laceblade: Sasuke and Ponyo; Ponyo w/light over her head, expression gleeful (Ponyo: It's a light!)
It's time for Sparkler's annual kickstarter to fund their next year of comics. They have 3 days left, and they're only a little more than halfway there. They're doing great work, and they need help.
Most of our content is free to read and stream, but a paid magazine membership lets you read ahead of the free serialization, download the content, and support the creators.

Sparkler Monthly is a multimedia, digital shojo/josei magazine of original English-language fiction. Our carefully selected creators are paid advances for their work and go through a thorough editorial process. After a book or audio story is serialized in the magazine, it’s bundled with bonus material and sold as ebooks, limited paperbacks, and/or CDs in the Sparkler Shop (similar to the magazine –> tankoubon system in Japan). In addition, our paperbacks and products can be found at a number of retailers; see our Retail & Libraries page on where to buy, and how to acquire books for your business or library.

The primary audience for Sparkler Monthly is girls and women aged 15 and up, or anyone interested in the rough ballpark of Female Gaze. Our four founders and most of our staff identify as female and are committed to promoting inclusive, fem-positive, and ridiculously fun content. We welcome creators of any gender and are particularly interested in entertaining, engrossing stories that tap into the variety and diversity of fandom.

This is a link to their Kickstarter campaign. The FAQ gives great advice if the options are overwhelming.

I love their content, from scripted audio dramas to comics to light novels. I love getting paperback copies of things I've tried online, so that I can more easily share them with other people.

If you've thought about supporting Sparkler or trying it out, now is the best [and, potentially only] time to do so.
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, Reina holding Kumiko's face w/one hand, faces close enough to almost touch. (Kumiko x Reina)
After following the advice of a coworker, I revoked Pokemon Go's access to my camera. Since then, the app crashes less than it had previously, and I've actually been able to catch some Pokemon. I'm one of many now hanging out at [community profile] pokestop, so if you're also playing or interested, join us!



I've written about Sparkler Monthly here before, and I wanted to plug their Kickstarter, which has 3 days and a few more thousand dollars to go. If they don't meet their goal, Year 4 won't happen :(

I've been a monthly subscriber for a couple years now. Some series are done, so you can sit and plow through, while others are still being updated periodically. I really loved the audio drama "Awake," and have been hoping for more time so that I can get caught up in "The Cat-Lover's Circumstance." They have mostly-prose stuff similar to Japanese light novels, too.

Basically, if you think visual and audio media directed at the non-male gaze is something to support, please consider donating to Sparkler. In addition to non-male artists and writers, the stories often feature LGBTQ characters as well. People of color, too! It's just really fantastic, and I would hate to see them fail.
They also operate as a distro for series published elsewhere, for example you can buy the paperback Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal through Sparkler.
They're also opening up submissions once this Kickstarter ends, so if you have some work that needs an audience, consider submitting!

Sparkler also has an explicit line called "Cherry Bomb." These include listener-focused "situational audio dramas," which I've been meaning to try. Apparently they are quite popular in Japan! Best of all, in Sparkler's, "[t]he listener isn't gendered, so anyone can identify!"

The Kickstarter itself is a great intro to their site and their content. You can still score commissions from artists in some of the tiers! There are many tiers and options to choose from in this Kickstarter. I'm really tempted to get a copy of every paperback they've published so far, and share them with my comics club. That tier is $200, though, so it takes a lot of thought. [Most tiers are way less!]

laceblade: Hachi of NANA, applying lipstick (NANA: Hachi makeup)
Read Pacat's Captive Prince.
Are there people who can read these books in public?! I was talking with others about how slowly I'm having to make my way through the Known Associates fic because once I hit a sexytimes scene...yeah.

MOVING ON.

I tried reading Hopkinson's Sister Mine, struggled, realized I was hating it, and stopped. IT WAS SUCH A GREAT FEELING.

Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson, the follow-up to Among the Savages. More glimpses at her domestic life. Still hilarious, but now with more kids and more pets.

