Wednesday, July 30, 2014

You Know What? (A Rant)

Twitter just doesn't have enough damned characters! I need to express my feelings and thoughts, dammit! Is it a full moon? *goes to check* Nope, not a full moon, so just things pissing me off. *LOL*

Here we go...

The term TSTL aka Too Stupid To Live. You see this term all over the place in discussions about romance novels of all sub genres - fantasy, PNR, suspense, urban fantasy etc... Writers, reviewers and readers all use it ad nauseum and it's always used to talk about the heroine of the novel. I have seen others try and use it in fandoms, media fandoms in talking about TV shows, but not that often, yet always talking about women. So, you say, what's the problem? So many of these romance heroines are dumb and shame on the authors for writing them that way and yadda yadda yadda but, all you people standing up for the rights of women, and denouncing the rape culture in our society, and calling out all the things that denigrate and insult and belittle women.... TOO STUPID TO LIVE??? What is THAT? You're agreeing that women, if they make the wrong choices should die??

NO ONE is TSTL. Really. And in this case it only adds to the misogyny and all these women complaining about how women are being written... it's kind of hypocritical. It's like... YAY for the strong, multi-faceted, smart portrayal of women, but those ones here? TSTL. Do you see the problem? The less than clever, brave, well-rounded are not worthy of life.

I know it's a clever, catchy, pithy little phrase/acronym, but isn't it really just feeding the misogyny?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Beyond Solitude by Kit Rocha

3.5. STARS

Beyond - Book 4.5

I hadn't been planning to read this novella just yet, but when I ended up in the hospital ER with my son (kidney stone), it was the perfect read to take my mind off my worries.

First off, let me say that the reason I gave it 3.5 stars instead of 4 is because it was too damned short and the consequence of that was that I didn't learn nearly as much about Ford as I wanted to. Mia was a little more fleshed out, I thought, but I could have gotten deeper into what makes her tick too.

I think Ford may just be my second favourite male character in the Beyond books, after Ace. The read I get from what we're given in the book is that he's a little older than most of the other O'Kanes. And he thinks before he acts for the most part. And I like both of those things.

I liked Mia a lot too. I liked how she pretty much understood what Ford was dealing with after his accident from pretty much the beginning and acted accordingly. She read as a lot younger than Ford, but I thought they fit together right well from the very beginning. It felt to me that their chemistry was instant and it was shown through the simple parts of their interaction. I didn't need the gutpunches and the flushes etc... to get it, you know? But when those did come, it was perfectly right - and good. :)

As always, the intimate scenes - be they filled with lots of steamy, hot sex or just a random touch and a look - were excellently done. And they were the characters' own scenes. They weren't a rewrite of any of the others that have come before in the Beyond series and that's not always the case in these romantic series.

I just wanted MORE! I wanted more scenes like the one where Ford and Mia went on their motorcycle ride outside of the sector. I wanted to see more of how Mia was settling in with the core community of the O'Kanes, making friends etc... and see more of how Ford was healing and how the two of them were creating their life together. And more Ford period. :)

I love this series and can't wait until the next one comes out!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Noble Metals by L.A. Witt


Metals - Book 1

That was disappointing. :( This is a book that I had marked for a long time to buy because I generally enjoy the author and I had been wanting to discover steampunk. Unfortunately, it had been pulled from the original publisher and was in the process of being added to and re-issued by the author. "(Publisher's Note: This book was previously published by a different press; it has since been edited extensively and expanded by over 10,000 words.)"

Okay, I could be patient; it's not like I don't have a kajillion books in my TBR pile. Sadly, the book was not worth the wait.

The main characters, Robert and John, are flat. I have no further understanding today of their wants, needs, motivations, raisons d'etre or anything than I had reading page one. John is a scientist and his life's work rests in inventing/creating/discovering... something that I think is similar radio and TV. He's in competition with Tesla and Edison and this is what drives him to the gold fields of the Yukon.

