meganbmoore: (too many books)
What did you recently finish reading?

I didn't make any notes about books as I finished them like I usually do, and some of these were read over a month ago, so my memory is hazy in some cases. I probably also forgot a few. All cozy mysteries and comics here.

Vicki Delany's Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen and Peg Cochran's Berried Secrets, which I am combining because I pretty much have the exact same thing to say about them. They're both the first books in mystery series (one set in a town that's Christmas themed all year round, the other is set on a cranberry farm) are were enjoyable but not overly memorable. I'll read future books in both series, but don't know what I'll remember from one book to the next.

Jenn McKinlay's at the Drop of a Hat and Copy Cap Murder, the 2nd and 3rd books in a more memorable series about two cousin who own and run a millinery shop, which may or may not be haunted by their grandmother's ghost. There's nothing about the mysteries themselves that stand out, but the characters are much more lively and memorable.

Amanda Carmack's Murder at Westminster Abbey, Murder in the Queen's Garden and Murder at Whitehall, the 3rd-4th books in an Elizabethan series about one of Elizabeth's musicians, Kate. I liked but did not love the first book, set in the last months of Mary Tudor's reign, but I got really into the series once it moved to court. The mysteries are heavily influenced by the politics and conspiracies of the time, but told primarily through the women at court and, sometimes, the lower and middle classes, with the men primarily serving as Kate's sidekicks. (This approach has made me not hate Robert Dudley in this series, a first for fictional depictions of him.) There is also a heavy focus on the Boleyn's and Elizabeth as a Boleyn, which is a nice change as I feel most Elizabethan fiction tends to treat it like the Boleyn's faded into the relative background after Anne Boleyn's death, or glossed over the fact that they're important because they're her mother's relatives. There's also a central love triangle in which I actually like both of Kate's suitors, which is unusual for me.

Greg weisman & Pepe Larraz's Kanan: the Last Padawan Vol 1, which is about Kanan from Star Wars Rebels and how he survived Order 66 and, well, became Kanan. It's a good look at things immediately after the prequel trilogy, and pretty much confirms my theories about how most clones dealt with Order 66. (They aren't happy theories.)

Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca's Darth Vader Vol 1-2, which is setting between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and has overlapping plot points with the current Star Wars comic. I've never particularly cared about Darth Vader outside of "good villain" and his metanarrative role re: Luke and Leia, and only like Anakin even a bit in The Clone Wars, but I really enjoyed these two volumes. I find Vader's evil replica of the OT heroes interesting, and it does a good job of developing Vader's reasons for his later actions.

The first 10 chapter's of minidura! by Narita Ryohgo, which is a gag series about chibi versions of various Durarara!! characters having adventures. I'm not sure exactly when in the timeline it's supposed to be set, but there aren't any spoilers after the first half of season 1. Pretty cute and funny.

What do you think you'll read next?

Manga, and whatever holds the library gets in for me.
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: (a royal affair: reading)
I picked this up on a whim at the library, not entirely certain what to expect from it. The main character, Charlotte, is a Vicar's daughter who was a nurse in the Great War, educated at Oxford (though not allowed a degree, because 1910s), and now works at a constituency, where she also worked before the war. Between Oxford and her first turn as an assistant at the constituency, she was also a governess, and kinda-sorta-maybe fell in love with her pupil's entirely class inappropriate brother, Edward.

Reading it, I almost felt like I was reading two books.

The first book was about a woman determined to help people whose lives had been ruined by the war, who meets a reformer newsman who has her write for his paper so that she can speak out for marginalized people and the injustices the poor and women faced during and after wartime.

The second book was a romance about a woman who helps a man she was in love with recover physically and emotionally from the war. You'd think they'd go together easily, and they should, but for one thing. As a part of Edward's recover, he and Charlotte move into an isolated cottage where he can be almost completely free of civilization and recover in peace. Edward's family is in a position to have an isolated cottage with people who can drop by just often enough to provide for his and Charlotte's basic needs, and to pay all of Charlotte's wages and help ensure that her job is still waiting for her when she gets back.

The narrator and main character of the first book would be understanding and nonjudgemental, but also extremely aware of just how many social and economic privileges were involved in Edward's treatment, and aware that there were hundreds of men with Edward's problems who couldn't get the care he had had, who didn't have the resources to arrange to have a family friend as a private nurse AND secure her future employment, who don't have access to isolated cottages and who have to work to support their families and live with 5 other people in a two room apartment.

I mean, I'm all for the PTSD and undiagnosed injuries and reconnecting with an old quasi-flame, but where was the social justice oriented reformer from the main book?

I mean, it was good, and is apparently a sequel to a book about Edward's sister/Charlotte's former pupil, and I'm going to read that too, I just felt like two books were merged into one and didn't make an important connection.
meganbmoore: (emma: turning brains since 1816)
A rather fluffy murder mystery set in the 30s. Several years pre-book, Amory Ames dumped her nice, stable, somewhat dull fiance, Gill, for Milo, a charming playboy who stayed reformed just long enough to get bored with marriage, leaving Amory to twiddle her fingers on his estate while he has affairs in every country he can think of.

During one of Milo's brief visits home, Gil shows up at their door and would like to know if Amory would please come to Brightwell, a coastal resort, and convince his sister to please not marry a very Milo-like playboy (which I don't think we were meant to read as rubbing an apparently terrible life choice in Amory's face, but I couldn't help reading it that way to a degree). Oh, and also, could she pretend to be his lover? For Plot Reasons. Amory agrees because it's Milo-free and she does like Gil's sister after all, and who knows, maybe fake affairs can be like fake dating and turn real in the last two scenes.

At the resort, Amory barely has time to acquaint herself with an Agatha Christie-esque collection of guests before the playboy fiance ends up dead, with Gil as the prime suspect. Them Milo shows up, apparently having decided that maybe he isn't really ok with Amory having as much extra-marital fun as he has. Possibly, someone gave him a speech about Geese and Ganders.

