|Reviews for Like Eiderdown & Disendowers|
| Jalux chapter 14 . 1/7/2014
I really liked the conversation between Rebecca and Phelan, there was a definite sense of tension there and the emotion really came across well, nicely-written. Honestly Phelan is a bit too nasty, but I think it's necessary, you also manage to make him talk like he's both crazy and intelligent at the same time. Personally I don't think major revising is needed, the dialogue is still very good and the character interactions were interesting in this chapter. Still iffy on Jen and Dan, it seems less interesting when compared to Rebecca's situation.
| Jitterbug Blues chapter 23 . 1/4/2014
So I'm a bit distressed today - nothing big, just general malaise, and the promise of an annoying work shift tomorrow not making me very keen on being lol giddy-happy. I also should catch a nap before I'm required to do a bit more of editing on 'Carnations' Wake'.
But I'll just review. I really love the writing in this chapter. It's more downplayed than the chapters in the beginning of this story were, but it's also more tender and also very honest. I really liked the scene at the bus stop, for example, just for how gentle and sad it seems. It's a bit bittersweet. I also liked the scenes at the beginning, with Rebecca cutting her off and trying to contemplate what her state of being is. It's very bitter and jaded, but I think it feels very honest and raw without being overdramatic. Also, I feel like I should reflect on Rebecca's emotional state, but I lack the clever words or the insight. It just rings true...is that good for you? That it just ...seems very honest, and I myself often felt like this (especially this wish to just disappear, or going through bad hair cuts - yeah I've done those lol).
1. I think I got it, in essence. I just have a hard time talking about feelings or emotions because I'm not sure what to say, really. I've said before that Rebecca is broken and that those events have really changed her, and marked her in what I don't necessarily feel is a good way. I do think that college and leaving everything behind is the only way for her to really escape. Even if it meant leaving her innocence behind. I might re-read other reviews to see what others thought of this scene, but I find it hard to pinpoint: it's just that Rebecca is going through this stage of in-betweenness where you're no longer a child, but not quite a woman yet either. I forgot to say - I do like how you addressed the whole survivor's issues thing. I don't feel it was offensive in any way. The bluntness was refreshing.
2. I think I'm a bit too sad/affected by this chapter to be greatly nitpicky. If I went back to re-read I'd always find something sure; I sometimes think you dithered a bit too much, and the whole passage with Dan and the sex scene - well I felt like skimming that. I'm not a big fan of romanticised sex scenes, and the whole passage with the woman and her elder husband was, maybe, just a tad too melodramatic for me. But I'm only addressing those things because you actually asked :P I guess I just feel annoyed that Dan is talking about 'helping' Rebecca while he's sleeping with her and clearly losing himself in her youth (and the sex she offers).
3. Haha, not really. I'm curious to see how you'll end this, since I've come this far already. I want to know how you'll tie in the whole Phelan shebang and deal with Rebecca and Dan's relationship. Actually I'd love for you to write more on Phelan's backstory; I wasn't lying when I said that this was probably my favourite chapter in the story so far (lol).
4. If I’m honest, I don't root for them. It's just that Rebecca is too broken to be with anyone at this point, least of all her English teacher. I also think that Dan is with her for the wrong reasons - he wants to protect her, guard her, and I feel that this isn't really what Rebecca needs? But you know, I love this story a lot, for how it makes us think and doesn't necessarily romanticise the relationship. I’d rather see Rebecca leave the town, and just start a new life of her own. But no matter how you end this story, I’m still really in love with your style and the general complexity.
| alltheeagles chapter 20 . 1/4/2014
The opening is lovely. It’s straightforward romance writing, and a good example of it at that. You don’t need to know anything about Dan and Rebecca, just that they are a couple in love, in order to enjoy this part. The part on the test was good too – I liked the dinosaur reference a lot. All in all, I liked this chapter very much! Which goes to show that I like your romance writing but was distracted by the age difference; once I got over that everything’s swell.
Yes, you’re right, the ending is indeed very bare. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it contributes to a sense of emergency and impending disaster. Yes, you ended with a cliffhanger, which would get many people’s goat, but me, I have absolutely nothing against that.
