transcript

Episode #08 – Transcript

Claire: Hello, and welcome to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks, a cheerful and irreverent book club podcast all about genre fiction, fandom, and the things that make us happy.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]

Chelsea: And we’re back. My name is Chelsea.

Claire: I’m Claire.

Kay: And I’m Kay.

Chelsea: Alright. Well today, as always, we are gonna talk about what we’re currently reading. Then we are gonna talk about the book of the podcast which is The Graces by Laure Eve and then we are gonna talk about what we have coming up in the future. Alright, well, I will start. I am currently reading a, um, piece of journalistic nonfiction called Without You There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite by Suki Kim. I don’t know if you guys have heard about this book at all. I originally first heard about it cause it was kind of a marketing dustup. It got marketed as a memoir as opposed to as apiece of, like, serious investigative journalistic nonfiction.

Kay: Hmmm.

Chelsea: ‘Cause she basically went undercover at a missionary university to do a report on North Korea. And so there was a lot of talk when it first got published about what that said in terms of, like, gender and how we market different things and how we contend to maybe take less seriously things that are published by women.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: Especially women of color. Um, so that was what first kind of put it on the radar. But I have a very um deep obsession with, like, cults?

Claire: Yes.

Chelsea: And, like, cult thinking and group thinking and all that stuff so I find North Korea fascinating as, like, a place. And I read a memoir a couple of years ago from, uh, I forget what it’s called and that’s super unprofessional. But! Anyway. I am really enjoying it. She is, essentially, there is a missionary university set up for the ruling class that is going to be all taught in English and Suki Kim goes undercover as an educator. And I am only halfway through it so I’m not sure how it ends other than she’s alive. [laughs] But, yes, it is a fascinating look at the educational system within North Korea. The difference between how things actually function versus the public face that is given to North Korea. And just the crazy amount of, like, brainwashing and cultural allegiance and all of that that goes into making up a dictatorial state like North Korea so that’s fascinating. A little scary. A little topical, a little scary, ya know. So.

Claire: Yeah, I read, um, read the book called Nothing to Envy, which, now the author escapes me. But Nothing to Envy is slightly different, it’s a series of stories by people who’ve escaped and defected from North Korea. And it’s compiled by an American journalist who met them all in South Korea after they’ve defected. But, so it’s, um, I’ve not read In Order to Live, but I’ve heard it’s incredibly, incredibly tough to get through because it’s quite, you know —

Chelsea: Yeah, as are most memoirs of, like, tragedy and escape and being a refugee, it’s definitely very difficult. But. It is definitely very interesting as, like, a first hand account of what it’s like in North Korea because we get so few of those given the lockdown that North Korea has created on people defecting and journalism and all of that kind of stuff. So. Not the brightest reading, but definitely fascinating and I’m listening to it on audiobook and it’s really just, like, flying by. What about you, Claire?

Claire: Well, um, I am currently reading Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty.

Chelsea: Yay!

Claire: Which is a clone murder mystery in space, which I think I’ve mentioned before on this podcast.

Kay: I think so.

Claire: I don’t know if I’ve said on this podcast before that I was reading it or planning to read it, but anyway. I just started and I kind of put it aside to read the book for this podcast, but I’m going to get back to it. I’m about a hundred pages in. And it’s pretty cool. It’s a generation ship that has a lot of people sleeping in pods, but the ship itself is crewed by six people who are all, like, ex-convicts who are on the ship to, like, live through the long journey and then once they get there, because they’ve done that service, they get their records wiped and, uh, they’re not criminals anymore. They’re pardoned. And, um, the book opens when all six of the clones, all six of the crew members, wake up in new clone bodies in the med bay, um, having just all been murdered.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: And, like, basically they don’t know who did it, but it can pretty much only be one of them.

[laughter]

Claire: And they’ve lost all their memory banks that they had from the last twenty years on the ship, so they all, they’re all panicking.

Kay: So, locked room mystery in space.

Chelsea: Yeah, that’s exactly how it was pitched to me.

Kay: Which, they had a really great discussion about that book on Fangirl happy Hour, if anyone’s interested.

Claire: I haven’t listened yet.

Chelsea: Mur Lafferty was at WorldCon and I heard her read from the almost-finished draft of Six Wakes and it was hilarious. And amazing. So.

Claire: Yeah, I haven’t listened to the Fangirl Happy Hour bit, obviously, because —

Kay: No spoilers!

Claire: — because I was reading the book, but yeah.

Chelsea: No spoilers. But yeah, that will be fun when you finished to listen to that.

Claire: Exactly.

Chelsea: I’m looking forward to that.

Claire: And the other thing that I just finished that, uh, was absolutely delightful is a little fanfic called Not Gonna Happen Twice by lady_ragnell. This is, again, a Les Mis fanfic because that’s most of what I’m reading now. But it’s about 12,000 words and it’s um, it’s almost a mistaken identity kind of thing where one of the characters is anonymously doing an advice column for, uh, a newspaper, for the school newspaper. So he’s kind of doing the Agony Aunt kind of thing and the other character is writing in and saying, ‘there’s this friend of mine, we’ve never really been friends, but we’ve never really been friends. And I don’t know how to be a better friend to him. How do I befriend a person? Can you help me?’

Chelsea: Awww.

Claire: And they keep writing to each other and of course they realize that it is the same people!

[laughter]

Claire: Because. You know.

Chelsea: Because fanfiction.

Claire: But it’s lovely and I really do love lady_ragnell and I came across it kind of by accident and I was like ‘did lady_ragnell write a new fic? I must get on that.’

Kay: Her fic’s really great.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: Agreed. Your turn, Kay. What are you, reading?

Kay: Okay. Um. I am reading all of the things ‘cause I’m always reading all of the things. I’ve got two books and two fics I wanna namecheck real quick. So for books I have one romance and one space opera, uh, if you know Renay at all? Our friend from Fangirl Happy Hour and Lady Business? She has been talking about The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi for about a million years. Um, and —

Chelsea: [sings] So good!

Kay: — because it’s really great and I listened to the audiobook and it’s awesome! And I don’t even wanna talk about it that much. Just, it’s the first in his new space opera series and it’s great. You should check it out. If you are into audiobooks Wil Wheaton reads this one and he does a great job. And I also just — it’s really good [laughs] — I also just finished up, um, Buns by Alice Clayton. Which. I definitely am gonna link to the cover of this, ‘cause it’s delightful. Um, I’ve had hit or miss luck with Alice Clayton’s other books, but this is the third book in her Hudson Valley series and I’ve liked all of them. It’s about, like, um, she’s like a consultant/fixer of resorts and hotels and she goes to the town where both of her friends now live after the first two romances in the series. And she falls in love with, like, the guy who manages the hotel, basically, is what happens.

Claire: Excellent.

