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review 2017-07-05 23:04
Five for one
Las Armas Secretas - Julio Cortázar

I understand now why this one is classified as European lit all the time. I haven't researched it, but I'm pretty sure this one was written after Cortázar left Argentina, because the five stories in this volume are all set in Paris.

I was not that dazzled by this too much at first but then, my bar with Cortázar is "Bestiario", and that's a hard one to upstage in the wow (weird, awesome, uncomfortable, puzzling) factor.

Cartas de Mamá, leaving aside the historical parallelism that some scholar or other wants to saddle on it, was an excellent exercise on revealing the past through the present. Many authors could learn a thing or two about how to do back-story. Of course, back-story is the whole issue here: sins and regrets that turn into silences, and that end that is half fantasy, half delayed acknowledgement. And the great opening line:

 

"Muy bien hubiera podido llamarse libertad condicional."

 

Los Buenos Servicios was a very scathing look at how moneyed people use "the help", many times frivolously, and often callously, and how hollow the "throw money at it" approach is, which is more jarring  (and ridiculous) from the poised view of Francinet. She had more class than any of the cast.

Las Babas del Diablo is a POV nightmare. As it tends to happen when I read magical-realism, I enter a weird state where I'm paying close attention, but at the same time relax my mind and just go with it. Like suspension of disbelief, but I just suspend logic and sometimes even grammar. I find it pays off with many complex or weird plots, or speculative fiction too. Triggers galore in this one, and one VERY uncomfortable suspicion.

"El Perseguidor", now here is the jewel of the book, and the point where I started to love this collection. It was absolutely engrossing. I understand why it has been known to be edited as "El Perseguidor y otras historias". This one got to me, emotionally-wise, and I'm not even quite sure why. I guess it's that desperate search.

"Las Armas Secretas" you know how it's going to go almost from go. Or maybe it's that I've read enough Cortázar to understand the clues he leaves. Or, maybe more, this sense of having read one of his before, about a big house in San Isidro, that has similar elements, but I can't remember to which collection it belonged to contrast.

You know, the more I write, the higher I want to star this. I realize it made my brain jog, and my thoughts come back to it whenever I wasn't reading.

Not his best, but for "El Perseguidor" alone, so worth owning it. I predict re-reads.

 

And there it goes my 4th of July extra. I devoured it, lol

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review 2017-04-07 14:22
Batman and Scarecrow
Green Lanterns (2016-) #17 - Sam Humphries,Blond,James Harren,Julio Ferreira,Eduardo Pansica

This is the second part in a crossover, which originally made me nervous.   DC has been pretty bad at making it easy to read the second part of something, even second issues, without having read the first.   When I got scolded and told 'how dare the authors and artists want you to read everything,' I pointed out I might want to dip my toes into something and have missed the first issue, or I might have gotten it in a grab bag and am trying it to see if I want to read more.   Leaving me confused made me want to drop the title completely, to be honest. 

 

I got this in a mystery swap box, because Batman.   Which is awesome: I'm loving more characters in DC, but Batman, yeah, he's up there in my top ten.   So I really wanted to be not confused, and I really wanted to love this - and it turns out I wasn't and didn't.   Because there are legitimate reasons to start a series with issue 17, and I happened to have one: I'd gotten it as a gift, I was eager to read it, and I send 'I'm gonna.'   And I'm glad I did: it turns out that DC is doing a better job of taking new readers into the fold, even those new readers who start mid-series!   So, there's that to love about Rebirth, too.   They don't have a 'previously on' page like Marvel does, but they folded just enough into the story to make me feel like I knew what was going on which also works.   (I'm sure I didn't get the full story but just you watch me track down the first part of this crossover!  Oh, there you are Green Lanterns #16.  I see you.  I should be downloading and reading you soon!)

