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[sticky post] Mar. 1st, 2014

This journal is closed. Shut down. Absent without leave. Checked in at the Hotel California. Missing in action. Gone forever, pursued by a bear.

This journal is tentatively rebooted. Opened up. Present without warning. Checked out of the Hotel California. Back in black. Looking for friendly forest creatures to befriend.

last week was Marvel-ous

Having rewatched Ant-Man about five more times during the past week, it seems safe to say that I have developped a certain fannish fondness for it. I blame Hank Pym; Scott is a likeable enough hero, but Hank Pym is just the kind of arrogant, manipulative jerk-with-maybe-a-heart-of-gold that I tend to get attached to. (I don't think he shows up in Civil War, but hopefully he'll be in the next Ant-Man movie?)

I also rewatched Guardians of the Galaxy, which was still fun, and Jurassic World, for uh Chris Pratt related reasons? (The dinos weren't bad, either, but, look, sometimes I'm just in the mood to watch a movie because it's got a hot lead actor/actress?)

Book-wise, I finally figured out how to add my Lord Peter Wimsey books on Librarything (they didn't have an obvious ISBN on the cover, and of course it would never do to simply add another edition; that is not how you which is, of course, to say: I Librarything! I resisted the temptation to rate them all four-out-of-five stars, committing myself to a reread at some point. (It may have been ten years since my last one.)

Currently in the early pages of Elizabeth Bear's Carnival, after bouncing off of both Sharon Green's Silver Princess, Golden Knight (which did not live up to my nostalgic memory) and Jacqueline Koyanagi's Ascension (which did not live up to my possibly overly high expectations, and which I might give another try at a later date).

This entry was also posted at Dreamwidth.

regency romances

Slightly awkward: that moment when you get thrown out of a regency romance because the hero just addressed the heroine as 'baby' - right before you remember that you're reading a Georgette Heyer romance, meaning it's presumably less an anachronism and more just a slightly peculiar petname.

... well, less awkward than a host of other things, probably, but I was slightly amused at myself for a moment.

I picked up Royal Escape from the library about ten years ago, I think, but didn't much care for it. A few weeks ago though, I spotted a copy of These Old Shades, bought it, and found it rather fun.
Ack. Dropped off the map a bit longer than intended.

Re(re)ading K.J. Parker's Fencer trilogy, which is still as messed up as I remember it, but also kind of fun (in a messed up way) so no complaints here.

It's still their most accessible work, I think, without the 'want to build a house from scratch? here's how!' of the Scavenger trilogy or the mechanically intensive 'guide to siege engines' of the Engineer trilogy. Plus, there's a whole cast of characters who are all, if not always sympathetic, then at least understandable and/or motivated in their actions. True, 'well, basically I just want to get on with my life' may not seem like the best reason to burn down a city, but it makes sense in context?

And then there's the magic system, which may or may not exist, but which, if it exists, probably doesn't work. (Their other books are firmly magic-less, which er, takes some of the magic out of them?) There's just something refreshing about wizards who are convinced there's no such thing as magic, except that there kind of is, except that the ability to turn people into frogs is a side-effect, not a goal - or would be, if it existed.


DVD-wise: Read more...Collapse )
[Emissaries of the Dead - Adam-Troy Castro] (2008)
A murder investigation on an artificially created space station habitat.

I'm sorry, but with a title like this, I feel comparisons to O.S. Card's Speaker for the Dead are nearly inevitable. Here, too, an outsider slowly digs into a pretty close-knit and closed-off society, and here, too, the aliens are uh aliens.

Andrea being a notorious war criminal doesn't help. Andrea being cynical, jaded, 'just here to do my job' and pretty badass when not angsting does help.

Not recommended if you're looking for rainbows and unicorns, but if you don't read a lot of SF, and are in the mood for a whodunnit IN SPACE (well, kinda), this might be a good one.

Read for: angsty first pov whodunnit in space, alien aliens, alien AI
Don't read for: comedy (absent), hope (negligible), the idea that most humans are decent at heart (they aren't)


[Rouse a Sleeping Cat - Dan Crawford] (1993)
A murder investigation in a castle full of suspects, villains and just plain awful people.

