October Book Club Announcement

Oct. 20th, 2017 07:24 pm
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Posted by Amanda

We’ve selected With This Curse by Amanda DeWees for our October read for the SBTB book club. Our official selection post has some more information on the book, including Elyse’s thoughts on why it’s a great Gothic pick for the month of October.

Our chat will occur on Wednesday, October 25 from 8:00pm – 9:30pm EDT. That afternoon, we’ll post the chat link on the site and it will go live around 8:00pm. Sarah will lead a discussion of the book for around an hour, and then author Amanda DeWees will pop in for a Q&A!

We hope to see you there!

the Last Good Idea

Oct. 20th, 2017 12:00 am
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October 20th, 2017next

October 20th, 2017: TODAY'S MY BIRTHDAY! Looks like *I* completed an orbit around the sun and now deserve a moderate slice of cake!!

– Ryan

Unwanted Girl by MK Schiller

Oct. 20th, 2017 08:00 am
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Posted by Carrie S

B+

Unwanted Girl

by M.K. Schiller
January 19, 2016 · Lyrical Shine
Romance

Unwanted Girl deals with serious topics and yet manages to be a sweet, satisfying romance. It’s quite a balancing act in terms of tone.

The hero of Unwanted Girl is Nick Dorsey, the writer of a series of bestselling spy novels of the James Bond type. Nick is also a recovering meth addict. When the book starts, he’s been meth-free for eighteen months, although he still drinks alcohol in moderation (N.B.: most recovery programs do not recommend continuing to drink alcohol after quitting other drugs, although it appears that some people are able to do it). Nick goes to Narcotics Anonymous, has been healing his relationships with family, and is struggling with writer’s block. He lives in New York City.

Nick likes to order sandwiches from a deli that delivers. The same woman always delivers his sandwiches. Eventually she introduces herself and invites herself in. Her name is Shyla, and she is from a small village in India. Shyla is studying education with plans to return to India to be a teacher. Shyla asks Nick to help her write a book of her own and as they work on it they fall in love.

Shyla promises Nick that her book has a happy ending. Nick finds this hard to believe, since her story is about the practice of female gendercide as well as spousal abuse and rape (obviously, HUGE trigger warnings for rape, spousal abuse, child abuse, and sexism). As they work together on her book, they also watch movies and she reads both his spy thrillers and his much more personal first novel. This leads to talk about culture, the meaning and purpose of fiction, and gender and race representation.

Shyla’s story forms a book within the book. It’s about a baby in rural India who is abandoned by her biological parents due to her gender and adopted by a woman who has recently lost her only child. This woman, Nalini, names the baby Asha and raises her with the support of a local nun and teacher named Sarah. Sarah insists on Asha continuing her education well into adulthood. However, Asha is frustrated when she marries an abusive man whose mother is also abusive to Asha. Asha wonders the point of all this education is if she never gets to use it.

Even though the book Shyla is writing is full of trauma, and Nick is dealing with the consequences of his addiction, Shyla and Nick are very playful together. Their playfulness lightens the tone, rounds out their characters, and is just generally a kick to read. It also establishes that despite Nick’s original assumption about Shyla, she is comfortable and confident in her sexuality and not opposed to pre-marital sex. Nick makes many assumptions about Shyla and it’s satisfying to see her overthrow them one after another.

Shyla is an interesting character and I would have enjoyed learning more about the family and friends she works with and lives with in New York. She has a strong sense of self that I admired, and she also has the ability to be flexible in her understanding of the world around her without losing the core sense of who she is. For example, she explains that earlier in her life she would have been shocked at the idea that two women could be in a committed relationship and raise a child, but after living for some time in New York she accepts the idea that there are many configurations of family (Nick’s sister and sister-in-law have an adopted daughter). She has a wicked sense of humor that endeared her to me entirely. On the other hand, towards the end of the book she makes a couple of comments that drove me up the wall, including one about women needing to be ladylike. If she had made that comment at the beginning of the book instead of near the end I doubt I would have stuck with it.

