Thursday, September 27, 2012

Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found by Sophie Blackall

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Once a week I make sure I leave my windowless cell in Brooklyn and go into Manhattan, either to see an editor or buy feathers, or to look at the stupendous armor at the Met or at tattoo catalogs on the Lower East Side. One day I squeezed into a subway car with a bushel of peacock feathers and a pound of sea scallops, and a handsome chap stepped in next to me. We apologized in rounds, and when he stepped off he appeared in the window and mouthed two words. I turned to the girl next to me.

What did he say?” I asked.

Missed Connections,” she said.

I often refer to New York City as my first and truest lover, and I’m not really kidding. It’s a city that inspires grand passions in its people. And missed connections? Everyone I know has posted one or two—goodness knows I have. (Once for a beautiful person in a great hat at an Italian espresso bar, another for the owner of the most precious Boston Terrier named after a cookie.)

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Sophie Blackall has a simple enough premise—she hops on Craigslist, picks an entry that inspires her, and illustrates it. But, oh, does she evoke the beauty and melancholy that is the missed connection, that tiny moment where anything, everything is possible with another. Her watercolor universe is one of stolen glances, rabbit people, fireworks, tiny hats, umbrellas, the tiny bits that bring each story to life, for:

It’s nice to know people are paying attention to one another, noticing tiny details…The enormous amount of tenderness in these messages makes me all swoony about my fellow human beings.

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It’s such a delightful book, a peek at a world so much like our own, but with mustaches that grow like wild vines, swan bikes, strange butterflies, and hope, so much hope for possibilities:

We only have one life, and we rush through it. We make choices and follow paths and we don’t linger too long at the crossroads. Moments of intimacy with strangers are minor detours we rarely explore, but those moments make us feel alive, and human, and part of something greater than ourselves.

They connect us to each other.

Missed Connections by Sophie Blackall: Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Powell’s, Indiebound

The Original Missed Connections blog

Sophie Blackall’s website

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire - Discount Armageddon

It wasn’t the October Daye novels that got me into McGuire’s ouevre.

Nor was it the Newsflesh books, written by her evil twin Mira Grant.

Nope. It was her list of 100 Surreal Things that Happened in My Life, which popped up on Livejournal all the way back in 2003.

The same sense of whimsy and the absurd (with a healthy appreciation for dangerous physical feats and bizarre creatures) permeates the InCryptid series.

Verity Price, your workaday ballroom dancing, freerunning daughter of the Price clan (a family that went rogue when the Convenant of St. George got awfully transparent about cleansing the world of cryptids—supernatural creatures) is concerned about her disappearing coworkers and agitated neighbors. When a Covenant boy comes knocking around, ready to stab anything that looks at him funny, Verity’s got her hands full keeping him out of her beloved city’s cryptid population, finding out what’s got them all agog---and what’s this about a dragon sleeping under the island of Manhattan?

There’s a lot to like about the first InCryptid novel—I’m a ballroom and parkour enthusiast who devoured Alan Zullo’s books as a kid, and loves NYC more than is possibly healthy, so these were basically written for me.  I love all the little details, like how Verity sublets her apartment from a yeti with an unhealthy collection of Precious Moments figurines, and her Medusa friend keeps her snakes under a beehive wig, and that she figured out how to keep a full arsenal under a tango competition costume (have you seen Strictly Ballroom? That is a feat, my readers).  If some of the elements don’t come together so well, and if a few scenes are a little forced, the Incryptid universe keeps you so engaged you won’t mind so much. I can’t wait for the next installment in the Incryptid universe—so many more buildings to scale, tangos to dance, and creatures to save. :D

Discount Armageddon: An Incryptid Novel by Seanan McGuire:

Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, Powell’s

Seanan McGuire’s Website

The Cryptids of North America: A Price Family Field Guide

Short stories set in the Incryptid Universe

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What’s On My (Kindle) Cloud

Hello readers!

Here’s a confession: I did it.

I gave in to the ebook craze.

It all started when a certain hardcover was just breaking my heart, because I couldn’t reconcile the price with my budget. Okay, I thought, just this one…

Well, readers, next thing I knew, a dozen fresh, shiny novels were staring back at me.

