Showing posts with label tedious. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tedious. Show all posts

Friday, December 6, 2019

Extreme Medical Services by Jamie Davis

Rating: WARTY!

This was a seriously disappointing audiobook both the story and the reading of it. I should say up front that I'm not a fan of vampire, werewolf, or other shifter stories. I have read one or two that were worthwhile, but those were few and very far between. As for the vast majority of them, they vary only between laughably unimaginative and downright brain-dead stupid, but this one seemed like it offered a new angle: that of a med tech who caters to this supernatural crowd, and I made the beyond the grave mistake of deciding to give it a try. I sure learned my lesson.

The biggest problem is that this story felt like it was written by an author who was not painting by numbers, but writing by numbers, trying to get the 'right' concepts in the publisher-approved spaces, and he became so focused on that, that he forgot he was supposed to be relating an original and engaging story. So while his writing-by-numbers was perfect, in those latter categories, this story was an abject failure. It was so unrealistic - even within its own framework - that it constantly kicked me out of any suspension of disbelief by reminding me far too often of how profoundly stupid it was.

So we start the story with the predictable in the middle of a crisis situation, then we immediately revert to flashback mode, which brings the story to a screeching, jarring halt. Even that might have been survivable had it not been for the brain-dead writing. The author expects us to believe that a med tech who graduated with a great track record in his academic life, and thereby earned himself an unexpected berth in the supernatural med-tech world, would be thrown into a service about which he was profoundly ignorant, never even heard of, let alone knows anything professionally, and in this state of dangerous ignorance, be sent out on emergency calls with absolutely zero preparation and training.

Yes, if your goal is to slaughter your patients through sheer incompetence, then by all means go right ahead and do that. If you're serious about your work though, and intent upon saving lives, then you tell your proby up-front what he's going to be doing, you'll ascertain with certitude if he's okay with that, and you'll train him as to the special needs of the supernatural clientele so he can actually be of use instead of floundering from the off! You don't toss him into it in the dark without a word that his patients will all be supernatural, and that his first call is going to be a werewolf in the middle of a diabetes-induced transition. Wait a minute, a werewolf with diabetes? No, not a werewolf - a lycan! I'm sorry, but this was all horse-shit, and did I mention stupid? As much as I would have liked to have read an intelligent take using this plot, I could not stand to read any more of this absurd garbage.

One of the warning signs, which I ought to have heeded was the EMT lecturing the new guy on the fact that werewolves prefer to be called lycans - a term shamelessly lifted straight from the Underworld movie series. Why would these alien creatures prefer to use a human-invented, if venerable, term for a disease? Like I said, the author was so intent upon conforming to established standards, that he rendered his book into a boring joke instead of an engrossing read. I ditched it very quickly. This is precisely why I don't read this genre: it's boring as hell! It would be nice to find something new and different, but in a way it's quite reassuring and even encouraging to know that nothing has changed. Now I know I don't need to waste any more of my time on this tedious crap for a couple more years at least.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Fanny Hill) by John Cleland

Rating: WARTY!

Written while in prison by an evidently horny inmate, this is a first person voice novel, purporting to be a memoir by a woman, now of means, who is recollecting her earlier, less secure and well-off years. Frances Hill's nickname, some claim, recalls the Latin mons Veneris, the mound of Venus. In Latin, that is actually Veneris montem. Mons Veneris refers to Kunlun. Mons pubis is a wiser choice term. Veneris was the Roman word for Friday: dies Veneris because Venus was associated with pagan god Frija. Note that Fanny, in the UK, does not reference the posterior as it does in the US, but precisely the opposite.

I have to report that this novel is complete bullshit, notwithstanding the pretentious literary garbage that's been written about it by clueless so-called scholars. If this had been written today, it would have gone nowhere and no actual literary scholar would have been caught dead analyzing it, so that tells us all we kneed to know about it.

It's nothing more than authorial wish-fulfillment, and the way it's written shows no understanding of women at all. It's entirely a man's book form a male PoV, doing nothing more than your typical porn movie does - having some purportedly innocent woman be accosted by an erect male and instead of being horrified, turned off, or angered by his presumption and shunning him, she immediately leaps on him and has unprotected sex. She's not concerned one whit about her own satisfaction, not even remotely, but only about getting him off as quickly and in as many positions as she can possible accommodate!

This lame excuse for a novel, which is right up there with every modern derivative of it, is exactly that: it's pornography, not-so-pure and decidedly simple, with zero pretension to literature. It delights in describing, in first (or is it forced?) person recall, how awed and overwhelmed Fanny is at every sight of an erect penis which is invariably described in aggressive masculine terms as an arrow, or a weapon, for example. It's not very inventive. Let's face it: it's poorly-conceived and badly-written garbage. 'Scholars' who claim it's anything else are morons. I can't commend it based on the portion of it that I could stand to read.

Outlaw by Edward W Robertson

Rating: WARTY!

This was a sci-fi novel which is evidently part of the 'Rebel Stars' series and I should really have paid attention to that - not just that it was a series starter, and therefore I probably wouldn't like it, but also that name of the series which struck me as half-baked and overdone at the same time. I also should have been warned off by the blurb, which, despite this novel being published in 2014, starts out, "in the year 2010, an alien virus nearly wiped out the human race." Funny, but I don't recall that happening!

