It is a bit terrible that Mary Balogh is such a prolific writer in a genre that I enjoy so much (traditional Regency) and one which is not done that mIt is a bit terrible that Mary Balogh is such a prolific writer in a genre that I enjoy so much (traditional Regency) and one which is not done that much anymore, but I can't give her very high ratings.
This one I enjoyed a bit more just because the main girl was kind of a departure from other books, being really chatty. Kind of dumb chatty, tbh, except when it came to the guy, with whom she was really self-conscious, being all handsome and suave and fashionable and perfect. He starts falling for her, well, because she made it her duty to be everything he wanted and more. She was seriously OBEDIENT in every sense of the word, even after the sticking point, which was when they had a falling out over him keeping a mistress. She resolved to still accept him in her bed to create heirs, of course. Therefore, I can't say as to I approve of this theme in a genre targeted towards females. Surely we should encourage girls to not be such pushovers. But it made for a change.
This one was slightly better than some of the others of hers I've read, but of course, there's cheating and annoying side characters (Mary Balogh seems to specialize in annoying side characters. It's like she tries to give them a different character and ends up making them annoying instead). Mary Balogh is clearly a good writer, she comes up with different scenarios, different main characters, and is massively prolific. Her idea of "love" is different in every book, which is, well, sort of interesting in and of itself. But they generally are not incredibly fun and enjoyable for me. I think it might be because she writes with really in-depth description of emotions that's just...drama overload. Pages and pages of motivation and feelings of the female character. How she's into the guy and yet can't stop herself from doing whatever irrational thing she wants to do, etc. It's just...let's get the show on the road, please. ...more
Well, this was not a terrible read. The first part of the book was definitely better than the second part. I enjoyed the background, the slight eerieWell, this was not a terrible read. The first part of the book was definitely better than the second part. I enjoyed the background, the slight eerie mystery behind her landing on a weird moon and being closely followed by explorer aliens. As some reviewers had stated, the science element was decent.
Then there was a weird plot once she got on the Grih's explorer ship, with some people from the Alliance coming to check out her, this weird alien species they've never seen before, some other aliens trying to kill her. I appreciated all the mystery subplot, and how she was trying to free the AI from being exploited, but I felt all the different species were very...earthlike...in their emotions and motivations. It was all very much greed, ambition, even capitalism.
And as for Sazo, the scary-ass AI that was hailed at the beginning as a serial murderer, his genocide of the entire Tecran spaceship of 300-400 Tecrans was completely wiped off the slate. How is that even condoned? He was then treated, instead of a hyper-intelligent "being," as a pet of Rose's. Well. That's not too far off the charts, because, frankly, he displayed as much intelligence as a pet. Being an AI with endless possibilities could have ended with him doing some majorly awesome things, you know, beyond being able to maneuver a Class 5 battleship, which presumably he's been doing since he was created. But, beyond that, he had no other capabilities. He sulked a lot. He did sighing noises like humans did. He asked Rose and Dav a lot of questions. Questions about what he was supposed to do, as opposed to, you know, working it out by calculating possibilities.
It was well-written, despite multiple editing errors (it's instead of its...twice!) and as a genre debut from a historical author, I'll bump the rating up a bit despite the contrived second half. I'm not convinced as to the sex. I don't know about you, but if I were captured by an alien species, I'm not convinced as to sexual compatibility, not even if someone were to show me charts and graphs. I mean. That's why it's called alien. You know, the unknown? How would they possibly know of genetic or bacterial compatibility, having never encountered an earthling before? But, right. It's a scifi romance. So, I'll give that a break....more
The moment I started this book, I realized that I had read it before, and completely forgotten the plot. Thus I read this book with a grim foreboding.The moment I started this book, I realized that I had read it before, and completely forgotten the plot. Thus I read this book with a grim foreboding.
And yet, it was not terrible. Rutherford (the earl) first meets Jess (the governess) when he is ordered by his grandmother to check out a potential wife but because the potential wife was such an unattractive terror, he is soon checking out Jess, who's head to toe dressed in gray drabness. Except when she goes to the library in the middle of the night, barefoot, dressed only in her nightie and a shawl, hair loose and rippling down her back. Well, the earl just cannot take it and propositions the girl.
