Michelle’s Paper Garden: The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

Title: The Friday Society
Author: Adrienne Kress
Publisher: Dial
Year: 2012
Type: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 440 pages
Genre: young adult, steampunk, mystery, historical fiction, fantasy

Summary: An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns –and the heroines who use them all.

Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.

[http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5623269-the-friday-society]

Review:

I was really excited about this book when I first came across it on Goodreads. I was so excited that I stopped reading A Clash of King just to read this. I figured it would be League of Extraordinary Gentlemen minus the gentlemen and Batman-esque gadgets. So far, I have none of the above and it makes me very sad.I haven’t even finished this book yet and I don’t think that I will finish it. Firstly, it is supposed to be steampunk. Where is my steampunk?! They sort of mention airships and steamcabs in passing; it doesn’t feel like a steampunk book.

Secondly, I am not a big fan of the main characters. The three main girls were ridiculously beautiful, intelligent, and more than capable of handling things on their own… sort of. Cora falls in love at first glance, Nellie causes men to fall all over her reminding me of Alisha from Misfits, and Michiko is constantly pitying herself. I was hoping for awesome female leads and instead I get them. I am not against flawed characters and anyone who tries to argue against that should take a look at the other books I have reviewed because I am all about tormented antiheroes. These girls felt like young adult cliches.

Thirdly, the dialogue and narration was terrible and I think this is the biggest reason I probably won’t finish it. I really get into books when I read them. I slip out of reality and fall into the world the author has created. The way this author writes bothered me. This was supposed to be a HISTORICAL fiction, but the author uses modern slang like smokin’ hot and crush. It threw me off and pulled me out of the book world. It is making reading this thing a whole lot harder. The modern slang feels wrong so it sort of ruins the book for me.

So in conclusion, I am probably not gonna finish this book.

So far I give it a 2/5.

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Nostalgic Tales : Sweet Tooth

Title: Sweet Tooth
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Author: Ian McEwan
Type of Book: Trade Paperback
Pages: 320
Genre: Spy thriller, romance, historial fiction, mystery

So before I start off this will perhaps one of hopefully few books where I am required to have two different ratings. The reason for this is because at the end of it I truly am not sure where my vote lies, or maybe in the end of it all, once I’ve regurgitated my feelings I will look on this book and give it a permanent mark in my mind.

Let’s begin.

Ian McEwan, at the beginning of the description of his novel Sweet Tooth, it was written: In this stunning new novel, Ian McEwan’s first female protagonist since Atonement is about to learn that espionage is the ultimate seduction. – By Goodreads.

I wish I had been more mindful to the words: Ian McEwan’s first female protagonist, merely because ladies I feel this author does us women no justice, this author… presented me with the most pathetic, useless, and frivolous female leads that I have ever come across. Makes me wonder…why write such a character?

Serena Frome a gorgeous, gorgeous girl with long blond hair, big blue eyes and rather big on literature is a floosy. This well-rounded person, has a feminist for a mother who forced her to make more of herself academically, a Bishop for a father whom she does not have a close relationship with, and the wild sister who is the total opposite. Overall she be an okay gal, but once gets to university now that’s when things unravel.

Again in the few 100+ pages she throws herself from one relationship to another all because of her undeniable need to possess all which is not hers. She seeks constant approval for all her deeds and pretty much…opens her legs without even knowing a person long enough, once more all in the act of needing to possess a person. What made me curious is that while you’re reading, all this in her POV she does make it a point to remind us the reader that she does need to be praised and for me while reading that I still had to ask “but you’re a babe! You should be able to make men beg for you!!” later on you do find out why she is like that.

Daddy Issues…plain and simple.

This book, bore me to death, I perhaps had too much hope when I heard it was a spy-thriller, I expected my female lead to be cunning and daring and strong. She was weak, confused, the life she lead and career path (the secret service) was not of her own volition, but she still continued on to make her past-lover content, even though he did end their relationship and left her in a random location. She felt very 16. But then again during the course of everything she may have been only 25-26 by the end of it all.I had to forced myself to get threw it because it was just very me-on-a-rainy-day-lazy. The first 100+ cover her life and time in the agency, her friendship with Shirley who I rather liked a lot and wished more of her was showcased.