Nick is a more bland character. He’s used to telling people what to do. His inability to comprehend things like the racism in Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom frustrated me. I felt that he tended to infantilize Shyla, assuming that she would be naïve and shy when actually she’s seen much more of the world than he has. Their relationship levels out eventually.

This book is basically a billionaire romance, with Shyla as a Cinderella who finds a rich prince. Nick isn’t a billionaire, but he is very wealthy, and he loves and is generous with beautiful things and good food. Meanwhile, Shyla is hardworking and, while not desperately impoverished, limited in her financial resources. The cross-cultural and feminist elements deepen the story and there’s a bit of thriller intrigue at the end involving a twist that frankly I did not entirely buy. There is a happy ending to both Asha’s story and Shyla’s story but readers should be warned that Asha goes through absolute (graphically described) hell before she gets to the happy ending that Shyla promises. The writing can be a bit stilted and the characters aren’t equally balanced, but the sensitive handling of difficult material and the balance of tragedy and humor bring the book up to a B+.

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Posted by SB Sarah

This is something of an all-in-one episode. Ready?

We begin with one last recommendation request for Amanda and me, and then we squee! Amanda and I both read a book we loved, and want to tell all of you about it. We go on at length, too, so be ready. It’s got magic and mystery and a terrific heroine.

But because I know so many of you immediately grab the next book when you begin a new series, I wanted to include a little information about book 2, which I DNFd after a scene that really irritated me.

THEN, I have an email from an anonymous listener who wanted to share some information based on episode 257, where we discussed BDSM and chronic pain. This is some fascinating stuff, so stay tuned for that.

Listen to the podcast →
Read the transcript →

Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

Our anonymous listener mentioned shibari rope bondage techniques, and you can learn more online.

The episode our anonymous listener was responding to was episode 257: Bitches Assemble: Our Favorite Recommendations and the Expectations of Tentacles. 

If you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us on Stitcher, too. We also have a cool page for the podcast on iTunes.

Thanks to our sponsors:

More ways to sponsor:

Sponsor us through Patreon! (What is Patreon?)

What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.

Thanks for listening!

This Episode's Music

Our music is provided by Sassy Outwater.

This is “Fishing at Orbost,” by the Peatbog Fairies, from their album Dust.

You can find all things Peatbog at their website, or at Amazon or iTunes.


Podcast Sponsor

organization Academy lighthouse logoThis episode is brought to you by Organization Academy.

Organization Academy the home of my online courses on using Google Calendar to declutter your schedule and organize your life. I did a series on SBTB about how I use Google Calendar to automate and manage every aspect of my day, including home, family, business, other business, freelance writing, podcasting, meal planning, and more.

Over the past year, I have developed a step by step instructional program outlining the method I use for meal planning, and I am about to launch my first online course, Menu Planning Mastery. It’s all about saving time, energy, and money by harnessing the power of Google Calendar to manage your meal planning.

If you feel overwhelmed sometimes by the question “What’s for dinner?” when you don’t know the answer, this course is for you. This method can save you time and reduce stress.

And what can you do with all that time? Read more books! While you eat good food! I love this plan.

If you would like more information, you can sign up for my newsletter at OrganizationAcademy.com, and you’ll be the first to know when the course opens. You’ll also receive weekly tips on organizing using Google Calendar every Friday.

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"Let's" in Chinese

Oct. 20th, 2017 04:08 am
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Posted by Victor Mair

Advertisement recently spotted by Guy Freeman in the Central, Hong Kong MTR (subway) station:

It's a mixture of Chinese and English, of simplified and traditional characters.  In this post, I will focus on the calligraphically written slogan on the right side of the poster:

Hǎinèi cún 'zhī'jǐ, let's zhīfùbǎo

海内存「支」己,let's支付宝

This slogan is not easy to translate.  Consequently, before attempting to do so, I will explain some of the more elusive aspects of these two clauses / lines.

