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: 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: spoof on Berenstein Bears book cover, title: "Learn About Cylons." Brother Bear is aghast. (Truth about Cylons)
Arata the Legend by Yuu Watase - I've read about 15 volumes of this so far, and plan to keep going. This is the manga Watase was meant to write, imo. Or maybe her past experience has led her to the point of being able to produce a very well-paced manga. ALSO HER WOMEN HAVE HIPS. ALWAYS. IN MANGA. IT'S AMAZING. This series runs in Shounen Manga, but I believe that it is a Secret Shoujo Manga. Two young men named Arata exist in different universes. One is a high school boy in Japan who's been bullied and has no friends. The other is a warrior accused of attempting to assassinate the princess he was supposed to become [there's a shortage of girls in his clan]. Due to some sort of temporal rift, they switch places!
In order to help the nearly-assassinated princess restore her power, the Arata-from-our-world becomes a Shō, one who can use a sword-weapon that houses the spirit of a goddess. In order to get the power/weapon [I forget which, probably both] he needs, Arata needs the Twelve Shinshou of this world to submit to him. Clearly everyone thinks that submission is won through battle - EXCEPT THAT ACTUALLY IT'S BY LEARNING PEOPLE'S TRAGIC BACKSTORIES, UNDERSTANDING THEIR FEELINGS, AND HAVING THE PERSON SUBMIT THEIR WILL UNDER ARATA'S BECAUSE THEY DECIDE TO GIVE UP THEIR VENGEANCE/ETC.!!! This is why it is A Secret Shoujo Manga.

This has a lot of really good Oh, shit! plot twists. The plot has dragged for the past few volumes, and I thought the cover for one of the volumes was supposed to be a joke. In it, it's revealed that the spirit of everyone's weapon is an absurdly large-breasted woman. I'm going to go ahead and assume that this was not Watase's idea, but rather her editor's. She blogged about the abuse and harassment she received from her editor while working on this series I'm glad she got rid of him, and I hope she's back in control!


xxxHolic by CLAMP - the volumes I've read so far are rereads, but I never finished this entire series. The art is amazing. It's very peaceful. This remains one of my favorite series.


Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta. I borrowed this from the library because it was on the most recent Tiptree Award list. I started out pretty dubious about the premise - post-apocalyptic Scandinavian world in which a teenage girl's father performs the Japanese tea ceremony for a living despite the fact that water is hoarded and rationed in their community. The plot is vague, but the plot isn't the point.


Chime by Franny Billingsley - another one of those anachronistically written YA novels, but in this one the protagonist is dealing with a negative thought cycle that will familiar to people with depression.
laceblade: Fanart of Revolutionary Girl Utena, holding sword and looking at viewer. (Utena fanart)
Vampire Knight, vol. 5 - Uhhh, I finished this right before going out of town for a week & have no memory of it. VAMPIRES COVERED IN BLOOD.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I know there have been a bunch of other comics I've read after borrowing them from people from comics club, but I'll have to do those after my vacation!
laceblade: 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: Manga drawing of Yamada sipping from a milk carton with a straw (Honey & Clover: Yamada drink)
Avengers Assemble, vol. 1 - I believe this was intended to be a jumping off point from the "Avengers" Whedon movie.

While it's a crossover event with Guardians of the Galaxy, I was able to follow the plot decently well despite being unfamiliar with the GoG.

This book is high on action but low on characterization, making me feel kind of "meh" about it. Clint Barton constantly cracking jokes about his own stupidity, Hulk did nothing for me, etc.

I don't regret having read it, but I'm glad I got this from the library & didn't buy it. The art didn't do much for me, either. I have higher hopes for DeConnick's run, which I believe follows this one.


Anne of Green Gables - I know I read this at some point in my childhood, but it was never a favorite series for me, even though my sister had them on the shelves.
It was my sister's copy that I borrowed; I picked it up while sitting in her living room during some family function.

I loved it, all of it. Anne herself is a critique on the silliness of Victorian society, & she also grows up into an understanding and gracious woman.

I'm really excited to read the next books in the series - I can't remember ever having read them, & I'm eager to see what Anne & Marilla do next.


The Kingdom of Gods - I'm having a hard time figuring out why I disliked this book so much, especially considering that I enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy quite a bit.

The dialogue, the endless exposition, all of it - I got two-thirds of the way through & just cannot stand it, cannot finish it. I think it's the pacing that's throwing me off, or perhaps Sieh's voice, I'm not sure.


