Friday, July 22, 2011

I read this (June 2011)

Sorry about the dearth of reviews. My Kindle broke and I've been busy transferring everything to the new one. I have been reading but a lot of it has been middle-of-the-road, good-enough-but-not-great. And it's been 90+ degrees here and my brain is melting out of my ears. I'll get around to something sometime.

I don't know why I'm always surprised by how many romance novels I read, but apparently I read 16 of them. That seems like a lot. It always seems like a lot.

Young Adult

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins and Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams: These 2 books are phenomenal. Both are written in free verse and deal unflinchingly with pretty dark subjects (suicide attempts and sexual abuse). I recommend but be forewarned.

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games Trilogy): I LOVE THE HELL OUT OF THESE BOOKS. Yes, that noise you hear is a fangirl squeeing. Here's the review for the first book, I will post reviews of the other 2 soonish.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson: Solid writing, intriguing premise, but missing something? I don't know, I was a little unsatisfied by the ending. I'll read the followup when it's released, maybe that will help with the ambivalence. Readable? Sure.

Urban Fantasy

Goddess of the Sea by P.C. Cast: NO! I am so sad because mermaids, I love them. And this book was terrible. The writing was so bland, it was the literary equivalent of microwave oatmeal (the plain stuff, no apples, no cinnamon, no maple flavoring here). I skimmed the entire middle third of the book. Actually, I skimmed over so much, I practically didn't read it at all. It's the first of a series, I don't know why you would care.

War for the Oaks by Emma Bull: Oddly enough, Dani and I were reading this at roughly the same time. It was good, especially for a first novel. Not much in the way of world-building, the writing is occasionally inconsistent, but over-all, it was fun. Read it or not, whatever.

Burnt Offerings by Laurell K. Hamilton (AB:VH, Book 7): God no. You should love yourself more than that.

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels, Book 1): I've only read this first book, but it seems to land pretty solidly between Mercy Thompson (whom I love) and Anita Blake (see above). The heroine is mostly likable, but she is super-special. However, her extra-special-snowflake status is alluded to several times and is not just because... something. I'm withholding full judgment until after I've read the next book. I will say that I am cautiously optimistic.

The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next, Book 3): So I loved the first book. I loved the second book. I only liked this one (a lot), which is odd because I liked the premise of this book the most. I like alternate universe theories and I LOVE books, so the idea of an alternate universe existing within books should be magic. But I thought this was a little whuh?. Don't even bother if you haven't read the first 2 in the series. (It's not actually UF, I have no idea how to categorize it.)


Indiscreet by Caroline Jewel: Sweet, a little melancholy, utterly enjoyable. Read this one.

Unveiled by Courtney Milan (The Turners, Book 1): The premise is improbable, but it was fun to read. Watching the heroine grow a backbone was especially gratifying. Read it, why not.

Proof by Seduction and Trial by Desire by Courtney Milan (The Blakeleys, Books 1 & 2): I enjoyed them, but meh? I liked the 2nd one better but I could take or leave either one.

The Charm School by Susan Wiggs (The Calhouns, Book 1): An ugly heroine in a romance novel? Sign me up. I'll probably read the 2nd book, I like stories of redemption.

Mine Till Midnight and Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas (The Hathways, Books 1 & 2): Okay, so I love Lisa Kleypas. Even though she uses the word "voluptuous" inappropriately and far too often. I've read nearly all of her books. More than once. A lot more than once. YOU SHOULD READ ALL OF THEM TOO.

The Golden Season by Connie Brockway: Yep, read it. Good character growth, believable romance.

My One and Only by Kristan Higgins: Actually, I would like to recommend this but I don't think the resolution was believable. It kind of soured the whole thing for me.

The Indiscretion and Beast by Judith Ivory: Nope for the first and yep for the second. The Indiscretion was just not cohesive. Plot threads kept being introduced and then nothing. And I rarely feel guilty for liking books, but Beast is definitely on that list. It's problematic on so many levels and the ending was so rushed, but still. Le sigh.

A Little Bit Wild by Victoria Dahl (The Yorks, Book 1): Nope, no, sorry, the heroine was so spoiled that I couldn't care about anything she did. I finished it but only because it was short.

The Wild Marquis by Miranda Neville: I'm going to say yes here. Not just because the heroine was a rare book dealer.

Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn: Fluffy and light-hearted. It's readable and fun, but actually, I had to read the synopsis at Amazon to remember what it was about.

The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne (Spymasters, Book 1): Really well-written, strong characterization, lots of intrigue, but it went on and on and on. If it had been even 50 pages shorter, I would recommend it unreservedly.

Impostress by Lisa Jackson: NO. No, no, no. Although, honestly, I went into this knowing it was going to be bad. It was a HABO at SBTB and sounded so ludicrous that I had to read it. I regret this. I skimmed this one too.

Believe by Victoria Alexander: I couldn't make myself finish this. IT WAS SO TERRIBLE. I have no idea why I even wanted to read it.