Princess Jellyfish, vol. 1 by Akiko Higashimura - GUYS. GUYS. THIS BOOK. I CAN'T EVEN. Firstly, it's an omnibus, so two books in one. The protagonist, Tsukimi, lives in a house with other adult single women her age, who all have something in common: they're all borderline-agoraphobic and completely obsessed (one might say...fannish) about something, be it The Three Kingdoms, kimonos, or jellyfish. They all rely on their parents to pay for them to continue living in this place, as none of them have jobs or attend school.
On a rare trip out in public, Tsukimi ends up meeting Kuranosuke, a beautiful woman with great social skills whom she accidentally brings back to their house [a place where NO fashionable people are allowed, and ESPECIALLY NO MEN EVER!]. Eventually she's surprised to learn that Kuranosuke is actually a man her own age, who likes to dress up as a woman.
The book is hilarious, and IMO really great for fannish people.
I highly recommend making use of the glossary in the back - due to conversations surrounding Kuranosuke, I think the context of the ways certain words translate, or in some cases do not, are all very important in accepting what's going on.
The plot crosses over with politics, and by the end, the Big Conflict is that the house Tsukimi and her friends live in is going to be razed to the ground to make space for some new/modern buildings. Kuranosuke tries to rally the girls to get others to take them seriously, namely by giving them all elaborate makeovers [which they all undo as soon as they're home again].
A lot of things rely on people's perceptions of others. I'm excited to read more, and glad to have bought this sight-unseen.

The Boleyn Reckoning by Laura Andersen - aka the last in a trilogy about an RPF historical au in which Anne Boleyn gave birth to a son. HOLY SHIT AFTER EVERYTHING, this book goes and does THE MOST HORRIBLE THING IMAGINABLE to each of the four main characters, occasionally taking it back so that those things happened FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON.
Super angry by the end, in a WHAT EVEN WAS THE POINT sort of way. THEN I found out there's a sequel trilogy, focusing on Elizabeth I's daughter. I'm going to try jumping into Jean Plaidy for rescue...

Supermutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki - A collection of one-page one-shots that focus on kids with superpowers who attend a boarding school together. APPARENTLY JILLIAN TAMAKI AND I HAVE EXACTLY THE SAME SENSE OF HUMOR.
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: Jubilee from X-Men, headphones on, working on an iPad, lookin' chill (Jubilee work)
Battleworld: Runaways, #1-4 - Written by Noelle Stevenson. It seemed like it would be impossible to capture the tone of the original Runaways series with only a single original character crossing over, Molly Hayes. [I guess Cloak & Dagger count, too.] But Stevenson managed it. The teenagers sound real, Hall Monitor!Bucky Barnes is adorbs, and it's just great. It makes me really wish that the Runaways title would continue once this ~Secret Wars~ Marvel event is over, but I haven't heard anything, :/

Zodiac Starforce, #1-2 - There was a fair amount of excitement online when this title was announced - a group of girls who used to be magical school girls but had left it behind a while ago. I think that all of the major characters of Sailor Moon made cameos in the first issue. The second one has a Totoro hanging on the wall, as well as a Sailor Moon doll & some kind of Luna pillow. Sadly, the references and the creators' constant, "We just really love Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura!" and repeating these two titles ad nauseum, is not enough to make a captivating read. The teenagers do not sound like real people, let alone teenagers. Two issues in, and I don't really care what happens to anybody, so I think I'll drop. Maybe I'll check it out from the library when it reaches the trade format?

Ms. Marvel #16-19 - Well, that's the end of her first run. And the entire last issue WAS ALL ABOUT FEELINGS. What a great series, an empowering lead, etc. I love Kamala Khan, although I'm doing my best to resist being sucked over to the Avengers title she's going to be joining in the near future. It seems that Ms Marvel will still have her own series, though, of course everything's "rebooting" due to the Secret Wars event. I'll be sticking around to see what happens now.

Battleworld: Siege, #1-4 - I'd noted at comics club that the only ~Battleworld~ events I was reading in Marvel's current catalog-wide event was Runaways, and asked if anything else was worth checking out. Someone suggested Siege, and when I saw that Kate Bishop and Ms America Chavez were featured as characters & also that Filipe Andrade was the artist, I went for it. This is the story about the people defending The Wall, which spans the planet & divides the patchwork Battleworlds in the north from those in the south. People are led by Abigail Brand, a character I hadn't encountered before. There are a handful of two-page spreads that I'd frame and put up on my walls, tbh, they're so pretty. I love Andrade's art, too, and having Kieron Gillen as the writer doesn't hurt either. I'm glad I read this, as it gave me a little bit more context for the huge event I was only seeing glimpses of in Runaways & Ms Marvel.

