Saturday, 22 August 2020

Book Review - Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyers

Two Stars

Beware! There will be spoilers for this book and the original Twilight Saga aplenty here!

Look, I don’t actually hate the Twilight books. I think I need to make that clear upfront because I suspect that I am not going to have a lot positive to say about Stephanie Meyer’s latest book Midnight Sun, a retelling of Twilight from the point of view of Edward Cullen.

The original four books were fine. The story arc actually made a lot of sense once the reader reached the end of the story. Bella Swann was born to be a vampire. Literally. That’s why she was so klutzy as a human, she’d been living as the wrong species for seventeen years. She was somehow already imbued with the supernatural spooky woo magic and nobody really realised until she got to Forks. A place where presumably there was enough residual werewolf/vampire magic sloshing around to ensure that Bella – hitherto nondescript and ignored by the boys at her Arizona school - was even a desirable siren to the muggles.

And she was of course irresistible to Edward the brooding vampire. They fall into a love that is deep and wide and heavy and all-consuming and stuff and a whole bunch of dangerous hi-jinks ensue before the happy couple (and their magical offspring) get their happy ending and go skipping off into the sunrise.

Which is all well and good. But we did that already. Why the need for the new book? Why, specifically did I feel the need to spend £10.99 on a book where at least 50% of the text is exactly the same as a book I’ve already purchased? There should have been some kind of discount for people who bought the original book, surely? I’ve already paid for this dialogue!

And, while we’re questioning the wisdom of me buying this book in the first place, why am I reviewing it here on a website that is usually focused on fiction which a good deal more sexy, spanky and salacious than this high-school-based apparently doomed romance? I don’t really have a good answer to that. I feel that Twilight does fit in quite happily amongst my usual sort of romantic fare. The tropes are the same, there’s a flawed hero and a submissive-yet-feisty heroine, obstacles to be overcome and (eventually) a happy ever after that will literally go on for ever in this case. There are lines like “She gasped in reaction, her lips parting against mine, the fever of her breath burning my skin”. And, of course, Twilight famously inspired the Fifty Shades of Grey books.

The story begins with Bella’s first day at her new school. Edward – in whose brain the reader will now live for the next 671 pages – is all too aware of the arrival of the new girl. This is because he is besieged with the thoughts of all the other students and they all seem to be thinking “There’s a new girl starting today, wonder what she’s like?”

The way in which the innermost thoughts of the local human population are depicted is my first real problem with this book. All the thoughts that Edward eavesdrops on seem remarkably tidy. People apparently think in full sentences as though they’re composing their daily journal.

I really don’t think people think that way. I certainly don’t. I have no idea how I would begin to write down the jumbled, cacophonous noise that makes up my continual inner monologue; the snippets of songs, imaginary conversations, berating inner critical voice and the Tourettes-like mental blurtings running through my head – usually all at the same time.

You can see why Meyers doesn’t try to render this sort of stream of consciousness into words in Midnight Sun. It would turn the whole thing into some kind of sub-Joycean gobbledegook. And, really, everybody else’s thoughts are only there as a plot device. Edward’s head-hopping is one of the many creepy ways that he can keep a metaphorical eye on Bella.

I can accept that the vampire characters have tidier more organised thoughts than the rest of us. They know that they’re being listened to, for one thing. Also, vampires are Weird and Not Like Us Humans. I think that’s the one bit of vampire canon we can agree on.

Not Like Us

The most original bits of the book – and therefore the most interesting – are when Edward takes trips down memory lane and we discover more about what he was up to during his early pre-Bella vampire years. Why couldn’t we have had more of that? A Twilight prequel would have been a lot more fun than a scene-by-scene re-telling of an existing book.

The first half of this book really drags. We’re way past the halfway mark before Edward even does his sparkly skin party trick. (And the build-up to that goes on forever. It’s tedious having to listen to Edward worry about how Bella is going to find him repulsive and disgusting once she finds out e can look like he’s made of diamonds. Because, yeah, humans hate sparkly things, obviously. The whole nature of Edward’s hideous skin aberration is kept coyly under wraps during Edward’s prolonged mithering. We already know that he glitters like a Claire’s Accessories headband in the sunlight! There can’t be a single person reading this book who hasn’t either read the books, watched the films or seen at least one of the hundreds of Twilight Tinkerbell memes


The minutiae of Bella’s mostly humdrum life is fascinating to Edward. Not so much for the rest of us. Did everything take so long to happen in the original book? Quite possibly. I think I have compressed all four Twilight books into one narrative in my head so I’ve forgotten how much of the first book was just spent faffing about.

Like the original book, it all kicks off later on with perilous mortal danger and whatnot. But it isn’t improved any by being narrated by one of the undead.

He might be over a hundred years old but this glimpse into Edward’s psyche just demonstrates that he is in fact a whiny little seventeen year old at heart. At one point Edward says “I wished … I wouldn’t have time to obsess over and over again about the same problems”. So do we, Edward. So do we.

