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Less than a year ago when this blog began I put in a submissions page because that how it is done. I don’t think we had big lofty goals for the blog, we wanted to watch numbers grow but never expected to get a whole lot of focus. I assumed I would get an occasional submission from a self published author, and at first that is what happened. And at first I read all of them. About one a month would come in, and I thanked each author and tried their book. It was a nice little dynamic that added a little variety to my reading.
About four months ago a floodgate opened. I read, on average, a hundred books a year. That’s not quite two books a week. Last week I got four submissions. I have even started receiving them from traditional published authors from mid-level publishers, though that is rarer. Obviously I can’t read them all, though believe me I want to. I want to read every damn book I see. Some of these submissions are really interesting, I just can’t seem to fit them in. Love steampunk, but I have read three that might fit that category this month, and have four more lined up through galleys and submissions. Chances are I will only read one or two of them over the next few months. A time frame I expect to garner even more options. A vicious cycle.
I don’t want to stop taking requests, I have found some real gems from them. I just didn’t think it fair to continue to ignore some of these, and don’t want people to think I am not listening.
So I wanted to start a semi-regular post, borrowed from some other bloggers, in which case a showcase a few books that look interesting but just are not going to make my reading schedule at the present. That is not to say they won’t in the future, but I hate for readers to miss out on even knowing about them due to no one mentioning them.
Because we love cutesy names here in the Barn, these books will be moved from the main shelf into the loft, thus the feature’s name. Without further ado, a few books that have caught my eye. All synopsis are from Goodreads.
Odd Men Out by Matt Betts
The Civil war has ended but not because the South surrendered, instead it’s on hold while both sides face a new enemy—the chewers, dead men who’ve come back to life. Cyrus Joseph Spencer didn’t fight in the war and couldn’t care less about the United Nations of America that resulted from it. His main concern is making money and protecting his crew from all manner of danger. But when tragedy strikes he’s forced to take shelter onboard a dirigible piloted by the U.N.’s peace-keeping force. It’s soon apparent that many more dangers are lurking and Cyrus must decide whether to throw in with strangers in a desperate bid to protect the country or cast off on his own.
I love me some Steampunk as I have said before. This is the book threatening to come back down the most.
Bang Bang by Patrick Malloy
Youthimax is a cure-all miracle drug from Johnson and Johnson which has all but eliminated death in modern society. Which is great news. Unless you work at a funeral home. The O’Rourke Funeral Home in West Philadelphia has fallen into obscurity, along with it’s two sole employees. Max and Bligh waste the days away sleeping in coffins and counting shovels until that fateful day that they decide to become serial killers.
An intersting premise, but I am not much for horror books, even if they promise black comedy. Plus the Goodreads’ synopsis was a rambling mess, leaving me less than excited. But the book certainly caught my eye, so in it goes.
Theatre of the Gods by M. Suddain
This is the story of M. Francisco Fabrigas, explorer, philosopher, heretical physicist, who took a shipful of children on a frightening voyage to the next dimension, assisted by a teenaged Captain, a brave deaf boy, a cunning blind girl, and a sultry botanist, all the while pursued by the Pope of the universe and a well-dressed mesmerist.
Dark plots, demonic cults, murderous jungles, quantum mayhem, the birth of creation, the death of time, and a creature called the Sweety: all this and more waits beyond the veil of reality.
This one was a little different, I actually requested the galley and just cant find myself in the mood for sci-fi. So in storage it goes, and one day, who knows?
That’s all for now.
Barn Image by Alan D. and Elaine R. Wilson via http://www.naturespicsonline.com.
This book is a spinoff of the Witches Knot series, but can be read alone.
Mei is a Warrior for the Balance. She stands between good and evil. So when her boss tells her she’s got to head to Tir na nOg to help the Fae she is most displeased. Mei’s mother Aine, the queen of the Fae, betrayed and exiled her millennia ago. Or so she’s been led to believe. But Aine was misled by her own sister, and suddenly everything Mei has thought was true for thousands of years falls down around her ears as she looks up to see the face of her husband. Her first husband, a man she’d thought was dead. Jayce MacTavish is surprised to find that his wife, thought millennia dead, is alive, but his joy is tempered by the realization that she’s got another mate. Mei, Card and Jayce must find a way to be together as three while a threat from the Dark Fae and a new enemy darkens the horizon.
“Publisher Note: This book contains brief scenes of male/male sexual enjoyment.”
I started to read this novel while on holiday by the sea. I was feeling rather optimistic at the time – you see, it enjoys a pretty high rating average on Goodreads, 4 stars out of 5, nothing less. Why – my mind boggles. It was horrid. It was stupid. It was a fantasy book without one inch of imagination or, well, fantasy. The fact that your characters are fairies, demons, trolls and werewolves DOESN’T mean anything without the proper world build and here there was no such a thing. Still I was the first Goodreads user who actually has given it one star. There must be something wrong: with the universe, with me, with the books and the publishing industry, with the world at large. Horribly, terribly wrong. How cannot people notice? HOW?
