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

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

/some more X-Men comics/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter is Coming by Garry Kasparov - Kasparov is a former chess champion from the USSR who now lives in New York and is a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin. There's a lot of review of the last 25 years or so of history in this book, which I found extremely valuable. The dissolution of the Soviet Union happened too recently to have been covered in any great detail while I was in K-12 school, and despite one of my majors being Political Science, we never studied it there either.
Kasparov has been warning about Putin for over a decade, before he started invading sovereign nations & assassinating his political enemies. Kasparov is frank in covering the failures of recent presidents, covering all of them since Reagan. His thesis is that morality must have a place in global affairs, and that in recent years it hasn't because it's easier to just say, "The Russians need to take care of their own Russian problem." He paints the Cold War as good vs. evil, which in the past would have struck me as a simplistic reduction, but he explains how governments resisting democracy are trying to control the press/other people's voices in order to continue holding their power. Anyway. He tips towards a level of American exceptionalism that makes me uncomfortable, but it's a good, if unsettling, read.
I'm still horrified by the lack of protest over the MH17 flight being shot down by the Russians over Ukraine. What is it going to take?
laceblade: 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: 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.
laceblade: Manga drawing of Yamada sipping from a milk carton with a straw (Honey & Clover: Yamada drink)
Anne of Avonlea - A decent follow-up to the first book, although I gave it one less star because it felt a little floundery in the middle.

Matthew is not discussed much in this book, but in the first part of the novel characters are pretty preoccupied about what heaven is, what it means.

I loved the resolution to Lavender's storyline, and also take a lot of joy in seeing romance bud between Anne and Gilbert. I'm excited to read the next one, where they're at college.


Anne of the Island - So, I love the relationship between Anne and Gilbert in this book. I also really identify with Anne's heartbreak about growing up, and the realization that even your closest friends change over time, and that nothing can be as it once was, even if you still have old writings from you/your friends that transport you right back to old times. Also loved her friends cackling over gossipy situations.

That said, the book feels like it's bumbling from one scene to the next, season to season, year to year, with no transitions, just filler to try & resolve the main plot (Anne and Gilbert). I know that a long period of time was covered in the first book, but it didn't feel like this, I don't think.


Jim Henson's Storytellers: Witches, #1 - I don't remember where I saw a link about this months ago, but I pinned it and saved the date. It's gorgeous, and wonderful. I'm so glad I read it, and I'm really looking forward to the next one. These are stand-alone, and there are going to be a total of four.


Liminality's first issue came out. While I'm not usually much for poetry, I did enjoy my friend Gabby's The devil riding your back.
laceblade: A curved dirt road in the middle of a forest (Up North)
Otherbound - read for [community profile] beer_marmalade (whose DW is terribly neglected, lol self). This got a three from me because it really stuck the landing.

This is a fantasy book where the idea is more interesting than the execution. Nolan is a high school teenager who has a problem - every time he closes his eyes, even to blink, he lives the life a girl named Amara, a servant to a princess who lives in a different world - one with magic. In his own world, Nolan's inability to control when and where he slips into the other world causes his family and doctors to try and treat him for epilepsy, to no avail.

Coming to this while in the middle of Pamela Dean's Secret Country trilogy, it makes me think a lot about the characters and their responsibility to another story's narrative. They're participating in worlds they're not sure are real, and it's difficult to discern how much duty they owe to people who live in a different world, especially when their activities in their fantasy world are costing them in their "real" life. It's an interesting concept, and I think it's now a trope that I enjoy.

So, yes - interesting concept & ideas, but overall I really didn't care for the writing until the last few chapters. I believe Corinne Duyvis is a relatively new author (younger than me!). I'd be willing to try other books by her, given the concepts in this one, to see if the writing improves.

Content warning for violence/abuse and self-harm.


The Narrow Road to the Deep North - [not the one by Basho] Put this on hold at the library because it was on the Booker list. So, this book is about an Australian doctor who becomes a POW during World War II. He's forced by his Japanese captors to do slave labor with his comrades, working on their railroad.

The story of his experiences in World War II is interspersed with his celebrity in the present as a war hero.

The author lifted this story from his own father's, but I pretty much hated the protagonist, who likes driving drunk & having affairs.

I'm sure there are some interesting truths in the rest of the novel - toward the beginning, for example, Major Nakamura is arguing with the protagonist about "freedom" & colonization, essentially, after the protag asks for a day's rest for the other POWs to work more effectively. Nakamura says they're redeeming their honour by dying for the emperor. "Your British Empire...You think it did not need non-freedom, Colonel? It was built sleeper by sleeper of non-freedom, bridge by bridge of non-freedom."

Anyway, I'm sure there's more to uncover, but based on this prose & what I've read so far, I'm not sticking around to find out.


Once Was Lost - I'm not sure I can say anything about Zarr that I haven't already said, but I loved this one too. I'll read any book she publishes.


History of the Rain - Put this on hold at the library because it was on the Booker list. This was both heartfelt and amusing - a love letter to people who love both books & poetry (well, very white books & poetry, I should add).

The protagonist is bedbound, & she views the people in her village in Ireland through the lenses of books - characters, locations, how people say things, etc.
There's a lot of tragedy, too, as I guess happens with any book about the Irish.
I read this during the one-year anniversary of a friend's death, and found it helped me with my grief.
I'm not doing it justice, but this one touched me down deep. Here's a much better review from someone on Goodreads that gets what I liked.
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: Screencap from FF7, Zak and Cloud escaping from Mako tubes in Shinra mansion (FF7: Cloud/Zack escape)
Sparrow Hill Road - Rose Marshall is a ghost, and her story is not told in a linear fashion. As she interacts with truck drivers & other people on the road (she is a hitchhiker ghost), we learn about her past: how she died, and what's happened to her during her afterlife.

The worldbuilding is interesting, the way highways and roads are both real & not. The rules for various types of ghosts, etc. Rose is a very likeable protagonist. We see her most often in greasy diners, one specifically called Last Chance, which isn't fixed & seems to move around just as much as she does.

