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

Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor, Earl Grey Editing, books and tea, tea and books

Published: March 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Series: Strange the Dreamer #1
Genres: Epic fantasy, YA romance
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.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Strange the Dreamer is another of the gorgeously mythic fantasy romances that Laini Taylor excels at. However, while I enjoyed it thoroughly, it had a few flaws.

Lazlo Strange is a wonderful character likely to appeal to bookworms. He’s not your usual stunningly-attractive hero. Instead, he’s a bit rough around the edges and had his nose broken when a book of fairytales landed on his face–which tells you everything you need to know about Lazlo. He was a highly imaginative boy with a thirst for stories who grew into a librarian with his nose stuck in a book. Before he went adventuring, of course. He works hard and is the sort of person to offer help to his rival simply because it’s needed.

The book takes us all the way from Lazlo’s humble beginnings to his deeds in Weep. This allows readers to get to know Lazlo well, but makes for a slow-paced story. I usually don’t mind this approach, but even I felt it was starting to drag.

It’s a story full of whimsy and the mythic that Taylor does so well. She is brilliant at creating a mood and making the impossibly epic seem plausible. The descriptions were lovely with some gorgeous turns of phrase. However, a little goes a long way–another reason the pace dragged in places.

Despite its sense of whimsy, it is quite a dark story. Readers triggered by rape and forced pregnancy may want to tread cautiously. These incidents never happen onscreen, but their impact resonates throughout the book. It’s a story that deals with cycles of violence and the seeming impossibility of breaking them.

Strange the Dreamer felt like it trod a lot of the same ground as Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Some of it was the structure: the slow set-up, the gradual uncovering of the past and the late explosion into action. There were also some thematic elements that cropped up, such as the preoccupation with angels and demons (here flavoured with some Hindu-inspired elements such as the appearance and titles of the gods). The trajectory of Lazlo’s relationship with Sarai also felt very familiar and may be a bit too insta-love for some readers.

I was somewhat disappointed with the relationship between the female characters of this book. It’s a story that barely passes the Bechdel-Wallis test, with the female characters either isolated, preoccupied with the men in their life or at odds with each other.

It may sound as if I didn’t enjoy Strange the Dreamer when it actually swept me away (once it warmed up). I enjoyed the dark whimsy of it and the later stages of the book do a fantastic job of building tension. I’ll definitely be watching for the next book. However, this is definitely not going to be the book for everyone.

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)

GUFF interviews, kangaroo, Earl Grey Editing, Elizabeth Fitzgerald

The Get Up-and-over Fan Fund is designed to promote connections between fandoms in Australasia and Europe. This year GUFF will send one delegate from Australiasia to Worldcon in Helsinki in August. Voting is open to all interested fans, regardless of nationality. It closes 17 April.

Deciding how to rank the candidates can be a pretty daunting prospect, so over the next few weeks Earl Grey Editing will be featuring an interview with each candidate. So far I’ve interviewed Belle McQuattie, Donna Maree Hanson and Sam Hawke. Joining me today is Alexandra Pierce.

First and most vital: What’s your favourite beverage?

My favourite hot beverage is black tea; I go in for flavoured ones like Earl Grey or some of the fruity ones from T2. Cold well, I have a weakness for elderflower cordial and New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Of course.

Yum. Elderflower cordial with tonic water is one of my Christmas traditions.

Oh nice! I have Plans to investigate elderflower as an ingredient.

How did you come to be involved in Australian SFF fandom?

Through Alisa Krasnostein! A friend got me reading the Aussie magazine Andromeda Spaceways; Alisa was interviewed and said she was looking for reviewers for her review site at the time (Australian Spec Fic in Focus), I emailed her and then all of sudden I was going to cons and the rest of it.

You host a feminist SFF podcast called Galactic Suburbia with Alisa Krasnostein and Tansy Rayner Roberts. Your seventh anniversary was earlier this month. What has been the most memorable part of the podcast for you?

Whoa seven years. Thats amazing. At the Australian Worldcon in 2010, we were at the Hugos ceremony and someone behind us said “Hey, listening to you two is like being on my commute!” We love feedback and feeling like part of a community. Also, winning a Hugo Award was pretty memorable. Plus, I get a regular date with two awesome women. Weve talked about some amazing stuff.

Winning a Hugo Award is definitely something that’s going to stick in the memory.

I was watching the live stream. It cut out as they said our name and then our acceptor was on the stage. I cried.

In addition to the GS podcast, you also teach, review books, write a column for Tor.com, and run a couple of blogs, as well as another podcast (on cooking). Have I missed anything? How do you manage to juggle it all? Do you have any tips on how to steal a TARDIS?

Uh yeh ok, when you put it like that it sounds like I do a lot! I also cook and occasionally do house work; I try to get away for astronomy occasionally, too. How do I fit it all in? Well, I dont have kids or pets. That certainly helps. I also work part time as a teacher and have done for a while, which gives more time not only during the week but also at night and on weekends when otherwise I would be planning or marking. I dont always manage to juggle everything – sometimes I drop balls all over the place. I guess I keep doing the things Im doing because theyre all things I WANT to be doing, so doing them is (usually) enjoyable. That definitely helps. As for using a TARDIS I think of Hermione and her time-turner and I think that would be a very bad idea. Id just end up confused.

What’s coming up next for you?

I’m editing a collection of non-fiction in honour of Octavia Butler, which is tremendously exciting; I’ll also be hosting a Facebook book club, on the first Sunday of the month from March to June, on a few of Butler’s books.

I loved Letters to Tiptree, so I’m really looking forward to this new anthology.

Were excited! Its called Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler.

Wow, what a great title!

What are you most looking forward to about Worldcon 75?

Meeting people! At the 2010 Worldcon I was very new to the scene and very shy. I’m still very shy but at least this time I have had contact with people who will be there, so I’ll feel more like I’m *allowed* to talk to them!

