meganbmoore: (too many books)
fave books of the year-[personal profile] chaila 

Hmmm…I didn’t read a whole lot in 2016 (for me) and the bulk of what I did read was light mystery series, which is comfort reading for me. Amanda Carmack’s Elizabethan Mysteries (about a musician in Elizabeth I’s court) and Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mysteries (about a late 19th century midwife and an Irish cop who’s less corrupt than the norm) continued to rank high for me, and Maia Chance’s Victorian fairy tale themed mysteries about an actress actress/semi-conartist were also pretty good, and I read the first 3 books in Sarah Zettel’s YA series about a female spy in the court of George I. The latest of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books was a big hit for me, but like Carmack and Thompson, it was a continuation of something I was already into. Jessica Estevao’s Whispers Beyond the Veil (historical mystery about a female conartist who is a real psychic but fake medium working in her long lot aunt’s hotel for believers in the supernatural) and Cheryl Honigford’s (30s radio actress is possibly the target of a serial killer, teams up with a private eye) are both promising starts to new historical mysteries/romance series a little above some other first books in series that I read, but neither was quite “favorite” status. So I guess there were plenty of books that I liked in 2016, but nothing that really stands out strongly from the rest without it being a continuation of a series I already liked. The same is largely true of the manga, with the exception of Ancient Magus Bride, which I covered a bit in an earlier entry for the meme.
meganbmoore: (too many books)
I want to say I'll be better at doing this more regularly this year, but realistically, probably not.

What are you currently reading

Chronicles of the Grim Peddler by Lee Jeong-A. A fairy tale manhwa about a peddler ( and his shapechanging cat) who goes around setting up fairy tales. It's one of those series that thinks Disney really, really got it wrong when they started adapting fairy tales, and makes up for it by going as far in the other direction as it can, though sometimes they end up nicer and cuter while things are getting even more messed up. I mean, it doesn't reach the "OMG WHAT" levels of that one Kaori Yuki series, but I can't fault it for trying. I'm not invested because I'm only mildly interested in the peddler and a little more so in his cat, but am not attached to either, and there aren't any other regular characters. I like it, though.


What did you recently finish reading?

Maia Chance: Snow White Red-Handed & Cinderella Six Feet Under. The first two books in a fairy tale-themed mystery series. Ophelia and Prue are Victorian-era actresses who con their way (well, Ophelia does most of the conning) into become servants to a rich family when out of work and unable to pay their boat fare. It turns out that the family is a set of rather unpleasant fairy tale fanatics who think they've found Snow White's cottage, and hopefully a gold mine to go with it. Both book feature Prue getting targetted by the fairy tale fanatics because of her fairy tale princess looks, and Ophelia running around (with her obligatory rich English love interest) trying to solve murder and rescue Prue from whatever mess she's in at the time, while Prue just tries really really hard not to end up dead or in jail. It's certainly a little bit different for the "cozy mystery" genre, and I look forward to the next book in the series.

Mark Waid & Terry Dodson: Princess Leia 1-5. This miniseries takes place literally as A New Hope ends, and focuses primarily on Leia dealing with losing Alderaan (something the movie itself spent one whole shout on), and her trying to save the remaining citizens of Alderaan who are scattered on other planets when Palpatine issues an extermination order, accompanied by Evaan, another woman from Alderaan who joined the Rebellion. I do feel that Waid touched on the idea of soceity expecting women to display certain emotions and only cope with grief a certain way, and then judge them when they don't, but he largely limited it to people labelling her an ice princess for not being visibly sad enough, instead of running with the theme. Like the other tie in books I've read the last few months dealing with the OT (specifically Moving Target and Shattered Empire) a lot of this seems to be rightly thinking that Leia really needed more women to interact with, and so it has her almost exclusively interact with other women. This probably displaced Shattered Empire as my favorite of the recent tie ins, but I do have plenty left to go.


Victoria Thompson: Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue. Book-whatever in Thompson's long running mystery series set in later 19th century New York. This book is best summed up as The Sidekicks Show, as the main characters are away. Maeve, teenaged nursemaid to Sarah Brandt's daughter and former conartist, decides to help a woman whose daughter may have been falsely accused of murdering her husband. Along the way she recruits Frank's sidekick/her own semi-love interest, Gino, and Sarah's parents to help, and decides that Frank is opening a detective agency when he gets back. At one point, Sarah's extremely proper and very busy businessman father ends up volunteering to play bodyguard for the teenaged nursemaid, and doesn't seem entirely certain how that happened. I mostly really loved this book. "Mostly" because sometimes hompson tends to have issues with making beautiful women who aren't Sarah or her mother be manipulative and unpleasant. It doesn't happen in all or even the majority of the books (I think this is the 4th time that it's been a plot point in almost 20 books), but has happened often enough that I sigh when the books start talking about another woman's incredibly beauty.