Between a somewhat dull murder suspect with possible Nice Guy tendencies and a more entertaining philanderer who could have STDS for all Amory or I know, I can't say I think much of Amory's romantic options, but I did have a lot of fun reading the book, and look forward to the sequel.
meganbmoore: (miss fisher: phryne and dot manwatching)
1. OMG Jane the Virgin and the fantasy sequences.

spoilers )

2. iZombie continues to be great. I'm glad Liv's mom is getting fleshed out more and will take this week's commentary about solving the murder of one white person being treated as more important than finding dozens of missing teenagers, the majority of whom are PoC and/or poor, as an apology for the terrible racism of the Asian gangsters episode.

spoilers )

3. About 4 1/4 minutes into this, there's footage from season 3 of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries:

4. Vaguely related to the above How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries by Kathy Lynn Emerson, while meant for aspiring writers thinking about writing historical mysteries, is a pretty entertaining read with lots of information about writing historical fiction in general, and some great observations on how to craft characters in historical mysteries to make them able to go around everywhere investigating. Also, while there's no overt feminist approach to the book, it was nice to read a piece about writing in general that never seems to consider the possibility of addressing writing historical fiction and people's roles in history by sidelining women.

5. Speaking of historical fiction. some people have been reading and saying good things about Allison Weir and Phillippa Gregory. Should I give them a try? (It...should be noted that, while I never saw the Hollywood version of The Other Boleyn Girl, I saw the BBC version and didn't care for it at all.)
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
What are you currently reading

A Wonderlandiful World, the new Ever After High book, though I haven't read enough of it to know much more than that it's about the Wonderland characters. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun which I don't find quite as delightful as the anime based on it (which I really should post on) but still really like.

What did you recently finish reading?

Death at Wentwater Court and The Winter Garden Mystery by Carola Dunn. First two books in a long running series about an upper class young woman in 1920s England who works as a writer for "Town and Country" rather than be reliant on her brother and his family for money. There's nothing wrong with them (well, there are some classist comments that are accurate for the period, though I'm not sure about the narrative's stance on it) but they didn't grab me the way I expected. There are well over a dozen (maybe even over 20?) books in the series, and I'm sure I'll read more eventually, but I'm not in a rush to right now. 

Murder at Hatfield House by Amanda Carmack. Mystery set in the final months of Elizabeth Tudor's imprisonment at Hatfield House. The main character, Kate, is the daughter of Elizabeth's musician who is sometimes employed by Elizabeth for light spying on the residents and visitors. The plot revolves around an investigator of Mary's being attacked in route to Hatfield House, and believing that someone in Elizabeth's household is responsible. It's a solid book, though Elizabeth is portrayed as too good and virtuous for my taste. I mean, not that she was portrayed as saintly, but she's almost Totally Innocent of Scheming (Probably), and doesn't have enough rough edges. Though I'll certainly take this over the Jealous Harpy portrayals. The author's bio states that Carmack has written romance novels under another pseudonym, though it doesn't say what it was. This is pretty obvious at times, though not in a bad way. There's just a way that clothing and setting tends to be described in historical romances that you don't see a lot of outside the genre, and it stands out when you encounter it elsewhere.

Mind Over Murder and A Sinister Sense by Allison Kingsley. First two books in a series about a pair of cousins who run an occult bookstore, and whose family has a history of psychic powers. Stephanie, the owner, has a husband and three kids, loves sticking her nose in mysteries, and is very, very envious that her cousin got the family psychic powers, and she didn't. Clara is the cousin who did inherit the psychic powers, really really wishes she hadn't, is a bit more cautious about sticking her nose in things, and recently returned home after A Bad Romantic Experience. I enjoyed them, but not as much as I'd expected to.

Mayhem at the Orient Express, A Tale of Two Biddies and The Legend of Sleepy Harlow by Kylie Logan. My favorite of the mysteries I've read recently, and not because the series is titled THE LEAGUE OF LITERARY LADIES. Bea (local B&B owner with a secret past identity and Dark Secrets), Chandra (local hippy and psychic with a lot of ex-husbands, one of whom gets regular booty calls) and Kate (very by-the-books owner of the local winery. She and Chandra are Enemies, and totally not Secretly Best Friends Forever And Ever.) keep going before the local judge for a variety of property squabbles. Eventually, he gets fed up and sentences them to form a book club so that they'll be forced to talk to each other about other things. Unfortunately, said other things are sometimes all the dead bodies that somehow tend to pile up in these small towns. The first book is modeled after Murder at the Orient Express, and involves the owner of the local Chinese fast food place dying right before everyone in town ends up stranded at Bea's B&B just as a snowstorm hits. These are my favorites of the mysteries I've been reading lately.

I haven't done a whole lot of reading (for me) the last month or so, but I think I posted separately on anything else I read since I last did this.

What do you think you'll read next?

The rest of what i'm reading now. I have romance novels, some mysteries, and some One Piece checked out from the library.
meganbmoore: (Default)
What are you currently reading

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

What did you recently finish reading?

The Foundling, and Other Tales of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Several short stories set in the world of the Chronicles of Prydain, but before the main series. Mostly backstories about characters in the series and stories that were told during it, all pretty enjoyable. My favorite was the story about Eilonwy's mother.

The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal. The fourth Maggie Hope mystery, and one with a title which only relates to about the last 50 or so pages of the book. Centered around the days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, this one was a bit odd. MacNeal's audience is primarily American, as far as I know, so Pearl Harbor takes a fair bit of narrative priority in this one. The mystery that Maggie is involved in is almost perfunctory (I would have rather spent the time dealing with her PTSD after the previous book, and her Baby Spies seeing her as a demonic taskmaster) and most of the rest is setting things up for future installments, which look to be changing things up some. Not a bad or disappointing book, but a bit different from what I was expecting.

X-Men: Battle of the Atom. It's been long enough since I read a superhero crossover event that I had forgotten how inconsistent characterization and costuming can be with them. Errr...I was mostly confused by this. If I were caught up with X-stuff in general, I think I would have been into it, but as it is, I was mostly left with irritation at "Jubilee will grow up to be just like Woverine! But angrier and shriekier and irrational. I mean, she is a girl."

