Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Black Lament by Christina Henry

Inevitable spoilers for books 1-3 ahead, go away if you wish to read those with some element of surprise.

photo via author website
As an Agent of Death, Madeline Black deals with loss every day. But when tragedy touches her own life, Maddy will have to find the strength within to carry on… 

Devastated and grieving, Maddy unexpectedly finds hope with the discovery that she is pregnant. But Maddy’s joy is short lived when Lucifer informs her that he wants the baby, hoping to draw on the combined power of two of his bloodlines. Maddy is determined that her grandfather will never have her child, but she’s not sure what she can do to stop him. 

Being pregnant is stressful enough, but Maddy suddenly finds herself at odds with the Agency—forbidden from meddling in the affairs of the supernatural courts. When a few of her soul collections go awry, Maddy begins to suspect that the Agency wants to terminate her employment. They should know by now that she isn’t the sort to give up without a fight…

synopsis via Goodreads

So, like, all of the books are fun, with plenty of action and occasional hilarity. But they aren't really very deep, both in content matter and in characterization (which is totally fine, I like fluffy books). This book feels particularly shallow because Maddy's husband was murdered but her grief never feels authentic (not that there is a right way and a wrong way to grieve or feel grief IRL but this is fiction, the rules, they be different). It's been only a couple of weeks since Gabriel died and she's just found out she's pregnant and her sadness feels like so much lip service.  "I am sad" is really not a sufficient portrayal of sadness. Realistically though, emotional depth has never been the strength of this series. The romantical aspect was definitely under-fed in the previous books so it makes a sort-of weird sense that the other emotional aspects have been neglected here? At least it's consistent.

As a whole, it's written competently and is paced well (the pace, btw, is FAST). The end wraps up a little bit too quickly, but it's neither super-predictable nor zany-out-there.The dudely love interests (for lack of a better term) sound pretty foxy and even though we get a Sassy Best Friend, Beezle (Maddy's pet/best friend/gargoyle) is neither red-haired nor human and manages to evade being quite a cliché. The weird pregnancy-detecting fallen angel skillz were pretty creepy and hitting on a pregnant lady whose husband has just died is in pretty bad taste, but over-all another solid entry into the Black Wings series.

Read this if you like very fluffy Urban Fantasy that's heavy on witty dialogue and light on emotional investment.

Black Lament by Christina Henry
Series: Black Wings
Previous book: Black Howl  Next book: Black City (forthcoming Feb-2013)
P.O.V. Third person
Language: Mostly clean, maybe a couple of f-bombs? I don't exactly recall
Sexxxoring: There was a super-vague dream-thing but otherwise ZERO
Where from? Borrowed from das Library

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Judy Blume - Summer Sisters



So I'm dealing with this; this Calibre thing that Jae totally understands/loves/might as well just marry and I just keep looking at it dubiously, like who are you and why can't I make categories on you, why are you genuinely consuming my entire night just loading my shit, and don't even think about turning this around and making it about the actual volume of shit I have so shut up seriously.

While that's happening, I will tell you about a book I read. I do this never, on my shared book blog, so obviously this is important.

Judy Blume - Summer Sisters

I guess I'm super late to the party on this one -  it was published in the halcyon days of 2003. This probably would have changed my life had I read it in 2003, but reading it in 2012 was more "nice evening in, please hold the sonnets decreeing it's greatness." It's a lovely book, but I'm pretty sure Judy Blume's life-changing capabilities fade entirely after your 23rd birthday or something. It's in your DNA, like those weird cell phone noises that only children can hear. Some things, you just age out of.

Regardless, I was feeling nostalgic and starting plowing through a boatload of JB's catalog (Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself was always my favorite, I know, who am I, what have I done with general consensus, but oh my god those letters to !!!Hitler In Disguise!!! fucking kill me) and this was thrown in the mix because I almost never remember the titles of books I've read. I assumed I had read it, with the rest. I had not. And it's pretty damn amazing.

