Sunday, July 13, 2014

"Maxi's Place: Volume One" by [Literary Stud]

I won this book via Goodreads Giveaway. Although I would like to tell you that the author doesn't genuinely go by "Literary Stud", I would unfortunately be lying.

The book is 124 pages long--which hardly even counts as a novella, if you ask me--and is split into three "Episodes"--his words, not mine: Rumors Ring True, It's Complicated, and The Lies We Tell. As far as I can tell, there was seriously no point in splitting the book into three 'sections' when the plot can very obviously speak for itself and the book certainly isn't long enough to demand headings.

Furthermore, I would like to heartily shame his "team of editors" on his "acknowledgments" page--and I realize that technically that word is correct without the 'e' preceding 'ments', but it's not aesthetically pleasing and, generally speaking at any rate, less accepted. Although I'm not sure I want to know what this looked like before they got their hands on it, I certainly can't praise them for letting it leave their hands in the state that it's in.

I couldn’t even finish reading the book because of how absolutely dreadful it was. I made it halfway through “Episode 2″ before I finally just gave up and abandoned ship–something I have never done before. To be blunt, I wish that there was a negative stars rating option so that I could fully encompass to you all just how bad this book really is. As it stands, I am forced by the Goodreads system to give it 1 star, even though I swear to you it doesn’t deserve it.

From the start of the “novel”, the sentences are absurdly short and stilted; the paragraphs have no flow to speak of, and the dialogue is at least as stilted–if not more so. The prose is so genuinely staccato that it’s straight up hard to read. When sentences don’t flow together, it leaves you reading like a second grader who hasn’t quite graduated from picture books yet. The other significant issue with the dialogue–besides its lack of realistic vernacular, etc, is that nobody is provided with an accent. It might be hard to describe in-text an accent that you live around because it can be hard to hear, but even Texans know how southerners talk and should be able to produce a drawl on paper. Dialects include more than just phonological (sounds) variation, but also word choice and phrase structure, and I’m not seeing any of that presented here. This robs the characters of a huge part of their identity, and really short changes what the story potentially could be. (This review might have been less scathing if the characters actually had any, you know, character to them.)

There are also some inaccuracies that a person might not catch if they weren’t well-versed in musical instruments. Like, for example, you don’t “flex the tone holes” of a tenor saxophone. I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean, and I played the saxophone in high school. (It wasn’t my main instrument, but I did play it.) Frankly, I don’t think you even have to be versed in musical instruments to take exception to that statement.

In the same scene as the saxophone issue, the character in question is listed as wearing an "A-shirt" with a "labrys" against her stomach. Does anybody else know what an A-shirt is? I had to google that shit, and you know what I found? It's a wife beater, you guys. It's a wife beater. Which I realize is really politically incorrect and gives the wrong 'vibe' for an outfit or whatever, but at least we know what it is. A "white ribbed tank top" would be equally as descriptive and still a better option than an "A-shirt". How about a labrys? I googled that shit, too, and it's a symmetric doubleheaded axe originally from Crete in Greece. So whatever the hell “Stud” meant–which was probably something related to the neck strap of the saxophone, if I had to guess–I really don’t think this was it, unless his saxophone player was wearing a fucking axe around her neck.

But let’s talk plot for a bit, shall we? At least until I get derailed again. Ava is our main character, and apparently a lesbian. Which is fine; I don’t care. And she’s apparently crushing on the aforementioned saxophone player Bailey, who apparently has a reputation for being a heart breaker. Or something. And Bailey develops the hots for Ava as well–because what else?–and despite the protestations and meddling of her coworker(s) and boss, they get together and start dating.

