Review: Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

May 27, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Darker Still by Leanna Renee HieberDarker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
Series: Magic Most Foul #1
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on November 8, 2011
Genres: YA, YA Historical, YA Paranormal
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
I was obsessed.

It was as if he called to me, demanding I reach out and touch the brushstrokes of color swirled onto the canvas. It was the most exquisite portrait I'd ever seen--everything about Lord Denbury was unbelievable...utterly breathtaking and eerily lifelike.

There was a reason for that. Because despite what everyone said, Denbury never had committed suicide. He was alive. Trapped within his golden frame.

I've crossed over into his world within the painting, and I've seen what dreams haunt him. They haunt me too. He and I are inextricably linked--bound together to watch the darkness seeping through the gas-lit cobblestone streets of Manhattan. Unless I can free him soon, things will only get Darker Still.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0 (uses the g-slur; though time-appropriate, it’s still a slur)
Disability: 0 (Natalie starts out as mute but She Gets Better because She Feels Like It)
Intersectionality: 0

Once upon a time, I downloaded Darker Still and proceeded to not read it for about four years. Oops? My best friend and I talked of the book often because she loved it and the cover model always looked like Taylor Swift to us in passing, but it took being ordered to by the great TBR Jar for me to finally read it. Worth it, I’d suppose? It’s a mess with its characters, but I found it incredible for the frame narrative and Natalie’s diary entries alone. Read more »


A Journey Through Hell; or Getting My Name Legally Changed in Florida

May 25, 2016 Links and Silliness 0

Yeah, I know, yet another non-bookish post, but I live to entertain and help other people.

If you were here yesterday, you saw a post about how to legally change your name in Florida. Outlining the process through its requirements is one thing; explaining the human experience of it is another.

Now how did my personal experience with the name-change procedure go? WHOO BOY, DO I HAVE A STORY.

Early June 2015: Fresh from BEA, where I’d mentioned my plans to friends and bought a keychain with “Paige” on it, I started doing my research, filled out and printed Forms 12.982(a) and 12.982(b), and arranged to get fingerprinted.

Mid-June 2015, part 1: I head to the sheriff’s office to get fingerprinted and find out that parking in the area is absolutely terrible. Also, the courthouse is right next door, so I won’t lose either building easily.

Mid-June 2015, part 2: I need a public notary to sign my forms and a family friend who works with my dad as a secretary happens to be one, so I meet my dad for lunch and the family friend signs the papers for me. I discover she’s a homophobe who would refuse to perform a wedding for a same-sex couple.

After lunch and the form-signing I’m so confident in I don’t check over it, I head back to the county courthouse and attempt to turn in my paperwork. I get lost in the place for about 20 minutes and have to ask for help. The office directs me to Family Court Services for a final check of my paperwork and the latter tells me that I’m missing Forms 12,900(h) and DH-427 as well as the envelopes. OH, AND THE NOTARY DIDN’T SIGN THE PAPERWORK EVERYWHERE SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO.

An angry-looking white cat breathes heavily.

I return home as a grumpasaurus rex.

Late June 2015, part 2: Repeatedly visiting my dad for lunch will make both of us sick of Waffle House very quickly, so I ask him to take the paperwork back up there and get the secretary to sign them again but make sure to sign all the blanks it says she needs to this time.


lol, she screws up again. I become certain she and my dad are trying to sabotage my efforts.

July 2015: I try yet again with the paperwork and she does sign everywhere she’s supposed to this time. Hurrah! She made copies of all the forms and I take my full set of paperwork to the local clerk of court office (which is much closer than the county courthouse) to file them. NOPE, CAN’T DO IT. The paperwork has to be the original copies, not photocopies, and she threw out the original copy.

A deeply unhappy-looking cat swishes its tail back and forth.

Once again, I’m certain of a conspiracy. That or the family friend needs her public notary license revoked.

Late July 2015, part 1: This time, I make sure I have the original copy on me and take everything to the clerk of court office again. RE-DENIED. This time, it’s because I filled in the Final Judgment form by hand when it was supposed to be typed.

To top it all off, I locked myself out of my car. Good thing I didn’t lock my purse in there too (one pocket hid the spare key I used in emergencies) or I REALLY would have been up the creek without a paddle. Or a boat.

