Saturday, March 24, 2012

Authors behaving badly: Katherine Govier

That's right guys, there's another author behaving badly. This episode of ABB is brought to you by Katherine Govier, author of The Printmaker's Daughter.

Recently Goodreads reviewer Jessie of Ageless Pages Reviews left Govier a three star review on TPD. The review is reproduced below: (Click here to go to the original review on Goodreads)

Three stars and a 'read' tag because I made it almost to 60%; it just shouldn't require this much effort to read. As is indicated by the three stars instead of a 1 or a 2 as I was tempted, there are several redeeming aspects to The Printmaker's Daughter. The relationship between Hokusai and Oei is more important and complex than any other in the novel (in fact, she defines herself by him/his work as is hinted at in the title), the city of Edo itself is vibrantly drawn and realized, from the Corner Tamaya bordellos to the markets. But on the other hand are the weird and somewhat random accents and 1990's California-valleygirl speech patterns of 1800s courtesans, the interminable stretches where nothing happens, and awkward, jarring transitions between third and first-person narration. I wanted to love this; I'm halfway there thanks to the cover alone. I may try this one again, in the final version, but the ARC I had wasn't working for me. I was entranced for 50 pages, then bored for 220 before calling it quits. Longer, disappointed diatribe to follow.

As you can see, it's really not that bad. It's not positive, but it's not a negative review that you'd think was unfair or callous. I do admit that sometimes there are reviews out there that go above and beyond the point of being "just an opinion", but this is not one of those reviews.

A little under a month later, Jessie posted this as a status update:

And I've received an email from an author unhappy with how I reviewed her book. Apparently I didn't like it (thought I gave it 3 stars...) because it was "beyond my reading level" or I was "having a bad day. " Will someone let these authors know that it's NOT okay to harass reviewers? For fuck's sake! (Click here for the original post)

There is absolutely no excuse for an author harassing a reviewer like this. I do have to say that at least Govier didn't post a diatribe on the review itself, but the point still stands that Govier shouldn't have complained to the reviewer in the first place. Stuff like this will eventually get out. Even if Jessie hadn't complained, odds are that if Govier had complained to another reviewer, that reviewer would have gone public instead.

Seriously authors, STOP. Don't email reviewers with harassing emails where you insult them by saying that your writing is too complex or that they're not smart enough to comprehend it. That type of thing will only end up hurting YOU in the long run when you come across someone who isn't going to put up with your prima donna antics. When you put something out for public consumption it will get reviews you don't like. That's life. You don't have to like it, but you do have to learn how to put up with this sort of thing with grace and tact, lest you be seen as an unprofessional Authorzilla.

I can honestly say that I'll never read anything by Govier now. Personally insulting a reviewer and insinuating that they're too stupid to understand your book is quite possibly one of the most repulsive actions I've seen an author do. (I don't know all of what the email said, but saying a YA book was "beyond the reading level" of a college student is akin to calling them stupid.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book review: White Witch by Trish Milburn

Title: White Witch (Book 1 of the Coven Series)
Author: Trish Milburn
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Release Date: 03/01/2012
ISBN: 9781611940831

Witchcraft Is Her Family's Business.
No One Quits The Family And Lives To Tell About It.

"Jax" Pherson has power, enough power to know her future will end in service to the dark coven her father controls. Unless she can stay hidden in a small community in the mountains of North Carolina. She must find a way to live without magic and deny the darkness she feels welling up inside her-the same dark power that fuels the covens around the world.

All she wants is a normal life. A boyfriend. Friends. Some place to belong, but all too soon Jax's barely begun new life hangs in the balance when she discovers that the boy she's attracted to is sworn to kill her kind. He's a hunter with good reason to kill everything that goes bump in the night.

Even the most fleeting use of her power is tantamount to signing her death warrant and will bring both hunter and coven down on her. But can she walk away when her friends are threatened by an old evil? Something created by the magic of witches? Jax's only hope of survival is to convince the boy she loves to forget everything he's ever been taught and help her find a way to fight the covens. To believe there is some good in her.

I have to say that while this book wasn't perfect, it was insanely fun to read. A lot of the trends for witch books have been to cast witches as poor misunderstood groups with factions who "just" misuse their powers. This book has witches who appear to have deliberately tainted their magic with darkness and are very much the epitome of evil witch. Minus the ugly part, though. Apparently one of the bennies of being twisted around is that you all look drop dead gorgeous.