There are many historical terms and facts which are thrown about and all the men are pompous, egotistical, machos who think women only need to be around to look at. Anything else, they’re not cut out for it. So it wasn’t until she was assigned her mission to recruit a fellow writer Tom Haley, later on lover to work on behalf of her undercover agency that things looked to be picking up. But Serena was still sucking for me. Even when she had her new lover, that didn’t stop her to be flirty and pompous to her ex-lover, who broke with her and later on it comes to bite her in the ass.

Nevertheless, the flirty-jealousy bit I do not mind, he is one crazy guy.

So that concludes the first rating and review = 1.5/5. I don’t like things to be rushed but I am not riding a camel in a desert either.

The second half of my review, cover chapter 18 (20 if I want be really generous) till the end of the book. This was the highlight of my long suffering, the ending had my jaw open and I could not stop saying “oh damn”. Up until that point I would have never suspected who the real spy was in the end. Serena does not get better, her only brownie point would have been when word of her cover blew up and she silently told her superiors to “screw off”. The only time in her life where she finally decided to do something for herself, which was to stay with Tom—awww romantic gesture, it did nothing to console me nonetheless. And perhaps, it was nice that her long questions of whether or not her older-lover truly loved her or not, was finally answered. She spends a huge amount of time obsessing over it.

Total rating for this section = 4/5, it wasn’t perfect but considering everything I went through it was.

Meli<3

Book Wish List: Strands of Bronze and Gold

Title: Strands of Bronze and Gold
Author: Jane Nickerson
Type of book: Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction, fantasy, fairy tale, mystery
Pages: 352

Nothing says trouble more than a young girl, down on her luck with no money, no home and no family suddenly receiving a letter from a man you haven’t seen in years. This particular man invites you to live with him and suddenly you are saved from your desperate situation. Already her circumstances give me grave anxiety, the girl is all alone, just 16 years old and is forced to embrace a world and way of life unlike anything she has experience. Boys and girls if you are hoping for a happy-go-lucky-tale you will not find it here.

She finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her.

This is supposed to be a retelling of the fairy tale Bluebeard and for those of you unfamiliar; it is a tale of a aristocratic man who repels all women because of hideous Bluebeard. Although he has had many wives they all end up disappearing. He eventually gets himself a new wife, but soon leaves her to attend important matters in another country, and before he does he gives his new wife a set of keys which opens many doors. Bluebeard tell her that she may go anywhere those keys allow her to, except the smallest room. It was forbidden and she promises him to be a good wife and not open that room. But like any other heroine, she doesn’t listen and learns the secret of her husband’s strange hobby, as well as the mystery of his past wives. Frightening story I must say, so to have a retelling I can’t help but nibble on my curiosity and wonder what will be different and the same. WILL THERE BE A HAPPY ENDING? . I know I have an addiction so sue me… actually, please don’t, my name has yet to reveal any monetary value teehee

And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world..

Goodness I get chills at that, could he possibly trying to re-create the image of a past love with all these girls with this one repetitive feature? That is such a typical sign of a serial killer based on a lot of Law and Order.

When you are given everything when you use to have nothing what do you do when faced with a terrible secret? I know I would run for the hills, but this 1855 so obviously my solution is a lot less possible. I have heard from other reviewers that this author is rather good and the general public have been pleased. I am hoping to end up having a similar reaction and feel that my hard earn 5$ plum points will be well spent.

-Meli <3

Michelle’s Paper Garden: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Title: The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1)

Author: Kady Cross

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Year: 2011

Type: Hardcover

Number of pages: 473 pages

Genre: science fiction, steampunk, young adult, historical fiction, mystery

Summary: In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the “thing” inside her.When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no “normal” Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of “them.” The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help–and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on–even if it seems no one believes her.

