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CuddleBuggery: January 2012

This page has moved to a new address.


CuddleBuggery: January 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Authors: Please write like this

The recent GoodReads drama has brought on a whole slew of discussion about the state of the YA community and the bloggers and the authors.  The debate over how reviewers should review books is not new but has been given a fresh make over and pushed onto the stage like a reluctant débutante, shaking in her six inch heels.

It was mostly revitalized by Stiefvater and has been picked up and debated over by others and other others.

Of course, the commentators come out to ask why we can't all review nicely and why we use snark and why can't we all just get along?  Albeit with slightly less personality and absolutely no originality or differences in how we express ourselves.

I'm going to pretend for a moment that the arguments are sane and reasonable.  Logically, if authors and other bloggers can legitimately make requests for the style and function of our reviews - then I think we should be able to do the same.

nd so here is my personal take on what an author is, and can do with their novels:

The only legitimate way to write your novels is in the style of a love child between Melina Marchetta and Neal Shusterman.  That's drunk.  Also, with a gambling problem and it's writing only to make money so that the mob won't kill them and their entire family.  Imagine exactly what that child would be like, and write the novels that this child would write.  Except you can't use vowels.  Not even the letter "y" if it's functioning as a vowel.  Maybe not even commas either.  Commas are completely unprofessional.  I think their curly little tail is taunting me aggressively.

The only exception to the aforementioned and completely valid writing style above is if you're writing in the style of Laini Taylor or Markus Zusak.  Those are also valid writing styles that you can adopt.  I will also allow you to deviate from the Laini Taylor style but only if you're writing in the style of Laini Taylor if she were born in Elizabethan times and hanging out with Shakespeare (but not friends.  If they're friends then you've gone too far).

And theoretically, if reviews by definition must lack opinion and emotion then they should probably reflect the product that they are commentating on.  Therefor none of you should ever write with emotions and none of your characters should have a personal opinion about anything.  The storylines and themes should absolutely not resonate on a personal level with your audience.  This will help us reviewers a lot since then we won't need to include an emotional response to your book in our review.

I also think your novel is not a valid novel and is only a very long expressive post if any of your characters use the word "irrevocably" or deviate from the above standards at all.

This is a completely valid, well-thought out opinion and I hope that all authors will respect it.  I will now only be reading your work if you do all of the above to standards that I deem acceptable.  It is then perfectly understandable and reasonable that, should you fail to perform to the above expectations, that I will no longer consider you authors but instead refer to you as expressive post writers. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review: Raw Blue by Kristy Eagar

Raw BlueRaw Blue by Kirsty Eagar

Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly café. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing … and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago at schoolies week.

And then Carly meets Ryan, a local at the break, fresh out of jail. When Ryan learns the truth, Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy? 

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you've been around Goodreads for a while, you may have noticed that there's this particular reviewer.  Let's call her Smarty McSmart-Pants.  This reviewer has a reputation for having near impeccable taste in books.  Usually, whatever book she gives five stars, we're bound to love as well.  Some of the other reviewers and I have a little thing going where we recommend her books because, clearly, whoever can recommend a book she likes is Queen of Goodreads for that short amount of time. 

So when Smarty McSmart-Pants personally descended from her cloud-like residence and recommended this book to me via a burning tree, I jumped at the opportunity to read it.  After all, it had everything going for it.  Firstly, it’s written by an Australian author.  A condition know within the Goodreads community to be like the kiss of the angels.  Secondly, it’s recommended by aforementioned reviewer, and thirdly, it was insanely expensive to purchase.   So I am completely flabbergasted that I liked this novel a lot, but didn’t really love it. 

There’s a lot of words I want to use to describe this novel and its main character, Carly.  See, I want to describe it as a graphic reflection on the life of a nineteen year old, traumatised rape victim.

But she wouldn’t appreciate that description.  She wouldn’t like being summarised as one horrible moment in her life or to have what happened to her cheapened or used for shock value.  Though it may seem silly to kowtow to the wishes of an imaginary literary character, I will.

So this is the story of Carly, nineteen year old soft-hearted surfer-chick, who is hiding out in Manly and working as a kitchen cook to escape her family and the consequences of trauma inflicted upon her.  She meets Ryan, another surfer with a shady past, and they spark up an awkward and shaky relationship.

The title of Raw Blue is a very accurate one, reflecting the real state of this novel.  The prose are brash and raw with strong emotion. 

“I scrabble my fingers in Ryan’s pubic hair and they brush against his penis which is spent, soft and vulnerable."

These prose are interspersed throughout the narrative.  They are brash, strong and gloss over nothing.

The strongest aspect of this novel, undoubtedly, is its dealing with the subject of rape.  The guilt, shame and anger is all there in its crippling insidiousness, helping the reader to feel as brittle and impotent as Carly is.

This is Carly’s journey to survive and conquer and the novel focuses on this as opposed to the romance with Ryan who serves as a catalyst for change but ultimately is powerless to rescue Carly from her own crippling emotions and trauma.  That she has to do herself.

My major gripe with the novel is in its lackadaisical plot and sudden ending.  The novel ends so abruptly and unexpectedly that one gets the impression Eagar was called to dinner just as she came toward the ending and never returned to finish the narrative.  It leaves this awkward, unfulfilled feeling like great sex which is cut short and ends unsatisfactorily.  There was a climax missed there, I feel, and I finished the novel with a vague frustration.   There were plot points that had felt strong all the way through and then suddenly fizzled into limp nothings.  Shane and Danny felt like potential completely wasted.  What really was their point outside a brief moment each gave to the plot?  I felt like there was so much missing, having been cut away from Eagar’s original intent.

