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

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

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

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

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

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory - the first of her novels focusing on a pre-Tudor era: the Wars of the Roses. This book focuses on Elizabeth Woodville: the wife of Edward IV, and the grandmother of Henry VIII. One thing that I like about Gregory's books is that she pushes the, "Yes, this historical character was accused of witchcraft and isn't that horrible BUT ALSO WHAT IF THERE WAS WITCHCRAFT AND WHAT WOULD PEOPLE DO WITH IT?" so we have Elizabeth affecting battle outcomes by cursing people and/or controlling the weather. I probably liked this one more than the latter Tudor books I read/anything I've read since The Constant Princess [about Catherine of Aragorn], which still has my favorite canon-compliant AU of Catherine + Arthur Tudor = OTP4LIFE.
I'm looking forward to reading the other Wars of the Roses/"Cousins' War" books in this cycle, & have already started the second one focusing on Margaret Beaufort.
laceblade: Cardcaptor Sakura, smiling at viewer, surrounded by pink. Text: RESOLUTION (CCS: Resolution)
I'm not great at this once-weekly posting about books, am I?!

Mercedes Lackey update: After reading/really disliking Winds of Fate a while back, I was concerned I'd only like the first trilogy; however, I read Exile's Honor and By the Sword and really liked both. tbh I LOVED By the Sword so much. Super excited to read Oathbound also. Reading in publication order seems really important, and I think is why I floundered so much in Winds of fate. I kinda want to reread the Valdemar parts of Winds of Fate with more context now.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken - I remember reading this several times in elementary school, but all I remembered about the plot/characters was that I liked it. It holds up well - LOVE! - and apparently is part of a series, so I'm looking forward to finding out what happens to everybody.

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu - Basically like Animorphs where a Yeerk takes over your brain & can control your movements, except no morphing lol. This was a real page-turner and hit a lot of my trope buttons, but I really hated how the female characters serviced the plot [as in I can't remember the last time I felt so angry over this] and it REALLY needed an editor. Did it get edited at all? It felt like no. STILL, I liked it enough to be interested in reading the next book to see what happens.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman stuff - I read Fall of Light even tho [personal profile] jinian warned me not to. This was pretty creepy but I liked the protagonist?? Still, uncomfortable/sense of unease. Read Heart of Memories really annoyed me, and Stir of Bones actually kind of really set me off. I need to not read things where the protagonists talk about wanting to be dead :)
It's kind of put me off trying more by her, even though I'd like to try more. :/

Story of Saiunkoku manga - UGH SO GOOD. I LOVE THIS STORY SO MUCH. [personal profile] intothespin said on twitter that Shurei is like Leslie Knope and YES, SO MUCH YES. ALL SHE WANTS IS TO BE A CIVIL SERVANT AND DO A GOOD JOB AND HELP HER COUNTRY. It really speaks to the state employee in me, :*) In addition to bureaucracy + shoujo manga + amazingness.
I really wish the novels would be translated into English, either professionally or by fans, so I can find out what happens next, :( I think the manga and the anime left off in the same place.

Time Stranger Kyoko, vols. 1 and 2 by Arina Tanemura - pretty good, fluffy fun? But what I loved most of all was the implicit f/f declaration of love. Like Tomoyo and Sakura, it just makes me go *____*

The Movement by Gail Simone - Suggested by someone at comics club, honestly can't remember who. Sadly, this tried to grab a niche from the Occupy movement, and fill this space of "fuck the system" vs. police, but the dialogue was terrible, I gave zero fucks about the characters, and it was just really bad.

Phoebe and her Unicorn - Meant for children, compared to Calvin and Hobbes. Lots of one-off pages that also tell a story about a precocious girl with a prissy unicorn friend. Boring, hated it.

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory, aka her book about Mary, Queen of Scots. This details when she was held prisoner by George Talbot and Bess of Hardwick. I REALLY LOVE MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS? I THINK I LIKE HER MORE THAN ELIZABETH I? It's funny - I have a couple coworkers who are really into Tudors books [one of whom is the one lending me all these, who's sadly leaving for another job!], and one of them really despises Mary QoS, thinking she was stupid for not just taking her Scottish crown and being happy with it. Gregory makes her sympathetic, and from her POV all of her actions make sense, to me. Her observations of Elizabeth as mean, entirely under the control of William Cecil, and how she reacts to fear/etc. rang 100% true to me. Bess of Hardwick was pretty fun to read about, too. I can see why some people would dislike the impressionistic POV-switching that's going on between the three characters, but for me it help the pace going in what was overall a reflective book, excepting all the Rise of the North stuff.
laceblade: 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: Ritsu, Mio, & Azusa in bathing suits, holding inflatable inner tube, smiling (K-On: Summer)
I've been meaning to support Sparkler for months, and their latest membership drive will finally get me to do it.
Why? Because if I don't, there will be no Sparkler, :(

I think that what they produce is really important, & they probably describe themselves the best:

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.

