*** Abandoned around 48%. *** He held himself like someone who'd spent his life in the military. And she knew what military men liked. “I didn't know y...more*** Abandoned around 48%. *** He held himself like someone who'd spent his life in the military. And she knew what military men liked. “I didn't know you were expecting me.” Renna used her best seductive voice. [...] Men were always so easy to read. [...] Gods, she hated working with other women. They were always so catty and competitive. Always so ready to stab you in the back if it meant getting ahead.
Sometimes I enjoy switching on my Kindle to buy a random, but recommended title on a complete whim. That's why I try to keep my paper TBR pile rather low. Having to sweep my eyes guiltily across a mountain of brand-new paperbacks when snuggling up with a spontaneous purchase kills half of the carefree fun. Futuristically flavored spaceship stuff has always held an inexplicably strong appeal for me, and a bit of boy-girl-electricity - if not overbearing - added to the mix is almost always appreciated. Therefore the enthusiastic review of Emily May, whose opinions I value highly, reeled me unto Amazon's shores with a juicy snap.
I eagerly started reading and found out quickly, that the world-building is unspectacular, but alright. Beam me up Scotty, if the weapons, vehicles and alien anatomies do not sound boringly startrekky: 'Heliolights', 'gamma particle stabilizers', 'nanotech spanners', 'radiowings', 'sonic screwdrivers' and 'magnacrafts'. Uhuh. That's cool sounding stuff, but it merely adds a thin sci-fi sheen to a more or less familiar high-class-thief setting. The setting is not the only thing that feels painted-on: “The smell of raw silk from his dark uniform making her take a step back. [...] The smell off starfuel, machinery, and space filled her lungs.”
I admit, I understand where Emily May's relieved gushing concerning the heroine's unrestrained use of her own body, her feeling at home in her physical shell, and her making the most of her feminine effect on guys comes from. All that usual focus on naive, timid and pure virgins in the need to be conquered, taught and saved grates on one's nerves pretty quickly. But I do not enjoy this 'liberated' shot at gender stereotyping more: All men are simple and quickly relieved of their innermost secrets, when a waterfall of thick and shiny hair (I cannot stand one single flick of the heroine's glorious ponytail more), a carefully window-dressed pair of boobs or a sultry voice is used to prod their explosive libido into action. In addition, men are always quickly hurt in their pride, being male equals being unconcerned about hygiene or the lack thereof in one's abode, and it means being able to differentiate work from private relationships. The crew of the 'November' consists only of men in order to do a kidnapping job properly without staff members being swayed by guilt or compassion for a victim young enough to be their kid. Naturally, their women-free vessel stinks and is in disarray, Renna notes with haughty disdain. On the other hand she does not like to work with other women, because they are all "catty and competitive" (compare quote on top).
"Sleeping with the chief engineer of the V’Mani Electrical Company had been one of her better decisions." / "With a sigh Renna followed Viktis from the ship. Good thing she’d washed her sexy underwear." I do not judge Renna for exchanging sexual favors for crucial information or access to her targets' inner sancti and I congratulate her for being able to feel pleasure even when encountering a stranger's naked body is mainly part of her business strategy, but I resent her conviction that because of male simplicity physical seduction is a foolproof method (Luckily at least MYTH leader Dallas seems to be unimpressed, which makes her saloon girl antics look rather silly and pitiful) and that she needs to employ it to keep that final edge, which others in her line of work do not have enough spunk or guts or sexiness to allow themselves to gain. Also I do not get why she is so angry about being called a whore. Her sexuality is a commodity she is quick to barter with. Women in the Star Thief universe do not maintain their shape to feel good but to get their way. To use a second example, Mary, the 'Athena's' on-board cook had been a mercenary in her youth, too, but after her husband's death and her switch from thief to kitchen staff she has allowed her body to go overweight and matronly - apparently she has no use for feminine weaponry anymore.
