F archive at Stray Talk
an archive of my forays into fact and fiction

Archive: F


7th February, 2008
By a Lady; Amanda Elyot
— Love @ 23:40 Comments (1)
Filed under: Chick lit, English, F, Historical, Romance

By a Lady; Amanda Elyot By a Lady
by Amanda Elyot
American

English
372 pages
Three Rivers Press
ISBN: 1-4000-9799-1

First line: “It’s beautiful,” C.J. murmured, examining the curiously pockmarked amber cross.

Back cover blurb:
New York actress C.J. Welles, a die-hard Jane Austen fan, is on the verge of landing her dream role: portraying her idol in a Broadway play. But during her final audition, she is mysteriously transported back to Bath, England, in the year 1801. And Georgian England, with its rigid and unforgiving social structure and limited hygiene facilities, is not quite the picturesque costume drama C.J. had always imagined.
Just as she wishes she could click her heels together and return to Manhattan, C.J. meets the delightfully eccentric Lady Dalrymple, a widowed countess who takes C.J. into her home, introducing her as a poor relation to Georgian society—including the dashing Earl of Darlington and his cousin, Jane Austen!
When a crisis develops, C.J.—in a race against time—becomes torn between two centuries. An attempt to return to her own era might mean forfeiting her blossoming romance with the irresistible Darlington and her growing friendship with Jane Austen, but it’s a risk she must take. And in the midst of this remarkable series of events, C.J. discovers something even more startling—a secret from her own past that may explain how she wound up in Bath in the first place.

Thoughts: I read about this book on a blog a while back (I forget which one, I’m sorry to say) and since I’ve been on a bit of an Austen kick lately, I thought it sounded interesting and figured I would give it a shot. The review I read warned that there was hot, steamy sex to be found in the novel, and while that’s not normally my cup of tea (especially in a Regency era novel), I figured I would be okay with it since I had advance warning. Yeah, not so much.

I absolutely and utterly hated this book. I think it might actually be the worst book I’ve ever read. Usually when I find fault with a book, there’s something else about it that makes it not quite so horrid. Say, if the language is bad, the characters have redeeming qualities, and so forth. But this sorry excuse for a novel was quite honestly bad in every imaginable way.

The main character, C.J., is such a Mary Sue it’s not even funny. She’s an American actress who is absolutely obsessed with Jane Austen and is about to get her big break landing a role as Jane Austen in a two-character Broadway play. Guess who the author is? An American actress who is seriously into Jane Austen and played that very person in a two-character play (if it was on Broadway I don’t particularly know, but it doesn’t seem too unlikely). And of course, C.J. is perfect in every single way. Ergo1, Mary Sue.

The story is nearly always told from C.J.’s point-of-view, except occasionally when it suddenly changes to be the point-of-view of whatever other person happens to be nearby. These changes feel very crudely done and seemed to serve no real purpose, except to confuse and annoy.

As if that wasn’t enough, the language is absolutely horrible. The author seems bent on sticking as many big and fancy words in there as she possibly can, with no regard to if they fit the feel of the rest of it, or not. And don’t get me started on the sex scenes! My god, they made my eyes bleed. Let’s just say there was a little too much ear-licking for my tastes, and just in general terribly unappealing. Nothing even remotely sexy about the writing there. I think she was going for romantic/hot and steamy, but completely and utterly failed.

Another bone of contention I have with this book is how the women of 1801 are portrayed as compared to C.J., who is the representative of the 21st century woman. The former, with a few exceptions, are made out to be exceedingly unintelligent, whilst C.J. is so clever and so well-read, which we are made to understand is how all 21st century women are. I think there might be something in that, don’t get me wrong (we do have access to a lot more information, these days), but I don’t exactly think C.J. is the average modern day woman either. She is well-acquainted with early 19th century law, knows more about heart conditions than the Georgian physician (true that medicine has made advances since 1801, but would a layperson really know more than a doctor, even if he was a backwards one? I’m not so sure), and uses Latin phrases in everyday conversation2 quite a lot. I just don’t buy that this is the average woman of our time. But then, as mentioned previously, C.J. is a Mary Sue and thus cannot be held to the same standards as the rest of us.

One last thing I have a problem with is the character Lady Dalrymple. She’s eccentric, but a nice person and rather well-liked, even, as far as I can tell, by Jane Austen. Now, if you are familiar with your Austen novels, you will know that in Persuasion, there is a character with that very same name. This person, however, is a rather proud and disagreeable lady. One would assume that Elyot’s chosen the names for her characters to make it out that Jane Austen took the names of her characters from people she knew (there are other examples of this as well). If that is indeed the case, I feel sorry for Lady Dalrymple to be thus abused by someone who apparently quite liked her.

