Ramblings of an Avid Reader

I'm a QUILTBAG reader, writer, and book hoarder.i've got a passion for the unknown, and studied Religion, Nursing, Philosophy, and Psychology in University. I run a small company making decadent bath & body products. 2 Wyrd Sisters is the place to start spoiling yourself and others. I'm a reviewer at Net Galley, and a writer at Pop Culture Beast.

Professional Reader

Reviews Published


Conjuror - John Barrowman, Carole E. Barrowman

Conjuror is the latest collaboration from John and Carole E. Barrowman. This is the fourth book they have written together, and the first in the new Orion Chronicles series. It continues the story of Em and Matt Calder, but leads readers on a much deeper and darker path.


Conjuror opens with Remy watching his mother and aunt tortured by Don Grigori. And Remy's mothers last words echo in his head. Find the journal. And so Remy begins searching for the mysterious journal that his mother kept all his life. And begins to learn about himself and his abilities.


Em and Matt Calder have the ability to have their illustrations come to life. And the ability to walk into paintings to travel. They join a mysterious organization called " Orion", which is the secret protection of the secret guild of the Animare. The people who, like Em and Matt, bring the world to life through illustrations.


Remy flees to London looking for the journal, and a piece of art that holds Don Grigori. Literally holds Don Grigori. While in London, the paths of Remy, Em, and Matt cross, and the three realize that Remy is the last of a rare line. Remy is a Conjuror. Through music Remy can create changes in this reality. Similar to what Em and Matt do, but on a completely different scale.


From London to Spain, the trio chases Don Grigori. They only know that somehow Remy will be used to bring back the Grand Inquisitor, and bring about world destruction.


This book rides the edge between YA and New Adult. There are some themes and scenes that may be a bit too graphic for younger readers, but there is enough action and plot to keep them all engaged. In fact, there's plot, dialogue, and enough action to keep just about anyone engaged. For those who don't know, John was a central character in Torchwood, and this book does have a bit of that same vibe. Something mysterious, maybe dangerous, but certainly needing of more investigation. So anyone who is/was a fan of Dr Who or Torchwood should find this book quite interesting.


Publisher: Head of Zeus; 1 edition (April 21, 2016)
Publication Date: April 21, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English




Little Killers A-Z

Little Killers A-Z: An Alphabet of Horror - Howard Odentz

Little Killers A-Z: An Alphabet of Horror is the latest work by EPIC Award finalist Howard Odentz. It's a collection of macabre shorts about children and murder.


Each chapter/story focuses on a child with the name beginning of that letter of the alphabet. They range from "A is for Andy Who Watches His Dad" "K is for Kieran Who Fights in a Ring" "O is for Oz Who Has Piss Poor Genetics" to "Z is for Zina Who Suffers Starvation".


Each short was enjoyable, just long enough to give a small chill, and short enough to not require much depth. From children who murder for the sheer joy of it, to children who murder for sheer necessity, there are enough different tales to satisfy the horror sweet tooth of any reader.


I really can't say anything negative about the book. It was satisfying as a collection of shorts, I wish there were a few more, as it was only 180 pages. But there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, so Odentz didn't have much room for leeway there.


Gruesomely graphic, and even more horrifying because the murders are commited by children, Little Killers A-Z is a must read for fans of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, and more. Give it a read through if you're a fan of horror, you'll find you have a new fiend, er "friend" in Odentz.


Little Killers A-Z: An Alphabet of Horror
Howard Odentz
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books (June 15, 2016)
Publication Date: June 15, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10 - Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10 is the sophomore effort by Ruth Ware. And it's a mighty effort indeed.


Lo Blacklock gets the chance of her career as a travel writer. The chance to cover the maiden voyage of The Aurora, an exclusive, intimate, and luxurious new cruise ship. Lo jumps at the chance, it will advance her career, and get her away from her apartment, where she was recently robbed.


Self medicating with alcohol, Lo thinks she heard someone, a woman, be thrown overboard on the first night of the cruise. She reports the possible crime, but all the guests and crew are accounted for. In a drunken haze, could Lo have imagined the whole thing? But what about the woman she saw in cabin 10. The woman she borrowed mascara from. The woman who isn't on the ship anymore. The woman who seems to have never been onboard.