I have one more complaint with this novel as silly as it is.  I feel it’s my duty to inform international readers that the bulk of Australians do not talk like the characters in this novel.  I’ve probably referred to someone as “mate” a total of three times in my life and I’m pretty sure every single one of those was in jest.  Perhaps that’s what stopped me from really escaping into this otherwise marvelous narrative.  I couldn’t escape the mental images of every Ocker, daggy Australian bloke that Ryan produced in me.

I believe this is the clinical definition of gross.

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Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)Where She Went by Gayle Forman

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where She Went is the successional addition to Forman's spectacular If I Stay.  If the seminal theme of If I Stay were about finding a reason to continue living, then Where She Went’s theme could be construed as finding what makes life worthwhile and livable.

Adam, an infamous badboy rocker, has been in a perilous emotional and mental state since his longtime girlfriend, Mia Hall left him. Chance brings them together for one more night and this novel chronicles those precious twenty-four hours together and Mia and Adam get down to what’s really important. 

You guys would not believe the horrible search terms I needed to use to find this image...

Okay, not really.  But there’s a lot of dissecting their relationship and what happened between them to result in a three year absence that has crippled Adam emotionally.

In form and function, Where She Went is very similar to If I Stay.  They’re both character driven novels sparse on action and heavy on reflective and emotional content.  They’re also almost entirely reliant on the strength of their character voices, giving Forman and veritable tightrope to balance on between pained and raw characters, or whiny emo complainers.

There is a noticeable difference that is strongly pronounced between this novel and the last one though.  In If I stay there is a full cast of varied, lovable, interconnected characters common history but divergent personalities.   Where She Went is a departure in this area.  Adam is an isolated character, having lost even his passion for music which had been fueling him.

Where Mia had been a self-introspective prone to examining the people around her, her relationship to them and everyone’s motives, Adam is more of a reactive character.

“My hand is shaking and my heart is pounding and I feel the beginnings of a panic attack, the kind that makes me sure I’m about to die.”

We get a lot of this physical narrative and you have to search within the circumstances and dialogue to make sense of Adam’s motives and reasoning because he is usually quite vague about it himself.  Mia was a character who knew herself and the people around her.  Adam is a character who is almost wholly blind to his and other people’s motivations and reasoning.

Gayle uses a variety of rich, descriptive language without seeming ingenuous to the voice of a twenty-one year old musician – at least to the layman.

Still, despite all the praise, I struggled to connect to Adam and the narrative to the degree that I had in If I Stay.  But don’t confuse my admittance that this is a less emotive novel, with it not being an emotional novel at all.  Where She Went still packs a falcon punch to the heart strings and still manages to illicit some seriously strong passion.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of this book is the song extracts at the beginning of each chapter.  Stiefvater’s debut, Shiver, never resonated with me as I never connected to Sam’s poetry.  It always felt contrived and weak and lessened the novel for me.  Adam, on the other hand, I would listen to and read were he a real person. 

Perhaps that's Forman's strongest ability.  Her characters have a complexity and depth to them, missing in so many other YA novels.  It's not exactly hard to make musicians seem sexy but Forman certainly knows how to exceed past all expectations.  For most readers, this novel will not disappoint.

Tuba?  More like Tuboner!  Hahahahahaha!  Okay, no more musician jokes.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book Review: Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test, #2)Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Kate Winters has won immortality.

But if she wants a life in the Underworld with Henry, she’ll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.

Henry’s first wife, Persephone.

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I requested Goddess Interrupted as I'd seen potential, amidst the frustration, in The Goddess Test.  I thought that, given time, hard work and thoughtful application to her prose, Carter might be a good author one day.

Unfortunately, that didn't quite happen here and part of me understands why.  A lot of the reviews for The Goddess Test focus on:

GAH!  The mythology!  WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


A VIRGIN!?  A VIRGIN!?  ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!

A VIRGIN.  I mean, I'm not getting over that any time soon!

So I appreciate Carter's efforts to address some of that a little in the novel.  Well, no not really, but I'm trying really hard to be nice here.

But the underlying themes of fidelity and sexual repression were always highly problematic and they've only devolved in this novel.

We see this through the characters of Ava and Persephone who are judged and censured very heavily by the main character, Kate.  Ava stays pretty firmly in the camp of irredeemable slut.  As for Persephone: one moment she's the Whore of Babylon and the next she's just a selfish, confused woman.  Note:  Neither of these are accurate or even good characterization! 

Kate says over and over that, no matter what, she would NEVER have cheated on Henry.  That's nice, Kate.  You're all of, what?  18?  Easy to make absolutes when you're 18 and it's your first time in love.  So very, very easy. 

Persephone was a confused, naive girl when she was married off (didn't chose) to the Lord of the Underworld.  She never loved him, she hated her job and she withered up without the sun and freedom.  She stayed that way for THOUSANDS of years before finally falling in love with a man and deciding that she'd had enough of a loveless, passionless marriage.  Yet everyone, even the other gods who saw her and how miserable she was, judges her as a shameless hussy.

How long does Kate last in her passionless, loveless marriage?  *Pulls out fingers and toes to start counting* well, let's see.  They married just before her six month vacation where she didn't see or hear from Henry.  And when she gets back shit breaks out and so when she finally decides to leave him it would have been... a day.  Yes.  it takes her a day of actually being with Henry before she hangs up the crown and decides to ditch him. 

The double standards, which exist all through this book, are aggravating. 

