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review 2017-07-12 05:45
I enjoyed a lot
A Taste of Honey - Kai Ashante Wilson

A Taste of Honey is the Hugo, Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, and Locus finalist novella that N. K. Jemisin calls "a love story as painful as it is beautiful and complex". One of BookRiot's "Best Books We Read in November."

Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods.

Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. In defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind gay romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.

A Taste of Honey is a new novella in the world of Kai Ashante Wilson's The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Review:

Dear Kai Ashante Wilson,

I have read your story as a part of the Hugo voting package and I really enjoyed it. Readers please note that I have not read “The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps” but the story did not left me feeling confused at all. Oh there were features in the world building I would have loved to know more about but I thought that for this story just enough was revealed and several whys that I had did not stop me from easily following the plot.

Readers please also note that after I finished the story I have read several reviews and some of the readers seemed confused by the non -linear narrative in this novella. Honestly I didn’t understand that complaint at all. Yes, the narrative jumps around *a lot* chronologically. There are no flash backs per se, but it is certainly not linear at all. However, the writer clearly marks every jump – for example, fifth day or tenth night or 52 years old.  My advice will be just to pay attention to these marks and you will not be confused.

I always enjoy the book which has gay love story front and center as this one most certainly did. Is this a romance though? I don’t know. See I cannot answer the question whether the ending was happy or not. For me it most certainly was, but I acknowledge that it is most certainly open to interpretations.

The language is so beautiful and I thought that language itself played an important part in the story. I cannot reveal more details because I feel  most of the revelations about this novella would be VERY spoilerish.  I do understand that it makes the review vague and less satisfying unfortunately. I wish I could quote from the ebook, but I cannot because as I said I have not bought the story, I read it as part of the Hugo reading, but please do check the sample and see if the writing is for you.

I loved the settings – the story mostly takes place in the fictional country of Ollorum as blurb describes it for you where Aqib and Lucrio meet. I thought Ollorum came to live based on some African influences and no, I cannot place it within specific real country context unfortunately. Dallucam seemed Rome inspired. 

I said previously that I am not sure if the story belongs to the genre Romance despite having gay love story front and center however there is also not much of the development of the relationship going on – they fit well together, but they fell in love pretty fast, so there is that. I didn’t think it made the story any less beautiful by the way.

There is a VERY significant plot twist in the last few pages of the book – the plot twist which surprised me in this story even if I saw such plot development ( in a very general way, I am almost looking at the whole trope behind this twist) before, but I was pleased that it happens here. I appreciated it.

The only reason why I am not giving this novella a perfect mark is because there was another plot development which was mentioned in the middle of the book but was not fully explained and I could not believe that the writer did not explain it. It could have been intentionally of course, but it almost felt as if the author forgot about it and I was annoyed.

Grade: B+

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url 2017-06-07 14:18
Celebrate Pride Month (from TOR.com)
Passing Strange - Ellen Klages
Down Among the Sticks and Bones - Seanan McGuire
The Drowning Eyes - Emily Foster
River of Teeth - Sarah Gailey
Runtime - S. B. Divya
A Taste of Honey - Kai Ashante Wilson

TOR.com article linked to notes more about the linked books saying  "We’re kicking off Pride Month with a list of Tor.com novellas featuring LGBTQ+ characters. . . . Join us later in the month for a list of novels!..."

Source: www.torforgeblog.com/2017/06/01/celebrate-pride-month-with-tor-com
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review 2017-06-03 01:39
ARC Review: Symbols by Mario Kai Lipinski
Symbols - Mario Kai Lipinski

Gosh, I wanted to love this book. I mean, read the blurb - the bullied kid who's spent his days hiding from everyone slowly falls for the gentle giant at the high school they both attend, until an act of violence threatens to tear them both apart... yeah, I signed up immediately for the ARC.

And for the first half or so, this book held me in its grip, as the story between Matt, the bullied kid, and Shane, the gentle giant, unfolds, as Matt begins to trust Shane, as they fall in love and forge a path together.

Yes, sure, there were some issues with the dialogue, which I attributed to the author not being a native speaker and not living in the US so research into how teens talk these days would have been tricky. And yes, sure, the principal pontificates to Shane when he first starts about there being a zero-tolerance policy at the school, and yet she has no idea that Matt has been bullied for years, hiding in corners, shaking and utterly miserable, terrified, in tears, something that even the cafeteria cashier has noticed, yet the principal has no clue - how's that possible? And why wouldn't the cafeteria cashier talk to an adult at the school? Many of the bullying incidents happen in hallways or inside the cafeteria, and yet nobody addresses it.

Still, it was engaging, and was invested.