I don’t have an ereader, yet. (I’m thinking of just getting an Ipod Touch, cause I’d rather have my media all in one place.) I’m still feeling a little iffy about them. But I think that it’s really awesome and amazing that authors who work in certain niches can market directly to their readers—niches which I am VERY interested in, myself.

I’ve already reviewed one beauty (One Solstice Night by Elora Bishop). Here’s what else I’m reading (Yes. All at the same time. That’s what multiple tabs are for):

 

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Butch Fatale, Dyke Dick: Double-D Double Cross by Christa Faust

Butch Fatale is a fast-talking, skirt-chasing, two-fisted lesbian private investigator with an insatiable appetite for two things — women and trouble.
It started off easy. A little lost femme, a heartbroken butch and fat roll of bills. But when the beautiful corpses start stacking up, Butch realizes she’s got enemies in high places and the Armenian mob measuring her for a plot in the Glendale Cemetery.

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Roses and Thorns by Chris Anne Wolfe

The first in Pride's From the Muse Fairytale Series, Bitter Thorns is a sizzling retelling of Beauty and the Beast with two heroines. Filled with magic spells, mysteries secrets and anceint curses, to read Bitter Thorns is to fall into a classic tale that challenges assumptions and bears witness to the triumph of all lovers. Bitter Thorns is complimented by seven interior artplates by talented artist Lupa.

 

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Sugar Moon by Sarah Diemer

Elise sells magic, charms and dreams out the back door of her brightly painted wagon. A Witch and daughter of the Maja, she believes that everything happens for a reason, but she has never quite understood why there is a hollow feeling in the place where her heart should be.


One night, at the fabled Moon Market, she meets a stranger. The woman's name is Via, and in a single night, love finds Elise; for the first time in her young life, she feels no emptiness.


But Elise's past is catching up with her. In the dark of night and burn of day, the Fevered turn their soulless faces in her direction, changing course. They hunt her, intent on devouring her light.

 

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The End: Five Queer Kids Save the World by Nora Olsen

When World War Three breaks out, seventeen-year-old Julia is on a school trip to Amsterdam, while fourteen-year-old Marly is trapped in a prison for delinquent girls. They both discover magical amulets, and try their best to save themselves and those around them. But it looks like their best will not be enough, as nuclear war threatens the survival of the human race.


On her journey home to New York, Julia is joined by three other queer teens and the mysterious and alluring Ginger; lipstick lesbian Vikki; and five-thousand-year-old Skilly, who has an amulet that grants him eternal life. When Julia and Marly meet, they are immediately attracted to each other. But romance has to take a back seat as the five friends learn the true powers of the amulets. Can they travel through time to save the world from total destruction?

 

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Astral Liasons: Lesbians in Space!!! by Cassandra Duffy/Lizzy Dark

Astral Liaisons is the second collection of eight short stories from lesbian author and sex-advice columnist Cassandra Duffy. Using a 1950’s pulp comic book motif, the eight erotic romance short stories take part in the rich science fiction tradition of space adventure, time travel, alien invasions, alien abductions, and inter-dimensional exploration. Cassandra has upped the naughty, kinkier side of her stories, represented by her alter-ego Lizzy Dark, including new toys, group sex, and BDSM while keeping the steamy side of her softer sweeter stories represented in the sun sections of the Day Moon Press release.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

So what is Friend of Dorothy Wilde all about, anyway?

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Hello readers!

Ever since I started Friend of Dorothy Wilde, I worried that nobody would get what it’s about. Back when I did Leaving Shangri-L.A., my bloggy mission was much clearer; I was all about the Francesca Lia Block readalikes, which had the benefit of having a built-in fanbase.

I started Friend of Dorothy Wilde because I wanted a fresh start, because I wanted to write about different kinds of books, and because I was really proud of coining the name. :D

The best way to describe the books I review is Rie-ish: they are colorful, whimsical, hopeful, intriguing stories, real and imagined, and how-tos that will make your life all the more glittery and wondrous. It’s a pretty safe bet that if you like Francesca Lia Block, you will probably like the fiction I post—same goes for Michelle Tea, Holly Black, Brigid Lowry, Joanne Horniman, Maryrose Wood, Marc Acito, and Stephanie Perkins.

