Monday, June 26, 2017

Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (with spoilers)

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (March 7, 2017)

I got a free eARC from Netgalley. This book was such a chore for me to get through. I didn't give this book a star rating, because if I hadn't have gotten it from Netgalley in return for a review I wouldn't have finished it.

The author made words to fit details of her world, but they are never explained. For example, hua, it's a type of dress the asha (which I'm guessing is a female (that part is touched upon)magic using entertainer, but also a warrior) wear. My best guess is that a hua has the empire waist of a Korean hanbok, the sleeves of a Japanese kimono, but also the side splits of a Vietnamese ao dai. The descriptions of the hua are never very clear, at least they weren't for me.

Another is darashi oyun, some times it's talked about as if it is a regular play or event, but then some times it is talked about as if it is the name of a place, but either way it is never capitalized, and never fully explained. Will they die if this isn't done?

Daeva, are they demons? Resurrected dinosaurs? Evil Spirits? I don't know.

Heartsglass, it is never explained WHY people HAVE to have their hearts on a necklace for the rest of the world to see what emotions they are feeling.

There are many other terms, but I won't list them all.

Tea is drooling over Kance, as much as a 15 year-old can, throughout the whole book, but she reanimates Kalen. It's never explained how or when he died, and when Tea's affections changed. Besides of the teenage angst flirtations Tea has briefly with Kance Tea doesn't seem to connect with any of the other characters, she almost emotionally exists in a bubble.

There are also some logistical problems. Chapter 2 mentions Murkwick, the closet town being "fifteen leagues" away, a league is three miles, that makes Murkwick 45 miles away. In chapter 3 Tea and Mykaela arrive in Murkwick four hours latter, meaning they would have had to walk, or more likely run at 11 miles an hour.

The book is unfortunately full of tiny things that detract from the whole story and for me made reading it a chore.

Currently watching:Star Trek Beyond
Just realized this is the second time Beastie Boys was used for this reboot series.

Currently reading: The Sunday Philosophy Club (Isabel Dalhousie Series) by Alexander McCall Smith
I haven't gotten very far with this book, yet.

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Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates: The Leaky Battery Sets Sail by Gareth P. Jones

The Leaky Battery Sets Sail (Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates #1) by Gareth P. Jones
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Stripes Publishing (February 1, 2015)
Rating 5 out of 5 stars

This was a great Middle School level book. I think it would be a great introduction for children to learn about steampunk, or at least the steampunk aesthetic. It really is too much of a good book to give away spoilers for.

Currently watching: Star Trek
Beastie Boys!

Currently reading:Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lu

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Speak (2011)
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I have to admit I really didn't care for this book. I'm really starting to hate the trend of Dystopian books where people are separated for bizarre (i.e. dumb) reasons with no real explanations for the separations. (E.g. The Hunger Games, Divergent, Uglies, or Delirium.) Seriously, who in the future is going to think that love is a disease you need a vaccine against, or that you have live with only being self-less in your faction, but you can't be honest and self-less, because that'd mean your "Divergent."

So, I've read a few reviews where people compare (actually most say stolen) the book to Lowis Lowry's The Giver, but I have to honestly admit that I've never read that book, yet. To me the story was very much like George Orwell's 1984. The whole, wearing uniforms, having to like/love someone in secret, the taking the pills every day, and the curfews just screamed 1984 to me.

I think part of why it was hard for me to read this book was I had just finished Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard, which has all the Young Adult Dystopian tropes, and so does Matched. Either way, I won't be reading the next book in the series, which is Crossed (Matched) if you do want to read it.

Currently watching:Elementary: Season 1
I really like that Lucy Liu's Joan Watson isn't seen as a love interest for Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock Holmes. I think that it is great that Watson, after spending time with Holmes and learning from him, is shown as a competent detective in her own right.

Currently reading: The Seafront Tearoom by Vanessa Greene
Not something that I would normally read, since it isn't genre fiction! But we'll see how it goes. It does involve tea, lots of tea, and I do love tea.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard

Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (February 9, 2016)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I read the first book to this series, Red Queen, at the end of last year. I enjoyed the book, but as a whole is doesn't stand out very much. My best description would be a cross between Hunger Games and the special child trope, which doesn't improve with this book. It seriously felt that I was rereading parts of Mockingjay, which I found unfortunate.
I might read King's Cage to finish the series, but right now I'm not interested in it, and I think it'll take some time to work myself up to reading it. Right now I am definitely not interested in Cruel Crown, the book with two novellas that go with the series, maybe after I make it through King's Cage.

Currently watching:iZombie: The Complete Second Season
This really is a really great show. It isn't completely gorey, and there are some cute scenes while solving murder mysteries.

Currently reading: Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu
My review for the first book should be coming up!