Gotham Academy, up through #9 - I'm still enjoying these, but feel that I need to reread the first 10 once #10 comes out, as a refresher for wtf has happened so far :[ BUT. MAPS FOREVER! AND OLIVE TOO I GUESS.

Toil and Trouble, #1 - Put out by Archaia, this is a 6-issue mini-series focusing on the three witches from Macbeth. The witches are used to manipulating the wars and people of Scotland, to have a hand in their ruler. One of them is taking a particular liking to a solider named Macbeth after she returns to Scotland - returning after having been exiled by by her sisters due to disagreement.

At some point, I ended up dropping Captain Marvel. I feel kind of bad about it, but am also seeking to cut some titles from my pull list, :[ Mini-series seem to work way better for me, lol. Maybe the only long-term US comics title that works for me is Saga? I think that Vaughan works hard to make it something that narratively can be read one month at a time, in six-month chunks. It's definitely a skill, and not a lot of writers seem to have it.
I also can't stand it when the writers and artists change. Maybe I've been spoiled by Japanese manga? But the stability of Vaughan/Staples is definitely a huge part of the draw for me when it comes to Saga.
laceblade: Screencap from FF7, Zak and Cloud escaping from Mako tubes in Shinra mansion (FF7: Cloud/Zack escape)
Moon Child, volume 1 by Reiko Shimizu - I checked this out because the two co-authors of Anime News Network's House of 1,000 Manga column are finally ending the column, after a hell of a run. Each made a post with their own top-10 posts/series, and one of Shaneon Garrity's was their column on Moon Child. I never thought I'd find a weirder manga than Kaori Yuki's stuff, but here we are. Dumbfounded by the heinousness. But also 90s brooding, like, EPIC. Having to request these from outside the library system, so it'll likely take a while to get through the series. I really miss the publisher CMX, :/ I wish I'd been older when they were still around, & I had more disposable income and could've better supported their series. They released a lot of great stuff.

Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot by Antonia Fraser - Following up my run of Tudors! fiction/non-fiction, I wanted to read this because I never really "got" what this historical event was/its significance/whatever. It was SO FASCINATING. Clandestine Catholics disillusioned by a king who's not as Catholic as they thought he would be, Jesuit priests grappling with whether they can break the seal of the confessional to save lives vs. trying to argue with the would-be perpetrators and prevent the crime themselves, & also a tiny dude who went around building secret hiding places into the homes and properties of Catholics who hid Jesuits and other Catholics on the run. SO INTERESTING. OMG.
After this, I think I'm going to be jumping back in history to read some War of the Roses fiction/non-fiction. Although maybe also first some Mary Queen of Scots stuff.

Arata the Legend, vols. 16-22 by Yuu Watase - Lots of people lost their clothing for various "plot" reasons in a number of these volumes, :p
This series is at its best when it's balancing both of the two worlds, as opposed to focusing on the fantasy world of Amawakuni. The dread that Arata and Oribe feel as they're dealing with the horrors produced by Harunawa is palpable, and makes me connect with the characters' fear in a way that never quite happens with the characters in Amawakuni, save for the ways in which Arata and Kadowaki grapple with their feelings about each other/their friendship, as well as Mikasa's realization about her ~origins~. I'm about caught up to the English release of this series, which is also caught up the point where Yuu Watase had her hiatus. I'm really interested to see where this story goes, now that she's free from her abusive editor.

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson - A selection from the Sirens list. This was fan-flipping-tastic, like I was blown away by how great it is.

Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History by Joel Christian Gill - This has been making the rounds at comics club, and I really enjoyed the art while reading these true stories about real people from black US history that I'd never heard before. From people's reactions to that other comic series called "Strange Fruit," I'd say this one is much better, :p

Truth: Red, White, and Black by Robert Morales - or, The first Captain American wasn't Steve Rogers. I've heard of this before, but I think I requested it (not in our library system, :[ ) after some tweets by [personal profile] sparkymonster. In a country where Tuskegee happened, it doesn't take much of a stretch of the imagination to think that the government would have created the super soldier serum by first testing it on black men. Morales pulls a lot of truths from history to tell a powerful story that leaves you reeling. The list of books about human subject experimentation & ethics in the back was obviously of great interest to me, so I added a lot of those to my to-read list on Goodreads.

