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Maternal, sexy Catt and her beautiful, daring best friend Bree are hairdressers at an L.A. salon called Head Hunter, and work out at a gym called Body Farm. They have over a decade of sobriety behind them and are getting close to living the lives they've always wanted. But when Catt's husband, Dash, leaves her, and then her neighbor is brutally murdered, possibly by a man b Maternal, sexy Catt and her beautiful, daring best friend Bree are hairdressers at an L.A. salon called Head Hunter, and work out at a gym called Body Farm. They have over a decade of sobriety behind them and are getting close to living the lives they've always wanted. But when Catt's husband, Dash, leaves her, and then her neighbor is brutally murdered, possibly by a man being called the Hollywood Serial Killer, Catt's world begins to come crashing down. The murdered victims all seem to bear a chilling resemblance to Bree. Catt suspects that Bree is the next target of the Hollywood Serial Killer...is she losing touch with reality or simply coming to terms with the truth? In Beyond the Pale Motel, a terrifying and intensely erotic novel, Francesca Lia Block explores the dangers of modern living, loving and dying with lyrical edge and sensational attitude.


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Maternal, sexy Catt and her beautiful, daring best friend Bree are hairdressers at an L.A. salon called Head Hunter, and work out at a gym called Body Farm. They have over a decade of sobriety behind them and are getting close to living the lives they've always wanted. But when Catt's husband, Dash, leaves her, and then her neighbor is brutally murdered, possibly by a man b Maternal, sexy Catt and her beautiful, daring best friend Bree are hairdressers at an L.A. salon called Head Hunter, and work out at a gym called Body Farm. They have over a decade of sobriety behind them and are getting close to living the lives they've always wanted. But when Catt's husband, Dash, leaves her, and then her neighbor is brutally murdered, possibly by a man being called the Hollywood Serial Killer, Catt's world begins to come crashing down. The murdered victims all seem to bear a chilling resemblance to Bree. Catt suspects that Bree is the next target of the Hollywood Serial Killer...is she losing touch with reality or simply coming to terms with the truth? In Beyond the Pale Motel, a terrifying and intensely erotic novel, Francesca Lia Block explores the dangers of modern living, loving and dying with lyrical edge and sensational attitude.

30 review for Beyond the Pale Motel

  1. 4 out of 5

    mj

    I write this as a huge fan of Block. I've been reading her books since my early teen years, and they will never lose their tragic magic for me. However, this book was a HUGE disappointment, in many ways. **spoilers** First, who edited this? I would have been adding periods and fixing structural errors had the copy I been reading been mine; alas, it belonged to the library. The story itself was honestly too much. I felt like I was supposed to feel bad for every character, except I found it hard to I write this as a huge fan of Block. I've been reading her books since my early teen years, and they will never lose their tragic magic for me. However, this book was a HUGE disappointment, in many ways. **spoilers** First, who edited this? I would have been adding periods and fixing structural errors had the copy I been reading been mine; alas, it belonged to the library. The story itself was honestly too much. I felt like I was supposed to feel bad for every character, except I found it hard to feel much sympathy as few of them were likable. It might have been bearable but the actual writing itself lacked the magical quality Block usually brings to the table. It felt forced; especially the gratuitous sex scenes, of which there were many. Too many. Clues were dropped as to who the killer was, and they felt forced as well. My main problem with the book was the message. The book itself did not read as YA, but as Block has sort of fit herself into that genre, I know a lot of young girls are going to read this book. And the message portrayed was, "women need men. They need to have that 'masculine energy'. Too much 'estrogen' isn't good. Without a man, you will fall apart. You will break your 11 year sobriety, stalk your best friend and her child, and eventually be murdered by one of the men you had sex with because you felt the need to have a man figure in your life." Like honestly, I've been there, in a sense. There was a period of time in my life where I was dating constantly, felt that without someone else in my life, romantically, I wasn't complete, everything was wrong; I was incredibly co-dependent. But I grew, I changed, I realized that isn't the case. My friends are so incredibly important. This book had NO moral conclusion, except maybe don't trust your exhusband's brother. I would NEVER suggest this book to a young girl, and I know so many are going to be reading it and getting this message that drinking a bottle of jack in the bathtub as a formerly sober alcoholic is some sort of romantic image, or that girls need men in their lives. They really don't. Not in that way, anyway. Incredible disappointment from someone I loved to read; will be cautious with her new books in the future.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Aurora Gray

    Received as an ARC. Intended to just read the first few pages before making dinner and ended up reading the entire book in one sitting, growing more uncomfortable with each page yet unable to put it down. It was visually searing and haunting, a horror in a way that I'd never read before. I woke up in the middle of the night with images from the book running through my head like a nightmare. This book is darker than anything I've read before by Block. Usually her books touch me with sadness and l Received as an ARC. Intended to just read the first few pages before making dinner and ended up reading the entire book in one sitting, growing more uncomfortable with each page yet unable to put it down. It was visually searing and haunting, a horror in a way that I'd never read before. I woke up in the middle of the night with images from the book running through my head like a nightmare. This book is darker than anything I've read before by Block. Usually her books touch me with sadness and leave me with a message of hope. This is a bleak, brutal version of love and Los Angeles and it is mesmerizing and terrifying.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    I received an ARC copy from Ms. Block and couldn't wait to delve in. I tried to savor the words but I found myself reading until I couldn't. I finished it in twenty-four hours and want to go back to reread. If you're looking for a haunting, erotic adult novel thats both horror and psychological, this is the novel to read. Beyond The Pale Motel is reminiscent of Muhollond Drive. It's has addiction, a serial killer and broken love. It has hair stylists, best friends and baseball. It's a must read I received an ARC copy from Ms. Block and couldn't wait to delve in. I tried to savor the words but I found myself reading until I couldn't. I finished it in twenty-four hours and want to go back to reread. If you're looking for a haunting, erotic adult novel thats both horror and psychological, this is the novel to read. Beyond The Pale Motel is reminiscent of Muhollond Drive. It's has addiction, a serial killer and broken love. It has hair stylists, best friends and baseball. It's a must read for any fan of FLB and a good introduction for someone who isn't familiar with her work.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liem Duong

    "Beyond the Pale Motel" feels like reading a 216 page cosmopolitan magazine with no pictures. Sometimes I felt like I was a peeping tom inside the author's wet dream. And no, that's not a good thing. However, I did enjoy the fact that the font was oversized which made the reading go by alot faster. "Beyond the Pale Motel" feels like reading a 216 page cosmopolitan magazine with no pictures. Sometimes I felt like I was a peeping tom inside the author's wet dream. And no, that's not a good thing. However, I did enjoy the fact that the font was oversized which made the reading go by alot faster.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cecilia Tan

