Reblog and shoutout to my sister!

This is a reblog from my sister’s blog, yogaruby. She’s starting a Women’s Circle in Stroud, and blogs about wellness, yoga, and her personal journey through circus, movement and learning to be a facilitator. Take a look, I hope you enjoy!

Reviews from me tomorrow or Tuesday at the latest 🙂

Before I tell you about the women’s circle, I want to share a little bit about the journey which led me to start it… I began this year training at Circomedia, planning to be there for the next two years at least, but more and more I felt a yearning for something else. Eventually I […]

via A new venture – Women’s Circle — YogaRuby

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Re-blog from Nimue Brown

Fantastic blog piece from Nimue Brown – I really enjoyed this post, so many layers to it.

Advice for heroines There comes a point, usually rather late in the story, where saving the man from the patriarchy may look like a job with your name on it. At this point, the odds are he’ll be blaming a woman and not the system for what’s happened to him. It is his mother’s fault […]

via Advice for heroines – fictionish — Druid Life

The Life and Times of Angel Evans: Behind the Scenes

Welcome back! This month, I’m exploring Dragonboats, Featherboats and worldbuilding.

Dragonboat sketch by Meredith Debonnaire

Art by Meredith Debonnaire

So, dragonboats. They are, as you will (I hope) know, mentioned in the story. As are featherboats. And they’re one of those things that’s actually quite important to Angel Evans’ world. As you can see from the sketches above, I imagine dragonboats to resemble viking longships with figureheads. They’re mainly made out of wood, with the scales being added on later (if you imagined them differently, I would love to know how). And it’s the scales that allow them to travel the way that they do. Angel Evans’ native world has a lot of natural magic, including really big currents of it that are known as marivers. Dragonboats travel by tapping into the magic of the marivers and using it to float. They are fast, reliable transport. They tend to be used more for cargo and trade than transport, although there are people willing and able to pay to travel quickly, as well as stowaways, and others who do things like join a dragonboat crew and conveniently hop out at the place they wanted to go.

Now the scales, as I have said, are the things that allow them to tap into the marivers. Dragonboats are covered in them (which makes them a bit painful to look at if the sun hits at the right angle), and not many people are sure how they work: something to do with absorbing and refracting the magic in a particular way. As you may remember, the scales for the dragonboats are made by Dwarfs. It’s one of their biggest exports. And the Dwarfs have never shared the secrets of how the scales are made (in fact, no single Dwarf knows the whole process – the scales are made from a rare raw material that is mined by the women, then forged by men, enchanted by grafs and sold by kleed), meaning that the main method that Humans have for transporting cargo is dependent on trade with Dwarfs (who don’t often use dragonboats themselves). This makes for an interesting relationship, as the dynamic between Dwarf nations and Human nations is often fraught with cultural misunderstandings (and battles). However, the Humans like fast, convenient transport, and the Dwarfs (who do not have a very agrarian culture) like the variation in diet afforded them by this trade, so the dragonboats are one of the main reasons why battles between Human and Dwarf nations do not tend to last, although they are often bloody.

The next best thing are featherboats. No-one’s quite sure who came up with featherboats: some people say it was a Human, some that it was a renegade Grem with poor Phasing skills. What is certain is that, although featherboats are the next best thing, they are not actually good. They are smaller, they are riskier, they sometimes explode. Or stop floating. Or decide to go somewhere else entirely. They are the cheap option, and unfortunately, as in so many places, this means the dangerous option. As the name suggests, they substitute feathers for scales, with very very mixed results. Some feathers are good at channeling magic, and some are not. About the only advantage is that featherboats can travel along weaker marivers than dragonboats, but considering the possible exploding this is not a great advantage…

Join me for Behind the Scenes next month for some thoughts on the elusive Yumiko.

If you enjoyed this, remember you can buy me a coffee 🙂
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Book Review: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

the invasion of the tearling erika johansen

The second Mort invasion had all the makings of a slaughter.

BEWARE SPOILERS!

This, you may have guessed, is the sequel to The Queen of the Tearling. And it is amazing! One of the main points about the fantasy world that has been created here is that, although it looks pretty typical human high fantasy at first glance, it is revealed throughout the first book that actually, these people are descended from fugitives from our world. Or our world some years forward with horribly believable dystopian trappings. A revolutionary called William Tear led the Crossing (what they were crossing is a reveal in this book, so I’m not telling).

This means that the Tearling (and presumably other kingdoms and queendoms) has this interesting juxtaposition of technologically being about able to make a basic cannon, but having historical records of x-ray machines. I love it. This book really deals with that part of the story, as Kelsea starts having visions of a woman who is somehow connected to the Crossing. At first, I was a little impatient with these flashbacks as I just wanted to know what was going to happen: Mortmesne is invading! We’re getting clues about who the Red Queen is! Please just tell me what’s happening! However, after a slightly awkward section I quickly became hooked, and it started becoming clear that the flashbacks were important and also forwarding the plot.

