We are very happy to welcome draconismoi aka Cass here today. She’s a guest reviewer at our site and we thought it would be nice for all of to learn a bit more about her today. So I grilled her a bit for you. So take a drink, read the interview and take your chance to win a book of your choice. Please give Cass a warm welcome!
Susi: Cass, tell us a bit about your life outside of reading and blogging.
Draconismoi: I’m a bush lawyer in Alaska.
Get your mind out of the gutter! Not THAT kind of bush.
I work with a legal aid organization in rural Alaska. (See the map? All that stuff inside the arrows? My territory. Lots of space. Only one me.) I provide free civil legal services to people who have serious legal issues and cannot afford to pay an attorney. Lots of domestic violence custody disputes, evictions, and denials of medical care right now.
I’m also prone to tangents….as you are about to discover.
Susi: What do you love to read?
Draconismoi: Speculative Fiction. Sci fi, fantasy, horror, urban fantasy, steampunk, folk/fairy tales. I don’t care if it’s a children’s book or a 1000 page beast.
Susi: Is there a genre you try to avoid?
Draconismoi: Romance. Ugh. Particularly those pseudo-rape romances where the heroine is kidnapped/forced into relationship/sold and molested or abused in various ways until Stockholm Syndrome has a chance to set in. Now it’s TRUE LOVE. She just needed him to wake up her sexuality through abduction, imprisonment and rape.
In the historicals this always seems to end in marriage. Because now he feels just so BAD about what he did and wants to make it up to her through marriage. I presume he goes on rape and assault their staff and neighbors in various ways until he finally dies of syphilis.
The paranormals are just as bad. It wasn’t his fault! He just couldn’t help himself because they are destined to be together through mythology/gods/pheromones/creepy breeding program. Rape, of course, being the preferred way of expressing your undying eternal devotion to any person. Why didn’t she just fall naked into his lap the first moment she laid eyes on him? Any trauma she experienced was her own fault for opposing the will of the god/priest/father/scientist/unnamed patriarchal figure she should show ultimate deference too. In the slightly-less-appalling versions, she is given immortality/superpowers after the rape, so we can rest assured that sometime between now and the inevitable zombie uprising, she will carve his non-existant heart of his chest, nail it to her mantle, and wear his dried out testicles on a funky hipster accessory.
Susi: Did you ever read a romance you liked?
Draconismoi: I have unintentionally read quite a lot of paranormal romances. Particularly when they first started coming out. They were always shelved in the sf/fantasy section! Very misleading. I was a happy camper when bookstores finally caught on to the paranormal romance designation and put them in their own space. Now I see entire shelves in YA dedicated to paranormal romances. It’s a trend that is here to stay.
Maybe I should be more clear. I don’t object to romance in books. That’s fine. I just largely hate books that have no purpose other than the sexing. Plots are not just filler between sex chapters.
So. Anyways. While reading paranormal romances, I’ve found a few that I did enjoy.
The Edge by Ilona Andrews is the one that causes me the most consternation. I got it on ebook, totally expecting an urban (rural?) fantasy from the description – and the version I downloaded didn’t include that bizarre giant head cover. So I had no clue it was really just a romance until I saw the blurb for the sequel. Which I haven’t read. I’m sure I should, because I really did enjoy The Edge, and I don’t object to the main characters hooking up in fully consensual ways, But ugh, It’s a romance series! If I start getting all of them I have to admit I really enjoy some romances, and as you saw from my previous rants, I have pretty gnarly opinions about the genre.
I’m also a fan of Patricia Briggs Alpha & Omega series. I wasn’t going to keep reading after the first one, but Mercy’s been boring me lately, while I am still quite interested in Anna’s exploits. Huge bonus? No ridiculous love-triangle! Since our main characters are already married, they can focus on drama and intrigue and evil plots instead of the eternal debate over which-dude-that-wants-me-is-hotter. (Yes, Mercy, I am looking at you. The very fact that you even CONSIDERED hooking back up with Sam, Mr.-brainwash-a-child-into-loving-me, is a testament to your poor judgment).
Susi: What does a great book has to be like for you?
1) World-building. Since I read speculative fiction it’s important that I can tell the author put serious thought into the world they created, as opposed to just drunkenly scrawling a few notes on a napkin. (examples: Kage Baker’s The Company, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Doris Egan’s Ivory, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale)
2) Characters. You may have an awesome and interesting world I want to explore, but if I don’t give a damn about your characters, I am not going to keep reading. Make it a video game if you can’t handle inventing a believable person. (examples: Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels, Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate, Sheri Tepper’s Gate to Women’s Country).
Susi: Any pet peeves which would ensure you’ll hate a book?
Draconismoi: Bad writing is a big one. I cannot take a book seriously if I keep seeing grammatical errors. That will make me stop reading.
I will throw a book across the room and consider burning it in effigy if the author displays extreme misogyny/racism/homophobia.
I’m not talking about prejudices and discrimination that serve to characterize the people or society in the book (something actually serving the plot). When the plot/purpose of the book itself is inherently demeaning to a class of people? I see enough of that shit at work. I will loathe you and your work until the END OF TIME. I can hold a grudge. Try me.
Susi: If you had to choose a favorite genre which would it be?
Draconismoi: Speculative Fiction! Obviously.
Susi: And out of curiosity, would the answer have been the same 10 years ago?
Draconismoi: No. But that’s just because I hadn’t learned the umbrella term for my favorite genre. If I were to break up my favorite sub-genres in my life…..
