Ongoing saga

In the ongoing saga of how I’m being bullied and harassed by Whitney Ellenby and her husband Keith, I’ve received yet another email, AFTER ASKING THEM TO STOP.

She has said that she’s reporting me to Twitter, Goodreads and ‘appropriate online authorities’ that *I* am in direct violation because my EMAIL tells her it’s going to be her fault when other parents hurt their kids.

My heart is doing a hummingbird impression in my chest.

How can these people think it’s okay to keep harassing me because I hated their harmful book?

Email text that I responded to her with. (I’m trying NOT to respond to them, but I NEED THEM TO STOP.)

Since I’ve posted that nowhere except my website. It violates none of those policies. Do you seriously think you’re going to manage to bully me and harass me into shutting up? You’re just making me more determined.
I have asked you, repeatedly to stop contacting me. You are now harassing me as well as bullying me.
STOP HARASSING ME. STOP BULLYING ME.
YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HARASS OR BULLY SOMEONE WHO HATED YOUR BOOK.

In the interest of transparency

CONTENT WARNING mention of panic attacks, abuse of autistics, mention of email harassment, ableist language as a self-label

I reviewed a harmful book by an autistic martyr parent. It’s gone viral, so you may have heard.

Here is the review, here is the twitter thread.

When this page came across my feed, the author claiming that the book itself proves she didn’t abuse her son, I was motivated, out of stupidity I guess, to reach out through her comment section to let her know I HAD read the whole book and found it even more horrifying than the WaPo article.

She emailed me, implying that I had obtained the book illegally.

In the interest of transparency, and honesty, I’m sharing all of the text I have sent to this woman, and her husband.

These are my words, so I’m allowed to share them. I would DEARLY love to share the emails both she and her husband have since sent to me, because oh my dear gods they have me in tears and a panic attack. Both last night, and again this morning.

Suffice to say that they implied I’d gotten the book illegally, that I didn’t actually read the book, that I should REREAD that travesty, that I said I knew their son better than they did.

Then I just got one from the husband claiming that *I* a confirmed autistic am OBVIOUSLY not autistic, that I am probably a Russian internet troll bent on hurting good people like them.

So. Before I go close myself in the bathroom and rock myself calm. Here is the text I sent via the author’s contact section on her website.


What I sent to Ellenby via her contact form on her website in response to her defense of the WaPo article.

Oh? I’ve read the whole book now. Your book paints you as JUST as abusive if not worse than that article described. There were times in the book that you admitted to wanting to give your son a tranquilizer, which you had on HAND to go to a birthday party.

You really need to pull that book. It’s not out yet, so you still have a chance to repair this damage before it’s totally done. It’s harmful to the autistic community and it’s incredibly harmful to your son.

People, autistic people are already reading it and being harmed by it. I’m one of them.

Parents of autistic kids are going to read it and think that’s the best way to do things!! It’s not. It’s not even CLOSE.

Please rethink the massive amount of damage you can and are doing.

You’re wrong. You are VERY wrong.

These kinds of books need to be stopped.

You said you didn’t want to write another autism parenting book, you failed so hard on that. The only thing you did better? Was to insult autistics and provide graphic accounts of abuse of the disabled.

I wish you the best of luck, I think you’re actually a rather talented author if you actually wrote something you knew anything about. You so obviously DO NOT understand autism. Not if you could write those things. You just don’t.

By the way? You read as autistic to me. Female autistics don’t show the same signs, and we’re JUST as common as male autistics. The data and research is badly skewed.

You and I aren’t far apart in age, you wouldn’t have been diagnosed at a young age any more than I was.

Please… Please pull the book. You’re doing untold amounts of harm.

I don’t want contact with you, after reading that book I don’t much like you. But I think you need to know that people HAVE read the book, and they feel JUST the same as after reading that article.

That book HURTS people. Autistic people, like your son. Like me. Like my children, like many of my friends.

It’s not going to get better.


And here is the text of the email I stupidly responded to her with. My only defense is that it riled me to have it implied that I illegally obtained a book when I got it from NetGalley and the publisher.

If someone knows if I’m legally allowed to share the text of the emails they sent me, please let me know.


