Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: Danced Close by Annabeth Albert

Cover of Danced Close, featuring two white people in suits dancing together. One suit is very pale grey; the other is dark blue. Both people wear bow ties. In true romance novel fashion, the top of the cover cuts off their heads, while the lower bodies are obscured by the title.
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Kendall, a genderqueer wedding planner, is in a bind. He’s committed to participating in a swing dance benefit in a few weeks, but his best friend has had to bow out of the event--and the dance lessons leading up to it--to deal with a family emergency. Kendall can’t give the benefit a miss or show up without a partner; not with his ex ready and waiting to sneer at him.

Enter Todd, a former competitive dancer and current assistant at one of the bakeries Kendall deals with. Todd agrees to help Kendall out, and the more they dance together the deeper their connection runs.

DANCED CLOSE [Amazon] is the sixth book in Albert’s Portland Heat series. The novellas all focus on small business owners and employees, and as with most romance series you do not need to read them in publication order. Newcomers can easily leap in here, though longtime readers will recognize Todd from his small role in BAKED FRESH and be glad to see cameos from a few other series couples.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Review: Geek Actually, Episodes One and Two

Cover of Geek Actually Episode One, featuring a stylized image of a Filipina woman with long, dark hair. She wears large yellow sunglasses and sits at a desk in a pink-walled office, her computer in front of her and a phone pressed to her ear.
Review copies provided by the publisher.

GEEK ACTUALLY is the first general fiction offering from Serial Box, my favourite purveyor of episodic fiction. Pitched as “SEX AND THE CITY for the modern geek girl,” it follows five diverse women as they navigate life in general and geekdom in specific.

Michelle is an editor at a prestigious SFF publisher. Aditi is a fantasy writer with the potential to become a superstar. Taneesha’s a badass developer at a game company. Christina’s a production assistant on a post-apocalyptic TV show. And Elli is an uber-talented cosplayer with zero interested in life beyond fandom.

Writers Cathy Yardley, Melissa Blue, Rachel Stuhler, and Cecelia Tan launched the serial last week with its premiere episode, “WTF.” The second episode, “The Invisible Woman,” dropped this past Wednesday.

Serial Box kindly gave me the first four episodes to preview, and it was all I could do not to tear through them in one go. I had an especially hard time pausing after “The Invisible Woman” so I could write this intro-to-the-series post without letting my thoughts on the subsequent episodes creep in.

Because this is great stuff, people. I’m excited.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

#warehousewatch: Giant-Size Superhero Special

A screencap of Barry Allen and Kara Danvers sitting on a pile of flour sacks in a warehouse. They both wear 1920s clothing: Barry, a dark three-piece suit, and Kara, a black full length evening gown with a glittery bodice and elbow-length gloves.
Where better to set your musical episode than a series of warehouses?

Welcome to #warehousewatch, in which we track the most integral thing on the CW Network: the warehouses! This giant-size super-special installment takes us from the start of March through to the season finale of the CW’s three biggest superhero shows: THE FLASH, SUPERGIRL, and ARROW. A second mega post will cover JANE THE VIRGIN, LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, and THE VAMPIRE DIARIES through to their finales, with a look at the first few episodes of iZOMBIE. And since I’m waaaaaaaay behind on both THE 100 and THE ORIGINALS (those pesky The series), they’ll each receive a separate, full-season report at an unspecified point in the future.

If you missed the previous posts in this series, you can find them under my CW Scholarship tag.

As always, I’ve organized this vitally important scientific data by show and by episode, and I’ve counted warehouse appearances rather than individual warehouses. There are also lots of spoilers in the mix. You may wish to skip the episodes you haven’t seen yet and/or go straight to the stats section at the bottom of this massive, unwieldy post.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Readathon: April 2017 Edition

Square image of a fuzzy grey poodle standing on some very green grass. A short distance away from him is a trade paperback copy of Song of Blood and Stone. Its cover features a young black woman awash in pink tones. The shot is taken from above.
This is my first Readathon without Murchie. I'll think of him often today.

Hello, friends and fellow Readathonners! The best day of the spring is upon us, and I for one am ready to dive straight in and read my heart out.

My BIG PLANS for today include a couple (or a few) dozen issues of various X-Men series, interspersed with print comics, my current audiobook, and some prose whenever I need to recharge my device. I'll also be helping out on the official Instagram feed during the later half of the 'thon, alongside the lovely Kelly of The Written World, and I'm going to try to maintain a presence on Litsy. You can find me there as xicanti.

I'll also edit this post with periodic updates about what I'm reading, what I'm eating, and what else I'm doing with my time. (Because as much as I love reading, I always do a couple other things with my time.) The most recent update will always appear at the top.

Hour Twenty-Two-ish

My last session involved lots of Instagramming, some TV in Korean so I had to read it, and far less non-TV reading than I would've liked. In the piddly forty-five minutes I actually read, though, I did start FOOL'S QUEST by Robin Hobb for the second time and creep a little bit further through X-FACTOR.

I'd like to get a bit more read before the Readathon ends, so this'll be my last blog update. I'll still be awake and active on social media, though! With any luck, I can make this my second (?) full Readathon.

