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The Ghost of Hot Relationships That Never Were

9 Apr

by Madeline Iva

Watching a scene in a movie, or an episode of a TV show I’m like that kid from the Sixth Sense–but instead of dead poeple I see whole story lines that aren’t actually there.  It haunts me day in and day out. Don’t get me wrong. We’re lucky to have so many interesting stories out on TV and in movies.  I’m enjoying them; I’m reveling in them.  Yet I also see a lot of hot-boinking-that-should-be-there-but-isn’t.  To you they’re invisible–but they haunt me. Is this a blessing? Or is it a curse? <Cue the spooky music.>

There are just so many good shows in which the hotness factor between characters should be invoked.  Let’s seance with this sad spectre–the Ghost of Hot Relationships That Never Were as it wanders down the corridors of Untold Passion & Secret Scandalous Hook Ups.

MASSIVE MASSIVE MASSIVE SPOILERS!!!!!!! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!!!!

Black Panther:

Michael B. Jordan played Erik Killmonger in Black Panther. Out of all the villains in Marvel Universe why did they kill off this one? Whyyyyyyyy? WHAT ON EARTH WERE THEY THINKING? Don’t they see the Loki potential here? With his ripped body, damned attractive face, and awwwwww story of heartbreak and loss as a young boy–it’s killing me. (Pun intended.)

The hint of dimples is what truly slays me.

Eric Killmonger is that Loki-ish anti-hero we lurv, no matter how many times he’s got “Kill Whitey” tattooed all over his body. (He doesn’t really. Just kidding. But you get the idea.) His character would draw everyone back movie after movie, sequel after sequel.  Someone go to the bottom of that waterfall and fish him out. Revive and rehabilitate that bad boy STAT!

While Hollywood is at it, I think you’ll agree hands down that Erik needs to get together with Okoye, AKA Danai Gurira AKA Michonne from Walking Dead.  Erik is hotness on a stick.  Okoye is the woman all humans bow down to.  I mean–did you see the movie? Yeah? Then you get it.  The movie would have been more realistic to me if Okoye had straightened Erik’s sh*t out in about ten minutes. Danai

Okoye needs to become Queen of Wakanda too, btw.  Ramonda, played by Angela Bassett may be worthy of ruling as well, and I didn’t have any problems with our super-hero, Black Panther. He was cute–incredibly cute.  He has a real “goodness to the core” super-hero vibe.  It’s just that clearly he needs to be out and about in the world.  His job is international.  But back home in Wakanda, Okoye is queen material.  She’s the f**king bad ass leader of all leaders.  Just calling it like it is, people.  As for Ramonda–well, see below.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: AKA Heather-Heather-Heather AKA Vella Lovell

I mean, I really like CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND overall.  Rebecca Bunch obsessively crushes out on a former flame named Josh, and goes to cray-cray stalker extremes often urged onward by our twisted societal values about a women’s worth.  But Heather, Rebecca’s neighbor-then-roommate is her polar opposite.  Tall, goy, hot and slacker-ish, Heather is instantly compelling to watch. With her vocal fry, colored hair extensions, and community college scholar wisdom she is the one I obsess over in this show.  Yes, I have a massive girl crush on Heather — and the actress who plays her recently expanded her career to movies.  She was probably the best thing in THE BIG SICK.  (And the writers of the BIG SICK should make a follow up about her character story. Can you say another Smart Indian Girl Rom-Com? Squeeeeee! Hasn’t anyone in Hollywood watched Bend It Like Beckam?)

Anyway Heather and Hector are now together in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.   Hector always was cute, if a bit oedipal, but he doesn’t get much face time on the show. We all know the two of them hooking up is really just an excuse to give us more Heather.

Though White Josh and Josh in the stripper scene were giving Nathaniel a run for his money,  Nathaniel’s character is pretty appealing.  The more he was into Rebekah, the more I was into him.  But clearly, he and Heather should be together.  They both are seemingly shallow but really good people with unexpected depths. They are both extremely sane despite recognizing their perverse impulses.  They are both vulnerable to romantic situations in which they’re being used.  I’m asking nicely— could they PLEAAAAAASE get together? Pretty please? And I mean really get together in a complicated, sweaty, guilty, dirty way — the way that Rebecca tends to get together with men on the show?

She’s just using you, Nathaniel. Can’t you see that?

If they can’t, I will totally accept Father Brah, played by Rene Gube as a Heather-Love-Interest substitute.  That guy is totally under-utilized in terms of hotness. Wasted actually.

BTW — did you expect Crazy-Ex to really go there with serious mental health issues? I didn’t. I’m pretty impressed. And making Rebecca the poster girl for BPD — whoa.  That mental disorder does not get a lot of sympathetic play.  So thumb’s up Crazy-Ex Girlfriend for going there, staying there, and then doing a song and dance number there.

The Good Place — This show is not for everyone, but I get off on weighing utilitarian counterfactuals against Kantian ethical theory.  The show is about someone mistakenly sent to heaven.  My version of heaven is Jianyu played by Manny Jacinto. Manny is divine. Manny and Kristen Bell would be too cute together as a couple.  Manny and Tiya Sircar would be too cute too.  I mean, can Jianyu just have his own spin off show next year? Something where yes, we see his cuteness factor, but also the other hot never-see-him-coming facets as well?

