Episode #09 – Transcript

The Lawrence Browne Affair Transcript

Kay: 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: Welcome back to episode nine of Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks. This week we are talking about The Lawrence Browne Affair. But as always, we will first talk about what we are currently reading and then end the show with what we have coming up in the future. My name is Chelsea.

Claire: I’m Claire.

Kay: And I’m Kay.

Chelsea: Alright, and to start off with what we’re currently reading well. [laughs] I just finished a one night livetweet rage binge of an absolutely awful young adult book which I will give zero seconds of airtime except to say that it was a trash fire and you can scroll back through my twitter and find that entire, basically, quick read of the book. It features a lot of doxxing and stalking and victim-blaming and really icky stuff. So it’s real gross. And after that I immediately switched over to Bloodlines. [laughs]

Kay: Yay! By Claudia Gray?

Chelsea: By Claudia Gray. Yeah, mmhmm, which I’m listening to on audio. Which is the complete opposite of the young adult book in that it is fantastic and beautiful and intriguing and political. And it is about Leia, Princess Leia, Senator Organa, in-between kind of the finish of the original trilogy and A New Hope. So, in that kind of gap we see what happens to her —

Kay: Between the original trilogy and The Force Awakens.

Chelsea: Yes. Did I say…?

Kay: You said A New Hope. [laughs]

Chelsea: Oh goddammit, between The Force Awakens. It’s wonderful. It’s very on the nose. A lot of these political dealings and the debates between the separatists and those who would like to return is just, it’s just. Yeah.

Kay: I don’t think she knew quite how timely it was going to be when she was writing it, but thank you, Claudia Gray!

Chelsea: Yeah. Like, it’s really hard. There’s a particular character who collects artifacts from the Empire. And his whole thing is that it’s not that he’s super into the Empire that was, he was just really intrigued by what the Empire could’ve been if somebody super evil hadn’t taken over. But Leia’s like, yeah, bro, that’s definitely not how that works. Because you can’t have the Empire without somebody evil taking it over. That’s fascism. You can’t establish a fascist state without getting a fascist leader. Surprise!

Kay: [singsongs] Surprise!

Claire: Yup!

Chelsea: Anyway! That particularly, like, yeah. So. But it’s great, it’s. You know. It’s hittingn closer to home than I thought it would. But it’s wonderful. And especially on audio it is, I thoroughly enjoy it. So. That’s what I’m reading. Claire, what do you got going?

Claire: Right. So, um, I have a couple of audiobooks on the go at the moment. Actually, I say a couple and I mean three. I really, really like audiobooks.

Kay: Same.

Chelsea: Same.

Claire: I’ve recently, um, I used to have a really long commute and I’ve recently done like a cull of the audiobooks of the podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis because it was getting out of hand and now that I don’t, now that I work from home and I don’t have a commute any more I had to like, I knew that I couldn’t keep as many podcasts on, like, the regular commitment list. So I had to cull and it was tragic. And now I’ve listened to all my podcasts and the other day I needed to cook a meal or dye my hair or whatever and I was out of podcasts so now I have three audiobooks on the go. Because obviously I do. Um. So I am, I just started The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley, which is weird, delightful lesbians in space space opera. And when I say delightful I mean very violent, and like —

Kay: I was gonna say, isn’t there a lot of body horror in that?

Chelsea: Gross.

Claire: Yeah. Well, I just, I meant the writing is delightful.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Anyway. Speaking of, like, delightful things that are in fact, you know, very violent and horrible, I’m also listening to Born a Crime, which is the autobiography by Trevor Noah about growing up in South Africa and how, like, when he was born it was actually illegal for white people and people of color to have children together or be in relationships together and how like in the first few years of his life he was technically a crime. And I’ve just got into the bit where his mother had to throw him out of a moving bus because the minibus drivers were threatening to, like kidnap them and rape her children. So that was great. But it’s, like, it’s really well written and Trevor Noah’s reading it so, like it’s really, really entertaining. But at the same time it’s, like, a really violent time in history, you know, like right at the end of apartheid, and that’s a really violent time in history particularly for people of color in South Africa that had been, like, built up against each other by white people to, ya know, make sure that they basically stayed quiet and didn’t take over even though they were the majority of people in South Africa. So, like, it’s just fascinating. But it’s tough to listen to.

Kay: Awful.

Claire: It’s so incredibly different and it really it really brings home privilege in a way that you, like, you know, his mother tells him to run and he just runs, because, like I’ve always known if my mother tells me to run I just run, there was no, you know, there was no questioning it for him, there’s no what’s going on? Whereas I’ve never had to run from anything and my parents have never had to tell me to run from anything and what? And um, yeah. It’s weird to read, but it’s certainly very interesting. And the other thing I’m listening to is Freedom Is a Constant Struggle, which is interviews and articles with and by Angela Y. Davis which.

Chelsea: That’s a great collection.

Claire: Which is political and timely and great.

Chelsea: Alright, Kay. What about you?

Kay: Reading all the things as per usual. I literally just started The Hate U Give, which I’m very, very excited to dig into.

Chelsea: It’s so good. It’s so good.

Kay: And I’m doing that on audio, I know, and it has a really great narrator. I usually listen to audiobooks on double speed and I’m only listening to this at 1.25, so that tells you how much I’m enjoying the narrator.

Claire: I normally listen at 1.25 and I listened to The Collapsing Empire on, like, normal speed. Which is to tell you how much I was like —

Chelsea: Oh my god, that would kill me. I listen to my books at at least 2.5 if not 3. I would die at regular speed. I would die. I would. Oh my god. I could not do it. Props to you.

Kay: Yeah, I can’t do regular speed. It drives me bananas.

Chelsea: I feel like they’re literally talking through molasses.

Claire: I can’t do more than 1.25 anyway. I can’t do more than that, I guess maybe second language. I don’t understand it otherwise. And, like, I’m so used to Wil Wheaton’s voice anyway from various things, like I watch his boardgame show on YouTube a lot. That’s one of my I will stop everything and watch it when it comes out. So you know. I was just, you know, I this is weird. Because, you know, his voice sounds funny at 1.25 speed. So.

Chelsea: Anyway. All the things. So The Hate U Give is wonderful.

Kay: All the things. The Hate U Give. I also just finished an e-galley of The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord, which is a contemporary YA. I’ve never read any of her other books, but I’m definitely gonna check them out now. It was really good. It’s, I feel like the blurb was maybe misleading, but it’s basically the story of this, she’s a rising senior in high school and her mom has been in remission from breast cancer since her freshman year. And just as the school year is letting out for the summer her mom’s cancer is back. She’s having a double mastectomy.

Claire: Oh, no.

Kay: She’s gonna start chemo over the summer. It’s really good, though. So instead of spending the summer helping out with the weekly summer church camps that their parents run, because her dad is a pastor, her mom wants her to have a ‘normal’ summer and sends her to be a counselor at the camp across the lake from where they are that they call the hippie camp. But it’s actually, I don’t want to say it’s a camp for ‘troubled youth,’ but it’s basically a camp for troubled youth. And it’s lovely and the ensemble of characters is wonderful and very diverse. And I thought it had some of the most beautiful, clean prose I have ever read in YA. I loved it a lot.

Chelsea: Oh, wow. That’s awesome.

Kay: It’s really great. And then I do just wanna shout out, I was putting together a fic rec list for someone and I reread — because I can’t [laughs] I can’t rec things to people without accidentally rereading at least one thing and I don’t think I’ve actually recced anything by copperbadge on the podcast before.

Chelsea: Not that I can recall.

Claire: I mean, you’ve recommended copperbadge as, like, an entire body of work before for sure.

Kay: Literally read anything by this fanfic author. Copperbadge is amazing and has posted several million words of amazing fanfiction on the internet over the last decade in all of the fandoms. But this one is called Brothers in Arms and it’s basically almost immediately post-Winter Soldier. The summary is ‘Bucky Barnes gets a tune-up, a new pet, and a home.’

Chelsea: Awwww.

Kay: And I just. That’s all you need to know.

Chelsea: My heart! It hurts!

Kay: It’s so wonderful. You should go read it. It’s only, like, 10k.

Claire: Is this new?

Kay: It’s not. It’s a couple years old. He wrote it, like, almost right after —

Claire: [indignant] How did I not know about this?

Kay: I don’t know.

Claire: What!

Kay: It’s kind of a character meditation on Bucky and Tony. And copperbadge’s Tony is my favorite fandom Tony.

Chelsea: Seconded. Hard seconded.

Kay: Really good, really good.

Chelsea: And I love Tony.

Kay: But anyway. That’s most of what I’ve been reading. There’s obviously more things, but those are the things I really recommend everyone check out.

Chelsea: That’s fair.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Chelsea: Alright, well in that case let’s go ahead and talk about the book for this episode. We read The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian. This is a male/male Regency romance?

Kay: I actually didn’t check. It’s historical, I’m not sure if it’s Regency.

Chelsea: Technically? I dunno. I mean, it’s definitely historical fiction, but I don’t know if it’s considered Regency.

Claire: I feel like people tend to call historical romance like Regency romance in general.

Kay: I don’t know that it was in the Regency period, though. So.

Chelsea: Yeah, I don’t know if it’s technically.

Claire: It has lords. It’s Regency. Whatever.

Kay: That’s not how that works.

Claire: I’m sorry.

Chelsea: Oh, well. Well, it okay. It’s a male/male romance about Lawrence Browne who is deemed ‘the Mad Earl of Radnor’ and he lives reclusively in a crumbling estate and he wants nothing to do with people. He considers himself to be a progenitor of madness. He comes from a bloodline of a father and brother who also ‘went mad.’ Until one day a new secretary shows up to help get his life in order, Georgie Turner. Spoiler alert: Georgie Turner is also a con man and a swindler who originally comes to basically thrift the earl of whatever he can to get out of some trouble with some dangerous people he knows in the city. But, as is wont to happen, they fall in love. And it’s adorable.

Claire: Yes.

Chelsea: And Georgie helps the earl realize that he might not be as insane as he thinks. And the book touches really well on found family and actual family and mental illness and it’s wonderful.

Claire: It’s so good.

Kay: I liked it a lot.

Chelsea: Or at least that’s how I felt about it. Ladies? I loved this book.

Claire: It’s delightful.

Kay: This is the first historical male/male I have ever read. I don’t read a ton of male/male romance, but a lot of people are like ‘well, I don’t want to read about depressing things’ and I’m like, okay, but LGBTQ+ people have had fulfilling relationships throughout history. And here we have a wonderful fluffy, not totally fluffy, but lovely relationship between two men in a historical period. It was wonderful.

Chelsea: Right. This is the kind of romance we want to see. Mean that like. Yes, there are problems, nothing is perfect, but also they can be flirty and happy and have a happy ending and balance the two out just like straight romance. Because that’s how romance works. And that’s how life works.

Claire: I mean, I’ve read, I’ve read a few straight historical romances and that, that book felt very much in the same way except one of the obstacles to overcome happens to be the fact that Radnor has been told his entire life, Lawrence has been told his entire life, including by his father who’s, like, the worst, that, that being attracted to men is sinful and terrible and all that —

Chelsea: [laughs] I’m so sorry, Claire, but there’s that line where he talks about how his father would rail against sodomy, comparing it to being Catholic and French, and I highlighted it and I was like ‘oh no, Claire!’


Chelsea: Claire just got compared to a sodomite for being French, poor Claire.

Claire: But it’s hilarious, because —

Chelsea: I know it’s very historically and culturally accurate, but I was like — oh no!

Claire: His father is railing against the gays, the Catholics, and the French. And it’s like, I have no problems with the gays, the Catholics, or the French. So —

Kay: I was like, I literally know so many Evangelicals who would still rail against the Catholics, the French, and sodomites, soooooo.

Chelsea: I was immediately, like, no! Claire’s French! This is gonna be so on the nose. Oh, Lord. But that’s the thing. Lawrence is coming from a history of homophobia, basically. Verbal abuse.

Kay: Physical abuse.

Chelsea: And repressed homophobia, internalized homophobia. Whereas Georgie is coming from a, very much so, an upbringing of ‘hey man, you do you.’ Which —

Claire: He’s coming from an upbringing of as long as you have something to eat and you’re not starving it’s pretty much okay. I really like the comparison that you see when you’re in his point of view where it’s like ‘well, you know, I have like stolen money from people, like, literally, so you know, one thing to have sex with some guy who wants to have sex with me isn’t bad.’

Chelsea: On the scale of sin, so to speak.

Claire: You know, like compared to stealing money.

Chelsea: So I loved Georgie. I loved George Turner so much.

Claire: Loved Georgie.

Chelsea: My thing about Georgie is that he knows how to be the best kind of partner to somebody who deals with anxiety and social anxiety.

Kay: [screeches] Yes.

Chelsea: The pitfalls that can come with that and it’s handled so beautifully in this book. That gave me just all the warm fuzzies, like times a million, ’cause it was so good.

Kay: And the way that he acts like that’s just what you should do, where a lot of people who are partners or family members or friends of those of us who have severe anxiety kind of just, are like, ‘you need to just suck it up’ and like that kind of attitude. Whereas Georgie is like, ‘I’m going to do everything to make your environment as comfortable as I can. I’m going to try and keep things from changing because I know that that helps you to deal with your anxiety.’ I’m just like, you’re just so lovely!

Chelsea: And it’s that great balance, because at the same time, Georgie doesn’t just let him stay in his — he’s like ‘okay, we need to get this house fixed, but I know that loud noises affect your anxiety, so we’re gonna soundproof your room so you have a place to go.’ So it’s that balance of not just letting Lawrence be that recluse he’s used to being and completely stay shut away so that he doesn’t trigger his anxiety. He’s able to strike that balance and through that is able to kind of help Lawrence overcome some of those triggers and start to work on recognizing that having anxiety doesn’t make you crazy.

Kay: And I liked that he had severe sensory perception problems, and I don’t know if she was writing it as an extension of the way his anxiety manifested or as something else. Perhaps he was on the autism spectrum, because I thought he maybe did read a little like that.

Chelsea: I got that several times.

Kay: But I loved the scene where he finds the clothes? And Georgie had taken his old clothes to the tailor and so the cuts were the same and they were just a little nicer, but that way the things that he was wearing would fit and feel the same? Which is really important for people with sensory processing issues.

Chelsea: Sensory processing, yeah. And there are several times where Lawrence mentions he wants to do the things that people think are right, but he doesn’t understand how and why people do the things they do and how they know how to do the things they do. Which, not boiling down anyone on the autism spectrum to a single set of identifiers, but that is a trait that can be common amongst those who identify on the spectrum, is the inability to recognize social cues and how and why other people follow those social cues. So while it’s not made explicit, I too thought that there was some of that in the representation that the earl has. And so. I dunno. Just all of that combined with him being perceived as kind of this local mad scientist shut-in maybe-witch devil worshiper?

Claire: Which, like, at the end when you figure out why that’s a thing, when you figure out why? It’s just.

Kay: She didn’t want people to bother him!

Chelsea: Which like. Aw.

Claire: Which, one of his servants who he’s, like, legitimately wondering why she hasn’t left because this is, you know, this is a servant who’s been abused, including raped, by, like, his brother, and so he’s like, why isn’t she leaving this house? She can leave?

Chelsea: Why is she still here?

Claire: She can leave. So that’s something, like, that’s something that would be triggering for her or that’s, you know, that’s a place of trauma for her, why isn’t she leaving? And, you know, he has her wellbeing in mind the whole time. When he hears she’s one of the only two servants left he’s like of all people why her? That he wouldn’t have thought she would stay.

Kay: Which, it’s not like all of her motives are pure, because she is also using his estate as a smuggling den. But that’s just kind of what you do.

Claire: But that’s okay, because Cornwall?

Chelsea: And I like that that’s her justification. She’s like, guys, we live in Cornwall. Of course there’s gonna be secret smuggling going on on the property.

Kay: Of course.

Chelsea: Duh.

Claire: I love that at the very end, at the very end, Radnor says to Georgie, she doesn’t need to tell people I’m mad to, like, get them away from my house or from the stables or whatever. It’s Cornwall. There’s gonna be smuggling.


Chelsea: Yeah, the back and forth. I will admit that I was, hm. I was not super cool with that just as a general, like, rooting for Larwence. You don’t go just telling people he’s a devil worshipper and telling people he’s sacrificing shit for magic just to hide your smuggling ring. That’s not cool. Not cool. Man.

Claire: I thought the thing with the baby’s caul was a bit weird. Because it turns out at the end she stole it to give to her nephew, her son who’s in the Navy. Because as a ward against drowning. And I was like, if that’s a thing that people know about then why didn’t she, like, ask for the thing? So weird.

Chelsea: Yeah, why wouldn’t you just be like yeah, I would prefer that my nephew or son not drown. Can I have your caul? Or can I pay you for that caul?

Claire: I don’t know, is it because they’re not friends? I don’t know.

Chelsea: My thing is, Lawrence has a lot of money and he doesn’t really seem to care much what happens with it. So you could probably just ask him for some money to buy a caul. To give to your son on the ocean that will somehow keep him from drowning.

Claire: But she doesn’t want money from him. He’s tried to give her money to set her up and to set up her son and she didn’t want it. And it’s like, well, you’re allowed to process that however way you want.

Chelsea: That’s fair.

Claire: But. But I just like that, one of the ways we establish, like, who is a good guy in quote, in the book, is the way that they take care of Lawrence, you know? Not just Georgie and not just Sally, but also, like, um, his friend who he’s been writing to? Who, you know, his scientific friend he’s been writing to who turned out to be a woman!

Chelsea: Yeah!

Claire: She’s super smart and she fixes everything for him.

Kay: I love Lady Standish.

CLaire: She’s like how can I help you? You know, she’s like how can I help you?

Kay: Also he has a therapy dog! He has a therapy dog!

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s super great.

Claire: So great.

Chelsea: Barnabus, his giant therapy dog.

Kay: [whispers] So great. So great.

Claire: His giant therapy dog who’s also his wingman.

Chelsea: [laughs] Yeah.

CLaire: His giant therapy dog who’s also like oh you wanna sleep with that guy? I’ll just sleep in his bed so he has no room and he’ll go sleep in yours.

Chelsea: The guy who rescued Georgie from the giant water trench? That whole scene was just. I am such a sucker for any Regency romance rain-based scenes. I just can’t help it.

Kay: Can we talk about the sexy bits for a second?

Chelsea: [gasps] Can we please?!

Kay: All of them were so great!

Claire: Yes, please.

Chelsea: They’re so good.

Kay: From their very first encounter it’s like, I mean, this is great, Cat Sebastian. I will take all of this, please and thank you!

Chelsea: All of it. All of it! The kissing was really good in this book and kissing is not usually something in a romance book that I think is great. Because there’s a limited range of ways to, like, make kissing —

Kay: Describe that?

Chelsea: — attractive on a page. But I thought Cat Sebastian did a, a bang up job, pun intended.

Claire: Heyyy.

[Kay laughs, makes rimshot sound]

Chelsea: Working blue, guys, working blue. What can I say? When he gives him a bunch of jewelry at Christmas time and then they get it on and it’s so hot? It’s so good! Oh my god, it’s so good.

Claire: I loved that, because in a way it was, you know, Lawrence realizes that there’s something going on with Georgie and he doesn’t realize the full extent of it, but he’s like kind of figured out that Georgie is a thief because he knows things a secretary wouldn’t know and also he’s told him that he wasn’t a gentleman. So he’s, like, I’ve figured it out, you know, maybe I don’t, okay, you clearly don’t want to steal from me cause you’re telling me to hide my signet ring.

Chelsea: You’re telling me to hide my shit so you don’t steal it, yeah.

Claire: He’s all so I’ll just give you some other random jewelry so you don’t have to bother about it. Here, you wanted money and you don’t want to steal it, I’ll just give you some shit that I don’t want and you know in the middle of that Georgie is like, okay, well, this is great because I didn’t want to swindle you and now I don’t have to and oh, this piece is great, is it by this person? Oooh!

Chelsea: Yeah. Oh, man.

Claire: He, like, cares so much about, like, how he’s, you know, uh, he cares so much about, like his fashion and —

Kay: He’s a dandy and I like that.

Chelsea: Well, and there is something that is really hot about the different power dynamics when you have a male/male relationship and you have physical forbearances and strengths that are different than you would in, like, a het romance, necessarily.

Kay: And there was a severe size difference between these guys.

Claire: But I also really liked that you had so many different power differences between them that it didn’t feel, like imbalanced at all. Like, he’s really enormous and that’s kind of hot, but also, like, when he comes —

Kay: Georgie sure can take care of himself.

Chelsea: Georgie’s, like, a little scrappy. He’s a little scrappy guy. It was great.

Claire: And of course Georgie is a lot more comfortable with, like, social interactions and with his sexuality and so that’s a slight different power imbalance between them and it’s very much…

Kay: They both have their strengths. I love that this did not go straight for ‘we’re immediately going to have anal sex the first time we hook up.’

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Because a few of the male/male romances, like, that’s not the be-all and end-all of gay sex. I think it’s maybe the fourth or fifth love scene in this book before that even comes up as a thing they might be interested in doing. A+. Yes.

Claire: Yeah, it’s after they’ve said that they love each other for sure.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: Which is great, because there are lots of diverse ways of showing physical affection in a gay relationship just like there are in lots of other relationships. Which is a theme, if you’re not quite picking up on it, yet.

Claire: But this is funny to me to hear that because, uh, I think this is the first male/male romance that I read that was an actual published book and not fanfic and it’s, like, in fanfic it’s so rarely goes straight to that, you know? In fanfic it’s very often, particularly, maybe in the pairings that I like to read, where, like, being friends for ages or being enemies for ages. It’s just not a thing that happens, straight away. And so yeah. It would’ve seemed very strange to me if it had.

Chelsea: This felt, when I was reading it, had a very fanfiction pacing. To good effect! I thought that was, like a plus in its column.

Kay: Yeah, I thought the pacing in this overall was just really well done. I felt like all of the little reveals were separated out a really perfect chunk of time inbetween each thing. Oh, great, I’m learning something new here, something new here. Here’s this change. Which is really hard! Sometimes I’ll read a historical romance and I feel like the pacing is really uneven. There’s not a lot happening for the first third and then it’s kind of racing to the end, or things will wrap up really fast in the last ten, fifteen percent. And I thought this did not do that which I really appreciated.

Chelsea: I agree. Sometimes, for some reason, romance books can make me feel a little anxious. And I think it’s because there’s that one big thing that each character has that is gonna, that they’re gonna have to have the talk about and it’s usually very heavily alluded to and hinted at and it’s supposed to create the tension, but for me that just makes me really anxious. [laughs] But this has, this kind of takes that same tension and breaks it up into smaller bits throughoout the book so we’re getting those smaller reveals and we’re getting the information that satisfies those reveals. Like you were saying Kay, it’s nice paying, it feels like it evenly flowed and I feel like it just really gives space to love these characters. To love Lawrence and to love Georgie and to love how their love cements together. I just thought it was great. And they do that really sexy thing where he’s like, ‘I’m gonna stand her and I wanna kiss you, but I’m not gonna do anything. So if you wanna kiss me, my lips are ready for kissing.’ And I’m just like oh, it’s my favorite trope. Scene. THing that happens. It’s so good.

Kay: One of the things, one of the big things in romance is you have the romances and the conflict between the hero and heroine is either very internally or externally motivated, and I have a large preference for there are external motivations keeping them apart. Because I think if it’s almost entirely internal things that are keeping them motivated, it’s a lot harder to keep the action of the story going and you just, it takes a very different kind of writer, that there aren’t that many of, to do the internally motivated romance well. And I thought this actually did a really good balance of both. Which you almost never see.

Chelsea: Yeah, there’s this really nice kind of, it’s nice because I feel like in a lot of these books there’s this idea that Lawrence had that he’s adopted that he is crazy. And I feel like in a lot of romance books he’d have that idea and we’d spend most of the book fighting that idea in him and convincing him to kind of come around. But in this book we reach that point about half of the way through. And Lawrence says yeah, you know what, maybe I’m not crazy. And we can move on from that point and then we can talk about other things and kind of other things can develop in that and I just felt like that was a nice change of pace in a plot point that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.

Claire: And it’s the same, actually, internalized homophobia where he’s like I can’t do this it’s bad blah blah blah, that kind of uh, he’s kind of accepted, you know, he’s kind of accepted halfway through that next to his father and his brother have done this is not hurting anybody and it’s making him feel safe.

Chelsea: And it’s totally fine.

Claire: And it’s totally fine! And, you know, the mix, you’ve got the mix of the internal and external because there’s some internal stuff with Georgie, like he doesn’t want to betray Lawrence, but he doesn’t want to steal from him, and he’s also got this, like, I must make sure that my family is safe and yeah. You could very easily have something where it’s like, up to the very end of the book a tug of war between, like, their internal grapplings and at the ned Lawrence just says I have money and will pay off Mattie Brewster and your family will be fine! And that woulda been, ya know, that woulda been such a poorer book.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: I kind of expected that and I’m so glad that it wasn’t.

Chelsea: Yeah. I want to read the novella about Georgie and that old lady he didn’t swindle. I wanna read that book.

Kay: By the way, Cat Sebastian’s first book was about Georgie’s brother.

Chelsea: Oh!

Kay: And the guy he’s living with in this one. And the next book, which I definitely immediately pre-ordered after I finished this one.

Chelsea: Natch.

Kay: It’s Lord Courtenay’s romance with Julian Medlock.

Claire: What?!

Chelsea: [singsongs] It’s gonna be so good!

Kay: So that’s gonna be delightful.

Claire: Enemies to lovers?

Kay: The Ruin of a Rake.

Claire: Oh my god, enemies to lovers.

Kay: So, that comes out in July and I know I will be reading that. [laughs]

Claire: I just bought the first book immediately. [laughs]

Kay: Yeah, I checked it out from my library immediately.

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s gonna be. Oh, by the way, her covers are A+. Cat Sebastian’s covers are A+. They’re great. Steamy.

Kay: I was kind of sad he didn’t have the beard on the cover in this.

Chelsea: He does a little bit! It’s, like, a tiny one. It’s like a little tiny one. He’s got a little ginger beard in there, it’s cute. Oh man. Alright, any favorite parts? Any not favorite parts? Anything major?

Kay: There wasn’t really anything I hated about this book.

Claire: No, I loved it.

Kay: There weren’t really any aspects I didn’t like.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Which, I usually have some kind of quibble.

Claire: So also, Cat Sebastian is delightful on twitter, you guys should totally follow her.

Chelsea: Yeah, she’s wonderful. I started following her as soon as I finished it.

Claire: Um, favorite lines? So you’ve already mentioned one of my candidates for favorite line which is when he has the sentence about his father railing against the sodomites, Catholics, and the French.


Claire: But my other one is, like, really early on, i think 15% in the book and it’s Georgie kind of reflecting on things as he’s just started working with Lawrence on his, like, contraptions. By the way, Lawrence is just inventing the telegraph, low-key ya know. No big deal. Whatever. Um, but he says, ‘For one reckless moment he thought maybe honest work wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all, but no. If a man were born in the gutter, honest work couldn’t take him far enough away from it. He would always be able to smell the stink of the gutter waiting for him with one month’s missed rent, one costly doctor’s visit. Georgie wanted to be safer than that. He needed to be safer than that.’ And like, I read that first line and I bookmarked it cause it was funny and then I read the rest of it and was like, well, shit Cat Sebastian. Well played.

Kay: Meditation on poverty and, like, there is so much greatness in this book.

Claire: And at the end he has this conversation with his sister where he’s like, you can wallow in like guilt if you like about swindling rich dudes, but like, you did, you did what you had to do and like now you can make a decision with your new circumstances in place, which are different, and, like, don’t punish yourself for what you had to do to not die like all our friends from when we were growing up. [laughs] It was just like oh, oh no. So sad. Please be happy now forever.

Chelsea: Done. Checkmark.

Claire: And they’re gonna build a new house. So that they don’t all have terrible memories.

Chelsea: I love the Grey Gardens vibe that their house had going on, though. Dilapidated welat thing. I mean, i wouldn’t want to live init, but. What’s your favorite part, Kay?

Kay: Oh, God. There’s so many good ones! I highlighted so many, just like, one-liners in this. I think my favorite was probably…okay, I’m gonna do two, but they’re both really short.

Chelsea: That’s fine.

Kay: So the first one’s, this is Georgie, internally, ‘It was as if after a quarter of a century of blithely not giving a damn about anybody, he had accrued a surplus of damns to give.’ Which I thought was so lovely. And the other one is, ‘Then Radnor flashed him one of his rare smiles, and Georgie felt simultaneously like he had been given a precious gift and like he had been hit in the head with a shovel.’

Claire: Yes!

Chelsea: Aw.

Kay: Which, you know that feeling. [laughs] You know that feeling.

Chelsea: It’s so good. That’s so good. Oh, man.

Kay: There love is just so pure!

Chelsea: It’s so good, you guys.

Kay: Precious cinnamon rolls, too good for this world, too pure.

Chelsea: My precious anxiety babies.

Claire: This moment, you know this moment when you love someone and they do something that’s, like, entirely them, you know? Like, it’s fucking typical. And they do it and you’r elike oh my god, I love this nerd so fricking much. I thought that was conveyed really, really well in this book. And that’s just —

Kay: I love how they just hopelessly adore each other.

Chelsea: They just love each other so much. And they tell each other so openly and her just unable to not be in love with each other.

Claire: And when, like, when Simon has just shown up, Simon is Lawrence’s kind-of adoptive son, and he’s just shown up for a holiday and Georgie’s had to badger Lawrence to come down and not be horrible to his adoptive kid, and, and —

Chelsea: I know that line you’re talking about Claire.

Claire: Lawrence comes down and he’s like wearing this, like, really proper clothes and like at some point he calls Georgie by his first name, by mistake, when they’re talking, and, and he can see Georgie’s face kind of doing something weird, and then he’s like, well, I’ll try to, like, be proper, but I’m not gonna like hide how I feel about him, that’d be nonsense.

Chelsea: Yes. It’s so good.

Kay: And Georgie spends that whole scene just trying not to like stare at Lawrence which I really appreciated. [laughs]

Claire: Which was kind of halfway between, like —

Kay: Like, I already thought you were hot, but now you shaved and you’re in proper clothes and I’m having an issue here.

Chelsea: I’m having an issue being around your eight-year-old son. Who’s causing me some concern.

Claire: I dunno, I just feel like there’s such a, there’s never a threat. It’s so happy. THere’s never a threatening moment.

Chelsea: No, and there’s a scene right before that where Georgie is talking to Lawrence trying to get him to come down. And he says, ‘Meet your son. Know him. Let him know you. Let him love you Lawrence. I know it’s hard, but you know it’s the right thing.’ And I’m just. Like.

[Kay fake cries]

Chelsea: And I’m dying. You can see how much Georgie loves Lawrence and knows that Simon will love Lawrence. And knows what it’s like to have a shit dad.

Kay: And when he tells him he’s going to be a wonderful father?!

Chelsea: I am dying. I am dying.

Kay: Just. We love their love, guys, if you can’t tell from this flailing conversation.

Claire: I’m just so relieved cause like so many, so many straight romance novels that I’ve read have like this shitty ohmygod the girl’s gonna be kidnapped and like then he’s gonna have to save her and blah blah blah and just, like, can they not just fall in love without having someone be threatened, or can the threat not be something that they are, like, managing? Like Georgie is managing —

Kay: In fairness, Georgie is kidnapped and Lawrence has to save him. In this. [laughs]

Claire: He’s not, like, kidnapped, he gives himself up. He decided that’s his plan, which is stupid.

Kay: He gave himself up and then he was kidnapped after he left the prison. So. [laughs] I know what you mean.

Chelsea: I think that some romances are just really heavy on the banter, and this one has banter, but some romances are so banter-heavy that they just feel really sassy? And this one felt very cute.

Kay: Which I do love me some sassy romance, but.

Chelsea: And this one wasn’t sass-free, but I felt like this one was much sweeter at times and I just really appreciated it. Their love is just so good, guys.

Kay: What was your favorite part, though, Chelsea?

Chelsea: Oh, yes. We haven’t talked about it yet, but I know Kay mentioned it on twitter. The dedication to this book is just, like, top notch, A+.

Kay: [squeaks] It’s so great!

Chelsea: So, I’m just gonna read it because it’s wonderful. ‘This book grew out of stories I had been telling my children about an inventor who had a giant dog and an anxiety disorder that closely mirrored mine. I probably don’t need to explain that I told my kids these stories to teach them and maybe remind myself that love and life are possible even when every fiber of your being wants to be in a pillow fort. This book is for everyone who needs that reminder, from my pillow fort to yours.’ Um. Yeah. And it’s just, like, you know. As somebody who knows that pillow fort, and knows what that feels like, I just, like, opening the ebook and reading that first thing. [sighs]

Kay: I was immediately here for it after reading that dedication.

Chelsea: Yeah. I was like, Cat knows what’s up. Cat Sebastian knows, like, what’s up. If this is gonna be a book about anxiety, like, I’m gonna be here for this.

Claire: It made me want to build a pillow fort.

Chelsea: But that, I just thought that was. It may not be part of the book proper, but it really set the tone for Cat and the content and character of this book and how well that was going to play out. So. A+. A+ from all of our respective pillow forts. Okay, well, do we have any other final thoughts or things we wanted to say about the book?

Kay: Mostly I’m just super pleased that both of the historical romances we read dealt so well with mental illness.

Chelsea: Yes. Affirmative.

Kay: And also found family feels. Like, kudos to us for picking these books, and kudos to Tessa Dare and Cat Sebastian for being generally awesome.

Clairee: It’s just, it’s just so generally delightful. I don’t think there’s anything I didn’t like about it? Like, I’m five stars-ing this.

Chelsea: I would say this is probably among the favorites we’ve read, so far, for the podcast for me.

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: Definitely.

Kay: And it was new to all of us.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]

Chelsea: So, okay.

Kay: Great picking, Chelsea!

Claire: Yeah!

Chelsea: Aw, thanks guys. Thanks, guys. ‘Cause it totally was done beforehand. Without any support from you two. At all. Whatsoever. Even a little bit. [whispers] That’s a lie. Which is exactly how it happened. Um, okay. So the next book we’re gonna be reading is called Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger. Is that how we’re saying that? Krueger?

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: Okay. This is an urban fantasy with an Asian-American female narrator, basically Bailey Chen is back home. She doesn’t have a job. She’s out of college with no parental support. Things with her boyfriend aren’t necessarily great. But he introduces her to a group of bartenders who are also monster fighters. So by night she’s slinging cocktails, and also fighting soulsucking hellbeasts. And, uh, I’m here. For all of those things together. This was Kay’s pick, we haven’t really done any urban fantasy. Especially urban fantasy with non-white dude narrators. So.

Kay: Also, it’s set in Chicago, which I always enjoy.

