This is definitely what I would call an adequate romance novel. It reliably hits all of its marks without really exceeding expectations. Just t3 Stars
This is definitely what I would call an adequate romance novel. It reliably hits all of its marks without really exceeding expectations. Just the right kind of reading for winter in the mid-west (although Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio have been unseasonably warm this winter it still is dark at 4:30pm - 4:30 not 5 or 6 - 4:30 - the sun is gone - thats all you get for the day ).
There were a couple of things I did really enjoy about the book - that made it just a little more than par - a couple places where the Richter needle jiggled upwards - momentarily - from the obligatory 3 stars catchall that I will give most books, especially romances. The heroine was this flighty, nervous albeit self-aware, young thing who was actually endearing - and the descriptions and reactions to all of her disastrous bonnets were quite fun. I also liked that she was doing more of the pursuing of the guy than vice versa - a nice change of pace - and the guy wasn't a scoundrel or rake. He was this very uptight Mr. Darcy type (of course with a super sexy, passionate side once the bedroom doors were closed). Despite her flightiness, Angeline was actually a pretty down to earth girl. Having spent her life in the company of her man-whorish and irresponsible brothers and her absentee, critical, adulterous parents made her crave a fella who was stable, honest, and faithful. Nice twist on the typical redemption of the scoundrel motif. Although the book lost steam and momentum in the last 50 pages or so (and that was even with the insertion - tee hee - of the coital union between the 2 main characters), it was still - for the most part - a nicely paced, fast read. I think the loss of momentum at the end mostly had to do with the development of all of these secondary characters and their relationships. The book was being set up for more in this series or spin-off series that will revolve around these secondary characters …I think I might have read somewhere on the back cover that this was prequel….I don't know. When my mom is through with these books (she buys them real cheap at Sam's club) she sends them on to me and then I donate them to the library or Goodwill …at some point I probably will or already have encountered these characters in other books. While a nice, respectable 3 stars, this book did not inspire me to voraciously hunt down the rest of the series.
There is one point I will quibble at more length - the obligatory loss of the maiden-head scene. If the author was going to go to all the trouble to justify this pre-marital sex scene - why not just go all the way and have Angeline not be a virgin - or an avid horseback rider or something. Even though this was one of the more tastefully done versions of this scene I've probably read - please - I've never met or heard tell of a real woman who wants to be reminded of one of the most awkward and emotionally uncomfortable moments of her life - even in wish fulfillment, idealized, fantasy land - even with soft focus and gauze and vaseline smeared over the camera lens. Women shit themselves in child birth too - but nobody is bringing that up repeatedly and obsessively in media entertainment - well at least not in the stuff I'm reading or watching. But there must be people out there - readers and writers alike - who must find this sexy or emotionally satisfying or liberating or something. I'll try not to be too judgmental. Who am I to say what is sexy and what is not.
In the spirit of internet oversharing - and why not - it's winter here in America's heartland and it's round about lunch time so that means it's full on duskish outside - I will share my top 2 sex fantasies. Wait, before you get all alarmed and closet the children away, trust, me they are very tame - strictly PG - I'm not E.L. fifty shades of whatever here.
2.) Tom Waits is taking me to see Jesus while singing "Waltzing Matilda" into the side of my neck….or maybe the back of my neck - OK I veered a little bit from PG there - sorry.
1.) I meet Patton Oswald at a party.(I actually had a dream about this) I am my middle aged self in my twenty something body. We spend all night lying on a bed facing each other, completely clothed talking to each other. Meanwhile, the party continues on around us. I'm mentally my middle aged self so that sex doesn't alarm or frighten me or make me want to cry huddled in a corner while I have what feels like an out of body experience. Between the two of us - Patton and I - it is an unspoken thing. It will happen soon - probably when the party dies down - and nobody is nervous or upset or overly giddy or anxious or pushy about it. But right now, the conversation is so good - so funny and earnest and revealing - that sex can wait.
It might help to explain that I have real professional crushes on both of these men. I admire them both so much as artists and Patton Oswald is so fucking funny and such a really underrated actor…it makes me weak in the knees. In real life, if either of them were to show up at my door expecting sex or long drawn out conversations, I would call the police. In my imagination however..... I know,these sex scenes are not for everybody. But if Karen's reviews of monster erotica have taught me anything, it's that there is a niche market for everything. There is probably someone out there right now, even as I type this, writing Tom Waits and Patton Oswald porn. ...more
There were some really interesting things about this book that would definitely be a fun read for a lot of people interested in A very Cranky 3 stars
There were some really interesting things about this book that would definitely be a fun read for a lot of people interested in this genre – (it's like your typical crime scene procedural/ let's solve the mystery but with magic ala urban fantasy) but.... there was also a lot of things about this book that I found very annoying. And these things made me very cranky because I really like this author and this very cool world that she has created. First, the annoying.
