Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, which is the sequel to Six of Crows, but really it's the second half of the brick it would have been if published together. I loved the additional character revelations and development, but I think that unlike nearly everyone else, I liked the first book a bit more. This book felt as though there was too much shoved into it, particularly in the last third; I found myself getting bored and wanting it to just be over, already, which is not how you want to feel while reading something you otherwise enjoy a lot! Also, it seemed to me that the narrative depended, even more than the first, on holding back information from the reader (as opposed to from the characters), which is fine once or twice but gets tiresome when repeated constantly, especially when there's an air of "look how clever the characters are! Look how clever the author is!" and I got a bit annoyed with this device.
There are some interesting and appealing relationships, both m/f and m/m, but as I mentioned last week, I also ship the noncanonical but subtextual Nina/Inej. But in general I really liked all the main characters, and I liked all the canonical relationships to some degree. Also I am in need of a crossover with Gentleman Bastards or Old Theradane.
What I'm reading now:
The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #3) by Rick Riordan, YAY! And it's delightful. Though a little odd to be reading with my eyeballs, since I listened to the others as audiobook, especially with Norse terms that are spelled a bit differently than they are pronounced. I was pleased to see my favorite crackship finally making an appearance (skip) Riptide's a babe, apparently! And Jack, true to form, is smitten! Pen/Pendant is best sword ship!! Also, having a Norse name misheard as "Bigly" made me choke laughing.
I read another couple of chapters of Fly By Night but it's mostly on hold until I finish the Magnus Chase.
I'm still listening to Airborn by Kenneth Oppel while pool-running, and I think I might be getting close to the Thrilling Climax, though the waterproof mp3 player I have makes it impossible to tell how far I am into the book. It's very much Boys' Own Adventure (with plucky heroine friend) in Alternate Steampunkish World, a little silly, but entertaining.
What I'm reading next:
Might try to get hold of Provenance by Ann Leckie. I just looked at my to-read list and, gah. So much to read! I still haven't read the currently-last Expanse book.
What I'm watching now:
We have two episodes left of Westworld, which for Reasons we will likely watch tonight and tomorrow night. It's a weird and unsettling show, and I hope that the threads will start tying themselves together next season, because there are so many fascinating ideas and I will be disappointed if they don't GO somewhere.
What I'm watching next:
I am going to be on my own for up to 10 days beginning Friday afternoon, so maybe I should watch something that B wouldn't care for. If you've got a rec for something on Amazon Prime or Crunchyroll (or other free method) that I might get fannish about, I'm open to suggestions. Though...
What I'm playing now:
Still Dragon Age: Origins. I'm a bit put out because I apparently started my romance too late to trigger a necessary conversation in order to make it work right. Also I'm always too full up with inventory. I got bored for a while and only picked at the game. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the quest involving escaping prison, so I'm more excited now, and since as I said I'm going to have a lot of free time next week, I will probably play a lot.
What I'm playing next:
If I lose interest in DA and all the DLC quests I have available, I might fire up Witcher 2 and see how that goes. At least I'll finally be able to understand the half of the fandom that's based on characters from it!
Work continues to be ridiculously busy because in addition to my own job, they keep adding things to my to do list from jobs that aren't currently filled, so I'm doing three people's jobs. It's bullshit, and I would rant but I'm not locking the post so. Whatever. I don't get paid nearly enough for this.
Yesterday, I got an email from the realtor, who'd gotten an email from the management agent who was like, "There's no estimated monthly mortgage payment in this loan commitment letter" and I said to myself, says I, "I wondered about the exact same thing!" So the loan officer forwarded the loan estimate letter that I'd gotten back in September with the estimated monthly payment. They also wanted proof of my "bonus" since it wasn't listed in my salary verification letter so I had to send them the pay stub and the letter explaining it as a "one time extra wage payment" since that is what they call it in order to not have to tax it like a bonus, but it was a deposit that shows up on my bank statement and then in my taxable income and therefore needs an explanation. Luckily, after all that was forwarded, the agent said she was sending the application to the board for their review, so hopefully I get called for an interview soon.
In other news, I got a clean bill of health from the dentist, so I'm free from that for another six months. Of course, I totally ruined the minty fresh feel of my mouth by having cheesy garlic bread for dinner, but eh, sometimes a woman needs cheesy garlic bread, bad breath be damned.
