Month: August 2017

Goal Review August 2017

Posted August 31, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Goals / 0 Comments

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Last Month's Goal

I Want to Read:

  • The Lifeline Signal by RoAnna Sylver
  • We Awaken by Calista Lynne
  • Theatre Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

I Want to Write:

  • AHoWW poems to balance out the collection
  • 10,000 words of DemiPrincess editing

Um. Well. Because the final week of August is going to be a bit busy, I think, I figured I’d write up this post a few days in advance. 😀 So I may update this briefly at a later date. As of right now, August 25th, I have failed my reading goals. I’ve read (and reviewed!) We Awaken by Calista Lynne and while I’ve read a number of other books, sadly, The Lifeline Signal and Theatre Shoes have not been among them. They will be glorious when I get to them, though!

That said, I did read a minimum of three books this month, I seem to have regained my reading enthusiasm, I have no more ARC reading obligations and I still have a few days, so I might still be able to finish both these books. It’s kind of contingent on me actually remembering to pick them up to read.

My writing goals, however, have fared a lot beter. I’ve edited up over 20,000 words on DemiPrincess this month and I’ve finished AHoWW and will be releasing it in September! WHOOT! It’s currently available for preorder, so do go and check it out if you’re so inclined. Moar ace romance fluff!

Sadly, my writing goals have now hit the snag of “This is the section that actually needs tons of work and new scenes to really function properly”, so I’ve slowed right back down. Add in that I’m still struggling to balance freelance work with writing and I’m back to crawling. T_T I WILL GET THERE, THOUGH! I CAN DO IT! I mean, I’m SO CLOSE. (Okay, no. I’m about halfway through the current word count and I expect to add a fair bit to make sure the whole story works properly before it goes off to betas and first readers and then I can add in even more stuff most like, but at least that draft should go relatively quickly and then I can finally finally finally move on to book 2 and THEN I WILL BE ON BOOK 2 AND IT WILL BE GLORIOUS and then I can do this all over again AND THEN I CAN WRITE BOOK 3 and IT WILL BE THE BEST THING EVER.)

Watch me finish, like, five other projects between now and the finishing of book 3, though…

Anyway. That has been August in terms of my goals. Other exciting things I’ve done is worked up the courage to share three whole song covers with Patrons and finally started recording videos for the Patreon. First up a quick (and terribly awkward) introduction to what I want to be doing. (Basically “record myself making book layouts to the hopeful entertainment and education of others”. And also maybe occasionally games.) I AM SO EXCITED YOU DO NOT KNOW. <3<3<3<3<3

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Book Talk: Keeper of the Dawn

Posted August 30, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: Keeper of the DawnKeeper of the Dawn by Dianna Gunn
Pages: 208

Sometimes failure is just the beginning

All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to their beloved goddess. That’s before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she has trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.

From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum—a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace. Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshiping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai's own.

Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join their sacred order. Falling in love with another initiate was not part of the plan.

Keeper of the Dawn is a tale of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope.

I… am afraid I can’t really remember how Dianna Gunn’s Keeper of the Dawn came onto my radar first. I do remember seeing that a bunch of my friends weren’t that impressed with it when they read it, so I chose to let the details sink away from memory so I could more fairly assess the novella when I read it.

This will contain spoilers!

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Book Talk: Dreamhearth

Posted August 29, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: DreamhearthDreamhearth by M.C.A. Hogarth
Series: The Dreamhealers #3
Pages: 325

Jahir and Vasiht’h have earned their licenses as xenotherapists at last, and they have their hearts set on starting their practice in one of the Alliance’s most exciting and cosmopolitan destinations: a sector starbase. But dream therapy is a revolutionary treatment modality, and as esper practictioners they will have to work hard to win the trust of their community. Not only that, but they have a deadline: if they can’t prove themselves an asset to the starbase within six months, they’ll have to leave! It’ll take hard work, compassion, and a dollop of luck to navigate the pitfalls of this challenge… but surely two such extraordinary friends can find a way to claim their dream hearth.

Also in this series: Mindtouch, Mindline
Also by this author: The Aphorisms of Kherishdar, The Worth of a Shell, Pearl in the Void

Dreamhearth is the third book in the Dreamhealers series by M.C.A. Hogarth. You can, conceivably, read it without having read Mindtouch or Mindline, but I wouldn’t recommend it as you’d be missing out on delightful worldbuilding and character-building for the main characters: Vasiht’h and Jahir.

This book picks up some time after Mindline and follows Jahir and Vasiht’h as they start to establish their practice on Starbase Veta. It’s an even quieter novel than the first two books, so if you’re looking for low-key domestic science fiction, there’s a very good chance you’ll absolutely adore this.

