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August 2008 Archives

August 2, 2008

No Dominion



No Dominion, by Charlie Huston

Second in the Joe Pitt series by Charlie Huston...

This time Joe ends up getting himself sucked (sorry, bad pun) into the political wranglings of all three of the major vamp groups in an effort to find a way to survive on his own terms. I ended up feeling really bad for him by the end of the book. He's being used and he knows it, but there really isn't a whole heck of a lot he can do about it.

His relationship with Evie gets a bit more complicated too. She isn't responding as well to her meds any more and he very much wants to help her any way he can (except for in the one way that would actually cure her). She ends up finding out a few things about him and he ends up with the perfect opportunity to tell her what's really going on, but he makes up a rather ridiculous story instead. I get that he's trying to protect her, but I kind of feel like it ought to be her choice, not his.

August 5, 2008

Dead Until Dark



Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris

First in the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampires series by Charlaine Harris...

This wasn't bad, kind of light "popcorn" reading.

Since this is a new vampire series for me I'll do my standard and start with the vamp rules. Sunlight kills them pretty much right away and they're unconcious during the day, garlic and silver don't kill but will weaken them. They drink blood exclusively, and can feed without killing, however there is a synthetic blood substitute available that provides everything they need but apparently doesn't taste very good. Maybe like diet pop compared to the real thing. And they have the ability to put a "glamour" on people so they won't remember things or will do whatever the vamp wants.

The main character isn't a vamp, but she isn't strictly a "normal" human either. She's a telepath and has spent her entire life trying to figure out how to deal with hearing things she doesn't want to hear. She calls it her "disability" and people treat her like she's slightly nuts, they all know there's something different about her, but none of them really want to believe it.

This is also one of those series where at least some of the supernatural creatures are "out", in this case it's the vampires but that's about it. There are other beings, but only the vamps are known to the world at large.

There's a really interesting scene with the main vamp (Bill) talking to a group of people about the Civil War, about what happened to him during it. It's something that is so far removed from people now and the reactions to what happened are completely different. He was there, he has an emotional connection to it, it almost seems crass the way people ask him about it.

And some basic plot stuff so I remember which book this is... women who have a past of associating with vampires are being killed, but it doesn't seem that a vamp is responsible. There's also a small group of vamps being obnoxious and making it difficult for Bill to "mainstream".

This falls under example 3 in the Romance Disclaimer

The Romance Disclaimer

I've talked about this a little bit before, but I figured I should have it all in one spot so I don't have to repeat myself every single time I read a book that has any kind of a "romance" angle to it.

The romance genre isn't one I tend to enjoy as a rule. The "bodice rippers" with Fabio clones on the cover are something I just do not understand. Physical attraction isn't something I grok. If people are talking about some cute new person at work or in a bar or wherever I have no idea who they're discussing. Once someone says something and then I look at whomever, then I'll maybe notice if they're cute/hot/whatever, it isn't something I notice on my own.

On TV or in movies I tend to be attracted to personalities, to attitudes, and honestly to geeks. Charlie on Numb3rs, Reed on Criminal Minds, Michael on Prison Break, etc... now, yes a lot of them (*cough* Wentworth *cough*) are also hot/cute but they're actors so they mostly all are anyway, and that tends to be very secondary. Aside from the geeks there's also those characters that have some kind of strength, an attitude about them. These tend to be the non-human guys... Superman, Duncan MacLeod, Henry Fitzroy. I don't start thinking about any of them as attractive right off the bat, it's something they become.

Reading sex scenes in excrutiating detail makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I don't want to know every little detail of who put what where. It is not hot, it does not turn me on. Similarly, I don't enjoy explicit sex scenes in movies and tv. It is more than enough for me to know it happened. If it simply must be there, keep it to a PG-13 level.

Every now and then I end up in a position where the story of a book intrigues me enough to pick it up even though I know it's a "romance" book. Or someone recommends something and I start it without knowing exactly what kind of book it is. Books in general have to be spectacularly bad for me to not finish them. And since I keep track of what I read I then have to explain why I've read something that I didn't enjoy!

So this is my solution, I'm going to list some examples or groups and then when I read things in the future I can just say "this falls under example 1" and leave it at that. If you click on the "romance" category you can see where I put which books.

So!

Example 1 - These are the ones that I understand the least, there tends to be very little plot, characters fall instantly in love and are driven completely to distraction by each others' bodies. The purpose of the book isn't to tell a story, it's to write about sex. There is no way to skim past the parts that make me squicky because that's most of the book.