First Person Narration: Most of this book is narrated in first person by the main character, Bonita Torres. Unfortunately, Bonnie's narration comes across very braggy and annoying and I found myself not liking her as much as I did in the first book. The overwhelming self centered - ness of the narration skews and warps the story. Bonnie is so busy telling us things about herself and what she feels, and what magical talent she is really good at, and what she is not really good at (but that's ok b/c she is cool enough to have enough self acceptance and self knowledge to know what her shortcomings are), and here are the really great things about her personality, and here is a list of her character shortcomings (but let's not call them flaws b/c these imperfections make her really cute and irresistible )– oh and did she mention how sexy and attractive she is and how much other people find her sexy and attractive – and how she finds everyone she works with so very sexy and attractive. That the narrator was bi didn't bother me – that it was a rather forced and unbelievable character detail did bother me. Bonnie's sexual proclivity was just a device to remind the reader time and time again of her attractiveness.
Bonnie reminds me of one of those girls (or guys) who no matter what the subject or the trial has to prove herself/himself the most knowledgeable and the most overworked. If you had been up all night studying or working then they have had been up for three. If you are hungry and have skipped lunch – they haven't eaten for a week – just gum and ice cubes. If you thought the guy who sat next to you on the bus might have been flirting with you – they will tell you about how their married boss and 4 other coworkers want to sleep with them and are dying of unrequited love. I found the narrator pretty much like that – a slightly sad and pathetic and annoying braggart right out of a SNL sketch– not the quirky confident vixen that I think Gilman was going for.
Because most of the story and other characters are viewed through the biased filter of Bonnie's constant stream of babbling, irritating yammer, the rest of the characters ( her coworkers at PUPI – paranormal unaffiliated private investigators) seem stereotypical and flat . There is the uptight over achieving blond Barbie, the 2 geeky nerds who are almost interchangeable, the jock, and, of course, the boss with the smoldering gaze and the smoldering good looks with the hard exterior that hides his sensitivity and nurturing and feelings of lurve for Bonnie . The only surprise to the characterizations was the other boss – Ian – he was actually an interesting mix of player/ salesman/ soulless chameleon who could pull up sincerity and empathy on cue. The whole thing with Ian's sister as a continuing nemesis was kind of flimsy, but he was the one character that I actually wanted to learn more about.
Over explanation to the point of yammering about details and not enough explanation of plot: I really did like the CSI with magic procedural feel – but it got really bogged down by the “you go girl” ( I'm not claiming to be cool here myself) pat that Bonnie narrates with. So busy with confusing intra/ meta metaphors and analogies (yes like the SATs) to over explain and re-explain magical politics and procedures that there were some plot details that got lost and murky. The Pusher that Ian's sister hires was never fully explained or followed through on – it's possible it was a tease for the next book in the series – but it did really feel like a dropped detail. The rationale and reasoning for the initial crime – the attempted rape and murder of the attacker - was very weak and kind of rushed at the end. Also more information about the Kir-Rin and his relationship with the girl would have been really interesting and helped to fill out the background of the story. Fill me in on that stuff – that was interesting – don't explain to me for the ten thousandth time about how current (magic) runs along side electricity and is bad for appliances and computers – even if it is explained with some pithy descriptors. Some detail about how a talent (a person who can use magic) exists in our modern world is nice and really helps to ground the reader in this world. Geeking out on me too much with over-descriptions – so much so that the magic descriptions start to read like a computer manual - actually muscles out cohesive plot development and characterization – not so good.
And now I will talk about the good – which is still very good even though I don't talk about it for nearly as long: So this is a grouchy 3 stars . Despite my annoyances with writing style and characterization I do love this world of magic that Gilman has created. And when her explanations are economical and Gilman is able to tamp down a little on the banter and “cool girl” short hand speak and flare her joy in the world she has created is evident. Her fun in writing this becomes my fun in reading it; that's when it's really fun to geek out with her. Not to mention there was a seriously cool, kick-ass fight scene towards the end where the 2 ladies of the agency take on 4 thugs using current to take out their attackers out. More of that please – that was seriously awesome.
And even though I just spent several paragraphs crapping on it; I really do like this author and this series. I just found this installation in the series a little disappointing. I will still probably read the next one - still a very fun read
Why I Like the Zombie TV, Movies, and Fiction that I do Like: I'm not really a horror fan. Serial killers and psychopaths with hatchets I can t3 Stars
Why I Like the Zombie TV, Movies, and Fiction that I do Like: I'm not really a horror fan. Serial killers and psychopaths with hatchets I can take or leave. Vampires and werewolves etc. are ok, but I like them more as part of a romance or some sort of mystery to be solved - very girlie, yes, I know. The zombie stuff I like tends to have a lot of humor - Zombie Land, the first 2 books in this series. I also like the books etc. that deal with unique and interesting solutions to the day to day survival issues - the nuts and bolts of the survivors' everyday existence - food, weapons, medical care, hauling shit, transportation etc. The Walking Dead (tv show), when they are not so busy talking about their feelings and relationship issues (sheesh, don't they realize that they are in the zombie apocalypse and not high school) gives really cool examples of this. And the second book in this series, Flip this Zombie, also very nicely addressed the day to day - survivors huddling mid-day in a library or book store to beef up on survivor skills and diesel engine maintenance. And lastly, in my zombie media I want to have the absolute shit scared out of me because I really am just in it for the roller coaster, adrenaline rush of the terror catharsis. Metaphors for the human condition and examinations of cultural and sociological issues are fine and dandy (see my review of Zone One) - yes, yes - society is our salvation and our ruin - we are the disease yada, yada, yada. Basically when our sense of normal gets pulled out from under us- like when the country and the world are in the middle of an economic recession - the zombies seem to come creeping in. You there - Zombie Lore, make me think and ruminate on my sad, sack human existence all that you want - completely depress the shit out of me and lead me to an existential cries - if you must - but you better scare the shit of me in the process.
