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for The Confessions of Cassidy Cain (Grandmaster of Theft 1)

6/2/2016 c8 Fiona
This is going to be the first negative review of this story I'm writing. This chapter just felt boring and out of place. I'll try to explain why - but these are my feeling rather than logical thoughts, so excuse me if my explanation falls short.

The argument was of little interest to me. They made their points: Cass's I already knew. I did learn of the Gerard's and The Followers' complete anti-violence stance; but that alone was hardly worth a whole chapter, let alone one that breaks the story flow: it is a usual stance for a religion. For the remainder of the argument, neither managed to make any headway, any breakthrough, they were just batting heads. Essentially, it was all telling, no showing.

There's one more thing: I've seen Cass on the train, and then I saw Cass when talking to Gerard; and they're not very different. Thus, I now know (or, well, feel, since I've seen too little to really know) there's going to be little development in her character up until her meeting with Gerard, and that may (but doesn't have to ;)) negatively impact my experience for chapters to come.

Anyway, some questionnaire answers:

Any predictions on what went wrong? Hmm... Let me thing. Deus did something, perchance :D?
My first thought: he stole the real Adora's Tear while Narcissa was flaunting the fake. After all, he went to great lengths to get The Grandmaster's attention, and now he needs something to keep it.

As for the philosophy, I disagree with Cass, but it's the betrayal on her part that I find much worse than the violence (unless people involved have mutually agreed otherwise :D). I also disagree with Gerard. Law enforcement is based on violence: imprisoning people against their will. And I don't believe removing it altogether will result in a better world.
6/1/2016 c7 Fiona
About Gale, and how Cass outmaneuvered him: If he were to really stick by his convictions - that the law should always be upheld - he wouldn't have given in to blackmail by a known criminal, and let her to save his personal item while on duty. At least I assume he was on duty, and not engaging in the lightly illegal hobby of vigilantism. Personally, I would have preferred to see a character of such strong convictions that would actually stick to them; but that's just my own preference.

Additionally, I'd have liked to know a bit more about Cass's background by this point. In particular, what is it that makes her so adverse to working with the law. Currently, it fells like she simply likes the thrills, fun, and games that come with being a criminal, and is rationalizing it away with corruption (or using corruption as an excuse). Yet, fun and games is not a good enough reason to make an enemy of someone you respect and consider a brother. There must be more: likely something in her past that made her distrustful of authority, or of Alana in particular. And I'd have liked to know more about that.
6/1/2016 c5 Fiona
This is a chapter 5 review and contains major chapter 5 spoilers.

Hmmm... The plot thickens :D Right on time, at that.

I wan bothered by how easily Narcissa agreed to Cass's wager, despite the possibility that the Grandmaster may just choose not to show up, and she'd still lose. Now it makes more sense, with playing a role under duress.

I used to think that Narcissa offered to sell the Tear at what she thought was too high a price as a publicity stunt, and so reneged when the Church raised the money. Now I wonder, was Deus involved as far back, making her hold on to it?

Anyway, Cass just executed the plan, well, as planned. A bit carelessly, I'd say: personally, if I were setting this up, I'd have put cameras on the side of the train, just in case the thief does the unthinkable and uses the windows. As such, by this point it's plausible that Deus knows that The Grandmaster is Cassidy (unless somehow it's crossdressing Wynn).

On the other hand, spending long paragraphs showing her caution may have made the text harder to read. And there's little she could have done about cameras on the outside of the train. Perhaps she could have booked a second compartment on another name, and used that one as her base. Yet this carries other risks...

I could follow Cass's reasons and assessments and found them all reasonable.
5/31/2016 c1 2R.M.Spencer
I was intrigued by the prologue. It has a very cloak and dagger feel to it. There is a lot of dialogue, which you do well, but I think it could use a bit more narrative. Even when he is not outright speaking, there is a lot of internal dialogue from Gerard. There are places that get a bit overly philosophical or do too much explaining that might benefit from some trimming. Regarding Gerard, he doesn't seem very priestly. He's wearing jeans and a button up and driving a truck. Is this normal for priests in this story?
Overall, you accomplished your mission. You have piqued my curiosity and I want to continue reading.
5/30/2016 c2 Fiona
Are you able to follow and understand Cassidy's assessments & planning?

