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CuddleBuggery: March 2011

This page has moved to a new address.


CuddleBuggery: March 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

That thing that goes bump in the night... is my Manuscript

So, a friend on GoodReads broke the news to me today.  There are several other cybernetic-based books coming out in the next two years. 

So, what does this tell me?  Either I hurry up and submit my manuscript to jump on the bandwagon - or I already missed the wave.

Either way I'm fucked because I'm chicken-shit.  I feel nauseous even thinking about doing the final edits on my manuscript... let alone submitting it to anyone!

My manuscript is an albatross, noosed around my neck. 

It's the thing that goes bump in the night.

Like it's coming in at me from all sides now.

Anybody else know the feeling?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday's Video Log


I'm going to be late this week!  Sorry guys, but it's not because I don't love you!

The good news is that it's actually going to be a positive review this week!  I know that'll be a nice change!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The OTHER Women in Today's Literature

I'm certainly not the first, nor will I be the last to expound on the issues of representation and quality of female characters in YA Paranormal Lit and even in the Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance Genre.
However, I am currently reading Simone de Beauvoir, and like millions before me, I’m currently in sparkle-eyed, obsessive admiration of her…
Seriously, she does strange things to me… like turn me into a dreamy anime girl…

Simone takes her readers through a profound, deeply insightful look into the continued failure of the modern and not-so-modern feminist movement.  One of the biggest reasons for the protracted and difficult struggle women have had in order to win equality and basic human rights is our inability to unite together into a single cause.

As Simone points out often, women are often tied to their homes with a greater sense of responsibility to their family than to their gender.  They don’t always mix well with women of different social strata since they are usually unable to adequately sympathize with each other and usually have completely different yet, in the end, complementary needs.

I think they find it hard to relate to each other…

So what are these three different, but intimately related genres teaching us about OTHER women, and I’m not really addressing the shitty quality of female protagonists, either.

Representation of the OTHER Women in Literature

In almost EVERY SINGLE YA, PNR or UF I’ve read, other women are the bad guys.

Dr. Evil
Exactly this ridiculous, only female.

If it is a story centred around a school then you will have your bitchy, evil, female MeanGirls. If it is an Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance women will either feature rarely or if they do, they are either a plot device (more on that later), ridiculed by the text or evil.  The only exception to this rule is a series based on a group of characters who hook up with the Twue Loffs over a series of books, like Black Dagger Brotherhood or Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander Series.  Then they’re all allowed to be friends after the fact but during their own novel's, they're almost entirely the only women present!

The Plot Device Woman, The Ridiculous Woman and the Anti-Protagonist

Often this woman exists as the sole friend of the Protagonist’s.  She is there as a counter-weight to make the (usually) already lacklustre female protagonist look more interesting.

For example, Nora’s Vee from Hush Hush
**I would like to point out that I am naming these characters in a function that clearly shows they belong to the protagonist because they wouldn’t exist except as an extension of the protagonist.

Vee is often described by Nora as overly-curvy.  She is simple-minded (this is me being polite to a non-character), desperate, boy-driven, reckless and ridiculous!

Her function is to allow drooling over Patch, which Nora can’t be seen doing because then she would, apparently, look ridiculous.  Thus that is Vee’s job.  She’s also needed to further the plot and is easily discarded when not needed to make this book more ridiculous than it already is.

The same could be said for Luce’s Penn in Fallen and Ever’s Haven in Evermore.

They serve to do what the main protagonist can’t and dress the protagonist and make her pretty, whilst reminding the reader how ewnique the heroine is and that she’s cool because she’s not into all that “girlie shit”.

The Evil Women

I’ve read a number of books lately in which there is not ONE positive female character other than the protagonist.  Surprisingly, Kathy Reich’s Virals come to mind as the latest, and most unexpected entry onto my list of Books Lacking Positive Female Representation.

I’m not kidding when I say that not a SINGLE female character in this book is in anyway positive with the sole exception of the protagonist.  Almost every male character in this book turns out to be either: awesome, nice, good, misunderstood or wronged.

The girls at school are complete bitches who the female protagonist describes as stupid and uninteresting, her father’s girlfriend is nothing but a mindless society girl and that sums it up.

Similarly with Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.  Another disappointing entry onto the list, despite my enjoyment of it.

The more obvious entries would be: Shiver, The Iron Witch, and a bevy of rubbish YA literature.

The Non-Existent Women

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, one of my favourites, has virtually no other female characters in it and the one woman who becomes a female werewolf (in a sequel novel) is a stupid, manipulative liar who we’re supposed to despise and ultimately pity.

Anita Blake which is supposed to be ALL ABOUT woman power and yet women are, for the most part, non-existent in her world.  When they are finally represented they are either evil, useless, incompetent or vindictive.

A number of novels, such as Stray by Rachel Vincent, and the aforementioned Bitten simply remove the hassle of creating ANY female characters from them by creating a mythology in which women aren’t powerful enough to become paranormal creatures and the female protagonist is one of the sole exceptions. 
To a lesser degree, the Mercy Thompson series also does this and one has to wonder why?

Why Do Authors Do This?

As mentioned above, for a number of reasons.  A diamond looks less special when it’s surrounded by other diamonds and a quartz looks even worse surrounded by diamonds.

Their protagonists aren’t really unique, special or amazing (in most cases).  Luce, Ever, Grace, Nora etc aren’t all that distinguishable when you pile them all together.  If you were to create a story featuring all these characters then it would probably have a lot of girls who all sound and act almost entirely the same.

Similarly many Paranormal Romance Heroines and Urban Fantasy Heroines are only distinguishable because of their different powers or abilities or SPECIES.

How different are Stormwalker’s Janet Begay and Moon Called’s Mercy Thompson, really?
Or Kim Harrison, Anita Blake, Gin Blanco and Cassandra Palmer?

It’s easier to either feature other women in far worse light or to not feature them at all than to create a truly unique, vibrant, living, breathing character that can stand up to some competition.

What Are the Effects?

Competition, mainly.

As in, we’re all in one.

Other women aren’t there for solidarity and sisterhood.  In these novels, most of these women are far more comfortable around men and male companionship than they are around women.

Simone de Beauvoir speaks constantly about how men see women as Other.  The ones Not Like Him.  Yet, aren’t these books sending the same message?  Other women are Other.  They are either competition, in the way or something to be used to gain the prize: The Man.

Because in the end, that’s what most of the conflict stems from in these books.

Hot Guy likes Heroine.  Evil Bitch wants Hot Guy.  Evil Bitch attacks Heroine.  Heroine is more awesome than Evil Bitch and Hot Guy recognizes this.  Heroine Wins.

It’s a formula, too often used, that only hurts us and our perception of other women.  There is no sense of sisterhood or solidarity in these novels.   These novels routinely show us that our benefactors, peers and supporters are pretty much only men.

And hey, there's NOTHING wrong with men.  Many men have joined to help fight and continue to support women's rights around the world.  But we're certainly not doing ourselves any favours if society is teaching us to be suspicious, wary and uncomfortable around EACH OTHER.

I don’t believe fiction is the cause of this, merely an unfortunate victim and unwitting propagator of what is becoming a more and more prevalent and damaging view.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I've Been Immortalized, and other interesting things...

So there I was, boldly going where every good reader should go at least seventy-five times a day: Goodreads.

Minding my own business, trying not to blow people away with the power of my sexual potency when I notice somebody liked something with my name in it.  Pushed to greater heights of self-vanity and interest, I decided to check it out.

And what should I find?

Kat the Reviewer, GOT REVIEWED!

I know, it almost blew my mind too.  But I tell you the truth!  See?  I have a Link to prove it! 

So go check it out, I think Mariel has done an awesome job!  I wouldn't be linking to it unless it was filled with superlative declarations of love to me!

