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review 2017-07-13 05:15
The Shadow Mark (Lords of Davenia, #2) by Mason Thomas
The Shadow Mark (Lords of Davenia Book 2) - Mason Thomas

Warning: 
NO sex. 
NO romantic relationship or indication thereof until the very end of the book.

Come to think of it, can't call it bromance either.

All of the above are perfect for me :p

***
Very good adventure/suspense. 
My only disappointment, I never felt much for Kane. The character was pretty flat and never came to shine. 


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-04-05 22:22
Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Mirror Dance - Lois McMaster Bujold

This is a novel that grows on you. When I first read it back in 2005, I reasonably liked it. Except for Cordelia's Honor it was the best part of the saga up till that point in the narrative, but I didn't love it. So I only reread parts of it, but never in its entirety - until now. And boy, this time I absolutely fell in love with it. It has a bit of a slow start (which costs it the half star-reduction), but once the shit hits the fan it's one tour de force of psychology and emotion that keeps you biting your finger nails.

 

After 2 years, Mark turns up and basically kidnaps the Dendarii posing as Miles for a raid of House Baraputhra's cloning facilities on Jackson's Whole (where he was created as well). Miles races after him and arrives just as the mission fails spectacularly. He ends up shot in the chest and put in a cryotube which then gets lost in the following chaotic retreat. Mark and Elena have the unenviable task of relaying the news to the Vorkosigan parents which means for Elena a return to a difficult past - and for Mark a step into an uncertain future. But the race to recover Miles (dead or alive) isn't over, and Mark won't stop until there's certainty of his clone-brother's fate.

 

This is Mark's story, who he was, who he is and who he ends up to be. The various roles he has to or chooses to play showcase this, from impersonation, to reluctant and unsure son, to brother and business man - dealing with doubt, guilt, and all the aftereffects that his upbringing with Galen (which is elaborated on here) left him with. Add to that the torture he's put through here, and you get a young man who's somehow toeing the line towards insanity, but nevertheless has never felt more sane and true to himself. It's a veritable tour de force to come to that point, and some chapters are incredibly difficult to read (the black gang's emergence) and make no mistake, Bujold doesn't pull any punches here. This might be the most explicit book in terms of violence and torture against one of her main characters in this saga so far (and overall), and even immoral acts perpetrated by a main character, but it's so rewarding nonethess. Honestly, up till now I've never liked Mark, but in a way Bujold managed to bring him to life in just one (albeit very long) book just as much as she did with Miles. And the Vorkosigan-universe is richer for it.

 

Miles himself takes the backseat here, but of course he gains a new perspective in life - having an brother, not just a clone, for once not being in the heart of things... and a glimpse of mortality. But his resurrection doesn't come without a price as we'll see. Among all the psychology and character-drama the plot surrounding the Duronas and the despicable machinations on Jackson's Whole get a bit sidelined. But I guess we'll revisit both. Overall, I love the image of reciprocity in this novel: every action has a reaction, just like in the Mirror Dance, a popular dance on Barrayar, and that's transferred to practically everything that's going on here.

 

Other than Mark himself, the parts that most fascinated me (and the ones that I kept coming back to) are set on Barrayar: the effects Miles' not-quite death has on the Vorkosigans, Mark's introduction into this family, Aral's health crisis which suddenly turns an academic question of succession into a very real one, Cordelia going toe to toe with Simon Illyan, even the small glimpses and huge nudges of Gregor and Kareen Koudelka who both accept Mark for who he is from the start - not just as Miles's clone, but as an individual.

 

Overall, a stunning novel.

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review 2017-01-22 22:09
Mélusine (Doctrine of Labyrinths #1) by Sarah Monette
Melusine - Sarah Monette

I am reviewing a DTB version.

Wow! That was the longest prologue I've ever read!
Now I can go back to page 1 and start enjoying the book.
Many reviews that mention re-reads make sense now.

*****

Few thoughts on the book, the writing, the characters, the shenanigans. No spoilers, just want to keep my outrage contained in the spoiler tags.

 

Tho I like it when authors dump you right in the middle of things and you have to start running the moment you hit the ground, this was not the case. I sure did do some legwork, but it was mostly bouncing up and down on the same spot, trying to get hold on my bearings. What? Who? Where? How? but most often than not WTF? were the questions popping into my head every other paragraph.

 

None of the places, politics, history and even characters, including one of the MCs, are explored enough for readers to fully comprehend the magnitude of events that the author is bestowing upon us until it's almost into the second half.

* Felix doesn't get to shine in the beginning of the book; hell, Felix doesn't get to be or do anything before all hell brakes loose. He doesn't get. to. be. Although SM keeps showering us with "Felix is This" and "Felix is That", all we see is a mad, wounded, bleeding dog instead of a shiny pretty thing, and its running, whimpering, to his abuser after being called "a whore". That one word and an unsubstantiated implication to go along does not justify Felix's violent overreaction. I am sure it's all perfect in MS's head, but she clearly prefers not to share any additional bits with us (and there are more to come).
Where is this person who thinks quick on his legs? SM's shiny version of Felix should handle it in no time flat, instead he is seeking out his uber abusive master he hasn't seen in years and loading on drugs like there is no tomorrow.

.........................................

Felix the magnificent, "whose deadly wit is the terror of the court” my ass. Whiny little pup!

* The book is packed with too many elaborate names that mean nothing, people who never show up and have no impact on the events, places we never go to.

