Showing posts with label dumb-assery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dumb-assery. Show all posts

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown


Rating: WARTY!

This began finely enough, but it really didn't show any interest in going anywhere. I suppose it's a bit autobiographical since the author admits to having two sisters and to reading a lot. I don't get this with the reading though. It's way overdone, especially in so-called 'literary books'. I read a lot myself but don't feel an urge to brag about it or write novels about it. It doesn't mean I'm deep or smart or profound! It just means I like to read. I may well even have put a book in the hands of a character here and there in my own novels, but I can recall only one specific case of doing so.

The thing is that Americans simply don't read books! Depending on where you look for survey results, the typical American has read only four books in the past 12 months, but a quarter of adults haven't read one at all in the last year. Hispanics, high salary-earners and people with most college education are least likely to read. About forty percent of people won't read ebooks and reading in general in the US has gone down close to fifty percent over the last fifteen years or so.

That's one reason why you're having such a hard time selling your self-published novel! It's not necessarily that it's bad - it's that fewer people are reading and there's far more available to them - and thanks to the assholes at Amazon who care more about what shareholders make than what creative people make, it's available for free or next-to-nothing. The USA is not even in the top twenty among nations which read. So if you're writing about Americans, don't have them reading a book unless there's a plot need for it, and sure as hell don't use reading a book as a measure of intelligence. It fails.

At least the author doesn't name-drop classic books or classic authors all over the place, but the one thing she does do which I found intensely annoying was put the father of the family in the position of quoting lines from obscure literature instead of actually answering questions. If the quote had answered the question, that would be one thing, but it never did! The guy needed to have his ass kicked sharply, but all of the girls put up with this, including the supposedly rebellious one, which made all of them lose my respect.

Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia all have issues and are gathering back together at their parent's home not because their mother has breast cancer, although that provides a convenient excuse, but because each sister has problems in her life. Rosalind's fiancé is away in England for an extended period working in a university lab and she fears she may lose him, but she doesn't have the wherewithal to either shit or get off the pot. Bianca was let go from the law firm where she worked in HR, because she was skimming from the books, and Cordelia has just discovered that she's pregnant - and broke. She had to shoplift the pregnancy test to even verify that she was expecting. So we're reading about three losers here form the off.

I don't normally read this kind of novel - although I've noticed from looking around that it's a sort of mini-genre to have women gather and air dirty laundry. Usually it's old friends from college who haven't seen each other in years who are vacationing together as a sort of reunion. In this case it's sisters. It was a curious coincidence to begin reading this right when I was also around that time watching the last few episodes of the Netflix series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. In that show, which is really quite good, there is a trio known as the weird sisters, and both that one and the one in this novel derive their name from Shakespeare, although in Shakespeare, it's 'wyrd' not weird, and it means something different.

But that was the problem here. The author was far more interested in being 'literary' whatever the hell that means, than ever she was in telling a story that moved and engaged, and I lost interest about a third of the way in and ditched it. Like I said, there are far more novels available to me, and I know one of those is going to grab me.


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Swans in Space by Lun Lun Yamamoto


Rating: WARTY!

I suppose I should remind readers up front that I'm not a huge manga fan. Reading backwards isn't my choice, but I can do that if the story is worth it. the problem is that the stories all-too-often aren't worth the effort of reading unnaturally. This was one such.

The premise was amusing and entertaining enough, but in the end it's the story. I can read a story which has no plot if the author writes well enough. I can't read the perfect plot if the story is written badly, uninventively, or boringly. The premise here is that a young girl is chosen in school by a classmate for testing for what seems to be UPS in space, although it's also space police - or maybe something else? I dunno and that's part of the problem. The scope of their 'duties' is so vague as to be limitless.

What were these people supposed to be doing and why are girls taken out of school to do it? No explanation. Their travel results in time-dilation, so their return is only a minute or two after they left, but they have subjectively experienced the entire time - even if it's many hours - that they spent doing this job, which consists of flying spacecraft. These craft are designed to look like swans for reasons which are unexplained - assuming they even exist.

The girls come back already exhausted and still have the rest of their own school day to finish. It's beyond credibility that something wouldn't go wrong, and it's hardly surprising that this girl who recruits the main character into this life is totally shallow. Her brain is probably fried from the insane hours she's been forced to keep.

Even that might have been manageable if the story itself was worth the reading but it wasn't. It was so bad that just a couple of days later I've completely forgotten it. They didn't really do anything that a decent drone couldn't have done, so again: point? None! If there had been something - anything in the story to give it some oomph, then the rest of this ridiculous situation might have been overlooked. I can even get with whimsy if there's a compelling reason to, but there really was nothing to see here. I can't commend this garbage as a worthy read on any level.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple


Rating: WARTY!

The short answer to the question (despite it missing a question mark), posed in the title of this audiobook is 'Nowhere'! Seriously. Read okay by Kathleen Wilhoite, the book began as a series of Oh-so-cutting-edge emails and so on. In short, lazy story-telling. I don't like epistolary novels and I wasn't liking this one. It just annoyed me.