Wednesday reading meme:
What I've just finished
The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #3) by Rick Riordan, which I enjoyed a lot, especially the ( spoilers )
What I'm reading now
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman, the Practical Magic prequel focusing on the aunts. I love the aunts! I love seeing them as young women! I love everything to do with them and their relationship with their aunt who fills the role for them that they do for Sally and Gillian in PM.
I do not love their super special most handsomest and most powerfulest baby brother who ( spoilers )
What I'm reading next
Too many books to pick one out of the pack just yet!
* Another quote from The Murderbot Diaries: Artifcial Condition for Book Quote Wednesday on Twitter: https://marthawells.tumblr.com/post/
Some of her teachers have requested Kleenex donations, so I can take those at the same time.
Cordelia has an appointment at 5:45, so we won't have time to waste on the way home. I wish the bus website was actually reliable about the bus that goes between Skyline and downtown. There are two or three different route variants (I've seen the A and C. I'm assuming there must be a B).
We'll get home from the appointment just in time to have friends over at 7:00.
I need to figure out a way to get myself to bed earlier in the evening. Scott and Cordelia really, really want me to watch TV with them which pushes getting ready for bed to 9:00 at which point, Cordelia generally wants to shower. I think that what I need to do is to get a second tube of toothpaste and to keep that and my toothbrush and bite splint in the kitchen so that I don't have to wait for her to get to done to be able to deal with that bit of my routine.
I still have the problem that 8:00 or 9:00 is the point when my writing brain suddenly turns itself on with great enthusiasm. Given that I can't get my body to nap, I have a choice between sleep and writing that's pretty frustrating.
- Ella Enchanted - Very pretty reworking of some of the fairy tale tropes, especially focused on the fickleness of fairy gifts and human nature. There are some cringy scenes, and I really really struggle with the pushing of the agenda finding a perfect ever after partner is a thing that teenage girls/young women should be looking for (and yes, a little bit there is that for the young man, but he seemed that bit older). I'm dithering on giving this one away, or whether I would watch it again (will check with youngest). 7/10
- Finding Neverland - Aii, movies that make me cranky. There is 'based on a true story', and then there is 'killing someone off at the wrong point in history so that you can make a scandal where there wouldn't have been one'. Supposedly about JM Barrie, his friendship with the Llewellyn-Davies family, and the writing of Peter Pan. I'm not intending to ever watch this one again, because shouting at the screen is not actually one of my hobbies, regardless of how much I indulge in it. 3/10
- Hinterland, S1E1 "Devil's Bridge". Billed as a "Welsh Noir Crime Thriller", it wasn't surprising that this was on the dark side, and that the crime aspects opened with quite the nasty crime scene. There are a lot of dark elements in this story, and in some ways it isn't the opening murder that is the darkest part. I'm hoping that some of these will continue into the other episodes of the season, because there are historical crimes/events referenced that haven't been dealt with. I'm not going to specifically reference them here, because learning about them is an important part of the story, and wouldn't want to spoiler people who might be inclined to watch it.
- ICO: Castle in the Mist by Miyuki Miyabe. Novelisation of the computer game of the same name. Very pretty story, lush language and detailed set pieces. Pacing is a bit wonky, probably reflecting said origins as a computer game. Some fascinating world-building, but no idea how true it might be to the original game. 8/10
- The Traitor and the Tunnel by Y S Lee. In this, the third of the four existing Mary Quinn mysteries, author Y S Lee has upped the ante, sending Mary in to the royal household to investigate a sequence of petty thefts. The story feels even more convoluted than the previous one that I read, which is quite the challenge. Characterisation is detailed and considered, the world-building and sense of place descriptive and evocative (although more so at the visual level than the tactile or olfactory), while the story thunders on at a great rate. An enjoyable read. 8/10
- The Wicked and the Divine: Imperial Phase Part 1 by Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson/Cowles (Vol 5 of the trade paper back collections of the comics; issues 23-28). The conspiracy elements are ramping up, the remaining avatars are splitting in to camps, and the woman who might have been able to explain what was going on shared tidbits of information unevenly amongst her favourites before her death (in a previous volume) so no-one really has any idea of how bad things are going to get. The plot line of the coming Great Darkness gets a lot of attention, and the morality of the gods gets delved into. 9/10
I'll note that I'm not being particularly critical in my reading, or it might just be that these three really were all of a level. I enjoyed them, I'd probably be willing to reread them, but I'm not really feeling like recommending them all over the place. Except maybe the Lee, because actually that one has a lot of really interesting details that I don't see elsewhere (the graphic novels have a new conceit, but there are two many complex conspiracy theory comics out there for me to point to this one as special).
