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Posted by SB Sarah

Today I chat with Dr. Kecia Ali, Professor of Religion at Boston University, and author of a new book, Human in Death: Morality and Mortality in JD Robb’s Novels. We discuss what inspired her to write a book about the series, which is now 45+ books in, and what she discovered with her multiple and attentive re-reads of key novels. We talk about portrayals of ethics, family, friendship, race, women’s work, and of course violence, and we hear what she’s working on next – and of course what Dr. Ali is reading, too.

If you’re at all familiar with the In Death world, this part should not be a surprise: Trigger Warnings for discussion of sexual assault, violence, abuse, and rape in the plots of the In Death books.

I also want to give a very special thank you to Dr. Sara Ronis, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at St. Mary’s University in Texas. She emailed me before this book came out to suggest. Dr. Ali as a guest – and she was totally right. I learned so much from this interview. So thank you to Dr. Ali, and to Dr. Ronis.

And! If you’re at all curious about Human in Death, Dr. Ali’s book, her publisher, Baylor Press, has been supremely awesome!

First, we have a giveaway of one hardcover copy, so if you’d like to enter, head over to the podcast entry. There will be a Rafflecopter widget for you to drop your email into. This giveaway is open to US and Canada only, must be over 18 and ready to learn all the things, void where prohibited. By submitting  an entry to the contest as set forth herein, each entrant does acknowledge and agree that, in the event such entrant is victorious, such entrant will perform a ceremony reasonably appropriate to such circumstance, including, without limitation, the Miposian Dance of Joy or all the dances from What the Fox Said.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We also have a discount code! Use code BSBT at BaylorPress.com, and you ’ll get 20% off the cover price and free shipping. Thank you to Dr. Ali, and to David and Savannah at Baylor Press for hooking us up.

Listen to the podcast →
Read the transcript →

Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

You can learn more about Kecia Ali and her work at her website, and on her BU page as well.

And if you’re interested in the romance track at the PCA/ACA conference, there are a ton of details online.

If you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us at PodcastPickle and on Stitcher, too. We also have a cool page for the podcast on iTunes.

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What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.

Thanks for listening!

This Episode's Music

Our music is provided each week by Sassy Outwater, whom you can find on Twitter @SassyOutwater.

This is from Caravan Palace, and the track is called “Maniac.”

You can find their two album set with Caravan Palace and Panic on Amazon and iTunes. And you can learn more about Caravan Palace on Facebook, and on their website.

Podcast Sponsor

This week’s podcast is brought to you by Falling for Trouble by Sarah Title.

With her signature wry wit and humor, librarian turned author Sarah Title returns to delight readers with Falling for Trouble, the second installment in her Librarians in Love series. With starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, an Amazon editor’s pick and a glowing review from The Washington Post, this series is highly acclaimed and just plain fun. Falling for Trouble features a librarian hero with a penchant for running in very short running shorts, and a rocker heroine, who bond over music.

Liam Byrd loves Halikarnassus, New York. He loves its friendliness, its nosiness, the vibrant library at the center of it all. And now that Joanna Green is home, the whole town sizzles. A rebel like her stirs up excitement, action, desire—at least in Liam.

Joanna never thought she’d have to come back to her dull, tiny fishbowl of a hometown ever again. She almost had a record deal for her all-girl rock band. She almost had it made in L.A. And then her deal went sour and her granny broke her leg . . . and now here she is, running into everybody’s favorite librarian every time she heads to a dive bar or catches up with old friends.

He has charm, he has good taste in music—and the sight of him in running shorts is dangerously distracting. But when he loves her old town and she can’t wait to check out, their new romance is surely destined for the book drop….

Falling for Trouble by Sarah Title is available now wherever books are sold and on KensingtonBooks.com

Remember to subscribe to our podcast feed, find us on iTunes, via PodcastPickle, or on Stitcher.
Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:41 pm


chris_gerrib: (Default)
[personal profile] chris_gerrib
Two political thoughts:

1) Trump lied. (Yeah, I know, and water's wet.) Those jobs he "saved" at Carrier before his inauguration? They are leaving.

2) John Scalzi is wise on the lack of benefits of tax cuts to rich people.
Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:29 pm

[hxx] [story] Squirrel-Fishing

yhlee: fox with nine tails with eyes (hxx emblem Shuos)
[personal profile] yhlee
For A.B.
Prompt: "Shuos pranks."

with apologies to the black squirrels of Stanford University campus

Jedao and Ruo had set up shop at the edge of one of the campus gardens, the one with the carp pond and the carefully maintained trees. Rumor had it that some of the carp were, in addition to being over a hundred years old, outfitted with surveillance gear. Like most Shuos cadets, Jedao and Ruo would, if questioned, laugh off the rumors while secretly believing in them wholeheartedly--at least the bit about surveillance gear. Jedao had argued that the best place to hide what they were doing was in plain sight. After all, who would be so daft as to run a prank right next to surveillance?

"Lovely day, isn't it?" Ruo said brightly.

Jedao winced. "Not so loud," he said. His head was still pounding after last night's excesses, and the sunlight wasn't helping. Why did he keep letting Ruo talk him into things? It wasn't just that Ruo was really good in bed. He had this way of making incredibly risky things sound fun. Going out drinking? In itself, not that bad. Playing a drinking game with unlabeled bottles of possibly-alcohol-possibly-something-else stolen from Security's hoard of contraband? Risky. Some of those hallucinations had been to die for, though, especially when he started seeing giant robots in the shape of geese.

Fortunately, this latest idea wasn't that risky. Probably. Besides, of the many things that the other cadets had accused Jedao of, low risk tolerance wasn't one of them.

"Not my fault you can't hold your drink," Ruo said, even more brightly.

"I'm going to get you one of these days," Jedao muttered.

Ruo's grin flashed in his dark brown face. "More like you'll lose the latest bet and--" He started describing what he'd do to Jedao in ear-burning detail.

At last one of the other first-years, puzzled by what Jedao and Ruo were doing by the carp pond with a pair of fishing poles, approached. Jedao recognized them: Meurran, who was good at fixing guns despite their terrible aim, and who had a glorious head of wildly curling hair. "Security's not going to approve of you poaching the carp," Meurran said.

"Oh, this isn't for the carp," Ruo said. He flicked his fishing pole, and the line with its enticing nut snaked out toward one of the trees.

Meurran gave Ruo a funny look. "Ruo," they said, "the fish are in the opposite direction."

"Please," Jedao said, "who cares about the fish? No one has anything to fear from the fish. That's just nonsense."

"All right," Meurran said, sounding distinctly unimpressed, "then what?"

Come on, Jedao thought, the nut is right there...

As if on cue, a black squirrel darted down from the tree, then made for the nut.

Ruo tugged the nut just out of reach.

The black squirrel looked around, then headed for the nut again.

"Oh, isn't that adorable?" Meurran said.

"Don't be fooled!" Ruo said as he guided the squirrel in a figure-eight through the grass. "Why would the commandant be so stupid as to rely on carp, which can't even leave their pond?"

Meurran glanced involuntarily at the pond, where two enormous carp were lazily circling near the surface, as if the carp, in fact, had a habit of oozing out onto the land and spying on lazy cadets. "You're saying the squirrels--?"

Ruo continued to cause the squirrel to chase after the nut. "It makes sense, doesn't it? Everyone thinks the black squirrels are the cutest. They're even featured in the recruitment literature. Damnably clever piece of social engineering if you ask me."

Meurran was starting to look persuaded in spite of themselves.

Meanwhile, as Ruo made his case, Jedao leaned back and studied the squirrel with a frown. The local population of black squirrels was mostly tame to begin with and had proven to be easy to train with the aid of treats. (Ruo had made Jedao do most of this, "because you're the farm boy.") But while Ruo and Meurran argued about squirrel population dynamics, Jedao caught a slight flash from behind the squirrel's eyes--almost like that of a camera?

He opened his mouth to interrupt.

The squirrel made an odd convulsing motion, and the light flashed again, this time directly into Jedao's eyes.

Jedao closed his mouth, and kept his thoughts to himself.
Jun. 22nd, 2017 03:38 pm

fountain pens!

yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
[personal profile] yhlee
I did an essay for Tor.com, The Beauty of Physical Writing, on fountain pens! There's a photo of some of my fountain pens over there.

From left to right, for the curious: Waterman 52V, Webster Four-Star, Scriptorium Pens Master Scrivener in Red Stardust, Conway Stewart Churchill in Red Stardust, Aurora 75th Anniversary, Nakaya Naka-ai in aka-tamenuri, Wahl-Eversharp Doric in Kashmir with #3 adjustable nib, and Pilot Vanishing Point Twilight.

Meanwhile, I swear I am writing flash fic right now. This caffeine is taking an unholy amount of time to kick in...
Jun. 22nd, 2017 12:07 pm

thank you in my whole body

alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
Warning, contains emotions in tumbling mixed up words Read more... )
Jun. 22nd, 2017 03:25 pm

Senate Healthcare Bill

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Senate Republicans have finally released what appears to be the draft text of H.R. 1628, the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.”

It’s 142 pages, and to be honest, I’m having a hard time deciphering it all. (Not a lawyer or a legislator.) But here are some things that stood out at me…

Elimination of the individual and employer mandate. (Pages 10-11)

Tax repeals on medications, health insurance, health savings accounts, etc. (Pages 25-29)

This includes the “Repeal of Tanning Tax” on page 29.

The continuing attack on abortion rights.

“Disallowance of small employer health insurance credit for plan which includes coverage for abortion.” (Pages 8-9)

“No Federal funds provided from a program referred to in this subsection that is considered direct spending for any year may be made available to a State for payments to a prohibited entity,” which is then defined as an entity providing abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger. (Page 35)


According to a USA Today analysis, this bill would:

  • Reduce or eliminate most subsidies for individuals and families
  • “Eliminate the ACA’s requirement that insurers can’t charge older customers more than three times what younger customers pay for the same coverage. Instead, those in their 60s could be charged five times as much, or more.”
  • Eliminate penalties to large employers who choose not to offer health insurance. (Elimination of the employer mandate.)
  • Make it easier to drop coverage for things like maternity care and mental health issues.