    I just sent the following email to Francesca Lia Block: "Finished the book. I'm shattered. It's brilliant. More coherent thoughts after I recover. I hope. <3" (I didn't intend to finish the entire book in under 12 hours, but I did.) EDIT: Okay, here is the full review. This ended up being less of a review and more of an essay on why I feel this book is a brilliant piece of modern literature that may go under-appreciated by critics. I was lucky enough to get an advance reading copy of Francesca Lia I just sent the following email to Francesca Lia Block: "Finished the book. I'm shattered. It's brilliant. More coherent thoughts after I recover. I hope. <3" (I didn't intend to finish the entire book in under 12 hours, but I did.) EDIT: Okay, here is the full review. This ended up being less of a review and more of an essay on why I feel this book is a brilliant piece of modern literature that may go under-appreciated by critics. I was lucky enough to get an advance reading copy of Francesca Lia Block's new book Beyond the Pale Motel. Reading it turned me inside out. If you don't want spoilers, the one thing I'll tell you is that it's by far the darkest of her books. It's also heartrendingly, undeniably, a terrific work of fiction and one that lands smack in the middle of a moment in our culture when a lot of us find ourselves suddenly questioning the casual misogyny inbred in literature. This book stabs right at that Gordian knot with a bloody switchblade. All the hallmarks and landmarks of a Francesca Lia Block book are here: the heat-shimmer of Los Angeles, the tapestry of pop music and fashion and Cali-spirituality, the female-centric narrative of chosen family. The book has a surety about it that defies (or perhaps defines new...) genre, something I love about all Francesca's work. Weetzie Bat--Block's first smash hit novel--was a book that twenty-something goths could read with our little sisters (and later daughters) in the nineties, embodying all our young hopes and dreams, telling us that our inner magic would heal us and make it so our broken hearts didn't end us but only made us tragically beautiful. Beyond the Pale Motel is at the opposite end of the spectrum, but it's the same spectrum. Where Weetzie Bat is a gorgeous sunset while you're putting on your make-up and party clothes heading out for a magical night, Beyond the Pale Motel is the dark hours of the morning when you shouldn't get caught alone on the streets. Heartbreak and ruin lurk in the corners. The predators are out and it's not safe. This book is not safe. And it's not meant to be. This book is the opposite of escapism. I confess I've been reading (and writing) so much romance lately that I've almost forgotten the true anxiety of reading a book where characters I've come to love are in jeopardy, where there's no guarantee of love or a happy-ever-after. I grew up fully indoctrinated with the standard US literary canon and the prejudices (esp. sexism) that comes bundled in that package. It was only fairly recently--say within the last 4-5 years--that I finally took a hard look at how female characters are represented in literature (both the canon and current popular fiction). In book after book one finds all too often that the female character is there to function in the plot as an object for a man to either desire or protect. Whether presented as a girlfriend, sister, or other close relative, she's so often raped or killed as a way to spur the male protagonist that it amazes me that lit-crit circles don't flat out decry it as an untouchable cliche. But that's how deeply ingrained this misogyny is: even the critics don't see it. It was only after realizing this that I began to think that the existence of the romance genre might be specifically because it's the one place female readers can retreat to where they know the one character they identify with won't be raped or killed as a lazy plot device. To me the idea of literary "safe space" is a very legitimizing one and one that makes me feel good about writing romance as a refuge, as an escape. But not all art is an escape. And one concept the male-dominated canon certainly carries is that the more challenging the art is, the "higher" the art is. Make no mistake, Beyond the Pale Motel will challenge readers. It challenges them with the brutal way it attacks and deconstructs these misogynist tropes and cliches--serial killers who target pretty women, the perceived flakiness of single mothers and drug addicts--and yet still encompasses and includes them. Francesca Lia Block's books often have a thread of Raymond-Chandler-esque noir woven through them. In Beyond the Pale Motel, that thread of noir is stripped of its romanticism, exposed as sexist, and trampled into the gutter with the rest of the detritus of shattered illusions. HERE BE SPOILERS: Our main character Catt is a hair stylist, many years sober, in her late thirties now with her biological clock "ticking so loudly it would keep me awake all night." Her life revolves around her best friend Bree and Bree's son, Catt's godson, Skylar. Catt's past has various heartbreaks in it, and so do the pasts of most of the people she knows. When her own boyfriend Dash's issues drive him to leave her at the start of the book, it begins a downward spiral Catt didn't anticipate. At the same time, there's a serial killer on the loose. At first I wasn't sure if the serial killer was going to enter the actual plot or merely be a motif that paralleled all the casual misogyny and helplessness Catt experiences in life, from her intense need for men as lovers and protectors, to their utter failure to live up to either expectation when they turn out to be self-centered, shallow jerks--or when, like Dash, he turns out to be "like all of the other men I’d slept with, really, a man in pain." The serial killer does enter the story, though. This is a murder mystery in the Chandler vein and yet, as I said, it's the 21st Century rendition; the vaseline soft-focus lens is gone and now the murders are rendered in High Def digital TV. And here's the last bit about misogyny: I feel strongly that if Block were a male writer, this book would certainly be trumpeted as a modern-noir masterpiece. If this were written by Brett Easton Ellis, I think the literary establishment would be all over it as a brilliant exploration of the inner psyche of a woman in pain and the way she navigates the dangerous maze of modern life where every man she meets--the trainer at the gym, the baseball coach, an ex--could be a potential rapist or killer. But when a woman writes such a book, will the New York Times recognize that brilliance? Or will they merely squirm uncomfortably about a woman writer pointing out that, actually, every woman in modern life has to look at every man we meet as a potential rapist or killer? The newsmedia is rife not only with real life serial rapists but also misogynistic victim-blaming coverage: the television lamenting the ruin of the Steubenville rapists "bright futures" as athletes instead of the ruin of a young woman, period, full stop? This is why this book is brilliant. Beyond the Pale Motel DARES you to blame the victim. If you do, you will hate yourself. As you should. To pull off this anti-escapist trick, the book leaves behind genre: it abandons the optimism of romance and rejects the storybook justice of mystery. Instead it demands you surrender to a harrowing ride as seductive and frightening as the guy who gives you too much to drink. Thankfully, it's a book, it's fiction, and you can close the covers any time Catt's reality seems too close to your own. That makes its lessons no less important; it makes them moreso.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mary Lowry