Alexandra Pierce, Galactic Suburbia

Alexandra Pierce reads, teaches, blogs, podcasts, cooks, knits, runs, eats, sleeps, and observes the stars. Not necessarily in that order of priority. She is a Christian, a feminist, and an Australian. She can be found at her website, and on the Hugo-winning Galactic Suburbia podcast.

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Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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

Published: February 2017 by Less Than Three Press
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Genres: Contemporary fantasy, LGBTQIA
Source: NetGalley
Reading Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017
Available: Publisher (electronic only) ~Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~Kobo ~ Smashwords

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

Gloria did not intend to start a halfway house for lesbian werewolves. It just sort of happened. Between running a small bed-and-breakfast with her friend Nadine, helping one young lycanthrope adjust to life after the bite and soothing ruffled fur when the other brings home an unexpected cat, Gloria has more than enough to keep her busy, but one thing is definite: she is not nor ever will be an alpha, whatever Nadine says. And the ever-expanding circle of misfits in her guesthouse is certainly not a pack. If only Nadine and the rest of the world were as simple and clear cut as she kept wanting them to be.

Humanity for Beginners is a quietly charming novella that subverts some current tropes common in urban fantasy shifter stories.

For a start, it centres a lesbian woman in her 40s–not your typical werewolf protagonist. Gloria denies the others’ insistence she’s their pack alpha. In fact, she denies there’s a pack at all (though never that they’re a family). Self-control is very important to her and she does her best to act as rationally and as human as she can. This doesn’t always work in her favour.

Gloria’s attitude towards pack dynamics stands in strong contrast to the toxic masculinity of the other packs portrayed in this story. Gloria doesn’t dominate through violence and aggression, as the other packs do. Instead, her approach is more maternal; she can’t help but be genuinely concerned for the well-being of her adopted family. This doesn’t mean she’s a pushover or that she wears her heart on her sleeve. Indeed, she sometimes struggles to stay neutral and let her fellow werewolves to make their own decisions, even though it’s really important to her that they do. She also is capable of enforcing boundaries where necessary.

This resistance to toxic masculinity also manifests in the type of story this is. Set in a rural guesthouse, Humanity for Beginners is a domestic tale that centres on relationships. As the characters sort out romantic, pack and family dynamics, they’re also busy preparing food, cleaning rooms and taking bookings. It’s a gentle story without a whole lot of action, though conflict remains present.

While each of the characters was distinct, the characters external to the pack could have used a little more depth. In particular, I would have liked to learn a little more about Damien, who is part of the family even though he’s not a werewolf. However, I feel the author did a reasonable job within the constraints of a novella.

Overall, Humanity for Beginners was a subversive story that was a pleasure to read.

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)

GUFF interviews, kangaroo, Earl Grey Editing, Elizabeth Fitzgerald

The Get Up-and-over Fan Fund is designed to promote connections between fandoms in Australasia and Europe. This year GUFF will send one delegate from Australiasia to Worldcon in Helsinki in August. Voting is open to all interested fans, regardless of nationality. It closes 17 April.

Deciding how to rank the candidates can be a pretty daunting prospect, so over the next few weeks Earl Grey Editing will be featuring an interview with each candidate. So far I’ve interviewed Belle McQuattie and Donna Maree Hanson. Joining me today is Sam Hawke.

First and most vital: What’s your favourite beverage?

I once had a boss who went to a management course that convinced him he needed to get creative pictorial responses out of his staff, so for a few weeks he kept making us express our ideas in pictures. (When asked to draw a picture representing how we felt about a particular task, one of my colleagues drew a picture of herself crying, which made him cross and the rest of us giggle). In honour of a dumb and painful craze by the most annoying person I’ve ever worked for, I am going to answer this in visual form.

Sam Hawke, drinking preferences

Oh, and hot chocolate any time of day. Consequently, I am pretty easy to entertain.

I am definitely keeping this diagram to reference for next time we catch up. Also, don’t tell anyone but I’m not all that fan of pink fruit teas either.

Now, before I get too distracted: how did you come to be involved in Australian SFF fandom?

My love of SFF is present in my earliest memories: watching Star Blazers on our wee black and white TV with my siblings, going to the movies for the first time to see the Neverending Story, sneaking David Eddings books my sister said I was too young to read off her shelf. But outside my immediate family, in my pre-internet youth, my exposure to fandom was limited to occasionally getting a thrill when someone recognised my Red Dwarf t-shirt in the street and exchanging a knowing nod. None of my friends were ever into SFF so it remained a thing I shared with my siblings and my closet but not much further. I think my teenage years might have looked very different if I’d been born 10 years later.

I discovered the joy of Other Fans! On the Internet! eventually, and always having wanted to be a writer, it was natural that I mostly fell into bookish spaces. However, being very shy meant I was typically an obsessive reader but limited contributor to a lot of these places. I guess I can thank the group at Robin Hobb’s SFF.net newsgroup for finally drawing me properly into fandom. A few of us Aussies in the group met up at Supanova back in 2014 and hung out with each other and Robin in person (I don’t think I was even really aware conventions existed outside a faint knowledge of San Diego’s Comicon before that). That coincided with me finally finishing a publishable novel, joining the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, and getting up confidence to participate in spaces I’d previously just watched. This year I’m planning on attending at least 3 conventions – Continuum, Conflux and Worldcon – and I’m very excited to be involved. I really like the way shared love of fictional worlds can bring people together no matter how different they seem.

What Australian SFF work have you recently loved?

I’ve been pretty embroiled in writing/editing stuff the past few years and haven’t read as much as I’d like to – I’m particularly out of touch with recent short fiction, Australian and international. But I’m always a fan of and find room for the big Aussie fantasy writers like Trudi Canavan, Glenda Larke and Garth Nix – Jennifer Fallon is a particular favourite so I was thrilled to get my paws on the Lyre Thief, and am looking forward to the next one shortly. I’ve also loved Kate Forsyth’s fairytale retelling/historical fiction hybrids – do they count as SFF? I’ve also been catching up with Gillian Polack’s smart, literary-bent novels (The Wizardry of Jewish Women, Time of the Ghosts), and I just finished Thoraiya Dyer’s debut Crossroads of Canopy, which I really enjoyed – absolutely gorgeous, immersive worldbuilding. For something a bit darker, I thought Watershed by Jane Abbott, set in a nearish future Australia, was a really grim, clever piece of dystopia.

