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Literary Sass

Friday, September 29, 2006

Another Bitch List

Just for the hell of it, I thought I'd run a bitch list about all the shit flying around the blogosphere these days.
How about the lovely controversy in the RWA? With everyone lining up with opinions about what "romance" is and talking about censorship.
Then, there was the banned book week. That brought more "censorship" issues to the forefront.
Now, there's more crap about what's appropriate on different sites. Some are dealing with what's appropriate and what's too hot.
Frankly, it all frustrates me. So, just for shits and giggles, I'm writing my little list. Paulo, my pool boy, is tired of me bitching to him. We have better things to do.

1. The constant reference to anything "hot" as "porn".
There's an element out there that's really against the erotic portions of books. Now, I agree there has to be a limit, but some of us need that shit when our pool boys get deported.

2. The absolute necessity for some people to have rigid definitions.
We're so fucking politically correct that sometimes we define EVERYTHING!! Fuck that shit. If someone wants to write about two women in a relationship, then I'll bet your ass someone wants to read it. If it's really that bad, no one will fucking buy it. Why do people have to cover their fucking asses all the time with "definitions". "This" is romance. Whatever. There are men who think a kiss and "You ready?" is romance. Let's get the fuck away from this shit.

3. The need for some to argue a point TO DEATH.
You know who I mean. The issue doesn't go their way. They have to blog and comment and blog and comment until the rest of us are ready to put a bullet in our brains. It's like a train wreck. You want to turn away. But you can't. And the shit just keeps on going. I hate that shit.

4 The Ambulance Chasers
You know these people too. LOVE controversy. They're the ones that keep it going when it's over. They keep bringing that shit up, not because they want to make a point (as in #3) but because they enjoy the fucking drama. Whatever. They wander around LOOKING for shit to stir up. Then they take a stick to whatever snake is hissing about it and start poking. Just for the fucking fun of it. I hate these people.

5. It's never going to change.
It's been going on for years. Everybody just has access to more shit now. Let's face it, moderation isn't en vogue these days. Soothing voices are often ignored for the more snarky stuff. It's ok. That's why I keep a bottle of Tequila and Paulo around. Sometimes it's just better to be numb.
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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

All Fired Up....


Title: Charly's Fire
Author: Bella Tyler
Published: Freya's Bower (2006)






Literary Sass Rating:


3 shots (Can't say it's bad, but I've had better)
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Unfortunately, that's precisely what doesn't happen with Bella Tyler's Charly's Fire. I just couldn't get emotionally attached to her characters, and without that connection, it was hard to care about what happened to them.

When she dipped into Charly's point of view deep enough for readers to get one liners like "Ms. Younger-Thinner-Better-in-bed", to describe her ex-husband's new girlfriend, there was a hint of someone likable. But Ms. Tyler didn't maintain this depth of point of view for long, and her descriptions weren't tinged with the same wry voice. In fact, there was a lot of 'telling' in these shorts, which made them struggle to be engaging.

In fact, Charly wasn't very likeable. She does the too-stupid-to-live thing of falilng asleep with candles burning. While I realise that people fall asleep with candles burning all the time, without any buildup explaining her utter exhaustion (12 hour shift at Walmart?) or an emotional reaction afterward (ala I can't believe I did that!) she just seemed like a self-absorbed, spoiled little rich girl. (Tra-la, I burned the living room down, I guess I'll go buy new furniture.)

Consistency issues bothered me: She wasn't once examined for smoke inhalation, shock, or any other medical condition. The fireman, after battling a fire in her house, rests his arm around her shoulders (no mention of a bulky coat, or the slimy mixture of ash and water...he's just wandering around in a Tshirt, I guess?)

And as Ms. Tyler was trying to set the scene of a woman watching her home go up in flames, and the utter terror that should be gripping her as she realises she could be inside--she starts imagining her Firefighter as a cowboy. It felt incongruous and out of place. If she'd imagined him with a halo and wings, carrying her to safety, it might have been less jarring.

