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.

 

 

 

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

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

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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.

 

A reaction to reading TO SIRI WITH LOVE from an #actuallyautistic author.

You know. I started reading that horrific book as a bit of a whim, thinking it wouldn’t be that bad.

I’m the autistic mom of autistic kids, my husband is autistic, we value and appreciate our children and ourselves in pretty much every particular. Are there challenges? Absolutely. But they aren’t anything that neurotypicals don’t deal with, we just deal with them differently.

Usually by communication. We use text a lot with each other, because a lot of times it’s far easier to type or sign than it is to talk.

The point isn’t how we use adaptive technology to make our lives run smoothly, the point is that we communicate.

So I honestly, to the soul of me, didn’t understand how a mother could write and publish a book that would be anything except a joyful celebration of her child’s uniqueness.

I had hoped, foolishly, I guess, that the screenshots of the book I’d seen before reading it had somehow been… not so much taken out of context, but perhaps were just… I don’t even know, overblown maybe?

I didn’t understand how a mother could think those things about her brilliant child.

And never for a moment did I think, reading about Gus, that he’s anything less than brilliant.

He’s so smart I have a feeling he’s manipulating his mom because of how she so very clearly infantilizes him and shows overweening favoritism to his twin Henry, who is also autistic.

Though obviously, neither the author nor Henry know this. Henry shows all the markers of autism, he just presents differently.

We ALL present differently. Which is part of why autism is so hard for most people to recognize when they see it, and that absolutely includes so-called professionals (most of whom are neurotypical) in the field of diagnosis.

It’s a common reaction for autistics when we are abused by ABA practices (to learn to manipulate) especially if ABA therapies are impinged upon us by parents who believe the revolting bullshit that Auti$m $peaks tends to tout.

We learn to do everything in our power to protect ourselves, because we don’t have any choice.

This author… the things she does to both of her sons. It’s utterly appalling.

I can’t, even still, after reading that atrocity… I still can’t believe that a mother could write those things about her kids!

I can’t believe she’d share such personal things about her KNOWN autistic son, without his permission.

Without his knowledge.

Medical information, daydreams about having a ‘normal’ Gus… I just…

Reading that book broke something in me. It really did. It broke a faith I had that neurotypical society didn’t really hate me and the way I’m made.

And a couple of days after reading it and posting my review, I’m still shaken by it. I’m recovering, but it’ll take a week or more to regain my emotional equilibrium.

The outpouring of love and support I’ve received from the autistic community and a large number of neurotypical people have restored my faith in most of humanity.

“Autism parents”, however? They’re on my shit-list for life.

You can read my full review here, with links to the live-tweet threads I did as I broke it down, chapter by chapter.

If you want to know about the experience of being autistic, the hashtags #actuallyautistic and #askanautistic are far better resources than pretty much anything else I can think of.

 

Atypical

I’m apparently a masochist. (Why, yes, I actually did know that.) Because I just tried to watch the Netflix show Atypical.

I’m autistic, so are my kids.

My choosing to watch that show may possibly have been one of the most painful things I’ve ever inflicted upon myself (and considering I’m a recovered cutter, that’s rather saying a LOT.)

Breaking down the thought process that led me to that… I was annoyed that a show I liked (Musketeers shhhh, it was trash, but it was fun trash w/hot people in cool clothes and it didn’t irritate me too badly) had wrapped at three seasons.

AND I heard today that Atypical got renewed.

AND I saw some ppl in a facebook group I’m part of lauding what a wonderful show it was and how glad they were that it was renewed.

AND I’m sick with something flu-like and I can’t sleep.

AND I’m rather massively and perpetually annoyed at Netflix for constantly canceling diverse shows I adore. (Musketeers was a BBC and/or creator decision, not Netflix, SENSE8, Marco Polo and The Get Down was Netflix and I’m still sore about that.)

I still pay for the service for two reasons, 1) My kids like the cartoons and it’s better than letting them watch youtube vids when I need 30 seconds of peace. 2) I’m waiting on the Sense8 series finale.

