[livejournal.com profile] oyceter and I are going to Taipei, Xian, and Hong Kong this December! I'm so excited! It will be my first visit to Hong Kong and also to mainland China!

I need three sets of book recs. NO HARDCOVERS, and please check my tags to be sure I haven't already read it.

1. Just anything you think I would enjoy. I am especially looking for fun (ie, not about the Holocaust) fiction with Jewish, LGBT, and/or people of color as protagonists.

2. Does anyone have a recommendation for readable histories of China? Preferably by Chinese authors. I am starting from a position of near-total ignorance. Each book does not have to cover everything.

3. Sooooo, my last long plane trip I read a horrendous yet vastly entertaining awesomely bad book, Daughter of the Blood, which gave rise to the tag you see below. I think this is an excellent tradition which I ought to continue. Please rec horrendous yet entertaining novels which you would enjoy seeing me react to. I am thinking of Flowers in the Attic. That's about incestuous vampire twins locked in an attic, right?
[livejournal.com profile] oyceter and I are going to Taipei, Xian, and Hong Kong this December! I'm so excited! It will be my first visit to Hong Kong and also to mainland China!

I need three sets of book recs. NO HARDCOVERS, and please check my tags to be sure I haven't already read it.

1. Just anything you think I would enjoy. I am especially looking for fun (ie, not about the Holocaust) fiction with Jewish, LGBT, and/or people of color as protagonists.

2. Does anyone have a recommendation for readable histories of China? Preferably by Chinese authors. I am starting from a position of near-total ignorance. Each book does not have to cover everything.

3. Sooooo, my last long plane trip I read a horrendous yet vastly entertaining awesomely bad book, Daughter of the Blood, which gave rise to the tag you see below. I think this is an excellent tradition which I ought to continue. Please rec horrendous yet entertaining novels which you would enjoy seeing me react to. I am thinking of Flowers in the Attic. That's about incestuous vampire twins locked in an attic, right?
After a terrorist attack on the Bay Area, teen hacker, security expert, and true American patriot Marcus and his geek chic pals are held by evil government forces. When the evil government forces take over America even more than they already have… well, I’m not sure exactly what happens, since that’s the point where I gave up. I assume Marcus and his friends, joined by the power of all freethinking folk on the internet, hack America to freedom. I mean with computers. Though I probably would have liked the book more if, like Lizzie Borden, they did it with an axe.

I can’t judge the entire book, because I couldn’t get through the entire book. I can, however, judge the first 100 pages, which I did read. I HATED them.

I have nothing against Cory Doctorow, and some very smart people I know adored this book. That being said, here’s my dissenting view – again, just of the first 100 pages, but you would have to pay me to make me read more.

Tone and voice are very important to me. I’ll forgive all sorts of other flaws in a book if I love the voice. This book has a very distinctive voice, which I HATED. It is the voice of a middle-aged man sweating bullets to impersonate the voice of a cool modern teenager (who is incredibly smug about being smarter than you, which was probably not intended), and simultaneously attempting to be educational about everything in the world, and to send Very Important Messages about the perils of conformity, the importance of privacy, and the folly and immorality of the modern American security state. And also to be totally accessible to any readers who might not know about certain things that most American teenagers probably do know.

The attempts to be educational and accessible, while admirable, are quite jarring. His first person narrator, supposedly a hip Bay Area teenage geek, carefully defines many words that are completely ordinary to him, like manga (manga!), the Yakuza, doujinshi, uni, Harajuku, Turkish coffee, LARPing, ARGs, carnitas, horchata, and churros. And by define, I don’t mean “slip in a definition in a natural manner," like (fake quote): I took a bite of my carnitas burrito. A few shreds of pork fell out. I mean (real quote): I stepped to the nearest burrito joint and ordered one with carnitas—shredded pork—and extra salsa.

Or this:

Like all Harajuku Fun Madness clues, it had a physical, online and mental component. The online component was a puzzle you had to solve, one that required you to research the answers to a bunch of obscure questions. This batch included a bunch of questions on the plots in doujinshi. Those are comic books drawn by fans of manga, Japanese comics. They can be as big as the official comics that inspire them, but they’re a lot weirder, with crossover storylines and sometimes really silly songs and action. Lots of love stories, of course. Everyone loves to see their favorite toons hook up.