 

Rebirth has been lauded for going back to what makes DC work, and has apparently outsold Marvel titles.   (There's chatter about this, and about the 'oh, diversity is hurting us' from one of the Marvel VPs.   One of the interesting things that I've been following when I have the urge is the discussion of why DC is outselling Marvel by the fans, and how they're going back to basic storytelling instead of swamping us with crossovers and titles that force you to read other titles, and higher prices, and the code thing that they're adding instead of dropping then adding.   There's actually a lot of really insightful discussion between fans about what DC is doing right and what Marvel is doing wrong; if DC and Marvel are smart, they'll listen to what the fans are telling them, too, not just when it's all good.)   One of the things that was said, that is of particular interest to me when it comes to this issue, is that DC was locking down some of the top writers.   They signed an exclusive contract with Tom King to write Batman - look, directly relevant to this issue since Batman guest stars! - and I notice Sam Humphries is writing this series.   (He wrote Star-Lord, Guardians Team-Up, and Kitty and Star-Lord amongst other titles for Marvel.)   It does seem as if DC is poaching writers, and I see nothing wrong with this if they're offering more attractive terms - like more money and freedom in what they write - to those writers.   (And artists, of course.   But since many of the complaints focus on writers and not artists, I'll stick with that for the moment.)  DC has taken notice of what the fans want, and the writers of quality entertainment, and have merged them.   I love the issues Marvel is putting out, but I used to love them more than DC; now I love them equally, although the fact that so many writers jumped from Marvel to DC might be part of the reason why.   (And might indicate something wrong with Marvel - like them not paying the writers well enough or even treating them badly, or a power struggle within, that we don't know about.  Or maybe nothing's wrong with Marvel and it's simply that DC is offering more attractive terms.   I figure with Jim Lee at the helm, or I believe co-helm, that there's a good chance he's bucking down, focusing on good storytelling and knows that part of that means paying for the top-line writers.)   

 

Which means this long-ass review hasn't been about this particular story so far.   It did, however, stir up feels about a lot of things happening in comic-land right now.   So, this story had not only Green Lanterns and Batman, but Scarecrow as well.   It was mostly somber: the fact that they needed to find a threat that had even infiltrated Batman's sanctuary to target Alfred meant that he was even more serious-face than usual.  And he's got some serious serious-face.   Simon is dealing with a crises of faith, unwilling to fully trust either the ring or himself.   Jessica is a little bit overshadowed as they deal with these issues but she proves herself a reliable fighter despite what little time she gets to shine here.   (And I can't say this is misogyny; this is one issue where Simon had shit to deal with, and Batman was along to help save people.   I'm sure Jessica has issues where she's at the forefront, too, and until I know otherwise, I'm loathe to say that they're pushing her aside for Simon.   It's a two person series, revolving around her and him, and some issues are bound to be more about one or the other.)

 

The Scarecrow using the powers of the Sinestro Corps is, by the way, one of the freakiest things I've ever heard of, and I'm hoping this comes back again at some point.   For now, though, it looks like this series is headed onto another storyline.   (Which I think might be a good idea; something too long with Batman might make him seem to overtake the series, especially given how he treats Simon at first.   The last thing he says to Simon is more encouraging, but I can easily see him browbeating these two.  Not only that, it's all his system in this: how he tracks down the villain, how he saves Alfred, so it'll be nice to see the Lanterns work on their own without taking his lead!)

 

All in all, though, an exciting issue that makes me want to read more of this series.   Thank you to Sorry kids, no feet. for the comic in my package.   I hadn't considered reading this series until I got this, so now I have a new thing to read :D

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text 2017-03-13 02:43
Prosperity (A Prosperity Novel) - Alexis Hall

DNF at 50% - no rating

It can't hold my interest right now. I think it's a mood thing so I'll give it another try some time later.

