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 thHe 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*** 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"]>...more
This was a retelling so awful that I deleted the file on my e-reader without checking whether I had managed to read 25% or 30% before combusting. OneThis was a retelling so awful that I deleted the file on my e-reader without checking whether I had managed to read 25% or 30% before combusting. One spontaneous, annoyed click and the free Kindle version was gone without a trace (The order still lurks in my Amazon account history and mocks my bad taste. This year will be better, I am sure.)...more
I loved reading the conclusion of the End-of-Days-trilogy. Really. There is nothing to complain about in my eyes: Great heroine, great relationships,I loved reading the conclusion of the End-of-Days-trilogy. Really. There is nothing to complain about in my eyes: Great heroine, great relationships, great pacing and lot of gore, a bit of steam and a bit of humor. I flew through across the pages as if I were riding in an angel's arms.
The only thing that is still painfully nibbling on the edge of my mind is that a world-encompassing, humanity-destroying big, bad angel invasion is solved - or climaxes or whatever you might call the last chapters - on a tiny island involving a few US-based humans, a few angels, a few hellions, locusts and apocalyptic monsters. Where those settlements in the vicinity of the aerie really the last remains of our species? Possibly the most important clue had been given in volume one or two and got lost in the tangled web of unimportant reading-history bits and pieces. But I kept thinking: "What about Europe? What about Asia?"...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
*** 1.5 stars, abandoned after reading 36% that felt like 1.000 pages *** One of the most boring attempts at paranormal mystery I have come across so *** 1.5 stars, abandoned after reading 36% that felt like 1.000 pages *** One of the most boring attempts at paranormal mystery I have come across so far - without taking unsexy jerks, unbelievable prerequisits and lackluster characters into account....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.
Well. This attempt came free of costs.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more