jadedmusings: (ATLA - Aang Water Octopus)
Three episodes in and Brian and Mike are pulling zero punches. I had heard them say Korra was going to be gritty and edgy, but I had no idea how far they were going to push. And I love, love, love that they are showing consequences from the actions of the previous Avatar (Aang, obviously) and his compatriots. Yes, it's children's television; however, there are so many levels here and so many lessons, relevant lessons to our own time. (I mean, it's entirely possible the creators aren't trying to draw parallels between the 99%/Occupy movement and are really just drawing on real-life historical events, but it's so hard not to see the similarities.)

Here there be spoilers. )
jadedmusings: (ATLA - Toph Rocks Fall)
When last I wrote about the Anita Blake series, I was in the middle of Narcissus in Chains and my only complaint was the use of soap as a vaginal lubricant. Since then I've read Cerulean Sins and Incubus Dreams (which I just finished today), and I have so many things to say now.

Narcissus in Chains, despite the implications of the title, was not heavy on sex. There was more sex than there had been in previous Anita Blake books, but it was still about par for the course. Many fans seem to think this is the book when the series fell apart, but I disagree. In my opinion, Cerulean Sins was where the series went off the rails, and in Incubus Dreams the series goes off the rails, over a steep cliff, crashes into the jagged rocks on the bottom, and then somehow manages to continue limping along while never losing its massive erection (because we all know the only good penis is a massive one).

Cerulean Sins saw more sex than any other book, but my problem with Sins was that the plot was all over the place. It felt disjointed, confusing in parts, and here's where I saw Anita from mild Mary Sue to full blown My Immortal levels of special snowflake. Still, I foolishly believed that if this was where fans became disappointed, it couldn't be that bad. There are still nine books published after Sins, so really, how bad could it be? I really ought to know better than to ask stupid questions.

Incubus Dreams is bad, 722 pages (in this edition) of bad. There's no other way to put it. The editing is horrible, many of the sex scenes (and there are many of them) are incredibly unsexy, the plot is barely there like Nathaniel's thong, and to top it all off there's one part that's a heaping pile of rape apologist bullshit. I wish I were kidding.

Lack of editing. )

Too much (boring) sex. )

Richard is a giant douchebag rapist, and Anita blames the victim. )

And in spite of this, I'm enough of a masochist to finisht this series because, damnit, I'm in it for the long haul. I will, however, have a palate cleanser between this book and the next. Maybe two or three because, damn, this was torture.
jadedmusings: (NCIS - Jimmy Geekalicious)
So, I'm reading Darkness Unbound by Keri Arthur. It's the first book in a new series that's a follow-up to her Riley Jensen, Guardian series (which I've mentioned quite a bit before). It's paranomral romance with werewolves, vampires, shifters (different from weres), and even ancient beings mistaken often for angels that are anything but angels.

Some things in it are disappointing. For example, despite being half-werewolf, Risa can't transform into a wolf. Of course there's a very good reason for this (namely that her other half isn't human and comes with its own set of uber benefits). I guess my mind is still in werewolf mode after several books focused on Riley who was half-werewolf and half-vampire (a dhampir). However, when I say it's disapppinting, I mean disappointing in the sense that I was expecting chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and instead I got chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I'm going to be a little put out, but I'm still going to eat that cake because it's damn tasty. (Great, I've gone and made myself hungry.)

Anyway, the book is great and I'm speeding along, grateful that book two is already due out this month or next. Arthur's writing has improved like most writers improve over time, not that she was ever bad to begin with. She still has the issue with seeming to pick a single favorite adjective and using it repeatedly. (In one of Riley's books it was kaledeiscope; in this one it's economical, usually when referring to how the male characters Risa finds interesting move.) That's probably just a personal quirk of mine that I pick up on these things.

There's some things that are mildly irritating. Riley had a gay twin-brother, Risa has a lesbian roommate (a horse shifter). Naturally, Risa is all about men like Riley was. I mean, part of me feels like Rhoan's and now Ilianna's sexuality are token, though Ilianna at least has to struggle with her family possibly not accepting her as she is. Granted, the portrayal I've seen is overall positive despite a couple of cringe-worthy incidents in the earlier Riley books with regard to non-heterosexual women, and there hasn't been any nonsense along the lines of anyone exhibiting homophobic behavior and having it be excused because, hey they have gay friends, ones they share a living space with, even! But the sexuality is never really explored and just seems to be there. "Look at me be inclusive," while not being all that inclusive. This isn't a complaint so much as an observation, and I admit my take on it might differ from others. I also realize the possible vast majority of Arthur's audience are straight women who wouldn't care for books that focus on non-heterosexual relationships. Whereas I would personally love to see more lesbian/bisexual women who have fulfilling relationships as main characters rather than supporting characters.

But again, so far I'm happy with what I'm reading. I had issues with Quinn as a hero (and still think Riley forgave him way too easily for things he did), and I'm hoping the heroes we're seeing in this series will avoid being assholes, or at least avoid being assholes who violate boundaries that should never be violated (Oh yes, Quinn, I'm still looking at you, sir. That sexy Irish lilt of yours will do you no good here, sir.).