The second story, while stronger, still didn't get me to like Charlie. He's so busy imagining Anna naked that it's hard to think of him as the chivalrous gentleman he pretends to be at the end of their date. The fact is, he's imagining her naked, not making a love connection. The descriptions of his lewd daydreams are given prominence over any dialogue the two may have had to cement an actual 'romance'.

I did, however, enjoy the way Ms. Tyler handled the conversation between Charlie and Anna at the beginning of the piece. She made a convincing case for Charlie meeting the Wrong Number Woman, without drawing out the explanations. That section was a deft piece of writing. Although the rest of the story didn't live up to the promise of that section, it suggests to me that Ms. Tyler has great potential.
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Burn it to the ground


Title: Charly's Fire
Author: Bella Tyler
Published: Freya's Bower (2006)








Literary Sass Rating

4 shots (Drunk off my ass to read this crap)

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Charly goes to sleep with a candle lit and finds her whole living room on fire. She scrambles out onto the grass and gets lugged arounf by a cowboy/fireman. Apparently, he's got one hell of a swagger. No one checks to see if Charly has smoke inhalation, and she gets all hot and bothered by the fireman who dumps her into a cab to a hotel.

Charly has an OCD ex-husband that makes an entrance, but nothing ever happens with his story line. He just cleans up the mess. There's the one night stand misunderstandings all is hashed out and then, poof, end of story.

The second story is about Charlie, a fireman who keep getting bitch-out-the-boyfriend wrong phonecalls from a chick with a sexy voice. They meet in a cafe and he discovers she's a girl he went to high school with. They chat for hours and then she takes him home and shags him. The End.

The main problem with Charly's Fire is that it had no fire. The writing was flat and uninspired, and Ms. Tyler never took the reader that deep into her character's emotions. Most of the book had serious show vs. tell issues. I just wasn't impressed. I was never engaged by the characters or the stories. I only managed to make it through because Literary Sass broke out the whip. She's a slave driver, that one.
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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Bitch Is A Fool Over "Fortune's Fool"




Title: Fortune's Fool
Author: Sara Dennis
Published: Cobblestone Press(2006)








Literary Sass Rating:

1 shot (A toast to a great book)
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Ms. Dennis is making a name for herself in the "nice" romance department. In "Fortune's Fool" she covers both the heavy emotion of a mother dealing with a son who is accidentally shot and the slightly lighter emotions of new passion discovered. Valerie Torturro and Dylan Graves meet when she's speeding to the hospital with her wounded son. Dylan is the officer who ends up trying to pull her over for reckless driving. The sight of blood and her wounded boy bring back horrible memories of the death of his brother three years earlier. With this beginning, both of them begin a journey of romance and reluctance that the writer gives a gentle touch.
The story is less about passion than the acceptance the two characters need from each other and themselves. Best of all, Ms. Dennis gives just as careful attention to her secondary characters. If you're looking for hot sex and quick release, this ain't the book for you. The story is focused on the romance and conflicts that effect REAL people.
Maybe that's why I loved this story. It seemed real, but without being rude and ugly. Damn it, she did it again. Ms. Dennis, you're giving yourself a reputation for old style romance in a world of the titilating.
Here's to you, Ms. Dennis. And it's no waste of Whiskey.
One shot, baby.
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The Wench Wasn't Fooled




Title: Fortune's Fool
Author: Sara Dennis
Published: Cobblestone Press(2006)








Literary Sass Rating:

2 shots (Bottoms up, this is good shit)
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Let it be said, when Ms. Dennis makes it into print, and I wholeheartedly say it will happen, I will be the first to purchase this talented lady's writing. Every time I picked up Fortune's Fool, I was drawn right back into the story. The characters are so in depth, so emotionally charged and "visible", I couldn't help being sucked into the story. Her writing is mature and smooth, articulate and balanced.

Fortune's Fool is a contemporary story overall with real-to-life hardships of being a single mother, the widow of a policeman killed in the line of duty. Valerie is strong and vulnerable at the same time, moving forward with cautious steps back into the world of the living, by first moving from L.A., to then set up her own business in her new town.