One of the things that this book has going for it is that while there's a lot (and I mean a LOT) of familiar literary tropes in here, Milburn has such an addicting writing style that you really don't care that you've seen similar versions of this story before. The characters here are easy to like, but I'll admit that it's the secondary characters of Stacy and Toni that I really got hooked on to. I loved Toni because she had the most description (plus she's a Whedon fan) and Stacy was fun because well, it's always fun to have a snotty mean girl around.

I did like the sparks and chemistry between our main character Jax and her love interest Kellan, although part of me does feel that it's more lust driven at times than romantically driven. Don't get me wrong, they do make an excellent couple but I just couldn't see the "OMG love" development until later in the book. Since there's at least two more books for this, I figure that there's enough time to have the relationship develop past the extremes and have more scenes that are more tender and less action or lust driven scenes. This I sort of think was a result of the book moving so insanely fast. Milburn has the book progressing at a pretty fast pace, with me wishing that some things (such as the romance and more background info on Jax and the covens) were given more screen time to develop.

Overall this was a blast to read and if you're a fan of books like Tiernan's Sweep, you'll probably like White Witch. It's well worth purchasing, in my opinion. There's enough here to make me seriously long for the next two books in the series.

4 out of 5 stars

(Arc provided by Netgalley)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Official Devil's Carnival trailer!!

Hi everyone! I'm taking the opportunity to gush about my new favorite movie of the year, The Devil's Carnival! We've got a full trailer now and the plot looks pretty good! (BTW, if you totally want to promote the movie, do so! They don't have a company behind them, so the publicity is going to be all word of mouth!)

There's been announcements about where each of the cities will be holding their showings, so be there or be square!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Authors behaving badly: Jamie McGuire

What were you doing three days ago on March 12th? If you were Jamie McGuire, the answer would be that you were fuming over someone supposedly mis-classifying your novel. Every novel has negative reviews, but recently some negative reviews of McGuire's novel Beautiful Disaster came under criticism for being overly harsh.

In Amazon reviewer Wendy's review, she stated that she was worried about the message the book was sending out to its younger readers since Travis could be seen as a "possessive VIOLENT man who has no redeeming qualities. If you put his character in the real world he would most likely be a date rapist/serial killer." (For the full review, click here.)

After reading this, McGuire was quick to post that the book wasn't a YA novel, but a contemporary romance, so it wasn't really meant to be oriented towards teen readers. Fair enough, but it was also revealed that the book was classified as YA in several places on the internet such as Goodreads, where it was in the running for their "2011 Best YA Fiction award"... with McGuire herself campaigning to have people add/vote it up in the rankings. The book is also said to contain several elements that are traditionally oriented towards YA readers.

Now up until this point I was willing to give McGuire the benefit of the doubt, that this is just exasperation over the book's genre and that she lacked the thick skin that all authors need to have. But she made the second cardinal mistake of authors (the first being that you don't reply to negative reviews at all). She kept replying. Then she made the third cardinal mistake: blogging/posting about it in her social networks. Needless to say, it got a little nasty and people began to see McGuire in a negative light.

Then there's the Goodreads review by Sophia. (Click here for that review.) To my knowledge McGuire hasn't posted on this review, but she did blog about it. Unfortunately I don't have screenshots of the blog and McGuire has removed it, but comments suggest that she took a "poor me/martyr" type stance, ranting about it. (This is how it's described in the reviews.) Since I haven't read the replies to this specific review, I'm going to leave this section short.

Let me say this right now: if you are an author or plan on putting out ANYTHING for public consumption, whether it's your homemade cookies or a 340 page novel, expect negative reviews. No matter how bad the reviews appear, DO NOT REPLY TO THEM. You can't win and the only thing that happens is that you end up with egg on your face when readers assume that you're bullying the reader.

And for goodness sakes, please don't blog about it to your friends and fans. Even if you don't tell them which site the review is on and the reviewer doesn't discover your post (in this case she did), the average fan is way smarter than you think they are. They'll discover it, most likely because in the same amount of time it takes you to post a rant on facebook saying that you're being "witchhunted", other bloggers will have talked about the story and your fans will discover it from there. (Or they'll just look in the most popular reviewing sites, two of which happen to be Amazon and Goodreads.)

