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Tales from the TBR

The book: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

The summary:

In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer.

The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.

When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life.

How I found it: I don't remember the exact circumstances leading to the purchase of this specific copy last year, but I've been aware of the book since it came out in 2012. From the mid-90s through the early 2000s, Rachel Hartman wrote a minicomic, set in Goredd some years earlier, called Amy Unbounded, which was a delightful coming-of-age story about a young girl having adventures and learning her place in the world. (Sadly, the series is out of print, but it's worth tracking them down if you're interested, especially if there's a young girl in your life who needs an introduction to the world of comics.) So Seraphina went on my mental TBR, but I'm sure you all know how that can go.

What inspired me to read it now: Hartman's latest book, Tess of the Road, is a finalist for the Lodestar (the Not-a-Hugo Award for Best YA Book), and although I gather that it's not a direct sequel, I still wanted to read the Seraphina duology first.

The verdict: I have no idea why I waited so long to read this book, because it's a delight, although I could wish that the main character had read the situation and not waited quite so long to have some key honest conversations. (I find this trope particularly irritating, which is why I rounded my Goodreads rating down to four stars instead of up to five.) I fell in love with Seraphina as a narrator immediately, and I also adored Princess Glisselda and her best friend Millie. And also the prickly scholar Orma and the dashing and dogged Prince Lucian Kiggs. I could sit here and name favorites all day -- this world is full of fascinating characters, almost all of whom are easy to like (or dislike, in the case of many of the antagonists). Hartman's worldbuilding is both deep and intriguing, especially in the cases where she only drops hints -- draconic society, Goreddi religion (especially the heretic St. Yirtrudis -- I'm dying to learn more about her), the details of Goredd's relationship with its other neighbors. I also like her take on dragons: they are humanized and alien at the same time, just as any sentient species living among us would be. There are dozens of stories left to tell in this universe, and I will read every single one of them.

More thoughts, with spoilers. )

The primary goal of this Tales from the TBR series is to encourage me to read books that I already own. Although successful in this case, I have to call it a mixed success, because as soon as I finish this, I'm buying the sequel, because I have to know what happens next. Worth it, I'd say.

Love Her and Despair Remaster [19]

Apr. 21st, 2019 11:15 pm
auronlu: (Lady)
[personal profile] auronlu
Title: Love Her and Despair
Chapter 19: "Echoes of Woe"
Final Fantasy X/X-2
Characters: Isaaru, Maroda, Auron, Elma, Rikku, Gippal, Shinra, Nooj, Cid
Rating: PG-13 (Violence)
Word Count: 3000
Summary: Summoner Isaaru arrives in the aftermath of an attack on the Al Bhed Home.
Navigation: Previous Chapter | Next Chapter
Map of Pilgrimage - Links to All Chapters

The Story So Far: Sin has been systematically destroying temples and their aeons. Baaj Island, the new Al Bhed Home, has become its latest target. Isaaru and his companions arrive in the aftermath of the attack to offer help.

Wreaths of steam and smoke marked the sunken island of Baaj long before the piers of New Home rose from the sea. Late afternoon sun flared off distant panels and windows. As the airship began to descend, the jumble of structures resolved itself into a circular hive of new stone buildings built on and apparently from a vast field of submerged ruins, interconnected by arching bridges of metal and glass. The town was surrounded by a fortified ring-wall of more typical Al Bhed design, an intimidating exoskeleton of girders and rusted metal, massive guns facing out to sea. Baaj Temple reared up at the center of the settlement. Black smoke vomited from a wing jutting out behind its central tower.

The temple's cracked dome was not the only testament to Sin's passing. All the windows facing north had been blown in. Struts and spans tilted at dangerous angles. Porches and awnings had been ripped away from houses. Every channel of open water was fretted by a spiderweb of snapped cables drooping from twisted pylons. Yet apart from a few missing roofs, most of the structures appeared to be intact.

Gippal, returning to the flight deck with noisy disregard for his somber passengers, thumped Rikku's back before climbing into his seat. "Buck up, Sunshine. It's not as bad as it looks."

"Easy for you to say, Gip," she said, drooped over her console. "You're gonna make a fortune selling construction materials, right?"

"Two percent," he said. "Rin wanted a big markup, but I won't kick the home team when it's down."

"What a mess," Elma said. Ensconced in the gunner's bubble, she had a bird's eye view of the devastation crawling by.

"At least they had warning," Isaaru said. "Thank Yevon they fled in time."

Read More... )

owlmoose: (avengers - assemble)
[personal profile] owlmoose
On the docket to discuss today: Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War. We may or may not go see Captain Marvel again on Tuesday; since I haven't really written up my thoughts on that film in any detail, it deserves its own post, and I want to get down my Infinity War feelings while they're still fresh.

I don't have much to say about Ragnarok that I didn't already say when I first saw it. It was the only Thor movie we watched for this project, and I do think some of the things I love about it come out more strongly in comparison to the other two. Maybe I'll need to have a separate Asgardian marathon one of these days.

