My Creations

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A beautiful, validating read

Walking on WaterWalking on Water by Matthew J. Metzger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up an ARC of Walking on Water. I asked to review it because I love merfolk stories as long as they are not Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and have been hungry for own voices fantasy featuring trans and non-binary characters.

I admit, I was skeptical of the first two chapters because the book was set in the past, in societies that were even more binary than the modern world, especially for princes like the two mc’s.

It’s too easy, when writing women in a misogynistic society, to make women want to be men simply because a society treats them like crap. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case in Walking on Water.

Yes, Calla was oppressed by her controlling father and foiled by her girly sisters. She didn’t fit with other mermaids or accept the role women were supposed to play in her society, but it wasn’t until she found herself in the body of a human male that she fully realized she wasn’t a she, but a he. That moment was raw, beautiful and true. It was uplifting and validating to read about someone discovering their gender as an adult.

From that moment forward, I could not put the book the down. The tension was beautiful, and so was the depiction of two people communicating without words better than many people communicate with them. I kept hoping for a happy ending, and with every twist and turn, I wondered how the characters were going to overcome the obstacles that stood in front of them. As soon as I thought I knew how it would happen, something would change to make me second guess where the story was going. I suspected - hoped - it would have a happy ending. I just didn’t know how the heck the characters were going to get there. I won’t say anything else about the end, other than that it worked.

The prose were as gorgeous as the story, and the voices of the different narrators were so distinct that I never second guessed whose POV I was reading. Each narrator saw the world a little differently because in some ways, they were each from different worlds, and the author stayed consistent with this throughout. It included some stunning nautical imagery. Of course, I won’t deny my bias towards that. The ocean is in my blood. If merpeople and past lives exist, I was probable in a merman in one of my lives…

If you are looking for a good fantasy, a beach read, a romance, a just good rep of a trans character, and/or just something good to read, then you will enjoy this book.


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Sunday, October 29, 2017

NaNoWriMo Prep




I've been doing some prep for National Novel Writing Month, and wanted to share my mood boards and blurb.


Dianny doesn't want to take over Mom's business dealing in sex and drugs, or wind up like one of the beings Mom employs. However, with ADHD, anxiety, sensitivity to Oomph, and a gender identity their peers don't understand, Dianny isn't doing so well at avoiding that path. Dianny isn't sure if they are relieved or terrified when they find Mom's club shut down and swarming with federal agents, but they don't dare disobey the task given to them by one of Mom's girls: find their father, who is in a prison half way across the galaxy, and give him the Oomph enhanced artifact that the authorities are after. 



Below is a picture of what I kind of envision the cover looking like...except my version is way less professional than any cover designer a reputable publisher would  hire. It's just a visual to keep me motivated. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Review of Ardulum: Second Don by J.S. Fields

Ardulum: Second DonArdulum: Second Don by J.S. Fields
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second book was just as good as the first, and I am very thankful I was able to get a free digital ARC.

The characters were constantly growing and being pushed to evolve. They were all flawed in ways that made me want to root for them. The obstacles thrown at them were believable enough to accept but big enough to pose a significant challenged.

The romance subplot is is picking up a bit, though it is still going at an incredibly slow, frustrating pace. This really puts the slow in slow burn. However, the romance really is a subplot, and there is so much more to this book.

The main plot was faster than the romance. I was reading on my kindle. One minute I was at 54%. The next time I looked at my progress, I was 77%, 95% and then I was done. It flew by, and I really wish book 3 was already out. The little teaser at the end of this made me want to read it now!

I may have already said this in the first review, but I loved how different pronouns were used for different species who had members that were neither male nor female, but while the idea of a true third gender was awesome, it wasn’t with the humans.

I have no complaints about this book. I had been reading more fantasy than science fiction, but the authors and editors at NineStar press, with books like the Ardulum series, Dalí, and Trans Liberty Riot Brigade, are reminding me how powerful science fiction can be when it involves complex characters and issues.

Ardulum was entertaining. It kept me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what was going to happen next, and got me through a bad day, but it also made me think. It made me think about gender and sexuality, about human rights, religion, faith, diversity and where technology and advancement can build society up and break it down. Second Don was a little darker than First Don, but it wasn’t bleak and hopeless. Yes, it exposed some nasty flaws, but also offered hope that they might begin to heal in Third Don.

