The Rec League: Mary Stewart

Oct. 19th, 2017 08:00 am
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Posted by Amanda

The Rec League - heart shaped chocolate resting on the edge of a very old bookOur community at the Bitchery is full of warm & fuzzy moments and as the person who puts together the Books on Sale posts, sometimes we get some kickass, budget-endangering comment threads. For example, KateB alerted us to a mega Mary Stewart sale!

You can view Mary Stewart’s ebook editions, sorted from low to high prices, all of which are $3.99 or lower, at this Amazon link.

Here are some Stewart recs from that particular comment thread.

No, the Other Anne:

Airs Above the Ground and The Ivy Tree are particular favorites. I also love Touch Not the Cat. Really you can’t go wrong with anything Mary Stewart, though!

Vicki:

I think my favorite might be The Ivy Tree. Currently re-reading MoonSpinners, the book is better than the movie. Gosh, I read all of these between eight and 13 years old, did not get all the sub-text and still loved them. Love them all now, too.

PamG:

Personally, I favor This Rough Magic and back in the day, when I first read Mary Stewart, I loved Wildfire at Midnight. Her later romantic suspense–post Touch Not the Cat–seemed a little bland to me, but the rest of it was golden.

Do read the rest of the comments for more recommendations, and please let us know which books the Bitchery should be during this awesome Mary Stewart sale!

A Spoonful of Magic by Irene Radford

Oct. 19th, 2017 07:00 am
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Posted by SB Sarah

DNF

A Spoonful of Magic

by Irene Radford
November 7, 2017 · DAW

Trigger warnings for rape, gaslighting, infidelity, and discussions of Joss Whedon.

I  DNF’d this book so hard I’m a little surprised my Kindle isn’t embedded in the drywall.

First, a few points.

  1. I am aware (and was aware when I started this book) that this is Not a Romance. I am not carrying into this review my romance-reader expectations on happy or optimistic endings.
  2. I started this book while the coverage of Kai Cole’s essay on Joss Whedon’s infidelity and gaslighting was everywhere, which was a weird parallel that accentuated my revulsion.
  3. This book does not come out until November 7, which is a good ways off. Usually I don’t post reviews so far in advance, but I’ll probably complain about this book more than once before pub date.

I picked up this book because the NetGalley description sounded really intriguing:

A delightful new urban fantasy about a kitchen witch and her magical family

Daphne “Daffy” Rose Wallace Deschants has an ideal suburban life—three wonderful and talented children; a coffee shop and bakery, owned and run with her best friend; a nearly perfect husband, Gabriel, or “G” to his friends and family. Life could hardly be better.

But G’s perfection hides dangerous secrets. When Daffy uncovers evidence of his infidelity, her perfect life seems to be in ruins. On their wedding anniversary, Daffy prepares to confront him, only to be stopped in her tracks when he foils a mugging attempt using wizard-level magic. 

Suddenly, Daphne is part of a world she never imagined–where her husband is not a traveling troubleshooter for a software company, but the sheriff of the International Guild of Wizards, and her brilliant children are also budding magicians. Even she herself is not just a great baker and barista—she’s actually a kitchen witch. And her discovery of her powers is only just beginnning [sic]. 

But even the midst of her chaotic new life, another problem is brewing. G’s ex-wife, a dangerous witch, has escaped from her magical prison. Revenge-bent and blind, she needs the eyes of her son to restore her sight—the son Daffy has raised as her own since he was a year old. Now Daphne must find a way to harness her new powers and protect her family—or risk losing everything she holds dear.

As I said, I didn’t go into this book expecting a romance at all, but what I got made me SO angry.

The book opens with Daffy at a 13th anniversary dinner with her husband, and she’s pissed. Someone has emailed her pictures of him having wild sex with another woman, just after the people of their small (and of course sort of weird) town saw him around when he said he was overseas. When she confronts him with the pictures and then leaves the restaurant, three dudes attempt to mug her, but he stops them with his wooden fountain pen which is actually his magic wand.

She thought he was a low-level “parlor trick” magician, similar to some of the semi-magical people around their town. Turns out he has serious magical abilities, but he only tells her that much because she saw them. He won’t answer her questions about his having sex with someone else, and keeps insisting that she not kick him out because he has to keep her and their three children safe.

