Archive for March, 2014

Painted Faces by L. H. Cosway

I have to admit: I didn’t finish this. I read to about the 38% mark and skipped to see what the ending was. I badly wanted to love it, but it just wasn’t happening. I tried again hours later and got hit in the face again with the bat of “pathological self-deprecation” and quit.

What worked:

Viv worked. I love a hero who can talk dirty and Viv has a way with panty-dropping lines. I loved that he was a straight drag queen. I could have done without his dick moves to Dorotea, which dropped him a lot of points, but otherwise he was a character that just really did it for me.

I will repeat: straight drag queen. Viv’s got an alpha streak despite his effeminate ways and it shows through brilliantly. I think part of why it works for me is because he reminds me of Moriah Jovan’s amazing Lord Macaroni.

What made me end up not finishing:

The “pathological self-deprecation”. I don’t care how many people tell me that it’s real and it’s a show that she’s a person and that it’s … I don’t care. I eventually got ground down by the incessant negativity and self-doubt and just wanted to shoot myself or something out of sympathy. For some that may be a hallmark of great writing. For me, I just wanted to die.

There’s a lot of over explanation and telling of what she’s thinking and un-self-aware self-analysis of her thoughts because it’s in first person and so it really quickly got to be far too much. She just wouldn’t let up. It was a never-ending stream of negative consciousness. Again, I’m so tired of the “I’m perfectly fine and acceptable as I am, except I really,really, really don’t like myself” trope. Can we be done, please?

Overall, there was a lot of telling not showing. A metric ton of it.

He squeezes my wrist once before letting go; the skin there gets all warm for some reason. Despite my ambitions to be the “friend” of a cool customer like Nicholas, I’m not sure if my insecure female heart can take it. I’m doomed to feel butterflies at his touch, like a desperate old maid eager for any human contact she can find, who gets tingles when people brush past her on a crowded street.

Nicholas pays for the food once we’re finished, even though I offer to pay for half. He says he owes me since I made him dinner last night. We chat as we walk back to the apartment building, stopping to have a look around the markets at the front of the arcade. When we get home, we part ways and agree to have a drink together after his gig tonight.

Up until I quit, it was all like that.

It’s, as obvious here, written in first person present. To Cosway’s credit, I didn’t pick up on that until more than a bit in.  I was also mostly able to ignore it. I’m not certain if it’s because the witty dialog and snappy banter carried most of it or if I was too distracted by the endless self-hate going on.

What I really want to know is what happened between Viv and his father’s colleague. If anyone knows, could you tell me? My curiosity is happily, or not so happily, not stronger than the depression, so I’m unlikely to find out unless someone straight out tells me.

 

Welp. I’d give this a solid D for the witty banter, fun premise, sexy dirty talk, and a hero I’d love to know in real life. I considered giving it a C, but it was a DNF.

 

 

Once Bitten Twice Shy – C.C Wood (spoilers spoilers spoilers)

I picked up this book on Penny Reid’s rec. Which, btw, if you have not picked up Love Hacked or Neanderthal Seeking Human, you should go do that, stat.

First thing: the title is an issue.

Once Bitten turned up 2881 results on Amazon. Once Bitten Twice Shy turned up 2745. Twice Shy turned up 571.

We have what we call in Taiwan “supermarket names”. The ones where you shout it in a store and more than ten people of various ages look toward you.

You do not want one of those for a title. You have one chance to grab your audience — make it count. It will also help if when your avid fans mention your title to a friend in passing IRL, the friend can then have a good shot at grabbing the right book.

I liked the voice of the narrator. Her personality was vivid and she was amusing. However, she did have a tendency toward over-explaining. It’s in first person POV and she goes into a lot of detail over what she’s thinking and why she’s thinking it. For me, it slowed down the pace and pulled me out of the story because a lot of what she was thinking had no bearing to what was going on at the moment.

For example, she has this complex about her weight. Which, by the way, I’m tired of seeing. I’m done with heroines who are beautiful but somehow magically don’t know it or don’t believe it. I’m also done with heroines who both support their right to be curvy and think it’s healthy but have deep, abiding complexes about it. It’s been done ten million times. Let’s move on.

I stared at her blankly for a few seconds. “He said I’m losing too much weight?” I asked incredulously.

