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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-01-18 20:57
A Whispered Wish is Not What Romance Readers Wish For

Genre: Fantasy

Word Count: 78,230 words

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Zoe hates camping. She loves air conditioning and staying indoors and cozy, but when her friends and boyfriend drag her out into the middle of the woods, she comes along. But things get even more complicated when she wakes up far away from her tent– as a pixie.

Can she become human again with the help of Prince Crispin, a handsome pixie? Or as feelings grow between them, will she even want to go back to her human life?

I decided to give A Whispered Wish a shot thanks to a ridiculous one-star review on Smashwords, written by someone who hadn’t read past the first two lines. But the novel was so cringeworthy, I almost sympathized with that asshole reviewer.

Just reading the novel was a toilsome task, thanks to the obvious typos and grammatical errors infecting the text, not to mention the random tense changes that yanked me out of the story every other page.

But even if I’d been able to be absorbed into the story, there wouldn’t have been anything to be absorbed into. Nothing freaking happens for two thirds of the book!

The beginning involves flimsy world-building and back story and preaching about how humans are horrible and they “can learn a thing or two from the pixies.” That line appears not once, but twice in a book meant to be read by adults, not five-year-olds.

This would be more tolerable if it was the pixies saying this to Zoe, who, as a human, defended herself and humankind. But instead, it was Zoe who instantly accepted that she and all other humans, including her friends and boyfriend, was hellspawn.

She accepts that humans are monsters about two minutes after realizing she turned into a pixie when she asks the other pixies if she can tell her human friends what’s happening.

 “is there a way that we can let them know? Please? I can’t let them keep looking for me. They will be so worried,” tears still flowing. Only now, she can’t stop them.

Fionna pops up beside them, “I’m sorry Zoë, but we just can’t. To let them know that we exist is very dangerous for us.”

“You have to understand,” Brigid said, “they will exterminate us just to find out what makes us what we are.” Zoë knows they are right about this, anything new or something they didn’t understand as humans they dissected or destroyed.

A Whispered Wish, page 30

Are her friends effing Nazis? I can’t think of another reason for why she would have so little faith in them. I’m not saying they should tell the press, but maybe Zoe’s best friends and her motherfreaking boyfriend won’t kill her just because she sprouted wings and shrank to two inches.

Conflict doesn’t flare up until two thirds into the book, and even then, the conflict is more like brief sparks instead of a raging fire. There are a few action scenes, but the action was over so fast, I had to reread them to actually process them happening.

The main conflict between two pixie kingdoms feels more like an afterthought than an actual plotline.

All of a sudden, the pixies stop being this shining beacon of superiority and start being savage and warlike. Prince Crispin and his friends, who have never seen battle before, become expert fighters the second war is declared. It’s contrived and borderline absurd, but that’s fine because the final battle is over in like two pages.

Perhaps A Whispered Wish could have snatched a third star from me with the skin of its teeth if the characters had good chemistry, funny dialogue, or even an ounce of personality, but no.

All the men are strong, athletic, and ready to save the females while making sexist jokes about how women take forever shopping. The women are all kind, girly, and able to manipulate the men with their puppy eyes.

The two most interesting characters are the Queen of Devonshire, and Jaxxon, a defect from Pembrokeshire, and they only have a couple of scenes. Everyone else absurdly boring. 

So,  A Whispered Wish is a solid two-star read. With some heavy editing and revising, it could have been good, but as is, it’s less interesting than the average hospital waiting room. A Whispered Wish is free on Smashwords.

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review 2019-01-18 20:09

Hadn't realized how long it's been since I posted here (very busy year, with multiple book launches for me and others, interviews, etc.). This week's blog post looks at Jennifer Robson's new novel, so new it's not yet in the BL database, The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding. Picture says it all, but do check out the post to see why I loved this book.

 

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review 2019-01-16 02:06
WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF THE INCREDIBLE JOSEPHINE BAKER
Josephine Baker's Last Dance - Sherry Jones

Josephine Baker is someone I had known about since my elementary school days in the mid-1970s, when I first saw her profile in a calendar celebrating what was then Black History Month. I was fascinated to learn that she had gone to Paris in 1925 and made herself into a superstar in France and across the world. 

"JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE" was given to me last month as a Christmas gift. The essence of the novel has as a centerpiece, what was Josephine Baker's last great stage performance in Paris in April 1975. The author uses it as a springboard to take the reader back to Josephine's early years in St. Louis, where she was born in poverty in 1906. I very much enjoyed seeing Josephine as she grew and matured. Hers was not an easy life. There is much in the novel that conveys the struggles and abuse that she endured. America was then an unwelcoming and at times, brutal and dispiriting place for its black citizens. Baker gets into vaudeville as a dancer in her mid-teens and eventually, the gateway to stardom opens and Josephine arrives in Paris with La Revue Nègre . 

The only part of the novel I found fault was its description of Josephine Baker's service in World War II as an intelligence agent and member of the French Resistance. The time sequences which covered the early war years seemed at times nebulous and compressed. If the reader had little or no knowledge of how the French defeat to Nazi Germany impacted the country in June 1940, he/she would be led to think that the resistance movement to the Germans developed overnight. That was not true at all. There was, initially disillusionment and fear when the Germans entered Paris - which had been declared an open city by the French government - on June 14, 1940 - and compelled the French to sign an armistice 8 days later. It would be several months to a year before an incipient resistance movement began to take shape in France as the Germans solidified their power and authority there. 

There was also a mention in the novel which indicated that Josephine Baker made the acquaintance of the courageous British spy Krystna Skarbek, a Pole (aka 'Christine Granville') during the early days of the German Occupation. That is simply untrue. (I read a book in 2015 about Krystyna Skabek's wartime service --- 'Christine: SOE Agent & Churchill's Favourite Spy'. Krystyna Shabek did not get to France until the summer of 1944. Earlier, she had been engaged in espionage work since late 1939 in German-occupied Poland, the Balkans, and Egypt.) That is why I am taking away 1 star and giving "JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE" 3 stars.  Outside of that glaring, historical inaccuracy, it is a very good novel which brought out the real Josephine Baker in so many interesting ways.

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review 2019-01-14 20:08
Cry Fox
Rivers of London Volume 5: Cry Fox - Ben Aaronovitch

It is no secret I'm a fan of the Rivers of London series and one of the things I like is the multiple ways in which the story is told, e.g. here the graphic novel. Like its predecessors it is good in keeping you entertained while waiting for the next novel in the series.

Cry Fox only contained four issues so it was a very fast read. It was a take on a very well known tale which was maybe not the most surprising or original but the nice cast of characters make up a lot. As one of the characters plays a role in the sixth book, The Hanging Tree, it is best read after it. At the end there is some more information about the Fox in several cultural and literary settings.

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review 2019-01-14 19:55
Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick - Laurent Queyssi

Philip K. Dick was a very well known science fiction writer, but I have not read anything by him besides Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (which became the movie Blade Runner). I was mostly interested in the comic biography form, but was also glad to learn more about Dick's complicated life.

This was not the most in depth analysis of the author or his work, but I think it worked quite well for those who just want to know a bit more about him. I certainly learned new things, one of the most shocking the shear amount of novels the man wrote in a very limited window. 5 in one year alone.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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