There were some confusions: The first three times I read the sentence “Boarding alone meant having to dupe vigilant officials”, I was wondering how that would be different from boarding accompanied.
Also, two things I fail to understand: I don't see how asking the conductor to carry a phone ensures he won't betray them. And I don't get how come it's “irrelevant in the grand scheme” whether Narcissa bring the real Tear or a fake.

What are your thoughts on Cassidy's plan?

I'm not convinced Cassidy showing up in person is anything but a bad idea. That will publicly link her to a Grandmaster crime scene. That's hardly enough to suspect her. But she's rich and famous – a prime target for speculators or conspiracy theorists. Besides, once she's linked to a Grandmaster crime scene, she risks garnering suspicion in the future. Unless, of course, a “Grandmaster” appears while she's in sight.

Other than that, it's incomplete and doesn't account for all the hurdles Cassidy describes at the beginning of the chapter. For example, she never explains how she plans to slip the Tear past a search of all the passengers once the theft is discovered.

What's your overall response to Wynn so far & his relationship with Cass?

Wynn's passive: he listens to Cassidy, asks questions at times, but doesn't really contribute ideas. Does he simply not have any? Or have his ideas in the past been rejected so often that he gave up on offering any, taking the position of the “strong, but stupid”? Regardless, the way Cass said she wouldn't have started the heist without his agreement, makes me think she cares about his approval. She certainly could find a replacement if needed.

Thoughts on Narcissa from this as it continues?

What do we know about her? That she, probably in the following order:
1) Stalled the Tear lawsuit against her. Most people would do that if they could.
2) Offered to sell it for 500k. That was probably a PR stunt, so when the church raised the money, she
3) Refused to sell it.
4) Issued the challenge. Cassidy described this as another PR move, though the exact wording of the challenge was grandiosely peculiar.

Any other questions, criticisms, or comments?

I still like Cass's speech/narration style. Although it feels somewhat different than in the prologue, it's still light to read. I generally like first person narration, yet I find myself wanting to know about Cass's gestures and mannerisms while she narrates.
5/29/2016 c1 Fiona
You're talking about sex even before the story starts?! You offend my sensibilities!

More seriously, I'll review in terms of answering some of your questions at the end. I've read a version of the prologue many months ago, so I'll also make comments on how my impressions now differ. Keep in mind that my memory of the previous version is old.

Did this prologue draw you in? If so, what did it for you?

It did. It was funny and light to read, while promising an interesting plot. The first time I read it, I felt like I was much more interested to the present than the past, and so Chapter 1 not continuing from where the prologue ended was disappointing. This was much less pronounced now, but still there.

What is your first impression of Cassidy Cain?

Athena Whitwick, huh? So, likes to have some fun and games at the expense of discretion. Is that... wise? :D
Never mind, she's 20.

Regardless, there were a few times where I read the text, imagining Cassidy get agitated and passionate, and then you say something like "She said all that with the perfect calm and posture as when she introduced herself". This throws my image off. I see a kind of duality about her. Does she care much about helping the people the law has failed to protect, becoming a thief? Or does she ike stealing and seek an excuse?

If she cares, I'd expect her to let her emotions roam more freely during a confession. If she doesn't,
I wouldn't expect her to entertain the idea of an execution (I assume she wasn't the one slighted).
Yet she - calmly - talks about murdering someone to bring justice, and asks for alternative ideas.

It is Cassidy's mannerisms and way of speech that made the prologue funny. One thing that left a particular impression was this:
"Her lips puckered for a second before her smile reemerged. "How acquainted are you with The Osion Purge?""
This shows me that Cassidy is careful, and takes her time to think her actions through. It also shows an intentional and calculated, condescending provoation of feelings in Gerard Turner; likely meant to help (along with a few other things) estabilish her dominance on the conversation.

