“… and I don’t know where the head is.“ “The head?“ she asks, all mystified. „I got to go powerful bad and I don’t know where to do it.“
I admit: „Curs...more“… and I don’t know where the head is.“ “The head?“ she asks, all mystified. „I got to go powerful bad and I don’t know where to do it.“
I admit: „Curse of the Blue Tattoo“, the first of nine or ten sequels to „Bloody Jack“, a thrilling, fun account of former London street kid Mary Faber surviving in male disguise on a pirate-hunting man-o-war, has all the rompy entertainment factors of its shorter, sea-bound precessor: Evil and excentric side characters, colorfully painted, easy-to-imagine sceneries (this time of early nineteenth’ century Boston), danger, more danger, a lot of neverending action – and our ever-resouceful, cheerful, flute-playing, smitten-with-her-absent-fiancé, heart-on-tongue, good-natured and all-spontaneous heroine Mary „Jacky" Faber.
Well. It’s maybe already obvious: I got mightily fed up with Jacky and her idiot antics. The occasional urge to sigh-and-eyeroll overcame me even before I finished the first volume. The main annoyance then had been the story’s drift from a swashbuckling adventure to a mushy-gushy keep-your-greedy-hands-off-me-you-sly-boy romance. Now I see Jacky as a rather clueless Pippi Longstocking imitator, whose brazen carelessness among murderous priests, cold school mistresses, corrupt sheriffs, drunken street musicians and lesbian women of pleasure repeatedly leads to Cinderella-in-reverse-careers, whippings, unpleasant gropings of private parts and almost-rapings.
In addition, the Jaimy-mooning has not waned – although he is half a world away – and the series seems to employ a kind of stalled-progress stance as far as the heroine’s character growth and general education is concerned – probably to make her exploitable draw-backs lasts longer: Jacky’s mode of expression has been switched back to her illiterate under-the-bridge drawl including using the third-person ‚s’ („Me thinks“, „I jumps down the gangway“), which she had successfully dropped with the help of the midshipmen’s instructor on board of the HMS Dolphin, and her table manners … I guess the author needed the contrast to the future society ladies attenting the Lawson Peabody School for Young Girls very badly for effect. So he added things like a notorious nose-picking habit on top. I found Jacky’s difficulties to adapt and imitate her female peers rather hard to believe since her success to pass as a ship’s boy heavily relied on her gift to blend in, to quickly observe and copy the behavior and attitude of those surrounding her.
So. We have parted ways, fine lady and natural-born racing jockey Mary Faber and I, exactly on page 245. Are we going to meet again in one of the numerous reheated remixes the series holds in store? „Not bloody likely, mate!“ (less)
"So? She's smart and she knows about floorboards. I bet she knows about computers, too." My last update around the 38% mark had been "PLEASE remind me...more"So? She's smart and she knows about floorboards. I bet she knows about computers, too." My last update around the 38% mark had been "PLEASE remind me never to read a Lili Wilkinson again. It's a very subjective thing, but consistent: I hate all the guy characters, do not connect to the girl ones and get irritated by the mystery/stetting/story/world/whatever. I am not sure whether I will finish the strange love story/wacky job/creepy people story or not." What has changed since then is: I am now pretty sure that I will not venture into the novel again.
Originally I started to read the book, because the latest Goodreads Young Adult Book Club Challenge demands that the participants read a YA book about a character who has a "fun job". Well, not everybody can become a librarian. Therefore magician's assistant sounded rather special and interesting to me, although Wilkinson's taxidermy intern in "A Pocketful of Eyes" also turned out to be more or less forgettable in spite of all her sleuthing activities among the fur, the dusty glass beads and the glamorous depths of the museum she worked at.
Sage's job at Armand's, the teen-boob-addicted, introverted, second-class traveling magician, consists of cleaning the theater, out-traying the bills and setting up a homepage with a ticket-booking-system. There is some unease concerning her family, whose formerly plush finances - along with her parents' relationship - seem to have suffered a drop so Sage has to earn money to pay for her coveted photography course. Since she is new in town and school hasn't started yet for her, she is grateful for stage hand Herb's - an indiscernible, ambitious, oily creep/jerk/mr-hansom, who is obviously not to be trusted, but counts as a fitting love interest for low-expectations-Sage anyway - flirty advances and braggery or the rare camaraderie of otherworldly beautiful, sad, superstitious and obviously physically abused (by whom seems to be one of the questions) assistant-in-sequins Bianca, who Herb at least verbally treats like dirt.
That means Sage is more or less an underage underpaid secretary, whose Photoshop skills magically make her competent in all fields of computer and accountancy tasks, too. And it means Sage might have an eye for camera-worthy beauty, but, like all other Wilkinson-heroines I've met, has huge problems with common sense and character judgement.
