Wednesday, December 27, 2017


edited by Melanie Meadors
Anthologies are always tough to rate. No matter how many writers or stories you have, there are always going to be some that stand out above the rest. Unfortunately, in this particular anthology, the number of stories I loved was far smaller than I had hoped. This is particularly disappointing because I love female protagonists, especially angry female protagonists. I think my main problem with short stories is there’s just not enough time to delve into the nuances of female anger. As a result, a lot of the stories feel surface-level.

The stand-out stories:

“The Scion,” by S.R. Cambridge. This was masterful.  In a very short time, Cambridge made me care about the main character and her sister. It was interesting, surprising, and poignant. I don’t want to say much more because it’s very easy to spoil a short story, but reading this was a pleasure.

“Casting On,” by Philippa Ballantine. I liked that this one was unexpected. The protagonists were older women whose main focus was knitting. Not only did Ballantine show that women don’t have to be young to be badass, but she also successfully made their weapon knitting, something that’s very female-coded.

Of course, I’m not saying that the other stories were bad. They simply weren’t to my tastes or, if they were, they felt too short and underdeveloped.

One odd thing was that the anthology includes short biographies of admirable women. In theory, I like the idea, but the biographies are short and blandly written. They break up the flow of stories and ultimately take more away from the collection than they contribute, almost like they’re fillers to pack the table of contents. However, I did like the inclusion of non-fiction essays even if, again, most of them were too short to pack much of a punch. It was an interesting attempt to merge what we read in fiction to how we relate to those stories and help bring them to life, both as writers and readers.

I’m sure anthologies, because of their nature, are hit-or-miss for most readers. If the subject matter interests you or you’re a fan of any of these writers, I’d say give it a shot. I think it’s a book best read in small doses, though, rather than straight through.

Thanks to NetGalley and Ragnarok Publications for an e-copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays! In the spirit of the season, I'm offering a free PDF download of the first book in my epic fantasy series, The Dying of the Golden Day. Click the link above to download! This offer is available until December 31st.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Run in the Blood

Aela Crane is a corsair with a spear gun and a family made up of her fellow crewmates. The past she’s put solidly behind her comes back to bite, though, when it’s the very reason the king blackmails her into going on a monster hunt. Del, one of the soldiers who accompanies her, is not all he seems to be. And Brynne is a merchant’s daughter who finds herself betrothed to a prince she doesn’t know. Aela’s and Del’s story eventually intersects with Brynne’s in satisfying and surprising ways.

Fantasy is my absolute favorite genre. That means I ask a lot from it. I want it to grow with the times rather than ask me to keep reading the same Tolkien derivatives over and over, especially when authors think it’s still okay to make 90% of their cast male. That means Run in the Blood came as a breath of fresh air. Not only are two of the main characters women, but Aela is a woman of color. The setting is fun and unusual, too. It’s vaguely medieval, sure, but there are pirates and a very cool capital city (whose name I can’t remember right now, sorry) built into a mountain.  It’s just similar enough to be exciting, just different enough to catch my attention.

It’s so rare that I love every narrator in a story, but here, I love all three in different ways. Aela is a joy to read about. She’s brash and a bit of an antiheroine and pretends to be untouchable even while her heart is what drives her. I want her to get everything she wants in life, even if she hasn’t quite figured out what that is yet. Del is an intelligent sweetheart who loves his library and basically wants to protect everyone. And Brynne finds herself in an entirely new situation, one she’s unprepared for and not sure she wants. She’s kind and smart, and I love watching her make a place for herself. As a cast, they gel and complement each other really well.

And that’s because a theme that runs strongly throughout this is friendship, which is one I love to both read and write about. In a fantasy setting, it makes a nice change from characters who are backstabbing each other and grappling for power. This doesn’t seem to explicitly be the first book in a series, but the epilogue certainly provides a nice jumping-off point. I hope there are more books to come because I’d love to see what Aela, Brynn, and Del get up to next!

