The Secret by L. Marie Adeline

I wish that there were more erotica novels of this calibre.

4/5 stars.
ebook, 288 pages.
Read from July 12, 2017 to July 13, 2017

When I first started reading erotica I was ready to ditch the genre completely as I was tired of the slew of bad writing and bad romances (cue Lady Gaga). A friend of mine who seemed to understand my woes made this recommendation. The book sat on my TBR pile for a very long time until I had actually almost forgotten about it. As fate would have it, my library happened to an ebook copy while I was in the midst of a reading slump and I thought, why not? It has been one of the best erotica pieces I have read so far.

“Sex creates chemicals that can be mistaken for love. Not understanding that about our bodies creates a lot of misunderstanding and unnecessary suffering.”

Cassie is in her early 30s and the only sex she has ever had was from her previous deadbeat ex-husband who has since passed away. Cassie works long shifts as a server at a small cafe and has no idea where she is going in life. Feeling lost and insecure Cassie seems to have resigned herself to her dreary and mediocre life. She yearns for some romance and excitement, even a good fuck would satisfy her at this point as it has been years. At work, she watches this one couple that comes in from time to time and they are completely in love.  It makes her heartache.

One day, the young woman in the couple leaves behind a journal of sorts.  Cassie peaks inside to discover what appears to be a record of some seriously hot sex scenes! Embarrassed, Cassie pretends she has not read the journal and gets it back to the owner who was equally as embarrassed. Little did Cassie know, that this little mistake, would open up her whole world. Shortly after another woman approaches her at work and describes an organization that exists to help women feeling exactly like herself, though it isn’t exactly your typical support group. The organization helps to act out the selected women’s fantasies in an effort to increase their confidence again. Each task and fantasy is rewarded with a bracelet charm. Not sure if the whole idea is a dream come true or something completely insane, Cassie follows her instincts…

I have to admit this is a really creative way to get all sorts of sex into one erotica novel. It caters to a lot of different types of fantasies (public, celebrity, etc) as well as appealing to one feeling most women are familiar with, insecurity.  What makes this novel exceptional is that is isn’t a man that makes everything better for the female protagonist, it is her. She makes the decisions that ultimately change her life and how she feels. She isn’t whisked off her feet and ‘saved’ by some rich, hot man who wants to do everything for her. She comes to find confidence all on her own through the exploration of her own sexuality. Now that’s hot! This is what I am talking about when it comes to erotica! I mean, yes, something like this would never happen in real life but the choices and the feelings that Cassie has is very real.

This novel is the perfect mix of story and sex making it an ideal erotica. The story is compelling enough it keep you interested but not overpowering in that you lose out on what you really came to read about, the sex. Cassie also isn’t a helpless, shallow character either. You are really rooting for her as a reader because you know exactly what it feels like.

If you need a recommendation into the world of erotica I highly recommend starting with this book. It’s steamy, exciting and has a story that empowers the female protagonist. Heck, I might even read the other two books in the trilogy I enjoyed this one so much! Overall I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel and wish that there were more erotica novels of this calibre.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

“Dear old world’, she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”

4/5 stars.
Paperback, 333 pages.
Read from June 13, 2017 to June 19, 2017.

Don’t ask me how I did not manage to read this book when I was a child. Most Canadian girls have read this yet some how it alluded me. However, I am glad I read this book as an adult as I do not think I would have appreciated it in my youth.

Anne’s young life has been a trying one. She has spent the last few years in an orphanage after both of her parents passed away. Despite the fact that they specifically wanted a boy, Anne is temporarily taken in by Matthew and Marilla Cuthburt who live in the Green Gables house on Prince Edward Island. Anne must then convince the couple that she is worth keeping. The problem being that Anne is wildly imaginative, talkative, and has a temper that is as fiery as her flame-red hair. Matthew instantly takes a liking Anne, despite him normally being shy and reserved, but Marilla however, will take more convincing. Anne wants nothing more than to be loved after feeling unwanted and abandoned for so long but can she still be herself and convince the Cuthburt’s that she worthy of their home?