CNN points out that the bill would also:

  • Defund Planned Parenthood for a year.
  • Require coverage of preexisting conditions. However, it also lets states “waive the federal mandate on what insurers must cover… This would allow insurers to offer less comprehensive policies, so those with pre-existing conditions may not have all of their treatments covered.”

A PBS article says the bill would:

  • Cap and reduce Medicaid funding, and allow states to add a work requirement for “able-bodied” recipients of Medicaid.
  • Provide $2 billion to help states fight opioid addiction

Fox News, unsurprisingly, focused on what they saw as positive in the proposed bill:

  • It preserves health care for people with preexisting conditions (with the potential exceptions noted in the CNN bullets, above), and allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan through age 26.
  • It expands health care savings accounts.
  • It provides a short-term stabilization fund to help struggling insurance markets.

The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release their report on the senate bill next week. The CBO estimated that the House-passed bill would result in 26 million fewer insured Americans by 2026, and would cut the budget by $119 billion over the same time. (Source)


Nothing here is particularly shocking. I’m glad I and my family can’t be kicked off our insurance for our various preexisting conditions…though some of those conditions might no longer be covered, which sucks. It would hurt the poor, the elderly, women, and the mentally ill, among others. None of my readers will be shocked to hear that I think this is another step backward. The ACA was far from perfect — it’s like a patient with a broken leg, but instead of trying to fix the broken leg, we’ll just throw them through a woodchipper, because hey, it’s cheaper!

It looks like this may be a tight vote, which would make this an excellent time to call your Senator.

Please keep any comments civil. I’m angry about this too, but I don’t have the time or the spoons to moderate fights and nastiness today. (Which probably means I shouldn’t have posted this in the first place, but I never claimed to be that bright…)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:07 pm

A Liverpool Lark!

mizkit: (Default)
[personal profile] mizkit

A few weeks ago my friend Leah said her husband wasn’t much interested in seeing Wonder Woman, so she wasn’t likely to see it in the theatre, and Ted said “THIS WILL NOT DO” and checked to see how much plane tickets to Liverpool were and they were practically nothing so he sent me to Liverpool for a lark with Leah, and we went to Wonder Woman together!

Knowing I had to get up wery wery early for my flight, I took a shower the night before and ended up with…Quite The Hair in the morning.

But I tamed it, and got myself some hot chocolate at the airport. I was very tired. But less large of hair. :)

It was the shortest flight I’d ever been on that didn’t involve being in an actual puddle-jumper (ie, 6-12 seat twin propeller airplane). We went up, we went down, there I was. I hung out at the airport for a while, reading, until Leah could collect me, and we spent an EXTREMELY giddy couple of hours ranting about work, children, and the patriarchy. (And, to be fair, a bit about Tom Hardy. Not so much ranting there, mind you, but. :))

These drinks are not actually alcoholic, because it was 11am, but they were DELICIOUS!

We went to our movie. We sat through a truly inordinate number of ads, which, thankfully, had no sound. We started to become concerned, in fact, after many many soundless ads. Then the trailers started, also soundlessly. They were doing these weird little 10 seconds spots for Dunkirk, and the second-to-last one faded to black and immediately came up with the trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes, except because there was no sound and the fade to black had been so brief, they really looked like one trailer.

“Is this how we won WW2?” Leah asked, mystified. “Woody Harrelson and an army of monkeys?”

Then a theatre employee came in and said the entire sound system in the theatre had blown and they would not be showing us Wonder Woman in that theatre at that time.

However, there was another showing half an hour later, and they let us go to that one!

We had an utterly splendid time. Leah really enjoyed the movie. It ended and she said, “That was…that was *good*,” in astonishment, and then we went back to the airport, picking apart all our problems with it and rewriting things to our satisfaction, but we were really happy and had such a good time! And decided that we should really do that more often, because it turns out to be really cheap to pop over for a day, and ours is one of those friendships based on kindred spirithoodness rather than regular meetings in real life (we think that was our 6th time actually being on one another’s physical presence), but it was such fun that it seems like it should be a thing we do, and I need to look into doing that with OTHER friends in England and equally nearby locales…!

But yeah. That was really great. Yay for a lark!

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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Posted by Guest Reviewer


Barefoot at Midnight

by Roxanne St. Claire
October 18, 2016 · South Street Publishing
RomanceContemporary Romance

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Turophile. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Mid-Length Contemporary category.

The summary:

Roxanne St. Claire’s “Timeless” books celebrate the appeal of the silver fox hero! A little older, a lot wiser, and completely sexy, the heroes in the Barefoot Bay Timeless books are men in their 40’s and 50’s who find a second chance at love. Roxanne says her readers aren’t 23…so why should the man of their dreams be that young? The Timeless books are all set on the moon-washed beaches of Barefoot Bay, a tropical island paradise that has been the setting for many beloved romances by this author. Joining the billionaires, brides, and bodyguards on the beach, readers can now kick off their shoes and fall in love with a man aged to perfection!

Barefoot at Midnight

Lawson Monroe is a chef without a restaurant…but his friend and mentor makes a deathbed promise to leave Law the only dive bar on Mimosa Key. Law has big plans for the place, until he walks directly into the luscious body and gorgeous face of Libby Chesterfield and her outrageous claim that the Toasted Pelican should come to her.

When Libby learned that the man who once owned the crappiest watering hole on the island was actually her biological father, she decided the least he owed her was his unclaimed business. The old man wasn’t there for her when she and her brother were growing up near Barefoot Bay, but his legacy can help her build a new future when she transforms the property into Balance, a yoga studio. The only obstacle? Her father apparently named former bad boy and current sexy silver fox Lawless Monroe his heir.

Law never thought he’d want anything more than the chance to make a living cooking his food for the people of Barefoot Bay…but Libby arouses an irresistible hunger in him. Battling an attraction that sizzles hotter than one of Law’s cast-iron skillets and uncovering long-buried secrets with more twists than one of Libby’s yoga poses, they’ll have find a way to both get what they want…especially if what they really want is each other.

Here is Turophile's review:

I’d like to start by applauding a series about mature adults finding romance – Gen-X adults even! As a woman who falls into that category I wholeheartedly approve. And if you can get past the crazy-sauce goofiness of the underlying book, you’ll probably enjoy it.

Our hero, Lawson Monroe, or Law for short, is a chef looking for a restaurant. He makes a deathbed promise to Jake, the man who saved him on many occasions, to continue operating the Toasted Pelican. Except Jake didn’t leave a will, at least one that Law could find, and he spends months after Jake’s death trying to track down the person who’s taken possession of the place.

That person would be Libby Chesterfield, and her brother Sam, former classmates of Law’s. Their ne’er do well mother claimed shortly after his death that Jake was their father and she had the birth certificates to prove it. Without a will, Sam determines that if they can keep operating the place for a year it will then be theirs. (I skipped Wills & Trust class in law school, but this seems really odd . .. )

When Law and Libby encounter each other – the sparks fly. The physical attraction is obvious. And despite their diametrically opposed interests in the property, they work together to determine who really should own the Pelican. Every time you think they have it figured out, there’s another twist to the story.

It’s a fun romance, but by no means perfect. The references to Libby’s “rack” detracted from the story, especially when paired with the name “Chesterfield.” I wish Libby’s character was more developed. It was hard to like her, especially during the first half of the book. For example, she ground her heel into her daughter’s foot. Who does that?! Other than the aforementioned rack, it’s difficult to determine what Law sees in her. Her character is fleshed out more in the latter part of the book, but at that point it seems too late.

It’s another book I’d love to rate higher, if for no other reason than to encourage more romance for and about Gen-Xers. It’s a fun, but flawed book so I’m going to give it a C.

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:33 am

The need for justice to balance love

[syndicated profile] velveteenrabbi_feed

Posted by rbarenblat@gmail.com (Velveteen Rabbi)

Justice-love-scalesEarlier this week, David and I studied a fabulous text from the Hasidic rabbi known as the Kedushat Levi (R' Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev), to whom I was first introduced by R' Elliot Ginsburg, my teacher of Hasidut in rabbinical school. It's a short commentary on this week's Torah portion, Korach, and it packs a powerful punch. (Read it in the original Hebrew at Sefaria.)

The text riffs off of a short phrase in Numbers 18:19, "It is an eternal covenant of salt." Levi Yitzchak explains that this was said after the deeds of Korach. (For a reminder of what those were, see my post at My Jewish Learning, A Failed Rebellion.) Korach wanted everyone, including himself, to be priests. He didn't want to be a Levite, which was his own ancestral tribe -- he wanted to be a Kohen (a higher-level priest), and he wanted everyone to be kohanim.

Here's where Levi Yitzchak makes an interpretive leap: he says the kohanim / priests represent the divine attribute of חסד / chesed (lovingkindness), whereas the levi'im / Levites represent the divine attribute of דין / din (justice) -- sometimes called gevurah, the quality of boundaries and strength. Here's the problem with the Korachite rebellion: in wanting everyone to represent chesed, Korach leaves no room for din. He wanted everyone to be pure chesed, but in truth (says Levi Yitzchak), the world needs judgment and justice too. The world needs gevurah: boundaries, strength, a strong container. 

Ramban (also known as Nachmanides) understands salt as a combination of fire and water, which is to say, justice and lovingkindness. He says it's the combination of those two, the appropriate balance of those two, which sustains all the worlds. 

Levi Yitzchak teaches that the covenant of salt (representing the balance of chesed and din) came as a response to Korach's actions, in order to remind us of what's wrong with Korach's imbalanced view that everyone should embody only chesed. What the world needs is the appropriate balance of chesed and din, lovingkindness and justice.

