Have you noticed how the second in the series always has higher ratings than the first book?
Yeah, I've noticed it too. And it's not because the secondHave you noticed how the second in the series always has higher ratings than the first book?
Yeah, I've noticed it too. And it's not because the second book is better -- it's because the second in the series is almost always read exclusively by people who have read the first book. That means it has an overwhelming likelihood of being rated higher than the first. Which means it's a skewed rating to begin with.
I seldom read series, even if I adored the first book. ESPECIALLY if I adored the first book. That's because I feel that some stories are better left unsaid. You know, a little mystery, a little opening, a little left to the imagination at the end. Happily ever afters and also they had 2.5 kids -- it's just a bit much. There's beauty in the unknown.
Well, I loved the first one a lot, because it was one of the first few free Kindle books I got off Amazon, and I was so amazed at the quality of the writing that I went and stalked the author on her webpage. I saw that people requested a sequel (which I didn't think the book needed) but which request I understand can oil the wheels of inspiration. So, I got the second book the instant it came out.
I loved the title. (Yes, it's catchy because it continues on with the mythical creatures.) I even loved the idea behind the book. Yes, it was clever, even. But the entire book suffered because of the very weird, suddenly not HEA relationship that seemed pretty resolved at the end of the previous book. Suddenly, our protagonist had to prove herself to the hero...AGAIN? Sure, I don't mind a strong heroine, but not one running around in circles to win a guy, when she had already done so...in the previous book. And suddenly I found myself wanting her to throw him over and find herself someone else. Oh, and the fact that she could travel freely back to earth? Yeah, it's a happy coincidence, but...we went through a gut-wrenching goodbye in the last book!
So that was my beef. Too much raking over issues already resolved or should have been....more
Well, the fact that it's shelved as a DNF for now should tell you that I was severely underwhelmed by the book. Maybe it was the fact that I saw almosWell, the fact that it's shelved as a DNF for now should tell you that I was severely underwhelmed by the book. Maybe it was the fact that I saw almost overwhelming positive reviews for this book, including people I follow, or the fact that I had bought an entire series off Kindle specifically to read this (and another book). Whatever the case may be, I found this book not even the campy fun that most people labeled it, but eye-rolling teenybopper fiction.
The whole premise of the book sounded right up my alley, not too much romance, a female enforcer (police officer) in a sort of alternate history fantasy story, who's sent to catch one of the most wanted criminals in the empire only to discover she was set up. Except, the entire premise of the plot was based on the Emperor, someone six years Amaranthe's junior, seeing her take down a thug in a shop and becoming strangely enamored of her...to the point where he waxes lyrical about what a great mom she'd make. That, and over the top compliments on how pretty she was -- from the next five characters that we meet -- are a bit much. Oh, did I mention the fact that the author threw in a little OCD cleaning quirk to make her more human? Where she was itching to clean the desk of the Emperor's regent (creepy old dude in charge), or where she itched to sweep a crime scene? Or where she itched to clean debris off the floor of the dungeon cell she was taken to, just before she was injected/bitten with deadly bug venom to kill her? It just seemed like these little "quirks" were things to give her a "personality," and yes, I mean personality with quotes, because it didn't endear her to me; it just made me question her intelligence and training.
Essentially, from all the high praises given the book and the author, I expected better writing -- especially in fantasy where writers are geniuses at the unspoken and the embedded clues. This was not the case here. I was hit over the head with Mary Sue's inner (and ridiculously unprofessional) thoughts. I was hit over the head with clues about the creepy old dude in charge. It hardly seemed necessary for the story to be switched from her primary viewpoint to see the world from the Emperor's gushing and infatuated eyes. From there, it just seemed that most of the writing seemed so elementary as to be boring.
Some reviewers said that there was little romance and that it was still to come in later books. I thought the set up for it was pretty clear to me. And for our little heroine to go from being set up by the Regent or Prime Minister to her death to suddenly trust and engage in a cooperation with the person she was supposed to kill -- it was a little quick off the bat, wasn't it? Shouldn't there have been a couple of second encounters before they could trust each other? I don't even trust people I meet that quickly, and I'm not being sent to my death every day.
I was expecting a cool, collected assassin. Maybe he still could have come across as so if not for the totally unnecessary naked in a bathtub scene, where she got so into her (ridiculous) idea that she forgot she was sitting in an ice cold bathtub, naked, in front of an assassin that almost snapped her neck barely a week before. Seriously, there were ice blocks still floating in the tub. I don't know about you, but I don't think that after recovering from a fatal venom bite (and being unconscious because of it), I'd forget I'm sitting naked in an ice-cold bath in front of a stranger.
