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.
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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.
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Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to episode number 269 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. I am Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. With me today is Amanda, also of Smart Bitches, and this is part three of reader recommendations or, as I have been calling it, RecReq: recommendation requests from lots of cool people.
This is something of an all-in-one episode; there’s a lot going on. Are you ready? I’m going to tell you all the things. First, we have one last recommendation request for Amanda and me, and then we squee. We squee for, like, twenty minutes about a book that we both loved, and we are dying to tell you about it. We go on at length, too. It’s got magic and mystery, and it’s a terrific heroine, and we just, we really, really enjoyed this book. It was exactly what we needed.
But then! But then, 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 two, which I did not finish because of a scene that really bothered me, so if you want to stop after book one, that’s cool. If you want to keep going and tell me I’m wrong, also cool, but I want to make sure that, you know, you know why I didn’t continue with the series, and it’s not just ‘cause I’m slack and terrible about series.
Then! Then, part three: I have an email from an anonymous listener who wanted to share some information based on episode 257, when we discussed BDSM and chronic pain, and this is some fascinating stuff, so stay tuned for that.
Now, if you have been enjoying our recommendation request series here and you would like to email us a suggestion or you would like to email and request for yourself to get some book recommendations, this is kind of how we roll on a thing we love to do, so here are your options: you can email me at email@example.com, or you can record a voice memo and then email it to me, and I promise you you will sound great. If you would actually like me to tell you why you think you sound weird when you hear your own voice, I can tell you about this, ‘cause I’ve studied this at length and I edit my own voice every week, but I can promise you, if you record a voice memo and tell me what you want to read, you’re going to sound awesome. Or you can leave a voicemail at 1-201-371-3272. Either way, I would love to hear from you, because you guys are really awesome!
Now, this podcast right here, this episode that you are listening to, is brought to you by Organization Academy. What is that? I will tell you! It is the home of my online courses about using Google Calendar to declutter your schedule and organize your life. For the past year I have been developing a step-by-step instructional program outlining the method I use for meal planning, and I am going to launch my first online course – so excited! – “Menu Planning Mastery.” If you ever feel overwhelmed by the question, the daily question, “What’s for dinner?” when you don’t know the answer, then this course is going to be perfect for you. I will you how to magically harness the power of Google Calendar to manage your meal planning and then save you time and energy and money, so you’ll know what’s for dinner, you’ll have more time, and then you’ll have a little bit more money to buy books. What could possibly be better than that, right? If you’d like more information, please sign up for our newsletter at organizationacademy.com. You’ll also receive weekly tips on using Google Calendar to organize yourself, and those come out every Friday. And you’ll be the first to know when the course registration opens. You can find out more at organizationacademy.com. And sorry to my British, Australian, and, and Kiwi listeners and all of you who use all the extra Us in your English? That’s Organization with a, with a Z or a zed, but there’s a zed – Z? – zed in there. I’m going to now go out and get an endorsement from Zed Zed Top about my course, because now I really like saying zed. All right? Okay, good.
Now, would you like to sponsor a transcript? You totally can, and it is super easy! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or if that’s not going to stick in your memory, Sarah, with an H, at smartbitchestrashybooks.com [Sarah@smartbitchestrashybooks.com]. Either way, email me, and I can give you all the details. You get mentioned right here in this space. Your book, or whatever you’re talking about, is part of the podcast entry show notes and part of the podcast transcript entry announcement; so when I post the transcript, there’s a separate entry. And, and, and you’re helping make each show accessible to everyone, including people who don’t like to or cannot listen to things, so it’s like a win/win/win/win – there’s a lot of win. Whole lot of win! So much win! That’s why you should sponsor a transcript, so fee free to email me about it.
I have compliments, and I’m super excited about them.
First, to Holly G.: Your laugh makes everyone in earshot feel 19.5% better because you find joy and humor in so many things, so don’t stop.
And to Yara N.: You are the personification in human form of perfect lattes, perfect croissants, and perfect afternoons outside enjoying both.
And if you’re thinking, I would like a compliment! I invite you most humbly to have a look at our podcast Patreon at patreon.com/SmartBitches. Monthly pledges support the show, and every time I get an email that there is a new one, I am blown away. So thank you very much for all of your support and for listening! And for reviewing and telling people about the podcast.
And now, it’s time for recommendation requests. Let’s do this!
Sarah: All right, and now we get to squee about a book. Are you ready?
Amanda: Yes, I’m so ready!
Sarah: Okay, let’s, let’s squee at the end, ‘cause we have some other recommendations –
Sarah: – for Alyssa. Alyssa! First, Alyssa says:
First, I have to tell you I love the podcast.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
It keeps me sane as I spend hours in the car, so thank you. I’m hoping you can help me find another urban fantasy series.
Amanda: Yes, we can.