This could suggest more nefarious agendas behind her cnfesstion than she stated; though for now I'd assume it just a part of her fun and games, like the name Athena Whitwick.

How about Gerard Turner?

Background check before taking a confession away from the church? Now that's strange. It'd make more sense if the background check was because Athena brought in the Tear, but the impression I got from the text was that she was checked because she wanted to confess elsewhere.

Other than that, he didn't leave much of an impression so far. Just a priest doing his job...

Thoughts on how I presented and handled Adora's Tear?

After reading the tex,t I dodn't think much of it. To me, it's just an expensive object that certain people value especially, believe they have a right to it, but didn't have until Cassidy stole it for them.

Thoughts on the prose & pacing?
During the scene at the church, the punctuation typos, or missed articles interrupted my reading flow multiple times. I had to read "tear shaped scarlet diamond pendant" twice. Eventually, the prose becomes smooth and pleasant to read.
I like the pacing; I wouldn't want the pacing any faster or slower.
5/25/2016 c1 5Thundy
That was a pretty entertaining first chapter that successfully piqued my interest in continuing onward. As for a first impression, I get the feeling that the story will revolve around numerous heists to retrieve the Tears. Of course, heists have been done all over media, but I'm curious as to how you'll do it; you have a crew of criminals at the ready, each with specific roles in missions most likely.

Cassidy seems pretty educated, confident and clever, and I don't think she's afraid to show any of it, which is interesting because she's able to hide that completely when she takes on another persona. As for Gerard, I think it's too early for me to judge him. He just seems like a good person that got drawn into this situation, but I am kind of surprised he didn't really object much to Cassidy's plan. But in this chapter alone, I feel he's really just been used to introduce Cassidy to us, which is fine. Narcissa sounds like a bitch.

The idea of Adora's Tear was introduced pretty well in my opinion. For a single chapter, I got a pretty clear idea of exactly what it was and why it played a part in the story. You successfully made it seem extremely important (which it is). As for prose and pacing, I thought it was pretty good and easy to read. The chapter flowed pretty well, even with that little time skip.
5/23/2016 c3 9Fox Trot 9
With that information in hand, I moved to the next phase of a hack, penetration.

- I'd change 'penetration' to 'infiltration,' as penetration has some...um...lewd connotations...

Had there been anyone, they'd have stood out on account of to how devoid of life the neighborhood was.

- I'd reword the independent clause on this one... It's a bit awkward-sounding...

He's lucky that the sole malicious component with us was a virus I had tucked away in my hoodie's pocket on a USB file.

- I'd reword the latter half of the sentence, as the object of the sentence is misplaced... She didn't tuck away a virus in her pocket, b/c viruses are too small to handle... It would make more sense to say 'USB file containing a virus I had tucked away in my hoodie's pocket'...

- Mmmmmmmm... Chocolates... ( *w* )

Thus, I requested my two closest friends to pay a visit to Cain Manor that Holz.

- I'm not sure what 'that Holz' is... Is it 'then Holze,' or 'than Holz'? I'm not sure...

- As for Rebecca Maddox and Rae Crawford... *nose bleeds* *slapped by Rae* Ow... Anyway, those two seem to be specialists for Cassidy, though I'm not sure what they'd think of her if they knew of her "extralegal" exploits... Rebecca seems to be the sympathizer and believer in magic, while Rae comes off as a skeptic and overall downer... *Rae glares* *I flinch* I'd like to have a friend like Rebecca... She seems like an amiable person... As for Rae... I'd probably have to steer clear of her... She seems like a bit of a cold fish... *Rae runs at me* Whoops, gotta go... *runs for dear life from her Muay Thai kicks* *teleports away before she sweeps my legs*

I interrupted before Becca whatever words Becca readied escaped.

- I'd reword this... It doesn't make sense...

- One more thing on Rebecca... She seems to anticipate what Cassidy needs, maybe not by her mental powers... Maybe by her intuition... However she anticipated it, she seems to have immense mental powers... She's kinda like a supernatural aid for Cassidy, who might know more than she lets on...

