Tag Archives: magical realism

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Book Review: The Remaking of Corbin Wale, by Roan Parrish

I picked up a free copy of Roan Parrish‘s The Remaking of Corbin Wale last year and I included it as part of my Holiday Reading Challenge this year. But instead of reading my ecopy, I ended up borrowing an audio copy through Hoopla so that I could listen while I did chores. I thought it was a good review to post today, the last day of Hanukkah.

the remaking of corbin wale

Last month, Alex Barrow’s whole life imploded – partner, home, job, all gone in 48 hours. But sometimes when everything falls apart, better things appear almost like magic. Now, he’s back in his Michigan hometown, finally opening the bakery he’s always dreamed of. But the pleasure of opening day is nothing compared to the lonely and beautiful man who bewitches Alex before he even orders.

Corbin Wale is a weirdo. At least, that’s what he’s heard his whole life. He knows he’s often in a fantasy world, but the things he feels are very real. And so is the reason why he can never, ever be with Alex Barrow. Even if Alex is everything he’s always fantasized about. Even if maybe, just maybe, Corbin is Alex’s fantasy too.

When Corbin begins working at the bakery, he and Alex can’t deny their connection any longer. As the holiday season works its magic, Alex yearns for the man who seems out of reach. But to be with Alex, Corbin will have to challenge every truth he’s ever known. If his holiday risk pays off, two men from different worlds will get the love they’ve always longed for.

my review

I enjoyed this, as I have most things I’ve read by Roan Parrish. I thought Alex and Corbin were wonderful characters and I appreciated that Corbin’s abilities weren’t discounted, but nor were they ever expanded into any explicit, nameable certainty. I liked that little bit of lasting vagueness and magical realism. I also liked that while he was shy about some things, the things you’d most expect someone to be shy about turn out to be his particular kinks (and matched Alex so well).

Conversely, I didn’t care for how purple the sex scenes were. All the comparing sex to oceans and trees and other elemental powers just irritated me. I found it all distracting. And I don’t think Gareth was given the screen-time he deserved.

All in all, I’d call this a success in the most general sense, but also particularly as a holiday read. It fit the bill wonderfully.

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Other Reviews:

ARC Review: The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish

The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish

Come back tomorrow. I’ll be reviewing Second Chances, by Kiska Gray.

the wizard of the pigeons

Book Review: Wizard of the Pigeons, by Megan Lindholm

I borrowed an audio copy of Megan Lindholm‘s Wizard of the Pigeons through Hoopla.
wizard of the pigeons

Seattle: a place as magical as the Emerald City.

Seattle: a place as magical as the Emerald City. Subtle magic seeps through the cracks in the paving stones of the sprawling metropolis. But only the inhabitants who possess special gifts are open to the city’s consciousness; finding portents in the graffiti, reading messages in the rubbish or listening to warnings in the skipping-rope chants of children. Wizard is bound to Seattle and her magic. His gift is the Knowing — a powerful enchantment allowing him to know the truth of things; to hear the life-stories of ancient mummies locked behind glass cabinets, to receive true fortunes from the carnival machines, to reveal to ordinary people the answers to their troubles and to safeguard the city’s equilibrium. The magic has its price; Wizard must never have more than a dollar in his pocket, must remain celibate, and he must feed and protect the pigeons. But a threat to Seattle has begun to emerge in the portents. A malevolent force born of Wizard’s forgotten past has returned to prey upon his power and taunt him with images of his obscure history; and he is the only wizard in Seattle who can face the evil and save the city, his friends and himself.

my review

I picked Wizard of the Pigeons up through Hoopla, from the ‘newly added’ shelf. So, I assumed it was a new book. However, about halfway through I stopped by Goodreads to drop a quick status update and learned two things. One, i didn’t have a new book, but a new edition of an older book—the 35th anniversary edition, as fate would have it. And two, Megan Lindholm is the same author who writes as Robin Hobb. Neither of these things changed anything about the book, but I did look at it a little differently.

I’d call this book more interesting than enjoyable. But the way Lindholm leaves the reader to decide where the lines lay between reality, Wizard’s wizardry, and his history as a Vietnam veteran and the resulting trauma is intriguing. So is characters supposition about what causes them each to become wizards. The book really is a wonderful tribute to veterans and their struggles. It focuses on Vietnam vets, probably due to when it was written, but would work just as well for returning soldiers of more recent conflicts. Though one might quibble about whether the ending is the happiest outcome or not.  I can see people having differing opinions on the question.

I liked Wizard and the rest…except Linda (who you’re not supposed to like). The writing is good and the audio version is a pleasure to listen to. It’s narrated by Daniel Thomas May. The book is slow at times, but I don’t think I minded that too much. All in all, a success for me.

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Other Reviews:

SF Site

Wizard of the Pigeons: A novel with many layers


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Book Review: Mary, Everything – by Cassandra Yorke

Cassandra Yorke‘s Mary, Everything was promoed on Sadie’s Spotlight and I was lucky enough to win a copy. Yes, since I have nothing to do with drawing winners, I absolutely enter the giveaways on the blog!

mary, everything cassandra yorke

Courtney is a lonely undergrad at secluded Braddock College in 2004, working a drowsy summer job in the Archives. Assigned to a new project, she becomes haunted by a college yearbook from the 1920s – filled with familiar faces and memories of times she never experienced. A chance encounter with a mysterious girl named Sadie – dressed in long-outdated clothes – alters her reality. But if you were never meant to be born, that reality can expel you like an infection – or kill you outright. While Courtney struggles against forces she cannot comprehend, a psychopathic stalker smells blood and closes in for the kill.

Sadie, now in 1921, races against the clock to save her friend, joined by some remarkable allies – an American combat sorceress and veteran of World War I, an enigmatic professor who specializes in piercing the veil between realities, and two young women who insist they’re Courtney’s oldest friends – one of them even claiming to be her truest love.

Time is running out for Courtney, and a terrifying wilderness – haunted by the dead from centuries past – may hold the key to her salvation. But none who enter have ever returned…

my review

This had some really interesting aspects that I very much enjoyed. The convoluted timeline, for example, makes your brain work for the reward. The book is set in 1921 and 2004, jumping between the two. But the 2004 scenes are essentially flashbacks (of a sort). Go ahead and get your head around that one. The writing is also quite lyrical at times and the editing clean.

But there were some things I could have done without. The book is pretty slow, especially in the beginning. So, as a reader, I really felt the 400+ pages. And I thought a lot of the climax too blunt for the light-fingered story up until that point.

For one, all the rape threats weren’t needed at all. (Notice, I said all. There were several from a variety of men). I do understand that this was intended in part to show how Courtney felt victimized by men, but that was established far earlier and needed no further evidence. The story would have been more interesting if the men had truly been enacting an evil for what they thought was a greater good. Already, as a reader, I knew to abhor them. Turning them ALL into pervy, would-be rapists was a cudgel the scenes didn’t need. True, I’d be happy never have to sit through another rape scene or rape threat in a book I read for entertainment ever again. But I would really, REALLY love it if authors would stop putting them in books that don’t need them as some sort of short-hand for “this is a bad guy.

Similarly, (in the cudgel sense), having both Courtney and Sadie suddenly and inexplicably become the strongest, most powerful, bad-assest chicks ever was too much too fast. There is so much subtly in the book until that point that it really stands out as a change in tone.

Having said all that, I don’t regret reading it. There is an interesting magic system and world here. It’s readable and thought provoking. Worth recommending.

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Other Reviews:

Mary, Everything Review