Sarah: We are so here for you; you have no idea, we’re so excited to talk about this. Alyssa, you and Amanda need to meet and hang out and talk about books.
Amanda: Yeah, tweet at me!
I am all caught –
Yeah, oh, yeah. She’s @_ImAnAdult.
Sarah: All right. So let’s see, Alyssa says:
I am all caught up on Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series and the newer Hidden Legacy series –
Both of which are really good.
– and I loved Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires and J. C. Daniel Colbana Files, but I have no more to read in those series. Help me, Bitchery; you’re my only hope.
Sarah: And then in our Notes file – we have a little Google Doc that we, like, combine all of our recommendations in – Amanda wrote in all caps, HELLO, YOU ARE MY PERSON! [Laughs]
Amanda: My person!
Sarah: Okay, I have to tell you to read Patricia Briggs. That’s my biggest recommendation, except for the book we’re going to squee about. Patricia Briggs’ series, both of them, the Alpha and Omega series and the Mercy Thompson series, are both great. Actually, the Mercy Thompson series is being talked about a lot this week because we have a Rec League going on about competence porn, and Mercy is a mechanic and she’s very competent. There is –
Amanda: Awesome! We featured, the first book is on sale, and we featured it, I don’t know, this week. I don’t know when this is going to come out, but hopefully it’s still on sale!
Sarah: Probably in a couple of weeks. Hopefully it’s, hopefully it’s still on sale.
Amanda: Moon Called is the first book.
Sarah: So Moon Called is the first one, and then the Alpha and Omega series has a much more overt romance storyline, especially in the first novella and the first book, but with Patricia Briggs I have to warn you, there is some assault, sexual assault, and violence in the story, because there’s, it’s a pretty violent world, but I feel like that’s sort of a given in a lot of urban fantasy worlds, that you’re just going to encounter violence. That’s something that you’re, you expect –
Sarah: – as a reader, I’m guessing? I haven’t heard of very many cozy urban fantasy series.
Amanda: Yeah, I mean, and if Alyssa’s read Hidden Legacy, that can get pretty intense.
Sarah: Oh, yeah. Good Lord, did that get, that got messy. So read Patricia Briggs; they’re amazing. And then you had asked about the Jordanna Max Brodsky series –
Sarah: – with mythology. Yes, that book had so many titles, I have to look up what the actual title was.
Amanda: Like, The Immortals?
Sarah: Yes. There’s Olympus Bound. The Immortals was the first one, and in that book, all of the ancient gods are real, but they’re still on earth, and they’re a lot weaker because no one worships them anymore. So Artemis is a woman named Selene, and she is isolated from her remaining family, and she doesn’t get involved with people, and then, of course, she has to get involved with a person because things happen. Someone is murdering people in a way that is giving her back her power, so they’re, someone is murdering young women in a way that creates more – [phone rings] – ancient power for Selene.
So, of course my phone is ringing – [rings] – and I don’t care who this is, so I’m going to make it stop. I just had to make sure it’s not my kids’ school, like they fell or are in trouble or are sick or threw up or something. I’m telling you, when you have children, like, all of a sudden the phone ringing is like, oh, shit. It’s, like, super annoying.
Anyway, so The Immortals, and then the second one is Winter of the Gods, and, yes, you would probably like those a lot, though the romance is very understated.
Okay, bring on your recommendations, and then behold the squee.
Amanda: All right! So The Others series by Anne Bishop: so good. Huge trigger warning for self harm.
Sarah: So good!
Amanda: HUGE trigger warning! Because the heroine is a blood prophet, I think is what the –
Sarah: Yeah, she’s a, she’s a, I think in the book it’s called cassandra sangue?
Amanda: Something like that, yeah.
Sarah: She’s a, yeah, she’s a, she’s a blood prophet; she has to cut herself.
Amanda: Yeah, so when she bleeds she gets visions and can help people and that sort of thing. But she escapes this facility where she’s being kept. People pay for her visions, and she’s, like, the best one there is, but she escapes and finds solace in this sort of, I don’t know what you want to call it, like, this town of supernatural beings. There’re some romance tones in there. There’s not, like, an ov-, an overt romance in the first couple books, but the character who’s supposed to be the hero is a werewolf who runs a bookstore, so.
Sarah: He’s one of my favorite characters, too.
Amanda: He’s so sweet!
Sarah: And you know, the thing I loved about – I, I couldn’t read these, these, this is – bleah, bllllp – all the words come to the front of my brain at the same time. The thing about this series is that this is not a book where I could read them one after the other after the other –
Amanda: They’re heavy.
Sarah: – because they can be really – they’re very heavy, and they can be very emotionally intense. I wanted more of the heroine just in the post office.
Amanda: Oh, my God. So, I love organizing things. My mom would take me to her work as a bookkeeper, and I would just file all day long and alphabetize things, and having her come into the mail room and set everything right and create a system – I would read a whole book about that. It was amazing.
