Friday, December 28, 2012

REVIEW: Timothy by Greg Herren

Timothy Timothy by Greg Herren
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The author acknowledged Timonthy as a homage to his four favorite authors: Phyllis A. Whitney, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Daphne du Maurier. I didn’t think much of this till a few chapters later when Timonthy strongly reminded me of a book I once read for my school’s summer reading.

Long story short: Timonthy is a gay fanfiction of Rebecca, paying the most homage to Daphne du Maurier. (Then again, it’s the only book I have read by one of the author’s favorite authors.)

I didn’t mind that the book was predictable for me because I read Rebecca. Timonthy and Rebecca were different in many ways, but the key pieces were there such as the distant husband, the MC dressing like the deceased spouse at the event scene, and the boat where it happened. I liked that Timonthy had the best parts of Rebecca. What I did mind, however, was that Timonthy also had some of worst parts of Rebecca.

The Flaws

+ the instant love with the MC
The elopement worked well in Rebecca’s historical setting, but not in Timonthy’s contemporary setting. Marriage, even with a pre-nup, should have been the last thing in Carlo’s mind after what happened with his deceased husband. The proverb “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” should have been Carlo’s creed.

I know marriage was unavoidable because the plot was paying homage. However, the book could have mitigated the issue if Carlo and the MC, nicknamed Mouse, married for companionship and the promise of love rather than for instant love.

+ the villain
Even dead, Timonthy still causes problems for everyone. I recall from Rebecca, the book, that Rebecca, the character, was one-dimensional. This happened in Timonthy, the book, to Timonthy the character, as well. It wasn’t for the lack of character development; the book focuses on Timonthy greatly and build him up to be a deliciously-hateful villain just like in Rebecca. But it was also the lazy kind of the hateful. Timonthy the book never once developed Timonthy the character beyond his wicked behaviors and deeds. Timonthy was an evil Gary Stu because he was an evil Gary Stu, period.

+ the distant husband
I understand that the book, being titled after the character, would focus on Timonthy, but was it necessary to have Carlo and Mouse apart for most of the story? The same as the couple in Rebecca? Carlo didn’t get much character development, and as a result his character felt bland. I found it jarring that such a major character rarely showed up in the book. It is entirely possible to have a distant, secretive character and still have him present in 100% of the book.

+ the meek MC
Mouse is an apt nickname for the MC. I liked him and his voice and how the story stuck to his 1st person POV. Nevertheless, I wished his growth to a wilful character happened faster instead late in the book. I would have enjoyed more of the book instead being rather bored for most of the book, bugged by Mouse’s naivety.

+ dishonorable mention
Last but not least, there was a supporting character who was seriously annoying like fingernails on chalkboard. She only showed up in 2-4 short scenes, but a single appearance was more than enough.
“I HAVE to play tennis this afternoon, and I didn’t WANT to cut my visit ONE minute short to have to run home and CHANGE. Oh, dear, you’re SPEECHLESS in HORROR at my CLOTHES.”
She talks like this every single fucking time. I know it was intentional to make the character a diva, but it did it in the most horrible way. I literally couldn’t stand to read her dialogue. I had to skim for the sake of my sanity.

The Plot

+ the bad prologue
The story began with a ridiculously long prologue. It lowered my expectation so much that I wanted the story to be over with already. The book would have been significantly better without it. Not to mention it ruined the ending some since it was one of those prologues where the scene happened after the story and the MC tells the story like a flashback. The prologue sucked like spoiled eggs.

+ the ending
I had mixed feelings about the ending. I liked it somewhat because of what happened to Carlo and Mouse, but, barring the terrible prologue, I would have liked it more if the closure wasn’t so weak. Specifically, the romance between Carlo and Mouse would have been convincing if they sincerely spent some time together and not the few, absurdly small scenes here and there like raisins in raisin bread. The instant love was bad enough.

The couple should have also gotten rid of the mansion and be done with Timothy and everything he corrupted once and for all. Seriously! The entire story was one long lesson of why they should. Apply the lesson, for y’all mental health’s sake already.

