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review 2018-06-19 02:13
All the stars!
Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee

Can I give this all the stars?   No, only five?   Okay, then.   

 

So I think that the lazy/sloppy world building reviews kept me from finishing this.   I thought they were rational and well thought out arguments, and they make me think about how I approach and read books.  And how others will approach them differently.  

 

Because you know what?  I don't get so much of this book.  Like a lot of this.  This book makes me feel like a big 'ol dum-dum, and so do some of the reviews where I am like 'you clearly understood something I didn't.'   I frown-y face at myself so much for being dumb enough not to really get so much of this book.   I actually am not sure I disagree with the reviews, although I have a different take on the world building: I think that things, like how the calendars work and influence the fighting, and the math of it all, were left vague on purpose, and for two different reasons. 

 

The first is twofold in fact: the math it would take to come up with the way the calendars actually worked, and implement them, seems to be, I dunno, so much work it would make me want to curl up in a corner and weep.   More than that, if that much math is involved in such a complicated calendar, do you really want to read that?  I mean, I'm sure many math-oriented people would geek over it, but I personally didn't want to read that much math, thank you very much!  I think Lee realized that nine-tenths of this book would be 'and this how the calendrical fighting system worked' if he were to properly explain it.   (And I probably still wouldn't get it, and I would feel like the largest dum-dum ever, so thank you, Lee, for not letting my ego take that blow!)

 

Secondly, I don't think it's that important.   So did it bother me at first?   Yup.  And even when I saw those reviews, I tried to read it and was like, nope, don't get it, and got frustrated.  I figured with those reviews, why bother?   But when I started reading Raven Stratagem for the Hugo voting, I realized I kind of needed the backstory, and hey, I owned a signed copy!   (A signed copy that came with me to rides on Universal Studios, FL, by the way.)

 

So I grit my teeth, started reading, and I just let go of needing to understand.   Once I realized the world, or part of it, was incomprehensible, I allowed myself to appreciate the nuance of the political system, those who rebelled against it, and the characters' interplay and growth.   

 

And I found that I loved this: I didn't care that this book made me feel stupid, massively, epically stupid.  I didn't care that I didn't get so much of it.   I just wanted more

 

Of course, this book has loads of the kinds of angst and mind-fuckery that I just love, so it filled a hole in my soul.  And I even sent the author a note saying that after the shitshow of a wedding and my grandfather's passing that these books kept me trucking. 

 

He sent me back a lovely e-mail that said he was glad they brought me comfort.  I own this as an e-book - and an audiobook.  I'm probably going to listen to the audiobook soon and may invest in the second and third, if I can get over Jedao's voice.   The problem with audiobooks is that often times the characters voices don't match the voices in my head, and I listened to a bit of Ninefox Gambit earlier tonight.   Jedao's voice might kill this trilogy as audiobooks for me, to be honest.

 

 

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review 2018-06-19 01:39
Cybertron comes back to Earth
Transformers: Robots In Disguise (2011-2016) Vol. 7 - John Barber,Sarah Stone,Livio Ramondelli,Andrew Griffith,Casey Coller

At least, Optimus Prime and a small group of Autobots do.  I wasn't a big fan at first read, but I'm coming to appreciate just how brilliant a move this was: the focus stays on the Cybertronians, not the humans, and even then?   Thundercracker adopting a dog and becoming the worst screenwriter ever is just hilarious. 

 

Somehow, even when he's mangling screenplays and writing in general, Thundercracker just wins me over.   Like completely over.   

 

Loved this, and read it early on in the month, right before the Hugo packet hit.   

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review 2018-06-18 20:15
Wolves on audio...it's a thing...who knew...
Once Upon a Wolf - Rhys Ford

Well actually I'm pretty sure we all did but for me this one was a must...it's by Rhys Ford and she's totally a favorite of mine. So needless to say there were no real surprises here because...I've read the book already and as far as the story goes as far as the story goes my original review still holds true so, I'm going to borrow from it in regards to the story...here goes...

 

First off let's chat a bit about the main characters and their relationship...I liked the way Gibson and Zach's relationship developed as a slow burn against the backdrop of event's that while not connected to Zach and Gibson held a loose tie to Gibson and Ellis's family history on the mountain . Ellis grabbed my curiosity fairly quickly and I'm definitely keeping my fingers crossed that there's a story coming for him soon.I really enjoyed the banter between Zach and Gibson and with Ellis as well...

“You’re really going to attempt to make pancakes?” The mock horror in Zach’s grimace was a clear indication he’d picked up more than his share of sardonic expressions from the brothers. “Aren’t you happy with trying to kill me just at dinnertime? Now you’ve moved on to breakfast?”

With less than 100 pages to this story there's a lot happening and lot of groundwork is being laid out for not just this story but I suspect some of it will become more relevant as the series unfolds. As well as Ellis who I'm hoping that we'll see more of some of the secondary characters like Ruth and Martha, the two women who are looking after Zach's B&B, then there's Pat Brown the son of the former sheriff and currently working for the sheriff's department himself and there's some interesting history between the Kellers and the Browns to be sure.