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden - Checked out from the library after [personal profile] jesse_the_k was talking this up in comics club (I think?). Glidden goes on a birthright trip to Israel, despite feeling a little awkward about it because she has some serious issues with a lot of Israel's actions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She's very upfront in describing the the trip that she & her group go on - what they see, learn, & feel.

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire - SO FUN. Like, wow what a universe. I ended up rating this three stars, due to a truly absurd climactic battle that leads up to Ultimate Climax, as well as due to wayyyyy too many over-explain-to-the-reader moments. I wish McGuire would trust her readers to make their own logical conclusions once in a while. Like - "the store was locked, that's because someone just died, so that makes sense" - are the sort of things I write out when I'm logic-feeling my way through a scene that I'm writing? But then I rip out during editing, :p
That said, I <3 Dominic, I like the IDEA of a family of Slayers cryptozoologists who have broken away from the Watchers' Council the Covenant to stop killing all demons & instead figure out which ones deserve it, and study/protect the rest.
I suspect I'll like other POV characters more, so I'm eager to read both the other novels and the short stories set in the same universe that deal with her grandparents & great-grandparents.

Hawkeye #22 by Matt Fraction & David Aja - Sad to see this one end, even if it was a good ending. I kind of want to reread the whole thing. Mostly, I wish it weren't over.
laceblade: Fanart of Chibi-Usa from Sailor Moon, grown up & in high school uniform, smiling. (Sailor Moon: Rini high school)
Runaways, #1 & #2 - I've loved Runaways since back from its original run, and I was really glad to see it revived for Marvel's universe-blending Battleworld event. Even better, it's written by Noelle Stevenson (author of Lumberjanes), so the dialogue is really great. Despite having read X-Men for the past couple years, I feel like I am now actually familiar with Jubilee as the character so many other people know/love. #1 was a little meh, but #2 was GREAT, and even though Molly Hayes is still the only carry-over character from the actual Runaways cast right now, it felt like Runaways. I'd love to see how this continues - anybody know whether it's continuing after the Battleworld event is over?
Additionally, anybody following any other Battleworld titles? I'm willing to try stuff right now.

Saga, #30 - So begins another hiatus, :( I mentioned this on twitter, but people who are trade-waiting are really missing out. Brian K. Vaughan's reader column in the back is hilarious enough that I look forward to it almost as much as I do reading new Saga.

El Deafo - by Cece Bell. I borrowed this from a member of comics club. It's autobiographical, although everyone looks like anthropomorphic bunnies. The protagonist loses most of her hearing at age 4, and this is about how she learns to work with her disability, or moreso to work within a society of people her own age that treat her differently because of it. In addition to finding friends who like her, etc., she also has to find friends with whom she is not only compatible, but who don't constantly talk about her deafness to other people around them, shout at her and enunciate super slowly, etc. Cute, funny, and a good conversation-starter for people wanting to talk to kids about PWD, imo.

The Crown of Embers - by Rae Carson. Second in a trilogy I started because it's on the Sirens reading list that I'm picking from. I think that I liked this book more than the first. Being a queen isn't easy, particularly when you're not born to it. I very much enjoy the politics that Elisa needs to navigate, her competence, and the way she refuses to compromise her morals in order to get the power she desperately needs to be an effective ruler and keep her kingdom safe. I've already reserved the third/final book in this trilogy.

Red Queen - by Victoria Aveyard. I gave up on this after reading about a quarter of the book. The premise is sort of a basic dystopia. "Normal" people have red blood; "Silvers" have both silver blood and special X-Men-esque powers. Society is militarized, there are rebels, but the writing was awful. It's another from the Sirens list - between this and Bleeding Violet, which I hated, I'm realizing that their recommended list is based on content and not quality :p That said, the good ones have far outweighed the bad ones.