But the most important thing is that Wilkinson cannot make me care or even rage about that deficiency. There is no magic at all in setting, story or social interaction. So. PLEASE nudge me hard and noticeably the next time I put one of her seemingly interesting titles on my wishlist. Will you? Thanks!(less)
I know, I KNOW that 16% reading progress is not much and probably too early to throw the towel for good and to say that I do not believe in being able...moreI know, I KNOW that 16% reading progress is not much and probably too early to throw the towel for good and to say that I do not believe in being able to change my mind. Should you be outraged about my audacity to rate my meager reading experience, just squeeze your eyes tight and open them after my lonely star has passed you by.
At first the delectably time travel aspect in combination with the first gushy-mushy, over-positive reviews somehow failed to persuade me that I should wish for the book to appear in my hands. I have no explanation whatsoever for my lack of reaction.
Then, when I decided to join my friend Teccc in a spontaneous buddy-read (the Kindle edition is attractively cheap), I had mixed feelings during the first scenes in the prison, because the story and the heroine made no immediate beeline for my heart and I kept picturing Juliette and Adam and their world in earlier-consumed Shatter Me and wished for the writing style I encountered then (not the book’s or author’s fault). The heroine’s unfounded obsession with opening that drain appeared to be a little off and absurd to me – although I understand that time spent in isolation can do a lot of unsavory things to the human mind.
The time machine throttled towards its destination and I spluttered into a scene full of girls I instantly hated (view spoiler)[I guess M...arina and e...M will turn out to be the same person. So hating the former would not have turned out good for my relationship with the book (hide spoiler)], two boys I felt indifferent about (view spoiler)[although one of them, the overlooked one, seems to develop into the blue-eyed hero (hide spoiler)], and a plot that bored me from paragraph one. As M...arina left with the not-yet-replaced boy of her dreams for a fundraising event I decided to leave her universe. And exhaled long and luxuriously in relief. That’s it.
Please read and adore this time travelling romance. You are not me. Apparently.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I received an electronic review copy of B. Kristin McMichael’s fantasy romance To Stand Beside Her in exchange for an honest review from her husband....moreI received an electronic review copy of B. Kristin McMichael’s fantasy romance To Stand Beside Her in exchange for an honest review from her husband. To be entirely fair I have to add that he did not force it on me. I had put the debut on my wishlist first and thus expressed my unmistakable interest. That means the blame for misspending 30 minutes by struggling twice through the first 10% should be entirely mine.
Before someone else repeats my mistake and maybe doesn’t even dare to throw the towel as early as I did, I offer my review both as a payment and as means to help like-minded readers to pass go without accepting or purchasing a copy.
Believe it or not, I even plan to entice some readers into pressing the to-read-button after browsing through my ramblings, for what is appalling to me might be appealing to others. And those others stand clear in front of my mind: The unabashed admirers of strong, beautiful, physically fit, unbeatably witty, unbearably female, lime-light addicted and uncompromisingly self-promoting heroines like assassin Celaena Sardothien.
The now wildly popular Throne of Glass, too, started out as a self-published novel, but having read more than half of the story my guess is that a lot of work went into re-structuring and basic editing afterwards. All in all it turned out to be quite readable in spite of not meeting my personal taste in character design and dynamics. To Stand Beside Her did not benefit of the services big publishing houses have to offer, but if you can generously overlook that the text does not tell you what a courier/ghost courier is - except that her job is split into six skill levels, extremely legendary, kind of hush-hush and certainly mind-blowingly dangerous - , that you will long await the moment when it will revealed to you were the story takes place – apart from that it is a world with at least eight kingdoms of which five kings are wifeless and keen on getting a feisty spouse that verbally abuses them on a day-to-day basis with her special brand of smirky wit -, and that other details keep leaping spontaneously at you – like that this fantasy world has running hot water even in windowless special-prisoner castle suites, then you may blissfully dive into a novel featuring Celaena reincarnated into a parallel universe:
"Leila was the best. [...] Leila could easily enter any heavily guarded place and leave unnoticed with her assignment." "No one, no man, or woman, could keep up with her. Leila was a ghost to many and a legend to everyone else. Through her training, she had perfected the use of multiple identities so she could travel from city to city, fulfilling even the the most demanding assignments." "She had yet to find a man who could beat her in both weapons and hand-to-hand combat." "All told of encountering a lady so beautiful she would take your breath away and yet was so cunning none could cage her long enough to make her into a wife."
But, alas, almost right at the beginning Leila lets her guard slip in front of the guard after being really smug about losing a pair of newbie trackers. And, oops, the uncatchable maiden is caught. Surprisingly not for the first time. Leila proudly mentions she has already first-hand knowledge of both the men’s and the women’s section of the prison – and of five other kingdoms’, too, but she never intends to stay. She simply scales the prison’s inner and outer walls with her dainty, little feet (view spoiler)[they must really look unproportional on her, since we learn later, that she is taller than all the palace guards (hide spoiler)] and leaves before supper. Sadly her dumb Level-2-associate Kay is still inside the castle, which means she goes straight back in to fetch her out – and does not miss the chance to wiggle her tongue at the flabbergasted guards at the main gate.
