Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Soup - April 13 Edition

Sunday Soup is... a little of this, a little of that, not too much work, and hopefully a tasty result.

Soup Dish:  book people are talking about...
I'm not actually sure what people are talking about this week, but here are some links that caught my eye.

Stupid Lies About Vaginas, from Victoria Dahl. I do love this woman.
Roving Auto-Article Generator.
The press will print each PDF, which will be saddle stitched on the spot before being distributed for free.
I can't help but feel like this has to be a hoax.  I hope. The saddle-stitching detail seems like it puts it over the top.

Amazon is dead-freaking serious about drone deliveries. I find this kind of bemusing, and the sheer scope of the logistics on the ridiculous side, but then that's what everyone thought about building cell phone towers every 5 miles (give or take) in the 80s. So who knows?

The concept of peak content.  Hmmm. It is true that there seems to be a more viable business model as a content aggregator than a content producer... but what happens if everyone is aggregating and no one is producing? Could that even happen?

Newest blog on my radar: The Passionate Reader.  I love this blogger's voice and I'm looking forward to meeting her at RT!

What I'm reading
I've been on a great roll this week, catching up on some authors that have been on my list forever, plus finishing up this one by Victoria Dahl:

Too Hot to Handle. I don't know if I'm getting old or what, but I cannot for the life of me keep the titles of this mini-series straight. I finally figured out which one to read next and finished this contemporary Western.  I pretty much always likes me some Dahl, but I will say there were a few times with this heroine's awkwardness was almost off-putting, like I could almost see the author's hand cranking up the discomfort.  But since she has one of the best "I am woman, hear me roar" speeches ever, I can forgive:
"You think I'm someone sweet and nice and sunny? You look at me and you see someone who wants an apology? Someone who'll forgive you?

"That's what I hope, yes. I'm sorry, Merry. You're special. I know we don't have a permanent thing, but--

"I'm *special*?" she snarled. "Am I cute, too? And funny and kind?

"Um..." He finally seemed to recognize that his smile may have been premature. "Yes?"

Merry poked a finger into his chest, hard. "You don't know me. You don't know anything about me. You know *nothing, do you understand?"

He stepped backwards, hands raised.

"If I'm sweet, it's because I choose to be. If I'm ridiculously positive, it's because life is easier that way. A *hard* life is easier that way. I am not stupid, Shane."
She goes on to pretty much tear him a new one and give him a Black Moment to be remembered.  It is an EPIC scene.

Red-Headed Stepchild, by Jaye Wells. Unsurprisingly, I loved this kick-ass half-breed vampire/mage heroine. And yes, I know that "half-breed" is an offensive term with regards to real humans of mixed race parentage, but in a paranormal trope, I am using it deliberately. The "half-breed" is a classic romance device, posing a huge amount of potential conflict and character development. I actually got quite tired of it in the 80s, as every other hero of the American Western historical seemed to be either half Native American or half Mexican - "a foot in each camp, respected by the opposing societies, but belonging to neither." It was like a stock line on the blurb. But more recently, I've seen some much more nuanced treatments and I'm rather enjoying the new twists on this old theme.  Here, it's an important element to the story as Sabina is marginalized by the family that raised her because of her mixed parentage. At the end of the first book, it remains to be seen if her other heritage will treat her better.

A Perfect Darkness, by Jaime Rush. I first got wind of this author via the Avon Addict program, but I was reluctant to start in the middle of the series, and I never got around to tracking down the first book. Until now, and I'm very glad I did.  I found the paranormal elements here quite plausible and the suspense really kept me turning the pages. I won't say there weren't a few flaws -- the three protagonists basically take out a CIA operation which seemed a little bit unlikely, and the villain here is disappointingly one-dimensional, but the world is intriguing and I love the characters, so I'll be going back for more.

Outlander Watch... Och. I canna wait for Jamie and Claire onscreen.

I really want to dive into a re-read of Outlander, but I'm holding off until after RT. I'll keep you posted.

New eye candy, er, I mean, casting news-- says:
[Steven] Cree, repped by Tom Reed at Lou Coulson Associates, will play Ian Murray, Jenny’s husband and Jamie’s best friend since childhood, who lost part of his leg during battle with the English. Cree’s film credits include 300: Rise Of An Empire and The Awakening. He also will be seen opposite Angelina Jolie in Maleficent.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The King, by JR Ward - Review (sort of)

Title: The King
Author: J. R. Ward
Publisher:  NAL
Imprint: Penguin Group
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Reviewing: Kindle ebook
Reason for reading: JR, I can't quit you.

The Short Answer 
I think you have to be a pretty hard-core fan of the series to enjoy this particular book.  Which I am, and I did, but there were also a lot of things that were kind of... terrible.