In Conclusion

I rate 3 stars Timonthy for I liked it. I almost didn’t like it had Mouse not grown to a willful character and saved the day. Better late than never.

If you enjoyed Rebecca, then you should consider reading this gay (smutless) fanfiction. I liked Timonthy better than Rebecca mostly because Timonthy’s ending was stronger.

Goodreads | Amazon

Thursday, December 27, 2012

REVIEW: The Silver Scorpion by Liquid Comics

The Silver Scorpion The Silver Scorpion by Liquid Comics
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Narrative logic was clearly not a priority in this comic book. I tried ignoring the plot holes and contrivances and mindlessly enjoy the action but I couldn’t. The story was just too ridiculous to tolerate.

The Characters

+ Bashir
Starting with the worst offender, I didn’t understand why Bashir wore a flying, mini-fridge looking wheelchair in his superhero form. With his power, he was completely capable of crafting metal legs to walk, soar in the sky, kick with super strength, etc. I know the guy who gave him the power strongly advised against it, saying it would draw evil attention, but Bashir became The Silver Scorpion anyway. He started saving people, fighting organized crime, and appearing on TV. Clearly, Bashir did not listen about the attention part but apparently he chose to listen about the leg thing. Talk about missing the point!

I think the comic was trying to say, “hey, this kid in a wheelchair can become a superhero even in a wheelchair.” However, the power bestowed upon Bashir made it entirely possible for him to have legs, super-legs. It was a perfect example of the elephant in the room. As a result, Bashir’s character suffered severely for it, and it was not like he was a great character from the start.

Bashir was a jerk. He made rash decisions. He trusted too easily; who is to say the super-powered girls were good guys and not bad guys in disguise. Bashir did improve on the jerk part eventually, but he was still too headstrong for his own good. As the saying goes, “courage without wisdom is foolishness,” and Bashir was quite a fool.

+ Bashir’s uncle
The other characters were not that much better. I’ll be blunt; Bashir’s uncle was a bad parent. He recklessly allowed Bashir to become a superhero. Bashir is only the family his uncle has, and the only parent Bashir has. Did no one, Bashir or his uncle, think that super-heroing was dangerous? That Bashir had no training or experience of any kind rescuing people or fighting crimes, that he could die from if he make one wrong move, or his Uncle could be taken hostage if Bashir’s identity was revealed?

Bashir’s uncle’s parenting instinct should have risen to overprotectiveness after the accident that caused Bashir to lose his legs. But it didn’t, and it was bad character development on the story’s part.

+ Aimee and Robina
The other members of Bashir’s little superhero team were not that good either. Aimee should know that a hood is a horrible way to hide her face in her superhero costume. At least she had a personality, even if it was a stereotypical rude American tourist. Robina on the other hand was bland and forgettable.

The Plot

I liked that it was fast-paced, but I did not like how the plot smackdown logic to accomplish it. Everything happened too conveniently.

Tarek was the guy who gave Bashir his Silver Scorpion power. I didn’t understand why Tarek did not use the power to fashion a bulletproof under-clothing to wear at all time so he wouldn’t die when the gangster shot him. Tarek knew full well he was going to be shot by gangsters inevitably. It was really contrived how Bashir got his power from Tarek when Bashir just met the guy.

Speaking of encounters, Bashir, Aimee, and Robina got along too quickly to be believable. The three shared their life story almost immediately after they met. It wasn’t “let’s get to know each other,” it was “let’s tell each other our most private matters and act as if we have always been best friends instead of strangers who only have known each other for about a day.”

Then, there was the issue of where the three got captured by the main villain. Of all the bad guys they fought, bad guys who shoot first, ask questions later, the main villain just happened to be a guy who only imprisoned them once he got what he wanted from them.

These examples are only a few of the countless things that happened too conveniently. Worse, the ending was open-ended with nary a conflict resolved. The story was simply about how the three young superheroes met and overcame their first hurdle as a team, and then “The End” followed by some art pages. There’s no volume 2.