Why I Like This Series: For me, this series pretty much hits 3 for 3 - humor, interesting day to day survival information, and horror - ok it's a little light on the last. The horror isn't as sphincter clenching as say Dawn of the Dead, (which I still can not watch in one sitting), 28 Days Later (omfg - the zombies are running), or The Walking Dead when it's hitting it's stride - but I'm a wimp so horror light is more than enough for me.
Also, I really like the main characters in this series and their relationship. David and Sarah's relationship is stable and strong but not necessarily boring. The strength of their relationship actually makes them stronger as a zombie fighting unit - you know all of that couple's bickering during an zombie apocalypse will only make you zombie fodder.
But…the 3 stars here is mostly my appreciation for the series as a whole - because this book is more of a 2 1/2 or 2 3/4 stars kind of book.
Why This Book is Kind of Disappointing: This book is definitely the weakest of the 3 in the Living With the Dead series. The pacing is way off - David and Sarah spent way too many chapters in the crazy person's cult in the first couple of chapters, while the whole finale and storming of the(view spoiler)[ Mid-Western wall (hide spoiler)] seemed rushed and throw-away. Also, Petersen had set up some interesting premises at the very end, but they got kind of crushed in the momentum of the closing of the book and were never fully explored. The whole (view spoiler)[normal life is happening just on the other side of the Mid-Western Wall (hide spoiler)] - was haunting and creepy and resonated in a kind of immigration, economic crisis Wall Street haves vs. the rest of have-nots kind of way. There was a lot of over-reliance (without bringing any fresh wit or spark to the construct) on some of the old tried and true zombie genre ruts - another madman's cult (remember the first book and the religious cult in the hotel), run ins with celebrities ala Zombie Land (although the aging, drug-addicted, rockstar was kind of amusing), and of course big bad government conspiracies.
This was kind of a weak installation (or is this a finale?) to what was mostly a fun and amusing series. I recommend it for fans of the series, but it is not very strong as a stand alone novel.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is one of those books for me - like Robin McKinley's Beauty. It has a special place on my book shelves and I come back to it again and aga4 Stars
This is one of those books for me - like Robin McKinley's Beauty. It has a special place on my book shelves and I come back to it again and again. Yes, believe it or not this feminist manifesto, revenge fantasy, social satire sits on the same shelf as Robin McKinley. This is a significant book for me; and that is all the connection that these two books need for me to keep them side by side on my bookshelf.
In a nutshell - and I will try not to bore too much with plot synopsis or all of the theories of feminist literary criticism that this book invokes - this is the story of Ruth's revenge on Mary Fischer, the woman who stole her husband. Ruth is a woman outside the bounds of what the world traditionally would call attractive - she is plain. The woman who stole her husband, the romance novelist Mary Fischer, is diminutive and precious - in affectation and appearance she is the very embodiment of the feminine ideals. Ruth, of course, is the exact opposite of this - she is tall and broad and strong - better suited to the everyday physical duties that come with the role of wife and mother than to the fainting couch. After Ruth is left by her husband, instead of succumbing to despair or doing the makeover/ find your self esteem/ "you go girl"/ win your husband back but decide that you don't want him dance, Ruth plots revenge. She financially, emotionally, and physically destroys Mary Fischer - and her husband too - sort of. Ruth turns her back on the almost sacramental belief system of romantic love that is surgically wrapped around the very strands of the female DNA in Western society to become an acolyte of revenge. Ruth sheds her sex - well not really she is still female - but she sheds all of the preconceived notions and beliefs that go along with the feminine in this society. Ruth gives up love to un-wife, un-mother, and essentially un-woman herself to become the she-devil - the making of the witch.
But It's Really a Fairytale: And in reading other peoples' review of this book, I noticed that a lot of reviewers criticized Weldon's intractable, inflexible characterizations. The characters don't really experience anything that could really be called "growth" or "change" - no levitating out of the grooves of their ruts to grasp a glimpse of the objective. Ruth's transformation from mournful, mousy housewife to she-devil being the only exception of course. The characters all seem to be riding unyielding rails that drive them to their bizarre and sometimes horrifying ends. But I think Weldon did this by design. The characters are meant to be as rigid as the archetypes in a fairytale because Weldon is telling us a deeply disturbing and twisted little fairy tale here - an unfiltered by Disney- Brother's Grimn story. And this is supported by the tone and feel of the novel - especially the haunting repetition of the phrase - "Mary Fischer lives in a castle by the sea…" that opens almost every chapter.
This book was written in the 80's. Does it still even hold up today - is it pertinent or is it dated? Well, it is a little bit dated - some of the social and feminist issues Weldon writes about and satirizes - well yes, there have been some gains. The issues have become more subtle and nuanced - women in the work force, careers vs. motherhood, the welfare state etc., etc. - the war limps on but it has changed and shifted battlefields. I still find this a significant work - still an engaging read - just for what it says about romantic love, women and their rage, and how living up to the impossible standards of the feminine ideal is dangerous for both of the sexes.
