Review of Becoming Clissine by Anastasia Vitsky

Becoming Clissine

Becoming Clissine is the story of a heterosexual girl in a society that believes same sex relationships are gods will. It is a strict doctrine and anyone who violates those laws is severely punished.

Rating 4 out of 5

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I bought this book, I’ve known  Anastasia for a little while now and during one of our conversations, the subject of the books I like to read came up.  Being a girly girl, my preference is for love and romance, but I mentioned that I was looking for a bit of a change that took me out of my comfort zone with a different style of character and plot line.

After asking what I felt about bdsm and specifically spanking, she recommended “Becoming Clissine (Bastia) and never one to turn down the chance to experience something new – I eagerly said “sure, why not ?”  I’m so pleased that I did, the book was challenging and jarring to my own world but greatly rewarding to sink into and explore something very, very different.

“Becoming Clissine” is set in a world very different to our own, where heterosexuality is against a religious doctrine known as “Bastia”.  From an early age, children are betrothed to future partners in accordance with the wishes of their parents known as their “Dis” and “Nur”.  These betrothals create alliances between houses, which preserve this balance in conjunction with a ruling council who interpret and enforce the religious doctrine.

The book opens with Clissa’s trial for disobeying the doctrine of Basti and being accused of a “Het” relationship, in contravention with her betrothal to Helaine and Basti Law.  Despite her pleading, she is found guilty and sentenced to a severe corporal punishment and a programme of further physical punishment at the hands of her “Dis” called “re-education”.  This is the “Dis’s” role as a parent, the family disciplinarian of Bastia law through often brutal correctional beatings, the severity of which is measured by the indiscretion.  The “Nur’s” role is more empathic and nurturing – counselling and guiding through touch and reason.
The purpose of the spanking is compliance with Bastia Law.  The stick to the carrot of the “Nur”.  Two complimentary approaches with a single goal, behavioural correction.    It’s easy to get drawn into the injustice of the philosophy and it’s treatment or conditioning.  Clissa herself, being a “het” rebels against both forms of treatment and joins an underground movement known as “Het pride” which stands up for the rights of the hetrosexual.

The way Anastasia develops the characters and tells their story engages you completely in the injustice of this treatment.  Spanking isn’t the simply the kinky “innocent” pleasure that some may enjoy occasionally, it’s a core for enforcing a behavioural modification.  There are also other facets of bdsm relationships and role play for the reader to explore as well here.  The book touches on “Age play” when Clissa is in hospital being treated as a young girl, rather than the teenager she is.  Then, when she is re-housed with a new “Dis” and “Nur”, Clissa attempts to change the dynamic of her relationship with her new parents, by positively reacting to the treatment of the “Nur” which leads the reader to ask “who is really in control of a bdsm relationship, the submissive or the dominant ?  Perhaps it is shared ?”   “How is a “Dis” or a “Nur” made, and who teaches them and moderates them ?” (As Clissa’s “Dis”
says herself later in the book “ you get punished because you have to learn between right and wrong. I get punished because I already know the difference, but still make mistakes“) The book also hints at answers to more obvious questions, like, for example “how are children born ?”  Some of the answers to these questions are unpleasant, even stomach turning, but the reality for many living under Bastia Law.

I won’t spoil the ending of the book by sharing how these intertwined plots end, but will say I found Clissa’ journey to “becoming Clissine” utterly compelling.  You don’t have to agree with bdsm or spanking in order to want to read it, or be a convert or ashamed after reading it.   Challenge yourself, engage with and explore the rights and wrongs of Bastia law and ask yourself if it was the same for LGBT people in times gone past in our own society.  I can only hope that Anastasia asks herself the same questions and builds on the society she has created to answer them. I certainly want to see how it develops !!!

Review of a taste of Vanilla by Leigh Ellwood

A taste of vanilla

A taste of vanilla is a revision of a story that first appeared  in  “Coming together” and tells the story of Hailies initial encounters of Lesbianism with Cecile, a woman she has met on the internet.

Rating 3 out of 5

Novella’s like a taste of vanilla can be a difficult undertaking for the author.   In a relatively short period of time, they need to create characters who are intriguing enough to draw you in to exploring their world, their feelings and emotions so that you can paint the picture they are sketching for you. Ultimately, your enjoyment of the book comes from how it makes you think about the characters and what they leave you with as their story unfolds.

The story outlines “Hailies” initial encounters and exploration of a same sex relationship with Cecile, a woman that she meets over the internet.  Their relationship matures through the exchange of emails and photos to the point where they agree to meet at a neutral coffee house.  In a sense, the way their relationship develops is a very modern one, flirting though emails and photos, anonymous and safe without the potential embarrassment of being stood up or friends judging you in the background.  Thea is one such friend.  The voice on Hailies shoulder as the story unfolds.  More than the obvious “you could be talking to an axe murderer” that many who use online dating will be familiar with, she also encourages Hailie to question her potential indulgence into her same sex fantasy.