Not sure why French rev. calendar was used. To give an instant historical setting? Sorry, it didn't work. You can't use a calendar and a bunch of French sounding names to instantly set the stage, unless its real France and the time is set roughly during the very end of 18th/beginning of 19th centuries. Same goes for Troia/Greece. These tricks confuse, not clarify events or describe places or historical periods in fantasy fiction.

I jam fond of French history and literature, but even then it took me a few minutes to zoom in on Pluviôse, I simply did not expect it. It was one of my first in the long line of WTF moments. I am sure many of us remember the calendar, but then there are many who do not.

(spoiler show)



To SM:
*Please, translate for the overwhelming majority of your non-russian speaking audience, what the hell Morskaiakrov means. Would it kill you to make a footnote: *Morskayakrov (russian) - Sea Blood. In current setting it implies that the family who operates the boat has sea in their blood. They were born into the trade and sea is their home and their life.
Please, quit making people feel inadequate and leaving them tongue-twisted and cross-eyed.


* Too many side stories. For what purpose? Ah.... of course. Page count. But they slow down the flow of the main story and leave loose ends all over the place.
What was the deal with the hidden attic at St. Crellifer's? Great escape route. Great way in. But was it utilized? I really hope it will come handy later, because as of right now it's an opportunity and reader's time wasted.

*POV switching. Two paragraphs here. Half a page there. Past Tense, Present Tense... I am looking forward (not!) to colons in The Virtu, that's on top of Italics and Mildmay's bad and inconstant speech antics.

*Would it greatly burden you to have a glossary of terms and names in the beginning of the book? If anything it will expand your page count.

*Please, mention your septads in the glossary of your quirks. Two septads and six is an amusing take on 20 questions, but - really? Really? Invent your own question game and leave decimals out.

OK, shutting up now. There is more in my updates if anyone cares.

(spoiler show)



This book made me angry. Felix, too, at the very end, with his lack of gratitude and common sense made me angry. BUT. The story held my interest. I am starting The Virtue today. That counts for something, I guess.

3 stars.

PS Shannon. I feel bad for him. Felix is one ungrateful piece of ...work.

 

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review 2017-01-11 22:10
Priddy’s Tale by Harper Fox
Priddy's Tale - Harper Fox

I am totally in love with this book! Something about the lighthouses and the seaside and the merfolk appeals to me immensely.

My only complaint is that I couldn't get quite close to Merou, read more about his side of the story; there is still plenty of info to piece it together, just ...lacking somehow.

As for mansel in distress, oh well. There are boys in trouble out there, and I am sure lots of them can use some help. Being a man doesn't mean you must plow through life with a stoic face, unfazed by troubles. This particular setting in this particular book didn't bother me at all. 5 stars.

 

PS Delicious story, I might re-read it one day :)

 

Merou

 

Goodreads | LGBT Fantasy Fiction - Group Images: Fantasy Images (Male) NSFW (showing 1,351-1,400 of 1,436):

 

Priddy

 

Merman:

 

or maybe this is Priddy :)

Zac? Zac Effron?? Is that you!?:

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-12-08 22:18
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Divergent (Divergent Series) - Veronica Roth

In a dystopian Chicago, cut off from the rest of the country, the people are divided into 5 factions depending on their most prominent trait, which is found out through a process of simulations when they're 16. But Tris's simulation is inconclusive, she's what's called divergent and urged to keep that her secret because, as she finds out later, divergents are being hunted and killed. Tris decides to leave her home faction, Abnegation (selflessness is their motto, governing their part in society), for the Dauntless (the brave ones who function as society's security forces within and without), and is soon immersed in a brutal battle for initiation because whoever fails ends up being factionless, without purpose, without means depending wholly on the goodwill of others, i.e. Abnegation. But it turns out initiation isn't the only thing Tris has to worry about. There is her romance with her instructor Four, and there's trouble on the horizon for the whole society as the Erudite (who seek knowledge, but apparently also ambition and power) start to question Abnegation's role. But mere words don't seem enough in that battle, and maybe being a divergent is more important than Tris thought.

 

Well, another trilogy about a dystopian future, another society on the brink of extinction thinking of ways to divide and control its people, another first-person account of a 16-year old girl who finds herself inadvertently being different, being a leader, and being the hope of her people. Sounds familiar?

 

Still, the story in itself is interesting enough with the initiation ritual, the whole mindset of the 5 factions (just think about the whole population being divided in just 5 groups... is there nothing more than friendship, candor, knowledge, selflessness and bravery in the world?) and the way it's determined in which section you belong - because apparently, a youth chooses his or her faction, and can choose any faction even if the simulation points to another. So what's the point of the simulation before the choosing-ceremony? And what exactly is brave about attacking your opponents in their sleep or trying to kill them? The factions are meant to reduce crime, but apparently that only goes for inter-factional crime, because what happens within a faction stays within, and the rules for getting rid of opponents seem pretty flexible. That's one point that wasn't really fleshed out all that well.

 

As is the case with Four: He's Tris's instructor, and becomes her protector, so that she falls in love with him isn't that much of a leap. But what exactly makes him fall for her? He says it's because she's brave... well, but that's the character trait of all dauntless, isn't it?

 

Overall, the characters, except for maybe Tris herself, remain rather bland and 2-dimensional, so I'm not too invested in them. The novel itself is well written, the plot reasonably interesting (even though it could have used some tightening up in the middle), but I'm not sure if that's enough for me to pick up the other parts soon. I just have the feeling I've read it all already; there simply is a distinct lack of originality beyond the dystopian vision and of characterization which keeps me from yearning for more.

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