Wednesday, October 8, 2008

We Only Wish Doomsday Had Come...

Apparently my review of "Any Given Doomsday" by Lori Handeland has become popular enough to be officially labeled a Hot Review on LibraryThing. So...I thought I'd post it here for those who aren't 'Thangers - may my simple little review save as many lives as possible.


Any Given Doomsday - Lori Handeland

I honestly cannot find one redeeming quality about “Any Given Doomsday.” Despite the fact that the cover states that Lori Handeland is a New York Times bestselling author, this book reads like an amateur first draft with character inconsistencies, bad plotting, terrible dialogue, and classic blunders.

The main character, Elizabeth Phoenix, is not the brightest crayon in the box, and frequently has to have things explained to her two and three times before she understands something, but will then follow up with the exact same question that started the long, boring, and stilted explanation the reader has just suffered through. Her actions and reactions are also inconsistent with previous experiences in the story. For instance, after fighting two demons who turned to ash upon their deaths, learning that her ex-boyfriend is a half-vampire, and killing off a town of werewolves, Elizabeth Phoenix drops the phone in shock to learn that a previous victim had the blood sucked out of her body. To the reader, that seems like the *least* shocking revelation, but not to our sharp-as-a-bowling-ball heroine.

Another moment of supreme stupidity is after Elizabeth is captured, stripped of her clothes, and seduced/raped by her ex-boyfriend turned temporarily evil, she is told that she will become a sex slave and will never again wear clothes for the rest of eternity. She leaves to take a shower, only to be insulted and shocked upon her return to find her tattered clothes missing from the bedroom with no new clothes left in their place.

The two male characters are so two dimensional that their every action seems contrived, and their feud and mistrust of each other goes beyond absurd to simply annoying and distracting. But that fits lock-in-step with the overly simplistic and predictable plot. The supremely intelligent, ancient and wise evil vampire/antagonist is killed off with the easiest of effort stolen straight from an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but only after revealing his “secret” plan to our nude and captive heroine (i.e. in the classical-cheesy method: I’m going to kill you, but first I will reveal my plan to take over the world.). Then after one more poorly written sex scene, our heroine’s now reformed ex-boyfriend disappears like a cliché in the early dawn hours, leading us straight into a sequel you couldn’t pay me to read.

This novel is proof-positive that once publishers spot a hot trend or sub-genre, they will rush any ol’ title out there to grab as much cash as they can as quickly as they can, thereby smothering with certifiable crap the very market they’re trying to build. It’s just unfortunate that the authors don’t at least make an honest attempt to craft a better story.

Scale of 1-5 Stars:
one-half star


Hoping for criminal charges to be filed,
Michael OCD

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Not Burning...but history none-the-less

Wow -- just about finished with a long spat of reviews. I have two reviews to finish (including the draft below), and one more book to read. I still feel as though a great weight has been removed from my shoulders as I pick up this last book, plus I also feel a bit of gratitude that it's a standard-sized, mass-market paperback ARC and not some over-sized trade paperback or some spiral bound unfinished ARC. It is true, you don't truly appreciate something until it's gone for a while, and in this case, I've missed the compact size and ease of handling of the good ol' fashioned mass-market paperback provides. It simply can't be beat. Yeah, sure, hardbacks are good for long-term collecting, and trade paperbacks are good for taking notes or instructional use, but nothing beats a mass-market paperback for reading on the go.


Here is my review of “Obscene In the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’” as posted at

The title of the book “Obscene In the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’” is deceptive of its contents. While the first chapter spends a few pages discussing the efforts to ban the book from the Kern County library, and while the last chapter focuses more on those efforts and the immediate aftermath, the rest of the book focuses nearly exclusively on the labor issues in California during the 1930s and only mentions “The Grapes of Wrath” in passing references from time to time.

The background and history of that region is important to understand in order to appreciate why Steinbeck’s classic came under fire, but author Rick Wartzman devotes more time than is necessary to convey this point. He mentions that the book was also banned in other regions of the country, but rarely, if at all, states why these areas outside California found it necessary to do so.

The book's “heroine” is a Kern County librarian who was brave enough to write a stern letter to the Kern County Board – her employer – and managed to loan a good number of copies out to other libraries who struggled to keep up with the demand for “The Grapes of Wrath”, but beyond that, either Ms. Gretchen Knief did nothing of note or else the author chose not to mention it. From the available text, it is difficult to tell.

Thankfully, the author does spend some time discussing Steinbeck’s actions in California during the 1930s, but despite the title of this book, most of the focus is prior to the penning of his classic novel. Once again, this was interesting and necessary, but not in keeping with the title.

With all of that being said, though, this work told a detailed and compelling story of the laborers of that region and their struggles. These pages could serve as a good solid starting point for anyone wanting to learn of the era and the atmosphere at a tumultuous time in California’s history when the political and social stakes were high. For that much, this is a good read.

But as a book about the burning and banning of an American classic, this reference falls short with a title that is as deceptive as the land-owners it chronicles.


Since Fall officially begins tomorrow, I'm off to pick my Classics & Cheese movies for the upcoming months of cool weather, fallen leaves, and longer nights. I've recently purchased some modern horror films (by modern, I mean made within the last ten years) that I haven't opened yet, so maybe I'll strip off the cellophane and fire those up.

Taking a bite out of clear plastic,
Michael OCD