 

I'm hoping that as things progress in this series we'll learn a little more a bout Zach's life before he came to own the B&B. We've gotten some glimpses of his life, enough to know that Zach was in a accident, that his family relations are strained to say the least.

 

While this one got off to a bit of a slow start for me. I have faith in Ms Ford's ability to draw me into her stories and make me not only glad I'm reading them but want more and more...and yes, more and so far I definitely want some more of Gibson and Zach but I'd also like to find out more about Ellis and while he really didn't seem to be a nice guy much less a good one. I have the feeling that there's possibly more to Pat Brown than we know and I'm sure that it could make for an interesting story as well. I think at the end of it all for me I'm on board with this series not because of where Ms Ford has taken us but because I'm curious to see where we have yet to go.

 

Now on to the audio portion of this audio book...

Derrick McClain was the narrator for this audio book and overall I enjoyed things except for the minor glitch that Zach's voice wasn't quite what I had imagined it would be. 

 

My previous experiences with this narrator have varied and while a couple of the audio books that I've listened to haven't worked really well for me the opposite is also true and I've really enjoyed others.

 

Regardless of whether I've enjoyed it or not I do find that in general this narrator ticks the basics on my list of 'must have's for an audio book'. His voices are varied, expressive and words are pronounced clearly and concisely but not to the point of being monotone or stilted.

 

So overall Derrick McClain produces an audio book that can readily be enjoyed and beyond that when it comes to things like how a voice sounds we're talking about a purely subjective issue that's a matter of personal taste which to me means that it's not an issue of right or wrong, good or bad just what works for one individual and not for another. This time around things didn't work as well as they have other times, but that doesn't mean that the next time won't be an entirely different experience. While he's not on my 'must listen' list neither is he on my list of 'not in this life time' more like 'let's take this one audio book at a time'. 

 

Still at the end of it all I really enjoyed this story and can't wait to read/listen to what comes next from Ms. Ford's band of 'Wayward Wolves'. 

 

*************************

An audio book of 'Once Upon A Wolf' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

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review 2018-06-17 11:00
The Wanderer (Chronicles of the Riftlands #1) by Rowan McAllister

After centuries of traveling the continent of Kita and fighting the extradimensional monsters known as Riftspawn, mage Lyuc is tired and ready to back away from the concerns of humanity. 

But the world isn’t done with him yet. 

While traveling with a merchant caravan, Lyuc encounters Yan, an Unnamed, the lowest caste in society. Though Yan has nothing but his determination and spirit, he reminds Lyuc what passion and desire feel like. While wild magic, a snarky, shapeshifting, genderfluid companion, and the plots of men and monsters seem determined to keep Lyuc from laying down his burden, only Yan’s inimitable spirit tempts him to hang on for another lifetime or so. 

All Yan wants is to earn the sponsorship of a guild so he can rise above his station, claim a place in society, and build the family he never had. 

After hundreds of years of self-imposed penance, all Lyuc wants is Yan. 

If they can survive prejudice, bandits, mercenaries, monsters, and nature itself, they might both get their wish… and maybe even their happily ever after.

 

~

 

REVIEW

 

Book – The Wanderer
Series – Chronicles of the Riftlands, 1
Author – Rowan McAllister
Star rating - ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 200
Cover – Historical, Adorable!
POV – 3rd person, dual POV
Would I read it again – Yes!
Genre – LGBT, Historical, Fantasy, Magic, May/Dec
Content Warning – references and alludes to rape (nothing graphic), off-page beatings, slavery


** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine


I've been a fan of Rowan McAllister's work ever since I read their Historical Greatest Hits. I've loved everything they ever wrote, since then, and this is no exception. The Wanderer is a great fusion of historical and fantasy, combining romance, magic, and action into a novel that will steal your heart.

~

CHARACTERS

When it comes to characters, the story is centered on the two MC's Lyuc and Yan, as well as Lyuc's horse (bear with me) Bryn.

Bryn is actually a genderfluid other being. Bryn is created from the Rift, a Spawn from another dimension, but far tamer and more human-friendly than any of the others who slip through the Rift and must be hunted by Lyuc and sent back to their own plane. Bryn mostly presents as a horse, but has shapeshifting abilities, and appears as both a male and a female human at times, but is mostly referred to as 'he' when in his horse form.

Lyuc is an ancient wizard, once thought a God, who made a mistake centuries ago and is enduring self-induced penance to try to make up for that. As the creator of the Rift, he hunts the Spawn creatures who come through – often against their will and without any knowledge of the human world or how to survive in it – and sends them safely home. But, he's also a wanderer, travelling as an old man, who does little magic for fear of being caught by the humans who believe him dead. Both the King's witches, the Scholomagie in Samebar, and a secret organisation called the Brotherhood of Harot in Rassa, would cause a war in an attempt to gain the knowledge only Lyuc possesses.

Yan is an Unnamed, or Nameless. He is a child whose parents died or abandoned him and he was never given the mark of a Named – a tattoo on his wrist, to mark him as someone with a family, and the grace of a last name. For this, he's treated like a servant, the lowest caste in existence, and has no ability to refuse a Named anything. Even when that means being beaten, whipped, accused of theft, or forced to perform sexual acts. Yet, Yan's spirit isn't crushed. He's managed to retain a piece of himself, his personality, his anger at the unfairness of his position in the world, even when it gets him into trouble.