Me and the She-Devil: I first read this book in my 20's and what I appreciated most was the unflinching characterization of Ruth. She is the archetypal plain woman/ beast of burden who despite not being the societal idea of sexual attractiveness has this undeniable power that pulls people to her. Ruth claims her sexuality with a frankness and self-awareness that gives her power and makes her a magnet for other people. After her transformation to she-devil, Ruth is never without a whole cadre of willing lovers and admirers. But things change in the second half of the novel, as the reader jumps ship from fairytale to Frankenstein. In the second half of the novel, Ruth endures surgery after surgery to physically change herself - to force her physique into the narrow margins of the feminine ideal. Ruth jumps ship from revolutionary to player; from "monstrosity" to goddess. But Ruth the monster was the character that I most identified with; the character who actually gave me the most hope (and hope is a very funny thing to find in this novel - because this is not a very hopeful story). In her planning and her schemes - even as she derides and sheds her old "plain" physical form, she knows herself and accepts herself. In my teenage years I spent far too much time mourning the distance between my physical self and the physical ideals set up for my sex. Every woman out there could write their own novel about this - the hate/shame game that American women play when it comes to their bodies. Coming across this book in my 20's - strangely - allowed me to step outside of that game and to gain some self acceptance and self knowledge. The body ages and fades - but the will and the imagination… that is the true spark of the physical. So I had/ have hope, that in accepting myself I would find someone, at some time who would accept me as well.
Reading this again now - after taking on the mantle of wife and motherhood - the book means other things to me as well. Finding that anger - and boy have I had anger - slinking, hiding, deep dark below the surface anger. And boy does Ruth discover her anger and transmutes it into a power and will that could practically destroy the universe. And I see the possibilities of the un-love - of taking up your anger as your lover and your life - just like Ruth does - but it is as much of a trap as some of the silly notions of romantic love that Weldon is so busily skewering. For some reason, I have made this book my touchstone, my talisman. In my youth and even now, I use it to tap into my anger - to seduce it to the surface - to make myself a portal through which the anger can harmlessly escape - like steam - blasting its way out and through. Better to make myself a portal for this rage than to leave myself a vessel that anger will eventually corrode and corrupt.
And I have no idea if any of this is even close to what Weldon intended for her readers - and I realize I'm getting a little new-agey/ self helpey/ hippie chick here - blame it on my being in my 20's during the 90's. (In the 90's, everywhere you looked women were running with wolves and bubble gum wadding magic and psychiatry so that we could become whole, complete people.) This novel is about a woman who in her loss finds strength, self-knowledge, and power, but she doesn't use these things for self-acceptance. This is a novel about a woman who accepts and understands her anger, but she uses this power to practically destroy herself (view spoiler)[(because at the end of the novel she has legally killed off her Ruth identity to become the physical re-animation of Mary Fischer) (hide spoiler)] and the lives of those around her. And ironically, in reading this - coming back to it again and again - I have learned more about self-acceptance and letting go for myself- learned more of hope and peace. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I completely forgot that I read this book. I was just browsing my shelves and this popped up and I was like "oh yeah, I read that book."
I completely forgot that I read this book. I was just browsing my shelves and this popped up and I was like "oh yeah, I read that book."
Briefly, my impressions, because by now, quite some time has passed. She is quite a charming and funny person whose life is not quite tragic enough (or really at all - and this she freely admits - she has had a fairly cushy life - daughter of upper middle class professionals who loved her dearly and didn't abuse her) to quite fill out a whole memoir/ comedic proflile in her early 30's. I was impressed to hear about her accomplishments as a writer - I didn't know she was a writer and director as well as an actress on The Office. But she's not quite fucked up enough - no drugs/rehab/or misspent youth - to fill out a whole book, so quite a large portion of this book is filled out with funny lists.
And while her leap to fame can not be considered meteroic - it was a couple of very profound leap frog jumps (which include an Off-Broadway play that she co-wrote and starred in with her best friend). You can't quite hate her for her completely charmed life; she seems sincerely and endearingly grateful and cocky and spoiled all at the same time. It seemed like she would actually be fun to hang out with.
In Conclusion: I chuckled out loud a couple of times - but I was glad I didn't pay retail for this - I read this on a library loan. I'm totally going to watch her new show on Fox:) ...more
Oh God I'm so behind on my reviews and I haven't been doing any reading at all lately. Maybe it's for the best - I can deliver a more concise a2 Stars
Oh God I'm so behind on my reviews and I haven't been doing any reading at all lately. Maybe it's for the best - I can deliver a more concise and streamlined review because only the cleanest and strongest impressions of this book still exist for me.
It's just your run of the mill romance novel with a second rate "who stole the family jewels" mystery with a superficial, sugary icing exterior of "hey kids let's put on a show". In the case of this book, the “show within the show” framework is a documentary being shot in the inherited mansion of our heroine. And it has all of the nuance of a book report, as there are random info dumps regarding the documentary film-making process. There was something kind of forced about the documentary interview scenes as a means for the hero (the documentary film maker/ interviewer) and heroine (interviewee) to come to a mutual understanding of one another. I wanted that moment of mutual insight to really ping and it just seemed trite and obvious. Hero realizes how strong, beautiful, insightful and womanly the heroine is – heroine begins to see the thinking, feeling, person under the asshole disguise. This is usually the point in a romance novel that I enjoy the most (besides the sex scenes where the woman comes until her eyes vibrate out of her sockets) – the conversation, the recognition – oh, I know who you are, the attraction and connection. This book didn't really do it for me...that way.