Redemption in Indigo - by Karen Lord. I loved the voice in this, and hadn't expected it to be so funny. Yet another book authored by a person of color that leaves me thinking, "There should be MORE fantasy like this!" Very glad to have read it, and reserved another novel by Lord immediately after finishing.
laceblade: from the anime: Juliet with sword, Romeo with flower, both facing each other with love (Romeo x Juliet)
Ignoring how behind I am on posts about reading & going to just start posting...

I've read the first two chapters of Dire Hearts, which I think is tied with Windrose as my favorite Sparkler offerings right now. It feels like Revolutionary Girl Utena. The cover art sort of rubbed me the wrong way, but I actually really, really like the way things look on the inside. I like the protag's inability to do the thing everyone else can do being framed as a disability. I have a theory that I hope to have proven correct eventually. Sadly, the comic is on indefinite hiatus due to the author/artist's health issues, but I'm still really glad to have been able to read the first two chapters.

I've read the first chapter of Gauntlet, which I enjoyed more than I expected to. I sort of liken this to what I imagine it would be like to read a light novel? SUPER interested in what happens next, & also appreciate the illustrations to go with the prose.
Also intrigued that this story has installments in Cherry Bomb, which is Sparkler's 18+ portion of their website, although I think I'll hold off until I've read more of Gauntlet first.

The most recent thing I've read is the first 4 chapters of Orange Junk, which just became available today - it was a surprise drop of 250 pages / the first seven chapters of this series, which is essentially a shoujo manga. Louise's family used to be rich & then very suddenly became poor. At her new public school, she encounters a muscley/angry guy who's super smart, as well as a super attractive boy who's spacey as fuck. It seems like this will end up as an OT3. Some of Louise's observations about other people's home lives are pretty simplistic at first, but as time goes on the friendships are pretty organic and adorable. It's also often hilarious. Highly recommended, and all 250 pages are currently free!


I just really like that Sparkler exists. I feel like its offerings are tailored specifically for me. I hope they're around for a while.
laceblade: Fanart of Chibi-Usa from Sailor Moon, grown up & in high school uniform, smiling. (Sailor Moon: Rini high school)
I'd mentioned Sparkler's membership drive a few weeks ago, and since then I've started enjoying some of their stuff.

So far, I've been focusing on comics, but if you like podfic/etc., they also have some audio stories, which I think is cool. I like that they have multiple forms of media - it makes me feel like as I progress with trying out the different stories they have running, there will always be more waiting for me. The editors have a commitment to diversity, and it makes each title really enjoyable.

The ongoing series Windrose is my favorite, I adore the art, and I'm super interested in the story, too. You can read the first chapter of Windrose for free here, as it's part of their sample issue.
It's the 17th Century, and the powers of Europe are struggling violently for dominion over the oceans. Danielle, daughter of a Spanish lady and a French merchant, flees her constrictive upper-class life when she receives a disturbing letter from her father, entrusting her with a strange miniature astrolabe. But on her way from Barcelona to Marseille, her life is threatened, she nearly drowns, and she is befriended by a handsome pair of travelers...but Angeline and Leon are definitely not what they claim to be.

By acclaimed comic creation team Studio Kôsen, Danielle's journey from the palaces of Western Europe to the heart of the Ottoman Empire will prove to be more dangerous, and more thrilling, than she ever could have imagined!

I've also enjoyed Gatesmith, another ongoing series. It took me a little while to warm to Quick's artwork, but I really like some of the facial expressions, etc. The plot is a bit of a mystery thus far, and I'm glad I was able to read past the first chapter without having to wait for the next installment, lest I lose my interest ^^;; This takes place in the American west, but there are some science fictional things going on, involving reanimated bodies, dimensional rifts, and people who appear to be able to communicate after they've died. V. interested in how this plot continues!


Lastly, I just finished Before You Go, which was originally a one-shot, and then had another follow-up issue. This is a sweet story about two young women who meet on a train & end up falling in love. The art was very consistent & I loved looking at how characters' hair & eyes were drawn. The dialogue felt slightly clunky in a couple of places, but given the story's brevity and sweetness, it didn't detract from my enjoyment.
laceblade: Manga drawing of Yamada sipping from a milk carton with a straw (Honey & Clover: Yamada drink)
Prince of Dogs - #2 in Kate Elliott's Crown of Stars series. Lots of chess pieces moved across the board, but it felt like not much happened. This book sadly suffered from more bloat than the first one. Still, there's a lot to love, and I will continue reading to find out what happens.

