laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Kumiko x Reina)
After following the advice of a coworker, I revoked Pokemon Go's access to my camera. Since then, the app crashes less than it had previously, and I've actually been able to catch some Pokemon. I'm one of many now hanging out at [community profile] pokestop, so if you're also playing or interested, join us!



I've written about Sparkler Monthly here before, and I wanted to plug their Kickstarter, which has 3 days and a few more thousand dollars to go. If they don't meet their goal, Year 4 won't happen :(

I've been a monthly subscriber for a couple years now. Some series are done, so you can sit and plow through, while others are still being updated periodically. I really loved the audio drama "Awake," and have been hoping for more time so that I can get caught up in "The Cat-Lover's Circumstance." They have mostly-prose stuff similar to Japanese light novels, too.

Basically, if you think visual and audio media directed at the non-male gaze is something to support, please consider donating to Sparkler. In addition to non-male artists and writers, the stories often feature LGBTQ characters as well. People of color, too! It's just really fantastic, and I would hate to see them fail.
They also operate as a distro for series published elsewhere, for example you can buy the paperback Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal through Sparkler.
They're also opening up submissions once this Kickstarter ends, so if you have some work that needs an audience, consider submitting!

Sparkler also has an explicit line called "Cherry Bomb." These include listener-focused "situational audio dramas," which I've been meaning to try. Apparently they are quite popular in Japan! Best of all, in Sparkler's, "[t]he listener isn't gendered, so anyone can identify!"

The Kickstarter itself is a great intro to their site and their content. You can still score commissions from artists in some of the tiers! There are many tiers and options to choose from in this Kickstarter. I'm really tempted to get a copy of every paperback they've published so far, and share them with my comics club. That tier is $200, though, so it takes a lot of thought. [Most tiers are way less!]

laceblade: Ed from Cowboy Bebop riding a scooter, face = manic glee (Ed Samba)
Antoine got so annoyed by how difficult it is to navigate the City of Madison's website that he created a Twitter bot that posts updates to the city's calendar of meetings. [So, basically, agendas & minutes from committee meetings that are open to the public.]

It's [twitter.com profile] madlegbot, if you are interested.

WisCon 40

Jun. 3rd, 2016 08:27 pm
laceblade: Ashe from FF XII, looking at viewer over her shoulder. Text reads: "So you say you want a revolution?" (FFXII: You say you want a revolution)
I keep reminding myself that I literally attended 0 panels this year, so writing up the con should be easy! Ahaha.

I didn't see everyone I wanted to, and didn't spend enough time with almost anyone, :( I'm sorry about that & hope everyone is understanding that I wasn't out/about as much as usual, due mostly to various chairing duties.
Some of this is due to having my own hotel room for the first time, Friday through Monday this year. When I got emotionally exhausted or sore, I could just lie down and go to sleep. It was heavenly.
I also did my best to focus on hydration. It was hot/humid outdoors most of the time, and I certainly had the a/c on & drying me out in my hotel room.

Overall, I was really struck by how many people came up to me and thanked me for chairing and/or for WisCon still being around. There were a lot of generous compliments flying around WisCon generally this year. Maybe it's an effect of not having attended any panels [lol], or because I skipped last year, but this was the warmest-feeling WisCon in my memory. Maybe it's because I keep knowing more and more people.

I attended big events, in part because I had to speak at them! [Only mundane things trololol]

Opening Ceremonies included some speeches. Katherine Cross, or [twitter.com profile] Quinnae_Moon, spoke about solidarity with hotel employees, talking about how we make WisCon together with them, and that they are not our servants. She also noted that the Concourse Hotel is the only union hotel in the city of Madison, a thing I sometimes forget.
I missed some chunks of Opening Ceremonies due to having to attend to chair!things, but [personal profile] antarcticlust and [twitter.com profile] therotund organized a varied group of people to talk about what WisCon means to them. [personal profile] wild_irises talked about how nobody on the concom ever says, "Wow, we did really great this year; we really landed that." Rather, it's a group of people constantly trying to improve. It was the first real moment since taking a year off the concom and then rejoining and then emergency co-chairing that I really felt, "Oh, yeah; that's why I'm doing all this."

That feeling came back x100 during the speeches given by our three Guests of Honor.



I had to have a firm interaction with someone we had banned the previous evening, and who was demanding to know "why" we had ejected him, etc. At one point during the conversation, he stood up and I took a step back to give him space to do so. "Oh, I'm SORRY! Are you AFRAID?! Am I in your SPACE?" I smiled and told him that I wasn't afraid, but between that and his going downstairs to scream at hotel staff in the lobby made me feel pretty confident that we made the correct choice :p

On Saturday evening, I stopped in at the Vid Party a couple times. I think my favorite premiere [that I saw] was [personal profile] garrideb's "Control," about Marjorie Liu/Sana Takeda's comic series Monstress. I've mentioned this series in a couple of reading posts, and through this vid, you can at least appreciate Takeda's fan-fucking-tastic artwork.
I fucking love the song, & need to get the single. I'm meaner than my demons...

I got a fair number of books that I'm excited to read from the dealers' room this year, as well as a Sailor Mars scarf and a nyan-cat tiny tote that fits my iPhone 4S precisely.



I try really hard to push back about the "generational split" narrative that many people have formed about people who recently left the concom vs. those who stayed/joined, because it's not an accurate statement.
That said, there is a fairly significant number of white people, many of whom have attended WisCon for decades, who have been complaining about feeling "unwelcome" in recent years - as WisCon works to become more welcoming to people of color, to transgender and genderqueer identifying folks, etc.
If seeing more people unlike yourself being welcomed makes YOU feel UNwelcome, then that's a you-problem. I think that in the post linked below, Mikki Kendall really hits it on the head when she notes that some people's discomfort straight up comes from experience spaces that are NOT centered on cisgender white people.

In addition to personally being called a mealy-mouthed weasel immediately pre-con, another concom member reports us having been referred to as, "gauletiers." I had to look up that word. What IS it with older white feminists and their World War II metaphors? And what the fuck is the matter with them?

But other people have already blogged about these people's discomfort:
K. Tempest Bradford's On WisCon, and Who Is Allowed to Feel Welcome
Because here’s the thing: 99% of the people I have seen or heard complaining about how WisCon isn’t comfortable for them and WisCon isn’t fun are white people. Not 100%. But 99%. It’s a bunch.

You know what else I’ve noticed about the people making these complaints? A lot of them are cisgender, a lot of them are men, a lot of them are people with privilege along multiple axes. Funny that.

And while it makes me sad at any time for folks to feel excluded, or like a space has been taken away from them, I have to say:

Where were you when this was other people feeling this way?

Where were you when people who are marginalized in nearly every other fandom space and came to WisCon thinking it would be different said they felt uncomfortable, unwelcome, threatened, unsafe?