With as much grace as I’m capable of showing to someone who would hurt a child as much as you have, let me explain some things as politely as I possibly can.
I received a copy of your book from NetGalley and your publicity firm. I requested it after seeing that bloody horrible article in WaPo. I’m autistic, and the mother of autistics, and I am SO SICK of autism parents writing like they have a clue about what they’re talking about, because honestly, most of you don’t. I review books like yours, HOPING one of you is going to prove me wrong. I mean, I actively HOPE one of you is a decent person. So far? None of you have been. I reviewed TO SIRI WITH LOVE and have been on Bustle and in the NY Observer because of my work on it. I imagine my words will be picked up about this book too, I’d be very surprised if they weren’t. I’m a reasonably well known autistic advocate in online circles.
I’ll attach a screenshot of the letter from your publicity group at the end of this email, since you seem to be implying I didn’t come by the book legitimately.
Look, I get it that you’re a new author. I’m not. I work in publishing, the way this works is that ARCs (Advanced Readers Copies) are put out from the publisher around a month in advance, Netgalley and Edelweiss are the most common places to ask for a copy. We reviewers can also email the publisher to ask for a copy of the book. The idea is to drum up publicity for the book, in hopes that the reviews will be positive. The deal is that we reviewers provide an HONEST review, which frankly you aren’t going to like because it’s not favorable, in exchange for a free copy of the book.
Now, using your own methods… (Note, she numbered her demands that I provide quotes from her own book, I don’t know why, to prove I’d actually read it maybe?)
1) Do not talk down to me, I’m autistic, I’m not stupid.
2) I’m not wading through that filth you call a book again to get you exact quotes. It’s bad enough I actually read the whole thing once, I will certainly never reread it. And if you doubt I did? I invite you to take a look at my live-tweeting of it. https://twitter.com/KaelanRhy/status/969089091051569152 I’ve quoted you there. A lot. Properly, as I am actually allowed to quote words from books as long as I source the book/author. I’ve also given my educated, and sometimes salty opinion of what I thought of your words. Since you seem to need a reminder of the words YOU actually wrote… It was right before the birthday party, you said something along the lines of seriously considering giving Zack a sliver of tranquilizer before the party. You said you’d given it to him several times before and it had relaxed him.
3) I have no issue with autistics using anti-anxieties, nor allistics for that matter. If the doc prescribed them to Zack, then maybe he needed them. I don’t honestly know, nor do I really care. How you can possibly think I’m insulting my own people by being upset that you threatened to drug your son into compliance for a birthday party is beyond me. Honestly, that’s how it read. It really did. I’m not the only person to have thought so. There are currently at least two other autistics I know of reading and tweeting, unfavorably, about your book.
4) As far as intent goes, isn’t there something you lawyers love to say? Something to do with mens rea? I’m a historian and a teacher, not a lawyer. Intent does not equal result. The intent behind your book may have been good. I don’t know you, & don’t really want to. The result is OVERWHELMINGLY that you ARE hurting autistic people. You have hurt me. I’ve been crying, off and on for two days as I read that damned book. I’m still awake at 2 am my time, often glancing in at my children, who are both autistic, and wondering how the hell someone like you could publish those cruel and often nasty things about a child like them.
Honestly, how could you? How? Do you not see what those words will DO to your children when they read that book? If you don’t? I could tell you, but I highly doubt, from the tone of your message that you’re even close to listening to someone you deem as less intelligent and less worthy than you.
5) Stop with the PFL please. Autistics, by and large, HATE IT. It demeans us. If you knew ANYTHING about autism, you’d know that. Same as you’d know the bloody difference between a meltdown and a tantrum. They aren’t the same thing. Do you have any idea what a vibrant community we have online? I doubt it.
6) I still can’t believe, even if you don’t accept that your book will and already has harmed autistic people, that you CAN’T see how much those words will harm your son. I don’t understand that.
7) A thorough reading (she said that a thorough and accurate reading of her book would prove her point, as if I *hadn’t* done so) of your book made me throw up. It made me almost meltdown, that a person like you could be at all involved with autistic people, and are likely autistic yourself… it sends chills up my spine and makes me physically ill. It really does. I have no idea the sheer amount of harm you are doing with your ambassador’s group, and because you so badly misunderstand autism? You don’t either. I think it’s a great idea, but do you employ autistic people to help you? Do you know that our rates of unemployment are around 85% regardless of how well educated we are? Do you have any idea how close to poverty most of us live? Do you care?
8) An accurate reading of your book makes it quite clear that you hate your son and prefer your daughter. It makes it QUITE clear that you do not understand autism. For gods sake, you use PFL, refer to meltdowns as tantrums and quote crap from freaking auti$m $peaks. You seem to only understand the lies that Auti$m $peaks spouts, and people like Suskind. Do you realize that almost everyone in the autistic community thinks he’s a joke, or a fraud? There are some few allistic people who write about us that we like. It’s because they listen. He is not one of them. You will not be either if you go on to publish this book.
9) Do not besmirch my honesty or integrity. If I say I’ve read your book? I have. From page one to the very last page.
10) You can’t control how people will view your book, how they will read it, and you saying you’re sorry for how it affected me while at the same time telling me I misunderstood it smacks of so much arrogance. You really won’t get far in publishing, at least with the author side of things, with that attitude. The autistic community is HUGE online, especially on Twitter. Telling us we’re wrong for our very valid interpretation and feelings about your book? It’s really not a good look. You not being able to control how people will view your words is the risk you take as an author. I believe your intent was good, but your result failed. Badly.
11) I’m not usually the type to talk to the authors I review, I’m not even sure why I did or am. Perhaps I’m truly hoping you’ll listen and pull the book before it causes even more damage. Right this second I have autistics telling me they’re having panic attacks and flashbacks to their own abuse, just by reading my quoted words. They haven’t even read some of the worst stuff in the book! I have. THAT is the kind of harm I’m talking about. If you read my tweet threads, read the comments replying to it too.
12) Yes, you do make it clear that your harmful methods, which are absolutely abusive, are your idea alone and against medical advice. But the fact that you make it seem like they worked completely for Zack (you do realize that later in life he’s likely to suffer MASSIVE ptsd from that, right? MANY of us do) are going to have a clear result. What exactly do you think desperate parents who don’t understand autism, who believe it’s a horrible, disfiguring disability that truncates families and reduces enjoyment of life… all of the very nasty things you said in your book… what do you think they’re going to DO when they read that? They’re going to torture their kids in just the same way you tortured yours. And the outcome won’t always be as positive. So it worked for Zack. I’m happy for you both, there are OTHER better methods that your book doesn’t even mention. Those desperate families are going to harm their kids, and it WILL be your fault. It may not be legally anything to do with you, but morally? It’s on you. You can’t escape that. I think that’s probably why I said something because the book doesn’t pub for another month or so. You DO still have time to undo this. We, as authors, have a deep and abiding moral responsibility to make sure our words don’t harm anyone or cause someone to harm others. If it’s pointed out to us that they do? The right answer is to apologize and repair, if you can, the harm you’ve done. Period. I take my responsibility as an author of touchy subjects VERY seriously. It’s totally up to you how you take yours.
13) You definitely implied, if not outright claimed, that you’re an expert on Autism several times throughout your book, and no, I’m not wading through it again to find the quotations. I’m sure you’ve got a copy of it, you can do a word search yourself. You claimed to be a scientist once too. Also…did you NOT write your bio for Amazon? We authors usually provide the text for those. Here… let me cut and paste it below to make it absolutely clear that I’ve actually read it. Since you doubt my honesty so much.
Of course, you have a right to speak for yourself and share your story and your viewpoint. You also have the right and responsibility to bear the burden of the resulting harm. I just wanted you to know how very harmful I and many in the autistic community ALREADY find your book. Once it publishes? You have no control anymore. And you very likely WILL be taken to the cleaners. Diversity advocates on Twitter are ALREADY calling for it to be boycotted.
Then again, books like yours get all sorts of accolades and it took me forever to find a decent publisher for my work. I doubt that washington post will even bother to print my review or what I’ll write up to send to them about your book. I don’t have connections you see, and I’m autistic. I’m out and proud about that, so to most people, my opinion doesn’t matter. Because I’m stupid.
Books like yours don’t help that, you know.
As an aside, I can’t believe that you’re an author and not on Twitter. I really can’t believe it. The writing community on there is almost as rich and varied as the autistic one.
Now. I’m tired, I’m still hurting beyond belief at reading your book, and I’m going to try to go to sleep. I very STRONGLY urge you to pull this book. You have no idea the amount of pain you’ve already caused. I’ve pasted the promised proof below.
I think it’s best we don’t speak again.
Kaelan

