[sticky entry] Sticky: Welcome!

Sep. 9th, 2013 08:05 pm
calissa: (Default)
Hi there!

This post is for those people I've just met and/or those who want to get to know me. I enjoy making friends and getting to know people, so I encourage you to introduce yourself if you haven't already.

Family )


Interests and organisations )

I do have some health troubles, mostly to do with my upper body, arms and hands. Sometimes managing the pain can be a challenge and can limit the amount of time I can write and spend on the computer.

I also like to get to know people. So if you have any questions, feel free to ask. :D

Last updated on 15 August 2016.
calissa: (Calissa)

Illustration by Cécile Matthey

For today’s post, I’ve invited Rivqa Rafael to discuss her forthcoming anthology Problem Daughters.

Problem Daughters will amplify the voices of women who are sometimes excluded from mainstream feminism. It will be an anthology of beautiful, thoughtful, unconventional speculative fiction and poetry around the theme of intersectional feminism, with a specific focus on the lives and experiences of women of colour, QUILTBAG women, disabled women, sex workers, and all intersection of these. Edited by Nicolette Barischoff, Rivqa Rafael and Djibril al-Ayad, the anthology will be published by Futurefire.net Publishing and is currently being crowdfunded.

Discussion of any one of these variations from the dominant paradigm could fill books and university syllabi, let alone essays of their own, but this post will focus on race, and specifically how Problem Daughters will manage different views on, and expressions of, racial identities.

My co-editors and I are spread across time zones: Djibril lives in the United Kingdom, Nicolette in the United States, and I’m in Australia. In each of these countries, and others, racial identities are constructed in different ways. That can be a good thing – diversity is colourful and great and wonderful! But there’s a negative side too – racism exists everywhere, it just manifests differently in different places (it’s also not uniform within countries, regions or even cities).
Exactly how these differences are expressed in Problem Daughters will depend on the submissions we receive, but there’s so much that could be explored. The colonial and immigration histories of Australia and the US have many similarities, but also differences that are difficult to summarise in a blog post; the UK, as a coloniser of both, is different again.

“Stop the boats,” “build a wall” and Brexit are all different manifestations of the same sentiments; “Asian” is an over-generalised term that refers to different ethnic groups in different countries (South Asian in the UK; East and South-East Asian in the US and Australia); slavery played (and continues to play) out in different ways across the world. Can we apply a blanket rule of “racism can’t exist against white people” when racists in the UK discriminate against Polish immigrants? What’s the “correct” terminology to refer to x ethnic group? These and other dilemmas merit research, consideration; they’re stories that could unfold in myriad ways.

To go into just one example, I’d like to talk about a film (even though this is a book blog, sorry!) that I loved, but that wasn’t without problematic elements – Mad Max: Fury Road. Early in the film, Max has a delusion (or hallucination or vision?) of a traditionally dressed Aboriginal man; apart from that, on my first viewing, the film struck me as being overwhelmingly white. My specific thoughts, as an Australian viewer, were: where are the Aboriginal Australians? Where are the Asian people? But something I didn’t do was assume that every single character who was present was white. Why? Because, to be blunt, who am I to know if someone is a person of colour or just a bit tanned?

So when I hit social media after I got home from the cinema and started seeing calls of whitewashing, it wasn’t surprising to see Australians follow these up with, “well yes, but… Zoe Kravitz, Courtney Eaton, Megan Gale, iOTA? No?”. For some North Americans, the answer was no, not good enough, except maybe Kravitz. These actors weren’t parsed as people of colour (itself a less common term in Australia) by those viewers because of a lack of familiarity with Australian demographics and Māori people, and because the film didn’t specifically name identities (Furiosa is never called disabled, either). And there’s plenty to critique there, sure, but a paper bag test just isn’t good enough in this instance.

Another hugely important critique in the Australian context is Stephanie Lai’s unpacking of how the film appropriated Indigenous Australian narratives … without including identifiably Indigenous Australian characters. (Yes, some of the extras could, in theory, have been light-skinned First Australians, but even that would be a weak connection in this context.) In the same way as I sometimes miss a blatant US-centric racist stereotype until it’s pointed out to me by an American friend, the tragedy of the Stolen Generation isn’t usually foremost on American minds.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. No one can know or experience everything, or focus on every injustice in the world at once. So, our starting point in selecting stories for Problem Daughters will be to acknowledge that, as we’re hoping to attract writers from around the world, their experiences will vary, and that will manifest in their stories.

