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review 2020-03-24 15:38
Great book
The Changeling - Victor LaValle

There are people out there, and I bet you know at least one, who believe that fantasy fiction is simply genre fiction. That it is, to borrow a phrase that appears in movie reviews by people who do not read or watch fantasy very often, little more than magic and Morris men. (I've only ever seen Morris Men in Terry Pratchett, btw). These people are stupid. But you knew that. What you should do is direct them to this book.

LaValle's novel is on one level about marriage, about parenthood (fatherhood in particular), race, and class. It is an example of literature, of pointed societal conversation, of a love of books. On the surface the story is about Apollo and how he becomes a man and eventually a father. It takes a bit for the plot (and title of the novel) to kick in, but when it does, it does. The build up is, in fact, excellent writing. Reminded me a bit of James Baldwin.

When the title takes hold, the book becomes literature and good fantasy. LaValle does not disregard or drop the issues that he raises in the beginning but incorporates them in the fantasy narrative, which is what good and excellent fantasy does. Apollo's pain and uncertainty as he struggles to find meaning or sense out of what has happened are real, are heart rending.

Seriously, just read it.

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review 2019-10-25 07:04
Shared World Novels what what
Lord of the Abyss - Nalini Singh

This was an odd little experiment, which I undertook because I'm so on the hook for Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling novels, but then I haven't been down for much else she's written. I'm not sure what the official name for this series is -- Lords of [Something] would be my guess -- but it's four different paranormal romance novels with an overarching plot written by four different writers. I find this sort of thing fascinating -- when novel writers collaborate like television or comic writers.


The last series like this I read was the Crimson City novels. Most of them are by someone called Liz Maverick (which is surely not a pen name at all), but the second is by Marjorie M Liu. who, before she racked up all the awards for Monstress, wrote this fucking brilliantly weird PNR series called Dirk & Steele. I mean, she really moved the markers for what you can pull off in the sometimes boring vampire/werewolf snorefest you can find in the genre. Liu took the kind of premise that made me exclaim, wait, what?? like a hundred times when I was reading the first novel, Crimson City, and in her story, grounds it so completely in believable interpersonal concerns that my brain stopped screaming every 15 minutes about how nothing about the world made any sense. That's some godamn writing right there. 


Singh's outing in the Lords of [Something] maybe wasn't at this level, but I actually made it all the way through to the end of the novel, which is something I cannot say about the other three books in the series. Some of this is just the silliness of the premise, because all of the books are riffs on various fairy tales. There's one based on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, for example, where our fair haired maiden finds a rock hard cock which was just right, and I just couldn't stop my brain from squealing immaturely, and then breaking into laughter.  


Lord of the Abyss is very loosely based on Beauty and the Beast, and it works in the places that Singh tends to excel, and otherwise is kind of a mess. She does an excellent job writing characters out of trauma and abuse. She doesn't go for the magic vagina, the ladybits that can cure all, but constructs believable psychologies warped by neglect, and then slowly, carefully, draws them out. But the world, and the magic, is slapdash, so the parts of the plot that intersect with that are shaky at best. 


So, fun to see a writer I tend to enjoy, at least in one limited context, pull off something in a shared world. Didn't captivate me like Psy-Changeling, but it was a perfectly cromulent way to pass the time. 


ETA: Ok, I actually looked, and the series is called Royal House of Shadows, which seems kind of stuffy and conceited, but what do I know. 



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review 2019-10-23 05:08
Diverse Voices
The Changeling - Victor LaValle


It always takes him a good bit to get to the scary/creepy stuff, but the wait is always worth it.



This was an interesting interpretation of the Norse legend/myth of the trolls.

I don't think trolls were involved in swapping babies though.  I always thought that was faeries.


It seems to start out as a kidnapping & child murder ring thriller, then Kablam!  we're in fairy tale mode. I think the transition happens when he's on the island, but it seemed a bit abrupt.


Some parts were a bit head scratching, and we never do find out when the baby was switched.  

His mother taking multiple times to finally come out with the truth about his father made me want to slap her.


It also makes you realize just how pervasive technology has become and just how much privacy people have willing given up without even realizing it.



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review 2019-10-20 17:04
Shards of Hope
Shards of Hope (Psy/Changeling) - Nalini Singh

This opens with the kidnapping of Aden and Zaira. They are able to escape and find refuge with a newer changeling group. While in this group, they talk about their feelings for each other. Zaira, having had a shitty childhood and murdered her parents in self-defense, believes she has an insanity inside her. So, for much of the book there is the "I want/need you, but can't!" Aden has no such barrier and has made it known he wants her just as she is.
This book is Aden and Zaira's story, but about so much more. There is a conspiracy afoot to take advantage of the fall of Silence and undermine newly forming relationships between the Changelings, Humans, and Psy. I loved the interplay between the various groups/characters we have meet in previous books. The slowing developing trust. The reaching out and asking for help/information/sharing. Even Sascha and Nikita have a little page time. A lot of ground has been covered since the first book.  The group named the Consortium (responsible for the discord/kidnapping/murder) has given rise to the Trinity Accord (which opens the 2nd volume/series); more developments to come!
Even though I think I prefer Psy-Changeling/Changeling-Changeling pairings, this was a strong entry. I really liked Zaira and her strength. I thought she came full circle, it just took her a little longer. Aden was the perfect hero.
Even though each book has a couple, these are not stand alone and should be read in order! This series has been consistently really good and I highly recommend.

Halloween Bingo: diverse voices

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review 2019-06-06 22:45
Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh 5 Star Review!!
Wolf Rain - Nalini Singh

Excellent. Just Excellent.

Nalini Singh never disappoints. This is an amazing joyful action packed romance. The world building is off the hook which is stunning this deep into a series. I am so excited each time a new book comes out. I read it right away.

I love this universe and I love these characters.

In Wolf Rain, we get Alexie and Memory. We get a wolf dealing with genetics that may make it impossible to have a mate and Memory is finding her own strength and her talent. 

Watching them falling in like and love is a delight. Sexy too. So sexy. 

There is such heat and connection between them. 

The world expands here too with Memory Psy gifts. We get a wonderful plot that is perfect balance with the love story.

I also want to call out an amazing moment in the book of friendship and womanhood and representation. 

Singh's books have been a shining light for decades for diversity in characters. Diversity of all kinds.

Memory is of African decent. Many of Singh's characters have multi racial backgrounds. 
One of the ways Memory's captor controls her is by forcing her to straighten her hair. Memory resist his control over her body. When she get free, her hair is a snarl. She wants it natural. Another heroine helps her get those curls on point. 

This reminds me of the hours I spent growing up chatting with my friends while her mom put her braids in. The perfection of this moment to be so seen and to know the value of saying how we look is everything.

So, thank you Nalini Singh for masterful journey with surprises and delights of every kind. 

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