Reading this passage, I marvel at how contemporary and real it feels. I've been in contexts where people want everyone and everything to be all-chesed-all-the-time, and they are not healthy contexts by any stretch of the imagination.  Love that flows without boundaries is a flood, destructive and damaging. When we over-privilege chesed at the expense of gevurah, there are no appropriate roles or boundaries... and a community in which roles and boundaries are not honored, in which gevurah is not honored, is a community that will inevitably be rife with ethical violations and abuse. 

Levi Yitzchak skewers the Korachite perspective that says everyone should express only lovingkindness. John Lennon may have written a catchy tune with the refrain "all you need is love," but on a spiritual level, he was wrong. The world needs judgment, discernment, and justice every bit as much as it needs unbridled or unbounded love -- indeed, as Ramban notes, a world that has only one half of that critical binary cannot endure. 

This is true not only on a macro level but also a micro level. Every human being is a world. Every one of us contains both of these qualities and more. Maybe you recognize chesed and gevurah as the first two qualities we remind ourselves to cultivate as we count the Omer each year. Every human being needs a healthy balance of all of the qualities that we share with our Creator: lovingkindness and boundaried-strength and balance and endurance and all the rest. A person who seeks to be only chesed will inevitably be imbalanced, and will wind up doing damage not only to himself but to their whole community -- as Korach did. 

A person who insists that chesed is the goal in and of itself (rather than as part of a healthy and balanced palette of qualities) will be naturally inclined toward spiritual bypassing, using feel-good spiritual language to mask deep-rooted avoidance of life's complexities. The same will be true in a community that privileges chesed over a healthy balance of qualities. Such a community will inevitably be not ethical, not healthy, and not safe.

The wisdom offered this week by Levi Yitzchak and Ramban is still relevant in our day: what we need, as individuals and communities, is the right balance of chesed and gevurah. The right balance of love and boundaries, in which loving flow is guided and guarded by ethics and justice. The right balance of all of the sefirot, all of the qualities that we and God share. 

May it be so in all of our communities, and in all of our hearts, speedily and soon.


Jun. 22nd, 2017 03:30 pm

Cake, FBI Agents, & Horses!

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

Under Her Skin

Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders is $1.88 at Amazon and $2.99 elsewhere! Readers warn that this is a contemporary romance on the darker side, but many say this is a great debut by Anders. I’m actually reading this right now and I love it. It’s definitely dark, so if that’s not your thing, stay away. But the hero is a blacksmith with Beta qualities. I’m in love!

Battered by a life determined to tear him down, this quiet ex-con’s scarred hands may be the gentlest touch she’ll ever know.

…if only life were a fairy tale where Beauty was allowed to keep her Beast

Ivan thought the world was through giving him second chances. Who’d want a rough ex-con with a savior complex and a bad habit of bringing home helpless strays? Everyone in Blackwood, Virginia knew he wasn’t good enough for the fine things in life; they knew he was too damaged to save. He just needed to keep his head down, work himself to the bone, and pretend he was content with the lot he was given.

Until she came into his life. Until she changed everything.

Until he realized he would do anything, fight anyone, tear the world apart if it meant saving her.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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A Gentleman’s Game

RECOMMENDED: A Gentleman’s Game by Theresa Romain is 99c! Redheadedgirl read this historical romance and gave it an A:

Theresa Romain basically created a series just for me, and the first full-length book just confirms it. She reached into my head and found the references and plot that would make me happiest, and gave those thoughts a beautiful cover and said, “Here!”

In Book One of Romance of the Turf, a refreshing new Regency series from rising star Theresa Romain, a mystery demanding to be solved brings unlikely allies together in more ways than one

How far will a man go

Talented but troubled, the Chandler family seems cursed by bad luck-and so Nathaniel Chandler has learned to trade on his charm. He can broker a deal with anyone from a turf-mad English noble to an Irish horse breeder. But Nathaniel’s skills are tested when his stable of trained Thoroughbreds become suspiciously ill just before the Epsom Derby, and he begins to suspect his father’s new secretary is not as innocent as she seems.

To win a woman’s secretive heart?

Nathaniel would be very surprised if he knew why Rosalind Agate was really helping his family in their quest for a Derby victory. But for the sake of both their livelihoods, Rosalind and Nathaniel must set aside their suspicions. As Derby Day draws near, her wit and his charm make for a successful investigative team…and light the fires of growing desire. But Rosalind’s life is built on secrets and Nathaniel’s on charisma, and neither defense will serve them once they lose their hearts…

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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Special Agent Francesca

Special Agent Francesca by Mimi Barbour is 99c! This romantic suspense is bursting with catnip! There’s an introverted FBI agent who goes undercover. There’s a fake relationship. Plus, a psychiatrist/criminal profiler hero. Hello! This is a standalone and readers loved the heroine, but some found the pacing a bit uneven.

An introvert, Special Agent Francesca moves to Las Vegas to escape her powerful, domineering mother. On arrival, multiple obstacles challenge her. She needs to approach a father she’s never met, a man who doesn’t even know she exists. Then she must play the role of a loving fiancée with a stranger. One who makes her question every unexpected emotion he provokes. Craving the chance for real undercover work, she grabs the opportunity to be involved in cleaning up gang corruption in a nasty neighborhood. When she poses as the new owner of a hotel, the deadly-dangerous situation ramps up and she’s forced to fight her way from one conflict to the next.

Sean Collins, Psychiatrist and LVPD Profiler, has never known anyone like Francesca Donovan. From first sight, he believes her to be a screwball but her beauty and maddening personality attracts him. Despite her prickly disposition, which gets them into a load of trouble, her rotten driving skills and her constant battles, he’s hooked. Once he’s roped into a mock engagement with her, his desire to make it real takes precedence over everything else in his world.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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American Cake

American Cake by Anne Byrn is $1.99! This book make an appearance in a previous Redheadedgirl’s Historical Kitchen post. Readers loved the blend of recipes and history. However, some reviewers found the historical aspects a bit patronizing. See this Goodreads review for more on that.

Cakes in America aren’t just about sugar, flour, and frosting. They have a deep, rich history that developed as our country grew. Cakes, more so than other desserts, are synonymous with celebration and coming together for happy times. They’re an icon of American culture, reflecting heritage, region, season, occasion, and era. And they always have been, throughout history.

In American Cake, Anne Byrn, creator of the New York Timesbestselling series The Cake Mix Doctor, takes you on a journey through America’s past to present with more than 125 authentic recipes for our best-loved and beautiful cakes and frostings. Tracing cakes chronologically from the dark, moist gingerbread of New England to the elegant pound cake, the hardscrabble Appalachian stack cake, war cakes, deep-South caramel, Hawaiian Chantilly, and the modern California cakes of orange and olive oil, Byrn shares recipes, stories, and a behind-the-scenes look into what cakes we were baking back in time. From the well-known Angel Food, Red Velvet, Pineapple Upside-Down, Gooey Butter, and Brownie to the lesser-known Burnt Leather, Wacky Cake, Lazy Daisy, and Cold Oven Pound Cake, this is a cookbook for the cook, the traveler, or anyone who loves a good story. And all recipes have been adapted to the modern kitchen.


Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Amazon Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks




Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:34 am

context, kinfolk, and crow feather

alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
So to provide a little more context for my last post…

CW: discussion of death and dying, major illness, family ties, travel uncertainty

Read more... ) Neighbor crow, I am listening. Uncle, I love you.
Jun. 22nd, 2017 01:57 pm

WILDFIRE Tour Schedule

[syndicated profile] ilonaandrews_blog_feed

Posted by Ilona

It’s that time again.  At the end of July we’ll start touring for WILDFIRE.  We are very excited about this book and we hope you’ll come and see us.  We are visiting San Diego Comicon, Los Angeles, Houston, Orlando and Jacksonville.  Details are below.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


San Diego Comic-Con

San Diego Convention Center, 111 Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101 (Room 9)

2:00-3:00 World Mythology in Contemporary Fantasy

Panel Description: Xenophobes beware. (And, if you know what “xenophobes” means, please keep reading.) There are worlds of diverse gods, djinn, daemons, Ghabali, manticores, sylphs, yowies … and oh, yeah, Baba Yaga … to learn about. And you can find them all in the pages of books. Join these authors to learn about the monsters that roam the earth, and how world mythology provides the building blocks of contemporary storytelling. Room 9

Proposed panelists:

Ilona Andrews (Wildfire) [Ilona]

Ilona Andrews (Wildfire) [Gordon]

Beth Cato (Call of Fire)

Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone)

Traci Chee (The Speaker)

Nidhi Chanani (Pashmina) Gina Gagliano

Moderator: TBD


NOTE: There will also be a post-panel autographing and in-booth signings throughout.


Sunday, July 23, 2017



4:00 PM to 6:00 PM PDT

WILDFIRE early on-sale event


Culver City, CA 90232

Bea & Leah Koch



Tuesday, July 25, 2017



6:30 PM CDT

Author Speaking, Signing Appearance


2342 Bissonnet ST

Houston, TX 77005

John Kwiatkowski




Wednesday, July 26, 2017

RWA National Conference


Avon Digital Day

Doors open at 9 am

9:30 am – 12 noon

Disney Dolphin – Oceanic 3 Conference Room


Avon Facebook Live, BookLush Videos

12:30 pm – 2 pm

Disney Dolphin – Oceanic 2 Conference Room


The Avon Cocktail Party

7 – 9 pm

(There will be limited video taping on-site, starting at 6:30 pm)

Shuttle bus transport will be provided from the Swan/Dolphin

Capa, at The Four Seasons at Walt Disney World® Resort

10100 Dream Tree Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista, FL


Thursday, July 27, 2017




7:00 PM

Book Event & Signing (w/ Jeaniene Frost)


Author Promotions

2418 E Colonial Drive

Orlando, FL 32803

Nicole Lunsford



Friday, July 28, 2017




6:30 PM Arrival

7:00 PM EDT

Author Speaking, Signing event, w/Jeaniene Frost


220 First ST

Neptune Beach, FL 32266

Rona Brinlee



[syndicated profile] stross_feed

Posted by Charlie Stross

Hi: I'm back. And a regular commenter asked me an interesting question anent the state of current US/UK politics: how much money can you make by crying fire in a crowded theatre?