Because she does not make her skills a secret and offers her new fans some in-detail glimpses into the tricks of her trade, cruel King Nalick – bless him, the first of acceptable height and muscle mass – is curious, sends for her, showers in a select mix of rude comebacks, seductive disregard and violent eye-lash-batting, and is instantly smitten. Leila languidly anticipates his proposal, because she had received five similar ones from his colleagues before. The offer of Nalick’s farther’s hand even resulted in the forced demise of her beloved fiancé. So keeping alive Level-2-Kay dictates taking different measures than that unrelenting "no" four years earlier (view spoiler)[when the heroine had been 14, should I have counted correctly (hide spoiler)]. Right? It does not hurt, though, to ask the next best priest standing in the way to help her flee as if he regularly dismisses his ruler's instructions for fun. Strangly, he does not comply.
Well. If your Celaena-addicted mind is not yet salviating yet, I give you the following last bits on top: "Leila did not approve of hurting innocent people. [...] Never once had she killed anyone who attacked her. Even those who would try to kill her did not deserve to die in her opinion." This shocking revelation of Leila’s purity of heart is apparently necessary for the story to come, for according to the palace seer Miss Smarty-Parts-Dirty-Mouth has "the power to change the world". Naturally. He elaborates "When people come in contact with you, their aura becomes whiter in color to match yours."
Should you think this is sweet, but not stickily so, go ahead and indulge. The e-book is very affordable, but it seems to lack a love-triangle.
If you feel like wiping off your fingers, just stay well behind the yellow tape. I do no know for sure, but I cannot imagine that the story improves enough to brighten your day. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The writing definitely shows skill and the heroine has a certain realistic flavor, but I noticed quickly that "Lovely, Dark and Deep" is one of those...moreThe writing definitely shows skill and the heroine has a certain realistic flavor, but I noticed quickly that "Lovely, Dark and Deep" is one of those grief-centered books, which are too depressing for me.
After I while I couldn't stand Mamie/Wren's prickly leave-me-alone-I'm-fine-mantra anymore, and I tsked and growled, when I saw she was so blinded by cloaking herself in her own pain that she had the nerve to thoughtlessly ask a guy sick with MS, walking on crutches and admitting that it isn't safe for him to go on driving a car, why he thought he would not resume his studies in fall: If he lost his interest in architecture.
I stopped reading at 21%, and I don't think I will pick it up again. But I am confident that this is the right story for a lot of readers: Dead boyfriends, small-towns, broken friendships, famous dads and gorgeous, terminally ill hunks are an attractive combination, I believe. (less)
Around the 11% mark I noticed that I couldn't stand all that super merry stuff like the marshmallow soup, the polar bear teacher (called Mr. Polar Bea...moreAround the 11% mark I noticed that I couldn't stand all that super merry stuff like the marshmallow soup, the polar bear teacher (called Mr. Polar Bear - or PB) or Santa's personal, South-Pole-born penguin kitchen chef (called Chefy) and the overload of cutish Christmas nonsense any longer. Merryment class hadn't been my my favorite subject in school after all. Plus heroine Candycane - Mr. Claus' daughter who is accutely aware of her famous and self-loving dad's shortcomings -, her current boyfriend, the ambitious half-elf Tinsel, and the festive arrangement of side-characters, like naturally busy dental hygienist Sugar Plum, were already working on my nerves like toffee on a crumbling tooth.
Nice idea, over-enthusiastic execution (I should have already heeded the this-is-way-over-the-top warning, when I first saw "author's" name).(less)
A friend lent the family saga, which begins during World War I in Thessaloniki and supposedly ends there in the present, to me in order to express her...moreA friend lent the family saga, which begins during World War I in Thessaloniki and supposedly ends there in the present, to me in order to express her gratitute for the many discarded books I had shoved at her before. I couldn't possibly say 'no' although I knew right from the first glance at the book flap that the book and I would be facing unsatisfactory times together. Since the hardback has been already gathering dust for a month and in fact belongs to my friend's elderly mother, who wants it back, I sighed dramatically, but picked it up today - determined to get the book behind me fast. But ... where has my former discipline gone? Not a trace of it is left. Unfinishing books has become as normal to me as finishing one is. And thus, the urge to slam the covers shut grew and grew until I finally succumbed: On page 64. Heavens, what shall I tell my friend?(less)
I abandoned the book after 150 pages, which were filled with interesting world building, a half-interesting bionic-woman-soldier, a self-infatuated, w...moreI abandoned the book after 150 pages, which were filled with interesting world building, a half-interesting bionic-woman-soldier, a self-infatuated, womanizing jerk with the supposed gift of being extra-observant and tons upon tons of undiluted boredom. Plus, Mead reheats Georgina Kincaid's I-cannot-have-sex-with-him-(again)-dilemma on a gender-reversed sci-fi burner, and I suppose I would have to see Mae and Justin on the brink of almost giving in again and again and again for the next however-many-there-are-planned volumes if I decided to go on reading. Meh. Really.
