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review 2017-01-08 20:00
The Contrary Tale Of The Butterfly Girl
The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume 2 (Notebooks of John Loveheart, E) - Ishbelle Bee

I find it difficult to review The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl. Much like its predecessor The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath, it will be unlike anything you've read before. Which also makes it hard to properly rate it.

John Loveheart is back and he's probably madder than ever before, as he dances his way through this story. It was interesting, but at times I have to admit that it really lost me and maybe was a bit too weird, sliding into absurdism that wasn't adding to the story any more.

However, at parts, following the crazy thoughts of John Loveheart are what made the story interesting. It is like a fairy tale for adults, as this sequel was darker than the first novel. In the end, there is room for another story, and I'm still curious.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2016-12-17 08:00
The Singular and Extraordinary Tale Of Mirror And Goliath
The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume 1 - Ishbelle Bee

Read near the end of 2016, but it is certainly a contender for the weirdest book of the year for me. It is difficult to place it somewhere, but if I had to, it would be some kind of adult fairy tale. I really liked the cover.

It starts out rather like a horror tale. Mirror grandfather, being mad, tried to kill her to conserve her soul in a clock. It turns out that a lot of children are disappearing by the hands of a certain cult. But since the story is told from different POVs and not chronologically, it will be of extreme importance to keep your mind with this read.

It certainly was strange. It was very interesting, and I cannot say I've read something similar before, but at times is was borderline absurd and because the story switched so often between many characters (all of which had their own weird stories) some parts of it felt a bit rushed.

I'm glad I already have the second book in the series, with an equally nice cover!

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2016-07-22 07:40
The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath - Ishbelle Bee
The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume 1 - Ishbelle Bee

I have no idea what that was all about.

 

It begins with Mirror, a fairly young child who was stuffed in a clock by her mad grandfather and rescued by the policeman Goliath, who can shapeshift and who later becomes her protector. Something happened to Mirror while she was in the clock, something supernatural, and Goliath is trying to find out what it was, visiting various mediums and other spiritual frauds.

 

But very little time is spent on this storyline: the book headhops chronically, getting progressively weirder as we see things from the point of view of a constable investigating a missing child case, a murderous 700-year old clock maker who steals the souls of children, the Lord of the Underworld, the wife of the Lord of the Underworld, and the Lord of the Underworld's son, and yes all of this sounds fabulous but you end up wondering if this was actually the best way to tell the story. The headhopping, and the non-chronological narrative that comes along with that, is just confusing as you try to work out what the fuck is going on and why you should care.

 

The setting is almost aggressively confused: as the cover suggests, it's vaguely steampunky, but the Victorian-ish setting is not very convincing and occasionally anachronistic. (You wouldn't, for example, be able to tell the title of a book from the front cover, as one character appears to do at one point.) Which is a problem, because the book's going for a Neil Gaiman-y adult fairytale vibe (I can tell this because it says "Perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman!" on the back) and one thing that Gaiman's books are quite good at is establishing a sense of place, and, more importantly, the magical rules which govern it, without which all fairy tales descend into chaos, as this book does. Lyrical and whimsical gets very, very tiresome after a while if there's no depth to the story.

 

There's a really icky bit at the end when

Mirror gets aged by magic and becomes Goliath's wife, which, wasn't he supposed to be like a father figure? Ugh, ugh, ugh.

(spoiler show)

 

And the book doesn't manage to shake off steampunk's colonialist aspects: it exoticises Egypt pretty severely, with talk of magical Egyptian princesses who can stop time and all the magical stars they have in Egypt and excavating Egyptian tombs and no actual interest in Egypt as a real, living place.

 

So, yes: I don't think this book really achieved what it was trying to do. Whatever that was.

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review 2015-08-09 18:31
The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl
The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume 2 (Notebooks of John Loveheart, E) - Ishbelle Bee

[I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Like the first novel in this series, I had trouble rating this one. Some aspects I really found delightful, while others left me cold.

I loved the "mad" characters' narratives—Loveheart's and Heap's. The way they tell of the events from their point of view, their disjointed thoughts, the apparently random use of capital letters, how they go about killing or maiming while wishing for custard and pursuing so many different musings, all these quite nicely reflected the fact they were all but human. Heap made for a glorious villain, while Loveheart was his lovely psychopathic self. I couldn't help cheering for him, even though he was basically just as much a monster as his nemesis. Only he didn't kill on such a large scale. Or did he? With him, you can never tell.

I also liked seeing White and Walnut back in action. They made for a funny duo, from their fumbling steps with the cursed jewel that sent them to Wales, to how they always ended up in dire straits due to being somewhat silly. In other circumstances, I'd file them as Too Stupid To Live; however, the tone here being clearly humorous and tongue-in-cheek, it left room for that, and it was alright.

On the other hand, a lot of the other characters were either quickly dispatched or barely etched, and very little development happened in that regard (though Mrs Charm and her medieval horror novels were amusing—I'd definitely read those if they existed, I mean, come on, "The Cannibal Bishop of Edinburgh" is a winning title, isn't it?). I would've wanted Boo Boo, more specifically, to be more fleshed, as she was an intriguing girl, considering how and where she was brought up.

The action felt disjointed in some parts, which was fitting when it came to Loveheart, but caused the story to be stuck at times on killing and severed heads flying in the room, but little else. The ending dragged a little, too, the very last chapter opening towards a third novel, yet the ones in between taking maybe just wee bit too long to close up the remaining characters' storylines.

Overall, a somewhat over-the-top novel that manages to make light of dark situations, with a charming twist of language, even though its rhythm itself was uneven. 3.5 stars.

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text 2015-07-08 04:58
A Small Bookhaul
A Dirty Job - Christopher Moore
The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume 1 - Ishbelle Bee

My new position at work and the holiday last weekend has definitely put me behind on my reading and on my blogging.  I've also been a bit under the weather as well, but I'm feeling better and things are finally back into a routine.  Over the weekend I found out that Christopher Moore would be in town this August to talk about his new series, and while I haven't read it, I do love other books he's written.  I've also never gotten a chance to hear him speak before, let alone the chance to meet him.  

 

So as luck would have it, yesterday due to work, I was right around the corner from a favorite bookstore of mine.  It was a good enough excuse to pop in and see if they had the book I was looking for.  They did!  After reading the back cover  I'm pretty excited to get bust into this one.  I was a bit disappointed with his last book, Serpent of Venice, but it's not going to stop me from being excited about this one.

 

The author event is for the second book in his Grim Reaper Series, Secondhand Souls.  Which actually comes out the day of the event.  Needless to say I'm super excited for August to roll around.  I'll probably have a blog post about it in the days following the event.

 

While I'm pretty sure I could have come out of the shop with all the books, it's a cash only bookstore, and I was the adult who budgeted this trip ahead of time.  So I ended up leaving with only one other book.  To be honest the cover pulled in from across the room, it's super shiny, and the back of flap sounded super cute.  I think it might be a Middle Grade book, but I'm not really sure.  I actually know very little about this book, and neither of my library friends had heard of it.

 

What I do know is that the second book comes out August 4th.  

 

That's it, my tiny little book haul from one of my local shops.  I also got some adorable postcards to send to my sister while she's away for work.  Feels good to finally get another blog post up.  I hope to have some reviews up soon!

 

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