Mermaids in Wheelchairs

Mermaid drawing by deviantart user boobookittyfuck. So my friend posted this thing and I was like, guys, there are already tons of books like this? Then my stupid internet browser at work ate my comment, so here I am!

Okay so:

First, specific recommendations based on the above, and then just general “look, fantasy books that are doing the damn thing.”

Mermaids in wheelchairs:

  • Deadshifted by Cassie Alexander (Edie Spence #4). The character is actually a siren, if I remember correctly, but she has a tail. This is the least exciting book in the series in my opinion. The first book is about a night nurse in a supernatural ER ward. There are shifters and vampires and mysterious multidimensional entities, oh my!
  • One Salt Sea (October Daye #5) by Seanan McGuire. See below for the first book in the series. **added 01/12/18

Sirens using sign language:

  • High Demon and First Ordinance series by Connie Suttle. The characters are by and large villains in this universe, but there is one in particular whose vocal cords were damaged intentionally and he uses telepathy and sign language to communicate. Trigger warning: Suttle’s books contain a lot of violence and misogyny and her characters are largely disempowered women with massive trauma issues. Many attain power and status and resolution later, but it didn’t sit well with me.

Religious vampires:

  • Blood Rights (House of Comarré series #1) by Kristen Painter has a vampire named Preacher who lives in a church.
  • In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes also has several characters who have to reconcile their religion and their vampirism. There are honestly so many more but these are the ones that immediately came to mind.

Disabled fairies fighting for accessibility:

  • The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. The pixies in these books have to fight for fair wages and anti discrimination. Also Jenks is just an all around fun character.
  • Rosemary and Rue (October Daye series #1) by Seanan MacGuire also deals with this, delving even more into drug abuse, and racism.
  • A Kiss of Shadows (Merry Gentry #1) by Laurell K. Hamilton. Although in this series the fairies are disabled mostly as a direct result of violence inflicted on them by a twisted and sadistic society or three.

Spirits fighting fires and saving people from natural disasters/situations that are too dangerous for the living:

  • Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires series #1) by Rachel Caine.
  • The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (though more so as the series progresses).
  • Grave Witch by Kalayna Price. The ghosts in this series are more bidden than selfless, but they are present!
  • Shadowland (The Mediator series #1) by Meg Cabot. Kind of. Again, more bidden and subjective rather than a ghostly task force.

Fae snatching children from abusive homes while changelings wreak havoc:

  • Seanan MacGuire again, October Daye.
  • Trailer Park Fae (Gallow and Ragged series #1), by Lilith Saintcrow. This series is so so so good!

Liberated genies using their powers to fight for human rights:

  • Oracle’s Moon by Thea Harrison. This is a romance novel and doesn’t have much plot to speak of. Mostly the Djinn is just horrified at the poverty this hot witch is suffering through, but I like this series, each of which can be read as standalone novels.

Psychic doctors, psychologists, teachers, etc:

  • Calderon’s Fury (Codex Alera series #1) by Jim Butcher. All of the healers in this world are also empaths.
    This is actually a really common element in urban fantasy, so it’s very odd that I am otherwise drawing a blank.

I didn’t get into a couple of the suggestions: shapeshifters with stretch marks is weirdly specific and I’m positive there are hirsute female shapeshifter protagonists with normal, stretch-marked bodies, but it isn’t treated as a point of contention or mentioned. Let me know in the comments if I mentioned any of your favorite, or if there are any I should check out!

I’ll leave you with a strong, genre subverting recommendation which is an awesome, 5 star read: In Other Lands, by Sarah Rees Brennan. Excerpt:

“What’s your name?”

“Serene.”

“Serena?” Elliot asked.

“Serene,” said Serene. “My full name is Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle.”

Elliot’s mouth fell open. “That is badass.”

The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. Don’t try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border—unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoint pens are okay.) There are elves, harpies, and—best of all as far as Elliot is concerned—mermaids.

Elliot? Who’s Elliot? Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands.

It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There are lots of interesting books. There’s even the chance Elliot might be able to change the world.

Thanks for reading!

So This is the New Year

Woody Guthrie’s resolutions, 1943.