For the record, Chapter 2 starts with the sentence “Fish problems were not Daniel’s forte.” As in issues between lesbians. I shit you not. If the goal was to make me dislike Daniel as swiftly as possible, I would finish this out with a “job well done!”, but I honestly can’t find a single reason to like any of the characters mentioned thus far. Ava lacks any description whatsoever and is highly inconsistent in terms of behavioral patterns. Bailey keeps referring to herself as a nigga and throws around “muthafucka” like it’s rice at a wedding. Even if Bailey is supposed to be “ethnic” or, how shall I say, "really black", Stud is not doing a good job at depicting whatever it is she means her to be. Daniel is a snide prick who likes to cause drama and Cole (short for Colette), the boss–who is apparently also a chick–is a noncommittal, promiscuous lesbian who keeps calling Bailey “son”.  I really, seriously can’t figure out what “Stud” is trying to accomplish with any of these characters.

Oh, in terms of calling Bailey “son.” It’s possible–even somewhat likely–that Bailey has chosen to identify with masculine pronouns. And that’s fine. Great, even. This is probably the only positive thing I will say for ‘Literary Stud’ is that she makes my inner feminist happy in not limiting her characters to societally-dictated pronouns dependent upon genitalia. However. That’s as far as the praise goes, because it really deserves some kind of explanation of Bailey’s character before you start dropping opposing-gender pronouns on a character. Calling Bailey “son” entirely out of the blue without any kind of commentary on who Bailey is–and previously calling her “her” and “she”–it just seems out of place and disjointed. Or an error.

Even knowing that “Stud” is a lesbian who also chooses masculine pronouns–which I’m probably rudely violating in using feminine pronouns in this post, but they’re staying because I’m not invested enough to go back through and find them all and change them.

By the end of Chapter 3, Ava and Bailey have reconciled their misunderstanding (which is actually just the hesitation brought about by hearing rumors regarding a reputation which has apparently been largely earned) and make out in a porn shop. The reaction of the sales associate is entirely unrealistic–”Hey you two! I love the show but you’re going to have to take it somewhere else” says an unnamed voice, which is completely stupid because seriously, if you work in a sex shop, you’ve seen enough shit that watching lesbians awkwardly paw each other by a wall of strap ons isn’t a turn on anymore (although why it ever would have been is beyond me). I have friends who have worked in porn shops and they’ve all said the same thing of themselves and their coworkers. It’s just not… feasible? likely? accurate? plausible? I don’t even know what word you want me to use. The subsequent conversation isn’t exactly realistic either, ending with: “Why don’t we pay for these items and go get a quick bite to eat?” Who even says that? Nobody calls the stuff they’re buying “items” and nobody goes for a “quick bite to eat” right after they’ve made out and bought a strap on. I mean, unless they’re referring to eating some vagina, but they literally walk across the street to a twenty-four hour restaurant specializing in breakfast food.
Dude. What? Across from the porn shop? NO. Just no. Other cultures don’t handle sex the same way that America does, but even in Texas the porn shops are tucked away out of sight of potential “family-centered” establishments.

Also, just for the record, here are a few helpful little grammar lessons brought to you courtesy of Literary Stud.

Helpful little grammar lesson #1: You do not need a comma between an adjective and its modifying adverb. "A black plastic bag" is allowed precisely 0 commas because "black" is modifying "plastic", which is modifying "bag"; therefore you do not place a comma between them. Glad we could have this talk.

Helpful little grammar lesson #2: when you're dealing with dialogue, a quote plus its tag is one whole sentence. Let me illustrate:
"Let's walk to the car," she said.
Notice how the end of the quotation has a comma? That's because 'she said' is part of your sentence and belongs inside the period with whatever it is that's inside quotation marks. The only time you get to have
"Let's walk to the car."
is if the proceeding phrase is an independent clause or sentence, such as 'She turned around and strutted away without looking to see if I was following." or "She grinned and waggled her eyebrows."

ALSO. You don't use any punctuation at all at the end of your quotation in cases such as
"Let's walk to the car" was the last thing I heard before a sharp pain caused my vision to go black and I lost consciousness.
*None of these sentences are examples from the book.