I recently read Jane Abbott’s Elegy and loved it. Looks like I’m going to have to pick up some more of her work!

And speaking of my Mt TBR wish list, City of Lies is the first book in your duology, The Poison Wars, and is set to be published by Tor in 2018. Congratulations! It must be a dream come true. Did you do anything special to celebrate, or did you immediately start work on the next thing?

Thank you! It is, literally, the dream. I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone for AGES so I did a lot of squealing within the confines of my house, and I took my family out to dinner, but nothing more dramatic than that. I have been trying to think of something dumb and fun to buy as a celebratory treat (when I finished the book I bought myself the Kitchenaid mixer I’ve always wanted – I am a mad baker) but haven’t come up with anything delightful-yet-unjustifiable enough yet.

In some ways it still doesn’t feel real! I didn’t head straight into the sequel because I want to be informed by the direction the first one takes post-edits, so I’ve been dabbling in another, unrelated, fantasy that I hope will be the next project after this.

What’s coming up next for you?

Everything sort of depends how City of Lies goes – I’m contracted for 2 books but whether it stays at 2 or not depends whether it does well and people want more, I guess! So, yanno, hopefully people will buy it and like it…

Fingers crossed!

Lastly, what are you most looking forward to about Worldcon 75?

I have never been to a Worldcon so honestly I don’t entirely know what to expect other than a chance to hang with cool people and talk and think about the things I love (and hopefully find some new things to love!). I made a joke about Tim-Tam eating contests in my voting pitch on my blog but I am legit hoping someone challenges me to this because no-one EVER believes me how hard it is, and I will laugh salty tears of joy when they’re trying to finish biscuit number 2 and have just realised how things are turning very very wrong. I’m also hoping to meet and geek out over some great authors, attend interesting panels, butcher some Finnish, eat weird stuff, and get into some fun ridiculous arguments.

Sam Hawke

Sam Hawke has wanted to write books since realising as a child that they didn’t just breed between themselves in libraries. Having contemplated careers as varied as engineer, tax accountant and zookeeper Hawke eventually settled on the law. After marrying her jujitsu training partner and travelling to as many countries as possible, Hawke now resides in Canberra raising two small ninjas and two idiot dogs. Her debut novel, City of Lies, the first book in the Poison War series, is due out from Tor in July 2018. You can find Sam Hawke online at samhawkewrites.com, on Twitter as @samhawkewrites and on Facebook as www.facebook.com/samhawkewrites.

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Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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

Penric and the Shaman, Lois McMaster Bujold, Subterranean Press, fantasy, World of the Five Gods, tea and books, books and tea, Earl Grey Editing

Published: February 2017 by Subterranean Press
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Series: Penric and Desdemona #2
Genres: Fantasy
Source: NetGalley
Available: Publisher (print only) ~ Abbey’s ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia

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

Young Lord Penric now wears the white robes of the Bastards Order, complete with shoulder braids marking him as a divine and sorcerer, while he pursues scholarly studies in the court of the Princess-Archdivine. His demon of disorder, Desdemona, is, of course, present, accounted for, and offering clever commentary, particularly when she grows bored. And so when a Locator of the Fathers Order shows up on the Archdivines threshold in need of a sorcerer for a journey and she volunteers Penric, at least Des is thrilled with the prospect of an adventure. As they travel into the mountains to locate Inglis, a shaman accused of murdering his best friend, the situation grows into a test for all of Penrics developing talents.

Penric’s Demon was one of my favourite reads last year and so I was delighted to get my hands on a review copy of Penric and the Shaman. As expected, it proved to be a fantastic continuation of the series by one of SFF’s masters.

Time has passed since the last book. In the intervening four years, Penric has earned his braids as a full-ranking priest and has settled into a scholarly life. The narrative begins with a little taste of Penric’s current life. It’s quiet but Penric, being a huge nerd, loves it. Desdemona, having been through it all before (more than once), is bored by it. I really enjoyed this look into how their relationship has developed. It is part odd-couple and part parent-and-child, though this latter dynamic shifts over the course of the novella. One of my few quibbles with this book is that while we do get a few more glimpses of their relationship, we don’t get to see all that more of Desdemona.

What we get instead is an illustration of what their relationship looks like to outsiders. The story is told in close third-person from three points of view: Penric; Locator Oswyl, who has come to hunt down a shaman; and Inglis, the shaman himself. This enables us to witness what it’s like to be in Penric’s presence, to see the slips in phrasing and intonation when Desdemona takes over. It also shows us how frequently Penric is underestimated, his relative youth and cheery disposition often causing others to think him a fool, even dismiss him.

One of the things I loved most about Penric’s Demon was Penric’s kindness and I was pleased to see this remained present. The character is definitely less naive and there were glimpses of the burden he’s under. However, he never treats Desdemona as a burden and is unfailingly respectful to those around him. And even though he is less naive than he was, he still has lessons to learn–lessons that come as a surprise to him.

The gods continue to interfere in this world (and in Penric’s life) in ways both direct and indirect, which I very much enjoyed. I also liked the expansion of the world’s magic system and felt it interacted with the dominant religious system in interesting and plausible ways.

I found the opening oddly bumpy and the style jarred, but quickly settled down with Penric’s appearance. There was also a bit of info-dumping during Oswyl’s briefing of Penric and the Princess-Archdivine. It made sense in context, but I was on the verge of being lost before it was done.

However, on the whole Penric and the Shaman was an absolute delight to read. I’m very much looking forward to the next in the series.

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)

Neo, Ginger Jiva, loose-leaf tea, Earl Grey Editing

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 Neo Australia’s Ginger Tea, a tasty blend of ginger, cardamom pods, tulsi and apple. This is an old favourite of mine and especially welcome on cool evenings when I’m looking to avoid caffeine before bed.