-He HAD found the bridge (the phantom past perfect strikes again)
-They might see of white-tailed deer (missing word?)
| alltheeagles chapter 19 . 1/4/2014
The first part was beautifully bittersweet. The thoughts of her mother interlaced with her seach for the pills was what made her actions poignant rather than cold-heartedly pragmatic. The second part... well it still came as a surprise, even with all the preparation that was described. I don’t know, I suppose all along I just thought it would be Dan taking the lead (in retrospect, it was probably all the hype about him trying not to lose control that led to that assumption) rather than her kind of asking him to.
I’m not sure about how Hannah’s ‘presentation’ ties in with what Rebecca did, but I suppose it could be taken as a comment on how Rebecca is also so wrapped up in her own problems that she’s not losing touch with her friends.
In response to your questions: the strongest part for me was the beginning, the weakest about Hannah, as explained above. The flow is good, I think, kind of choronology-ish. Dan and Rebecca’s first time was actually only alluded to, but that’s reasonable given the T rating. It wasn’t subtle in the sense that you made it clear that it did happen, what with the mention of bloody bedsheets, but it wasn’t in-your-face either, so I think you got the balance about right.
| Jitterbug Blues chapter 22 . 1/3/2014
I'm not going to say that anything was confusing, because it was all very clear and beautiful. And if I didn't review earlier, then it was because I was busy, and just didn't want to ruin the pleasure of having to catch up on those chapters. Because it's chapter 22 too now, and I remember reading this story on a whim two months ago, and thinking that I'd never really enjoy a romance novel - but I am :).
I'll start on the writing - the tension was gorgeous during the gun/confrontation scene. I think the tension was right there, with the lines you kept repeating, and how you made clear that Rebecca was scared. I also liked how she was in denial, at first, over Phelan's story. But how she did eventually come to accept it, even if it hurt her.
I love Phelan, I admit. He's such a charming, creepy bastard. I also just like how he plays mindgames with them all - Rebecca and even Dan. I've realised now that he's really corrupted Rebecca: her life is in shambles because of him, and I like that Dan finally realised that - that he's not the right person for her, after all. But eh, we'll see if this continues in the next chapter. As I said, I'm still not really sure I support this romance, because Rebecca is really messed up, and I do think she needs to really redefine her own values before hooking up with a man who's lost and lonely as Dan is.
I'm not always clear about the motivations of the characters, but I don't see that as a bad thing. It means they're complex and multi-layered, especially Phelan and even Rebecca now. She's definitely been changing and I do wonder how else she'll evolve. As for Dan - I still think that he has a tendency to just disappear. He's so helpless in this situation, and I'm starting to think it's really intentional - like you're making it clear that he really cannot help Rebecca in any way but is just a flight.
Haha, I might be completely wrong but I rather enjoy interpreting this story.
Also what was love: the Physics reference in this chapter :3
| Jalux chapter 13 . 1/3/2014
Rebecca's love for physics felt like a nice piece of characterization and kind of fits with her character to be honest, so yeah I like how you keep building upon your characters. This chapter sort of feels like a build-up chapter, the plot doesn't seem to move much but that's fine because it's nice to take a break once in a while and build up your characters and prepare everything for a plot-filled chapter. Phelan kinda seems more and more dislike-able each chapter for me, especially his mistake in this chapter. Overall, just a solid chapter to read, good grammar and good character developing.
| Jalux chapter 12 . 1/3/2014
I thought the first scene was a nice change of pace from your more serious writing, it's kinda heart warming to read some light conversation and a meal. I think this chapter did quite a bit for Rebecca's character, particular her interaction with others so I really liked that she seems more open and jokes around a bit. I think the dream could use a little work however, the emotional aspect was lacking there, you had a dream scene earlier in the story which I felt was much stronger.
| Dr. Self Destruct chapter 23 . 1/1/2014
Going to review a bit while I read, then I'll answer your questions at the end.
I like these little details you give of the counselor right in the beginning with the mirror. One thing I always noticed about your writing is that you give even minor characters little unique ticks and quirks, which makes them a lot easier to remember and breathes a large amount of life into them from the very beginning, making them feel much more human. Instead of a paper cut-out, or like a cookie cutter character that meets a certain trope, you always give them mannerisms that are very human and reflect a certain personality about them. I was smiling at the comment that the counselor keeps the mirror there to check the clock when she has annoying students in her office, lol.
