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Smart Podcast, Trashy Books: Reviews, Interviews, and Discussion About All the Romance Novels You Love to Read

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Rank #174 in Books category

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Books
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Each week on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, Sarah Wendell interviews authors, readers, reviewers, bloggers, publishing professionals, editors, and librarians about romance novels, which are among the most popular genres in fiction worldwide. Popular guests include: Ilona Andrews, Robin Bradford, NPR's Barrie Hardymon, Jaye Wells, and Rachel Aaron. Amanda, Carrie, Elyse, and RedHeadedGirl, the crew of reviewers at SB-TB.com, also make frequent appearances with maximum silliness. Frequent topics include romance novels, the way the genre is changing, and the brilliant and interesting people who read, write, and produce it, and issues common among romance readers. Plus, we always recommend some books we're reading and really enjoying. Learn more at SB-TB.com/Podcast.

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Each week on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, Sarah Wendell interviews authors, readers, reviewers, bloggers, publishing professionals, editors, and librarians about romance novels, which are among the most popular genres in fiction worldwide. Popular guests include: Ilona Andrews, Robin Bradford, NPR's Barrie Hardymon, Jaye Wells, and Rachel Aaron. Amanda, Carrie, Elyse, and RedHeadedGirl, the crew of reviewers at SB-TB.com, also make frequent appearances with maximum silliness. Frequent topics include romance novels, the way the genre is changing, and the brilliant and interesting people who read, write, and produce it, and issues common among romance readers. Plus, we always recommend some books we're reading and really enjoying. Learn more at SB-TB.com/Podcast.

iTunes Ratings

269 Ratings
Average Ratings
234
23
5
3
4

I love Sarah

By Neil Plakcy - Dec 25 2019
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And I could listen to her for hours. Her podcasts are always fascinating and peppered with interesting insights, and she and her guests always have such a good time that I feel welcomed in as a listener.

Amazing podcast!!

By twinhck - Apr 02 2018
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Such a thoughtful and amazing podcast!!

iTunes Ratings

269 Ratings
Average Ratings
234
23
5
3
4

I love Sarah

By Neil Plakcy - Dec 25 2019
Read more
And I could listen to her for hours. Her podcasts are always fascinating and peppered with interesting insights, and she and her guests always have such a good time that I feel welcomed in as a listener.

Amazing podcast!!

By twinhck - Apr 02 2018
Read more
Such a thoughtful and amazing podcast!!
Cover image of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books: Reviews, Interviews, and Discussion About All the Romance Novels You Love to Read

Smart Podcast, Trashy Books: Reviews, Interviews, and Discussion About All the Romance Novels You Love to Read

Latest release on Jan 24, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 3 days ago

Rank #1: 381. Our Favorite Books of the Year, Part One: Lara, Tara, Carrie S and Charlotte

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In the next few episodes, you’ll hear from the SBTB reviewing team as we talk about our favorite books of the year. Lara joins us from South Africa to tell us about the books, fiction and nonfiction, that she read this year that made her feel good about herself. Tara joins us from Calgary, Canada, to talk about romances she read that changed her perspective - and taught her some history of lesbian pulp fiction. Carrie S. revisits zombie horror she adored and books that helped her get out of bed to fight the good fight, and Charlotte talks about revisiting her reading over the past year and how many books she loved.

I hope you enjoy this reading recap, and that you share with us your favorite books that you read in the past year, too!

Right now, for a limited time, you can get 3 months of Audible for just $6.95 a month. That’s more than half off the regular price. Choose 1 audiobook and 2 Audible Originals absolutely free. Visit audible.com/TRASHYBOOKS or text TRASHYBOOKS to 500-500.

