Thursday, October 29, 2009

For Your Consideration: a Link Round-up

Joel Stickley, the William Strunk, Jr. of Walmart-level writers, has an entire blog dedicated to the art of alternative writing. In addition to this excellent style guide, Stickley has also written a book in which he's compiled and analyzed what he describes as "the poetry of the modern world."

Speaking of the modern world, the users over at b3ta have decided to take it upon themselves to modernize a few outdated movies, giving such classics as Casablanca and Nosferatu newer titles and making each movie more relevant to today's society.

Thank god for this list. Finally, someone has broken down the individual categories of romance novels and called into question their appeal. My personal favorite is number seven: paranormal romance.

Ah, and here we have a great product for anyone else who's a fan of the aforementioned category. And one for the ladies as well.

Underwear shoppers should proceed with caution -- one could end up like this girl. The note might've been a nice thought, but as one commenter pointed out, it appears as though the note-leaver referred to her as "George." I don't know about England, but in America that's grounds for being offended.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This Exists.

Yep, it's what you think it is. And it's also $500.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Real Reviews

I'm willing to admit that my standards are a bit high when it comes to literature, and therefore my reviews may be slightly biased toward the negative.

So, to better understand the common people, and to get a feeling for the public's reception of Burning Wild, I took to the streets and tracked down a few volunteers who happily agreed to contribute their opinions on the book for the sake of science.
Here, actual Walmart customers review Christine Feehan's Burning Wild, with varying sentiments:

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Study in the Mating Habits of Panthera Pardus Sapiens, or Christine Feehan's Burning Wild

*First off, I’d like to preface this entire post by letting you all know that Burning Wild was almost 450 pages. Yes, 450. That’s four hundreds and a half, which is about four times the length this book should’ve been. I understand that there’s probably a huge market for lengthy bestiality novels, considering the fact that most people find both animals and long-winded works of literature arousing, but damn. Now excuse me while I go spend some quality 'alone time' with Ulysses.

The cover of Christine Feehan's Burning Wild boasts "a great read guaranteed!" and, in smaller text, a caveat stating that the offer ends on July 5, 2009. I'm not sure on the details of said offer, but it's now October, so I'm going to assume that the expiration of this guarantee was a contributing factor to why my experience with Burning Wild was so bad. Maybe I'm just taking it on after its prime date of consumption, after it's had time to congeal and fester into something that no longer really qualifies as a book.

Burning Wild centers around the saga of Jake Bannaconni and Emma Reynolds, polar opposites in terms of personality (because, you know, opposites attract and all that romantic tripe, blahblahblah).  Emma is sweet and soft-spoken, humble, gentle to a fault and as fragile as glass - so the perfect woman, if we're living by Victorian standards. And Jake, the brooding, misunderstood leopard shape-shifter with a tragic past and impossibly wealthy parents, combines the two things all women love most: billionaires and cats. Did I mention that they both have kids?

If it weren't obvious to the casual observer upon first picking up the novel, after reading the following description of Jake, it’s not difficult to figure out that Feehan’s target demographic is women who live alone and who spend their nights whispering sweet nothings to their kitties - sorry, furbabies:
    Jake Bannaconni was elite. He had superior intelligence, strength, vision, and sense of smell. Muscles rippled beneath his skin. He was one of the youngest billionaires ever reported by Forbes, and he wielded vast political power. He had the savage, animalistic magnetism of his species and the ruthless logic required to strategize and plan boardroom battles. He could attract and seduce the most beautiful women in the world, and frequently he did so; but he could not  make them love him.
Really? Do people still use the verb 'ripple' in application to muscles? Does that appeal to anyone? Because it just makes me think of men without skin. In theory it might sound all right, but if I ever saw a guy rippling his way down the street or just hanging out and rippling casually, I think I would be extraordinarily grossed out.

On the other hand, a superior sense of smell and the ability to plan boardroom battles are two qualities I find absolutely irresistible in a dude, so perhaps Feehan isn't missing the mark entirely.

Artist's interpretation of the ideal man. 

After Jake saves a pregnant Emma from certain death by pulling her from a burning car wreck (conveniently leaving her fiancé to die), he becomes obsessed with her, and in a move reminiscent of Buffalo Bill (so dreamy!), forces her to move on to his Texas estate, where the two live in relative isolation.  From there, they ultimately fall in love and have pages and pages worth of drawn-out sexual encounters. I'm not exaggerating when I say that what this book lacks in terms of interesting characters and plot development, it makes up for in its multitude of sex scenes.

If there's one thing Christine Feehan can do, it's write long and disagreeable descriptions of intercourse. There were several from which to choose an example, but here's one of the best: "He gripped her hips, tilted her just that much more and slammed home again and again, while her body rippled [ugh] and fought." Regardless of the use of the word ripple - which still offends me - this sentence is laughable in its unappetizing take on sex. There's nothing quite like the idea of slamming and correct angle positioning to get you in the mood - except, perhaps, something that's actually sexually appealing.

If there is anyone out there reading this strange erotic behemoth for a reason other than to gain a disturbing glimpse into America’s psyche, why? Almost 450 pages of passionate leopard sex should be more than enough to sate any shape-shifting enthusiast. It was definitely adequate in its ability to ruin any semblance of a sex drive I had before reading the book.