...

If you’re uncomfortable now, but weren’t before, then think about that. Really think about it. Consider if you were making people uncomfortable before, even without thought or intention. Consider that you’re feeling left out because, in the course of our claiming a space for ourselves, we made clear to you just how much you or people like you contributed to our pain, our lack of fun, our lack of safety. Ponder the puzzle of how a con dedicated to feminism, populated by many amazing people, somehow ended up being a place where people who weren’t the right color, the right class, the right age, the right level of ability, the right gender presentation felt like they didn’t fully belong. And delve deep into the mystery of how fixing that problem is the thing that’s made you run away.

Mikki Kendall's WisCon 40 Highs, Lows, and What the Actual F*ck?
You might not like what WisCon is becoming now that the people working so hard to make it happen are different from you. You might not like knowing that their first concern isn’t the comfort of people who can’t see them as human or equals. That’s a hard road. It’s your road though, so you walk it. But don’t complain that it “feels unwelcoming” because it is becoming inclusive, and less concerned with the comfort of bigots. With the comfort of people who have been happy to not only excuse abusive behavior, but also to be abusers when it suited them. This isn’t “your” WisCon anymore? Okay. That’s fine, that’s your decision. It’s definitely ours now. We work hard for it every year. You can adapt, evolve and enjoy or you can move the hell on. We probably won’t miss you.

There are some weird, pervasive rumors on Facebook about super low registration numbers this year. I'm not sure where that came from - we had well over 900 memberships, and the GOH Speeches/Dessert Salon was packed to the gills. More to come in future WisCon blog posts/etc., I'm sure.

I don't know what my role on the concom will be this coming year, if anything. Maybe I can re-focus on SF3 Board tasks, picking up things that fell by the wayside while I was off co-chairing. For the moment, I'll continue thinking on it.

Thirty

May. 22nd, 2016 08:52 pm
laceblade: Sasuke and Ponyo; Ponyo w/light over her head, expression gleeful (Ponyo: It's a light!)
I keep wanting to make a post about turning thirty*, but pre-WisCon anxiety has reduced me to a person unwilling to leave the apartment to go out for dinner BECAUSE STRESS.

[Once WisCon STARTS, I will be fine. Until it starts, I'll be in a perpetual state of losing my shit.]

I know turning an age, or a year turning over, or whatever, doesn't really change things. But I really hope that my thirties are better than my twenties. I feel way older than I am, is that pretentious? lol.

I really hope I'll have more time to blog once WisCon's done.





[*this post is not meant to be a call for birthday wishes. If you haven't wished me happy birthday, I can assume that you're glad I was born!]
laceblade: Hachi of NANA, applying lipstick (NANA: Hachi makeup)
Read Pacat's Captive Prince.
Are there people who can read these books in public?! I was talking with others about how slowly I'm having to make my way through the Known Associates fic because once I hit a sexytimes scene...yeah.

MOVING ON.

I tried reading Hopkinson's Sister Mine, struggled, realized I was hating it, and stopped. IT WAS SUCH A GREAT FEELING.

Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson, the follow-up to Among the Savages. More glimpses at her domestic life. Still hilarious, but now with more kids and more pets.

Princess Jellyfish, vol. 1 by Akiko Higashimura - GUYS. GUYS. THIS BOOK. I CAN'T EVEN. Firstly, it's an omnibus, so two books in one. The protagonist, Tsukimi, lives in a house with other adult single women her age, who all have something in common: they're all borderline-agoraphobic and completely obsessed (one might say...fannish) about something, be it The Three Kingdoms, kimonos, or jellyfish. They all rely on their parents to pay for them to continue living in this place, as none of them have jobs or attend school.
On a rare trip out in public, Tsukimi ends up meeting Kuranosuke, a beautiful woman with great social skills whom she accidentally brings back to their house [a place where NO fashionable people are allowed, and ESPECIALLY NO MEN EVER!]. Eventually she's surprised to learn that Kuranosuke is actually a man her own age, who likes to dress up as a woman.
The book is hilarious, and IMO really great for fannish people.
I highly recommend making use of the glossary in the back - due to conversations surrounding Kuranosuke, I think the context of the ways certain words translate, or in some cases do not, are all very important in accepting what's going on.
The plot crosses over with politics, and by the end, the Big Conflict is that the house Tsukimi and her friends live in is going to be razed to the ground to make space for some new/modern buildings. Kuranosuke tries to rally the girls to get others to take them seriously, namely by giving them all elaborate makeovers [which they all undo as soon as they're home again].
A lot of things rely on people's perceptions of others. I'm excited to read more, and glad to have bought this sight-unseen.

The Boleyn Reckoning by Laura Andersen - aka the last in a trilogy about an RPF historical au in which Anne Boleyn gave birth to a son. HOLY SHIT AFTER EVERYTHING, this book goes and does THE MOST HORRIBLE THING IMAGINABLE to each of the four main characters, occasionally taking it back so that those things happened FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON.
Super angry by the end, in a WHAT EVEN WAS THE POINT sort of way. THEN I found out there's a sequel trilogy, focusing on Elizabeth I's daughter. I'm going to try jumping into Jean Plaidy for rescue...

Supermutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki - A collection of one-page one-shots that focus on kids with superpowers who attend a boarding school together. APPARENTLY JILLIAN TAMAKI AND I HAVE EXACTLY THE SAME SENSE OF HUMOR.
laceblade: Ashe from FF XII, looking at viewer over her shoulder. Text reads: "So you say you want a revolution?" (FFXII: You say you want a revolution)
I thought that my favorite part of the third volume of Essential X-Men (145-161) was when Emma Frost was inhabiting Storm's body and quoting King Lear while conjuring a thunderstorm...but that was before the issue in which the X-Men fought Dracula.
Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler are my favorites at this point in time. Still mournful for this age of US comics in which, while text-heavy, THE WRITERS EXPLAIN WHAT IS GOING ON.

Claudia Gray's Star Wars: Lost Stars has been my favorite tie-in option related to the new movie, The Force Awakens. The whole point of the book is to simply explain how that Star Destroyer ended up crashed on Jakku.
The YA book involves two kids who grew up together bonding over flying on their home planet, despite being from different classes. They attend the Imperial Academy together, and then one ends up as an Imperial Officer while the other joins the opposite side of the war.
Like lots of YA, this book grabs you and pulls you along through lots of intense emotions. I will put a content warning on this for suicidal ideation, for which I really wish I'd had warning.

I reread Pamela Dean's Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary because I really needed some comfort, and it delivered. I also took a recommendation from its pages, and have read Shirley Jackson's Life Among the Savages and intend to read the follow-up, Raising Demons. The books are essentially about her domestic life as a mother, but it hilarious. I laughed so hard, so many times, that I had to read passages aloud so that my partner knew what I was laughing about.