Late July 2015, part 2: OKAY, FOR REAL THIS TIME. A few days after my previous attempt, I take my fully corrected paperwork back to the clerk of court office again to file them. The attendant initially doesn’t believe they’re the originals because she can’t feel the indents of the pen in the paper, but I assured her they were the originals. I just don’t press hard on my pens.


A cat happily grins with an open mouth.

Later that day, I get a call to schedule my name-change hearing at the county courthouse.

Early August 2015: My name-change hearing! I make it to the courthouse a second time and the security guys still remember me from two months ago. Once again, I manage to get lost but eventually get directions to where I need to be. The hearing was little more than sitting in a woman’s office, answering her questions to confirm I’m not changing it to avoid criminal charges and such, and letting a tape recorder make an audio copy of our presentation. Then I go home and gleefully order a personalized necklace that says Paige as a celebratory gift to myself.

Mid-August 2015: I get my Final Judgment of Name Change forms in the mail and they’re signed/stamped! I’m officially Paige, not Ashleigh!

Oh, Paige of almost a year ago, you don’t even know yet.

Late August 2015: My dad forwards me an email from Florida Health saying that because I wasn’t born in Florida (I was born in Georgia and my family moved when I was 4), the Report of Legal Change of Name means nothing to them and they won’t forward it to Georgia for me. It’s my job to do that myself.


An angry ginger cat with its ears laid back against its head hisses. It's not a happy kitty.

tl;dr don’t change your first name in Florida unless you really fucking want to because it’s expensive and stupid and it only gets harder if you weren’t born in Florida. The process for changing your surname for marriage is way fucking easier.

So did you learn anything from my walk through the Floridian legal process? You know it has to be special considering the never-ending adventures of Florida Man.


How to ACTUALLY Legally Change Your Name (in Florida)!

May 24, 2016 Links and Silliness 0

If you’re trying to get a legal name change in Florida, chances are that you’re definitely not getting the right information from the Internet because it didn’t tell me half the stuff I’m about to tell you. I’ve been planning to change my name legally from Ashleigh to Paige since I was 16, but I was never able to get a simple explanation of what I needed to do in order to get it done. Most websites make it all seem way too complicated.

Well, here’s how you do it in Florida, land of the weirdos:

  • Fill out Form 12.982(a) Petition for Change of Name (Adult) and get it signed by a public notary. I think you can find one at a bank, but a family friend was one in my case and I shamelessly used her.
  • Check out your county sheriff’s office/police department/whatever’s website for information about getting fingerprinted. They’ll tell you where to go for it and other important bits. For my county (Clay), I could only get fingerprinted at one specific sheriff’s office location at certain times and it came with a $5 fee to be paid in cash.
  • Fingerprinted? Good! But within 30 days, you have to pay filing fees at so the FDLE and FBI get it. Why do you have to pay for that? Because they need funding! (Well, that’s my guess.) If you don’t do it in those 30 days, your fingerprint card gets thrown out and you have to get re-fingerprinted. The Internet said I’d be paying $43.25 to file, but I paid $38.75 instead. I don’t know why.
  • You think you’re ready now? NOT YET! You have more paperwork to fill out. Specifically:
    • Form 12.900(h) Notice of Related Cases
    • Form DH-427 Report of Legal Name Change (typed)
    • Form 12.982(b) Final Judgment of Change of Name (Adult) (typed)
    • Three stamped 71-cent standard envelopes
  • Now that you’ve gotten fingerprinted and paid the fees and gotten the forms filled out/signed, take your papers to the county courthouse or local circuit court clerk’s office and file those (after making a copy for your own records, of course). Once you do, you set up a hearing date with the clerk. Some offices will ask you to call county Family Court Services to do so because their office doesn’t do appointments. If you want to skip that mess, go to the county courthouse to file instead of just a circuit court clerk office. Also, prepare your loins for the $400 filing fee, which comes with a $14 processing fee if you pay with your credit card.
  • While waiting for your hearing date–or preferably while you’re filling out the petition at the start of this train of ridiculousness–figure out exactly how many copies of the settlement you’ll need. I needed at least four copies for school, the DMV, Social Security, and the bank. Other categories include car title and credit card, but because I’m still a dependent as I write this, those were taken care of by my family.
  • Be at your hearing.