(Right at this point, I'm disliking the earl already, but Mary Balogh has always put in sexual tension right at the start of the book, so it's no surprise.)
She says no (even though deep in her heart, she wanted to. Again, a trope often used by Mary Balogh) but is dismissed by her employer for trying to entice a potential suitor. They meet up again at an inn two days later, and again, the earl propositions Jess. She says yes, and they are in his room. Clothing has all come off. Things are heating up. It's inevitable, what's about to occur, the losing of her maidenly virtue that she's kept intact for 24 years due to being a clergyman's daughter. Then...she says no. I mean, this is literally at the point where the bread is about to be put in the oven, and the oven door is wide open. It is that close to the sticking point.
Fine. He summons his every nerve and takes it as a man (at which point you like him slightly more). Then, he offers to take her to someone (his grandmother) who can find a better position for her, better than his mistress.
So, she accepts this proposition and turns up at his grandmother's house and is recognized as the dowager duchess' former bosom bow's granddaughter, lo and behold, the granddaughter of a marquess. On the mother's side, of course, being an impoverished parson's daughter on the other side. The dowager decides to take her in, seeing interest in her bachelor grandson's eyes. Soon, she is being introduced to everyone in the small Season.
The earl is not pleased and thinks that Jess is overstepping herself. He propositions her again to be his mistress and warns her not to be involved in any deception or scheme. She refuses him. Again. But by this time, you get that she's a marquess's granddaughter, and so such an action is reasonable. [OR IS IT?? Note that she had taken all her clothes off and had verbally agreed to be his mistress before reneging at the inn.]
He decides, fine, everyone approves of her, he'll have her, by marriage or whatever it takes. He proposes, with a veneer of arrogance. She refuses.
By this time, the earl is super obsessed and then decides to find out about Jess. He then tracks down her grandfather the marquess and brings him to the family gathering to which Jess is also invited. He then proposes to Jess again. Formally. She refuses. Of course. Insulting him and saying how she needs a man to be in love with her.
At which time, the book should have ended. Finis. But no, the characters have established themselves in a weird cycle of irrational actions, and so they continued. He decides that although he's never declared himself in love with her (even though she has already stated this is what she requires) and although he loved her soooooooooo much, he could not force himself on her and would take himself off so that she could live happily ever after without seeing him. She, on the other hand, decides to run off, because she was in love with him and could not marry him and not have him love her. That would make sense (not marrying him) but not the running off part.
Luckily the only sane person in the book, the Dowager steps in and tells the earl that she was running off because he had told Jess that she would be ruined and wouldn't be able to marry in polite society (did he do that??) So then the earl goes after Jess, who has already made her way north to find a job as a governess and be a lowly servant once again even though she hated that job. He finds her in an inn and they talk and he confesses his love for her. She then asks him to make love to her. Because this time was out of her free will.
WTH????? To say that she was TSTL is to insult people who have died. She was not only TSTL but TST be tortured and ground into powder. So, she refused him the first two times out of moral reasons, refused him a third time because she had sort of risen in the world by then. Refused his proposal the fourth time because he was arrogant. Refused his fifth proposal because she loved him. Then on the sixth time, rather than waiting for marriage (which was, well, her moral upbringing and the reasons 1st and 2nd), she decides to shebang him? WTH???
And this guy, rather than turning less arrogant and becoming a man of sense, decides to be led by her ridiculous reasonings?
As for the side romance of the earl's sister Hope and Sir Godfrey. Well, that was beyond irritating as well. Hope put herself down every chance she got by saying, "Oh, no one wants to spend time with ME." Seriously. This was in every scene she appeared.
Ah, that's why I had forgotten I had read this book twice before. But now I'm writing this review so I won't accidentally read it a fourth time....more
I went into this with an open mind, having been recommended other books by a subscriber that I thought were decent. And despite haOh, beyond terrible.