This is the second story by this author that I've read and I've been pleased with neither of them sdo I guess I'm done reading his material from this point on. He doesn't plot well, and so this idea in this particular story of an alien virus was poorly planned. No such virus is likely to harm humans because viruses, parasites, and bacteria evolve and specialize, so unless this alien virus evolved alongside humans, how is it going to even begin to affect us? Was it genetically engineered? There's no word on that, and the events of the novel tale place a millennium after the virus, so how is it relevant? Maybe it all 'falls together' later, but I didn't have the patience to read that far. To me it just felt like his signature style: poorly thought-out plotting. If you're going to write sci-fi, you really ought to have some knowledge of science!

As I mentioned, the story jumps from the wipe-out to a thousand years hence when humanity ("mankind" according to the genderist blurb, not 'humankind'), has recovered from this virus, so why even introduce the virus in the first place? Aren't we immune to it now? And if it's a thousand years with no return of the virus and no aliens in sight, then why is everyone so jumpy thinking aliens are lurking around every corner? That would be like us, in 2019, living in fear of Attila the Hun. And how are you going to shoot that alien virus anyway, if it returns? LOL!

The novel was a tedious read and after these people got into two bar fights in the first few pages, I decided I had better things to do with my time than plow through this anymore. I can't commend it except as trash-ready garbage.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Ambassador Seeing Red by Patty Jansen

Rating: WARTY!

Once again a novel where the blurb makes it sound interesting, but the practice of reading it was an exercise in tedium. I really must quit reading the first book of a series in the hope it might be worth the journey before we get to the end, especially if it's in first person because that's nearly always a grave mistake. The main character here, Cory Wilson, seemed so self-obsessed and self-important, and so profoundly stupid, that I was ready to barf, and I gave up on this tedious tome in short order.

It's supposed to be all on this guy to stop an Interstellar war. Ri-ight. I had no faith in him doing a damned thing, especially not in volume one of a series that I now discover has at least ten volumes. That tells me this author has no idea how to concisely tell a story and is more in love with her own writing than actually getting on with it and having a start, a middle, and an ending. No thanks. Here's hoping the aliens win! At least they, so the author, without a whit of irony, tells us, know how to get to the point!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Superhero's Test by Timothy L Cerepaka, aka Lucas Flint

Rating: WARTY!

I'm very late with this particular review because I've had the book for some time and never got around to it, so apologies for that. The author is, in my opinion, dishonestly publishing this under a fake name. I have no idea why authors do this. It's ridiculous, but there it is: new genre, new name. I'd have to have a dozen aliases if I published my work under a different name for each genre. I've never seen the point of it and it turns me off an author.

That aside, I discovered this book was only the first three chapters and then the author offered an almost blackmail-like demand at the end to go buy it at Amazon if you want to read the rest! I don't, and if I did I would never give money to Amazon, not even to get a book in return. From this point onwards I'm going to downgrade all books which offer Amazon and only Amazon as a source, like it's the only bookseller on the planet. I'm sorry if you've allowed yourself to be deluded into thinking that, but it isn't and it never will be. Bezos's terrifying and abusive Behemoth only has the power it has because a collective we have voluntarily surrendered that power to it and we can take it back any time we wake up and realize what a huge mistake that was.

As it happens it was easy to fail this particular book because the writing was atrocious, set in high-school but reading like it was written for middle-graders, the story completely unimaginative and the plot a dismal and tired, should be retired, trope. It's first person voice, so fail there. That voice is almost always a mistake and in this case it lent the main character a disturbing arrogance. It was disturbing because this child has dangerous superpowers and all we're getting is a matter-of-fact story from this same, single source! There's no awe and wonder here, just 'hey! Look how great I am'! Barf. Super? No! heroic? No.

The very first sentence ends with main character Kevin Jake Jason stating, “ least before I punched the local school bully through the cafeteria wall with one blow after I lost my temper.” There's no sign of an apology or a regret there, and clearly the author wants to grab our attention with violence more than anything else in a so-called superhero story. Where's the super? Where's the heroic? That term is thrown into the mix far too readily these days, just like the word 'hero' is bandied-around in real life to the extent that it has become meaningless and therefore no accolade at all. Coming right after that sentence, without any evidence of remorse, we get an introduction: “My name is Kevin Jake Jason and I am seventeen-years-old and an only child.” How is any of that relevant?

Naturally, Kevin is the new boy at school (yawn), and he ends up with the misfits (yawn II) and is bullied (yawn III) all in the next few pages. The amount of rampant and unchecked school bullying going on in these books, with the victim being the one who is punished, is laughable. And a major turn-off. But just as Kevin is about to be taken to the principal's office (apparently not a single teacher was present in the dining hall in this school), he's magically rescued by his dad, who evidently is a retired "superhero" who somehow magically knew that Kevin was in trouble at school and materialized to rescue him and spread a lie about what happened. Super? No! heroic? No! Talk about helicopter parenting. How he knew Kevin was in trouble isn't explained, at least not in my three charity chapters, but evidently this is how Kevin got his powers - it's a manly thing, see?