I'd read the bulk of Mansfield Park a few months ago, and finally finished it. I'm not sure how I feel about it, in the end. I still like Persuasion most.

William Anderson released a selection of letters by Laura Ingalls Wilder in the past few weeks. It's still really upsetting that the people who inherited the Ingalls house in De Smet just pitched a ton of stuff out the front window into a dumpster. SO MANY LETTERS I WOULD WANT TO READ AHHHHH!!! Still, there's a lot to unpack in here. Laura's creepy suspicion and loathing of FDR and the New Deal; letters to her daughter Rose as they collaborate heavily over the Little House books; letters to her relatives close & distant; basically an insight into a period not captured anywhere else: When she's living on the farm in Mansfield with Almanzo but they've given up doing farming full-time and she's already finished writing articles for the Missouri Ruralist, through Almanzo's death, a decade of solitude, and then her own death. It might be disturbing for readers who haven't separated Laura-the-character from Laura-the-writer/person.

I'm reading Sofia Samatar's The Winged Histories right now.



I've listened to and really enjoyed Awake, an audio drama over on Sparkler. It's about a colony ship having left Earth and being mid-journey to a new planet. To keep the ship running while everyone's in cryogenic sleep, 6 people are "awake" at any given time. These are people who couldn't afford the full fare, and are paying for it with years of their lives given in service to the ship. So they'll wake up in the future with some loved ones having aged, or not, depending on who did service and for how long. There's some really great voice-acting in here, and I loved it.

I'm currently making my way through The Cat Lover's Circumstances. Misaki Tanabe attends university in Japan, but has a really hard time socializing with people because of her psychic ability to read people's feelings. Sometimes poignant, this series is HILARIOUS and as with everything else I've spent time with on Sparkler, I feel like it was written especially for me.



My "try to watch one episode of anime per day" goal has allowed me to make some steady progress.

Much to [personal profile] littlebutfierce's delight, I watched the first season of Love! Live. Not my first idol anime, but possibly the first in which I really feel a deep affection for almost all of the 9-member idol group. ALSO I LOVE THE SONG "START DASH."

I'm about 3/4 through Seirei no Moribito, which I like quite a bit although I'd anticipated it having more action scenes than it does. It's complex enough that I'd like to try reading the books on which the series is based. Balsa is a badass, Chagum is endlessly interesting, I'm afraid of how it's going to end. Are there fan translations of the novels, which surely must continue past where the anime ends?!

After I finish Seirei no Moribito, the goal is to figure out my VCR, to see if I can finally watch the cheap subtitled VHS set I found of Record of Lodoss Wars years ago.

I saw "The Boy and the Beast" in the theater last Saturday. I liked it, but don't think I have much to say about it. It's always nice when something makes it to a theater here.
laceblade: Juri of Utena anime in middle school uniform; Shiori's hand covers her eyes. (Utena: Juri eyes covered)
Barrayar and The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold - Barrayar was perfect and I gave it 5 stars. As for my first Miles book, HOLY SHIT IT IS SO CATHARTIC TO WALLOW IN A PROTAGONIST WITH CHRONIC PAIN/HEALTH ISSUES WOW. I joked on Twitter, asking whether it was normal to spend a Miles book going, "Miles stop; Miles no!" and everyone assured me that it was. I am looking forward to reading more, and grateful to [twitter.com profile] deermews for making my reading of these books possible!

House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard - I was looking forward to this because people with good taste recommended it, and it sounded like something I'd enjoy. I got over 100 pages in, but unfortunately found it appallingly bad, like straight-up. Between this and my dislike of The Fifth Season, it makes me wonder whether I'm deficient in my appreciation of feminist fantasy! idk.

Full Moon O Sagashite, vols. 1-6 - Arina Tanemura - A girl who loves to sing has sarcoma, but the surgery necessary to curing her condition would ruin her voice. This is hands-down my favorite Tanemura so far, I think because the protagonist has SO MUCH agency, and because of the unrequited/impossible loves that are going on. These are also some of the best omake pages I've read in a manga so far, bahaha.
I have one volume to go and am semi-afraid for it to end. That said, I appreciate that Tanemura tells her stories & gets out, without rehashing the premise for 25 volumes!
In one of the omake columns, she talks about how the ultimate manga story she's always wanted to create will never be written because Ribon would never publish it & she would never leave Ribon. I appreciate this BUT ALSO I REALLY WANT THAT STORY WHAT THE FUCK WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT.

Heir to the Empire and Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn - The Force Awakens made me wistful for old Star Wars novels, so I'm trying to reread things in publication order that I haven't touched for 15-20 years. This has the added bonus of bringing these paperbacks to my apartment, and getting them out of my childhood bedroom in my parents' house, >___<
These two were way better than I remember? At least, I hadn't remember there being this much politicking going on, and <33333333. MARA JADE 4 LIFE. And I love that Lando Calrissian is involved because of course Lando is involved. You don't have a sequel to Star Wars without Lando. [*looks directly at Force Awakens*]
Spoilers for both this 'Thrawn Trilogy,' future/already-published Star Wars expanded universe novels up through those published in the past 5 years or so, and The Force Awakens movie )

Requiem for the Rose King, vol. 1 - Aya Kanno - AKA: THE RICHARD III SHOUJO MANGA. I was alerted to the existence of this manga by a [personal profile] coffeeandink post. In addition to being very pretty, it's a great read after having just read Alison Weir's Wars of the Roses; however, NOTHING is done to provide the reader with context/who the hell these people are, so I could easily see this being frustrating to those unfamiliar with this chapter of English history.
THAT SAID IT IS AMAZEBALLS. She bases it heavily on Shakespeare's Richard III and Henry VI plays. The "twist" is that Richard III was born intersex, so there is some body angst happening. He is also haunted by visions of an apparition of Joan of Arc, who taunts him for not being a real warrior/etc. because of his body.
I did not expect to like the portrayal of Henry VI so much.
I loved it and the next two volumes are waiting for me to come to the bookstore and buy them. *____*

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory - the first of her novels focusing on a pre-Tudor era: the Wars of the Roses. This book focuses on Elizabeth Woodville: the wife of Edward IV, and the grandmother of Henry VIII. One thing that I like about Gregory's books is that she pushes the, "Yes, this historical character was accused of witchcraft and isn't that horrible BUT ALSO WHAT IF THERE WAS WITCHCRAFT AND WHAT WOULD PEOPLE DO WITH IT?" so we have Elizabeth affecting battle outcomes by cursing people and/or controlling the weather. I probably liked this one more than the latter Tudor books I read/anything I've read since The Constant Princess [about Catherine of Aragorn], which still has my favorite canon-compliant AU of Catherine + Arthur Tudor = OTP4LIFE.
I'm looking forward to reading the other Wars of the Roses/"Cousins' War" books in this cycle, & have already started the second one focusing on Margaret Beaufort.
laceblade: Utena as little girl in a dress, looking at prince w/admiration, wanting to become him (Utena: looking up to the prince)
Feeling super irritated by everything. I intend to blame it on Shark Week, avoid spending more time on irritating things by writing them up, and calling it a day.


