Wednesday, September 25, 2013


kindness goes unpunished cover

Walt Longmire and his bestie, Henry Standing Bear, drive from Durant, Wyoming, to Philadelphia to visit Walt's daughter, Cady. When Walt gets there, however, Cady is too busy to meet him for dinner. Like, really, your dad just drove 2,000 miles to see you and you can't take off work early? ANYway, that night Cady is pushed down a staircase and nearly dies. Naturally, being a cop, Walt starts investigating. With the help of Henry and the Moretti clan (the family of his deputy, Vic), he discovers a web of City Hall corruption and drug dealing connected to his daughter's attacker.

I'll be honest, I wasn't crazy into Kindness Goes Unpunished. Maybe it was the setting or maybe it was the fact that I found the plot nearly incomprehensible, but uhg. Just thinking about the last quarter of the story makes me TIRED. Also, by weird coincidence Kindness Goes Unpunished is the second book this month I read with a coma patient in it. Writing protip: talking to people in a coma isn't that exciting.

So, yeah. It wasn't a DNF but it tested the bounds of believability and patience for me. However, I do have to say that I find the differences between Cady in the Longmire books and Cady in the Longmire TV show interesting. In the books, she's a high-powered, career-focused attorney with her own life. That's obvious even though the story is told from Walt's point of view. In the TV show, she lives in Durant and her life revolves around her dad and "taking care of him" after her mother's death (even though it feels closer to nagging). She had some sort of job before she moved back to Durant, but I'm not clear on what that was exactly. In the second season, she starts working as a waitress at Henry's bar, The Red Pony, so her dad can lecture her about hanging around drunk people.

Now I know in order for Cady to be on the show regularly she has to be in Durant a lot, but I find it interesting that the TV show made her a lot less independent and, well, ADULT than the Cady in the books. At one point on the show, Branch, Walt's most annoying deputy (whom I think is modeled after Turk from The Cold Dish), asks, "It's 10 o'clock. Do you know where your daughter is, Walt?" You mean his 30-year-old daughter who can go anywhere she wants and is capable of taking care of herself, that daughter?

Even Cady's affairs have something to do with Walt: she starts dating Branch in secret because he's running against Walt in the sheriff election and she doesn't want Walt to get upset. EYEROLL 1. Uncomfortable Oedipal associations; 2. I think Walt can deal with who his daughter is dating because he's a grown-ass man and not her high school ex.

Basically what I'm saying is I find Cady to be a nearly intolerable character on the TV show. I was actually dreading her appearance in the books; but in the books she's an independent adult who obviously loves her dad but is living her own life, and she's pretty awesome. Furthermore, Walt is definitely into giving her her own space and not telling her what to do or who to date. Complete one-eighty from the TV show. Needless to say, I prefer the books' version of these two characters and their relationship.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Giveaway & Review: WEAK AT THE KNEES by Jo Kessel

weak at the knees review

I received Weak at the Knees through TLC Booktours in exchange for writing an honestly honest review.

Before I start discussing this book, I want to let you all know about an awesome giveaway associated with the book tour. One lucky winner will receive a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a famous wine from the Rhône wine region of southeastern France. The giveaway is open internationally to those of legal drinking age. To enter, simply fill out this Google form:

Now on to the review!

Danni's been dating the handsome and smart Hugh for eleven years, ever since high school. He lets her live in his flat even though she contributes nothing to the household expenses, has no job, is not going to school, and doesn't even have a consuming hobby. Meanwhile, he works his patootie off as a barrister. Not surprisingly, Danni is bored; and also unhappy, because she's never had an orgasm. Tiniest violin in the world! Maybe she should buy Hugh a manual or a diagram or something. Then her best friend suddenly comes down with a mortal illness and makes Danni promise her at her deathbed that 1. she's going to break up with Hugh, and 2. she'll never sleep with a married man. Because... science? So of course when her bestie dies, Danni breaks up with Hugh and sets off for the French Alps where the reader knows two things will definitely happen: she'll have an orgasm and get involved with a married man. And she does.

The above paragraph is basically Weak at the Knees' prologue, which clocked in at nearly 1/4th of the entire book (22%). It wasn't labeled a prologue, but that's sure as heck what it was. You all know how I feel about prologues, and especially how I feel about prologues not labeled as such. Quiz: what's the first rule of telling a story? Begin at the beginning! Really the only reason I kept reading was a morbid curiosity to see when the book would actually get started. Eventually it did, but it was still really boring because having an orgasm/affair isn't much of a plot. Also, by that point I disliked whiny Danni so much I wouldn't have cared if she took a header off a mountain.

