Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Backup by Erica Kudisch

So ...

The Greek god Dionysus is living as the rock star Nik. He's an elusive petty ignorant a-hole who is seemingly untouchable. Anthony is a recent college graduate with a PhD in Musicology. Now Anthony is Nik's manager and hating everything every step of the way. Anthony's uncle Paul tells him that since he hasn't yet gotten a job in his field, he has this job for him. Anthony takes the job because he needs the money and becomes the most complaining ungrateful little shit you've ever witnessed. Anthony has to stop fights, get into fights, and try to stop people from killing themselves all while Nik is on stage so that the show can continue no matter what. In an age of cell phone video and youtube, Anthony gets a little famous and his blog (which you get to read) blows up as a result. Needless to say, Anthony starts sleeping with Nik and then begins to believe in him, but somehow keeps Nik from fully getting to him. Nik literally drives people crazy with his music, or drives them to their death.

What I liked:
Oh! Okay. It was decently written. A book like this doesn't need to have tons of details but for what it was, it was done well. The author clearly loves classical music, and maybe some semblance of rock music. I enjoyed any scene that Anthony's uncle Paul was apart of. Paul was the only character outside of Anthony that I understood. I loved the progression of Anthony's belief in Nik as a god. It went from 'you're crazy' to 'am I crazy?' to 'shit ... he really is a god, I gotta get out of here.'
When I requested this book from Netgalley, it was in the Sci Fi & Fantasy category which is mostly what I read. Then I find that it's LGBTQIA as well and nearly jumped for joy. Add all that to the IR book cover and I was SOLD. The Character development was actually good among the main characters Anthony, Nik and Paul ... and to a lesser extent, Ida. The rest? I can't say.

What I disliked:
- Character description was seriously lacking. I knew that Anthony was a runner, of black/white mixed race heritage. I also knew that he has curly hair when it's grown out but he kept himself bald. I knew that Nik has weird red/gold hair. I know that Paul is not mixed because it was said in the book, and also is a darker skin color than Anthony and even darker than Nik. That's all I knew. I think maybe hair colors for other people were mentioned, clothes they wore, and accents, and heights ...
- Although the cover features Anthony and Nik ... It screams ROMANCE ... Not SciFi/Fantasy. I get that their is a tiny paranormal element to it but it wasn't enough. It should have been put in the romance category. The scifi element was minute and speculative. Not only is the cover misleading in that way, it also implies that this is a consensual relationship. It's not! Nik basically f*cks with Anthony's head to get him to sleep with him.
- Honestly Anthony and Nik were two peas in a pod. Anthony had his head so far up his ass about his degree and what he was SUPPOSED to be doing that he probably couldn't even breathe. He was so self-loathing and angry that it wafted off of him to everyone around him. What Anthony knows about music is word ... What anyone else knows about music is shit. Nik was no better because he absolutely cared about nothing. Everything was a game to him except for when one of his believers was taken from him.
- Details were very vague. Outside of physical details, there were big things mentioned that I didn't even realize were big things. Case in point: Anthony's mother. There's some epiphany close to the end about Paul not being able to have kids, and Nik knowing Anthony's mothers name. But we're never exactly told what the big deal is. This isn't the only instance, there are plenty of other things mentioned but no details given. It was quite frustrating thinking that you have to go backwards to find whatever this was referenced to but when you don't like what you're reading, you just keep trudging along and let it go.
- The musical references were too much! I'm not a classical music fan or a rock music fan so the vast majority of the musical references flew right over my head to the point that I was skipping pages because I kept seeing names of Classical musicians and then conversations following about that musician. I would never, in a million years, listen to the garbage that Nik was calling his music. It was utter garbage ... I actually paid attention to some of the things Anthony was saying about it. So I was completely down for Anthony hating his music. On the flip side, I was down for Nik telling Anthony not to play his 'math' (Bach) on his instruments.
- The ending was not satisfying in the least. After that last bad gig that Anthony played that landed him in the hospital, and then the FBI visit, and the witness protection ... All you're allowed to see is Anthony settling into his new life and meeting up with Ida (a pianist who left Nik's crew like a boss) who kept his cover as this new person. It's implied that nothing will happen to Nik despite Anthony cooperating with the cops but still ... Give me something. I was given nothing.

I won't say the book was bad but there were sooooooooooooooooo many things I disliked about it. I looked it up online and saw a couple of really good reviews. I'm glad someone really enjoyed it. It was just way too stuck-up for me. When Anthony hit the scene and stuck his nose up in the air about why what he thinks is better is true, it set the whole tone for me and there was no way I could bring myself to like him, not even in the end. I was at a point where I was hoping Nik would completely tear him down cause I disliked him so much. Anyway ... I can't even say it's okay. It isn't a recommendation I would give out unless someone specifically asked me for a book with a gay couple with only a tiny bit of a paranormal element and really annoying main characters.

