I got an e-copy of this book in exchange for a review via NetGalley.
First off, I really love how m/m romances are becoming more mainstream and easierI got an e-copy of this book in exchange for a review via NetGalley.
First off, I really love how m/m romances are becoming more mainstream and easier to obtain, especially in print. Regarding Sherwood's novel, the writing was tight and everything was well-paced. This is a lovely slow-burn of a romance, with both characters having a lot of work to do to develop emotionally before they start a relationship. This makes a welcome change from the urge to, all too often, jump to the smut as quickly as possible. I also appreciated that this book was much longer than many of the other m/m books I've read, allowing for the time to sink into the story and to let the characters grow. That may seem a small thing, but having read a similar novel years ago, again from the pov of a priest, which was maybe a third of the length of this one--I just appreciated the time and the room for the story.
To conclude: the characters are well-drawn and the writing is vivid. The romance is lovely, and I'm just very happy I got to read it!...more
This review originally appeared at The Future Fire:
This is the first of two projected volumes of novellas and short stories set in the world of the RaThis review originally appeared at The Future Fire:
This is the first of two projected volumes of novellas and short stories set in the world of the Raksura; the other volume’s projected publication date is April 2015. These books follow Wells’s trilogy of The Cloud Roads (2011), The Serpent Sea (2012), and The Siren Depths (2012), though the reader doesn’t necessarily have to have read them in order to enjoy this book. Stories contains two novellas that have never before been published, two short stories that have previously appeared on the author’s website, and three brief appendices detailing the characters and the world of the books. Altogether, the material forms what can be a useful introduction to the Raksura, and a delightful present for fans of the series.
Wells’s worldbuilding emphasizes two points of departure from common SF/F worlds. First of all, the Raksura are human only in emotion, and in their “groundling,” or humanoid, forms. The rest of the time they are exotically alien: scaled, multi-colored, occasionally winged. Emotional gestures are communicated by relaxed or upright frills, the showing of teeth and the occasional displays of claws. Even better, as the point of view characters are mostly Raksuran themselves, this is all presented as the norm. The other narrative departure is through gender roles: Raksuran courts are matriarchal, with women as the dominant rulers and warriors and men most often as teachers and caregivers. Further than that, the Raksura in their groundling forms are dark-skinned. This is a world where “whiteness” isn’t even a concept, let alone a rule of thumb. The “courts” also have little to do with our human governments or royalty, and refer instead to kinship ties within a localized group.
The first novella, ‘The Falling World,’ is an adventure story set after the original trilogy. Moon is consort to the Queen Jade, who goes missing while on a diplomatic trade mission. Moon insists on going to search for her with a party of warriors; throughout multiple references are made to his “headstrong” nature that must be forgiven. Visitors from a rival court are disapproving at first, but later commend Moon for his bravery in insisting on searching for his mate.
The other novella, ‘The Tale of Indigo and Cloud,’ is a prequel story that sets up some of the world of the books, particularly the setting of the Indigo Cloud court where most of the characters live. Again, we see the inversion of traditional gender roles when the headstrong Queen Indigo rescues Cloud, a consort to a queen in another court who abuses him verbally and physically. This story reads like a semi-typical romance, except it takes place from the point of view of Indigo’s mother Cerise, the ruling Queen of the court, who is more concerned with the political conflicts present than the emotional ones. A brief epilogue has the present day characters of Indigo Cloud—including Moon—coming across the story in a book.
The two short stories are quite short indeed, and also prequels to the novels. The first, ‘The Forest Boy,’ is about a young Moon hiding his true nature from friendly humanoids and finding a home for a brief period of time. The other, ‘Adaptation,’ is about Chime’s unexpected shift from the mentor class to the warrior class; in some ways, this story can be read as a metaphor for puberty, with unexpected bodily changes and emotional frustrations and outbursts. This is also the one story that does more than glance at implied but largely unspoken bisexuality for all Raksuran characters; early on, Chime awakes to find another male has slipped into his bed—by accident. Chime treats the mistake with good-natured annoyance that the male was there for another and not him. As Moon reflects in another story, sexuality among the Raksura largely consists of, “if you want it, ask for it.” There is no angst or confusion about this treatment (in this book, at least), which makes a nice change from older works where overcoming internalized homophobia makes up a great deal of the emotional—if not actually the narrative—arc.