    I met with Francesca Lia Block at Sage, a vegan restaurant in Culver City, to discuss her new novel Beyond the Pale Motel (St. Martin's). Sitting in the lovely patio eating a vegan falafel bowl with Block across from me wearing a black tank top, black skinny jeans, and shiny pink Nike high-tops, I couldn't help feeling like I'd fallen into a Block novel. Many of Block's 25 books are set in a gauzy, fairy tale Los Angeles, and her ability to write a love song for the City of Angels has become lege I met with Francesca Lia Block at Sage, a vegan restaurant in Culver City, to discuss her new novel Beyond the Pale Motel (St. Martin's). Sitting in the lovely patio eating a vegan falafel bowl with Block across from me wearing a black tank top, black skinny jeans, and shiny pink Nike high-tops, I couldn't help feeling like I'd fallen into a Block novel. Many of Block's 25 books are set in a gauzy, fairy tale Los Angeles, and her ability to write a love song for the City of Angels has become legendary. From the first paragraph of her 1989 debut novel Weetzie Bat in which the eponymous character hates high school because none of her fellow students understand the marvels of an L.A. where Marilyn's prints could be seen at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and a person could find plastic palm tree wallets at the Farmer's Market, Block began to weave a dreamy Shangri-L.A. where the terrible smog only serves to make the sunsets that much pinker. In Beyond the Pale Hotel, Block's signature lush language, devotion to style and aesthetic, and love for L.A. permeate the novel. But the book is also full of page-turning suspense and a dark sexuality, making it much closer to a thriller than anything Block has written before. And in Beyond the Pale Hotel, Los Angeles becomes the noir setting for a woman struggling with both internal pain, and the pain of living in a savage and dangerous world. Catt, a 36-year old Angeleno who works as a hair stylist with her best friend Bree, narrates Beyond the Pale Hotel. The two have been friends for half their lives, share a devotion to fashion, and a path of recovery from alcoholism. When Catt's husband leaves her at the same time that a Hollywood Serial Killer begins a spree of murdering and dismembering women who look like Bree, Catt's suffering overwhelms her and she starts to unravel. With alcohol off-limits as a form of solace, Catt seeks comfort in a series of men -- some of whom she meets online at a site she and Bree call "FU Cupid." The novel explores the inner life of a woman in distress whose forms of self-soothing are sharp-edged and combine the stereotypically "male" behavior of seeking comforts of the flesh, as well as the more "feminine" striving for an unattainable beauty ideal that is literally hurtful to pursue. In a Hollywood where a serial killer roams the streets, Catt seeks protection in the form of a parade of men who pass through her life -- and her bed -- in the wake of her husband's abandonment. This manner of seeking comfort and safety from men has its origins in a conversation Catt had as a teenager with her father when they were watching a news report about Jeffrey Dahmer. Catt told her father she was scared someone would break in when she wasn't home and her father replied, "That's why boyfriends are a good idea." Ironically, it's intimacy with strange men that puts Catt at added risk of being a victim of crime. And it's part of what makes the novel a brilliant modern femme noir that could hold its own against the work of Bret Easton Ellis or even Raymond Chandler. But Catt participates in an even deeper and more insidious form of self-destructive behavior. Catt's sexuality is intricately intertwined with her self-consciousness, with her longing to be both attractive to men, and to find herself beautiful. And so Catt's pursuit of beauty becomes a clear form of self-abuse. A Brazilian bikini wax must be followed by a regimen of antibiotic and aloe vera creams to soothe the pain. Botox injections to fill fine lines leave her face ugly with bruises she covers with pancake makeup. And Bree wears high heels that make her feel sexy even as they hurt her feet. This theme of a woman's misguided drive to be beautiful, stylish, and flawless in the hope it will allow her to love and accept herself remains one of the most haunting and important themes of the novel, and certainly one that resonates in a country where the number of cosmetic procedures and surgeries are rising steadily and up to 75 percent of women have "some unhealthy thoughts, feelings or behaviors related to food or their bodies." When I asked Block about these two themes in the novel -- that of Catt turning to men for protection in a world where men are often dangerous, and the way that Catt's efforts to be beautiful become a form of self-abuse, Block said, "In my life it's been more about turning to a man for protection from the internal abuse rather than being afraid of the external man." She said that the fantasy is that if a woman finds a man who accepts her, she can let the internal abuse go. "I think that is what I was playing out [in the novel], but actually the reality is that until you find it in yourself it's never going to go away. It's never going to feel better. You have to feel it in yourself." Self-love and acceptance is indeed a difficult inside job, and one that throughout the novel Catt seems unlikely to achieve. Block says she keeps a close connection with her devoted fan base, primarily through social media. And she's found that that Beyond the Pale Hotel has a larger male readership than many of her previous novels. She attributes this to both the rich sexuality of the novel, and the plot-driven suspense that's new to her work. Block also mentioned that reading the book Wired for Story by Lisa Cron helped her to make a shift to more tension in her plotting. Block said, "Primitive man needed stories as a template for how to survive in a dangerous world. And that is what we are doing when we are writing: we are creating our own template for ourselves as a writer and then as a reader. Because we can imagine vicariously what it would be like to be attacked by a wild animal, and what would you do. There's an endorphin, a rush that comes from just the reading of it, as well as the writing of it." Beyond the Pale Hotel provides both a ferocious rush and unprecedented insights into the sexuality and suffering of a woman dealing with the brutality inflicted on women by men, as well as the brutality she inflicts on herself in her pursuit of a physical loveliness that will (she believes) allow her to love herself. The novel will grab readers by the throat, even as it seduces them with the swirl of drugs, illicit sex, silk dresses blooming with roses, and a desert city populated with palm trees, hot night breezes, and a serial killer. Beyond the Pale Hotel is brilliant, merciless, gorgeous, and a stunning departure from a writer whose oeuvre has already left a lasting and important impact.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy Daly

    Long time fan of Ms. Block, but sadly this book disappointed me. I was excited to hear of the darkness in the plot, but very let down by the character portrayal. When the main character unknowingly breaks her decade of sobriety, all her support system crumbles. He best friend takes away everything she loves out of... Uh anger? Her sponsor drops her, leaving her alone to start on a downward spiral when they should have been helping. From what I know about AA, they are a team and will help anyone Long time fan of Ms. Block, but sadly this book disappointed me. I was excited to hear of the darkness in the plot, but very let down by the character portrayal. When the main character unknowingly breaks her decade of sobriety, all her support system crumbles. He best friend takes away everything she loves out of... Uh anger? Her sponsor drops her, leaving her alone to start on a downward spiral when they should have been helping. From what I know about AA, they are a team and will help anyone who is struggling with their sobriety, and she wasn't struggling, someone drugged her for fucks sake! Once she was abandoned and betrayed she stills tries to help the people that hurt her and ends up dead. Boom the end. The fuck?! The whole plot felt rushed and unrealistic with the intend of being "real" dark. The main character is a doormat and a shining example of a weak female dependent. Unlike other characters from her other books, there was no personality in these characters. Mean, selfish, insecure addicts all while a serial killer lurks in the shadows.... Oh taking the best parts of girls to make one perfect one? Sound firmilar? Well that's because it has been done. See the movie "May" where a lonely, depressed girl takes all the best parts of people and sews them together. This book will not swear me off her books by any means, but hey they can't all be winners.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Steve Lafortune

    The only good thing about this book is that it's a fast read. The only good thing about this book is that it's a fast read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    There are no fairies here. There's no sweet love affair between quirky outsiders. This is a grim and relentless examination of a life spun out of control: love lost and never redeemed; pain and despair and death - lots of death. And at the story's center, a gaping hole where love should be. Block stares down some personal demons here, and if you've got the spine for it, this book's a harrowing read. But not for the beach... There are no fairies here. There's no sweet love affair between quirky outsiders. This is a grim and relentless examination of a life spun out of control: love lost and never redeemed; pain and despair and death - lots of death. And at the story's center, a gaping hole where love should be. Block stares down some personal demons here, and if you've got the spine for it, this book's a harrowing read. But not for the beach...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Justina N.