Saga #21 - I miss Lying Cat.
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.
laceblade: fanart of Ohana turning to look beyond viewer. Coloring blue/moody. (Hanasaku Iroha: Ohana)
Buffy #3 - I read this! Written by Nicholas Brendan, which is sort of notable. It was amusing enough, although I'm probably not as excited as other fans are.

Plume 1-4 - I picked these up in the $0.25 bin at the comics shop. It's apparently based on a webcomic. It gave me a lot of feelings reminiscent of Min-Woo Hyung's Priest manhwa, but I think I like this heroine a bit more. The art style is really great. I asked my comics guy to order the fifth issue for me, which wraps up this introductory arc. I believe this printing was funded by a Kickstarter; to read the rest, I'll need to read it here.

One Piece, vols. 10-12 (omnibus) - A decent continuation of the plot from the previous volume. I liked Luffy's superpower actually being used (as opposed to a glaring continuity error). I also liked Usopp finding the will to fight after thinking about facing his courageous friends afterward if he hadn't.
I enjoyed the closure to Nami's arc - she's my favorite character. It's fun to see the gang finally hanging out in the Grand Line, even if it's not going as they expected. I hope that Tashigi sticks around. She seems like an interesting character.
For 12, I felt pretty meh of the denoument of this arc?! But the next volume starts a new one!!

Homecoming - This series used to be a childhood favorite of mine, & I was in need of a comfort read.
I still really love this, & it came at a good time for me. I like how the kids respond positively to being treated like adults, how much they trust one another, the way the entire book is about class privilege, and how awesome Dicey is.
I'm glad this comfort reread held up for me.

Dicey's Song - This is another reread; it's probably been at least fifteen years since I'd last read it. Dicey defying her teacher over something she wrote made me remember why I identified with her so strongly.
Even though I knew what would happen, the ending still made me cry.
I love this family and the community they create. The truths everyone teaches one another are comforting.
I'm really glad to have returned to this series, & hope to keep progressing.

A Dangerous Inheritance - This was a good follow-up to "Innocent Traitor," which I'd read back in April, & focused on Lady Jane Grey.
This book picks up where that one left off, focusing on the life of Jane Grey's sister, Katherine. I found Katherine Grey to be pretty stupid, but luckily this book has two heroines. Interlaced with Katherine Grey's life is the story of Katherine Plantagenet, the bastard daughter of Richard III. Both Katherines live mostly unhappy lives, manipulated by the people around them due to their bloodlines. They fall in love with people they shouldn't. And they both have an unhealthy obsession with what happened to Richard III's nephews, famously known as the princes in the Tower.
I like Weir's historical fiction in part because I know she's an historian and a lot of her plots are based on facts. Her afterward reveals what she made up, and from where she found her facts.
I loved the small glimpses we got of Elizabeth I in this book, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book, which focuses on her: Captive Queen.

A True Novel, Book I - This is only the first "half," but the library only sends me one at a time, & at 450 pages I'm counting this as its own "book," even though I haven't read the second volume yet.

This is technically a retelling of Wuthering Heights. The characters are Japanese. It's a book about wealth, racism, westernization, the effects of World War II on Japanese society, and human nature.
I've consumed a lot of Japanese-created media, but this book is unlike anything I've ever read. Mastserful. I kept having to remind myself that it's fiction.

There's a family tree in the back - wish I'd known that all the way through.
I really hope they translate more of Mizumura's novels into English. In the meantime, I am very much looking forward to book II.
laceblade: A curved dirt road in the middle of a forest (Up North)
Heidi - As a child, I imprinted on the movie version of Heidi, which had Jason Robards & cast Jane Seymour as Fraulein Rottenmeier. This probably had a lot to do with the fact that I devoutly watched Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, every week (yeah, I know).
Heidi is a book about miserable people whose mental & physical woes are cured by the fresh air & impressive views of the Alps. Or possibly, faith in God.
There's a weird trick with this one. Despite the fact that I really don't believe in, "God has a plan, so everything will work out, you just need to trust him" & also tend to abhor the "person is paralyzed and then magically cured!!", it works for me in this book because the "cure" works first for people who are sad & visit the mountain. They eat good food, they get stronger by being outside. And after Heidi comes back from Frankfurt & becomes a little more "learned," people become less crabby/fearful both because they reconcile their relationships with God & also because they meet one another through Heidi, & are able to help solve one another's problems.
Peter's grandmother can never sleep at night because their house is rattling, & she's afraid it'll cave in. Heidi's irritable grandfather comes & patches it all up before the winter, & so Grandmother is able to sleep & grow a little stronger.
Also, Heidi's able to pull strings with her rich friends in Frankfurt to supply the Grandmother with soft bread she can eat (rather than the cheaper brown bread she can't really handle), & also transport the bed she herself slept on in Germany so that the Grandmother's head can be elevated at night.
It all works out, like some kind of feminist utopia. The book was written in 1880, so ymmv. I really liked it.