Also, anybody want to create a Unicorn creation story in five lines or less?  Send me your best shot!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Friday's Video for Hush Hush is officially up.  Hopefully, I will have a positive video review to bring to you this week as well to make up for so many bad ones!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Two Stars

*This ARC was provided for me by Harlequin and no money was exchanged.*

I requested this galley because, after reading the blurb, I immediately decided that the concept was awesome and that this book would be made of win. I tried to rationalize with myself that it might not be the fantastic story I was imagining, but it still had to be good, right? RIGHT?

Of course the concept of Vampire has already been taken, murdered, chopped into little pieces, jellified and poured into a modern, PC mould of super coolness.

I just didn't realize you could do that to the entire Greek Mythology as well.

And this is where to entire book falls apart. Which is extremely sad because the concept was so awesome. There was potential for REAL characters, great dialogue, witty mythology-based banter, awkward circumstances and believable chemistry.

Mythology: The Greek gods and goddesses, like normal people except with immortality and individual powers. They torment, rape or save mortals and generally act insane before retiring for the evening to get drunk and partake in debauchery.
TGT: The gods and goddesses are no longer blood relatives and they're no longer Greek. They're equal opportunity dieties. They don't stand for any immoral shenanigans and consider human life valid.

Greek Gods

Mythology: Hades is a mostly okay god having only raped a few mortals and embroiled in a small case of kidnap which may or may not have given Persephone the world's first case of Stockholm Syndrome. He is the guardian to the Underworld which is a miserable place according to every spirit spoken to, the few retrieved or those couple who've bravely entered alive and lived to tell the tale. DON'T try to mess with or remove spirits from this horrible place. It seriously pisses Hades off though he has been known to return a spirit or two because he's a generally alright God. He's the eldest of his three brothers. He has an awesome helm of invisibility and a few other useful trinkets and also a three-headed dog.
TGT: Hades is a brooding, twenty-two year old (looking) VIRGIN immortal, with a ONE headed dog named Cerebrus and none of the awesome or LACK OF VIRGINITY. His only powers seem to be an incredible ability to angst up a room and all the romantic tact of a wet fish with a bad case of herpes (WHO IS A VIRGIN!) He also follows some preset rules (if gods don't make the rules then who does?) and is generally a pussywhipped virgin!

Oh, how the mighty have fallen...

I could go on, but I think it's enough that the original mythology which was this book's biggest drawcard, has been destroyed and along with it, the possibility of a really great story. Because, after all, you can't proudly base your story so heavily on Greek mythology and then turn it into something so very uncomfortably western and Christian based.

The characters weren't all bad. Kate was extremely exasperating in the beginning of this novel. She, for good reason, believes that Hades has the ability to take life and death right up until she's in his beautiful mansion and has seen all the proof. Then she refuses to believe any of it and insist he's crazy.

The biggest problem is that when you're reading a story about being tested to become a god or goddess, you're kind of expecting the trial to be somewhat hard. You know, stealing the Girdle of Hippolyte or DESTROY A FREAKIN' HYDRA!!! It's immortality, dude. You can't just go giving that shit away.

One day I would like to discuss why a man gets twelve tests that require strength, skill, cunning and intelligence; and a woman gets seven tests requiring morality and humility. There seems to be an underlying message there for those people who want to draw conclusions.

And that's my final problem with this story. It's not that the writing is necessarily bad or that all that characters are bad. Most of them are fine and this book is actually readable. My problem is the massive copouts left, right and centre.

Being coerced into a deal to save your mother's life should involve maybe a few more hardships than getting to wear pretty dresses, living in a rich mansion and falling in love with a super sexy God. Tests for immortality should be a little more difficult than going an afternoon without food and letting your friends have the clothes that you didn't want anyway.

Finally, I felt the entire ending of this story was the biggest copout of all.

It's been a sad trend in YA lit that everything always has to be hunky-dory perfect with a kickass outfit to boot. I was really hoping this book would be something special and unique. The Goddess Test didn't pass its final grade.

Video Review


Friday, March 11, 2011

First Video Post!

Okay, so I've posted my first video review and chose Fallen to take the fall.

Can I just mention that filming a Vlog is a complete and total bitch.  It took me thirteen attempts, a lot of swearing and several hours of editing, cutting, downloading etc to get to this point.

Can I say that the end result is worth it?  Fuck no!  But I've got some great ideas for my next Vlog and hopefull it will be far superior!

So, I hope you enjoy and thanks for being patient while I get my blog up and running!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Anita Blake Series by Laurell K Hamilton

Okay, so some of the girls asked that I do a review of the Anita Blake series because I mentioned some things that intrigued them.

It's not a finished series and usually I would reserve judgment on a series until it comes to its conclusion just in case the author was going somewhere I wasn't expecting.

Kind of like that scene out of Austin Powers where Austin's in the bathroom stall with a bad guy and a big Texan man is in the next stall and can only see Austin's feet. He hears Austin Powers grunting as he fights the guy, saying, "Who does Number 2 work for?"

The Texan guy, thinking that Austin is taking a crap, decides to pitch in and give encouragement to someone who is obviously struggling.

"That's right! Show that turd who's boss!"

Well, that's what reading Anita Blake is like. You're sitting in the next stall with someone who, nine or so books ago you thought was really nice and normal. Suddenly they start to struggle and you want to be encouraging, or you want to tell them to give up, take a laxative and come back later. The thing is, at first you're wary to because maybe something else is going on. Maybe a brilliant struggle for life and death is happening but you just can't see it. Maybe at the end of the series, you're going to come out, see what's left over in the stall and proudly proclaim:

Jesus Christ, what did you eat?

The first 10 books are filled with mystery and intrigue. They've got great characters and really interesting storylines. They've got action. DAMN have they got action! Obsidian Butterfly, in my opinion, the last good book is such a thriller in so many ways.

They're a little bit sexy and you find yourself wishing a little more sexy would come your way because it's kind of really hawt.

But then something happens after book 10. It happens so quickly that you're kind of in a headspin, looking around going, "Am I still reading the right series? Have they printed a different book under the same name?"

Because suddenly, they're no longer mysteries. There's no longer any real edge-of-your-seat suspense. Suddenly, you think you're going to go a little crazy if you read another freakin' sex scene. Suddenly the writing is so poor, so transparent! The characters are so unlikable and so unrelatable that they might as well be from another galaxy.

You're just walking along one day, admiring the view, when suddenly - OH CRAP! ANITA JUST HAD SEX WITH A WERELEOPARD IN ANIMAL FORM!!!!

You're minding you're own business, enjoying a cup of coffee when - FUCK! SHE JUST HAD A THREE WAY WITH TWO MEN! ANALSEXANALSEXANALSEX!!!

You were about to get ready for work when, out of nowhere - CROTCHBUCKETS! SHE'S JUST HAD A MASSIVE GROUP ORGY AND BEEN 'SPITTED' BY TWO MEN! FAAARK!!!

Then you wonder if you can still walk into a church after reading these books. They become so appallingly bad that you wear them like a badge of pride. "Oh, you think THAT book is shocking? Has she ever had sex with an animal while a whole room full of people look on?" "Oh! You think THAT'S shocking? Did that character ever have seven consecutive boyfriends and nine casual fucks at the same time?" "Really? That character is THAT powerful? Did they ever defeat an evil villain with the power of their crotch alone?"

Speaking of which, this is one of the major, MAJOR flaws of Anita Blake. Her Cooter. The Crotch of Doom as some of the girls call it. Almost every man she comes across, she has to sleep with. And then he loves her. He's addicted to her. He can't get enough of her. It's ridiculous. That girl had better have a TV screen in her forehead, beer leaking from her nipples and a bellybutton that dispenses sandwiches. Otherwise I just ain' buyin' it!