Reviewers found this book to categorize. Is it romance? It is historical? Is it fantasy? Is it (gulp) YA? Maybe yes to all of the above, but I would aReviewers found this book to categorize. Is it romance? It is historical? Is it fantasy? Is it (gulp) YA? Maybe yes to all of the above, but I would add one more category. What's that category of biographical fiction in which the female protagonist takes you through her day, much in the same vein as Lady Julia Grey or Lady Emily? Whichever that is, this runs in much the same way, but in a more captivating and interesting fashion.
The life of Dr. Megere Cliff is probably the most interesting of most of these fictional historical biographies, if one felt compelled to read these. And she makes for a most likable heroine. She's competent, mature, devoted to her family (who all possess a healthy dose of humor) and her medical craft. She's even feminine enough to love pretty clothes and not above noticing a handsome man or two -- strange how there's an influx of those around her all the time. There's even a conspiracy of sorts regarding her famed Cliff blood (which is the basis of the vaccination against the Red Fever) and why she's perhaps the reason her family is being elevated from being just one of the gentry to being one of the nobles. It's all interesting, and while you're reading it, it's amusing, but...as I've said, it's biographical. Therefore, at the end of it, the major characters didn't get as large a role as you'd want, and some not as important people who tried to take center stage limp away into the sunset. I guess that comprises the majority of my beef. I wish more historical fantasy fiction read like this, I do, but I also wish that the entire book had been more tightly told. That is, I think Jame Field was unnecessary to the book. He was to the book what a houseplant is to a farmer. Another handsome face that was ultimately paint on the wall. What I did wish for was more Osprey. Adrew Osprey, Lord of the North, to be more specific. The man leaped out from the first page he appeared and then disappeared until halfway into the book. He stood out in every scene he was in (probably because of the lack of those scenes) and he took center stage because of his unknowing role in Megere's dislike of him. And then, at 95% of the book, suddenly the readers are to believe in this HEA? It was...a bit too sudden. Girl needs a couple of drinks first, a few laughs, before she can be talked into marriage. Thusly 3 stars instead of 4. I still recommend it....more
No, that wasn't a typo. Jenna (our erstwhile Jane Eyre) is given a recording device much like a diary, and she occasionally adWell, Reeder, I read it.
No, that wasn't a typo. Jenna (our erstwhile Jane Eyre) is given a recording device much like a diary, and she occasionally addresses it as "Reeder" (instead of Reader, har har).
The ratings are pretty low for this book, considering the author, and it's a bit sad. Some reviewers said that the author read Jane Eyre and really, really liked it. Yes, she must have, considering the amount of work she put into this story. I used to read Jane Eyre every year almost religiously, and although I haven't read it in a couple of years, I can tell you that pretty much every single scene in Jane Eyre is lifted and revitalized in this book, aside from John Reed's sisters (who have disappeared), and the dreams of ruin and devastation just before Jane's wedding, and Bertha Mason's crazed slashing of her wedding dress. Sharon Shinn put an incredible amount of work into placing all of Jane Eyre into a futuristic era, complete with space shuttles, cryosleep, and cyborgs. That's pretty amazing in and of itself. She even translated Jane's morality and faith in God into faith in the Goddess and Jane's Christian belief in equality into belief of the Pan-Equists. Jane's first intriguing conversation with Mr. Rochester in the parlor at Thornfield -- this conversation is intriguing because of the time period and place. The book is filled with different barriers, that of age, of class, of gender, of formality -- for Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre, of different situations in life, not to mention as employee and employer, to have a quirky first conversation with that initial spark -- it's no wonder that Mr. Rochester suddenly had his eye on the very plain Jane Eyre. Sharon Shinn replicated this feeling with remarkable accuracy.
In fact, what Sharon Shinn was able to emphasize was the degrading thing that Mr. Rochester was about to perpetrate on Jane -- this which is almost left out of the original book, simply because the gothic overtones overwhelmed the entire book. Here, Everett's actions were seen for what they really were - selfishness. Yes, he may have loved Jenna, but there's no doubting that he was a purely selfish, grasping person who did not deserve Jenna yet. Because, honestly, if Mr. Rochester was already married, and he was truly looking for a meeting of the minds in a bigamist marriage, then what was he doing encouraging Blanche Ingram? Seriously, if not for the ending, Mr. Rochester would be another lowest of the low scumbag.