First of all, the zhī 支 inside single Chinese quotation marks in the first clause has more than two dozen different meanings, including "support, sustain, raise, bear, put up, prop up, draw money, pay, pay money, disburse, check / cheque, defray, protrude, put off, put somebody off, send away, branch, stick, offshoot, twelve earthly branches, a surname, division, subdivision, auxiliary verb, measure word for troops".  For the moment, I'll refrain from attempting to translate it in the present context.

In the second clause, zhī 支 is part of the disyllabic word zhīfù 支付 ("pay [money]; defray"), which, in turn, is part of the trademark Zhīfùbǎo 支付宝 ("Alipay", China's clone of PayPal).  Being the name of a company, Zhīfùbǎo 支付宝 ("Alipay") is a noun.  However, since it here follows "let's" to form a first person plural command, it is acting as a verb:  "let's Zhīfùbǎo 支付宝" ("let's Alipay").

When we realize that the first clause is a literary allusion, it gets even trickier.  The first clause is perfectly homophonous with and echoes the first line of this couplet by the Tang poet, Wang Bo 王勃 (650-676):

hǎinèi cún zhījǐ, tiānyá ruò bǐlín

海内存知己, 天涯若比邻

"When you have a close friend in the world, the far ends of heaven are like next door."

Thus 'zhī'jǐ「支」己 (lit., "pay self") is a pun for zhījǐ 知己 ("bosom / close / intimate friend; confidant[e]; soulmate", lit., "know-self").

I would translate the whole couplet this way:

"You have a bosom friend (pay pal) everywhere, let's Alipay"

Guy notes that the ad "is from Alipay, a subsidiary of Alibaba, a very large Internet company from China. This shows the occasional outbursts from Chinese officials about defeating English to be useless at best."

Last question:  why did they use the English word "let's" instead of the equivalent Mandarin, "ràng wǒmen 让我们" or "ràng wǒmen yīqǐ 让我们一起"?  But that's three or five syllables instead of one, so it sounds clumsy and clunky instead of neat and crisp the way an ad should be.

If they wanted to avoid the English "let's" and use only Chinese, they could have written something like this:

yīqǐ Zhīfùbǎo 一起支付宝 ("together Alipay")

To tell the truth, in terms of rhythm, idiomaticity, and catchiness, that actually sounds better than "let's Zhīfùbǎo 支付宝 ('let's Alipay')" when paired with "Hǎinèi cún 'zhī'jǐ 海内存「支」己" ("You have a bosom friend [pay pal] everywhere").

Bottom line:  they wanted to sound international, since Alipay has global aspirations.

There have been many earlier posts on multiscriptalism and multilingualism involving numerous languages and scripts.  Here are some that specifically feature Chinese:

This is not an exhaustive list.

[Thanks to Fangyi Cheng, Yixue Yang, and Jinyi Cai]

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Posted by Victor Mair

In the comments to "Easy versus exact" (10/14/17), a discussion of the term "Hànzi 汉子" emerged as a subtheme.  Since it quickly grew too large and complex to fit comfortably within the framework of the o.p., I decided to write this new post focusing on "Hàn 汉 / 漢" and some of the many collocations into which it enters.

To situate Language Log readers with some basic terms they likely already know, we may begin with Hànyǔ 汉语 ("Sinitic", lit., "Han language"), Hànyǔ Pīnyīn 汉语拼音 ("Sinitic spelling"), and Hànzì 汉字 ("Sinograph, Sinogram", i.e., "Chinese character").  All of these terms incorporate, as their initial element, the morpheme "Hàn 汉 / 漢".  Where does it come from, and what does it mean?

"Hàn 汉 / 漢" is the name of a river that has its source in the mountains of the southwest part of the province of Shaanxi.  It is the longest tributary of the Yangtze River, which it joins at the great city of Wuhan.  The fact that Han is a river name is reflected in the water semantophore on the left side of the character that is used to write it.

