Musing: The dissertation hiatus continues, but not forever

Hello, dear readers!  I just wanted to update you on all on my hiatus.  My dissertation is coming along and will (GASP) be defended August 2nd, so I'll be able to rejoin the land of the living then.  Expect a few scattered posts before then, and then August will herald in a slew of awesome tour posts!  You can look forward to a review of The Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott, an interview with Kathleen Glasgow of Girl in Pieces, a review of The Architect of Song by A.G. Howard, a review of Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh, and more blog tour goodies--plus a long overdue review of And I Darken by Kiersten White, which was badass.

I miss you all, lovelies!  See you again after I'm (hopefully) nearly a doctor!



Musing: In the wake of Dallas

I wish I could say I can't believe we're at this place again, but it's all too easy to believe.  Love may have no bounds, but neither does hate.  It festers, breeds, and ends lives.  So again, I'm not giving you a review, or a light-hearted post.  Come back tomorrow.  Again, I'm going to say something that someone needs to say.  And then you can listen to Trevor Noah, who says it better than I can.

"You can be pro-cop and pro-black." It doesn't seem so radical, but many people have a difficult time accepting this. You can support law enforcement in general, but acknowledge that there are problems in policing that must be fixed, because they are resulting in the unnecessary deaths of black (and white) people. PEOPLE. You can be enraged over the deaths of officers in Dallas (and you should be, because those men and women were people, they were protecting citizens, and they were cruelly gunned down by a man with malice in his heart and a sniper rifle in his hands) and at the same time be enraged over the deaths of unarmed black men. This doesn't have to be a competition. The point is--we can be enraged over ALL loss of human life. We should be. Why do we not protest the sniping of these officers? Because it was the work of one or two men. Because the suspects who remain alive WILL be tried, convicted, and sentenced to long prison terms. If you think someone needs to protest, protest the fact that someone who wants to kill officers can go buy a sniper rifle. Why do we protest the deaths of these black men? Because they keep happening. And even though they keep happening, there have not been significant nationwide efforts to change police training, to change the way police deescalate situations, to change the fact that an officer can have 20 complaints for excessive force and racial bias and still be out on the beat with a gun. I applaud the efforts many officers have already taken (including Dallas, where they have started to make changes in deescalation tactics, transparency, body cameras, etc.) but until those changes are standard, until black people are no longer killed by police at a rate disproportionate to both their presence in the population AND their rates of crime commission, then I will still be outraged. I will still demand change. And I will still have room in my heart to mourn and regret the losses of other humans, including police officers.


Musing: I couldn't be more disgusted with my country #BlackLivesMatter

I can't do a regular post today. I'm too angry, too horrified and frustrated. My feelings are of no importance compared to black Americans who have to somehow live knowing that, in the eyes of the American justice system, their lives mean nothing.  Today, listen to them. Listen to their pain. Listen to their demands for justice and amplify their voices.

Today, remember.

Remember these people, just a handful of over 500.  Remember that they were black, unarmed, murdered by police officers.  Most shot multiple times.  Most of the officers were never charged.

Their crimes:

Michael Brown. Walking in the street.
Eric Garner. Selling cigarettes.
Tamir Rice. Playing with a toy gun.
John Crawford. Holding a BB gun he was thinking of buying at Walmart.
Dontre Hamilton. Having a schizophrenic episode.
Natasha McKenna. Having a schizophrenic episode.
Deontre Dorsey. Having a seizure after being in a car accident.
Askari Roberts. Having a paranoid episode.
Dominick Wise. Walking in the street.
Phillip White. Screaming.
Walter Scott. Routine traffic stop.
Rumain Brisbon. Holding a pill bottle.
Akai Gurley. Walking in the stairwell of his apartment complex.
Frank Shephard. Traffic stop for undescribed "suspicious activity."
Freddie Gray. Making eye contact with a police officer, and running.
David Felix. Having a schizophrenic episode.
Spencer McCain. Having an argument inside his apartment.
Jonathan Sanders. Trying to calm the horses pulling his buggy.
Sandra Bland. Routine traffic stop.
Darrius Stewart. Stopped for a broken taillight.
Samuel DuBose. Routine traffic stop.
Felix Kumi. Happening to be standing around during a police sting targeting other people.
Laquan McDonald. Damaging cars.
Alton Sterling. Selling CDs outside his friend's store.
Philando Castile. Stopped for a broken taillight.

Remember. Be angry. Be loud.

If our leaders won't fight for change, then we have to demand it from them.


ARC Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

review         book

I'll Meet You Theretitle: This Savage Song
author: Victoria Schwab
pages: 464
format: Kindle ARC
isbn/asin: 978-0062380876
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 4/5 (from hated to loved) or 7/10 (all books I've ever read)
recommended for: Fans of The Walking Dead, old-school vampire stories, Lestat, and everyone who wanted paranormal stories to be less about romance and more about people getting their heads ripped off.
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

in depth

  • It's a very different kind of book, at least compared to Schwab's usual Gaiman-esque atmospheric fantasy with touches of magic.  This Savage Song  borrows much more from the horror and paranormal traditions, with a gritty dystopian section divided into factions and a slew of horrible beasties that stalk the night.  It has the flavor of a zombie apocalypse in novel form, but with monsters much cleverer than zombies. 