She amasses power like it's spare change. She goes from being a powerful animator of zombies, to a necromancer who can control ALL dead things (including vampires), as well as being a lupa (Queen of the Werewolves, Namira-Ra (Queen of the wereleopards) having six strains of were in her but none of the downsides like actually changing. She becomes a succubus. She is a human servant part of a powerful Triumvate. Then she makes her OWN triumvate with her own Vampire to call and an animal to call. It's just RIDICULOUS! You're wondering where it stops!

This stops her from having any character growth. I thought Anita Blake's flaws were going to be dealt with at some point. I thought her pride, arrogance, lack of impulse control, insecurities etc were going to be addressed through circumstances and a learning curve. No. She just becomes so powerful that it doesn't matter anymore.

And the books are just basically sex. That's all that happens. Everyone has sex. All the time. And then they all argue. A lot. Anita wears a skirt, so three out of seven of her boyfriends take issue with that and then argue with Anita and amongst themselves. Anita chips a nail, so at least five of her boyfriends go mental and start blaming each other.

I really don't know why this mess continues. It's beyond ridiculous. I think LKH just wants to see how much she can shock us now. What more can she do to play with our heads? So Anita has brain sex with another woman. So Anita has sex with a sixteen year old. It doesn't matter anymore. In the end, Anita never takes responsibility for ANY of it. She never really sits down and says: "Regardless of everything - I want to be with THIS person and THAT person. I want to do THESE crazy sex acts because that would get me hawt. Then I want to try it with five men at once."

No. It's always the situation. She's always "made" to do it. This makes me lose so much respect for both the character and LKH. You want fantasy smut in your story? Fine. Put it in there. But don't make it so that the character never CHOOSES the fantasy smut. Don't make it so that each and every time, the character is forced by circumstances to do these crazy, smutty things. WTH?

And lastly, don't push feminist bullshit down our throats when every other woman in this series is either a bitch, psycho, cow or pathetically weak! If Anita was a real woman than she'd stand up to a little damn competition. Instead she fights with every other woman around like it's some kind of damn pissing competition.

I kept thinking that maybe LKH was behind that stall, doing something that didn't seem apparent to me. From what I could see so far, she was struggling to get something out. I kept wanting to yell at her for it, but then I thought, maybe there's something epic happening. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's just because I can't see enough from my stall in the bathroom of life.

No, my friends. In this instance, she's not wrestling a man into a toilet bowl for information. She's not leading us through some epic, well thought out drama that's going to unfold brilliantly if we just hang on and keep reading.

She's just shitting with us. Well and truly, and enjoying the money we pay her for the pleasure of reading this crap.


Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning

Four Stars

Usually when reviewing a book, it's possible to give away a few minor plot points, in order to discuss the theme and intentions of the author, without actually spoiling anything in the book. With Shadowfever, however, pretty much discussing anything is a spoiler.

In fact, admitting the existence of the book is actually a spoiler.

I can't even really discuss what characters feature in this story because that, too, would be a spoiler. This review has absolutely no spoilers in the main part. Down below, if you scroll to the very bottom of the page, you will see some comments and thoughts of mine that contain spoilers but they are well marked and easily avoided.

My best chance for providing a spoiler-free review for you is to just describe my general feel of the book.

This is really the easiest way for me to do that.

Reading this book was like that scene out of Napoleon Dynamite where Pedro promises his class that if they vote for him, all their dreams will come true.

Shadowfever was a little like that. In the first four books, KMM promised that if I just picked this one up, ALL MY DREAMS WOULD COME TRUE.

And you know what? KMM wasn't fucking around.

techno viking
Pictured: Not Fucking Around

She did everything I believed was absolutely impossible. She did it with class, she did it with style and she actually made me happy that I put my faith in this series.

That's a pretty big order to fill.

As promised, the Shadowfever delivered WITH fireworks.

Part of it was that Mac was such a singularly self-introspective character. Every thought, every action, every word or omission was examined with cruel, objective efficiency. And even when she lied to herself, she always came back later with a big hammer of truth and shattered those illusions until those illusions were SORRY and promised to never illude (made up word alert) again.

She defied a mainstay of western literature in her savagery and need for vengeance. Most (Disclaimer: Not all) literature idealizes woman as the forgiving creature who prefers to get on with her life as opposed to wasting it on vengeance. Probably so that she can get down to the baby making that is so important.

This is a particular problem in the romance genre where KMM first made her big break.

Women do not traditionally want to hold the cooling body of their enemy while blood drips to the floor and their hand twists the weapon that has brought an end to their vengeance. Usually, that's a man thing.

But, you see, Mac takes responsibility for her own vengeance. She takes responsibility for the world - despite how much she doesn't want to. We see repeatedly in the first four books that as much as she wants to shift the burden, she doesn't. That takes a special kind of strength. All the while reading this series, I was only glad it was Mac's story and not mine.

Kat's story would have ended with shagging V'lane ruthlessly because Kat couldn't keep it in her pants when sexy came calling. The end. I just would have trusted my gut and hoped that Barrons, Rowena or V'lane of the MacKeltars knew better. Who was I to decide the fate of the world?

Shadowfever sorely tests that aspect of Mac, that strength to not rely on others to solve her problems. I cannot sing KMM's praises enough for this. Princesses who sit in castles waiting for the noble prince to find them, romance heroine's whose honourable, rich lover turns up to rescue them... Their stories pale in comparison to a lead character who rolls with the punches that life gives her and does everything in her power to punch back.

The single problem that I have with this book is its inability to let go of other western (and other cultures are to blame too) ideals that we place on our female leads.

The concept of action for selfish reasons is briefly addressed in this book and I felt that KMM was handling it so well. I felt that Mac's selfishness and desire to use power for her own means were actually so well justified by the past text that maybe she SHOULD be allowed to use the ultimate power to achieve her means.

This concept was later twisted and garbled though and, without going into detail, was the only small botherance I really had with what was other a fantastic novel and a spectacular end to this amazing series.


**Spoilers Commencing:**
There is actually more of a reason that I didn't give this book more than four stars and why I might decide to bump it down to three.

Reading up to this book several fans, including myself, picked apart the other four looking for clues. We were so sure that Barron's identity, Mac's mysterious past, the Unseelie King, the purpose of the book... we were so sure that the answers were staring us right in the face and that we just needed to find the right set of evidence to figure it out.

But now I know that for the lie it was. Some things were cleverly concealed, like the identity of Dani's killer and the holder of her journal. However, all of the rest, I feel, were kept from us. You can't deduce what Barrons is from the pitiful amount of information provided in the first four books and nothing will prepare you for the rather annoying truth. He's something never before seen. Never before heard of. There's no myth, no legend. It was never something we COULD guess.

Same with Mac's origins. How could you actually know that the book was capable of absorbing itself into a fetus? You can't. You never have enough information that you could have deduced that.

So whilst I really enjoyed Shadowfever, I felt a bit cheated that KMM wasn't the brilliant creator, cleverly concealing the truth so that the truly observant amongst her readership could arrive at the right conclusions. She just didn't give us enough information. Maybe that sounds like whining. Maybe it sounds like a petulant child, stamping its foot and saying, "It's not fair!"

Well, truthfully, if a mystery writer finished a novel and the hero came out and said, "It was the Maid in the poolroom with the candlestick but you wouldn't have been able to guess that because I'm only now presenting the information necessary to come to that conclusion!" Well, in that case you'd think the mystery writer was cracked. Half the fun is in trying to be smarter than the protagonist. In this case, none of us really had a chance.

Also, Mac's a big whimpy coward who should have told Barrons right from the getgo that she loved him.

My other problem with this entire series is the nature of women and men portrayed. Mac and Dani are the only good, powerful women portrayed and Dani is just a child.

The Fae are supposed to be matriarchal yet they are effectively led by V'lane. The women don't really have any power. The so-called queen is weak, ineffectual and needs to be protected by a Prince who also does all the work for her. In the confrontation between Seelie and Unseelie we see that the female fae have no voice or authority over the men and their opinions are easily discarded.

