Tags: books

Medieval Lady

Because of course I have all the time and monies for things like this...

Hey, Circle-of-Doom folks-- a review of an interesting-looking novella, which has an interesting take on the "magical shifter insta-bond-you-are-totally-my-destined-mate" trope.


Hero: My animal side says you are my mate!
Heroine: That's nice.
Hero:... but... you... I...we...
Heroine: Don't really know each other yet? Yes, I completely agree.
Hero: But... mate-bond!
Heroine: That's according to _your_ animal side. _My_ animal side, however, does not really do that insta-bond thing.

I have to say, first, of course, that I am now imagining the cracktastic directions this could go in in, say, RK fanfic, and second, that I really like the idea of a heroine who does not just say, "Oh, well, if your animal side says we are mates, clearly we need to go get naked."

(oh, who am I kidding, my reaction is like 95% cracktastic directions that could go in....)
Medieval Lady

Blah, blah, metaphor, "I am in fact the monster," blah....

You know, hearing that "I Am Legend" was voted the Vampire Novel of the Century in the 2011 Bram Stoker Awards, and reading various columns on Tor.com about how brilliant and scary and inspirational the book is.... I was not expecting to be both completely bored and utterly annoyed.

I mean, I can see where it would have been revolutionary in the 1950s, in terms of the overall story and the excruciating detailed explanations of "Oh, it's a GERM and this is how it works, and after several years of working on the theory, this perfectly ordinary Caucasian male has figured it out!" And I can see where the ending would have been a real shock, in the days before, well, all the works inspired by "I Am Legend."

But I read it, and... okay, it's partly that I disliked the main character so intensely, because he's set in the 1970s, but he's so very much the product of 1950s male-authored sci-fi, the Last (White) Man Remaining after the Cold War-inspired apocalypse, living in a boarded-up house, trying to cope, probably going somewhat nuts along the way, etc. And that's personal, that's just not a type of character who I find engaging. Except that I also found the writing and the story to be excruciatingly boring-- there's amazingly little action, and very little "vampire" in what is supposed to be a vampire story, and the extended faux-science did nothing for me.

Yes, fine, his former friend and neighbor is the possible-leader of the local vampires, but doesn't show up in any significant way in either the past or present, and there are the ubiquitous tragic flashbacks to the tragic death of his wife and daughter (because two tragically dead females is way more tragical than a wife and son dying when the child doesn't get to actually do anything or be active in any way....). And there is an extended Tragical Last Dog, who is apparently there just to be additionally tragic.

The thing is.... okay, he is boring, and the plot is boring, and the main ideas are boring, and the gender roles are freaking infuriating. Because in the beginning there are apparently Sexy Naked Vampire Ladies trying to lure him outside (....), and he's constantly thinking about them (because he is a red-blooded American male), and then there is the Requisite Last Woman, who is part helpless and part femme fatale and naturally secretly a vampire spy. Add that to the Helpless Deceased Females, and.... yeah, not going to do anything for me.

So, I am in a bit of a quandry, because of course between "Best Vampire Novel of the 20th Century" AND numerous film versions inspired by it, AND inspiration for assorted zombie stories(which I can see much more than vampires, frankly), I feel like I should ask my vampire class students to, you know, read it. And it is definitely a different take on vampires and vampirism and so on, and I could tie the gender issues to gender roles and issues in the other stuff we are reading and watching...

.... but I can't help but feel that the students will respond to it by becoming pretty much zombified themselves.
Medieval Lady

"No, you see, I'm the written version...."

Having now read the latest two of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books, I think that I can safely say that he has managed to go straight into meta, all the way through, and out the other side yelling, "WOOOOOOOOO!!!" while brandishing a very large martini.

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Medieval Lady

"Sub-plot! Sub-plot!"

You know how, sometimes, you will adore 90% of a book, and there's this one thing that makes your brain start plotting ways to fix it? It can be something minor, or something not-quite-major, or even something major-- although, really, it's much harder to love 90% of a book if there's something major that really infuriates you.