Pasted bio from Amazon, I bolded the parts where it claims she’s an expert.

About the Author

Whitney Ellenby is a former US Department of Justice, Disability Rights attorney whose writings have been published in The Washington Post, a law review periodical, and the U.S. DOJ website. She is the author of “Divinity vs. Discrimination: Curtailing the Divine Reach of Church Authority,” Golden Gate University Law Review (1996)), as well as an amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. DOJ Disability Rights Division regarding discrimination against mobility-impaired individuals in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She is the proud parent of a son with Autism and founder of “Autism Ambassadors,” a charitable venture through which she runs exclusive recreational events for over 600 families impacted by Autism in the Washington, DC/Maryland area, including a Sensory-Friendly showing of the world-famous “Gazillion Bubbles Show.” She is an expert on Autism and has testified before the Maryland Senate on disability-related issues, is a member of the Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council for Montgomery County, MD and serves on the University of Maryland Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Board. Whitney’s expertise is steeped in her extensive disability law background, personal experience with her own son, and over 10 years of serving children, teens and adults with Autism of all ages through her “Autism Ambassador” events. Her monthly “Ambassador events” have been featured in local t.v. news, The Washington Post, Bethesda Magazine, and The Bethesda Gazette. Whitney was most recently honored with an “Autism Awareness Proclamation” and “Community Leader” award for her advocacy and dedication to the disability community of Maryland. She has what she describes as a “healthy obsession” with all things Autism.

I then pasted a screenshot of the email I received from her publicity firm. I can’t seem to figure out, as shaken as I am, how to paste that here. I shared it with her to prove where I’d gotten her book, since she made it seem in her email that she highly doubted I’d received a legitimate copy or even read it.
I woke up this morning to a letter in my email from her husband, of all people. He was defending his wife, telling me the book was beautiful and defending their treatment of their son. This is the text I sent back to him.

The very fact that you use functioning labels means you have very little idea of what it means to be autistic. And as far as I and many other autistics are concerned? Have no business working with us. I never said that I knew Zack, in fact, I said that I didn’t. I don’t want to know any of you. I certainly do not want to see any of your names in my inbox again.
Assuming that because I type well and communicate well with words on a screen means that I cope well with all aspects of life in an allistic world again proves that you have no idea what it means to be autistic.
Was I condescending? Possibly, it wasn’t my intent, any more than it was your or your wife’s intent to harm, what, at this point, is thousands of autistics. It will be more when that book comes out. She implied that I may have gotten the book illegally. I tried, in my very blunt, autistic way, to explain how this business works.
Were your actions and inactions abusive to your son? They certainly read that way. Not just to me, but to the thousands of other autistics who have read my review threads, to obviously, given the defensive tone on your wife’s website MANY people who read the WaPo article as well. Your intent and your love for him does not matter. It really doesn’t. ACTION is what matters, and those ACTIONS were abusive. ABA itself is deplored as being abusive, most autistics wouldn’t use it on a dog, you know. In fact, if those methods themselves were used on dogs, the person doing them would be reported to animal control.
If Zack is around 16? He won’t be showing PTSD from that yet. We usually don’t because we internalize it. It usually hits sometime in our 20s or 30s. ABA alone causes it, the rest of the things you guys did to your son? Regardless of your intent? It will only exacerbate it.
In fact, ABA breaks child labor laws, but because it’s ‘therapy’ it’s okay.
Your wife’s ‘beautiful’ book is going to harm so many more autistic kids. Desperate parents are going to do EXACTLY as I said they will, because you two put yourselves forward as being an authority on autism. Legally, it’ll have nothing to do with you, because you’ve both CYAd. Morally? That harm is on you both.
Good luck. Do not contact me again. Seeing either of your names in my inbox sends me into a panic attack. I only reached out in what is so very obviously a vain attempt at trying to halt this train wreck before it harms more autistic people because I care about people like me.
And I’m so sick of people like you hurting us. I have autistic kids who have to live in this screwed up world, and people like you, who claim that books like that are beautiful, and good, and needed? You make it worse.
Goodbye.