1. You are quoting a poem or song distinctly lacking punctuation

  • Don't ever give somebody else the last word in your work, whether its creative or academic. You're basically removing authority from yourself by handing it over to somebody else and you don't want to do that--especially not in your creative writing.

2. |

Actually that's it. That's the only reason you should ever neglect to punctuate the end of your chapter, which I just explained you shouldn't ever do, which leaves you with the aforementioned rule listed in all caps, sans "unless." Always end sentences, paragraphs, and chapters with punctuation.

Helpful little grammar lesson #4: It's always, always better to underuse commas than to overuse them.

Someone apparently should have shared these with “Literary Stud” before letting her destroy some beautiful trees with her bad grammar and even worse content.

On a separate note, I don’t think I came across a single female character in this story who wasn’t gay. Even when there was discussion of Cole’s family. I mean, obviously Cole’s mom had to have had sex with a dude (or been inseminated, whatever), but nothing is said of the mom, only of Aunt Maxi, who was also a lesbian and equally as noncommittal as Cole apparently is. And apparently “the only father Cole had ever known.” And every employee at this club/restaurant/bar is female with the exception of Daniel. And, as far as I can tell, they’re all gay. Every single one of them. I mean, whatever, but so far the only non-gay character who’s been named is Daniel–and it isn’t even for sure that Daniel is straight, just that he doesn’t deal with lesbian–excuse me, “fish”–problems. That is not a statement of heterosexuality.

This doesn’t work. It just doesn’t.

There’s a statement in part two that reads “Now if only her sexy ass wasn’t such a womanizer, she would be a half decent Stud.” And I don’t know what the fuck this is supposed to mean. It comes with no explanation, no further comment, nothing. That’s it. And “Stud” is capitalized. Again: why? I don’t know, and I’m not going to waste energy thinking about it. The proceeding page reveals a less-professional relationship having existed between Cole and her head chef, Tasha, during which she calls Tasha’s girlfriend her “stubby.” I am fairly well-versed in lesbian terminology and I have never heard any of these terms–at least not used in these contexts.

Sometimes, you’re really better off using words that your readership is going to recognize and be comfortable with. Even when the big word sounds more impressive, or makes you look more “authoritative” on a subject, if your readership isn’t going to know what it means, you’re just going to look either pompous/pretentious or out of touch with reality. Thus far, I really can’t decide where Literary Stud falls, but I’m definitely leaning toward the former option.

Without nitpicking-picking every page of this… frankly pathetic piece of “literature”–and it pains me to call it such (literature, not pathetic; I don’t give two shits about calling it what it is, just what it isn’t)–I really just have to say that this book reads like the writer’s wet dream. And that’s all. It’s not well thought out, nor is it well executed.

I don’t know what I was thinking when I entered the giveaway. Probably just that I wanted a book and few enough people had entered it already that I figured my chances were good and then I’d have a free book and an easy review for my blog. If I could have had those things without having to read 124 pages of trash, that would have been great.

In short: this is literally the worst book I have ever forced myself to read in my life, and my gratitude that it’s only 124 pages is tangible. I mourn the life of the tree that was sacrificed for this piece of garbage.

Bottom line: Never trust a book from anybody who hasn’t yet graduated from his “”-esque username. My advice? Grow up, attach your name to your writing, and maybe take a few creative writing classes at your local university.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hyperbole and a Half: Allie Brosch

There are a lot of things that are difficult to write about, and one of those at the top of the list is depression. It's poorly understood, for one thing, and usually impossible to justify for another, but those are only two things. Furthermore, it's difficult to write about depression in a manner that isn't either pitiful or clinical--neither of which are approaches that welcome people to a discussion. Brosh has used her *ahem* limited drawing skills to augment her discussion in this comic-cum-novel titled Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to use comics, an inherently light-hearted form, to talk about something inherently, well, depressing, like depression, it's actually a semi-common tactic that increases the impact of the discussion, rather than undermine it. Let me put it this way: by undercutting the seriousness of the situation, the seriousness is actually intensified.

