Review: MIRANDA AND CALIBAN by Jacqueline Carey

*I received a free digital ARC copy from Netgalley in return for an honest review.
Dark, Young Adult, Historical Fantasy
Available Feb 14th, 2017
Available for pre-order now.
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Description
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I grinned like a maniac when my request to review this book was approved because it’s been on my must-read list since I first heard about it. I’m a die hard lover of Shakespeare and of Ms. Carey’s work, so to be able to read for review a retelling of The Tempest by one of my all time favorite authors made my day.
I stayed up ’til 4 am reading it, dropped my tablet on my face three times before finally admitting I couldn’t finish in one sitting.
Ms. Carey’s deep, lyrical style captures the relationship between young Miranda, her magus father, and the wild-boy Caliban. With elements of Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, the tale is intricate. Ms. Carey’s signature style of prose makes itself known and transports the reader to another world. A darker one where kids grow up under the aegis of power and vengeance.
In places, as the children learn one another, the story is joyful, in places it’s fearful and as they age into teens, in a time when a daughter’s duty is-by God’s will-her only righteous path… heartbreaking.
As usual with Ms. Carey’s books, I didn’t want the story to end.
When it did, my heart remained so sad. This isn’t a happily ever after type of tale, but it is beautiful, rich, dark and oh so very real.
I do hope there is more of Miranda & Caliban’s story to come. There would be room for it, in how the tale comes to a close… and I’m western enough that a sad–ending leaves me wanting.
Dare I say it? I’m thinking it… Miranda & Caliban could come to stand alongside some of my favorite tragic romances if the story continues. Considering that most of those romantic couples and moresomes are written by Ms. Carey herself, that’s not too huge of a shock. Lol, though nothing will ever top Phedre and Joscelin from Kushiel’s Legacy… these two could come close. If you like Shakespeare, Jacqueline Carey’s writing, dark fantasy with realistic twists… hie thee hence and pre-order the book.
Mild spoiler in the form of a trigger warning.
I do have some concern in that the word savage is used in regards to a dark haired, darker skinned individual, and I would have been much happier if Caliban had been blond and blue eyed with that terminology used for him. On a scale of heeby-jeebies caused by the use of the word, mine are low because there aren’t any stereotypical cultural references. He’s referred to as savage and wild-boy, which he is, in the Tarzan/Julie of the wolves sense. I can’t judge it perfectly as being stereotypical or not. I may not be experienced enough to do so, but I’d be derelict in providing an honest review if I didn’t mention that the use of that word for Caliban did give me pause.
Scores:

Readability: 5/5 stars: Readability… lol, tablet dropping on face at 4 am level of OMG I have to finish it.

Arcs: 4/5 stars: It’s harder for me to judge this one, meaning it’s getting a bit lower score. If it’s JUST this tale, and no other, if we never find out what happens after the end, the ARCs are truncated. If there is more of the story to come, as I’m dearly praying there will be, then it’s just the beginning of the series. The characters did grow from childhood to adolescence, they learned the basics of who they are and what they will do, and not do, so in that sense, the ARCs are complete enough. It’s the romantic ARC which is truncated, or maybe I’m just not happy with that part of it. (I’m a die hard romantic, I like a HEA.)

Writing Craft: 5/5 stars: My editor brain slept through the book except for two sentences which used filter words (feel… when to describe what the character was feeling would’ve been stronger). It wasn’t enough to drag me out of the story even a little.

Would I buy it for a friend?

I’d buy it for a friend who loves JC, or dark YA fantasy or dark fantasy in general.

Buy the Book!

Amazon

 

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Blog Tour: SOME KIND OF MAGIC

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*I received an ARC of SOME KIND OF MAGIC in return for an honest review.

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And to be honest, I squeaked like a happy kid when my review request was approved. Seriously, through the greatness of my writer friends on writer-twitter, I’ve heard about this book for months and wanted, desperately to read it.

I’m so glad I did!

