Ace Recs: 3 Science Fiction Books with Asexual Characters

Posted December 10, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Ace Recs: 3 Science Fiction Books with Asexual Characters

As is undoubtedly no surprise to anyone who’s heard of me, I really really love giving recommendations for books featuring asexual characters. As a reader and writer on the asexual spectrum, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen plenty of recommendations lists that are about asexual characters or that include asexual characters that repeat the same books over and over. Indeed, I’ve seen recommendations lists that explicitly stated that the handful of books the writer managed to find was all the asexual fiction out there. Considering it was missing several easy-to-find well-known and traditionally published books by respected authors… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

But it is true that, for many readers, books with asexual characters in them are difficult to find. Many aren’t readily available in bookstores even when they’re pretty popular and well-respected. When I was in Cambridge, I saw displays of several books nominated for the Hugo Awards because they were nominated for the Hugo Awards, but Every Heart a Doorway? Couldn’t find a single copy anywhere. Not on display and not on the shelves. They didn’t stock it. And I wish I could say it was just one bookstore, but it was every major chain I visited. Likewise, in libraries you’ll have more luck finding books featuring asexual characters if you already know the titles before you enter. In both cases, you’ll probably have to ask the staff to order a copy specifically, so venturing into bookshops or libraries and hoping to find books featuring asexual characters just isn’t likely to happen.

Especially in combination with the way recommendation lists for books with asexual representation are usually styled, this difficulty to find books if you don’t already know they exist feeds into a negative spiral where recommendations lists repeat the same books over and over with the same note that this is all there is or this is all the writer could find. Yet there is so much more available to readers…

This is a series that aims to present small lists of books featuring asexual characters with some brief personal commentary on the books. Each list consists of 3 books centred around a single, relatively broad theme. While, sadly, I have had to restrict my recommendations lists to 3 books instead of the more usual 5 found in recommendations lists, each list does consist of 3 unique books. There are no repeats of titles in this series of recommendation posts. This series consists of 10 posts for a total of 30 books featuring asexual characters in various roles.

Unless otherwise noted, assume that books mentioned either seem to assume all asexuals are aromantic or that they’ll erase aromanticism altogether.

I hope you’ll find something terrific to read in these lists! Most all categories have more than three books I could put there, but as I mentioned I only had space for a handful of books or stories. If you’d like to see even more of then, check out Claudie Arseneault’s database of aromantic and asexual (speculative) fiction, which features many more books starring asexual characters!

This week’s theme is…

3 Science Fiction Books with Asexual Characters

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Book Talk: 27 Hours

Posted December 8, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: 27 Hours27 Hours by Tristina Wright
Series: Nightside Saga #1
Pages: 387

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she's in love with her best friend, Dahlia. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother's shadow, and to unlearn his colony's darkest secret.

To save everyone they love, they'll both have to commit treason.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, these four runaways must stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, or the things they fear most will be all that's left.

So… 27 Hours by Tristina Wright. It’s made quite a splash in the online YA circles I frequent for a couple of reasons, notably its positive queer representation and its problematic race representation.

I picked the book up specifically so I could familiarise myself with the asexual representation and here we are. If you’d like a detailed discussion of the race relationships and the problematic nature of the portrayal, this review will give you a lot of details on what to expect. I strongly recommend reading it.

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Book Talk: The King’s Name

Posted December 7, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: The King’s NameThe King's Peace by Jo Walton
Series: Tir Tanagiri #1
Pages: 548

Sulien ap Gwien is seventeen years old when the Jarnish invasion begins, and strong enough to match any one of their raiders in battle. But when they do come, she finds herself unarmed and at their mercy. As she watches her attackers walk away from where she lies bound, she vows revenge.

With the land around her disintegrating and no help forthcoming, Sulien rides out in search of King Urdo, a young ruler fighting to create unity in a country where there is none.

What follows is the beginning of an alliance that will shape the course of history in Tir Tanagiri as well as the rest of Sulien's life.

(Note: 2,531 words including quotations of surprise!book discussion. Let me know if this is an approach or format you’d like to see more of!)

