Book review: The Opposite of Drowning by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese

The Opposite of DrowningThe Opposite of Drowning by Erin McRae

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Harry is a mid-career editor and minor travel writer. Elizabeth is a digital strategy consultant brought in to update the publishing firm’s marketing.

This is a May-December workplace romance set in the publishing industry. This is a great example of how NOT to do a squick-worthy version of these tropes.

Harry and Eliza are fully-rounded, understandable characters that are struggling to feel like they individually fit in their own worlds, just as they realize that they fit :together: despite all the outward indicators telling them that they really shouldn’t.

Harry and Eliza are both complicated, intelligent adults with support systems who have been through some challenging things, at different stages of their lives. Although Harry in particular makes a couple of bad choices, they are completely UNDERSTANDABLE choices, not a function of him needing to make bad choices for plot purposes. This is the opposite of Bad Life Choices theater, with an underlying theme/extended metaphor about the drowned city of Ys. Including a fantastic scene (NOT about harassment) with the publishing company’s HR department that holds all of the tension it needs to and gets it right.

This is a book about two adults making a series of understandable good and bad choices, and realizing that the best choices lead to their collective happiness. And this is a book that drives home that being complicated, and having a history, does not mean you are not worthy of love. The histories that make Harry and Eliza who they are is also what makes them such a good match for each other.

Thoroughly enjoyable because I loved the characters, I loved how they interact with each other, and I love how their different, nuanced perspectives and life experiences worked to complement each other and strengthen their collective relationship.

(Also, there’s a fair amount of wandering around Paris, which I personally view as a bonus.)

McRae and Maltese are on my auto-buy list, because they always have well-rounded characters, excellent interactions, and enjoyable thematic elements that actually do tie in to the story.

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Book review: Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett

Miranda in MilanMiranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are the kind of person who read The Tempest and thought “Prospero is kind of a dick,” this is a book for you. It is Miranda’s story after she gets off the island, and it is DELIGHTFUL.

This is the story of how Miranda comes into her own, finds (queer) love, and becomes free.

Miranda in Milan is a story of surviving abuse and refusing to pass it along to others. It’s a story of ghosts in your own life, and learning to live with them–and love them. It’s about understanding that family has many meanings, and how we treat one another is definitely part of defining those meanings. It’s about making choices, and living with them, and making amends where you can. It’s about exposing family secrets so that healing can begin, and accepting the things that you cannot leave behind, so that you can move forward into the person you are now.

It’s about secret passages, magic, masquerade balls, and smooching, too.

Beautifully written, emotionally honest, and delightful.

And it’s not all about Prospero, because he’s kind of a dick.

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Book review: A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan, #1)A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fantastic slow burn of a first novel. I’m a fan of Arkady’s short fiction, and the hallmarks of well-crafted language, intricate, intimate worldbuilding, and smart, expressive characters are all here, too.

It is space opera, but it is also a murder mystery and diplomatic novel, while simultaneously commenting on memory and knowledge and how it’s passed along, and selfhood, self-determination, and problem solving. What’s also here is the softest of sweet lesbian romance subplots, which grows so gradually and organically that you feel like it’s a warm hug. Wrapped inside a twisty, turny political thriller in space. I’m seeing comparisons to Ann Leckie’s work, and that holds true, and it reminded me not a little bit of Babylon 5, too.

Mahit is a brand new ambassador, summoned abruptly from her space station to serve after the murder of her predecessor. Which she must solve. With very little help since no one will admit there’s a murder. There’s a civil war brewing, an aging emperor, and possibly something further out coming for both Mahit’s space station and the Teixcalaan homeworld (and everything else). Mahit needs answers, allies, and resources, and she begins the novel with none of the above.

It lives up to every ambition it sets itself. This novel is very much worth your time and energy.

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Book review: Witchmark, by C.L. Polk

Witchmark (The Kingston Cycle, #1)Witchmark by C.L. Polk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read this one relatively slowly because I wanted to savor it. This is going to be discussed as “gaslight fantasy” because it’s secondary-world with a vague post WWI-ish(?) setting, including bicycles as a main means of transportation and a bicycle chase sequence that is far more gripping than one would expect it to be.

