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.


Buy It . Borrow It . Skip It

A Pirate's Love by Johanna Lindsey