1. Seriously, you need to define manga?

2. A modern doujinshi-knowledgeable teenager would not say “toon.”

3. If you MUST have expository lumps every few paragraphs, at least get them right. Doujinshi are not necessarily weirder than the originals, though they’re often more sexually explicit. Nor are they always crossovers – in fact, crossovers are rare in my experience. Not sure what he means by songs, which are not a common feature of any sort of comic book. I’ve never heard of a doujinshi, which is inherently a limited edition, selling more than the original official release. Maybe he means something like “there can be as much of a fanbase for the doujinshi as for the original,” which would make more sense. And why leave out the rather significant fact that they’re often gay porn?

3. The whole first 100 pages reads like that.

Maybe later there’s some in-story explanation of the book being written for use as an international manual on hacking the system, hence all the “milk is a nutritious liquid squeezed from cows” stuff in case some revolutionary in Latvia or somewhere doesn’t know what manga is and can’t be bothered to look it up on the oft-mentioned Wikipedia.

Digs at Windows Vista and Internet Explorer (only used by idiots, fascists, and people over 40) and American teenage geeks rushing to buy Astro Boy memorabilia in Japan where it is actually called Atom Boy as all the hip, with-it people know, along with many other missteps, add to the impression of a middle-aged computer geek in a teenage computer geek’s ill-fitting shoes. (And give the book the shelf life of milk.) In the already-dated near-future the book is set in, I doubt that anyone still cares about IE vs. Firefox. As for Astro Boy/Atom Boy, it’s a bit like, “I and all my teen chums are fond of the popular show My Mother, the Car.

In addition to dropping about two to four info-dumps per page, the book is preachy and self-satisfied, and the three educational afterwords urging readers to check Wikipedia talk pages and buck the system do nothing to reverse the impression that this is a Very (Self)-Important Book. And like all earnest attempts to get down with the younger generation, it’s profoundly uncool.

Though like I said, lots of smart adults loved it. You might be one! But I have to ask… does anyone know any teenagers who read it? What did they think? Likewise, did any teenagers here read it? What did you think?

Read the first chapter here. ETA: Punctuation munged on the site's excerpt, sorry. That is not a feature of the actual book.

Check it out on Amazon: Little Brother
After a terrorist attack on the Bay Area, teen hacker, security expert, and true American patriot Marcus and his geek chic pals are held by evil government forces. When the evil government forces take over America even more than they already have… well, I’m not sure exactly what happens, since that’s the point where I gave up. I assume Marcus and his friends, joined by the power of all freethinking folk on the internet, hack America to freedom. I mean with computers. Though I probably would have liked the book more if, like Lizzie Borden, they did it with an axe.

I can’t judge the entire book, because I couldn’t get through the entire book. I can, however, judge the first 100 pages, which I did read. I HATED them.

I have nothing against Cory Doctorow, and some very smart people I know adored this book. That being said, here’s my dissenting view – again, just of the first 100 pages, but you would have to pay me to make me read more.

Tone and voice are very important to me. I’ll forgive all sorts of other flaws in a book if I love the voice. This book has a very distinctive voice, which I HATED. It is the voice of a middle-aged man sweating bullets to impersonate the voice of a cool modern teenager (who is incredibly smug about being smarter than you, which was probably not intended), and simultaneously attempting to be educational about everything in the world, and to send Very Important Messages about the perils of conformity, the importance of privacy, and the folly and immorality of the modern American security state. And also to be totally accessible to any readers who might not know about certain things that most American teenagers probably do know.

The attempts to be educational and accessible, while admirable, are quite jarring. His first person narrator, supposedly a hip Bay Area teenage geek, carefully defines many words that are completely ordinary to him, like manga (manga!), the Yakuza, doujinshi, uni, Harajuku, Turkish coffee, LARPing, ARGs, carnitas, horchata, and churros. And by define, I don’t mean “slip in a definition in a natural manner," like (fake quote): I took a bite of my carnitas burrito. A few shreds of pork fell out. I mean (real quote): I stepped to the nearest burrito joint and ordered one with carnitas—shredded pork—and extra salsa.

Or this:

Like all Harajuku Fun Madness clues, it had a physical, online and mental component. The online component was a puzzle you had to solve, one that required you to research the answers to a bunch of obscure questions. This batch included a bunch of questions on the plots in doujinshi. Those are comic books drawn by fans of manga, Japanese comics. They can be as big as the official comics that inspire them, but they’re a lot weirder, with crossover storylines and sometimes really silly songs and action. Lots of love stories, of course. Everyone loves to see their favorite toons hook up.