As Lo investigates what happened on the ship, there are some strange happenings. Most of those happenings revolve around the possible evidence that there really was another woman on the ship. There are a number of twists and turns in the novel, and I didn't see any of them coming. The traumas that Lo experienced before coming on the ship are tightly wound with her increasing sense of danger, and she slides farther down the rabbit hole in search of the truth.


The Woman in Cabin 10 has some great pre-release reviews, and I have to add mine to that growing list. It was very enjoyable, unpredictable, and gripping. I highly recommend it to people who enjoy mysteries, and murder on the high seas. And make certain to block out several hours to dedicate to it, you won't want to stop turning the pages to see what happens next.


I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, Gallery/Scout Press in exchange for an unbiased review.


The Woman in Cabin 10

Ruth Ware

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press (July 19, 2016)
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Language: English

The Book of Esther

The Book of Esther: A  Novel - Emily Barton

The Book of Esther, is the newest book from Emily Barton. It is an interesting riff on the biblical/Torah story of Queen Esther, but with some very significant and interesting changes.


Esther is the daughter of Kazhar's chief policy advisor. After sneaking away one morning with her brother/slave Itakh, Esther sees the reconnaissance planes of the Germanii flying overhead. Stories of the destruction throughout Europa are flooding into the country along with the refugees, and Esther knows that she needs to do something.


Sneaking away the next morning with Itakh, stealing money, food, and a mechanical horse, Esther sets off to find the Kabbalists, the only people Esther thinks can help her on her desire to save Kazhar. The ones who can change her into a boy, so that she may lead troops into battle. After an interesting trip through Uyghar, and a fortuitous meeting with some of the Uyghars, Esther and Itakh find the Kabbalists.


The Kabbalist village is tended to by Golemim, creatures that are not men, yet behave like men. Creatures who have been given the breath of life, but not a soul. After some arguement, the Kabbalists agree that Esther is indeed the person to lead Kazhar into battle, and make Golemim to serve with her.


Esther returns to Atil, her home city, just in time. The Germanii are advancing on the city, and she and the Golemim are needed on the front lines to repel the advancing forces.


The Book of Esther is an alt-history, diesel-punk novel. It's set in what should be the modern day Middle East, with traditional Turkish/Jewish names for places. There is also a lot of Jewish traditions and phrases in the book, but no glossary to define what any of those are. Which is probably needed unless you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of Jewish tradition and culture. An interesting book, but rather a slog to get through. There is just so much description, so much philosophical discussion, so much backstory, so much character development, that the book was a little tough to push through at times. It was good, well written, and a very well developed world, so it was worth sticking with. But you will want to have some Jewish reference books handy for translations and explanations.


The Book of Esther
Emily Barton
Publisher: Tim Duggan Books (June 14, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1101904097
ISBN-13: 978-1101904091 

Shadow Born

Shadow Born: a New Adult Urban Fantasy Novel (Shadows of Salem Book 1) - Jasmine Walt, Rebecca Hamilton

Shadow Born is the first book in the new urban paranormal series written by Rebecca Hamilton and Jasmine Walt. Shadows of Salem is the name of the series.


Brooke Chandler, lately of Chicago PD, finds herself transferring to Salem to be their newest detective. But Brooke has her own motive for the transfer. Her fiance, Tom, went to Salem to investigate the disappearances of some boys from the orphanage he was raised at. After dying in a mysterious fire, Brooke leaves for Salem to do some investigating of her own.


The police department in Salem is decidedly unhelpful to Brooke, doing their best to thwart her at every turn. But her partner does introduce Brooke to his brother, a priest with some knowledge he's not sharing. But Brooke has a huge secret too. She's got the power of psychometry, the ability to "see" the past by touching objects. It comes in handy quite a bit. Especially when hunting vampires. 


Brooke was raised by her uncle, and taught that there are vampires. She learned their strengths and weaknesses, and the best way to eliminate them. Which comes in handy in Chicago with Tom, as he hunts them too. However, once Brooke arrives in Salem after Tom, she soon realizes she's in way over her head. There are more supernatural beings than just vampires. Beings that want to kill Brooke, and she has no idea how to defend herself.