It's one of her adult novels (not adult like porn, adult like probably don't give this to your 8 year old). It's about these BFFs (kind of? like not my definition of BFF but clearly someone's?), and their lives basically from age 12 through eternity. Whatever, here's the summary, I'm terrible at this:

In the summer of 1977, Victoria Leonard's world changed forever—when Caitlin Somers chose her as a friend. Dazzling, reckless Caitlin welcomed Vix into the heart of her sprawling, eccentric family, opening doors to a world of unimaginable privilege, sweeping her away to vacations on Martha's Vineyard, a magical, wind-blown island where two friends became summer sisters. . . .

Now, years later, Vix is working in New York City. Caitlin is getting married on the Vineyard. And the early magic of their long, complicated friendship has faded. But Caitlin has begged Vix to come to her wedding, to be her maid of honor. And Vix knows that she will go—for the friend whose casual betrayals she remembers all too well. Because Vix wants to understand what happened during that last shattering summer. And, after all these years, she needs to know why her best friend—her summer sister—still has the power to break her heart....
Why do all summaries end with an ellipsis? I mean, I guess I know technically why, but it's still irritating as all fuck.

And this kind of sounds awful! Don't listen to the saccharine synopsis. There is some deep shit buried in this book. And scissoring! Honestly! THERE IS SCISSORING, OK.

Blume is basically the master of relateable adolescent girl stories. It's why she's such a hit with the YA set -- it's like someone sucked the awkward insanity out of a 12 year old's head and made sense of it in a way that understandable, hilarious, absurd, and sad. This book has SO MUCH of all of those things. You will laugh, you will cry, etc. The relationship between Vix and Caitlin is so tragic and awful, and I feel like most ladies have had at some point a friendship that was just that intense and inevitably doomed for it.

FOR THE RECORD: Minus the scissoring. I get that it's a thing and surely happens amongst pre-teen/who the fuck am I/what is sex/etc girls, but also does NOT happen with the same frequency, and let's just take a moment to recognize that there are all kinds and all of them are fine. THAT SAID: some of these paragraphs made me keenly uncomfortable in a way that has probably everything to do with my own hang-ups, but come on, I am basically reading a sex scene between 12 year old girls and that is weird, there I said it.

Read this book! Totally read it. It will take you like 4 hours, not even. And your library has it. Right now. There are characters named Bru, Von, and Lamb (for gods sake) which are all genuinely stupid and I didn't even care, that's how much I enjoyed this book. So read it, and then we can talk about the The Power, which is such a bizarre concept that I can't even tell you about it.

Hey, guess what! Calibre's done. I'm going to go pretend like I know what the fuck I'm doing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Down to You by M. Leighton

Amazon recommended this to me because I bought everything Tammara Webber has written (you should definitely read all of her stuff, it’s pretty great).

The scorching tale of one girl, two brothers and a love triangle…that’s not.
Olivia Townsend is nothing special. She’s just a girl working her way through college so she can return home to help her father run his business. She’s determined not to be the second woman in his life to abandon him, even if it means putting her own life on hold. To Olivia, it’s clear what she must do. Plain and simple. Black and white.
But clear becomes complicated when she meets Cash and Nash Davenport. They’re brothers. Twins. Cash is everything she’s always wanted in a guy. He’s a dangerous, sexy bad boy who wants her in his bed at any cost. He turns her insides to mush and, with just one kiss, makes her forget why he’s no good for her.
Nash is everything she’s ever needed in a guy. He’s successful, responsible and intensely passionate. But he’s taken. Very taken, by none other than Marissa, Liv’s rich, beautiful cousin. That doesn’t stop Olivia from melting every time he looks at her, though. With just one touch, he makes her forget why they can never be together.
Black and white turns to shades of gray when Olivia discovers the boys are hiding something, something that should make her run as far and as fast as she can. But it’s too late to run. Olivia’s already involved. And in love. With both of them.
Both brothers make her heart tremble. Both brothers set her body on fire. 
She wants them both. And they want her.
How will she ever choose between them?
(via Goodreads)

