – and has trouble going out in public, relying on Britt, who assumes a role as a service dog.

Her social anxiety has manifested in such a way that she rarely interacts with people off her property, and it has led to a de facto celibate lifestyle. The shape-shifters, Britt included, live with a different set of moral and ethical behaviors, including sexually, and Britt helps Renee develop healthy bonds with people, including slowly introducing her into the joys of sex.

This is all disturbed by the appearance of Grant, who turns out to be a werewolf. Werewolves and shape-shifters are natural enemies, and the enmity is evident as soon as Grant arrives. Renee, as owner and executive of the sanctuary, has the ultimate say as to whether Grant stays or leaves. Opting to give him a chance, it is through him that Renee experiences her first, true taste of sexuality, raw, over-powering, uninhibited. Through him, she relinquishes control, much to the dismay of Britt and the rest of the shape-shifters in her care.

At first glace, I thought this book was primary a sex novel, tawdry, cheap, but still highly arousing. What I missed, but soon realized to my satisfaction, is that the story is actually a look into the group dynamics of an insular group. It also illuminates the struggles of a person suffering from an anxiety disorder. (Geek side note: Sometimes it’s diagnosed as a feature of a Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia (300.21 DSM-IV), but can also be diagnosed as Agoraphobia Without History of Panic Disorder (300.22 DSM-IV-TR). Note: There is a fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-V 2013, but I’m unable at the moment to locate a copy.)

It’s fascinating because you can gauge the internal struggle our heroine faces as she tries to live her daily life, and as she takes the first tentative steps into sexually intimate relationship, first with Britt, and then with Grant. There’s also the dynamic between the core group of and the outsider.

It begs the question, why would a woman like Renee, who is quiet and reserved and is not one to take undue risk, go for a man like Grant? Why would she abandon control, giving it over to someone who is obviously dangerous, and quite possibly homicidal? Then there’s the helplessness and betrayal that is felt by the core pack on the sanctuary, especially Britt, who looks to Renee as both a friend and a lover.

It’s easy to dismiss the book as solely a sex novel, but it’s so much more. The book is about the dynamics of a woman and the company she keeps. It’s about how a person suffering from anxiety tries to cope, wanting to gain more from life as she yearns to break free from the prison of her safe little world within, and discover the world without, in spite of the costs and the risks.

Looking at it from that perspective, the use of sex is not gratuitous but a deliberate vehicle to push the bounds of our character. The loss of innocence/virginity is seen as a rite of passage in our society, and in exploring that side of her womanhood, she discovers a little more about herself, and those around her. 

Aurelia does such an amazing job weaving her story that it’s easy to overlook what really is at stake. What are we willing to sacrifice in order to live our lives? What are we willing to lose in the pursuit of interpersonal contact, including and especially that of an intimate nature? Why does it seem that we are willing to risk our safety to be with someone who is an obvious threat when there is someone closer to home, one who is infinitely more wholesome and a better fit?

My verdict? I recommend this book, as long as you are not puritanical in nature. It is well written, well thought out, and leaves you anxious as to what will happen next. And the straight and lesbian sex is nice as well. It’s definitely a good read. Check it out on Amazon!

List of Book Reviews
August’s Review – Minutes Before Sunset
June’s Review – The Last Death of Tev Chrisini
Winter Howl © 2012 Aurelia T. Evans
© 2013 Joe Hinojosa