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review 2015-12-19 18:42
The Boys on the Mountain
The Boys on the Mountain - John Inman

No rating for this one. I'm not using spoiler tags because this dreck doesn't deserve it.

 

I've never read a horror story before, and after finishing this one, I still don't think that I have. It wasn't at all scary. I've seen episodes of Buffy and X-Files and Supernatural that are way scarier than anything that happens here. It actually reminded me a lot of the S4 Buffy episode "Where the Wild Things Are". IOW, it's a big hot mess.

 

First, if you're at all squeamish about child abduction, rape, molestation, torture and murder - skip this book. I only started the first such section of these scenes until I had to skip over it, and then automatically skipped over all the others that came after. They're way too detailed and told from the POVs of both the victim and the murderer. That's not horror, that's disgusting and unnecessary. There are plenty of other ways to get that information across without putting us in the kids' heads. Like, how about Jim dreaming all that crap is happening to him, and later realizing that's what the boys went through? On top of that, you have a bunch of gay men drooling over their ghosts, because what's hotter than murdered children? Oh, I know, a big child ghost orgy, that's what.

 

As for the rest, this is one of those horror stories that requires all the characters, including the supposedly smart ones, to be too stupid to live and ignore all common sense. That includes the horror writer who writes ghost stories for a living. I'm rather skeptical as to this guy's supposed literary success for even putting himself in that house to begin with - and buying it - and then stupidly inviting all his friends. None of these guys have the brains to fight their way out of a paper bag, and I honestly didn't care one lick about any of them. I was actually kind of rooting for them to die. Unfortunately, none of them did. Then the resolution to the hauntings didn't even require any of them to be there. Like, what was even the point of all this?

 

About halfway through, I started skimming because I was so bored and just wanted to see how this would eventually be resolved. This story was very disjointed, like it couldn't make up it's mind if it wanted to be a gay weekend getaway or a disturbed attempt to sensationalize sex crimes. It was also way too long, way too many words. It could've easily been half its length and probably been better for it. There were way too many gay stereotypes - I think every single one was used - and the use of horror tropes was boring and uninspired. I liked the gay weekend getaway part of the book but everything else was meh to disgusting.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-11-10 06:06
The Garconniere (aka What a mess)
The Garçonnière - Ali MacLagan

TW: racism, racial stereotypes and slurs, exploitation of slavery, violence against slaves, including slave children, white savior trope, non-con/rape, race fail, Stockholm Syndrome, PTSD, etc etc etc.

 

I read this because of the discussion that is centered around this book on Goodreads. I felt it necessary in order to fully engage in that discussion, as I didn't want to be stuck saying "I haven't read it but so-and-so said." I'm not going to go into all the details about why this book is so offensive or why the MMRG's reaction to the controversy was so disheartening. Several others have already done that. Just a few can be found here, or here, or here or here. There is a group discussion here about this book that I urge everyone to read. Instead, I'm going to focus on the story structure itself in order to try to explain why this is the most unbelievable book I've ever read.

 

This entire story is, at best, an extremely misplaced and watered down version of the "Boy From the Wrong Side of the Tracks" trope, set not in contemporary America where it would at least make some sense, but set in the American south just before the Civil War. At worst, this is epic race fail, seeing history through the filter of white privilege tinted-glasses, and an overly simplistic view of the times that created the atrocity that was the American slave trade. I found an article on slavery on Wikipedia that I think the author must've used as her jumping off point, and then failed to do any other research about what that time period was actually like for the slaves who had to live through it. There were attempts, I'll give her that much, but... look, let's just get to it, shall we?

