laceblade: Miyamoto from Tari Tari, wearing headphones, bliss (Tari Tari: headphones)
  • After lunch, Antoine and I stopped in the library so I could get a book that was waiting for me. I ended up grabbing some history books & a couple travel ones, too, the latter to try to think about where to take Antoine's sabbatical with him next year. It's been a long time since I actually...browsed in the library.

  • It was bright outside today, and I took a short-ish walk with Antoine.

  • I've read a few volumes of Honey and Clover in the past couple days. This is my first time reading the entire manga - I've seen the anime, ofc. I'd forgotten how much I love it. So poignant, so hilarious. I'm finding myself a lot more sympathetic toward Hagu this time through.

  • New episode of Wolf Hall tonight, which is partly exciting because one of the books I got at the library is Weir's Six Wives of Henry VIII. Obsessed with Tudors lately.

  • Watched a few episodes of Yama no Susume (Encouragement of Climb). I'm so glad this show got a second season with expanded episodes - go, little show!

  • I cleaned a good chunk of my room today, including getting all of the books off the floor ;___;
  • laceblade: fanart of Larsa from Final Fantasy XII, hand on chest. text: "and so I sue for PEACE" (FFXII: Larsa)
    I don't have any plans to attend the Sirens Conference, but [personal profile] starlady posted her own progress through their reading list a while ago, and I've been casually requesting things from the library on this list since then, so I thought I'd keep track of my own progress. I'll be coming back to edit this post as I read more.
    I'm currently working on Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns.
    In some cases, it's like, "Ugh, so close!" for example I've read Moribito I, but not II; I've read Trickster's Choice but not Trickster's Queen, etc. I guess revolutions usually happen in book 2, ;)

    Sirens Reading Challenge. Strikethrough = already read.


    Guests of Honor: Required
    Rae Carson
    The Girl of Fire and Thorns

    Kate Elliott
    Cold Magic or Court of Fives (forthcoming August 2015)

    Yoon Ha Lee
    Conservation of Shadows


    Rebels and Revolutionaries: Required

    Margaret Atwood
    The Handmaid's Tale

    Alaya Dawn Johnson
    The Summer Prince

    Ann Leckie
    Ancillary Justice

    Melina Marchetta
    Finnikin of the Rock
    Nnedi Okorafor
    Who Fears Death

    Tamora Pierce
    Trickster's Queen

    G. Willow Wilson
    Alif the Unseen


    Rebels and Revolutionaries: Select Five

    Katherine Addison
    The Goblin Emperor

    Victoria Aveyard
    Red Queen

    Kelly Barnhill
    Iron Hearted Violet

    Elizabeth Bunce
    StarCrossed

    Sarah Beth Durst
    Vessel

    Sarah Fine
    Of Metal and Wishes

    Catherine Fisher
    Incarceron

    Shira Glassman
    Climbing the Date Palm

    Kameron Hurley
    The Mirror Empire

    N. K. Jemisin
    The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
    Erika Johansen
    The Queen of the Tearling

    Intisar Khanani
    Sunbolt

    Marie Lu
    The Young Elites

    Laurie J. Marks
    Fire Logic

    Jodi Meadows
    The Orphan Queen

    Sara Raasch
    Snow Like Ashes

    Sabaa Tahir
    An Ember in the Ashes

    Sherry Thomas
    The Burning Sky

    Nahoko Uehashi
    Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness

    Kit Whitfield
    In Great Waters


    Middle Grade/Young Adult: Select Five

    Lindsey Barraclough
    Long Lankin

    Franny Billingsley
    Chime

    Stephanie Burgis
    Kat, Incorrigible

    Emily Carroll
    Through the Woods

    Cinda Williams Chima
    The Demon King

    Corinne Duyvis
    Otherbound

    Jessica Day George
    Tuesdays at the Castle

    Hiromi Goto
    Half World

    Shannon Hale
    Book of a Thousand Days

    Rosamund Hodge
    Cruel Beauty
    Ambelin Kwaymullina
    The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

    Laura Lam
    Pantomime

    Margo Lanagan
    Yellowcake

    Grace Lin
    Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

    Juliet Marillier
    Wildwood Dancing

    Patricia McKillip
    Ombria in Shadow

    Dia Reeves
    Bleeding Violet [Still can't believe I managed to finish this - I hated it]

    Heather Tomlinson
    Toads and Diamonds

    Leslye Walton
    The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

    Ysabeau Wilce
    Flora Segunda


    Adult: Select Five

    Lauren Beukes
    The Shining Girls

    Lois McMaster Bujold
    Paladin of Souls

    Ronlyn Domingue
    The Mapmaker's War

    Emma Donoghue
    Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins

    Eugie Foster
    Returning My Sister's Face: And Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice

    Charlie N. Holmberg
    The Paper Magician

    Mary Robinette Kowal
    Shades of Milk and Honey

    Violet Kupersmith
    The Frangipani Hotel

    Kelly Link
    Get in Trouble

    Karen Lord
    Redemption in Indigo
    Kushali Manickavel
    Things We Found During the Autopsy

    Seanan McGuire
    Sparrow Hill Road

    Erin Morganstern
    The Night Circus

    Helen Oyeyemi
    Mr. Fox

    Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
    There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In

    Kiini Ibura Salaam
    Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction

    Sofia Samatar
    A Stranger in Olondria

    Delia Sherman
    Young Woman in a Garden

    Karin Tidbeck
    Jagannath

    Helene Wecker
    The Golem and the Jinni
    laceblade: Mikage from Silver Spoon anime, on a horse. (Silver Spoon: Mikage)
    Now that the weather is sort of becoming warmer, riding is slowly gearing up to become more intense. Both the horse and I are getting pushed harder per lesson, resulting in sore muscles that last 2-3 days afterward.

    When possible, I've been taking dual lessons with a girl who's my age and of a similar skill level.

    I'd been riding Sam for months, but yesterday my instructor let me know that at least for the foreseeable future, I won't be riding him. This was pretty surprising to me, because my instructor had been riding him in her own lessons, too.