1. Seriously, you need to define manga?

2. A modern doujinshi-knowledgeable teenager would not say “toon.”

3. If you MUST have expository lumps every few paragraphs, at least get them right. Doujinshi are not necessarily weirder than the originals, though they’re often more sexually explicit. Nor are they always crossovers – in fact, crossovers are rare in my experience. Not sure what he means by songs, which are not a common feature of any sort of comic book. I’ve never heard of a doujinshi, which is inherently a limited edition, selling more than the original official release. Maybe he means something like “there can be as much of a fanbase for the doujinshi as for the original,” which would make more sense. And why leave out the rather significant fact that they’re often gay porn?

3. The whole first 100 pages reads like that.

Maybe later there’s some in-story explanation of the book being written for use as an international manual on hacking the system, hence all the “milk is a nutritious liquid squeezed from cows” stuff in case some revolutionary in Latvia or somewhere doesn’t know what manga is and can’t be bothered to look it up on the oft-mentioned Wikipedia.

Digs at Windows Vista and Internet Explorer (only used by idiots, fascists, and people over 40) and American teenage geeks rushing to buy Astro Boy memorabilia in Japan where it is actually called Atom Boy as all the hip, with-it people know, along with many other missteps, add to the impression of a middle-aged computer geek in a teenage computer geek’s ill-fitting shoes. (And give the book the shelf life of milk.) In the already-dated near-future the book is set in, I doubt that anyone still cares about IE vs. Firefox. As for Astro Boy/Atom Boy, it’s a bit like, “I and all my teen chums are fond of the popular show My Mother, the Car.

In addition to dropping about two to four info-dumps per page, the book is preachy and self-satisfied, and the three educational afterwords urging readers to check Wikipedia talk pages and buck the system do nothing to reverse the impression that this is a Very (Self)-Important Book. And like all earnest attempts to get down with the younger generation, it’s profoundly uncool.

Though like I said, lots of smart adults loved it. You might be one! But I have to ask… does anyone know any teenagers who read it? What did they think? Likewise, did any teenagers here read it? What did you think?

Read the first chapter here. ETA: Punctuation munged on the site's excerpt, sorry. That is not a feature of the actual book.

Check it out on Amazon: Little Brother
The Fiend of the Week was [livejournal.com profile] telophase! She sent me these two rather bad novels of human-Klingon interaction. In both, there is at least a potentially interesting story concerning original characters intercut with a story about the Enterprise crew in which the author clearly has no interest whatsoever.

In Pawns and Symbols, the marginally better of the two, biracial botanist Jean Czerny is captured by Klingons who want her new strain of grain. Captain Kang gives her a dagger so she can demonstrate her knife-throwing skills and skewer one of his officers— no, I don’t understand this either, except that it demonstrates that she is spunky— then tries to starve her into submission so she’ll reveal the grain formula.

She ends up on the Klingon homeworld and married to Kang. (By then he’s stopped torturing her and this is as consensual as is possible under the circumstances.) He has another wife, but Klingons are polygamous so this is cool. There is a supremely unfunny comic subplot involving Cyrano Jones. Kirk and crew capture a Romulan woman whom Chekhov gets a crush on. In the end there’s a completely predictable surprise twist. Readable but not good.

In Dwellers in the Crucible, various people called Warrantors of Peace have nuclear codes implanted in their hearts so that in order to launch a nuclear war, their planets’ leaders would have to personally cut out their hearts. Cleante, an Egyptian woman who gets all sorts of often exoticized descriptions of her astounding beauty (the worst, by which I mean most vomitous rather than most exoticized, is when Kirk sees her frolicking with butterflies and thinks how she’s the most beautiful flower in the garden), befriends one of the Warrantors, a Vulcan woman named T’Shael. They are very, very, very, very close. And become even closer when they and some other Warrantors are kidnapped by Klingons. Femmeslashy hurt/comfort ensues. T’Shael goes into pon farr and almost dies; disappointingly, this is resolved by sedating her rather than by Cleante having sex with her.

T’Shael almost dies to save Cleante; Cleante agrees to be raped by the Klingon Kalon to save from the same fate. Cleante then decides that Kalon is kind of a nice, sexy guy except for the rape, torture, and death threats. EW. They are rescued by the Enterprise, and Kirk and Spock assist their recovery by counseling them on Vulcan-human love. I am totally serious.

This would be right up my alley if it wasn’t so terribly written and if it wasn’t for the creepy rapist-loving, which also comes across as obligatory heterosexuality. I could have done without the information that Klingons have three testicles and vestigial scaling (hopefully not on the testicles.) There, now you all share my need for brain-bleach.

