Even 99 Cents were too much. That childishly, whiny fashionista girl and those two manga-style pseudo incubi (a slimy one with wandering hands and anEven 99 Cents were too much. That childishly, whiny fashionista girl and those two manga-style pseudo incubi (a slimy one with wandering hands and an androgynous, black-clad, smirking bad-bad-boy with burgundy tresses in braids. Ugh.) Those first chapters make do with minimal world building, but fill the blanks with brooding hotness and icky closeness and other self-publishing highlights....more
I have read more than half of this self-published human-robot-romance-I-wanna-be-a-romantic-thriller-desaster that declares it has been professionallyI have read more than half of this self-published human-robot-romance-I-wanna-be-a-romantic-thriller-desaster that declares it has been professionally edited, but makes the plain mistake of informing the reader twice about the same thing right in the first chapter.
The worst is the character inconsistency. Or ... no, the cheesiness ... no, the lack of believable plot, .... or, the evil, evil bad guys. I don't know. Everything appears to be unbelievably unfinished, unplanned, childish, raw. I do not think this is worth the already cheap price that is demanded for it. No. ...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 y*** 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. ...more
Far from perfect, but unexpectedly smooth to read (My last update: "For something independently published it's actually quite nice. There are some logFar from perfect, but unexpectedly smooth to read (My last update: "For something independently published it's actually quite nice. There are some logic glitches and some parts when the plot drags, but a lot of romantic scifi by major publishing houses has them, too. I am honestly thinking about buying volume 2 (2.99 EUR for Kindle)....more
*** Some things I am going to say might be counted as spoilers if one believes that a romance like this offers a selection of potential outcomes inste*** Some things I am going to say might be counted as spoilers if one believes that a romance like this offers a selection of potential outcomes instead of just one. *** At nineteen Anna was more self-confidant* than most of the girls she knew at her age. It wasn't because she was pretty, although she was. [...] Anna's self-confidence however had nothing to do with the good looks she seemed unaware of and stemmed entirely from her friendship with Lindsay. [...] She realized that if Lindsay could see the positives in her, they had to actually be there. Palim-palim. WRONG! This is a case of a foolish, practically life-long crush on a utterly worthless recipient that made the poor guy see everything around her in a heavily photoshopped blur of softness and peachy colors. But later more about this. (*spelling according to the Kindle edition)
Apart from the obvious risk that presents itself by buying self-published fiction by an unknown author "This Christmas" offered so much potential to become just the novel I needed at the end of last December: It is YA contemporary fiction (don't focus on the main characters' NA-compatible ages. I guess, they are already 19 and 20 because the story wouldn't work if they still lived at home during the school year. They act very, very young, and hints at their respective past affairs do not firmly exclude sex, but they also do not really manage to diffuse the permanating air of immaturity surrounding the awkward couple), it has a romantic plot that happens around Christmas time (I love those - theoretically, when I manage to find one that isn't too silly), it deals with childhood friends on the brink of falling for each other (one side is as obvious as it gets, the other side doesn't do love, but has a fortnight-rule for her own romantic involvements copied from her mother's misunderstood set of attachment rules) and it is supposed to be written in a point of view that swings back and forth between her and him (I would have enjoyed that, but the reality of the undecided, unfocused points of view in this book made me feel nauseous, because I never knew in whose head of the cast I might land next and how much insight the narrator would randomly choose to grant me this time).
Alas, the hoped for pleasure was not to be, partly because of the bad writing, the too obvious ending, really stupid parts in the setting and - high above everything else - Anna. Anna is a regular pain in the ass.
I concur: Whether you deserve to be loved should not depend on your IQ or your attention span. But showing a deficit in both does not necessarily result in being hazardous to other people's possessions and well-being. Bubbly and blond college student Anna is already out in the hall with her luggage when she spontaneously invites her rich and Hawaii-bound roommate Danielle to accompany her home for the Christmas holidays in her family's snow-coated manor house. She doesn't think of informing Danielle about the many pets that will rush at her without restraint, she doesn't tell her that she, her mom and her brother share a house and a household with another family - a platonic friend of her mother's and his daughter and sons, and she doesn't spend a second on the fact that she will have to entertain her guest and spend some time with her, which she would otherwise have used differently. No. She laughs and dances and smiles mischievously until she is irritated and pretty jealous and wishes Danielle to vanish into thin air. Anna is so brazenly oblivious to other people's needs and feelings, and so utterly uninterested in the well-being of everybody but herself that it hurts. She is constantly pouting, throwing herself at someone's neck, borrowing stuff without asking, shrieking indignantly or ratting someone out on a sudden whim. She is clueless, brainless, naive and immature and so beautiful and charismatic, that spending much thought on clothing or much time on basic personal hygiene (i.e. Anna is a toothbrush borrower) is completely unnecessary. Usually her friends - especially Lindsay - love her unconditionally anyway and quickly forgive and forget everything that the destructive tornado called Anna has left in her wake. Lindsay's disappointment is only short-lived even when Anna leaves a party using the beloved truck he had been saving an eternity for, bumps into every tree and mailbox on the way home and parks it on the summit of a huge pile of horse dung: "Are you quiet because you are too mad to talk or because everything is fine and you feel silly for over reacting*?" she asked. [...] Lindsay threw himself back into the couch cushions. [...] "Anna, what were you thinking? I mean, it's not just the truck ... although, uh! It's my truck! And you put like three dents in the bumper! But, you just left without saying anything! I looked all over for you, I was worried." Taken aback [...] Anna began to stammer, "I'm sorry ... I just needed to get out of there [...]." It has to be pointed out that after this "talk" Anna tries to borrow the truck a second time, but luckily Lindsay has put his keys out of her reach just in case. (*spelling according to the Kindle edition)
Never have I encountered a heroine as vapid and unconcerned as Anna. She has the attention span of a baby squirrel and gets distracted by everything. I my opinion Anna suffers from some kind of manic disorder, which, if addressed properly, would be fine, because it would put everything into a workable frame. But Anna's mental problem is never, ever mentioned and therefore not qualified to earn her bonus sympathy points.
