Category: Books

Book Talk: Labyrinth Lost

Posted April 4, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: Labyrinth LostLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1
Pages: 324

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation...and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...

Labyrinth Lost is just absolutely gorgeous. It’s fast-paced, lush, gripping… I read it through in about a single sitting. I loved Los Lagos and that one twist. That one twist, OMG! (You’ll know it when you get to it. I loved the way that upended my emotions.)

I loved Alex and Rishi. Nova… a little less. I did appreciate that the narrative didn’t read like much of a love triangle to me and yet still managed to very clearly convey that Alex is bisexual. (Just maybe not biromantic.) Watching Alex grow into her own and come to accept her powers (with the help of her family) was great. Watching Rishi just dash after her friend and attempt to help was wonderful too. I loved the background story of Los Lagos and the way Córdova plays with myths and legends whilst keeping the narrative firmly rooted in its Latinx inspirations and its setting.

Alex and Rishi are just precious together. They’re adorable and I loved that we got to see so much of them together. I wasn’t expecting Rishi to play as big a part as she did and I loved that. I also loved how important family was to Alex and the narrative as a whole.

It was just a really great read and I’m looking forward to the next book!

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Asexuality in R.J. Anderson’s Quicksilver

Posted April 1, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Miscellaneous, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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4,469 words of moar literary essayage, including quotes, end notes and works cited. I should probably stop calling them not-essays at some point.

Asexuality in R.J. Anderson’s Quicksilver

In 2013, shortly after I discovered asexuality, one book jumped out at me: Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson. Anderson spoke frequently and prominently about the asexual representation in the narrative during interviews and blog posts. At the time, though it stood out to me, I never picked it up because the first book, Ultraviolet, didn’t appeal to me at all and, in time, I forgot it existed.

Until recently when I decided to look more closely at asexual representation in traditionally published books. This brief essay will look at the way that Anderson included asexual representation in the narrative of Quicksilver and discuss the ways in which Anderson avoids or attempts to avoid certain common pitfalls when writers, especially those who are allosexual[1], include asexual representation.

First, a brief note: I highly, highly recommend readers interested in reading Quicksilver start with Ultraviolet. The narrative frequently alludes to events in Ultraviolet so it can be read as a standalone, but it takes about 3/4ths of the book before those events are truly clear to readers who haven’t read Ultraviolet.

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Book Talk: The Tea Master and the Detective

Posted March 25, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: The Tea Master and the DetectiveThe Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard
Pages: 96

Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appareance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood.

A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow's Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study. When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow's Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow's Child with her.

As they dig deep into the victim's past, The Shadow's Child realises that the investigation points to Long Chau's own murky past…and, ultimately, to the dark and unbearable void that lies between the stars…

Also by this author: In Morningstar's Shadow, Of Books, and Earth, and Courtship, Servant of the Underworld

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Book Talk: Not Otherwise Specified

Posted March 18, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: Not Otherwise SpecifiedNot Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
Pages: 305

From the award-winning author of Break and Teeth comes a raw and honest exploration of complicated identities in a novel about a girl living on the fringe of every fringe group in her small town.

Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere—until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca might be Etta’s salvation…but can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?

CW: eating disorder, bullying, bimisia (called out)

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Book Talk: Failure to Communicate

Posted March 15, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: Failure to CommunicateFailure to Communicate by Kaia Sønderby
Series: Xandri Corelel #1
Pages: 395

As one of the only remaining autistics in the universe, Xandri Corelel has faced a lot of hardship, and she's earned her place as the head of Xeno-Liaisons aboard the first contact ship Carpathia. But her skill at negotiating with alien species is about to be put to the ultimate test.

The Anmerilli, a notoriously reticent and xenophobic people, have invented a powerful weapon that will irrevocably change the face of space combat. Now the Starsystems Alliance has called in Xandri and the crew of the Carpathia to mediate. The Alliance won't risk the weapon falling into enemy hands, and if Xandri can't bring the Anmerilli into the fold, the consequences will be dire.

Amidst sabotage, assassination attempts, and rampant cronyism, Xandri struggles to convince the doubtful and ornery Anmerilli. Worse, she's beginning to suspect that not everyone on her side is really working to make the alliance a success. As tensions rise and tempers threaten to boil over, Xandri must focus all her energy into understanding the one species that has always been beyond her: her own.

CW: Ablism (called out), abuse

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Book Talk: Recovery

Posted March 4, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: RecoveryRecovery by Amy Rae Durreson
Series: Reawakening #3
Pages: 370

Resistance, exile, plague. Raif has survived them all, but now he finds himself in search of a new purpose. Traveling north to wake the dragon Arden, he hopes he has finally found a leader worthy of his loyalty, but Arden turns out to be more of a frivolous annoyance than an almighty spirit lord. Now bound to Arden’s side despite his frustration, Raif follows the dragon to the rich and influential lagoon city of Aliann, chasing rumors of the Shadow that once cursed his homeland.