Dwellers in the Crucible (Star Trek, No 25)

Pawns and Symbols (Star Trek, No 26)
The Fiend of the Week was [livejournal.com profile] telophase! She sent me these two rather bad novels of human-Klingon interaction. In both, there is at least a potentially interesting story concerning original characters intercut with a story about the Enterprise crew in which the author clearly has no interest whatsoever.

In Pawns and Symbols, the marginally better of the two, biracial botanist Jean Czerny is captured by Klingons who want her new strain of grain. Captain Kang gives her a dagger so she can demonstrate her knife-throwing skills and skewer one of his officers— no, I don’t understand this either, except that it demonstrates that she is spunky— then tries to starve her into submission so she’ll reveal the grain formula.

She ends up on the Klingon homeworld and married to Kang. (By then he’s stopped torturing her and this is as consensual as is possible under the circumstances.) He has another wife, but Klingons are polygamous so this is cool. There is a supremely unfunny comic subplot involving Cyrano Jones. Kirk and crew capture a Romulan woman whom Chekhov gets a crush on. In the end there’s a completely predictable surprise twist. Readable but not good.

In Dwellers in the Crucible, various people called Warrantors of Peace have nuclear codes implanted in their hearts so that in order to launch a nuclear war, their planets’ leaders would have to personally cut out their hearts. Cleante, an Egyptian woman who gets all sorts of often exoticized descriptions of her astounding beauty (the worst, by which I mean most vomitous rather than most exoticized, is when Kirk sees her frolicking with butterflies and thinks how she’s the most beautiful flower in the garden), befriends one of the Warrantors, a Vulcan woman named T’Shael. They are very, very, very, very close. And become even closer when they and some other Warrantors are kidnapped by Klingons. Femmeslashy hurt/comfort ensues. T’Shael goes into pon farr and almost dies; disappointingly, this is resolved by sedating her rather than by Cleante having sex with her.

T’Shael almost dies to save Cleante; Cleante agrees to be raped by the Klingon Kalon to save from the same fate. Cleante then decides that Kalon is kind of a nice, sexy guy except for the rape, torture, and death threats. EW. They are rescued by the Enterprise, and Kirk and Spock assist their recovery by counseling them on Vulcan-human love. I am totally serious.

This would be right up my alley if it wasn’t so terribly written and if it wasn’t for the creepy rapist-loving, which also comes across as obligatory heterosexuality. I could have done without the information that Klingons have three testicles and vestigial scaling (hopefully not on the testicles.) There, now you all share my need for brain-bleach.

Dwellers in the Crucible (Star Trek, No 25)

Pawns and Symbols (Star Trek, No 26)
I did not receive any of the Harlequin titles, which I note all actually exist. Nor did I receive The Very Virile Viking or The Vampire Queen’s Servant, which also exist. I already own Clan of Death: Ninja, and have it reviewed somewhere under the tag genre: ninja.

Sadly, I am unaware of the existence of Knives Chau plushies. Cthulu plushies exist, and I waaaant one.

In-To-Me-See does not exist. Thank God. It was a fictional book on Sex and the City.

Nobody has ever sent me a head or a fetus (yet), though [livejournal.com profile] oyceter emailed me an article about a found fetus in a jar.

[livejournal.com profile] tool_of_satan sent me Spock, Messiah! It is even worse than it sounds: sexist, Islamophobic, profoundly stupid, abominably written, boring when not offensive, and did I mention sexist? The original cover is hilarious, though, with a strangely-proportioned Spock looking paranoid, insane, and constipated.

The Federation has the bright and totally ethically unobjectionable idea of infiltrating an uncontacted planet by hooking up the landing party’s brains to the brains of unknowing locals (via a long-distance telepathic thingummy), so that the landing party will react in-character as their local telepathic doppelgangers. THAT couldn’t possibly go wrong!

A repressed female ensign deliberately takes a nymphomaniac persona to see what it’s like, but her repressed crush on Spock manifests and so she hooks him up to a mentally deficient and insane local religious fanatic with a high sex drive so he’ll want to fuck her.

The possessed ensign “ruts like a bitch in heat” with Spock. Spock goes insane and takes over everything. This would be much more fun if we cold see Leonard Nimoy playing a different character, but since we can’t, it’s pretty dull. There’s more rutting and attempted rutting, and it’s STILL dull.

I did not expect this book to be as bad as its title indicates. Amazingly, it is.

Thanks Dan!