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.


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Monday, October 2, 2017

Book Review: Ardulum

Ardulum: First DonArdulum: First Don by J.S. Fields
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I originally picked this book up because I wanted to study how the author used gender-neutral pronouns. Once I sunk my teeth it, I was so engrossed in the plot that I kept forgetting to pay attention to pronouns. NineStar Press’ editor really have a knack for acquiring good science fiction, as this is the second space opera series that’s really impressed me.

At first, the plot of Ardulum reminded me of Firefly: a ragged crew doing semi-legal transport on an antique ship picks up a stasis chamber that happens to have a strange girl in it. Thankfully, the characters, world, and other aspects of the plot were complex, deep, and unique.

I loved the flawed characters, the pacing, the description, worldbuilding, and the speculative science behind the spaceships. The presence of advanced 3-D printing grounded the world and made it seem like a future that was truly plausible.

My one complaint was that all of the gender neutral pronouns were for alien characters whose race was either somehow gender neutral or had a third gender and I had been hoping to see them used with a non-binary human. Still, that was a minor thing and didn’t stop me from enjoying everything else about this.

One nice touch worth mentioning was that the future Ardulum is set in is optimistic. With all the tragedy and political BS happening right now, I needed to read something that showed a hopeful future.

If you are a fan of space opera, science fiction, or just speculative fiction in general, this is a must read for you!


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Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review: Phaethon

PhaethonPhaethon by Rachel Sharp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


From Holly Black to Jim Butcher, I read a lot of books that involve Faeries of one kind or another. Still, this one felt fresh. It had the folklore grounding of a Holly Black novel, but a tone and humor more likely to appeal to Butcher fan’s.

The characters were cute and believable - people I could picture myself being friends with.

The plot was fast paced, and for the most part, I was able to suspend my disbelief and enjoy the ride.

As far as flaws go, sometimes things seemed a little too easy. I laughed a little when one of the characters said humans were fixing Earth, but reminded myself that the political climate may have been more...optimistic...when this book began.

The rest of the story was fun and well thought out, so I can forgive those flaws.

If you like a good blend of science and fantasy, then you will enjoy Phaethon.


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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Review of Wings Unseen

Wings UnseenWings Unseen by Rebecca Gomez Farrell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recieved an early copy from NetGalley for a fair, honest, review.

Wings Unseen got off to a slow start with a first chapter that almost made me put the book down. However, I am glad I kept reading. I loved watching how a character that repulsed me on the first page transformed into someone I was rooting for, and she was just one of many fascinating characters.

Characters were one of many things I liked about this book.

The juxtaposition of two opposite realms was a fascinating way to explore gender roles, the relationship between the people and the government, and what people can come to accept as normal.

The world was exquisitely developed and describe with language that was beautiful and readable.

Once I got past the first quarter of the book, the pace picked up and suspense made me want to keep reading. The romance subplot was not what I expected, and near the middle of the book, when combined with the pacing the way the writer alternated between pov’s, made me want to cry, yell, or throw the book across the room.

Even though I wanted the characters to take different paths, but the end, the author convinced me they had made the right choice, and the emotions I experienced mid book were probably just a smidgen of what the characters would feel were this real.

Overall, it was worth read, and I would reccomend it to anyone who likes epic fantasy and has patience for a book that burns slowly.






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Friday, August 11, 2017

A Review of Fortitude Smashed

Fortitude SmashedFortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimers: I got a free copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I don’t usually read romance.

I generally won’t pick up a book if I know it is just romance, but the speculative element of Fortitude Smashed, the Camilla Clock, got me curious. The opening was perfect -- it had interesting characters, plenty of tension, and just enough world building to show this world was like the real with one slight difference -- the clock that timed out when people met their soulmates.

The characters were complex and fluid. The prose were gorgeous. In fact, the description was so well done that it almost made me want to go to Laguna Beach, even though the southern parts of california are on my list places to avoid (its a pretty long list).

My favorite parts of the book were the ones with the most tension -- when Aiden and Shannon’s past selves collided. However, I did feel like there weren’t enough of these, like it was too easy for Aiden to stop being a thief. Sometimes I got a little bored with all the kissing and biting, and would’ve rather seen a little more cop work and stealing (or trying not to steal).