In Conclusion

I rate The Silver Scorpion 2-stars for it was okay. I liked the art and the action, but that was about it. I was disappointed by the great lack of polish because it would have been easily likeable comic book otherwise.

Goodreads | Amazon

Saturday, December 22, 2012

NEWS: big yaoi sale & books due date


Big Yaoi Sale (21 December 2012, via Mary @ GR) "Starting December 26th and ending December 30th we will be offering one digital title each day for only 99¢!"

From Dreamspinner homepage (December 2012) "Everything in the store will be 25% off from Dec. 20-25. All series will be 20% Dec 26-31!"


Glitches = YA sci-fi, short story
The Goddess Hunt = YA paranormal, novella
Measure of Devotion = mm fantasy, novel
Dex in Blue = mm contemporary, novel

Funny of the Day

via Miriam

REVIEW: Vanity Fierce by Graeme Aitken

Vanity Fierce Vanity Fierce by Graeme Aitken
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Long Review

If you have read 3-5 romances, then you have read at least one where one of the obstacles, if not the obstacle, is a “friend” of the couple who has an unrequited love for one of the couple. That “friend” is often meddlesome, selfish, and rude, serving as a contrived proof that the couple belongs together. Stephen Spear is that “friend,” and he’s worse.

This isn't really a mm-romance; the tag is for my benefit. I only tagged it as such because the book focused entirely on Stephen and his romantic troubles of his own making. Gay relationship fiction is the best I can describe this book.

The Protagonist

It only took a few seconds reading the book to understand why it is titled Vanity Fierce; Stephen was fiercely vain. No, he was not an anti-hero; anti-heroes deep down beneath their prickly exterior care about people despite their effort not to. Stephen was a villain through and through, a classic example of narcissism.

Since Stephen is the MC, the book is about him and his “romance” (and I use the term very loosely) as he tries to get the man he wants. I initially empathized with Stephen because of his overbearing, high-maintenance mother who is the giant reason for why Stephen the way he is. However, I quickly stopped when he met his romantic interest, Ant, and used subterfuge after subterfuge to attain Ant’s heart. The biggest reason why Stephen was hell-bent on Ant was because no one ever refused Stephen; he was the self-proclaimed golden boy.

Stephen is aware of why he pursued Ant, but he didn’t care. He is also aware, on occasion, that what he does to get his way is not ethical, but he quickly dismissed the thought because he believed such things didn’t apply to him, not the golden boy. He lies, he schemes, he meddles, he trespass, he snoops through other people’s stuff and steal things, e.g. a diary, that he would later use against them. The only nice thing I can say about him is that he didn’t cheat. Stealing other people’s boyfriend — yes, but cheating — no.

Never once he did show character growth. I think I saw a flicker of it at the ending, but who really knows except Stephen himself. Throughout the book, there were a few points when I thought he was going to change but that hope was always immediately dashed. It never occurred to him to use honesty as a way to get what he wanted, not until the very end when he didn’t have anything else left in his bag of tricks.

I did not like Stephen. His narcissism repulsed me, and his unrequited love irritated me. The book doesn’t portray Stephen as the villain per se, but it didn’t need to. His actions spoke for themselves.

The Other Characters

The rest of the cast were not that likable either, not even the tragic and gentle Ant who have horrible taste in boyfriends. They all annoyed me in one way or another.

The Writing

The story was told in Stephen’s 1st person PoV, and it was all “telling” and not “showing.” The writing was a step short of bad because of the “telling” and a couple steps short of the abomination that is stream of consciousness.

The story was split into three parts with the second part told in another person’s PoV, the only exception to occur in the book. It was Stephen reading a work-in-progress autobiography/diary he stole from his ex-boyfriend/Ant’s current boyfriend. I heavily skimmed that part, and I was relieved by how relatively short it was compared to the other parts.