  • And much more interesting.  I love a good zombie, but Schwab's monsters are a thrilling new breed of horror.  They're rooted in good old creatures.  The Malchai are reminiscent of vampires, while the Corsai are skulking beasts from a gory creature-feature.  The Sunai are unique to Schwab, beautiful and terrible humanoids who can suck the soul of a sinner with a song.  The names are a bit weird, but the origin--that each of these monsters is bred from the aftermath of human evil--is an exciting twist that makes them new and interesting.  

  • August, the Sunai, is a contradiction--perfect hunter and avenger but also more human than most humans, with a soft compassion that has no place in a war zone.  On the other side of the divide, Kate Harker (gotta love the Dracula reference) is tough as metal nails with a gushy center most people don't get to see.  The relationship between them is slow building, spurred by desperation, and tantalizingly unfinished.  Schwab doesn't always give you what you want, which made her ending much more satisfying for me.  Her characters make mistakes, they backstab, they miss opportunities, and they still scrabble and claw to make it through in the end.  

  • The plot doesn't pick up right away, giving you time to become immersed in the characters and their world.  I don't think she ever fully takes advantage of the August-pretending-to-be-schoolboy theme, unfortunately.  The bulk of the action focuses on August's and Kate's race to escape the unknown person hunting them and attempting to break the truce that's kept this city semi-peaceful for a decade.  Once it picks up, it's a bloody, breakneck adventure with daring monster battles worthy of any sci-fi and moments of real beauty and emotion.  

  • It's really the logistics that keep this from being an easy five.  I mean, why would the Sunai be created with a tally system unique to them that brands them magically for each day they don't go haywire?  There's seriously no reason for that to exist.  It'd be cooler if it was just something they decided to do themselves.  Furthermore, I didn't think we got enough of August's family to really know the the way we come to know August and Kate.  

  • But wait...there's more!  Schwab raises the stakes towards the end.  I can't give it away, but let's just say that her characters go through deeper hells than most, leaving a wide opening for a sequel.  With tight, stunning prose, she casts a shade on the notion of humanity, on ideas of vengeance, redemption, and the cost of peace.  It's a story that cuts deep and leaves a lingering itch that can only be cured by more.  

in a sentence

This Savage Song is a stunning, gritty sci-fi that explores monsters in all their forms--human and monstrous both.  


will i read this author again?  Yes!  Always.  
will i continue the series?  Um, duh.  

Note: I received this copy in exchange for a review. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books that are horrifically underrated, literally

top ten tuesday                underrated

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish.  

Want to help support your broke blogger so she can host more giveaways and give swankier prizes?  Click the book covers.  If you like the book and choose to purchase it from Amazon, a little bit of the proceeds goes to Sarcasm & Lemons!   

Less than 2000 ratings on GR, but not so new that it hasn't had time to get reviews yet!     

c.j.'s selections                         ten ten ten

The Devil in the Corner - Patricia Elliott 

This one flew under everyone's radar, but it's a really prettily written Victorian mystery, with elements of family drama, murder, madness, and a morally ambiguous heroine.     

Backward Glass - David Lomax 

I don't usually do time travel, but Lomax nails it in this sci-fi mystery that spans multiple generations, with endearing characters.  

The Unquiet - Mikaela Everett 

I can't talk this one up enough.  The premise is kickass: two parallel Earths, and for years, a group of teens has been trained to kill their doubles and infiltrate the second Earth in preparation for an invasion.  The writing is gorgeous and the characters are multilayered, morally complex, and memorable.  

The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand - Gregory Galloway 

A boy keeps trying to kill himself--failing every time.  It's an unusual story reminiscent of Matthew Quick or A.S. King, and it takes issues of life, death, and depression into the realm of dark comedy and magical realism.  

A History of Glitter and Blood - Hannah Moskowitz 

Another one that doesn't get enough credit, about fairies who sell themselves, magical tightrope walkers, and one fairy's struggle to deal with his self-loathing and unrequited love through a constantly evolving story.  

We'll Never Be Apart - Emiko Jean 

Maybe you'l guess the twist, but it doesn't make it less satisfying.  A brilliant psychological thriller that deals with toxic relationships, mental illness, and the desperation born from love and obsession.  
Sword and Verse - Kathy MacMillan 

The romance is a little quick, but once you accept it, what's left is a stunning story about love, classism, and the power of language to damn and to save.  

The Accidental Highwayman - Ben Tripp 

Lighthearted books never get enough love.  This historical fantasy adventure reminds me a bit of Ella Enchanted with its whimsical creatures, tongue-in-cheek humor, and sweet romance.  
Quicksilver - R.J. Anderson 

First of all, it's like the only asexual character I've ever read about.  Second, she's a mechanical wizard.  Third, it's an awesome mix of sci-fi, psychology, and enduring friendship.  
The Unquiet - Jeannine Garsee 

Very different from its twin on this list, it's one of the first ARCs I ever got.  It's a compelling story of a girl's struggle with bipolar disorder in the midst of a ghost mystery--is it the voices, or a real threat?