View on Amazon (with less hilarious cover): SPOCK, MESSIAH! (Star Trek)
I did not receive any of the Harlequin titles, which I note all actually exist. Nor did I receive The Very Virile Viking or The Vampire Queen’s Servant, which also exist. I already own Clan of Death: Ninja, and have it reviewed somewhere under the tag genre: ninja.

Sadly, I am unaware of the existence of Knives Chau plushies. Cthulu plushies exist, and I waaaant one.

In-To-Me-See does not exist. Thank God. It was a fictional book on Sex and the City.

Nobody has ever sent me a head or a fetus (yet), though [livejournal.com profile] oyceter emailed me an article about a found fetus in a jar.

[livejournal.com profile] tool_of_satan sent me Spock, Messiah! It is even worse than it sounds: sexist, Islamophobic, profoundly stupid, abominably written, boring when not offensive, and did I mention sexist? The original cover is hilarious, though, with a strangely-proportioned Spock looking paranoid, insane, and constipated.

The Federation has the bright and totally ethically unobjectionable idea of infiltrating an uncontacted planet by hooking up the landing party’s brains to the brains of unknowing locals (via a long-distance telepathic thingummy), so that the landing party will react in-character as their local telepathic doppelgangers. THAT couldn’t possibly go wrong!

A repressed female ensign deliberately takes a nymphomaniac persona to see what it’s like, but her repressed crush on Spock manifests and so she hooks him up to a mentally deficient and insane local religious fanatic with a high sex drive so he’ll want to fuck her.

The possessed ensign “ruts like a bitch in heat” with Spock. Spock goes insane and takes over everything. This would be much more fun if we cold see Leonard Nimoy playing a different character, but since we can’t, it’s pretty dull. There’s more rutting and attempted rutting, and it’s STILL dull.

I did not expect this book to be as bad as its title indicates. Amazingly, it is.

Thanks Dan!

View on Amazon (with less hilarious cover): SPOCK, MESSIAH! (Star Trek)
[livejournal.com profile] telophase mailed me this book at her own expense. All the same, I am not sure whether to blame it on her or on [livejournal.com profile] buymeaclue, who alerted us all to its existence.

In all his years as a unicorn, he had never experienced such emotions before.

My single biggest problem with this book, even more than the amusingly bad writing, inexplicable character motivations, WTF climax, and shocking lack of id-tastic exploitation of the premise, was that I disliked both the romantic leads. Mariah is a moron and Ash is a pain. I was disturbed by the thought of them getting together and having annoying, stupid, one-horned babies.

Mariah is an American whose mother is insane – or so she thinks! Actually, she has Second Sight, which Mariah inherits. Her father talks her into getting married, and in one paragraph, she meets, falls in love with, and marries the English Lord Donnington. Several months later, he has taken off without consummating the marriage, leaving Mariah alone to discover a mostly-naked man imprisoned in the folly.

As he withdrew his hand, she saw something that made the squirming minnows in her middle seem like ravenous sharks.

The nudeish guy seems insane, but is really hot. Strangely, except for his hair, he looks just like her husband.

The first thing Mariah noticed was his eyes… black, as black as her husband’s, but twice as brilliant, like the darkest of diamonds.

But hotter.

He wore only a scrap of cloth around his hips, barely covering a member that must have been impressively large.

Much hotter.

She noticed that his - she swallowed - his "member" was very much in evidence beneath his loincloth.

Mariah names him Ash and gives him clothing.

She counted to herself, waiting for him to gather up the garment, put it on, fasten the buttons over his... burgeoning masculinity. If the buttons would close at all.

It does not occur to her that this might make his captors figure out that someone’s helping him. But with the help of Donnington’s brother Sinjin, she busts him out before anyone does notice. While Ash cozies up to Prince Albert, Mariah envisions Ash as a unicorn, flirts with him, sees fairies, and is the object of bizarrely unmotivated scheming by a neighbor named Pamela. That takes up most of the book.

Toward the end, Mariah has sex with Ash.

It was more than merely hard; its circumference was so large that at first she wasn’t sure that her hand would fit around it.

But Mariah is also prodigious! When Ash withdraws during intercourse:

She tried to hold him inside, but her left her, and the opening he had filled wept with grief.

…wisecracks fail me.

Donnington and a Fane (Fae) Lord, Cairbre, return, and there is a flurry of infodumping, concluding in a truly LOLWTF climax.

LOLWTF )

None of this makes more sense in context. In fact, in context it makes even less sense.

There is an epilogue with a baby. No book has ever been improved by the addition of an epilogue with a baby. I wish I could say it has a horn, but no, just healing powers.

