Showing posts with label julia ember. Show all posts
Showing posts with label julia ember. Show all posts

Thursday, May 4, 2017

If You Loved That, You'll Love This - F/F Edition with Julia Ember + GIVEAWAY Win The Seafarer's Kiss + $25

I’ve seen a few Twitter threads over the last few days asking for f/f YA in certain genres. I also hear from straight readers who are new to LGBTQ lit, that they’re not sure which books would be the best gateway for them. I love recommending books and hooking readers up with a book that will speak to them, whether the book is mine or not. 

In this post, I’m going to cover f/f YA that has been released in the last couple of years, paired with heterosexual or m/m YA books that I also enjoyed. Most of these books are #ownvoices representation. 



IF YOU LOVED: ARTEMIS FOWL by Eoin Colfer
YOU'LL LOVE: NOT YOUR SIDEKICK by C.B. Lee

Why? I read Artemis Fowl when I was 12, and it still holds a place in my heart. It’s witty, fast-paced, laugh out loud funny, with a teen villain as the main character. NOT YOUR SIDEKICK is on the MG end of the YA spectrum, so I think it’s a perfect step up for readers who loved ARTEMIS. Like ARTEMIS FOWL, NOT YOUR SIDEKICK has an endearingly funny protagonist, who is trying to carve out a place for herself. Although Jess isn’t a villain, she does come into contact with a whole host of them. When I first read NOT YOUR SIDEKICK last year, I described it as queer Despicable Me meets ARTEMIS FOWL. I still believe that to be true. If you want an adorable, clean YA story about heroes and villains, that will make you laugh, this book is for you. Goodreads | Amazon


IF YOU LOVED: THE ASSASSIN'S HEART by Sarah Ahiers
YOU'LL LOVE: ASSASSINS: DISCORD by Erica Cameron

Why? Okay, I am embarrassingly obsessed with assassin novels. If it’s a YA book published in the last five years, and it features a female assassin, there’s a good chance that I’ve read it and loved it. I had a lot of options for comparison titles for this book. As far as I know, ASSASSINS: DISCORD is the only f/f assassins book out there. 

I chose ASSASSIN'S HEART as the comparison for several reasons. The first, is that both books feature crime families locked in epic rivalries. There’s a little bit of a murderous Romeo and Juliet feel to both novels. The other reason, is as much as I love some of the other assassins books out there, many of them are ‘problematic favs’ of mine that I know feature some terrible representation. I can’t use those books in post with a clear conscience. ASSASSIN'S HEART was a great book that I did not find to be problematic. I can recommend both of these books without reservations. Goodreads | Amazon


IF YOU LOVED: THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi
YOU'LL LOVE: OF FIRE AND STARS by Audrey Coulthurst

Why? Both of these books are lyrically written, diverse, sweeping fantasies that centre the romance as a prominent part of the plot. I loved Roshani Chokshi’s world-building. It was rich and textured. The romance she developed between Maya and Amar was also swoon-worthy. I felt the same way about OF FIRE AND STARS. The writing in this book was truly beautiful. The world felt sumptuous, decadent and full. The romance progressed slowly and tenderly. If you want a true fantasy romance, this one is for you. Goodreads | Amazon


IF YOU LOVED: ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
YOU'LL LOVE: GRRRLS ON THE SIDE by Carrie Pack

Why? GRRRLS ON THE SIDE has a very distinctly late 80s/early 90s feel to it. It focuses on the Riot Grrrl feminist movement in the early 90s that spurred on a lot of feminist developments. The reason I liken it to ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE is first for the era, but also the focus of the story for both main characters is on coming to understand themselves. Both novels have a strong narrative voice, slow burn queer romances, and focus on self-discovery. Grrrls on the Side will be released in June 2017. Goodreads | Amazon


IF YOU LOVED: ALANNA: THE FIRST ADVENTURE by Tamora Pierce or CROWN DUEL by Sherwood Smith
YOU'LL LOVE: MARIAN by Ella Lyons

Why? MARIAN has a very classic, adventure fantasy feel. Like both ALANNA and CROWN DUEL, it centres a badass female character who learns to defy the gender norms in her society. It’s written in a similar, fast-paced 3rd person style, and the story is very plot-driven. There also isn’t a heavy focus on magic or mythical creatures. The romance in the story is on-page, and there is enough content to fuel the shippers, but romance is not the focus of this story. We’re here for Marian's story and her development. It is also the start of a series. Goodreads | Amazon



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Julia Ember is a polyamorous, bisexual writer and native of Chicago who now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Seafarer’s Kiss is her second novel and was influenced by her postgraduate work in medieval literature at The University of St. Andrews. Her first novel, Unicorn Tracks was published by Harmony Ink Press.
Website | Twitter | Facebook

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THE SEAFARER’S KISS, out on May 4th 2017 with Interlude Press

"Having long wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, ninet
een-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the merfolk’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: Say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from the divine Loki. But such deals are never straightforward, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies."
Interlude | Amazon | B&N

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What's a f/f version of a popular m/f book you enjoyed and would recommend?