I only review books I love, cause life’s short and I’d rather help out an author I love than tear down another who’s just trying to hustle in the big bad world of publishing.  To paraphrase the Mag where I interned, I love a story that’s queer positive and gender friendly.

Oh, and I’m such a sucker for glitter.

Friday, April 6, 2012

One Solstice Night – Elora Bishop ( aka Sarah Diemer)

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But perhaps the townsfolk in Benevolence weren’t quite normal. There were many people in the streets, moving from shop to shop, carrying baskets and small packages, some dragging little sleds loaded with all manner of boxes and bags behind them. As she stood at the entrance to the village, the little lane of brightly painted houses and shops with their chimneys curled with smoke and their diamond pain windows glitter, Isabella felt something she had not let herself feel in a very long time.
Longing.
“Don’t screw this up, don’t screw this up…” she muttered under her breath, keeping one hand on Alice’s back as the cat crouched, having just spotted a dangle of ribbons dancing brightly in the window of a small toy shop. Both cat and witch stared through the window, their noses almost pressed to the glass. There were dolls and little animals and books and wooden toys, and all of these treasures were mounded and piled up around the crowing glory…a small pine tree in a great ceramic pot covered in sparkling strands of silver.
The tree shone—literally shone—magic emanating from its bark to play along the needles and gleam out through the window to touch Isabella’s heart. What sort of people used magic to light up a Solstice tree? Isabella pet Alice absentmindedly, earning a little purr. Only magical people, those ones that the magic came to as easily as breathing, used it so casually.
So why did the need a witch?
Sarah Diemer’s going to be the Mercedes Lackey of lesbian fantasy, just you watch.
(If you’re wondering if that’s a compliment, please note my complete collection of lovingly tattered Elemental Masters paperbacks.)
You have your endearingly incompetent witch, your mysterious and ethereal shapeshifter, your town full of suspicious and magical locals, cozy winter scenes, a mystery and a monster and a talking cat. It’s a lovely little holiday fairy tale, with just enough suspense and romance and, of course, a happy ending.
I love that she writes these adorable little romantic tales about girls who are, well, friends of Dorothy Wilde. Stories I would have loved to have around while I was reading tons of books with Strong Female Characters matching wits with dragons and saving kingdoms, and unsure of why I never saw myself in their romances. Quote Elora/Sarah:
I’m the little girl who grew up on fairy tales and myths, lugging massive tomes of them that I rented from the library out into the woods, where I could read them in the quiet of the trees.  :)  I have been reading and studying and loving these stories since I was very small—there’s something about them that runs through all of humanity, these archetypes, these mirrors to our own selves and identity.  But, while the archetypes run true…when I was little, I was constantly looking for a Girl Like Me in them, and never, ever finding her.  So I began to tell my own stories about girls who loved girls, but I’d never forgotten that it stung that the fairy tales and myths I loved so deeply were ones that were closed to me.  Oh yes, I could read them and enjoy them and love them, but I had no part of them.  Sort of like staring through the chinks in a fence at something really wild and lovely, but a garden you will never be able to enter.  I know I wasn’t the only queer girl, growing up, desperate to read a story about Someone Like Me.  It was so important to me, and I thought:  what if I tried to fix it?  That sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale to me, but isn’t that how all good stories start?  I want to try?  :)
~from her interview at The Ravens Crossing
I adored One Solstice Night, and will eagerly snatch up future releases.
Especially this one:
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You can find One Solstice Night:
Amazon.com (Kindle)
BarnesAndNoble.com (Nook)
 Smashwords
and a paperback edition here at Createspace
Read a longer excerpt here
Elora Bishop’s website (her adult fantasy novels)
Sarah Diemer’s website and tumblr (her YA and short stories)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

It Came from the Midlist: 5 Books Just as Dark and Creepy as The Hunger Games

Hello readers!

Have you been plotting your Hunger Games strategies? I have!


