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Book Review: It Ain’t Me, Babe by Tillie Cole (Series, #1)

Book Review: It Ain't Me Babe by Tillie Cole (Series, #1)Summary:
River “Styx” Nash was born into the Hades Hangmen motorcycle club. He always knew he was set to inherit running it, in spite of his speech impediment, but he never expected to be running it at the young age of twenty-six. When a young woman shows up at their doorstep, bleeding and unconscious, he’s reminded of a girl he met at a fence in the woods when he was a boy….a girl who has haunted him ever since.

Salome grew up under Prophet David’s rule in the commune that’s the only home she’s ever known. When her sister dies, she finds the strength to run and somehow ends up in the arms of the man who was once a boy she met at the fence of the commune.

Review:
I’m being a bit charitable with my rating of this read because the juxtaposition of commune and motorcycle club (gang) is one I haven’t seen before, and I do think it’s interesting. Additionally, I do realize that these types of romances are basically fantasy so I try to cut them some leeway. That said, this book is not executed as well as it could have been for its genre. There are some jarring elements that take the reader out of the read, thus leading it to be less enjoyable.

First, it’s poorly edited. There are many clear mistakes such as saying things like “gotta to.” It reads like a first copy, not a final draft. Better editing would have really helped this book.

Second, you have to imagine that the reader who might pick up a romance featuring motorcycles might know a thing or two about them. While everything else surrounding the motorcycles can be pure fantasy, the motorcycles themselves should function like the real world (unless it’s scifi). Motorcycles, though, are treated in the book as basically cars with two wheels, and anyone who’s ridden one can tell you that’s not so, and a motorcycle gang definitely would know better than to treat them that way. One glaring instance of being unrealistic about bikes is when Salome first rides on one. The book sets it up that she has no idea what a motorcycle is. She’s never seen one before, she has zero idea how they work. In spite of this, the only riding instruction she’s given is to “hold on.” Even someone giving the most bare of instructions to a new passenger will tell them to follow the lead of the rider — to lean when they lean and not to counter-lean against the rider. This is basic safety and even a motorcycle gang would give those basic instructions because a passenger who is startled could easily cause the bike to crash and riders love their bikes. Similarly, in spite of Salome not knowing anything about motorcycles, she puts on the helmet with zero instructions. I have never seen anyone who’s never worn a motorcycle helmet before be able to put it on with zero instructions. The strap is complicated and almost always takes guidance. Additionally, we are to believe Salome is riding with someone who cares about her, yet he doesn’t check on her helmet at all. This is not something a rider who cares about his passenger would ever do.

The final thing I found jarring was descriptions of the abuse in the cult. I fully expected there to be cult abuse, but there are repeated flashbacks to the rape of 8 year olds whose legs are being held apart by bear traps. I personally find it extremely difficult to get into a romance that repeatedly flashes back to the graphic underage and violent rape of the main character. It made the book feel like it was at war with itself. Did it want to be a contemporary book about the horrors of cults or did it want to be a romance? You can be both, but that is a difficult book to write, and it’s important to either put all of the abuse in one area of the book (usually where the heroine informs the hero about it) or to make the abuse more minimal (ie maybe the heroine grew up in a cult that restricted her knowledge and movement but that didn’t rape her physically).

Ultimately, while I appreciate the interesting combination of main characters (leader of a motorcycle club and escapee from a cult), I found the execution to not live up to the unique premise. Primarily recommended to those interested in the fantasy of motorcycles with little personal knowledge of them. They will be more able to get fully into the fantasy.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Library

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Friday Fun! (June: Vacation at the Races)

The motorcycle race track has many turns and elevation changes to be more interesting for the racers.

The motorcycle race track has many turns and elevation changes to be more interesting for the racers.

Hello my lovely readers!

After the busyness of May, I was incredibly grateful to have a whole week off in the month of June!  My bf only had half the week off, so at the start of the week I spring cleaned (umm….in June), made my favorite pie (strawberry-rhubarb), and got ready for our camping trip at the races.  My bf’s hobby is racing motorcycles, and when he goes to the track, he camps there.  Since I had the time off, I was able to go with him.  I’m not able to go every time, unfortunately.  I was so excited to get to be there! I love getting to see him race!  It’s so exciting, and I love that his hobby is so unique and requires such a complex skill set, from actually riding to maintaining the bike.  I also love camping and camping at the track is a wonderful different kind of camping.  The excitement of being at the track and hanging out with the racers and their families and pit crews around the campfire at night is so much fun.  My dad bought us a grill, so I was finally able to cook most of our foods at the track.  I took to pinterest and discovered lots of fun things you can grill.  I made us grilled tofu tacos, grilled quesadillas, breakfast of course, and, our favorite, zucchini parmesan.  I loved getting to spend so much time on one of my hobbies while supporting my boyfriend’s.