I was short, but not a small woman. In fact, my mother, who had been the same size since high school, gave me a huge guilt trip about my weight almost every time we spoke. I even had a bit of a complex about it. I had curves and I likely always would. No way in hell would I starve myself to fit what society considered the ‘norm’. Did I want to be healthier? Yes, but I didn’t necessarily think those stick-thin women were healthy either.  A person who enjoyed good nutrition shouldn’t be able to count every rib.

All right.

So couple of things:

1. Way too much info. A lot of it could have been woven in with a more delicate hand instead of being a huge chunk of text that interfered with the flow of the action/plot.

2. -ly words. Watch ‘em like a hawk.

3. Saying her mother had been the same size since high school doesn’t mean much because for all we know, her mother could be a blimp and that’s why she is so hard on Ivie because she wants her to be healthier/prettier.

4. The way she mentally speaks isn’t actually how most people think. It feels like she’s talking to the reader, so breaking the fourth wall. It’s distracting and it disrupts the flow of the writing.

5. The author tends to repeat. It’s been mentioned before, prior to this, that the MC’s mother was a nag about her weight. To repeatedly come back to it is distracting, disruptive, and shows lack of faith in the reader’s ability to read and retain.

 Note: She said she was 5 foot 4 somewhere prior. For the record, that’s the average height of women in the U.S right now. I’m not sure why she keeps insisting she’s short. 

Another thing: careful of over-description and over-writing.

That night, after Donna and I spend the day hanging out and going to the movies, we were sitting in the hot tub, drinking wine. It had been a wonderful, relaxing day, one of the best I’d had since the attack. wearing my utilitarian black swimsuit, I let my head loll back against the side of the hot tub and took a deep drink of the red wine Donna had opened. It was superb.

Since the last chapter ended with Donna suggesting a movie, repeating it is redundant.

And show, don’t just tell.

I let my head loll back against the side of the hot tub and took a deep swallow of the red wine Donna had opened. It was superb.  My muscles loosened and softened in the heat. My mind felt pleasantly fuzzy from the alcohol. I hadn’t felt this relaxed in ages, not since the attack.

Some other quibbles:

The vampire mind-reading trope doesn’t do it for me usually. Either the heroine has no privacy to speak of or she learns, really fast, how to block. 21% in and Ivie is still broadcasting really loudly.  It’s also inconsistent whether or not the other vampires can hear her thoughts, which is a little bit frustrating for me.

The “vampires can hear all the things” thing also seems to be inconsistent. Donna and Ivie have conversations that according to everything else said before, should be less than private, yet the two of them seem fine with it.

If you’re going to write in first person POV and it’s in past tense —  you cannot have the narrator describe something that they don’t remember. Can I repeat that for emphasis? If they don’t remember, and it’s in past tense, then it cannot be in the book as a “this is happening” thing. It needs to be a retrieved memory or a flashback later. Also? The “I said something but I didn’t realize it/ forgot” thing is ridiculous. If you have “no idea” you said something — you have no idea you said something. The person you said it to needs to let you know.

I don’t get the women insisting on tagging along to dangerous things thing when they’re going to be more of a liability than help. I really don’t. It makes them look stupid and makes them look like petulant brats. If they are going to be helpful, that’s fine. But most of the time that isn’t the case. The fact that usually authors have them somehow magically save the day doesn’t make it better. It actually makes it worse. Either they are competent or they aren’t.

I really also wasn’t fond of the BDSM aspect. For a while it felt like she was being non-con dominated and then sometimes it felt like the D was spilling over into daily life when they weren’t in a 24/7 D/s relationship. Didn’t work for me. Someone who really does the BDSM thing that works for me is Sophie Oak.

…and the ending gave me a cranky.  There’s this other vamp, Finn, who apparently was into Ivie and was in a way the catalyst of them finally getting together. Which is fine, although I hate the “throw another guy at the MC and watch sparks fly” trope, but at the end it turns out that he’s been dream-communicating with his real soulmate. So now I feel like he’s a skanky cheater.

 

…welp. All in all?  I’d give it a D-.

I’d suggest that C.C Wood get a content editor. There’s a good story there and it could really shine, but I feel like it’s a bit obscured. Her writing style and the plot reminds me of Kristin Ashley, so take that as you will. Personally, I’m not sure it’s a plus, but then I’m getting a bit tired of bratty, childish subs and their Doms who think they’re adorbs.