    Apparently in the past week, he's become terrified of the back door of the arena, which leads to some stalls where the two baby horses are kept, and also hay bales. Since he can't SEE the baby horses, he'll just hear weird noises and not know where they're coming from.
    He kept trying to dump my instructor off his back, and then acting as if he'd never been trained how to respond to steering with reigns, or from leg pressure.

    My instructor thinks it's not safe for either of us to ride him when he's like this, and she doesn't have the time to work with him to get through it, herself. So, she'll stop leasing him, and Sam will again be hanging out in the pasture of his owner, rather than my instructor's.

    I feel bad for having talked shit about Sam - he could be very stubborn and lazy, but he was also affectionate?! And his trot was the smoothest for me - I remember finding Jessie's very bouncy and uncomfortable, but hopefully I've learned enough from Sam that I'll be able to manage it now.

    In the meantime, I'll bring Sam a cookie on Thursday and maybe give him some extra pets, :(
    laceblade: Meelo of Legend of Korra, fists raised, mouth open. Shouting "JAILBREAK!" (ATLA: Meelo jailbreak)
    There's not much too this post, but I was thinking lately about how much of my consumption is done through subscription now - both digital & mail packages:
    Netflix, Crunchyroll (which now includes manga!), Sparkler, GwynnieBee, ipsy, Give Us This Day.

    Am I missing anything good? Thinking about adding Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet but idk how often they come out with new issues lately...
    laceblade: from the anime: Juliet with sword, Romeo with flower, both facing each other with love (Romeo x Juliet)
    Ignoring how behind I am on posts about reading & going to just start posting...

    I've read the first two chapters of Dire Hearts, which I think is tied with Windrose as my favorite Sparkler offerings right now. It feels like Revolutionary Girl Utena. The cover art sort of rubbed me the wrong way, but I actually really, really like the way things look on the inside. I like the protag's inability to do the thing everyone else can do being framed as a disability. I have a theory that I hope to have proven correct eventually. Sadly, the comic is on indefinite hiatus due to the author/artist's health issues, but I'm still really glad to have been able to read the first two chapters.

    I've read the first chapter of Gauntlet, which I enjoyed more than I expected to. I sort of liken this to what I imagine it would be like to read a light novel? SUPER interested in what happens next, & also appreciate the illustrations to go with the prose.
    Also intrigued that this story has installments in Cherry Bomb, which is Sparkler's 18+ portion of their website, although I think I'll hold off until I've read more of Gauntlet first.

    The most recent thing I've read is the first 4 chapters of Orange Junk, which just became available today - it was a surprise drop of 250 pages / the first seven chapters of this series, which is essentially a shoujo manga. Louise's family used to be rich & then very suddenly became poor. At her new public school, she encounters a muscley/angry guy who's super smart, as well as a super attractive boy who's spacey as fuck. It seems like this will end up as an OT3. Some of Louise's observations about other people's home lives are pretty simplistic at first, but as time goes on the friendships are pretty organic and adorable. It's also often hilarious. Highly recommended, and all 250 pages are currently free!


    I just really like that Sparkler exists. I feel like its offerings are tailored specifically for me. I hope they're around for a while.
    laceblade: Kurt from Glee, wearing sweatband, applying moisturizer to cheeks. (Glee: Kurt moisturizer)
    Everyone who's watching The Flash & in love w/Grant Gustin has seen his performances on Glee, right?
    laceblade: Fanart of Chibi-Usa from Sailor Moon, grown up & in high school uniform, smiling. (Sailor Moon: Rini high school)
    I'd mentioned Sparkler's membership drive a few weeks ago, and since then I've started enjoying some of their stuff.

    So far, I've been focusing on comics, but if you like podfic/etc., they also have some audio stories, which I think is cool. I like that they have multiple forms of media - it makes me feel like as I progress with trying out the different stories they have running, there will always be more waiting for me. The editors have a commitment to diversity, and it makes each title really enjoyable.

    The ongoing series Windrose is my favorite, I adore the art, and I'm super interested in the story, too. You can read the first chapter of Windrose for free here, as it's part of their sample issue.
    It's the 17th Century, and the powers of Europe are struggling violently for dominion over the oceans. Danielle, daughter of a Spanish lady and a French merchant, flees her constrictive upper-class life when she receives a disturbing letter from her father, entrusting her with a strange miniature astrolabe. But on her way from Barcelona to Marseille, her life is threatened, she nearly drowns, and she is befriended by a handsome pair of travelers...but Angeline and Leon are definitely not what they claim to be.

    By acclaimed comic creation team Studio Kôsen, Danielle's journey from the palaces of Western Europe to the heart of the Ottoman Empire will prove to be more dangerous, and more thrilling, than she ever could have imagined!

    I've also enjoyed Gatesmith, another ongoing series. It took me a little while to warm to Quick's artwork, but I really like some of the facial expressions, etc. The plot is a bit of a mystery thus far, and I'm glad I was able to read past the first chapter without having to wait for the next installment, lest I lose my interest ^^;; This takes place in the American west, but there are some science fictional things going on, involving reanimated bodies, dimensional rifts, and people who appear to be able to communicate after they've died. V. interested in how this plot continues!


    Lastly, I just finished Before You Go, which was originally a one-shot, and then had another follow-up issue. This is a sweet story about two young women who meet on a train & end up falling in love. The art was very consistent & I loved looking at how characters' hair & eyes were drawn. The dialogue felt slightly clunky in a couple of places, but given the story's brevity and sweetness, it didn't detract from my enjoyment.
    laceblade: Ed of Cowboy Bebop, goggles glowing, grinning (Ed)
    Letter meme, via [personal profile] liseuse, who gave me "E."

    Something I hate: Elections, lately. Nothing but bad news in Wisconsin, and the ideas our esteemed governor keeps churning out are so absurd that even GOP legislators have been releasing negative statements. I can only hope that some of them will have the gall to stand up and amend some of this crap.