Follow Up ) Awards News ) Community and Conventions ) On Equity ) For Writers )
calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

The Impossible Story of Olive in Love, Tonya Alexandra, Earl Grey Editing, books and tea, tea and books

Published: March 2017 by Harlequin Teen
Format reviewed: Paperback ARC, 284 pages
Genres: Contemporary YA, speculative fiction
Source: Publisher
Reading Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017
Available: Amazon ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~ Dymocks ~ Kobo

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

Plagued by a gypsy curse that shell be invisible to all but her true love, seventeen-year-old Olive is understandably bitter. Her mother is dead; her father has taken off. Her sister, Rose, is insufferably perfect. Her one friend, Felix, is blind and thinks shes making it all up for attention.

Olive spends her days writing articles for her gossip column and stalking her childhood friend, Jordan, whom she had to abandon when she was ten because Jordans parents would no longer tolerate an imaginary friend. Nobody has seen her until she meets Tom: the poster boy for normal and the absolute opposite of Olive.

But how do you date a boy who doesnt know youre invisible? Worse still, what happens when Mr Right feels wrong? Has destiny screwed up? In typical Olive fashion, the course is set for destruction. And because were talking Olive here, the ride is funny, passionate and way, way, way, way dramatic.

This story is for anyone whos ever felt invisible.

This story is for anyone who sees the possible in the impossible.

I had some very mixed feelings about The Impossible Story of Olive in Love. The premise was intriguing and the implications were well thought out. However, there were a few elements that really didn’t work for me.

Olive is not in any way a likeable character. She’s caustic, selfish and easily bored. She’s a drama queen who likes to cause trouble and leaves her loved ones to deal with the fallout. This makes sense in the context of the story. Being invisible (but not silent or intangible), she’s more used to hiding from other people than she is to interacting with them. This means she’s socially awkward and lacks both manners and diplomacy. However, given how much time she spends watching other people, her lack of empathy doesn’t completely make sense and I struggled to figure out what Tom saw in her.

I would probably have had more tolerance for Olive as an unsympathetic narrator if the story hadn’t had a few other unsavoury elements. The gypsy curse is a bit on the nose, and the gypsies responsible are the stereotypical feckless, vengeful vagrants. There’s also the occasional line that is transphobic, homophobic or ableist, which did not at all endear the book to me.

Which is a shame, because there were some potentially very interesting elements. Isolation was a strong theme and it was nice to see how this applied just as much to Tom and to Olive’s sister Rose as it did to Olive herself. Even though Olive is functionally able-bodied (more or less), they are essentially care-givers to Olive and this comes with a price.

The practicalities of being invisible have also been carefully thought out. Transport is a problem, as Olive can’t catch a bus or a taxi and driving herself around would look alarming. She’s never learned to kiss and since she can’t see herself in a mirror her makeup skills and sense of fashion are lacking. She can’t live on her own or even let herself in the front door for fear of alerting the neighbours.

I also appreciated the way the book avoided the obvious ending. There were a few elements that could have used a little more foreshadowing, but the outcome was more mature than I’d expected. It steered the book away from being a romance and more towards a coming-of age story.

However, ultimately The Impossible Story of Olive in Love wasn’t the book for me.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: (Calissa)

 

Having recently been a judge for the YA categories of the Aurealis Awards, I’ve grown quite familiar with the genre. So I was delighted to hear the WSFS is exploring the possibility of establishing a YA award tied to the Hugos. Today I have [personal profile] forestofglory here to tell us a bit about the award.

I’m here to talk a bit about the prospective World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) Young Adult award and ask you to take a short survey to help decide on the name of the award. WSFS is the organization that sets the rules for Worldcons and the Hugo and Campbell Awards. It is run by volunteers and is a direct democracy. I am part of committee formed to study the possibility of a YA award. Last year we recommended that a YA award similar to the Hugo Awards be created (kind of like the Campbell award). This year the committee was tasked with finding a name for said award.

Elizabeth asked me to talk a bit about the community aspect of this award so I thought I would share a bit about my background and my goals for the award. I bought my first Worldcon supporting membership a few years ago so that I could nominate for and vote on the Hugo Awards. I joined because members of my online community had been voting in the Hugos and made it seem like fun. After joining my first Worldcon, I became a member of a new-to-me community of Hugo voters. Mostly I participated online, talking with friends about what I had read and watched and what we wanted to nominate. I’ve had good experiences with the WSFS community, though the last two years were politically fraught. The Worldcon community is not always welcoming, it costs money to join, the rules are complex and arcane, and debates about even minor details can get heated. Nonetheless, I love how they insist that you are buying a membership, not a ticket. I love the long history of the community, dating back to the 1st Worldcon in 1939. As a member of this community, I want to reach out to the YA community to share things and ideas we both enjoy. For me that’s what awards are best at creating ways to honor and share things we love.

The push to create an award was started by Worldcon members who were also part of YA communities and wanted to see these communities brought together. Three years ago, a 20-person committee was formed by WSFS to study the feasibility of a YA award (I joined year ago after the committee was formed). Members are long-time Worldcon attendees, YA librarians, academics, lifelong YA readers, and young adults. We’re all volunteers.

Since I last wrote about the YA award process, the YA committee has been analyzing feedback from the first open-ended survey and creating a shortlist of possible names, which are featured on our current survey. The process of narrowing down the names was tricky and at times contentious. We needed eliminate names that were already in use for another award, or that had unfortunate double connotations. We also debated which names had cross-generational appeal and whether to consider names of real people. In the end we decided not to include names and picked a shortlist of six possible names.

You can read more about what we like about each name on the survey itself. You can also find more information of Facebook and twitter @worldconYA. The survey will be open until March 15. We would love to have your input.