Amanda: I loved it.
Sarah: The best part is the relationship that she has – the part for me, anyway – was the relationship that she has with the, the vampire –
Amanda: The vampire grandpa?
Sarah: – grandpa! Who gets VHS tapes.
Amanda: [Laughs] I love it so! Everyone else is scared of him, but she isn’t, and she, like, gives him, you know, little gifts and brings him his mail.
Sarah: Dude, I’ve got your tapes! Can I come to the door? I’ve got your VHSs; do you mind if I bring ‘em by? And he’s like, come to the door, and everyone’s like, oh, shit, oh, shit! Oh, things are fine! [Laughs]
Amanda: It’s so great.
Sarah: And those moments really lighten up what otherwise is a very heavy, increasingly dark world in those books.
Amanda: She has all these great and varying relationships with all of the inhabitants of the little town. There are –
Amanda: – mail-delivering, magical, elemental ponies.
Sarah: Well, of course there are, derr! Why would not there be?
Amanda: I like it. I like the huge cast of characters. If you’ve read Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires, you might have tried her other urban fantasy series? The first book is called The Sight; the series, I believe, is Devil’s Isle. I reviewed the first one for the site. It’s kind of set in a magical New Orleans after this kind of war between the humans and these magical beings, and magic is forbidden, and the heroine runs a general store where people can get, like, rations and, and stuff like that, and she does have magical abilities, but she’s trying to keep them hidden because she wants to carry on her father’s legacy of running this store and, and that sort of thing. I enjoyed it. So, but you might have read it already.
Then there’s Borrowed Souls by Chelsea Mueller? This one I thought was really cool ‘cause it was such an original premise in that people can borrow souls to do shitty things, so if you don’t want your soul tainted by sin you can rent a soul for a period of time, kind of sin without consequence, and in this urban fantasy – I love the cover, too, by the way – the heroine, her brother’s in some crappy hot water, and she kind of has to get him out of it, so she has to rent a soul because she knows some shitty things are going to go down. So I really liked that one, ‘cause I thought it was very original and exciting, and it does, like, a really good job of setting, I don’t know, this tone for the book. It’s kind of gritty – I don’t know. It’s hard to describe, but I enjoyed it.
Amanda: And then the very last one –
Sarah: Duh-duh-duh-duh – I don’t have a drum roll; I need a drum roll.
Amanda: Just play the train sound again. [Laughs]
Sarah: Oh, that’s really long. How ‘bout this? [ice clinking sound effect]
Amanda: That’ll do!
Sarah: That’s the Amanda signature sound.
Amanda: Sarah and I both read this book in the last couple weeks. It took me longer.
Sarah: Yep! Yep, I was nagging you to read it –
Amanda: I know. [Laughs]
Sarah: – ‘cause you weren’t reading it, and I was like, have you read it? Have you read it? Have you – she’s like, no, I have to do my job.
Sarah: You know, this website? And I’m like, no, you, no! No!
Amanda: Posts can wait for –
Amanda: – a couple days. Finish the book!
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah, the site can go dark for a day while you read. Read.
Amanda: It was, like, a ninety-nine-cent self-pub purchase. It’s called Slouch Witch by Helen Harp.
Sarah: By Helen Harper.
Amanda: It’s so good!
Sarah: Like, we both so enjoyed this book. Like, I, I was so pissed that you hadn’t read it because, like, when you start talking about all of the things that work in this series, you just, you just start blabbering!
Amanda: It’s so good! The heroine is a lazy witch.
Sarah: It is book one – yes! The book one is called The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Magic, is the name of the series. It’s so great!
Amanda: There are talking cats in the book.
Sarah: That’s, that is so –
Sarah: Okay. All right, so here’s the setup of this book: Ivy Wilde is a witch. She lives in Oxford, and when you meet her, she’s driving a taxi. There is an academy of witches, or the Order, and she was in it, but she got kicked out. She lives in an apartment, she drives a cab, her whole day is, I’m going to finish driving my cab, and then I’m going to go home and I’m going to sit on TV, sit on the couch, I’m going to watch TV and eat – I think it’s salt and vinegar potato chips.
Amanda: And she watches, like, this magic soap opera called Enchantment.
Sarah: Yes, and she’s, like, hardcore into the soap, and she, for her it’s like, you remember what, when you, like, didn’t miss Days?
Amanda: I would watch General Hospital like a madwoman.
Sarah: Right? And you, you know, you’d only have to tune in for, like, three days to get back with the story.
Amanda: Yeah, to get caught up about, like, whose twin came back, and who is in a coma, and that sort of thing.