    Review: Beyond The Pale Motel By Francesca Lia Block Beyond The Pale Motel is Francesca Block’s newest adult novel. Grittier, sexier, darker than her young adult work or her other writing to date this prose is incredibly candid. While reminiscent in tone to her erotic short story collection, Lay Me Out Softly, this book takes that darkness and frank sexuality much further. As narrator Catt draws the reader into her tale, one is struck by a compelling sense of impending doom mingled with a desperat Review: Beyond The Pale Motel By Francesca Lia Block Beyond The Pale Motel is Francesca Block’s newest adult novel. Grittier, sexier, darker than her young adult work or her other writing to date this prose is incredibly candid. While reminiscent in tone to her erotic short story collection, Lay Me Out Softly, this book takes that darkness and frank sexuality much further. As narrator Catt draws the reader into her tale, one is struck by a compelling sense of impending doom mingled with a desperate hopefulness. She is a brutally honest, often funny, yet deeply vulnerable heroine. I was hooked from first sentence to heart wrenching conclusion. Catt is a recovering addict. She and her model pretty best friend, Bree, are hair stylists at trendy salon Head Hunter. Although beautiful in her own way, the voluptuous maternal Catt strives to look like the stereotypical LA ideal – spending hours working out at her gym Body Farm. Her life centers around Bree, Bree’s son Skylar, her few close companions, and her rock musician husband Dash. Caregiver for her circle of friends-turned-family, Catt channels her desire to be a mother into her love for them. This need for closeness also shows itself in her hyper-sexuality; she is always aroused and hungry for even platonic physical affection. When Dash leaves her, Catt’s carefully cultivated happy life falls quickly to pieces. She becomes obsessed with the brutal Hollywood Killer who is murdering beautiful women then butchering select body parts from his victims. Her pain at losing Dash is exorcised in a series of graphically detailed, intensely hot flings with a series of different men. These lead to new dangerous fixations. Relationships with everyone she holds dear are quickly jeopardized as Catt spirals out of control. Most affected is her friendship with Bree. This painful rift is too much for our protagonist to bear leading her back to the temptations which nearly destroyed her twelve years previously. Only Cyan, Dash’s mysterious brother, seems to be there for Catt as she flounders. Yet with a brutal killer still haunting the streets of Shangri-LA and a disturbing clue found in her home, soon every man Catt knows will come under suspicion. Is this merely the paranoia of a lonely, heartbroken woman? Or is the killer closer than even Catt thinks? Beyond The Pale Motel is a chilling horror story with the intense heart that only Block is capable of imparting. Her addictively readable prose walks the line between magical realism and intense honesty in its stylistic voice. I tend to shy away from horror. The eldritch has a way of staying with me, lingering in my subconscious and causing nightmares. However, Catt’s story and Block’s writing drew me into this novel utterly. Its protagonist is truly lovable, instantly relatable. Her trials are reminiscent of your best girlfriend’s tinged with the terror of a living Dating Don’ts style article. Reading, I constantly felt the dread of that classic “Don’t Go In There!” Moment long before the novel’s more sinister nature revealed itself. I ached with Catt. Her caring, lost, motherly character resonated deeply for me. On one level Catt’s Love Monster blog is a commentary on the types of men she and Bree find in Los Angeles. However, it is also a metaphor for how Catt thinks of herself: an ugly misunderstood creature hunting for connection and her own emotional salvation. A novel by Francesca Lia Block is always deeply satisfying. She has a distinct talent for creating characters you love despite their flaws; perhaps because of them. Her plots are original and surprising. Even when dark, each tale shines a light into that strange twilight place where fear resides. Tears streamed down my face as I read the last pages. It was riveting and some of Block’s best writing. I felt so close to Catt that her sacrifices for those she loves left me feeling physically wounded. A master storyteller, Block created a heroine to whom I couldn’t say goodbye. - Justina N.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Writer's Relief

    Surreal, erotic, and completely engrossing, BEYOND THE PALE MOTEL is a sexy psychological thriller set in seamy, steamy Los Angeles. Catt, a voluptuous beauty, is obsessively in love with her punk-rock husband, Dash, and works as a hairdresser at a hip salon alongside her best friend, Bree. She also has over ten years of sobriety under her studded, black leather belt. But when Dash announces he is leaving her for another woman, Catt is shaken to the core. Catt’s neighbor is viciously killed, the Surreal, erotic, and completely engrossing, BEYOND THE PALE MOTEL is a sexy psychological thriller set in seamy, steamy Los Angeles. Catt, a voluptuous beauty, is obsessively in love with her punk-rock husband, Dash, and works as a hairdresser at a hip salon alongside her best friend, Bree. She also has over ten years of sobriety under her studded, black leather belt. But when Dash announces he is leaving her for another woman, Catt is shaken to the core. Catt’s neighbor is viciously killed, the first victim to fall prey to a murderer, dubbed the “Hollywood Serial Killer” by the media. After each grisly discovery of another slain woman, Catt increasingly fears for Bree’s life, since all of the victims bear some likeness to Bree. In a misguided attempt to cope with her fear, anger, and sorrow, Catt falls into a sordid pattern of random sexual encounters and unstable behavior, leaving Bree to question Catt’s commitment to being sober. Catt cannot convince Bree of the potential danger in her life, and begins to doubt her own thoughts. Haunted, reckless, and out of touch with reality, Catt becomes suspicious of everyone she encounters. BEYOND THE PALE MOTEL is a dark gem of a novel that culminates into an unnerving, unexpected ending.

  12. 4 out of 5

    ace

    the redeeming quality of this book was that it was short. the fatphobia - fat main character hates herself and can’t find love. the weird awkward sex scenes. the mediocre mystery. the shoehorned relationships - we hear nothing about one “best friend” character until they kick it. just, what?

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tara Dawn (Colourful WordWench)

