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Not posted on a Wednesday, but hey, I didn’t skip this week. Quick reminder that the giveaway for The People’s Police Giveaway is still going until midnight Sunday the 19th. This book’s one that I bought rather than being send to review. So, enjoy!

your-favorite-band-cannot-save-you-cover

Beautiful Remorse is your new favorite band. You couldn’t say why if asked. You couldn’t even really say anything about the lyrics. But their music does something for you. To you. It’s like nothing you’ve ever heard, and their singer, Airee MacPherson. She’s fantastic, completely out of this world.  Strange things keep happening with each new track they release. Beautiful Remorse is your new favorite band, and your favorite band cannot save you.

Scotto Moore’s Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You: a tale in ten tracks is a quick fun read that’ll pull you along right to the end. The first two thirds of the book is solid genre fiction, but then it gets to a certain point and everything starts to feel kind of rushed. Think of it a little bit like a love letter to the Cthulhu mythos through the lens of modern internet culture.

There are a few bits that needed more attention throughout the book. Without that, the end isn’t a total big lipped alligator moment, but it does still feel under supported. I’d have liked more exposition on Aimee’s plan or the music itself, though the narrator’s limited knowledge goes a ways towards explaining that away.

My other big issue is with the characters. I legitimately cannot remember the narrator’s name or much of anything about him. The same goes for most of the characters that aren’t Airee, they sort of get lost in her or the music and just don’t come up again. I could easily say that this was a purposeful thing and that a big part of the point was a collective nothingness for humanity. It still doesn’t really work for me in the long run though, at the end of the day I’m still very much invested in character over plot.

More than anything, Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You reminds me of a B movie. Despite its faults, the story is aggressively readable and fast paced. It’s eyes off the action to build tension, which works well in a lot of ways. This is a book that could have been a lot better with a little work, but it doesn’t need it to be a fun book. If that makes sense at all. It’s fun, it’s fast, and at the end of the day I still really enjoyed it.

So, where does that leave us? While Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You has some issues, I still had a ton of fun with it. So, from me at least, it gets a four out of five.

Admitting a Thing

Sometimes I hate my writing. It feels repetitive and clunky and always always always like I’m using the wrong words to get my point across. I’ll get lost in trying to make a point without spoiling things or being aggressively negative, and then reread it and feel like I’m saying nothing. Sometimes I feel like I’m stalling out and the words scatter, or I get it in my head that I’m not a very interesting writer and I want to give up.

Sometimes I hate my writing, and that extends to the fictional stuff too. I’ll look at my dialogue and feel like it’s too stilted and faux formal. My action scenes fall flat. Sometimes it just feels like I’ve spent so much time with it on the back burner that it’s congealed and will never work quite right.

Sometimes I don’t hate my writing though. Those times are getting fewer and farther between lately, which sucks massively. But they still exist. Sometimes it feels like I might can make this whole thing work out and actually get somewhere with it. Sometimes I can even hold onto that when I hate my writing. I can hold it up to myself.

Sometimes I get tired of doubting myself and have to vomit words into the void. It’s a little weird like that, telling no one and everyone this one tiny huge secret so I can go back to calling myself the best thing ever.

I’m starting to sound like a pop song here. Someone set this to the four chords, let’s see what happens.

the-peoples-police-cover

As mentioned yesterday, I’ve got a giveaway for you all. Thanks to the awesome folks at Tor I’ve got two copies of Norman Spinrad’s new novel, The People’s Police, that means two winners.

The giveaway will run from today until next Sunday the 19th at midnight central time and will be open to entries from the United States and Canada.

Standard rules apply: you’ll need to be following this blog to enter, the winners will be selected using a random number generator, and you’ll need to answer a question for your entry here.

So, question time readers, The People’s Police deals with the issues of those in charge caring more about the interests of the richest among us than the people at large. How do you react when it seems like the deck’s been stacked against you and how do you try and make it better?