And then, there is Infinity War. Let's put this one behind a cut. )
gehayi: (fuego (gehayi))
[personal profile] gehayi

Mists of Avalon--Book 3 Chapter 9 Part II

Bradley the Incestuous breaks the fourth wall with Morgaine, who has a “divine revelation” about  the wonderfulness of incest, and Morgaine’s stepson Accolon pressures her into sex  by telling her that he and his older brother are both child molesters. 

Welcome to the worst section of the book.

Content Warnings

  • warning: abuse (emotional)
  • warning: abuse (sexual)
  • warning: child abuse
  • warning: classism
  • warning: controversial issues
  • warning: do not want
  • warning: incest
  • warning: incestuous undertones
  • warning: pedophilia (mentioned)
  • warning: potential triggers
  • warning: rape (mentioned)
  • warning: sexism
  • warning: transphobia

(If you want to catch up, the Table of Contents is available here, along with links to every review we’ve done on this book so far.)

Note: This book’s critique may be hard for anyone who has suffered because of incest, pedophilia, or rape. There is a great deal of normalization of these crimes in Mists, as well as a huge amount of rape apologia, and we three critics spend a lot of time tearing all of this apart. Check the content warnings for each chapter, make your own judgments…and please be safe.

Mists of Avalon--Book 3 Chapter 9 Part II

Sidetracks - April 18, 2019

Apr. 18th, 2019 04:53 pm
helloladies: Gray icon with a horseshoe open side facing down with pink text underneath that says Sidetracks (sidetracks)
[personal profile] helloladies posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag. For more links and commentary you can follow us on Twitter, Tumblr. You can also support us on Patreon.

Read more... )
gehayi: (tiger heart (angevin))
[personal profile] gehayi

Mists of Avalon Review–Book III Chapter 9 Part I

Morgaine’s stepson Accolon acts like Christian Grey on a stalking binge, King Uriens gains a title by marriage and his wife Morgaine’s eternal hatred, and Morgaine resolves to steal Elaine’s five-year-old daughter for Avalon. 

This Friday (April 19, 2019) we ill be posting  Part II, which is the most blatantly awful part of the entire book.

Content Warnings

  • warning: abuse (emotional)
  • warning: child abuse (mentioned)
  • warning: classism
  • warning: controversial issues
  • warning: do not want
  • warning: incestuous undertones
  • warning: pedophilia (mentioned)
  • warning: pedophilic tones
  • warning: potential triggers
  • warning: rape
  • warning: slavery (mentioned)
  • warning: stalking
  • warning: threats (non-violent)

(If you want to catch up, the Table of Contents is available here, along with links to every review we’ve done on this book so far.)

Note: This book’s critique may be hard for anyone who has suffered because of incest, pedophilia, or rape. There is a great deal of normalization of these crimes in Mists, as well as a huge amount of rape apologia, and we three critics spend a lot of time tearing all of this apart. Check the content warnings for each chapter, make your own judgments…and please be safe.

Mists of Avalon Review–Book III Chapter 9 Part I

gehayi: (sayaka's despair (gehayi))
[personal profile] gehayi

Dresden Files Review: Grave Peril--Chapter 4

Tonight, a sick, starving teen suffering from cursed prophecies begs for Harry Dresden's help.  He'd rather do anything else. Also, there's a creepy phone call that is in no way significant. 

Dresden Files Review: Grave Peril--Chapter 4

Notre Dame

Apr. 15th, 2019 06:14 pm
owlmoose: icon by <user site="livejournal.com" name="parron"> (ffx - mi'ihen sunset)
[personal profile] owlmoose
Like many people, I spent today transfixed by horror and sadness as Notre Dame de Paris burned. As of this writing, it seems that the main stone structure has been saved; there are conflicting reports as to how extensive the damage to the interior might be. The wooden roof is definitely gone, along with the iconic spire and at least one of the rose windows. (I was particularly struck by this photo of the fire, a moment of surprising beauty in a time of deep sadness.)

I went to Paris once, in 2001. Our hotel was just down the river from the Louve, so also quite near Notre Dame, and we saw it from the outside pretty much every day, just walking around. We also toured the inside, and although it wasn't the cathedral I was most excited to see at the time (that would be our day trip to Chartres), I was still moved and overwhelmed by its beauty, and by the sense of history. We always meant to get back to Paris someday, but we never have so far. Now it's hard to imagine it. As a former student of architecture, I experience a city through its buildings, and it's impossible to picture Paris without Notre Dame -- just as I can't think of a Rome without the Colosseum, or a London without Big Ben, or a San Francisco without the Bay Bridge. Notre Dame isn't gone, but it is forever changed, and it's okay to grieve what's been lost.

(I mistyped the subject line as "Notre Damn", and I almost kept it that way, but decided it would be too disrespectful. Yet it seems an appropriate sentiment in a way. So I immortalize the typo in this note instead.)
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[personal profile] spindizzy posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Cover of Any Old Diamonds

Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes is the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, with a bitter grudge against his wealthy father. The Duke intends to give his Duchess a priceless diamond parure on their wedding anniversary—so Alec hires a pair of jewel thieves to steal it.