I went into this with an open mind, having been recommended other books by a subscriber that I thought were decent. And despite having tried different new Harlequin authors, I've always been disappointed. So, when I saw that this was a "favorite of the newer authors," I was quite excited.
(1) Newer Harlequin authors have no idea how to do the professional segue that older authors do and with aplomb. Older authors are able to segue a span of 2 years in a matter of paragraphs, beautifully too.
(2) Newer Harlequin authors overload on trite, cliched adjectives and adverbs. Do I really need to know, multiple times, of his masculine charms, his masculine manhood, his masculine magnetism? Can we please, PLEASE find another adjective?? Anything. Then, there's the word, "achingly." If I never see this word again in romance novels, I will die a happy woman. I hate that word with a passion.
Then, there's the overuse of "gasping" for the woman. Geez louise, can anyone tell me who gasps after high school? I don't mean gasping for air after one has nearly drowned, or had a fainting spell. That's understandable. I'm talking about when one hears something mildly surprising. The grandfather said something rude to Sebastien. She GASPS in shock. Seriously? The grandfather has always been rude. Is that REALLY so surprising? Really? REALLY? When the heroine gasps three times in the first chapter, I know whose side I'm rooting for. (The grandfather. Who has evil plans for the heroine.) She gasps in pain. A surprised gasp. A shocked gasp. She was LITERALLY gasping All The Time.
(3) Overuse of italics. Have these authors never read Anne of Green Gables? That is, beyond the first book. Do they not know that overusing italics is the sign of an immature writer? (Yes, I used it in the previous point, but only as a segue, thank you for noticing.) This writer just would not stop with the damn italics.
------------------------------ The kiss had wakened something in her. Taken her by storm. Changed her.
Suddenly she was aware of him as a man. And for the first time in her life she was aware of herself as a woman.
Like a rabbit in a trap, she stared at him. -----------------------------
Ladies and gentlemen, please tell me you saw the number of trite cliches in that above example. The three phrases most used to describe first kisses, the third being italicized. The fact that she was now a woman, again, italicized. And then, the ever so trite simile of being compared to a scared prey.
It went beyond this. Everyone spoke in random italics in the book. "It's huge," she would say. She had to concentrate. Her repeating what he just said in her mind, in...you guessed it, ITALICS.
---------------------------- If she didn't look, she wouldn't feel. Wouldn't want.
...at that point she closed her eyes, just knowing [yadda yadda] ----------------------------
All right, you say to yourself. Maybe she's a damn teenybopper, being only 22. Nope. Not the case. The hero also spoke in italics too. Just random words in the sentence. Within the same page. Words that weren't even emphasized ironically or mockingly. Just because they all spoke like that. Annoyingly.
Pro Let's also put on the record that in this day and age, it's not easy to contrive a good marriage of convenience, blackmailed situation in which the girl cannot, for a good reason, reveal. This book came as close as possible to that ideal. The girl needs an operation for her mother, which she can't afford, despite having three jobs, and goes to her evil grandfather who is rich but has disowned all of them for being, blast it, English of all things. He contrives it so she will be a tool of his revenge on the family that killed his son. The heroine will marry Sebastien, who will, in turn, get back the company that the grandfather once took from Sebastien's family. The heroine can't reveal how estranged she actually is from the grandfather or else Sebastien will figure it out and back out of the deal. If he backs out of the deal, she doesn't get the money that Sebastien gives her on a monthly basis. Oh yeah, and she's barren because the accident when she was a kid damaged her lady parts somehow, and that's going to be the basis of the revenge. To ensure Sebastien's line doesn't continue.