Anyway, I'm just rambling at this point. Gonna go lie down and read some more while snuggling Sam before he has to go to work.
jadedmusings: (Ming Ming Sewious)
So I checked out the author's website for his novel. I know it's a man not because there's a picture of him on the website or because his name is Michael. No, the "story overview" page told me he was male, and I'm not referring to the three(!) animated ads for "Desktop Strippers" either. Dude, I know your novel is self-published, but even self-published authors ought to have at least a thin veneer of professionalism, particularly if you're trying to entice women like me into reading your not-a-vampire-novel vampire novel. (No, that's how it's described, only I make it funny.)

Anyway, the Story Overview page includes pictures from Google image searches of half-naked women among a couple of gruesome images of a mutilated head and a corpse in an advanced state of decomposition. And then there's the overview itself. Reading between the lines I get, "I've never had a meaningful relationship with a woman because I can't think of them as anything other than a place to put my dick."

Weak snarking under here. )

I'm not sure whether I should laugh or weep over the fact that this novel is 130,000+ words.

I'm done. Just done. Go check it out if you like. (And if you read the reviews page, note how many people are from the same town and how all of them are from the Southeast. Family and friends praising your work? Nah, I totally believe this guy is that brilliant of a writer. Yeeeeeah.)

Comeuppance

Sep. 6th, 2011 08:33 am
jadedmusings: (Supernatural - Sam doubts that)
After the uproar DAJanuary's review of the self-published Spoil of War caused, guest reviewer Dhympna, a medieval historian, was invited by Sunita to read the book and grade it. The result was the book being ripped to shreds on its so-called historical accuracy, and that's without getting into the rape. Of course I expect Phoenix Sullivan's fans and sockpuppets to come out in droves again to defend this "masterpiece" and tell the reviewers they simply don't know what they're talking about.

One thing that annoyed me is that Sullivan was apparently comparing her work to Mists of Avalon, which is asinine to a severe degree.
jadedmusings: (Ming Ming Sewious)
There is some sick, twisted, and masochistic part of me that wants to read Loving Scarlett based soley on this "F" review from Dear Author. I love books with paranormal things, and we all know by now I have a thing for werewolves, wolf shifters, etc. How can you lose with bull shifters?

I know it'll be horrible, and all the "pussy creaming" and "pussy clenching" will pain me greatly, but it's that whole train wreck thing. Too bad they're charging so much money for what is, pardon the pun, a steaming pile of bullshit. I could lie and say it's me wanting to learn more about what not to do as a writer, particularly as a writer of stories with paranormal and/or fantasy creatures with animalistic features and/or traits. But really, I just want to see how bad it really is.

(And honestly, reading that review plus the excerpts provided has me believing, as I said in the comments, that this was written by a man.)
jadedmusings: (Sherlock - Animated title)
So Sam and I decided to check out BBC's Sherlock since all three ninety-minute episodes are on Netflix Instant. Oh. My. God. The series is phenomenal and I can't recommend it enough.

The series takes Sherlock Holmes and John Watson and puts them in the modern day. Watson is an Afghanistan veteran, military doctor, and, rather than write down his adventures with Holmes in books, he blogs. Holmes is a forensic scientist in his spare time, and when we first meet him, he's beating a cadaver with a riding crop. And it only gets better from there. (By the way, I really enjoy the way the director shows texts on the screen instead of panning to the phones so we can watch the characters' reactions.)

Anyway, last night Sam and I finally watched the last episode (another three epiodes will be coming out this fall in the UK). He made the point that Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) sounds, at times, like Alan Rickman. He was right, and anyone who knows me knows I've had a crush on Alan Rickman since I was fifteen years old and watch Sense and Sensibility (1995), which is still my favorite movie after all these years oddly enough. Well, I already had a thing for Cumberbatch as Sherlock so Sam wasn't really helping matters in that regard. Then there came the opening to episode three and I... Look, just watch this clip, okay? (Also, my apologies for the term "grammar nazi" as it appears in the title. I couldn't find another clip with an alternate title.)



After this scene, my inner English nerd partied with my I-Have-a-Thing-for-British-Actors nerd and I was all but putty on the couch. Series two can't get here fast enough.

Now if you'll pardon me, I have icons to hunt for.
jadedmusings: (Default)
So. Tiassa.

I pre-ordered my copy even though it was hardcover, but that's because Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos novels are immediate buys for me and, despite my mild disappointment with this installment, they still are.

Short review: Needs more Vlad. Seriously, he makes up only about one-third of the content of the book, which the cover tells me is "A new novel of Vlad Taltos." That, I discovered, isn't quite a lie, but it's not the truth either.

Longer review: The first 117 pages are, minus a couple of pages here and there, told from Vlad's point-of-view and directly involve Vlad. Minus the epilogue, this is the most we see and hear from Vlad, unless you count a couple of pages in the last section.

No spoilers, I think, but proceed with caution. )

Overall, it wasn't a bad book. The writing (except for the first part) was great, and in the last section Brust's gift of dialogue shone brightly, and I suppose at the end of Tiassa I'm even more eager to finally get around to reading about Khaavren and his adventures.