X-Men: Muertas by Brian Wood and Terry Dodson. I followed this one more easily than I did Primer and Battle of the Atom, mostly because most of the events were directly related to events in those two volumes, though I have no idea where Rogue went off too. I'm glad there was a mini Gen-X reunion this quickly into my dipping my toes back into superhero comics after years away, but wish there had been more Jubilee/Monet interaction.

Toradora vol 1-4 by Yuyuko Takemiya. Romantic comedy light novel series about a boy who looks like a scary gangster but is actually a sweet and harmless pacifist addicted to cleaning, and a tiny cute girl who's actually extremely rude and violent. They have crushes on the other's respective best friend, and join forces to help the other out. What I've read is entertaining and usually cute, but I don't see myself reading another 6 books about it, especially since it's starting to veer into fanservice territory and having an increasing "cute and helpless" aspect to the heroine ,despite her forceful personality. I do think I'll watch the anime, though.

Coffin Hill Vol 1 by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda. Eve Coffin is a police officer who returns to her hometown after being shot and leaving the force. The catch is that Eve comes from a long line of dark witches, and a monster she let loose as a teenager is back and abducting teenagers in the woods. I thought it was a minseries when I picked it up an the library, but it's an ongiong series. It's a bit bloody for my taste, but I like Eve and the mythology, and am interested in seeing what happens next.

Ao Haru Ride/Blue Spring Ride Vo l1-4 by Io Sakisaka. Enjoyable but sometimes frustrating shoujo who meets her junior high crush in high school, only to find him with an entirely different personality. for the most part, it's very enjoyable with lots of friendshipping with Futaba (the heroine) and the other girls who join her in the student council. The romance is...also enjoyable, but also irritating. A lot of it is sustained by "something is about to happen, but isn't yet" and Futaba's love interest, Kou, is prone to "standoffish shoujo jerk moments. He's far from the worst about that, but a bit of a disappointment after Ren from Strobe Edge, who was really refreshing in that regard, and there's at least one time when his treatment of Futaba made me angry. I've heard some things about future volumes that make me leery, but I've enjoyed it so far, so I'm sticking with it. The anime adapts the first 4 volumes of the manga, minus the last chapter of volume 4, and is extremely faithful. The OAD is about Kou and Futaba's quasi-relationship in junior high, but only the last few minutes has anything significant that wasn't covered in flashbacks in the main anime/manga.

Barakamon Vol 1-2 by Satsuki Yoshino. Handa Seishu is a young calligrapher who gets exiled to an island by his father after he punches the curator of an exhibition for saying Seishu's work is boring. On the island, he constantly gets caught up in the goings on of the locals, particularly the local children and teenagers, when he's supposed to be working on making his calligraphy not-boring. And learning how to not punch old men for offering criticism. He very quickly becomes that guy who sits down to work after lunch and goes out to get a toy out of a tree so the local kids will stop yelling, and then suddenly it's getting dark and he didn't notice because the kids kept him that busy. The main local he interacts with is Naru, a 7 year old girl, and one of the children who used Seishu's house as a hangout while it was abandoned. (The youths collectively decide that occupation is no deterrent.) I find it a sad commentary on a lot of anime that there was zero sexualization of of a young girl being overly attached to the much older male protagonist. It's a very entertaining series. The first 5 or so episodes follow the first two volumes of the manga pretty faithfully, though some events are moved around a bit, based on my recollection of early anime episodes, and a few scenes didn't get animated.

And I think that's everything that i haven't posted on separately since I last did this.

What do you think you'll read next?.

The rest of Magic Breaks, probably start reading Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun.
meganbmoore: (emma: turning brains since 1816)

Longbourn is a novel that attempts to cash in on both the popularity of Jane Austen and Downton Abbey, centering the plot around Sarah, a housemaid to the Bennets in Pride and Prejudice. Which! I actually really like the idea of, and I was looking forward to it, despite having seen some grumblings about the protagonist often sounding like a modern person commenting on the lives of late 18th century servants. I mean, I love Austen, but she isn't exactly perfect, and I thought the idea had potential. Unfortunately, the book itself ended up being dull and predictable, and the omgmajorshocking plot twist that overtook a large chunk of the last 3rd of the book was blatantly obvious from the beginning..

no actual spoilers, but they're very easy to guess just from a description of the setup )
The thing is, it rarely really tries to do things with the plot, and is mostly a predictable Regency romance (albeit about servants, instead of gentlemen and ladies) that occasionally checks in with the plot of P&P. sometimes, Sarah makes comments about how Lizzy has "an obliging disposition" and that Jane was being considerate to get sick somewhere else so she wouldn't trouble her own servants. I think those bits were meant to be witty commentary, but they, and others like them, just fell flat. When it does try to do things, it's doing things that other canons have done before, sometimes the exact same thing, and not in an interesting way, much less as well as its predecessors did. If you've watched either version of Upstairs/Downstairs, Gosford Park, or Downton Abbey (any of it, despite the considerable drop in quality after season 1), you've seen everything it has to say about class, only say a lot more and say it better, and it doesn't begin to compare to Wide Sargasso Sea or The Wind Done Gone in terms of addressing the problems of a piece of classic literature. And it probably isn't fair of me to compare it to the latter two but I think it wants to be seen as the same kind of book, so I will. for that matter, for all it's problems, Lost in Austen did a better job of looking at P&P's issues, even though it had a legion of its own problems.

Technically, it isn't a bad book or anything, it just isn't a good or interesting book, either. It's being marketed along the lines of "Downton Abbey for Jane Austen fans" and i suppose if you just want Jane Austen fanfic, it's fine? But I found it to be a huge disappointment. I also don't think that people who aren't fans of Austen would get much out of it, because, well the writer is obviously a fan of the book, and the criticisms are light the few bits that come close to good deconstruction aren't until very late in the book.
meganbmoore: (a royal affair: reading)

What are you currently reading
The House of Hades by Rick Riordan. Not far enough into it to have an opinion.

I'm a few chapters into Rose of Versailles, and it's very different, so far, from the anime, which I knew to expect going in, as the mangaka started it expecting to do a series about Marie Antoinette.

