Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Roaring Good Fun

The Tiger’s Daughter (Their Bright Ascendency #1)The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed it, and I want to read the sequel. To me it was not a novel, more a prose anime or an unillustrated graphic novel, but I don't think that's necessarily bad. I don't read manga, so I can't speak to the similarities there, but culture is mere brushstrokes around the author's true idea of storytelling as drama and romance. It takes place in not-Mongolia, not-Japan, not-China. Here's where the American habit of pushing things into genres helps: when I am reading fantasy, I don't expect historical fiction. I expect the culture within the book to have only vague resemblances to the "real world". There is drama aplenty, an attempt to reflect a world transitioning from matriarchies to patriarchies, under magical assault by demons. And the drama of teen love. Two teen girls (warriors! possibly divine!) in love is drama and tragedy by definition, and so while I would have loved this sans reservations in my teens and twenties, I was bored with the angst (though not the adventure) until the last third of the book. Take away all the trappings of grandeur and grime, and we have all either been these girls or met them. What changed my mind to up the star score on the book is that it felt so much like a Chinese martial arts movie, with gods and legends and doomed love--but with an American flash of hope instead of full-on tragedy. (So far--enough for me to read the second book.) As a gamer, the author has a learning curve to establish character and background for readers, but those of us who did not grow up with the visual shortcuts and Hollywood trope shorthand of movies and video games are dying off, and that kind of depth may be something no longer provided by authors but by readers (consumers, appreciators?) in the future. I love this kind of mish-mash when it works, an exploration of the cracks and possibilities in the borderlands of myth and history, culture and conquest, and this one works for me.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the EARC for review.


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Monday, September 4, 2017

Get October in September

The Brightest Fell (October Daye, #11)The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Seanan McGuire is on fire. Figuratively, of course. Anyway. The author deserves her accolades, and yes, worth the cost of transitioning to hardcover if you're able. This being the eleventh October Daye novel, it is truly magical—that means tense and bloody in Toby's world. Toby's wedding planning is interrupted by her mom: selfish, casually cruel and arrogant—that's right, she is related to the original Bad Fairy that people would rather not invite to anything. Her mother Amandine will October’s fiancĂ©, the King of Cats, and her fetch’s lover Jazz hostage in their animal forms until Toby finds Amandine's other daughter and brings her back from whatever dimension she's been lost in since 1910. Throw in eternal rivalries and grudges eons old, and Toby must deal with the havoc wreaked. I can't tell you more, except that in Toby's world, though the magic folk are somewhat modern, they are still hidden from the mundane mortals, and McGuire's worldbuilding is superb. Read the whole series, if you haven't. There's a bonus novella, a wonderful surprise.
Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley for the review EARC; the raving is, as always, my own opinion.



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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Curious Minds

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon, #1)Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Curious Minds is a hoot! The first in the Knight and Moon series, this pure escapist thriller makes us imagine: What would Sheldon and Penny (of Big Bang Theory) do?
Sheldon--I mean Emerson Knight, is a handsome, eccentric rich guy. Penny--meaning Riley Moon, is a red-haired, gun-friendly graduate of Harvard Business and Law Schools. She's the one from Texas. Of course they are not complete copies of the characters, but that gives you the flavor of the book.
Credibility has never been Evanovich's goal; it's always been obvious to and appreciated by her readers that she's a genius at escapist fantasy, just like the sitcoms of old. In this book, co-authors Sutton and Evanovich take on global conspiracy theories, from the lizard people to Nazi heirs. There's a Nazi plot to destabilize the world's global gold reserves, and it's up to Knight and Moon to stop it in the nick of time to save the world, indulging in clever dialogue and edging towards romance on the way. Throw in some mystic Hindu powers, flunkies with assault rifles, exotic menageries, a couple more broadly outlined quirky characters, and you have all the escape you could ever want until the story's over. Book two, Dangerous Minds, was just released, and hopefully it's as fun!





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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Green Magic

The Waking LandThe Waking Land by Callie Bates

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


It's worth the hype. I don't know if this one is ya or not, it doesn't need to be. Unlike some other recent reads, every single time I thought she was going for the usual, she turned the cliche around. I'm dazzled. Lady Elanna's grown up a hostage all her life, raised in luxury and favored by the king. What does she do when she's forced to flee her privileged life and face her feelings of betrayal and abandonment in the face of real dangers and responsibilities? Pretty much what any reader of fantasy hopes we would do, with green magic running through our veins: she steps up. The dangers of stepping up are not sugar-coated, either. Beautiful language, stellar character development, and two more books in the pipeline. Hurray, and HIGHLY recommended. I was lucky enough to win an ARC, and thank Del Rey profusely. There's nothing like getting to add someone new to your "favorite authors" list. (Note to publisher: look at those reviews on goodreads, maybe you need to market this as an adult fantasy. Me, Robin Hobb, other adults: 5-4 stars, great reviews; teenagers: 1-2 stars. This is more like Recluce and only mature readers evidently can see it.)



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Recent Reads


Friday, August 4, 2017

The New Voices of FantasyThe New Voices of Fantasy by Peter S. Beagle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. Hard times are good for great writing and serious reading. Here are serious practitioners of fantasy and lovers of language, tinged with truth and mudded with blood and myth. Many of the writers have won or been nominated for awards, and they know their stuff. Buy it, read it, and dream larger, possibly darker, definitely deeper dreams. Each story is a portal to a different world. Each is a literary gem, shining like a necklace of stars in the hands of a dragon. Even the ones that you may not like are beautiful. It was edited by Peter Beagle, after all. Delightful, but not light reading, highly recommended. (I received an EARC for review from the publisher and Netgalley.)


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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Moonbeams and Hard Truths Can Go Together

Ginny MoonGinny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Ginny Moon's birth mother has trouble with drugs, men, cops, and her temper. She also has trouble with Ginny Moon, who has a LOT of trouble understanding people in general, due to her position on the autism spectrum. Ginny Moon was removed from her birth mother's custody four years ago when she was nine, and since then she has done nothing but do her best by hook or crook to get back to her birth mother and Ginny's job of taking care of Baby Doll. Lying, stealing, running away: Ginny knows these are wrong, but she doesn't know what else to do, because taking care of Baby Doll is VERY important, and none of the adults around her, even her therapist, seem to understand.
Things come to a head when her adoptive parents are about to have their own birth child. Ginny comes from a violent background; despite her obsession with Baby Doll, can she be trusted around the new baby? Ludwig does an amazing job of showing why it's hard to communicate for the autistic and with the autistic. The book is told in Ginny's voice and yet we can see when she can't how people are caring for her and about her, and feel empathy and frustration for everyone in the story. That's amazingly hard to do when you're taking on autism, social services, adoption and foster care, poverty and high school all at once. Both tender and tough, this is a great read for adults and teens.





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