    Something I love: Employment? There's the intangible thing of having health care coverage and decent benefits, as well as a good salary. I also love my job. There are so many things to learn, and I'm surrounded by so many intelligent people. I feel engaged, and like I am growing. In the mornings, I am almost always eager to go to work.

    Somewhere I've been: Eagle River. A town up in northern Wisconsin. This is one of the places my parents and I would drive when we were Up North for two weeks every summer, when we got bored.

    Somewhere I'd like to go: England. I've read so many books taking place there that I feel like I just really should before I die, you know?

    Someone I know: There's an E who's a new coworker with whom I get along pretty well. Yesterday she was having heartburn, so I shared one of my papaya enzyme pills, and she was kind of astounded by how well it worked.

    A film I like: Ever After. My friends and I watched this so often at sleepovers that I'm pretty confident I could quote the whole thing.

    If you would like a letter just ask in the comments!
    laceblade: Chord Overstreet offering his hand to Chris Colfer. Glee live-tour. (Glee: Colferstreet)
    I only have one WIP, so these are all from A Song Is a Weapon. There's a lot of middle between what I've fleshed out & these scenes, so still a little sketchy.
    [personal profile] littlebutfierce, the tag is for introducing me to the song in #3, :)

    1) Rachel assessed herself coldly in the mirror. She looked too peaked; she pushed her fingertips into her cheeks, massaging tiny circles to push some color there.

    Who knew that a theatrical education would have practical applications in espionage? I should write a thesis about this.


    2) Her fingers hit some low notes on the electronic keyboard. Simple - he knew she didn’t play much.

    “All my life, I’ve been fighting a war…” her voice started out like it always did, clear, sweetly cutting the air with pure, full notes.

    Her voice lifted higher.

    “My heart jumps around when I’m alluded to.
    This will not do.”

    Puck new they’d all been scared - for a long time - but all he could think about was how Rachel had had the fear first, and worst - but her entire tone shifted, to anger.

    “’Cause I was raised up to be admired
    To be noticed.”

    Her anger was about her loss, then. Of a meticulously planned future to which she’d devoted the last decade of her life.

    Could she ever do this?

    Would her bitterness allow her to slip into other personas, to ignore herself for the sake of their missions?

    Rachel turned toward him then, as if reading his thoughts. Her smile was warm and infectious as she went on.

    “It’s a switch flipped,
    It’s a pill tipped back
    It’s a moon eclipse.
    And I can tell you that when the lights come on I’ll be ready for this.”

    She went to another verse, and her voice was full and strong.

    Puck hadn’t exactly forgotten what it was like to listen to Rachel Berry sing, but remembering was so different than being right in front of her.


    3) “I’ve been thinking a lot about faith,” says Rachel. “But before you get upset, Kurt,” she holds her hand up as if to silence him, even though he hadn’t said anything. He lifted his eyebrows, waiting for her to continue. “This is a little different, though. And…I think you’ll like it especially, because you’re my Glenda,” she said.

    She took a deep breath and rested her fingers on the piano. Her posture’s always good, but on the bench it’s perfect.

    “Well I’m off to see the wizard,
    With his curtain and his crown,
    But my hands are not trembling,
    And my head it is not bowed.
    All I’m asking is that you show me something real…”

    Her voice trembles a bit, and Kurt feels as though no one else is really breathing. When she sings, “All I’m looking for is someone to walk with me,” and reaches her hand toward him, he smiles and takes her hand, swinging them back and forth while she continues. He almost can’t believe how much her writing has improved - they’ve all matured over the past few months, but being able to articulate something this meaningful and… sad, is truly surprising.

    Maybe it’s easier to write when you have something to say.
    laceblade: Ritsu, Mio, & Azusa in bathing suits, holding inflatable inner tube, smiling (K-On: Summer)
    I've been meaning to support Sparkler for months, and their latest membership drive will finally get me to do it.
    Why? Because if I don't, there will be no Sparkler, :(

    I think that what they produce is really important, & they probably describe themselves the best:

    Sparkler Monthly is a multimedia, digital shojo/josei magazine of original English-language fiction. Our carefully selected creators are paid advances for their work and go through a thorough editorial process. After a book or audio story is serialized in the magazine, it’s bundled with bonus material and sold as ebooks, limited paperbacks, and/or CDs in the Sparkler Shop (similar to the magazine –> tankoubon system in Japan). In addition, our paperbacks and products can be found at a number of retailers; see our Retail & Libraries page on where to buy, and how to acquire books for your business or library.

    The primary audience for Sparkler Monthly is girls and women aged 15 and up, or anyone interested in the rough ballpark of Female Gaze. Our four founders and most of our staff identify as female and are committed to promoting inclusive, fem-positive, and ridiculously fun content. We welcome creators of any gender and are particularly interested in entertaining, engrossing stories that tap into the variety and diversity of fandom.

    If you have or are planning to purchase a Sparkler subscription, which tier did you choose?
    laceblade: Manga drawing of Yamada sipping from a milk carton with a straw (Honey & Clover: Yamada drink)
    Prince of Dogs - #2 in Kate Elliott's Crown of Stars series. Lots of chess pieces moved across the board, but it felt like not much happened. This book sadly suffered from more bloat than the first one. Still, there's a lot to love, and I will continue reading to find out what happens.

    Eleanor & Park - I really didn't like this. Maybe it suffered from my having read Fangirl first. This felt more like a sketch of a book than a book.

    Maus, vols 1 & 2 - Borrowed from [personal profile] jesse_the_k via comics club. Hard to say much about books that focus on the Holocaust? This was remarkable for two reasons: one being the author's relationship with his father. In the present, he's trying to get his father to tell his story. & despite his father literally having survived the Holocaust, he gets annoyed by him, has to deal with him, tries to avoid getting asked to do work for him, etc. (tbh Spiegelman the author seemed like kind of a dick to his dad)
    The second reason being that the parts focusing on the actual Holocaust discussed not only the brutality of the Nazis, but the way equals attacked each other for survival. The characters in this book absolutely survived because if their wealth. & the father telling the story makes it clear to his son that the people who helped them did not do so out of the goodness of their hearts, but because they were paid.