Hey all, I’ve got something awesome for you tonight. The awesome folks at Tor have given me a sneak peek excerpt of Norman Spinrad’s new novel, The People’s Police, to share with y’all. I’ll also be hosting a giveaway for this novel, details will go live tomorrow. Enjoy!

the-peoples-police-cover

Chapter 1
Some folks are still bitching that the Eternal Mardi Gras is a Disney version, what with the traditional Krewes’ parading limited to the traditional lead-up to Fat Tuesday while the big budget corporate floats from Hollywood, Bollywood, and Pornywood parade all year, all long, all over New Orleans, which is sort of true, given that it was Disney I brought in first.

 

But whining that the Mouse has gone and done to the French Quarter what it did to Times Square, and oozed out into the rest of New Orleans like the annual dose of mud during the Hurricane Season, and calling yours truly, Jean-Baptiste Lafitte, a swamp rat traitor to the true soul of the city is going a tad too far, seeing as how the Quarter had fallen far off its fabled glory days even before Katrina.
You expect me to apologize for saving the city from drowning to death?
Oh yes, I did!
Everyone knows New Orleans had been on its economic ass for decades, barely able to pay the cops to keep the Swamp Alligators down in their lowlands swamps and out of the New Orleans Proper high grounds.

 

And the Hurricane Season wasn’t going away, now was it, and what the Dutch were demanding in order to save what was left of the Big Easy from finally going under would’ve been about the total budget of the city government for the next decade or two. No high-priced, high-tech Hans Brinker seawalls and solar windmill pumping stations back then, need I remind you?

 

I guess I do.

 

Amazing what short memories ingrates have.

 

New Orleans featured itself as the Big Easy since before Mickey Mouse was even a gleam in Uncle Walt’s evil eye, but just because the truth wouldn’t look so good in the tourist guides doesn’t mean we don’t all know that it’s always really been the Big Sleazy, now does it?

 

This city was making its living as a haven for pirates and slavers and the riverboat gamblers, saloon keepers and whorehouse impresarios like yours more or less truly, rollers high, low, and medium, who serviced their trade since before the Louisiana Purchase.
The Big Easy was born as the Big Sleazy. Easy?

 

Yeah, sure.

 

Born between a bend in the mighty and mighty ornery Mississip and a briny marsh presumed to call itself Lake Pontchartrain serving as an overflowing catch-basin for tidal surges when the major hurricanes hit and a giant mud puddle in-between.

 

Easy?

 

First built precariously on the natural levees of the Mississippi, expanding greedily and stupidly into the back swamps. Tossed around like a beachball between the French and the Spanish. Finally sold to the Americans by Napoleon on the cheap because he knows he’s gonna lose it to the British anyway if he doesn’t. Flooded every few decades even before Katrina, before there even was an annual Hurricane Season, squeezing what remained onto what high ground was left to it after the sea level rose. The population cut almost in half, forced to live off the tourist and entertainment trade alone when the Gulf oil dried up, just about surrounded by the Alligator Swamp and what crawled up out of it if its back was turned.

 

You call that Easy?

 

Those who adapt survive, like the Cajuns from icy Quebec said when they found themselves in the steamin’ bayous of the Delta, like the Alligator Swamp nutria hunters turning a plague into protein. Those who don’t ain’t been heard from lately. So making legal what the Big Easy always was to pull our terminal condition from the mud is not “selling out the soul of the city” or “whoring ourselves to the mavens of show business.”
Because the Big Easy has always been a whore, a charming, sleazy, free-wheeling, good-natured hooker with a heart of gold and an eye for the main chance, which is what makes her easy, and bein’ easy is the name of the game in this business, which has always been the main game in town. And let an old bordello impresario tell you, who would ever hire a hooker who wasn’t all of the above, and good-lookin’ too?

 

In case you’re forgetting, the Big Easy wasn’t exactly looking as appetizing as a platter of Oysters Bienville back in the day before Mama Legba and Her Supernatural Krewe. She’s all spiffed up and lit up and giving herself the star treatment now, to the point where ingrates and ignoramuses and Creole romantics looking back over their shoulders can afford to complain about how New Orleans is peddling her previously jazzy derrière to less than the genteel bohemian trade of their absinthe fantasies.