How does Kevin get out of trouble? Well, his dad evidently is a big fan of Men in Black, because he produces a magic light that wipes the minds of everyone present, and then he tells them what they should remember. Yawn. See what I mean about tired tropes and lack of imagination? This book is a huge fail, and don't try reading it in Adobe Digital Editions because for some reason that cuts off the last few lines of every page. Don't know why. But I don't care because I'm done with this novel and this author. I'm sorry I wasted my valuable time on it.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Cold Copper by Devon Monk

Rating: WARTY!

I've read material from Devon Monk before and enjoyed it which is why I picked this up, but this wasn't to my taste at all, and I DNF'd it pretty quickly. Whoever it was who decided that paranormal needed to be an integral part of Steampunk, and actual steampunk didn't, I don't know, but I'm not onboard with that scheme of things unless there's a really good reason to toss in everything, including the kitchen sink. Apart from rabid desperation and lack of imagination, there usually isn't.

This was book three in the "Age of Steam" series, but once again there was absolutely zip on the cover to indicate that to potential readers. Thanks assholes at Penguin Publishing Group for letting me know what unrelibale and unhelpful morons you all are. I'll keep your dedicated incompetence in mind.

But really I should probably blame myself. It said right there on the back cover blurb that the main character's name was Cedar Hunt. Seriously? I was so distracted by the name that I completely missed that he was a lycanthrope. That alone would have saved me from this novel! I should have followed my gut instinct to avoid like the plague any novel that has a ridiculous main character name like that. Instead, I made the grievous error of thinking that if I liked one book by this author, maybe I'll like another. I can see now why readers have absolutely no loyalty to authors whatsoever any more, and maybe that's a good thing.

But I digress, as usual. So anyway, the story was supposed to be about this werewolf (Monk evidently doesn't have the guts to call 'em like she sees 'em) who is hunting for a magical thing (yeah, magic!) that's capable of great destruction (yeah, world-shattering!). There are seven pieces to this, so presumably that means seven novels at the very least in this rat's nest of a series. It's a pity the Holder didn't destroy the series before it got this far. A glacial storm forces Cedar Hunt (he's hunting for the Holder, get it? He can't Cedar holder for da storm though) and his party to cannibalize each other (kidding). No, they take refuge from the storm in Des Moines, Iowa, and it's arguable really whether that's better than freezing to death. At least that latter would have got them a kiss from Elsa. Or Frozone if they preferred.

Des Moines is ruled not by monks (Devon Monk, des moines, get it?), but by Iron Fist - or at least the iron fist of some evil dude. And so it goes. Apparently this witch is so pathetic that she can't carve them out a warm igloo amidst the storm so this entire volume of the book looks to me like it's not going to expend a single joule of energy on getting closer to the Holder, but instead, is going to be completely sidetracked. Another problem with series. But at least I never got invested in this one. It didn't even have any steampunk - at least not in the bit I read. Instead, it had all the hallmarks of a western featuring witches, but it was so tediously-written and there was such an underlying stench of a Hollowquim romance about it that I could not stand to read more than two chapters about these characturds before I gave up. It was nice knowing you once Devon Moin, but no fear we must part ways here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Spring Skies Over Bluebell Castle by Sarah Bennett

Rating: WARTY!

This story sounded intriguing to me since I was born and raised in Derbyshire where it's set, but it fell short of the glory of a great story and it happened quickly. The language was far too flowery for my taste for one thing:

“As she stepped down onto the creamy marble floor of the imposing entrance hall, a blast of cold from the open front door sent a shiver through her, and she was glad for the thermal vest hidden beneath her silk blouse. A strip of Wedgwood blue sky showed over the rooftops of the buildings across the street.“
Creamy? Imposing? Silk? Wedgwood? At least she spelled Wedgwood right so credit where credit is due, but this was way too much, especially when most of it was all in one sentence.

And this is how we meet Lucie Kennington, who works for a high-end art gallery and is suspended in a most unrealistic way when an art piece she brought to the attention of the gallery is apparently stolen by being switched out for a fake. This made no sense to me since if she wanted to steal it, then why the hell would she ever bring it to the attention of the gallery in the first place? She found it hanging unsung on someone's wall and recognized it for what it was. If she were going to be dishonest about it, she would have offered the owner a few pounds for it and made out like gangbusters in the profit. If their beef is that it was stolen, not necessarily by her, then the problem is security, not the woman who found the piece.

So she gets suspended while an investigation takes place, and immediately this turns into one of those 'weak women fleeing back to her home town - or in this case to the countryside' which is precisely the kind of chick-lit story I detest. I foolishly picked this one up to read thinking it might be different and intrigued by the Derbyshire aspect. I had little to nothing of Derbyshire in the part I read which was admittedly limited.

All I really got was dumb-ass Lucie and an even more dumb-ass family of landed gentry named after characters from Arthurian mythology (which has nothing to do with Derbyshire, BTW) dealing with a financial crisis in their castle. It's patently obvious she's going to get it on with Arthur Ludworth who "might just be the most handsome man Lucie’s ever laid eyes on." Barf. Arthur has 'shaggy hair' of course which is probably why she can’t wait to shag him.

Of course, Arthur's salvation is once more a painting which Lucie recognizes and which is worth a fortune. I'm guessing the art gallery will find Lucie completely innocent and beg her to return, for her only to thumb her nose at them now she's King Arthur's trophy wife.

