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Literary Sass

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Dreaded Tequila Worm Awards

So, it's Halloween and what better way to celebrate than to scare the crap out of our fave (and not so fave) authors? Yeah, I really couldn't think of anything either. So without much ado, here they go:





Most memorable book Litsass Received in the year 2006 goes to M.E. Ellis for her book Pervalism. Perhaps not reflected by her reviews, this book hasn't been out of my mind since I read it. Good Job Ms. Ellis. (I'd also like to note that Ms. Ellis is also the classiest recipient we had of a controversial review.)




Although I bemoan the fact we have few commentors and many lurkers, there was one woman we could count on every time to give us a nod, smile, wink or just a hello. Amie Stuart, you are litsass's own Ms. Congeniality





Just to make life difficult, I asked each of the Sassychicks their Favorite Read:

BB's pick: Souljar by Jennifer Colgan
BW's pick: Waking the Shadows by Elisabeth Drake
LS's Pick: Once in a Blue Moon by Celia Stuart
LW's Pick: Cost of Loyalty: C. Fox
WW's Pick: Dragon Undone: Sara Dennis

(I've created awards for each of these 'staff picks', if you're interested in having yours for promotional purposes, please leave a comment and I will email them out.)

But we know you're all waiting for the last two:

The Best and Worst reads of 2006


Literary Sass's Favorite Read of the Year (based on which reviews gave the most favorable impression of the story and the reader's reaction to it) is...

SoulJar by Jennifer Colgan.


And now for the final award. The one you've all been afraid of: The Tequila Worm Award for the worst piece of shit we had inflicted on us this year:



There was a little bickering about who should have the honours, but the reviews speak for themselves. Stella and Audra Price have garnered this treasure for their Afterverse Anthology. Uneditted and uncut doesn't work for us.

Thanks for comin' out for the party.
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Monday, October 30, 2006

Tomorrow's Halloween

What better day to host the Tequila Worm Awards?

Stay tuned tomorrow for the Tequila Worms, Litsass's answer to the Pulitzer.
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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Slow Burn left the Wench cold


Slow Burn
Madison Chase
Cobblestone Press, 2006







Literary Sass Rating:

3 shots (Can't say it's bad, but I've had better)
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It looks like I'm going to get to really fucking rant over a book.

I like Madison Chase's writing. What I didn't like was the flow of the story. First of all, Crystal Reed is a virgin, who also happens to be a librarian. Okay, can go there. But... Yeah, you know there had to be a but...

She's also stripper....

Um, I shortcircuited on that. Her naivete in the beginning of the story didn't blend with her stripper facade at all. I was shocked to find out that she was a virgin, and sexually uneducated. At anything. For a late twenties woman of the world... Didn't feel believable.

Then there's the MAN. Garrett Vartan. He was hot, charming, came across as absolutely drool-worthy. And a gentleman to boot. I know this is a short story, and erotic, but there was very little... Correction. No buildup to a sexual relationship other than they were hot for each other and got it going on, in less than a day. If she's a virgin, would she be so fast to jump in the sack because she's hot for a man for the first time since her last boyfriend, who apparently didn't do anything but be an adulterous ass on her?

The plot of the story again, felt short lived. They meet, screw, time passes, conflict, argument, make up, the end.

I'm very interested in Ms. Chase's writing and will look for more, even though this one left me cold.

Can't say it's bad, but I've had better.
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Slow Burn gave me the Warm Fuzzies


Slow Burn
By:Madison Chase
Publisher: Cobblestone Press, 2006







Literary Sass Rating:

2 shots (Bottoms up, this is good shit)

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There isn't a whole lot to this story--no car chases or murders, no mayhem or anything. Just a sort of typical boy-meets-girl-who-happens-to-be-a-librarian-turned-stripper-turned-author story.

Now, first off, I thought Ms. Chase did a pretty good job of mixing experience and innocence in her main character, Crystal. Even the outfit she wears at the start is sexy, but in a little-girl pink. The opening few pages completely set up the 'not what it appears' theme that runs through the book.

The problem for me was that there was too much of that conflict and contrast going on in one damn book.

Reading just Garrett's dialogue, for example, in the first chapter--he sounds like a total prick. And then if you read the description parts, Crystal's all about how he's saying this in a tone of voice that makes his statements innocuous. In fact, compared to other radio interviewers, he was a god. (I had to wonder if the fact he looked like Superman and not the Simpson's comic-book-guy was the real reason for her belief he wasn't a lecherous old man.)

It just got where I found it hard to believe. Not just with Garrett's dialogue vs. tone--there's his good looks vs. personality--her good looks vs her naivete--her serious nature vs. stripping--It got where nothing was what it seemed, and while I liked the idea of a theme, it was maybe a bit overdone.