(They can be described as Machiavellian at best. When you are under five feet tall and have the upper body strength of a baby t-rex, you do what you can.

Though I give credit to my friend Sophie's strategy. It involves doing the Time Warp on top of the Cornucopia.)

The dither about YA being too dark for readers is an old one and an annoying one--The Grounding of Group 6, anyone? Gypsyworld? Invitation to the Game?

Dystopias are trendy but they're nothing new--but. Authors pushing the boundaries in really exciting, creepy, and prescient ways? That's a trend I can get behind.

Here are some reads to fulfill your jones for the dark and strange.



The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith


Sixteen-year-old Jack gets drunk and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London as planned for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury.

There is war in Marbury. It is a desolate and murderous place where Jack is responsible for the survival of two younger boys. Conner is there, too. But he’s trying to kill them.

Meanwhile, Jack is falling in love with an English girl, and afraid he’s losing his mind.

Conner tells Jack it’s going to be okay.

But it’s not.

Andrew Smith has written his most beautiful and personal novel yet, as he explores the nightmarish outer limits of what trauma can do to our bodies and our minds.




Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves

Kit and Fancy are the daughters of the Bonesaw Killer. And they’re starting to realize they’re more like Daddy than they thought....
What begins as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly becomes a murder spree—not of the paranormal demons in their town, but of abusive and cruel humans. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to what she calls The Happy Place, a mystical garden full of bleeding statues, she opens a door to endless possibilities....








The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman



A transformative coming-of-age story that pierces the soul and heals the spirit. Rain is a girl of the Amazon tribe of women warriors, the daughter of Queen Alina, living in a time of blood and fear. As the future leader of her people, she must seek and hold fast to her inner warrior. But amid the horrors of the battlefield, Rain is startled and mystified by the first stirrings of mercy towards the enemy--men--within her....



(hahahahaha reverse The Handmaid's Tale ahahahahaha. yes.)





Tripping to Somewhere by Kristopher Reisz




Life is going nowhere fast
...until the night some freak wanders into the convenience store where Sam and Gilly are hanging out. He lets them in on a secret: The Witches' Carnival is nearby. If they travel fast, they might catch it.
It's everyone's glittery fantasy turned real: to follow the Carnival's mystic band of beautiful people as they defy every limit and dance through history -- all in search of a good time.
Sam wants to go for it, to cut ties with home and reach for the dream. But on the road, it's Gilly who becomes enchanted.
The girls leave everything behind. So in pursuit, they'll have nothing left to lose...except each other.




The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell



Zombies have infested a fallen America. A young girl named Temple is on the run. Haunted by her past and pursued by a killer, Temple is surrounded by death and danger, hoping to be set free.
For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself and keeping her demons inside her heart. She can't remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her on a personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Out of Time by Paula Martinac

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Happy new year, my dear readers!

I picked up this one while searching for all the Seal Press books at the Strand. Ghosts? New York City? Overeducated lesbians? Rainy days and antique shops and little old ladies with a Borscht Belt sense of humor? Totes my thing.

Our heroine Susan swipes an incredible scrapbook—four bohemian ladies from the early 20th century, photographing their lives and loves and scandals and all that good stuff. Fed up with academia and stifled in her relationship, she lets the book lead her into a whole new world of clandestine suffragettes, daughters of English aristocracy, amorous ghosts and mysterious matinee idols. Piece by piece, Susan and her girlfriend Catherine unravel the mysteries of the scrapbook, and find their lives expanding in new, glorious directions.

Out of Time is one of those great, moody, atmospheric reads for when you want to spend a rainy afternoon prowling through old ladies’ manors, antiquing upstate, and making the acquaintance of a sapphic ghost or two. Highly recommended for those who like imperfect romances, stories about New York City, and mysteries with a touch of magical realism.

 

Out of Time by Paula Martinac is out of print, but try any of your lovely online used booksellers or local library:

Amazon.com, Alibris, Abebooks

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For a similar tale of a woman tracing the history of mysterious photographs and creating a whole new life for herself as a result, try Lilac Mines by Cheryl Klein, previously reviewed here.