Ignore the first 2 parts of the synopsis, just about everything that wasn’t related to the main characters fucking/thinking about fucking/trying to fuck was glossed over. And since it wasn’t erotica, a plot would have been nice. And since there wasn’t a plot, more than a token attempt at character development could have been made. Olivia never learns anything/grows up/has an epiphany/does anything but whine about how much she likes these boys/can never have these boys. And Cash/Nash are never developed beyond their super-secret secret, which didn’t even come into play until at least halfway through the book.

And hooray for manufactured conflict, Olivia’s ex-boyfriend was a bad boy and he hurt her feelings so she’s sworn off bad boys forever.  Yeah sure, having your heart broken sucks balls, but here’s a protip: just because a boy has tattoos doesn’t make him bad. BEING AN ASSHOLE WHO CHEATS ON HIS PREGNANT GIRLFRIEND makes him bad.  Also, guys in suits are not necessarily good guys either.

There were few terrible grammar/editing distractions and the story was well-paced (mostly). The author was definitely heavy-handed with the exclamation points and italics but that’s more a style issue than anything else (reading about people who are that excited! about! everything! was exhausting). I will admit that this was kind of compulsively readable; I almost missed my bus stop because I was reading. The dudes were super foxy and the sex scenes were pretty steamy. However, and this is a BIG however, the last quarter of the book takes a sharp turn from oh-this-is-mildly-entertaining to holy-shit-WTF. And then the epilogue crashes into now-this-is-a-suspense-novel-what-the-hell and surprise-there’s a-sequel!

Should you read this? If you like reading about people who are magnificent jerks and you’ve got a couple of free hours and don’t need to go to the dentist or something, sure. If the ending wasn’t so utterly bizarro, I’d have left off the caveat about the dentist. Regardless, I’m glad I borrowed this and didn’t use the last of the Amazon gift card I’ve been saving for a rainy day.

Series: As yet untitled
Next book in series: To be announced
P.O.V.: First person, present; alternating narrators
Language: Salty
Sexy business: Plenty and semi-graphic

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Demon's Librarian by Lilith Saintcrow

I just glommed the Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow a couple of weeks ago. Since I mostly liked it, I went ahead and bought this book and also the Jill Kismet series which just happens to be available on Kindle for $9.99 if you pre-order it (yes, all five books).

Demons are preying on schoolchildren in her city, so Francesca Barnes does what any red-blooded librarian would do-she does some research and goes hunting. But the books she finds in a secret cache don't tell her the whole story. Chess has no idea what she's just stepped into or just how special she is. Orion is Drakul, part demon, and a loyal servant of the Order. He doesn't expect a motorcycle-riding librarian to be messing around with demonic forces, and he doesn't expect her to smell so damn good. But Ryan's got bigger problems. His partner has disappeared, and the forces of Darkness are rising. Now Chess is Ryan's only hope of finding his partner, and Ryan is Chess's only hope of survival because the demons now know Chess exists and that she is the heir to a long-lost power that could push back their dark tide. If Ryan can keep her alive long enough, she just might be the key to destroying the demons completely. But Ryan doesn't know he's been betrayed by the very Order he serves. And if Chess does, by some miracle survive, he won't ever be able to touch her again. . .

(synopsis via Goodreads)

So! Librarians, secret books, demon hunters, mysterious order protecting us poor little humans, a little romance, everything about this story sounds awesome, right? Well, not quite. It’s good but never quite makes the leap into amazing. Chess is a likeable protagonist, she’s smart (a librarian!), she’s feisty (but not that absurd-feisty that too many UF lady-protagonists tends towards), she’s pretty brave, she’s independent. Although sometimes she’s a little too independent for someone who’s only killed one demon and who now has a certified demon-hunter at her beck and call.