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review 2016-10-07 00:00
Julio's Wolf
Julio's Wolf - A.C. Katt Julio's Wolf - A.C. Katt This is the full review. For the partial review (shorter for practicality), please see Divine Promotions - https://divine-promotions.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/julios-wolf-by-ac-katt-blog-tour.html

~

Book – Julio's Wolf (Werewolves of Manhattan #6)
Author – A.C. Katt
Star rating - ★★★☆☆
No. of Pages – 191

Cover – Nice.
POV – 3rd person, multi-POV
Would I read it again – No.

Genre – LGBT, Paranormal, Werewolf, Hooker


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


DISCLAIMER: This is the first book in this series that I've read.


This book had some good potential, but it fell seriously short. I can see where it was going, somewhere along the lines of Kelly Clemmons Druid's Lodge and Liv Olteano's Leader Murders series. However, it was full of issues that I just couldn't look past. My three rating is for the potential, but if I was judging based on a one off experience, I'd lower that to 2 stars.

This is the first time I've read A.C. Katt and I can't say I'm inspired to read more. To be honest, it's a personal clash, which is part of why I gave it 3 stars. Her writing style just isn't something that works for me.

~

Standalone?

In my experience, books with a series title on the cover but no order number, are generally books within the same universe but that should be able to be read in any order as standalones.

I was told that this story could be read as a standalone. But, that wasn't true. I was lost from page one. A whole page mentioned events that I had no clue about, mentioned people I'd never read/heard about and indicated that the MC Julio has had a huge part in someone else's story. Even the end read as though this was one of those series where you have to follow each book onto the next. There is no way this could be read out of sequence and be understood.

Perhaps because of this, I was unable to connect with the characters or the story the way I should have.

For me, there was no chemistry between the MC's, which was disappointing. They never got to know each other or attempted to understand who they were, and I had trouble with Julio's dark past, which was often ignored and minimalised within the plot and the impact that it should have had on him. What I can say is that I did eventually grow to semi-like and become interested in Julio's story. I thought of DNF'ing it at one point around the 20% mark, but after 50% the story took off and began to form something more along the lines of the paranormal world I'd been expecting. That side was a little too thin, because it meant there were no physical wolves or transformation.

In the end, nearly the 70% mark, it began to feel more like Julio felt true affection for Etienne, beyond the whole Mate thing. His feelings for Etienne became more obvious, but it still felt so much like Etienne's only real affection for Julio stemmed from the Mate bond. The fact that we were told that they had been reincarnated countless times to fall in love with each other was more of a “tell” than a “show”. There was no recognition from either of them that these feelings existed between soul to soul.

The editing needed some work. There were numerous issues, from spelling/grammar, plot gaps and issues with continuity and consistency. There are a whole heck of a lot of info dumps. Unfortunately, just because they're in dialogue form doesn't negate the fact that they are in fact info dumps. This happened continuously throughout the novel – things that we didn't need to know were given paragraphs of explanation, things that were important were ignored or glossed over in little more than a sentence and there were several instances of “explanations” being given in paragraph form, with the amount of detail that makes your head spin.

There are multiple POV, which didn't work, because they didn't really make sense. I understand the importance of having the dual POV of Etienne and Julio – our MC's – but I don't understand the need for the two police officers in the Prologue, or in the many POV of various wolves throughout the story. Not even one of them reads as necessary, because they don't tell us anything that we aren't told in the dialogue anyway.

The writing itself is very choppy. Short, to the point sentences that tell you nothing in any sort of emotive, contemplative, detailed way, in amongst the long, drawn out sentences within the info dumps. It felt so much like the beginning of the story wasn't important, because the author wanted to get straight into the “I have a mate” part.

The constant location/time marks at the beginning of each scene and POV are unnecessary and annoying. They often made following the story confusing. One minute I was beginning to get immersed in the story, then I read the location/time of the next scene and wondered if it was still Friday or if the scene before was another day. Yet, the most likely case was that it was the exact same day, the exact same place and merely a different POV in the same room!