The only new anime I've had time for this season thus far has been Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū, which I really enjoy. One of my favorite Anime News Network reviewers wrote up the first two episodes. "It helps that everything in this story is rooted in character. This isn't the kind of “sports anime” that just depicts the activity for its own sake. This is a story about people, told through their relationships to rakugo. So far, every performance has had character significance."


I very much enjoyed reading Liz Henry's Liz's Every-Day Carry. As expected for something written by her, this also includes hilarity, itemized lists of what goes into each of her bags, and stories about human kindness. "It is a delight to predict what might be needed and produce it on demand, like magic, from a bag. My desire to be prepared is both for my own sake and to be impressively helpful in an unexpected way, which is no less satisfying for being loaded with gendered burdens."

In semi-related news, I recently bought a purse for myself that is not a shapeless sack, but rather a thing with internal structure, using $ from a gift card and also from returning gift-clothing that was way too small. I haven't even implemented a thoughtful "list" like Liz's, but it's already way more satisfying to carry around because I can find whatever I know is inside immediately.

2015 Anime

Jan. 4th, 2016 08:27 pm
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Default)
lbr, if I wait to "write up" each of these shows, I'll never make this post, so here we go: Here are the shows I really enjoyed in 2015.
If you have questions about any of them, feel free to ask in the comments.

This year I really got better at deciding within 1-2 episodes if a new show was worth watching. Looking at the list below, "almost-exclusive focus on female characters in a non-creepy way" seems to be my only criterion!


Yuri Kuma Arashi (Yuri Bear Storm)
Hibike! Euphonium (Sound! Euphonium)
Shirobako
Wakakozake
Charlotte
Cardcaptor Sakura (I have like 4 episodes to go but whatever)
Encouragement of Climb s2
Akatsuki no Yona (Yona of the Dawn) (2nd half aired in 2015)

MOVIES
Wolf Children
Princess Kaguya
laceblade: Toby, Josh, and Donna of The West Wing, talking intensely (WW: 20 Hours in America)
I swear to God I've written this post twice before, but I keep drafting it in email and then somehow losing it. It's pretty upsetting. It's been a while since I've read some of these, so this might be short. I'm skipping most of hte comics I've read lately.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin - I actually read this months ago and keep forgetting it due to a fluke in it not showing up in chronological order in my Goodreads list.
I like Nemisin's ideas and her politics. Unfortunately, I can't stand her prose.

/some more X-Men comics/

Half-Off Ragnarok and Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire - As suspected when I read the books narrated by Verity, I enjoy the books narrated by her brother much more. (And I'm anticipating Antimony's books EVEN MORE. WANT. SO BADLY. Also maybe Elspeth's :D) Sadly I really disliked Pocket Apocalypse/the one that took place in Australia. So many cliches, SO MUCH EXPOSITION, people just explaining things to each other in big swaths of dialog. Also unnecessary sentences ending chapters in ways that were just...too dramatic. Did her editor fall asleep? idk? It was disappointing, but I'll be coming back for more.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott - her first YA novel! This is like Little Women set in Egypt but also The Hunger Games. BUT SO MUCH BETTER THAN HUNGER GAMES. So well-written, imagery that was genuinely creepy, so much agency, THE TWISTS, UGGGHHHH I'm ready for the next two in the trilogy and in the meantime I'm giving this to my youngest niece for Christmas.

Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda - I picked this up because the editor attends my comics club. The first issue is almost 70 pages long. IT'S SO GOOD. The story and the imagery both. The only thing I can compare it to is Ashley Cope's webcomic Unsounded. Really looking forward to more of this in the new year.

City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett - Full disclosure that I received an advance copy of this book through a Goodreads give-away.

City of Stairs was my favorite sf/f book last year, and this follow-up did not disappoint at all. I love Bennett's writing. The dialogue feels real, which is so uncommon in most fantasy.
I was worried about Mulaghesh as the POV character only because I loved Shara from the first book SO MUCH. That said, once we got going, it was very clear that this had to be Mulaghesh's story.

Both this book and its predecessor address what happens to the economies and political structures of societies when gods die and disappear, as well as the psyches of individual people.

Like City of Stairs, I plan to keep, reread, and recommend this book.

Batman: Year 100 by Paul Pope - Sometimes the art was cool, but overall this was kind of terrible? idk? I'd found it in a list of recommended US superhero comics. I wouldn't have put it there myself, :p

Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold - Yeah, I'm the last person on earth to read these books. HOLY SHIT THIS WAS GR9. Already reading Barrayar, which is in the same omnibus edition that I have. Cordelia 4 life.

Winter is Coming by Garry Kasparov - Kasparov is a former chess champion from the USSR who now lives in New York and is a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin. There's a lot of review of the last 25 years or so of history in this book, which I found extremely valuable. The dissolution of the Soviet Union happened too recently to have been covered in any great detail while I was in K-12 school, and despite one of my majors being Political Science, we never studied it there either.
Kasparov has been warning about Putin for over a decade, before he started invading sovereign nations & assassinating his political enemies. Kasparov is frank in covering the failures of recent presidents, covering all of them since Reagan. His thesis is that morality must have a place in global affairs, and that in recent years it hasn't because it's easier to just say, "The Russians need to take care of their own Russian problem." He paints the Cold War as good vs. evil, which in the past would have struck me as a simplistic reduction, but he explains how governments resisting democracy are trying to control the press/other people's voices in order to continue holding their power. Anyway. He tips towards a level of American exceptionalism that makes me uncomfortable, but it's a good, if unsettling, read.
I'm still horrified by the lack of protest over the MH17 flight being shot down by the Russians over Ukraine. What is it going to take?
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Default)
I keep not writing about books, but at this point there are SO MANY that I'm just going to post about the ones I really have something to say about, and then wipe the slate clean afterward.

First, check out my Hibike! Euphonium icon and then consider watching the show for the f/f of Kumiko/Reina :D :D :D

Mari Yamazaki's Thermae Romae I manga was hilarious. A Roman architect keeps designing the same-old types of baths, UNTIL every chapter he finds away to get sucked down a drain/etc. only to wake up in some kind of onsen in Japan, in the modern day. Every time, he appreciates something else about a different type of onsen, and then brings it back to Rome. It's a comedy, and it's hilarious. Additionally, the manga-ka married an Italian and loves to share all of her research on the omake pages.