If you have or are planning to purchase a Sparkler subscription, which tier did you choose?
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 Yukiko & Chie from Persona 4 (P4: Yukiko/Chie)
SO...after my HP reread, I had a lot of stuff due back at the library.
Then I went to comics club & borrowed lots of stuff from people. SO THIS IS A LONG LIST, is what I'm saying.

Cold Steel by Kate Elliott - Great conclusion to a trilogy I've loved. I LOVE CAT AND BEE. CAT AND BEE FOREVERRRRRRR. Also I now want to read a bunch of other Kate Elliott stuff. Good thing I've been buying her novels wherever I find them used/cheap.

Kaze Hikaru, volumes 14-18 - Things are getting a little more intense! I loved the foreshadowing when the doctor came to visit - listening to Okita's chest, when the reader knows he's going to end up dying from consumption.

Saturn Apartments, volumes 6 & 7 - The end of this series! It got a little more intense than I thought it would. Anyway, I can't remember any manga or comic focusing so much on class issues as the central theme of the plot. I'm glad I read this - great sf/f ideas, and a great entry manga, if you're looking for something.

Tears of a Lamb, volume 2 - Didn't like this volume as much as the first - almost the entire thing was about the school's sports festival. I did enjoy meeting Kanzaki's sisters, though.

Dengeki Daisy, volume 2 - I loathed the first half, where Teru was a "slave" doing domestic tasks for Daisy (although she doesn't know he's Daisy).
I LOVED the second half, though - where it's about hackers & the work Teru's brother did while he was still alive. I really hope that Teru goes & lives with Riko.
I'll keep reading FOR NOW.

Very Vicky, issue #? & The Very Vicky Junior Hepcat - This was described to me as a fashion magazine, but idk if I agree? Anyway, Vicky dresses in black cocktail dresses & oversized black hats, & is going to visit her aunt & uncle down in the South (she lives in NYC). She hangs out at the beach although she tries to stay out of the sun. She makes friends. The pages are filled with references to old fashions & alcohol. One of the side character meets God on the beach, & he walks around & tries to meet people. I think I didn't read enough to get a full picture. Overall, it seemed kinda weird. I didn't like it enough to seek out more, I don't think.

Dykes to Watch Out For, vols. 1 & 2 - borrowed from [personal profile] jesse_the_k - I've heard about these for years but never read them before. Strip comics about the lives of lesbians! Just people living life. I really like "mundane" comics like these - it happens more often in manga than in US comics, I think. I'm glad there's lots more to read. The references to late-1980s politics make me happy. The errant transphobic comment does not.

Pretty Deadly, #1-4 - Glad I went back to reread #1 & then reread everything that's been released through now. It all makes sense again! I love the writing & the art. I'm excited to see where this goes.

Saga #18 - Decent wrap-up to this arc. Loved the final panel. Thirsty for more, but the next arc won't start 'til May!

Hawkeye #16 - I spent an embarrassing amount of time searching my apartment for #15 before complaining on Twitter & being told that Marvel skipped #15! Weird, but yay for more Kate Bishop!
laceblade: Dark icon, white spraypaint on bottom with "DA" for Dumbledore's Army. Top text, in caps: We will not obey. (HP: Dumbledore's Army: We will not obey)
Finished Reading
Kaze Hikaru, volume 13 - Still very much enjoying this series, although it does bug me how much Miki's weight is used for comic relief.

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

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

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

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

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

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

OTHER
Although I've been on the periphery of HP "fandom" (almost everyone I know loves these books; I'm speaking specifically of fandom in the "creation of fanworks" sense) for years, I've never really read much fanfic.
If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. (Epic-length stuff appreciated!) Even the stuff where you're like, "Oh, everybody's read THAT."
I have the suspicion I've asked this question before, so I'll be searching my own tag, too, ^^;;
laceblade: G Washington, A Hamilton, & T Jefferson; lol!text about political party formation (LOL politics)
Finished Reading
Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn - This one is my favorite of the 3 I've read so far! Cut for discussion of suicidal character, which was a main plot in this book )
UGH I LOVE IT. ty again to [personal profile] littlebutfierce for talking these books up <3 <3 <3

Kaze Hikaru 11 & 12 - Wow, so spoilers )
It was all very dramatic & makes me excited for how this series will continue the intense events yet to come!!
I love every character and UGH JUST SO GOOD, I really did not expect to like this series as much as I do. I've been aware of it for some time but I'm glad I finally picked it up.

