Di Angelo and Farah thought they were getting a typical, boring DC government job. But it turns out they have been assigned to the Department of Magic, and whether they like it or not, their horogaunt boss is having them face down demons, shifters, and more in repeated robberies to gather the pieces of George Washington in the hopes to bring him back to life to fight off the ancient Mexican gods who were stirred out of slumber by all the talk of the ancient Mayan prophecy of the end of the world in 2012.
I have not hated a book this much since finishing Anne Rice’s The Wolf Gift in February (review). On the plus side, this means you all get to enjoy an angry Amanda take-down style review. On the minus side, I had to suffer through this horrible thing. But this is what book reviewers do. We suffer through things and tell you about them so you don’t have to.
This book has a triple-whammy of awful. It has so many grammar and spelling mistakes that I can’t believe it ever made it through an editor (oh but it did!). The plot is confusing and ill-paced. Finally, and most importantly, it is so prejudiced I had to double-check that this wasn’t a pen-name for Ann Coulter. Too often I’ve made these assertions in the past but been unable to truly show them to you since it was a library book or some such. Enter: the kindle. But first let me quickly explain the plot/structure/pacing issues.
So Farah and Di Angelo aka Rocky are hired by this mysterious department in the US government. There is a lot that makes zero sense about the department. First, it appears to only consist of Rocky, Farah, and their boss Crawley (a horogaunt). Anyone who has worked in the US government *raises hand* knows that they do not underhire. They overhire. So this just makes the author look like he knows nothing about government.
Throughout the book, Farah and Rocky have this problem of carrying out covert operations for the department and almost getting arrested and wanted for murder and blah blah blah. Um, excuse me. This is the motherfuckin government. If they want George Washington’s sword they “borrow” it. If they can’t “borrow” it, they send in government agents and protect them from prosecution because, I reiterate, this is the motherfuckin government. A department that supposedly exists to keep America aligned with the goddess America and protected from demons and vampires and what-have-you that no one else knows about would probably be a Big Deal on the inside. So this plot point makes no sense.
Then there’s the pacing issues. The pacing goes up and down and up and down and the reader keeps prepping for a climax only to get none. I think you see the analogy I am going for here. And it sucks.
Moving right along, let’s get to just a few of the more egregious grammar, spelling, and other writing I caught in this *laughs hysterically* edited book.
rung off. (location 385)
Americans hang up. No one in this book is British. The narrator is not British. This is stupid.
He could feel her hot breath, fetid as a zoo animal’s gorged on fresh meat. (location 752)
This is a bad analogy, as any high school student can tell you, because the vast majority of people don’t KNOW what a zoo animal’s breath smells like. An analogy is supposed to help a reader connect an unknown thing to a known thing.
Kabbala (location 858)
This is not how you spell Kabbalah.
Then she pulled both of their caps off and bit him on the mouth. (location 1889)
No, this is not a scene between one of our heroes and a demon. This is supposed to be Farah romantically kissing Rocky. Was that the image you got from that? Didn’t think so.
The most terrifying form devils or demons can take. No one has lived to describe them. (location 1889)
This comes from the federal book on beasts and demons that our heroes read and start every chapter with an excerpt from. Question. If no one has ever lived to describe these demons then a) how do you know they exist and b) how the hell are you describing them in this book?!
Her face was beautiful, appearing radiantly soft-cheeked and virginal in one instant, a rotting grinning skull, a death-mask in the next. (location 3922)
If you are writing a sentence comparing something from one instant to the next, you can’t compare three things! Two. Two is your limit.
Ok, but obviously I wouldn’t hate a book this hard for bad plot and some (ok a lot of) writing problems. I’d give advice and encouragement. The hating on the book comes from the prejudice hitting me left and right. It was like running the obstacle course in Wipe-Out! I can’t and won’t support or recommend a book to someone else as not for me but maybe for them when it’s this painfully prejudiced throughout. Let’s begin, shall we?
Look, hon, you know you’ve got zero will-power. Honestly you’re like a lesbian. You go out with this guy a couple times, you’ll move in together on your third date. I see him all day, every day. I don’t want him underfoot when I come home too. Plus he’s too poor for you. (location 741)
Oh look! Homophobia! The sad part is you can tell that Kierkegaard thinks he’s being funny when he’s just flat-out offensive. To top off this delightful bit of dialogue, we’ve got classism. And I feel I should mention the man they are talking about is an Iraq War vet. But he’s poor. And clearly that is what matters in dating. Homophobia is not quite this blatant throughout the rest of the book, although we do have a *delightful* scene in which Bobbi (a girl) shows up to seduce Rocky, who she thinks is gay, since Farah spread a rumor that Rocky is gay to keep her fiancee from being upset that she’s working with a man. Yeah. That happened.