P.S.: When I was reading, I kept thinking of two other books featuring physically enhanced women, and I am going to recommend them instead:
Grace sidled up beside me and whispered, 'This was huge, Echo. If Luke's into you again, life will change. Who he talks to and dates changes everyone'...moreGrace sidled up beside me and whispered, 'This was huge, Echo. If Luke's into you again, life will change. Who he talks to and dates changes everyone's opinion. Maybe things will finally get back to normal.' ... 'Luke may love me, but he's not exactly thoughtful.' [...] 'True. He's self-absorbed and has a one-track mind [...]. But you have feelings for him.'
As a small girl I used to love the few stanzas I snapped up of a tragic, traditional ballad about a prince and a princess in love who were first divided by an uncrossable river and then by the death of the boy who braved the waters to be united with his beloved. Stories of bitter-sweet love blossoming against the odds have always held a certain appeal to me. And when I read and enjoyed i.e. Perfect Chemistry, I found that I didn't even mind the occasional extra layer of exaggeration and fluffy drama that accompanies them. But there is a line. I need some flimsy anchor to reality at least, more or less realistic characters with realistic, consistent traits, feelings and reactions, mostly. I have to out myself as someone who has never trodden on American High School grounds. That means I usually stretch my imagination pretty far from what I have experienced during my own teenage years on the old continent and make allowances for all the things completely foreign to me - proms, home rooms, purity issues, the fixation on sports and athletic superiority, the hierarchies, the groups, the unwritten lunch room rules, the rich and mighty who more or less glow in the dark. Yet, here I cannot refrain from pointing out the eerily plastic figurines that make up the horrible cast of the soapless soap called "Pushing the Limits" and their unbelievably strange demeanor. This story is pushing my limits indeed.
It begins already with the premises. For the sake of her own psychological healing heroine Echo is denied the "truth" about what happened to her the night that left her with horribly scarred underarms by both her father and her school therapist. She lost her memory but knows that somehow her mentally ill mother must have been involved, for she has been forbidden to contact her since. Not knowing anything means for Echo that she has no ground on which to deflect the accusatory or morbidly interested stares and whispers of her classmates, who also had not been briefed by anyone before Echo's return to school and consequently assume "failed suicide attempt". In order to completely sever her connection to her artist mother - who is her mother after all - Echo's father, who pushes his daughter to better and better results at school because he wants her to study economics, has forbidden her to attend her beloved art class. Apart from hard-core meddling with her life-defining choices, Daddy isn't really interested. He is busy fondling the pregnant belly of his second wife, Echo's former full-time babysitter, and responding to his Blackberry's beeps. The therapist, who is otherwise described as being of the caring, experienced, no-nonsense sort, doesn't get it at all that her squirming patient is not free to answer freely in the presence of her parents. What kind of therapist is that? What kind of therapy waits for a patient's memory to come back on its own, but removes all anchors to it? At that point I was already silently screaming along with Echo, who narrates her part with an overly snarky, sassy, judgemental voice that doesn't fit her passive, submissive actions in the least.
Noah's case is similarly strange. His parents died in a burning house, which made him and his brothers orphans. In contrast to him, who plays the survival game against abusive, violent adults fostering kids for monetary reasons, the younger boys were lucky enough to be placed into the hands of a loving couple. A couple, who selfishly presses for an adoption and for the termination of Noah's visiting rights - because of his obvious bad influence. Nobody believes Mother-Theresa-Robin-Hood-crossbreed Noah, that he had attacked his brutal foster father only to save another kid. In order to tarnish the intelligent, athletic saint with a proper, shady sheen, the author selected a pot habit and a reputation of sleeping around as persona add-ons. Having occasional sex with willing females in this book automatically equals not being able to love (view spoiler)['You don't love people. You have sex with them. So how could you want to be with me?'(hide spoiler)]. Which in turn is labeled as "not normal". Since "normal" is the goal glove-wearing Echo has to achieve to call her friends friends again, Noah is a big no-no-no (view spoiler)['Yes ... no ... I don't know. I want normal, Noah. Can you give me normal?'(hide spoiler)].
