Monday, 31 January 2011

Your Wall is Made of Holes

I start this post by admitting I wanted to title it - There's a Hole in Your Bucket - but I was kind of afraid that everyone would wonder why the content of the post was so different to the title.

After reading Anchored last week, it brought to mind something I'd read on one of the romance forums. (I have the feeling I may have posted about this before, so sorry if I'm repeating myself).

There was a discussion on this aforementioned board about a certain series, and someone posted that they'd really enjoyed the series and how solid the worldbuilding was, until they realized that the wall of this 'solid' worldbuilding was actually made of holes*. As soon as they realized this, they could no longer read the books because they no longer held together for them.

I think this is something different from 'jumping the shark', which is something that can happen very quickly:-

You read something in a story - OMG! - and the next sound you hear is the crash as the book hits the wall.

I think the 'wall made of holes' situation is something that can creep on you much more stealthily whilst you're reading. It can be a series of things that niggle at you and then just one too many tips you over the edge.

What's interesting is that those books which have jumped the shark for me - usually by killing off a character I was particularly attached to - I still have strong feelings (generally of hatred) for.

But the ones where I've realized that there's actually no substance holding them together for me - just complete apathy.

So has anyone out there had similar feelings about a book? Or are you more the 'I either love it or hate it type?'. I have a copy of Real Vampires Have Curves by Gerry Bartlett, to give away to one poster to this thread. Winner to be chosen by random number on Friday.


* - and I've realized whilst writing this post that hole is one of those words that if you say it more than five times, it loses all sense of meaning.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Winner of the...

Under the Influence giveaway is...

DL

She posted second and the number chosen at random.org was 2. I have a copy of Practical Demonkeeping waiting to be posted to you.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Anchored: Belonging (Book One) - Rachel Haimowitz

Spoilers follow in this review.

Blurb - "Network news anchor Daniel Halstrom is at the top of his field, but being at the bottom of the social ladder—being a slave—makes that hard to enjoy. Especially when NewWorld Media, the company who's owned him since childhood, decides to lease him on evenings and weekends to boost their flagging profits.

...

He finds himself in the home of Carl Whitman, a talk show host whose words fail him time and again when it comes to ordering Daniel to bed. Daniel knows what Carl wants, but it seems as if Carl isn't willing to take it, and Daniel's not willing to give it freely. His recalcitrance costs him dearly, but with patience and some hard-won understanding, love just might flourish where once there'd been only fear and pain. Can Carl become the anchor in Daniel's turbulent life, or will he end up the weight that sinks his slave for good?"

I know this book is a favourite with a few people - one of the reasons I picked it up - but I had quite a few problems with it.

The good stuff first. I liked how Rachel Haimowitz gets the reader completely into Daniel's head. She puts you right there with him at every single moment. You understand his confusion when he arrives late to Carl's penthouse, and doesn't know whether he's allowed to go into Carl's bedroom, will he be punished for going in or for not going in. This is the major plus of the story for me. It's also what makes the gang rape so difficult and upsetting to read - it made me cry. You're right there with Daniel as he loses the one aspect of himself that he'd protected, the decision on when to say yes or no.

I think the total focus on Daniel also contributes to how little we know the other characters, because of his position he is unable to make much of an effort to get to know them. He has to know his place.

Onto the problems I had. Now I think most of these can be traced back to the fact that the book at 124 pages isn't long enough (for me) to deal with the themes and worldbuilding here. If it had been three times, four times as long, I think we would have ended up with a much more rounded story and stronger worldbuilding. Now I don't know how the series is going to progress, it may be that each upcoming book will slot in and we essentially end up with a longer book in multiple parts. But that doesn't address the problems I have with the characters and worldbuilding in THIS particular story.

Worldbuilding, superficially strong, but I found the more I looked at it, it just wasn't working for me. I was quite happy with it up to a point. Carl reads The Washington Post, The New York Times, so this is a world like our own but NOT our own. It has a different history and at some point it became acceptable to keep slaves. I feel like I've missed something somewhere.

Then Carl asks Daniel his opinion about Mugabe in Zimbabwe and I was thrown completely out of it. Because if Carl can comment on Mugabe and the problems in Zimbabwe - reference riots and massacres. Then as a reasonably intelligent human being why can't he see the hypocrisy in feeling able to comment on the policies of another country but not his own where gang rapes and torture are an acceptable means of dealing with people.

It's also then that I realised I didn't really understand how this world worked. Was the slave system only operating in America? Daniel mentions about wanting to run away to Scandinavia - how he'd tried to run away whilst in Denmark and how he dreams of flying away to Sweden. So presumably - at least in Scandinavia, if not Europe - there's no slave system.

If all the previous history still led to Mugabe being in power in Zimbabwe. What happened to the civil rights movement in America? I ended up feeling like the world the characters lived in, had no solidity to it.