THE CONS What in the name of all that's holy happened after this setup? The heroine goes from a brave but desperate girl (that I thought was maybe mid-twenties) to being the dumbest, giggliest, gaspiest girl in the world. Suddenly she had a piano scholarship to boarding school because she was a musical prodigy? And she was able to go on to college? Supporting her mother who has been ill/handicapped/something never specified and really needed to be? And she was able to finish college working two jobs as a waitress and playing piano in a bar? Seriously? Dude, if she were such a musical prodigy AND ABLE TO GO TO COLLEGE DESPITE THEIR FAMILY BEING SO DESTITUTE, she really should have worked harder and gotten an actual job teaching piano, maybe. Which actually makes more than waitressing, if one is so gifted. But, right, I forgot she was a dumb idiot. Oh, and she never bought a single piece of clothing in her life? REALLY? Being 22 and having a virtually bedridden mother, she NEVER bought a piece of clothing in her life? How would that be possible, unless she just wore the same thing since the accident that scarred herself and her mom and killed her father?
Another thing. This 22yo chicky with glossy long blond hair, killer legs, and ginormous boobs...apparently never had a man be interested in her? HOW? HOW? I know for a fact that guys will try to chat up a girl even if she has no makeup on and is wearing a bag. A blond, boobular waitress? NEVER had a guy express interest in her? Even blind guys chat girls up!
And was the damn accident when she was 6 or 7? At the beginning of the book, it was when she was 6. Then it miraculously went to being 7. I'll let that go as being a product of bad editing.
I am conflicted as to how to rate this book. I picked it up multiple times to try to read it and only recently was I able to finish the book. AsHmm..
I am conflicted as to how to rate this book. I picked it up multiple times to try to read it and only recently was I able to finish the book. As soon as I had gotten started, I was hooked. The world of this book was, as one reviewer noted on Wikipedia, "not meaty but creative." Nine types of songs and singers! A different skill for each song! One song is silent! The types of singers/songs are given fairly early on; note to readers: bookmark that page.
Calwyn lives high in the icy mountains in a snowy convent filled with singers of ice (meaning she can create ice from singing). She meets Darrow, a singer of iron (but also of earth?), who can make things fly (hmm...that's a bit weird, but I went along with it). The beginning of the book, how Calwyn learns of the different songs and her friendship with the injured-and-doomed-to-be-sacrificed Darrow is excellent. In fact, the first half of the book was riveting! I simultaneously read and searched for spoilers for fear of becoming overexcited! Yes, I read the wikipedia blurb on this book while I was reading it, which ruined it not at all for me.
Calwyn has a plan to defeat Darrow's nemesis/childhood friend (Samis) who has been thwarted in his rise to throne by his father the Emperor picking another son to be heir. As he was rather talented in iron-chanting, he decided he could pick up other chantments as well, and so become "singer of all songs" and take over the world (a planet called Tremaris). It's a race to the finish line as Calwyn comes up with a plan to collect different "singers" and have a sing-down with Samis. It took me a while to realize that this was what was happening because Darrow, Mr. Sulky, pooh-poohed Calwyn's idea in lieu of frowning and moping. After Trout (from the land of fire, chantments that have been totally lost) and Mica (wind-singer), the story sort of went downhill. They keep on sailing and find Halasaa, a Tree-person who has the song of "Becoming" (healing), and somehow he can communicate with the prehistoric dinosaur birds (song of beasts)?? The Becoming song is completely silent so he telepathically talks to all of them?? And then he is hinted at being Calwyn's brother?????????????? And the Tree People didn't like Calwyn + company landing in their midst, so then Halasaa travels with them to their destination?? (Halasaa coming with them was a huge stretch to me, unlike Trout and Mica's tagging along for the ride.)
Then Samis tells them that the singer of all songs doesn't need to sing all the songs but request such songs be sung. Okay, I get that. But then we're all counting down the songs being sung, and Tonno seeing his brother in the forest is...Samis singing the Seeming (taking on another's appearance) or who was it floating through the forest as Tonno's brother? Samis blowing on the trumpet of song of fire...is him learning/having the power of this song (so, if you got an instrument of chantment, that works too????)? And...what did Halasaa do? And where did the Song of Beasts come into play? What? And how did Samis even die? Was it because of Calwyn singing the ice-song or Trout not being able to hear any songs (being partially deaf and perhaps blind as well) and aiming a rock at the floating magical orb?? What?? WTH just happened???