ATLA FCBD offering - I was so excited to read this because Faith Erin Hicks did the art!! GO FAITH!!! An excellent story for Free Comic Book Day, & we got to see Suki be a badass.

Journey Into Mystery featuring Lady Sif, volume 1: Stronger Than Monsters - borrowed from [personal profile] garrideb through our comics club. Sif is kind of like a lady-version of Thor. No prior knowledge of Asgard/Thor stuff is needed, which is good, because I've never seen his movies & am only aware of him as he appears in the Avengers movie. This was pretty decent! I put volume 2 on hold at the library, although I think the story was canceled after just two volumes.
It'll be interesting the next time I reread my beloved Runaways, as I've now read other stuff by most of the authors!

Sea Change - Continuing in my quest to read books from the 2013 Tiptree Award Shortlist. I'm going to be lazy & crib the Tiptree Award's description:
This debut novel tells a dark, fairy tale-like story of a young girl and her best friend, Octavius, who is an eloquent, intelligent kraken. When Octavius is captured, Lilly sets out to rescue him, bargaining with a greedy circus master, a witch, and a pair of gay bandits. She is transformed by her quest, giving up everything she has known, including her gender, to save her friend.
And it does pretty much that! An okay read, but this writing style didn't really grab me.

Angel & Faith, s10 #2 - Still okay-ish?! I'm feeling Faith's plot more than Angel's at the moment. I hope they team up again.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - This was a reread, although I didn't remember much of my first read except that I liked it, lol. AND I STILL LIKE IT. The gods, Yeine, political intrigue up the wazoo, this is just great. I know some people have griped about the writing, in how the narrator is flashing forward and back sometimes, but it really works for me as an honest first-person perspective, and that's how I feel when I'm reading it - not at all like I'm uncomfortable in the hands of an inexperienced writer.
I reread it so that I can read the rest of the trilogy. N.K. Jemisin is one of the Guests of Honor at this year's WisCon, which is why I'm try to hustle through some of her books before Memorial Day weekend. I'm really looking forward to the next one, especially because it gets away from the uber-privileged people of the first book. I'm eager to see what this world looks like from someone else's perspective.
I was stopped by two strangers - one on the bus & one on the street - who told me how much they love this book.
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: 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)
Finished Reading
Kaze Hikaru, volume 13 - Still very much enjoying this series, although it does bug me how much Miki's weight is used for comic relief.

Kitty and the Silver Bullet (#4) - I liked this volume. It wraps up a lot of loose ends that have been hanging around since the first book, but it's all pretty intense. I really like where everyone ends up at the end of this volume, and I'm excited to see how things evolve.

Inheritance by Malinda Lo - This is the sequel to Adaptation. Like the first book, it's very fast-paced and hard to put down, which was good for me since I needed to read it in a day in order to get it back to the library!
I love the way this ends up bucking typical-YA-love-triangles. It seems like the series is done, but I would read more.
A lot of people on Goodreads were complaining about the protagonist's bisexuality, which is a pretty stupid complaint.
I loved these because the characters felt like people, which is a thing that is sort of rare in SF-for-adults, IMO.
These are my favorite books by Malinda Lo so far.
I did freak out a little about the kids giving no more than verbal assent to have their entire DNA sequenced at an academic research institution - it would take a written consent form with lots of warnings about future insurability!!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - I'm traveling to Harry Potter World in Florida mid-month with three of my high school friends, so I'm trying to see whether I can get through the series before then! Going back to work is slowing me down for sure, ^^;;
Still surprised by how quickly the first book goes by - it's pretty much a constant, "Wow, we're at the troll ALREADY?!"/etc.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - I used to dislike this book when I was younger, but I don't really remember why. Reading it now, it's easy to see why I liked Ginny quite a bit, even before she became a more prominent character in the later books.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Easily my favorite of the first three books. Not only is the Sirius Black plot frightening & interesting, I love the Marauders back story. My iPhone case is the Marauders' map!
I like the kids starting to be sarcastic with one another in this book, as well as talking back to their teachers a little bit. I always wish Lupin would have been a little closer with Harry in later books, like Sirius.
Rowling's use of adverbs began to bug me in this book, though. I get annoyed & disappointed by her using descriptors like "piggy eyes" and "piggy face" to describe fat people. Hopefully I can get through the rest without going nuts!

