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review 2019-09-21 23:53
Magic's Pawn, Valdemar #6 by Mercedes Lackey
Magic's Pawn - Mercedes Lackey


Spellbound Square: Vanyel eventually manifests the mage and herald abilities in this early Valdemar novel.


Vanyel spends his days dreading practice with his father's brutal arms-master, weathering the scorn of his father towards his 'soft' son, practicing music, and fending off the advances of his mother's ladies. Vanyel doesn't enjoy bedding those worthy women like his younger brother. As his father's heir Vanyel has responsibilities that make it impossible for him to follow his dream of becoming a Bard.


He is ultimately sent to the capitol to be under the eye of his stern aunt who is one of many Herald-Mage's in the Kingdom of Valdemar. Vanyel faces the usual pressures of being a gifted young person, but also must keep truths about himself secret from those at Court and those who would harm him. The book ramps up as Vanyel faces many personal challenges.


Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books were the queerest things going in fantasy for a long time, and I owe a lot to that. Her books were not only queer friendly, they had empowered women, talking horses, and more pink and violet covers then you can shake a stick at. There are some mixed messages in these novels, to be sure, but reading these as a scared closeted kid in high school must have offered some comfort.


I say must have, because, honestly, I'd forgotten just how big a part Vanyel's sexuality played in these books. My ultimate disappointment in how the love story played out was likely a factor in my willful amnesia. Three recent reviews (Linda, Carolyn, Wanda) mention the sudden melodrama, the off-screen action, the lazy short-hand in developing all the romantic relationships here as really downgrading the reading experience. That is why the book gets an 'OK' review from me today, but at the time of publication and for a long time after there was nothing else in genre-fiction that talked about prejudice and coming-out so directly. Like it or not, many readers needed to experience the course in Queer Empathy 101 Lackey offers here.  I read these around 2001-2, and it was still revolutionary. The fact the book is from '89 makes it that much more extraordinary.


With so many other options out there in fantasy, I will probably not revisit these books again, but they were there for me when I needed them.


The Last Herald-Mage


Next: 'Magic's Promise'


Previous: 'Oathbreakers'

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review 2019-09-21 23:00
Stone Cold Horror
Terror on the Tundra - J. Esker Miller


Wolf dogs bigger than a Kodiak bear have stumbled into a tiny northern Alaskan village.

They are almost invisible in the snow and they are hungry.

The back story of the wolf is interesting, though I don't know how plausible it is.


And what the hell happened to self centered asshole Grimes?  Maybe he got eaten.



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review 2019-09-21 18:12
Subb ★★☆☆☆
Subb - Carroll Mather Capps,C.C. MacApp

Between the cover art and the synopsis promising a vintage 1960’s sci-fi suspense/thriller featuring brain transplants, aliens, and portals to other worlds, I was prepared to be delighted. This could have been so much fun, but this has to have been just about the most humorless book I’ve read in a while, and considering I’ve been reading mystery and horror for the last 3 weeks, that’s really saying something. It introduced a corporate espionage/interstellar political intrigue plot, threw in mysterious aliens of unknown intent, and added in a little familial drama, then spent far too many pages explaining interstellar navigation and weapons, before leaving the reader with a half-assed resolution to the alien mystery and all the other plot threads dangling.


Tattered paperback, purchased as part of a $3 mystery bundle at Half-Price Books.



I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square Aliens: Any mystery, horror, suspense or supernatural book that includes aliens, either here on earth, or in space. This square isn’t on my bingo card, so I’m reserving this one in case I need a Transfiguration Spell later.


Prior Updates:

Sep20 0/187pg

Sep21 139/187pg

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review 2019-09-21 15:14
Book Didn't Address Some Key Plot Points
Love, Heather - Laurie Petrou

Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.


Trigger warnings: Transphobia and sexual assault.

So this book I thought was a very good look at how bullying can lead to actions that none of us would like to see happening in high schools today. The main character Stevie is being raised by her mother in a small town in Canada. Her father has left some time ago (the timeline issue I had will be discussed further below) and barely stays in contact with her. So Stevie has thrown herself into the family life of her best friend Lottie. I thought though that some key aspects of the book that were shown Petrou ignores later on. I wish that it had been brought up later on, but it seems like there was a rush to get to the ending. Petrou does a great job of showing the terrors of high school, how those who "don't fit in" can be bullied, and how many adults just either ignore it or think that it's something that kids need to get through. 


