Allegiance of Honor (Nalini Singh)

Allegiance of Honor is the 15th Psy-Changeling novel by Nalini Singh. It concludes the first “season” of the series, with the second season known as the Psy-Changeling-Trinity-Series.
Finished on: 17.2.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Plot:
The Trinity Accord between Psy, Changeling and Humans is supposed to be a stabilizing factor that brings the world together after Silence has fallen. But not everybody is happy with that solution. The symbol for the new world order is Naya, the daughter of Lucas Hunter – leopard changeling and leader of DarkRiver, one of the biggest changeling groups – and Sascha – cardinal empath psy and the first to publically defect from Silence. So the Consortium – Trinity’s biggest opponent – want to kidnap her. But Naya is not the only (proposed) victim. Many changelings have already gone missing, especially the loose-knit water changelings. When a new clue to the disappearance of one of them appears, water changeling alpha Miane asks the other changeling DarkRiver and SnowDancer for help.

Allegiance of Honor deviates a little from the usual Psy-Changeling formula (and it is a formula) as it is an ensemble book. And I have to say, I greatly enjoyed the look back at many of the characters that haven’t featured so prominently since their own books.

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The Spellman Files (Lisa Lutz)

The Spellman Files is the first novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 26.1.2017

Plot:
After a rough youth, Izzy Spellman has found her perfect job, her calling: she’s a private investigator to her very core. The only drawback is that it’s the family business. Her parents are private investigators. Her little sister Rae is only fourteen but already training very hard to be one. Only her brother chose a different way to go: he became a lawyer – and a perfectly law-abiding one at that. But when Izzy’s parents set Rae to spy on Izzy (to find out the identity of her new boyfriend), Izzy has had it with the other Spellmans and she leaves the agency and her home. But when Rae goes missing, she can’t stay away anymore.

I remember grabbing the book from a second hand shop bargain bin quite on a whim. It’s been sitting on my shelf for a long time, and every once in a while I would take it up and wonder why I bought it in the first place – it just isn’t what I usually read. This spring I moved, and I figured, I’d start reading the book to see whether it would make the move with me. And I have to say that I was absolutely pleasantly surprised. The Spellman Files is funny and fast-paced and an entertaining delight to read.

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Winters Garten (Valerie Fritsch)

Winters Garten (translates literally to Winter’s Garden) is a novel by Valerie Fritsch. As far as I know, it has not been translated into English.
Finished on: 7.1.2017

Plot:
Anton Winter spent a lot of his childhood at his grandparents’ house and garden. Now he’s an ornithologist in his fourties and looks at the ruins of a city in a world devastated by war. He is a loner, but when he happens to meet Friederike, he falls in love. He starts working with her at a birthing clinic and they get closer. But with the end of the world fast approaching, they have very little future, only the hopes that fill their present.

Winters Garten is Literature-with-a-capital-L and while I loved to get a speculative fiction novel from Austria, I couldn’t really get into that literary style that – to me – felt like it was trying too hard.

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Above the Snowline (Steph Swainston)

Above the Snowline is the fourth novel in the Fourland series by Steph Swainston. It’s a prequel, set before all of the other books.
[Here are my reviews of the others.]
Finished on: 26.12.2016

Plot:
Jant Shira is new to the Emperor’s circle of immortals. Being half Rhydanne, half Awian on top of his novice status, he often feels like an outcast and is eager to prove himself. The opportunity arises when Rhydanne Dellin comes to the Castle, seeking an audience with the Emperor. Dellin’s living space in the mountains is severely encroached upon by Awian settlers and she is here to ask for help. Jant gets sent to the mountains with Dellin to check out the situation and thus has to confront his own heritage.

I enjoyed Above the Snowline very much, and I continue to be a fan of the series. Above the Snowline offers some interesting takes on the Fourlands and on colonialism, but mostly, it provides great background information on Jant himself.