The King’s Peace by Jo Walton is actually a reread for me. I first read it in, so my records tell me, 2013, which will have been right around the time I heard about asexuality for the very first time and when a lot of what is happening in this book will have resonated in a vague inexplicable way. Now, I’ve been rereading it for a variety of reasons, but notably the part where it’s frequently cited as being a mainstream publication with an asexual (aromantic asexual, actually) protagonist.

It is, hands-down, one of the best books I’ve read for aro and ace rep to date. This includes the indie books that include explicit and deliberate representation that don’t require me to put a TW for rape on the book and lack the insinuation that the character is (aro)ace because of the resulting trauma. (Point of note: I don’t think the book is saying that. I do think it is very easy to miss that the book isn’t actually saying that.)

As such, this will not be the usual kind of review for me. I want to try and do something new. See how we all like it when I do something a little, um, different from the way I usually tackle reviewing. There will be spoilers.

TW: Rape, mention of rape, religious zealotry (including but not restricted to forced conversions and discussions about the same), dealing with the emotional fall-out of both rape, becoming pregnant through rape and also coming face to face with one’s abuser and being forced to be in the same general area as said rapist. Also depictions of PTSD.

I’m probably missing stuff. This is a book of which 90% or so takes place during a war in a country just starting to see the emergence of a new (and powerful) religion, so… Basically: if you need warnings for anything related to that topic, assume this book comes with said warning.

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Ace Recs: 3 Books with Asexual Characters Associated with Death

Posted December 3, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Ace Recs: 3 Books with Asexual Characters Associated with Death

As is undoubtedly no surprise to anyone who’s heard of me, I really really love giving recommendations for books featuring asexual characters. As a reader and writer on the asexual spectrum, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen plenty of recommendations lists that are about asexual characters or that include asexual characters that repeat the same books over and over. Indeed, I’ve seen recommendations lists that explicitly stated that the handful of books the writer managed to find was all the asexual fiction out there. Considering it was missing several easy-to-find well-known and traditionally published books by respected authors… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

But it is true that, for many readers, books with asexual characters in them are difficult to find. Many aren’t readily available in bookstores even when they’re pretty popular and well-respected. When I was in Cambridge, I saw displays of several books nominated for the Hugo Awards because they were nominated for the Hugo Awards, but Every Heart a Doorway? Couldn’t find a single copy anywhere. Not on display and not on the shelves. They didn’t stock it. And I wish I could say it was just one bookstore, but it was every major chain I visited. Likewise, in libraries you’ll have more luck finding books featuring asexual characters if you already know the titles before you enter. In both cases, you’ll probably have to ask the staff to order a copy specifically, so venturing into bookshops or libraries and hoping to find books featuring asexual characters just isn’t likely to happen.

Especially in combination with the way recommendation lists for books with asexual representation are usually styled, this difficulty to find books if you don’t already know they exist feeds into a negative spiral where recommendations lists repeat the same books over and over with the same note that this is all there is or this is all the writer could find. Yet there is so much more available to readers…

This is a series that aims to present small lists of books featuring asexual characters with some brief personal commentary on the books. Please note this does not equal endorsement. The aim is to introduce you to books you might find interesting, not books I think you must absolutely read. Each list consists of 3 books centred around a single, relatively broad theme. While, sadly, I have had to restrict my recommendations lists to 3 books instead of the more usual 5 found in recommendations lists, each list does consist of 3 unique books. There are no repeats of titles in this series of recommendation posts. This series consists of 10 posts for a total of 30 books featuring asexual characters in various roles.

Unless otherwise noted, assume that books mentioned either seem to assume all asexuals are aromantic or that they’ll erase aromanticism altogether.

I hope you’ll find something terrific to read in these lists! Most all categories have more than three books I could put there, but as I mentioned I only had space for a handful of books or stories. If you’d like to see even more of then, check out Claudie Arseneault’s database of aromantic and asexual (speculative) fiction, which features many more books starring asexual characters!