We’ll be more familiar with some of these experiences than others, but we hope that with an inclusionary approach, we can showcase a range of experiences around race. In short, we’re making a space for difference, including difficult differences – that’s literally the point of the anthology. We can’t wait to see what people come up with, and what conversations might start because of these stories.

Rivqa Rafael

Rivqa Rafael is a queer Jewish writer and editor based in Sydney. She started writing speculative fiction well before earning degrees in science and writing, although they have probably helped. Her previous gig as subeditor and reviews editor for Cosmos magazine likewise fueled her imagination. Her short stories have appeared in Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga Publications), The Never Never Land (CSFG Publishing), and Defying Doomsday (Twelfth Planet Press). In 2016, she won the Ditmar Award for Best New Talent. When she’s not working, she’s most likely child-wrangling, playing video games, or practising her Brazilian Jiujitsu moves. She can be found at rivqa.net and on Twitter as @enoughsnark.

If you’re interested in helping crowdfund Problem Daughters, be sure to check out their Indiegogo campaign. Writers looking to contribute can find details at The Future Fire, but please note the anthology is not yet open for submissions.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

Bitten, Amanda Pillar, Graced, Earl Grey Editing, tea and books, books and tea

Published: Self-published in January 2017
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Series: Graced #2
Genres: Urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Source: Publisher
Reading Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017
Available: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble  ~ Kobo

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The city of Pinton has never been safe…and now a serial killer is on the loose.

Doctor Alice Reive is the city’s coroner, and she’s determined to help find the murderer. Enlisting the assistance of the Honorable Dante Kipling and city guard Elle Brown, they race to track down the killer, before another victim dies.

Hannah Romanov – Dante’s missing twin sister – has spent hundreds of years living on an isolated mountain. But her quiet life is thrown into chaos after she discovers a baby left in the wilds to die. Hannah will do anything to ensure the infant’s survival, even if it means travelling to the worst place in the world for her – Pinton.

Bitten is a new novel in Amanda Pillar’s Graced universe. It features some returning characters, but the focus is mostly on new characters or incidental characters from the previous novel. As such, it stands alone reasonably well and should be accessible to new readers.

There were so many potential ships in this novel. The blurb had me half expecting a f/f romance. However, it soon became clear this was unlikely. Like Graced, this was a novel that kept me on my toes; readers going into it expecting a pure paranormal romance are likely to be disappointed. The pairings happen quite a way into the story, with one getting started almost at the end. Instead, romance is balanced out with a hefty dose of crime and fantasy road trip.

The development of non-romantic relationships make it equally satisfying. I enjoyed seeing the strong friendship between two of the main male characters and to learn a bit more of how that came to be. There were also some great family dynamics, especially within Hannah’s family. And I appreciated that we got to spend some time with characters from Graced and to see how their adopted family dynamic is developing.

The story does make use of the fated mate trope, which is one I really don’t get along with. However, I was really impressed with how the trope was handled. It makes it clear the attraction the characters feel is instinctual lust and that it’s just one step along the path, with the next being getting to know each other better.

Diversity was a key part of Graced and remains strong in Bitten. The characters have a wide variety of skin tones. Hannah has something akin to a touch phobia and Alice has some mild OCD tendencies. I wasn’t wholly sold on the latter, but I have no experience with it, so your mileage may vary.

I found the ending of the crime plot a little weak but it’s difficult to say more on this without spoilers.

However, I can say that the characters and world-building make it well worth the read. The novel also finishes with a revelation that will have some very interesting implications for the world and I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: (Default)
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The railing behind the sculpture overlooks the platypus pond at Tidbinbilla's wetland sanctuary.

The hot weather continues unabated. The aircon has been getting a work out and I've been tearing through the ice. I really need to get organised and make myself a proper batch of iced tea. But despite my complaining, I'm managing fairly well. I've had a few aches today which may suggest a storm might arrive tomorrow. A quick look at the weather bureau seems to confirm this theory. The rain will make it muggy, but the garden will welcome the water. The vegetable patch is looking a little wilted.