It's sad because I came to this from seeing a teaser-trailer of an upcoming movie starring Cate Blanchett, of whom I'm a fan. As it happened, the trailer didn't tease me, but after seeing it twice in front of different movies Ild gone to see, I decided I'd give the book a listen if I could find it on audiobook at the library and I did, so I did, but I wish now that I hadn't. So I'm done with this story, and with this author notwithstanding her dedication to the Global Amphibian Assessment. For anyone interested, the story starts out with a girl, Bee Branch, looking through old emails to try and figure out whence her irresponsible mother disappeared.

I don't know what the movie is like - at this point I've seen only the teaser and I won't see the movie (especially not now!) unless maybe I catch it at some point on TV, but from what I've heard of the novel, Bernadette is hardly the best person in the world. In fact she's a bit of a jerk, and the teaser revealed none of this, although it did reveal how irresponsible she was. I really don't care if someone has good reason to be a dick. If they're a dick, they're a dick, and I'm not about to make a hero out of such a person. The story sounded scatterbrained and stupid and I want nothing to do with it.


Friday, March 8, 2019

Enchanted Moments by the Disney Product Marketing Team


Rating: WARTY!

This seemed to me to be a cynical offering from Disney. I have mixed feelings about this mega-corporation. They're way too big for one thing. Worse than that, they insist on churning out Star Bores movies that are so derivative as to be pathetic, and turned me permanently off the whole space opera.

But I do like what their Marvel unit puts out. The problem with Marvel is the same as it is with the 'princess' movies: it's all about the guys even though those princess movies superficially appear to be dedicated to their respective princesses! Most of the time, the stage is occupied by the male characters at least as far as speaking roles go. Apparently the princesses have little to contribute according to Disney. This weekend Marvel makes a major move to redress its deficit. What's its parent going to do?

This book, however, was just too much. It's nothing more than an advertisement for their Disney princess product line which is a part of the three billion dollar Disney product marketing machine. I have zero respect for the princesses despite Disney's limp efforts to retcon these girls into feminine powerhouses.

These days, if not always, Disney is all about retconning, taking public domain properties and turning them into movies and products, and then incestuously and endlessly feeding off of those same products by nothing more inventive or imaginative than repackaging. There's no originality here at all. Just how many times have they remade Cinderella? And now it seems they're embarking on a massive remake of everything. The only fresh thing they've had for years is Frozen, which I had a sneak preview of and enjoyed, but now they're essentially remaking that by adding a limp sequel.

This particular book consists of five thick cardboard pages, each starring a 'princess':

  • Cinderella, not really a princess, but certainly the girl with the smallest shoe size on the planet, yet whose movie stands alone in the Disney canon by actually giving her close parity with the male characters in terms of exposure, but the truth is that Cinderella really did nothing for herself. She had it all handed to her by her fairy godmother and her animal slaves.
  • Ariel was disobedient from the start, putting herself first and foremost in everything, and completely disregarding her father and the rest of her family in pursuit of her own selfish ambition.
  • Belle's actual name was Beauty in the original (contrary to Lady Gaga's dilemma, early Disney movies were all about the Shallow). Again, she wasn't a princess, and she curiously seemed to favor the beast in his animal form, but her worst trait is that she despises everyone else in her village!
  • Snow White was demoted from princess by the queen, and I've heard that she was Hitler's favorite Disney character. Perhaps the limpest of all princesses, she needed not one guy, but seven to validate her. And all she had ambition to do was clean house.
  • Aurora slept (and didn't even walk) her way through life until some dude kissed her without her permission - which admittedly would have been hard to give. She has the least to say of any major Disney character.

I find none of these inspiring and cannot rate this as a worthy read. It's really just a marketing tool


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Tidewater by Libbie Hawker


Rating: WARTY!

You know I should just swear off any novel about Jamestown which features the name Pocahontas on the cover. Even though that was not strictly speaking, her name, but a descriptive term, the author uses this name exclusively for the main character (at least in the part I listened to which honestly wasn't very much).

The American Indians speak in modern English idiom, and while I certainly didn't expect that their words would have been spoken in their own language in this audiobook, I thought some effort might have been made to render their exchanges a little more authentically. It felt so fake.

On top of that, The Pocahontas, who was well-known amongst her own people, was refused entrance to a meeting to which she had been instructed to bring food by her father. The guards on the door didn't recognize her? There were guards on the door? It felt so completely unrealistic that I couldn't hear it. It felt like the author had no clue whatsoever as to how these people lived back then, and simply translated everything into modern western European terms and was happy with what she'd done. The truly disturbing thing is that believe it or not, this wasn't the worst part of it for me!

The story was narrated by three people, and the woman who narrated the Powhatan portions was Angela Dawe, an actor who isn't native American and whose voice was one of the most harsh and strident I have ever heard. It was quite literally painful on my ears. I began listening to this on the drive home from the library after I picked it up. That drive is very short, but even so, I couldn't stand to listen to her voice for the entire journey home. I turned it off and almost looped the car around to return the book that same afternoon! LOL. It was awful. The voice was completely wrong in every measure. It was hard to listen to because of the tone, and cadence and pacing. Every single thing was off about it, and it made my stomach turn to listen to it.