What did you recently finish reading?
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, Dreaming of Paradise by Fuyumi Ono, and all of Venus Capriccio by Nishikata Mai, all of which I posted on separately.

Young Miss Holmes Vol 5-7 by Kaoru Shintani. These volumes are available in the US as a single omnibus inthe US, and complete the series. I understand there's a sequel, but haven't found it anywhere yet. This is the manga about Sherlock Holmes's crime solving niece, and it is great, though I don't have anything to add that I didn't say about it when I read the other volumes earlier this year.

Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki, Vol 1-8: Shounen series set in a pseudo-Victorian world about a boy who falls into an abyss, gets linked to a residence of the abyss named Alice, and pops back out 10 years later, thinking it's only been a few minutes. Alice in Wonderland references are a dime a dozen, but in a fun way. I read a bit of this when it first hit stateside, liked it, but kept not getting back to it. The actual plot, once stripped of the trappings, is fairly typical shounen, but I find it very entertaining and enjoy the characters and am generally a sucker for "Lookit my Lewis Carroll references, aren't the clever in their blatancy?" Also, the main character, Oz, gets spoiled for a major character death in his favorite book series (that he's now 10 years behind on) and pretty much has what's my internal reaction anytime someone blithely lets out major spoilers for something I'm reading/watching. Except that his reaction is very very external.

There is one thing that bugs me though.

spoiler )

What do you think you'll read next?

Pretty sure reading the rest of what i'm on now will keep me occupied for a bit.
meganbmoore: (the bletchley circle: ordinary)
This is a companion novel to Code Name Verity but one that can be read completely independently of its predecessor. It's apparently getting criticism for not being as good as Code Name Verity, but the narrative devices that made that one so popular aren't something a writer should try to do twice, especially in a related book. Rose Under Fire is a very good book on its own merit, though one I have some issues with.

The main character, Rose Justice, is an American pilot working as a courier who is captured and sent to Ravensbruck, a women's concentration camp. Ravensbruck is real and...well, it was a concentration camp. If you aren't familiar with what went on there, please look it up. (Trigger warnings for...everything.) It's very much a concentration camp novel, but also one about women from different walks of life bonding and helping each other. It also addresses the aftermath of concentration camps for the survivors, both in terms of PTSD and what was expected of them after, such as having to recount their experiences in trials.

It's also a concentration camp novel in which there isn't a single Jewish character, and in which the Jewish people are barely mentioned. On the one hand, I find it endlessly frustrating that so much of modern culture and fiction tends to think that (A) the Holocaust is the only thing of note to ever happen to Jews, and (B) the Jews were the only ones who were persecuted and/or sent to concentration camps by the Nazis. But skipping over that altogether isn't exactly an improvement, IMO.

Then there's Rose. My criticism here is not of Rose herself (I like Rose and think she's a very good character!), but of the choice to use Rose. Ravensbruck is a real thing that happened to around 150,000 women, a high percentage of them Polish and Jewish, and only a few thousand of whom survived. To tell their story, we're given a narrator who is an educated, literate American girl who writes poetry and appears to be from a reasonably well off family. There may have been American women in Ravensbruck (I don't know) but theirs isn't the main story of Ravensbruck, and reading it, I couldn't help thinking that as bad as Rose's story was, those of the other women were far worse, and more representative of the real women in Ravensbruck.

It's a very good book and very worth reading, but should also be read with the knowledge that all the trigger warnings ever apply.
meganbmoore: (mummy: evie x books)
What are you currently reading?

Rose Under Fire
by Elizabeth Wein. Sequel/companion to Code Name Verity. I'm about 1/4 of the way through it and withholding commentary or judgement until I've finished it. (Opinion is favorable so far, though.)

The first volume of Venus Capriccio by Nishikata Mai. This is a shoujo series that was licensed by CMX, an imprint that I dearly miss. I haven't read much of it, but what I've read I've enjoyed, and it looks to be subverting some shoujo tropes and is hopefully doing good things with the genderbender aspect. It reminds me a bit of W Juliet.

What did you recently finish reading?

Zombies vs Unicorns
by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (eds.). An anthology of unicorn and zombie stories (alternating, not together) framed as being intended to settle the dispute over whether zombies are unicorns are better. I was very into unicorns when wee, but don't have a strong interest in either on their own as an adult. The individual stories ranged from OK to pretty interesting, but I found Black and Larbalestier's bickering in the introductions to each story to be the most entertaining part.

I read a bit of the Blue Exorcist manga because the library had it, but was bored.

What do you think you'll read next?

More Venus Capriccio and Rose Under Fire, then probably Rose of Versailles and the Twelve Kingdoms short stories.
meganbmoore: (too many books)
What are you currently reading

Volume 8 of 7 Seeds by Yumi Tamura. According to wikipedia, the arc I'm reading now wraps up at the end of volume 9, and I'll have reached the point I kept telling myself I wanted to reach before taking a break. Which is just as well, as emotional investment is currently a bit anxietymaking. Yumi Tamura appears to have gone "Pft, Clamp thinks they can make unbearably angsty back stories? They are amateurs. I'll show them how it's done without going nearly as far over the top."

What did you recently finish reading?

Volumes 4-7 of 7 Seeds. See above.

A Bride's Story Vol 4 by Kaoru Mori. Most of this volume is a side plot about a pair of twin sisters looking for husbands. These husbands, though, have to be brothers so the sisiters won't be separated. It was pretty much hilarious and delightful throughout, and I didn't mind the sidetrip at all.

Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould. DNF. Set in late 16th Century Italy, our heroine was sent to a convent several years ago, but is called home by her father after her sister's mysterious death to marry her sister's fiance, and soon is approached by a secret society of women who help make each others problems go away. Which would seem to be a perfect formula for me, but somehow, it's just boring. Like, really really boring. I read over half of it thinking "surely, SURELY something is about to happen and this book will live up to its potential and turn awesome!" until I realized that the boredom was making me read more slowly than usual and hours that could be spent reading something else were drifting away from me.

