Showing posts with label london. Show all posts
Showing posts with label london. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2017

[Review] A Darker Shade of Magic (#1) - V.E. Schwab: 19th Century London and Parallel Universes





In A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, Kell is one of the blood magicians who are gifted with the ability to wander between parallel worlds.

What intrigued me: Recommended by literally everyone.

Textbook writing and too many info dumps

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC certainly has a great base frame, but absolutely can't hide the fact that it doesn't quite know what to do with all that world building. Protagonist Kell is a smuggler, an adopted royal, a blood magician, and handles the correspondence between the four different Londons. To get that all inside your head, you'll already need a moment. The biggest problem is that there is so much about this world and so many specific rules, quirks, and things to know, that there is no way you'll have a good time reading this for the first time. Paired with incredibly factual and emotionless writing, it reads like a textbook. I was often torn between utter disinterest and sort-of fascination. 

I grew insanely frustrated the more I read because I simply didn't understand what was happening and why it was happening, and who the bazillion side characters are. A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC plays in this sort-of 19th century-inspired historical-ish world that has kings and queens and (sometimes?) magic. Ish. I say Ish because even after having read this I still don't get it. Usually you'd expect a novel to lay out the basics within the first 100 pages, but in A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, you'll still be wrestling with exposition on page 350 of 400. 

Clearly the idea is there and Schwab really tried to set up an original world, but half of it neither makes sense nor is comprehensible to the average first time reader. This is not the type of fantasy I enjoy - throwing words in made-up languages around and introducing so many different parallel worlds that you're constantly confusing everyone. 

One dimensional characters and predictability

Because Schwab so heavily puts the focus on the world building, the characters are absolutely suffering. Everyone in A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC is one-dimensional, not even the protagonist Kell has an ounce of a personality. It's a shame because you can tell that a lot of effort went into this. At the end of the day, I think this book is impossible to enjoy if you prefer your high fantasy to make sense and to form a connection with the fictional characters you're reading about. 

On top of all that - the plot is just very predictable and anti-climactic. Of course protagonist Kell must face the only other rare special snowflake blood magician in the book aside from him because of some barely-plausible plot convenience; and of course there is a mystery about his birth parents that we only get to solve if we buy the next two books. 


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC wasn't for me. From a predictable plot to confusing world building, to writing that I just don't like, this one is a clear miss for me personally.



Additional Info

Published: 24th February 2015
Pages: 400
Publisher: Tor
Genre: Adult / Sci-Fi / Parallel Worlds
ISBN: 9780765376459

Synopsis:
"Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped."(Source: Goodreads)

 Have you read A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC?

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Monday, October 12, 2015

[Review] Don't Get Me Wrong - Marianne Kavanagh






"Don't Get Me Wrong" by Marianne Kavanagh is essentially about the relationship of the sisters Eva and Kim throughout the years. Eva's best friend Harry is always tagging along and constantly annoying Kim.
When Eva gets sick, Kim and Harry are forced to spend more and more time with each other.




Not a Light Read! This NOT Chick-Lit

It's a very tough book to rate. There is just something about Kavanagh's writing that sucks you in every single time. I just couldn't stop reading.
The thing with Kavanagh is that her books seem like cute little contemporary romances that you can read quickly and forget almost as quickly - but in reality they are so much more. Every other page there are sentences that make you want to put the book down and think about it for a while. I could impossibly just read this in a day. I found myself going back and forth all the time because I wanted to avoid overseeing something important. It's just insane how she casually throws in similes that leave you baffled all the time.
...

Again, the story is told over several years to establish the relationship between disillusioned socialist Kim and rich banker Harry.
What worked very well in "For Once in My Life" just isn't as charming in "Don't Get Me Wrong" anymore. I didn't like the time jumps and had a huge problem with the shifts in perspective. 

In general my biggest issue with this is that the novel absolutely lacks direction. I didn't feel like every scene contributed to bringing the story forward. Sometimes Kim would ramble on endlessly and lose herself in comparisons, and the next second there is a cut and you'll find yourself thrown into the next scene. While I do love Kim's rambles and snickered about her comments, this makes it very hard to follow the story. Just like "For Once in My Life", this is absolutely a character-driven book.

Great Character Dynamics!

While I'm not a fan of the pace, I loved the characters. I'm just a sucker for anything along the lines of hate turns into love. Smug Harry and sarcastic Kim, who just can't stop talking about how much she hates him, are a match made in heaven. Their relationship makes up for every other thing that I didn't like as much.
It's flat out hilarious how you can tell from the beginning that Kim has a giant crush on Harry. It's even funnier when you get to Harry's point-of-view and realize that isn't even aware how much influence he has on Kim. You just have to love these two.