I sometimes find the writing to verge on the edge of cliche, but it never fully dips down into making me feel embarrasssed. And McGuire's writing sucks me in. I read the second half straight through, couldn't put it down.


We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Shortlisted for the Booker, and rightfully so. The narrator's voice is both matter of fact and nonlinear. Unreliable, but honest. It's best to not know what's coming, so I'm purposely being a little obtuse.

I know of Fowler from WisCon, as she has attended many times in the past, and in fact co-founded the James Tiptree, Jr. Award.

There were references to Jo, Amy, and Beth from Little Women. But I didn't know how badly I needed to see Dicey Tillerman in a list of orphaned girls like Jane Eyre and Anne Shirley until she was. A genre of buldingsromans that had always felt coherent but disparate to me suddenly snapped together.
There are allusions to Star Wars throughout. I also enjoyed the comparison of Merry and Pippin in Isengard to the Romans sitting amid the ruins of Carthage.

I work with human subjects research for a living, and this book made me reflect upon animal research more than anything has before. It's timely, too. Last week, there was a semi-heinous Isthmus cover story called MOTHERLESS MONKEYS (http://www.isthmus.com/isthmus/article.php?article=43284) about a new study at UW in which rhesus monkeys will be taken from their mothers at a young age, and killed one year later in a research study about anxiety & depression.
There's a human counterpart study related to that one: in the human study, babies go into an MRI scanner instead of having their brains cut up.

It was hard to put this book down. It pulls at you, & doesn't let go. The ending is perfect.
laceblade: Toph of Avatar: The Last Airbender, earthbending (ATLA: Toph)
Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rift, part 2 - I'm still really digging this story arc. I love the focus on "what happens after the end" - in this volume, Sokka and Katara run into old members of the Southern Water Tribe who have moved north to work in unsafe conditions because they don't have another choice. The team also meets up with past soldiers from the Fire Nation Army who need work now that their steady source of income is gone. These are the kinds of details that I always WANT to read about, & would love in say, Harry Potter and dozens of other world. I'm glad to read about them here.

Toph and Aang having to deal with their pasts is also compelling, particularly Aang, the sole survivor of an entire race, who's trying to figure out how the Air Nation traditions he knows can live on, when it seems like the entire world has moved on without them. I'm eager to see how this trilogy will end.


Ms. Marvel, #3-6 - Finishing up the first arc & starting the second. I just really love this series. I love Kamala. I loved her conversation with Sheikh Abdullah in #6. Kamala is a hero I need. Reading the series is a delight.


Brunette Ambition - It's impossible for me to be objective this one, as Lea Michele is one of my most-admired & most-adored celebrities. It was a treat for me to hear her voice so strongly, unedited by Hollywood Reporter or other gossip sites.

I enjoyed the insights into her routines & how she keeps herself centered. I don't think I'll be able to take much of the advice, as a lot of the self-care tactics are costly.

Still waiting for a behind the scenes Glee cast tell-all, ;)


Gertrude and Claudius - Hamlet's always been one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, if not my most favorite.

This is my first Updike novel. While the prose is good & the writing technically great, the book as a whole is...kind of boring? A little disappointing. What I liked most were the glimpses at Hamlet and Ophelia. Mostly, I now want to reread Hamlet.
Maybe I need to create a "books: fanfiction" tag for books like these?!


Kitty Goes to War - I kind of had a hard time rating this one.

I dug Kitty trying to rehabilitate two army-created/trained werewolves. This entire series' comparison of lycanthropy to mental illness is why I stick around. Her encouragement of the guys to focus on one day at a time, one hour, one minute, then the next one, etc., is just spot on.

That said, I felt pretty dubious about this entire plot, as I work in human research administration professionally. I get that someone went rogue to create the werewolves, but the fact that all of this stayed somehow secret, *especially* in the VA, is ludicrous to me.

The Speedy Mart/wizard subplot was intriguing, although I could use a little more worldbuilding there.
& speaking of worldbuilding, Cormac's plot got laughably little screentime for how important his development was. I really hope that's further explored in future books.

I keep picking these books up when I'm feeling low, & Kitty is always inspiring to me. I hope I reread these many times in the future, but for now they're great on the first time through.
laceblade: Photo of Almanzo Wilder, flashes to text: "Almanzo Wilder was a stud." (Almanzo)
Pioneer Girl - I had to keep reminding myself that this was a novel, & not a memoir, which is a credit to the writing.
In These Happy Golden Years, Almanzo Wilder gives Laura Ingalls a golden pin with a house on it. In the 1960s in Vietnam, Lee's grandfather encounters a customer in his restaurant named Rose. Rose leaves behind a gold pin with a house on it. It's unclear whether she forgot it, or intended it as a gift for their many conversations.
Decades later, Lee has graduated from UW-Madison with a PhD in English Literature, but cannot find a post-doc anywhere, so she's temporarily living with her distant mother & grandfather again. She starts investigating whether the Rose her grandfather met could be Laura Ingalls Wilder's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who was in Vietnam in the sixties, three years before she died, covering the war for Time magazine.
In ways, this book reminded me of Hiromi Goto's The Kappa Child, how the Little House series is used as a touchstone for the children of Asian immigrants to North America. In this novel, the Manifest Destiny tug that Laura, her Pa, & her daughter Rose all feel is compared to Lee & her brother's desire to escape their mother's way of life, constantly opening Asian buffets in strip malls in different Midwest cities.
Lee's reading of the Little House books felt really familiar to me. The title is named after the first version Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her childhood - a single-volume autobiography called Pioneer Girl. Her story was broken up into multiple books, and reshaped (or ghost-written?) by her daughter Rose through a lot of epistolary editing.
The above is a little fragmented, but I really loved this book. I think I finished it in less than a day.