Note that "crowded theatre" and "crying fire" are not to be taken literally; rather, it's a question about how much money you can make by manipulating social media to drive public opinion.

I'm going to start with the money markets: hedge funds bet big on Brexit, because they predicted that in event of a "leave" vote going through, shares in the FTSE 100 would underperform by 20%: so they shorted the entire market. However, it's a bet that, by and large, they lost money on. Rather than the FTSE 100 dropping 20%, Sterling dropped 20% and the shares continued to trade at much the same level (in the now-debased currency). Oops. Notably, billionaire Peter Hargreaves, who donated £3.2M to the Leave campaign, managed to lose on the order of £400M (warning: DM over-simplification alert—the market didn't tank, his portfolio lost value). Still, as bets go, it's a good if obvious example of crying fire in a crowded theatre for pleasure and profit: put £3.2M into sending 15 million letters to voters urging them to vote one way, aiming to profit to the tune of hundreds of millions.

Another fairly obvious example is the investment by the current Russian leadership in cyberwar ops against the perceived-as-more-competent candidate in the last US presidential election. Regardless of her other characteristics, Clinton was experienced in foreign affairs and no friend of Russia's. Russia today is primarily an oil and gas exporter, with the world's second largest (official) reserves after Saudi Arabia, and the current leadership can't help but be aware that they're vulnerable to some of the same factors that brought down the USSR —notably vulnerability to externally induced commodity price fluctuations. Clinton could have continued the transition to renewables that the Obama administration began, and applied the decreased US dependency on fossil fuel as an economic weapon against Russia (by depressing global oil prices): she had to be defeated at all costs. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is full of fossil fuel connections. Oil, gas, and coal companies contributed heavily to Trump's campaign, to his inauguration, and in federal lobbying since then, with predictable results.

Anyway, those are the two big recent examples; investors pushing Brexit propaganda not because they think leaving the EU would be good for the UK but in the pursuit of short-term profit: and big fossil fuel interests (national-level actors like Russia/Gazprom and corporate actors like Koch Industries) seeking a fossil-fuel-friendly policy environment by buying targeted political campaigning and deploying cyberwar techniques against politicians perceived as being less receptive to their desire for profit.

Aside from these two examples, and also leaving aside the Grenfell Tower disaster (latest: inflammable cladding may have been used on up to 600 other high-rise apartment buildings in the UK; replacing that is going to cost billions), what other examples can you think of where you can profit by crying fire in a crowded theatre?

Jun. 22nd, 2017 04:00 am


[syndicated profile] velveteenrabbi_feed

Posted by rbarenblat@gmail.com (Velveteen Rabbi)

"Not all women, trees, or ovens are identical." -- Mishna Pesachim 3:4, in the name of R' Akiva


Some women like winter. Some incubate babies
and some have no uterus. Some wear eyeliner.

Some are happiest in Israeli sandals
flaunting our pedicured toes.

Some are stronger than the steel cables
that hold up a suspension bridge.

Some of us are notorious.
Some of us write love poems.

Some of us have roots that go deep
into the earth and will not be shaken.

Some give our fruit and branches
and trunk until we are nothing but stumps.

Some grow thorns to protect ourselves
even if we're vilified for it.

Some women are more like trees
than like ovens: constantly changing.

Some women are nourishing and warm.
Some women burn with holy fire.

Some of us are irreducible, incomparable
like the Holy One of Blessing Herself.

Some women balance justice and mercy.
Some are mirrors: we'll give kindness

as we receive, but injustice causes
our eyes to blaze the world into ash.


This poem arose out of a wonderful line from mishna that I encountered in Heschel's book Torah from Heaven, which I've been slowly reading on Wednesday mornings with my coffee shop hevruta group for well over a year.

Some give our fruit and branches / and trunk until we are nothing but stumps. See Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. (Wow, is that one messed-up parable about the damage of boundary-less love.)

[I]njustice causes / our eyes to blaze the world into ash. See the Talmudic story of R' Shimon bar Yochai, who spent twelve years in a cave, and when he emerged, was so outraged by what he saw as people's poor priorities and choices that his very gaze set the world on fire.

Jun. 22nd, 2017 12:56 pm

Ferris Bueller's day off

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[personal profile] carisma_sensei posting in [community profile] nexticon


I'm sorry but the ferris in the blue sky icon reminded me of this amazing movie and, of course, of Ferris who was adorable ♥
Jun. 22nd, 2017 07:00 am

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Redheadedgirl


The Alice Network

by Kate Quinn
June 6, 2017 · William Morrow Paperbacks
RomanceContemporary Romance

This is also part of my, “Okay, universe, just tell me what to read” campaign. This book has a lot of my catnip: lady spies, a dual chronology, and a host of people trying to put their lives back together after a war.

In 1947, Charlotte “Charlie” St. Clair is in England with her mother. She’s on her way to Switzerland for an abortion. She’s a college sophomore, unmarried, and her parents have decided that the way to handle her unplanned pregnancy is to remove it.  What she really wants, however, is to find her cousin Rose, who disappeared in France during WWII. Rose is the only person in Charlie’s family to understand Charlie, and Charlie is desperate to find her.

In 1915, Eve Gardinier is recruited to be a spy for the Allies. She’s stationed in Lille, France, which is near the Belgian border and occupied by the Germans. She speaks French, English, and German, and has one of those faces that looks completely innocent and incapable of lying. She gets a job in a cafe where German officers congregate, eavesdrops on them while clearing their plates, and passes any interesting and useful information on to the British. Her contact is a woman who calls herself Lili, and she has a network of spies and contacts up and down the border, called the Alice Network.

The main theme of the WWI portion is “How can I serve.” Eve, in her life in England, wants to serve her country, but no one will allow her, simply because she has a stammer. Because of the stammer, people assume she’s stupid or mentally disabled. But the captain in charge of running spies in France recognizes her talents and gives her a way to serve. The other women in the Alice Network are in similar positions: this option was the best way they had to help with the war effort. Of course, sometimes the desire to serve, to help with all of your abilities, costs a great deal, and there’s the question if you’re really willing to pay that price. Eve finds herself paying a great deal more than she ever expected, for decades.

The theme of the post WWII portions is related: what is the human cost of all this war and suffering? Eve is still suffering from the psychological (and physical) effects of her service in WWI. Eve has a driver, Finn, a Scotsman who was part of the group that liberated one of the concentration camps, and that experience still haunts him. Charlie, who was in high school during the war, did not serve, but her brother came back a different person, and eventually killed himself. Charlie’s response to that trauma was to try to find a way to feel things again by sex, which did not work out the way she intended.

The trick with a dual chronology is making sure the two stories weave together and come to a climax that complement each other. The other trick is making sure your two timelines are equally interesting. I found myself skimming the 1947 story to get back to the WWI story, which was  LOT more tense. 1947 was road trip through post-war France; 1915 was espionage. Which is more exciting?

Quinn included, probably because she saw me coming, an extensive author’s note talking about how Lili was a real person, Louise de Bettignies, who did everything she does in this book.  I know there aren’t any spoilers in history, but if you don’t know about Louise, and her service record, and you’re going to read The Alice Network, maybe… don’t… read her Wikipedia page? (We didn’t link to it on purpose.) I had no idea how this story was going to go, and I didn’t know that Lili was a real person, so I was on the edge of my seat after the 2/3 mark.

The other thing that I enjoyed was the minutiae of spy craft, such as writing messages on slips of rice paper and winding them around hairpins, or drawing maps on petticoats. Or, ways to sneak past a border checkpoint when you don’t have the right paperwork – all the details are fascinating.

There is a romance. It’s not centered in the plot, it develops very slowly and organically, and the meat of this novel is the relationships between the women. They learn how to become a honeypot, if that’s what is required, how to support each other in the darkest of timelines, and how to continue to live after everything you ever knew was torn away from you.

If you read and loved Code Name Verity ( A | BN | K | G | iB | Au ) this is a book for you. I said a couple of years ago that I expected a lot of World War I stories to come out of this centennial, and I’m pretty pleased to have been right. There are a lot of really interesting stories emerging.  I’m also really interested (for various reasons) in how people deal with the PTSD that come out of traumatic periods in history, and this story is a deeply layered exploration of just that.

Jun. 21st, 2017 11:04 pm

so i have an eticket all of a sudden

alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
traveling tomorrow

serious illness in extended family

hugs welcome
Jun. 22nd, 2017 12:15 am

"In over my head"

rosefox: Steven's three guardians all ruffle his hair together as he grins (parenting)
[personal profile] rosefox
Dear fellow caregivers for toddlers: I would love advice on two distinct things.

1) What makes a good potty? The number of variations is overwhelming. We want something pretty simple, I think: looks like a toilet, no branded characters, doesn't play music, sits on the floor, is basically a bucket with a seat. In the more distant future we'll need one that folds up or goes over the toilet seat or something, for when we're on the road, but right now this is just for Kit to examine and contemplate and get used to the idea of.