This week’s theme is…

3 Books with Asexual Characters Associated with Death

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Book Talk: All Note Long

Posted December 1, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: All Note LongAll Note Long by Annabeth Albert
Series: Perfect Harmony #3
Pages: 232

Giving true love a spin . . .

Michelin Moses is a country music star on the rise. With a hit single under his Texas-sized belt buckle and a sold-out concert tour underway, his childhood dreams of making it big are finally coming true. But there’s one thing missing—a promise to his dying mother that he’d find it—him—when the time was right. With a little luck, he won’t have to wait too long . . .

Lucky Ramirez is a hunky boy toy who dances at The Broom Closet, one of West Hollywood’s hottest gay bars. He loves what he does, and he’s good at it—almost as good as he is at playing dumb when he spots Michelin Moses at the bar. What happens next is off the charts—and keeps Michelin coming back for more. He’s just not sure it’s the right move for his career. But if Lucky gets his way, Michelin will get Lucky—and no matter how the media spins it, neither of them will be faking it . . .

All Note Long by Annabeth Albert. This book. Oh, this book. I picked it up because it promised to have (explicit) demisexual representation. Also I’m a sucker for books about music. Less so dancing, but the combination? Oh, yes.

TW: All the homomisia. There are some slurs early on and some disparaging comments about sex workers and Michelin has a ton of internalised homomisia to work through. There are some moments of racism and there are some additional homomisic characters and scenes on account of dealing with a big, openly gay country singer performing in conservative areas of the US.

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Book Talk: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

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

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Book Talk: Daughter of Smoke and BoneDaughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Pages: 433

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance.

On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family.

Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is the first book in a bestselling trilogy that… I have studiously been avoiding because I don’t usually get along well with bestselling books, except then I learned that it was supposed to have asexual representation in the shape of Liraz and… Yeah. Onto the TBR pile it went!

CW: Slutshaming

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Book Talk: Extraction

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

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Book Talk: ExtractionExtraction by B R Sanders
Series: A Tale of Rebellion #1
Pages: 244

“There is no justice in convenience.”

Rethnali, a newly-minted captain in the long-standing and brutal elvish rebellion, wants to do more than keep her soldiers alive. She wants to turn the tide of the war for her people. When her old captain and mentor, Li, shows up at her camp with orders to go deep into enemy territory, she may have the opportunity to do just that.

But as Rethnali’s mission unfolds, she realizes that she is just a pawn in a larger game. While she tries to protect her soldiers, she forced to decide the course of her future and the future of the elvish rebellion itself. This is a story of lives shaped by hard choices and unforeseen consequences.

Extraction by B R Sanders is the first book in the A Tale of Rebellion series and set in the same world as Rebellion and Ariah. If you’ve read Rebellion, you’ll encounter a few familiar characters, though most of the narrative follows other characters and you don’t have to have read it in order to read Extraction.

B is a fellow Kraken Collective author, but I have done my best to account for any resulting bias. I received a copy for review, though I’m a little late with actually reviewing it compared to when I’d wanted to review it. My apologies.

Trigger warnings: Death, suicidal ideation, racism, war, dubious consent and addiction.

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Book Talk: Storm Rising

Posted November 22, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: Storm RisingStorm Rising by Becca Lusher
Series: Dragonlands #2
Pages: 409

Trouble stirs in the Dragonlands and Elder Khennik kin Blazeborn seems trapped at the very heart of it. After a disastrous stay with the Stormdrake kin, it’s time for the human delegation to visit the Skystorm Clan, yet their welcome is less friendly than anticipated.

Whispers and accusations fly, but something is definitely not right inside the Clan. And with the Dragon Moot fast approaching, can the Rift Riders and dragons sort things out swiftly enough to save the Khennik from another catastrophe?

The Cloud Curse is changing – but is anyone willing to listen to reason? Or will politics and arrogance combine to bring down all the kins and Clans for good?