Buffy s10, #2 - I felt like this was a more solid intro to the season than #1 was. I often feel bad about shipping Buffy/Spike, but it just never goes away.
Nicholas Brendan is going to be authoring at least one issue focusing on Xander (and Dracula), & James Masters is going to be authoring a mini-arc on Spike that takes place during season 7. I'm...not really excited about either? Xander only became more atrocious to me in season 9 of Buffy, & I already didn't care for him on the show.
I was pleased by the appearance of [spoiler].


Kaze Hikaru, volumes 20 & 21 - It was nice to see Sei use her femininity as a tool in this little arc. I think volume 21 has been my favorite so far. I really liked the fleshing out of Sei's past, & the choices she makes. I find her love for Okita Souji much more compelling than Okita himself. I'm now caught up with Viz's release of this series in the US. To read more, I'll need to turn to fan-translations...


One Piece, volumes 1-3 - This is one of the most popular series in Japan, & I've never read it! Monkey D. Luffy wants to be a pirate so badly that he stabs himself in the face to impress the other pirates. Unfortunately, he can't swim & can never learn how, so the pirates are uninterested in making him part of the crew. So, Luffy decides to become THE BEST PIRATE IN THE WORLD. To do so, by the end of this omnibus, he's acquired THE BEST SWORDSMAN IN THE WORLD and THE BEST THIEF/NAVIGATOR as the beginnings of his tiny crew.
This is a fun series, & so far Nami, the thief/navigator who hates pirates, is my favorite.


Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand - Kitty and Ben go to Vegas. I didn't care for this one too much? But it ended up being setup for the next book, Kitty Raises Hell, which I liked A LOT. I like Kitty & her pack & her radio show & Ben & her family. I wanna see what happens when Cormac rejoins them in Denver, tho. I WISH KITTY WERE REAL AND WE COULD BE FRIENDS.
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)
Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir - Weird has written lots of non-fiction about Tudors/British royalty. This was her first historical fiction, & it centers on the life of Jane Grey. Grey grew up in an abusive & politically ambitious home. Her story is pretty well-known in history, but this was still a good read. I enjoyed reading about the Tudors from a fresh perspective, & I'm planning to check out Weir's other historical fiction.

Twelve Kingdoms #4 by Fuyumi Ono - A book that really gets into how to rule, particularly when the king is a teenage high school student from modern day Japan & has no idea what the local politics/life is like for her subjects. She's easily manipulated at first, but Yoko won't stay like that for long, obviously.
As before, basic editing errors make me grumpy at TokyoPop, but I really loved this book. I loved the growth of all three female characters. I really like how protagonists CHANGE in Ono's books.
This is the last one TokyoPop put out in the US, so I'll be switching to fan-translated versions to continue my progression in the series.

Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers - my first Sayers :*) There was a jarring second-person interlude which I really didn't care for, but I'd like to read more.

Ms. Marvel #3 - I continue to like this series, but don't have much to say about it?! I think I'm giving the first three issues to my youngest niece as part of her birthday present.

Captain Marvel #2 - Sort of annoyed by the appearance of Guardians of the Galaxy, who seem like they're only around to promote their movie? idk.

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar - Full disclosure that Sofia used to be in book club with me, so I'm probably biased.
I was afraid I wouldn't like this book because a lot of people have described the prose as being "ornate"/etc. in a way that reminds me of Catherynne Valente. While I haven't read all of Valente's work, the parts I have read are things I really don't care for at all.
Not so with Samatar's book - I fuckin' loved this.
It's about falling in love with reading, & also about ghosts, about love, about so many things. I think this will be even better upon rereads. I wish for many more fantasies like this one.

Red Colored Elegy by Seiichi Hayashi - Pretty strongly disliked this, both the nonsensical story & the artwork.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man vol. 2 by Brian Michael Bendis - This felt like a lot of setup, but I'm still interested in reading more to see what happens to Miles Morales.

Iron Man: The Mask in the Iron Man - graciously lent to me at comics club by [personal profile] garrideb, unfortunately I didn't care for this one at all, :/ Mid-1990s U.S. comics, WHAT ARE YOU?!

Kaze Hikaru, volume 19 - It is really difficult to jump back into this after being away for a while. I can't keep track of who anyone is in Osaka. I like how much time this series spends on politics. What I REALLY want is to know what's going to happen when shit goes down & everyone dies,

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry - I read this because it's on this year's Tiptree Shortlist. It's a modern retelling of Orpheus. WOW at that ending, though. "I'm not a hero, I'm a bitch" - HAVE I EVER IDENTIFIED WITH A PROTAGONIST MORE THAN I DID IN THIS MOMENT?! Just, wow. The ending was glorious. I'm really looking forward to the next installment.
laceblade: Ed from Cowboy Bebop riding a scooter, face = manic glee (Ed Samba)
are you two years ago by [archiveofourown.org profile] timorous_scribe - Reuniting a little threesome called the Unholy Trinity for some Toxic performance practice and one last sleepover before they have to return to their big kid lives (and all the issues that go with) at MIT, New York, and Yale.

i just can't shake this feeling (that i'm nothing in your eyes) by [archiveofourown.org profile] ratherembarrassing - Santana Lopez. When asked whether they each thought the other would end up at this point, both of them answered decisively. “Of course.”
post-Frenemies fic that's everything I wanted & didn't get from the show.

Here Comes Trouble (Or: the One Where Santana Takes Over Glee Club) by [tumblr.com profile] lookninjas The first thing she does is to put the picture of Finn back in the choir room where it belongs.
The second thing she does is to look right in his vacant, grinning face and say very firmly, “Just so we’re clear? I’m not doing this for you.”

The Way We Were by [archiveofourown.org profile] crossfirehurricane - An au where Lyanna Stark marries Rhaegar Targaryen & they live as king & queen in King's Landing. I like that neither Rhaegar nor Lyanna are saints, but this was more something for me to read while also gaming. I like the premise of the au.

Kingdom by the Sea by [archiveofourown.org profile] crossfirehurricane - An au where Lyanna Stark marries Robert Baratheon. Same as above - didn't really like the writing, but like the premise. I need Game of Thrones aus, I think. There are so many possibilities!

