Welcome to Biting-Edge, a blog shared by authors and vampire experts, Mario Acevedo and Jeanne Stein. We’ll cover urban fantasy, vampires, pop culture, and all things Joss Whedon. Unlike other fantasy blogs, we don’t insist on body cavity searches (unless you ask politely). Snarkiness is most welcome...though we won't promise not to bite back!

Sunday, October 07, 2012
  When the Big Man grins...
Mario here:

I've been reading a lot of novels lately in a variety of genres as I try to pin down what makes a good read "good."

What complicates the process is what we determine as "good" is so subjective. Almost all of what I've read lately is not just good, but damn good. Humbling good. Among the titles:

Thread of Hope, by Jeff Shelby

                                          The Financial Lives of the Poets, by Jess Walter

Citizen Vince, also by Jess Walter

                                                                              Wool, by Hugh Howey

Consent to Kill, by Vince Flynn

                                               In Pharaoh's Army, by Tobias Wolf (a memoir)

Then just this weekend I finished (more or less) one book that screwed my mood. The novel was by an award-winning author--recipient of an NEA grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship--and featured lost love and a man scarred by war. With those credentials, I was expecting to be blown away. What could go wrong? Plenty, unfortunately. The narrative read like a first draft. The author was blurbed by the usual suspects and the book's Kirkus Starred review praised it for "extraordinary language." I must have missed something or read a different book by the same title. Jess Walter and Tobias Wolf ka-powed me with their mastery of prose. For a literary writer, the guy in question was a lazy hack.

In another blog exploring the magical sprouting of a breakout book, an agent was quoted as saying, "and then God smiled." In other words, "a miracle occurred." I don't want to slight another author for their success--bad karma and all that--and if someone hits the jackpot, good luck to them.

Still, I wish God wasn't so stingy with his smiles. I know of plenty of good great outstanding writers who have not been given the attention they deserve. Meanwhile, other less talented scribes get heaped with praise and sales. We have the hoopla over Shades of Grey. What puzzles me is all the media carnival about the sexual content, as if no one else had ever written erotica before. Well, here's a nod and a wave of the stinky finger to my naughty and successful writer pals, Lorelei James, Lauren Dane, and Megan Hart.

And this week, on October 9 to be precise, is the release date for Daniel Marks' (né Mark Henry) amazing YA novel, Velveteen. Don't believe me, read this review. Buy bunches of copies. The hardback looks gorgeous. Hate to say this of anything regarding Mark Henry (I mean, have you ever met the guy? It's like visiting the monkey cage at the zoo.), but I'm jealous.

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It does make one wonder about (paid) positive reviews. I've noticed the same thing.

Oh, and I've read the Wool Omnibus. A great story and the writing is worthy of the attention it has been getting. I'll check out some of the other titles you mentioned.

I guess, there's no accounting for taste.
tmso: Thanks for posting. I followed your profile to Comic Crits.<-will blog that. I don't think the book in question had paid reviews, but it was the usual reviewers singing the usual praise over a book I found mediocre.
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