Book – Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel
Author – Toi Thomas
Star rating – ★★☆☆☆
Plot – good idea, disappointing development
Characters – a case of love and Hate.
Movie Potential – ★★☆☆☆
Ease of reading – easy to read
Cover – ~ Meh ~
Suitable Title – ~ Meh ~
Would I read it again – No.
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
HERE BE SPOILERS!
I read this book on my Kindle and made notes as I went along. I can almost guarantee you that for the first half of the book, I had at least one note on each page. Then by the halfway point, I lost interest in noting all the things I didn’t enjoy. Spoilers will look like this:
spoiler – actual text/comments on the book – spoiler
Let’s start at the beginning:
The cover is okay, but it’s a big vague for me since it doesn’t pertain at all to ‘Giovanni’s Angel’ but to Giovanni himself. The title is also okay. After reading the book, there is nothing about the female MC, Mira that I would relate to an angel, however, so this title does nothing for me. It is, however, a title that I would pick up. The cover, not so much. There’s something about it that just doesn’t grab me. It’s a bit comic book-y for me.
I was a little confused by the way the story was told. The first few sentences
Spoiler ‘Have you ever looked into the mirror and asked yourself with all honesty, “Who’s that looking back at me? You see the person looking at you and think: I don’t know that person. That’s not me. I’m lost somewhere, waiting to be found.’ made me think the story would be told in a first person narrative. It isn’t. It goes on to say ‘Well, that’s what life was like for him all the time.’ Which completely jars in my head. But, it would read better. Personally, I’d much prefer less of Mira’s POV in this book than Giovanni’s. He’s a character I can get behind, but Mira is not. Spoiler
This also isn’t the only instance. Eeek! It’s really odd reading the story and just getting used to the past tense only to be snapped right into the present again, without even dialogue to explain it away. I’m really not a fan of the author talking to the reader and I’m not a fan of being told what’s to come either. Phrases like ‘to find out later’ or ‘that fateful day’ as the beginning of a sentence/paragraph, are just plain annoying. They ruin what should be a surprise. They put the reader on guard, waiting for something exciting to happen. Well, for me, it never did. Not even because the author ruined the surprise.
While I’m on a little rant about what I’m not a fan of in stories – ‘introductions’ to characters and stories that being with ‘waking up’. How is this exciting? It feels as if the author has put in the preface as the ‘exciting’ draw into the story, then once they’ve got you hooked, it’s all…oh, let’s do normal. No-one wants normal. Especially in a paranormal romance.
Which is another thing I’d like to talk about right now. Paranormal. Romance. Two words that I love, especially together. This book didn’t really fit either for me. Yes, there is a paranormal element in it and there is a romance element in it, but they didn’t fit together well, they weren’t fully explored to their potential and neither were really beleiveable. Unfortunately, I’ve read a dozen other books with a similar plot/characters/idea and they all did it better than this one. Sorry.
This book is just choked up with all the things that I don’t like. I didn’t enjoy it from the start, I probably wouldn’t have read past Chapter 1 and I definitely would not have finished it, had I kept going. Even now I’m just ‘meh’ about it. It irritated me and I HATE Mira, the MC, but other than that strong reaction, I’m just not bothered by the rest of the book.
It is so full of description that it’s suffocating. There is nothing interesting going on for far too long, at the beginning of the book, and when things do happen, you’re told about it, not shown. It started off promising, but not quite good.
Let me explain why –
spoiler the premise of the book is that there’s this doctor, Mira, who has everything she could ever want in life, except excitement. After a failed romance, she reaches out online to find something medical that will occupy her mind and excite her. She finds GrayNisol8ed. (It took me a little while to work out what this was meant to say, being confused by the capitols and overall not really knowing what to expect. Once I knew who and what Giovanni was, it made sense, but not before. Maybe this is just me though.) They begin an e-mail correspondence, and IM. It could have been really intriguing and mysterious, but the preface ruined that by introducing us to Giovanni too earl. (Again, I think this was a ploy to draw us in and it failed.)
Anyway, the rest of the story is about how Mira and Giovanni meet, interact and discover what and who he really is. The e-mails are very interesting if you try to forget the preface ever existed. There are a lot of ways the e-mails and IMs could be take and not all in a good way, but the preface completely limits those ideas by already hinting that Giovanni is a good guy with a past.
Here’s another thing that eludes me – the need for excessive description. And that’s what it is. There is a mini-rant about airports, that is really unnecessary, right at the beginning. This theme of ‘too much’ description, is kept throughout the book, ruining what could be good ‘action’ or ‘dialogue’ scenes by turning them into endless descriptive passages.