I like the disorientation at the beginning of this chapter. I think it's really effective in showing how Rebecca is feeling. I remember reading this after you updated, and now reading it again it's a lot clearer the second time around. I think it's really cool when stuff is like that - shows there's a lot of layers, and it takes another reading to get into those deeper ones. But it's also just disorienting enough to give it that full effect of mirroring Rebecca's current mental state during a cold reading to where when I get to the paragraph that describes her in her bathroom between the tub and toilet, I'm surprised we're not in the counselor's office. And I'm also feeling really bad for Rebecca, because there's obviously something going on inside her head that she needs help to deal with.
The way she sort of sees the cutting of her hair in this scene as an attempt to shed what had happened to her makes me think of this novella I read called "Green Angel." In that book, the MC gave herself tattoos after her family died in order to distract herself from the mental pain by inflicting physical pain. By the end of the book the tattoos went from black to green (to symbolize nature and a rediscovery in herself), so I see some similarities between both situations: they do this thing, like Rebecca cutting her hair, as a way to try and cope with what they've been through.
You have some really nice imagery through this, especially ones that address the sense of touch. Really liking the way you keep bringing up the hair - the inner English major in me wants to interpret it as something a person can lose without worrying about pain or dying. A part of our bodies that is expendable and can be shed like a snake's skin. I'm thinking Rebecca is subconsciously hoping that cutting her hair will rid her of the memories she had to go through, but the hair just seems to keep slipping off the paper and sticking to her, reminding her that you can't just cut off and throw away something as terrible as what happened to her.
That part with the bus stop and the couple is really cute. I think it not only shows the type of relationship Dan and Rebecca can have, but that it's also a little more common and more widely accepted than it was in the past for there to be such a big age gap between people.
In answer to your author's note:
1.) I think I might have already answered this question. Going a little more in-depth with her "survivor" comments, I can totally see her reasoning and how when you're a survivor that's all people will think about you. It's sort of a label that society sees as something good and positive, but it's also a label that'll never let you forget about what you were forced to survive, no matter how much you might want to. Cancer survivors spring to mind above all else. I'm sure not all cancer survivors want to be remembered as such, especially because it brings them back to a place where I'm sure they'd rather not be what someone brings up the subject. So while I think being a "survivor" might give some people strength and a drive to try and prevent what they were forced to survive, I think for others it sort of stigmatizes them with a memory they're now never allowed to forget.
2.) The only line I might be nit-picky about is the one where Tom offers Rebecca the wine like an olive branch. If I remember my Greek mythology correctly, the olive tree is a symbol for Athena, goddess of strategy and wisdom. But that's really the only connection I could make and I'm not sure how it links into Rebecca's situation or her character. If he was handing her a martini I think that might make a little more sense since you put olives in martinis, but yeah, the olive branch - I wasn't sure what type of simile that was supposed to be, or if it was making a reference to something literary.
3.) I don't have any questions that I can think of right now, no. Everything seems to have pretty much fallen into place and I think each character has so far found a place where they at least somewhat belong. Like Phelan leaving the school and Tom getting on the inside with that stock exchange stuff that might not be entirely legal.
4.) I'm still a little squicky with how young Rebecca is, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy this story. I really do. And I love how you're able to approach such a taboo subject as this in such a polished and mature way - I really appreciate this story for what it is and what it does, and I love reading things that make me question whether or not what i think or what society has taught me to think is really right or wrong. Who are we to determine when someone is mature enough to dive into a relationship with someone much older than them? My sister has been with a guy that's old enough to be her dad for about 10 years now, and they have 2 kids together. Of course, my sister was 26 when they got together, so it's a bit different. I think it's not really the age that bothers me, but Rebecca's vulnerable state of mind. And I think the only thing that makes me willing to believe she might be able to handle this type of relationship in her current state is that from what i've seen of Dan, I don't think he'd take advantage of her. So I think the way you've molded the characters and situation is what makes me, ultimately, able to think that by the end of this I think they should be together. But then again, like I already mentioned, this type of thing (determining a person's maturity just by their age) is something I question very often. Who am I decide that Rebecca can't handle this just because she's a teenager?
let me know if you have any other questions or if you'd like some more clarification on anything i said. I can't wait for the last chapter! and don't worry, I'm sure you'll get to it as soon as you're ready. :) Update soon!
| AppleCinnamon chapter 14 . 12/31/2013
I can't decide how I feel about Jen. I kind of liked having this neutral party looking at the exchanges between Dan and Phelan, but there are moments when she feels off. I can't help wondering if maybe Phelan has some sort of dirt hanging over her, or if they're seeing each other (which would explain why Phelan made such a brazen move last chapter when Dan's posed no threat so far).