 

First, this book expects us to be believe that Henry, the son of a slave-owner on a plantation in Louisiana, reached the tender age of 5 without ever once hearing the n-word until a black boy (Joseph) wandered (yes, wandered) into his room and called himself by that word. We're then expected to believe that the very first instance of violence against slaves this fragile 5-year old witnessed was when a slave woman comes into the room, finds Joseph in there - eating cake that Henry offered to share - and told Joseph to go find himself a switch. Yes. The first instance of oppression and violence against slaves Henry witnesses is enacted by the slaves themselves. Forget that there's no way in hell Joseph would leave his mother's side to go roaming around the Big House at will so this innocent introduction (the cake eating) of our MCs can happen in the first place. Forget that Henry grew up on this planation surrounded by slaves, his bigoted father and hired men, and that he can see what goes on in the cotton fields just by looking out any window in the house, and that he'd already be learning some rather bigoted views of those slaves. Forget also that the n-word wasn't the controversy it is today and people said it all the time and didn't consider it a bad word to shield a child's ears from. Forget also that the more commonly used word was "Negro" (not that that's any better than the n-word mind you, but it does make me wonder why the n-word was used exclusively). This entire scenario of how Henry and Joseph met and became "friends" is ridiculous. 

 

Second, we're expected to believe that Joseph and Henry would sneak off to play in the woods and one of the slaves (Old Val) was instrumental in helping them to do this. Val just wants them all to be happy. (Val's behavior later on in the book stretches believability even more.) We're also supposed to believe that the other slaves who we meet are so comfortable in their surroundings that they blithely tell Henry what to do, where to sit, tell him he's silly, etc. Yeah. That's not how it worked.

 

Third, we're expected to believe that a man who would willfully and hatefully beat a woman and her toddler over grief of his own daughter's passing, and then sold the mother so she would never see her children again, would for some reason stop the beating when Henry woke up. This indicates that his father is aware that his behavior is wrong, and his father is not aware of this. His father considers his slaves chattel, property. He feels justified in treating them this way and wouldn't think twice about it just because Henry's there. It felt like the narrative wanted the reader to believe this was an isolated event. That the events similar to this that Joseph remembers from the previous plantation where he lived couldn't possibly happen here. That's why Henry later on believes that Joseph is somehow supposed to be safer on his planation than the one Joseph was leased to for a couple of months while Henry was out of town. That's why Henry is later so astounded that his father ordered Joseph to be whipped. Because Henry's that sheltered and that naive and, frankly, that blinded to the ways of the world in which he grew up. We're also expected to sympathize with this horrible father later in the book when he bursts into tears over his shattered life. 

 

Fourth, we're expected to believe that Joseph is happy with his life so long as he has Henry as a friend. There are a few scant and insufficient attempts to address the psychological damage of being raised a slave, but they were not enough to convince me the author gave it any real thought. Where is the examination of PTSD? Of Stockholm Syndrome, since that's clearly what is happening here? No, instead, they're portrayed as ordinary boys just being regular old friends, so that when the "romance" comes in later, we won't have to stop and think if Joseph is actually saying yes because he wants to say yes or if he's saying yes because of a lifetime of oppression that trained him to say yes to anything any white person demanded of him. (I skipped all those sex scenes as I just couldn't stomach them at all.)

 

Fifth, we're expected to believe the oh so convenient Hallmark ending when Henry finds out he's actually the owner of the plantation and all those slaves, removes his father from power, decides to pay his slaves (because that'll make everything better), and then selfishly takes off to France with Joseph and his sister so they don't have to deal with the very war that'll ensure the freedom of all slaves, not just Henry's most favorite ones. But hey, he did thank a couple of them for a job well done, so that clearly makes up for a lifetime of enslavement. And we're expected to believe that Joseph and his sister just agree to take off without once at least mentioning finding their mother. Nope, she's forgotten along with all the others. But our MCs are together in France, free to live together (even though this is still mid-1800s and being gay is still totally illegal), so happy ending?

 

Anyway, I'm sure I'm already forgetting a thousand and one others reasons why this book is so unbelievable. The violence was there only for sensationalism and not to be a real examination of the atrocity faced by slaves. All their problems are solved by a boat ride over the ocean. How convenient.

 

You know what's even more depressing? Out of the hundreds of stories written for the Don't Read in the Closet event in the last three years, only 29 of them are tagged as interracial. And one of them was this one. Another was about an unprofessional cop who was the epitome of the Angry Black Man stereotype. That doesn't leave much in the way of potential positive representation of POC.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-08-13 04:32
The Long Way Home
The Long Way Home - Z.A. Maxfield

The Long Way Home, by ZA Maxfield

 

TW: death of a pet, discussion of abduction and murder of children, ableism, homophobia, domestic violence, abduction, violence (attempted murder/torture, murder)

 

So if you follow me on GR, you may have noticed I did a lot of status updates while reading this one. That's what happens when I'm bored, unfortunately. I had several issues with this book, so let's get the good out of the way first.