So based on an admittedly tiny portion of this, I can't commend it.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Captain Marvel Down by various contributors


Rating: WARTY!

The last, thankfully, of the four Captain marvel graphic novels I foolishly thought to read. All four were DNFs, and as of this one I am off Marvel comics altogether until and unless they offer me a seriously good reason why I should read even one more. DC isn't any better, just FYI. This one at least wasn't set on a dumb space station, but it was still as bad.

In the airless vacuum of space, Captain Marvel apparently has no trouble breathing or at least holding her breath, and no trouble speaking out loud - and being heard by others! Yet in this story, set under water, she needs a breathing apparatus? WTF???

So, underwater and of course she has to be set upon by sharks which as you know are hungry 100% of the time and always for humans. Barf. The artist needs to learn to draw shark teeth.

On that topic, the artwork was, as usual indifferent, that is until chapter two when it went seriously down the crapper. I never used to think I was artist enough to do a graphic novel, but now I'm of the opinion that anyone can do one if this level of "artistry' is acceptable. This was written by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Christopher Sebela, and illustrated by Dexter Soy and Filipe Andrade, and none of it was up to snuff.

The plot was a tired, retreaded Bermuda Triangle story with bizarre robots (which were absent on the space station you may recall), now resurrecting themselves and which of course required Captain Marvel to turn all Dwayne Johnson (barf) instead of being Captain Marvel. It sucked royally. Captain Marvel is rendered repeatedly by these female writers into a pair of fists, no brain required. No woman required either, since there is nothing in these stories that would have to be changed if the female were erased and a male character substituted in her stead.

I don't normally do covers because the author typically has nothing to do with the cover unless they self-publish, but in this case I have to ask, if this is set in the ocean, why does the cover show Captain Marvel in space??? This had to be one of the poorest, dumbest comics I have ever partially red, and I refuse to remotely commend it.

It was awful, as were the other three of this quartet I happily didn't pay for, since I had them from my excellent local library for a preview of Captain marvel. Fortunately, I have more faith in the artists who write and otherwise create Marvel movies, otherwise I would have been turned-off the Marvel Cinematic Universe permanently by this trash. If I might borrow the words of Blue October: into the ocean end it all, into the ocean end it all, into the ocean end...all, good bye! Captain Marvel deserves better.


Captain Marvel Rise of Alpha Flight by various contributors


Rating: WARTY!

Well at this point I think I am done reading Marvel graphic novels. They are nowhere near as entertaining as the movies, in fact not well written at all and illustrated accordingly. I was very disappointed. The first problem being that Earth's Mightiest Her" is onfined to commanding a space station. WHY??? It's like having your prize race horse pulling a plow, or your best performing race car working for Uber.

I thought that with these four graphic novels being written, at least in part, by female authors (in this case, Tara Butters, along with Michele Fazekas, with art by Kris Anka), they might have something new and different to offer, but these were no better than the male ones. Again, a grave disappointment.

Despite being set in the future, there isn't a sign of robotics or AI in sight. What happened? Was there a technology apocalypse? Evidently not since these people are on an advanced space station - one shaped like a spinning top. Why people show stations designed like that in books and movies escapes me since there's no explanation offered for why it had to be designed this way!

I almost forgot what this one was about, but then, unfortunately, I remembered. There is an alien workforce on the station, taking charge of waste management. Why? Did we forget how to recycle? We've known that since Apollo days! And if there needs to be waste management, why are aliens from scores of light years away doing it instead of robots or humans on this station in close Earth orbit? Any why did an alien race which is starkly divided (as we later learn) into alphas and slaves, get hired in the first place? Did no one do due diligence? If Marvel had been doing her job as station commander instead of getting her fingers into every pie she could, maybe she would have noted this and prevented all that came later.<.p>

I'm sorry, but stupid characters, dumb-ass plots and indifferent artwork do not a great story make. This is garbage, manage that! I'm done reading Marvel superhero comic books until and unless I feel a huge compulsion to pick up another one.


Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Mighty Captain Marvel Band of Sisters by various contributors


Rating: WARTY!

My next foray into the world of Captain Marvel should have been a good one since it was both written and drawn by women, but this made no difference to the asinine portrayal of a female character, to her sexploitation in the form of improbable hourglass physiques, open crotch shots and leading with the breasts shots, and to the moronic storyline. What the hell is wrong with these female comic book creators??? If a renaissance in how women are portrayed in graphic novels isn't going to start with them when and where the hell will it start?

Margaret Stohl (lousy writing) and Michele Bandini (sexploitative art) are the guilty parties here. The story is nothing but one long fight - and in space, where a startling number of super heroes are able to breathe unaided. There's no reason a woman shouldn't be able to kick ass, but if all you're going to do with your female super heroes is have them behave exactly like the male super heroes traditionally do, then what the hell is the point in fussing about whether females are represented in comics or on the silver screen???!!! They're just men with tits! And thereby hangs a tale!