- As for Rae, she seems fairly standard when it comes to side characters, given how straight forward and uptight Cassidy thinks her to be... *tries to tackle me again* *teleports away before she knees me in the face*

- As for Narcissa, even though I'm a guy, I'd hit her in the face... She is despicable... ( -_- )

- Oh, and one more thing... What is 'Tellus'? Is that a holiday or something? Oh, and what's 'Holz'? I don't know what that is, either...
5/23/2016 c2 Fox Trot 9
It's not that I'm not cautious. I simply don't understand why one should yield just because there might be some difficulty or risk. Risk is inherent in any task and difficult doesn't mean impossible. All it means is that one has to work harder and smarter.

- I tend to look down on double negatives in 3rd person narrative, b/c the narrator (aka author) can always make things less vague for the reader, such as the last double negative I saw in the prologue... I'll let this one pass, b/c its narrated by a character who has very British mannerisms...

- Also, reading through the chapter, Cassidy is very much like Raffles... If I didn't know any better, I'd say you'd modeled Cassidy on him... And reading down, when she mentioned she'll "provide a spectacle," she's reminding me more and more of Raffles... And in a way, she's also playing the magician in the form of misdirection, as well as a showman in the form of doing something spectacular...

- Also, Wynn kinda reminds me of Bunny, Raffles' partner in crime, for his caution and his reluctance to take part in her endeavors... In fact, he seems to fulfill the reader's shoes of being something of an everyman, almost... Though from what I've read so far, he's not exactly like Bunny... Wynn seems to be Cassidy's protector and mentor of sorts, whereas Raffles is the mentor and Bunny is the protege... But as I've seen in my reading of the Raffles stories (as I know you'll find out), Bunny was far more capable a burgler than than he seemed at first...

- As for this chapter overall, I like how this chapter sets the stage... Gives the reader expectations of the endeavor and of the chief baddie (Narcissa), and gives the author the chance to surprise the reader in the tale... I really have nothing to critique in this chapter, as there is enough showing the keep me interested and enough telling to give context...
5/20/2016 c1 Fox Trot 9
"…Is it true that if there is something that someone wishes to get off their chest, The Followers are not just willing to be there for them, you promise absolute confidentiality about anything shared?"

- I'd simplify this... It's a bit long-winded for a question, especially the Followers clause in the middle... I'd put that middle clause as a complete statement, then simplify the question in its own sentence...

- On second after reading further, she seems to be naturally long-winded in her questions and in her speech in general... This might actually be a weakness you could take advantage of, as a character with enough observation skills could pick up on that in her disguise... Maybe not cause-and-effect, but definitely a correlation... Of course, that would hinge on actually meeting her face-to-face, which I'm guessing most people don't get a chance to do...

The projected paintings weren't the sole thing he wasn't unfamiliar with.

- This is double-negative... I'd reword this... It's a bit confusing...

Silence and the sweet fragrance of strawberries replaced the blather and odors of below. Bright lights showered down from the ceiling to reveal a spacious room with crown gold walls and framed television monitors which transitioned between various artworks, none of which he recognized.

- Nice use of the 3 of the 5 senses here... I can tell your strengths are in descriptions...

She was as much a work as the paintings: she possessed clear creamy skin; a beautiful diamond face; longbow lips; a long straight nose; sharp jade eyes; and lush auburn locks, which she had fashioned in a princess cut, that flowed over her slender shoulders and down her back.

Like her ally, she boasted an ebony suit, hers showcasing a long sleeved jacket, knee length skirt, stockings, heels, and choker necklace. The sole articles of her presentation which weren't pearl black were her swan white blouse, cherry red tie, and her lips and trimmed fingernails which had been painted a light shade of pink. The ensemble fit her toned physique as well as two interlocking puzzle piece would one another.

- Dang, man... That is some amazing description there... ( O_O ) And nice use of metaphor at the end, too...