There were a lot of issues within the plot, things that made it impossible to understand the story, the characters and the direction the overall series arc was taking. This was mostly because it was impossible to understand what the “world” of these Werewolves of Manhattan were really like, without having experienced the first five books.

The medical aspects were limited and misinformed in places (as I feel I can say, having spent the majority of my life in hospital). Although, I know how the author did their research, since I had hyperlinks to WebMD within my book. A lot of the misinformation or wrong information came from the fact that, as Alpha's, they got special treatment, but it was still frustrating, since it wasn't necessary in the first place.

When it comes to Julio, I found him as our only source of information. Some of that, however, was in the wrong place or already spoiled. The “big secret” that Julio kept for 49% of the story was given away in the blurb. Just...out there, already. It made the final big reveal really disappointing. No one EVER asked for Julio's opinion, compliance or agreement. Ever. Not when planning a wedding, not about where he was going to college, not on where he lived.

For me, Etienne was the epitome of every horrible thing that an Alpha male has ever been. Julio was the only one with a backbone, but he was so persistently made out to be a child and had his serious concerns and feelings marginalised that it was unbearable to see him falling for this ridiculous wolf relationship. There was no affection, no growth, no love and no chemistry; only a Mate bond that superseded all of that.

The MC's never got to know each other or attempted to understand who they were, and I had trouble with Julio's dark past, which was often ignored and minimalised within the plot and the impact that it should have had on him.

The wolf world didn't make sense. If wolves don't have kids naturally, because the majority of them are gay, then that Alpha Bitch – and isn't that just lovely? – is logically the only one who has kids. Sure, let's go with that for now. But if that's true and all she has are girls, then where do all the men come from? How do so many gay male wolves exist? After 36% of everyone being human, we get one sentence of transformation. It just happened in a shimmer and Etienne was a wolf for two seconds! The only other wolf action was a head transformation for less than a page.

I took real issue with the constant way that the Mates were degraded throughout the story. Examples: Donal was called hysterical for sobbing, after Julio was seriously injured. Yet, Etienne was the one being hysterical and no one batted an eyelash about it. He even predicted, in some magical coincidental way, exactly what Julio's real injury was. He cried at least once in every chapter, yet Donal was the one called hysterical. Julio had some misplaced guilt that weighed heavily on him and suddenly it meant he needed a psychologist? Just like crying after being stabbed meant he somehow needed anti-depressants?

~

There were events and dialogue that didn't make sense. I'm going to do this in bullet point form, just to keep it simple and straight to the point -

Lots of fancy terms: High Beta, “loup garou proscription on sex” etc: that weren't explained until about 50% into the story. So I spent half of the book having no clue what the continuous mentions of these words meant. It took 36% to find out what “loup garou” meant, after having the word being used at least 100 times before that. (Or, at least, it felt like it)
“Once I found out he was Irish, I figured he was for you because he saved Donal and you saved me,” ← This made no sense, until at least 85%, when we were informed that all Mates are Irish with green eyes. Before that, it was only ever hinted at. Oh, and there was NO mention of any of the characters actually BEING Irish, except by comments like these. No accent, no history, no heritage.
There are so many Alpha's that it was hard to keep track of who was who. I had to ask myself if every single wolf was an Alpha in this world, because there was nothing explained about the universe until Julio asked questions at 50% and even then I didn't find out the true nature of the Alpha's until about 70%.
Nearly Every. Single. Page had food! Julio had just about an entire page worth of food description in each chapter. Paragraph upon paragraph were wasted on detailed lists of food and drink ingredients that were completely unnecessary. Those massive word counts could have been put to better use on character development.
Characters being introduced like this → “Gabriel's Marceau and Marc's Anton.” It irritated me that characters were possessions or dismissed.