This leads us to the weirdest portrayal in this limitless young adult wonder: Echo's friends and the life-or-death-question of belonging to the High School caste that counts. Grace, who has tentatively resumed connections to part-time leper Echo, urges her to give-in to Luke's (re)advances (see quote on top). We are speaking here of ultra-jerk Luke, Echo's cast-off, popular-for-no-valid-reason boyfriend, who had pressured her for sex, who 'had' to satisfy his boyish needs elsewhere because of her ongoing reluctance, who is pressuring her now again - which seems to be perfectly acceptable because of his professed "love" for her - and who takes her to watch a contemporary war movie, although it is no secret that her brother died in action. All of Echo's so-called friends are mean, devoid of compassion, hierarchy-obsessed and offer their friendship bound to conditions. That Echo takes their childish stance and their suggestions seriously destroys the picture of above-average intelligence and witty insight the author tries to sell so hard of her. Echo is dense beyond belief. And the "real" good guy is too easy to spot.
Apart from the bad image the book conveys of clueless social workers and psychologists, there is definitely something off in the medication department: Echo is not only supposed to heal herself without working things out with her institutionalized mother, she is also forced to beg her dad for her prescription pills which are unnecessary in his opinion and therefore safely hidden away. A well-placed complaint to her therapist would have been probably sufficient to change the situation. But I wondered why the pills weren't in Echo's own hands in the first place. She is no toddler. She is no prisoner. In addition there is that bizarre scene in which Lila and Echo persuade her self-centered, vapid stepmother to put her on birth control (Lila's idea, by the way). Why doesn't Echo just visit a family planning center or a gynaecologist? In my country - same as in many others - the pill is free of charge for minors. And no doctor or social worker is allowed to disclose to a girl's parents her decision to take it. I refuse to accept that there are no ways in the US to elude parental consent.
Well. There are 60% of plot left that I, as a thinking owner of my life time, declare as being better off in the abandoned e-books folder of my reading device. I do not think that there will be summaries of books to come by this book's author which will lure me into having a try.
I close my case with a conversation Echo has with the ever-loving Luke, the Cute: 'Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine you'd want me back after I became the freak.' [ ...] 'I want you in again and I think the best way for you to fall is to jump. I think we should pick up where we left off. I think we should have sex.' [...] 'What?' 'Not now, but soon. I bet if we do, you'll be in again.' [...] Odd, I'd gotten my wish - I could have sex with someone who loved me - but I'd forgotten to add that I wanted to love him back. 'I don't know.' He simply smiled. 'Sleep on it.' ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
'Get in.' He demanded. [...] I got in the car, against my better judgement, because I didn’t want to cause a scene. [...] 'You understand that I just...more'Get in.' He demanded. [...] I got in the car, against my better judgement, because I didn’t want to cause a scene. [...] 'You understand that I just met you, right?' 'Yes. You understand that the woman you were about to have lunch with is my aunt and she just disappeared in a matter of minutes, right? You understand that perhaps there is more going on than you could possibly comprehend, right? You understand that I am trying to get you home safe, right?' His blue eyes pierced me and my body felt numb. I did understand. I handed him my keys. 'My house is at 504 Briarwood Court.'
You like that? Good for you. To me this passage embodies everything I dislike about a certain type of paranormal young adult romance. And although I have read only 7% of the self-published mermaid novel, I can tell that I would label the whole package as unbearably awful. Therefore there is no sense in reading the remaining 93%.
If the 'teaser' above made you kind of excited, you might be pleased to hear that the story deals with a freshly graduated orphan called Seraphin, who has had water phobia since she went into the ocean against her father's explicit prohibition, which is somehow connected to her father's mysterious death. Rich Seraphin has lived for years Cinderella-style with a family friend, who resented her presence in the house. She made do with only one true friend, her biology teacher Ms. Z., who starts blathering about legends and merpeople and guardians and successions and prophecies out of the blue and right on graduation day. After Seraphin has laughingly established that she doesn't believe in mermaids, she witnesses said teacher-friend, who announces that she will have to leave town directly after lunch, to make the biology department's goldfishes do as she says using plain English to communicate at them. Just as Seraphin contemplates becoming a believer (Praised be Nemo!), Ms. Z's grumpy, shy and gorgeous nephew Joseph barges in, flickers his mesmerising eyes from ice to navy blue and back, stops himself from releasing a very secret secret and takes the first-I-have-to-pretend-to-hate-you role with aplomb. Phew! Just in time, because fifteen minutes later he needs to be the ill-tempered-and-tight-lipped-knight-in-shining-armor. Our friendless heroine of the later-to-be-revealed superior qualities is about to faint and cannot drive or think or walk and talk.
This marks the opening of the fantastic curtain: I am sure there will be a lot of mistrust and bickering and withholding of information. There will be fulfilments of prophecies that demand sacrifices of vast proportions to be made. And there will be goldfish lingo to be learned. In the end there will be peace and harmony in Earth’s oceans again. How inspiring! But alas, I cannot stay. You tell me, if I am right. But make it quick, okay?
