There has already been plenty of discussion on the advantages the internet has brought to the writer-reader relationship, but I want to repeat just ho There has already been plenty of discussion on the advantages the internet has brought to the writer-reader relationship, but I want to repeat just how awesome it is that an author can not only reach so many more readers today, but with websites and blogs an author can offer so many extras to anyone who seeks her out.
K. J. Charles has quite a few extras on her website, include this free story that, I suspect, started out life as a chapter in an earlier draft of A Seditious Affair, but had to be cut for time and narrative flow.
However, instead of leaving it on the cutting room floor, so to speak, she offers it to her readers as a fun little extra about two of her characters, explaining a little bit more about what happened in Book 2 of her Gentlemen’s Society series and giving a little intel about what’s to come in Book 3.
I recommend if you do seek it out, you only read it as I did – after having read Books 1 & 2 with the intention of moving forwards with Book 3 – this is not a stand-alone story at all....more
I feel compelled to make a statement regarding my standing on porn / erotica.
I am bored to tears by the kind where absolutely nothing happens but a f I feel compelled to make a statement regarding my standing on porn / erotica.
I am bored to tears by the kind where absolutely nothing happens but a flimsy cardboard framework to provide an excuse for endless sex to little purpose. However, give me plot, give me a dense narrative on the boil, give me solid reasons why the sexual tensions are so high, give me a real threat to overcome, give me climax and release in both senses of the words, and I'm happy.
There is a lot, A LOT, so much, tremendous amounts, of sex in this book. Explicit, spelled out in detail, passionate SEX – and almost all of it the kind that is on a lot of people's Don't Do That list, even today.
Oh, but there is so much plot. And characters and character development and diversity and world building, and solid plot arcs, and tension, and build up and worry, and I loved every minute of it– even knowing going in these characters are in 1820, and it would be more than a century before being gay wasn't illegal.
William Blake, Frankenstein, totalitarian laws, seditious acts, quite a lot of debate on the subjects of principles and conscience, the best of clothes, the worst of clothes, high crimes and low, and that's just getting started.
Imagine the typical Regency romance novel as a fine Georgian townhouse, pretty in an austere gold and white kind of way, romantic in the candlelight with some wealthy aristocrats and not-quite-so wealthy gentry sweeping about in gorgeous clothes, murmuring politely to each other about who will hook up with who, with a few discreet fumblings taking place behind a curtain or two.
In this book K. J. Charles runs through the house, flinging open doors and windows, calling out: where are the queer people, where are the people of color, where are the poor people, where are the Left-leaning people and Right-leaning people, where are the trans people, where are the historical people, where are the criminals and where are all the ordinary people just trying to get by? Where are the people? she shouts, and turns on bright electric lights, revealing a much, much larger crowd in that fine Georgian townhouse, which actually looks a bit shabby under modern forensic lights.
K. J. Charles, even more shocking then the sex scenes, suggests it's possible for two people to have opposing opinions – and respectfully discuss them. In times like these, that's the real extraordinary part. ...more
This story contains giant, chattering, friendly flying otters who just want to play and for that alone I would give this story 5 stars.
Oh, but there This story contains giant, chattering, friendly flying otters who just want to play and for that alone I would give this story 5 stars.
Oh, but there is so much more going on – and The Snow Queen is so weird to begin with that Kingfisher pretty much tells the story straight (gigglesnort – more on that in a minute) without much tweaks and still delivers up a chilling, fantastical, lyrical, amusing, scary, wonderful, inclusive tale.
Little Greta has known the boy-next-door is her True Love since forever, because, well, he’s right there, and isn’t that how the stories go? Raised on her grandmother’s old tales, she knows all about the angels, demons, household deities, pagan gods and various other non-humans who once trod the Earth, so she’s upset, but not exactly shocked, when the Snow Queen drops by one night in her flying sleigh and spirits away Greta’s love.
Greta, with almost nothing to go, heads North on her rescue mission, and runs into a wide array of folk of all degrees of magic, non-magic, good and bad, human and not, some who help her, and some who very much hinder her. Her best help is non-human, in the form of a hilarious talking raven who knows he is better than everyone else, and a terribly noble reindeer who is so self-sacrificing you might break down in tears.
Overall, her quest sticks close the original tale (except for that weird side story in the original text about the prince and princess, kept in this story as a pure fiction told by an old woman to amuse others with the explanation that a woman can’t be in a story unless you are old or a princess.)
But, laid on top of the original tale is a whole mess of emotions that Greta goes through as well as descriptions that shows Kingfisher’s appreciation for hard landscapes and various European cultures, and how awesome old women can be.