2) Like most 18-month-olds, Kit is full of energy. Unlike most 18-month-olds, Kit can barely walk unassisted and can't run or jump. They've only just started climbing around on the most low-level playground equipment and are very uncertain; they can get up five steps to the top of the baby slide but haven't yet sorted out how to slide down it. When they can't burn off all that energy, they get very agitated and fussy. How do we help them get something like vigorous exercise on the weekends? So far my only idea is to take their walker wagon to the park so they can toddle along at a fairly fast clip for longer distances than our apartment allows—there's a good smoothly paved straightaway there—but that's a pain because the sidewalk between here and there is very uneven and narrow, so I'd have to figure out some way to carry the (heavy, bulky, non-folding) wagon while pushing Kit in the stroller, and that may surpass my own physical limitations. Maybe a lightweight folding medical-style walker? Is that a ridiculous expense for a kid who probably won't need it anymore by the end of the summer? And what do we do when it's not park weather? The nearest real play space for kids is the Brooklyn Children's Museum and it's kind of a haul from here—two buses, and you have to fold the stroller on the bus. They can only crawl around our apartment for so long.

EDIT: We did have a great dance party to the B-52s on Sunday—their pure sincerity is a perfect match for toddler sincerity, plus a good beat—so I should remember that's an option for indoor days. Friends on Twitter and elsewhere also suggested walking while holding Kit's hands/arms; playing follow-the-leader movement games ("Stretch WAAAAAY up high! Now bend WAAAAAY down low!") or doing movement to songs; setting up a tumbling mat and big foam blocks to climb on if we can get some that fit Kit's room (need to measure the open floor space); getting a cheap flimsy lightweight doll stroller to use as a walker in the park.

I'd really appreciate any suggestions on either or both fronts!
Jun. 21st, 2017 06:00 pm

signal boost: gay it forward

alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
Pride isn't just a celebration. It is that and that is important. But it's also a lifeline to young queer kids. It's a protest and a form of action and so many other things.


Whether you are queer yourself or (hopefully!) an ally to queerfolk, please look up your local pride event. Or Google "queer homeless teens." Or "black trans lives matter" or "Two Spirit Native lgbtqia+"... Support as you can.

And remember: survival is resistance.

ETA: Also: There is no one right way to Pride


(Comic Transcript to come...)

You matter.
Jun. 21st, 2017 05:32 pm

good things around juneish

alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline



well timed tears

Mt. Hood in sunlight over the shoulder of Mt. Tabor

my mom being awesome

time off

having strategies and prep for Things and recognizing that they apply

long sunlit hours


Jun. 21st, 2017 05:28 pm

Artificial Condition Quote

marthawells: (Default)
[personal profile] marthawells
Trying to get photos to post here still seems really wonky, so here's a link to a tumblr post with a quote from The Murderbot Diaries: Artificial Condition: https://marthawells.tumblr.com/post/162086407182/for-book-quote-wednesday-bookqw-on-twitter

This was for Book Quote Wednesday on Twitter.
Jun. 21st, 2017 04:04 pm

an IMPORTANT question

yhlee: rose in a hexagon (hxx emblem Andan)
[personal profile] yhlee
Poll #18516 trying to cheer myself up from rain/flood watch/tornado watch/tropical storm
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 34

If I were to attempt CHEESECAKE [0] pinup art of a hexarchate character for lulz, it should be

View Answers

Nirai Kujen
17 (50.0%)

Shuos Jedao
17 (50.0%)

Kel Cheris [1]
6 (17.6%)

Andan Tseya
3 (8.8%)

Shuos Khiaz
1 (2.9%)

someone else I will name in comments
1 (2.9%)

2 (5.9%)

[0] May or may not feature CHEESY partial nudity.

[1] The incomparable [personal profile] telophase once did me a sketch of blonde, busty Cheris with her space ferret because I kept joking that I would get a cover featuring blonde, busty Cheris with her space ferret. (Hexarchate AU...?!)

(In real life, I'm working on an art assignment...ahahahahaha.)

(Dear Louisiana: PLEASE STOP RAINING. At least it isn't downpouring enough that I feel that I have to pack for emergency evacuation, it's just raining drearily, but...)
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The only way I could work out to fix the formatting issues (where point size varied for no reason and underlining got tossed in at random) was to remove all formatting in the original document and reinsert links by hand.

Marvel at the new list!

Read more... )
Jun. 21st, 2017 08:14 pm

(no subject)

lexin: (Default)
[personal profile] lexin
Smokey and I are throwing ourselves around in attitudes, as it’s very hot (for Britain) and very humid. I’m all miserable and sweaty, and I’m sure I can say the same for Smokey but she only sweats through her paws. She has quite sweaty paws, though, and was once found to be allergic to a specific type of kitty litter for that reason.

In other news, I’ve done the first pass of ripping my DVDs to soft copy. I’m left with a few irritations – some of the seasons of Criminal Minds didn’t rip properly and I’ll have to rip them again, this time into MKV files. Plus the titles got somehow mixed up (it was obviously my fault) on the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films, and I’m going to have to go through them patiently and make sure the right title is attached to each film. But it is mostly done.

I’m still following what’s coming out about the Grenfell Tower fire – the worst case of a fire since WW2, I think, and was totally avoidable if Kensington and Chelsea had just listened to the people who lived there and actually spent money on the place where it was needed. ‘Not political’ indeed! Ptui!
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Guest Reviewer


Tell Me How This Ends

by Victoria De La O
November 1, 2016 · Swerve
Historical: AmericanHistorical: EuropeanLiterary Fiction

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Erica. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Mid-Length Contemporary category.

The summary:

Brothers Jude and Ryan McAllister are inseparable. When Jude stepped in to raise Ryan after the death of their mother, it became the two of them against the world. But the scars it left were bone-deep. Then Lizzie Price comes along.

Lizzie hopes Ryan’s kindness can help heal her wounds from a toxic relationship. But when she meets Jude, their powerful attraction makes him difficult to resist. The problem is, Lizzie doesn’t realize Jude and Ryan are brothers, and they don’t know they’re falling for the same girl.

By the time the truth comes out, everyone is in too deep. Ryan is in love, Jude is in denial, and Lizzie wants both brothers. All of them agree that no one deserves to get hurt. But love and desire have a way of testing even the strongest bonds.

Here is Erica's review:

I loathe this book. LOATHE. With the fiery passion of a thousand suns. It is the absolute worst.

Wow, I need to start learning to express myself, don’t I? I almost wrote a DNF review for this at the 53% mark, but since I already did that (although that was out of apathy, not complete mind-numbing rage), I tried to force myself to read it – challenging myself that maybe it wouldn’t end like I thought it would.

It did.

Spoilers probably abound, because I am just stream-of-consciousness writing to vent off my rage. CW for the book: talk of suicide, something like revenge porn, a couple of ableist phrases, etc.

So. This book starts out with our heroine, Elizabeth (called Lizzie by almost everyone), deciding to finally approach this dude, Ryan, in her Shakespeare class after she’s been crushing on him awhile. He’s really smart, and she has no talent for Shakespeare, so she asks if he’ll tutor her. He agrees, and she’s excited to finally hang out with him. That night, she goes out with friends and some chick brings along her current friend with benefits – and Lizzie and he, Jude, of course have an instant connection and attraction. They play pool and flirt.

Lizzie is gun shy about a relationship with a “bad boy” because she had a really bad experience with her ex-boyfriend, which is what led her to leave Utah and come to big bad California.

Ryan has been crushing on Lizzie for a while too, and he’s stoked about getting to hang out with her. He tells his older brother Jude about her and Jude tells Ryan about how he met this girl who has him all twisted up too. Jude has basically taken care of Ryan since they were kids – their mom died, then their uncle died, and Jude quit college to take care of his brother, and has sacrificed a lot to make their little unit of two something like a family.

Even though Lizzie (who Jude insists on calling Elizabeth) has some pretty hot chemistry with Jude, she decides that she’s going to go for safe, nice Ryan instead. She doesn’t know they’re brothers. They don’t know that both of them are hung up on the same girl.

And the drama commences.

I literally hate all of the characters in this book. If there is anyone with any redeeming qualities, it’s Ryan. He’s sweet, but he’s a little immature. Jude completely enables Ryan in staying immature. Jude.. Jude is like Angel in Buffy. He’s moody, he’s broody, he’s devastatingly hot (apparently a social worker didn’t think he’d be great guardian material because he must have an “active social life” which Jude read as code that he has a lot of sex with a lot of different women), blahblahblah. Who cares. And Lizzie is the absolute worst friggin’ person. She is so unutterably selfish, it blows my mind. Like, woman, grow the hell up and break up with Ryan and get out of their lives. You selfish, selfish cow.

This book reminded me, in a way, of Wuthering Heights. I viciously hate Cathy and Heathcliff and think they both should be horse-whipped. That’s how I felt about Jude and Lizzie.

Because of course Lizzie’s going to choose Jude. I mean, duh. When she officially starts dating Ryan she thinks about how really nice he is. And this girl – I mean, she’s making out with Jude one day, then pushing Ryan into a relationship, then making out with him, then there’s some handsy action with Jude again, and then her and Ryan start fooling around and have sex. And it’s all just… It’s weird. And I don’t know about you but I cannot STAND it when characters in a romance have sex with a person other than their future partner in the book. And all the sex was between Lizzie and Ryan. She goes from giving Ryan a blow job that Jude overhears to being a cozy little couple with inside jokes (that Ryan doesn’t get) with Jude.

God, I hate Lizzie. I hate Jude. I hate Ryan for being a clueless wimp. I hate this friggin’ book.

There’s a part where Jude calls Lizzie a whore. There’s a part where Lizzie is talking about her Tragic Backstory with her ex – basically he was a controlling, manipulative, soon-to-be-abuser. She broke up with him and he shared naked pictures of her with everyone. Her dad did some victim blaming. When she tells the story to Ryan, he gushes about how she never let that douche get the best of her, because she’s so strong and amazing. And it’s clear from Lizzie’s reaction that she’s unhappy with his idolization, but he is just not picking up the signs. When Lizzie tells Jude the same story, she expands on it by sharing the fact that after all of that, she tried to kill herself. Jude gets it. Because of course he does.

