on recent multi-media faves 😊

Hello there!

I thought it might be neat to let y’all know of a few things I’ve been enjoying lately.

Books:

Master & Apprentice, by Claudia Gray (audiobook version)

I came for the Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan drama, and I was not disappointed. This book is set about eight years before The Phantom Menace. It mostly centers on the tumultuous relationship between my two favorite (canon) prequel Jedi, though it also features Qui-Gon during his Padawan days (in flashback form). Gray is one of my favorite authors, and she delivered another fantastic yarn with this book. Obi-Wan, in particular, was (is) PERFECT and no one will ever convince me otherwise. 💜

Queen’s Shadow, by E.K. Johnston (audiobook version)

Yes, it’s another Star Wars novel. But holy cats, what a doozy! Padme gets treated abominably in the movie prequels, but this book almost makes up for it. If you want political intrigue, gorgeous (and surprisingly practical!) costumes, badass women being badass, and just an all-around fantastic read, don’t miss this one. Plus the narrator also played Padme on the Clone Wars TV show!

We Set the Dark On Fire, by Tehlor Kay Mejia (audiobook version)

This YA alternate history was featured on NPR, which is how I learned of it. I think some of us could do with some feminist rebellion fantasy atm; if that’s you, then I highly recommend this book. Mejia’s prose was excellent, the story was tight, and I was thoroughly entertained. Plus LGBT romance!!! 😍

Music:

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend several live Tipper events at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL, and he’s become one of my favorite composers. His latest album, Jettison Mind Hatch, will take you places and feed your spirit. 💜 Personal favorites include Sayonara, Vection, and Sahra.

Okay, I’ve never seen Jai Wolf in person, but I’m digging his debut album, The Cure To Loneliness. It’s intense, poppy, and emotional – right up my musical alley. 😘 Personal favorites include Still Sleeping & Drowning.

Clozee’s new album, Evasion, is another powerful, electronic experience. I unfortunately missed her set at the last Hulaween, but hope to change that when/if she returns. Personal favorites include Bloom, Wander On, and Harmony. The remix album is also 🔥🔥🔥

TV:

The Expanse – My husband and I binged the crap out of this! Holy cats…I was not prepared to love it as much as I did. The writing was tight and there were some amazing characters, including some kickass ladies. 😍 I’m thrilled that Amazon has picked it up and hope to see season 4 soon. Favorite characters include Bobbie & Amos. 💜

She-Ra (new Netflix series) – Ummm… Okay, so #1, this is amazing and literally everyone needs to watch it. Even if you never watched the original, I’d at least give this a chance. Awesome characters, powerful storylines, and a TON of LGBTQ+ representation. There are two seasons out now with a third coming, and I can’t wait! 😊

Podcasts:

Approachable with Sam Ravndahl and Alyssa Anderson. Just two gals, chatting about life. They’re hilarious – I’ve been a fan of Sam’s for many years now due to her fab makeup skills, but her personality keeps me coming back. This is a new pod, but I’m eager to see where it goes! 😍

Feminist Frequency – Hopefully you all know by now that I’m a mega-feminist, so this pod has become one of my favorites. The hosts discuss pop culture, recent and otherwise, through the lense of feminist critique. Their breakdowns of movies, books, and TV shows have opened my eyes and made strive to be more inclusive in my work and my life. 💜

Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn podcast is, hands-down, one of the most valuable resources for indie authors. Joanna’s energy blends professionalism and optimism in the perfect storm of “you can do it!” Her huge catalog of pods, plus the wealth of info on her site, has been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration.

So that’s that, for now! What are you reading/watching/listening to atm? Please share! 😊

Thank you and stay awesome,

Lauren

F-BOM!

I’m thrilled to finally announce that Catalyst Moon: Incursion has been selected as the book of the month (well, technically the season) by the fine folks at the Feminist Book of the Month!

More info here | Spoiler-free review

This is a huge, huge honor. I strive to make my work inclusive and feminist; groups like F-BOM prove that my work is paying off. I hope that one day, inclusive, feminist stories are the norm across all genres. 🙂

Stay tuned, folk, as I’ve got a Reddit AMA happening on Wednesday, April 3rd. Until then, check out Book Three: Storm and let me know what you think. 😍

Stay awesome,

Lauren

PS: If you haven’t already, please join my mailing list for free stories and exclusive access to all things Catalyst Moon!

Update – seeking readers for ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of Book 3

Hiya!

Short post today. I’m working with a cover artist for Catalyst Moon: Storm (Book 3), and am busy prepping for this book’s launch. To that end, I’m seeking anyone who’d like an ARC (advanced reader copy) ahead of the launch. In return, I’m asking for

a) a quick note once your done to let me know of any typos/errors/inconsistencies, etc.

b) an honest, unbiased review once the book launches

What you get:

a) a PDF version of Catalyst Moon: Storm (Book 3) before it’s released!

b) any future Catalyst Moon books prior to their release, as I’m trying to start an exclusive ARC club for my lovely readers. 💜

c) my eternal gratitude

That’s it!😊  If you’ re interested, comment here or drop me a line at lalogareads@gmail.com

Thank you, and stay awesome!

Lauren

 

 

The Immortal Rules – book review

The Immortal Rules, by Julie Kagawa – AmazonGoodreads – Author site

TL;DR – Holy. Wow.