Ryan sounds super foxy and he’s definitely a good guy to have in your corner, what with the super strength and healing abilities, but I am not a fan of the mate-instinct that we got to deal with when Ryan’s POV was at the forefront.  I got a little tired of the but she’s so pretty and she smells so nice! This must be Twue Wuv! Also, things could be a little scary from his perspective because he was fighting his instincts (read: major boner) all the time.  And he goes from “You give me a boner” to “I love you forever” really damn quickly.

On the other hand, the romance was almost totally undeveloped on Chess’ side, because she spent most of the book going “Fuck, demons! This is scary, run, no, fight, wait, I have a knife!” and passing out and only very occasionally “That Ryan guy is a little scary, but he’s kinda good looking”.  

There isn’t much in the way of world-building since it’s basically just real world + demons but there’s enough to make it convincing. It’s a bit of a shame because Lilith Saintcrow is a master world-builder (seriously, the world-building aspect of her Dante Valentine series is mind-blowing).  

Final Reckoning

Read this? Sure, why not. It’s entertaining and over quickly.  I realize that isn’t quite a ringing endorsement but I would have liked it better if there were a couple of follow-ups (or even just one) because the epilogue was kind of ridiculous. It reads like a first entry in a series, right up until the epilogue, where things get wrapped way too neatly, but it’s a stand-alone.  It’s kind of hard to categorize too, since it’s PNR from Ryan’s POV and UF from Chess’ POV.  It was at least worth the 7 bucks I paid.

The Demon’s Librarian by Lilith Saintcrow
Series: n/a
P.O.V: Third person, past;  alternating perspective
Language: Mostly clean with a few dingers
Sexxxoring: Zero action, lots of (mental) talk

Friday, September 28, 2012

Coming Undone by Lauren Dane

I would apologize for the long interval between this post and my last, but I’m not really all that sorry, I’ve had an eventful 7 months. But none of the two people who read this blog care to hear my personal woes (if you do, I LOVE TO SHARE [that is a lie but I do love to complain!]).
 “After his parents' death, Brody gave up a promising career to care for his family. Now, with his siblings grown, Brody owns his own business, and for the first time in years he's alone. Elise has come to Seattle with her daughter to find peace. After years as a world-famous ballerina-and trapped in a marriage gone bad-she's looking for neither love nor attention. But she finds both in the handsome, honest man who befriends her with no strings attached.
Brody and Elise discover in each other the wild, physical passion they need. But it'll take a shadow from Elise's past to make them look beyond what they need-to what they truly desire.
                  (via Goodreads)
The story is fine, it’s about more than just Brody and Elise fucking each other’s brains out. They’ve both been burned romantically, but they aren’t exclaiming “I will never love again” and there’s a sub-plot for some narrative tension. They don’t quite fall victim to insta-love but their relationship develops over a reasonable period of time. As a whole, the story is pretty  believable (except maybe for the legal what-have-you, but I’m not a lawyer, what do I know).

The major problem I had with this book is that these people talk a lot. Like, A LOT. No one can answer a question without explaining the shit out of it. It makes the flow of conversation really disjointed because when someone asks a question, the person answering answers the next 3 or 4 questions that might follow up. F’rex: 
“Where’s your little girl?” Brody asked
“She’s, um, out in the backyard. She’s doing this soccer day camp thing this summer and loving it. We set up a net so she’s kicking goals over and over. Which, well, let’s be honest, is awesome for me because it runs her down and there’s no three-hour battle to get her to sleep. She’s pretty high-energy.” She paused and laughed. “That’s a nice way of saying she’s hyper.”
That is WEIRD, you guys. “In the backyard, playing soccer” would have been a perfectly acceptable response.  And the sex talk is kind of out of control. I’m all for dirty-talk but by the middle of the book I was skimming the sex scenes because it all sounded more porn-sexy than actual-sex-sexy.