Dec 13 2019

1hr 4mins

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Rank #2: 281. Alyssa Cole and Alisha Rai: Romance and the Resistance from Politics and Prose

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Hooray! Thanks to Politics and Prose on the Wharf, I have the audio of the November 29, 2017, panel with Alisha Rai and Alyssa Cole. We talk about their favorite scenes in one another’s books, and which character is an homage to Alisha’s dating life (heads up for the Alisha Rai Dating Story Fans, we have a great one in here). We also discuss joy, romance, and the ambition of happiness as elements of resistance, how to persevere with happiness when things around you are bleak, and what happens when you Google “sexy grilled cheese sandwiches.”

Jan 12 2018

1hr 13mins

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Rank #3: 318. Sharp Academics and Paranormal Romance: An Interview with Kelly Baker, PhD, and Tressie McMillan Cottom, PhD

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Today I’m talking with two nifty academics, so get ready to maybe take notes. I’m talking with Tressie McMillan Cottom, PhD, sociology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Kelly Baker, PhD, who studies racist politics, sexism in the academy, white supremacy, and zombies.

Both are writers, and both are major fans of paranormal romance. They snuck paranormal romances to read during grad school, they hid their love of romances, and dealt with being shunned and shamed for loving the genre.

We talk about how reading fills in gaps in knowledge about culture and history, and we also discuss: 

- How romance and genre fiction broadened their understanding of worlds outside their own

- Their take on anyone who can or tries to remove the politics from anything - including historical romance

- The idea that history can somehow not be political (?!)

- The ways that romance, specifically fantasy and paranormal romance, interrogates race, society, gender, and colonialism - and the ways that it does not

- The politics of escape fantasy in different romance genres

- The politics of who is permitted to get angry in a written world

Plus we take a hilarious deep critical dive into Dr. Cottom’s love of Hallmark movies - and how they are talked about as “unpolitical” as well. She talks, after some prodding, about how she reads Hallmark films. Here’s a hint: they’re alarmingly similar to a very specific romance genre, and it’s not contemporary. Get ready to have your mind blown and also laugh a lot, too.

Sep 28 2018

1hr 9mins

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Rank #4: 351. Hidden Gems in Romance and Listener Email with Amanda & Sarah

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Amanda and I are chatting about making recommendations on Instagram, and about hidden gems in romance that maybe don’t get enough attention or mentions. We cover a lot of books here. We discuss books that we love through the lens of nostalgia, and older titles we are wary to suggest to newer readers of romance. We talk about scenery porn, and I also use the word “charming” too much. Sorry.

We also answer listener email, and talk about traveling with siblings, plus we answer a question from a reader who has some questions about sexuality.

Stay tuned for bonus book and lipstick recs from Amanda at the end.

Thanks to Lauren, Paroma, and Anonymous for email!

May 17 2019

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Rank #5: 364. Love, Romance, and Beautiful Friendships: Melody and Erin from Heaving Bosoms Podcast

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Today I’m chatting with Erin and Melody from the Heaving Bosoms Podcast and it is so much fun. There is so much laughing.

Does the dog bark? Yes.

Are they each other’s biggest fans? Absolutely.

Is this delightful? Totally.

Don’t miss the part where they reveal the secret ingredient to everything.

TW/CW: at about 35 minutes in, there's a discussion of old skool romances, and in particular a Johanna Lindsey viking romance with some on-page assault.

Aug 16 2019

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Rank #6: 285. Labyrinth, Girl Scout Cookies, and Good Book Noise: An Interview with S. Jae-Jones

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Amanda and I interview S. Jae-Jones, also known as JJ, about pretty much everything. Ready to learn? JJ was kind enough to answer all our nosy questions and our conversation was a LOT of fun. We cover a bunch of topics, including:

How being an editorial assistant prepared her for a career as an author - and what secret knowledge (not really secret) she shares with fellow writers.

How Labyrinth, Phantom of the Opera, the myth of Hades and Persephone, The Magic Flute, fanfic communities, and fandom terms influence her writing.

How she navigates the issue of sexxytimes in YA with her own writing.

And, in a key portion of this interview, we discuss the parameters of identifying Which Girl Scout Cookie Are You? Spoiler alert: Amanda has very strong opinions about peanut butter, Girl Scout cookies, and oatmeal.

