How can you not love a huge, white, teethy and altogether fluffy monster named Prima, who roars, but dances around on much too dainty paws clad in sat...moreHow can you not love a huge, white, teethy and altogether fluffy monster named Prima, who roars, but dances around on much too dainty paws clad in satiny pink ballet slippers?(less)
Eine einfache Geschichte mit knuffigen Illustrationen und komplizierten Wörtern und Formulierungen: Unter anderem bevölkert diese Geschichte "Kurt" (K...moreEine einfache Geschichte mit knuffigen Illustrationen und komplizierten Wörtern und Formulierungen: Unter anderem bevölkert diese Geschichte "Kurt" (Kung), ein "deutscher Marienkäfter mit chinesischem Migrationshintergrund". Bei manchen Bilderbüchern bin ich mir hinsichtlich der Zielgruppe überhaupt nicht klar. Empfohlen ab 5 Jahren? Vielleicht, wenn man den Text mit eigenen Worten neu erfindet - oder ein Miniatur-Sprachgenie zuhause hat.(less)
*** 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 of 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)
He faced her then, arms folded across his chest. 'I have no time for games.' The tips of his fingers had black rings of charcoal dust buried under th...moreHe faced her then, arms folded across his chest. 'I have no time for games.' The tips of his fingers had black rings of charcoal dust buried under the nail and into the cuticle. 'I have work to do.' 'Not if I say you don't.' He turned away. 'I like to finish what I start.' He gave her the look she recognised well, the one of measured disdain. [...] 'Where do you propose we play?' He swept a hand around the forge. 'Here?' 'My rooms.' [...] He leaned against the anvil considering. 'Your sitting room will do. I'll come when I've finished this sword. After all I have house privileges now. Might as well use them.'
*** This review contains spoilers for the first third. *** I am so angry - mostly at myself - and as deflated as a balloon after a kiddie party in summer. Because I blatantly ignored all the lovely, thoroughly reviewed and dissected titles waiting to be purchased on my wish list since forever, quite spontaneously preordered a novel I practically knew nothing about in hardcover, and did not cancel that mistake after reading the chapters that are cockily offered as a sneak preview for Kindle - even though those left me pretty unimpressed. Sometimes all the rational things that lead to choosing a book matching my taste fly out of a hidden window in my brain.
The preorder 'happened' after an early review by a friend, who compared the book to 'Darkness Shows the Stars', which I adored. She also mentioned another title, which I did not enjoy. But I stupidly chose to be deaf on that ear. After ordering I read the sample chapters with my book-taste buds screaming 'ordinary' and 'jerk-alert-level-3' at me. Unfortunately to no avail, because by then Kristin Cashore, whose Seven-Kingdoms-books I really love, had posted a glowing blog entry in a foreboding defense of her blurb. Yes, Rutkoski was her friend, but 'The Winner's Curse' was “wonderfully excellently super-good“ etcetera, etcetera. Obviously it was me, I guessed. I failed to see the sparkle that would ignite the book after chapter 5. The preorder remained in my account, rubbing its greedy hands. And I have to say that I really believe Cashore - and Aguirre - think their colleague's story to be “masterfully plotted“ and “beautifully written“. But if I admit what good marketing triggers in me in spite of my carefully honed purchasing rules stacked around me, maybe they should admit, that friendship probably made them unable to judge impartially. It usually does.
So, I fetched the eagerly awaited book out of my postbox, dug in and ... made it until page 104 - with difficulty.
Heavens, I was bored, so very bored and indignant, too. Why? Let's see:
- There has been gushing going on concerning the world-building. What world-building? It's a standard fantasy world with neighboring countries divided by a body at water at war. Like, i.e., when the Spaniards made a grab for Granada/the Alhambra, the nation with the upper hand, the Valorians, is the one with the inferior culture. They have no music, they have almost no literature and their army's victory depended on a premature surrender of the enemy, who is now enslaved, bound to serve the victors in their former homes, and certainly waiting for a chance to turn the tables. There is some talk about dresses, pianos, sitting rooms, chaperones, horses, lawn parties and - certainly human breeding rules (those make this almost 'dystopian', he?), which state that some girls/all girls/whoever has to do her part for her country's survival either by marrying and popping out puppies at a fixed point in their lives or join the army (Isn't that combination of choices superduperoriginal? Going all house-wifey or going all Amazone? Sprinkle it a bit with grand ideas like music-is-for-the-lower-classes and you've got yourself an “exquisite worldbuilding“ ( Kirkus Review).