The other area the writing shined was in the parts of the book showcasing friendships. They were real, raw, and emotional.

If you like romance, literary, and/or science fiction, then I recommend reading this. It’s lyrical and successfully crosses two genres. I’m glad I read it.


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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

INSECURE WRITERS SUPPORT GROUP (IWSG) MONTHLY POST: WRITING PET PEEVES

What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

Sound.

I can’t deal with certain noises when I am trying to focus on written words, whether I am reading them, writing them, or editing them. I need to be fully immersed in the story, and when I hear people talking or music playing, I just can’t focus. It pulls me right out of the story. Reality slaps me in the face.

Some writers go to café’s to write. I can’t unless the place is empty and there are no people talking in it. I can maybe think of one time I wrote in a café.

Other’s put music on while they write. Now, if I am driving or running, music can help me think of a story, but as a soon as I actually sit down the write it, the music goes off.

The worst, though, is when I am fully immersed in a story and then someone walks in to the room and asks me a question. My brain just shuts down completely. I forget what I am writing, and have not clue what the person said. We both get frustrated. That person thinks I am ignoring them. I am mad that I lost my immersion in the story.

The conversation never turns out to be a pleasant one.

I have other pet peeves, but they have more to do with the stories themselves. I can’t stand it when dogs and cats die in books. I drive myself nuts when I catch my self switching tense five times one page. I hate it when I find myself aimlessly wandering I and stories world without any direction.

Still, even though these things annoy me, none are as bad as someone asking me if I fed the cat when I am in the middle of an epic battle, or worse, a love scene.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

There are less than two weeks left to pre-order Earth Reclaimed. This book is one I am writing about topics I am passionate about -- earth, nature, magic and the idea of being non-binary / genderqueer. Earth Reclaimed is an #ownvoices novel that expresses my love for nature and my gender identity! Please help me make it a reality by pre-ordering it!

Monday, July 24, 2017

How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin' DaysHow I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin' Days by Megan O'Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you enjoyed Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon, you will probably enjoy How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin' Days as they both feature a snarky, sort of whiny, self aware narrator who wants to be like Deadpool but isn’t quite as cool.

At the beginning, I was not a fan of this book, or Bryant, its narrator/main character. My first impression was that he was a racist dick because made a comment about “old black ladies” watching out for him. That opening chapter really made me think the book drew unnecessary attention to race, and made me want to punch Bryant in the face.

But Bryant grew on me. He made me laugh. I loved the idea of the magic cell phone, and the world was well built. That first chapter was really the only one that had a racist vibe. There were some lines that were a bit too corny, even for this character, but in the end, the plot and the world drew me in. Bryant did grow and change throughout book, and he learned something in the end, which is more than I can say for the leads in Valerian.

Speaking of the end, it wrapped up the main storyline, but left plenty room for a sequel, which I would probably read. However, I never read the second book in the Chronicles of Nick, so maybe I will be content to leave Bryant with one book. Books, like all arts, are subjective, and Bryant’s voice just wasn’t one I connected with. That doesn’t mean it was bad -- just not my cup of tea.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Review: The Dying Game

The Dying GameThe Dying Game by Asa Åvdic
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This one is going to be hard to review without spoilers, but I’ll do the best I can.

I received an ARC of The Dying Game through the First to Read program. I initially chose it because I thought it might eventually be a good comp for one of my novels. It was thriller set in the near future and it had a female protagonist trying to get over something bad. That part of the concept seemed neat. The whole set up with people disappearing from a secluded house filled with secret passages was cliche.

Overall, the book wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. I get part of the thriller genre is to keep people guessing, but some of the details the author choose to leave out were downright distracting. For example, I never quite figured out the main character actually did at her job. I was constantly thinking about this instead of the story, and as a result, found myself constantly getting pulled out of the story. While the author skimped on details that seemed important, there were large swaths of back story that was just told, and more info dumps than I could count.

I kept thinking that all this was going to be relevant when I got to the end. Some of it was -- but the end would have been far more surprising had the backstory been woven through in a more subtle way. Because of the info dumps and long, told, segments of flashbacks, the end was pretty much exactly what I was expecting, though, I admit, there were a few times in the middle where I thought I was wrong, and found myself hoping in vain for a more optimistic ending.