JJ also discusses bi-polar characters, writing mental illness, writing with mental illness, making Cho Chang the heroine of a magical world, and how head canons help her with feelings of isolation.

This interview goes everywhere, and sometimes the audio is a little muddy, for which I apologize. But fear not! We have an extra-strength collection of recommendations from JJ, complete with Good Book Noise®, creepy stories, and books that are hard to describe but should be required reading. Heads up: she likes to read books specifically looking for the romances, so this is a tasty recommendation list indeed.

Feb 09 2018

1hr 25mins

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Rank #7: 310. Heroine Sociopaths and Emotional Suspense: An Interview with Victoria Helen Stone

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First: my apologies. In this recording, Victoria sounds terrific. I’m somewhere underwater, and predominantly on the right side. Egads. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but I apologize in advance. But hey, this conversation is so interesting because of what she has to say!

Victoria Helen Stone, also known as romance author Victoria Dahl, has a new book out, Jane Doe [bookmention slug="jane-doe"]. I read it in one sitting - it was terrifyingly good. Her heroine, Jane, is a self-acknowledged sociopath, and hanging out in her head was quite an experience as she gets revenge on someone who did irreparable harm to her best friend. In this interview, we talk about shifting from romance to revenge thrillers - or as Stone calls them, Emotional Suspense.

We also discuss:

The catharsis of addressing double standards and processing rage through her writing.

The enjoyment of burning shit down.

The use of genre terms such as “women’s fiction,” “chick lit,” “psychological thrillers,” and “book club fiction.”

The empowerment of women taking control, including when they lose control.

The freeing experience of writing Jane Doe, a sociopathic heroine who has zero self-doubt, and being inside the head of a person who is determined to exact complete and total revenge.

Among her recommendations, we talk about safe spaces to explore kink in romance fiction, and her frustrations with the horror genre.

Stay tuned to the end of the interview where she drops this fascinating idea:

“Romance and horror are the flip sides of the same human drive to survive.”

CW: We talk about gas lighting, harassment, school shootings, entitlement, the foundations of emotionally abusive relationships, and then have an in-depth discussion of sociopathy.

Aug 03 2018

53mins

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Rank #8: 354. Six Books Amanda’s Excited About, and Other Stories from BEA 2019

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Amanda was at Book Expo America 2019, and she has books to recommend, titles to squee about, and a definite predilection for candles and reading cover blurbs, too.

We talk about her impressions of this year’s BEA, who it’s for, and how it’s changed over her time working in various parts of publishing. We also talk about how much Amanda likes reading blurbs on the covers of new books.

We talk about so many upcoming releases that aren’t available yet, so we’re very sorry in advance. Key terms to listen for: “claustrophobic thriller” and “snakes are having a moment.”

Plus we talk about what Amanda’s reading right now.

CW/TW: Amanda tells some stories about wrangling snakes in her childhood - so if you’re not on board with snake discussion, heads up at 39 minutes in, when Amanda mentions snake stores, you might want to skip ahead about a minute total.

So, what about you? Would you want to attend BEA? Do you like meetings? Do you read blurbs from other writers on the covers of books? I'm curious!

Jun 06 2019

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Rank #9: 240. Extraordinary Optimism Through History: An Interview with Alyssa Cole

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Sarah chats with author Alyssa Cole about her much-anticipated new book, An Extraordinary Union, an espionage romance set in the Civil War. They discuss the behind the scenes details of the cover development - and the cover is stunning, so it clearly all worked perfectly. They also talk about persevering through painful history, finding inspiration and comfort in how humans have overcome and pushed forward despite terrible obstacles, researching and writing about historical figures that many people don’t know about, and the real individuals who inspired different aspects of her characters. Plus, they have a lively conversation about Alyssa’s living abroad in Martinique, immigration, culture shock, language barriers, and feeling at ease in a community.

