Review As some of you might know, I’m a rabid Sherlock Holmes fan, and Hercule Poirot comes at a close second. So when I was presented with the opportunity to read this novel, I jumped at the chance.
I have to say that for a Poirot novel, it’s…let’s say somewhat unusual. For one thing, the narrator is mainly Edward Catchpool, a youngish, seemingly half-incompetent detective, regaling us with a first person, past tense narrative, through which we’re conveyed all manners of odd facts about him, such as his dislike for dead bodies (quite strange for a detective, I’d say, but ok, we can roll with strange, right?), his total mistrust of his own investigative skills and abilities (we’re going from strange to really weird here, if you ask me), a sort of half-crush on Poirot, doubled by the fear that the man is going to be “too Poirot” at times. Not the smoothest of rides, I’ll say. Before Catchpool makes his entrance, Poirot comes in in a third person, past tense narrative, and I dare say that first chapter was quite possibly the most enjoyable, though the actual meat of the story hadn’t been laid out yet.
Now, as you may expect, as a Christie fan, I’m of the opinion her writing style was the best option for the Poirot stories. I’ll also say her subtle humor, Poirot’s subtle humor, and her clever style made all her works highly enjoyable reads. I found none of that here, and humor is very important for me. Not only does Catchpool have zero humor, good or bad, but the way Poirot is portrayed goes from the very observant, intelligent, refined and funny gentleman to something of an uptight, and at times rude man. Now, Poirot is a character, we all know him, he’s maybe pretentious, but not rude, not coming off as arrogant since the qualities he attributes himself are proven true through the story, each time. I felt like the superficial traits of Poirot were present, but the heart of him wasn’t there. It was like a sketch of him somehow, a vague contour emphasizing those things so Poirot that you knew it was him that had been represented there, but you couldn’t feel his presence. Am I making sense? I felt the Poirot this novel portrayed didn’t do the real Poirot justice, and Catchpool was nowhere near interesting enough to make up for the lack of the real Poirot charm missing.
The actual mystery was somewhat convoluted, and solving it wasn’t a step by step investigation of clues and analysis of information, it felt more like a sort of series of revelations that Poirot arrived at while Catchpool was bumbling about and finding out things that he didn’t seem to comprehend in the context of the case. I will point out that the Poirot mysteries I’ve read, and I’m not claiming to have read them all, were stories that actually made sense once solved but also during the unsolved phase, even if the circumstances were borderline hard to believe. But while you read the story, you believe, step by step, so then when the grand reveal happens, it feels realistic. That didn’t happen here, the rhythm of mystery solving felt off somehow. And it would have, since we didn’t get to see Poirot’s thought process, he simply seems to do these leaps of logic from out of nowhere. It kind of ruins the whole effect of the Poirot case-solving process, which was so elegant and exciting. And the grand reveal…I mean… Poirot does have the habit of running a bit long with his stories at the end there, but here it felt dragged out unnecessarily and without putting things in perspective in a satisfying way, possibly because of the dragged out nature of the explanations.
I think part of the issue here is that you’d expect a Hercule Poirot story to keep the mystery writing tropes and structure of Agatha Christie’s times, right? Sophie Hannah’s mystery writing is nowhere near old-school, it’s as current as it gets: more into the zone of serial murders, motive more convoluted and psychological rather than money or crimes of passion, clues mixed in with a lot of action to keep the adrenaline pumping. I think the main reason this didn’t feel like a proper Poirot mystery is the fact that the author is one of our times, good at writing by the conventions of current mystery / suspense / thriller. I think it’s tough to morph into a person of other times, unless that’s your fiber, you know what I mean? And if it’s your fiber, then you’d be writing that kind of mystery to begin with, not the current kind.
I will say that taking on the task of writing a Poirot novel is a very gutsy thing, and no matter how good a writer you are, you’re being compared to a mystery sweetheart and legend. Let’s be honest here, those reading this novel would mostly be Agatha Christie fans, like I am. Will anyone else’s storytelling, writing style and use of Poirot do for us? Quite possibly not. The only chance a new author would have doing that is doing things in such a different way, that we’d be unable to compare the work to Agatha Christie, but I don’t see how that might happen using one of her trademark characters. And if you take a version of Poirot out of the Christie context, storytelling and writing style, then what’s left? Bits of something that was very good in its original form.