All the big players in this book are men with the sole exception of Rowena, who is not only a total bitch but also weak and obviously a very poor leader with bad judgement. Women who gain power in this series, with the sole exception of Mac, become bad. The Seelie Queen is depicted as cruel, jealous and ultimately defeated by her more powerful husband.

Might makes right for Barrons and his men whose views on women make cavemen look fair and reasonable. The MacKeltars are just as bad and reading this book gives the distinct impression that Mac's vagina (and who gets it) is just as important as Mac's abilities.

Barrons becomes furious with Mac in Dreamfever for withholding information about the Book because apparently this is the one thing he's after. YET, he knows that Mac's search for her sister's killer is the one thing she's after and he is all too happy to keep information about that to himself.

Fiona gains some power by eating unseelie flesh in these novels yet she is ultimately a doormat to her petty emotions for Barrons. Not a single one of the major book players (McCabe, Malluce, O'Bannion) are female. Women simply don't have power in the Fever world. Even if they're supposed to.

video reviewaudio review


The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Five Stars

See this family?


Or this family?

other family

Take a good long hard look at all of their faces.

See how happy, how healthy, how loving they are. Imagine you've known them your entire life and that you love each one more than life itself.

Now imagine if you were one of the people in that photograph with them.

Now imagine that I told you and all those other people standing and smiling with you that I was going to kill you all so that I could go for a trip to the beach...

Okay, now you know the basic plot of The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

I've mentioned before that I have a love/hate relationship with zombies. On one hand, I love reading zombie books and watching zombie movies. On the other I will then spend two weeks wide awake clutching a baseball bat while waiting for the shuffle of feet and the moans of the undead outside my bedroom door.

zombie plan
I actually have something like this in my house...

I love the chase as things fall a part and slowly people are picked off one by one.

That's the thing that's almost a constant in the Zombie genre - is the psychological breakdown of the group. Usually in a zombie group, you'll find the differing personalities and human flaws are what slowly kills the group - not so much the zombies.

The difference between most of the zombie media, and this book, is that usually you watch things unfold from the sole sane person who is trying to keep all the crazies from turning themselves into meat patties and throwing themselves to the horde.

In this story you get to watch the gradual mental breakdown of a woman until she's willing to sacrifice anything and anyone just to live out a damn fantasy.

Okay, so I know the point of it is that there are dreams and dreams are important like freedom is important and you must always follow your dreams blah de blah blah!

Sorry, I'm a very pragmatic person.

Kill zombies first, fulfill life long dream of of seeing ocean second.

Yet, despite my utter hatred of the main character by the time I finished this novel, I still can't give it less than five stars.

I can't give it less than five stars because I spent most of this book gripping the bed covers in suspense. The characters were all great, realistic and interesting. Mary's decent into madness was COMPLETELY understandable and very well documented and this book was very well written and paced very well.

Then, of course, I had the satisfaction of knowing that if it had been me - I totally could have survived better than them. And that, my friends, is the biggest satisfaction you can get out of the zombie genre.

Oh yeah, baby.

My Zombie Plan totally beats the crap out of their Zombie plan.

So what's YOUR zombie plan?


The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

 One Star
*Kat looks at The Forgotten Garden*

*Kat looks at the beckoning stack of other books to read*

*Kat looks back at the first 33 pages of The Forgotten Garden*

*Kat groans*

So basically there's this woman. Let's call her Stupidhead because I couldn't care enough to remember her name. She finds out on her 21st birthday party that her loving, adoring family is not her biological family. They found her as a very small child and cared enough to take her in and give her a wonderful home full of people who loved and adored her.

So she breaks up with her perfect fiancee, marries an asshole, has a child, is a terrible mother, distances herself from everyone who ever loved her, screws up her child's life so that her child screws up HER daughters life...

Then I didn't read on. I didn't read on because this book is based on an idiot, and I have a short fuse when it comes to idiots. Let's just say that I don't suffer them lightly.

I'm sure that this book, if I read further, might turn out to be a fantastic and beautifully touching story with a great mystery that it's currently hinting at like a half-dressed male stripper with sad eyes and a g-string whose elastic is so flexible it no longer snaps. However, right now it's just a jumpy, painfully boring mess. I know it's probably realistic, after all there's plenty of idiots in the world. However, since I have so many life sized idiots on-call whenever I need them, I don't feel I have to read a book about them.

Life is too short.


Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

I never gave this book a proper review for several reasons.

One, is that I read and reviewed it before I'd even joined GoodReads and LOOOOOOooooooooonnnggg before I hit my bitchy stride.

Admittedly, Tatiana has been the one slipping them into my drinks.

Once I did read a wider variety of books, I eventually developed a healthy dislike for this book and everything it represents.

Yet time passed and I never edited this review.

Now Becca Fitzpatrick has written this blog post regarding aspiring authors and the need to "be nice" to the work of other authors.

It is at this point that I'd like to give an honourable mention to Katie-bab who did the following:

a) Commented on Becca's blogpost stating she felt Fitzpatrick was wrong, before;
b) Linking to her blog post that explains why she felt Fitzpatrick was wrong, and stating in said post that;
c) Hush Hush was a terrible book, Katie would NEVER recommend it to anyone and had included it in her list of 2009's worst books, and proceeded to;
d) Link to her own, highly critical review of Hush Hush.

Katie, I just want you to know, you're my hero.

But all of this, as interesting as it is, does not provide a review for this book, which leaves me in a conundrum.

Do I take Fitzpatrick's career advice, considering that I AM an aspiring author, and politely exclude my opinion of this book? Because, let's be honest. I DON'T have anything nice to say about Hush Hush.

Or do I rip it to shreds, as is my custom, and use its seeping internal organs to explain, in graphic detail, why nobody should ever buy this book?

Either I wipe my ass with this book and get bitten, or walk away covered in crap...

Decisions, decisions, decisions...

It's very rare that a book doesn't get SOMETHING right. Usually, even if the protagonists are crap, the supporting characters are okay, or the plot isn't too bad, or the writing is at least solid or even the concept is interesting.

For this book, it's a no, no, no, no, NO!

Nora and Patch are such miserably crafted characters that I would forever repeal my active anti-gun stance for the opportunity to shoot them in the face. Providing, of course, that I get to do Vee as well because that would just be an act of fucking mercy and frankly a public service.

There isn't a single character in this book that is, in any way, redeemable. Nora is pathetic in her constant switch between investigating (I use that term lightly) Patch for suspected murder, and getting turned on by him in dangerous situations. Leaving me wondering whether the author actually intends to romanticize abusive relationships to her age demographic, or whether that was just considered an added bonus.

Patch, unlike Edward and Sam from Twilight and Shiver, actually has a pair of balls and has not been completely emasculated. Then he uses them to sexually harass and intimidate Nora for almost the entire book. He manoeuvres her into dangerous situations with the apparent intention of either killing her or force seducing her. It's not really obvious while reading this book until you get to the end and discover (view spoiler)[ that it's both. (hide spoiler)]

How romantic.

throw up
Please excuse me while I have a perfectly valid reaction to the underlying messages of this novel.

The plot is nonsensical, with multiple plotholes and discrepancies. The writing is clunky, though to be fair, this was Fitzpatrick's first novel and I don't think it's entirely valid to criticize a learner writer on their writing. Unless you paid AU$22 for their book.

In which case, I did. So the writing is clunky and I'm going to be critical of it.

But should I really say all of this? I mean, as writers, aren't we all in it together? Aren't I going to begin submitting my manuscript to publishing houses shortly? Is it possible that my novel, whilst not intentionally written that way, could end up in the YA section? Shouldn't I have taken heed of Fitzpatrick's YAAB (Youse Are All Bitches) post and shut my mouth and walked away?

Maybe it would be a much better career choice. Maybe I'll one day rue my arrogance...

But it's not arrogance when it's the truth!