Kay: And I liked it a little bit less than the other ones just because I have worked in high end resorts before. So I kept having moments of, like, ‘none of this is how any of that works.’ But it’s okay, because it’s a very cute romance.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. I was gonna ask you if it was accurate. ‘Cause I know you’ve worked in hotels before.

Kay: [laughs] It wasn’t, like, wildly inaccurate. Like, if you didn’t work in the industry I don’t think you would notice anything. But. Yeah. The timetables for everything were ridiculous.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: And people were doing things they wouldn’t get away with and still have jobs.

[laughter]

Kay: And, you know. Whatever. And then I have two fics that are really great. One of them, if you have even passed through Teen Wolf fandom at all you’ve probably read it. It’s Play It Again by metisket. It’s an alternate universe where things go so terribly wrong for Stiles Stilinski that he is magically shunted over into, just, kind of the next closest universe where there is a Stiles Stilinski body. And, it is like, a 60k fic of him in this world that is just much better than the one that he’s from, but he is Stiles. So he’s still trying to figure out how to get back to the shitshow almost-apocalypse of where he was. And it’s really great. The other one is — are either of you familiar with the tv show Kings from 2009? It only ran for one season.

Chelsea: Nnnoooo.

Claire: No.

Kay: [laughs] Okay. So this is a tiny fandom. That weirdly has some really dedicated fans who write for it basically every Yuletide and I get real stoked whenever I see something for it. So, if you are not familiar with Kings, fair listeners, you need to go watch this show immediately. I think there’s only thirteen episodes. I don’t know about UK availability, but it’s still streaming for free on NBC’s website. All the episodes. I don’t know why.

Chelsea: Score.

Kay: I don’t know why they haven’t given that license to someone else, it used to be on Hulu, but whatever. It’s known to a lot of people as that show where Sebastian Stan pre–

Claire: Yes!

Kay: — immediately pre-Captain America plays the gay son of the leader of —

Claire: Yep!

Kay: — a country, he’s like a gay prince. And is real tortured and he cries a lot. [laughs]

Claire: The source of many, many MCU crossovers in which —

Kay: Yeah! So, like, he’s played the gay son of a country’s leader twice now on TV. Which I really appreciate, thank you Sebastian Stan. But this show —

Chelsea: Yeah. [laughs]

Kay: — it’s a modern au of the story of King Silas and David.

Chelsea: Really?

Claire: I mean, I don’t know what that means, but that’s fine.

Kay: And it’s very, it’s just —

Chelsea: Eh.

Kay: You know, David and Goliath? In this Goliath is a tank. [laughs] And David saves Sebastian Stan slash the son of the king, and is whisked into a world of political intrigue. And also, it turns out, is God’s chosen leader for the country because Silas is no longer God’s chosen.

Chelsea: As you do.

Claire: I thought you were saying there was a tank in the Bible and I got super confused for a minute.

[laughter]

Kay: There’s not a tank in the Bible that I remember, but, like, it’s been a while.

[laughter]

Kay: But this, this fic is so good.

[more laughter]

Claire: Please ignore me.

Kay: This fic is called Single Use Weapon. It’s by Fahye. It’s novel length and it’s canon divergence at the end of the second to last episode of the show. So you have to watch twelve episodes —

Chelsea: The whole season.

Kay: — of the show, really, to understand what’s happening. But it’s so good. It’s this really thinky, political maneuvering, I don’t even know how to describe this. It’s real good. And also real gay. And I appreciated that.

[laughter]

Kay: And you should just go read it. And that’s all I have to say about it, really.

Chelsea: That’s lovely.

Claire: I think I’ve read a work by that author before in other fandoms. I can’t remember.

Kay: They’re great. I think they write Merlin, too.

Chelsea: Probably, yeah.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]

Chelsea: We will go ahead and start talking about the book that we read for this podcast.

Kay: Huzzah.

Chelsea: This was Claire’s pick. We read The Graces by Laure Eve.

Claire: So her name is actually Laure [pronounced like lore].

Chelsea: Really?

Claire: You don’t pronounce the e at the end. ‘Cause it’s French.

Chelsea: That’s my bad. Oh, pff. I’m an American.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: I don’t speak English all that well.

Claire: Well, I mean, to be fair, she does have to pronounce, but, like, imagine that it’s written like l-o-r, basically.

Kay: Okay.

Chelsea: Mmkay. Yeah. Well, the book we read for the podcast this time was The Graces by Laure Eve. And this book, just to do a real quick Goodreads recap so we can get right to the talk. The Graces, who are a group of siblings who live in this unnamed town and we join our narrator is kind of the new girl at high school and meets the Graces and falls under their spell. And becomes kind of entranced with them and it turns out that the Graces might be witches. And they might be cursed witches. And so our narrator River gets all sorts of wrapped up in that. And we take many, many a twist and turn before we get to the end. This book was much darker than I originally thought it would be going into it. It gets…pretty murder-y. And dark.

Claire: Yeah, it gets pretty evil.

Chelsea: At several times throughout this book.

Kay: It wasn’t darker than I was expecting.

Chelsea: Oh.

Kay: But I just heard witches and teenagers and thought yeah. That could go wrong real fast.

Chelsea: Well, yeah, but I guess I was expecting it to go more wrong in like a Heathers-y high school kind of way and less in an actual, like —

Kay: ‘We’re going to kidnap and murder you’ way? [laughs]

Chelsea: — attempted blood sacrifice and kidnap kind of way.

Claire: Right. I was expecting, like I was expecting it to be more, like, I mean. I don’t know why. Because I’ve actually met the author and heard her talk before about this book so I don’t know why I expect any different. But I was thinking more like Buffy and less like The Virgin Suicides. Which was not.

Kay: Which gets namechecked in this. [laughs]

Chelsea: Right? Okay. Can we take a minute to talk about this? That’s what I need to talk about. So the minute I picked up this book and, like, the first couple pages, I was like, ‘this book is giving me really heavy Virgin Suicides vibes,’ which, if you’ve never read it, is a lit fic book by Jeffrey Eugenides about a group of sisters who are very mysterious, who kill themselves for various reasons. Hence. The Virgin Suicides. But then, about a third of the way through this book, the characters actually have a conversation about The Virgin Suicides.

Kay: Yeahhhh.

Chelsea: And that was one of the point where I just had to be, like, hmmmm. I feel like that was a little heavy on the hand. On the page.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: I feel like she was already giving across those vibes and didn’t need to necessarily, like.

Kay: Especially considering half the time I was reading this I was like, ‘is this a Virgin Suicides AU of Twilight?’ Like, not even —

[laughter]

Chelsea: Basically.

Kay: Like. I guess —

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s kinda, it’s kind of —

Kay: Which. It’s fine if that’s what it started out as. But I was just like. I don’t know that I would namecheck that.

Chelsea: Did you guys ever see the movie The Craft?

Kay: Yes.

Chelsea: About teenage witches?

