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review 2018-07-15 05:41
The Magic in this Other World is Too Far Behind! Volume 2 - Gamei Hitsuji,Hikoki

DNF 20%

 

I am disappointed to say that this volume was a bit of a letdown. There were too much technobabble and unnecessary exposition in the passages I read. I had a difficult time to slog through the passages talking about Kabbalah and the different elements for example. It is a shame that I have to rate this book a low rating because I liked the first volume. I forgave the first volume for its wall of text because it was meant to be an introduction for the series. However, in this second volume, the info dumps became old fast. I wish information like that were in a guidebook or some side material so that the story would be read more smoothly without all the technobabble. 

 

However, I liked the illustrations in the book.

 

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review 2018-07-09 22:45
Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Picture Us in the Light - Kelly Loy Gilbert
Danny Cheng is the product of his environment. He's been under pressure from his family, peers, and community to succeed, but at least its been allowed to be on his terms. Danny wants to be an artist and has a rewarding talent. However, his last year of high school has been fraught with the recent death of a classmate through suicide, and the troubling secrets his parents have kept from him coming out into the open. With everything else going on Danny's crush on his friend Harry - already dating his other good friend Regina - seems more emotion than a teen should handle. Life is that complicated.

Even if the story wasn't a compelling one, I'd give Gilbert extra credit for depicting Danny's art in a way that makes sense, and is not simplistic. It is difficult to talk about artists and art in a novel or a film, but the reader gets a sense of what Danny is doing, and also, why its a big deal. This is a young adult story, so there are certain elements of drama and quotidian teen age crap that has to be dealt with, but it did not detract from this story.

'Picture Us in the Light' packs a lot of emotion into its pages, and handles issues of race, immigration, non-traditional families, and suicide, among others effectively and compassionately. Highly recommended.
 
 
 
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review 2018-07-09 22:06
Ocean Light
Ocean Light - Nalini Singh

If I believed in such a thing, the Psy-Changeling series would be a "guilty pleasure." While I don't believe in guilt-reading -- that's ridiculous -- there are aspects of the series that make me me feel kinda embarrassed. Any romance involving one of the changelings -- and they are always predatory changelings -- is so hopelessly mired in kinky Victorian notions of biological determinism and dominance and submission. I mean, that's usually what you find in animal shifter narratives, so Singh isn't outside the norm, but I know I'm going to have to grit my teeth through that stuff to get to the extremely cool mythology she's been spinning for almost 20 novels now. (I don't have the same problem with the Psy, who are Vulcan-like psychics, because their romances tend to center around recovery from severe abuse and personal sexual awakening, which I find much more interesting than YOU MAH WOMAN GRARR.)

 

Technically, Psy-Changeling wrapped up with Allegiance of Honor, which was a sort of clip show, where we checked back in with literally everyone who had ever been mentioned in the previous 14 books. I get why it was written that way, but romance epilogues make my teeth ache, and this was more than a dozen of them all piled up. It was also a letdown because the previous three novels, Heart of Obsidian, Shield of Winter, and Shards of Hope, are hands down the best novels in the series. Singh brings all of her complicated mythology to full flower in those novels, and in ways that make the romance plot absolutely integral to the narrative. Heart of Obsidian especially. That they're a dozen novels deep in a series makes them even more impressive; Singh had the opposite of burnout. 

 

Silver Silence, the novel directly previous to Ocean Light, was the first of the novels in Psy-Changeling Trinity, which details life after the fall of Silence (a form of widespread social conditioning practiced by the Psy designed to repress all emotion.) Like Ocean Light, it follows a character seen on the periphery for most of the series: Silver Mercant, personal assistant to all-around badass Kaleb Krychek. She falls in with a bear pack outside of Moscow, which was interesting because we've never seen bear changelings in action before. Bear changelings end up being annoying, but then they're not as drearily serious as either the cats or the wolves, so on the balance more fun to read about.

 

Like Silver Silence, Ocean Light centers on a peripheral group, one that has heretofore been shrouded in mystery: the BlackSea pack, the changeling clan that encompasses the entirety of the earth's oceans. Even the land-bound changelings think of them as out there. While we've encountered some of the BlackSea characters in Psy-Changeling novels, specifically Miane, the alpha, and her security guy, the pack itself has been secretive. BlackSea takes in Bowen Knight, head of the Human Alliance, in order for BlackSea scientists to remove a degrading chip in Knight's head. We've met Bowen many times before. As the head of the Human Alliance, he's tangled with both the Psy and changelings (both of whom tend to treat humans like butt monkeys).

 

The romance largely consists of Bowen and the BlackSea chef, Kaia, making eyes at one another while agonizing about how Bowen might die from a medical procedure. It's not particularly compelling. The non-romance plot has to do with ongoing kidnappings of BlackSea members, kidnappings that seem to be perpetrated by the Human Alliance. Knight and Miane's security guy work towards figuring out who the traitors in their organizations must be, but mostly through phone calls and data searches, so that plot-line isn't particularly compelling either. There is some movement at the very end, but reading about a grueling transatlantic flight isn't exactly action either. 

 

BlackSea itself, though, was interesting to read about. There’s still a fair amount we don’t know about the pack – pack members tend to be especially secretive about what their animal is – but the underwater city was beautifully rendered. While shifter narratives almost never address bestiality – and I am not suggesting they should – there was an ongoing tentacle-sex gag going on here that surprised a laugh out of me. All considered, Ocean Light was fine, but I felt like more could have been done with both BlackSea and Bowen Knight, alas.  

 

 

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review 2018-07-07 12:10
Midnight Blue-Light Special - Seanan McGuire
Midnight Blue-Light Special - Seanan McGuire

Since I have the series now (courtesy of the Hugo voter packet), I thought I'd push on and read at least this one and the next one (Half-Off Ragnarok) before I make a decision about whether to finish the series...

 

This book carries on in the aftermath of Discount Armageddon, with the dust having just about settled from the events described there - the bar where Verity has been working has now been turned into a modern-day freakshow to exploit the gullible and Verity herself is just about coming to terms with the fact that her dance career has stalled completely. She's also still shagging Dominic, who's been sent by the Covenant to see if New York needs purging of its cryptid populace, despite the fact that his character is still pretty much cardboard with a pretty face. 

 

Anyway, in this book, the Covenant decide to check up on Dominic's apparently half-arsed survey of the city and send along a bunch of more efficient operatives to see what's actually going on. This leads to a lot of time for Verity going round and warning the local cryptid populace that Bad Things Are Coming, while also angsting about her boyfriend and which side he'll choose when the chips are down. It also leads to her spending a chunk of the book either unconscious or naked and being tortured for information by moustache-twirling Covenant lackies, so if the latter is an issue for you then you might want to pass on by. 

 

So, I'm going to read Half-Off Ragnarok, as it introduces Verity's brother - we'll see if I find that less annoying and then I'll make a decision on the rest of the series...

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review 2018-07-06 12:31
Another win
Midnight Blue-Light Special - Seanan McGuire

I love how the purge coming to town creates so much more drama.   With more Covenant agents ready to descent on NYC, Verity Price has to debate how much she can trust the Covenant agent already in town - Dominic DeLuca, whom she happens to be sleeping with in a sexytimes way.  

 

 

 

But when he's called on to choose between her life and his, he's honest enough to say he doesn't know where he'll land.  Can Verity protect her life, the cryptozoological species in NYC, and also land the guy?  

 

Sorry, guys, my description for this is not as good as the first book.  Luckily this book WAS as good as the first.   

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