Nakamura Yoshiki: Skip Beat Vol 31-35


spoilers )

GoHands and GoRa: K: Countdown Chapters 1-8. A bunch of one shots about the K character set between Missing Kings and Return of Kings. I enjoyed the chapters about the various characters getting used to their current lives a lot more than the ones directly building up to Return of Kings.

Clamp: Gate 7 Vol 1-4. A very, very Clamp series about a slightly highstrung boy who is somehow SPECIAL running into warriors who are reincarnations of historical figures involved in the Battle of Sekigahara. No one has a jaw-droppingly angsty and dramatic past yet and no one has lost an eye, but the most Clamp aspect of the series is that it was put on indefitie hiatus just as things were really kicking into high gear. It's fun if you like Clamp (I do) but doesn't have a lot going on that sets it apart from other Clamp series. The most mindbendy thing it has going for it is that it has a charcter named Sakura who is a very tall and strapping and apparently promiscuous young man. Clamp has a lot of characters named Sakura, but all the others are sweet girls with short brown hair who satisfy Clamp's cosplay needs. It was quite jarring.

Django Wexler: The Forbidden Library & The Mad Apprentice. The First two books about a girl named Alice who goes to live with a relative after her father's death, only to learn that the relative-and now, she-is a magician. Which is a fairly standard setup, but in this case, the magicians have labyrinthine libraries, and go into books to make the monsters in them their familiars. There are also talking cats that are both petulant and snarky, and Alice have a Revenge Quest going over her father's death. Not the most amazing thing ever, but fun.



What do you think you'll read next?


The rest of Chronicles of the Grim Peddler and Homefires by Julie Summers. I'm also waiting for the library to get more Star Wars comics in for me.
meganbmoore: (too many books)
For the last few months, this series has taken up most of my reading time.

Set in late 19th century New York, Sarah Brandt was born to to a Dutch "old money" family, rebelled against her parents and married a poor doctor, and is now a widow who works as a midwife. While checking on one of her patients, she gets caught up in a murder investigation and meets Frank Malloy, a less-corrupt-than-average police officer, woh really doesn't appreciate interference from anyone. Through the course of her interfering, Sarah speaks to her mother for the first time in years, deciding that solving a murder is worth rebuilding bridges.

Sarah and Malloy's relationship starts rock bottom and progresses to the inevitable romance slowly, with a number of books stuck in "I actually really, really dislike to always getting involved, but somehow, people find you less scary than me..." and "You are mean and annoying but I strangely like solving crimes. Also, it gives me an excuse to hangout with my mother." A couple nice highlights are that while Malloy redeems himself because of Sarah, it's not actually at her prompting, and is 100% without any expectation of acknowledgement or the idea that she should reward him for achieving decent person-ness, and that her response to "I loved you from the day we met" was "I didn't like you then or for along time. you were MEAN."

And then I get depressed that the state of romantic tropes is so rock bottom that men not expecting romantic/sexual rewards for not being awful people and women not loving guys for being jerks is worth noting.

But, I mean, in context, it's done very well and the depressing state of romantic tropes is separate from the actual series.

The series starts in 1895 and the first 10 or so books deal with Roosevelt's turn as police commissioner (Roosevelt and Sarah knowing each other growing up is also a device used to get her involved in some cases) and his reforms in the police department. The reforms provide a fair bit of dramatic impetus in early books, until history dictates that Roosevelt moves along. There's a lot of triggering stuff in the books, primarily child abuse, rape (to the best of my recollection, this is only in the cases. I don't remember any of the major female characters having been threatened with rape.), and pedophilia, but it isn't treated as easy drama or "that's just the way things were," but as abuses of power. A lot of the case are inspired by real events that Thompson found records of. Classism and institutionalizes privilege and oppression are also a major theme, with most plots focusing either on the murders of lower classes that no one official cares about, or trying to investigate murders among the classes you aren't allowed to touch. There's also a lot of racism, though in the context of racism in 1890s America, not 2015 America. We'd consider most of it to be xenophobia today. The prejudice is primarily directed towards white immigrant groups, and I think the only books to feature a non-white group the latest book, Murder on Amsterdam Avenue, which seems to indulge in a bit of "Old South" and "not all slaveowners were awful" nostalgia at first, but pretty thoroughly rejects that idea by the end, and Murder in Chinatown. I did read 16 books over a period of several months, though, and some plots have blended together in my head. And, I mean, a lot of the groups represented are groups that people tend to ignore were there and on the receiving end of prejudice at the time, but the almost-all-white 1890s New York can be a bit off putting at times.

Aside from Sarah and Malloy, the principal character include:

Mrs. Ellsworth: Sarah's very very nosy neighbor who has an omen for every little thing, is frequently very useful, and possibly has a custom made Sarah/Malloy shipper badge.