Eleanor & Park - I really didn't like this. Maybe it suffered from my having read Fangirl first. This felt more like a sketch of a book than a book.

Maus, vols 1 & 2 - Borrowed from [personal profile] jesse_the_k via comics club. Hard to say much about books that focus on the Holocaust? This was remarkable for two reasons: one being the author's relationship with his father. In the present, he's trying to get his father to tell his story. & despite his father literally having survived the Holocaust, he gets annoyed by him, has to deal with him, tries to avoid getting asked to do work for him, etc. (tbh Spiegelman the author seemed like kind of a dick to his dad)
The second reason being that the parts focusing on the actual Holocaust discussed not only the brutality of the Nazis, but the way equals attacked each other for survival. The characters in this book absolutely survived because if their wealth. & the father telling the story makes it clear to his son that the people who helped them did not do so out of the goodness of their hearts, but because they were paid.

Gangsta, vol. 1 - Checked out form library b/c [personal profile] inkstone loves it. This was a fun ride, and an interesting premise. I'm eager to read more.
Content warning for some transphobia.

The Ice Dragon - Story by George RR Martin that's supposed to be for kids, but it's pretty fucking violent? Worth picking up for the art.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - I think I heard about this in the New York Times? Can't remember any more.

Marie Kondo has created her own tidying system, which she calls KonMari.
The book is sometimes hilarious, because she chronicles her lifelong obsession with organization and tidying, starting in kindergarten. She tidies her school rooms; she gets in trouble with her family for throwing out old clothing in the back of their closets that they never wear anyway; she eventually gets banished to only being allowed to tidy her own bedroom.

The book suffers from a lot of...encouraging talk to the reader? Whereas the system itself is pretty basic. Everyone has enough room to store all of their belongings neatly. If you never have enough room to put everything away, the problem is not that you need to buy some specific kind of closet organizer or plastic drawers, but rather that you have too much crap.

If you're able to put everything away, Kondo argues, you will only have to "tidy" once in your whole life. It'll take a huge commitment on your part to do it, & to do it right, but once you've done it, you'll be surrounded only by things that you love. Sure, you'll have to clean like everyone else, but you won't have to tidy up before you do it.

The key is to ruthlessly go through all of your belongings - all of them - and physically touch each item to see whether it sparks joy or not. You need to focus on what to keep, rather than what to discard. This must be done in a specific order: first clothing [there's a specific sub-order for how to do your clothes], then books, papers, komono [randoms: CDs/DVDs, makeup, electrical equipment, etc., all also in a specific order], and finally, mementos.
This specific order must be followed, because the skill of determining whether something sparks joy in you or not has to be honed. You won't be able to bear to part with any mementos unless you've sharped this skill by going through everything you've done before.

Once you have done this, she argues, you will have enough room for everything.
[She also has a few tips, such as storing everything vertically. Pinterest & YouTube seem to have her folding recs, etc. up: http://www.pinterest.com/eburymakes/the-life-changing-magic-of-tidying] Kondo says that making the commitment & tidying up will probably change your life. She spends a lot of time on weight loss/people's figures, but also talks about people quitting jobs they hate to do things that they love. She thinks people will take better care of their belongings after having completed the program.

There are a few quirks here - Kondo encourages the reader to speak to their possessions, to thank them each day for the help as you put them away.
While I have been known to sing to my rice cooker while washing it in my sink, or to my mushrooms as I slice them up before cooking them, I found these passages kind of a far stretch.

There's some advice I'm ignoring, also. I strongly disagree on how many books are necessary in a home, for example, and it'll be a cold day in hell before my bookshelves are shut away in my closets.

She can also be a little sexist/heteronormative/classist.
Kondo advises readers to toss any/all manuals on how to operate and fix appliances. She says that you can just look things up on the internet or take them to a repair person. While the internet might be helpful to all, I think this is assuming a little bit of privilege.
As is her sometimes repeated advice, "If you actually need it later on, just buy a new one."
She talks about "lounge wear" at home being something that should be clothing is specifically tailored for, rather than old/worn clothes. She asks women to consider buying an "elegant nightgown," :p
The narrative also seems to assume the reader is a woman, and refers at times to "old boyfriends."