Example 2 - I think I would call this the "skimmable" category. There's an actual story and characters that can do things other than think about sex. However, sex still shows up a lot and when it is there it's quite graphic. Characters maybe don't fall in love quite as quickly as in Example 1, but still rather fast and inexplicable. These are books that I'll put up with if the story is good or interesting. I can skim past the stuff I don't like and just enjoy the actual plot of the book.

Example 3 - These are approaching what I'd consider a "normal" book. Still romance-y, but leaning more towards relationships instead of just physical attraction. Characters actually learn a bit about each other before hopping into bed. Not books that I'll seek out, but I'm ok reading them if I come across them.

Example 4 - And we've arrived at what I'd call a "normal" book that happens to have characters who have physical relationships. The focus of these is on the plot and characters, there's reasons for what they do beyond the physical. Sex scenes are kept to the afformentioned PG-13 level. We get enough details to know what happened, but it isn't explicit.

I think that covers most of it, I may expand this or change it a bit as I continue, but it should serve its purpose of keeping me from repeating myself every time I read something outside of my normal reading areas.

August 6, 2008

Living Dead in Dallas



Living Dead in Dallas, by Charlaine Harris

Second in the Southern Vamps/Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris...

As is obvious from the dateline on the post, these are easy reading!

There are a number of plotlines going in this one. First off, the cook of the bar where Sookie works is murdered, and then she gets sent to Dallas to use her special talents to help the vampires there figure out why one of their own has disappeared.

The business in Dallas gets complicated by a group of anti-vampire fanatics. Which makes sense. In a world where vampires are a known thing, I would assume there would be people who would want to get rid of them. It really underlines the vulnerability of the vamps (at least this kind, where they're asleep during the day). If someone who wants to do you harm can figure out where you hide during the day, there's nothing you can do to protect yourself from them.

We also get to learn just a bit more about some of the other supernatural creatures, the shapeshifters mostly.

This falls near example 3 in the Romance Disclaimer

August 8, 2008

Cry Wolf



Cry Wolf, by Patricia Briggs

First in the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs...

This actually starts with a novella in the anthology "On the Prowl", but I didn't read that whole book, just the part that applies to this book so for my purposes I'm treating that as a Chapter 0 in this book. It's in the same universe as her Mercy Thompson series and builds off one of the plotlines from the first book, Moon Called, in that series. It has to do with what happened when Bran sent Charles to Chicago to deal with whatever had gone wrong with the pack there.

This was one of those wonderful books that completely pulled me in and I just wanted to sit and read it and not do anything else! There's a number of really beautiful scenes that really grabbed me emotionally. The funeral part-way through (which is related to someone who dies in Moon Called) was one that made me completely lose it.

There's also bits sprinkled through it that flesh out some of what was happening with certain characters in Moon Called, mostly Samuel. There's more about why he decided to go stay with Mercy. And a lot more about the history of Bran and Samuel which was really cool. I liked learning more about their past and how they became who they are.

I really liked getting to know Charles more. He's such a secondary character in the Mercy series, and there's a lot to him! He has such an important role in Bran's pack, and it's a responsiblity he accepts, but it's a hard role to play. It holds him very separate from most everyone else.

So, a bit of plot stuff... first we wrap up some loose ends from Moon Called. Then there's people being attacked in Bran's territory and it looks like a rogue but it might be something more dangerous, some kind of attack on Bran's authority. So Charles has to go check it out. There's also stuff to do with one of the other very old wolves in the pack and what happened to his mate a couple hundred years prior.

I'm very much liking this author and I think I'm going to have to try one of her other series soon!

August 13, 2008

On Basilisk Station



On Basilisk Station, by David Weber

First in the Honor Harrington series by David Weber...

It's a re-read! For some reason I was feeling like reading some Honor Harrington so here we are. I very much enjoy this series and I don't think I've done any re-reading of it before.

A lot of the characters continue in later books in the series and it was really fun to see them back at the beginning again. How they all met, their first impressions of each other, the original Fearless...

We already know that I love this series so this'll be short. This one is (rather obviously) the one where Honor gets sent to Basilisk Station and has to deal with all kinds of craziness there with a ship that's been practically gutted by a nutty weaponry theorist.

August 15, 2008

Cyborg



Cyborg, by Martin Caidin

By Martin Caidin, this book was the basis for a TV movie and then the TV show "The Six Million Dollar Man".