There’s been another letter from him, claiming that I’m a troll and not-autistic (I knew that was coming, said so in my thread) but I’m actually smart enough not to respond to that.
I am a shaken, panic-stricken mess right now. I’m crying, and I HATE to cry.
Authors? DO NOT RESPOND TO REVIEWERS.
Reviewers? Be smarter than me and don’t try to reach out to authors to stop their harm. I’m an authenticity reader for autism and… I thought maybe she’d listen. Mea culpa.

 

Review: PETER RABBIT the movie, by SONY

THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS

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First, I don’t tend to review movies, because I’m much more of a book person, and the movies I *would* review I tend not to, because I don’t want to spoil them for people who can’t see them right away.

My kid wanted to see Peter Rabbit, so, given that it’s Family Day here in Canada I took  Mr. 5 year old.

If there’d BEEN another kids movie playing that he hadn’t seen, I would’ve taken him to that because I’d heard some really unpleasant things on Twitter about Peter Rabbit.

Hence this review.

Twitter, and the people who called it out for the reason they called it out for, were wrong.

So, what *I* heard on Twitter was “Don’t support Peter Rabbit because they make fun of people with life-threatening allergies.”

AND “Peter Rabbit has the bunny characters throwing items of allergy at someone with a deathly allergy for funnsies.”

And because I’d never been steered wrong by the people I heard it from, if my kid hadn’t so desperately wanted to see it, AND it hadn’t been the only kid-appropriate movie playing now, I would’ve avoided it. Based on that I wouldn’t have seen a decent movie.

It wasn’t THE BEST MOVIE EVAR!, it had some major issues, but it WAS good comedy if you like American style slap-stick comedy. (And I so rolled my eyes at how VERY AMERICAN some of the humour was.) My kid really enjoyed it, and there were enough parental jokes to keep me entertained as an adult. Especially the rooster, omg, the rooster was freaking hilarious.

Firstly, to address in no uncertain terms the allergy issue. (Last chance to avoid SPOILERS)

Allergies, especially life-threatening ones, are ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO BE JOKED ABOUT.

But that’s not what the movie did. It didn’t even come CLOSE to that, so I really question where the hell the idea I saw on Twitter originally came from.

I have allergies, my kids have allergies, and though none of ours are life-threatening, they are not a thing to take lightly.

We as the viewer are made aware that one of the main characters, Thomas McGregor/Domhnall Gleeson, has a life-threatening allergy (anaphylactic reaction, his throat closes up/he can’t breath) to blackberries). I recognized him from Star Wars, not Harry Potter, that’s how bad of a fan-by I am for anything Harry Potter. (I really don’t care for HP, don’t sue me, I’m broke.)

The title character Peter overhears that Domhnall’s character/Thomas McGregor (who is the descendant of the nasty McGregor from the Beatrix Potter tales, acted, superbly by Sam Neill) tell the love interest of the story that he’s allergic to blackberries.

This is a very multi-layered story peeps. It’s a romance, on top of, and perhaps MORE THAN anything else. Despite it being a kids movie. (So if you’re ARO/aromantic, maybe avoid this one, it hits all the points of ‘love is everything’.)

Now. Peter RABBIT is much more than a Rabbit. He’s clever, he’s wiley, he’s a freaking asshole.

He’s also coping with the death of both parents and being the eldest brother to his three sisters.

Thomas McGregor is just as broken in his different but similar ways.

So when Old McGregor has a heart attack chasing Peter in the garden (MASSIVE CONTENT WARNING ON DIETARY JUDGEMENT CALLS) the lands, manor home, and gardens (charmingly represented true to form to what I recall of Beatrix’s paintings and stories) it passes to Thomas.

Via the trope of an unexpected inheritance.

Thomas goes to the manor and finds it filled with animals, which you can see in the trailers.

Lolz, he screams so very well. My goodness.

Anyway, the allergy issue comes into play when after many shenanigans, Peter and Thomas get to the point of trying to kill one another for real.

Thomas is ACTUALLY trying to KILL the rabbits, Peter is defending, what he regards at this point, as both his beloved mama (the love interest, Bea. played by Rose Byrne) and his lands (which Thomas McGregor, in the way of humans, owns).

I don’t know about you? But if someone is trying to kill ME AND MY FAMILY, allergies would be fair game as a weapon.

You can feel free to disagree with me on that? But this great big human with a hate-on for wildlife is coming after me, I know he’s allergic to blackberries, I’m going to slingshot them into his mouth at the first bloody opportunity.

It was NOT as it’s been portrayed on Twitter.

There is a graphic reaction to allergies, and Thomas has to scramble for his Epi-pen.

He survives, and (unrealistically) tears ass after Peter again.