For me, I was able to skim over the stuff I didn't like and hold on to the method.
The last thing I disagree with might be the most important. Kondo says that you must do everything, wholesale, all at once. All your clothing - all your shirts at once, in a pile, and then go through all of them.
Juggling a bunch of medical issues, this simply isn't possible for me.
Still, I've gone through the bottom drawer of my dresser. Everything has been discarded except for a sweater, a long-sleeved shirt that I've all but stolen from my boyfriend, and a t-shirt from high school. I've kept all the t-shirts from high school musicals and plays for years, but only one of them ever fit me well & felt comfortable. Getting rid of the shirts doesn't mean I'm getting rid of the memories, though - just that I'm getting rid of the negative associations I have with the shirts not having fit me for over ten years.
I've also cleaned out a suitcase that was both filled with & covered with clothes in the bottom of my closet. The suitcase is now upright, as is my spinner suitcase, next to it.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this book continues to influence me & my home, even if I'll be moving along more slowly than the author suggested, and I'm glad I checked it out from the library.

Ashes of Honor - (October Daye #6) I waffled on rating this 3 stars versus 4. This plot has been the most interesting to me after Book 3/Blind Michael.

However, I feel like this one suffered a little from too MUCH banter? idk.
It's also bugging me how much exposition there is - through internal narration and dialogue both.
To be honest, this is something I struggle with in my own writing, so feeling harsh about it might be my own deal.

That said, I still love these characters, & I think I grow to love them a little more every book. Dying to see the follow-up on the cop. Tybalt's voice is Balthier's from FF XII to me.
As always, I'm looking forward to reading more.

The Moe Manifesto - It would've been better if there was a "manifesto" of any kind? Instead, it was a collection of interviews with Japanese people about what they think moe is/means. Interviewees included Mari Kotani, a frequent WisCon attendee. The entire focus of the book was men's relationship with moe. I know that moe is targeted toward men, but sometimes I think literally only [personal profile] littlebutfierce & I care about how not!men feel about/react to moe.

The Runner - Fourth entry in Cynthia Voigt's Tillerman cycle. I don't think I've read this one before. It's weird to spend most of a book disliking the protagonist, but then Voigt just grabs you with a sucker punch. I really wish I could write like her. Wow.

Honey & Clover, vol. 1 - I've never actually read the manga all the way through, although the anime remains one of my hands-down favorites. Umino's art is sketchy, but unusual from other manga styles in a way that's interesting. Part of what's unique about this series is that I actually give a fuck about the male characters, which is pretty rare for me in a shoujo series. I know a lot of people bounce off this series for the way Hagu first appears, but I think it's important to keep in mind that her initial appearance - tiny/"cute" - is from Mayama and Takemoto's points of view. Over the course of the series, Hagu undergoes a tremendous amount of emotional growth.
Paying a lot of attention to things Hagu & Shu say to/about one another, knowing how this ends :[
Now that I'm actually out of college & have settled in a job that I love, I think I have a better appreciation for the struggles the characters are going through. Most non-sf/f anime/manga take place in high school, so it's cool to see a series where the characters are a little older, & really need to get their shit together.
Reading manga is faster than watching the anime, but I find myself thinking a lot about the insert songs by Suga Shikao and Spitz. This was a great fucking show. Also, I forgot how funny it is.
& now I want to upload more Honey & Clover icons that I've had saved for fuckin' ever.
PS: My faves are Yamada & Morita.
laceblade: Shot of Tifa from FF7: Advent Children, looking at viewer, half of face cut off. Text: no white flag above my door (FF7: Tifa no white flag)
I don't think I can manage writing a retrospective post about my personal life, because it would necessitate discussing WisCon, and I am so fucking sick of WisCon.

Instead, here's a list of my favorite books read in 2014:

Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary by Pamela Dean
Alias, volume 4: The Secret Origins of Jessica Jones by Brian Michael Bendis
History of the Rain by Niall Williams
A True Novel by Minae Mizumura [This one was probably the best.]
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
The Dubious Hills by Pamela Dean
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar
The King's Dragon by Kate Elliott
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen
An Everlasting Meal: Cooking With Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler
The Twelve Kingdoms: Skies of Dawn by Fuyumi Ono

I used to read science fiction almost exclusively - I spent a lot of time in the Star Wars expanded universe as a kid.
Somewhere along the way, I seem to have converted almost entirely to fantasy.