Chelsea: It is set in Chicago. I did not mention that. But yes. It’s also gonna be about cocktails and what sound to be pretty awesome monsters. So that, we’ll be coming back in a couple weeks to talk about it. Until then —

Kay: By the way, Paul Krueger is great follow on twitter. I haven’t read this book, yet, but I’m a big fan of him as a human being.

Chelsea: Oh, cool. Always a solid endorsement. A twitter follow for you guys to add. What do we have going on in the future, guys? Anybody have anything good? Claire? Wanna start us off?

Claire: Well, I just uh, put out, uh, last night, my uh Hugo Award reading project. Um, so.

Chelsea: Woohoo!

Claire: Talking about the things that I’m planning on reading for these Hugo Awards which, you know. List just came out. It’s wonderful. We’re gonna record another episode to talk about it. So you’ll get to hear more from us, but I’ve already done a video running down what I’m planning to and what I’m not planning to read.

Chelsea: Sweet! What about you, Kay?

Kay: Got a couple new Book Riot pieces since the last time we chatted. I don’t know if I mentioned last time, but I did a fancast of John Scalzi’s newest book.

Chelsea: [singsongs] And it’s so good!

Kay: Which I had a lot of fun doing, so that’s John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire, which is the first in his new space opera series. Wil Wheaton did the audio. I had a lot of fun being like, there’s no white people in this book, I’m just gonna fancast no white people.

Chelsea: Hashtag Dev Patel in everything forever, for life, for always.

Kay: [happy sigh] No one left me any nasty comments so far.

Chelsea: Really?!

Kay: Which I was really shocked by. So, like, kudos internet on not being a dick.

Claire: Especially cause Scalzi retweeted it or something?

Kay: And then I have another one coming up that I wrote, like, in celebration of hockey playoffs because I’m that person. So Stanley Cup finals, um, are gonna be soon, Stanley Cup playoffs start this coming week as we record. So I think it’s the twelfth of April would be the first games. And I put together a recommendation of a couple of hockey romances for people to read to get you through the playoffs if you’re stressed out.

Chelsea: Are those all original fic romances?

Kay: Mmhmm. Yep.

Chelsea: Just checking. Just curious.

Kay: They’re so, they’re all really lovely. Um, and then I have my just standard Trek Rec a Day project which you probably have heard about by now if you are listening to this podcast.

Claire: It’s just amazing.

Chelsea: Woohoo!

Kay: But I’m doing a Star Trek fanfiction rec every day for at least 365 days. We are past the 240 mark right now.

Chelsea: It’s gonna be rad. And you have plenty! So that’s always a bonus.

Kay: And I just realized I had more than 365 in my planning document cause I misnumbered some stuff, so I might actually make it all the way until the show’s premiere daily recs, but we might just cut that at 365. We’ll see.

Chelsea: Stay tuned for the final decision on that one. Alright, well then, I guess the only thing I have going on is we’re just about wrapped up with the Booktube SFF awards.

Kay: Woo!

Chelsea: Woohoo! May is our last month for readalongs so I will make sure the Goodreads is in the show notes. We read an adult, a young adult, a short work and a graphic work. Sometimes we double up on the shorts and graphics depending, but we’re reading a lot of good stuff. We are reading The Obelisk Gate and we are reading Descender and Saga and some super rad short fiction by Brandon Sanderson if that is, uh, your jam. It is not my jam, but if that’s your jam you go right on ahead. Um, but yeah.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: I was going to say, I was surprised that you called short fiction by Brandon Sanderson super read because it didn’t seem like your sort of thing.

Chelsea: No, it’s not. But also I’m not gonna like throw hate on one of the most popular authors in sff.

Kay: Can he write short fiction?

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: That’s an actual question. That’s not, like. I was like, ‘short’ scare quotes, or…?

Claire: No, he’s written short —

Chelsea: Basically he writes a lot of short fiction that takes place in the universe that he’s created.

Kay: Ooookay.

Chelsea: So.

Kay: That’s cool.

Chelsea: He writes a lot of short fiction and, like, lore and background stuff into short fiction. He occasionally writes other stuff. Like, I have read all of his books, I actually loved the Mistborn books. I’m okay with The Way of Kings. I’ll keep reading them because it’s just one of those things where, like, I mean, I feel like it’s one of those stay on top of it —

Kay: I mean, I don’t really read epic fantasy. I’m not really familiar with his oeuvre.

Claire: I read Mistborn, but I could not stick with The Way of Kings. And I don’t like, I don’t mind long books, but it was too much for me.

Kay: They’re fucking long.

Chelsea: They’re just huge. And I listen to ’em on audio, which, again, I think definitely helps because you don’t have to carry around those giant physical objects with you.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: Like, one part of it is they’re a thousnad pages, ya know, like.

Chelsea: Oh, yeah. Each one’s a thousand pages. But I guess my thing is —

Kay: That’s a trilogy.

Chelsea: Oh, no, it’s like a twelve it’s gonna be like a ten book thing.

Kay: No, no. When a book is a thousand pages long, I’m like, ‘You should’ve written that as a trilogy.’ Which I know is not how people feel about epic fantasy, but like. That’s three books!

Chelsea: That’s the thing. He could not do that. This is gonna be like a twelve book, thousand page thing. It’s gonna be huge.

Claire: He can’t do that because after, at the middle of that thousand page book I still didn’t know why I should care about any of the characters.

Chelsea: Oh. meh. I didn’t hate it that much, I just had a hard time focusing for a thousand pages of anything.

Claire: I’ve not really been meh on a Sanderson book before. I’ve either really liked them or been like why. So.

Chelsea: I mean, I got halfway through Words of Radiance. I just think it’s tough, because I find myself in that struggle of, like, I don’t want to read a thousand page book that has a bunch of cliffhangers at the end. If I’m not gonna remember it by the time the next book comes out. But I also don’t want to wait thirty years of my life and then have fifty hundred million thousand pages of this SFF series to read. So like. Whatever. I don’t know. Jury’s still out on whetehr or not i’ll actually read it. But I will give, I think he’s gotten enough people past the gates of the genre that I’m not willing to just totally —

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: — hate as fervently as I know some people who most definitely do. Um. But yeah.

Kay: Those books were never gonna be For Me, but I’m here for people bringing new readers into SFF, so.

Chelsea: Yeah, man, so like I said, if that’s your jam, if Sanderson is your thing, that is totally cool. I can dig that. It’s just not my personal cup of tea. But yeah, anyway. Join us for the last month of the SFF Booktube Awards, and then we’ll be having our live show and final, uh, judges voting release thing probably at the beginning of June.

Kay: Nice.

Chelsea: But that’s about all I’ve got. So I guess we will just go ahead and say goodbye. Join us in a couple of weeks for Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger and, uh, we’ll talk to you guys then. Bye!

Claire: Bye!

Kay: Bye!

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, @PaperbacksPod on Twitter, or at our website 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: Cheers to happy gay lovers finding happiness and love together. Cause that wasn’t a redundant sentence at all!


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.


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!


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.


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.


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


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.


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 —


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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?


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.’


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?


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.


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.’


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.


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?


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]


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!


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.


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.


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


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.


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 —


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.


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.’


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.


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.


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, @PaperbacksPod on Twitter, or at our website 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?


Episode #07 – Transcript

Kay: 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: Hello, everyone! And welcome back to episode seven of Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks. As always, today we’re going to talk about what we’re currently reading. Then we’re going to talk about our book of the fortnight, A Trifle Dead by Livia Day, before moving on to our next book and what we have ongoing in the future. My name is Chelsea.

Claire: I’m Claire.

Kay: And I’m Kay.

Chelsea: And to start off with what we are currently reading, I just finished up two things, one of which I really, really enjoyed and one of which I did not. Um, the one that I really enjoyed was Hillbilly Elegy, the audiobook. The subtitle is Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by JD Vance. And this essentially looks at culture of poor whites, um, mainly in places like rural Appalachia and along the Rust Belt, and how, um, some of the kind of, um, social and cultural and family institutions align with and clash with government regulations and government institutions to lead to, um, just a really kind of poor culture and a cultural poverty along with a fiscal poverty that is really interesting. My mother’s family largely hails from Ohio and from the Ohio and Virginia area, so there was a lot of stuff in there that I really recognized. I’ve read narratives similar to this, but always from racial backgrounds that are not white. So I just thought it was really interesting. And then the book that I really did not like [laughs] was The Trials of Apollo, the first book of The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. So here’s my thing. I have, like, one quibble with this book, but it is a huge fucking quibble.

Kay: Okay!

Chelsea: And it is that throughout the entire book, and the whole story is the, the story of Apollo pining for his one true love Daphne, who turned herself into a tree. For some reason. And hi. That’s not how that fucking myth went down. And so I understand it’s a middle grade book, but there’s a lot of stuff behind the Apollo and Daphne myth that gets into like consent and rape and sexuality.

Claire: Did she not turn into a tree to escape from him?

Chelsea: No, exactly. That’s the thing. In the book it’s glossed over, as Apollo just really wants to date her, but like, it’s just a bad set of circumstances ‘cause he pisses off Cupid and Cupid hits Daphne with this arrow and she doesn’t love him and she turns into a tree and he doesn’t know why. And he just really misses her and Daphne’s his one true love and it’s just like but that’s a very not okay way of putting that myth?

Kay: It’s not a particularly mindful way of adapting that myth, no. [laughs]

Chelsea: And especially for a middle grade audience, and I understand that discussing rape with a middle grade audience is not something that like you’re necessarily going to do as an author, nor do I think it’s something that you should do, but at the same time, maybe then don’t go into the Apollo and Daphne myth. Like, maybe just don’t go there. Because this is one of those Disney-ification moments where, if and when the kids ever learn the truth of this myth, that’s gonna be a real gutpunch to a lot of these kids.

Kay: And the Disney-ification is kind of literal here, right? ‘Cause aren’t these books published by Disney-Hyperion?

Chelsea: Mmhmm, yes. They are. Exactly. And it’s literally that. It’s the, instead of the racial oppression, it’s the sexual oppression version of Pocahontas and John Smith and how all of that played out in the Disney movie.

Claire: But you know that, like, somewhere Daphne is like high fiving Cupid and they’re having, like, drinks together and she’s like ‘thanks for telling Apollo that you cursed me.’

Chelsea: Exactly.

Claire: So I could escape him. Cheers, you got my back, friend.

Chelsea: Well, and it’s just, like, I guess my problem with the narrative is that it flips this story that is really about how awful Apollo is to not just leave Daphne the fuck alone so she doesn’t have to turn into a tree —

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: — and it turns it into a fridging of Daphne as a tree and how now we need to feel bad for Apollo.

Claire: But Chelsea.

Chelsea: Because now he’s really sad.

Claire: He’s such a nice guy.

Kay: ™.

[Chelsea groans, Kay and Claire laugh]

Chelsea: I’m like, don’t get me wrong.

Kay: I wish everyone could see the pained expression on our faces right now.

Chelsea: I’m like, I can’t. I can’t even look at my webcam and look these ladies in the face right now. Don’t get me wrong, because, like, Apollo is. I like this book because it introduces Apollo as a bisexual narrator and it very on the page names and addresses his bisexuality and the fact that he was in love with both Daphne and Hyacinthus. And I get that, and that is cool. Yeah for that. But we can yay for that while also being like why the fuck do we have to turn Daphne’s story of basically almost being raped by Apollo into a fridging narrative in which we now have to feel bad for him? I just. I just. [sighs] I feel cleansed, you guys. I feel like I got that out.

[Kay sighs]

Chelsea: I feel better about my life. But! So that was [laughs] what I’ve been currently reading. Somebody else talk. Claire, you talk.

Claire: So.


Claire: Let’s talk about tapeworms.

Chelsea: Oh my god!


Kay: Are you? [laughs] Are you, are you reading those for the first time?

Claire: I’m reading Parasite by Mira Grant!

Chelsea: Oh, god. Yay.

Kay: Is this your first time reading those?

Claire: Um, yes it is. I have the, I have the physical copy of Parasite and I started a while back and then put it down for no particular reason at all. I’m just terrible at finishing books that I start. And then I treated myself recently with the audiobook because I was just like, fast-paced, want a book. Whatever.

Chelsea: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Claire: I, I was telling a friend of mine about my Seanan McGuire tattoo that I want to maybe have at some point and I was describing to her how badass Seanan is by talking to her about her CDC adventures when researching the Feed series, which is great. Seanan McGuire gives great interviews.

Kay: She does.

Claire: And so if you’ve never heard her speak you should definitely listen to some of her, like, book tour appearances and interviews and panels and stuff. But when I listened to some of those to, like, show my friend, I was like suddenly remembering that I never actually finished those books. So I immediately needed to restart the series and so this is that, it’s Parasitology. The first book is Parasite. And it’s in a future where, um, the hygiene hypothesis that says that we’re basically too clean and we don’t interact with our world enough now so our immune systems are going into overdrive and hurting us instead. So that hypothesis, that’s a medical hypothesis that exists right now, in that universe has been proven true. And one company decided that obviously the best way to combat that was to give everybody medicalized tapeworms that are, you know, modified to be safe for the human body. And you take them in a pill form and they’re fine and safe and everything except, of course, because it is a Seanan McGuire book even though it’s under Mira Grant name, that ends up triggering some kind of weird apocalypse where the tapeworms take over the brains of their hosts and start, like, just sleepwalking. You have a company that develop this for profit, they’re obviously hiding something, and or a lot of things. And it’s just great. I’m enjoying it a lot at the moment.

Chelsea: Yeah. Seanan as Mira writes such good medical stuff.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Like, she writes such good medical science background to the worlds that she creates that it’s just really great.

Kay: Can I say a thing about this series real quick? Non-spoilery.

Claire: Yes.

Chelsea: Of course.

Kay: I am 99% sure I’m remember this correctly. It was originally a two book contract.

Chelsea: Uhuh.

Kay: That got extended to three.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Yeah, she said that.

Chelsea: Very cool.

Kay: And it reads like it.

Chelsea: Awww.

Kay: It reads like it.

Chelsea: That’s unfortunate.

Kay: And that’s never been a problem for me with Seanan before, but it really felt like there was not enough material for three books. So I think that the second and third books drag. Which is unfortunate.

Chelsea: Yeah, that’s unfortunate.

Kay: Cause the worldbuilding’s really cool and obviously the prose is gorgeous. But. Yeah. Just a warning.

Claire: I mean, I’ve already bought the audiobooks for the second and third book, because I definitely clicked like buy three credits at once.

Kay: And the audio for those is good, yeah.

Claire: And I’m like meh. It’ll be good for the gym.


Chelsea: That’s always a good response. What’re you reading, Kay?

Kay: All the things. I’m reading all of the things.

Chelsea: Always.

Kay: Now, let’s see. Uhhhh, I read more Austen since last time we spoke. I finished Persuasion. Again. On audio. Again.


Kay: Read by Juliet Stevenson. Because she’s a boss. Um, I also accidentally, uh. This is a thing that happens in my life. I accidentally read things. I accidentally reread Deathly Hallows because I was on a road trip with my brother-in-law and my sister and my brother-in-law was listening to the audio in the car.

Claire: Oh, fair.

Kay: So. That was a thing that happened.

Chelsea: I mean, that’s a good book. There’s nothing wrong with Harry Potter on audio.

Kay: Watching his face while he was driving and listening to it was amazing.


Kay: He’s, like, the most Gryffindor person I know.

Chelsea: Awwww.

Kay: So, just, picture our relationship. I am this tiny evil Slytherin and he is this giant, like, bleeding heart Gryffindor.

Chelsea: Bear Gryffindor.

Kay: And we’re both listening to that book. So just, like, enjoy that mental image. And also —

Chelsea: Awww. that’s a hard book to listen to while you drive. That’d be a hard one to listen to and drive.

Kay: [laughs] It’s a hard book to listen to while you drive. Final Girls by Mira Grant.

Chelsea: Oh, okay.

Kay: Which, I really should’ve looked up the release date on that, I read my ARC and it was great and I can say almost nothing without being super spoilery, so just it was real great. Um, and then The Simplicity of Cider by. I’m so sorry, I should’ve looked up how to say her last name. Amy E. I think it’s Reichert? But I’m probably wrong.

Chelsea: Okay.

Kay: R-e-i-c-h-e-r-t. It is her third book and I think. I would say that her first one, A Coincidence of Coconut Cake was romance I think the second two were probably more women’s fiction, just based on heat level.

Chelsea: Okay.

Kay: But, I mean, it has a lovely romance. Um, and it’s about this girl who lives on, they’re like fifth-generation orchard owners in Wisconsin. And she and her dad are the only ones still running the orchard. And she is a cider maker. And a gentleman and his young son come to help them out for the summer. And there’s just a lot of feelings and lovely romance and there’s a reappearance of the couple from the first book in, like, the final act in a really fortuitous fashion and I love when authors do that.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: And it was just really sweet. It was just fluffy and wonderful, you know?

Chelsea: Oh, that’s cute. And sometimes that’s just all you need from a book.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Speaking of, is that about it?

Kay: Yes. Yeah.

Chelsea: Is that all you’re reading?

Kay: I’ve been reading a lot of fanfiction. I’m trying to think if there was anything I needed to like, rec from that.

Chelsea: Anything of particular note?

Kay: I mean. Yes. Probably.


Kay: I don’t even remember what prompted me to read this because it’s been forever since I’ve watched White Collar or even been interested in reading White Collar.

Chelsea: Weird.

Kay: Someone must’ve recced it somewhere. Um, but it’s copperbadge.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Who I just blanket recommend as a writer. He is wonderful.

Chelsea: That’s a good. Yeah.

Kay: I don’t think I’ve ever read a bad copperbadge story, which is insane, because he’s put, like, four million words of fanfiction on the internet.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: This one’s called Jeffrey Nullier’s Man With Fedora.

Chelsea: Huh.

Kay: And I. I think, I would call it case fic. Probably.

Chelsea: Okay.

Kay: It’s about 20,000 words and it’s just a wonderful little Neal character piece, basically. And it’s just great.

Chelsea: Okay.

Claire: I’m literally just looking up what White Collar is cause I’ve never heard of it.

[Kay giggles]

Chelsea: I was gonna say, I have no basis or knowledge in the White Collar fandom. That was never a show that I, like, hopped on.

Kay: Okay, so White Collar I literally, I think I only watched the first season and then after that I was like, ‘That’s all I needed from this.’

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: Um, but, I think the White Collar pilot is possibly the best cable tv pilot I’ve ever seen.

Chelsea: Really?!

Kay: It’s brilliantly done. Yeah. It’s so good.

Chelsea: Wow.

Kay: And I think the cast on that show is excellent.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: It’s why we have Matt Bomer in our lives. That’s what White Collar is.

Chelsea: Well, that’s always a blessing.

Kay: So.

Chelsea: Always to be remembered as a blessing.

Kay: Other than that whole playing a trans person when you are not a trans person thing.

Chelsea: Ewww.

Kay: I’m real down on that.

Chelsea: I mean, you know. But who hasn’t done that. Eddie Redmayne.

Kay: I just kind of expect white gay men to let down the rest of the LGBT community and maybe that is unfair of me, but it’s just kind of historically held out as a thing that happens. So.

Chelsea: Yeahhh. No, I’m with you on that one.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]

Chelsea: Alright, well in that case, we will go ahead and switch gears a little bit to talk about our book of the podcast.

Kay: Yay!

Chelsea: We are talking this time about A Trifle Dead by Livia Day. Livia Day is a pseudonym for Tansy Rayner Roberts, who we also love. And we really, really enjoyed this one. This one is a cozy mystery. Is that right? I dunno. I don’t know anything about mysteries. It says on Goodreads that it’s a cozy mystery.

Kay: So, mystery classifications are slightly different in Australia. So, like, this one doesn’t fall neatly into any of the subcategories in American mystery.

Chelsea: Okay. That’s fair.

Kay: It’s like borderline cozy and just, like, mainstream mystery.

Chelsea: It’s about Tabitha Darling who owns a coffee shop slash cafe. She is a pastry chef. And one day she is kind of hanging out at home and her upstairs apartment neighbors are a band and they find a dead body in some kind of weird rope trap, uh, in the closet of their apartment. This, of course, brings local police and local media personalities around. All of whom interact with Tabitha. Tabitha has lived her whole life in Hobart. Her dad was the police chief and basically she knows everybody. So it is just, as most mysteries are, the story of how she becomes more and more involved with the case. We get the big reveal and then a very nice little wrap up. There’s lots of really great stuff in this book. Like I said, it is set in Hobart, so it is definitely an Australian book. And it reads as one, at least to somebody who doesn’t read a lot of books set in Australia.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: Which I thought was really nice.

Kay: In a good way.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. It also has, it’s incredibly funny. Tabitha, I thought, was a badass narrator. I just absolutely loved hanging out with her for, like, the entire time of this book.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: And it’s about coffee and there’s just so much, so much going on here.

Kay: You will be so fucking hungry when you read this book.

Chelsea: Yessss.

Kay: You will be so hungry. Just, just as a warning.

Chelsea: 75% of my bookmarks are about food.

Claire: It actually made me want to bake!

Kay: And there’s recipes included. [laughs]

Chelsea: Yeah. I actually wrote those, cause I have a library digital loan, so it’s gonna go away eventually. So I actually wrote those recipes down for when they take my book away.

Kay: Good call.

Chelsea: Yeah, if you are in any way interested in, like, baked goods or sweets. Or especially if you’re a coffee person? Like 75% of my bookmarks in this book are just, like, that sounds delicious. I want one of those.

Kay: Food descriptions. Yep.

Chelsea: That sounds so good. Um, yeah. I thought this book was cute. I liked this book. I did not love this book.

Kay: I want to know what you didn’t like, first off. Just like.

Chelsea: Okay. Well, my first thing, and this is just a quibble that I have. I don’t like reading dialect.

Claire: Oh, yeah. That annoyed me.

Kay: Was the Scottish annoying?

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah, it’s the Scottish thing. And like, like, granted, this is just me as a reader, but, like, I can be told that a character is Scottish and then read his lines as such, going forward in my mind. It, it visually bugs me and kind of takes me out of the story to see the dialect spelled out and written out. But.

Kay: So, that is actually a regional publishing thing.

Claire: Aw.

Chelsea: Is it? Okay.

Kay: We tend to not get that in ours. A bunch of Australian stuff I’ve read they write out the dialect like that.

Chelsea: Interesting. That’s like, a. That’s interesting.

Kay: That might be a false assumption on my part, but like multiple awesome things I’ve read have had things like that.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: And it could just be a lack of, because it’s not something that really ever happens when I’m reading American fiction, they will have characters with dialect, but they won’t actually write it out. Unless it’s for very specific, like, stylistic purposes, usually.

Kay: And, like, historically we had that in American publishing. But now it feels kind of dated.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. But just. Yeah. It feels, yeah.

Kay: Yeah:

Claire: And also word choices and there’s plenty of ways to indicate someone’s Scottish without just mentioning repeatedly that they’re Scottish. Which still happens. Because other people refer to him as, like, the Scotsman, or whatever. Um. Sort of, kind of —

Kay: His swoony accent.

Claire: But, you know. And, you know, she can refer to his swoony accent because I personally think Scottish accents are kinda swoony as well.

Chelsea: Oh, yeah, I have no problem with that part.

Claire: It just, it just feels weird to have it written out, because it’s a relatively everyday thing, you know, for me. So the fact that the Australian accent, the Australian, like, dialect and the way that they talk, which sounds very Australian and is, like, for me, very, very weird. That’s not what I hear every day.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: That’s written out normally, but then you’ve got the Scottish accent being spelled out as more than just like here’s a word choice that he. Yeah. I dunno.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: It was a bit jarring at first.

Chelsea: No, yeah.

Claire: I kind of managed to ignore it after a little while because I thought, like, once you’ve gotten into the story.

Chelsea: Yeah, and it didn’t bother me enough that I stopped reading. And that’s, like, a very line edit specific thing. I think, for me, the reason, like, for me it was just a very. It was a fine book. For me it was just a three star book. And I think it’s just because something about either the characterization or the pacing felt off, at times, for me. And it felt like this was, as opposed to the first book in a series, a second or third book in a series. And I just felt there were times where some relationships or plot points kind of hinged on their being some kind of, like, emotional weight or investment that hadn’t necessarily been built yet.

Kay: Okay.

CHelsea: And I don’t know if that’s because, if it was a, again, a pacing thing, or characters.

Kay: How much mystery do you read?

Chelsea: Not a ton. That’s what I was gonna say second. Is that I don’t know if it’s —

Kay: I think it’s a genre thing.

Chelsea: — in the writing itself or if it’s just a, a function of mystery genres.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: That I’m not familiar with just because I don’t. I read, like, true crime mysteries.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Like, I don’t read, like, cozy mysteries and, like, mystery fiction, like, hardly ever. So. It could just be a lack of familiarity with some of the tones and, like, way that things function in mystery.

Kay: Which that’s still a failing on the part of, like, the work and not on your reading of it.

Chelsea: No, no, no, yeah. I understand that.

Kay: But it is more of a genre convention, there.

Chelsea: But I can definitely cop to, like, that being something that would not necessarily bother you if, like Kay, you are more familiar with, like, how mysteries function.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Like, as a genre and as a bigger piece of work.

Claire: I definitely thought it read a little bit weird, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what it was right now.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: And if I. I think there are a lot of times in this book where I was reading it and I kind of, you know, they mention something and I was like oh! Oh, is that a thing? Okay, then. Kind of, um, at some point we find out that, um, her dad died. Like. I mean. Just, another character who hasn’t lived in Hobart his whole life says, ‘Oh, your dad passed away, didn’t he?’ or something.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: And then she confirms and clearly everybody else knew it before. And there’s just not really been, like, a lot of reference to it even though she’s thought about her dad a lot.

Kay: Oh, okay.

Claire: And it’s like she’s in denial and that makes sense, but, like, I wasn’t sure whether it was intended to be jarring or whether it was just me missing things as a reader. Which, like, I do reasonably often.

Kay: I thought that was super telegraphed with the police guys showing up at her cafe and hanging out all the time trying to make sure she was okay. Like, to me that was clearly something going on with that and not just they’re coming by to check up on her.

Chelsea: Oh no, see, I didn’t even. That didn’t register for me. Maybe I’m just a bad person, maybe it was the way —

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: — that because he was never actually there in first person, I always assumed that he had passed away. And I understand that, like, textually she only ever says that he has moved to Queensland and we don’t actually find out that he’s actually dead until much later on in the book. But, like. Because the way that she talks about him is kind of, is mostly in memory and in the past tense.

Kay: Yes.

Chelsea: And because he never appears as his own represented character in the book, I just kind of always assumed he was dead. [laughs]

Kay: Yeah. [laughs]

Chelsea: Maybe I’m just a bad person.


Chelsea: Um, so maybe because I’d already assumed that that particular scene didn’t feel like a, like a reveal, really. I was just like, oh, were we? Did we not? I thought it was a bigger reveal when we found out that, uh, what’s his name? Not Butler. What’s his name?

Claire: Bishop?

Chelsea: The cop? Bishop.

Claire: The cop?

Chelsea: Bishop and Xanthippe are related. Like, I thought that was more surprising to me than when we found out that her dad died.

Claire: Yeah.

Kay: [skeptical] Really?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: All the things you guys were thinking were surprising I thought were really clearly telegraphed. So I think this might be a function of I am more of a mystery reader and I was just kind of picking up clues.

Chelsea: That is entirely possible.

Claire: I think the big twist at the end, which I don’t really want to say because I do want people to read this book, like.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: Of whodunnit. Um. I think that worked really well.

Chelsea: Uhuh.

Claire: In that way that reading the book something happens and you’re like ‘oh shit. Oh, that guy done it. Oh my god he did it, oh he totally did it!’

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: And she doesn’t know yet. And it takes her a couple of pages for her to be like ‘oh shit, he totally did it.’

Kay: I thought it was paced perfectly.

Claire: And you spend those pages going, like, ohmygod ohmygod. Like, I, I started reading this book in the morning when I was having my breakfast. And I was getting through, you know, 5-10% of it. Two to three days in a row, ya know, in the morning. And then I, and then I took the book to bed on Saturday night, on Friday night, to read some more. Um, and I was at about, you know, like 30% or something and then I just finished it.

Kay: Yep.

Claire: So, you know. Clearly I was just, like, oh, well, I’m not, I’m not like falling asleep tired yet. I’ll just finish this ‘cause it’s good fun.

Chelsea: See. This is what is so weird to me. ‘Cause. It wasn’t. I didn’t ever have to force myself to pick it up, but I also at no point was racing through it. But, like, I don’t know why it is, but I just. ‘Cause, instead of. ‘Cause I’m impatient as a reader. I think part of the reason I don’t necessarily like mysteries is I’m just like I just wanna know who fucking did it. Like all the way. The suspense part works for me.

Kay: The journey is not the point for you with mysteries.

Chelsea: No. No, no, no. Like, the suspense part works for me. Like, it builds the suspense, but to the point where I’m frustrated that like I’m like I don’t even fucking care about all these other people and what they’re doing and this painting and I just wanna know who is killing these people? Like, why are we all talking and other normal shit is happening when we should all just be finding this murderer? Like. And I just. It’s so. And I don’t know why! Because I love procedurals.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: I love them, too.

Chelsea: I love mystery and thriller-based television shows. But there’s something about it.

Kay: And I don’t!

Chelsea: I know! Which is, like. Like. And it’s just so.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: And it’s just so close to the tension making me want to read faster to find out, I’m actually just mad at the book for not —

[Kay giggles]

Chelsea: — just, like, getting the fuck on with it, already. But then every mystery page, every story would be, like, fifteen pages long. So. [laughs] Maybe I should just read mystery short stories.

Kay: Did you like that there were several smaller mysteries woven in?

Chelsea: Hmmm.

Kay: Or that didn’t help at all for you?

Chelsea: I think the fact that one of the mysteries had to do with an electrified ping pong ball was just a little too much in the realm of, like, silly for me to really be, like, super invested.

Claire: That was so creepy!

Kay: I’m gonna put out there that that was part of the big mystery and I thought it was super clever, but that’s fine that you didn’t like that. I mean more, like, um, Stuart’s thing with Di. I don’t know how much we wanna spoil this.

Chelsea: I thought that was really cool.

Claire: I thought that was great.

Chelsea: I thought their relationship was great.

Kay: I thought all the reveals in this were great.

Chelsea: I thought that was brilliant.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: I thought that the whole thing with Darrow and what he was doing and why Xanthippe was looking for him, I thought that worked.

Kay: I thought that subplot was great.

Chelsea: Really well. I really liked, I actually really liked Stuart except for the part where he kept, like, super violating her privacy by publishing things about her in the news. And then she would be like, ‘why did you do that?’ and he’d be like, ‘it’s okay, I’m Scottish and I’m cute! Give me coffee.’

Claire: Did. When did he do that apart from the, um. I thought it was just, like, the time that, like.

Chelsea: I mean. He published pictures of her and Bishop kissing. And lured her to that party.

Claire: But, like, he like, there’s literally a bit where he says, ‘That’s not my picture. The one that I took of you is more flattering.’

Chelsea: Well, yeah, but he’s still taking her picture to then eventually put it on. I dunno. He just felt, to me, like, several times he, like, violated. And even if it wasn’t necessarily a violation of privacy, it was a violation in a way that he knew she would not like.

Claire: I was annoyed with him when.

Chelsea: And then they were just, like, cute together.

Claire: I was annoyed with him whenever he, like, took interviews of people at her cafe and then published them and it was really obvious from the photo that he was in her cafe. Cause like, he knows she’s gonna get in trouble with those cops. And when she tells him Bishop’s gonna kill me, like, I’m gonna get in trouble with this guy. Who’s a very, you know, a friend of mine and maybe also I love him. Like, when she says that to him, he says, ‘Oh shit, I didn’t think of that.’ And apologizes. And it’s like, what? Okay fine, I. Like.

Kay: I feel like, in fairness, she’s going on the assumption he should know things.

Claire: If someone gives you the keys to a place so you can paint it, it’s not okay to bring strangers there.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Especially if that place happens to have a cash register. Just saying

Chelsea: And I dunno, I just felt like it was really sketchy of him to take her to that club knowing something is going to happen and not telling her. And just like, and I understand the point of it in the plot is that it’s a sketchy thing for him to do.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: But we moved on from that really fast as opposed to that. For me, that would’ve been a bigger violation of like us and our relationship.

Claire: I thought she was more concerned about Xanthippe being involved in that bit than really him. I thought she was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, like, that was dick move for him to do, but also is my old bff a murderer?’

Chelsea: Yeah. I dunno.

Kay: Here’s my thing —

Claire: I dunno, also she listened in on him talking to someone on the phone when she’s in the bath, ‘cause she’s like, ‘I know that the acoustics in my bathroom are magical and because plot I can hear.’

Chelsea: Yeah, but she doesn’t have a blog that she’s gonna publish that shit on later. Taking advantage of their relationship for his own personal, like, employee gain. Whatever. He’s cute and he’s Scottish and we’ll just leave it on the level.

Kay: Here’s my thing with the Stuart relationship versus, um, my brain just died. What is the policeman guy’s name?

Claire: Bishop.

Kay: Bishop.

Chelsea: Oh, Bishop.

Kay: I thought so, but then I was like no, that can’t be right. So Stuart versus Bishop. I thought that, like, the way that she wrote them was, like, to clearly indicate different things about Tabby. Because she knows Stuart for, like, ten seconds before she’s letting him have a key to her place and literally she knows him for, like, a week by the end of the book.

Chelsea: Yeah. Something like that.

Kay: And you see how much more trust and, like, she’s willing to place in him. Rather than someone who she knows she can trust and rely on who she’s known for a decade. And I thought she was setting that up as a really interesting contrast. But I can totally understand why that wouldn’t work for you. And obviously he does various sketchy things for plot reasons.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: But I was okay with that. As a plot device.

Claire: What I was okay with —

Chelsea: I did not hate this book. So none of these things are big enough quibbles for me —

Kay: No. I adore this book.

Chelsea: — to not read it anymore.

Kay: But yeah.

Chelsea: But there were a couple, there were just a couple points where, if it had been me, we would probably not, like, kissed and made up and moved on quite as quickly.

Kay: Yeah, yeah.

Chelsea: As Tabitha and Stuart did a couple of different times.

Claire: The way that I was bought in with this is that like she meets Stuart. She immediately likes him because he’s Scottish and is hot and his arse looks good, right?

Chelsea: Also, yes.

Claire: And she’s like, ‘Oh, well, Bishop. I’ve known him forever and if it wasn’t for, like, my dad and the fact that he was all that, you know, we would definitely have boned, but now it’s never gonna happen.’ So she sets it up in that way and then it becomes very quickly clear, to me, anyway, when I was reading it, that the fact that, like, she and Stuart have moved into, like, this is just gonna be an easygoing friendship. And it’s very clear to, like, Stuart that he’s stepping into a situation where she and Bishop have known each other for a really long time. They have a lot going on and he’s just not getting into that because, like, you know. That’s not. The fact that there was even a whiff of a love triangle at the beginning of the book? I was like oh god, no.