But I just can't stop being disappointed that there wasn't more Vlad. Oh well, at least this wasn't the last Vlad Taltos book.
jadedmusings: (ATLA - Chibi :D)
As I said on Twitter, tonight I finally got a Netflix account. (Why yes, I do live under a rock, why do you ask?) With it I get a wide variety of movies, documentaries, and television shows that I can download instantly on my computer or Wii.

Sam and I, being the sophisticated movie connoisseurs we are, chose only the highest quality of movie for our first viewing: Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus, a movie seen on such prestigous cable channels as SyFy.

You guys, oh my god. Oh my god, you guys. Words cannot express how beautiful and amazing this masterpiece is. With a cast full of big names as Deborah Gibson, Lorenzo Lamas, and Some Other People You've Never Heard Of (Because We Blew Our Budget on Gibson and Lamas), you know you're in for a treat.

The story (not that you really care): Millions of years ago, at the start of the Ice Age, the Mega Shark and Giant Octopus were having an epic throw downs to end all throw downs. So caught up in their desire to kill one another, the duo didn't realize they were being slowly frozen in ice. Fast-forward to the present day and some quasi-military person doing experiments around some giant iceberg that makes it fall apart/explode. Naturally this happens to be the same iceberg in which our dueling sea creatures are sealed.

After the two are freed from their iceberg prison, the octopus does what any respectable monster with tentacles would do. He attacks an oil rig. In Japanese waters. Much to my disappointment, there were no oil riggers in school uniforms. The shark possesses a more sophisticated palate and opts to reach higher for his food.



Yes, that is the scene as it appears in the movie, less than half an hour in even. The gif does not do it justice for it is much too awesome to be confined by these few pixels. In fact, anything less than a movie screen would be unable to show the awesomeness to its full effect. Alas, I myself had to settle for my television screen.

Mega Shark then decides that while Generic Airline's stewardesses are tasty, what he really needs is a US Naval Destroyer Battleship. (The movie says Destroyer, Sam, who was actually in the Navy, tells me the footage showed a Battleship.) To be fair to the shark, the Navy shot at him first.

As far as plot goes, well, there is one, it's just not important I just didn't pay much attention to it. I mean, really, did you see that gif? Who needs a plot? There's a romance plot, and it's only after Gibson's character and the Japanese scientist hookup in a love scene that made them look like awkward teenagers rather than adult professionals that they figure out how to lure each monster into a trap: Pheremones! Of course it fails and Mega Shark takes out the Golden Gate Bridge. This leads to one stellar exchange:

"How do you know they'll take the bait?"
"They've been frozen in ice for millions of years. Wouldn't you be horny?"

This movie. Is. Astounding.

Honestly, the human characters aren't that important. Lamas's character is there just be an asshole who fucks things up for everybody else, though to give him credit he serves as the catalyst for bringing all the scientists together. Emma MacNeil's (Gibson) mentor is supposed to be Irish, though his accent is all over the place. I only really know he's Irish because he's a recovering alcoholic, talks about "The luck o' the Irish," and is Catholic. Yeah. And as far as the Japanese scientist/romantic interest goes, well, he's really only there to fuel the romance angle...and to come in with his submarine to save the other guys from the shark's clutches in the end.

The acting is, as you imagine, is stellar. Most of Gibson's acting involves close up of her face as she either smiles, rolls her eyes, or makes a face. Lamas isn't acting so much as reading his grocery list, and everyone else might have been related to the director in some form or another because they weren't picked for their talent.

The ending: Shark and Octopus finish what they started eons ago and kill one another. The good guys win, all the characters live, including the asshole (which is a shame because I was thinking he might at least get tentacle whipped or something), and Deborah Gibson goes on to star in Mega Python Vs Gatoroid on SyFy (you can't make this up).

Final Thoughts: A movie so apallingly bad as to be hilarious.

Also available on Netflix: A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell (You know I have to check this out at some point.)
jadedmusings: (Default)
[Trigger Warnings for Abusive Relationships/Statutory Rape]

I've been reading more about R. Malone, and I discovered she's posted excerpts of her novels on Author's Den. Naturally, I had to go and read them. (Yes, I'm a bit masochistic when it comes to bad writers.) It was worse than I expected.

Before I even read the two-chapter excerpt of Crimson Rose (the book that started this whole mess), I checked out Hushed Whispers. It's supposedly a romance and is the second in Malone's Southern Bloodlines saga. My stomach churned at the tagline.

Teenage hormones, and therapy with a hot psychologist doesn't always mix...

Those of you who have read this journal for any amount of time might know that I'm fairly well acquainted with mental health practices. I've got a parent who has a mental illness and I've been in therapy a couple of times myself. It's bad enough that I can recount stories of incompetent therapists and psychiatrists, but the idea that someone would find a psychologist having a relationship with a teenaged patient romantic is beyond sickening. I don't care how you try to spin it, there is no way that it's even remotely ethical let alone healthy. And yet, it gets "better" as you read the blurb.