Frankly? After that? If Netflix doesn’t clean up their game I’m out. It feels like they’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what will stick, then when they find something that people love (like any of the above mentioned shows) they pull it for whatever reasons they have. I’m betting on cis-allo-het-white supremacy by the people who run the joint, but hey. I’m annoyed at Netflix.

The first episode of Atypical (all I managed to get through) lasted 40 minutes. I did a thread on it for my twitter peeps.

It felt like a lot longer, and I think it took me three hours to get through with the number of comments I had about it. I will NOT be going back. I have no idea how any autist managed to get through it, though I’m pretty sure several have.

I’m left with the feeling that if that’s what most neurotypical peeps think of us? There’s no way on the goddesses green earth that you’ll ever understand us.

Because you don’t even try.

A mutual on twitter who is also autistic reached out and shared their threads, in case you’d like to see someone else’s opinion. Share with authors permission.

April is MUCH stronger than I am. I don’t even want to watch it for the coded autistic sister.

A general opinion thread on the show

 

Author Spotlight & Interview LEIGH M. LORIEN author of JIGS AND REELS

 

I’m pleased to kick off my series of authorial interviews with my friend Leigh who has a book out this week!

I loved JIGS & REELS, it’s a sweet, sexy m/m romance novella. It has voice that leaps off the page and grabs the reader by the throat. I’m picky, and I loved it at beta reading stage, the version I bought is going to be even better. 🙂

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I sent Leigh a list of nosy parker questions and here’s what she said.

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  • What do you write? Queer romance. Meaning I don’t just write cisgender/allosexual characters. I have asexual, aromantic, transgender, and nonbinary characters in the works.
  • Why do you write it? Because I can’t not. Because the world is diverse and I am queer and why shouldn’t I write it? I write because I don’t know how to stop, and there is a community—to which I belong—that desperately needs to see themselves in stories. I’m asexual, but I didn’t realize it until I was 26 or 27. I’ve never seen an asexual character in anything mainstream, and even in indie/not mainstream things, I had to go hunting to find asexual representation. I wonder how different the past ten years of my life could have been if I’d known about asexuality when I was in high school. So I want to help put more queer characters out there, because we need it. (woo, getting deep on the second question)
  • Where do you write? I usually write on my laptop, in bed. This often results in waking up at 2am and realizing I wrote 12 pages of the letter f. Woops.
  • How long have you been writing? I started writing as soon as I could physically write letters and words—I made Sonic the Hedgehog story books when I was 4 or 5 years old—but I developed the habit of writing when I was eleven. I discovered Dragonball Z one weekend, and then, on a four-hour car trip later that same week, I wrote a Dragonball Z fanfiction by hand on a legal pad in the back of my dad’s car. So I have been writing consistently for over 15 years, but I think I’ve been a writer/storyteller since I was a toddler.
  • When did you first realize you wanted to be an author? This is an odd question for me, because I’ve been writing for a long time, but I’ve never actually considered myself an author or taken my writing seriously. It was a hobby, something I do to blow off steam, something I do because the ideas keep popping into my head and I have no way to get them out if I don’t write. About a year ago, I was thinking about picking up a hobby that I could make money from (crafts or something) when I suddenly realized I already have that hobby. And thus began my pursuit of publication.
  • What do you enjoy most about the writing process? – The brainstorming. Coming up with ideas is so much more fun than molding them into things that make sense and stringing them together in a coherent plot. Nothing quite equals the excitement I feel when I’m coming up with new ideas, talking ideas over with other people—hell, I like to talk about/brainstorm other peoples’ ideas as much as I like to talk about my own.
  • Where do you find inspiration? Books, TV, music, movies, real life. My ideas start with the vaguest concept sometimes—an emotion I want to capture, a single line of a song, the dynamic between two people having a conversation in the grocery store, a picture of beautiful scenery. I can’t even do yard work without thinking up ideas for stories.
  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I like gardening, hiking, photography, running, and anything that involves cute animals.
  • How many books have you written, and which is your favorite? Why? If you count first drafts, I’ve written five. How many of those will see the light of day remains to be determined. My favorite is probably the one I’m currently revising, which is a contemporary romance with BDSM and an asexual character. The characters bond over steak dinner and a conversation about Star Trek on their first date. I’ve poured a lot of myself into this book.
  • Do you have any advice to other writers/authors? Don’t compare yourself to other writers! It’s not a competition. I know it’s tempting to compare your accomplishments to other peoples’, but don’t. The only person you should compare yourself to, is you. As long as you’re still moving forward, no matter how fast or slow, you’re doing just fine.
  • What do you think makes a good story? Likeable characters. I can let plot holes and worldbuilding issues slip under the radar as long as I’m wrapped up in the characters’ emotions and struggles.
  • As a kid, what did you want to do when you grew up? As a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I love animals. As an adult, I realized I don’t have the constitution for that line of work. I’ll stick to adopting too many pets and pay someone else to handle the boo-boos and icky stuff.
  • Do you read a lot? What are your favorite genres? I don’t read as much as I should, but I love urban fantasy, science fiction, crime/mystery, and romance.
  • Where did your love of books/writing come from? I can thank my mother for that. My mother read to me when I was little. She read me a lot of Dr. Seuss, which she enjoys, and she enjoyed reading it to me, so I think I just naturally learned to associate books with joy and fun. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love books.
  • Who are some of your favorite authors who you feel have been most influential to your writing?I can’t point fingers at the authors who got me started on romance, because I blame fanfiction for that, but I can point fingers at some who influenced how I write. When I first started writing around age eleven, my voice was influenced by Douglas Adams and Lemony Snicket. More recently, it’s Jim Butcher and Kevin Hearne. That kind of dry, dark, sarcastic, witty humor… except way more queer than any of the above. 😀