So I will say that while the read wasn’t bad, I had terribly high expectations, which it quite possibly couldn’t have met anyway. It wasn’t wow, it wasn’t what I hoped it might be, it didn’t give me more of the good thing I love, but some of a new, and not that exciting thing. Then again maybe the transition will happen with a few more novels, maybe I’ll get accustomed to Sophie Hannah’s style and vision and grow to love it…will it ever be anywhere near Agatha Christie’s for me? Impossible.
In the end, if you’re a big-time fan of Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot, I can’t say you’ll find what you’re looking for in this novel. If you’re into historical mystery though, it might actually work out a lot better for you. Not comparing the characters to Christie’s and the writing to Christie’s and so on might make this a more enjoyable read. So maybe I’m recommending it to readers who haven’t actually tried much of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot stories, because maybe they’ll give this novel a better shot than us Christie fans might....more
Fluttering Thoughts: Worldbuilding: The whole infertile alien race idea was interesting, the Xanthians had an interesting society and values, and certainly a curious history. I liked the world, though I wouldn’t say it was focused on hardcore, it was interesting and had me curious. Characters: Jane was interesting, and so was Usnavi. I also liked them together, and there was some really fun chemistry there. I can’t say I felt either of them was particularly charismatic, though they were fun and kept me interested in the story, their romance and future. Something about them together didn’t click all the way through for me, the romance part particularly, though the sex did. I felt their lust, I can’t say I felt the romance, more like the beginning of falling for someone maybe, but not going further. Couple-wise, there’s a lot that happens in this story with them, from meeting, to falling, to having a baby and getting their HEA. While I loved that, I can’t say I was 100% into it emotionally, parts felt somehow rushed, tense relationship moments went by a bit too quickly. The whole Xanthian gender thing was very interesting, and the either/or at any moment aspect of it, choosing according to mood or will, I loved that. It’s interesting to contemplate a world of that kind, I find the concept very appealing, the freedom of it somehow, the lack of barriers and difficulties. It also made for an interesting couple concept :D Come on, being a gender-shifter? That’s awesome! Plot: Aside the hot romance tangent, there’s also a story concerning the Xanthians, their plans and what becomes of them. While I was interested in this part of the story, I can’t say it got my heart pumping. I can’t say I felt there was much action, despite things happening. The most focus was on the sex, I felt, and that was very hot and plentiful :D Had the same enthusiasm been applied to say some suspenseful&action scenes, and they could have easily been part of the story, this would have been even more fun to read. Writing: Third person, past tense narrative, from Jane’s POV and a few times from Usnavi’s POV, though not in separate chapters, and it’s mostly from Jane’s POV. Curb Appeal: Cool cover, hooking blurb. I confess it’s the bisexual aspect that got my attention.
All in all, this was an interesting concept, a fun and hot read, I enjoyed it. And I so wanna see more bisexual fiction, and other rainbow fiction aside cis gay and cis lesbian. Let’s get that the diversity going even more ...more
Fluttering Thoughts: Worldbuilding: The Regency era world isn’t highly developed, we’re tOriginally posted at Butterfly-o-Meter Books on Nov 25th 2014:
Fluttering Thoughts: Worldbuilding: The Regency era world isn’t highly developed, we’re talking a prequel novella here after all, but what of it is present is authentic and certainly interesting. Characters: Val and Peter were very interesting characters. What they’ve gone through has left deep marks in their minds and souls, but they’re surviving, moving on. I loved that about them, the fact that they were each coping however they could, even if it wasn’t all shining success and there’s no miraculous recovery for the kind of traumatic events they’ve gone through. Their chemistry was very hot, and so was their one on one, either between the two of them, or with any other partner. Plot: The story is meant to give us a glimpse into their pasts, and it does. It’s not an in-detail study of it, but from the novella we get a good sense of their background. Writing: Third person, past tense narrative, from Peter and Val’s POV. Very authentic historical style writing, loved that! Curb Appeal: Hawt cover, hooking blurb – impulsive buy material.