Claire: It’s kind of heavily based on The Craft, I think.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: I haven’t seen it, for one thing.

Kay: I could see that.

Chelsea: It is this. It is so much this.

Claire: but the author’s definitely spoken about how it’s inspired by The Craft.

Chelsea: And I should say, I really enjoyed this book. I thought it actually, I liked that it’s dark. I liked that the magic actually seems to be, like, magic. Like, it’s never.

Claire: I mean, there’s stuff that can only be magic.

Chelsea: Like, they do magic. So.

Kay: Here’s my thing with the magic. If you are writing your book so it is ambiguous whether or not the magic is real, and you don’t definitively state whether or not the magic is real until, honestly, the 95% —

Chelsea: The end?

Kay: — point in the book.

Chelsea: Yeah, like, the end of the book.

Kay: And you, throughout the book, referring to various characters who think about magic or think magic is real or think they can do magic, may have serious mental illness, I’m gonna take issues with that. Especially —

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: — the way that that is portrayed.

Chelsea: Yeah, the book is not great with mental illness.

Kay: And it kind of made me want to set things on fire at various points.

Chelsea: yeah, it’s not great.

Kay: ‘Cause I’m like, this girl is actually magic, we learn. At the end. But earlier she’s very anti-medication even though, from her attitude description she probably has either severe anxiety or possibly bipolar, which I personally have, like many people need medication to lead their best lives for that.

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: And this book comes off very anti-meds. And also, her dad tried to have her committed, which is why she basically wished him out of existence. And some people, you know, do need to have some time in an inpatient facility when they have severe mental health problems. And, I just. All of that made me really upset.

Claire: It was definitely set in the UK, right, because she used the word sectioned.

Kay: Yeah. That’s a UK thing. Yeah.

Claire: Which I think is only used in the UK. Right, right. So. Eh. It was very vague about where it was set, but yeah. I had a few things that annoyed me. The word ‘gypsy’ is used a couple times.

Kay: Yupppp.

Chelsea: Yeah. I really didn’t like that.

Kay: That’s a slur!

Chelsea: Didn’t like that.

Claire: That’s a slur. But it wasn’t used to describe those people, it was used to describe, like —

Kay: A style.

Claire: — someone looking a bit bohemian, or whatever.

Chelsea: Yeah, the way they dressed. Yeah.

Claire: And she capitalized it.

Kay: [angry] Uhuh.

Claire: Which makes me think, like, that doesn’t. Like. You’re not using that as an adjective. If you’re capitalizing something you’re using it to refer to, like, a population.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: That’s what the rule of capitalizing something is in the English language.

Chelsea: It means, yeah.

Claire: So, like, I, uh. Eh. I was annoyed with that, particularly. I also, um, did not realize when I picked this book that there would be dead gays in it.

Kay: Yeahhhh.

Claire: Like, tragic.

Chelsea: Yeah, there’s a tragic.

Claire:

Kay: Okay, you guys totally knew those guys were in love the whole time, right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Yes.

Kay: Because literally the first time that guy shows up I was like, ‘okay, they’re definitely in love and that’s what’s going on, there.’

Chelsea: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Kay: But the narrator is super shocked when that happens. And I’m like, maybe you shouldn’t have telegraphed that so much? Or maybe I just live with slash goggles on.

Chelsea: To be fair, because I wasn’t surprised. And I tried to go back and read it and I think it’s just we might be picking up on some clues that are more subtle than a general readership might.

Claire: I would not have picked up on it when I was, like, a fifteen year old, or whatever that girl’s age is in the book.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: And she’s a straight girl. So. Like. I, a straight fifteen year old, wouldn’t have picked up on it. Now I picked up on it. I picked up on it very clearly because, what happens, is that when she mights the, one of the guys, Wolf —

Chelsea: Wolf.

Claire: — who’s in a secret relationship, um, he says to her, ‘which one are you in love with?’ of the siblings. ‘Everyone who’s around the Graces in love with them. Which one are you in love with?’ He, there’s two sisters and a brother. He doesn’t assume she’s in love with Fenrin. He says which one. He’s there, leaving that possibility, and I’m like, is a straight fifteen year old going to, like, assume that it’s a possibility or is she going to assume that he’s in love with Fenrin? And he probably already does, because most girls that —

Kay: Well, she’s like fifteen, sixteen, he’s literally already done with school, living in the city working, so he’s at least eighteen, nineteen, isn’t he?

Chelsea: Oh, Wolf? Yeah, I thought we were talking about Fenrin. I would assume he’s nineteen, twenty.

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: Yeah, I didn’t get that.

Kay: Oh, other thing. Two things right at the beginning where I was like, ‘wait, did that just happen?’ So there’s an almost literal Not Like Other Girls on the first page and I, like, was so angry about that being our narrator. I was like, she’s literally talking about how everyone else is so vacuous and how she has, like, this dark emo place in her soul. And I just wanted to be, like, ‘oh, honey.’ And —

Claire: I mean, I got that, but at the same time, like, again, like, that was 100% me in high school. I was like, ‘I’m getting bullied and I have no friend, the only way I can cope is, like, thinking everyone else is terrible.’

Chelsea: I feel like it’s different because in the context of this book she does have a very dark place inside her.

Kay: She does.

Chelsea: Because she has wish magic and has killed people. It doesn’t make it okay.

Kay: We don’t know that until [voice rising] the end of the book!

Chelsea: I know. [laughs] I know that you don’t know that at the time. I wanted to say something real quick. The first description of Fenrin Grace is literally every guy I ever knew in high school.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: He wore white muslin shirts a lot, and wore leather cords wrapped around his wrists. He never seemed to take them off. He was lean and his smile was arrogant and I’m just like ohmygod. That poet shirt. Hemp necklace.

Kay: So unfortunate.

Chelsea: Glass medallion hippy thing was every hot popular guy I knew in high school.

[Kay groans]

Chelsea: Oh, man. Anyway. What was your other one, Kay? What was your other thing?

Kay: So the only person we know definitely in this book is a woman if color is one of her classmates. I don’t know how to say this name, I’m really sorry. Naral? N-a-r-a-l. She’s depicted as, like, kind of a slag, basically? The narrator automatically doesn’t like her because of the way she dresses. And I highlighted this one part ‘cause I wanted, I was so angry about it, basically, because I was like, ‘This is gonna be the only person of color in this book, isn’t it?’ “I’d seen her with her parents in town, before. Her plump little mother wore beautiful saris and wove her long hair in a plait. Naral cut her hair short and shaved it on one side. She didn’t like what she was from.’ You’ve literally never had a conversation with this girl and you’re assuming that because she has an undercut she doesn’t appreciate her culture and where she comes from? Like fuck you, that’s racist!

Claire: There’s also, like, this weird word choice I noted that. Because I was like. That doesn’t make sense. She doesn’t, like, what she come? What she comes from instead of where?