The name of the river was adopted by Liu Bang (256-195 BC), the founding emperor, as the designation for his dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) — more specifically, the dynasty was named after Liu Bang's fiefdom Hànzhōng 汉中 / 漢中 (lit. "middle of the Han River").  After the Qin (221-206 BC), from which the name "China" most likely derives, the Han was the second imperial dynasty in Chinese history.  Because the fame of the Han Dynasty resounded far and near, it came to be applied to the main ethnic group of China, as well as the language they spoke and the characters used to write it.  Note that there could have been no Han ethnicity or nation before the Han Dynasty.

After the Han Dynasty fell, many of the dynasties that ruled in the northern part of the former empire during the following centuries were non-Sinitic peoples (proto-Mongols, proto-Turks, etc.) who actually looked down upon their Han subjects.  During that period, in their mouths, "Hàn 汉 / 漢" became a derogatory term, especially in collocations such as Hàn'er 汉儿 and Hànzi 汉子, which we might think of as meaning something like "Han boy / fellow / guy".  Such terms derived from "Hànrén 汉人 (漢人)" ("Han people"), which generally became a respectable designation again after the collapse of the northern dynasties.  It is remarkable, however, that during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), when the Mongols ruled over China, non-Sinitic peoples such as the Khitans, Koreans, and Jurchens were referred to as "Hànrén 汉人 (漢人)" ("Han people").

Here are some terms in Mandarin that are based on the Han ethnonym but refer to different types of people in various ways:

hànzi 汉子    39,300,000 ghits

1. man; fellow

2. husband

3. Historically, as mentioned above, during the Northern Dynasties (386-577), hànzi 汉子 was a derogatory reference for Sinitic persons used by non-Sinitic peoples (who were rulers in the north at that time).

nánzǐhàn 男子汉 ("a real man")    11,600,000 ghits

nǚ hànzi 女汉子 ("tough girl")    7,180,000 ghits

dà nánzǐhàn 大男子汉 ("a big guy; macho man")    53,100 ghits

Comments by native speaker informants:

1.
In terms of nǚ hànzi 女汉子, I think your translation "tough girl" sounds good! But sometimes it conveys a slight derogation to women with traits which are conventionally attributed to men, such as strong physical strength, independent mode of life, and tough personality, etc. In this sense, I would like to say "nǚ hànzi 女汉子" might also be "a masculine woman / female".

2.
I know all these terms and I agree with all your translations. However, I also think that nǚ hànzi 女汉子could mean "tomboy" (girls who can do things that men can do). I once saw a translation of nǚ hànzi 女汉子as wo-man. I think that’s interesting too.

3.
I think the term nǚ hànzi 女汉子 emerged only in the last few years in the Chinese-speaking world. So it is a bit difficult for someone like me who has been living outside for the last forty years to accurately tell its exact meaning. If it applies to young women only, then "tomboy" may not be too far off.

See also:

"What does the Chinese word '女漢子' mean?" (Quara)

"Renewal of the race / nation" (6/24/17)

Joshua A. Fogel, "New Thoughts on an Old Controversy: Shina as a Toponym for China", Sino-Platonic Papers, 229 (August, 2012), 1-25 (free pdf)

Victor H. Mair, "The Classification of Sinitic Languages: What Is 'Chinese'?, in Breaking Down the Barriers:  interdisciplinary studies in Chinese linguistics and beyond (Festschrift for Alain Peyraube), pp. 735-754 (free pdf), esp. pp. 739-741.

[Thanks to Yixue Yang, Jinyi Cai, Sanping Chen, and Jing Wen]

Manga the Week of 10/25/17

Oct. 19th, 2017 10:14 pm
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Posted by Sean Gaffney

SEAN: Honestly, thanks to Kodansha’s digital push, there are not even any medium weeks anymore. Every week is huge. Forever! Good news for manga fans, bad news for budgets.

ASH: So true!

SEAN: Dark Horse has the 3rd Hatsune Miku:Rin-chan Now!, theoretically: the title’s been bumped 3 weeks in a row.

ASH: That’s not nearly as timely as the title might suggest.