I read a review of the latest by Sarah Morgan, who is a British author writing for Mills & Boon (which is Brit-speak for Harlequin, basically)-- since she writes for the "Presents" line, she's working under fairly specific page constraints. I mention this because part of what bugged the reviewer (and me) seemed like it was caused by space constraints-- if she'd had, say, another fifty pages, there would have been time to fix the problem. I've actually read one of her earlier books, and there were some things I really loved-- the fact that the heroine runs away from the hero and spends a year living comfortably and happily and gains about 15 pounds and a boatload of self-confidence, the fact that the heroine (rather than meebling and moping about her appearance and weight) has a moment of "Waaaaaait a minute-- you're not telling me to not buy this dress but to get the horrible sack-like thing over there because you think I'm ugly.... you're doing it because you think I'm sexy-- and is completely correct, because her now-voluptuous figure is pushing all the hero's buttons and he is kind of freaking out, and the fact that once the heroine has figured this out, she goes after the hero's attempt to put her into a nice, neat contained "this is my wife and wives are not supposed to be sex goddesses" box with a very large hammer (and also lingerie). So I was pretty excited about reading the new one, in spite of the very silly title (the sad thing? It's a silly title partly because the editors of M&B/Harlequin are trying so hard to get away from the standard "The Greco-Roman Tycoon's Amnesiac Pregnant Mistress's Regatta Dilemma" or whatever model). "Doukakis' Apprentice"... yeah. It main thing that makes it silly is that "Doukakis" sounds like you're either talking about the politician or the actress, and both sound weird in this context-- and "Apprentice" is just.... weird, and wrong, in the sense that there is no apprenticing to anybody at any point, and I don't think that the word even comes up ANYWHERE IN THE BOOK. Seriously; this is a book that would have been better if they'd gone for the stereotypical standard (which, frankly, at least tells you something about the book, which is important when you have three seconds to scan covers and figure out what interests you).

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Medieval Lady

Extreme Jacuzzi Enthusiasm Romance Novel!!!

Ok, so, based on a rather spectacular photo , Sarah over at Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels put together a contest for describing a romance novel with a hot tub/jacuzzi theme... which, of course, my brain immediately came up with an entry for (SEAL agents, hot tubs, and hot air ballooning! How can you go wrong?). After a brief detour into the spam filter, it's now up, along with a whole list of hysterically funny possibilities-- check them out, and vote for meeeeee* as inclined!

*What? *attempts innocent look* Book store gift certificate prize!**

**Because, really, I currently suffer from a shocking lack of books....

Too sexy for my scales...

You know how sometimes you read something, and then you have to go read something else just to get the first thing out of your head, because it's either really bad or really, really well-done but also really creepy?

This is the reason why, last night, I read the first of G.A. Aiken's fantasy/paranormal romances... a series which is basically "Oversexed (and overly sexy) male dragons and the virgins who yell at them."

(in the first book, none of the humans-- especially the heroine-- know that dragons can take human form.... so you keep having scenes of, "Gosh, sorry; I'm not offending you by regularly stripping down in front of you to jump into your personal lake, thereby giving you constant views of flawless, creamy skin and a fairly spectacular rack, am I?" "Um. No. No.... you're fine.")

So far, in the second book, one of the first dragon's younger brothers is getting all bent out of shape about the fact that his brother is now all smiling and happy and not constantly setting things on fire anymore.

Younger Brother: Bah. This clearly has something to do with that human woman he's mated himself to, and is constantly running off to have sex with. Clearly, to test this theory and figure out what all the fuss is about, I'm going to have to find some human woman of my own to have mad crazy sex with until I get tired of her.

Heroine: Errands, errands...

Younger Brother: You there! You are very attractive. I believe that I will have sex with you.

Heroine: *eyebrow* You're very funny. Bye, now!

Younger Brother: That was not supposed to work like that. Oh, well-- hey, they're burning the hot chick as a witch! I will rescue her, and then she will totally have to have sex with me!


Younger Brother: *gulp* I'm starting to see where my brother got into trouble...

(the heroines in these books never read the bits in the manual where it explains that male dragons are turned on by females with a temper...)
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Medieval Lady

"I am asbolutely unqualified for this type of assignment!"