If Game of Thrones had been a black comedy and also included more murder, more sex, a child king who was actually likeable and a PG-13 rating, you might have gotten something like this, maybe? Or not.

The thing is, I loved this book. People may be awful, but they're very cheerful while also being sociopathic, homicidal and immoral, with the exception of a few sour grapes and, of course, our main character who needs to solve this one specific murder for Reasons. (She's less sociopathic, more homicidal, mostly because this is not a world where you survive by being, well, nice.)

Read for: people being awful, people being sneaky, gray and grey morality, a sort-of cute boy king who does his best and the (female) bodyguard who's the biggest badass in the castle
Don't read for: angst (absent), kind gestures (rare), romance (absurd notion)


[The Wild Hunt: Vengeance Moon - Jocelin Foxe] (1998)
A murder plot in a country full of nobles, commoners and other people.

Yup - this time, the guys doing the murdering are 'the good guys'. Kind of. They're actually a group of people who've been cursed by their loved ones and now doomed to aid those in need as members of 'the Wild Hunt' until such time as they can be redeemed by - well, that's up for debate.

I liked this one, but I didn't quite love it. (I suspect that I would have loved this as an anime or manga, because, well, thirteen guys with angsty pasts and redemptions arcs and a compulsion to help the one who summoned them? I think that I could shallowly be into that. A lot.)

Read for: small-scale politics, justified homicide, action-consequence connections, making murder plans that consist of more than 'walk, stab'
Don't read for: closure (only some characters('s pasts) get really fleshed out; others need to wait for the sequel), light-hearted romance (har, har)

*

I also finished Ready Player One (Ernest Cline) recently and was a bit disappointed at the lack of minor spoiler alertCollapse )

This entry was also posted at Dreamwidth.

this was inevitable, I guess

This afternoon, I finally gave in to temptation and rushed through C.S. Pacat's Kings Rising in about two hours. I regret nothing, apart from the bit where I'll never again be able to read it for the first time.

Semi-relatedly: I snagged Rachel Aaron's Spirit's End and Jacqueline Koyanagi's Ascension from the bargain bin at the local bookstore for about five bucks each, then felt vaguely guilty as I paid for them because, well, I kind of maybe would have bought them at full price at some point. I just don't usually pass that bookstore at a time when it's open.

Movie-wise, I've rediscovered the brightly colored visual treat of Speed Racer, the 2008 movie with ninjas, stunt racing and a monkey. I also picked up a comics (?) version of it some while back, but the character that's named 'Speed' in the movie is called 'Greg' in the comics, which - okay, sure, considerably more plausible as a first name, but the disconnect is still a bit odd.

movies!

While I had assumed last weekend to be a writing weekend, instead, it apparently was a movie watching weekend.

I uh honestly can't remember the last time I watched a movie on TV, so this activity mostly boilt down to: retrieve a stack of (unsorted) DVDs, insert DVD in player, wonder why you paid money for this.

Or, you know, be pleasantly surprised at this movie you haven't watched for 5+ years actually being sort of fun, or even great.

In the spirit of positivity, I'll talk about three of the movies that I loved:

cut for length - Dodgeball, Crimson Tide and xXx (no spoilers)Collapse )

This entry was also posted at Dreamwidth.

first weeks of the year in three parts

It was a very Crusade Yuletide - I think all three people who requested Crusade received fic for it. Until reveals, I was convinced mine was written by alexcat which turned out not to be the case.

(I received a lovely Galen & Gideon piece. <3)

*

Books! Specifically: rereads, as one of my New Year's Resolutions is to do more rereading and less uh reading?

- The Summer Witch, Louise Cooper (fantasy)
Plot in a nutshell: Young woman in agricultural society gets married to elderly husband and creates a fantasy love who teaches her magic.
Verdict: I appreciated that the husband was a nice guy, not interested in sex. He marries the protagonist for her company, which the protagonist finds a relief at first but then slowly grows to resent. I found myself having some mixed feelings about this bit, because on one hand, there's obviously nothing wrong with people wanting sex, but on the other hand, the way Carys's desires were expressed (and ended up ruining her life) felt a little uncomfortable to me. Possibly, that was on purpose, but then, the morale of the story is ... don't want sex? Don't want magic? Erk. Still a keeper, because I do tend to like this author, and for the better part, I did like this book.