Currently Reading
Nothing, as I went to draft this post immediately after finishing POA!
Previously, my favorite book has always been Order of the Phoenix. We'll see if that holds true this time.

OTHER
Although I've been on the periphery of HP "fandom" (almost everyone I know loves these books; I'm speaking specifically of fandom in the "creation of fanworks" sense) for years, I've never really read much fanfic.
If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. (Epic-length stuff appreciated!) Even the stuff where you're like, "Oh, everybody's read THAT."
I have the suspicion I've asked this question before, so I'll be searching my own tag, too, ^^;;
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: Shot of stained glass window from St. Norbert Abbey, text says: Eli, eli lamma sabachtani (Catholic: Eli eli)
• What are you currently reading?
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle by Karen L. King - another version, although the translation of the Gospel itself is pretty similar to the one I read last week. I'm not very far yet, but right now this seems much more accessible than the other one I read.

Constantine's Sword by James Carroll, which I'd read a reference to in a footnote in last week's Gospel of Mary Magdalene commentary. This is non-fiction, basically about the relationship between Catholics & Jews. The beginning starts with JPII saying Auschwitz was a "Golgotha" & talking about Catholics who died during the Holocaust, & fights between Jewish people & Catholics and how there is now a bigass cross at Auschwitz. PEOPLE.
Campbell talks about his own personal encounters with antisemitism growing up as Catholic. Anyway, this book is huge, & I think it will jump back a few thousand years & go forward through time to end up with WW2 again.

Pantomime by Laura Lam. Reading this for book club. Thus far, the protagonist has joined a circus! This isn't really grabbing me?! I hope to make a more concerted effort in the near future so that The Boyfriend can also attempt before our next meeting.


• What did you recently finish reading?
W.I.T.C.H. graphic novel, volume 3 & skimming 4-8 - This became too boring to keep plowing through. I've given the 4 volumes I owned to a niece, and returned the others to the library. FREEDOM! And a tiny amount of new book space in my apartment ;_;

Basara, volume 9 - I liked this volume quite a bit. Shuri and Sarasa (& various others) have ended up in Okinawa. In this post-apocalyptic world, Okinawa is separated from the Japanese nation, & it's Shuri's first encounter with the concept of democracy. I'll be interested to see whether this ends up changing him & his future plans once he leaves, or not.


• What do you think you’ll read next?
More of the books I'm reading now, more of the manga I have from the library. I have about 40 items checked out from the library currently ^^;;;
laceblade: Cardcaptor Sakura, smiling at viewer, surrounded by pink. Text: RESOLUTION (CCS: Resolution)
• What are you currently reading?
Nothing! b/c I finished what I was reading last night ^^;

• What did you recently finish reading?
The Summer Prince - The last act was the strongest, but I still didn't like this as much as a lot of other people seem to.

Killjoys #2

Hawkeye #12

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search, part 2 - Another great installment in this series. I hope Gene Luen Yang writes ATLA comics forever.

Shugo Chara! vols. 7-9 - Let's see, I really liked the revelations in volume 7 & I think I now like this series more than I did previously.
This is a rare instance of me liking the premise more than the actual plot or characters.
Basically, the protagonist, Amu, feels like the persona she presents for other people doesn't represent her true self. Her true self DOES manifest in chibi "guardian characters" who hatch from eggs. This idea seems not fully fleshed out - like, the "true self" guardian characters are all really 1D in terms of just one personality trait.
STILL, Amu has 4 guardian characters (most people who have guardian characters only have one), so she's still pretty multi-faceted.
Like Persona 4, this sort of normalizes the idea of people having multiple personas. The ones you present for different groups of people, and the ache of feeling like nobody knows (or could ever like) the "real" you.
I still want Amu's wardrobe.
Manga-ka really like their personifications of cats, don't they?