I didn't like Luci or Arthur; they were both as dumb as a bag of dumbbells, so maybe that makes them a perfect match, but that really put the brakes on this story for me. Girl with a secret past afraid of being embarrassed, and too stupid to tell all to the man she's supposedly falling in love with? I'm sorry but 'dumb broads' are not remotely interesting to me, nor is the 'billionaire falls for the poor girl' kind of a story - which is what this is, close enough, and you don't even get the eroticism! LOL! I ditched it and was glad I did. There's better to be had out there than this; much better.

Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood

Rating: WARTY!

Narrated by someone with the highly-appropriate name of Kate Reading, but who ought to be named Kate Droning since she does an unfortunately monotonous job of it, this audiobook, which I had initially (and mistakenly) thought was a biography, turned out to be a tedious and pretentious fiction that tells us nothing whatsoever since it's the purest invention of the author. It turns out that Kate Reading is actually a fake name which I'm sure she thinks is hilarious.

Naturally it's rooted in the reality of Hemingway being unable to commit to a woman and holding the misogynistic and highly abusive idea that he ought to be entitled to a wife and a mistress at the same time and under the same roof, regardless of their wishes, but for me, this book did nothing to tell the real story of the women involved. It was far more about Hemingway and his four wives than ever it was about four women who happened at one point or another to be married to Ernest Hemingway.

The book felt like one of those where the title is along the lines of "The __________'s Daughter" or in this case, "The Iceberg Author's Wives" - it renders the women an appendage of someone else: a guy, rather than their own autonomous selves. I don't like that. I'm recently read such a work by Kate Moss and it was boring. It's going to be the last such book I read because the title is problematic for me from the off, before you even get to the story. The thing is though, that when I got to the story in this case, the author did precisely the same thing to these four women that such titles do to the female subjects of such novels. It's not appreciated and female writers in particular should be ashamed of writing things like that.

But I digress! So the first story is Hadley Hemingway going on about her competitive position with regard to Pauline Pfeiffer, but we really learn far less about these two women than we do about Hemingway, and it was disappointing. At that point I skipped to the one which interested me most, which was Martha Gellhorn, and after that, I quit listening altogether, because she wasn't in the story at all except as a story told by Hadley which even further removed her as a subject than Hadley had been! Go figure. I decided to go directly to the author's mouth and have reviewed - positively! - a couple of books that Martha Gellhorn actually wrote herself. Meanwhile I am done with this author. This book is bad writing, period.

Motherhood by Sheila Heti

Rating: WARTY!

Author Sheila Heti is very reminiscent in her features of actor Cate Blanchett, but while I like the latter, I am not a fan of the former after listening to the opening portion of this. I really have very little to say about this one since I listened to so little of it, but the style really rubbed me up the wrong way from the off. The New Yorker has a review by Alexandra Schwartz which describes this as "sometimes exasperating." I beg to disagree. It was entirely exasperating.

It was first person to begin with which, with few exceptions, is nearly always a mistake as a voice, and while I commend authors who read their own work in the audiobook, I cannot commend this one in this case, because her voice wasn't easy on my ears. It was rather strident and domineering and felt like I was being lectured about something I'd done wrong! Well sorry, I'm a guy! Fatherhood is my thing. Motherhood isn't even possible for me! Do please forgive me!

This was one of the most egregious examples of the first person - what I'd call a #MeOnly style - and it was truly tedious to listen to. It was rambling and uninteresting, and I simply couldn't get into it. I gave up on it in short order and returned it to the library where hopefully someone, somewhere, somehow will find it to their taste.

The blurb claims that "Motherhood treats one of the most consequential decisions of early adulthood - whether or not to have children - with the intelligence, wit and originality" but this is patent bullshit - or perhaps in this case, baby shit. The blurb promised that the novel would follow her internal debate about whether to get pregnant "Over the course of several years, under the influence of her partner, body, family, friends, mysticism and chance" and I couldn't stand the thought of having to listen to this droning self-indulgence for that long.

I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas by Lewis Black

Rating: WARTY!

This was a comedian's take on Christmas and it was therefore supposed to be funny, but it was entirely the opposite: tedious, obvious, and not remotely funny. I skipped the middle completely and listened to a bit on the end while I was on the way back to the library to drop it off, and the guy seems to have majored in name-dropping in comedy school, because he was talking about a USO tour and he made no attempt at humor. All he did was drop names, so I dropped him - back into the library return box.

I love my library, but it recently lost yet another audiobook I dropped off in the box. As with the previous three occasions, I was the one who found it - for the fourth time on the library shelf, evidently put back there without being checked back in. Now I wish it had been this one they lost. I would not have gone looking for it!

Eye to I by Rolf Nelson

Rating: WARTY!

Rolf Nelson is a Professor of Psychology and Dorothy Reed Williams Professor in the Social Sciences at Wheaton College (the one in Massachusetts, not the idiotic creation-preaching one in Illinois), and the only thing I can say is that I pity anyone who has to sit through one of his lectures, unfortunately. These are a series of lectures which I thought might be interesting in view of the topic of the next book in my The Little Rattuses™ children's picture book series, but I'm sorry to report that there was little to nothing to see here, so I moved along.