Things that bugged me the most :
Doctors would never recommend a hand sanitizer over washing hands.
Billy Joel's song is called “Just the Way You Are”. Not “I Love You Just the Way You Are”. It took two seconds to confirm on Google, even though I already knew that.
The “big secret” that Julio kept for 49% of the story was given away in the blurb. Just...out there, already. It made the final big reveal really disappointing.
No one EVER asked for Julio's opinion, compliance or agreement. Ever. Not when planning a wedding, not about where he was going to college, not on where he lived.
After 36% of everyone being human, we get one sentence of transformation. It just happened in a shimmer and Etienne was a wolf for two seconds! The only other wolf action was a head transformation for less than a page.
It felt so much like every character – even those supposed to be in their 100's – was nothing more than a hormonal, horny, emotional wreck of a teenager.
Even the rent boys were judgy about rent boys. There wasn't one positive mention of having been a prostitute, outside of Julio saying that he chose that life (though it was continually pointed out that he only “chose” it because being used for his body was all he knew) even going so far as to judge them with the label “sperm receptacle”.
Every woman is basically a servant or a breeding machine.

One huge final complaint -
The Krav Maga stuff is something that I so desperately want to use stronger language for. I mean, seriously strong language and capital letters. The whole shebang. Because, here is how it is described in the book → “Julio put out his leg and tripped the wolf using his own weight against him.” Now, here was how it was described later → “Krav Maga, did you say? […] Knowing how to trip Xavier saved your life.” No. No. No. No. No. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. Do you hear that? No! This is not Krav Maga. It had NOTHING to do with Krav Maga. He...and hear me here...STUCK HIS LEG OUT! Like any other person on the planet might do, to trip someone up. It had nothing to do with his so called training in Krav Maga. And, just how proficient can a 14 year old be in Krav Maga anyway?

Another thing that annoys me just as much? The continual reference to “street language”. As though any swear word belongs only to hookers and not to a “respectable” person. I'm pretty sure you know the two words I want to respond to that with. They begin with F and Off.

~

Overall, I would have enjoyed the story more if it had been entirely focused on Julio and we were given more of an insight into his life, thoughts and feelings. He was the only relatable character, though I did feel a small affection for Donal, who was his best friend. I was disappointed that we didn't get to explore his character further or in more detail, as he was a real star.

I felt like the Mate/Wolf aspect was used to limit the need for a lot of details and explanation. Because the author perhaps thought it was unnecessary, due to it being book 6. Regardless, because I haven't read those previous 5 books, I was left completely in the dark about a lot of the important details.

The story could have been fantastic – the plot was good, could have gone in a really incredible direction and, with some real attention to the characters, it could have been a tear-jerker, a heart-tugger and a really emotional read that inspired me to care enough to read the next book and go back to read the previous five. Without that detail, there was nothing to make me connect to the characters or the story. For being a werewolf story, we see a wolf once, for two seconds. There is very little real exploration of the “wolf” aspect of the story and I needed more of that.

So although the potential was huge, the multitude of things that frustrated me and were lacking were even greater. I can see other people enjoying this, as I could have with a little more understanding and description provided for both characters and the world building, but I needed that extra connection. I needed detail, romance and chemistry. I didn't get that, in the end.
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review 2016-09-20 14:51
Grandmas and grandmas
closets - Julio-Alexi Genao

This was really short and a pleasant surprise. Not because I didn't expect this to be good, but because this is a love story, but not the one among two men.



It's about a grandma and a grandson.

My own grandma would be scandalized. Not because of the gay part, but because of the 'sex' part. She used to sew the cleavage of my mother's and aunt's bikinis because they were too 'revealing'. For her standars, I mean. My mother and aunt used to unpick them. And my grandma sewed them again. It was a war of wills.

I love it when my mother tells me things like this about her. She was so OTT. I laugh so hard.

My mom doesn't.

So no, I can't see her behaving the way Julio's grandma does.

When I was told my other grandma was close to become a nun I wasn't that surprised (I must say that I thank God she didn't do it in the end and married instead).

So yes, this grandma rocks.

This is Julio™.

*****

You can read it for free here.

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