Shadow Born was fun. There were some plot points that were quite predictable, but the book was engrossing enough that those points weren't distracting. I read quite a bit of paranormal and urban fiction, and the writing style is refreshing. It doesn't rely on the trope of a damsel in distress, needing to be saved. Brooke is quite capable of that herself. But she does know and admit when she needs help. There's a bit of romantic tension between Brooke and Maddock, the fae club owner, but it's not overwhelming, and it's not glaringly obvious that they'll wind up a couple.


If you're a fan of these books, or authors like Karen Marie Moning, Carrie Vaughn, Sherrilyn Kenyon, etc, you'll enjoy Shadow Born, and the Shadows of Salem series. And if you're not, give it a shot anyway. It's engaging, funny, and filled with action. Rebecca Hamilton, one of the authors, was kind enough to give me an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.


Shadow Born
Rebecca Hamilton & Jasmine Walt
Shadows of Salem series, book 1
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 8, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1535185538
ISBN-13: 978-1535185530Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 8, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1535185538
ISBN-13: 978-1535185530

Something Wicked: A Ghost Hunter Explores Negative Spirits

Something Wicked: A Ghost Hunter Explores Negative Spirits - Debi Chestnut
Something Wicked is the latest work from noted paranormal researcher Debi Chestnut. It focuses on negative entities, but specifically on demons.
I like to refer to books like this as as basic introductions to the paranormal, as it goes fairly in depth into demonic entities, but the last chapter isn't really geared towards a beginner. Ms. Chestnut gives a good background information on the types of negative entities, including hauntings, poltergeists, negative entities who were never in human form, and demons.
There are chapters that explain how demons find victims, signs of infestation, repression, oppression, and finally possession of humans by demons. Each of these areas are overlapping, and some can be confused for each other by a paranormal researcher who isn't familiar with the workings of demons. I'm going to assume that the vast majority of paranormal investigators, commonly called Ghost Hunters, are not familiar with actual demons. It's far more common to come across a malevolent ghost or a poltergeist than a true demon.
There are a couple chapters dedicated to exorcisms as well, and the chapter that details false exorcisms is rather startling. There are some details into the murders of people who were claimed to be possessed that are graphic and disturbing. The part that goes over some of the items in the Catholic Rites of Exorcism was quite interesting as well. there were a number of changes in the 1999 release that some priests were unhappy with, including the printing of the rites in English, as opposed to Latin, which they had been published as previously. Some of the changes were very minor, but there are other changes that were a little baffling. (I'm not going to get into detail about them, they're not essential for the vast majority of people, as they only pertain to the priests chosen to perform exorcisms by the church.)
All in all, it was a pretty good introduction to negative entities, but demons in particular. And Ms Chestnut does make it pretty clear that if you believe you may have encountered a demon, that you shouldn't "play with it". You should contact an experienced investigator to evaluate the situation. There are some mental and physical illnesses that can be mistaken for possession/oppression, and treating those with an exorcism cam be harmful to the one suffering.
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780738742175 (0738742171)
ASIN: 0738742171
Publish date: 2016-07-08
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Pages no: 240
Edition language: English

Somebody's Daughter

Somebody's Daughter: Inside an International Prostitution Ring - Phonse Jessome

Somebody's Daughter is the story of a prostitution ring, based in Nova Scotia, Canada. It opens with the murder of a nineteen year old prostitute, and concludes with the pimps who ran the rings being convicted for their crimes. It's a harrowing look into "The Game", and the lives of people caught up in it.


Somebody's Daughter was first released in 1996, and as such, is rather outdated. However, the fact that child prostitution is a problem is still relevant today. Perhaps even more so than twenty years ago. Somebody's Daughter follows a number of girls through their lives in "The Game", as it's called by the people involved with it.


The book starts with the murder of nineteen year old Annie Mae Wilson, who was trying to switch pimps. Her current pimp was angered, and killed Annie Mae. It also follows her fellow girls Stacey Jackson and Taunya Terriault, among others.


