Okay, sometimes this thing were I get a lot of free books through my work can be both a blessing and a curse. Because often, something like this will...moreOkay, sometimes this thing were I get a lot of free books through my work can be both a blessing and a curse. Because often, something like this will fall into my lap totally gratis, and while I would never actually buy it, when I haven't paid I'm all, “Haha, omg: it's time travel genderfuck RPF! This I have to read! It's gonna be hilarious!”
Um, no, it's not. It will be misogynistic and gross, though. *time travels, switches sex, and pats past!self on the head* Have fun, kid.(less)
Not at all what it says on the tin. I often very much enjoy Holmes pastiches that pit him and Watson against the supernatural or uncanny, but despite...moreNot at all what it says on the tin. I often very much enjoy Holmes pastiches that pit him and Watson against the supernatural or uncanny, but despite the purported goal of the collection, only about half of these stories fit into that category. (The other half, Adams says in the introduction, were basically included as a giant red herring, to which I say: boo.) But, supernaturally-fueled or not, nearly all of these were just really, really dull and forgettable; I had to force myself to the end—something that should never happen with my beloved Holmes! Upon review, the only two stories that I really liked were Neil Gaiman’s “A Study in Emerald,” which I have only read a billion times previously, as it has been collected everywhere; and Naomi Novik’s “Commonplaces,” which is absolutely fantastic—beautifully characterized and written—but in which the supposedly improbable element is the assertion that Holmes and Watson were lovers. Pish!
I would like to see “Commonplaces” collected in other books, because then this one would truly be completely unnecessary.(less)
One of those “Sherlock Holmes meets [Famous Historical Figure:]!” books—in this case, “Sherlock Holmes meets Harry Houdini!” This was quite fun, altho...moreOne of those “Sherlock Holmes meets [Famous Historical Figure:]!” books—in this case, “Sherlock Holmes meets Harry Houdini!” This was quite fun, although, as is the case with a lot of mysteries for me, more fun in the setup than in the conclusion. Also, Stashower’s Watson was a bit too much of a bumbler for my tastes. Not Laurie R. King bad or anything, but I think after Jude Law’s impeccable Watson from the new movie, I am feeling a tad spoiled.(less)
**spoiler alert** In which it turns out that Jane Austen is not, in fact, dead, but is instead a vampire bookstore owner living in upstate New York. O...more**spoiler alert** In which it turns out that Jane Austen is not, in fact, dead, but is instead a vampire bookstore owner living in upstate New York. Okay, this seemed promising for about the first chapter, in which Jane is forced to deal with the author of one of the many, many books (like this one!) cashing in on Austenmania: she grits her fangs until she just can't take it anymore, then helps herself to a little snack. Funny! Of course, chapter two reveals that Jane did not in fact kill the snotty author, and also she's the type of vampire that's unaffected by sunlight—typical wuss-out stuff like that. I suppose we should be grateful she doesn’t sparkle. Anyway, things get worse when the book tries to develop a plot, with the last novel Jane wrote before she was turned finally receiving attention from an editor, which results in what seems to be the most unrealistic experience of getting published that I've ever seen. It doesn't help that the excerpts from this supposed Jane Austen novel—one written at the time of her death, mind, not almost two centuries later—could not read less like Jane Austen, except perhaps if Dan Brown penned it. And then there are several deeply embarrassing if not outright insulting appearances by Charlotte Bronte, and the deeply unsexy and unrealistic RPF pairing of Jane Austen/Lord Byron. Oh, and the funny's totally left the building by this point, too. Bleck.
Well, once again I fell for it: the potentially crackishly entertaining premise and the amusing first chapter both. At least this means I can issue a warning to others: do not make the same foolish choices—they’ll come back and bite you in the ass.(less)
This is a prequel to the very fun Star Trek relaunch, and it’s, like, supposed to make the movie’s plot make more sense or something. (Dude. Like anyb...moreThis is a prequel to the very fun Star Trek relaunch, and it’s, like, supposed to make the movie’s plot make more sense or something. (Dude. Like anybody watched that movie for the plot.) Instead, it just gives the film’s villain, Nero, the world’s most boring and cliché villain backstory ever—“My wife/girlfriend the plot device DIED! I be evil now.” See: Batman: The Killing Joke, Dr. Horrible, and, oh, basically everything EVER. Yawn. Also, every issue ends with the reveal of—surprise!—A Character You Will Recognize If You Watched NextGen. Which I haven’t. But I recognized them anyway. Thank you, fandom osmosis!