And there are a lot of those in this story. Greta runs into numerous old women who all show that a woman does not lose the ability for agency after the age of 40. Or even 80. They knit, bake, hunt, drink hard, pass on knowledge, give advice, secure transport, and even commit cannibalism. (Just the one time. Maybe.)
But all the women in the story aren’t just Greta and old women – there are some Greta’s own age as well. At first, Greta turns up her nose at the girls in her hometown, insisting, like all teenage girls, that’s she’s “different” (i.e, “better.” Oh God did I have that horrible attitude when I was 15. I could slap myself) then, along her quest, she runs into Janna, the robber’s daughter, who is disturbingly, cheerfully violent in the original tale, and here is presented a shade less violent (just a shade, she’ still all about necessary deaths), but also down to earth and practical, and gives Greta a disturbingly unfamiliar sensation when they kiss. (Yeah, there’s kissing. But again – not far off from the original text considering how the original character insisted Greta share her bed. You know, for warmth. >wink<)
Greta is on a long quest, and in the spirit of all good quests, she learns as much about herself as she does about the wider world. In this case, both expanding centers of knowledge lead her to be become quite aware there is more than on way to live in this life. She becomes so side tracked with self-realization, in fact, that there are a few points when she has to be reminded she set out to find Kay and the Snow Queen.
Ah yes, the Snow Queen. She’s is definitely not human. And yet she seems to be the embodiment of a lot of extreme negative human traits all rolled up into one Barbie doll as she coldly (no pun intended) looks down on everyone else as “less than” and has no care for the environment in pursuit of her selfish desires. Narnia’s White Witch quite deliberately made it “always winter, never Christmas” to punish the locals – here, this queen hardly even notices she’s having an effect on the local ecosystem, which is somehow worse (and oh so shamefully human).
And then there is Kay. Oh Kay. You snotty damsel in distress. What are your redeeming qualities again? *crickets chirp*
One of the major hurdles in getting people to accept mental illness as real is that, from the outside, it can be hard to tell if a person is struggling with a disease – or is just a selfish s.o.b.
Which is Kay? With his obsession with puzzles, his lack of meeting people’s gaze, and his love with things being sparse and clean, you could easily make an armchair diagnosis of being somewhere on the autism spectrum. Or, with his hot and cold attitude toward Greta, his general thoughtlessness, and his overall selfishness, he could just be an ordinary person who has never learned basic manners or how to think of others. Or maybe both. Yeah. Both is good. I’m going to say he’s got some mental challenges – but a few things could be helped with a combination of therapy, more socialization about how to interact with peers, and maybe some sterner parenting about manners.
A few times people offer Greta an out, asking her: is Kay really worth all this effort your putting in? And the answer, Greta gradually realizes is: no, he isn’t – but I am. I am worth knowing my own mind, I am worth making my own decisions, and I am worth choosing how I live my life. And if that includes an awesome takedown of a tyrant, well, that’s just gravy.
Seriously, everyone needs to read this book and see how just the tinniest of shifts casts old fairy tales in a whole new diverse and awesome light!
End note: having seen Kingfisher’s excellent treatment of The Snow Queen, I am now dreaming of what East of the Sun, West of the Moon would look like in her hands. Greta is pure as the driven snow – her biggest flaw is she could have used some time in the Girl Scouts to learn about self-esteem and how to build a camp fire. Astrid, meanwhile, is more complicated in why she goes out on her epic northern quest. She’s got some ‘toning to do, as well as some arguing with her dearest love about why he couldn’t maybe leave a note or something about that curse, but hopefully that will be a story for another day… ...more
Hinds takes the text of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and gives it a whole new outlook by pairing the text with illustrations of the characters Hinds takes the text of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and gives it a whole new outlook by pairing the text with illustrations of the characters in modern clothes, looking like they all could be walking down a New York sidewalk, done with Wall Street for the day and off to Brooklyn for a nosh.
The text has been abbreviated, so this could make for a good introduction to the story for someone first approaching it – especially in how Hinds ruthlessly exploits the modern setting to underscore the point that we still today grapple with issues of fear and anger towards the Other.
A short version of the play – but still with plenty to say about both Then and Now. ...more
I was in the mood for something light and fluffy - some escapism with all the materialistic trappings - so I picked this up.
I was disappointed that t I was in the mood for something light and fluffy - some escapism with all the materialistic trappings - so I picked this up.