Not for funnsies. For self-defense. And honestly? If you’re the abusive type who says I/a character can’t use ANY weapon against someone trying to KILL YOU AND YOUR FAMILY as self-defense, I’m not a person you want to have something to do with.

Now on to the rest of the movie.

This is a romance! I didn’t expect that, and yeah, if the whole ‘love cures all ills’ aspect that allos love to shove down our throats at every opportunity bothers you, don’t see it. I’m grey-aro, but all it does *to me* is make me roll my eyes.

It’s actually a sweet romance with elements of fuck-it-all-up and still redeem it at the end.

Which surprised the hell out of me. The actors really did a superb job with that too. (It’s sweet, so there’s no sex/sexual tension to avoid for my asexual peeps as well.) Content warning on one awkward kiss.

Peter is VERY  Americanized for a British childhood story character. BUT, to be clear, the story of the movie takes place after the death of Peter’s mother-bunny. I never really read the Beatrix Potter stories as a kid, (books were such a luxury to us, we were THAT poor) but I think the fresh take helped, it’s a continuation of the tales. (I could be totally wrong, never actually read them.) Rather than a retelling.

The animation for the animal characters was freaking phenomenal and the movie is worth seeing JUST for that.

I’ve been around since before Roger Rabbit (Gods, some of you are so young you’re not going to know what I mean.) So here is some of the style… youtube of the animations of Roger Rabbit.

Compared to many of its predecessors, Peter Rabbit stands out, it’s amazing as per the melding creativity of live action and animation.

There were several lines in the film that made me slightly uncomfortable as a domestic abuse survivor, and I wasn’t happy with how Peter treated his sisters. (Seriously, when are writers going to learn to develop ALL of their characters as well as they do the primary ones?)

Writing wise? This is a damned good film.

Acting wise? Freaking phenomenal, I might be a fan of Domhnall’s now.

Creativity/animation wise? AMAZING.

American humour? Gods could we please find a different way? (I’m American btw, even if I’m expat.)

So. In short (hah! I can’t write short to save my life, and yes I amuse myself) that’s what I thought of Peter Rabbit.

Twitter was wrong, it was a good movie and my kid loved it.

New Book Review: DARKLING by Brooklyn Ray

Queer, Paranormal Romance, Novella, Translit

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Pub date January 8, 2018

BLURB:

Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is surrounded by dense woods, and is home to quaint coffee shops, a movie theater, a few bars, two churches, the local college, and witches, of course.

Ryder is a witch with two secrets—one about his blood and the other about his heart. Keeping the secrets hasn’t been a problem, until a tarot reading with his best friend, Liam Montgomery, who happens to be one of his secrets, starts a chain of events that can’t be undone.

Dark magic runs through Ryder’s veins. The cards have prophesized a magical catastrophe that could shake the foundation of Ryder’s life, and a vicious partnership with the one person he doesn’t want to risk.

Magic and secrets both come at a cost, and Ryder must figure out what he’s willing to pay to become who he truly is.

REVIEW:

I received an ARC of this book via the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

I loved it so much.

I fell absolutely in love with the main character, Ryder. My gods, did I ever fall fast for him. Almost everything was perfect about this novella, characterization, pacing, the plot driving the sex… so much is so perfect and I’ll definitely be looking for more work by this author.

Content warning for blood exchange, cutting, and animal death. SPOILER: The last is okay, promise, he comes back.)

Things I loved:

The author didn’t screw up my faith: I’m a witch, both by bloodline/tradition and by choice of faith, and I can’t tell you the number of books and stories I’ve read/seen that get it wrong, harmfully wrong, sometimes. (Stop and think about it, how many books and shows use a pentacle for a fast an easy way of saying something is evil? When it’s actually the exact opposite?) This book deals heavily in the occult, paganism, magic and the author got it RIGHT! I grinned several times seeing my faith depicted well in the pages of this book.

On page consent: This is a HUGE plus for me, and I often mark a book lower in the stars department if it’s not there. If your characters are having sex, you have to write consent or indicate a conversation has happened that shows consent has been clearly, ideally verbally if physically possible, given. (NO EXCEPTIONS other than dubcon in a first-person PoV when you’re IN the character’s head and you, as the reader, KNOW they want it. Writing consent on the page and demanding it be there in our love stories is how we break down rape culture, you have to have it on the page.) Consent is sexy. It’s there in this book. I loved that.

The writing: By now, if you follow my reviews, you know that I’m extremely picky about writing. I have no issue what-so-ever with DNFing (Do Not Finish) a book. There are millions of books out there, my time is precious and I don’t read what I don’t at least like. Being an editor in my day-job means I’m INCREDIBLY picky about writing skill.

The use of language is rich, but not over the top. The description is AMAZING, I could smell the coffee and feel the mist on my skin, feel the cat’s fur and really get into the sex scenes. (Lolz, they did their job, put it like that.)

Ray has an excellent ability to write evocatively, and that is one of my favorite things in reading. If an author can transport me into their world for a few hours? I’m there. As I’ve come to expect from NineStar Press titles, the editing is top notch. I think I caught one homonym error in 33k plus words. That’s it.

On page representation of a non-binary character who uses they/them pronouns. It’s a secondary character, and there’re only a few lines, but the way the gender-neutral language is presented as a matter of course and automatically accepted is amazing. I loved it.