“Yeah. So fuck me. Come inside me before I die right here stuffed with you.”
Oh. Well. He liked dirty talk too. Especially from her lips. Good god. “Pick up the pace then. Ride me hard so your tits jiggle.”*
Um, whut? Is there a camera in there? Personal preference, yadda yadda, but it’s all like that and I am not a fan.

So anyway, I guess it’s decent, I think it’s just that Lauren Dane’s writing style is very obvious. Despite what should be a least a little emotionally investing, I never felt connected to the characters. Everything seemed to happen just on the surface. On a positive note, all the people in this book sound foxy as hell. So that's something. Also, if you've read the previous entry in this series, you'll (probably?) be glad to see Erin, Todd, and Ben (nontraditional relationships, ftw!). 

This is the 3rd book of Lauren Dane’s that I’ve read and they’re all very similar in style. If you don’t mind a lack of depth and you like really porn-y sex, by all means read this. Otherwise, go read some Megan Hart. (I feel a little bad about recommending one over the other because they seem to be friends IRL, but there you go.)

*this quote is from the end of the book, mostly because I didn't want to go searching for something that occurred earlier

Series: The Brown Siblings, book 2
Previous book in series: Laid Bare
Next book in series: Inside Out
P.O.V.: Third person
Language: Pretty darn dirty
Sexxxoring: A LOT

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

WHAT. Stop it.

Jae just told me she was also about to post something. IT IS CHRISTMAS FOR YOU, YOU GUYS.


Hey! We’re alive! Did you know? Because I wasn’t 100% sure myself.

No, we’re totally alive, and Jae is still totally reading 900 books a day on topics ranging from dragons to vaginas to dragon vaginas* and I'm still taking six months to get through fucking Westeros. God, fuck Westeros so much.

I've been "away" forever because reasons. I did really want to do a total revamp and get an honest-to-god dot com and everything, and I tried! I really tried! But I had so many problems with importing the blog and like, webby, texty, codey stuff, that I basically just shut down, wept, and did not even want to look at anything. I used to be good at that sort of thing! In 2002. Yeah. Web design? Has changed. In ten years. Whoda thunk.

I guess my existential crisis is over (ha, ha, ha) because I do want to do something with this blog again. I just ordered a box of 35 (!) Sweet Valley High books (!!!!) and that shit is going to need to go somewhere. I don't know in what format or how, but I'm predicting ridiculously high levels of awesome.

Oh, while I was away, I did in fact read all of the Meredith Gentry series by our titular buddy LKH and here are my reviews:

Book 1: Fairies, torture, fucking
Book 2: Torture, fucking, fairies
Book 3: Fucking, fucking, fairies, title character completes metamorphosis to Mary Sue
Book 4: Fucking, torture, incest, rape, wait wtf?
Book 5: Unbearable. Just unbearable.
Book 6: what is this i can't even
Book 7: If you say the words "and thicker things" one more fucking time, I WILL CHOKE ON MY OWN VOMIT

There, I did something.

Back soon! Possibly with Jessica and Elizabeth. Oh stop. I know you're excited.

* if there is actually a book about dragon vaginas, someone needs to let me know ASAP

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

So! It's been a while since I've posted. Sorry about that. I've been too busy reading to write anything. Plus, January was a weird month, reading-wise. Everything seemed to be either super awesome or buh-oring with very little in between. I managed to finish every book I started (with one exception) but a few books took me weeks to finish because I just couldn't concentrate on them.

