laceblade: Ashe from FF XII, looking at viewer over her shoulder. Text reads: "So you say you want a revolution?" (FFXII: You say you want a revolution)
I thought that my favorite part of the third volume of Essential X-Men (145-161) was when Emma Frost was inhabiting Storm's body and quoting King Lear while conjuring a thunderstorm...but that was before the issue in which the X-Men fought Dracula.
Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler are my favorites at this point in time. Still mournful for this age of US comics in which, while text-heavy, THE WRITERS EXPLAIN WHAT IS GOING ON.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

I saw "The Boy and the Beast" in the theater last Saturday. I liked it, but don't think I have much to say about it. It's always nice when something makes it to a theater here.
laceblade: 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: 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: Jubilee from X-Men, headphones on, working on an iPad, lookin' chill (Jubilee work)
A True Novel - One of the best books I have ever read, hands down.

Reading this was like peeling an onion, layer by layer, tears leaking every step of the way.
At its heart, this book is about love, but it's also about jealousy, racism, class mobility, the westernization of Japan post-WWII & the emergence of the middle class.

I think this book is better than the source its adapting: Wuthering Heights. The English translation is the best English translation of any Japanese source material I've ever read. I hope that more of Mizumura's work gets translated into English.

I'll be thinking of this book for days; I'll be rereading it for years to come.


Avengers Assemble: Science Bros - I liked this much more than the first volume. For people loooking to jump in after the Avengers movie, I think this is a much better spot to start than volume 1.


The Hidden Land - I can definitely see how this & The Secret Country were originally published as a single tome, & it probably reads better that way? Regardless, I liked this one just as much as the first. In addition to Dean's prose & her commentary on daily life ("the [people] melted away around them as cats leave the room when people began to quarrel"). I've been saying this a lot lately, but I was glad to find this & The Secret Country used so that I can reread them many times in the future. & for now, I look forward to getting my hands on The Whim of the Dragon.


X-Men: Reckless Abandonment - I liked this as a wrap-up to the story's arc. I particularly enjoyed Pixie as a character.
Sadly, didn't care as much for the Domino/Daredevil story. But I think I'm getting the swing of X-Men, sort of?


X-Men: Primer - Technically a reread. It was nice to return to this with more X-Men background, having read the run-up that came before this new "reset to issue #1."

I'm a huge fan of the all-female cast, less so of Storm's mohawk :(

There's a lot going on & being set up, but it's a fun ride, & as a bonus, I like the art (hit or miss with me and Western comics).
Is there a collection or series about kids at the Jean Grey Academy & hanging out?


Alias, vol. 3: The Underneath - I think the thing with Alias that I like most is that it acknowledges that in a world of super heroes & massive popularity & ridiculous plots, there are also people with super powers who either cannot or choose not to engage at that level. There are other ways of living, & other ways of being heroes.

It seems to be a running theme that any Marvel series I enjoy, it will have either Jessica Jones or Carol Danvers (or both) hanging around in the background. They are my personal bat signal.
laceblade: A curved dirt road in the middle of a forest (Up North)
Journey Into Mystery Featuring Lady Sif #2: Seeds of Destruction - I really had nothing to say about this. It was /shrug/


X-Men: The Curse is Broken - I was grateful for the focus to return to Jubilee, and enjoyed this volume more than I have the last few.
I liked Pixie, too. I've seen her in a few comics, and am interested in learning more about her.

The art feels like a series of micro-aggressions to me - the center of a panel will be the back of a woman's spandexed ass, and you're looking at someone else *from between her legs*. Like, really? Obnoxious. Not to mention the breast-accentuation.


X-Men: Blank Generation - This arc was like a breath of fresh air after the previous few. Everyone has distinct personalities, the plot is actually interesting, etc.

I enjoyed seeing the team hanging out on their plane/ship, & actually talking strategy, as opposed to just showing up places & fighting.


The Secret Country - I loved this. As with The Dubious Hills, I love the way Dean includes details not often mentioned in fantasy novels - breezes, insects, too many stairs, etc.

The premise is that a group of cousins play-act a Shakespearean fantasy with magic & murder & etc. During the summer they're separated, their pretend world - "the game" - becomes real. (Maybe.)

I'm excited to read the rest of the trilogy, and also glad that this seems to be a series that will lend itself well to rereading. Not only are there many clues & nuances to the plot, but I really just enjoy Dean's prose.

Laura sure gives shoujo manga heroines a run for their money with her clumsiness, ;)
laceblade: Sasuke and Ponyo; Ponyo w/light over her head, expression gleeful (Ponyo: It's a light!)
X-Men: War Machines - This plot was...something about an international INCIDENT in a fictional Eastern European nation. Our Heroes engaged in fights, & some rote lines were spoken. Yawn.


