Nannywags Pet-Sitter — Shayna Leavy

A great post about a great petsitter!

Artemis Savory

Shayna Leavy is thrilled to meet me in one of her clients’ spacious backyards; there are three dogs: a Newfoundland, a lab, and a lab-rottie mix. They’re big, sweet dogs. There’s a kiddy-pool filled with water that Tuukka—the lab—keeps walking through. Shayna is all smiles and big dark sunglasses as she tells me about the dogs and other critters and what she does. I trust her in an instant—this is the hallmark of a truly good pet-sitter: trustworthy.

I started Nannywags about a year ago. I was in a very bad car accident and it left me not able to go back to my old job. When I was in the car accident I was in the backseat with one of my friends’ dogs, and my first instinct was to grab the dog so she wouldn’t fly out the window. We rolled and everything. That was two and a half…

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Book Review – Ardulum: Second Don

Ardulum: Second DonArdulum: Second Don by J.S. Fields

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second book was just as good as the first, and I am very thankful I was able to get a free digital ARC.

The characters were constantly growing and being pushed to evolve. They were all flawed in ways that made me want to root for them. The obstacles thrown at them were believable enough to accept but big enough to pose a significant challenged.

The romance subplot is is picking up a bit, though it is still going at an incredibly slow, frustrating pace. This really puts the slow in slow burn. However, the romance really is a subplot, and there is so much more to this book.

The main plot was faster than the romance. I was reading on my kindle. One minute I was at 54%. The next time I looked at my progress, I was 77%, 95% and then I was done. It flew by, and I really wish book 3 was already out. The little teaser at the end of this made me want to read it now!

I may have already said this in the first review, but I loved how different pronouns were used for different species who had members that were neither male nor female, but while the idea of a true third gender was awesome, it wasn’t with the humans.

I have no complaints about this book. I had been reading more fantasy than science fiction, but the authors and editors at NineStar press, with books like the Ardulum series, Dalí, and Trans Liberty Riot Brigade, are reminding me how powerful science fiction can be when it involves complex characters and issues.

Ardulum was entertaining. It kept me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what was going to happen next, and got me through a bad day, but it also made me think. It made me think about gender and sexuality, about human rights, religion, faith, diversity and where technology and advancement can build society up and break it down. Second Don was a little darker than First Don, but it wasn’t bleak and hopeless. Yes, it exposed some nasty flaws, but also offered hope that they might begin to heal in Third Don.

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

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ISWSP October Question: #ownvoices?

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeOctober 4 question – Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

My answer:

Yes, but sometimes it is more intentional than others

While none of my characters are directly based off of my self, many of them share my non-binary gender identity. They struggle with similar mental health issues, like anxiety triggered by crowds or touch. Occasionally, they even like the same things as me, like Star Wars and vegetable gardens.

Of course, there are instances where I write characters that are opposite of me and have almost nothing in common. Sometimes I need to escape my world and truely become someone else while I am writing.

Yet more often than not, it’s hard to fully filter myself from my creations, and when the ones with bits and pieces of me sewn through are more authentic, why bother filtering?

Authenticity is important. Representation is important. My experience with mental health and gender may not quite be like someone else’s, but that is kind of the point, isn’t it?

People do read for entertainment, but they also read for education. Ideally, both happen at the same time. If my book can keep people entertained, make them feel things, keep them turning pages and teach them a little something at the same time, then it was success.

Book Review of Ardulum: First Don by J.S. Fields

Ardulum: First DonArdulum: First Don by J.S. Fields

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I originally picked this book up because I wanted to study how the author used gender-neutral pronouns. Once I sunk my teeth it, I was so engrossed in the plot that I kept forgetting to pay attention to pronouns. NineStar Press’ editors really have a knack for acquiring good science fiction, as this is the second space opera series that’s really impressed me.

At first, the plot of Ardulum reminded me of Firefly: a ragged crew doing semi-legal transport on an antique ship picks up a stasis chamber that happens to have a strange girl in it. Thankfully, the characters, world, and other aspects of the plot were complex, deep, and unique.

I loved the flawed characters, the pacing, the description, worldbuilding, and the speculative science behind the spaceships. The presence of advanced 3-D printing grounded the world and made it seem like a future that was truly plausible.

My one complaint was that all of the gender neutral pronouns were for alien characters whose race was either somehow gender neutral or had a third gender and I had been hoping to see them used with a non-binary human. Still, that was a minor thing and didn’t stop me from enjoying everything else about this.

One nice touch worth mentioning was that the future Ardulum is set in is optimistic. With all the tragedy and political BS happening right now, I needed to read something that showed a hopeful future.

If you are a fan of space opera, science fiction, or just speculative fiction in general, this is a must read for you!

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