Monday, December 17, 2012

The worst book I couldn't put down.

This book is so bad that I'm reading it again!

...Which makes it so good that I'm reading it again.

I went on an indy book streak a while back (that hasn't exactly ended, come to think of it).  Self publishing has become more and more valid as the authors have put in more effort to put across well written, well edited stories--not the hot messes that we used to get when authors were rejected by publishers and yet still wanted to get their stories out there.  Between their efforts and the lower prices, why not give them a shot?  So I read Sterling by Daninka Dark and declared it the worst book I couldn't put down.  I'm reading it again because I wanted to make sure I still felt that way before declaring that public and yes, there's plenty in it that makes me want to grind my teeth, and yet I once again can't put it down.

Book description (via Amazon):
Zoë Merrick lived an ordinary life until late one night, she was brutally attacked and left for dead. 
She was found, covered in blood, and taken in by an ex-soldier named Adam. Zoë didn't just survive that night - she underwent a physical transformation and acquired unexplainable abilities. Severed from her old life, her frustration grows as she tries to comprehend what's happening to her. 
Serendipity leads her to Justus De Gradi. He's handsome, arrogant, and not entirely human. Through Justus, Zoë learns the truth about what she is and where she belongs. A young Mage is vulnerable in this dangerous world. The only way Zoë will understand her power is by putting her trust in a stranger and accepting the protection that he offers.
When her immortal freedom is threatened by the one man who has a right to claim her, Zoë learns the price of freedom...and the value of loyalty.
I want to launch into the excessive adjectives, the many times that the author seems to think "why just show the audience when I can show and tell them?", the odd interactions/uncomfortable dialog, the off use of wording, including slang gone terribly wrong....And yet the best example of why I find this book so bad is in a bit of plotting early on.  Zoe's been attacked, left for dead, picked up by a sympathetic ex-military hottie, and transformed while she slept it off.  She wakes up taller, with different hair and a different face--I mean, she really transformed.  She establishes a friendship with Adam, who feeds her and picks up some clothes without asking too many questions since she doesn't want to give any answers.  And then nothing happens for two weeks.

For two weeks, she doesn't search the internet for similar transformations, regardless of the fact that she would find none.  She doesn't experiment to find out of she's gotten more for her trouble than killer hair.  Basically, all she did in that lapsed time was chew up my suspension of disbelief and spit it out.

Yet, I recommend it.  For all the book's flaws, the author created a story in which I always wanted to know "What happens next?"  I read the first book, immediately bought the second, and checked her site to find out when the third would be out.  Now that I'm nearly done with the re-read of the first, I'll do the same with the second before buying the now-out third and probably the novella set in the same world.

There's the bones of good story telling in these books that will hopefully grow as the author has more practice, and is still worth the read in the meantime.  You should check it out for yourself.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Maybe New To You: Vicki Pettersson

I've been reading indie books lately, not posting because I wanted to re-read one or two before commenting.  In the mean time, I dusted off my copy of Vicki Pettersson's The Scent of Shadows.  I loved this book, and quickly bought the second, but during the wait for the third to be released, I got distracted.  Now five years later, the series is complete.  The question isn't if I'll devour them, but if wait the time it takes to get hard copies of the last four to make the first two, or if I'll get them all instantly by e-reader.

When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert.  By rights, she should be dead....

After what she survived, Joanna had a right to become a snarky, kick-ass heroine.  This could have easily been another wounded heroine more obnoxious than the last, but the situation was managed beautifully with great writing, clear-eyed secondary characters, and character growth.

By her birth, Joanna is destined to become an Agent of the Light--a superhero.  Both times I read it, I loved this urban fantasy departure from vampires, were-whatevers, and fairies.  (Don't get me wrong, I love the others, too, or I wouldn't be such a fan of genre; but it's nice to have something different from time to time.)  If I have any complaint about the book, it's that like many superheroes, Joanna has a secret identity.  The good guys are curious about it, the bad guys want to uncover it and use it to destroy her.  With surgery involved, it's just a little less painfully obvious than Superman-with-the-glasses-off and Clark-with-the-glasses-on.  Since I've lived my whole life with Superman movies, TV shows, and animation without rejected it, I say that's a small complaint.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Speaking of Star Wars...