The hilarious thing about being in space wasn't the fact that they could breathe as though there is air out there. It was the fact that there was no physics out there. At one point Captain Marvel punches this villainous dude and he shoots off backwards, but she remains in place, unmoving. Apparently one of her super powers is to suspend Newton's third law of motion. That's fine, but what I had a hard time trying to figure out was how Captain Marvel managed to maneuver in space where gravity isn't a fact in free-fall, friction is essentially non-existent, and she has no rocket assistance! Then I figured it out! The answer was revelatory!

There are no page numbers of course - it's a graphic novel after all so why would anyone want to reference a page? But counting each leaf as one page, this scene took place after page nineteen. There was a full page spread on the left and on the lower right, a full breast spread as Captain Marvel's Mammaries took pride of place in the center of the panel. They were huge. Now turn that leaf and six more, and on the left there's another full-page spread, but this time Captain Marvel has no mammaries at all! Do you see? She is really flat chested, and her 'boobs' carry compressed air, which is how she maneuvers in space! The air shoots out through her nipples allowing her to jet around, Clearly that second frame caught her when she was in need of a refill! Now it all made sense to me!

Not.

So hopefully it's needless to say, even if it needles to say, that I was out of there. Captain Marvel DNF'd again. I have two more to go through, and I am hoping - but have little faith - that they will offer me something to marvel at. This one is warty, period.


Captain Marvel Civil War II by various contributors


Rating: WARTY!

Because of the impending advent of Captain Marvel on the silver screen, to which I'm very much looking forward despite its shamefully long-overdue portrayal of a lead female Marvel superhero, I decided to pick up some graphic novels on the subject from the library to read ahead (after a fashion!)! I was sorely disappointed. I got four of them and the first two were complete duds. I'm glad I didn't read the Marvel graphic novels before I saw any of the movies because I would never have gone to see the movies had I imagined they would be as roundly dissatisfying asa the novels.

This one was a series following Captain Marvel's involvement in Civil War from which she was omitted completely in Phase 3 of the Marvel movie universe. Unfortunately it wasn't the first in the series, but that doesn't matter because I'm judging it only on the quality of this particular volume, not the whole series, and the quality sucked. It was poorly written by Ruth Fletcher Gage, Christos Gage, and the average to indifferent art was by Kris Anka, Marco Failla, Thony Silas, and Andy Owens, which might explain the patchy quality.

Apparently Carol Danvers was romantically involved with Colonel Rhodes of Iron Man associations, and he's either dead or severely wounded. it was hard to tell with the poor writing. Captain Marvel - billed as Earth's mightiest hero - is somehow under the thumb of a bunch of asshole guys dictating to her - to Captain Marvel - what to do. Never once did she flare up at these condescending and patronizing jackasses. The story was only this all the way through - and the occasional fight. It was boring as hell, and a waste of my time. I should bill Marvel for my reading time since I took no pleasure in it.


Queen Bee by Chynna Clugston


Rating: WARTY!

Why a female author would want to denigrate women by creating a graphic novel about two high-school girls being outright bitches to one another is an utter mystery to me. I thought there might be some wising-up and resolution here, but the only resolution was to continue this garbage into a second volume. Even the teachers are painted clueless which is an outright insult to teachers. It's stinking trash. My opinion and advice is to treat it as such. I'm done with this author.


Friday, February 15, 2019

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty


Rating: WARTY!

This was an audiobook aimed at middle graders which didn't appeal to me. It started out well enough, but the more I read, the more I realized the author really didn't have any idea what she was talking about, and the plot was so inconstant as to be irritating. The reader's voice was way too mature for the character, and it was in first person too, which made it sound worse.

Lightning Girl isn't a super hero, although it would be a great name for one. When Lucy Calahan is struck by lightning at age eight, something in her brain is changed, and she suddenly becomes a math whiz. To my knowledge, no one who has been struck by lightning has ever become an autistic savant.

Lightning strikes are second in line behind flooding as causes of death by natural catastrophe, resulting in something like a death per week on average in the US. Survivors, far from having increased mental agility are likely to have it reduced, and math skills impaired. Victims who survive are more likely to experience problems with hearing and vision, and the myelin which sheathes nerves can also be damaged, leading to death long after the strike.

But this is pure fiction, and Lucy miraculous has no adverse physical effects whatsoever except for this math brilliance, but the author seems to confuse autistic savant syndrome with OCD, so Lucy has a series of oddball behaviors - normal for OCD sufferers, but seemingly out of line with the cause of her math skills. It made little sense to me. The outcome is that people perceive her as odd and she cannot make friends. Moving to a new school gives her a chance to hide her math brilliance and try to appear 'normal'.

Her grandmother is called 'Nana' here. Do kids in these books never ever, ever, ever call their grandparents grandpa and grandma? I just started another audiobook where grandfather is Poppy. Seriously? I know there must be some kids who use baby-names for their grandparents, but not everyone does! I guess authors of children's books never got that memo, huh, and kids never grow out of childish habits?