Shinjū by Laura Joh Rowland - Christ there's a lot of suicide in the books I read this week! ANYWAY, the novel begins with a double-murder that was arranged to look like a shinjū, or "lovers' suicide," in which two people are bound together & throw themselves in the water to drown because they're unable to marry - in this case, due to familial class differences. Sano Ichiro is a new yoriki working for the shogunate, & he ends up violating bushido to keep investigating this weird case, even after repeatedly told not to.
The writing doesn't do much for me, & the characters are pretty rote BUT there were a number of plot progressions that came totally out of left field for me, & I couldn't put the second half of the book down.
This is the first in a long series, so I'm willing to stay with it & see if the writing improves. I've got the next book on hold at the library.

Unico by Osamu Tezuka - I don't know why I keep Tezuka manga, as I always hate it. It had such an adorable cover!!! But I think I'm finally done for good.

A View From the Interior: Policing the Protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol by Sue Riseling - There have been a number of books published about the Wisconsin union protests. I doubt I'll ever read John Nichols', as I find him pompous & stupid. The ones written by the protestors don't really interest me either. HOWEVER, I have two checked out & this is the first one I've managed to read, written by Sue Riseling, Chief of UW-Madison Police.
The book is entirely focused on how the protests were policed, & why certain decisions were made. Riseling's style is pretty straightforward, but I found the book fascinating. The breakdown of clusterfucky project management was very intriguing, & it didn't hurt to have a book filled with characters who are super familiar to me.

Her insights into policing are great. When it's first suggested to clear out the entire building with no warning, here's her thought process:
The thought of abruptly switching gears and having uniformed police clear people out for no particular reason except "today is the day" struck me as fundamentally wrong. It is a lesson I learned a long time ago and try to continually teach to new police officers: "Can I?" and if yes, "Should I?"
Can I muster enough police officers to empty this building by 6:00 tonight? You bet. The mass arrest plans were in place, the civil disobedience plans were in place, the hard (riot) gear for police was on-site and ready for use, and the University Police force's Police Extraction Response Unit was here, along with the EOD canines. Unlike last Friday or Sunday, today I had everything I needed to make this happen.
Should I? No. It would be a ridiculous tactic, bad philosophy, and constitute an egregious use of power. The Assembly was still meeting and the building had to remain open. There was nothing to be gained from the spark that would ignite or the firestorm that would follow if we forced people out of the Capitol today. If we thought the crowds were big now, imagine how large they would be if we proceeded to shatter the trust and evict protesters without warning. Just to achieve the goal of clearing the building because we can made no sense.

Once the Assembly session was over, of course, then there WAS a reason to clear the building (the building had hours - staffing it with police was costing tens of thousands of dollars - cleaning crews couldn't do their jobs & the whole building smelled like BO & human waste - capacity hazards, etc.

She makes clear things that those within the building understand, but people tweeting to #wiunion usually did not & lots of people usually don't - that things that look like dramatic progressions have actually been agreed upon by both sides ahead of time to make more political theater.
One example is the part where Ted (full confession: my former boss & friend) is asking for troopers to accompany his staff to visit the houses of a few senators after they'd skipped town (preventing the Senate from voting on the "budget repair bill" due to a lack of quorum). Ted relays to Riseling that "conversations were occurring between various leaders and a few of the missing senators. Some of the senators had intimated that if they were found in the state, they would return to the Capitol."
Purposely concocted political theater, & yet I remember people totally losing their shit when the pages & troopers went to knock on doors.

Riseling steps into a power vacuum of controlling various police agencies (excluding the city & county cops, who refused to enter the fucking building, jackholes). The daily meetings are almost painful to read, especially the actions of Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs. The power structure and decision-making authorities are unclear, which is never good.
Once they decide to close the Capitol at 4pm on a particular Sunday, Tubbs pushes for voluntary compliance, meaning that while most of the protestors leave the building when asked, everyone's aware that a few of them will stay behind & refuse to leave.
DOA & Tubbs & others basically state that once this happens, they will refuse to open the building on Monday as usual, until those people leave.
Of course, this is never explained to protestors, & since Tubbs & the majority of the committee refuse to allow Riseling & her officers to simply arrest these protestors and physically remove them from the building (a process with which they're really familiar!!), Tubbs allows the actions of a hundred or so people to close access to the building for thousands of others, pissing everyone off.
Riseling asks lots of questions related to this - if we don't arrest the protestors who refuse to leave the building & they stay over night, then what happens Friday morning? If we only allow 354 people into the building, are these protestors counted in the 354 figure? At what point will they actually cut off people from sleeping inside the Capitol? Nobody answers her questions - always a sign of shitty management & a totally dysfunctional workplace, in my experience.