Meanwhile, I very much appreciate Elinor’s girl crush Tahani played by Jameela Jamil.  Tahani with her Amazonian posh presence gains a wonderful edge from Elinor’s girl-lust-crush.  If the creators of the show wanted to take relationships in that direction, I, as a fan, would happily follow.  Just sayin’.

Before I sign off though, let’s talk steam heat in terms of romance with age difference —

First of all, I would like to advocate for Angela Basset’s character Ramonda having a thing with M’Baku when she gets dropped off at M’Baku’s land.  M’Baku is played by Winston Duke, a 6′ 4″ drink of beef water.  He’s a wee bit Alpha for my taste — but even so…even so. His character has an unexpected sense of humor that slays.M'Baku

And I don’t care who you are, if Ramonda gets dropped off in your kingdom and you’re made to promise to protect her and make sure she’s “taken care of” –I mean, seriously, how could your mind not go there? It’s Angela Bassett, people. It doesn’t matter how old she gets. I think I spent the next fifteen minutes of the movie not hearing or seeing anything on the screen.  Instead I was still back at the toothy gorilla lair with M’Baku and Ramonda imagining how their forbidden sexual tryst would come about.  These moments are so obvious to me–am I the only one? Is anyone else seeing the possibilities here?

Back at The Good Place I also noticed that Tahani has fabulous chemistry with Michael, played by Ted Danson.  Yes, he’s like in his seventies or something, but still–they’re both dapper dressers.  In fact, they are too attractively tall together not to have hot sex/romance.   Maybe they seem to connect because they’re the only two tall enough to look each other in the eye.  Maybe it’s something more.  But I think they should work it.  Torture Tahani with the tantalizing promise of a ‘daddy’ relationship figure that goes to a naughty places.  Let us live a little.The Good Place

The Upshot: Hollywood is having outstanding success with greater casting diversity.  At last.  Finally! Bravo. (The horror that’s going on behind the screens –that’s another blog post). Let’s all urge them to keep heading further in this direction.  Despite hot (and I mean that in more ways than one)  new talent, the boink factor is suffering.

There’s chemistry going on here, people!  My mind is a-buzz with all the variations and combinations to explore — I want jealousy and lust.  I want tenderness and taut sexual tension.  I also want some light kinky elements–is this too much to ask? I don’t think it is.

What relationships do you wish you were seeing in movies/tv shows that you love? Please sound off below.

Madeline Iva enjoys penning stories about reclusive guys with dark secrets in mouldering castles.  If you like your gothic gloom with a perverse twist join her cult following newsletter.

 

 

 

 

 

The Science Behind Dark Gothic Feels

12 Mar

by Madeline Iva

Hello lovely people! How are you? I’m pretty obsessed these days with one thing and one thing only: dark, gothic feels.  I like all aspects of suspense–preferably set in intriguingly gloomy surroundings, and chock full of complex, morally ambiguous or hard to read characters.  I love how gothic reads make the heart race from a pinch of fear, a heaping amount of romantic tension, and a bit pit of secrets. But that obsession has branched off into more basic question: If you’re feeling a bodily reaction to someone — is the other person feeling it too? This is often an underlying question in gothic romance, where Things Must Not Be Said.  But how can we not question this in the times we’re living in?

I’ve had moments in the past where suddenly out of the blue, my radar begins pinging around someone.  I’ve later found out that the other person was *really* into me at the time.  Because of that, I’ve come to trust my inner radar–and my advice to friends is always: if you’re feeling it, it’s cause there’s something there.

Of course, I always add, the knowledge may not do you any good whatsoever.  Most of us are not ruled by our heart or groin.  With most of us, our head is firmly in charge. There can be multiple reasons–exponential reasons even–why the guy or girl in question may decide not act or want to act on the vibe between you.  They may be committed elsewhere, they may think that despite chemistry you’re a dork, or crazy, or difficult, or for whatever reason you just don’t match (either inwardly or outwardly) what their head requires in a date, mate, or f*ckbuddy.  😦  And they may deny that there is any chemistry at all if you try to initiate something.  SEE BELOW.)  The last thing you want to do is start off a conversation asking for an admission that ‘there’s something going on between us.’  Trust me, more than half the time that conversation is not going to go well.

But am I even right that if you’re feeling it, then the other person is too?  Science has been bending the microscope towards this question as well, and so far the answers are hacking big chunks out of my theory.  For one thing — if you present a sense of danger and even mild stimulants, it will raise levels of sexual attraction in men. (Artificially?)

The Science of How Thrills Leading To Feels: the article below from Scientific American reveals how men are much more likely to risk engaging with an attractive woman out if they are near a high suspended bridge and have had a major shot of caffeine.

How We Misinterpret Emotional Arousal

In fact, both men and women are very susceptible to mixing signals of danger for emotional feels towards another person.  The TED talk below explores the dangers of SSRI’s like Prozac in our society — because they inhibit dopamine.  Without dopamine, we have a hard time feeling attraction, or falling in love.  But we also get a dopamine rush from a sense of thrilling adventure, or danger.