Series Handicap:
This is a tough one to answer. Because there was not very much going on with the brothers, the handicap might actually be fairly low. You'll be totally lost on the Sola/Assail arc, and have missed some key things with the Xcor/Layla arc... but the King's story stands alone pretty well, actually.  On the other hand, this is probably not the best intro to the world and to JR Ward. I'd give it a 3 of 5, I guess, which is kind of a cop-out number. ;-)

Ye Olde Vocabulary
Someone should really put a shock collar on JRW and set it to taser her every time she writes something involving the words "partake" or "unto."  Scenes written in this psuedo-historical narration have been cringe-worthy since the first book and I honestly think they're getting worse. Interestingly, The King starts with a flashback scene featuring our Wrath's father, Wrath. You had to read a few pages into it before you were sure that it was the previous King Wrath, and I think the Olde-Timeyness of the language was deliberately toned down... and it was so much better than other scenes where it was not.

Stop the Madness
This was in the first chapter after the prologue, in Wrath's point of view:
...he was fully capable of going wrecking-ball to get at her. And not in the stupid-ass Miley Cyrus poser-sex way...
I refuse to believe that Miley Cyrus plays any part in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Period. I am excising the three (THREE!!) references from my brain.  It never happened. We won't speak of it again.

Wrath and Beth
This book was aptly titled, because Wrath really was the centerpiece, and he has a lot of work to do.  If Dark Lover was something of a coming of age story for Beth, this is one for Wrath. He comes to terms with the value of his kingship, his blindness, and his future in general.  He does some things in this book that I think are long overdue in the world-building, and it is a good thing indeed.  However, I would've liked to have seen more of the reactions from his populace -- both the commoners and the glymera.  There were scenes that seem conspicuously absent in retrospect.

I also really liked the background on Wrath's father. I think this is the first "history" we get of the race that isn't from a current character's point of view -- we just get to see some stuff that happened, that (our current) Wrath was not actually part of.

Other Arcs
Like all of the books in the BDB, there is a lot going on here.  Besides the arcs with Wrath and Beth and the kingship, there is a Trez arc, an Xcor/Layla arc, and the Assail/Sola arc. If this annoys you in general about the BDB books, it's probably going to be a bigger problem than usual for you.  Of the secondary arcs, I really like how the Sola/Assail one is going, although the folks who say it seems unconnected and distracting have a point. I don't know, there's something about those two that has hooked me in a way that Xcor/Layla did not.  Trez has some interesting problems to get handled too; I'm looking forward to that story (which is apparently going to be in the next book, according to announcements made at Saturday's Cincinnati signing for The King (you can find the transcript at JR Ward's Facebook page).

Unfortunately, I found the Xcor/Layla pairing to be pretty much just terrible all around.  Xcor does a wholly unbelievable 180 degree character turn, and not much else other than pining and thinking.  Although one of the best moments was when he was buying a new wardrobe and the clerk at Macy's looks him up and down and says, "You're not from around here, are you?" I cracked up.

Are people still arguing about whether the BDB books are romances? This one is probably less in that mold than any so far.  I have always staunchly said: "YES, they definitely are!" but the romance is less central to this book than any so far.

Bottom Line
I think this book could have done with fewer side-arcs and deeper treatment of the kingship arc -- it felt like a lot of things were glossed over.  The things that I don't like about JR Ward are present and accounted for and just as unlikeable in this book -- the annoying Olde Timey-speak and the fact that everyone has essentially the same voice, primarily. But it is still somehow a can't-put-it-down story that kinda makes me want an oversized, over-testosteroned-up vampire of my own.

Around the Blogosphere:
Interview with JR Ward
Vampire Book Club
Cocktails and Books
Under the Covers

As always, if you have reviewed this book feel free to leave a link in comments!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Thursday Thirteen, Edition 33: Twitter

I engage in social media in a very specific way.  There are lots of different ways to enjoy it, lots of different reasons for being in that space, and as a veteran of more than a few internet kerfuffles that raised my blood pressure in ways I did not like, I have learned a few things about what works for me, and what does not.  So this is about me and how I engage.  If I've unfollowed you for one of the reasons below, don't read this as a plea for you to stop doing something -- you should engage in the way that makes YOU happy.  But if maybe you're wondering why followers like me (whatever that means) aren't sticking around, maybe it's food for thought.

Thirteen Things About Me and Twitter:

Some things about me:
1. I'm on the internet for recreation, enjoyment, and entertainment.
2. I do not enjoy heated conflict (many people do, and that's FINE. I'm not one.)
3. I am not on the internet to pursue social justice, and I am not interested in evangelization on any topic.
4. What I think of your Twitter feed IS NO REFLECTION on what I think of you as a person or, if you are an author, of your work.  Seriously. 

Some things that might make me unfollow you:
5. You post a LOT about your cat.  (Dude. I'm allergic. And they're not THAT cute.)
6. You post a lot of religiously-oriented inspirational things.  Not my jam.
7. You are OUTRAGED about people being WRONG on the internet ALL THE TIME.
8. You discuss complex, in-depth topics by chunking up 3000-word op-ed pieces into a bajillion consecutive tweets.
9. You live-tweet* TV shows or sports things.
10. You live-tweet* a book I might read, with spoilers.
11. You post multiple one-line promotional tweets consecutively (and you do it a lot).
12. You retweet multiple promo tweets from your friends consecutively.
13. U use txt abbrvs 2 mch

*Maybe someday I'll pony up for a paid app with a mute button.  Until then...


Find more Thirteeners at Thursday-13. Participants are welcome and encouraged to leave links in comments.


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