One Bird - I bought this book a few months ago, during Frugal Muse's going out of business sale.
I read most of Mori's books as a kid. Since I grew up in Green Bay, her fiction was readily available, as she taught nearby at St. Norbert's.

One Bird has some similarities to her more famous Shizuko's Daughter in that it's about a Japanese high school girl coping with an unhappy home life. In One Bird, Megumi finds a role model in Dr. Mizutani, who shows her how to rehabilitate sick birds.

The book spends a lot of time on the impossible choices women had to make due to the unfair societal expectations people had based on gender, even with this being 1975. It's an interesting insight and commentary. I really enjoyed how Megumi's support system eventually allows her to challenge the virtual prison she's been placed in, disallowed from visiting the mother who's left her for the next seven years.

Most of all, though, I appreciate Mori's writing. Her prose is cutting, just as visceral for me now at 28 as it was when I was 10 or so, reading this the first time.


Sweethearts - I really loved reading about Jenna's relationship with her childhood friend, Cameron.

Jenna's transformed herself, but never forgotten him or the impact he had on her when she was still unpopular and had no other friends.

There's a lot of tension when he shows up - she and her mother and shifted upwards in terms of class, she has a boyfriend, & a group of friends.

Cameron & Jenna's relationship felt real to me.
It makes me wonder what it'd be like if people with whom I used to be close to showed back up & I tried to fit them in with my life as it is now.

I guess it's hard to write about this one! Anyway, I've been tracking down Sara Zarr's novels, & loving each one. I particularly enjoy how important class is, is each protagonist's viewpoint and story.


The Housekeeper and the Professor - A housekeeper & single mother comes to keep house for a retired mathemetician suffering from a memory problem: while he can remember everything up until 1975, his current memory only lasts for 80 minutes.

There's a romance for numbers here, as well as the quiet creation of a found-family.

I liked it quite a bit, although I probably won't reread it.


The Lady Elizabeth - It's nice to read this after Weir's other historical fiction novels about Lady Jane Grey & Katherine Grey/Katehrine Plantagenet. Elizabeth learns how to play the game, & *wants* to play the game.

This book covers Elizabeth's life from birth up to Mary I's death.
I don't have much to say about it. Weir's prose is very readable and engrossing, but at the same time not particularly memorable.
Having read this, I'd love to read more about her reign.


Tokyo on Foot - I reserved this because Gerard Way tweeted about it.

A French twenty-something spends six months living in Tokyo because his girlfriend has an internship. While there, he sketches every day with colored pencils. This isn't a normal sketchbook - he shows detailed maps of each neighborhood in Tokyo, prefaced with a picture of that neighborhood's koban (police box).
Sometimes, he sketches the labels that come on expensive fruit, or copies of receipts from cafes, tickets that get left when he parks his bike somewhere he shouldn't, the contents of a cup noodle meal, etc.

This made me remember a lot of little details from my own trips to Japan, especially the "thousands" of potted plants that appear outside many people's houses/store fronts.

A couple of comments made me uncomfortable - overtones of transphobia, and also a couple comments about fat people (showing a group of high school girls & then saying "There's always one fat one") left me cold, preventing this from receiving a higher rating. He has some other observations of people that feel a little mean-spirited, too, :/


The Dubious Hills - Also purchased when Frugal Muse was going out of business.
This is a beautiful fantasy novel, one in which people consume many pots of tea, plan for childcare, prepare food, & herd cats. It contains the type of mundane details that I wish more speculative fiction would include.

The premise is that wizards eliminated war by parceling knowledge among the members of a community so that they have to rely on one another to navigate through life. One person teaches, one person experiences pain, one person knows plants, etc. Then, the wolves come.

In her review, Jo Walton said this book expands the possibility of what fantasy can be. It really does.


The Silkworm - As with The Cuckoo's Calling, I find the Cormoran Strike novels less condemning than The Casual Vacancy (essentially an evisceration of the white middle class), but still focused on issues of class, wealth, inequality, & human nature.

Rowling's prose is masterful, the vocabulary in particular.
I love the protagonist's reflections on fame. (His estranged father is a rockstar.)

Strike is a veteran, & had part of his leg blown off in Afghanistan. His disability is something that never goes away, is never forgotten by the author. It affects his ability to perform his job, how he travels, how other people perceive him.

I find the Strike novels almost as difficult to put down as the Harry Potter books.
While I rarely by hardcover books brand new as soon as they come out, I did with this one & I don't regret it. I can't wait for the next one.

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