The Brain In Love

And finally, science is starting to reveal that as more men and women feel it’s acceptable to form mixed gender relationships, a very high proportion of men assume that at the core of the friendship is a mutual attraction for each other that is being deferred for some reason–like one of them is in a committed relationship.  Women however, do not report similar assumptions at anywhere near the same rate.  They see the guy friends more often than not as “just friends” and there is no attraction on their part.

Dubious Aspects of Cross-Gender Friendships

What can we understand from these limited studies?

The bad news: just having a vibe around someone all of a sudden is not definitive proof that they’re feeling something too–even just sexual chemistry.  One hopes that men all across the world will take this message to heart and that many of them who do assume this will immediately stop being creeps.

The good news: men are REALLY susceptible to having feels for women they’re around. If you *are* feeling something for a cis-man, and you’re a woman–the chances are pretty high he could be feeling it too. Again–he may not want to do anything about it–or even acknowledge it.

In the face of this scientific news–and compounded by the sexual harassment issues we’ve been facing lately as a society, I simply must revise my theory:

Here’s my new version: If you’re feeling vibes coming off someone, can you assume they’re feeling it too? No.  But they *might* be. And the best thing you can do in that situation is hug that knowledge to yourself.

Because there are a ton of reasons a person can be sending out the sparky feels.  The passion of what they’re engaged in–career, hobby, or creative endeavors–can explain so much of why you’re getting those tingles down low.  The truth is men benefit from women’s company and friendship in so many ways — from the feeling of being able to confide in someone, to basic career assists, to the care-taking that women often provide.  There are TONS of reasons why a man may be in a state of high anticipation around you that has nothing to do with actually being into you–either sexually or romantically.

Which brings me back to the glorious wonder of Dark Gothic Feels. What we can no longer assume in the real world we can heartily assert in the fantasy world of the gothic.  Is he a vampire? He’s totally into you.

Is he a reclusive member of the upper class, harboring dark secrets in his decayed castle mansion? Into you.

Crimson Peak

Secrets….LOTS of secrets…

Is he an elf lord amidst rotting splendor and magic, cursed with the power of bespelling women? Oh he wants you.

Is he a nice guy who happens to be ridiculously hot and because of some misunderstandings between you early on, sincerely wants to help you fight the vicious demon eating your soul? Yeah, he not only wants dirty sex with you–asap–he luuuuvs you.

Retreat with me to these fantasy fictional worlds where every twinge of a vibe means something hot, pure, and true.

I’ve got a free novella you can check out — about the hot guy and demon infected heroine.

I’ve got a brooding elf-wizard in his lonely tower — sample the first 100 pages of WICKED APPRENTICE.

If your pleasure poison is the reclusive guy with dark secrets and a mouldering castle follow me and you won’t miss out on the glorious gloom.Wicked Apprentice

 

 

 

Endorphin Rush: Last day of SFF VDay Deal!!!

28 Feb

Need to quell your post-Vday chocolate cravings? (I do. Seriously.) Here’s just the thing to distract you from binging at the candy store — this Valentine’s Day Speculative Fiction Sale is STILL going on!!!

It was supposed to run from Feb 13th to the 15th, but I just checked the link and lots of the books are still up. It’s like when you’ve eaten all the chocolates in the box your sweetie gave you for Valentine’s Day, but you look again and realize–there’s a second layer.  And you’re all like: Oooooooooh!  Almost every book I looked at was either still either free, or free on Kindle Unlimited or .99.  YAY!

Many of the delicious covers are making me drool (See Below) — Lot’s of stuff is there that I know I want to grab for my kindle right now. I saw a goodly number of Dragon Shifter romances if you’re into that — it’s such a hot SFF trend these days.

Go! Go now! — Get your next SFF Romance at the SPECULATIVE FICTION Valentine’s Day Sale TODAY before March is here and it’s all gone like the last chocolate in the candy box. —Okay, I **have** to stop talking about sugar.

 

 

Buried Under A Pile of Fantasy Books: Your Wildest Dream Come True

5 Feb

by Madeline Iva

Hello my pretties — have you seen this contest for fantasy and fantasy romance lovers? The prizes are sick.

You can enter to win my book WICKED APPRENTICE, plus 20 fantastic epic fantasy novels–from authors like Bree Barton and D.K. Holmberg among others.

PLUS you get FREE ebooks just for entering–from an amazing collection of authors.

PLUS a brand new eReader.

You know you want it–enter the contest by clicking here: http://bit.ly/magesandsages-feb2018

This BookSweeps contest ends Mon Feb 12th. Since this giveaway ends soon, make sure you hurry and enter! Good luck! When you’re done, dwell on the fact that you’re about to be showered in books and prizes.

Extremely Curvy Women: Throw Back Thursday

25 Jan

by Madeline Iva

(Author’s note: if you like this topic, check out my pinterest pages: Uber Curvy, Garter Smexy, and Lady Porn. 🙂 )

Crystal RennThere are certain women in popular culture that rivet our attention with their seriously stacked, uber-curvy feminine bodies.  These bodies at the extreme end of the female spectrum–exaggerated and seemingly made for sex–fascinate us and drive a celebrity image.

There is something larger than life about all these women.  They are not simply actresses –they are vixens, femme fetales, goddesses.  Add brains to all that or a great sense of humor, or–like Adele–a vibrant personality, and the experience goes sideways — our society just doesn’t quite know how to deal with so much woman taking up so much space. (There was a reason Marilyn Monroe played dumb.)

