Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies's Reviews > Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
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This book is like Jane Austen's works in the way that a genetically modified out-of-season greenhouse tomato is like a cherry. Sure, they're technically both classified as fruits. They're red. They're juicy-looking. They're attractive. The difference is that when you bite into said GMO tomato, it tastes like mealy, mushy, tasteless crap. This book is the equivalent of a limp, tasteless slice of tomato on a McDonalds' hamburger. Why bother? You're just going to pick it off and throw it away anyway. Or maybe that's just me. I hate raw tomatoes.

This book tries way too hard. The main character is a doormat. Her love interest is not so much Darcy as he is Jane Eyre's Rochester (yes, I know they're not by the same author) played by a 9th grade drama student with aspirations of playing Heathcliff, whose inspiration for Heathcliff (yes, I know that's yet another book) comes from The Simpsons' Ned Flander's portrayal of Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire (I KNOW THEY'RE ALL BY DIFFERENT AUTHORS, THAT'S NOT THE FREAKING POINT!).

Sorry for all the literary references. Not really. I'm just in a fucking bad mood right now after reading this book and I don't care.

- The characters are extremely similar to Austen's, with none of the complexity, resulting in characters that are predictable and dull

- The language is both pretentious (Shew! Shewed! Chuze! Chusing!) and inconsistent

- There is no sisterly love. Expecting Elizabeth and Jane? Don't hold your breath. It's more like Fanny and Lydia (I KNOW THEY'RE NOT IN THE SAME BOOK1!111).

- There's no fucking point to the magic! None! It's literally fucking window decoration! There's no explanation! Poof! Magic sparkly dragon fairy dust everywhere and hidden glamour strings being pulled out of thin air like a used fucking tampon string within some invisible female unicorn! What's the fucking point?!

The Plot: We're in Jane Austen-era England! Hooray! Our main character is named Jane! Hooray! She has a sister, a beautiful beautiful beautiful sister named Melody!---the loveliest maiden in the entire fucking shire (the English shire, not the Middle Earth Shire, although it would be pretty epic if there were an Elven P&P, I would watch the shit out of that).

Jane has a doting father and a fussy mother who does nothing but whine and gossip and worry about her daughters' marriage prospects. I'm shocked!! Their estate is entailed in favor of a male relative. Such wonder! Such surprise! A new neighbor has moved in, a Mr. Dunkirk!! No! He is a kind, handsome young gentleman, reserved and polite. I never! He has a young, very shy little sister named Elizabeth (16 years old and not yet debuted! Oh, my!) whom he dotes on. Said beloved sister is so beloved, so protected, because she HAS A DARK, DEEP SECRET! DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUN! I WONDER WHAT THE SECRET COULD BE?!

There's a young, charming, handsome military man named Livingston who gambles and flirts, who might or might not have a dark, dastardly, wascally wabbit secret! There's a dark, brooding man named Mr. Vincent who does nothing but sneer---ok, he might belong in Jane Eyre instead, if our beloved Rochester has the personality of a moldy potato and none of the good looks, and you might recall Rochester was never much of a looker to begin with!

It depends on which BBC production you watch, of course, but I'd rather not give the dude in this book the benefit of the doubt.

So, the love fuckery, I mean, you could call it a love triangle, but again, I'm in a pretty fucking foul mood right now. You would be too if you read 300 pages of nothing!

Jane admires Captain Livingston while secretly in love with Mr. Dunkirk who admires Jane but shows all the attention to Melody, who flirts with Dunkirk and flirts with Mr. Vincent and flirts with Captain Livingston (hell, anything with a penis who's not her father---oh, right, it's a Regency. I'm not supposed to say the word penis. Or tampon now that I think about it. Or curse. Crap!). Vincent doesn't give a fuck about anyone and snarls at Jane while showing (shewing!!!!) attention upon Melody. Livingston is flirting with Melody while choosing (chusing?! chuzing?! Make up your mind, fucking book!) to bestow his attention upon another SECRET YOUNG LADY WHO HE REALLY SHOULDN'T BE SEEING. I wonder who the mysterious very young, very off limits lady could be!!!11

And in the middle of all this, magic (glamour) is used to decorate everything and to make things pretty and sparkly and bright.

Ach, mein head!

The Fucking Language: Be fucking consistent. It tries too fucking hard. This book tries to use the "antiquated" language of Austen days, which would work EXCEPT IT ONLY DOES SO WHEN IT FEELS LIKE IT.

Shew, shewed, shewn. AKA Show, showed, shown. Here written as shewn for the entire fucking book except when the author forgets to do so. SHEW SHEW SHEW SHEW. GAAAAAAAAAAAH. IT PISSED ME OFF SO MUCH.