There you go! Should you follow these instructions, you should be able to change your name in the state of Florida and you’ll receive your Final Judgment of Name Change forms in the mail shortly thereafter. If it turns out things have changed since I wrote this, I hope it was to simplify the process instead of making it even more hellish.

Did I help? If you’re interested, check back tomorrow to read about my personal experience. Spoiler: it fucking sucked.



The Game of Love and DNF

May 19, 2016 Reviews 0

Another DNF Collection DNF

It Looks LIke ThisIt Looks Like This
Rafi Mittlefehldt
Candlewick Press (September 6, 2016)
336 pages (hardcover)
Source: publisher

Gave up after 50 pages. Only Cormac McCarthy can get away with refusing to use quotation marks for dialogue–and it annoys the hell out of me that he does it in the first place.

The prose is just a recitation of facts in the most droll manner possible. The comparison of Mittlefehldt’s prose to Raymond Carver’s made me read one of Carver’s stories/get a general understanding of why Carver is considered a significant writer, but I saw no similarities between them. Carver’s story still has a rhythm and is quite readable; It Looks Like This has no such rhythm. The mental “voice” that developed while I read was completely monotone.

Really, this book reminds me of my very first work as a writer when I was fourteen: just not good. Kinda sad to say that since this is about a gay guy falling in love and I want to support QUILTBAG lit. However, I support good QUILTBAG lit. (Also, I hope to see more of the QUILTBA soon because the G overwhelms in popular culture and literature. See: how many gay characters you can remember compared to how many asexual characters.)

Traitor AngelsTraitor Angels
Anne Blankman
Balzer + Bray (May 3, 2016)
400 pages (hardcover)
Source: Edelweiss

Seeing as I count Blankman’s debut novel Prisoner of Night and Fog among my favorites for its complicated characters, intensity, and well-crafted story, it really pained me to give up on Traitor Angels after a third of the book. Our heroine Elizabeth is bland and honestly has too many things going for her for her to be interesting. Her obstacles don’t feel like anything big at all, which makes it hard for me to care whether or not she overcomes them. The supporting characters are no better and the plot amounts to a scavenger hunt: go to a place in search of a clue, find the clue, and use it to head to a new place. Rinse and repeat.

I’m just gonna go cry into my cat’s fur now.

Deirdre Riordan Hall
Skyscape (March 1, 2016)
352 pages (paperback)
Source: publisher

Ugh, and Pearl started out so well! The eponymous character’s struggles living with a drug-addicted mother before she’s shipped off to a rich kid school really touched me and I liked her voice too. And the book covers two years of Pearl’s life, so there’s a lot of room to see her and her relationships change! Too bad the pacing is, to put it in the bluntest terms, completely shit. By the time I gave up, the second year had started and Pearl’s charms had long since worn off. The implication that Pearl would be tempted by the same demons that ruined her mother was there, but she hadn’t gotten anywhere near the temptation yet. Too much time establishing character relationships, not enough time making things happen.

Oh, and there are two separate mean girls who only have “being mean” as a personality trait. I despise having one mean girl, never mind two.

Yeah, I decided to call it a day around the 150-page mark.


Review: Please Don’t Tell by Laura Tims

May 16, 2016 Diversity 4, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: Please Don’t Tell by Laura TimsPlease Don't Tell by Laura Tims
Published by HarperTeen on May 24, 2016
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Joy killed Adam Gordon—at least, that’s what she thinks. The night of the party is hazy at best. But she knows what Adam did to her twin sister, Grace, and she knows he had to pay for it.

What Joy doesn’t expect is that someone else saw what happened. And one night a note is shoved through her open window, threatening Joy that all will be revealed. Now the anonymous blackmailer starts using Joy to expose the secrets of their placid hometown. And as the demands escalate, Joy must somehow uncover the blackmailer’s identity before Joy is forced to make a terrible choice.

In this darkly compelling narrative, debut author Laura Tims explores the complicated relationship between two sisters, and what one will do for the other. It’s a story that will keep readers turning pages and questioning their own sense of right and wrong.