Then the ending happens way too quickly for the amount of drama in this book.

Show Spoiler
Lizzie finally gets out of their lives. Ryan grows a pair and leaves his brother to his brood, and goes to Japan to teach. Jude figures out his shit. Lizzie and Jude start texting and we hear about all the things Jude has been doing to not be such a broody little ass, but all of that is off paper. Then Lizzie throws him a birthday party, and they go home and have sex and then it’s over.


So. *ahem* Not a fan. Nope. The melodrama dripping from the walls and a cast of characters I actively wish bad things on — it’s just a recipe for suck. In my opinion. F.

Jun. 21st, 2017 06:19 pm

Season 7 is (Almost) Here

[syndicated profile] grrm_feed

Posted by George R.R. Martin

HBO's latest trailer for season 7 of GAME OF THRONES is here.

And for those in New Mexico, we'll be screening a season 6 marathon at the Jean Cocteau before the season 7 premiere. Check the JCC website for dates and details. Admission is FREE,
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

Workspace with computer, journal, books, coffee, and glasses.Hello Hump Day! How is everyone doing? I’m in the midst of an amazing book, so I’ve currently lost all sense of time. Here are some good things, many of which might hurt your wallet!

We’ve picked a date for our next Book Club Chat! The book we’ve picked (in case you missed it) is Radiance by Grace Draven and the date of the chat is June 28th at 8pm EDT. We’ll post a link to the chat that afternoon. We hope to see some of you there!

Awesome Kickstarter alert! This is one that I’ve personally backed and needs a little help reaching its goal. It’s called Two Scoops: An Ice Cream Shop Dating Sim!

Two Scoops is a fresh, new visual novel + dating sim about love and ice cream! It’s the story of a big girl in a small town who finds romance at her local ice cream shop.

In this game, you take on the role of a young woman who has just started a new job at a local, family-owned ice cream shop. She’s taken on a big responsibility, too: two of the employees are going away soon, leaving her to fill their shoes! With only a week remaining before their departure, the situation seems tricky for our protagonist, but she is determined to show that she’s the right one for the job, all while growing closer to her co-workers along the way.

It has roughly two days left!

The Bawdy Bookworm box is taking preorders for their July box. I’ve gotten a sneak peek and it’s really amazing.

SMARTB gets free shipping in the US of $6 off International shipping for Bawdy Bookworms. And, if you’ve forgotten, this box grabbed the attention of Elyse’s cat, Dewey.

The Book Voyagers put together a list of Single Parents in Romance Books if that’s your catnip! They also have a helpful legend and mention common tropes.

Battery chargers!

Every few months a bigger, better, and lighter weight battery charger comes out. At this point I have 3 in various sizes—lipstick sized, 6.5oz, and the 12.5oz, which lives in our travel bag. I can recharge my kids' DS, tablets, my phone, etc, before it runs out of charge. - SW

Thanks to Reader Cleo for a heads up about this Riptide Publishing sale, where trans, genderqueer, intersex, and ace romances this week are 50% off.

More sales! Humble Bundle has a Best of Boom comics sale going on and it’s full of great selections, including Lumberjanes and Steven Universe. What I like about Humble Bundle is that you can pay as little or as much as you want. Plus, you can decide how much of what you pay goes to charity, Humble Bundle, and the comics creators. I highly recommend the site and they do this for video games and books, as well.

At RT17 in Atlanta this year, we met Luda Gogolushko, the founder of Includas Publishing. She put together a 20-minute vlog on her time there. We were lucky enough to be asked to be in the video, so you can see some of us between the 6:00-8:00 minute mark!

Don’t forget to share what super cool things you’ve seen, read, or listened to this week! And if you have anything you think we’d like to post on a future Wednesday Links, send it my way!

Jun. 21st, 2017 06:02 pm

Off to Angel Fire

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Posted by George R.R. Martin

Been a while since I posted here, I see. That doesn't mean nothing is happening. Quite the contrary; it means lots of things are happening, and I've been way too busy to worry about my Not A Blog.

I seem to have an insane amount of things on my plate. Would that there were more of me. Would that there were more hours in the day. The work is actually going well, I think... but there's so MUCH of it, on so many different fronts...


Today will be a pleasant interlude. I'm taking the Tesla up north to talk to the students at Walter Jon Williams' Taos Toolbox workshop... which no longer seems to be in Taos, but further north in Angel Fire. But it's a beautiful day and it should be a beautiful drive, and I always relish the opportunity to corrupt some young minds.

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[personal profile] swan_tower

I’ve been sitting on this news for nearly a year, waiting for my first piece to go live so I can tell you all about it.

So there’s this game called Legend of the Five Rings. It was a collectible card game and RPG; I got involved with the RPG, doing some freelance work for the later parts of fourth edition, because it had sucked me in overnight. The setting, Rokugan, is inspired by Japanese history and culture, and it’s got the kind of rich worldbuilding that makes the place come to life for me. So when the parent company sold L5R off to Fantasy Flight Games, I was, shall we say, rather determined to stay involved.

And I am. But not writing for the RPG this time: instead I’m one of their fiction writers. You see, one of the defining characteristics for L5R has always been the ongoing narrative of the game, influenced by the winners of various tournaments, and expressed through official canon stories.

My first story is here!

I think it should be a decent introduction to the setting for those who aren’t familiar with it. (In fact, that’s one of the goals for this first set of stories: give newcomers an overview of Rokugan, clan by clan.) If you like what I wrote, you might find L5R overall interesting, and you can check out the other fictions here (those provide links to the pdfs if you want to see the pretty formatted versions).

Yeah . . . I’m pretty excited. 😀 The setting has been rebooted back to the Clan War, so there’s an opportunity to do all kinds of cool new things, and this story provided a really great chance to showcase that, with the Dragon facing two entirely fresh conflicts that don’t come with easy answers attached. And I’m working on more stuff as we speak, so my involvement will be ongoing. *\o/*

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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Posted by Ilona

Dear German readers, we just got this awesome email from our agency:

AmazonCrossing will be translating and publishing SWEEP IN PEACE and ONE FELL SWEEP. 🙂 They said “All of our team like the INNKEEPER CHRONICLES very much and we would like to help grow the author’s global reach.”

Looks like the further two adventures of Dina will become available soon on Amazon.de.

Jun. 21st, 2017 12:58 pm

Mental Health Day

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[personal profile] rolanni

People have been behaving badly on the internet.  What a surprise.

I'm reminded of a story I read once, true or not, who knows, which was to the effect that, when switchboards first became a Thing, the newly-organized phone company had initially hired boys as operators, because -- cheap labor.  Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that something about having all that access acted on boys like catnip on cats; they began pranking callers, and just in general behaving badly.  Couldn't seem to help themselves, really, poor things.  So the phone companies fired the boy operators and hired women, because -- cheap labor.  And that worked out much better for all concerned.

Personally, I think there's a genetic disposition, a kind of allergy to electrons, so that when people with this allergy are exposed to this allergen, they behave as badly as possible.  Remove the electrons, and they revert to being perfectly innocuous and civilized members of society.


In other news, I've taken up meditation, as part of my project to avoid a Major Depressive Incident, such as I experienced last year.  As we all know, depression makes us stupid, and I'm still finding errors that I made during the last (really bad, by my standards; maybe one of the Biggest since records started to be kept, some 40 years ago) -- some serious, but none, thank ghod, fatal, though one was particularly scary.  So, anyway, despite a lifetime of crash-burn-rise-up-eventually-slighty-sooty, I'm now trying to alter the pattern, and to be proactive.  Which means, yes, meditation, and also ruthlessly slashing toxic -- and even perennially irritating -- people out of my life.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, expect to see me less.  I'll try to pick back up posting more regularly here (this blog is mirrored at Eagles Over the Kennebec).  I love you all, but -- survival is important to the appearance of more stories.

So, that.

Yesterday, Steve and I took a mental health day.  We went down to Old Orchard Beach, where it was foggy and windy(!) and too chilly to sit on the beach and read, which had been my Plan A.  We did a short beach walk, then went down to Wells, where it was also foggy and windy(!), and stood around on the public landing, watching the kites, and Steve took pictures with his new camera.

After, we crossed over to Sanford, and stopped for lunch at the Cockpit Cafe at the airport.  And there we saw George W. Bush arrive, and board the (Embraer Legacy twin-jet) plane that had been waiting for him.

On the way home from Sanford, we made one more ocean stop -- at Pine Point -- and then came home, where I continued the electron-free theme (not totally true, since I'm reading an ebook), until it was time for the evening meal, a glass of wine and a chapter read outloud from The Cat Who Saw Red (yeah, it's a re-read; we decided to do the Cat Who's in order to follow Qwilleran's arc).

This morning, I baked peasant olive bread while Steve went to cardio-gym, and also figured out the penultimate scene in the cheater story.

I may not have reported here that I bought myself a chair side table (a so-called C-table) for the reading corner.

Here are some pictures:

This first was taken when the table came home. At the time the photo was snapped, it had been in the house for less than five minutes:

This is what the table looks like, unadorned:

And here is Sprite, reasserting her claim:

Jun. 21st, 2017 12:08 pm

Facing reality

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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Various attempts to shore up my dwindling income have failed to achieve their necessary goals so as of the 28th, I don't have a house. Friends and family are helping with the accommodations and moving my stuff into storage. I don't think I am quite up to doing five reviews a week and packing my household so review frequency may drop a bit for the next week or so.

Fig and Ibid will likely have to be re-homed.
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Posted by Amanda

My Lady Quicksilver

My Lady Quicksilver by Bec McMaster is 99c! This is the third book in the London Steampunk series. I’m not sure if it can be read as a standalone, so maybe the Bitchery can help with that question. Readers loved the world McMaster created, but some found they didn’t enjoy the main couple as much as previous books. The first book is also on sale for 99c!