Chelsea: Uhuh.

Kay: But you know I wouldn’t do that to you. [laughs]

Chelsea: Right!

Claire: And then, like, I thought the way that it was handled, you know, the transition between well, you know, Bishop and I could’ve got together ten years ago but now it’s never gonna happen, to like, uh, I kinda want to have his babies. That was fairly smooth to me. And the same with the Stuart relationship where she’s like I’ve just met him. He’s hot. To, like, this is actually like a good, dependable friend. And we’re gonna be friends. Like, she does snog him at some point later, but she’s just escaped a murderer, so that’s, like, you know. Whatever. Fine. That happens. Also if she wants to snog random people —

Kay: Feel free.

Claire: — I’m not gonna slut shame her about it. But I just thought that was generally really well handled.

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: Sometimes there are people you just know this is going to be a beautiful friendship. And it is possible for that to happen when you, like, both fancy each, when you both think the other person is attractive. And also when you both, like, are good friends. I dunno. It’s just a thing that’s possible that you never see.

Chelsea: Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with having friends and being like we would both be okay with kissing each other and also we’re okay with not doing it for the sake of this other, better thing.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: Yeah. Because yeah. Because circumstances and context are things that exist.

Chelsea: I will say, and this is just, I am so used to love triangles that when this wasn’t that it was weird to me to read it.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: Not bad-weird. Just you are so. I’m so predisposed to see that, two adult males and one female working out in that kind of conflicted way that to see this book not do that and not do that very early on was like actually super rad. Really unexpected and kind of surprising but also really, really cool. Any stuff we loved really, really hard?

Kay: I have two favorite things about this book.

Chelsea: Mmkay.

Kay: And the first one is the way that Hobart is basically a character and how, like, richly drawn this world is. It’s just great. And it feels like such a real place even though I have obviously never been to Tasmania.


Chelsea: Also yes.

Kay: And my second thing is this book has, like, maybe my favorite ensemble in a mystery ever. I love, like, everyone in it. Everyone feels like a real, fulsomely drawn character in this. And all of their interpersonal relationships felt real and complicated and like they had rich history. Which you almost never get in mysteries with big casts. I love it so much.

Claire: I was less, I was less sold on the Xanthippe and Darrow subplot, where I, because I just didn’t have as much of the context and the backstory, you know?

Kay: Mmhmm

Claire: I was less sold on that. It was a combination of things I thought worked super well and I was 100% onboard and things where I was like, okay, I can take it or leave it. It’s fine. You know. When you’re saying, Kay, that for you this is a solid three star book or eh.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: That’s how I felt about the bits that I liked less about it.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: I have to say, I really liked the reveal of the bad guy, which obviously I’m not gonna say.

Chelsea: No, yeah.

Kay: Uhuh.

Claire: But I really liked both the moment that I already mentioned where you first realize that it’s him.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: And you put everything in place and also, like, just the reasoning behind it and the kind of, like, explanation afterwards. And the, like, sometimes you get to the end and you’re like, there has been so much contortion in order to make it possible that we didn’t know immediately who it was and, like, that wasn’t a thing here at all. So, um, that was great.

Chelsea: I think, something that I really need to come across, in all the thrillers and mysteries I read, is kind of like Claire was saying, that oh shit feeling when all the puzzle pieces drop together and you realize your protagonist is in maybe not the best situation. And that, like, gut twist feeling, like that needs to be there. Like, I’ve read several mysteries where they get to that moment and it falls flat for various reasons and this one didn’t. So I really appreciate that that.

Kay: The banter with everyone in this book, like, I thought the dialogue was so good. Really sharp.

Chelsea: It’s A+. It’s A+.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: They do that great thing that happens a lot with cop shows. Where they have that taciturn cop who’s just playing very straight man, but just has that one line that is hilarious and just plays very, flat and very kind of straight man, and it just cracks me up.

Kay: Like, did you just make a joke right now? Really? Did you just make a joke right now?

Chelsea: Exactly. Oh man, alright. So yeah. I guess, unless anybody has —

Claire: Wait! I’m I, was just like, I found mine. Sorry.

Chelsea: No, you’re fine. No, no, no, I wanna make sure we get everything.

Claire: Sorry. So, like, there’s a point that, like, fucking cracked me up cause I did not expect it. Um, but then when it happened I was like this makes total sense because it’s the kind of thing that happens to you if you’ve lived somewhere for a long time and it’s not even necessarily if you’ve lived in a small town, thing, right. But when you’ve lived somewhere for a long time, you run into people.

Chelsea: [laughs] Yeah.

Claire: And so, at some point, the bad guy, who shall remain unnamed, um, you know, has our heroine with him and they are, like, walking through a crowded area. And he clearly just, like, wants to have a clean getaway, but, like, she knows everybody.


Kay: Literally everybody.

Chelsea: Everyone, yeah.

Claire: And so, like, they’re just walking and he’s like be quiet, whatever. And someone’s like, ‘Oh, hey, Tabby! How you doing, Tabby?’ And she runs across fifteen people and, like, the line is, ‘By the time we reached the floral clock I had also been greeted by two regular cafe customers, my favorite bank clerk, and a couple of Ceeg’s gamer friends.’ And it’s just like, it felt very true to.

Kay: Yes.

Claire: Not a lot of this book which is about growing up in a small town felt very true to my own experience, of like my life, because I’ve always lived in larger cities. But like, that particular bit of neighborhood thing, like, I got my phone stolen in the street, like, four weeks ago and literally five minutes later I ran into someone I knew whose phone I could borrow.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: so, like, so it was just like. It felt so real and I was like yeah, that would totally happen. And it’s another one of these things that you never see anywhere in fiction, um, but yeah. [laughs] That was delightful.

Kay: There’s a really great line I bookmarked about that hold on. Let’s see. Where she talks about the freaky Mount Wellington Ley Lines. ‘Not real ley lines, just things connected to other things. Coincidence is a common thing around here. It’s a small city. Everyone is everyone else’s ex-boyfriend or -girlfriend or significant other of non-specific gender. We have about one and a half degrees of separation and we blame the mountain. Because it’s there.’


Kay: I was like, that’s yes. Yes.

Chelsea: Yes. Very much so. Yes.

Claire: Also, I finished reading this book and immediately used my Kindle to buy the second one. Which is not something I have done before.

Chelsea: Oh, yay! That’s great.

Claire: So, yeah.

Claire: I did not do that. But good for you.

Kay: I like the second one a lot, too.


Chelsea: I just don’t think cozy mysteries are my jam. I just don’t think there’s enough…

Kay: That’s fine.

Claire: I didn’t think they were. But.

Chelsea: There’s just not enough blood and guts up in there. Plus I, just, like, there was smooching, but there wasn’t enough smooching to be like…smooching smooching.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: So I was just like, what’s happening here? Oh man. I guess I’m just too used to romance now, so if there aren’t at least, like nipples in it, I’m like why are we even bothering? With this.

Kay: Oh, no. Did me making you read romance ruin you for other genres that only have a slight sliver of romance?

Chelsea: Probably. No, not even a little bit. Whatever. Should we go ahead and talk about what our next book is gonna be? Because I’m actually really excited. I think this one sounds really, really awesome.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Chelsea: Tell us about it, Claire. Tell us about our next book.

Claire: So our next book is going to be The Graces by Laura Eve. And this is a book about witches. Or, at least, everyone said The Graces were witches. This is a YA novel about a girl who moves to a new town and, or, this is a girl about, this is a book about a girl who lives in a town where everybody is obsessed with this family, The Graces, and says that they are witches. They’re glamorous and apparently magical, but is this what’s really going on or is it something a bit more dangerous than, uh, than just, you know, a good old coven of witches? So I picked this because I’ve heard of it a bunch, I’ve met the author at a couple of events and it’s just been at my radar and I thought it would be great for our, you know, coven of the podcast to read about witches.


Claire: And I’m really excited.

Kay: Huzzah!

Chelsea: It sounds really awesome. It’s giving me a lot of, um, The Witches of Eastwick vibes with the cover, and so I’m really excited.

Claire: Yeah, the American cover is, uh, I like the American cover a lot more than the UK cover, which, uh, doesn’t have —

Chelsea: Is that the red one? Or the pink one?

Claire: Yeah, the American one is red and the UK one is more blue with pink shells on it. It’s fine. But I like the red better, obviously, ‘cause I’m me.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: No, we’re all surprised by that.

CHelsae: I know, shocked and amazed. Alright, well we will be back in a couple of weeks to talk about The Graces by Laura Eve. Until then, uh, what can they find us doing? What do we have on the go? Do you have anything, Claire?

Claire: Well, I’m still cranking out videos on the YouTube channel. I’m always trying to do more and do blog posts and things, like that, but I’m kind of terrible at it, so that tends not to happen. One things that I’m quite excited to record in the next, uh, week or so, um, is a video I was inspired to do after everybody was gushing about Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it was the 20th Anniversary and all the gifs and images and quotes that were coming up on twitter. I was just listening to the musical episode and having feels. So I found myself a, uh, Buffy the Vampire Slayer book tag that has, like, twelve questions related to characters from the series and I’m super excited to do that.

Chelsea: That’ll be fun. That sounds like a fun tag topic. What about you, Kay? Are we at a year, yet? Are we at a year of Star Trek, yet?

Kay: [sighs] For those new to the podcast. [laughs] Uh, I have a project on Twitter where I am posting a Star Trek fanfiction rec. Every day. Until the new show premieres and I have been doing that since this past August. And they keep pushing the premiere date of the show.

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: So it sounds like it’s gonna be premiering either late summer or early fall.

Claire: Oh, Kay.

Kay: And at this point, at this point I am planning to end it at 365 days. I have enough fics lined up that I can do this.

Chelsea: Woohoo.

Claire: Super.

Kay: So, we’re just gonna keep on keeping on with that. And I have not been doing much nonfiction writing at the moment, so I don’t think I will have any new Book Riot pieces up, but I had a super productive fiction writing day the other day.

Chelsea: Yeah, ya did.

Kay: So I was pretty pleased about that.

Chelsea: What was it, 10k? 10k words? Something like that?

Kay: I wrote 10k in an afternoon slash evening and it was really bizarre. I’m very rarely that randomly productive. So that was nice. [laughs]

Chelsea: Well, I am just gonna be keeping on doing the normal stuff. I’m gonna keep having the Booktube videos coming out. Uh, a big one or a new one coming out is I am actually getting ready to start the last book in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King.

Kay: What what!

Chelsea: Which is a series I have been reading for, like, six years? Seven years, now?

Kay: Who’s ready for Idris? [laughs]

Chelsea: I was gonna say. That, that’s small potatoes of reading time for some people who’ve been reading this series. But that’s the longest series I’ve been reading in terms of longest periods of time. So I am excited to wrap that up and do a couple videos about that in anticipation of yeah. The movie that’s coming out this summer. With one, hey hey hey McConaughey and Idris Elba. So.

Kay: Happy sigh. [laughs]

Chelsea: I’m, I’m ecstatically interested to see how The Dark Tower is gonna come across with those two.

Kay: I have no idea how the fuck you film that, but I’m here for it.

Claire: I’m just gonna watch the thing. And that’ll be it. Because the books are too big.

Chelsea: Well, no. And here’s the thing. I always recommend the books, skipping the first one. Which is awful.

Claire: I can’t. I can’t.

Chelsea: I’ve had many conversations with Stephen King purists about this. But I don’t necessarily think you need the first one. The first one’s such a huge departure into this weird western setting and plot and just. It’s very weird.

Kay: Am I remembering wrong, is this the series he wrote himself into?

Chelsea: Yeah. He writes himself in as a character in the last couple of books. This is, to me, this and it sounds so poncy, but to me this is one of those keystone books for King because it is the series of books which make reference to almost all of the other books that he’s written and so it’s like.

Kay: He’s Stephen motherfucking King. So he can do what he wants as he sits on his giant pile of money.

Claire: There’s just too many books, right?

Chelsea: There are. There are.

Claire: Just too many books in general, in the world, that I want to put in my eyeballs, and I don’t read, like, super quickly.

Chelsea: And don’t get me wrong. This is not the first King I would recommend. If you like Stephen King, it’s definitely one you have to read. But I don’t think that’s one you have to read just in terms of like —

Claire: What would you recommend for someone who’s new to Stephen King?

Kay: Salem’s Lot.

Chelsea: Uhhhhh. See. It’s tough. Because I would always recommend for Stephen King that people start with The Stand. But that’s a really hard recommendation to make.

Kay: I don’t —

Chelsea: Because that book is a thousand pages long.

Claire: No.

Kay: The Stand and It are my two favorites, and they’re both super long. Salem’s Lot is very, I think it —

Chelsea: I like Salem’s Lot.

Kay: — gives you a representative idea of his more horror stuff.

Chelsea: Uhuh.

Claire: Because I’ve read his slightly fantasy-y one. The Eyes of the Dragon. And it was good, but I’m like just. I think that’s pretty unrepresentative.

Chelsea: I would actually probably —

Kay: He writes everything.

Chelsea: — of all his stuff, I would say probably Salem’s Lot. Yeah. Salem’s Lot or Pet Sematary. Just because, they’re not the shortest, but they’re a good sampling of his style and the kind of horror that he writes. My thing is like, so many —

Kay: His short fiction collections are good, too.

Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah.

Kay: If you want to give those a try.

Chelsea: I actually like some of the earlier stuff he wrote under Peter. Like, I think The Long Walk is really great. I think Apt Pupil is worth checking out. And those are, like, much shorter.

Kay: Shawshank Redemption. Green Mile.

Chelsea: yeah. The Green Mile’s great ‘cause you can read it episodically like it was originally published in, like, chap books that were short.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: But my favorites are the long ones. I love It. I love The Stand. I love the big ones.

Kay: Which, those are both good on audio.

CHelsea: Yes, they are very good.

Kay: So you could have them be your traveling around book.

Claire: Yeah, working from home is cutting down from my audiobook time a lot. And I’m not complaining, cause I will never complain about that. It’s great. But, like. I have to rearrange my audiobook listening time if I want to maintain.

Kay: I had that problem, too.

Chelsea: Yeah, I always have to choose between audiobooks and podcasts it’s always a juggling game of what’s, what’s going on, so. Oh, too much stuff. Never enough time. And on that note, I guess. We should probably go ahead and say goodbye to everybody. We will see you guys in a couple of weeks to talk about The Graces. Until next time. Bye!

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, @PaperbacksPod on Twitter, or at our website You can reach Kay @kaytaylorrea on Twitter, Claire @ClaireRousseau, and Chelsea @anoutlawlife. Additional credits, show notes, and transcripts will be available at our website. Thank you so much for listening. [Double speed] No paperbacks were harmed in the making of this program.

Chelsea: Guys. What is even the world? Like, what is even happening?


Episode #06 – 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: Alright, welcome back to the sixth episode of Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks. Today, as always, we’re gonna cover what we’re currently reading and then talk about our book of the fortnight, which is Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor and then we’ll wrap it up with things we have on the go and to look forward to in the future. I’m Chelsea.

Claire: I’m Claire.

Kay: And I’m Kay.

Chelsea: And, I guess to start with what I am currently reading, I just actually finished up a really intense [laughs] kind of surprising, out of the blue book binge. I listened to the audiobooks of the middle grade novelizations of the first Star Wars trilogy.

Kay: Yessss.

Claire: Huh.

Kay: Two of those are good. [laughs]

Chelsea: I don’t know if you guys have seen these. They’re, well [laughs] yeah, we’ll get there.

Claire: I did not know these were a thing.

Kay: The audiobooks are great.

Chelsea: They’re — yeah, the audiobooks are really great. And each one’s written by a different author and it literally just novelizes the movie. But they’re really short. They’re, I mean they, they read exactly like it feels to watch Star Wars on the screen.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Because they’re middle grade they’re very fast paced. They’re actionpacked.

Kay: They’re kind of radio play-ish.

Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, it’s like listening to a full cast audiobook, like, they do like background music and sound effects.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: And it’s very cool. Like it was, it was a way to watch the movies without actually having to, like, use my eyeballs to watch the movies. Um, the first one’s written by Alexandra Bracken and it’s called The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farmboy.

Kay: I love that one. It’s so cute.

Chelsea: Which, if you’ve seen the first Star Wars movie, would make sense. The second one is called So You Want to Be A Jedi by Adam Gidwitz.

[Kay hums in disapproval]

Chelsea: And this one I did not like as much. And it’s ‘cause it is written entirely in the second person.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: No.

Chelsea: And I am not here for two hundred pages of second person. [laughs]

Claire: No. No. No.

Chelsea: And what I did like, it’s cute, in-between the chapters are, like. So the whole things kinda like, If You Wanna Be A Jedi, it’s kind of like a training manual. But actually what it teaches is, like, a lot of mindfulness stuff and it teaches, like, deep breathing, and it teaches how to try to be empathetic. So it actually teaches some pretty cool stuff for, like, but then the actual fiction parts are in second person and I’m like ugh, but I wanna scratch my face off. It’s so bad.


Chelsea: I can’t. Oh, man. But I like listened to it because, I mean, whatever. It’s the second book, I wanted to keep going with the whole series. And then the very last one is Beware the Power of the Dark Side by Tom Angleberger. And that’s The Return of the Jedi.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: So I literally listened to all of those over the course of, like, two days back to back over the course of, like, two days. Because they’re just super cute and they were very easy to listen to.

Kay: That sounds deeply therapeutic, honestly.

Chelsea: Highly recommend. Yeah. And you know, like I said if you’re driving in the car or you’re doing your chores or whatever and you want to watch the original trilogy, but can’t use your eyes to do it, this isn’t a bad alternative in terms of, like, audiobooks, and you’ll get through ‘em super, super fast. So. That’s what I’ve been reading. Uh, Claire. Over to you. What’ve you got on the go?

Claire: Well, um, apart from the book for this week, what I’ve just finished to day, what I’ve actually read all the way through today, is a little novelette from Book Smugglers Publishing.

Chelsea: Yay!

Claire: Which is called The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist. It’s by S. L. Huang. And it is, a, like, dark, twisted creepy retelling of The Little Mermaid.

Chelsea: [gasps] Ooohhh, that’s cool.

Claire: It was, like, an impulse buy, because Ana from Book Smugglers tweeted that they were selling it.

[Chelsea laughs]

Claire: In, like, a paper edition.

Kay: We’re weak to that.

Claire: It looked interesting and weird, so I just ordered it.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Because I have no impulse control.

Chelsea: I’m weak to Book Smugglers, man.

Kay: They’re stuff is so consistently awesome, it’s hard to not.

Chelsea: Yeah. So.

Claire: Yeah, so this is just fantastic. So instead of being the mermaid who’s fascinated with humans and wants to go to the surface, it’s a human scientist who’s fascinated with this, like, mermaid race that they found, who wants to become one of them, basically. She’s, like, learning their language. And so there’s a lot of, um, little things that are, kind of like, if you liked Arrival. And that kind of, like, deep science of language, um. That’s what I found really cool and interesting about it. And, like, the, the end of it has like this dark twist and I was like, ‘What? No! You can’t do that! No!’

[Chelsea laughs]

Claire: My god! What? How! My feelings!

Chelsea: Awww.

Claire: So it was very effective.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: And it was published in 2016 and consequently went on my Hugo ballot.

Kay: Alright, so I am reading all of the things, as per usual. I just finished my yearly reread of Sense and Sensibility, because yes. I am that person.

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: Um, and I was doing the audiobook for this go-around. Juliet Stevenson is the narrator I listened to for that and she’s wonderful. I think she’s done…four of Austen’s novels on audio? And they’re always great.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: I also just finished The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware and I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to read another one of her books after I thought her first book was, like, so mediocre.

Chelsea: Wasn’t so great?

Kay: In a Dark, Dark Wood. But, like, everyone loved it and then this book came out last, I think August?

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: Maybe? And I literally was on the waitlist at my library for six months? Seven months?

Chelsea: Damn. That’s a long wait.

Kay: So I was like, I’ll read it. And I did not like it for a variety of reasons and I will link to that Twitter thread in our show notes.

Chelsea: Oh no.

Kay: ‘Cause I just don’t even want to talk about it. I just was not happy about that.

Chelsea: That is unfortunate.

Kay: Yeah. Other things I wasn’t happy about reading and also finished.


Kay: Literally only two of the five things I have, like, just finished reading were things I liked. Uh, I finished reading Royal Bastards by — I am sorry, to this gentleman. I am not positive how you say his name. Andrew S-h-v-a-r-t-s. I read that as Shvarts.

Chelsea: Shvarts? Yeah, I would think so. Yeah.

Kay: And it’s, like, YA fantasy and it was really funny, and the pacing was great, and I was, like, mad about how good the teenage dialogue was.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: And it’s got some really suspect worldbuilding.

Chelsea: Ohhh.

Kay: And I am not wild about some, like, third act twists he threw in there that were just real sexist and gross.

Chelsea: Oh, that’s unfortunate.

Kay: And I dunno. I’m actually gonna try and do a full review on that one, because it’s problematic enough that, like, I feel the need to warn people about some stuff. It’s not coming out till like June or July, so I’ll be sure to link that review when that actually gets done.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Don’t read Royal Bastards. It looks like it’s gonna be fun —

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: — and it, like, fucks you over in the third act, is what happens with that.


Chelsea: That’s such a disappointment.

Kay: Right?

Chelsea: Such a bummer.

Kay: Such a bummer. Other things that I don’t know why I read because I just make poor life choices. [laughs] Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.

Chelsea: Ohhh.

Kay: Like. This is.

Chelsea: That was another one you had a good Twitter rant about.

Kay: This is our freaking ‘we don’t like literary fiction most of the time’ podcast, right?

Chelsea and Claire: Yeah.

Kay: So I should know myself well enough that, like, the first novel of [snooty tone] noted literary short fiction author George Saunders —

Chelsea: Mmhmm. [laughs]

Kay: — was not gonna be a thing that I was gonna enjoy. But, like, I read that shit anyway.

Chelsea: Oh, man.

Kay: Because everyone was talking about this audiobook with 166 narrators. And it’s, like —

Chelsea: Which sounds like a nightmare.

Claire: That sounds awful.

Chelsea: Like, too many people.

Kay: It’s full cast audio.

Claire: No.

Kay: And there’s literally, like, a bunch of Hollywood people, like, actors, people that I enjoy doing the majority of the voice acting in this. And I’m like, there’s no way this can go wrong!

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: But it goes wrong in all of the ways. And what this book is —

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: — it is, um, original character outsider POV historical RPF supernatural fic.

Chelsea: Eewwww.

Kay: Is what this is. I’m not even joking.

Claire: You have to be a really good fanfiction author to be able to do that.

Kay: Yeah! So it’s —

Chelsea: I don’t know if. I. Uh. Hmm.

Kay: I don’t know if anyone’s that good.

Chelsea: Not gonna scratch my itches. Yeah. I don’t think anybody could’ve pulled that off.

Claire: It actually, like, sounds dreadful.

Chelsea: You’re right, it sounds awful, but like, to get even close to something tolerable would take, I mean, I just.

Kay: I mean, the framing device is interesting. Because it’s, like, set the week of, um, Willie Lincoln’s death. So, Abraham Lincoln, one of his sons died when he was in office.

Chelsea: And it super fucked up his wife. Hardcore.

Kay: And, uh, yeah. Everything about it was terrible. Lincoln visited the, like, cemetery multiple times, and had them take Willie out of his mausoleum —

Chelsea: Interment. It’s so bad, yeah.

Kay: And held him in his arms. Like, this is definitely the set up for, like, a good ghost story and, like, that’s what he was kind of writing, but it was also not what he was writing.

Claire: But it’s the setup for a good story. You don’t need all this stuff around it if you’re a good writer and you can write good, like, characters and emotion and an interesting story. Like. Why?

Kay: And I didn’t…I didn’t think…the writing is not that good. Like, people can go ahead and fight me. [laughs] Like, honestly, feel free to come pick a fight with me on Twitter. I don’t even care. It was not a good book. [laughs] Hey! How ‘bout a thing I actually enjoyed?


Chelsea: There we go! There we go, let’s leave it on a good note. Let’s leave it in a good place.

Kay: One of the things I was reading was fanfiction that was way fucking better —


Kay: — than Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. And it’s called What We Pretend We Can’t See by um, gyzym, g-y-z-y-m.


Claire: Oh my god.

Kay: Who is —

Chelsea: I’m just trying to picture literally every literary book person out there coming at you for being like ‘so I read this fanfiction that was way better than this George Saunders novel.’

Kay: Anyway! What We Pretend We Can’t See is literally probably one of the top five, like, books I’ve read all year. This is a novel-length Harry Potter fanfic.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: It is Harry/Draco. It is the best characterizations of, like, the trio that I have read probably since Goblet of Fire. [laughter]

Chelsea: Really?

Claire: Why am I not reading this right now?

Kay: I don’t know why you’re not reading this right now. I want to read it again immediately. I don’t wanna —

Chelsea: Which one is this?

Kay: This is the one where Harry is an auror and, uh, Draco runs a museum, basically, out of Grimmauld Place.

Chelsea: Yeah, I’ve started this one. I’m like halfway through this one. It’s real good.

Kay: It’s. It’s just. I mean, her writing is so great. Like. I would read anything she wrote. But this also just hits a lot of my buttons. It’s a really wonderful ‘Epilogue? What epilogue?’ story.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: And it captures the feel of canon while feeling more true to life in the depicted diversity of the characters. And in the way that they react more realistically to things. [laugh] Because sometimes the emotional reactions of characters in Harry Potter make less than zero sense. Like, I love you Jo.

Claire: Oh, yeah.

Kay: But sometimes I don’t know what you’re doing. [laughs] But this fic is great. And it’s hilarious. And it will also, like, make your heart hurt. So you should all go read that immediately.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Claire: So Hugo Award nomination period just finished.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: And so we all nominated things for the Hugos.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: And we wanted to talk about, uh, I think about maybe one thing? One thing each that we nominated in each of the categories?

Chelsea: Yeah, I think so.

Claire: Otherwise we’ll be here forever.

Kay: We just wanna go through each one, real quick? Okay.

Claire: Yeah, shall we just go down the list?

Kay: Sure.

Chelsea: Yeah, that’s fine.

Kay: What’s your best novels, guys?

Chelsea: Yeah, uh, well one of my Best Novels that I wanted to nominate and that I really enjoyed nominating was The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.

Kay and Claire: Hmmm.

Chelsea: Which was a young adult, uh, Hades/Persephone retelling set in India. Uh, so yeah. I really enjoyed that one. It was beautiful. It gave me some really heavy 1001 Nights meets The Night Circus kind of feelings.

Claire: Oh, very nice.

Chelsea: Yeah. Uh, what about you, Claire?

Claire: Um, I nominated The Obelisk Gate because I thought that was the best writing I’d read all year, but I also nominated, among other things, A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: Because I really, really liked it.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: I happened to like it better than the first book, because it ticked more of my personal buttons. And I think, if the first book had been eligible to nominate last year, it would probably have done really well.

Kay: Yeah, I am having trouble picking which one of my Best Novel picks to talk about. ‘Cause I loved all of them so much. But I’m gonna talk about Lois Lane: Double Down because, like, no one else is gonna nominate it and that makes me sad.

Chelsea: Oh, Gwenda Bond. Those are such good books.

Kay: Those books are so great. If you like YA at all, even if you are not a DC comics person, this is a wonderful little trilogy about, like, a teenage Lois Lane. And they’re awesome. And the second book is eligible this year. So I nominated that one.

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: Super charming.

Chelsea: Very, very cute. Says someone who reads YA and is not a DC fan.

Kay: There you go.

Chelsea: They are very cute. Alright, uh, Best Novella. Um, I guess…I dunno. I read a lot of really good stuff. Literally, literally all five of these came from


Kay: Wow.

Chelsea: Didn’t even, didn’t even bother. Yeah. Yeah. Super, super stoked. So I guess I will talk about A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson.

Kay: Nice.

Chelsea: Which is the followup to a novella that she published last year. I just really love this world that Wilson has created. I think they are the perfect length. I think they work so well in the novella form. Um. So, yeah. And then I also nominated Runtime by SB Divya.

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: I thought that was a very, very fun thing to read.

Claire: I nominated Every Heart A Doorway, to everybody’s surprise, by Seanan McGuire.

Kay: Same. [laughs]

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: It was one of my favorite reads of the year. Um, I mean, again, most. I don’t read a lot of short fiction. So my ballot was woefully empty for short fiction which is not great, but.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: I couldn’t. You know.

Chelsea: Yeah, that happens.

Kay: My short fiction is always overflowing with stuff and it was brutal trying to pick things. For Best Novella, literally three of mine are by Seanan McGuire.


Kay: Well, like, one of them is under her Mira Grant name, but she, I mean. The woman is a machine. She turns out short fiction like she can do it in her sleep. And it’s always great. Um, like All the Pretty Little Horses from her Newsflesh collection that came out, Rise?

Chelsea: Oh, yeah.

Kay: It’s about Sean and Georgia’s adoptive parents before they adopted Sean and Georgia. It’s.

Chelsea: Oh, that’s cool.

Kay: It’s amazing. It’s an amazing little gutpunch of a novella. Also, I just have to, like, shoutout the only dude I nominated, like, in any category, I think? That wasn’t, like, a media category.


Claire: Amazing.

Kay: John Scalzi’s Audible-first Dispatcher novella was excellent. I really liked that a lot.

Claire: Hmm.

Chelsea: Huh. I did not listen to that one.

Claire: I have not heard that.

Chelsea: That sounds good.

Claire: I’ll have to check that out.

Kay: It’s a near-future scifi kind of urban fantasy-ish and, uh, Zachary Quinto did the audio.

Chelsea: Ohhhh, that’s a good choice.

Kay: And it was originally free, for like two months. So, like, I didn’t even have to pay for it.

Chelsea: Nice.

Kay: So great.

Claire: Scalzi sitting on his giant pile of Tor money going ‘yes, you shall have the free novella.’


Chelsea: Yeah. I just picture him like Scrooge McDuck, like, swimming in and out of giant piles of coins. In his vault of gajillions of dollars.

Kay: But, like, he would though. That is actually a thing he’d do.

Chelsea: I know! And good for him.

Claire: Good for him!

Chelsea: Good for him. Uh, novellete. This was a tough category. I didn’t read as many novelettes this year as I thought I did. More short stories.

Kay: Uh, four of mine are from Uncanny. [laughs]

Chelsea: Three of mine are from Uncanny. And the other two are from Tor.


Claire: My ones are actually both from Book Smugglers Publishing.

Kay: Nice.

Chelsea: Nice! So I’ve got You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay by Alyssa Wong.

Kay: So good.

Chelsea: Um, and The Playgivers by Kameron Hurley. Which. I mean. I love Kameron Hurley. I’ll read literally anything that woman puts to paper. But I just thought this one was such a good, um, military mechanic mecha female-driven crazy queer novelette that I just loved it. I loved it a whole lot.

Kay: Nice.

Claire: She just added, she just added a level to her Patreon that was like $2 more than what I was originally paying and it, like, gives you all of her stuff in audio as well.

Chelsea: Nice.

Claire: And I was like, I have never clicked on a Patreon quicker than that particular upgrade. So great.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. That’s a good one. Cat Valente opened her Patreon and I was there super fast for that one. I was there lickety split. Alright. Ladies?

Claire: My novelette nomination that I haven’t already mentioned was Superior by Jessica Lack, this is like the most adorable —

Kay: It is super cute.

Claire: — queer superhero novelette and it’s so, so cute. And it, it just gave me a lot of, like, really good fanfiction feels. So. Had to go on.

Kay: Nice.

Chelsea: Yeah. What about you, Kay?

Kay: I literally nominated four Uncanny Magazine novelettes, which is how many we published that were eligible, I think.


Kay: And then also, uh, Full of Briars by Seanan McGuire.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Because my ballot’s just, like, half Seanan this year. Which, did either of you guys read that?

Claire: Not yet.

Chelsea: I don’t think so.

Kay: It’s so cute. It’s about, like, her squire. Mostly.

Chelsea: Aw, that’s cute. I’m gonna have to read that one. Like I said, I didn’t read as many novelettes this year, for some reason. I think it’s because I get the short stories from the magazines and a lot of those also include novellas or reprint novellas. So it’s just like, I dunno. Novelette is a trickier one for me. Speaking of Uncanny Magazine and short stories.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: Let’s talk about the category where they cleaned up for me.

Claire: All of them.

Chelsea: Every short story I nominated. Every one.

Kay: Yep. All five.

Chelsea: I could’ve just been like: anything. Just pick one. It doesn’t matter. Uh, but the number one one I nominated, the one that I, actually, it’s probably one of my favorite stories that Uncanny has ever published, is uh, can you guys guess?

Kay: Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies?

Chelsea: Yes! Yeah.


Chelsea: Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies by Brooke Bolander. I love that story.

Kay: It is great.

Chelsea: So much. It’s about harpies and rape culture —

Claire: Yes.

Chelsea: — and ladies. It’s just so good. Yesss.

Kay: So good.

Chelsea: I just, ohmygod, okay. Yeah. I can’t. Go read it, if you haven’t. It’s so good. Someone else talk so I will just stop saying it’s so good.

Kay: What about you, Claire?

Claire: Ye Highland and Ye Lowlands by Seanan McGuire.

Kay: That is a good one, that is a good one.

Chelsea: Also from Uncanny Magazine.

Claire: I mean, it’s Seanan destroying the world. Again. And it has a really smart twist. And I can’t tell you why it ticks all my boxes because that would be hugely spoilery, but it ticks all my boxes.

Chelsea and Kay: Yeah.

Kay: It’s good, though.

Claire: She just has, like, her prose is also beautiful. It’s not just that she’s a machine.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: It’s that, like, she’s a very prolific writer who has a degree in, like, fairytales.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Yeah, yeah.

Claire: She can write a repetition that just, like, takes you in and, uh. Beautiful. Amazing.

Kay: So good.

Chelsea: Alright, and you, Miss Kay?

Kay: I mean, literally all of mine are also from Uncanny.

Chelsea: Everything. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kay: Because I read literally every story that we publish. So. Like. Come on.


Kay: I can’t even, like, express why I love it so much, but An Ocean the Color of Bruises by Isabel Yap.

Chelsea: Oh, yeah, that’s a good one. That one was on my ballot. That’s a good one.

Kay: I just. It’s so…it’s just so good.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Just so good. [laughs]

Chelsea: Yeah, they’re really, really good. So Best Related Work.

Kay: I want to talk about everything I nominated in this category. [laughs] They’re all so great.

