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Episode 47 - Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin

Happy lunar new year!  We rang in the Year of the Ox with Butterfly Swords , which was Jeannie Lin's first book.  It won the Golden Heart Award back in 2009 and started her illustrious career. Ai Li is to be married to the powerful and hawt Li Tao, a scheming jiedushi.  When she discovers his treachery and his murder of her brother she escapes to warn her father, the Tang Emperor.  Except her father isn't really all that fussed about it?  She's helped along the way by Ryam, Noted White Guy.  They travel all around China meeting people and running away from people and hitting people with swords, which is delightful. There's really no content to be concerned about in this book (it's a more recent book!) - if you dig action packed historical romances there won't be anything in here that's an unpleasant surprise.

Episode 32 - Dragonflight

Let us make your social distancing easier with tits and dragons!  (Dragons and tits, dragons and tits, I'm gonna get me some dragons and tits!)  Join us in your isolation suite with my last 4 for 40 - Anne McCaffery's Dragonflight.

Lessa is a seriously filthy, stank, greasy, dirty, rancid, matted teenager (this book is very big on using body odor as a barometer of how well a society is doing) under the thumb of evil usurper Fax when dragonmen come on Search to find the next Very Special Sex Lady - surprise, it's her!  Join Lessa, the only person in this with a name that won't give you an eye spasm, as she has Special Sex, a Special Dragon, and Special Time Travel!

This book has the kind of relationship where the man is always throwing the woman around but it's not presented as abusive?  It also has the kind of involuntary sex you see more in shifter romances - when the dragons do it, the humans do it, like it or not, and there's some indication (later, not in the moment) that it was not a great day for Lessa.  Also, the space-dog dies.

So I specifically remember reading my first Anne McCaffery book from the school library I was at in sixth grade - I started with Dragonsong, a book that would now be YA (at the time that wasn't so much a publishing category) but immediately picked up every other book I could find by her.  Y'all, this was my JAM.  Dragons AND fucking - that's even better than horses and fucking!  I read these way past when I should have stopped reading these - McCaffery, fair warning, is one of those authors who you need to put a pin in after a certain number of books but as young people we all read far, far past that point.  (Mercedes Lackey, I am also looking at you. Piers Anthony, I now realize that that number of books is to the left of zero on the number line.  Whoops.  Lesson learned.)

I didn't understand at the time that McCaffery was a huge big deal.  She was the first woman to win a Hugo for fiction (for the novella that she later turned into the first half of this book, which is why this book is sooooo tonally weird) and her third Pern book was one of the first science fiction books to make the New York Times bestseller list.  (Weird trivia - she used to make the Nebula trophies by hand.)  She was an absolute powerhouse - in addition to her dragon books I was also totally into her crystal singers and ships made out of women with disabilities (?!) and lady psychics with fierce outfits running interplanetary shipping.  She was all about women's stories, even if they feel a little.... regressive to modern readers sometimes.  She's great, although I'm not sure that this book is the best way to try her out.  It's... shaggy.  Courtney hated it!

This episode is brought to you by The Bachelor by Sabrina Jeffries, book 2 of the Duke Dynasty series.  Check it out wherever you get your books!


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