Robert is a tanner/farmer's son. One of - I originally thought 4 but maybe it was only 3 - brothers who go north because.... I dunno, they want gold. One of the brothers dies and the other leaves after Robert loses all the group's money gambling and so Robert becomes the only male prostitute in the brothel in Seattle. That's where he meets John. They have The Good Sex and then John is hiring Robert to accompany him to the gold fields. I think Robert just doesn't want to go back to the family farm/tanning business so he needs gold. I THINK that's his motivation, I'm not sure. John, he's looking for platinum for his inventions and he's being chased by a bunch of bad guys working for someone named Sidney.

The author has done research on the Gold Rush, the Klondike and the Chilkoot Pass and the steampunk elements (one of the main reasons I wanted to read the book) were an integral part of the story and well thought out. The writing remains easy and enjoyable to read but the most important thing to me, the characters and their growth, well... it was a major letdown. The were rather cardboard and really, I saw no compelling reason that they should be wanting to get together in the face of all odds other than that they had The Good Sex. A few passing references as to how they talked a lot on their journey doesn't cut it for me.

So all in all, rather disappointing. There's a second book in this 'Metals' universe coming in October, and while the blurb sounds good, the book clocks in at about 10,000 words less than Noble Metals so I'm tempted to think that the things that bugged me in this book will be even more apparent in the next. So while Precious Metals might be on my radar, I don't think it will be an autobuy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Next by Rafe Haze


Oh, dear Lord. I don't even know where to begin with this. Let me start off by saying that the premise is terrific. Rear Window-esque gay suspense. Instead of the broken leg that kept Jimmy Stewart apartment-bound in the movie, what keeps our nameless (at least I can't remember if the guy has a name) songwriter protagonist apartment-bound is crippling agoraphobia. That's why it gets a star and a half. The ideas.

What he sees through his window... when he's brave enough to open the curtains is a mixture of sadness, heartache, pathos, voyeuristic sex, and murder? Enter the hot, sexy, beautiful, god-like detective with the dimples and sweet smile - I think it was sweet, but the author is trying so hard to write Like A Guy that words like sweet aren't used unless we're talking about sugar in coffee. See... it occurs to me that the author seems like he's trying hard to show that without a doubt, he's a Guy.

This was one of the few times I felt compelled to take notes as I read because I just couldn't contain my WTFery. And here are some of those notes...

I suspect that the author thinks he's being edgy, but the language is close on purple prose at times. It's flowery and overblown and diminishes whatever story he's trying to tell by swamping the actual narrative.

Everything is stated in 3's... adjectives... descriptive clauses... portions of sentences. Yeah, just like what I just did there. All the freaking time! Does the protagonist have a deep thought or a sudden insight? Let's make sure we repeat it at least 3 times in different fashions to make certain the readers get it.

By the halfway point, I don't know if this is a story about the songwriter and the detective, the disappearance of the songwriter's neighbours, the songwriter's past with his brother, parents, grandfather, the songwriter going slowly insane, what's going on in the Perfect Family's apartment... I just have NO idea.

And how the guy can see SO clearly into the apartment across the courtyard is beyond me! The details of what he sees... incredible. The guy should be an elite sniper instead of a failed songwriter.

The author is very, very enamoured of metaphors to get his point across - there are a MILLION of them. Everything is like something else.

Then there's this gem of a paragraph:

"In lust-driven swiftness, Mr. Perfect bent over the bed, his stomach on the shiny quilt, his arms in front of him, stretched out to the pillows, burying his nose and forehead into the quilt, with his legs bent at perfect right angles down to the floor, his muscular hairy globes thrust into the air. With one hand strangling the pillow in front of him, he reached with his other to pull Ruben's dick between his bulging lobes.

The Peasant was crowning the King."

I can't count the times I was treated to globes, lobes and other non-sexy euphamisms. Which, you know, okay fine, this isn't marketed as erotica, but if you're writing a sex scene don't you want it to be sexy? Your mileage may vary, I guess.

Another goodie...

"The knob at the end of his thick, fleshy rope swung like Tarzan down to his knee and picked up Jane at the bottom."

Well, that certainly sounds appetizing. *eyeroll*

Dear Lord, we've gone from countless 'members' and 'poles' to now... 'hot rod'. And I've not mentioned all the various usages of 'meat'.