& I don’t feel any different. I mean, the calendar system we use in the US is so arbitrary. I’m really more of a lunar cycle kind of girl (btw, is that series any good? I’ve never had much inclination to check it out).

Throwing it back to last year’s post on this day, 2017 was chock full of THINGS. I did less traveling than the year prior, and most of it was for job interviews with airlines. Some time around the end of March I decided to give up the ghost, take some time to have a regular sleep schedule and maybe be a flight attendant again in a couple years when I’m more financially secure.

I added several more odd jobs to my list of “I’ve done almost everything for money (but I won’t do that),” and btw, I would strongly discourage anyone from working in the cannabis industry in Denver unless you’re pretty solid dealing with dickbags and shady business. I quit my job, and spent a good amount of time crying on the phone before I checked my voicemail and heard my invitation to interview for a new one

So, for the second half of 2017, I worked a 9-5 in a law office, moved from a suburb to Denver proper (pretty close to downtown and “the action,” which is where I love to be), and got a lot of puppy snugs. I submitted poetry, was published twice! and closed out the year with potential and growth and all of that positivity nonsense you never hear from me.

What I didn’t do was finish anything. Does a poetry manuscript count? Even if I’ve written the majority of the pieces in it in years prior? I exist constantly in this weird pendulum swinging between trying too hard and not trying hard enough.

I’m moving next month, hopefully starting in an upward position at my company (send hopeful vibes!), and will hopefully crush it personally and professionally this year (by finishing a damn book). Even my personal life is looking pretty tolerable (although I have friendships and family to tend to, and men are trash, except the one that is currently less trash). I’m looking forward, and I hope I can drag a few friend’s gazes future-ward as well. I’ve been so lucky to not be under the constant yoke of depression and I want that for others, too.

With that, I’ll leave you with a link to Angel City Review’s current issue. I’m in there, along with a poem I wrote 6 years ago when I was bitter and angry. I’m still bitter and angry, but not in LA anymore, and less so.

Series recommendation: I Bring The Fire by C. Gockel

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, not for a lack of material, but because I’m lazy. This series demands recognition though, and I am totally floored that such an engrossing, imaginative, intricate story hasn’t become a sleeper sensation among fantasy readers.

Set in the US in the present, but spanning millennia and ages, I Bring The Fire incorporates mythology into a modern fantasy story. Many cultures are represented, in both the myths and mythological creatures that appear in the duration of the series.

The first book opens with veterinary student Amy Lewis driving home to Chicago during a vet school break. She gets run off the road by a serial killer and her unwitting prayer for help is heard by Loki, the trickster god of Norse legend.

Pretty much anyone who has enjoyed seeing gods and legendary figures in the media, The Avengers, for example, will enjoy the portrayal of Loki, his dynamic with Amy, modern America, as well as Thor, Odin, Mimir, and Hoenir. There are action, adventure, romance, and more myths than you would think possible all woven into this series. I’ve considered myself fairly knowledgeable about mythology in the past, but the depth of narrative and characterization Gockel has incorporated in the plot is very impressive. There are also some cool twists and adaptations of the traditional stories, like Baldur being completely different than in retellings.

Any fans of Jim Butcher, Rick Riordan, Ilona Andrews, and the expanded Marvel universe will probably get a kick out of these books.

My writing was published in a magazine!

 

photo credit: Birdy Magazine on Facebook.

A few months ago I wasn’t doing much writing, so decided that I needed to be a Real Writer™ and start submitting. I am floored because two of my poems have been accepted by two different publications and it’s seriously wild to think that other people read something I wrote and thought it was good enough to accept for publishing (and pay me for it!)

 

The December issue (vol. 48) of Birdy Magazine is out and one of my poems is in it and I’m all aflutter. Birdy is a local Denver magazine and it’s really very cool, chock full of art, and devoid of the kind of garish advertising you see in more “commercial” magazines. It’s also free. The quality of the printing makes each issue pretty and collectible, and the artists featured on each cover do such a great job. I couldn’t be happier to be featured, and I want to show everyone this issue.