But that is not the reason for the 2 stars. This is actually a pretty well written romance - one I would normally give the obligatory - all encompassing 3 stars - love-hate tension between hero and heroine that ultimately becomes love, frisky banter, heroine's obligatory emotional growth and conquering of self esteem issues, fun sex scenes. The book hit all of the marks that you would expect in a contemporary romance novel - it should have been 3 stars all the way...
The basic premise of how the lovers first meet - it set my teeth on edge. The hero and heroine (sorry I can't remember their names) are long time childhood acquaintances that went to school together forever. In their senior year of high school, their childish name calling and bickering becomes something more. Of course, in her high school years the voluptuous and buxom heroine was out and out pudgy. And of course, heroine loses her virginity to hero, who it turns out was setting her up for a bet. His creepy friends bet him $200.00 to get him to take her virginity. And of course it all unravels in a dramatic scene in the lunchroom. And I really appreciated how the author handled this scene and brought us into the heroine's head. We clearly see how badly she has been traumatized by this situation, but still, she doesn't allow herself to become a victim.
This scene is the first chapter. These are the 2 lovers who end up together, for whom I'm supposed to be rooting. Uugh. Sorry, I just felt that the emotional betrayal of the bet was too much for the couple to overcome. Not that I feel that the heroine should hold a grudge or not get over this...yes – please forgive, reconcile and move on with your life – but 15 years later re-unite in a steamy sexcapade ….ooooo – really not for me. This set up totally bummed me out and jarred me from the lighthearted mood of the romance. That the hero actually had sex with the heroine for the bet– that was the line in the sand for me. Make the bet be that he had to kiss her or record her admitting her undying love – or even take her to the prom and dump pig's blood on her – those are situations from which I can lightheartedly believe that the couple can resurrect a healthy and positive sexual relationship – not the sex bet – ick, yuck.
So that's what I have to say about the book – the rest of this is going to be a tangent about author/ reader relationships on Goodreads – so if you're not interested feel free to move on – can't say you haven't been warned.
A lot of very recent and public ill will between authors and the reviewers who didn't like their books has seriously bummed me out and made me very deeply ponder this whole writer/ reviewer relationship (or even if there should be one) here on Goodreads. And I'm bringing this up here with this book, because this is a book I didn't particularly like – and I tried to imagine Ms. Andersen coming across my slightly snarky, little review and tried to put myself in her shoes. Would I want Ms. Andersen to then come after me on my own thread? How would that make me feel, if here I was writing my glib little review – thinking that I was only one of a very small group of people to actually read this review – just shouting into the wind and then the wind bitch-slapped me in response (and let's be honest any kind of author response – even benign or cordial would make me piss my pants)? Thinking all of this, I suddenly felt very uncomfortable and some of the pleasure of reading my books and writing my little book reviews eeked away from me.
Why am I here? Why do I do this? ( I seriously wish it were for the money – did anybody else read about that guy on the yahoo news feed who writes glowing reviews for authors for a fee and then posts them on Amazon and the ilk – he was making $28,000/ month). For me, I originally came to Goodreads to find a kind of on-line book club – time and transportation prevent me from participating in real life ones. That isn't exactly what I found. I completely understand the Facebook loneliness epidemic now. There's nothing more gloom and loneliness inducing than the entity of internet social media. If you're not careful ,I could see how it could just totally reinforce your feelings of being a molecule of piss in a broiling, uncaring ocean. It's not as if you just jump on here and people are just automatically interacting and commenting on your reviews – like you suddenly become a literary Norm at a bookish Cheers. And while I have not been trolled, I have had my fair share of friend collectors and publishing house interns try to glaum onto me to form their no-cost/low-cost focus groups. So it wasn't the on-line book club of which I fantasized; or the on-line interaction that I hoped – I still do really find a great deal of pleasure in being here reading books, writing my reviews, and reading other people's reviews. Sometimes I will make comments, but only occasionally - passively from the sidelines. I like the creativity of writing my little reviews here. It forces my brain to work and remain nimble. I also like the aha moment of discovering someone else's review and realizing that they felt the same way about a book that I did – and of course I've also found some really cool authors and books that I wouldn't have otherwise. So, in this way, the internet does shrink a little bit for me.
