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review 2018-11-19 20:00
SuperMutant Magic Academy / Jillian Tamaki
SuperMutant Magic Academy - Jillian Tamaki

The New York Times and New Yorker illustrator Jillian Tamaki is best known for co-creating the award-winning young adult graphic novels Skim and This One Summer—moody and atmospheric bestsellers. SuperMutant Magic Academy, which she has been serializing online for the past four years, paints a teenaged world filled with just as much ennui and uncertainty, but also with a sharp dose of humor and irreverence. Tamaki deftly plays superhero and high-school Hollywood tropes against what adolescence is really like: The SuperMutant Magic Academy is a prep school for mutants and witches, but their paranormal abilities take a backseat to everyday teen concerns.

 

My first thought on this is that I am wayyyy too old to truly appreciate this graphic novel! I liked the idea of a school for mutants and witches and I’m pretty sure that this would have totally been my jam when I was in junior high school. Because, let’s face it, we all feel like mutants when we’re in junior high.

It was definitely a creative way to illustrate all the problems that we have at that age: where do we fit in? What are our talents? What will be do after graduation? Or even today after school? Do our marks matter? Does that cute boy/girl know that we exist?

I can still relate to some of it—don’t we all still feel like mutants some days? But those days are fewer and farther between the older that I get. I know that I can support myself and run my life successfully on the majority of days. If I could talk to my teenage self that would be my message: you’re going to be okay. Loosen up and enjoy things more. Too bad that wisdom only comes to us once we’re short on the energy to appreciate it fully.

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review 2018-11-19 19:46
A Fatal Inversion / Barbara Vine
A Fatal Inversion - Barbara Vine

In the long, hot summer of 1976, a group of young people is camping in Wyvis Hall. Adam, Rufus, Shiva, Vivien and Zosie hardly ask why they are there or how they are to live; they scavenge, steal and sell the family heirlooms.

 

Ten years later, the bodies of a woman and child are discovered in the Hall's animal cemetery. Which woman? And whose child?

 

Probably not the best Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell book to get started with. For me, it didn’t flow as well as I could have hoped. Plus, although I certainly don’t require likeable characters to keep me engaged, I have to care about who did what and why. I found all of the characters in this novel to be unpleasant (to say the least) and I couldn’t care much about how they ended up.

It was odd—gathering the details gradually and making assumptions about who the woman and the child found in the pet cemetery could be and how they got there. I’ve read books where I’ve known the perpetrator from the beginning, but still was intrigued by the story, but this book didn’t grab me the same way. It wasn’t until the very last pages that I found myself engaged. That’s a long time to wait.

I was reading AFI largely on my work coffee breaks. It helped to have no alternative reading available, as I found myself reluctant to pick up the book and yet anxious to get finished and move on to something more rewarding. Truly, cognitive dissonance.

Perhaps I was just in the wrong mood for this mystery—I’m a bit off of mysteries right now, I think perhaps I’ve read a few too many of them in the last while. But it was one of the books that I chose for my 2018 reading list and so I forged ahead with it. Your mileage may vary.

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review 2018-11-19 16:56
If you like hockey and holidays than you need this one on your Christmas list...
Hockey Holidays - RJ Scott,Kat Mizera,Susan Scott Shelley,Melody Heck Gatto,Jennifer Lazaris,Jaymee Jacobs,Jean Joachim,Melanie Ting,Toni Aleo,Stephanie Kay,Lily Harlem,Kate Willoughby,Lisa B. Kamps,Jami Davenport,Stephanie Julian,Shannon Stacey

What can I say besides 'I am Canadian' so when a book about hockey and my favorite holiday came on my radar I could say nothing more than 'please and thank you'.

 

I'd love to say that I read the entire anthology but that was not the case at this time...will I go back and read some if not all of the rest...hopefully at some point I'll find the time to do so but for now lets start with the stories that I read. In all there were 3.  Most of the stories in this anthology are m/f, however, there were 3 that are m/m and two of them are written by a V.L. Locey and R.J. Scott the authors of 'The Harrisburg Railers' a series that I have absolutely loved and the third story is by Susan Scott Shelley author of the 'Buffalo Bedlam' series. So my rating for this anthology is based strictly on these three stories and I will also include a brief review and an individual rating for each of these stories...

