Two Reviews Tuesday

During May, Ace Book Club featured Rachel Sharp’s books and since it’s the last day in May I thought I’d bring you my review of the series so far!

This book is one of the realist apocalypse books I might ever have the pleasure of reading. It was at times refreshing, charming in it’s humor, and scary as a reader who is realizing along with Mab that we aren’t so ready for the end of the world. It was both encouraging to see a person react realistically to the world going to suck, and unnerving (because that shit is hard.) I also feel like I should re-did just so I can highlight all my favorite jokes, but will be checking out the sequels when they come out!

★★★★★ |  Amazon  |  Goodreads

 

The sequel is  so realistic downloaded a survival app. I wouldn’t say Rachel writes the most realistic characters in the sense that you view them the same as you would your living friends, more so like an artist who makes such a realistic painting that the only word that captures both the true to life and work of art qualities is “masterpiece”. I’d definitely buy this book and maybe a wilderness guide.  Even better than the first.

★★★★★ | Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

Love and Sex in Literature

A guest post by amazing Cait Spivey

I learned sexual desire from books and film.

At least, what it looked like. What it sounded like. How it is discussed. With that accumulated evidence, I got very good at acting out “desire,” even though it was at best boring and at worst, deeply uncomfortable.

When I came out, there was a lot of, “But you seemed interested in sex before!” As always, it’s difficult to explain, to those who don’t feel displaced by it, the pressure of constant messaging that seems to declare this is how normal people are, you are messed up, something is wrong with you. I learned and demonstrated sexual desire because I thought I had to, because it was expected, because it was bad enough that I kept falling in love with girls but at least I knew what that was.

I learned desire from books; I never learned that desire isn’t mandatory.

This is something I want to rectify in my books. In From Under the Mountain, it must be said, there’s not explicit representation—I was limited by both the setting (in which our modern terminology feels jarring) and by the pace and focus of the story. Only Eva and Guerline have time for a romantic relationship, and not much of it at that. But you can take me at my word when I say that canonically, Theodor Warren is panromantic asexual, and Aradia Kavanagh is aromantic asexual, and Guerline herself is a demisexual lesbian (something that gets explored more in the sequel).

[As an aside: last week, I tweeted a bit about how I love writing large casts, and I encourage readers to explore for themselves and fill in things I don’t put on the page. Some secondary and tertiary characters have canon attached to them that I may never get to share—for many, I haven’t had a chance yet to fully explore their lives. So many stories live in this world, and if you know them, by all means tell them.]

In most of the media I’ve consumed, sex scenes just seem like set dressing. Perhaps this is the point where my ability to empathize with allosexual people ends, but I’ve never seen a sex scene that feels powerful or necessary to the story, because sweaty bodies getting fluids on each other isn’t meaningful to me. It seems to me that what’s meaningful is all the emotions leading up to and following that—affection, vulnerability, passion—and one doesn’t need to bump uglies to get the most out of that cocktail. And even if that’s something one wants in real life, it’s not going to aid the storytelling (unless, as in certain genres, that’s the kind of story being told).

“But Cait,” you say, “You included a sex scene in From Under the Mountain!” Yes I did. But I’m the first to say it’s not necessary. I wrote it in because there was some hang time in the narrative, and I wanted to give Eva and Guerline their moment. And, as an asexual woman married to a sexual spouse, it was more than a little vicarious—what must it feel like from the other side? Surely it’s transcendent—surely it’s not just a sometimes pleasant sensation, akin to curling up in front of a fireplace? I’ll have to rely on others to confirm the level of my success.

It’s honestly funny to me how resistant some can be to writing asexual characters or, in fandom, theorizing that a character could be asexual. I get that desire must be powerful to those who experience it; I can understand that many view sex as some kind of Important Rite without which love is just really intense friendship, or something. I mean, they’re wrong about that last part, but I understand how they came to that conclusion.

But in these stories, the sex isn’t what makes us love these characters—right? It’s the characters themselves, and the relationships between characters that draw us in. Romantic relationships, friendships, family bonds. Sexual desire, contrary to popular belief, is not inherent to romantic love, and romantic love is not the only compelling kind of relationship.

There are many, many books, films, shows, out there that present love without sex, but the sex is always assumed—by fans, by creators, by a society that presupposes the universal importance of desire. My question is, why? Kisses, sex, they’re actions that, like all our actions, have only as much weight as our emotions give them. I’m as happy as anyone when my favorite ship finally kisses for the first time, but the kiss isn’t the only thing that can make me happy. I want Dean to kiss Cas because I know Dean is a sexual person, but I felt the same giddy rush when he said I need you.

I struggled to find a way to end this post, because one should at least try to put forth a solution when bringing up a problem. The problem is that the heavy focus on sexual desire in relationships erases a lot of people. It makes us doubt ourselves, it makes us submit ourselves to what is expected, it threatens us with these expectations.

How, then, to solve this?

I’ve decided to start a new feature on my blog called A+ Ships, to highlight ace characters and their relationships, gush over the connections and the moments that fuel them. With any luck, this will give us a space to celebrate our identities, and spread the word about how awesome we are.

Happy Book-Day to From Under The Mountain

Oh boy, do I have a lot to tell you. I think this tweet sums it up however.

tweets

 

 

 

 

 

That’s right,  I started a book club. Do I know how to run a book club? Who knows.  I mean yes! Over 300 people have offically signed up and I send out what feels like 100 review copies. ‘Well, that’s nice, but what is Ace Book Club,” someone asks.

It’s a club where books we read either have an asexual spectrum author or have canon asexual characters within them. (Sometimes both) We will focus mostly on new-ish releases and indie authors. You don’t have to be ace yourself to read or join. If you’d like to join the club is everywhere: Tumblr | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

FUTM Cover

I picked From Under The Mountain because it came out on my birthday! That seemed like a pretty serendipitous way to kick off the book club! Plus I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the author both a bit personally and professionally so I’m excited to collectively check out this book with you.

Cait Spivey is a speculative fiction writer, author of high fantasy From Under the Mountain and the horror novella series, “The Web“. Her enduring love of fantasy started young, thanks to authors like Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Diane Duane, Tamora Pierce, and many more. Now, she explores the rules and ramifications of magic in her own works—and as a panromantic asexual, she’s committed to queering her favorite genres.

Darkly cinematic, From Under the Mountain pairs the sweeping landscape of epic fantasy with the personal journey of finding one’s voice in the world, posing the question: how do you define evil, when everything society tells you is a lie?

Where To Grab a Copy: Amazon | Reuts Publications | Goodreads