However, it is deeply, deeply uncomfortable publicizing my poetry. I’ve never had an issue sharing stories, blogs, articles, you name it. Poetry, on the other hand, is like my deep dark secret activity. I’ve only really ever written it for myself, and I almost never show it to anyone. With the exception of a couple poems I submitted to a writing contest once and in workshops, I just don’t share.

I brought a few copies of the magazine to work, and after the fifth person tried to open the mag and read my poem right in front of me I started awkwardly insisting they go away first. As much as I love attention it seems really self aggrandizing to blather on, and I’m not falsely humble. I’m happy to brag, it’s just such a quagmire of emotions and awkwardness to share something personal. I should probably get used to it.

Is Kindle Unlimited worth it?

YES.

See, you didn’t even have to read through a long ad-studded listicle to find out. In my opinion and experience, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited is absolutely definitely worth it.

I read a lot, and I also happen to own a Kindle Fire. These days I find that my phone’s Kindle app is my primary reading device, but the tablet is what got me on the platform.

Amazon recently took the purchasing functionality out of their iOS apps, due to Apple moving to take a percentage of in-app transactions. One may still purchase from a mobile browser.

With KU, I am able to select and download books to read for free directly from the Kindle app, because it is not a paid transaction. As an iOS user who is far too lazy to switch apps just to purchase a book, this is very convenient for me.

Not to mention how many awesome books are available.  Many of the authors I’ve read and loved and have yet to review here have whole series available through the service.

I read about three to six books a month, depending on my schedule and the book length. For $9.99 USD per month, this is more than reasonable. I don’t have checkout dates to worry about as I would when using the library, nor are there a finite number of copies available. In addition, I can reread a book whenever I want (although who has time to do that?! There are so many books to be read!)

Your mileage may vary, but if you’re an avid reader who has been on the fence about the service, and wanted an unsolicited opinion, you’ve just read mine.

And if you don’t trust me, Groupon is offering at free 60 day subscription so you can see if it’s worth the price!

https://www.groupon.com/deals/kindle-unlimited-national-2

**BTW nobody paid me to advertise this, I just like the service and found the Groupon this morning (but if you work for Amazon and want to throw money at me, feel free).

Writing, art, passion, loneliness.

I just sent in a poetry submission. To a real publication (I am still unsure if my community college writing contest counts, but that’s a question for a poetry editor somewhere), and I find myself feeling strangely not relieved or excited. Just the same strange strong obligation to march ever onward.

I tried explaining this to someone recently. We were discussing ambition and motivation and life-in-general stuff, and explaining my perception of my life and goals wasn’t very relate-able. Writing is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, not necessarily for money, or fame or success, but to do.

have to write. Not often or in any particular quantity, but it’s what I have, and I have always felt a weird undercurrent of obligation to do so. Also I’m getting kind of good at it at this point, so it’s easier than say, oil painting would be, in terms of expression of the self.

Anyway, the thing is, not everyone has that drive to share, to express, and I didn’t really know it until recently. Not every human on the planet is constantly obsessing about creating art in ways that other people can relate to. You see the urge in other things, relate-able social media, memes, etc. Storytelling is a part of most human cultures, but not everyone has a tiny voice threatening you every day to write, or else. Yeah, my passion threatens me, what does yours do?

The part we did agree on, in this conversation, was that any endeavor that requires focus requires ALL OF THE FOCUS. This is part I struggle with. I can’t neglect the routine, the self-care, socializing. Those are all  things I need to stay sane so I can write. I am never going to be that shut-in genius that people talk about in hushed tones about my dedication to my craft. I like living and doing and laughing, and if that means I blow off editing this damn poetry manuscript for another month, I shall. And you shan’t stop me with your guilt-trip, self. SHAN’T.

Anyway, writing is lonely. Unless you collaborate with another person (and this idea is HORRIFYING to me, because control issues), you’re bound to spend a lot of time alone, with paper. Lots of paper. And pens. And computers. That is an incredibly off-putting realization, for me.

But I just submitted some poetry. And I’ll do it again. And I’ll continue to (very slowly) write this book (and the three others I’ve started since I started that one).