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Blurb & Excerpt:

LENGTH: 18,020 words
RATING: flame rating 3

Elijah works in a cubicle, lives with his parents, and never goes on dates. It isn’t an exciting life, but it’s safe and easy and that’s good enough.

Then he meets Peter, a whirlwind of a man who leads a traveling renaissance band. Peter represents everything Eli usually avoids, but his boisterous enthusiasm is infectious… and his band needs a fiddle player.

When Eli agrees to fill in for a weekend, he awakens a part of himself he thought long gone. With Peter’s help, he shakes off the dust that has settled on his soul and remembers how to have fun.

But when the band asks him to join them permanently, is Eli’s newborn sense of adventure — and insane crush on a man he barely knows — enough to make him leave the safety of a life he’s clung to for years?

EXCERPT:

“Wait, what?” My heartrate spiked and I swallowed against a sudden wave of nausea. No one had mentioned this before. Morrison’s? We hadn’t practiced Morrison’s. I knew the tune, but man, I was not prepared for this. The past few days were really pushing the limits of my spontaneity for the week. Month. Hell, I hadn’t been this spontaneous in years. Seeing my anxiety, Peter caught my shaky hand as I reached for a bottle of water. My eyes widened and I glanced around, but everyone else had better things to do than watch my every move.

“Hey,” he said softly, and brought my hand to his lips for a kiss, like an old-fashioned gentleman. “You’ll be great. You know these songs, you’ve been on stage before, nothing is different.”

“No?” I said in a choked whisper. He wasn’t letting go of my hand. His skin was soft, smooth as silk, warm, and dry. Well, it had been dry before he’d grabbed my sweaty mitt. “I don’t know you guys at all. I’m going to fuck up, I’m going to miss a cue or, or, play a song too fast or too slow or get up there and forget how to play everything I’ve ever learned. I’m going to be too stiff, people are going to look at me and think I’m a zombie or something, some kind of weird fiddle-playing corpse, an animatronic fiddler. I don’t move around much, that was something Toby always told me, too. My ex … band leader. Toby. He got on my case, said if I was going to be so still I might as well just sit in a chair for all the more entertaining I was on stage. I have no stage presence. I just –”

Soft fingers touched my lips. He didn’t put any pressure on me, but the mere presence of the touch made me shut up. “Shh,” Peter cooed. He met my eyes and smiled, but it wasn’t an impish, teasing smile this time. It was gentle and earnest. “You’re not going to forget those songs.” The fingers brushed back along my cheek until he cupped my jaw in his palm, thumb coming to rest on my lower lip. Why was I just standing there like an idiot? Do something! Those bright eyes had me hypnotized. I couldn’t have pulled away if I’d wanted to.

