Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bibliovile: Bespoke Literature

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Sex, Lies, and Vampires, by Katie MacAlister

              S, L, and V is not the worst book I’ve read as a part of this ongoing project. It is, however, perhaps the most eyerolling. The pure Hot Topic-edness of this novel is unending. It never once ceases to make you groan at it. Frankly, I admire its tenacity.

              It begins early, with hamfisted mentions of the main character, Nell, and her huge knockers. They’re overstuffing her bra you see. This was written by a woman, you’d think she’d have a better idea about when to include knocker-based details. Maybe during one of the several sex scenes.
              Oh, and there’s also vampires. And just like every other vampire novel, this author gets to make up her own fun interpretation of vampires. Why are vampires the only mythical creature we allow to just be all sorts of crazy crap? It’s not like we rewrite a wolfman every full moon! Heyo.
              There’s also imps. And poltergeist we never see. And sylphs. That we never see. And unicorns. Hints at ogres and giants. We don’t see any of these things. Why include their mention? To us, they don’t really exist?
              The most groanable moments were, at the very least, consistent with an awful character, and unfortunately it’s our love interest. Our two lead characters love each other because, um, my publisher told me this book had to have sex in it. Adrian, a Dark One (ugh), is also the Betrayer (ugh ugh) because he’s cursed by a demon lord to sacrifice his people, or something, we don’t ever see him do that.
              You might notice a running theme about telling and not showing. It’s why this book is really hard to sum up- all the stuff you want to bring up doesn’t actually happen in the book. It’s just talked about in the book. It’s an incredibly confusing book, but without all the complexity or intricacy that would make that a good thing. It’s just we don’t every really get ANY SORT of bead on anything, like a small breasted nun during Mardi Gras. We simply groan and move along with the story as our characters do exiting things like... I’m sure there was something.
              The entire romance is based around “I need to fix this broken man!” which is never a good place to start. Adrian himself is just so very eye-rollable. “My Beloved does not exist because I am not allowed to have one. TO have a Beloved would imply that there is hope for me, and I can assure you from many centuries of experience, hope is one grace that has forsaken me.”
              He also, at one point, wears a fedora, because of course he does.
              The female protagonist is no better.

              “I have a question for you.”
              “You should not be out of room,” he said in a heavy German accent. “What is question?”
              “What’s the difference between a bird and a tractor?”
              He blinked at me. I smiled as I swung the statue down on his head. “They can both fly… except for the tractor.”
My reaction to this joke
              I… What? Shoot, now I’m mad and groaning again. This book took forever to read, even if it wasn’t that long. You may notice this book report has been all over the place, but like I said, that’s because the whole friggin thing is so disconnected and shoddy, it’s like my cable company’s Christmas lights. Now there’s a joke.
              At the secondary climax (that we miss, as if the book didn’t have the budget to record it), the secondary antagonist shows up with a bunch of neo-Nazis, totally out of the blue. Just wanted to mention that. They’re quickly turned into slugs and then forgotten about.

Midnight Sins, Cynthia Eden
Midnight Sins II: This Time It’s Supernatural
Mick found another book called Midnight Sins and I had to read it. Thankfully it was slightly better than the OG Midnight Sins, otherwise my insides might have melted, and then there would have been no one to write this blog post. That would have been a travesty.