It's also the story of two task forces, created to help end these prostitution rings, and help the girls re-acclimate to the "Straight World." These stings, called Operation Heart and Operation Hectic, were rather successful in their intentions. They helped girls escape the Game, and put their pimps behind bars. The police worked at making friends with the girls, giving them options that many of them didn't know they had. Not only of help leaving the game, but trust for people who aren't part of the family that the pimps created for the girls.


Part of the success of these operations was in treating the girls as people. They weren't referred to as sluts, whores, or criminals. They were young women, who were victims of their pimps. And the police worked to let the girls know that they weren't interested in charging the girls with prostitution, or bringing them to jail. The police were more concerned with jailing the pimps. Which looks to be a much more successful way of combating a prostitution ring. It helps girls escape the violence and rape at the hands of their pimps. Which is essential for the well being of the girls.


There is a chapter dedicated to the what steps were taken to help keep the girls off the streets. From going to reform schools, women's shelters, and the quite successful location of the Sullivan House. A secure facility that served multiple purposes, including keeping the girls safe from retribution from others in the Game.


Somebody's Daughter wasn't a particularly easy read, there is some very explicit violence, murder, rape, and psychological torture. It's also not one of those "light" reading books. It's a deep book, filled with facts, police presence, and insight into how a prostitution ring works, and how to bring it down. It's a lot of information to digest, but is written in a manner that is easy to digest and read. I'll recommend it, but it requires a specific audience. I enjoyed it, and it will appeal to fans of true crime novels, true crime non-fic, police procedurals, and informational non-fic.



Somebody's Daughter: Inside an International Prostitution Ring
Phonse Jessome
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road (June 28, 2016)
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

Daughters of the Dragon

Daughters of the Dragon - William Andrews

Anna Carlson, still reeling from the death of her adopted mother, returns to Korea to search for her birth mother. On leaving the orphanage that handled her adoption, a strange woman presses a small package into Anna's hand. And thus begins a tale spanning nearly 70 years.


Daughters of the Dragon is the third novel by William Andrews. His daughter is Korean, and he felt this was an important story to be told. The imoprtant story being that of the "Comfort Women" of Korea during WWII. Young women all over Korea were pressed into being "Comfort Women" at stations where Japanese soldiers were stationed during WWII. Prostitution was, and still is, a huge issue in Korea, and is far too nuanced to get into here. So I'm only going to review the book, and let you, my dear reader, to your own investigation into "Comfort Women".


Daughters of the Dragon opens with Anna visiting Korea to find her birth mother. She learns at the orphanage that her mother died in childbirth, and Ana will be the only person in her group to not meet their mother. But when she leaves the orphanage, sad and confused, an old woman presses a package into her hand. It contains an old comb an address, and a request to be at the address tomorrow. After debating the request, and showing the comb to her father and the tour guide, Anna decides to visit the address.


The elderly woman turns out to be Anna's grandmother, who needs to share her story with Anna. Her name is Hong Jae-hee, and she needs Anna to know her story. The story of where Anna came from. Jae-hee's story is a difficult one, chronicling her life from living on her parents farm, to being pressed into being a Comfort Woman, working in a Cat House, living under Communist rule in Northern Korea, and her life after defecting to South Korea. But through it all, Jae-hee has one constant. The comb given to her by her sister, who received it from her mother, continuing back to the Empress who unified Korea, and created a new symbol for Korea. That of a two headed dragon, signifying the dragons protection of all of Korea


Jae-hee gives the comb to Anna, asking if she is ready to take the comb, knowing the consequences and responsibilities that it entails. Anna decides to accept the comb, and all that it represents.


I enjoyed Daughters of the Dragon. It's an historical fiction book, and as such, it fictionalizes the experiences of a woman who is an amalgam of the experiences of thousands of women of Korea. There are some chapters that are very very hard to read. Highly triggering for rape and violence. Knowing this however, I do recommend it as reading. WWII was filled with horrors, and the treatment of Comfort Women is a part of that history that has been covered up for decades. The women have been silenced and ignored until very recently. There are a number of books written by former Comfort Women, and these I recommend reading as well. But as a fictionalized account of the life of a Korean woman from before the war until present day, Daughters of the Dragon is a reasonable account.


