July 25th, 2012

_A Taste of You_, Jennifer Stevenson (kindle)

This is in the same magic-intrudes-on-our-world-and-specifically-Chicago (and Pittsburgh) as _The Brass Bed_ etc. by Stevenson, however there are only a few overlapping characters.

In this outing, a young-appearing woman got a coin -- less toxic than the coins in Jim Butcher, but the same general idea: what do you want i'll give it to you type of thing. She did not know that her other mother had already used it. Chloe uses it to turn herself into an energy vampire, only she sort of missed a couple possible consequences. Also, she's a vegan.

She's been living this half-starved life for two plus decades when a guy who claims to be a Federal agent but appears to be operating on a shoestring budget enters her life and asks her to investigate Dr. Katterfelto (one of the overlapping characters, IIRC). Antics ensue.

It's a lot of fun, and includes a whole roller derby team, as well as having part of the magical energy problem being resolved in a way that reflects my ideas about attachment. I may go back and reread the series; there's supposed to be another one out later this year.

_Risk is a Four Letter Word_, Erin M. Leaf (kindle)

Evernight Publishing. MMF, poly relationship (that would be the MMF triad), romance (they have an HEA). SEX! Quite a bit of it. Did I mention it was a triad not a V?

There are no BDSM elements. Zeke does get tied up with some neckties and it's clear this is a part of the MM and then MMF relationship, and it is consensual because of offstage negotiation between Zeke and Eric so yay, but I don't really consider that BDSM. I'm not sure it even qualifies as kink. To the extent there is kink in the book, it involves sexual activity in public or semi-public areas, and the hilarity is increased because they always seem to be observed (dad with poopy kid trying to get into the family bathroom, other people in the parking lot, other people in the drugstore, etc.). If there is an erotic theme beyond the triad, it is Getting Walked In On. If that is cringe-inducing, you probably should avoid this. If it makes you giggle, you'll find it entertaining.

Leaf makes a really solid effort to explore how a triad might develop, using the series-of-random encounters as a way to depict the logistical difficulties and practical implausibility of establishing a triad while making it not feel like "work" (which, hey, this is a novel, it's supposed to be fun, so okay). Zeke and Eric have a longstanding, close relationship as friends, business partners and roommates, but each has been concealing un-acted upon bisexuality from the other. The early encounters with Carrie give them a chance to grope and kiss each other and once they get home and have a chance to talk about their omg are you going to punch me fears, they start catching up for lost time. If you're sitting there thinking, that's not really plausible/they're really stupid, well, Leaf addresses this by having the characters specifically call themselves complete fucking morons.

Finally, Leaf deals with the what-will-family-and-friends-think issue directly: they're all freaked out, ask a lot of questions, have some amount of prejudice or, in the case of one character's largely absent father, resort to physical violence. The characters use the usual array of arguments for their arrangement: hey, people used to say this about other arrangements and it was wrong then, we're adults, we're not hurting anyone, just because it's hard doesn't mean it isn't worth doing and when-you-love-someone-you-have-to-take-a-chance, etc.

All in all, about as perfect as a poly novel gets, from my perspective. There are always things to complain about (I'd start with the scene in the truck, viz. failure to discuss condoms/birth control), and obviously my preferences are far from universal, but I'll certainly give Leaf's other ebook-on-Amazon a try and keep an eye out for her other work in the future.

_What You Really Really Want_, Jaclyn Friedman (kindle)

A couple weeks ago, I decided to try out some of the MSNBC weekend political shows. Some of these have hosts that I've enjoyed watching guest host on evening MSNBC news wrap up/political shows. During the Melissa Harris-Perry show, there was a really excellent segment on Porn in America with Tristan Taormino (who, I swear by the great goddess who loves us all, people really do refer to as the anal sex lady -- and not just punditry. Friends of mine.) and Jaclyn Friedman. The host was doing the segment because of the last few months worth of war on women slut shaming (notably, the pasty guy being apparently very confused about how birth control pills work and thinking that if the public purse was paying for the pills, it had a right to video of the sexxoring, too).

Anyway. Great discussion. I was not familiar with either of the women who were talking, but I liked them both. A lot. So I picked up Friedman's book on the kindle. Friedman is writing to an audience probably somewhat younger than me (say, college aged, but inclusive enough to applicable to nearly anyone who identifies as a woman), and definitely is aiming the book at someone who is trying to figure out what they want and how to get it. If this book had existed in the late 1990s, I would have probably stalked Friedman and tried to get her to date me. Alas, I wrote my own and it's really not nearly as good, altho mine was also not aimed exclusively at women or focused primarily on sex. Friedman concluded, as I did, that getting to a point where you know what you want and have ways to get it with sex is a lot like/involves a lot of doing the same things in other relationships. Otherwise, the approaches she uses are very unlike mine, in that she includes quizzes and writing exercises.