 

4 stars for 'A Star-Crossed Christmas' by V.L. Locey

This one is 'A Cayuga Cougars Holiday' short story and while I haven't read that series I really enjoyed this short holiday story and even though I haven't read this series I had no problem following this story as the characters from this story don't seem to have been central to any of the previous Cougar stories. 

 

Mitch was the  back-up goalie for the Cougars after August Miles gets called up to the pros and when he returns home for the holidays he sees the opportunity to re-connect with his best friend Shaun. Someone he shared a kiss with two years early...a kiss that left Mitch in emotional turmoil as he realized that he wasn't as straight as he thought himself to be and maybe it's time he and Shaun found out if a kiss was just a kiss.

 

This one is the quintessential friends to lovers story and was simply delightful. A feel good story filled with the magic of the holiday season and a grandmother with a quilt fabric store...I want Shaun's grandmother to adopt me...I won't even try to be subtle about that one. There's not a complicated or convoluted plot here and for anyone wanting to just read a sweet, feel-good holiday story about two friends finding love together this one's a good choice...definitely recommended.

 

4 stars for 'Dallas Christmas' by RJ Scott

Logan plays hockey for the Burlington Dragons...how can you not like that team name? I mean really, is that the best or what? Anyways back to Logan. It's been about a year since things ended between Logan and Archie brother of the Dragon's Team Captain because you know...you can't play hockey and be gay...a sad but true reality of our world and one that will hopefully disappear from the world of sports sooner rather than later.

 

It's a year later and Morgan finds himself spending the holidays in a rental house with 3 of his teammates when his past walks in looking every bit as hot as Morgan remembers him being. Archie's feelings for Morgan haven't changed. As Christmas approaches and the men do their dance around each other and everything that's between them. Morgan finds himself faced with feelings he doesn't know how to handle and decisions that he doesn't want to deal with but time waits for no man and Morgan has to figure out what he needs and what he can live without now and not when it's convenient for him.

 

Morgan for me was every young gay man who ever laced on a pair of skates wanting to make it in the NHL, wanting that symbol of success for themselves and knowing that to have one dream they needed to deny another...the dream of having that one person in your life who makes your world right and is there for you no matter what. 

 

Archie loves Morgan and he's willing to stand beside him, fight for what they can have if only Morgan will say those 3 precious little words that would let Archie know it's all going to be worth it.

 

I really liked these two and would thoroughly enjoy a longer story about them. One that gives us more of them as a couple dealing with living life on their own terms and not anyone else's...maybe Morgan could go to the Railers...it's just an idea ;)

 

3 stars for Susan Scott Shelley's 'Holding On Tight' a short story from 'The Buffalo Bedlam' series.

 

Ok first off I'm going to say I think a good portion of this is on me. 'Holding On Tight' is about Vince Forsberg and his boyfriend Joseph Parelli as they share their first Christmas together as partners.

 

This one was sweet and had some adorable moments and some holiday moments that I'm sure we can all relate to. Those disasters that try as we might seem to be unavoidable. Again I liked this pairing but I didn't share feel the same connection to them that I did with the couples in the first two stories and I think that's a little bit due to the fact that this is a new to me author...so, I wasn't as comfortable with their writing style as the other two authors...that's not me saying good or bad just not familiar but more importantly Vince and Joseph are the MCs from 'Skating On Chance' the 4th  book in 'The Buffalo Bedlam' series and I think had I read that book at least I would have found a stronger connection with these two MCs. So we're going to wrap this one up at 3 stars with strong potential to have been more. 

 

If you're looking for some short sexy holiday stories to read and especially if you're a fan of hockey, holidays and read both m/f and m/m this one's going to give you a lot of bang for your buck. While 2 of the 3 stories that I read were about characters from existing series they are written to work as standalone stories and while I may have wanted to read the previous story in one case the Christmas story worked on it's own and I had no confusion about characters or events in the Christmas story.

 

In summary based on the stories that I read if you're a fan of hockey and want some short, sexy reads that offer a chance to revisit some favorite authors and check out some new ones...this one might be just the give to give yourself and enjoy on a cold winter's night or two...maybe 3 because it comes in at 755 pages according to Amazon and 930 according to my e-reader...either way it's a lot of reading pleasure! Happy Holidays!

 

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

A copy of 'Hockey Holidays' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-11-19 16:41
When Darkness Comes / Alexandra Ivey
When Darkness Comes - Alexandra Ivy

It’s been a hell of a day for Abby Barlow. In just a few hours, she’s survived an explosion, watched her employer die, had a startling dream, and now she finds herself in a seedy Chicago hotel with the sexy, unearthly Dante, a vampire she both desires and fears.