When disaster strikes, it strikes hard and fast. It hits so close to home, that all at once she's bombarded with the emotional and physical backlash and falls apart at the hospital. Not unbelievable in the least.

Dylan is the man in the story, and again, he's so well drawn, you feel his pain from the outset. He's also very community active and you get to meet his other side, the personality without the badge. And he's damn likeable.

Now before I gush too much and give away too much about the story, it's time to get serious. There were a few things that didn't work with me. First off, there's an epiphany moment for Valerie, where she's explaining and feeling hurt. She's moved on with no help and feels Dylan is criticizing her. (He's not.) The reason I bring this up is because it took me three days to figure out that's what that epiphany was. Whether my synapses weren't firing at the right moment or not, who knows. I can only drink so much coffee in a day. But it didn't come across at THAT moment and left me feeling the "What the hell was that?" as I left it behind.

Second. There's a lot of interaction with Dylan, Valerie and her son, Kyle. We see the friendships building, we see Dylan and Kyle, but we never actually get Valerie's opinion on what she believes her son would feel, think, etc. when she invites Dylan for the night, or how her son might react to having a male figure brought into their world. She brushes it off with mild concern. Personally, if she had been alone for those years, her focus would be deeper on her son than her own pesonal needs of the moment, especially since at that point, the future between these two was still up in the air.

Third... heh... There's not a third but I thought I'd make you look.

Ms. Dennis, Bottom's Up. This is good shit!!!
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Price is Right


Title: The Cost of Loyalty
Author: F. Foxx
Published: Freya's Bower (2006)








Literary Sass Rating:

2 shots (Bottoms up, this is good shit)

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I went into this story expecting a romance. I didn't get one. I got historical fiction with some sex. And it was some good shit. I liked this one. The writing was awesome, lush and detailed for such a short work.

The Cost of Loyalty had two related teensy-short stories set during the Vietnam War. The first is about Johnny, who loses the love of his life, a Red Cross worker. He goes AWOL to view her body and then gets captured by the Vietcong, seduced by a woman into remaining in one place too long. The result is disastrous.

The second story is about Johnny's best friend Rob, who is faced with court martial for covering for Johnny's abscence. Thinking he has nothing left to lose, he goes to find out what happened to his missing best friend. He is ensnared by the same woman who captured Johnny, but fares better.

I have to admit I was a bit freaked out by the fact that both heroes shagged the same woman, who basically whored herself on both of them.

I'm not telling you any more, you'll have to read it to learn how it all turns out in the end. Just remember, this ain't romance, so don't expect a happy ever after.




(This book also reviewed by Literary Sass)
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It cost me my loyalty...


Title: The Cost of Loyalty
Author: F. Foxx
Published: Freya's Bower (2006)








Literary Sass Rating:

2 shots (Bottoms up, this is good shit)

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This pair of short stories weren't quite what I expected. For some reason, I thought because they were short, they wouldn't be emotionally gruelling. Perhaps some nice light reading.

I was wrong.

Despite the fact they were short, the subject matter and setting (the Vietnam War) had me tense from the first page. Mr. Foxx conveys the fear and determination of these soldiers.

I had the definite impression, while reading, that these were stories written by a man, which actually increased the gut-wrenching effect of the romantic elements. It was hard to think of Johnny's feelings as anything but honest. Realistic. The bittersweet endings of these two stories were unforgettable, and I have to admit that I found msyelf thinking everyone deserved better, even the never-seen Georgia.

The scene-setting in the first story took longer than I would have liked, suggesting that perhaps Mr. Foxx has it in him to write some truly wonderful longer works. I found myself truly liking and respecting Rob, which surprised me. Should he choose, Mr. Foxx has a tortured hero for a sequel to these shorts. (Perhaps even in that longer work I think he can write?)

Even if he chooses not to write that book in particular, I find myself looking forward to more work from Mr. Foxx in the future.




