Sunday, March 28, 2010

Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry

None of the following is hyperbole or exaggeration in any way whatsoever.

UPDATE: The Pixie and I got our competitive on while filling the hell out of the comments section of her latest entry and I'll be giving this book another go (starting at chapter three as per the recommendation of Mark himself) after I've had a bit of time to decompress and read Changes when it comes out on the ninth. Normally I'd start back up tomorrow or the next day but I won't risk being on the injured list and not being able to read the latest Jim Butcher the day it comes out.

Natasha over at recommended this book to me several times, so I finally went out and picked up a copy. For that I have to say this: what did I ever do to her to deserve that? This thing is kryptonite for straight males.

Not that I'm saying it's a bad book... I have no freaking clue if it's good, bad, or indifferent. My brain refuses to let me examine it beyond telling me it's Sex and the City with monsters. Two pages in I was ready to DNF it. I'd started having to reread each sentence at least twice, usually three to five times, to even get the words to stick in my brain long enough for the next sentence to have any context. I think it was refusing to process them out of self defense.

So far, I've managed to make it 2.1 chapters (24 pages) in. In over 24 hours. And it's taken me two shots of whiskey, four beers, and a John Wayne movie so far to even partially recover from the mental trauma. It's going to be at least another day or two before I'm able to pick any book up.

Just in case we're not clear on how badly trying to read this book hurts, here are a few things I would, with absolute seriousness, currently rather do than finish the third chapter.

  • Go to the store for tampons.
  • While at the store, have a long and involved conversation with a salesperson debating one brand of tampon vs. another.
  • Swear off Internet porn for a month.
  • Spend half an hour getting waterboarded.
  • Change all the dirty diapers at a daycare center for a day.
  • Have one of my fingers, toes, or nose broken.
  • Get kicked in the family jewels.

As of a little bit ago, I sent my copy over to a friend's wife, who's known me for quite a while now and knows my tastes in books pretty well, to read and let me know if there's any way in hell I'll ever be able to get into it enough to finish reading it. We'll see how that turns out.

~The Mighty Buzzard

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Holy Tap-Dancing Fuck

Every now and then there comes along something that is either going to be a work of genius or pure shit. I think I just found one such book. Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter by Dan McGirt. It's even a freebie over on his website. I seriously wish I hadn't agreed to start right in on Happy Hour of the Damned tomorrow now. Guess I can wait another day though.

~The Mighty Buzzard

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Crazy-Assed Rating System

My rating system is confusing, even to me. So far it's been simply the word or phrase I'd use in describing the book/series to a friend but that doesn't really tell you all that much if you haven't known me for quite a while. In the interest of clarity, I'll codify it here publicly, equate it to a five star rating system, and stick to the ratings I set down for future books.

  • Rating: Fucking Awful(0 stars)
  • Rating: Awful(0.5 stars)
  • Rating: Really Fucking Bad(1 star)
  • Rating: Pretty Damned Bad(1.5 stars)
  • Rating: Barely Worth Reading(2 stars)
  • Rating: Worth Reading(2.5 stars)
  • Rating: Well Worth Reading(3 stars)
  • Rating: Pretty Damned Good(3.5 stars)
  • Rating: Really Fucking Good(4 stars)
  • Rating: Awesome(4.5 stars)
  • Rating: Fucking Awesome(5 stars)
  • Rating: Jim Butcher(∞ stars)

If I talk about tiers, they go like this... Awesome to Jim Butcher = top tier/tier one. Buy them in hardcover because you'll wear out a paperback. Pretty Damned good to Really Fucking Good = second tier. Buy them, format according to what you can afford at the time. Worth Reading to Well Worth Reading = third tier. Buy them if you're out of tier one and two books you haven't read, probably paperback unless you just have a hardcover fetish. Barely Worth Reading = fourth tier. Skip these unless you're really hard up for something to read and even then go paperback so as to encourage the writer to do better next time. Really Fucking Bad to Pretty Damned Bad = fifth tier. Don't buy these. You might try reading them if you get them as a gift but don't expect to be able to finish them. Fucking Awful to Awful = don't even get a tier. They're either complete shit or terrible work by an author you expect top tier or second tier work from. Don't read them unless forced at gunpoint. Even then, the bullet might be kinder.

Hope that clears things up.

~The Mighty Buzzard

Real Vampires Hate Their Thighs by Gerry Bartlett

Real Vampires Hate Their Thighs, book 5 in the Real Vampires series, sends Glory St. Clair to Hollywood for the Grammy awards show with rock star Israel Caine. Here's her chance to walk the red carpet and be on national TV. When she meets a vamp diet guru who promises he can help her finally shed those extra pounds she's been carrying for over four hundred years, she's all for it. But he's longtime lover Jeremy Blade's ancient enemy. Could this guy have a hidden agenda? And can vamps really lose their curves? When the diet drugs begin having strange side effects a vamp war threatens to break out. Just what or who is Glory willing to sacrifice for her dream of being thin?