The idea was to discuss how we see things and how our brain interprets what we see, but the lectures were dry, humorless, rambling and repetitive, and it was truly tedious to listen to them. I kept skipping tracks to move on to more interesting bits, but those were sadly very few and quite far between. I know it's a big academic thing to get a book out there on whatever topic it is that you teach, but I really think it's better not to put one out rather than publish one this bad. You'll learn more from reading Wikipedia on the topic of sight and color vision, even if it's tough-going, than you will from these lectures and stay awake in the process. This was awful.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie

Rating: WARTY!

This is a short audiobook that I thought I would give a try. I am not much of a fan of Christie's writing, but I did enjoy the Hercule Poirot series on TV to the point where I even wrote a parody of Murder on the Orient Express. I have to really like something or really hate something to do a parody of it, and I'm not thinking of doing a Miss Marple parody, but I know nothing of those particular stories, so I decided to give this try since I found it on audiobook. My bad!

It's read by Joan Hickson, a Brit actor with whom I'm familiar (no, not that familiar!). She played the role of Miss Marple in a TV series of the same name (Marple, not Hickson!). There were twelve shows, and one of them was based on this particular novel. I may try to see that if I can get my hands on it, just out of curiosity, but this particular novel I found far too plodding and filled with too much extraneous detail to be entertaining. I think Hickson was the wrong choice too, because her voice, sorry to say, sounds a bit too mouth-filled-with-marbles for enjoyment. It reminded me of the voices the Monty Python crew used when they were impersonating women. I can see why the publisher hired her, but going the 'obvious' path isn't typically the best option and for me it didn't work well here.

Christie is the world's all-time best-selling author, even as of today, having sold some three billion books (that's not the same as saying almost half the planet's population have read her!), which ranks her behind only the Bible and Shakespeare, but I have to ask, if Christie had never lived, and some unknown writer today wrote her books and offered them for sale, would a publisher actually buy them or would that poor writer end up having to self-publish if they wanted to get anything out there?

Would these books sell even if they were picked up by a mainstream publisher? Would a publisher even pick up a typescript to read if its title was "4:40 from Paddington"?! I may be wrong of course, find it hard to believe that they would. Certainly not as well as they historically did. But guess what? Her books are now starting to come into the public domain, so who knows what new writers will do with them?

Anyway, this one, first published in 1957, has the interesting plot of a woman traveling on a train which happens to run in parallel for a short time, with another train traveling in the same direction. Through the windows, before the trains part company, the woman witnesses a man strangling a woman on the other train, and when she reports this to the train authorities (why them and not the police I have no idea) they dismiss her story, thinking she has dreamed it after reading a magazine story about someone who was strangled.

The woman is a friend of Miss Marple of course. I have a theory about this. People like this Marple and this Poirot (and far too many others) always seem to be around when murders are committed! It seems only logical to conclude that they somehow cause the murders. How else can you account for them being in such proximity to so many of them?

Anyway, when the woman reports this murder to Marple, she's believed, and the two of them then go to the police, where Maple knows the desk sergeant. They're taken more seriously, but when inquiries come up blank, Miss Marple recruits a small army of advisors to figure out where the body most likely was tossed from the train. She's working on the theory that this was a planned murder, the murderer throwing the body out at a convenient, but secluded location, and then afterwards coming back by car and picking it up to dispose of it.

The basic problem here is: why would he plan it on a train? If he could lure the victim onto a train ride with him, he could evidently lure her anywhere. The limp excuse given is that someone might see him with his victim and remember it if he tried the murder somewhere else, but this completely ignores the fact that everyone and their uncle would see him and this poor woman going onto the train together! So, not so well thought out.

What got to me though was the excessive detail which had nothing to do with the murder or the investigation: eating all the food at the table, clearing away the dishes, washing the dishes. Sorry, but no! There was too much of this, and the story felt perfunctory even with these details, like Christie wrote this as detailed notes, but never bothered to flesh them out before it was published. While the plot was a good starting point, the story itself felt poorly-written and was consequently unentertaining, and I gave up on it. Besides, everyone knows the Butler did it, right? Or the doctor.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Cinderella Screwed Me Over by Cindi Madsen

Rating: WARTY!

I'm not opposed to chick lit and I've read a bit of it myself although it's not my first choice of genre, but quite honestly this was the worst kind of chick lit - arguably anti-#MeToo. I didn't read much of it, but to me it looked like the only connection it had to Cinderella was that the girl met her tediously predictably hunky guy when her stiletto heel got stuck in a crack between floorboards in this restaurant she frequents and in which this guy is part owner.

Her shoe comes off of course and he hands it back to her, but instead of leaving it to her to put it on, he puts his hand on her hip - not her arm or shoulder, or offers her his own arm for balance, but uninvited, he puts his hand on her hip 'to steady her', and she gets the wilts and the vapors. I'm immediately thinking, "I'm outta here. This is not my literature!" so I gave up on it. At only a few pages in.