I was disappointed that the main female character spent most of her time hand-wringing about how she didn’t deserve to be given anything. I also wasn’t thrilled that the main male character was such an extreme cliché of the Alpha Male that it would make silverback gorillas sit up and say: ‘damn, son, that’s an excessive amount of chest thumping.’
HOWEVER, I was extremely impressed by how this author normalized the idea of safe sex. The two characters, in between and during some steamy scenes, causally discuss birth control, condoms, and regular screening for STD’s like its No. Big. Deal.
Right on! A lot of changes in society start in the realm of fiction, and the more authors keep bringing the idea of healthy sex to the forefront, the better. ...more
Warning: some of the sex scenes are so hot (and explicit) my Kindle almost caught on fire
Take the basic premise of Pretty Woman, My Fair Lady, The Pri Warning: some of the sex scenes are so hot (and explicit) my Kindle almost caught on fire
Take the basic premise of Pretty Woman, My Fair Lady, The Princess Diaries, She’s All That, etc, do a gender swap, and watch a pretty young man be given the royal makeover and turned from low class to high class in Regency England. And, just for fun, make him about a 4.5 on the Kinsey Scale.
I was intrigued by the idea of gay Regency fiction because a) the hurdle of being expected to provide heirs and b) the illegality issues. How to get around that? Because, let’s be honest – in the Western world, it’s been really tough to be gay from about 306 AD to 1996.
I also delight in discovering new genres and subgenres because a) it’s always fun to read what’s new in the literary scene and b) I smugly enjoy having read something before it goes mainstream.
Also, given the inability for characters to enjoy traditional marriage and children, there was no way the book could follow the usual romance novel formula for HEA, and I was intrigued…
K. J. Charles knows her Regency-rea history, casually not just name dropping famous people and places, but also casually working in the then current pop culture, used as naturally by her characters as any contemporary characters would causally use iPods or eat pad thai without stopping to explain everything all the time, trusting the reader to just immerse yourself in this foppish, silly, dangerous, gorgeous, dirty, romantic, unfair world.
She just expects you to keep up, which I found refreshing. After all, anyone picking up a sub-sub-genre book set in the Regency will probably know when the Season is, what a cravat is, and have at least a passing familiarity with Brummell.
Its actually a great era, fashion-wise, to put a bunch of characters obsessing over each other’s physical appearance, considering the amount of time you can spend on tight-clothed calves alone, followed by all the time you can devote to vests and cravats before divesting of them to get to the chesticle region beneath.
As far as plot goes, we have young man Harry whose parents cared more about politics than parenting, and once they died, he was left to barely survive at the poverty level, with the added issue of being at risk for being arrested on suspicion of being as much of a radical as his parents were.
However, he’s picked up, not by the police, but by the private investigators his grandfather sent to find his long lost grandson. Turns out the father turned his back on quite a lot of inherited privilege, and since the other male heirs have just inconveniently died, the grandfather begrudgingly seeks him out, because God forbid his money go to someone with two X chromosomes! (Cousin Verona has more self-control than me – I would have dumped ipecac in his tea, considering some of his sexist comments.)
Harry, despite having quite a lot of sympathy for the class his parents raised him in, has also tasted enough true eating-from-the-trash poverty, that he is more than willing to do whatever his grandfather says in order to enjoy having a featherbed and silk stockings and not worry where his next meal is coming from.
So Harry eagerly throws himself into his aristocracy lessons as well as into the arms of his oh so sexy teacher, fellow aristocrat Julius, and everything goes very well – until it all blows up in his face when he comes face to face with the fact he’s caught between multiple worlds, and, at the end of the day, he’s going to have to decide where he wants to stand.
I LOVED this book. I loved the history side, the steamy side, the trust the author put in the reader, the very real fears and anxieties these characters feel, how much I cared about these characters, and how delightful it was to see a whole new side of the ton. ...more
This version is absolutely faithful to the text, while experimenting with a very different set of visuals.
In this version, the Montagues are from Afr This version is absolutely faithful to the text, while experimenting with a very different set of visuals.
In this version, the Montagues are from Africa and the Capulets are from India, both families now living in a Verona filled with a diverse cast hailing from all ends of the Earth, and the younger generation firmly rejecting the stuffiness of the older generation’s Elizabethan fashion.
The setting was beautiful and paired beautifully with the text, for example, at the beginning the introduction text rolls over a graveyard, reminding you right at the start this is a tragedy.
The characters themselves were drawn somewhat stilted, but high marks for the amount of research and thought that went into every single panel. ...more
When I finished this book I looked at the author blurb, saw he was professor of religious studies – and immediately understood my problem with the boo When I finished this book I looked at the author blurb, saw he was professor of religious studies – and immediately understood my problem with the book. I came at this book with the expectation of reading an American history book, while it is, in fact, a history of religions book. A good book – but not what I was looking for.