Graphic Novels

The Great Fables Crossover and Witches by Bill Willingham, (Fables, Volumes 13 & 14): I loved this series wholeheartedly until War and Pieces (Volume 11). I actively hated The Dark Ages (Volume 12) and I seriously disliked Crossover, and barely tolerated Witches. Once the major story arc was resolved in W&P, the stories stopped making sense. If you only read until Vol. 11, you'll be in good shape.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Open letter to LKH regarding Hit List

Disclaimer: This is not exactly spoiler-y since there’s not, like, a plot to spoil, but there are some details of Hit List ranted about below that you may want to avoid if you haven’t read it and are planning on it; though god help you if you honestly care that much.


Dear Laurel K Hamilton,

I’m not a fan. Let’s be honest. While the following is a fact that I’m extremely pained to admit – a pain, like, you have no idea, fucking tears my soul asunder -- I have read every single one of the books in your Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. I just finished your most recent installment, Hit List. I need to assure you that I have never paid for one of your books. I cannot bear the thought that any of my hard earned dollars would be filling your coffers, and possibly contributing to your false assumption that there is one more person in the world that wants you to continue to do what it is that you do …  which summarily is reduced to poisoning the universe with the shittiest characters every fucking dreamed of by man or beast.

Back to Hit List. The book took me about four hours to read, cover to cover. Its brevity was undoubtedly the best thing about it. Said brevity, however, had mild surface value at best, as you have somehow managed to work some kind of black magic on the space/time continuum, insofar as that four hours was hands down the longest fucking stretch of time I have ever and possibly will ever experience. Great cities fell in that four hours. I saw the face of Lovecraftian madness and the world was fucking consumed by tentacled Old Ones in that four hours. Your book made me age, Laurel K Hamilton.

The title, first of all – what the fuck? At this point I’m longing for the times when each book was dumbly named after a location of indeterminable import in the story. It was fucking lame, but at least it made sense. There was no hit list in this book. Like, not even a haphazard one. I can see, sort of, where you maybe named the book before you wrote it. That seems very You. I mean, things are murdered? Sort of? But things are fucking murdered in all of your books, so I feel like that’s hardly a plot point relevant enough to use as the title.

And who, seriously, was asking for more of Olaf? HE IS A TERRIBLE CHARACTER. And every time you talk about him, why do you feel the need to spend THIRTY FUCKING PAGES vomiting the same shit over and over again about how he’s a serial killer and how Blake is his victim type (because Blake is everyone’s type in some way or another, amirite?) and HOMIGOD SOMEDAY HE MUST DIE? You are clearly never going to fucking kill him off, because you never fucking kill ANYONE off. You just keep inventing more and more characters whose sole purpose is to be obsessed with Anita Blake, and no one she “cares” about in return ever . fucking . dies; despite the fact that there is laughable, hyperbolic, ridiculous violence and death basically every goddamn day of these people’s miserable fucking lives.

AND WHAT THE FUCK WAS THE POINT OF THIS BOOK, ULTIMATELY? The Harlequin! Are killing clanless weretigers! That is the premise. But at some point, YOU FORGOT TO FUCKING EXPLAIN THE PREMISE. The Harlequin work for Marmee Noir, so I’m guessing this is her bag. Her goal, you know, overall, is to inhabit Blake’s body so she can, whatever, fucking rule the world with her magical vagina – I couldn’t/can’t ever actually justify, in my head, why the MOTHER OF ALL DARKNESS would give two fucks about Blake, despite how illogically amazing she is, like, who could POSSIBLY trump what is explained to me as The End All Be All of every scary fucking thing ever invented, but OK, you win, this is what happens, this omnipotent/omnipresent being is endlessly thwarted by a stupid bitch with guns and an effervescent hoohaa.

Anyway, her goal as mentioned is to take over Blake’s body. How, exactly, is sending The Harlequin out to kill clanless weretigers all crazy style like a logical conduit to that end? It’s a lure? Apparently? Is what you’re telling me? That is the dumbest fucking thing I have ever heard. I reiterate: mother of all darkness! Should not need a VERY half-baked plan with absolutely no relevance to her goal to lure Anita Blake to fucking Tacoma, Washington (and WHY THE FUCK Washington?!) and UM WHOOPS it doesn’t work anyway, because of course it doesn’t work, because of course Blake wins every time, but usually you have the decency to at least give me a believable reason why whatever fight is happening is actually happening and not just 200 pages of “I AM ANITA AND I AM AMAZING AND COPS ARE ASSHOLES AND I AM AMAZING AND SEX WITH ME IS GREAT AND I AM AMAZING AND SOMETIMES PEOPLE HATE ME AND I DON’T CARE AS LONG AS THEY ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT ME”

So I guess congratulations are in order, because you have managed to keep me sufficiently full of blinding rage for an entire 20 books. Perhaps it is YOUR vagina that is magical (I’m assuming you write your books with your vagina.) Under other circumstances, I would also consider thanking you for giving me a book that is entirely free of Richard, but if given the choice between 200 pages of his existential angst and 200 pages of THE WORST DIALOGUE EVER* with angry misogynist cops (because there are no other kinds), I think I almost prefer Richard. I mean, the devil you know, right?