Despite having a professional job in an office, this girl did not come off as very smart to me. She automatically assumed this guy was a liar when he told her he was part owner of the restaurant, like she was an expert on the place just because she eats there often. Neither is she the impoverished stepsister, so what this had to do with Cinderella, I have no idea. All I had actually needed to know is whether it was trespassing on my Cinderella territory or I on its, and the answer to that was a resounding 'no!' The story's nothing like what I'm writing so I fortunately don't need to be concerned with it at all, which is great, because I certainly didn't want to continue reading it.

I don't get why so many female authors so frequently subject their main characters to manhandling by strange men and then instead of becoming annoyed at it, turn to Jell-O. It sucks and it needs to stop. These two 'girls' were in the restaurant at the time of the shoe incident, so it probably wouldn't have been hard for the guy to quickly grab a chair from a nearby table. If they'd done that and she'd sat down and asked him to put the shoe on for her, that might have brought it a bit more in line with Cinderella and certainly been more socially acceptable and even romantic, but this author doesn't get it, and that's a problem. It might have been better yet if the guy had been part owner of a shoe store rather than a restaurant so he'd be naturally helping her to try-on shoes.

I didn't get how being a part owner fo a restaurant made him any kind of a prince either, unless the restaurant was Burger King! LOL! But as it happens, I really don't care because this story was trashy pap and not worth anyone's time. Readers need to demand better. Much better. More original, better written, more intelligent, and with real people instead of antique Barbie and Ken dolls.

A Dark Inheritance by Chris D'Lacey

Rating: WARTY!

Read rather oddly by Raphael Corkhill, this was another audiobook which started out really well and then Le Stupide set in big time. I had thought I was going to get through it unscathed, but it was not to be. About two-thirds the way in, it went south with the ducks - and normally I like ducks. Some of my best friends are...not ducks, but anyway, to see them in the southbound lane was still rather sad. Duck asses are not the most engaging of sights.

The initial premise was an interesting one and the story changed up periodically so it did not quickly become boring, but the more I listened, the less the story seemed to have a plan to go anywhere. It wasn't until later that I discovered why. The main character was so passive as to be tedious, as was his momma! Worse than this, I discovered by skipping to the end after I'd given up on it, that this novel is part of a series, of which there is zero indication whatsoever on the book cover, so the publisher is outright lying to readers and I will not countenance that.

This explains why this novel never was interested in going anywhere. The author gave up that motivation when he decided to thinly-stretch material sufficient for one book into a trilogy or more. Michael learns nothing - not even how to control his ability, and he never does learn a damned thing about his father because this is not a novel, it's a prologue.

By accident, this semi-orphan with the uninventive name of Michael Malone discovers that he has the ability to not so much change reality as to be able to switch between realities in a multiverse. He can only do this at first when under stress, which is how he does it the first time. His new reality is always very similar to the old one with some minor changes, but the important thing is that he's supposed to be able to switch to one which conforms to some idea he has of the kind of reality he wants to live in.

Michael is seventeen. A kid of that age ought to be at a point in life where he has some self-motivation and some idea of what he wants out of life, along with a few grown-up thoughts here and there, but none of this is true with Michael who acts more like he's thirteen. He has no excitement or curiosity whatsoever about his magical power and shows no inclination at all to investigate it or to try to use it to put himself into a reality where his father is back with the family, and the villains are out of his life. He'd evidently much rather attend his own self-pity party.

These villains arrive suddenly in the form of a young French woman and an older German man by the name of Klimt. We never learn how they latched on to Michael, but apparently it's through his missing father who evidently had some of the same abilities as Michael does. Klimt wants to use Michael for some purpose of his own and holds the carrot of finding Michael's father and the stick of changing Michael's reality into something horrible. These people are from the "Unicorne" society and Michael at one point discovers he's been inducted into it while he was unconscious after an bike accident. Now he has now has a black Unicorne tattoo, which covers a spot in his skin where he has, he's informed, been injected with a microchip for the purpose of tracking him not only in this reality, but in others, too.

Michael shows zero anger at this, zero curiosity about how he can disable the chip, and no amusement at how pathetic it is that this secret society blatantly advertises its existence with this unusual tattoo. This was my first adverse reaction to the story. If this had been a middle grade novel, then I could probably have countenanced this , but for a young adult novel it was pathetic at best. There are ways to write that do not make your characters look limp, or stupid, and your story amateur, but this author is apparently too lazy or unimaginative to think of them, hence his penchant for writing series with uninventive titles. That coupled with the laziness and lack of imagination inherent in writing a series is enough to avoid this author like the plague from now on. I expect a lot better from a university-educated writer. Or maybe that's the problem.

It got worse when the story began to drag with little-to-nothing happening. At one point Michael is hit by a car when riding his bicycle and ends up in a private hospital where the doctor is of course Klimt, and the nurse is this same French girl. On top of this there are two police detectives investigating the car accident, yet they are literally grilling Michael over matters that are totally irrelevant to what happened and neither Michael nor his mother objects to this line of questioning. That immediately said "Dumbasses" to me, and it's where I quit being interested in this purportedly young adult, but more like middle grade or younger story.

I skimmed to the end, and discovered that the book has no resolution whatsoever, and so is merely a prologue to volume two. I don't do prologues, and I do not accept books like this one. I would have rated this negatively for treating readers like mushrooms (keeping them in the dark and feeding them bullshit) if it hadn't already failed me. The book is poorly written and is a rip-off. I dis-recommend it.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Ella the Slayer by AW Exley

Rating: WARTY!