Three years after enduring a ransom attempt, sixteen-year-old Tiana Dallas coasts through a recent string of bad behaviors. During an explosive confrontation of fury, her father finally forces her into therapy. Shortly thereafter, she discovers she has more in common with her therapist than previously thought... And the hauntingly beautiful Tiana finds herself deeply infatuated with her young psychologist. However, she is already bound to his son. Regardless, Tiana attempts to use her irresistible bait to persuade his father into a romantic relationship. Ultimately, she soon discovers the error in her failure to heed the following proverbial warning: be careful what you wish for.

Not only is Tiana a mere sixteen years old, she has suffered a traumatic experience. It's not said what sort of abuses she may or may not have suffered, but it's sufficient enough that we know something awful happened to her. Sometimes, yes, a patient will form an inappropriate emotional attachment to a therapist/doctor - it's called transference and an ethical therapist will work with the patient to dissect these feelings to sort through them and recognize them for what they are. They never, ever act on them or allow the patient to act on them. It's not romantic, and such a realtionship is ripe for abuse and can easily destroy the patient's psyche further, which is kind of the opposite of what therapy should do.

In the excerpt it's revealed that while Tiana probably had these feelings first, it's Dr. Kingsley who acted on them.

"Oh; about that," Dr. Kingsley began somewhat awkwardly, "look, I barely remember that. I hate to admit it, but I was certainly more than a little... Inebriated that evening; I--I don't rightly know exactly what I was thinking. But, yes; I do vaguely remember giving you a peck on the cheek or whatever."

"You mean you kissed me on the temple and on the tip of my nose; and you asked me if your son 'made me feel' the way that you did," Tiana corrected as she watched the psychologist squirm uncomfortably in his chair.

Squicked out yet? What's stunning to me is that even in the short excerpt provided, Dr. Kingsley is quite emotionally manipulative. I realize some of this may be my own projection, but the following bit really, really sickened me on a level I can't explain.

"I just can't do this, Tiana. I know you have a crush on me, but I'm nearly thirty-one years old while you're just a sixteen-year-old kid; we have nothing whatsoever in common and a potential relationship with you would not only be wrong, it would be against the law. I'm not about to lose my practice over this," Dr. Kingsley explained with a newly gentler tone, in reaction to her sadness.

"Please, Dr. Kingsley; don't transfer me! I promise I'll stop flirting with you! Just please, please don't refer me to another doctor!" Tiana pleaded, as bitter tears began to accrue in her eyes.

"Tiana, Honey; please--it's only for the best; not only for myself, but for you also. Eventually you'll understand why I'm doing this," Dr. Kingsley softly, but firmly told her.

"I'll kill myself," Tiana blurted, as hot tears began to glide down her newly flushed cheeks.

"Then I'll be forced to commit you to a psychiatric hospital," Dr. Kingsley calmly replied. "Now, come on; you know you don't really want to commit suicide, you're only trying to manipulate me into changing my mind," Dr. Kingsley added through a cold, knowing grin.

So, Dr. Kingsley behaves inappropriately, but it's Tiana's crush that's the problem. And when Tiana makes a threat to kill herself, she's trying to manipulate him. He doesn't even address what this is doing to her, nor does he seem to even try to shoulder any of the blame for his actions.

I'm not even touching the adverb abuse and awkward writing. (I'll also leave alone the fact that Dr. Kingsley is only thirty and has a son Tiana's age.) The plot is its own kind of horror.

"We [Tiana and her boyfriend] already have patched things up," Tiana abruptly replied in a newly icier tone, although her tears remained in a steady stream down her face.

"Well, good. That--that's wonderful," Dr. Kingsley slightly faltered. "But, again; just remember that this is all for the best. I hope you continue to have a smooth recovery," he added with a slight smile.

"**** you, Dr. Kingsley," Tiana calmly and bitterly muttered in return to the doctor's sentiments. The doctor sat speechlessly in his chair after his patient's latest outburst, then he abruptly spoke once more in finality.

"Good-bye, Tiana; and good luck with your psychological endeavors," Dr. Kingsley arrogantly stated in return to Tiana's contemptuous remark.

(The censoring was done by the author, not by me.) I...I simply can't enumerate all the ways in which this is wrong, wrong, wrong. How on earth can this be a romance? I'm assuming Dr. Kingsley and Tiana go on to have a relationship, if you can call statutory rape a relationship.

Honestly, if I picked this book up in a bookstore, I would throw it down in disgust after perusing just a few sentences. If the plot didn't put me off enough, the writing certainly would have.

I'll leave this entry by itself. I'll probably post something about the Crimson Rose excerpt later because that's actually hilariously bad instead of stomach-churning sad.
jadedmusings: (Default)
For those of you who might find this funny, even a little bit, I thought I would share.

Yesterday, over on [livejournal.com profile] sf_drama I came across a post regarding an author's over-the-top reaction to a bad review of her novel. (There is a nearly identical post on fandom_wank if you're interested, but sf_d's post is now unlocked.) Really, read both posts and the edits to fully understand how batshit insane a butthurt writer of utter crap can be.