Basically Danni has no agency in this novel. Does she do anything, period, at the start of the book? No. I'm probably supposed to take her leaving Hugh as a sign of agency, but why does she leave him? Because he "can't make you happy," according her best friend. Right. That might be because no one person can make another person happy. All Danni's decisions afterward are predicated by the actions of a man, from learning how to ski to having sex. Yeah, she may want to have sex with the guys, but the decisions are always ultimately theirs. The males drive the other action in the book, too: when Danni leaves France, for example, and even when she goes back.

I will admit I liked the meet-cute between her and Olivier du Pape, mainly because as soon as someone mentions he's married (which happens immediately) you know they're going to have sex. But the scene where they get together is kind of hilarious, and not in an intentional way. I loved it when Olivier was like, "I don't want you to ruin your life by having an affair with me!" Ruin her life, really? Someone's been reading a liiiiiittle too much Gustave Flaubert. And what's going to happen to Olivier's life in the meantime, business as usual? Nice dichotomy there. In any case, it's really hard to believe that there are any stakes involved in this extramarital affair because Olivier's wife is never there. Literally, she is never in town. We never meet her; I don't think we even ever know her name. Yet I found myself more sympathetic for her than for any other person in this book because she's the only one who's completely innocent of wrong doing and she gets shat on because Olivier and Danni find one another really, really attractive.

Melody from Redeeming Qualities wrote recently that one thing she loves about romance and adventure novels is "watching the author’s resultant struggle to steer the characters to a happy ending without in any way impugning their honor." This is not something Jo Kessel apparently struggled with in Weak at the Knees; all the characters acted dishonorably and in an expedient way to get what they wanted. Instead of caring about who she was hurting and whether or not it was worth it, Danni was mainly concerned that Olivier was taking advantage of her. It's a lovely world of narcissism and actions without consequences that these characters live in.

Weak at the Knees also had quite a few editing problems, but honestly I find the lack of storytelling and female agency in this novel more egregious. What story is being told here? Why should the reader care? These are basic questions that need to be addressed in any story.

Anywho, if you're still interested in giving Weak at the Knees a try, TLC Booktours is offering a paperback (US/Canada only) or eBook (international) copy of the book to one lucky reader! Just enter your name and e-mail into this handy-dandy Google form and I'll draw one winner using on Friday, September 27th, and contact the winner by e-mail. All information will be kept private and deleted after the giveaway.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bloggiesta Finish Line

bloggiesta finish line

Well, peeps, it's Sunday evening and I'm ready to curl up with a cocktail and watch Revenge. I only had a day to work on Bloggiesta, but all my goals were accomplished. Here's a summary:

  • Write reviews for Weak at the Knees and Kindness Goes Unpunished. Done! You know that feeling where you're like, "Idk what to say about this book," and an hour later you've written 1,000 words about it? Yeah.
  • Complete a few minichallenges (I actually finished 2 on Friday night even though I hadn't officially started Bloggiesta-ing yet). Done! I complete The Book Vixen's IFTTT challenge and another challenge. Unfortch I can't remember it was. Trust me?
  • Participate in Sunday's Twitter chat (#bloggiesta if you want to join in). Done! I was a little late but I made it.

I didn't get as much work done on my blog this Bloggiesta as I wanted to, but then again I never do. I did get what needed to be done, though, so yay!

Thanks to the organizers and mini-challenge hosts for another great Bloggiesta!

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Bloggiesta: Better Late Than Never


I know Bloggiesta—the blogging fiesta—is almost over, but I only now have time to start working on things. Here's my limited to do list:

  • Write reviews for Weak at the Knees and Kindness Goes Unpunished.
  • Complete a few minichallenges (I actually finished 2 on Friday night even though I hadn't officially started Bloggiesta-ing yet).
  • Participate in Sunday's Twitter chat (#bloggiesta if you want to join in).

And don't forget to complete the minichallenge me, Tif, and Becca are hosting over at Book Bloggers International before the weekend's up. It's a fun and easy way to discover new book bloggers.

If you're participating in Bloggiesta, how are you doing?

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Review: NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR by George Orwell

1984 cover

Winston Smith is a lonely man living in the London of our dystopian future, with Big Brother watching every move people make and the Thought Police ready to take any dissenters down. Winston hates Big Brother and has a vague desire to join "the Brotherhood," a group lead by Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the State. But it isn't until Winston falls in the love that the Thought Police really come after him...

