I read it three years ago, and what I remember now is that I liked the cover art more than the story. It was a good story, but it didn't work for me a...moreI read it three years ago, and what I remember now is that I liked the cover art more than the story. It was a good story, but it didn't work for me at all. Probably because I was not a young adult. (less)
I am slightly embarrassed, because I liked it. Anyway, I am not blind, and the book is far from perfect. The most glaring flaw – POV is jumping betwee...moreI am slightly embarrassed, because I liked it. Anyway, I am not blind, and the book is far from perfect. The most glaring flaw – POV is jumping between characters sometimes several times in the same scene – which is very annoying, even if I wasn’t trained by now to pick it up. Occasionally I had to come back and read a sentence again to figure out whose POV it is now. You get the picture. Then, the author occasionally goes overboard with descriptions and expositions, but I have to note, that it is not jarring most of the times.
Then, the situation is ridiculous and unbelievable. But, here goes praise: once I turned on me suspension of disbelief and dived into the story, I stopped caring about it. Because here goes what Amanda Brown did well. She wrote characters I liked and cared about – even if they started rather stereotyped. She dropped these characters into improbable situation and let them find their way in it. And it was nice. I loved that protagonists didn’t have a great physical attraction form the first sight, that they didn’t think about it at all, but made each other laugh and learn, and shared a companionship instead. And here is another thing I love: I think that the author has a talent for irony, and generally a god eye for funny. She mocks villains and secondary characters, and settings, and conventions, but she also mocks her protagonists without making them unsympathetic. That was what I loved in her first book, “Legally Blonde”. It is more ironic, and less fluffy and victorious than the movie, but the way the author pokes fun at Elle Woods, while sympathizing with her, is very dear to me. (less)
I have very mixed feelings about it. It is the type of quirky fantasy with a bit of romance that I should fall in love with. I didn't, and I feel unco...moreI have very mixed feelings about it. It is the type of quirky fantasy with a bit of romance that I should fall in love with. I didn't, and I feel uncomfortable about it, as it failed me even though it didn't owe me anything, but I am still annoyed.
1)a strong sense of deja-vu made me realize that the heroine, Alexia, is a brain twin of Amelia Peabody (of Elizabeth Peters' Egyptology mysteries.) The Britishness, the proud spinsterhood (that don't survive the end of the first book), the sharp mind, the assertiveness, the lack of conventional beauty... I adore Amelia Peabody and her husband Emerson, but I am not sure how many of her I need for my enjoyment. It has just occurred to me that both Amelia Peabody and Alexia are literary descendants of brilliant Marian Halcombe of Woman in White. Now, that's one lady whose adventures I'd love to follow...
Alexia and Lord Maccon work together as a romantic pair, but they felt to me kind of “meh”. They are probably the homage to Peabody and Emerson, but I feel that they are clones, and I'd rather re-read “Crocodile on the Sandbank” by Elizabeth Peters in the fifth time.
2)My major gripe is with the soul stuff. The book is called “Soulless”, and I kind of expected more exploration of the matter. What is the soul, what does it mean in that Universe? It is said that Alexia doesn't have a soul, which she was told at 6, and she read Greek philosophers to acquaint herself with the moral implications of that fact. But the thing is – it all falls empty, a tantalizing promise that never gets fulfilled. Alexia has a pronounced effect on supernatural beings, an effect that is attributed to her lack of soul. Except this is the only effect, and I reasonably suspect that either the soul here is something different from I am used to consider it, or the basic theories of her world are wrong, and Alexia does indeed have a soul, and her soulless effect is caused by something else. It might be explored further in the next books, but I was waiting for more soul stuff from the book that is called Soulless. After all, it would have been interesting whether good manners can be a person's moral compass. How love would look like without the soul in that world? What is the soul, anyway? Those are all questions I asked myself when I picked up the book, but I didn't find them – not even the questions themselves there.
3)Reading went much slower than I expected, and at the culmination I was frankly bored. Not a good sign.
4)I love omnipresent point of view and the narrator's voice separate from the author and the characters, being reasonably old-fashioned and raised on 18-19 century novels. I applaud the return of the narrator to modern stories, even if it is done to simulate the old time feel. But. But there is one giant difficulty: I need to love that narrator and don't want to smack it. Here so far it feels too twee, and I mostly grow annoyed. I still hope to befriend it as soon as I get used to the tone.