I was thinking maybe at some point she’d realize her kitchen witch powers and set him on fire, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the story follows Daffy ( she’s a magical baker in a magical coffee shop in a magical small town) and her children, who are beginning to manifest their powers.

I liked that not everything is explained up front. There’s no infodumpy reverie from the protagonists – not even when G should have been explaining things because clearly Daffy is devastated and betrayed by his infidelity –  and there isn’t much random “As you know,” from ancillary characters. The world is built in small doses, and while some of it is cliched (magical small town coffeeshop bakery because of course magical small town coffeeshop bakery), it made me curious enough to keep going.

I was confused by the fact that there are dual points of view, with Daffy’s narration in first person, and G’s perspective in third person, but I figured that was a choice that would make sense later.

Unfortunately, I have no interest in getting to later. I stopped and I will not be moved.

Let me back up and explain some of the setup here. G doesn’t acknowledge how those pictures happened, except to say (of course) that it’s not what she thinks. He says that cameras can’t capture illusions, and that someone had to have hacked his email account because he didn’t send the pictures.

So he did have sex with someone but he didn’t mean to send his wife evidence?

Huh.

This is 2% in to the story so I was willing to keep going.

Then G explains that the world is really dangerous and she and their children need him around to protect them.

But he won’t say from what, and he won’t talk about whether he did cheat on her, despite visible evidence.

Then he says they’ve had “thirteen wonderful years together” and that he needs her “now more than ever.”

Daffy calls him on his bullshit:

“You need me to babysit your children. Thirteen years when I’ve raised your son as my own. I adopted him on our wedding day, so he’d never need to ask about the mother who died giving birth to him. I’ve given you two wonderful daughters, kept house, cooked, and picked up after you.”

And here is G’s sensitive, thoughtful reply:

“And I love you for that. I do truly love you despite the temptations I face every day. I built you a wrought iron-and-glass greenhouse that fills a quarter of the backyard where the stables used to be. That should prove something of my devotion to you.”

You. Have Got. To be. Fucking. Kidding. Me.

He built a greenhouse where the stables used to be so obviously she’s not focusing on the right details.

And while I’m looking at this paragraph, “The temptations I face every day?

Are you SERIOUS?!

His argument reminded me with a sick feeling of the coverage of Kai Cole’s account of her marriage wherein Whedon was cheating on her for 15+ years. That whole “temptation” whine sounded nauseatingly familiar. It was kind of eerie that this was the book I picked up immediately after I read her essay.

I mean, gosh, it’s so difficult to not stick your dick in other people.

Such a burden to be basically decent when you’re a successful, powerful dude.

I just strained every one of my ocular muscles.

Anyway, Daffy kicks his ass out of their home, and the story continues as their divorce gets closer to being finalized. The kids, it turns out, know about the cheating because one of them is drawn to locks, puzzles, and things she shouldn’t be looking at. She clicked her way into her mother’s hard drive and saw the images, which she promptly shared with her siblings.

(Yeesh.)

(And as an aside: Daffy blames herself for not doing a better job of protecting her files, since she knew her daughter was drawn to all puzzles, locks, and passwords. Do people with magical abilities have a free pass to be completely crappy humans in this world?? I cannot with that part.)

Daffy is determined that she be able to at least cordially co-parent with G, and tries to work out ways for him to be part of their lives. This becomes more complicated when each child begins manifesting signs of their own magical ability, some far earlier than normal, and all with considerable amounts of power.

Plus, G’s narration reveals that Daffy was raised in a fundamentalist household, and that her grandmother had been a magical practitioner. To get his daughter away from the “evil influence,” Daffy’s father had his mother committed and subjected to electric shock treatments. Daffy never saw her again. As a result of her own parents’ indoctrination and the absence of her grandmother, Daffy’s own magic is severely suppressed. But no doubt her own talents combined with G’s mean that their children are like a Semi-Nuclear Pre-Teen Magical Titan Fantastic Squad.

The Kids are All Magical was a really tempting element to this story for me. Each one is compelled to find their personal wand, which can take the shape of a mundane item, usually an antique that “calls” to them. One has two sticks that she wears in her hair with ornaments on them which transform her from awkward teen to beautiful siren, and another, the lock-breaking boundary-obliterating one, is later drawn to an item that’s connected with her talents.