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Kale to the Queen (A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery #1) by Nell Hampton

Kale to the Queen (A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery) by Nell Hampton
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (April 11, 2017)
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

This was the first book of the year for me. I have decided for 2017 that I am going to try and read 100 New to Me Books, meaning I haven't read the books before. Which is honestly very hard for me. I have certain books that are comfort books in a way that I reread all the time, some even once a year.

To get started, I really do enjoy cozy mysteries, with their punny titles and niche subjects. One of my favorite cozy mystery series is The Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs. I mean, who doesn't enjoy tea, murder and Southern hospitality?

I say this because I have no idea how this book got published. The kindest thing I could say was this must be the author's first novel. It feels like very little effort or research was actually put into the book. I know I was reading an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), but there were not just mistakes on who had said what at times, but things that wouldn't be said, or accepted from a British viewpoint at times. This review will contain spoilers, because I am compelled to point out what really irritates me about this book.

For example, the author has a lot of characters "correcting" the main character, Carrie Ann Cole, about how it isn't called the subway, it's the tube. London is a large international city, a lot of American television is imported to the U.K., trust me, they know what subway means to an American. Would the character be corrected? Sure, there might be a person or two to correct the chef, but not every single person she says subway to, not even in the palace. I think even more so, since the lines she is most likely to have been on would have been sub-surface lines, and not actually a tube line. Especially since the character of household manager, Mrs. Worth would know the distinction. My question would be why wasn't a car arranged to pick up Carrie Ann Cole from the airport? Obviously they were expecting her, since Mrs. Worth claims she's late. And how can you not be able to get a cab from any of London's airports? The book doesn't specify which one the main character lands at; Gatwick, Heathrow, or Stansted, being most likely, they are always busy, but they always have cabs, and in this day there's Uber which works in London.

And the author really should either take a class on tea, or do better research. While Carrie Ann is talking with Penelope "Penny" Nethercott, the personal secretary to the Duchess of Cambridge in this story, she makes tea. She uses tea leaves, she uses a tea ball, she uses a tea cozy, she never takes the tea ball out again, which would eventually make the tea bitter. She also uses cream. No one puts cream in their tea. After all the irritating correctness of subway vs. tube this really got my hackles up. There is a tea, called cream tea, but it has nothing to do with putting cream in one's tea. No one does this. I'm pretty sure if you asked any British person if they wanted cream in their tea they'd be disgusted, it'd be a politely disgusted, but still disgusted. One puts milk into tea, not cream. This mistake is repeated throughout the story. The author also has the stereotype of everyone boiling a kettle on the stove/hob, no one does that. It takes longer and wastes gas, an electric kettle is much more efficient.

I think I find this book especially offense because I am British-American, and the author throws all the typical American tropes into the story, without getting any of the British ones right. I would tell the author, Ms. Hampton, that if she was to write another book in the series, she needs to actually visit the places she is writing about first. Go to London, go to Kensinton Palace, she doesn't need to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the palace's kitchen, but look at the actual expanse of the palace grounds and realize there is no way a chef could get through the palace and across the grounds and find a corner shop, or grocery store, or supermarket, and be back in ten minutes. It isn't happening. Even doing some research on Google Maps could have helped with that. The idea that Carrie Ann could have a separate washer and dryer, in her bathroom is ridiculous. Most machines in the UK are washer dryer combos, meaning one machine does both the washing and the drying. The dryer part a condenser dryer, done with heated water going around the outside of the tumbler. It takes a long time for anything to dry, and is very frustrating in my opinion if you are used to a tumble dryer that uses heated air, like they do in the States. Which is probably why so many people just hang their clothes out to dry, even if it's raining, because it'll probably be quicker, especially if you have other clothes you want to wash.

Besides terminology abuse the author misplaces characters, e.g. Michael Haregrove's Mother is mentioned in Chapter 3 as living alone in a nursing home, which is actually called a care home with nursing in the U.K., but later in Chapter 7 his Mother and Father are retired and living in the countryside with his grandparents, it also mentions that he has a brother and three sisters. Now, they could be living in a nursing home in the countryside but I doubt they are living in a nursing home in the countryside with his grandparents. Then in Chapter 10 Carrie Ann Cole is surprised to meet Rosemary, Michael Haregrove's sister, because, "I didn't know he had family other than his mother." Perhaps the author originally intended to have Mr. Haregrove only have a mother, but found that she needed the sister character for her story, but then she left drips and drabs of family for Mr. Haregrove all over the story, and never tidied up her lose ends. They are things I would have expected her editor to catch. Rosemary has arrived in London to "look after Mum." Why? She's either in a nursing home, according to Chapter 3, or living in the countryside, according to Chapter 7. Just to make it even more confusing later in Chapter 11 Carrie Ann asks Michael if he has lived here long, "My parents bought it in the fifties," he said. Mum loved the wall paper in the hall. Ever since she went into the nursing home three years ago, I can't bring myself to take it down." So Carrie Ann asks if his father sill lives in the house, but she should know he's in the countryside from Chapter 7, and Michael says, "No, he lives out in the country now with his new wife." Now, the new wife could be the one that Michael references in Chapter 7 as his Mum, but Carrie Ann wouldn't know that, and as a reader the audience couldn't know that either. It confuses the issue of exactly where is Michael's Mother.