With the election of a new duke at stake, Raif struggles to make sense of the challenges he meets in Aliann: a conspiracy of nixies and pirates, selkie refugees in desperate need of a champion, a monster that devours souls, a flirtatious pirate prince, and a machine that could change the world. For nothing in the city of masks is what it seems, from the new friends Raif makes to the dragon he follows—or even himself.

Also in this series: Reawakening, Resistance
Also by this author: Reawakening, The Court of Lightning, Gaudete

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Book Talk: Beneath the Sugar Sky

Posted February 7, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: Beneath the Sugar SkyBeneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children #3
Pages: 176

Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third book in McGuire's Wayward Children series, returns to Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children in a standalone contemporary fantasy for fans of all ages. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the "real" world.

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can't let Reality get in the way of her quest - not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can't find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn't have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests...

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

Warning: May contain nuts.

Also in this series: Every Heart a Doorway
Also by this author: Every Heart a Doorway

A friend of mine sent me their ARC copy of Beneath the Sugar Sky because I’d expressed an interest in reading it. My interest largely stems from the promise that we’d get to see a little more of Nancy and the Halls of the Dead, but the book would have caught my interest anyway. It just sounds like a lot of fun.

CW: Fatmisia (that gets called out repeatedly), amisia, suicide

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In Stillness: The Perception of Asexuality in Seanan McGuire’s “Every Heart a Doorway”

Posted February 1, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Miscellaneous, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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It’s here! I’ve finally polished up the draft version of my In Stillness essay and am officially sharing it with the world. :O Prepare yourself because this is 4,970 words long minus quotations, end notes and works cited list. With, it’s about 5,837.

In Stillness:

The Perception of Asexuality in Seanan McGuire’s “Every Heart a Doorway”

Before August 2016, I had never read a story with a character who explicitly identified as asexual. It is tempting to say that, before that time, I had never read any character like me before. This is not true. I’d read several stories with asexually-coded (ace-coded) characters before then[1], but August 2016 marked the month when I first read a story featuring a character who explicitly used the label to describe herself.

That character was Nancy from Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire and until I read that novella I did not truly understand why I too needed labels in fiction, why I too needed to see such blunt visibility and recognition. Every Heart a Doorway was published on May 10th, 2016 and has gone on to be nominated for (and sometimes winning) several major awards. To date, it has won the 2016 Nebulas, the 2017 Locus Awards, and the 2016 Hugo Awards, and it was one of the books named on the Tiptree Honors list in part for its portrayal of Nancy’s asexuality.

Being published by a respected traditional publisher, written by a well-known and popular queer SFF author and explicitly including a discussion of the definition of asexuality has seen Every Heart a Doorway rise to prominence as one of the major books included on recommendations lists featuring asexual characters. Arguably, it has gone on to become the poster recommendation for asexual representation within fiction.

As a reader on the asexual spectrum, I was initially delighted by the narrative that McGuire wrote. I was dazzled by the fact that here, for the first time that I could recall, there was a character written specifically and deliberately to mirror my experiences. It wasn’t a complete match, but it was close enough to hit home. It also, deliberately, called out some of the most harmful stereotypes regarding asexuality that I have seen and experienced. That, more than anything, is what I fell in love with the first time I read it.

When I reread it for the Hugo Award nominations in the spring of 2017, however, my experience was markedly different and I found the amisia[2] in the central premise almost unbearable. Nancy’s personal storyline revolves around her desire to return to the Halls of the Dead, the portal world that she visited, loved and wants to return to with all her heart. While the narrative is aware of its amisia on a surface level, this essay will show that once one looks below that surface the story actually perpetuates the very ideas that it so strongly attempts to deny.

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Book Talk: No More Heroes

Posted January 29, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: No More HeroesNo More Heroes by Michelle Kan
Pages: 279

The peaceful nights are kept under the clandestine and watchful eye of young, gifted vigilantes the world over. But a sudden rash of vigilante deaths heralds the arrival of a new and unfamiliar enemy - one whose motive is as unclear as their identity. Someone or something seems determined to disturb the peace, and they're going straight for the watchmen to do it. In a city where those who are gifted make up their own rules, who will step forward when the threat of a swift end is real and there stands so little to gain?

No More Heroes is an urban fantasy action/adventure novel about young would-be heroes who get more than they bargained for when they delve deeper into a world they never knew they were a part of. Featuring a diverse cast of players, discord, a mystery to be solved, plenty of literary action and high-stakes battles, No More Heroes is a story about self-belief and camaraderie, persistence in the face of trials, and what it means to be the best version of yourself.

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Livetweeting William Elliot Griffis’ Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folk

Posted January 5, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Way back at the beginning of December 2017, I started a livetweet of a book I’d found on Project Gutenberg called Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks by William Elliot Griffis, an American. I was looking for a collection or an anthology to help a friend with a project and, well, I stumbled across that and I was curious. Do not make my mistakes.

I got about 5 stories in before deciding that I had to do a livetweet of the experience. And it is an experience because these stories are terrible. It’s not that Dutch fairy tales are inherently terrible – they are few, but there are some nice ones – but that Griffis just… isn’t a good storyteller and, sometimes, doesn’t know what he’s talking about to such an extent that I was left seriously doubting whether he’s not just made at least half of these stories up himself.

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