Sunday, March 10, 2013

Beletseri's #CBR V Review 11 First Truth by Dawn Cook



I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a bad habit of buying books that have covers I like. Sometimes that works out in my favor and I read Polterheist, but usually it doesn’t work. That’s the story on this book. When I worked at Borders this book was on the top shelf of the “C”s in Sci-Fi Fantasy and I used to walk by it all the time. When Borders closed it’s one of the books  I picked up towards the end. 

First Truth by Dawn Cook is pretty standard fantasy fair. The main character is Alissa. Once she reaches a certain age her mother believes that she has to go to the Hold, a magic school where her father was from. Alissa doesn’t really believe in the magic and since her father mysteriously died during his last journey, there aren’t any real answers. Her mother boots her out of the house and she goes on this long fantasy journey. She meets up with a wandering musician named Strell. Strell has recently found out that his entire family was killed in a flood, he’s kind of morose.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Beletseri's #CBR V Review #10 FireStar by Kathleen Morgan



I have this really terrible habit. I keep buying romance novels based on how terrible the covers are. In my mind I envision this great hipster moment of snarking on something bad and having a great time. But in reality I just end up being incredibly pissed off. This was one of the latter circumstances.

FireStar by Kathleen Morgan was published in 1993 by “Love Spell” an imprint of Dorchester Publishing. Which is no longer in business. It reads like 1993. This book is part of the line of “Futuristic Romance” and it falls in with nearly every Romance and Sci-Fi cliché. The two leads are Meriel, the princess and heir to the Tenuan throne, and Gage Bardwin, who is a cynical bounty hunter, or as I like to call him, crappy Han Solo. In the Prologue the King of the “system of planets known as the Imperium” assigns crappy Han to a job doing some reconnaissance on Tenua. The king says of Han “He’s nothing more than an unprincipled renegade who lives at the edge of the law.” I knew I was in for a treat after that line on the second page. Morgan has basically laid out that Han is a man who [insert movie voice] plays by his own rules. He is just an amalgam of every anti-hero common in space operas. Anyway, crappy Han is a crappy bounty hunter because he lands on this planet and is almost immediately captured by a slaver. He is sold to the Queen and her daughter, our Princess Meriel. It turns out that the sun orbiting Tenua is dying, and that has made the men impotent. Don’t ask. It’s stupid. Anyway, Meriel and Crappy Han have a super sexxxxy night of baby-making in a hot spring (as pictured on the side of a van . . . I mean the cover). They totally have a romantic connection because they’re the two leads and they’re supposed to. Meriel’s mom is a super bitch though and conspires to keep them apart. She tells Meriel that Crappy Han came onto her, so Meriel flees to her fiancé. Then she tells Crappy Han that Meriel went to her fiancé and oh yeah I watched your whole performance on a camera so you should bone me too. He takes off. This scene starts unraveling Crappy Han’s massive mistrust of women. I really don’t understand how he can be attracted to us, he spends most of the book complaining about our deceitful arts. 

Beletseri's #CBR V Review #9 When Women Were Priests by Karen Jo Torjesen



This book had taken me much longer to finish than it ought to. I don’t think that it has helped that I’ve started and finished about 4 books while reading it. I suppose that is my own fault. This review gets entirely tl;dr. For that I apologize. If you’d like a super short summary here’s this. Very interesting arguments about Early Christianity. There are logical flaws, and a bit too much information about Greco-Roman gender roles but over all very informative and a good read for feminists and religious scholars alike. It also should be noted that while I took forever to read this book, it really shouldn’t have since it was well written and in a pretty conversational tone, considering the subject matter. Now onto the long review!

Beletseri's #CBR5 Review #8: Polterheist by Laura Resnick



Polterheist by Laura Resnick is the 5th book in the Esther Diamond series. I’ve read them all and they’re all hilarious. There will be some minor spoilers for the earlier books in my review.
This series follows aspiring actress Esther Diamond and the wacky supernatural hijinks she gets into. In the first book she was involved in some evil magic in an off-off broadway musical she was in and met Max who is 300+ years old and the self-appointed “defender against evil” for NYC. As well as the delicious sexy and ever doubting Det. Connor Lopez, who I think is my favorite hero. He’s just so sweet and well meaning! He’s constantly getting Esther out of some wacky supernatural scrape or another.
Anyway, these books are pretty formulaic. Esther has taken some kind of job, the supernatural starts attacking people she then investigates with Max and runs afoul of Det. Lopez. What makes these books great isn’t the overall plot. It’s the wacky situations. This particular book finds Esther desperate to make rent so she takes a job working at the department store Fenster and Co’s Solsticeland. A multicultural winter wonderland designed to draw in customers with their fabulous displays and get them to buy something. Esther is working as one of Santa’s elfs. Yes, she is a Jewish Christmas Elf, and because it’s multi-cultural that’s actually reflected in her Blue and White costume as well as her elf’s name, Dreidel.
Esther is minding her own business working with a motley crew of various holiday rejects when things start to get weird. Drag Queen Santa (there are multiple different Santas and they are all nick-named by the staff) gets attacked in an elevator, and then the animatronic tree comes to live and almost kills Esther. These are clearly supernatural occurrences so she calls her friend Max. She also runs into “semi-retired hit man” Lucky Battistuzzi, who is investigating truck hijackings that are being falsely blamed on the mob. While all this happens she is trying to avoid Det. Lopez during her investigation, but see him in a romantic sense.  The book does a bit busy, but Resnick is a pretty tight writer, she ties up all her loose ends and all the plot aspects are working together. It really makes up a wacky, madcap story.
I think the opening 50 pages where Esther is dealing with some pissed off crowds at Santa’s workshop is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. If you’ve ever done holiday retail it’s a must. I have to say the book does take a bit of a dive. The previous book in this series (Vamparazzi) was really solid all the way through. This one tends to be a bit more formulaic. It really re-hashes some ground that we’ve been to before, and feels like a procedural. That being said it was still a blast and I loved it. I won’t be deterred from the rest of the series. The next book is called “The Misfortune Cookie.” Hee hee!
I give it 4 out of 5 Drag Queen Santas 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mr. Sex Offender; Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the new Pocket Park



I live in a strange neighborhood. It’s an oft forgotten pocket of Los Angeles. I do most of my living in neighboring Torrance. It’s where I work, grocery shop and spend most of my non home time. Torrance is its own city in Los Angeles County with a library, a police force and city council. My home address is actually says “Torrance.” But I don’t live in Torrance. Technically I live in a tiny sliver of the City of Los Angeles. I vote for the mayor, have a city council member, and I have to call LAPD when my neighbors have a loud fiesta.