Work continues. After complaining how difficult I'd found writing my first review of the year, I was a little amused to discover it took me half the time to write my second review of the year. This was despite them being of comparable length. I really should learn to cut myself some slack.

Today I actually managed to wrangle a little spare time to deal with some non-urgent admin-type stuff. And promptly found that I was making more work for myself. One of my tasks was to voted in the GUFF race. GUFF is a fan fund that will be sending an Australian fan to Helsinki for WorldCon later this year. There are four nominees. I was talking with one of them on Twitter around the same time I was voting. It was about another matter entirely, but I found myself thinking about the time I ran for NAFF (which is basically the same thing, but to AussieCon rather than WorldCon). I'd offered the other nominees a chance to guest post on my blog. I figured the same thing might be useful for GUFF. So, I contacted all the nominees about being interviewed and they agreed.

On one hand I wonder why I do this to myself. It's not like I don't have enough on my plate. On the other hand, I think this is something that will be of interest to the community.

The drawback to all this work is that I've been skimping on time for my own writing again.
calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

Read My Valentine, Earl Grey Editing, romance reading challenge

I’ve mentioned many times that I’m a sucker for a reading challenge and I have especially loved the themed challenges Carl has run at Stainless Steel Droppings. There’s Once Upon A Time for fantasy from March until June. There’s Readers Imbibing at Peril for dark fantasy, supernatural and horror over the Halloween period. And there’s The Sci-fi Experience over December and January. These challenges pretty much cover all of my favourite genres except one: romance.

To cover this gap I ran Read My Valentine last year and spent February reading and reviewing romance novels. I enjoyed it so much that I decided I would run it again this year. It’s a low-pressure challenge where you can set your own target. I think this year I’ll be aiming to read at least 5 romance novels. I’ll also be reviewing plenty of romance novels this month, including m/f, m/m and f/f pairings.

If you’re interested in joining in, you can leave a link to your sign-up post below or use #ReadMyValentine for Twitter and Instagram. And if you have any great romance recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: (Default)
IMG_20170108_092618_169

I'm trying a bit of a different style of blogging here, so I hope you'll bear with me. It may end up being a bit scattered.




The teabag holder above was a recent gift from a friend. Despite rumours to the contrary, I still use teabags fairly frequently and (unbeknown to my friend) had lost my tag in my tea at least twice in the preceding 24 hours. The fellow above was one is a set of four, each a little different and all very useful.




Blackberry season has begun. My in-laws presented me with a large container from their bushes. They disappeared at an alarming rate--Sahaquiel and I vanquished the last of them this evening, aided by copious amounts of vanilla ice cream. The blackberries are a little tart this early in the season, but that's just the way I like them.

The weather has been hot. Not Perth hot (also known as face-of-the-sun hot), but unpleasant. It usually cools down here at night, but not lately. Everyone has been walking around like zombies. It's particularly cruel, since most people returned to work this week after the Christmas break.




Speaking of work, it was back to writing reviews this week, and wow, do I feel rusty. It took me a bit longer than usual to write up the first one for the year. It's so easy to forget that reviews have their own style and conventions that I need time to remember. I'm hoping the next one will be a little easier. (I'll find out tomorrow)




I got my email to say I can get started with my nominations for the Hugo Awards. I've got a few thoughts about what I'm going to nominate and my usual grumbles about the domination of the field by the US and the UK. But before I can start on that, I really need to get the last of the reading for the Aurealis Awards done first.
calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

Earl Grey Editing, 2017 Reading Challenges

If you’ve been following me for even a short time, you probably know I’m a sucker for a reading challenge. Many of the ones in which I participate are seasonal or only run for a short time. However, I usually sign up for a couple of year-long challenges, just to keep things interesting.

2016 Challenge Wrap-ups ) 2017 Challenges )

What about you? What reading goals and challenges are you participating in this year?

 

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: (Default)
IMG_20170106_091732_677

Wow, the first week of the year has gone already.

Things have been a bit unsettled for the last few days. There have been a couple of factors. A weather change has been coming through, so Friday and most of Saturday were high pain days for me and left me feeling pretty wiped. It took me longer than it should have to realise I wasn't going to get anything productive done on Friday and settle in with a book instead.