The Secret Lives of Codebreakers by Sinclair McKay. Nonfiction about day-to-day life at Bletchley Park from 1938-1945. Pretty interesting stuff, really. I hadn't realized before that there were 9000-10000 people employed there throughout the war (though that includes EVERYONE employed there, including messengers, secretaries, kitchen staff, cleaners, etc., not just codebreakers) or how common nervous breakdowns were. This is also the first thing I've read that broke down just how secretive things were, including between the people working there, with no onebeing allowed to discuss any aspect of their work with anyone outside of their own department, even family also employed at the Park. There was one family of a mother and two daughters where the mother was a waitress in the canteen, the older daughter one of the codebreakers, and the younger daughter employed as a messenger at 13, and who later became a secretary at the park, and none could discuss their work with each other at any time, even after the war. (The younger daughter, Mimi Gallilee, is also one of McKay's most-quoted sources for the book.) Another couple met and got married while working there, but didn't know what the other actually did there for decades after, despite being married the whole time. There's some information on codebreaking, but most of the focus is on the day-to-day operations and living conditions.

The War At Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks. A short-ish graphic novel about a girl named Juniper who goes to a boarding school on scholarship. She quickly befriends her quirky roommate, Cassie, and makes an enemy of the school's Queen Bee, Emily. The main plot is pretty straightforward and doesn't add anything to its type, but is very enjoyable. There's a sideplot about a legend of the school's, which holds that, before it was a school, it was a lord's castle, and one day the lord's sons had a fight and followed a white beast into the forest, and were never heard from again. Unfortunately, the book isn't long enough to really integrate that legend into the main plot, because based on what Hicks managed to do in the limited space she had, I think that could have elevated it from a solid and enjoyable read to a pretty great read. I feel compelled to mention that there isn't a single living male in the whole thing.

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks. Utterly hilarious adventures of a superheroine whose town is beset by ninjas, marshmallow thieves, evil poodle ladies, and the occasional talking bear. It pokes a lot of loving fun at the genre (and less loving fun and more sharp stick at society-at one point, Superhero Girl wears a hoodie because she's having a bad hair day, and everyone thinks she turned evil) and has a lot of fun with her adventures in and out of costume, and wants us to ponder just how often superheroes forget to take their masks off (and how they keep them on in a fight). My favorite parts were when she fought her evil future self, and the times her brother showed up to be eternally devastated that she didn't want to be his partner forever.

The Little Princesses by Marion Crawford. Memoir of Marion Crawford, who was governess to Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret in the 1930s and 1940s. Knowing that the royal family cut off all contact with Crawford after she published the book and never spoke with her in the almost 40 years between the book's publication and Crawford's death (and didn't attend or send a wreath to her funeral) I was curious about what she had to say, and surprised to find how incredibly pro-royal-family it was. By today's standards, it's almost nauseatingly pure and positive. To judge by the book, the royal family was perfect and gracious and never had an ounce of arrogance or pretension, and the princesses were perfectly behaved angels who never lost their temper or misbehaved, only having "flaws" that made them precocious and clever as children, and intelligent and responsible and caring as they grew older. As one of the first books of the type, it must have felt to be an enormous breach of confidence, despite it's adoring nature (and definitely was, as Crawford had supposedly agreed not to publish anything about the royal family) but most famous figures would be relieved if something unauthorized about them came out and was half as positive as this. Really, though, it was an enjoyable and charming read, and had a lot of interesting information about life and conditions at the times, it's just hard to buy into a portrayal of any family as being so good and flawless.

What do you think you'll read next?

More 7 Seeds, then get back to Legend of the White Haired Demoness, and I have the Beautiful Creatures series from the library.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
What are you currently reading

Volume 4 of 7 Seeds by Yumi Tamura.  I keep thinking "I'll reach a good stopping point then post on it."  Which I shall.  Tis grand, though.

What did you recently finish reading?

Autobiography of a Geisha by Masuda Sayo, which I posted on separately.

Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time by Hope Larson. Adaptation of L'Engle's book. I'm not sure how long it's been since I read a Wrinkle in Time (not since some point in my teens, I believe, though I did read it a number of times growing up) but based on my memories, it's pretty faithful, even when we might wish it wasn't (such as the use of "moron,") and it made me remember being a kid and trying to figure out how "tesseract" is supposed to be pronounced. It left me curious about Larson's other work.

The Presence: A Ghost Story by Eve Bunting. Short YA novel about a depressed teenager, Catherine, who blames herself for her friends death in a car accident and is sent to her grandmothers for the holidays, only to find herself on the receiving end of a serial-killer ghost's attentions. (I'm not entirely certain how to phrase that, as, while he might have been a stalker pre-death, the serial-killer aspect is only as ghost.) Being familiar with fandom and how many readers react to fiction, it was a bit disturbing to read it and realize a lot of people would be rooting for Catherine to fall for and redeem the ghost, though this is thankfully not something the writer supports at all. I thought it could have been stronger and more original than it was, but it was pretty enjoyable and solid overall.

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt. (I seem to remember several people posting on this a few years ago, but couldn't find it in the tags of the usual suspects.) A fairy tale-like novel in which the village storyteller, Keturah, who is also the granddaughter of the village midwife, follows a hart into the forest and meets Death, with whom she she makes a wager for her life. The prose is somewhat lyrical and it and much of the dialogue is more akin to what you'd expect to find in Grimm or Andersen than a modern novel, but it captures the mood and spirit of the novel perfectly. Though not perfect, I liked it a lot.

Courtship and Curses by Marissa Doyle. Regency-set YA fantasy. it starts like 80% of the Regency romances out there with Our Heroine (a witch who is lame due to polio) going to London with her two aunt's and a family friend and falling for a gentleman Who Would Totally Never Like Her Back. Then it dives off into conspiracies and assassination attempts and spyjinks and Our Hero is often forgotten in favor of Our Heroine hanging out with his female cousin and her guardians. IIRC, I enjoyed Doyle's first book a lot, despite its flaws, and the second considerably less so, though I did still enjoy it. This one, while very enjoyable, never quite felt like it lived up to it's full potential, but I'm glad I read it.