Your comments will almost never discredit the review or get them removed. All it will do is make you look bad and will only get the review voted to the top of the other reviews. In other words, the complete OPPOSITE of what you wanted. If any of this advice sounds redundant, well... it's just that authors don't seem to be learning from their fellow authors' mistakes. Seriously guys, this type of behavior has ruined reputations for life. Nobody in the literary/reader field will ever be able to hear names like Candace Sams without remembering that they had a meltdown in public view.

I have to admit that I'm a little concerned over the message that Wendy and other reviewers claim is within the book. If this is a theme in the book (which it may or may not be, since I haven't read the book and can't verify this), then it's not really a great thing to be promoting to any age group. I've read some of the things that happen in the book and as someone who has had friends and family members go through some pretty abusive relationships, I admit that many of the red flags are there.

All I can suggest in the future is that authors make sure to really take a look at their main characters' romance and see if it throws up any signs of potential dysfunction. If so, try to write around it to where the changes in personality are more realistic. Even if you think that the changes in a book are already realistic, do that extra bit of research to ensure that they're REALLY realistic. That you're writing a fictional novel doesn't matter- realism should be reached when it comes to things like relationships. No, you don't have to write about Travis farting in bed (although reading that in a book would be funny), but if you're going to handle something like a dysfunctional relationship you should be realistic. I myself would love to see an adult/YA novel where the relationship is written in a realistically dysfunctional way and the pair work through it. It would mean a lack of a traditional happily ever after, but it'd be something that very few other authors have tried.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Review: Unbidden Magic 1-4 by Marilee Brothers

Note: This review is about books 1 -4 of the Unbidden Magic series. I'll try to keep any spoilers to a minimum, but in order to explain some of the series' pros and cons I'll have to talk about plot elements that aren't necessarily a spoiler element for that specific book, but might be for previous books. If you want reviews specific to each book, I have each review available on Goodreads and I'll link to them at the end of the review.

If you're looking for a book that's as good or better than Marissa Marr's Wicked Lovely or Holly Black's Modern Fairy Tale series, then you'll probably want to look elsewhere. While I would say that this is an overall enjoyable read, it's not something that I'd consider on that level. It's what I'd typically call a "cupcake" or "potato chip" type of book. It's not the meatiest or most "filling" of books, but it's enjoyable and you just can't help but keep going regardless of this fact and you really can't overly dislike the book for being what it ultimately is. I'm sure that just about every reader can name a few books they've read that fall into this category.

Overall this series is pretty good and the strongest part of the series is easily its main character of Allie. She's cute without being of the "I'm so ugly despite guys telling me I'm so gorgeous" persuasion and she is willing to kick a little butt while being understandably reluctant to do so. Even with some of the later flaws of the series, you'll continue to find yourself rooting for her and liking her, which is really the most important thing of any book. Likable characters keep you reading. There's definitely some characters that I felt could've been more and feel pretty underdeveloped, but there's also a lot of intriguing characters that I really liked as well. One of these characters is Sammie, who was introduced in book 4, Shadow Moon.

Where the series hits rough patches is in its pacing. Throughout the series the books feel as if they were written in the spur of the moment rather than plotted out beforehand. This might not have been as big of an issue except that in the third book the series seems to swerve to incorporate other plot elements that felt like they came out of nowhere and wasn't as developed as it should have been. By this I mean the introduction of faeries into the series. It's is later used as an explanation for certain people and groups in the series, but I really wish that it'd been more
properly developed in earlier novels because its introduction felt pretty unsatisfying. It's so suddenly introduced and such a predominant part of book three that it almost felt like it was something that Brothers thought up or (just as likely) that her publishers thought should be added at the last minute.

The other gripe I had with the series was that nobody stays with anyone in this series. This is a pretty big spoiler, but for the first three books there's a different love interest in each one. When I'd first read this in the book synopses, I was sort of looking forward to this. You sometimes see this with male characters that get a different girl every book ala James Bond, so why not have a female character who does the same? The only problem is that
none of the major characters in the series stays with a love interest and the way the breakups happen is for the most part all done off camera. This is somewhat changed in book four, but it's still a little frustrating because different guys in different books makes it harder to develop one specific love interest over time. (Although I feel the sorriest for poor Faye, especially in book three when she actually dates a decent guy for once.)