Anyway, during this, I strolled over to R. Malone's website and discovered that she had written a short story called "Werewolf's Redemption." Mrs. Malone warned that the story had "very erotic content" and the website hosting the download billed it as a "spicy paranormal romance." Given my preference for books of the paranormal variety and my love of werewolves and vampires, I thought I would check it out. Hey, it was free, after all, and I thought it might help me gauge this author's ability to write. For my troubles, I was "rewarded" with purple prose worthy of a post in [livejournal.com profile] weepingcock. Obviously, making said post is just what I did next. Click on the link if you wish to read about horrible and illogical story telling complete with a "crimson-hued cylinder of steel." No, I'm not making that line up.

What's truly lulzy is that Mrs. Malone brags about being a published author, but she is published through PublishAmerica, a well known vanity press. For those who don't know, PublishAmerica printed Atlanta Nights, a book that ultimately exposed the company as the piece of predatory shit it is. Even more hilarious is that after her apalling display of immature behavior at legitimate criticism, Mrs. Malone was removed as a Good Reads author and at least one professional editor has said R. Malone will never be printed by anything other than a vanity press.

Someone apparently linked Mrs. Malone to the sf_d entry, and the fandom_wank entry contains a link to my post on [livejournal.com profile] weepingcock. I am curious to see if Mrs. Malone has been subdued by her little tantrum or if she'll be upset with all the LiveJournal exposure. I admit, a part of me does giggle at the thought of her stumbling on the weepingcock entry. If I get any e-mails calling me a cunt or telling me I'm jealous because I'm an unpublished author, you'll be the first to know.
jadedmusings: (Default)
I've been re-reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods and I finished it today while out with Mom as I had to play chauffer to help her find a place in Columbia.

One of the things that struck me on this second read through was the very leisurely pace. Sure, it's not a book I found easy to put down, even knowing what was going to happen, but at the same time I wasn't white knuckling the edges while sitting on the edge of my seat. The story pulled me in bit by bit and then unhurriedly unfolded before me and before I knew it, I'd read all almost-six hundred pages.

Another thing I noticed is how, after finishing, I felt none of the usual let down of "Aw, it's over now." I was sated and happy like I would be after a filling meal in which I didn't overindulge. My mind is still processing and re-examining portions and uncovering things I missed the first time I read it, but it's not because I felt like anything was left out. This story is complete, whole, and near perfect.

At any rate, American Gods is still a wonderful read, and I will probably read it again at some point in the future. I've got Anansi Boys to read next, and then I'll probably take a break from Gaiman and see what else is waiting on my bookshelf. Then again, I might read Neverwhere as I've never gotten around to that (well, I read a couple of chapters, but then Dad got sick and...well, the book is still around unread).
jadedmusings: (Default)
I have a confession to make. It's been eating at me since I finished this one book by a popular author that most of my friends adore.

I don't like Terry Pratchett.

[Pause for gasps of horror and pearl clutching.]

I know, I know. I mean, I liked Good Omens well enough, which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman, but I've attempted to read two Discworld novels now, and...I just can't enjoy them. I couldn't get past the first two or three chapters of Small Gods, and while I finished Mort, I didn't like it.

Pratchett is a talented and excellent writer; I'll smack anyone who says otherwise. He's got a brilliant way of telling a story, and his characters are interesting on the surface. It's his style I don't like and can't get behind. I'm all for silliness and themes that poke at the ridiculousness that is humanity, but it was a struggle for me to stay interested in Pratchett's books. I'm not sure what it is, I mean the idea of Discworld makes me giggle, and I like the mythology and find the story behind it fascinating, but when it comes to actually putting all that into book form, for some reason it just doesn't work for me. Maybe it crosses the line from silly fun into too outlandish for me to find enjoyable?

I really can't explain why I didn't find it as entertaining as I should have. I can respect him as being good at what he does, but I won't be buying anymore of his books. I'll just have to life with not getting the Discworld jokes I see in some journals I read, or anytime a discussion of books comes up.

I think I just have weird tastes, and I am very picky about what I like to read.
jadedmusings: (Default)
I finally got around to reading and finishing Witchling by Yasmine Galenorn. I had high hopes when I picked up the book, but they were all crushed pretty quickly.

In which I admit my issues with 'Witchling' are mostly personal. )
jadedmusings: (Default)
I'm ranting because I need to get my mind off stuff, and tomorrow. I'm tired and likely dragging my butt to bed though I should be washing dishes.

As I said in another entry, I finished reading Orca by Stephen Brust last night, which is another story of Vlad Taltos. Overall, I loved it and Athyra, and I liked the stories being told, for the first time, from outside of Vlad's point-of-view. I also loved the big bombshell dropped at the end of Orca, and I loved the way it made so many things from previous books click in my head. I literally went, "Aha! So that explains how X, Y, and Z could happen!" However, there is one thing that - had there not just been the totally awesome plot bomb dropped in the previous chapter - would have had me throwing the book against the wall.

Dear Mr. Brust... [SPOILER warnings] )
jadedmusings: (Default)
I finished the second Sookie Stackhouse novel Living Dead in Dallas today. I'm...underwhelmed.