SEAN: J-Novel Club has a great deal out next week. We get the third volume of If It’s For My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord, which remains heartwarming and family-oriented… FOR NOW. (ominous thunder)

The polarizing light novel In Another World With My Smartphone just finished a polarizing anime just in time for Vol. 5. I’m hoping it stays laid-back and ridiculous.

And we’re almost done with My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World with the penultimate book, Vol. 6.

As you can guess, there’s a lot of Kodansha. Princess Resurrection has its 19th volume, on the Del Rey rescue front.

On the print front, we see a 3rd Aho-Girl, a 7th Heroic Legend of Arslan, a 3rd Land of the Lustrous (now with an anime), a 2nd Love & Lies, and a 2nd Toppu GP, for all your motocross needs.

MICHELLE: In real life, I’ve no interest in motocross, but Kate’s review convinced me I would probably enjoy Toppu GP. I’ll check it out soon, hopefully.

ANNA: It does sound interesting!

ASH: I need to catch up on so many of these!

SEAN: The print “debut” is Fairy Tail S, which collects some of the special “omake” chapters that have been released over the course of the series. Expect a lot of fanservice, meaning both nudity *and* ‘shout outs to fans”.

On the digital front, first off, Cosplay Animal 2 apparently came out already, though is not at all major online places. Next week, we have the 5th Altair: A Record of Battles, the 2nd Grand Blue Dreaming, the 4th Kounodori: Dr. Stork, the 5th Real Girl,, the 2nd Shojo Fight!, and the 4th Tsuredure Children.

MICHELLE: Yay for more Shojo Fight! Not that I’ve been able to read the first one yet…

ANNA: So behind, I bought the first couple volumes of Altair but haven’t read it yet. Maybe too much digital????

SEAN: There will also be a horror manga being debuted by Kodansha, but we don’t know what it is yet. Be prepared!

ASH: Always prepared for more horror manga.

SEAN: One Peace has everyone’s favorite girl and bear manga, Kuma Miko. This is the 6th volume.

Seven Seas has a plethora of titles as well. There’s a 2nd Alice & Zoroku, the third volume of Hatsune Miku spinoff Bad End Night, the 6th Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (always #1 on lists of “where is the light novel this was adapted from?), and a 4th Please Tell Me, Galko-chan!. That’s… quite a variety of genres there.

Their debut is Yokai Rental Shop (Yokai Nii-san), whose description makes it sound like xxxHOLIC with a gender-reversed Yuko. It runs in Square Enix’s GFantasy, and I think is that rare Seven Seas title that Michelle and Melinda will want to check out.

MICHELLE: Interesting! I had been curious about the creator’s other licensed series, Nightmare Inspector, but never read any of it.

ASH: I’m very excited for this one; I really liked Nightmare Inspector!

MELINDA: Oooooooh, honestly I’ll check out anything from GFantasy. Okay, Seven Seas, you have intrigued me!

SEAN: The title that interests me the most this week is from Vertical Comics, who are debuting a manga series written by NISIOISIN. Imperfect Girl (Shoujo Fujuubun). Like a lot of Nisio titles, it has a supernatural bent, a twisted female lead, and lots of talking. The artist will also be familiar to North American readers for the series Sankarea. This series ran for 3 volumes in Young Magazine, so should be nice and compact.

ANNA: I’m cautiously intrigued.

ASH: I’m also rather curious about this one.

SEAN: Lastly, Viz has some digital-only titles as well, with the 3rd élDLIVE and the 2nd The Emperor and I.

Any of this interest you? Or are you saving up for MANGAGEDDON the week after next?

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Posted by Marci Cottingham

Human research subjects are all over popular media. Lab rats, guinea pigs, and even the obscure “Pharmer’s daughter” (From The Facility, 2012) all refer to people who participate in biomedical research as test subjects—often ingesting experimental drugs to test their toxicity or therapeutic effectiveness.

The clinical trial industry has decried the representations of human subjects in the media for being fantastical and overly dramatic. The concern is that portraying human subjects in a negative light hurts their ability to recruit participants, test experimental products, and profit from approved drugs.