G’s son, Daffy’s adopted son, is a talented ballet dancer, and they figure out pretty early in the story what his “wand” is, and how it accentuates and focuses his power. And his dedication to dance and to practice and training make it pretty clear he’ll be very powerful the more time he spends dancing. He was one of my favorite characters in the parts that I read. I’d read a whole book about him.

For the next few chapters, Daffy and G are separated, and she slowly learns more about who he really is (very little of that information is provided by G himself) while trying to set up new boundaries for his involvement in her life, and trying to understand what her powers are or might be.

Then there are two major revelations, one of which I will hide behind spoiler tags:

Spoiler and Trigger Warning: Rape

It seems that G’s ex is not dead, but is in magic prison for killing a bunch of people, including his parents. Except she’s escaped from magic prison, and has been killing people all over the world.

AND she used her magic to make herself look like Daffy, so that when G was having sex with her, he thought he was with his wife. Evil Ex-Wife took the pictures, hacked his email, and sent them to Daffy, knowing she’d kick her husband out, leaving her and her children – specifically her son – vulnerable.

So effectively, she raped her ex-husband and framed him for cheating on his wife.

I read that part, and said, “WHOA.” Out loud. But quietly because people were sleeping.

And I was waiting for G to sit Daffy down and explain the whole thing, about the danger to the children, about the circumstances for the pictures, all of it.

But he doesn’t.

He doesn’t seem upset about what happened to him except that his ex-wife is dangerous (and also not dead but everyone thinks that she is). He doesn’t explain what’s happening, he doesn’t reveal how he’s lied and concealed information about Daffy, about their kids, about anything. He knows best – for himself.

And I grew increasingly angry at him for it. He’s wrapped up in some willful deceit and manipluation to not tell Daffy the truth about her own life, about the children she’s raising, about her own marriage, and their collective vulnerability.

He’s supposed to be able to protect them? From what, his own dickbaggery?

Then I completely lost my shit.

G. brings pizza and wine to the bakery, where Daffy is setting up the dough on a Sunday night for the Monday morning baking. He mentions that he’ll be heading out of the country on some big case, and she reacts with some asperity (completely justified, to my thinking):

“Have fun,” I said with more than a bit of contempt.

G didn’t need to read my mind to know where my thoughts led me. He reached over and rested his big hand atop mine. I looked small and frail in comparison to his strength.

“It’s not always like that, Daffy.”

“Like what?” I fixed him with a determined glare.

“Look, I have, upon occasion, found release with another woman when I was far away from you and the amount of magic I had to case in order to close a case was too much to contain. Not often. Not habitually. There is always a woman of age I can pick up in a bar who is very willing to share a one-night stand. And I always use a condom.”

He paused long enough to chew a bit of pizza and swallow it. “Normally I hop the first flight home and return to you, my love.”

Aaaand that would be where I stopped reading.

Because are you KIDDING ME? 

Seriously.

At the foundation level of this story, I believe I am supposed to witness G redeeming himself or something. Maybe Daffy needs to show him how not to be a terrible person (which he should have figured out on his own) or maybe he is going to wake his own sorry ass up and realize what a shit he’s been, but I am not here for any of it.

G is the gatekeeper of information Daffy needs and should have, and lies to her every time they talk. And based on the direction of the plot so far, eventually they will probably go fight evil together or something.

I don’t know, and I don’t care.

I can’t invest myself in wanting any part of his involvement in her life, or in this book. I won’t be convinced, ever, that he is a person Daffy should have in her life. I won’t be convinced to read about him, either.

His inability to acknowledge his actions, and the way in which the world of the book seems to condone the fact that he lies to Daffy, misleads her, and banged people behind her back without telling her made me feel ill, similar to how I felt when I read Kai Cole’s essay. “I did something wrong over and over but it wasn’t my fault because magic/patriarchy/both” is not heroic, not in real life, and not in a book.

(And how exactly does using a condom makes it ok, you magical dipshit? Come on.)

The longer he deceives Daffy and hides the truth from her about her life, her marriage, his past, her children, her latent powers, and her future, the more he strips her of any agency in a story that is ostensibly about her. Life is way too short to spend my reading time with a character like that, and, as Amanda pointed out to me as we discussed this book, it’s very easy for me to put down the book and walk away – far easier than it may be for a person in a marriage as damaging as this one.