It was a 291 page book that should have probably ended about page 200. In chapter one there's a murder, and it's a Big Deal to Sookie, but then she's shipped off to Dallas to deal help find a missing vampire who was kidnapped by humans. By the time everything happens (and it's all resolved in a very "meh" fashion for my tastes), I was ready for the book to end, but no, there were several more pages to solve the murder that happened way back in chapter one - after so many chapters of it not even surfacing in Sookie's thoughts. Honestly? I think both plots could have been split into two books, or this book was made significantly longer with much more detail. I guess I felt cheated with the resolution of the missing vampire plot, and what was essentially Deus Ex Machina for the murder plot's resolution. I honestly felt like Harris got to a point in her writing, got stuck, and then rushed to get it over with. It's not a good feeling to come away with as a reader.

Another issue is that her characterizations were all over the place. Sookie remained true to her character, and Bill mostly seemed to be acting as expected. However, Eric and Stan? I found myself re-reading dialogue and paragraphs of their actions to be sure I had the right character in mind. I was really taken out of the book in those moments, especially Stan's reaction to learning about Godfrey from Sookie. And then Eric is supposed to be playing mind games (he's a manipulative borderline-evil bastard, and that's okay in my book), but on more than one occasion he started to appear more desperate than in control of himself. He's a vampire that might have been a Viking, which means he's really, really damn old. Sure, Sookie is going to be hard for him to manipulate, but he shouldn't come off as a horny teenager. (I might go back through the book and quote actual examples later. We'll see.)

Oh well, at least "Bubba" wasn't in this one, nor were any other dead celebrities.

I might read the third book if I ever get around to buying it, but if I'm left feeling like this again, I certainly won't be reading another one.

And before Sam has a proverbial farm, I have to start in on the next set of Vlad Taltos novels by Stephen Brust. I am promised there is significantly less angst from now on, and the books I complained about so much are considered the worst in the series. So, at least I wasn't alone in my dislike of them.
jadedmusings: (Default)
I finished Primal Heat by Susan Sizemore last night. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the ending was so damn predictable and the climax was underwhelming and downright annoying. Yeah, yeah, I know there's supposed to be the HEA format, but there was no tension, and none of the so-called conflict was believeably resolved by the end.

I did have two moments where I wanted to throw the book against the wall, and they're both a bit spoilery, so don't click the cut if you want to read.

I totally believed this might happen! Not. )

Overall the entire book was too formulaic. The resolutions felt like they occurred because they had to regardless of how the story was actually playing out. It wasn't even that neat since I'm wondering what why Matthias changed his mind about Phillipa, or why she was suddenly so eager to obey his wishes.

I believe there is good Paranormal Romance out there, so I'm not giving up on the genre altogether. I figure it's going to take a little digging to find an author I'll like. I should like to find a decent portrayal of vampires, something I should rant about later. For now, I'm going to go to a book I know will be excellent: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I need a break from the luke-warm neutered vampire smut. After that, I'll read Yasmine Galenorn.
jadedmusings: (Default)
So, I'm giving Paranormal Romance novels a serious go after reading Beyond Heaving Bosoms. I realize I've really been unfair to the romance genre, as are most people in general. I went with Paranormal Romance because, well, that's what tickles my fancy. I like vampires, I like werewolves, and I like stories about relationships with such creatures.

For my first read, I'm going with Susan Sizemore's Primal Heat, which has been ok so far plot-wise, but I'm left with a few little niggling questions.

Dear Ms. Sizemore,

A minor nit-pick here. Sex is not known as "the little death." Le petit mort is the orgasm, which I'm sure you can understand why that's called "the little death."

Furthermore, could you please establish for me somewhere that vampires in your world are different from other vampires I've encountered? Maybe I haven't gotten to that part yet because Phillipa is still in the dark about Matt and her sister's husband, but after over 100 pages, I'm thinking your vampires are simply another race of people rather than undead. Do I have that right? That's the only possible reason I can come up with for the fact that a vampire was able to impregnate a woman, and why there was the one sentence about a vampire being born, not made? I would really appreciate some clarification on this and can only hope when Phillipa learns the truth, my questions will be answered. (Seriously, I hope undead people aren't reproducing. Also, I'm pretty sure this book is the first in a series, with Primal Desires being next, so I don't think I'm missing anything in terms of established canon. I could be wrong because this isn't her first book.)

Oh, and please, please, please tell me Phillipa, the cop who has such great instinct, is not going to completely buy her sister's reasoning that all the Cage children were born with teeth. Come on! I know Jo is her sister, but she already suspects she's hiding something, and babies who are only a few days old do not often come with teeth!

Finally, I'm going to try to re-read the second sex scene in the book, and a couple of other scenes. Not because I found them hot, but because they were confusing, and I'm still not sure what in the heck was going on. I'm chalking it up to the fact that I was reading before falling asleep and may have been tired, but we'll see how they fare on the re-read.

Apart from this, I haven't had the desire to throw the book against the wall, and I'm still interested in finishing the book, so it's not horrible. Yet.