But I digress! Nana fails her granddaughter miserably by not telling anyone at the school about her condition. This results in all kinds of grief for Lucy, which means to me that Nana is guilty of a form of child abuse. The truth is that this book may as well not have adults in it for as little role as they play. Teachers are shown as bullies or uncaring about their kids which is frankly insulting and abusive of teachers, and parents have very little involvement in their kids' lives, evidently, in this author's world.

Far from celebrating her granddaughter's abilities, Nana plays along with hiding them, which is entirely inappropriate. It's one thing to exploit and abuse a gifted child by selfishly promoting them, but it's equally abusive to force, or at least enable, them into pretending they're something they're not.

The book involves a dog, too, which was just sickly sentimental and annoying to me. The dog is doomed, but not one grown-up ever sits down with Lucy and takes the time to explain to her why things are the way they are, which irritated the hell out of me. These adults were morons and abusive to this child. It's at that point that I DNF'd it.

Lucy gets on this team of three doing a school project, and the one girl, named Windy - not Wendy, but Windy - is a blabbermouth, and the boy, Levi, is simply a jerk. The trio were unprepossessing at best and uninteresting and laughable at worst. The story just lost me, and I gave up on it. Consequently I can't commend it as a worthy read.


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Unbalanced by Courtney Shepard


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I gave up on this Net Galley novel called "Unbalanced," because frankly, it was. On the face of it, the plot was actually appealing: it was about these four women who are evidently sisters who were separated at birth, but I don't know why. They each have one of the four elemental powers: air, earth, fire, and water. Not that any of those are actual elements, but I was willing to let that slide for a fun, or entertaining story, even though the names of these characters are a bit improbable if not laughable.

The blurb tells us that each generation brings out four sisters to fight against a fanatical, secret faith, but all this really tells me is that the sisters are useless in that they've obviously - and repeatedly - shown they're incapable of truly defeating this faith! The blurb says the sisters are born to fight this battle, but are unaware of what awaits them? Maybe that's why they fail? LOL! Or maybe the blurb-writer is just clueless. It's been said that when you do the same thing over and over with the same result you should try something else - or just check yourself into an institution. Evidently these girls are too dumb to own that.

The main character is fire, and her name is Asha. The earth character is named Ivy. The water one is named Mere. I forget the fourth. These are names from a parody, not a serious novel, but I was even willing to let that go for a good story. The problem is that Asha is initially portrayed as this fierce warrior woman, yet when she was captured by this guy who was originally sent to kill her, this supposedly tough young woman became immediate putty in his hands.

I started having serious problems with it at that point, but the next chapter introduced Ivy, who was kick-ass - in this case literally - but just as I was starting to like the novel again, back comes Asha, who despite her power being fire, leaves me cold, and she was even more putty-er in this chapter than the previous one. No. Just no. That was just less than 25% in, but I couldn't stand to read any more of this.

Asha hadn't been this guy's captive anywhere near long enough to be suffering Helsinki syndrome, nor had she been in his company long enough, and even had she been, she's supposed to be this bad-ass girl, yet the story began reading like a cheap BDSM "romance." I could not both keep reading this and keep my stomach contents. I chose my stomach.

I am so, so tired of YA female authors who have quite obviously never heard of the #MeToo movement, creating these supposedly strong female characters and then turning them into wilting violets and objects of gratification at the first whiff of testosterone. I cannot support a novel with this dedicated level of disrespect for women. It's unacceptable and honestly? The author needs to get a clue - and a more original title.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt


Rating: WARTY!

This was an audiobook which I picked up because I'd very much enjoyed the last book I listened to by this author, and while the reading voice of Alison McGhee was quite a pleasure to listen to in this volume, the story was rather less than satisfying.

We're pretty much expected to believe that a young girl's sister dies by drowning, through her idiotic practice of running in the forest by a dangerous section of the river, but of course her body is never recovered. I found it hard to believe that there was no effort made to have divers find the body.

Apparently someone else had died here too, but there was no fencing and no signage that I heard of. That part was realistic because humans are morons when it comes to safeguarding lives, and in particular the lives of children. There have to be multiple deaths before preventive action is taken. It's the rule. Also, it's the rule in this book because everyone seems to be dying: people and animals alike! It's the Appelt Book of the Dead!

Anyway, sister one goes running off (for a ridiculous 'mission' she has to complete, which is later revealed for the stupid thing that it is), and is magically reincarnated as a fox. Why? Who knows? Maybe the author does, but she doesn't care to tell us - not in the part of this I could stand to listen to anyway, since this was a DNF for me.

A better question though is 'who cares?' because we're given no reason to invest in these people. The characters were uninteresting and uninspiring, and they did not draw me in. Adults are essentially non-existent and vacuous when they are. Children don't have childish thoughts.

The story was way too long and boring because it moved so slowly, which is ironic given that much is made of the speed of the running sister and of the fox she returns as. Given that the foxes have very human thoughts, leaving a ribbon for the sister to find as some sort of a message made no sense. Why not simply scratch the message in the dirt with a claw? Plus foxes are like dogs: they don't see green. An author writing about foxes ought to know this.