Phelan seemed to go back to being an intelligent sociopath this chapter. The seeds of doubt he planted in Rebecca were handled quite well, and as much as I hate the guy, I really have to appreciate him as an antagonist. I also loved how it tied in with Henry's question regarding physics in the real world.
This chapter probably had the strongest emotion so far, particularly in the tension department. I really enjoyed it, and honestly I don't think there's really anything about it that needs revision.
| AppleCinnamon chapter 13 . 12/31/2013
I have to admit that I wanted to face-palm with how the envelope thing was handled. Phelan hasn't gotten this far by being stupid, so simply presenting an envelope in the middle of a teachers' meeting was well beyond the realm of believability where he's concerned. All Dan had to do is call attention to Phelan being the one to deliver it, not to mention his 'colorful past', as Jen put it, and Phelan would be screwed this way and back while Dan, at the most, would have an investigation that goes nowhere. And tying the ribbons to the condom wrapper? That screams setup on too many levels for any law enforcement agent to not know it's fabricated evidence.
On Dan's side, I have a lot of trouble believing that he would simply sit back and say or do nothing about the envelope. He wants to protect Rebecca, and yet he's letting Phelan put him into a position where he won't be able to do so, first by creating a situation where they can't be alone together without suspicion, and in the long run by potentially getting Dan locked up, temporarily or not where there'll be absolutely nothing he can do.
These two are not idiots, so I don't understand why either of them are behaving otherwise and taking such unnecessary risks.
Rebecca's decision to go back to school has a misguided boldness to it, but it's definitely understandable and much more believable than the guys' actions. I really also liked how you got into Rebecca's love for physics. Given what she's been through so far, I felt you really timed her need for control and order very well.
Sarah came out of left field, and I have to say I really enjoyed her. She was much more interesting than Arielle and Hannah have been, and I'm really hoping to see more of her. She almost seems like she would fit nicely into an "unlikely friendship" sort of relationship with Rebecca.
| AppleCinnamon chapter 12 . 12/31/2013
As the story goes on, the imagery seems to growing heavier. The last few chapters have been pretty good, but maybe sprinkle it a bit more throughout the chapter instead of lumping the majority of it together. At times it feels like the environment detail after the opening of a scene/chapter is inserted more as a reminder of where they are, rather than a part of the story itself. The exception in this chapter, however, would be the cornfield, which I thought you handled very nicely and consistently throughout the scene.
[Okay, so this chapter is sort of a conclusion to the first plot arch,]
A bit of a random note, I actually thought chapter 10 was the intro to the next plot arc. The framing at the end of chapter 9 and start of 10 have a strong sense of "That was that part, now here's the next," while this chapter feels much more like an early lull in a new plot.
[What do you think of Arielle and Hannah?]
Arielle and Hannah didn't really strike me as anything special. Pretty well template boy-focused extras more than anything. Hannah seemed like she might have some more interesting qualities, but overall I didn't find myself interested in either of them.
[I've been experimenting with writing Dan's dream. I wanted it to be a bit disorienting and overwhelming. Rebecca in Dan's dream is his interpretation of her, so (I hope!) she might appear slightly different from actual Rebecca.]
In Dan's dream Rebecca seemed to come off as more of a child. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you; given he wants a family and all, it makes sense he would dream about her in a childlike manner. Dream Rebecca definitely didn't feel like the actual Rebecca, though.
For the writing of the dream itself I didn't find it particularly overwhelming or disorienting, beyond a visual asthetic of the dialogue handling. The corn was perhaps the most eye-catching aspect, simply for its uniqueness. The rest of the dream, though, seemed lacking in emotion and I didn't really find myself connecting to it.
| AppleCinnamon chapter 11 . 12/31/2013
The pacing felt a bit weird this chapter. The first part during the drive and then while eating felt pretty good, but after that the chapter felt kind of fast and slow, particularly the last scene. I really enjoyed getting to know Jen, but at the same time it felt like the scene lasted longer than it should have.
[What do you think of her now?]