Brosh takes the time to tell some stories about her life, both in terms of her childhood and her present, and they mix together in random ratios until it's sort of confusing to which time period she's actively referring

Using such characters as Simple Dog and Helper Dog (the two pets she and her significant other adopted, to frequently disastrous (of varying degrees) results), younger versions of her self, and other people in her life, and through a series of allegories, Allie discusses quite a lot of unfortunate situations and mayhem, just as the title promises. I think, though, that the main reason I like this book as much as I do is because, through few words and the use of MS Paint illustrations (oi), Allie has captured what it is to be depressed. Obviously, depression is a multi-faceted thing and is not the same for everyone. Certainly my journey has not been hers--I, for one, never found a dried up corn kernel to be hysterical--but the template is really what's relatable. Depression has a tendency to manifest in one of two ways:

  • You are either interminably, irrevocably sad for no reason whatsoever, OR
  • you are entirely apathetic and lack motivation to do or feel anything. At all.
These two frames do have the ability to blend together sometimes, and this is when depression is perhaps most difficult to deal with. Because there you're perpetually sad, but you don't care. 

Having been dealing with clinical depression almost my entire life--as in I don't remember a time in my life when it wasn't looming over me in some capacity or another--I can say that Allie has hit the nail square on its head. Depression is a beast, and it's a vicious cycle of apathy, sorrow, and anger, and if you finally manage to escape the undertow and break the surface, you know that you're only treading water until the next wave takes you back under. And while on a real beach, people who make it back to shore would seriously just hightail it from the beach, we're stuck there. Our ride left us the second we were out of sight, and we don't remember the way up and out, leaving us stranded in this limbo space where we can function like normal people, but with the constant view of the water in our peripherals while we wait for it to crash back over us and drag us away.


Hyperbole and a Half includes stories about a birthday cake for Brosh's grandma when she was little (Grandma didn't get cake), the reaction of Simple and Helper Dog upon moving from Montana to Oregon, a lie about hot sauce, and a "time capsule" letter written by her 7-year-old self more concerned about her favorite dogs than whether her parents were still alive. It's often a shit-show, but it's amusing, and it's real. Real life doesn't make sense like fiction does, and depression is like Perfection, forcing you to attempt to put your pieces into the correct frames in a very anxious manner to save yourself from the board violently expelling all of your hard work and virtually laughing in your face while you dejectedly pick up the pieces and attempt to start over. Yay. I know.

When it comes down to it, I enjoyed the hell out of this book. I laughed a lot, even when I thought I maybe shouldn't have. I highly recommend this book whether you suffer from depression or have a family member or close friend who does--and you should know that, with depression statistics what they are, you almost definitely know someone relatively close to you who suffers from some form of depression.

Also: The dedication page says "For Scott. What now, fucker?" and I think that's awesome.

By the way, you guys know this meme:

It happens to have its origin in this book, or at least her blog in case you're interested in origins. haha

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Murder of Crows: Anne Bishop (The Others, Book 2)

Murder of Crows is the sequel to Written in Red--reviewed here. Published in March of this year, this book is only available digitally or in hardcover--for a whopping $26.95, I should mention. I downloaded a digital copy to tide me over until a paperback copy is available.

The start of this novel is not immediate after the end of the previous, although the temporal distance between them is essentially negligible. Things in the human spaces are tense, and "gone over wolf"--the drug unveiled in Written in Red--is making its way around Thaisia.
Humans are baiting the Crows by putting shinies into trash cans on collection day and then poisoning food with GOW: attempted mass murder proceeds. Why Crows? Because they see everything and communicate with their crow counterparts: to put it simply, they know too much.