Hailie eventually overcomes these doubts and over the course of the book, her first two encounters with Cecile are told.  Although the character development is scarce up until this point, each encounter is told with great detail and care.  The first explores Hailies emotions and feelings of intimacy and empowerment through sex which leaves her wanting more of Cecile.  Specifically, the Taste of Vanilla which the book is named after.  The second is a more complicated affair which hints at things to come, with Hailie and Cecile meeting at a friends party as a blind date setup for others. This last encounter is the scene the book is setup to leave the reader with – a lasting memory of Hailie and Cecile to ponder what happens next.

Whether you’re able to connect emotionally with either character, A taste of Vanilla is an enjoyable novella for those who are new to Lesbian fiction. Hailie’s experimentation and introduction to Cecile form a nice metaphor for what I hope will be your continued reading and enjoyment of the genre.

Review of Simple Gifts by Anastasia Vitsky

Simple Gifts
The story of a leading violinist’s rehabilitation at the hands of her childhood best friend.  Can a respected and beloved orchestra teacher from a small town tame this Diva struggling to adapt to a recovery without music and help her live again?

Rating 4 out of 5

Simple gifts is a really cleverly written story, telling the love story of Leila and Carene, two childhood friends whose lives are entwined through a mutual love of music.  What makes it such a clever story is that each of the chapter headings are named after prominent pieces of music that set the scene for following events.

Even if you aren’t aware of the interpretations of the music which introduces each chapter, there’s still a lot to enjoy in this book.  As well as being a beautiful piece of lesfic, with characters who you can believe in and connect with, the book has the strong undertone of delicious kink which Anastasia writes so well.  Kink and BDSM scenes are more than just a string of naughty words and punishment, they’re powerful, erotic and subtle on many levels.  There’s the complexity of the relationship between the top and the bottom, with each’s reasons for playing their role to be explored and told, as well as lived by the reader.  Set in a world a million miles away from the environment which Leila is used to, she seeds the control and mastery she is used to with her music and orchestra to Carene.  Initially for the sake of her recovery following an injury, as the story develops, her reasons for submitting to the discipline Carene administers
becomes more complex, turning into an expression of love for her friend.   But will Leila and Carene’s feelings for each other blossom, or will Leila lose not just her potential soul mate, but also her friend ?

Often, when you’re faced with looking for a book to read, it can be an easy choice to go with a genre that you’re comfortable with.  While there’s nothing wrong with that choice, this book is well worth considering as a choice.  Reading simple gifts and enjoying it doesn’t make you a pervert, nor will it convert you to a spanking or BDSM lifestyle.  Anastasias writing and passion for her subject is also worth more than calling it a simple guilty pleasure for when you’re feeling a bit “Kinky”. I really enjoyed this book, it appealed to me on many levels, both as a “girly girl” and as someone open to new things and would recommend without hesitation for your collection.

Review of Imperial Hotel by Diane Marina

Imperial hotel

Imperial hotel tells the love story of Joan and Lily, two society women of the late 1940s and how their lives develop together following a meeting at the hotel arranged by their mothers.

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Having read “Landslide” before, I expected to enjoy this book. Diane has a wonderful writing style which really shines in a “Novella” like this.  I particularly liked the way the book engages the reader, encouraging you to develop the plot yourself allowing you to explore the characters and their feelings long after you’ve put it down.  It isn’t just a nice story, but one that stays with you after you read it, giving you chance to reflect on how things have changed, not just for women, but for women in love.  Best of all you can also ponder what you would have done in the same situation…..

Imperial Hotel is a beautiful love story which tells of the relationship between Joan and Lily in a time when the social attitudes and expectations of women were very different.  The book divides neatly into three parts, their introduction, courtship and latter day reflection, with the story highlighting each woman’s thoughts about the relationship during each part.

Joan’s introduction to Lily at the hotel is typical of many around the world at a time of arranged marriages.  Her mother is introducing her to the socialite scene and looking for lily to “mentor” her in order to find an appropriate suitor.  From this introduction, Joan’s feelings for Lily develop as they spend more time together making arrangements for both Lilys wedding, Joan’s courtship and volunteer work at a nearby homeless shelter.

Joan and Lilys characters each have a different appeals and vulnerabilities which depending on your own perspective, you’ll find hard not to sympathise with at least one, or both off.  I personally aligned with Lily, not just because of her rebellious nature that is full of hope, but also what she stands to lose in terms of how her life develops.   For me, that made her the villain of the story, who also comes complete with her own “pretty woman” moment, which I would defy you not to smile at !  Joan’s character (for me the heroine) is more confident of her feelings after their initial introduction, but which aren’t enough for Lily to buck the social convention and path laid out for her.  Reeling from this rejection, Joan throws herself back at rebuilding her life and her university studies, with Lily seeking her out again, shortly after the birth of her child.

I really enjoyed this book, not just for the story and the characters, but for the style of writing.  For me, this is a “feel good” book, which was easy to read and impossible to put down !!  Why not give your kindle a treat and buy it for an ideal start to a perfect lazy Sunday?