Eh?Eh!'s Reviews > Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
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bookshelves: goodreaders-made-me, goodreader-gave-to-me, babble-added

Thank you, brian tanabe!

Have you ever slapped someone, good and hard? I can still remember the one and only time I did, the anger boiling up and over, the near involuntary windup of the arm and spring-loaded swing-through, the crack of the hand on the offender's cheek, the numb and then sting in the palm, the blipping rush of incredible satisfaction instantaneously followed by a gushing of fear and guilt? Yeah. It felt good and solid before the last fear and guilt part. I still remember all that from when I slapped the little brat (who was bigger than me) in preschool, when I was four. This book brought it all back, because I wanted to slap every one of the characters. Idiots! All of them!

I think this is a YA novel, in particular because of the large and well-spaced font which seems to be characteristic of books for youths. Is this a false impression? It's like how crayons/text get slimmer/smaller as you get older and then graduate to colored pencils.

Presented as being inspired by Jane Austen, I think this book leans more heavily on her than that. The main character is named Jane, fcol (= for crying out loud, is that an acceptable abbr. yet? I'm not up on txtmsg speak), and she's a mush of all of Austen's main ladies (that I can recall, and my recollection is mostly from movies). The sister character is a mush of all the other sisters, the mother and father, the dashing but shady gentleman, the stiffly honorable gentleman with a sister, the misunderstood but in the end very appropriate gentleman, the noble neighboring lady and her nearly silent daughter, all mushed together from all of Austen's works. The situation and plotline are also cribbed but with the detail and minutiae stripped away, all the density of Austen's works gone. It's Austen lite.

Little magics are part of daily household life. It's not well-explained, but it looks like magic is meant to be for peasants, artists, and women in this world? Some men are described as working with their abilities to keep things cold...and actually, I think that's it. Well-bred gentlemen didn't seem to take part in it. But women and artists create beauty out of it, and a lady should be able to create illusions for the home just as she should be able to make conversation and play the piano forte.

The main character is such a damn pushover, gaaahhhhhh!!! Too accommodating, too polite, too rug-like. There were so many moments where the whole mess could've been cleared up with a few short sentences...gahhhh! The character, Jane, has magical talent but it wasn't a story where her abilities make her a heroine. She gets her happy ending, although the author seems to have gotten tired at the end and wraps the story up too swiftly after the big climactic confrontation, with a surpisingly curt last page. And she did that thing like in The Princess Bride (I automatically typed Bridge in there, again), where a potentially satisfying scene is skipped over like this: "Though he denied a skill at words, everything Mr. [spoiler] said in that tender moment brought Jane unbearable joy." Nooooo! Why can't you tell us what was said? I think I loved Juliet Marillier when I was younger because she didn't cut away from these moments with cop-out summaries of how wonderful it was, too wonderful to write here. Boo! There are moments when the overblown is appropriate, when you say "forever" and "always" and mean it. Isn't this the kind of book where you'd want to include that sort of speech?

This is more negative than I mean to be. It's a very pretty story and a quick, pleasant read. Maybe I'm cranky because I stayed up to finish it.
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Reading Progress

October 29, 2010 – Started Reading
October 30, 2010 – Shelved
October 30, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)

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message 1: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony I can still remember the one and only time I did, the anger boiling up and over, the near involuntary windup of the arm and spring-loaded swing-through, the crack of the hand on the offender's cheek, the numb and then sting in the palm, the blipping rush of incredible satisfaction instantaneously followed by a gushing of fear and guilt?

Wow. Jackie must have really pissed you off in Portland.


Eh?Eh! Yeah, RA, I'm glad there were no pictures of all our slap fights.

I don't remember abrupt endings from the last time (years ago) that I read P&P or S&S. At least, that wasn't the feeling I was left with, because Austen had quite a bit going on in her books. This one, with complexity gone, the lack of an ending left a huge hole. Heh, and I'm saving my broken beer bottle story for a book I really dislike, that time I cut up that one brat in kindergarten.


brian tanabe YOU READ THE BOOK and REVIEWED IT ALREADY!?!?!


Eh?Eh! Yes? It read itself! The text was big!
It was a nice change-up from the other thing I was reading.