I didn’t understand why it was included since it could have been easily reduced to a couple paragraphs of exposition since that was the main way the story was told anyway. Or it could have been removed completely since it didn’t add anything to the story except bogged it down and distracted the reader from Stephen. Maybe it was intended to be break from the exasperating Stephen, but if so, then it was bad break considering it was about another exasperating character.

What was worse was that the second part was entirely in italics, and I did not want to risk blindness. Whoever formatted the book should have known better because it was an incredibly amateurish mistake to make coming from one of the world’s biggest publishers.

In Conclusion

I rate Vanity Fierce 2-stars for it was okay — barely. I bumped it from 1.5 star because the writing was competent enough (if we ignore complete telling and the meaningless second part), and I didn’t skim as much as I should have. I don’t know why I didn’t skim more. I can only guess that the Stephen’s narcissism, the novelty of reading a villain’s PoV, was interesting enough to give a shit.

The ending was a very bittersweet HFN which I would hate if I cared about the couple, but I didn’t so I was indifferent. Also worth mentioning is that Vanity Fierce is the prequel novel to the Indignities trilogy that continues Stephen’s adventures.

Silver lining side, Vanity Fierce rekindled my hunger for sugary romance.

Goodreads | Amazon

Friday, December 21, 2012

NEWS: widget, proper society x fight club, 12/21/2012

About my blog

*phew* Other users are having the same problem adding widgets on Blogger. I'm relieved it's not a me-thing but a genuine Blogger issue, i.e. it's their fault not mine.

Some funny shit

What are the chances that the day I changed my blog name from Book Club Fight Club to Jane Austen-inspired Tolerably Smart the next day I discover a video called Jane Austen's Fight Club. Thank you, TDR and Dangerous Footage.

Last but not least

It's December 21, 2012.

via JennyJen


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

NEWS: I changed my blog's name

source: cheezburger

Hello, everyone. My book blog Book Club Fight Club is now known as Tolerably Smart. I changed my blog's name because I wasn't satisfied with it. For those who do not know, the name was taken from Jimmy Kimmel's skit with Oprah. It's funny, but it's Jimmy Kimmel's funny.

Tolerably Smart is not that original, but at least it's a funny I came up with on my own. The name was inspired from the Jane Austen's quote, "The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid," in her book Northanger Abbey. I have pleasure in a good novel so I must be Tolerably Smart. Get it?

*cricket chirp*

Anyway, the other changes are the absence of the comment platform Disqus and of the related post gadget by nRelate. The former I don't think I want anymore. It's rather inconvenient to manage something that is not on the Blogger website, and it's not as if Blogger's default comment platform is insufficient; Blogger's comment platform is sufficient. All I really wanted was for the comment box to extend to the width of the post's page, and I found the customization code to do that.

As for the gadget, it's a work in progress. For some reason, Blogger doesn't seem to allow me to add page elements from external source. I might have to use another alternative and directly tweak the template code; I already found a few, but they're not as good as the gadget from nRelate.

In other news, I finished four reviews, and I will post them this month. If you have time, visit this beautiful book blog, Bookworm Dreams. I just discovered it literally a few minutes ago.

Have a happy winter holiday!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

NEWS: affection, church, taipei, nobeast, & disney

Historic news

# Bosom Buddies: A Photo History of Male Affection (29 July 2012) "These photos showcase an evolution in the way men relate to one another — and the way in which certain forms and expressions of male intimacy have disappeared over the last century."

How sweet. I wish this was acceptable and more common in today's society.

# 13th Century Church Gets New Life as a Bookstore (17 August 2012) "This Dominican church in Maastrich Netherlands was built in 1294, but when Napoleon pushed the order out in the 18th century, the church fell into disuse."

I always thought bookstores were holy places. Now I'm glad to see a literal example. How heavenly.

NSFW/WTFkery news

This Taipei Food Stand Sells Penis Pancakes (October 2012)

Um... O_o

# The art of NoBeast (16 June 2007) "a rare gay take on the unique Japanese tentacle rape fetish"

I would read those books... And anyway, Karen at Goodreads read stranger.

