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review 2015-10-31 10:49
Review: Welcome to Night Vale
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel - Jeffrey Cranor,Joseph Fink

The good news: this book captures the spirit of the podcast very well. And while Cecil's voice is a major factor in my love for the show I didn't miss it that much. I think it helped that it isn't simply a radio-show that's written down but features different characters and just has some short interlude chapters in which Cecil hosts. (And despite that there's still enough of Cecil, Carlos and all the other regulars).

The bad news: For me Night Vale works a lot better in 30-minute podcast segments. Reading a book, that's set in a world, where the rules of logic don't apply at all, is just very frustrating. I enjoy listening to the utter craziness that is Night Vale but if I read about people who are trying to get to a place but can't because things are incredibly weird, and then in the end manage after all because they do something utterly weird...I almost feel cheated. Like an author has written himself in a corner and then pulls something random out of his hat to solve the problem.

Except of course the rules of Night Vale are, that there are no rules and podcast-episodes got resolved into similarly weird manners so it's not bad writing. Still it just didn't work for me. I think it might have been the length more than the fact that it was a different medium. A collection of short stories might have worked better for me than a long one where one weirdness gets piled onto another.

 

ARC received by NetGalley.

 

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review 2015-08-24 10:10
Review: Ménage a Musketeer
Menage A Musketeer - Lissa Trevor

Just for the record: they missed a glorious opportunity by not making the tagline of this book All in One and One in All.

I had expected this book to be The Three Musketeers with more (explicit) sex than the original as well as a side-note of d'Artagnan being worried about developing feelings for more than one person (in the original he is rather blasé about that).

A closer look at the blurb might have stopped me from thinking this but my brain just stops working as soon as the word Musketeer appears somewhere. At least that's what I tell myself because otherwise I would have no apology for watching The Ring of the Musketeers. Ehem. Back to topic. Because it is not that kind of book. It is pure, unapologetic smut, set in a parallel universe where everybody wants sex all the time and has sex all the time:

  •  Treville having special ideas about what d'Artagnan could do to speed up his Musketeer application? Check.
  •  Athos demanding a different kind of compensation when d'Artagnan runs into him? Check.
  •  Musketeer-initiation orgies? Check.
  •  Constance/d'Artagnan/Queen Anne-threesome? Check.
  •  d'Artagnan/Milady/Athos-BDSM-threesome? Check.


And...that's great if you like that kind of stuff. Only: I don't. Not much. I do have to hand it to the authors that most of the sex-scenes are rather well-written. There is the odd weird metaphor (drinking the sweet nectar of her delta and the inevitable battling tongues) but even as someone who is often very nitpicky about sex-scenes I didn't have that much to complain about.
Except, well, the sheer mass of them. Constant sex-scenes do not make me feel anything except boredom. And they really are constant. The author went through the original novel and asked about every scene 'can I add sex to that?' If the answer was yes she did and if the answer was no it got summed up in a few sentences or skipped completely. Which lead to one occasion where they referred to something that happened only in the original novel but not in Ménage á Musketeer. (To be fair: I assume a grand total of one person noticed that). I also wonder how Athos managed to have a hardcore BDSM-relationship with Milady but still never noticed that she had a Fleur de lis-brandmark on her shoulder. (This by the way falls under 'sentences I never thought I'd write in a review ever').

There is also another issue: consent.
And yes, I am aware that this is smut. Smut set in an alternate reality where everybody is always horny. Which I would have been fine with if the author had gone all the way through with this. Pretended that situations where one partner wants sex and the other didn't exist at all. But she didn't. There is some lip-service paid to the fact that perhaps not everybody might be comfortable with everything when Aramis informs d'Artagnan before his initiation orgy that he can say no at any time. ('Sentences I never thought I'd write in a review ever' #2).
In a realistic context the power-dynamics of this situation would have been so screwed that nobody would have dared to refuse. But we aren't in a realistic context. We're in smut fantasy land where everybody is willing all the time anyway. At least on-screen. Milady's past gets a redemption-retcon: she did not seduce a priest into fleeing with her, she fled alone because he tried to rape her. Now I don't mind at all that Milady gets turned into a good character. But the way how it is done here combined with what kind of book it is just very unfortunate.

All that combined with the fair number of typos (among other things d'Artagnan is sometimes spelled 'D'Artagnan') the book is simply not that overwhelming. If you're searching for pure Porn (almost) without plot you could do worse. But also better (and I am guessing a lot of it for free on AO3...). And for me decent sex-scenes alone just aren't enough.