It's semi-hilarious to read about protestors sitting in the Rotunda with messages they wanted to give to the media upon their arrest, & having already discussed their techniques/etc., while unknown to them, no arrests were going to occur.

Riseling is frustrated with this, realizing that the overall goal is a political desire to limit overall access to the building, rather than to keep the peace (p. 249). Riseling's goals are safety balanced with facilitating people's rights to exercise their First Amendment rights.

It's hilarious later on, when the overall goal is to close the building, & Chief Tubbs suggests an exchange of people, allowing protestors inside to go home & shower/change, while allowing someone outside the building to come in & take their place. Riseling says that their repeated goal is to return the Capitol to regular business hours, with nobody spending the night inside the building. Given that goal, exchanging people one-to-one runs right contrary to that - the total # of protestors in the building would never decrease!

15 days into the protests, Riseling figures out that the Capitol Police's secretary has solely been in charge of logistics, which was why logistics had been failing. tbh, Capitol Police in general came off as a complete shitshow in this book.

UW Police was way more open to logical suggestions & rolling with the surroundings of reality, & also accepting leadership & pointed questions from a woman. It's clear that a lot of dudebros are not down with this.

Several times, it's clear that Republicans put themselves into dangerous positions by not being open with the police about their plans. They'd pull surprises & erode the trust with the public, & every time the police would have to come running.

Her reflections on how policing can help facilitate people exercising their rights is pretty enjoyable to read, although it's clear it's something an officer & manager must actively think about & work toward.
Passively having ideas like "let's get this shit & lockdown" & then executing plans that don't actually facilitate your overall goals ruins the settings for everyone. Overall, I liked this book quite a bit.

Tears of a Lamb, vol. 1 - I randomly picked this up from the library while home for the holidays at my home!library.
It starts off with Hasumi inexplicably having a strong desire to enter the apartment of her classmate, Kanzaki. She never explains why, so they just have nonsensical & epic arguments in front of their classmates. I almost stopped reading it after a chapter two, but I'm so glad I continued!
It turns out that Hasumi is trying to locate a ring that she thinks is in the apartment from the person who lived their two-tenants ago, who was her friend. Hasumi's also dealing with an eating disorder caused by stress, & I guess I just imprinted on her pretty strongly. I'm interested in seeing where this goes, although I think I'll need to use our library's outer-loan system to obtain future volumes.


Currently Reading
I'm kind of skimming through Brian Jacques's Loamhedge. Later Redwall books don't really do it for me, even though the earlier ones were pretty formative! I've always been a little interested in Loamhedge, though. It's the original abbey from which Abbess Germain & the other mice came, running from a plague, back in the days of Martin the Warrior.
I wanted to learn more about it, but the plot of the hare who uses a wheelchair & is seeking a magical cure to be able to walk again is making me really uneasy.
I'm heading back to Madison in a few hours, so I'll likely just skim this to see wtf happens.
laceblade: Cardcaptor Sakura, smiling at viewer, surrounded by pink. Text: RESOLUTION (CCS: Resolution)
• What are you currently reading?
Robert Kennedy and His Times by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
There was obviously lots of Kennedy reminisces last week with the 50-year anniversary of JFK's assassination.
I bought this for $2 at the Memorial Library sale a couple months ago, during the Wisconsin Book Festival.
I like it quite a bit, just finished the chapter about the investigation committee into unions/etc., focusing on Jimmy Hoffa.
Overall, it's very sanitized, pretty obvious Schlesinger was a close family friend, etc.
For example, the mention of Rosemary going to live with nuns in Wisconsin is just a simple, "She got worse," with no mention of the attempted-and-botched lobotomy.
I empathize for RFK, who most people seemed to take as crabby & irritable if they didn't know him very well.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


READING NOW
The Lucy Variations, which I think [personal profile] owlectomy blogged about. It's about being a teenager & figuring out who you are. Lucy comes from a hella rich family who's played piano internationally, until her family's tendency to place fame/piano over everything else prompts her to quit.
I like the book okay, & it's going quickly.
And I think I'll probably dig out my Mozart & Chopin music and bring it home with me this weekend, when I visit the family piano at my sister's.
laceblade: Katara of ATLA, gritting teeth. Text: Such a shame / why you hold on (ATLA: Katara: breathe)
• What are you currently reading?
I just started Cold Fire but I’m feeling pretty fickle lately.

