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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-07-02 00:39
The Gracekeepers: A Novel - Kirsty Logan

I don't think I've ever read such a mess of a story. And I've read some convoluted messes.

So why does the Gracekeepers gets the first place in "Most Convoluted Story" award?

 

Well... imagine a vaguely distopyan setting in which the Planet has suffered the full consequences of global warming: The level of water has risen, leaving most of Earth (well, I'm guessing here... maybe it's some alien planet instead -_-) fully submerged.

 

The world is divided between landlockers (people who own land) and damplings (people who live on the sea), and this is where the concept starts falling apart due to its simplicity.

We are told that food is scarce... okay, that makes sense since there's less arable land available, but then we read that the people who live on land don't want anything "to do" with fish...

-__________-

You're hungry, there's food available, but "hey" I am going to be picky about it... because water is dirty, and people who live in the water are dirty. This is the explanation that is given. Less due to pollution and more due to superstitions.

 

Regarding Water... the oceans have risen, so what has happened to potable water sources?

Because, logically, (in this setting) that would mean almost no potable water. Strangely that is never mentioned.

Of course when you think that about half ( is it half? What is the percentage? We are never told) of the population that lives on boats, one has to wonder about the quality of the thing.

(I have to mention that the boat Excalibur, with the exception of soldier ships, never ever crosses path with other ships. No boat's jammings, ever. Amazing.)

 

Segregation

If you don't hold land, you're seen as less. That is what North is. She is a dampling and she lives and works on an circus.

Enters the Night Circus environment...not. This doesn't have anything to do with that book. Most especially it doesn't have anything to do with the images that Erin Morgenstern created.

 

LGBT romance

Well, in fact there isn't an actual romance between our Gracekeeper and North, the girl that lives in the circus. More like, they're instantly smitten when they do met ( there's hand holding and secrets sharing, because otherwise it would just take too bloody long), but they'll eventually meet again in the end of the book because in the meantime we'll have to be bored out of our minds by pov's of almost every single character in the book.

 

But what is a Gracekeeper, you ask?

Well, a grace keeper is someone who takes care of the graces.

And here, graces are birds.

Basically the girl, woman ( we have no idea of her age, or for how long she has been a Gracekeeper!) kills a lot of birds, when she places then in cages, like tombstones to mark where has placed some dead person to rest. And now as I think about it, I am left wondering how the cages are kept above water. -_- Are there poles? Do they have little inflatable vests?

 

Technicalities: they are a bitch.

 

Because you know, reusable cages and all that, so the birds die of the elements and starvation. Oh, and there was this little bit of information as if the birds were engineered to last a certain amount of time ( the time period for mourning of that person), but later on there's nothing else to clarify what type of society these people live in.

Stone age meets X-man?

 

As for our Grace Keeper, Callanish ( there's another one, but he's a drunk, and he only appears for a few pages, so who cares about the guy?), well, when the story starts, I was left with the impression that she had committed some crime, and that was her punishment: being a Mortician for dampling people. But later on, we are told that she choose that life. So, I guess anyone can volunteer?

*not Katniss. Katniss would never be such an idiot.*

 

Talking about Morticians and other technicalities...I guess Callanish has a lot of strength to dump a lot of dead bodies in the ocean, right? Oh, and then there's the fact that THAT is done in the most shallow part of the ocean... because IT MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO F***G LOGIC!

 

Characters

Well, there's Callanish the gracekeeper, with the mysterious past.

 

North a girl who lives on the circus Excalibur with her bear, with whom she performs. The bear doesn't have a name. He's her best friend, but apparently it never crossed North's mind to give him a name. ( Here I was left thinking about Lyra from Pullman's trilogy and the relationship she had with her soul animal)

 

There's the ringmaster (aka Arthur), the owner of the circus, who is married to Avalon ( a crazy bitch determined to incarnate all the crazy bitches from the Arthurian Legends?) his second wife, and there's also a son (Yeah, I don't care about his name) from a previous relationship. The son, who is a boring as soaked bread, has a bit of Mordred in him, so you know what this means...