In this sparkling debut novel, Mary Ann Marlowe introduces a hapless scientist who’s swept off her feet by a rock star—but is it love or just a chemical reaction?…

Biochemist Eden Sinclair has no idea that the scent she spritzed on herself before leaving the lab is designed to enhance pheromones. Or that the cute, grungy-looking guy she meets at a gig that evening is Adam Copeland. As in the Adam Copeland international rock god and object of lust for a million women. Make that a million and one. By the time she learns the truth, she s already spent the (amazing, incredible) night in his bed

Suddenly Eden, who’s more accustomed to being set up on disastrous dates by her mom, is going out with a gorgeous celebrity who loves how down-to-earth and honest she is. But for once, Eden isn’t being honest. She can’t bear to reveal that this overpowering attraction could be nothing more than seduction by science. And the only way to know how Adam truly feels is to ditch the perfume—and risk being ditched in turn

Smart, witty, and sexy, Some Kind of Magic is an irresistibly engaging look at modern relationships why we fall, how we connect, and the courage it takes to trust in something as mysterious and unpredictable as love.

Now, you all know that I AM a scientist, in real life I’m a forensic chemist/bioanthropologist, so I was a little leery that the science wouldn’t stand up, but it didn’t make me cringe once. Yay!

The writing is crisp and clean and the sex steamy enough to keep even ME happy. You can read more of my review on my review page with my scores, but here is the meat of it.

REVIEW of SOME KIND OF MAGIC

A retelling of Love Potion No9? Sign me up!

On top of one of my favorite movies of ever being retold in prose, with a few twists, I deeply enjoyed the well-rounded, fleshed-out and very real characters of this book.

It’s hard, sometimes, as an author, to do that. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes that the reader never sees and I’m thrilled that Ms. Marlowe did it because it made me adore her characters.

I’m not a sucker for ‘rock star romance’ I mean it’s not really my thing because I don’t have a fantasy of sleeping with my favorite rock star (lol, not even Levine, who I find soooo sexy) but I loved the MC Adam in this book, his trials and issues made him well rounded and believable. I am a scientist, and the FMC Eden was represented quite well in all aspects of that, including her list of things for a mate! (hah, so true to form there, at least for me). The way she thinks makes her a highly empathetic character for me.

Ms. Marlowe’s voice leaps up off the page and grabs you by the throat, refusing to let you go until you finish the book and the sex… oh my… I don’t make any bones about loving graphic, open door sex scenes that melt my panties, and my desires (ahem) were met perfectly in this book. The sex didn’t fall into the trap of being gratuitous either, there was enough story to carry it.

The story is smart (yay for smart writing!) and well written, with few editorial issues and the pace is page turning. It even had a satisfying emotional feel to it, which not every book can do for me.

Did I forget to mention it’s funny, too? It is. One-liners, sly jokes and laugh-out-loud humor kept me smiling throughout. I needed that laughter today, and for that reason alone the book would have garnered five stars. The REST is just as good though. Highly worth reading.

I look forward to reading anything else Ms. Marlowe writes.

You can pre-order a copy of SOME KIND OF MAGIC

Review page can be found here:

REVIEW of SOME KIND OF MAGIC (the review is the same as the above, only difference on that page is the scoring)

 

Star Wars: Rogue One. A riff, a razz, a review.

Narrated version here

So. I saw it. I hated it.

Hate is a strong word, right? Okay, fine. I LOATHED it.

Better?

I’m going to try not to post spoilers, in case anyone hasn’t seen it yet.

Given that it’s a box office best seller, AND rated 8.2 on IMDB, how in the world can I possibly dislike it? How can I dislike a movie that so many people are raving about and going to see two, three or four times in theater?

So, so many reasons. I bitched about it for hours (days) after. I wanted brain bleach and a toilet brush. It was freaking terrible. (In case you’re wondering, I went in with reasonable expectations. I’d seen the reviews of “I loved it” & “I really needed a movie like that now” as well as the “Well, the character development is a little lacking” and for what it’s worth, I really WANTED to love this movie. I mean, it’s STAR WARS, how do you fuck up star wars to this extent?? I mean, seriously?)

First 20 minutes-ish of the movie is dark, blurry and I sat there wondering if it was me? (so did my husband who has better than 20/20 vision, just so you don’t doubt my eyesight)  Or just a piss poor attempt at gritty cinematic filmography. I guess it must have been the latter.

