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Clare & Renay's Adventures in: Xena


In a time without a Black Widow movie on the horizon, two fans in turmoil cried out for a heroine. She was Xena, a mighty female protagonist forged in the fires of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The action, the camp, the queer subtext. Her adventures will rock their worlds.


Xena: Episode 107, "The Titans"


Clare: Basically, this episode is about Gabrielle feeling inadequate in Xena's eyes, which is not true at all. Luckily for Gabrielle, she wanders into a religious ceremony where she frees three Titans and gets command of them, so, for once, she's technically more powerful than Xena. Gabrielle's little change in expression from "OH MY GOD THOSE ARE TITANS!" to "oh yes of course I am a goddess do my bidding" is lovely. The episode does end by Gabrielle apologizing for being power hungry, but she doesn't come off as power hungry, just luxuriating in new power that is, of course, new agency. Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Today we're excited to welcome [tumblr.com profile] justira to Lady Business to talk about Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. Ira is an awesome illustrator, writer, and web developer. You can find more of Ira's work at their tumblr.





lime green cover of Grasshopper Jungle with two lines forming a V to denote the antenna of a grasshopper


I want to say that Grasshopper Jungle did one thing well but—honestly, I can't. I want to like that it has a bisexual protagonist and a love triangle that never collapses but I can't call the love triangle well done when one of its legs it underdeveloped and treated so poorly by the narrative. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Grasshopper Jungle blends pulpy—almost kitschy—Cold War era sci fi, a historical immigration account, and a small-town coming of age story. It's also written by someone who self-admittedly knows nothing about female folks, which is a bit unfortunate seeing as one of the alleged main characters is female. The novel fell flat or me in almost every aspect, with only a few bright notes: sometimes the writing and substance came together to say something interesting about the human impulse towards history-making, and the relationship between the protagonist, Austin, and his best friend, Robby, is well-developed and well-sustained. However, this is all embedded in a narrative that not only features rape apologia and massive fat shaming, but also constantly fails its female characters. And to top off that parade, the apocalyptic premise never manages to quite gel with the beating teenaged heart of the story.

I should be happy that a book with a bisexual protagonist is getting so much attention. But I can't support a book that fails on so many social and technical levels.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
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.


Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
The guest posts keep coming! We knew no one could resist the chance to throw out hundreds of words about female villains. Next up is Amy who lives in Southern California and occasionally maintains the blog My Friend Amy which recently turned eleven! She loves stories in all their forms, arguing about sports, and over committing herself to various projects.


Psycho is one of the best known horror films of all time and the actual psychosis behind the actions of Norman Bates in the film continue to intrigue. So much so that a few years ago, A&E greenlit a backstory to the film in the form of a TV show—Bates Motel Despite the eye rolling that was to be done over Hollywood’s lack of original ideas, the concept was fresh in some ways. The story was to be set in present day. And even more interesting was the prominent role Norman’s mother would play. The real flesh and blood mother before she became nothing but a corpse in the fruit cellar.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Our next guest post comes from Lady Business regular, Memory Scarlett. Memory writes about books, television, and more at her blog, In the Forest of Stories. You can also find her moaning about her taco addiction and her various fictional preoccupations on Twitter as @xicanti. She’s currently trying not to dive straight into an epic BTVS rewatch; when she loses the battle, Twitter will be the first to know.


Glory, seated in chair with stick


I love a good villain as much as the next person, but I usually draw a blank when people ask me about my favourites. So many of the evil folks I latch onto are really antiheroes; the sort of characters who could just as easily switch sides, if they thought it might be to their advantage. They do ghastly things, but since they can also be sympathetic there’s always that small hope they’ll recognize the error of their ways and, like, stop being evil. It’s rare for me to get truly excited about an out-and-out villain.

Glory, the antagonist of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s stellar fifth season, is the exception. She is an unequivocal villain, and I love her to death.

Prior to Glory’s arrival in Sunnydale, the Scooby Gang deals with an assortment of down-to-earth villains including vampires who want to eat all the humans; unsouled ex-lovers with psychological torment on their minds; immortal sorcerers who lust after demonic levels of power; and governmental agencies bent on scientifically qualifying magic. They’re great villains, yeah, and they pose a real threat to the Scoobies, but not a one of ‘em is on the same level as Glory. She might deign to wrinkle her nose at them, or shoot a snarky comment their way if they’re particularly lucky, but that’s about as far as Glory would ever involve herself with that sort of rabble.

Because Glory is a god. Literally. And she’s not just any old god--she’s a mad, banished hell god determined to return to her realm at any cost.

