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: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, Reina holding Kumiko's face w/one hand, faces close enough to almost touch. (Default)
I keep not writing about books, but at this point there are SO MANY that I'm just going to post about the ones I really have something to say about, and then wipe the slate clean afterward.

First, check out my Hibike! Euphonium icon and then consider watching the show for the f/f of Kumiko/Reina :D :D :D

Mari Yamazaki's Thermae Romae I manga was hilarious. A Roman architect keeps designing the same-old types of baths, UNTIL every chapter he finds away to get sucked down a drain/etc. only to wake up in some kind of onsen in Japan, in the modern day. Every time, he appreciates something else about a different type of onsen, and then brings it back to Rome. It's a comedy, and it's hilarious. Additionally, the manga-ka married an Italian and loves to share all of her research on the omake pages.

Jacqueline Koyanagi's Ascension was on the most recent Tiptree shortlist, which is why I checked it out from the library. The protagonist ends up joining a family & a ship that remind me of Firefly except more inclusive. Sub-plots involve human subjects research, so I found it interesting enough to keep me going despite some really clunky writing in the beginning - I think there was a line about the protag's belt hanging on her "like hope gone slack," that almost made me set it down lol. I liked it well enough that I'm interested in seeing what happens in #2, if/when it comes out. I'm curious if anyone else has read this and what they think is up with its nomination for a Tiptree award. I really don't think it did anything with gender...?

I enjoyed Arina Tanemura's collection of short stories much more than I thought I would. Sometimes I think that the short story is the best format for shoujo manga-ka. So many ideas really are one-note, and suffer from being dragged on for 10 volumes. I felt the same way about Masami Tsuda's, despite having found Kare Kano extremely repetitive.

I made it through Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton, which inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the musical Hamilton. I loved the level of detail here. Hamilton's productivity and output is inspiring. His presence for certain events makes for an interesting story. His relationship with George Washington was heart-warming, and the little moment they have towards the end of his presidency, where Hamilton smirks and says what he really thinks about Thomas Jefferson - that he's a fucking fraud, and that all of his positions and actions are politically calculated - were for me the best part of the book. This book really changed my previous opinion about Thomas Jefferson. His thoughts about American exceptionalism, his manipulation of people's optimism to fleece them, he being the originator of so many things I hate about the worst politicians - all of it.
Also, the ending completely removed any sympathy the musical had caused me to feel for Aaron Burr. Ass.

Longbourn by Jo Baker - I was invited to discuss this with a small group of people I'd gotten to know through the WisCon concom. It's basically Pride & Prejudice fic, from the point of view of the servants. I once took a class on disability in literature, and we read Austen's Persuasion in part to talk about the presentation of a "hypochondriac" character but also the way Jane Austen very rarely talked about bodies.
Baker's book is totally altered from Austen's in terms of tone. I saw Sherwood Smith complaining about this on Goodreads, that it doesn't "capture" Austen, etc. I think...that's the whole point. It's about bodies - it's about the never-ending WORK that people do. It's about the disgusting contents of chamber pots. It's about how it's possible to get all of the mud off of Elizabeth Bennet's skirts after her long walks.
Some on Goodreads also complained about the interlude for some war scenes, from Britain's war with France and Spain, but I think those people have clearly never read the Waterloo interlude in Les Miserables, because this shit was nothing.

Mercedes Lackey's The Oathbound was quite fun, although I found the revenge these girls have on some past enemies to be pretty...problematic? Also lots of rape.
But. Kethry and Tarma = the shit.
I have determined that it is necessary to read the Valdemar books in publication order. It's the only way things make sense.

I've finally read Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint. It's hard to imagine that this book came out the year after I was born, and I've only just read it now. I wonder what I would have thought about it had I read it as a kid. idk.
It's conveniently timed, though. I should check out Tremontaine.

X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga - whoa! this is my first "old school" X-Men book. I checked it out because of some internet article list for US comics. I didn't know when I picked it up that this included the introduction of Kitty Pryde, but I think her presence made this a decent entry point. I have Days of Future Past and whatever comes after that on hold next from the library.

Related, I mainlined Daredevil on Netflix. I am attracted to Charlie Cox and his stubble. Also the way he kissed Claire. There should have been more kissing tbqh.