Would you like to know what else is a travesty? Cara Maloan’s life. Her twin sister was brutally murdered by an ex-lover years ago, and Cara still misses her terribly. Not to mention Cara’s terrible luck with men. She can’t get one to stick around for very long, and her recent string of breakups has led her to the decision to permanently give up sex, which might be a problem, given that Cara is a sex demon who feeds on sexual energy. That’s right, this Midnight Sins is paranormal. This world is populated by vampires, succubi, charmers, and -- of course -- shifters.
Of course, most of the population of Atlanta (of course it’s Atlanta, where else could this take place) lives in blissful ignorance of the presence of the Other. For the last thirty-some-odd years of his life, so did Detective Todd Brooks, until the night he saw his partner transform into a wolf. Now he’s trying to come to terms with the presence of otherworldly beings in his city, as he works to unravel a series of brutal murders that someone is peskily trying to frame on his new ex-murder-suspect-turned-girlfriend, sex demon Cara Maloan.
Yep, you got that right. The new Midnight Sins has all the murdered sisters, gross sex scenes, and weird power dynamics of Lora Leigh’s classic, but this time with police drama, an other-worldly psychiatrist, and level-ten demons thrown in for good measure. The large majority of this book was bonkers, because demons can apparently do some crazy stuff like start fires inside a person’s heart and burn them to a crisp from the inside, but there were actually some pieces of the book that were pretty entertaining, which I did not expect from a book that has the misfortune of sharing a title with the biggest heap of word garbage ever written.
              This new Midnight Sins has a plot that is exciting and contains a few twists, but is actually decipherable and able to be followed, unlike Lora Leigh’s calamity of the written word. One of our main characters is framed for murder, the actual killer is kind of a surprise, the final action scene is really good, and the scary parts actually gave me the shivers. The biggest flump in this book was the romance, which didn’t really do much for me. The characters seemed really one-dimensional and it was hard to believe that they were madly in love with each other because they didn’t seem to have much in common, and when they spoke to each other, they never really seemed to say anything.
              That complaint aside, however, I was pleasantly surprised. When Mick announced that he had found another book called Midnight Sins in the bargain bin at the Dollar General, I thought I had been given a one-way ticket back to the woeful fiasco that was Cami and Rafer’s sex grossness. Instead, I got to read an over-the-top paranormal romance that was essentially fine. Which is the best you can hope for with that title. So, in closing, a word of advice to author Cynthia Eden: The next time you write a book, do some research to make sure you’re not giving it the same title as the worst book of all time.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bibliovile: Holiday Terrific Book Exchange

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All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque

“It is the common fate of our generation. The war has ruined us for everything.”

              All Quiet on the Western Front tells the story of Paul Baumer, a twenty-year-old soldier in the German army during World War One, and his experience during the war. The book, in short, is incredible. It describes war in ways that are so poignant and so haunting that it breaks your heart with every page.

One of the recurring themes of the book revolves around men Paul’s age, who went to war between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one. As Baumer describes himself and his peers, “We stood on the threshold of life. We had as yet taken no root. The war swept us away. We have been gripped by it and do not know what the end may be. We know only that in some strange and melancholy way we have become a wasteland.”
Older soldiers, men who have wives and children, who had jobs and lives and histories prior to the war, have something to hold onto as they struggle with what they are witnessing on the front lines. As they experience fear and tragedy throughout the war, they have a future to look forward to, since they know that if they survive they will be returning to their established and familiar lives. For the younger men of Paul’s generation, however, there is no future to look forward to, nor is there a normal life to anchor them throughout the war. They joined the army straight from school, so they have memories of childhood and their parents and siblings, but they do not have anything concretely their own to hold onto.
Paul and his fellow soldiers spend quite a bit of time talking and thinking about what would become of them after the war, should they survive. They did not have the opportunity to find jobs or learn a trade before they became soldiers. All they know is school and the army. Toward the end of the novel, Paul asks, “What do they expect of us if a time ever comes when the war is over? Through the years our business has been killing; -- it was our first calling in life. Our knowledge of life is limited to death. What will happen afterwards? And what shall come out of us?”
This sense of not having an identity beyond their role as soldiers leads to a sense of hopelessness. One of the most powerful and gut-wrenching passages in the book covers this same topic:

“We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war.”

The only thing that seems to give the men any comfort is each other. Seven of Paul’s comrades were students at the same school, and joined the army at the same time. Along with a few other men, they went through training together, left home together, and have experienced the war alongside one another for several years across the span of the book. They find comfort in conversations with each other, in spending time together, and in finding moments of normalcy together. Paul speaks beautifully of the relationship he has with these other soldiers, saying, “I am no longer a shuddering speck of existence, alone in the darkness; I belong to them and they to me; we all share the same fear and the same life, we are nearer than lovers, in a simpler, a harder way; I could bury my face in them, in these voices, these words that have saved me and will stand by me.” Sadly, but unsurprisingly, throughout the course of the novel, all of these men die. Paul is with several of them in the moment of their death, including Katczinsky, one of his closest friends, who dies while Paul is attempting to bring him to a hospital.
              All Quiet on the Western Front is a really beautiful and heartbreaking portrayal of men whose lives are ruined by war. Every sentence, every chapter communicates the sense of pointlessness that these men feel about the war, and the hopelessness they feel about how the war has ruined their lives. Throughout their conversations, Paul and his comrades struggle to understand the purpose of the war. In one conversation, a soldier insists, “There must be some people to whom the war is useful.” Another answers, “Well, I’m not one of them.”