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review 2015-04-13 20:35
Review: The Duke of Andelot
The Duke of Andelot (School of Gallantry) - Delilah Marvelle,Jenn LeBlanc

Long before becoming the flamboyant courtesan known to men as Madame de Maitenon, Thérèse Angelique Bouchard, dreamed of becoming an actress capable of commanding not only the stage but all of Paris. Until she meets an extraordinary aristocratic gentleman who sweeps her into his arms and the danger of his life, while offering her the sort of wealth she never imagined. What starts off as a seductive alliance, ends in her giving him the one thing she, as a mere bourgeoisie, cannot afford to give: her love.

After the murder of his older brothers, Gérard Antoine Tolbert, becomes the last heir to the powerful dukedom of Andelot, leaving him to fight for not only his life, but the allegiance he holds for the crown. During the final rise of the French Revolution that whispers of the violent change about to shake the entire country, Gérard meets an aspiring actress who entices him into wanting more out of not only himself but life. In trying to protect her from their overly passionate alliance and those that want him dead, he must decide what matters most: his life or his heart.

 

 

Sadly, as this was an e-book I couldn't do this to the book even though I really, really wanted to for it was absolutely horrible.

I was immediately drawn to it when I heard it took some inspiration from The Scarlet Pimpernel, a book I really liked but The Duke of Andelot doesn't even come close to being that enjoyable.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a story about a French noblemen who rescues other noblemen from the clutches of the French Revolution. It was also written by a baroness so it is not the most balanced look at a time in which a lot of commoners killed a lot of noblemen. Still, it has some sympathy for the common people and also admits that not all nobles necessarily always acted...noble towards  the lower classes. Compared with the portrayal of nobles and commoners in The Duke of Andelot, it reads like The Communist Manifesto. 

 

With very few exceptions the nobles are all good people and charitable. They always help the poor, pet fluffy kittens and the sun is shining out of their arse...

The exceptions are:

  • Gérard's father. But then he was nicer once but then evil lowlife commoners killed his wife and now he's a broken man and also hates those evil lowlife commoners
  • The random duke who engineered the French Revolution. Yeah, you read that right. The people didn't just start this revolution on their own. He bought all the grain, so the people would revolt, kill all the nobles (except him), then quietly sit down again and let him be king. I am not making this up. How did he think this would work? How did the author think this would work? Probably not at all which is why the Duke is mentioned only twice and the second time is to inform us that he was murdered.
  • The Marquis de Sade. Yeah. He's in the book.

    Don't ask me about that plotline. Let's just say that this man certainly enjoyed pain but certainly not the pain of being in a character in this idiotic book.

 

The commoners meanwhile just don't understand that all nobles are just the bestest people ever and just keep on killing them in gruesome ways. Stupid people. Never let them have any power, they need better people to keep them from doing something silly. 

 

The exception is of course our heroine. Despite being one of 11 children of a butcher she has a proper education for some really contrived reason and is also really sympathetic towards the poor misunderstood nobles. However poor Thérèse has a problem: nobody appreciates her inner values, nobody sees past her stunning beauty and her large boobs

 

 

All men leave her presents like food in the hope that one day she will give them something in return. (Do I have to remind you that we're talking about (pre)revolutionary France here? People had lots of food to spare). Yes only in the hope because Thérèse never would be that kind of woman.

Well until she meets Gérard who can offer a lot more than a few chickens: pearls, diamonds, money in general and a job at the theatre (she wants to be an actress). All that exchange for a bit of sex is quite a good deal so she agrees under the condition that he won't get her pregnant (she wants him to pull out in time). He agrees and remembers that for about 10 minutes...then he's too distracted by her big boobs, unearthly beauty and virginal sex-goddess skills to do that. She is obviously pissed and wants to leave. So he shows his charming side:

"You belong to me now, Thérèse. Me. Because you said yes to me. Do you remember? You said Yes. And in saying yes to me, you are no longer allowed to say no."

Isn't he a romantic?

For some reason that is not Thérèse's reaction. Instead they mope about each other for the rest of the book, more poor nobles get killed by evil commoners, people get tortured for months without any lasting psychological consequences, Thérèse's cycle is so irregular that she can't tell for four months if she's pregnant (also: after hating the idea of herself getting pregnant she's suddenly all about 'BUT WHEN WILL THERE BE BABIES???' when it comes to other women...because breeding is all we're good for) and probably more idiotic things that I have already blocked out again because all you can do after reading this book is consuming massive amounts of brain-bleach.

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review 2014-10-04 15:43
Review: Die Schatten von La Rochelle
Die Schatten von La Rochelle - Tanja Kinkel

Das Buch begann mittelmäßig aber nicht so, dass ich jegliche Hoffnung verloren hätte. Dann ging es einfach nur unglaublich langweilig weiter. Vor lauter Rückblicken und Personen deren Relevanz für den Plot absolut nicht ersichtlich war hatte ich beinahe vergessen worum es eigentlich ging. Das ganze wurde nur übertroffen vom Schluss der...nun ja...sagen wir es mal so: Verbotene Liebe hatte realistischere Handlungsstränge.