Another thing that has been on my mind has been the demise of LiveJournal. I wasn't really active over there, but had kept my account to keep in touch with a few diehard friends who weren't really active anywhere else. However, now that LJ have moved their servers to Russia, even those few friends have jumped ship and joined up here. I've also gained a few new friends from [personal profile] st_aurafina's friending meme.

It's had me rethinking how I use this journal. I tend to swing back and forth about how much of my personal life I share in public and under filter. At the moment, I'm inclined to be a bit more public. I like getting to know people and I realise it can be difficult for other people to get to know me if everything is under filter. I expect at some point later down the track, I will swing back the other way again.

Also, why don't I write more about my fandoms? I grew up mostly without the internet and wasn't interested in the same media that my friends were. My consciousness of fandom didn't really start until just a few years ago. So I'm still getting used to the idea this is something I can write about and that people will be interested in.
calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

Earl Grey Editing, Mt TBR, books and tea, tea and books, A Shattered Empire, Mitchell Hogan, Special, Georgia Blain, Black, Fleur Ferris, Yellow, Gemina, Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman, The Road to Winter, Mark Smith, The Map of Bones, Francesca Haig Happy New Year! 2016 was a rough year for many, so I hope 2017 has been kind to you so far. My holiday was lovely and I was glad to spend some time with my family. I also manged to get plenty of reading done, which was a great way to see out the year.

Speaking of which, it’s time for me to take a good look at my reading stats for the year.

2016 Reading Stats ) Mt TBR Status ) Books Read ) Books Acquired ) Online Reading )

What have you read this month?

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

Earl Grey Editing, Favourite books of 2016, Den of Wolves, Juliet Marillier, The Lyre Thief, Jennifer Fallon, Kings Rising, C.S. Pacat, The Earthsea Quartet, Ursula Le Guin, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor, Ancillary Sword, Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie

With Christmas now less than a week away, Earl Grey Editing is shutting down for the year. I’ll be on holiday as of today until 6 January, making this my last post of 2016.

Before I go, I thought I’d share my favourite reads from this year. These are not books that were necessarily published this year, just read by me this year. There are some caveats:

  1. I’m excluding anything I’ve read as part of Aurealis judging, including related books published as part of the same series. You’ll get my thoughts on those once the awards have been presented.
  2. I realise the year hasn’t finished yet. However, I don’t anticipate having time to read anything that isn’t an Aurealis nomination (see #1).

Without further ado, and in the approximate order I read them:

Favourite Reads of 2016 )

Those are my top picks for this year. What’s on your list?

I hope those of you who are celebrating at this time of the year have a wonderful holiday. May the new year bring you an abundance of tea and books. I look forward to seeing you in 2017.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A black and white photo of a large, dark teapot and a small Chinese teacup with a fish painted on the side (Tea)

 

Earl Grey Editing's favourite photos of 2016

Photography has become an interest of mine over the last few years. I don’t have a fancy camera, but find my phone generally does the trick (sometimes outfitted with a macro lens). Since the inception of Earl Grey Editing’s blog, I’ve used my own photography for posts. At the beginning of the year, I took it to a new level by shooting photos for my reviews instead of simply incorporating an image of the cover. It’s a bit more labour-intensive, but I’ve been pleased with the results.

As something fun, I thought I’d share my favourite 20 photos I’ve taken this year: 10 from the blog (or related social media accounts), and 10 from my personal life. It was surprisingly difficult to whittle down the list!

Earl Grey Editing )

 

Personal )

It has been a tough year for many, making it easy to forget the beauty that has been present. These photos serve as my reminder. May 2017 bring even more moments like these.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

Earl Grey Editing, tea and books, books and tea, Ditmar Awards, Nebula Awards, The Lyre Thief, Jennifer Fallon, Den of Wolves, Juliet Marillier, Vigil, Angela Slatter, Kings Rising, C.S. Pacat

With 2016 almost done, the SFF community is already gearing up for the 2017 awards season. To assist with the nominating process, I thought I’d share a list of works I’ve reviewed that are eligible.

Ditmar Awards ) Nebula Awards )

Happy voting, everyone! If you have recommendations (particularly for short stories), I’d love to hear them!