Daughters of the Dragon
William Andrews
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (June 28, 2016)
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

Amber Fire & Night Sins

Amber Fire - Lisa Renee Jones Night Sins - Lisa Renee Jones

Amber Fire is a new novella from Lisa Renee Jones, and is the story of how Amber met Jareth. Amber is an archeologist, carrying on the work of her father on the ancient Yaguara. A race of shape-shifting jaguars. Jareth, a reclusive novelist keeps showing up at the most odd times, usually when there are jaguars around the dig site.


Could Jareth be one of the ancient Yaguara? Or is he really what he seems, a concerned local, wanting to keep the dig team safe from the wild jaguars? Night Sins is a fun novella, clocking in at about 75 pages. It's super easy to digest, has a touch of mystery, some enjoyable smut, and ends on a note that leaves the reader wanting more of the story, and to know what happens next for Amber & Jareth.


Both books here are novellas from Lisa Renee Jones, and as such, I'm posting them in the same review. They're completely separate worlds, but still have the urban fantasy themes running through them. That's why they're together here.


Night Sins is Kayla and Ethan's story. Or at least, the story of how they began working together. Kayla is a Watcher, she protects humans from the nightwalkers. Ethan is one of the vampires. Not nightwalker, he's on the side of the humans, but he and Kyla are still forbidden from working, or playing, together. But as humn women are being killed in Las Vegas, Kyla and Ethan are forced to work together, to prevent more murders, or anything else, from happening. Coming in at about 65 pages, this is another short and spicy little work, and does leave itself open to more of their story.


Both were fun, had some good smut, a touch of mystery. Well paced and written, both of these little novellas are easily recommended for a short break from mundania. I liked that each one was this short. I don't think that these two scenes, for lack of a better word, would make a novel, but as novellas, they're just right. The dialogue isn't contrived, the characters aren't walking stereotypes (they are fairly standard, but not "copy/paste"). The tension is good, and they leave the reader wanting more from each story. All in all, a very good little read.



Iron Goddess

Iron Goddess: A Shea Stevens Thriller - Dharma Kelleher

Shea Stevens wakes up to one of the worst days she's had lately. Her motorcycle shop has been broken into, and not only is her merchandise gone, the custom bikes made for one of the most popular bands have been stolen. And as bad as the day started, the next few are only going to get worse.


Iron Goddess, the latest novel from Dharma Kelleher starts with a full throttled roar, and carries that intensity straight through the very last page. Not an incredibly easy feat, and one handled with deft prose and no holds back action.


Shea grew up in a biker gang, so she knows her way in and around them. Those skills that Shea learned and honed before going to prison are going to come in handy very soon. In fact, they start coming in handy later that morning when Shea's estranged sister shows up with a plea to find her daughter who has been kidnapped.


Looking for her sister's child puts Shea in the most dangerous situations of her life. From trying to escape the wrath of the Jaguars, the local heroin dealing gang, running from the cops under suspicion of kidnapping and murder, trying to figure out who kidnapped her niece, and working to stay in the good graces of her  new girlfriend, Shea has her work cut out for her.


I can't really say too much more, because it'll give away the majority of the plot points. But it's a fun read. It comes across as a version of the most pumped up action movie you can imagine, amplified by ten, and staring the most kickass, butchass biker dyke ever. And while Shea keeps getting curb stomped by the nonstop action in her life, she protects those she finds most dear to her.


Total novel to be recommended to the action-adventure fans, the lovers of dykes, and of strong, kickass women who refuse to roll over and take what life hands to them. It's a very fast read, with some very, very brutal violence. That may be a turnoff for some readers, so I'm giving fair warning. It's brutal and graphic, but it's pretty important to the story, and the future Shea Stevens novels will add to the violence and body count.


Iron Goddess
Dharma Kelleher
Publisher: Alibi (June 28, 2016)
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Sold by: Random House LLC
Language: English

The Girls

The Girls: A Novel - Emma Cline

Evie Boyd is fourteen, caught in that space between childhood and womanhood. Sick of living the life that her parents want for her, being taken out of public school and being sent to boarding school. Then one fateful day, she spies Suzanne. Her long dark hair, her flashing eyes, her carefree manner. And Evie knows that's who she wants to be.