(This book also reviewed by Lit Wit)
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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Bitch Bitches the Blessing



Blessing of the Storm
by Stella and Audra Price
Mardi Gras Publishing 2006





Literary Sass Rating:

3 shots (Can't say it's bad, but I've had better)
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This quick read by the Price sisters isn't up to their usual standard. The story is unique and romantic. Sinclair is a "genie" trapped in a Persian rug. Nora inherits the rug from her aunt and Sinclair has one month with her. The genie is sent in the rug to meet the one woman who will use one of the three wishes granted to her to free him.

The sex scenes, as in every Price story, are fantastic. The complaint I had was the romance in itself. There didn't seem to be the connection between them that justified the love they felt for each other. Great fucking does lead to love on occasion, but Sinclair seemed a goner right off the bat. The only reason I could see for that is that Nora fucked him five minutes after she met him. That seemed unreasonable to me.

It's more likely that if a great looking, naked man rolled out of a rug, a woman would be dialing 911 and demanding more answers that Nora did. That unbelievability made the rest of the story a bit "ho hum" for me. All the romance was lost for me when Nora jumped into having fabulous sex with a genie whose primary purpose seemed to be to sexually service his "master".

Don't get me wrong. As always, the Price's wrote a compelling tale. In this case, however, I would have liked to see a little less of the fucking and more of the dialogue between them. All the romance was "thought" about, not shown to us.
So, bottom line? Great idea, great sex, confusing motives. I didn't hate it, but it wasn't one I'd reread again.

Wasn't bad but I've had better. Three shots.



(This book also reviewed by Literary Sass)
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Not the tempest I expected...


Blessing of the Storm
by Stella and Audra Price
Mardi Gras Publishing 2006






Literary Sass Rating:

3 shots (Can't say it's bad, but I've had better)
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What to do when a hunky genie grants you three wishes, and only one month to use them all?

That's the premise of the story Blessing of the Storm, in a nutshell. So, Sinclair isn't a genie, he's an Ifrit, but the distinction between the two is never sufficiently explained, unless it was simply that Sinclair was bound to a carpet instead of a lamp.

Despite the inherent possibilities of this premise, Blessings never quite managed to catch me up into its promised whirlwind. The prologue was almost too-deliberately vague, with the promise that the things that didn't make sense now, would soon. And they did, but almost too late for me to be enraptured with the story. By the time I understood what had happened in the prologue, it was too late for it to be emotionally haunting, as it probably should have been.

While there is a profusion of sex and thoughts of love in this story, Sinclair has a vested interest in falling in love from the start. His very survival, in fact. Knowing that, it is hard to find his attraction to Nora as very romantic; more like self-preservation than love.

Nora's fall into love is slightly more graceful, although she is rather quick to jump into bed with the strange naked man who unrolls from a carpet in her aunt's storeroom. With never a thought that he might have escaped the local insane assylum, and with no concern at all when he teleports them through the house, Nora is a very passive character. She just lets stuff happen to her and smiles through it all.

That earlier prologue? That was Clara, Nora's aunt, who sends Sinclair back to his carpet when she realises that she's not the one for him. This doesn't mean they haven't had their share of each other, though, something that personally felt a little bit of wrong when he starts in on her niece. Again, Nora doesn't seem to think anything of it, but I should have expected that from her.

Then, of course, there was The Catch. Like the Disney version of Aladdin, one good wish would release Sinclair. But Nora has to figure out what the wish is. On her own.
Fortunately, Aunt Clara left Nora some clues in the form of a rare book about Ifrit. Left on her own, Nora would probably have doomed Sinclair to whatever death is dished out to Ifrit, and burned the carpet as he requested when their time was up.

I was surprised that the book lacked the usual 'in your face' attitude of much of the Price sister's work. From what we've read from them so far, they seem to enjoy stretching the boundaries of a readers comfort zone. (Weresnakes, anyone?) Not only that, this one had awkward phrasing and flat dialogue that I'm only hoping were tweaked in editting. (We had the advance review copy, which often means uneditted.)

I have to give this one three shots. Sorry, girls.


(This book also reviewed by Bibliophile Bitch)
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