**spoiler alert** So I started reading this one and the main thought that went through my head was.. wtf?
It continued to be wtf. It seems like I'm th**spoiler alert** So I started reading this one and the main thought that went through my head was.. wtf?
It continued to be wtf. It seems like I'm the only person who didn't give this 5 stars. I reserve 1 star ratings for books I really can't finish (with a few special exceptions) so 2 stars it is.
Now, I think perhaps that it's so highly rated because it's published, edited twilight fanfiction. And don't take that the wrong way... I have nothing against fanfiction. I read it, I love it, I think it's a great way to develop some talent and find your voice, plus there are characters you already know and love and even when you have next to no description at all you still know what the characters are supposed to be and you know you love them,
But I don't like the trend of editing and publishing it. Mostly because there's a lot lost. Like multidimensional characters (since I don't think it's okay legally to say "hey so this guy is Edward Cullen...."). I actually didn't know that's what this was when I started reading it, or else... well, I probably would have just given it a pass. But I didn't, and TIL.
Now, about the actual story:
I read (and enjoy!) a wide range of stuff, some of which can sound pretty depraved on the surface. I actually found the "romance" in this book to be way too creepy. I don't find Haven falling in love with Carmine to be romantic or even remotely realistic. It felt like Stockholm Syndrome. She wasn't permitted to leave the house, and Dominic was not interested... and she went from being Michael's property, to Vincent's...to Carmine's. But because he had feelings for her, it was supposed to be okay.
Not to mention the fact that Carmine was downright cruel to her literally throughout the whole book. I was cringing 70% through this book. Cringing at how the "hero" treated her. And even though allegedly she was learning to take up for herself, and allegedly she was sassy and strong at this point, there's no way someone who was born into slavery and is on a date with the guy who literally owns her and who has threatened her life if she does something disrespectful is going to smack this man-child upside the head like he damn well needs and ask him what the hell crawled up his ass and died.
Haven was boring. She didn't do anything through the entire book but cook and clean and clean and cook and, well, once or twice she drew a picture but that's about it. She didn't come off as very realistic, either... she adapted too quickly to freedom, had no empathy for her mother, hardly had her own independent thoughts (though this is through no fault of her own, what with the slave part, and all).
I felt like the Mafia thing should have been a redeeming factor here but it wasn't. It didn't seem realistic at all. It fell flat. It all kind of just fell flat....more
Okay, so... elephant on the table first, before I get started, because honestly I couldn't get past it.
Remy Garcia was totally modeled off of Dick GrOkay, so... elephant on the table first, before I get started, because honestly I couldn't get past it.
Remy Garcia was totally modeled off of Dick Grayson. I'm not going to angrily screech ripoff or anything, because there are original elements here and that's fine, but I had a hard time mostly because I convinced myself I was crazy. So, I mean, the initials, The Flying Garcias, the quad thing... boy detective? It took a little while but as I was debating whether or not to loan this book to a friend, I mentioned all this to her in a totally neutral and unbiased way and she said "wtf, that sounds like Dick Grayson." And I'd been afraid to actually voice this to her, because like I said, crazy. My suspicions were further confirmed by the Batman references even early on in the book and a little bit of poking around the author's goodreads page and seeing that there's an about to be published book about Lois Lane.
I should trust my instincts more, basically, especially when it comes to one of my favorite comic book characters ever. Because I probably spent more time in the beginning convincing myself that I was making shit up than I did just enjoying the book.
That had no bearing on my rating.
The things that did have a bearing on my rating: -please please please don't tell me, show me. This mostly applies to circus lingo and superstitions. I had read "First of May" so many times by the time the characters decided to explain what First of May meant that I actually had to put my iPad down and quit reading for a little while because I wanted to stab my eyes out. The same with the peacock feather thing. I'm not sure if this was a haven't-found-my-reading-groove thing on my part, though, because as the book progressed I didn't notice it nearly as much. If I hadn't read my way around a fair few circus books in my life (both fiction and nonfiction) I would have googled the slang by the point it was explained. Same with the superstitions.
-it was basically Shakespeare goes to the circus. I mean, that sounds really harsh, but the characters are named Romeo and Julieta, and Julieta makes a poke about Romeo's name, and yet it's never even mentioned that...that's a little ironic. So much so that it's more than irony.
-I had a really hard time liking Jules. She was rather spoiled the whole time--even starting the book by throwing a tantrum and immediately getting her way--and she never seemed to really progress past that. Even at the end when she realized she'd gotten everything she wanted she decided she didn't want it and more or less threw it all away. I am pretty sure it was supposed to be a sacrifice but I didn't see her as having developed past her established (bratty) character in the beginning. (view spoiler)[I did love the part where one of the characters--I can't remember specifically which--called her out on being stuck up. (hide spoiler)]
But despite these things, I enjoyed the story itself. The secondary characters were pretty awesome. I liked Remy's sister and Jules' cousin, and her Nan was actually a pretty cool character, as was the ringmaster. I wasn't a fan of -all- the magic but I liked the magic aspect. I guess my biggest complaint, then, is it just isn't subtle enough. It was a pretty good circus book. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It's very comprehensive and manages to be truthful and good without either pointing out all the good and ignoring the bad, or poiI really liked this.