There is more blatant classism, though.
Baltimore is the blue-collar ugly step-sister of the white-collar Washington DC metropolitan area. (location 1250)
Noooo, comparing hardworking people with blue collar jobs to the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella is not offensive at all.
Also, pretty much every demon “disguises” themself as a homeless person. This means almost every homeless person our heroes run into is a demon. Seriously.
And what about women?
The reason I’m so into Nineteenth Century romantic literature, I guess, is because I love anything that reminds me of growing up with my mom and my sisters and gets me inside women’s heads. (location 1214)
Yes! Let’s just go ahead and say that Jane fucking Austen represents every woman’s head everywhere in the 21st century. That’s just awesome.
Speaking of women, I will say this. Farah is the more talented of the duo in climbing, which is nice. However, she and every other woman are presented as shallow and obsessed with fashion. Also, a baby is born, and Farah turns overnight into a doting mother-figure when she was a sorority-sister type girl mere hours before. Meanwhile, the actual mother fails at parenting, and the only explanation for this utter lack of ability with babies is that she is a vampire.
I’m not sure what the precise word is for it….xenophobia perhaps? But Kierkegaard makes it abundantly clear that only Protestants have the whole religion thing right.
White or “good” magic, he told her, already had a name. It was called “prayer.” And even prayer, unless directly addressed to God the Creator, is in essence a Luciferian transaction, because it relies on the intercession of intermediaries, such as saints or boddhis, and inevitably involved some sort of quid pro quo. (location 1545)
Speaking of religion, no hateful book would be complete without some anti-semitism tossed in there, would it?
Freemasons–A Lucifer-worshipping conspiracy cult dedicated to Zionist one-world government, heirs of the Christ-murdering Pharisees and the Knights Templar. (location 1596)
Christ. Murdering. Pharisees. He actually went there. And not only are they the Christ killers but! They also secretly run the world through a Satan-worshipping secret organization!
I would have thrown the book across the room at this point, but it was on my kindle, and I love my kindle.
And finally. To round it all out. We’ve got some good, old-fashioned American racism.
First we have the black man who spoke entirely normally until this sentence:
You got any questions you need to axe me, you know where I live. (location 1193)
Then we have the Asian-American man who can’t pronounce his own name:
There they consecutively picked up a squat red-faced Asian named Robert, which he pronounced as “Robot,” and a noisy and vituperative older black man in a water-sodden daishiki named Walkie-Talkie. (location 3225)
Beyond these blatant examples there’s the fact that every person of color is either actually a demon in disguise or working for the seedy underground of some sort of organization. The exception to this is Farah, who is Lebanese-American, but Kierkegaard takes extreme care to point out that she is NOT Muslim. She’s one of the Christian Lebanese-Americans. She also basically acts just like a white sorority girl but with an exotic look!!
See? See? I just. *sighs* The only people who might not be horribly offended by this book are the type of people I don’t really want to recommend books to anyway, except to be like “Here, read this book that might make you realize what a douchebag you are being, like say some classics of black literature or books on how hard it is to be gay in an evangelical family or maybe read about the real history of the Bible.” You see my point.
The only people who would enjoy this book are people who have this same prejudiced world-view against basically everyone who isn’t a white, straight, Protestant, American male. So, I guess, if that’s you, have at it? But it’s riddled with spelling, grammar, and plot problems, so you won’t enjoy it anyway. So hah.
1 out of 5 stars
I requested this via Netgalley um *coughs* last year when I had the dream of making my own wine. People in my family have done this for years, so I thought I might. Well….the start-up and learning curve are a bit more than I anticipated or had time for, so I wasn’t able to make any of the recipes. I did, however, still want to provide a review, particularly since I sent my dad a few of the recipes. (He has his own winemaking set-up). So, let me put on my librarian uniform and get to it!
Given that making your own wine is kind of a down-home skill, the tone of this book is perfect. Berry takes on an older relative giving you the low-down on secret family recipes tone to his writing, and it works beautifully.
The wine recipes are primarily organized alphabetically, although a few that are similar (elderberry wines, for instance) are clumped together that way. It sounds odd, but it makes sense when reading through the book. The book ends with some holiday punch recipes (including wassail) and, oddly, some beer brewing ones.
The recipes themselves are easy to understand, but I would suggest in the future that Berry either numbers the steps, bullet points, or splits up into a few paragraphs. They are basically one huge paragraph, which can be less easy to use. Another suggestion I would make is that the wines for the most part don’t say if they are red or white, and I’m sure that is something the reader would like to know before getting going in the making.