 

Whoever wrote that song about there being no business like show business sure got it wrong. As things stand now, there’s no business but show business and we all are in it. Not that we haven’t always been. The only difference now is that it’s making the good times roll again after all those years in the deep dark shit, and that’s good enough for me, and if it’s not good enough for you, this ain’t your town, you’d best leave and go somewhere more to your tight-assholed liking.

 

But y’all come back on vacation from the salt mines, y’hear! Whatever your pleasure, we got it, and if we don’t, don’t worry, no matter how pervo it may seem to your sweaty vestigial morality, we’ll get it for you. Here in the Eternal Mardi Gras of the Big Easy, we make no such judgments, we’re impossible to scandalize, de gustibus non est disputandum.
What pays here, stays here, and never fear, we do still want your money.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2017 by Norman Spinrad

Hey look! It’s that review I’ve been talking about for months. It’s here before Christmas even. For real though, sorry about falling off the world like that. Enjoy!

arcanum-unbounded

I’m kind of skipping the blurb this time, since this is a collection of short stories.

So, Brandon Sanderson’s The Arcanum Unbounded is an interesting book both as it is written and for what it is. Unfortunately it also relies pretty heavily on the reader not only being a fan of Sanderson’s work but also having read all of his previous works. That more than kind of cools me on the book, though it is more or less exactly what’s on the label. This is going to be a bit of a weird one.

There are two big issues that I have with Arcanum Unbounded. The reliance on the reader having read everything in Sanderson’s Cosmere is the lesser of the two. The more major issue I have is his habit of including an afterword on the stories, on its own it wouldn’t be too bad but as part of this particular book it clashes terribly with the framing device introduced at the beginning and make the book very easy to put down. A pretty easy fix for this would have been removing either the framing device, which ties the book together as a concept, or the afterwords, which feel a little like reading the author’s blog rather than a book. I’m much more interested in the framing device, that someone has collected these story bits from all over the Cosmere, because it ties in. But I’m also a “death of the author” kind of reader and feel like if the author has to explain something outside of the story itself, then it isn’t written well enough. Obvious biases are, in fact, obvious.

The issue of it feeling like everything else prior to this is required reading bounces around a bit. The first story is by far my favorite and feels like a whole entity unto itself, I don’t feel lost for details and could enjoy myself freely. It’s immediately followed by a short story set towards the end of Elantris that, having not read that novel, I was completely lost on which made it feel super long and just draining to get through. It’s not bad in most of the stories but, combined with the afterwords, can feel tiresome.

That said, the stylistic choices made were interesting and in several stories it felt like the author was having fun with the writing. The novella about the Survivor was great once I got into it and it started feeling like its own thing instead of a spin on something else. So this is ultimately a pretty mixed bag for me. The writing is solid throughout, but then the plotting is overly referential. The stories that stand alone are a ton of fun, but then others feel like fragments of something bigger.

At the end of the day, I give Arcanum Unbounded a three out of five. If you’re a big fan of Sanderson’s you’ll probably enjoy it immensely. If not, maybe check it out from the library first or give one of his other books a shot.

Trapped in Wonderland

So this is late by a couple hours. Better than days or weeks, but still. I was sent a copy of Trapped in Wonderland by the author, Dani Hoots, for an honest review as part of a blog tour. She’s been great to work with and I hope you all enjoyed her guest post earlier today. Enjoy!

The first time Alice visited Wonderland she had been shoved in a locker. The second time she had to be rescued from the White Rabbit. Now she’s trapped in a world like a dream with four boys from her school who are, it turns out, characters from the story. But dreams are dying and it will be up to Alice to save both Wonderland and her own world from the Cirque de Reves and their mysterious leader.

Dani Hoots’ Trapped in Wonderland is something of a new spin on an old classic. The Alice here is not the original Alice who told her story to Lewis Carroll. Wonderland is different, being ruled by the Kingdom of Dreams and sectioned into Zones. Also the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, Doormouse, and March Hare are all cute boys. It’s different from the original, but still feels very familiar on a lot of levels.