5)What did I like? I liked the world, the atmosphere, the new and different take on vampires and werewolves, and their effect on human history and politics. I liked the scientific ideas of the supernatural. The world, of course, pretty much didn't exist beyond British Isles and North America, but that goes with the mores of the time, and a topic for the following books, anyway. I wrote previously that I was tired of vampires, and I still am, but I wasn't here. The ecology of supernatural beings among humans was very different and very interesting from what we are used to.
So, when all is said and done, my resume is that it is why it fails for me personally, I can recommend it for my friends, or for any lover of romance and Victorian fantasy. I won't guaranteed that you fall in love with it – I didn't, but it is a glimpse into a curious world. I will be checking out the second book as soon as I dog through my immediate to-read pile.
It is a very pleasant book, but I seem to have no luck with Robin McKinley's books, no matter how many times they are recommended to me. I want to lov...moreIt is a very pleasant book, but I seem to have no luck with Robin McKinley's books, no matter how many times they are recommended to me. I want to love them, I try to love them, but I cannot get more than a lukewarm like. They are beautiful, masterful stories with interesting characters - why can't I love them? Should I try harder? (less)
So we meet a girl on brink of an adult life, who suddenly learns that she possesses unique strength and skills – and a destiny t...moreI do not regret it. :)
So we meet a girl on brink of an adult life, who suddenly learns that she possesses unique strength and skills – and a destiny to kill vampires. She doesn’t mind killing vampires, but she would rather have a normal life – with balls and entertainments, beautiful gowns and dances, and with handsome men who would want to marry her. Sound familiar? Duh!
She is not the Vampire Slayer, she is the Venator, and she is not the chosen one, though she has the potential to be the best. Her name is Victoria, and she lives in Regency London.
I have to admit, the first pages were like an old game of “find 10 differences in these pictures”. After a while, the story found its stride and sucked me in with its setting and the characters and the mythology.
The setting is so familiar and comfortable for us Regency epoch. Vampires don’t seem to be out of place there, but it is amusing to see how the presence of vampires influences a typical Regency romance. Apparently, it is much harder to hide a stake in a empire dress, and big purses are not yet in fashion, so our heroine has several stakes in different colours that her maid hides in a fancy hairdo. I think it was the blue-colored staked that won me over.
The characters grew on me fast enough – Victoria, her grandmother Eustasia, Marchess Rockley, maid Verbena, gloomy Italian guy Max, mysterious guy Sebastian…
Rockley is that perfect Regency hero that we are used to seeing as the ultimate reward for the heroine. And he really is that good. He is handsome and rich, and brave and generous in spirit… However, he has all the historically appropriate values. How would he react to his chosen bride hunting vampires at night? Hmmm….
Victoria herself is just a product of her time, yet she takes everything that happens to her in the stride. Well, more or less. She is brave, stubborn, reckless, smart, she makes mistakes and learns from them. And she really enjoys dancing.
One more thing I liked about this story is the vampire mythology. Let’s face it, Buffyverse mythology has more holes in it I can count, which I all forgive, because the story works for me on emotional and metaphorical level. This story has much less holes in it. It’s vampire myth is based on some Christian apocrypha, on the legends of Judas, and in this context vampires’ dislike of Christian symbols actually makes sense.
Another thing I liked that Victoria’s strength is a part of a legacy, and as such is in her blood. But when handed this destiny she still can refuse to follow it and forget all about vampires. On the other hand, one can be unrelated by blood, and still to choose the destiny of a Venator.(less)
I was longing for something light, fluffy and cheesy, so I got myself Insatiable by Meg Cabot. Happily, I was able to get it from the library - imagin...moreI was longing for something light, fluffy and cheesy, so I got myself Insatiable by Meg Cabot. Happily, I was able to get it from the library - imagine that, only a month after release!