The rating, if anyone’s having any sort of doubt at this point, is an F. I would go lower if I could, but I can’t, and so an F it is. The only reason I read ’til the end (I’ll have to admit to skipping some passages that were too much to bear), was because I’d spent money on the book and didn’t want that to have been a complete waste.

1. Oh, I’ll be made to eat that ergo before the end of this review, you mark my word.
2. This is when I eat my ergo.


13th January, 2008
The Princess Diaries V: Give Me Five; Meg Cabot
— Love @ 12:28 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, Chick lit, English, F, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

The Princess Diaries: Give Me Five; Meg Cabot The Princess Diaries V: Give Me Five
by Meg Cabot
American

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
166 pages
e-book

First line: The week of May 5-10 is Senior Week.

Back cover blurb:
Mia is about to turn fifteen and can’t wait to dance the night away with Michael at the biggest, most romantic event of her life so far: the senior prom! But nothing’s going according to plan. Not only does Mia face a snoozefest summer of sceptre-wielding in Genovia. Even worse is the fact that Michael hasn’t even invited Mia to the prom at all. Hello, what is going on here? Just as Mia comes up with a perfect plan to change her man’s mind, disaster strikes. A disaster that only a genius like Grandmere can overcome…

Thoughts: I hated this book. The first book of the series was quite good, so I read the second one, which was quite nice as well, so I read the third, which was not quite as good, but still okay, so I read the fourth and about there I think I should have stopped, because the fifth in the series did nothing but annoy me and make me grit my teeth. Thankfully it’s such a short book that the agony of reading it was over quite quickly (as much as I wanted to give up and put it down, I couldn’t, because it was one of my set choices for the YA challenge).

There are at least four more books to the series, but trust me when I say that I will not be reading those.

As you might have guessed, the rating I’m giving this book is an F.


12th November, 2007
Faghag; Linda Leopold
— Love @ 21:15 Comments (0)
Filed under: F, GLBT interest, Sex, sexuality & gender, Swedish

Faghag; Linda Leopold Faghag
by Linda Leopold
Swedish

Swedish
263 pages
Atlas
ISBN: 978-91-7389-318-3

First line: Året är 1985.

Back cover blurb:
“Man lär känna en och sen lär man känna en till. Sen upptäcker man att den tredje också är supertrevlig. Och sen börjar man liksom samla på dem.”

Faghag är en reportagebok om det speciella förhållandet mellan heterosexuella kvinnor och homosexuella män. Den utspelar sig i Berlin, New York, Göteborg, San Fransisco, Stockholm, Paris och Falun, på allt från sexklubbar till ålderdomshem, bland kvinnor som förenas i kärleken till bögar.
En del faghags föredrar att shoppa och dricka cocktails med sina gaybästisar, andra kämpar politiskt för dem. Några nöjer sig med att beundra bögarna på avstånd, likt de unga tjejerna i Faghagklubben som sitter hemma och skriver homoerotiska noveller.
Faghag handlar om symbiotisk vänskap, politisk kamp och en gemensam dröm om en värld bortom regnbågen.

Thoughts: I really did not like this book. It’s interesting, to be sure, and before I read it, I thought I’d like it a lot. But I don’t. I don’t know if it’s the language, or the author’s attitude, but we just didn’t click, this book and I. Well… except one part of one chapter, but that wasn’t enough to make me want to give it a better rating than an F.


10th November, 2007
Bush-Whacked; Leland Gregory
— Love @ 17:50 Comments (0)
Filed under: English, F, Humour

Bush-Whacked; Leland Gregory Bush-Whacked
by Leland Gregory
American

English
248 pages
Andrews McMeel Publishing
ISBN: 0-7407-5471-8

Back cover blurb:
From the best-selling author of America’s Dumbest Criminals, What’s the Number for 911? and Hey, Idiot! comes a hysterical collection of perplexing quotes and wacky anecdotes devoted to the governmental goofs of the Bush administration.

With his expert nose for nuttiness, Leland Gregory has captured the Bush administration at its funniest, not its finest.

Thoughts: I was expecting to be very amused by this book, but that just didn’t happen. It’s true that it contains a few gems that made me giggle, but the author (or editor, if you will, since it’s a collection of quotes, basically) included a bunch of budget decisions that I couldn’t personally see anything wrong with. Since they were included, I assume they were meant to be funny, but I just didn’t see it. Maybe it’s because I’m not an American and I have another view, perhaps, on how tax money is meant to be spent.

Either way, in the end, I didn’t much care for this book and it gets an F, the first I’ve given out since this blog started.