The Girls, the debut novel from Emma Cline, is a hotly marketed work. Appearing in several Summer Must Read lists, this book earns it's place. It's a loose imagining of the Manson Family murders, only told from the POV of one of the "supporting girls" at the ranch. It's also a story about a young woman discovering that the things she thought she knew, weren't really what they seemed. That there was so much more lurking under the surface, things she never realized until time gave her a different perspective.


Evie eventually follows Suzanne to the ranch, falling in love with her along the way. Only to find that Suzanne is fiercely loyal to Russell, the charismatic leader of the family. A group of people who are somehow "more". More enlightened, more loving, more open, more easily sucked into roles of Russell's making.


Most of the story is told in retrospect by an adult Evie. She's recently been thrown into a situation that reminds her of that fateful summer. The summer she belonged to something bigger than herself, something important, something that soured on the vine. Evie wants to be accepted, to be loved, to be important, and the Family gives her that chance. Until the night that Suzanne betrays Evie, the night that Evie winds up missing out on something horrible.


I enjoyed The Girls, it was an interesting take on the Manson Family, coming from the POV of one of the girls who was part of the family, but not directly involved with the murders. It's very much a feminist novel, and rather heavy handed in its disdain for the roles that are provided for women, both by men, and just as importantly, by other women. I don't know that I'd put it on my "Have to Have Everyone Read" list, but it's one that I will recommend to my readers. While nothing in it comes as a surprise, it is a wrenching coming of age novel.



The Girls: A Novel
Emma Cline
Publisher: Random House; First Ediiton edition (June 14, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 081299860X
ISBN-13: 978-0812998603


Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War - Mary Roach

Grunt, the latest work by Mary Roach, explores some of the more interesting bits of what keeps the military running. And those bits are even stranger than you'd expect, if you've read any of Roach's previous works.


With chapters like Second Skin, Sweating Bullets, and What Doesn't Kill You Will Make You Reek, Roach pokes around into some strange research and science being developed for and by the US military.


There's some really interesting information here, scratching the surface of what needs to go into making new military uniforms (They need to be lightweight, breathe, be flame resistant, be wrinkle resistant, be stain resistant, and take dye well) and making the fabric better suited to cover all the various needs. Everything from keeping bomb propelled dirt out of wounds, keeping sand fleas off the skin, to wicking moisture from hot bodies and keeping heat in for cold bodies.


Chapters about how to protect soldiers from IED blasts, protecting their hearing, like (or lack thereof) on a submarine, and all filled with funny anecdotes from Roach that she learned firsthand by visiting various testing facilities and interviewing scientists, engineers, and the enlisted.


I've read everything Roach has previously written, so I went into it with some preconceived ideas of how the book would run, and I wasn't disappointed. As Roach says about herself, she's not a "spotlight operator", but a goober with a flashlight. So don't expect chapters about weapons, psychology, or military history. As Roach says, there are books already written about those subjects, and written better than she could write them. (Not knocking her, just paraphrasing what she writes in the introduction to the book.)


I know this won't be everyone's cup of tea. Roach has a very distinctive style of writing that turns some people off, it's very short and conversational. And she has a tendency to write about things that are rather...odd. But those are some of the things that make other readers come back for more of her books. And I'm one of those people. I give it a hearty four stars, and three thumbs up. Or maybe it's some of those fake spleens that are being used to train new combat medics...


Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War

Mary Roach

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (June 7, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0393245446
ISBN-13: 978-0393245448

The Geek Feminist Revolution

The Geek Feminist Revolution - Kameron Hurley

The Geek Feminist Revolution, the latest work by Kameron Hurley, is a collection of essays relating to feminism in writing. More specifically, on feminism in the SciFi/Fantasy world. Hurley is the winner of numerous awards for her writing, which includes two series and by once the final book in her second series is published (it's already in pipeline, and scheduled for publication early in 2017), she'll have seven published novels. Her essay, "We Have Always Fought" was the first article to ever win a Hugo award!