    Gangsta, vol. 1 - Checked out form library b/c [personal profile] inkstone loves it. This was a fun ride, and an interesting premise. I'm eager to read more.
    Content warning for some transphobia.

    The Ice Dragon - Story by George RR Martin that's supposed to be for kids, but it's pretty fucking violent? Worth picking up for the art.

    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - I think I heard about this in the New York Times? Can't remember any more.

    Marie Kondo has created her own tidying system, which she calls KonMari.
    The book is sometimes hilarious, because she chronicles her lifelong obsession with organization and tidying, starting in kindergarten. She tidies her school rooms; she gets in trouble with her family for throwing out old clothing in the back of their closets that they never wear anyway; she eventually gets banished to only being allowed to tidy her own bedroom.

    The book suffers from a lot of...encouraging talk to the reader? Whereas the system itself is pretty basic. Everyone has enough room to store all of their belongings neatly. If you never have enough room to put everything away, the problem is not that you need to buy some specific kind of closet organizer or plastic drawers, but rather that you have too much crap.

    If you're able to put everything away, Kondo argues, you will only have to "tidy" once in your whole life. It'll take a huge commitment on your part to do it, & to do it right, but once you've done it, you'll be surrounded only by things that you love. Sure, you'll have to clean like everyone else, but you won't have to tidy up before you do it.

    The key is to ruthlessly go through all of your belongings - all of them - and physically touch each item to see whether it sparks joy or not. You need to focus on what to keep, rather than what to discard. This must be done in a specific order: first clothing [there's a specific sub-order for how to do your clothes], then books, papers, komono [randoms: CDs/DVDs, makeup, electrical equipment, etc., all also in a specific order], and finally, mementos.
    This specific order must be followed, because the skill of determining whether something sparks joy in you or not has to be honed. You won't be able to bear to part with any mementos unless you've sharped this skill by going through everything you've done before.

    Once you have done this, she argues, you will have enough room for everything.
    [She also has a few tips, such as storing everything vertically. Pinterest & YouTube seem to have her folding recs, etc. up: http://www.pinterest.com/eburymakes/the-life-changing-magic-of-tidying] Kondo says that making the commitment & tidying up will probably change your life. She spends a lot of time on weight loss/people's figures, but also talks about people quitting jobs they hate to do things that they love. She thinks people will take better care of their belongings after having completed the program.

    There are a few quirks here - Kondo encourages the reader to speak to their possessions, to thank them each day for the help as you put them away.
    While I have been known to sing to my rice cooker while washing it in my sink, or to my mushrooms as I slice them up before cooking them, I found these passages kind of a far stretch.

    There's some advice I'm ignoring, also. I strongly disagree on how many books are necessary in a home, for example, and it'll be a cold day in hell before my bookshelves are shut away in my closets.

    She can also be a little sexist/heteronormative/classist.
    Kondo advises readers to toss any/all manuals on how to operate and fix appliances. She says that you can just look things up on the internet or take them to a repair person. While the internet might be helpful to all, I think this is assuming a little bit of privilege.
    As is her sometimes repeated advice, "If you actually need it later on, just buy a new one."
    She talks about "lounge wear" at home being something that should be clothing is specifically tailored for, rather than old/worn clothes. She asks women to consider buying an "elegant nightgown," :p
    The narrative also seems to assume the reader is a woman, and refers at times to "old boyfriends."

    For me, I was able to skim over the stuff I didn't like and hold on to the method.
    The last thing I disagree with might be the most important. Kondo says that you must do everything, wholesale, all at once. All your clothing - all your shirts at once, in a pile, and then go through all of them.
    Juggling a bunch of medical issues, this simply isn't possible for me.
    Still, I've gone through the bottom drawer of my dresser. Everything has been discarded except for a sweater, a long-sleeved shirt that I've all but stolen from my boyfriend, and a t-shirt from high school. I've kept all the t-shirts from high school musicals and plays for years, but only one of them ever fit me well & felt comfortable. Getting rid of the shirts doesn't mean I'm getting rid of the memories, though - just that I'm getting rid of the negative associations I have with the shirts not having fit me for over ten years.
    I've also cleaned out a suitcase that was both filled with & covered with clothes in the bottom of my closet. The suitcase is now upright, as is my spinner suitcase, next to it.

    I'm looking forward to seeing how this book continues to influence me & my home, even if I'll be moving along more slowly than the author suggested, and I'm glad I checked it out from the library.

    Ashes of Honor - (October Daye #6) I waffled on rating this 3 stars versus 4. This plot has been the most interesting to me after Book 3/Blind Michael.

    However, I feel like this one suffered a little from too MUCH banter? idk.
    It's also bugging me how much exposition there is - through internal narration and dialogue both.
    To be honest, this is something I struggle with in my own writing, so feeling harsh about it might be my own deal.

    That said, I still love these characters, & I think I grow to love them a little more every book. Dying to see the follow-up on the cop. Tybalt's voice is Balthier's from FF XII to me.
    As always, I'm looking forward to reading more.

    The Moe Manifesto - It would've been better if there was a "manifesto" of any kind? Instead, it was a collection of interviews with Japanese people about what they think moe is/means. Interviewees included Mari Kotani, a frequent WisCon attendee. The entire focus of the book was men's relationship with moe. I know that moe is targeted toward men, but sometimes I think literally only [personal profile] littlebutfierce & I care about how not!men feel about/react to moe.

    The Runner - Fourth entry in Cynthia Voigt's Tillerman cycle. I don't think I've read this one before. It's weird to spend most of a book disliking the protagonist, but then Voigt just grabs you with a sucker punch. I really wish I could write like her. Wow.