Review:

(Note: this review is for the audiobook version.)

Had I come across The Immortal Rules on my own, chances are that I would not have purchased it due to a few key elements: YA, vampire, love story, dystopian future. I’ve read too many not-great things with similar elements to want to seek them out any longer. However, one of my lovely readers inadvertently recommended this book to me, stating that if someone liked The Immortal Rules, they would like my little book. Naturally, I had to see for myself.

I’m SO glad I did! You know how some stories stay with you even after you read the final word? Yeah, this is one of them. The story is told from the POV of Allison, a 19 year-old girl living in a “vampire city,” surviving by the skin of her teeth in a brutal, dystopian future. Events occur, and she is transformed into the thing she hates most of all: a vampire. More events occur, and she finds herself trying to blend in with a small band of human pilgrims searching for their promised land.

The characters feel genuine, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, goals and attitudes. I loved Allison, our narrator. She was scrappy, smart, and almost painfully pragmatic at times, (I mean that in a good way!), but she grew and developed as the story progressed. Kanin, Allison’s vampire “teacher,” was fascinating in a cold, almost Spock-like manner. (I won’t say more for fear of spoilers. 😉 Zeke, the “love interest” of the story, has his own agenda and his own arc, which is beautifully done. His and Allison’s friendship-turned-relationship had me wringing my hands, dying to know “what happens next?!”

A big part of this story revolves around Allison learning to control the “demon” within, ie: the predatory vampire. Zeke plays a huge role in that. It’s lovely – in a sort of heartbreaking way – to watch Allison struggle with her conflicting “hungers.”

For the most part, the baddies in the story are slightly one-dimensional, but I think it’s because they don’t get much screen time. There is a very gray character named Jeb who could be considered an antagonist at times, though his motives are clear and completely understandable. Most villains think they are the heroes of their own stories anyway. I wouldn’t call Jeb an antagonist, per say; he’s much more nuanced than that. In any case, he was intriguing to watch. (Though there were times I wanted to smack him!)

Moving onto the worldbuilding, I was riveted by the descriptions of this bleak future, where a “rabid virus” has knocked out the majority of the human population. So, not only do vampires want to eat humans, but former-humans-turned-rabid also want to eat humans. I liked the third party angle; it wasn’t just “vampires vs. humans.” That conflict brought more depth to the story and the characters, and made for some exciting reading.

Kagawa’s take on vampires was  fantastic. She blended a mix of common legends and some of (I believe) her own ideas to create something fresh, interesting, and wholly believable. (I’m already writing fanfiction in my head!)

WRT the audiobook, Therese Plummer did a phenomenal job, not just with Allison’s voice, but with every voice – even the men. (That can be hit or miss, sometimes.) I particularly loved the resonance in Kanin’s dialog.

Overall, I could tell that so much love, care, and devotion went into this work. It was a joy to read. (Or…listen to, I guess!) Do yourself a favor and read this book!

Amazon. 

Audible.

Goodreads.

Author site.

The Lies of Locke Lamora – book review

First of all, this review is for the audiobook version.

Pros:

Fantastic worldbuilding, witty dialog, fast paced, great characters.

I quickly fell in love with Locke & Co., particularly due to their colorful, salty language and camaraderie. The world of the book felt real; at times I could hear, see, and smell whatever Mr. Lynch described. I’m honestly dazzled by the scope of Mr. Lynch’s worldbuilding! I particularly loved the religion, including the Crooked Warden.

The narrator, Michael Page, dis a superlative job with this story, seamless transitioning from crass swears to nobleman’s haughtiness.

The chapters are broken up in short, almost “bite sized” pieces, making it easy to stay up waaaay too late reading/listening!

Cons:

Note: I am extremely squeamish when it comes to blood, guts and gore. Like…I cringe at “Itchy and Scratchy” from “The Simpsons.” (Don’t get me started on Game of Thrones! Suffice it to say there’s a ton of fingers in ears and eyes squeezed shut.)

So for me, this book was incredibly violent. Way, way too much so. (Again, my tolerance for such things is probably much lower than most adults’.) Too much torture. Too many blood spatters and groans of pain and dismemberment, not to mention the plethora of blades, fists, kicks, etc. I understand violence is a part of the narrative, and it fit the story, but holy hell…it was so hard for me to listen to. I had to skip ahead more than once just to make it through certain scenes.

Again, it’s probably just me. But still. There were whole sections I could not enjoy because of this.

Another, semi-related “con” is a pretty big spoiler, so I’ll tread lightly. Suffice it to say that I nearly stopped reading about 60% of the way through, after a huge event that caught me totally by surprise. It fit the story and was given proper attention, but man…it was a kick right to the guts. Without being too spoilery, let me say that this book is often touted as something like “Ocean’s 11” but a fantasy; it was – to that point, after which it turns into more of a revenge story. Again, the events fit the narrative, but it blindsided me and made me seriously consider not finishing the book, as I felt…wronged in some way. I guess? But perhaps that’s part of Mr. Lynch’s plan. If so, it worked. I was too invested to quit. 😉

Overall:

Save the excessive violence, The Lies of Locke Lamora was an engrossing, highly entertaining read. I plan to read the next book, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves snark, wit, action, and torture. 😉