Sarah: And who’s dead and not in a coma, but not really dead, ‘cause you didn’t see the body –
Sarah: – and the actor’s still under contract. So she, her whole day is drive the taxi, make enough to pay rent, go home, eat junk food, hang out with her talking cat, who’s kind of an asshole because he’s a cat, and then get up and do it the next day. She ends up with this guy in her cab who tries to rob him, or tries, he tries to rob her –
Sarah: – and she very easily overpowers him but has to keep what she can do very hidden. Someone in her apartment is a member of the Order of the –
Amanda: Eve, I think, was her neighbor’s name.
Sarah: Yeah, her name is Eve, and she’s, like, super into running and really healthy and really enthusiastic and loves the Order and loves being a witch and loves, you know, going through all of the, the Order educational levels, and then the Order has, like, different departments that are in charge of different things, and she’s, like, super into the structure of the Order.
Sarah: She gets sent by the Order to some remote location to do some random thing, and she’s very excited because this means that they trust her, even though she’s a first- or second-year person in the Order, and she asks Ivy to look after her familiar, her cat.
Sarah: Ivy goes up there and – Harold, of course.
Sarah: So she goes over to her, her neighbor’s apartment after she leaves, and someone knocks on the door and grabs her wrists and binds her magically to this guy named Raphael Winter – but he always goes by his full title, which is Adeptus Exemptus Raphael Winter.
Amanda: You better not forget it.
Sarah: Yeah, he’s very into his status; he’s super into himself. They bind him to her, thinking that she is Eve, but she’s not, and the binding is so strong she can’t really get out of it, but the reason it’s so strong is ‘cause he sucks at working with people.
Amanda: And they’re afraid that he’s going to, like, skip out on working with a partner if they don’t magically bind him to said person.
Sarah: So they bind the wrong person, they totally screw up, and now she is stuck with this binding to this guy. She doesn’t want the Order’s attention. It’s not because she’s doing something wrong; it’s that they kicked her out, and she’s really not interested in, in having them, like, give her a hard time.
Sarah: And Rafael Winter, Adeptus Exemptus Rafael Winter, doesn’t want to work with her either. So you have this binding that keeps them together; it’s forced proximity. They start to feel physical effects if one of them is not saying something that they want to say or keeping a secret, and they’re, they start to feel physical –
Amanda: ‘Cause they’re supposed to be working as a team, so if they’re not working as a team, like –
Amanda: – they’ll start to get itchy or something like that.
Sarah: Now, my older son is now discovering the joy of group work in school –
Amanda: Oh, no.
Sarah: – and he hates it. He hates it. He didn’t get an A in a class last year because the last assignment was a group project, and he did as much as he possibly could, and the other people did nothing, so he ended up with a B, and he was so pissed. There’s a, there was a joke going around on Tumblr that, at your funeral you’re going to have all the members of your group project lower you into the ground so they can let you down one last time.
Sarah: And so I was telling him about how these characters are bond, bound together, bonded by magic, they have to work together on a group project, and he’s like, oh, my God, no! No! [Laughs] Which is pretty much their reaction. They don’t like each other. Ivy doesn’t want to get off the couch, and –
Amanda: He, like, wants her to go to the gym, and she uses, like, a magical spell to make it seem like she’s doing work, but she made the weights super light. [Laughs]
Sarah: Yep! And, and she’s going to take the easy way because, really, effort is a bother.
Sarah: Why bother? The best thing about this, I think, for me, was that it’s a very much opposites attract and opposites are stuck together, but because of the bond, they can’t separate. They’re forced to be together, and they’re forced to be honest with each other. They can’t keep secrets or keep things to themselves. If they have something to say and they choose not to say it, the other person will suffer because of the magic binding, and so they are forced into being honest with each other, and neither of them is super comfortable with that, but it’s not like honest about painful, deep, awful, angsty things. It’s like, well, actually, I think that guy’s a lying sack of shit –
Amanda: [Laughs] I think she said, like, never trust a guy –
Sarah: – and now I have to say that out loud.
Amanda: – who wears rubber shoes.
Sarah: Yes! She is very funny.
Amanda: She’s great.
Sarah: So, what did you like about it? Aside from just everything?
Amanda: Well, I liked Ivy a lot. Like, I think we talked about it: in urban fantasy, there are a lot of strong, kickass heroines who are powerful and, you know, can do all this awesome magic or wield a sword or, or that sort of thing, so it was kind of refreshing to see a heroine who’s like, yeah, I can do all this stuff, but I just, I don’t want to! Like – [laughs] – it’s like, I don’t want to do any of this! I’d rather be home! Like, this is exhausting for me! And there’s one scene where her former friend and she run into each other at the Order campus, and –
Sarah: Yeah, it’s like a, it’s like an extra university in Oxford.