Buffy Season 10 #1 (New Rules part one) - Nice reminder of where we've been, plus a new mystery to figure out. Really enjoying the return of [spoiler].

Hawkeye - I'm caught up (unless another one came out today?) but don't have anything to say about these. REALLY enjoyed the trippy Christmas cartoon commentary issue.

Ms. Marvel #2, Captain Marvel #1, Lois Lane #1 one-shot - I liked all of these!

Spider-Woman, Agent of SWORD - I borrowed this from someone in comics club. I had no familiarity with Jessica Drew except that she sometimes shows up in Captain Marvel as a friend of Carol. Despite my lack of familiarity, this was fan-fucking-tastic. I really loved it.

Sarah Canary - I got about 120 pages in before going up. I gave zero fucks about the characters it what was going on :/

Boxers and Saints - These were really great, an appreciated as I'd previously had zero familiarity with the Boxer Rebellion.

Princeless: Get Over Yourself - I still like this story, although I don't feel the same glee as I did over the first volume. I'm happy to keep reading the collected volumes from the library, but I won't be adding this to my pull list.

Story of a Girl - I devoured this. I love Zarr's writing, and it's interesting to see how class plays a role in both this story (where the protagonist comes from a working class family) and the other book I've read by her (where the family is filthy rich).

Revival volume 2: Live Like You Mean It - I think I'm not feeling this series. There's a lot of gore, and this volume introduces way more problems while not solving any raised in the first. I think I'm also not into zombies unless it's an au Glee fic ^^;

An Everlasting Meal: Cooking With Economy and Grace - This is the first book about food that I've read in years that didn't make me feel anxious. As someone with a restricted diet, Adler's suggestions (& variations on suggestions) were easy to take as they applied, & ignore when they didn't. I don't know yet if this will change the way I cook or prepare food for myself, but it could, and I'd like to buy it.

ATLA: The Rift, #1 - Start of a new trilogy by GLL. I've liked all of his comics so far, and this one is no different. It's the exact tone of the show. Toph & Aang clash about their conflicting attitudes toward culture, & it's tied to how the world is trying to move forward after the defeat of Fire Lord Ozai.

I spent time sympathizing with Aang who's trying to reestablished Air nomad practices, but Toph has a good point when she notes that not everybody's past is idyllic as his, & some people can only live by pushing the past firmly behind them. Unfortunately for Toph, she won't have a choice.

Ancillary Justice - I liked this, but perhaps not as much as others in my circle. I liked what it did with gender, liked a glimpse at what long-game politics look like, liked how complicated it was. Didn't really care for the writing :/
laceblade: Azusa offering piece of paper to the viewer, Ui in background holding cake (K-On: Azusa offer)
(it's been 84 years.gif)

Finished Reading
The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono - I mostly wrote about this last time, but ended up loving it! I really think that having the insight into Yuko's thoughts helps a lot. I love her growth throughout the book, and the entire constructed fantasy world is just really awesome. I have the second book checked out from the library now, & maybe some day I'll try the anime again, too.

Kaze Hikaru, volumes 6-10 - I'm really enjoying this series a lot more than I thought I would. The art style has grown on me - I really like the faces for Okita Souji & Hijikata & etc., and the backgrounds are great, too. I like reading about the daily inner-workings of the Shinsengumi, & I do like how the volumes are dealing with the populace's perception of the Shinsengumi as blood-thirsty wolves, even though the members of the troop view themselves as noble protectors. This conflicting view of oppressor vs. protector is interesting, and I hope the manga-ka keeps picking it apart.
Taeko Watanabe's end-of-volume reviews of historical fact are nice, too.

Reading this series leads me to look up a lot of historical figures on Wikipedia, & now that I've started watching Rurouni Kenshin on Crunchyroll, I feel pretty conflicted about who to root for in the Bakumatsu!!

All that said, Sei's love for Souji is really compelling. I love her rejection of simply becoming his wife, & continuing to dress as a man so that she can protect his life in battle as her way of expressing her love.

Learning the World by Ken MacLeod - This is a sci-fi novel about a generation ship in which the POV switches back and forth between the people on a ship approaching a world with intelligent life, & the people living on the world which they're approaching. There are politics & governments & inventions & lots of discussions over tea. Sadly, I think this is an author where I like the ideas and concepts much more than the writing.
I find that with many sci-fi enthusiasts, they can rave about the ideas or world-building, but I don't really give a fuck unless the characters & the writing really reach me.
AND YET, it was decent enough that I might try his revolution series that [personal profile] jesse_the_k told me about.

On Being Ill by Virginia Woolf - Picked this up on a whim at the library. Woolf's questions about why don't more narratives take on the concept of illness - something which could be compelling and with which everyone can relate - were super intriguing!
It was followed by "notes" from her mother, Julia Stephens, about how to care for sick people. While probably unusual at the time, most of her advice comes down to giving sick people autonomy - don't just fluff up their pillows without asking; don't enter the house and mutter about their illness instead of speaking so they can hear you, etc. Lots of advice also on how best to pin the sheets, how best to prepare beef broth, etc.
I wouldn't mind having Woolf's mom care for me, ;)
Quick read.

Dawn of the Arcana, volumes 9 & 10 - I loathed volume 9 because NOTHING ever happens, the volumes are pretty easy to blow through because there's very few words per page, blah-blah. But volume 10 involves a few-months time-jump & a seizure of agency by the protagonist, who's spent a lot of time whining before. I'll probably continue with this! Too bad I'm almost caught up with the English release - I've been waiting for volume 11 for months, & it'll probably be a while before I get it.

K-ON! High School by kakifly - After finishing watching season 2 of the anime, I was happy to be able to immediately pick this up & read about Azusa's last year of high school. I really love K-ON! all around, although I think it's a series in which I prefer the anime to the manga. I have the K-ON! college tome somewhere around my apartment (or at least, I think I do), & I'm kind of dying to read it.