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Book Talk: The Cybernetic Tea Shop

Posted August 28, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: The Cybernetic Tea ShopThe Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz
Pages: 65

Clara Gutierrez is a highly-skilled technician specializing in the popular 'Raise' AI companions. Her childhood in a migrant worker family has left her uncomfortable with lingering in any one place, so she sticks around just long enough to replenish her funds before she moves on, her only constant companion Joanie, a fierce, energetic Raise hummingbird.

Sal is a fully autonomous robot, the creation of which was declared illegal ages earlier due to ethical concerns. She is older than the law, however, at best out of place in society and at worst hated. Her old master is long dead, but she continues to run the tea shop her master had owned, lost in memories of the past, slowly breaking down, and aiming to fulfill her master's dream for the shop.

When Clara stops by Sal's shop for lunch, she doesn't expect to find a real robot there, let alone one who might need her help. But as they begin to spend time together and learn more about each other, they both start to wrestle with the concept of moving on...

I admit that, despite a friend really liking this story, I still approached it with trepidation. I trust my friend’s opinions, but this story does use the “ace = robot” trope and it’s how I approach the trope in general. I’m very glad to say that I really liked it. ^_^ Just, be aware, that depending on how strongly you feel about the trope, you might not like the story.

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Livetweeting Sera Myu Starlights – Legend of the Shooting Stars

Posted August 27, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Film & TV, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Usagi tearfully holding the ginzuishou.

Here‘s the Storify of the Starlights musical, the penultimate musical of the second stage of Sera Myu musicals. It was a lot of fun. It wasn’t perfect with narrative strands kind of falling slightly to the wayside in the second half because there just wasn’t enough room to let them breathe, but I really liked the take the musical took regarding the Dark Kingdom’s revival and the strands of loyalty and betrayal running through them, as well as a slightly different angle on Beryl’s feelings about Usagi now not being solely about Endymion, but focused more strongly on the feeling that she was protecting her people and I really, really, really wish we’d had a musical focused on this version of the Silver Millennium because it sounds awesome and it made sure that everyone

But, anyway, the musical wasn’t that, but that’s okay. It was still really fun because it has all these tiny little moments that were gorgeous, like Mamoru singing to Chibichibi and introducing his (present) backstory that way or Chibimoon talking about how Usagi inspires her (despite their civilian antagonism) and in turn inspiring the Starlights (and even making them wonder who Chibimoon is and oh the juicy juicy narrative potential of that) and Chibichibi being all mysterious and lightening up scenes at exactly the right moment.

And I’m reasonably sure this musical wins “Most adorable Sera Myu song” hands-down because it was almost non-stop adorableness and upbeat cheerfulness. <3 (Also we got rid of the “Everyone is after the ginzuishou because Usagi hearts Mamoru” thing that the previous versions of the Stars arc had going for it.)

And… Yeah. I really liked this musical. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s a lot of fun and, certainly after the way the last musicals disappointed me (especially the revision), it was a very good reminder of all the things that I do love about Myu because it’s got those elements in spades.

Next week, we’re… I’m guessing from the title (The Advent of Princess Kakyuu) that we’re continuing the Starlights’ storyline that’s begun in this musical. That should be really, really fun because I’d love to see some of the storylines here explored more or tied up better, but I guess we’ll see next week!

And now we’ve only got three musicals left and I’ll be all out of old!Myu. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! T_T

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Book Talk: Lambs Can Always Become Lions

Posted August 27, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: Lambs Can Always Become LionsLambs Can Always Become Lions by Charlotte Anne Hamilton
Series: Until Lambs Become Lions #1
Pages: 142

Robin Hood, along with her group of friends, has been aiding the poor of Nottingham for four years. They have become an hindrance to the Sheriff of Nottingham, terrorising the rich lords and ladies and robbing gold right from under the Sheriff's nose.

Helping Robin from inside, and proving her most useful ally, is Lady Marian Fitzwalter.

After hearing about a special shipment coming through Sherwood - filled with gold, jewels and weapons - Marian agrees to help Robin gather information so she can ambush it. It is risky and dangerous on both sides but Marian would do anything for Robin. And Robin would do anything to feed her people.

But as the shipment draws closer and tensions rise, Robin finds herself having to decide which is more important: love or duty.

Lambs Can Always Become Lions by Charlotte Anne Hamilton is an f/f retelling of Robin Hood packed full of diversity and I wish, more than anything, that it had been a full-length novel.

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Book Talk: We Awaken

Posted August 26, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: We AwakenWe Awaken by Calista Lynne
Pages: 180

One year ago a car accident killed Victoria Dinham’s father, and now all that keeps her going is the hope of getting into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. That is, until an ethereal girl named Ashlinn visits her in her sleep claiming to be the creator of good dreams and carrying a message from her comatose brother. They meet in Victoria’s subconscious, and over time they come to care for each other. Ashlinn is secure in her asexuality, but Victoria has never heard of it. Soon, however, she realizes she too must be asexual.