Will someone please tell me if this book contains suicide or attempted suicide? Lately every fucking thing I pick up has it, & I need some time away from such content.


• What did you recently finish reading?
The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino (translated to English by Alexander O. Smith) - I put this on hold on the library because a reviewer at a manga blog I read (probably Manga Bookshelf) reviewed the more recent novel.
I sometimes have a hard time with the way Japanese fiction translates into English (phrases can translate in overly descriptive ways that make me hate it in English?!), but that fell away for me within a few pages for this book.
It’s a mystery, but also not, & hard to discuss without giving things away.
Trigger warnings for domestic violence, murder, & attempted suicide.

Kaze Hikaru, volume 2 - I liked this volume quite a bit more than the first one. Spoilers )
laceblade: Fanart of Yukiko & Chie from Persona 4 (P4: Yukiko/Chie)
• What are you currently reading?
Kaze Hikaru, volume 2. I read volume 1 a while ago, & I think I totally forgot to mention it. Anyway, a shoujo romance about the Shinsengumi. The protagonist is a girl who disguises herself as a boy to avenge the deaths of her father & brother.
My previous exposure to the Shinsengumi is the anime “Peacemaker Kurogane,” which I loathed b/c I thought was horribly paced, & also hated the protagonist.
So I know the Okita Souji is a bamf. Souji is the protag’s love interest in this series.
I’m not really digging this thus far, but I have a bunch of volumes checked out, so I’ll be reading at least a bit more, unless I get too frustrated!

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

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

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

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

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

Kokoro - This is a classic of Japanese literature, set at the end of the Meiji era. It’s pretty dark, focusing heavily on death & suicide, with insights into human nature/etc. It’s difficult to discuss without spoiling the whole thing!
Anyway, this was part of a collection of Japanese literature I won in a Con or Bust auction, so I’m excited to read more of them in the future.
laceblade: Sailor Venus in eternal transformation, holding fist in triumph (Sailor Venus fist)
• What are you currently reading?

Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn - [personal profile] littlebutfierce has talked this series up, and I'm about 1/5 through the first one. It's a quick read, like many romance novels (although I'm not sure yet whether this will be romance?!). Kitty is a werewolf who accidentally starts a supernatural talk radio show. She gives a lot of life advice to vampires/werewolves/humans. I do find it really comforting to read the advice she gives to other people. It's like having a pocket therapist. Her relationship with her pack's alpha, specifically him forcing sex when in wolf form, makes me uncomfortable. But this seems to make Kitty uncomfortable too, so I'm willing to keep reading to see how things develop in terms of pack-dynamic.


• What did you recently finish reading?

A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer - I really, really loved this. I've already checked out the sequel from the library. I think this will become a favorite for me, & I expect to return to it many times.

Trillium #1 - I picked up this series at the comic book store based on the cover. It's a split comic, with the first half being from the perspective of Nika, a scientist in the year 3797. She wears space suits and is trying to diplomatically harvest some specific flowers to save humanity from a disease that's already cut it down to 4,000 people. Flip the comic over, and the other half is about an ex-WWI soldier in 1921 who joins an expedition to Peru. After his party is attacked and killed, he climbs to the top of an Inca Temple, where he inexplicably meets Nika at the summit. I'm pretty excited to read more of this.

Dawn of the Arcana, volumes 1-3 = This is a new manga series I started. The protagonist, Nakaba, enters into a political marriage that nobody expects to last. The kingdoms of Balquat and Senan are constantly warring, and have political marriages to institute a false peace, which typically last about two years. There's also a race of oppressed people called the Ajin, who are part-animal and slowly starting a rebellion.
Nakaba has red hair, which brings shame to to her and the families she's been in her entire life.
The English translation is by Alexander O. Smith, whose work I enjoy (especially the Vagrant Story video game). There are very few words per page, which makes these volumes quick reads. The interpersonal developments (love triangle) can be a little dramatic, and I'm not wild about the art, but the politics and translation make this a pretty enjoyable read.

Cross Game manga - I read the final volume, which was poignant & great. Overall this was a nice series and I'm glad I tried something new.

Last issue of Buffy season 9: Was pretty good! I still liked Angel & Faith more, but Buffy season 9 was a pretty big improvement over season 8. The editor's notes at the end said there won't be any details about season 10 until New York Comic-Con, so for now there's a wait -_-


• Abandoned
Soul Eater manga. I was trying to get through volume 10 & just DID. NOT. CARE. about what anyone was talking about. It's this thing that plagues me in a lot of shounen manga - people standing around talking forever about the intricacies of how the ENEMY'S POWER works, & blah-blah. I started reading this b/c I liked the art & feel super drawn to Maka. There's not enough Maka to hold me in, unfortunately. I'm dropping this for good! Maybe I'd try the anime again some day. The action sequences are way more interesting that way.