In Crossovering, I want to mention that sovay said that my gift fic Frank & the Phoenix is perfectly readable without knowing David Blaize (it's a crossover with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Frank Maddox/Newt Scamander) and actually, I think that as long as you are familiar with the Harry Potter-verse, it should be fine. Other Crossovering stories I particularly liked:
And Bide the Danger (6764 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling, Chronicles of Narnia - C. S. Lewis
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Amelia Bones/Susan Pevensie, Amelia Bones & Edgar Bones, Aslan & Susan Pevensie, Amelia Bones & Alastor Moody, Edgar Bones/Original Female Character(s)
Additional Tags: Crossovers & Fandom Fusions, The Problem of Susan, Temporal Paradox, Department of Mysteries, Dark Character, Deus Ex Machina, Investigations
Summary: Susan Pevensie: former Unspeakable, legendary beauty, possible Dark witch. A young Amelia Bones, eager to make her mark on MLE, has just been assigned to track her down. But the further Amelia proceeds with her investigation, the more questions she uncovers - especially once she meets Susan herself.
The Start of a Long Summer (1676 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Chronicles of Narnia - C. S. Lewis
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Azula (Avatar), Tumnus
Additional Tags: Crossover, Attempted Kidnapping
Summary: Azula steps through a wardrobe to find a kidnapping faun and a wintry kingdom ripe for regime change.
There are also two lovely artworks for due South/Lost Girl, and although I'm not familiar with Lost Girl I certainly can recognize the dS characters in Bob Pays a Visit to the Travelers and Kenzi Meets Diefenbaker. ETA Lost Girl, not Lost! Shows how much I know about either canon...
In the Femslashex collection, I particularly liked these:
The Part of Her Hair (10596 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Mary Bennet/Original Female Character
Characters: Mary Bennet, Original Female Character, Lydia Bennet, Kitty Bennet
Additional Tags: Falling In Love, Family Bonding
Summary: Miss Gibson said, “In the spirit of truthful admission, Miss Bennet, I intend to spend some time devising the right question for you. If I may see you again?”
Why did that sound strange? But she always sounded strange to people herself. And it was a familiar kind of strangeness, as if it were something she had heard before, only not like this.
Mary, constrained by the principles of truth, could only admit that she would enjoy that very much.
A Golden Thread Between Hearts (1633 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Seasons of Glass and Iron - Amal El-Mohtar
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Tabitha (Seasons of Glass and Iron), Amira (Seasons of Glass and Iron)
Additional Tags: Post-Canon, First Kiss
Summary: Tabitha and Amira travel, and grow, and love.
(The canon for the second is a freely-available short story I recced before: Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar, which is f/f fairytale fantasy with an edge of grimdark.)
There are actually many other excellent stories in both collections, and I encourage you to browse!
The Orville, from day one, has been pretty clear about what it is as a show, and it's not what we thought it was going to be or what the trailers promised. It's not a space sitcom full of Family Guy style jokes. It's not in the Galaxy Quest vein. It's a pretty straightforward episodic modern take on Star Trek, created with deep respect for Roddenberry's ideals. Its particular lens on the material is a focus on the mundane: What if life in Starfleet was like a typical modern office? Your boss's boss is generally a decent guy but he sometimes says sexist things and he's in the middle of getting over an ugly divorce that sometimes bleeds his personal life into his professional life. Some of your co-workers are so burnt out they couldn't give a shit as long as it doesn't affect them. Your manager is way too inexperienced and seems uncomfortable giving orders. The fart jokes from the trailers, it turns out, weren't pointless sitcom props- they're character beats about how Starfleet means you are living 24/7 among your co-workers, and that means figuring out how to share bathrooms with people who are not like you. It's surprisingly well done.