Something I always look for in a book, though I'm more lenient with PR titles, is a plot that could stand on it's own if all aspects of romance were removed. Not that I dislike romance in a book, I simply don't give it enough import that it can make a bad book good to me. If all I'm after is book-sex, I'll go reread Summer Camp or find something on ASSTR.

Which is one of the many reasons I consistently love Gerry Bartlett's Real Vampires books. Any of her plots, characters, or humor could carry a book enough to make it easily readable. Putting them all together makes for something seriously special and earns her a place in the top tier of my mental ratings.

Real Vampires Hate Their Thighs is everything I've come to expect from the series. It's one of the few books this year I've been disappointed in not because it was bad but because I ran out of book at the back cover. I have nothing bad to say about this book and if I start saying more descriptively good things I'm likely to devolve fully into fanboi-ism, so I'll break off here.

Except... I know very little about women's fashion but will fifteen pounds really get you six sizes in women's clothing? I gain and lose that much pretty much every year and only move up or down one pants size.

~The Mighty Buzzard

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Accidentally Demonic by Dakota Cassidy

When mild-mannered Casey Schwartz wakes up in jail with no memory of how she got there she realizes two things: something weird is going on and orange is definitely not her color. After her sister bails her out, Casey has more to deal with than a foggy memory—like abrupt mood swings and fireballs shooting from her fingertips. But things really go south when a vampire shows up on her doorstep...

Clayton Gunnersson is seriously hot. And seriously taken—by a demon. In a ritual gone wrong, Clayton tried to free himself from his unwanted bond, but spilled some demonic blood on Casey. So now, Clayton’s spurned mate is inside of Casey—and she’s not happy about it. Neither is Casey, who can’t escape this bizarre love triangle. It’s hard enough being possessed by a demon. Falling for that demon’s boyfriend could get Casey killed—from the inside out…

This fourth entry into Dakota Cassidy's Accidental Romance series. It was good enough that I read it in one night, like I usually try to, but I couldn't honestly go as far as saying it was as good as her previous three books in the series. The first three I dug because they were silly almost, but not quite, to the point of absurdity, funny, witty, had the requisite amount of ass-kicking, and because I would like to do very naughty things with Nina.

All of the above still apply to Accidentally Demonic but in a slightly muted way. Only really enough that if you were already a fan, you'll notice and possibly be a tiny bit disappointed.

The thing that really necessitates a drop in my mental rating though was the shotgun approach to pop-culture references in this installment. They felt like she'd gone back through on and decided she didn't have enough, so she slapped a few more in randomly and without regard to what character was using them. They felt forced and having every character use them took away some of the uniqueness in every character they got foisted off onto*.

Bottom line, whatever rating out of five you gave The Accidental Werewolf, Accidentally Dead, and The Accidental Human, subtract 0.5 from it and that's what I give it. That works out to a 3.5 for me, I suppose. But what do I know, you may have loved the first three enough to rate them a full 5.0, in which case call this one a 4.5.

~The Mighty Buzzard

* Yes, I know I ended a sentence with a preposition. The English language is my bitch and I treat it as such. If it really bothers you though, feel free to mentally insert a comma, a space, and the word asshole after the preposition.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

I normally don't do these things on the grounds of them being quite silly but, since I haven't gotten around to filling my About Page, I'll make an exception tonight.

7 things about me:

  1. I dig punk over metal because I prefer manic violence over rage violence. Most anything with a pit at the concert is fine by me though. Which band is my favorite depends entirely on what day you ask me. Today, it's NOFX.
  2. I prefer a good villain over a good hero in my fiction. They have greater depth of character and I lack any empathy whatsoever with someone agonizing over the decisions they've made.
  3. I've done more jobs than I can count but my favorite, by far, was soldier.
  4. I bottle fed a baby squirrel today.
  5. I'm 34 years old, 5'6", weigh 170-180, usually clean shaven on the face, and normally have the sides and back of my head shaved as well.
  6. I have two closed up piercings from my teenage years and three tattoos (left pec, left forearm, left hand).
  7. I have an uncanny weakness for women with unnaturally colored hair.

This is the part where I'm supposed to tag this off to ten other folks but it's not going to happen. I'm evil and enjoy breaking chains.

~The Mighty Buzzard

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why so quiet?

I know it's been a few days since I've posted anything here, so here's a short update. The database for the mockup site is complete enough that I'm working on cgi script and web page for book entry. Once that's done and I create a register/login page/script I'll be able to start filling the database whithout having to do it from a mysql prompt. After that, I'll work on the search page/script so I can see the stuff I've entered.

For that matter you all will be able to also. Use all the pages that is. My DSL connection and personal webserver may not be up to hosting the actual finished site but it can most likely stand a few thousand users per day at least. If it does end up taxing my connection or computer too bad, I'll get it hosted by ones that won't sweat it.

~The Mighty Buzzard

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Holy Grail of Book Sites (Part Three)

Over the past three entries, we've gone over the Who, some of the Why, and described the Search end of things. Today we're going to start with the main page and see where that leads.