Overall, the book reminded me of the pleasure I took in extended universe short story collections like those by Anne McCaffrey or Marion Zimmer Bradley. The majority of single-author short story collections published these days tend towards collections of previously published material, while multi-author collections tend to be overwhelmingly thematic. A collection like this is most enjoyable because of the uniform quality of material in it; I would hesitate to say if any of the stories is “better” than the others because they were all easy reading. None of them is about Big Ideas per se, but rather character and world explorations that many readers will want for their own sake. Perhaps I have just been reading the wrong books of late, but this one made a nice change; it was a book I could sit down to read, relax, and enjoy thoroughly. Suffice to say that I have neglected reading the earlier trilogy and plan to remedy that in the immediate future....more
Somehow I missed that this is a re-issue of a 1981 novel--which is actually kind of a relief as a number of scenes just seemed dated or out of place iSomehow I missed that this is a re-issue of a 1981 novel--which is actually kind of a relief as a number of scenes just seemed dated or out of place in a way I can't fully articulate. I've read several of Haldeman's other books--the classic Forever War with its sequel Forever Free and analog Forever Peace (which I think is actually the most interesting of the three). There's something about the set-up of the Worlds/Earth culture clash that now seems kind of retro to me, though I enjoyed it for most of the book.
I especially enjoyed the way the novel was told in disparate pieces through diary entries, correspondence, one-sided calls, etc. though this same way of storytelling made it difficult for me to "get to know" the characters; they always seemed at arm's length in a way they weren't in other Haldeman novels. That said, I think this book is especially interesting for how it describes futuristic culture-clash, and would definitely recommend it on that basis....more
I received an advance copy of the ebook through NetGalley in exchange for this review.
Lone Wolf is one of those m/m romance novels that is evocative I received an advance copy of the ebook through NetGalley in exchange for this review.
Lone Wolf is one of those m/m romance novels that is evocative of fanfic—in a good way. More than once I’ve had conversations with fannish friends about how we wish that finding books we want to read were as easy as finding fanfics that suit our mood; the “coffeehouse” and “bookstore” stories that are the literary equivalent of hot chocolate or ice cream to comfort and soothe. Lone Wolf evokes both of these tropes, adds some meta discussions about writing and fanfic, and provides the obligatory steamy sexy and happy ending (pun not intended at first, but now it is) that will please many a reader.
The novel is part of Riptide Publishing’s “Bluewater Bay” series, a set of (so far) five novels by ten writers set in a shared universe. The eponymous bay is home to author Hunter Easton, famous for his Wolf’s Landing paranormal novels that are being adapted for a popular television series that is also being shot in the small town in northwest Washington. The popularity of the books and television series is meant to evoke Twilight and Game of Thrones—and does so in a way that encourages even more nods and winks to the audience. After all, it is the vast popularity of rewritten fan novels of Twilight that have given mainstream audiences a knowledge of contemporary fandom that makes a lot of the discussions in Lone Wolf accessible to the reader in a way that they wouldn’t have been even five years ago.
You see, Hunter Easton, famous author, also likes to hang out in his own fan forum using the pseudonym Wolf Hunter, and his best friend in fandom is Lone Wolf. Lone Wolf has just finished his long-awaited fan novel—one that Hunter has been waiting for as eagerly as the other fans online. Disobeying his editor’s injunction to never read fanfic, Hunter has read everything by Lone Wolf, but nothing by anyone else. (This is how we know they have something **special** together.) Hijinks ensue when Hunter finishes the fic, absolutely has to meet Lone Wolf in person, finds out that he is gorgeous, gay, and single, and online friendship quickly becomes in person romance. In the meantime there are discussions of fandom, the writing trade, the con circuit, and all of those things that are one part wishful thinking to three parts absolute accuracy. (Ever been in a miserable writing critique circle when you know you’re a great writer? Yeah, those scenes are here. Ever had long, in-depth conversations about fictional people as if they were real? Those too. Love the perfect coffee shop setting with the elaborate descriptions of delicious caffeine? Oh yes.)
Lone Wolf is a quick, easy read, and the perfect thing to relax with when you’ve had too much “real life”—online, or off. ...more