[http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9166877-the-girl-in-the-steel-corset]

Review:

I was so excited about a steampunk murder mystery story with a badass heroine that as soon as I got this book for Christmas, I dropped my schoolwork and the other book I was reading to dive into this tale. Then I started reading the thing and it held my attention for the most part. I was a little annoyed with the love at first sight thing because I am so very tired of that idiotic concept. Griffin King, the super rich and handsome hero, accidently runs over Finley Jane, the supposedly badass heroine mentioned above, and just like that they are attracted to one another. Bleh. Oh, and then there is a love triangle that includes a devilishly handsome criminal mastermind who is very obviously a nobleman as he gains and loses his cockney accent. He also falls in love with her very quickly.

To top it all off, there is an almost second love triangle going on between three secondary characters, who are honestly more dynamic and interesting than those mentioned in the previous paragraph. The attraction is more believable and sweet than the instantaneous love experienced by the others.

Enough with the mushy stuff and on to the murder mystery! The mystery is kind of lame. Now, I may have been slightly ruined after reading A Game of Thrones and trying to wrap my head around that complex web of a plot, but the twists in this book were pretty easy to solve. It took one or two clues before I guessed the whole evil plot and before I guessed most of the supposedly shocking twists about the characters, as every single one of them has a twist. Maybe others will find the mystery more challenging, but I thought it could have been concealed a little better.

The actions scenes were interesting. The main characters have powers and these powers make for some really cool fight scenes; they were usually well described fight scenes too that most likely involved at least one murderous automaton. On the topic of automatons, the steampunk theme was well done; it was always present, though sometimes the machines were only mentioned in passing.

Overall, I liked the book. They explained most of the mysteries that popped up throughout the book and for the most part the characters were interesting. The main character was a butt-kicking, abnormally strong girl, which was a nice reprieve. However, now this might just be me, but I think the author could have finished it all up nicely in one book. There is no reason for not one, but two sequels. I will read the sequels because I want to know why she is dragging on the story for another two books, but my expectations are not too high

3.5/5

I’d recommend it, but don’t expect too much. It’s a young adult mystery novel, not Sherlock Holmes, so it may be very easy to figure out.

The Seldom Diaries: Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck

 

13485500

 

Hemingway’s Girl
Erika Robuck
Published by New American Library
September 2012
Paperback
Historical fiction/Romance/Contemporary/Literary fiction
352 pages

 

In Depression-era Key West, Mariella Bennet, the daughter of an American fisherman and a Cuban woman, knows hunger. Her struggle to support her family following her father’s death leads to a bar and bordello, where she bets on a risky boxing match…and attracts the interest of two men: world-famous writer Ernest Hemingway and Gavin Murray, one of the WWI veterans who are laboring to build the Overseas Highway.

When Mariella is hired as a maid by Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline, she enters a rarefield world of lavish celebrity-filled dinner parties and elaborate off-island excursions. As she becomes caught up in the tensions and excesses of the Hemingway household, the attentions of the larger-than-life writer become a dangerous temptation…even as reliable Gavin draws her back  to what matters most. Will she cross an invisible line with the volatile Hemingway or find a wayto claim her own dreams? As a massive hurricane bears down on Key West, Mariella faces some harsh truths- and possibility of losing everything she loves.

… … …

((I loved this book, but the summary was a total pain to rewrite. Was it just me, or does it seem crazy long? Anyway…))

I like a good love triangle, don’t you? They might get a little dicey, but it doesn’t make it any less juicier. I’ve noticed that they always seem to be between the centre piece or in other words, the suspecting undecisive little chick-a-dee, that really nice loveable guy, and the problematic bad boy with a secret heart of gold. In this case, Erika Robuck tossed them all in a blender. The results were very interesting.

Robuck begins the novel with an older Mariella and her son, Jake. Son, you say? Naturally, I had to use the detective skills that I don’t have to read on and figure out which other point of the triangle this Jake belonged to. Especially if our main character’s intense reaction at the news of Hemingway’s demise was anything to go by. Color me intrigued.