On the day of Victoria’s big dance audition, her mother is unable to drive her to town so Ashlinn must turn human to help Victoria chase her dreams. While in New York City, Victoria and Ashlinn explore their affections for each other and try to understand what it means to be asexual teenagers. Unfortunately for the couple, Ashlinn cannot stay human forever, and humanity begins to suffer from not having her around to create pleasant fantasies each night.

We Awaken by Calista Lynne is a book that made it onto my radar largely because it’s developed into one of the go-to books on recommendation lists for asexuality. It’s an #ownvoices f/f paranormal romance which explicitly labels both protagonists as asexual in both the blurb and the story.

I was… really surprised by the sheer amount of acemisia in the novel, though. It gets called out immediately and I got the impression that part of Lynne’s goal in including it was to call it out and explicitly state “this is wrong and harmful”. There will be people who need that kind of representation, that level of explicit pushback with a HEA for the aces. Unfortunately, it’s the opposite of the kind of representation that I need. T_T It did a number on adult!me and it would’ve seriously harmed teen!me.

There are things it does that I really liked too! (For example: Victoria and Ashlinn get to be an actual part of society at the end of the story. No, that’s not a spoiler. It’s a romance novel.) It’s just that, overall, reading this book was not a pleasant or good experience for me and this makes me very sad.

Content Note: Acemisia, aromisia, drug abuse, death of a family member and dealing with grief, depression, implications of suicide attempts, suicide ideation, one scene of sexual assault.

This review contains massive spoilers because I quote one of the acemisic scenes that’s central to the plot.

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Book Talk: Knit One, Girl Two

Posted August 25, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: Knit One, Girl TwoKnit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman
Pages: 68

Small-batch independent yarn dyer Clara Ziegler is eager to brainstorm new color combinations--if only she could come up with ideas she likes as much as last time! When she sees Danielle Solomon's paintings of Florida wildlife by chance at a neighborhood gallery, she finds her source of inspiration. Outspoken, passionate, and complicated, Danielle herself soon proves even more captivating than her artwork...

Fluffy Jewish f/f contemporary set in the author's childhood home of South Florida.

Also by this author: The Second Mango, Climbing the Date Palm, A Harvest of Ripe Figs

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman is absolutely adorable. It’s a Jewish f/f story between a yarn dyer and an artist and if you ever need a comfort read or a fluffy pick-me-up or just a soft, warm blanket to curl up in this novella has you covered.

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Game Talk: Dream Daddy

Posted August 24, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Games, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Game Talk: Dream Daddy

It’s that time! I finally talk about something that’s not books (or Sera Myu) again! OMG! And… Okay, it probably will surprise people that what I’m talking about is a dating simulator, but come on. I think just about everyone on my Twitter timeline was/is playing it at the moment I write this and it’s easily the queerest dating sim I’ve seen and played.

Yeah, I’m not really into dating sims that much, I have to be honest. The occasional visual novel with RPG elements and romance, sure, so I do have some experience with the genre, but it’s not what I usually play. At all.

I just… saw everything having a load of fun and… Well, these are the kinds of games that I don’t really want spoiled that much, so eventually I picked it up to avoid accidentally getting spoilered.

I went into the game… Honestly, I went into it expecting not to love it as much as I saw everyone else loving it. That’s usually how hype goes with me and… I think that’s the case here too, but differently from what I’m used to. Dream Daddy is just a lot of fun and incredibly uplifting to play. I don’t love it the way that my friends seem to, but I think it makes me about as happy as them all the same.

So. Storywise. You are a single dad to an 18-year-old daughter and you’ve both moved to a new neighbourhood. A neighbourhood which just so happens to be filled with other queer single dads. And Joseph, who isn’t single, but still. You meet all these single dad and hang out and… go on dates and then commit to one and… then either you end up in relationship or… you don’t. Depending on how well you’ve played.

That’s basically it for the premise. Each dad has his own ‘theme’, as usual in dating sims, and each storyline adds to the narrative. I played through the game focusing on one dad at a time, but I recommend going through all first two dates for all the dads on your first playthrough, so you get the maximum narrative impact. (After the third you go straight to the epilogue and the game is kind enough to warn you.)

That said, it lacks some of the features that I’ve come to expect of visual novels. There’s no in-game sound control and no option to skip all previously seen dialogue. It does have a fast-forward button, but you have to pay attention to where in the dialogue you are and learn when to stop because once that new dialogue line is gone it’s gone.

The save system is quite generous, though be sure to let it save in its entirety before you do anything else. (You can and I’m pretty sure it messed up one of my saves. Not an important one, thankfully.)