But how are human research subjects actually portrayed?

In two new publications, my co-author Jill Fisher and I look at how human subjects are represented in popular entertainment media. We analyzed 65 television shows and films like Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Grey’s Anatomy, The Facility and The Amazing Spiderman.

We find that human research subjects are predominately white men from lower socio-economic backgrounds. When women are represented, they are more likely to be shown being coerced into research (rather than enrolling for therapeutic or financial reasons).

2 Broke Girls is actually an outlier in this regard. In this show, Max and Caroline were not coerced but financially motivated to participate in clinical trials—or as Max likes to call it: “getting paid $500 to roll the side effect dice and hope it lands on hallucinations! [audience laughter]”

Indeed, films and shows did use fantastical and dramatic representations of side effects—from discussions of men growing breasts, limb regrowth, and fits of rage and violence—and death and injury were common. Most of these medical studies failed—and failed in spectacularly horrific or comedic ways.

While negative, this portrayal is not necessarily wrong or bad:

Importantly, negative outcomes of fictional medical research are not the same as negative depictions of science… There are real risks to research participants who enroll in medical studies as well as high rates of scientific failure (Fisher and Cottingham 2017:575–76).

While industry representatives may dislike portrayals for their inaccuracies, the fact that many clinical trials do fail and have serious potential to harm subjects cannot be absolved by painting subjects as “medical heroes” as some have tried (Peddicord 2012).

What do human subjects think of these portrayals?

We took the study further by looking at how human research subjects themselves use film and television to understand clinical trials. Surprisingly, the discussion of dramatic side effects were common among their responses. As one participant noted: 

Like I never heard of this [clinical trials], and ‘They do what?!’ You know, you gonna grow an extra eye, you gonna grow, you-you know, you hear all these things, you know. – Rob

And yet, after they had participated in a clinical trial and saw that the more common side effects listed in the informed consent documents included dizziness, headaches, nausea, and fatigue, they became less concerned about the risks of clinical trials. Rather than scaring these participants away, representations in the media seemed to make the mundane and ordinary list of potential side effects (even cardiac issues!) appear even more acceptable.

We frame media portrayals and participant perspectives on the risks of clinical trials as collective and individual efforts to manage the anxieties surrounding the risks of experimental biomedical research. As a society, we have come to accept the fact that experimental research requires risking human welfare and comfort, but remain ambivalent about the idea that science is inherently good and linked to social progress.

Collectively, we manage this ambivalence by dehumanizing research subjects or indulging in tales of science gone wrong. At the individual level, research participants use media portrayals of “lab rats” and “guinea pigs” to manage the fears and anxieties of the research they undergo. No one has grown a third arm, had their penis shrink, or turned blue in a Phase I clinical trial, so it must not be too harmful…right?

Read More Here:

Cottingham, Marci D. and Jill A. Fisher. Forthcoming. “From Fantasy to Reality: Managing Biomedical Risk Emotions in and through Fictional Media.” Health, Risk & Society 1–17.

Fisher, Jill A. and Marci D. Cottingham. 2017. “This Isn’t Going to End Well: Fictional Representations of Medical Research in Television and Film.” Public Understanding of Science 26(5):564–78.

Peddicord, Doug. 2012. “Television’s Assault on Medical Research.Huffington Post.

Marci Cottingham is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on the sociology of emotion, social inequalities, healthcare, and biomedical risk. More on her research (including the two papers discussed here) can be found on her website.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

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Posted by Amanda

An Untamed State

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay is $1.99! This is a highly recommended piece of contemporary fiction. It’s harrowing and emotional as it chronicles a woman’s kidnapping, rescue, and recovery. This is Gay’s debut novel and there are definitely some trigger warnings for this book. For those who have read it, what did you think?

Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic audience. In An Untamed State, she delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.

Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.

An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed Stateestablishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

A Rogue to Avoid

A Rogue to Avoid by Bianca Blythe is 99c at Amazon! This is a historical romance where a misunderstanding leads to marriage. Talk about awkward. Readers really seemed to enjoy the interaction between the hero and heroine. However, others found some things to be a bit unbelievable or inconsistent. It has a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads. This is the second book in a series and the first one is also on sale!