Black Dogs by Ian McEwan - Since reading Atonement a couple years ago, I seem to read one of his per year. I love McEwan's writing, I think I would read almost anything he's written. It's a story about a complicated marriage, told by a son-in-law. It's also about post-WWII Europe, & evil, & love.


Currently Reading
Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn - do to the content I've been warned about, I put this on hold for a couple months but I think I can handle it now. Only one chapter in so far - following the high levels of excitement in the previous volume, Kitty's hanging out in the middle of nowhere to find some peace. I'm pretty sure she won't quite find it. I'm happy to return to her life.
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, Reina holding Kumiko's face w/one hand, faces close enough to almost touch. (Glee: Pezberry couch)
Currently Reading
The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono - I've been aware of the Twelve Kingdoms anime for years. Back in my semester of Anime Club as a college freshman, this was one of the three shows airing. Steph and I hated it, regularly heckling it under our breath & talking about how much we couldn't stand the protagonist & more especially one of her companions. To be fair, we did miss at least the first two episodes, I think.
I actually really love the book. Getting inside of Yoko's head makes up for a lot of what's just whining in the show.
Yoko gets transported from her high school to another world by a mysterious dude with golden hair named Keiki. They get separated pretty early on, & all she has is a sword, a demon attached to her that allows her to fight extremely well with the weapon, & a jewel that heals her.
She gets taken in by some humans a few times, but gets betrayed by them every time.
I just reached the part where she met the rat, Rakushun.

I'm looking forward to reading more of these, even though I know Tokyopop only released 4 of the volumes, & I've heard that the translation/editing for the 4th volume is abysmal. I'm assuming there are translations of these online - anyone have a link?! ;)


Completed
maybe one day a plane will bring me home by [archiveofourown.org profile] astano - The first five times Santana visits New York.

A Scheme, Starring Rachel Berry, with Music and Lyrics by Rachel Berry (and Sam Evans) by [archiveofourown.org profile] ellydash - Rachel’s running after Finn. Sam’s running after Quinn. Eventually, they realize they’re running side by side. Season 2. I read a small blurb on Tumblr recently related to writing, where the mark of good fanfiction especially is that for every line of dialogue, you can't imagine anyone else saying except for the character who's saying it. [archiveofourown.org profile] ellydash is really good at that. Every single character feels spot-on, even/especially those who don't have big parts in the story.
I want to write like that.
& of course I'd now like to read this author's entire Glee backlog.

There's so much good Glee fanfiction I haven't read yet. :*) And due to that, I fell down a rabbit hole of ellydash's backlog & also [tumblr.com profile] ratherembarrassing's Pezberry reclist.

All My Loving For Someone Who's Loving Me by [archiveofourown.org profile] ellydash - Mercedes/Brittany/Santana - A Troubletones rehearsal at Santana’s house doesn't go exactly as planned.

Make Me Feel the Same by [livejournal.com profile] gilligankane - Pezberry written after episode 1.15. "She finds out about Finn and Santana through Tina who found out from Mercedes who got it from Kurt who was talking to Brittany who mentioned it in the first place." (I THINK THIS MIGHT BE THE FIRST PEZBERRY EVER WRITTEN?!)

Apologies by [livejournal.com profile] insaneantics21 - During 2x12. Santana & Rachel apologize to one another for the shitty things they've said to each other.

i seem incapable of titling things when drunk by [livejournal.com profile] lynnearlington - spoilers for 2x18, "stop acting like you aren't hot, it's pissing me off"
bandage and the blade by [archiveofourown.org profile] ellydash - It’s so much easier, in the end, for Emma to blame everything on Will. This focuses on Emma's anxiety & struggles with OCD.
Saga #x

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson - As with The Midnight Robber, I really love the politics & the world that Hopkinson has set up - in this case a dystopian Toronto where Ti-Jeanne's grandmother's herbal skills are valued, whereas before they were a thing the family couldn't talk about. But I wish there was more about the society/etc., and that it was a longer story. Instead, it's pretty focused on Ti-Jeanne's journey. While I appreciate that she's a protagonist who made mistakes but remained sympathetic, I overall felt a little "meh" about this & rated it 3/5 stars.

Very! Very! Sweet, volumes 4-6 - Still loving this story - the clothes that Be-Ri wears (it seems rare that a heroine in manga/manhwa wears baggy clothing that's still cute/etc.?!), her developing relationship with her love interest, & just everything else.

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline - Some of the blurbs on the book describe this as being the "Omnivore's Dilemma" for the fashion industry, & that's sort of true. Cline looks into the outsourcing of the production of garments, & also the race to use as cheap of labor as possible with no thought as to either the quality of the final product nor the lives of the people working to make the clothing.
Some of the things Cline talks about are familiar: Women bragging to one another about how little money they spent on clothing; having no idea which fabrics are "good" (raises hand); etc. While I've never watched clothing "haul" videos on YouTube, I watch makeup ones semi-frequently, so I knew what she was talking about.
Some of the things she discusses are unfamiliar: While I mainly shop at places like Penney's, Gap, & Kohl's, Cline talks about buying garments that are only meant to last "3 washes" or so, & talks about throwing her clothes away. I think maybe this happens more often with stuff from Charlotte Russe or Forever 21 (none of which make clothing in my size), so I'm not sure what's up with the discrepancy. I wear clothing for years, & if something only last me 3 wears, I would be pissed.
Anyway, I gave this not that great of a grade because I found it pretty repetitive and not instructive in the end. She has a final chapter on how people should learn basic sewing techniques, buy a few higher quality items that will last longer, & familiarize themselves with their local tailors. These all seem like good ideas, but I still have no idea where to buy "good quality" clothing or how to go about recognizing "good" clothing.
I have a hard enough time finding clothing that fits me & drapes well on my body shape.
Still, I could learn how to repair ripped seams, or patch holes to make "weekend jeans," or a few things like that.
She did mention people like the blogger behind Refashionista, a woman who takes old/out-of-date clothing from resale shops & remakes them into modern/solid clothes to wear at a much cheaper price. It's a neat blog, but I'm not willing to invest that much time into it, I don't think.
As sort of a coda, I also listened to a Planet Money podcast about a family working in a clothing factory in Bangladesh.
laceblade: Cardcaptor Sakura, smiling at viewer, surrounded by pink. Text: RESOLUTION (CCS: Resolution)
• What are you currently reading?
Robert Kennedy and His Times by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
There was obviously lots of Kennedy reminisces last week with the 50-year anniversary of JFK's assassination.
I bought this for $2 at the Memorial Library sale a couple months ago, during the Wisconsin Book Festival.
I like it quite a bit, just finished the chapter about the investigation committee into unions/etc., focusing on Jimmy Hoffa.
Overall, it's very sanitized, pretty obvious Schlesinger was a close family friend, etc.
For example, the mention of Rosemary going to live with nuns in Wisconsin is just a simple, "She got worse," with no mention of the attempted-and-botched lobotomy.
I empathize for RFK, who most people seemed to take as crabby & irritable if they didn't know him very well.