The book reverts back to years earlier. Mariella’s relationship with her mother is strained at the death of her father. Her mother, Eva, still grieving at the loss and her two younger sisters who depend on her in more ways than one. Mariella doesn’t seem to get her own time to grieve, really. She’s got to be the strong one, trying to figure out how the family is going to pay of debts and put food on the table. Which is saddening, yet extremely admirable. Luckily, putting an almost stop on her bets at boxing matches, she swings a job working as the Hemingways’ maid.

Now I usually have favourites in these things. Whether it be Gavin’s sweet caring nature. Or Hemingway’s unnecessary complicatedness. I found myself cheering for both contenders, though I suppose Hemingway having already been married was just too sleazy. And throughout the book, it seems to be the same thought ringing in Mariella’s mind when she considers the writer’s actions towards herself and others.

Devastation erupts when she believes Gavin to be dead when the hurricane hits. I think even I might’ve cried. ((I cry over everything…) Thoooough when we discover that things aren’t exactly as they seem, it’s clear who Mariella’s choice was. Gavin and Hemingway are good sports throughout.

I believe I mentioned the badboy with the heart of gold?

This is me trying not to give the ending away. I think I failed.

Erika Robuck did a terrific job. Hemingway’s Girl already has a nice & cozy spot on my shelf. Amazeballs.

Xox,
Sasha

 

Sasha’s Seldom Diaries: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange Review

6691280Mr. Darcy, Vampyre
Amanda Grange
Sourcebooks Landmark- August 17th 2009 (first published August 11th 2009)
Paperback
Paranormal/fantast/historical fiction
308 pages

A married man in possession of a dark fortune must be in want of an eternal wife…
My hand is trembling as I write this letter. My nerves are in tatters and I am so altered that I believe you would not recognize me. The past two months have been a nightmarish whirl of strange and disturbing circumstances, and the future…
I am afraid.
If anything happens to me, remember that I love you and that my spirit will always be with you, though we may never see each other again. The world is a cold and frightening place where nothing is as it seems.
… … …
Hi again!

I haven’t written in a while, so I didn’t have any kind of idea on how to start this. Bare with me! I considered starting this off with a ‘dear diary’ bit, but I won’t push my luck.
I was thinking of telling you about a book that I fell in love with, but changed my mind. This is about a book that was…adequate? Yeah. Right now that seems like the best word. As I go on, that’ll most likely be sure to change. Anyway! Has anyone heard of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange? Although the cover of the book had me curious, the title was a dead giveaway. Which sort of sucks doesn’t it? Ha. But seriously. The whole point of the book is given away in the title, and I feel like with a few changes that easily could’ve been avoided. Yet, I kept reading.

Now I’ve never read the original Pride and Prejudice, but I own the movie. I know, I know. Not as good as the book. Doesn’t make me love it any less! The movie ends with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy finally, after all the dramatic and misunderstanding trials- FINALLY married and together. Mr. Darcy, Vampyre picks up on the honeymoon. Honeymoon you say? How adventurous. Kinky even? No and no. At least not really. Which is strange. When the term ‘vampire’ comes to mind (no matter how overdone it might be!) I think of seduction, danger and the most obvious of the obvious- pointy teeth and perhaps a whole lot of secret keeping. For most of the book, Elizabeth doesn’t have the unrealistic thought that Darcy is/could be (even though he is!) a vampire. I guess that makes it the tiniest bit realistic? I wouldn’t think that. If someone told me they couldn’t go out in the sun, I would simply think they were allergic. If I saw them biting into someone’s neck, or other body part with blood splattered all over their faces- I would simply think they were a cannibal and alert the authorities.

..Or run? I don’t know what would be the proper protocol in that situation.