Mrs. Malloy: Frank Malloy's mother, who is considerably less personable than Mrs. Ellsworth (but I'm 99.9% certain they'll be BFF in a few more books) and very not open to the idea of Malloy finding a new wife. also prone to giving good advice.

Brian Malloy: Malloy's young son. Born with a clubbed foot and initially believed to be mentally handicapped, but soon revealed to actually be deaf. Thompson put a lot of research into beliefs about deafness and the schooling of deaf children for the time period, and it shows.

Felix Decker: Sarah's EXTREMELY estranged (at first) father who has a lot of money and influence and few problems with using them, but mostly in moral ways, at least in the current timeline. (In the backstory, he was considerably less moral about this, with catastrophic consequences.)

Elisabeth Decker: Sarah's much-less-estranged mother, who initially seems a bit too passive and obedient, but soon gets really, really, REALLY into helping out with cases. She also seems to regard the apparent passivity and obedience as a form of passive aggressive warfare that women of her class engage in.

Later on, we also have:

Catherine: Sarah's 4-year-old ward, who has a surprisingly traumatic and angsty past for a pre-schooler.

Maeve: Officially Catherine's nursemaid, actually detecting sidekick. A teenaged ex-grifter who possibly intends to become a Pinkerton agent in a few years and successfully cons and manipulates her way into being involved with various cases.

Gino Donatelli: A very young Italian police officer who hasn't been on the force long enough to become more than a tiny bit corrupt. He is VERY happy to be Malloy's sidekick, thinks Sarah hung the moon, and has an ill-disguised crush on Maeve that he has no intention of doing anything about any time soon, possibly out of fear that Malloy would very literally kill him if he did.

The books, in order, are:

Murder on Astor Place
Murder in St. Mark's Place
Murder on Gramercy Park
Murder on Washington Square
Murder on Mulberry Bend
Murder on Marble Row
Murder on Lennox Hill
Murder in Little Italy
Murder in Chinatown
Murder on Bank Street
Murder on Waverley Place
Murder on Lexington Avenue
Murder on Sister's Row
Murder on Fifth Avenue
Murder in Murray Hill
Murder on Amsterdam Avenue

stuffs

May. 8th, 2015 06:31 pm
meganbmoore: (hwajung: jungmyung plotting while ja kyu)
1A. Secrets and Lies ended. Well, the season did, at least. I had thought it was a miniseries going in, and seem to recall it being promoted as such. Pretty much, I didn't realize it was possible to feel that betrayed and let down by a show you found faily all over the place anyway, and didn't actually like.

1B. It was renewed, and I'll probably end up at least trying out season 2 in the hopes that the one element of the finale that I liked gets followed up on.

1C. Agent Carter and Galavant were also renewed, and I'm pretty sure they were also originally promoted as miniseries? At least I mostly liked both of them, though, and can hope the second seasons will be better about the things I didn't

2. Madam Secretary's first season also ended, and was a much better ending. I've seen some people call it anticlimactic, but I don't think it really was. I think we're just conditioned to expect cliffhangers, and for parts of the BIg Mystery to carry over into the second season, not leave things resolved, especially when another season is already a done thing. Fandom seems to have skipped over this one for the most part, which makes me sad, but at least it apparently has decent enough ratings.

3. Hwajung is probably my favorite thing I'm watching right now. For those who don't like to start sageuks until the leads have grown up, they grow up at the end of episode 7. I am pleased to report that the crossdressing exiled princess heroine who wants revenge is also a conartist who braves volcanoes and Edo era checkpoints (hey, those things were scary!) I can see some of the things I liked best about Queen Seon Deok as influence here (well, the 51 episodes of QSD that I acknowledge exist), particularly in regards to character dynamics and how Jungmyung thinks and plots, but not to a really obvious degree. I made a few picspams for tumblr for it.  Two general ones for the first episode, and one for episode 8 that's more character specific.
cut for spoilers and caps )
4. Interesting article about the influence of Nancy Drew.


5. I took a break from Murder She Wrote because the narrative POV of Jessica's writing and adventuring in it really, really irked me, but I'm watching season 6 now. An interesting thing about watching older shows is that they're prone to reusing the same guest actors in multiple roles. Today, with DVDs and streaming services being the norm, it's really noticeable. But 20+ years ago, the episodes wouldn't be spaced far enough apart that you wouldn't immediately go 'this producer was the lady in prison back in X episode of season 1, and this guy was the cheating husband in Y episode, the hapless cop in Z episode, and the evil brother in T episode."

Also, people's hair looks they they could have conceivably done it themselves. I mean, you know wardrobe got their hands on them, but it LOOKS like they could have done it themselves, as opposed to completely broke people's "disheveled" look making them look like they just spent 3 hours at the salon.

6. While they don't have much in common besides being historical mysteries with a civilian female lead solving crime with a police officer who initially doesn't care for their butting in, I think fans of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries might like Victoria Thompson's Gaslight Mysteries.

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