As for the other characters, like the clowns, they are mostly used by the author to briefly approach the issue of gender bending. And I say briefly, because the way it was dealt (poorly), reminded me those last episodes of Sailor Moon when some characters appear leaving us wondering if they were guys or women.

 

What else?

Oh, there's women being impregnated by something with scales, but that's okay, because we "should" see that as a form of integration.

             How to live both on land and on the sea?

Well, that's easy: just go lie by some shore, and some dude/scaly thing will appear and "you'll" be ecstatic! See? Who cares about consent?

Of course there's still some bit of xenophoby lying around, so lets say that babies born with ebbed toes and hands are usually killed on sight.

 

As for the plot?

Well, as you can see there isn't one. People meet and then we get their pov's about relationships or other stuff.

The part that takes place in the circus setting, feels like a never ending soap opera.

Avalon hates North because she's a jealous nuts, and that's it.

 

Then there's crazy religious people. Both on land as on the sea because EQUALITY.

Sex traded as a bargain coin. Because, why not?

And people having their life dream destroyed because "he" wouldn't be Arthur if that didn't happen in the end.

Oh and they

kill the bear in the end.

(spoiler show)

Ye Gods, I have an headache.

 

Oh, and this gets two starts because although hating it, I had to keep reading just so I could find out what other absurdity was going to show up next!

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review 2016-02-26 02:15
The Maiden Thief
The Maiden Thief: A Tor.Com Original - Melissa Marr

I went into this story without actually having read a synopsis: I just fell for the title and the cover, despite this being by Melissa Marr... I may have about three books of her "Wicked Lovely" series. I would have to check. That's how much I liked those...

 

So... "Maiden Thief"?

Great name for the title. Great haunting spooky minimalistic design.

I actually liked the beginning, and I was really curious about what was going to happen.

Unfortunately, my tolerance for this story wasn't destined to last beyond this line:

 

"We are not petty with each other, not short of temper or ill of manner,(..)Being with my sisters fills me with peace."

 

Great! That's what I was thinking by then! The girls, the sisters like one another and they respect each other. What more can a reader ask?

 

Just that this "sentiment" wouldn't follow:

 

"My sister smothers her gasp by slapping her hand to her mouth. It’s such a girlish gesture that I wonder how we’re related."

 

I just can't deal with this crap. These little offensive remarks that are supposed to separate our illustrious heroine from the rest of all "us women", because she is different.

When girlish and feminine are used as offensive remarks, my interest in a story pretty much fades.

Then it doesn't help that there isn't an actually developed story. For the type of retelling that this hopes to be

Blue Beard

(spoiler show)

what we are told is just too little. 

girls lying around in glass coffins alive... because of tubes? What is this? How? Why?

(spoiler show)

Give me a time period and stick to it. Parts of it feel Medieval, and then there's Doc Frankenstein?

Then there's "casual" raping, but then the guy gives her an orgasm, so our smart heroine decides to go with him. Because, she's that smart...and different from the others -_-

(spoiler show)

The last line is actually good, but the whole thing was just a mess.

And I am used to messy retellings.

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2016-02-05 00:30
Nope.
Love in the Light - Laura Kaye

Between the over the top drama, angst, cheesiness, and the constant sex, I got tired of this pretty quickly.
Despite that, I did manage to finish it isn't it wonderful how fast e-readers let you skip pages? in the hopes that maybe the characters would start acting like real people, instead of sugared versions of themselves.
...
Yeah, right.
C'mon how many

car accidents can you have in one novella? [/spoiler]

(spoiler show)


Sure I felt sorry for Caden who is going through a phase of clinical depression, but, the constant "I am not worthy of her" got really tiresome to read. Also, I cannot understand how someone with his background would be able to follow a profession so stressful for ten years, without proper medication. I just can't.
Maybe if there wasn't so much telling, the story would have been more tolerable to read, but as it was, I struggled constantly with the urge of Dnf it.
Definitely not my cup.

