Monday, August 16, 2010

A terrible month for books

It has been a truly shitty month for books for me.  No, I'm not talking about the official release timeline.  I'm talking about my personal reading timeline.  It feels like every book I've been looking forward to reading is determined to deliberately suck at me personally.

The first two culprits that spring to mind are Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane and Twice Bitten by Chloe Neill.  If you haven't read either of these, you should probably stop reading now because there will be spoilers of some degree farther on.  You have been warned.

Oh, a bit more before I get into it.  I'm perfectly aware that the target audience of these books is pretty much entirely female.  At least I hope it is, otherwise someone fucked up fairly epically.  Also, if you have an inability to tell the difference between an opinion and a fact, please don't bother arguing in comments;  I will most assuredly make you look like a retard if you do.

I'd been really psyched to read Unholy Magic since I finished and gave a glowing review to Unholy Ghosts.  Having a book suck when you expected awesomeness is far more disappointing than one you expected to suck from the beginning.  Therein lies the source of piss-offitude I have for Unholy Magic.

Unholy Ghosts: Female MC, not a chick book1.  Unholy Magic goes entirely the other direction and brings the Lex, Chess, Terrible triangle up as part of the primary plot.  Seriously?  If I wanted primary plot romance I'd be reading something with models in suggestive poses on the cover for fuck's sake.  You were supposed to give me Urban Fantasy, Stacia, not goddamn Paranormal Romance2.

Add to that Chess's seemingly complete inability in Unholy Magic to make a fucking decision and accept the consequences of it.  I'm specifically referring to her inability to decide if she wants to be with Terrible or Lex in the first place and her fucking around about telling Terrible important shit he would have needed to know if they were even going to just remain friends.  If your female MC appears to have been written by by Melvin Udal3, men4 will fucking hate reading her.

Twice Bitten I've read about halfway through and been stuck immediately after Ethan decides he can't have any romantic involvement with Merit because his protectiveness towards her could interfere with what's good for his House.  Epic alpha male character writing fail.  A man5 would have been quiet on the ride back and thought something like this:

Ethan's Brain:  This shit is going to be a problem.
Ethan's Brain:  OK, so which do I care about more?  My duty to the House or Merit?
Ethan's Brain:  The House, obviously.  I'm a guy who puts more importance on duty than personal feelings.
Ethan's Brain:  Right then, you fucked up.  Don't let it happen again.

He would then have told her that the House will always come first to him and he's sorry if she thinks that it makes him a rat bastard but he hopes she still wants to be with him.  Personal responsibility for your words and actions, it's a big thing with men.  Blaming her as the cause of his fuck-up and ending the relationship rather than owning up to his failure is the fundamental opposite of what a man would do.

I might get past that alone but there's also the bit with the RG in the first chapter.  The world hates those who betray a trust6 more than anything else and she most definitely would be betraying the trust of her House if she joined the RG without leaving it first.  That Merit even considers it lost her any respect I had for her.  Permanent disgust.  Full stop.  End of discussion.

So anyway, that's why I'm having a hell of a time finding the desire to read this month.  Hope you all are having a better time of it.

~The Mighty Buzzard

1  For now defined as being chock full of romantic drama that the story suffers for.
2  No, the difference between the two is not the guarantee of a HEA.  The difference is Urban Fantasy has no requirement of any romance at all and never has romance as the primary focus of the MC.  If the romance is more important than the rest of what's going on to the MC, you wrote some sort of romance novel rather than UF.
3  "I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability."
4  Yes, I'm aware some people in possession of a penis are indecisive too.  They may be male humans but they are not men.
5  Again, man not male human.
6  Traitors of course but also date rapists, child molesters, adulterers, Enron, politicians, and so on.  The commonality being they all betrayed the trust that was either implicitly or explicitly given them.


Katiebabs/ KB said...

I can offer you my three releases to read, that shameful pimp that I am. heh.

I can't get enough of Stacia Kane. Her books are addicting. But then again, I'm all for the romance.

The Mighty Buzzard said...

@Katiebabs Heh, you probably don't want me to review them. I view romance in a story like pepper on eggs. A little spices things up nicely. A little more makes things unpleasant. More than that and it goes in the garbage can.

Katiebabs/ KB said...