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A black and white photo of a large, dark teapot and a small Chinese teacup with a fish painted on the side (Tea)

Loose-leaf Links, Earl Grey Editing, loose leaf tea, Daintree chai, Daintree, Daintree tea, tea, The Tea Chest

Loose-leaf Links is a feature where I gather together the interesting bits and pieces on sci-fi and fantasy I’ve come across and share them with you over tea. Today’s tea is Daintree Chai, the signature blend of The Tea Chest. It contains star anise (among other ingredients) which gives it a strong aniseed flavour.

Awards News ) Community and Conventions ) On Equity ) For Writers ) For Readers )

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

Aurora Decima, Amanda Bridgeman, science fiction, sci-fi, space opera, Earl Grey Editing, book review, books and tea, tea and books

Published: Self-published in November 2016
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Series: Aurora #6
Genres: Science fiction, space opera, military sci-fi
Source: Author
Reading Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge 2016
Available: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~  Kobo

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This review contains spoilers for previous books.

The tenth year war is coming . . .

Carrie Welles has survived more attacks than she can count, but each one has made her stronger. She refuses to be a victim anymore. While her nemesis, Sharley, continues to be a threat, she works with Harris and the Aurora team to protect the future, vowing to raise her children and fight as the soldier-mother she was destined to be.

Saul Harris has had visions of the Zeta ships hitting Earth years before they’re due, but has no proof to warn the UNF. Scraping together a small contingent of Alpha units, he prepares for the onslaught as best he can. He embraces his gift and ‘connection’ with Welles and they dig further into his ancestry, only to have more haunting truths come to light.

As the invasion approaches, the new Aurora team members must find their place in the crew, while old team members reunite. They must band together with the Originals and their fellow Space and Earth Duty troops if they are to defend Earth against this attack.

But is it too little too late? Have Harris and Carrie done enough to protect their future? As they fight for survival against the Zetas in a battle that stretches across the UNF Space Zone, they soon realise the price of their freedom might be higher than they were expecting to pay.

I read the first five books of the Aurora series in quick succession, so Aurora: Decima is the first book in the series I’ve had to wait for. Even though it has been a little over a year, the author managed to draw me back into the world without too much trouble. However, as the sixth book in the series, I wouldn’t recommend it for new readers–too much has happened by this point. Even as a returning reader, there were a few points at which I wished for a cast list.

Having said that, I rather enjoyed the dynamism of the cast and particularly enjoyed the addition of a few new characters. Carrie’s home, the Fortress, is run by an AI called Archie. There were a few moments when Archie displayed quite the sense of humour and its personality remains distinct throughout the book. New crew member Tikaani also displayed a sense of humour. However, while it was nice to see another woman on board the Aurora (and a Inuit woman to boot), she seemed mostly a place-filler and we never really got to know her beyond the superficial.

There was some nice development of existing characters. Carrie and Captain Harris have matured nicely, turning their arrogance into confidence. Lieutenant Gold also makes a return and plays a key role in the story.

The structure has improved on previous books. The beginning remains a little slow to get going. While the prologue recapped some useful information, the similarities in character motivation between the prologue and the first chapter gave a feeling of redundancy. There were also a few times in the early parts of the books where the story felt like it was treading water–particularly concerning the relationship between Carrie and McKinley, and between Captain Harris and his son. However, that quickly improved. Dividing the story into parts gave a smoother feeling to the time jumps (which were significant in places). Previous books in the series have had a bit of a drawn-out ending, which I was also pleased to see Decima avoided. The tension really ratchets up in the second half and I found the finale nicely paced.

While the structure was tighter, I found the prose still a bit clunky in places. The uses of the terms Alpha and Jumbo were a bit excessive, beating the reader over the head with the fact that most of the characters are no longer human rather than trusting the reader to keep in mind the differences between the humans and the super-soldiers.

The story continues to be very heteronormative (with one very minor exception) and gender binary. However, within that it does some interesting things with the themes of bodily autonomy and reproductive rights. I appreciated the way it gender-flipped one of the prominent themes of the series and began to examine it from a new angle. I very much hope to see more of this in the next book.