    OMG....What the fuck did I just read? I just can't wrap my head around it at the moment. I started this book based off of a review I read on a friend's blog. It called to me. I didn't even read the synopsis, just went straight to her review and thought damn I need to read this. My friend decided to gift me a copy which I am eternally grateful for. I sat down, loaded it up on my kindle and didn't put it down. NOT ONCE! I was ensnared and there was no escaping it. I knew as soon as I started this OMG....What the fuck did I just read? I just can't wrap my head around it at the moment. I started this book based off of a review I read on a friend's blog. It called to me. I didn't even read the synopsis, just went straight to her review and thought damn I need to read this. My friend decided to gift me a copy which I am eternally grateful for. I sat down, loaded it up on my kindle and didn't put it down. NOT ONCE! I was ensnared and there was no escaping it. I knew as soon as I started this book that was going to happen with this small introduction to the story: "You can talk about all aspects of sex and death in this world, but love still remains a monster that scares people away. I don't know why. Maybe because we all secretly want it so much. Or, at least I do. For me, it's worth the devastation. It's the thing I most desire and I'll continue to seek it out no matter what, no matter how far gone I am. No matter that I am way, way beyond the pale." I shivered when I read that. I love poetry. I write poetry. And when I find an author who can express emotion in such a beautiful, emotional, poetic way, I latch onto it and don't let go. I felt like I had put on my favorite Tori Amos album and she was singing directly to me. Then to see later on in the book that she is a muse, I almost did a dance I tell ya! This entire book is written in beautiful way. The description was just mesmerizing. The way she puts this story together and tells it makes you feel like you are there experiencing this journey with Catt. I've read a ton of books where I empathize or even have sympathy for the lead charater(s), but with this one I felt like Catt held my hand and was directing me through her fucked up roller coaster of a life while it was happening. I felt her pain, shock, addiction, relapse, and so much more along with her. The poor girl's life is like a twister, never knowing what is gonna be flung at her at any given point in time. Catt is a recovering alcoholic. Her and her best friend Bree both got sober together and they've been going strong for 11 years. They've been through everything together, and when I say everything I mean everything. Both coming from screwed up backgrounds, like calls to like and they became best friends instantly. They bonded more during sobriety over Bree becoming a mother. Catt is the godmother to Skylar and they do just as much together as he does with Bree. And Bree has no problem shoving him off on Catt either when she wants to get her groove on. Bree is a Barbie type girl and thrives on attention of any kind, but mostly sexual. She knows that she's hot and uses that to every advantage. It doesn't bother Catt because she's married to the love of her life, Dash. But when he comes home from a music tour and admits that there is another woman and has been for a long time, Catt loses everything she has used to keep her sane in a sober world. All of her hopes and dreams were shattered with one comment before he walked out the door. ""It's not about you and me," he said and his voice was cold again. "It's about me. And her."" Holy Shit...I felt like I died with her. I know that feeling. I instantly connected with Catt. She sucked me in and from here she begins to spiral into an abyss that I feel like wasn't of her own making. She begins to withdraw, but reaches out silently for help. Some see this and attempt to help her and she is able to stay a float for awhile using random men and sexual trysts as a life boat to keep from sinking into despair. All the girl wants is to be loved and needed. Which is probably what fuels her obsession with becoming a mother. Unfortunately she is going about treating her depression all wrong. Since she can't drink she replaces it with men and sex, thinking one of them would save her from her nightmare of an existence. Which is something she has done all along, "I think we finally got married because he needed someone to care for him and I needed someone to feed, which was its own kind of hunger." All the while she's terrified because a serial killer is on the loose and targeting women that resemble Bree. But as her depression worsens,those closest to her stop reaching out and even push her away causing her to hit her breaking point. She finds a clue at her house that she knows the person who is the Hollywood serial killer. It's one of her recent lovers. She takes it upon herself to try to piece things together and protect Bree without her knowing it. What happens next will blow your fucking mind! The ending....ya. Try to wrap your mind around that shit I dare ya. I read...I stopped breathing, I swear my heart stopped beating for a minute...I read it again to make sure I read it right the first time. It was right alright....I died a little inside. I called my friend and said what I started my review with....WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST READ??? I was and am still at a loss for words and will be for days. I was piecing it together as I went and saw the clues, but I didn't want to believe them. I shoved them off as nothing details because I didn't want to admit it to myself. Some people have pure hearts and intentions, others do not. But all of us have our demons we are fighting and not all of them are as horrible as some believe. Other people's demons are enough for them to kill in order to escape them. Nobody in this world is perfect.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ronan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Oh boy, where do I even start? Well, I was a big fan of FLB when I was in High School but I guess I grew out of her, as I hadn't picked anything of hers up in a long while and struggled to re-read any of her earlier work. I decided to give it another go. After all, FLB used to bring me such joy! Unfortunately, Beyond the Pale Motel did not make me want to read anything more of hers. In fact, it made me want to never, ever read FLB again. FLB's writing is the same as it's ever been (that is to say: Oh boy, where do I even start? Well, I was a big fan of FLB when I was in High School but I guess I grew out of her, as I hadn't picked anything of hers up in a long while and struggled to re-read any of her earlier work. I decided to give it another go. After all, FLB used to bring me such joy! Unfortunately, Beyond the Pale Motel did not make me want to read anything more of hers. In fact, it made me want to never, ever read FLB again. FLB's writing is the same as it's ever been (that is to say: she hasn't grown as a writer at all). It's lavish and stylish and full of glitter. We get a lot of info on what everyone's wearing, what their house looks like, how beautifully themed this party is. A lovely little shell over the dysfunction within. Actually, I think FLB would make a better stylist than a writer, tbh. Main character Catt is set up to be an unhappy woman trying to stay positive. At least for the first chapter. After that, the narration quickly spirals into self-hatred, toxic personality traits, and an obsession with men and sex. In fact, despite the semi-interesting plot FLB hinted at, it remains just that throughout most of the story: a hint. What really bothers me about the plot is the poor way in which it is handled. If well cared for, it could have been intriguing. Instead, FLB doesn't seem to understand how to properly convey foreshadowing, or how to talk about anything besides how horny and miserable the main character is. Miserable main characters aren't even that big of a deal if they're handled correctly and if they actually GO somewhere. Catt does not. She spends most of the book mourning being left by her husband and trying to appease her grief using sex with random, toxic strangers. This narrative would've made a lot more sense if Catt had actually learned anything in the end and had changed her behavior. OR if all of this toxic self destruction had lead to some culmination of some sort, something interesting. It didn't. Bree is set up as Catt's super close friend, yet we scarcely ever see her. When we do see Bree, she leaves a sour taste in your mouth for all her vanity and selfishness. The way FLB writes Catt/Bree's friendship comes across as if they aren't close at all (despite the author insisting the opposite) or that they're in love and are ultimately going to end up together, raising Bree's pre-teen son Skylar. This doesn't happen, and because FLB is so terrible at portraying honest emotion, I'm still not sure if Bree/Catt are meant to appear as if they have feelings for one another or if I'm totally off base here. Nonetheless, the fact that they don't ever discuss their relationship or really support one another at all makes Catt's obsession with Skylar more creepy/strange than sweet. Getting back to the "plot" of the book - FLB does very little to interest the reader and absolutely nothing to give us any conclusions to draw from. My suspicions were all over the place, bouncing from Scott (who came across as creepy in one scene, not sweet and dependable as FLB intended him to be), to Big Bob, to Catt herself! One main plot point of the story (the victims resemblance to Bree) is not touched on until the very, very end of the story. Once again, FLB's inability to write believable emotions and relationships rears it's ugly head! Catt and Bree have a falling out, yet the details are so brushed over and ignored that once again I'm left to wonder about the intention behind FLB's portrayal of their relationship vs what we, as readers, are meant to infer. They're SO close, yet Bree won't even hear Catt out and just cuts her out of her life like it's nothing? Then she proceeds to flirt with not one but TWO of Catt's ex-interests? Truly???? When we finally get to the end and find out the big plot twist, it, like everything else about this novel, falls flat. It truly comes across as something done for pure shock value as opposed to something thought out and constructive to the plot. On a side note, the sex in the story came off as cheap to me. While it was decently written, it felt as if FLB really just wanted an excuse to write sex scenes, and even that desire falls off into the void after about half the book. From beginning to end, my overall suspicion is that FLB once again self-inserted herself into a novel. Authors dealing with their grief / anger through their work is not uncommon, but when it's as transparent as Beyond the Pale Motel, well, let's just say it makes a dull and frustrating read. Catt does not come across as an original character, but as a version of FLB and her own darkness. This may be less irritating if the story, it's characters, and the relationships were better fleshed out and given more care and attention. Instead, Catt learns absolutely nothing until she dies, and even then the overall "message/moral" of the story is blurry, simple, and overly cheesy at best, and downright boring and stupid at worst. I guess FLB finally got to write the erotica novel she's clearly always wanted to write. It belongs on the shelf alongside the ten cent erotica of the same caliber.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Catt and Bree are hairdressers in LA. They've been friends for a long time and been through alcoholism, recovery, and over a decade of sobriety together. Catt's husband Dash suddenly leaves her for a rich, young starlet. This along with the Hollywood Serial Killer murders that seem to be closer and closer to her are shattering her world. She seeks comfort in many men, but all of them turn out to be using her. She sees a pattern to the murders and thinks Bree might be next, but is she right or is Catt and Bree are hairdressers in LA. They've been friends for a long time and been through alcoholism, recovery, and over a decade of sobriety together. Catt's husband Dash suddenly leaves her for a rich, young starlet. This along with the Hollywood Serial Killer murders that seem to be closer and closer to her are shattering her world. She seeks comfort in many men, but all of them turn out to be using her. She sees a pattern to the murders and thinks Bree might be next, but is she right or is she becoming unhinged from reality? Beyond the Pale Motel is Francesca Lia Block's newest adult novel. It's a bit more sexy and dark than her teen work, but just as lyrically written. I loved how the horror theme extended to unexpected areas of the story. Catt's salon is called Head Hunter and her gym is called Body Farm. Her blog is called Love Monsters and she has monster labels (vampire, manticore, zombie, or goblin) for the types of men there are. The story centers around Catt who has it together. She's been going to AA for years and her relationship with her husband is solid as can be. Her family consists of those she has chosen: Dash, Bree, and her son Skyler. Everything is idyllic and happy right up until it all falls apart. It was hard to read Catt's life just disintegrate. She is a sensitive person who needs people desperately and wants to be a mother above all else. Her need for people translates into hypersexuality after her husband leaves her and she invites man after man into her bed to fill the emotional void. This doesn't work out since they turn out to be scumbags. These encounters don't help her initial pain from her breakup, create more pain, and send her spiraling out of control, ending her sobriety. She also consistently had a horrible view of herself, thinking she was unworthy, ugly, fat, etc. This is unfortunately confirmed in one way or another by virtually all those around her. Her journey from solid to shattered was well written, but heartbreaking and hypnotic to read. I have a lot of problems with the book that infuriated me. First, the way Catt's "friends" treated her when she was down. She made one mistake and her best friend just completely cuts off all contact and removes her from her life after over a decade of friendship. One mistake. Really? That is a sucky and unsupportive friend. I also couldn't believe how she was treated by her AA sponsors. They either weren't available for her to talk to during a crisis or wouldn't even "waste time on her" if she didn't redo some of the steps of the program. They along with the entire book were super judgmental about her sexual activity. There's nothing wrong with finding solace in sex as long as it's consensual. It didn't turn out to be good for her at all, but it's a better way to cope than turning to drinking or drug use. There was no understanding from anyone really. The horror element didn't figure as largely as I would have liked. It was really an afterthought to all the stuff that was going on in Catt's life. That element came into play during the last few pages and ended very abruptly. It just wasn't satisfying and just rubbed salt in the wounds. Beyond the Pale Motel is well written and evocative, but the horror element isn't major enough and the people populating Catt's life are awful, selfish, judgy people. The writing kept me interested, but my grievances outweighed the good things about the novel.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    Expect the Unexpected.... Beyond the Pale Motel is unlike any FLB novel that you've read before. While novels like The Elementals hinted...vaguely...at exploring the darker, sinister side of human nature, Pale Motel attacks it full force. It is an in-your-face, brutally honest portrayal of broken people in a desperate (and perverse) search for love. For FLB fan's, the exquisite pacing, endearing/simultaneously heartbreaking characters, and lyrical prose will feel like old familiar friends. The de Expect the Unexpected.... Beyond the Pale Motel is unlike any FLB novel that you've read before. While novels like The Elementals hinted...vaguely...at exploring the darker, sinister side of human nature, Pale Motel attacks it full force. It is an in-your-face, brutally honest portrayal of broken people in a desperate (and perverse) search for love. For FLB fan's, the exquisite pacing, endearing/simultaneously heartbreaking characters, and lyrical prose will feel like old familiar friends. The dense subject matter and bleak tone which follows the story throughout, yet compels you through an almost supernatural force to keep turning to that next page no matter how unsettling the previous pages have been,take this novel in a completely new direction. This makes it a difficult novel to read; however, like that episode of Criminal Minds or CSI that you just can't turn away from, it's next to impossible not to devour this novel. On a side note,I feel that the reader may be somewhat unprepared or taken aback by the content of this novel, due to its promotion as an "intensely erotic" tale. This is through no fault of the author of course. However, I found myself angered and questioning the publisher concerning the novel's blurb. In what universe are the self-destructive, addictive, sadly masochistic acts of the tormented protagonist (or the villain of this story for that matter) construed as erotic? There is nothing titillating in the least in witnessing Bree's downward spiral, the way she uses men and allows them to use her, or the acts and horrific history of the serial killer. It becomes obvious to the reader that these actions are both portrayed and intended to be interpreted as ugly, humiliating, regretful acts, ones that only a sick pleasure could ever be derived from by the voyeuristic reader. Instead, one small glimmer of light that can be gleaned from this story's bleak conclusion, its only untainted piece, is the love between an innocent child and a mother-figure. That being said, I hesitate to say that the reader will "enjoy" this novel. Stylistically it is highly accomplished, the story will suck you in and hold you until it's had its way with you. However, when you step away from it and look back on what it's given you, you may look upon humanity with a touch more sadness and pessimism, and wish you didn't know all of the things that go bump ( or click) in the night.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Martin