Daffy can’t get away from G, and he’s orchestrated everything so that she won’t be able to extricate herself from any involvement with him. He hasn’t told her anything resembling the truth, and the ethical systems and morality of the magical world seem to condone his decisions and the harm he does to Daffy and their family.

To hell with him, and people like him. I’m out.

ETA: Out of morbid curiosity, I flipped to the last chapter to read how it ends. So while I did not finish the book, I did read the end.

Show Spoiler

Daffy, G, and the kids defeat the Evil Ex Wife, and G and Daffy have outstanding sex, but then she tells him to leave. She’s going to date other people, and he can as well, but they should start over. She married him too young, and needs a chance to know herself before she commits to him again. So I’m guessing there will be another book at some point.

Good going, Daffy. Way to toss him out.

But the door is still open for him to come back in, and so I’m not interested in reading the rest.

Reading Wednesday

Oct. 18th, 2017 09:35 pm
muccamukk: Jeff standing in the dark, face half shadowed. (B5: All Alone in the Night)
[personal profile] muccamukk
What I Just Finished Reading
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, narrated by Caroline Lee
Very enjoyable mystery/gothic history novel largely set in the 1920s. (I feel like Julien Fallows probably owes Morton money). I liked how the storylines intertwined and how each person's interest in the history changed how they saw it. The love triangle at the centre was probably the least interesting aspect, and I wish the story had had more focus on Grace, as the sections without her dragged a bit. Will read more by this author, in any case.

Bearista by Zoe Chant
Does what it says on the tin, though I could have used more coffeeshop UST, as those scenes were a highlight. However the main couple had great chemistry, and I liked how the heroine was strong, interesting and useful in a fight without being an action girl. Zoe is really good at heroines that feel real.
(I hope there's a sequel about Keegan and maybe a carpenter lady.)

A Long Day in Lychford (Lychford #3) by Paul Cornell
I really liked the emotion in this book, and how the characters were at odds for good reason. The feelings were very well conveyed, especially Lizzie's inability to connect with the other two. However, it felt a bit short to deal with all the themes it was trying to get in, and a lot of plot threads didn't feel resolved at all. Presumably they will be in the next one, but I wasn't left feeling like I'd read a whole story as I was with the first two. (Unless the fragmentation was itself a meta point.)

The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky
I mean, it's a book in which the main character (and most of the other characters) dies repeatedly and often horribly, but it's just really pretty okay! I don't know what to say past wow, shiny about the writing and the structure and the themes, and it's just really meaningful! I want to learn German so I can read it in German.

What I'm Reading Now
Audio: In the middle of a Station Eleven reread, as I've been thinking about it recently. Still really good!

Paper: Theoretically, Beren and Lúthien, practically, not much.

What I'm Reading Next
Library book, probably Black Apple as it's due next.
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[personal profile] blackruzsa posting in [community profile] scans_daily
 I haven't posted to this community in forever, and since forever I've been working on my own comics and such, which I wanna share here.


How does this work again? )

What I'm Doing Wednesday

Oct. 18th, 2017 05:44 pm
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[personal profile] sage
books
I'm revisiting Yuletide source, taking a lot of notes, & contemplating my reading challenge parameters for next year. This year I've focused on women authors again, but lately I've been thinking about literary awards. Maybe next year I'll try doing the Pulitzer lists or something.

respiratory infection
Thanks for the good wishes re the cold. It's still lingering but I'm largely better. I'm still baffled that my body allowed a respiratory infection to happen at all. Maybe my allergic responses are relenting a little? *hopes*

dirt outside, inside )

neighbors squeaky wheels among so many other nice people )

healthcrap osteoarthritis + fibromyalgia )

Hope y'all are well! <3
[syndicated profile] icanhascheezburger_feed
cute astronaut Cats funny - 3715077

Sometimes all you want in life is to take you cat everywhere with you. Luckily for us, it's actually possible. Not to mention cats become absolutely the cutest little astronauts ever! 

Thinking about getting with this trend and having amazing adventures with your cat? Well, now you can because these amazing carriers are selling on Amazon and you can check it out Here!

Submitted by:

Tagged: cute , astronaut , Cats , funny
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[personal profile] informationgeek posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Oh hey, Jennifer Walters popped up again in Mighty Thor... and like everything else recently, was treated like crap.