The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch

              Well, I had an entirely different book. This book is very fun. It’s also very engaging and terrifically written, but the biggest piece of it all is the page-turning fun of it. The Lies of Locke Lamora is set it a medium-fantasy world (it’s hard to tell just how high the fantasy goes sometimes), but doesn’t concern itself with lords, ladies, or knights, and there’s only one duke. Instead, we follow the titular (heh) Locke Lamora, who is basically this world’s first con artist, pulling huge scores through lying and acting instead of picking pockets and intimidating.

              This glimpse into a different section of fantasy is a whole heck of a lot of—oh who needs a thesaurus—fun. It’s like The Sting if it were set in King’s Landing. Locke’s quick wit and planning ahead make for the interesting pieces, not stodgy old men pushing pieces around planning for war. He’s fleet but not strong, witty, but not always wise. He’s not perfect and gets the absolute crap beaten out of him multiple times, which is always nice to see. A character that can’t be touched is a boring one.
              The book is one Dukes-of-Hazzard-esque “How them Duke Boys gonna get outta this one?” freeze frame after another one, but with less racist iconography. Locke becomes sandwiched between different organized crime obligations, different heists requiring attention, and all sorts of goings on. His Gentlemen Bastards help in the ruses, offering different skills and fun character interaction.
              The world-building as well is top notch. As the first novel in this series, it’s got a lot of work to do, and admittedly drops you into the deep end for you to figure it out for yourself. It’s a little bit of a relief to be treated like an adult who will adapt through context. The plot necessitates that our main eyes and ears be a lifetime resident of this world—no one is sitting him down to explain how the organized crime works, for goodness’ sake, he’s been in it his whole life. Harry Potter came to the wizarding world an outsider, so he helps us get acquainted. Locke Lamora has lived that life, and we’re left to catch up, like an exchange student who fell asleep during culture lessons.
              All the pieces fit amazingly together. My favorite pay off includes Locke’s original mentor and master teaching them the ways of con-manning in their youth. They practice lock picking and heists and what not, but they also practice the ways of fine dining, manners, cultured speaking. They practice voices and accents and etiquette common to different parts of the kingdoms, because the smallest stuff makes up for convincing lies. It was hilarious to think about a group of orphans practicing bowing to imagined lords and ladies, preparing for a possible future con in which that would be necessary. The one we see, an advanced Nigerian Prince style extortion, really shows off the prepared skills.
              There are a few trouble spots. The lessons are taught in flashbacks as needed throughout the plot, which, although fun to read, doesn’t have nearly the payoff as if it were told chronologically. Chekov’s Gun doesn’t work if you stop the play and say “By the way, I brought a gun in to the house. Just in case, you know?”
              The varied height of fantasy in this book also can throw you for a loop. You’re pretty sure you’ve got the ropes—ancient advanced and disappeared civilization, Spanish-influence early Renaissance style culture, daggers and rapiers and whatnot—and then a major plot device revolves around the use and power of magic, which was heretofore not a part of the world. It doesn’t ruin anything, but, like the flashbacks, put some recalibration bumps into the fun rollercoaster ride of the book.
              All in all, I’ve said basically nothing about the plot specifics at large, and that’s because I want you to read this book. It’s pretty sizable, but an extraordinary fast read. It was nice to read fast again for once, not slog through it.

              The Lies of Locke Lamora was perfect for our holiday exchange, because it is perfect for reading underneath a blanket between meals and naps or what have you. Read it, ya’ll.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Bibliovile: Benchmarks of Nerdery

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World of Warcraft, Chronicle: Volume I, various

              World of Warcraft, Chronicle: Volume I is exactly what you’d think it is. It is the first of three volumes that chronicle the history behind World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game that’s been in existence since 2004. In addition to the video game, there are also World of Warcraft novels, films, soundtracks, spin off games, and galleries of artwork. This particular book tells the origin story of Azeroth, the world in which I’m assuming the World of Warcraft game takes place.

