Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tilly Bagshawe, wtf bbq???

I'm not finishing a book.  I started it, read about half, and decided to give it back to the library.  

This has nothing to do with late fees.  I have no fear of late fees. I should actually have a chair with my name on it in my favourite branch because of all the fees I've paid in my life.  

However. I very rarely stop in the middle of a book. Once, when I was very young, I watched a kid's show about a boy who never finished the books he was reading until they all came after him in the night. Since I am all about avoiding things that come after you in the night, I am all about finishing books. Plus, I hate not knowing.   

The book is Showdown by Tilly Bagshawe, an author I thought I liked*.  The book begins in the UK, and features rich people. The heroine is a young rich girl** whose daddy breeds horses for racing but is not allowed to ride herself, even though she is the bestest horse-rider ever. She meets Booby who is a real-life cowboy who inherits a ranch in Texas. The bad news is he's poor, and so is his ranch.  He needs to live up to his dead father for some reason, and he chooses to do it by getting into a partnership with an ultra-skeezy land developer who wants make a ton of money off Booby, mainly by ripping off Booby's oil and whatever else he can get his hands on. Booby (it works better) wants to save the family ranch by breeding quarterhorses for racing. His dad (a terminal moron) was all about the cowboy way, which apparently, in T. Bagshawe's world, means no oil. Drilling for oil desecrates the land or something.

My suspension of disbelief faltered, failed and would not be revived. First of all, Texas = oil. And cowboy ranchers? cowboy ranchers = paying your damn bills and not losing the ranch because you've got no money because you are stupid. 

Now, I don't know any ranchers but I do know quite a few farmers. I don't even have to call them up to ask what they think of this guy.


Me:    So, the bank is going to foreclose on your farm and you're going to lose everything. The reason they're foreclosing is because you are poor, behind on the mortage, and they are pretty certain there's oil on your property. What would you do? Remember, this is the West, and in the West, your code of honour is apparently more important than having a place to live. 

Farmer:    Wtf? I'm not broke, I have oil. Lease the mineral rights for loads of cash, throw a party, buy a boat and go on vacation. In that order, and finishing in Hawaii doing some deep sea fishing.*** 

So, there you have it. My complete lack of belief in the stupid reasoning behind the conflict = putting it down and not picking it back up.  Well, and the fact that most people in this book were head-splittingly annoying, crazy or just plain stupid. 

Life is too short for this.

*and now I realize that I actually really liked Louise Bagshawe's books, not Tilly's. Boo british writers who have the same distinctive last name! Boo!

**I forget her name, but she had long blonde hair, and was kinda annoying and seventeen for a really long time in the book. 

***Actually, this part is true. Including the deep sea fishing part.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

So So Very Bad

I've just finished reading a very poorly written book.

At first I thought it was this book, The Key to Conspiracy by Thalia Gryphon. Which was recently reviewed at Dear Author. Except that I read number one in the series, The Key to Conflict.  

I have several issues with this book.

1. The characters
2. The dialouge
3. The writing

It is a comprehensive list.  Be warned. There are spoilers ahead, although why you'd care after reading this review, I'd never know.

The characters were generally annoying.  After about halfway through the book, I really got tired of the parade of SUPER HOTT! OMG SEXXXY para-whatevers! Apparently in this world, there are no normal-looking people. 

The main character, Gillian (or Gill, the author uses a nickname to break up the flow of Gillian does... sentences instead of rewriting) is TSTL.  This is not a label I throw out lightly, but I feel it is warranted. We are endlessly told how smart, tough and skilled this woman is. We are never really shown anything.  She whines, she gets drunk in dangerous territory, and she is really confused about issues a real psychologist should understand. Like the definition of rape. 

She is repeatedly assaulted without her knowledge (she was dreaming) and did not consent to having sex with her attacker or consent to him coming and making her have dreamsex with him. She does not know who is in her dreams or what is going on. This is rape. Saying otherwise is terrifying. If you are so drunk you cannot say yes or no, it's rape. If you don't know what's going on, it's rape. Does the fact that she had orgasms negate her lack of consent? Apparently Gillian thinks so, which makes me wonder how she managed her PhD, her internships, and well, her life so far.

For a psychologist, she is very lacking in self-awareness.

"I did not survive battlefield conditions in Serbia...blah blah blah I'm not delicate or stupid!" I know someone who did, and they wouldn't be caught dead saying something like that. Also, they wouldn't be caught dead being as TSTL as she is over and over again. Because they survived Serbia and where ever else she said she'd been. I'm not going to re-check that quote, but "survive battlefield conditions"? Who says that? 

The dialogue forgot it was supposed to sound like people talking. There was a consistent lack of contractions.  People don't really speak the way they write. Perhaps vampire=super formal diction, but with all of the other issues, I'm doubtful. 

Technically, this book was in need of a rewrite. The repetition, the mixed constructions and complete lack of showing the action (remember that old rule? show, don't tell) made me feel like someone was telling me about this story that could have been really interesting. Except that I needed to stop listening to the teller, and just read the book myself before the end gets blabbed. 

This book is filled with wasted detail. So much time is spent on unnecessary information. We are told who characters are after we have met them several times, we are told boring and unnecessary information on the different types of the magically-inclined, we are even told who JRR Tolkien is, and that he wrote the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. 

Surprisingly enough, the sex scenes we the best written in the book. Even though I have no desire to read more about the exact dimensions of Gill's canal (and am so unbelievably sick of the phrase "ridged canal") Gryphon uses imagery, description and setting to show the reader the action, instead of telling us what is happening. 

This book was one big info-dump. 

This book had a lot going for it. I really liked the idea of psychologist to the undead. How many times have you read an urban fantasy and gone "Hey, that dude is totally messed up, therapy is totally necessary." I thought the flame thrower was cool. 

I only wish that Gryphon had a more aggressive editor. Apparently LKH's Darla was a line editor (?proofreader?).  I would suggest a professional editor who is willing to suggest more substantive and aggressive changes. There is a good book in there, waiting to get out. It just needs a lot of help.  If that doesn't work, Gryphon may want to switch to writing erotica. Writing sex seems to be her stronger suit.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Connie Willis

As a review goes, this should be somewhat short.  

I love Connie Willis. She's wonderful, go read her stuff.

Why do I love her?

I've only read two of her novels, To Say Nothing Of The Dog and The Bellwether. They both were wonderful.

TSNOTD is a time-travel story about a young man and the boss from hell. It is a mystery and a who-done-it as well as a what-the-hell-happened? 

The Bellwether is also a mystery of a sort.  

They are both laugh out loud funny. The characters are amazing and real and the stories aren't flashy, but they will be amazing. 

I read both of those books a while ago, which is why there's a distinct lack of detail, but you should still read them.  These books are smart and also entertaining. I still giggle when certain scenes from these novels drift through my consciousness.

Go. Read.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Funner than I thought

yup. now I've just gotta figure out how to post this directly.

well, here's something

update: I'm imbedding it now that I know how.