A Scottish scoundrel…
Gerard Highgate, Marquess of Rockport and the ton’s most aloof rake, knows better than to wed an Englishwoman, especially one as prickly as Lady Cordelia. But when his mother dies and he finds himself saddled with her debts, he needs a wife and he needs one fast.

An exacting Englishwoman…
Lady Cordelia knows that hastiness in husband hunting leads to mistakes. But when she visits an aristocrat to warn that his life might be in danger, he misinterprets her suggestion to flee to Scotland.

An unexpected elopement…
Most elopements are born of love, not misunderstanding. Cordelia and Gerard have already broken that rule, but perhaps they can still make their marriage one of love.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

amazon

 

 

 

Stud

Stud by Jamie K. Schmidt is 99c! This sounds like a pretty fun contemporary and I already have it on my Kindle. Some readers found the writing a bit choppy at times, while others really loved the heroine’s strong personality. This is also a standalone romance.

Large. Hot. With a pump of sexual tension. 

When the barista next door teams up with a slick ad executive in this sweet standalone novel from USA Today bestselling author Jamie K. Schmidt, they both get a taste of unexpected love.

Terri Cooke wishes she could give Mick Wentworth a piece of her mind. The infuriating stud muffin walks into her coffee shop every morning expecting his regular order at 8:57 on the dot, without ever acknowledging Terri’s presence—except for staring at her cleavage. And yet she can’t deny that Mick Wentworth has an animal magnetism that’s stronger and richer than any espresso . . . which explains why Terri says yes when he suddenly, inexplicably asks her out.

After the morning coffee run, Mick’s day is all downhill from there. His family’s marketing firm is dysfunctional in more ways than one, so to save the business, Mick desperately needs to impress their newest client. When he learns that Terri’s a fan of their trendy product, he tries to get inside her head. It doesn’t hurt that she’s the barista he’s been lusting after for the past five months. But as things heat up with Terri, Mick finds that a little steam is just the jolt he needs to turn his whole life around.

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One Bite Per Night

One Bite Per Night by Brooklyn Ann is 99c! This is a historical paranormal romance with a vampire hero who takes the heroine on as his ward. Readers seemed divided on the main characters. Many liked the hero, but found the heroine to be rather exhausting at times.

He wanted her off his hands…
Vincent Tremayne, the reclusive “Devil Earl,” has been manipulated into taking rambunctious Lydia Price as his ward. As Lord Vampire of Cornwall, Vincent has better things to do than bring out an unruly debutante.

Now he’ll do anything to hold on forever
American-born Lydia Price doesn’t care for the stuffy strictures of the ton, and is unimpressed with her foppish suitors. She dreams of studying with the talented but scandalous British portrait painter, Sir Thomas Lawrence. But just when it seems her dreams will come true, Lydia is plunged into Vincent’s dark world and finds herself caught between the life she’s known and a future she never could have imagined.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

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Episode 1563: Journey to the West

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:05 am
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Episode 1563: Journey to the West

Keybounce writes:

This GM is such a scenery porn person. Look at all that descriptive text. Doesn't even let his players get more than a line or two.

Still, it's a very lovely description. Feels almost like you can actually see it. :-)

— Keybounce

aurilee writes:

That is one nice shot.

I'm torn between Cassian being snarky, or just... well, just continuing to be rather useless.

Here's hoping Cassian finds something to pilot soon.

— aurilee

Transcript

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Posted by Mark Liberman

Rick Rubenstein has nominated this sentence (from Oliver Roeder, "The Supreme Court Is Allergic To Math", FiveThirtyEight 10/17/2017) for the prestigious Trent Reznor Prize for Tricky Embedding:

Justice Neil Gorsuch balked at the multifaceted empirical approach that the Democratic team bringing the suit is proposing be used to calculate when partisan gerrymandering has gone too far, comparing the metric to a secret recipe.