She’s the worst, and that makes her the best.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
'But what of female villains? Perhaps I’m just not reading the right meta, but it’s always seemed a bit glaring to me that, whereas (for instance) there are endless paeans to the moral complexity and intricate personal histories of the Buffyverse’s Spike and Angel, their female counterparts, Drusilla and Darla, never seem to merit the same degree of compulsive protection.' (Gender, Orphan Black & The Meta of Meta by Foz Meadows)

Jodie has emotions about Morgana Pendragon approximately five times a day. So, when Foz Meadows mentioned the need for more meta examining the moral complexity of female villains Jodie got to scheming.

Months later, our Female Villains theme week is finally here! Get ready to go Metaphysical, party with ladies who start fires and share all your love for female villains. We begin with a guest essay from Foz Meadows herself; the author of Solace and Grief and The Key to Starveldt, and editor of Speculative Fiction 2015.


I have gone out, a possessed witch
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.1


Bad women disobey.

This is the crux, the core truth, of our historically gendered ideas about villainy. Bad men are complicated: they have tragic pasts and hidden agendas, fascinating pathologies and extenuating circumstances; they are political animals, mavericks, monsters, kings and brigands and renegades. They differ from each other in innumerable ways, but while some of them might be misogynists or hypermasculine zealots, the thing that makes them bad is never their gender itself, but only their particular means of expressing it. Bad men are not representative of all men – not culturally, anyway; not at the level of shared narratives – but for centuries of storytelling, bad women have been representative of all women. Our villainy is a stain we brought upon ourselves and which, like Lady Macbeth's damned spot, refuses to wash clean.

And bad women disobey.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Clare & Renay's Adventures in: Xena


In a time without a Black Widow movie on the horizon, two fans in turmoil cried out for a heroine. She was Xena, a mighty female protagonist forged in the fires of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The action, the camp, the queer subtext. Her adventures will rock their worlds.


Xena: Episode 106, "The Reckoning"


Clare: Why is Teracles' girlfriend a Viking? I realize that ancient Greek clothing is quite, uh, diverse in the Xenaverse, but that girl is wearing a Viking dress and sporting two perfect blonde braids. That girl should be raiding somewhere way more North. Although the villagers in this episode do sport a black guy, so Xena!Greece is mildly diverse! Yay. Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
cover of Bone Gap by Laura Ruby


The quote on the cover of Bone Gap should have been an immediate "YOU SHALL NOT PASS", because although it's a quote from E. Lockhart (a writer I love) it also invokes magical realism which almost always makes me nervous.

"Bone Gap marks Laura Ruby as one of fiction's most original voices. She is capable of moving you to tears, terrifying you on deep and dreamlike levels, and making your heart shout with happiness. This book is magic realism at its most magical."

Okay, but...magical realism. What is magical realism, anyway? Every time I think I know I realize I don't actually know. It's like another language. Unless you use it every day you lose it. How did I earn an English degree without properly learning all these different terms? Is it writing that's suggestive of magic? A book that uses magic in otherwise normal realities? A type of story that feels magical but isn't (I hear people call The Girls at the Kingfisher Club magical realism sometimes). The label people give something, as Ana suggests, when they don't want to stick a fantasy label on it and appeal to mainstream readers?

I've read Wikipedia now so I know my vote, but this is a personal decision everyone needs to make for themselves. GOOD LUCK.

It's such a tremendously well-done novel that I really wish it owned its anchor genre more. Making up my own literary terms to serve my needs and apply to books without permission: FIVE BONUS POINTS. People who loved Chime by Franny Billingsley will find similar ideas in this book (but with more bees, corn, and male perspectives). They'd also be a fascinating co-read together. There are no spoilers for the plot, but I do discuss the themes the book tackles. There are also puns, which I assume many people will want to avoid. I'm sorry. I love a good pun. )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Red, white and blue Short Business logo


Renay: For this edition of Short Business, picture me ushering Jodie into a small room with a single light bulb swinging from a chain in the ceiling, a small table, and two chairs. I hustle her into a seat and say, "So I've heard you been reading some short fiction. It's time to talk about your favorites with me, OR ELSE." Never let it be said that I don't have a sense for the dramatic.

We've both made a pact to read and talk more short fiction — Short Business has been great for that — but I thought it was time for a dedicated moment to talk about the five favorites we may not have had time to review so far this year. Jodie, what's your first choice?

Jodie: I'm going to start with "Toad Words" by Ursula Vernon (flash fiction). "Toad Words" is a reworking of Charles Perrault's fairy tale "Toads and Diamonds" where two sisters are gifted with the ability to speak objects into existence. In the original tale one girl produces jewels, diamonds and flowers while the other brings forth frogs, toads and snakes. As you can imagine this causes conflict. Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
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.


Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
cover of Unspoken cover of Untold cover of Unmade


I flew through The Lynburn Legacy in two weeks. I can hear everyone going, "that word, I don't think it means what you think it means, Renay" right now, but all the other things in my life, two weeks for a trilogy is a big deal. Considering I start trilogies and never finish them (how long has Bitterblue been on my shelf? Don't ask. Mostly because I couldn't tell you, it's been that long.) "flew" absolutely works in this context. I was surprised that this series worked for me so well given my preferences about love triangles (i.e. short walk, long pier) and my capacity to handle literary heartbreak. But I— liked it a lot? I was really entertained!
  • sassy teenagers
  • broody love interests! with different flavors of brood!
  • interesting parental relationships
  • badass team of ladies!
  • girls being friends!
  • kissing!
  • telepathy!
  • the complications of mind-reading powers!

I found this so delightful.

The premise of Unspoken, the first book in the trilogy, is that Kami Glass, who lives with her family in Sorry-in-the-Vale, hears a boy in her head. She's had Jared in her head her whole life, and he's had her in his. They know each other intimately and they're always there for each other, just a thought away. Meanwhile, Kami's world is expanding because the mysterious Lynburns, who the whole town speaks of in awe, have returned to Sorry-in-the-Vale after years away, and she and her school newspaper are in the perfect position to break the story. BUT SUDDENLY, Jared's not just a voice in her head anymore. no explicit spoilers, just a lot of complaining about rural university education and my ongoing misunderstanding of genre. )

This series was really fun. I suppose this means I should reread and then finish the series that The Demon's Lexicon started, like a responsible series reader. Oh, and apparently Sarah Rees Brennan has another book coming out next year that sounds excellent, Tell the Wind and Fire.

(Yes, I am going to read Bitterblue this year, friends. PUT THOSE PITCHFORKS DOWN. I'M DOING IT I SWEAR.)
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[personal profile] helloladies
Clare & Renay's Adventures in: Xena


In a time without a Black Widow movie on the horizon, two fans in turmoil cried out for a heroine. She was Xena, a mighty female protagonist forged in the fires of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The action, the camp, the queer subtext. Her adventures will rock their worlds.


Xena: Episode 105, "The Path Not Taken"


Clare: Okay, that's it, I'm totally in. Xena and Gabrielle's comedic patter is a lot of fun—"Did you ever notice that we never have a problem getting a table?"—as is Xena casually punching out every dude who looks at her funny in the tavern. I continue to be astonished by Lawless' firebreathing. Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Another month gone by; it's hard to believe we're already a quarter into 2015. This month was full of some excellent media, lots of discussion, and also some excellent guest posts! Looking back over March 2015 )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Fanwork is awesome and sharing fanwork is even more awesome. Join us as we keymash and squee over our favorite fanwork, from fic (both written and podfic) to art to vids and meta and back again.


Recommendations included:
  • Agent Carter — art (1)
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender — art (1)
  • Captain America — art (3)
  • DC Trinity — art (1)
  • Iron Man — art (1)
  • Ms. Marvel — art (1)
  • slashreport — podcast (1)
  • Teen Wolf — art (1)
  • Terry Pratchett — art (1)


On to the recs! )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Today we're excited to welcome [tumblr.com profile] justira back to to Lady Business to talk about Mockingjay Part 1. Ira is an awesome illustrator, writer, and web developer who gained their powers by consuming the bones of their enemies. They make art, comics, and writing when they are not distracted by way too many video games. You can find more of Ira's work at their tumblr.





Mockingjay's recent release to DVD has reignited my ambivalence towards the movie— don't get me wrong, it's great having another female-led spec fic film, especially one with Natalie Dormer running support. But the film suffered a critical lack; the ghost of the movie it could have been hovered over the film for me: the film lacked confidence. The story — the book — is, at its core, part social commentary and part inspection of PTSD. But the film adaptation lacked the boldness to pull a full genre shift, or make up for Collins's shortcomings as a writer. Spoilers for the books and movies up through Mockingjay Part 1 and its equivalent part of the book follow.

What the movie should have done was listen to its own message more. It should have listened to Haymitch.

Haymitch explains how to use Katniss effectively.

Haymitch criticized Plutarch's effort at making Mockingjay propos: they were falling flat and felt artificial. What they needed to do — what the movie needed to do — was get inside Katniss's head, inspect the authentic intersection of her internal world and the world around her. Katniss's commodification had to be contingent upon her authenticity in order to function as intended. That's when the propos were the most genuine and effective. That's when the movie shone. Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
American version of The Shattering   Australian version of The Shattering


Seventeen-year-old Keri likes to plan for every possibility. She knows what to do if you break an arm, or get caught in an earthquake or fire. But she wasn’t prepared for her brother’s suicide, and his death has left her shattered with grief. When her childhood friend Janna tells her it was murder, not suicide, Keri wants to believe her. After all, Janna’s brother died under similar circumstances years ago, and Janna insists a visiting tourist, Sione, who also lost a brother to apparent suicide that year, has helped her find some answers.