As jumpy as Anna's focus is the point of view. The reader has to hop from Anna's to Lindsay's mind and sometimes to Danielle's or other side-characters' without warning and even mid-chapter or mid-scene. That Lindsay's feelings are an open book does not compliment the suspense arc of the story. At the end it drags and drags and drags until Anna is really, really aware of her own attachment and able to understand Lindsay's signals. There is a too long string of exchangeable scenes like of hogging the mistletoe for a kiss, strategically placed negilées at midnight fridge raids (Anna leaves all the perishable ingredients out on the counter to decay in peace and the kitchen as a whole in disarray - how cute! - afterwards) and frozen-pond-incidents that require undressing in the car and showering together. In a better constructed novel the latter would have had the potential to create a sexy atmosphere. In "This Christmas" brainless barbie didn't even allow the potential to raise its head.
Since I had vaguely mentioned stupid parts in the setting right at the beginning I want to elaborate quickly: There are fake obstacles placed into the couple's path. I.e. Anna's and Lindsay's living arrangements aren't very unusual or outrageous. In Germany at least it is deemed to be a very sensible thing to share a house with people you are not necessarily related to. There are a lot of recent housing projects with shared recreation or dining rooms, roof top gardens and so on - preferably for parties of different generations. But even if inhabitants match as their age is concerned, it does not make them siblings and sexually off-limits to each other. A second über-silly thing was that big, big mansion itself and its convenient implications for its owners: After Anna's dad died his great aunt gave his widow her much too spacious house so she didn't have to care about paying rent anymore. In order to show her gratitude to the universe Anna's mom started to take in stray animals (dogs, deer, goats, horses and so on) and care for them. At the same time the house gives her "the opportunity to stay at home with [her] kids and just do her photography on the side." Huuuuuh? How does owning a house free the inhabitant from having to work for her bread and clothing? As I understand feeding a couple of horses, dogs and deer is quite costly as well and keeping a huge mansion warm and dry and in good repair might be at least as expensive as paying for a moderately sized family apartment.
All that remains to say is that I am proud of myself for sticking to the book until its last page. It did not deserve the honor, but I was in a rather gracious mood. It had been Christmas time after all. ...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.*** 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 produced 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.
*** 1.5 stars ***Emery bursts into the kitchen [...]. Her golden curls flap in the air as she runs toward us, hugging her Spaceship around Saturn pil*** 1.5 stars ***Emery bursts into the kitchen [...]. Her golden curls flap in the air as she runs toward us, hugging her Spaceship around Saturn pillow to her chest. "Do you think they'll sign it? I need a Sharpie! Chloe! I need Sharpies!" She screams the words into my face. Her eyes get all crazy, like a taxidermy laughing hyena.
"American Girl on Saturn": I don't know... The title immediately sounded appealing to me. Probably, because it reminded me of "All American Girl" by Meg Cabot, which I loved for its realistic characters and its humor in spite of the rather far-fetched set-up (a teenager saves the US president from being shot by a lunatic assassin, is invited to the White House for her bravery and begins a boy-girl-thing with the First Son). Also, the description mentioned that the heroine Chloe Branson would be annoyed to hear that five spoiled Canadian boy group members have to hide in her secret-service-parents' house turning her glorious plans for a carefree summer upside down. I usually enjoy those stories that start with a lot of fight and bickering between two opposites who reluctantly have to succumb to their mutual attraction. They are, in my opinion, extra-entertaining when the girl has the upper hand and whips the formerly hard-shelled boy into shape before he knows what is happening to him.
Well, the annoyance, the reluctance, the bickering, the attraction and the spoiled-brat-behavior (on both sides, unfortunately) were all present to some degree, but the story and the characters felt atrociously off and unbelievably fake and sweet - right from the start.