Earl Grey Editing, English oak, autumn leaves

In addition to being a YA fan, Forestofglory frequently recommends short stories and discusses her thoughts on Hugo nominees at her blog.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: (Default)
I'm going to have to start giving them their own tag

You Can Fly )

Dynasty )

The Jamberry wraps are proving a challenge, both with application and with photographing. I'm doing reasonably well with application, though I certainly have room to improve and try new things. Photography has been a bigger challenge as I struggle with angles. It's hard to photograph one hand with the other--so many photos are out of focus or not framed properly. I'm sure there must be some trick to it I haven't yet figured out.
calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

Frogkisser!, Garth Nix, middle grade, fairytale, fantasy, books and tea, tea and books, Earl Grey Editing

Published: March 2017 by Allen & Unwin
Format reviewed: Paperback, 336 pages
Genres: Fantasy, middle grade
Source: Publisher
Available: Publisher (print and electronic) ~ 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.

Talking dogs. Mischievous wizards. An evil stepstepfather. Loads and loads of toads. Such is the life of a Frogkisser.

Princess Anya needs to see a wizard about a frog. It’s not her frog, it’s her sister’s. And it’s not a frog, it’s actually a prince. A prince who was once in love with Anya’s sister, but has now been turned into a frog by their evil stepstepfather. And Anya has made a ‘sister promise’ that she will find a way to return Prince Denholm to human form…

So begins an exciting, hilarious, irreverent quest through the Kingdom of Trallonia and out the other side, in a fantastical tale for all ages, full of laughs and danger, surprises and delights, and an immense population of frogs.

Garth Nix is highly regarded for his Middle Grade and YA fantasy, and Frogkisser! is unlikely to change that. It is a charming story with some fresh takes on a few traditional fairytale elements.

Anya is the youngest of two princesses. Her sister, Morven, is flighty and obsessed with boys. All Anya wants to do is hang out in the library and read books (and really, who can blame her?), but someone has to be the responsible one. Anya and Morven’s stepmother is off chasing rare plants, while their stepstepfather is an evil, cold-hearted sorcerer bent on taking over the kingdom. In order to achieve his ends, he plans to send Anya away to boarding school. However, Anya escapes first with the aid of the royal dogs.

Along the way, Anya encounters a number of fairytale tropes, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the Good Wizard and a flying carpet. One of the things I loved about the story was that these elements never manifest in quite the way you expect them to–there’s always a twist . As someone with a stepmother I adore, it was refreshing to see the part of the villain instead played by Anya’s stepstepfather (the man her stepmother married after her father passed away).

Nix is clearly a dog person. Readers familiar with his Old Kingdom series may remember the Disreputable Dog. Frogkisser! has the royal dogs, a pack of canine advisers to the royal family. They’re presided over by matriarch Tanitha, and one of the younger dogs, Ardent, serves as a companion to Anya on her adventures. Being a dog person myself, I loved these characters and there were a few observations of canine behaviour that had me chuckling in recognition.

Tanitha isn’t the only female in a position of power in this book: women are everywhere. They are warriors, healers and bandits. It was such a delight to read a story where the gender balance was equal and where not all the women were white.

While it is a Middle Grade novel, adult readers will find plenty to enjoy. Geekish references are sprinkled throughout the story; there was one Lord of the Rings reference almost at the end that had me laughing out loud.

All in all, Frogkisser! is an absolute delight to read, no matter what your age.

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, Mt TBR, Goldenhand, Garth Nix, Threader, Rebekah Turner, Hexenhaus, The Bone Queen, Alison Croggan, The Impossible Story of Olive in Love, Tonya Alexandra, Elegy, Jane Abbott, Frogkisser!, The Ocean of the Dead, Andrew McGahan, books and tea, tea and books

The first half of February continued January’s frantic pace as I concentrated on finishing all the remaining Aurealis nominations. The second half slowed down to a somewhat more manageable pace.

Since I’m over halfway towards my goal of reading 100 books for 2017, I’ve decided to revise the goal up to 150.

My other personal reading goals also included one trip to the library a month. February included two trips: one to pick up The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin and When A Scott Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare (both so I could read along with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperback podcast), the other to pick up Binti: Home by Nnedi Okrafor.

Mt TBR Status

Mt TBR @ 1 January 2016: 327
Mt TBR @ 31 January 2017: 307
Mt TBR @ 28 February 2017: 309

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)

Read My Valentine, Earl Grey Editing, romance reading challenge

During February I ran Read My Valentine. Ordinarily, it’s my excuse to read and review as many romance novels as I can manage, but I was still reading for the Aurealis Awards until almost midway through the month. So, this year I took a slightly different approach and concentrated on reviewing work that represented a spectrum of sexualities and gender identities:

Hold Me by Courtney Milan. Trans F/Bi M. Contemporary romance.
Wanted, A Gentleman by K.J. Charles. M/M. Historical romance.
Among Galactic Ruins by Anna Hackett. F/M. Sci-fi action romance.
With Roses in Their Hair by Kayla Bashe. F/F. Sci-fi YA romance.
Viral Airwaves by Claudie Arsenault. Asexual M/F, plus M/M & F/M side relationships. Post-apocalyptic SFF.

I’m pretty happy with the representation here. I hope to continue this balance in future years and perhaps even expand it a little. I know I have a lot to learn about the aromantic spectrum, for example, and have been pondering how I might include representation in my reviews for Read My Valentine… or whether I make a point of reviewing some immediately after the challenge.

Outside of these reviews and the Aurealis submissions, I read very little romance: just two books. I have a forthcoming review of The Impossible Story of Olive in Love by Tonya Alexandra, which is, in any case, more of a coming-of-age YA than a romance.

The other was Beyond Pain by Kit Rocha. This is the third in a series of sci-fi dystopian erotica that I’ve found impressively feminist and sex-positive. So far, it has included favourable representations of bisexuality, polyamory, exhibitionism and BDSM. The explicit content means it’s not going to be for everyone, but if you don’t mind that sort of thing, I highly recommend it. I’m glad there’s still another five books in the series and a new, related series beginning soon.