Minae Mizumura's The Fall of Language in the Age of English - After reading her book A True Novel, I wanted to read anything else by her that I could, but this is sadly the only other item translated into English. This book apparently caused a lot of controversy in Japan when it came out. It's basically about...literature of nations. How some nation's literature ends up "falling" (e.g., France), how Japan was uniquely positioned to create its own mature corpus of literature despite many other Asian countries failing to do the same.
Even though English is currently a dominant language and would eventually wipe out most others if Mizumura is to be believed, she discusses the value and calling to write in one's own native language.
In explaining influence, about a young Parisian writing an autobiography pre-WWII, hundreds of Japanese reading the novel before one translates it into Japanese. Then Mizumura's mother reads it and is inspired. Mizumura speculates on a hypothetical in which her mother then writes her own autobiography, which is well-received in Japan, but would never be translated into French or any other European language. Not many Europeans read Japanese. Thus, "only Japanese readers can share the plight of my mother's life. For other readers in the world, it's as if her novel never existed. It's as if she herself never existed. Even if my mother had written her novel first, Francoise would never have read it and been moved by it."
She describes these as "asymmetrical relationships," meaning that only people who live in a "universal temporality" can be heard by the world. Those who are bilingual, and who exist in both "the universal and particular temporalities may hear voices from the other side, but they cannot make their own voices heard. They can only participate passively in the universal temporality, however much they may wish otherwise."
She discusses the fact that the Nobel Prize in Literature "suppresses all the problems inherent in the act of translation" by translating works that are easiest to translate, and which "often only reinforce the worldview constructed by the English language."
In addition to these meditations, I have added a number of modern Japanese novels to my to-read list.
laceblade: Slytherin crest. Text: WE DON'T HUG. (HP: Slytherin no hugs)
I currently have 40 items checked out from the library and things are actually becoming quite stressful, ^^;;;;; HOW DOES ONE STOP PUTTING THINGS ON HOLD SO QUICKLY, DEAR GOD. I still have piles of unread books that like, live in this apartment. Yay for increasing my dependency on the library as opposed to buying every single thing I read, but I think I should clear out the unread books before making this switch, lol.
My digital to-read list keeps growing, too - mostly from looking through people's lists of favorite books on Goodreads, finding recs that are discussed at [community profile] ladybusiness, etc.
Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee - This is a collection of short stories that I read because it's on the Sirens reading list for this year. I've always loved her writing, and the same was true here; however, I have a really hard time making it through short stories. I'm not sure why - I think the only collection that I made it through in a reasonable amount of time was Ellen Klages's Portable Childhoods, and that was very unusual for me! Maybe I just like sinking my teeth into longer stories, maybe I need more characterization than short stories usually have room for, idk. I got a little nervous after finishing this one, when I realized how many titles in the final section of the reading list are short stories, but I guess I should look at it as a good thing - I'll be able to return to my unread book piles sooner, ;)

From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women in the World, Volume 1 by Marilyn French - I've seen these at Room for the last handful of years, and decided to see what they're like. French is obviously well-versed in history, and uses as many primary sources as she can. This book, though focused a lot on the hunter-gatherer stage of humanity, and takes it up through the founding of Judaism/Christianity/Islam, and describes how patriarchy is central to the narratives of all of these religions. Lots of interesting stuff about Greek societies, and observations about how societies were structured to control women that were put into terms I hadn't previously considered. That said, there were a lot of statements tempered with "probably" for a history book. Still, the focus of this was before the Common Era, so it's understandable there aren't a lot of primary sources, :p I'm looking forward to seeing whether there's an improvement in volumes 2 through 4.

The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir - This was quite a brick, and has taken me a while to plow through. As you know, Bob, I've been reading lots of Tudors!fiction and Tudors!history lately. Lots of books lead right up to Elizabeth's coronation, and then end. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. I had to know, so it was nice to read this, and continue forward. Things that endlessly recurred throughout Elizabeth I's life: Robert Dudley being a jerk but still attractive nonetheless, using marriage proposals/insinuations to keep her enemies abroad in check with one another, refusing to name an heir so that it didn't drain from her sometimes-tenuous hold on power, Catholic rebels planning coups that revolve around Mary Queen of Scots usurping her throne. I felt like I understood Elizabeth as a person after reading this, and Weir has a talent for making Privy Council meetings/etc. super interesting.

