Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Rather than rattling on about cats, even though I have a cute, little long-haired black foster kitten in my house right now who is quite the character – I’m going to make time to review books after I read or reread them.

I’m not going to review as many as some people do because I’m still working two jobs and got writing and editing to do in my spare time, but way back when, I used to read a book a day.

However, my memory is not so crisp that I can spout off why I liked particular books, so I’ll need to reread those.

While I was at my local library, I saw the second book of the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince, was available.  I recalled I liked Clockwork Angel, but didn’t remember the particulars so I borrowed that to reread.

Since I'm going to speak about tropes in my review, let me give a brief overview and refer you to a wonderful site - TV Tropes.  Sometimes, when you are reading or watching something, you'll notice there's something familiar, such as full amnesia, an evil twin, a girl dressing as a boy, or abusive/neglectful/alcoholic parents that allow a young character to have all sorts of adventures.  It's okay because no story is truly all-original, and it gives the reader/viewer something familiar.  That also allows the author a little room to not spell it all out (or they could possibly misdirect you).

So now that I’ve finished rereading it, here’s what I liked about Clockwork Angel – the Victorian gaslight/steampunk setting, the establishment of different races and their powers, the mystery elements of the plot, and the plot has multiple threads.

What I wasn’t sure about was there was not a lot of Victorian ambiance.  Maybe because I’ve read a lot of romance, I am used to more details glamorizing the time period.  This story is not about finding husbands, clothes, and polite society, so the basic elements were there, yet probably not necessary.

Some of the characters were clearly tropes, so I could appreciate them in the context of the story.  However, my comfort with having the characters labeled so clearly meant I knew a bit of what they were going to do before the plot got to the point where’d they do it.

Also, until I read more, I confess as a lover of villains that this villain didn't do much for me ... so far.

So much was left unanswered at the end of the first book that as a  reader who needed answers, I had to wait for the next book to find out more on various plots.  I believe that’s where I was left the last time I read it.

I’m going to say 8 out of 10.  I doubt I’m going to give many things a 10 because I’m thinking that’s got to be a darned perfect book.

I have not read the Mortal Instruments series yet, and I’m about to begin Clockwork Prince.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Branding myself as ‘nice’?!?

In the past week, two strangers told me I was really *nice*, and then when I was relating my wrong phone number weirdness, someone who knew me agreed I am *nice*.

The wrong phone number – I answered the phone Saturday morning, getting the cats ready for adoptions (herding and catching). I saw a last name I didn’t recognize on the caller id, but at least it was someone from my area code.

The guy was flirty and cutesie with some banter, and I guess my resounding ‘No’ to his question of ‘Do you know who this is?’ clued him in that he may not be talking to who he thought.

Since nothing would stop him from redialing my number later, I patiently went along with the ‘what’s your name?’ and other questions till he asked about meeting for coffee.  I withheld the information that I never drink coffee, and went right to ‘not interested’.  Really, what did he expect?  I couldn’t be rejecting him based on looks or other physical flaw.

Anyway, it took about five minutes to get him off the phone, while the cats that think I’m their mama (bottle fed kittens) are now gathered around me, loudly asking for my attention.  Is this guy so desperate that he asks to meet a wrong number who is also a cat lady?  And if he’s this persistent now, there’ll be no getting rid of him later.

(BTW, I am single and NOT looking.  I was married for ten years, and that’s enough for any lifetime.  Ex’s antics will make for great fiction later.)

The other man was at a car dealership service center.

My trusty steed needed its 105k servicing, and sensing I enjoy paying $1500 every 15k, my brakes squealed out ‘cha ching’ as I waited for my income tax refund.

I even said when making the appt, my brakes need work, something’s off with the front driver suspension, and you with the clipboard, don't forget to mark down the existing chip in the windshield, when I dropped it off.

Which leads a bit of attitude on my part when I got the call regarding the estimate.  If I say things need fixing, don’t lead off with ‘how did you drive this?’ especially since the mechanical problem they found is something I stated – I’m not a oblivious driver cruising around with the underside dragging and sparking behind me.

I got the list of repairs, got the record price, and said, ‘I don’t have that.  What needs to be fixed today?’

When I picked up the car, the service manager was overly friendly and stated that I was a pleasant customer and really nice to deal with.  Huh?  What do normal customers do?  I mean they're working on my car, and I need it fixed right the first time and trust they're professional about it (or else I got a big problem),

These two fellows need to talk to the Berkeley College telemarketer that called me three times in one night, and twice the next night.  His listening ears weren’t on to hear ‘no’ from a potty-mouthed, ex-sailor, that sounds like she’s been living in New Jersey all her life with a crazy cat lady cherry on top.  He was calling to get a ‘yes’ from any body that could fill out a form for federal financial aid for education, make the check payable to Berkeley College, thank you very much.

Hopefully that money will be flowing the other way with my five Do Not Call complaints to the FTC so the government can continue to fund good education for those that want it, not telemarketing schemes.