Review: Heirs of Grace by Tim Pratt

Heirs of GraceHeirs of Grace by Tim Pratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Recent art school graduate Bekah thought she’d hit the jackpot: an unknown relative died, and she inherited a small fortune and a huge house in the mountains of North Carolina.

Trey Howard, the lawyer who handled the estate, is a handsome man in his twenties and they hit it off right away-and soon become more than friends. Bekah expected a pleasant year to get her head together and have a romantic fling. Problem is, the house is full of junk…and siblings she didn’t know she had are willing to kill her for it.

More important, the junk in her new house is magical, she’s surrounded by monsters, and her life seems to be in mortal peril every time she ventures into a new room. As Bekah discovers more about her mysterious benefactor and the magical world he inhabited, she’s realizes that as tough and resourceful as she is, she might just be in over her head…

Heirs of Grace is a tale of family and magic, action and wonder, blending the strong heroine, cheeky humor, and dark fantasy that have become the hallmarks of Tim Pratt’s writing.

Sound the alarms, I’ve found a new author to obsess over! Tim Pratt did such an amazing job with this book, I really can’t emphasize that enough.

Such a good book! It combines all of the elements of a book I’d love to read into a perfectly executed mélange of I-want-to-read-this: The South, big old magical inherited houses, cool objects of power, female protagonists that are kick ass, etc.

Tim Pratt writes like Ilona Andrews and Diana Wynne Jones had a beautiful, witty, male, also-writerly baby. Bekah, the protagonist, is so refreshing. It’s strange to say that I loved a female character written by a man so much more than any female characters I’ve read written by anyone else, recently, but I really did. Granted, men have been writing good female characters for the entirety of human history. It’s just rare, like most excellent things.

Also, the setting of the story being in and around Boone, North Carolina was just funny, because one of my best friends in Denver lived there and talks about it every now and again, so I feel like I know it.

Also, I had a fun exchange after the laugh I got on the second page:


The old woman gestured vaguely at me. She was wearing white gloves, which fit her general level of dress, but seemed better suited to high tea or church than general sitting around. She clarified: “Are you [so]me kind of Mexican?” That was a new one. Sometimes on forms I check “Other” and sometimes I check “Pacific Islander” and often other people mark me down as “Black” (which my adoptive parents are, and almost certainly some of my biological ancestors, too), but I’d never been self- or other-identified as “some kind of Mexican.” Welcome to the South, I guess. I hadn’t spent much time in this part of the country, and the first person I spoke to in my temporary new home wasn’t making me look forward to future human interactions. “Sure,” I said. “Some kind of Mexican.
Buenos días and vete a la chingada.”  

I laughed so hard I had to call my coworker Val over to laugh with me.
Me: “Wouldn’t it be ‘va te a la chingada?'”
Val: “I don’t know, I don’t really write in Spanish.”
Me: “Well how would you tell someone to go fuck themselves?”
Val (with a completely straight face): “Go fuck yourself. You gotta say it so they understand.”

Val is great. Anyway, you should read this book. It probably won’t change your life but you will probably like it and laugh at least once. I almost never laugh at books. I think Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher and JK Rowling are the only other writers who have ever made me laugh. Pratt has a series about a woman named Marla Mason which I intend to start reading immediately. Well, immediately after the 37 other books I have waiting in the wings. We will see which priority wins out.

Review: Tell The Wind And Fire

Tell the Wind and FireTell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised.

Lucie alone knows of the deadly connection the young men share, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Celebrated author Sarah Rees Brennan tells a magical tale of romance and revolution, love and loss.

Full disclosure, I have never read A Tale of Two Cities. I KNOW, I should, and I’ve lost some Brit Lit cred in your eyes. This book is a fantasy retelling of the Dickens novel, set in an alternate future where Dark and Light magic have torn society apart, to the point that the two cities are vastly different parts of New York.

The protagonist, Lucie, differs from the Dickensian Lucie Manette in that she is the central figure and the narrator. She also has a lot of dark secrets. For being 17 in the book, Lucie is incredibly mature, and very socially adept. She is famous on both the Light and Dark sides for being “The Golden Thread in the Dark,” a symbol of hope and devotion, and also of resistance.