Claire: Let’s talk about the Archive of Our Own.

Kay: Yeah. I also nominated AO3.

Chelsea: This is one of my favorite categories. I also nominated AO3.

Kay: Yeah. That was mine.

Chelsea: Come at us, Internet.

Claire: Come at us and Renay.

Kay: Actually, don’t come fight me on this. I don’t want to hear your discourse. Because you’re wrong. This is one of those times where don’t come at me, I’m not gonna bother talking to you if you don’t believe this was worthy of being nominated.

Claire: Well, yeah, so the Archive of Our Own, um, if anyone hasn’t followed is a fanfiction archive. It’s amazing, we all love it, and also it’s eligible as a Related Work because it’s the system itself, the website. It’s eligible as Related Work because it relates to science fiction and fantasy, it relates to fandom.

Chelsea: Possibly more than any other thing.

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: And it’s something that constantly changes, so it definitely is eligible for every single year. And yeah. There’s been a bit of, uh, it’s been on my ballot for a few years, now. So.

Chelsea: Yeah. I also wanna talk about the Black Spec Fic Report.

Kay: That was on mine, too.

Chelsea: That Fireside Fiction put out, that I nominated. That was amazing and does a statistical breakdown of submissions and acceptance and publishing rates among black speculative fiction authors and just talks about, uh, basically racism in publishing, and specifically racism in publishing and in submissions and in the whole process for speculative fiction. So, yeah, we’ll link to that, definitely.

Kay: Check that out.

Chelsea: Definitely a lengthy read, but one that’s worth the time and worth digging into. There’s a lot of really good stuff in there.

Claire: If, uh, you need cheering up after that, I highly recommend the Women of Harry Potter series that Sarah Gailey did for That was adorable and, like, super fighty and beautiful and I, I liked it a lot and I cried several times.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: Yeah, those are really good. Um, graphic novel. Graphic Story, excuse me. This is my…I really like this category.

Kay: Bombshells.

Chelsea: I nominated a lot of Jeff Lemire —

Claire: [sings] Image.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: Wait, did neither of you nominate Bombshells?

Claire: I’m sorry?

Chelsea: Wait, what?

Kay: Am I the only person who nominated Bombshells under Best Graphic Story?

Claire: I have not read that.

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: Wow. You need to read it, like, immediately.


Kay: It’s real queer and amazing. It’s so good. And the art is lovely.

Chelsea: I’m here for that. I nominated Kim & Kim. From Black Mask Studios.

Kay: Nice.

Chelsea: I really, really liked that.

Kay: Monstress, also.

Chelsea: And then, also Monstress. Yes. Descender.

Kay: And Black Panther.

Claire: Yeah, two volumes of Descender.

Chelsea: Yeah, two volumes of Descender. And then Paper Girls. So.

Claire: Yeah.

Kay: Also Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe.

Chelsea: That’s a really great one. Uh, longform? Dramatic Presentation, Longform?

Claire: Arrival. I mean, it’s my language tick boxes, you know. I love it so much ‘cause the language.

Chelsea: Uh, Deadpool. I cannot explain to you guys how badly I want Deadpool to make —

Kay: Ugh.

Chelsea: — finalist in this category. No, don’t. Don’t even make the noises, Kay.

Kay: I’m not.

Chelsea: I love Deadpool so much.

Kay: I totally understand why people like Deadpool, it’s just not my jam. Whereas I’m over here nominating For the Love of Spock. Because it’s so lovely.

Chelsea: I get that.

Kay: Like, so lovely. If you guys haven’t watched it, it’s on Netflix, now.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: And, if you have ever had feelings about Star Trek or even just kind of, like, fandom in general, you should watch it. Adam Nimoy did an excellent job, there.

Chelsea: Uh, do we have any Short Form standouts?

Kay: Weirdmageddon, Part 3: Take Back the Falls. The last episode of Gravity Falls.

Chelsea: That’s a great one.

Kay: So good. So Good.

Chelsea: The Answer from Steven Universe, that was another really good one for me. I love Steven Universe.

Claire: I mean, I nominated some Game of Thrones episodes.

Chelsea: Which ones? All of them? Like all of the ones that were eligible?


Claire: Which ones? All of them. Um. [hums] I think the one I nominated was, like, particularly lady stabby?


Claire: Like, where all the ladies stab all the men, basically.

Chelsea: Yes, that’s a good one. I did The Battle of the Bastards. I loved.

Claire: Yeah, yeah definitely The Battle of the Bastards for the battle, right? But, yeah, I don’t have that? I don’t know why, I mean, I hope it went through ‘cause I definitely put them on, but they’re not on my email. So. Whoops.

Kay: Team Thor was, like, my standout thing in that category. That I was hoping people would be talking about nominating and I didn’t see many people talking about. It’s possibly the greatest thing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point in time. [laughs]

Chelsea: Alright, so we are already just over thirty minutes and we haven’t actually talked about the book yet.

[Kay groans]

Chelsea: Which is great. So we’re gonna go a little quicker. We’re gonna skip some of the other categories coming up. Best Professional Editors, Short Form. The Thomases.

Kay: Thomases.

Claire: Yes.

Chelsea: Are we all playing same team on that one?

Kay: Shoutout to Alisa Krasnostein for Letters to Tiptree, though, ‘cause, I mean. Come on. That was amazing.

Chelsea: Yeah. Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Claire: I also nominated Michi separately. Also for Uncanny.

Chelsea: Yes, Michi Trota I also nominated. Uh, should we skip down, Best Semiprozine? Anything? Uncanny?

Claire: Uncanny.

Kay: Uncanny.

Chelsea: Book Smugglers.

Kay: Book Smugglers.

Claire: I mean.

Kay: Strange Horizons always out there doing the work, too.

Chelsea: Book Smugglers. Yeah. I did Fireside. I thought they did really good work with some of the stuff they did this year.

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: Uh. Let’s see. Best Fanzine?

Claire: Lady Business.

Kay: I mean, Lady Business.

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: Lady Business today, Lady Business tomorrow, Lady Business forever.


Chelsea: [sings] Forever!

Claire: I also —

Kay: And the Rec Center newsletter.

Claire: I also nominated The Rec Center, which is a fannish newsletter by Gavia, Gav and Elizabeth.

Kay: So good.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: Gavia Baker-Whitelaw and Elizabeth…

Kay: Minkel?

Claire: Minkel!

Kay: Is that how you say her last name? [laughs]

Claire: Thank you!

Chelsea: Minkel, I think?

Claire: I feel bad, now.

Chelsea: Uh, Best Fancast?

Claire: That’s so hard! That was my hardest, like —

Kay: I mean.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: I had literally a list of twenty things that I think are worthy.

Kay: It’s so hard. Overinvested.

Claire: Yes.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: Absolutely.

Kay: Which is just an excellent podcast everyone should be listening to, already.

Chelsea: Yeah, Overinvested is amazing.

Claire: I also nominated Elizabeth’s booktube channel, Books and Pieces.

Kay: Me, too.

Chelsea: Me, too. I also did Fangirl Happy Hour.

Kay: Always, yeah.

Claire: The one I don’t think will be talked about by people is a podcast called Witch, Please?

Chelsea: I put that on there, too!

Claire: Did you?

Chelsea: Aw, yeah!

Kay: That’s the acafen Harry Potter podcast, right?

Claire: Amazing. No, I hope everyone does put it on, it’s just, like, it is a fannish thing and it is about Harry Potter so it qualifies, but it’s not, like, really something that.

Chelsea: It’s not like in the, cause they’re two female academics from Canada and they’re not necessarily, like, coming at it from a place that’s entrenched in fandom.

Claire: Exactly.

Chelsea: Although they do talk about the fandom.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: So I think, it’s like a lot of Harry Potter people have picked up on it, but it hasn’t necessarily made, like, the jump into bigger, just like, fan —

Kay: They’re acafen, which is a different viewpoint than you get a lot of the time.

Chelsea: Yeah. They’re amazing. They do, they have such a good backlog. They talk about the movies and the books and it’s just, they do really A+.

Kay: My brother-in-law, that’s like his favorite podcast. [laughs]

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s a really, really good one. Okay, so, should we do Best Fanwriter and then Best Series and then talk about the book?

Kay and Claire: Yes.

Chelsea: I guess. Okay.

Kay: Best Fanwriter is just wall to wall amazing ladies for me. I’ve got Michi, I’ve got Renay.

Chelsea: Same. All ladies.

Kay: Abigail Nussbaum.

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: I’ve got Alyssa Wong. And, of course, Gav. Like, they’re just doing the work. So good.

Chelsea: Tansy. Mmhmm.

Claire: And Sarah Gailey, as well. Again, for the Women of Harry Potter thing. Um. Yeah. Same people we keep mentioning.

Chelsea: I agree. Yeah, I know. There are some themes, here

Kay: What did you guys think about Best Series?

Chelsea: Uh…Well, I mean.

Kay: I hate the way it’s set up. I hate, like, the guidelines they have. It’s dumb.

Chelsea: I feel about this the same way that I feel about the way that we award Oscars, sometimes, in that, like i feel that we give them to the last one even if the last one isn’t necessarily the best one in honor of, like, the whole thing. Like, I nominated Harry Potter and JK Rowling.

Kay: Even though Cursed Child was garbage.

Chelsea: I actually really hated Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Yeah, but if this is a chance to give Harry Potter that Hugo Award.

Claire: Harry Potter has a Hugo Award.

Chelsea: That’s why I nominated it.

Claire: Harry Potter won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Goblet of Fire has a Hugo.

Chelsea: Yeah, but I feel like, also, at this point —

Claire: I agree with you that Harry Potter should have a Hugo, I’m just saying noone nominate Cursed Child for anything.


Kay: We weren’t —

Chelsea: Too late.

Kay: — nominating Cursed Child. We’re using that as the qualifying work. And that is how I rationalized that life choice. [laughs]

Chelsea: Yeah. Or, it’s like, I nominated Chaos Choreography from the InCryptid series.

Claire: Yes.

Chelsea: I didn’t actually necessarily think that’s the best book of that entire series, but I love that series. And so, like, that’s, but that’s what I’m saying. It’s like, I feel like that’s kind of a little bit of an issue that’s built into the award is that we’re using a book that’s not necessarily all the greatest —

Claire: But the award is for Series, it’s not the novel.

Chelsea: — and I dunno, it just feels weird. But it’s all ladies.

Claire: Of course.

Kay: Yeah, mine are all women.

Chelsea: That’s a recurring theme.

Kay: I nominated Toby Daye and Newsflesh, because literally I wasn’t kidding when I said there was so much freaking Seanan on my ballot this year.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: And I have InCryptid and it sounds like you have it, too, Chelsea. I love the InCryptid series.

Chelsea: Yeah, I did InCryptid and October Daye. And Newsflesh.

Claire: [laughs] Well, I have the memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan, which is like dragon studies and also. Also Naomi Novik’s Temeraire ‘cause League of Dragons came out in 2016. So. My two favorite dragon things are on the ballot, which makes me happy. I dunno, I feel like nominating Harry Potter for Best Series, now, on the basis of Cursed Child would be the kind of thing that I would frown upon if, like, bro fanboys were doing it —

[Kay laughs]

Claire: — if they were saying, like, this dead male author needs recognition for blah blah blah blah blah. I’m not subtweeting something that happened three years ago. But. You know.


Claire: But, I dunno. I feel like that’s not.

Chelsea: I will accept your realtime live action subtweet.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: And give you the biggest shrugging emoji because it’s too late, I already did it.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin MacLeod plays]

[Kay is still laughing]

Chelsea: And that’s actually the perfect emotional note to move on into talking about our book of the month. I should. Okay. For our listener’s sake, I’m gonna give you guys a little note that we actually have, this is the second time recording this episode for us. The first time we recorded it we had some glitches with the sound files so we’re having to redo it. So, if it seems like maybe we’re not —

Kay: We’re not in it to win it, today.

Chelsea: — as passionate.


Chelsea: Yeah, the, that might be a little, a lot of the reason that’s happening. So. Uh. Let’s start with the negatives and then we’ll end on the positives. For those of you who are just kind of tuning in, we are talking about Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. This was my pick for two weeks. This is a book about Karu, who is a young girl living in Prague who has some family secrets. She has a very, kind of, strange adoptive found family of chimaera, who are half, who are a conglomeration of, essentially, different kinds of animals and various human parts. Um, she runs errands for her father figure across the world, and one day when she’s on one of these errands, um, she notices black handprints on the doors and that portends some really awful shit going down for her family. On the flipside of this we’re also following a young man named Akiva and at first we don’t know much about him other than that he is an angel and it is his job to kill chimaera.

[Kay giggles]

Chelsea: [laughs] And then he and Karu meet and with his help and to his detriment we learn some things about Karu’s past and where she comes from. It is a second world fantasy, which is definitely something that we’re gonna talk about. Um, but yeah. I picked it because I love the language. I really like the relationship between Karu and Akiva. I really like the second world, second world fantasy is not like a thing for me. But. Let’s turn it over to you guys.

Kay: Whereas I felt gruesomely betrayed.


Kay: Because the first, like, two thirds of this book are fucking urban fantasy and all of a sudden it’s second world fantasy which, I, like, almost universally loathe. And I was like, ‘wait, what the fuck just happened?’


Chelsea: I’m so sorry, Kay.

Claire: Now, my problem with this wasn’t necessarily the second world fantasy because I read a bunch of second world fantasy and I don’t mind. But, like, the secondary world fantasy bits, they’re all, like, flashbacks.

Kay: It’s so weird.

Claire: And just, like, structurally. The structure. Like, I just felt like the emotion, the emotional buildup didn’t really work with the structure of the book. Also, the thing is, basically, the specific trope that is referenced that I didn’t, like, I didn’t one hundred percent see coming straightaway, but, you know, that trope. I don’t, I just don’t like that. That’s not one of my. Should we just say what it is?

Chelsea: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Claire: Yeah, sorry, sorry.

Chelsea: Spoilers.

Kay: All the spoilers.

Claire: I’m just not into reincarnation stories. Like.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: I’m generally a really tough sell for instalove, anyway, but if it’s, like, reincarnation instalove? And, like. I mean. No?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: See, I was more willing to give it a pass on the instalove. See, unlike Claire, I mean, I also hate instalove, but I was more willing to give it a pass because it seemed very obvious from very early on that this was gonna be some kind of a reincarnation story.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. And usually I don’t like reincarnation either. I think it worked for me because it’s so seamlessly built into the worldbuilding, that, like, from the outset it is a part of the worldbuilding and culture from which this stories come from. So, like, I didn’t love it, but like Kay said, I was willing to give it a pass.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: ‘Cause, like, it, I knew, it’s fairly early on established that this is gonna be some kind of Romeo and Juliet crossed worlds thing. And I knew we had to get somewhere from Akiva knowing what was up and Karu not, we had to know where that came from. So I knew there was gonna be some kind of big twist, I dunno. I’m not super, my thing is I bought into the way that this relationship was built and the tension there. If you don’t buy into it, the rest of this story does not work.

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: Which is a shame, because the worldbuilding is really, really cool, I think. The writing is beautiful. The prose is really great. The worldbuilding is really cool, really creepy, like, the whole reincarnation setup. Like, before you know that there’s reincarnation, how it works, this guy is spending, like the whole book collecting teeth. And it’s super creepy and delightful. I just thought that, like, I wish that she’d gone more for like a dual timeline thing.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: Like you follow Karu for one chapter and then you follow Madrigal for one chapter.

Kay: It has major structural problems. Is my whole thing.

Claire: Right.

Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah. The pacing on this story is really bad. Like Kay said, it’s pretty legit that the first, eh, two thirds-ish of this novel are Karu and Akiva realtime present day and then we flashback to learn the story of how they met. And that takes us to literally the last chapter which is them parting ways and setting up the next two books.

Kay: And it’s a cliffhanger. Wait, hold on, I will pull up this text I sent to Chelsea after I finished reading this the first time.

Chelsea: Kay was really mad. Kay was really mad, it was pretty bad. But the flashbacks are there to tell you about how these two starcrossed lovers met. So unless you are with them emotionally and invested the first two thirds?

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: When they get to that flashback, unless you’re fully onboard and willing to go back and hear that story, it does not read super great.

Kay: It was like she was very invested in having a third act twist and I think that the story was not well served by that.

Chelsea: Yeah. And I think, if you’re gonna go ahead and read the next two, uh, trigger warning there is sexual assault in the second book. Or attempted sexual assault. So.

Kay: Ughh.

Chelsea: Just know that, going forward. I don’t want to recommend anyone start a series that has stuff in later books without them knowing what they’re getting into.

Claire: Oh yeah, that’s definitely fair. Like. [sighs] I mean, I don’t know. It’s also that I think we spend a lot of time with Karu.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: And we don’t spend a lot of time, we don’t spend as much time with Akiva. And we don’t spend, and the time we spend with him at the beginning he’s just really angry. And the way it’s set up at the beginning, for me, it read like, like his dead girlfriend had been fridged and that’s why he was so angry. And that.

Chelsea: Which, I mean, technically is exactly what happened, only spoiler alert she’s also been reincarnated.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: That’s the thing. We get the best of both worlds. She gets fridged so he can be in pain, and then also she’s not fridged, so we can see her develop as, like, a person. I recommended this book, guys, I feel like I should be coming to bat more for this.

Kay: I feel like such an asshole for, like, how much I was just like, ‘I fucking hated this book,’ but, like, literally I’m reading the urban fantasy part until two thirds of the way through I’m like, ‘I would give this three and a half, four stars.’ And we get to the last part and I’m like ‘fucking two stars.’ This book gets two stars from me.


Kay: And I felt like such an asshole!

Chelsea: Yeah, that’s fair.

Kay: But it just didn’t work for me. It just didn’t work for me. And I do agree that the prose is very nice, but I do have to throw out there that there is a very weird, like, point of view shifting problem. Where most of the time this is written in a tight third person and then all of a sudden Laini Taylor is, for like a paragraph, is like an omniscient narrator and it will switch to someone else’s point of view for several lines. And I’m like, ‘what the fuck just happened?’ And this was very disorienting, especially because I was switching back and forth between the ebook and the audiobook. So I literally thought I was just losing my mind. So I’m listening to the audiobook when this happens the first time.

Chelsea: Awww. [laughs]

Kay: And I’m just like what. What? What?!

Chelsea: What is happening?

Kay: And I pulled up the ebook and I’m doing a word search wondering what is happened and like, no, that really is a thing that just happened. I was all of a sudden in her best friend’s head for, like, two sentences. And it wasn’t even, it didn’t even, like, go to the end of the scene. This was, like mid-scene. I was so confused.

Chelsea: Yeah. It’s not. It does that. It perspective shifts. More than it needs to.

Kay: This book needed a stronger editorial hand. Is my feeling about this.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. I agree.

Kay: That’s kinda just like, my last thought.


Chelsea: Okay, well. Things that we did like? Anything that we DID like about this book.

Kay: I fucking loved Brimstone, man.

Claire: The prose.

Chelsea: The prose was good. The writing is great. The prose is really, really beautiful.

Claire: I really liked the bits in Prague, actually.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: I mean, I just really, really liked Karu and, like, the fact that she was going to art school and her best friend. I was annoyed at the audiobook because the audiobook was like, ‘Karu is so fluent, because she can speak Czech because of a spell.’ But even with her being so fluent, everybody else has a weird accent. I was like. That’s…not good.

[Kay giggles]

Claire: In my head I kept hearing the voice of, you know, the guy who does Everything Wrong With, the movie, the series of movie critics?

Kay: On YouTube?

Claire: On YouTube.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Claire: Every time there’s something a little bit, like, unpleasant or racist or whatever he’s like, ‘That’s racist!’


Claire: That’s what I kept hearing in my head every time. It’s just like, Karu’s so perfect and she speaks Czech so well and then Susanna comes around and she has an accent and I’m just like stop it! That’s not how language works. Anyway. Tangent. I really liked Susanna. That’s what I was trying to say. I really liked Susanna.

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: She’s lovely.

Claire: And the audiobook has nothing to do with the actual writing of the book. So. That’s unfair.

Chelsea: Yeah. I really like Susanna and Mick. I feel like they are really solid side cast characters that still manage to feel very fleshed out. I really. Plus they’re funny. I just think they’re cute.

Kay: Also Brimstone. Brimstone is, like, maybe my favorite part of the book.

Chelsea: Oh, I’m sorry, did you mean Mufasa? I didn’t.

Kay: Shut up.

Chelsea: I don’t think I heard you quite right —

Kay: Shut up.

Chelsea: — the first time.

Kay: Shut up.

Chelsea: I’m pretty sure that’s how that works. No, but you’re right, like.


Chelsea: He plays such a good, like, version of that character.

Kay: So good.

Chelsea: He does such a good job.

Claire: He’s really great, and I just, that’s why I’m thinking if we had a dual timeline, if we had, like, a more, if we were able to see more of Madrigal’s story, and like her life, like, you’d be able to see way more of Brimstone. And every time that Karu makes a wish that’s inconsequential in the present if you knew what the wish takes at that time you’d be like ‘oh my god, stop it, woman!’

Chelsea: Yeah, it would hit harder, for sure. Did we have favorite parts or was it all just a trash fire?

Kay: I wonder if my bookmark will still be in there because it’s a library ebook that I had to check out again. Let’s see. It’s probably not.

Claire: I emailed it to myself, but I don’t knowif it’s still here.

Kay: Okay, here we go. I still have mine. Mine is just this really. So this is actually the part of the book that I don’t like. [laughs] Towards the end. But it’s a conversation between Brimstone and Madrigal when she’s basically waiting to be executed.

Chelsea: Yeahhh.

Kay: ‘Cause that’s nice. Um.


Chelsea: That’s a dark scene.

Kay: And he said, ‘Magic won’t save us. The power it would take to conjure on such a scale the tithe would destroy us. The only hope is hope. You don’t need tokens for it. It’s in your heart or nowhere. And in your heart, child, it has been stronger than I’ve ever seen.’ And I was like, that’s just a real nice thing for your surrogate father figure to tell you right before you’re going to your death.

Chelsea: But, like, that’s a nice sentiment. Like, that’s a good takeaway.

Kay: It’s a lovely sentiment, yeah.

Chelsea: Like, have hope. That’s a nice sentiment. Mine is actually not, yet again, not a specific line, but a scene. There’s a scene in the second world fantasy part where we are following Madrigal and she’s getting dressed for a ball. And her friends are helping her get dressed and they dust her in edible sugar glitter so she sparkles and she’s wearing this midnight blue dress. And that scene always reminds me a lot of the scene in Ever After when Drew Barrymore shows up all covered in glitter and wearing that big angel dress.

Kay: Mmhmm. I love that movie.

Chelsea: I, whatever. That movie.


Chelsea: We can talk about that movie later. Um, but, anyway, she meets Akiva and he’s masked and disguised and he’s not supposed to be there and it’s very much so Romeo and Juliet at the party at the Capulets’ house. Like it’s very, he’s not supposed to be there but he calls down this cloud of moths to, like, eat the sugar off her shoulders and make, like, a little jacket for her. And it’s just so cute. I just liked it. I just thought that was cute.

Kay: It’s a really sweet little piece of magic.

Chelsea: That’s all I have to say about it. It’s just a sweet little. And it’s just like, it’s a cute little thing of worldbuilding and just, like, adds a little extra dimension to both the character and the world that they’re in. So I just really liked it. Did you have anything, Claire?

Claire: Yeah. Uh, there’s a, just a little small thing that made me pause the audiobook and, like, write it down, because I thought it was so great. At some point they’re talking to, like, a fallen angel who’s, you know, this guy was cursed because he asked for knowledge and he was cursed with having a fallen angel on his back.

Kay: Literally.

Claire: So he has this knowledge but it comes at a price kind of thing. And at some point he’s talking to Akiva, who’s very self righteously talking about why the angels are correct in their war, and the guy says about, you know, about all the stuff Akiva told him happened a long time ago. ‘Like mold on books, grow myth on history.’

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: And I thought, yes, that’s very true and also I had these, like, flashbacks to like the opening credits of the Lord of the Rings movies? Where the talk about, like, how, myth are created? And yeah.

Kay: That made me think about when Chelsea had mold on her bookcases. [laughs]

Claire: Oh, no!

Chelsea: Awww. That was sad. That’s one of my most viewed videos on YouTube is two minutes of black death mold.

Kay: I think that’s the first video of yours I ever saw. [laughs]

Chelsea: Oh, I’m so sorry. Oh my god, I’m so sorry that that was your introduction to my life. I’m so sorry.

Kay: You were so traumatized. I felt so bad.

Chelsea: For those of you who haven’t seen it, we have, we have leaky water in my basement, so. And I didn’t know it at the time and it infiltrated the whole bottom row of my book cases. So I put, like, a little, so I, I didn’t film for like a month because I had to take my whole setup down. So I put up a little explainer video being like well, that’s what black mold looks like.

Claire: Awww.

Chelsea: Spoiler alert. Yeah. I had lots of people be like, yeah, I was trying to watch this during lunch time and I was like oopsie.

Kay: Sorry, bro.

Chelsea: Trigger warning for really gross stuff. Sorry, bro.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Chelsea: Well, alright. That finishes up our second discussion of The Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. Um, what do we have coming up in the future? Uh, I guess, well our next book after this is going to be A Trifle Dead.

Kay: Yay!

Chelsea: Which is the first book in the Cafe la Femme series. Which is a mystery book. This one was recommended by Miss Kay. And even though I just read it I still can’t tell you what it’s about, so I’m gonna pull up the Goodreads synopsis.


Claire: And this is by Livia Day, which is a pseudonym for Tansy Rayner Roberts.

Chelsea: A Trifle Dead is written by Livia Day, which is a pseudonym for Tansy Rayner Roberts and it is about Tabitha Darling, who runs a pastry shop/coffee house in Hobart and one day she is, kind of hanging out in her apartment, and upstairs the band that rents the apartment above her finds a dead body in a net, like a trap of some kind? And, yeah, nobody really knows what that’s about. The police come to investigate. Also, Tabitha Darling is the daughter of the former police chief of Hobart, so she’s already got plenty of police in her life. But it is about her and her friends as they work to kind of figure out exactly who it is that is murdering other people in a town where pretty much everyone knows everybody. So we will be coming back in a couple of weeks to talk about that. A nice, little,cozy, funny mystery. Otherwise, Miss Claire. What do you have on the go for the future?

Claire: Well, I’ve just started doing my favorite podcasts video series, which, ya know. I saw your favorite podcasts video and I really enjoyed that. And there were some things that I didn’t know about that was exciting, that I tried and everything, but when I wrote down the ones that I wanted to recommend, I literally had, like, twenty.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: So I was, like, let’s break it down and so I’m going to be doing a video series. They’re planned for every Sunday, but.


Claire: It’s Sunday now and I haven’t made the one for today, so, you know, roughly once a week.

Chelsea: Meh. What are plans?

Claire: So I’ve got those coming up. The first one is already out and there’ll be a few more out by the time this podcast is out. So that’s a thing that I’m super excited about because podcasts are great.

Chelsea: Amen.

Kay: This is true.

Chelsea: What about you, Miss Kay?

Kay: [sighs] I definitely have about a million Star Trek fanfiction recs in my Trek Rec a Day project that you should go check out.

Chelsea: Yeah, you do. Woohoo!

Kay: We have passed the 200 day mark and, uh, we have enough stuff in my gdoc for 365 days. So that shit’s going on probably for a year.

Chelsea: Until then.


Claire: I wonder if that’s gonna be eligible for Related Work Hugo next year?

Kay: That will be. [laughs]

Chelsea: Uh, yeah.

Kay: Yeah, guys, you should definitely nominate my Twitter thread next year.

Chelsea: We’ll get it on the 2018/2017 Hugo spreadsheet thing for nominations.

Kay: Sounds like a plan. [laughs]

Chelsea: Amen. Alright. And then I. Is that all you have going on, Miss Kay?

Kay: Yep.

Chelsea: Still just trekkin? Alright, cool. I’m doing something similar. I’ve got the YouTube videos coming out. We are, by the time this goes up, we are going to be entering into the second month of readalongs for the YouTube SFF Awards.

Kay: Woohoo!

Chelsea: So I will link that down below. We have all kinds of nominees. Adult fiction, young adult, middle grade, and graphic novels in addition to short works. So, there’s probably something for everybody. So, yeah. Come read along with us. Check it out. Links will be in the show notes! Uh, that wraps up this episode. Join us in a couple weeks to talk about A Trifle Dead. Hopefully we only have to do that one one time. Alright. I guess until next time? Bye everybody.

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, @PaperbacksPod on Twitter, or at our website You can reach Kay @kaytaylorrea on Twitter, Claire @ClaireRousseau, and Chelsea @anoutlawlife. Additional credits and show notes will be available at our website. Thank you so much for listening. [Double speed] No paperbacks were harmed in the making of this program.

Kay: Yeah, you Pen/Faulkner fucker, this was way better than your book.


Episode #05 – 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: Welcome, everybody, back to another episode of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pod-oh my God. Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks. I hate my life.

[Kay laughs].

Chelsea: Today on our episode we will of course be talking about what we’re currently reading, and then talking about the book of the fortnight, which is Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and then moving on to what is coming up in the future. My name is Chelsea.

Claire: I’m Claire.

Kay: And I’m Kay.

Chelsea: Alright, and, uh, let’s see. I will start off with what I’m currently reading. I am currently, since I literally just finished the book for this podcast —

Kay: Same.

Chelsea: — as I’m a super professional podcast participant.

Claire: Same.

Chelsea: [laughs] I am actually getting ready to start a couple of things. So I am getting ready to start, um, Pretty Face by Lucy Parker.

Kay: Yay!

Chelsea: Which, um, yeah. Kay has recommended and I read her first book Act Like It and really enjoyed it. And, I mean, this book was a little dark so, I’m like —

Kay: You could use some fluff.

Chelsea: I could stand to lighten things up a little bit with some romance. Yeah, a little bit of fluff in there. And then I am, yet again, down the rabbit hole of Sons of Anarchy fanfiction because I have weaknesses.

Kay: I didn’t even know that was happening right now.

Chelsea: I have weaknesses. I own that.

Claire: That feels like the kind of thing that you would enjoy.

Chelsea: Yeah, I just, you know. People who know me are not surprised that in a super homoerotic show about dudes on motorcycles —

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: — I’d just decide that they didn’t need to have sex with any ladies and they should just have sex with each other instead.

Kay: Well, there you go.

Chelsea: And it’s, it’s just the best. I’m feeling very, like, because I am doing everything I can in, like, the actual political spheres to, like, wreck difference and it’s still ughhhh, I can’t do anything about it. I’m just like, ‘What can I do in my own mind that would really piss off the GOP the most?’ And I feel like the Sons of Anarchy rabbit hole —

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: — is just, like, where that’s gonna hang out. So it’s also just like some inner rebellion going on.

Kay: Sure.

Chelsea: But that, that’s what I’m reading at the moment. Uh, Miss Claire, what do you have going on?

Claire: Well, much like yourself, I have just finished reading the book for the podcast —


Claire: — because I make great life choices.

Kay: Same.

Chelsea: It’s cool.

Claire: Because I make great life choices, probably I should be reading some ARCs I have piling up on my NetGalley, but instead I have been reading a lot of Les Miserables fanfiction. Also, I have started actually reading Les Miserables, which I have not read more than a few excerpts of it for school.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: A very, very long time ago.

Chelsea: [sighs] That’s a, that’s a big one, Claire.

Claire: Yeah.

Kay: It’s a real doorstopper.

Claire: I have it on my Kindle, so it was free. I have it on my Kindle in French, because I’m French so I thought, you know. It makes no sense to read a translation.

Chelsea: Just like, ohmygod.

Claire: And, uh, I just started it and it opens with this epigraph that is a quote about this book will always be relevant so long as there is injustice in the world. And the quote is like two pages long. And it’s a single sentence. And…

Chelsea: Yes.

Claire: I think that sets me up about right for the entire book. Which is, in fact, enormous.


Claire: And that, that makes me happy —

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s huge.

Claire: — but I haven’t, uh, bought an actual copy of that because I know my mother has a very beautiful leather bound copy in many, many volumes that belonged to my grandfather, back in the day. And, uh.

Chelsea: Aw, that’s cool.

Claire: Yes. I’m…you know. I think I might buy a copy in English, but that one is, like, the copy in French that I will have one day. So. Yes.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. That’s very cool. What about you, Miss Kay? What are you reading?

Kay: Um, I’m temporarily distracted by someone who just got a hole in one outside my window. Sorry, there’s, like, people jumping and shouting.


Chelsea: By the way, Kay lives on a golf course, if you think that’s a weird thing to be happening.

Kay: I live on a golf course, I get a really good deal subletting from a relative because it’s Phoenix and no one wants to live here in the summer. And, um, I’m right on the, like, tee box of a par three, so, like, every once in awhile there’s just, like, people screaming outside my window ‘cause they got a hole in one. Which, like, I don’t blame them for being excited.

Chelsea: Yeah, that’s cool.

Kay: But it’s always hilarious. Anyway! Things that I am reading right now.


Kay: I just finished rereading Hard Knocks by Ruby Lang. Um, which is this adorable romance between a neurologist and a hockey player.

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: And she’s, like, obsessed with concussions and her dad has, like, post-concussive syndrome because he was a boxer when he was a young man.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: And he is, like, having health difficulties. So it’s very fraught and great. ‘Cause I was looking for some hockey romances to put together for a Book Riot piece. So I reread that and then I realized the sequel was coming out. So I also just finished reading an ARC of Clean Breaks by Ruby Lang, which is also really cute. And then I also, literally like twenty minutes before we started recording, in the car finished the audiobook of Abaddon’s Gate.

Chelsea: Nice.

Kay: Which is the third book of Men Fail at Everything: A Space Opera. Also known as The Expanse series.

Chelsea: Yeah, man, you are really chugging along. Yeah.

Kay: Yeah, so, those books are always super long. Like this one, if I wasn’t doing the audiobook, it’s like 530 something pages.

Chelsea: Damn. That’s a lot.

Kay: And I feel like the pacing on them is very strange. People, feel free to argue with me on this, but I feel like the first quarter of them’s always really slow, and then it’s breakneck for 300-odd pages. I don’t know why you’d do that?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Like, it’s fine, but I always go into it being like, ‘Why is this so slow?’ And then I’m like, ‘My heart is beating so fast,’ for the rest of it. I dunno. I liked it.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: But I didn’t quite like it as much as the second one.

Chelsea: Mmkay. And there are four books or five out in that series?

Kay: I think the sixth one just came out…last fall?

Chelsea: Oh, okay. Did it?

Kay: I’m probably wrong.

Chelsea: I knew there was a bunch of them.

Kay: Renay is gonna mock me mercilessly for not knowing this, it’s fine.

Chelsea: Renay is, like, screaming at us in her car right now.