Sincerely,

Jade

After this, I'm going to read Witchling by Yasmine Galenorn, who is only categorized as Paranormal Romance, but (per her website) doesn't follow the HEA format. If I like this book, I'll probably stick with her series about the D'Artigo sisters (each book focuses on one of the three sisters, and, IIRC, they rotate). I want another series to love in this genre since Keri Arthur's next Riley Jensen novel won't be released until September (*wibble*).

Oh, and please, no one suggest Sherrilyn Kenyon. Sorry, but Dark Side of the Moon left too bad a taste in my mouth for me to ever give her another shot.
jadedmusings: (Ming Ming Sewious)
Allow me to preface this by saying that I am a fan of Supernatural. I have seen the first three seasons and I will purchase season four when it is available on DVD (believe me, I'd be watching the new episdoes as they aired if I could pick up the CW where I live). The writing isn't great, but some of the story elements plus good acting manage to make it look pretty (pun intended) and make it compelling. However, being a fan doesn't mean I can't find faults with it, nor does it mean I should turn a blind eye to the misogyny prevalent in the show.

I should probably do a whole series of posts on this, and I really wouldn't mind watching the episodes over again. I'm not sure I have the time for that at the moment, but I guess if I took it slow and life doesn't jump up and dump more "wonderful" surprises in my lap, I could do it. It'll depend on a lot, but I have been re-watching the first two seasons and I've noticed a few things I wanted to mention.

If there is a female character that appears, rest assured she will either wind up dead, turn out to be a demon or otherwise evil, need rescuing, will be hit on by Dean, or will serve no other purpose than to stand around and scream. Oh, and apart from the Very Special Episode in season one wherein we learn Racism Is Bad, Mmmkay, they are all thin and blond (ok, there are a few brunettes, but they're all thin and the majority are blond). You could say that Jo is an exception to this, and while Jo is something of a hunter, she always winds up needing to be saved by one of the Winchesters (Dean even saves her from Sam when Sam is possessed). Ellen I guess is the exception, but she's rarely seen outside of the bar even if she can handle a gun. Plus she's Jo's over protective mother, tough, and is meant to come across as scary to Dean and Sam. Oh, and she's the only mother in the show that doesn't wind up dead or nearly loses a child.

If there is a character of color he/she will either wind up dead or turn out to be evil and/or crazy. A prime example of this is Gordon. He starts out as an ambitious hunter, much like Dean, but quickly turns out to be too overzealous and downright psycopathic once he becomes a recurring antagonist. In the season two episode "Croatoan," the loan black man in town survives the demonic virus only to have his throat slit by a demon at the end. There is the psychic in season one (whose name escapes me) who is both good and she manages to live, but she's a plus-sized black woman and she's so sassy because all plus-sized WoC are sassy, didn't you know?

...yes, I think doing a review of seasons one through three would better serve my point.

Anyway, I bring this up because a show like Supernatural likely got sold and became popular because of another show in the same genre: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It is rather ironic that a show lauded by many as the first one to get a great deal right when it comes to portraying strong female characters (though NOT perfect, especially in the later seasons) allowed a show like Supernatural to enjoy its success. There is a decided lack of estrogen in Supernatural, and what estrogen is there plays on the age-old stereotypes of evil, manipulative women. (Good gods, do not get me started on Bella and how shittily her character was handled...hell, I could do an entire entry on her and probably should. Oh, and the Nice Guy episode with the zombie.)

Really, when I sit down to watch Supernatural, I am entertained, but I do so because I can shut down the feminist part of my brain. Yet, I think it's unfair for me not to admit that I do see what's there and call it out for what it is. I suppose in some ways this does make me a bad feminist, and I'll admit that because I do support the show by purchasing the DVDs and by saying I'm a fan. I think maybe if I had more options for shows with a paranormal/horror theme that didn't portray women so poorly, I wouldn't like Supernatural as much.

And this is just me musing on all of this. I think I will sit down at some point, put on my Humorless Feminist Hat(TM), and do a couple of entries on Supernatural.
jadedmusings: (Default)
To make up for the disaster that reading Destiny kills over the course of this past week was, today I finally opened up Death's Daughter by Amber Benson...and I didn't put it down (except when I played a little T-ball with the kiddo and took him out to dinner, and other motherly things). I can be a fast reader, but it's rare I will finish a book in a day. It has to be really compelling to make me want to keep reading instead of, say, taking breaks to do my own writing (haha) or playing my PSP. That ought to tell you right away that I enjoyed it.

If the name Amber Benson sounds familiar to you it's probably because you're a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She played Tara Maclay, Willow's lover and fellow witch for roughly three seasons. Well, now the actress and director is also a published author. This isn't her first foray into writing by far, and it shows. Death's Daughter sucked me right in and really managed to blow me away plot-wise.

In the first chapter we're introduced to Calliope Reaper-Jones. By day she's an assistant to the Vice President of Sales at House and Yard, Inc., a job we are assured that is every bit as "glamarous" as it sounds. By night she's...well, a single woman in New York City who is being set-up on a blind date by her neighbor/friend Patience. All that changes when her Forgetting Charm she put on herself three years prior is broken in the form of a vegan chocolate cupcake that was bespelled by her father's Executive Assistant, a faun named Jarvis (whose last name you'll have to read the book to find out because it takes away the fun if I tell you). It's then that Calliope remembers why she put the charm on herself in the first place, after all would you want to remember that you were Death's - the Death's daughter?