Overall, this is a nice collection of wine making recipes. It feels as if your uncle handed you a book of secret family recipes, just the alcohol variety. A working knowledge of winemaking is assumed, so this is recommended to those who already have a wine making setup and want to try out some new, unique recipes.
4 out of 5 stars
I’m beyond pleased to be able to announce the schedule for Waiting For Daybreak‘s official blog tour featuring reviews, guest posts, interviews, and giveaways!!!! A huge thank you to every single participating blog for their support of not just myself, but indie authors in general.
13—Earth’s Book Nook guest post and giveaway
14–The Chronicles of an Enamored Soul review and giveaway
15–Tabula Rasa review and interview
18–Nicki J. Markus review, interview, and giveaway
22–From Me To You… review and interview
23–The Paperback Pursuer review
25–Kelsey’s Cluttered Bookshelf review, interview, and giveaway
26–Bookishly Me interview
27–Fangs for the Fantasy review
30–Gizmo’s Book Reviews interview
2–Cynthia Shepp guest post and giveaway
6–Ellie Hall guest post
Eva’s Sanctuary review and interview
10–Lily Element review
11–Wickedly Bookish interview and giveaway
13–Ellie Hall review
1889 Labs review
15–The Book Hoard review and giveaway
16–Persephone’s Winged Reviews review
17–Offbeat Vagabond review, interview, and giveaway
18–Mervi’s Book Reviews review
Blood, Sweat, and Books review and interview
20–Paperless Reading review
21–An Eclectic Bookshelf review and interview
29–Just a Lil’ Lost… review
Obsessions of a LibraryGurl review
Reflections of a Book Addict interview and giveaway
30–Obsessions of a LibraryGurl interview
Reflections of a Book Addict review
31–Opinions of a Wolf author’s wrap-up!
Thank you again to all the tour participants!!
I also want to take a moment to thank blogs that accepted review copies but couldn’t participate in the tour. I’ve listed them below and will link to their review of Waiting For Daybreak in parentheses as they write them. Accepting a review copy is just as supportive of indie authors as participating in a blog tour, so thank you very much, bloggers!
Beauty in Ruins (review)
Book Reviews From the Basement
Eastern Sunset Reads (review and guest post)
Fishmuffins of Doom (review)
Love, Literature, Art, and Reason (review and interview)
Nylon Admiral (review)
Pinuccia’s World of Books (review)
Story of Paperclippe
Dawit is a twenty year old Ethiopian refugee hiding out illegally in Paris and barely surviving. One day he runs into the elderly, famous French writer, M., in a cafe. Utterly charmed by him and how he reminds her of her long-lost lover she had growing up in Africa, she invites him to come live with her. But Dawit is unable to give M. what she wants, leading to dangerous conflict between them.
This starts out with an interesting chance meeting in a cafe but proceeds to meander through horror without much of a point.
Although in the third person, we only get Dawit’s perspective, and although he is a sympathetic character, he sometimes seems not entirely well-rounded. Through flashbacks we learn that he grew up as some sort of nobility (like a duke, as he explains to the Romans). His family is killed and imprisoned, and he is eventually helped to escape by an ex-lover and makes it to Paris. This is clearly a painful story, but something about Dawit in his current state keeps the reader from entirely empathizing with him. He was raised noble and privileged, including boarding schools and learning many languages, but he looks down his nose at the French bourgeois, who, let’s be honest, are basically the equivalent of nobility. He judges M. for spending all her money on him instead of sending it to Ethiopia to feed people, but he also accepts the lavish gifts and money himself. Admittedly, he sends some to his friends, but he just seems a bit hypocritical throughout the whole thing. He never really reflects on the toppling of the Emperor in Ethiopia or precisely how society should be ordered to be better. He just essentially says, “Oh, the Emperor wasn’t all that bad, crazy rebels, by the way, M., why aren’t you donating this money to charity instead of spending it on me? But I will tooootally take that cashmere scarf.” Ugh.
That said, Dawit is still more sympathetic than M., who besides being a stuck-up, lazy, self-centered hack also repeatedly rapes Dawit. Yeah. That happened. Quite a few times. And while I get the point that Kohler is making (evil old colonialists raping Ethiopians), well, I suppose I just don’t think it was a very clever allegory. I’d rather read about that actually happening.
In spite of being thoroughly disturbed and squicked out by everyone in the story, I kept reading because Kohler’s prose is so pretty, and I honestly couldn’t figure out how she’d manage to wrap everything up. What point was she going to make? Well, I got to the ending, and honestly the ending didn’t do it for me. I found it a bit convenient and simplistic after the rest of the novel, and it left me kind of wondering what the heck I just spent my time reading.