I think if the world the characters inhabit doesn't feel real, then the characters lose believability as well. Why was Foster such a villain? Just because he can be? Presumably Carl has lived in this country all his life, why couldn't he appreciate what would happen to Daniel when he complained about his behaviour? He's a journalist with an interest in politics. How could he be so naive?

Finally, the ending, again I take problems with this back to the fact that the story is too short. The ending especially (for me) needed to take place over a much greater period of time. The gang rape and the torture which (no matter how disturbing they are*) are an incredibly powerful piece of writing, lose that impact, that sense that Daniel has totally lost any sense of self he might have had, because it is wrapped up so quickly and easily at the end. I don't believe in Daniel's recovery.

This was a flawed story for me. Some of the writing was amazing, getting us into Daniel's head and holding us there, was very well done. But it's the problems that have stayed with me.

* - I also take issue with Noble Romance's warning for the book - "M/M, forced oral and anal intercourse". I don't think this is really a strong enough warning. The one at GoodReads is better - "WARNING: This book contains potentially triggering subject matter, including a violent on-screen rape. Please take heed.)"

Monday, 24 January 2011

Under the Influence

Last week, or possibly the week before...okay the week before, geez it's been a while since I posted...DL posted on the DIK blog about how she'd been inspired by the BDB series to learn American Sign Language. You can read that post by clicking here.

It got me to thinking if I'd ever been inspired to try anything or learn anything that I'd read in a book.

For some reason I had this niggling feeling that I had.

:blushes:

Then I remembered. I wish it had been something as interesting or as worthy as learning ASL, but it was not. In one of the Weather Warden books Rachel Caine wrote this yummy description of the Omnia perfume by Bulgari. I think she might have used the word chocolate. Of course, Omnia isn't sold in any of the local shops, I think in the end I tracked a bottle down online. I think it has a very nice smell but a bit heavy, not one I'd recommend if you're prone to migraines.

I still have this feeling though, that there's something else I've done/tried/attempted and failed at, after first reading about it. But I've obviously scrubbed the experience from my memory and replaced it with something less traumatic.

Anyway just wondering if you'd ever been inspired to try anything from what you'd read in your favourite fiction? I have a copy of Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore to give away to one poster to this thread. Winner to be chosen by random number on Friday.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Reading Resolution for 2011

Whoops, I appear to have lost the first two weeks of January.

Having managed to read only 36 books in 2010 I have decided not to buy* any new books in 2011**.

At my current reading speed it will take me approximately ten years to get through my TBR pile. I think I need to make a serious dent in it before buying any more new books.

Obviously this is going to slightly limit how well I do in my series completion challenge but in most cases I have the next three or four books of most series on my TBR pile anyway. (Plus see *). Also it's going to be something of a challenge to stick to not buying books anyway, but I'm determined to give it a go.


* - Of course this doesn't include when I receive book vouchers or receive books as presents. :) (And luckily I won the DIK reading challenge so have a voucher stashed away for when the new Ilona Andrews/Patricia Briggs/Seanan McGuire/other favourite author is released this year).

** If I crack, which I likely will at some point, I'll be honest and post about it. But two weeks into January my intention is to clear as many shelves as possible on my TBR bookcases.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

2011 Challenge Post

Banned Books Challenge - 0/

M/M Challenge - 3/15

Anchored: Belonging (Book 1) - Rachel Haimowitz
The Dark Tide - Josh Lanyon
The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks - Josh Lanyon


Series Completion Challenge - 3/
Unholy Magic - Stacia Kane (Downside Ghosts 2)
Archangel's Kiss - Nalini Singh (Guild Hunter 2)
The Dark Tide - Josh Lanyon (Adrien English 5)


52 books in 52 weeks challenge - 7/52

Anchored: Belonging (Book 1) - Rachel Haimowitz
Unholy Magic - Stacia Kane (Downside Ghosts 2)
Archangel's Kiss - Nalini Singh (Guild Hunter 2)
The Dark Tide - Josh Lanyon (Adrien English 5)
Last Days of Summer - Steve Kluger
The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks - Josh Lanyon
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson


Knitting/Crochet Projects - 0


Hmmm. It seems that despite intending to do fewer challenges this year, that I've somehow ended up doing more!

In my defense the Banned Books and Series Completion challenges are more personal goals. And the Knitting/Crochet projects is just so I've got somewhere to track how much stuff I make.

I wasn't going to do any 'proper' challenges. But after seeing that the m/m challenge is running again this year and after failing in 2010, I decided I'd have another go this year. (And if DIK did another challenge I'd probably join in on that as well).

(Also I'm thinking of attempting to do a Page for the Series Challenge as I think it will make it easier to track. Hopefully I won't bugger up the blog if I do this.)

Methinks 2011 is going to be a bit of a mad year!