When She Woke is based on The Scarlet Letter. It's set in a Big Brother-ish* future, one that seems more than possible (way more possible than I am comfortable with), where democracy and theocracy in the US have twined together, setting the tenets of one religion over all others (which religion? You get three guesses and two of them don't count). In this future, abortion is now out-and-out illegal (not just more and more difficult to access) and instead of housing convicts in expensive prisons,  a process called melachroming changes a person's skin color based on their crime and then the person is set free (sort-of, it's more complicated than that, but words, there are too many). The narrator, Hannah Payne, after having been tried and convicted of "fetal murder", is sentenced to 10 years as a Red. The father of her almost-baby is a high muckity-muck in her church and Hannah has refused to name him, a decision that added years to her sentence.

Hannah was raised in an evangelical Christian household and the challenges to her faith comprised a great deal of the story. Her recollections of her life show that things happen to her as opposed to her making her own choices. Even though  she was a naturally inquisitive child and asked a lot of questions that were difficult to answer without an "Because god said so", she managed to convince herself that her affair with the married minister happened because...Jesus. Seems weird, but I can understand that it's easy to justify doing what you want if the decision never in your hands. It was mostly satisfying to see her become more self-sufficient and aware of her own motivations and beliefs but the story takes place over a pretty short period of time and she doesn't quite get where I want her to be.

The story is about more than Hannah though, it's a commentary about prejudice. Chromes are subject to wide-spread hatred; violence against a Chrome is nearly always ignored, both by regular citizens and by law enforcement. The women especially are prone to sexual violence. It's difficult to get a job, find housing, even use a public restroom if your skin is Red, Green, Yellow, or Blue. And while it would have been easy for the author to make racial prejudice disappear, there is an effort to confront that. There is also an effort to address Queer issues, but I don't think it was handled well. It felt more like "Inclusivity, we got it!" than anything else.

*Convicts are subject to a 30-day prison stay, during which all of their activities are nationally broadcast. I'll admit I don't quite understand how this voyeurism fits into the story, unless it's to drive home that Chromes aren't really considered people and have no real rights. 

Final Reckoning

Should you read this? Yes, overall, I think this was a pretty good book. Until the last quarter or so, where it takes a bizarre turn that detracted from the strength of the story. I would like to recommend it unreservedly but the ending made me glad I got it from the library.

Buy It . Borrow It . Skip It

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
Series: n/a
P.O.V.: First person, past; single narrator
Language: Fairly clean

It's more Speculative Fiction than Fantasy, but I don't feel like starting a new tag

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I read this, and other things.

So! I’ve read some books in the past, what … 6 months. Eight months? My laziness actually extends to the point that I don’t even want to check. But I have read books, and I will talk about them in a minute, swearsies.

I am planning on overhauling this extension of a bloated ego … I mean, blog … in the somewhat near future. I realized at some point during my extended sabbatical from book reviews that I was on an extended sabbatical from book reviews because I suck at writing them. When I suck at writing something, I tend to not do it (obv!). And while I still love the concept of tearing apart Laurell K Hamilton in a public forum (MORE PEOPLE SHOULD DO THIS), it has been a long enough time since I read those horrific books that the idea of going back to them and destroying them in minute detail feels more daunting than enjoyable. Like, who am I punishing here? Ah yes. Myself. The whole situation is completely sideways.  I have already suffered by reading them. The pleasure I would get from shitting all over them would not outweigh the torture of having to go through them a second time. You see what I’m saying.

Jae, however, is really good at book reviews! So she will totally still do that as much as she wants to. The concept for the new blog is more esoteric than book reviews. It’s more just another Shit We Dig kind of premise, which is not original, and I don’t care. My schedule is relentless through the end of March, so I don’t think I’ll make any real progress on the revamp until after graduation (WHAT.) But I’m looking forward to messing with it and you know, just an FYI, the winds of change are blowing, et cetera.