In the the first book Ava is punished by Kate.  You see, Ava had been in a relationship with one man.  Then she'd ditched him and started seeing another guy.  Guy #1 bursts in on guy #2 and they fight.  One of them almost dies.  Whose at fault?  Ava.  Obviously.  Men can't be expected to control themselves when it comes to sex and it was CLEARLY Ava's fault for... whatever.

So we see Calliope turn evil and she does it because her husband, Zeus, has cheated on her throughout antiquity.  It was really satisfying to see everyone angry and annoyed with Walter.  To see him take personal responsibility for his actions and how they've affected Calliope and to see him take part in her punishment... no, wait.  Sorry, none of that happens.  Actually, Calliope is handed over to him so that he can punish her and and try to force her compliance.  She disgusts him.  Charming.

The fail, unfortunately, doesn't stop there.

We have frustrating characters, too little plot for too many novels, bad pacing, vague action scenes and feminist issues with how the main character is treated.

I could spend all day complaining about how often we had to have Kate reassured that Henry loved her, or how frustratingly annoying Henry is or how unnecessary James is as a character.  About how Henry WASN'T a virgin because he'd had sex.  Once with Persephone.  And it was terrible.  You know, I think that's actually worse than if he were a virgin...

But most of all, I'm STILL just really disappointed.  Because this is still watered-down mythology and a poor excuse of a Hades/Persephone retelling.  It's still a copout in so many ways and it's still thoughtless in its narrative and treatment of characters.

I won't read the next one.  I think Carter's progress as a writer is limited in the world she's already built.  But I do think I've seen evidence in the text that leads me to believe that she's better than this.  I guess I'll have to wait until she leaves this series behind to find out if that's true.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)If I Stay by Gayle Forman

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make -and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I played the violin for five years and the viola for three.  It is the piano that only lasted for one year.  My older brother and I began our lessons together when I was nine.

My brother was a smart kid, but he didn't know it then.  It didn't help that his little sister was extremely competitive, precocious and bratty.  I think he always believed he didn't have much going for him - but boy he has it where it counts.

Back then I thought I was so much smarter than him, and taking up the piano was another chance for me to prove that.  Unlike my brother, who had never played an instrument before, I could sight-play and was already studied in the necessary music theory aspects from the violin.

And, in form, I was better than him.  For a while.  Effectively speaking, I always was always going to be better at him in the technical arena.  But he was better where it counted.  When it came to the heart of the music, bringing a piece alive and making it beautiful - I was completely outclassed.  I played like a robot and he played with his soul.

This book makes me regret that more now than I've ever regretted it before in my life.

If I Stay is a beautifully written, character-driven novel about a girl choosing between life and death.  It was also one of the best narrated audiobooks I have ever listened to.

Mia's body is in ICU and she is waiting to die.  As the events from her car crash unfold, she examines her relationships with everyone to determine whether or not it's worth staying or dying peacefully from her crash.

There were parts of this novel that had me weeping, my heart aching and my chest pounding with emotion.  Mia's voice, her relationships, her struggles and her pain are so brilliantly related to the audience.

The writing isn't perfect.  There are some parts that could have been a little more polished.  Some paragraphs that probably needed another edit.  However, the technical writing aspects are far and above overcompensated by the heart and soul of this novel.

This novel is like Mia's Cello.  It is beautiful, resounding and emotional.  Just as Mia can play Adam like her instrument, so too can Forman play her audience - strumming all the high and low notes with perfect, breathtaking clarity.  Without a doubt, Forman has it where it counts.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Would you like some plagiarism with your Amazon?

Important Links:
Original call for help
The ebook that started it all
The original content
More discussion

What Happened?

Goodreader Beth's previously published (2005) work was being sold by Robin Scott on Amazon and claimed as Scott's own writing.

All of Scott's plagiarized work has now been removed by Amazon.  Which, funnily enough, was everything she'd ever published on the website.

Who'd have guessed?  Also, my shrug is very French, no?

Shadowlander by Theresa Meyers

Shadowlander (Shadow Sisters, #1)Shadowlander by Theresa Meyers

Four sisters, three rules to live by, one big problem.

O'Connell Family Rule #1: Don't let the Fae know you see them.
O'Connell Family Rule #2: Don't talk to the Fae.
O'Connell Family Rule #3: Never, ever follow them.

Most people only believe what they can see. Gifted with the ability to see the deep, dark fae of Shadowland, Catherine Rowan Mary O'Connell would prefer not to. When the fae abduct her friend Maya, Cate breaks the sacred O'Connell Family Rules and sets a trap for the handsome fae who haunts her every step.

Rook, High Court Advisor to the Shadow King, has been following Cate since she was sixteen. When Cate reveals herself as one of the fabled "Seers", Rook is stunned—she is one of the few that can permanently open the gates between their worlds. If he turns her over to the Shadow King, his court will rule the human realm.

Cate knows she has precious little time to find Maya. By midnight, the glamour of Mid-Summer's Eve will fade, leaving her trapped forever in the Shadowland, but Maya's abductor won't give up the woman he's mesmerized easily.

The midnight hour is almost at hand. Cate must choose: her freedom or her destiny.

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In one regard, life has taught me not to expect too much from a Novella.  Yet I think this one still managed to let down even my low expectations and I'm a little depressed about that.

Cate and her family are seers of the Fae and so must hide their abilities.  Rook is a fae who stalks Cate, thinking she can't see him.  Their paths collide when one of Cate's friends is kidnapped by the fae.  She needs to get into the Fae world to get her friend back and he needs her to begin the Fae conquest of Earth.  Also they fall in love and shag along the way.