Also in this series: Blazing Dawn, A Courtship of Dragons
Also by this author: Orion's Kiss, Sing to Me, Unbound & Free

Storm Rising by Becca Lusher is the second book in the Dragonlands series and it picks up more or less after the first book leaves off. It’s not necessary to read A Courtship of Dragons, though I do recommend it because I remember the romance between Estenarven and Mastekh being very subtle and it may be surprising to dive into book 2 if you skip it.

In Storm Rising we finally make it to the moot that the group was headed to and… well, if you thought things were bad with Ushara, they’re about to get a lot worse as we learn more about how the Cloud Curse works and just how deep the rifts in dragon society have really gone. On top of that, Nera and the other Riders are, of course, bound to get into more trouble because when have they ever managed to stay out of trouble?

It’s taken me a while to pick this up, unfortunately, and for once my memory failed me more than I wanted it to. Becca recaps some of the events of what happened in Blazing Dawn, if only because it’s plot relevant to do so, but the recaps are just that: plot relevant and, as a result, sparse. It works, don’t get me wrong, but I would have enjoyed the book far more had I had the first one more clearly in my mind still. I definitely recommend reading the books close together for maximum impact. It is, after all, technically one long narrative. It just happens to be broken up into several novels.

Still, I loved it, though. Storm Rising doesn’t read as much like a romance narrative as Blazing Dawn does and that was, if I recall, my main issue with that book: it set up expectations that just didn’t happen. Storm Rising doesn’t. It’s set firmly as an epic high fantasy adventure narrative and it shows from the way the banter and games everyone plays work together to tie into the narrative. There is Becca’s trademark banter, yes! And games! So, so many games. Because, clearly, no one’s learned from the last time dragons, Riders and myrhils played together.

There’s a joy and a love of life in this story that just warmed my heart and that can be lacking from other narratives that focus on a journey with a group of people. (I’m looking at you, Lord of the Rings.) The book is pretty much non-stop action, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t breathers. It’s just… different kinds of action to help balance everything.

I loved this book and I’m eagerly awaiting book 3, where I suspect strands will start to fall together even more strongly than they did here. And the Rift Riders series? Well, the two series are interwoven with one another and I’m really eager to follow Becca’s publication schedule for them because the guessing games about how the two relate are just far too much fun. (Also you get to meet Rhiddyl as both a baby and a young dragon and that’s delightful.)

Definitely highly recommended. I loved this book and this series. I just want to snuggle in them and soar happily over the clouds with Nera and Teka. Or Mhysra and Cumulo for the Wingborn books. But ideally Nera and Teka. They’re just such a delight (and the books and narrative aren’t quite as dark).

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Book Talk: The White Renegade

Posted November 15, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: The White RenegadeThe White Renegade by Claudie Arseneault
Series: Viral Airwaves #0.5
Pages: 105

Between bisexuality and albinism, Seraphin always felt like an outsider in his own town. He finally finds companionship in Alex, an agender and aromantic teenager who interns over the summer. With them he learns to trust himself and his instincts. It leads Seraphin to leave his town and join the army invading his country, but when his squad is ordered to raid his hometown, Seraphin finds his new life may come at the price of his old.

Also in this series: Viral Airwaves
Also by this author: Viral Airwaves, City of Strife, City of Betrayal

The White Renegade by Claudie Arseneault is a prequel novella to Viral Airwaves. It details how Seraphin wound up leading the resistance, his relationship with Alex (which was briefly mentioned in Viral Airwaves), and, perhaps most importantly of all, exactly why he killed Hans Vermen’s brother.

TW: war crimes, violence, ableism and misgendering

So! Let’s get to it! If you enjoyed Seraphin and wanted to know more about him and his motives, this is a must-read. This takes a look at a younger, more idealistic Seraphin and how he sets down the road for who he is in Viral Airwaves. It’s a story that is, at times, a sweet one, as Seraphin and Alex bond together and form a friendship with one another. It’s also a story that is utterly horrifying in places due to the fact that this also covers what is, effectively, a war crime, made all the more personal due to Seraphin’s pov on events.