Sometimes the connection was uneven and there are some crackles in the audio - my apologies. Alyssa lives in the caribbean, so it was a long, long, very long distance recording!

Mar 31 2017

56mins

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Rank #10: 311. A Nerdy Bookish Deep Dive into My Oxford Year with Julia Whelan

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After we recorded our interview about My Oxford Year, author Julia Whelan asked if I ever did more spoiler-heavy analytical conversations about books after they’re published. Well, we do now!

In this episode, we do a deep-dive into the book, the themes and Easter eggs hidden within it, and the structural and stylistic decisions that went into the creation of the story. If you haven’t read it and you think you might want to, beware of all the spoilers herein.

We talk poetry, and the reasons to tell a story with a big twist. We talk about the ways information is hidden in first person present tense narratives, and why trust is a big component of making that narrative choice work. We talk about grief and the challenge of perseverance when facing and departing from loss, and how writers have communicated grief. I also have questions from folks on Twitter, and from the Patreon community as well. There’s a lot of nerdy literary talk, so if you’re a book nerd, welcome! Come join us! The water’s fine.

Thanks to folks who supported the podcast Patreon, and to folks on Twitter who asked thoughtful questions: Sarah Rider, Ellen Grafton, Cat McGuire, Hayley Ann Gienow-McConnell, and Megan Larsen.

Aug 10 2018

1hr 11mins

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Rank #11: 276. An Interview With RWA President Elect HelenKay Dimon

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This week, I have a long conversation with prior guest of the podcast and Romance Writers of America President-elect HelenKay Dimon, who is also the author of more than fifty romances. We talk about what exactly RWA is, and what it does, what it means to be on the board, and what it means to be President-Elect. We discuss the changes in recent years and what the goals of the organization are, and we talk about some of the more problematic books that have been RITA finalists over the past few years as well. And of course, we cover what books she’s reading, writing, and buying immediately due to Twitter and Facebook recommendations.

Dec 08 2017

1hr 28mins

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Rank #12: 243. Discovering Romance and Navigating Approval: An Interview with Faith Salie

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Sarah chats with author, speaker, and television and radio journalist Faith Salie about Authorized, her Audible program on Sex and Romance in which many of our favorite romance authors are featured, and about the CBS Sunday Morning segment in which Sarah appeared. They talk about Faith’s book, Approval Junkie, which is out in paperback this week. There are new words to learn, discussions of measuring your own success, and behind-the-scenes details about the production of television segments. Plus, they have a rather meta conversation about listening and interviewing. (There’s an entire chapter in Faith’s book on interviewing and listening, and it’s incredibly thought provoking and engaging.) There’s also a fair amount of mutual admiration.

And! I'm giving away four copies of Approval Junkie, Faith's book, now out in paperback. Head over to SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.com/podcast and enter to win a copy! Open until 27 April 2017.

Apr 21 2017

1hr 5mins

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Rank #13: 342. Stories are Everything: Learning about Narratology with Arkady Martine

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The suggestion for this guest came from EC Spurlock - thank you, thank you!

Today I’m speaking with Arkady Martine, also known as Dr. AnnaLinden Weller. As Arkady Martine, she’s a science fiction and fantasy writer, and as Dr. Weller, she’s a Byzantine scholar, a narratologist, and also a city planner. There was a tense moment where I almost scrapped the whole interview to ask about city planning, but no, we’re going to talk about narratology!

Arkady recently wrote an essay on Tor.com that introduced me to narratology as a field, and I emailed to ask if she’d be willing to talk more about the subject on a podcast. So if you haven’t heard of narratology - which, essentially, is the study of how a story works - buckle up because it’s nerdy deep dive time. I brought enough snacks for everyone.

We talk about:

Terminology used by narratologists, and how it differs from terms readers use.

How cognitive narratology explores a very cool question: “How does the brain respond to experiencing narratives?”

The rules of world building and the meaning of “story world.”

The multiple meanings of the term “News Stories” and the powerful impossibility of getting someone to change the way they understand the world.