If Animal Farm is George Orwell's vision of communism, Nineteen Eighty-Four is his vision of totalitarianism. And just for the record, I'm already really annoyed at writing out "ninety eighty-four," so from now on it's just 1984. Okay? Okay.

I didn't enjoy 1984 as much as Animal Farm. Or, you know, at all really. There is sooooo much exposition about this and that and how everything works that it tried my patience. Winston is a misogynistic wet blanket and I had trouble caring about what happened to him, even when it was horrifying.

That's not say I think 1984 is a bad book, just that it's more about the world of the novel and ideas than story and characters. And some of the ideas are really brilliant! Things like Big Brother and the Thought Police are already part of the lexicon, but what I found fascinating was the concept of doublethink:

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ’doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.

This, combined with newspeak, the language of Big Brother, allows people to say anything and mean nothing. There's no longer an opposite of good, because why use the word "bad" when you can just say "ungood"? The ultimate goal of newspeak is to eliminate most words altogether. After all, as long as the word freedom exists, people will remember there was such a thing.

Memory, both historical and personal, serves a major role in 1984. Government altering history and the short-term memory of its citizens was touched upon in Animal Farm, but in 1984 that loss of memory is a cornerstone of the narrative. Winston doesn't know for sure it's 1984, can barely remember his mother and sister or any incident from his childhood, and is eventually completely brainwashed into forgetting he ever hated Big Brother. The only reality is the one created by the state. Everyone is sharing in a delusion, their view of the world slightly twisted until they're all participating in massive "group think." Anyone who doesn't conform to the universal opinion isn't just wrong, but considered insane, even though they're only sane people in the bunch. This isn't just a case of looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, but of "two and two make five": it's not logic, it's not reality, but it's the truth because Big Brother says it is. It reminded me of the empty Obama chair from the GOP 2012 convention.

Anyway, an interesting book. I'm not sure I would universally recommend it like I would Animal Farm, but if you're into dystopian fiction, 1984's the mother of all dystopian novels. It's also the only one that's ever really sent a chill up my spine because not only could it happen, it nearly did.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Excerpt of HIGHLANDER'S HOPE by Collette Cameron

highlanders hope cover

About Highlander's Hope:

Not a day has gone by that Ewan McTavish, the Viscount Sethwick, hasn't dreamed of the beauty he danced with two years ago. He's determined to win her heart and make her his own. Heiress Yvette Stapleton is certain of one thing; marriage is risky and, therefore, to be avoided. At first, she doesn't recognize the dangerously handsome man who rescues her from assailants on London's docks, but Lord Sethwick's passionate kisses soon have her reconsidering her cynical views on matrimony. On a mission to stop a War Office traitor, Ewan draws Yvette into deadly international intrigue. To protect her, he exploits Scottish law, declaring her his lawful wife--without benefit of a ceremony. Yvette is furious upon discovering the irregular marriage is legally binding, though she never said, "I do." Will Ewan's manipulation cost him her newfound love?


Peeking at the nobleman from beneath her lashes, Yvette reached to straighten her bonnet. It hung askew off the side of her head, like a giant drooping peony. She shoved it back into place but the moment she removed her hand, it flopped over once more.

The stranger's unrestrained laughter filled the carriage.

“Oh, bother it all.” Yvette's patience with both her rescuer and the silly bonnet were at an end. She had no choice but to remove the dratted thing to reaffix it. Several strands of hair tumbled to her shoulders when she removed the cap from her head. Suppressing a shriek of annoyance, she placed the hat beside her. She then set about securing the wayward curls. Pinning the last strand in place, her eyes met those of her companion.

She stilled, as did the world around her. The air hung suspended in her lungs. Her eyes widened in disbelief, her stunned gaze riveted on his face. “You exist?” Her voice was husky with awe.

Raising an ebony eyebrow, a flicker of humor softened the nobleman's features. “So it would appear.”

A voice, deep and dark, caressed Yvette's heightened senses. She stared. Her gaze roved across his handsome features returning, as if compelled by some unseen force, to his eyes.

Those eyes. Fringed by thick lashes, the mesmerizing turquoise pools gazing back at her sent her senses reeling in recognition. Her mouth dropped open. No, it couldn't be.

“Am I dreaming?” Giving a quick shake of her head, she lowered her eyelids for a moment. Lud, but she was befuddled. "Who are you?