 

Und damit ist schon das meiste gesagt. Ein Roman über eine der Verschwörungen gegen Richelieu hätte interessant werden können aber da der historisch interessierte Leser nun mal weiß, dass der Kardinal relativ friedlich im Bett gestorben ist kann man nicht so tun als wäre das Spannende 'wird es den Verschwörern gelingen oder nicht?'. Man muss die auftretenden Charaktere so sympathisch (oder vielleicht auch unsympathisch) machen, dass es egal ist ob man weiß was aus ihnen wird oder ein paar nicht-historische Charaktere dazuschmeißen um die sich der Leser sorgen kann. 

Kinkel macht beides aber beides gelingt nicht. Marie (Richelieus Nichte) zeigt ein paar gute Ansätze aber die meiste Zeit war sie nur nervtötend und ihre Entscheidungen nicht nachvollziehbar. Die nicht-historischen Charaktere...da war Charlotte die absolut keinen Einfluss auf die Handlung hatte [spoiler]außer um sich am Ende um Maries uneheliches Kind zu kümmern[/spoiler] und die auch nicht dreidimensional genug wurde, dass ich mich um sie gekümmert hätte. Außerdem gab es noch Paul & Raoul, wobei letzterer hätte auch durch eine formschöne Topfpflanze ersetzt werden können (außer am Ende...aber da wäre er auch nicht nötig gewesen wenn Marie nicht spontan alle Gehirnzellen verloren hätte). Und Paul...sprechen wir nicht über ihn. Das ist das beste.

 

Des weiteren gibt es noch zwei Schiffskapitäne in Nebenrollen. Ihre Namen: Jean-Luc Picard und Riker. Warum? In einem eher humorvollen Roman wäre das eine amüsante Anspielung aber in einem Roman der gerne ernst genommen werden möchte dachte ich nur

 

Ansonsten kann ich es auch überhaupt nicht ausstehen wenn Französische Phrasen in Dialoge eingestreut werden wenn das Buch sowieso in Frankreich spielt und die Figuren dementsprechend sowieso Französisch sprechen...eigentlich dachte ich das wäre eine Fanfiction-Unart aber wie alles Schlechte nimmt es wohl auch veröffentlichte Bücher in Besitz.

 

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review 2014-05-29 12:48
Review: Die Letzte Instanz
Die letzte Instanz - Elisabeth Herrmann

Eines der lobenden Cover-Zitate zum zweiten Joachim Vernau Band war Elisabeth Herrmann kann einfach schreiben und dem kann ich nicht widersprechen. Es gibt wenig Autoren bei denen ich mir beim Lesen so viele Sätze rausschreiben/anstreichen möchte weil sie einfach so wunderschön sind (ich tus dann doch nicht...weil ich nur bei E-Books markiere und zum 'Zettel zum Aufschreiben' holen dann doch zu faul bin). 
Der Krimi an sich ist auch wirklich gut und anders als viele andere Romanen in denen das Thema Selbstjustiz aufgegriffen wird geht es hier nicht um kaltblütige Mörder die davongekommen sind. Es haben nicht mal alle selbst die Tat begangen, sondern sind "nur" im moralischen Sinne (mit)schuldig. Auch wenn der größte Teil der Opfer seine Handlungen nicht bereut und nur einer sich wirklich verantwortlich fühlt ist das trotzdem noch ein Unterschied zu der in vielen anderen Krimis dieser
Art üblichen schwarz-weiß Malerei. 
Leider kann das Buch trotzdem nicht so wirklich überzeugen. Die Geschichte braucht ein paar zu viele glückliche Zufälle um zu funktionieren und was noch wesentlich mehr ins Gewicht fällt: Ich konnte Vernau nicht abnehmen, dass er wirklich so unsterblich in Salome verliebt ist. Denn er ist es wirklich, er sagt es selbst und er macht Entschuldigungen für ihr Verhalten wie es sonst nur ein frisch verliebter Teenager könnte. Nur...warum? Von Anfang an behandelt sie ihn unmöglich, lügt ihn an, weicht aus wenn er fragen stellt...es gibt kaum Momente in denen sie wirklich freundlich ist (und die sind allesamt sehr kurz). Dass sich Vernau trotzdem so unsterblich in sie verliebt war einfach nicht wirklich glaubwürdig...und da ihr Verhältnis auch Einfluss auf den Kriminalfall hatte zieht das die Wertung dann doch nach unten.

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