"Love, Heather" follows 14 year old Stevie. Stevie feels a bit unmoored due to her best friend Lottie now being pulled into the cool crowd at school. Stevie at first is grudingly accepted along, but due to a faux pas and her need to be part of everything, she starts to turn off one of the Queen Bees and then Lottie. Soon she is being bullied and harassed via social media and has no one to turn to except for a girl named Dee who seems just as sick of the Queen Bees of Woepine High School as Stevie does. Taking inspiration from the movie "Heathers" the two girls soon start to get back a those who have overlooked them, harassed them, and bullied them by leaving their calling card, "Love, Heather". 


Stevie pulls at your heart strings. She just wants to fit in. A girl who loves movies, who misses her father, and wishes that her mother was there for her more, you can see why she envies Lottie's family and pushes her way in there, even when she is not wanted at times. When Lottie's family goes through a big upheaval, Stevie still pushes her way in and doesn't read the nonverbal and even verbal cues from Lottie to just let things be for a bit. That said, at times I wanted to take Stevie aside and tell her to relax, to not try so hard. Throughout the book you can feel her anxiety at being left out of things, at Lottie getting new friends, and even a guy she may like. She wants to keep them looped into one another and she doesn't understand why Lottie is trying to pull away from her. And then of course that loops back to Stevie's father who in essence abandoned her, and her mother who is focused on finding love again. 


The other characters in the book needed some development I thought. Maybe if Petrou had shown Lottie and Stevie prior to this time period it would have worked. But since we just get Stevie's POV, we get the sense that Lottie was pulling away from Stevie long before now. I wish we had gotten Lottie's POV at times since I can see why she gets frustrated with Stevie. It's hard to be responsible for someone else's happiness. 

We get Lottie's mother who is going through something big that Stevie feels close to.There is a whole plot dealing with this so I won't spoil, but it makes things more complicated for both girls.

The other girls in this story, Dee, Paige, and Breanne are all different, but yes, you can see that Breanne is the typical Queen Bee who slaps down at anyone that she perceives as weak. Paige at first seems a little nicer, but just seems eager to go after anyone in order to keep Breanne out of her face. Dee reminds me of JD from Heathers. Looking to cause chaos in anyway that she can. I can see why though Paige pulls away from Stevie, Breanne is just a nasty piece of work though. 


I thought the writing was good, Petrou obviously thinks that her readers will be familiar with the movie Heathers and get the references to that in her book. I do think though that the "twist" should have been discussed or analyzed. It seems to have been largely ignored after readers get the reveal about it and I honestly then went back to certain scenes. The flow was up and down and I do think that is because sometimes things are discussed and I would get confused about the time period. For example, there is reference to Stevie's father leaving and her mother having to be a single mother. Then it's inferred he must have left years ago which made no sense based on what was said. It was little stuff like that which threw me. Petrou does showcase the months that are passing in the story though so you can see how long it has been between incidents. 


Though the book takes place in Canada, it of course has similarities to schools in the United States. We have Stevie going through the motions of the day and dealing with the never ending onslaught of bullying and you can see the toll that takes on her. Lottie's mother


I thought the ending wrapped things up too neatly. Though I don't know Canadian law, I would still wonder at the lack of consequences for things that go down in the book. I can't complain though since I think the American justice system at times has too harsh of a sentence instead of trying to address a problem. 


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review 2019-09-21 14:54
Two lovers got in battle
The Ask and the Answer - Patrick Ness

The second book of the Chaos Walking series. 


From the last one, they got to warned the new town. And then got separated. Both of them used by politicians and fight a war that they don't want to. 


One side is the Ask, and the other the Answer. One team is made up by men and the other one by women. 


It is an awesome read. A page turner and we worried if Todd is turning bad or Viola. Being dragged into an ugly war is not fun at all. 


So they were separated and forced into war. Lovingly imagination in demonstrating how manipulating politicians could be. A dose of reality that is hidden in fiction. 


Highly recommended read.


Reading this one for Relics and Curiosities square for Halloween Bingo. 


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