It’s got a murder-mysteryesque plot tied to some deeply reflexive contemplation on power (both magical and political), privilege, who wields it, how they do so, whom is victimized in that process, and how these things intersect in unexpected ways, particularly in relation to war and its aftermath. There’s a deeply satisfying sweet gay romance that bubbles alongside the murder mystery plot.

This was a warm hug of a book for me. Strongly recommended.

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Ep 179 – Arachnids in the UK Time Zone

New Verity! In which I am terrified of spiders.

Arachnophobes beware! This ep was full of creepy-crawlies. Join Deb, Erika, Lizbeth, and  Lynne as we talk about our reactions to spiders, companion balance, visions of dead wives, and more.

How did this one land for you? Let us know in the comments!


Happy things:

Children of Time and Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Support Verity! on Patreon!

Download or listen now (runtime 1:25:26) 

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Ep 177 – The Ghost Monument Valley Girls

New Verity!

The second episode of a new Doctor is, in some ways, more meaty and discussable than the first! Join Erika, Lynne, and Tansy as we mourn for Deb’s leaky basement and dig deep into all kinds of important aspects of this new era of Doctor Who.

What do you think of the opening credits, music, Doctor, companions, writing, TARDIS, and anything else so far? Let us know in the comments!


Happy things:

Riley Silverman (one of the fab writers of the Honest Trailers!)
Radio Free Skaro (a source for stats!)
Support Verity! on Patreon!

Download or listen now (runtime 1:32:09) 

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Ep 176 – The Women Who Fell to Earth

:klaxons: IT IS TIME

IT’S FINALLY HERE! NEW DOCTOR WHO! Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, and Lynne as we gush over the new Doctor and pick apart this first episode. We’re quite pleased overall, but as always, there are some serious issues worth discussing, and discuss them we do!

How are you feeling about the new Doctor, the new “fam”, the new showrunner, the questionable narrative choice(s), the secret pigeon, the term “comfrienion”, and everything else? Let us know in the comments!


Happy Things:

Chicks Dig Time Lords

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Book review: The Unlikely Lady, by Valerie Bowman

The Unlikely Lady (Playful Brides, #3)The Unlikely Lady by Valerie Bowman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lovely fluffy romance I got as an audiobook from my public library. Jane is a bluestocking. Garrett is supposedly a man-about-town.

They hate each other. They snipe. They banter. They fall in love.

Yes, it’s got Much Ado About Nothing as a theme, along with Mary Wollestonecraft. :gold star:

There is Another Lady who Causes Trouble, and Dear Friends who try to Sort It Out with all manner of Shenanigans.

Plus dogs and libraries.

Thoroughly enjoyable in part because of the reader, who was an absolute DELIGHT.

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Book review: Heroine’s Journey by Sarah Kuhn

Heroine's Journey (Heroine Complex, #3)Heroine’s Journey by Sarah Kuhn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Read this on the plane ride back from WorldCon.

I love, love, LOVE this series. It is the cognitive equivalent of a warm hug, a blanket, a kitty, and the best pajama pants I own. It’s an auto-buy for me, and I’m very, very pleased to hear that another 3 books are in the works.

If you love good food, found family and best friends, superheroes trying to fix shit, and a collection of possessed unicorn figurines, this is yet another book for you.

This is Bea’s book. Bea is younger than Evie and Aveda, and she is struggling with trying to figure out what being a grownup means for :her: especially in the context of Evie’s struggle to give Bea as many opportunities as possible… whether Bea wants them or not. Meanwhile, she is trying to cope with a serious infatuation, the return of her dad, and the manifestation of some superpowers that she wasn’t quite expecting.

Scenes set in a bookstore that looks suspiciously like The Ripped Bodice. Not that I’m complaining.

This is, thematically, a book about choosing hope, even when everything else feels like that’s the wrong choice.

Which was exactly the book I needed. :chef’s kiss:

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Rare Books in NON-ARL Libraries: THE SURVEY


Do you work with rare books at a library that is NOT a member of the Association for Research Libraries? Please consider completing this survey about your experiences!

CONTEXT: Remember that Crowdsourced List of libraries that work with rare books that are not members of the Association of Research Libraries? It’s time to turn that list into action! If you added your library to the list, please consider completing the survey. Get counted!

Thank you.


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