"I found his puckered asshole shining as smooth and pink as a raw breast of chicken."

Hot and sexy isn't it? *more eye rolling*

I mean, SERIOUSLY! The guy has just acknowledged that he might like guys 'in that way' and has given his first blow job (deepthroating too) and now ... now... he's RIMMING THE GUY???

And of course, all the bouldery muscles, hot and heavy meat, globes and lobes... all this manages to give our protag an insta-cure for his agoraphobia AND a very high level of gay sex proficiency.

You know... this could have been a terrific novel - had it been written by someone else. I kept thinking that through the last half of the book. The idea is great, the backstory of the protag is fascinating, the mystery (although I thought it needed more focus) was kinda cool... it just... well, the whole book felt like Authorial Masturbation to me. So much of it read like bad porn and I was so disappointed. This could have been a terrific livre noir in another author's hands. I'll not be checking out anything by this author again.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

This Rough Magic by Josh Lanyon


Shot in the Dark - Book 1

I enjoy Josh Lanyon. His writing isn't fancy, it doesn't have an agenda or a cause to espouse, it's just good old-fashioned story-telling.

This Rough Magic is a mystery set in the 1930's and is the first in the "Shot in the Dark" series. It stars a 'hard-boiled' private eye and a wealthy (to the outside world) playboy. There's a stolen work of Shakespeare, quirky relatives, the sweet secretary, polo ponies... all that good stuff.

Neil Rafferty, the private eye is not as hard-boiled as say, Sam Spade, but he's been around, is somewhat cynical and at times world-weary, but the man has a heart of gold. Brett Sheridan, the wealthy playboy, doesn't really come across as a playboy. He's sensitive, almost to a fault at times, somewhat self-centred and quite honestly, I wanted to smack him a couple of times, but then he'd come up with a snappy remark or some wry observation and get back into my good graces.

The mystery worked for the most part. I would have liked more time and attention given to what transpired at the Brett's mother's house and maybe a little more explanation of the 'why' at the very end, but it seems to me that today's 'romance' writers are afraid to have even a little bit of extra padding in their stories - and it's not really extra padding, I just can't think of the proper description, but I find that so many of them are so sparse! That's mostly why This Rough Magic didn't make 4 stars. Too sparse.

But very enjoyable!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

American Craftsmen by Tom Doyle


American Craft - Book 1

I had very high hopes for this book. The premise sounds so cool! From the blurb - "In Tom Doyle's thrilling debut, American Craftsmen, Seal Team Six meets ancient magic--with the fate of the United States hanging in the balance . .". I mean, uber cool, right?

Well, I haven't been this happy to finally finish a book in a long time. It was an okay read, but my Lord, it seemed never-ending! Dale Morton is the main protagonist - he can control weather, compel people and other witchy type stuff. I feel like through the book we get to know him, but only on the surface really. I felt the same about the other main characters as well, Endicott and Scherie. Maybe that's a function of this being the first book in a series, but it sure made it difficult for me to connect with them and create that 'need' in me to know what's going to happen to them next.

The world-building was pretty nifty although, there was some things that left me extremely confused. To be honest, the first half of the book left me scratching my head more often than not. It seemed that I was missing that one bit of information that would unlock the barrier in my head that would allow me to get what everyone was seemingly taking for granted. I wanted to, but the sparkly ball of OMG I GET IT! Never happened.

Also, by the blurb of the book, it sounded to me that Morton and Endicott were going to team up to conquer whatever was going to be thrown at them. Sort of like a Tom Clancy (early days) buddy book with magic and ghosts and otherwordly things (which sounded quite alright by me!). Wasn't what I got. I think that by the end of the book, Dale and Michael were beginning that journey and that is what will probably propel me to check out the next book whenever it comes out.

I think the end result is that I never reluctantly put the book down because I needed to go to sleep or cook supper or go grocery shopping or do any other number of chores.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

50 Essential Works of LGBT Fiction

Full list behind the link. A list of 25 Essential Works of LGBT non-fiction you can find here.

I'm reblogging to keep the list handy.