There are four parts to the book, titled Level Up, Geek, Let's Get Personal, and Revolution. Each part includes several essays, including nine new essays written just for this book. While the essays are deeply personal, they are not truly a memoir, and the book isn't a direct attack against a certain subset of SciFi/Fantasy authors either. That group will disagree with that, they'll disagree with anything that doesn't fall inside their tiny definition of what SciFi/Fantasy should be.


Part One: Level Up works with honing your writing, breaking into the publishing world, reminders not to get discouraged, and reminders that you should continue to write, no matter what your haters tell you. Hurley talks about many of the struggles that are specific to women, and other marginalized voices in SciFi/Fantasy. Those struggles are much different for marginalized communities, working to break down the stereotype of SciFi/Fantasy authors being cishet middleaged white men.


Part Two: Geek has essays relating to character/world building. The theme of this part is building female characters that are "normal" people. They are the women you know in your day to day life, as opposed to the stereotypical women portrayed in the genre. She also talks about building unlikable protagonists, and the culture of toxic masculinity.


Part Three: Let's Get Personal is a closer look at Hurley, and some of the struggles she has had in finding a place in SciFi/Fantasy, among other places in her life. Several of the essays relate to "not letting the bastards get you down", that there is going to be a backlash against your work, for the sole reason of you being a minority author. The essay that resonates with me the most though, doesn't have much to deal with writing. Hurley has an auto-immune disease that wrecked her pancreas, and left her in a coma for three days. After waking up, she then had the horror of trying to pay medical bills, find a doctor to see her, and attempt to get insurance coverage for a pre-existing condition. This took place before the ACA mandated that pre-existing conditions be covered, and reveals what some of us had to try to deal with to keep ourselves from dying.


Part Four: Revolution is about making yourself heard. It's about putting yourself "out there" and the backlash you're going to get from the establishment. It also calls on authors to continue to create the worlds they want to see. To continue to write books that cause controversy, to continue to fight for a more just and equal world. Not just in writing, but to push for a more just and equal world in the physical world we inhabit.


I've been reading some of Hurley's work off and on for a few years now, and have always admired her voice. In The Geek Feminist Revolution, she tackles subjects like GamerGate and the Sad/Rabid Puppies kerfluffle. She never stoops to their level though, even after the personal attacks she received, Hurley has remained professional. She has been a beacon of hope for many authors, a person we can turn to for support and solidarity.


I highly enjoyed The Geek Feminist Revolution as a marginalized person and aspiring writer. There is an overarching theme of hope in the book. The hope that people can, and will, become better. That the struggles of the authors who have fought before us are there as blocks for new waves to stand on, and help the next generation up to go farther than we have. To help one another to be better than we were. Totally solid five star review for a collection of essays that are a must-read for writers, readers, and feminists of all stripes.



The Geek Feminist Revolution

Kameron Hurley

Publisher: Tor Books (May 31, 2016)


  • Publication Date: May 31, 2016
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B015MP6VA0



Behave - Andromeda Romano-Lax

Behave is the third novel by Andromeda Romano-Lax. It's about the experiments of John Watson, and his second wife Rosalie Raymer, on children trying to determine if fear behaviors are learned, or if they can be conditioned.


Watson's most notorious experiment was on "little Albert", a nine month old child who what psychologically tortured in the "name of science". His assistant, Rosalie Raymer, was a Vassar grad, enamored with John and his unorthodox methods of experimentation.


After tearing apart their careers for an affair, John and Rosalie eventually marry and raise two boys in yet another experiment in parenting. The book, Psychological Care of Infant and Child, was written by the Watson's during the experimentation on their own children. As the earliest model of detachment parenting, the Watson's gained a following by parents who were interested in not damaging children by pushing the wants and desires of parents onto children.


Behave was an interesting sort of book. Not exactly a biography, but not exactly fiction either. I'd classify it as historical fiction. It's also not a particularly easy book to read, as the experiments performed on the children was psychologically damaging, nay devastating, to all the children involved. I did enjoy Behave, as I'd done a bit of research into Watson's experiments in an early childhood development. I was creeped out by the experiments then, and that Rosalie enthusiastically participated was even worse. However, after reading Behave, I did begain to emphasize with Rosalie a bit more. I know that it's a fictional account of the goings on, but it did paint Rosalie in a more sympathetic light, defying John's rules and schedules about how he desired the boys to be raised.