"Let me give you a leg up then" says the young Duke to Ella at one point after they have just met at the beginning of this story, as she is about to mount her horse. His hands are all over her and her legs are jelly. Hell no! FUCK NO! What the hell is wrong with AW Exley that she thinks this is anything more than pure YA weak protagonist garbage? After the disastrous Nefertiti's Heart, I should have learned my lesson and never picked up another Exley as long as I lived, but there I went and here it goes, into the garbage. I guess I can at least say I got what I paid for, since this was a free offering in a book flyer and I was interested because I've had my own focus on Cinderella recently.

The blurb didn't make this clear, but this book is nothing but a Zombie apocalypse, written in the mold (take that word either way) of books like Jane Slayre and others. Ella, of course, is the femme fatale, and the Duke is the guy whom she needs to validate her because she's nothing but a princess in desperate need of a prince. Barf. It's young adult trash and it's not even worth the free price. Warty to the max. Plus it's not even a novel, it's a prologue to a series. Double barf.

Goslings by JD Beresford

Rating: WARTY!

Read rather awkwardly by Matthew Brenher, this audiobook was a quick fail. I am not one for these end-of-the-world survivor stories, but this particular one seemed interesting from the blurb, which means only that the blurb did its job in luring me into picking up the thing.

Once I started listening to it though, it was boring. It was really nothing different from any other apocalypse story, and the characters were completely uninteresting to me. The story was too lethargic; I made it through less than ten percent before I ditched it back to the library in favor of something which wouldn't make me fall asleep listening, which would be disastrous when driving a car! I can't commend it based on my admittedly limited experience of it, but life is far too short to waste on books that don't do it for you right out of the gate.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite, Maritza Moulite

Rating: WARTY!

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

I had looked forward to reading this, but in the end I was very disappointed. There were problems with this novel from the very start and not just with the writing. The most noticeable was that this was evidently created as a print book and no thought whatsoever was given to the conversion to ebook. Submitting it in Amazon Kindle format was the first mistake. Amazon is renowned for trashing books when running them through its crappy kindle conversion process, and this one was a disaster. I've said this many times before and I will never tire of saying it until Amazon fixes it: unless your book is essentially plain vanilla, Amazon will trash it.

You can get away with bold fonts and italicized text, but the moment you start putting page headers in there, and drop caps, text box inserts, or any sort of special layout or formatting, and Amazon will destroy it, guaranteed. Never put images in it. Despite this being a given, no one evidently ever thinks to check if the resulting ebook is ready for Amazon Prime time. This one was not. I get that this was an advance review copy, but there is no excuse for the shoddy condition it was in. Evidently no one bothered to check it. This is on the authors and the publisher. I'm at the point now where I'm about ready to fail a book in review for something like this regardless of what else it has right or wrong about it, because I'm so very tired of seeing books in this condition having been mauled in the Amazon jungle.

It's not just a matter of the odd bit here and there having an issue. As writers, we all have to suck that up, but when a book is appallingly mashed-up by the conversion process (which is Amazon's forte as judged by the repeated problems with books I read in Kindle format), someone needs to check it and fix it before it goes out. Given that this was an ARC, there is plenty of time to fix it before it's published in September, but this is really no excuse for putting out a book for review that evidently hasn't even been so much as grammar- and spell-checked:

Here's an example: "...Twitter account I reserve for ratchetness and told them where they could shove keep their opinions." There is a spelling error and a grammatical error right there. Right after this there was a whole section turned red - that is to say a red font as opposed to black. I often see red sections in Kindle format books, usually in the end papers at the beginning - which would be the beginning papers, right? These things make me see red because there's no excuse for them. In this book though, there were random red paragraphs all over the book. I have no idea what it is in Amazon's evidently sloppy and substandard conversion process which causes these, but it would have taken only a cursory glance through the book to see that there was a serious quality problem.

Here's a grammar problem that was evidently caused by a sentence being written one way, changed to sound a little different, and then never re-read to make sure it made sense: "I said she could just show up and show out be herself." Say what? Whether this was caused or contributed to by the fact that this novel had two writers, I do not know. I have often thought it would be nice to have a co-writer, because in addition to spurring on your partner, each of you could catch the other's mistakes, but from the evidence here, it doesn't work that way!

Another example is "...they replavced her presentation with a chat about resolving disputes..." which ostensibly is an attempt to mash two words (repaved and replaced) into one! Inventive, but not good English! I rather suspect though that it was a typo, 'V' and 'C' being next-door-neighbors on the keyboard. This is why I believe a final spellcheck/grammar check was never done on this novel before it was submitted to Net Galley for us poor reviewers who merit only the ebook!

Following are a couple of examples of the poor formatting created by Kindle conversion process; in both of them, the page header and number has been meshed with the text of the novel:

The guests included the usual round
table setup plus a congressperson or two.
This next one had both the header mesh and a red section:
BEAUPARLANT: Exactly. So, when the public hears rumors of expensive dinners at Zuma and court
side Miami Heat seats on their dime..."
The portion beginning 'BEAUPARLANT' and ending with 'court' was all in blood red! And these were all in the first fifth of the novel.