    Honey & Clover, vol. 1 - I've never actually read the manga all the way through, although the anime remains one of my hands-down favorites. Umino's art is sketchy, but unusual from other manga styles in a way that's interesting. Part of what's unique about this series is that I actually give a fuck about the male characters, which is pretty rare for me in a shoujo series. I know a lot of people bounce off this series for the way Hagu first appears, but I think it's important to keep in mind that her initial appearance - tiny/"cute" - is from Mayama and Takemoto's points of view. Over the course of the series, Hagu undergoes a tremendous amount of emotional growth.
    Paying a lot of attention to things Hagu & Shu say to/about one another, knowing how this ends :[
    Now that I'm actually out of college & have settled in a job that I love, I think I have a better appreciation for the struggles the characters are going through. Most non-sf/f anime/manga take place in high school, so it's cool to see a series where the characters are a little older, & really need to get their shit together.
    Reading manga is faster than watching the anime, but I find myself thinking a lot about the insert songs by Suga Shikao and Spitz. This was a great fucking show. Also, I forgot how funny it is.
    & now I want to upload more Honey & Clover icons that I've had saved for fuckin' ever.
    PS: My faves are Yamada & Morita.
    laceblade: Shot of Tifa from FF7: Advent Children, looking at viewer, half of face cut off. Text: no white flag above my door (FF7: Tifa no white flag)
    I don't think I can manage writing a retrospective post about my personal life, because it would necessitate discussing WisCon, and I am so fucking sick of WisCon.

    Instead, here's a list of my favorite books read in 2014:

    Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary by Pamela Dean
    Alias, volume 4: The Secret Origins of Jessica Jones by Brian Michael Bendis
    History of the Rain by Niall Williams
    A True Novel by Minae Mizumura [This one was probably the best.]
    We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
    The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
    The Dubious Hills by Pamela Dean
    The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
    A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar
    The King's Dragon by Kate Elliott
    The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
    Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen
    An Everlasting Meal: Cooking With Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler
    The Twelve Kingdoms: Skies of Dawn by Fuyumi Ono

    I used to read science fiction almost exclusively - I spent a lot of time in the Star Wars expanded universe as a kid.
    Somewhere along the way, I seem to have converted almost entirely to fantasy.



    I don't have any resolutions yet.
    My goals from 2014 are here. I utterly failed at writing.
    I technically saw both Fall Out Boy and Paramore live, but it was at a single concert/venue.
    Overall, I think I am not very good at keeping resolutions, but I always have an impulse to make them at the beginning of the calendar year.
    Still working on this. & will give consideration to additional goals, if I can get myself to commit.
    laceblade: Fanart of Revolutionary Girl Utena, holding sword and looking at viewer. (Utena fanart)
    Vampire Knight, vol. 5 - Uhhh, I finished this right before going out of town for a week & have no memory of it. VAMPIRES COVERED IN BLOOD.

    Kitty's Big Trouble - I still like this well enough, but this one I liked less than others. Can't remember too many specifics >__<

    Dealing With Dragons - Yes, it's true; I've never read these. Recced to me by [personal profile] were_duck when we were wandering Half-Price Books with [personal profile] wild_irises. I liked this a lot. Would read Cimorene hanging out w/dragons forever. Loved how this fucked with so many tropes. If anything, this book was too short, which is why I'm glad the second one is already in my basket of books checked out from the library.

    Unnatural Death - Was this book about lesbians, or did I make that up?

    Sister Light, Sister Dark - This is the book that [personal profile] wild_irises recced to me in Half-Price Books after I brought up the fact that I'd never read anything by Jane Yolen. Enclaves of women live separately from other sections of society. Each (well, most) is able to call up their own "dark sister" through mirrors. These dark sisters are then forever bonded to them, although they can only appear where there's darkness - shadows, etc.
    Jenna is an heroic figure who might be the fulfillment of a prophecy - but mostly she's trying to do what she feels like she has to.
    Yolen mixes the narrative with ballads, songs (with actual music), academic analyses of Jenna's culture.
    I'm glad there are more books, and also eager to read more by Yolen. (Feel free to tell me your faves.)

    City of Illusions - Continuing my tour of the Hainish cycle. I really did not care for this one. Like, at all. And have struggled to get myself to return to LeGuin since reading it.

    Whiteout - Borrowed this at comics club. Via [personal profile] jesse_the_k, I've been reading/watching [livejournal.com profile] antarctic_sue for a few years; thus, the concept of isolated bases where a substantial portion of the population leaves annually & supplies are scarce wasn't new to me. The ongoing murder mystery wasn't very interesting to me; however, the relationship between U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko and Lilly was.
    I liked this, & the art, well enough to put volume 2 on hold, anyway.

    The Goblin Emperor - LOVE. Written under Sarah Monette's new pseudonym. The airships made me think of Final Fantasy IX.
    Basically the protagonist, Maia, has always lived banished with his abusive relative. Despite being the son of the Emperor, his mother has been dead for years after having been cast off, and nobody else really cares about his fate. Until his father, the Emperor, and all his half-brothers in line for the throne ahead of him die when an airship blows up. So Maia has to go to court and learn how to rule. Not only does Maia have no friends at court, he's never had any friends period. He doesn't know how to have friends. Happily, the compassion that his goblin mother taught him to have for others leads him to make choices that better the realm.
    I loved that Maia's spirituality was so important to his staying grounded. Time spent meditating was always restorative to him. I think it's rare to read a fantasy series where a character's faith feels authentic. It probably helps that most of the background characters were not down with the religion, so it was a conscious choice made by the protagonist.
    Another thing this novel did that I don't think I've ever seen in a fantasy before was a spoiler )
    I loved the politics, loved how Maia chose to solve problems.
    Definite content warning for an abuse survivor, who gets triggered and stuck in flashbacks.
    People who have read both: Is this similar to the Doctrine of Labyrinths quartet? I own 3 of the 4 and while one time I almost finished the first one, I could use some motivation to get these read.

    Anne of Windy Poplars - Probably my least favorite of these books so far, tbh. Everything feels like a retread of things that have already happened.