The thought of vampires- no matter how unrealistic, is still a very fascinating and let’s face it, sexy thought. Amanda Grange, in my opinion at least, did not make it so. Which is okay. That is her vampy little world. Others might love it there. (My vampy world would probably include a deliciously yummy male population and drama…) On the one side, Darcy seems to be worried that he might accidently kill her. Elizabeth believes their newer than new marriage is in trouble because he hasn’t had sex with her yet.

Priorities seem to be in order. Obviously.

About halfway through the book, friends and family from Darcy’s past are introduced, but they don’t seem to offer any importance to the plot in my opinion. Most of them at least. Especially one villainous character who was useless enough that I nearly forgot that he was in the book. Quite literally, out of nowhere. He disappears just as quickly. The villain is a vampire they call Ancient One. I can deal with the cliché. What I couldn’t grapple with, was the fact that his only purpose was to try to kidnap and reclaim his so called ‘right’ to have sex with the newest vamp brides. What?

All I could think was- why exactly would he be doing this?

We never find out why.

There does manage to be a bit more of an understanding and peek into Darcy’s background story and how he became a vamp in the first place. So I give a nod of acknowledgement to that.

Once mentioned that Darcy could possibly become human again though, adequate has been demoted to lame. The idea of vampires is unreal enough without the mention of them becoming human again. Again…what?! I couldn’t deal with any of it without shaking my head. I shook my head so hard, I almost got whiplash. Just kidding. Not funny.

This book wasn’t my cuppa tea. Besides the necklace on the cover. So cute!
Xo,
Sasha

Mandy’s Musings: Of stars, books and Aztecs

This is going to be a slight change of pace from the series of book reviews we have been expertly spurting out so far (yes go us!), which is mostly due to the fact that I haven’t finished any books in time for today… my bad…

I do however have something up my sleeve, or rather, something waiting for me on my untidy desk.

That thing is this brick of a novel by Gary Jennings, an epic tale entitled Aztec.

The first time I heard of this book was in my Mesoamerican Art History and Archaeology class which I adored. The indigenous cultures of Central America have always fascinated me, especially because of my heritage on my dad’s side, and finding out that a class about them was offered in my program practically made me leap for joy.

However, I was afraid I’d have to seek out this book with no luck once vacation started, but imagine my surprise when I found it lying in a bookshelf in my boyfriend’s childhood home? I’m not really one to believe in fate or destiny, but god be damned if this wasn’t meant to be. The stars were in position for me to find this book! (…I should clarify that I don’t mean I simply met my boyfriend to find this book, this is just one of the many perks of being with him :p)

Anyways, as the title suggests Gary Jenning’s Aztec is about the Aztec civilization (or rather the Mexica as they referred to themselves), but more precisely, about the life of Mixtli-Dark Cloud before, during and after the arrival of the Spanish. Born the son of peasants, Mixtli quickly rises within Aztec society, starting as a young scribe, then a warrior, a wealthy traveling merchant, and finally a lord in the impressive city of Tenochtitlan and Motecuzoma’s emissary to the newly arrived Cortes and his Conquistadors.

I’ve heard that this book had some issues but I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve actually read the book. I also heard that this book wasn’t for the faint of heart, but having researched in countless books and sources about the sacrificial rituals of the Aztecs, I think I’ll be able to handle it (they were surprisingly graphic). Besides, faint isn’t even close to being my middle name.

Also, what is interesting is how the narrative is composed as a series of letters between Bishop Juan de Zumárraga and King Carlos I of Spain (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) who requested a chronicle of the lives of the Aztecs as they once were. This is where Mixtli comes in, now an impoverished old man but deemed educated enough “for his race” to share his life story, with friars transcribing and hanging on to his every word. And what an old man this Mixtli seems to be! As Zumárraga writes at the beginning: “From the very first opening of his mouth, the Aztec evinces disrespect for out person, our cloth, and our office as our Reverend Majesty’s personally chosen missionary, which disrespect is an implicit insult to our sovereign himself.”

As if I wasn’t excited enough! I hope this book doesn’t disappoint!

Mandy