The Duke's remote castle is a difficult target, and Alec needs a way to get the thieves in. Soldier-turned-criminal Jerry Crozier has the answer: he'll pose as a Society gentleman and become Alec's new best friend.

But Jerry is a dangerous man: controlling, remote, and devastating. He effortlessly teases out the lonely young nobleman’s most secret desires, and soon he’s got Alec in his bed—and the palm of his hand.

Or maybe not. Because as the plot thickens, betrayals, secrets, new loves, and old evils come to light. Now the jewel thief and the aristocrat must keep up the pretence, find their way through a maze of privilege and deceit, and confront the truth of what's between them...all without getting caught.

Alec Pyne is the cast-off son of a duke, who hires a pair of jewel thieves to rob his father in revenge. Cue constant threats of betrayal, unexpected feelings, and HEISTS. Oh, and as you may have noticed when I squeaked about this before, I really liked it. It has possibly knocked Spectred Isle off its spot as my favourite KJ Charles book, which em>seriously takes some doing.

Read more... )

Love Her and Despair Remaster [18]

Apr. 15th, 2019 01:26 am
auronlu: (Lady)
[personal profile] auronlu
Title: Love Her and Despair
Chapter 18: "The Falcon Cannot Hear"
Final Fantasy X
Characters: Auron, Isaaru, Maroda, Elma, Rikku
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1600
Summary: Discussing the fallout from Yuna's sphere.
Navigation: Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | Map/ToC

Our Story So Far: En route to the Al Bhed Home to ask Cid for aid, Isaaru's party learns the truth of the Final Summoning from Yuna's Sphere. Maroda and Auron come to blows, until Rikku intervenes.

"What have you done to them?" Isaaru hurried towards his unconscious guardians, stumbling over his robes. "In Yevon's name—"

"Calm down. They're fine!" Rikku said, tapping the back of Auron's head. "Funguar pollen: works better than a hammer on skulls like his. They'll wake in a few. You'd better sit down till your head clears."

The intercom activated with a burst of static. "Rikku, what are you doing to my ship?"

Rikku pressed her hands over her ears. "Nothing, Gip. Maroda and Auron got into a fistfight. I hit 'em with a nightcap."

"Oh, great. Hull breach? Dents in the deck?"

"Ummm..." She lifted Auron's feet, first one and then the other, letting them drop with a clunk. "Nope!"

"Keep it that way."


Read More... )
owlmoose: Closeup of Melinda May (marvel - melinda may)
[personal profile] owlmoose
I was convinced that it was worth our while to watch all of Doctor Strange, so, fine, we watched all of Doctor Strange. Also Ant-Man & the Wasp, except for the post credits scenes. (Two of our watching group haven't seen Infinity War yet, so I suggested that we skip those for now because 1. it's a major, major spoiler and 2. they wouldn't understand it anyway, which is about the worst possible combination. We'll watch it when the time comes.)

Watching Ant-Man & the Wasp solidified our sense that the Ant-Man movies are the least scientifically plausible of the MCU films that claim to be grounded in science -- and given how low my bar for plausibility is in a superhero movie, that's saying something. In this particular case, there is also a chain of fairly stupid decisions (mostly, but not all, made by Scott), and several points where the main conflict could have been solved by everyone sitting down for three minutes and having a reasonable conversation. And yet I still think they're a lot of fun. Maybe because they don't take themselves terribly seriously. Even the more serious bits. The fight scenes are fun and inventive, I genuinely like all the characters (even the irascible and imperious Hank), and the humor strikes me in just the right way (unlike the humor of the Guardians movies, which I often find mean-spirited). And since we didn't watch the post-credits scenes, they didn't ruin my mood, and I found I enjoyed it very well.

I also liked Doctor Strange a bit better this time around, now that I know that Strange is never going to entirely redeem himself from being the entitled and arrogant asshole that he is at the beginning. He does grow and change somewhat, but not as far as he would need to go for me to really like him. I mostly appreciate this film on an aesthetic level -- the folding landscapes, the depiction of the multiverse, the beauty of the glowing glyphs in action.

Thor: Ragnarok on Tuesday, and then we watch Avengers: Infinity War on Easter Sunday, which is weirdly appropriate to me. And then we're done with almost a week to spare (except we might try to catch Captain Marvel again), and I can't quite believe we made it.

Happy Episode IX Day

Apr. 12th, 2019 05:36 pm
owlmoose: (star wars - han woohoo)
[personal profile] owlmoose
I sat down at my computer do to other things, and then somehow ended up watching the Star Wars Celebration panel on Episode 9 instead. (YouTube isn't letting me share a link that starts partway into the video; the content proper begins at about 18:59.)

I have also watched the teaser trailer several times, and, well. Yay!

A few reactions, mostly to the trailer but some informed by the panel Q&A )

I am excited!


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