And of course we talk about what she’s reading - and her upcoming science fiction novel, A Memory Called Empire.

Key concept from this episode? Everything is a narrative. Everything is a story - and we can learn a lot from understanding why and how a story works.

Mar 15 2019

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Rank #14: 279. The Bitches Look Back at 2017

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Amanda, Carrie, Elyse, RedHeadedGirl and I sit down to look back at 2017, the things we enjoyed and treasured, and the books we loved that got us through the year. We talk a little about the high-grade, high-potency medicinal romances we discovered this year, and what authors we count on for that kind of read. We cover movies, music, and other uplifting pieces of entertainment that give us a lift this year. Expect many recommendations!

Dec 29 2017

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Rank #15: 380. Tropes and Good Books are Eternal: A Snortlaugh with Angela James

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Today my guest is Editor and Digital Grandmaster Angela James. Angie and I have known each other for a long honking time - over 14 years, we think. So in between snort laughing and talking about friendship, we talk about her new editorial venture and business following the elimination of her position at Carina Press. If you’re curious about editing and how that process works, get ready to learn all the things.

Music: https://www.purple-planet.com

Dec 06 2019

1hr 12mins

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Rank #16: 304. “You Have a Type and it Might be Mullets” – Sarah, Amanda, and Elyse are VERY Silly About Books and Villainy

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If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like when we hang out in a room together, well, this episode is for you. And if you need a lot of silly laughter, this is definitely the episode for you.

While we were at Romantic Times BookLovers Convention in May, we recorded two podcasts, which I should not ever do again because it makes the editing quite a challenge. This is Part one, which is Incredibly Silly.

We recorded after dinner one night, s o we’re Sleepy and Goofy (and perhaps also Doc and Dopey - I’m definitely Dopey). We talk about books we are interested in or have seen at RT, and then we get really silly. Our discussion includes:

1. Why does Amanda have a weakness for Val Kilmer?

2. How does Amanda rank the Hemsworths in order of physical density?

3. How does Amanda rank the Real Housewives franchises in terms of quality?

4. How bad of a style icon was Anita Blake?

5. How many Alfreds were there in the Batman film franchise?

6. What fanfics are Elyse and Amanda’s favorite?

7. Which Backstreet Boy was Amanda and Elyse’s favorite?

8. Can Amanda and Elyse find a villain hero that interests me? (Spoiler alert: nope).

This is what happens when Sarah, Amanda, and Elyse get really silly, and stop making sense. And given that this has been A Rough Week, we hope you enjoy our completely bubbly, goofy, discussion.

Jun 22 2018

1hr 13mins

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Rank #17: 335. Sweet Valley Nostalgia: An Interview with Karyn Moynihan and Anna Carey from the Double Love Podcast

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If you are familiar with the Dairy Burger, the chocolate bar, Nicholas Morrow, Winter Carnival, and 1BRUCE1, well, this episode is for you.

Sometimes I get to interview people whose work I admire, and it is SO much fun. Today I’m chatting with Karyn Moynihan and Anna Carey from the Sweet Valley High podcast, Double Love.

We start by talking about Irish slang, and then we get into what it is about Sweet Valley High that creates so much opportunity for examination, even decades after they were first published. They contain a mix of nostalgia and camp, and there’s no limit of, as Karen and Anna say, strange and terrifying things to talk about in the world of Sweet Valley.

We begin with how they found Sweet Valley, and what led them to start a podcast about each book. We also discuss:

How many people have some familiarity, if not fluency, in Sweet Valley lore.

What an Irish book token is, and how badly I want one.

The terrible messages contained in the series world regarding dating, sexuality, masculinity, healthy body weight, class, consent, and generally existing in the world. To say nothing of the kissing booths (ugh).

They’re compelling! Ridiculous! Campy! Addictive! So of course we talk about them, and about what they say, and how much some of the more horrific parts shock us today.