- And that's REALLY gutsy of her revealing herself as the Grandmaster of Theft... She's playing it rather close to the vest... or breasts... I meant, blouse... *tries not to think of pafu pafu* ( ;w; ) She definitely reminds me of Raffles when she said that being good doesn't always lead to fair results... And she's definitely ironic, but in a good way... Very much like Raffles... I can see why you're so interested in reading his adventures... ( *w* ) *smiles in a knowing smile*

- And there's a lot of bits and pieces on the backstory, which I find intriguing... I can tell you definitely did some planning on this story...

- And nice play on the name Narcissa... My guess is she's a self-centered queen with a major greed streak, very Machiavellian...

I really like this series... Definitely drew me in, especially with Cassidy's manipulative character and ironic notions... And Gerard Turner's situation and role in the story is a very interesting dilemma... Makes me think of the Faulkner quote, "The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself..." And you also show mastery of writing overall, with a few nitpicks that can be easily be fixed... Will definitely read more of this when I have time...
4/19/2016 c10 17cud-b-better
And a new plan is born. It's simply amazing how elaborate you make Cass' schemes and I like the intention of destroying Narc in the cruelest way possible.

Well Edan is the typical smart older man as well as somewhat of a mentor role to Cass, she seems to highly respect his opinion and their relationship seems a bit too professional though. I feel the gramps relation with Wynn is similar to Cass', starting to get the feeling the two maybe related as well.

I'm loving the fact that Cass is always one step ahead of her opponent and she properly thinks about the future and not just the present.

For some reason I'm starting to feel that the grandpa is going to turn out to be Deus. Just because of the unwritten rule of protag and antag have some kind of connection with one another.
4/17/2016 c9 cud-b-better
Well to the nemesis' meet, although only for a chat. Well that code didn't really mean too much but I want Narc to hurry up and be defeated, she's too pathetic of an antagonist.

I liked Deus' personality a type of thrill seeker who seems to treat life like a game that they just want to liven up.

Well Cass' freak out was an obvious act, but I suspect Deus also saw through it as well and is just playing along. Scheming against a schemer never ends to well. Here's hoping for some multilayer strategies filled with deceit.

Arc 1 was a good introduction to the characters and ending it in a way that was somewhat Cass' defeat was a good start. Although this time I feel she's going to be playing her own game.
4/17/2016 c8 cud-b-better
Well more talking with the priest. Good things you came up with here in the dialogue. I love the philosophy of question what you believe in.

To answer your questions I think Cass is more of a hero considering she is doing what she believes is correct and she doesn't glorify herself regarding it more just do what needs to be done.

Cass' ideas are a lot more realistic than Gerard's, who seems to think the sufferers should just endure. It sounds to me more someone who has had too easy of a life.

Becca to me sounds eerie from what has just mentioned, I got somewhat traitor vibes from what Cass said.

I'm guessing Narcissa didn't want to give it up or was planning on giving a fake or something. Or Deus got a word in.
4/16/2016 c7 cud-b-better
Well a good chapter with contrasting views but really the same objective. I think Gale is a bit of an asshole but not entirely wrong. The fact of telling cass to obey someone is rather stupid.

I think that Gale himself is a bit of a hypocrite he let someone whom in his eyes is a criminal go for the sake of a trinket, doesn't that mean he took justice into his own hands in his own way.

I get the feeling in terms of idealogies they are two different methods Cass' would work for the short term and give hope to the current, whilst Gale's attacks the root problem thus granting a better future. By working together they could fix society a hell of a lot better than just acting alone. I get the feeling Cass is more open to this option than Gale though.
4/16/2016 c6 cud-b-better
Well that ended without issue. Good use of psychology on Cass' part. Narcissa still pissed me off a bit much declaring how she should be saved despite being an absolute cow. Also feel Cass herself is blowing her own trumpet just a tad too much.

I was kind of hoping that Narcissa was going to put up a bit more of a fight, but it was totally onesided.

I get the feeling Gale is going to end up becoming something like the chasing cop to Cass. Always an obstacle but not really a villain. They may even join forces against Deus later in the story.
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