Amanda: Yeah, and the friend, like, kind of challenges her to, like a, like a grudge match sort of thing out of fun or whatever, and this was the moment where she could kind of obliterate her ex-friend and show her what’s what and that, you know, just because she was kicked out of the Order doesn’t mean anything, but instead, she’s like, I have shit to do. I don’t have time to show you up in front of all these people and then have all these people want to then try to show me up in return. I have stuff do so I can get home, eat, and watch my stories. So she throws the fight and was like, oh, you know, I’m just not that good, and you were right.
Sarah: And I’m out of practice because obviously I’m not practicing magic outside the Order.
Sarah: I would never do that! Nah, it’s ridiculous!
Amanda: And she’s not even mean to her ex-friend at all! She’s –
Sarah: Nope, and her ex-friend did some shitty things to her.
Sarah: Like, minor league shitty things, not, like, horrible shitty things, but she’s like, yeah, it’s whatever. It was a couple years ago, and I have better things to do –
Sarah: – than nurse a grudge. I also loved that in the story, she has relationships with different women, like Eve and her former friend, that she doesn’t particularly have a lot in common with, but they’re not the enemy –
Sarah: – just ‘cause they’re other women in the story.
Sarah: You know, she’s not –
Amanda: And she still feels bad for Eve, too, because the binding was supposed to be for Eve, and she feels bad that, like –
Amanda: – Eve might lose her shot at moving up, you know, in the Order.
Sarah: Yeah, the, yes, because Ivy was in the wrong place at the wrong time, Eve might lose her promotion, and that’s not okay, and she wants to protect Eve’s status without screwing up Eve’s progress by then associating Eve with Ivy, because Ivy’s reputation inside the Order is not that great.
Sarah: And there’s also a number of really idiot, incompetent, powerful men who one by one get what’s coming to them, and it is so fucking satisfying, because it’s –
Amanda: The whole, we talked about, like, the villain concept, which, there’s like this mystery, and I didn’t –
Amanda: – guess who, like, the bad, the baddie was in the, the story, but we liked it because the bad person, or persons, wasn’t just, like, one-dimensionally evil, who was out for, like, world domination or wanted –
Sarah: I’m stealing the power to use the power to take over the world!
Amanda: Like, the reasoning –
Sarah: Like, that kind of makes you an obvious target, Nimrod.
Amanda: Yeah, the reasoning for the shit that happens is totally relatable and is a feeling that we have all felt.
Amanda: It’s great.
Sarah: And it’s not just this – [laughs] – you, you called the, the idea the one-dimensional –
Sarah: – power-hungry douche? It’s not that; it’s, it’s, it’s a reason that is so relatable, and it is a position that you, you have probably been in before.
Sarah: I also really, really liked the fact that part of what’s happening is the tension between this is the way we do things and this is the way we’ve always done things, and doing them different is not good, because this is the way we’ve always done things and this is how we do things, and we don’t deviate from that because this is the way we’ve always done things. It’s like this self-perpetuating cycle of order, which is part of why it’s called the Order. The full name, by the way, I just looked up on Goodreads: it’s the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
[CORRECTION (Thank you Garlic Knitter!) The author’s website gives it as the Hallowed Order of Magical Enlightenment – and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is a real organization. Apologies!]
Amanda: I think she mentioned it once. She’s like –
Sarah: Oh, my God!
Amanda: – I’m just going to call it the Order. [Laughs]
Sarah: Right? And, and Ivy’s whole attitude is please get over yourself; this is stupid. And the thing about Ivy is that she’s extremely powerful, and she, she knows it, but she’s also self-taught, so she’s managed to do all of these things that you’re not supposed to be able to do, and she’s hiding them just because dealing with the Order would be a hassle, and she’s not interested.
Amanda: And I also like that because she’s self-taught, she’s never really been that exposed to, like, this crippling pressure about, like, the magical bars that people keep trying to, like, set for themselves. She does this thing, and she doesn’t know, really, how unique or powerful it is, because she just, like taught it to herself out of, you know, convenience. Like, there’s this one spell where, where she does, like, this rune because she’s lazy and got tired of trying to dig her keys out of her purse, and it’s not a known –
Amanda: – spell, and Winter’s like, do you know how difficult it is to make up your own rune for your own, like, to create a spell that doesn’t really exist? She’s like, what are you talking about?
Sarah: And she’s like, I’ve, I’ve done, like, nine, ‘cause I didn’t want to dig my keys out of my bag and I wanted the potato chips to move closer without me having to move.
Amanda: [Laughs] So all of this, like, powerful stuff that she does has been completely out of laziness.
Sarah: Yes! Laziness and necessity. And she’s also so aware of herself as both a person with a lot of power and a person with not a lot of power.
Amanda: I, I liked that – so obviously, going into it, Winter thinks that Ivy, you know, doesn’t know anything, and she’s underestimated by her partner, but –
Sarah: He takes her at face value. He’s like, okay, you are a lazy taxi driver with no real visible ambition – and that’s the other thing: everyone in the Order is super ambitious, and Ivy’s like, whatever, get over yourself – and Winter does not understand her lack of ambition and her, her lack of interest in doing things, so, go ahead, tell, say the rest of what you were going to say.