            The book itself is basically a plot summary, and it would be a little silly to try and give a full plot summary of a plot summary, so I’ll just tell you the three main themes that I deduced from my reading.
            Chapter one is all about creation and transition. We learn about the Pantheon, a group of titans who bring order to the worlds as they search for other titans. In the first chapter of WoW’s history, creatures take charge of the world and promptly get tired of it, so they create other creatures to take care of the world for them. This repeats many times. Chapter two is all about destruction and war. One race will take power, only to be challenged and defeated by another race. This also repeats many times. Chapter three centers around the rise and fall of civilizations and races. Various cultures will try to build an empire from ruins, succeed briefly, but ultimately fail. Again, this repeats many times. If you want to know more about the actual happenings in the history of WoW, try playing WoW.  Or read this book yourself.
              There are so many things that I could say about this book, but the main idea that I kept coming back to throughout my reading revolved around a paragraph I read pretty early on: “The world of Azeroth has been shaped by hundreds of craftsmen, designers, artists, and writers since its earliest inception. It is the product of many talented hands and many passionate voices, all bent toward creating a world so rich in detail, theme, and characterization that ... well... you’d want to pull on your +6 Boots of Butt-Kicking and give your all to defend it.”
              That paragraph was on the first page that I read out of this book; jotting down the page reference was the first note that I took about World of Warcraft, and I think it sums up my thoughts about this chronicle just about perfectly. Thinking about all of the creativity, commitment, passion, and work that went into creating this whole fandom -- the history, the books, the game, the music, the art, etc. -- is mind-boggling. So many people love World of Warcraft so much and have spent so much time on it, that they’ve created this rich, detailed, multi-tiered and multi-platform universe, and that is really cool. But at the same time, reading that final phrase about +6 Boots of Butt-Kicking is so cringe-worthy and awful that I want to simultaneously laugh at it and also die.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Bibliovile: Death of a Thunderbird

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Shift, by Rachel Vincent

              This book is boring.
              It shouldn’t be boring. It has all the elements of a not-boring book -- werecats with a thirst for revenge, political intrigue, a love triangle, even thunderbirds.
              But it’s boring.
              This books is mostly boring because it condenses all of the interesting elements into short chapters, and spends over a hundred pages on the boring parts that connect the interesting elements.
              Before I give you an example, let me share a little bit of the plotline. In SHIFT, werecat Faythe Sanders is caught up in a love triangle, a siege, and a civil war. Her father, the Alpha of her Pride, is competing against a rival Alpha named Calvin Malone for a seat on the werecat Council. Her Pride is also seeking revenge against Malone because his Pride is responsible for the death of her brother, Ethan. As they prepare for Civil War between the Prides, Faythe’s Pride is attacked by a group of Thunderbirds, who Calvin Malone has tricked into attacking Faythe’s Pride as a way to distract and weaken them.
              There are a lot of capital letters.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Bibliovile: Wary of Terri Garey

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Grimspace, by Ann Aguirre
              Everybody get out your character sheets and your bag of dice because today we’re playing some Dungeons and Dragons. The adventure module we’ll be working with is called Grimspace, by Ann Aguirre. Okay, I’ve taken the liberty of preparing character sheets for each of you ahead of time, so this won’t take too long.

              Here, you’re going to be Sirantha Jax, she’s a brashy, sarcastic, but ultimately hurt-inside woman. Yes, I know, it’s incredibly cliché, but just try and make it your own. It’s your first time, maybe it’ll be easier to play an archetype. She has special powers that let her move her ship though, let’s see, Grimspace, ah that explains the title. I don’t know, it’s like, a wormhole or something? The manual doesn’t go much into it.
              And for you, here, you get to be March. No, it doesn’t have a last name. He’s a handsome but brooding man that works as the captain of this ship. That’s about all the detail they give you.
              Okay, so, Jax, you’re in a cell. You’ve just been accused of crashing your ship to kill the diplomats on board, although you survived. No, listen, for the last time, I don’t know why they would accuse the only survivor of doing it on purpose. I’m reading from a manual here.
              -fast forward way too long of a session-
              You guys made it out and onto the ship, and that’s why I’ve invited a few more friends. Here’s Doc, who is a doctor and that’s about all we see out of his character, Dina, who- what? Yes, I suppose you can be a lesbian just because, and Loras. Loras’s combat skills aren’t so great, but he’s gonna tag along and… Why would you want to be a pacifist?! Fine, yeah, whatever. Let’s just move on.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bibliovile: The Ballad of Lowry Barry