All in all, this was a great historical read. I’m starting to really enjoy historical romance lately, and it’s good reads like this one that make that happen. I will however mention that since this is a prequel novella, I looked into the series, and found out that it’s not about Val and Peter’s HFN or HEA. In fact, Val marries and falls in love, I understand, with someone else, a woman. Kind of destroyed my enjoyment of this read, but I’m happy I didn’t look over the first novel in the series before reading this, actually. And I haven’t read that novel, so maybe it all makes sense by doing that, but after reading about Peter and Val, I sincerely don’t want to read about Val and someone else. Yes, I’m one of those readers, lol. :P Anyway, I recommend this novella, and I totally recommend Kate Pearce’s historical romance writing, regardless of the particular story, it’s bound to be good, hot and steamy stuff....more
Fluttering Thoughts: Worldbuilding: The world of The Twelve Kingdoms is seriously awesomeOriginally posted at Butterfly-o-Meter Books on Nov 28th 2014:
Fluttering Thoughts: Worldbuilding: The world of The Twelve Kingdoms is seriously awesome, we’re talking kingdoms, so kings ans queens and intrigue and let’s not forget all the fantasy elements, magic, paranormal beings like shifters…so much goodness! Characters: The thing about The Tears of the Rose is that the main character, Amelia, was one of my least favorite characters from The Mark of the Tala, the first novel in the series. Whiny, shallow, self-centered, highly irritating…you get the picture, right? Well, she was just like that in the beginning of this novel too, only I got to experience it from her POV, which was – not all that shockingly – even more irritating. We’re talking real emotion, I wanted to… do violent things :))) You get the picture. So reading a story about her was a very strange experience, I spent about half the novel kind of pi$$ed at her, at her reactions to the admittedly traumatic things she went through, and then from a certain point on, I was shocked because I liked her. I mean…it creeped over me and suddenly I just… liked her :| She went through major changes, went through a lot of really difficult stuff, did a lot of growing up during this story, and from somewhere around half of it to the end, I really liked her, which was… shocking, lol! Okay, it was also due to Ash. I’m not gonna lie, I loved the man, I always love Jeffe Kennedy’s mancandy xD I would have liked to enjoy his presence more, but I got why Amelia needed to be focused on, the changes she goes through need good building in order to read authentic, and they do. I loved Amelia and Ash together, really hot, passionate one on one between them, and I want more :D I know, I know…I’m a total perv. Also, really loved Ursula, I did from the first novel, she’s so deliciously badass! Can’t wait to read her story xD Plot: I loved the story, and I’m really curious to find out how the whole tensions-between-kingdoms thing is solved, which is the other arc aside the romance and the MC’s story of personal growth and I guess fulfilling of their destiny, in each novel. I’m a total politics geek, okay, so shoot me :P Also, it must be said, evil cliffy at the end of this novel, I mean the romance gets its HFN, conflicts are resolved, but you just get the inkling of such a big thing, and then there’s the…one of two things missing (no spoilers is such a b!tch to do sometimes, lol, sounds like I’m a rambling lunatic, but I don’t wanna spoil the story for you peeps!). I want the next one, like, right now! Writing: First person, past tense narrative, Amelia’s POV. Loved her voice, though I disliked her, lol, she came through really well. And love the writing style, fantasy/fairytale like awesomeness :D Curb Appeal: Cool cover, hooking blurb, instant buy author name, so impulsive buy material galore!