- "Beth was out of sorts, however, and the enthusiasm she had shown before dinner seemed to be smothered under a layer of melancholy" vs "They were shewn to the library, with Jane’s mother accompanying them as chaperon."

Chuse! "Choose" is written as chuse, chuse, chuuuuuuuuuuse! except when the modern form is used. "She would not have chosen to meet him next in this manner."

Teaze! Surprize! Really, what was the fucking point?! The ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ makes it so much more fucking authentic?! No! It just gives me a fucking headache. “You may teaze me, but Mr. Vincent’s praise is more valuable for being rare.”. "To her surprize, Mr. Vincent had come to call."

Haphazard fucking use of British spelling vs. American. Sometimes things are spelled with an "ou" wherein the US, we would simply spell it with an "o." The SAME FUCKING WORDS are spelled differently in the book. Honor and honour. Apologize is given the American spelling instead of properly spelled in the British way as apologise. Favorite is used instead of favourite. There is no ends to the inconsistencies within this book.

The Characters: Straight out of Austen, with none of the details of personality that makes the original a classic.

One could call Jane an P&P's Elizabeth Bennett wannabe, but I prefer to call her a motherfucking doormat. Oh, I know perfectly well that in that age, women were expected to be docile. There is such a thing as being gentle-natured without laying yourself flat on the floor and asking people to walk all over you. Elizabeth and Emma are good examples of how a Regency woman can be strong-minded while not being a fucking incompetent nincompoop who does nothing but mope and whine all freaking day.

Jane is a martyr. She is plaaaaaaaain. Plain Jane. Beloved by her daddy, but plain and a spinster, nonetheless. She loves Dunkirk. She's unwilling to do anything to get him. She's half torn by his attraction to him and her desire to do good by her sister, who is courting him, so in essence, we get a lot of internal wangst and emo and not a whole lot of action at all. Jane is really, really dull. I would say that's a consequence of her name, but that would be an insult to all the glorious Janes worldwide. Including our revered Jane Austen herself.

Misters before Sisters:
Melody stopped and tossed her head, eyes sparkling. “And I thought better of you. Jealousy is unbecoming on you, dear sister. It is not my fault he finds me beautiful.”
You want P&P's Jane and Elizabeth's loving, sisterly relationship?! Fuck you, says this book! Melody is more like Kitty, and Jane is, well, P&P's Jane, without the beauty, without the personality, without the sweetness, with all of the inaction with a truckload of internal pettiness piled onto her. Why do we like Jane again? Oh, she's the main character. Well, alrighty then!

Jane resents her sister for her beauty. She secretly relishes Melody's lack of intelligence compared to her own. She secretly wants Melody out of the way so she can date---pardon me, la! Dreamy Dunkirk!
She had not hitherto allowed herself to hope, but if Melody’s affections had truly transferred to Captain Livingston, that would remove the most immediate obstacle to Mr. Dunkirk. It left her plainness and her awkward carriage, but to a man such as him, might these things be overlooked in favour of her talent?
Melody is beautiful, but conniving and bitchy. She is envious of Jane for her talents in glaaaaaaaaaamour, and constantly belittles Jane every chance she's got. In front of all the boys! That's just mean. Melody is deceptive, bitchy, shallow.
Though she knew that she should aid her sister in making a match, Jane could not stomach the games that Melody played.
There's also a "sick" scene that was just pathetic. Melody is a combination of P&P's Lydia and Kitty. Kitty's shallowness and brainlessness and Lydia's compulsion and idiocy. And like Lydia, it's only too easy to see where Melody will end up.

The Rooooomance: Jane is in love with Dunkirk, but there's kind-of-not-really a love triangle because we know all along who shes's going to end up with. This man, we'll call him Mr. V, isn't quite Darcy. Darcy is subtle. Darcy is polite. Darcy is all that a gentleman should be. Mr. V..."His jaw clenched and he seemed about to say something, but the moment passed and his anger subsided," "made his sneer deepen," "smirked," "his teeth bared as he snapped his reply." More like a hound of the Baskervilles than a man. Mr. V is as subtle as a brick to the face.

The Magic: What's the fucking point?! There's nothing to the magic. It comes from hidden strings in the air. people don't have to be born with it. It's like motherfucking embroidery, only men can do it too. And with all the maaaaaaaaaagical magic, it's being used for nothing but motherfucking party decoration.
There, a combination of glamour and paint contrived to turn the hall into a nymph’s grove. Though yet incomplete, the illusion teazed the spectators with scents of wild-flowers and the spicy fragrance of ferns. Just out of sight, a brook babbled.
Motherfucking OOOOOOOOOOOOH! What's the point?! Where did all this magic come from? If it's so powerful, why aren't more people using it? Why is it completely optional? If the strings are so fucking invisible, how come anyone can see them and pull on them if they want to? Isn't it completely contradictory to have invisible glamour strings that you can see and pull and manipulate?! Can I please have some freaking explanations?!