“I’ve just been imagining that it was really me you wanted after all and that I was to stay here for ever and ever. It was a great comfort while it lasted. But the worst of imagining things is that the time comes when you have to stop and that hurts.”

Anne has a wonderful imagination. That was by far my favourite aspect of the book, however I found Anne to be so damn dramatic that it was borderline annoying. While I appreciate how brave and ballsy she can be at times, which I would have adored in my youth, her dramatics would have also likely put me off the book. For example:

  • “I can’t cheer up — I don’t want to cheer up. It’s nicer to be miserable!”
  • “I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when
    you are in the depths of despair?”

However, you have to give it to Anne, she is unique through and through and her story is fun and adventurous. Montgomery’s writing style is lovely as well. She mixes chapters that have a third person narrator to direct first person accounts from Anne’s diary (spelling mistakes and all). It is easy to see how this book became so acclaimed and how it wormed its way into the hearts of so many readers.

While I enjoyed the book and all of Anne’s little adventures, I do not feel inclined to read the rest of the book in the trilogy as I did not connect with Anne’s character as much as I was hoping to. However, the Canadian setting was gorgeously depicted and I can’t fault any details of the plot line as the book kept me highly engaged. Overall I would recommend this book for any young girl of reading age or for any Canadian who has yet to read this timeless classic.

Survival: A Thematic Guide To Canadian Literature by Margaret Atwood

A criticism and a manifesto of Canadian literature, and even to this day, it is one of a kind.

3/5 stars.
Paperback, 287 pages.
Read from May 9, 2017 to June 4, 2017.

“Literature is not only a mirror; it is also a map, a geography of the mind. Our literature is one such map, if we can learn to read it as our literature, as the product of who and where we have been. We need such a map desperately, we need to know about here, because here is where we live. For the members of a country or a culture, shared knowledge of their place, their here, is not a luxury but a necessity. Without that knowledge, we will not survive.”

You would think that as an English major and a Canadian that this book would have been included in my repertoire somewhere buuuuut it wasn’t. Having now read it, if I had the chance to talk to my Canadian Lit prof I would have asked him why the hell this book was not included in the curriculum. This book may have some dated references but its content is exceptional and still viable and relevant. This book is both a criticism and a manifesto of Canadian literature and even to this day, it is one of a kind.

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Atwood is a total babe.

This book was published in 1972 and it addresses a non-academic audience in attempts to define what makes Canadian literature specifically Canadian and different from other major publishing countries in the world.

“What have been the central preoccupations of our poetry and fiction?…survival and victims.”

Canada is a harsh place to live in terms of weather and this aspect of the country played a major factor in its history, shaping its people, and how they view nature. It’s not hard to surmise that survival and being that of a victim would play a part in Canadian literature. Atwood breaks down her theory into four victim types:

Position One: To deny the fact that you are a victim. This is a position in which members of the “victim-group” will deny their identity as victims, accusing those members of the group who are less fortunate of being responsible for their own victimhood.

Position Two: To acknowledge the fact that you are a victim (but attribute it to a powerful force beyond human control such as fate, history, God, or biology.
In this position, victims are likely to resign themselves to their fate.

Position Three: To acknowledge the fact that you are a victim but to refuse to accept the assumption that the role is inevitable. This is a dynamic position in which the victim differentiates between the role of victim and the experience of the victim.

Position Four: To be a creative non-victim. A position for “ex-victims” when creativity of all kinds is fully possible.”

Atwood’s work is enticing, clear, funny and easy to agree with. Not only is this book an essential part of what defines Canadian literature, it can also be seen as the basis for the Canadian identity as a whole. While many who criticised this work found it lacking in historical evidence, the literary examples, while now dated, are excellent. I would love to see this theory put to the test with some more modern pieces of Canadian literature.

Survival is a great and short read that should be a part of every literary major’s reading list as well any Canadians.