We’re tossed into the middle of an action scene with minuscule lead up as to who these people are and why I should care. This is a poor pacing issue, you’ve seen other editors complain about books/movies starting in the wrong place? Yeah, Rogue One starts in the wrong place.

I think (without spoilers) that the persons who had the things happen to them were supposed to be poignant and sad, or maybe even heart wrenching, but I didn’t know them or care about them yet, so that fell flat. Big time. (Gods, riffing a movie is so hard without posting spoilers, just so you know!)

We slide over a decade into the future, and again, bad things happen to people I’m maybe supposed to care about? But it’s a poorly plotted point. Daring escape that is glossed over and we shift characters, again. (poor pacing, if this were a book I were editing, I’d be pointing that out to the author). Here we’re with the MC, and something bad has happened to her. Okay… maybe the movie is finally starting? (This is about 25 minutes in by the way, and we’ve bounced, roughly between characters and settings and time periods quite a bit. I’m not grabbed by the throat by any of this, I don’t know who the people are, where they are, what they’re supposedly fighting against or anything.)

THEN: In the middle of an action scene, the visuals finally clarify and everything becomes crystal clear.

Character development sucked ass. I mean, seriously? Who wrote this? The actors did an excellent job–with what they had–which honestly, wasn’t much. Even Forest Whitaker couldn’t do SHITE with that role. He tried, he really did. The acting (for all of the actors) came over as boring, flat and trite.

The bloody robot was the best character in the entire film, even with Diego Luna and his delicious accent. There just wasn’t enough ‘character’ for the actors to portray. Ugh.

Lol, I’d loooove to rape this entire film for its flaws, but… SPOILERS.

Action scenes make no sense, at all. Not even close. Throughout the whole film, I have massive edits on the action scenes. We get to the point at the end of the film where I’m wondering whether the ‘military’ alliance has any military intelligence whatsoever, or if the writers were suddenly replaced by inept marshmallow soft sci-fi writers who don’t even follow their own bloody canon. (I’m trying so hard to be polite. This movie is shit.) Look, it IS Star Wars. Sort of. No… the movie is star wars (waves hands in flapping motions) shaped. The insides are filled with rotten egg smell and if you’re a die-hard fan of the films, grew up on 4,5,6 (like me) it may leave you feeling extremely dirty for having witnessed its “glory”.

Gah… even thinking about it induces memories reminiscent of early morning hangovers in which projectile vomiting and oh-my-gods-what-did-I-eat diarrhea featured. Something oh, so, memorable and which you desperately wish you could forget. (oh, please, gods, let me forget!) Just spending this much time recalling the disbelief of how they could fuck up a by the numbers storyline so badly is making me ill. (I haven’t been this pissed off since I watched Transporter 3 or the Pirates of the Carribean (On Stranger Tides). In movies like these, there is a formula, tropes and a series of events that make it possible for a watcher to suspend their disbelief long enough to lose themselves in the entertainment of the world set in front of them, for a little while. You can play with and twist the tropes, sure, you can juggle the series of events, but there’s a formula, that people come to expect. You can’t dump it all out on the floor and crush it under bad writing boots and expect the movie to be a success just because it’s Star Wars! I couldn’t suspend my disbelief long enough because of the flaws in this movie (by Star Wars Canon even!) to enjoy it.

Plot… sigh. Apparently whoever wrote this tripe hadn’t ever studied the vagaries of human nature, or bothered with the basic associations of the laws of nature or physics. By the end of the film there were so many miraculous hijinks that we’re left wondering how the characters could survive, much less survive to enact battle against the empire. I have a list in my head, but… spoilers.

And no one, has ever, missed a pot-shot moaning about how their companion has died in the midst of combat. In the middle of a fire-fight is not the time to fall to their knees and bemoan the fate of their deceased companion. I mean, has no one heard of snipers?

They’re a thing.

Most enemy soldiers wait for a moment, a bare second, for anyone to stand still long enough to take a kill shot. Yet we have monologs and no one is getting hit with all the stray bullets/laser beams? Really? Pffft.