Anyway, complaints aside, this was very shiny. So there’s that.(less)
This book is almost 800 pages long. I knew after the first fifty, definitely after the first hundred, that I wasn’t enjoying it, but I kept readin...moreGAH.
This book is almost 800 pages long. I knew after the first fifty, definitely after the first hundred, that I wasn’t enjoying it, but I kept reading because 1) I’m a stubborn bitch, 2) Dan Simmons has written good books in the past, and 3) I just felt like it had to get better, right? RIGHT?
Not so much. If you want to read a book about an unlikeable narrator—in this case, supposedly Wilkie Collins—bitch about his likewise unlikeable friend/rival/whatever—supposedly Charles Dickens—for 800 pages while some vaguely spooky stuff happens, none of which is scary or interesting enough to sustain the narrative—then this doorstop of a read is the book for you. If not, then don’t be like me—run! Run! Save yourselves!(less)
**spoiler alert** A mystery made up almost entirely of red herrings. Holmes and Russell continue to be charming, but I was frustrated by how much of t...more**spoiler alert** A mystery made up almost entirely of red herrings. Holmes and Russell continue to be charming, but I was frustrated by how much of the narrative turned out to be irrelevant. Even the letter of the title—supposedly a piece of correspondence between Mary Magdalene and her sister, which is, you know, generally the type of thing da Vinci writes codes about and plots are based around—is, as far as this story and even its characters are concerned, essentially meaningless. If Holmes can solve the entire mystery by spending a couple days putting up some wallpaper, then why do we have to spend ages hanging out with Russell while she pretends to be some rich dick’s secretary? None of the mucking about was even particularly illuminating in regards to her character or her relationship with Holmes.
I was, however, amused by Lord Peter Wimsey’s little cameo, especially since not long before he arrived, I’d been thinking that we’d entered the time period when he’d be back from the war and running about solving crimes, too. Handwaving the fact that in Sayers’ books, Sherlock Holmes is frequently referred to as fictional, making a crossover technically impossible for sticklers like myself, I will allow myself to titter and enjoy the occasional pleasures inherent in wacky published fanfic such as this.(less)
Allow me to use an analogy here. Imagine that in 20 years or so people start publishing collections of Buffy the Vampire Slayer pastiches. (In this ve...moreAllow me to use an analogy here. Imagine that in 20 years or so people start publishing collections of Buffy the Vampire Slayer pastiches. (In this version of the future Joss Whedon is either incredibly generous or has very bad lawyers.) In each story, Buffy does some research with the Scoobies (all of whom are currently getting along great!), patrols a cemetery, and stakes a vampire...and that’s it. No character development, not even any character insight! In every. Single. Story.
That’s this collection, pretty much. If some of the tales had been particularly humorous or blessed with Arthur Conan Doyle’s gift with atmosphere, that might have redeemed things somewhat. Instead, we get not one, but TWO stories that offer a rational, Sherlockian explanation for the events of A Christmas Carol. I know it’s a holiday collection, but did it really have to be produced via cookie cutter?
I also have to say, this is one of the worst-edited books I’ve read in a long time—purely from a copyediting standpoint, I mean. Words are used incorrectly, there are bizarre misspellings, and the book is littered with sloppiness: strangers being referred to by name, then introduced three paragraphs later—that kind of stuff. And there are THREE editors credited. Yikes.
Needless to say, this did not fill me with holiday cheer.(less)
Well, it took more than a year, but King sucked me back in. I think I needed something to take the taste of John R. King's (no relation?) The Shadow...moreWell, it took more than a year, but King sucked me back in. I think I needed something to take the taste of John R. King's (no relation?) The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls out of my mouth; in comparison to that novel, this one is masterful. I enjoyed this much more than the previous book in the series, too, mostly because Watson is only in one scene, which leaves King very little opportunity to write him badly. Woo! The pacing is tighter, too, as this novel takes places over just a couple of months, rather than years. And I have to admit, I do enjoy the chemistry between Russell and Holmes. To give King her due, she understands exactly what's sexy about him: the wonderful combination of fierce intelligence and physical grace and deep, deep repression. Yum!