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: I was like so confused. I just, I mean I didn’t like the narrator. There’s that thing. Which is like, for me.

Kay: That’s hard in first person, okay?

Chelsea: Yeah. I did not love the narrator.

Claire: I had a lot of problems, I had a lot of issues with this book and things I liked about this book and things I didn’t’ like about it. I think it did what it tried to do really well, except for, there are some severe shortcomings that we have already namechecked. But, like, mostly it’s that I’m not, I don’t really like, at all, what it is it was trying to do.

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: This, like, atmospheric. You know. I thought that it depicted someone who’s unhappy in high school and who is thinking all the time about how to portray themselves.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: And I thought that was so well captured and it made me so happy I’m not in high school any more.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Everyone is very obsessed with their self-perception and the way everyone else perceived them. And it was exhausting to read.

Chelsea: That’s very high school, though.

Claire: I wanted more magic.

Chelsea and Kay: Yeah.

Claire: I hate it when —

Kay: The prose is beautiful, though.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: The prose in this book is straight up gorgeous, which is the only saving grace for it for me. Because I did not like this book at all. Other than that.

Chelsea: See, I really liked it. I feel like this book really knocked it out of the park in doing what it was trying to do. And I found the Graces, as characters, to be fascinating.

Kay: I always love sibling dynamics stuff, like, don’t get me wrong.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: But.

Chelsea: Yeah and like the sibling dynamic, the parent dynamic. I feel that Laure does a great job of building suspense throughout the book. Some things are definitely more telegraphed to adult readers than other things. But in terms of, like, the suspense of whether or not the magic is real and exactly what it is that is going on with the Graces. The two kinds of magic they end up using before Wolf disappears. There’s just lots of subtle lacks of information that I felt built suspense really well and kept me engaged in my reading. And I feel like for young adult readers, um, this book captured that inner high school desire and, you know, occasionally adult desire to play it cool, man. To tamp it down. And, like you were saying, that self-projection and self-perception that is such a huge part of high school. I feel like this book did that in a way that made me feel really uncomfortable.

Claire: Oh yeah.

Chelsea: And like Claire said, I’m really glad that I don’t have to give a shit about it anymore.

Claire: Well, I mean, I don’t know. I’m fairly socially anxious, you know. I’m outgoing and an extrovert and I love meeting people, but that mental gymnastics that she does about how to, like, present herself? I do that whenever I meet new people. Like, when I know that someone’s my friend and I’m comfortable with them, the way that I know it is that I don’t give a shit. But if someone’s new I’m, like, locked down. I felt that it did that really well, but, like, the fantasy aspect it was, a lot of the book for me, felt like magical realism, where you get this ‘is it really magic? Is it not magic? Is it just coincidences and a lot of money?’ And all that kind of stuff. And I don’t really like that.

Chelsea: I almost wished that she’d just — oh really? I just wished she’d left it ambiguous. I almost didn’t like at the end —

Kay: I think the magic reveal either needed to be way earlier for me, or we needed to not have a reveal at all, as far as I’m concerned.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: That’s fair.

Chelsea: ‘Cause I like that debate. I like that part of magical realism, especially when you have characters who are on different scales of belief, whether they think what’s happening is happening. So I just kinda wish she’d left it up in the air for, like, the reader to decide. But if that’s not your preference, that would really fucking bother you, so that’s I can understand why you wouldn’t like that.

Kay: I have a question for you guys. So, I’m okay with having unlikable characters. I think unlikable characters are sometimes the most interesting people in a book.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: But I do like to have someone to root for, and, like, literally the only person in this book that I even kind of liked was Wolf. Who is the gay character who is killed because our lovely narrator wishes he was dead so she can be with his boyfriend.

Chelsea: To go away.

Kay: Like. [laughs] I just.

Chelsea: Okay, just. Okay. Just to spell out how that happens, um, Fenrin who is the boy our narrator is in love with and Wolf, who is a longtime childhood friend of the family, are in love. And it turns out our narrator, we learn at the end, has this magical ability to basically have her wishes come true in, like, a bad way. So if you get in a fight and she wishes you’d just, like, piss off, you’ll fall down a manhole and disappear forever.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: It’s one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ kind of situations. And when she finds out that Fenrin and Wolf are gay and in love she’s literally like ‘but I love Fenrin! I want Wolf to go away forever.’ And then he dies.

Kay: Like, he’s literally swallowed by the sea. I just went, ‘wait. What?!’

Chelsea: Out of nowhere a giant wave just comes up and eats him.

[Kay groans]

Chelsea: Which. Like. We can, just.

Kay: As a queer person, this book made me deeply uncomfortable.

Claire: I don’t know. Look. I don’t mind a first person narrative in the way that I know that Kay gets really, and you, Chelsea as well, you read a lot more YA, and I know you both get quite annoyed with it. I don’t mind it as much, but, like, if you’re gonna do a first person narrative you cannot, like, hide things from the reader.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: I mean, you can, but then you’re an unreliable narrator which is my fucking least favorite thing.

[laughter]

Chelsea: Awww.

Claire: Well, number one: same. Number two: I do think the prose in this book was beautiful, but I don’t think the unreliability was handled, like, I wasn’t super convinced.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Well, like, I don’t think she did it intentionally. I don’t think Laure was trying to write an unreliable narrator in River. I just think because of choices River made it made River unreliable in her narration. I dunno. I found the Grace sisters fascinating. I actually really liked them. I agree that no one in this book is a likable character, to, like, any degree.

Kay: Except Wolf! I’m holding out there saying Wolf is great. [laughs]

Chelsea: Well, yes. Wolf is great. But his screentime —

Kay: Pretty minimal.

Chelsea: — on the page, so to speak, is very small. He literally is one of those characters who doesn’t really talk, he just grunts a lot. They have a couple scenes of conversation so he’s not, like, totally one dimensional, but he’s not exactly.

Kay: No.

Chelsea: I dunno. I wouldn’t say he was a main character if it weren’t for the fact that his death causes —

Kay: The whole final act of the book? Yeah.

Chelsea: — the second half of the plot of the book. [laughs] But I dunno. Yeah. ‘Cause there is no one to root for in this book, but for some reason it didn’t really bother me. I dunno.

Claire: It doesn’t feel really super relatable to me because it’s all about secrets and you have this kind of weird social class dynamic.

Chelsea: Yeah, there was a lot of classism stuff.

Claire: Where River. Yeah. Where River is from a single parent household because she magicked her father away and they live on a council estate —

Kay: Her mom has a gambling addiction.

Chelsea: Yeah. Which they don’t even touch on. They just drop that in there.

Kay: Just like, ‘by the way, we don’t have money ‘cause my mom gambles.’ What?! What?!

Claire: I just like, uh, hm. The fact that their, her father went away and they’re poor and she has a single mom, therefore her mom’s terrible at being a single mom? I was kind of uncomfortable with.