Personally, I also really enjoyed the little touches of cultural differences between the north and the south of Regaria, discussing some of the reasons for the initial rebellion (which, I want to note, Seraphin is against for reasons and oh it is heartbreaking to watch his idealism take hits like that). Seriously, when this story isn’t sweet and adorable because Seraphin and Alex, it is heartrendingly sad, especially if you’ve already read Viral Airwaves and know how everything is going to fall out.

I do think it’s not quite as strong as Viral Airwaves, largely because while I enjoyed the cultural differences mentioned in this story I would have enjoyed it even more if we’d had a longer chance to meet Seraphin’s culture and family before everything went to hell in a handbasket because we would’ve had a much stronger connection to this time in Seraphin’s life and to the way the narrative impacts his belief system.

Also it would’ve meant more Alex and more Alex can never be a bad thing. Alex is awesome. <3 Have I mentioned yet that Alex is also aromantic? Because they are. And it gets discussed! (Well, a little. It is THE BEST. <3) And just. Seraphin and Alex’s relationship is really lovely to see. It’s not a perfect relationship and I heart that. It’s a little bit clumsy with two queer teens fumbling along and figuring out relationship boundaries together. They make mistakes and work to fix them together. It’s a delightful thing to read.

In any case, The White Renegade stands on its own perfectly well, so whether you want to use it as an introduction into the world of Viral Airwaves or just aren’t yet ready to say goodbye to the world, it’ll serve you well. It’s a quick, mostly fun read. (There are mass graves, okay? That whole sequence isn’t supposed to be fun to read and it succeeds. A little too well. *shudders*) And hey if you’re looking for more queer rep, especially explicit queer rep, give this a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. <3

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Book Talk: The Lifeline Signal

Posted November 8, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: The Lifeline SignalThe Lifeline Signal by RoAnna Sylver
Series: Chameleon Moon #2
Pages: 454

Parole is still burning. And now the day everyone has been waiting for is finally here: it’s collapsed. A lucky few managed to escape with their lives. But while their city burned, the world outside suffered its own devastating disaster. The Tartarus Zone is a deadly wasteland a thousand miles wide, filled with toxic storms, ghostly horrors, and just as many Eyes in the Sky as ever. Somehow, this new nightmare is connected to Parole. And it’s spreading. Now Parole’s only hope lies in the hands of three teenagers reunited by their long-lost friend Gabriel - in their dreams. Growing up outside Parole, Shiloh Cole always had to keep xir energetic powers a secret, except from xir parents, Parole’s strategist-hero Garrett, and Tartarus expert Maureen. When Parole collapsed, all contact was lost. Now, connected by Gabriel and their colliding pasts, xie joins collapse survivor Annie and the enigmatic, charismatic Chance on a desperate cross-country race, carrying a disc of xir mother’s vital plans, whose encrypted contents may be Parole’s salvation. First they’ll board the FireRunner, a ship full of familiar faces that now sails through Tartarus’ poison storms. Together, they’ll survive Tartarus’ hazards, send a lifeline to lost Parole - and uncover the mystery connecting every one of them. The world outside Parole isn't the one they remember, and it didn’t want them back. But they'll save it just the same. It's what heroes do.

Also in this series: Chameleon Moon
Also by this author: Chameleon Moon, Stake Sauce Arc 1, But Not Up Here (Poems About Remembering In Neon)

The Lifeline Signal by RoAnna Sylver is the second book in the Chameleon Moon set. As the book covers a wholly new set of protagonists, you can read it without having read the first book.

I’m half-tempted to recommend it because The Lifeline Signal answers many of my questions about the clarity of the place Parole has in the world at large that I had left at the end of Chameleon Moon (and, while I understand why that book doesn’t provide these answers, I still feel I needed them to fully appreciate what RoAnna is doing with the dystopian aspects of the story).

On the other hand, knowing what happened in Chameleon Moon will help masses in understanding the relationships and dynamics between a lot of the side-characters in this book because, like with Chameleon Moon, our main protagonist is, by and large, working with limited information and in the week or so that this story takes place in there’s precious little time for anyone to catch xem up on literally years worth of relationships between everyone around xie.

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