Trans masc main character: The character’s gender, even with graphic sex, is handled so smoothly and beautifully that YES, YES, YES. I rarely see trans romance written this well. I’m so grateful there’s more and more of it that I can get into my greedy little paws. Mirror books (the books I can see myself in) are so hard to find, and so very precious. I also really enjoyed it that the story wasn’t even remotely ABOUT him being trans. He’s trans, it’s fact, the story is about something else (and wow, what an amazing ride it was)!

On page rep of a bi/pansexual guy: I read the love-interest character, Liam as being bi, which makes him a bi guy with on page rep, another thing that I loved a lot. I can’t pinpoint a line that made me think he is bi, and it’s possible he’s gay instead, but either way, he’s wonderful. (I have a huge crush on Liam, too.)

It’s dark: The younger the characters, the darker the book has to be to rope me in. This book would technically fall under New Adult (the main characters are in their early 20s) and it’s extremely dark and delicious. I adored it.

It’s deliciously sexy: Yes, I’m ace (asexual) but I’m also autochorisexual, so I LOVE to read/write about sex. There’s a lot of hot, plot-driven, slightly kinky sex in Darkling. More please!

Things I had a problem with (and why this is a four-point-five-star review instead of a five-star, the writing and story are definitely five-star quality, even in my VERY persnickety opinion.

No safe sex discussion: I’m a former sexuality educator, I’m kinky, pansexual, polyamorous, and I write both erotic romance and erotica.

I had to dock a fantastic story with excellent writing half a review star because there was NO discussion of safe sex anywhere. Nothing about contraception (Ryder uses what I believe are testosterone shots, but it’s not discussed with Liam as anything other than a painful shot, and trans men can still become pregnant on testosterone therapy.)

There is nothing about STD protection, they don’t use condoms, or dams, or finger cots, so yeah. It lost half a star on this point alone, because that stuff is IMPORTANT.

When we write sex, we need to keep things like this in mind. The first place a LOT of people first encounter sex, (safe sex, consensual sex, kinky sex, ANY sex) is in written form. We as authors have a responsibility to be aware of that. We ALL need to be writing safe sex into stories that need it. The lack of discussion completely threw me out of enjoying the story.

Which stories need it? All of them. Unless there is an on-page reason for it not to be needed (IE: Some SFF stories have species that are immune to STDs/are sterile) if that’s stated somewhere, fine, safe sex talk not needed.

Historical and fairy-tale retelling fantasy type stories have a LITTLE wiggle room on this, but it should still be there because our ancestors knew about STDs, avoided them as much as we do, and condoms and sheaths were invented well before the 18th century, we have some records saying they went back to Egyptian times. So I’d still like to see it in historical.

In a contemporary book of ANY kind, there needs to be a safe sex discussion ON PAGE, or there needs to be mention that a safe sex discussion HAS OCCURRED between the lovers. In speculative fiction like paranormal? You could probably even come up with a reason it wouldn’t be needed, but then the reason needs to be stated.

Now. In Darkling, the two main characters have been friends for two years, so maybe they knew one another’s status, but *I* don’t discuss that with my friends as a matter of course, it just doesn’t come up, and the way the relationship is presented (friends to lovers) makes me disbelieve that they would’ve known. GETTING TESTED IS SEXY, have your characters talk about it.

I still really loved the book and I do HIGHLY recommend it. 🙂

SCORES

Readability: 5/5 star-1586412_1920 I’ve been ill, so haven’t been as easily beguiled by reading as I usually would have been with a book of this caliber. I fell in love with Ryder by the end of chapter one, and usually, I would’ve ripped through this book in a sitting. Instead, I lapped it up slowly, like good chocolate. It’s excellent.

ARCS: 5/5 star-1586412_1920 Story arc, plot arc, relationship arc, they’re all believable, well written and wonderful, my only complaint is that I wish the story had been longer! I hope the author has more to come.

Craft: 4/5 star-1586412_1920 Fantastic, evocative writing. Excellent editing, on par with other NineStar Press titles. Pacing was perfect, the plot drove the sex (something that not all erotic romance can boast of) and the only issue I had was lack of on-page STD/contraception discussion (with no spec fic/SFF reason to preclude its necessity).

Do give this book a read, it’s well worth the purchase price. A coffee costs more.

Buy from the publisher if you’re buying an e-copy, the author and publisher get more money that way, meaning they can keep bringing you more amazing books.

Amazon

Goodreads

Social media, New followers, Reviews and related STUFF.

You can tell, based on how chatty I’ve been lately on both my blog and social media that I’m stalled on drafting my WIP.

I’ll get back there when life calms down a little bit more.

I need to say a few things that might be of use to peeps, given the increased numbers of new followers who’ve found me lately.

I’ll be brief (fine, I’ll try, don’t hold your breath).

A) I don’t habitually follow back. I’ve dealt with A LOT of harassment, mostly through Twitter, but also through facebook and my blog. I don’t even check my notifications for who has followed me or unfollowed me anymore.

I do check to see if a mutual *we both follow one another* unfollows, but as for new follows? I don’t even look.

Two reasons, I gain/lose upwards of 20 new followers daily, so I’d be a lot more swamped than I already am keeping up with social media if I auto-followed.

If you are someone who needs a follow back to feel okay with a relationship with me, I can’t really promise that? I respond to almost all @s on Twitter (unless I miss the notification, I hang in my mentions, not all-notifications, so I usually do see them) emails, etc, but I get it if that’s not enough for people.

The best way to get my attention is to talk at me a lot.