Amanda: But I like, I like that they kind of slowly come to an understanding that they, they have different approaches –
Amanda: – in how to do things. Like, Winter is very thorough and kind of by-the-book, and meanwhile, Ivy is a bit more of a loose cannon and, you know, frequently likes to take the easy way out, ‘cause sometimes the easy way is the best way, and sometimes Winter’s approach will get things done more quickly, or sometimes Ivy’s approach becomes better. Like when they’re interrogating people, Winter is very analytical.
Sarah: This is the list of questions that we ask, yeah.
Amanda: Yeah, he’s – while Ivy, because she’s a taxi driver, is used to dealing with strangers and sometimes getting them to open up, and so she’s able to pull out these responses from people because she knows how to deal with people more than Winter does.
Sarah: Yes. And she picks up on clues, because as the – and it, her, her role as a taxi driver reflects her position as a witch in a lot of ways: she’s the one who’s in control of the car, but she’s also vulnerable because she has her back to the passenger. She’s the person who is driving, she’s actually taking people where they’re supposed to go and taking them on the, the best route for both of them, but she is also vulnerable because she has to make sure that the ride is not super, super unpleasant, and she has to make sure that she’s going to get a tip by engaging just the right amount with whoever’s sitting behind her. And the same thing is true for her as, as a witch: she’s the one who has an incredible amount of power, and she knows it, but she has to use it just enough to get by without having to deal with the unpleasant oversight and the involvement of the Order in her life, which she does not want. And being told what to do and how to do it.
Amanda: In short, everyone should read it.
Sarah: Oh, it’s so enjoyable, and one of the things that surprised me was that, you know, for a ninety-nine cent book, I was like, okay, I’ll give this a try. Witchcraft, I’m good; I, I’m on the record as, you know, all about reading more witch books. That’s totally great! I was so happy reading this book. I so enjoyed it, and I bought the next one. I haven’t allowed myself to read it yet, ‘cause I have to get through some things that are on my review queue, but I totally want to read the next one. I hope it’s just as good as this one, ‘cause I, I, I liked it so much. I also loved that the whole thing that got her kicked out of the Order was, like –
Amanda: She didn’t even try to, like –
Sarah: – oh, whatever.
Amanda: – fight the reason. She’s like, all right, okay. [Laughs] If you’re, like, this quick to, to judge me on what I’ve done, then maybe this isn’t the place for me.
Sarah: And his whole reaction was, well, of course I looked it up; I’m an investigator, duh.
Amanda: So it wasn’t, yeah, it wasn’t, like –
Sarah: You think I don’t know?
Amanda: – this big huge secret that was drawn out the entire – yeah –
Sarah: That was going to change how he felt about her –
Amanda: – drawn out the entire book.
Sarah: – and then secrets were going to be revealed!
Amanda: It was really good. I think the next one, she, like, goes undercover on the set of Enchantment, the show that she’s obsessed with? I think that’s the setup for the next one.
Sarah: Yes. She ends up dealing with the soap operas, and the, there’s one new book per month right now. There’s a June, a July, and an August book, so I hope that they stay good and that they stay of the same sort of tenor of, of, of Ivy being allowed to be who she is –
Sarah: – and not having to change? That was my favorite thing about her, I think, that she just, she was who she was, and she was happy to learn new things, and she was happy to know when she was wrong, and she could admit when she was wrong. She was not infallible, but she also was not here to be told that she was doing it wrong –
Sarah: – just ‘cause she did things differently. Reading about a heroine with an enormous amount of power, with an, a complete lack of ambition was so enjoyable.
Amanda: It was so good!
Sarah: It is so enjoyable! I loved it so much! [Laughs] But you, I also, like, had a serious craving for potato chips while I was reading it.
Amanda: I did buy salt and vinegar chips.
Amanda: Not going to lie.
Sarah: Do not read while hungry.
And that brings me to the end of our RecReq fiesta, but that is not the end of the podcast; do not get upset. It’s not a super short episode.
I wanted to follow up with the series that starts Slouch Witch because, of course, I immediately, like many readers, went onto the next book in the series, and unfortunately, I DNFed it, and I wanted to tell you why, because while I usually don’t do spoken book reviews unless we’re speaking quickly about books we recommend or don’t recommend, I wanted to at least explain why I DNFed this book and why I don’t recommend it, or at least why it didn’t work for me. If it sounds like it would work for you, please go for it.