- At least during the first third not much is happening. Although I enjoy thrilling books there are several examples among my favorites, which are slow or whimsical and concentrating mainly on a character or even on words or ideas. I didn't notice much extraordinarity about the writing. And as the characters are concerned ...
-- Kestrel displays right in the beginning chapter that she can distinguish between fake jewelry and real gems. But it is also made known to the reader that she is aware of market place politics, empty social standards like the necessity to go out chaperoned and probably her nation's much more complex prerequisites to keep on going in prosperity, too. She later successfully makes a deal with her father, because she offers to contribute her talent to strategize to the military (“Her father gave her a level look. 'Your military strength has never been in combat. […] You’re a strategist.'“). Apparently she is sharp-minded enough to be the designated winner in the board game favored in High Society (“Kestrel especially liked it when they cheated. It made beating them not quite so easy.”) and to keep the greedy bride-seekers at bay. But all these fine examples crumble like theatre props when we get to observe the girl in action: She is suddenly too dense to notice how letting her young, spontaneously acquired and physically attractive slave rudely walk all over her in public might be interpreted by her gossip- and power-hungry peers. (Btw, I remember reading reviews that proudly pointed out the book's lack of insta-love. Hmm. It's not mutual, no. But at the very least there is an insanely amount of insta-curiosity and - rather unforgivable for someone supposedly cunning - insta-trust.)
-- Arin is that sort of undercover spy/rebel, who cannot see that blending in and going with the flow would keep him off the radar and therefore in business. Luckily his condescending display of superiority inexplicably strikes a chord in his new mistress, who does not punish him for speaking up against her friend at a social call, but books his services until further notice, allows him to roam the city ('I want the priviledges of a house slave.' 'They are yours.' 'And the right to visit the city on my own. Just once in a while.' ) and is interested in hearing his opinion while losing at board games against him. Wow, Arin-My-Name-Is-Not-Smith would do well as the upper jerk in a High School romance. All the other slave girls have the hots for him and he just has to smirk and be haughty to get lonely and misunderstood Kestrel blabbing about her war-lord-dad's weaknesses and her own shortcomings. My guess is that in spite of the implausibility of his actions the jerk-affine crowd cannot help but swoon at his feet in a puddle of happy goo. The stellar average ratings will easily be maintained on a permanent basis.
-- Forget about the rest of the cast: There is an autocratic, cold-hearted father, an opportunistic steward, a fluffy-brained best friend, whose simplicity enhances Kestrel's intelligence, a harmlessly cute admirer, a still-attached nurse and mother-replacement, an evil, influencial upper-class prick, market people, slaves, rebels and a whole gaggle of unimportant folks in fashionable attire (see cover), but - at least during the first 100 pages - they merely provide the fairy lights for Kestrel's and Arin's drama about smitten ladies led on a tight leash by brooding wannabe-slaves.
Enough. In my book boring means bad. I don't want to bore you more than necessary to illustrate my stance. And, as you surely know, being bored by what and being bored easily or not are individual reactions and traits. Should the quote on top have activated your inner swoon mode, please go ahead, gorge yourself with sexy haughtiness and do not mind my peculiar opinion.
*** Beware! This comment-turned-into-review contains a spoiler *** I can imagine how 'The Vanishing Moment' would appeal to readers who are less wimpy...more*** Beware! This comment-turned-into-review contains a spoiler *** I can imagine how 'The Vanishing Moment' would appeal to readers who are less wimpy than I am, considering the beautiful writing, the multiple POVs and the crafty way those three stories run into one.