And I didn’t want to. It had been way too long since I’d had affection. Hell, even if it had just been last week, I figured Peter would have been able to entrance me. He just had that energy about him, that insane, hell bent for leather, bright-eyed confidence like he could go out the door one day intending to get the newspaper and end up taking over the world. Katie had a similar sort of energy. I was drawn to it like a stupid moth to a lamp. And, much like a stupid moth, I could not actually obtain that energy for myself. I just bounced around it until it became too much to handle and I dropped.

“We’ve had two fiddlers since we got together, and a couple other temp stand-in members,” Peter said, still holding my hand, still caressing my lip with his thumb. “We’re used to adjusting to new members, but I don’t foresee it being an issue. You and I click, musically. You pick up on cues like a pro.”

“Well,” I said, my voice matching his soft timbre, “you’re not exactly subtle.”

Peter laughed. “No time in life for pussy-footing around.” He let go of my hand and brought his other hand up to cup my other cheek, holding my face. He was taller than me, I realized. Not much, but just enough that I noticed when he tipped my face up towards his. He didn’t lean in though, just kept smiling. “What kind of cues are you picking up on right now?”

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New Book Review: ASSASSIN’S FATE by Robin Hobb

Dark Adult Fantasy

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BLURB

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The stunning conclusion to Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool trilogy, which began with Fool’s Assassin and Fool’s Quest

“Every new Robin Hobb novel is a cause for celebration. Along with millions of her other fans, I delight in every visit to the Six Duchies, the Rain Wilds, and the Out Islands, and can’t wait to see where she’ll take me next.”—George R. R. Martin 

More than twenty years ago, the first epic fantasy novel featuring FitzChivalry Farseer and his mysterious, often maddening friend the Fool struck like a bolt of brilliant lightning. Now New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb brings to a momentous close the third trilogy featuring these beloved characters in a novel of unsurpassed artistry that is sure to endure as one of the great masterworks of the genre.

Fitz’s young daughter, Bee, has been kidnapped by the Servants, a secret society whose members not only dream of possible futures but use their prophecies to add to their wealth and influence. Bee plays a crucial part in these dreams—but just what part remains uncertain.

As Bee is dragged by her sadistic captors across half the world, Fitz and the Fool, believing her dead, embark on a mission of revenge that will take them to the distant island where the Servants reside—a place the Fool once called home and later called prison. It was a hell the Fool escaped, maimed and blinded, swearing never to return.

For all his injuries, however, the Fool is not as helpless as he seems. He is a dreamer too, able to shape the future. And though Fitz is no longer the peerless assassin of his youth, he remains a man to be reckoned with—deadly with blades and poison, and adept in Farseer magic. And their goal is simple: to make sure not a single Servant survives their scourge.


REVIEW

First, I’ve been reading this series since not long after it first came out. Fantasy has always been my first and most enduring love. You do have to read the series to understand this book.

The blurb calls this a stunning conclusion to the series.

It’s right.

Robin Hobb is one of the very few (Less than five now) established authors I still auto-buy. Price of books and my anemic book buying cash and all. But I always buy the books about Fitz.

I bought this one release week and I’ll be completely honest, I had trouble getting into it. Passive voice. It’s my Achilles heel in reading and it will always throw me out of the story. So when I first picked up this story, hoping to escape, it irritated me enough to put it down when I caught several instances of passive voice in the first few pages.

I’m glad I finally got around to picking it back up again.

Man, when it finally grabbed me by the throat it pinned me down and held me almost unable to breathe for an entire weekend.

By that I mean I got NONE of my chores done, my hubs brought me dinner because I kept forgetting to eat and I forgot to make coffee one day because I was SO ENTHRALLED by the story. COFFEE people, I forgot COFFEE!

Now. I read fast, but this book is almost 900 pages long, I started it late at night on Friday and just finished it. A little before midnight on Sunday.

I didn’t do much of ANYTHING except read all weekend because I had to know what happened to Fitz and Beloved.