Disclosure: I received a Smashwords Coupon from the author to download the e-book for free. (less)
He nodded. 'And how old are you?' 'Eighteen.' But he said nothing. 'I know,' she continued. 'It is impressive that I accomplished so much at such an e...moreHe nodded. 'And how old are you?' 'Eighteen.' But he said nothing. 'I know,' she continued. 'It is impressive that I accomplished so much at such an early age.' 'Crime isn’t an accomplishment, Sardothien.' 'Yes, but becoming the world's most famous assassin is.' He didn’t respond. 'You might ask me how I did it.' 'Did what?' he said tightly. 'Became so talented and famous so quickly.'
To readers who were sorely disappointed by the teenage assassin girl in Grave Mercy, because she turned out to be squeamish, uneducated, childish, prudish and – stripped of her wonder box of magical knives and poisons – not really fit for killing anybody at the right place and at the right time, the Throne of Glass’s equally young heroine might certainly represent a reconciliation: For Celaena Sardothien proves herself to be more than capable of ruthlessly and efficiently ending the lives of those unfortunate enough to be on her hit list when she is working or those on her radar when she is snapping. Yes, capable is the adjective the reader cannot escape to associate with "Adarlan’s most notorious assassin", whose career had been cut short a year ago by some spineless betrayer, but there are many other labels that fit her.
Thus I would rather exchange "capable" for "accomplished", since the latter - used by Celaena herself, too - encompasses almost the full range of her praiseworthy achievements, traits and gifts and it implies her delectability in the admiring eyes of the strong, intelligent and good-looking alpha males around her: Celaena's best features are her blond hair and her gold-ringed irises, but after a few hearty breakfasts and some hefty workouts in her new castle suite her cheeks hollowed by prison food and her lean body mangled by hard slave labor in the conqueror king’s mines resume their seductive, yet athletic, voluptuousness and shine. Male chaperone Captain Chaol and Crown Prince Dorian certainly notice in spite of the multi-layered clothing that attempts to conceil her forms. The mine-induced paleness of skin – which stays and stays and stays – simply seems to add to Celaena’s attractiveness. Just like the three huge scars the girl earned during her year as a captive are on the one hand conveniently located on her back in places hidden by the country’s court fashion and on the other hand almost aesthetic reminders of the heroine’s unquenchable toughness. For right after her arrival in the mines her fellow inmates had started flocking towards her and had insisted on cleaning her wounds and smearing them with their own precious salves each night. Which makes it safe for me to assume that no ugly bumps and infections disturb the white-lined artwork on Celaena’s pearly shoulders.
The prisoners’ selfless act of help is just an example of how good and just people recognize Celaena’s inert goodness and righteousness. The reader sees the difference between cruel and mindless soldiers slaying random people in the name of the king and the pure-hearted murderess-on-commission, being a member of the highly esteemed and selective assassins' guild and killing with care and precision, anyhow. It is never mentioned how Celaena managed to stick to having fulfill clean-conscience-assignments only, but listening to her enraged thoughts you simply know deep down that killing children and innocent villagers would be against her work ethics. And, as mentioned, several characters having no access to her stream of consciousness also see her inner light: She might do friends only seldomly on principle because of her line of work, which requires mistrust and competitiveness, yet she is immediately sought out by the few sensible competitors of the king’s secret future champion competition, and her simple, welcoming greeting immediately convinces the visiting ambassador princess of one of the recently subjugated countries, that the girl disguised as Prince Dorian’s merchant class lover Lady Ludmilla is the only castle inhabitant fit to become her language and culture teacher, even her trusted confidante and companion.
Princess Nehemia’s sudden sway to her favour might unquestionably also have been caused by Calaena’s unusual and outstanding language skills – nobody but her in the castle is able to speak Eyllwe, because the King of Adarlan does not believe in diplomatics, but in swords and in the display of power.
As already mentioned, Celaena's special abilities are numerous and her knowledge is vast. I attribute these facts to her almost magical grasp on time management: In a very short time she has her fighting, spying, running, targeting, poison sniffing and observing skills honed to their former unsurpassable glory by doing sit-ups in her room, sparring outside and running a few laps now and then. Simultaneously she naps, stuffs herself with as much food as she can and spends her entire spare time reading herself through the royal library while idly lounging on her balcony. Still there is enough time left for competition meetings, clothes fittings, afternoon hours with the princess and nightly expeditions through the castle’s ancient hidden passages, which certainly, yet to the reader’s complete surprise, start right behind a meaningful tapestry in Celaena’s heavily guarded apartment and carry a whiff of magic and destiny with them, which I do not want to elaborate upon.
Luckily, Celaena does not need to set aside time slots to practice playing the pianoforte. A short foray into some of her former favourite pieces shows that she has lost nothing of her prodigy-like techniques and means of musical expression.