Those books I read! These are absolutely in no discernible order. Check it:

ReadyPlayer One (Ernest Cline) – I could have sworn Jae already reviewed this, but I guess not? She definitely told me to read it. And I did, after, whatever, 19 weeks of thinking about it. YOU GUYS. I’m a doucebag. This book is fucking amazing. Why haven’t you read it yet? Do I need to harangue you for 19 weeks? I will absolutely do that. It’s about this dude who lives in the future, and shit is bleak. There’s a total immersion virtual utopia called OASIS (shades of the metaverse, which I kept thinking, until the metaverse was actually referenced in the book and I’m like WELL PLAYED, SIR) where said dude spends 90% of his time, because real life sucks and the planet is dying and he lives in a van (kind of) not even down by a river.  A Steve Jobs-type dude [the one who invented the OASIS] kicks it and leaves his entire fortune up for grabs to whomever can solve an elaborate easter egg hunt inside the OASIS. There are like forty million 80s pop culture references, which you will enjoy the fuck out of if you have even a tiny shred of nostalgia/love for the 80s. Honestly, read this book. It is one of the best ones I’ve picked up in years.

TheNight Circus (Erin Morgenstern) – For once, there is actually a good reason for a book to be on the best seller lists. Jae already reviewed this. I agree with all of it. It’s been a long time since a book actively made me wish its reality was my own. I want to be a reveur so bad. And dude! This book made me so hungry. The descriptions of food were absolutely RIDIC. I think I’m going to dedicate a day to actually trying to make some of the things described in this book. Chocolate mice! Black & white popcorn! Oh god.

11/22/63:A Novel (Steven King) – I picked this up with some serious misgivings. I hated Under The Dome [which I heard is getting a mini-series, and ugh SHUT UP] and I felt like this was going to be another 4000 pages of unnecessary brutality and 15 page character portraits for people I don’t give a shit about. However! I was pleasantly surprised. A dude discovers a time portal in the pantry of a diner (LIKE YOU DO) and every time he walks through it, it is 11 o’clock in the morning on September 2, 1958. Every time he walks through, time resets. The cook who owns the diner has bought and served the same 10lbs of meat like 500 times. Right, I know, WTF. Anyway, the premise of the story is that the dude (Jake) is going to go through the portal and live in the past, working his way up to stopping the execution of JFK in 1963. There are the requisite million nuances of time travel, and the butterfly effect, and all sorts of wacky/weird shit you get with this classic scifi trope. The book is really, really well written. The characters are, you know, fine – standard Stephen King “Good People” and “Bad People.” The pacing is spot on. It’s a pretty hefty book but I breezed through it in like a week. Definitely check this one out – it’s probably his best one in at least the past 10 years.

DarkEarth (Jason Halstead) – This is still free for Kindle, so if you want to pick it up, you should get cracking. This one was? Weird? Kinda? I didn’t really know what it was about when I started reading it, and it starts off as a sort of Lifetime movie-ish yarn about a single dad and his teenage daughter living an uncomplicated life in the Great Lakes area woods. At some point it turns into a fantasy novel with witches and werewolves and dragons and parallel universes. I mean, all of those things are fine, but the way they were introduced was bizarre. The dad basically walks around the whole book going “This is CRAZY” and you’d think after you’d slain your 8th ogre, maybe you’d lose the skepticism. It ends really abruptly, but I think there are more books in the series. I did buy the second one, but never got to reading it. It’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, and it’s free, so why not, give it a go.

TheWorld On Blood (Jonathon Nasaw)[reread] – I’ve been compelled to reread this book twice a year since it came out and a friend gave me a copy in the 6th floor girls bathroom of Brooklyn Technical High School in 1997. This book manages to be completely amazing while somehow not having one shred of literary significance. It’s total trash. It’s absolutely a product of the early 90s. It’s about vampires who are not like Dracula vampires, just dudes & dudettes whose bodies process human blood like a drug (think equal parts booze, ecstasy, and PCP). There are blood orgies like every fourth page. Yes. Amazing.