What do you think you'll read next?

I have volume 4 of A Bride's Story from the library. Beyond that, the library informs me that I have some ILLs in, but didn't tell me which, so I need to see what they are, and when they're due back.
meganbmoore: (nancy drew)
WWII-set mystery series about Maggie Hope, a British-born mathematician raised in the US after the deaths of her parents by her lesbian, university professor aunt who decides to stay in England to attempt to aid in the war effort after returning to settle the family estate's affairs. Though initially passed over for important jobs because of her gender, she eventually becomes Winston Churchill's secretary through the intercession of a (gay Jewish playboy) friend, and from there gains the attention of the head of MI-5.

I suspect Susan Elia MacNeal is familiar with certain subsets of fandom.

The books are incredibly well researched, with liberties being taken deliberately instead of from ignorance, and the first book in particular is very good in regards to the positions most women were allowed to hold and how people were chosen for positions, and some scenes when Maggie is churchill's secretary are taken directly (with permission) from the experiences of two of Churchill's secretaries, Elizabeth Layton Nel and Marian Holmes. And while I'm not a mathematician or well-versed in codebreaking 9or creating) those aspects seem to be pretty spot on, too.

I like the first book, with the focus on the wartime mindset and society among the people on the fringes of the war effort, the best, but like the other two, which are a bit more into the realm of "glamorous" spy capers, as well. The end of book two introduces the potential of soap opera-like drama, though the parts with the potential to annoy don't really come into play until near the end of book three.

spoilers )The books, in order, are:

Mr. Churchill's Secretary
Princess Elizabeth's Spy
His Majesty's Hope
meganbmoore: (labyrinth: reading)
This is actually...what, 3 weeks of books?

What are you currently reading
Nothing, ATM. Finished my plane-reading book last night before bed.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan. I'm glad that this time, when Annabeth got a quest, it was actually about her. (IIRC, when she had an official quest in the first series, it still ended up being mostly about Percy. Really, it's a good thing I like Percy.) The humor is still there, not to mention the characterization and entertaining takes on mythology, and I'm glad that the series is considerably more diverse now, but I think Riordan may be starting to have a few too many things going at once now. I mean, I can't even remember if Jason orr Frank had any POV chapters. (Though, in Jason's case, I may just not have noticed them. There's nothing particularly wrong with Jason [aside from being named after a Greek hero i'm not exactly fond of], but there's nothing incredibly right with him, either, he's just kinda inoffensively but uninterestingly there.) And yet, I'm pretty sure we'll also be getting Nico chapters in the next book, and despite the potential overpopulation of narrators, I can't help but think Reyna is due some POV chapters, too.

The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyers. YA about Mia, a girl who, after being possessed by a demon, is carted off to Italy by her father's estranged relatives to learn to be a demon hunter. It takes a little while to get going and has a bit much family drama and "Oh look! Italy!" and not enough supernaturlal worldbuilding and demon hunting, but generally pretty solid and enjoyable, though it's very much a book meant to be the first in a series.

Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong. I have no particular thoughts about the plot of this one, but i enjoyed it. This is the first (only?) book in the series where part of it was from a male character's POV. Which I raise an eyebrow at in a series titled "Women of the Otherworld," but at least it was Lucas, who at least is one of the few men in the series who I like. This is also the first (only?) book in the series with POC narrators (Lucas is Cuban and Hope, the other narrator, is Indian). I was disappointed to find the Hope/Karl relationship having some of the same issues as Elena/Clayton, though not nearly to the same degree, and in a much more palatable form.

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma: Two years ago, Chloe found a dead body floating in a boat in the reservoir near their hometown, at a sight where another town is said to be under the water, still intact, citizens and all. Chloe was promptly removed from her half-sister, Ruby's, care by her father, their mother having effectively abandoned them a while back. Ruby vows to return things to exactly the way the were before, and to bring Chloe back once she's done so. When she does bring Chloe back, she does so without Chloe's father's permission, and one of the first people Chloe encounters is the dead girl, London, who everyone believes has been in rehab for drug abuse. This is a wonderfully spooky and atmospheric YA gothic novel that is not only completely unconcerned about men and romantic plotlines, and completely absorbed with the relationship between Ruby (who is something like what I picture Allison DiLaurentis from Pretty Little Liars would be like if she were older and had a sister, or the titular Rebecca from Daphne DuMaurier's novel) and Chloe.

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress: Note: this is the book I read flying home from WisCon while half-dead. This is an Edwardian Steampunk book about 3 assistants who band together to become a super-heroine team. No, really, there's a scene where they all sit down to choose their super hero code names and, had I not been in the middle of a crowded plane and thus expected to act like a mature adult, my inner 13-year-old would have taken over, clutched my fists to my mouth, and let out a high-pitched girlish squeal of delight. So, anyway, Cora, and inventor's assistant, Michiko, a fight-instructor's assistant, and Nellie, a magician's assistant, all stumble across a dead body one night after a ball they all performed at. HIJINKS ENSUE. Hijinks unfortunately often consisting of boys, but also consisting of getting drunk, confronting "mad scientists," creative B&E, fights, inventions, superheroine costumes, investigations, fights, and bonding. There are a lot of groany orientalism cliches with Michiko (though fewer than I'd braced myself for) and the book sometimes thinks it's cleverer than it actually is, but overall, I thought it was a lot of fun.

Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaugh: Note: This is the book that I was reading at WisCon when hibernating/everything but my eyes was dead. This book somehow manages to successfully combine Greek Mythology (and especially the Trojan War), the apocalypse, and Arthuriana into a story about a comic book writer who goes home after learning her father is dying and discovers that he and her ancestors have been the keepers of a storeroom that hold all of history and mythology's magic artifact. (Yes, her basement is Warehouse 13. It was published in 2010, so Vaughn and SyFy probably had the idea around the same time.) World War III is gearing up (wreaking havoc on Our Heroine, Evie's, plotlines) various immortals and mythic figures, lead by Hera, the only surviving member of the Greek Pantheon, is trying to gain access to the storeroom, along with Sinon, (the Greek warrior from The Aeneid, who pretended to be a defector to convince the Trojans to take the wooden horse inside the city walls) who was snatched from Troy by Apollo and made Apollo's immortal sex slave (literally) and hopes the storeroom has a weapon that can kill him. Somewhere along the way, Arthur and Merlin show up and effectively declare themselves Evie's sidekicks as part of team Save The Storeroom. (Well, Arthur does, Merlin is more dragged along, grumping the whole way.) Lots and lots of stuff going on, but Vaughn pulls it all together pretty well, and I enjoyed it a lot. Warnings, though, for off-page m/m slave rape that goes on for decades inbetween flashbacks.