Although I am thoroughly enjoying Murder of Crows, I do have to admit that it doesn't start out--by which I mean the first 20-some chapters--at quite the same level of intensity. The main drama takes place outside of Lakeside--and in a different region, though growing ever-closer--and the body of what's taking place in Lakeside Courtyard is relationship drama between Meg and Simon. And we all saw that coming. The shoulders over which we're peeking are frequently new to us, the names being dropped are not familiar ones--and while this can feel random to the unseasoned, perhaps unprepared reader, it provides one with a set of puzzle pieces illuminating different areas on a multi-faceted situation--because this thing is bigger than a puzzle, and more complicated than a sphere; it has edges that can't be seen around and thus require a new shoulder to illuminate this plane. I hope you're following.

All the cassandra sangue are prophesying the same thing, regardless of the questions asked, and even the euphoria can't mask the resulting terror/horror. Intuits--a breed of humans with terra indigene-like instincts--are sensing storms that have nothing to do with the weather. "Humans First and Last" is unfortunately gaining traction. Humans in Cel-Romano are building "flying machines." The terra indigene have evicted an entire hamlet for their crimes against the Crows. In essence: Shit's about to go down.

As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that Bishop is placing the reader in a very precarious moral, or ethical, debate: whose side are you on? Are you more sympathetic of the humans and their effort to gain more control over the world in which they're trying to live? Or are you more sympathetic to the Others, whose concern for the world outweighs their interest in the production of goods/services and the use for humans? While reading these novels, I am, of course, provided with the perspectives from both sides, and so I can sympathize with both humans and terra indigene. But am I supposed to sympathize with humans more because I am one, although am obviously living without the existence of a being higher up on my food chain? And if I am, what does it say if/that I'm not on the side of the humans? What does it say about me that I can ethically/morally/psychologically rationalize the motions of the terra indigene and their feelings? I don't know at this point, but it's an interesting question, and it's one that won't really leave me alone. I think that's kind of the point.

This isn't the only issue readers face: in dealing with the cassandra sangue, Namid's wondrous and terrible creation, was it ethical to allow for benevolent ownership? Was it ethical for these girls to be 'owned' and essentially have their lives run as if they were prison inmates? Considering the self-destruction they caused if left to their own devices, was it ethical to let them exist on their own, without guardianship?
While the issue is hardly literally relevant to society, it may be metaphorically ethical when thinking about other things or situations. Currently none come to mind, but I will own the blame for being largely ignorant of current affairs around the globe. With a little thought--and perhaps some extrapolation--I'm sure the ethical question can be overlaid like a projection transparency* upon certain situations.

Murder of Crows was significantly shorter than Written in Red, coming in at 35 chapters and 354 pages--please don't ask me to drop the chapter and page count of the first novel, but it at least felt like at least half again that long, if not twice. Consequently, I had it read in a very, very short amount of time--I bought it yesterday afternoon and finished it about an hour ago**--and I have to admit that I'm kind of disappointed in its length. The ending is good, is concise, but I'm fairly certain leading toward at least one more. It's hard to say with Bishop, but she isn't known for producing short series, so odds are good. Which works in my favor. (=

Until next time,

*Did I just date myself by referencing that technology? I'm not even that old! The technology that we had in my school growing up was pretty old because we were a small school with few students (I graduated with a mere*** 21 other kids) and so we didn't get all that much funding. Granted; I started school before 2000, so it's not like other places had SmartBoards and we didn't. But still.

**And I went out bar-hopping with my boyfriend and some friends last night, and spent a long time sleeping to avoid a hangover.

***This is a personal note, and therefore completely irrelevant, but I want to share it anyway. I can't write "mere" without giggling to myself anymore, because my boyfriend and I have shortened "Come here --> C'mere" to simply "mere" whenever we want the other to be less lazy and come provide kisses or snuggles or whatever.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Written in Red: Anne Bishop (The Others: Book One)

I am getting very, very tired of being unable to find book covers on Google bigger than 300 friggin pixels. I had to take this one and upload it from my phone. So I'm sorry if it looks like a cell phone picture (even if I do have a GS4...)

Written in Red is the first book in what looks to be perhaps the most interesting fantasy series I have ever read--even more interesting than Bishop's older Black Jewels series, a set of novels I devoured several years ago as a middle schooler. First published last year, but released in paperback in March of this year, the obvious question that follows that claim is: What makes this book different?

