Book review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very sweet YA romance set during the summer before college. The characters are compelling, and likeable, but still flawed in specific ways that feel real. Themes of family pressures, figuring out who you are, who you want to be, and what you want as a result of those decisions, as I would expect from a YA set during the summer before college.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and I especially liked having different narrators for the 2 POVs in the book (that of Dimple and that of Rishi).

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Book review: Extreme Honor by Piper J. Drake

Extreme Honor (True Heroes, #1)Extreme Honor by Piper J. Drake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While military romances are not typically my thing, this one does a great job of balancing the military stuff with the story in a way that is accessible and understandable to someone who doesn’t have a lot of military folks in their lives.

David Cruz and Evelyn Jones are both dog handlers (he’s ex-military, she’s a private contractor) tasked with rehabilitating Atlas, a military dog who lost his handler through “friendly fire.” (Those quotes are there for plot relevant reasons.) While they have different goals at first, they learn to trust one another through working together with Atlas, since they are both people who generally prefer dogs to other humans.

One of the things I particularly liked about this is the careful way that it handles PTSD for several characters–including Atlas the dog– without becoming a Problem Novel Romance (TM). I’m always here for romances that acknowledge that people can be complicated and difficult, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve love.

Strong, page turning action, and a great discussion of the challenges of moving between military and civilian life.

Also, Atlas is the :best: dog.

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Verity Ep 158 – Competent Women

New Verity!

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It’s time to wrap up our first mini-arc of 2018! Join Deb, Erika, Liz, and Liz as we talk about the history of competent women in Doctor Who. We discuss some favorites, some common threads, and have a jolly good time doing it!

There’s no way we could cover them all, so let us know who you think of when you think of competent women in our favorite show–the comments are open!

^E

Also covered:

Download or listen now (runtime 1:26:26) 

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Book review: Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

Strange Practice (Dr. Greta Helsing, #1)Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a lovely, snarkily-toned romp wherein a descendent of Van Helsing, Greta Helsing, is a doctor who treats the monstrous (vampires, vampyres, ghouls, demons, etc.) residents of London.
A religious cult begins a serial-killer spree of killing Greta’s patients, and she and dear family friends and colleagues work together to put a stop to it.

If you love references to Old Timey Monsters (yes, there is a difference between a vampire and a vampyre in this universe, quite a few, actually), and groups of people who become found family because of shared adventures and affection, and a narratorial voice that is wry enough to make you laugh out loud occasionally, this is a novel for you.

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Book review: Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

Amberlough (The Amberlough Dossier, #1)Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Setting: fantastical version of Weimar (pre-WWII) Germany, roughly. Amberlough is a Big City in Gedda, full of Big City Dwellers who love their city life. There is beauty, art, and political struggles. There is graft, there is solidarity, there is a major spy agency.

Cyril DePaul is a spy for the agency, whose last mission went really sideways. So now it’s desk duty, mostly. He’s sleeping with his current target, burlesque performer/smuggler Aristide Makricosta, but they are :really: good at compartmentalizing. Which works well until DePaul’s next assignment, which involves working to infiltrate the Ospies, a “nation first” political party that is trying to unify Gedda into some sort of magical place where people who don’t fit their traditional notions of life … disappear. Aristide convinces his coworker at the Bee (the Burlesque club), Cordelia, to serve as a visible companion to Cyril, bolstering his case as an Ospie convert.

That’s when things get interesting.

This is a pretty good queer spy thriller. Cyril and Aristide plot and counter-plot, trying to save each other and, incidentally themselves, with … varying results. Cordelia is also a survivor, and she makes her own choices, which intersect with Cyril and Aristide’s plans in interesting ways.

Because plans don’t always work. Yet the way that these multiple different attempts to solve the problem at hand–and guarantee the survival of the folks in the middle of it– intersect in ways that make perfect, believable, messy human sense.

It’s an even better meditation on constructed selves, and the things that we do and the choices that we make to survive. At what point does our need for survival overrule our need for community? Is it worth surviving individually when your community doesn’t? When does the constructed version of ourselves become the “real” us? Can we go back to the people that we once were? Would we WANT to? What is the value of art and performance? Can art be an act of resistance? Is art political?

These are all important questions, and Amberlough gives us its own answers, wrapped in a tale of desperation, affection, defiance, and love among some truly spectacular, well crafted characters.

I loved this novel, and I can’t wait to read book 2, to see what happened to Cyril, Aristide, and Cordelia.

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Extra! – Chicago TARDIS Feminism Panel

Extra! Featuring a feminism panel I did at Chicago TARDIS!

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Schedule confusion means this week you get a pre-banked emergency Extra! Join Lynne, on stage at Chicago TARDIS, leading a panel of guests as they discuss feminism and Doctor Who!

^E

Download or listen now (runtime 51:34) 

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Ep 156 – The Public Enemy of the World

New Verity!

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Our mini-arc on competent women continues with Astrid Ferrier. Join Deb, Erika, Lynne, and Tansy as we dip into the rollicking intrigue-filled delight that is “The Enemy of the World”. Honourable mention to Fariah for also being fab.

What do you think of these ladies? Let us know in the comments!

^E

Also covered:

Download or listen now (runtime 1:28:53) 

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Ep 155 – Dark Waters of Mars

New Verity!

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The first mini-arc of our Year of Women focuses on competent women, and Adelaide Brooke totally fits the bill! Join Deb, Katrina, and Lynne as they talk about Adelaide, her personality, her mission, her decisions, and much more. They also discover a possible tag-line for this year of podcasting: “It’s a whole different story when you change the POV.” Boy howdy.

What do you think about Ms. Brooke? Let us know in the comments!

^E

Also covered:

Bonus…

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Book review: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the great things about my occasional long travel days is the ability to read an entire novel that I had been meaning to get to FOREVER and finally had time and space to read on a trip for work.

Post-apocalyptic (in the sense of water scarcity and breakdown of society) near future SF set in the 2020s with a political structure that seems rather prescient when reading it this year. Parable of the Sower is one of those books that, upon first reading, seems “simple” in terms of prose style, plot, and storytelling choices. It is NOT simple–it is rendered deeply, fundamentally understandable to the reader and the characters experiencing it through great skill.

Right up until you finish it, and the different pieces fall into place, and what you have consumed is a deep meditation on the power — and necessity — of community for survival. Because community is what makes survival worthwhile. And Lauren’s journey from her first understanding of community (of origin) to her understanding of community (of choice) by the end of the novel is one that happens subtly, but to great effect, both for her and the reader.

Outstanding novel, and I’m kicking myself for not having read it before now.

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Extra! – Love & Monstrous Commentary

New VERITY! In which Deb gets Erika to do a whiskey fueled commentary…

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Ok so the commentary itself isn’t monstrous. Nor is the episode. The amount of whiskey consumed while commentating…? Join Deb and Erika as they do a live-from-Deb’s-couch, in-person commentary! (recorded in November, 2017, during Erika’s epic US vacation-adventure)

^E

Download or listen now (runtime 59:26) 

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