Kay: She’s screaming at us right now. The second series of the tv adaptation just started, though. And it’s, like, all of my favorite lady characters from the second book are showing up, now, so I’m really excited about that. Everyone watch The Expanse.

Chelsea: Speaking of tv, and especially good overlap with today’s book, uh, I started watching Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix.

Kay: How is that?

Claire: That’s next on my list.

Chelsea: With Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant. It’s so good.

Kay: I do love her.

Chelsea: It’s hilarious.

Claire: I do love her and zombies.

Chelsea: I do love Drew Barrymore. Yes. I’m okay on zombies, but Timothy Olyphant as her husband fucking makes that entire show.

Kay: Okay, is it zombies or cannibals? Or kinda both?

Chelsea: It’s zombies.

Kay: Okay.

Chelsea: Like, you learn in the first episode that, like, you don’t know how or why, but like in the first episode you definitely learn that she’s undead.

Kay: Okay.

Chelsea: Like, she is a zombie. Um, so like, you know, if there’s, if like gory bothers…she does eat some people.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: It looks very tv blood from what I’ve seen.

Chelsea: So if that bothers you. Yeah.

Claire: From what I’ve seen in, like, the tv trailers and whatever, it doesn’t really look gross in the way that, you know.

Chelsea: No.

Claire: I dunno. Hannibal, for instance, was made to look very beautifully gross.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Is it more like iZombie? Or have you not seen…?

Chelsea: Um…it’s a little. I would say because it’s a Netflix show and it’s kind of, it’s definitely more of an HBO or Showtime kinda thing, I’d say it’s maybe a little bit more extreme than iZombie.

Kay: Okay.

Chelsea: I mean, I would say it’s a realistic amount of blood for eating someone.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: It’s not, like, comically gross, but it is definitely like…

Kay: Okay.

Chelsea: It happens onscreen. So. You know. It’s not so much that you couldn’t just close your eyes or take a bathroom break and come back and it’s be fine.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: But I just, it’s cracking me up. It really is hilarious. So. Gonna do a little bit of shoutout to that non-book piece of media.

Kay: It’s going on the list of things I’ll think about watching. I’m bad at tv, mostly.

Chelsea: Yeah, yeah, put it on your consideration list.

Kay: Okay.

Chelsea: But, um, I guess then we will go ahead and transition to talking about Certain Dark Things, which is our book of this podcast.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]

Chelsea: Uh, Claire, you want to do a little plot recap for us?

Claire: So, this was my pick and I picked it because I read Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s other novel, her debut novel Signal to Noise and I really, really loved that book. So, I thought, you know. Certain Dark Things. Why not? It is a vampire book.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: And it is quite a dark and gritty vampire book.

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: [high pitched whisper] Yeah.

Claire: It’s not, uh, you know.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: It’s not nice sweet vampires. We follow this story, well, we follow a lot of different characters, but our main kind of point of view character who introduces us to this whole world is a kid called Domingo who is a garbage collector. And he meets this beautiful girl in the subway and immediately he’s intrigued. She invites him over, uh, to her place. He follows her and then we realize very quickly she is, in fact, a vampire. But she’s not your traditional vampire from pop culture. She’s, uh, a vampire who is descended from a very long line of Aztec vampires. And, um, there are a lot of vampire, kind of, breeds in the novel that are really well described.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: So she, she’s called Atl, she’s on the run from some really bad people who, uh, killed her family in a drug bust.

Kay: Really bad people.

Chelsea: Really bad. [laughs]

Claire: And, um, so we follow Domingo and Atl and, uh, the people who are after them including a very, very nasty guy called Nick Godoy, who’s a vampire —

[Chelsea laughs]

Claire: — and also, just, like, the worst. I think we can all agree.

Chelsea: Yeah. So awful, but it’s so good.

Kay: He’s a terrible dude.

Chelsea: Oh, yeah.

Claire: He’s just a terrible man, person.

Chelsea: Terrible.

Claire: Yeah. And we also follow the cop who’s trying to kinda catch them. Um.

Kay: [sighs] Oh, Ana.

Claire: Yeah.

Kay: [sadly] I love her.

Chelsea: We’ll get there.

Claire: I mean, like, there’s a lot of kinda very, very, very graphic violence.

Chelsea: Yes.

Claire: And, uh, Kay I know you’re not massively into body horror. I wanna say I’m sorry I made you read this. [laughs]

Kay: [keening] There were some parts of this book —

Chelsea: I warned you about that scene with the eye stuff.

Kay: — where I’m just like oh. He just threw a knife into someone’s eye. OKAY.


Chelsea: I warned you there was eye stuff.

Kay: I appreciated the warning. [laughs]

Chelsea: ‘Cause I know that that’s a squick for a lot of people.

Claire: I was reading this and going, ‘Oh my god, poor Kay.’

Chelsea: Yeah. Which, like, I was thinking ‘poor Kay,’ but at the same time I was also like, ‘Yessss.’


Claire: Oh, well, same.

Chelsea: All the good, bloody vampires!

Kay: Like, people always think it’s really strange that body horror in books bother me ‘cause I love horror movies, but, like, a horror movie or tv show I know is really fake. My imagination is, like, super vivid.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: So when I’m reading things I’m like, ‘Oh, GOD.’ Ugh.


Chelsea: Yeah, yeah. It’s just, and like. That’s, I will say, I’m usually pretty neutral on vampire books. Vampires aren’t, like, my jam when it comes to supernatural creatures?

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: But if you’re gonna give me vampires I don’t want any of these, like, sparkly, trying to blend in with humanity kinda vampires.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: I want my vampires ripping out throats.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: And, like, hunting down, like, badass, just those are the vampires that I want.

Kay: You want the apex predator vampire.

Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah, so that worked for me.

Claire: Obviously I am more into zombies and werewolves. Because they are just —

Chelsea: yes.

Claire: — objectively better magical creatures.


Chelsea: Oh my god, we’re going to get so many angry tweets after this podcast.

Claire: But, like, yeah. Vampires are kind of on a lower level for me where I’m not that, ya know, I can take it or leave it. If it’s well done I can be into it.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: I thought that the vampires and the, like, different breeds and races of vampires were really well done. Like, that wasn’t my main…I was…

Chelsea: Quibble?

Claire: Yeah, I just found it a bit difficult to get super engaged with the story. I don’t know if it’s just that there were too many point of views.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Characters. We didn’t really get enough time with each of them. I dunno.

Kay: You know what my big problem was? I thought the worldbuilding was really cool. Every time she got into worldbuilding stuff I was like, ‘This is awesome.’

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: I like that she’s giving scientific kind of explanations for things. I love when you do that with fantasy stuff.

Claire: True.

Kay: But every time she would mention a character offscreen I was like, ‘I want their story instead.’ Or like, I want the story —

Chelsea: That’s what I was gonna say!

Kay: — of this old man vampire being a surgeon in, like, the Mexican Revolution or whenever he was. I want that story! I don’t really care about these narco vampires.

Chelsea: I don’t want the, like, perspective of the girl who is hiding in the cooler when her whole family was murdered.

Kay: Yeah!

Chelsea: I want the story of her whole family as they’re battling this other vampire clan.

Claire: I just didn’t really think that, uh, I had trouble with, like, Domingo and Atl? Both of them. Like, I just, you know —

Kay: I liked Domingo more than anyone else in this.

Claire: — I didn’t understand what was driving him apart from the fact that there’s a girl and she’s hot.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: Which, like, is not enough for me. Even though he’s not, like, a disgusting dude like Nick.

Chelsea: Yeah, he’s just, I guess I didn’t like the way the romance, I thought it was forced in there very awkwardly at like the end.

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: The whole book Atl is like no. No. Not having it. No. Except —

Claire: I thought that was really cool.

Chelsea: — at the very end.

Claire: I didn’t really expect it to turn.

Chelsea: Yeah, it would’ve been so much better if she had just not. If they had just not gone down that path.

Kay: If there was either no romance or way more romance. It needed to be one or the other.

Chelsea: Yeah, exactly.

Claire: It was. I just. I didn’t buy the idea that at the end, they, you know, the very end of the novel hinges, uh, on him saying, ‘I love you. Do you –’ and he doesn’t ask her if she loves him. And she doesn’t say anything and somehow he like takes that as understanding that she loves him. And I’m like, you don’t know her well enough for this. You do not know that woman and just. Yeah. I mean.

Chelsea: ‘Cause this book takes place over, what, like a week? Not even?

Kay: I think so.

Chelsea: So it’s not like they have tons of time together, to like —

Claire: And it’s like —

Chelsea: — fall in love and have a deep, intimate relationship.

Claire: — you know, sometimes, when people fall in love over a stupidly short periods of time, it’s okay because they’re cute and they’re Marius and Cosette. And in this case —


Claire: — it’s not because, you know, she wants to eat him.

Chelsea: Yeah, no, it’s not okay with Marius and Cosette either.

Claire: But in the book —

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: And just, like, Eponine is right there and we just can’t go, we just can’t have that conversation.

Claire: Yeah, but in the book.

Chelsea: And that’s, like, a rabbit hole down which we cannot walk. Anyway. Yeah. Sometimes it doesn’t read as forced as it did in this context, in this book. I really liked the idea of, like I wanted more of the story of why Mexico City had walled itself off.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: And become a city-state. Like, they talk about it a little bit, with, like, kind of trying to stay safe from the vampires and keeping out different drug cartels. But this clearly is taking place in some kind of, like, near future, like, kind of, not post-apocalyptic, but there’s clearly a reason Mexico City has formed its own city-state.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Outside of the rest of Mexico.

Claire: Right, we’ve got this alternative universe —

Chelsea: I wanted more of that story.

Claire: — that up in 1967 or something when they found out vampires were real.

Kay: I thought it was ‘58. Right? Yeah.

Claire: And I find that super interesting. It’s just that I, like, I mean. I don’t think that Moreno-Garcia was trying to write something that was, like, super uplifting or whatever.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: Like, clearly.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: I don’t think that as she was writing it she’s thinking those characters are, like, fabulous people that we will root for forever.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: You know. I mean, perhaps she has a bit more sympathy for them than we, as readers, do. But I think, generally, for me, because of how bleak the future is and because of how violent the vampires are I feel like I would like, I would have more affection, I feel like I would like the narrative better if it had something more uplifting to give me. And I feel like —

Kay and Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: — if we’d been following Ana longer and if she’d been more successful. I mean, at the end of the book you don’t even know what happens to her kid. Like.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: You know.

Chelsea: Yeah. And I think that that’s, I think that that, for me, I think that that’s a pacing problem.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: Because the end of the book happened very fast.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Like, the whole book is building up to this showdown between Nick Godoy and Atl, and they are literally settling this, like, blood feud. But then, like, several important characters get, like, not offscreen deaths, but it’s just a very brief mention and then you move along.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: It’s just. Everything happens very quickly.

Kay: The final showdown is, ‘cause I was reading an ebook —

Claire: On Kindle.

Kay: — the final showdown is like 5% of the whole book. And, like.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: You lose a bunch of the main, even several of the viewpoint characters, in that 5% and I’m like, ‘Waaaaitttt. What, really?’ [laughs]

Chelsea: Yeah, exactly. And, like, I had to go back and reread so they’re, like, actually dead. Like.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: I didn’t just, like, read it too fast.

Kay: I kind of had a Sirius Black moment, where I was like, ‘Wait, is this like a curtain situation? Did I miss something?’ And I was going back several pages to make sure someone’s actually dead.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: I was particularly annoyed with the thing with the dog at the end. Because what happens is they’re in the final showdown and Atl’s dog, which has been with her all along, is shot by, um —

Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah, that was totally unnecessary.

Claire: — the cop and I was like, ‘Noooo. Puppy!’ Even though it was like —

Chelsea: Well, it was shot and then you find out later that it dies.

Claire: No!

Chelsea: Like, it doesn’t make it explicit —

Claire: It doesn’t die. Does it die?

Chelsea: — so I’m sitting there thinking.

Claire: Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? ‘Cause they shoot it and then —

Kay: Doesn’t he have the dog in the epilogue? Am I crazy?

Claire: No, no, the dog doesn’t die. My point is that Atl leaves Domingo. And Domingo walks back and finds the dog still alive. And she’s left five minutes ago. And it’s like, you can’t just take this girl’s dog that’s like. What? How?!

Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah.

Claire: That’s the only thing.

Kay: He has the dog. I’m double checking this right now. The dog lives.

Chelsea: I was gonna say, I must’ve not, I must’ve just read it too fast and missed that part of it. I. Yeah.

Claire: And on the one hand the dog lives and on the other hand she left her dog.

Kay: How come the dog gets to live?

Claire: How?

Chelsea: Right? Like you didn’t stop to double check that shit and make sure it’s actually dead before you just, like, moved along? It’s been your only companion for, like, years?

Claire: Domingo doesn’t say to her the dog is dead. He says to her the cop lady shot him. Which is accurate.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. And then she just, like, assumes. Yeah. Um. Although. I will say. I did like Nick Godoy.

Claire: Well. I mean.

Chelsea: I will throw that out there. I really liked not liking Nick Godoy. I thought he was one of the better characters we got in the novel.

Claire: Yeah, the love hate for–

[Kay shudders]

Claire: — I feel he made a lot of sense as a character and you can imagine —

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: — he’s quite realistic.

Chelsea: And he’s such a good villain. Ugh. I love a good villain.

Claire: I mean, he’s like one of those Umbridge-type characters, right? He’s just irredeemable. And it’s just lovely to, you know, just see him get his comeuppance. Um.

Chelsea: Yeah. Well, it’s nice, because not only is he an awful person just because he’s a ruthless bloodthirsty vampire, but he’s also got that spoiled rich boy syndrome going on.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: He just wants literally everything his way and if he doesn’t get it he literally calls his dad and throws a tantrum till he gets things to be his way. So it’s two different kind of really fucking awful in like the same.

Kay: I like how young the two main vampires we see for most of the book are.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: It’s very clear how young they are and not just for like, us, but as vampires they’re super young.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Yeah, and I think if we didn’t have Nick as a villain and if we didn’t have Nick as a villain also being as young as Atl, like, she would seem a lot worse. Because she is very spoiled, but at the same time, like, she is shown to care about things like, you know, well I don’t want to murder people, I don’t want to kill humans for no reason —

Chelsea: Unless I have to, yeah.

Claire: — ‘cause it’s dishonorable. I mean, you know, there is a lot of humans are neanderthal and they’re beneath me, they are nothing, I could just crush them, muahahaha.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: As she thinks that she’s like, no I can’t just be, she has some kind of restraint which we’re shown he very clearly doesn’t and I think he’s a good foil for her. I quite like the, um, the bit where, um, we’re told where they first met and it’s in a club.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: And he goes to talk to her and she’s like no. That’s why he hates her, really.

Chelsea: Yeah. [laughs]

Claire: The true reason behind him hating her.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: And I’m like, yeah, yeah, that feels realistic.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. Yeah. I think, and I really like the way that both of them because they’re so, the background they come from, is so wealthy and Domingo is so not, like he literally lives in the underground sewer tunnels and collects trash for a living.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: So we get to see a lot of cool, like, not outright discussions, but clearly implied differences in, like, class, and the way their backgrounds in terms of class and socioeconomics like really influences the way that they see things and the way that they’re interacting with the world. And that plays into because there’s a lot of interclass stuff between the vampires. Like.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: We’re given several different vampire races and they all have, you know, their views of one another based on, you know, the unfair assumptions that beings make on other beings that are different from them.

Claire: Right. I quite liked the um.

Chelsea: That just happen to be vampires.

Claire: I quite liked the kind of, uh, aristocracy versus, uh, rich, like, uh merchant families kind of vibe that you have going on between the Aztec vampires whose name I’m not gonna try to pronounce because that would be terrible.

Chelsea: Yeah, no. I mean, I got nothing.

Claire: But the vampire race that Atl is and the necros, which is what Nick Godoy is. Where, um, the necros are the youngest vampire race and Atl’s family is descended from these Aztec vampires who were priestesses and goddesses and whatever, and so there’s very much this, like, who are these new rich people? Who do they think they are? We were so powerful so long ago we were revered, blah blah blah. And there’s a lot of, you know, stuff about the sanctity of the bond between the vampires and their human servants in that, in that family.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Which.

Chelsea: I like that they’re called Renfields. I like that they make that, several straight out, like, homages to Dracula. I thought that was a nice little touch.

Claire: Right. But she doesn’t like that term because it’s, like, crass.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: You know, there’s very much this, like, no, I’m actually better than you, not because I’m a vampire and you’re a human, but because I’m a vampire and you’re a, like, shitty vampire, basically. [laughs]

Chelsea: Yeah, basically. It’s like old money versus new money.

Claire: Yeah, that’s my point.

Chelsea: And now, we are, exactly. Yeah.

Claire: And so I quite like that and I. I dunno. I felt that the only way that it was even barely acceptable for me that there was this weird romance between Domingo and Atl was the, like, bond between a loyal human servant and a vampire.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. Yeah. Which. And I agree, I think they probably could’ve done that without any romance at all.

Claire: Yeah.

Kay: [sighs] Yeah.

Chelsea: Or they could’ve up the romance from the beginning. It was. Yeah. But. Is there anything that we didn’t, like, was particularly that we did not enjoy about the book?

Claire: Nah, I quite liked the graphic violence.

Chelsea: In particular?

[Kay shudders]

Chelsea: Yeah, I was okay with how bloody it was. [laughs]

Claire: Sorry, Kay.

Kay: Kay did not enjoy the graphic violence.


Chelsea: Which all probably could’ve predicted.

Kay: But it’s whatever.

Chelsea: Favorite parts?

Claire: I didn’t realize quite how violent it was gonna be when I recommended it. Um.

Chelsea: And it has, like, some down points. At least it’s not, like, nonstop graphic violence and people being eaten. Like they take naps. There are some scenes of recovery.

Kay: Yeah, I didn’t think any of it was gratuitous, either. There was nothing in there that was gross to just be gross. It was all plot relevant. But, yeah.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: That’s not my personal favorite thing.

Chelsea: Yeah. And I don’t blame you, but if you’re gonna make bloody vampires you’re gonna need to–

Claire: I mean.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: You’re gonna need to shed some blood on the page. [laughs]

Claire: I think it succeeded at what it was trying to do, but I would say that, uh, probably what I wanted it to do, what I wished it would’ve done was a bit different. Like, like Kay, I really, really enjoyed the worldbuilding stuff and I would’ve wanted to know more about that, for instance. Um, I really, really liked the detail that, um, Atl’s vampire powers are kind of bird-like. So.

Kay and Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: She doesn’t change into a bat.

Kay: She has wings!

Claire: Or a wolf, or whatever, but she’s almost harpy-like. She has these beautiful black feathers and whatever. And so, she, she has sharp features, almost looks like a beak at times, and she sleeps in a nest!

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s really cute.

Claire: She has a little cupboard with some blankets.

Chelsea: I also thought harpy when, yeah. Like when she was described I also thought harpy. I also thought that evoked some really cool stuff, there. I…I dunno. I think my favorite part was a part we could’ve gotten more of, and that is, like, the interactions of vampires with history. We get it a little bit when they talk about Bernardino serving in the early wars. And obviously Atl’s family is descended from the Aztecs. So obviously that is, like, an entirely different book than what book Garcia is writing, but I would really like to see her try and tackle, like, a sequel that essentially just tells the story of Atl’s mom and how she kind of like became this vampire queen.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: ‘Cause all of Atl’s family sounds really awesome. Like, descended from a line of, like, religious badass Aztec warrior women? Like, I’m here for that.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: So just the little bits of that were my favorite parts.

Kay: I do like all the nods to vampire lore that we do get, though. The Renfield thing, and the various different types of vampires all have different like, kinds of nods to vampire stuff. One of my favorite moments is, I actually bookmarked it, um, Domingo knocks some salt over and the tiny grains rolled across the table. Atl stared at them. If she didn’t count them she was going to scream.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: So, like, the obsession with counting goes way back to, like, old school vampire lore.

Chelsea: Oh, yeah.

Claire: Oh, really?

Kay: Like, you could get away if you could knock over a bag of rice and they would have to stop and count them all.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: So you could run away while they were counting the rice.

Chelsea: I was gonna say, that’s like old school vampire mythology.

Kay: Old school vampire stuff. And just the tiny little moments like that, I loved. This book is really beautifully written.

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: And the worldbuilding is so cool. I wish I liked the actual plot of it more.

Chelsea: The plot?

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: Yeah, I would say —

Chelsea: [laughs] Yeah.

Claire: I, I was super interested, also, in, like, not just how Atl’s mother became this badass vampire queen, but just, like, their culture in general. Because it was like, almost this —

Kay and Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: — well, I’m assuming, matriarchal thing, where she tells Domingo, who, like, wants to protect her and stuff, which, like, mmhmm.

Chelsea: Okay, buddy.

Claire: Bless you, child.

Chelsea: That’s cute.

Kay: Poor seventeen-year-old boy.

Claire: And, um, she tells him that in her family, in her, like, race of vampires, the men are weak and they, like, have to go and live separately and, like, be instructed in what the menfolk do. Then the women are instructed in, like, politics and combat and she’s a warrior and all that and I thought that would’ve been, that would’ve been, uh, cool to see.

Chelsea: Yeah, I agree. I think that ‘cause they talk about distinctions of power, which I think is interesting in terms of Ana. Ana has a lot of interesting insights into the, like, actual human world of gender politics and she works in the Mexican police department and she deals with a lot of bullshit.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Because she’s a woman in the police force, and not only is she a woman in the police force, but in the Mexican police force, which comes with, for her, an extra level of, like, gendered bullshit to have to put up with. So, like, I thought that was a really interesting, like, seeing her and how she interacted with, like, men and seeing Atl and how she interacted with Domingo. I thought that was a cool, like, kind of counterpoint to one another.

Claire: Yeah, I just. I just wish that we’d had more um, um, I just wish that plot line had been tied up a bit more cleanly.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: Because Ana goes, I mean, she’s subdued by, um, she’s subdued by Nick because his type of vampire can control minds and stuff.

Chelsea and Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: And basically, he’s telling her that people are threatening her daughter and that if she doesn’t let him bite her so she can be mind controlled by him her daughter’s gonna die. And then, at the end, Ana, like, dies in a field and that’s, you don’t know what’s happened to her daughter, you don’t know, like, if the, um, you don’t know if the gang that she —

Chelsea: Yeah, you don’t know anything.

Claire: — double crossed under duress is going to, like, take revenge. I mean.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. Yeah. And it feels, it feels awkward that it’s not mentioned because so much of Ana’s storyline has to do with —

Kay: Her daughter.

Chelsea: — trying to provide a better life for her daughter and wanting to have a good relationship with her daughter.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: And we see her daughter a couple of times, so —

Claire: And she thinks about her. She also thinks about her.

Chelsea: — it feels like an ending that didn’t get. Yeah.

Claire: She obviously also thinks about her daughter, she thinks about her daughter’s safety, which is something you expect from any parent, really, but she also thinks about her daughter because, as we said before, the vampires are so young. And so they look like her daughter’s age and she thinks about them in that context, as well. Which, you know, is uh. Yeah. Yeah.

Chelsea: Is interesting. Is. Yeah. Is interesting. Um, I think that, on the whole, having read this one and Signal to Noise, I think that if you, if vampires aren’t your thing, then the writing style is very similar between the two. So I would definitely pick up Signal to Noise. Signal to Noise is a lot more, like, magical realism stuff, but it’s also set in Mexico City so there’s a lot of, like, similar cultural things happening, but I really, I preferred Signal to Noise. So if you’re just not quite sold on vampires definitely still check out Moreno-Garcia’s work, because she’s got beautiful sentences.

Kay: I mean, I’m planning on reading that. You guys have both read that before, right? I’m the only one who hadn’t?

Claire: Right. And the thing is, Signal to Noise —

Kay: I’m definitely gonna read it.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: ‘Cause her writing is beautiful. But this one was not, as much, For Me.

Claire: But Signal to Noise only has the one point of view character in a dual timeline. So instead of having being divided into like five or six different points of view, which makes it a bit difficult to really dig into the characters, it’s one woman as an adult and then her as a girl when she was in school. And although she’s not, like, 100% likeable, like, she has flaws, she is —

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s. Mmhmm.

Claire: — a character that makes a lot more sense as a character, I think, because we have more time to focus on her.

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s just definitely not as dark, either, like, obviously since it’s not about vampires it’s kind of a different tone and thing, but I definitely, obviously, Signal to Noise is definitely the lighter.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: Not only in terms of, like, physical violence, but just in tone it’s not nearly as, kind of, uh, grimdark as Certain Dark Things got. At times.

Kay: I find it super interesting that Claire did not love the multiple points of view, ‘cause that was one of the things I liked the most about this. And I don’t normally read things with a lot of points of view —

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: — cause that’s more of a fantasy thing, and, again, I don’t read a ton of fantasy, and it’s really more of a high fantasy thing, which I almost never read.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Which, I liked that there were lots of points of view in this because it’s, I would say it’s kind of urban fantasy. Borderline. Ish? Um, and you almost never get multiple POVs in urban fantasy. It’s almost always first person, one narrator.

Claire: And I love multiple POVs, and I read more fantasy than Kay does, including high fantasy.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: And I love a good multiple point of view when, like, it’s well done, but. And I don’t think that it’s badly done, I just think there’s not enough time.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: You know, the thing about those multiple points of view epic fantasy books is that they’re, like, twice as long as this. And this is not a short novel, it’s like normal length of 300 pages, right? But. You know.

Kay: 320-something, yeah.

Chelsea: Yeah, but that’s not a ton of time if you’re gonna set up —

Claire: Right. And, I, I —

Chelsea: — three or four different relatable. Yeah.

Claire: — you know, I have my issues with it, but I love the writing in A Song of Ice & Fire. I love how the points of view are done in that.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: But there’s a lot more of it.

Chelsea: But again —

Claire: There’s more time for each character, you know? I mean, this is also Moreno-Garcia’s second book, so. You know. Like, I’m looking forward to reading everything else that she puts out. Basically.

Kay and Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: And I’ll definitely be, be looking at the next thing that she puts out. Because it’s one of the, one of the lovely things about noticing the debut novel by an author that you like, is being able to see them get better and better and better. ‘Cause, you know. I mean.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. Yeah.

Claire: That’s how, like, a career works.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. I’m excited to see her third one. I’m excited to see, again, her prose when she’s not dealing with vampires and something that, just, by nature I’m not, like, it takes a lot to win me over to a vampire novel.


Chelsea: Like, I will admit that it’s a bit of a bar. So. Um, alright, do we have any other big thoughts on Certain Dark Things?

Kay: I feel like you guys don’t like Domingo even close to as much as I do. Like, he was by far my favorite part of this book.

Chelsea and Claire: Really?

Claire: I just thought he was a bit naive.

Kay: Yeah, for, like, a lot of reasons. So I’m like.

Chelsea: Yeah, he’s okay. I just have, like literally zero thoughts about him, which maybe is not a great thing.


Chelsea: Just, he was alright.

Kay: I feel like you guys think his motivations make no sense, but, like, there’s all these moments where he says things and it’s just like, ‘You poor abused child. No wonder.’

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: Like there’s a point where he literally says, ‘It was nice being needed. It made you feel special.’ And I was like, oh, you poor baby.

Chelsea: Awww.

Kay: I just can’t. And there’s another point where he’s like, ‘Garbage is good. Trash pickers work hard. We sift through the crap and find treasures. It doesn’t pay too much and there are people who get a lot more than you do, but there’s no one beating you at the end of the day.’ And like, if those are your life expectations Atl is great to him.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: And I totally get why he is obsessed with her and wants to continue to, like, help her.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: But oh, I just had a lot of feelings about him.

Chelsea: See now I feel all callous and heartless ‘cause I’m just like, ‘meh.’

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: Domingo. Whatever. Human.

Claire: I dunno, I have a lot of feeling, I have a lot of not great feelings about the way that things get wrapped up. I think if there hadn’t been a romance I would’ve liked him much better. But I’m just generally annoyed with the idea, I, I find it difficult to enjoy any male character who’s like, ‘So I’m gonna get together with this girl,’ and she’s like, ‘Nah, you’re not,’ and he keeps thinking that. And I realize that in his case it doesn’t come across as threatening in the way that it comes across in a lot of other things, but it’s not like he knows her.

Chelsea: I was gonna say it’s very sweet in the way that he does it, it’s not creepy like it does at other times, but yeah.

Claire: It’s not like based on him having deep feelings for who she is as a person, he’s just, she’s, she’s pretty and she’s nice to him and that’s obviously something that you know.

Chelsea: But, like, here’s my thing! She’s not nice to him. [laughs] She’s really not nice to him.

Kay: No, she’s not, but she’s nicer to him than most people have been in his life.

Chelsea: Yes. She is. In, in the fact that she’s been willing to give him time and attention and —

Kay: Yes.

Chelsea: — and like give him money for the things, like the functional things he needs in his life, but like. I think my thing is I, I feel bad when he’s like, buying her nice things.

Kay: The watch!

Chelsea: And he’s buy her watches and she’s like, ‘Nah, bro, don’t do that.’ And I understand she’s pushing him away because she has her own emotional trauma.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: But at a certain point I just wanna be like, Domingo. Honey. Sweetie. Baby. She’s not having it.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: I just. You’re so sweet. But it’s just not gonna happen.

Claire: Yeah, and I mean, mostly I was going, ‘No, don’t do this!’ when he was, like, buying her a watch. I was like, ‘No, dude, you could be eating for a month!’

Kay: I knowwww.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Don’t do that!

Kay: Darling, this is a terrible decision.

Claire: Right.

Chelsea: Right? [laughs]

Kay: But his thinking, there, I’m fairly sure is, I can just go back to picking garbage like before and I was fine.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Because he always thinks that he’s fine, even when his situation is fairly dire to, you know, our point of view.

Chelsea: Yeah, and he is very, he is very intrepid. And, I mean, you know, he’s a survivor, man. He literally has survived a very shitty childhood on the streets and is making do and relatively okay with his life of becoming what he’s become. And it’s very. I did think that was very realistic. He’s very. He doesn’t know what to do when Atl first gives him money.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: And he’s very, kind of, lost. Like, he doesn’t, like, he feels very odd just going and buying clothes and going and buying a meal of food. And it’s something that’s, just, very out of the ordinary for him. And I thought that whole, like, series of scenes was handled really well.

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: I mean, that’s —

Kay: And the moments when he’s telling her he knows what it’s like to be hungry.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: And he keeps trying to get her to feed on him? That. That. Oh my god.

Chelsea: Yeah. And, like, especially because then she looks at him and she gives him crap about it. You are right, I do imagine you do know what it’s like to be hungry.

Claire: And also she’s like —

Chelsea: Like, starvingly hungry.

Claire: — she says she’s fine in her body, but she’s psychologically not fine. She’s never had to be hungry before. She’s always, she’s never really had to think how am I going to get my meal of human blood that is, like, young and fresh and whatever, you know?

Chelsea: Yeah. [laughs]

Claire: So she understands that even though her hunger is very different from his, you know, he’s, he’s just able to deal with it better than she is.

Chelsea: Yeah. He’s, yeah.

Claire: And so, I like those discussions between them. I just, yeah. I wanted to hug him.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: And make him make better life decisions.

Chelsea: I know.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: But, and I mean, I dunno. At the end there are ways that it’s handled that she tries to cut, like, she pushes him away and she leaves him for the betterment of his life so as not to involve him in all of her vampire struggles going forward. But it still is, just, like. Nothing works out for Domingo, man. Like. [laughs]

Claire: At the end of the book he ends up with, like.

Chelsea: He ends up with a private bank account, he ends up with, like, money, he has that, but like, he loves her.

Claire: Right. He ends up with money and also a dog that the gangs of the city know belonged to her and they are after her and that dog is not going to, like, look, is not going to be inconspicuous. Right?


Claire: And he also ends up having killed someone for her. You know? And it’s like, well, it’s not like he didn’t have a lot of trauma already. Just add it to the tab. Just like, poor guy.

Chelsea: Awww. Poor Domingo.

Kay: Poor Domingo.

Claire: Yeah, I was just a bit. Like, the epilogue is him having a dream about her and I was just like, could the epilogue not be him being settled and happy, please? Like. Having moved away, couldn’t —

Chelsea: Right? We can’t get one little glimmer of sunshine?

Claire: — the epilogue be, like, he’s moved away to the countryside and has a small vegetable garden?

[Chelsea laughs]

Claire: That would’ve been nice.

Kay: I mean, we’ll just have to write the fic, okay?


Chelsea: There you go. We’ll just have to write some fix-it fic.

Kay: Post-canon fluff where he’s got a vegetable garden and a dog.

Chelsea: Oh, man. A dog that is known to the narco gangs of Mexico.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Totally chill future lifestyle. [laughs] Oh, man.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]

Chelsea: Well in that case, I will go ahead. The next book we are going to read is my pick. And we are reading The Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. This is a piece of young adult fantasy that is set in Prague and tells the story of Karu, who has spent her entire life with a found family of monsters and halflings and hybrid animal creatures um, until one day some angels show up and rob her of her family and she doesn’t know why. So she goes in search of answers. Which lead her down a rabbit hole of some super, uh, big revelations. I am recommending this book because this is one of my lifelong, ride or die, heterosexual OTPs.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: Of which there are very few. So. Yeah. We’ll be back in a couple weeks to talk about that.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]

Chelsea: Otherwise, what does everyone have going forward on the docket. Anybody have big stuff?

Claire: Um, I did some recording last weekend, as we’re recording this podcast, last weekend I did some recording of videos and then completely failed to edit them for an entire week. So, um.


Claire: I’m gonna have to do that, um, coming up. And then these will come out as we go in the month. I did a couple of, um, I’m probably going to have out, by the time this podcast comes out, a couple of On My Shelf videos, where people on Twitter told me, like, a bunch of numbers and I went and picked books according to that on my shelf. So just kind of random.

Chelsea: I love those videos.

Kay: Same.

Claire: A lot of them are from my TBR shelf, actually, and even those that aren’t I haven’t read a whole lot of them.


Claire: So it’s going to be an entertaining one. But it’s a really nice mix. The ones that, the books that ended up on that list, and I still have a whole, like, bunch of stuff that I do want to record, but, uh, it’s, uh, you know. It’s always difficult to find the time. So, uh, gonna be stuff on the YouTube channel.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: As ever. And also it’s not anything that I’m doing, but I did want to squeal about it with you guys, ‘cause I’ve just found out I went to add Certain Dark Things on my Goodreads now, and —

Chelsea: Do you have the reread?

Claire: — they’ve added a reread function!

Chelsea: Yeah!

Kay: So excited.

Chelsea: Yes, this is so exciting for everyone who uses Goodreads. It’s only taken them a million and a half years.

Claire: I know.

