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I love Jane Austen and I love fantasy, so you would think this book, which mixes the two, would be right up my alley, especially since it was written by a Hugo Award winning author Can t miss and yet, somehow, it does Superficially it s a very Austenesque tale, but it lacks the wit, charm and complexity of Austen Jane is the plain older sister with all the talent in the family art, music and magic But at age 28, she feels like she s fated to become a spinster, and she spends most of the book struggling with her insecurities Frankly, it got pretty tiresome Melody is her lovely 18 year old sister who doesn t have any particular talents They love each other, but each is deeply jealous of what the other sister has that she lacks And they ve both developed a tendre for the same eligible gentleman, Mr Dunkirk, who lives on a neighboring estate.It s interesting that the use of magic, called glamour, in this world seems to be limited to creating visual illusions In most ways it s simply another ladylike talent, like drawing, singing or playing piano, that well bred young women are expected to develop However, there s a Mr Vincent who moves into the neighborhood, who is truly an accomplished artist with his glamour illusions Jane wants to learn from his talent and magical works of art, but the two of them get off on the wrong foot and develop a relationship that s prickly, at best.This struck me as simply a young adult novel or maybe a simple young adult novel I thought it was okay, but on the shallow side I was hoping for so much Maybe I ll go re read Jonathan Strange Mr Norrell. So there were many nice things in this book The Austin esque plot was interesting, and the main character and her relationship with her sister was layered, I really think the character was well drawn and the best thing about the book Her POV as the plain sister was written from a very real place.I guess I just ached for a bit complexity, with the plot and romance and the world building There s some VERY interesting magic conceits here, and I just wanted a bigger scope I think the author could build upon this world for and interesting books This one was a nice basic intro I think the plot just needed twists, and there needed to be MORE characters to act as red herrings to make the ending a bit surprising.I will read another by her though, def. Thank you, brian tanabe Have you ever slapped someone, good and hard I can still remember the one and only time I did, the anger boiling up and over, the near involuntary windup of the arm and spring loaded swing through, the crack of the hand on the offender s cheek, the numb and then sting in the palm, the blipping rush of incredible satisfaction instantaneously followed by a gushing of fear and guilt Yeah It felt good and solid before the last fear and guilt part I still remember all that from when I slapped the little brat who was bigger than me in preschool, when I was four This book brought it all back, because I wanted to slap every one of the characters Idiots All of them I think this is a YA novel, in particular because of the large and well spaced font which seems to be characteristic of books for youths Is this a false impression It s like how crayons text get slimmer smaller as you get older and then graduate to colored pencils.Presented as being inspired by Jane Austen, I think this book leans heavily on her than that The main character is named Jane, fcol for crying out loud, is that an acceptable abbr yet I m not up on txtmsg speak , and she s a mush of all of Austen s main ladies that I can recall, and my recollection is mostly from movies The sister character is a mush of all the other sisters, the mother and father, the dashing but shady gentleman, the stiffly honorable gentleman with a sister, the misunderstood but in the end very appropriate gentleman, the noble neighboring lady and her nearly silent daughter, all mushed together from all of Austen s works The situation and plotline are also cribbed but with the detail and minutiae stripped away, all the density of Austen s works gone It s Austen lite.Little magics are part of daily household life It s not well explained, but it looks like magic is meant to be for peasants, artists, and women in this world Some men are described as working with their abilities to keep things coldand actually, I think that s it Well bred gentlemen didn t seem to take part in it But women and artists create beauty out of it, and a lady should be able to create illusions for the home just as she should be able to make conversation and play the piano forte.The main character is such a damn pushover, gaaahhhhhh Too accommodating, too polite, too rug like There were so many moments where the whole mess could ve been cleared up with a few short sentencesgahhhh The character, Jane, has magical talent but it wasn t a story where her abilities make her a heroine She gets her happy ending, although the author seems to have gotten tired at the end and wraps the story up too swiftly after the big climactic confrontation, with a surpisingly curt last page And she did that thing like in The Princess Bride I automatically typed Bridge in there, again , where a potentially satisfying scene is skipped over like this Though he denied a skill at