Had to.

It’s really good. I cried. A lot. Ugly, messy, cry, and I’m still content with how the story ended. I wish it hadn’t HAD to, because these were the only characters by this author that I connect with, but it’s still a fantastic conclusion. Even though my heart aches.

I’ll miss these characters, miss looking forward to new books with them. Badly. Sadly, Bee doesn’t do it for me as a character.

Somehow, I had also missed that Beloved is gender-fluid throughout the whole series, and though they aren’t named that way, it’s quite clear when I think about it. I suppose I could be coding it, but I really doubt it. Probably one of reasons I’ve loved these books, and reread them so many times for so many years.

I will say: Content Warning on a deliberate mis-gendering by Fitz for Beloved. That stung a bit to read. It worked for the characters, story, and world though, so it’s not a complaint. Just a warning.

SCORES

Readability: 5/5 star-1586412_1920 It’d be around 9 or 10 if I could rate that high on my system. I didn’t quite drop my tablet on my face, but that’s only because I’m trying to discipline myself into actually SLEEPING at night.

Arcs: 5/5 star-1586412_1920As I finished this last installment, I have to wonder if Ms. Hobb had this entire series planned from the get go. The series arcs, relationship arcs, and multiple trilogy arcs are so masterfully done. SO well done. It’s amazing. Truly.

Craft: 4/5: star-1586412_1920 I wish I could give it a full on five-star rating, but I did have trouble getting into it because of the passive voice. I found a couple of sections dragging and would’ve advised the author cut a few scenes to speed pacing. Still loved the book and the sheer scope of this story… it’s freaking phenomenal. Hobb carries well her laurels of being one of the best fantasists in the genre.

 

 

New book review: MASK OF SHADOWS by Linsey Miller

Dark, Young Adult Fantasy, Gender Fluid main character, LGBTQIA+

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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BLURB

Perfect for fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, the first book in this new duology features a compelling gender fluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action.

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

REVIEW

I don’t read a lot of YA because it has to be so dark it pretty much isn’t meant for younger kids for me to enjoy it.

This book did not disappoint. It’s upper YA, the main character is in their late teens and they grew up hard, an orphan from a war. They’re a thief who becomes an assassin. PERFECT.

I first asked for the book from Netgalley when I heard through Twitter that it had a gender fluid main character.

Being non-binary and the parent of someone I think is likely to decide they’re enby too, I couldn’t click on the request link fast enough.

The voice in this lifts up off the pages and grabs you from page one. I fell in love with the MC, Sal, by page three and by chapter three the book had hooked me good and hard.

It doesn’t feel like a debut novel. (Though, as an author/editor/publisher, I know most debuts aren’t the author’s first book.)

It felt so amazing to see a gender fluid character being accepted for who they are. Not a lot of fuss or muss about it. I even loved Sal’s prickliness about the issue. It’s perfect.

Content Warning for a misgendering by one of the antagonists.

The story was fast paced enough to keep me flipping pages and I fell more and more under Sal’s spell the entire time I read. Nearing the 3/4 mark I once again bemoaned my inability to draw well enough to capture my ideas because there is a scene between Sal and the love interest Elise that I want to draw soooo badly.

I’ll just have to wait until someone more talented than me does so.

I just loved this book so much. I love it enough that I’m preordering a hardcover copy for my DD, who I have a feeling will be enby when xie figures xyrself out.

Side characters are real and well developed with their own clear motivations and lives. Quirks that bring them to life. The auditions chilled my blood and made me need to know what would happen next.

I will critique it a bit here though because I do feel, from an editorial standpoint, that it could have been deepened better with more physical description of the characters, things like facial expressions, how their bodies are positioned within the rooms. The assassination and battle scenes are fantastic, some of the more passive scenes needed a bit more depth.

I craved more backstory of the world (because I loved it so much). It wasn’t needed but I do like very richly detailed stories and I wanted a bit more detail. Grounding the scenes in the five senses would have made me feel the story more.

I’d also say that adding beats to lead into scene breaks would be helpful. It felt a little jumpy from one place to the next, almost retconned at the end. A chapter detailing what happened from the end of climax chapter to beginning of denouement chapter really would have tied things together very neatly.