Kay: Yeah, the mundane aspects of the worldbuilding I found kind of suspect. ‘Cause you’ve got the stuff with, like, her mom, but you don’t really touch on it. And we don’t really know what her mom does other than whatever she does is shift work.

Claire: Warehouse job, I think?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Here’s my thing. The, it’s very iffy where and when this is set.

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: But we know for a fact that people had cell phones and there’s mention of the internet. So, like, I’m assuming this is set —

Chelsea: It’s modern.

Kay: — modern. And somewhere in the UK, probably, because of some linguistic choices that were made. But it’s never said. And if you’re gonna do that, I’m sorry. I am going to assume that these parents of the Graces are abusive if the kids are not allowed to have anyone over. They’re not allowed to learn to drive.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: They’re not allowed to have phones. They’re not allowed to have computers. I honestly don’t even know how you would do coursework if you’re, one, not allowed to drive to the library or stay after school to use your school library if you don’t have the internet or a computer at home. And you have to type everything to turn in. Like. What?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: What?!

Chelsea: I mean. Yes. It is very clear that there is some kind of emotional abuse going on in this household because of the dynamics.

Claire: I just in the UK people don’t drive to school in the same way that they do in America, I don’t think.

Kay: But those people were super fucking rich. Their kids would’ve had a car.

Chelsea: Or a car service.

Claire: Yeah, I’m just saying that’s not like a thing.

Chelsea: My thing is, that stuff, I guess, it bothers me, but it doesn’t bother me any more than in any other young adult book. This book just falls trap to that young adult book thing where —

Claire: Our parents are terrible.

Chelsea: — our plot can’t happen if we have parents stepping in and being responsible adults. Therefore we will just a) not really have like a shadow. River’s mom is basically, like, a shadow figure. She’s occasionally there to, like, give River a reason to have to call home? I dunno. I don’t really know. She could’ve not been in this book at all.

Kay: Honestly, yeah.

Chelsea: And then the Grace parents are, I mean. They’re just. They’re abusive, but they’re mostly negligent. Like. They don’t.

Claire: And it’s super weird in what way they’re abusive, right? Because, it’s like, on the one hand you have the mom —

Kay: They’re deeply homophobic, right? Like, I highlighted something.

Chelsea: Yeah, deeply homophobic.

Claire: Yeah, they’re very homophobic. Very controlling. But, like, at some point, River’s, like, walking in their house and nosing around which is not okay, and like, walks in a dark room and the dad of that family is, like —

Chelsea: ‘Cause it’s his study.

Claire: — sitting in the dark room?

Chelsea: She walks into his office without permission and he’s sitting in his office.

Kay: In the dark. Like a creeper. But yeah. [laughs]

Chelsea: Don’t do that.

Claire: Yeah, I was like. What? That’s not okay to do. But also, like, why are you sitting in the dark?

Chelsea: Hey, you know what? Also. As we are recording this I am sitting in what is my office.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: In the dark. And if I want to sit in the dark in my office I get to do that. Get the fuck out of here, strange teenage girl. Why are you wandering around my house?

[laughter]

Chelsea: I mean, I’m just saying. But it’s one of those things where that happens so often in young adult books. It is a common occurrence that if you ask most young adult readers what they want in books it’s, like, better parents and more responsible friends and things that are actually more accurate so that. I was not expecting there to be a super great parental role. In this book. When we got into it.

Kay: Yeah. Did we mention we don’t know her real name?

Chelsea: Nnnooo?

Kay: Cause that bothered me.

Chelsea: No.

Claire: I mean. I don’t know. I, um.

Kay: We don’t know her mom’s name, either.

Chelsea: How bad is this, I didn’t even realize we didn’t know her real name.

Kay: We don’t know her name. Her first or last name.

Chelsea: Not until she gives herself one.

Claire: She names herself.

Chelsea: She names herself River Page.

Kay: Which is fine. But, like. Wha? And her mom is such a cipher her mom doesn’t even get a name, either.

Claire: But, like, I’m not sure it.

Kay: It was just another thing about the narrator that I was like. Okay. [laughs]

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: Yeah, that didn’t bother, that didn’t’ bother me but it made me worry there was gonna be some kind of weird.

Kay: Because that’s, like, a trope that I’ve, where like the narrator doesn’t tell you who they are. I’ve always hated that. And also it makes me think of F Scott Fitzgerald and just, like, eh. Where, like, the narrator doesn’t really like to name himself.

Chelsea: Hey, you leave F Scott outta this, man.

[Kay sighs]

Chelsea: We don’t need to be bringing him into this. You leave F Scott Fitzgerald outta this. Dammit, Kay.

Kay: I’ll leave Scott alone.

Chelsea: We will go off the air. That’s fine.

Claire: Yeah, the name thing made me quite worried there was gonna be some weird surprise twist about her identity.

Chelsea: That maybe she was a Grace all along?

Claire: That was going to be problematic and annoying so I was super glad that didn’t happen.

Chelsea: Oh really? I thought that would’ve been awesome. I’m such, like, a soap operatic cheeseball that I would’ve fucking loved it.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: She woulda been like, ‘surprise!’

Kay: I mean, both of their parents have lots of affairs, so they could have some other siblings.

Chelsea: It would’ve made no sense within the way that the plot in the book is set up, but like, just in general that would not have bothered me. I woulda been like, ‘fuck yeah, of course you are. Why wouldn’t you be?’

Claire: I just found it fairly unrelatable both because, you know, I’m not, like, super rich living in a mansion and also because, like, when i was in high school there was, like, secrets and lying and gossip —

Chelsea: Murder? [laughs]

Claire: But it still feels like. No, but it still feels like the scope, the scale of it was completely over the top. We didn’t have. We had popular kids, but we didn’t have, like, this is the Graces. They’re witches. You know, like?

Kay: It felt very Twilight how everyone in the school and town was obsessed with this family.

Chelsea: That’s what I was gonna say. It’s straight up that whole Cullen family, like, they’re very. And that’s a product of, like, we learn in Twilight that those parents aren’t abusive but it’s that secret culture of parents who enforce on their children gag orders and you create this air of mystery. And then you get this whole little town who is obsessed with this one particular, like, family. And often those families have money.

Claire: And also, yeah that’s another thing. I’ve always lived in kind of sizable towns, so, you know. Um. The small town thing where everyone knows the same family that’s, I’m a Londoner. That is very strange to me. You know? Like.

Chelsea: See, I live in a small enough town that we have the wealthy families and if you’re talking about certain last names people in town will know who you’re talking about, but it’s not like the Graces. Not like oh!

Claire: They’re not witches.