I have to say, these are so far by far the best-written Holmes pastiches I've read. I only wish there were some well-written ones that gave Watson the respect he deserves (and maybe even a good storyline!).(less)
Okay, I’m no Sherlockian scholar of any merit, but as someone who has, you know, read most of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories at least once, I ca...moreOkay, I’m no Sherlockian scholar of any merit, but as someone who has, you know, read most of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories at least once, I can say with certainty that if you’ve done the same, this book will make you want to tear your hair out over the inaccuracies and errors. King:
1) Has Moriarty turn evil after he kills Jack the Ripper in 1888 and gets possessed by the demon that was possessing the Ripster. Setting that little plot point aside, this still makes no sense in regards to Holmes canon. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t The Valley of Fear open at the very beginning of 1888? Moriarty is already Holmes’ nemesis then, so how could he still be a perfectly innocent mathematician at this point?
2) Describes a woman as someone who “voted straight-ticket Tory.” Women did not gain suffrage in Britain until 1918, and not universal suffrage until 1928. Basic history! So basic I caught it! Sheesh.
3) Gives Watson, on first reference, the first name “James.” I’m sure this is supposed to be a reference to the fact that Doyle himself at one time screwed this up, and King later switches to the correct appellation of John, but as the name to use, right out of the gate, from Holmes’ own lips—after he’s been reading one of Watson’s accounts in the Strand, no less!—this is just confusing. And stupid.
I’m sure there’s more, but those are the three that really stuck out for me. They made it hard for me to focus on and enjoy the parts of the novel that were, albeit briefly, enjoyable, namely: Sherlock Holmes with amnesia! Sadly, that plotline, which I would love to read many, many better versions of, is lost under a hackneyed, “Boy’s Own” adventure-type plot, in which amnesiac!Holmes falls in with a pair of young love birds, Mary Sue and Marty Stu. King doesn’t even attempt to emulate Doyle’s style, which, while admittedly exposition-heavy, was magnificently atmospheric; King can’t even inject a bit of life into set-pieces like a horrific Victorian mental hospital, a night chase across the Swiss alps, or a climactic battle at the Louvre. From the dialogue, half the time the characters might as well have been traipsing through the Glendale Galleria. And then Holmes himself is completely removed from the climax! Did I pick up a Sherlock Holmes pastiche because I want to read about Marty Stu defeating a demonic skeleton? No—I want to read about freakin’ Sherlock Holmes! WITH AMNESIA.
That this is bad stings even worse because it could have been so frickin’ cool. Dammit.(less)
Kind of adorably awesome RPF in which the Queen discovers reading, and thus discovers herself. This is a delightful little cupcake of a book. I guess...moreKind of adorably awesome RPF in which the Queen discovers reading, and thus discovers herself. This is a delightful little cupcake of a book. I guess I can see how some people could find it twee, but I think Bennett make the humor just sharp enough to keep things sweet but not saccharine. And I can’t help be enchanted by the idea that books and reading really might be this transformative.(less)
In a way, I really do only have myself to blame here. There’s no logical reason that I would start reading a book like this actually...moreWhy, self, why? :(
In a way, I really do only have myself to blame here. There’s no logical reason that I would start reading a book like this actually expecting to like it. But I got so much giddy stupid pleasure out of the BBC’s Lost in Austen, I got greedy and went looking for more. Which means I badly need my own version of the personal opera singer from Scrubs: “MISTAKE!”
The writing here isn’t appallingly awful, but the characterization more than makes up for it. Or whatever the opposite of making up for it is. Not only does Cready butcher Austen’s characters—seriously, did she even read Pride and Prejudice? She seems to think Elizabeth Bennet has only two sisters as opposed to four (poor Mary and Kitty, forgotten again!)—she can’t even do justice to her own. Her bad guys are ridiculously, implausibly vile—idiotic caricatures. She can’t seem to decide if her hero is a proper, prudish, scholarly type or an ass-spanking sex fiend. (Not that I would be opposed to a character who’s both, but this dude rotates on a dime with no explanation. Where’s the fun in that?) And her heroine is named Flip. Flip. Need I say more?