So, clearly this book rubbed me the wrong way, except for the fact that certain passages are beautifully written. Will it work for other readers? Maybe. Although the readers I know with a vested interest in the effects of colonialism would probably find the allegory as simplistic as I did.
2 out of 5 stars
Maggie Wright comes to the cozy Maine bed and breakfast, Seascape, not for a vacation, but to investigate the mysterious death of her cousin, Carolyn. Carolyn’s artist fiancee, TJ MacGregor, just so happens to be staying at Seascape, but a mysterious force is preventing him from leaving. Despite the tragedy standing between them, they start to fall for each other.
This is obviously a romance with a dash of mystery and a touch of ghosts. Maine is a wonderful setting, particularly for a paranormal romance. This one just didn’t work for me, although I can clearly see how it will be able to find an audience.
I found the writing, particularly the romance, to ring a bit….old-fashioned and conservative. The characters all seem to speak in the same speaking style as the elderly woman who manages the inn. That works for her, and she is definitely my favorite character in the book, but it doesn’t work so well for TJ and Maggie who are both young and from New Orleans. I’m sure some readers would find the clean, conservative manner in which they talk a bit of fresh air, but to me it was dull and felt like a book my grandma gave me to get started out in romances when I was in middle school.
Similarly, the way the entire town is willing to appease the local pastor when it comes to things like alcohol and condoms kind of enraged me. For instance, the convenience store will only sell condoms to married couples upon the request of the pastor. I mean WHAT?! That is just not even LEGAL. But. As a book reviewer, I can definitely see that a more conservative crowd would appreciate the idea of a town where that sort of understanding could exist.
So, ignoring the fact that this book is far too conservative for me, there is one other issue that bothered me. I found the mystery of Carolyn’s death entirely confusing. At first I thought that Maggie came to Seascape to investigate the death because Carolyn died up there, but toward the end of the book, it sounds like she died in New Orleans. Which was it? And if she did die in New Orleans, then why did Maggie go to Seascape in the first place? Also, people think the car crash was mysterious because the painting she had with her was undamaged, but then toward the end of the book they say no the undamaged painting wasn’t found at the car, it’s just that it had disappeared and reappeared. Or something. I’m still very confused about everything about Carolyn, which is problematic given that this is the central conflict keeping our romantic couple apart. The mystery should be mysterious but not illogical.
Overall, this is a romance novel that was not for me, but will appeal to more conservative romance readers. People looking for an old-timey style romance with a touch of ghosts will appreciate it.
3 out of 5 stars
Hello my lovely readers!
After an oddly cool month (which I was soooo not complaining about), Boston got hit starting Wednesday with a heat wave. We’re talking 97 to 100 degrees (36ish degrees for my non-US followers). You guys. I’ve. Been. Dying.
I am a northern girl. Cold weather is what I am all about. Even if it’s super cold out, that is easily remedied by an electric blanket, hot chocolate, and a good book. What’s not to like about that picture? Hot weather though. Ugh. When it’s hot out your entire body is coated with sweat and then you proceed to look like a furry because your cat’s fur sticks all over said sweaty skin and everything itches and your feet are so swollen that you get blisters and bloodiness everywhere and…
Ok, maybe a lot of that is just me. But still!
I tried so damn hard not to use my ac at all this summer, but around midnight on Wednesday night when my hair had dried in a record 30 minutes post cold shower I decided I had to cave, and I put in my ac unit all by myself. (Sorry neighbors for the timing of that adventure). In any case! The gym must be working, because I was successful. Nothing was dropped and lifting that unit didn’t even seem that hard. I am, however, relegated to sleeping on the couch directly in front of it until this heat wave is over.
Be sure to check out Waiting For Daybreak‘s Goodreads page, because the reviews and ratings are starting to come in! Next week I will be announcing the tour schedule as well as the tour banner.
I’ve also been working on Ecstatic Evil‘s formatting and cover issues. I am soooo glad I decided to do a novella first to practice. I’m happy to say that the formatting issues are now entirely taken care of, and in response to multiple reviews not enjoying the cover, I’ve decided to give it a new one. The original cover was designed by a friend. Designing Waiting For Daybreak‘s cover showed me what style works for me and that I can do it myself. So I’ve come up with a cover for Ecstatic Evil that will be designed by me in the more linocut fashion that you see on Waiting For Daybreak. Anyway. The new Ecstatic Evil cover will be announced next week, and there will be a surprise to celebrate it.