words, everything Mr spoiler said in that tender moment brought Jane unbearable joy Nooooo Why can t you tell us what was said I think I loved Juliet Marillier when I was younger because she didn t cut away from these moments with cop out summaries of how wonderful it was, too wonderful to write here Boo There are moments when the overblown is appropriate, when you say forever and always and mean it Isn t this the kind of book where you d want to include that sort of speech This is negative than I mean to be It s a very pretty story and a quick, pleasant read Maybe I m cranky because I stayed up to finish it. This was an incredibly frustrating book The charm of Austen lies in the style of writing light, witty, insightful, elegant, and able to skewer Regency life at a moment s notice And while Shades of Milk and Honey makes sure to pack in plenty of Regency manners and swooning, the writing style is so jarring that I ended up reading passages aloud to other people, just to confirm that they really did make no damn sense.The author reuses words at an amazing pace frequently the same word is repeated in back to back sentences, sometimes three or four times in a paragraph Worse, sometimes the author uses words she clearly doesn t understand droll , for instance, is applied to a completely humourless character multiple times, and appears to have been confused with a word that means curt or short instead of amusing Sometimes she uses the archaic spelling of a word chuse , sometimes she uses the modern spelling Occasionally, she ll use a word that is archaic and proceeds to misuse it nuncheon does not mean lunch , repeatedly When you combine these bizarre word choices with laboured sentences that are borderline incomprehensible, the experience is like thumping down a stretch of rapids instead of Austen s effortless babbling brook.The plot doesn t even get started until halfway through, at which point I already hate Brat and Doormat, which might as well be the names of the central sisters Most of the characters in this book are so glaringly based on well known Austen characters that it seems too obvious, and I waited in vain for the twist that would make them new and exciting No such luck if anything, they were stripped of all endearing qualities and hammered flat into one dimensional puppets The magic elements are explained in detail, but are completely incidental to the story By the end, we ve given up all pretense of being in an Austen novel and have stumbled into some sort of quasi Gothic adventure scene I was just so happy to have gotten to the last pages, I didn t even care any.I bought the book because I love Austen and many Austeny spin offs , and because I thought the conceit of magic being a womanly art was pretty cool But now I m just wondering what the hell reviewers were thinking in recommending this read Having done a little digging, it looks like Kowal is the VP of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America I can t help but wonder if the circles she moves in has caused her writing to be overrated, as I have no idea why this particular book merited the sort of publicity push it s currently experiencing I wish I hadn t read it. Romance and Regency go hand in hand, but then, so does Art.All the most talented ladies are skilled in the art of subterfuge and seeming, are they not Well, not Jane She s conflicted about using Glamour and refuses to make herself seem pretty than she is, while also being rather talented than the rest of her family Sure, its a common thing to know and use Glamour in the Regency era Didn t you know Magic is real, and no only can you create wonderful murals and play wonderful music without the gross aids of base paints or the piano forte, but it also gives us a tapestry to work out our own personal dramas How delightful I ve always liked stories that bring up the conflict between lies and bringing forth truth from them Passion and the heart were always best served through fiction and not stark reality As an opener into the series, it serves delightfully as a simple romance with silly girls getting into trouble and eligible men causing so much pain and ruckus sigh But this is the nature of reality sigh The novel isn t the most brilliant that I ve read, and it s simplicity serves the magic than the other way around, and that s fine.Still, don t trust the blurb that this is much like the books listed there Think Urban Fantasy meets Regency Romance and you ll be fine. This very talented writer has written a Regency romance that features a few of Jane Austen s spellings, adding in a truly nifty magical system Unfortunately, the magic seems little integrated with the world, having almost no impact on the culture The comparison with Jane Austen might sell books, but that s also kind of a high bar This story feels like a Regency romance, without much of Austenesque irony or complication of character on the other hand, it is not a retread of Georgette Heyer, which gains major points for me as a reader Not that I dislike Heyer or the re invention of the silver fork sub genre, I just would like to see authors venture out from under Heyerian influence a tad The story takes time to warm up, and there are many period glitches but I don t think those will be noticed by readers who aren t conversant with period literature , but when it finally gets going, there is a lot of comedy of manners identity mixed with magic thrown in to make it roll along I thought the climactic scene humorously cinematic, though the ending rushes upon the readers a bit, especially considering the sedate start. |E-PUB ♘ Shades of Milk and Honey ♀ Shades Of Milk And Honey Is An Intimate Portrait Of Jane Ellsworth, A Woman Ahead Of Her Time In A Version Of Regency England Where The Manipulation Of Glamour Is Considered An Essential Skill For A Lady Of Quality But Despite The Prevalence Of Magic In Everyday Life, Other Aspects Of Dorchester S Society Are Not That Different Jane And Her Sister Melody S Lives Still Revolve Around Vying For The Attentions Of Eligible MenJane Resists This Fate, And Rightly So While Her Skill With Glamour Is Remarkable, It Is Her Sister Who Is Fair Of Face, And Therefore Wins The Lion S Share Of The Attention At The Ripe Old Age Of Twenty Eight, Jane Has Resigned Herself To Being Invisible Forever But When Her Family S Honor Is Threatened, She Finds That She Must Push Her Skills To The Limit In Order To Set Things Right And, In The Process, Accidentally Wanders Into A Love Story Of Her Own 4.5 stars Perfect for fans of Jane Austen that want the added flair of magic The characters fill the typical Austen tropes, with their own spin A lovely story for any fan of the Regency period. Full review now posted This was absolutely delightful Fantasy of manners is a subgenre that I didn t realized I needed in my life I ve read books that technically fit the genre, such as the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare and Alison Goodman s Dark Days Club, but those both felt like YA than anything else Because they are This was my first experience with an adult fantasy of manners, and I loved it.Fantasy of manners is basically if Jane Austen had included magic in her writing And that is exactly what this book was So much so, in fact, that some people found the novel too derivative of Austen to merit enjoyment I beg to differ I picked this up because I wanted to see what an Austen novel would feel like with magic involved, and that is exactly what I got While there were a few variations, that plot line and characters were remarkably similar to the famous cast of Pride and Prejudice, but it was so well written and the characters so well developed that it felt like an ode to Austen than a plagiarism That s my take, at least The writing was perfectly lovely, and felt exactly like it sprang from Austen s pen I ve never read a Regency inspired novel that felt this true to the original writings that inspired them, and I ve read a good many Regency novels The prose never felt too heavy or like the author was trying too hard to mimic her inspiration It was convincingly Regency, yet felt fresh at the same time One of the loveliest aspects of this novel was the magic system In this alternate Regency era, glamour is another of the womanly arts that eligible bachelorettes in search of a husband are expected to deftly produce This glamour is a weaving of the magical energy alive in the air Glamour can be applied to music, allowing it to loop after being played or producing colors and shapes that complement the tune It can also be applied to paintings and rooms, brightening them and adding life But the most impressive use of glamour is found in the production of glamurals, living artwork that engages all five senses These glamurals are usually attached to rooms, and can remain as long as the room survives Working a convincing glamural is the epitome of success for an artist, be they male or female However, there s a catch working too much glamour can leading to chills, fainting, or even death in extreme cases This makes glamour the most dangerous of the womanly arts, but the respected, as well.While this is the first book of a series, Shades of Milk and Honey is a perfectly self contained story, giving readers a full story with a satisfying conclusion It makes a wonderful standalone novel, if you happen to be looking for something to provide a break from the trilogies and series that fantasy novels always seem to come in If you love Jane Austen and magic, I can t recommend this highly enough And if you need a book that is hopeful and has a happily ever after ending, this novel is a breath of fresh air Original review can be found at Booknest. Good God, I resent this book so much for not being awesome Georgette Heyer put me in the mood for another regency, and combine that with fantasy Sold.I want a refund The Heyer danced along, sparkly with charm this book plodded, leaving me with an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia and boredom at the shallowness and banality and insipidity of well to do country life The conversation didn t sparkle wittily, it clunked And the heroine was frankly too stupid to keep breathing.Mostly though, I resent the muddle The magic here is glamour, a womanly art of illusion, used largely for entertainment It is both dismissed and underestimated, largely by men Hello metaphor for the entire practice of upper class female husband snaring existence But Kowal seems to have no real control over that, and the overlapping stories of lies and truths are a mess With a vapid little lesson about how real art requires passion plunked on top Feh.