And thus we come across our first issue and it is one in which the author has bitten off more than they can chew.  This is, in its essence, a massive story to undertake in a novella.

Kidnappings?  Peril to the human race? Forbidden hunky fairy love?  You don't say!  I'm intrigued.  Tell me more.

Yet all of this is rather handled in the most cavalier way by the author, leaving the reader with desperate, gaping, plotholes and burning questions.

For starters, the kidnapped girl: Meg.

Before she is kidnapped, our only insight into this character is that she is someone who invites a friend to lunch, planning the entire time to ditch her for a preplanned date.  This same friend is also a work colleague and she also plans (ahead of time) to ditch their important presentation for the aforementioned date and expects to still take half the credit for the work done.

Cate's gifting is hereditary, and she has several sisters.  It's a gift she's had to hide her entire life.  If the fae discover her gifting then she'll disappear forever as her mother once did.  To reveal herself may put her family in extraordinary danger.  She knows this.  Keep all of that in mind when I tell you that she throws it out the window to save the friend I just described.  Call me cruel, call me evil, call me a bitch.  I don't care.  There's no way I would endanger my life and my family for someone like that, and I don't think most normal people would either.  I might even dust my hands off, kick my feet up and consider my life burdened with one less oxygen thief. 

Secondly, Cate's brilliant scheme for getting the world's worst friend back is nonsensical.

Go to Fairyland + Hot Fairy + ? = profit getting friend back.

She doesn't have a plan.  THIS is NOT a plan!  This is a concept and a vague intention.  Making out with a random Fairy and traipsing off into Fairyland with a) no way to return home, b) no plans or assurances this Fairy will help you or c) absolutely no clue what you're doing is not clever thinking!

Rook's characterization is, if possible, even more aggravating.  He's been stalking this girl since she was sixteen and not once has she given a hint of her abilities.  He is right there watching when her supposed friend is kidnapped right in front of her.  Of all the days to reveal her abilities and seduce him, she chooses that day.  Look, kids, this is not hard maths here.  It doesn't take leaps and bounds in logic to assume the woman has a hidden agenda. Yet Rook is shocked, shocked I say, when he realizes that she came with him to fairy in order to retrieve her friend.

Lastly, and perhaps the most aggravating aspect of this novel.  He is a fairy.  They're planning to invade our planet, subvert our autonomy and replace us as supreme rulers of earth.  There is no convincing him otherwise.  As a human being, her reaction to all of this is?

Doesn't matter; had sex.  Thanks, Cate.  Sold out your whole race for Fairy Peen.  Good job there.

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The Legacy of Eden by Nelle Davy

The Legacy of EdenThe Legacy of Eden by Nelle Davy

"To understand what it meant to be a Hathaway, you'd first have to see Aurelia."

For generations, Aurelia was the crowning glory of more than three thousand acres of Iowa farmland and golden cornfields. The estate was a monument to matriarch Lavinia Hathaway's dream to elevate the family name - no matter what relative or stranger she had to destroy in the process. It was a desperation that wrought the downfall of the Hathaways - and the once prosperous farm.

Now the last inhabitant of the decaying old home has died - alone. None of the surviving members of the Hathaway family want anything to do with the farm, the land, or the memories.

Especially Meredith Pincetti. Now living in New York City, for seventeen years Lavinia's youngest grandchild has tried to forget everything about her family and her past. But with the receipt of a pleading letter, Meredith is again thrust into conflict with the legacy that destroyed her family's once-great name. Back at Aurelia, Meredith must confront the rise and fall of the Hathaway family... and her own part in their mottled history.

"Our farm was like the world when people still thought it was flat. And when you left it, it was as if you had simply sailed too far and fallen off the surface into the void."

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's hard to talk objectively about The Legacy of Eden because it is an intensely personal novel.  How much you relate to it may well rest upon how horribly dysfunctional your family is.  Or was.  And I'm not just referring to your parents occasionally fighting or you uncle occasionally getting drunk and being thrown out of bars.  This book is about the kind of family dysfunction that is a sickness spreading down the family lines until nobody is left unscathed.

In Meredith's family, that sickness began with her grandmother, Lavinia.  The book chronicles Lavinia through her marriages, her children, her children's marriages and then to her grandchildren.  In every single one of them you see the signs and symptoms of the sickness in all its forms and variation.  You watch as, one by one, it ravages and destroys the family from the inside out.

Anybody looking for a great deal of events and a fast-moving plot are best to avoid this one.  Davy takes her time skillfully weaving the tale.  She hops backwards and forwards and slithers through time to bring her narrative together.

Where The Legacy of Eden really shines is its characterization.  Each person in this novel is like a finely crafted portrait.  Lavinia stands out as the strongest character, but all of them have their place - whether they make you fall in love with them, respect them, fear for them, mourn them or despise them.  What you will probably not do, is get bored of them.

Davy's writing is quite masterful. Her prose are beautiful and whimsical and Meredith's voice is not a completely horrible headspace to be in.

I really, really loved this book as I was drawn into the mystery and intrigue.  I'm not entirely sure I'll ever read it again.  It's the kind of book that makes you look back on your own family legacy and look at the cracks and rotten tree limbs.  For some, it'll give that strange sense of nostalgia for something both horrible yet infinitely familiar.

And I guess horrible yet infinitely familiar is the perfect way to sum up the story and most of the characters.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Dear Authors

Here's something to think about - and it's just a little thing.