Unlike the above mentioned heroine of Grave Mercy Celaena could hold her own in the company of anybody at any table – highest to lowest - , for her manners including table manners are impeccable – but only if she chooses to make use of them, she says. When she nourishes herself in her suite with Chaol watching her, she prefers showing off her skills in chewing und slurping full-mouthed, open-snouted pig-style, which mysteriously seems to make her more exotic and delectable in the eyes of her male trainer.
The process of heartily inserting food reminds me of Celaena’s favoured method of extracting it again. Boy, can that maid vomit. She "heaves and heaves", when she is exhausted or afraid, when she had breakfast, when she has her moontime. And she does it with gusto and bile in finely tuned archs right where she is – she has a waiting woman who cleans up after her after all – one who had the impertinence to call her out on her arrogance and her habit of admiring herself in the mirror for longer bits of time.
But who would be entitled to being a tiny bit arrogant and show-offy if not she? Even after a year of handling nothing else than a pick-axe Celaena knows that she is the best archer, the best climber, the best knife thrower, the best sword wielder, the best runner, the nimblest fist fighter, the second best poison sniffer, the most intelligent planner, the cutest grinner, the one travelled widest and, and, and without checking out the runners up. Her name is universally known and feared, her education had been costly – though forced on her. So, what if lying low first for the sake of gaining the weapon of surprise is something she simply is not really capable of? Every perfect heroine – even the very most capable one - needs a flaw. Right? And the habit of admiring the cute enemies’ butts to block out waves of mortal fear in a death trial does not truly count.
So, why, in the Wyrdmarks’ name, am I too bored to continue reading after having covered 65% of my Kindle copy? Who is to blame for that dust-layered feeling of draggerishness if not our rise-and-shine hyper-good, hyper-pure, hyper-seductive, probably hyper-magical and hyper-accomplished-in-general murderess-for-hire? I am open to suggestions, but I won’t listen to those trying to shove prequels and sequels and other literary masterpieces under my nose, which I supposedly have to study first before being apt enough to appreciate Throne of Glass. (less)
'The tech is safer now ... It can change how a person acts and thinks.' I tell him about what Cormac said about isolating problem areas in the strand...more'The tech is safer now ... It can change how a person acts and thinks.' I tell him about what Cormac said about isolating problem areas in the strand and splicing new material into an individual's thread. I vividly remember the awe I felt when I was watching 'The Matrix' for the first time. Although it puzzled my mind with questions like 'How can virtual procreatic activity result in a real baby? Do the machines manufacture an embryo when a couple living in the Matrix stops using condoms?' or 'How do the human bodies produce more energy than the upkeep of the huge living apparatus swallows?' I was easily lulled into believing it might be possible and I was only missing a clue. It all sounded so convincing that I had the uncomfortable urge to double-check my own reality against the frightening idea of it being nothing more than a clever illusion.
Reading 'Crewel' was nothing like that. I was feeling something close to awe - but only for myself, because I managed to stay on board past the 70% mark of my Kindle.
Also is 'believable' a term that I would never, ever associate with this woven-world setting. In fact until approximately 36% I had convinced that I was dealing with a fantasy novel set in a fantastic totalitarian world unlike our own. The notion that 'Crewel' could take place on post-apocalyptic Earth never crossed my mind and comes to the formerly ignorant heroine as a surprise revelation, too.
But not only the heroine, the whole population of 'Arras' is unrealistically docile, content and easy to control - without being held in check by threats (the rulers have ridiculously easy means to change people's minds same as they have means to adapt their appearance or their environment: Removing, replacing or repairing threads on a loom is just a matter of seconds for a capable and virtuous weaveress after all). The information that someone living in the neighborhood has to report in for being rewoven is processed among the citizens with slight unease, but does not cause boosts of fear or resentment; same as being claimed by the government to become a glamorous but secluded and never-to-be-seen-again spinster, who weaves reality and features in the yellow press, equals being selected to participate in a beauty or talent TV show today: The 'lucky' person does not really know what participation entails, but it will make her famous - so what?