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Saturday, February 11, 2017

[Review] The Seafarers Kiss - Julia Ember: Bisexuality and Mermaids

In THE SEAFARER'S KISS, mermaid Ersel falls in love with shieldmaiden Ragna and causes lots of trouble back home at the ice castle.

What intrigued me: I absolutely loved her debut UNICORN TRACKS.

Action-filled intricate world

I knew I'd love THE SEAFARER'S KISS after about five pages. Just like with her fantastic debut UNICORN TRACKS, Ember writes fast-paced and action-oriented - just what I like.

It's absolutely amazing how Ember painted this intricate world with its own customs and little sayings - THE SEAFARER'S KISS doesn't read like paranormal romance or mythology - it truly reads like a contemporary set in a mermaid kingdom. And you guys, this is the best.

I absolutely fell in love with the characters. Especially Ersel's best friend and now king's guard Havamal - the swoon is real. Even though this isn't really a book with a love triangle, I found myself rooting a bit for him and Ersel. You'll ship everyone while reading this book, that's the beauty of everyone being bisexual! The characters are all just so lovely, you'll find yourself wishing that they'd all just get along. It might also be relevant to your interests to know that Loki is genderfluid with they/them pronouns in this and that there is an amputee. The marginalized identities representation is fabulously refreshing and fun to read about. 

The Little Mermaid gone dark


THE SEAFARER'S KISS is a roller coaster of emotions. The first half of the book presents you with super cute contemporary romance fluff and all the feels, and towards the end it gets so dark that you'll find yourself wanting to turn the lights on. The two halves that THE SEAFARER'S KISS is divided into are without a doubt my favorite thing about this book - it manages to flawlessly combine a cute bisexual romance with an exciting fantasy adventure.

Filled with plot twists, THE SEAFARER'S KISS explores the moral shades of gray between good and evil while being an absolute page-turner. Ember managed to get me with every single twist. I saw none of them coming and am thoroughly impressed with the way she magnificently managed to make this The Little Mermaid retelling absolutely 100% her own.

THE SEAFARER'S KISS stuns with intricately developed character relationships, a fantastic world, and an action-filled plot that'll probably tempt you to binge-read this in one sitting.


5/22/17 Note:
Rating suspended until the book is revised.

There are discussions about the representation in this going on right now, specifically related to the trans rep. I know it's in the process of being changed, and up until then I'll leave the rating blank. Should the revision still show issues, I'll change the review, but right now I don't feel like I'm an authority on the rep, so I won't comment on it.

Read this review for more info on the issues.


Rating:

pending

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE SEAFARER'S KISS is the bisexual Norse Little Mermaid retelling you've been waiting for. Trust me, you want this. I think I have a very strong contender for new favorite LGBT+ writer. Julia Ember's one to watch.

See note above.


Additional Info

Published: May 4th 2017
Pages: 230
Publisher: Duet Books
Genre: YA / Mythology / Norse Mythology
ISBN: 9781945053207

Synopsis:
"Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies."
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite mermaid book?

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

10 New-To-Me Authors Whose Books I Loved in 2016 feat. Melissa Landers, Sylvain Neuvel & more | Top Ten Tuesday




All of these people write fantastic books and contributed to making 2016 a *great* reading year for me. Looking forward to all their new releases.




Louise Gornall
She absolutely slayed me with her fantastic and beautiful debut UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES. A must-read for anyone who has an invisible illness.

Julia Ember
She forever won my heart through UNICORN TRACKS. The first fantasy novel set in an African setting that felt authentic to me and that I wholeheartedly loved. Also it features lesbians. She's got a couple more queer books coming in 2017 and I can't wait!

Meg Haston
I've absolutely loved PAPERWEIGHT. So much that I actually read it *twice* this year. Such a raw and beautiful and courageous story about a girl with an eating disorder. A must-read if you can handle dark contempories. I can't wait for her next release in 2017, counting the days!