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review 2016-01-14 10:42
"Those places where sadness and misery abound are favoured settings for stories of ghosts and apparitions."
The Midnight Palace - Carlos Ruiz Zafón,Lucia Graves

What can I say? Thisreally isn't right up my alley, but my mother-in-law highly recommended it and I love that woman, so I gave it a try. I shouldn't have. 

 

I liked parts of it - mostly the writing. Zafón has a way with words. He lets them flow, makes them run through you, paints pictures in your mind. It's a wonderful albeit scary experience. It did however make me want to read more of this author's work which makes it not a total loss. 

 

 

"Set in Calcutta in the 1930s, The Midnight Palace begins on a dark night when an English lieutenant fights to save newborn twins Ben and Sheere from an unthinkable threat. Despite monsoon-force rains and terrible danger lurking around every street corner, the young lieutenant manages to get them to safety, but not without losing his own life. . . .

Years later, on the eve of Ben and Sheere’s sixteenth birthday, the mysterious threat reenters their lives. This time, it may be impossible to escape. With the help of their brave friends, the twins will have to take a stand against the terror that watches them in the shadows of the night—and face the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces."

 

 

The blurb was very promising. I can't say I'm an expert on Calcutta, but I consider it a good thing to broaden my horizon now and again. I liked the first chapters very much. Thrilling and mysterious, it was all I could ask for in a book. Bite me, I'm a sucker for mystery novels and crime solving plots. Years later, Ben and his Chowbar society were a very loveable bunch. Young teens, not quite children anymore, but also not exactly adults, are unique and wild in a sense, but always stick together. Sheere and her grandmother were different. Especially the grandmother. Her issues were her own, and yet she forced a young girl to a lifer of fear, solitude and escapism. 

 

And the grandmother brings me to the parts I didn't like. As much as I enjoy a mystery plot, this one was all over the place. Mostly because despite the wonderful writing style, Zafrón failed to explain a lot of things. Or at least allude to them right from the start in order to make them plausible. The supernatural aspect of the story was strong, the corresponding plotline remained vague, pale and unsatisfying though. I was always torn between figuring out the origin of the supernatural or the mystery as a whole. Which led to a kind of constant distraction because time and time again, I would try to understand if one part of the story would finally give me a rational explaination for the superpowers or if the superpowers just were what they were and I should take all the other parts of the story as a piece of the mystery puzzle without thinking too hard about it. In the end, I wasn't happy with the execution of both, the supernatural and the crime solving. 

 

Also, the story started to fizzle and fly all over the place after approximately one third of the book. So many plotlines, so many pieces of a greater puzzle I wasn't able to see until almost the very end. Dramatic high points drowned in all the changing POVs that albeit being interesting, confused me or even bored me at one point or the other. The worst was the telling. So much telling of the same tales. Well written, but still all over the place. And when I get the same story told for the umpteenth time - with some parts changed completely and others completely the same? I'm over- and underwhelmed at the same time. The only good thing about that was my growing empathy for Jawahel, the "villain". Still didn't save me the disappointment at the end, but it gave the super-bad guy some facets and layers. 

 

All in all, I was sceptical going in because of the "horror" aspect of the story - since that is not my favorite genre. Being done with it, I can honestly say: The horror was not the problem. It wasn't the writingstyle, either. The plotlines and -holes, the lack of consistency and plausibility, the overall jumbled mess of explainations really didn't do it for me. Sadly disappointed. 

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review 2015-11-15 00:00
Personal Changes
Personal Changes - K.C. Wells

Since I bought a bundle of all the stories in the series, I was determined to read all of them at least once. I was a reader on a mission, quitting was not an option.

Which was actually pretty hard, because while this story was a little better than the first installment (end was the same sickenly sweet HEA for practically everyone in basically every aspect of their lifes), I still couldn't really enjoy the writing. I'm beginning to think it just might be that K.C. Wells and I don't go together. Maybe the style isn't for me, I don't know. It sure seems like it's another everone-loved-but-me.

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