Can’t wait for the next installment. Honestly. I can’t wait to round up every copy in publication and throw them off a fucking bridge. No. No. Set fire to them, THEN throw them off a fucking bridge. I think it might now be my personal crusade to destroy all evidence that your terrible books every existed. And by crusade, I mean I’m not actually going to do anything because I’m pretty lazy, but I will fantasize the fuck out of a world that is free of Anita fucking Blake.

*No seriously, your dialogue sucks. It is physically painful to me to even skim through the 10 page conversations about nothing that always take place in parking lots. You’ve been doing this for a while. It’s time to take a course or get some kind of professional help in this area. There are books on the subject. Like, lots of them.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I read this (???)

Time period hazy. Let's go with, like, May through now. 

Suite Scarlett - Maureen Johnson
Scarlett Fever - Maureen Johnson

Generally, I don't love the YA. It's hard to discriminate against an entire genre, but really? I'm not old enough yet to have gotten tired of absorbing things made for adults; books that have cursing and drugs and sex and all of that useless shit. This sounds stupid, what with me pushing 30. I realize. Maybe it's my vehemence towards The Baby Machine and how any number of people that I used to really like now kind of suck because they had babies and it made them unbearable. OK. Tangent. Anyway! 

These are good! They are not as good as 13 Little Blue Envelopes, but they're still good. They are light, fun, and ask nothing of you and still manage to be engaging. Having gone to high school in NYC, they have maybe a special resonance with me. Anyway, read them! 

The Gunslinger (Dark Tower, Book I) - Stephen King

I know I just said that I was done with SK. I lied. He is like the guiltiest of all of my pleasures. And there's so fucking much of it - I've been reading this guy's shit since I was like 8 years old, and I still haven't got through half of it. I tried reading this one years and years ago, but pretty much abandoned it after the first five pages. This is slow-going, you guys. And cerebral. And kind of uh? I don't know. I didn't hate it or particularly like it. It was like a school assignment. I basically forced myself through it because apparently the later books in the series have a sick payoff. Here's hoping. I downloaded the second book but have only just started it, so I guess we'll see. I kind of feel like if you haven't already read this series, there's little chance you want to.

Skeleton Crew - Stephen King

I told you it was a guilty pleasure. I got this book for free at a flea market. It was marked $0.50, and they dude was like "yeah take it." This was like six months ago, and it sat buried under the mountain of unopened mail that is my dining room table. Obviously, I found it, and it made for a great bathroom book (what? like you don't have bathroom books?). It's a book of short stories, which really, this dude knows how to do. It's got The Mist in it, which I skipped because I read it standalone, and The Raft, which if you've ever seen Creepshow 2 about a million times (like I have), you are familar with that one as well. And the one about the hitman who swallows a cat that was in Tales From The Darkside. There's a lot of old pals in this one, is what I'm saying. 

War For The Oaks - Emma Bull

It's good-ish. It's got fae in it, and rock and roll, and has given me the phrase "Phouka, please" which I have absolutely worked into my vocabulary. It's a little dated, but not offensively so, and goes on a bit longer than I think it needs to  - but it's first novel, and a damn good show of one at that. Read it? If you like. I won't kill your family if you don't.

Dessert FourPlay: Sweet Quartets from a Four-Star Pastry Chef- Johnny Iuzzini

Yes, it's technically a cookbook, and yes, Iuzzini is a douchebag. This is still an amazing fucking display of pastry work, and it totally took me a week to read it, so I say it counts. And if you care at all about fine dining desserts and presentation, you should take a look. I mean, beet parfait. Seriously.

Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega, Book 1) - Patricia Briggs
Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, Book 2) - Patricia Briggs

WEREWOLVES. Yes, more werewolves. But well written werewolves (alliteration like whoa), which is refreshing as hell. The covers will fucking embarrass the shit out of you if you have them in public, so best get the Kindle versions or, like, a book cozy. There's some crossover with the Mercy Thompson series, which I kind of love (the series, not the crossover - not that I hate the crossover, just ... you get it). If you've read that and like it, then you should read these. I'm not real rabid about suggesting them - ultimately, they're fluff, but I mean, show me a book that's about fucking werewolves that is not fluff. Fluff is good! But let's call a spade a spade, here.

I might be forgetting some. It's been a rough week. I have a few things on my dance card ... and I know you're eagerly awaiting the review of AB:VH Book 8: Blue Moon. I sure can't wait to write it! I'm driving very small nails into my forehead with anticipation. I'll get there. I haven't read Hit List yet, because my public library has a waiting list (WHAT THE FUCK), but you know, I'm sure it's the worst thing ever written.