All in all, this was a really interesting addition to the series, and a very surprising reading exprience. I’m not going to beat around the bush (which sounds kind of BDSM-ish and kinky, right?), I loved the first one more, but there’s an easy explanation for that – I loved Andi. I disliked Amelia and ended up also loving this novel, even if not as much as the first. It made me look at Amelia differently, and by the end of the story I kind of loved her, from kind of hating her guts in the beginning. I don’t think you’d find many authors able to pull that kind of thing off, but then again, if anyone could do it, it would be Jeffe Kennedy. There’s a really good reason I’m a hardcore fan of her work ;) And all I love about her works in general is present here, this novel is gutsy, slightly irreverent (MCs tend to be easy to like & love in romance, don’t you agree? Amelia is anything but, in the beginning…), hot, well written, entertaining, features awesome worldbuilding, characterbuilding and romancebuilding, and leaves you wanting the next one.
I totally recommend The Tears of the Rose if you’re into fantasy kingdoms and romance, and strong MCs who might start out as annoying princesses but end up being strong and clever queens :D...more
Review: Let me start by saying I had a lot of fun reading this baby, in a time when I’m rOriginally posted at Butterfly-o-Meter Books on Oct 24th 2014:
Review: Let me start by saying I had a lot of fun reading this baby, in a time when I’m rather burned out on Contemporary romance, and New Adult-ish kind of reads. This is a New Adult in my opinion because Kyra is 23, though from pretty much all points of view she’s an adult, she’s mature, this is not a first anything for her.
The Holton Woods series has an awesome world, the Washington DC power circles, the rich and famous, a bit of the infamous, all the good stuff, with a spice of CIA operatives and hot tempers to boot. Much, much yummy.
Kyra and Sebastian are awesome, they’ve made a first appearance in Mercy, first novel of the series, and I loved them then, and I loved them now. Sebastian is 11 years older than Kyra, which to me is very hot, lol. Call me nuts, but I’d see a 34 yo lawyer and negotiator, a mature, educated and very intelligent man, always but always more attractive than… well, anything, lol. So I totally get Kyra’s long-time interest in Sebastian, I mean he’s swoon-material, even more so than Jarret, imo (which was and is a hottie too, bad boy vibe galore, yummmy!). The man is just so in control, and good at his job, and… okay, lol, total crush material, messed up as he is when it comes to feelings. Kyra is a survivor, considering her crappy past, her screw-up of a father and what he’s put her through, and the environment she comes from, she’s made leaps and bounds and has come a really long way. In fact, considering how smart and focused she had to be to leave her old life behind and make something of herself via her own means, it doesn’t surprise me that she’d want someone like Sebastian by her side. She needs a strong man by her side, to suit her own strength and charm. And that is Sebastian, no doubt about it. Their insta-attraction developed into a slow-burn kind of love, they had uber-hot chemistry and I loved their one on one time. They’re strong, even if at times confused, passionate creatures that make sense together :D
The story itself was more romance than suspense, where Mercy felt more romantic suspense to me. I mean, the CIA still looms over them, and I foresee a Natalia story coming up next ( :D I wanna see her and Gabe together in that cabin, so help me, I SO wanna see them together xDDDD ), but this one felt less suspenseful and more romantic. Which by no means is a flaw or anything, I’m just trying to give you as a clear a picture as I can.
I loved the third person narrative, past tense, from his and her POV, and I especially loved the fact that HelenKay Dimon didn’t try to use a stencil of sorts for these stories, didn’t use similar types of main characters, and despite having a common theme of tough cookies struggling a bit to find their happy ending romantically, the two novels present different kinds of stories. They feel organic somehow, you know what I mean? Like the author allowed the stories to develop naturally from the characters, as they should, without trying to stick to a genre trope, you know? So while the first one felt more suspenseful, this one felt more romantically intense, dealt with different character issues and difficulties. Loved, loved, loved that, and I can’t wait to read the next one. There has to be a next one. A Natalia and Gabe one, gimme Natalia and Gabe!! xD
Yummy cover, hooking blurb, and from now on a must-buy author name for me, so total impulsive buy material.
Why, then, will you ask me, isn’t this a 5 butterflies read? To be honest, I blame that on what I read right before reading Only, it was Alexis Hall’s very touching Sand and Ruin and Gold and it probably still had an emotional grip on me. So from my perspective, Only is most likely a full 5 butterflies reading experience in normal circumstances, it just happened that I read it right after something else, like immediately after, and I was probably still in the emotional grip of that previous read. My bad, not the novel’s, I just wanted to make that clear.