I've been enjoying it, for the most part, though its basic mundanity sometimes blends awkwardly with its Roddenberry idealism. The Very Special Episode about transgender issues didn't quite fit together for me- the jokiness clashed with the seriousness of the question, making the question sometimes seem more trivial than it is. But I loved some moments from the episode- I loved seeing the human crew initially confronting the question from a position of revulsion- of course we in the Federation don't decide the gender of an infant, we let the infant grow up and make their own choice! It's no more obviously the right position- the Federation still clearly is a culture where cultural programming about gender roles matters. Still, it's so striking in just the right Star Trek way to say "Let's posit a future where a liberal orthodoxy about transgender issues has been completely adopted as a cultural norm... how does that liberal orthodoxy react to people taking a different approach to gender issues?"
Then there's Star Trek Discovery. I have no idea what to say about it yet. I don't understand it as a show. The first two episodes don't feature the ship Discovery that the show is named after, or most of its main characters. They're decent television, and the special effects are spectacular and leave The Orville in the dust, but they don't seem to have much connection to what the show is in its next two episodes.
It seems to be wrestling with what does Starfleet look like at war, except that unlike some past versions of the same, it doesn't entirely seem to be working from the expected premise that Starfleet at war is a fundamentally irresolvable tension. The first two episodes revolve around a mutiny driven by a violation of the apparent principle that Starfleet never shoots first, then the subsequent two episodes seem to revolve around a captain who has been charged by Starfleet to do whatever it takes to win the war. What does this version of Starfleet stand for? I don't know. What does this version of the Klingon empire stand for? Other than speaking endlessly in subtitled Klingon, making ST:D practically a foreign film, I don't know. Thus far, there's been very few scenes in the show not on the Shenzhou, the Discovery, or a Klingon vessel. Almost nothing on alien worlds, very little about alien races besides the Klingons and Vulcans. There is so little of what we expect from Star Trek here.
Amidst this general confusion of purpose, I've enjoyed moments. Sonequa Martin-Green's Michael Burnham, the only character on the show who's been at all fleshed out, is intriguing and well-acted, the brilliant loner so convinced of her own competence that she thinks as long as she survives and gives it her best, she can take everyone else along with her. Jason Isaacs has made the most of his limited work so far, giving off an extremely Shatnerian vibe in spite of the very different material he's being given to deliver. Anthony Rapp has been fun as a hardass engineer, and Mary Wiseman has been really effective as a mood lightener as Cadet Tilly.
I'm going to keep watching both shows- it'll be interesting to see where they go.
In other news, I just wrote and deleted a writing rant, but suffice it to say, "start as close to the end as possible" remains one of the best and most useful bits of writing advice I ever heard.
I posted a story for weissvsaiyuki today. I still have four WIP that I would love to complete for the challenge, but I don't know if I'll manage any of them.
Title: One More Folded Sunset
Fandom: Weiss Kreuz
Pairing: Crawford/Schuldig, background Crawford/Manx
Tags: Implied/referenced rape/non-con, Implied/referenced torture, Alternate universe - canon divergence, Alternate universe - dark, Ambiguous/open ending, Amnesia
//Brad, where the fuck are we?// Once he was sure he had a connection to Brad’s mind, he opened his eyes. He felt safer that way.
//Schuldig? I wasn’t— No. That’s not true.// Brad sounded uncertain, fragmented even, in a way that scared Schuldig even more than the odd landscape and his inability to stop walking. //The hill doesn’t look that big, but it will probably take you another half an hour to get here. Things… stretch. Sort of. You’re being watched. She can’t hear when we talk like this, but she’s watching, and she’ll hear if you speak out loud. I’d come to meet you, but… I can’t. I’ll explain when you get here.//
Schuldig knew Brad well enough to know when he was lying. You’re not going to explain anything. Well, we’ve been there before. I’ll get it one way or another. He rubbed his face with one hand. Why don’t I remember anything to explain this?
The story at AO3.
Title: Poor Dog
Characters: Dee, Ryo, OFC, Dog.
Setting: After the manga.
Summary: Out for a walk on a windy day, Dee and Ryo come across a lost dog with a rather unfortunate name.
Word Count: 1488
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge 206: Name.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
( Poor Dog... )
-Voltron Season 4 was also great!
-Work has been crap!
-I am slowly formulating ideas for my yulefic!
-I am full of brownies and cheese. so so so full.
That is all, I am up too late, but at least you get this Lucky you?