The uber-curvy–as I think of them–are super sexualized by society–to the point where even an aspect of their innocence seems sexual. I also see these women as having a kind of vulnerability.  Even for the narcissistic facing a continuous onslaught of sexualized attention has got to be exhausting.  Meanwhile, these women have got to wear a bra at all times–or watch their booty–or both.   They have to be careful to pick out clothes that fit in a certain way –clothes that aren’t over embellished or boxy cut or baggy–if they wish to avoid looking frumpy and fat.   Kim Kardashian–the most reviled of them all–is actually the most dedicated in providing clothing designs for curvy women that flatter figures like hers.

Meanwhile, the ‘rape-y’ romances of the 80’s  played up this type of women and her body by the use of what academic scholars call ‘gendered fate’.  The basic idea is that those crazy curves inspire instant bodice ripping from any ‘real man’.  So the heroine, because of her body and gender–her beauty essentially–would be ‘fated’ to suffer from unwanted passion.  I.e. men were going to try and rape her.  She could either submit to that passion in the end (with the hero) or resist it to the bitter end (with the villain).  The brains & personality she had were going to provide an irresistible compelling goad to the hero, making him ‘tame’ her with his sexual prowess until she was breathless and weakly trembling afterwards with complexicated feelings.

We’ve pretty much ditched that trope.  Today’s modern heroine is often not overly endowed, she’s much more trim in a ‘relatable’ way.  It’s even okay if she’s sorta normal.  If men are driven compulsively into her embrace it’s because she’s good with dogs, she’s sassy, and she always puts others first.

The advent of erotic romance channelled the ‘gendered fate’ of the 80’s in a different direction.  The idea of consent and agency in women has firmly taken hold, and women of all shapes and sizes can find themselves surrounded by respectful sex fiends in these romances. ;>

So where have all the crazy-curvy women gone? Today we have a category  called ‘Rubenesque’, ‘Voluptuous’, or ‘Full-figured’ in erotic romance.  You can go to an online publisher and search for this category by genre/sub-genre. Beware: you might become confused and think you’re not in the right section because few, if any, of the women on the covers are actually full figured or uber-curvy.  This apparently is the fault of women readers who are less drawn to those covers…so I’ve been told. (I’m highly skeptical of this.  If you had a model like Christina Hendricks on the cover I think people would buy it.)

uber curvy women

It was never clear to me if Lena Dunham used her naked body on the show GIRLS that she created in order to normalize a larger body size or to fetishize it as a transgressive body–one that would compellingly repulse viewers.

But what does ‘Rubenesque’ mean exactly? Is ‘rubenesque’ a politically correct way to say ‘fat’?  Are we talking Crystal Renn or Lena Dunham?  I read a novel by a fairly popular erotic romance author that had three love stories in it.  One involved a ‘rubenesque’ character.  Despite the authors best intentions there was a certain way in which she handled that character that rang a tad hollow–though props to her for trying.

For instance, unlike the other heroines, this character was always described in exactly the same way by all the men and women in the book.  It was as if all the other characters saw her in this very specific, limited way relating to her size. That doesn’t happen in real life.  Men are definitely drawn to different looking women in different ways–and that’s okay, why shouldn’t it be? More over, it’s completely different from having anti-fat attitudes.  Someone looks at a specific persona and sees eye candy. Other get hard or wet.  Others still feel a strong compelling sense of charisma or attraction — they are seeing someone they might want to mate with long term.

The author I was reading used three stock phrases to describe her curvy heroine over and over again.  It was as if she had to keep reminding the audience that the character was ‘different’ to reinforce the curviness as a kind of fetish.  Or perhaps she was slapping on a label to the character and didn’t really see her heroine beyond that label.  This author didn’t spend nearly as much time describing the other heroines throughout the book — instead it was their reactions to the sex they were having that took center stage.

Basically, women who aren’t a standard size and yet are incredibly sexy face a roller-coaster in terms of their status and self esteem.  If you aren’t a sex goddess then you aren’t being seen.

One thing that’s interesting or challenging about Christina Hendricks and her place in La-la Land is that she refuses to be called plus size or curvy or any other size-related term.  Woe to the  interviewer who tries.  She wants to be seen as an actress first and last, letting the public’s obsession with her body remain unspoken and sizzling beneath the surface.

Christina when she's not all glamor-ama.

Christina when she’s not all glamor-ama.

By insisting on being mainstreamed with the rest of the Hollywood starlets out there, she is breaking down the ghetto-ization of women who don’t fit Hollywood’s super skinny norms.  Go Christina!

Madeline Iva is the twisted sister you always wish you had.  She’s also the author of the fantasy romance Wicked Apprentice.  Check out her other Lady Smut postsJoin her newsletter or follow her on Facebooktwitter, and Pinterest

Shipping Reylo: Adam Driver & A More Twisted Last Jedi

8 Jan

by Madeline Iva

Alexa Day had a fabulous blog post on The Last Jedi last Friday.  Check it out.  I just want to extend the convo a little here — cause The Last Jedi was the first Star Wars film I’ve actually liked since Empire Strikes Back.  Not only was The Last Jedi more diverse and watchable than Return of the Jedi, and all the prequel episodes, it was far stronger, I thought, than The Force Awakens.  Yes, it was still uneven – and see Alexa’s notes on the guy who says that kind of thing about your parents is not your friend. Real wisdom there.