I fully recommend Only, and am SO totally reading the next one!...more
Fluttering Thoughts: Worldbuilding: We’re talking one fun Edinburgh setting for the story, and I loved that. It wasn’t too focused upon, but I loved the feeling of the place nonetheless. Characters: Jo was interesting MC, transparent yet very secretive. I can’t say I liked or disliked her, most likely because for most of the novel she’d holding herself back in a way. You’ll get what I mean when you read the novel. Nate was of course crush material, all yummy, alpha male, somewhat player vibe, but tender and caring. I loved his nutty family, especially his sister. Nate and Jo had awesome chemistry, and their one on one was very passionate and awesomely hot :D If there’s one character I would have liked more developed, somehow, it’s Scott. But you know me, I always care more about the villain of the story. Plot: The romance arc was really sweet, usually not my thing, and while I wasn’t head over heels with it, it worked out in the end. The suspense arc wasn’t terribly thrilling (for me…it’s tough to thrill me though, keep in mind), but it had a good tempo and though the action didn’t give me a rush, I liked how tension and conflict were resolved. Writing: First person, past tense narrative, Jo’s POV. Interesting voice. I really loved Pamela L. Todd’s descriptions, not lengthy or too emphasized upon, but definitely suggestive. Curb Appeal: Cool cover, interesting blurb. Good impulsive buy candidate for my suspense-y reading moods.
All in all, I had a good time reading a story that I will say was very much vanilla and sweet for me. While we’re talking tortured characters and traumatic MC past, I’d say Pamela L. Todd’s writing has a way of making even shocking scenes flow smoothly, leaving your feathers quite unruffled somehow. As an adrenaline junkie and a totally sadistic & evil reader, I would have enjoyed a darker, more haunting kind of approach because that’s what I’m generally into, but even so the story worked for me. I recommend the novel if you’re into suspense but not into gory details and much violence, plus I’m sure you’ll love this if you’re into sweet romance, because boy was it sweet! Not overly fluffy or anything, but on my scale of things, definitely sweet, even though we’re talking heroine with a traumatic past (and present)....more
Review Call me crazy, but there was something about that cover that just called to me, aside the obvious beauty of the illustration. This was a terrifying and breathtaking read, and were it any longer and more developed, it might have killed me.
The worldbuilding is beautiful, post-apocalyptic yet terribly current, but not heavily emphasized upon. And despite featuring mer a lot, it’s a heartbreaking story about human nature in all its terrible beauty.
The main character, the prince, is an interesting and charismatic character, though he tells his story by somehow becoming invisible through it. Never something of himself, always the result of someone else’s desire or action, more as a mirror than a creature of his own, he mostly defines himself through refusing circumstances and demands. What truly stands out is his yearning for freedom, as a form of affection and not only. Nerites took my breath away since he first appeared, and continued to do so throughout the story. Their interaction, unspoken love and mirrored destinies make them an unlikely and perfect pair, in my opinion. Captives in their lives, in their attempts to obtain freedom and love, bound together by the spaces between them, the impossibilities of it all. I’m not sure if I’d call this a happy for now ending, or a bittersweet one, it’s so much up to you as a reader that I won’t deem it one way or another. To me, it was a terribly authentic ending, so real that it hurt.
I’ve read a novel by Alexis Hall and loved it, but this story… this is just so incredibly heartbreaking and beautiful, the writing is just so strong and I’d say literary and powerful… I’m sure I will read more by the same author, and will most likely love it all just as I have loved what I’ve read so far, but this story… this is the kind of work that just looks so much like the jewel of one’s crown that you can’t imagine something else becoming that. Maybe something else will, after all, the sky is the limit, isn’t it?
For sure one of the best reads of this year, and a Bomy Award of Excellence, so 5++++ butterflies. I cried through most of this read. I loved and revered it, and will re-read it and cry over it many, many more times, of this I’m sure. Just… read it. Read it....more