I am now mailing this book to another brave volunteer. I will alert you all when her review appears.

View on Amazon: Lord of Legends
[livejournal.com profile] telophase mailed me this book at her own expense. All the same, I am not sure whether to blame it on her or on [livejournal.com profile] buymeaclue, who alerted us all to its existence.

In all his years as a unicorn, he had never experienced such emotions before.

My single biggest problem with this book, even more than the amusingly bad writing, inexplicable character motivations, WTF climax, and shocking lack of id-tastic exploitation of the premise, was that I disliked both the romantic leads. Mariah is a moron and Ash is a pain. I was disturbed by the thought of them getting together and having annoying, stupid, one-horned babies.

Mariah is an American whose mother is insane – or so she thinks! Actually, she has Second Sight, which Mariah inherits. Her father talks her into getting married, and in one paragraph, she meets, falls in love with, and marries the English Lord Donnington. Several months later, he has taken off without consummating the marriage, leaving Mariah alone to discover a mostly-naked man imprisoned in the folly.

As he withdrew his hand, she saw something that made the squirming minnows in her middle seem like ravenous sharks.

The nudeish guy seems insane, but is really hot. Strangely, except for his hair, he looks just like her husband.

The first thing Mariah noticed was his eyes… black, as black as her husband’s, but twice as brilliant, like the darkest of diamonds.

But hotter.

He wore only a scrap of cloth around his hips, barely covering a member that must have been impressively large.

Much hotter.

She noticed that his - she swallowed - his "member" was very much in evidence beneath his loincloth.

Mariah names him Ash and gives him clothing.

She counted to herself, waiting for him to gather up the garment, put it on, fasten the buttons over his... burgeoning masculinity. If the buttons would close at all.

It does not occur to her that this might make his captors figure out that someone’s helping him. But with the help of Donnington’s brother Sinjin, she busts him out before anyone does notice. While Ash cozies up to Prince Albert, Mariah envisions Ash as a unicorn, flirts with him, sees fairies, and is the object of bizarrely unmotivated scheming by a neighbor named Pamela. That takes up most of the book.

Toward the end, Mariah has sex with Ash.

It was more than merely hard; its circumference was so large that at first she wasn’t sure that her hand would fit around it.

But Mariah is also prodigious! When Ash withdraws during intercourse:

She tried to hold him inside, but her left her, and the opening he had filled wept with grief.

…wisecracks fail me.

Donnington and a Fane (Fae) Lord, Cairbre, return, and there is a flurry of infodumping, concluding in a truly LOLWTF climax.

LOLWTF )

None of this makes more sense in context. In fact, in context it makes even less sense.

There is an epilogue with a baby. No book has ever been improved by the addition of an epilogue with a baby. I wish I could say it has a horn, but no, just healing powers.

I am now mailing this book to another brave volunteer. I will alert you all when her review appears.
This is not from the POC Challenge. The author and all the main characters are white. I note that of the last three books I read, the two POC Challenge books were awesome, and the random white guy book was awful. The universe is encouraging me to continue the challenge!

I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated this YA novel, which has won a number of awards which it totally did not deserve. Hate. Hate. Hate. Let me tell you why!

It opens with a creepily evocative piece of writing from the point of view of a child, Shine, living with her three younger sisters and their psychotic mother, who thinks she's the queen of a fantasyland called Fireless.

Then it switches to the same child, now a teenager named Frances, who is living with her adoptive parents in Alabama. Her birth mother and sisters are nowhere around. Anyone who follows the news can instantly figure out what happened, though Nelson doesn't reveal it until about a third of the way into the book. Frances seems reasonably well-adjusted, though with some residual PTSD.

She falls for the new boy at school, Nix, who is from New Orleans and is Quirky with a capital Q. He has an autistic brother and is great with the school's developmentally disabled student and takes her to a furniture store for a date and is just fine that everyone thinks he's weird because of all the great things he does for his autistic brother and is generally a saint. I hated him. Especially when he kept dropping "Mammy Ida," his Creole nanny, into the conversation. (Or is "mammy" totally not racially offensive in New Orleans and Alabama?)

Frances gets a message via a lawyer from her birth mother, now in a halfway house for murderers found not guilty by reason of insanity, to come see her. So she and Nix go on a road trip into her past.

Why I hated this book:

1. I have a problem with the use of autistic people as devices to show how wonderful neurotypical people are for being nice to them. If the autistic brother was a real character, that would be different, but he isn't. He's just there to show how awesome Nix is.

