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.
laceblade: Ed of Cowboy Bebop, goggles glowing, grinning (Ed)
Zac Bertschy wrote a feature at Anime News Network called, "How to Destroy Your Anime Backlog."

While it focuses on anime, I think it's applicable to fans of any medium.

Related, I'm ribbonknight on My Anime List. Is anyone else on there?
laceblade: A curved dirt road in the middle of a forest (Up North)
I think I've made this abundantly clear throughout the past year, lol, but I will not be at WisCon this year. It's not you, it's me. [I originally mistyped this as, "It's not me, it's you," which I think proves my subconscious still needs some time away or perhaps that my brain automatically communicates through Fall Out Boy lyrics.]

I will be Up North, in the woods, and not online except extremely intermittently. Sometimes texts reach me in the woods, but otherwise email me and I'll read it when I come back.

I'll miss interacting with all of you online, whether you're going to WisCon or not, while I'm gone!
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 - got 1/4 through, dropped :[

    Kelly Barnhill
    Iron Hearted Violet

    Elizabeth Bunce

    Sarah Beth Durst

    Sarah Fine
    Of Metal and Wishes

    Catherine Fisher

    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

    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

    Stephanie Burgis
    Kat, Incorrigible

    Emily Carroll
    Through the Woods

    Cinda Williams Chima
    The Demon King

    Corinne Duyvis

    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

    Margo Lanagan

    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

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

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