I was truly disappointed in this one. It was such a sorry contrast to The True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp, and I cannot commend it.


Friday, June 1, 2018

The Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian


Rating: WARTY!

Sixteen year old Theodosia, yet another in a long line of dumb, boring, derivative and pointless YA princesses has convinced me that YA princesses are now officially overtaking Disney princesses as the most interchangeable, generic, blandest princesses of all. Disney is showing some improvement, YA writers in general are not.

I now am honestly and seriously wondering what is wrong in particular with female YA writers that they cannot get out of both this princess rut and this asinine and tedious trilogy rut they are in. I guess money is more important to them than writing a good story. They so desperately want that book contract, don't they? And Big Publishing™ so desperately wants a story it can milk no matter how many times it's been done before, doesn't it? I'd rather never be published than play that game or get stuck in that rut.

So here we have Princess Dumbass, who saw her mother the Fire Queen killed on the order of the evil invading king, and now we're conveniently ten years on so we can have a princess in her mid-teens so we can have a moronic love-triangle, we find the princess is best friends with the daughter of the man who literally killed her mother, and falling in love with the son of the evil invading king. Barf. Is it even possible to have a dumber princess than this? Is it even possible to have a story that is more mix-and-match than this, with every single element taken from other YA stories?

Why, if the land of Theodocile was so powerful with the force (magical gems or air, earth, fire, and water barf) was it even possible for the invading king and his people - who have no magic - to win this war? And having won it, why would the invading king even leave anyone alive who was remotely connected to the ruling family? IT. MAKES. NO. SENSE. But it's a YA story written by a female author featuring a cloned princess, so why would it make any sense? There are, thank goodness, female YA writers who get it, but there are so many more of them who simply do not get it and never will. This author is one of them. She has drunk the YA Kool-Aid™ and the princess Flavor Aid™

From the first chapter I could see exactly how this would all pan out. I could tell, even though the book itself gave no indication of it on the cover, that this was going to be a trilogy with a love triangle. It was so painfully obvious that this book could well be a parody of itself. Having decided this was not for me, I read a few reviews on it, and the negative ones all agreed with my assessment. Don't even think of saying you can't review a book after reading so little of it. Yes, you can, when it's patently obvious that this is a cookie-cutter, YA, troll-ogy, female lead, female-written, love-triangle, uninventive, unimaginative, paint-by-the-numbers-of-dollars-you're-aiming-at, piece of tree-wasting garbage.


Queen of Kenosha by Howard Shapiro


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This is the third - and last as far as I'm concerned! - in a loose collection of comics telling supposedly positive and life-affirming stories. I was not impressed by any of them and the artwork was a bit odd to say the least, particularly in this one. there really was a Queen of Kenosha - Dorothy J Queen, who died in 2012!

In previous comics this author had depicted male characters who looked quite feminine for no apparent reason, but in this one we get the opposite: the female characters look rather masculine. I don;t know if this is a deliberate gender-bending effort or simply accidental, but it didn't work. I don't mind feminine-looking men or masculine-looking women, but if you're going to put them into a graphic novel and you don't want your reader to be continually distracted by them, then there really ought to be some sort of reason for it. There was none here that I could see.

Nina Overstreet used to be in a duo with her cousin and now her cousin is no longer is part of it, for reasons which go unexplained, but is still Nina's 'manager'. One night, an odd event happens which brings Nina to the attention of a secret government agency and for no real reason whatsoever they recruit her, while still demeaning her as a female.

This is particularly odd because their idea is purportedly that a female can offer distraction and an intro into areas where a man might stand out, but the author drew Nina as very masculine-looking, so it begs the question as to why these guys are hiring her as a female distraction when she looks just like one of the guys! It made zero sense.

Add to this the fact that one of the two guys is a complete jerk, while the other is an obvious love interest, who also acts like a jerk at times, and you have a very predictable story at best and at worst, a disaster in the making. Nina is supposed to be a strong female character, but she really isn't. She wasn't impressive and the story was boring. It was set in 1963 and they're talking about Nazi sympathizers and a network of underground Nazi spies? If it had been Soviets instead of Nazis, I might have maybe bought that, but like this it was a joke and it read like a really bad fifties B movie. I cannot recommend it.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger


Rating: WARTY!

I had to give up on this one. The story is of a newbie at a fashion magazine which has a spoiled bitch as a chief editor. The author actually is a Cornell graduate who for reasons which escape me actually did work at a fashion magazine, so I guess she knows of what she speaketh, but it was first person voice which is not my favorite by a long skirt, and it was fashion-obsessed (of course - I knew this going in!), and I have absolutely zero respect for models, fashion designers, and let's face it, the whole self-absorbed, mis-focused, self-obsessed, tragically shallow and utterly pointless fashion industry.

I've actually managed to enjoy some novels like this, and I don't recall being nauseated by the movie which I saw many fashion seasons ago (times four, one for each actual season here in the north), but this was simply too much, and when the insulting, trope, clichéd, gay fashion guy showed up at the end of chapter four, I said, "Check please, I'm outta here!"