I'd have to say Rebecca is still emotionally unhinged, to be honest. During her cynical and almost manic musing on roadkill and lust, I couldn't help thinking of a friend when her PTSD was really bad some years back. If the intent was to get to know Rebecca in a neutral state, I think perhaps it would be better to work on her character before her conflict with Phelan. Perhaps this was her neutral behavior before, but going back and refreshing myself on previous chapters, I didn't really get this doom-and-gloom side of her. My impression of her now, though, is that she's still to some degree unreliable.
Very grisly imagery this chapter, and I'd have to say perhaps the most memorable. Roadkill is not something I would have expected for a chapter hook, but you executed it wonderfully and led into the chapter very well.
| AppleCinnamon chapter 10 . 12/31/2013
One thing I felt would help emphasize the dream is if dialogue was given some visual cue. Not necessarily quotations, but perhaps bolden Phelan's dialogue to punctuate the helplessness the dream brings Rebecca. This is a purely style thing, though. When handling flashbacks, I would definitely say stick to proper dialogue formatting.
Regarding the flashback presentation, the line between narrative exposition and Rebecca and Dan relating their pasts is very muddled; I'm not really sure just how much either of them said, and how much was introspect.
Very nice touch with Rebecca's sensitivity to the word "Us". It's such a little thing, but says a lot about her own state of mind at the moment.
1. Pretty well what I'm getting from Dan is some emotional immaturity that is now working in tandem with some unresolved grief for Sophie. He does seem to be smartening up a bit this chapter (having the sense to not barge in on Rebecca, for example), so in that sense he's understandable, but his interest in Rebecca as a potential partner doesn't feel all that healthy for either of them. There's definitely hope for a healthy relationship between them, but they're a long way off.
2. I actually remembered her from chapter 3 during the dance. She definitely sounds much more like an adult this time around, if a bit of an abrasive one.
3. I didn't find it particularly awkward. The timing made a lot of sense, to be honest. It seemed to me like he was looking to establish some trust with Rebecca so she would feel a bit safer and open up to him. I actually thought for flow it would have worked better if he related his story about Sophie before she finally opened up.
| AppleCinnamon chapter 9 . 12/30/2013
I loved the build up of Dan's relationship with Sophie. It felt like a very natural development, and really gave younger Dan a hopeless romantic quality. His thoughts on "The One" also made for a very nice lead-in to the present.
I really appreciate how consistent you are with Tom. When he hasn't been drinking he comes off as just insensitive, but then when he's been drinking he turns into a complete asshole, which leaves me wondering if there might be some underlying plot for him, such as a potential road to redemption alcoholic story.
Given all that's happened, I was a bit surprised at first that Rebecca caved in with Dan, but thinking more on it I think you did a good job building up an "any port in a storm" mentality. I thought it was a bit naive for Dan to think insisting Rebecca stay in a stranger's bedroom was a good idea, but then I wondered if maybe his thought process was to ensure that she didn't take off and get herself into some sort of trouble. Maybe something to hint at his thought-process on this aspect?
Very good pacing and tension throughout the chapter. The confrontation with Tom seemed a bit slower than other tension moments, but I think it really helped to build empathy for Rebecca, and even Dan to a degree.
| alltheeagles chapter 18 . 12/28/2013
Right, so now I see the point of Rebecca’s interaction with Pete in chp 15, so that this (Rebecca applying for a job) could happen here. Only to be soured by Phelan’s presence. The guy is everywhere. What happened between him and Elise that was so bad that he’s making Rebecca’s life so miserable now? You’ve dropped plenty of clues, and I’m all for withholding some info in the interests of suspense, but it might be about time to give something more substantial.
I see my problem now. I’m letting my real life knowledge distort my interpretation of this story. I should just accept that this is a star-crossed lovers story, treat it like Romeo and Juliet, and get over myself. So in the light of this realisation, then No, I don’t find it strange that Rebecca is doing this. She’s decided to go over to the dark side, as I mentioned earlier, and act according to what her heart dictates the way popular culture and Disney cartoons encourage us to. Contrast that with the lesson learnt from roadkill in chp 11 on the consequences of ‘heart over head’, and... I don’t know what we get. Irony?
Your language is the usual delight: particularly loved the bit about people who don’t really know each other, the generic-ness of James, and that line: “That we want each other but can’t.”