Diversity Rating: 4 – This is Our World

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (Joy’s friend is biracial with a black mother and white father; supporting character Cassius is black and lives with vitiligo; another supporting character is half-Vietnamese)
Disability: 5 (Joy has more than a bit of an alcohol problem; Grace has OCD with magical thinking; November’s time in an asylum offers commentary on how we treat mental illness and people who get emergency treatment for it)
Intersectionality: 4 (All of the above and then some)

I can’t remember exactly when this book was first announced, but I’m pretty sure it’s been 2-3 years and I’ve been awaiting it since its announcement. I’M NOT USED TO WAITING THIS LONG FOR BOOKS. But my gut told me the wait would be worth it and I jumped on Please Don’t Tell as soon as a copy was offered to me. Good lord, was it worth the wait. If you’re a survivor of sexual abuse or assault, major trigger warning. This book is all about what happens when survivors are afraid or otherwise unable to tell someone about what happened to them.

Read more »


Criticizing the Hugo Awards: A Numerical Extravaganza of Nastiness

May 11, 2016 Discussion Post 1

For the last two years or so, the sci-fi/fantasy community has had a rather rough time. The Hugo Awards, one of the most prestigious awards of the category, see works nominated by people who pay for either a supporting membership or a membership for that year’s Worldcon (aka the World Science Fiction Convention). It’s all a bit complicated, so here’s the Hugo Award FAQ that explains it properly.

I’m not deeply involved in the SFF community,but enough friends and people I follow are that I get the gist of what’s going on and why X issue is a problem for their community. In addition, I get fired up about the issue if it transcends the sci-fi community and/or has to do with misogyny (i.e. former Tor editor James Frenkel sexually harassing Elise Matthesen at a convention).

Naturally, the announcement of the Hugo Awards nominations on April 26th saw a great deal of outcry from the wider SFF community because the nominees came almost entirely from the Rabid Puppies voting slate set up by noted racist, sexist, and generally horrible person Vox Day. His group hijacked last year’s Hugo Awards as well. Again, more complicated than I can explain, so please see this article on The Guardian for a comprehensible explanation.

After the nominees were announced, I tweeted this:

I knew exactly what the Rabid Puppies would do to my mentions when I used the hashtag and I did it anyway. It didn’t make what resulted any less ugly nor what I said any less true.

Presented with both numbers and selected tweets, here’s what happens when you’re a woman who criticizes a campaign led primarily by ultraconservative men.

Trigger warning for sexism, pedophilia, and rape. Only go to the people’s profiles if you want to block them because their Twitter feeds are more of what I’m warning you of. Read more »


Review: Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker

May 9, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Wildflower by Alecia WhitakerWildflower by Alecia Whitaker
Series: Wildflower #1
Published by Poppy on July 1, 2014
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
The best songs come from broken hearts.

Sixteen-year-old Bird Barrett has grown up on the road, singing backup in her family's bluegrass band, and playing everywhere from Nashville, Tennesee to Nowhere, Oklahoma. One fateful night, Bird fills in for her dad by singing lead, and a scout in the audience offers her a spotlight all her own.

Soon Bird is caught up in a whirlwind of songwriting meetings, recording sessions, and music video shoots. Her first single hits the top twenty, and suddenly fans and paparazzi are around every corner. She's even caught the eye of her longtime crush, fellow roving musician Adam Dean. With Bird's star on the rise, though, tradition and ambition collide. Can Bird break out while staying true to her roots?

In a world of glamour and gold records, a young country music star finds her voice.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0 (a character with brown skin has all of one scene)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

Like many little kids did, I dreamed of being a singer when I was a wee thing. I wrote songs in my notebooks, I sang when I thought no one could hear me, and lbr, I still sing in the shower without caring if anyone hears me. When a Hamilton song is on and you know the lyrics, you sing along. It’s simply how it goes. Bird is the character who gets exactly what we wanted and we get to live the dream through her, but she’s lucky enough to never have to write a song about dead teenage boys! (Just don’t ask.) Wildflower is an utterly adorable novel, but it’s pretty forgettable too. Read more »