Interview with our Guest Reviewer draconismoi + Giveaway

Filed in Draconismoi , Giveaways , Interview , The Geeky Lover Posted on April 16, 2012 @ 7:00 am 29 comments

We are very happy to welcome draconismoi aka Cass here today. She’s a guest reviewer at our site and we thought it would be nice for all of to learn a bit more about her today. So I grilled her a bit for you. So take a drink, read the interview and take your chance to win a book of your choice. Please give Cass a warm welcome!

Susi: Cass, tell us a bit about your life outside of reading and blogging.

Draconismoi: I’m a bush lawyer in Alaska.

Get your mind out of the gutter! Not THAT kind of bush.

I work with a legal aid organization in rural Alaska. (See the map? All that stuff inside the arrows? My territory. Lots of space. Only one me.) I provide free civil legal services to people who have serious legal issues and cannot afford to pay an attorney. Lots of domestic violence custody disputes, evictions, and denials of medical care right now.

I’m also prone to tangents….as you are about to discover.

Susi: What do you love to read?

Draconismoi: Speculative Fiction. Sci fi, fantasy, horror, urban fantasy, steampunk, folk/fairy tales. I don’t care if it’s a children’s book or a 1000 page beast.

Susi: Is there a genre you try to avoid?

Draconismoi: Romance. Ugh. Particularly those pseudo-rape romances where the heroine is kidnapped/forced into relationship/sold and molested or abused in various ways until Stockholm Syndrome has a chance to set in. Now it’s TRUE LOVE. She just needed him to wake up her sexuality through abduction, imprisonment and rape.

In the historicals this always seems to end in marriage. Because now he feels just so BAD about what he did and wants to make it up to her through marriage. I presume he goes on rape and assault their staff and neighbors in various ways until he finally dies of syphilis.

The paranormals are just as bad. It wasn’t his fault! He just couldn’t help himself because they are destined to be together through mythology/gods/pheromones/creepy breeding program. Rape, of course, being the preferred way of expressing your undying eternal devotion to any person. Why didn’t she just fall naked into his lap the first moment she laid eyes on him? Any trauma she experienced was her own fault for opposing the will of the god/priest/father/scientist/unnamed patriarchal figure she should show ultimate deference too. In the slightly-less-appalling versions, she is given immortality/superpowers after the rape, so we can rest assured that sometime between now and the inevitable zombie uprising, she will carve his non-existant heart of his chest, nail it to her mantle, and wear his dried out testicles on a funky hipster accessory.

Susi: Did you ever read a romance you liked?

Draconismoi: I have unintentionally read quite a lot of paranormal romances. Particularly when they first started coming out. They were always shelved in the sf/fantasy section! Very misleading. I was a happy camper when bookstores finally caught on to the paranormal romance designation and put them in their own space. Now I see entire shelves in YA dedicated to paranormal romances. It’s a trend that is here to stay.

Maybe I should be more clear. I don’t object to romance in books. That’s fine. I just largely hate books that have no purpose other than the sexing. Plots are not just filler between sex chapters.

So. Anyways. While reading paranormal romances, I’ve found a few that I did enjoy.

The Edge by Ilona Andrews is the one that causes me the most consternation. I got it on ebook, totally expecting an urban (rural?) fantasy from the description – and the version I downloaded didn’t include that bizarre giant head cover. So I had no clue it was really just a romance until I saw the blurb for the sequel. Which I haven’t read. I’m sure I should, because I really did enjoy The Edge, and I don’t object to the main characters hooking up in fully consensual ways, But ugh, It’s a romance series! If I start getting all of them I have to admit I really enjoy some romances, and as you saw from my previous rants, I have pretty gnarly opinions about the genre.