Something that struck me as a really fun and unique touch in Dream Daddy were the minigames. There are a couple of minigames included in the dates, such as connect-3 or mini-golf and they’re tied intrinsically to the narrative. Sometimes, when developers include minigames it feels at a remove from the narrative, but not here. Granted, I hate minigolf in all of its incarnations, including this one (especially this one THOSE HOLES ARE EVIL), but that’s not the game’s fault.

Narrativewise… Amanda’s plot doesn’t really have that much meat to it (and, I admit, I kept reading her as several years younger than 18) once you’ve played through it once, but it’s adorable to see her relationship with her dad.

Also, can I just remind everyone that the main character is a single dad who’s what, like in his early 40s? WHEN DO YOU SEE THAT IN A GAME?! LIKE EVER. AND he’s queer and, like, if they let you choose between nonbinary pronouns that would’ve been even more awesome. Because see you get to determine what your character looks like and it becomes the standard sprite for your character in dialogue and it’s just this really nice touch and <3

And did I mention this game is diverse? I mean, you can tell from the screenshot I took of the opening screen that there’s racial diversity and bodyshape diversity and… It’s just so nice.

So let’s talk narrative! Each dad route is relatively short. If you’re careful you can probably play through each route in about 6 hours in total if not less. You get to go on three dates with each dad and… I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really feeling the romantic chemistry in most of them, so if you’re looking for an in-depth romance story you’ll probably be disappointed.

But! Personally, I don’t care. Sure, I wasn’t that sold on most of the romance (except Craig and Brian), but what I was sold on where the friendships and the smaller stories between the dads and their children. Seriously, watching Amanda bond with Daisy and watching the two of them conspire to bring their dads together was an absolute delight. Trying to understand what happened between Joseph and Mary is still keeping me busy. Craig and the MC bonding together and discovering that their friendship’s become… something else now? Precious. AND ALL THE PUNS, OMG, SO MANY TERRIBLE PUNS AND DAD JOKES AND THEY ARE FANTASTIC IN THEIR TERRIBLENESS.

And then the references to other franchises or stories (most notably, I think, the brag battle). It’s been a long time since a game made me laugh out loud, never mind as much as Dream Daddydid. There’s a self-aware humour to the story that’s really endearing (as well as groan-worthy). The art used in the game is utterly gorgeous. It’s a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s part of where it’s charm lies. It’s wholly and unapologetically itself and oh so very queer.

I would have loved to see the romantic narratives be a little longer (and rely a little less on the idea of physical attraction) and I would have loved Amanda’s narrative to have been expanded into more options (and reworked so it’d feel like an 18-year-old’s “I’m about to go to college” story not a “15-year-old discovers life lessons” that… somehow… fixes itself off-screen? Maybe? Or just address her age. That would’ve been good too.) But, despite having some quibbles and not loving it as unconditionally as my friends seem to, I think this is easily my favourite game of the year so far.

It’s soothing. It made me happy. It made me laugh and cry and it’s just… It’s honest and bubbly and earnest. I do love it. It’s a precious ray of sunshine and soft blanket-warmth and I revel in how pure and sweet it is.

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Book Talk: The Goose Girl

Posted August 23, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: The Goose GirlThe Goose Girl by Robin Gallica
Pages: 45

While en route to Princess Ava's royal wedding, Ava's maid blackmails her into trading places by revealing a terrible family secret. Shocked and confused, the newly-demoted Ava tends the palace geese alongside Konrad, a cheerful, ambitious young man who is most at home in the outdoors. And as Ava learns more about the prince she was supposed to marry, she starts to think she might be better off with the geese.

The Goose Girl came onto my radar because a friend recommended it to me both because I love the fairytale it retells and because it features a demisexual protagonist, especially an m/f romance from a queer publisher. (OMG! I think this is maybe the first time I’ve seen a queer romance publisher acknowledge that m/f romances with asexual characters are queer!) You’d better believe that book jumped straight to the top of my wishlist and I pounced when finances allowed.

You’d also better believe that, without knowing much about the author, I was wary too. I’m actually quite terrified of authors either getting it horrendously wrong or using demisexuality as a catchy buzzword. (I’m actually quite cynical in a lot of ways. Sucks, but there you are.)

And… Initially, I really liked this story despite some misgivings regarding the trans rep and the fate of the antagonist. It was sweet and cute and fairytalesque and if it wasn’t quite what I wanted, it was also a novelette in length and I’ll forgive it not giving me more in the length it had.

The way the story treated some aspects of its trans rep really bothered me, though. As I’m cisgender, there are aspects of the way the book treats its trans character that I can’t speak to, but I hope I’ll succeed in giving people enough information to make informed choices about whether they want to read it.

Content note: transmisia and hints of domestic abuse.

There will be massive spoilers.

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