I also felt most of the characters were unnessarily sexist and binary. After reading two books with intersex and genderfluid leads, this felt like a slap in the face. I can see a female writer making the men seem a bit misogynistic to make a point, but there could have been at least one female character who wasn’t a stereotype of one kind or another…

Despite the many flaws of the The Dying Game, I did keep reading until the end, even though I considered giving up a couple times. The prose were pretty -- there was good literary scenary that made it a little less painful. I also wanted to know if I was right about where the plot was going, and really hate to leave a novel unfinished (House of Leaves is still siting on my book case, mocking me. It doesn’t need a friend.) So I kept reading, and got to the ending I really wished I had been wrong about.

I my head, this book is 2.5 stars, but Goodreads and Amazon don’t give that option, so I’m rounding up when I review on those sites.


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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cracked Flash Fiction Competition: Cracked Flash Y2W47: Results!

Cracked Flash Fiction Competition: Cracked Flash Y2W47: Results!: I had so much fun reading this week’s entries. I enjoyed the different takes on the prompt and had a hard time figuring out who the winners...

Monday, July 17, 2017

DalíDalí by E.M. Hamill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I received a free, electronic copy of Dalí from NineStar Press in exchange for an honest review.

I admit, I haven’t read much space opera, if any, since Karen Traviss stopped writing for the Star Wars franchise. I stuck to fantasy, and to science fiction that did not involve space travel because nothing quite compared to the Star Wars universe and the 40+ books I had read in it.

Dalí restored my faith in that particular sub-genre. The world building was exquisite, and done so smoothly that it did not distract from character development and plot. There was just enough description to help me picture the world, but it was concise and didn’t slow the story down. But most importantly, the characters were alive, diverse, fluid, and complex.

I am envious of Dalí’s ability to change gender to suit the their mood or the situation but remain neutral when they is just being theirself. I have a soft spot for characters that do not conform to the binary gender, and for characters that bounce back from trauma.

All that I mentioned above combined with the fascinating galaxy and the well woven Princess Bride references made this book a definite five stars.

There is so much more explore with this galaxy and its characters. I really hope this becomes a series!


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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Trans Liberty Riot Brigade (Brigade, #1)Trans Liberty Riot Brigade by L.M. Pierce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The title and cover of “Trans Liberty Riot Brigade” told me the book was going to be something special. The teaser on the back was further evidence supporting that theory. The novel did not disappoint. Once I started reading, I had to finish in one sitting.

At first, the slang made it hard for to engage with the character. I had to stop and figure out what some of the words meant. They were familiar enough, that between context, and remembering how my friends from high school used to talk, I could figure them out. They were foreign enough to feel like they were part of a true future. Once I got through the first few chapters and learned their rhythm, I flew through the book.

The truth that potential future holds is the most terrifying part of the book. The dark, gritty, dystopian landscape portrayed seems all to possible in today’s political climate. There was just enough truth to make it seem plausible.

The world building was good - but the main character was amazing. I always find myself complaining that the characters in some of my favorite books are too binary, but this one featured two who truly transcended the binary idea gender.

I can forgive the occasional moments of preachy-ness, and the work I had to do to learn the language of the book. The plot kept me on the edge of my seat. I could really engage with the characters, and I believed the world.

If I had to compare it other books, I say it’s a mix of Christina Henry’s Alice, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, and George Orwell’s 1984.

Read it!

Note: I received a free ARC of this in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

I'm starting a new adventure in the publishing world and have launched a pre-order campaign on Publishizer.

This sites gives readers and writers more control over the books. If writers choose to self-publish, they can use the funds raised from pre-orders to pay for editing, marketing and design so they can successfully launch their book. However, writers can also get offers from traditional publishers if enough readers express interest. 

I'm trying it for a YA science fantasy novel called Earth Reclaimed, where 17-year-old Serena, reluctant magician, must convince people to live in harmony with the Earth. 

 Pre-order on:


https://publishizer.com/earth-reclaimed/

And be sure to check out the bonuses! They include signed copies, seaglass jewelry, and feedback on your writing!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire: The Saturday Slash

Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire: The Saturday Slash: Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description  RC Lewis  and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself,...