As seen in three series prior to this from Bishop, the author is far from averse to creating her own universes. Black Jewels, Ephemera and Tir Alainn are all series set in unique landscapes, designed to facilitate the types of events that play out within them. Unlike the three series listed above, The Others is a series that takes place in a world quite similar to our own, but with some very key differences.

Namely, humans are definitely not at the top of the food chain. Taking their place in Namid, the name for the world in which they live, are the terra indigene, or, the 'Earth Natives'. Preceding the story is a brief history of the world, which explains that when humans tried to spread out onto new continents, the Others ate them. All of them. The third human to lead his people into the Others's territory was smarter than his predecessors and brought trade items, which paved the way for human-terra indigene interaction over the course of the next several generations until hamlets became towns became cities, but were still under the thumb of creatures far from averse to eating them.

The novel follows a young woman (age 24) by the name of Meg Corbyn, who has escaped from somewhere and is seeking someplace to live freely. She finds herself in a Courtyard (areas fully controlled by Others in which human law does not apply) and applies for a position called "Liaison"--even not knowing what it meant. Simon Wolfgard (a Wolf, but for the first time in my fantasy career, never a werewolf) hires her instead of turning her away, even though her hair stinks (she dyed parts of it orange in an attempt to disguise herself) and it is apparent that she's not quite telling him the whole truth. It turns out that the Liaison's job is actually a mail collector/sorter/distributor, and must be human because of a slew of impertinent-here reasons.
As Meg acquaints herself with the position, she sets numerous terra indigene on edge, irritates many, confuses many others, and befriends every single one of them. Meg's life before running away was a caged one, in which she was considered property and designated CS759--cassandra sangue 759: Meg was a blood prophet, whose skin was deliberately sliced open in order to obtain prophecies from her... for a price. A steep price, as it were, which is why her Controller is rather insistent upon her return.

The main plots in this novel--and there are definitely more than one--include the plot for reaquisition of Meg Corbyn, an aspiring actress's attempt to gain forbidden information and ultimately steal a Wolf pup, and the sudden appearance of a terrifying new drug that cannot be explained by humans or terra indigene until the very end, when Simon Wolfsgard figures it out--although that's a secret you can't make me divulge.

Through a dramatic series of frustrating events, told through a cycle of perspectives not limited to Meg and Simon, we get to know a relatively large cast of characters through not only their own consciousnesses, but also through the minds of those around them. While the novel is packed with drama and high tension, there is also a massive amount of humor--two things Bishop is very, very good at pairing and balancing. Because Meg manages to befriend nearly everybody--including those the Sanguinati (based on Vampires, but definitely more dangerous than that) and Wolves privately fear--her health and well-being are highly important to a number of persons, and when those two things are threatened, the human populations (especially her enemies) are essentially attacked via weather until the threat is, how shall I say, neutralized.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Bishop's Black Jewels series, I admit that I had very, very high expectations for this novel. However, where Black Jewels was often crass and indelicate--particularly in terms of sex/uality--The Others has none of that, although as of yet the sex has been glossed over when it's appeared, although I suspect that the glossing is more because it's irrelevant than because she's not intending to highlight it ever. It wouldn't be the author's style. Written in Red so exceeded my expectations that I have shirked my duties the past two days just to read it. Now that I've finished it, I'm slightly perturbed that I didn't buy the second book at the same time. In my defense, I was broke, and buying it was kind of an act of defiance. (Leave it to me to be rebellious by buying a book.)

Bishop's novel has received five brilliantly shiny gold stars from this lit critic and novel enthusiast. As an enthusiast, my opinion may be a bit biased--especially considering how fond I am of the author--but nobody's complained about my interpretation yet, so I guess I can't be that opaquely slanted. Or maybe I am, and that's not a bad thing yet.

With that, I have nothing more to add.

