laceblade: Juri of Utena anime in middle school uniform; Shiori's hand covers her eyes. (Utena: Juri eyes covered)
Barrayar and The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold - Barrayar was perfect and I gave it 5 stars. As for my first Miles book, HOLY SHIT IT IS SO CATHARTIC TO WALLOW IN A PROTAGONIST WITH CHRONIC PAIN/HEALTH ISSUES WOW. I joked on Twitter, asking whether it was normal to spend a Miles book going, "Miles stop; Miles no!" and everyone assured me that it was. I am looking forward to reading more, and grateful to [twitter.com profile] deermews for making my reading of these books possible!

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

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

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

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

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory - the first of her novels focusing on a pre-Tudor era: the Wars of the Roses. This book focuses on Elizabeth Woodville: the wife of Edward IV, and the grandmother of Henry VIII. One thing that I like about Gregory's books is that she pushes the, "Yes, this historical character was accused of witchcraft and isn't that horrible BUT ALSO WHAT IF THERE WAS WITCHCRAFT AND WHAT WOULD PEOPLE DO WITH IT?" so we have Elizabeth affecting battle outcomes by cursing people and/or controlling the weather. I probably liked this one more than the latter Tudor books I read/anything I've read since The Constant Princess [about Catherine of Aragorn], which still has my favorite canon-compliant AU of Catherine + Arthur Tudor = OTP4LIFE.
I'm looking forward to reading the other Wars of the Roses/"Cousins' War" books in this cycle, & have already started the second one focusing on Margaret Beaufort.
laceblade: 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: Quinn of Glee, glaring. Bangs, pink ruffled collar, black cardigan. (Glee: Quinn)
• What are you currently reading?
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. I picked up a used copy of this Friday evening, while feeling pretty angsty. I think I'm about 60 pages in or so. Henry VIII is currently perving on Mary (Boleyn).
I'm enjoying the scheming family dynamic that's happening among Mary & her siblings: George and Anne.
This book is hella long, & between book clubs & etc., I expect it'll take me a while to get through it.

Assured of Certain Certainties by [archiveofourown.org profile] thememoriesfire This was abandoned, which is why it's now only available at the tumfslove tumblr. This is a Finn & Quinn body-swap fic, which treats the issue very seriously. It essentially functions as an exhaustive character study of both Quinn Fabray and Finn Hudson. It is one of my favorite fics of all time, written by my hands-down favorite author. Although it wasn't finished, there are over 200,000 words.
I think I probably started rereading this seeking some comfort, also to partly get me in the mood to work on my own fic.
If there were some sort of Tiptree Award for fanworks, I would have nominated this.
This, along with Eyes Closed to Fingers Crossed, & These Strange Steps, are my favorite fics, all by thememoriesfire. Even if you're unfamiliar with Glee, you could definitely follow the story.

Perhaps this is narcissistic, but I've been rereading my own fic, A Song is a Weapon. (I just posted chapter 2 online this past weekend.) I haven't written much (possibly anything?!) since December, it's just sort of been shelved. But putting chapter 2 online made me feel lots of good feelings. Pride probably being #1.
So now I'd like to reread chapter 3, & then reread what I have for chapter 4 & sew it together and finish my first draft of chapter 4. And move on to chapter 5.
This story is really important to me, and the validation of having other people read it too is just indescribable..
It also fills me with great purpose to comment more often on fics that I like. I'm pretty good about doing it! But I'm sure there are some that have touched me, on which I've never commented, :/

Avengers: The Children's Crusade by Heinberg & Cheung. It took me a while to find this in the library's database because I assumed it would be under Young Avengers. (I'M TAGGING IT THAT WAY IN MY POST B T W.)
I'm not very far yet, maybe like 1/6 of the way in? But I'm really loving this so far. The pacing is good, & I really enjoy the character dynamics. I care more about Billy than I ever have before, & his relationship with Teddie.

As mentioned on Twitter, I'm a little concerned that I most identify with Tommy, who's a sociopath ("I don't have feelings. And I don't hold hands").

I REALLY appreciate that when characters from other series titles have cameos here, they are ACTUALLY ANNOUNCED. Dude in a red cape appears, and there's text that says, MAGNETO! And I can think, Oh, that's that dude from the X-Men movies, okay I know what's up now. Same with Ms. Marvel, etc. I mean. I recognize Spider-Man and Iron Man, but I appreciate it when the writer/artist recognize that their readers may not have read EVER SERIES EVER.
ALSO APPRECIATED: Billy putting everyone in outfits from The Sound of Music. Billy, I'm starting to get you, man.

I don't appreciate the way every woman is drawn as BOOBS! but this just seems to be a Thing That Happens in US superhero comics.
I still find it lolarious whenever there's an entire page of like, everyone fighting. Because instead of looking like an actual fight scene, it's like a freeze frame of everyone on the same page, open-mouthed, raising a hand or a weapon. IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE AN ACTUAL FIGHT AT ALL?!
I never thought I'd find the fight scenes in the first 30 volumes of Bleach/Naruto superior to other things, is I guess what I'm saying.

Anyway. I'm kind of enjoying my time with this. I expect I'll have a lot of thoughts once I've read it all.

These characters finally feel real to me. I still think that I like the Runaways kids more. I really like the Runaways' utter rejection of adulthood/the authority of established superheros, like Captain America/etc. Contrasting that, the Young Avengers seem to clash with the "old guard" pretty frequently, but they always feel guilty & bad about it.
Whereas Runaways would be like, "YOUR OUTFIT'S STUPID AND WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?! NO." Bahahahahahaaaa.


• What did you recently finish reading?
Anna Karenina parts 3 & 4, by Leo Tolstoy.
Part 3 got pretty bogged down & I was all, "I AM REALLY TIRED OF YOUR SHIT, LEVIN."
Very annoyed with his, "We can't EDUCATE the peasants BECAUSE THEN THEY'LL WANT THINGS!"
Also annoyed with his like, falling hard for facades (working with peasants! Kitty! Agrarian lifestyle! Blah!) ONLY TO REALIZE THAT THINGS ARE WAY MORE COMPLICATED/UNSEEMLY. Like, omg we get it.
Kitty is still my fave.

After the slowness of part 3, the action-packed part 4 was pretty welcome. I don't really understand how this book will keep going, but there's still half of the book left?!
I think I said a lot of the things I wanted to say about this in book club, & now can't remember my shit.
I know that Tolstoy originally made Anna a much less sympathetic character than she is in the published version of the book, but part of me kind of wonders whether he included SO MUCH about Levin & class politics & etc. so that he as a male author would be treated more seriously than if it was "just" about ~a woman and her feelings.

Part 4 made me more sympathetic toward Vronsky than I ever had been previously.

PS: If there are any additional suicide attempts in this book, can someone please tell me??


• What do you think you’ll read next?
I need to move on with Anna Karenina: parts 5 & 6. Otherwise, finishing all the stuff listed up in the "What are you reading right now?" section, & some library books.

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laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, Reina holding Kumiko's face w/one hand, faces close enough to almost touch. (Default)
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