• What do you think you’ll read next?
More from the pile of manga I've got checked out from the library O:
laceblade: Juri of Utena anime in middle school uniform; Shiori's hand covers her eyes. (Utena: Juri eyes covered)
• What are you currently reading?
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson - I'm reading this for [community profile] beer_marmalade & also because lots of my friends have been talking it up.
I'm not really a huge fan, I guess. This seems to be a book where the worldbuilding is way better than the writing. Unlike many sf/f fans, I don't really give a fuck about worldbuilding, so that on its own is not enough for me.


• What did you recently finish reading?
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer - It's been a long-ass time since I've read non-fiction. I saw this in a used bookstore & then checked it out from the library.
This book is about two fundamentalist Mormons who murdered their sister-in-law & her infant daughter in the 1980s. It's about the polygamist fundamentalist sect of Mormonism. It's also about the history of mainstream Mormonism & the violence that's always been a part of it.
Growing up, one of my best friends 5th through 10th grade was Mormon, & was one of the guy friends in our friend-group. So I've been interested in Mormonism for a while & am pretty familiar with its sanitized history.
This book presents a lot of events I was not previously aware of, including the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
In addition to pointing out how young & coerced a lot of people's plural wives have been - from Joseph Smith's to those living in these communities today - the book also focuses on the nature of belief, in people truly believing/knowing they are communicating with God & fulfilling his commands - even when they seem absurd to regular people (i.e., killing your infant niece).
Sometimes grotesque but also fascinating.
I'm sure millions of people feel the same way about Catholicism. Like, I still find the whole "golden plates" premise & Joseph Smith himself absurd, but I'm sure many feel the same way about transubstantiation.
Anyway, I feel like I'm not doing a great job with this review, but I loved this book & might look into reading more by Krakauer.

Shugo Chara! vols. 5-6 - Currently filing this under "okay but not great."
I love Amu's wardrobe (she is the protagonist). The premise of this series is that she feels like she can't be her "true self." She has mini-characters who hatch from eggs & can transform her into truer versions of herself (via henshin).
She hangs out with other members of her school who have this ability, too.
Amu gets a fourth egg with an X on it, which is later revealed to be a diamond. It doesn't reveal an aspect of Amu's true self right away because she's "down."
During the triumphant scene in which this x-egg finally changes into Diamond, Amu says, "I do feel frustrated. There's no one who would feel happy when they lose. Of course I'll feel frustrated if I lose. But losing...getting hurting is not the end of it. If I have the will to try harder the next time...I'll get stronger when I get hurt. People who know loss should be able to shine, too. I still don't know what the real me is like. I might be someone who is wishy-washy. But...I believe in it. I believe in the sparkles inside of me."
MAHOU SHOUJO MANGA, HOW YOU SPEAK TO ME WITH YOUR NONSENSICAL PEP TALKS. That's what I'm here for, & that's what I got :D

Basara vols. 2-6 - I am still SO PLEASED with this series, omg it just fantastic.


• What do you think you’ll read next?
More Basara, more Shugo Chara, & more of the other manga I've got checked out from the library ^_^
It'd be nice to read more non-fiction, too.
laceblade: Chord Overstreet offering his hand to Chris Colfer. Glee live-tour. (Glee: Colferstreet)
Doing this meme along with [personal profile] wild_irises and [personal profile] bcholmes and the folks at shouldbereading.wordpress.com.

• What are you currently reading?
Well, I'm still reading the books I discussed last time although I dropped God's War, it just wasn't doing it for me.
So from last time, that's still The Rescuers, I've Been Trying to Reach You (Glee fic), and The North Remembers (Game of Thrones fic).

Since then, I've added:
Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer - a companion to the movie of the same name, which he wrote & starred in. So far I like this more than I liked The Land of Stories but there are still a few things that irk me about his writing style. I'm assuming I'll enjoy it best on film, but like I said, I'm liking this book a lot more than his first one, and am generally enjoying it.

Gokinjo Monogatari (Neighborhood Story), a manga series by Ai Yazawa (manga-ka of Paradise Kiss and NANA)
This series has not been released in the US, so I'm reading a version that was translated by fans on my laptop.
Mikako and her neighbor Tsutomu attend an arts school in Tokyo, and have been next-door neighbors since they were children. They've been friends forever but have only recently started to consider whether their feelings for one another might be more-than-friends.
I love everything I've ever read by Yazawa and this is no different. I'm so excited to read more!!