Despite my complaints about the series, I can't help but keep reading the series. I do wish that the plot elements were better paced and developed, but Brothers has an addicting style of writing that is undeniably fun to read. I'd still pick up the final book in the series and ultimately it's something that I'd recommend to anyone looking for something to read inbetween other series. I might not recommend this as a "go out and buy right now" type of book, but if you see it on your library bookshelves be sure to snatch it up.

Overall series rating: 3 out of 5 stars

(Arcs provided by Netgalley)

The Hunger Game's Prim rocks my socks!

I've never read the books in the Hunger Game trilogy, but they're definitely in my TBR pile. The upcoming release date has me literally salivating for this movie.


Because it's nice to see a movie where the heroine looks like she kicks some butt. Granted, I haven't read the books, but Prim seems to be a girl that's very much wanting to stand on her own two feet. This is pretty refreshing when you consider that female characters are usually love interests first and assuming they're allowed to be as such, take-charge females second. What's scary is how often the female lead is made into one of these characters regardless of what her original role was in the books.

Don't believe me? Look at adaptations of well known books. Compare the roles of the book and movie characters. In Jurassic Park the character of Ellie is made into a love interest for the male lead whereas in the book she was just one of Grant's coworkers. While this was done to give her more screen time, I couldn't help but get frustrated that Hollywood was only willing/able to give her screen time if she was hot for the bod of one of the main characters. Even in movies where the female leads are pretty tough, they're almost always played down in favor of the male characters. For example, Alexa Vega in Spy Kids was portrayed as a take charge character, but seemed to play second fiddle to Daryl Sabara's character in most of the movies. (She had a more dominant role in the first one, but Sabara seemed to be the main focus.)

Seriously Hollywood, what gives? Women watch movies. Women love buying products. We don't mind romances, but why is it that every female character in action/suspense/supernatural (any movie that isn't a comedy or drama) movies tend to be love interests or weaker secondary characters? Why can't we have a mainstream movie where the female characters are just as kick butt (if not more so) than the male leads? I'm not asking for you to have every movie to have female characters that are non-romantic interests and are Rambina incarnate, just to have movies where the female characters are tough, aren't played down in favor of male characters, and occasionally can play alongside the men without having to boink/smooch/lust after one of them in order to fit in with the group.

That's why I'm so glad to see this movie being made. I'm aware that Prim has a love interest in the movie and I want to stress that I'm not anti-romance in movies. I'm just glad that the movie seems to have a female character that appears to be the focus of attention and is just as tough as the guys are. It sets a valuable example for young women in general: that we can be just as good as guys are, if not better.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Best book ever? Wesley Crusher: Teenage F#ck Machine

I discovered this via Regretsy while trying to avoid studying for my Spanish exam. It's quite possibly the best worst book ever. My article is tame, but the book itself is most assuredly NSFW.

Imagine Wesley Crusher. If you're not familiar with him, google Wil Wheaton and/or Wesley Crusher and watch a few videos of him on YouTube. Go ahead, I'll wait.

(Rifles through flascards. Cierro... los libros... Oh, you're back already? My bad.)

So anyway, Star Trek fans generally have two reactions to Wesley. Either they want to shoot him out an airlock or they're fans of the character. There's a third group that doesn't really care one way or another about him, but the extremes are the most vocal. And boy is this extreme vocal.

Penned by one "Kitty Glitter", Wesley Crusher: Teenage F#ck Machine goes where not many fanfic authors have gone before: onto the Amazon marketplace where the author hopes it'll land on your kindle. If you're a Prime member, you can read this book for free. If not, you have to pay $3 for it or wait for the inevitable bootleg copy to circulate the internet.

The premise is that you have Wesley Crusher and feline pilot Meow Solo. The brief bit that I read on Regretsy's article (click here for that article) had the two doing to do with a random unnamed girl on a holodeck. Picard interrupts and gets shot by Moriarty. This is where the sample ends, but I imagine that hilarity ensues. Amazon has a sample of the book posted if you're curious. (Click here)

It's pretty obvious that this is as "real" as My Immortal was, but it's still pretty funny. Wheaton has taken the fanfic in stride, further proving how awesome he is as a human being by being willing to laugh at himself and his crazy, crazy fandom.