I wonder if Jane Austen would like to see what her abrupt endings have wrought. Sequels, mash-ups, erotica....


message 5: by Reese (last edited Oct 31, 2010 10:17AM) (new)

Reese A "smashing" review. Loved it -- as is usually the case with your reviews.


Eh?Eh! I don't remember if I even entered for the erotica book, but if I had won it then it would've been shipped to you right away, hah!

Thank you, Reese!


message 7: by Buck (new)

Buck You need to slap more people. The guilt goes away with practice, but the satisfaction never does. (I speak as a recipient rather than a giver.)


Eh?Eh! Naw, I'm too old and sensible to build up that head of steam necessary to keep the arm in full extension and at full speed until it makes contact. I always check my swing now.


unknown "Though he denied a skill at words, everything Mr. [spoiler] said in that tender moment brought Jane unbearable joy."

jane austen does this too sometimes. at least that was my impression of the whole romance in persuasion except for one letter. but maybe i am misremembering.


Eh?Eh! I've never read Persuasion so I'm not sure, and my recall on those that I have read isn't very good. I guess I expected this book to expound - it was adjusting Austen's style for its own purposes, but chose to keep her standard on that one? The missing speech is the kind of thing people read for!


message 11: by Emilie (new)

Emilie And she did that thing like in The Princess Bride (I automatically typed Bridge in there, again), where a potentially satisfying scene is skipped over like this: "Though he denied a skill at words, everything Mr. [spoiler] said in that tender moment brought Jane unbearable joy." Nooooo! Why can't you tell us what was said? I think I loved Juliet Marillier when I was younger because she didn't cut away from these moments with cop-out summaries of how wonderful it was, too wonderful to write here. Boo! There are moments when the overblown is appropriate, when you say "forever" and "always" and mean it. Isn't this the kind of book where you'd want to include that sort of speech?

i love this eh!! i want to know what he/she said.

and i can't help but think when reading "the princess bride" and 'boo!' in such close proximity bc i hear boo/bow before it becomes clear "bow down to the princess of putrescence!" (smiles) which i don't think means anything except you made me smile.

and i really should try reading austen again...


Eh?Eh! Hahaaaha! Yes! I love that line! "True love saved her in the fireswamp, and she threw it away!" But the whole sequence is really better spoken out loud so you can deliver every emphasis and drop of spittle. Typing makes it half the line it used to be.

I should read Austen again, too.


Avrelia The situation and plotline are also cribbed but with the detail and minutiae stripped away, all the density of Austen's works gone.

This is what I felt, too. Everything we love Austen for is gone, and the addition of magic doesn't make a good substitution.


Emily Why is it that fun, easy reads that people loose sleep to read are marked so low? It doesn't make sense to me.


Eh?Eh! I'm not sure, but I thought 3 stars was positive. It meant "liked it" and I thought it was fine. I know I complain more than praise. I was disappointed by how it ended, with brevity. I came away from it with that disappointment instead of the fun&easy impression from the beginning. Sorry if my opinion is annoying!


Emily I stayed up to finish this book as well that's why I wrote what I did. I always look at the book ratings and I guess 3 is fair for a "liked it." I just look at books that I like and wonder sometimes why they are under a 4 star marking and I know it's an accumulative score of everyone's opinions. It shocked me when some people put 2 or 3 stars and say that they are going to check the other books in the series. That tells me that they shouldn't have ranked it so low.


Eh?Eh! Hmm, there's been lots of back and forth about the star ratings. They do mean different things to different people. Sometimes a 2 or 3 rating means it's interesting enough to keep going. I know I sometimes have a compulsion to finish a series, even if it wasn't the best read. Don't let those star ratings get you down. They don't mean too much since they're so subjective.

Glad you enjoyed this book.


Emily Not that they get me down, just that when I'm thinking about reading a book I look at the ratings. I probably shouldn't but there you go.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

I can only remember slapping one person, and I was a more embarrassing 17 years old at the time. God, that felt amazing. I should slap more people.


Eh?Eh! I've been getting by with back-slapping. I bet we could find someone, in some S&M corner of the internet, who will let us do the real deal!


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

I bet you could find someone to pay you to do it.


Eh?Eh! I'll keep that in mind as an emergency income source. I hope I won't have to draw on it, but at least I'll get a nice slap out of it.


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