I admit, this book frustrates me and I think a lot of that comes down to it feeling very like young. It has a lot of new writer problems like stilted dialogue and a lot of unnecessary details that could have been removed to improve the pacing. Most of the little details, like what manga Alice was reading, could have gone while keeping bigger things, like her getting up early to fix her own lunch because she wants to have a bento box. The book sort of waffles between things that build Alice’s character and things that just fill space on the page. There’s also a lot of repetitiveness and contradiction when it comes to certain things. The reader keeps being reminded both that Alice does ballet but is still super clumsy, or that she’s pretty sure that Wonderland is just a dream. It leads to the book feeling like it was originally posted as each chapter was finished rather than as a whole.

There’s this weird sort of conflict of character with regard to Alice and her family as well. It’s sort of a tie in to the plot itself. Her older sisters are both smart and successful, one is a med student and the other is studying physics. Her parents are both CPAs. None of them care about Alice’s art or her dancing or her interests. These things are, according to Alice at least, treated as pointless hobbies or something to be taken away from her if her grades drop. They want her to give up her dreams and become like them, but then these same parents who don’t seem to care about any of her interests also seem to be paying for all those interests. She’s going to ballet classes, has adequate supplies for her art, and has the food around to make her bento boxes. It feels like something written by a fairly young writer venting about their own life. It could be a really good real world tie in to the main plot if more was done with it or if her family was written more sympathetically, but as is it doesn’t work.

My feelings on this book ultimately wind up being fairly meta. The writing itself does feel very fan fic-ish or, again, like it was written by someone either very young or just not used to writing. There are a ton of references to pop culture, particularly anime and manga, that can get really distracting and make the book feel weirdly dated. There’s some issues with the editing that could have used a second going over. There’s a lot of potential here and, with Mrs. Hoots having written several other books, I’d definitely give one of her other books a go. Plus a couple of the characters were a lot of fun if a little stock and I completely love a couple of the concepts used.

So, where does that leave me? While I’ve had a lot of issues with the book it didn’t leave me feeling like I’d wasted the time reading it. It isn’t good, but it shows a lot of potential and leaves me hoping it’s an older project that’s just not getting its turn or a genre the author isn’t entirely comfortable with. That all taken into consideration, I’m giving Trapped in Wonderland a two out of five with the note that it could be a solid three with more editing and some cuts.

Guest Post Dani Hoots

Alright everyone, I’ve got a guest post for you today from Dani Hoots, author of Trapped in Wonderland. Review for that will be up a little later today. Enjoy!

Thank you Lauren for letting me write a post about what drew me to the theme of Wonderland. I am very grateful to be here and hope that you and your followers enjoy my post.

 

I decided to write a piece based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because of my love for everything “mad”. Wonderland, to me, is a place where the misfits, the outcasts in society, those who are deemed “crazy” can be themselves. I grew up being bullied for being different and loving nerdy things, strange things, and I found myself always escaping to a different world in my mind. To me, Wonderland is a place just like that, so I found myself quoting and loving everything Wonderland.

 

Not only is it somewhere for us “mad” people, it is also a place where we aren’t expect to know where we are going. A lot of people don’t know what the future holds, and as the Cheshire Cat says, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”. I think this is a great quote to think about if you find yourself stuck. Just keep moving, keep pushing forward no matter where you are going. Sometimes we start to lose confidence and that is okay. Just keep fighting to fight that is life and you can find your way. 

 

These two themes that are present in Wonderland and are the main reasons I am so drawn to it. I also fell in love with the manga “Alice in the Country of Hearts”, which is based off of a Japanese love sim game (I’m a sucker for love sims, go ahead and judge me). A lot of ideas were inspired by that series and I definitely recommend it if you like manga or anything Wonderland-themed.

 

My favorite characters in Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland are the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter, which when you read the novel you will definitely see. The ironic and interesting thing is I found out after marrying my husband and started doing research of his ancestry, that his original name from Germany wasn’t “Hoots” but was in fact “Huth” which means “hat” in German. Their coat of arms is a white background with a black top hat and a big red heart on top of it. I literally married the Mad Hatter and I think that is wonderful.

 

I also think that all of us have a little Alice in us. I love adventure, and love to question everything. We just need to remember to keep our curiosity as we grow older. I think it is hard in today’s society, but it is really important. Curiosity definitely drives me to research and write, so I hope you all keep a little curiosity in whatever you do throughout life. 