Chelsea: It’s not like, ‘oh, THAT family.’ It’s just like, ‘oh yeah, you mean the family with all the money? The family that does the big, always gives to the charity thing for the school and always does the sponsoring the team.’ And, like, all that kind of community shit. So I can understand where that kinda comes from. Again. I wish they were witches.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: I wish they were — well, actually, I don’t wish anybody was murdering anybody.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: But it would be way cooler if the popular families in my town were murdering people than if they were just making donations to the charity golf tournament. So.

Kay: Chelsea just accidentally told you way more about herself than she meant to.

[laughter]

Chelsea: I’m just saying. Murder’s more interesting than golf. I feel like if we can’t as a general society come to that conclusion, we’ve gone off the rails. In a way we can’t fix.

Kay: As probably the only person who has spent a really inordinate amount of time on golf courses, I will verify that murder is definitely more interesting than golf.

[laughter]

Kay: Although country club drama is probably as dramatic as this book.

Chelsea: Okay, let’s get this one back on the rails, you guys. That was my bad. [laughs] Took that train straight south. Did we have any favorite parts? I know, in general, this one did not land super great. But there were any good parts?

Claire: There was one thing that really hit me. I’ve said a couple times that I didn’t find this relatable at all. There was one part that I found all too relatable. And, um, there is a, it’s after Wolf has died, before we know it’s murder. They go back to school on the first day of the school year and our narrator River arrives in class and everybody’s talking about the death. And it’s just the way they’re talking about it. And the way that, like, everybody is gossiping around and someone who barely knew the guy who died is like, ‘oh, Wolf, he was such a nice person, I’m so sad.’ And, you know, other people immediately, like, clump around, like ‘oh you knew the dead guy?’ and immediately want to gossip. That, like, terrifying, casual, cruel gossiping around the death of someone in a school. When I was in high school there was a kid in the grade above me who died of an asthma attack and a couple of my friends were, had been held back a grade so they were in my grade but they knew him really well. And I remember the morning that we came in and we heard the news that it happened. Like, someone literally said the phrase, ‘oh my god, did you know the dead guy?’ And that girl knew the person and walked out crying to the counselor’s office and it was just the worst there was this guy who I’d talked to, like, three times who was really nice. And he was in the drama club and I was in the drama class and so, like, everybody who took drama was super upset and everybody else was gossiping about whether or not it was really an asthma attack or did he kill himself.

Chelsea: Aww.

Claire: Like it was interesting news to talk about?

Chelsea: High schoolers are fucking awful.

Claire: Like. Yeah.

Kay: Little sociopaths, yeah.

Claire: So. I was like, ohmygod, too real.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: I had to, like, put it down after that bit for a little while and be like, ‘oh no.’

Chelsea: That would be really hard. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, my favorite part, actually, was my favorite because it wasn’t anything that has ever happened to me any time ever. But if it had happened I would’ve died. So there is a scene very early on in the book where our narrator is still crushing really hard on Fenrin. And they are chatting one day and they have the following exchange. Fenrin says, ‘So we finally get to see you out of your natural habitat?’ ‘You mean school? That’s not my natural habitat.’ ‘Oh, I think it is. You like the library. All that brooding quiet and rustling paper. You hear the call of the books like the far off calling of the wolves.’ His voice was teasing. ‘Books are knowledge. Knowledge is power,’ I say, archly. ‘And power’s your goal? Curiouser and curiouser, Alice.’ Which, first off, ‘you hear the call of the books like the far off calling of the wolves’ is just, like, aces.

Kay: The woman can turn a nice phrase.

Chelsea: Yeah. She’s got some power with the pen. Yeah. And then if she, also, to quote Alice in Wonderland, if I’d had that particular exchange in high school with a boy that looked like Fenrin?

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: I would’ve died. I would’ve just, legit, been straight up, like, this is the pinnacle of everything. I am dead.

Claire: Yeah. Same.

Chelsea: So reading that little thing on the page I was just, like, I can understand why our narrator is as into Fenrin as she is. But also, the goddamn name Fenrin? I could not stop reading as Fenrir.

Kay: [sings] Same!

Chelsea: And that ruined so many things for me.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: The name was a little too close to that for me. [laughs] And for me it was little bit distracting.

Claire: The thing is, you know, I like werewolves. Apart from Fenrir Greyback, I like most of the werewolves. So if Fenrin had actually been a werewolf, but in, like, the hot werewolf romance YA type of werewolf?

[laughter]

Claire: I would’ve been fine with that.

Chelsea: For a split second when she wakes up in the second part, she’s having a dream being chased by someone with fangs? I was like, ‘I swear to fucking god, if this is a secret werewolf book I am quitting right now.’

[laughter]

Claire: I did not think of that.

Chelsea: If I think they’re witches but they’re actually werewolves, I am fucking done.

Claire: Oh my god.

Kay: Do you know how many moments I had where I was thinking, ‘if this is a secret “something” book, I’m quitting right now,’ while reading this book?

[laughter]

Kay: Oh, wait. I did have a part I actually liked. Well, there’s lots of really beautiful prose in this, and I highlighted some stuff, but this was my favorite part because I was thinking the exact same thing that Thalia says. Which is, this is when they’ve kidnapped River and are gonna sacrifice her, basically, to get Wolf back.

[laughter]

Kay: And Thalia’s like, called her the villain. And River’s like, ‘What the fuck? I’m not the villain!’ And Thalia’s like, ‘You’re the one the good guys always try to stop. It’s tragic when you die at the end, but you know everyone agrees that it’s for the best. You know that story. Of course you do. You have to be stopped for your own good. Can’t you see that? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if you just went away?’ And I was like, ‘Yes. It would be.’

[laughter]

Kay: It would be better if you just went away! She literally keeps wishing terrible things into existence! Yes, It would be better if she just went away!

Chelsea: I know. [laughs]

Claire: It’s, it’s a bit sad because both a) that’s a super interesting twist on it. Like, at the end, where you’re like, yeah, she’s the villain. And it looks like there’s a sequel where, like, she’s owning being the most evil person around.

Kay: Yeahhh. Whereas I kind of just wanted them to kill her and that to be the end of this book. I would’ve found that a very satisfying ending.

Chelsea: I would’ve been okay with that. If they just sacrificed her on the beach.

CLaire: Me, too.

Chelsea: Although that scene where she wakes up hogtied to a post on the ocean —

[Kay laughs hysterically]

Chelsea: — and they’re gonna blood sacrifice her by the light of the moon. [laughs] I’m just like. Oh my god.

Kay: So extra. No one has ever been as extra as the Graces.

Chelsea: They are extra extra. They have no chill in how they live their life and it’s great.

Claire: So I was reading this at a cafe terrace in, in town having, like, a hot chocolate and a brownie, or something.

Chelsea: That’s very Graces of you.

[laughter]

Chelsea: That’s very indulgent.