    Received as an ARC. Beyond The Pale Motel is a fast-paced, erotic, psychological thriller. Heavy on the erotic and heavy on the psychological. Francesca Lia Block uses her signature dreamy style to lure the reader to the edge of nightmare in her latest (and darker) take on living and dying in Los Angeles. Catt is married to dashing punk-musician--aptly named--Dash, and works with her best-friend, the beautiful pink-lavender-blue haired Bree, and is a devoted and deeply invested godmother to Bree' Received as an ARC. Beyond The Pale Motel is a fast-paced, erotic, psychological thriller. Heavy on the erotic and heavy on the psychological. Francesca Lia Block uses her signature dreamy style to lure the reader to the edge of nightmare in her latest (and darker) take on living and dying in Los Angeles. Catt is married to dashing punk-musician--aptly named--Dash, and works with her best-friend, the beautiful pink-lavender-blue haired Bree, and is a devoted and deeply invested godmother to Bree's son. Even though danger lurks in the form of a serial killer, Catt still manages to notice the beauty (no matter how poisonous)that surrounds her. When Catt's marriage comes to a sudden end, and as victims of the Hollywood Serial Killer hit closer to home than she ever could have imagined, she begins to lose control of herself. A love-addict and recovering alcoholic, Catt is quick to obsess and soon finds herself using the one thing she can control:sex. But when everyone is suspect and there is nothing left to lose, it is easier to lose touch with reality than to face it, and Catt begins to crave escape. Can she learn to love the one person who can save her? This isn't a love story, but a story about self-love and the monsters that live within us all.