I haven't been feeling well, which explains why I was drifting in and out of sleep in the wee hours, but does not explain why my sleepy mind insisted on casting Derek Hough as Luke Skywalker, or the pitch I made to be on the new writing team.

"Sure I don't have a resume to speak of and I have a history of creating great beginnings, crappy endings, and barely-there middles, but that's why you have a TEAM of writers, right?"

Clearly, I'm crazy in the wee hours.

Mark Hamill, the original Luke
I cheered when I heard that Disney bought Lucasfilm.  Literally.  I was with my parents, who looked at me like I'd gone a bit crazier.  It's not that I don't find Disney a little creepy* or that I feel glee at the idea of George Lucas being that much richer.  My joy was at the peace the payout would bring me.

See, my husband's love of Star Wars is rivaled only by his love of Star Trek and his disdain for Lucas.  With the creator out of the picture, I can stop hearing about how great the books were without his interference or the many, many ways in which he screwed up the "first" three movies.  Perhaps even I, a fangirl** in my own right, will be able to stop holding myself back from violence at the mention of midichlorians because no one will ever mention them again.

Derek Hough
Randomly, some 13 (?) seasons of Dancing with the Stars ago, I first saw Derek Hough and thought, "He'd make a great Luke Skywalker.  I wonder if he can act."  Even more randomly, since it's weeks after the buy out, the thought is back.  Only now, maybe there's a real possibility.  Could we soon be treated to watching Luke Skywalker meet Mara Jade?  Portraying what happens next in the saga seems a logical reason to buy the rights, though I certainly wouldn't complain if Disney went back to movies 1-3 and somehow made them not suck.

Disney also owns ABC, so in addition to feature films, I can fantasize about Star Wars mini series and Saturday morning cartoons.  With a whole new generation of Jedi making names for themselves in the books, there's limitless material and a host of possible venues.

Disney, Lucasfilm, call me.  I'll hook you up.

*None of that is really why I find the company creepy, it was just easier to find a quick link than expose my cyberpunk fear of megacorps.
**Yes, yes, I know I'm a grown woman, and I'm not likely to let anyone else forget it either.  Fangirl just has a (totally incorrect) ring to it that I haven't been able to replace.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Not as excited for the new series of Bedlam as I want to be

One of the things I like best about British TV (at least the shows that end up in the U.S. and on my TV) is that their seasons (series) tend to be a full story.  This isn't always true (Bedlam, my reason for posting, is among the rule breakers), but it happens often enough to please.  It's a nice alternative to what happens far too often with U.S. TV, especially for us geeks: you get really into a great speculative fiction show only to have it canceled with no resolution.  Too much of the market is watching something else, so the fans are s.o.l.  Worse, the network tries to cash in on two audience types--supernatural and teen drama--and you go with it because you're still getting a paranormal fix...for a little while.  (Point Pleasant, Secret Lives of Cloe King, The Secret Circle...)

Of course, one of the things I hate most about British TV is that their seasons tend to be a full story.  Sometimes, that means the next season is another story-kinda-- populated by all new characters.  Having only caught the first two episodes of Bedlam (and having really enjoyed them) as soon I heard that series two was hitting BBC America, I went looking for the first installment On Demand., For once, I didn't end up cursing the cable company my husband talked me into switching to.  I had a lovely marathon of all six episodes of the horror show, and couldn't wait for the new series.

Seriously, I couldn't wait.  I popped online for a preview and some little hint of how the cliff hangers would be resolved.  Surely, what looked like certain death for two of the characters would somehow be averted.  The zillion questions raised would be answered.  Maybe we'll even examine the creepy, pseudo-incestuous moment that happened and then quickly found its place under the rug.

...Or not.  Gone was my resident ghost seer, whom I considered the main character due to his importance to the story, despite the ensemble feel of the other characters and subplots.  Gone was...everyone but the least likable of all the residents of Bedlam Heights.  OK, the ghosts who haunt the halls of the former asylum turned high end apartment building remain.  And there's another ghost seer and new roommates...

Basically, even it's wonderful, it'll kinda suck.