In the second book, Ivy is not working very closely with Raphael, and she gets an invitation to be part of the show that she loves, which is sort of like this magical reality show called Enchantment. She’s totally obsessed with it, and there’s some weirdness going on, so he, Rafael asks her and the, the Order asks her to go to somehow be, like, an assistant on the set. There’re a number of sort of weird things that happen that didn’t seem consistent with her character, and then there was a scene where the different contestants get up, and there’s just this paragraph of tokenism that really bugged me. In Slouch Witch, which Amanda and I still thoroughly enjoyed, there was a sort of a casual inclusivity that I appreciated. She has a best friend named, I believe it’s pronounced Iqbal, who is an expert on spells and helps her out and sort of knows the extent to which she’s very, very talented and pretty powerful, but then in Star Witch, the different contestants get up to introduce themselves, and the, the witch who was from Haiti did Vodou, the Asian witch talked about Zen and influencing her magic, and it was just awful. I was just really disappointed because that’s just – there were so many opportunities to do things differently, and while there is the sort of frame of the reality show, where maybe these people are playing to character and there’s a lot of discussion of playing to character, it didn’t seem that way from that paragraph, and the more I read, the more I was really irritated with Ivy’s inconsistencies, with Raphael’s inconsistencies, and then the way that the other characters were described. It just didn’t work for me as well as the first one.
I’m not sure if I’ll try the third one, but for those of you who are the beginner of a series who are completists, like, like my husband and my son who are like, what do you mean, you stopped reading a series in the middle? You have to finish it! If you are that type of reader and that type of scene might bother you, you might want to skip book two or, you know, just pretend that book one is the only one. I’m not sure about book three. This one left enough of a bad taste in my mouth that I’m going to take a little break from the series, but I didn’t want to recommend book one without talking about what bothered me in book two. It really bummed me out to see a series in a world that was so original and so interesting in book one slide into tokenism and stereotypical portrayals of different characters in a really obvious and disappointing – I keep saying disappointed, but really, that was my, that was my reaction. Like, I was in the middle of reading, and I went, oh, come on! Yeah, I was, I was pretty bummed. So I hope you don’t mind my sort of off-the-cuff, informal discussion in this part of the podcast.
Moving on, I have one last thing to tell you. I received a really interesting email after podcast episode 257. In that episode, which featured all of the Bitches, Elyse talked about her experiences reading BDSM as someone who suffers through chronic pain, and she said during that episode she had a bit of trouble fully comprehending the idea that there is an intersection between pain and pleasure, because physiologically, her body processes pain very dysfunctionally, as she put it, and incorrectly, so there’s this part of her that’s reading about BDSM and fascinated by it and then also sort of wondering how that even works because it’s so distant from her experience. I received a letter from somebody who wanted to talk to us about that, and they gave me their permission to share this information, so I want to say thank you to our anonymous listener for their candid and honest email. I think this is really interesting, and I know a number of you were curious about BDSM and chronic pain as well. So this is the listener email I wanted to share, and again, thank you to the person who wrote this for giving me permission to share this with all of you:
“First of all, please feel free to share any of this info, but don’t link my real name to it, because I am not out with this – you’ll be able to tell as you read why 🙂
“I am writing in reference to podcast 257 where you mentioned chronic pain and BDSM. I am a PNR writer, and also write D/s erotica under a pen name, in part because I am in a D/s relationship and am in the BDSM scene. I also have chronic pain after a car accident maybe…14 years ago?…which is quite problematic and I take a number of painkillers for, and have to manage in a lot of ways.
“I listen to your podcast every week and enjoy it immensely – smart women talking about romance, yay! Also, I am a chartered psychologist and consultant.
“I have quite an interest in pain and BDSM and so when you mentioned it on the podcast, I thought I would share some of my experiences.
“I went to my professional body, the British Psychological Society, and have talked to a number of experts about chronic pain and BDSM, and apparently at the moment there is no current research into the area (I can imagine why, getting a sample together wouldn’t be easy!).
“However, anecdotally, there are a number of people I have met with chronic pain in the lifestyle, and for some of them, using pain and sensation play can give them a different focus on pain, or, what is quite interesting, give them a way to feel like they *control* their pain for their time while in the scene.
“For me at first it was very triggering to think about *choosing* pain and I had it in my hard limits, but over time, and with trust in my partner/Dom, we have experimented more. It does release endorphins, which is helpful – I take fewer painkillers when I scene regularly – and I am using it to work on trying to redefine my relationship with pain, as I have a lot of negative thought patterns around it.
“I also do a lot of rope, and I hold a lot of tension in my body, but I would say that rope is the place where I can relax the most. There is something about the rope holding you entirely, especially in suspension, that means you can relax more deeply than in any other way (I have found). I highly recommend finding someone in the shibari community to do some rope with if someone has chronic pain. It is surprising how helpful and restful it can be, if done right.
“Anyway, I hope that’s interesting, thanks for the work you do sharing the podcast and website, wishing you a wonderful day!”