The climax felt rushed and little confusing, I had to actually go back and reread it to make it clear in my mind what was happening. That’s where grounding the scenes really could have helped more because I shouldn’t have to go back and reread to keep track of what was going on.

I also really should’ve FELT the sadness of what happened. I didn’t, which made me sad. Gah, reviewing without spoilers is hard.

Leave it at this, something bad happens, and I didn’t feel the bad as much as I should’ve. With what happened, I really should’ve had an aching chest from Sal’s responses, and I didn’t. I wanted more of that.

I had a few issues with the likelihood of the lead in to the next book, as well. It just doesn’t make sense that what happened, could’ve happened in a palace with guards and what not around. It fell a little flat for me. But anyone who knows me, knows I’m incredibly picky and a gifted developmental editor, sooo… it’s just me saying, gods this is so good, but it could have been better IF.

Yes, I drive my husband nuts.

Absolutely none of my critiques ruined the book. I’m still buying one for a gift and I’ll be eagerly looking for the second book in the duology.

SCORES

Readability: 5/5 star-1586412_1920 I’m a character driven story lover, and Sal is so REAL in this book that I feel like I know them, that they could walk through my door and I could have (very carefully policed) tea with this amazing young assassin. I stayed up past my bedtime until I forced myself to put the book down.

Arcs: 4/5 star-1586412_1920 Here I’m probably being too picky. It is YA and it felt it, but what can I expect from YA? The arcs are solid for the age group. Character and story arcs are very good, romantic arc was sweet and made me go awwww, more than once. But it’s also why I don’t read a lot of YA because I always want MORE. More real, deep, gut wrenching… more visceral description, more sex… Regardless, arcs are extremely solid and well expressed for the age range.

Craft: 4/5: star-1586412_1920 Absolutely excellent leap-off-the-page-and-strangle-you-characterization. Amazing pacing. Needed beats in between scenes, needed a tie it all together chapter between climax and denouement, needed to have the scenes grounded in the five senses. Story is fantastic, page turning, and the gender fluid character is deftly handled. I caught one homonym error and a couple of uses of passive voice that the story would’ve been better served without. Other than that? It’s excellent. (Do keep in mind that ARCs are uncorrected, so the final book you get when released may not have those issues.)

Go and do the pre-order thing already! (It makes a huge difference to the author if you preorder, because then the publisher knows to put more money into marketing and that people want to read that kind of book from this author.) I promise this book is worth it.

You can pre-order from:

Amazon

Indiebound

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

You can connect with the author, Linsey Miller via her

Website

Twitter

Reviews

Yeah, yeah, we all know we need to review books.

I mean… we DO know that right?

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Backing up, just a bit in case you DON’T know.

Reviews sell books for authors. There is NOTHING you can do more to support an author (other than buying the book in the first place/asking your library to buy the book) that will help them more.

Because people read reviews, they look at the star ratings on Amazon/Goodreads/B&N etc.

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They decide whether to buy a book based on what other people have said.

Even as something as simple as I LOVED IT with a 5 star rating can help sell a book to the next person who might enjoy it. It doesn’t need to be a long paragraph on why.

Those help, of course, (if you look at the reviews section of my website, I go to great length to tell my readers why I liked/didn’t like something).

But that very fact of ‘how books get sold’ is why I RELIGIOUSLY review everything I read. Even if it’s something I didn’t like, or wasn’t a ME book.

I still review it.

As far as algorithms go on places like Amazon and Goodreads, reviews count for visibility too. The more reviews an author has on a particular book, the higher their rating on Amazon, meaning it’ll show to more people who might be looking for THAT kind of book. I assume it works the same on non-amazon sites.

But, that’s just background to what I really wanted to say.

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I wanted to say thank you.

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has left me a review, anywhere.

I read my reviews, I mean, we as authors are told we shouldn’t, but honestly? I want to know if I’ve fecked up somehow, so reading reviews is the best way to do that.

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I… don’t yet have a bad one. For which I feel incredibly fortunate.

I know… the first bad one is gonna sting like blazes.