 

I liked the idea of this book much better than its execution. I liked Kevin and Connor for the most part. They were far from perfect characters and they both had issues to work through. I liked that the author explored what happens when someone first becomes psychic and how they adapt or don't adapt to that. And even though it was super obvious who the villain was the second he walked onto the page, up to then, it was an interesting case that connected to Connor's past somehow. Of course, if Kevin had just once shaken this man's hand, he would've figured it out who the perp was way sooner and the book could've been 50 pages shorter.

 

Which leads me to my first issue. I'm going to limit myself to my three biggest issues, and from this point on, it's safe to say that spoilers abound.

 

1) The editing, or complete lack thereof

 

This is just sloppy. There are incomplete sentences. There are missing words, and not just the inconsequential article or preposition here or there, but important words that denote action or emotion or even who is supposed to be speaking. The scenes jump around. One minute, Kevin is sitting down to eat breakfast. There's a couple of lines of dialogue, then Kevin is getting up to wash his dirty dishes. Um... when did he eat? In another scene, Connor is waiting for an ambulance for Kevin. There's a line about how he didn't want to let go of Kevin's hand. Note that this line comes immediately after Connor had been to the door. I had to go back and reread the previous two pages in that scene. There is no mention of Connor ever taking Kevin's hand prior to that line. These are just a few examples, and that's just the first 25% of the book.

 

On top of that, the book gets repetitive fast. Connor wakes up and goes for a run. Kevin makes breakfast. Connor comes back. They eat. They shower. (They do a lot of showering in this book. It's an obsession of theirs. I'm blaming the drought on them.) Connor takes Kevin to a crime scene, then they go back to his place and Kevin does his psychic thing and something goes wrong. Lather, rinse, repeat. As such, the plot just sort of plods along and feels like it never really gets anywhere. They keep saying they need to hurry up and catch the killer, but it takes Kevin several days to through all the evidence boxes this way. 

 

There's also this weird thing where Connor is constantly said to have just "turned gay" despite it being revealed very early on that he was in a same-sex relationship in high school and having all kinds of "normal" sex with this person. But he's suddenly new to it and never slept with another guy before. Um... how so? And while I won't categorize this as insta-sex or insta-love - they don't have sex or fall in love upon first seeing other - the love does come on very suddenly and out of nowhere. There is no chemistry at all between the leads, and I can't tell if this comes back to the editing issues or if it's a case of too much telling and not enough showing. I just didn't feel it, and I started skipping their sex scenes (nearly all of which happen in the shower) about halfway through. (I also would not recommend zip tying someone to a shower head unless you've got the money to pay for the repairs when that shower head inevitably gets yanked from the wall. Just don't do it. There are plenty other, safer, less expensive things you can zip tie someone to. IJS. The shoes are a good idea though. Less slippery that way.)

 

And for those of you who hate "baby" - Kevin calls Connor "pretty baby." Repeatedly. Yuck.

 

2) BDSM-extra-lite vs domestic violence

 

This one is confusing because I have no idea what the author is trying to do here or why certain scenes are included or written the way they are.

 

First of all, yes, Kevin, you need a safe word. If someone tells you that you don't need a safe word, you should run the other direction.

 

Second of all, we know that Kevin is seeing into Connor's dreams and knows what Andrew meant to Connor. He also knows that Connor was in a relationship with a woman named Cheryl. Kevin has expressed nothing but support of Connor's situation. Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he decides to complain about Connor "always" talking about Andrew and Cheryl and how he doesn't want to hear about the other people in Connor's life. After he slaps Connor. Who then slaps him back. And instead of discussing this, they go back to talking as if nothing happened. It was a very strange, disjointed scene, and I'm not sure why it was even included. Was it an attempt to get some conflict into the text? Was it supposed to be hot? 

