Well, I managed to give my boyfriend a chocolategasm with the chocolate goo-ganache cupcakes. I modified the recipe though. Instead of the marshmallowWell, I managed to give my boyfriend a chocolategasm with the chocolate goo-ganache cupcakes. I modified the recipe though. Instead of the marshmallow, I opted to make chocolate whipped cream from scratch. Then I hollowed out the inside of the cupcakes and filled it with the whipped cream. Then I put the ganache topping on. They turned out really good! :) defently something I'll be making again!...more
**spoiler alert** Overall, I was unimpressed. For a while I was even considering giving this a 2 but then decided in the end it deserved a 3.
I didn't**spoiler alert** Overall, I was unimpressed. For a while I was even considering giving this a 2 but then decided in the end it deserved a 3.
I didn't so much go into this book with high expectations, but rather medium expectations. I only half cared for "Discovery of Watches" so I was expecting more of the same in "Shadow of Night." Yet, I found "Shadow" to be lacking.
Diana and Matthew end up in Elizabethan England where they set out to find Ashmole 782 and to find a witch instructor for Diana. I had the opportunity to see Deborah Harkness speak and the way she phrased it is the best example, "Things never quite going according to plan for them." (paraphrase)
I found several things that didn't sit well with me in "Shadow." One of them was something I came up with about a third of the way through the book. If they needed to find out the secrets of Ashmole 782, and have someone teach Diana, why didn't they just go back in time about 20 years or so and meet up with Diana's parents? I get the intrigue of Elizabethan England and the desire to see the manuscript prior to damaging, but it seemed a bit far fetched. After hearing Harkness speak, I now know that her love is that time period in history so I can understand how the choice was made but the justification both in "Discovery" and "Shadow" seem a bit weak to me.
Branching out from that, there's the element of historical detail. In "Discovery," I coveted the detail, it felt rich and inviting and Harkness' love for the history and era just jumped off the page without me ever needing to be told she's an academic historian and professor. Yet, the details in "Shadow" seem forced. It shows less of a love for the subject and more of a 'let me show off what I learned and all the hard research I did.' Don't get me wrong, I liked the details and learning the information. And I know from hearing her speak that she tried as hard as she could to get the level of historical detail in "Shadow" to equal up to the detail she put in "Discovery." Yet, in the beginning, and again near the end, it all sounded too forced. I was okay with the middle section because the plot picked up again and the details flew seemly as they did in "Discovery," but more on that in a minute. All in all, I think it could have been contrived better.
Here is my biggest hangup of the books so far; the romance. I will admit I'm not big on romance books in general and am not a fan of paranormal romance. (And I'm still working on my list of flaws in vampire sex - a note I should have that Harkness addresses as Mathew is described as cold everywhere. But apparently Diana doesn't mind and in fact likes it as far as I can tell. It's not for me but, eh, who am I to judge? To each their own. [Also, as a side note, I'm told there is a toy marketed to 'Twilight' fans that requires several hours refrigeration before use, and that it's even sparkly. I have yet to find proof of that, but if it floats your boat, more power to you, have fun searching for it.]) Anyway, in both books, I found the sections in Sept-Tours to be dragging on quite a bit. Yes, I know the romance is important aspect to the story but it seems to take forever to establish both the romance part as well as intriguing Diana into the de Clermont family. I liked the wedding scene and the descriptions of the festivals but most of the time I was sitting there thinking "why the hell are they hanging around here, they have stuff to do!"
Interestingly enough, despite my complaining about the romance sections moving too slowly, I thought overall it went too fast. I find it interesting that while Shakespeare, while mentioned but only really seen in the last chapter, is present. The man is famous for improbable timelines. I mean Romeo and Juliet took place over the course of three days. Diana ad Matthew aren't much better. They've known each other barley 40 days before they're married ready to be the end all of each other. (I use the term Married loosely here because they have like 3 weddings and I can't quite keep up with them all.) A 1500 year old vampire is willing to throw everything he's been taught his whole life for a witch he's known all of a month and a half. I was willing to go with it in "Discovery" because so much was happening and I sort of accepted it the way you'd accept a romance in a movie because, to paraphrase J.K.Rowling's "Philosopher's Stone," 'There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a mountain troll is one of them.' Diana and Matthew's adventures in "Discovery" are sort of like that. It's only after it's been pointed out numerous times in "Shadow" that it's only been a month and a half that it really sticks out. And once pointed out to me, I found it hard to ignore.
Harkness gets some points back though. At one point Diana starts talking about modern popular human literature with vampire romances. Diana doesn't sound all that impressed by them so "Shadow" got some points back from me about that.
