The writing struck at once a chord. It's quite beautiful, really.
Plus, the comprehensive gothic manor-house-package including grinning porcelain dollThe writing struck at once a chord. It's quite beautiful, really.
Plus, the comprehensive gothic manor-house-package including grinning porcelain dolls, chambers full of one-of-a-kind clocks, hidden rooms, cobwebby nurseries, draughty chapels, squeaking trapdoors, ambivalent housekeepers and mute little servant boys has really been polished to a shining perfection.
On top of that, I had already warmed up to the reluctant, but bright and sassy, Cinderella-style heroine, Katherine Tulman, with her astute views on her money-hunting aunt and her toffee-addicted cousin by page six.
Unfortunately all that brilliant brightness seems to have deserted the seeingly sharp girl's head like warmth deserts a cottage through a cracked window by the time she drinks her first cup of sugared tea in her dusty room: (view spoiler)[ This is coincidentally the second book in a row which displays the main character being repeatedly suddenly dizzy or almost drunk and oblivious to things that happened the previous night without realizing that somebody is systematically drugging them. How very, very cumbersome and annoying for the reader to witness the characters being clueless and only marginally concerned. (hide spoiler)] How could she not investigate the matter, when staff members accused her of having been drunk or tipsy on evenings she had no recollections of? Soon I started skimming Katherine's strange dreams and almost everything that happened after lights-out, because those parts appeared to be pointless and avoidable. The second unforgivable piece of the plot was part of the climax.(view spoiler)[ There was really some kind of stupor befalling me, when I noticed that Davey had really drowned in the canal. I certainly expected him to turn up after the chaos of the flooding had been sorted out. (hide spoiler)]
Those little - but in the large context important - details were more or less responsible for my spoiled enjoyment of the cliffhanger-adorned gentry thriller.
I did not choose to read the book for its romantic parts of the plot - I swapped it on a sudden whim without having heard anything about it before - but I cannot complain about them: The love interest is prickly and moody most of the time, but he has certainly every reason to hold back: Katherine has come to the estate to declare his employer insane and thus to turn him out of work and on the street. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
***2.5 stars***. Well written. Chillingly creepy characters. Creepy setting that remains a mystery. Claustrophobia. Helplessness. Fate. Symbols. Power***2.5 stars***. Well written. Chillingly creepy characters. Creepy setting that remains a mystery. Claustrophobia. Helplessness. Fate. Symbols. Powerful flowers. Nordic mythology. Past, present, future. Horror. Sacrifice. Vampires. Based on a painting by Carl Larsson. Seven lives, seven loves. Human bonds through the ages that did not touch me. Rather devoid of the blurbed-about romance. Weird, but not the kind of weird I love (view spoiler)[ like One Whole and Perfect Day or Chime(hide spoiler)]. Disappointing. ...more
I adore the illustrations, but I am not so sure about the plot. To be on the save side I didn't give it to my niece like I had planned before buying iI adore the illustrations, but I am not so sure about the plot. To be on the save side I didn't give it to my niece like I had planned before buying it....more
Eine einfache Geschichte mit knuffigen Illustrationen und komplizierten Wörtern und Formulierungen: Unter anderem bevölkert diese Geschichte "Kurt" (KEine 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....more
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.
*** 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*** 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"]>...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: „Curs“… 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!“ ...more
A believably brutal and beautifully written retelling of the legend around Paris and Helena of Troy, which focuses on a fictional and likable characteA believably brutal and beautifully written retelling of the legend around Paris and Helena of Troy, which focuses on a fictional and likable character, Anaxandra, a pirate lord's daughter who at the age of six is taken as a hostage by King Nicander and poses later as his deceased daughter Callisto, when Menelaus of Sparta drops by after the island is raided, depeopled and destroyed.
Like everybody I had always thought Helena to be pretty selfish: She lets a huge mass of people tumble into a bloody war because of her sudden infatuation with a brainless, childish twit. But "Goddess of Yesterday" even tunes Helena's character up quite a notch: She is depicted as an inhumanly beautiful and inhumanly evil and twisted bitch, who doesn't care for her four children at all and gets a mighty kick out of watching people die a painful death for her sake. Chilling, but fitting, somehow.
Fear and fascination kept me glued to the pages. The only distraction has been the occasional botched up sentence or misplaced word, which was astonishing for a traditionally published book (Randomhouse group). ...more