    Margaret Fuller: A New American Life - Abandoning this on page 180, partly due to time constraints & this being due back at the library before I could finish it, but also because it started losing steam after the beginning. I liked reading about Fuller's childhood a lot. Once she gets older, things sort of read like a who's who of American Transcendentalism, and good Lord, Ralph Waldo Emerson sounds like a brat.

    Please Save My Earth, volume 2. This series is SO nineties shoujo manga. AND THAT IS WHY I LOVE IT. I continue to slowly obtain this series through the library's outerlibrary loan system.

    King's Dragon - LOVED IT. I was really craving a brick of a fantasy novel, and am so glad that I read this. I've already gushed about Elliott's Spiritwalker trilogy [Cold Magic/etc.], and I feel similarly gush-y about this one. This is the first in a series of seven bricks.
    Elliott's fantasy world, which is sort of an alternate Europe with magic, feels real. The gender-equal world was so naturally described that I caught myself being tricked by my own socialized assumptions - assuming that warriors and biscops were only men & getting myself confused, etc. The religion felt SO real to me. Like people's beliefs actually shaped their thoughts and actions throughout the entire novel, and not just when it was convenient to the plot. I should have a disclaimer that at least some of my affection for the religion is probably due to the fact that it's so similar to Catholicism.
    I have a lot of love for both protagonists, Liath and Alain. Loved the epic battle at the end.
    Has anyone else read these? Just. UGH. LOVE. Very excited to read more. Really don't understand why this book has so many haters on Goodreads.
    Definite content warning for domestic violence/abuse, as well as rape.

    The Magicians and Mrs. Quent - This book grabbed me from page one, in which the protagonist is described as being one to read while she walks so as not to waste a moment - which is a habit I share. Ivy Lockwell and her two sisters live in a house due to be inherited by their repulsive male cousin upon their mother's death. While their mother hopes one or two of them will marry well to avoid destitution, the girls are pretty happy in the meantime.
    Of her sisters & mother, only Ivy is still able to maintain a relationship with their father, who stays in the attic tossing books about magick around after having gone mad a few years ago.

    I loved the writing - the author is clever and has a better grasp of language than many other fantasy authors, especially those trying for the Regency era.

    I had to give this a three because Beckett relies too much on the sources he's drawing from - Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and what I think is Dickens, although I'm not 100% sure on Eldyn's plot.
    While Beckett's third-person prose is great, approximately 100 pages in the middle of the book are written in the first-person, when the protagonist leaves her family briefly to become a governess for a few months, & then marry her employer - aka the Jane Eyre plot. I don't know why Beckett made this choice, but I think it was a poor one.
    This middle section feels like an entirely different book. Not only does the narration change, but the POVs of Mr. Rafferdy & Eldyn are dropped completely.

    While Ivy and her two sisters - Lily and Rose - are actually pretty interesting to me, I was really disappointed that Eldyn's sister Sashie is a prop for his entire story. I don't know if Beckett was trying to make a commentary on Charles Dickens's useless female characters, but I'll assume this was not deliberate.

    The defects are unfortunate, because the writing is very high quality (Jane Eyre episode excepted), and world-building is very intriguing, and I'm not usually one to give a crap about world-building [because lots of authors focus on it instead of the quality of their writing]. Days (lumenals) and nights (umbrals) are variable, and characters must consult almanacs to know what kind of day it's going to be.

    While Ivy is unable to perform magic herself, due to being a woman, her role in the main plot is far from passive.

    This book's failings knocked it from a four to a three for me. Still, it was good enough that I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the trilogy's second installment. The review on Book Smugglers is probably more useful than my own.

    The Diviners - Another book for my "abandoned" shelf on Goodreads. I made it to page 72.
    I think I just can't stand Bray's writing. The characters don't talk like people, but rather historical caricatures.
    It seems like there might be an interesting plot, but I can't force myself to keep going in order to find out what it is.
    laceblade: Risa of Lovely Complex, contorting thumbs & index fingers into a heart, winking (Love*Com: Risa Heart)
    I've been trying to read LeGuin's Hainish cycle, somewhat in order. I really liked Semley's Necklace, which was a lot like Rip Van Winkle. Why doesn't more SF deal with the effects of FTL travel?
    I enjoyed Planet of Exile and Rocannon's World mostly for the prose, but liked Semley's Necklace better.
    I've also read "April in Paris," which is unrelated to Hainish stuff but in the same collection of short stories as Hainish stuff.

    Phantom Thief Jeanne, vols. 1-3 - I really enjoyed these. I love Maron's hair, which is always perfectly drawn. Viz's release is very pretty.
    I think this is the first time I've seen virginity explicitly/textually linked with mahou shoujo power. The threat of rape is used repeatedly in the third volume, which I really didn't care for.
    The primary love interest also makes comments that he might not be able to "help [himself]," and wants Jeanne to stop being a Phantom Thief, :[ Very controlling, sometimes disturbing images of him holding her wrists against the wall while towering over her to argue. Ugh.
    What does attract me is Maron's loneliness, her desire for strength/fortitude but eventual acceptance that she can and should rely on her friends while she's not yet strong enough to do everything on her own.
    Also loved Maron's facade of cheerful strength, which covers up her loneliness. I hope to read more of this rerelease.

    After volumes 19 and 20, I've finally abandoned One Piece. I seem to never be able to make it past ~20 volumes with shounen, or at least that's been true of this, Naruto, and Bleach. Fullmetal Alchemist is a well-loved exception.

    Pamela Dean's Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary is hard to describe, but I absolutely loved it, definitely going on my list of favorites. I think it might be my favorite by Dean.

    Vampire Knight, volumes 1-5 - I've read the first few volumes before, but now that the final tome has been released, I thought I'd reread & go straight on through to the end. I'd forgotten how heinous this is.
    Everyone's hair always looks wet. Sucking of blood is used an excuse for everyone to bit/like one another while having mid-orgasmic facial expressions. The omake pages are literally titled, "Vampires covered in blood are forbidden from entering this page!" AMAZE. Self-aware manga-ka are the best.