Even as the genre is concerned I differ with Emily and the majority of readers shelving the book. Renna is only 23 years old, but if plot wasn't relying so heavily on her body as a currency and a means to trick men to part with their brains and their secrets, she could as well be 50. She is very, very experienced and sought after in her profession, she knows the other players in her field and she speaks of immediate retirement plans more than just once. Therefore I would never label her story as New Adult fiction. I consider 'The Star Thief' as a standard example of romance-tinged scifi told from a female point of view. Most female romance heroines are in their twenties - whether they populate chicklit, historical bodice-busters or paranormal romance. New Adult to me means first job (uni time counts as well), first live-in partner or flat-mate, first attempts at being an independent adult. (Still, notwithstanding Renna's abundant experience and professionality she is trusting enough to let a very shady scientist with a murky agenda tamper with her broken brain implant. What if he installed a bomb, a tracker, something that makes her sense impulses which aren't real? Apparently even the best can be mightily stupid.)
I have not mentioned the love interest yet, which is probably unforgivable in a scifi romance review. Well, I have to say that after reading almost half of the book I have not learned much about the icy-eyed, well-muscled Hunter/Finn. It is obvious from the first encounter that apart from sexual tension there is a huge misunderstanding wedged between the former gang mates concerning who betrayed whom. And when that is cleared away, which is just a matter of time, everything will be peachy and the lacy underwear and the flexible, bulletproof spiderman-nano-schmano-suits will be ripped off under an ultra-violet dry-shower or in a starfuel tank.
'The Star Thief' has ‘self-published material’ written all over it. It shows a desperate need to be cleansed of annoying repetitions and ballast and turning-arounds-in-circles: Twice Renna is ultra-angry and shocked about the revelation that the rescue mission at the beginning had been just a test to assess her abilities. (”You mean you used this kid as a frakking test for me?” she snarled. / ”Was Myka's rescue a test?” Dallas nodded.) and I haven’t really counted how often she blathers about “a girl” and her need of "morals": A girl had to have her morals, but that line was getting further and further away the more he touched her. / But a girl had to have her principles, and slavery didn't fit into her moral code. / A girl had to have her morals, but where should she draw the line? *Sigh*. A girl has to have some stamina, but, I, personally, drew the line at 48% percent.
A less important side remark: I always thought that self-publishing meant being in charge of many things a traditional publisher otherwise decides without consulting you. Therefore I am very irritated that the cover girl looks so porcelain-dollish in spite of the heroine being in the possession of coffee-colored complexion.
Obviously, Renna and her adventures were not for me. But I am sure there are still some spaceship romps out that that do match my taste. Titles I loved were 'Startide Rising' by David Brin and 'Song of Scarabaeus' by Sara Creasy (both in the adult section). Can you recommend similar titles to me? I am curious about 'On Basilisk Station' by David Weber, ‘Perdition’ by Ann Aguirre and 'The Apollo Academy' by Kimberly P. Chase – although the latter is probably pretty chicklitty. (less)
This satirical approach to explaining the principle of shopping and spending money on superfluous things to children - a "picture book" that makes do...moreThis satirical approach to explaining the principle of shopping and spending money on superfluous things to children - a "picture book" that makes do almost without pictures - is so hilarious that I had tears streaming down my face. I consider it a real gem, because I discovered it accidentally in the library.
Here are some treats for you, quotes, loosely translated from the German original cardboard edition:
"When you step out of your door there are a lot of shops waiting for you to enter. The whole world is a shop. [...] Shopping is costly. Therefore your parents give pocket money to you. Please count diligently: How much money have you got? Now compare: How much has your sister got? Your best friend?" [...] More pocket money equals more buying power, which means more work and more secure jobs – even for your parents. If your parents won’t listen to you, speak to grandma and granddad or other relatives!”
“The 10 Golden Rules: 1. Shopping is important. 2. Don’t let anything stop you: Your wishes count. 3. Always take enough money with you. 4. Avoid shops with unfriendly clerks. 5. When you like something: Buy it. 6. If you have doubts: Buy it anyway! 7. Don’t wear used clothes. Buy new ones. 8. Don’t accept self-made presents. 9. Buy things your friends can’t afford. 10. Insist that you are allowed to shop on Sundays*.”
Isn’t it utterly delightful? I thought it was almost as entertaining as some reviews by outraged parents who took the experiment published by a well-known art publisher seriously and bought a copy to enlighten their offspring.