I’m also a fan of Patricia Briggs Alpha & Omega series. I wasn’t going to keep reading after the first one, but Mercy’s been boring me lately, while I am still quite interested in Anna’s exploits. Huge bonus? No ridiculous love-triangle! Since our main characters are already married, they can focus on drama and intrigue and evil plots instead of the eternal debate over which-dude-that-wants-me-is-hotter. (Yes, Mercy, I am looking at you. The very fact that you even CONSIDERED hooking back up with Sam, Mr.-brainwash-a-child-into-loving-me, is a testament to your poor judgment).
Susi: What does a great book has to be like for you?


1) World-building. Since I read speculative fiction it’s important that I can tell the author put serious thought into the world they created, as opposed to just drunkenly scrawling a few notes on a napkin. (examples: Kage Baker’s The Company, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Doris Egan’s Ivory, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale)

2) Characters. You may have an awesome and interesting world I want to explore, but if I don’t give a damn about your characters, I am not going to keep reading. Make it a video game if you can’t handle inventing a believable person. (examples: Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels, Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate, Sheri Tepper’s Gate to Women’s Country).

Susi: Any pet peeves which would ensure you’ll hate a book?

Draconismoi: Bad writing is a big one. I cannot take a book seriously if I keep seeing grammatical errors. That will make me stop reading.

I will throw a book across the room and consider burning it in effigy if the author displays extreme misogyny/racism/homophobia.

I’m not talking about prejudices and discrimination that serve to characterize the people or society in the book (something actually serving the plot). When the plot/purpose of the book itself is inherently demeaning to a class of people? I see enough of that shit at work. I will loathe you and your work until the END OF TIME. I can hold a grudge. Try me.

Susi: If you had to choose a favorite genre which would it be?

Draconismoi: Speculative Fiction! Obviously.

Susi: And out of curiosity, would the answer have been the same 10 years ago?

Draconismoi: No. But that’s just because I hadn’t learned the umbrella term for my favorite genre. If I were to break up my favorite sub-genres in my life…..

Alternative history/historical fiction (I started out with Little House, Anne, and Nancy Drew) —– Fantasy (Hello, Pern, love the dragons) —– Science fiction (Spaceships! Other societies! Aliens! Dystopia!) —— Horror (we’re all DOOMED to die bloody awful deaths.) —— Urban Fantasy (Bring on the shapeshifters! Down with vampires!) —– YA (That phase helped me a lot in law school. My brain was too mushy to read huge complicated books, but there was so my speculative YA to devour.) —– Speculative Fictions Unite! (Currently I have no real sub-genre preference. When the mood strikes I’ll read a zombie book, then some steampunk, then a class space opera, and I’ll follow-it up with a YA alternative retelling of a classic fairy/folk tale)

Susi: How did you find your way into the blogosphere?

Draconismoi: Law school. I moved across the country, didn’t know anyone, didn’t have time to keep up with all my friends, and was trying desperately not to go insane. I started blogging. Mostly rants about the general evils in the law itself. Which turned into rants about a book I read or movie I’d seen…..and then I started getting comments from people I didn’t know. (Craziness! Who cares what I think?).

First I found the feminist blogs (holy shit I’m not the only one noticing how screwed up the world is!). This led to TV/Movie review blogs. With a feminist focus. Of course. And that gradually led to book blogs.

I didn’t start regularly interacting with book blogs until I finished law school and was un-and-underemployed for a year and a half. So much time to read! I caught up on most of my TBR pile (seriously, it was down to something completely manageable. 10 or so books). Then I got a job, and kept reading the blogs. So my TBR pile grows exponentially, and I only get minimal amounts of reading done outside the office.

If it weren’t for the advent of ebooks, I would be well on my way to starring in that episode of Hoarders with the 800,000 book hoard.

Susi: Did you ever encounter a book you wanted to praise or curse out of the feministic view? I know I do.

Draconismoi: Twilight. Obviously. It’s no worse than many other paranormal romances out there. It’s just so damn popular and I could never figure out WHY. Poorly written, under-developed world, no characterizations whatsoever, not to mention romanticizing a horrifyingly abusive relationship.

Sparkles stalks her all through the first book, breaking into her damn room to spy on her while she is sleeping. He physically assaults her when she tries to be affectionate with him, and constantly threatens her life. Later he isolates her from her friends/family by ripping the damn engine out of her car.