You have a lot to do when it comes to getting your book and ebook licensed.  My one request and plea is that you keep Australia in mind when you do it.

You know?  This place!

We have a lot of these:

But you know what else we have a lot of?  These:

Now, you may think that's a stock photo of a woman biting her laptop.  And yes, it is.  But do you know what else it is?  It's a representation of an Australian trying to buy an ebook version of your book.  And she's biting her laptop because there's not one available.  Then she went and looked up ten other ebooks she wanted to buy.  They weren't available either.  So she bit her laptop.  That may seem like a strange reaction to non-Australians but 9 times out of 10, biting things is very effective here in Australia.  Alas, this is that one time it's not.  No matter how many times I bite my laptop, ebooks don't appear.

I get it, I really do.  So do most Australians.  We're a small market and we're very far away and very easy to forget about.  I think Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country said it best when he wrote:

"The fact is, of course, we pay shamefully scant attention to our dear cousins Down Under - though not entirely without reason, I suppose.  Australia is, after all, mostly empty and a long way away.  Its population, about 19 million, is small by world standards - China grows by a larger amount each year - and its place int he world economy is consequently peripheral; as an economic entity, it is about the same size as Illinois.  From time to time it sends us useful things - opals, merino wool, Errol Flynn, the boomerang - but nothing we can't actually do without.  Above all, Australia doesn't misbehave.  it is stable and peaceful and good.  It doesn't have coups, recklessly over fish, arm disagreeable despots, grow cocoa in provocative quantities or throw its weight around in a brash manner."

So you put it on the last of your licensing to-do list and if you get the time, you'll license your book to us.  Maybe.  The problem is when you do that, and then all your author friends do that as well.   Then we're stuck with no ebooks and nobody cares.  Except for us.  Look up "Australia" and "ebooks".  There are hundreds of sites with thousands of Australians complaining about not being about to get ebooks.

I have over 300 books on my tbr shelf.  Many of them are there because I'm desperate to read them but they're just not available to me without buying it from overseas and paying exorbitant shipping costs.  Ordering two books from Amazon will cost me $25.  Having them shipped to me will cost me over $40.  That's almost double the price of the books at the end of the day and Amazon's free shipping policy does not apply to Australians.

This could all be circumvented if their ebooks were available to me for sale.  But they're not.

So please keep it in mind when you're doing your licensing.  Don't forget us.  Don't put us off for six-eight months (or forever) and treat us like third class citizens for daring to want to spend our hard earned money on your product. 

We will be very, very grateful for the courtesy of at least having the option of buying your work.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't believe in ghosts.  I don't believe in Ouji boards, aliens, loch ness monsters, abominable snowmen, poltergeists, republicans or any of that other stuff.

My little brother makes me watch those ghost hunter documentaries (I'm using that term lightly) and tries to show me the DARN FACTS, DAMNIT KATE!  WHY CAN'T YOU SEE THAT THEY'RE REAL?

Funny how he believes in ghosts but not the continued statistical evidence that indicates women still suffer from inequality and, yes little brother, even in western society.  *Cue eye roll*

So keep that in mind when I say that this book scared the shit out of me.

Nothing is less fun then getting up in the middle of a dark night to tend to your son.  You're creeping through the halls thinking over and over in your head, "Ghosts aren't real.  Ghosts aren't real.  Fuck what was that?!  Nothing, okay?  That was nothing because ghosts aren't real.  Ghosts aren't real."

It's not a perfect novel.  Apart from the pants-shitting terror, there is Cas to deal with.  A lot of other reviews cover how his head space is occasionally annoying to be in.  For me, that just felt like realism because if I were a badass, devil-may-care, teenage ghost hunter (if they existed, little bro) then I'd probably be really smarmy and annoying too.

What I really enjoyed was Anna and her relationship with Cas.  Anna was like the girl next door. If the girl next door tore livers out of people to play hackey sack with, that is.  She's this really lovely, murdersome, complicated ghost character.  Although, I have to wonder how much she has to complain about really.  I mean, sure, she's a dead horror-monster stuck in a house filled with the spiritual husks of her victims - but she died in a really awesome dress!  And it even changes colour from white to red depending on how sadistically evil and murdery she feels at that time.  Downside?  I can't think of one.

I enjoyed the writing, the cast of characters, the plot and the pacing.  I enjoyed pretty much everything about this novel.

I mean, who wouldn't want to spend the next two weeks pondering why the interrobang ever managed to fall out of popular use while roaming the dark halls of their house?

"What the hell was that?!"

"Is it going to eat me?!"

"Will they hear me scream!?"

"Why'd I read that stupid, fucking book... shitamIgoingtodie!?"

"When is the next one coming out?!"

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wank Fest Continues

So the wankfest continues and some new stuff happens.  Whether we're ever going to be able to get back to reading and reviewing books is still undecided.

1. Julie McGuire and Jane Litte have a Twitter battle.

Important Links
Jamie McGuire's Twitter
Jane Litte's Twitter
Jane Litte's Beautiful Disaster review.

What Happened?

After the debacle in which McGuire abuses negative reviewers in a blog, Jane Little decided to take matters into her own claws.  A catfight is the obvious result.

L: "I'm posting my review on Sat of ur book & it contains everything you seem to hate and despise in a review."


M: "I'm sorry you're disappointed.  I'm disappointed you have entire website about you opinion, but I'm not allowed one blog."

The rest of the Twitter battle can be found here and here.

As of this moment, Litte hasn't posted any review other than the following found here.