That’s not to say there aren’t issues. One of my pet peeves in formatting is when one character’s actions are in the same paragraph with another’s dialogue, and this happens here. Sometimes I had to read these paragraphs twice. Not sure if that will be fixed in the final version. I also think the middle section—where Aela trains and Brynne learns more about what becoming a princess asks of her—could have been longer and better developed. Honestly, though, these are so minor that didn’t take away from my enjoyment.

I heartily recommend this one, especially to fantasy fans who are looking for more female-driven stories or readers looking for something a little bit different. Though I don’t think diversity could ever be a bad thing, it’s a very natural part of this story. It seems like Ross paid close attention to how they represented characters of different race, sexuality, and ability.

Many thanks to NetGalley, A.E. Ross, and NineStar Press for the advanced e-copy.  Even though I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review, I already ordered the paperback so I can reread it and then loan it to my friends. That’s how much I loved this book.

Friday, December 22, 2017

FRIDAY FIVE: Favorite Visual Media of 2017

That is a long way of saying "TV and movies" (even though most of these are TV shows). These are in no particular order, and, as far as the television shows, they're not particular to 2017.

Orphan Black
This show is a roller coaster. I came to it a little bit late, watching all of season 1 on Amazon Prime right after season 2 began. It took me a couple episodes to get into it, but once I did, I was hooked. The premise of clones fighting for their autonomy appeals to me as a sci-fi fan, and I love that it centers around women, but the biggest draw is Tatiana Maslany, who is incredibly talented. I've watched all 50 episodes, and I still find myself forgetting that one person plays all those characters. The show came to an end this summer, and it was one of the most satisfying series finales I've ever seen. I love that they took the time to wrap up the plot and then show us the aftermath and how each character is affected and moves on. I'm sad to see it go, but I love the five seasons it gave me.

Wonder Woman
I've been a big fan of Supergirl since the first season, and I've been waiting a long time for a female-led superhero story on the big screen. I loved the setting and story in this one. I was a little disappointed that Diana's entourage was all men, but I did like that they weren't all white men. I thought it was refreshing, too, that Diana's strength and power ultimately come from love. It turns the tired old tropes of "strength as isolation" and "women have to be like men to be strong" on their heads. Looking forward to the sequel, but I'm hoping it has more women in the ensemble and that, even though it takes place decades later, somehow keeps Etta Candy in the cast!

I never mention mystery as one of my favorite genres because it never really occurs to me that it is, but recently, I realized that I read and watch a lot of them. It's partly the mystery and the satisfaction that comes with solving it (whether I guess the culprit correctly or not) and partly that I'm morbidly fascinated by evil. I like these stories especially, though, when the lead investigators, either professional or amateur, are intriguing. I'm not really a David Tenant fan (although he kind of won me over here, at least by season three), but I do love Ellie. In addition to the characters, I love the small-town setting and the seaside scenery, the music, and the way the writing lets the story breath.

The Great British Baking Show
Not only do I love baking, but I love how everyone in this show is nice to each other (except Paul. I could leave Paul). I don't want to be friends with anyone who doesn't like this show.

Dark Matter
There's not a lot I can say about this show that I haven't said already HERE. It's strong, character-drive science fiction that satisfies me both as a writer and a viewer. SyFy canceled it prematurely, and I'm going to miss it. I hope it lives on in a different form, and I hope I see the actors again on my screen very soon.

UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot Power Rangers. It was delightful, and I love it, and I've watched it over and over.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


I saw The Last Jedi on opening night with a few friends. I'm still trying to process whether I like it or not, especially because I can't view it just from one perspective. As a writer, I like to dissect the plot and characters, and as a writer, I know how difficult it is to juggle all your characters and storylines in a sequel.  As I woman, I look at the female representation of the film. And as a fan, I just want to enjoy the film experience. So, this is my attempt to work through my feelings for this film. I think the best way to do that is list my likes and dislikes. Spoilers abound, so beware.