Does that mean I don't like the book? No. Actually, it wasn't all that bad. I kinda liked Crystal and Garrett, and I did gasp when the big conflict happened. I think maybe Ms. Chase just needed a little less 'not what it appears' going on to allow readers to really connect with the characters and the story.

I don't think readers are going to be disappointed with this one, but I really would have liked a little less of the 'not quite what it seems' going on myself.
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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Story with Soul.


"The Soul Jar"
by Jennifer Colgan
New Concepts Publishing
2006




Literary Sass Rating:

1 shot (A toast to a great book)
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Bree and Chance both have to steal the same priceless artifact for equally important reasons. Chance needs it to ransom his friend, who will be killed unless he delivers. Bree needs it to save her own butt from ending up in jail.

But Chance is dead.

Or at least that's what he's let Bree believe for two years, despite being her lover and partner in crime at the time.

And the Souljar itself is more than it seems, being sought for more than its aesthetic and monetary value.

This is a story of romance, revenge, and the impossibility of defeating true love. With the romantic action-hero edge of Indiana Jones, I found myself half in love with Chance myself. (I also found myself wishing I had a more recent comparison than Indiana Jones, but I don't get out much.)

What more can I say? Ms. Colgan's characters charm and beguile their way into your heart even as they're taking on the mob, the FBI, and an Ancient Egyptian curse. A heartstopping, heartwrenching good read.

Kudos to you, Ms. Colgan.
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The Bitch Has A Soul. Surprise!


"The Soul Jar"
by Jennifer Colgan
New Concepts Publishing
2006





Literary Sass Rating:

1 shot (A toast to a great book)
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I approached this book with my usual "I'm probably going to hate this" attitude. After all, pleasing me lately has been almost impossible. Just ask Manuel (or Paulo. I forget his name). What I found was a terrific story that adds suspense, romance and even a little paranormal.
Bree Sennet is sent to steal the Soul Jar from a curio in New York. As she's lifting the item, Chance MacKenzie shows up. He is also after the Soul Jar. They were lovers and he allowed her to believe he was dead for two years. Now, he's alive and they're both in trouble. Chance needs the Jar to save his friend from being murdered by a mob boss. Bree needs it to keep herself out of jail.
What surprised me about this book is that there's tension all through it.
Not once did I think "What the fuck?". Not once did I have to suspend my belief. This was a tight book with great emotion.
Ms. Colgan has earned my respect. There aren't many who could have included a beautiful Egyptian legend, the CIA and the mob without getting tangled up. She did it and did it well. The happy ending was satisfying and always in doubt. Surprise, surprise. Nice job, Ms. Colgan.
A toast to you, Jennifer Colgan. This is good shit.
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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Once In A Blue Moon, The Bitch Can Be Taught



"Once In A Blue Moon"
by Celia Stuart
Liquid Silver Books
2005


Literary Sass Rating:

1 shot (A toast to a great book)
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Within the first ten pages of this book, I prepared myself for another bitch session. I had the bottle of whiskey opened and I poured myself a shot that I thought would be one of many.
I was wrong.
This is a story about Bettina Blanchard, a survivor living in a small town. What I love about this heroine is that she's REAL. I know people like Bettina. She got a reputation before she did anything. She fell in love with Ty Boudreaux in sixth grade and never got over it. When Ty goes through a painful divorce, Bettina becomes a healing balm. She gets pregnant and they marry to give the kid two parents.
Pretty run of the mill, right? Except Ms. Stuart adds touches here and there giving the whole "marriage by pregnancy" a twist, turn and spindling. I loved it.
Ty has a fucked up family and the scene at Thanksgiving where all hell breaks loose is awesome. I don't want to give too much of the book away, but this author has a unique understanding of people and their relationships. My only issue with the book was that the language used was definitely podunk redneck. But given that's who she was writing about, she did a superb job. I was absolutely riveted by the storyline and everytime I thought I knew what was coming next, I got a surprise.
I'm really hoping this is one of many of the Bourdreaux family. I highly recommend it. THAT doesn't happen very often. It was a book I really enjoyed and the people were REAL to me.
I will say this. Ms. Stuart gave a light understanding touch to serious and devastating topics. This was an author I'd never heard of and I'll be looking for more of her writing in the future.
It saved me a lot of money on whiskey.
A Toast To You, Ms. Stuart. This is good shit.
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Blue Moon effects



"Once In A Blue Moon"
by Celia Stuart
Liquid Silver Books
2005



Literary Sass Rating:

1 shot (A toast to a great book)
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Once in a while, I read a book that keeps me up at night until I finish. (And not in a 'flip it over so the creepy cover-art isn't haunting me' kind of way.)

Ms Stuart's Once in a blue moon was one of those books.