 

Third of all, during one of Kevin's endless discussions about how Connor is so new to this and Kevin wants to give him space to figure it all out by going home to Wyoming when the case is over, Connor comes up and punches him in the face, then takes off. This is never discussed between them. Connor has a brief thought about getting anger management classes, but this is never mentioned again. Kevin doesn't even think to make this a condition of returning to Connor's home. Then again, it's also not a condition for Kevin leaving Connor's home. Instead, Kevin has this lovely little conversation with James, a former friends-with-benefits. Kevin is the first speaker; James is the second:

 

"Right. So what if one day, just for the hell of it or because I get really, really mad I hauled off and kicked [my dog] across the room? What do you think she'd do then?"

 

"She'd wait a while and come back and lick your hand, because she's a dog. And you will love her all the more for it and it will make you a better person."

 

First, James is a veterinarian. He needs to have his license taken away. Second, you just compared Kevin to a dog. Third, are you trying to say that an abused person should go back to their abuser because love is blind and conquers all, and it helps the abuser be a better person? Are you serious? Kevin, you have terrible friends. 

 

Immediately after this heartfelt scene of warm and cozies, Connor shows up unannounced to take Kevin home (ahhhh, how romantic!) and proceeds to wonder if he should whip Kevin into submission for ignoring him for so many months. Um... please work out your domestic violence issues before getting back into your BDSM-extra-lite lifestyle, guys. Please! These are very non-mixey things.

 

I'm just really baffled what the author's intentions here were. If it was to highlight that there is a difference between BDSM and domestic abuse, she gets no points for it because the DV is barely addressed and in no way resolved. 

 

3) Ableism

 

I put these in my status updates on GR as I was reading:

 

Connor had started the rumor that his friend has post- traumatic-stress disorder so no one would think he brought a crackhead to a family outing. He'd giving just the right touch of rolled eyes and made an allusion to the World Trade Center attack of September eleventh.

 

And this one:

 

"It's the eye and the psychic thing. Don't get me wrong, Quinn. I'm trying to work through it here, but I think I speak for all of us when I say... Ew."

 

I don't even know where to start with these. PTSD is a very real mental illness that afflicts people every day. You do NOT get to eye roll at them, and you certainly do not get to use the victims of 9/11 as an excuse for Kevin acting strangely. You know what else would've explained Kevin's behavior, been perfectly honest, not revealed any secrets about his psychic abilities and NOT been disrespectful to the victims of 9/11 and those who suffer PTSD? Saying something like, "Kevin was in a car accident a few years ago and sometimes still has symptoms." That's all you had to say, Connor. What grown person EYE ROLLS at people with PTSD? WTF? And "crackhead"? Can we not?

 

As for that second lovely quote, that is said by a detective who is presented as someone who is FRIENDLY and SUPPORTIVE of Kevin. I'm at a loss for words for how harmful and foul that is, but I'll try. First, in a strictly professional capacity, you don't say "ew" to people you work with and who are consulting on cases. (I won't even get into the Fed who slanders Kevin for being both gay and a "freak" psychic, because I will start seeing red). You don't say "ew" to people with a physical disability, like a dead eye, or a missing limb, or facial paralysis or in whatever fashion they're being "othered" - YOU JUST DO NOT DO THAT. And you certainly can't expect for me to root for that character and the MC to become besties because she's able to get over her gross out factor to shake his hand. It was this line, and many, many others besides, that convinced me all these characters are based on twelve-year olds. 

 

4) I know I said top three, but I realized I had one more thing that bugged me that I need to address, and it was Himself, Kevin's dad. After Kevin's accident and his mother's death (which are unrelated but happened around the same time), Kevin's dad said something extremely homophobic to his son and blamed him for his mother's death because he's gay. Kevin then rightly decided to cut ties. SIX YEARS LATER, at the time this book is taking place, Connor convinces Kevin to go to family dinner for Christmas Eve with Himself. During this dinner, they reconcile, which is nice and all, don't get me wrong. I think both sets of parents respond fairly well here to their sons' relationship. However, while Himself was berating Kevin for having the gall to believe what Himself said, it's never once brought up that Himself also had plenty of time to approach Kevin and apologize for his deplorable behavior. No, instead, the narrative almost seemed to be placing the blame on Kevin for how long it was between his mom's funeral and he and his father's reconciliation. Screw that.