  18. 5 out of 5

    CB Davis

    There is a LOT going on here. This is like 14 novels in one, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. I think it literally contains every LA cliche there is. I burned through it in an afternoon, so I don’t feel too let down by it—Block does have a writing style that keeps you reading. My issue is that she threw so many random left turns in the last quarter of the book that you’re left wondering, what is the point of all this? She would benefit from the adage ‘put everything on, but take 2 things There is a LOT going on here. This is like 14 novels in one, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. I think it literally contains every LA cliche there is. I burned through it in an afternoon, so I don’t feel too let down by it—Block does have a writing style that keeps you reading. My issue is that she threw so many random left turns in the last quarter of the book that you’re left wondering, what is the point of all this? She would benefit from the adage ‘put everything on, but take 2 things off before you leave the house’. I was at about a 70% approval rating until the last quarter, then she lost me for good.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gail M

    I'm not sure what the point of this book was. There didn't seem to be any growth for the characters and the ending resolved nothing. Maybe it was to say once you have a screwed up childhood it's highly unlikely you'll recover?? I'm not sure what the point of this book was. There didn't seem to be any growth for the characters and the ending resolved nothing. Maybe it was to say once you have a screwed up childhood it's highly unlikely you'll recover??

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jakstews

    Awful. The story is like someone with ADD, on speed. It's a mashup of self pity, masterbation, and jealousy, thrown together with utterly no character development and a last minute oh-btw-this-person-is-the-killer. Truly the only good thing I can say is at least it was a short book. Awful. The story is like someone with ADD, on speed. It's a mashup of self pity, masterbation, and jealousy, thrown together with utterly no character development and a last minute oh-btw-this-person-is-the-killer. Truly the only good thing I can say is at least it was a short book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rhema-Leigh

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I wish there was more about the serial killer and less about her sex life. This book can hardly be classified as a mystery.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Emery

    One of the worst books I've ever read. Complete crap. Avoid at all costs. One of the worst books I've ever read. Complete crap. Avoid at all costs.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Mia

    First book I felt unable to put down in ages.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This book was atrocious. The storyline was nothing special, the characters were totally unlikable and pretty one dimensional, the writing was just bad, and the inaccuracies were a problem. For starters, she has the news referring to the Hollywood Serial Killer (bedsides that being the lamest moniker ever)but there is only ONE body!!! You cannot be considered a serial killer until there are at least3 bodies! I thought that was pretty much common knowledge these days, but certainly a decent author This book was atrocious. The storyline was nothing special, the characters were totally unlikable and pretty one dimensional, the writing was just bad, and the inaccuracies were a problem. For starters, she has the news referring to the Hollywood Serial Killer (bedsides that being the lamest moniker ever)but there is only ONE body!!! You cannot be considered a serial killer until there are at least3 bodies! I thought that was pretty much common knowledge these days, but certainly a decent author should check that sort of thing. You'd need at least 2 bodies before you could even make a connection and suspect a possible connection between them. One dead girl is just a murder. This book was so bad that I honestly thought it was the self-published first attempt at a novel by a barely 20-something who needed a better editor and a lot more practice. Imagine my surprise to learn it was written by an author who has been writing for nearly 20 years. That makes it even worse somehow. This book has every lame-ass cliché about LA, the most shallow, pathetic, and unsympathetic main character ever. I'm not sure if we were supposed to feel sorry for her but I couldn't stand her pathetic need for male attention and her belief that sleeping with every man who came into her life would somehow make someone love her. Spoilers follow. Given the fact that she's willing to drop her pants, and then pathetically swoon for every strange man she meets, her ultimate fate is no surprise, (and no big disappointment.) I kept waiting for there to be some big secret from her past that explained her ridiculous fear of Jeffery Dahmer and the current "serial" killer, but of course there wasn't. And this particular killer was barely even an actual serial killer, in fact he couldn't even be defined as one for most of the time the book (and news) was calling him one. Then we have the shallow best friend who dumps her kid off to go run around with every other willing man she can find online. And then why, if they are supposedly such good friends, does Bree decide to completely turn her back on her best friend the moment she is in need. What kind of best friend is that? Why should we care about the characters when they clearly don't even care about each other. And I don't know much about AA, but I would guess that a sponser isn't supposed to turn their back on somebody for falling off the wagon. And why does Scott up and die from Leukemia out of the blue for no apparent reason? It does nothing to the tired plotline anyway and seems to serve absolutely no purpose.

  25. 4 out of 5

    The Truth

    Melissa's Review **Arc Provided by author in exchange for an honest review** 4 Stars Beyond the Pale Motel by Francesca Lia Block was dark, twisty and suspensful. OMG I loved it! This fast paced book is centered on topics that are often hard to discuss- addiction, adultery & murder. It was my first FLB book but surely will not be my last. Her style pulled me in from the first sentence and did not loosen it's grip until I reached "The End." When Catt's husbands up and leaves her to start a new life e Melissa's Review **Arc Provided by author in exchange for an honest review** 4 Stars Beyond the Pale Motel by Francesca Lia Block was dark, twisty and suspensful. OMG I loved it! This fast paced book is centered on topics that are often hard to discuss- addiction, adultery & murder. It was my first FLB book but surely will not be my last. Her style pulled me in from the first sentence and did not loosen it's grip until I reached "The End." When Catt's husbands up and leaves her to start a new life elsewhere right around the same time as a serial killer starts offing beautiful women and collecting their body parts, she is left teetering on a very dangerous edge. She has her best friend Bree and her godson, Skylar by her side to help her move forward and that is good, for awhile. Catt tries to make herself feel better with a series of unfortunate hook ups but between them and the serial killer brutally murdering her neighbor, she starts to unravel. Beyond the Pale Motel was far more raw and psychological that I had anticipated. FLB created these magnificent characters that made me fall in love with them, short comings and all. I couldn't help but to feel sorry for Catt. Watching her slow decent into a darkened state of being was heartbreaking. She not only lost her husband but between her addiction and obsession with the Hollywood killer she pushed away the other two most important people in her life. With everything crumbling around her, she seeks solace in the arms of a man that should be off limits. This was the breaking point for me. As the story started to become clear, I felt as if I couldn't read fast enough. The suspense kept pushing me towards the finish, even well past my bedtime. As I arrived upon the end of the book I couldn't help but feel emotionally drained. The story was presented in such a way that I felt as if I walk along with Catt through her struggles. And the ending... Oh, my heart. Ms. Block's detailed words let this dark tail unfold clearly but also kept me guessing. I couldn't help but fall in love with her writing style, and I promise you will too.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Haynes

    If 2012 tumblr, but mostly the straight and eating disorder parts of tumblr, wrote a book, it might still be better than this book. I used to love her Block’s books. So maybe this is just a one off. The main character mostly hates herself for being fat. That’s about 60 perfect of her personality. The rest of her personality and the whole book seems to be her desperate quest for male approval. Many sex scenes ensue which are so cringe I had to skip them. It felt like they were written by someone If 2012 tumblr, but mostly the straight and eating disorder parts of tumblr, wrote a book, it might still be better than this book. I used to love her Block’s books. So maybe this is just a one off. The main character mostly hates herself for being fat. That’s about 60 perfect of her personality. The rest of her personality and the whole book seems to be her desperate quest for male approval. Many sex scenes ensue which are so cringe I had to skip them. It felt like they were written by someone who actually hates sex? It’s mostly men giving orders of things for her to do and then her doing them. The book’s favored male approval provider tells her “you’re not like other women.” And she takes this as a huge compliment. Because other women: gross. Every woman is seen as competition, even her best friend. Also: the main character is an addict in recovery yet has parties at her house with alcohol?