Frances has a climactic realization that all people are damaged and broken, from the brother to her mother to her and Nix. That does not work at all. If her PTSD was severe enough to EVER make anyone think she's scary or different or Other in any way, that could have worked... but it isn't.

2. Nix really rubbed me the wrong way. I think Nelson tried too hard to make me love him.

3. The climax was possibly the stupidest thing I've read all year. If the book had been a thriller, it... still would have been stupid. But at least it would have been less jarring. A mainstream novel should not climax with the discovery that...

OMGWTFBBQ )

The end!

View on Amazon: Breathe My Name
This is not from the POC Challenge. The author and all the main characters are white. I note that of the last three books I read, the two POC Challenge books were awesome, and the random white guy book was awful. The universe is encouraging me to continue the challenge!

I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated this YA novel, which has won a number of awards which it totally did not deserve. Hate. Hate. Hate. Let me tell you why!

It opens with a creepily evocative piece of writing from the point of view of a child, Shine, living with her three younger sisters and their psychotic mother, who thinks she's the queen of a fantasyland called Fireless.

Then it switches to the same child, now a teenager named Frances, who is living with her adoptive parents in Alabama. Her birth mother and sisters are nowhere around. Anyone who follows the news can instantly figure out what happened, though Nelson doesn't reveal it until about a third of the way into the book. Frances seems reasonably well-adjusted, though with some residual PTSD.

She falls for the new boy at school, Nix, who is from New Orleans and is Quirky with a capital Q. He has an autistic brother and is great with the school's developmentally disabled student and takes her to a furniture store for a date and is just fine that everyone thinks he's weird because of all the great things he does for his autistic brother and is generally a saint. I hated him. Especially when he kept dropping "Mammy Ida," his Creole nanny, into the conversation. (Or is "mammy" totally not racially offensive in New Orleans and Alabama?)

Frances gets a message via a lawyer from her birth mother, now in a halfway house for murderers found not guilty by reason of insanity, to come see her. So she and Nix go on a road trip into her past.

Why I hated this book:

1. I have a problem with the use of autistic people as devices to show how wonderful neurotypical people are for being nice to them. If the autistic brother was a real character, that would be different, but he isn't. He's just there to show how awesome Nix is.

Frances has a climactic realization that all people are damaged and broken, from the brother to her mother to her and Nix. That does not work at all. If her PTSD was severe enough to EVER make anyone think she's scary or different or Other in any way, that could have worked... but it isn't.

2. Nix really rubbed me the wrong way. I think Nelson tried too hard to make me love him.

3. The climax was possibly the stupidest thing I've read all year. If the book had been a thriller, it... still would have been stupid. But at least it would have been less jarring. A mainstream novel should not climax with the discovery that...

OMGWTFBBQ )
From recent correspondence:

[livejournal.com profile] the_red_shoes: "In the classic Against Our Will Brownmiller writes of going to the library to look up The Fountainhead for that classic 'rape-by-engraved-invitation' (so it was described BY ITS AUTHOR) passage and the book FELL OPEN to the right page. Slightly scary."

Me: "As a young girl I was so desperate for information about sex porn that I read...

Gary Jennings' horrible novel Aztecs, which scarred me because the porn was interspersed with horrible deaths by leprosy, fire, hearts ripped out, torture, etc.

About a zillion scare-tactic novels meant to terrorize kids out of doing drugs/having sex/leaving the house, like Go Ask Alice.

Piers Anthony.

Jack C. Chalker.

Clan of the Cave Bear.

Though not, thank goodness, Ayn Rand. But if I'd known those had sex I'd probably at least have skimmed to look for it, hence contributing to the page falling open to the invitation to rape scene."

Clan of the Cave Bear was responsible for me acquiring the odd belief, at the age of about ten, that the clitoris expands significantly during puberty. That's because Ayla's sounded so gigantic compared to my own.

Did any of you also desperately skim for sex when you were young (or old?) What were the worst, most inappropriate, most misleading, or least erotic books you read in your quest for porn?
From recent correspondence:

[livejournal.com profile] the_red_shoes: "In the classic Against Our Will Brownmiller writes of going to the library to look up The Fountainhead for that classic 'rape-by-engraved-invitation' (so it was described BY ITS AUTHOR) passage and the book FELL OPEN to the right page. Slightly scary."

Me: "As a young girl I was so desperate for information about sex porn that I read...

Gary Jennings' horrible novel Aztecs, which scarred me because the porn was interspersed with horrible deaths by leprosy, fire, hearts ripped out, torture, etc.