With my vacation in there, I’m pleased with how many book reviews I managed to write this month (eight).  I had dubbed June the month of reading ARCs, and I managed to get through four of them this month, taking my total number of TBR ARCs down to 16.  I finished designing a new cross-stitch pattern, but I have yet to post it since it is a present, and the recipient has yet to receive it!  This month I’ll be working on my first commission.  I’m excited to show it to you guys when I’m finished.

Happy reading!

Friday Fun! (April: Busyness and Hiking)

View of Boston city skyline

The view of Boston on our hike.

Hello my lovely readers!

April was such a busy month, I can actually hardly believe it’s over already!  It’s always a busy month for me at work, as I help organize and run an annual event on-campus.  In addition this month, we also welcomed a new program to our campus, so the library was very busy putting in the groundwork for supporting students studying that new subject area.  I also submitted my first-ever poster abstract.  So busy!  On top of this, the weekend of my work event was the same weekend as the first motorcycle race weekend of the season for my partner.  He was incredibly busy prepping for the races.  Instead of just the normal getting everything running again after the long winter, he also was prepping a new (to him) race bike to be track ready.  Since I couldn’t go with him for the first race weekend, I wanted to send along something nice, so I made him a pie and cookies for carb-loading at the track.  I honestly found the baking to be stress-relieving and really enjoyed it.  I’m happy to report both the work event and the first race weekend went well!

In spite of the busyness, we were able to squeeze in quite a few hangouts with friends and dates for ourselves.  One of our dates was to hike a local trail on Easter Sunday.  It was gorgeous weather in a month of a lot of iffy weather.  I always find it so refreshing to get outside and in the woods, and even more so with my boyfriend.  We saw lots of jack-in-the-pulpits and also got a great view of Boston.

My stitching slowed down a bit this month, although I did release the first design in a new line–rhubarb in foraging New England.  The rest of the patterns for the line are designed but they still need to be trial-stitched! I hope to release at least one of them this month.

I read and reviewed four books this month, sticking to my overall goal of one book a week.  I’ll be happy if I manage to stick to that during my upcoming even busier month of May! In my own writing, I’m still working away whenever I have the time on my new book idea, writing background short stories.  The typewriter my bf got me for Christmas is coming in really handy, freeing me of distractions.

Happy reading!

Friday Fun! (August: First Anniversary! Beaches! Ok, ok, and also orientations and tooth extractions)

August 31, 2013 2 comments
Image of the ocean with a seagull walking along the edge on the beach.

A seagull at Revere Beach.

Hello my lovely readers!

August is always a bit of a tough month for me, because it’s when the students arrive back at my university.  I wind up teaching a lot of orientation classes and also just flat-out am much busier doing one-on-one orientations to the library.  While I truly enjoy teaching, I’m also an introvert and, thus, interactions with people drain me of energy, so I come home and collapse in exhaustion at the end of these days.  A friend who also works in academia joked that everyone in academia runs around for the month of August yelling, “The students are coming! The students are coming!” in a Paul Revere voice. Very true.

I also, unfortunately, had to have a medical procedure this month.  My dentist deemed it necessary for my wisdom teeth to come out as soon as possible, so I managed to find the one slow week at work and booked the appointment to get them ripped out.  I only had three wisdom teeth, the fourth never developed (yay for being 25% more evolved woooo).  They were all fully erupted, though (fully came in, not impacted).  The procedure, thus, was quick and simple, although it still was bloody and painful, and I had to convalesce for a few days.  The worst part, by far, was having to eat soft foods for a minimum of 3 days.  I work out a lot and am a hungry panda and frankly I just like crunching things.  I was very happy to be back to eating!  My partner took great care of me, and I laid around watching old movies and playing Harvest Moon while I was recuperating.

This month wasn’t all difficulty and stress, though.  It was also mine and my boyfriend’s first anniversary!  We went away for an evening to an inn in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.  Our room had a two-person hot tub and was truly divine.  Plus, the inn had 5 star dining, and my partner called ahead and told them I’m vegetarian, so the chef prepared a full 4 courses of vegetarian options for me, which was the first time I ever got to actually have 5 star food.  He’s so thoughtful.  🙂  It was so wonderful to get to actually get away to celebrate our first anniversary.  I’m glad we were able to get out of the city, even for one night, but I’m even more grateful to have found my partner. 😀

We also finally got a chance to go to the beach.  We went to America’s first public beach, Revere.  We took the motorcycle there, and stripping out of motorcycle gear down to a bikini underneath was hilariously awesome.  I was really impressed at how nice Revere Beach is!! It has a lovely boardwalk and plenty of room for how popular it is.  Everyone was nice and polite, and it was wonderfully relaxing.  We’re going to have to plan more 2up beach trips in the future 🙂

As for the blog, I managed to mostly catch up in book reviews.  I now am only one review behind! Woohoo!