You also get a little nostalgia from me about my college’s beauty pageant, which was indeed a real thing, and we talk about what they’re reading.

TWO MAJOR NOTES of the Content and Trigger variety.

First: at around 41:00, we talk about and criticize the messages about body image and fat shaming that are rampant in Sweet Valley.

Second: I'm doing a little something different for this episode. During the recording, we talked a little about the Irish referendum to repeal the 8th amendment, which banned abortion in Ireland. Both Anna and Karyn campaigned actively and after the amendment was overturned by a very wide margin, they talked about it on one of the episodes of Double Love - and their exhausted joy and relief was incredibly reassuring to me as I listened.

So I asked them about it, about the 8th amendment, and what for them has been a lifetime of activism on behalf of women.

However, because they discuss the details of some of the horrible events caused by the 8th amendment that may be triggering for some listeners, I’ve relocated this conversation so that it’s after the outro, and after the music.

That way, if you’d like to hear our conversation about the referendum, their activism to overturn the amendment, and the inspiration of actually winning a thing that you worked for, you can do so, but if details of assault and abortion activism are not for you, you won’t miss any other part of the interview.

And if you want to cry a little (or a lot), here’s one of the #HometoVote videos of people who traveled around the world to go home to Ireland to vote:

Jan 25 2019

1hr 43mins

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Rank #18: 322. Breaking Up with Damaging Conventions in Romance: A Conversation with Kate Cuthbert

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Today I’m chatting with Kate Cuthbert. Until very recently, Kate was the Managing Editor of Escape Publishing, Harlequin Australia. This was recorded while she still worked in that position. She’s recently accepted a new position as the Program Manager at Writers Victoria, the Victoria Australia state-wide professional organization for writers. Congrats!

Kate recently gave a keynote speech at Romance Writers of Australia that received a lot of attention after it was posted online. She addressed the tropes that are damaging, toxic, and regressive, and explained that maybe it’s time we broke up with them.

I read her speech online, but because speeches are meant to be heard, I asked her if she’d both talk about the development of her speech, and read it again for you all.

It’s very thought provoking and affectionate while being critical and I think attentive to what the genre says to readers. She talks about dubious consent, making deliberate choices about writing, and what our defaults in tropes, character type, and cliche really mean, or actually say beneath the familiarity.

We also talk about hot fox characters (because reasons), and of course she recommends a book that’s been passed around the office to everyone who’s had a rough day. Stay tuned for that, for sure.

Oct 26 2018

1hr 6mins

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Rank #19: 369. It Never Stops Being Magical: History, Books, and Romance with Olivia Waite

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[bookaside="the-ladys-guide-to-celestial-mechanics"] Today I’m chatting with Olivia Waite about everything. We talk about being romance nerds, lost historical details, the hidden arts of embroidery and sewing, textile porn romances, and making a home. We squee about tv shows we love, books we adore, and we talk about what she’s working on now, both in her column at Seattle Review of Books and in her romance fiction.

Do we take a side trip to Finnish declensions? Sure, why not? 

Special Note! Use coupon code " TRASHYBOOKS " for $10 off your first box at www.fabfitfun.com!

Sep 20 2019

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Rank #20: 367. The Vagina Bible, Shoes, and Other Essentials: A Conversation with Dr. Jen Gunter

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Today I’m chatting with Dr. Jen Gunter, author of The Vagina Bible, and host of the new CBC show Jensplaining. Yes, it’s a Canadian show, and yes, I’m jealous. 

We talk about debunking junk science, and how pervasive bad information is about vaginas and vulvas. We talk about vagina pain, caring for trans patients, and sources for good information. And we take a long detour through shoes, because obviously. Priorities.

Key point from this episode: “Misinformation and disinformation about your body is the opposite of feminism.”

TW/ CW:
At about 12:00 there is mention of child death.

And at about 27:00 there's a detailed discussion of fat shaming , mental health shaming, and junk science messaging in Marianne Williamson’s books.

Sep 06 2019

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