The things you really want on the main page are things that don't fit into the search category and shortcuts to complicated searches that the average user might not figure out themselves1. Those take up very little actual space though. In a two column blog format like I use, it would leave the larger content column completely empty. Let's start there.

Remember that the primary function of this site is to help users find the books they already want and find new, similar books that they've never heard of. Or to put it another way, to give users the as-precisely-as-possibe targeted advertising that they've come looking for. Since searches take care of that pretty well already, let's use the big honking wads of empty space to advertise books based on something other than the users' known desires. We still don't want to annoy them with flashy advertising or distract them from what they've already come looking for though, so let's keep the ads limited to something they might find interesting on a trivial level and might want to see anyway after a few separate visits to the site.

For that, we're going to take a lesson from the competition. Specifically, from the Most Popular and Most Recent lists on bittorrent sites. Split the main content column in half. On the left side put top ten2 lists. Have them not be all-time top ten lists but the list for the week or month; I haven't decided but we're arbitrarily going with week for this article. Have them separated by high-level genre3. Have the genres ordered by popularity on the site, descending. In each genre, list and link the top ten most popular titles for the past week, as defined by popularity on this site.

On the right hand side, using the same genres and same order, list the ten most recent releases in the genre. Make them ISBN specific so you can get plugs for paperbacks as well as the hardcover and ebooks that released earlier4.

Common to both columns, the entries should be one line of text with alternating, slightly different colored without being jarring, background colors. They should include only the book title and the author's name. The book title should be hotlinked, the author's name should not. Too many links side-by-side is hard on the eyes. The title of each genre list should link to a predefined search for the most popular or most recent of that genre, displayed in descending order.

Back to the rest of the page. We're going to stick to de facto web standards here. People are familiar with them and we've no interest in making things difficult for them.

At the top, put a bar that includes links to log in/out, account control, a link to the main page, and possibly a help section. Also a search entry field, a submit button, and an advanced search link. There might be other useful things that could be put up there, but I can't think of them off the top of my head, so they're for another day. This bar should persist across all pages.

Along the left side, we'll put a link to a News page, a Browse link, a link to a New Authors page, and a link to an Upcoming Releases page. We might also go with a Recently Added to the Catalog link, for when we add a new publisher or more books from a publisher we already had on board.

That's enough for today, I think. The rest of the pages should be easier to write but don't expect them on a daily basis. I started figuring out the database structure for a functional mock up site and getting it created last night and, frankly, I much prefer getting my hands dirty with some code than talking about it.

~The Mighty Buzzard

1 Apparently, according to the sketch I did last week, you also need Photon Torpedoes. I am apparently not the only wise-ass in my family.
2 It doesn't have to be ten, I'm just arbitrary-numbering it so we can move along.
3 i.e. something along the lines of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance, Horror, Mystery, etc...
4 Growl, snarl. I'm fairly sure that in our instant gratification culture, release windows promote piracy better than anything else. But anyway...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

I've been trying to work up a good review of this book since it came out but until today I couldn't find enough words to justify posting them. The short version is Black Magic Sanction is precisely what I've come to expect from a Kim Harrison(a.k.a. Dawn Cook), Hollows book and I dug the complete hell out of it. It's always hard for me to describe something that wasn't surprising but since none of you knew what I expected, I'll go through the list and call it an entry.

I always assume a new Hollows novel will have outstanding character development, though not necessarily equally to all characters of course. I wasn't let down this time. Pierce, Nick, Jenks, and of course Rachel were all heavily developed. Ivy, Trent, and the rest were also clarified but to a lesser degree. Algaliarept got more development and play than I expected but not as much as I'd hoped.

I expect a certain amount of gratuitous violence, plenty of witty dialog, some sort of romance angle, and each book to be, at least to some degree, better written than the last. Expectations filled on all counts.

I also expect a far from trivial but not overly convoluted plot and I expect this to make the book last longer than I expect. In a yay-it's-not-over-yet way, mind you. I have no idea how I can expect that she'll always have two or three more plot twists than I expect. I have no idea how that even makes sense but I've learned not to argue with my brain unless I know I can win.

Lastly, I expect that a couple things that Rachel does in every book will leave me absolutely dumbfounded. Even being able to read every thought she's had along the way to understand her motivation, they still make absolutely no sense to me. I chalk this up to the whole Mars/Venus thing1 though and go on my merry way.

~The Mighty Buzzard

1 I reserve the right to occasionally think that women are insane. I acknowledge that by reserving this right I give up the right to be offended that women occasionally think men, and the subset of men that is me, are slow, dense, unobservant, insensitive, clueless, downright stupid, or synonym of your choice. I think it's a fair trade.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fifteen minutes

Normally after getting a generous plug from someone I'd feel obliged to do a solid entry for the day. The Wicked Little Pixie decided to pick the day my brother rolled into town for a visit with many, many bottles of good beer to famous me up though. Since I prefer, after a few instances of giving myself a really good reason why, not to drink and blog though, I'll just leave something for her and get my entry on the main page of my theoretical site or possibly a review of the latest Kim Harrison book put up tomorrow.