Anyways, it is all that promised - light, fluffy and cheesy. Except I couldn’t read it - I am so over vampire romances. (Yes, Whedon’s vampires are a huge exception to me.) I liked the beginning when it seemed more of a quasi-vampire story, but as soon as love started I got bored. So I jumped ahead, and well, there are really good pieces there, but also there are quite a lot of vampires. And I am just that tired of them and their problems. (I LOVED reading everything about vampires when I was a teenager - duh! ) One thing that I really loved was the notion that a vampire always want to kill you dead - especially when they love you. And being dead sucks. Out of all the characters I now remember - and therefore think it was the most interesting character - the vampire hunter. He is a good guy, but annoying and psychotic, and you enjoy seeing him suffer, even though you want his side to win. About the girl of the book, I cannot say anything at all. Except that she has a healthy disgust for vampires until she meets the best of them. And her head is a mess. Which makes her super-special.
No, it is a good summer read. Two weeks after returning it to the library I cannot remember anything more substantial than a Marc Jacobs’ tote that the heroine coveted. And the fun fact that the events took place fifteen streets south from where I live at the moment.(less)
The Perilous Gard I loved without reservations, and I cannot find anything there that I wish would be different. It is not the best book ever, but as...moreThe Perilous Gard I loved without reservations, and I cannot find anything there that I wish would be different. It is not the best book ever, but as it is, it is just right.
The language flows smoothly, occasionally reminding us that it happens in XVI century, and not in XX with a certain turn of phrase, or a word naming something we don’t have a use for, but never descending into ElizabethanSpeak. I can – with difficulty –read actual Elizabethan prose, but have no patience for nowadays remakes – even the closest to authentic. Elizabeth Marie Pope sets the time with just enough historical details and just right linguistic means.
The characters – main and secondary – are imperfect, but interesting. The main characters are adorkable and squishy. I mean they made me care about their doings and cheer for them and smack them with the herring in some cases.
The Fairies are interesting and believable. Well, as believable as fairies can possibly be. I loved that Kate is trying to find a reasonable explanations for their doings and I loved even more that her explanation is as close to reasonable as possible. I was in a good kind of shock learning that they really do live in caves and hollows of the hill, not in a magical land or any kind of wonderful palaces. It made sense – as their pride in that way of living. Lady inspires curiosity and awe and animosity and sadness at the same time.
And finally I would like to note the perfect mood in the book – just dark enough with the sparkles and the lightness that is coming from the characters themselves.(less)
I loved this book, and what I liked the most was the same I liked in all Huff's books I read: cool and likable characters, snappy dialogue, vivid imag...moreI loved this book, and what I liked the most was the same I liked in all Huff's books I read: cool and likable characters, snappy dialogue, vivid imagery and sharp details. Details make me relate to the world Huff's characters live in and feel quite at home - whether it was mentions of some Canadian realities, brands or problems, or pop culture ones (like Joss Whedon and World of Warcraft).
So, what is about? A young woman that inherits a junk shop in Calgary from her grandmother, her gigantic magical family, her insanely powerful aunties that rule the family and would be ruling the world if they were not too nice for it 9so they just make the world to accommodate to their wishes), her cousins, her lovers (mostly the same cousins), her love, her growing up, dragon princes, fate of the world in one Canadian city, and everything else in between. The scene with hunting evil monkey paw through the shop reminds me powerfully of some mummy hand scene, and it is also a bonus in my opinion.
There is a system of magic that we don't get a full picture or detailed explanations, just glimpses - the females' roles and powers are divided by their maiden/mother/crone status, men are literally AND figuratively horny, and there is sex. It sounds cheesy and may turn someone away, but in the story it made perfect sense to me.
The story is finished, but I hope Tanya Huff will return to this family and the rest of the characters. There are a lot of fun cousins to write about. And then, of course, there are dragon princes - gorgeous, powerful, bored, clueless... I'd love to see more of them, too.(less)
I have to admit that my favorite part of the book is the story of Bill. He starts out as a respected member of society, beloved coach, and a great cat...moreI have to admit that my favorite part of the book is the story of Bill. He starts out as a respected member of society, beloved coach, and a great catch, and he ends up a full-blown crazy, creepy and disgusting. His scenes are written mostly in his point of view, so we are privy to his thought and can see how slowly but inescapably they part their ways from reality. (less)