But, as I am concerned, the story is too realistic and thus much too bleak and dark. My heart doesn't survive an overdose of shitty parents.
And in this particular case the shittiness in the parental department came in 3D (no, 4D, actually) and in colour - even though there were differences: Bob and Fergus had it worst. They practically lived in hell without anybody noticing.
In addition, no magically realistic candy solution can lure me into feeling cushioned when one of the main characters I've come to respect or care for is wiped out and makes my poor heart drop. (view spoiler)[ To me a dead person remains a dead person even if another self of him or her lives a better life in a parallel universe/existence. I don't feel the consolation - at all. (hide spoiler)]
'The Vanishing Moment' belongs to the good-but-too-hopeless-and-too-depressing category. I was certainly invested, but I did not enjoy being the recipient of this multifoldedly sad tale. Even to upset to shed a tear, I guess.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
*** Abandoned after reading 11% of the e-version ***
I honestly do not understand where these tons and tons of positive reviews and ratings come from....more*** Abandoned after reading 11% of the e-version ***
I honestly do not understand where these tons and tons of positive reviews and ratings come from.
I started rolling my eye so fast after deciding to give the book a try, because the heroine, who outs herself to be "trouble" and bored to pieces and desperate to leave her sleepy, coastal town, is (surprise, surprise!) such a secretly talented photographer, such a good friend and such a delectable girl - the love interest spends one minute with her and decides to lengthen his stay considerably in order to shower regularly in her gruff comments, cold looks and bad practical jokes - and her so-called trouble is a home-made cover-sticker procduced to lure in readers (view spoiler)[Well, probably there will be some tear-jerker-style unfairness revealed around 80% or so that partly justifies her friend's mother's hatred of her, I am sure (hide spoiler)]. I do not buy her personality, I do not buy her attraction, I do not buy the initial coincidence (postcard incident) and I do not buy the overblown side-characters.
I should probably stick to digging out low-average-rating gems (i.e. The Sharp Time or Bumped) out of the Goodreads mud instead of following the trail of unhinged gushers that beckons and glistens and promises.
Well. This attemps came free of costs.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
*** 2.5 stars *** Do you see those 2.5 stars? They do not mean I did not like the book. The chunk (or half star) missing to label this a perfectly alr...more*** 2.5 stars *** Do you see those 2.5 stars? They do not mean I did not like the book. The chunk (or half star) missing to label this a perfectly alright and recommendable apocalyptic read got unexpectedly lost during my perusal of “Part 2”.
I really enjoyed the writing, especially Daisy’s genuine voice. Sometimes I even thought that she talked a little like I do – stringing too many words together to clumsily form a noun, for instance. And her complete lack of worry at the beginning of the – far away – bombings and water poisonings in the promising light of a task-free and adult-free (view spoiler)[ - Aunt Penn is stuck in Oslo when the international airports are closed, but manages to give the kids access to her local bank account - (hide spoiler)] almost-holidays with her cousins felt refreshingly realistic for a fifteen-years-old heroine, who has just fallen in love for the first time.
Unlike some other not quite satisfied readers I did not see anything icky or strange in cousins entering a sexual relationship. I have married first cousins among both my relatives and my friends. I rather got a bit anxious because all the talk of rampant sex never ever included any means of contraception. (view spoiler)[Later Daisy explains that her anorexia had put an end to her bleeding. But until then I unconsciously held my breath for an announcement of an undernourished baby to be born out in the woods. (hide spoiler)]
The big obstacle shadowing my path of enjoyment was the following: The believable war time scenario featuring the British military pocketing usable buildings and spreading rumors, terror and chaos in the name of the greater good changed into something rather bizarre with one single telephone call at the end of “Part 1”, which was quickly succeeded by unexplained events happening at lightening speed and an awkwardly dumped blob of passed time that culminated in a knotted bundle of stickily bittersweet soul-mate melodrama. Rating down seemed to be the inevitable consequence. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)