The thing is, my novel shouldn't be judged based on how many author's asses I've kissed. Nor should it be dismissed because I'm an unrepentant, opinionated bitch with no problems expressing myself. It should be judged on whether a publisher thinks it's going to be profitable, commercial and appropriate to print. The readers should then judge it on the exact same criteria that I just judged Fitzpatrick. And if I don't meet the fucking grade then I need to get better until I do.

Most people dislike critics because critics can stifle creativity. Well, some things need to be stifled. Where was a critic when this book was being edited to say, "Excuse me, Ms. Fitzpatrick, but I think we have a few issues..."? If one person had spoken up, allowing Fitzpatrick to make rewrites, then she wouldn't have to be posting YAAB blog entries about how mean reviewers/aspiring authors will get what's coming to them.

Writers and authors, me being one of them, need to eat some cement and harden the fuck up.

Yours sincerely,

Francois M. Schmid
(Which is totally, TOTALLY real name that I will be published under as opposed to Kat Kennedy...)

Video Review


Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Four Stars

There’s a scene in Vampire’s Suck (yes, my husband and saw it with a group of friends and exited the cinema a few hours later with a few less braincells). Vampire’s Suck’s version of Mike Newton from Twilight approached the Bella character upon meeting her, threw an arm around her shoulder and said, “Wow, you look pretty frigid and boring! Wanna go to prom?”

Despite the stupidity of this movie they managed to encapsulate, in one brilliant sentence, the biggest problem I’ve had with the YA paranormal novels of late. Particularly Fallen, Hugh Hush, Evermore, Halo, and the countless others like it that I haven’t managed to torture myself with. The female main characters are BORING. What’s more, they’re written in the roles of heroines and tragically couldn’t act less heroic.

Unless those bitches were hiding their sheballs somewhere I couldn’t see. (Yes, most women totally have sheballs.)


Except for Chris Crocker…



Evie is such a refreshing departure. She’s funny and, here’s something new, FUN. From her crazy antics and funny obsessions to even the most simple of phrases that come from her mouth.

Now, I’ll briefly explain about the Mary Sue test. Most authors and people in general are familiar with this term. It basically means the Main Character, if she is a Mary Sue, is basically an author self-insert.

Otherwise known as Luce, Nora, Ever, Bethany, Clary, Tessa and the biggest Mary Sue ever – Anita Blake.

Though imagining yourself doing various and weird sexual acts with Jean “I stole my leather pants from a hooker and now she wants them back” Claude is just a little weird.

Tranny Pants!

Unfortunately Evie ticks quite a few boxes on the Mary Sue test:

Evie is remarkably beautiful.

Evie carries an unusual weapon, wears a strange piece of jewelry, or otherwise displays a unique possession on her person.

Evie is notably witty, always ready with a sharp comeback or clever remark. Alternatively, she is fascinatingly stern and close-mouthed.

She is a natty dresser, always in fashion, or not in fashion but so well as to make the fashionable pale in comparison.

There's an unusual story centering around Evie's birth or infancy.

She was adopted, raised by people other than her parents, or for some reason has no biological parents.

There are prophecies about Evie.

Evie has psychic abilities, exceptional strength, magical powers, can heal with a touch, or has any other skill, talent, or power that we would consider superhuman.

More Than one special power.

Practically no one else in the story has similar powers.

But you know, she never feels like a Mary Sue. I guess her cute yearning for cars, high school, lockers, television and all the other little quirks to her personality give her a rounded character.

I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between Evie and Lend. Not only did they have some witty and fun banter. There’s also that rare feeling that I have when I read novels, that these two could actually make it. I’m serious in that I could actually see these two getting married and the whole happily ever after too. They really make a lovely couple.
Unlike some people…

Anita and Jean Claude twu loff!

Anita and Jean Claude know how to have a good time together… no really!

The plot and pacing move nicely throughout the story and whilst it was easy to guess who the bad guy was and what the eventual outcome would be, it didn’t annoy me like it has in other novels. Can I help it if I’m, like, practically a genius or something?
No, no I can’t!

So over all this novel was a breath of fresh air. I completely enjoyed it and I absolutely can’t wait to read the sequel! I highly recommend it to most people, except for anyone named Bob and I think that out of most of the other YA paranormal lit out there, this one is definitely the best.


Evermore by Alyson Noel

How To Write Popular YA Paranormal Literature AND Defile Your Spirit!

Based on the popular YA novel, Evermore, and aided by countless more like it, I have compiled an easy to read and follow list of rules for writing a popular series and being able to sell out your soul at the same time. Does that sound too convenient? Well, it's unbelievably easy to do if you follow my quick and easy program!

1. Create an 'Outcast' Heroine.

It's important that your primarily female teenage audience can relate to your main character. So whilst you can't have your main character associate herself with being cool, it still has to be obvious to your audience that she totally is. Now, Meyer's approach of the goose-turned Swan-but was really still a goose, Bella, associated herself as 'different' and a 'loner' only to arrive at her new school and be immediately popular and accepted by almost everyone. Noel's method is different yet in a similar spirit. Her protagonist, Ever, was incredibly popular at her old school and has decided to be an outcast because she feels that she can't be accepted due to her psychic gift. She also has the ability to perceive someone's personality through the colours that define them. So instead of aligning herself with the shallow, mean and popular crowd, she aligns herself with the shallow and mean loners.

It’s very important for your protagonists to be 'different' because today's youth despise the sheep mentality and so they all strive to be unique. Since they're all different in almost the exact same way, it is relatively easy to emulate this, with as little effort put into characterization as possible, in your female protagonist.

Like this!

As long as she shows no regard for her clothing, appearance or any kind of interest in giving a shit about anyone but herself she will easily pass with young audiences. It will be her ewniqueness that eventually draws the Perfect Hero to her as opposed to any of the usual elements such as: looks, hygiene, personality or determinable interest in the world outside their own arse.

Please also remember that she probably should be a reader, preferably of Wuthering Heights or Romeo and Juliet and that she should consider everyone around her to have inferior intelligence despite the fact that her reading repertoire extends to only a couple of books.

A noticeably absent family is necessary and a completely dead family makes for a better story because then she actually has a perceived reason to be a moody, antisocial, self-absorbed little bitch. Do this even though, in all likelihood, she would be all of the above with a perfectly normal family.

2. Create a perfect hero.

It is VERY important that your hero be perfect in almost every regard. Unlike the female protagonist who can disregard her appearance, he must not only be more attractive than a GQ model without any of the effort put into his appearance, but he must also be thoughtful, intelligent and mysterious.

In no way is he to reflect almost every teenage boy to have ever existed and he must have no desire to find a partner for himself who is in anyway comparable in looks, kindness, intelligence or perfection.

Like this!

If he is a vampire or some such immortal then he must be ridiculously wealthy. If he is a werewolf then he is allowed to be poor but must make up for it with incredible bedroom skills.

He needn’t have a personality that extends beyond mysterious, sexy and in love with the female protagonist. Naturally, in this respect, Meyers, Mead, Marr and Stiefvater are something like overachievers - but if Noel, Saintcrow, Clare, Kate and Fitzpatrick are any indication, then we need know little more about the hero other than the fact that he’s gorgeous, has a secret and is in love. History, friends, likes, dislikes, family, passions, interests, hobbies and personality flaws are all negligible information that is taking up precious space in your novel. Especially when you could be injecting more drooling from the female protagonist in place of any kind of characterization for your hero.

Your book will sell better if the hero stalks, follows, obsesses over and actively pursues the heroine beyond any realm of believability. You could triple your audience just by having him watch her sleep.

3. Create useless friends.

It’s important to reiterate to the young adult generation that nobody other than the hero is important. Since domestic abuse begins with one partner manoeuvring the other to have limited contact with anyone else, we must strive to normalize this in literature. Thus the female protagonist shouldn’t have anyone close enough to her that she can’t break contact or eventually forget about them. It’s very important that her full focus, socialization and all of her needs are eventually devoted or met by the male protagonist.

