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Werewolf Wednesday (I Recommend)… Review of Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff (Lesbian werewolves for the win!)

(Edited to Add: Totally forgot to drop this link: “Supermoon” Coming this Saturday.)

Another Lesbian Werewolves for the Win! Werewolf Wednesday, and I cannot get enough of them.

The ebook version of Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff is now available, print editions to come, and to celebrate this release, I have a review! (Keep an eye out in June for another celebration, where Catherine will visit the blog, and we’ll give away some prizes!) First, though, links to Silver Moon: Amazon | All Romance E-Books | Lethe Press.

Blurb: Becca Thornton, divorced, middle-aged, and barely out of the closet discovers that life can still hold some strange surprises, when she discovers that her body is changing; menopause turns her into a werewolf. Apparently she is not the only one, as a number of women in her town of Wolf’s Point seem to have had the same experience. As the newest member of the pack, Becca learns her nights are not spent only protecting the town and running through the woods howling at the moon. There are werewolf hunters in town and they’ve got Becca in their sights.

(NB: Above links are not affiliate links. Author provided an e-arc of the book for review. Also, I don’t believe there are spoilers, other than what you can get from various descriptions of the book.)

I was sold on the premise of Silver Moon from the start: women werewolves protecting their town? Characters of “a certain age” being awesome? Women kicking ass? Lesbians being heroes? Yes please, all of that and more. And I’m pleased to say that overall, I loved the story and hope to spend more time with these characters in the future. There aren’t enough supernatural stories about lesbians, or women who are werewolves, or older characters, and especially not about older lesbian werewolves who are completely awesome. I was giddy at discovering Silver Moon, and I’m still giddy after having such a good time while reading. The details of the werewolves are delightful (keeping a throat covered when laughing, because baring it says [potentially unintended] things, the smell of happiness, the sounds they can hear), and I love that this is a story about women and so many things they are and can be.

I do have my issues. There are uses of “crazy” and “insane” that I found pretty ableist, and a reference to a mental hospital that made me cringe. (Yes, I know this is language that is used in everyday life. Believe me, I know. I deal with it all the time.) Though there are quite a bit of racial diversity in the characters, particularly the werewolves, the story is so tightly focused on Becca and the things she’s discovering about herself that often the other characters get short shrift and the racial diversity falls to the background. (I’m hoping there will be additional books and the other characters will have more page time. I am particularly intrigued by Deputy Lizzie Blackhawk, who is smart and snarky and badass, and also, I think I’m in love.) The last twenty pages or so seemed rushed, especially compared to the slower build of the first half of the book. (Though now that I look at the actual page numbers, werewolf things start happening early in the book, and I can’t quite put my finger on why it felt like a slower build. I like slower builds, particularly in books about monsters.)

All of that being said, I really loved the book. I loved Becca and her changes, physical, emotional, sexual. I loved the werewolf pack, all the women and the work they do to keep their town safe. I loved the worldbuilding, the rules for werewolves, and the juxtaposition of interesting things: supernatural and scientific, monster and human, hunter and hunted, predator and prey. About halfway through, the story grabbed me and I devoured the rest, deadlines be damned, in a glorious rush of action and intrigue and lies and truth. It is truly a supernatural adventure, decorated with bits of humor and romance and angst.

One of the things I like most about werewolves and werewolf stories is the metaphor of lycanthropy as mental illness, particularly my experience with bipolar disorder: the (sometimes) uncontrollable physical changes lining up with the (sometimes) uncontrollable mental changes, cycle for cycle. There are moments where the language, the description, so exactly captures what I think of when I think of werewolves, of that metaphor for mental illness, that it made me want to stand up and cheer, except that meant I’d have to stop reading, and so I didn’t. (“… she could feel that same wildness building in her … clawing its way to the surface inside her, racing beneath her skin and preparing to break through.”)

Silver Moon does not address this metaphor. What it does address is similar, though, and really made the story appealing to me: (sometimes) uncontrollable physical changes for (sometimes) uncontrollable physical changes. Lundoff’s werewolves aren’t a metaphor for mental illness, but for the way our bodies become different with age. (Literally and literally, for her werewolves; menopause brings the changes we recognize, but also changes Becca could never anticipate.)

Silver Moon isn’t just a story about lesbians, or women getting older, or werewolves being secret superheroes, or women being victimized. It isn’t a story where the women are monsters because, wink wink nudge nudge, all women are monstrous, am I right? (Can you tell I am exhausted by all of the stories where women are victims or villains and nothing in between?) At its heart, it is a story that either we can relate to now, or we will relate to later. It is the story of change, in good ways and bad. Sometimes – eventually, inevitably — our bodies change, our minds change, our lives change, without warning, and without our desire for it to occur. We get older. We deal with mental illness, or physical. We lose those we loved, we leave them, we say good-bye. We fight to keep our homes; we fight to create a place for ourselves in a new world after we’ve been rocked by things that happen to us, around us, we fight to keep those we love safe.

As readers, many of us search for ourselves in the stories we read, often to no avail if we aren’t straight, white, able bodied and minded, cisgendered, and/or male. In Lundoff’s werewolves, I found pieces of myself, my questions about what I am and what I have and what I will become; the push and pull of pack ties (family ties) with solitary natures and the need to seek adventures alone; and those shining moments of human and monster, separate and one, all wrapped up in a rollicking adventure that was simply fun. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, because it fits this story so well.