Then they set her infant daughter up with her ex-boyfriend. Yay for arranged child-marriages!

HOW is this not creepy to people? It terrifies me that so many young girls grow up seeing THAT is the epitome of romance. When your significant other commits any of the above acts, you call the police, get a restraining order, and move as far away as possible to protect yourself from what could very likely end in your death. Like it did in the books! After all, she did die. After he denied her medical care during her pregnancy and birth.

Susi: Reviewing can be tough, we all know that. What is harder for you a glowing review for a book you adored or describing why one didn’t work for you at all?

Draconismoi: Oh I have no trouble with the rants. The disgust is easy. It flows out of me in a never-ending river of snark.

Glowing reviews are harder. I get so excited and just want to run around telling people to READ THIS BOOK IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE SO AMAZING READ IT!!!!!!
When I’m doing book recommendations for friends its easier, because I know what types of things they like in books – so I know how to highlight the part that will appeal to them. A general audience? That’s tough.

Note: I am a kick-ass book recommender. My personal algorithms send Amazon’s recommendation service straight to hell. I cannot tell you how many times I gift/recommend a book to someone and they either:

1) Yell at me two days later because it was the first in a series and I, being an evil manipulative twat, neglected to provide them with the entire series. My dad didn’t speak to me once for a week after father’s day because he had to order the rest of the series online and it just WASN’T ARRIVING.


2) Completely ignore the recommendation for a couple years, then randomly start reading, burn through it and anything else the author has written in the interim, and call me in desperation because they NEED MORE and WHY didn’t I explain how AMAZING it was, and what can they read now since all else pales to this brilliance?

Susi: Okay I dare you tempt us with a rec. Do you worst.

Draconismoi: Feed By Mira Grant. Once the trilogy is complete I plan on doing a Which Zombie Apocalypse Kicks The Most Ass post. Mira Grant vs. Sophie Littlefield. WHO WILL REIGN SUPREME?! So you should all read up on Feed to prepare. It is set in a post-zombie world where society actually keeps trucking on – as much as it is able. Key difference? Bloggers overtook the mainstream media because back when zombies first rose, CNN laughed, and bloggers told people to shoot them in the head. Guess who is considered more reliable and trustworthy now?

Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) throws all kinds of little details in her world building that I totally love. For example, George Romero is considered a savior of the human race – and so George and all derivatives are the most popular baby names in the U.S. (Our leading ladies include Georgia and Georgette). How hilariously appropriate is that?

For those of you dead set on your vampire sex scenes, might I suggest Sunshine, by Robin McKinley? Again with the fabulous world-building and attention to detail, plus a more realistic (I know, I know, it’s vampires) description of the evolving relationship between a vampire and his dinner. Awazing. Plus, our leading lady is a chef with a dark sense of humor. I want people to make me all the foods described in the book. So I can eat myself into a diabetic coma and die happy.

Who here wanted to like the Hunger Games but found it a little too juvenile? Not enough gore? Not enough time spent watching a group of kids psychologically breaking down and turning into gibbering piles of madness before destroying any and everyone in their paths? Did you want an NC-17 rating on the movie adaptation? Then Battle Royale is the book (and movie) for you!


One lucky commenter will have the oppotunity to get one of the books mentioned in the post- winner’s choice. It doesn’t have to be one of the recommendations. 😉

Book will be ordered via Book Depository so make sure you can receive books from their site.

All you have to do is leave a meaningful comment about the interview or just ask Cass a question.
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)

Please be sure to include a valid email address in the comment form (need not be in the actual body of the comment).

This giveaway is opento all!

Giveaway ends on Saturday, April 29th, 2012; we will announce the winner on Sunday.

Good luck!

About Susi

Susi is a geeky vegetarian from Gemany. She just finished university and now works as a civil engineer in steel construction. Besides her reading addiction she also knits like a maniac while listening to audiobooks. Susi also blogs at the Secret HEA Society.