Ugh. What a waste of time. I'm going to go reread Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife. Darcy and Elizabeth fucking each other like rabbits had more depth than this book.
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Reading Progress

May 19, 2014 – Started Reading
May 19, 2014 – Shelved
May 19, 2014 –
page 100
32.89% "“But you must.” He held Jane with his gaze. “I would very much like to shew it to you.”\n \n Shew.\n \n Shew\n \n SHEW?!\n \n Austen was never so fucking pretentious."
May 19, 2014 – Shelved as: why-do-i-hate-myself
May 19, 2014 – Shelved as: uk
May 19, 2014 – Shelved as: try-hard
May 19, 2014 – Shelved as: siblings
May 19, 2014 – Shelved as: sleeping-pill
May 19, 2014 – Shelved as: romance
May 19, 2014 – Shelved as: regency
May 19, 2014 – Shelved as: magic
May 19, 2014 – Shelved as: jericho-fucking-barrons
May 19, 2014 – Shelved as: fantasy
May 19, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 91 (91 new)

message 1: by Layla (new)

Layla Even if Austen does use "shew," this is a ... pretty accurate attitude to hold towards Shades of Milk and Honey.

message 2: by Layla (new)

Layla Oh God that book. I know everyone and their mother loves them! and the sequels! but I could not tolerate them.

message 3: by Brigid (new) - added it

Brigid oh man! i'd heard such great things about this book. Maybe I'll like it better...i hope? -_-

message 4: by Derrolyn (new)

Derrolyn Anderson Hmmm... Gotta find that fanfic, LOL.

Nidah (SleepDreamWrite) Wow, um, that's a lot of anger there. 0_0
Nothing unusual there. ^_^

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies I don't know if I made my feelings clear or not.

message 8: by Brigid (new) - added it

Brigid Loved the review Khanh, now I'm second guessing my purchase.

I'm just guessing here, but I'm sensing troll potential here. They're coming....i can just feel it in the air Khanh.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies I know. They always come when I use this much profanity. I can't help it. I'm in a really bad mood and this book didn't help.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies And especially when it's such a clean, inoffensive book such as this.

I'm expecting "U CURSE = U DUMB" comments aplenty.

message 11: by Brigid (new) - added it

Brigid Khanh (Kittens, Rainbows, and Sunshine) wrote: "I know. They always come when I use this much profanity. I can't help it. I'm in a really bad mood and this book didn't help."

Oh no, what's the problem? you know, other than the book.

this book has a lot of fans too.

message 12: by Derrolyn (new)

Derrolyn Anderson This oughtta spice up my feed :)

message 13: by Brigid (new) - added it

Brigid since when does the use of a curse word make you stupid? It makes no sense to me. Actions and decisions make a stupid person, at least from my POV.

message 14: by Brigid (new) - added it

Brigid Derrolyn wrote: "This oughtta spice up my feed :)"

I'm ready with my machine gun, i'm open to other suggestions.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies There's a lot of people who assume if someone curses a lot, they must be really dumb with no vocabulary in their head besides BLEEEEEEEEP.

message 16: by Jana (new)

Jana Khanh wrote: "Mr. V is as subtle as a brick to the face."

So, it would seem, is this book. :( Such a shame, because I'd heard glowing reviews about later installments in the series. And I'm a fan of Austen's work, but I'm guessing that I might not enjoy this as much as I'd hoped. (If your anger is any indication.)

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies I don't care enough to continue. For a magical HR, there are better authors with more interesting characters, because there was no point to the magic within this book. I LOVE Austen fanfics. I've read an obscene number of alternate P&P books. They're all fairly bad, but none have been so boring or pointless as this.

message 18: by Brigid (new) - added it

Brigid Khanh (Kittens, Rainbows, and Sunshine) wrote: "I don't care enough to continue. For a magical HR, there are better authors with more interesting characters, because there was no point to the magic within this book. I LOVE Austen fanfics. I've r..."

wait, a minute. I thought this was alternate history, as so called by literary fanatics.

♥ Innocent Lamb ~ Forever Reading ♥ - AKA Smarties Someone needs to shew the writer how annoying that is. I can't even figure out what chuze is for. Choose/.

Either way... THis book sounds like it sucks.