Pretty Pictures

# New Celebrity Disney Photos by Annie Leibovitz (3 March 2011)

My favorite is "Scarlett Johansson as Cinderella."


Thursday, December 13, 2012

REVIEW: In Stone: A Grotesque Faerie Tale by Jeremy Jordan King

In Stone: A Grotesque Faerie Tale In Stone: A Grotesque Faerie Tale by Jeremy Jordan King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The story started off slowly despite a hate crime scene which thankfully was quick to end and not graphic. It didn’t feel like a faerie tale (of the Grimm’s kind) till one-third of the book. The plot alternated between Jeremy’s perilous present (someone wants to kill him) and Garth’s tragic past (how he came to be cursed and lost his loved ones).

I hate it when the plot is not linear and half of it is in flashback, but the story managed to keep my attention which is a big compliment from me. The story balanced the present and past plot-lines very well in terms of action, intrigue, and making me attached to the characters. It even surprised me with a few twists I totally did not see coming.

The Characters

I liked the protagonist, Jeremy. He was pessimistic, he was contemplative, he was someone I quickly related to. Nonetheless, there was too much navel-gazing going on in the story. Many times, I was impatient with his narrative.

Garth’s part of the story was quicker to read. For a stoic, tragic character, he was likable. It helped that the story didn’t keep him as a mystery, that answers about him were doled out at a pace to my satisfaction.

What I Didn’t Like

The story had action, but it focused more on the characters’ situation and how pitiful it was... most of the time when I could scrounge up pity. Jeremy’s unrequited love for Robbie bugged me for a long while; I pitied neither of them for that and hated Robbie for leading Jeremy and Nick on. There was a little Shakespearean vibe running through the plot that I did not care for.

The story had little sense of time. For example, late in the book, scene X happened and then a couple scenes later in scene Y I learned a season has passed since scene X... I think. I didn’t know if the protagonist was still working, whether he was paying the bills, and other things that give the story its context. At one point, I was surprised to learn he moved to another place, and I immediately thought “when?” because I didn’t skim. The lazy regard for setting in Jeremy’s plot-line disrupted the sense of suspense and danger the story was building.

The story kept my attention, but it wasn’t good enough to make me want to re-read some of the scenes for clarity or even re-read the book entirely. That is mostly due to the bittersweet ending even though it was fitting. It probably helped that the relationship between Jeremy and Garth was more platonic than romantic; I don’t know for sure if Garth ever saw Jeremy in that way. The ending would have been sadder otherwise.

Poor Nick, too; he was portrayed as the antagonist when his only crime was being Robbie’s boyfriend. I’m pretty sure the things Robbie bitched about Nick to Jeremy in small talks were false. I hope things will look up for Nick.

In Conclusion

I rate the book 2-stars for it was okay. The book could have also used a tiny more proofreading because I saw two instances of homophones mix up. Other than that, In Stone was a surprisingly decent read.

Goodreads | Amazon

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

REVIEW: A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager

A Tale of Two Daddies A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager, illustrated by Kristin Blackwood and Mike Blanc
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Curious about his playmate’s eponymous parents, a boy asks a girl many questions to which she cheerfully answers. The boy would ask two questions, and the girl would give two answers forming a cycle of questions and answers. I liked how the answers aren't always “daddy did this. poppa did that,” that there was variety to keep the narrative fresh. Instead of being repetitive and therefore dull like a rock, the narrative was rhythmic and catchy.

Each question and answer had an illustration on top. The illustrations are big and bold, simple in detail but vibrant in color. They reminded me of the clip art in Microsoft Office, to be honest; that’s a compliment. While I liked the illustrations, I found it odd how the story never showed the daddies’ face. Instead, only their body parts were shown, commonly their legs from feet to waist. I didn’t like this style of showing a child’s PoV. It weakened the mental picture of the family for me.

I rate A Tale of Two Daddies 3-stars for I liked it. I wished the illustrations showed the daddies’ face, but overall I enjoyed the book.

Amazon GoodReads