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review 2017-02-22 22:50
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Bone Gap - Laura Ruby

This is a fabulous book. It seems to be marketed as Magical Realism, but I think it slips over the boundary into Fantasy, and if that borderland is a place you like to hang out in, as I do, then this is perfect.

 

The heart of the tale is about belonging and about being an outsider, and how you can sometimes be both at once.

 

It's got a beautifully drawn relationship between two brothers, one who gave up all his dreams to care for the other when their feckless mother took off for a new boyfriend in Oregon, and the other who can't seem to quite fit in with anyone at all, including the big brother he idolises.

 

There's a scary villain (who maybe isn't evil, although certainly bad) and a beautiful maiden (who isn't entirely a passive damsel in distress waiting to be saved), and beasts and a horse who is a literal night mare, but not a nightmare.

 

The writing is lyrical, but not dense, in fact it's eminently readable. Although it took me 2 months to get around to writing the review about it, it's easy as pie to write because the book has stuck with me, and in fact writing this has made me want to go read it again. And I read it in a day the first time!

 

No book is perfect, and there are flaws. They don't matter. For instance, one of the characters is from Poland, and the Poland of the book may have been the Poland of the 1940's, but almost hilariously isn't the modern technologically up to date country of modern times. It jars, a little... but then it doesn't matter, because it's entirely beside the point and the plot.

 

I don't read YA as a rule, but I'm very very glad I read this one.

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review 2017-02-22 20:35
Broke with Fandom Wednesday to finish this!
Black Powder War - Naomi Novik

Given, I only had like fifteen pages and finished early in the day.   Still, if it hadn't been Temeraire, it's doubtful I would have done even that much non-fandom reading.   (And, no, I don't quite consider this fandom because it has books only; I feel fangirl-y about this, but Fandom Wednesday is going to be dedicated to reading that is both fandom related and that is often looked down upon.   Media tie-ins, popular culture studies, and comics.   I may or may not read more comics, and so forth, outside of Fandom Wednesday, but I started this for a couple reasons.   Today is the day new comics come out, and I want to celebrate that as I call Wednesdays the Happiest Day of the Week.   I also want to give myself one day to allow myself to read both comics and media tie-ins, to indulge in the study of popular culture, and to read media tie-ins like The Trials of Optimus Prime which are for young kids, not that well written and I read as pure brain candy.   Keep in mind, some tie-ins are excellent: Rocket and Groot was a brilliant business satire, and some do both nail the characters and have something important to add about our world.   Some do not do this, but I enjoy reading them anyway, and I'm skewing more towards those this Wednesday.)

 

That first paragraph was just to give you an idea of what Fandom Wednesday means to me; while I'll obviously be a little fluid on this, finishing books I've almost completed, or enjoy that much, I won't be doing it often.   I want this to be a day for me, where I read what I want and what everyone else things won't matter.   It's a whole self-care thing, along with trying to keep my comic pile under wraps.   (If I let too many pile up, it starts to look like a chore getting through them, and makes me feel pressure to do so.   That's where I am now, and it's part of why I'm starting this up.)   Fandom Wednesday is going to be important to me - and I won't be breaking the rules of Fandom Wednesday that often.   

 

Temeraire calls to me.   I'm allowing it on the first Fandom Wednesday for a couple reasons.  I really want to power through this series before Readercon, I love these characters, and this world, so much that I feel like a Temeraire fangirl, I particularly wanted to power through this book because of the general hopelessness in it and I only had a couple pages left.   I will be dedicating the rest of the day to fandom things.   

 

This was almost a three-and-a-half or four star book.   It started off much like the other two in a very general sense: the characters were just as well drawn, were in character, and while things were grim during their war against Napoleon Bonaparte, there was always a sense of camaraderie and hopefulness that didn't make this series overwhelmingly hopeless.    Looking at Novik's notes at the back, I understand why this book veered towards hopelessness: she did a lot of research and tried to keep this historically correct.   Brava to her for that.   I also understand what that kind of situation will do the morale of troops, and understand why they were so downcast.   However, it was all overwhelmingly gloomy at times.   I'm glad that Temeraire's crew never really lost their connection, more of a familial one than anything, but it was so depressing, it made me depressed and anxious.   It was painful to read at times, and yet compelling anyway.   The character growth and the plot were all perfect: Novik skillfully weaved everything in and didn't lose sense of the characters to serve the plot, nor did the plot overwhelm the characters.   