There are other times when Michael Haregrove and Frank Deems are called by each others names.

Honestly, if I hadn't gotten the book from NetGalley I would have quit reading this story in the first few chapters. Even for an ARC there were far too many mistakes that it made the story unenjoyable.

Currently watching: iZombie: The Complete First Season
This really is a clever show.

Currently reading: Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu
My review for the first book should be coming up!

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Book Reivew - Muder Most Unladylike

Murder Most Unladylike: A Wells & Wong Mystery (A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery) by Robin Stevens
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Corgi (July 22, 2014)

Also known by its US title Murder Is Bad Manners (A Wells & Wong Mystery). The US edition also has a different cover design.

A murder-mystery story set in 1934 in England. At first I was excited to read this to my daughter, since one of the main
characters is Asian, but that did not last long. While Hazel Wong may be Chinese she is reduced to her "other" appearance and racism. She could be interchangeable with any other white girl in the story, as Hazel's only personality is self-deprecation.

The story will not let you forget that Hazel and her family are not a typical British family as exampled on page 62, "I would have too, if two things had not happened: first, my father's concubine had another daughter." "Father's concubine," a clear sign of othering. While yes concubines did exist in Hong Kong at the time it wasn't necessary to the story, she isn't a proper character and isn't even given a name or description, the concubine is never mentioned again in the story. The line could have easily changed to Hazel's mother having another daughter instead of twisting a Chinese family. What does it show beyond Hazel's family being different from a typical white British family?

Just when you might forget that Hazel isn't the typical white British girl going to Deepdean School for Girls Part Four Chapter Nine happens. It is full of hazing and racism from Daisy, Hazel's supposed best friend. Now, this probably really did happen to foreign students in the 1930s, but was in necessary to include it in this book meant for preteens? I definitely wouldn't want to encourage my daughter to hero worship anyone who bullies her, and I don't think anyone else would want that for their child. It seems to give a bad impression, endure the person who torments you enough and they will become your BFF.

I think one of the bad things about the story is that Hazel knows she is surrounded by racism and has to let it flow over her. From page 42:
Usually, once they know me, English people simply pretend that I am not Oriental, and I simply do not remind them about it. But sometimes they slip, and little buts if nastiness that are usually hidden come sliding out of their mouths, which can be quite difficult to politely ignore.

I will say that the use of "oriental" here is from the British sense of the word, as the author is British, and not the American sense where oriental is seen more as a slur.

Hazel's father is a complete Anglophile, and it has perhaps led to Hazel's own self-hate. Hazel describes herself as "lumpy legs," "I, on the other hand bulge all over like Bibendum the Michelin Man; my cheeks are moony-round and my hair and eyes are stubbornly dark brown." Even on the first page of the story is, "After all, I am much too short to be the heroine of this story, and who ever heard of a Chinese Sherlock Holmes?"

In contrast Daisy is described as "... one of those dainty, absolutely English girls with blue eyes and golden hair;..."

Least you think I am being too harsh of the character of Daisy Wells, on page 170:
'But - someone else might have put on her shoes?' I suggested. I had felt so sure it must have been The One.

'Oh, don't be an ass, Hazel. That sort of thing is too silly to happen in real life. Unless you think they crept into her boarding house and stole her shoes just to wear them in a passageway that no one ever uses?'

I blushed. I felt like an idiot, and I was glad it was so dark.

This is just one of many times that Daisy puts Hazel down, hardly what I would call best friend material.

I think I might read Arsenic for Tea on my own and review it here, but I doubt I will be reading it to Jasmine.

I would give this book:
Why would I give it so many stars when the characters personalities are so horrible? Well, the book is set in a 1930s all-girls school in England. I think the time period and location allows you to learn things that are not often in a children's book (i.e. I can't think of another book set in a 1930s all-girls school.) So you do learn how things work at the school, and some terminology of the time.

If for some reason you are intrigued enough to read other books from the series here are links to them, and they are in order (since there is no where on the cover, or inside of the books, at least not the two that I had, that show which book is first, second, etc., and I really hate that publishers are doing that.)

Murder Most Unladylike
Arsenic for Tea
First Class Murder
Jolly Foul Play

Currently watching: Person of Interest.

Currently reading: ???

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