Kelsea herself I found challenging in this instalment, but nowhere near as challenging as a lot of teenage sovereigns in fantasy can be. And I think I was meant to find her challenging, and to question her judgement and her decisions. Other characters certainly did. I loved the intrigue, the back and forth between church and crown intensifying, the preparations for this totally hopeless invasion, Kelsea’s weird magical powers starting to make more sense…

The end was, well, I had a hunch about the ending. And I was half-right. And it was a massive cliffhanger (Kelsea you redeemed yourself bigtime) and I have been waiting on tenterhooks for the final book to come into the library (which it finally has). So, if you are interested in some slightly brutal, fast-paced, interestingly-built fantasy with WOMEN, I recommend this series.

And if you have read it, I would love to chat about it with you! I have so many feelings about this series!

Rating: read this book – do not make deals with the demon in the fire.

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An updatey thing!

Hello! This is an update, in which I shall ramble at you, and share things I’m excited about.

Writing: Working on a mini-series, which will eventually be posted FOR FREE here on my blog (although, I remind you, I am a poor writer and you can buy me coffee through the interwebs). It’s gonna be twelve episodes long, each episode approximately 800 words, and it was born when I had to interact with a very unpleasant transphobic/homophobic woman and, through an odd series of conversations, decided that the best response was to write an odd sci-fi series full of happy queers in space… stay tuned!

Editing: that novella I finished recently. Yeah, you remember. I mentioned it before at some point. It’s baaaaaack *spooky noises*

Excited about: Okay, so, the Booksmugglers, who published The Life and Times of Angel Evans, are running a Kickstarter. They’re a two woman outfit, started as a blog focusing on SFF reviews and essays, developed into a publishing house dedicated to diverse voices in sci-fi and fantasy. In short, bloody awesome. They also do a hell of a lot of the legwork for free at the moment, and are looking to expand. I am super skint and cannot currently give them anything, so I’m just gonna yell about them here. You can check out their website here, and their kickstarter page here.

Pondering: getting a haircut.

UPDATE TO THIS UPDATE: WE KNOW WHO WROTE THE INFAMOUS FANFIC ‘MY IMMORTAL’ I AM NOT SURE IF I CAN FUNCTION!!! Also, it seems like she was trolling us the whole time, and she is actually kinda awesome and I’m gonna go borrow her books from the library now. ONE OF THE GREATEST MYSTERIES OF MY TEEN YEARS HAS BEEN SOLVED!!! Ahem, I’m calming down now… There’s some more info here.

Listening to: Con Toda Palabra by Lhasa de Sela

And that’s it from me. See you round.

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Aside

Book Review: The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, cover design Helen Crawford White, images by Buffy Cooper, Trevillon images, Miloje, Shuttershock, Vertyr, pavila

They say the day the Governor arrived, the ravens did too.

This is a stunning book. Bittersweet and wonderful. Set in a historical not-quite-here world that reminded me a bit of His Dark Materials in atmosphere, this is the story of Isabella, her father, her best friend Lupe, and the island of Joya. It’s ferocious and beautiful and strange. The story is fantastic – the plot is a bit chaotic at times, but to me that felt realistic and I liked it.I also really enjoy stories that have friendships between women or girls front and centre, which this did: Isabella’s main motivation is to find her best friend, Lupe, who has gone missing. Seeing as Lupe is the Governor’s daughter, she is generally unpopular with the rest of the islanders.

And that was another thing: I don’t think there is a single white character in this book. Not one. And it is a story that manages to be about (among other things) colonialism without that being the sole focus. Quite the feat. In this sense, it reminded me (odd as it may seem) of The God of Small Things, in that the politics were simply there and happening and impacting on people’s lives without being shoved into your face. The Girl of Ink and Stars is meant for middle grade readers, which is reflected in the writing style (although Kiran Millwood Hargrave is also a poet and it shows in a good way). I found this to be a genuine emotional journey, with touches of myth and magic and a lovely voice. But definitely have tissues on hand.

Also, for those of you who enjoy that kind of thing, the inside covers (I know that I know what these pages are called, just can’t remember) have beautiful colour illustrations, and there are map motifs on the edges of all the inner pages.

Rating: read this book: journey to a volcano, cry.

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Book Review: For the Love of God, Marie! by Jade Sarson

For the Love of God Marie

What’s important in life?

I am, slowly, getting into comics. And fiction. This is both. For the Love of God, Marie! is absolutely brilliant. I loved the art; warm and dynamic, often with restricted colour palettes. Jade Sarson is very, very good at conveying emotion through her art. Her characters are wonderful, nuanced people with truly fantastic facial expressions and body language. I feel as though there is a lot that could be said about her art; I don’t quite have the language to do so except to say that it’s good. And I pretty much read this in one sitting.

The main character (as you might guess from the title) is Marie. And the story, the damn brilliant story, is Marie growing up and being herself. It was awesome. It was sex and defiance and friendship and yelling at the world when the world gets cruel. It was Marie making friends and falling in love and facing loss and doing all those incredibly human things that we do. It was her best friend, Will, who boxes and wears dresses. It was Agnes, who she loved and lost and found. It was trying to raise a child while terrified of getting it wrong. It was family silences. It was losing Prannath, the father of her child. It was being raised Catholic and being bisexual and trying to fit all those things together. I just, I had so many feelings while reading this book: I cried and I laughed and I sat stock still desperate to know what happened next

Rating: read this book, go out into the world and love fiercely!

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