Hm. Mine are spicy. I can always dare you to read a book and review it on my blog, since I'm evil like that.

The Mighty Buzzard said...

Yeah, but yours are prolly also at least 25% pepper. Bit too much for me if you want a review that doesn't read like me having my fingernails pulled out. I'm so not your target audience.

Katiebabs/ KB said...

Not my books, but something that may get your back on your reading track. What would interest you?

The Mighty Buzzard said...

Hrm, ok, a checklist then.

Urban Fantasy.

Could not in a million years be mistaken for Paranormal Romance.

Beyond those, I'm not really that picky. Realistically male PoV would be a nice change. It's not a deal breaker but it would be nice not to have to contort my brain into female thinking for a book or two. Unfortunately, I think I've read most of the few I described already.

Katiebabs/ KB said...

Have you tried Anton Strout's Simon Canderous series? Straight up Parnormal Urban Fantasy with very limited romance, practically non-existent.

The Mighty Buzzard said...

Yup, dug em. Also current on Simon R. Green, Rob Thurman, P.N. Elrod, Jim Butcher, John Levitt, Neil Gaiman, Marc Del Franco, Richard Kadrey, and Christopher Moore off the top of my head.

Anonymous said...

Yeaaaaah, I can see your point on Unholy Magic, from a guy's POV. I still don't think it crosses over entirely to PNR since the plot is not focused around the romance, or is it? I always give disclaimers with my UF reviews that in Urban Fantasy, romance is secondary to the plot, if it exists at all; whereas in PNR romance is first and foremost.
I am surprised you even picked up Twice Bitten and bothered with it. I acknowledge this is a sexist statement... That is a chick book all the way :P But good for you for branching out and trying it! And you're right - in my experience with dudes, your version of Ethan's brain is much more realistic.

The Mighty Buzzard said...

Eh, the beefs I had with Twice Bitten weren't romantic in nature. The first two were good and taking three books to get to the inevitable Merit/Ethan romance isn't exactly shoving melodrama down anyone's throat.

Unholy Magic though? Yeah, it's a twisted one but definitely full on PNR. Spend a third or more of a book focusing on romantic issues and you really can't call it anything else.

Anyway, I don't actually dislike PNR novels if they're otherwise good. It just pisses me off when I'm feeling UF, grab something that gets called UF, and end up with PNR, watered down or not.

Anonymous said...

I too get annoyed when what I though was UF suddenly becomes PNR, and I much prefer any romantic plots to be of secondary importance to the actual plot, so thanks for the warning about two series I was thinking of picking up.

If you're looking for UF that doesn't cross into PNR, here are some things I've enjoyed that might suit.

The Calling by David Mack: multiple POVs, but the main character is male, and the closest thing to romance is that he happens to be married. Looks to be the start of a sereis.

The Walker Papers series by C.E. Murphy (first book Urban Shaman): female protagonist, very limited romantic subplots that are never the focus.

Black & White by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kitteredge: I'm not sure if you're definition of UF includes superheroes in a dystopic future, but despite how the summary makes it sound, the romantic subplot is incredibly limited. Start of a new series, second book is already out.

Wyrm by Mark Fabi: Standalone about a computer program that tries to bring about Armageddon.

Things from my TBR pile that I can't vouch for but might suit:
Kelly McCullough: series that starts with Webmage, main character is male.

Eric Nylund's Mortal Coils series (first book Mortal Coils)


Marta said...

TMB, I didn't know you were writing reviews more regularly. Will you please give me a head's up about this? Sheeze.

Also, I didn't think the romance was the first and foremost thing in Stacia's second book, but it was more of a factor. I do expect an abused drug-addict to be pretty bad at relationships.

Third, I'm now feeling awful special that you've read my comic novels.

Four, I want to post my manuscript of Nancy as a free e-read and I need tech help about posting it myself places in a way that it's really easy for readers to download. I need help from the part of your brain that isn't busy seething about something. Email me.

Marta said...

Also try The Devil You Know by Mike Carey. Very well written and entertaining and the male MC seems like an actual guy, not a romantic fantasy.

The Mighty Buzzard said...

See, that's why we get on so well. Random wackiness like you recommending the book I'm currently reading without any foreknowledge.

Marta said...

TMB, it's not really accidental. I'm stalking you. Also, I've rearranged the shirts in your closet by color.