Sunday, January 19, 2014

cowboy romance is new to me.

Haven, seasons 1 through 3, with Emily Rose.  I'm so binge-watching season 4 right now.  An excellent thing to watch while knitting until Warehouse 13 comes back. 

Color of Lies by Abbe Rolnick.  This book is relying alot on dialogue, but the characters all flit from thought to thought, not having a real conversation, not going where anticipated, and not reacting in a normal way.  Amidst the dialogue, the narration gives characters' reactions or thoughts, and I constantly find myself thinking "how did they get that out of that statement?"  It makes it a tough read.
about 6.5

The Prodigal by Michael Hurley. This reads mostly like literary fiction (is there a separate category for that?  there should be) but some passages, the trying-too-hard shows through.
For proper scoring, this book needs to be read cover-to-cover; me reading (or, more actually, skimming and judging anyway) a book a day doesn't' allow for that.
score is about a solid 9.

Love Me, Cowboy by Megan Crane, Lilian Darcy, CJ Carmichael, and Jane Porter.  This is an anthology of 4 romance novels (they each call themselves "novellas" but I think each would be long enough for its own book).
1.  Tempt Me, Cowboy:

  • Why start out making your main character such a bad guy?  This made it hard to get in to the story.  
  • There are some fragments, which normally upset me, but these are very natural-sounding, like how people actually talk.  
  • The length of time passing is not right; it feels like a month, but then narration reveals it has been a week and a half (p. 100). 
  • "p" in "Chapter Nine" not bolded (the rest of the letters are) (p. 103).  
  • Print this on mass-market-sized paper and it's a stand-alone story.
2.  Marry Me, Cowboy:
trying to use m-dashes, but they are all formatted improperly.  uniformly, but improperly.
3.  Promise Me, Cowboy:
more errors than the other stories-- missing quotation marks, no break for paragraphs when switching characters in dialogue-- but not an outrageous number.
4.  Take Me, Cowboy:  (misprinted on the copyright page as also "Tempt Me, Cowboy")
silly proofreading errors, particularly toward the end.

Overall: I never would have picked this up for myself; when I do want a romance novel, I usually stick with either historical fiction or paranormal: the cowboy subset has never really appealed to me, although I can certainly see why it appeals to some.
The voice/writing style was fairly consistent among all the stories.
I like how the stories overlap on their peripheries, but there are some problems with the organization and story set-up:
  • three of the stories are about a trio of friends; since all three friends get their "own" stories, the non-friend story seems out of place.
  • the first three stories mostly go sequentially (the second part of the first story overlapping in time with the first part of the second story, etc.) but the last story is the same time setting, the same week actually, as the first story.  This doesn't fit the pattern and throws off the whole.
  • the first story is the most graphic/explicit.  Two and Four are less so, but very similar to each other.  The third story is out of place in that it never goes farther than a kiss.  Perhaps some standardization in future volumes?
Overall actually an excellent title that I will add to my library.  score is a solid 9.

Reader by Erec Stebbins.
  • The fragments everywhere are distracting.
  • formatting: the hard return between paragraphs is distracting.  Don't let Word auto-format your novel.
  • the character talks too directly-- and far too frequently-- to the reader.  Don't break the fourth wall.  I can't think of a work of metafiction that actually works (although Redshirts was popular I still didn't like it).
  • 2084?  What year is it?  There has been no definite indication of time and this is jarring.
  • The story quickly becomes just bad.  Soylent green?  Ancient devices creating wormholes through space, placed there by a now-gone (now-extinct?) ancient alien race that may or may not have had a hand in the rise of our species?  Original ideas would have been so much better.
  • The language, especially the dialogue, becomes so stilted, but even worse are when an alien uses a present-day saying or slang, or even when the main character does.  Our phrasing and sayings of today won't last 90 years.
Can't fault it on some of the fields (technical mechanics are good), but overall reaction is a 4.

The Biology of Luck by Jacob M. Appel.
  • very distracting typo errors-- missing "not"s, "devil-may-mare" (p.30), etc.  I should not have to figure out what the author actually meant to say.
  • through the whole book, until the last chapter, the only Starshine we see is through Larry's novel.  What is she really like?  I kept thinking we'd meet the real her, and that character as opposed to her character-as-written-by-her-quasi-stalker would be kinda the whole point of the book.  Nope.
  • the "real" chapters and the "Larry-written" chapters sound the same.  They need to have starkly different voices.
  • Larry and Starshine don't actually interact in the book until the last chapter.  Since the "real" chapters and the "Larry-written" chapters take turns telling the story and happen at the same time (now), he can't have written it, because they are both only just happening.  They take place simultaneously.  Is this more metafiction?
  • I was hope for so much more out of this-- either a better romance story, or a deep character juxtapositionm, something; this just kind wandered about and petered out.
average score is maybe a 6.

Mistress of the Solstice by Anna Kashina.
  • the change from first person to third person between chapters is not a smooth transition.
  • alot of made-up words (or are they Russian words? this isn't clear; either way:) used inconsistently-- sometimes italicized, sometimes not; sometimes in quotations, sometimes not; and sometimes both italicized and in quotations.  Pick one and stick with it.
A great book, certainly within the top 3 so far.  Improvements:
  • minor editing/proofreading.
  • better sense of place.  (is this earth?  another planet?  if earth, exactly when are we?)
  • better explanation of the mythology at work.
The alternating chapters do seem less awkward than before.  The ending comes quickly and rather simply, all in a neat bow, perhaps too easy.  overall score, 9.5

Secretariat Reborn by Susan Klaus. This is another book I never would have picked up for myself, but it is very good.  A few parts of the dialogue seem stilted; not outrageous, but something about the phrasing strikes as slightly less-than-normal.  I think it's that Christian comes off as pretty naive, his responses to everyone-- his dad, especially Kate-- are... girly?  Normally, reading a book with a male main character, I just with it, but I'd be interested to hear what male readers have to say about this character.  I think they can tell it's a female writer.
Kate becomes a very unrealistic character, a major flaw in the story.
Still, overall, very good; solid 9s all the way down.

Literary fiction, "popular fiction," and several subsets within genre fiction ought not all be in the same category.  The instructions are to judge each book on its own merits, not comparatively with others, but the standards I have for sci-fi or romance are different (from each other and) from the standards I have for fiction or literary fiction.  I continue to struggle with this.

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