For 341 years, Dante has stood as guardian to The Chalice, a mortal woman chosen to hold back the darkness. A terrible twist of fate has now made Abby that woman. Three hours ago. Dante would have used all his charms to seduce her. Now she is his to protect. And he will do so until his very death.

A terrifying plan has been set in motion, one that will plunge Dante and Abby into an epic battle between good and evil – and a desperate race to save their love…

 

Put my reading experience in the 2 to 2.5 star range.

I would recommend this novel to those who enjoy the writing of Christine Feehan, J.R. Ward, or Jeaniene Frost.

Obviously, this book didn’t appeal to me, nor did the works of the writers listed above, but they are still very highly rated books. So, not my jam but very appealing to others. I’m not a big fan of the damsel in distress, so that’s part of my problem here. Abby seems desperately passive to me, staying in a job that she hates and putting up with harassment from Dante (although she’s a bit conflicted about that, seemingly wishing that she was in his league so to speak). Now, I’ve been stuck in some jobs that I loathed too, but I’ve found my way out of them and into a way of supporting myself that I find quite enjoyable, so I know it can be done. And the whole “Me Too” movement tells the story of systemic harassment, I think the vast majority of women have their Me Too moments that they could tell you about.

Abby is stubborn—Ivy goes out of her way to prove this to the reader. I’m stubborn too. If you could ask my (non-Danish) mother about the stubbornness of her Danish-Canadian husband and daughters she would tell you that we are champions at it. However, I think all of us realize that being stubborn does not equal being independent. If you want me to believe that your main character is strong and independent, you can’t just rely on her sense of stubborn.

Add to this some editing issues: for example, using beaconing rather than beckoning, flaying rather than flailing and a few other words that were close but not quite right. A quote: “While Selena pampered and preened…” You can’t just pamper. You have to pamper something. So the sentence should read “While Selena pampered herself and preened….” Finally, stop reading right now and trying to wrap your own arms around your waist. Perhaps I’m not very flexible, but I can’t seem to find a way to do that. But Abby does it repeatedly—annoying me more that I would have thought possible.

I chose this book for my Women A-Z reading project for this year. I had hoped to find another enjoyable urban fantasy series for future reading, but I will leave this to others who enjoy this style far more than I do.

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review 2018-11-19 10:32
Bausatz und Anleitung für die Liebe – ohne Schrauben, auf Schwedisch*
Lieben!: Über das schönste Gefühl der Welt – für Anfänger, Fortgeschrittene und Meister - Rotraut A. Perner

Eine psychotherapeutische Abhandlung und Betrachtung über die Liebe, Liebesfähigkeit und Liebesbeziehungen fand ich schon immer sehr spannend, viel interessanter als den philosophischen Blickwinkel. Insofern war ich schon sehr neugierig auf das Buch meiner Lieblingstherapeutin, die sich auch noch ab und an sehr erfolgreich als Journalistin in meiner vielgeliebten Straßenzeitung Augustin betätigt, denn auf Grund der Qualität ihrer Reportagen wusste ich zudem, dass sie gut und pointiert zu formulieren vermag.

 

Im ersten Kapitel Lieben für Anfänger startet sie auch schon sehr ambitioniert und analysiert die kindliche Prägung von Liebe. Gut erklärt, recht strukturiert aufgebaut und spannend aufbereitet thematisiert sie, wie die Erziehung der Eltern bereits vom Mutterleib über die frühkindliche Prägung bis zur Pubertät die Liebesfähigkeit im Erwachsenenalter beeinflusst und warum, beziehungsweise inwiefern, schon in dieser Phase bei vielen Menschen bezüglich der Defizite beim Thema Liebesfähigkeit im Erwachsenenalter der Hund begraben liegt, der nur mit einer ausreichenden Auseinandersetzung und Therapie wieder repariert werden kann.

Bereits in dieser Phase bemerkte ich jedoch etwas konsterniert, dass Begriffe nicht im Text, sondern in Endnoten – also am Ende des Buches – erläutert wurden, und der Leser somit für eine ausreichende, eigentlich gar nicht so in die Tiefe gehende Auseinandersetzung mit dem Thema vor und zurückblättern musste. Versteht mich nicht falsch, wir reden hier nicht von Fuß- / Endnoteninformationen wie Quellen oder fade wissenschaftliche Definitionen, sondern tatsächlich von essentiellen therapeutischen Erklärungen, die eigentlich der Fließtext unbedingt liefern sollte.