Very! Very! Sweet, volume 4. Only a chapter in, but I finally have this volume, which means I'll get from here to volume 8/the end in short order.

Hild by Nicola Griffith - It took about 70 pages for me to fall into this book. So far, I don't love it quite so much as some of her other stuff, but I'm sure she'll set me straight before the end.
Griffith is one of my favorite authors, & she and her wife are doing in a reading in my city next Tuesday at my favorite bookstore, so I'm pretty excited.


• What did you recently finish reading?
X-Men: Curse of the Mutants - This is essentially X-Men versus vampires. Jubilee becoming a vampire was interesting, but overall I disliked this.

X-Men: With Great Power - Following the previous volume, this was also written by Victor Gischler. I'm glad to get a little familiar with him, as he's going to be taking over the writing for Angel & Faith when Buffy season 10 starts up.
This included some more recognizable characters (Spider-Man), and the team is dealing with PI. I liked the art much more in this volume than Curse of the Mutants, in part because it was much less objectifying of women. While I found Xavier's manpain flashback sentiment in the last issue annoying, I appreciated him communicating to Jubilee that she'll be able to find a way to live with her new condition.
My goal in reading these was to get the backlog for the current series headed by Brian Wood. Given the revelation a couple weeks ago, I haven't decided yet whether I'll be continuing. In the meantime, I'll keep trying to get through the previous arc via the library.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1-17 or so, + micro 1-8 + Infestation 1 & 2, + Eastman's 2012 annual: I've been behind on this for...years?! But I keep buying the single issues, resulting in general guilt :/
Luckily, I really enjoyed these (yes, some were rereads). I loved TMNT as a kid. I'm pretty sure my parents still have my turtles/Casey Jones/Bebop & Rock Steady action figures. As a child, one of my ambitions (in addition to being Batman) was to be a TMNT myself.
Anyway, these are dark-ish. Mutant turtles fight ninjas! April is a research intern! I roll my eyes a little at the Splinter/turtles/Shredder were Japanese men reincarnated, but overall these are pretty fun to read. I still have more to catch up on.
I found Infestation 1 & 2 subpar except for the art, & kind of loathed the art in Eastman's annual.

Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America - The title is sort of self-explanatory, but this book has a white investigative journalist telling the story of Jackie Bates, a black woman living in Chicago who provides care for her 3 children, husband who's on kidney dialysis & abuses drugs, ailing deadbeat father, and her diabetic grandma who's in crisis. The book was published in 1993, although it's obviously still relevant today. Complex bureaucracy consistnetly fails the Bates family. I particularly liked the chapter focusing on the Orthodox Jewish doctor who refused to discuss do-not-resuscitate orders with the family because he didn't agree with it himself. While distant with the Bates, Abraham follows him to his practice where he treats other Jews, and his demeanor is totally different.
But the Bates family never finds a practitioner who's on their level.
The book also spends a chapter talking about black people's fear of research, and also how consent given by poor people is often less informed than consent given by middle class whites - with whom many educated doctors can better related. Like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, there's a voyeuristic feel here - a white woman telling a black family's story. I wonder what Jackie's kids will feel when they grow up and read this book, intimately discussing their family's mental health, drug problems, etc. Still, it was put out by an academic publisher and is less of a fame thing than Skloot's book.
The book is highly relevant to my job, glad to have read it.

The Hemingses of Monticello - I waited until only days before this was due back at the library, so of course I didn't finish it (have since checked it out again so I'll be able to continue!). I think this is a pretty well-known book, but Gordon-Reed's goal is basically to tell the story of the Hemings family - a family of slaves living in Virginia at the time of the American Revolution. Sally Hemings had numerous children with Thomas Jefferson. I only made it through the first 9 chapters, so 14-year-old Sally and one of Jefferson's daughters had just joined him in Paris, where he's hanging out, still upset over his wife's death.
It'd be easy to focus on Jefferson, and while I've always found him an interesting person, I'm really appreciative that Gordon-Reed refuses to let this story belong to anyone but the Hemingses.
I'm looking forward to reading more of this.

Adaptation - I think I like this the most out of the books I've read by Malinda Lo so far. We read this for [community profile] beer_marmalade. Very fast-paced, love the characters. Complicated, government conspiracies, a coming out story, lots of good stuff.

Dengeki Daisy, vol. 1 - Teru's brother was a hacker before he died. On his death bed, he gave a phone to her so that she could communicate with his friend DAISY - another hacker like himself who will always listen to Teru's problems now that she's alone, & will help her out of binds.
The real-life Daisy is a 24-year-old janitor at her school, although they both pretend they don't know he's Daisy.
When Teru breaks a school window, she has to "work off" her debt.
I grow tired of shoujo manga plots where the heroines become indentured servants to men.
It seems weird at first for a girl to be soe dependent on a guy she's never met but still tells all her problems to, & yet I did the same thing in middle/high school with a guy I'd met in an internet chat room, so this story has enough for me to continue for now.