Balance of Power, a ff7 fic written by Frank Vederosa and Jen. It takes place post-game, when Wutai and Junon are vying to fill the power vacuum left by the Shinra Corporation. It focuses on Tifa and Cid. 10+ years ago, when Vederosa was popular, I often looked at this fic and then stopped reading it because the politics were too hard for me to follow.
Now I'm all GIVE ME THE POLITICS!!
The writing is not stellar and there are a lot of cliches. The plot is moving too slowly for me at the moment BUT there is enough here for me to keep going.
I'm trying to figure out how to post my thoughts on the old FF7 fic I'm rereading/reading for the first time. I guess a series of DW posts would be best; it'll likely take me years to get through everything I'd like to get through.
The front page at that link has a 5-paragraph description of the fic's premise, which is unfortunately way more interesting than anything that's happened in the fic.

I read a lot of Vederosa's stuff back in the day, but I can't remember whether I read any of Jen's, so I might look into that if I can find an archive of her fic. (Did she run the Rocket Town archive??) This is the problem with a hella old fandom :[


• What did you recently finish reading?
Those Yuletide recs I already linked to. I've read a few other people's Yuletide recs. I'm reading a bunch of fic.

Plant Your Hope With Good Seeds by [archiveofourown.org profile] river_soul - ASoIaF fic, AU where Sansa & a chest of gold DO get traded for Jaime Lannister in Clash of Kings, and she meets up with Robb and her mom.

Warm the Lonely Nights by [livejournal.com profile] valiant - set after "Glee, Actually," Sam goes to New York for New Year's Eve to hang out with Kurt and Rachel. NC-17.
Part 2. Part 3.
I'd like to draw little hearts around [livejournal.com profile] valiant's fic forever. Her Kurt and her Sam are just perfection, imo.


I did catch up with Buffy Season 9 and Angel and Faith and its spin-offs (Spike: A Dark Place, and Willow: Wonderland).
Buffy Season 9 had been taking a few turns with Buffy trying some new things, but is turning "inward" again with her going "back" to slaying and hanging around Xander and Dawn.
I was annoyed by the two issues focusing on Billy the Vampire Slayer. Even though Billy seems like a cool character & I'm glad he's around, I was grumpy about the Buffy series having the focus shift away from Buffy. BUT. Digging it now.

Angel & Faith had been slightly more boring than it had been in the first few issues, but then PLOT TWIST happened and it's exciting.
ALSO: GILES'S AUNTS ARE LITERALLY THE BEST, I should look for fanfic about them because omg. Best.

I've been incredibly bored by Spike: A Dark Place. At 4 out of 5 issues, not much has happened. Taking a single character away from everyone else and putting them into their own mini-arc is not exciting for me. I like Buffy because of the ensemble. Most of the characters are boring on their own.
idk what they're doing with Spike after this 5-issue mini-arc - is he going to rejoin Buffy, go on to the Angel & Faith title, or what? I'm not sure.

Willow's mini-arc has only had one issue so far, but I feel like that the same as I do about Spike's: boring when she's off on her own, even if she has way more purpose/a plot than Spike did.


• What do you think you’ll read next?
Roger Ebert's The Pot and How to Use It, a rice cooker cookbook, should be waiting for me at the library when I get back home after a week at the parents' house.
Otherwise I'd really like to get through the books I've got in progress right now ^^;
laceblade: fanart of Inner Senshi in street clothes, hugging & smiling (Sailor Moon: inners)
--I am still watching The Newsroom, but I am loving the ever-living fuck out of Political Animals. [personal profile] meganbmoore and [personal profile] liseuse are both writing great thoughts about the show, and I don't have much to add. EXCEPT THAT I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

--I finished reading Kou Yaginuma's 12-volume manga series, Twin Spica. Its premise is really interesting - a small, young girl wants to be an astronaut, so she goes to space school. There are some flashbacks to a tragedy that took place before the series begins. The protagonist, Asami, meets friends at space camp school and it is sometimes pretty adorable.
After a few volumes, though, the story begins to lag.
And then to wrap things up, the manga-ka takes this turn with chronic/severe illness, basically saying that it is okay to literally work so hard that you kill yourself by refusing to live by any standards that aren't the same as your best friends - so long as you're all together.
This was extremely disturbing to me. The emotional impact of a character death had a way different effect on me than it was supposed to, I think, and this narrative thread kind of retrospectively ruined the entire series for me.