As for my writerly pursuits, I’ve figured out a method to work more writing into my day, and I’m really glad to be back in the saddle.  It helps, of course, that my partner and I are now living together.  It’s so much easier to plan for things when you’re taking care of one house instead of two.

How was everyone else’s Augusts?  What was your biggest stress and your best relaxer?

*waves*

Friday Fun! (June: Let’s Talk About Motorcycle Racing Because That Was the Best Part of June)

Motard burning out for the crowd on his cool-down lap.

Motard burning out for the crowd on his cool-down lap.

Hello my lovely readers!

Well, July just snuck right up on me.  I even accidentally tried to use my old monthly pass on the T.  June was so busy, it just flew right by!

The most exciting thing I got to do this month was I got to take an extra long weekend and go see my boyfriend race in the 90th annual Loudon Classic at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway!  Of course, I got to see all the other races too, but the best part was finally getting to see him race and be his umbrella girl and pit crew. 🙂  The racers generally camp at the track, and when we got there, they let me in as family of a racer, which made all of my insides squee, since that was the first time we were called family.  I helped him set up the camp and met his racer friends.  It’s incredible. Everyone is so competitive on the track but the direct opposite in the camp.  Our neighbors gave us coffee every morning, and we shot the shit around the campfire every night.  When our neighbor had a crash (very common in motorcycle racing), my bf immediately gave him tools and various other things to help fix it, and I knew that everyone would do the same for him.

So what did I do as pit crew?  Mostly I helped him put the tire warmers on the motorcycle and helped him get the bike on and off the stand.  Also I was the pep talk and cheerleader, obviously.  Tire warmers are these blanket like things that you put on the wheels of the motorcycle to keep the rubber warm.  Warmer rubber makes for better traction.  You have to pull them off right before going to the pit to grid up.  (Frankly, I thought they looked like wheel condoms.  Yeah, I said it).  Also, track bikes don’t have kickstands, so you have to put the bike on this lever-like stand separate from it (see one here), and it’s much easier for the racer to be on the bike already and have someone else release it from the stand.  Someone else would have helped him if I wasn’t there, but it was fun to get to do it for him.  I also got to fulfill one of his lifelong dreams and be his umbrella girl.  When the bikes are waiting in the pit to enter the track, it can be really hot, since they are in full gear in direct sun.  So some racers have “umbrella girls” (who can be either gender, actually) to hold an umbrella over them to keep them cool until it’s time to enter the track.  So I got to meet up with him in the pit grid and do that, and it was really fun to be that close to the actual track and talk to him right before his race.

Since this was the 90th annual Loudon Classic, there were a couple of special events.  There were sidecar racers, mini cars that ran on motorcycle engines, and a motard race.  The sidecar race is incredible.  In order to go at track speeds with a sidecar, the person in the sidecar, called a monkey, has to throw their body weight around from left to right to help with the corners.  It is incredibly difficult to explain, so just watch this video if you want to understand why it’s so badass.  Motards are dirt bikes outfitted with street tires.  The motard racers got to go off the track onto the grass, through the trees, and use a jump.  You can see one of the racers burning out in the photo above.  A lot of racers will do tricks during the cool-down lap at the portions of the track where there are spectators.

I learned so much by going to the track. I learned that crashes on the track are usually not that big of a deal because the racers are wearing full gear.  Our neighbor was in two crashes, one was a 5-bike pile-up, and all he had wrong with him was a cut on his pinky and a pulled shoulder.  I also learned that racing isn’t the crazy, testosterone-filled sport it’s thought to be.  It’s a fun, low-key, supportive environment.  Although, that doesn’t take away from its sexiness.  If anything the camaraderie of the racers makes the whole thing sexier.  It’s all the sexiness of motorcycles mixed with some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  Kind of the direct opposite of your typical Harley crew.

Oh, I also learned that partners of racers are called “racer chasers,” and I am deeply amused by the fact that you can now call me that.  Amanda. Writer. Blogger. Racer Chaser.

Also, I’ve officially told my bf that I want to learn to sidecar race, and we’re planning on building a mock practice sidecar to practice on this winter in the garage. So hopefully one day you can add sidecar monkey to that list. 😛