Jane Litte posted her review on Dear Author, and it's very tame and professional.  

As of this moment, McGuire has still not apologized for attacking a reviewer, and has instead reinforced on her blog that the entire post was an attack on one specific review.

"1. This blog is not directed toward all negative reviews. Beautiful Disaster elicits strong emotions in many people, and not always in a good way. This blog entry was directed at something very specific, and those involved know exactly what I was referring to. I kept the particular issue vague on purpose, and did not post a link because I didn't want anyone outside of those "in the know" going to that particular review. I hope this answers that question."
The reviewer in question, Sophie, has continued to be attacked by McGuire's fans.

2. Memyshelfandi blogs about books being compared to Twilight.  Her complaints are compared to a recent bullied reviewer.

Important Links:
Discussed here

What happened?
Amber from writes a blog post in reaction to reviews comparing books to Twilight.  This bothers her.

Leigh Fallon, recently discovered to have launched an email campaign against a review (and it's author) where her book was compared to Twilight, likes this blogpost. 

Links are made between this blogpost and Fallon's recent cyber attack on Stephanie.

Amber denies this in the comments (Awesome!)

Then, on twitter, suggests there might be one  (...not so awesome.)

3. Author Julie Halpern lashes out at Book blogger Allison at The Allure of Books

Important Links:

The blog post that started it
The review that started it

What Happened?

Julie Halpern writes a personal attack on Allison's recent review of Don't Stop Now.  The blogger world reels from the ridiculousness of it all.  Then a rash of discussion breaks out.

She posts a second blog post.  It is not an apology.  She blames the bloggers for being too sensitive and justifies her attack.

A third and final blog post is written demanding bloggers stop being so upset about her offensive posts.

The bloggers agree, forgive her and rush to buy her new book.  Then they all die from a sarcasm overload.

Halpern deletes the blogs.  Unfortunately, Google Cache doesn't delete as fast as she does. 

4. Several Authors rehash old blog posts or write new ones in support of book reviewers.

Important Links:
Julie Kagawa's reposted blog
Rachel Caine's rediscovered post
Pam van Hylckama Vlief's post
Veronica Roth's post
Phoebe North's blog post

What Happened:

Julie Kagawa reposts her blog because she is sick of the drama.
Pam posts and addresses some of the bad author behaviour because she is sick of the drama.
Rachel Cain's old blog post is rediscovered because authors and reviewers are sick of the drama.
Veroinca Roth writes a blog post on her opinion of the author and reviewer condition because she is sick of the drama.
Phoebe North writes a blog post on her pledge as a writer and reviewer because she is sick of the drama.

Everyone swoons and says, "Finally!" because EVERYONE IS SICK OF THE DRAMA!

5. Author Rick Lipman claims book bloggers sacrifice virigins.  Could be true.

Important links:

Twitter status

What Happened?

Aspiring YA author, Rick Lipman provides valuable insight into the darker side of book blogger activities, revealing startling new information.

When asked to back up the various allegations, Lipman's response is, "But why would I lie?"  Compelling and also irrefutable in its logic, we are forced to believe him.  Other twitterers joined in with further insider information, shocking the reviewing world.

"You guys.  I didn't want to tell you this because I didn't want to stoop to their level, but: Book reviewers ate my baby."

"I'm pretty sure book bloggers faked the moon landing.  And are also Satan."
Some book bloggers are offended, yet ultimately can't deny the accusations and eventually are forced to agree with Lipman.

What REALLY happened?

I'm not sure, but I think it was awesome.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The First Five Days on Goodreads

Welcome to 2012. 

I'm reviewing the first five Goodreads days so far and it amounts to a fat 1 star because the drama llamas are out to play, folks!

So in case you've missed all the juicy GoodReads gossip - here it is, folks. 

1. Kira Vs Krokos

Important Links:

What happened:

Krokos begins by criticizing Kira's prereview of Julie Cross' Tempest.  It snowballs from there.  He takes the discussion to Twitter where other authors join in.  Their twitter messages can be found here.
Mindee Arnett: Apparently she tweeted as well but I can't seem to find any tweets so I can't confirm this one.  I haven't been able to find any tweets to implicate Arnett so I'm taking her off the list.
Lauren DeStefano: "I'd even venture to say GR makes 4chan look like a hallmark card from my own loving granny."
 Bill Cameron:  "Goodreads is such a hellhole I fled months ago."
Jessica Corra: "Everyone's a critic."
Courtney Allison Moulton: "A hot new way to destroy a publishing career before you have it."
Pam van Hylckama: "Where you go when you get a bit too full of yourself." 
Rachel Hawkins: "It is your right to be an a-hole on the internet.  But then you don't get to be offended when someone is like, "Hey.  You are an a-hole."

and she goes on:
"B/c be honest.  You KNEW you were being an a-hole.  Maybe you were even being a FUNNY a-hole. And that's valid!  Sometimes we gotta get snarky!"

And on:

"But when you SAY A-HOLE THINGS, and someone is like, "HEY, THAT IS SLIGHTLY A-HOLISH OF YOU!" maybe don't yell, "OPPRESSION OMG!"

And on:

"No one is trying to oppress you.  Or take away your right to be an a-hole on the internet.  But words have power, actions have consequences."

And still goes on:

"So anyway, that's my two cents.  In the words of @wilw, don't be a dick.  And if you ARE going to be one perhaps climb down from high horses."

We can't actually confirm, or deny, whether Hawkin's is still tweeting this commentary or if people just got bored and stopped screen-capping them 

The debate also led to Agent Suzie Townsend posting to defend her clients Julie Cross and Dan Krokos and then to delete her Goodreads account.