To aid in that, I'm currently drinking my beloved Jumpy Monkey tea, and I'm considering having second supper. There're enough leftovers to make up a good-sized taco bowl, if I cut my remaining tortilla up and fry it into chips. Alas, I'll have to pass on more of my buffalo & bleu cheese chips as I hurt my tongue eating caramel corn and I don't think I can take anything with that particular texture.

I may watch another shorter TV episode, too. Depends how sleepy I am.

Total Time Read:

  • Seven hours, fifty-nine minutes

Books/Series Explored:

  • X-MEN (2010)
  • X-FACTOR (1986)

Food & Drink Consumed:

  • two cups coffee
  • many glasses of water (I always lose track)
  • one bowl Krave cereal, sans milk
  • three bowls chocolate caramel corn, plus a bunch of individual pieces I nabbed out of the big bowl as the mood took me. I'm gonna cut myself off for the rest of the night.
  • one packet seaweed snacks
  • some Buffalo wing & bleu cheese chips
  • two crumbled tofu tacos with zucchini, corn, black beans, edamame, cabbage, radishes, and cilantro lime crema
  • one cup iced Southern Butter Pecan coffee
  • one bowl coconut yogurt
  • one piece fancy Easter bread whose name I can't remember
  • two cups Jumpy Monkey tea

Music Listened To:

  • SPEED OF DARKNESS - Flogging Molly

Other Activities:

  • ablutions
  • social media
  • dishes
  • generalized universe contemplation
  • long-ass walk
  • supper preparation and consumption
  • Instagrammery
  • Korean drama consumption

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

#warehousewatch: January and February 2017

A screenshot of Supergirl, a young, blonde white woman in a dress with a blue bodice, short red skirt, and red cape, standing in her apartment. The place is a converted warehouse with red brick walls and floor to ceiling windows made up of many smaller leaded panes and covered by gauzy white drapes.
Supergirl, like so many CW characters, lives in a converted warehouse.

I’m forever amused by how very many of the CW Network's shows feature warehouses, abandoned or otherwise, so I’ve set out to track every warehouse on every CW show I watch throughout the 2016/2017 season.

For science.

We're now nearing the end of the project, so if you missed the first two instalments I’ll direct you to the October report (which also contains more information about the genesis of #warehousewatch) and the November/early December report.

And now, without further ado, here’s a complete1 list of warehouses that appeared on the CW in late December, January, and February:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review: Truth In the Dark by Amy Lane

Cover of Truth In the Dark. Burgundy bands with the publisher's name and the book's title on them frame a picture of a dark-haired, shirtless white man lying on his side to face the viewer, a red silk blanket draped over his lower half. A man with a lion's head holds a lantern over him.
Ooh, friends, I’m so in love with Amy Lane’s work. Not only does she write fabulous stories, but she’s got a hell of a narrative range. To date, I’ve read two of her sweet contemporary romances, one dark-as-hell SF offering, and TRUTH IN THE DARK [Amazon | Scribd], a fairy tale that straddles the line between these two extremes.

Naef, a young woodworker, has been tormented all his life because of his appearance, and he’s raised a prickly set of defenses against future hurt. The only people he’ll allow close to him are his sister and his mother. When said sister hesitates to marry her true love because it would mean leaving Naef on his own, her suitor proposes a solution to settle her fears. Naef will spend a year as companion to the suitor’s cousin, freeing his sister from worry while introducing Naef to an unusual community where he can start fresh.

The cousin in question turns out to be a man cursed with the shape of an anthropomorphic lion and saddled with the improbable name Aerie-Smith. Aerie-Smith’s got an island full of subjects whose animal forms are more confining than his own, and he promises Naef a home for a year if he’ll end his stint as companion by performing one regrettable act will not only secure Naef’s family’s future but also free everyone from their curse.

The resulting story is part “Beauty and the Beast,” part “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” And I cried so damned hard.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review: Under the Rushes by Amy Lane

Cover of Under the Rushes. A white man wearing a top hat, a dark coat, and a poofy cravat glares at the reader against a sepia-toned backdrop that superimposes bricks and clockwork over a cityscape rife with smoke stacks.
Going by the cover, I expected Amy Lane’s UNDER THE RUSHES [Amazon | Scribd] to be historical fantasy. Much to my surprise and delight, it's actually science fiction set on a distant world where the colonists have lost some of their founders’ technological prowess and redeveloped what remains into a system with a vaguely steampunk aesthetic. It has a lot in common with the baroque SF I always hope to stumble across, in which science fictional elements operate within an elaborate, highly stratified society.

A lot, but not everything. Because this isn’t just far-future SF: it’s a superhero novel!

Dorjan's been in martial disgrace ever since he took a civilian’s tip to heart and tried to prevent his province from starting a pointless war. Ten years on, he spends his days carefully steering the provincial leadership in his guise as Doltish and Disinterested Forum Master and his nights protecting the capital city as the Nyx, an armoured warrior who champions the most vulnerable elements of society. He's alone in this endeavour save for his genius inventor friend, Areau, who was tortured after his own disgrace and now demands soul-crushing things from Dorjan following each mission. Just as the pressure of dealing with Areau’s addictions becomes too much for Dorjan, he finds a solution in the form of two grateful rescuees--one of whom is the very boy who first alerted him to the corruption in his government, all grown up and determined to take an active role in the Nyx's endeavours.