Thank you so much, Anonymous, for this information. I am, first, fascinated because how other people manage their pain is incredibly intimate, and I’m really honored that you would share this with us and with the listening community. Given how powerful endorphins are, it makes a lot of sense, and I think it’s really interesting to know that BDSM can help people who suffer from chronic pain, and more importantly, if somebody is curious about BDSM and they have chronic pain that, that doesn’t necessarily need to be an obstacle for them exploring their own kinky sides. That’s so cool!
Anyway, I learn something incredible from the romance community every day. Thank you, thank you so much for that! It is, like, the most amazing thing to me that I learn something different from the romance community of listeners. Thank you so much for letting me share this email! I am really honored that you shared this with us.
And now I have a lot of Googling to do. Like, a lot. So much Googling. And I don’t have chronic pain; I just have chronic curiosity? I guess that’s also a thing that I should probably work on!
But that brings me to the end of this episode, and I want to thank Amanda for hanging out with me to do all of these recommendations, and I want to thank you for hanging out, emailing us with more recommendations! Most of all, I need to thank our Patreon community, without whom we would not have been able to do this episode. Thank you guys so much for, for your support and for making requests and for asking such interesting questions and making sure that we gave a really, really long, very expensive list of recommendations for everyone. The number of, the number of comments, the number of people who were like, yes, I knew exactly what series you were trying to say, this was a really fun series, so thank you so much to everyone who made that possible.
Do you want to get in touch with us? You totally should, ‘cause it’s really fun! I mean, why not, right? First, if you want to, like, you know, talk to us on Twitter, I’m @SmartBitches, and Amanda is @_ImAnAdult, all one word, and you can also email us at email@example.com, and if you would like to make a recommendation request, you’re looking for books to read, or you want to ask us a question, write it out, record a voicemail and email it to me, or leave a voicemail at 1-201-371-3272. It is so cool to hear from you, so thank you in advance for all of your messages.
This episode is brought to you by Organization Academy, which is the new home of my online courses about using Google Calendar to declutter your schedule and organize your life. If you dread the question “Oh, my gosh, what’s for dinner?” or you dread being asked that question, this course that I’m about to launch might help you, and I’m super excited about it. I will teach, with step-by-step instructions, how to harness the power of Google Calendar to manage your meal planning and save you time and money and energy, because making decisions and coming up with things actually uses brain energy, and by the end of the day my brain is tired. So if you’d like more information, please sign up for the newsletter at organizationacademy.com. That’s Organization with a Z or zed – sorry to my extra-U-using English-speaking, or English-listening audience. If you spell Organisation with an S, I apologize. I’m working on buying the domain name, though, because I forgot that y’all don’t use the Z as much as we do. Z is a great letter, by the way – but back to what I was saying. If you would like more information or you’d like to be among the first to know when the course opens, please sign up at organizationacademy.com.
If you would like to sponsor a podcast transcript, I would love to have you do so. It is a wonderful opportunity because I mention you and your book or whatever you’d like to talk about right here in this part of the podcast, plus in the intro, plus you get a featured spot in the podcast entry, plus you get a featured spot in the transcript announcement, which is when I say, hey, people who like to read the transcripts, it’s ready! Have a look! And you help make the show accessible to everyone, so it’s a quadruple win – there is so much win in sponsoring a podcast transcript, so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sarah with an H at smartbitchestrashybooks.com [Sarah@smartbitchestrashybooks.com] and ask me how!
Our music is provided each week by Sassy Outwater, and this track is by Peatbog Faeries. This particularly lovely, relaxing, lovely piece of music that I really like is called “Fishing at Orbost,” and it is from their album Dust. I have links to Amazon and iTunes, should you wish to buy this funky music for your own. I know a lot of you have become Peatbog Faeries fans right along with me. They’re, they’re so great! Between them and Caravan Palace, I have a really good playlist at this point.
As always, all of the books that we talked about will be in the podcast entry, and there are a lot of them, I know. I apologize in advance. The books for the past two episodes, where we did all of those recommendation requests, they are in the podcast entry too.
And if you are listening to the end of the episode, two things to tell you: one, podcast Patreon at patreon.com/SmartBitches – every time I get a new pledge, I sort of stop what I’m doing and stare at my email like, wow! So thank you so much for all of that support. It is deeply, deeply appreciated. And if you have subscribed or told a friend or left a review, I am just as deeply, stunningly thankful. I’m really amazed that y’all hang out with me every week.
And if you’ve been listening to the end you know that I have terrible jokes. This is a terrible, terrible, terrible joke. I’m really excited about this one. [Laughs]
What did the snail say when riding on the back of a turtle?
Give up? What did the snail say when riding on the back of a turtle? WHEEEEEE!
I love these jokes! They’re so bad!
So on behalf of Amanda and myself and everyone here, we wish you the very best of reading. Have a wonderful weekend.
[lovely, relaxing music]
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.
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