Are you a fan of the originals?

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Brigid: In order for it to be called an alternate history, there has to be some kind of fucking background building. There was none. It's England. With some magic, largely decorative.

Innocent Lamb: Yes, I love the original Austens. Well, some of them. Can't say I care for Mansfield Park or Persuasion.

message 21: by Fi (new)

Fi Amazing review, Khanh! Wouldn't have touched the book if I were you, merely because of the color of the cover lol

♥ Innocent Lamb ~ Forever Reading ♥ - AKA Smarties I'd only read Jane Eyre. I find I have a had history with classics. *cough*RomeoAndJulet*cough*

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies

I probably shouldn't use that gif, since it has the word n**** in it >_<

♥ Innocent Lamb ~ Forever Reading ♥ - AKA Smarties Oh well. YOLO, right?

Gosh. I hate R&J. I have to study it this year for my English class - 10 weeks of torture right there.

message 25: by Savina (new)

Savina M. Hilarious. I love your rage, Khanh:)

message 26: by Kuroi (new)

Kuroi Why would the author chuse to write thiz whey? Does it zerve a purpuce?

(Seriously. Somebody explain it to me.)

message 27: by Jules (new)

Jules (Never enough time to read) I was just looking at this one yesterday and I'm so glad I read your review first. The language issues alone would drive me nuts!!

message 28: by Kribu (new) - added it

Kribu Dammit. This one's on my already-bought-to-read pile. I'd hoped for something, well, better. More magic at least...

Ah well, maybe I'll still like it whenever I get to it (which might not be for a few years yet - this review didn't make me hurry to push it towards the top of the TBR list, somehow). Ha. Ha.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Savina: Everyone does >_< I don't know why ~_~

Krishna: La! I do not know! It was a complete surprize that the author choze to do so.

Jules: I don't think it bothered everyone, but I'm a nitpicker for details. If you're as picky as I am, then there's a good chance you won't enjoy it.

Kribu: Nooooooooo. I'm glad you have a large TBR pile =) There was a lot of magic, but it's, like, pretty magic and nothing else. The magic, the glamour, is used for decoration, to make details in images move a la Harry Potter, to make things invisible for a play. To make a person look prettier. It's useless.

message 30: by Kribu (new) - added it

Kribu I wouldn't be bothered by the choice of archaic language (I sort of liked it in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell), but I would expect more consistency, yes - even if there wasn't always a lot of consistency in spelling back in the 18th century or so.

The use of magic for just, well, prettifying people is disappointing. :-/

message 31: by Martyn (new)

Martyn Stanley Another great review Khanh! :)

message 32: by Angela (new) - added it

Angela The inconsistencies in language would drive me INSANE!

Great review Khanh!

message 33: by Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten* (last edited May 20, 2014 07:01AM) (new)

Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten* I would take one look at 'shew' and toss the book, it sounds like such a made-up word lol. especially with so many inconsistencies.

message 34: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Thanks Khanh, adding yet another Austen-esque book to the must-avoid pile! This must be pretty bad if Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife is preferable to it, because that book was awful.

message 35: by Mike (new)

Mike This almost sounds like a Buzzfeed quiz was taken for making a book:

Choose a literary titan:
-Orwell (Dystopia with nothing new to say about the genre)
-Austen (English countryside Romance)
-Poe (end up with some murders and some horror themes but nothing actually scary)
-Asimov (Robots! or Space Ships! But probably aliens even though they were conspicuously absent from his books)
-Vonnegut (Ha! Trick question, no one would ever actually choose this one)

Choose a number of love triangles:
-No Triangles, just pentagons, pentagons as far as the eye can see

Choose an irrelevant "setting" feature that won't actually impact anything:
-Dragons (but not the fierce, deadly, ancient types)
-Robots (but don't raise any question about sentience and free will)
-Magic (but only used in the most insipid way by idiots instead of being studied and exploited by mad geniuses/corporations/governments/militaries)
-Aliens (but nothing fundamental about how humans view themselves and their place in the universe changes)
-Deadly disease (that doesn't actually change the normal patterns of life significantly

-Oh Hell Yes
-Why is this EVEN A QUESTION?

Slut Shaming
-What are you, some stupid skank? Of course yes
-Isn't that what all women do behind other women's backs?

Annoying writing style:
-e.e. cummings was my hero!
-1337 5p34k
-Olde Timey English (sometimes, when the writer remembers)
-How old people think teenagers talk

Female protagonist:
-Woman hater
-Too cool for school (and all those boy obsessed girls)
-Too cool for "love" (until she meets her destiny)
-Mary Sue
-A Mary Sue so Mary Sue-ish other Mary Sues would totally talk smack about her behind her back


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Angela wrote: "The inconsistencies in language would drive me INSANE!