Considering the lack of participation Read My Valentine has had, I’m not convinced the current format is working. However, since I’ve been enjoying it, I’m considering turning it into a yearly blog feature instead of abandoning it entirely. I’m also happy to take suggestions.

How about you? Have you read any romance this month? What romance would you recommend?

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Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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

Viral Airwaves, Claudie Arsenault, Earl Grey Editing, books and tea, tea and books

Published: Self-published in November 2016
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi), 2nd ed.
Genres: Speculative fiction, LGBTQIA
Source: Amazon
Reading Challenges: Read My Valentine
Available: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble~ Kobo

Henry Schmitt wants nothing more than a quiet life and a daily ration of instant noodles. At least until he learns the terrible secret that drove his father away the Plague that killed his mother and ravaged his country was created by those now in power. His only chance to expose the truth is through a ragtag band of outlaws who knew his father and an airborne radio broadcast, but he’d have to dig into his family’s past and risk the wrath of a corrupt government.

Viral Airwaves is a standalone novel sitting firmly between dystopia and solarpunk and centering LGBTQIAP+ characters. If you love hopeful stories about overcoming desperate odds, nemesis working together, and larger-than-life characters, don’t miss out!

Viral Airwaves is not a romance. Nevertheless, I wanted to include some representation of asexual characters in my reviews for the Read My Valentine challenge. Viral Airwaves turned out to be an excellent choice because while it’s not a romance (at least not in the strict genre sense), relationships are at the heart of the book.

The story is told in close third person from the perspective of three characters. Each character is flawed, but likeable… though not always at first.

Henry Schmitt is our entry into the story. He’s one of the last occupants of a town dying after its tourism trade dried up. He just wants a quiet life and he’s ill-equipped to deal with the disruption when he gets swept up with a gang of rebels who knew his father. These characters view him as cowardly, and perhaps he is. Henry’s desire for normalcy and his tendency to eat when stressed made him very relatable, even as I was cheering for him to grow beyond these.

He’s one of two asexual characters mentioned in the book and the only one that gets time onscreen. However, much like his stress eating, this part of his character isn’t framed as a defining characteristic, but is rather simply part of the background. Diversity of race and sexuality is likewise a casual part of the story throughout.

The second POV character is Andeal, an electrical engineer who is one of the founding members of the rebellion. He’s an important friend to Seraphin, the leader. He was also imprisoned with Henry’s father, and the pair were experimented on by a government scientist. The result for Andeal was blue skin and an overriding fear of being imprisoned again. This fear provides an interesting counterpoint to his incessantly (and sometimes foolishly) optimistic personality.

The last POV character is Captain Hans Vermen. He deserts the army in his quest for vengeance against Seraphin for killing his brother. Hans is xenophobic and has some strongly internalised homophobia. At first glance, he’s a repulsive character but he became one of my favourites as I discovered his motivations and watched him struggle with his prejudices. In fact, it was a joy to watch all of the characters battle with their flaws and make new connections with other people.

It is never specified whether the story is set in our world or some close parallel. What is clear is that the world has been through some kind of apocalypse. Bacteria has destroyed the world’s oil supply and the population has been decimated by a plague. Oil-driven technology has been replaced: solar panels abound and government vehicles are all electric. Mass media has been reduced to radio, which is controlled by the authoritarian government who came into power in the wake of the plague. The setting feels at once modern and old-fashioned. While this mostly worked there were a couple of places where it jarred.

The pace is quite slow, particularly in the beginning. However, this was important for establishing the relationships that are at the heart of the book and there were occasional bouts of action that helped keep things moving forward.

The story bills itself as a hopeful one, but readers should be warned it gets dark in places. There is torture and character death, so tread with caution.

Overall, Viral Airwaves was a thoughtful, character-driven storythat drew me in and kept me turning the pages.

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, loose leaf tea, the Tea Centre, Ritz Carlton,

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 Ritz Carlton from the Tea Centre. It’s a black tea flavoured with caramel, vanilla and apricot, sweet without being overpowering.

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

 

And to finish on the perfect note, Ann Leckie offers some tips on brewing tea. Because of course.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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

With Roses in Their Hair, Kayla Bashe, Tam Lin retelling, Earl Grey Editing, tea and books, books and tea, science fantasy

Published: Self-published in November 2016
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Genres: Romance, science-fiction, fantasy, fairytale retelling
Source: Amazon
Reading Challenges: Read My Valentine
Available:Amazon

A F/F sci-fantasy retelling of the child ballad Tam Lin. Released as a tribute to the life and works of academic “tam-nonlinear” and to raise awareness of the adoptable cats they posted about having to leave behind. Content notes for parental abuse, vaguely alien body horror. A story about survival and finding beauty in love and resistance.

I’m a sucker for Tam Lin retellings and this f/f romance seemed like the perfect addition to my reviews for Read My Valentine.

This is a very short retelling, barely even making it to the category of novelette. As usual, I found it a bit too short to be truly satisfying. I felt the length did the setting a disservice because there was a lot that was intriguing. I particularly enjoyed the blending of fantasy and science-fiction. The fae of the original ballad become aliens who appear as beautiful humans, and who rule this dystopia. Of course, there are a core of humans devoted to resisting this cruel regime, but who seem almost like fae themselves with their use of implanted wings. I’d have liked to see a bit more of how the fae came to rule and how the humans came to use this technology. The story also could have used a little more set up of some elements, particularly of the sacrifice toward the end.

However, the advantage of the short length was that it kept the focus fairly tightly on the relationship between Jennet and Tambourlain. Jennet is one of the human resistance who has demonstrated herself skillful enough to earn implanted wings. But despite being a fierce fighter, she cares deeply for the people around her, even those she hardly knows. Tam, in contrast, is a formidable changeling warrior concerned only with earning her parents’ approval. Emotions are not approved of in fae culture. Yet, she can’t deny she has a strong connection with this human resistance fighter.

The writing style lacked a bit of clarity in places; in particular, it was hard to keep track of which “she” was being referred to sometimes, making things rather confusing. However, there were some nice ideas and turns of phrase. I particularly liked the sentinels made of clockwork and brought to life by the deaths of violinists.