 

This was never going to be rated lower than three-and-a-half stars.   But I wavered between that and something higher at points.   Nothing really changed: the war scenes have been brutal from the beginning.   They are no more or no less so here.   Some war scenes are more brutal, and others less so.   It all depends on what type of battle they're all fighting and how desperate they are, and how uneven the fight is.   Basically, it fits the scene instead of being constrained by a sense of 'a fight should be this brutal or not.'   It's organic, and the problem is that it doesn't get more brutal - it just seems so due to the unevenness and due to how poorly things go in this book.   The loss of morale and the bitterness of some defeats brings everyone low and seems to highlight how awful some of these things truly are.   It gets overwhelming, and I'm not sure how, but Novik manages to balance it with a little optimism most times.  

 

That being said, I'm not sure it was possible in this book.   And I'm still not happy with how it was in the end.   Still, this is her third book and given how much I love all these books - yes, including Black Powder War - this seems like a minor gripe, especially given that it may have been a catch-22.   Novik did what she could with the history she has, and is aware of this issue.   She mentions it in some of the darkest places in this book, where Laurence recognizes how low morale is.   

 

It's also saved right at the end: a character is introduced who not only made me laugh, and brought a little lightness into this book, but was also effortlessly charming.   She, in fact, made me feel so much less gloomy about this whole book that she brought the rating way, way up.   It's worth slogging through the worst parts to get to her.  

 

I almost gave this book a five star rating due to Temeraire and her, in fact.   But the truth is that this did have a weaker spot than the other two books.   I couldn't really rate it quite as highly as them.  I do, however, have high hopes for the next book, which I wasn't really sure about after three-fourths of this book.   Huzzah!

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review 2017-02-22 16:13
Nine Princes in Amber
Nine Princes in Amber - Roger Zelazny

I love The Chronicles of Amber. It's one of the best high fantasy book series I've ever read. It's original, creative and kind of funny. I read whole series twice and I will gladly read it again.

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text 2017-02-22 05:13
Fiasco and WTF
Venom and Vanilla (The Venom Trilogy) - Shannon Mayer

Uff da, this is some silly stuff.

 

Venom and Vanilla started with a bang. We're introduced to Alena on her death bed, cut down by a communicable disease that's so virulent that she's flown out to Whidbey Island off the coast of Seattle to die isolated and alone. It's a sad, slow beginning, nostalgic for her simple life and small rebellions. Alena was a member of the Firstamentalists, an almost cult-like religious group who brooked no contact with the Supernaturals: vampires, werewolves, etc. Of course, fiction being what it is, the narrative lack dictates that, in order to cure the fatal disease rapidly killing her, Alena must become a Supernatural. 

 

I actually loved watching a protagonist struggle with her religion. Alena holds to her principles, even though she'd long questioned them, long past my expectations. While I found her childish refusal to do anything close to cussing annoying -- for fuck's sake, donkey butt has nowhere near the frisson of asshole -- I commend the commitment to character. Alena is a good girl, a religious girl, and she's not going to shed her convictions just because she's like a giant snake or there's a hot vampire or whatever. 

 

But that's about where I stop my praise, because this novel is such an absolute fiasco. Alena is turned into an ancient Greek monster by Merlin, THE Merlin, of all people, to be murdered by Achilles, who is apparently a thing, and Zeus works for Wal*Mart, plus there are vampires and naga and werewolves and satyr and god knows what fuck all. Oh, and there's a standard dystopia where Supes are second class citizens dumped onto the other side of a wall (oops, sorry Canada, you're now the dumping ground for supernatural creatures). 

 

This is one of those stories that is so far gone that I enjoyed it, just waiting for whatever bananas ass shit was going to happen next. Lightning shootout in Wal*Mart? Fine. Naked girl fight in a Queen Anne neighborhood attic? Sure. Casual slut shaming while reveling in the lead's nascent sexuality? Whatever. A house-sized snake fighting minotaurs? I guess. So much random shit happens, SO MUCH. SO MANY characters hide footballs, and not even stealthily, but like right in front of you like you don't have eyes in your head. It's so blatant it passes over insulting into something else completely. 

 

Anyway, I guess what I want to say is that the reader for the audio is fucking amazing, and I think she's the only reason I finished this thing. Her name is Saskia Maarleveld, and I really like her voice. 

 

The End. 

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review 2017-02-21 23:57
Rose Lady
Shalador's Lady - Anne Bishop

Nothing remarkable about this one. Like the previous install, it read more like a romance set in the Dark Jewell's world, with some glimpses in the main cast if you "are just here for Godzilla". That said, it does OK, or at least it didn't make me want to throw it against the wall out of the sheer stupidity inside like Tangled Webs.

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