But hey, you know where this post is going – and it’s not going to be all about the porgs—cute as they are.

First of all, don’t tell me Adam Driver is not hot. Second of all — don’t tell me in your twisted little heart you were less than happy that this unexpected Kylo Ren & Rey thing suddenly splashed across the screen.Adam Driver is hot

REASONS TO SHIP REYLO:

  1. SEXUAL TENSION IN STAR WARS: YES, PLEASE! When Kylo Ren started to connect with Rey I sat up in my seat and was like: hey now! This movie is starting to come alive.

  2. HE’S THE MOST INTERESTING CHARACTER IN THE WHOLE MOVIE: I mean, come on–Finn, Poe & Rey? Yawn.  (Poe is a tragic waste of Oscar Isaacs if you ask me).  I thought so in The Force Awakens and even more so in The Last Jedi.  The sign of a really good actor is one who fills up an only mediocre role with charisma and emotion. Adam Driver is doing just that–and the other guys aren’t. He’s filling Kylo Ren with emotional intensity.  And so what if he draws with colors outside the Crayola Machismo Box? So they’re calling him emo. Fine. Fine. I don’t care!  He’s got his issues, okay? In The Last Jedi we find out exactly what one of those compelling issues is–and it’s pretty compelling.

  3. REY IS FAR MORE INTERESTING WITH THIS COMPLICATION: Frankly, she needs the assist. She upped her game big time by bouncing off Kylo Ren. In fact, Poe and Finn could use some of that edgy-sexy-emo assist too. Almost everyone in the rebel camp could use some help in being more interesting. Everyone except the porgs–they were totally holding their own.

  4. YOU TOTALLY WANT TO SEE KYLO REDEEMED, DON’T YOU? During the film, Kylo Ren is so on the cusp of falling over into the good side you can taste it: nom nom nom!

  5. GIVE ME A GOOD ANTI-HERO ANY DAY. They seem like they’re cranking up the works for some kind of intimate, doomed romance between Rey and Kylo Ren–and I am all over that sh*t. Let’s hope there’s some sex that happens between them, even if it’s far too late for full on redemption and he’ll have to die or something…

In the end—I will dream my little dream that Finn and Poe get their edgy, forbidden, sexual no-no encounter as well.  Why not?

Let’s say Finn is caught by the evil empire, put through retraining by Captain Phasma, and that they get together in some terribly twisted way.

Finn and Captain Phasma

You know Captain Phasma–she’s Brie from GOT.

Meanwhile, Poe and the doomed Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) found time for a very short, very fraught and heated sexual tryst that wound up on the cutting room floor.Vice Admiral HuldoPoe

BEYOND REYLO:

But if you really REALLY want to grab me by the scruff of the neck and never let me go — then after Kylo and Rey don’t work out, let’s ship Kylo Ren and General Hux. Domhnall Gleeson is another great actor who’s coming up less than in his role.  Let say Kylo Ren startles General Hux one day by stating there’s always been some chemistry between them, and it’s finally time to not only admit it, but to start exploring it.  That would scare the whiney out of Hux.  Then just let them go at it.  Now that I’d pay some good money to see.

General Hux, Kylo Ren, and Captain Phasma

Madeline Iva is the twisted sister you always wish you had.  She’s also the author of the fantasy romance Wicked Apprentice.  Check out her other Lady Smut postsJoin her newsletter or follow her on Facebooktwitter, and PinterestWicked Apprentice

 

 

 

 

 

Sexy Saturday Round Up

16 Dec

Sexy Saturday Round UpBy Elizabeth Shore

Hanukkah’s here and it’s the last full weekend before Christmas, Sexies. So you could dash around like Prancer and Dancer, or you could kick back and read what we’ve rounded up for you this week. You decide…although I know which option I’d choose… 😉

Sex toys to the rescue! Long distant relationships feel a whole lot closer when using these.

Man flu – men really do suffer more.

Marijuana may have more benefits in addition to the medicinal ones. Like inspiring you to have more table sex.

R.I.P. net neutrality…or is it? How it might be stopped.

What’s uglier than an ugly sweater? Christmas eyebrows.

Study finds women prefer stronger-looking men. This is news?

From Madeline:

How candid can you be with a friend when you don’t like their significant other?

Stories of Roaches: peeps who are seemingly in a monogamous relationship–but secretly date others.

Where’s the fat Disney princess???

Did you read that New Yorker story about the women who’d rather have bad sex then bail on a guy? Everyone else did, apparently…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Litsy: What You Get if Goodreads & Instagram Have a Baby

11 Dec

by Madeline Iva

Dear readers–Hello! I am here today with Melissa Norr, a librarian that I met on a blogger panel at Washington Romance Writers a few weeks ago.  Melissa is going to tell us all about a new–well, new-ish–app called Litsy.  

MELISSA NORR: Litsy is an app-only book focused social media. It’s relatively young in that it has only been out a few years on iPhones and only about a year for Androids. It is often described as “if Goodreads and Instagram had a baby” and that’s pretty accurate.

