Weekly Rant: On Queer Progress

Look, queers, we need to have a talk. When Taylor Swift's new music video dropped, I only heard about it tangentially at first, mostly because I'm not a huge fan of her pop music (I know, I know, I'm a monster). However, then I watched it, and I found myself caught up in its utopian … Continue reading Weekly Rant: On Queer Progress

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Book Review: All Politics is Local: Why Progressives Must Fight for the States (by Meaghan Winter)

My thanks to NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book for review. It's an unfortunate truth that the last few years have seen a hollowing out of Democratic power. From state houses to the nation's Congress to the Presidency, the forces of the right have been shockingly and distressingly successful at grabbing the … Continue reading Book Review: All Politics is Local: Why Progressives Must Fight for the States (by Meaghan Winter)

Book Review: Siege: Trump Under Fire (by Michael Wolff)

Let me be upfront by saying that I had distinctly mixed feelings about Michael Wolff's last book, Fire and Fury. While it was, admittedly, tremendously entertaining and dreadfully (one might even say sinfully) readable, I ultimately felt that I had not really learned anything. It was mostly just a rehash of existing information, with a … Continue reading Book Review: Siege: Trump Under Fire (by Michael Wolff)

Reading History: “How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States (by Daniel Immerwahr)

It's become commonplace in certain circles--particularly the academy--to point out that, throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries America has practiced a form of imperialism, exporting its ideas and way of life throughout the globe, often at the point of a sword (or, more accurately, the barrel of a gun). There is, of course, a great … Continue reading Reading History: “How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States (by Daniel Immerwahr)

Fantasy Classics: Kushiel’s Dart (by Jacqueline Carey)

Darcy and Winters

Continuing on with my reviews of classics of fantasy literature, I’m turning my attention to the Kushiel series of books by Jacqueline Carey. The books, which were published throughout the 2000s and 2010s, have a (well-earned) reputation for managing to really do something new and exciting within the genre of epic fantasy. Combining elements of historical fiction, epic fantasy, and erotica, the series of books explores various issues related to politics, power, and desire.

Young woman Phédre is marked by a red mote in her eye known as Kushiel’s Dart, a sign that she is blessed (or cursed) to feel pain as pleasure. Sold into a form of indentured servitude by her impoverished parents, she eventually enters the sevice of the noble Delaunay, she quickly becomes adept in the art of politics and the bedchamber. Betrayed by the clever and cruel noblewoman Melisande, Phedre finds herself among the barbarian Skaldi…

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Book Review: “The Fall of Shannara: The Stiehl Assassin” (by Terry Brooks)

Darcy and Winters

Note: Some plot spoilers like ahead!

When it comes to the giants of fantasy, Terry Brooks is right up there with the greats. His book The Sword of Shannara, as well as the sprawling series that it spawned, helped nudge fantasy into the realm of financially viable genre rather than an idle curiosity. Now, 40-odd years later, we are coming to the chronological end of the Shannara saga, and the Four Lands stand on the precipice of catastrophe. The Skaar have invaded and are engaged in a tense standoff with the powerful Federation. However, new Ard Rhys Drisker Arc has a plan to (hopefully) avert the all-out war that seems inevitable, but to see it to completion he must enlist the aid of the Kaynin siblings, the boy Shea Ohmsford, the warrior Dar Leah, and the Elven prince Brecon Elessedil. Even then, his efforts might yet be thwarted by the…

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Book Review: “A Brightness Long Ago” (by Guy Gavriel Kay)

Another review from my alter-ego.

Darcy and Winters

I’ve been a big fan of Guy Gavriel Kay’s for a long time now. He has such a command of language, and his books always manage to pierce the heart with their beauty and their engagement with the deeper, philosophical questions.

A Brightness Long Ago, set in the same world as several of his other books (The Lions of Al-Rassan, The Last Light of the Sun, Sailing for Sarantium and Lord of Emperors, Children of Earth and Sky), is a true gem, a pleasure to read from beginning to end. It is, in many ways, a prequel to 2016’s Children of Earth and Sky, and some of the characters make repeat appearances.

It is set in Batiara, a country splintered into dozens of squabbling city-states, most of which employ large groups of mercenaries to conduct proxy wars with one another. Into this nest of vipers fall several characters, two…

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Reading History: “Anne of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait” (by Alison Weir)

When it comes to the wives of Henry VIII, a few stand out in the popular consciousness: Anne Boleyn (obviously), Katherine of Aragon, perhaps Jane Seymour. Then maybe Catherine Howard and Katherine Parr. Rarely, I suspect, do many people give much of a thought to Anne of Cleves, Henry's fourth wife whom, it was said, … Continue reading Reading History: “Anne of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait” (by Alison Weir)