 

Hält sich diese konzeptionelle Unsitte und rezensionsmäßige Katastrophe im Kapitel Lieben für Anfänger in homöopathischen Dosen noch in einem gewissen Rahmen, so entgleitet und eskaliert dieser Irrsinn (sorry für diese nicht therapeutische falsche Metapher sie fungiert hier vielmehr als literarische Übertreibung) in den folgenden Kapiteln total. Wenn ich auf einer kleinen Seite bis zu fünf Mal hin und her blättern muss, hört sich der Spaß und somit auch der Lesegenuss auf, so eine Struktur hat im sequentiellen Medium Buch einfach nix verloren. Vor allem weil ich im Jahr ca. zehn Fachtexte und wissenschaftliche Abschlussarbeiten betreue, lese und bewerte, kann ich so etwas wirklich sehr gut beurteilen.

 

So habe ich im Kapitel Lieben für Fortgeschrittene, in dem es um Paarbeziehungen ging, irgendwann einmal aufgegeben zu blättern, weil es mir einfach zu mühsam war und ich mich von einer schlechten Struktur nicht verarschen lasse – und – welche Überraschung – mir fehlten wirklich wesentliche Inhalte, die mir die Konzepte und Gedanken der Autorin erläuterten. Die herangezogenen Analogien, die zu weit hergeholt waren, die nicht erklärten Konzepte und die an den Haaren herbeigezogenen bzw. aus der Mottenkiste hervorgekramten Zitate aus Musik, Literatur, Philosophie etc. prasselten blitzlichtartig im Telegrammstil auf mich ein.

Je weiter man von der Lichtquelle über uns entfernt ist, desto größer ist der Schatten, erst wenn man direkt unter ihr steht, wirft man keinen mehr weil man ihn integriert.

Heute kommen zu diesen üblichen mahnenden Besserwissern die schnell „laufenden Bilder“ (movies) aus Film und Fernsehen dazu (damit dem Publikum nicht langweilig wird und es einen anderen „Sender“ – im Doppelsinn des Wortes – sucht. Sie sind beteiligt an dem Phänomen der „ruhelosen“ (Buchtitel von Vance Packard), „beschleunigten“ (Buchtitel von Peter Glotz) oder „flüchtigen“ Gesellschaft (Buchtitel „Flüchtige Moderne“ von Zygmunt Baumann), in der viele Gefühle „auf der Strecke bleiben“ – denn Fühlen braucht Zeit.

Man beachte, dass weder die Autorin noch das Lektorat bei diesem Einschubwahnsinn den Überblick über die aufgerissenen Klammern behalten konnte, denn die Klammer vor dem Wort damit in der zweiten Zeile wird niemals geschlossen.

Wenn man dann aus diesem abgebrannten Feuerwerk an nebensächlichen, aber intellektuell eitlen Belanglosigkeiten aus anderen Genres und schlechten Strukturmerkmalen einmal den psychotherapeutischen Nukleus extrahiert, kommen schon spannende Erkenntnisse aus den unterschiedlichst kranken und gesunden Paarbeziehungen heraus, aber dieser ist derart völlig verschüttet, dass er erst mühsam aufgestöbert und vom ganzen Tand befreit, beziehungsweise fast schon mit dem Hochdruckreiniger gesäubert werden muss.

 

Ehrlich gesagt habe ich im dritten Kapitel – Lieben für Meister*innen dann ob der oben genannten Mühsehligkeiten geistig ein bisschen abgeschaltet und kann nur mehr sagen, dass hierzu dann viel Osho (Bhagwan)- und Tantrageplänkel bei mir eben genau nicht hängengeblieben ist, denn bei diesem Thema schalte ich sowieso auf Durchzug. Den Rest des meisterlichen Liebens habe ich leider vergessen. So werde es auch im Alter bedauerlicherweise nie zur Meisterschaft in dieser Disziplin bringen ;-)

 

Fazit: Eigentlich recht gute Inhalte, die durch eine total verhunzte Struktur und durch einen unsäglichen Stil total schlecht präsentiert werden.

 

*das ist ironisch gemeint – nichts gegen die schwedischen Bedienungsanleitungen

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