Yes, the ending was a giant question mark for me. It felt rushed as though the writer ran out of momentum and decided to end the book quickly. And suddenly Darrow, who's spent the entirety of the book sulking and not talking to people, is enamored of Calwyn and wants a future with her? What? (I get Calwyn having a crush on him. C'mon, the girl lived in a convent up in the mountains and was instrumental in saving this foreign-looking youngish brooding guy. If she didn't have a crush on him, that'd be weird.)
I am giving this book 3 stars and not 2, just because the idea was pretty awesome and the first half of the book was captivating and fast-paced. The second half, as some reviewers noted, suddenly took place in a dystopic abandoned high-tech city. Oh yes, the fact that they're on a planet called Tremaris could also have been made a lot clearer earlier on....more
I'm not one for high fantasy and epic tales anymore, but I found myself reading this book in a day. It's easy reading and I found the author's tale abI'm not one for high fantasy and epic tales anymore, but I found myself reading this book in a day. It's easy reading and I found the author's tale absorbing, despite the fact that I feel that the blurb is slightly misleading. The blurb states that Rosie is captured by the dragon, yadda yadda, but this event happens more than halfway into the book.
I would characterize this story as more of a coming of age story of a pampered, lonely princess fueled by her mother's ambition. It's completely told from Rosie's point of view, and I thought the author's treatment of the Queen (Rosie's mother) is singularly well done. You saw the Queen at first as a mother with a spine of iron, who nonetheless inspires devotion from her people, love from her husband the king, and loves her daughter (but does not spoil her). This is borne out by the first scene, in which they are closeted in the Queen's room for a weekly meeting to chisel Rosie's dragon claw down.
There's a mystery of sorts, as Rosie grows from 14 (as she is at the start of the book) to 16, as she sees more and more of her mother's ambition for her, which was also at the beginning her own ambition -- to defeat the usurper Stephen and wed Prince Henry. It's not surprising this was her ambition, as her mother sung songs and wove tapestries to gift Rosie about her becoming the Queen to free Wilde island and rule over England. At the beginning, she's told all sorts of things of her birth, how the finger bone of a saint allowed her to be conceived, etc. How the two women planned and devoted their lives to finding ways to charm her finger back to a normal finger. How her mother had donned gold gloves the day she was born so that she could always hide her finger, and how this trend became a symbol of chastity for highborn ladies.
But bit by bit, Rosie has to come to face the extent of her mother's mad ambition and resolve to achieve Rosie's destiny, not the least of which culminated in several calculated murders of people who learn by mistake of Rosie's claw-finger.
As for the romance, I know a number of reviewers disliked the "insta-love" of Rosie for Kye, the dragonslayer. In this case, I wouldn't quite characterize it as insta-love, (1) because Rosie doesn't rave on and on about how she loved him and how wonderful and handsome he is, (2) this girl has never had a friend in her entire life, nor is she surrounded by a bevy of handsome eligible men. As the envoy's son from Queen Mathilda, Kye is the first young man around her age to enter into her world, in a singularly dashing fashion (hailed as the brave dragonslayer) and it just so happens he has blue eyes and is quite chivalrous and friendly with her. It wouldn't take a Twilighty chick to withstand those epic charms. (Yes, Rosie has her friend, Kit, but that friend was won through hard work, and she had that friend less than two years before she had to be sent away for fear that her mother would kill Kit. So. Lonely girl with a secret deformity. Not in the realms of impossibility.)
I do agree that the ending is a bit pat, but all in all, it's a lovely book. I would recommend it for those who enjoyed Seraphina. ...more
I'm tagging this book as travel because, despite how this book was blurbed, it's written as a travel journal, long (tedious) descriptions of travelingI'm tagging this book as travel because, despite how this book was blurbed, it's written as a travel journal, long (tedious) descriptions of traveling across the countryside leaving me wishing he could just cut to the chase. It's written as an expose, but a lot of his generalizations and comments come off offensive to his newfound home. Isn't it possible to be insightful and polite? The author is no anthropologist (or diplomat) and his tone is sneering at times. While the subject matter is interesting, I'm left wishing someone else had chosen to write this book....more
At 65% of the book, I was expecting the author to tell me some of his own findings and theories on teaching kids character as he had promised early onAt 65% of the book, I was expecting the author to tell me some of his own findings and theories on teaching kids character as he had promised early on in the book, and found the book had finished, and I was looking at the references and notes section.