Overall, Aurora: Decima makes an excellent addition to the series and well worth the read.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact, Alison Goodman, A Tangle of Gold, Jaclyn Moriarty, Book of Lies, Teri Terry, The Bone Queen, Alison Croggon, Allegiance, Confused, Wanda Wiltshire, TBR, books and tea, tea and books, Earl Grey Editing

November has been… an interesting month. I got off to a roaring start but eye strain slowed me down significantly and I continue to be slow to recover. So I’m pleased that I still managed to finish a reasonable number of books.

As expected, my #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks stats continue to slip. My goal for the challenge was to make sure 60% of the books I read this year come from Mt TBR. I finished October at 45% and November puts me at 44%. With all the Aurealis reading I have to get through, it’s unlikely to improve before the year ends.

Books with an asterisk on the list below were part of my #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks effort.

Mt TBR Status ) Books Read ) Books Acquired ) Önline )

What have you read this month?

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

The Bone Knife, Intisar Khanani, The Theft of Sunlight, books and tea, tea and books, Earl Grey Editing

Published: October 2012 by Purple Monkey Press
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Series: The Theft of Sunlight #0.5
Genres: Fantasy
Source: Smashwords
Reading Challenges: Read My Own Damn Books
Available:  Amazon ~ Barnes & NobleKobo ~ Smashwords ~ Free across all platforms

Rae knows how to look out for family. Born with a deformed foot, she feigns indifference to the pity and insults that come her way. Wary of all things beautiful, Rae instantly distrusts their latest visitor: an appallingly attractive faerie. Further, his presence imperils the secret her sister guards. But when the local townspeople show up demanding his blood, Rae must find a way to protect both her sister’s secret and their guest. Even if that means risking herself.

I love Intisar’s work and The Bone Knife has done nothing to change my mind. It was the perfect short read while I was dealing with eye strain and Aurealis judging.

Rae was a great character, particularly because she was a bit unusual. It’s not often the staid oldest sister gets to be the focus of a story. More often it’s the magical middle sister or the impulsive youngest. Rae is pragmatic–even a little dour at times–and I loved that about her.

I also enjoyed her relationship with her family. There’s clearly a lot of love between them. Nevertheless, Rae remains aware of the way they treat her differently and their love makes their pity harder to bear in some ways. Rae’s family are also conscious of this and their guilt leaks out onto the page.

The Bone Knife is short, barely scraping into the category of novelette. The story is tightly written and manages to deal with a number of powerful themes. As with much of Intisar’s work, it deals primarily with fear and with being an outsider: of being female in a patriarchal society, of being a foreigner in a xenophobic world, and of being disabled in a world geared for the able-bodied. In this regard, the story reminded me a lot of another of Intisar’s work: Thorn. So it seems fitting that the two are set in the same world, though I was unaware of it at the time of reading (and doesn’t really come up in the story).

While Rae bears the brunt of judgement from others, she is not beyond being judgemental herself. When the faerie Stonemane arrives at her family’s ranch, her behaviour towards him is dictated solely by the negative stereotypes she has heard about his kind. I felt this served to humanise her while also highlighting how being marginalised in certain ways doesn’t necessarily mean one is above marginalising others.

Despite the connection to Thorn, this story stands on its own. However, there were some significant loose ends which I anticipate will be tied up in the forthcoming series.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

Strain

Nov. 21st, 2016 08:00 am
calissa: A black and white photo of a large, dark teapot and a small Chinese teacup with a fish painted on the side (Tea)

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Apparently there’s such a thing as too much reading.

Last week I had some trouble with my eyesight. Both the doctor and the optometrist agreed it was eye strain. I had to drastically reduce the amount of time I spent reading and using the computer. As a consequence, there will be no posts this week.

At this stage, blogging should resume as normal next week. However, my recovery has been slow and I may need some extra time. I’ll be sure to let you know if that turns out to be the case.

In the meantime, I’m keeping myself entertained by listening to the archives of the Reading the End podcast. The Demographically-Similar Jennys are utterly charming and make podcasting seem like a lot of fun. They review books across a range of genres (though tending towards the literary), play games and discuss their thoughts on common tropes. I highly recommend them.