Still reeling from suddenly remembering who she is, Jarvis delivers another blow and informs Calliope that her father has been kidnapped and no one can seem to find him. When she returns home, her mother and a family friend inform her that since her older sister was kidnapped along with the rest of the company's Board, and her younger sister is still a minor, Calliope must take on her father's job until they can find him. Oh, and if she doesn't take his job, they'll give the job to someone else and rescind her family's immortality, which will be a death sentence to her father. Despite a desire to be a mortal herself, Calliope obviously doesn't want her father and sister to be killed. She agrees to help only to find out that she must complete three tasks in order to get the job, the first of which is retrieving one of Cerberus's puppies from the North Gates of Hell and it only gets "better" from there.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I admit the writing style was a bit jarring to me. It was written the first person, a style I'm used to, but the language was casual. There were many "gottas" and "kindas," something I'm really not used to seeing in published fiction unless it's dialogue. However, once I got past it, it proved rather a great way to demonstrate Calliope's voice and differentiate her from everyone she encountered.

There were a couple of jabs about fat people, women specifically that irked me as a plus-sized gal.

I say it was a he, but that was only a hypothesis. I just could not imagine any self-respecting female - monster or not - ever getting as pudgy as this thing was. (Page 5)

Why the woman [her boss] wanted a nonfat decaf latte was beyond me. The whole office knew it was ordered for appearances only, that she probably dumped the whole hting in the potted plant behind her desk as soon as I had closed the door in favor of whatever calorie-laden goodies she had stashed in her desk drawer. (Page 17)

Because all overweight women have no self-respect and can't help but stuff their faces with fattening goodies. </sarcasm> I get that not many people are on the whole "fat acceptance" bandwagon, and that it probably would never jump out at anyone who hasn't struggled with weight issues, so this is more of a personal critique of mine than harsh criticism, and I guess, a little form of mini-activism. It stings a little to see stereotypes repeated, even if I allow that it's from a realistic character who does have some flaws. I suppose I hear it/read it so much that it grates just that much, and you do wonder which of the words on the page are the author's own feelings and which are the character's. That being said, there are a couple of moments when my misgivings about these two lines were soothed a little. At one point, while shopping for a dress for her blind date, Calliope finds herself wishing she could be twenty pounds heavier so she could fit into the perfect date dress on the sales rack, proving that sometimes a bit more/wider curves can be a good thing. Another moment comes two pages after the "calorie-laden goodies" line:

"Callie, I'm going out. Hold all my calls," a voice said from behind me.

I turned to find Hy standing in the doorway of her office wearing a rather large Diane von Furstenberg knock-off wrap dress and pointy little black boots. She had her long honey blond hair pulled back off her face, accentuating her large blue eyes and pouty, cupid-bow mouth.

She was a gorgeous size twenty, and reasonably proud of it.
(Page 19)

Not perfect, but "gorgeous size twenty" were not words I was expecting after the previous couple of lines. That was a nice little boost, and after that, there weren't anymore jabs that I can recall, and it proved to me that the little barbs were in all likelihood unintentional. I just have to take the moments to educate where I find them.

OK, stepping off this soap-box I seem to have found myself on and getting on with it.

I was a bit thrown by some of the descriptions of designer clothing. Of course this is coming from a woman who only knows the shoe brands Nike and Reebok and who probably couldn't tell Gucci from Martha Stewart. (Wait, does she even have a clothing line, or is just household stuff? You see what I mean? I'm clueless.) However, given that Calliope was raised in a way that is the very definition of privileged, I can understand exactly why she would have this knowledge, and I suppose if I had such an income I might know a bit more about shopping at Saks. ...Nah, who am I kidding?

Other than that, the story was great, and the plot advanced at a good pace. I could feel Calliope's frustration at being constantly out of the loop, and her genuine amazement at her younger sister Clio's genius-level IQ. Her descriptions of various parts of Hell were compelling and painted the picture nicely (or not so nicely, depending on your perspective). Her characterization of Kali might annoy pagans I know who are acquainted with Her, but when placed in context of Calliope's world, Kali's personality as Benson wrote her certainly fits. And can I just say I loved, loved, loved the Devil in this book? I can? OK, I will say it. Repeatedly even. I even liked her version of God, which says a lot as a polytheist who tends to cringe ever so slightly when it comes to the whole God/Devil deal. Oh, and the Big Reveal(TM)? Totally caught me by surprise and floored me, though I was only slightly off the mark for one of the people involved.

I know that I'll probably re-read Death's Daughter at some point, albeit at a slower pace so I can really savor and enjoy it. (And after I finish Stephen Brust's Taltos novels to appease the boyfriend.) I thought at first I might be disappointed, but all my expectations were blown away and Death's Daughter will certainly get my recommendation. Heck, I might try to goad the boyfriend into reading it even if it may not be his style.

To sum up: I loved it.

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Wrathful and Unrepentant Jade

December 2013

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