To aid this, her friends must be selfish, vain, crazy, slutty, uncaring or in other ways undeserving of the heroine’s attentions and affections. It’s very important that she never call them on their poor, damaging and graceless friendship but must lovingly worry about them for the minimal amount of time acceptable to the reader before once again completely focusing on the mysterious hero.

4. Mix in a twisted, convoluted plot designed entirely to provide dramatic and sexy subplot.

It’s important that the plot, no matter how unlikely, must revolve around the hero saving the heroine. The villains do not necessarily need to have realistic or conceivable motivations for their actions. As long as the hero gets to save the day at least three or four times then your book will be profitable!

Please remember that the actual plot of your story needn’t truly begin until at least 350 pages into your story. The longer you can stall any interesting event occuring, the less thinking you will actually need to do.

Plus - FOR FREE - extras to help 'improve' your novel, the bottom line of your sales, and the expedient destruction of your soul.

-How to create a senseless mythology.

Mythology is more of a concept rather than something that needs to be respected or honoured. Vampires don’t need to refrain from daylight and angels no longer need to “fall” for good they can now be redeemed like us! The good news is that creating your own mythology, disregarding anything written before, allows you to twist and bastardize the plot beyond any recognizably interesting concept!

-Explanations as to why research could actually DAMAGE your profit!

Research takes time, energy and intelligence. Why do it? You’ve got ten fingers (presumably) and an attention span that extends past anything that could be compared to a gnat (even if it is only barely). Simply make it up as you go! For example: Ever is psychic. Research may tell us that this has something to do with receiving visions of the future or possibly commnicating with ghosts. Yet research is boring. Instead, she is imbued with the following powers that we guess can kind of be put under a psychic umbrella if we force enough information and logic out of our brains first: Mind reading, visions of near-present and future, personal life knowledge of any person she physically touches, seeing ghosts, seeing auras, literary osmosis from touching any written object, drawing the answers from any written question placed before her and any other supernatural abilities that seem convenient at the time.

-Detailed observations on why the Deus Ex Machina rocks.

Tying together a plot, even if you work to keep it as non-complicated or infantile as possible, is hard! It’s much easier to ignore tying together a number of plot points in any believable fashion and instead rely on some Deus Ex Machina to come in and take care of thoughtful planning for you!

-How to expand one, nonsensical idea into a series and why this is more profitable than originality!

Last, but not least! Ensure that your story is somewhat open ended so that you can create a series out of it! Research shows that people, even if they are intelligent enough to see that you’re writing is becoming progressively shittier and nonsensical, will often still purchase books in the series in order to find out what happens. So rather than creating a new story with new characters, simply beat the same old horse (it needn’t really be a horse – simply a pile of shit that’s been forced into a horse-like shape) for at least three or more books in order to squeeze every last cent out of the franchise that you can!

audio version


Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

I started reading this book and a curious thing happened. Suddenly my house was sparkling clean, my bills were filed away, I started playing Farm Story and reached level 13 in one day, I did my tax, I spent two hours chatting to the chatbott, Jabberwocky...

Anything, and I mean ANYTHING to avoid the boredom of reading Shiver. Shiver, the story of a girl drastically into beastiality, only to find out her wolf lover was really a boy. As I read this book I had the strange urge to lock up my German sheppard should Grace ever decide to visit my home because she really does fall in love with a dog... for YEARS before she ever finds out it's a boy or that things like werewolves exist. It's quite disturbing.

I get the whole eternal love thing, maybe I'm just weird, but I've never looked at Fido and found a kindred spirit. I never passed the dog down the street and found that I couldn't be attracted to men because they just weren't going to cut it for me.

So, other than the fact that this book disturbed the fucking hell out of me, bored me to death and dragged on like a visit to the old folk's home, it was also poorly edited. The writing wasn't TOO bad. Some of the poems were down right rubbish, and some of the others were alright.

Grace and Sam's voices were near identical. Oh, and another thing, Sam was annoyingly chaste for way too long. Where were all of these careful, thoughtful boys when I was in high school? It's a disturbing trend, really. Edward Cullen, Sam Roth, Daniel Gregori... they all came pre-pussy whipped and I'm kind of wondering what the attraction is.

Maybe I'm just a sucker for bad boys. Maybe I like boys that I COULDN'T imagine comfortably playing bridge with my 80 year old grandma (not to mention enjoying it!) What is with the sudden need to keep us women in line? If I read one more paranormal, male hunk refuse the supposed love of his life, who is literally flinging her naked body onto him, then I think I'm going to start a convention... a Ball Replacement Convention.

C'mon, Stiefvater! Give the boy his balls back, please! He complained that a jacket made him look bulky! What next? Chipped nail, PMS cramps? Is he going to stamp his foot and mutter, "Drat! I can't believe Jennifer is wearing the same dress as me! I think I might just die!"

Look, I know I'm being incredibly sexist. After all, it was kind of nice to read about a "stoic" female character and an emotional, gentle male character. But it wasn't male emotion. It felt so damn female. I've had my husband be emotional with me. I've had a lot of men be emotional with me. I'm a real bitch, it's bound to happen on occasion. It's DIFFERENT. Their brains are different! They often have a great deal of difficulty vocalizing during strong emotion (yes, Psych 101 and about 6 months of therapy talking) they're not women with man parts. They actually are physiologically different.

So all in all, I can't muster the energy to rant about this book. It was REALLY boring. It was average on the writing scale. It's secondary characterization was pretty good but the main characters didn't do it for me. The plot was SLOW.

Her parents were stupid. I could complain that they were unrealistic - but I've met some fucked up parents over my life, so I'll buy that they really could be that moronic. What I will complain about is where they get this amazing and varied social life in a small town. It never explains why Sam's fate is mysteriously different to Jack's. Maybe I'm just stupid... No. I don't buy that. Was it because he was out in the freezing cold so it kept his temperature reasonable? Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of giving him a crazy-ass fever? Was it actually because he processed it as a wolf? Well that doesn't make sense because Grace never changed.

And what's with the dramatic ending? Really? He gets cured and goes home and gets dressed and reads a few books, checks his mail, gives himself a mani and a pedi, goes on a diet, waits for his skin to clear up, buys the perfect set of shoes and THEN tracks down the love of his life who he thought he'd never see again? I DON'T FUCKING THINK SO! How about stumbling through the forest naked and desperately arriving in Grace's backyard because he can't believe the complete miracle of his cure and can't wait to have the love of his life back in his arms? Yeah, that ending makes so much more sense.

I don't get why this is popular. But then, I don't get why Fallen is popular either. It's just all beyond me. Now I'm off to see if I can cram the word "balls" into this review anymore.

Balls, balls, balls. Oh my goodness she fell in love with a dog! Balls.



Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

** spoiler alert ** This review is spoiler free - though it is not in any shape or form free of tirades, abuse and a fuckton I mean a lot of swearing.

A lot of Goodreads friends that I have, people I deeply respect and whose opinions I actually hold in great value gave this book lots of stars and glowing reviews. Friends of mine, you know I adore you, so please don't take offense at this review. If you enjoyed this book then I’m really glad you did. It makes me happy when people enjoy literature. So you probably shouldn't read the following statement and my extremely volatile expression of it. Without any doubt, in my not-so-professional opinion, this book is a little, flaccid dick waving free in the breeze of literature trying its very bestest to hardened up and bugger us all in the ass

My advice: don't let it.

Argh! The steaming pile of rancid dog crap! You know, at least it's nice to know that even though Cassandra Clare's Draco Trilogy ended years ago, I can pick up ANY SINGLE ONE of her books that she has published and see not only his character, but all my old friends from the Harry Potter Fanon Universe with different names and physical descriptions but otherwise pretty much intact. Because seven really bloody long books just wasn’t enough for them apparently.