--The first omnibus volume of Mitsuru Adachi's Cross Game was emotionally compelling in a way I wasn't expecting. Highly recommended; I'll be reading more.
I somehow came to this book unspoiled despite everyone & their mom blogging about it the last couple years.
I'd also give a shout-out to the flawless backgrounds. Normally I find this vaguely cartoon-ish drawing style hard to get through, but the amazingly well-done backgrounds make it extremely tolerable for me.

--Kaoru Mori's A Bride's Story continues to be fantastic. It's worth picking these up just to sigh at the art. I <3 Kaoru Mori.

--ALSO EVERYONE, EVER, SHOULD READ CODE NAME: VERITY BY ELIZABETH WEIN. HOLY SHIT.



Manga Bookshelf recently held a blog carnival about series by the group CLAMP.
This post about Why You Should Read Cardcaptor Sakura is great, and includes many images from the series. Cardcaptor Sakura is one of my all-time favorites; this blog post does a great job explaining why.
laceblade: Fanart of Revolutionary Girl Utena, holding sword and looking at viewer. (Utena fanart)
Panel Title: A Princess With a Sword Is Still a Princess: Modern Adaptations of Fairy Tales
Description: From Countess D'Aulnoy to Teri Windling, many writers are fascinated with the fairy tale. These tales have been used in a variety of works, including television shows, short stories, and novels. What speaks to us in the fairy tale princess? Do girls really want to be princesses? Can we redeem the concept of princess by making her more active? What do fairy tales tell girls? What do fairy tales tell boys? What do they tell adults? And why do we care? Come discuss the issues of gender in fairy tales both traditional and modern, the limitations and problems of fairy tales, and why they are so popular today.
Friday, 10:30-11:45pm
Twitter Hash-Tag: #ModernPrincess
Panelists: Kerey Luis (moderator), Lisa Baluersouth, Emily Jiang, Genevieve A. Lopez, Na'amen Gobert Tilahun



This post is intended to be transcript-y!



KL: We'll be discussing gender in modern adaptations of modern fairy/folktales. Favorites?

EJ: Long-lived love of fairy tales since going to the library.

Grimms, Hans Christian Andersen, loves YA. Excited about recent retellings. Donna Jo Napoli. Anything Disney.

LB: Favorite adaptation is Deathless by Cat Valente. Likes Mercedes Lackey retellings. Will read anything.

GL: Grew up reading fairy tales at same as watching Disney Renaissance films. Have been vocal critic of Disney adaptations, prefers to tend toward darker retellings herself. Disney has a puritanical swing in their re-adaptations. Generally, they’re beautiful but there is lots at play in reinforcing gender/racial tropes that needs to be looked at if
consuming them and passing them to children.

NGT: Instead of reading fairy tales, read all mythology books ever. Greek/Roman, Egyptian, etc. etc. Also in love with Disney. Can sing all of the songs. Sings Part of Your World at work. Also a vocal critic of Disney movies. Likes to watch them, likes to tear them apart. (The Disney film) Princess and the Frog fills him with rage. Favorite adaptation is a YA novel by Sarah Beth Durst – Out of the Wild. POV of girl whose mother is Rapunzel. All fairy tale characters live in New England. Fairy tales take over a small city. Friends/enemies co-opted into the fairy tales.

KL: Unsure what favorite modern adaptation is. Maybe Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue. Teaching a class on fairy tales soon, fascinated with what people will have to say. Class is intensive, only 6 weeks long. Each week, also a film. Ending with Princess and the Frog,
hoping her students will tear it apart. Will put ?s to the panelists and then maybe halfway through, open up to questions from audience. What kind of changes do you see in gender roles in adaptations? Do yo use changes at all?

>Rest of the panel is under this cut. )

[At this point, this audience member said he had "a few things to talk about," my laptop died, and realized how exhausted I was, so I got up and left.



I found myself wishing that this panel would talk about anime/manga, but on Sunday, there will be an entire panel called Fairy Tales in Shoujo Anime and Manga. I'm on it!
It is my ultimate dream that in the future, anime/manga get talked about whenever applicable, without having their own separate/special panels!
ALSO-ALSO, I feel like there's a lot of YA lit that could have been discussed? Shannon Hale's Princess Academy comes to mind. Mostly, though, I was incoherent by the time I sat down at this panel, and thus my thoughts are minimal.

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