All in all, I found With Roses in Their Hair an intriguing, but flawed story.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: (Calissa)

Aurealis Awards, Clariel, Garth Nix, tea and books

The shortlists for the Aurealis Awards were announced yesterday. Congratulations to all of the nominees! It was a delight to witness the celebrations on social media, particularly among the first-timers.

I found the experience surprisingly hard as a judge. I just want to shake everyone and rave about these wonderful stories, but will need to keep a lid on it until the winners are announced. It’s the most difficult sort of secret for me to keep.

However, there was still a surprise in store for me: I’ve been nominated for the Convenors’ Award for Excellence for my work here at Earl Grey Editing. The award serves as a kind of catch-all for everything that doesn’t fit into Aurealis’ categories, including fan writing, criticism and podcasts.As the title suggests, it will be judged by the convenors of the other panels.

It is a great honour to be recognised by the community, so thank you to whoever nominated me (I have my suspicions).

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Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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

Among Galactic Ruins, Anna Hackett, Earl Grey Editing, books and tea, tea and books, sci-fi romance

Published: Self-published in August 2015
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Series: The Phoenix Adventures #0.5
Genres: Romance, sci-fi, adventure
Source: Amazon
Reading Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017, Read My Valentine
Available:Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~Kobo ~ Smashwords

When astro-archeologist and museum curator Dr. Lexa Carter discovers a secret map to a lost old Earth treasure–a priceless Faberg egg–she’s excited at the prospect of a treasure hunt to the dangerous desert planet of Zerzura. What she’s not so happy about is being saddled with a bodyguard–the museum’s mysterious new head of security, Damon Malik.

After many dangerous years as a galactic spy, Damon Malik just wanted a quiet job where no one tried to kill him. Instead of easy work in a museum full of artifacts, he finds himself on a backwater planet babysitting the most infuriating woman he’s ever met.

She thinks he’s arrogant. He thinks she’s a trouble-magnet. But among the desert sands and ruins, adventure led by a young, brash treasure hunter named Dathan Phoenix, takes a deadly turn. As it becomes clear that someone doesn’t want them to find the treasure, Lexa and Damon will have to trust each other just to survive.

Among Galactic Ruins is a novella that blends romance, science fiction and action. Think Star Wars meets Indiana Jones: the main characters search for a lost temple on a desert planet in the hopes of finding treasure. It is fast-paced fluffy fun.

Dr. Lexa Carter defied her wealthy family to become an astro-archeologist. They conspired to keep her out of trouble by pushing her into curatorship. That suited Lexa… until she discovered a map that could lead her to lost treasure. One of the things I loved most about Lexa is even though she’s lived a sheltered life, she’s still quite capable of holding her own. She can defend herself physically, if necessary, and has a tendency to run towards trouble–particularly when that trouble is threatening Damon. Her privileged upbringing hasn’t left her without a spine.

Damon Malik is a former spy-cum-assassin who retired for the quiet life. He’s now the head of security at Lexa’s museum and drives her up the wall with his stringent precautions. He’s less than pleased about being dragged out to the middle of nowhere on a wild goose chase. However, Lexa’s passion for her field of interest captivates him to the point where he starts hoping she’ll look at him the same way she looks at those ruined temples. And no matter what’s being thrown at them–sinkholes, desert wolves–Damon never treats Lexa as if she’s incapable.

There were a few elements that didn’t work for me. The style was a little clunky in places, tending towards telling rather than showing. This was particularly the case with world-building. The dirty talk also didn’t work for me, coming across as cliched and a bit awkward.

I also found the ending a little less than satisfying, feeling that the resolution came too easily.

However, I enjoyed the fast pace and the adventure of it. There were some excellent action sequences and the sexual tension between Lexa and Damon really drew me in and had me holding my breath. And as a Jacqueline Carey fan, I got a giggle out of the Kushiel’s Dart reference.

Overall, I found Among Galactic Ruins to be a great deal of fun. It was a lovely way to ease out of Aurealis judging and interesting enough that I’ll be following up the rest of the series.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: (Default)
Most of you have probably seen these via my other social media. But for those who haven't, my recent interest in Jamberry manicures continues.

Autumn Romance )

Afternoon Tea paired with Lagoon )

Hearts A Glow paired with Sorbet )
calissa: (Calissa)

GUFF interviews, kangaroo, Earl Grey Editing, Elizabeth Fitzgerald

The Get Up-and-over Fan Fund is designed to promote connections between fandoms in Australasia and Europe. This year GUFF will send one delegate from Australiasia to Worldcon in Helsinki in August. Voting is open to all interested fans, regardless of nationality. It closes 1 April.

Deciding how to rank the candidates can be a pretty daunting prospect, so over the next few weeks Earl Grey Editing will be featuring an interview with each candidate. The first interview was with Belle McQuattie. Joining me today is Donna Maree Hanson.

First and most vital: What’s your favourite beverage?

Besides tea? Because you know my brain floats in brown liquid constantly. On the alcoholic side it is either cider, bubbly, Sauvignon Blanc, Gin and Tonic or a Lychee Martini.

Our mutual addiction to tea has led to many lovely afternoons. But I must admit a Lychee Martini sounds very tasty!

You’ve been involved in Australian SFF fandom for over a decade. How did you get started?

Long story! Way back in my early days of starting to write, I joined the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild and it was Maxine McArthur, science fiction author, who encouraged me to attend a convention and even to help out on one. So back in 2001 I helped out on a local convention in Canberra. It was great. I met people and authors and stuff. Then I went to Convergence in Melbourne. Had my mind absolutely blown. It was great. Then what do you know I end up running the 2003 Natcon in Canberra (Conflux). I ran another convention after that and introduced a lot of people to fandom. I went to worldcons in Glasgow, Denver, Montreal, and London. I helped out with the Aussiecon bid and helped out for a little while in communications for Aussiecon 4 until my mum got sick and it got too hard. I ran another natcon with Nicole Murphy (Conflux 9) in 2013. It has been a great experience. I’ve learned so much, learned about new writers, met people from all over the world, met authors and been to some fabulous parties.