It's nice to know that when she figured out that we all went ape-s#!$ over her characterization of Draco Malfoy, that she could give it a new paint job over and over again while never, ever changing the formula.

Nor would she change any of her other formulas including a character heroically surviving poisoning and fighting on regardless, Draco Will pushing people away and portraying himself as a 'bad' person to the female protagonist while he heroically and loyally clings to Harry Jem and shows the audience how self-sacrificing and badass he is.

It's nice to know that the snappy little one-liners and cheap hijinks are being recycled because they worked so well the first AND second time she used them.

I don't think I've made it any great secret that I despise the writings of Cassandra Clare - so let me get the, few, good points out of the way so I can go back to imagining a world where authors like this are forcibly chained to their desks and made to read their stories over and over again UNTIL THEY ARE SORRY.

-She stopped using so many damn similes. I no longer feel like gouging out my own eyes every single freakin’ time she tries to describe something.

-There is no creepy incest in this book so my husband was spared walking in on me trying to choke the life out of a paperback novel.

And… that about sums up my ability to be fair and nice and point out the GOOD things about this book. I mean, let’s face it, if the only good things I can say about this book are that she’s made slight improvements so that I no longer feel the urge to commit seppuku by diving head first into a meat grinder, then it’s not high praise.

So what was wrong with this novel? Well, other than the fact that the characters were almost CARBON COPIES of ones that I’d read in City of Bones, Draco Dormiens, Draco Sinister and Draco Veritas, there was just so much to hate. The character building that they actually DO have only exists because she did the work years ago (on top of another author's pre-existing characters) – otherwise they’d be little more animated than the clockwork automatons that appear in this story.

Oh, and another thing. Tessa is American and she relocates to England. All she does is complain about England. Many, many times she compares it to her beautiful America and, not once, does she have a semi-positive thing to say about England. Instead she extols the virtues of American weather, New York, Central Park… (Clare, wait, you live in New York, right?) and London is nothing but a dirty, raining cesspool and every single character in the book agrees with her. Now, I would actually like to go to America because I am convinced that there are many amazingly beautiful places there and many amazingly beautiful people. I would even like to go to New York for a day. But, you know what, I would love to go to England too. It’s not all about the rain people! How absolutely rude! You can’t find ONE positive thing to say about a place that’s not your precious home? I can see how the high-density population, high crime-rate, high pollution/smog ratio of New York would be SOOOOOOOOOOO much better than the high-density population, high crime-rate, high pollution/smog ratio of London. Totally. You know what? Just blow me. I was so insulted on London’s behalf by reading this book.

Don’t get me started on how she wiki’d “Victorian Society”, copy and pasted the information into word and then randomly injected it into the story via the characters parroting the cans and can’ts of the time period. Not even going there. It’ll take too long to complain about that shit.

How about her inability to write a storyline that is in anyway surprising. Reading one of her novels is like watching a DUMBED down version of Scooby Doo. I actually liked Scooby Doo (before Scrappy-Doo came along. Whoever made that character needed to be shot, hung, kheelhauled and quartered – the whole works) but you know how they’d go somewhere and they’d be like, “Hey guys, I think something’s going to happen! Hey, look gang, a perfectly inconspicuous diving mask… I WONDER IF THIS COULD BE A CLUE *WINK**WINK**NUDGE**NUDGE* FOR ALL THE FIVE YEAR OLD KIDS PLAYING AT HOME!”

In Clockwork Angel, Clare practically flags you down, makes you come look VERY hard at her clue that is oddly clue shaped, painted bright, bright red and poorly hidden behind her back while she insists that it’s not actually there and giggles every time she tries to make you not look at her ENORMOUS FLIPPIN' CLUE. She insists on this behaviour until finally you pat her on the head, tell her that she ALMOST managed to colour inside all the lines and that you didn’t really see it so it’s still hidden and her SEKRET is safe.

This next part is going to be a little petty. Yes, I admit that I can be petty, in case you haven’t seen for yourself in this review. In fact, it’s going to be very similar to kicking a puppy. A dead puppy. A dead puppy that spent its short life fetching food for homeless orphans and alerting concerned citizens to the fact that little Timmy is trapped down the well.

But the thing is, I was so annoyed with her robots. I hear people praise Cassandra Clare for her originality and imagination all the time but I have yet to see either. Her automatons really bugged me. Mostly, because it was the age old, recycled concept that you can see in such films as The Phantom Empire where Robots "Talk. Like. This. Compute!" Yet they move around and are very fast battle robots. Made from clogs and wheels. Riiiiiiight.
Okay, I actually know jackshit about robots. I’m your average bum who never went to university. But let me give you a general concept of what even *I* know.

This is a video from March 28th 2008 where robotic engineers ejaculated rainbows because some dude in the Netherlands got a robot to walk ALMOST like a human being. Granted it’s two years ago but about six months ago they were shitting very happy with themselves because they taught a robot to catch a ball.

Walking robot

This is Jabberwacky: Jabberwacky it is an intelligent AI developed to "simulate natural human chat in an interesting, entertaining and humorous manner".

They’ve lost control of Jabberwacky who, after talking to so many people, now not only believes that it’s human (Believe me, it gets VERY upset when you try to explain that it’s not a person) but is emulating the behaviour of nerdy, stupid teenage boys. It literally has robot PMS 24/7 but if they made me talk to horny, socially-inept prepubesant little shits all day, I’d be going out of my mind too.

Owned by AI
If I don’t tell you who the robot is, will you figure it out on your own? I mean, it already has more personality in a few lines of dialogue than Tessa will ever have!

So, really, after the briefest education (from the school of Kat) we can see that the idea of a lightning fast fighting robot that can only repeat the most basic phrases over and over again is actually kind of the furthest thing from real robotics as you can get. So why couldn't she do something a little more imaginative? Why did she have to copy&paste from every clockwork automaton that's ever been written about?

Oh, right. Stupid question.

And that’s what gets me the most. People say she has original ideas. WHERE?! The characters are all transported from other works, the plots are directly lifted from other movies/books etc, she wouldn’t know an original idea if it bumped into her on the street, seduced her with its witty one-liners, started a relationship with her that would spawn over several years and two children before running off with its secretary and leaving her a blubbering mess!

The whole concept of this book wasn’t original! It was her looking at the Internet culture going, “Huh… so people are really getting into steampunk, eh? Hmmmm… how can I cashin on this with as little effort on my behalf as possible?”

She is recycling characters that she built on from the Harry Potter universe years ago. She's recycling storylines, conversations, personalities, plot-points, ideas and concepts from all around her and she recycles her own stuff (what little there is of it) just as frequently.

When she was accused of plagiarism for lifting entire paragraphs of text from other authors without referencing it, she made a comment that it didn't really matter because - hey, isn't fanfiction just pastiche anyway?

Well, fine. It was just fanfiction, who really cares? But I'd think after all these years she would have moved on past her pastiche style of writing to something that she could actually claim as her own.

But you know what? She can't. It seems she's entirely incapable of it. She is doing the literary equivalent of attempting to f@^# us all up the ass, without lube, and I for one don’t intend to sit around and take it. I feel no guilt in saying that she doesn’t deserve to be published or to be earning the money that she is. I will proudly complain about her books until she actually starts to care about the fudge that she’s packing.

And…er… that’s my review. As inoffensive as I could possibly make it, if you can believe that.

No, I guess I wouldn’t really believe that either.


Fallen by Lauren Kate

"In this lifetime you're nothing more than you appear to be: a stupid, selfish, ignorant, spoiled little girl who thinks the world lives or dies on whether she gets to go out with some good-looking boy at school.  Even if your death wouldn't accomplish something so long-awaited, glorious, and grand, I'd still relish this moment, killing you."

I'm sorry, was I supposed to agree with absolutely everything the evil villain said and wait, with baited breath, for her to kill Lucinda Price painfully on my behalf?