The wonder of this book was that set in a different time period, a different planet, you can see the characters and the situation for what it really was -- Jenna, a half-cit harvested from gen-labs, and Everett, a first-class citizen, and yet, both of their situations were from circumstances neither could control. Did I find Jenna a bit more uptight and annoying than I found Jane Eyre? Yes, but I put that down to the change in time periods. Did I also find Everett less attractive than Mr. Rochester? Yes, and I found his difficulties in not marrying Jenna less compelling and more selfish as well. Someone noted that given the futuristic setting, life should not be as lonely and segregated, and yet there maintained still a very lonely, unpopulated feel. I suppose, if infinity's the limit, then that could prove lonely as well.
What made Jane Eyre into the romantic tale that it was was Mr. Rochester's frantic, pathetic grovel at the end -- this which was somewhat glossed over in the book. And that, I thought detracted from making this book an almost perfect adaptation of the original, the fact that things seemed to be glossed over from when she returns to Fieldstar after running away and inheriting a bundle of money that she shares with her newfound "relatives" -- also a very cunning twist. All in all, even if the book didn't engage me as thoroughly as did the original, I have to give this book high marks for being the first adaptation to mimick the ideas, culture, and relationships of the original so closely. Have you read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? I have, and there were not nearly enough zombies to make the book an interesting endeavor or echo the sentiment without being an almost verbatim copy. This book, while it took itself a bit more seriously, was the better effort....more
Despite that very risque cover (I had to look twice to make sure his hand wasn't just covering up the midsection of a dress), this book was incrediblyDespite that very risque cover (I had to look twice to make sure his hand wasn't just covering up the midsection of a dress), this book was incredibly tame. There's a good reason that HP readers get all dreamy about Lynne Graham's heroes, who are, without exception, all insanely crazy in love with the heroine. There's also a reason that I've never heard anyone wax lyrical about Sandra Field's leading men: they're pretty useless in the romance department.
Cue the story. Sandra Field has her stories set all over the world, such as "The Land of Maybe," which is set on the Faroes Isles. Pretty darn cool. This one takes place aboard a charter sailboat, and the heroine is no stranger to sailing, and the terms ring true. Lucy also has a compelling reason for wanting to sail with Troy Donovan. She sees an employment ad requesting cook/crew member and jumps at the chance. It's no wonder she does so, because her last job opp in this same place has gone up in smoke when her employer turns out to be some sexually-molesting violent mafia-seeming creep. She sees Troy Donovan, who, besides his extremely masculine hero-man name, is also a sex god of tall and blond proportions. They have cute banter; he warns her off having designs on him; she returns with some shots of her own. The book is off to a good start.
And then the book fizzles. Because like all other Sandra Field books, the hero is determinedly (or just plain) not interested in the heroine. I found myself frowning and thinking, "If this guy were a girl, the guy would definitely be calling her a tease and a slut." Because this guy makes hot eyes at her and then determinedly says NO! to having an affair. Because this guy kisses her hotly and then determinedly says NO! to having an affair. Because this guy rubs her up hotly in her blankets and then leaves her determinedly, having said NO! to having an affair. Seriously, the girl is not even asking for a commitment. She just didn't want to be kicked off the boat and wouldn't mind some extra kissy-face-time with him. Plus, he turns hot and cold with incredible (and unattractive) moodiness. Good grief, dude, she's doing you a freaking favor, working hard as blazes and cooking up a storm.
(That was another thing. She was able to suddenly start preparing haute cuisine (like four course meals) having watched her mother entertain dinner guests 10 years ago? That seems...odd. She suddenly was churning out incredible pastries and breads and desserts in this tiny (I'm assuming) galley of a kitchen after two days of shopping when I've had to run out to the store because the recipe called for one ingredient instead of another? Stretching it just a tad. Yes, you can cook by following a recipe, but how many recipes could you follow to the letter without doing substitutions, halving the recipe without sometimes disastrous results, or adjusting for variations in oven temperature or even pan differences? Come ON!)
Unicorn Bait was so incredibly delightful that I read it three times in as many months, and Scary Mary was also quite good. Not as cute and delightfulUnicorn Bait was so incredibly delightful that I read it three times in as many months, and Scary Mary was also quite good. Not as cute and delightful, but very lovable in its own right. However, as a follow-up to Scary Mary, I thought this one wasn't that well done. I guess the whole thing with Cyrus really irritated me. We were set up in the first book to like him, and readers cannot be that fickle with characters that attracted us. And then it turns out that Cyrus is a big @$$ and we are supposed to like his brother, who was a huge jerk (and one that hits girls, even though under influence of ghost-possession, but still)? Eh. ...more