“… 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)
Gosh, that rampant cow and her friends - including the farm lady - are so cute. I love all those tiny details like the chicken who secretly reads in t...moreGosh, that rampant cow and her friends - including the farm lady - are so cute. I love all those tiny details like the chicken who secretly reads in the hen coup or the tiny TV antenna on the bird house roof. I bought this volume for my niece, but I think I have to own at least one of Lieselotte's adventures myself.(less)
***4.5 stars, because of that Curran thing. I have been as well entertained as I expected spending time with Kate Daniels, but his behavior annoyed me...more***4.5 stars, because of that Curran thing. I have been as well entertained as I expected spending time with Kate Daniels, but his behavior annoyed me to bits. ***(less)
"Don't you see? Those monsters you've been so worried about. Not aliens. People. The monsters have always been people."
What a thrilling ride to Centau...more"Don't you see? Those monsters you've been so worried about. Not aliens. People. The monsters have always been people."
What a thrilling ride to Centauri-Earth and back! Not counting the hours I slept and I had breakfast I read the final volume of Beth Revis' Goodspeed trilogy in one go. I enjoyed it a lot more than the second volume - of which I don't remember much apart from that the heroine had been running against time through the spaceship like a Wonderland rabbit on Speed with literary classics in her hand, because she had to solve riddle after riddle but no chance to think about them. It seems to me that the haste and the suspense did not allow for much else besides.
'Shades of Earth' on the other hand would work brilliantly as a movie because of its richness. I imagine it as a cross between 'Avatar', 'Jurrassic Park', 'Alien', 'Moon' and 'The City of Ember'. There is a just-in-time-crash-avoiding landing of the space shuttle, there are prehistorical seeming flesh-eating monsters, deathly flowers, a fighteningly high body-count Beth, I kind of got angry at you when Kit got murdered while I desperately hoped for that racist pig of a father to bite the dust in a painful way , hints at alien, but humanoid habitation, there are unbalanced fights for leadership, there is a deliberate use of known and unknown weapons, there is a food shortage and an engine fail on the Goodspeed, there is even a rather well-done love-triangle I admit its introduction made sense: Amy always wondered if she would have fallen for a different boy if there had been sane alternatives to Elder on the Goodspeed to choose from, there is romance, there is sex, there are several people that can or cannot be trusted, there is greedy corporate behavior, a severe daughter-father and a less severe daughter-mother conflict and a too large bunch of unfrozen specialists, who do not listen to or show the faintest interest in the crew that expertly kept them alive for centuries, but treat the "shipborn" (always spelled with a minuscle s in contrast to the "Earthborn" written with a capital E) as if they were impersonating Christopher Columbus' reincarnations with a master's degree in Degrading Supposedly Imbecile Primitives who are facing their first opponents.
If your initial Across the Universe-caused enthusiasm had - like mine - been waning a little bit while reading A Million Suns, I suggest to ignore that slight sense of deflation and to read Shades of Earth anyway. You will be rewarded with an awesomely entertaining end of a teenage space saga.
P.S.: Beth, what are you writing next? I am up to another adrenalin overdose.(less)
Whitley Johnson is definitely not me, nor have I ever been her. I used to feel out of place at most High School parties I attended, when all my friend...moreWhitley Johnson is definitely not me, nor have I ever been her. I used to feel out of place at most High School parties I attended, when all my friends were drunk and sprouting nonsensial things, while I mentally steeled myself to dodge puke fountains left and right. And although I more or less hated her most of our teenage years, I worried myself to pieces when my sister partied in one of the bars in the neighboring village and stayed over at places of friends of whom I hadn't heard before.
But Whitley's story was so excellently narrated that all the right buttons activated themselves in me. The murky depths of small town poison, a persistently growing sisterly bond, a wonderful, edgy romance featuring a nice but definitely unboring hottie and superficial, far from perfect parents handing their teenaged offspring unthinkingly a private little hell to deal with and believing everything is peachy after muttering a half-hearted "Munchkin, I'm so sorry."
Heavens, I guess, I haven't sobbed so much about a book since reading 'The Murder Of Bindy Mackenzie', and I am afraid to inspect my bloated, tear-streaked face in the mirror. Yet, I have to, because the shower is getting impatient to meet me and lunch isn't a bad idea either. I had so much plans for my day off, but a quick peek at the first chapter did me in, *doublesigh*.(less)