Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Review: The Steel Remains

The Steel Remains The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was my first experience with Richard Morgan, so I have nothing else to compare it to. Reading some of the other reviews on GoodReads, I see that many people prefer his straight Science Fiction works to his new Fantasy series.

I thought this was an excellent book. It started with action, and it rarely let up. Yet, it was had complex plotting, intrigue, and the most realistic characters I've seen in a book in a long time. All of the characters in this book, even the characters you see just briefly, are multi faceted. If there are "plot device" characters in this novel, I certainly couldn't pick them out. They were well integrated into the story, not just devices stuck in to move plot points along. The main and secondary characters showed a depth that, frankly, has been missing in fantasy fiction of late. The relationships between the characters was complex, each of the three main characters having lives that were not easily described. All of them had faults, some big some little, and all of those faults weren't neatly tied up when it became time for them to become heroes again. They continued to be faulty characters who rose to the occasion. Isn't that just the way of people?

The one thing I would change about this book is the beating me over the head with the homophobia of the general populace. I get it. Ringil is gay and the peoples don't like it. Honestly, his being gay is not the most interesting thing about him, or the book. Bigotry happens. Archeth faced it too. Egar's situation was much more interesting as the bigotry towards him was about ideas (him having them instead of sticking with traditions) instead of physical attributes. I just thought it was overdone. But, if that is the biggest problem with this book, that isn't much of a problem at all.

The book is action filled and thought provoking and complex. If Fantasy novels are your thing and you don't object to violence or sexual situations, this is the book for you. But, it is violent, so be warned. Definitely an adult book, not for the kiddies.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Review: One Taste

One Taste One Taste by Allison Hobbs

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
The blurb on the front says "A Fast-Paced Sex Thriller with a lot of Eroticism" but the book did not deliver. It delivered fast pace and sex. There was nothing "thrilling" or "erotic" about it. You can't create eroticism just by using naughty words. That isn't enough anymore and there wasn't enough here to get me engaged.

I didn't like the characters and I don't think I was supposed to. The first thing we see is materialistic Regina and it all goes downhill from there. She isn't sympathetic at all, even though Hobbs tries to build in a backstory of heartbreak around a son who died in an accident. Maybe if we would have gotten the full story about the son up front it might have helped create more of a connection with Regina. Instead, we get the barest hint of her pain, but it seemed contrived without the full story. Her husband is another completely unsympathetic character. Did this man have ANY redeeming qualities? Any at all? He was a cardboard cutout character, there only to give Regina an excuse to do everything she did. Not only does that not work for him, it doesn't work for her either. Why do I feel badly for her when she stayed with someone like that? I don't believe that she did it for love. Why? Because there wasn't anything lovable about him, that's why. There wasn't anything lovable about either of them.

The rest of the characters were equally two dimensional and un-interesting. They showed no depth, no growth, no individualism. So if you have characters like that guess what suffers? That's right, the sex.

To put it bluntly, there was nothing sexy about the sex in this book. It wasn't hot. It wasn't "freaky" (despite the blurb from Zane on the back of the book). It was plain, like checking off the list of words: Pussy? Yep. Dick? Uh huh. Clit? Gotcha. Cum....yep. Great! We hit our quota. If it wasn't plain, it was ridiculous. I mean, did you really say:

"Yeah, his dick was husky like a mufucka"

Seriously? And I'm supposed to be aroused by that or laughing my ass off? Because I'm still laughing. Which is too bad because the one redeeming quality of this book was Cochise (aside from his nickname.) He was the only character that straddled the line between two dimensional and fully developed character. He wasn't all the way there, but he came closer than any of the others. He had his own voice and hinted that Hobbs might be a better writer than this book suggests.

But I knew I was in trouble on the first page with
"She could eye spy a knockoff with just a glance"

She could "eye spy"? Really? That's something a person might say, that doesn't belong in the narration. There is an old adage for writing called "show, don't tell." There is a lot of tell in this book, and not nearly enough show. Would I try another book by her? Probably. There were glimmers of things in this one that gave me hope. But, I'll definitely be checking out from the library instead of forking over my own recession dollars.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

It could just be me

But I think it kind of dulls the danger to be advertised as having a special (read cheaper) price.

Maybe you could be Cheap as Sin? Somewhat Dangerous? Maybe they could put the frickin' sticker somewhere else?