How Litsy works

Sample Litsy page

Much of the content on Litsy is book based in that Littens (Litsy users) post books they are reading or want to read as well as short reviews of books they have read. Every post requires that a book be tagged but despite that there are non-book related posts, mostly in the realm of sharing likes and dislikes so Littens can get to know each other. There are also many pet related posts and #catsoflitsy and #dogsoflitsy are popular tags on the app.

That said, like most social media, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it. Interaction is key on Litsy. Following, posting, liking, and commenting are the key to growing your Litfluence (a score generated by Listy based on interactions) and gaining followers.

The Littens @raimeygallant, @TrishB, and @julesG created and collated a #LitsyTips tag with some wonderful advice and hints for joining, using, and getting the most out of Litsy.

MADELINE IVA: Given the hesitation that many timid folk may have about getting more involved in Goodreads you might want to check this new app out.  I think our own lovely Kiersten Hallie Krum put it best: Goodreads is fabulous! But it can go from friendly to toxic in the time it takes a sports car to go from zero to sixty.  Melissa, are there any reviewers you’d recommend?

MELISSA NORR: If I use tags in reviews, it is usually a genre tag like #romantsy for romance or #ilovecozies for cozy mysteries. That said, anyone who follows me (or another reviewer) will always see everything we post in their feed. Litsy doesn’t use an algorithm to decide which posts show up – you see everything posted by the people you follow in chronological order.

I recommend following people based on what they review. For instance, if you write urban fantasy then follow folks who have left reviews on books in that genre. That said, the more people you follow, the more people will follow you and build your network.

Madeline Iva is the twisted sister you always wish you had.  She’s also the author of the fantasy romance Wicked Apprentice.  Check out her other Lady Smut postsJoin her newsletter or follow her on Facebooktwitter, and PinterestWicked Apprentice

Dragons DuJour: Shifter Romances Are Having a Dragon-y Moment

28 Nov

By Madeline Iva

We seem to be having a dragon moment in Romance-landia, so let’s take a wee look at three books doing the dragon thing and talk about why someone like me–who may be somewhat like you–finds myself diving into dragons even though I’m usually not into the shifter thing.

DRAGON ACTUALLY (Dragon Kin #1):Dragon Actually

G.A. Aiken’s books have always been highly recommended by my reader pal Donna, who’s all up on the shifter-romance scene. Everyone else in the PNR world knows G.A. Aiken too, of course, and worships at her alter.

Look! A blurb:

It’s not always easy being a female warrior with a nickname like Annwyl the Bloody. Men tend to either cower in fear – a lot – or else salute. It’s true that Annwyl has a knack for decapitating legions of her ruthless brother’s soldiers without pausing for breath. But just once it would be nice to be able to really talk to a man, the way, she can talk to Fearghus the Destroyer.

Too bad that Fearghus is a dragon, of the large, scaly and deadly type. With him, Annwyl feels safe – a far cry from the feelings aroused by the hard-bodied, arrogant knight Fearghus has arranged to help train her for battle. With her days spent fighting a man who fill her with fierce, heady desire, and her nights spent in the company of a magical creature who could smite a village just by exhaling, Annwyl is sure life couldn’t get any stranger. She’s wrong…

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We get it already: Fearghus and the hot knight are the one and the same…no surprises there.  Three things to convince you to try this book if the 1200+ reviews on Goodreads hasn’t…

#1 As one reviewer put it: a bloodthirsty, batshit crazy warrior princesses Yes. My kind of gal. Tods.

#2 Hot semi-nekkid guy on the cover –now that’s *my* kind of fantasy! (Note the semi-nekkid guy on the cover of my own fantasy romance Wicked Apprentice) As readers the semi-nekkid guy seems to offer us the promise of hot sex between the pages.  Indeed there is a lot of hot sex in DRAGON ACTUALLY.

#3 Humor & Fluff = mindless entertainment.  I hope the author doesn’t mind my saying that.  It’s just that these days, I’m all about mindless entertainment.  And I very much appreciate humor in my romances.

But let me put out a hypothesis: I think dragons are a very different from typical shifter romances.  (And by ‘typical’,  I mean wolf-shifter.  I know not from all other kinds of shifters: lions & tigers & bears–oh my!)  See, to be honest—I’m not a real shifter reader.  In fact, I want to say that there are two kinds of paranormal readers out there: wolf-shifter readers and vampire readers. Wolf shifter readers like packs and pack hierarchies. Vampire readers don’t.

Which is not to imply any disrespect to shifter readers at all.  But I wonder if dragon shifter romances are shifter romances that can snag in the rest of us–the vampire gals. Why? We’re talking loners in lairs.  Heroes who are not enmeshed in pissing contests with others for supreme alpha status.  They’re not up to their necks in pack politics–tropes which are fabulous, don’t get me wrong–but aren’t really my thing as a romance reader.

Fire in the Blood

I lurv this cover. Just sayin.

FIRE IN HIS BLOOD (Fireblood Dragon #1):

Sue London turned me on to Ruby Dixon’s Ice Planet Barbarians series. The aliens in that series were massive, blue, and their dicks had some extra features. (!) That series totally hit the entertaining-light n fluffy-sweet spot. Adriana Anders made me aware that Ruby Dixon has created a dragon series set in post-apocalyptic Texas. A much more edgy series–there is a rift in the sky through which dragons from another time/world enter into our world, wreaking havoc upon humanity and the planet, while ordinary people scramble to survive.

