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What I Just Finished Reading: Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic, by JoSelle Vanderhooft. Still liked it by the time I finished it, which can be an iffy thing with short story collections. It's odd how one short can affect your view of the whole sometimes.

Point of Hopes (Astreiant #1), by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett. The world is a  fascinating one - think an alternate 16th century or so France - where your sexuality is no big deal, and the society is a matriarchy, a fact that's revealed as something that's just there, instead of whacking you over the head with it. I REALLY liked both the main leads, and the way the relationship develops between them. Again, without banging you over the head with it. My only issue with it is similar to the one I had with Death by Silver: the conclusion to the central mystery of who is stealing children and why feels rushed, as though the authors realized they were coming to the end and had to tie ends up.

The 13th Hex, by Jordan L. Hawk. This is the short-story intro, previously published in Charmed and Dangerous, to Hawk's new Hexworld series. Because it's a short story things move along fairly quickly, and there isn't as much world or character building as I would have liked. (To be fair, it was never intended to be the intro to a series.) Dominic Kopecky is a would-have-been witch who instead spends his days drawing hexes for New York's Metropolitan Witch Police. Familiar-without-a-witch Rook (also a shapeshifter) brings a murder by patent hex to his attention, a murder that everyone else claims has been solved - and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way. Honestly, you're probably going to guess at least one of the reveals long before it happens, but it's still a fun little read.

Point of Knives (Astreiant #1.5), by Melissa Scott. This is a short story set between Point of Hopes and Point of Dreams, centering not exactly on the beginning of the relationship between Eslingen and Rathe but on how they want to take it further, and the debate over whether they should. Plus, pirates! And more murder. There was still some veering away from the mystery into the relationship when it felt like the former should have taken precedence, but as with A Death at the Dionysus Club versus Death by Silver, it's not nearly as intrusive. Not that I'm complaing about the relationship, mind, even if I was reading it and going "come on, come on, you guys, you're perfect for each other!" ")

Point of Dreams (Astreiant #2), by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett. I love theatre. It might have paid like crap but one of the best jobs I ever had was usher/bartender at a live theatre. I got to see all the shows and get paid for it. :D So that may be influencing how much I liked this book because it centers around a live theatre, in what seems to be Astreiant's theatre district. Eslingen is hired on at the theatre, which is set to put on a politically important play, as a sort of drill instructor for the chorus. As the chorus is made up of nobles who won a lottery, you can imagine how much fun he has. A series of mysterious murders place the play in jeopardy, and Rathe must find the person behind them lest disaster strike on opening night. We get to see more of the politcal sphere of Astreiant, as well as more about how magic and astrology work in this world. On the personal side, Eslingen moves in with Rathe (yay!) and they navigate that new aspect of their relationship. BY TALKING TO EACH OTHER.

Fair's Point (Astreiant #3), by Melissa Scott. I can honestly say I've never read a mystery involving dog races and magic at the same time before. And we get to see a lot of magic, much more explicitly so than in the first 3 stories, with more information on how the magic works. As with the Lynes & Mathey stories, magic is integrated into the world, not just something practiced by strange people on the fringes. There's a little more on matriarchal politics. Eslingen and Rathe are still living together - yay! -  and there are some nice bits of domesticity. Eslingen has received an offer to be part of a new type of guard, meant to back up the points and have jurisdiction outside the city, and while Rathe has reservations about it, he handles it like a reasonable person. The mystery plot was carried along apace, with no bumpy side-trips into the sub-plots, and was both fascinating and terribly confusing.

Too Many Fairy Princes, by Alex Beecroft. Right, so, there was a sample of this one at the end of one of K.J. Charles' books and  - okay, I admit, I was entirely made curious about this by the line "I will skin you and write satirical verses on the leather". Maybe it was just because it was late at night but it made me laugh. Fairy prince Kjartan (who goes by Kai on Earth, mustn't give away your real name and all) is forced to teleport to an unspecified destination when one of his brothers tries to kill him to clear the path to the throne. (Yes, like Stardust.) Artist and gallery worker (part owner, I think?) Joel Wilson's day has gone straight to hell when he finds out his boss not only owes money to a loan shark, but the loan is due AND there is no money in the bank. Joel needs a miracle: he gets a fairy prince in a trash bin. We get a rather sweet romance with elves, mobsters, royalty, deadly sibling rivalry, occasionally disturbing culteral differences, and the discovery of Nutella. The relationship is on a long, slow, burn and given what elves have been told about humans (not, mind, without reason) and vice-versa (again, not without reason) and how they meet it makes sense: they're both carefully making sure the other's not in a vulnerable state or affected by outside influences so that there can be no doubt about the validity of consent. It's not quite Will They Or Won't They, but it does take a while. Overall it's some nice brain candy if you're looking for something entertaining but not demanding.

What I'm Currently Reading: I got distracted with knitting and haven't started a new book. Yet. Oh, hey, The Goblin Emperor...


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