The romance between Lucie and Ethan Stryker, the son of one of the most important men in the city, is a constant source of conflict and drives most of the plot. Despite this, the emotions she carries didn’t become cloying, in my opinion, although it did seem a bit unrealistic that a 17 year old could be so steady and self aware.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has read A Tale of Two Cities, and those who have not but would be interested in a female protagonist with an unwavering focus.

Advance Review: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Mask of Shadows (Untitled, #1)Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

My short, to-the-point review is that Mask of Shadows was good, but it was trying too hard. Not in reference to the plot and writing, not at all! Linsey Miller cooked up an interesting world, an entertaining plot, and one of the most memorable, ultra immersive romances I’ve read in quite a long time. Unfortunately, what could be one of the most interesting aspects of this book, the gender fluidity of Sal, the, protagonist, is thrown into the mix in a strange way.

Sal’s nonbinary gender is almost nonchalant for a character who grew up in the streets. There’s a strange unreality to a character growing up with such an impoverished, desperate background not having experienced any discrimination for not conforming to a gender expectation, which would lead a reader to ask if the society in which the character lives has a general acceptance for nonconformists. This question isn’t addressed in Mask of Shadows; at least, not in a clear way. In addition to being sort of unscathed by society in regard to gender, Sal is remarkably well-spoken, to the point that Elise, the love interest, remarks upon it. Sal quickly puts Elise in her place, by calling out her assumption that Sal couldn’t be articulate, rather than addressing the unlikeliness of a street kid attaining an education while trying to stay alive and conduct a life of petty crime. I have to take a step back and acknowledge that yes, this is a fantasy world, therefore the society, from bottom to top, can operate any way the author dictates. The issue then is that it’s not clearly dictated. Miller is a good writer, and subtle, but the choices Miller made in choosing not to replicate the way human societies in reality work makes it difficult to relate to as a Eutopian goal. The reader is shown a great deal, but not told a whole lot, and in this one particular aspect it hinders the book. In every other sense, Miller’s style and writing are super.

The romance between Sal and Elise was really enjoyable to read. It’s difficult to really nail down the roiling emotions of a crush but Miller does it perfectly. The romance is also not a terribly huge part of the plot, not the entire focus of the protagonist’s arc. It’s just a nice, delightful little detour in the the otherwise action packed plot.

Very similar to Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass, Sal and a number of other hopefuls are competing to be the monarch’s assassin.The competition takes place at a royal estate and there is murder, intrigue, and mayhem. Sal is kind of disappointingly good at everything, having never done much of what she learns before. The other competitors are unfortunately not very likeable nor are they easy to get attached to. Miller does make it feasible that Sal might lose and not become one of The Left Hand, which was believable enough to me to make me want to find out how the plot ends.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the competition plot, books that go light on the fantastical aspect while still incorporating elements of the genre, and strong, non-entirely-masculine characters. Disclosure: I received an ARC of Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller from the publisher via NetGalley.

Review: Star Witch by Helen Harper

Star Witch (The Lazy Girl's Guide To Magic #2)Star Witch by Helen Harper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Helen Harper is a gem and a fantastic writer. That being said I’m not a huge fan of Ivy Wilde, which makes zero sense given how much we have in common, i.e. we are both quite lazy.

I think that three inconsistencies make her difficult to like. First, the way other characters react to her is all over the place, and this makes it difficult to determine much about what she is like, as if she were a real human. I appreciate that Harper didn’t spend paragraphs describing Ivy, but I am the sort of reader that needs a lot of context to form a solid picture of a character.

The second inconsistency is Ivy herself. Harper is funny, so it follows that Ivy might be funny. However, in this book it’s sometimes hard to tell if Ivy is making a joke or is just having a stupid moment. Is she clever? Is she of average intelligence? I couldn’t tell you.

The final inconsistency is that Ivy is supposed to be a talented witch, but in this book she doesn’t do anything particularly clever. In fact, at one point she nearly dies of exhaustion from doing spells. Is magic supposed to be like a muscle? Didn’t she just spend the entirety of the previous book working out/using magic? I’m confused.

Still going to read Spirit Witch. But confused.

View all my reviews