What do you think you'll read next?

Not sure. I have some books that I got at WisCon that I really want to get to, but also have some books from the library that I renewed just before leaving for WisCon.
meganbmoore: (swofta: inappropriate temptation)
Set in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1940s, Snow in Summer is one of the books in the seeming endless stream of "Snow White" adaptations. (I have no problem with this endless string, but I know plenty are fed up with it.)

Our Heroine is named "Snow in Summer" because she was born in the summer and her appearance reminded her mother of the Snow White story. After her mother dies, Summer's father sinks into a deep depression. It's assumed that he'll eventually marry Nancy, his cousin's widow and Summer's godmother, but instead one day he walks back from the cemetary with a strange woman no one has ever seen before, and his new bride, a witch, intends to steal his strength and make Summer (who she prefers to call Snow) her apprentice.

The story doesn't reach the point where the huntsman and the dwarves (much less a prince figure) come into play until the last quarter of the book. Instead, the majority of the book centers around Summer's grief over her mother, and her relationships with her surrogate mother, Nancy, and her stepmother, who is never actually named. There's a realistic and depressing portrayal of both mental and physical abuse, but I found the relationship between Summer and her stepmother fascinating, and Summer and Nancy's relationship very endearing. The majority of the book is written from Summer's POV, but both Nancy and the stepmother have several POV chapters, too. (One of the dwarves also gets a short one near the end.) There's also (unsurprisingly, given the setting and approach) a fair bit of focus on religion, but I didn't find it very heavyhanded.

It's not my favorite version of Snow White, but I thought it was pretty decent and an interesting choice of setting, and I give it a lot of props for making the main focus be the relationships between Snow White and her mothers (and that Nancy and the stepmother's rivalry was entirely about Summer, and not her father) and for assuming that the reader is going to be more interested in those relationships than in Summer's adventures involving dwarves and/or prince figures.

(And may I just close with a comment about how hard it was to consistently refer to her as "Summer" and not "Snow"? Because it was very weird.)
meganbmoore: (nancy drew)
The first two books in a presumably ongoing series about Iris Anderson, a teenaged German-Jew living in New York in 1942. Her father, a private detective, lost a leg in Pearl Harbor, and much of the conflict revolves around Iris wanting to help in his investigations.

I actually read the second book The Girl is Trouble first, not realizing until after I'd started there there was a book before it, and wasn't able to read The Girl is Murder for about a month. I saw that The Girl is Trouble was about a teen detective in the 40s who begins to suspect that her mother's suicide was actually a murder and looked no further than that and the title. While there are references to the first book, I had no problems or confusion reading them out of order, despite there being a close continuity between the books.

The books seem to be inevitably compared to Nancy Drew, which is pretty fair, but she feels more like "40s Veronica Mars" to me. (Of course, Veronica Mars owes a fair bit to Nancy Drew, and other female detectives, which really makes it a quibble at best.) The titles seem to be attached to the wrong books to me. The Girl is Murder doesn't contain any murders (though Iris spends a chunk of the book suspecting there has been one) and instead focuses on Iris involving herself in a missing person's case while adjusting from going from being a rich private school girl to being a public school girl whose father can barely make ends meet, as well as her making friends with the girls at her new school and trying to create an identity for herself in her new life, while the main plot of the second revolves around Iris investigating her mother's death and learning about her mother's secret life (there's a betaplot in which Iris investigates malicious letters being left in the lockers of Jewish students).

There's considerable focus on prejudice against both Germans and Jews at the time (as well as other groups, but primarily the two that affect Iris the most) particularly in the second book, and it does a good job of depicting the general "homefront" mindset. Iris has a nominal love interest, but the books have little time for that with everything else that's going on. Solid books, and definitely recommended if you want something a little different from the average YA fare.
meganbmoore: (bomb girls)

I put off reading this book for some time despite it sounding perfect for me because I adored Wein's The Winter Prince for about 3/4 of the book, and then in the space of about 3 pages, that love turned to hate and I'm still not over that.

Thankfully, I didn't have the same experience with Code Name Verity set in both France and England during WW2, our narrator is a Scottish SOE wireless operator, codenamed "Verity" who has been captured and is being interrogated by the Gestapo. She's allowed to live as long as she cooperates, and has been given an unlimited supply of paper on which to record everything she knows about SOE operations, and the majority of the narrative is what she writes. Verity chooses to relate what she knows by chronicling her friendship with her pilot, Maddie, who died in a crash (and whose identity papers she's carrying, though she claims not to know how she ended up with them) bringing Verity to France, interspersing her narratives with descriptions of what the Gestapo is doing to her during her imprisonment, and describing what she witnesses happening to other prisoners. I find it a bit farfetched that her interrogator would let her would let her discuss the torture and spend so much time discussing her relationship with Maddie and a couple other female operatives and work in the details he wanted that way, but as a narrative device, particularly one in a plot where an unreliable narrator is crucial, it's an excellent choice.

Wein writes with an extremely strong voice, and much of the tension in the novel (aside, of course, from finding out whether or not Verity will survive) is trying to discover how much of what she writes is true, and how much isn't. It's unsurprisingly a very emotional novel, though it never quite crosses into melodrama, and much of the emotion revolves around Our Heroine's investment in her relationships with other women.