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BUT… right now, as I’m sitting here proofing my next release, ILAVANI, for July sale, reading reviews, (some which were new to me) from my author central page, and seeing the OVERWHELMING support for my work. The sheer hunger for the kinds of things I write…

Y’all give me faith.

That what I’m doing is really needed. That my voice has worth in a world where I can’t land a publishing contract.

That my words, my work, my writing… is wanted.

That, it’s so important.

My critique partners and betas tell me they love my words. By and large they know me though, lol, my beloved CPs have the unenviable job of thumping me over the head with my own stubbornness…

I’m stubborn. Trust me on that.

Betas have the thankless job of reading something before publication… so, their words are incredibly important and I absolutely could NOT do this without my CPs and Betas.

Hearing from strangers, who have bought my book(s), read it, loved it, and then taken the time to review it for me?

That’s yet another level of gratitude.

I have so, so much gratitude for everyone who helps me in this writing journey.

I’m never going to be one of those authors who doesn’t appreciate those who read their words.

‘Cause without you all? I’d be nothing more than a writer telling stories to myself over my keyboard.

Thank you. So very much.

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Review: MIRANDA AND CALIBAN by Jacqueline Carey

*I received a free digital ARC copy from Netgalley in return for an honest review.
Dark, Young Adult, Historical Fantasy
Available Feb 14th, 2017
Available for pre-order now.
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Description
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I grinned like a maniac when my request to review this book was approved because it’s been on my must-read list since I first heard about it. I’m a die hard lover of Shakespeare and of Ms. Carey’s work, so to be able to read for review a retelling of The Tempest by one of my all time favorite authors made my day.
I stayed up ’til 4 am reading it, dropped my tablet on my face three times before finally admitting I couldn’t finish in one sitting.
Ms. Carey’s deep, lyrical style captures the relationship between young Miranda, her magus father, and the wild-boy Caliban. With elements of Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, the tale is intricate. Ms. Carey’s signature style of prose makes itself known and transports the reader to another world. A darker one where kids grow up under the aegis of power and vengeance.
In places, as the children learn one another, the story is joyful, in places it’s fearful and as they age into teens, in a time when a daughter’s duty is-by God’s will-her only righteous path… heartbreaking.
As usual with Ms. Carey’s books, I didn’t want the story to end.
When it did, my heart remained so sad. This isn’t a happily ever after type of tale, but it is beautiful, rich, dark and oh so very real.
I do hope there is more of Miranda & Caliban’s story to come. There would be room for it, in how the tale comes to a close… and I’m western enough that a sad–ending leaves me wanting.
Dare I say it? I’m thinking it… Miranda & Caliban could come to stand alongside some of my favorite tragic romances if the story continues. Considering that most of those romantic couples and moresomes are written by Ms. Carey herself, that’s not too huge of a shock. Lol, though nothing will ever top Phedre and Joscelin from Kushiel’s Legacy… these two could come close. If you like Shakespeare, Jacqueline Carey’s writing, dark fantasy with realistic twists… hie thee hence and pre-order the book.
Mild spoiler in the form of a trigger warning.
I do have some concern in that the word savage is used in regards to a dark haired, darker skinned individual, and I would have been much happier if Caliban had been blond and blue eyed with that terminology used for him. On a scale of heeby-jeebies caused by the use of the word, mine are low because there aren’t any stereotypical cultural references. He’s referred to as savage and wild-boy, which he is, in the Tarzan/Julie of the wolves sense. I can’t judge it perfectly as being stereotypical or not. I may not be experienced enough to do so, but I’d be derelict in providing an honest review if I didn’t mention that the use of that word for Caliban did give me pause.
Scores:

Readability: 5/5 stars: Readability… lol, tablet dropping on face at 4 am level of OMG I have to finish it.

Arcs: 4/5 stars: It’s harder for me to judge this one, meaning it’s getting a bit lower score. If it’s JUST this tale, and no other, if we never find out what happens after the end, the ARCs are truncated. If there is more of the story to come, as I’m dearly praying there will be, then it’s just the beginning of the series. The characters did grow from childhood to adolescence, they learned the basics of who they are and what they will do, and not do, so in that sense, the ARCs are complete enough. It’s the romantic ARC which is truncated, or maybe I’m just not happy with that part of it. (I’m a die hard romantic, I like a HEA.)