However, right about the time, Matt is beaten up and ends up in a coma in the hospital, this book took a massive nose-dive. The asshole detective that arrests Shane for allegedly causing Matt's injuries (he didn't), the subplot with Shane engaging Matt's long-time nemesis to find the real perpetrator, the court date, the dramatic last minute rescue by Shane's former friend, the drama with Matt's mother's reaction to Shane's size, the nasty old woman on the bus, and, and, and - it was just all too much and too over the top and too unrealistic in how much was piled on Matt and Shane's shoulders.

Look, I got that the author tried to make the point that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, i.e. a teenager by his size and tattoos, but good grief, that point wasn't just made so much as hammered home time and again. And Shane, whom I adored, just took the judgments time and again, making all kinds of excuses for people's reactions to him. I hated that he did that. I hated that people would judge him just based on his looks and not his actions. For Matt's mother to think that Shane had hurt Matt, for anyone to think that Shane would hurt a fucking fly just because he's super tall, just pissed me off.

And yeah, I knew who the villain was going to be, but the reasoning behind the violent attack was pathetic. The perpetrator's characterization up to that point didn't indicate anything like what was given as a reason - I didn't buy it at all, and thought that it was just too convenient.

I loved both Matt and Shane, and I loved how gentle Shane was with Matt, and how Matt came out of his shell over time, and became the stronger one of the two. Their relationship was well done, and the author did a fantastic job bringing across the emotional bond between the two young men. What I didn't like so much were the multiple incidents of miscommunication and false assumptions that both of them make, but I chalked that off to them being young.

I think it can be very difficult for a non-native speaker to successfully write authentic dialogue as language continually evolves, especially in this day and age, and that the manner in which teens talk cannot be gleaned from, say, books, TV shows, or movies.

The premise was fantastic - the execution not so much. Still, three stars is nothing to scoff at. I did enjoy reading this book for the most part, and I did love Matt and Shane.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-04-14 17:28
Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps - Kai Ashante Wilson

Series: Sorcerer of the Wildeeps #1

 

Sorcerer of the Wildeeps follows Demane, a human with godly blood who is a guard for a caravan. A friend of mine really liked it so I came in with fairly high expectations. There’s a gay romance angle that’s kind of sweet, but largely I just couldn’t get into the book. I think I agree with others who complained that the sequences with the guards in the caravan before they got to the Road through the Wildeeps went on too long. There were also some weird tense shifts that contributed to the lack of cohesion of the novella. It was more fun once they actually got to the Wildeeps but it was a case of too little too late, and I found the twist near the end too well telegraphed. I don’t think I’ll be reading the second one.

 

Overall it’s an interesting world but I wasn’t drawn into the story. I also wasn’t drawn in by the language; I don’t see why others found it so appealing.

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review 2017-04-07 10:46
FAST der feuchte Traum jeder Leseratte
The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman

Ich glaube fest daran, dass Genevieve Cogman, Autorin der Reihe „The Invisible Library“, eine tolle und interessante Person ist. Leider ist ihre Kurzbiografie, die sie auf ihrer Website veröffentlichte, sterbenslangweilig. Da steht lediglich, dass sie für verschiedene Rollenspielprojekte geschrieben hat und aktuell für den englischen National Health Service arbeitet. Gähn. Glücklicherweise interessiert mich das Privatleben von Autor_innen beim Buchkauf nicht. „The Invisible Library“ fiel mir in einer Buchhandlung ins Auge. Oh ja, das kommt durchaus noch vor. Der Klappentext gefiel, das Cover auch – es durfte spontan bei mir einziehen.

 

Irene ist keine Diebin. Nein, sie ist Bibliothekarin. Zugegeben, in ihrem Job muss sie sich hin und wieder als Agentin und Spionin betätigen, aber diese Ausflüge dienen schließlich einem höheren Wohl. Sie infiltriert alternative Welten, lokalisiert wertvolle Bücher und stellt diese unter den Schutz der Unsichtbaren Bibliothek, die zwischen den Welten existiert. Irenes letzter Auftrag verlief erfolgreich, wenn auch turbulent, sodass sie reichlich verwundert ist, sofort auf den nächsten Fall angesetzt zu werden. In Begleitung des neues Rekruten Kai soll sie ein Buch aus einer alternativen Welt bergen, die hochgradig vom Chaos infiziert ist. Doch als Irene und Kai dort eintreffen, ist das Buch verschwunden. Es wurde gestohlen. Mit leeren Händen in die Bibliothek zurückzukehren kommt nicht in Frage, also stürzt sich das Duo kopfüber in die Unterwelt Londons. Zwischen Geheimgesellschaften, übernatürlichen Wesen und handfester Detektivarbeit begegnet ihnen das schmutzigste Geheimnis der Bibliothek – und plötzlich sind ihre Leben und die Realität selbst in Gefahr. Von wegen langweiliges Dasein einer Bibliothekarin.

