Six Degrees of Separation: The Dry to Let it Snow

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly blog event hosted by Kate at booksaremyfavoriteandbest. It’s inspired by the 6 Degrees of Separation, a movie game where you attempt to connect actors in six movies or less. But we do it with books!

This month we’re starting with The Dry by Jane Harper


I know literally NOTHING about The Dry! It is a thriller/mystery/crime/something, and it was the author’s first novel. That’s all I got. So I’m doing a title connection to…

Continue reading “Six Degrees of Separation: The Dry to Let it Snow”

Review: Whiskey When We’re Dry

Whiskey When We’re Dry by John Larison

Genres: Western, Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 4
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


In the spring of 1885, seventeen-year-old Jessilyn Harney finds herself orphaned and alone on her family’s homestead. Desperate to fend off starvation and predatory neighbors, she cuts off her hair, binds her chest, saddles her beloved mare, and sets off across the mountains to find her outlaw brother Noah and bring him home. A talented sharpshooter herself, Jess’s quest lands her in the employ of the territory’s violent, capricious Governor, whose militia is also hunting Noah–dead or alive. 

Wrestling with her brother’s outlaw identity, and haunted by questions about her own, Jess must outmaneuver those who underestimate her, ultimately rising to become a hero in her own right.


Let me start off by saying that this was my first western, so this is by no means an especially knowledgeable or well-informed opinion.

I suppose it makes sense to start first with authenticity. Again, bearing in mind that my only context for this novel is Bugs Bunny cartoons, Whiskey When We’re Dry felt to me as authentic as they come. I felt like I was reading some classic like Lonesome Dove, or like I was living in the unsettled California frontier. The dialogue, the scenery, the whiskey, it all rang so true and clear. The Wild West didn’t feel Holleywood-ized, but as bleak and barren and desperate as it must actually have been.

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Discussion: Problematic Content in Historical Fiction

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts the other day, and they started talking about Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, a book which remains the only Steampunk novel I’ve actually enjoyed. I admit I was a little taken aback when the hosts mentioned that they had a problem with the way Priest talked about Chinese-Americans in the novel. Many of her characters are outright racist, but then what else would you expect from the Civil War era? I hadn’t batted an eye-lid at it when reading.

But as I started thinking about it, this is something I have noticed people critiquing other historical fiction for as well. Specifically the two things I most often see historical fiction critiqued for is racism or inclusion of asylums.

As I am right in the middle of reading a historical fiction novel with some extremely offensive language right at this moment, I thought I would take a second to weigh in.

First of all, let me start by saying that we can not go back and change the past. Like or not, people in the past made mistakes. They were racist, they were anti-gay, they didn’t know how to handle mental health problems, they killed people who were inconvenient to them. The past SUCKED. I don’t know why it is that we are so drawn to it, but there it is.

So the way I see it, any author writing a historical fiction novel has three choices for how to deal with history’s problems:

  1. Ignore the problem all-together. Make everyone white, straight, and healthy.
  2. Put the diversity in there, but make your characters okay with it, even if that means losing some authenticity.
  3. Write your novel authentically, even if that means leaving in some problematic content.
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Burnout Solution Check-In

So way back in June I wrote a post about how I was getting burnt out on YA, mostly because I was reading sooooooo much of it. I’ve always been a reader who prefers lots of variety, and tend to read any old thing that catches my interest. But since I started blogging I’ve been reading lots of YA books.

My solution that I devised for myself was that I separated my books into loose “genres”, and read one from each before I could do any repeats.

The good news: it’s going GREAT! I’ve read so many AMAZING books this year, and several of them are books I probably wouldn’t have ever picked up if I hadn’t started this process. In particular I’ve read three SciFi’s that I’ve loved, and a couple really good mysteries, which were genres I’d definitely been neglecting. I’ve been very happy with each and every book I’ve picked up in the last six months, and I’ve felt so refreshed. It’s nice knowing every single book is going to be a change of pace!

The things that need to be improved: since I was primarily focused on reading more genre fiction, everything else got sort of lumped together. Historical fiction, chick-lit/contemporary, literary fiction, they all got kind of thrown together. The result is that I’ve read exactly zero literary fiction since then. And while it’s not my favorite genre, there’s a couple of literary fiction novels that have been sitting on my tbr for years, and at this rate I’ll never get to them! I also haven’t read a lot of historical fiction, and that IS one of my favorite genres. Continue reading “Burnout Solution Check-In”