Look. I’m not against the whole emotional UMPH… I’m actually really good at writing that, but, after all the freaking WW2 movies we’ve seen, have writers learned nothing about emotional gut-punching and basic assassin techniques? After seeing so many movies featuring wars, (or, ya’know, reading good books) we KNOW, deep down, that the person who hesitates, or who doesn’t take cover. Dies.

Gah. My tongue feels fuzzy at even THINKING about this movie.

Canon. Can we talk about canon?

It takes time (a lot of time) to build or repair a fleet. (Spoilers!)

This movie is like… what, Star Wars three point five? Ish?

So yeah, the end makes sense because there isn’t any other way for the characters, but really? It needed to be written in a more realistic way. The event that ends the movie, the characters escaped at the beginning of the very same movie, but they just sit down for it? Um. What?

Romance… Um. This movie is so going to be lauded as one of the ‘greatest romances of EVAR!’ Sort of like Romeo and Juliet.

But.

Whoever wrote that? Needs to read about and understand romantic beats.

Or, maybe just read romance in general.

Sigh.

Then we get the whole… wait, that’s not physically possible with the ‘injury’ aspect to the movie. If you’d been injured like that, you’d be dead, dying or at the very least, immobile, not doing what that character just did. (this happened to multiple characters over the pace of the final battle).

We have disappearing, reappearing, disappearing and reappearing again extras.

We have a kinder egg with unlimited multiplying enemies on a base where there weren’t supposed to be that many, and which they even state in the movie were 70 or so after recon… until the battle, in which there are hundreds? Um. What??

Oh, and isn’t this like, futuristic? Given the space ships and lasers and… I thought it was set in the future, no? Yes?

So, why do we have massive communication dishes (like old satellite dishes?) on the top of towers? That’s not a spoiler cause the image is out there already.

Space doesn’t work like that. There isn’t any gravity or friction, so that thing that happened in the space battle? It wouldn’t work. Like, at all.

I get it, star wars is soft sci-fi and I don’t have a problem with soft sci-fi. I LIKE soft sci-fi (or I wouldn’t like star wars) but there’s ‘soft’ and omfg, that-would-never-work-even-based-in-the-story-universes-own-canon concept of quicksand soft.

I wonder, how many engineers are looking at this movie and wondering WTF??

I’ve had several people ask me why I didn’t like Rogue One. I needed far more than 140 characters on twitter to riff the movie as badly as it deserves (and I can’t do that ’cause spoilers).

What, my panties are in a wad? You betcha, I wanted to love this film as much as I loved the rest of the Star Wars films. 1,2,3 weren’t my favorites at all, but even they were better than this tripe.

None of it makes a lick of sense, by physics, laws of human nature, plot/character arc/storytelling/filmography and they completely ignored their own bloody canon.

So, that’s why I didn’t like Rogue One. Just cause it’s Star Wars doesn’t make it a good movie. (I so wish it did.)

(One suicide mission is not enough to unbind panties and suddenly make them drenchingly wet) gah, now I am going to go watch a good movie and hope the taste of R1 fades fast and I never think of it again.

Disingenuous

I’m seeing, what to me, is a disturbing trend in fiction.

Let me make it abundantly clear. I’ve been raped. Multiple times in different circumstances. (Familial abuse and SO abuse). So… when I talk about this concept, it’s not as an outsider looking in.

Specifically… there’s a trend in agents/traditional pub NOT accepting ANYTHING with rape even alluded to.

(Not just my stuff… I talk to a lot of writers with shelved books with some form of rape in them.)

I think I get what the industry is trying to do, maybe?

BUT (You knew that was coming)… rape exists.

It has existed throughout the course of human history.

It’s disingenuous to deny stories publication ‘just because they have rape as a concept’.

By denying those stories page time, the industry is folding to patriarchy. (Yes, you read that correctly. In trying to pretend rape doesn’t happen (by not publishing it) the trad pub industry is giving power over to the rapist, not the raped.

Having words on the page of how people (Male, Female, Genderfluid, Trans) have experienced AND OVERCOME, their rapes is a needful thing.

I rather doubt anyone in the industry listens to my words here, but I needed to say them.