~

PLOT

When it comes to the storyline, there is one recurrent theme and that's about Lyuc's past. He's in the human world to make amends for messing it up in the first place, hunting the Spawn and trying to keep the Rift from doing any more harm. He's hopeful – and it's mentioned as discussed frequently throughout – that the Rift is close to closing.

The secondary plot – though it takes more pages than the primary – is that of the romance between Lyuc and Yan. The reason it takes nearly 80% of the plot to explore is because there's a delicate political undercurrent to their communications. With Yan an Unnamed and Lyuc a Named, they have to make sure that any and all public meetings are considered appropriate. At the same time, Lyuc begins the book hopeful that his penance is almost over, that he'll be able to close the Rift and die soon, his job completed. He has no interest in starting something with Yan, no matter how many times the young Unnamed offers.

Part of what I loved so much about the plot was that Yan was the instigator in all things romantic. It started out slowly, with small acts of kindness from Lyuc and appreciation from Yan, then grew into a natural attraction. I worried, at first, that Yan only offered because he thought it was expected of him and because he wanted to repay Lyuc, which made Lyuc's reluctance more than natural and a relief. There was no insta-love, though it was clear they were both attracted to each other, but both had reasons to resist that attraction. The fact that Bryn had to shove them together, more often than not, was a really nice addition to the plotting. It forced Yan and Lyuc into situations where the chemistry was palpable and unavoidable, even if they did keep resisting it. It was a nice change from the urgency in most other stories to get the couple together as soon as possible.

There was no rush. I liked that about the plot. It dealt with small, but important, instances for the first half of the novel, then became more action packed and progressed towards the expected acts in the second half. It meant that the first half allowed us to learn about the characters, to explore who they were and what their goals were – Yan to get a better life, and Lyuc to close the Rift – and to appreciate the slow build of their chemistry and how Bryn fitted into that dynamic. The second half built on that information, adding a layer of complexity that forced Lyuc and Yan to leave the caravan they were travelling with and face the dangers of travelling alone and facing the Spawn.

While the plot is dual POV, Yan doesn't get his POV until Chapter 4. This is due to the fact that he's only introduced through Lyuc's POV and, at first, only in the role of someone that is preyed upon and little more than a servant. It's only when he gets his own POV that we get to see the strength inside of Yan and how he's much more than what society has made him.

The servant/master roles were used in a lovely plot point that brought them together but roles which neither of them were really prepared or willing to play. It was nice to see Lyuc's rejection of the very idea of Named and Unnamed, after all his centuries in the world and all that he'd seen, while trying to help Yan see that not conforming to the Unnamed demands on his personality and behaviour was no bad thing at heart, but that it could get him into trouble in the wider world. Seeing how Lyuc and Yan became better people when with each other was beautiful.

~

OVERALL

I loved the story and the characters, how it all came together and felt like a complete novel as well as the beginning to a series. The characters stole my heart right from the beginning – Lyuc with his weary-of-the-world mentality and Yan because of his feisty nature – and I never really got over it. Through all the action and the Rift plot, I was so engrossed in their relationship that I didn't mind the HFN ending. Though the Rift plot line isn't finished, it was pretty well rounded off for what Lyuc and Yan had experienced so far that it made sense not to rush it. It will continue in the next book and I can't wait to read that.

The inclusion of a Glossary was very helpful, right at the end, for clarifying things, and the fact that it was marked in the Table of Contents meant that I could bookmark it before I started and refer to whenever I wanted to. But, the story was so well explored and the world building well written that I never really needed to use it. Everything was easy to understand as and when it came along within the story.

Were there any down sides? Well, after the Acknowledgments there was a page that said “Map” but there was no actual map. Other than that, I had zero issues with the editing or plot gaps. Exactly the kind of dedication to attention to detail and world building that I've come to expect from McAllister.

~

Favourite Quotes

“Astria of the Southern Lights, thank you for bringing me Lyuc. I promise to do everything in my power to show my gratitude and treasure the gifts you have given me, and to bring offerings every day to your temple in Zehir.”

“He'd done that. He'd made this thousand-year-old gorgeous wizard of immense power care enough to be upset by losing him. He would carry that knowledge with him forever. He could take it out and marvel at it in bad times and good.”

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/39711918-the-wanderer
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quote 2018-06-15 11:00
It had been a shitty night, so it was fitting that it should end with rain.
He closed his eyes and lay where he was, ready for it to stop. The rain, the cold, the pain, the aches, the blood choking the back of his throat, the metallic taste on his tongue. He wanted an off switch to his life; to get it over with. There wasn't much point fighting; he didn't have anything to fight for. He had his family and Levi, but something in his heart said that wasn't enough anymore.
He didn't want to be alone.

Right Kind of Wrong

book 3 in the Decadent Series

by Elaine White

 

Source: smarturl.it/Decadent.Series1-4
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