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Leben ohne Geheimnis [Falling Star] (Vicki Baum)

Leben ohne Geheimnis [translated as Falling Star, literally: Life Without Secrets] is a novel by Vicki Baum.
Finished on 16.11.2016

Plot:
Oliver Dent is a Hollywood star who has just reached the height of his career, mostly because he’s just that good-looking. He meets Donka Morescu, an actress who used to be one of the greats in the silent film era, but was dropped with the rise of sound film because her accent is simply too strong. Oliver and Donka fall very much in love, while Oliver’s friend Aldens, a German, starts dating Francis who dreams of fame and Oliver. But in a world where every action is up for scrutiny by the press and every emotion is tainted by movies, living love can be very difficult indeed.

Leben ohne Geheimnis isn’t a completely bad book, but I liked the idea of this story and the characters in it more than I liked the actual story and characters.

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Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon (Jane Austen)

Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon are works of Jane Austen, the latter two of which remain unfinished.
Finished [reading, not the fragments ;)] on: 26.10.2016

Jane Austen is great, whether in fragments or finished. I very much enjoyed reading all three of the story (parts), although I’m actually happy that Sanditon remained a fragment because I would have different plans for the characters than Austen most likely intended and this way, the path is free for me to imagine it all. In any case, if you enjoy her finished and polished novels, it’s definitely worth checking out her other works as well.

After the jump, I’ll talk about each work separately.

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Night Shift (Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearin, Milla Vane)

Night Shift is a paranormal novella anthology with works by Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearin and Milla Vane [aka Meljean Brook].
Finished on: 17.10.2016

As an avid reader of Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, I had to grab this anthology, of course, even though I’m not familiar with the other series that were featured with novellas here. The resulting collection and my reading experiences were pretty mixed. It’s a quick read in any case.

After the jump I’ll talk about the four novellas separately.

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A Darker Shade of Magic (V.E. Schwab)

A Darker Shade of Magic is the first book in the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab [aka Victoria Schwab].
Finished on: 12.10.2016

Plot:
Kell is one of the last people who is able to cross between the Londons – Red London, where he is from, is a place where magic is harmoniously built into life; Grey London doesn’t have any magic; White London is constantly under new and bloody leadership and bleeds magic in this fight; Black London has long been lost and can’t be accessed anymore. Kell is supposed to be an ambassador between the worlds, but he has a sidebusiness smuggling artefacts between the worlds. But when he finds a mysterious artefact that may or may not be from Black London, Kell is quickly in deep trouble. Especially when he meets Lila, a thief in Grey London who senses that there’s more to Kell than just a purse and is set on going on an adventure with him.

A Darker Shade of Magic is a nice, quick read that I enjoyed, although I didn’t absolutely loved it. I wouldn’t have minded if there had been only one book and not an entire series (even despite the unfinished business in this one), but since there is a series, I guess I’ll read the rest as well.

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Dog Boy (Eva Hornung)

Dog Boy is a novel by Eva Hornung (aka Eva Sallis).
Finished on: 23.9.2016

Plot:
When Romochka is four years old, he finds himself all alone and hungry, his mother doesn’t seem to be coming back to him. As he wanders through the streets of Moscow, he sees a dog and starts to follow it. The dog leads him home to its den where it lives with its puppies and their pack. It soon transforms into a second mother for Romochka, and Romochka himself transforms as well as he adapts to his life as a dog.

Dog Boy captures realistically how a child growing up with a wild pack of dogs could play out and packages that into an intriguing story with a strong first half and a weaker second half.

[Slight Spoilers]

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Fingersmith (Sarah Waters)

Fingersmith is a novel by Sarah Waters.
Finished on: 17.9.2016

Plot:
Sue lives with her adoptive family who ply their trade as thieves and with various cons. When a regular collaborator with them, Richard Rivers, called the Gentleman suggests a new con, Sue suddenly finds herself training to become a maid to the rich Maud Lilly. Maud lives in a remote estate, Briar, with her uncle Christopher Lilly, an avid book collector. Gentleman was a guest of theirs and saw the perfect opportunity: he would marry Maud and then get rid of her, but keep her money. All he needs is a confidante who makes sure that Maud makes the right decisions. And so Sue travels to Briar to make sure their plan goes off without a hitch.

Fingersmith was an absolutely fantastic read. Vivid characters, perfect setting, one of the best plot twists in the history of plot twists and a whole lot of feminism. What more could you possibly ask for?

waters_fingersmith

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