    One Salt Sea - Fifth Toby Daye, which I enjoyed a lot, possibly even more than #3, which had been my favorite.

    Please Save My Earth, vol. 1 - This was a reread from a lonnnnng time ago. Sadly, my library system doesn't carry the rest of the series, and I'd have to outer-library loan every single volume after this. Not sure if I'm interested enough to keep doing that, but I'd also really like to see where the story goes, after only knowing the beginning for about a decade.

    Fangirl - I pretty much devoured this. Over-identified in a few places, as I had a hard time making friends in college, spent a lot of time in my dorm room, etc. There's a lot of mental illness running through the pages of this book, so cw for that.

    Arrows of the Queen - Someone at Tor.com is reading a reread of these Mercedes Lackey books. Having never read any Lackey ever, I thought I'd join in to learn about "sparkle ponies" that have often been discussed at WisCon.
    I think I referred to reading this book as like eating cotton candy. SPARKLE PONY SCHOOL?! WHERE YOU GO AFTER BEING CHOSEN BY A PONY TO HELP RULE THE KINGDOM?! Amazing.

    Malice - another fantastic book by Higashino, although this one was NOT about Detective Galileo, as the last two published in the US were. I love the writing. I'm completely unable to guess how things fit together, and I just really love Higashino as an author and wish that more of his books were translated into English.

    How to Save a Life - With this, I've now read all available Sara Zarr books, I think? I usually suck these books down in about a day, becoming completely enthralled, and this one was no different.

    ATLA: The Rift, part 3 (final) - I really enjoyed this as an end to this third post-ATLA series trilogy. Is Gene Luan Yang doing more? I really hope so!


    I know there have been a bunch of other comics I've read after borrowing them from people from comics club, but I'll have to do those after my vacation!
    laceblade: Fanart of Chibi-Usa from Sailor Moon, grown up & in high school uniform, smiling. (Sailor Moon: Rini high school)
    I keep not having anything to say about what I've been reading, but since I use this blog to keep track of where I am in single-issue comics, I figured I'd list my progress if nothing else -_-

    Saga #24 - Very excited to revisit some old friends in this issue. Sad as always for the hiatus. Still love reading the letters at the end, or moreso Brian K Vaughan's writing surrounding the letters.

    A Solitary Blue - I'd forgotten almost everything that happens in this book, and I'm so glad I revisited it. Voigt's writing is such a comfort to me, and I'm glad to be reading the Tillerman Cycle again.

    Marvel's 75th Anniversary Celebration - recommended by someone at comics club. Purchased because they specifically said that one of the stories is about Jessica Jones, AND IT WAS!!! I loved the fake covers, and also Kamala's appearance in the first few pages. I was shocked by how many characters I recognized from the various shout-outs? I guess I'm getting comfy in Marvel's universe.

    Phonogram #1 - Purchased because issue #1 was on sale for $1. Didn't really grab me? idk.

    Wayward #1-3 - Someone at comics club was looking to offload #1 and 2, and I bought #3 before reading any. A teenage girl who's half-Irish, half-Japanese relocates to live with her mom in Japan. I liked the art quite a bit, and some of the concepts are interesting. Appreciate the Japan in the background. Less enthusiastic about how none of the characters seem to interact how I'd expect them to interact, in uh, any situation? & when the kids decided to "team up" & discussed naming themselves, it really felt like it came out of nowhere to me.
    In the letters at the end, the creators make it sound like they're trying to emulate Buffy but also going for their own thing entirely. Lots of splainy stuff for ~3 pages per issue about monster folklore or life in Japan.
    Also a trigger warning for some very sudden & vivid self-harm, :(

    Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man Volume 5 - This volume explains how Miles picks up his suit again. It was also fun to see him dating Kate Bishop!
    This book got a little full, as it gave back stories to four other characters: Spider-Woman, Bombshell, and Cloak & Dagger. I still liked it quite a bit, and am actually interested in all four of these characters, Gwen Stacy, Ganke, and of course Miles. This is what comes next. Too bad the library doesn't have it.

    Thor: The Might Avenger, vols 1 & 2 - Borrowed from comics club. Overall this series was a good jumping in point for someone with zero context for Thor aside from his appearance in the Avengers movie. This art style was refreshingly consistent for a Western comic. I was pretty bored to the point of feeling insulted by Jane Foster. The creators' feelings were confirmed when I got to the end and saw her cup size listed on her initial sketch page. Appalling.
    Grateful that Thor's first appearance was included in the could one time - nice to see at least two origin stories.

    Late Eclipses - 4th October Daye book. I still love these quite a bit. I think I liked #3 slightly more than this one?

    Heaven Under Earth - I just read this online, but apparently it's now been published in an Electric Velocipede anthology and taken offline since then!
    Actually read this a few weeks ago as part of my quest to read all of the 2013 Tiptree list, but then forgot since I don't log short stories on Goodreads & there was no physical reminder lying on my couch ^^;;
    I loved this quite a bit, and found myself thinking, "Why isn't there more fantasy like this?" [This is a thought that I've had a number of times this year.] I really look forward to reading more by Aliette de Bodard.
    laceblade: Sailors Moon, Mercury, and Mars. Text: Maiden Policy (Sailor Moon: Maiden's Policy)
    The Whim of the Dragon - I actually loved the ending, and how things worked together. Glad I read this trilogy, and glad I've already been able to find each installment used at various Half-Price Books.

    Bioluminescence: Lisp - Borrowed from someone in comics club (who also drew it!). Short & sweet.
    The Ink Dark Moon - Recommended to me by [profile] lavendarsleeves because I was complaining about Basho on twitter ^^;;;
    And she was right in that I did like this a lot more! I preferred Shikibu's poems to Komachi's, but am glad to have read it regardless. I likely made it through in part because it's so short.