How should authors and reviewers/readers interact? IMO – as little as possible. I think I would be just as embarrassed by an author's response to one of my glowing, gushy, total nerdy fan-girl reviews as I would be to an author's response to one of my negative/ snarky reviews. I believe that it is Goodreads responsibility to create programs and forums and formats that allow for positive author/ reader interaction and to help bring attention to some of the truly great undiscovered authors floating around out there. In the same way that I don't think that an author deserves to be trolled or harassed on their own website ( I do believe that they have the right to block or delete unflattering comments – even if that may seem vain – they have the right to preserve the tone and atmosphere of their own piece of the internet )I don't think that it is very cool for an author to drop deus ex-machina style into a thread of someone else's review of their work. Goodreads can only be seen as a marketing tool for its authors; I sincerely hope none of them are taking writing advice from any of us rabble here at Goodreads. I would wish for any author a group of true-blue, scathingly honest, yet gentle editors and readers for that purpose. Because good, bad, or indifferent – we're just the rabble – and the noise we make about an author's work – good, bad, or indifferent only serves to bring attention to that work. I'm also a firm believer in the idea that once that movie, play, book, work of art is put out there – it really doesn't belong to just the author or artist anymore – it belongs to anyone who comes across it and experiences it. It's like jazz – the author just gives us the first few notes and we are all just riffing here. So good, bad, or indifferent – our reviews have got to be flattering right – it's an honor to be talked about even if it is unflattering – better than feeling like a molecule of piss in a broiling ocean, right? So my advice to authors (as if anybody cares) is to ignore those little pesky author dashboards and to just rise above. Because while there is no such thing as bad press, bad behavior will be seen and judged for as long as there is an internet -meaning – for all intent and purposes – forever.
My responsibility as reviewer: I can only speak for myself here; I would never presume to impose my views on any other reviewer and I will defend the right of any reviewer to say anything they like about a book – snarky, self-serving, gushy sycophantistic, or apathetic. But for myself, I really agonized about this. What right do I have to say anything about anybody else's work? Also, I didn't like the idea that my words would either purposefully or involuntarily cause someone else pain. Because, let's face it, it's far too easy – far too much fun to get all quippy and condemning... and that's just a slippery slope. I've read many funny, terribly caustic and scathing reviews of books here on Goodreads, but they were all of really well-known, very successful authors. I would hope that Stephenie Myers is not ever here, skulking about reading her reviews on Goodreads, but if she were – I would think the cash from her multiple best sellers and block bluster movies would cushion the blow to her pride. Besides she probably doesn't have time to loll around Goodreads; she's probably way too busy counting her money in her special money counting room. My hubbie and I had a whole long conversation about this – and it all came down to that addendum to the Golden Rule – don't say anything about anyone on the internet that (given the right circumstances) you wouldn't say to their face. And I took a long hard look at what reviews I've written – and I feel pretty comfortable. So here are my personal rules for reviewing 1)try to always back up my comments and criticisms with sort of specific examples (but let's be real – these aren't English papers and I'm leaking short term memory like a shot up dinghy).
2)Even if my review is drifting off into snarksville – try to be balanced and fair – try to find the positive and not make too much fun of the negative – this is a really hard one.
3)Remember who the author is – if this is a new or under-reviewed author, maybe wear the kit gloves and err towards the positive - if this is a mega, best selling author - the gloves can come off.
Sorry Ms. Andersen to hijack your review – but this is what I think – if anyone cares....more
God it's been ages since I've read this - so forgive - I definitely splinter in my completetionist tendencies. So here goes nothing - this is m4 Stars
God it's been ages since I've read this - so forgive - I definitely splinter in my completetionist tendencies. So here goes nothing - this is my review.
My overall reaction after reading this book was that I couldn't believe that I hadn't ever heard of this author before - I was really bowled over by her writing style and the mood and world she created - a kind of alternate universe, steam punkish, slightly Russian folk tale flavored, Robin McKinleyesque -dark kind of kingdom. And folk tale (not to belittle the text) seems just about right to describe this book - a very profound folk tale that looks at humanity and our little, stupid problems and squabbles through God's (or some sort of omniscient distant observer) lens. There is a kind of zoom in and zoom out kind of quality to the story and the society that is illustrated. The "zoom out" comes with the gargoyles. The gargoyles are ancient creatures who carved the stones that created the city. And even though they are the creator's of the city; they live on the fringes of their city - outside and above it - largely ignored by the city's inhabitants . The "zoom in" comes with Mattie's story. She is a high functioning liberated automaton with a precarious relationship with her creator. Although liberated, her creator, Loharri, alone retains the key that will wind her heart and keep her alive. The story of the novel cuts back and forth between these two groups of characters - the gargoyles observations of the city and the coming revolution and their distant concerns about their own future and Mattie's story - her day to day struggles to navigate her city and maneuver within the society that just barely tolerates her existence as an independent, thinking, feeling machine. The novel, at least at the beginning, follows Mattie as she does the mundane exercises of daily living - finding paying clients, gathering the materials essential for her career as an alchemist,trying to make friends - all of the typical concerns, needs, and wants of the individual. She is only tangentially aware or even concerned with the coming social upheaval.
This book is just full to the brim with interesting themes - like little Russian nesting dolls - stacked one inside the other: What are the basic rights and freedoms of any human in a society? Are these freedoms inherent? Mattie goes around demanding her rights as an individual and her independence. She expects them to be conferred upon her with no issue or struggle - she is almost - at times - petulant on this point. It is clear that her creator Loharri sees her as a spoiled child. And there were times when I was reading this where I found her childish expectations of privilege irritating - but I think that was Sedia's point. Pulled out of the context of a human struggle - merely a humanoid struggle - the reader (well at least this reader) was brought up short a couple of times when I found myself irritated that Mattie was whining her rights as an individual. She didn't deserve to have these things just handed to her, she needed to earn them - I would think for a flash - and that would trip me up. Is that how God (or gods or the universal, omniscient presence) sees us - humanity - we demand and we demand for a terrifying freedom and responsibility that we really don't completely understand? Presented out of the context of a human struggle, this theme becomes almost absurdly abstract. But this is not to say that Sedia is arguing for social hierarchy and class privilege, I believe her book is quietly trying to argue just the opposite. But seeing the human struggle for rights and independence through the perspective of a non-human puts a new spin on things - forces you to see it from a new angle - the prism is being lit from a completely different angle.
