Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jobless in January by Mara Ismine

I just read a nice little m/m story, which was delightful in almost every way. One stylistic niggle, but the good stuff first. "Jobless in January" from Mara Ismine was a lovely afternoon read, with a recently laid-off restaurant manager (or recently made redundant; Mara is a British author) as the first person POV character. He's sad over his life, his job prospects, his absent love life and a recent less than stellar encounter, and goes to soothe himself with a walk on a winter beach. A storm blows in, chasing him into a small restaurant that is open despite the season, and things begin to change for him.

This is short, only 21 pages, and sweet, maybe a little too much so, as *lurve happens* right off the bat, but fun, though I would have been a little more convinced by a slower blooming. Still, there is chemistry, and sizzle, on the grill and off.

My niggle - Mara, please, next time, more variation! On some pages, half the paragraphs start with the letter 'I', usually as 'I' but sometime as 'It' or 'It's' and on one or two, every last par, or all but 1 or 2 start that way. Very distracting, and I had to make myself not notice it any more to get back into the story.

Get Jobless in January at Torquere.

(Okay, I'm still working on a ratings system, but I did like this.) edited in later,4 marbles!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Different Reviewing Style

I always come away from Jenre's Well Read blog with a story that I have to read. Here is a reviewer in the more classical model, who recaps the story a bit, but not ad nauseum, and then dives into the analysis. She really thinks about what she's reading, and can accurately explain what makes the story tick thematically and in a way that doesn't spoil the read. She has character analysis, motivation analysis, and action analysis, all of which make her reviews a pretty good indicator of the book being worth the time, or not.

Jenre's rankings are of the Excellent, Very Good, Good, Poor, and Terrible, variety, which tells me something useful, allowing for some differences in tastes. She's only trotted out the Poor and Terrible a few times, but she can articulate exactly what about the story earned that designation. I really appreciate that about Jenre, and that's what makes her one of my favorite reviewers. She's also had the guts to stand up and say that the emperor has no clothes on, when reviewing some big names. That's earned her some hate from the twufans but only respect from me.

Her reviews frequently cross-post to Jessewave's, where they get a different ranking, since that site assigns a numerical rating.

Not sure about the wisdom of not naming the reviewer/authors/stories if I don't much like it. I don't want to harsh on anyone, and my mama did teach me about saying something nice or nothing at all, but this may not be the time and place for it. Thoughts?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What's with the endings that are too happy?

It's romance, I get that. Romance needs an HEA, or at least a HFN. But if you want me to read your next story, don't give me an ending that induces diabetes, because I will be too busy measuring out the insulin to get near your work.

This issue has spoiled a couple otherwise really wonderful stories, and just flat out shot down a few that were okay. It makes me really really wonder if the the writer or maybe the editor suddenly got an overdue refill of the Zoloft, you know?

I don't read het romance, got cured of that with a couple bodice rippers of the really purple covered forced seduction type, complete with TSTL heroines. Just when I thought I was being really unfair about the whole avoidance thing, I read an excerpt of a highly touted novel, written this century thank you very much, in fact, given production times, probably about 2 years ago. That made me decide that if anything, I hadn't run far enough for long enough, because, in the immediate aftermath of danger, when they should have been looking for clues, they go boink instead!!!! NONONONO they teach you in Fanfic 101 that when the Enterprise is in deadly danger, Captain Kirk does NOT grab Yeoman Rand for boinkage on the bridge or anywhere else! And if it doesn't work in fanfic it does most definitely not work if there is money involved.

The title of this stupidity eludes me, mostly because when I read it about a month ago, I decided that there was no reason to memorize it for what not to get, I wasn't getting any of it.

A tad unfair to the other writers? Maybe. Am I running 100% for things that cannot be stomached? Yeah. Do I have other ways to spend my time? OH YEAH.

Now I'm reading a lot of m/m, some friends have gotten me involved, and the things that make me mad are different. So far, I haven't seen much of the TSTL (and frankly, the stereotypes) that spoils het romance for me, but I am getting a whole boatload of other crap that is making my back teeth hurt.

So, how happy is too happy? When it's out of character. Sometimes the reaction that the whole book has built up to is "I'm happy to wake up to you tomorrow morning." Happy for now. It's a legit ending. Sometimes the story arc is shooting for, "I want to wake up to you for the foreseeable future." Also legit. It's for difficulties only partially resolved, and allows that the resolution isn't perfect or might not hold. Happily ever after -- yeah, sure, IF the major issues in the story have been resolved.

Otherwise, it's forced. Contrived. Out of the character that the author has spent so many pages lovingly constructing for us. It's almost like a personality transplant at the very last minute, and I can rant at length about those. Not today on that, you lucky readers, whoever you are.

So. The too happy ending that has me frothing at the mouth. It's in the anthology Cherry, ed M Rode. Some good stories in there. And this one was damned good, until the last 3 paragraphs. Being torn about harshing on the author and expressing my readerly dismay without harshing, I will let the story be nameless. You might like it, last three paragraphs and all. It's sort of a 'gay for you.' It wraps all the characters up neatly for forever and happy and the playmates get to keep playing periodically and EVERYONE is HAPPY.

How happy are they? The guy who wanted to get married one day is not just married, he's married long time and has 5 kids!! Not entirely impossible, I guess, given a wife early to middle childbearing years. How about when she's at least 39 when she pops the first one? We are getting into the age of decreased fertility here, sports fans. Not to mention, she's a partner in a new law firm while she's popping them out like kittens, so let's hope that she (and he) are generating enough billable hours for a nanny or two. And the other guy - he and honey-poopoo have not quite so large a family - but they are all darling and successful, too. Every loose end is wrapped, very very tightly, stranglingly tight. New word for ya. And everything that could be idyllic is idyllic three times over.

Was all this necessary? Five kids at late age, own law firm, and they probably only do pro bono work and save the whales cases, too. Too much. Please. It's happily ever after, not ecstatic to the point of needing sedation, okay? Would backing down on the happy happy have made this a better story? The characters were working on an arc that looked like happy for now, and then they did a U turn into delirious forever, without any of the work required. Don't give me a 28 year cut and tell me everything is not just peachy, it's pear-y and apple-y and probably strawberry too.

And now I'm cranky.