There’s also a really odd history lesson about the little town Whittleton, which is really unnecessary because we’re only there twice, for a total of five minutes, in the whole book. There was a real opportunity to turn description into dialogue at this point. Mira is travelling to meet Giovanni and talking into her tape recorder. It would have really broken up the monotony of the description by letting us hear Mira talking to her tape recorder, rather than describing in detail what she talked about. Most of the time it wasn’t interesting, it doesn’t relate to the story in any way that I can see and it wasn’t anything that couldn’t have been discussed later between two characters in much less words.
As you can probably tell by now, I have a real hatred for Mira. She’s just such an unbelievable character. Even if the things she does, is and says are possible, I don’t get how she managed it in so few years. I can’t remember ever being told how old she is, specifically (unless I skimmed over that part or just forgot) but she reads as a thirty-ish woman, although I’m pretty sure we’re expected to believe she’s middle to late twenties.
So let me ask you this – is it even possible, even for a genius, to spend just three years getting degrees and bachelor’s in five different subjects? Because I studied at the OU, where studying time is more compact than conventional universities and I’ll tell you that I tool around year for each course and it took me nearly six years to get one course away from a bachelor’s. (long story, not relevant).
However, we’re expected to believe this of Mira? Even when the subjects include anthropology and psychology, two subjects that require actual physical exploration of their science? Surely to pass she would have had to go out into the field for anthropology, to show her hands on application of the science? Surely for psychology she would have to at least sit in on a therapy session, or undergo some real experience? No? Apparently not. It’s never mentioned. It seems to me that the author wanted Mira to have all this knowledge and ability, this ‘professional’ knowledge so that she could apply it to Giovanni through the course of the book – which she does. But it all happens in a timeline that would make her, realistically, much older than she is in the book.
Here’s my evaluation of Mira: rich, pretty, egoist, entitled, spoiled brat. Yes, I went there. She got engaged to a guy because it was ‘the right time’ and then accused him of riding her professional coattails, even though we find out later that she made him a partner in her business. Regardless of what her ex-fiance Jeffery does later, I can pretty much understand why he’d be ticked off at Mira for a lot of things. Hell, he wanted a family and she broke off their engagement.
Now let’s move on to how the author insulted me. I have no doubts this was accidental, or part of the ploy to make me hate Mira. If the latter, well done author, you succeeded.
Spoiler Mira claims she doesn’t want to be one of ‘those people’. Read this:
‘She didn’t want to be like those people who only communicated through chats, texts, and updates; one of those people who walked around looking like a zombie because they’d been up all night chatting with their Internet best friends they’d never physically met, and who all lived in other countries on opposite sides of the world.‘
What exactly is wrong with that? I’m one of ‘those people’, not by choice but by necessity. One, I’m a Scottish author signed to an American publishing company; if I want to talk to my fellow literary friends or my publishing company then I have to be accessible on their time. Also, I’m disabled so I don’t get out much, if ever, and I find it really hard to communicate vocally with people because of a few issues I have. The internet takes that concern away. Some of my best friends are people across the pond that I’ve never ‘physically’ met. Heck, I got this book through a blog tour company run by a friend I’ve never met from across the pond. But then, maybe that’s not something to be shouting about since I didn’t enjoy it.
While we’re here, let’s talk about run on sentences. There are a million in this book. And worse is that ALL of it is description. I literally had to make a note on page 25, because there had been NO dialogue or conversation whatsoever, except one or two IM messages and e-mails ‘described’ to us. That’s a ship load of pages with no conversation. Even Mira talking to herself, or the author talking to us would have been better than all that telling and no showing.
It took, and I counted, 34 PAGES to get to the first conversation in the book! Now tell me that isn’t waaaaay toooo long.
Another problem I have are the cliches: ‘deepest dark’ and ‘highest high’. Urg! Please, no. It’s bad enough that Giovanni is this depressed, isolated ‘creature’ with issues, and Mira is the prissy, entitled bitch from hell, but not alliteration!
For some reason, it took nearly a page or more to write about Mira’s drive up the driveway to the house where Giovanni lives. It is also irrelevant, because we get another description of the same drive later, as well as continual reminders of what the surrounding landscape is. None of it is necessary.
But for the moment, let’s get back to the insults.
Spoiler Mira arrives at Giovanni’s house to find he has a companion he didn’t tell her about. Somehow she’s insulted, even though she barely knows anything about this guy she met online that she’s travelled so far to see. *rolls eyes*
‘When Mira walked up to the front door, she noticed ramps on both sides of the porch-deck that encircled the entire exterior of the house. Her first thought was that Giovanni never mentioned he was wheelchair bound, but that could further explain his isolation. She could only wonder for the moment how a man who was so tormented, cut off, and shut out from the rest of the world could come by such an elegant dwelling, but then she considered the fact that the estate wasn’t listed in his name.’