Okay time travel. Well... I sure hope the crush a butterfly's wing theory doesn't apply in Harkness' world because otherwise Diana and Matthew are screwed. It just so happened that while taking a break from reading, 'Back to the Future' was on TV. Let's see, Marty goes back in time, meets his dad, saves his dad from being hit by a car and then has to spend the next week trying to get his parents to hook up before he ceases to exist. In the second movie him buying a sports almanac causes utter hell in an alternate reality 1985. These are standard time travel issues in most fiction. Diana and Matthew were in Elizabethan England for SEVEN MONTHS and they weren't exactly inconspicuous. Not only that, Matthew was acting as a direct counterpoint to how the Matthew of 1590 would have acted. I would be a lot more angry about this if Stephen hadn't shown up and reprimanded the two of them for it. (granted he had a hand in a few things but his contributions were minor at best.) First off, I'm aware Diana and Matthew were only in the Bishop house and then Sept-Tours at the end of the book, but could they have possibly noticed some other changes along the way? Harkness left "Discovery" with a cliffhanger, I though a better ending to "Shadow" would be to hint at the issues left in the wake of their interference besides the telescope, manuscripts, mousetrap, small book, and the paintings. That would have left the readers on better tenterhooks for the next one. Also Diana showing her hand with the telescope in 1591, if the good guys figured it out, then so would the bad guys, and what's to stop another time walker going back to 1590 and finding them and stopping them there? Just because time walkers are rare doesn't mean they don't exist.
Another issue, what was the point of Prague? It seemed they only went there because the manuscript was there. But so much time was spent there and most of it seemed useless to me and only seemed to serve as more of Diana and Matthew screwing up history. And does any one else find it suspect that the pages get cut out of the book mere hours after they see it? It seemed a bit too convenient to me. I would have liked to have seen them disappear perhaps sometime after their visit. Either after they were safely in London without the book (what was the point of them getting the book if they didn't take it with them?) or sometime after they left Elizabethan England but before modern times. Just something else that seemed too forced.
Also, Emily? :( What happened there? Was the quick mention meant to be a cliffhanger? If so the speculation it caused isn't enough of a catch although I am sad about it and wondering what really happened to her.
And one last thing, and perhaps about the only good thing I have to say in this review. When I heard Harkness speak, she told us of the origins of Matthew, or at least the element that had shaped him the most. Matthew Roydon was a real person in Elizabethan England. He was friends with Marlowe, and just seemed to know EVERYONE. He was the guy who knew everyone and was known by everyone. There is little known about him directly, but he pops up in personal diaries and other places in history as this person corresponded with him, he worked with that person, he was a patron of the arts, etc. Then he mysteriouslly disappeared. Since nothing is really written about him directly, it's all other people trying to figure out where he went and when Marlowe was stabbed, people were even saying "Well that wouldn't happen if Matthew Roydon had been here." or "We would have gotten to the bottom of this if only we had Matthew Roydon." With his sudden disappearance, Harkness thought to herself, 'that sounds exactly like the sort of thing a vampire would do' and so she biased the character of Matthew off the historical Matthew Roydon. I found this to be an interesting fact.
...wow that was quite a scathing review. Perhaps one of my meanest ones so far.... (After writing this I'm trying to remember why I liked it enough to give it a 3. But overall, I think it does deserve higher than a 2.)...more
Jasper Fforde did not disappoint with this book! 4.5 stars really.
I was quite excited to get "The Last Dragonslayer" at Book Expo America 2012, especJasper Fforde did not disappoint with this book! 4.5 stars really.
I was quite excited to get "The Last Dragonslayer" at Book Expo America 2012, especially since I'm not actually sure if it was officially given out or not, but I got a copy by chance and man, am I glad I did! :) It was also nice to know that the book I was most excited to get there ended up living up to the hype I had given it. As soon as I'm done with this review, I'm sending a message to my friend who has family in England visiting him in the states soon to see if they can bring me the next book in the series.
As always, Fforde has a wonderful tongue in cheek humour abour the world that lends itself well to fantasy. This book is to be marketed to I believe teens and I think it's a great one. I like how he tackles social commentary on commercialism, corruption, etc in an accessible manner. Furthermore, he does it with grace and humour. There are so many books out these days that target these same issues but they are darker stories and this stayed lighthearted the whole way. I almost want to break out my Thursday Next books to give them another read.
I don't want to go into too much here because I think this is a book that should unfold for itself without being forewarned. As always I enjoyed the asides about paperwork (something I always look forward to in British humour and satire. I wonder how many young readers will enjoy this and then be directed to "Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
I'll stop here at risk of writing spoilers because I really rather gush that I loved it and I want someone else to experience it themselves. I will say this though; the Quarkbeast is my favourite character, and now I want one. :)...more