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Join the Discussion
  • Cherry Mischievous April 16, 2012 at 7:55 am

    If Cass reviews like she answers interview here, then I would like to read her book reviews! I like Cass’ snarky attitude, it makes reading reviews less tedious 🙂

    • draconismoi April 16, 2012 at 11:42 am

      I have two reviews gathering digital dust in my harddrive. I just finished a big trial, (I won!) so now I have time to get them up AND read more.

      I promise to keep the snark coming. Trust me, it never stops.

  • sienny April 16, 2012 at 10:19 am

    darn Cass.. that’s one big, huge area for one lawyer. did you travel everyday? or only if anyone contacted you?

    • draconismoi April 16, 2012 at 11:47 am

      Yes I travel a lot. But I also do a lot of work via phone, fax, and email. Judges out in the Bush are pretty lenient about lawyers appearing by phone or skype. Especially me – they all know me and know I make as much in a year as most private attorneys out here do in a month.

      So where there are huge gaps between my reviews? It probably means I am out in the internet-less (or extremely limited) bush.

      You would not believe the ridiculous lack of infrastructure up here. Alaska is not really part of the U.S. It’s its own industrializing nation. Which means things I expect (heat, hot water, high speed internet, a road system) are not always available.

      After living here I totally understand why (MINOR SPOILER ALERT) Alaska was abandoned to the zombies in Feed.

  • erinf1 April 16, 2012 at 10:30 am

    LOL! awesome interview! I love Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire also. She has 3 series out and they are so distinct and different and totally awesome. I’m a die hard fangirl now 🙂

    Thanks for all the recs… definitely going to have to check out the ones I haven’t heard of yet.

    • draconismoi April 16, 2012 at 11:52 am

      Warning: Doris Egan’s Ivory trilogy is out of print. It’s brilliant and amazing (there is even the obligatory romance between leads) and bloody difficult to find.

      But yes Mira = awesome. I am both excited for the last book in the Newsflesh trilogy, and totally devastated that it will come to an end.

  • Alisha April 16, 2012 at 10:52 am

    (not a giveaway entry comment)

    Cass: “The very fact that you even CONSIDERED hooking back up with Sam, Mr.-brainwash-a-child-into-loving-me, is a testament to your poor judgment”

    Me: BWAHAHAHA!!!! Spoke what I was thinking for the first three books in the series.

    This whole post was just a study in awesomeness. Draconismoi fan, yup.

    • draconismoi April 16, 2012 at 11:58 am

      You know, I have to say I am glad someone agrees with me. My negative opinions of Sam have been quite the bone of contention with certain friends.

      Granted they never trust my judgement when it comes to romantic leads.

      You know who else has wicked awful taste in men? Sookie Stackhouse. Sweetheart, please, for the LOVE OF YOUR ELVEN ANCESTORS, just settle down with Sam, run the bar, and have a litter of furry-mind-reading babies already. At the very least it will be a blessing on your insurance premiums.

  • aurian April 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Cass, thanks for this interview, I really enjoyed reading it. And I so agree on Twilight being so evil a rolemodel for young people. I only read the first book, and saw the first movie, and that was quit enough.
    I also had my doubts with Mercy and Sam, so i am glad she ended up with Adam, although I kept hoping for someone else, someone less overbearing alpha.

    • draconismoi April 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm

      At least it wasn’t the vampire.

  • aurian April 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Still, second answer: you love the Pern books so much, as do I. But you do know that Lessa was raped when their dragons mated? She had no idea what was going to happen.

    • draconismoi April 16, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      Yes, I know Lessa was raped – which is why I can’t re-read the early Pern books (though I do still greatly enjoy the Harper Hall books). Dragonrider was the VERY FIRST grown-up book I ever got. My step-dad bought it for me in the 3rd grade after I stole his copy of The Hobbit and wouldn’t give it back. He clearly picked it based on the lady-riding-a-dragon cover.