Like… a LOT. If, over time I feel we click, then I may eventually follow back.

I might not though. Because secondarily, I try to keep the numbers of accounts I follow lower because my feed is an absolute mess. I don’t see the peeps I want to see and talk with if I have too many peeps I follow. I tend to go through and do a semi-regular clean out of inactive accounts and people I haven’t connected with on a social sense as well. If I have to ask myself who the hell you are? You probably have an unfollow coming, even if we’re mutuals.

B) It used to really hurt me if a mutual unfollowed me. These days, if we haven’t connected in a social sense, godspeed and I wish you well. It’s really okay. You can go on and not have anything to do with me. I will unfollow you though. I’m not in this for a numbers game.

My one addendum on that is that if you’re an author, and we’ve been mutuals, I can promise I won’t be pushing your work anymore, nor will I be buying. There’s a bit of a professional give and take with an author/author relationship.

I’ll also notice if I’m the only one pushing your work, and you’re not pushing mine. I have a varied reading palate, not everyone does, so I get it, but if you want ME to be helping push your work, you gotta scratch my back, too. (lolz, doesn’t apply to super famous authors that I adore. I’m just thrilled y’all are following and talking to me, that’s more for authors who are around my same level of publication history. Though if we’ve been mutuals and suddenly we’re not, I’ll probably stop buying your books. Only cause it hurt me that that happened, and I probably didn’t understand the why.)

Just the way I’m wired. I’m contrary, I own it.

C) Please Please Please don’t @ me on twitter with your books unless I ASK for a link. It’s not quite a blocking offense, but I REALLY don’t like it.

I’m contrary by nature, so the second you do that? I can almost guarantee I won’t be reading it.

Same goes for sending me an email and asking me to pimp your book on my blog/buy your book to read for review.

Really people? No. Just no. Firstly, I think this probably violates spamming laws.

Secondly (and I’m not talking a review request, that’s a completely different animal) I’m not made of money. 99.9% of the books I read are ARC copies or from the library. I can’t afford to buy books by authors I KNOW I love. Why in the world would people think that I’m going to spend money on their books, just so I can review them? I don’t get it.

That’s not how reviewing works.

The way reviewing works is that you send me the book for free, AFTER asking if I might be interested in it, and AFTER reading my review policy to make sure it’s fine by you.

You don’t ask me to buy your book so I can review it. Nope.

Lolz, yes, this happens, A LOT.

You might be surprised at how often that happens.

Finally, if you’ve in any way been responsible for harassing me? (Subtweeting counts, especially if you’ve used my name or description, because you know? That actually IS legally harassment) you can consider yourself blocked and blacklisted FOREVER (or until you apologize).

Since most people who end up harassing me are doing it through an ableist lense, welp, I figure I’ll be in my grave before they confront their ableism and apologize for fucking up.

But, that’s really neither here nor there.

So that’s my social media update in a nutshell.

Guess I was long winded after all.

 

A reaction to The Last Jedi, from a die hard SW fan who hated Rogue One.

TL;DR is…

I fucking loved it so hard. You hate Frumplestiltskin, the GOP, and maybe even rich peeps?

See it, IN THEATRE.

Spoiler free review.

I’m not going to go into detail. I don’t usually review movies, I bitch about or laud them on twitter instead.

I reviewed Rogue One, but only cause I loathed it with every fiber of my being.

S’okay, you can disagree with me and I can judge your taste until the end-point of my being.

Lolz, we can still be friends. You’ll just get a side-eye from me about the movie, is all. (Seriously, my best friend completely adores it, we just look at each other weird about it.)

That review can be found here. I wasn’t kind, or nice, the movie was shite.

I’m someone who grew up on these movies, (I’m old, seriously, these movies were my childhood, I’m utterly unreasonable about them. I don’t CARE).

There’s a format to them.

You can scoff all you want at me but I’m actually an editor in real life, like, it’s my JOB to do this stuff.

Rogue one failed on pretty much every aspect except that it was sorta… not really… not even close… to being Star Wars Shaped.

It failed the format, it failed the canon, it failed everything, including the fucking romance.

Blech.

I’m thinking of torturing myself through it again, since it’s on netflix, to see if it was REALLY as bad as I thought. Preeeeety sure it was.

I’m a masochist. Don’t sue me, I’m broke.

The Last Jedi? I was actually terrified to go see it, because R1 made me hate Star Wars. People who LOVED R1 kinda made me look at the fandom in a WTAF sorta way.

Shrugs.

I had edits for The Last Jedi, if you know me AT ALL you know I’ve got edits on EVERYTHING. Including life.

The Last Jedi didn’t disappoint. I loved it. I loved every aspect of it.

I cried, I sobbed. I just. THAT IS STAR WARS!!!

THAT is what people who kept saying in 2016 that R1 ‘was the movie they needed to see’ (with regards to the resistance and a message of hope and the election and gahhhh)… nope.

No.

The Last Jedi carried that message, and then some.

Choice, Action, Consequences, Results, Lives lived on the edge, Heroic Sacrifice, Balance between light/dark, Space Battles, HOPE AGAINST THE DARK.

Yeah. THAT is Star Wars.

Also, I really want a Vulptex, (crystal fox) ridden by a Porg, followed by a Fathier, cause OMFG SQUEEEEEEE!

Okay. Stopping now. So I don’t spoil it. I loved it. It brought Star Wars back to me.

And after the godsfucked year a queer, autistic, mixed-race, pagan, expat American has had in 2017?