Wild Com - a volume of short stories by Yumi Tamura, the manga-ka behind my beloved Basara.
I really loved the first story, in which people with elemental powers try to save others around them. The theme is "try your best no matter what," which happens a lot in manga but never fails to be incredibly moving to me!
The other stories were strange & weird but more forgettable.

Air: Letters from Lost Countries by G. Willow Wilson. Since she's going to be writing Ms. Marvel when it starts coming out in 2014, I wanted to be a little more familiar with Wilson's work. So far I've only previously read the stand-alone "Mystic" comic, meant for kids, which I didn't really like.
Air is about a flight attendant who's afraid of falling. Her love interest is an inpersonation-chameleon, and either a terrorist himself, or running from terrorists - or both.
There's a lot going on here, & I'll be reading more.
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)
FINISHED READING
Cold Fire - This was a very engrossing follow-up to the first book, Cold Magic. It's a bit of a brick, but I was never bored, and every single chapter ended on a cliffhanger. These books are a delight for me - revolutionaries and political intrigue, deceit and betrayal, Cat and Bee's fierce friendship and banter. I liked Rory a lot more this volume. I basically loved everything about it. I have Cold Steel on hold at the library, and I think this trilogy is going on my list of favorites. I know I'll be rereading them.

Kaze Hikaru, volumes 3-5 - The more I read in this series, the more I like it. Sei's love for Okita Souji is compelling. At some point, Sei's woman confidant asks Sei if she wouldn't be happy marrying Souji and bearing his children. Sei replies that no, she would prefer to show her love by protecting Souji as a remember of the Shinsengumi. <3 <3 <3!! Sei repeatedly tells those who know the secret of her sex, "I'm not a girl! I am bushi!" It's nice getting to know Kondo and Hijikata better, too.

IRB Member Handbook - I'm not an IRB member, but this book is still relevant to my job training. It's a nice distillation of why IRBs exist and best practices. Probably a little dry for those not required to read it for work, ^^


READING NOW
The Lucy Variations, which I think [personal profile] owlectomy blogged about. It's about being a teenager & figuring out who you are. Lucy comes from a hella rich family who's played piano internationally, until her family's tendency to place fame/piano over everything else prompts her to quit.
I like the book okay, & it's going quickly.
And I think I'll probably dig out my Mozart & Chopin music and bring it home with me this weekend, when I visit the family piano at my sister's.
laceblade: Fanart of Yukiko & Chie from Persona 4 (P4: Yukiko/Chie)
• What are you currently reading?
Kaze Hikaru, volume 2. I read volume 1 a while ago, & I think I totally forgot to mention it. Anyway, a shoujo romance about the Shinsengumi. The protagonist is a girl who disguises herself as a boy to avenge the deaths of her father & brother.
My previous exposure to the Shinsengumi is the anime “Peacemaker Kurogane,” which I loathed b/c I thought was horribly paced, & also hated the protagonist.
So I know the Okita Souji is a bamf. Souji is the protag’s love interest in this series.
I’m not really digging this thus far, but I have a bunch of volumes checked out, so I’ll be reading at least a bit more, unless I get too frustrated!

• What did you recently finish reading?
Kitty Goes to Washington - So, in addition to the inclusion of congressional hearings & NIH research, I also feel like I’m just settling into this series’ ‘verse.
I really appreciate that the protagonist compares lycanthropy to a non-fatal chronic illness, & when being questioned by a confrontational senator, she talks about how depression is more likely, but it’s hard to know whether the depression is caused by the illness itself or by all of the life modifications one must make to to keep living with a non-fatal chronic illness.
And uh, as a person who’s gone through some heavy depression due to hugely anxious-making life modifications that were necessitated by a non-fatal chronic illness, HELLO, OVER-IDENTIFICATION WITH THE PROTAGONIST!

Especially after the events of the first book, I really love Kitty encountering other communities of vampires/were-animals, other ways of coping with her changed life, other possibilities.

I also like that she’s referred to non-werewolves more than once as “her pack.”
This is a thought I’d first encountered in Teen Wolf, one of the things that I like about that often-heinous TV show.

Very, Very, Sweet!, volume 2 - I don’t have much to say about this volume except that I still like it. It portrays the frustrations of trying to communicate in another language quite well, imo.

Revival, volume 1 - aka, zombie comic set in Wausau, WI. This series is pretty violent, BUT I appreciate its commitment to diversity & its locale, so I’ll probably keep up with it, although I think I don’t like it well enough to buy the comics in trade.

Kokoro - This is a classic of Japanese literature, set at the end of the Meiji era. It’s pretty dark, focusing heavily on death & suicide, with insights into human nature/etc. It’s difficult to discuss without spoiling the whole thing!
Anyway, this was part of a collection of Japanese literature I won in a Con or Bust auction, so I’m excited to read more of them in the future.
laceblade: Cardcaptor Sakura, smiling at viewer, surrounded by pink. Text: RESOLUTION (CCS: Resolution)
• What are you currently reading?
The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama by Gwen Ifill - I picked this up on a whim at the library. So far it's a fairly quick read & extremely well-written. I watch the PBS News Hour every evening, and I <3 Ifill. It's awesome knowing that she's a good writer, too.
This book is also helping me fill a gap in my knowledge about black politicians in the US.

• What did you recently finish reading?
Moar Basara manga (volumes 18-21) - AUGH so fun/awesome. Everything's tipping toward war & I want them to find other solutions. I liked the arc including the Purple Lady (I think?! At this point things are already hazy lol).

Ash #1: The Secret History by Mary Gentle. I'd read this post by [personal profile] starlady a while ago. On Friday evening, I found this book while perusing a used bookstore with friends, & kind of devoured it over the weekend.
It's a very realistic look at medieval war? But through the POV of a woman knight who hears a voice (which she refers to as "her saint") that guides her through battles. She's a mercenary who commands her own troops, & is a total badass.
TW for rape.