Hope to see you all next week.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: (Hinata hugs)

Reading for comfort and defiance, Den of Wolves, Juliet Marillier, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, Becky Chambers, The Wayfarers, Blackthorn and Grim, books and tea, tea and books, Earl Grey Editing

The US election left many of my friends feeling frightened and angry. It left me worried for their safety and livelihoods. At first, I felt helpless all the way over here in Australia. But I’m a big believer in the power of small things. So I started tweeting book recommendations. Since it seemed to help a few other people, I thought I’d recap the lists here. I’ve also included a few additional resources.

Reading for Comfort )

 

Reading for Defiance )

And if you have any of your own recommendations, please share them!

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

Blazing Dawn, Becca Lusher, books and tea, tea and books, dragons, Earl Grey Editing

Published: Self-published in August 2016
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Series: Dragonlands #1
Genres: Fantasy, romance
Source: Author
Available: Amazon ~ Barnes & NobleKobo ~ Smashwords

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The author is a friend. I have done my best to give an unbiased review.

Nera has been fascinated by dragons all her life. Now, as a Rift Rider Lieutenant, her chance to see them up close has come. The appointment to spend five years as an escort to the human ambassador seems like the ultimate honour and gift, but the dragons she studied in training don’t come anywhere close to the reality awaiting her inside the Dragonlands.

Elder Khennik kin Blazeborn Clan Sunlord has no interest in humans. Thanks to the Cloud Curse that their kind brought down upon the Overworld, Khennik’s kin are close to losing their ancestral desert homelands forever. When he’s assigned as a delegate to the humans upon their arrival, he can’t believe his bad luck. Unlike some dragons, he has no wish for more power or responsibility, but he can’t seem to avoid collecting them. From his desperate kin to his nervous aide, right along to the useless humans, Khennik dreams of the day when he can return to his desert home.

Regardless of personal dreams and opinions, both humans and dragons are about to learn that they often have more in common than they might think or wish. And when trouble descends, the true friends you can count on have little to do with species – and everything to do with spirit.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know I’ve been enjoying Becca’s online serial Wingborn. After all, who doesn’t love Regency-inspired fantasy complete with giant eagles? Blazing Dawn is set in the same world, albeit at least a hundred years in the past. Dragons still roam the Overworld and women are still very much a part of the Rift Riders.

In fact, the women seem to outnumber the men in this particular contingent of the Rift Riders and there are a plethora of other female characters. One of the things that I enjoyed about the book was the way it opened with female friendship. Nera and Anhardyne are opposites in both looks and personality, but are nevertheless firm friends. So I was a little disappointed to see their friendship take a backseat to the action and romance.

But only a little disappointed. The romantic relationships run the gamut of pairings, with m/f, m/m and f/f all present–though it should be stated the m/f relationships tended to be the ones in the spotlight. However, it was the m/m relationship that I enjoyed the most and led to much squeeing over their adorableness. There was also a genderqueer dragon, which surprised and delighted me.

Nera and Khennik are both great characters. Nera is a shy introvert who has only recently made lieutenant. She prefers to let her friends have the spotlight. But get her doing what she loves–namely flying, acrobatics, movement and any combination of the three–and she shines. She’s a character who values duty and loyalty. So it’s no wonder the overly dour Khennik ends up being drawn to her. Now that the Cloud Curse has swallowed up his one joy in life, all that Khennik has left is his duty to his people and his determination to halt the curse. It’s no wonder he starts off as such a grumpy fellow. Watching him soften after a run-in with Nera was a treat.

The Overworld looks a little different in Blazing Dawn than it does in Wingborn. Not only are dragons still present, but their presence makes other things possible, such as airships. I enjoyed these changes and the way they build up the history of the world. This was reinforced by Khennik’s preoccupation with the Cloud Curse, a feature of the world which doesn’t get explored much in Wingborn.

Around the halfway mark, the story shifts its focus significantly in a way that didn’t entirely work for me. Until then, the focus had been very much on the romance and the relationship more generally between the humans and the dragons. The dragons stole the limelight in the second half. While it was interesting to see the humans realise their powerlessness in comparison, it wasn’t in keeping with the themes of equality and cooperation that had been present up until that point. I also found the change a little jarring, as the villain didn’t feel properly integrated with the rest of the story. One scene in particular got surprisingly dark.