    An Artificial Night - Third installment of the October Daye books. I understand why many people say this was the book to really pull them into the series. spoilers ) I continue to look forward to reading more. These seem particularly fitting to read during the month of October, ;)

    One Piece, volumes 16-18 - Not much happened in these volumes except that the team obtained Chopper, the blue-nosed reindeer. I feel excited when Nami and/or Princess Vivi appear on-screen. I'm also finding this arc as they finally enter Alabasta to be interesting.

    Bee and Puppycat, #1-3 - Borrowed from a member of comics club. I liked the whimsical art style, as well as the basis premise (Bee and her puppycat get odd jobs from a "Temp Bot"). I particularly liked #2's use of QR codes to associate music with a number of music boxes opened by the characters. Other than that, though, there wasn't much to grasp on to.

    The Pulse, vol. 1: Thin Air - The follow-up to Jessica Jones's story in Alias. I really didn't care for the art style in this volume? But the story was good enough that I didn't mind.

    The Pulse, vol. 2: Secret War - I really liked this one. Done by a different artist, which helped, but the "secret" war/SHIELD + Hydra thing is an interesting through-line to me? Also, coming to Marvel comics from the MCU means I'm always surprised when Nick Fury shows up & is white.
    Neither my city nor university libraries carry The Pulse, vol. 3, and the city can't obtain it via outerlibrary loan, either. Where do people go to *ahem* US comics?

    Spider-Man SP//dr - Seems to be the last installment of a five-part mini-series that's building up to a new event/crossover/series/SOMETHING. I picked it up because it was written by Gerard Way & the premise sounded interesting. If the direct influences of Neon Genesis Evangelion on this weren't clear, Asuka, Rei, Kaworu, and Shinji literally appear as the protag's classmates on one page. Way does cite other influences (Akira, Chrono Trigger[??]) in interviews I've seen, but I find it weird that Evangelion isn't mentioned at all. Maybe it was only an influence for an artist, & not the writer. I'd like to see more of Peni but am not sure what this series is jumping to now.



    Reading Now:
    A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt, because I was feeling a little melancholy last night and am craving her writing.
    laceblade: Chibi Tomoyo blushing with eyes downcast, hands clutching face (CCS: Tomoyo overcome)
    I LOVED the first two episodes of Akatsuki no Yona, lovelovelove.

    I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying Shirobako. This review does a good job explaining why.

    I remain incredibly disappointed by Sailor Moon Crystal. This review of the latest episode explains why. It's making me nostalgic for the original anime, which is something I never thought I'd say.

    In addition to these currently airing series, I've been watching the Cardcaptor Sakura anime for the first time, now that it's streaming on Crunchyroll. I like this anime more than Sailor Moon. It's making me want to reread xxxHOLiC and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle in their entirety, though. I never actually finished either series, although I own complete sets of both.



    Unrelated, & this is from a while ago, but I keep meaning to link to [personal profile] general_jinjur's post on capitalism and trigger warnings.
    anyway. a woman in the audience asked a relatively thoughtful question that displaced fannish ethics onto a commercial capitalist setting - and that's the problem. you can't do that. i mean, that's part of why monetizing fandom doesn't work, even though people keep right on trying to package and sell us. but this was in the opposite direction. "would you consider putting trigger warnings on your work?" the answer was no. of course it was no.
    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)
    W O W it has been a long time since I've enjoyed a currently-airing anime so much. Just. Wow.

    I watched the first two episodes today, and it was just fan-fucking-tastic.
    laceblade: fanart of Ohana turning to look beyond viewer. Coloring blue/moody. (Hanasaku Iroha: Ohana)
    A Local Habitation - I keep marveling over the fact that I find the world-building in these books interesting, as attempts at "faerie" urban fantasy novels have failed utterly in the past.

    In this one, October Daye is sent to investigate the sudden silence of her liege-lord's niece, who lives in a different city. Upon arrival, she learns that members of a faerie start-up tech company are being murdered one-by-one, and it becomes increasingly clear that the murderer has to be one of their fellow employees.

    As always, I'm suckered by metaphors. "Long dresses weren't designed for walking in the woods. My mother could've made the walk without stumbling; she fits into the world that well, even insane. That's what it meant to be a pureblood. I stumble and fall, and I always get up and keep going. That's what it means to be a changeling."

    Also loved the last few sentences, after reflecting on the mutability of her world (for plot-related reasons I won't spoil). "Something endures, no matter what happens. Something last."

    Many friends have been delighted by some sort of world-changing plot spoiler that happened in the most recent installment in this series [The Winter Long], so I'm glad to know that this series doesn't get stale.


    I'm a little surprised to see so many others rated this so low on Goodreads! Usually I'm somewhat on-par with my fellow readers, lol.


    Alias, vol. 4: The Secret Origins of Jessica Jones - Loved this, sad it was a finale. I really like this series, and I think this volume was hands-down the best installment. I'm glad to see the story continues in "The Pulse," and I've already got all the volumes of that on hold, bahaha. I'd like to own these some day, and highly recommend them. I remain excited for the upcoming Netflix series based on Jessica Jones's story.


    This One Summer - I didn't like this as much as Skim, which was done by the same pair of cousins? But still worth reading.


    Rhapsody: Child of Blood - Recced to me by a coworker. Some of the worst prose I've read in a while, sadly. Only made it to page 92.


    Letters to Olga - This one might be "abandoned for now" rather than forever, due to library due dates.

    I'm half Czech, but know next to nothing about the country from which my mother's family came. Letters to Olga is a collection of letters Havel wrote to his wife while imprisoned for his human rights activities. Havel later became president of Czechoslovakia. Abandoned on page 35 (for now?).


    A Sand County Almanac - I field weird giving this a 3, but I really only cared for the beginning third, "A Sand County Almanac." Feel like it should be required reading for those who live in Wisconsin.

    I was less enthralled with "Sketches Here and There" and "The Upshot," save for the essay on Land Ethic.


    Gotham Academy, #1 - COMIC OF MY ID!!!! This was everything I'd hoped it would be. I want to roll around in it. So glad this series exists.

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