I needed THAT movie.

Go on now.

See it.

 

 

 

New Book Review: WALKING ON WATER by Matthew J. Metzger

LGBTQIA+, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling (Little Mermaid)

WalkingonWater-f

BLURB

When a cloud falls to earth, Calla sets out to find what lies beyond the sky. Father says there’s nothing, but Calla knows better. Something killed that cloud; someone brought it down.

Raised on legends of fabled skymen, Calla never expected them to be real, much less save one from drowning—and lose her heart to him. Who are the men who walk on water? And how can such strange creatures be so beautiful?

Infatuated and intrigued, Calla rises out of her world in pursuit of a skyman who doesn’t even speak her language. Above the waves lies more than princes and politics. Above the sky awaits the discovery of who Calla was always meant to be. But what if it also means never going home again?

REVIEW

Read it. Hie thee hence to a place to buy this book (ideally the publisher) and READ IT NOW.

I’m picky AF about books, those that I give an unreserved five-star score to and want to leap up and down on the top of a building for? Yeah. They’re GOOD.

I’d like to say I’m without words at how wonderful this book is, but it’s honestly just that I have SO MANY positive words about it that I’m having trouble expressing myself.

This book wrecked me in all the best ways possible.

It made me curse the author, it made me so flipping MAD, I cried, sniffly sort of crying and the ugly sobbing sort of crying. I laughed, snickered, and snorted a few times too, and at the end? I hugged my tablet to my chest and I’ve been walking around with the goofiest grin on my face since.

I loved it so much.

Even if reading it did make me forget to eat two meals and I forgot to drink my tea.

It gave me many things I didn’t know I needed to see on-page until I read them.

Trans rep– there is a whole chapter about one of the MCs that so clearly echoes exactly how I feel about my physical form some days that I cried to read it. I needed that. I needed a happy ever after kind of story for a trans person who had to choose not to be in contact with their family because of not being loved for who I am. I needed this book so very much and I didn’t know HOW MUCH I needed it until I read it.

Ace rep– I’m a sex-positive ace, but it’s rare as hen’s teeth to find ace rep of any kind, (thank goodness this is changing) and seeing the way the author deals with a sex-repulsed ace was still healing to me because she was there, on page, and her needs were respected and met. (There IS sex in this book, on page, erotic sex, but it’s not for the ace side character.)

Pain rep/cane use– I have chronic pain and use a cane and the way pain is handled in this book is so accurate, it’s perfect. (It’s pain from an injury, but the way the MC deals with it is true to my experience.)

Fat positivity Fat characters are also spoken of in a positive light. I liked that too.

Bisexual representation!– On page bisexual representation. Bisexual GUY on page rep and the story isn’t ABOUT being bi, they just are. Love to see that.

World building- Very gritty, realistic historical fantasy type world building.

The story itself and the author’s voice is enveloping, powerful, beautiful, and lyrical.

I especially enjoyed the unique descriptive qualities to the characters, unusual choices of words can be so lovely if used well.

In dual PoV books, it can be hard to nail the two different character voices, the author nailed it in this one. I loved the very different feeling to each of the two PoV MCs, side characters were as well developed and written as the MCs.

I want more books out in the world like this and I want it now.

Content warning on graphic battle scenes, graphic shape change scenes. (I loved them, but I love gore in book/movies.)

Content warning on a (very few, I wasn’t counting, but like three, I think) usages of ableist language for self-labeling.

SCORES

Readability: 5 of 5 star-1586412_1920 Though I pre-ordered this book, I waited to read it until I knew I’d have time to finish in one sitting. I’d heard it was really good, and I know what I’m like with a good book. I wasn’t wrong, life pulled me away the first two times I tried to read this (over the past two days) but I managed to read from about chapter 3 to the end today and OMG. What a freaking amazing ride. This is not the kind of book that you’ll be able to read just a chapter a night, it’s just that great.

Arcs: 5 of 5 star-1586412_1920 It’s a little mermaid retelling, so I knew sort of what would happen, the author stuck true to the tale as far as the details, but brought a completely unique and fresh perspective to it. The tension leading up to the first turning point and then again to the climax were so masterfully done that my heart was in my throat in both places. The climax itself had me cussing out the author. SERIOUSLY. YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO BREAK MY HEART. But I’m glad you did, cause you sewed it up again, better.

Craft: 5 of 5 star-1586412_1920  I need more stars for rating Ninestarpress’s books. I caught ONE typo, that’s it. I would’ve liked to see a little less passive voice, but there were really only maybe four sentences I caught it in that could’ve been more strongly worded (and as y’all know, passive voice is my Achilles heel in reading (writing too) so I have an unreasoning hatred for it. Four sentences of passive voice is far and away better than anything big 5 is putting out these days (barring some few authors who I will sell a kidney to buy their work if needed). This book is excellent, and it’s one I’m so happy I bought and own cause it’s definitely going to go into the re-read often pile. I might even buy a second bound-copy, because I want one.

Go on now, I wouldn’t steer you wrong, go buy the thing!

Remember if you buy directly from the publisher, the pub and author both get more money so the can keep bringing you more books.

Ninestar Press 

Amazon

Don’t forget to review! Reviews sell books for authors. 🙂

Add it to your TBR on Goodreads here.

As an extra, Matthew was kind enough to give me a character interview for one of my favorite side characters, Doktor Karl Hauser, you can read that here.