The same goes for the relationship between Eva and Kim. I love how Kavanagh builds the novel on the premise that Harry and Kim have nothing in common aside from their unconditional love for Eva. It really translates in the writing.

Rating:

★★☆☆

Overall: Do I Recommend?

Witty, cozy, and heart-breaking. Kavanagh's characters steal my heart every single time.
When reading Kavanagh's writing, I always feel at home. The reason why I'm such a fan of her books is that I've never read anything like this before. Her style is completely unique.

I've recommended her debut "For Once in My Life" a lot to romance lovers, just because it stands out in the flood of cliché romance novels with characters that you'll forget very easily.

If you love romance and character-driven writing and aren't shy to try out something new, I'll recommend "Don't Get Me Wrong" to you as well. Even though this one lacks in pace, her characters will stay with you for a long time.


Additional Info

Original Title: Don't Get Me Wrong
Author: Marianne Kavanagh
Published: August 26th 2015
Pages: 352
Medium: Paperback
Publisher: The Text Publishing Company
Genre: Adult / Romance
ISBN: 9781925240559

Synopsis:
"Londoners Kim and Harry can’t see eye to eye…until the life of the person they both love most hangs in the balance. 

Kim has never grasped what her free-spirited big sister Eva sees in a stuck-up banker like Harry and has spent her childhood trying to keep him out, while Harry’s favourite occupation is winding Kim up.

Both Harry and Kim are too trapped in their prejudices to care about what’s really going on beneath the surface of each other’s lives. They’ll never understand each other—until the worst of all tragedy strikes.

Faced with the possibility of losing the person they both love most, long-buried secrets come to a head in ways that will change both Harry and Kim forever."(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite romance novel?


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Monday, August 17, 2015

#BloggerBlackmail: Do You Think Bloggers Have a Right to Get Paid?


The trending hashtag #bloggerblackmail got me curious.
Apparently a food blogger and a bakery got in conflict. 
The bakery claimed that the blogger was making ridiculous requests (100$ worth of products in compensation for a review. 

The blogger claimed that the bakery was offering too little and expecting too much



#Bloggerblackmail: What happened? 

- Food Blogger is asked to review bakery
- Blogger visits the bakery and is offered a small goodie bag
- Blogger is unsatisfied with the offer, asks for compensation in form of various baked goods that add up to a retail value of 100£
- Owner refuses, Blogger is only offered hot drinks 
- Blogger leaves the store enraged
- Blogger returns, purchases some products themselves, and instagrams negative reviews of them
- They both put each other on blast online, twitter blows up when both posts go viral. 
Sources: The Bakery's side  The Blogger's side

This whole issue got me thinking about compensation for blog posts and what I expect or don't expect personally.

Since I'm a book blogger and most of my readers as well, this will be only about book blogging.


The work that goes into reviewing

There are a lot of bloggers who don't only post reviews, but also take pictures, or create edits. Even if it looks easy, blogging is a very difficult and hard hobby. A blog post can take up to two hours to write, not to mention the hours and hours that go into reading books. I personally can maybe read a 300/400 pages book in about six hours if I hurry, and I really like it. 


The Average Cost of a Book Review

300/400 pages:

Reading: 6 hours
Blogging: 2 hours
Formatting the post: 1 hour
_________________________

up to 9 hours of work


If you're lucky enough to receive a review copy, that's your compensation for those 9 hours of your life. Is that worth it? Are you entitled to a minimum-wage compensation for those 9 hours?


Blogging: Hobby or Work? 
"[...] I don’t do eight hours of work for an eight piece selection box of macarons and marshmallows. Writing is notoriously badly paid and photography suffers the same, but I value what I produce as worth more than that."

- wrapyourlipsaroundthis

I think in order to answer that question, you have to decide for yourself whether you see blogging as your profession, or as your hobby.
To me, it's a hobby. I'm a small blog, I'm happy if I get recognized at all by publishers, authors etc. If you're a bigger blog and you're very selective with the books you read, does that mean you're also entitled to a bigger compensation? Do you expect more than just the book you have the privilege of reading?

Technically, we could do what the Blogger from the incident with the bakery did. We could define a price and say "unless the product is worth X, I'm not doing it." Would you be okay with that? I consider myself a casual blogger and I'm very fortunate to be in the position that I'm in. I don't expetc anything for anyone. It's a hobby for me. Frankly, any blogger who defines a price would just lose credibility in my opinion.


Where does respecting your work end and becoming a sellout begin?

I think if you start charging, or expecting people to compensate you, it's very easy to lose yourself in it.
I hope I can speak for all of us when I say that we blog because we value freedom of speech. 

We think we have something to say and we're going to share it. 

If someone comes in and offers you 100$ for a good review, would you do it?


Do you think we're entitled to bigger compensations?

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