• What do you think you’ll read next?
Who the eff knows, lol. I guess I got more Dawn of the Arcana from the library! I've also organized my Turtles comics. I'm over a year behind on those & really need to catch up & decide whether to keep buying, so (like I've been saying for months), I'd like to catch up on those & just decide. TURTLES IN A HALF SHELL...TURTLE POWER!
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)
• What are you currently reading?
Cross Game, volume 7. Almost done?!

A Woman Wrapped in Silence - I've mentioned this before, basically the all-in-verse fic about Mary. In the passages I read over the weekend, Jesus was born - yay!
I'm not sure how I'll feel about this long-term. As implied by the title, it's basically about the silence/mystery surrounding Mary during moments of high emotion/drama. It's not really compelling to me for a woman's silence to be the most important thing about her, ;p


• What did you recently finish reading?
Basara, volumes 25-27 - Wow, the end! Yumi Tamura really knows how to pull all her threads together. As for the past/future after-stories, I really only cared for the ones about Sarasa & Shuri and the one about Hayato (OMG HAYATO). Someone should write a paper about how Sarasa views her own gender, kthx.
I just really loved this series. Definitely one of my favorites. I'll now spend my life hunting for these volumes in used bookstores!
Maybe now I'll read her current series, 7 Seed, like all the cool kid?? It's only available to me in scanlation format, though, & I vastly prefer reading manga in paper format. Before switching to another apocalyptic one, I'd like to finish some other things I have downloaded, like Gokinjo Monogatari.

Cross Game, volume 6 - Still gr9. I was wary about Akane at first, but I like her quite a bit.

The Last of Us #4 (final) - this was good, although as predicted, now I just want to play the video game for which this mini-series is a prequel. Unfortunately, it's for the PS3. Who knows, maybe I'll get a PS3 after the PS4 comes out & there's a price drop?? WE'LL SEE. I just love Faith's art. I'll read any story she's drawn/written. Post-apocalypse is so much the better. I'm glad I read this mini-series!

Mara #5 - That's how it ends?? Meh. I won't be keeping these issues, so look for my upcoming "take my stuff" post, because my current paper grocery bag marked "sell" is full ;)

Buffy, season 9 #23/24 (The Core, parts 3 & 4) - I love that Spike has Xander entered in his phone as "Wanker," :*) UMM THESE WERE INTENSE BUT I DON'T HAVE MUCH TO SAY ABOUT THEM?! The final issue comes out today. Overall, I've liked Season 9 more than Season 8.

Angel & Faith #24/25 (What You Want, Not What You Need, parts 4 & 5) (final) - umm, wow, I just really loved Angel & Faith a lot, this entire run. Go Christos Gage for being a great writer, & I really loved Rebekah Isaacs's art, too. The characterization has been spot-on, & the emotional arc was super compelling for me (I <3 angst-ridden stuff about finding your own way/meaning in life, so ymmv).
GILES'S AUNTS! GILES'S AUNTS! GILES'S AUNTS! Also spoiler )
I'm sad it's over, & will definitely reread this. I loved it way more than Buffy season 8. I'm interested in the details regarding Buffy season 10 - when it's going to start, obviously, but what the partner titles will be, too.

X-Men #3 & #4 - I <3 the art in this series. I still don't know who the fuck anybody is, but I like it enough to keep going & I want to make an icon out of Jubilee working on a tablet from issue #3.


• What do you think you’ll read next?
I've been organizing/catching up on my comics (can you tell?!). I have a larger stack of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which I'd really like to read & get through, & decide whether to continue to keep it on my pull list or not.
Since I don't know who the hell anyone is in X-Men, it seems like it'd behoove me to read some more X-Men stuff -_-
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, Reina holding Kumiko's face w/one hand, faces close enough to almost touch. (Default)
• What are you currently reading?
Ash: The Secret History by Mary Gentle - I got this from work's library! It's the all-in-one tome, so a little too big for me to lug back & forth from work :/ I'm almost halfway through, which I think means I've read most of Carthage Ascendant. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH?!?!


• What did you recently finish reading?
the numbness or the pain (so intense to feel) by [archiveofourown.org profile] only_because3 - Glee fic set after Finn's upcoming death (which will happen in episode 3, as Cory Monteith died), trying to explain why Quinn wouldn't attend the funeral. (It was revealed that Dianna Agron who plays her won't be in the episode/wasn't asked to be in the episode.) This is the only fic I've read so far incorporating Finn's death, & it's because it was written by an author I trust. Short, pretty good. I miss reading Glee fic, & I should read more.