Chelsea: But Goodreads now has a reread function.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: But, yeah, Goodreads has a reread function where you can enter the date that you started and finished a book as before, but then you can enter more dates that you started and finished a book. So I’m gonna go and, like, tweak a couple of things on my, uh, history. Like Nimona and the Harry Potter books which I’d had to enter, um, in —

Chelsea: Although, double check because Goodreads says that they, if you’ve added different editions or counted before how many times you’ve read it, they’ve already combined a lot of that data.

Claire: Aw, yeah.

Chelsea: So just double check.

Claire: Because Nimona, like, the only edition I could add was, like, in Spanish. So.


Chelsea: Yeah, but that’s the thing. There’s always been a way to do it, but this way is just —

Claire: I’m so excited.

Chelsea: — so much more straightforward. And you just add the date. Just thank you, Goodreads.

Claire: Yes. Thank you, Goodreads.

Chelsea: I mean, for finally hopping aboard that bandwagon.

Claire: Because I was so annoyed that I had to have, like, several editions on there and that some of them didn’t really match. Um. Yeah.

Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah, but it’s way better. So, yes. That’s always a good thing. Uh, Miss Kay? What do you got coming up in the future?

Kay: Just all of my same standard things.

Chelsea: Cool.

Kay: I may have one or two more Book Riot pieces out. And we have the continuing Star Trek fanfiction Rec a Day. Which, I think by the time this goes live it’ll be at least two hundred.

Claire: Woohoo!

Kay: So. That’s a lot of Star Trek fanfiction to go through.

Chelsea: Oh, it’ll. Probably more than that. You were at 180-something the other day when I saw it. You’re getting up there.

Kay: Mmhmm. Getting up there.

Chelsea: You’re gonna do a whole year of Star Trek fic recs. And it’s gonna be, like, the project of your life.

[Claire laughs]

Kay: I hope it’s not a whole year, y’all. I hope it’s not a whole year. ‘Cause that means they’ve put off the premiere again.

Chelsea: I hope it’s not either, but you’re, like, halfway there. So.


Chelsea: It’s already been, like, six months.

Kay: If you’re just now tuning in to this project, people, I’m just doing it until the new Star Trek show premiers, so if it’s a whole year tha t means it’s gotten pushed, like, eight months from the original airdate. And I’ll be really sad. [laughs]

Chelsea: I was gonna say. It was technically supposed to already be out.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: But you know. We’re gonna keep going strong.

Kay: Fingers crossed.

Chelsea: Alright. Fingers crossed. But, yeah, that will, of course, be linked in the show notes. There’s tons of good, all different kinds of, um, ships and AUs and all different kinds of stuff in that rec list.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: Otherwise, I guess my big thing is by the time this goes up I should just be getting ready to or just have launched my new Etsy store. So.

Claire and Kay: Yay!

Chelsea: That’ll be super exciting. Uh, it’s called Fandemonium Fibers. We are doing all kinds of fannish and geek related knits. I will have dragonscale fingerless gloves, and I’ll have mug cozies for everything from Les Mis to Gay Pride and Harry Potter and just all kinds of fun stuff. So if the shop itself is not out, the Instagram will definitely be full of preview shots. So any links I have will, of course, be down in the show notes. So if you have some spare dollars and are looking for yarn-based craft gifts.

Kay: Super cute things.

Chelsea: Then, uh, gift it a look. I’m really excited.

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: But that’ll pretty much be it for me. That’s pretty much sucking up the entirety of my life, right now.

Kay: That’s fair.

Chelsea: Other than, you know, like, my actual job. But, yeah, I think that about wraps it up. We’ll be back in a couple of weeks talking about Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Until next time, hit us up on all of our places you can get in touch with us at. And, uh, we’ll talk to you guys in a little bit. Bye!

Kay: Bye!

Claire: 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, @PaperbacksPod on Twitter, or at our website You can reach Kay @kaytaylorrea on Twitter, Claire @ClaireRousseau, and Chelsea @anoutlawlife. Additional credits and show notes will be available at our website. Thank you so much for listening. [Double speed] No paperbacks were harmed in the making of this program.


Episode #04 – Transcript

Kay: 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: Welcome to this episode of Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks. My name is Chelsea.

Claire: I’m Claire.

Kay: And I’m Kay.

Chelsea: And on this episode we will be talking about, as always, what we are currently reading. Then we will be talking about our book of the fortnight, which is Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee, which was Kay’s pick.

Kay: Yay!

Chelsea: And then, of course, we will be talking about what we have on the go and coming up in the future, um, yeah. So, I guess, Claire, what are you currently reading? What do you have you’re reading at the moment?

Claire: So currently I’m finishing up my reading from the DiverseAThon that was going on at the end of January. I’m terrible with readathons. I always take forever, to —

Chelsea: Same.

Claire: — like, read everything on my TBR. But particularly with DiverseAThon, because of, like, the idea of making sure that we read diverse books.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: Written by, you know, #ownvoices authors and whatever, I don’t want to just be like ‘oh, I didn’t read them in the week so I’m not reading them.’ Especially since I tend to start everything in the week and find it really cool, so I want to continue it. So, I’m wrapping up and I’m finishing up On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis and Dreadnought by April Daniels.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: So the first is this, like, post-apocalyptic, uh, scifi thing about a girl who’s trying to convince this generation ship to take her and her family away from the ruins of Earth. Even though, they are, like —

Chelsea: As you do.

Claire: — neuroatypical and you know they have, maybe, like, social issues and whatever. They’re not the kind of people that, I don’t know, are perceived as the most valuable to society.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: But they’re still people and please don’t leave us to die on Earth.

[Kay and Chelsea laugh]

Claire: And Dreadnought is this really cool superhero YA novel about a, um, a girl who witnesses the death of a superhero and, like, gains all his powers. But the main thing that happens for her is that she is trans and she wasn’t out to anybody, but when she gains the superpowers she, like, her body transforms into what it was always meant to be. And so, she’s, everybody suddenly sees her as a girl even though she always knew she was a girl and, you know, she just wasn’t out to anyone so it’s really awkward for her. And I’m really not far into this one, but it’s a really interesting experience to read about gender dysphoria in a first person point of view.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: ‘Cause like, that’s obviously not my experience at all and it’s not something we see that often. So it’s really, really fascinating to read about.

Chelsea: Yeah, I, I’m, I have both of those on my future TBR. I’m hoping to get to On the Edge of Gone before the end of Hugo nominations because I’m thinking about putting it on the ballot. So. What about you, Miss Kay? What’re you reading?

Kay: Let me pull up my list, ‘cause everybody knows I can’t remember the names of literally anything ever.

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: So I just finished The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Which, I had been hearing really good things about it, but then the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books — which is one of my favorite go-to book blogs, they do a lot of romance reviews — the review said there was some ableist language in it that took them out of it. So I said ‘okay, I’m not gonna read that.’ But a friend of mine had an actual final copy versus this reviewer’s advanced copy, and none of that made it into the final book. So I read it. It’s really good. It’s about two, um, high up executive level assistants at a publishing company and it’s like —

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: — hate to love. And like that’s…I’m weak to that. It was really charming and kind of angsty and I liked it a lot. And then I just finished, in the car like an hour ago, A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. Which I have been meaning to do for —

Chelsea: Mmhmm, good choice, good choice.

Kay: — forever.

Chelsea: Good choice.

Kay: I did not like it as much as The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. But I did like it! I didn’t love the viewpoints as much. I think it’s still a good book.

Chelsea: That’s a high bar to meet, too.

Kay: It’s a really high bar.

Chelsea: I feel like she really knocked it out of the park with that first book, was like a really solid…

Kay: Yeah, it had fewer team feels, which was the thing I really liked about the first book.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: You still get kind of the found family stuff, but uh, it just didn’t work quite as. Still good. Didn’t work quite as well for me. And then the other one that I’m reading right now…I lied. Two that I [laughs]. I’m reading too many things.

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: I’m still finishing The Telling by Ursula Le Guin.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: Which is another one of the Hainish Cycle books, the same as The Dispossessed. Um, really liking it. It’s really dense. I maybe read, like, ten pages at a time. It’s super heavy even for Ursula. And I’m also reading, it’s an advanced copy, I’m pretty sure it comes out in March. I’ll be sure to put the publishing date in our show notes. What It Takes, which is the Kowalski Reunion novel. Shannon Stacey’s the writer, there. Have either of you guys read any of the Kowalski romances?

Chelsea: Uhuh.

Kay: I think this is the tenth? Maybe?

Chelsea: Nuh-uh.

Kay: There’s so many of them.

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: I have, like, ten percent of it left. It’s super cute. You one hundred percent would not have any idea what was happening, I don’t think, if you hadn’t read at least a few of the other books. Like, there’s enough viewpoint switching to characters you already have to know stuff about. There’s too many people. There’s too many people.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: It’s super charming if you’ve read them! But I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who hasn’t read the rest of the series.

Chelsea: Yeah. That’s fair.

Kay: And that’s mostly what I’m reading. Oh. Should we. Should I leave Dressed for the Weather to you, Chelsea?

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: Because I also just finished rereading that yesterday.

Chelsea: Yeah, um….

Kay: And I want to die, it’s so great.

Chelsea: That’s not my fault! It’s not my fault you couldn’t stay out of that.


Kay: It’s, like, 220,000 words.

Chelsea: I made that choice for me, and you have to be totally responsible for your choices.

Kay: It’s totally my fault.

Chelsea: You have to own your own choices, Kay.

Kay: I do own my own choices.

Chelsea: Yeah. For those of you who haven’t been following —

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: — those particular subtweet threads on Twitter, uh, Dressed for the Weather is, like, 190,000 word, uh, RPF hockey fanfiction.

Kay: [high pitched] So good!

Chelsea: That I started reading because I was just browsing through my bookmarks on AO3 and I just like, I read the synopsis and was like, okay, this sounds good. And I, like a dumbass —

[Kay giggles]

Chelsea: — didn’t check any of the pertinent information, that, like —

Kay: I’m so sorry. [laughs]

Chelsea: — word count before I just, like, started reading. And I was like three chapters into it and I was like, ‘Man, this is, like, uh. This shit’s either gonna have to escalate really quickly or this is gonna be really long.’ And then I looked at the word count and I was like —

[Kay laughs hysterically]

Chelsea: — Jesus fucking Christ. This is, like —

[Kay and Claire laugh]

Chelsea: — basically like a 350 page book. So I was like, that’s cool. And of course I’m gonna not be able to stop reading it and it was fantastic and I finished it at like five this morning and I loved it. But at the same time I was just like.

Kay: [awed] It’s so good.

Chelsea: Let that be a lesson to all of you, kids. Check your word count before you go getting all emotionally invested.

Kay: I do have to ask.

Chelsea: Or be prepared.

Kay: Did you have trouble following along? Because. So this is my only RPF fandom and I’m actually an in real life hockey fan. I was an in real life hockey fan before I got into hockey fandom. And I only even found hockey RPF fandom because a bunch of writers I follow suddenly dropped in a couple years ago and they were writing about my favorite team, mostly.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: Was it super hard for you to follow, Chelsea? You know nothing about hockey.

Chelsea: Ummm…

Kay: Right?

Chelsea: Not really. Like, that’s the main thing, is I don’t know anything about hockey. There used to be a hockey team in Missouri, the Kansas City Blades.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: That we would go to when I was very small. Um, which lasted about as long as you would expect a midwestern hockey team to last.

Kay: It’s hard.

Chelsea: Uh, not long. But, um, I just like, because I knew it was an au fic —

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: — I just chalked anything I didn’t understand into, like, well, it’s probably just something they made up. So it’s fine.

Claire: Wait, it’s an au? You know that’s what you have to tell me to get me onboard.

Kay: So, the premise of this —

Chelsea: Yeah. It’s, it’s like, yeah.

Kay: — is Sidney Crosby who is, like, the second coming of Gretzky, okay, like this is a real person who like, he is the modern savior of modern hockey. Okay?

Chelsea: He’s also very attractive.

Kay: He’s a cutie.

Chelsea: I’m just saying.

Kay: He’s also a deeply weird dude. And he has had concussion problems in the past. So the premise of this fic is that he had bad enough concussion issues that he’s like ‘I’m going to retire after one more season.’ And he basically rewires the entire NHL with his bare hands to start a franchise team in a projected future expansion, which, the future expansion is a thing that’s gonna happen, though not necessarily these teams.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: And it’s an integrated team, so it’s half women.

Chelsea: Yeah, they’re coed.

Kay: So his sister’s the goalie.

Chelsea: They’re a coed team.

Kay: And he is the coach for the team. And it is the story of the first season of this new franchise. And it’s, like, this really in-depth, ensemble-y, super slow burn of two different relationships.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: Like, the slowest burn. [laughs]

Chelsea: Mmhmm. I don’t know what it is, man, but two of the best slowest burn fictions I’ve read in the last, like, probably six months, have both been from hockey RPF fandom.

Kay: [whispers] So good.

Chelsea: I will say, did not like this one as much as I liked. I mean, I just like Sid, I just, what —

Kay: They’re you’re OTP.

Chelsea: ‘Cause I’ve been in this fandom for like two seconds.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: But Sid and Geno are just like my babies.

Kay: For sure.

Chelsea: And I love them so much. The whole time I was reading this I was just like ‘this is lovely, but it’s also not the other thing that I read.’

Kay: Yeah. [giggles]

Chelsea: That was just so good.


Chelsea: And that’s not the fiction’s fault.

Kay: No.

Chelsea: That’s completely me. But otherwise, but other than that, but other than running through that crazy, crazy hockey RPF fanfiction, um, I have been reading a couple of things. Um, mostly nonfiction. I’m reading one right now called Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church which is by Rachel Held Evans. If either of you have heard of her, or seen her floating around on Twitter, she is a very vocal proponent, or, supporter of the, like, radicalization of the church in a much more democratic and liberal way. So she is, like, frequently confronting and the book confronts issues of, like: reconciling faith and science, reconciling faith and sexuality, and the parts of church that are, like, you know, super kind of misogynistic. And also not the greatest in terms of, like, church history. So she just talks about that and also how to still cope with those things.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: Copes not the right word. But, you know, adapt to those things and reconcile those two things together although they may seem very disparate at first. So. I’m. It’s very interesting. I find religion to be really fascinating and the ways that people, like, express their religion and follow religion to be really fascinating. So I’m really enjoying it.

Kay: Question. Would you recommend that for me? Who is agnostic, but was raised by Evangelical Christians? [laughs]

Chelsea: I was gonna say, I would recommend it for anybody who either finds religion to be really fascinating in terms of, like, sociology and society and just how churches operate in their communities. Or anyone, like myself, and it sounds like you, Kay, is, has been introduced to the ideas of religion and may have been surrounded by that to varying degrees, but definitely has some, like, qualms and things that need to be, kind of —

Kay: Me and my eighteen relatives who are pastors don’t see quite eye to eye, no.

Chelsea: Yeah.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. And, like, granted, admitted, I am like, a, I was raised Methodist, but I’m usually a practicing Unitarian, so.

Kay: Okay.

Chelsea: About as liberal as you can get.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: On the religious spectrum, for me.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: Like, my church is usually really cool with, like, ladies and gay people and interracial families and, like —

Kay: I was like, you guys have, have female pastors, right?

Chelsea: Oh, yeah. All the time. We have female pastors and we have, there’s a trans pastor at the Unitarian church that I go to. So it’s very, very liberal. But, uh, Rachel Held Evans was actually raised as I think Lutheran? Or Baptist?

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: One of the much more, um —

Kay: I was like, something southern conservative?

Chelsea: Orthodox.

Claire: [laughs] You said so many words that are, like, defining types of religion and I’m like uhuh, uhuh, uhuh.


Chelsea: Yeah, sorry.

Claire: It’s fine, it’s fine!

Kay: We’re just here describing branches of non-Catholic churches, here.

Chelsea: That’s the thing, if you’ve even like, if you’ve even scratched the surface of Protestant denominational, like, how it all works.

Kay: Yeahhhh.

Chelsea: It’s just the most ridiculous fucking thing. It’s so crazy to me. Which is one of the problems.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: I have with how structured religion works and whatever. That’s a whole different thing.

Kay: Different podcast! [laughs]

Chelsea: Feel free to DM me on Twitter if you’d like to have more in-depth conversations about that. But. Uh, I am also reading and am also done with Roses and Rot by Kat Howard.

Kay: Nice!

Chelsea: Which I’m really, really liking because it’s really beautiful, but it’s also about the fae. And I’m just like.

Kay: Kat Howard’s prose is super gorgeous so even though that book was not for me, I did like it.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. Yeah.

Kay: And the audiobook is really great, if anyone was interested in checking that out.

Chelsea: I could see that. That’s another one I’m reading ‘cause I’m hoping, or I’m thinking of nominating it for the Hugos. So. That’s like a general theme. And deciding factor in a large portion of what I’m reading.

Kay: I’m thinking about nominating that one for the Hugos, but I’m already nominating another one of her stories for one of the short categories. So I don’t know. We’ll see.

Chelsea: Oohhh, which one?

Kay: The one that we published, which I can never remember the names of anything.

Chelsea: Okay.

Kay: But it’s something like The Green Knight, maybe? I’ll link it. It’s like, a —

Chelsea: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, no.

Kay: — an Arthurian retelling.

Chelsea: It’s that one, ‘cause it’s on my list, too.

Kay: Real good.

Chelsea: Yeah, that one, too. That’s on my list, too.

Kay: By ‘we’ I mean Uncanny Magazine. For people who don’t know, I’m a submissions editor, there.

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: Like I’m acting like ‘I published this.’ No. I’m a submissions editor for Uncanny Magazine so I say ‘we,’ but, like, the magazine did.

Chelsea: Which, I feel like we say this at least once an episode, but if you’re not giving your dollars to Uncanny, go check them out and do that. They’re actually, I just read on Twitter, about ready to start, like, uh, an activism 101 or, like, social engagement 101 kind of thing.

Kay: These unicorns fight fascists.

Claire: What!? Where can I go give them my money some more.

Chelsea: That’s, yeah.

Kay: We’re on Patreon, if you’re interested. [laughs]

Chelsea: All my dollars. Yep.

Claire: Yeah, I know they have a Patreon, I already give money to that.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: I know. There are just so many times I just wanna be like ‘guys! Lynne! Michael! Just take more of my money!’

Kay: Take my money.

Chelsea: Just let me give you more money, please. Take all the dollars.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Chelsea: Alright, well that seems like a good transition to — we are gonna start talking about, uh, the book of the month. Which is Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee.

Kay: Yay!

Chelsea: Like I said, this was Kay’s pick. Um, to do the really quick elevator pitch, it is, essentially, The Incredibles with a young adult bisexual, half Chinese, half Vietnamese main character. And so Jessica is basically the youngest child, or the middle child, actually, in a family of superheroes. Her older sister is a kind of superhero in training and her younger brother is an evil genius.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: And so she’s just kind of waiting for her powers to show up. And they never really do. And so she’s coping with that while she’s also being in high school and coping with having friends and having crushes. Uh, her main crush is named Abby. She’s beautiful, and you know, on the volleyball team, and is just that kind of allstar, um, woman on campus. To fill her time because she’s not, kind of, you know, finding any superhero powers, Jessica ends up getting an internship at a local tech industry for, as it turns out, the archnemesis to her superhero parents. Which is obviously going to cause some contradictions for her. So she starts this internship and things to develop and as she becomes kind of more aware of the superheroes around her she realizes there be games afoot. And there is some sketchy shit going on in terms of, uh, rewriting some of the histories and using the superheroes and their interactions to distract the general populace from some bigger political shit that’s going on. So Jessica realizes this and she realizes that she has to stop it. Lo and behold, through a couple of very unfortunate run-ins with her hero, an actual established superhero Captain Orion, she realizes that the person she’s been working for, the masked archnemesis villain that she’s been spending all her time with after school, is also her crush Abby, of volleyball team captain fame. And it’s lovely. It’s wonderful. And they have smoochy times. And team up together —

Kay: [high pitched] So cute!

Chelsea: — and fight the baddies.

[Kay giggles]

Chelsea: And I didn’t realize it was the first in a series. I probably just sort of assumed because it’s a young adult novel. I probably should’ve just gone in assuming that. But it handles the kind of arc of the first book really well, I thought, while also setting up some kind of bigger dominos. Claire’s doing that, like, side wiggle thing with her head. So.

Kay: Oh, see, it was, like, the perfect ratio of closed plot threads to hanging plot threads for me. But. I know that’s a fine line for everyone.

Chelsea: Well, n-yeah. And we’ll get to the ending, ‘cause I liked it with, like, a tiny caveat. But. That is kind of the general premise of the book. We also meet her best friend. Two of her best friends. One of whom is transgender, so this book does a really great job talking about sexuality, and sexual orientation, and race, and how legacy and, kind of, family responsibility, all interplays together while also just surviving high school.

Kay: Yup.

Chelsea: Which. You know. Sometimes is great and sometimes is really not. So what did we think, ladies? Should we start with the positives? Things we liked?

Claire: I mean, the stuff I liked was literally 99% of it. Right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Like, there’s one thing that annoyed me at the end.

Kay: Do it. Let’s just, just get that out of the way first.

Chelsea: Yeah, fuck it. Let’s just go there.


Chelsea: Just start there. Because I agree. Most of what I loved about this book was everything.

Claire: I spent most of my time reading this book going to take little breaks to go [squealing noise].


Chelsea: Yes.

Claire: So, you know. Like.

Chelsea: It’s so good.

Claire: Like, I loved all of it. I just got really, I just got slightly annoyed at the end because they explain away why, uh, one of the characters who kind of rebelled against his training as a superhero, um, is able to just, like, keep going in his everyday life even though he pissed off loads of really important people. And he’s like, oh, well, he’s like, ‘the superheroes don’t know who I am because my family is really paranoid.’ Which was established earlier in the books, so that’s all great, but like. Also. Literally one of the people who fought against him is his best friend’s sister, who’s known him since he was a kid.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: So, like, so that. I was just looking at my Kindle and going like no. You’re not safe. Because Claudia, who is, like, super evil and the worst, knows who you are. And has been to your family’s restaurant a bunch. And knows literally where you live.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Was that your thing, too, Chelsea?

Chelsea: No, my thing was just. It was more of a pacing thing. Like, I thought it was balanced really well. I just felt like, and maybe, like I said, it’s because I didn’t realize until about three quarters of the way through that obviously they were, there were going to be more books. To, like, wrap stuff up. But, I just felt like that once they had the interaction that they kind of had with Captain Orion and they told the parents and that kind of brought everything together, there was literally one sentence where they were like, ‘well, since we told the parents’ they just decided that the adults would handle it. And then it was, like, ten pages of high school life, and boom we were done. And I just felt like it was just kind of a little quick —

Kay: Okay. That’s fair.

Chelsea: — on the actual transition to the end part, but. I mean. That’s such a small thing that, like, nah. I mean, this book, I just, this book was great.

Kay: It felt like a wrapup of a teen drama tv episode to me?

Chelsea: Yes. Mmhmm.

Kay: Which, I kind of liked that, actually. [laughs]

Chelsea: Yeah. And I mean it’s. Yeah. I’m obvious. Like, I’m going to read the second one, like it was obviously not a big enough turnoff.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: That I’m in any way not reading the next one. [laughs]

Claire: Oh, yeah, I’m definitely up for a second one, I have to say.

Chelsea: Which is about Bells! It’s called Not Your Villain and it’s gonna be about Bells! It’s gonna be so good! Bells is her transgender friend who also ends up being one of the superheroes, we learn, throughout —

Kay: He’s a shapeshifter like Nimona! Well, he can’t turn into animals, I don’t think.

Claire: No, he can’t.

Chelsea: No, but I think, I think he can change his physical appearance? Right?

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: That whole thing?

Claire: But see, the thing is, that’s, most of it was super well handled. I actually really liked the fact that they didn’t defeat everything in one book. I really liked the fact that they had, like, a minor victory and that there’s a pause and then there’s gonna be some more, uh, stuff to battle in the second book. Because obviously it’s a really big deal, like a really giant worldwide conspiracy, and it will take more than, like, you know, two teenage girls. Even though they’re awesome!

Chelsea: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. No yeah.

Claire: For teenagers.

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s gonna be a much bigger…yeah.

Claire: And so that makes sense. It’s great that we’re gonna have a second book. I felt like even though it’s quite realistic that the parents would be, like, ‘we’re handling it now’ uh, the. It wasn’t so much the pacing of the ending for me, but that placing of the thing with Bells, who is the trans character who also says, like, ‘my family’s paranoid and I didn’t tell them my real name.’ Um, but, also, like, one of the main, like, bad guy of the story —

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: — like, knows exactly who he is. And I felt like if we’d had him say that at the beginning of the next book and it could’ve been resolved in the same book it would’ve worked a lot better.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: Like, having that as a thing that wraps up the end I’m gonna spend, like, however many months until the next book is released going like hm? Hm? It makes no sense.

Kay: I haven’t seen an official date, but the release is this year, at some point.

Chelsea: It’s this year, yeah.

Kay: So.

Claire: I’m really excited for it.

Kay: Yeah, me too.

Claire: Yeah. I definitely want to read it and there’s some more, like, romance shenanigans.

Chelsea: I thought it was interesting that for an identified bisexual character she spent the entirety of the book being attracted to a female, or only expressing attraction to a female. And I love her and Abby, so, like, don’t care. Thousand percent here for that ship. Ride or die it better not fucking change by the time we get to the end of this book ‘cause like, that just better not happen. But I just thought it was interesting after I finished it, ‘cause huh. Well, yes. But interesting.

Kay: I read her as kind of demi, also.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: So, like, I didn’t think that was that weird. She’s only gonna be attracted to, like, one person at a time. I didn’t think that was that weird. I was just picturing little baby bisexual Kay in high school getting to read this book and having, like, a bisexual heroine.

[Claire sighs]

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: And how great that would’ve been? ‘Cause like, there were no bi people in my media. I didn’t. No.

Chelsea: No, of course not.

Kay: And I didn’t know anyone else who was bi, or anything, till, like, college. ‘Cause Idaho high school. [laughs]

Chelsea: And it’s so. And I know that, yeah. It’s a function of scarcity, because this doesn’t, it’s just, it’s just so nice. They both like each other. There’s a little bit of, like, tension.

Kay: It’s not tragic.

Chelsea: When they first start, yeah, it’s not tragic. And they’re adorable and they both just like each other.

Kay: It’s so great!

Chelsea: And want to, like, be smooching and in love and it’s just so great. Just. Yeah. Had I read this book at like, sixteen, I would’ve carried it around and shoved it in the face of every —

Kay: Tattooed it on my heart. [laughs]

Chelsea: — person that I knew. Yeah. Like, take this book and read it. Not to mention, for somebody who is not a person of color, I thought it did a really good job integrating race and being mixed race and having discussions about that without in any way being or feeling forced or feeling awkward or feeling jammed in. And the descriptions of the Vietnamese food in this were —

Kay: I was so hungry, I wanted bánh mì so bad. [laughs]

Chelsea: I loved that Bells’ family had a, um, like jambalaya restaurant.

Kay: Yes.

Chelsea: Yes, please.

Claire: Yeah. I mean, I, same. I thought that the descriptions of the kind of, uh, various, uh, the various identities that she struggles, that Jess struggles with, because she’s. She goes into this Vietnamese restaurant and there’s, like, all the people and they’re like, ‘no, you’re a child. You’re clearly not, like, Vietnamese. That’s not really a thing anymore.’ And she tries to speak Vietnamese to some people and they’re like, ‘nah, you’re, like, American.’

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: And they speak to her in English. And that kind of thing. I mean, you know, as a white person it’s difficult to say like ‘this is done great’ whatever. It felt really, really, um, like it felt really real, really true to life and it felt. Like. It gave me so many feels. [laughs] It felt very relatable. And, like, yeah. If. It was integrated very seamlessly. I think the only thing that felt, like, not really realistic for me is like, just how hammy and villainous Captain Orion was when she, like, stopped pretending to be really nice.

Kay: I liked that.

Chelsea: But I loved that! It’s so good! It’s so comic book-y. Like, it’s so…like.

Claire: Oh, like in terms of the genre, fabulous, you know, and that’s great. But the kind of, like, really, really, like, open racism that she has.

Chelsea: Yeahhh. Yeah, that’s not great.

Claire: Where she’s like, ‘Oh, well, your parents couldn’t be, like, proper first class superheroes, obviously,’ quote ‘those people’ or whatever.

Kay: It made her even more villainous!


Claire: No, I know it did! But I, I did think it was a little bit, like, hammy, like, of course she’s also, on top of that. I mean, obviously there’s lots of racist people, so it makes sense. But.

Chelsea: It really is cranked to eleven.

Kay: It felt very X-Men in the way that I actually enjoy and not X-Men in the way that I hate. Where, like, X-Men or their mutant powers stand in for all these other things?

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: Like different races and gender identities and sexualities.

Chelsea: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kay: You actually get those in this. So it was like, I love that! [laughs]

Claire: You know it’s that same problem with Harry Potter. It’s like, you read it, and you can see, like, a very nice white lady writing a book where she’s like wanting to be super progressive as she’s writing this book.

Chelsea: And she doesn’t want to just call it what it is?

Claire: So there are all of these issues, she’s writing about all of these issues through, like, magical creatures that don’t exist, even, instead of writing about them through, about people that are actually real. [laughs]

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: Joanne. Come speak with us.

Kay: Uh-oh.

Chelsea: We have words for you. We have some words.

[Kay snorts]

Chelsea: That we can share with you about how to do this better.

Claire: You know. Loving words.

Chelsea: Hit us up. You’re definitely listening to the Sisterhood. So please just give us a call.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: So, um, I think one of the things that I really enjoyed was, not surprised by, but was something that they spent so much time talking about, was the fact that a large portion of the kind of villainous plot of this book is that there are some shady, like, transnational deals being made with one of the other countries that’s at, that we’re not at war with, but maybe are? And, like, it’s very kind of suspicious. And the superheroes are basically actively using the general, kind of, obsession with superheroes and villains and how they interact to distract from these other things that are happening in a way that’s super deliberate. And then they talk about.

Kay: They’re crafting a media narrative out of alternative facts! [laughs]

Chelsea: Out of alternative facts.

Claire: It’s so fucking timely, ladies.

Chelsea: They’re literally being like, if people are too busy watching this choreographed, staged, preplanned battle between quote good and evil, they won’t be able to or have enough energy left to actually see what it is that’s going on. Which, like, hi! Hi. Hi. Welcome to my house of allegory.

Kay: They point blank say that before the disaster, so this takes place after a solar flare and a World War III, so this is, like, what, like a hundred fifty-ish years in the future?

Chelsea: And that’s where the superpowers come from.

Kay: And that’s where their powers come from.

Claire: Yeah, something like that.

Kay: They, like, point blank say that before all this happened the news was really depressing and we don’t want it to be like that. And I’m just, like, ‘oh God, this is too relevant right now.’


Chelsea: And, like, do not misunderstand me, the entire first three quarters of my Hulu feed is all different versions of The Real Housewives, so this is not said in disbursement, but, like, I can see that happening. Like, I’m like, I make the choice to stay actively involved and it takes extra energy, but people that don’t make that choice I can easily see how that could be a thing that, like, should we ever get actual genetic superheroes will not be all that far off the mark.

Kay: Yeahhh.

Chelsea: It’s just, it’s a very interesting kind of representation of how people are both unwillingly and willingly, like, letting themselves be distracted.

Kay: And the media narrative they’re crafting is not just present day. They’re also retroactively, like, doing some revisionist history. ‘Cause they don’t have paper textbooks anymore, so they’re retroactively turning some of the people who were heroes into villains, now. Which our heroine’s super smart and figures out ‘cause she has a paper textbook. Good girl.

Chelsea: Which, like, you know, it’s not like there are actual, like, you know, people or institutions in real life to actually change —

Kay: Oh, no.

Chelsea: — actual history textbooks to erase things like racism and sexism.

Kay: And that the earth is more than six thousand years old. I want to die. Oh god.

Chelsea: And some of the awful, awful things throughout the globe have done. Yeah, I just. I just, I just, I can’t.

[Kay sighs]

Chelsea: I was listening to Renay talk about it on the most recent Fangirl Happy Hour, and she was describing, like, her public school education in Arkansas, which mine was not that far off hers in Kansas City, and just like. Crying. Crying. Sad tears, it’s just like.

Kay: Or, like, the Eli Whitney not being white thing? That people were talking about recently?

Chelsea: Oh my god. Oh my god, you guys. Frederick Douglass is still doing such good work 142 years later.


Kay: He’s getting recognized more and more!

Chelsea: More and more, just all his good works. I can’t, I’m actually gonna cry.

Kay: We absolutely don’t ughhh.

Chelsea: If you don’t know what we’re talking about, consider yourself blessed. Oh goodness. Okay, well, does everyone have favorite parts?

Claire: Yes.

Chelsea: Do we want to do a quick little favorite parts thing?

Kay: Yes.

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: It sounds like really, you know, the main is that definitely read this book. It’s great. Just read it.

Kay: We all three loved this book.

Chelsea: It’s the best.

Claire: Yeah. One of the things that I wanted to talk about, that stood out the most for me, in this book, was, um, how openly discussed Bell’s pronouns are?

Chelsea: Yes! That’s what I was gonna talk about.

Kay: She’s like, ‘I don’t want to accidentally misgender you’ when, like, she’s talking to Mischief.

Claire: Right! And that’s something that felt to me, like, you know. I did a double take. I’ve never seen that in a piece of original fiction. I’ve seen it plenty in fanfiction and I’ve seen it plenty in real life.

Kay and Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: I’ve been sat next to people talking about someone else being corrected about their pronouns. And, you know what, it’s not, like, it’s a normal thing. Right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: And it. To have it in there. It just made me think about all the other things that you don’t see in books. Like characters going to the loo.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: You know, and you’re like, can it please not be on the same level as, like, bodily functions.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: And, like, going to the bathroom. So I was really happy that it was in there and it was addressed a couple times.

Chelsea: And I loved it, ‘cause when in the very first conversation where she mentions Bells and his pronouns I had not realized up until that point in the narrative that Bells was trans, so it was a really subtle way to indicate that he was. ‘Cause I at least missed out on any details before that first conversation.

Kay: I think the only thing you might’ve missed before that is she mentions, ‘oh, no, did you have your binder on all day? Did you need a break?’ I think that was the only thing before that.

Chelsea: And I must’ve just, yeah, I must’ve just missed that. But it’s very, there’s not really any out loud ‘Bells is trans and here are his’ it’s just handled in a way that’s very like the other identity conversations that are had. It’s very seamless and just feels very casual in a way that, like, we should all strive to handle. Like, it should not be a weird things to have these conversations.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: And for a lot of people it’s not. Which is awesome.