Happy reading
--Emily Renae

Monday, February 24, 2014

Rot & Ruin: Jonathan Maberry (Rot & Ruin - Book 1)

Rot & Ruin is the first book in a series of 3 (maybe 4?) books set post-zombie apocalypse.

The novel(s) follow(s) Benny Imura, younger brother of 'zombie slayer' Tom Imura, who is in desperate need of an occupation to which he can actually commit.

He ends up apprenticing with his older brother, but he has a lot to learn over the course of the novel. Fortunately for us, he does seem to figure out how to grow the fuck up. I mean, he's only 14 (I believe) so it's not like it's that unreasonable that he'd be immature, but nonetheless.

Quite frankly, although there are a lot of things that I could say about this book, there's really only one that I particularly want to--the reason that I'm reviewing the novel at all:

I thoroughly appreciate the way that Maberry has worked his zombies and such. It is a disease, but they don't know what it is or what caused it, but literally anybody who dies at this point will reawaken a zombie unless 'silenced', which is a practice of taking a metal pin thing and shoving it into the spinal column in the back of the neck to sever the nerves, etc. Also, they kind of just stand in place without anything to stimulate their senses. They have to hear noise or see movement in order to "animate." Going out into the wilderness is still dangerous, of course, but that at least makes it a little easier.

However. My main criticism of this novel is simply that it's aimed at such a young audience. This book is aimed at males ages 10-15 approx. Obviously I'm a 21 year old female and therefore not the intended audience, but that isn't the point. Maberry's prose is so hollow; there's so much that he could be doing with this series, so many things that could be really delved into deeply, but aren't because of the intended audience. Don't get me wrong, it's done very well as is, but I just really feel like it could be so much better if it was aimed at an older audience.

So. By all means go read it, but buyer beware: Unless you tend to rather enjoy tween lit, you'll feel a little disenchanted.

Unrelated: I got my boyfriend to read this and the sequel, Dust & Decay, because he'd been complaining about not really reading anymore and I wanted to fix that. He read each of them in about a day and a half I think, and he is intending to order the 3rd through Amazon so that he can finish (theoretically) the series. He, like me, hates to leave things unfinished. Plus, the second one ends on one helluva cliffhanger.

Until next time,

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Soulless: Gail Carriger (The Parasol Protectorate - Book 1)


Soulless is the first novel in a series of 5 by Gail Carriger, a writer who is both hilarious and brilliant, and unquestionably has my loyalty after just this one novel.

I read it in the span of about a day and a half, just purely because I was so into it. And I was putting off my homework. As per usual. So sue me. (Don't, please, I beg you.)

Although the common mythology is that vampires and werewolves lack souls because they're "undead" if you will, Carriger has flipped this concept around, instead claiming that they have an excess of soul, which is what allows them to be supernatural in the first place. Alexia Tarabotti, our heroine, is what they refer to as a preternatural, or an otherwise normal human being who has been born without a soul. What this means is that she counteracts all supernatural-ness; coming into contact with a supe causes an immediate reversion to humanity for the werewolf/vampire/ghost in question, which is particularly interesting and, at times, sort of dangerous. This soullessness is, in fact, hereditary, and she got the trait from her Italian father, a heritage she and her family are most embarrassed about because they are, after all, British in the nineteenth century. (From my studies, I've gathered that this disdain of foreigners was a pretty solid thing for these people; whether or not it still holds is up in the air.)

Because supernaturals are "public," if you will, there had to be some manipulation of history in order to account for it all. It's actually quite genius, the way that things are perfectly accounted for and addressed. I wasn't even expecting such interesting developments. Also, there is an overseeing organization called BUR--an acronym I've unfortunately forgotten at the moment, and my novel is across the room, and I'm naked and in bed, so I'm not getting it to tell you. Suck it--headed by one Lord Maccon, the 20-years new Alpha of the Woolsey pack.

Alexia is particularly bold and educated in the sciences, etc. Her father is dead and has been for quite awhile, and her mother remarried a proper Brit and had two more daughters--and I'll be the first to tell you that Alexia's entire immediate family is a group of bloody twits.