In this example, the page header cuts right into the middle of the word!

in my hands, shak
ing my head
Clearly something is wrong here.

When I got to around twenty percent, this red paragraph issue had become more than an aberration; it was so bad that I chose not to continue wrestling with a book that I wasn't even enjoying in the first place. I'm not a fan of experimental fiction and this felt like it. I'm not a fan of stories which are largely texting messages, or chat room exchanges or which incorporate large portions of such. I don't think it's edgy, I think it's tired and lazy writing. This book didn't go in for that so much as it went in for including the full text of emails, school event programs, transcripts, and that kind of thing. I quickly took to skipping these sections entirely and you know, it made no difference to my understanding of what was going on! So why include them? To me it's just lazy writing.

Because, I suspect, of these attempts to be cutting edge, the story became somewhat incoherent in places, and here I'm talking about what took place in the narrative flow of the text, not the parts where there were disruptive intrusions by emails and newspaper articles and so on. Skipping those parts actually made the story more coherent to me, but maybe that's just me.

The plot is about this one high-school girl, Alaine Beauparlant, a name which I thought was a bit much given she wants to be a journalist and her mother is a TV talk show host. Handsome-speaking? Really? Anyway, having been dissed in school by another girl in a very public way, Alaine reacts in kind, and gets punished for her misdemeanor while the other girl gets off scot-free. The other girl's behavior was without question outright bullying, yet she had no disciplinary action imposed on her while Alaine is suspended?! It's not authentic. Either that or Alaine attends a really, really bad school which didn't seem that way from what I read of it.

I never made it as far as Alaine's suspension. This was yet another novel set in a high-school where bullying is rampant and there is no accountability. I don't doubt that there is bullying in schools unfortunately, but reading about it in yet another YA story is getting very old, and it was only one of many tired tropes employed here. I'm also tired of stories where the girl needs to have the handsome beau, like no woman is sufficient on her own; she has to have her prince charming to validate her. This book could have done quite well without "Tati's distractingly cute intern." We need to have a #MeNeither movement to encourage writers to write about women who don't need men to get what they want out of life and get where they want to go. Maybe it should be tagged #MenOptional.

There was another disturbing issue here and this is a small spoiler, so be warned. Alaine's mother starts acting strangely very early in the story and this is apparently due to Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's usually hits late in life. Only about five percent of cases are early-onset, and sufferers don't typically become violent until late stage, and then only in extremis. While there is always room for aberrations, this story felt unrealistic in its approach to Alzheimer's, which didn't help its case with me. Just saying!

I wish the authors all the best with their career, but I could not get with, and cannot commend, this novel. It wasn't where it needed to be for my taste. If it had started with Alaine arriving in Haiti, cutting out all the high school BS that came before, it might have been be an improvement, but for me it wasn't working at all, and I chose to move on to something more engaging and more realistic.

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

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Rating: WARTY!

This was an audiobook that didn't start out well. It was first person which is typically not a good idea, but I would have been willing to put up with that had the story engaged me. It did not. It clearly had no intention of entering into an engagement, and was evidently just leading me on! Again, it wasn't aimed at me, but I've read many middle-grade stories that entertained. My current print book is one aimed at young middle grade and it's completely engaging.

The problem with this book was the complete disconnect between events and the main character's relation of them. Willow Chance (yes, that's her name) is returning from some sort of school trip when she sees a police car in her drive. It transpires that her parents have expired. You would think there would be some sort of an emotional reaction, but if you're expecting one from Willow, you're barking up the wrong tree. She barely reacts.

Instead, she starts rambling mindlessly and tediously about her life history. I had to DNF this book at about ten percent in due to projectile vomiting. Yes, I was vomiting actual projectiles in the form of uncouth language. Robin Miles's reading of the novel didn't help. It wasn't appallingly bad, but it did nothing to contribute to easing the discomfort, either. I cannot commend this based on my experience of the opening few chapters.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

I See a Bear, But... by KA Morgan

Rating: WARTY!

I tend to apply a different - but not a lower - standard to children's books in my reviews. I don't think they should offer less than books for grown-ups, but I cut them more slack in how they tell stories, in artwork, and sometimes in quality if the story is nevertheless good. I especially favor them if they're amusing, instructive, clever, or downright off the wall, which is probably why I love my own The Little Rattuses™ series so much. I couldn't do it with this one though.

I'm a great fan of puns and do not understand why something that was so beloved by Shakespeare has become such an object of derision these days, so I was amused by the title of this book and I had hoped the interior would deliver more of the same, but not exactly the same! The problem with this book was that all it did was essentially repeat the same butt joke eight times over, and the story didn't even deliver anything educational about the animals except the cliched general "knowledge" that everyone has about bears, moose, wolves, squirrels, rabbits, deer (even though a moose is in fact a deer!), raccoons, and skinks. And yes, moose is the plural of moose - not mooses, and certainly not meese.

The author has apparently made a rather extensive career out of this same shtick, because she has titles like "I See a Cat, But...", "I See a Chicken, But...", and "I See a Reindeer, But...", but it's the same thing endlessly repeated. There's nothing new or educational here and I cannot commend something as unimaginative and uninventive as this.