About a zillion scare-tactic novels meant to terrorize kids out of doing drugs/having sex/leaving the house, like Go Ask Alice.

Piers Anthony.

Jack C. Chalker.

Clan of the Cave Bear.

Though not, thank goodness, Ayn Rand. But if I'd known those had sex I'd probably at least have skimmed to look for it, hence contributing to the page falling open to the invitation to rape scene."

Clan of the Cave Bear was responsible for me acquiring the odd belief, at the age of about ten, that the clitoris expands significantly during puberty. That's because Ayla's sounded so gigantic compared to my own.

Did any of you also desperately skim for sex when you were young (or old?) What were the worst, most inappropriate, most misleading, or least erotic books you read in your quest for porn?
See post below for context, ie, if you guys don't entertain me, I can't guarantee I won't flee into the cold night in my jammies.

Last week [livejournal.com profile] lady_ganesh asked me to name and briefly describe the five worst books I'd ever read. I replied:

Oh God, SO MANY! How to choose?!

1. Robin Hobb's Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2). Almost 700 pages worth of people abusing the hero for being fat. About every 150 pages some plot peeks in, gets abused for being fat, and flees in terror.

2. Spider Robinson's Star Seed. Deus ex machina via enlightenment, space hippies, Chinese people as the symbol of evil-- and it's even worse than I'm making it sound! (The Stardance Trilogy omnibus of Stardance, Starseed and Starmind)

3. Jack C. Chalker's The Changewinds (Baen Science Fiction) trilogy. Stupid ungrammatical self-conscious creepy misogynist sex fantasy. Women are magically transformed into sex objects and love it. Other women are transformed into fat baby machines as punishment. A woman climbs naked through the sand wearing nothing but a diamond-studded holster and a six-gun, thinking "This is ridiculous... and yet, damned sexy!"

4. Terry Goodkind's stupid books. Unsexy S&M, terrible writing, clonk-you-over-the-head libertarianism, and the heroine is terrorized by an evil chicken. (Wizard's First Rule (The Sword of Truth))

5. Whichever was the last Xanth book I read. Lame puns and a leering preoccupation with the panties of little girls. EW.

Also books by Leo Frankowsky and S. M. Stirling -- misogynist tirades and violence-porn, respectively -- but I didn't read enough of those to really be able to put them on the worst list, though I feel that they belong there.

God, I'm sure I've traumatically repressed many, many more. You should also click my "awesomely bad books" tag.

Gentle readers, please name and describe the five worst books you have ever read.
See post below for context, ie, if you guys don't entertain me, I can't guarantee I won't flee into the cold night in my jammies.

Last week [livejournal.com profile] lady_ganesh asked me to name and briefly describe the five worst books I'd ever read. I replied:

Oh God, SO MANY! How to choose?!

1. Robin Hobb's Forest Mage. Almost 700 pages worth of people abusing the hero for being fat. About every 150 pages some plot peeks in, gets abused for being fat, and flees in terror.

2. Spider Robinson's Star Seed. Deus ex machina via enlightenment, space hippies, Chinese people as the symbol of evil-- and it's even worse than I'm making it sound!

3. Jack C. Chalker's "Changewinds" trilogy. Stupid ungrammatical self-conscious creepy misogynist sex fantasy. Women are magically transformed into sex objects and love it. Other women are transformed into fat baby machines as punishment. A woman climbs naked through the sand wearing nothing but a diamond-studded holster and a six-gun, thinking "This is ridiculous... and yet, damned sexy!"

4. Terry Goodkind's stupid books. Unsexy S&M, terrible writing, clonk-you-over-the-head libertarianism, and the heroine is terrorized by an evil chicken.

5. Whichever was the last Xanth book I read. Lame puns and a leering preoccupation with the panties of little girls. EW.

Also books by Leo Frankowsky and S. M. Stirling -- misogynist tirades and violence-porn, respectively -- but I didn't read enough of those to really be able to put them on the worst list, though I feel that they belong there.

God, I'm sure I've traumatically repressed many, many more. You should also click my "awesomely bad books" tag.

Gentle readers, please name and describe the five worst books you have ever read.
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Mar. 14th, 2008 10:19 am)
I now can't find the exact text of this meme, but it was something like, "Is there anything you've always wanted to ask me, but were afraid to or the subject never came up? Ask away!"

Ask away!
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Mar. 14th, 2008 10:19 am)
I now can't find the exact text of this meme, but it was something like, "Is there anything you've always wanted to ask me, but were afraid to or the subject never came up? Ask away!"

Ask away!
.

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