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For the 10th episode of our podcast, Susan and I decided we needed something special. We decided we would give each other the worst books we've been forced to read so far, turning the punishment back onto the one who dealt it out in the first place. It got real. We got to see how the other half lives and fumes at words on a page.

Choosers of the Slain, John Ringo

            Choosers of the Slain is a book about dicks. The main characters are dicks, the villains, whoever they actually are, are dicks, the guns are dicks, and the dicks are dicks. Hoo boy are the dicks dicks.
            Dicks dicks dicks dicks dicks.
            No, you’re not crazy. If you’re a veteran of Bibliovile and its predecessor the Terrible Book Exchange, you’ve already heard of this book. This was the book that set it all off. I saw this book in the Cedar Falls library and KNEW I had to make Susan read it somehow. Thus, a middling hobby was born. You can read her original thoughts here. While she failed to make it even halfway in the book, I managed to reach the end.
Nice mudflap decals, man
            Our main hero, Mike Somethingorother, is a retired Navy SEAL, and Veteran Book Protagonist. Choosers of the Slain is the third book in a series, and hoo boy has Mike been up to some old shenanigans. Ya know, defusing a nuke in Paris, killing Osama bin Laden, those sorts of things.
            Throughout his travels, he’s bought a valley in Europe Georgia which is coincidentally the America Georgia of Europe. With this valley, naturally, come the inhabitants which are now his slaves, and wards, and private militia I guess. Turns out these guys, far from the normal Eurasian stock (which is always portrayed as shifty, evil, and cowardly in this book), are descended from Vikings because of made up history. So don’t worry, alt-right readers (the main audience for this book), you’re still rooting for white people.
            This militia helps to prevent incursions into Russia, who our ultra-American protagonist is strangely buddy-buddy with, up until a senator from the US tasks him with finding a girl, supposedly a daughter of a wealthy donor, who has been kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. It’s not funny at all, just vastly traumatic on every subsequent page.
            Except when they go to Vegas to sell some beer in between raids on brothels in Armenia, that spot is great. Mike is a terrible secret agent by the way, he straight up tells every prospective buyer THESE GUYS ARE MY PRIVATE MILITIA AND WE HAVE RPGS AND STUFF AT THE AIRPORT WE’RE DOING SECRET WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT SHUSH. I can’t imagine his CIA handlers are too excited about him using his government black budget slush fund to dress up his indentured servant girls in beer advertisements.
            This book, simply, IS toxic masculinity. Mike is portrayed as the ultimate Alpha, cucking all in his path. He has a harem (oh, don’t worry, he just inherited it!) of 12 to 17 year old girls. He doesn’t screw the 12 year old or the 13 year old, so it’s fine. The others, well, yeah, he’s into having vastly unrealistic sessions with them. The most detailed one we read lasts over 4 hours and she goes blind because of lack of bloodflow to the optic nerve because it’s… going to her vagina I guess?
            When he receives the picture of the 14 year old kidnapping victim WHO WAS SOLD INTO SEX SLAVERY he comments on how she fills out a swimsuit. The men in his unit’s first response to her picture is a hearty “Nice tits!” to a high school freshman who is a kidnapping victim. He carries around a gun constantly, and it’s totally not a compensation. His main source of anger at the sex trade villains is that they can’t control their urges. Not that they HAVE the urge to beat up women and do things I won’t go into detail here, but that they indulge it. I mean, every guy wants that sort of thing, right?
            No, you gross idiot.
            All in all, this book made me throw it down in disgust a lot less often than other books have, which seems backward. This was probably one of the grossest books I’ve ever read in body, spirit, and mind, but the actual mechanics and craft were perfectly acceptable. Barring some frequent typos near the beginning, the novel as a piece of work is totally fine.
            No, the plot and characters are the gross parts. The scene where Mike references that a newly freed sex slave is on “Step 12 of the Post-Rape Checklist” is gross enough, in the thought that there is some sort of universal stage of grief for abused and traumatized women. But, it turns out, that stage is nymphomania, and they bone. Here’s a hint; he treats her about the same as before, but he’s got Protagonist Weiner and she likes it instead. THAT was why this book was awful.
            Susan, in her review, summed it up best by having a person sum it up best in a third review. That’s right, this is the grand-review of that original one. It says “I’m not sure I want to meet anyone that loves this book,” and I can agree fully.