 

Bücherwürmer lieben Bücher, die von Büchern handeln. Soweit richtig? Okay. Das heißt aber nicht, dass wir wahllos über jeden Roman in Begeisterungsstürme ausbrechen, der Bücher, Bibliotheken oder das Lesen thematisiert. Ich fand „The Invisible Library“ mittelmäßig, obwohl die Idee des Buches bzw. der Reihe selbstverständlich toll ist. Reisen in alternative Welten, eine gigantische Bibliothek, die außerhalb von Zeit und Raum existiert und die berufliche Jagd nach seltenen Büchern. Der feuchte Traum jeder Leseratte. Zumindest einzeln. Die Kombination dieser Komponenten empfand ich als schwierig, unter anderem, weil Genevieve Cogman ihren Ansatz selbst kritisiert.
Die Bibliothekar_innen der Unsichtbaren Bibliothek sichern literarische Werke, um sie zu bewahren. Bin ich die einzige, die diesen Beweggrund für das Entwenden eines Buches aus einem Alternativuniversum irgendwie dünn, egoistisch und verantwortungslos findet? De facto stehlen die Bibliothekar_innen, da gibt es nichts zu beschönigen. Nicht einmal die Protagonistin Irene kann überzeugend rechtfertigen, dass sie in fremde Welten eindringt, um dort einen Diebstahl zu begehen. Direkt darauf angesprochen, stammelt sie eine unzusammenhängende und offenbar auswendig gelernte Antwort, in der meines Erachtens nach leise Kritik seitens der Autorin mitschwingt. Bewahrt die Unsichtbare Bibliothek nur um des Bewahrens willen? Entspricht das nicht der Definition von sinn- und ziellosem Horten? Wie viele Bücher befinden sich in ihren Regalen, die nach der Sicherung nie wieder angefasst wurden? Was passiert, wenn ein Buch gestohlen wird, das für die Zukunft der alternativen Welt bedeutsam ist? Grundsätzlich gefiel es mir, dass Cogman die Ethik der Unsichtbaren Bibliothek in Frage stellt, ich kann allerdings nicht leugnen, dass ich dadurch den Eindruck gewann, dass sie ihrem eigenen Entwurf nicht so recht traute oder nicht zu 100 Prozent von ihm überzeugt war.
Außerdem glaube ich, dass Irene nur einen Bruchteil dessen weiß, was hinter der erhabenen Fassade der Bibliothek vor sich geht. Normalerweise verpflichten sich Bibliothekar_innen für die Ewigkeit. Während ihrer Mission begegnet Irene jedoch ein Aussteiger, jemand, der sich von der Bibliothek abwandte. Die Frage, die sich aufdrängt, ist, warum diese Person ausstieg. Warum verließ er die Bibliothek? Angesichts der Loyalität, Leidenschaft und Hingabe, die scheinbar alle Bibliothekar_innen empfinden, fiel diese Entscheidung garantiert nicht grundlos oder leichthin. Leider hinterfragt Irene seine Motivation nicht, weil sie die Jagd nach dem Buch pausenlos in Atem hält.
„The Invisible Library“ ist äußerst tempo- und actionreich und verströmt eine gute Portion des Charmes einer Detektivgeschichte à la „Sherlock Holmes“. Ich mochte die etwas altmodische Ausstrahlung der Geschichte, hätte mir allerdings gewünscht, dass Cogman sich mit der Atmosphäre des alternativen Londons mehr Mühe gegeben hätte. Ich hatte Schwierigkeiten, mir die Unterschiede zur reellen Stadt vorzustellen, weil mir die Beschreibung der viktorianisch angehauchten Steampunk-Version oberflächlich und skizzenhaft erschien. Insgesamt fand ich das Konzept der Stadt auch etwas unkreativ. Alles schon tausend Mal dagewesen. Wieso nicht eine völlig neue Variante erschaffen?

 

Wenn ihr mit dem Gedanken spielt, „The Invisible Library“ zu lesen, weil euch beispielsweise „Die Seiten der Welt“ von Kai Meyer begeisterte, muss ich euch leider enttäuschen. Dieser Reihenauftakt weist längst nicht das gleiche Maß an liebevoller, inspirierender Konstruktion auf. Ich fand das Buch ganz nett und unterhaltsam, mehr aber auch nicht. Trotz dessen warf die Lektüre so viele Fragen auf, dass ich beschlossen habe, dem Nachfolger „The Masked City“ eine Chance zu geben. Ich bin neugierig. Ich möchte wissen, ob Genevieve Cogman die Kritik an der Ethik der Unsichtbaren Bibliothek weiterverfolgt und Irene weitere Geheimnisse aufdecken lässt, die ihre Ergebenheit auf die Probe stellen. Vielleicht braucht die Reihe einfach ein wenig Anlauf, bis sie richtig in Fahrt kommt.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/genevieve-cogman-the-invisible-library
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