Lesbian werewolves for the win!

Publications…Review of Daughters of Artemis and Bonus Link

Well, Month of Thanksgiving ended up being very sporadic, but maybe next year I will be able to post daily. I still haven’t decided what I want to do to celebrate the December holidays; obviously from Month of the Werewolf and Month of Thanksgiving, daily posting is not going to work for me right now (the day job has been super hectic lately). Maybe I will try a couple stories instead.

But first, here is a fun review of Daughters of Artemis, which contains my story “The Fullness That Love Began.”

Over at Lamba Literary, Sinclair Sexsmith included Daughters of Artemis in Cliterotica Fall 2011: Storm Moon Press is a relatively new publisher, and one of their first anthologies is the lesbian werewolf collection Daughters of Artemis. The beastly nature of these stories surprised me, and when I got deep into the characters and plots I felt a connection to my own animal nature. Lesbian sex can certainly bring out the lusty, raw animal, and this collection pulled deeply on those tropes. Though we usually see werewolves as alpha males, there are plenty of alpha females out there and many have just as much command and demand.

And the Bonus. Despite the fact that I frequent Werewolves.com, I missed this post about upcoming werewolf books that includes Daughters of Artemis. It made me grin to see it.

Publications…Review of “The Fullness That Love Began” in Daughters of Artemis (Month of Thanksgiving Day 4)

(Month of Thanksgiving is exactly what it sounds like: a [hopefully] daily dose of the things for which I give thanks during the month of November.)

Today I am grateful for delightful reviews. Sally at Bibrary Book Lust posted a really nice review of Daughters of Artemis.

This is what she had to say about werewolves in general: The act of transformation, the duality of spirit, and the tense dichotomy between domesticated human and wild animal make them so exciting to explore. Unlike vampires, there’s never an end to the seduction or to the transformation, which means there’s far less risk of the story growing stale.

And this is what she said about my story, “The Fullness That Love Began”: This was a fun story about suburban werewolves (complete with jobs at Microsoft), hunting rights, pack alliances, the war of the sexes, and the emotional conflict between love and procreation. Visually, the focus here is definitely on the human side of things, but the politics are all werewolf, and the sex is just wild enough to cross (and re-cross that line).

Isn’t that delightful? I love the mix of suburban werewolves and the wilder side. I was trying to capture that in “The Fullness That Love Began,” and based on this review, I was successful more than I ever could have hoped. I love this story of mine, and I am thrilled every time I hear that a reader enjoyed it.

Publications…Excellent Review of “Hunter, Prey” in Like Tooth and Claw

Asylumgirl at Night Owl Reviews posted an excellent review of Like Tooth and Claw from Circlet Press, including a fantastic bit about my sexy mountain lion shapeshifter story, “Hunter, Prey.”

The attraction between the characters is immediate and something that the reader can feel and be a part of. The sex is hot and rough, with bites and bruises to go around. Hunter, Prey is an excellent example of shapeshifter romance, full of raw animalistic eroticism.

Now that is a sexy review for a sexy story. Thank you so much, Asylumgirl!

Publications…Another good review of “Blazing Star” in Cast the Cards

Rainbow Reviews has an excellent review of Cast the Cards:

“Blazing Star” by Marie Carlson is Lesbian urban fantasy, based on the card The Star. Mind-reader Bea has grown up in the shadow world of Supernatural-style hunters, and now keeps a safe house, offering sanctuary and protection magic to any hunter who needs it – but most especially to Hope, her lover. Carlson does a grand job packing clear world building, strong, engaging characters, hot sex, and well-rooted relationships into a short story, whilst not skimping on plot. The sense of time passing is palpable, and Hope and Bea are a fantastic couple.

I love this review, though “Blazing Star” is more a bisexual (or pansexual, really) urban fantasy and not a lesbian one. It can be difficult to make that distinction when writing about two women together, though. (Or two men, for that matter.) I will try harder next time.

Publications…Review of “Like a Thousand Miles of Fire”

Carole at Rainbow Reviews posted the first review of Bite Me that I’ve seen. It’s a very good review overall, and makes me even happier to be a part of such an interesting anthology.

Here’s what she said about “Like a Thousand Miles of Fire”:

Marie Carlson deftly draws a world loosely based on California where demons and vampires are mortal enemies in ” Like a Thousand Miles of Fire.” Half-demon Crystal is in love with William and Miguel, a hot pair of vampires, creating an uneasy alliance with both worlds. The threesome seals their bond in explicitly erotic ways as the world around them hints at war. This story is so well-drawn, so fleshed-out (pun intended!) that it could easily stand alone. I hope that Marie Carlson will continue with more stories in this universe.

I am thrilled with this review both because it is an incredibly kind review and because I am writing more stories in Crystal’s world. In fact, an early draft of “Like a Thousand Miles of Fire” read far more like the first chapter to a novel than a short story, but thanks to my fantastic early readers, I cut an entire scene from the end and beat it into short story shape. So knowing that someone wants more of Crystal’s story absolutely made my day.

Thanks, Carole. I love this review.