Claire: Uhuh. Uhuh. I just like chocolate. That’s what happened. But I was sat next to a family that was, like, you know, like, four or five women of various generations gossiping in, like, a language that I did not speak with a tiny, like, adorable pug. And going back and forwards between English and another language and, like, telling this pug that she was a good girl. But she was an adorable dog. But I was like, hogtied to a post by the sea. Aren’t you a good girl?

[laughter]

Claire: It was so weird.

Chelsea: I feel like that’s the best possible way to go ahead and transition. Did anybody have anything else about The Graces that they wanted to talk about?

Kay: Wait. I do have one more thing.

Chelsea: Okay, go ahead.

Kay: So River is saying that.

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: I just. River. River, darling. [sighs]

[laughter]

Kay: She’s talking about Fenrin and she’s like, ‘he needed a grand, evil reason why Wolf was dead, but all I had to give him was the banal truth. Sometimes people die for the stupidest reason in the world.’ And yes. Sometimes people do die for the stupidest reason in the world. But there’s nothing banal about your magical wish and him being swallowed by the sea! As like, a normal thing that he should accept as just due course. That’s really strange!

[laughter]

Chelsea: It’s not like Wolf, like, got hit by a bus walking across the street.

Kay: Yeah! [laughs]

Chelsea: Or accidentally choked on his dinner. Or, like, that happens. Those are things that legitimately happen and they’re sad.

Claire: Yes, but it also happened to someone she didn’t like.

Chelsea: Yeah! Ohmygod, yeah. THe guy she didn’t like got hit by a bus!

Kay: Yep.

Chelsea: Oh my god!

Kay: And she broke that kid’s leg. And she stole that girl’s voice so she’s gonna have to drop out of school. I just, like. What the fuck?!

Chelsea: And then at the end of this book, River just becomes the next Regina George. She walks into that school and is like, ‘I own this bitch, now.’

Kay: Right? Am I reading that wrong? She doesn’t show any remorse for anything that she does.

Chelsea: No, she doesn’t.

Kay: She just thinks it’s all unfair to her. She acts like all of this is happening to her.

Chelsea: Yeah. Basically.

Kay: Ugh.

Chelsea: She’s trying to make a new start and got wrapped up with the Graces. And the Graces and their drama are what caused her to be like this. As opposed to the other way around, which is that yeah, the Graces are definitely mysterious and they have some of their own drama to deal with, but you definitely made that shit worse by fucking ocean killing one of their secret boyfriends out of petty ass jealousy.

Kay: River’s definitely the villain of the story and I’m not sure that the narrative knows that.

Chelsea: No.

Kay: Just. What?!

Chelsea: The narrative wants you to feel that sympathy, to consider her not the, or. Cause even if she is the villain, we’re still supposed to be on her side. Like. The book makes it very clear that we’re supposed to be on Team River.

Kay: Which, I’m not on Team River. I’m on Team No One in This Book.

Claire: I’m not on Team River for the romantic thing, either. All along I was like, ‘I sure hope that that guy doesn’t get together with her because that would be, like — ’

Kay: I kept hoping she would actually, like, hook up with Summer.

Chelsea: Yeah!

Kay: At least.

Chelsea: That was gonna be really awesome.

[sighs]

Claire: I felt empathy because I do in general and there are things in her experience that I recognize about, like, feeling ostracized and, whatever, but. Like.

Kay: She’s constantly judging everyone and talking about how vacuous everyone else is. And I’m just like. Okay.

Chelsea: At a certain point, just, like, everybody has shit and just because your shit is extra dark you don’t kept to keep using that as your —

Kay: You’re not that deep, Holden Caulfield.

[laughter]

Chelsea: Oh my god. Holden Caulfield. Get that name off this podcast.

[laughter]

Chelsea: And out of my goddamn ears forever.

Kay: That’s who she reminded me of most, as a narrator.

Chelsea: No, you are incredibly correct. This is a. Yeah.

Kay: So, like, if that is a thing that you enjoy, you’re really gonna love this. But I always want to set Catcher in the Rye on fire. So.

Chelsea: Yes, please.

Claire: Who loves Catcher in the Rye and also listens to this podcast, though?

Kay: I dunno. A lot of teenagers really love that book.

Chelsea: I will say, I will say if I had, the person. How do I want to phrase this? The part of your life where you read Catcher in the Rye and deeply enjoy it would be the same time of life where you could read The Graces —

Kay: And deeply enjoy it. Yeah.

Chelsea: — and enjoy it. Like, there is a lot of that kind of self-reverential self reflection on high school and the teenage existence and what it’s like in your own dramas. And given a certain age and viewpoint can be very relatable, but is not where I’m here to party as, like, an almost thirty year old woman. [laughs]

Kay: No.

Chelsea: Not what I’m here for.

Kay: This book made me feel like a bitter fandom old. Which. Like. I am. But. [laughs] I didn’t need to feel like that reading this book.

Chelsea: You don’t gotta feel like that.

Claire: Yeah, but you don’t have to be an old to be, like, nah. She, like, murdered the guy with her wish magic. You know?

Chelsea: For a really shitty reason. For her own jealousy, basically.

Claire: I mean, the thing is, like, I, as a person, am capable of keeping my own secrets.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Like, if someone tells me a secret and tells me I can’t tell. I’m good.

Chelsea: Yeah, but if you have a secret about you?

Claire: But if I fancy someone I’m gonna tell someone else about it.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: You know? I, it. Like. I, just. I’m like. The fact that she is, the fact that she is, she knows that she magical and makes bad things happen. And she knows the Graces are probably witches and she never tells Summer, you know, ‘look, you want me to do this magic.’ The fact that Summer wants her to do a spell and she’s like, ‘I’m gonna do that spell to get in with them even though I know that, like, even without doing a spell I make bad shit happen.’ That. Like. I can’t reconcile.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: You know? If someone tells you that, you have to be like, yeah no, I’m not doing this because, like I’ve seen bad things happen before.

Chelsea: I’m just not.

Kay: I’m too powerful. This will go terribly wrong. Here’s my thing. You can pretend we’re not living in a post-Harry Potter world, but we’re living in a post-Harry Potter world. And this is set fairly modern, and it makes the assumption that she has not read or heard of any kind of magic stuff except in super oldschool kind of eighties fantasy novels.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: And I just. There. No. You can’t completely divorce your work from pop culture in that way if you’re setting it in, like, a modern setting with teenagers like that. I mean you can. But I didn’t think it worked.

Chelsea: But it’s not gonna work super great.

Kay: Yeah. But your mileage may vary, obviously.

Chelsea: Yeah. I mean, to each their own. Well, in that case, uh, I am hoping that the next book, which is my pick, works out a little bit better.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]

Chelsea: The next book we are gonna be reading is called The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian. This is a male/male romance that was actually just published earlier this year at the beginning of February. This book is about the titular Lawrence Browne who is the Earl of Radnor. His small village believes that he is a madman and he is a scientist who has shut himself away in a crumbling estate working on something. And one day a new man arrives to be his secretary only guess what? That secretary is actually Georgie Turner, a swindler and con man. So I am sure we can see where this is going. There will be many a trial and tribulation and false identity to overcome, but I am really excited to dig into some male/male romance.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: Join us in a couple of weeks to talk about The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian. But until then, what does everybody have on the go? Uh, Claire? Why don’t you start us off?