Great review Khanh!"

I second that. No go for me.

And Mike, lol!! great comments as always.

ps. nincompoop <--haven't heard that one in a while, made me smile

message 37: by Brigid (new) - added it

Brigid Mike wrote: "This almost sounds like a Buzzfeed quiz was taken for making a book:

Choose a literary titan:
-Orwell (Dystopia with nothing new to say about the genre)
-Austen (English countryside Romance)
-Poe ..."

LOLLLLLL. wow that's some extensive stuff Mike. That list just makes me sad how many tropes authors use to form their plot lines and characters. ;(

message 38: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Nagy @mike

"Choose a number of love triangles:
-No Triangles, just pentagons, pentagons as far as the eye can see

So this got me thinking there is an Apeirogon which is infinite sides and if any YA author would ever be able to come up with a love Apeirogon I know it must be possible somehow. Maybe throw in some other universes then love Apeirogon with other versions of yourself clearly this is the answer.

message 39: by Mike (new)

Mike Aaron wrote: "@mike

"Choose a number of love triangles:
-No Triangles, just pentagons, pentagons as far as the eye can see

So this got me thinking there is an Apeirogon which is infinite sides and i..."

I will probably regret coming up with this plot idea but...

On one side of the world a scientists accidentally comes up with a compound that serves as an instant love potion that is perfectly soluble with water. It gets released and spreads to the entire world.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world a scientist is successful in creating a bridge between our world and every other world in the multiverse. The love compound then infiltrates the multiverse through some poor safety protocols.

Boom: a love aperirogen.

message 40: by Susana (new)

Susana Thank you, Khanh!
Finally a book to be removed from my tbr pile!

message 41: by Ellen Gail (new)

Ellen Gail Jane Austen would not fucking approve.

This sounds awful but I'm so glad you read it. I'm dying with laughter. But didn't you know that spelling things with a z was first invented in the 19th century? Wickham totally had the first "No Regretz" tattoo.

Oh and: "The difference is that when you bite into said GMO tomato, it tastes like mealy, mushy, tasteless crap. This book is the equivalent of a limp, tasteless slice of tomato on a McDonalds' hamburger" My tongue just shuddered reading that. Don't even try, McDonald's. If that's a tomato, then I'm a unicorn tampon.

Elizabeth The sequel comes up with a military application for the magic, and might qualify as an alternate history. But it still gives no idea how "glamour" works, really. Fairies or something, who knows.

message 43: by Tim (new)

Tim Phan-Nguyen Well, this doesn't sound very glamorous, I mean, glamourous.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Thank you, everyone!

Ashley: It's not a made up word, but if you're going to use antiquated language, I expect it to be used consistently

Hannah: Not gonna lie, I liked Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, if only for the giggles (and the sex)

Mike: we need to do a chapter using teenspeak. I would suggest leetspeak, but I had quite enough of that during my WoW days

Ellen: Jay-Z would not exist prior to the 19th century?! He would simply be Jay.

Elizabeth: Nice name! And it sounds more there as much writing inconsistencies as the first?

Tim: Nope >P

Zahara Cerise ~ Spring Fevering I just got this book from the library and started reading it, only to realize I had already gotten it from the library and quit reading it once before, for the same reasons you wrote in your review. Well, not all the same reasons, since I never got far enough to reach some of them.

I really hope I can remember not to get this book from the library again!

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Lol! 3rd time wouldn't be a charm!

message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

I was about to add this to my 'To Read' list, but from your review it looks like this book would drive me crazy. Thanks for stopping me from wasting my time.

message 49: by Brigid (new) - added it

Brigid Khanh (Kittens, Rainbows, and Sunshine) wrote: "Always happy to help =)"

*snort* Hahahaha! shit I just spit up my coffee.

Elizabeth As to the writing or spelling inconsistencies, I can't really recall any? But it was a long time ago. I remember reading an interview with the author where she explained that she did more research for the second book, and made sure that she only used words that Jane Austen would have used by making a actual "Jane Austen Word List" database out of all the words in Jane Austen's writings. So maybe it has some of Jane's idiosyncratic spellings, but is at least consistent about it.
The plot is much more interesting, if only for the relief of it not being about drawing rooms all the damn time. It still takes a while to get started. And there's not outright slut-shaming, but there is the unfortunate fact that the heroine is apparently the only woman with brains in England, and I don't know about France, she never really meets any women in France. I want to find out if she makes any female friends that she respects as equals before I read the sequels, because otherwise that would get pretty annoying.

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