As the three dig deeper, disturbing facts begin to pile up: one boy killed every year; all older brothers; all had spent New Year’s Eve in the idyllic town of Summerton. But when their search for the serial killer takes an unexpected turn, suspicion is cast on those they trust the most.

As secrets shatter around them, can they save the next victim? Or will they become victims themselves? (source)


Spoilers.

Jodie: I remember you were a huge fan of Healey's first novel Guardian of the Dead. Do you want to start off by talking about how the experience of reading The Shattering compared to reading Guardian of the Dead? Did you enjoy it as much and if so, why? And what were your favourite elements of The Shattering?

Renay: I loved that novel! It's been some time since I read it, but I really loved the main character and the rich world building of that story. Coming away from The Shattering, though, I do think I prefer The Guardian of the Dead, although this book was fun, too. That's because this book was harder for me, because of the POV switches — first person to third — that I have a lot of trouble with while I'm reading. I get bumped out of the story, and it doesn't help I'm not wild about first person narration so the constant back and forth was really jarring. The Shattering suffered a little because of that, and it took me 70 or so pages to really get into it. Plus, I'm unsure about the pacing. But before we dig into all that, my favorite element was the renewal of friendship between Keri and Janna and watching Sione gain confidence in himself. The friendship elements here were really strong! Healey does great friendship. What about you? Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
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.


Read more... )
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[personal profile] bookgazing
Birds eye view shot of Reza getting out of a car carrying a gun by Goni Montes


Tonight it’s Shelly.

If I were capable of having feelings since Angie disappeared, I might have some for Shelly. Not because she’s finer than the rest of them—she is fine though, don’t get it twisted—but because at the beginning of the night, when she crawls into the back of my Crown Vic all prettied up and glittery, she always catches my eyes in the rearview mirror and asks me how I’m doing. Not in the concerned way but not in the throw-off way either: She really wants to know.

Anyway, I don’t think she’s into women, especially not middle-aged skinny butch ones with salt-and-pepper hair and angry lines in their faces and the memories of long lost lovers dancing around their subconsciouses.

And anyway, I’m not sixteen anymore, in fact I’m not even forty anymore and I’m not here for the quick thrill of teaching straight girls that what they really want is this, this, and this. Been there, done that. Far too many times.
And anyway: Angie.

Gee I wonder why I'm writing about this story. Ugh, Daniel José Older this was unfair - "Anyway: Angie" triple teamed me and took me down within the first few paragraphs. It pinged my chrome-ass women sensor, threw a dapper lesbian in my face and hit the big red 'emotions' buzzer with the simplest of phrases. 'And anyway: Angie.'; words that express true and strong emotional devotion as easily as a simple shoulder shrug. After I finished this story, I had to restrain myself from sending enigmatic midnight tweets like 'Weeping - this title is perfection'. I just hope Older knows that with great power comes great responsibility.

However, it wouldn't be fair to draw other readers in without handing out some spoilers about this story. Renay, you're going to want these spoilers. Character death spoilers )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Clare & Renay's Adventures in: Xena


In a time without a Black Widow movie on the horizon, two fans in turmoil cried out for a heroine. She was Xena, a mighty female protagonist forged in the fires of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The action, the camp, the queer subtext. Her adventures will rock their worlds.


Xena: Episode 104, "Cradle of Hope"


Clare: This seer is not terribly good at her job, is she? She could have avoided this entire episode by framing Gabriel as the reincarnation of the king's deceased son or as fate giving him another chance or having him just straight up adopt the baby. It was a pretty obvious, if really nice, way to end the episode, but I suppose that's some of the charm of camp: knowing exactly where we'll end up, so we can focus on the character development. That's the appeal of procedurals (be they monsters of the week or hapless town of the weeks), as my love of Elementary can attest.

Renay: The could have solved some of the plot problems here by giving the Evil Advisor less screen time and trusting the viewer to connect more of the dots. Part of the problem with the seer is that she's spelling out the resolution in the very first scene of the episode. If the child had been more secret, i.e. if the servants had overheard the prophecy, then gotten rid of the baby, and then in a following scene the evil advisor goes "A CHILD WAS BORN HERE LAST NIGHT" it would've been way more dramatic. But what do I know about television writing, right? ;)Read more... )

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Renay is a long time member of slash fandom and nerdfighteria who stumbled into book blogging by accident and decided she liked arguing with herself at length and in capslock — it was all downhill from there. more? » about.me icon twitter icon pinboard icon tumblr icon

Ana is a reader who’s been blogging about books since early 2007. After several abandoned career paths, she decided to become a librarian and currently works for a large public library system. more? » twitter icon tumblr icon last.fm icon

By day Jodie is one of those evil marketers you're always hearing about. In fact she’s an evil British marketer and probably the inspiration for the next Bond villain. more? » tumblr icon last.fm icon

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