Midnight Sins, by Lora Leigh

            My original intention for reading this book was to keep track of the details and plot points and eventually keep a tally of all of the inconsistencies. But I gave up on that plan at the end of chapter two. Mick said it was The Impossible Book in his review, found here, and now I know why. There is so much backstory thrown into Midnight Sins that keeping it straight just isn’t possible. At first I thought I was struggling because I was drunk when I read chapter one, but it’s even harder to keep it all straight when you’re sober. Just to let you in on some of the insanity, here is a description of the plot.

  • ·       A girl named Cami Flannigan has been in love with a guy named Rafer Callahan since she was thirteen years old and he was dating her older sister. Now she is in her mid-twenties, and she won’t let herself be anywhere near Rafer. They slept together once (?) when she was twenty-one, and she got pregnant but miscarried, and she has been emotionally damaged and afraid of loss ever since, so she ignores him and acts like she hates him to protect her feelings, despite the fact that he actively pursues her every chance he gets.
  • ·       Rafer Callahan and his cousins Logan and Crowe are the three most hated citizens of Corbin County. They are the sons of three heiresses, the daughters of the three barons (super-wealthy landowners) who pissed off their families by marrying the three Callahan brothers, who their fathers hated.

  • ·       When Rafer, Logan, and Crowe were babies, their parents all died in a mysterious car accident. They were taken in by their Uncle Clyde, who also died in a mysterious accident. Somehow no one thinks those things were connected. The cousins should have inherited all of their families’ property and money, but their mothers’ fathers have been tying things up in court because they hated their sons-in-law and now their grandsons.
  • ·       Cami’s sister Jaymi was killed when Cami was thirteen in a string of rapes and murders throughout one summer. Rafer and his cousins found her body and found the man who killed her, but they were put in jail on suspicion of the crime anyway, pretty much because everyone in town hates them. Cami’s dad (who isn’t her real dad) has always hated Cami, and wishes that it had been her who died instead of Jaymi.

  • ·       Before she died, Jaymi had been getting threatening phone calls telling her to stay away from Rafer (who she had been sleeping with ever since her husband died). Cami is now receiving similar threatening phone calls, and so are Jack and Jeanine, other friends of Rafer’s.
  • ·       Super late in the game plotline that is introduced in chapter 21 out of 25: A girl named Amelia used to be Cami’s best friend and college roommate, until Amelia’s dad found Cami’s diary and learned that Cami had gotten pregnant by Rafer and lost the baby, and that Amelia had helped Rafer’s cousin Crowe sneak into the courthouse to tamper with files that would have influenced the litigation over the land. She did this because she was in love with him, so her dad made her leave college, marry someone else, and never talk to Cami or associate with the cousins ever again. It’s not clear why this is relevant.

            You might be thinking to yourself, “But Susan, those plotlines are bonkers!” You are right, reader. They are indeed bonkers. And not only is the plot insane, but the writing is so bad that you can’t keep anything straight. In the first four chapters, the timeline jumps around for seemingly no reason at random intervals of time: twelve years later, four months later, eighteen months later, three months later... But the things that were mentioned in the exposition didn’t line up with the time jumps. For example, I thought that Cami got pregnant the first (and only) time that she had Rafer had sex, but throughout the rest of the book, we’re told that they had sex three times, or six times, or five times, or only once before. First it was three years since she lost the baby, then five, then two?
            The author also can’t decide what she wants the names of her characters to be. Cami’s mother is alternately referred to as Mary Flannigan and Mary Flannery, and Rafer’s cousin Crowe is sometimes called Crowne. Amelia Callahan, who all of a sudden becomes a big deal in the eleventh hour, is also confused several times (by the author, not by me) for someone named Anna Corbin?