Gwen Ifill book on race in politics - I ended up liking this quite a bit, although I don't have anything more to say about it than I said last week.

Basara, volumes 22-24 - I'm circling toward the end and it's pretty good?! I think I'll probably be adding this to my list of all-time favorite manga. I just hope that I can find copies of the series eventually, & buy them for myself. I assume they're all out of print -_-
The plot/etc. is dropping off a little bit for me - the intense one-on-one battles that are all happening simultaneously can be a little ugh. BUT the artwork has really stepped up its game these past few volumes. So it's a wash.

Cross Game, volumes 4 & 5 (as released in the US) - This series is picking up a little bit for me. The baseball annoys me less, mostly because those scenes go really fast! And the relationships between the various characters are becoming more interesting, especially Aoba & Kitamura. Still, I feel like this series would be much more interesting to me if Aoba were the protagonist instead of Kitamura. The occasional pantyshots continue to telegraph to me, "This story is not meant for you!"
I love the background art in this series, & also the wordless panels and pages. Scenes change by showing the readers what life in this part of the city is like, by reminding characters of Wakaba, etc. I do really like the way the manga-ka tells the story. You can definitely tell he's been doing it for a long time.


• What do you think you’ll read next?
Not sure! I'm a little stressed out at the moment, so I could see myself turning to something for comfort. But probably mostly things I've still got checked out from the library. I'll also be rereading Saga for [community profile] beer_marmalade.
laceblade: Dark icon, white spraypaint on bottom with "DA" for Dumbledore's Army. Top text, in caps: We will not obey. (HP: Dumbledore's Army: We will not obey)
• What are you currently reading?
Basara manga! (see below)

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

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

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

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

• What do you think you’ll read next?
MOAR BASARA so that I can return a pile of stuff to the library tomorrow. After that, idk. I still have lots of stuff checked out from the library, so probably more of that :D
laceblade: 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)
• What are you currently reading?
Soul Eater, volume 5 - It's been a long time since I read 1-4! While I enjoy some of the character designs, I feel like I'm only here for Maka & Soul, and wholly uninterested in everything/everyone else :/

A Woman Wrapped in Silence - Basically a fanfiction about Mary (mother of Jesus) written in the 1940s, in verse. I've owned this since buying it at St Meinrad while on there on a retreat, in high school, but never got past the first 10 pages or so. I picked it up after attending a mass led by a woman priest. Progress is slow because I can be easily irritated by most poetry.


• What did you recently finish reading?
W.I.T.C.H. graphic novel, volumes 1 & 2 - I still feel about the same toward this as I did while I was in the middle of volume 1. I <3 the art, but feel the writing is a little sub-par? Still unconvinced I'll reread these later, but I'm reserving "putting it in the sell pile" judgment until I read all 8 volumes I've acquired (half from the library).

Shugo Chara-chan, volume 1 - This is a 4-panel comedy manga spun-off from Peach-Pit's Shugo Chara! Its about the guardian characters, mostly gags. It wasn't amusing enough to hold my attention, & I ended up skimming half the volume & returning volumes 2-4 to the library unread.

Basara, volume 8 - This series continues to be pretty great overall. Starting to feel some dread about how certain revelations are going to be handled. I do like its dealing with the realities of power/etc. - examining what characters are going to do once they get what they think they want, how different territories are governing themselves (or being governed) if the aftermath of the apocalypse, etc.

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene - What survives of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene is short, so this book has an introduction & a preface, and after the straight-up translation of the gospel, a line-by-line commentary.
The commentary discusses the idea of the "divine feminine" in the context of Mary revealing this super spiritual scripture, as opposed to the other way I've encountered it in the past ("feminine divinity means subjugating yourself to men").

This gets a little gender essentialist, which happens often when I read women in relation to the Bible.
Example is discussing the Marys hanging out at the Crucifixion - this gets brought up a lot! ONLY THE WOMEN STAYED, etc.
Are men less courageous than women? Perhaps they have less fear of death, but more fear of suffering? There are no simple answers to this. Yet it is worth noting that it is often mostly women who are present in great moments of life such as this, at deathbed and at birth. Husbands and fathers are more often absent. Surely this would not be seen as desertion (of which they are often accused), but rather as an indication of the great difficulty of the masculine mind (and some feminine minds as well) experiences when it feels powerless in the face of suffering that it can neither combat nor alleviate.

...OR it's because women are socialized to be caretakers?? jfc.