Ruby Dixon’s dragons come in different color assortments which designate different things about them (red dragons are females, apparently) but they’re still all about the solitary alone time with the female love-interest.

Our heroine is sent out in very much a ye olde sacrifice-y way.  She’s cast out from the community as dragon bait. But this gal is not your typical shrinking virgin offering. Despite the fact that they can’t understand each other at first, her dragon manages to forge a link of communication with her. And it turns out that the dragon is very sweet, (aside from the dragon mayhem destroying the world stuff, of course…) Unlike Aiken, Dixon makes us wait wait wait for them to knock boots – something that annoyed some readers. Yet for others, the trust-building was well worth the wait.

A Dragon's Destiny

Love this cover too!!!

A DRAGON’S DESTINY (Dragons #1) is a third and completely different take on the whole dragon thing. This series involves time travel and the Viking Gods. Gods like Odin are worried about dragons bringing forth their final downfall. So they want all the dragons destroyed. One of the gods doesn’t agree with this plan.  She gathers up some dragons eggs and hides them like massive easter eggs through different times in history.

Our heroine growing up in our modern age is mastering all kinds of ye olde skills at the same time that she works as a police officer. She is a warrior in training, really, and one with a crappy love life.  She winds up discovering that she’s well neigh unkillable and also a (wait for it!) a dragon.  Skipping through time to fight bad guys, she finds her one true love who is managing his own political hornet’s nest back in the 1520’s.

This is a very different series from the others. Namely:

  1. Female dragon shifter (Nice!)
  2. POC heroine
  3. Viking Gods

As a side note, Glasneck’s series takes an interesting right turn towards another kind of Viking god – Hel.

Having loved Thor:Ragnarok and slavered over slinky Hela—Thor’s evil sister–I really liked the description for book #4 HELLISH in Glasneck’s Dragon series—which is also book #1 in the Hellish series:

Lady Hel, the ruler of Helheim, is cursed for disobeying Odin’s order. Stripped of her position, she’s imprisoned on an ostentatious estate until she is able to find love. Unfortunately, Lady Hel has never had luck or use for love.

Harley Anderson is a seven-year college senior with no idea what to do with his life. So far all he’s come up with is killing time. When his best friend dares him to hop the gate of what’s supposed be a haunted house, he encounters a woman who steals a lot more than his breath. And what she’s offering could give him the future he’s missing.

So check it out my pretties! Click on any of the book covers above to go git you some Dragons.  Let me know in the comments section below if you you buy into my “There only two kinds of PNR romance readers” theory.  If you don’t agree–tell me why not!  🙂

Madeline Iva is the twisted sister you always wish you had.  She’s also the author of the fantasy romance Wicked Apprentice.  Check out her other Lady Smut postsJoin her newsletter or follow her on Facebooktwitter, and Pinterest

Disclosure: Tina Glasneck is an old romance buddy who gave me a free copy of her book to read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thor: Ragnarok: Anti-Patriarchial Action Adventure

23 Nov

 

 

I knew going in what I wanted fromThor: Ragnarok going in–And I got it.  But it also had some excellent surprises.  First let’s go over the good stuff we expected:

I wanted humor. The very first Thor film had a lot of excellent humor–and who doesn’t love a hero–and a franchise–that doesn’t take itself too seriously? Who doesn’t love riffs on anti-cool-ness? (I do!)

I wanted Hela! I was excited to see an all-powerful villainess with the most-est.

As played by Kate Blanchet, Hela in all her glory is a lot of Goth eye make-up and a lot of scorching fury. Her tortured, slinky self was magnificent. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: her antler horns are ridiculous–almost as ridiculous as Loki’s–which is saying a lot. It takes quite a good actor to wear it well, and Blanchett did.

I wanted Loki – Hiddlesbum, you hot thing you.  He was expected, even needed in the film every bit as much as Thor was. Always elegant, and in this film not given particularly much to do. He nevertheless did a good job of portraying his own skewed agenda throughout. Sometimes a reluctant part of the team, Loki’s never one of the mob. He’s an independent thinker, with his own perspective, and that’s why I like him so much. 

Idris Elba as Heimdall, alas, has never pleased me in the Thor franchise. Three reasons why:

  • They loaded him down with some crazy eye contacts
  • and about five tons of too much sincerity
  • in too small a role. Sigh.

What I wasn’t expecting was:

Valkyrie! Tessa Thompson got to play the reluctant hero role as a POC side-kick. YAY!  I found her arresting.

Thor gets a make-over! He gets a haircut. (Yay!) There is also some gratuitous shirtless Hemsworth time. (Was that abdomen CGI? I don’t think it was, but day-am!) Hemsworth, really is at his best as an actor playing a frank, yet dumb warrior dude. He doesn’t deserve his role because of pure acting skill; there is no denying the man’s super-human arms. Whew! In a way, I’m glad his shirtless moment didn’t go on and on, because I have no idea what was being said in that scene, and wouldn’t have been able to follow the movie’s plot had such shocking Hemsworth shirtlessness continued.