I don't have any resolutions yet.
My goals from 2014 are here. I utterly failed at writing.
I technically saw both Fall Out Boy and Paramore live, but it was at a single concert/venue.
Overall, I think I am not very good at keeping resolutions, but I always have an impulse to make them at the beginning of the calendar year.
Still working on this. & will give consideration to additional goals, if I can get myself to commit.
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: Fanart of Chibi-Usa from Sailor Moon, grown up & in high school uniform, smiling. (Sailor Moon: Rini high school)
I keep not having anything to say about what I've been reading, but since I use this blog to keep track of where I am in single-issue comics, I figured I'd list my progress if nothing else -_-

Saga #24 - Very excited to revisit some old friends in this issue. Sad as always for the hiatus. Still love reading the letters at the end, or moreso Brian K Vaughan's writing surrounding the letters.

A Solitary Blue - I'd forgotten almost everything that happens in this book, and I'm so glad I revisited it. Voigt's writing is such a comfort to me, and I'm glad to be reading the Tillerman Cycle again.

Marvel's 75th Anniversary Celebration - recommended by someone at comics club. Purchased because they specifically said that one of the stories is about Jessica Jones, AND IT WAS!!! I loved the fake covers, and also Kamala's appearance in the first few pages. I was shocked by how many characters I recognized from the various shout-outs? I guess I'm getting comfy in Marvel's universe.

Phonogram #1 - Purchased because issue #1 was on sale for $1. Didn't really grab me? idk.

Wayward #1-3 - Someone at comics club was looking to offload #1 and 2, and I bought #3 before reading any. A teenage girl who's half-Irish, half-Japanese relocates to live with her mom in Japan. I liked the art quite a bit, and some of the concepts are interesting. Appreciate the Japan in the background. Less enthusiastic about how none of the characters seem to interact how I'd expect them to interact, in uh, any situation? & when the kids decided to "team up" & discussed naming themselves, it really felt like it came out of nowhere to me.
In the letters at the end, the creators make it sound like they're trying to emulate Buffy but also going for their own thing entirely. Lots of splainy stuff for ~3 pages per issue about monster folklore or life in Japan.
Also a trigger warning for some very sudden & vivid self-harm, :(

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man Volume 5 - This volume explains how Miles picks up his suit again. It was also fun to see him dating Kate Bishop!
This book got a little full, as it gave back stories to four other characters: Spider-Woman, Bombshell, and Cloak & Dagger. I still liked it quite a bit, and am actually interested in all four of these characters, Gwen Stacy, Ganke, and of course Miles. This is what comes next. Too bad the library doesn't have it.

Thor: The Might Avenger, vols 1 & 2 - Borrowed from comics club. Overall this series was a good jumping in point for someone with zero context for Thor aside from his appearance in the Avengers movie. This art style was refreshingly consistent for a Western comic. I was pretty bored to the point of feeling insulted by Jane Foster. The creators' feelings were confirmed when I got to the end and saw her cup size listed on her initial sketch page. Appalling.
Grateful that Thor's first appearance was included in the could one time - nice to see at least two origin stories.

Late Eclipses - 4th October Daye book. I still love these quite a bit. I think I liked #3 slightly more than this one?

Heaven Under Earth - I just read this online, but apparently it's now been published in an Electric Velocipede anthology and taken offline since then!
Actually read this a few weeks ago as part of my quest to read all of the 2013 Tiptree list, but then forgot since I don't log short stories on Goodreads & there was no physical reminder lying on my couch ^^;;
I loved this quite a bit, and found myself thinking, "Why isn't there more fantasy like this?" [This is a thought that I've had a number of times this year.] I really look forward to reading more by Aliette de Bodard.
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, Reina holding Kumiko's face w/one hand, faces close enough to almost touch. (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: 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: Jubilee from X-Men, headphones on, working on an iPad, lookin' chill (Jubilee work)
A True Novel - One of the best books I have ever read, hands down.

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Laura sure gives shoujo manga heroines a run for their money with her clumsiness, ;)
laceblade: 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: 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.

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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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August 2017

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