And thus I have mentioned my two most annoying aspects of the story (I will not talk about the unlikable characters, the overflow of mean girls or the love-quadruple in this review. Things like that are definitely of matter of taste. I am concentrating on the lack of logic and believability here.): The spinsters' and the creweler's way of weaving the world (view spoiler)[as a layer on top of the real, but catastrophically destroyed world (hide spoiler)] on a couple of looms and the spinsters' paradoxic position between having to remain pure, untainted women, who are idolized for their gift of creating the whole world with their hands like a virgin Mary would be for creating a foetus without male input, on the one hand, and serving as seductive geishas to the needs of leery senators at administrative functions on the other:
Weaving the world on a loom: A loom, as I am able to imagine it, is - however large an industrial one gets to be - a device that produces something two-dimensional. Usually threads go in two directions and can consist of multiple fine fibres. Really intricately woven or not - in contrast to cloth reality as we know it is a three-dimensional thing. In 'Crewel' there are rooms and rooms full of looms, large and small, wooden and metallic, and each of it supposedly holds something big and complex like a whole city. A handful of connected strands can represent (or rather be) a school-building and ripping a single thread with a sharp object before it grows thin and unravels naturally can mean ending someone's life. How all the cloths of those unconnected looms form one seamless country, how people are able to walk around although their position is fixed firmly between two other threads, how specially gifted heroine Adelice is able to see and manipulate the threads of time and matter without a loom when she is part of the world - and suddenly the walls of a room consist of more 'wool' than a whole district -, how the Coventry itself has to be a cloth on a loom that contains other looms, how people are able to grow grain on field that has been created by the Creweler, who plans how many ponds to put where in order to feed the population with fish, and how zooming in at a loom is possible, when nothing sounding remotely digital is mentioned, does not get addressed at all during the first three quarters of the story I more or less patiently endured. At one point the Creweler reveals some crucial information concerning the planet's past, its physical matter and some clever inventor who found a way to shape it, but she did not solve the urgent, logical dilemma described above.
Women, spinsters, sexuality and creativity: Almost right from go there is a kind of inconsistency in the position and the behavior expected from women that made it obvious to me that the author wanted the reader to notice something is off in the gender department, something that might have been different or even better at some point in the times proceeding the plot. Still, to me things were that unbelievably strange, that I had to shake my head in disbelieve instead of employing it in contemplation: Young males and females live completely separate lives. There are even districts for couples with female offspring and districts for families who have born boys. Each girl has to stay pure until she becomes a spinster or is matched to her future husband. In spite of that the art of brightly colored, seductive facial make-up and attire is deemed to be extremely important to acquire. Adelice's mother, for instance, who has a husband and absolutely no say in who she wants to be with, spends some time in front of her mirror reach morning because an atttractively painted face pleases her boss. Gifted girls are a commodity. They are unceremoneously fetched from their homes and put through a process that assesses the strength of their abilities. Although refusing would not be an option anyhow they are pampered by personal assistants and make-up artists, showered with beautiful clothes, good food and media attention. And even though the common opinion is that only virgin women can do the weaving or the creweling necessary for survival, Arrras' senators traditionally order very young spinsters to accompany them to official banquets and state functions as arm candy and as bed warmers, too. Apart from my irritation concerning how women have managed to stay the bottom feeders in a society that completely depends on their special work (view spoiler)[Creweler Lorciel's answer at 67%: Women are easy to control. (hide spoiler)], I wondered why the rulers did not think of setting aside especially attractive girls to form a caste of pleasure givers and assign a supposed importance to those working in the sexual sector, instead of 'wasting' their country's future creators, guarantors of nourishment and housing, on their personal gratification and risking the population's wrath. In addition our little creweling star, who describes herself as shy, goes from being ignorant, timid and naive to behaving brazen, saucy and confident in rocket time. Such a character twist is not a beautiful thing to behold.
At the point at which I stopped reading signs of rebellious activity have started to manifest; and I suppose not far ahead there will be a big gender-related bang (view spoiler)[My guess is both purity and gender do not matter at all to do the weaving. (hide spoiler)] and a revelation of someone evil purposefully drawing the 'strings' tight to keep everybody in line. But that will definitely be too late for me. The train that would have had the power of turning me into a believer has left the station long ago.
So. Please weave a better setting next time, Ms. Albin. And do make the basic concept water-tight. If not, I am not willing to try on one of your hip, dystopian garments again. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Another book that has to go unfinished (after 108 pages).
In the beginning I had a good feeling. Although the characters behaved a little anachronistic...moreAnother book that has to go unfinished (after 108 pages).
In the beginning I had a good feeling. Although the characters behaved a little anachronistically, which is completely alright for a fantasy novel set in an alternative version of an existing region, I liked them and I enjoyed the lush and exotic scenery - the food, the fabric, the means of transport. The 'problems' started with the onset of the road trip plot: The heroine flees an arranged marriage to an old, rich pervert and goes to search for her disappeared father outfitted with just one magical protection amulet, some food and a small bundle of clothes. After a few stops - the heroine gets permanently attacked by mythical creatures and accosted by sex-hungry geezers - I surmised the following:
The novel turned into something like a passive role playing game, where you press the 'fight button' and the game does the rest: All the moves, all the talk, all the staying fit and out of reach. The heroine had by pure chance read a book about supernatural monsters before leaving her home and can thus identify them, when they attack. But even that is not really necessary for the plot, for the multi-talented protection amulet immediately starts doing what it is meant to do : Smashing beasts and demons around, whacking potential rapists to pulp etc. After that the heroine cleans her clothes, rests her body and licks her wounds. Until the next incident.