Really? Because all disabled people have to be isolated from the world? Because a disabled person can’t own a really nice house? How many times through literature and movies are we shown old, tormented, emotionally and physically crippled men owning big, luxurious houses and having lots of money? Yet Mira thinks it’s impossible? Of course she does. Because she’s a judgement bitch with too much money, ego and self-adoration. The more I read of Mira the more I hate her. She’s a selfish, arrogant, spoiled, entitled brat who enjoys judging people and making assumptions about them. As a disabled person, who is socially but not physically isolated, I find it extremely insulting to suggest that a wheelchair used couldn’t, and it’s suggested almost shouldn’t, have such a nice house. Why? That’s what I’d like to know.
Let me also just mention that this is the first, but not last, mention of a dual purpose item. The ‘porch-deck’ is followed by a inside-outside room and many more instances of weird descriptive indecision by the author that drove me homicidal.
Spoiler You may find it hard to believe, but this only gets up to Chapter 4. Here we have Mira meeting Giovanni for the first time. This is probably also going to be full of spoilers, because I just can’t keep my mouth shut on this one.
I’m not at all surprised by Mira’s close minded and disbelieving reaction to seeing Giovanni for the first time. Gio and Abraham are both decent characters, but I will never take to Mira. She’s so judgemental and although prepared by his IMs and e-mails to see him, she doubts him and calls him crazy even after hearing him say that he’s not. Mira’s problem is that she can’t accept anything she doesn’t already believe in. If someone tries to contradict her, she screams and bawls to get her own way, here and later in the story. She’s an annoying, overreacting, negative witch. She’s the most irritating character I’ve come across in a long while. And if you’ve read my reviews, you’ll know there are a few.
The story isn’t a bad concept or idea, I just feel it is poorly managed with a really rotten MC in Mira. Giovanni is weak, pathetic, tortured and whiny, but even he’s miles ahead of Mira. Abraham is also judgy, whiny and overbearing at times, but he’s still much better than Mira. And while we’re talking about Abraham, let’s just take a look at how Mira describes him:
‘Abraham was a mystery to her and a little creepy in a sweet way but seemed harmless.’ Now I ask you, how the heck does someone come across as creepy ‘in a sweet way’? Creepy is creepy. End of.
Talking of things that don’t make sense. I’ll admit that I skimmed a lot of the description, especially when it was needlessly repeated. I just don’t understand it. What I also don’t understand is being told what happens later – why tell us that later Mira will find out something? Just wait until later and THEN tell us. It’s like the author is trying to create mystery out of something that isn’t all that mysterious, and ends up being a big disappointment.
Spoiler I’m very sorry to do this, but we have to go back to Mira. I know, I don’t want to either. But good God, I hate her. She’s so hypocritical. Why go into a rant about the lab equipment, when Giovanni shows her it? Knowing Abraham is seriously ill, and being told they have a lab, negates any rational reason for her over reactive response. She’s just a snob who thinks that Gio and Abraham have things that are too good for them. What makes her so special? Spoiler
Also, for being the only female in the entire story, until maybe the last paragraph and one brief mention of an Innkeeper’s wife early on, Mira’s name is used way too often. Nearly every sentence we’re told Mira did this and Mira did that. The same happens later with Giovanni. When the entire chapter/section of the story is just about him, with no-one else, his name is mentioned too many times compared to what is necessary.
Spoiler We’re asked to believe, by Chapter 7, that there’s a hidden attraction between Mira and Gio. I don’t believe it. All she does is rant and scream at him, and sure, Gio hasn’t had female attention before, he’s never been attracted to anyone yada yada yada. Fine. But there’s starved for attention and then there’s being a glutton for punishment. She treats him so badly, even after their ‘romance’ begins. There’s no progression except Gio feeling things he ‘doesn’t understand’ which frankly happens a lot. There’s not even any hint of an attraction from Mira’s POV. All she does is doubt and judge him. Then later, when Abraham asks her flat out if she loves him, she gets all high and mighty says ‘she wants to’, and ‘she thinks she should’, but I don’t buy any of it. It just feels fake, forced and the wrong thing for everyone involved.
Here’s a prime example of just how badly she treats him. Gio has a nightmare, a pretty nasty one at that, and wakes up with physical marks from his nightmare, including a scar across this throat from when someone slit it during his dream. Mira’s reaction? Fly off the handle, of course. Because nearly being burned to death by a dream, being blamed by a supposed friend for creating the dream and the fire, and being emotionally tormented every time Gio closes his eyes isn’t punishment enough. He really needs Mira taking the high and mighty soapbox and acting like a wounded child, screaming at him in the middle of the night, demanding answers that she already knows he doesn’t have. And…of, that’s right, treating him like a criminal for something that isn’t his fault and that he can’t control. Good job Mira.