Jacqueline Koyanagi's Ascension was on the most recent Tiptree shortlist, which is why I checked it out from the library. The protagonist ends up joining a family & a ship that remind me of Firefly except more inclusive. Sub-plots involve human subjects research, so I found it interesting enough to keep me going despite some really clunky writing in the beginning - I think there was a line about the protag's belt hanging on her "like hope gone slack," that almost made me set it down lol. I liked it well enough that I'm interested in seeing what happens in #2, if/when it comes out. I'm curious if anyone else has read this and what they think is up with its nomination for a Tiptree award. I really don't think it did anything with gender...?

I enjoyed Arina Tanemura's collection of short stories much more than I thought I would. Sometimes I think that the short story is the best format for shoujo manga-ka. So many ideas really are one-note, and suffer from being dragged on for 10 volumes. I felt the same way about Masami Tsuda's, despite having found Kare Kano extremely repetitive.

I made it through Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton, which inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the musical Hamilton. I loved the level of detail here. Hamilton's productivity and output is inspiring. His presence for certain events makes for an interesting story. His relationship with George Washington was heart-warming, and the little moment they have towards the end of his presidency, where Hamilton smirks and says what he really thinks about Thomas Jefferson - that he's a fucking fraud, and that all of his positions and actions are politically calculated - were for me the best part of the book. This book really changed my previous opinion about Thomas Jefferson. His thoughts about American exceptionalism, his manipulation of people's optimism to fleece them, he being the originator of so many things I hate about the worst politicians - all of it.
Also, the ending completely removed any sympathy the musical had caused me to feel for Aaron Burr. Ass.

Longbourn by Jo Baker - I was invited to discuss this with a small group of people I'd gotten to know through the WisCon concom. It's basically Pride & Prejudice fic, from the point of view of the servants. I once took a class on disability in literature, and we read Austen's Persuasion in part to talk about the presentation of a "hypochondriac" character but also the way Jane Austen very rarely talked about bodies.
Baker's book is totally altered from Austen's in terms of tone. I saw Sherwood Smith complaining about this on Goodreads, that it doesn't "capture" Austen, etc. I think...that's the whole point. It's about bodies - it's about the never-ending WORK that people do. It's about the disgusting contents of chamber pots. It's about how it's possible to get all of the mud off of Elizabeth Bennet's skirts after her long walks.
Some on Goodreads also complained about the interlude for some war scenes, from Britain's war with France and Spain, but I think those people have clearly never read the Waterloo interlude in Les Miserables, because this shit was nothing.

Mercedes Lackey's The Oathbound was quite fun, although I found the revenge these girls have on some past enemies to be pretty...problematic? Also lots of rape.
But. Kethry and Tarma = the shit.
I have determined that it is necessary to read the Valdemar books in publication order. It's the only way things make sense.

I've finally read Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint. It's hard to imagine that this book came out the year after I was born, and I've only just read it now. I wonder what I would have thought about it had I read it as a kid. idk.
It's conveniently timed, though. I should check out Tremontaine.

X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga - whoa! this is my first "old school" X-Men book. I checked it out because of some internet article list for US comics. I didn't know when I picked it up that this included the introduction of Kitty Pryde, but I think her presence made this a decent entry point. I have Days of Future Past and whatever comes after that on hold next from the library.

Related, I mainlined Daredevil on Netflix. I am attracted to Charlie Cox and his stubble. Also the way he kissed Claire. There should have been more kissing tbqh.

Minae Mizumura's The Fall of Language in the Age of English - After reading her book A True Novel, I wanted to read anything else by her that I could, but this is sadly the only other item translated into English. This book apparently caused a lot of controversy in Japan when it came out. It's basically about...literature of nations. How some nation's literature ends up "falling" (e.g., France), how Japan was uniquely positioned to create its own mature corpus of literature despite many other Asian countries failing to do the same.
Even though English is currently a dominant language and would eventually wipe out most others if Mizumura is to be believed, she discusses the value and calling to write in one's own native language.
In explaining influence, about a young Parisian writing an autobiography pre-WWII, hundreds of Japanese reading the novel before one translates it into Japanese. Then Mizumura's mother reads it and is inspired. Mizumura speculates on a hypothetical in which her mother then writes her own autobiography, which is well-received in Japan, but would never be translated into French or any other European language. Not many Europeans read Japanese. Thus, "only Japanese readers can share the plight of my mother's life. For other readers in the world, it's as if her novel never existed. It's as if she herself never existed. Even if my mother had written her novel first, Francoise would never have read it and been moved by it."
She describes these as "asymmetrical relationships," meaning that only people who live in a "universal temporality" can be heard by the world. Those who are bilingual, and who exist in both "the universal and particular temporalities may hear voices from the other side, but they cannot make their own voices heard. They can only participate passively in the universal temporality, however much they may wish otherwise."
She discusses the fact that the Nobel Prize in Literature "suppresses all the problems inherent in the act of translation" by translating works that are easiest to translate, and which "often only reinforce the worldview constructed by the English language."
In addition to these meditations, I have added a number of modern Japanese novels to my to-read list.
laceblade: Jubilee from X-Men, headphones on, working on an iPad, lookin' chill (Jubilee work)
Battleworld: Runaways, #1-4 - Written by Noelle Stevenson. It seemed like it would be impossible to capture the tone of the original Runaways series with only a single original character crossing over, Molly Hayes. [I guess Cloak & Dagger count, too.] But Stevenson managed it. The teenagers sound real, Hall Monitor!Bucky Barnes is adorbs, and it's just great. It makes me really wish that the Runaways title would continue once this ~Secret Wars~ Marvel event is over, but I haven't heard anything, :/

Zodiac Starforce, #1-2 - There was a fair amount of excitement online when this title was announced - a group of girls who used to be magical school girls but had left it behind a while ago. I think that all of the major characters of Sailor Moon made cameos in the first issue. The second one has a Totoro hanging on the wall, as well as a Sailor Moon doll & some kind of Luna pillow. Sadly, the references and the creators' constant, "We just really love Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura!" and repeating these two titles ad nauseum, is not enough to make a captivating read. The teenagers do not sound like real people, let alone teenagers. Two issues in, and I don't really care what happens to anybody, so I think I'll drop. Maybe I'll check it out from the library when it reaches the trade format?

Ms. Marvel #16-19 - Well, that's the end of her first run. And the entire last issue WAS ALL ABOUT FEELINGS. What a great series, an empowering lead, etc. I love Kamala Khan, although I'm doing my best to resist being sucked over to the Avengers title she's going to be joining in the near future. It seems that Ms Marvel will still have her own series, though, of course everything's "rebooting" due to the Secret Wars event. I'll be sticking around to see what happens now.