Moïra Fowley-Doyle 
My god, this woman is an artist. Her writing is insanely beautiful. Her magical realism debut THE ACCIDENT SEASON really convinced me to keep reading her books because of her writing style. She's got something involving witches coming in 2017 and I've already put my spyglasses on, I'm waiting.

Melissa Landers
I really liked ALIENATED and will probably read STARFLIGHT soon. I'm a sucker for YA aliens, this was just a matter of time until we two cross paths. She totally snagged the YA alien throne from JLA for me. But psst. 

April Genevieve Tucholke
It's been months and I'm still not over the brilliance that is WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT. I love her writing style and ideas so much.



Zoraida Córdova
Y'all know how much I love LABYRINTH LOST, considering that I can't stop talking about it. I'm dying to get my hands on the sequels, we all need more bisexual Latina witches in our lives

Sarah Crossan
ONE and APPLE & RAIN both absolutely shattered me emotionally. I plan on reading a lot more books by her, she's just such an extradordinary feel for her characters. My new contemporary queen and a worthy addition to my list of favorite authors!

Sylvain Neuvel
SLEEPING GIANTS was the cause of the biggest reading slump I've had. I think, ever. This book absolutely killed me, I'm writing this from the afterlife. I need book two. Like, yesterday.




Claudia Gray
Of course we cannot forget the author of my favorite book series in the entire world. A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU was all I talked about mid-2016 and will probably forever be a favorite. I just love a good parellel universe novel.


Which authors slayed you with their brilliance in 2016?

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

[Review] Unicorn Tracks - Julia Ember: Safari, Conspiracies, and Hunting




In UNICORN TRACKS Mnemba and tourist Kara are determined to find out who is hunting down unicorns and sawing off their horns.

What intrigued me: Unicorns and lesbians. Everything I want in life.

Fresh, creative, and fun

The world building is reminiscent of South East African culture, and absolutely spot on. I really enjoyed seeing concepts and setting we don't usually get in fantasy novels and I found them to be very realistic as well. I especially noticed how uncanny Ember's unique approach is - I can't name a single stereotype that I've seen before, this is truly a 100% fresh read with a great concept. From the descriptions, to the writing, to the animals featured, this is so refreshing and new! 

The Nazwimbe savanna is full of mythological animals that tourists from other countries are seeking out for fun. They are all incorporated believably, some with their own little backstories, some without, and I really enjoyed it. I feared that the concept of unicorns would come across as little dorky and strange, but Ember makes it truly feel like an adventurous, fun story. I absolutely loved reading about manticores, phoenixes, and many other mythological creatures you don't often encounter in novels. 

Too Short & too Dense, but worth the read!

The majority of UNICORN TRACKS deals with what's happening to the unicorns, and I do think that it all got resolved way too quickly. While I do like the approach, the idea behind all of it (which is also a very realistic one), the mystery is just missing. Or simply resolved too early. I wanted to guess with the characters, but you won't do that for long because UNICORN TRACKS is written incredibly densely. 

A lot happens in these 180 pages, but in my opinion, squeezing all of it down to this low page count doesn't do the story justice. Especially the lovely f/f romance which is so sweet and tender, could have benefited from a higher page count. Even though Mnemba and Kara's interactions feel genuine and painstakingly adorable, their relationship almost feels instant-love-y because UNICORN TRACKS is so short. 

In general this is my biggest problem with the novel - the density and the low page count make it harder to read than it deserves. The story is great, the characters are great, but it deserves to be longer, have more descriptions added, and even the occasional filler. 


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

UNICORN TRACKS is an incredibly fresh story, with a seldom before seen setting that you don't want to miss. A must-read for fans of f/f and original fantasy.



Additional Info

Published: April 21st 2016
Pages: 180
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781634768788

Synopsis:
"After a savage attack drives her from her home, sixteen-year-old Mnemba finds a place in her cousin Tumelo’s successful safari business, where she quickly excels as a guide. Surrounding herself with nature and the mystical animals inhabiting the savannah not only allows Mnemba’s tracking skills to shine, it helps her to hide from the terrible memories that haunt her.

Mnemba is employed to guide Mr. Harving and his daughter, Kara, through the wilderness as they study unicorns. The young women are drawn to each other, despite that fact that Kara is betrothed. During their research, they discover a conspiracy by a group of poachers to capture the Unicorns and exploit their supernatural strength to build a railway. Together, they must find a way to protect the creatures Kara adores while resisting the love they know they can never indulge. "
(Source: Goodreads)

Can you recommend some African-inspired fantasy?

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