Ditto for Sedia's portrayal of the feminine ideal in society - new perspective is gained because we see it through Mattie's inhuman eyes. Mattie struggles under the inhibiting influence of her role as a female in her society - a limiting corset and crinoline are actually built into her armature/ skeleton. When faced with physical violence, she is unable to defend herself because she has never been programmed to fight. Despite her physical advantage, Mattie must submit to the abuse because she doesn't know how to defend herself - very sad and laughably absurd at the same time. And this same man that beats her, a social terrorist, Mattie - of course - falls hopelessly in love with him and allows him unearned intimacies. If this were a current romance novel and Mattie's character were a human - the character of the terrorist would be swooned over - their attraction and romance would not be questioned but celebrated. But in this novel, Mattie's un-human nature puts a wedge in things - a one stepped removed distancing that makes her attraction and their unequal romance both sad and ludicrous.
And all through the book the creator/ created; parent/child/; ruler/disciple; God/human dynamic is portrayed with such ferocity and violence. There is a doomed finality to these relationships in Sedia's book. The subjects destroy their king and some of the court in a truly grizzly terrorist, bomb attack. Mattie's golem must be created with blood. In the end, despite the hopes of this reader, Loharri can not forgive Mattie's unthinking and fumbling betrayal and he destroys her and himself with the fiery vengeance of a scorned lover.
Loharri's relationship with Mattie was truly bothersome to me. He literally controls the key to her existence. And you can understand why he refuses to give the key over to her - he would fade from Mattie's existence just as surely as the gargoyles are fading from the city. His expectations of Mattie scored incredibly high on the ick scale for me. Loharri has a paternal - yes - almost God-like role in Mattie's life - that his purpose in creating an intelligent and chatty little maid-servant was to have a sexual relationship is pretty clear. She was to be his perfect companion and lover, but Mattie never sees him or their relationship that way. In the end I wanted Loharri's position to shift - his viewpoint to become un-askew. In the end, I wanted him to become the perfect, forgiving father, because although Mattie's sins were just as great, I did feel more compassion towards her because her transgressions were born of ignorance and inexperience. I wanted Loharri, as the creator, to rise to the higher level - and it just was not to be.
This was an intriguing novel about God, the destructive backlash of creation, society, and humanity, but Sedia, at the end, offers no pat answers or easy explanations. At the end, the reader is definitely left unsettled and disquieted. This book - at least in tone - reads like a fairly tale or folk tale - but there is definitely no little trite happily-ever-after ending here - Sedia went for much bolder and stronger choices. I will definitely be seeking out more of her work....more
I have a huge crush on this book - I haven't laughed this hard in ages and I was recovering from food poisoning when I read this so laughing ab4 stars
I have a huge crush on this book - I haven't laughed this hard in ages and I was recovering from food poisoning when I read this so laughing absolutely tortured my vomit/ abdominal/ chest muscles - but still I couldn't put the book down.
It reminded me a lot of what I have always, formerly, loved in Charlaine Harris' and Laurell K. Hamilton's books. In the former, Harris knows how to write about grieving and loss through the persona of a survivor with a very self aware sense of humor (I think Sookie Stackhouse is one funny bitch and I mean bitch in the best of all possible ways here). And before Laurell K. took that strange left turn and pornville, her early Anita Blake novels had this great noir/ voodoo/ necromancer vibe.
So imagine the best of those two authorial worlds co-mingling over Seattle. And that's where Sam, the main character, comes in. He is a 20 something college drop-out, slacker, comic nerd who happens to discover that he is a necromancer. Zombies and necromancers are my all time favorites of the paranormal universe and, in my opinion, necromancers haven't gotten nearly enough page time.
So what I liked about the book: really friggin funny, nice use of my all time favorites of the undead, nice mood, tone, rhythm and pace to this novel - I tore right through it.
Some minor pet peeves: The title - what a god awful title - I think I have mentioned before how much I hate when urban-paranormal books have crappy pop culture puns for titles so I won't bang on that drum too much here. The title sucks, but don't let that dissuade you- this is still a really funny and well put together novel - I promise.
I really liked that the main character, for once, is a guy and we're getting things from the guy's perspective. But there were a couple of times (forgive me Ms. McBride) where I found myself thinking - wait a minute - would a young dude really be thinking this way?
And the last of my pet peeves - fucking werewolves - my least favorite breed of the urban, paranormal universe. They seem to be constantly invading and fucking up the plots, story lines, and characters of some of my (former) favorite urban/ paranormal fantasy series - Sookie Stackhouse and Anita Blake to be exact. And I don't have anything, really, against the idea of werewolves - the premise of these type of creatures is really promising. But they always seem to come along in a book or series when the author seems to be running out of ideas and then everybody has to get all bogged down with the alpha/ omega- fight to the death bullshit of pack politics. So although I really liked Brid's character - kick-ass, take no prisoners, warrior princess, she-wolf - I really just wanted more zombies and raising the dead and gallows humor.