It was way the hell too much, and this author should be ashamed of herself. I'm sorry to learn that she isn't, because she's written a sequel, I'm guessing because nothing else she's written is selling. I'm guessing the sequel won't cut it either, because she's just not fashionable any more, but I don't care if it does or it doesn't because I'm done with this author.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter


Rating: WARTY!

If this novel had been written by an unknown and submitted as is, it would never have got published. The only reason it did get published is because it was written by a celebrity. The author is an actor who currently plays Jessica Jones in the Marvel TV series of the same name, and in that show I adore her, but a writer she's not. Not yet. She may become one if she can quit writing YA trope and cliché and find a topic that's not been done to death. And have an editor who's not afraid to say no to a celebrity.

This follows the done-to-death trope of the prodigal son (or in this case, daughter with the unimaginatively bland name of Abby Williams) returning home to confront "demons". Barf. Yawn. Barf some more. Yawn a bit. Ho-hum. So anyway, the main character returns to her even more unimaginatively named small town of Barrens, Indiana where she grew up (or maybe not) and where a conglomerate named Optimal Plastics appears to be responsible for polluting the water and causing people to get sick. We're told the town is now booming, but we're never told why a huge corporation would put its roots down in a lifeless hick town nowhere near major artery roads or airports in the first place. At least not in the part I listened to.

Abby is an environmental lawyer living in Chicago and apparently lives a life of drunkenness and debauchery there. You would think someone with that portfolio would be able to confront the girl who bullied her in high-school and now acts like they were old friends, but this character is such a limp rag that she doesn't say squat. Let me just make it clear that I would never want Abby Williams to represent me in court!

It was when Abby discovers that the house she's renting has a neigh-bore who is a single dad with a precocious young daughter that my nausea rose far too high to continue. It didn't help that Abby had lost all interest in pursuing the chemical company even by this point, and had become instead obsessed with tracking down this girl, Kaycee Mitchell, she knew in high-school who had since gone off the grid. Abby was not a likable character, and I honestly didn't give a damn about her or anything else in this story. I could not care less what happened to the missing girl, because I've been given no reason to care more.

From reading other reviews out there I understand that the author knows nothing about Indiana, thinking it a football state when it's a basketball state (even I, who has almost zero interest in fatuous and ultimately pointless sporting events, knew that!), and she misnames the state university and invents a toll road where none exists. It's so easy these days to research a place on the Internet, in Wikipedia, and even go look at it on Google maps, that there's no excuse for getting things like this wrong. It's sloppy and lazy.

The asinine blurb (for which I don't blame the author) promised "tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense," but the only word in that whole phrase which applies here is 'slow'. I pulled this off the library shelf solely because it was written by Krysten Ritter. I thought it would be well worth reading, or rather listening to but it wasn't, even though reader Karissa Vacker did a decent job.

The best thing that can be said about this novel is that it's short, but apparently, according to some reviews I read, it could have been shorter still if the endless repetition had been cut out, and I believe them far more than ever I'd believe a blurb writer! I cannot recommend this based on the part I could stand to listen to. A bonfire is a great place for a novel like this.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Invisibility by David Levithan, Andrea Cremer


Rating: WARTY!

I liked Levithan's Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist which he co-wrote with Rachel Cohn, but I did not like his Everyday, and now I find myself parting ways from him again with this crap.

Like in Nick & Nora, each author is writing a first person perspective, the one for the guy in the story, the other for the girl. It wasn't likable. I tend to really dislike first person voice with few exceptions, and I feel that when you multiply it, it just makes it worse, but that's not the worst problem for me with this story. The worst problem is how unrealistic it is, even if I grant that a boy can be literally invisible. The problem is that this boy shows absolutely no interest whatsoever in his world and doesn't even think of getting up to the adventures and mischief any red-blooded boy would think of if he were literally invisible as this boy is. He's so profoundly and irremediably boring.

The kick to the story is of course that this girl moves into an apartment just along the hall from his, and she can see him, but when they meet, it's set up like he tiptoes past her to go to his apartment. He claims he can't get in because he has to retrieve his key and he doesn't want her to see a key floating in the air apparently, but it's already been established that when he puts his clothes on, they also become invisible, and immediately after he puts food in his mouth, it also becomes invisible, so why wouldn't the key? For that matter, why wouldn't he simply carry the key with him? The boy's an idiot.

If Levithan had said the guy couldn't enter because he didn't want her to see a door open and close by itself, that would be one thing, but he didn't! Even that could have been written-off as someone looking out of their apartment and then closing the door, and I would have bought that. I can't buy the stupid and thoughtless scenario I was presented with here.

The girl is written just as dumbly, because she drops her keys and the boy doesn't offer to help because he doesn't think she can see him, but she can, and she chews him out for not helping her instead of doing what any self-possessed person would, which is put her bags down, get the keys, open the door, pick her bags up, and go inside! In short, she's also an idiot who would rather play the helpless maiden in distress than get on with things under her own steam. What she does is the precise equivalent of the old saw of a woman dropping a handkerchief to get a guy's attention! It was pathetic. She's precisely the opposite of a strong female character and I have no time for female characters like this one.