Alternative history/historical fiction (I started out with Little House, Anne, and Nancy Drew) —– Fantasy (Hello, Pern, love the dragons) —– Science fiction (Spaceships! Other societies! Aliens! Dystopia!) —— Horror (we’re all DOOMED to die bloody awful deaths.) —— Urban Fantasy (Bring on the shapeshifters! Down with vampires!) —– YA (That phase helped me a lot in law school. My brain was too mushy to read huge complicated books, but there was so my speculative YA to devour.) —– Speculative Fictions Unite! (Currently I have no real sub-genre preference. When the mood strikes I’ll read a zombie book, then some steampunk, then a class space opera, and I’ll follow-it up with a YA alternative retelling of a classic fairy/folk tale)
Susi: How did you find your way into the blogosphere?
Draconismoi: Law school. I moved across the country, didn’t know anyone, didn’t have time to keep up with all my friends, and was trying desperately not to go insane. I started blogging. Mostly rants about the general evils in the law itself. Which turned into rants about a book I read or movie I’d seen…..and then I started getting comments from people I didn’t know. (Craziness! Who cares what I think?).
First I found the feminist blogs (holy shit I’m not the only one noticing how screwed up the world is!). This led to TV/Movie review blogs. With a feminist focus. Of course. And that gradually led to book blogs.
I didn’t start regularly interacting with book blogs until I finished law school and was un-and-underemployed for a year and a half. So much time to read! I caught up on most of my TBR pile (seriously, it was down to something completely manageable. 10 or so books). Then I got a job, and kept reading the blogs. So my TBR pile grows exponentially, and I only get minimal amounts of reading done outside the office.
If it weren’t for the advent of ebooks, I would be well on my way to starring in that episode of Hoarders with the 800,000 book hoard.
Draconismoi: Twilight. Obviously. It’s no worse than many other paranormal romances out there. It’s just so damn popular and I could never figure out WHY. Poorly written, under-developed world, no characterizations whatsoever, not to mention romanticizing a horrifyingly abusive relationship.
Sparkles stalks her all through the first book, breaking into her damn room to spy on her while she is sleeping. He physically assaults her when she tries to be affectionate with him, and constantly threatens her life. Later he isolates her from her friends/family by ripping the damn engine out of her car.
Then they set her infant daughter up with her ex-boyfriend. Yay for arranged child-marriages!
HOW is this not creepy to people? It terrifies me that so many young girls grow up seeing THAT is the epitome of romance. When your significant other commits any of the above acts, you call the police, get a restraining order, and move as far away as possible to protect yourself from what could very likely end in your death. Like it did in the books! After all, she did die. After he denied her medical care during her pregnancy and birth.
Susi: Reviewing can be tough, we all know that. What is harder for you a glowing review for a book you adored or describing why one didn’t work for you at all?
Draconismoi: Oh I have no trouble with the rants. The disgust is easy. It flows out of me in a never-ending river of snark.
Glowing reviews are harder. I get so excited and just want to run around telling people to READ THIS BOOK IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE SO AMAZING READ IT!!!!!!
When I’m doing book recommendations for friends its easier, because I know what types of things they like in books – so I know how to highlight the part that will appeal to them. A general audience? That’s tough.
Note: I am a kick-ass book recommender. My personal algorithms send Amazon’s recommendation service straight to hell. I cannot tell you how many times I gift/recommend a book to someone and they either:
1) Yell at me two days later because it was the first in a series and I, being an evil manipulative twat, neglected to provide them with the entire series. My dad didn’t speak to me once for a week after father’s day because he had to order the rest of the series online and it just WASN’T ARRIVING.
2) Completely ignore the recommendation for a couple years, then randomly start reading, burn through it and anything else the author has written in the interim, and call me in desperation because they NEED MORE and WHY didn’t I explain how AMAZING it was, and what can they read now since all else pales to this brilliance?
Susi: Okay I dare you tempt us with a rec. Do you worst.
Draconismoi: Feed By Mira Grant. Once the trilogy is complete I plan on doing a Which Zombie Apocalypse Kicks The Most Ass post. Mira Grant vs. Sophie Littlefield. WHO WILL REIGN SUPREME?! So you should all read up on Feed to prepare. It is set in a post-zombie world where society actually keeps trucking on – as much as it is able. Key difference? Bloggers overtook the mainstream media because back when zombies first rose, CNN laughed, and bloggers told people to shoot them in the head. Guess who is considered more reliable and trustworthy now?
Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) throws all kinds of little details in her world building that I totally love. For example, George Romero is considered a savior of the human race – and so George and all derivatives are the most popular baby names in the U.S. (Our leading ladies include Georgia and Georgette). How hilariously appropriate is that?
For those of you dead set on your vampire sex scenes, might I suggest Sunshine, by Robin McKinley? Again with the fabulous world-building and attention to detail, plus a more realistic (I know, I know, it’s vampires) description of the evolving relationship between a vampire and his dinner. Awazing. Plus, our leading lady is a chef with a dark sense of humor. I want people to make me all the foods described in the book. So I can eat myself into a diabetic coma and die happy.
Who here wanted to like the Hunger Games but found it a little too juvenile? Not enough gore? Not enough time spent watching a group of kids psychologically breaking down and turning into gibbering piles of madness before destroying any and everyone in their paths? Did you want an NC-17 rating on the movie adaptation? Then Battle Royale is the book (and movie) for you!
One lucky commenter will have the oppotunity to get one of the books mentioned in the post- winner’s choice. It doesn’t have to be one of the recommendations.
Book will be ordered via Book Depository so make sure you can receive books from their site.
All you have to do is leave a meaningful comment about the interview or just ask Cass a question.
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)
Please be sure to include a valid email address in the comment form (need not be in the actual body of the comment).
This giveaway is opento all!
Giveaway ends on Saturday, April 29th, 2012; we will announce the winner on Sunday.