And that is where we parted company. The book assumes you are trying to figure out what you want and develop better ways to get it. Been there. Doing that. Wearing the uniform. Also, as implausible as this will sound, I am not a big fan of The Writing Exercise. (Shocking, I know. Please. Enjoy laughing at how un-self-aware I am. Watch me roll my eyes at you.)

There are many, many, many wonderful things about this books. It is amazingly inclusive (uses cis-gendered!). It covers many difficult topics (rape and other sexual violence, class/religion/etc. background). It does a really nice job on describing and developing boundaries -- and why that's really important and useful. But the single best thing it does throughout is be crystal clear: this book doesn't get you more prospects, more dates, more sex, more whatever. What it does is ensure that your prospects/dates/sexual activities and relationships are much more likely to be with people who are compatible and healthy for you (and you for them) and generally more enjoyable because you're better at knowing and communicating -- gently -- what you really really want.

So while I definitely did not use the book as directed, I nevertheless believe it is a tremendously awesome book in every way (well, almost every way), and recommend it to all women and, heck, most men.

Product Review: Sof'feet Callus Reducer

Like every other somewhat obscure product I buy, I got it online, in this case from Amazon. I'm prone to developing thick calluses. This used to be a good thing -- thick skin = go barefoot without trouble. Really, all I had to worry about was to remember to remove glass by hand, rather than by rubbing the bottom of one foot on the top of the other (I got a bad cut that way, once). However, dry air and increasing age have made my skin prone to cracking, which I remember my father complaining about so this is probably genetic.

Anyway. I knew that lotion could help this problem, but only up to a point (also: requires diligence). About a year ago, I bought some pumice stones, but they are pathetic. I was not prepared to go the sandpaper route without at least trying other products (also, emery boards were clearly too wimpy and I didn't really want to think about the grade of paper I was going to need). Amazon's reviews seemed to think this was worth a try.

Wow. Is it ever. Do _not_ touch the screen with your fingers -- they'll catch at a minimum and if you are a Delicate, Fragile Flower, they might do some damage. The handle means you can safely go after a heel callus, however; when the screen fills, you really can just tap the ewww off and continue (however I have noticed it is dulling, so I've ordered replacement screens). You're supposed to use it on dry feet, which is convenient -- no prep involved, really (altho I suppose if your feet were really dirty that might be an issue).

The flaky-cracky-mess has been reduced to a nicely shaped, useful pad, which is what Nature Intended, and I even managed not to overshoot (which seems to happen on those incredibly rare occasions when I submit to a pedicure) and leave too little to walk on unshod. If something weird happens and the handle breaks or the replacement screens don't fit, I'll post an update; otherwise, consider this an unqualified recommend for those with persistently, overly thick skin around the heels and elsewhere.

ETA: Read the warning label; if you have limited feeling in your feet, you could hurt yourself.

Daily Activities Include: the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (for T.)

Poor T. He really does not like Change. I don't either (really, you have to be very different from us to like Change), but it's much, much worse for him and not just because he is Still Very Young.

Today, he took two bad hits. First, Nara closed the beach due to e. coli. See, _this_ is why we don't feed the geese, why we chase them away, why we mess with their eggs and, in a pinch, start killing them. Take one look at their reproductive pattern and life expectancy and you can see the issues (really, it is amazing they ever got close to extinction).

Second, we had the driveway sealcoated, which is basically repairing and adding another layer of petro-whatsis to it. You can't walk on it, much less drive on it, so we parked the cars on the side street. T. is very Particular about the cars being put away and the status of the garage doors and so forth and This Was Wrong. *sigh*

R. and T. sat in the garage for probably an hour (inhaling fumes) assimilating the change and discussing when it would go back to normal, and going in circles.

Other than that, it was a fun day. A. got a Daisy Duck to go with her Minnie and T.'s Mickey (these are the big plush ones), which means, predictably, that today she requested a Donald. I'm betting by the end of next week, I'll be receiving demands for Pluto and Goofy. She is currently asleep underneath Minnie and Daisy. I was pleased to hear the duck and mouse chatting in the back seat on the way home from the pool this afternoon.