- Our Lady of the Snow, Louise Cooper (fantasy)
Plot in a nutshell: Young woman in training as a religious sister gets married to mentally disabled prince and slowly discovers her deity may be dead.
Verdict: Dropped after the second rape in about ten pages. Erk. I don't remember these books/this author as, well, having this kind of stuff. (It doesn't help that one of the two rapists ends up forgiven by his wife/victim, and I just - no. There may have been some interesting thing here about religion and feminism, but I'm not sure if the story went there, and I didn't enjoy the book enough to find out. Dropped.

- Burning Bright, Melissa Scott (SF)
Plot in a nutshell: Political intrigues during three days of Carnival on a planet resembling Venice. Also: aliens and RPGs.
Verdict: I dreaded this reread, because on the first read (ten plus years ago), this book blew me away. An RPG that all the cool people played! Political intrigue! Aliens! People being completely casual about same-sex sex and relationships! It pushed so many of my buttons. Annnd, it still does. Not quite as many, perhaps, but I still loved this, which was more than I'd hoped for.

- Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, Jonathan L. Howard (fantasy)
Plot in a nutshell: Snarky, ill-tempered young necromancer makes a bet with the devil to win back his soul. This cannot end well.
Verdict: Cheating a little; I recently got the fourth book in this series, which seemed a good excuse to reread this one. It's probably been less than two or three years, though. Still fun, in that way some books about bad people doing bad things can be. It helps that most of his victims are not that nice, either, to put it mildly. Johannes is never actually sympathetic, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy seeing him take on abusive boyfriends, overbearing bureaucrats and, of course, the devil. The backcover blurb is kind of horrible, and if the humor isn't your cup of tea, this book will fall very, very flat. (A keeper for me, is what I'm saying, and recommended, but with the small caveat re: humor.)

*

Started on a rewatch of Boston Legal, of which it turns out I only own the first and third season. Hm.

Denny Crane.

This entry was also posted at Dreamwidth.
Is it yuletide yet?

Ahem. I read Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown, which its cover promised me I would enjoy if I liked Susanna Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) and Georgette Heyer (she of many titles).

I loved it with squeeful love, which surprised me a little - not in the least because the male protagonist is rather sincere and serious and polite and just, well, decent. Most of the stuff I read or watch and enjoy has protagonists that are a bit more hm roguish?

Not sure if comparing it to JS&MR is really doing it a favor, though. There's an overlap in themes (British magic in danger! studious gentlemen dealing with Faerie!) and yet they didn't really feel alike. That might just be me, though.

I watched Sucker Punch (my mistake! erk), ventured into the first episode of The Bletchley Circle only to decide it wasn't quite the thing to cleanse my palate, and ended up watching The Great Mouse Detective instead, which was all kinds of delightful, even if I'm not sure what censor would label this movie G. (People get eaten! People visit a nightclub with a sexy stripper-ish lady! People get very nearly crushed to death and beheaded! People are adorable mice wearing adorable clothes! Maybe that's why?)

And, to come back where I started, I 'shook my Yuletide gift' and am now in happy anticipation of reading my gift. Not in the least because two other fics were posted in the same fandom. Yesss!

Is it still not yuletide yet?

This entry was also posted at Dreamwidth.
Just finished the Westmark trilogy, written by Lloyd Alexander, whom some of you may know as the author of the Chronicles of Prydain (with Taran and Eilonwy and a prophesying pig?) or possibly as the author of, well, the Westmark trilogy. I think that one's a little more obscure, though?

I was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Unlike the Prydain books, Westmark has no magic and no talking pigs - although it does have a princess and a printer's 'devil', who fairly quickly turns to a far more exciting career as a wanted fugitive.

Things get pretty grim on several occasions (the main character looks at his hands at one point and realizes that dark brown stuff caked under them is blood). Never too explicitly so, given that this is, after all, intended for young adults (which I admit I hadn't quite realized was a thing already in 1981) but it turns out you can imply a whole lot of terrible, gruesome and/or just plain sad things if you choose your words and images well.

By way of a blast from the (slightly more recent) past, I also picked up the first season of Sports Night, which is fun and also probably a terrible influence on my idea of what conversations go like.

This entry was also posted at Dreamwidth.