Krokos, Corra, Moulton, DeStefano and Hylckama later came forward to apologize.  It appears that Corra, Moulton, Hylckama and DeStefano were unaware of the hoopla and were simply responding to the hashtag.

Debate also raged on several user status' and blog posts. An old post of DeStefano's ignited debate over whether her attitude to negative reviews has changed in the year since it was published.
Then Hannah Moskowitz wrote An Open Letter To Those Who Review on Goodreads and everyone agreed she was, like, the coolest person ever.


2. Goodreads reviewer, Flannery, is attacked by author Danielle Weiller

Important links:   

What happened:

On Flannery's 3 star (huh?) review of Goddess Melina Marchetta's Froi of the Exiles, Danielle Weiller takes a swipe at the reviewer for her gratuitous snark.  Then gets defensive.  Then apologizes.  Very quickly.  To Wendy (Huh?)

Message 49:

"I found this review quite harsh and extreme in taking things out of context. Finnikin and Isaboe have never had an easy relationship and have always struggled with sharing responsibility and power. Theyve had some fantastic arguments.
I know goodreads is a place to share opinions but the sarcasm in this review - then giving it 3 stars when it sounded like you really wanted to give it 1 - was a bit mean. Spare a thought for all the authors hard work and reading this review and seeing your picture of her character - sometimes readers are just too harsh."

Message 56:

"Now now, let's not surround the minority here like a pack of wolves. I dont know any of you outside this review and its comments. I just wonder if readers care at times that authors do actually read these and can be discouraged by certain tones and comments."

Message 68:
"I fully understand all the comments here - Id just like to know where the ethics and boundaries are here."

3. Leigh Fallon's abusive email is sent to the reviewer it was antagonizing.
Important Links:

What happened:

All-round wonderful person, and hilarious reviewer, Stephanie receives an anonymous email.  The sender of the email claims to have received an email from Leigh Fallon regarding Stephanie's Amazon review and it says the following:

There is the stupid cow from Goodreads who has been real nasty and keeps doing up really bad reviews of Carrier, then gets her friends to go in and 'like' her bad reviews so that that review will be pushed up to the top of all the lists. Now she's put it up on Amazon! She is a disgruntled old cow who doesn't like me and how I got published. There's no point in saying anything about her or responding (she loves that) but what we can do is push her review back down the list by bringing all the good reviews back to the top. How do we do this? Well at the end of each review there is a little button where you can say whether you found the review helpful. Click YES on the good reviews. The more reviews you click YES you click on the good reviews the further down the list that bitch will go. If you leave a comment on the good reviews, that helps too. She's already got over 20 of her buds to YES her review so we will need to find more people than that to YES the good reviews. There are about 8 pages of reviews (that's about 7 reviews or something like that) so we can bury this horrible toe rag down the very bottom if you help me out.

As far as I'm aware, you don't have to have bought anything on Amazon to get your vote to count. You just need to be a registered user. It only takes about 5 mins to go through all the reviews and YES the good ones. I'm not asking to dickie with the system or anything, it's just moving a horrible review from the top spot. It's so long, you have to scroll for ages until you get to the good ones. I'd really appreciated it help on his. I'd also love if you could maybe gets some friends or family to do the same.

Thanks a million, guys. You're the best.

Disbelief over the authenticity is widespread.  Until Stephanie emails Leigh Fallon herself and discovers that it's all true and so Fallon apologizes.
Dear Stephanie:
I owe you a message and an apology. I sent a private email to two close friends and I’ve learned that that email somehow found its way to your inbox. Obviously, it was not meant for yours or anyone else's eyes, but more to the point, it was not something I should’ve sent in the first place. It was written in anger and I’m sorry for the hurt it has caused you. As an author, I’m grateful for all of my readers, including those who do not end up loving the book—believe it or not!—and I appreciate anyone who takes the time to think critically about the book and share their thoughts. That said, to put it plainly, your review hurt my feelings. I know it wasn’t meant as an attack on me, but some days, I don’t have a thick skin. So I turned to my friends and vented. I’m sorry for my hurtful words. You are clearly a book lover—you deserve only my respect for our shared love of the written word. Please accept my apology.


Debate rages over Fallon's response as indicated by the fact that in order to knock Stephanie's review off the top spot, she would have needed far more than two people.  

4. Vanity Published author, Jamie McGuire, lashes out at a reviewer.

Important links:

The offending blog post.  McGuire has now deleted this post. Luckily, I have a screenshot.
What happened:

Sophie, a relatively new reviewer (since Oct 2011 and with only 30ish friends) wrote a review on McGuire's debut novel, Beautiful Disaster.  The review is... less than complimentary.  Beautiful Disaster fans flock to attack her review.  Then complain when she responds.  Then McGuire gets involved, writing a scathing blogpost and makes several tweeted comments quoting 1 star reviews and criticizing them.

People point out that a reviewer, defending herself on her own review, does not class as someone attacking McGuire's fans, but rather that her fans are attacking the reviewer.  Much discussion is had and McGuire... doesn't apologize.  At all. 

She does manage to make a bunch of half-assed responses, and then deletes them.

And onto the last and final scandal:

Drumroll, please!

5. Fabulous author of Seraphina, Rachel Hartman is caught belly dancing to Love in an Elevator.

No links because this is only an alleged scandal.  Pics or it didn't happen, Hartman!


It's true!!!!!!!!  Hartman, you saucy minx!