Review: Talk Me Down

Talk Me Down (Tumble Creek, #1) Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Do you know what is harder than writing a review of a book you really didn't like? Writing a review for a book you LOVED. You don't know where to start. You don't know when you're crossing the line from intelligent review to giggly fangirl. You don't know how you can do the book justice. The truth is, you can't do it justice because you have to READ THE BOOK to understand why it is so good. You can't capture that in a review. The best you can do is a "Why I liked this book" summary:

First and foremost, I loved the heroine in this book. If any of you read my reviews (and really, why would you?) you know that I have a longstanding problem with heroines. Either they are whiny, or stupid, or have GHH (glittery hoo haa) or everyone wants to sleep with them, be them, worship them, and have done nothing to earn that devotion. They often are mean with no repercussions treat their best friends (and everyone else) more like sidekicks than friends and make me wonder why anyone would want to be around them at all. Molly Jennings wasn't like that at all. Instead, she was warm and funny. She was kind, vulnerable and, most importantly, she was hilarious. Seriously hilarious. Yes, there were times when I wanted to hit her over the head with my book (just TELL HIM ALREADY, MOLLY!) but that happens all too often in real life as well.

Ben was equally awesome and didn't leave me wondering "What the hell would he want her for?" He wasn't hunky yet brainless. He wasn't, in my opinion, easily cateogized in the alpha or beta boxes many people like to shut heroes in. He was well rounded. He wasn't perfect, wasn't superhuman, wasn't anything other than himself. The fun part of the book was finding out exactly what that was. You found out right along with Molly and Ben as they found out about each other.

The plot was perfect. It kept you guessing, it threw you off track, it moved at the same pace as the book. A lot of books really want to focus on the "romance" part of the book and let the rest of the plot drop until it is needed to advance the book. This one kept all parts integrated so you never really forgot the overall story.

The best part of this book, though, was the voice. All the characters, including the narrative voice, were distinct. No one sounded alike and, better yet, no one sounded stilted. Conversations flowed, and sounded like people talking not characters talking. It makes me wonder if Dahl read this out loud as she was writing, because there weren't any awkward phrases or pieces when any of the characters talked to each other. It didn't matter if they were main characters, or secondary, they all sounded realistic. And hilarious. I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud while reading this book. The circumstances Molly got herself in to, many times unapologetically, were great. Lori, Helen, Juan, Quinn, even icky Cameron and Molly's parents were all people you could picture in your head as you read the words. You really can't appreciate how special that is unless you've read books that never come close to that level of writing. It isn't something everyone can accomplish.

And the sex? Hot. Fun. Hot. I don't know what else to say about that.

Overall, I can't say enough good things about this book. It'll be like catching up on the exploits of a friend you lost touch with. And I think, at the end, you'll be happy to see whatever happened to that Molly girl you used to know.....

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Review: 3

Three Three by Julie Hilden

My review

rating: 1 of 5 stars
It wasn't so much dislike that made me give this only one star. It was more disinterest. There was an interesting hook to start the book: a woman catching her husband with another woman. Okay, I'm intrigued. And back cover copy told me that said wife would agree to an "open" marriage of sorts. That's why I picked it up! The author has already won me halfway over because I picked up the book. But, it takes more than that to keep me interested.

The prose was written well. The book had a literary look and feel to it. And, even though it may seem like I have a bias against modern literary fiction, I really don't. Some of it is interesting, and some of it isn't. This one wasn't. The characters were bland. They weren't sympathetic at all. I didn't like any of them, and I didn't dislike them either. I just turned pages. Pretty soon, I didn't care enough to continue to do that. I didn't care about their motivations. The sex was boring, even though it was supposed to be illicit and exciting. It wasn't the words that made the sex boring, it was the lack of interest in the characters.

A lot of people enjoyed this book, and that's great. Anything that is positive feedback for an author is a good thing. For me, though, this was a disappointment. I probably won't be trying any of her other fiction.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Review: I'm Down

I'm Down: a memoir I'm Down: a memoir by Mishna Wolff

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm skeptical about memoirs now. It wasn't just James Frey that made me skeptical. Since then, there have been many memoirs, both published and unpublished, that have proven to be false. So, while I very much liked this book, I'm not at all convinced that it was true. The beautiful thing is that it doesn't matter. If it is true, great. I can't wait to read the rest of the story. If it isn't true, great. I can't wait to read the rest of the story.

The writing was engaging and it read like fiction. It moved along fast and there weren't really any lulls to skim through. I almost wish this book was fiction, because that would make the narrator a lot more reliable. When I was reading this, I kept thinking "This is how YOU saw it. But I wonder how it really was." Which isn't to say, of course, that she deliberately lied. But, if these things are happening to you, then of course you're going to spin them with your own interpretation. That, and you're only privvy to the conversations you had access to.

The other thing was that the book ended too soon. Unless she's planning to do another one, and maybe she is, I thought it ended way too early. What happened in high school? What happened with her parents? What happened post high school? I know it was supposed to be about her "growing up" but it just seemed to end in an awkward place. I wanted to know more. I suppose wanting to know more is the best compliment you can give a memoir.

If you're planning to read this book (and from the cover how could you NOT want to read it) don't expect any deep philosophical answers about race relations (or anything else) from it. Expect to be entertained, and you won't be disappointed.

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