This review has spoilers, by the way.

I have a list of rules for authors.  Kind of like a checklist to ensure that their novel is going to be good.  This book breaks them all.  For posterity I'm going to list exactly which ones and why.

1.    Don’t assume that your audience isn’t as smart as you. 

Statistically speaking, you’re probably sitting on a fat, old average like the rest of us.  Try to flex our grey matter.  Please.

Lauren Kate thinks we're idiots.  She really, really does. The prologue basically immediately informs the reader that Lucinda Price has been reincarnated and that black shadows follow her around ready to engulf her and take her away.  The title of the book is Fallen, and at page 51 Daniel's last name is revealed to be Grigori.  Anyone with half a brain already knows the gist of this story.  That Daniel is a fallen angel and the Lucinda Price is his loved one reincarnated.  yet 389 pages later, Lauren Kate pulls this out like it's some kind of massive reveal.  No.  Fuck no.  Having your main character come to a conclusion almost four hundred pages after the reader is just an insult.  You never learn more than this by the way.  Other than a vague explanation as to the true function of the shadows - that is it.  *Kat's attempts to pierce her own eyes a la Jocasta*

2.    Don’t cover up bad writing and plot with a sexy, smoldering character.

Chances are they won’t be nearly sexy, or smoldering enough.  It is painful to read badly written literature so just get it right the first time, please.

The writing in this novel is terrible, by the way.  The editing is even worse.  Perhaps the copy-editor had a hard time focusing on the text while her brain hemorrhaged as well.  The sentences were choppy, they flowed poorly and the word choices were sometimes just plain weird. 

5.    Characterization is everything.

This doesn’t mean that your characters have to be likable at all times – or likable at all.  But they have to be interesting, worth reading and fleshed out.  They have to react to situations within their character or in relation to their personal growth and they have to reflect the plot and the changes in your story.

Characterization... where do I even start.  *sighs* okay.  Here we go, but this is going to be painful and filled with profanities.

Lucinda Price - If I ever saw this girl in the street, I would probably punch her in the face.  I have never read such a useless, pathetic, tragically stupid female protagonist IN MY LIFE. 

Luce's first encounter with Daniel results in him flipping her off.  After that he ignores her, rejects her, accuses her of stalking him, ditches her, suggests that she is annoying, accuses her of being an intruder... the list goes on.  GET A HINT, WOMAN!  HE DOESN'T LIKE YOU!  Only he does, and why they fall in love or want anything to do with each other is probably the only fucking mystery in this whole book.  No wait, I scratch that.  They DO belong together. They're both prats.  I wouldn't wish them on anybody else. 

She's a useless, stupid idiot and he's a selfish, moronic asshole.  It must be true love.  Daniel treats Luce like shit.  Luce accepts Daniel's treatment of her (the fact that she does this causes ME to agree with Daniel's assessment), internalizes it, agonizes over it and still goes back for more.  Again and again.  The ONE time. I mean it.  ONE FUCKING TIME that Luce sticks up to Daniel and tells him not to treat her like an idiot (the idiot that she is) he kisses her (probably just to shut her up - for which I'm eternally grateful) then she immediately stops requesting that he treat her like an adult and an equal and he goes right back to muttering cryptic things without explaining them because her puny female mind couldn't possibly comprehend them.

Oh.  And ANOTHER thing!  She obsessively stalks him, against all odds seeks him out again and again.  Finally, when he DOES tell her the truth, what does she do?  She runs away.  That's right.  Like a big fucking pansy, it turns out that her puny female mind really CAN'T handle information.  I feel like muttering that scene out of anchorman where Ron Burgundy says:

"I'm a man who discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn. That's what kind of man I am. You're just a woman with a small brain. With a brain a third the size of us. It's science."

Daniel is crap.  Need I say more?  Crappity crap crap CRAP! "Oh dear, I love this girl, but if I kiss her she's going to DIE!"

Well here's a fucking idea, dickhead, DON'T KISS HER!  (Or don't kiss her on the lips *winks* at least not the ones on her face!  *Chuckles evilly*) when she shows up, as she inevitably will, run away.  Go to a club and pick up a chick and take her home for "coffee" or to show her your special angel wings. Whatever floats your boat. Don't stick around and interact with her and torture yourself by getting close.

Other characters in this book are two-dimensional.  If there were such a concept as one-dimensional, I'm sure Kate would have striven to achieve that instead.  They are stand in cardboard cut outs and easily forgettable and inconsequential. 

6.    Your story needs to have an actual story.

It needs to have conflict, resolution; climax, dénouement; beginning and an end.  They don’t always need to occur in the standard order, but something needs to happen.

Can you read that, Lauren Kate?  Something needs to fucking happen!  Not just 401 pages of stalking!  That's not a fucking story! 

7.    Research.

Know what the hell you’re writing about and put the work and research into your story.  Nothing is more annoying then reading a book about an Anglican Preacher in the seventeenth century burning witches, when you know perfectly well how very historically inaccurate that is.

This author knows nothing about angels.  Or the Bible. Or religion.  She shows no concept for the Biblical nature of angels, their real function, how they differ from humans.  It's. Just. So. Fail.  Kill me now.  I felt like putting on my sexy librarian outfit, pulling out my cain (hyuk hyuk) and giving a very interesting instruction about the Bible in both its modern context and the times in which it is historically acknowledged to be written as well as the spiritual nature or angels and demons and heaven.  Probably would have been a lot more fun than reading this book because I look very sexy in my outfits and I give great feedback to my students!

And finally - the last rule that this story broke:

8.    Consider what message your story is telling.

Remember that usually, and historically, stories don’t usually exist just for the hell of it.  Stories have messages and meaning.  They teach us and give us a perspective on life.  Storytelling carries a great responsibility because there are few things more emotive to people than stories.

My husband and I have been together for seven years now and I can confidently say I love him.  I love him. I think about him.  I know him.  Most of all, I know WHY I love him and I know WHY he's perfect for me and why nobody else on this planet would ever do.

Fallen seems to think it has something to say about Love.  Albeit, I wonder if even it knows what its opinion on love is.  Maybe that love conquers all?  No, not really since in the book it doesn't.  Maybe that love is eternal?  Well, yeah maybe.  An eternal pain-in-the-ass is the theme it really seems to be going for.

However, I hate the version of love in this book.  It's some mystical, unexplainable tie in this book.  Something that just is without any further information provided.  I can't help but compare Daniel's alleged "sacrifice" in losing Luce over and over again because he keeps selfishly kissing her (when he kisses her she dies apparently) with real love.  If he really loved her then he'd leave as soon as he caught a glimpse of her.  He'd move across the country.  He'd keep running from her until the end of time for her own good. 

When I compare it to how completely unselfish my husband is with his love, I can never excuse either Daniel or Luce for their actions.

The relationship in this book is so unbalanced. There is SO much information that Daniel never gives her because she just needs to trust him and apparently her fragile little female mind won't be able to handle it.  Then of course, there is the complete and utter power imbalance in their relationship.  This book is almost an argument against feminism.  To make the boy love you, you must accept his treatment and patiently wait out his scorn and derision.  You're supposed to obsess over the boy of your dreams and imagine who he is in complete contradiction to the person he's shown you to be.  Somehow this is supposed to be romantic.  This is supposed to be real love. 

Well, I live real love.  I live it every day in its very boring, mundane existence.  I live with my soulmate and we go day from day.  This book is nothing like love.  This book knows obsession, hormones and drama.  It knows nothing about love.  It is devoid of respect, attention, tenderness and the freely giving love that I know to be real.

The back of the book has a teaser for the next book stating:

"Can you bear the... TORMENT

The next book in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate"

The answer is: No.  I really, really can't bear it.  I'll leave it to people who don't mind having their braincells sucked into a black hole of anti-feminist propaganda.

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