Do I want to read a story about two idiots and instadore? Hell no. The whole story struck me as short-sighted, artificial, and poorly thought-through. It was obviously a catastrophe waiting to happen, and not in a fun way. I couldn't stand to read any more of it!


North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley


Rating: WARTY!

This was a print book I picked up because the premise sounded like it might offer something different from your usual YA trash of the helpless beautiful maiden in distress rescued by a boy - as though women are utterly useless and need to be rescued all the time. In the end it turned out to be precisely that, and I had to DNF it because it was so badly written, and yet another first person voice fiasco.

Terra Cooper (yes, that's her idiotic name) has everything a YA girl could want: blond hair and an enviable body, also a jock boyfriend, but we're told she has a flawed face. Her family is, predictably in YA, also flawed. Her father refuses to pay for her to go to the small college of her choice, trying to force her to go to the overly large college which is only three hours away where he can still control her. Terra wants to be further from him than that but is apparently too stupid to understand that her father wouldn't agree, and instead, seek a student loan or a scholarship. In short, she's a moron. But none of this really matters because Terra's only real problem is her obsession with the 'port wine' stain on her face, which lasers don't seem to have been able to remove.

Naturally a woman as hopeless as this needs to be rescued by a "handsome but quirky Goth boy." Clearly the novel is supposed to teach lessons about skin-deep and self-determination, but the amount of obsessing over the port-wine in the few pages I could stand to read told me this was going nowhere interesting or good, and also that the novel was going to be completely untrue to its premise. And the cartographic references were way the hell overdone even in the short portion I read.

That wasn't even the worse part (and no, it's not that I actually paid for this with my own money, either!). The worst part was why a woman who'd had this stain on her face her whole life would be obsessed with it now rather than so used to it that she rarely gave it any thought. It was entirely unrealistic. If this obsession was indeed the case, then this girl has bigger problems than which college she goes to, or a control-freak father, and she needs serious psychiatric help. I doubt a handsome Goth boy is up to the task.

The novel was pedantic and boring, predictable and asinine. I do not recommend it.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce


Rating: WARTY!

This was a novel I bought thinking it might give an interesting take on the Snow Queen story, but while it started out great, it failed about halfway through when the main character stupidly left her car unlocked with valuables inside, stupidly chased after the men who stole from her, stupidly ran into their trap, and stupidly got captured by "gypsies" who of course were magical people and knew all about the Snow Queen and could help this totally ineffectual non-hero of a main female character. Stereotype Much Jackson Pearce?

The Snow Queen (aka Snedronningen) was originally written by Hans Christian Andersen and was first published, appropriately on or about the winter solstice of 1844. He gets absolutely zero mention or credit, not even in this author's acknowledgements. What an ingrate of a rip-off artist she is. Now I like her less than I liked the main character! She even steals the name of one of the main characters from Snow Queen - Kai, for the guy Ginny goes tumbling after like Jill down a hill. That's Ginny, because the author evidently wasn't interested in ripping off the name Gerda (the main girl in the story) even as she ripped-off pretty much the entire story!

The Snow Queen has no name in the original (not that Andersen chose to share, but she was modeled on actor Johanna Maria Lind, better known as Jenny Lind so why call her Mora? Why not Johanna? Did the author not know or care enough about the original story to think of this? Names are important in stories, but apparently not to this author who didn't care enough about her characters to think about what the names mean. If she didn't care, why should we? Just FYI, Kai is really form Kaj which means Earth.

Andersen apparently fell in love with Jenny, but she wasn't interested in him so he modeled the icy heart of the snow queen on this rejection. That's a far more interesting story than this author delivered. Wh not name her as an anagram of Snedronningen, for example, Rennin Songend? Gerda comes form a Norse word meaning protected, which makes sense when you think of the story. The best the author could come up with as a replacement was Ginny? Which means Virgin? The two are nothing alike! Alexia and Shamiria both mean pretty much the same thing as Gerda. Would not one of those have been better? Oh, but it has to be an all-American white girl, and it has to be set in the USA because it's YA! Never mind!

The book was first person because the law requires that every YA novel to be first person, or the author will end up in the cooler, right? Wrong! It especially has to be worst person voice if it has a main female character, right? No! This author admitted what a juvenile mistake she'd made when she had to add chapters (and a prologue, which I skipped as usual...yawn) in third person from the perspective of Mora, the name of the Snow Queen in this novel. Mora is Gaelic and means 'star of the sea' so it has nothing whatsoever to do with ice, snow or cold! This author is pretty dumb when it comes to names. Those third person chapters could easily have been left out. It was very amateurish to include them and it spoiled the book even more than the author was already managing to do.

Like I said, I got about halfway through and asked, "why am I even reading this?" I had no good answer and dropped it like a melting icicle. Unlike such an icicle, it was going nowhere and the main character was too limp to care about. I cannot recommend this. It'll be a cold day in Georgia (USA) before I read anything else by this author. If her next work is anything like this novel, then it's a waste of a perfectly good tree. I'd rather look at the the tree.