Buy Highlander's Hope on

 Where to find Collette Cameron:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Review: DEATH WITHOUT COMPANY by Craig Johnson

death without company cover

Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire is still recovering from the events of The Cold Dish, but at least he's out of the house and voluntarily speaking to people, so that's a step in the right direction. Meanwhile, former Absaroka County sheriff and Walt's mentor, Lucien, keeps telling him there's something fishy going on at the nursing home. Walt's like, "Whatever you say, Agatha Christie;" but then one of the nursing home residents dies and Lucien insists it was murrrderrr. Walt agrees to investigate out of respect for Lucien, and winds up opening a whole worm-filled can of ugly secrets he didn't want to know.

I know when I reviewed The Cold Dish I was kind of like, "Sigh," and "Meh," but then I realized I was really missing my guys. That would be Walt and his BFF, Henry Standing Bear. At what point they became "my guys," I'm not sure, but I decided to read the second book in the series, Death Without Company, immediately after finishing the first. It's been more than a decade since I've done something like that, and I'm not sorry I did now.

Death Without Company is much better than The Cold Dish. For one, it's shorter. A mystery series with books that keep getting shorter? I must be in a reading utopia right now. For two, a lot more things happen in the course of Death Without Company than in The Cold Dish. Walt is on go mode for the entire novel, what with people getting murdered, and attacked, and the police department setting up sting operations, and Lucien being a curmudgeonly nuisance, and suspects escaping, and the new deputy showing up.

Like in The Cold Dish, the mystery is kind of depressing. It hinges on a star-crossed love affair between Mari Baroja and Lucien, and the shitty life Mari had after her family separated them. But also like in The Cold Dish, that aspect of the story was balanced nicely with snappy dialog and Walt's wry sense of humor. As usual, Henry gets the best lines in the book. My favorite was,

"How many murders have we had in this county since you became sheriff?"
I counted up quickly, then recounted. "Five."
"Three in the last month?"
He picked up the sandwich and looked at it. "You should retire... quickly."

Of course, the resolving of the plot depends on a series of incredible coincidences, and I guessed who the murderer was almost immediately (though not their motive), but those are minor quibbles.

One scene that did really bother me, though, was when Lucien told Walt what happened to Mari's husband, Charlie Nurburn. It was described in incredibly graphic detail—how? Lucien wasn't there, and I doubt any woman would have told him what happened to her at that level. Also, why? I didn't need to know most of that to understand what happened and it didn't drive the story. None of the other acts of violence in the book were treated to such highly expressive and intense description, even when Walt himself is attacked, so it seemed like a gratuitous depiction of violence against women with a tone of grotesque fascination to boot. Dislike.

Aside from that, Death Without Company was a perfectly enjoyable mystery novel. I'll definitely be reading the next book in the series.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review: ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell

animal farm cover
It took me a ridiculously long time to figure out that pink shape was a pig.

The animals of Manor Farm are miserable. They're overworked, underfed, the farmer takes away their children, and they're killed when they're no longer "useful" to him. Then they get the chance to oust the farmer and establish their own farm, the Animal Farm, where all animals are equal! Only some animals fancy themselves more equal than others...

This is my first read by George Orwell, and it's terribly clever. It's short—just slightly over 100 pages—and the premise is simple. That's the genius of it: Animal Farm could be a parable about any uprising from the French Revolution, to the Bolshevik Revolution, to the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. Perhaps even the American Revolution. It was chilling yet totally convincing.

That's not to say the book is all political talk. It's also about society and economics and technology. But more than that, it's a great story that makes you think, and the animal characters are surprisingly sympathetic. Right from the beginning you feel for them, even though it's obvious their dream of a utopian society is NOT going to work. From the vain pony, Molly, to the cynical donkey Benjamin, the animals feel like characters you can identify with. I spent the entire book on the edge of my seat hoping the noble workhorse Boxer wouldn't die, even though I KNEW he would. And when it did happen, it was even more awful and cruelly ironic than I anticipated.

I was also surprised by the message of the novel. When I first started it, I figured the moral would be that the animals' idealistic society was doomed to fail because animals (read: people) were inherently selfish and out for themselves, but that wasn't the case at all. The majority of the animals were good, or at least good up to a certain point; they worked hard just on the basis of hope for a better life and that someday it would pay off. The reason Animal Farm failed was actually because it was modeled directly off of the human world and Manor Farm. The pigs got all their ideas from human books, even applying war maneuvers from Ancient Rome! Pretty soon some of the pigs were acting like Roman Emperors. It's the culture and system itself that supported exploitation and oppression, which is why it was nearly impossible to change.

Animal Farm entertained me while making me think about things in a different way. Just see if I don't start shouting, "Four feet good, two feet bad!" the next time I see a pundit on TV. I would recommend this novel as a must-read to everyone.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...