1603 by Christopher Lee - No, not that Christopher Lee. I saw this at the library a couple months ago, and thought it would be nice to see what happens after Elizabeth's reign, how the transition to James I happened, etc. The subtitle of the book also promises, "the Return of the Black Plague, the Rise of Shakespeare, Piracy, Witchcraft, and the Birth of the Stuart Era." I'm about halfway through.
Lee's writing is quite irritating after reading so much Weir. Lee is coy when discussing people's sexuality, saying that a person "didn't care much for women," etc., whereas I appreciated Weir's, "X was homosexual." Lee also addresses the reader as if he is fully aware of what they do/don't know about English history, phrases things as, "As we know..." or etc., and interjects narrative passages to say things like, "You might assume X, but let us remember Y, and do not be so quick to judge," etc.
If I didn't already have a solid grasp on who all these people were, and their contexts, from having just read Elizabeth I, I'm not sure I'd be able to follow his disjointed discussion of the transition of power. For a book called 1603, there's a lot of time spent on things that happened prior, and things that happened later, sometimes even centuries later. He also has a habit of referring to previous page numbers, or more often, upcoming page numbers - "As we will see..." Maddening. One of the future chapters is about what Japan was like at this time, and I'm really, uh, interested to see how far he has to stretch to relate that to the rest of the book.
It's a quick enough read that I'm still going to attempt to finish it before it's due back at the library, but I don't think I'll be reading anything else by this author, :p
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:] 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: 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: Toph of Avatar: The Last Airbender, earthbending (ATLA: Toph)
Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rift, part 2 - I'm still really digging this story arc. I love the focus on "what happens after the end" - in this volume, Sokka and Katara run into old members of the Southern Water Tribe who have moved north to work in unsafe conditions because they don't have another choice. The team also meets up with past soldiers from the Fire Nation Army who need work now that their steady source of income is gone. These are the kinds of details that I always WANT to read about, & would love in say, Harry Potter and dozens of other world. I'm glad to read about them here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I keep picking these books up when I'm feeling low, & Kitty is always inspiring to me. I hope I reread these many times in the future, but for now they're great on the first time through.
laceblade: Ed from Cowboy Bebop riding a scooter, face = manic glee (Ed Samba)
are you two years ago by [ profile] timorous_scribe - Reuniting a little threesome called the Unholy Trinity for some Toxic performance practice and one last sleepover before they have to return to their big kid lives (and all the issues that go with) at MIT, New York, and Yale.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ancillary Justice - I liked this, but perhaps not as much as others in my circle. I liked what it did with gender, liked a glimpse at what long-game politics look like, liked how complicated it was. Didn't really care for the writing :/
laceblade: Josh of The West Wing. Text: "They were just mad at me for imposing discipline and calling them stupid." (WW: Josh: discipline)
This book details the protests surrounding Governor Walker's 2011 Budget Repair Bill/Act 10.
Unlike Susan Riseling's book which focused on policing the protests, this one was written by two political reporters who work for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, & they give much-needed political background.

The reporters are factual in pointing out which portions are theater (almost all floor debates are always scripted; Senator Ellis made sure Cullen was out of the building before calling the roll when the Democratic senators left for Illinois, etc.).
They don't shy away from the fact that legislators needed police escorts due to threats of violence/death, or that they got spat on.

They're also pretty clear about Walker's open dismissal for protesters, his inexplicable refusal to take out the collective bargaining item even when urged to by other members of his own party.

I haven't read Walker's pre-2016 book "Unintimidated," but I'm sure it presents him as he is: someone who genuinely believes that God wants him to do the things he's done, & cannot/will not listen to criticism.

Having lived these protests on Twitter, I remember pretty much everything clearly.
Not an important detail is left out.
It's clear that the reporters know Wisconsin politics really well, & I really enjoyed reading this book.

It perfectly captures and explains this moment in history.
If you're going to read a book about the protests, read this one.

I still feel disappointed that so many people with whom I agree politically remain so easily manipulated by unions/liberal commentators.
People who talk about politics often lament about how unreasonable the other side is - I've heard many people wonder aloud how Republicans can think the way they do.
In the Netflix documentary about Mitt Romney, his wife & kids start a conversation wondering how Democrats could possibly be so obtuse about what it's like to run a small business.

While people are easily incredulous about people they disagree with, this skepticism is rarely turned back on to their own side.
If you feel an emotional resonance in someone's message, it's pretty rare that you'd take the time to go look up the percentage or historical fact someone quoted at you, so long as the conclusion affirms your political opinion.