            All of my notes end in question marks.

            In the final chapters of the book, some of the plotlines start to resolve themselves, except they really don’t? We figure out that the man who has been making threatening phone calls is a guy named Lowry Berry who... we’ve never heard of before? We learn that he is the one who killed Jaymi, but we never learn who put him up to it. Nothing with the grandparents is ever resolved, and we never learn who killed the cousins’ parents.
            Good thing this is the first book of a trilogy that no one should ever read.

            At one point, our main character is having a conversation with a friend about the Callahan cousins’ history, and she very frustratedly sighs to her friend, “None of it ties together, no matter how I try to find a way to understand it.” And that, I think, is the perfect summary for this book.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

BIbliovile: Get in a Tiff

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Never Trust a Liberal Over 3—Especially a Republican! by Ann Coulter
What's with the different fonts? Is it written on
that hanging board or not?

Ann Coulter is the most hateful person in the world. I don't want to talk about it any more than that.

The end.

Blood and Silver, by James R. Tuck

              In Blood and Silver, an occult bounty hunter named Deacon Chalk saves a pregnant weredog who is being beaten by a group of evil lycanthropes. A second group of lycanthropes tries to take the weredog, whose name is Sophia. Deacon kills one of them. A third group of lycanthropes asks Deacon to protect a member of the second group of lycanthropes from the first group of lycanthropes. Deacon and the third group go to rescue Marcus, the leader of the second group, from the first group, which is led by Marcus’ brother, Leonidas, who is, unsurprisingly, a lion. Some people die, and lots more get hurt, but Deacon heals them with his supernatural powers that he has because he was killed once, but he was resurrected after getting a blood transfusion from an Angel of the Lord.
              Deacon has sex with a girl named Tiff. We learn that Marcus is the one that got Sophia pregnant. A family named the Coopers is killed. Shani, Marcus’s mate, is the one who told Leonidas to go after Sophia. There is a battle scene, in which a man shifts into a T-Rex. He is killed within one chapter and never discussed again. More people die. Deacon kills Marcus and Leonidas. We think Deacon kills Shani, but we learn at the end that he only tranquilized her, and then gave her to the local zoo. That’s the plot.

              There are parts of this book that pleasantly surprised me. For example, in chapter 21, there is a sex scene between Deacon and Tiff, but instead of being grossly graphic, like I was expecting, the entire scene is written entirely in metaphors, without a single explicit word in the chapter. It’s not poetic or well-written by any means, but I appreciate the restraint used by not making the sex scene gratuitous and gross. I expected a book like this to go into Choosers of the Slain levels of pervertedness, but James Tuck kept this one classy.
              The writing in other portions of the book is also surprisingly good. In chapter 25, Deacon is sent to go check on a family that no one has heard from in awhile, and he finds them all dead in their home. If you set aside the fact that we have never heard of these characters before, we never find out who killed them, and they’re never brought up again, the writing in this chapter is actually very good. Tuck does a great job of building suspense. You know that Deacon’s going to find the bodies of the family, but the author keeps you on the edge of your seat until it actually happens. Pretty impressive work for a TBE book.
              Another thing that I really appreciate about this book is that shifting is actually explained in sufficient detail for once. Most people in society don’t know that shifters exist, but a few do, and they work to make sure that the rest of society doesn’t find out. Shifters are typically born, but lycanthropy can also be caught like a disease. There’s enough detail that I actually feel like I know what the hell is going on, and I’m not left puzzled, like I was in, I don’t know, EVERY OTHER SHIFTING BOOK EVER.
True to TBE form, however, the author likes to go on random tangents at weird times. Throughout the majority of the book, the tangents are just explanations of things that happened in the first book, dropped right in the middle of an action sequence (like literally every other book I’ve read for this project). There is one glorious example of this in p. 182 that doesn’t involve a battle scene, though. Deacon and his posse are all sitting down to discuss a battle plan, and he waxes poetic for three-quarters of a page about veggie pizza. It’s amazing.

              All in all, this was a solid Terrible Book Exchange book. I never wanted to throw it across the room, I read it in three days, and it was just ridiculous enough to make me yell, “WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING,” at least twice while reading it.