So, I recently read a book, which I really liked (a lot, as in "beware, friends, you are about to get copies once I can track them down and don't have to worry about lending you mine). And I've been trying to figure out a way to mention something from that book which I thought was really cool, but without, you know, being spoilerish. I mean, I guess I could always solve the problem by making up details in an attempt to confuse people ("It's a steampunk fantasy! Set in the Wild West! With steam-powered cowboys and ....um.... ninja who fled the Warring States period and washed up on the coast of California and have reorganized the entire area along clan lines!"), but an lj-cut for the extremely spoiler-averse seemed more reasonable.

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Polish your sink for Jesus!

About a week and a half ago, when I was talking with my mother, she mentioned that a friend of hers had been visiting, and had brought this great book with useful tips for cleaning and keeping the house clean and so on.

Mom: I bought a copy for myself, and I bought you a copy for you for your birthday! It's got some very useful stuff.
Me: Ok...
Mom: Just... don't read the introduction or the acknowledgements, they're a bit... well, anyway, it's got some good and useful stuff.
Me: Okaaaay....

d_ragondaughter: This isn't that crazy lady with the sink-polishing and the blue fairy wings, is it?
Me: I... don't know?

The book arrived this week, and it is, indeed, the crazy lady with the sink-polishing and the shoe-wearing and the blue fairy wings. And. Um. Yes. A system. For cleaning. Which actually DOES have useful advice and a good perspective on doing a bit at a time, not getting overwhelmed, and not getting caught up in the idea that things have to be "perfect." Except...

d_ragondaughter: So, how is it?

Me: Erm. Full of useful cleaning tips, and hetero-normative married-people Judeo-Christianity?

Seriously; in the vacation chapter, on the packing list, under entertainment... the first item is "Book (Bible, fiction, etc.)" And God makes constant inspirational and life-steering appearances as this woman engages in daily routines cleaning blessing (yes, really) her home. And, aside from ONE chapter where the author kind of waves at the fact that a husband might also want to clean and inspire his wife, the whole book is SO oriented towards women who are (of course) married and (of course) have children and who want to take responsibility for making their home a happy, loving, clean, inspiring place that will make their family happy that it's really, really incredibly off-putting for somebody who isn't married, isn't planning on being married, and doesn't want to have children (and, yes, I realize that I'm coming at this from the perspective of somebody who works with both religion and gender issues, and thus is very sensitve to them....).*

Now d_ragondaughter, having spent the past ten minutes in hysterics over the intro/acknowledgements (Her: HA HA HA! *reads outloud* HA HA!; Me: I TOLD you not to read those bits), is now realizing why I also told her not to read the True Letters from Fans.

*There is one-- ONE-- reference to being single (and, presumably, still female)... in the section about cleaning the bedroom, the author waxes rhapsodic about the bedroom being the heart of the home... because it is where your children were conceived and where you love your husband... and, oh yes, if you're single, it's where you curl up at night with a good book before going to sleep. *headdesk*
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Medieval Lady

With a pencil and a pen, I figured it out...

One of my most-- and yet least-- favorite parts of The Moving Experience is the "Getting rid of stuff" part. Because, really, there is something cathartic about paring down and cleaning out and having less stuff. On the other hand, it can be difficult to decide WHAT stuff goes, and what stuff stays.

This is particularly true for books. Because, well, I have A LOT of books. Many, many, many, many boxes' worth of books. Even though I am trying to cut down, I still have many, many, many, really a lot of boxes' worth of books. Some of which I have not, in fact, yet had a chance to read (erm....). So I have to figure out whether a book MIGHT be interesting enough to keep... or not. Cue a growing pile of, "Well, maybe if I plan, I can take some time to read at least some of these and see how I like them..."

Not to mention the fact that La Roommate Intrepide spent this afternoon weeding out an ASTONISHING number of books from her room, ready to donate to the library's booksale. Most of which were books that I had not, of course, had a chance to read (frankly, the books she makes sure that I take the time to read are the ones she would NOT be donating to the library). But, she let me look them over before they got hauled to the library... because, of course, what I need are more books. Erm (it's not an addiction! I could totally stop anytime I... what?).

Now, granted, most of the books I pulled out went straight into the pile of "Well, maybe I can take the time to see if I like this one?" In the spirit of this noble endeavor, I spent a couple of hours this evening reading one of the more interesting-looking discards-- modern urban fantasy, first in a series (nb-- some spoilers ahead).

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