Claire: Well, I’m continuing to make videos. A couple that I’m particularly excited to do in the future are the, uh, upcoming SFF Babbles for April and May.

Chelsea: Yay!

Claire: Those are video topics that are suggested in conjunction with the Booktube SFF Awards, of which our lovely Chelsea is a judge.

Chelsea: Yeah!

Claire: And, um, there have been a few topics covered already and I haven’t participated so far because I didn’t really have ideas for the previous ones. But the upcoming topics that I’m super excited about are, um, SFF books or SFF reads that you’re excited to read that are on your TBR and that’s really soon as we’re recording this and there’s LGBTQ+ SFF, of which I’ve read some really good things in the last year, so I’m really excited about that one. And also SFF by people of color. Which, like, I don’t know that I have tons to recommend, but I’m really excited to see what other people have to recommend, as well.

Chelsea: Yeah, I’m very excited for that video and also excited for the LGBTQ SFF recommendation videos that are part of that. So I’m very excited to see those lists. Kay, what are you doing?

Kay: So, again, Star Trek fanfiction recs. My Trek Rec a Day project is ongoing. Planned for 365 days at this point.

Chelsea: Woohoo!

Kay: Links will be in our show notes. And also, I’m not sure when it’s gonna be going up, but I did a fancast of The Collapsing Empire, so I’ll be sure to link that whenever that goes live.

Chelsea: Yay!

Claire: Oooh. Exciting.

Kay: Which was really fun. And I might’ve, like, accidentally started doing that fancast just in Renay’s ats the other day. And then was like, I’ll turn this into a post.

[laughter]

Kay: This seems like a good idea.

Chelsea: Which is fair.

Kay: And then I’m doing a super casual — right? Totally fair. I’m doing a super casual tweet-along of Smallville. Which, if you guys don’t know —

Chelsea: These are bringing me so much joy. I just have to say. Brings me so much joy.

Kay: [laughs] I’m a really longtime DC Comics reader and, um, Superman is not my favorite, but I do, I’ve always liked Superman, like, the good runs of Superman, which are kind of few and far between. But when you have that much canon to choose from you know you can find something. But I somehow missed Smallville. I think it started just a little too early for me to be watching it. And, like, it has not aged well at all and it’s super hilarious. And there’s lots of explosions and really ill-advised love triangles.

Chelsea: It looks super gay. Like super, super, not exactly under the radar gay. Super gay.

Kay: I really thought that the fandom was exaggerating about how gay the show was between Lex Luthor and Clark Kent. Which, if you don’t know, that’s Superman and his, like, arch nemesis, okay?

Chelsea: Arch nemesis!

Kay: The show sets them up as literal, like, childhood best friends.

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: So Clark is, literally, a freshman in high school and Lex is, like, a twenty-one year old man when the meet in the pilot episode. And then they’re best friends, ‘cause that doesn’t read weird at all. And —

[laughter]

Kay: — they’re best friends for several seasons, at least, before he becomes an antagonist on the show. And it’s just…real gay. I don’t know [laughs] what exactly the writers were doing. They have way more chemistry with each other than they do with any of the women they try to set them up with. Which is kind of awkward.

Chelsea: Yeah. [laughs] Oh, man. And Lex makes that bald thing look good, man.

Claire: Every time that a show is trying to sell you on this, like, you know, really deep romance, I said romance, didn’t I?

Chelsea: Yep.

Claire: I meant bromance. Never mind.

[laughter]

Chelsea: See, no, that’s Freudian. We knew exactly what you were saying.

Claire: Yeah. It’s like they don’t know how to up the stakes.

Kay: And it’s hard to tell how much of it is the writing and how much of it is the acting choices on this one, to be honest.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Because Michael Rosenbaum spends a lot of time eyefucking Tom Welling on that show. [laughs]

Chelsea: Which, like, is fair.

Kay: Fair! And the writers spend a lot of time figuring out various ways to get Tom Welling out of his clothes. Which I don’t blame them, but they’re sometimes really extra about it. Like he’s been thrown into fire at least twice to have his clothes burned off! [laughs]

Chelsea: But, see, that is such prime WB shit right there. When the WB was filling their demographic needs to a t and making that shit work.

Kay: Spoiler! I don’t know why anyone thought twenty-four year old Tom Welling could pass for a high school freshman, but I’m fine with that.

Chelsea: Okay, to be fair, I don’t know how anyone thought either he or Lex Luthor could actually pass ‘cause I see those gifs and I’m like, ‘well, those guys are in their mid-twenties.’

[laughter]

Chelsea: Without a doubt.

[Kay sighs]

Claire: Those guys are in the coffee shop au of your dreams.

Kay: Which, like, the two main girls on the show were actually, like, eighteen when they were cast. They actually were teenagers.

Chelsea: Little creepy.

Kay: Which makes it even creepier to me. I dunno. I dunno.

[laughter]

Chelsea: Which makes it even worse.

Kay: We’ll just not.

Chelsea: So, I guess it’s my turn, then. So, confession, guys. The last several times I’ve recorded when I said I was making booktube videos were lies.

[laughter]

Chelsea: It was lies and misdirection.

Kay: Slander!

Chelsea: I have not actually made a YouTube video in, like, forever. But that’s changing. That is changing. I am officially sitting down tomorrow to bulk film. And I have some stuff I’m really excited about coming up before too long. But I am actually, officially, be filming as of tomorrow.

Kay: Nice.

Chelsea: Yeah, so that, I guess, wraps us up for this time. We’ll go ahead and so goodbye to you all. But join us again in a couple of weeks for The Lawrence Brown Affair!

Kay: Woot woot!

Chelsea: Bye, guys!

Claire: Bye!

Kay: Bye!

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]

Chelsea: You’ve been listening to Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks, a podcast made by three online besties and all-around lady nerds. Channel art provided by Claire Rousseau. Music credits to ‘Malt Shop Bop’ by Kevin MacLeod. You can get in touch with the sisterhood at paperbacksisterhoodpodcast@gmail.com, @PaperbacksPod on Twitter, or at our website paperbacksisters.wordpress.com. You can reach Kay @kaytaylorrea on Twitter, Claire @ClaireRousseau, and Chelsea @anoutlawlife. Additional credits, show notes, and transcripts will be available on our website. Thank you so much for listening. [Double speed] No paperbacks were harmed in the making of this program.

Chelsea: Oh, probably. Well, maybe not minus the murder. There is some shit that goes down at those country clubs. I’m just saying. What are we even fucking talking about?

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