The best thing about this book is all of the excellent references, data, and experiments mentioned. I'll probably go and read those books next. As far as drawing his own conclusions about all of these notes, the author was quite stingy. And since "curiosity" was mentioned in the title, I fully expected an entire section on that. Instead, we are treated to a quarter of the book on chess. As some other reviewers noted, we are given info as to the improvement of the prospects of inner-city kids, and some only tantalizing glimpses of how success is measured by finishing college. What about after that? What about all the kids who finish college and can't hold down a job? The author doesn't discuss this at all, disappointingly.
Funnest nonfiction I've read this year so far, probably because this book ties in many health aspects of estrogen, breast health, fake boobs, breastfeFunnest nonfiction I've read this year so far, probably because this book ties in many health aspects of estrogen, breast health, fake boobs, breastfeeding, etc. into one book and presented her facts with a good dollop of humor. Must-read for any woman who's even thought about breast cancer or breast enhancement for that matter.
**edit** Thought about it a bit more and I have an issue with a contradiction not properly addressed in the book. The theory behind breast cancer is earlier puberty in females and a longer period before first pregnancy. And the theory behind puberty is this: girls growing up in single-parent households reach puberty earlier -- why? because of limited resources and accompanying stress, the girls are forced to grow up earlier to fend for themselves, so to speak.
On the other hand, girls eating more protein also reach puberty earlier. This is likened to lions in the wild -- these predators, if growing up in a season of abundant game, are more likely to reach sexual maturity faster. The reason is because of excellent resources, providing them with the ability to mature faster.
Wait. Doesn't that contradict with the previous theory, that being limited resources (single income household, presumably less money for food) + accompanying stress leading to earlier puberty? That means overabundant resources AND insufficient resources BOTH lead to earlier puberty, and thus to cancer.
The ayes have it. We have no theory behind the cause of breast cancer in women.
[Will not change my rating just because I still thoroughly enjoyed the book and the author's personality.]...more
Book explores the high school education of three countries that has done exceptionally well in PISA (Finland) or have risen quickly in a short amountBook explores the high school education of three countries that has done exceptionally well in PISA (Finland) or have risen quickly in a short amount of time (Poland and Korea). Three exchange students from the US from varying backgrounds are tracked through their time abroad in these three countries. Although the author never states explicitly, one student is from a poor background, one from a well-off family, and one who has done exceptionally well in school.
The author spends a large amount of time criticizing anything American-related, which, I grant, may be warranted, but the author sounded so angry. Surely it wasn't necessary to be so angry in discussing how Finland has the ultimate in promoting exceptionally gifted teachers that are put through rigorous testing and training. Poland, on the other hand, never praises its students and students all fail in a no-curve educational environment. Korea, in the tradition of concentration camp styled Asian schools, put students through a 15-hour school day.
Appendix in choosing the right school is useful....more
Interesting because of the data presented within the book. Writing style is colloquial and stream-of-consciousness, not factual and presented in a theInteresting because of the data presented within the book. Writing style is colloquial and stream-of-consciousness, not factual and presented in a thesis.
The most interesting theory presented in the book was that relating to bisexualism, which is an interesting phenomenon. From data gathered through OKCupid, Rudder posits that people who identify themselves as bisexual usually are visually attracted to the opposite gender, but sexually attracted to their own gender. In other words, bisexual people are actually homosexual people who may get turned on viewing heterosexual behavior. But that makes sense as well, because I can see how a heterosexual female would get turned on seeing another girl in play, even if this person were not into girl-on-girl action, because part of pornography is tied into vicarious role-play....more