I was upset to get to the end & then find that my library doesn't carry the other three volumes in this quartet! >_<
Luckily, my employer's library has it, although it's the UK version, which is 1,000+ pages, so I might not be toting that to/from work, ^^;;
I did buy Rats and Gargoyles from her at the same time, so that may tide me over.

• What do you think you’ll read next?
WELL, the rest of the Basara series is waiting for me at the library, so I expect I'll pick that up in one swoop & plow through it, likely this weekend when I go Up North to hang out with my family? Plus other books hanging around.

Last weekend we set up a table of The Boyfriend's at the foot of our bed. My peace lily looks really handsome on it, but I also took the opportunity to create a stack of "books I'm reading right now." Seeing them all in a stack makes me want to finish them all! So maybe I'll turn back toward stuff I've started but not yet finished (The Other Boleyn Girl, the Marquez, Kokoro, etc.).
laceblade: Dark icon, white spraypaint on bottom with "DA" for Dumbledore's Army. Top text, in caps: We will not obey. (HP: Dumbledore's Army: We will not obey)
• What are you currently reading?
Basara manga! (see below)

• What did you recently finish reading?
The Cuckoo's Calling - overall verdict is UGGHHHHHH THIS IS SO GOOD. I couldn't put it down - I was as engrossed with this book as I was with Harry Potter.
The protagonist, Strike, copes with residual pain from having his leg amputated in the military. He uses a prosthesis, but his stump can get sore & flare up when he walks too much, as happens when he's working a lot, interviewing witnesses, scoping out scenes, etc.
The narrative starts from his temporary assistant Robin's point of view, but the story is Strike's. Throughout the book, we see glimpses of Robin's thoughts, but usually just when they start to get interesting, we shift back to Strike.
Rowling's POV characters can be incredibly harsh in the way they observe other people, which at times can be a little uncomfortable. Rowling never ignores the effects of race & class on people, but her POV characters are white. So you'll have things that pop up, like describing an Asian background character as "Oriental."
It's also a mystery/crime novel, so typical warnings for like, violence/murders/things like that.
I'll be buying this when it comes out in paperback, best thing I've read in the last little while.
I prefer this to The Casual Vacancy, which was well-written but was an almost distasteful finger-shaking at society given how...overwrought it was?!

Immediately after finishing TCC, I realized that volume 21 of Basara was due back at the library on 7/22, & I'd only read through volume 9. THUS, BASARA BINGE.
Basara, volumes 10-17 - lots of development in volume 10, & I really loved it. Spoilers. )

In volume 13, Sarasa meets people resisting Suo City's latest tryant.
Sarasa reflects that Rinko doesn't "look like" a rebel leader because she's so feminine - she prints an underground newspaper and then makes her living by sewing clothing. It's hard for Sarasa to reconcile femininity with rebellion - in her own life, she has to adopt a masculine identity to be a leader (or so she thinks - her own friends/forces welcomed her when she revealed her true gender/identity).
I wonder whether there will be more exploration of Sarasa's relationship with gender before the end? I hope so.
Anyway, Rinko's boyfriend Hozumi is disgusted with volume, and shows a different way to resist - painting green swirls coming out from Rinko's pyre after she's been captured & is being publicly shamed/tortured. Hozumi says, "If I try to make a speech now, it can only sound naive. ...Why do they think killing is the only way to make change? Can't the world be made better through creation instead?"
LOTS OF FEELINGS.

Similarly, lots of feelings in volume 15, when Shuri & Sarasa have some further revelations. I'm still racing through to make it through volume 21 before the library closes tomorrow!

• What do you think you’ll read next?
MOAR BASARA so that I can return a pile of stuff to the library tomorrow. After that, idk. I still have lots of stuff checked out from the library, so probably more of that :D
laceblade: fanart of Harry Potter in Gryffindor scarf, Hedwig landing on his outstretched arm (HP: Hedwig)
• What are you currently reading?
Constantine's Sword by James Campbell, - Still chipping at this. Campbell's tendency to talk about his personal life (including really creepy fixation on his mom?!?!?) is aggravating & frequent.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith/aka JK Rowling. I snagged this from the library & it's due back next week because I think they all have 14-day limits due to so many people checking them out.
The chapters are short & manageable. As with The Casual Vacancy, I actually just LIKE Rowling's prose, & this one seems a little less doom/doom/doom-focused than TCV.


• What did you recently finish reading?
Soul Eater, volumes 6-9 - As I mentioned last time I blogged about this series...I think I've decided I'm only in this for the art style. The plot does absolutely nothing for me, & Maka is the only character who feels like actual person.
Once I finish with the series I'm on right now (Soul Eater, Cross Game, Basara), I'm going to need to find some manga I really love (maybe some of the ones I own & haven't read yet, sob). Of the ones I'm reading right now, I only have a lot of love for Basara. idk if it's me having a rough time or manga. It seems like a lot of manga publishers in the US keep rereleasing older stuff in larger omnibus formats. Have we exhausted all the good stuff from Japan?!
I doubt it, I guess. Many manga companies have gone under, & others are struggling. Rather than gamble on new shit, they'd prefer to release things they know will sell well -_-
AH WELL. I know I haven't read every good series ever. I'm looking forward to wrapping these series up (I have a thing about completion) so I can move on to other things, more interesting characters, etc. (again, Basara excepted)

Pantomime by Laura Lam, read for [community profile] beer_marmalade. This is the first book I've read about an intersex person. The protag, Micah, is complex and really fun to read about. The prose is not great, & the dialogue is often awful. I liked the way the story was told: present-as-Micah, past-as-Iphigenia. I might be interested enough to pick up the sequel, whenever it comes out.
I really wish I'd known this WASN'T stand-alone when I picked it up, as it made for a really unsatisfying ending.

Saga, #13 - This finally came back from hiatus! I am behind on all my other comic series, but I devoured this immediately after purchasing it. As before, I just love everything about this series. The art, the lettering, the story, the characters, the writing, just - GAH, SO GOOD.


• What do you think you’ll read next?
I'll be focusing on The Cuckoo's Calling, as I hope to read all of it before it's due back at the library.

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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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