Even still, I will definitely be reading more in this series. ...more
I've gotten behind on my reviewing here, so this book has already been returned to the library, so please forgive if I've lost some of the3 1/4 Stars
I've gotten behind on my reviewing here, so this book has already been returned to the library, so please forgive if I've lost some of the names of the characters.
This was a book that popped up on my goodreads recommends list and it sounded sort of like a novel version of The Royal Tannenbaums - a film fave of mine - so I took the bait and arranged to get it through my inter-library loan system.
It's kind of a Dickensian, sprawling family drama, bisected by seething satire of LA and Hollywood. But from what I understand of Wagner, he is someone firmly entrenched in the Hollywood scene, being also a screenwriter and director himself - so he kind of has a front row seat to all of those Hollywood shennanigans that he likes to write about. My other experience with Wagner is the film version of his other novel in this cell phone series I'm Losing You. I haven't read that book, but Wagner wrote the screenplay himself and directed - so I think the film gave me a pretty good idea of the book. I'm Losing You, if not warm and fuzzy exactly, was haunting - I thought about the movie for days - and I don't think that I could say that I actually enjoyed the movie, but it did really get to me. When I found out the connection between I'll Let You Go and I'm Losing You, I was kind of disappointed that the former didn't take more of hold on me - really saturate my skin so to speak.
Let me start with what I didn't like: The seething satire became a little soul sucking and got on my nerves - it read like a Hollywood insiders inside joke written for his other Hollywood insider friends - ugh. The "Dear Reader" narrator and footnotes felt completely out of place with his withering satire and the narration was kind of clunky in its execution. Over use of creepily precocious and adult sounding children as mouth pieces for the writers philosophical, social, and political ideas. I really don't think that even a genius child and one who grew up in the upper class of the Hollywood elite, upon hearing the name of William Morris, would make an automatic jump to the Victorian designer and not the Hollywood talent agency. All of the characters were unlikeable except poor, orphan Amaryllis (who is like the Job of this story). I don't think we were meant to like them - but I have to say that the problems of the uber rich - if they are not presented in the right way -draw no sympathy from me. And I wanted to like them, wanted to root for them - and it is the job of the author to help me understand the unlikeable characters so that I'm drawn in - and I wasn't. I really didn't care. And the the good characters were so wimpy. Like the baker's wife,she hemmed and hawed about what the right move to make was – hiding her selfishness behind indecision. And then when acts of kindness were performed, they usually, more often than not, made the situation – especially in the case of Amaryllis – much worse. I don't think that Wagner could disengage himself enough from being a snarky, commentator, when the time came, to be able to give the reader an objective and yet not emotionally dislocated portrait of his characters. And then there was Topsy - the only real innocent and truly noble character in the novel - the hub of the wheel for all of the other characters to spoke out from. I got the sense that Wagner really wanted us to like this guy - but I just couldn't - as a character he made my skin crawl with his asexual, "King of Hearts isn't mental illness fun and freeing" kind of characterization --- ick.
So why is this a worthwhile book and author?" So despite the push pull of the writing style (I want to try and pull you in with characterization and then push you away with biting satire) I feel like I need to champion this dude. On Goodreads, this writer is totally under-read and totally under-reviewed. He comes from the era of late 90's early 2000 writers/ artists/ commentators etc. who don't seem to have been able to make the jump over the fiery chasm of 9/11 to find any social or artistic recognition here on the other side. Which is kind of a shame, because despite my beefs,the man can really write and create characters and an engaging and twisted story that really does draw you in.
And he has this really weird and whimsical and raw - part sentimental-pollyanna/ part cynical satirist style. It's like Wagner can't decide which side he wants to come down on so he smushes the sentimental and the satirical together into one novel. And I know, just a paragraph ago I was complaining about this because the transitions between the 2 poles of the writing style were giving me whiplash. Even still, despite the shuddering, clunkiness, I was moved - the novel broke my heart. Because it's like we're watching Wagner's personal struggle to reconcile the absurd selfishness of modern society (read Hollywood) with the equally absurd yet hopeful Hollywood movie formula. And this struggle between realism/ satire/ and starry-eyed hopefulness gets all wrapped and twisted around the main love interests of the novel – Amaryllis and Tull. And their relationship broke my heart and saved this novel for me. It sounds corny, but I liked the hopefulness of their love for one another and I liked the slightly chagrined and tremblingly honest and unapologetic way in which Wagner presented them to the reader. Like Wagner was telling us "I know I've dragged you through the shittiest, most vain, and most shallow aspects of the human condition - but here are Amaryllis and Tull and their star crossed love - have some hope." I think Wagner brought them together in a really sweet way too. Because in the timeline of the novel, despite following the child characters into adulthood, we don't see the fireworks like explosion of the consummation of their true love. It's a slow and gradual and tentatively searching union that Wagner only hints at - giving the reader the image of doors that the lovers still have to pass through before they find each other. So we don't get to see them come together, but Wagner gives us hope that it will happen and that it will be as happy and unexpected and inevitable as one day opening a door and finding the love of your life standing there.
Ok, I'm making it sound much cornier than he did. Trust me, Wagner presents their relationship shatteringly well.
So despite my gripes – more people need to read this author and this novel. Hence my extra ¼ of a star....more