It is a relatively short novel – just 133 pages. One third of it consists of sex scenes. Boring, repetitive and schematic sex scenes I must add. Any and every conflict is resolved by either sex or deus-ex-machina magic performed by some gods – Freia and Carl Donovan are among them. Carl Donovan a.k.a. the Donovan is really a strange choice of name for a divine entity but whatever – if you compare it to the fact that all characters of this beauty take the expression “too stupid to live” to quite an insanely low level one inappropriate name is really a minor glitch.
Ponder over this: Mei was imprisoned and tortured by some BDSM demonic afficionados for a millenium. Yes, a millenium of torture and rapes, you read it right. Nobody even thought of looking for her because everybody believed she had been killed in a battle. Why? Her aunt said so. Nobody found the remnants of Mei’s body, nobody saw anything but all those great fairies, Mei’s mother and her very loving husband, Jaice, among them, assumed that if Eire (the aunt) says Mei is dead then Mei is dead, end of the story. Irrefutable logic, right?
Then Mei is freed from her prison by Card the half were half demon, soon to be her hubby number two; after a period of recovery she returns home and she is said that Jaice is dead, her mom doesn’t want to see her anymore, she is disinherited and basically she can go and jump to the lake, thank you very much for the visit, don’t bother to show your face the second time. Yes, you guessed right: once again her lovely aunt was the source of those completely false revelations. Actually she sent one of Mei’s mother flunkies to do the dirty job. What Mei, a clever warrior and a fairy princess several millenia old, does? She believes in every word of that flunkey – without even thinking of contacting anybody else. If you are said by a third party your beloved husband is dead and your mum hates your guts you should ALWAYS believe it straightaway, right? Even without any proof presented? *headdesk*
Then the novel went from bad to worse. Yes, I mean the baddies, whose characterization was non-existent. You see, they are bad because a) they are DARK fae (got it? DARK!!!) and b) they hate humans. Oh well, sometimes I am not so fond of humans either and I dress in black – I bet I am bad too, right?
Not that the goodies were better, believe me, they were not. Both male interests of the main heroine could be described very simply as a red-headed, long-braided Scot with great physique (Jaice) and a half-werewolf half-demon with yellow eyes and great physique (Card). Here you go – now you know everything there is to know about them. I bet plenty of male catwalk models show more of their personality during an average photo session than those two. Their main role is to satisfy Mei in bed (or anywhere else if the mood strikes) and generally take care of her. If you are now wondering I rush to add the crucial bit of info: both do it at the same time. Mostly. In order to spoil you even further: they are her two husbands and they are fond of each other as well. How come? Magic! Nothing else is needed in a successful relationship, right? (btw thanks Tasha/heidenkind for that little beauty below!)
If only magic extended also to the plot, the dialogues and the overall writing quality…unfortunately the plot was HIGHLY predictable, I bet my dog would guess any major turn and twist without any problem, the dialogues were wooden infodumps full of cliches and maudlin love and/or independence declarations (independence so you knew Mei is kick-ass), some sentences were clearly grammatically incorrect and after reaching the half point I decided I really don’t need to torture myself any longer so I dumped it. Still I amused myself with checking the finale grande. Yes, I guessed EVERYTHING right. What joy ;(
So not for me that I can hardly contain myself, limiting the amount of expletives to zero. If you want to know how a fantasy erotica novel looks when gone completely awry, read this one but don’t blame me afterwards – you have been warned.
There must be a million reviews of ‘The Hobbit’ out there already – I’ve seen a few myself – and opinions are fairly mixed. Some say it’s great, no problem, and some say it’s a fun film, even if it’s not quite true to the book, and some say it’s a travesty. I don’t agree with any of those. It’s not great, it’s not a whole heap of fun, but it’s not a total travesty either.
It was always obvious that changes were going to have to be made from the book’s plot to accommodate the needs of cinema in the 21st century, and I’m not one of those who objects to the introduction of the pale orc to represent a visible Big Bad over the course of the three movies. I don’t object to some lengthening of the story, although possibly with a little effort it could just about have been squeezed into two films (she said sarcastically). I don’t much mind that Bilbo is something of a passenger for most of this film. I certainly don’t object to a sexed-up Thorin – who’d have thought, after seeing Gimli, that dwarves could be so attractive? But still, I found the film a disappointment, overall.