I'll recommend it. Fans of historical fiction, psychology, child development, and fictional literature should enjoy it. I think students of most of the "soft sciences" should enjoy it, it does have that kind of appeal. Very solid 4 stars for the book.




  • Behave
  • Andromeda Romano-Lax
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Press (March 1, 2016)
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2016
  • Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00Y6RKZ2Q



June: A Novel - Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

June is the third novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, her first novel, Bittersweet was met with much acclaim, and June looks to be doing the same.


June is set spanning sixty years in the grand house called Two Oaks, located in rural St. Jude Ohio. Set in the months of June 1955 and June 2015, June pulls together two generations into one house.


2015 finds Cassie Danvers camping out in the house her grandmother June left to her. The $14,000 that went with the house didn't go far though, at least not far enough for Cassie to make any of the needed repairs on the house. But then again, running away to the house to escape a failed relationship, might be reason enough for Cassie to neglect everything. But then comes the knock on the front door. Nick, the assistant to Tate Montgomery, is there to inform her that Jack Montgomery has left his entire estate to her. Naturally, Tate, who is Jack's younger daughter, is incensed. She's never heard of Cassie, let alone Cassie being related to her.


Meanwhile, in 1955, June's best friend Lindie, tells the story of what was happening. From the beginning of the filming of "Erie Canal", which is why Jack Montgomery is in town, to the end of the film, and the beginning of a romance between June and Jack.


The question that runs through the entire book is "Did Jack and June have a romance, one that June kept secret from everyone, including the son that might be Jack's?" The answer is a long time coming, and it is, and isn't, what was expected.


Upon opening June, I thought I was going to be very disappointed. A 400 page, 65 chapter book that flips back and forth between 1955 and 2015? Eeeh, probably not. But I'm glad that I stuck with it. I enjoyed the story. It did have some enormous plot holes, and some incredibly improbable situations (inviting a perfect stranger and her two personal assistants to live in your home until you can sort out if your grandmother and her father had an affair? Your house is falling down around your ears, and you don't do *anything* to repair it? Ohio, in the winter with no heat at all?) But all in all, it was a pretty good book. There's certainly a large market for the book, romance, history, Hollywood, mystery. It's got a little bit of everything, and something to appeal to almost everyone.

The Unicorn

The Unicorn - Delphine Dryden

It's not often that I've ever wanted to call smut sweet, but this really was. The Unicorn, a recent new book from Delphine Dryden, fits into that spot. It's not *really* new, it is a reissue of Roses and Chains, published in 2011, but it's been very heavily revised and reissued.


Mara knows what she wants, a real relationship with a Dom. It's not that she she lacks for a current Domme play partner, but they dated and have split up. Which can make for some awkward moments in a scene.


Delia and Daniel are beginning to dip their toes into the kink scene. Both of them have been interested in it for years, but have been afraid to act on those urges until lately. Married life in the suburbs isn't really what it looks like on the outside for this couple. Especially with Daniel being a burgeoning Dom.


After being "introduced" at the new local kink club, Mara, Delia, and Daniel have an incredibly hot, touching, scene. Only to have to part at the end of the night. Life intervenes, and all three are left wondering if they'll be able to spend more time together, or if all they have are some wonderful memories. Oh, and the little twist at the end had me chuckling and smiling for hours.


The Unicorn really is a unicorn. That elusive "thing" that doesn't really exist, but is pursued by so many. Ms. Dryden is able to capture that special something, and adds the sweetness to a bit of a spicy story. It's short, more a novella than a novel, but it ends on a good point, leaving you wanting just a bit more. All the kink in the scenes is 100% enthusiastically consensual, which is always good to read. Frequently, consent is left out in favor of making a scene "hotter". There is negotiation at the beginning of the first scene, which is also often left out, but a vital part of the "reality" of kink.


I give it a nice solid 4 star rating, it's very refreshing to see both kink and polyamory presented in an honest way, even though it's very much a fairy tale of how things work out. But it will be going on my list of little things to read when I need some "sweet smut" to make me smile.

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