 

So I hope you all enjoy my post and my novel Trapped in Wonderland. If you have any questions of comments, feel free to visit me on my Facebook page or my website.

 

So I Fell Off the World

Being gone since the first has not been intentional, as you all may have guessed. I’ve fallen into something of a weird place with reading where I’ve read several books and loads and loads of fanfic, and then just haven’t gotten around to wording about it. At least, I haven’t gotten around to wording about it online. I’m rather certain my roommates are tired of hearing about how fantastic that one fic is or how that novella could have done so much better if.

I’m going to work on fixing that, so you can all share in their torment.

Add on to that, I feel like I want to do a break down of the Fear Street Saga trilogy some time. Not another review mind, that would be a bit odd, just another going over going deeper into some of the issues I had with the books. Sort of a “I mentioned this but” thing.

Also, the Arcanium Unbounded review is still coming. So’s Christmas, but hey. My goal is to have that up within the week, so if I’m gone for another twenty days that’s what’s up.

Happy New Year

And after being gone for some time, I return to both my home and blogging. I’m hoping everyone has had a happy holidays, I certainly did. Family was great, haunts calmed down a bit, tiny monster was cuddly, general things. But now it’s a new year and time for new things and getting back on track.

This shouldn’t be much of a problem and, if it is, I will make it not much of a problem. Arcanum Unbounded is being enjoyable so far, I didn’t get as far into it as I would have liked but there you go.

There’s not a lot coming up soon beyond reviews, so if anyone has a suggestion I’m up for rambling about other forms of storytelling. There’s actually a couple posts I kind of want to write, but that I’m worried feel like retreading too much. Those may go up if I can find a way to write them that works for me for the blog. It’s mostly more about the Fear Street Saga and the short cuts used in service to the plot there and also more about Tracer’s girlfriend Emily and my feelings on her and how she could fit into the world for Overwatch. That second one’s going to have a fair amount to do with other fandoms I’ve been a part of in the past and fan reaction kind of stuff. I think it could be interesting but, my massive bias aside, I’m trying to patch together my whats and whys without just posting a plot skeleton for my own fanfic kinda deal.

So, yeah, if you want to see me ramble about stuff that isn’t directly books more or if you just want me to get back to reviewing already, let me know in the comments.

Something About a Girl

So, yesterday’s new Overwatch comic, Reflections, revealed that the series mascot Tracer is in a relationship with another woman. This is huge for a number of reasons, mostly related to how big the game is and that she is one of the more popular characters in it, but also because of how it was presented. Spoilers?

I’m kind of stalling on things to say here because a ton has already been said about this, but the big thing is that the comic itself doesn’t make a huge deal of it’s reveal. Tracer gets home, talks to someone off screen, oh hey off screen person is a girl. Then there’s a minor misunderstanding that turns out for the best, because plot contrivance, and they kiss. It’s a small moment in the comic, a series of them actually, but it makes a pretty massive impact because of what it is. And I think that’s the big thing here, Tracer being gay isn’t treated as an out of nowhere thing that shocks everyone in world, it’s a small moment at home and then on to the rest of the comic. Plus, since Emily seems pretty comfortable around Winston, the series resident PHD. gorilla, we can assume that this isn’t a new thing to anyone. Which is good.

Blizard has been teasing LGBT characters since forever, which takes a little omph out of it, but it’s also really good to see them not only making good on that but doing it in such a big way. I’ve got to repeat, Tracer is the face of Overwatch, the mascot, she’s been around since the announcement trailer. She’s the last character I would have expected, while also being one of the ones I really hoped for.

I am really hoping they do more with Emily as a character, preferably either making her playable some time down the road or having her show up a bit more in the lore. It’s nice that she exists, but I’m a little worried about what happens once the initial rush of excitement fades. Which makes this one of those places where I’m trying to put my pop culture expectations aside and just be happy about the reveal. Because when one of my co-workers told me about it, I about floated through the rest of my shift.

So, as the pun goes. Cheers love, the Calvary’s queer!