What I liked:
Gollum – Andy Serkis and the special effects/motion capture team stole the show (again). The whole ‘riddles in the dark’ episode was brilliant. Gandalf was, not surprisingly, terrific again, as were Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman. Their meeting at Rivendell was, I suppose, the famous council, which I thought could have been made a more important moment. And weren’t they supposed to drive the Necromancer out of Dol Guldur as a result? Not sure when that happened. I liked the whole of the Rivendell action, actually. The elves riding in as the dwarves closed ranks in suspicion was a good moment. The music was once more very effective. The dwarves singing in Bag End was the one moment of the film which sent shivers down my spine. That, and the dragon’s eye. I liked the goblin king as well. And Middle Earth (aka New Zealand) was spectacular, as always.
What I disliked:
Young Bilbo. Sorry, but Martin Freeman is and will forever be that nice Tim from ‘The Office’ (UK version) and hapless Arthur Dent from ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’, roles which he was born to play. Bilbo? Not so much. He was a little too understated and human for my taste, although I may be in a minority of one on that point. The Shire was, somehow, not quite as effective as in ‘Lord of the Rings’, possibly because the director thought the audience knew all about it already. The Bag End interiors were very effective, but the exteriors lost something, I felt. Radagast the Brown – no, let’s not talk about that .
The biggest problem for me was the endless over-the-top chased-by-orcs (or wargs or goblins or whatever) moments. I withdraw all my complaints about the Moria scenes in ‘Fellowship of the Ring’; the escape from the goblins’ lair was far worse and possibly the most ridiculous piece of cinema I’ve ever seen. And it went on and on and on. Then there were the mountain giants – how long can we cling on to a six-inch-wide ledge on a mountain engaged in battle with another mountain? Oh, indefinitely, obviously. And not a single dwarf is so much as bruised, apparently. And the pine trees? No, don’t get me started on the pine trees. And then we have to have the dramatic confrontation between the sexed-up Thorin Oakenshield (with his oaken shield, naturally) and the created Big Bad, and Bilbo’s heroic moment, and all that stuff beloved of Hollywood which wasn’t in the book and is only there because the story was split over multiple films, but we still need to have resolution for this part.
This is not a bad film, I suppose. Taken at face value, it’s a big budget, special effects heavy, typical piece of Hollywood-esque action, with the wargs substituting for cars in the chase sequences, and no explosions. For those who like that sort of thing, it’s a middle-of-the-road effort. As a portrayal of ‘The Hobbit’ – well, it was only ever loosely connected to the book.
Where it fails is in comparison with the three ‘Lord of the Rings’ films. There are glimpses of the greatness of those works in the Rivendell scenes, and some more thoughtful moments with the dwarves. But it otherwise fails to capture any echoes of the magic and the majesty of the greater work. It substitutes relentless action and chase sequences for genuine heart-stopping moments. The escapes are eye-rollingly bad, and there is too much effort expended on out-SFX-ing the predecessors. There are nods to the earlier films, but they are both self-concious and self-indulgent. Worse, it’s forgettable. I came out of the theatre a bare three and a half hours ago, and already there’s very little that sticks in my mind, good or bad.
I find it quite distressing to write this. I regard ‘The Lord of the Rings’ as a defining moment of my life (both the book and the film). I was overjoyed to see the Shire realised exactly as I’d imagined it, I shivered when the Moria orcs chittered and the Balrog appeared, Helm’s Deep was just awesome, Edoras was amazing and as for the Ride of the Rohirrim – I cried. I never believed anyone could reproduce it so perfectly. There were oddities and excesses, of course, but mostly it was unbelievably wonderful. But this – it’s just a film, as disposable as popcorn. Will I watch the rest of the series? Of course, and perhaps Peter Jackson can pull a rabbit out of his hat, but I’m not optimistic.
The Barney for most imaginative use of a dragon goes to…
This has a fabulous premise – imagine the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons. And, astonishingly, it works. Temeraire, the dragon of the title, is also the most interesting character in the book, who has his human handler reading works like ‘Principia Mathematica’ to him for entertainment. The dragons are deployed as battleships of the air (sort of) which leads to swashbuckling fun with swords and pistols and boarding parties in mid-air. Great fun.
Full review on Pauline’s other blog here.
The Barney for Best Book That Shows How Much Footnotes Suck on an Old Kindle goes too…
‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ by Sussanna Clarke!!
Really not much I can say, it is one the the best books I have ever read. But if you pick it up on the Kindle, beware!! This book is loaded with footnotes, and going back and forth using an arrow pad sucks, sucks, sucks.
If you have access to Goodreads, my very rough review from a year ago can be found here.
The Barney for most amusingly self-centred characters goes to…
If you like your fantasy characters to be the most devious, crafty, selfish, scheming bastards imaginable, this is the book for you. Double-dealing and treachery abound, but while the humans are focused on their political games, the dragons have plans of their own… A breathtaking pace, great fun and totally awesome dragons. Just don’t get too attached to any of the characters, the survival rate is very low.
Full review on Pauline’s other blog here.