Battleworld: Siege, #1-4 - I'd noted at comics club that the only ~Battleworld~ events I was reading in Marvel's current catalog-wide event was Runaways, and asked if anything else was worth checking out. Someone suggested Siege, and when I saw that Kate Bishop and Ms America Chavez were featured as characters & also that Filipe Andrade was the artist, I went for it. This is the story about the people defending The Wall, which spans the planet & divides the patchwork Battleworlds in the north from those in the south. People are led by Abigail Brand, a character I hadn't encountered before. There are a handful of two-page spreads that I'd frame and put up on my walls, tbh, they're so pretty. I love Andrade's art, too, and having Kieron Gillen as the writer doesn't hurt either. I'm glad I read this, as it gave me a little bit more context for the huge event I was only seeing glimpses of in Runaways & Ms Marvel.

Gotham Academy, up through #9 - I'm still enjoying these, but feel that I need to reread the first 10 once #10 comes out, as a refresher for wtf has happened so far :[ BUT. MAPS FOREVER! AND OLIVE TOO I GUESS.

Toil and Trouble, #1 - Put out by Archaia, this is a 6-issue mini-series focusing on the three witches from Macbeth. The witches are used to manipulating the wars and people of Scotland, to have a hand in their ruler. One of them is taking a particular liking to a solider named Macbeth after she returns to Scotland - returning after having been exiled by by her sisters due to disagreement.

At some point, I ended up dropping Captain Marvel. I feel kind of bad about it, but am also seeking to cut some titles from my pull list, :[ Mini-series seem to work way better for me, lol. Maybe the only long-term US comics title that works for me is Saga? I think that Vaughan works hard to make it something that narratively can be read one month at a time, in six-month chunks. It's definitely a skill, and not a lot of writers seem to have it.
I also can't stand it when the writers and artists change. Maybe I've been spoiled by Japanese manga? But the stability of Vaughan/Staples is definitely a huge part of the draw for me when it comes to Saga.
laceblade: Manga drawing of Yamada sipping from a milk carton with a straw (Honey & Clover: Yamada drink)
Let’s talk about what we would like to see at WisCon 40 for programming, any topic.

Post any thoughts you have, however semi-formed.
People can comment & try to come up with the best panels possible! Anyone can suggest panel ideas: People who run the convention, authors, attendees, or people who have never attended WisCon and never will. Please feel free to join in!

If the comments go in a direction you dislike, or you don't want to participate in a discussion, you can submit your own panel idea here on WisCon's website.

Things to know:
--Not every panel idea that gets suggested ends up on the schedule. Programming chairs typically have to cut about 50% of the panels due to space/time constraints.
--Much closer to WisCon 40, people will be able to vote on WisCon's website for panels they'd like to attend, & also indicate their interest in being a panelist or a moderator. These votes matter.
--Programming minions edit panel titles/descriptions after they've been submitted. Sometimes they combine multiple panels on the same theme into a single panel.


Commenting disclaimer: If you're reading this on LiveJournal, I would appreciate it if you could post your comments on the Dreamwidth post, so they're all in one spot. Of course, if you are unable to do so, comment at LJ.
laceblade: Cardcaptor Sakura, smiling at viewer, surrounded by pink. Text: RESOLUTION (CCS: Resolution)
I'm not great at this once-weekly posting about books, am I?!

Mercedes Lackey update: After reading/really disliking Winds of Fate a while back, I was concerned I'd only like the first trilogy; however, I read Exile's Honor and By the Sword and really liked both. tbh I LOVED By the Sword so much. Super excited to read Oathbound also. Reading in publication order seems really important, and I think is why I floundered so much in Winds of fate. I kinda want to reread the Valdemar parts of Winds of Fate with more context now.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken - I remember reading this several times in elementary school, but all I remembered about the plot/characters was that I liked it. It holds up well - LOVE! - and apparently is part of a series, so I'm looking forward to finding out what happens to everybody.

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu - Basically like Animorphs where a Yeerk takes over your brain & can control your movements, except no morphing lol. This was a real page-turner and hit a lot of my trope buttons, but I really hated how the female characters serviced the plot [as in I can't remember the last time I felt so angry over this] and it REALLY needed an editor. Did it get edited at all? It felt like no. STILL, I liked it enough to be interested in reading the next book to see what happens.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman stuff - I read Fall of Light even tho [personal profile] jinian warned me not to. This was pretty creepy but I liked the protagonist?? Still, uncomfortable/sense of unease. Read Heart of Memories really annoyed me, and Stir of Bones actually kind of really set me off. I need to not read things where the protagonists talk about wanting to be dead :)
It's kind of put me off trying more by her, even though I'd like to try more. :/

Story of Saiunkoku manga - UGH SO GOOD. I LOVE THIS STORY SO MUCH. [personal profile] intothespin said on twitter that Shurei is like Leslie Knope and YES, SO MUCH YES. ALL SHE WANTS IS TO BE A CIVIL SERVANT AND DO A GOOD JOB AND HELP HER COUNTRY. It really speaks to the state employee in me, :*) In addition to bureaucracy + shoujo manga + amazingness.
I really wish the novels would be translated into English, either professionally or by fans, so I can find out what happens next, :( I think the manga and the anime left off in the same place.

Time Stranger Kyoko, vols. 1 and 2 by Arina Tanemura - pretty good, fluffy fun? But what I loved most of all was the implicit f/f declaration of love. Like Tomoyo and Sakura, it just makes me go *____*

The Movement by Gail Simone - Suggested by someone at comics club, honestly can't remember who. Sadly, this tried to grab a niche from the Occupy movement, and fill this space of "fuck the system" vs. police, but the dialogue was terrible, I gave zero fucks about the characters, and it was just really bad.

Phoebe and her Unicorn - Meant for children, compared to Calvin and Hobbes. Lots of one-off pages that also tell a story about a precocious girl with a prissy unicorn friend. Boring, hated it.

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory, aka her book about Mary, Queen of Scots. This details when she was held prisoner by George Talbot and Bess of Hardwick. I REALLY LOVE MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS? I THINK I LIKE HER MORE THAN ELIZABETH I? It's funny - I have a couple coworkers who are really into Tudors books [one of whom is the one lending me all these, who's sadly leaving for another job!], and one of them really despises Mary QoS, thinking she was stupid for not just taking her Scottish crown and being happy with it. Gregory makes her sympathetic, and from her POV all of her actions make sense, to me. Her observations of Elizabeth as mean, entirely under the control of William Cecil, and how she reacts to fear/etc. rang 100% true to me. Bess of Hardwick was pretty fun to read about, too. I can see why some people would dislike the impressionistic POV-switching that's going on between the three characters, but for me it help the pace going in what was overall a reflective book, excepting all the Rise of the North stuff.
laceblade: Screencap from FF7, Zak and Cloud escaping from Mako tubes in Shinra mansion (FF7: Cloud/Zack escape)
Moon Child, volume 1 by Reiko Shimizu - I checked this out because the two co-authors of Anime News Network's House of 1,000 Manga column are finally ending the column, after a hell of a run. Each made a post with their own top-10 posts/series, and one of Shaneon Garrity's was their column on Moon Child. I never thought I'd find a weirder manga than Kaori Yuki's stuff, but here we are. Dumbfounded by the heinousness. But also 90s brooding, like, EPIC. Having to request these from outside the library system, so it'll likely take a while to get through the series. I really miss the publisher CMX, :/ I wish I'd been older when they were still around, & I had more disposable income and could've better supported their series. They released a lot of great stuff.

Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot by Antonia Fraser - Following up my run of Tudors! fiction/non-fiction, I wanted to read this because I never really "got" what this historical event was/its significance/whatever. It was SO FASCINATING. Clandestine Catholics disillusioned by a king who's not as Catholic as they thought he would be, Jesuit priests grappling with whether they can break the seal of the confessional to save lives vs. trying to argue with the would-be perpetrators and prevent the crime themselves, & also a tiny dude who went around building secret hiding places into the homes and properties of Catholics who hid Jesuits and other Catholics on the run. SO INTERESTING. OMG.
After this, I think I'm going to be jumping back in history to read some War of the Roses fiction/non-fiction. Although maybe also first some Mary Queen of Scots stuff.

Arata the Legend, vols. 16-22 by Yuu Watase - Lots of people lost their clothing for various "plot" reasons in a number of these volumes, :p
This series is at its best when it's balancing both of the two worlds, as opposed to focusing on the fantasy world of Amawakuni. The dread that Arata and Oribe feel as they're dealing with the horrors produced by Harunawa is palpable, and makes me connect with the characters' fear in a way that never quite happens with the characters in Amawakuni, save for the ways in which Arata and Kadowaki grapple with their feelings about each other/their friendship, as well as Mikasa's realization about her ~origins~. I'm about caught up to the English release of this series, which is also caught up the point where Yuu Watase had her hiatus. I'm really interested to see where this story goes, now that she's free from her abusive editor.

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson - A selection from the Sirens list. This was fan-flipping-tastic, like I was blown away by how great it is.

Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History by Joel Christian Gill - This has been making the rounds at comics club, and I really enjoyed the art while reading these true stories about real people from black US history that I'd never heard before. From people's reactions to that other comic series called "Strange Fruit," I'd say this one is much better, :p

Truth: Red, White, and Black by Robert Morales - or, The first Captain American wasn't Steve Rogers. I've heard of this before, but I think I requested it (not in our library system, :[ ) after some tweets by [personal profile] sparkymonster. In a country where Tuskegee happened, it doesn't take much of a stretch of the imagination to think that the government would have created the super soldier serum by first testing it on black men. Morales pulls a lot of truths from history to tell a powerful story that leaves you reeling. The list of books about human subject experimentation & ethics in the back was obviously of great interest to me, so I added a lot of those to my to-read list on Goodreads.

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden - Checked out from the library after [personal profile] jesse_the_k was talking this up in comics club (I think?). Glidden goes on a birthright trip to Israel, despite feeling a little awkward about it because she has some serious issues with a lot of Israel's actions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She's very upfront in describing the the trip that she & her group go on - what they see, learn, & feel.

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire - SO FUN. Like, wow what a universe. I ended up rating this three stars, due to a truly absurd climactic battle that leads up to Ultimate Climax, as well as due to wayyyyy too many over-explain-to-the-reader moments. I wish McGuire would trust her readers to make their own logical conclusions once in a while. Like - "the store was locked, that's because someone just died, so that makes sense" - are the sort of things I write out when I'm logic-feeling my way through a scene that I'm writing? But then I rip out during editing, :p
That said, I <3 Dominic, I like the IDEA of a family of Slayers cryptozoologists who have broken away from the Watchers' Council the Covenant to stop killing all demons & instead figure out which ones deserve it, and study/protect the rest.
I suspect I'll like other POV characters more, so I'm eager to read both the other novels and the short stories set in the same universe that deal with her grandparents & great-grandparents.

Hawkeye #22 by Matt Fraction & David Aja - Sad to see this one end, even if it was a good ending. I kind of want to reread the whole thing. Mostly, I wish it weren't over.
laceblade: Slytherin crest. Text: WE DON'T HUG. (HP: Slytherin no hugs)
I currently have 40 items checked out from the library and things are actually becoming quite stressful, ^^;;;;; HOW DOES ONE STOP PUTTING THINGS ON HOLD SO QUICKLY, DEAR GOD. I still have piles of unread books that like, live in this apartment. Yay for increasing my dependency on the library as opposed to buying every single thing I read, but I think I should clear out the unread books before making this switch, lol.
My digital to-read list keeps growing, too - mostly from looking through people's lists of favorite books on Goodreads, finding recs that are discussed at [community profile] ladybusiness, etc.
Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee - This is a collection of short stories that I read because it's on the Sirens reading list for this year. I've always loved her writing, and the same was true here; however, I have a really hard time making it through short stories. I'm not sure why - I think the only collection that I made it through in a reasonable amount of time was Ellen Klages's Portable Childhoods, and that was very unusual for me! Maybe I just like sinking my teeth into longer stories, maybe I need more characterization than short stories usually have room for, idk. I got a little nervous after finishing this one, when I realized how many titles in the final section of the reading list are short stories, but I guess I should look at it as a good thing - I'll be able to return to my unread book piles sooner, ;)

From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women in the World, Volume 1 by Marilyn French - I've seen these at Room for the last handful of years, and decided to see what they're like. French is obviously well-versed in history, and uses as many primary sources as she can. This book, though focused a lot on the hunter-gatherer stage of humanity, and takes it up through the founding of Judaism/Christianity/Islam, and describes how patriarchy is central to the narratives of all of these religions. Lots of interesting stuff about Greek societies, and observations about how societies were structured to control women that were put into terms I hadn't previously considered. That said, there were a lot of statements tempered with "probably" for a history book. Still, the focus of this was before the Common Era, so it's understandable there aren't a lot of primary sources, :p I'm looking forward to seeing whether there's an improvement in volumes 2 through 4.

The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir - This was quite a brick, and has taken me a while to plow through. As you know, Bob, I've been reading lots of Tudors!fiction and Tudors!history lately. Lots of books lead right up to Elizabeth's coronation, and then end. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. I had to know, so it was nice to read this, and continue forward. Things that endlessly recurred throughout Elizabeth I's life: Robert Dudley being a jerk but still attractive nonetheless, using marriage proposals/insinuations to keep her enemies abroad in check with one another, refusing to name an heir so that it didn't drain from her sometimes-tenuous hold on power, Catholic rebels planning coups that revolve around Mary Queen of Scots usurping her throne. I felt like I understood Elizabeth as a person after reading this, and Weir has a talent for making Privy Council meetings/etc. super interesting.