Happy weekends all, and I hope my fellow New Englanders manage to stay cool! *waves*
A farm sanctuary is a farm whose sole purpose is to save animals from farm factories and slaughter. The Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York was started in 1986. In this cookbook, one of the proprietors has gathered vegan recipes inspired by farm life. Think down-home cooking that is cruelty-free.
As a country girl, I was delighted to find a down-home cookbook free of animal products. Everything about the cookbook hearkens back to classic American cookbooks from the layout to the simple black and white pictures at the beginning of each section to the layout of each of the recipes themselves to the sayings peppered throughout the book. (The sayings are veganized versions of classic American ones).
The cookbook starts with an intro to the Farm Sanctuary, followed by a very personal explanation for her veganism by Stepaniak. This is followed by the more scientific explanations for eating vegan and how to do it properly. Substitutes and special ingredients are explained, and the intro is rounded out by a sample weekly menu.
The recipes themselves are divided into: tips and tails (hints and basics), beverages, breakfasts and breads, uncheeses butters and spreads, hearty soups and stews, salads and dressings, sandwiches, the main dish, sauces gravies and condiments, and happy endings (desserts). Each section starts with a photo of one of the rescue animals and their story. It’s a sweet, light-handed approach to veganism that I appreciate.
So what about the recipes? They are definitely geared toward beginner plant-based cooks with a desire to replace their animal-based recipes with similar tasting ones. There’s a plethora of traditional American recipes with the animal products simply switched out. As a long-time vegetarian, I found this focus not quite my style, but I can see it being enjoyed by newbies or when hosting omni friends and family or to find that one thing you still really miss like bacon or meatloaf. Personally, I found the dairy substitutes far more useful and interesting, since these can be expensive to buy, but are far healthier for you then the dairy norm.
I was able to find quite a few recipes of interest to me that I copied out. So far I’ve only been able to try one, but it was amazing! I tried Chuckwagon Stew on page 89. Seeking to replicate a hearty, country stew without the meat, the stew is built around tempeh. The ingredients were easy to find (I got everything at Trader Joe’s), cheap, and the recipe was a quick one to make. I fully admit I inhaled half of it that very evening. I am eager to try the rest of the recipes, particularly the Crock Cheeze on page 74 and the Seitan Salami/Pepperoni on page 40.
Overall, this is a country style, omni-friendly vegan cookbook that lets the animals and recipes shine for themselves. The recipes predominantly use grocery store ingredients, the exceptions being vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast, which are easily ordered via Amazon. They are also simple enough that any moderately skilled cook should be able to follow them with ease. I highly recommend it to omnis and veg*ns alike, as the recipes are happy, healthy, and friendly. Personally, this is definitely going on my to own wishlist.
5 out of 5 stars
Source: Public Library
Note that the second edition has a different subtitle and more recipes.
The Septembers are all 29 years old now and spread out all over the globe. Bee is expending her energy biking up and down the hills of San Francisco while Eric works as a lawyer. Carmen has a recurring role on a tv show filming in NYC and is engaged to Jones, an ABC producer. Lena teaches art at RISD and lives a quiet life in her studio apartment, except for the one day a week she practices Greek with an elderly woman. Tibby took off to Australia with Brian months ago, and everyone else is in limbo waiting for her to get back. They all feel a bit disconnected until Tibby sends Bee, Carmen, and Lena tickets to come to Greece for a reunion. What they find when they arrive is not what anyone expected.
You guys. You guys. This book shattered me. I am not a crier, and I actually had tears fall while reading this book. I read it in one day. I could not put it down. As someone who grew up with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I found the sudden jump forward in age (we used to be about the same age, and now they are older than me) a bit disconcerting and unexpected, but nowhere near as unexpected as the rest of the book.
I complained to anyone who would listen at the beginning that I hated it. That I hated what Brashares was doing, and omg why would she do this. But as the story progressed, she swept me along, and suddenly I realized that yes this is tougher by far than the earlier books. It’s not the light girl power read the first or even the second one was. But it shouldn’t be. They’re 29. They’re older. Their problems should be bigger and more adult, and the lessons here hurt more to read because they’re tougher ones to learn. It’s precisely the direction the books should have taken. The girls change and, dare I say it, actually grow the fuck up unlike a certain other foursome that have a tv show.
I won’t tell you what made the book so powerful, because that’d spoil it. But I will tell you, my fellow fans, to push past the first quarter of the book where you’re angry and want to throw it across the room in a Carmen-like rage. Give Brashares the chance she earned with the first three to gradually show you what she’s doing. It’s an emotional journey that’s well worth taken. Fans might be frustrated at first, but those who stick it out and love the series for what it really is will love this entry. I don’t doubt it at all. Plus, Brashares hinted that there might be still more to come.
5 out of 5 stars