However, I generally found Blazing Dawn to generally be a light, fun read with plenty of Lusher’s trademark banter. I’m looking forward to the sequel.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A black and white photo of a large, dark teapot and a small Chinese teacup with a fish painted on the side (Tea)

Earl Grey Editing, Loose-leaf Links, loose-leaf tea, flavoured black tea, Cafe latte, Adore Tea

Loose-leaf Links is a feature where I gather together the interesting bits and pieces on sci-fi and fantasy I’ve come across and share them with you over tea. Today’s tea is Café Latte from Adore Tea. This is one of my new favourite teas, with a strong caramel flavour. It has also been very popular with guests!

Follow Up ) Awards News ) Community and Conventions ) On Equity ) For Writers ) For Readers )

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

A Closed and Common Orbit, Becky Chambers, Wayfarers, science fiction, sci-fi

Published: October 2016 by Hodder & Stoughton
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Series: Wayfarers #2
Genres: Science fiction
Source: NetGalley
Available: Publisher (print) ~ Abbey’s ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~ Dymocks ~ Kobo

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This review contains spoilers for previous books.

Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

I hadn’t read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet when I picked up this review copy of A Closed and Common Orbit, though I’d heard a lot about it. Although the blurb claimed A Closed and Common Orbit was a stand-alone sequel, I’m pretty particular about spoilers. I side-eyed the statement, then went and borrowed a copy of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet from the library. I promptly devoured it, shoved it into the arms of my sci-fi-newbie sweetheart, then dove into this sequel.

It was equally as awesome but in a different way.

I will admit it does stand alone very well. It takes two minor characters from the previous book and tells their stories. The premise of A Closed and Common Orbit involves a spoiler for The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, so if you care about that sort of thing I’d highly recommend starting with the first book (actually, I’d recommend that anyway). I also feel the major alien species involved in this universe get a clearer and more gradual introduction in the first book. However, by and large, it works as a starting point.

Lovelace used to be The Wayfarer‘s AI. At the end of the previous book, her memory is damaged and she has to be rebooted. She wakes up with no recollection of who she once was. To mitigate the grief of the crew, a visiting mechanic, Pepper, invites Lovelace to inhabit an artificial body she has on hand. The two then return to the planet where Pepper has made a life.

A Closed and Common Orbit offers a number of contrasts to the previous book. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet followed an ensemble cast on their journey through space. While it dealt to some extent with identity, the focus was more on cultural differences and how they play out on both the macro and micro scales. A Closed and Common Orbit is a much more intimate book. The cast is smaller, the majority of the action takes place on the surface of two planets, and the focus is on personal identity.

AIs in humanoid bodies are banned, placing great pressure on Lovelace to pass as human or risk destruction. One of the first things she needs to do is choose a name. The significance of names to identity is reinforced by the story’s structure. Each chapter is headed up with the name of the focus character. When Lovelace decides her name is Sindra, the narrative respects this and refers to her by that name rather than continuing to call her by the old one. In this way, the story models good behaviour.

Passing as human is no easy thing for Sindra. There are similarities here to Breq from Ancillary Justice: both have difficulty getting used to being in a singular body and keep reaching for connections that are no longer there. However, Breq was somewhat used to being in a humanoid body through her ancillaries, whereas the experience is completely alien to Sindra. Her difficulties were well thought out and I felt they were portrayed in a convincing way.

While there are a number of differences between the Wayfarer books, there are also a number of similarities. The multiple close third-person perspectives are supplemented by fictional documents, though to a lesser extent than the previous book. There are also paragraphs where characters offer philosophical views. While I found these interesting, they didn’t sit quite as comfortably with me as in the first book, perhaps because their repeated use began to give a sense of it being more of an intrusion from the author than arising naturally from the character.

The books also share a theme of found family. Indeed, the theme is stronger in A Closed and Common Orbit as we watch Pepper effectively raise Sindra while we simultaneously read Pepper’s story of being raised by AIs. And the diversity that helped make The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet such an awesome book continues. This manifested in ways big and small. I particularly appreciated Blue’s stutter and the way an explanation was neither offered nor necessary.

Overall, A Closed and Common Orbit was just as excellent as its predecessor, albeit in a different way. I’ll certainly be buying my own copy of both books.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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