I read this one a while back, when it crossed my desk. I was itching for the Sassychicks to get their hands on it, so I could find out what they thought. LW, in particular--I thought she'd tell me to get stuffed when I sent it to her to review. Instead, I got a note back last week from her "Life got in the way, can you post your review of this one? I was liking it, so my guess is you hated it with a passion."

She was wrong. I really really liked this book.

Bettina is a genuine, likeable, funny and intelligent character. She amused me, while being a complete re-invention of the 'girl from the wrong side of the tracks'.

When the second chapter jarred me at first from the wry comfort of Betti's first person perspective and into a third person point of view, I thought I was going to rail and scream about it in my review. Instead, I found myself marvelling at the added dimension it gave to Betti's character. I got to see what other people were seeing when they looked at her, and it wasn't quite the girl she let us get to know in her chapters.

As if that wasn't enough, (and it might have been) Ms. Stuart then twirls another stereotype on its head. Ty, love interest and farmer extraordinaire, is recovering from spousal abuse heaped on him by his ex wife. The role-reversal, of tough macho-man hiding his beaten-down self, contrasted against brash and self-assured Betti made me smile with genuine appreciation more than once.

I don't want to give away any of the plot, or spoil the way things end up. I can tell you that it is an emotional read, moreso than you might expect from Betti's no-nonsense set up.

Once in a Blue Moon is, far and away, the most intense, beautiful, and surprising read I've had this year.

Good work, Ms. Stuart, I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.
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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Well damn.


Title: Enjoy The Afterverse: An Eververse Anthology
Author: Stella and Audra Price
Published: Pretty Scary Fiction (2006)













Literary Sass Rating:

5 shots (Fucked up and blurry eyed...barely finished)

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I had a great post all ready to go and full of my usual. Then I read BB's post. So I deleted everything I wrote, and I'm trying again. Usually I can just sit here and bitch about what I didn't like. But see, BB'd actually come to be a bit of a fan of the Price sister's work, and this one ticked her off some.

So I'm going to try to be diplomatic and shit. I'm going to avoid the f-word. And the s-word and the a-word. I'm just not gonna swear. Bear with me.

See, the Price's have created a huge elaborate world, and this book is set in it. Only, the world-building wasn't so good this time around. I'm thinking they assumed people who were buying it were already familiar with Eververse, which might have been a mistake. Even though I've read one before, I didn't remember enough of their world and rules and sh-such- for this one to work for me.

Now, there were some good moments in here, and some good ideas, too. The never-to-be-love seemed to be a theme, and usually I can get behind that. But to be honest, the typoes and messed up punctuation were really driving me batsh- nuts. The dialogue was crap a lot of the time, and some of it was because there weren't commas or periods where there should be.

And that, really, is the true kick-in-the-a-rse...of this piece. There might very well be something kick-a-rse here, but I can't find it because of the lack of editting. I can't tell which of the problems I had are because of typoes and missing punctuation, and which of 'em were because the writing was just sh-substandard.

I'd have to seriously recommend that the girls hire themselves an editor for this piece, get it squeaky clean, and try again. Although it's as 'in your face' as their usual sh-stuff, it just isn't what they're capable of.

Although I gave this 5-shots, I was tempted to give it an N/A...this just isn't the Price's usual--and it's almost unfair to have reviewed it at all. Sorry girls.
---------------oOo---------------

The Bitchs Says "WTF"?


Title: Enjoy The Afterverse: An Eververse Anthology
Author: Stella and Audra Price
Published: Pretty Scary Fiction (2006)













Literary Sass Rating:

5 shots (Fucked up and blurry eyed...barely finished)

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You guys know me. If there's a good concept, idea, something in a book that I can enjoy, I will. I've always believed every book had some redeeming value.

Until now.

I would tell you what the book was about, but I actually have no idea. I read it twice, trying to figure out what the fuck was going on. All I got was that there were demons fucking each other and fucking humans. The world building here was supremely lacking and for the Price sisters it fell very short.

The book read more like random bits of shit that someone pulled up and pasted together. There was no flow and absolutely nothing to capture my interest. I barely finished it. I found myself more interested in watching my grass grow than read the end of this book. Harsh? Fuck yeah.

When I know what the Price sisters have written, it disappoints me to see the typos, the lack of world building and the rushed sex scenes. The author knows what's hot and the sex scenes are just as good as other works by them. I need a story to go with the sex though.

There was no story and if there was a plot, it was so convoluted, I didn't catch it. I'm no dumbass. I can figure out lots of complicated plots. Shit, I've WRITTEN a few. This was way over the top.

It floors me that this would be published at all. If I were the Price sisters (trying to sell a whole collection of Eververse books) I would double check the writing and make sure that the reader isn't lost in the bullshit. And fix the fucking typos.

I needed Five to finish and drank a fucking bottle after that.

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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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