Claire: Right. And I think one of the things for me that made me really, really love the handling of that in this book was towards the end there is a moment where they’re trying to infiltrate this like bunker, prison-y type place where, um, Abby’s parents are being kept and Bells changes into Captain Orion, the, like, main lady superhero that everyone respects and loves and so as Captain Orion he can order people around and they can get in super easy and there is a super quick blink and you miss it moment where Jess asks him if he’s okay and doesn’t say why she’s asking. And he says yeah, yeah, I’m fine. And, like, there’s no explanation of why, right? You have to, like, at least for me, I read it, i read it again, ‘cause he’s impersonating a woman, and he has dysphoria.

Kay: Does he say he’s fine? Or he’s like, ‘Not really, but we have to do this anyway.’

Chelsea: Yeah, I think it’s very like, it’s not like he’s fine.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: But he acknowledges that he’s okay with the fact that it has to be done. So it’s like.

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: Yes, what a way of phrasing it, ‘he’s just fine.’

[Kay laughs]

Claire: He makes the choice to do it, anyway. So, um, you know. I mean, he’s not fine, but it’s gonna have to happen, basically.

Chelsea: And like we were talking about with the blatant racism from Captain Orion, I don’t remember if it’s Captain Orion or Claudia who at one point they call Bells by his birth name and not Bells. They call him Elizabeth? Whatever, whatever his birthname was as a way to shame him and to embarrass him.

Kay: I think it was Claudia.

Chelsea: And it’s very clearly cast in a way that’s meant to be villainous.

Kay: ‘Cause deadnaming people is villainous.

Chelsea: Yeah. Like, it’s a way of saying you don’t do that.

Claire: Especially if you know and if, like, this was your sister’s best friend you would know. I did not actually notice that, ‘cause like, for me, it was like a super quick —

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: — I was reading it and going super quickly. And also there’s a bit at the end where Captain Orion keeps messing up Claudia’s name and she’s supposed to be Captain Orion’s second in command. And that was the other bit —

Chelsea: I actually really liked that, ‘cause I hate Claudia. I think she’s awful.

Kay: She’s the worst.

Chelsea: I was like, yeah, that’s right.

Claire: Like, Claudia is awful, but I kept thinking about the scene in the musical of Les Mis where Thénardier is like, ‘oh, Collette!’


Chelsea: Yeah, no.

Kay: Everything comes back to Les Mis.

Claire: It does, Kay! It does.

Chelsea: Always and forever.


Chelsea: Always and forever. Alright, did you have anything that we haven’t talked about, yet, Kay, that you wanted to mention?

Kay: I do want to mention: I called literally every scare quotes plot twist —

Chelsea: Twist?

Claire: Plots twists?

Kay: — very well ahead of time. I think she telegraphs things in a way that’s almost more, CB Lee, I mean, telegraphs in a more middle grade than young adult fashion. Which is fine, ‘cause everything was super charming. I did not mind that stuff was telegraphed.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: I think that might be an issue for people who don’t read a ton of YA. The other thing is, I was so excited by the point of view in this. Because —

Chelsea: Yeah. [laughs]

Kay: — you’ve probably heard me ranting about this before if you follow me on Twitter. I am not a big fan of first person point of view.

[Claire laughs]

Chelsea: Period.

Kay: And it’s basically all anyone writes in young adult, now, and that drives me bananas. So this is written in third person present tense, which is my absolute favorite both to read and write in. So I loved that. People should do that more.

Chelsea: And I will say, as a young adult librarian who reads a lot of young adult, this is a, first person is a very popular perspective to write in.

Kay: Ugh.

Chelsea: And because of that, and because it fills the market, it can be hard to do that in a way that stands out from everybody else who’s also doing that. So, uh, it’s always nice to see it mixed up like that and to get any form of third person narration in a young adult book. A+. And, yeah, I do, in terms of what you were talking about earlier, I do think it skews towards the younger end of young adult or, like, the more advanced end of middle grade. I think it depends on personal comfort of what you’re, like, willing to expose your children to. Like we’ve talked about, there are no, like, kind of blatant or, like, complicated or in-depth conversations about a lot of these things, but they’re very much so themes that are present. So if that’s not something you feel that your middle grader is ready for, but in terms of style and pacing and all of that, I think you could probably get away with recommending it to the older end of middle grade.

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: As the person who was kind of grumbling a little last episode about how tropey the book was and, like, certain things that were super predictable or whatever, I’d like to say I agree with Kay. I called everything super early and I don’t know if it’s because those are tropes that I’m more used for, I don’t know if it’s more because I’m more used to the specific tropes that this book was using because of fanfiction —

Kay: Especially–you read a lot of Marvel stuff, right?

Chelsea: Yeah, if you read a lot of MCU there’s gonna be a lot of that.

Claire: Right, I read a lot of superhero fanfic. So there were a lot of things I found really interesting and, like, things that go into how does being a superhero work and all that. But I also think it’s because, like, in When a Scot Ties the Knot there were things that made me angry in my feminist places.

[Chelsea laughs]

Claire: Whereas in this one there’s literally nothing. And, yeah. And I was also super happy that even though there’s a bisexual main character there wasn’t a love triangle.

Kay: Yesss.

CHelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: I hate those.

Chelsea: It was really nice.

Claire: And as I don’t like love triangles, anyway.

Chelsea: Yeah, that’s a really overplayed.

Kay: I always want to solve love triangles with polyamory, like, I just don’t understand why it’s a problem.


Chelsea: Yeah, I don’t get it.

Kay: It’s just not a compelling storyline.

Chelsea: Edward! Bella! Jacob! Stop fighting and just all have sex with each other.

Kay: No brainer.

Chelsea: It’s so much better. I feel like Stephenie Meyer really missed the mark on that one. And in a thousand other ways.

Kay: And we’re being dismissive. Obviously polyamory is not for everyone. But, like, I just think it’s a really tired trope. No thanks.

Chelsea: But it’s also yeah, like, we can just move on from that. I feel like that is a thing that has been done literally to death.

Kay: Yes.

Chelsea: Overwhelmingly so. But, uh, to me, I just feel like it didn’t, ‘cause, uh, like, you know, in general concensus, nothing in this book was necessarily a surprise to me. None of the big twists were, like, twists, necessarily. But it didn’t. It felt campy? But, like, in a good way.

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: Oh, yes.

Chelsea: Like when you go to see a classic horror movie and you’re just like ‘obviously, don’t go into the basement alone’ like hi, hi.

Kay: It felt comic book-y in a good way. And I say that as a comic book reader.

Chelsea: Yeah. It was almost like reading a novelization of a comic book. And I think that CB Lee did that intentionally. I think that she was very much so looking to write kind of a blatant kind of playing with superheroes and the superhero genre and all of these kinds of things. So it just like, I really, it, if that’s a thing, like if that’s a thing in books that doesn’t really jive with you, that is thing in this book, but I loved it.

Claire: I don’t know. To me it read like someone who loves the genre and wants, like, to poke fun at it.

Kay: A loving wink and a nod. [laughs]

Claire: With a lot of fondness.

Chelsea: Exactly.

Claire: Yeah, exactly.

Chelsea: Sweet! Alright, well.

Kay: So, like, I’m not gonna quote mine because it’s just a scene. But Abby and Jess, they have a writing assignment that they do together for their English class.

Chelsea: I love that so much.

Kay: And they’re basically writing self-insert fic about themselves and it’s so cute! [giggles] It’s so good.

Claire: It’s so good.

Kay: So cute. And I loved it a lot.

Chelsea: Aw, man. And actually my favorite part was probably, if, Claire, are you talking about the how the pronouns were handled? Those sections? ‘Cause those were also my favorite parts. That’s, that’s what I enjoyed the most. Really, really nice to see a pleasant and normal conversation about how to properly refer to someone.

Kay: And they weren’t, like, being confrontational or snappy, they’re just like, you know.

Chelsea: Yeah, they weren’t, like, being confrontation or condescending.

Kay: ‘They don’t use they/them, but thanks for doing that instead of assuming.’ Yeah.

Chelsea: Yeah, that’s. The part that I have bookmarked, the part that I really liked is a conversation between Jess and Abby and I think it’s important because Jess is Bells’ really good friend and so she’s used to referring to Bells by his pronouns and being conscious of that in a way that the general public might not be. Um, and so the whole scene goes ‘Bells is great, I love their hair. They always do bright colors so often.’ ‘He,’ Jess corrects. ‘He uses he/his pronouns.’ ‘Oh, I didn’t know.’ Abby takes a bite of her sandwich. ‘It’s okay. I think it’s pretty cool you thought of using they when you didn’t know for sure.’ Abby nods. ‘No problem. Daryl always does the same workshop at the beginning of the year for everyone in Rainbow Alliance. In Rainbow Allies.’ Which, Daryl and Rainbow Allies, that’s a reference to a very small side character who is an out gay kid at school who has formed, basically, a gay-straight alliance for —

Kay: Which seems to be all gay dudes?

Chelsea: Which is mostly made up of gay men. Mmhmm. Which is literally just like him and his friends volunteering. Spoiler alert: my high school gay-straight alliance was just me and my best friend and whatever guy he happened to be dating. Like, at the time that he was dating them. It was great.

Kay: We definitely didn’t have one at my high school. Everyone was Mormon. So. [laughs] It was not.

Chelsea: Yeah, there that goes.

Claire: We definitely didn’t have one at my high school because it was kind of like this very French thing of, like —

Chelsea: Whatever.

Claire: — being very socially conservative while pretending that we’re, like, the leftist most people on earth.

Chelsea: [laughs] Yeah.

Claire: So. Uh, yeah.

Kay: That’s very French.

Claire: There was like, one gay person in high school. And when I was in high school, by the way, this is when I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time, and I was legitimately surprised by Willow and Tara when they first came out.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: Oh, yeah.

Claire: And I rewatched that recently and I was like ‘whoa! Baby Claire! So sad.’

Chelsea: This probably will be, talk about dating yourself, but I was in late junior high, early high school when Dawson’s Creek was prime on the air and, like, the Jack/Toby gay relationship and, like, Jack as a gay character throughout that whole show? I was like riveted to the WB.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: Six o’clock when it came on once a week, I was just like, oh my god, you guys. There’s a gay person on tv on Dawson’s Creek. And my mind just like exploded. It was so, it was so, which. You know. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but looking back even that far and seeing.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: At least more representation, now. Like, it’s, sometimes it’s kind of nice just to say, ‘well at least it’s better than X, Y, and Z.’

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: So.

Kay: I’m really looking forward to doing the show notes for this episode and linking to Dawson’s Creek.

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s gonna be so good. I’m so happy for you to do that. Let me know if you need, like, uber tumblr links, ‘cause I have so many of them.

Kay: I mean.

Chelsea: From writing the episode recaps. It’s so good.

Kay: Let me know if you want.

Chelsea: There is [laughs] there is, like, a huge swath of the our age cohort, like, recesses of the internet that is full of Dawson’s Creek gifs and slideshows and, like, photosets on tumblr.

Kay: I mean, Pacey is the best internet boyfriend. So.

Chelsea: It is a fascinating and beautiful place to be.

Claire: I mean, I have literally never seen an episode of Dawson’s Creek, so.

Chelsea: I, listen. He did not win the poll and I want to say Twitter, what the fuck is wrong with you? I’m just throwing it out there.

Kay: Who won the poll?

Chelsea: He didn’t win our best boyfriends poll. Oz. Oz from Buffy. That was Claire’s pick.

Claire: Yes!

Kay: Oz was not a good boyfriend!

Chelsea: No. No. No, no he’s not. No, he’s not.

Kay: He’s an interesting character. He’s not a good boyfriend.

Chelsea: He’s a good person. He’s not a good boyfriend.

Claire: Oz is like a good high school boyfriend. He’s not a good college boyfriend.

Chelsea: I’m just saying that Shawn Hunter didn’t get my vote, because —

Kay: I was gonna say.

Chelsea: — while I love him as a character, he’s not a good boyfriend.

Kay: Not a good boyfriend.

Chelsea: Pacey Whitter for life. Twitter, I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with you.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: I’m just saying. Y’all let me down on that one, just a lil bit. But there are some excellent, excellent gif streams on that poll. From people linking to gifs of their favorite 90s high school boyfriends.

Kay: Beautiful.

Chelsea: So definitely something to check out if you need a smile.

Kay: Do I need to link to my massive twitter thread of just gifs of Cory and Shawn, now?


Chelsea: Always. Always something you need to relink. You should probably just pin that whole thread to the top of your Twitter for life. Alright, well, because I refuse to let us fall down the OT3 Boy Meets World 90s pop culture rabbit hole, I’mma talk about the next book we’re reading.

Kay: Yay!

Chelsea: Uh, this was Claire’s pick. We are reading Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Which, if a lot of people read and loved Signal to Noise last year, which was a book about music and Mexico and magical realism.

Kay: I haven’t read it, yet.

Chelsea: This is — Yes. I read it and loved it, so I’m really excited for this one.

Claire: Yeah, that was one of my favorites of 2016 and I don’t really like magical realism, normally, so.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: I thought I’d… I thought it’d be a good idea to have a look at what Moreno-Garcia does next and it’s about vampires. Which. I don’t know. I’m not, like, super into vampires, but I’m ready to be surprised or proven wrong, hopefully.

Chelsea: Yeah. That’s. I’m glad to hear you say she kind of helped you like magical realism because maybe that’ll help me like vampire stuff.

[Kay giggles]

Chelsea: Like, vampires are usually not my jam. They are not my musical creature of choice. But! This one takes place in Mexico City and it’s actually, like, a really cool spin on vampire folklore because it’s, um, one of the vampire kind of races in this book is based on ancient Aztec vampire lore. So it plays with that and there’s a drug cartel and the vampire is involved and also, like, she meets this human companion who starts to fall in love with her, but she’s not having it, ‘cause she’s —

Claire: Okay, did you know that I haven’t, like, read this book, yet? ‘Cause I don’t have it in my house, yet, right?

Chelsea: None of this is, like, spoilers.

Kay: This is not spoilery.

Chelsea: This is all, like, in the Goodreads.

Claire: Okay.

Chelsea: All of this is in the Goodreads stuff, I’m not spoiling anything.

Kay: No.

Chelsea: Um, but yeah. So essentially we are kind of following this human as he gets wrapped up with this vampire. And then we learn, of course, her backstory and why she’s kind of involved in this drug war slash vampire clan battle and, not a spoiler, but I have started reading it and it is gritty. It is…not grimdark dark, but Sylvia is not fucking around with her vampires. These bitches do not glitter. There are some throats getting ripped out. Like, these vampires —

Claire: Excellent.

Chelsea: — are, they come legit. So. That’s great, that’s good.

Kay: Kay is making a very distressed face right now. Just so you all know.

Claire: Oh, I’m sorry, Kay!

[Chelsea laughs]

Chelsea: It’s not too bad, there’s not a lot of gore in it. But I’m just saying, like, her vampires, they are vampires. They are gonna —

Claire: Good.

Chelsea: There is some blood involved.

Kay: See, I am a weird person who I can watch the goriest things and it doesn’t bother me at all, but my imagination’s super vivid and when I read that stuff it’s not…

Chelsea: I will say, I’m not gonna spoil anything, there is one scene in a vet lab that involves eye stuff.

Claire: Ayeeeee.

Chelsea: So when you get there, if eye stuff is a thing for you, just a general spoiler warning.

Claire: Yeah, she’s not too much into body horror. I think you had trouble with uh, was it, uh —

Kay: I had to stop reading Six of Crows because of an eye thing.

Chelsea: That is basically the only scene where it’s that bad.

Kay: Okay.

Chelsea: And I just know we have, for a fact, a couple people who listen who have, like, stuff with eyes, especially.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: So I’m just like, giving a heads up.

Kay: Waving my hand. Do you–send me links to what chapter that is.

Chelsea: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Claire: Oh, Kay, I’m sorry.

Chelsea: I’ll put some. If you want, if that’s a thing for you and you want like actual details, please DM me I am not afraid to, like, let you know what page it’s on or just spoil it for you outright so you can avoid it. Don’t need anyone getting triggered for their squicks or anything.

Kay: I’ll be fine, I just appreciate the heads up because it’s really not my favorite.

Chelsea: But I’m really excited! But I’m about to talk about this one because I think it does some really cool stuff with, like, Mexican culture and vampire lore —

Kay: And I’ve heard her prose is great.

Chelsea: — and, like, current problem stuff. Yes, it’s great.

Claire: Yes. Her prose is beautiful.

Chelsea: Yeah, yes. She can spin a sentence man, let me fucking tell ya.

Kay: I can ignore a lot of shit for good prose.

Chelsea: Yeah, that’s true. That is very true. I can get through a lot of stuff if you can write a pretty sentence. Alright, so we’re gonna start. We’re gonna officially transition into talking about what we have coming up next. I want to start out as kind of a general guide post for completely skipping Claire in our last episode talking about her future projects. We all just got distracted and we wrapped things up before we actually made it back to Claire. So, Claire, top of the hour. What do you have coming up in the future?

Claire: So at the moment I am trying to read up some stuff that is eligible for the Hugo Awards this year.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: The nomination period is open from now until the 17th of March, I think. So by the time this podcast comes out I think there should be a couple of weeks left. And I’m just trying to read stuff that I wanted to read when it came out and I didn’t get to. I have a super long list, I did a blog post about this. I’m someone who gets, like, really easily nervous by, um, reading lists, but mostly it’s like, if I plan to read a specific number of things and I can’t get to everything. So I just made the longest list in the world. And it’s…I printed it out and I’m, like, marking it with a marker when I’m done with a thing so that i have a visual representation of progress. And I know I’m not going to get to everything because I have literally an entire page of short story titles. Right? So it makes me happy. I can see a visual representation of getting a bit of shit done. And get more, um, a larger pool of stuff to nominate from. So that’s part of what I’m doing now.

Chelsea: So what do you have coming up, Miss Kay?

Kay: Well, as per usual still going on the Trek Rec a Day project. We will see.

Chelsea: I am so proud of you for continuing to do that.

Kay: We will see if I can keep this going until the new show comes out. It’s like 170-something at this point. Again, that’s just, I’ve got it in a Twitter Moment. It’s really easy to find. We’ll link that. And I should have a couple new Book Riot pieces up. The one that I’m fairly sure should be up by the time this goes live is, uh. If you read Book Riot you might’ve read the Literary Tourism posts before. Which is like —

Chelsea: Yeah! Are you doing one for AZ?

Kay: I’m doing one for Idaho.

Chelsea: Nice!

Kay: Which, if you don’t know, my parents are both from Idaho, I have a lot of relatives who still live there, I lived there in high school. And I’m doing, like, the whole state. If you didn’t know, Marilynne Robinson?

Chelsea: Mmhmm. Love her. The queen.

Kay: She’s from Sandpoint, Idaho. Which is also where Viggo Mortensen sometimes lives. And he is a poet. And that’s also the same town where I learned to ski. And, uh,

Claire: Viggo Mortensen is a poet?

Chelsea: Skiing and Viggo Mortensen? Done.

Kay: And they have a Hemingway House in Sun Valley that you can go to. And there’s this beautiful, like, outdoor Shakespeare Festival in Boise. It’s an outdoor amphitheatre and it’s amazing. Anyway, so. I should have that Literary Tourism post up on Book Riot, we’ll be sure to link that. And that’s about it.

Chelsea: Very cool. Alright, well then I will just be churning out the content on the YouTube channel, as per usual, uh, by the time this goes out the next Sexy in ‘17 Reads —

Kay: Yay!

Chelsea: — will be up. We are reading A Gentleman in the Street by Alisha Rai. I’m really excited. I had some mixed feelings about, uh, Promise of Fire, which was our first pick. So I’m really looking forward to this one.

Kay: A Gentleman in the Street’s the one about the plus size politician’s daughter who owns a sex club, right?

Chelsea: Yeah, it is.

Kay: I’m all in. I’m so on board for this.

Chelsea: Mmhmm. Oh, yeah, I’m so excited. It’s gonna be a good one. Um, and then also by the time this goes up my series of episode reviews for Yuuri on Ice should’ve started —

Claire: Yessss.

Chelsea: — publishing on Snark Squad. We’ll link to those.

Claire: So excited.

Chelsea: I am doing episode by episode recap slash breakdowns. I’ve already done the first, like, half a dozen. So many gifs and so many naked pictures of Viktor. And, like, I don’t even know what work must think of me.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: My Google image search right now it’s pretty insane. But those should all be up and of course will be linked in the show notes. Please join us in a couple of weeks for talking about Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Until next time, I guess, bye guys.

Kay: Bye!

Claire and Chelsea: 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, @PaperbacksPod on Twitter, or at our website You can reach Kay @kaytaylorrea on Twitter, Claire @ClaireRousseau, and Chelsea @anoutlawlife. Additional credits and show notes will be available at our website. Thank you so much for listening. [Double speed] No paperbacks were harmed in the making of this program.

Chelsea: Third time’s a charm, ladies. We’re so fucking profesh. We got this.


Episode #03 – Transcript

Chelsea: 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: Alright, on today’s episode of Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks we are gonna wrap up some of the media we’ve currently been consuming. Then we are going to talk about our pick for this fortnight, Tessa Dare’s When a Scot Ties the Knot, the third book in her Castles Ever After series. And then we will wish you all a fond farewell by talking a little bit about what’s coming up ahead in the future. As always, I’m Chelsea.

Claire: I’m Claire.

Kay: And I’m Kay.

Chelsea: And, uh, I am currently reading something that I’m really excited about. I ordered it forever ago and it finally came in the mail. It is the Love Is Love graphic novel. I don’t know if any of you guys saw that pop up. It came out right after the, uh, Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. It is IDW and DC publishing together. Put together this compendium of queer stories, queer love stories that all have happy endings, by queer creators. It’s just the most lovely, beautiful thing. And it’s just full of all different forms of queer identity and sexual identity and expressions of love and it’s beautiful and it’s all done in like rainbow colors and palettes. And it’s got some of your DC people you’ll recognize. Yeah. I’m just. It’s really, really, like, a very positive piece of media in a realm that doesn’t always get a lot of positive representation and a good chunk of the profits went to benefit Pulse Orlando. Which, I’m always here for philanthropic media. But. Yeah. Uh. You know. It’s good. Good. Positivity is good. Always looking for more positivity. So.

Kay: Yay!

Claire: That sounds really lovely.

Chelsea: Yeah!

Claire: I, uh, just actually got a Gail Simone comic for my birthday from, uh, my friend Nick who does the Moderate Fantasy Violence podcast and he knows a lot more about comics than I do so this, uh. I’m really looking forward to it. But what I’m reading at the moment is equally exciting. And it is Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day which is the new novella by Seanan McGuire.

Kay: Aahhhh!

Chelsea: Yayyyyy!

Claire: I stopped reading Seanan to talk to you guys.

[Chelsea laughs]

Claire: I hope you appreciate how much that means.

Kay: That’s how we know that we’re loved.


Chelsea: That’s true love right there.

Claire: Yeah, uh, I spent a lot of time over the Christmas holidays kind of, uh, I spent a bunch of time over Christmas, like, flagging all the things that I want to read and potentially review and, like, asking for things on Netgalley and some of them are now coming in. Which is really, really super exciting. So.

Kay: Yay!

Claire: I have to, like, chop chop and read pretty fast.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: Yeah. And since you said media and not just books, I am also now watching Yuri on Ice.

Chelsea and Kay: [in unison] Yesssss.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: It’s so good!

Kay: I just rewatched the whole thing while my friend Cory was visiting, and it was his first experience. And as soon as we were done I was like, ‘What did you think?’ And he said, ‘I wish there was a second season.’ Which is the exact correct reaction to watching Yuri on Ice. [laughs]

Chelsea: Such a good reaction. Yeah, I write over at the Snark Squad website doing pop culture recaps and I am solely responsible for recapping all of Yuri on Ice. So those are gonna start going up in the next couple of weeks.

Kay: Awesome.

Chelsea: So I am very excited ‘cause it means doing a third rewatch. So.

Claire: Exciting.

Chelsea: I think I might finally be able to get done some of the land based choreography for the Eros dance, and I —

Kay: Nice.

Chelsea: This just brings me no end of, like, joy.

Claire: Yeah, I’ve been kind of pacing myself on that because I know it’s short and I don’t want to be done too soon, but I’m so happy that I’m, like, starting to understand all the jokes —

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: — everybody’s making. Like. I’ve not had a lot, I’ve not had this much, that many people talking about a thing that sounds awesome in my feeds since, like, Hamilton.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: So. I’m like, if it ends up being as good.

Chelsea: And it’s so unapologetically gay. And I just love it so much because you hear about it going in and you’re thinking it might be one of those, like, winks and nudges and people are just reading into the media, things.

Claire: Nope!

Chelsea: But it’s so gay!

Kay: Real gay.

Chelsea: [laughs] So good.

Kay: I don’t know if either of you listen to NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast?

Chelsea: Nu-uh.

Kay: But the most recent episode when they were talking about their things that make them happy at the end of the episode, one of them was talking about how his daughter love Yuri on Ice and that it was a gay ice skater anime cartoon. And I was like, I don’t know if that’s exactly how I would describe it, but yes. And great. This is getting, like, really mainstream when they’re talking about it on an NPR podcast.

Claire: Oh, I would’ve loved that as a teenager because I was all over the anime and I would read a lot of CLAMP, and. But the ones that I was watching, I can’t recall all the names now, but the ones I was watching I remember getting quite annoyed at, like, the fact that it was a dude and a million girls and how he was, like, kind of maybe in love with all of them. And I’m just like no.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: Ew.

Claire: And not in a good kind of poly way, right? Like, just.

Kay: [laughs] Not in a good way.

Chelsea: No, but like in a manwhore-y, like, centralizing cishet relationship-y kind of way.

Claire: Yeah, well, you know. Yuri on Ice doesn’t, so far, have, like, a lot of, like, enormous anime boobs.

Chelsea: No.

Claire: Which, like, no.

Kay: Which is a great thing, ya know?

Chelsea: No. There’s a lot of very —

Claire: [singsongs] That’s not how gravity works.

Chelsea: [singsongs] That’s not how gravity works.

[Kay snorts]

Chelsea: Uh, little bit of body shaming.

Claire: Hmmm…

Chelsea: Not so thrilled with it.

Kay: I was super bummed.

Chelsea: There’s quite a bit of body shaming and, it– on the one hand, I get it because it’s, like, the thing in professional sports.

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: Especially things like figure skating. At the same time, like, eh there were certain times in certain episodes where I’d be like awwww. That’s mean.

Kay: It was so unnecessary, though.

Chelsea: But. So.

Kay: They could’ve at least not used the fat-shaming language even if they were like, ‘he needs to lose some weight.’

Chelsea: Yeah. Or, like, you don’t have to make it like ‘you have to do x, y, z to earn your favorite, like ramen bowl.’ And, like, mmmmm.

Claire: Oh, yeah. I mean, if you start denying me food I’m gonna get over my, like, lifelong crush on you very quickly.

Chelsea: Well, yeah, man.

Claire: Just saying.

Chelsea: When I want pizza you can go fuck yourself. I’m an adult. You can’t. [laughs] That’s not. That’s not how that’s gonna, like, happen.

Kay: [sighs] Now I want a pork cutlet bowl.

Chelsea: So good. That show made me really hungry.

Kay: So good!

Chelsea: Just across the board.

Kay: That show makes me really, really hungry. Okay, we have to stop talking —

Chelsea: Okay, we. yeah.

Kay: We have to stop talking about Yuri on Ice.


Chelsea: What are you reading, Kay? What books are you reading?

Kay: [sighs] So, I’m on a bad run. I’m not gonna talk about ‘em, but I just read three romance novellas in a row —

Chelsea: Ahhhh.

Kay: — that I gave two stars to.

Chelsea: Ohhhh.

Kay: They were all just real mediocre. I was not particularly impressed.

Chelsea: That’s unfortunate.

Kay: But I’m still reading Men Fail at Everything: A Space Opera.


Kay: It’s going — and I’m doing those on audio. That’s, for those just tuning in, that’s the James SA Corey Expanse series. I’m still on the third one. That I still don’t know how to say. Is it Abaddon’s Gate? Abaddon’s Gate? Who the fuck knows how you say this?

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: I dunno. Anyways.

Claire: Probably the people that work at Abaddon Publishing, but.

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: Probably!

Chelsea: Eh.

Claire: I don’t know if, I was wondering if that was a thing.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: Like. A thing, you know. A thing in scifi that I don’t know about? Because it seems a lot of different things are named that, but.

Kay: I’m still reading the Expanse. It’s going kind of slow. This one I’m not loving quite as much. And I’m just about to start, um, the Mira Grant collection Rise, which is all stuff from the Feed universe. So it’s mostly, as far as I can tell it’s mostly short stuff that she already had out and it’s just compiled, and then a few new things.

Claire: Yeah.

Kay: So. Looking forward to that.

Claire: I was thinking about picking that up ‘cause I’ve read a lot of those online and I generally quite like them, but yeah. I, uh.

Chelsea: I have feelings about the Feed series.

Kay: So, I think that the original trilogy, like, the first book is about as close to a perfect, like, near future scifi mystery as you can get. And then I thought the second and third books were just kind of dropping off in quality.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: And, like, that’s.

Chelsea: The first book is the only zombie book I’ve ever read and liked. It’s like one of the few zombie novels I feel like really does it. That series.

Kay: Not a World War Z fan?

Chelsea: That series just makes me uncomfortable.

Claire: Right?

Kay: No spoilers, but me too.

Claire: No, no, no spoilers, but I love zombies and I loved Feed. I literally. I was listening to it on audiobook and, uh, as I was doing some, like, data transfer at work. I had to go and hide in a bathroom to cry when the big thing happened.

Chelsea: Awwww.

Claire: That will not be discussed.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: And then I read the, it’s one of those —

Chelsea: Are we talking about the first book? Or just —

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: I, yeah. Yeah, okay.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: I know what we’re talking about.

Kay: Yeahhhhh.

Chelsea: It, see. But it’s the later books. Some of the dynamics that change in the later books that give me, like, squicky afterthought feelings about that series as a whole. And —

Kay: Yes.

Chelsea: I love Seanan McGuire. And her work under Mira Grant, like I said, I thought that first book was so good, and like. [sighs] There were just some decisions made in some of the other books where I was just like hmmmmm. I don’t know about that.

Claire: Yeah. Well, I. It’s one of those where I started it with the audiobook. I loved it. And then I switched to the physical books.

Kay: The audio for those is good.

Claire: And they didn’t. I didn’t manage to read them quite as, quite as quickly. And I, like, dropped the second one in the middle of it ‘cause I’m actually quite bad at reading physical books. I’m trying to get better at it, but I just have a tendency of putting them down, like, randomly. And this one I was enjoying, but, I put it down. And I think, partly, it’s because of the thing that is squicking you out. I think I know what it is.

Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah.

Claire: [laughs] Which, like, is fine, ‘cause it’s, like, a book. It’s not real life. But still kind of squick. Um. So. Eh. But, like, I, all of the other things around it. Like, all of the other things around that series that, like, talk about the plague, that, um.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: [laughs] Yeah.

Chelsea: Yeah, like the universe. And I think that that collection, Kay, might be really interesting because I love the universe that she created.

Kay: Yeah!

Chelsea: And the way she structured, like, how she has her zombies and the way that whole, like–

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: — medical crossover thing worked. It’s just the relationships in the later Feed series that made me kind of meh.

Kay: Did either of you read Feedback, which is the one that came out fairly recently that’s like parallel to Feed? ‘Cause I did read that.

Claire: Oohhh.

Chelsea: No, but I put it on my TBR because it was just about the first book, like it’s with the first book.

Kay: Yeahhhh.

Chelsea: Not so…?

Kay: It starts so slow. Like, I don’t have any of the squick problems that I do with the first trilogy, but, like, I feel like most people who are reading that are probably going to be people who read Feed. And maybe that is a silly assumption. But it literally takes like third of the way into a 500 page book, or something, before she really gets into the plot. It’s mostly worldbuilding stuff. And I could be exaggerating that number in my head ‘cause it just felt really slow. But.

Chelsea: But no, I don’t think it’s an unfair assumption —

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: — to think that most people who are reading, like, a reversal or a parallel telling of a thing have read the first thing.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: So.

Kay: And it wasn’t terrible! Like, it’s still a Seanan book.

Chelsea: Well, yeah.

Kay: Mira Grant. Whatever.

Chelsea: Whatever.

Kay: It’s still Seanan writing. It’s not bad. It just was not as good as I was hoping.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Well, I think the thing is she is a gifted writer.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: So it’s going to, you know, but it, whether it does it for you. ‘Cause I read the first book in her Seanan McGuire series, the Toby Daye series —

Chelsea: Uhuh.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: — and I thought it was very well done.

Chelsea: The best thing. So good.

Claire: Hmmm, I’m not.

Kay: I love those. I LOVE those.

Claire: [sighs] Yeah, but I, I hate faeries. Like, I just.

Chelsea: Yeah. I mean, if you can’t do faeries.

Claire: I just hate the fae court.

Chelsea: Those books just aren’t gonna do it for ya.

Claire: I almost dropped that book at like, after the first, um, after she gets turned into a fish for twenty years. Or however long it is.

Chelsea: That’s like the first ten pages!

Kay: I was gonna say! Isn’t that the first chapter? [laughs]

Claire: I had the audiobook and I almost returned it after that because it made me so fucking sad.

Chelsea: Awww.

Claire: Like, I was like, ‘this book is making me miserable.’

Kay: It’s very sad!

Claire: Do I want to keep going?

Kay: Her stuff is always sad.

Chelsea: I mean, and I read the second one and some of the plot things are a little, like, sideeye-y, but, like, in a fun way. And she manages to make her faeries political enough that, like, I’m into it.

Kay: I think they’ve progressively gotten better, too. I think every book in that series has gotten better.

Chelsea: I was gonna say, I’ve only read the first two and I think they just published, like, the thirteenth one?

Kay: Yes!

[Claire laughs]

Chelsea: So, like, there’s plenty there for me to get through.

Kay: My favorite one was, like, the eleventh or twelfth one.

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: Which, like, I never, I NEVER fucking stay with a series that long, okay? Like I’m usually, ‘there’s no way the quality drop off was not huge.’

Chelsea: Right.

Kay: That’s me. I am the cranky person saying there’s no way this series needs to be this long. And I think they’re still getting better! And I’m that cranky old man!

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Who’s like ‘you need to quit your series after seven.’ [laughs]

Chelsea: As long as you get a solid cast of characters you can just keep having adventures.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: In whatever way you want for as long as people buy your books and you have, like, stories to tell. Like, that’s the great thing about…like it’s been, like, forever since I’ve been into an episodic series like that.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: So. That’s part of what’s exciting about it. So. Yeah.

Claire: I mean, the last time I read anything this long was the Dragonriders of Pern. So. You know. Like.

[Chelsea laughs]

Claire: This was a one time phenomenon for me.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Like, reading this many books in a series.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: Um. So. Eh.