I also read: The Big Book Of Death [graphic novel], the Big Book Of The Weird, Wild West [graphic novel], the first three books in the Dexter series [skip these, seriously, the show is way better], and probably like five more things that I can’t remember.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Pirate's Love by Johanna Lindsey

Dear baby Jesus and all the little angels,

Thanks for letting me have been born in 198-you-know-when. I am very grateful that I was not alive pre-20th century. Because even though things aren’t even close to perfect as regards rape/sexual assault, gender politics/performance, sexism, etc., they are slowly getting better (I am ever the optimist [this is a lie{sorry baby Jesus}]) When you consider that spousal rape wasn’t even considered to be rape before the 19th century and wives were considered chattel and couldn’t own property in their own name and didn’t even have rights to their own children, shit doesn’t suck nearly as much now as it did in, let’s say, 1667 (where this book/mega-shit-storm-of-epic-proportions takes place). Homigod (sorry again), I don’t really know where to begin.

I know you give everyone in the whole world their ideas, so I figure you need a refresher. Here’s the plot summary (it’s not really a plot so much as a stinking sack of shit):

Bettina Verlaine is being sold into marriage (its 1667, that’s what they did) by her father. Her dad is some snotty French dude with a major attitude problem, but Bettina has been striving her whole life to make him love her (SPOILER ALERT: he’s not really her dad). Anyway, because it’s 1667 and women didn’t really have many choices, especially if you were 1. Rich 2. Super beautiful  (flowing silver-blonde hair, slim hips, breasts like ripe apples but no purple eyes [her eyes are blue or green depending on her emotional state, like a mood ring but with blood vessels]) 3. No, really, SUPER BEAUTIFUL. Bettina’s intended husband lives in the Caribbean so she has to sail from France to go meet him. She leaves her beloved Mama (who had an affair, because unhappy marriage, blah blah, hence her dad/not-her-dad) but takes her beloved nurse with her as a companion. Natch, because of the pretty, all the dudes on the ship want to bone her, one gets whipped for trying, Le Capitaine on another ship sees her from afar, goes MINE!, kidnaps her and lies to her about killing people to get her not to fight him while he rapes her. So! Of course she hates him, right, but he makes her feel all tingly in the nether-bits.  She tries to escape (she’s on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean, not a high probability of success) and cracks him one in the head with an I-forget-what. Some other dude thinks Le Capitaine is dead and decides that Bettina should be whipped until she is dead. But lo! Le Capitaine is not dead, only mildly concussed and uses the threat of whipping to keep Bettina compliant whilst he rapes her (repeatedly). Long story short: rape, rape, rape, reluctant desire, rape, rape, escape, revenge, reunion, Stockholm Syndrome, pregnancy, reluctant love, sword fight, revenge, reunion, marriage, baby, The End. (Whew! That was one alliterative sentence [not actually a sentence]).

Honestly, I’m not certain how I managed to finish this book. I’ve read other books that were not nearly as offensive to me and threw them away without a qualm. Maybe I was hoping that somehow it would not end the way I knew it was going to end (like with a timely miracle perhaps, you’re good at those). But no, it ended exactly the way I was afraid it was going to. And you know, even with all the rape, the worst part was all of the women who weren’t being raped kept telling Bettina that at least Tristan (Le Capitaine) wasn’t, like, really hurting her. He was just using her body. I just about lost my shit every time this was said.

I do have a sort-of sentimental fondness for Old Skool romance novels and will forgive them a lot that I wouldn't forgive in a modern novel, but this book crossed every line I have. And if the truly bad story wasn’t enough, it wasn’t even written well. Poor sentence structure, choppy dialogue, unclear timeline, cardboard characterization, I mean EVERYTHING that could suck, sucked.  

But anyway baby Jesus, I was half-afraid I would be struck blind by the sheer, overwhelming awfulness of this book. So thanks for saving me from that at least. But please find all the Johanna Lindsey books in the whole world and SET THEM ON FIRE (don't really do that, book burning is bad).

You're the best.


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A Pirate's Love by Johanna Lindsey