Anyway. The plot of this novel is that roves (independent vampires not connected to a Hive--as opposed to a coven) are going missing, and new, uneducated vampires are randomly showing up. Not only that, but Alexia's being targeted and followed and such. Drama and hilarity ensue, and untoward romance sparks between Alexia--considered a spinster at age 26--and Lord Maccon, which is also bloody hilarious, I should mention.

The remainder of the plot and such is certainly worth discussion, but I'm not going to thrill you with it because it simply won't do to elaborate on the entire plot, now, will it? What would be the point in ruining it? Regardless, it's definitely worth a read.

I've begun reading the second book--because, true to my nature, I bought all 5 of them at the same time. Dangerous practice to get into, but usually worth it. At least for me. (= --aaaaand it's just as brilliant as the first. And I'm not even a full chapter into it yet. lol. So worth it.

I'll get back to you when I have more to offer. (=

Until next time,

Monday, January 20, 2014


So I lied.

I'm sorry.

I really had intended to read a lot over break and write reviews on whatever I managed to finish. Honestly, I did. But, unfortunately, that didn't happen. I couldn't find the motivation to spend that much time reading. I don't know why. I miss being as attracted to books as I used to be. I still love the shit out of them, don't get me wrong. It's just that they don't have the absolute draw like they used to.

It helps that I have friends and a stable relationship now. Captain (as I shall refer to him) takes up a lot of my time--which is natural, of course, especially considering that we live together. He's good for me, as am I for him, and the reasons are diverse. Being a double major at University also has benefits, because it places me in proximity with persons of common interests and therein friendships are born. Which is nice! But friends also take time and effort. As do classes and the work involved.

I'm in my sixth semester of college (fourth at UND), which makes me a solid Junior. I'm enrolled in 21 credits this spring, which seems like a lot but thus far doesn't feel like it. I'm sure it will before too long, though. This is what I've got:
CSD 340: Normal Language Structure
CSD 333: Articulation and Phonological Development and Disorders
GERM 102: Beginning German II
ENGL 415: Survey of the English Novel II
MATH 105: Trigonometry
A&S 499: Global Investigations: London
ANTH 370: Language and Culture

Seriously CSD 333 has the longest class title I have ever seen. If you've seen better--or just as good!--feel free to leave a comment and share! It amuses and interests me. haha. Don't judge me. #sorrynotsorry

The Global Investigations class is really interesting and cool because we're actually going to London over spring break in March. The point is for each of us to conduct a research project of sorts which relates something of interest to London. My project is regarding the cultural impact of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and its various adaptations. Considering that Sherlock Holmes is set in the heart of London, I would say it's pretty connected, wouldn't you?
I'm sending a letter to Benedict Cumberbatch in hopes of an interview as well. I very highly doubt that I'm going to get one. If I even get a reply, I'll probably faint. If it says yes, I'll faint again. hahaha. It's not like he'll reply directly, of course, but that isn't the point. I suppose it would be smart of me to actually read some of Sir Conan Doyle's material, eh? Maybe. We'll see.

My novels course is off to a marvelous start. We're reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, and thus far I'm enjoying it. I'm only 71 pages into it, of course, but that's arbitrary. I enjoy his prose. That will be a book on which I will probably blog updates as we go, but considering that I have class three times a week, it may be only a weekly update. haha. We'll see what I manage to pull off--or remember, for all that.

We've already had a snow day this semester, which is ridiculous because today (Monday) marks the start of the 2nd week of classes, and there's no school today. MLKJ day, naturally. I haven't even been to CSD 340 yet. He cancelled class on Wednesday; I didn't skip. Had to clarify, because I have a bad habit of skipping.

Anyway, that's a general update on the life of Emily. I'll work on posting about Woman in White here and there. I'll also work on reading some other material for your perusal. Reviewing literature is so time consuming. haha.