Chelsea: Eh.

Claire: It might be good to go back and check it out again because I’ve definitely heard Seanan speak at events and say if you’re going to, like, there are things you need to know from the plot of the first book, but if you can, if you’re not a completist, if you can just be told some stuff.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: And you can move on?

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: You can definitely start with like the second novel, or something like that. So.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: The second one’s fun. The second one’s got a fun plot. I like. Yeah. The second one’s good.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: Alright, well I think that about wraps up what we are currently reading. Which will then take us into our discussion of When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]

Kay: Yay!

Chelsea: Uh, this is the first book that we have talked about so far that not all of us had read. This one came via Kay, our kinda in-house romance reader.

Kay: Yup.

Chelsea: So she pointed us to this. The kind of basic plot of the book, um, is that Madeline Gracechurch is a kind of woman of society, but she doesn’t want to do the whole social season. She’s very shy, she feels very anxious. So to get out of that she invents a betrothed. She kinda goes on a vacation and then when she comes back tells her whole family that she had this whirlwind romance with this Scottish military captain, uh, named Logan. Logan MacKenzie. And of course, then, now they are engaged and in love and she can skip out on trying to find an actual husband because she writes these fake penpal letters to her imaginary husband. And her life goes on like this and she kind of invents their whole relationship and eventually, you know, kills him in battle because she doesn’t want to have to keep writing letters to him and goes about her life. And one day as she is living with her, kind of, spinster aunt in this castle that her godfather has left her, guess who shows up on her front door? Logan motherfucking MacKenzie.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: And he’s here to collect on, essentially, the life that she created for him in her fake letters. Turns out when you post letters to the Scottish army under a fairly popular name like Logan MacKenzie they might just find their way to a soldier named Logan MacKenzie. Um, and so the, his Scottish regiment is home from war. He and his men need a place to stay. Here is this English landowner, this English noblewoman who is basically promised to him. And when he comes to collect, hijinks ensue.

Kay: Hijinks totally ensue. [laughs]

Chelsea: And sparks fly. And things happen with lobsters. And tiny spectacles.

[Kay keeps laughing]

Chelsea: And there’s a lot of good talk about mental health stuff and man, yeah. I just really liked this book. We definitely have some things to talk about. Alright. So. Somebody else talk now.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: ‘Cause I just talked for a really long time. So. Somebody else talk now. [laughs]

Kay: [laughs] I could see Claire making faces through that whole thing.

Claire: So, well, first of all, as the resident, like, person who lives in the UK I’ll point out that Logan MacKenzie was in the British Army.

Kay: British Army, yeah.

Claire: Not the Scottish Army.

Chelsea: That’s fair.

Claire: That is, like, part of, like —

Chelsea: The tension?

Claire: The crux of the problem.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: And the tension, which is about the kind of, uh —

Chelsea: I will don my, like, ignorant American world history hat.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: And say that I dropped the ball on that one a little bit. But. Good call, Claire. That is definitely an important thing to have correct. [laughs]

Claire: Yeah, so it’s one of those things where, that time in history where, uh, Scottish people are kind of being pushed further and further out of their land by, by British landowners like you said, by English landowners. Um. There’s so many things I liked about this book and so many things that annoyed me about this book.


Claire: And, ya know, it’s kind of one of those where it’s like I like it enough that I just want to fix it.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: [laughs] So.

Chelsea: So, what didn’t you like? Like, not that I always want to —

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: — start off with, like, the bad foot, but. What didn’t you like?

Kay: No, but that’s good.

Claire: Well, mostly the problem for me is that when I was reading the beginning of it I had a very strong idea of where it might go.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: And I read it on my commute in the morning and I read, like, you know, twenty percent of it. They were just getting married when I got to work. And, you know, I had a certain idea of how things would go in my head and then it happened completely differently.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: So that was interesting to me. Like, I really, really, really like the arranged marriage, marriage of convenience, fake marriage, fake relationship, all these tropes in fanfiction.

Chelsea: For the record, I do not. Claire and Kay do, but I, that is not one of those tropes that sticks out to me.

Claire: Well, and I think maybe the fact, maybe the thing is that I’ve read a lot more of things that are like this than you have.

Chelsea: Very true.

Claire: And so I’m, like, a bit pickier. I don’t know.

Chelsea: That’s probably very true. It’s very true.

Claire: But the thing is I’ve read a lot of it in a modern setting.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: Which is a bit different.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: And, also, again, one of the reasons I like reading fanfic and generally, you know, slash fic or femslash, is that you don’t end up having some of the conflict based on gender and on gender, like, expectations and differences or whatever. Which is always a bit fraught. I just assumed that they would get married and consummate their marriage and have, like, and snog, and have a bunch of sex and suddenly, and slowly catch feelings as you go along the book and, you know, slowly fall in love with each other.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: Like, by getting to know each other.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: Which, it would’ve been, for me, a lot better, but because you have this plot where she realizes that, like, her final bargaining chip is that they’re not married until they’ve consummated their marriage.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: She holds off. And, like, you end up, for half the book it’s like ‘come on, have sex with me, already’ and she’s like ‘fine, but no.’

Chelsea: [laughs] Yeah.

Claire: And he keeps pushing and it’s like, there, there’s, she tries to walk this very fine line, Tessa Dare, the author, tries to walk this really fine line when it’s very explicit that he, like, always waits for her to, like, verbally say yes or no before he does anything.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: And it’s not like, he’s like, ‘I’ve been at war for a really long time. I have lost a lot of my humanity, but not that.’ And.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: So. You know. She really does try. But. Like. He is pushy about it. ‘Cause he wants to secure the land.

Chelsea: Well, yeah. Like, at the end of the day he’s there for a reason and the reason he’s there kind of exists independent of whether or not she consents to it. ‘Cause, like, he blackmails her when he arrives, essentially. Saying, ‘I have all these letters you wrote me. I’m going to take them to your father. I’m going to take them to the, you know, gossip rags. I’m gonna ruin you, basically, in any way I can, unless you marry me and do all the things you promised in your letters.’ And, like, it’s ya know. It’s, eh. It’s one of those things where it is kind of easy to kind of, just, accept and get on with for the sake of the story. But there’s some weird, underlying kind of consent things going on there of, like.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: Is it really, can she really consent to do it if he’s holding her hostage for it? And like, or at least that’s what stuck out to me about it.

Claire: But it’s not. Yeah.

Chelsea: And so that’s why they kinda tried to do the halfway, like, we’re married but it’s not consummated, so, like, we kinda both have a vested stake here. And, like.

Kay: And they do make it clear beforehand he’s like, ‘I’m not expecting anything from you after we consummate.’ Like, before they get, before they have the handfasting. He’s like, ‘I’m not expecting anything other than for us to consummate and then you can continue to do your work that you wanna do and blah blah blah.’

Chelsea: But, like, legally —

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: We have to have sex one time. That’s how marriage works.

Kay: And at that point, she is fine with that.

Chelsea: Then, yeah. Of course because this is not a hundred and fifty page novella, it’s a three hundred and fifty page book, so other shit happens.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: And they have to, you know, there’s a lot of back and forth and — I also thought they would’ve consummated way earlier in the book. It just didn’t.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: The reasons they didn’t, they chose not to, always seemed relatively plausible within, like, the context of what was happening.

Kay: Agreed.

Claire: Yeah, I suppose what, I suppose the thing that made it difficult for me to find the whole thing, you know, like, sexy or whatever [laughs], was like, although. No. ‘Cause it, that, that —

[Chelsea laughs]

Claire: — the sex scenes are very sexy.

Kay: I was like, ummm…


Chelsea: It’s still pretty sexy, ya know, I’m just saying.

Claire: Mmhmm. No, no, smooshing, the smoochy bits are pretty sexy, but —

[Kay laughs]

Claire: — the, the idea is that, you know, they don’t. They agree that they’re gonna get married and then the reason that she can’t go through with it, or the reason that she doesn’t want to go through with it for a while, is, like, actually it’s not as simple as we’ll get married and I’ll now own this property and you can’t boot the Scots out of the land, anymore.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: It’s that, there is more to it than that. Like, if they get married, even if he said you can pursue your work it, it’s still, like, he can change his mind about that. He owns everything, you know? Like, the fact that there is sexism and the patriarchy —

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: — means that she has to be super careful about it.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: And that, kind of —

Chelsea: And she has good reason not to trust him.

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: I mean, he’s there blackmailing her.

Claire: Right. Right, right.

Chelsea: And then asking her to trust him to keep his word. That’s, like.

Kay: He also has good reason not to trust her, because she’s been lying to her nearest and dearest for six plus years by the time they meet. Yeah.

Chelsea: Like Claire was saying, she’s an English land owner on Scottish land which already includes a whole history’s worth of tension and backstory and conflict there, so. But that’s part of what I love about this book.

Kay: Which is specifically addressed, yeah.

Chelsea: Yeah. There are so many of those layers. There’s the intimate layer of the two of them, kind of, the politics of their relationship, kind of both trying to get what they want. In the backdrop of the gender dynamics. One of my favorite scenes in this book is when they go to a ball to try to get her a job with the assumption that if she can secure herself this job then she can give Logan the castle. Give Logan the property.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: She won’t need it anymore. She’ll have a way of earning her own income. And she gets there and, of course, all the work that she’s already done is ignored. People are literally taking credit for her work. She is not acknowledged in any fashion. And, like, Logan is not fucking having it, man. And, like, he doesn’t —

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: He’s not gonna let that fly. And so there’s a bigger discussion of gender politics and then the actual politics of Scotland v England. And the war that’s happening. And so there’s all these, like, nesting dolls of things going on. And I feel like that’s really what made the book fly for me even as some of those not sexy times that I wanted to be happening weren’t there. [laughs] There wasn’t enough of them. The ones that were there were really good, but there just weren’t enough of them.

Kay: I think that there’s maybe eight sex scenes in here? That’s quite a few for a non-erotica romance.

Chelsea: Now I’m trying…are we all trying to count ‘em in our heads? I’m counting in my head and seeing if I get to eight.

Kay: [laughs] I’m counting and hmm…

Chelsea: ‘Cause I’m like…there’s the one…

Kay: I totally should have bookmarked them. [laughs]

Chelsea: There’s the first one where they…’cause I guess it all depends, and this is such an inane conversation to have.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: But I guess it depends on how you define sex scene. ‘Cause, like, you know. If, there are only boobs involved.

Kay: I mean, they don’t consummate till, like, the two hundred and something-th, the two hundred and seventieth page or something.

Chelsea: Well, no. There’s the one where he goes under her skirts. There’s the one in the kitchen. There’s the one where she goes down on him. There’s the one where they consummate. That’s only four. In my opinion, if only boobs come out, it doesn’t count.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: Like, it doesn’t count if only boobs are involved. So, maybe…

Kay: Did you count the mutual masturbation one?

Chelsea: Oh, no, I don’t think I go that one. That’s five. That’s a good one.

Kay: It’s a really good one.

Chelsea: You don’t get a lot of mutual masturbation in romance novels. That’s a good one. Yeah. That’s a good one. Maybe there are eight.

Kay: I’m pretty sure there’s a couple more.

Claire: I dunno.

Kay: I could be wrong.

Claire: Even for a romance novel the boob scenes in this one are pretty explicit. Like…

Chelsea: I do like the one where —

Kay: They’re pretty sexy.

Chelsea: — she wears it backwards under her bra? Basically? [laughs]

Kay: [laughs] Yeah, like, she has a nightgown and then a nightgown buttoned the other way underneath.

Chelsea: Yeah!

Claire: Yes. [laughs]

Kay: So it’s, like, a double layer. [laughs]

Claire: And he’s like, ‘don’t you trust me?’ and she’s like ‘oh, I don’t trust myself.’

Kay: I don’t trust me!


Chelsea: Don’t trust myself.

Claire: So.

Chelsea: Which is, like, such a corny romance novel line, but also works so well. Speaking of which.

Kay: It definitely works for them. [laughs]

Chelsea: [laughs] Yeah. It works there. I really like the dialogue repetition that they do. When they go, ‘remember when?’

Claire: I love that. So cute.

Kay: Yessss.

Chelsea: And then fill in the future memory?

Kay: I loved that.

Chelsea: It doesn’t happen a ton, but every time it happens it works really well. It’s just such a little thing that’s so sweet —

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: — that by the time that they get to the end of the novel and, like, they’re having a baby? Just, like, my head exploded. My heart melted. My brain just, like, exploded. It was so good.

Kay: Which, I’m not usually a ‘we need to have an epilogue where everyone’s married and has a baby’ person, but, like, it really works for them. [laughs]

Claire: Hmmm…well.

Kay: Claire, no. [laughs]

Claire: Well, I mean, like, there’s definitely a line, there’s definitely a line earlier in the book where both of them say they don’t want children. And then they don’t talk about it again until she’s pregnant. Which, like, if they were lying to each other and then they tell each other oh, well, no, I lied, I definitely want a family. Then that would be fine. But we’re just left to expect that they lied because that’s what, like, aligns with traditional family dynamics? Which is just. Eh.

Kay: I assume that there was a conversation that happened offscreen. Because it’s in her head at that point, when they have that conversation, right? It’s in her viewpoint? And she was definitely lying because she loves babies. And, like, we talk about throughout the book his mommy issues and abandonment issues.

Chelsea: They never have the conversation.

Kay: So, like, I assumed that was a thing.

Claire: I think it makes sense in retrospect, because of all these things.

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: But I would’ve liked to see it on the page because I like, I like holding other people’s babies. I do not want one of my own. I mean.

Kay: Fair. And same.

Chelsea: That’s fair.

Claire: I don’t think it’s conclusive. I mean, you love Adorable Nephew.

Kay: Adorable Nephew is one of my favorite humans, but I don’t want one of my own.

[Chelsea laughs]

Claire: Exactly!

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: But I think, kinda, I agree, Claire, I think it’s always important for those conversations to happen on the page. Just because.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: It’s always important to get, like, to show those dialogues being had. I think in this case, I agree with Kay. Like, contextually we’re shown them with babies enough throughout the book that I think it’s kind of, like, implied or illustrated that while they may not want babies like when they say that, they’re both okay with babies.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: And both are family type people. And, like, like I said. It would’ve been way better if they’d just —

Kay: Yes.

Chelsea: — had a short conversation of like, ‘hey, remember how we changed our minds about having babies? Well, now we’re having one. Isn’t that great?’ But.

Claire: Yeah. But also the fact that it happens in the epilogue and that it’s clearly sometime later does really help.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Because then it’s not. You know.

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: Kind of sprung on you.

Chelsea: Not immediate. Yeah.

Claire: You know.

Kay: Speaking of epilogues, I forgot to send it to you guys, but! So Tessa Dare does her, you know, newsletter or whatever and her holiday newsletter this year was an additional epilogue.

Claire: Ooooohhhh.

Chelsea: Yay!

Kay: So I will link that to you and we will have that in the show notes as well, if anyone is reading along with us.

Claire: Awesome.

Chelsea: Yay! That’ll be so exciting! ‘Cause yeah.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: I really love holiday stories.

Chelsea: I like holiday stories. I really like Logan. I really like Logan a lot. And I didn’t think I would when he first got there ‘cause he was being all creepy with consent stuff, but.

Kay: Yup.


Kay: I dunno, I mean —

Chelsea: He wears tiny glasses.

Kay: Yes.

Chelsea: And he likes to read.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: And he has, like, found family feelings with his military buddies.

Kay: Yessss.

Chelsea: And I’m just like. Which, like. That was just a huge thing for me. That military camaraderie kind of homosocial bonding thing is a dynamic I am usually here for, like, really hard. So I really liked it in this book.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: Yeah, I mean, a lot of the things that I have that are issues for me are more like me thinking, ‘well, this was great, but I feel like storywise it would’ve worked better in this way.’ Or, then, narrative things? Like some things we discover about both of them at the end of the book feel like the rug being pulled out from under your feet. It’s not my favorite type of, you know, um, it’s not my favorite type of storytelling. Like, when you discover that the brooch is engraved with his mother’s initials and not a girlfriend’s, like, yeah, that was pretty obvious.

[Chelsea gasps]

Kay: I was gonna say, I called that really early.

Chelsea: I didn’t!

Kay: So it didn’t bother me at all.

Chelsea: I had no idea! I just assumed it was some ex-girlfriend who ruined his heart.

Kay: Awww.

Chelsea: Because that’s how evil wenches work in romance. So I just, like, figured it was some offscreen thing that [laughs] we were never gonna get to see.

Kay: His mom broke his heart.

Chelsea: So it turned out so much better when it turned out it was mommy issues! Like, so much, like, not easier to deal with, but just, such a different —

[Kay sighs]

Chelsea: — just, all my anger went away and all my sympathy turned to eleven.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: I was just like, poor Logan! Awww.

Claire: What I really did love, actually, was all the moments in Maddie’s own point of view where she was like, ‘no, I’m feeling sympathetic! I’m going to fall in love with him! He’s hot and I’m sympathetic! It has to stop!’

Kay: [laughs] He needs to do something terrible!

Chelsea: Like, I like that she says that out loud to him. You need to be an asshole.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: ‘Cause you’re hot and I don’t wanna like you, so you need to be more awful.

Kay: There’s a point where she’s saying, ‘I need to turn around and see you with a baby.’ Right?

Claire: Like, you know, there’s a moment where he confesses to her, like, that he was really in love with her through her letters and she killed him off and he was upset. And there’s a moment where we discover the cause of, um, her fear of crowds. And it’s like. Like I was saying, a lot of my issues were more like how the story was told than the story itself.

Chelsea and Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: Like, the moment at the end, with, um, with him telling her that he was kind of a bit in love with her because of her letters and then he was upset and she, like, killed him off and broke up with him by way of killing him off. And then the moment where you discover why Maddie’s afraid of crowds. Those both felt like things that should have been referenced earlier in their own points of view. And I was, like, yeah, but, uh, I, uh, why? The book’s almost finished!

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: How could I? Ah! You know, it’s a really difficult to be in the story for me if I can, if I have something like that, you know, that, like.

Chelsea: I find it, I don’t think that they needed to include the reason that they did for Maddie being socially anxious.

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: I think it’s fine. I think the reason fits. I just don’t think that she necessarily needed a reason. I don’t think that it necessarily needed to be like a PTSD type reaction. It could’ve just been social anxiety and, like, anxiety disorder and that kind of stuff.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: So that one, I think, bothered me a little more. The Logan thing, for some reason, it just didn’t bother me. Maybe it’s because it’s…

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: I knew it was something. I knew that there was something with the letters that we weren’t talking about yet and so I just, kind of, saw it coming.

Claire: Yeah, I think sometimes it works and sometime it doesn’t. Because in the first Castle Ever After book that Kay also —

Chelsea: Romancing the Duke? Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Claire: — also recommended, and we also loved it. And I can’t remember what it’s called.

Chelsea: Romancing the Duke is the first one.

Kay: Yes.

Claire: Thank you.

Chelsea: You’re welcome.

Claire: In that one, there is also kind of a revelation at the end and that works a lot better because it’s something that when you reread the book if you reread her point of view, where she’s keeping this secret it would all make sense.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: And he figures it out because he knows her so well and I was like, ‘Yes! I was hoping that it would be that!’

Chelsea: Mmhmm. Yeah. I agree. I think that part of that book works better, although on the whole I enjoyed this one more than I enjoyed Romancing the Duke.

Kay: Same.

Claire: Yeah, see —

Kay: There are things I like about Romancing the Duke, but.

Claire: In this one, I really love the beginning and there were bits where I had to stop reading to flail about it.


Claire: Like the poem at the dinner table.

Chelsea: Aw, it’s so good.

Kay: So great!

Chelsea: So, so good.

Claire: But, like, I think overall I like them both the same.

Chelsea: Well, did we, does anyone else have anything they’d like to talk about? Favorite parts we didn’t mention? Anything like that? Favorite lines?

Claire: Oh! Yes. I don’t have a favorite line.

Chelsea: ‘Kay.

Claire: But I have a favorite part.

Chelsea: Okay.

Claire: And that is when they go and visit the, uh, tenants.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: Yesss.

Claire: So she is trying to find these letters that he’s hiding and he catches her and she’s like, ‘I was thinking we should go visit the tenants tomorrow!’ Kind of, like, make up something on the fly, you know?

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: And then they go and they have this great interaction where he’s like, ‘Oh, you might want to stay away ‘cause you’re an English lady.’

[Chelsea laughs]

Claire: ‘And, you know, they’re probably terrified to see you now, because, you know, I mean, I shouldn’t have worn this military coat.’

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: ‘They’re going to think that you’re going to evict them.’ Terrible. And she’s like, ‘Uhuh. Uhuh. Uhuh.’ And then she walks in there and everybody knows her because she does go there all the time. And she’s like, ‘Oh, by the way, here’s the ladies who are not married yet that would probably like to go and have a dance with your soldiers’ and all that kind of thing. And she knows all the children by name and she’s like, ‘Here’s this kid that I paid to have vaccinated, because vaccines are important’ and all that kind of stuff.

Kay: So great.

Chelsea: Which, like, yes for science. I like that, too, ‘cause he’s literally like mansplaining to her. ‘Just so you know, they might not like you because you’re British. Just so ya know.’

Claire: The English suck.

Chelsea: So. You know. And she’s like, ‘Oh, uhuh? Is that right?’

Claire: Just so you know how to be a landlady, or whatever, even though he’s never been there before, so, like. I don’t know how he thinks she’s, she’s been living there for maybe five years or something. I don’t know how he thinks that she’s not done this before. But, uh, yeah, it was really funny. Um.

Kay: Has she been living there that long?

Claire: I don’t know.

Kay: I’m trying to remember the timeline. I think it’s, like, maybe a year?

Chelsea: I think it’s like two years? But still. I mean, it clearly indicates what he thinks of her.

Kay: Yeah, yeah.

Chelsea: To assume that she’s been there for years and has never —

Kay: Silly English woman.

Chelsea: — gone to talk to the women who live on her land.

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: And who are, like, in her charge. [laughs] I just like when she comes out of the bathroom and he’s basically naked in bed with a tiny pair of spectacles on reading a book. That’s my favorite part. He just is wearing, he’s just this big, burly, like, Scottish man.

Kay: Okay, there’s a couple where, like, she comes out and he’s reading. So, like, the beginning of chapter 16 she comes out from behind her dressing screen and she says, ‘Oh, really, Logan, that just isn’t fair.’

[Chelsea starts laughing]

Kay: ‘He looked up from his reclined pose on her bedroom chaise lounge, his face partially hidden behind a book bound in dark green leather. “What? You’re reading Pride and Prejudice?” He shrugged. “I found it on your bookshelf.” Seeing him read any book was bad enough, but her favorite book? That was sheer torture. “Just promise me something, please,” she said. “What’s that?”’

[Chelsea laughs harder]

Kay: ‘“Promise me that I’m not going to come out from behind this screen one night and find you holding a baby.” That seemed the only possibility more devastating to her self control. He chuckled. ‘It doesn’a seem likely.”’ And I’m just like, she’s one of us!

Chelsea: ‘Cause you know he’s just like, he’s sprawled out, just holding this little book. Yeah. And he’s got, like, bear hands.

Kay: Well, he’s six feet tall. Like, they describe him as being really tall. So he’s probably, like, hanging off the end.

Chelsea: I just keep picturing this big muscled man with this little pair of glasses, like.


Chelsea: Good stuff.

Kay: We didn’t talk about Grant.

Claire: Oh, we did not talk about Grant.

Kay: Grant was…made me so sad.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Kay: But also so happy, ‘cause he was so nice to her. Until he wasn’t. [laughs]

Claire: I dunno, I quite like how it resolved, where, it wasn’t completely fixed. Like. Where, at the end he was starting to get more of the, his memory back.

Kay: Yes.

Claire: I…I like the fact, the way it was portrayed, like, as a thing that happened to him that was going on and not like, oh, here’s Grant, he’s addled, or something terrible, you know? It’s not like a change that has happened to him that has made him a different, that has made him something else. It’s something that’s going on with him. And they are both, and they discuss how to handle it. She’s like, at some point he’s going to remember, at some point you’re gonna all get old and then you’re gonna have to explain to him why you’re, like, not seeing his babies, his little ones.

[Kay sniffles]

Claire: There’s, I mean, I can understand why Logan and the other military men —

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: — don’t want to tell this guy who’s got short term memory issues that, like, his family’s dead over and over again every day, but, you know, when he starts to remember that makes sense to tell him.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: There’s not always that conversation about the future of how to live with and how to be the family member of somebody who’s struggling with something like the kind of amnesia and PTSD that Grant is suffering from.

Claire: Yeah.

Chelsea: Because it’s really hard. Not. Obviously, for him, but even more so for those around him. Like, not just the practicalities of, like you said, as he gets older, as his body starts to change, as those around him start to change, but just, like, the emotional toll of having to a) lie to him every time he asks and b) Logan bears a lot of that responsibility as the commander in charge of his platoon, or his garrison when that injury actually happened. And so there’s just a lot of layers of grief and guilt that come along with being the support system of somebody who’s going through mental illness that I think this book taps into in a way that is really nice because it’s a found family. There’s no genetic obligation. It’s all these military —

Claire: Yeah.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: — and kind of other social bonds and so. I really think, I like Grant. And he’s so nice!

Kay: ‘You lucky bastard!’ [laughs] Every time he sees her, he thinks she’s pretty.

Chelsea: ‘You lucky bastard.’

Kay: Every time!

Claire: He’s like ‘damn, Logan!’

Kay: But I just like, in general, the way the book addresses disability and there’s, like, various moments throughout where I was just like A+. Like, you’ve got the guy who lost part of his arm, had part of his arm amputated. And she puts the baby in his arms and he’s like, ‘I can’t, like, look at my arm.’ And she says, ‘Mothers hold babies with one arm all the time.’ And she trusts him to take care of the baby and hold him for her and I’m just like [sniffles]

Claire: And I kept forgetting that was a thing? You know? ‘Cause, it’s like, they never make a big deal about it, that’s just a thing. You know? And he’s clearly, like, the second, he’s clearly the right hand man. He’s clearly like a second in command.

Chelsea: Callum? Uhuh.

Claire: Yeah. So, he’s clearly the most trusted of the advisors, you know, of the guys, so.

Chelsea: I’m trying to think, ‘cause. So, we talked a little bit about, um, Maddie, ‘cause Maddie also is, in the book they give her a specific incident when she’s younger. She suffers from being in the middle of a riot in a crowded kind of town square and that gives her, yeah. She’s almost trampled. And, for good reason, that gives her some very —

Kay: She’s almost trampled, yeah.

Chelsea: — anxious and, yeah, post traumatic symptoms towards being in crowds and being in kind of crowded places.

Claire: Yeah, and then she never tells anybody about it, either, because it, it happened to be whilst her mother was ill and when she comes home her mother’s died that night. And so she, like, never talks to anyone about it.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Which, like, is the kind of thing that could probably have really helped.

Chelsea: And so, like I mentioned earlier, I, while I understand and I think that it’s a fair enough situation to have happened to her in the context of the story, I don’t think it necessarily needed to have been there. I think that the way that her social anxiety presents itself could’ve just been left as part of her character and part of her personality and way of dealing with the world. Um. But that’s just from me, that’s just coming from a reader who, as someone with social anxiety for no reason, just like that’s a preference I have in the way I read mental illness. That’s gonna vary with every person.

Claire: I don’t really know a lot about social anxiety, myself, and how it manifests, but I have other phobias that, like, and you know I wouldn’t equate a phobia with a mental illness, ‘cause that’s completely different.

Chelsea: Mmhmm.

Claire: But, still. Those things have no rhyme or reason. They’re not rational. And we know that as we are experiencing them. So I was kind of, like, you know. It, it’s not necessarily a problem because this one book did it. It’s more that it feels like it’s something that happens in a lot of romance that I’ve read. Which is like, oh, here’s a character, that, like, male character has these good things and these bad things about him and also some trauma. Female character with good things and bad things and also some trauma. And they are hot and they, like, get together. [laughs] And, you know, it’s like, oh, you know, there’s like a girl in one of the Bridgerton books who has a fear of storms. And, again, it’s like, because there was a storm the night her mother died, or something. You know? So that particular thing I was like, I’ve read that before.

Kay: So, these are fair criticisms. I do want to point out that she talks about the fact that she was already very shy and quiet before this incident. So she did have the social anxiety, it just got way worse.

Chelsea: Like I said, within the context of her story, it’s very realistic that she would react the way she reacts given that she was probably already, like Kay said, it’s established that she was already pretty clearly on the path to being just kind of an anxious person and then this particular event just really catapulted that into the level of being, like, a neuroses. Like, to the point where she literally, like, has — and that was another thing I liked. Is that this book does panic attacks really well.

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: Or described, des — I’ll say it this way. In a way that I found incredibly relatable.

Kay: So well.

Chelsea: And felt true to my experience. I know panic attacks are different for everybody, but they describe her freezing and her inability to move even as her rational mind is trying to tell her to calm down. And, yeah.

Kay: It’s almost a dissociative episode, at one point, that felt really real to me.

Chelsea: I like that there are so many different forms of, not only, mental health concerns, but also physical disability throughout the book.

Claire: Yeah, and I also really like the way that Logan addressed it, where he was like, ‘Well, I don’t understand necessarily, but I also don’t understand necessarily what’s going on with some of my men. But, like, I know that it’s completely, you know, 100% real for them. And so I have to help. I have to do what I can.’

Kay: Mmhmm.

Claire: And how they’re trying to provide support and that, that’s really lovely. I mean, he does tell her that it’s a real thing and she says, ‘Oh, it’s silly. It’s silly to be scared. I bet you were never scared when you went into battle.’ And he’s like, ‘Haha, we were terrified all the time.’

Kay: Every time. Every time.

Chelsea: Uhuh.

Kay: And I like that he doesn’t try to ‘fix’ anyone.

Claire: Yeah. Because of course a lot of people have told her before that there’s nothing to be scared of and all that kind of thing.

Chelsea: Which, like, when you are an anxious person? Does not help. Is like, not a thing that you want to hear. It is just like…because that’s the thing. Your brain knows that.

Kay: It’s the worst.

Chelsea: The rational part of your brain knows that.

Kay: Yeah, no.

Chelsea: The rational part of your brain is not the part that’s in charge right now, so it doesn’t matter.

Kay: We already know.

Chelsea: It’s all the other parts of your brain that are fucking up. So, it’s like, tell that to the —

Kay: Tell that to my rapidly fucking beating heart.

Chelsea: — so they. It’s so nice, like you were saying, Claire, to see him not saying any of that. He just, he forces her to breathe and to focus and to, he takes her away from it all and he just. Even if it’s not, like, put in those terms, he clearly has experience dealing with people in the midst of serious mental health struggles. And the way that he helps them cope and the way that he, himself, copes, is a really good example of how to do that when you have people in your life going through that kinda stuff. A+.

Claire: I’m, I mean, I did not know all that much about, ya know, any of this kind of like anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, even if you are exposed to something like that in, like, the silly medium of, like, a romance story, um, you know. And I’m saying silly because I read some silly things, not because the genre as a whole is silly, you know. Um, being exposed to things in fiction is really important to make you relate to it if you don’t know them personally. And I think, that, ya know, I’m glad that there are things like that in romance novels and that it’s not, just, you know. The idea that you can have of a genre when you don’t really know it, um, which can be very limited. And, and not this in-depth.

Chelsea: I bet a lot of people who don’t read romance would not expect that most of this conversation would’ve been about political structures between England and Scotland, and dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and mental health. Romance is awesome. And, here’s the thing. We got to talk about all of that.

[Kay laughs]

Chelsea: And there was also really hot sex happening. So, like, all the things.

Kay: Really, really good sex.

Chelsea: I think that is a solid note to end on.

Kay: I think we’re good.

Chelsea: I think we’ll move on towards wrapping it up by talking a little bit about what is to come.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]

Chelsea: Alright, so then moving on to next up on the list. We are officially starting our rotation of titles. Which means we will each pick one and the other, you know, we’ll all read it together. First up is Kay. Kay picked the first one. And our next read is going to be Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee. This is an #ownvoices bisexual Asian American young adult novel, um, about Jessica Tran, who is the daughter of superheroes and goes to a high school full of superheroes and is basically dealing with the life of being surrounded by people who are super. [laughs] And what happens when that’s your life and you also happen to be a teenager. So, yeah. Kay told us about it and it just checked so many boxes for diversity and for the things we’re interested in. Superheroes and all those things. So that is the next book that we will be talking about in a fortnight. In two weeks when you come back to join us.

Everyone: Yay!

Chelsea: It’s so exciting! I’m so excited to get into our first rotation pick. Thing. And in terms of what we all have going independently, I have just put up a review of the Oh Joy Sex Toy webcomic and the graphic novels that came out as a part of that. That video just went up on my channel and by the time this goes up we should have a review of Stories of Your Life and Others which is the short story collection that the Arrival short story came from. Which I believe is by…Ted Liu? Ted Chiang. Ted Chiang.

Kay: It’s a really good collection.

Chelsea: I have the Ken Liu book, Paper Menageries, I bought them both at the same time. So I think in my brain I’ve combined them into one giant story collection. Um, but yeah. That’s really all I’ve got going at the moment. What about you ladies?

Claire: Well I have just put up, before we started recording, my most anticipated releases of the beginning of 2017 video, and that has seventeen books and I was just thinking oh my goodness. If I’m trying to read those seventeen novels plus do, like, rereads and reading for the podcast and whatever. I don’t know how I’m going to fit everything in, but, uh, there’s a lot of exciting books in there and I, I cannot wait.

Chelsea: You probably won’t fit it all in. This is the curse of all of our lives.

Claire: Sh! Don’t say that. I don’t wanna know!

Chelsea: [laughs] I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m that person.

Kay: You can try. You can try! [laughs]

Chelsea: I know. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I can’t help it!

Kay: Such a Debbie Downer, Chelsea.

Chelsea: Alright, what d’you got going on?

Kay: I have been swamped with house guests for, like, weeks. I, there’s been many people at my house. I have not been getting very much non-necessary work done, but I don’t think I mentioned in our last episode I did post my fifty favorite fanfics from 2016 on the blog. Um, so there’s lots of fic recs for you guys to read and we’ll be sure to link that. And I’m still doing Fic Rec a Day for Star Trek on Twitter.

Chelsea: Well, I think then, um, that about wraps it up? I’m pretty sure we’ve covered everything. Join us in a fortnight, we will be talking about our next book by CB Lee. Until then, everybody have happy reading, and say goodbye, ladies!

Kay and Claire: 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, @PaperbacksPod on Twitter, or at our website You can reach Kay @kaytaylorrea on Twitter, Claire @ClaireRousseau, and Chelsea @anoutlawlife. Additional credits and show notes will be available at our website. Thank you so much for listening. [Double speed] No paperbacks were harmed in the making of this program.