You’re currently working on a PhD focused on feminism in romance. How have you found this has impacted on your SFF writing?

The PhD studies so far have benefited my writing. Part of the study involves reading widely–French philosophers, feminist theory, queer theory–and I find that all mind-expanding. I’m not free to write as much as I’d like but I find with a bit of discipline (say an hour a day, at least) I can do both the PhD and write. I take a writing day once a week too. I don’t think you can study romance without touching on feminism and gender, and that is interesting to say the least. As I’m undertaking a creative writing PhD, l will be writing a novel. That novel is going to be an SF novel, post-human, focussing on gender equality and romance too. To write that novel I have to read SF dealing with that topic as well as straight romance, which is part of my research. Lots of reading. I read Left Hand of Darkness aloud to myself so I could experience it at a deeper level. So it’s a journey that I can bend to include both sides of my interests in genre.

What Australian SFF have you recently loved?

This is a hard question. I have a big to read list, featuring Australian authors. I think the standout for me though was The Grief Hole by Kaaron Warren. This book is something else, a perfect blend of dark with hints of light and with Warren’s exclusive ingenuity and creativity that takes the everyday and makes it more. The Grief Hole explores grief and guilt and the darker side to humanity. I loved it. Not scary. Just dusting the cobwebs of the human dark side.

What’s coming up next for you?

Pretty much writing and the PhD studies for the foreseeable future. I have been working on a few books that are coming out this year.

What are you most looking forward to about Worldcon 75?

I really like the idea that the Worldcon is in Helsinki, Finland. It’s such a different place from here, from the US, from anywhere else. I hosted Jukka Halme, the Worldcon chair, when he visited Canberra, a lucky quirk of fate. He was funny, and interesting and a really good bloke. I’d love to see what he and his team have put together. I think worldcons celebrate community and being outside the USA, a worldcon gives smaller communities some airtime. I’d really like to experience the European SF community because I haven’t had the chance to do that before. If I had the time and the money I’d go to all the worldcons.

Donna Maree Hanson is a Canberra-based writer of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and under the pseudonym (Dani Kristoff) paranormal romance. Her dark fantasy series (which some reviewers have called grim dark), Dragon Wine, is published by Momentum Books (Pan Macmillan digital imprint). Book 1: Shatterwing and Book 2: Skywatcher are out now in digital and print on demand.

In April 2015, she was awarded the A. Bertram Chandler Award for Outstanding Achievement in Australian Science Fiction for her work in running science fiction conventions, publishing and broader SF community contribution.

Donna also writes young adult science fiction, with Rayessa and the Space Pirates and Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures out with Escape Publishing. (the Love and Space Pirates series). Opi Battles the Space Pirates is the third book in this series.

In 2016, Donna commenced her PhD candidature researching Feminism in Popular Romance. Her first Indie published book, Argenterra, was publishing in late April 2016. Argenterra is the first in an epic fantasy series (the Silverlands) suitable for adult and young adult readers. Oathbound and The Ungiven Land book two and three of the Silverlands are due out in 2017.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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

Wanted, A Gentleman, KJ Charles, historical romance, Earl Grey Editing, tea and books, books and tea.

Published: January 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Genres: Historical romance, LGBTQIA
Source: NetGalley
Reading Challenges: Read My Valentine
Available: Publisher (print and electronic) ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~ Kobo

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

By the good offices of Riptide Publishing
KJ Charles’s new Entertainment

WANTED, A GENTLEMAN
Or, Virtue Over-Rated

the grand romance of

Mr. Martin St. Vincent . . . a Merchant with a Mission, also a Problem
Mr. Theodore Swann . . . a humble Scribbler and Advertiser for Love

Act the First:

the offices of the Matrimonial Advertiser, London
where Lonely Hearts may seek one another for the cost of a shilling

Act the Second:

a Pursuit to Gretna Green (or thereabouts)

featuring

a speedy Carriage
sundry rustic Inns
a private Bed-chamber

***

In the course of which are presented

Romance, Revenge, and Redemption
Deceptions, Discoveries, and Desires

the particulars of which are too numerous to impart

KJ Charles excels at gay historical romance. Wanted, A Gentleman is a standalone novella that is short and entertaining. However, as is often the case when I read novellas, I found it a little too short to be truly satisfying.

Both main characters are flawed but likeable. Theo comes across as opportunistic and disreputable, though it’s clear he has a good heart underneath. He’s also observant and intelligent, able to see the world in ways Martin can’t. These qualities are especially valuable for his trade as a writer of romance novels. This aspect of his character was something I enjoyed and never felt it crossed the line into self-indulgence.

Similarly, I appreciated Martin’s unabashed enjoyment in reading romance novels. He’s not afraid of having this hobby discovered and is happy to share his criticisms of what he’s read. It added a little extra dimension to a character who is keenly aware of honour and obligation, and generally quite straight-laced.

Historical romance is often a whitewashed genre, so it was a delight to see a PoC take centre stage. Martin was a slave who was taken from his home at a young age and given as a gift to his British masters, who eventually freed him. In the mind of the Conroy family, Martin is a close friend, yet they treat him in ways they would never treat a friend and give no thought to Martin’s experiences. It was nice to see the intersection of racism and good intentions be explored.

While I felt the attraction between Martin and Theo was well handled, the resolution of this attraction was a little sudden for me. Nevertheless, it fits in with Theo’s character (who isn’t one to beat around the bush) and ties in with the characters getting swept up in something bigger than themselves.

Likewise, there was a twist around two-thirds of the way through that came as a bit of a shock. While it was an excellent way of exploring some backstory, a little more foreshadowing would have been useful.

Wanted, A Gentleman is never going to be my favourite of KJ Charles’ work. However, it manages a lot of action and depth for such a short work and is still well worth reading.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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