Rick notes that "This passage from 538 took me several readings".

Courtesy of treebanking expert Beatrice Santorini, here's the constituent-structure tree:

Her comment:

The Penn Treebank style would omit the function tags -SBJ for subject and -OB1 for direct object, deducing the functions from the syntactic context.  Current annotation versions may also explicitly indicate compound nouns, which the structure below doesn’t.  The subjunctive on “be” isn’t explicitly indicated.

Chihayafuru, Vol. 4

Oct. 19th, 2017 07:55 am
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Posted by Sean Gaffney

By Yuki Suetsugu. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Be Love. Released in North America digitally by Kodansha Comics. Translated by Ko Ransom.

The sign of a good series is that you care about the characters as if they were real people, and take joy in their triumphs and grieve at their setbacks. This can sometimes backfire, however, when you see the setbacks coming and think to yourself “Oh noooooo!”. The moment I saw Chihaya’s head throb, I knew immediately what was going to happen by the end of the volume, and it hurt. This is why this review is running somewhat late, because I really did not want to read what I knew was going to happen. It comes after a half volume of small triumphs and achievements, as they quality for the National Tournament, win over their faculty adviser, and slowly come together as a team, each character getting a little bit more to do and more for us to identify with. Then I saw that throbbing head. And I said “…she’s sick.” And yep. SO FRUSTRATING.

Arata gets the cover this time around, and fortunately also gets a chunk of the narrative, as we get to see the strong relationship he had with his grandfather from his POV, helping to explain why he was so devastated he abandoned Karuta. It’s portrayed very realistically: his grandfather is a vibrant, active guy who loves Karuta, but then he has a stroke, which brings memory loss and rehabilitation. And of course, this being a manga and thus obliged to observe the occasional cliche, he goes to the tournament and leaves his grandfather alone for a few hours. We all know how that’s going to turn out. It really helps bring Arata into focus and remind us that he is eventually going to be a major player in this series again, and I imagine seeing Chihaya and company here will act as a catalyst.

As for Chihaya, she does her best, and tries hard to hide her illness form everyone, but in the end they have to forfeit after she collapses. Naturally, after waking back up, she’s completely devastated, and I suspect Vol. 5 is going to have a lot of depression and self-hatred. We’ve been seeing a lot of sports titles over here lately, and usually when there’s something like this it’s a physical injury, such as a sprained ankle or somesuch. Of course, they usually deal with physical sports such as basketball or volleyball. When you have something like Karuta, which is a lot more physical than I expected but still played seated and relying primarily on memorization and strategy, a fever or nasty cold can be just as bad as that sprained ankle. It’s to the credit of the team that they kept playing after she had to forfeit, but I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll pick up after the tournament and deal with the fallout.

Chihayafuru remains one of the best digital titles Kodansha is releasing at the moment, and I hope my review of Vol. 5 (already out) will come sooner rather than later.

The Rec League: Mary Stewart

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

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

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

Here are some Stewart recs from that particular comment thread.

No, the Other Anne:

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

Vicki:

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

PamG:

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

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

A Spoonful of Magic by Irene Radford

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

DNF

A Spoonful of Magic

by Irene Radford
November 7, 2017 · DAW
RomanceContemporary Romance

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

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

First, a few points.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Huh.

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

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

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

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

Daffy calls him on his bullshit:

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

And here is G’s sensitive, thoughtful reply:

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

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

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

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

Are you SERIOUS?!

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

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

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

I just strained every one of my ocular muscles.

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

(Yeesh.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spoiler and Trigger Warning: Rape

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

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

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

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

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

But he doesn’t.

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

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

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

Then I completely lost my shit.

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

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

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

“It’s not always like that, Daffy.”

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

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

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

Aaaand that would be where I stopped reading.

Because are you KIDDING ME? 

Seriously.

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

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

I don’t know, and I don’t care.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Show Spoiler

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

Good going, Daffy. Way to toss him out.

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

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Posted by Amanda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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