1603 by Christopher Lee - No, not that Christopher Lee. I saw this at the library a couple months ago, and thought it would be nice to see what happens after Elizabeth's reign, how the transition to James I happened, etc. The subtitle of the book also promises, "the Return of the Black Plague, the Rise of Shakespeare, Piracy, Witchcraft, and the Birth of the Stuart Era." I'm about halfway through.
Lee's writing is quite irritating after reading so much Weir. Lee is coy when discussing people's sexuality, saying that a person "didn't care much for women," etc., whereas I appreciated Weir's, "X was homosexual." Lee also addresses the reader as if he is fully aware of what they do/don't know about English history, phrases things as, "As we know..." or etc., and interjects narrative passages to say things like, "You might assume X, but let us remember Y, and do not be so quick to judge," etc.
If I didn't already have a solid grasp on who all these people were, and their contexts, from having just read Elizabeth I, I'm not sure I'd be able to follow his disjointed discussion of the transition of power. For a book called 1603, there's a lot of time spent on things that happened prior, and things that happened later, sometimes even centuries later. He also has a habit of referring to previous page numbers, or more often, upcoming page numbers - "As we will see..." Maddening. One of the future chapters is about what Japan was like at this time, and I'm really, uh, interested to see how far he has to stretch to relate that to the rest of the book.
It's a quick enough read that I'm still going to attempt to finish it before it's due back at the library, but I don't think I'll be reading anything else by this author, :p
laceblade: Fanart of Chibi-Usa from Sailor Moon, grown up & in high school uniform, smiling. (Sailor Moon: Rini high school)
Runaways, #1 & #2 - I've loved Runaways since back from its original run, and I was really glad to see it revived for Marvel's universe-blending Battleworld event. Even better, it's written by Noelle Stevenson (author of Lumberjanes), so the dialogue is really great. Despite having read X-Men for the past couple years, I feel like I am now actually familiar with Jubilee as the character so many other people know/love. #1 was a little meh, but #2 was GREAT, and even though Molly Hayes is still the only carry-over character from the actual Runaways cast right now, it felt like Runaways. I'd love to see how this continues - anybody know whether it's continuing after the Battleworld event is over?
Additionally, anybody following any other Battleworld titles? I'm willing to try stuff right now.

Saga, #30 - So begins another hiatus, :( I mentioned this on twitter, but people who are trade-waiting are really missing out. Brian K. Vaughan's reader column in the back is hilarious enough that I look forward to it almost as much as I do reading new Saga.

El Deafo - by Cece Bell. I borrowed this from a member of comics club. It's autobiographical, although everyone looks like anthropomorphic bunnies. The protagonist loses most of her hearing at age 4, and this is about how she learns to work with her disability, or moreso to work within a society of people her own age that treat her differently because of it. In addition to finding friends who like her, etc., she also has to find friends with whom she is not only compatible, but who don't constantly talk about her deafness to other people around them, shout at her and enunciate super slowly, etc. Cute, funny, and a good conversation-starter for people wanting to talk to kids about PWD, imo.

The Crown of Embers - by Rae Carson. Second in a trilogy I started because it's on the Sirens reading list that I'm picking from. I think that I liked this book more than the first. Being a queen isn't easy, particularly when you're not born to it. I very much enjoy the politics that Elisa needs to navigate, her competence, and the way she refuses to compromise her morals in order to get the power she desperately needs to be an effective ruler and keep her kingdom safe. I've already reserved the third/final book in this trilogy.

Red Queen - by Victoria Aveyard. I gave up on this after reading about a quarter of the book. The premise is sort of a basic dystopia. "Normal" people have red blood; "Silvers" have both silver blood and special X-Men-esque powers. Society is militarized, there are rebels, but the writing was awful. It's another from the Sirens list - between this and Bleeding Violet, which I hated, I'm realizing that their recommended list is based on content and not quality :p That said, the good ones have far outweighed the bad ones.

Redemption in Indigo - by Karen Lord. I loved the voice in this, and hadn't expected it to be so funny. Yet another book authored by a person of color that leaves me thinking, "There should be MORE fantasy like this!" Very glad to have read it, and reserved another novel by Lord immediately after finishing.
laceblade: spoof on Berenstein Bears book cover, title: "Learn About Cylons." Brother Bear is aghast. (Truth about Cylons)
Arata the Legend by Yuu Watase - I've read about 15 volumes of this so far, and plan to keep going. This is the manga Watase was meant to write, imo. Or maybe her past experience has led her to the point of being able to produce a very well-paced manga. ALSO HER WOMEN HAVE HIPS. ALWAYS. IN MANGA. IT'S AMAZING. This series runs in Shounen Manga, but I believe that it is a Secret Shoujo Manga. Two young men named Arata exist in different universes. One is a high school boy in Japan who's been bullied and has no friends. The other is a warrior accused of attempting to assassinate the princess he was supposed to become [there's a shortage of girls in his clan]. Due to some sort of temporal rift, they switch places!
In order to help the nearly-assassinated princess restore her power, the Arata-from-our-world becomes a Shō, one who can use a sword-weapon that houses the spirit of a goddess. In order to get the power/weapon [I forget which, probably both] he needs, Arata needs the Twelve Shinshou of this world to submit to him. Clearly everyone thinks that submission is won through battle - EXCEPT THAT ACTUALLY IT'S BY LEARNING PEOPLE'S TRAGIC BACKSTORIES, UNDERSTANDING THEIR FEELINGS, AND HAVING THE PERSON SUBMIT THEIR WILL UNDER ARATA'S BECAUSE THEY DECIDE TO GIVE UP THEIR VENGEANCE/ETC.!!! This is why it is A Secret Shoujo Manga.

This has a lot of really good Oh, shit! plot twists. The plot has dragged for the past few volumes, and I thought the cover for one of the volumes was supposed to be a joke. In it, it's revealed that the spirit of everyone's weapon is an absurdly large-breasted woman. I'm going to go ahead and assume that this was not Watase's idea, but rather her editor's. She blogged about the abuse and harassment she received from her editor while working on this series I'm glad she got rid of him, and I hope she's back in control!


xxxHolic by CLAMP - the volumes I've read so far are rereads, but I never finished this entire series. The art is amazing. It's very peaceful. This remains one of my favorite series.


Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta. I borrowed this from the library because it was on the most recent Tiptree Award list. I started out pretty dubious about the premise - post-apocalyptic Scandinavian world in which a teenage girl's father performs the Japanese tea ceremony for a living despite the fact that water is hoarded and rationed in their community. The plot is vague, but the plot isn't the point.


Chime by Franny Billingsley - another one of those anachronistically written YA novels, but in this one the protagonist is dealing with a negative thought cycle that will familiar to people with depression.

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laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Default)
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