Monday, April 25, 2011

Review- Devil in the Details by K.A.Stewart

Ahhhhhh So nice to be back reading something I'm comfortable with. Good old UF. YAY.

So here, for your reading pleasure, my review of Devil in the Details by K.A.Stewart 

BOB Blurb ( stolen from
When it comes to demons, always read the find print.
Jesse James Dawson was an ordinary guy (well, an ordinary guy with a black belt in karate) until one day he learned his brother had made a bargain with a demon, Jesse discovered there was only one way to save his brother: put up his own soul as collateral, and fight the demon to the death.
Jesse lived to free his brother-and became part of a loose organization of Champions who put their own souls on the line to help those who get in over their heads with demons. But now experienced Champions are losing battles at a much higher rate than usual. Someone has changed the game. And if Jesse can't figure out the new rules, his next battle may be his last...

I really enjoyed this book. It is very tightly written. Other writers ( say ME, for example) might feel the need to tell you the whole boring back story of how Jesse ends up a champion, how he is connected to all the other champions and how they played poker every Thursday night and how once, when Jesse thought he needed a kidney so and so got tested to see if he was a match and it turned out it was just a bad stone and....NOPE. Ms. Stewart gives us just enough to hang out hat on and then away she goes with the please try and keep up.

Some people might look at that and say, "Huh. If I don't know much about the people in mortal/spiritual danger, why should I care?" You care because Jesse cares, and she draws such a clear picture of our long haired, sarcastic tee-shirt wearing, wife and child adoring, still scared of his momma hero that you are willing to follow along.

For all that Jesse isn't a perfect hero. He's taken things for granted, he has isolated himself, he has overestimated his own abilities. But you see him adjusting, learning, and with the storm that is obviously brewing (which will be continued in the next book A Shot in the Dark Due out in July) he will need to tighten up his game!

I recommend this book. It isn't a nail biter, but it has good action, a likeable hero and is a fun read,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Writing Believable Smex (From an unexperienced point of view)

**This post comes from friend and writing buddy Jennifer Milligan. Jennifer is awesome in all  kinds'a ways-- and she laughs at my jokes. She also happens to be a virgin. Hey! I know nice people! Nice people like me! Anyway-- enjoy!**
Sex has become commercialized.  We see it everywhere.  On TV, in the movies, hear about it in music.  Read it in books.  And I’m not just talking about the act of getting down and dirty.  Think about all those models for perfume, hair products, make-up, clothes, diet pills.  They all drip sexual tension.  As the public acceptance of sexuality grows, it becomes more mainstream, and more explicit.
But that doesn’t really make it more real.
Romance novels, too!  The sex scenes in nearly every romance novel I’ve ever read follow a strict set of steps.  It usually goes; oral (with man going down on woman), intercourse, oral (with woman going down on man), more intercourse.  And the man ALWAYS goes for the woman’s breasts as soon as some of the kissing is out of the way.  
Now, I’m not saying that that way of doing things is wrong.  I’m sure there are partners out there that take turns going down on each other.  But in novels, that’s how it’s done almost every. Single. Time.
Realistic?  I think not.  Believable? I don’t think so.
Romance writers are working out a fantasy.  Repeat.  Fantasy.  In fantasies, everything can be ideal.  Everything can be perfect.  The woman gets to come multiple times.  The guy has the stamina to make him the perfect, never-tiring partner.  (More like a battery operated dildo than a real person.)
How then, do you write believable sex?  
Sex isn’t perfect.  It’s dirty and sweaty.  Sometimes--gasp!--the man comes before the woman.  A lot of woman don’t like giving head.  Long hair gets stuck under an elbow, or gets in the mouth.  The guy--and even the girl--won’t always wait until she’s wet and ready.  That’s what lube is for.  And don’t forget the condoms.  
Spice things up with imperfection.  If the guy is being teased all damn day, you think he’s going to be able to hang in there until his partner gets off?  For a woman, that can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes.  That’s a long time to hold a rocket in check.  
I know what you’re thinking.  “If you’re a virgin, how do you know all this?”  
Research.  Any believable writing takes research.  Instead of doing mine in books, I talk with my friends that are sexually active.  I ask my sister about her more amusing bedroom stories.  I have a fabulous beta reader that gives me a kick in the balls when I’m doing it wrong.
Writing fantastical sex is all well and good, and it has its place in.  If you want your sex to be believable, and not just another scene following a formula used in dozens of romance novels everywhere, mix things up.  Add a bit of realistic dirt.  Good characters aren’t perfect.  Their sex shouldn’t be either.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Review- Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes

Okay, my opinion of all sorts of epic/traditional fantasy is well documented. I don't like it. BUT my tendency to be as changeable as the weather. As a woman I reserve this right.

Pay attention authors.

I NEVER would have picked up Tome of the Undergates. NEVER. The name is pretentious. The cover art? Well, it's a guy with a sword, innit? And it ain't even a samurai sword and there ain't even a hint of fine man-titty anywhere.

But when I followed Sam Sykes on twitter (@SamSykesSwears) he sent me a DM complimenting this here blog. Well, then we were friends, weren't we? (I'm allowed my delusions). Then the book got nominated for a few awards ( the Compton-Crook and the Gemmell). These things-- plus my utter suck-a-tude at picking books of late *grumble grumble* convinced me.

So, yeah. I went ahead and bought the book.

And *surprise!* I liked it.

Publisher's Copy-
Lenk can barely keep control of his mismatched adventurer band at the best of times (Gariath the dragon man sees humans as little more than prey, Kataria the Shict despises most humans, and the humans in the band are little better). When they're not insulting each other's religions they're arguing about pay and conditions. So when the ship they are travelling on is attacked by pirates things don't go very well. They go a whole lot worse when an invincible demon joins the fray. The demon steals the Tome of the Undergates - a manuscript that contains all you need to open the undergates. And whichever god you believe in you don't want the undergates open. On the other side are countless more invincible demons, the manifestation of all the evil of the gods, and they want out.

At the start, violence gets most of the attention in this book. That's good. I likes violence. But the most interesting part of the book is all the loathing. Though the publisher (and most everyone else) seems to focus on the enmity between our merry band of adventures, it was all the self loathing that interested me. The race-traitor, the one hiding behind faith, the PTSD-esque survivor's guilt,  the one for whom everything is wrong. It is this self loathing that drives the characters to do the crazy things they do.

In perusing other reviews (actually I didn't. I went looking for the BOB copy and stumbled on another review) I noticed a lament that the characters don't grow or change. I disagree-- I mean I agree, but...

BUT the feeling I get is that the characters have been living with this self hatred inside them like an abscess. In book one we get to watch many of these characters lance the boil and bleed out (at least some) of the infection.

Okay-- that's way heavier than I ever wanted to be.

If you aren't looking for philosophy- Tome is still fun. It still has the violence in spades, there are plenty of fart jokes and the writing is good. No smex. (wah wah wah) But maybe the most erotic sweat drop ever written.

Not a perfect book, but a lot of fun and so much better than the previous 2 crap books that I bought and hated*. Worth a read and I look forward to picking up Black Halo (book 2).

*Okay, 1 I hated and 1 that was so soul crushingly disappointing that I wanted to cry.