Spoiler Spoiler Did I mention that she uses crying and emotional blackmail against him too to get what she wants? Mira tries to encourage Gio to confront his issues, fine that’s cool. But when he refuses because he’s already traumatised enough by them (understandably) she turns on the waterworks and kisses him. His first kiss ever! All used as emotional blackmail. She even admits it, the little bitch : ‘Giovanni has his powers and she had her.’ Not only a show of how cruel of a bitch she really is, but also a really nasty slip from present to past tense that continues to happen throughout the story. Spoiler Spoiler I’m pretty sure at this point the author was thinking, let’s take Mira one step further into the kingdom of Bitchdom and make her their Queen.
‘“Mira, do you love Giovanni?” asked Abraham.
Mira replied quickly, “Of course I do.”
“Sure you do,” said Abraham, “but are you in love with him?”
Mira paused for a moment. What an odd question, she thought.’
Seriously? That’s an odd question? How is that odd? Either you love him or you don’t. It’s actually pretty simple. But no, she goes on to complain that loving him is ‘wrong’ and ‘unnatural’ and that he’s evil and a monster and blah, blah, blah. I’m sorry, but I’ve read my fair share of Paranormal Romances and the entire point of them is that the female MC who is the only one who sees the paranormal male MC (for the sake of this book) for who he really is. The misunderstood, sad, lonely man who needs her to brighten up his world. Does Mira do this? No. It’s all about her and what she can get out of the relationship, if anything, and if she even wants it. She never once considers Giovanni’s feelings. To her, he is a non-entity. He isn’t human, so he can’t possible have feelings or know love.
Spoiler Spoiler Again, let’s take this into just how rotten and selfish Mira is. When they do begin their ‘romance’, Gio is only aware of her feelings one night, at a hotel, just before Abraham’s funeral…I mean, bad timing anyone?…and he’s sleeping. Suddenly he’s dreaming about having sex with Mira, even though he’s an innocent child-man who has never once thought of such a thing in his life. Surprise, surprise, it’s Mira’s dream seeping into his head. *rolls eyes again* Then she gets all pissy because she didn’t know he could do it and those are ‘private thoughts’. Yeah, we get it. You think he’s hot, but you don’t want to. You want to jump him, but you don’t want to want it. Got it, Mira.
Then, amazingly enough (not!) she turns on the ‘charm’ the minute he asks if she actually wants to sleep with him, in that childlike, nervous way he has. So what does she do? She piles on the emotional pressure the day before Abraham’s funeral, naturally.
And get this – Mira claims she was keeping herself for her wedding night but she was ‘distracted and weak’. That makes no sense for a start. Especially how she’s smiling and blushing as she says it, as if ‘yeah, I totally wasn’t capable of keeping my pants on.’ Then she claims she was a virgin until she got engaged to Jeffery, fine. I totally understand that. She was engaged and she couldn’t wait a few months for the wedding night. I mean, who does that?! She didn’t even love him! *takes deep breath* Jeffery is the only man she’s ever been with – makes sense really. BUT, she tells Gio that she would find it ‘difficult’ to be with a man she couldn’t have sex with? WTF?! Really? As if the dude doesn’t have enough pressure. His best friend has just died, Mira’s turning on the sex charm and suddenly he’s being asked to do something he’d never done before, or even thought about, just because she can’t ‘imagine’ living without it? But she’s not pressuring him or anything. God forbid. What kind of messed up logic is that?
Then, to make it even more ridiculous, there’s suddenly a kid telling the entire story, at the very end. No warning, no change in phrasing or whatever, it just happens. We’re told again, by the author, that there’s someone there we didn’t know about. When did that happen?
Right…I’m sorry, but I’m even getting angry just writing this review. Can you tell? Sorry. Overall, I think you can tell that I didn’t care for this book at all. There are lots of clichés that drove me up the wall, description coming out of my ears until they were bleeding and lots of stupid things, and people, who made this book a not very nice experience. Without Mira, I could even have enjoyed it. But I’m sorry, I will NOT be reading the next instalment of this series. If I have to read another word of Mira, I think I’ll rip my eyes out.
Spoiler Oh, and one more thing. The tagline for this story is : Curses can be broken. Well, no they can’t. Because by the end of this book, Giovanni’s curse is NOT broken. It sounds like it NEVER will be. So where does that come in? Spoiler
I’m giving this book two stars because the author very cleverly came up with the idea, which could have worked if it contained someone other than Mira, and because Mira was so detestable to me that I actually felt sympathy and wanted to like Giovanni and Abraham because of her.