Useful information is becoming sought-after in political reporting. Nate Silver enjoyed wide success after successfully predicting Obama's reelection based on aggregating poll data, and my former elections/voting professor Charles Franklin does the same thing on a smaller scale here in Wisconsin.
I'm looking forward to seeing what Silver & his team do with FiveThirtyEight, and am hopeful that he & other smart journalists who keep leaving establishment publishers like the New York Times & Washington Post for newer as-yet unexplained start-up journalism/internet ventures can put out valuable information, and that people will actually pay attention to it.

We'll see.
laceblade: Jubilee from X-Men, headphones on, working on an iPad, lookin' chill (Jubilee work)
Since last time, I've read a lot. Mostly because it's been at least a month since I last wrote about books.

I still like Dykes to Watch Out For, & would like to read more (I've read 4 volumes). I was pretty excited by the appearance of Thea, a new character who uses crutches or a wheelchair, depending on what kind of day it is for her.
When she gets hired over Mo & another primary character, they gripe about their boss wanting to appear . But the truth is that Thea is simply more qualified.
It's a teaching moment for Mo & others. I hope Thea gets some storylines of her own, beyond just being a teaching moment, but it was still nice regardless.
The characters in this book make me feel lazy by their constant protesting, lol.

I didn't like Rebecca Ore's Gaia's Toys as much as I'd hoped. It's a place where the ideas are better than the writing.
I was more interested in where the characters ended up at the end, I guess, & I would have enjoyed more about that.

I finally read K-ON! College, the last (& final?!) installment of this series. It basically does what it says on the tin. I still prefer the anime to the manga, as the manga has some more pandery poses/etc. I never felt like that watching the show, though.
This series (mainly the anime, which has been extremely popular) is consistently held up as being meant for men, as being exploitative of teenage girls.
I have to say that I try to be perceptive about such things, & I don't see it.
I recently came across this post [will insert list when back at home & can pull it from tumblr ^^;] that cautions Western feminists from imposing their interpretations on media that are culturally Japanese.
It's something I continue to think about a lot.

I've finally dropped the Dengeki Daisy manga, after reading volumes 3 &4. It continues to spend too much time focus on the things that aggravate me, & too little on the few plot points I enjoy (both of which have been covered in previous posts). Maybe I'll return to it if I get bored, but not for a while, at least.

I'm working from a rec-list of someone's fave fantasy novels, & a lot of them are women. I seem to be into fantasy more than SF lately (previously it had usually been the reverse for me!). The most recent entry was Princeless, so that's where I started. I really, really loved this. It opens with a young black princess interrogating her mother about princesses being locked in towers & saved by princes. She thinks it's stupid for fathers to purposely do this to their daughters (to secure marriages even when they can't afford dowries) - how can this happen?!
Turn the page, & Adrienne herself is locked in a tower by her father, in order to lure a prince to marry her.
Adrienne finds a sword under her bed (planted by her brother!), & convinces the dragon who guards her, Sparky, to "fight back against [their] mutual oppressors." THAT IS A LITERAL QUOTE.
She decides it's not enough for her to be free - she wants to help free her older sisters, also locked in towers.
IT'S JUST SO PERFECT. Really looking forward to reading more of this series.

Made it through Dawn of the Arcana #11. This ended up with an inevitable & cool plot development, but overall this series isn't doing much for me. Usually I don't mind panels without text, but in this book it just seems to emphasize that nothing's really happening, and people's feelings don't change over time (after volume 2, at least).

Plowed through The Hemingses of Monticello. I think this book could have benefited from more editing, particularly in the middle, but it was still a great work of non-fiction. Beware of the comments left by white people on Goodreads.

Black Widow & The Marvel Girls - Intended for children, I borrowed this from a member of my comics club. Basically, each chapter is Natasha having a plot with another female Marvel character. I got a much better sense for her from this than I did when I tried reading Winter Soldier about a year or so ago.
I still haven't read anything about Black Widow that makes me stan for her like Captain Marvel or Batwoman, but I'm willing to keep trying.

I read the second Twelve Kingdoms book, Sea of Wind, about Taiki. UGH I LOVED IT SO MUCH, so great, ugh. I <3 these books & can't really be coherent about them.

I read volumes 2-4 of G. Willow Wilson's Air. These felt a little messy to me, like I didn't always know what's going on. Interesting ideas, though?! I'm hoping Wilson's Ms. Marvel is held together a little better. I very much enjoyed the first issue, anyway. Kamala Khan is now tacked up on the wall of my cubicle, ;)

Read X-Men: FF in my continued efforts to read the arc that came before the current arc. Didn't really care for anything that was going on.