Wein largely avoids specific real names and places in her details about the SOE, but from what I've been reading on the SOE in recent months (Wish Me Luck: Find it. Watch it. Have your brain get devoured by it.) it's very well researched, though there are a couple things that made me raise my brows in doubt. (I'm pretty sure not even the SOE would have sent out an agent who had Verity's reaction to the torture training, or use the methods she claims were used on her during it.) I should also warn that Verity goes into detail about both the torture she suffers through and what she witnesses happening to other prisoners. That and a few other things (among which is all the characters being older than most YA protagonists, though I can't recall if exact ages were ever mentioned) make me a bit surprised that the book is marketted as YA.

Very much recommended if you like ladyspies and/or WW2 stuff not about soldiers in battle and/or interesting narrative choices and don't mind getting figuratively punched in the gut a lot by your fiction.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
By "recently-ish" I mean "I actually read most of these in the January-March range and kept thinking I'd give them proper writeups, but didn't."

"Hunger Games Trilogy" by Suzanne Collins: I've tried getting into these books several times over the last few years but kept failing due to my difficulty reading first person present tense. Unsurprisingly, I liked them once once I got past that, though I think they fall apart in some ways. (Largely due to a forced-focus on a romantic triangle that Collins obviously has no interet in, and having contain the story into a trilogy instead of making it a longer series.) The books have pretty much been talked to death everywhere, so I'll just comment that the parts that interested me the most were the portrayal of PTSD and the different ways characters dealt with it, and the use and manipulation ofthe media by various parties, particularly when Katniss (and others, but mostly Katniss) turn it into a weapon, and how Katniss creates a false public persona to stay alive.

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones: Boy being hunted by mysterious magic critters seeks refuge with his grandmother's friend, finds his absentminded professor grandson instead. HIJINKS. Not DWJ's best, but I liked it a lot. But then, I think I like DWJ best when she's doing (err, "did") odd little makeshift families and "another world next door" types of plots and this is both of those with lots of eccentric locals running around. There isn't really much in it that wasn't in DWJ books that came before it, but it was pretty solid.

Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones: Boy stuck with unpleasant relatives during school break (David) meets another boy (Luke) who claims David freed him from prison, then people show up claiming Luke stole something and trying to reimprison him. Gameso f wit ensure regarding what happens to Luke, who claims to be innocent of this particular wrongdoing. Pretty fun. Who everyone is and what was stolen seemed obvious pretty early on, but it's probably a bit less obvious when the source material isn't getting continuous offhand mentions like it is now.

"Fallen" series by Lauren Kate: Sometimes-entertaining, sometimes-aggravating emo gothic ya about fallen angels, reincarnation, and blind romantic love being the most important thing in the universe. The first 2 books were pretty fun but the last two were rather trying (and there's a novella in the middle that's about half-and-half) and relied entirely on 2 things: 1. romantic love is the most amazing perfect thing ever and nothing else is a fraction as important and who cares about getting to know someone or if they're a bad/good person if you loved their previous incarnation, and 2. NO ONE TELLING THE HEROINE ANYTHING. *hem* Because if they had, it would have been over. SIGH. Dull main love interest and interesting enough heroine, but the supporting are considerably more interesting and entertaining. In the end, while it's a bit unfair and oversimplifying things, my main thought was "I liked this better when it was by Kaori Yuki and called Angel Sanctuary. But really, for emo gothic YA authors who have clearly read too much Kaori Yuki (if one can read too much Kaori Yuki) I much prefer Cassandra Clare.

White as Snow by Tanith Lee: An adaptation of Snow White that combines it with the myth of Demeter and Persephone. It may sound a bit odd combining one story in which a mother goes to extreme lengths to kill her daughter with another in which a mother goes to extreme lengths to rescue her daughter after she's abducted, but it works. This is the only novel-length print version of Snow White I've encountered that directly addresses both the weight of objectification of the male gaze and living within it, as well as the necrophilia and rape culture present within Snow White (before it got prettied up) and it handles all the topics pretty well and interestingly. Lee's prose andthe way she regularly transitions between versions of both myths might be offputting for some, but I liked them.

A Golden Web by Barbara Quick: A fairly lightweight YA novel about Allesandra Giliani, the world's first (known, and without any research, I suspect "world" means "Europe") female anatomist, who lived in the 14th century. Well as lightweight as you can be when your subject died before she was 20. Quick spends a bit too much time of Giliani's early life (with an unfortunate focus on The Mean Stepmother, mean apparently for conflict, as Alessandra is explicitly the ONLY stepchild she has problems with) and not enough on the actual science part. That said, despite following a lot of "one special girl" conventions, it's still pretty enjoyable, and noteworthy for the relatively obscure subject matter.

Clever Maids: The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales by Valerie Paradiz: Non-fiction book about Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's process of collecting fairy tales for what was initially an academic project. The reviews I read emphasized the fact that the tales were oral folktales primarily passed down by women of the rural and lower classes, and implied an emphasis on that, but it's more a biography of the Grimm's eith a heavier focus on the period of time they were collecting tales. (I actually suspect Pradiz wanted to write a biography of their sister, Charlotte Grimm, but was shot down.) She tries to draw allegories between the tales and the individual women who provided them, but while some work, most are a bit (or more) of a stretch, and she doesn't really dig into the stories in a way that worked for me. Still, it's a very interesting book and worth checking out, even if it wasn't quite the book I went in expecting.
meganbmoore: (holy pearl: demon hunter)
Sword is a YA wuxia novel that alternates between realistic pseudo-history and over the top wuxia fantasy. When Miu Miu turns 15 her mother tells her that her father, a swordmaker, did not drown, as Miu has always been told, but instead was murdered by the emperor so that he would never make a sword better than the one he made for the emperor, and that she has to marry the son of her father's apprentice so that he can avenge her father since the family has no biological sons. Miu decides that she'll do the avenging herself, engages in some crossdrssing, and sets off for the capital. Adventures ensue.

It starts off fairly predictable (in a good way) and has the "tried and true" feel to the over-all plot until about 3/4 through when suddenly nothing is going the way you were expecting anymore and you have no idea what will happen next. The ending felt a bit "easy" in some ways but it's pretty fun, and does a good job turning wuxia tropes and expectations on their heads.


meganbmoore: (Default)

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