 

For the sake of the word count, I will stop now. I still can't figure out a rating for this one, so I'm leaving it unrated.

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text 2015-07-04 05:44
Halfway through the year already!!

I came across a post today by Kitty Horror, and i thought what an excellent idea! so i wanted to do something similar. Just to help boost my mood.



My top 5 reads for the first half of 2015!

I haven't read all that many so this isn't as hard as it should be....

burn for me

Burn For Me is another fantastic book written by the Ilona Andrew's team. who doesn't love the husband and wife duet? their work is gold!
In this book we have families with strong magic powers fighting for control, and some poor innocent standby's in the cross hairs either trying to stay out of the way or trying to do whats right. Lots of fantastic world building and an incredible character cast. 5 stars.

The girl with all the gifts

The Girls with all the Gifts was simply incredible. i fell into the world and didn't come up for air until it was complete. this book has a deep look into the meaning of being human. And if human beings are really as 'human' as they believe? also it had zombie's which i loved! 4.5 stars

 

Naked In Death

Naked in Death was an excellent start to a new to me series. We have some series sick serial killers, an excellent cop who has some struggles of her own to get through and some pretty badass world building - they don't even have access to normal coffee!? crazy right!? i just loved all the simple changes that made this world so different. 4 stars.

 

The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind has definitely been my all time favorite epic/high fantasy book! it took me a little bit to get into it, but once i did i had a blast! some of the characters just simply blew my mind! and the dialect between them <3 Really this book is about how a simple boy can grow into one of the most feared and talked about legends of all time, and I'm glad i get to experience that journey. even if its 800+ pages long and he's still only a teenager at the end..... on to the next one! 4 stars.

 

I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers was an incredible story about a boy who grew up with his serial killer father, he knows the tricks of the trade. Now his father has been caught and everyone thinks Jazz will be the next killer, or could it be someone else is killing the locals?
We get this gut wrenching story of a teenage boy confused about who he is in life and his motives behind all his action, someone who has to constantly second guess themselves so they don't slip up and prove the town right - that he is just like his father. This is definitely a must read book - if you haven't yet run out and grab it! 4.5 stars?


 

Worst book of 2015 so far!
now this was a REALLY difficult choice....

 

Green

This was a monstrosity of a book, the things that happened within these pages still make me shudder, though i must admit to it having its moments, the world building for starts was great! and the different cultures and people was excellent, i could of loved this book if the other stuff just wasn't so terrible.

Though this book was a close runner up......

 

Jane Erye

Just no. No. Terrible.

Source: katem.booklikes.com/post/1195549/6-months-down-and-6-to-go
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text 2015-02-08 15:48
well..... that did not go like i expected.
Green - Jay Lake

Have you read this monstrosity of a book? at times it is beyond fucked up it blows my mind that i actually managed to finish Green, let me tell you it wasn't easy, there was much struggle and will power involved. I'm not saying this is a bad story, or really completely unrealistic, I know in certain parts of the world similar stuff to what was in this book occurs, but it was just... so difficult to read and accept. I was constantly asking myself why? why continue reading? the answer is I'm a stubborn bitch and i was determined to finish this damn thing, no matter how unpleasant it was at times.

Now forget what i just said, let me tell you the world JL has created was pretty amazing, i absolutely loved exploring the different cultures and races. learning how different they were to each other. The characters... well they were interesting and unique, i despised pretty much all of them, but they were certainly something.
I wasn't super keen on the writing style, and that caused me a bit of issue's at the beginning, slipping from future to past, and 3rd POV all in one paragraph took a while to get the hang of. Plus JL apparent need for extreme descriptions on everything drove me slightly bonkers, yes i get it, most fantasy lovers crave that, such a detailed world, me personally.... well i could of used less detail.

So with all that done and out of the way, I'll just let you know i won't be giving this book a rating, from the sheer unpleasant-ness that occurred on occasion, in saying that this book doesn't deserve a low rating just because of it either, i managed to read it, if it was completely horrendous i wouldn't of bothered.
So for now it shell remain un-starred.
I almost definitely won't be continuing the next book.

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