This book was twelve years in the making. I’m sure Twilight’s many fans are pleased that it’s here. But really, there was little point in it existing in the first place. If there are any new insights into Edward’s character, I’m afraid it was all rather lost in the relentless teenage existential angst. Edward Cullen is literally a mythological creature, you think it would be fun time to spend time in the head of a monster. Sadly, Meyers has demonstrated that it isn’t.



Wednesday, 19 August 2020

The Joy of Wet Ass Pussies


A lot of people seem to be weighing in on Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s song WAP so I may as well add my own voice to the chorus of ill-informed opinion despite, like so many other commentators, having literally no qualifications to do so.

At least, unlike Ben Shapiro I am not going to smugly tell people that vaginal lubrication is an indicator of a medical disorder. (It isn’t, Ben and if your wife is telling you that’s why she’s not getting wet during your marital intimate time, I think she might be sparing your feelings.) Nor am I like Russell Brand  who can join the large and ignoble group of supposedly woke menfolk telling women that they’re doing feminism wrong. Bitches love it when you mansplain feminism to them, Russ. Always a winner, that one.

WAP is not the sort of song I usually listen to. My Spotify playlists are mostly full of music from the 60s and 70s which is odd because I was only six when the seventies ended.

But my newsfeeds are full of people celebrating women celebrating sex and other people (presumably time travellers) expressing horror that a lady might do anything in the bedroom but lie back and think of England. And that pushes it into my particular area of interest.

I like sex. I like sex-positive people. I also rather like it when people who want to shame women for liking sex get upset and then get their arse handed to them on a plate.

So here we go, the Good, the Bad and the Sexy about Wet Ass Pussy.

The Good

The Video

Just all of it, really. From the opening shots of lactating pond statues to Cardi and Megan’s almost slapstick exit and everything that happens in between. It’s fun-packed theme park of light-hearted erotica and they all look like they’re having a marvellous time.

“Macaroni in the pot”

In a whole song full of bonkers lyrics, ‘Macaroni in the pot’ in the bonkerest. But hell, why not? I suspect that Cardi B took a bet that she could make anything sound dirty in the right context especially if she did that hand gesture at the same time. “What’s the least sexy thing you can think of?” “Um, macaroni?” “Challenge accepted!”

“Swipe your nose like a credit card”

A wonderfully evocative image. I am including this in my come-hither bedroom banter forthwith.

“Bring a bucket and a mop”

Yes, this list of the good stuff is just mostly a list of my favourite lyrics because, well, they’re great. With this, our bad-ass ladies are both informing their gentlemen friends that (a) there’s going to be a lot of pleasurable excretions when they’re together and (b) if anyone is going to clean it up, well it’s not going to be them.

The Bad

Whores in this house

I’m a middle aged white woman from one of the whitest, most middle-class, most conservative areas of England. I am not this song’s intended audience. Which is probably why I’m baffled by the Al “T” McLaran’s “Whores in this house” sample from which is used throughout this song. Is it being used ironically? Have young cool women reclaimed the word ‘whore’ in the same way that LGBT people have reclaimed the word ‘queer’? I’m probably missing something important but to my ears, having a male voice refer to the women in this video as whores in the midst of their female empowerment sounds very jarring.

Transactional Sex

And again, this is my middle-class white Englishness shining through like a big shiny beacon, but I am a bit puzzled by the number of references to transactional sex in this song. Like “Pay my tuition just to kiss me on this wet-ass pussy.” Hold up ladies, are we talking about having sex for the sheer unashamed joy of it or is it about having the sexy times for material benefit? I think those two things don’t necessarily overlap all that often.

Big cats

OK, I know the leopard and tigers featured in this video were added afterwards with CGI. But that doesn’t excuse using actual wild animals as a shortcut to “ostentatious wealth” in the song. Those big cats were being held in captivity and filmed by someone. Give the beasts some dignity. Has Tiger King taught us nothing? And the snakes shouldn’t have been there either.

The Sexy


There are a lot of references to kinky shit in this song and it’s great. Megan Thee Stallion sings about whips and leashes and tell us that she’s “lookin' for a beatin'”. I appreciate that a beating in this sense might be referring to vigorous penis pounding from an enthusiastic sex partner. But whenever I’m talking about beating, I’m talking about spanking so that was how I interpreted this lyric. And because I want there to be references to spanking everywhere I’m sticking to that.

The outfits.

This video is just a dream for lovers of fetishwear. From Cardi and Megan’s day-glo corsets to their latex and fishnet swimsuits, the whole thing is kinky as fuck and all the better for it. The celebrity cameos in this video showcase some great outfits too. Special shout out to Normani’s latex houndstooth bodysuit. Smart and practical! You could wear it literally anywhere.

The full-on unashamed enjoyment of sex.

Let’s talk about sex. A lot. In enthusiastic detail. And let’s not spare of the blushes of anyone who doesn’t think it’s ladylike to talk about gushing. That’s the message I got from this video. It’s a wonderfully empowering message to girls and women everywhere.

Sense of humour

Everyone knows that a sense of humour is the sexiest thing there is. And Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion clearly have that in spades. Sex might be sexy but it’s also fun. WAP embraces its over-the-top silliness, enjoys itself thoroughly and invites everybody watching to join in the fun.

And for that, ladies, I applaud you.