1 Star
IR: Anthony (Bl/Wh) Nik (Greek)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Waking Up Alive by Emma Shortt

End of Days Love, Book 2

I've always felt a connection to the impending apocalypse. More importantly, the zombie apocalypse. I have plans in place for when it happens, because let's face it ... It'll happen. It may not be zombies ... But the world will shut down. My kid and I discuss tv vs real world zombies ... purely hypothetical, but still ... And we discuss ways to survive and minimize casualties, although my kid is fully prepared to take on the role of Rick (Walking Dead) if need be. I'm rambling ...

It took me quite a long time to get through this one because I was utterly annoyed by one of the main characters.

The zombie apocalypse has begun ... Months ago really ... So this book picks up right in the heart of the matter when the amount of live people are down to handfuls if you're that lucky. Not to mention that zombies are getting smarter ... Smarter! No longer are they just walking around finding people to eat, but they're hunting in packs. We later learn that packs are now turning into hordes. And this isn't like anything we've seen before ... they're not your typical slow walking zombies with limbs falling off, these guys are pack hunting, running, planning and even signaling. So the shit is real. We meet a couple of travelers named Tyrone and Jackson (female). They've been traveling together for a few months but become separated by packs of zombies. This book will follow Tye (Tyrone), who is a former cop, along his journey to find his friend. During the journey, we meet a couple more people, zombies, and even reach two birds at the same stone.

Let's start with what I liked:
     The one thing I love most about a zombie apocalypse world is the actual world and how it has degraded. I appreciate a writer that can really emphasize the ongoing silence, deterioration of buildings, and deterioration of humanity in those that are left living. The author, Emma Shortt, depicted those 3 things beautifully. I enjoyed being reminded of just how loud a car engine can be in a world where even white noise is nonexistent. Because of the incredible hearing zombies (I think they're called Wakers in this book) have, you've gotta be on cat feet and use less that an inside voice (if you HAVE to speak) at all times. I liked that we got a broad picture of the world surrounding us. There was a point where Tye met someone and he bunked in a very tall building that gave an overview of just how bad the city was. Let's talk about humanity. Polly, a scientist, is setting bombs around town for the zombies. As she's setting one, she runs into Tye. Here is a guy that used to be a cop but instead of hardening himself like most people would do in an apocalypse, it seems as though he's grown into more of a man if that were even possible. Continuing to be yourself in the face of all that really is incredible. And on the other side, there is Polly, who seemed like a genuinely good person until she was raped (or nearly raped ... it was only implied) by some guys she tried to help. You can only imagine how warped her mind has become due to that one majorly bad moment. It dictates how she treats people and how she immediately treated Tye. It goes without saying that it took a good while for Polly to relax. Understandable.

On to what I disliked:
     Polly. I hated Polly with a passion. I wanted Polly to die early on. In particular, I wanted her to be eaten. Let me stop. Okay ... I was originally angry about Jackson and Tye splitting up. Although I understood it, I just was not interesting in seeing my badass, Jackson, replaced with a sniveling Polly. I also felt like it was incredibly cliche that the man wouldn't interested in the strong woman ... He'd want the weak one. Let's be clear, Polly is strong in her own way. She has an incredible mind, but math is not going to get you cross country in an apocalypse. Polly was doing really well being hold up in an office building. She was growing food, figured out how to use her urine in other ways, created a make-shift kitchen, and even tapped into an underground internet that only the super smart survivors were privy to. So yes, Polly is useful but how many times does she have to be saved? I'll leave that up to the reader to count because I stopped counting. Polly is the type of girl that does the math, figures out the worst and how to ride through it, but has on room for WHAT IFs. A what if actually happened and she had to get moving, but thankfully, she had Tye with her to put it all in motion. Because without him ... ? The next thing I disliked was the amount of dialogue. I think in some instances, like to tell an old story maybe, a lot of dialogue is required, however ... This book had just so much. At the same time, you basically have to do things this way because it's the end of the world and this is the only live person around for miles. You're going to want to talk ... A lot. This book also featured no plot twists. It was very straight laced, which is good. Sometimes you don't want to think, you just want to get lost in the book, but ... Everything was predictable. Lastly, while i'm singing praises about the world building, the character descriptions could have used a ton of work. There was really good character development being done (even during the time when we were dealing with a certain zombie in Texas ... That part was really good), but I have on idea what anyone looked like. I only knew Tye was black because he's on the cover. Any other point in the book, looks arent mentioned outside of something like Polly having black curly hair and a curvy body because Tye prefers a healthier sized woman. I still don't know what Jackson looks like. I think someone close to the end, she may have been white. I'm still not sure about Polly or really anyone else outside of someone being starving/thin.

Overall ... I thought the book was decent. This is only one in a series but I don't feel the need to go and read the others. Polly was simply insufferable for me. This book has gotten so many great reviews online and I get it ... I'll even recommend it to anyone who asks for something like this, but I just can't deal with the possibility of another character with a personality like hers. She is the sole reason it took me over a month to read this book. So in summary, it's decent. I don't regret reading it but not quite sure I'd read another in the series or by the author unless someone I trust urges me to.

3 Stars
IR: Tye (Black) Polly (White?)