“Unlocked” by Courtney Milan

28 Aug

UnlockedBona, a fellow TBR Challenge participant, posted a review of this story over a year ago, on her blog. As I mentioned here, her review led me to–finally–reading this story.

Which in turn, leads me to a confession: I do have a few Courtney Milan stories in the digital TBR.

But, I hear you say, aren’t you the one singing Ms Milan’s praises and telling us how wonderful her writing is?

Yes, yes, I am one of the many who do these things–because pretty much everything I’ve read of hers, I’ve liked very well indeed.

However, well before I fell into the dreaded reading slump from hell, almost two years ago (dear dog, shoot me now!), I already had accumulated scarily ginormous TBR mountain ranges (both print and digital), so really, it’s not surprising some of Ms Milan’s stories had gotten lost in the shuffle there.

Be warned: there are people in love and sexytimes in here, so if you don’t care to read about either, you may want to stop reading here. You may also keep in mind that this story deals with the aftermath of bullying.

“Unlocked” by Courtney Milan

This story is set in the same ‘universe’ as the Turner brothers stories, and it’s about a fairly minor secondary character introduced in Unveiled, the first novel.

While this story is definitely shorter than, say, Proof of Seduction or Trade Me, it didn’t read like a novella. By which I mean, despite the lower word count, the pacing and structure of the story allowed me to believe in the characters’ feelings about themselves and each other, and how these changed over time.

Here, have a blurb:

A perpetual wallflower destined for spinsterhood, Lady Elaine Warren is resigned to her position in society. So when Evan Carlton, the powerful, popular Earl of Westfeld, singles her out upon his return to England, she knows what it means. Her former tormenter is up to his old tricks, and she’s his intended victim. This time, though, the earl is going to discover that wallflowers can fight back.

Evan has come to regret his cruel, callow past. At first, he only wants to make up for past wrongs. But when Elaine throws his initial apology in his face, he finds himself wanting more. And this time, what torments him might be love…

Continue reading

Advertisements

Making lists, checking them twice.

27 Aug

This post has existed in draft form for…well, yikes, almost two full years. Something came to light yesterday, that made me come back to it. And you, lucky readers, get to read my thoughts.

As I’ve mentioned before here and elsewhere, I do have a list of authors who, in my opinion, behave badly.¹  And, since my time, emotional labor, energy, and money, are limited, I quite simply refuse to even try their work. It’s still, at least in this small area, a free country.

By the same token, I have a much, much, much longer list of incredible people who are authors who will always get my support.

Continue reading

Did you know…? (Women’s pain, once more)

20 Aug

(Originally posted to the Community section of MyMedia)

(Please see note at the end)

Who here knew that men can be diagnosed with–and die from–breast cancer?

Oh, you didn’t. Well, it’s true.

It is a hell of a lot less common than prostrate cancer, but it happens. It has also had some pretty visible crusaders among famous/celebrity women, and it’s seen often as a blameless illness: it’s in the genes, so if anyone in your family had it at some point, it’s not your ‘fault’ you got it.

But, what about vulvodynia or vaginismus?

First, who is just hearing about these for the first time right now?

Yeah, thought so.

Continue reading

“River of Teeth” by Sarah Gailey

19 Aug

Last year I became aware of Sarah Gailey on twitter (see here and here). Though I haven’t shared them here, I have very much enjoyed her pieces on Tor.com (she wrote a whole series on The Women of Harry Potter, starting with Hermione, and then there’s “In Defense of Villaineses”, and “Do Better: Sexual Violence in SFF”).

Anyway, I finally snagged a copy of “River of Teeth,”  her debut novella, based on something that really almost happened. (Check out The Atavist piece that was the inspiration, or this Wired article for a summary.)

Beware: there’s violence, gore and death on the page. I wouldn’t say it’s lavishly described, but it’s graphic. Oh, and this is not a romance.

“River of Teeth” by Sarah Gailey

This is an alternative history set in the 1890s. In this timeline, H.R.23621 (aka, the Hippo Bill) actually passed, so that hippopotamuses were imported into the US to breed–for meat–in the marshy areas of the Gulf Coast. However, shit happens (doesn’t it always?) and what we have now a body of water where feral hippos roam, a blight on the country and a danger to both the environment and the populace.

Here, have a blurb:
Continue reading

Vanguard, by Ann Aguirre

17 Aug

Please be advised: back in 2009, I was Ms Aguirre’s virtual assistant, for about ten months. I was also one of the first beta readers for Razorland, the manuscript that became Enclave, the first novel set in this world.

Despite how much I like Ms Aguirre’s work, I have not reviewed any of the novels in the series, or anything else by her written or published after 2008, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Given that said relationship, as well as my beta reading any of her work, ended about eight years ago, I decided I would review this novel, no matter what. Keep in mind that we are still friendly online.

I was lucky to get an ARC about three weeks ago; I really wanted to publish this review on release day, but…well, you know what happens to plans.

Caveat: there is some violence on the page, as well as violence in most of the characters’ past.

Vanguard, by Ann Aguirre

This story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is recovering from, basically, a zombie plague. (Except these are not truly zombies.)

If you have not read the Razorland books, you will definitely have questions about what happened before, especially because there are repeated references to past events, by pretty much all characters. You will also have questions because the world is presented with very little background explanation. It’s not hard to extrapolate and come up with your own conclusions as to what brought the world to this point, but if you truly want all the whys and wherefores, you will end up reading the rest of the series.

Which is pretty damned good, so it’s a win-win.

If you are a fan of the Razorland series, you should know that this is not the beginning of a second trilogy; it is not even a direct continuation of the original trilogy. You should also know that Vanguard is told in third person, from three deep points of view. This is Tegan’s story–one I had very much hoped to read since meeting her in the ruins, during the events narrated in Enclave.

Oh, alright; it’s also about Szarok and Morrow, but the best parts are about Tegan.

Here, have a blurb:
Continue reading

Collective racial violence in the US

15 Aug

This is a collection of resources on the long and terrible history of racial violence against blacks in the US. Originally a twitter thread, starting here, by Professor Walter D Greason. I have added a couple more links, for specific instances mentioned by other people, as I’ve remembered them.

There is a lot–A LOT–of deeply disturbing imagery in these links and videos. This is what white people have done to black people in this country, without remorse–indeed, feeling morally justified and protected by law–for centuries.

(Note: I’m including some links at the end, regarding racial violence toward other groups)

I will continue to update this as I learn more.

Continue reading

“Every (fetus’) life is sacred”

13 Aug

(Originally posted to the Communty section of MyMedia)

(Please see update note at the end)

In the great abortion debate, a couple of things are usually omitted by the “every fetus’ life is sacred!”* brigade.

For one, cis-men can–and do–impregnate people with uteri and walk away with zero consequences, all the time.

Yes, yes, yes; people who give birth can demand paternity tests and whatever, and go to court, and spend YEARS trying to get some child support from those cis-men. A hell of a lot of the time, fathers shrug their financial (and emotional) responsibilities off, and go on their merry way.

And you know what? No one ever says to cis-men of any age, “Abortion is murder, stop having sex!” while all over the place, cis-men will snark at people with uteri, “if you don’t want to get pregnant, stop having sex, you slut!”

Continue reading