This was an odd read, and it's become slightly more strange now that I've read a couple of the reviews that were left for it over on Amazon. All the reviews there were these glowing "best book ever" "amazing sci-fi" things, which was really not my experience at all.

The story itself isn't bad and there's some mildly interesting cybernetics/bionics bits. Maybe at the time it was written (early 70's) it would have been more revolutionary as far as that particular subject goes. But the issues I had weren't really to do with the science at all.

First issue is that it's incredibly sexist. Yes I'm sure part of that is because of when it was written, but I've read lots of sci-fi "classics" that were written decades ago that don't have that problem. The women all do that "damsel in distress/I just want the big strong man to love me" thing, which is just weird. And the guys do that "I'm going to make the decisions for your own good" thing. The characters in general, but the women in particular are very two-dimensional.

Moving on from that, the attitudes after the main character gets hurt (which allows him to become the bionic man and all that) struck me as really off. Again, maybe it's because at the time it was written there weren't as many options for people with serious injuries. But even so, they seemed extreme. It was just assumed that of course he'll want to kill himself, who wouldn't? And then it took forever for the dude to start interacting with the world again. All the characters' baseline attitudes seemed very out of wack to me. If it were one or two of them, fine. But this was all of them. It would have been more realistic to have a range of attitudes and reactions.

Also, it took quite a long time for anything to happen. Both in terms of time within the story and pages for the reader. I found myself thinking "get on with it already!" more than once! A lot of the science and explanations took a lot longer than seemed necessary, and rather dry on top of it. It just seemed overly elaborate for no real reason.

There are a couple more books that were written (I think there's four total in the series) but I'm not at all sure I'll try any of them. Maybe I'll hunt up the next one and skim it to see if it gets any better before committing to the whole thing.

August 21, 2008

Smoke and Mirrors



Smoke and Mirrors, by Tanya Huff

Second in the "Smoke and" series by Tanya Huff...

I'm thinking I might like these more if they were a completely seperate series and didn't have these little tantalizing bits of Henry in them. There's just enough there to make me notice how much he isn't there.

Aside from my "I want more Henry" issues, I do like this series. I love the whole TV thing, behind the scenes stuff always fascinates me. I'm one of those people that wants commentaries on everything and loves behind the scenes featurettes on my DVDs. Yes, I work in TV, but it's TV news which is a completely different thing. The one thing that is the same though is the distribution of people. There's so many more behind the camera than in front, no matter what kind of TV it is.

So... Tony is starting to figure out what the whole "being a wizard" thing means. And ends up having to "out" himself to a big bunch of his co-workers when they all get stuck in a very haunted house where they were shooting. It makes for an odd dynamic since he's low man on the totem pole, being a PA, but he's the one who has at least some idea of what's going on so he has to at least somewhat be in charge.

August 23, 2008

Smoke and Ashes



Smoke and Ashes, by Tanya Huff

Third in the "Smoke &" series by Tanya Huff...

Alrighty... since I've already talked about this series quite a bit before I'll skip rehashing all of that.

So Tony realized in the last book that it'd be a good idea to actually work on the whole wizard thing so he has a bit more control of his abilities in this one. Still not great, but better than last time! Which is good since there's all kinds of nastiness being shoved through various gates that he has to take care of.

There's also all kinds of business with Lee and the two of them finally relating to each other as people instead of PA and star.

August 28, 2008

Consequences



Consequences, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Number three in the Retrieval Artist series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch... The first book is here, the second here.

This one is a bit of a departure from the first two since it doesn't really involve aliens. There was a civil war on a colony planet more than a decade ago, and certain people ended up disappearing since they were under death sentences. The power structure on that planet has since changed and pardons have been issued and everyone can supposedly come out of hiding.

Miles ends up retrieving one of those people and there are all kinds of consequences steming from that decision that go all the way back to the reason they disappeared in the first place. A number of people die and would they have if he hadn't retrieved that person?

A lot of the core story ends up being about the lengths people will go to to get their desired result. Very much a "do the ends justify the means" kind of thing.

No Surrender



No Surrender, by Various

Fourth dead tree Star Trek: SCE book. Has ebooks #13-16...

This is one of my few re-reads so far that are since I started the book blog, it showed up originally here. I didn't write much about it at the time, and I don't think I will this time either.

I'm now caught up to where I left off last time in the SCE series so the next one I read in it will be new.

About August 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Sunidesus Reads in August 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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