Jonathan Hickman's The Nightly News came highly recommended, and I really disliked it. This Goodreads review covers all the reasons why.
AND YET, it didn't stop me from borrowing Hickman's Pax Romana from the same comics club member, as the Vatican starts sending a time traveling army around. Hopeful that it will suck less!

Lastly, I read the first volume of Gail Simone's Red Sonja comic, & enjoyed it more than I expected to. I still don't get the chainmail bikini, but with 0 familiarity of the original series, Simone was able to make the characters & world feel very real. I plan to read more!
laceblade: Azusa offering piece of paper to the viewer, Ui in background holding cake (K-On: Azusa offer)
(it's been 84 years.gif)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Air: Letters from Lost Countries by G. Willow Wilson. Since she's going to be writing Ms. Marvel when it starts coming out in 2014, I wanted to be a little more familiar with Wilson's work. So far I've only previously read the stand-alone "Mystic" comic, meant for kids, which I didn't really like.
Air is about a flight attendant who's afraid of falling. Her love interest is an inpersonation-chameleon, and either a terrorist himself, or running from terrorists - or both.
There's a lot going on here, & I'll be reading more.
laceblade: Ashe from FF XII, looking at viewer over her shoulder. Text reads: "So you say you want a revolution?" (FFXII: You say you want a revolution)
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, ^^

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: Cardcaptor Sakura, smiling at viewer, surrounded by pink. Text: RESOLUTION (CCS: Resolution)
• What are you currently reading?
The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama by Gwen Ifill - I picked this up on a whim at the library. So far it's a fairly quick read & extremely well-written. I watch the PBS News Hour every evening, and I <3 Ifill. It's awesome knowing that she's a good writer, too.
This book is also helping me fill a gap in my knowledge about black politicians in the US.

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

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

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

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

Last weekend we set up a table of The Boyfriend's at the foot of our bed. My peace lily looks really handsome on it, but I also took the opportunity to create a stack of "books I'm reading right now." Seeing them all in a stack makes me want to finish them all! So maybe I'll turn back toward stuff I've started but not yet finished (The Other Boleyn Girl, the Marquez, Kokoro, etc.).
laceblade: fanart of Harry Potter in Gryffindor scarf, Hedwig landing on his outstretched arm (HP: Hedwig)
• What are you currently reading?
Constantine's Sword by James Campbell, - Still chipping at this. Campbell's tendency to talk about his personal life (including really creepy fixation on his mom?!?!?) is aggravating & frequent.

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

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

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

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

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

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: Shot of stained glass window from St. Norbert Abbey, text says: Eli, eli lamma sabachtani (Catholic: Eli eli)
So I read this book that's memoir-esque about the author's return to the Catholic Church. She'd grown up going to Catholic schools, but never got confirmed.
Feeling depressed and distant from her husband, she starts looking back into the Church, going through the RCIA process to become confirmed.
Today, we turn to shrinks, Prozac, yoga, drinking, television. Crises are supposed to come and go, and we're supposed to deal with them. But when it comes to a crisis because of a desire for faith, none of those solutions seemed to work for me. The contradictory desires for companionship and solitude that pushed me into panic and sorrow mirrored my problem with the phone: I've had a cell phone for years, but fewer than ten people have the number. I want to be able to call out, but I don't want anyone to reach me.

In addition to many of her political beliefs (supporting LGBT people in society, etc.), many facets of her faith ring true to mine, too.
I don't find a Jesus I can identify with in the stories about the miracles. They're like novels or old epic poems, just clusters of metaphors because for someone who's used to finding solace in facts and has taught literature for over a decade, they're tough to believe.
I prefer the stories of Jesus and people, particularly when he's talking to women.

Her experience going to mass feels like how I feel now.
Anyone who attends Mass by herself is guaranteed to be surrounded by what looks like hordes of loving Catholic families. There are lots of female lectors at my church, lots of women in the choir, lots of women who attend services, but they're with their families or in groups of other women.

The author seems to magically find groups of like-minded people to join, including a group of women who bitch about the Church's politics.
This sort of happened to me in high school, in that joining one group led me to join a bunch of others.
However, in college this really didn't work. I wrote the weekly intercessions for all four years, and through that was invited to join some sort of advisory board. However, I was way more liberally-minded than everyone else there, and every meeting was uncomfortable. I never felt part of the community there.