      The book was just so scandalous! I folded down the pages and took them to school for my friends and I to all giggle over. We weren’t too clear on the mechanics of consent being too young to really, you know, consent to any kind of sex act.

      Then I grew up. Re-read them….and, sigh. Rape, rape, rapey-rapetimes.

  • Susan April 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Great interview!

    The Mira Grant books are part of my huge TBR mountain. I have the third one ordered, so I guess I need to get crackin’ at some point.

    Agree with you about both Sams! I can understand why Mercy would want to help Sam out because of the relationship they once had, but I was not in favor of the two of them rekindling anything. On the other hand, I’ve been counting on Sookie ending up with her Sam ever since the first book. All of her detours with other guys have really bothered me. Except Eric. I was OK with her hooking up with him as long as it was temporary. There’s no future with a vampire. Sookie especially needs stability, to nurture her roots in the community, and to eventually have kids. If she doesn’t end up w/ Sam, I’m going to be really miffed. 🙂

    • draconismoi April 16, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      I have a running bet going with a friend as to how many books it will take Charlaine Harris to kill off Sookie’s cousin so she can become an insta-mom to the telepathic kid.

      I just skimmed the last book while waiting in a checkout line to see if it had happened yet. I am SO going to close. Ms. Harris is showing far more restraint on that front than I expected.

  • MJB April 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Hi, Cass. Quite an interview! I was speaking to another book blog reviewer the other day and we were talking about writing reviews for books we did not like and the fact that she won’t put up a review that she gives less than 3 start to. I’m partial to snarkiness myself, but I’m not sure I’d be comfortable putting a review up that could be taken on the meaner side of snark. I thought your comments were right up there. I found my self going..ouch! /not that you’re wrong, but I would be afraid if you wrote a review of one of my books (if I had any!).
    msmjb65 AT gmail DOT com

    • draconismoi April 16, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      I admit I feel kinda bad when I’ve been emailing authors and they are all nice about giving me a free copy of their books – so I make a point of mentioning the things I liked too. That way people can take my snark in context. The only books that would really need to fear my wrath are those with absolutely no redeeming qualities. Such as Twilight. I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey, but I feel quite confident I would have nothing positive to say about that either.

      There are so many good books out in the world that I tend to filter those I’d utterly despise without actually reading them. I only read Twilight when I…..ah…..acquired…..a digital copy of it in a collection of Horror ebooks back in school.

  • blodeuedd April 16, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Wow, that sure is a big area!

    Oh and I am so without you on those idiotic books where the heroine gets raped by the hero, and then suddenly she loves him and they live happily ever after. I read one of those, my friend read it later even though I said it sucked and then we threw it in the trash

    • draconismoi April 16, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      Whoo! Cathartic book destruction!

      I am an attorney dedicated to protecting human and civil rights, so I abhor censorship in any form.

      But there is something wonderful about physically manifesting rage/disgust at a truly awful book.

      You don’t get that with ebooks. Delete? Meh. LAME. But with a paper book you can throw it against the wall, run it over with your car….fail to intervene when a 100lb puppy decides it looks delicious. (True story. It was one of the Twilight books. Good Boy! Of course, then I had to absolutely bar him from my room since he discovered that books were so much fun).

  • bn100 April 17, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Very nice interview. Thanks for the book recommendations. The books sound very interesting.

  • Mary Preston April 17, 2012 at 3:43 am

    My daughter read BATTLE ROYALE & said I must read it. She loved it. I am a big fan of Terry Pratchett too. I have added to my wish list here today thank you.

    • draconismoi April 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

      My uncle loved it too – but I didn’t suggest my mom read it. She doesn’t really like gore. I know she loved The Hunger Games because of the pomp and family dynamics.

      But YES to Terry Pratchett. I did me thesis in college on the sociopolitical ramifications of exposure to SF/Fantasy. And during the course of my research I found out that Terry Pratchett was responsible for something like 17% of all fantasy sales. Heh. (This was in 2004/2005). His awesomeness singlehandedly revived the fantasy genre before it was totally overtaken by brooding supernatural alpha males and snarky supernatural ladies.