I can also report and confirm that within minutes of Hartman posting this photo on her profile, Goodreads crashed.  True story.  You just can't make that shit up.

The Wankfest contines here.

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Wings (Wings, #1)Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words.
Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.
In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

I probably shouldn't have read this.  If you read the pre-read section at the bottom of the review, you'll see that I didn't even intend to order it.  Yet, since I had it, I thought I'd give it a go.

I lasted 24 pages because that's all my sanity could take. 

Laurel is a magazine-beautiful, waif-like teenager who leaves homeschooling in grade 10 in order to begin her high school career. 

And that's when the story stops making sense.  Not that the above makes any sense either.  Models in magazines aren't even as airbrushed beautiful as models in magazines.  I would just like to point that out now.

The comment could fly past as poor characterization and sloppy writing if it didn't go hand in hand with Laurel's horrible relationship with food.  In fact, a great deal of emphasis is placed on what she eats.  Once again, not entirely a problem except attention is also placed on how she feels when she eats.  Which is guilty and "like a battle has been lost" when she eats half a pear and half a cup of juice. 

Random guy looking bedazzled
I know, random guy, I know.

The writing is just terrible and the characterization can't even be mentioned because I'm pretty sure Goodread's lax profanity rules would not cover what I would end up saying.

Mostly, it's all so very saccharine sweet and ickly chaste, yet oddly kinky and unbelievably tame. I feel like I'm describing Disneyland here, but if I do, that might make people think of fun.  Notice I deliberately left fun off the list.  But, luckily, there was comparable amounts of vomit. 

Spoilers below, folks.

Apparently.  APPARENTLY, Laurel is not actually a human, but a fairy.  And the reason she is a vegan is because she is a plant.  Like, as in, she is not a red blooded mammal but is an actual plant...

I'm sorry, I'm going to need a judge's ruling on that.

Thank you. Steve Carell.  I think you've said it all.

Look, you just.  You don't do that.  You just...don't.  I mean, what school of biology did you go to?  The Stephanie Meyer School of Biology, that's what!

I mean, and correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't 8th grade biology talk a lot about how plants photosynthesize to make energy and how they do respire but at night when there's no light and about how they don't have things like digestive systems and they don't have blood but, hey they do have Chloroplasts and Chlorophylls.  And how they don't digest nutrients by eating them but by absorbing them through their roots.  There just doesn't seem to be a lot of thought put into this.

I mean, look at organs like the brain.  How does her brain work?  They need A LOT Of protein.  A huge amount actually.  Which you can get by eating a healthy vegan diet, but she's not even doing that. 

Scientists don't look at an ape-like creature and have this conversation:

"So, Doctor Rosenbaum, what do you think it is?  Mammal?  Reptile?  Plant?  Rock?"
"I don't know.  I just don't know.  If only there was some way of determining these things!  Look, just to be safe, put it down as a bird.  Just because it doesn't fly - doesn't mean it can't!"

I used to think that the old troll argument of, "You're overthinking it!  Stop thinking so much and you'll enjoy it!" was full of shit.  But, in this case, they're right.  My highly developed mammalian brain just can not handle this level of stupidity.  But even if I could somehow switch it off.  Well, there enough other bad stuff in here that would spoil it anyway.

_____________________________________________Pre-read comments______________________________________

I'm not entirely sure why I'm reading this.  For some reason I thought there was some controversy over this author and that I'd barred it, but it's not on my Do Not Read shelf so I must have been mistaken. 

I went to pick up books from the library this afternoon and it was among them.  I don't clearly remember ordering it so I asked for the order date and went home to Mr. Kennedy.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Hey honey, was I drinking heavily on the 15th of December?"
Mr Kennedy: "Hmmm...the 15th was a Thursday.  That's Corona day."
Me: "Ugh.  Okay, definitely drunk.  That explains it."
Mr Kennedy: "Let me guess, you found traffic cones and police hats again?"
Me: *Thinks for a second* "That probably would have been the preferable outcome."

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Nightshade (Nightshade, #1)Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything--including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Usually, as a reviewer of YA and one who attracts a relative amount of trolls, I get told often that someone as OLD as me shouldn't be reviewing YA books.  And at the staggeringly long-lived age of 25, I might as well be on Kidney dialysis and walking around with a zimmerframe to these people.

old woman wearing tiara
Coincidentally, how do you like my tiara?

Usually, I ignore these people because I can easily pretend to turn off my hearing aid and go to sleep.  They stop annoying me when I "pretend" to fart in my sleep and snore simultaneously.

For the first time, probably ever, I really feel the distinction.  I didn't like this book, so I'll still rate it.  In fact, I didn't get past page 46 because I was afraid my eyes would roll out of my head if I kept pressing on. 

This book is for teenagers.  Like, teenagey teenagers.  Of which, I am not one of them.

This book will relate to people who still think your clothing defines absolutely every aspect of your personality and who you can be friends with.  Who still think that the most important thing is that's you're listening to the right bands and doing you're hair the way it's cool to do it now.  People who GET Fred.  *Disclaimer here:  By "get Fred" I don't mean, "Get Fred and choke the life out of him because he shouldn't be allowed to exist." But if you did think that's what I meant then I think we can remain friends.

I am not teenagery.  My teenage cousin spent her Christmas money on hair products because she needed to update her range.  I spent my Christmas money on NOT defaulting on my homeloan by spending the GNP of Brazil on haircare products.  I dress nicely and I will never, ever, get mistaken for a teenager.  I wear PEARLS!  Real pearls.

This book is SO not for me.

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