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    On audiobook, read well. I have feelings for this book! It tells the story of Catt, a woman in her mid-thirties who has overcome a bad childhood and her own addiction problems. She has a successful blog, a job in a hair salon with her best friend, a stepson she loves and is deeply involved with, and a sexy husband. The husband leaves right off the bat, then pretty quickly, it all gets taken away, and then-- whoops! Absolute horror. I found it incredibly engaging in the first three quarters. I was On audiobook, read well. I have feelings for this book! It tells the story of Catt, a woman in her mid-thirties who has overcome a bad childhood and her own addiction problems. She has a successful blog, a job in a hair salon with her best friend, a stepson she loves and is deeply involved with, and a sexy husband. The husband leaves right off the bat, then pretty quickly, it all gets taken away, and then-- whoops! Absolute horror. I found it incredibly engaging in the first three quarters. I was annoyed at how much the author needed to talk about Catt's great taste- her house has great pristine hardwood floors, her wedding was very alternative-hipster in style, the hot husband wears Doc Martens-- there's a lot of that. It seemed very LA to me? And I know that Catt was going though a divorce, but she seemed very, very immature to me. The way she blamed herself for all her faults and saw things in such a black and white way seemed much more in keeping with the inner life of a 16-year-old than a thirty-six-year-old. Still, it was fun, and I was very involved with the story. She makes lots of mistakes with men, has lots of sex, which is well-described and believable for someone who has been dumped for another woman. Then there's a birthday party, and Catt doesn't get any good presents. From that point on, the author just starts throwing shit at her, and none of it seems earned or believable in the world that's already been set up for the book. I was dismayed. I might have never seen a book that fell apart so fast. I almost stopped listening, but continued when I realized I was getting pretty close to the end. And I think the terms "unearned" and "unbelievable" were ever more valid in the conclusion. I'd heard good things about this author and always meant to listen to one of her books, but perhaps this isn't the one?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Larissa ✨

    Beyond the Pale Motel is the type of story you want to end well. You want Catt, the protagonist, to work through her issues and to find peace. You want someone to tell her she's beautiful and worthwhile. You want her to realize she doesn't need to chase society's narrow view of beauty—an unattainable goal, because of her more voluptuous frame. When Catt finally does realize her body is perfect, her revelation is so simply stated, and with such regret, it moves the reader to ponder how any woman Beyond the Pale Motel is the type of story you want to end well. You want Catt, the protagonist, to work through her issues and to find peace. You want someone to tell her she's beautiful and worthwhile. You want her to realize she doesn't need to chase society's narrow view of beauty—an unattainable goal, because of her more voluptuous frame. When Catt finally does realize her body is perfect, her revelation is so simply stated, and with such regret, it moves the reader to ponder how any woman can suffer from body dysmorphic disorder. Francesca Lia Block, author of Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books and The Rose and The Beast: Fairy Tales Retold, is known for her dreamy prose and for her shimmering version of Los Angeles. Her characters feel like real people; they address myriad real world problems, as they navigate an otherworldly cityscape. In Beyond the Pale Motel, Block uses parts of the body to convey how disconnected and incomplete Catt feels. Catt and her best friend, Bree, cut and style hair at a salon called Head Hunters. Catt works out at a gym called Body Farm, in an attempt to inspire desire in her husband, who ultimately leaves her for another woman. The serial killer stalking the city slices his victims into parts: one woman's legs, another woman's arms. When Catt explores sex with random men, she physically separates from her body. Catt only becomes whole after she pursues the Hollywood Killer to an abandoned motel in the desert, where she realizes there is more to life than the pursuit of perfection. There is friendship. There is love. And through this epiphany, Catt achieves a kind of peace. * Francesca was kind enough to answer my questions about Beyond the Pale Motel, as well as her love of fairy tales and mythology, on my blog!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I have been a huge fan of FLB for several years. Her writing style was as lush and beautiful as it ever has been, but Beyond the Pale Motel had a very clear, deliberate darkness to it. However, it seems like in this book, FLB is juggling just too many plot lines: Addiction, love, family, abuse, and objectification. And that doesn't even begin to cover this whole murder thing that is simultaneously going on...And the random sex scenes that felt like they were just plopped randomly throughout the I have been a huge fan of FLB for several years. Her writing style was as lush and beautiful as it ever has been, but Beyond the Pale Motel had a very clear, deliberate darkness to it. However, it seems like in this book, FLB is juggling just too many plot lines: Addiction, love, family, abuse, and objectification. And that doesn't even begin to cover this whole murder thing that is simultaneously going on...And the random sex scenes that felt like they were just plopped randomly throughout the book so the reader wouldn't get bored. I felt like the characters were incredibly one-dimensional, lacking nearly any motives. Additionally, when I finished the book, I felt absolutely no resolution. Not exactly something you expect from a mystery. Saying that this book left me unsatisfied is a huge understatement. I believe that Catt, Bree, and all the rest had such potential, but this one was really just a flop for me. None of the characters got an ending that they deserved, in terms of depth or growth. This book stopped short, but because I felt like the characters were so flimsy, the ending didn't even leave me wondering what happened to them.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carolee Wheeler

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I'm more worried about FLB's psyche than ever. The main character, Catt comes upon her estranged best friend about to be murdered and dismembered by Catt's ex-husband's brother (a hot guy Catt has already slept with in her attempt to forget her ex, yes), and she screams and throws her phone to save her best friend. So the hot guy (named Cyan, FLB has so many characters she's running out of names) ties up Catt and injects her with some sort of paralytic drug, and wheels her around in a wheelchair I'm more worried about FLB's psyche than ever. The main character, Catt comes upon her estranged best friend about to be murdered and dismembered by Catt's ex-husband's brother (a hot guy Catt has already slept with in her attempt to forget her ex, yes), and she screams and throws her phone to save her best friend. So the hot guy (named Cyan, FLB has so many characters she's running out of names) ties up Catt and injects her with some sort of paralytic drug, and wheels her around in a wheelchair showing off his museum of obscenity that he's installed in a brokedown old motel (the titular location, yes). The last thing he shows her is the freezer full of body parts he's saved in an attempt to create "the perfect woman." And all Catt can think (more than once!) is "I guess I wasn't hot enough for him to want to hack into pieces." Then he takes her heart, because it's the only good part of her. Good thing he didn't take her brain, then his creation would have been ruined. So ok, if you like the FLB of yesteryear but it didn't have enough cocks and juices for you, maybe you'll like this. But for me....no.

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