Burning Wild touched me in places I never wanted to be touched, and I'm pretty sure I'm set for life in terms of manleopard/catwoman romance. My eyes are now opened, my mind expanded, and I'm ready to take on the world.

Burning Wild's Overall Stats
Ability to Intimidate By Sheer Length: 100%.
Devotion to Overused Character Tropes: 85%.
Ridiculosity: 60% (the idea of shape-shifters isn't very new, but I'll give her a little credit for the whole business-magnate-beaten-by-his-parents spin).
Development of Unique Characters: -40%.
Sex/Plot Ratio: 80/10.
Euphemisms for Penis Used: 10.
Euphemisms for Vagina Used: 12 ("sensitive wall" being my favorite).
Hours Spent Reading: too many.
Ultimate Conclusion: I want to go to bed tonight and forget that this book exists. Burning Wild was basically a long, sexualized episode of Animorphs, only less interesting. I can't think of anyone to whom I would recommend this book, except for maybe someone intent upon spending the rest of their life erasing several graphic passages describing mating leopard-people from their head. If that sounds like you, then you can pick up your very own version of Burning Wild right here.

If my foray into the bowels of literature could end with Burning Wild, I think I could die happy, enlightened by my new worldview as a shape-shifter sympathizer. As it is, I've got to prepare myself for yet another lackluster experience next week, this time in the form of Patricia Briggs' Hunting Ground.

So it goes. Wish me luck, people. I'm doing this for you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Book Review Forthcoming...

In the immortal words of R. Kelly,"it's the freaking weekend, baby," and I'm off to the great white north for a while - going to explore Montréal's seedy underbelly to see if I can find any reading material up there. I can't imagine that Canadian romance novels are very sexé (that's French for 'sexy'), but I figured I'd keep my eyes open anyway.

I'm thinking lumberjacks covered in maple syrup...or possibly some historical fiction regarding Samuel de Champlain and his forbidden love affair with an Algonquian princess. I can't decide which I'd prefer, so I suppose I'll wait and see which is available. Hopefully both.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Burning Wild - a Preview

I really stumbled across the mother lode in terms of bad novels with Christine Feehan's Burning Wild. In passing, I mentioned the book to my friend (who, for some reason, was interested enough to remember the title). He, in turn, googled it, and we came across a treasure trove of information. Among it was this shining gem:

That's right, this book has a trailer. And it's not a televised trailer, either, because that's amateur level, and Christine Feehan doesn't play that way. Naw, she's got a Youtube trailer. She's clearly plateaued in her level of professionalism and, frankly, I'm jealous.

"omg tht was such an amazing book!!!!" writes one user; I'm convinced. Need more be said? Can't wait to break this baby open - I'm looking forward to it being one of the best reads of my young life.

No One Wins

In anticipation of the fantastic new additions which will soon be added to my library, I went to Walmart (duh) and bought a bookcase. Two weeks later and, appropriately, it's still sitting in the box, leaning ominously against the door to my room, a testament to my poor time-management skills.

Even before I bought it, I knew it would likely fail to live up to expectations, which is probably why I kept progress on its assembly at an even 0% for almost the entire time it's been here. Walmart never fails to deliver in the department of sub-par merchandise. But I couldn't avoid the inevitable disappointment forever, and I think I knew that. So, this weekend, I was feeling particularly ambitious, and I set about the momentous task of getting someone else to assemble this monster. It was difficult to avoid succumbing to the urge to put it together myself, but I fought valiantly against that desire, and after multiple volunteers "forgetting about" and "getting too drunk to focus on" my project , I finally found someone up to the challenge.

This anonymous soldier - so brave, so admirable - went as far as to open the box and to empty it of all parts before we came across a problem: integral pieces of the bookcase were broken. Like, the entire side, which normally would act as the supporting feature of a bookcase, was straight up cracked. It's clear, at this point, that this is Walmart's error. As much as I try, I have yet to harm something by avoiding it entirely.

So, typically Walmartesque in their existence, the pieces of broken wood lay scattered on the floor, unusable. This pissed me off on more than one level - now, after weeks of summoning the effort it took to get started on this thing, I'm going to have to exert myself again to take it back. In actuality, it'll probably sit in the hallway for the rest of the semester looking pathetic. For the moment, anyway, this failure of a bookcase has given me reason to postpone reading any slop, since I simply can not compel myself to read when not in the presence of proper book furniture.

I'm sorry, Walmart, but that's not okay. You're forcing me to spend money on depressingly strange, mind-numbing romance novels for the sake of sparing others the pain, and you can't even allow me the pleasure of having a decent place to store them? Even now, as they sit on top of my dresser, flanked by superior literature (and yes, I did arrange those books specifically for that picture), they just don't look right. Everything about them is wrong: the font on the spines, the titles, even the height of the individual books seems off. The fact that these books have been published makes me upset, and thinking about the fact that I purchased them is giving me good reason to go all existential crisis about the state of the world.

I'm a glutton for punishment, so I'm going to take a minute to consider the chain of people who had to look at these books and think "yeah, okay, let's go ahead and do this." Publishers, editors, writers...why? This means at least three different people had to think a book about sex with dragons was a good idea. They had to be confident that enough people would be interested in this book to make it worth mass-producing.

By purchasing Alchemy's Hot Kiss, or whatever this particular book is called, I contributed to that. I reassured them that yes, there is a market out there for human/beast/magician erotica.

And that's why I don't sleep well at night.