Later, when I came to read the author's acknowledgements, I understood the bigger picture, but this understanding made me feel rather cheated, betrayed. I know, that many authors write a story for themselves or for a friend or a relative (remember Twilight?) in the first place and are persuaded to pester the publishing industry afterward. Nicci Goodwin wrote "American Girl on Saturn" for her sister to remember their teenaged days, when the two of them were as boy-band-crazy as you can be, concocting all kinds of hare-brained scenarios that would put their feverishly worshipped idols into their reach - at best at reach without the opportunity to flee. I, personally, never plastered my walls with posters of actors or musicians, but I used to spend much time daydreaming. I dreamt of uncountable situations in which the boy I was crushing on could not help but notice me in an ultimately positive light. "American Girl on Saturn" is such a dream transferred one-to-one to paper: raw and unfiltered, unbearably enthusiastic and unchecked against reality both in the character and in the probability department. I can imagine what kind of fun the writing and reading must have been for the sisters. But for me, who had to fork out real money to digest the fluffy, star-struck stuff in condensed form and in huge doses? It was a paid-for eye-rolling-and-groaning-fest that could easily have been kept from happening by a big, glittery sticker warning to "Consume only, when boy-group-worship is or used to be your life."
As I mentioned, the reality-breach begins right in the beginning, when the assassination attempt on the five Canadian boy-men on American soil is declared to be a matter of national security and can only be solved by hiding the paparazzi-chased band-members inside the head-of-security's family home, which boasts a stay-at-home-mum, cleaning staff (temporarily dismissed because of the shhh-factor), a pool that conveniently cannot be seen from beyond the fence and a handful of comfortable guest suites. A home that houses the craziest and youngest fan, or Saturnite as they say, alive. That this private arrangement is the only workable solution to keep the boys temporarily of the media grid, because witness protection depends on unknown faces, sounded improbable enough. But that the whole plan depends on two teenagers and a five-year-old maniac keeping their mouths shut during social phone calls and a parentally prescribed pizza night with some extremely nosy friends, was just too much. Much too much.
Pre-schooler Emery creeped me out in a major way, anyhow. She is five. And she regularly hyperventilates on the brink of losing consciousness, she screams, she talks of marriage, she made me feel icky all over. And her parents do not show the slightest signs of being overly alarmed nor do they admit that something must have happened that shaped their baby daughter's mind into something horribly wrong for her age, promiscuous even. I remember a colleague who had to accompany her 11-year-old daughter to a Tokyo Hotel concert, were she hung out for several hours with others sharing her gruesome fate as a groupie-mom in a room especially set aside by the management for the likes of her. Even the report of infatuation-inflicted pre-teens sounded strange to my ears, but, well, there are bragging friends and afternoon television and BRAVO magazine. But little Emery? Her parents should supervise her media input and offer alternatives to star-stalking via Youtube instead of buying her merchandising and concert tickets.
And 18-year-old, immature rock chick Chloe? She quickly converts to unconditional fandom during the first eye-to-eye or elbow-to-elbow on her living-room couch: Who knew the guys of Spaceship around Saturn are actually ten times hotter in person than on Twitter?! [...] He nods toward the armrest, and I quickly jerk my arm back toward myself. He eases onto the armrest, and the scent of his body wash makes my head swim. Can you faint from awesome boy scent? [...] He never once tweeted that he smells like heaven or has eyes the color of the caramel inside of a Milky Way candy bar. These are the kinds of things girls need to know, Milo! They start to flirt, for life is short.
Naturally there are problems, but not those of the sort I had anticipated: It wouldn't even be an issue if he was just some guy from school. Then it'd be completely normal to be obsessing after a week, because I'm a girl and that's what we do do! But he is famous, and I'm nothing. The problem is - after a huge game of cat-and-mouse, that partly revolves around Chloe's explosive sister Aralie and the question who of the remaining four princes she is secretly into - miraculously solved (view spoiler)[ and sanctified by the mother, who is - after all- used to accepting star-crazy offspring behavior: "From what I gather," she says, "You're not 'just a memory' material. He said you were special." Mom has that voice, the sing-songy voice that Emery used when she pointed out that Milo and I were both wearing white with a touch of black." And, oh wonder, in the end, after the girls have gleefully www-posted all their private pictures of their new best friends and lovers, Dad has enough security at the hotel to keep me safe from a nuclear bomb. Our entire floor is blocked off. Which made me asked myself, why does he employ this kind of secret-agency-power when his concert-visiting daughter needs her privacy, but not when a couple of famous boys have to be kept in a "lockdown" to evade a dangerous stalker, huh? (hide spoiler)]
Too much, much too much day-dreaming and almost no realness. Creepy, icky, silly. Oh, yeah, long live Benji Bikini. Favorably far away from me, on Saturn or Pluto. ...more