Determined to destroy the Echelon she despises, Rosalind Fairchild is on seemingly easy mission. Get in. Uncover the secrets of her brother’s disappearance. And get out.

In order to infiltrate the Nighthawks and find their leader, Sir Jasper Lynch, Rosalind will pose as their secretary. But she doesn’t count on Lynch being such a dangerously charismatic man, challenging her at every turn, forcing her to re-evaluate everything she knows about the enemy.

He could be her most dangerous nemesis—or the ally she never dreamed existed.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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The Hamilton Affair

The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs is $1.99! This is a work of historical fiction that focuses on Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler’s relationship. Redheadedgirl mentioned that she’d read this one in a previous Whatcha Reading. She found it “good, but disjointed.”

Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Revolution, and featuring a cast of iconic characters such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Marquis de Lafayette, The Hamilton Affair tells the sweeping, tumultuous, true love story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, from tremulous beginning to bittersweet ending—his at a dueling ground on the shores of the Hudson River, hers more than half a century later after a brave, successful life.

Hamilton was a bastard son, raised on the Caribbean island of St. Croix. He went to America to pursue his education. Along the way he became one of the American Revolution’s most dashing—and unlikely—heroes. Adored by Washington, hated by Jefferson, Hamilton was a lightning rod: the most controversial leader of the American Revolution.

She was the well-to-do daughter of one of New York’s most exalted families—feisty, adventurous, and loyal to a fault. When she met Alexander, she fell head over heels. She pursued him despite his illegitimacy, and loved him despite his infidelity. In 1816 (two centuries ago), she shamed Congress into supporting his seven orphaned children. Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton started New York’s first orphanage. The only “founding mother” to truly embrace public service, she raised 160 children in addition to her own.

With its flawless writing, brilliantly drawn characters, and epic scope, The Hamilton Affair will take its place among the greatest novels of American history.

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This book is on sale at:

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A Royal Pain

A Royal Pain by Megan Mulry is 99c! This is the first book in the Unruly Royals series and doesn’t have a cliffhanger. Readers really loved the premise and recommend it for fans of royal romances. However, some say the execution failed when compared to the plot description.

Bronte Talbott follows all of the exploits of the British royals. After all, they’re the world’s most preeminent dysfunctional family. And who is she to judge? Bronte’s own search for love isn’t going all that well, especially after her smooth-talking Texan boyfriend abruptly leaves her in the dust.

Bronte keeps a lookout for a rebound to help mend her broken heart, and when she meets Max Heyworth, she’s certain he’s the perfect transition man. But when she discovers he’s a duke, she has to decide if she wants to stay with him for the long haul and deal with the opportunities– and challenges– of becoming a royal.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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A Fine Romance

A Fine Romance by Christi Barth is 99c! This contemporary romance has a slight enemies to lovers trope. The heroine wants to open a “romance store,” which helps craft the perfect date for couples, and the hero is a baker. It’s a sweet romance, though some readers found the couple’s obstacles to be meh.

They say you form your first impression of someone within thirty seconds of meeting them. Or, in Mira Parrish’s case, within thirty minutes of not meeting them, when said person is supposed to pick you up from the airport and never shows. This is not a perfect start to her new life. Her friend Ivy is depending on her to run a new romance store, and Mira can’t afford to let her down.

Sam Lyons should probably apologize. But every time he sees Mira–which is often, since his family owns the bakery next to her shop–he can’t resist antagonizing her. There’s something about the sexy, straight-laced woman that drives him crazy. He can’t get involved, though. He has too much baggage to be any good in a serious relationship.

Despite his teasing attitude, Mira finds Sam too sweet to resist. (His hot body may be a factor.) But if there’s going to be anything permanent between them, they’ll need to let go of their pasts and look to the future…

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[personal profile] lydy
At Fourth Street Fantasy Convention, this year, Steven Brust, from the dias, delivered a speech about safety and free speech that made me so angry I had to leave the room. Since then, various people have talked about the issues of safety, harassment, and free speech, often as a response to that situation, but sometimes as a continuation of other conversations. I have some very specific issues with the things Steven said, but I don't want to write about them at this moment. Instead, I want to address something that comes up over and over in these conversations, and always from men. "What are the rules?" "How can I know how to behave if you won't clarify what you want?"

Dear men, please do not ask me to provide to you something that I have never had. I cannot provide you the rules. I do not know what they are, and I never have.

I have spent my entire life, my personal, professional, educational, social, and romantic life, navigating the complexities of human interaction without rules. There has never been a point at which my exact decibel level was approved, the exact number of square inches of skin I can expose has been acceptable, a precise hairstyle I could wear that would clearly communicate who and what I was. I have spent my entire life being judged by a set of shifting rules. I have spent my entire life being lied to about what those rules were. If I talk too softly, no one listens, but if I speak more loudly, I am bitchy and dismissed. If I am clear and logical, I am mocked for inadequately mimicking maleness, but if I am emotional, I am mocked for being too feminine and not worth paying attention to. There is no level of dress that does not open me up to either being a prude or a slut.

The penalties for transgressing these ever-shifting "rules" vary. Sometimes, it's just being unpersoned. Sometimes it is getting a bad job-performance review. Sometimes, it's unwanted and uncomfortable conversations. Always, at the back of my mind, has been the knowledge that if I girl wrong at the wrong guy, I might be physically assaulted. And if that were to happen, my entire girl-ness would then be on trial. What was I wearing? What did I say? How did I say it? Was it my fault? Oh, yes, some percentage of the population will assert, it was totally my fault. Because I didn't follow a rule that, you know, doesn't actually apply all the time, isn't written down, is entirely contextual, and nobody every told me in the first place.

Rules are a luxury that I have never had. The only way rules have ever applied to me is as a stick to beat me with. They are a shifting landscape of horror. I don't know if all-male spaces have clear, comfortable rules that everybody knows and the penalties are clear. I rather doubt it, but I don't know. What I do know is that to be a woman in this culture is to be constantly moving through a space where expectations are variable, and are rigidly enforced on a whim, and can dramatically affect my life.

When we talk about harassment, safety, and safe spaces, stop asking me for rules. You never gave me any, and so I have none to give you. All I can offer you is this shifting, difficult, dangerous, ambiguous space that I live in. If you want to be an ally, if, indeed, you want to be my friend, you must learn to inhabit this uncomfortable space with me. You must accept that there aren't clear rules where you can know that you are right.

You get upset that I am enraged over how you say something rather than engaging with what you "actually" said. You are ignoring the fact that I have spent my entire fucking life trying to divine what is really meant by so-called innocent words. I have never been able to take at face value a compliment, an invite to drinks after work, a comment about my clothing, an inquiry into my health. I have spent my entire life carefully navigating the unspoken, because the penalty for getting it wrong was my reputation, or worse. Again, always, I worry about violence. Because that is life, for me, as a woman. And you? You reveal much more than you know with your word choice, and your demand to be taken literally is a cowardly retreat from what we both know you said.

If you truly want challenging conversations where people tell you things that you have never heard, before, the very first thing you must do is shut the fuck up. You cannot hear me when you are talking. And if you truly want to have your mind blown by concepts and ideas that are new to you, you must at least make sure that the conversational space is comfortable enough for other people to tell you the truth. If the only reason you are talking is so that you can argue, you aren't listening. If you aren't listening, why should I talk? There is an issue of volume. If you and people like you are shouting the same thing over and over, then people like me, with a smaller platform and a softer voice, are drowned out. If you care about free speech, then you should care about the voices you are overwhelming. If all you care about is talking, you can do that without me.

I invite you to be with me in my discomfort, my uncertainty, my highly contingent and contextual life. I invite you to talk with me, and help me navigate these shifting sands of changing expectations. But I also suggest that you pay attention, because I have lived here my entire life, and near as I can tell, this is a landscape entirely new to you.
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Posted by Elyse


Lost and Found Sisters

by Jill Shalvis
June 20, 2017 · William Morrow Paperbacks
RomanceContemporary RomanceNew Adult

Jill Shalvis is my go-to feel good author for contemporaries. I was stoked to see she had a new series coming out (Lost and Found Sisters is the first book in the Wildstone series). I enjoyed the book, but strictly speaking, it’s not a romance novel. So I enjoyed what I got -but I didn’t get what I expected. While I can’t fault the book for being tagged as a romance at places like Goodreads, I did have issues with how many plotlines were packed into one novel. There’s a lot going on, and the ending felt like a lot of it came together too fast.

Now, there is a romance plot line here and it’s an important part of the story, but it takes a backseat to the story of the heroine finding her place in the world and finding her family. Since the romance isn’t the fuel that drives the novel, and since the book is so focused on those other elements, this book falls into the category of Women’s Fiction.

For the record, I hate the term “Women’s Fiction” because it implies that women and men can’t enjoy the same things, and I hate when it’s used as a marketing tool to put a bunch of books with Adirondack chairs and flip-flops on the cover onto a table at Barnes and Noble. It’s Mother’s Day! Get your flip-flop and Adirondack chair books here!


Lost and Found Sisters is a really heartfelt, funny, sweet novel. It also features rogue chickens, a sassy one-eyed cat, and a geriatric golden retriever with hideous farts.

Quinn Weller is a sous chef in Los Angeles whose personal life has stalled after her sister, Beth, died two years ago. Quinn is just going through the motions now, numb to just about everything. Then one day she’s approached by a lawyer who tells her that was actually adopted and that her birth mother has died. Quinn’s birth mother has left behind a café in the small town of Wildstone, CA, and has bequeathed it to Quinn, and to Quinn’s fifteen-year-old sister, Tilly.

So for two years Quinn has been grieving the death of Beth, the sister she’s known her whole life, and now she finds out she has a sister that she’s never met, who is now more or less alone in the world.