Well, I could—unsurprisingly, I could go on ranting forever. But I’ve probably already wasted enough time on this foolishness.(less)
Whee! Possibly the best BtVS/AtS comic I have read: Lynch nails the characterization in this and also dishes up an engaging plot filled with interesti...moreWhee! Possibly the best BtVS/AtS comic I have read: Lynch nails the characterization in this and also dishes up an engaging plot filled with interesting OCs, a lovely Lorne appearance, and a bunch of hilarious in-jokes. If there were a Spike spinoff (if only) this would make a fantastic episode—it’s certainly much better than what I’ve read of the Angel: Season 6 comic. (Sorry, Joss.) I hope I can get my hands on Lynch’s other effort, which I believe involves Spike doing Vegas. *g*(less)
A “Tor Double Novel,” which is really two unrelated novellas packaged together for convenience. Enemy Mine, which was made into a movie starring Denni...moreA “Tor Double Novel,” which is really two unrelated novellas packaged together for convenience. Enemy Mine, which was made into a movie starring Dennis Quaid which I’ve seen five minutes of and in filmic form looks ridiculous, was actually pretty good: the humans and the Dracs are at war, but when a human and a Drac fighter pilot each crash-land on a deserted planet after a space battle, they must become reluctant allies, then friends (read: kind of gay for each other). I found the ending deeply and unnecessarily depressing, though.
In Another Orphan, a stockbroker finds himself thrust into the world of Moby-Dick. I enjoyed this less. It was rather reminiscent of Michael Moorcock’s Behold the Man, especially in its use of flashbacks; however, it doesn’t really build to anything much—the revelation at the end was, to me, decidedly unrevelatory. Also, I was very disappointed by the lack of Queequeg. Dude, if you are trying to position yourself as the story’s Ishmael, STEP ONE should be to make out make friends with Queequeg. Because, among other things, Queequeg is just awesome. MOAR QUEEQUEG PLZ.
The two stories don’t really complement each other in any way. Combined, they’re diverting, but I felt like I really wasn’t getting much bang for my buck with this whole “Double Novel” thing. I mean, two semi-lengthy short stories do not equal a single novel, let alone a double. A better bet would be to track down a collection that contains Enemy Mine and more than one other tale.(less)
Well, there’s another item I can cross off the Great Geek Checklist: Read a Star Trek Tie-In Novel. Check—and my chances of getting laid are once agai...moreWell, there’s another item I can cross off the Great Geek Checklist: Read a Star Trek Tie-In Novel. Check—and my chances of getting laid are once again reduced! ;-)
This wasn’t at all bad. It was pretty well-written; there was a nice subplot with Sulu (though McIntyre gives him a truly dreadful-sounding new hairstyle that I kept hoping would somehow figure into the plot—but it DIDN’T); and there was a SUPREMELY gay Kirk/Spock moment toward the end that made me giggle with glee. However, the time travel plot was a bit convoluted in my opinion, and it resolved itself rather too quickly—I’ve seen the same sort of story done better. Still, if more tie-in novels were this good, I might actually read them.
Or maybe not. In truth, I don’t think I really want to read derivative works unless there are sexy bits in ’em. I AM SHALLOW OKAY.(less)
A little treat for myself, ordered from England. And totally worth the six quid I spent. Taking the form of a policing manual written by the Gene Geni...moreA little treat for myself, ordered from England. And totally worth the six quid I spent. Taking the form of a policing manual written by the Gene Genie himself (with notes and doodles by DC Skelton), this is one of the best tie-in type books I've ever encountered. The real author (some guy named Guy) has got Gene's voice down pretty well—it's very surface Gene, but if he really were writing a book like this (perish the thought), it would be. And it's legitimately very funny—I'll admit, I LOL'd. (There are also a bunch of photos of Philip Glenister being a hotass—I AM PRO!) If you're a fan of the show (Life on Mars, for those of you who weren't paying attention/can't read my mind), you'll almost certainly like this.
And if you're not a fan...well, why AREN'T you? *wants everyone to share her latest obsession, dammit*(less)
Fun, if nothing special. It was an enjoyable enough way to spend an hour. Thinking about Spike and everything that happened to him still makes me all...moreFun, if nothing special. It was an enjoyable enough way to spend an hour. Thinking about Spike and everything that happened to him still makes me all wibbly. The end.(less)