Read More... )
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[personal profile] alicemacher posting in [community profile] scans_daily



If you saw the first season of Riverdale, you may recall its version of Dilton Doiley isn't the genial, well-liked genius of the comics, but a somewhat disturbed survivalist. This month's issue of the show's tie-in comic takes a closer look at him. Warning for child abuse.

Read more... )
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

Workspace with computer, journal, books, coffee, and glasses.Wednesday links are here!

Essentially, the crop of links today are strictly romance and Carrie Fisher related, and I don’t think anyone will mind too terribly about that. I’ve been in South Florida for a week, dealing with family things, and I’ll be returning to the Northeast today to sleep in my own bed and cuddle my ornery senior cat.

Three cheers for Beverly Jenkins talking about romance and diversity over at Shondaland:

Shondaland: For a lot of people, the outside perception of romance has been that it’s this very white space, which can make it feel inaccessible for a lot of minorities. But I think that’s changing, and it’s in large part thanks to amazing writers like you. So, just to start, thank you for your work, and for normalizing people of color in romance.

Beverly Jenkins: You’re very welcome. Love is love. We all love. And the industry should reflect everyone. Like you said, things are getting better — [but] every industry can do more, or needs to do more. I think romance, along with Romance Writers of America, have made tremendous strides in the last four or five years in trying to bring that normalcy to the genre. And it’s been great.

I also recommend looking over the Shondaland site from time to time for more great interviews.

Organization Academy A note from Sarah:  A quick reminder – pardon the interruption.

I am days away from opening registration for the inaugural Organization Academy online course, Menu Planning Mastery. 

If you feel overwhelmed by the question, “What’s for dinner tonight?” when you don’t know the answer, this course is for you. Each lesson will teach you how to harness the power of Google Calendar to manage and automate your meal planning, and save you time, energy, and money.

You’ll know what’s for dinner, you’ll have more time and money to buy books – what could be better?

If you’d like to be among the first to know when registration opens, please enter your email address below!  I’ll also send you weekly tips and step-by-step instructions with specific organization and time management strategies:

Please sign up if you’d like information about the course when registration opens.

Thank you in advance, and now back to your regularly scheduled link-a-palooza!

These next couple links regarding Carrie Fisher are from Elizabeth. Thank you, Elizabeth!

First up, The Mary Sue has an article about Fisher stressing the importance of Leia in pop culture:

“She was so conscious of the place that Leia had,” Johnson said, “not just broadly in the culture, but very specifically in terms of girls who grew up watching Star Wars, when Leia was the only female hero on the screen. She really wanted to do right by that, drawing the character forward. That was something that she would always be pulling us back to.”.

Here are some of Elizabeth’s additional comments: “Apparently when filming The Last Jedi, Carrie Fisher had a lot of input into the script. She wanted to make it the best it could be for all the girls who grew up watching Star Wars and for whom she was a hero.”

There’s also a #LeiaIsWithUs hashtag gaining momentum, which is calling for fans to honor Fisher during The Last Jedi‘s opening night by wearing or bringing an object that is Leia-related.

The Bacon Free Library is having a romance swag bag auction! The auction will officially launch October 22, but you can preview the items available now.

Bid to win swag from any of these award winning, best-selling, beloved, classic romance authors. Swag can include anything from signed books to having your name in one of the authors’ next book – how exciting!

There are a ton of authors participating, so please check it out!

Lastly, I’m dismayed to just hear about the Werk It Festival, which highlights women in podcasting:

Werk It’s first iteration, in 2015, was comprised of a crowd of 100 women, who met in WNYC’s Greene Space. This year the festival drew 600 pass-holding attendees and presenters, who all wore assertive smiles while mingling over coffee in the dimly lit Spanish Gothic Theatre and lobby, where the men‘s room had temporarily been labeled unisex. (The hotel was a uniquely fitting setting, based in the renovated headquarters of United Artists, a company co-founded in 1919 by one of the most powerful women in Hollywood history, Mary Pickford). Later, guests attended panels with names such as Creativity Doesn’t Just Happen and Extreme Engagement, and watched live tapings of shows such as Death, Sex & Money with Anna Sale, and 2 Dope Queens with Jessica Williams and guest co-host Naomi Ekperigin.

I would love to attend next year, as I pretty much exclusively listen to podcasts now.

Don’t forget to share what super cool things you’ve seen, read, or listened to this week! And if you have anything you think we’d like to post on a future Wednesday Links, send it my way!

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