Quinn goes to Wildstone, where she has a little breakdown on the beach. It’s there that she meets Mick Hennessey and his dog, Cooper, the one with the horrid gas. Cooper, with his big dopey golden smile, offers Quinn some comfort while she processes. Dogs are great, y’all.

For clarification, Quinn did not know she was adopted, nor that she and Beth were not (as it turns out) biologically related. Quinn and Tilly are. I have no idea about the legalities surrounding informing someone they were adopted after a birth parent’s death. I have, however,  spent time with geriatric golden retrievers and vouch that their farts are legitimately horrible.

Most of the book is about Quinn trying to connect with Tilly who is 1. fifteen 2. just lost her only parent and caregiver and 3. reasonably upset about shit and not ready to trust anyone. Quinn and Tilly both struggle with the fact that their mom didn’t tell them the truth about each other, and both are still badly hurting. Quinn is also upset at her adoptive parents for not being honest with her, either. It’s pretty shitty to find out you’re adopted from a lawyer.

Quinn has a life waiting for her back in LA with a good job, the guy her parents wish she’d marry, and friends who love her. In Wildstone, she has a café that the locals want reopened, a sister who is pushing her away, and a yard full of chickens who like to escape.

She also has Mick. He’s in Wildstone after the death of his father, helping his mother clean out the house and settle affairs. Turns out Mick’s dad was not an awesome guy, and he’s struggling to make peace with his own grief and anger.

Shalvis is really talented at writing characters who are struggling through complicated, difficult emotions and at making that journey feel genuine, but never heavy. For all its discussion of grief and disappointment in parents, this is not a depressing book. Rogue chickens help with that, of course.

There were scenes that kicked me in the Feels pretty strongly. Quinn sometimes sees Beth and talks to her – not as a hallucination nor a dream. I lost my brother-in-law suddenly to an undiagnosed heart condition (aortic dissection) six years ago. I still talk to him sometimes, and I still feel him here with me. The Quinn and Beth scenes made me tear up a little because it felt so close to home.

The romance between Quinn and Mick is sexy and it’s satisfying, but it’s not what’s driving the novel. For the most part, the conflict between them comes from the fact that Quinn is debating radically altering her life. Does she stay in Wildstone and become Tilly’s guardian or does she go back to LA? It’s not a great time to start a new relationship.

The primary conflict of the novel is Quinn finding her place, either in Wildstone or LA, and making peace with her parents, as well as with the family she didn’t know she had. I liked that there were no right answers presented for Quinn. There was never a clear path set out for her with regard to Tilly or the café or even Mick. No one tries to guilt her into guardianship (which was given to a neighbor after Tilly’s mom’s death).

Her relationship with Tilly also runs hot and cold, which to me seems like pretty realistic interactions with a fifteen year old. Sometimes it’s fun and popcorn and movies and adopting a one-eyed cat who wants to eat your chickens. Sometimes Tilly isn’t talking to her.

Even though this wasn’t really a romance I enjoyed the book. The only real problem was there was too much going on for one book to handle. Quinn and Tilly’s relationship could easily take up an entire book by itself, and when you throw in Quinn’s romance with Mick and her trying to reconcile the fact that her parents lied to her for her entire life…that’s a lot of plot.

The other issue is there are also subplots about the town of Wildstone struggling to stay afloat, a character named Brock who is the guy Quinn’s parents want her to marry (and whom I suspect is sequel bait), and a little bit of a suspense element at the end. If I listed everything that goes on in this novel, this would be a seriously long review. As it was, it’s too much for one novel and detracts from the overall story.

Lost and Found Sisters isn’t a perfect book, and it’s not really a romance. It made me laugh and it made me tear-up, but it wasn’t what I was expected when I picked it up.

Jun. 21st, 2017 04:07 am

Story Sale! "Gifts Tell Truth"

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Posted by Heather Rose Jones

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 21:07

I just got an acceptance letter from Lace and Blade 4, an anthology of...well, of stories that the words "lace and blade" conjure up, for "Gifts Tell Truth", a new Alpennia story about Vicomtesse Jeanne de Cherdillac in her wild 20s (and a French spy/opera singer). The anthology won't be coming out until 2018, so that's plenty of time for you to get excited about it.

Major category: 
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Posted by Editor

by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

WorldCon in Helsinki is THE social event of the year, and we’re all really looking forward to it. However, for many people, it might be the first time traveling to a country where English is not the native language. This can be nerve-wracking because it is impossible to know what to expect. In a vague attempt to help, I’ve created this ten-point list of how to cope.

1) Research before you go. Read articles. Pick up a travel book. If you are comfortable with Reddit, browse through https://www.reddit.com/r/helsinki/ or even take part in https://www.reddit.com/r/Worldcon75/ and get to know people before you even arrive. Use Google Street View to explore your neighborhood. Look up the address and phone number of the American consulate. Install Duolingo and practice five minutes of Finnish a day for four weeks.

2) Immerse yourself in culture. It’s extremely rare to meet someone in Helsinki who does not speak English, so save your study time for exploring Finnish history and literature. There’s plenty of speculative fiction in English by Finnish authors including Leena Krohn, Hannu Rajaniemi, Emmi Elina Itäranta, Antti Tuomainen, Jyrki Vainonen, and of course, Tove Jansson’s Tales from Moominvalley!

3) Relax. You can get by with pretty much no research at all. One important thing to understand about continental Europe is that the Brits have been traveling all over it for generations, insisting on their right to be 100% British. If you feel like things are going wrong, fake a British accent. It might not fix the issue but it will at least ensure that the Brits get blamed instead of us.

4) Search Google for specific questions. You’ll be surprised at how many things are documented in detail and Google as a search engine is particularly good at finding the discussions where someone else has asked this before. I end up with long lists of things to look up, ranging from public transport to etiquette to neighborhood gossip. At worst, if you don’t find any information, it either means your question is too specific (“What’s the plumbing like at Aleksanterinkatu 33?”) or, more likely, it is simply not an issue and you can wait until you arrive. If you are really nervous, look up tourist information and try mailing them to ask. Pretend it is for a novel, if you like. I’ve asked about everything from “How easy is it to find parking in city center on a Sunday?” to “Whom should I contact to talk about indigenous plants in the 1880s.”

5) Smile. People say you can recognize Americans because they are always smiling broadly. In Europe, my smiles are one of my defining features. Hell, as a Californian, even New Yorkers are bemused by my insistence at smiling at everyone. Smiling is a fast way to signal that you are a tourist. It also helpfully lets people know that you are laid back and not one of those WHY DO YOU NOT DO THINGS LIKE WE DO AT HOME shouty tourists. It can give you an air of mystery. If you smile constantly, locals might assume that you are on drugs. Embrace this: it’s as good an explanation for your confusion as any.

6) Don’t get offended. People won’t greet you happily. They won’t ask you how you are. They won’t insist that you have a nice day. This does not mean that they are upset at you. They are not putting you down nor are they deliberately being rude. It’s just a standard transaction and it is not at all personal. Just keep smiling until they start to look nervous.

7) Plan to disappear. You probably don’t have any reason to visit Helsinki again. You can be stupid. You can fulfill every stereotype of the brash tourist. You can admit that you are completely lost. You can do everything wrong and embarrass yourself to death and it will not matter: you will never see these people again. Speak to strangers on the street. Ask questions.

8) Eat anything. It’s easy to make assumptions of how dinner works and I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen people stumble at this hurdle. “But they must have Swiss enchiladas here, we are right next to Switzerland!” It can be confusing, especially if you are craving carne asada. The harsh truth is that your chances of decent Mexican food in Europe are slim and none. The more laid back you can be about what you eat, the easier it will be. But also, if you are hungry and confused and just can’t face negotiating any more foreign things, then forget being cool and slip into McDonalds. I won’t tell anyone. Once you are fed and watered, you’ll find everything else easier to deal with.

9) Don’t panic. Thousands of Americans pass through Helsinki every year. There is NO WAY you are going to be the worst. If you avoid referring to architecture older than your country as “cute” and make a point of speaking slowly and avoiding slang then you are already a step ahead of most tourists. If you ask questions, rather than announce what you think you already know, you’ll be in the 99th percentile.

10) You’ve been invited in like a vampire; it’s too late for them to turn you away now. The Helsinki team worked VERY HARD to get the bid, knowing that Worldcon is extremely biased towards the US. You are their treasured guest. They want you in Helsinki. They want your trip to be successful. There are Finnish people on every street corner who are hoping that you are having a good time. You may not need to ask for help, but if you do, know that they are there and that they care.

Above all, plan to make friends. I’m looking forward to seeing you there and so are a whole lot of other people. It’s going to be fantastic.


Sylvia Spruck Wrigley was born in Germany and spent her childhood in Los Angeles. She emigrated to Scotland where she guided German tourists around the Trossachs and searched for the supernatural. She now lives in Tallinn where she writes about plane crashes and Estonian air maidens, which have more in common than most people might imagine. Her fiction was nominated for a Nebula in 2014 and her short stories have been translated into over a dozen languages.  Her first novella, The Borrowed Child, was published in 2015 by Tor.com and is available now at all good book stores. You can find out more about her at http://www.intrigue.co.uk/

Jun. 20th, 2017 06:06 pm


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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Another UWTC season is nearly over and once again I am permitted to leave my dress shoes in their bag in coat check.
Jun. 20th, 2017 11:55 pm

Diva Plavalaguna

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[personal profile] carisma_sensei posting in [community profile] nexticon


The Fifth Element always brings me back good memories. I decided to icon the Diva since I have never done so and she is one of the most amazing characters in history ♥

June 2017

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Words To Live By

Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins. ~Neil Gaiman

Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in. ~Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The road to hell is paved with adverbs. ~Stephen King

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read. ~Mark Twain

I feel free and strong. If I were not a reader of books I could not feel this way. ~Walter Tevis

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one. ~George R.R. Martin

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