WHAT YOU DIDN’T SEE IN THE FILM BUT I COULD TOTALLY IMAGINE:

I think the creators of Thor know us by this point, ladies. That Thor ending—where there’s a bit of a singular moment between Thor and Loki when they’re alone. Full of emotive unspoken feelings. Full of pauses.

This is what I said to my sweetie on the way back to the car afterwards:

In my version of the film that’s where they would have started having sex.

Sweetie said: No way! They’re brothers.

Adopted!

Please.

Look it’s been a hard year for us women. We need Thor & Loki sex.

META-NARRATIVE ABOUT THE DEATH OF OLD SKOOL PATRIARCHY, ANYONE? (!!!)

It was a surprise to see Karl Urban with a bald head and heavy make up at the beginning of the film, yet he was there purely as a representation of Old skool masculinity.

A sop to a certain kind of gun-loving guy, Karl Urban has babes and guns at the beginning of the film. But the film really deflects that. An instant later, some creature spits up all over the babes, and things go to hell in a handbasket. Poor Karl really just wants to have his one true warrior moment. At the very end, he gets to have that moment—along with all the gun-toting idiot dudes out there–as he go down in a blaze of old skool masculine glory, seemingly selfish at first, but sacrificing himself for the good of others.

LET’S GO DEEPER PEOPLE: That’s one layer of the film–and it’s thin.

I would posit that the rest of Thor is attempting to shift Action Movies in a new direction—make them more progressive. (Shocking, I know.) How did THOR: RAGNAROK mark a profound shift in action adventure movies of the future? Many critics are buzzing about the different meaningful aspects of this new directorial vision – the first POC director in the franchise. I want to argue that the film is (as much as it is anything else) literaly dismantling patriarchy, as well as creating space for women as active players in the Thor Universe.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!

First the women: Hela is a great villain. She could have been more clever, could have gotten deeper, but her role involved a shocker—see below.

There’s also the Valkyrie. No more Thor’s mother and sister sitting around at home while all the action was happening elsewhere. The Valkyrie is right up in it. She is the female Karl Urban, taking up far more space in the film.  She also fights in the end, knowing she’s gonna die.

No women need to be saved because they’re the weaker sex in this movie—on Valhalla the entire population needs saving. Nor are the women reserved for romantic interest fodder. There are no romantic interests at all in Thor: Ragnarok (unless you buy my Loki & Thor m/m fantasy. ;>) Women are included as players, pure and simple. Hela kicks ass, and the Valkyrie—full of doom and foreboding–wads into a losing battle, then pounds away at it just like the men.  Why not, right? They’re all gods–it’s not like their physical forms really matter.

Credit:Jasin_Boland/Marvel Studios 2017

But what was even better and more riveting to me—was this fabulous tearing down of Odin—Thor’s father (played by Anthony Hopkins.)

The back story in this movie is that Odin had a daughter, named Hela – and they ravaged 9 kingdoms together, raking in the booty. That is, until one day Odin seemed to grow a conscience about all the plundering and decided to go in another direction. So Odin’s solution was to cast his daughter out of Valhalla. Her very history was written over, with other remnants and symbols from that time buried and forgotten. Until Odin’s death. As he’s dying, he tells his two sons about their lost sister—and once he’s dead, she’s back, with a big old chip on her shoulder and some major daddy issues.

The first thing she does is go and uncover all this erased history in Valhalla, (I couldn’t find pictures of the cool moving ceiling mural–but it was really well done) staking her claim as first born to rule all of Odins 9 realms. And what the hell—she wants to go out and conquer all the remaining realms as well.

The picture of Valhalla literally crumbles to reveal a hidden truth underneath.

So as a villain, her major lasting strike is that she complicates the idea of Odin as a good guy. Nor is he ever vindicated in the end. There’s no rolling back from her revelations once she’s vanquished.  The upshot: Valhalla, built upon ill-gotten, illicit colonialist wealth, is destroyed.

Buh-bye patriarchal kingdom.

In the end, yes, Hela is displaced by Thor. It’s not done with a “the man’s supposed to rule” kind of presumption. Thor acknowledges that as eldest born Hela has a legitimate claim to the throne.

But then Thor points out that she’s the worst. True. Hela has an unquenched desire for conquest, totalitarian rule, and a cavalier disregard for the death and destruction of her subjects. That’s what they say, but that’s not how actions play out.  At the very end, Hela **is** left to rule Valhalla–and to destroy it. A world born out of multiple sins is pulled down into flames and destruction, while Thor and his people seek a new place to start fresh.

Want to read more interesting discussion about the film?  Here’s a Mashable blog post on Thor’s themes of colonialism.

and a blog post about the deliberate use of Maori humor in Thor:

https://thespinoff.co.nz/atea/31-10-2017/thor-and-his-magic-patu-notes-on-a-very-maori-marvel-movie/

 

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Lady Smut – our Black Friday giveaway that starts tomorrow, Nov 24, 2017. Check it out!

Madeline Iva is the twisted sister you always wish you had.  She’s also the author of the fantasy romance Wicked Apprentice.  Check out her other Lady Smut postsJoin her newsletter or follow her on Facebooktwitter, and Pinterest

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