Writing Craft: 5/5 stars: My editor brain slept through the book except for two sentences which used filter words (feel… when to describe what the character was feeling would’ve been stronger). It wasn’t enough to drag me out of the story even a little.

Would I buy it for a friend?

I’d buy it for a friend who loves JC, or dark YA fantasy or dark fantasy in general.

Buy the Book!

Amazon

 

Blog Tour: SOME KIND OF MAGIC

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*I received an ARC of SOME KIND OF MAGIC in return for an honest review.

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And to be honest, I squeaked like a happy kid when my review request was approved. Seriously, through the greatness of my writer friends on writer-twitter, I’ve heard about this book for months and wanted, desperately to read it.

I’m so glad I did!

In this sparkling debut novel, Mary Ann Marlowe introduces a hapless scientist who’s swept off her feet by a rock star—but is it love or just a chemical reaction?…

Biochemist Eden Sinclair has no idea that the scent she spritzed on herself before leaving the lab is designed to enhance pheromones. Or that the cute, grungy-looking guy she meets at a gig that evening is Adam Copeland. As in the Adam Copeland international rock god and object of lust for a million women. Make that a million and one. By the time she learns the truth, she s already spent the (amazing, incredible) night in his bed

Suddenly Eden, who’s more accustomed to being set up on disastrous dates by her mom, is going out with a gorgeous celebrity who loves how down-to-earth and honest she is. But for once, Eden isn’t being honest. She can’t bear to reveal that this overpowering attraction could be nothing more than seduction by science. And the only way to know how Adam truly feels is to ditch the perfume—and risk being ditched in turn

Smart, witty, and sexy, Some Kind of Magic is an irresistibly engaging look at modern relationships why we fall, how we connect, and the courage it takes to trust in something as mysterious and unpredictable as love.

Now, you all know that I AM a scientist, in real life I’m a forensic chemist/bioanthropologist, so I was a little leery that the science wouldn’t stand up, but it didn’t make me cringe once. Yay!

The writing is crisp and clean and the sex steamy enough to keep even ME happy. You can read more of my review on my review page with my scores, but here is the meat of it.

REVIEW of SOME KIND OF MAGIC

A retelling of Love Potion No9? Sign me up!

On top of one of my favorite movies of ever being retold in prose, with a few twists, I deeply enjoyed the well-rounded, fleshed-out and very real characters of this book.

It’s hard, sometimes, as an author, to do that. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes that the reader never sees and I’m thrilled that Ms. Marlowe did it because it made me adore her characters.

I’m not a sucker for ‘rock star romance’ I mean it’s not really my thing because I don’t have a fantasy of sleeping with my favorite rock star (lol, not even Levine, who I find soooo sexy) but I loved the MC Adam in this book, his trials and issues made him well rounded and believable. I am a scientist, and the FMC Eden was represented quite well in all aspects of that, including her list of things for a mate! (hah, so true to form there, at least for me). The way she thinks makes her a highly empathetic character for me.

Ms. Marlowe’s voice leaps up off the page and grabs you by the throat, refusing to let you go until you finish the book and the sex… oh my… I don’t make any bones about loving graphic, open door sex scenes that melt my panties, and my desires (ahem) were met perfectly in this book. The sex didn’t fall into the trap of being gratuitous either, there was enough story to carry it.

The story is smart (yay for smart writing!) and well written, with few editorial issues and the pace is page turning. It even had a satisfying emotional feel to it, which not every book can do for me.

Did I forget to mention it’s funny, too? It is. One-liners, sly jokes and laugh-out-loud humor kept me smiling throughout. I needed that laughter today, and for that reason alone the book would have garnered five stars. The REST is just as good though. Highly worth reading.

I look forward to reading anything else Ms. Marlowe writes.

You can pre-order a copy of SOME KIND OF MAGIC

Review page can be found here:

REVIEW of SOME KIND OF MAGIC (the review is the same as the above, only difference on that page is the scoring)