The book covers five holidays – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. His formula is to examine each holiday in three sections: pagan roots, Christian re-development, and capitalistic exploitation. The first two sections means he can spend each holiday covering thousands of years of traditions that went into the evolution of that holiday, leaving little time for what Americans have done to various holidays over the past 200 years. And that was my problem – I wanted American historical gossip, gosh darn it, and instead I got a lot of World Religions 101 stuff.
So, it’s all an interesting introduction to the background of these holidays… but I’d be interested to read more about their more recent developments in a more in-depth work. ...more
I suspect Sir Terry Pratchett was not a fan of digital currency.
I can picture him at the counter of a café, making horrible faces at the poor teenager I suspect Sir Terry Pratchett was not a fan of digital currency.
I can picture him at the counter of a café, making horrible faces at the poor teenager behind the register when she simply asks if he would like her to swipe his card or scan his phone to pay for his tea and he, shaking a fist full of coins in her face, demanding to know if damned coins of the bloody realm are still accepted anywhere anymore and his daughter having to steer him out while apologetically explaining ‘I’m so sorry, he’s a writer, he gets weird about odd details’ and him angrily shouting to the heavens as she hustles him out of the building that ‘the decline of our once mighty coinage is not an ‘odd detail’!!!’
There is a lot happening in this novel, but, among other things, this is a love letter to old British currency. Coins roll through this story, in all denominations and metals, each name lovingly spoken like a prayer: farthings, ha’pennies, sixpence, pennies, groats, shillings, crowns, guineas, sovereigns - you can feel the tangible weight, the texture, the shiny surfaces, the coatings of grime, and even taste of each coin as Dodger handles them.
And Dodger deals with a lot of coins in this book – he finds coins, steals them, earns them, spends them, saves them, gives them away – each and every coin has meaning to Dodger and each coin has a part of the plot as Dodger learns that rich or poor, most people are pretty much the same.
Written in the pastiche of 19th century pulp novels, Pratchett takes us on a tour of foggy, wet, dirty Victorian London, and all the many crazy characters who lived there of all socio-economic levels, all trying to get by, and a great many willing to step on others in order to do so.
For Dodger, despite, or perhaps, because of, his background, he looks at the world through unusually idealistic eyes – he knows the world is a tough place, but he wants to make it better, and he is willing to jump into other people’s fights to try and help someone.
One rainy night he sees a young woman being assaulted, and he jumps in to helps because it’s the decent thing to do, and things rather snowball from there, as the young woman, ironically given the codename “Simplicity,” leads Dodger to a tangled association of people, from low level minions to kings and prime ministers.
There are a lot of shout outs and cameos to and of various peoples of the 19th century, including, but not limited to: Ida Lovelace, Karl Marx, Queen Victoria, and Benjamin Disraeli, as well as other less well known historical figures and a great many ‘ordinary’ people based on the writings of Dickens and his contemporaries.
Charles Dickens is a main character, but, despite his prominent placement and that we see him jotting down ideas along the way that will later form his works, this book is written more in the style of Horatio Alger than Charles Dickens. This is a story about plucky, lucky, upward mobility.
Somewhere in between fanfiction, historical fiction and gaslamp fantasy is this story, which is very appropriate, considering how the main character dodges about and refuses to stay under any one label. I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through Victorian London, and stayed up far too late to find out if Dodger could successfully dodge all the danger that came his way! ...more
If my educational experience with the War of 1812 was at all typical, then I can say when American teachers cover that time period, then focus on the If my educational experience with the War of 1812 was at all typical, then I can say when American teachers cover that time period, then focus on the awful unlawfulness of press-ganging at the beginning and the awesome ironicness of the Battle of New Orleans at the end, and just kind of slur over the burning of D.C. in the middle.
After reading this, I have to say, I can see why – America really dropped the ball on that one. The British did everything right when it comes to attacking a city – but the Americans didn’t help by doing everything wrong, more or less throwing down the welcome mat and practically handing out the torches.
Sutcliffe covers the invasion and burning of Washington D.C. in detail. She places events in context of the larger geo-political historical picture, as well as using the letters, memoirs and diaries of eye witnesses of all socio-economic levels and both sides to give a great on-the-ground pictures of events as they happened over a highly eventful 24 hour period.
Excellent history book, geared for younger readers, but full of quite a lot of information that any reader would enjoy and find fascinating. ...more