I've found another church now that has a strong commitment to social justice, but it seems like the only way to meet people is by joining a Bible study. All of the other "adult enrichment" groups are centered on around the making and eating of food.
So. Jealous, yeah.

Anyway, I like her thoughts on why the Church sucks at issues of gender equality.
Church does not love women unless they are nuns or the Virgin Mary, and some priests go into the seminary too young; they never establish deep friendships with women, and thus fail at understanding even the most basic challenges women face. Their entire knowledge of women is based on a teenage girl who lived several thousand years ago and a handful of particularly pious female saints. This is why I find myself getting along a lot better with priests who have sisters; they've had some exposure to women as human beings, not as plaster statuettes representing impossible ideals.

And politics in general.
The Catholic Church is so good at ministering to the poor, caring for the sick, educating people in forgotten communities. It is so good at encouraging its flock to injustice and fight oppression. And it is just freaking awful at understanding what it means to be a woman, or to be gay, or to want to express your sexuality without catching a disease.

IN SUM. I found a lot to agree with here, and the book makes feel less alone. There are a lot of liberal U.S. Catholics, and there are other parishes like mine that try hard to do/speak the things they think are right, in spite of being under the thumb of a right-wing bishop.
However, the book makes me miss the communities and friendships I'd made in high school, and haven't found a way to replicate since.
laceblade: Photo of Almanzo Wilder, flashes to text: "Almanzo Wilder was a stud." (Almanzo)
I've been following Wendy McClure's fake Laura Ingalls Wilder Twitter account, HalfPintIngalls, for a few months now. It's hilarious on its own, and it's even more funny if you've read the books.
A few favorite tweets include:
"Anyone know how to pry loose a hoopskirt stuck in a privy doorway?! Asking for a friend."

"Remember when the whitewashed sod walls made me crazy & I started screaming in Norwegian? Oh wait, that was someone else. #wrongnovel"

"Poor @Carrie_Ingalls looks peaked and thin. Has the Long Winter has been taking its toll? Or is she sneaking cigs behind the lean-to again?"

I think she's also tweeted at a fake Mary Ingalls account in fake Braille, idk.

Anyway, McClure has written a part-memoir, and sort of a pilgrimage, about the Little House books. Basically, McClure grew up loving the Little House books, rereads them after growing up, read a lot of academic (and a lot of fluff) about them, and then sets out to visit the sites of the locations in the books.

She writes frankly about Ma's racism, Rose's inexplicable claim that everything in the books are true (when even Laura gave interviews explaining why she changed some things), and the people she meets at the Laura sites - including some intense Christians who are into self-sufficiency in a hardcore way (due to the End Times, of course).

McClure gets her boyfriend to read the books and accompany her on some of the trips. She churns butter in her Chicago apartment. She reconciles with Farmer Boy.

I didn't learn anything new about Laura Ingalls Wilder from these books, aside from a few non-fiction titles I haven't heard of yet, as well as a few short story titles by Laura's daughter Rose, but reading this book was a genuine pleasure for me because I felt like Wendy and I came from the same headspace. Most of the books she referenced were the same ones I'd read, or ones I haven't read yet but have read so much about that I get the general gist of their arguments.

McClure is honest about the absurdity of the TV show, as well as how ridiculous the fans are - including herself. But there's an earnestness running throughout the books, too. I the reader am a bit startled that Wendy is exactly the same kind of fan as I am (one who assumes that nobody could love the books as well), and she is shocked at first to find other fans just as into it as she is - and then more accepting, like they're all in the same club.

To give an example of her humor, here are two of my favorite quotes:

The fact that Nellie wasn't any one person but rather a composite of three of the real Laura's antagonists' worst traits makes her even more terrifying, some kind of blond Frankenstein assembled from assorted bitch parts.

The guide pointed to a short set of crumbling flagstone steps leading down from the driveway. "Almanzo built those steps," she told us, as if she was trying to convince us.

Since I'm so familiar with the source material, it's hard for me to say how much you'd enjoy the book if you haven't read them. She does take the time to explain the source books, whenever appropriate.

If you've read the series, you definitely need not have read any of the non-fiction - she summarizes whatever she needs to, when appropriate.

Anyway. I loved this book, and it was exactly what I needed this weekend.


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

August 2017

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