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Tarnished by Karnina Cooper is a steampunk, mystery, paranormal book staring Cherry St. Croix. Cherry is a high society outcast who instead of going to parties would rather spend her time preforming experiments. She is an orphan and unfortunately has not come into her inheritance yet and must work as a bounty hunter to make up for what her allowance doesn’t cover.

Something Cherry’s allowance doesn’t cover is her opium addiction. Cooper, at least in this novel, doesn’t portray this as a bad thing, it’s hard to tell if this is because the book from Cherry’s point of view. Cherry’s addiction doesn’t seem to be terribly awful, she is never really afraid of going through withdrawal. She also is using the drug, like many addicts do, to self-medicate. Cherry has terrible nightmares and the only way she can get a good night sleep is drugged.

Cooper set up in this book the drama for a love triangle in the next books of the series. Cherry gets to choose between the Earl, Cornelius Kerrigan Compton, who is in good standing with society, and Micajah Hawke, who is part of the literal underbelly of London. I loved the idea of London being split, high society is up on stilts in the London sky to get away from the smog and the rest of the people are still on the ground. This means flying gondolas! It’s a great take on steampunk London.

This could be an incredible series as long as Copper doesn’t exchange fast paced mysteries for drawn out angst over which man to choose.

Does it pass the Bechdel test?



Child molestation

Child abuse


Drug use

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)


Redefining Realness

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redefining realness

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock is a memoir about Janet discovering and living her truth. For Mock this truth is that she’s trans* but that is not all that defines her. Unfortunately while Mock has many traits the one that she had the hardest time to come to terms with was her gender.

“I often say I always knew I was a girl since the age of three or four, a time when I began cataloging my memories. No one-not my mother, my grandmother, my father or my siblings- gave me any reason to believe that I was anything other than my parents’ firstborn son, my father’s namesake. But it was my very first conviction, the first thing I grew certain of as a young person. When I say I always knew I was a girl with such certainty, I erase all the nuances, the work, the process of self-discovery. I’ve adapted I always knew I was a girl as a defense against the louder world, which has told me-ever since I left Mom’s body in that pink hospital atop a hill in Honolulu- that my girlhood was imaginary, something made up that needed to be fixed” (pg 16)

This quote replayed in my head all day after I read it. I can’t even begin to imagine needing to edit part of your story so it fits better with the current accepted narrative.  When Mock first meets her boyfriend she can’t believe how easy he talks about his past. She marvels at it, and wonders what it would be like to just be able to talk about it without fear of rejection.

Mock takes the reader through her journey starting when she is a young boy in Hawaii to living her truth in New York and finding the love of her life.  She doesn’t gloss over any part of her journey which makes for a heart wrenching and inspiring tale.

Mock’s story of triumph is all too rare, most trans people aren’t this lucky. Want a scary statistic? Mocks group is the one most liking to be prayed on, abused and murdered. Can you imagine living your life knowing you’re one wrong person away from being killed and most people wouldn’t fault them for killing you? The life that these woman are forced to live is shameful. The fact that we have and continue to allow any group of people to face this kind of hate on a daily basis is despicable.

This book has been on my to read list for so long and I don’t know why I waited.  This book makes me want to run down a crowded street and yell at everyone to read it.  

Trigger Warnings:

Child Abuse

Child molestation

Does it pass the Bechdel test?


*any and all description terms I use in this review are Mock’s. This review is about Mock’s story, not my white, cis one.

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)