  • JessS April 17, 2012 at 6:29 am

    I hate bad writing as well! Spelling/grammar mistakes in a book are terrible, and one of the reasons that I’m a little hesitant about some self published/ebooks.
    Also I had to read The Handmaid’s Tale for school and completely agree that it has amazing world building, and I actually really liked the book even though most of my friends didn’t.
    Since you said Twilight is similar to many paranormals out there I was wondering if there are any in particular that you feel are just as bad feminist wise?
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    • draconismoi April 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      Oh there are PLENTY that are just as bad feminist-wise. The whole romanticizing of abusive behavior is prevalent throughout the genre. But he’s a VAMPIRE and you are his TRUE MATE so of course he stalked you for years, and kills any other man you ever spend too much time looking at, and forced you to move from city-to-city conducting menial work in an effort to be free of him.

      Freely substitute “vampire” for “any other supernatural creature” and mix up the details of being in hiding….and you have have 75% of the ebook paranormal romance/erotica genre.*

      Some of them are even worse than Twilight with really blatant and brutal rapes that are brushed under the rug later. I recall one series where the women would occasionally send out this pheromone that caused all men near them to go into a sexual frenzy. Instant-gang rape. The woman in question totally blocked all memory of the attacks. They never told her BECAUSE IT WAS FOR HER OWN GOOD, but still put her in multiple situations where it happened again, never once taking responsibility for the fact that these “protectors” (because some shady organization was hunting the poor woman) were repeatedly raping her and congratulating themselves for it. What else were they going to do? Couldn’t let her just wander around in the world all covered in pheromones. Somebody ELSE might rape her. And that would be terrible.

      Do I remember what it was called? No. Did I finish reading? HELL NO. But these books aren’t as well-publicized as Twilight, so though the feminist rage is there – it’s not nearly as prevalent.

      *These statistics come from the Institute of Pulled Out of My Ass, courtesy of the Department of Wild Guessing Based on Limited Exposure.

  • Victoria Zumbrum April 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Cass what other genres do you like to read? What inspired you to be a writer?

  • draconismoi April 17, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I still have a fondness for alternative histories and other historical fiction….though let’s be honest, it’s basically fantasy w/o magic or steampunk w/o gears.

    I used to read legal thrillers (John Grisham) or suspense (Catherine Coulter)….but they aren’t as fun for me now that I’m a lawyer. I keep getting distracted when things are JUST SO NOT POSSIBLE. I imagine if I were an expert martial artist or swordswoman I would have similar problems reading a lot of urban fantasy. As it is I can’t watch lawyer shows either. Unless they are coupled with a drinking game. Take a shot every time you see a constitutional violation! (Yes, I really am that huge of a nerd. And yes we played that game in law school.)

    Most of my non-speculative fiction reading is non-fiction. Legal writing. Treatises. Political tomes. Feminist theory. All work related. Though I did just buy this book about Food Law. FOOD LAW!!! I am going to start patenting my recipes. And I’ll never eat American chocolate again. (Seriously, have you ever heard of the chocolate wars? It will change your chocolate life.)

  • Tiffany Drew April 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    It’s always refreshing to find another anti-Twilighter. I actually haven’t read the books, but after watching five random minutes of the first movie I knew it was a bad idea. I still can’t understand how people can eat it up like they do. Creepy!!! Your snarkiness is awesome, by the way. I envy it 🙂

  • draconismoi April 20, 2012 at 1:33 am

    I know a lot of anti-Twlighters, but not so many who hate it on purely feminist grounds.

  • donnas April 21, 2012 at 1:15 am

    Great interview. You definitely have what must be an interesting yet time intensive job. I have been thinking about reading Feed for a while now. Think I will have to get to it sooner than I was thinking.

  • kimh April 29, 2012 at 3:58 am

    your job sounds interesting , reviewing books is fun, have not watch any of the vampire series, thandk for the giveway

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