After MM has seen the risen Christ & spoken with Him, she goes back to the Apostles to a) tell them about it so that Christianity starts spreading afterward, and b) tells them about all kinds of other mystical stuff. Their immediately reaction is pretty predicable:
Having said all this, Mary became silent;
for it was in silence that the Teacher spoke to her.
Then Andrew began to speak, and said to his brothers:
"Tell me, what do you think of these things she has been telling us?
As for me, I do not believe
that the Teacher would speak like this.
These ideas are too different from what we have known."
And Peter added:
"How is it possible that the Teacher talked
in this manner with a woman
about secrets of which we ourselves are ignorant?
Must we change our customs,
and listen to this woman?"

& then LOL at leaving this gospel out of the Bible. :( :( :(

At some point, the author digresses into this own interpretation of the Ten Commandments, which is a little more expansive than their general interpretation. I'll use my favorite of his - Honor the Sabbath - as an example. The first part = common interpretation, second paragraph = more mind-blowing to me.
You may rest from all your doing, working, and producing. Human beings are not only made for work, but also for repose - that holy repose that is fully savored after good work, not only on the Sabbath, but every day.

On the day of the Sabbath, all human beings will become equal, for there are no more employers and employees. This law is intended to free us from the bounds of another law, that of dominator and dominated. On the Sabbath, there are no more professors and students, no more lords and serfs. There are only the children of God, sons and daughters of the One Light.

WHOA, right?!

The author's reinterpretation of the Beatitudes are a little similarly radical. The Beatitudes = well-loved by many people who ID as Christian & are also compassionate about social justice.
Yeshua is not saying, "Blessed are you, unhappy victims, be happy in your martyrdom." He is saying, "Do not let yourself be stopped by persecution, slander, and all sorts of violence. Use this as a challenge and opportunity for growing in consciousness and love."

While I'm not typically a fan of "hard times are there to make you stronger" interpretations of life, I do like interpretations of the Gospels that are about Jesus saying, "You're better than that, & if you really believe in me, then DO something about it."

Overall, I enjoyed reading this, although the latter half of the book got into philosophical stuff that I'll freely admit I didn't understand. I think I even skimmed some of it.
I have another commentary/analysis/etc. of the Gospel of Mary Magadalene waiting for me at the library, & I'm hoping that it will be a little more accessible to me.


• What do you think you’ll read next?
More manga, & I should starting reading Pantomime by Laura Lam. It's our next [community profile] beer_marmalade book.
laceblade: Cardcaptor Sakura, smiling at viewer, surrounded by pink. Text: RESOLUTION (CCS: Resolution)
• What are you currently reading?
W.I.T.C.H., volume 1 - I own the first four volumes, so I'm reading them & later volumes from the library to decide whether I'd like to keep it.
Halfway through volume one & I'm feeling pretty meh - the writing is pretty weak but the art is fantastic. I'll wait 'til I've read all of the volumes before making a decision.
So far it's pretty standard: 5 girls discover they have magical powers! It's a very mahou shoujo storyline, but I think this was created by Disney.

• What did you recently finish reading?
Shugo Chara!, volumes 10-12 - These were the last three volumes in the main series.
I really feel like the storyline ended with volume 10, and volumes 11 & 12 were pretty useless additions.
I'm now kind of dreading picking up the sequel (Shugo Chara!-chan) which I've already got checked out from the library.
I think I said everything I had to say about this series last week: I like the premise more than the execution. If I still have the first two volumes in my stacks, I think I'll be adding them to my sell pile.

Cross Game, volume 3 (collecting volumes 7 & 8 as published in Japan - I read the first two volumes last year & haven't picked it up for a while. This is still a more-moving-than-usual sports manga about baseball.
Still, often when Aoba picks up a baseball & throws a hard pitch, there will be at least one panel that's solely a crotch-shot of her panties when she lifts her leg in the air to throw the ball. Also a swimsuit scene that had some girls near a pool and had some panels that were literally nothing but shots of the bottom halves of their swimsuits. It's a sign in neon lights to me: THIS STORY IS NOT INTENDED FOR YOU.

• What do you think you’ll read next?
More manga, & also selections about Mary Magdalene & women in the Catholic church from a handout I picked up Monday evening at a mass I attended - officiated by a woman Catholic priest (!!!).
laceblade: Cardcaptor Sakura, smiling at viewer, surrounded by pink. Text: RESOLUTION (CCS: Resolution)
• What are you currently reading?
Nothing! b/c I finished what I was reading last night ^^;

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

Killjoys #2

Hawkeye #12

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

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


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


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

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

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


• What do you think you’ll read next?
More Basara, more Shugo Chara, & more of the other manga I've got checked out from the library ^_^
It'd be nice to read more non-fiction, too.

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