It's very comprehensive and manages to be truthful and good without either pointing out all the good and ignoring the bad, or pointing out all the bad and ignoring the good. Elvis was a person, who made mistakes, but not entirely a terrible person. And that was evident in this.
I will definitely be reading the second one. ...more
It's a cute little steampunk-esque story about a world where magic exists, and Ceony Twill is just beginning her appreI got this through Kindle First.
It's a cute little steampunk-esque story about a world where magic exists, and Ceony Twill is just beginning her apprenticeship under a master Folder. She's graduated from her magic school in just one year. In this world, every magician bonds to a certain material. Normally magicians get to choose which material to bond with, but because there are so few people who actually want to work with paper, Ceony is assigned. Rather than become a failure, she accepts and goes to live with eccentric magician Emery Thane. And then someone steals his heart, and Ceony goes to save him.
I think the thing that bothered me the most about this book was that it didn't seem too logical that Ceony was that skilled, even given her eidetic memory, and the month she spent training seemed a bit rushed. Her feelings were brand-new to me as a reader because they just seemed to be dropped out of nowhere.
But I am going to keep an eye out for book two because I just found the characters charming. Even the paper dog. Especially the paper dog. I want one. ...more
Which honestly is less terrible than, say, historical romance about Henry VIII, especially consideri
It's a historical romance feat. Vlad the Impaler.
Which honestly is less terrible than, say, historical romance about Henry VIII, especially considering (god this is about to get weird) Henry VIII was a lot more brutal. And also pretty inconsistent--your life with Henry VIII would have largely been dictated by the King's feelings at the time. We're all Catholic now! No wait, we hate Catholicism. Kill that guy! I'm going to make up any rule that suits me this week and if you break it you're in trouble.
I got this, I totally did a speech on it in college once.
The Tudor comparison is somewhat necessary considering that there's a lot of Tudor-era historical romance and I'm pretty sure that's what people think. I mean, I picked this book up thinking "oh, it's basically Tudor romance featuring Dracula." And it's really not.
I'm not saying that Vlad Dracula wasn't brutal, because that's not true. He was a brutal guy but also a just one. Was the Impaler nickname earned? Yeah, it was, but it wasn't like he just pointed at random people like "yup, that one today." He was a fearsome ruler, but still kind of seen as a hero in his home country. Remembered for uniting the country, but in a rather extreme way.
There is a story, or maybe a legend, that Prince Vlad left a golden cup on a well in the middle of a town square and that cup was never stolen. It was kind of a symbol of how he reigned--anyone who stole that cup would face the same punishment (death) regardless of birth, social standing, wealth, or closeness to the Prince. That's what I mean by "a just one."
So basically, if you've read The Other Boleyn Girl, I feel like this is much lower on the scale of "weird to be caught reading" because hey, in context? It's really not as bad as it might look at first glance, especially considering that this subject matter is a bit less popular and only a tiny subset of knowledge might be readily available by name. ("I say Vlad, you think Impaler," that sort of thing.)
Now, with all of that said, this isn't a fluff novel, either. It's actually pretty political given that it's a romance, and also switches back and forth between two periods in history, which requires a bit of paying attention. It's not as thorough of a jump as The Historian, though, but rather young!Ilona and older!Ilona. There's not a lot of talk about jewels and gowns and dancing. This is about a war, about alliances and power and loyalty and yeah there's love in there too.
And nowhere in this novel is history sacrificed for a good story. The Impaler parts aren't sidestepped or given any weird sort of justification. They are there, but in a really, surprisingly well-rounded way, neither overshadowing or overshadowed by the rest of the story. It's not glorified, it's not vilified, it just is a fact of life.
I expected less than this, and was pleasantly surprised. It's a good story. Vlad and Ilona (historically his second wife) are both very well-rounded characters--they are flawed, and it's not like you know everything about them from page one; their story unfolds in a very believable and fluid way and they are ultimately both portrayed as so thoroughly human it's fantastic. I really liked her in this story, despite the fact that as a historical figure in and of herself I don't feel like she was either likable or unlikeable.
I would recommend this, absolutely to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and doesn't mind a bit of politics mixed in their romance....more
This wasn't terribly written or anything like that. The three stars are because I found it impossible to emotionally connect to the story. It was pretThis wasn't terribly written or anything like that. The three stars are because I found it impossible to emotionally connect to the story. It was pretty good, well-written, I just didn't feel anything....more
This was great! You'd never be able to tell by reading it that it's a debut novel. The author does a wonderful job of building and keeping the suspensThis was great! You'd never be able to tell by reading it that it's a debut novel. The author does a wonderful job of building and keeping the suspense and never once do the characters ever somehow have more information than they should. The suspense really keeps the story moving forward. For once, having the alternating past story and present story worked very much in this book's favor. And I really enjoyed the ending, as well. ...more