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[personal profile] bookgazing
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Reading Amal El-Mohtar's "Pockets" sent me rushing back to re-read "The Truth About Owls". I read this odd story when it first appeared online in January, and my strongest memory of that reading is an intense respect for the author's craft but also a deep sense of confusion about the story's publication in Strange Horizons. Calling "The Truth About Owls" an SFF story felt tenuous even to me - a reader who loves to see genre boundaries set aflame.

What a difference new reading circumstances can make. Having excised my thoughts on 'real SFF' in my post about Sophia Samatar's "Walkdog", and having recently read Silvia Morento-Garcia's weirdly normal SFF novel Signal to Noise, I approached my second reading of "The Truth About Owls" with much less genre weight on my back. Before, I was mildly in love with this story. Now, I've reached the shouting-from-the-rooftops-let's analyse-this-in-depth stage. I can tell you're all super excited about that.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Book cover of Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia


Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles's half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven't spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that's been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible. (Source)


Both Ana and I reviewed One Crazy Summer, the first of Rita Williams-Garcia's books about the three Gaither sisters, their Pa, Grandma (Big Ma) and their activist mother. Join us as we (sadly) see the trilogy finish up and co-review the final book, Gone Crazy in Alabama.

Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[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. )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[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 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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[personal profile] bookgazing
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Everyone thinks my brother is nice. He set up a rescue centre for birds, after the terraforming accident poisoned the lake. That's always the image of him, holding a bird covered in sludge. The birds are never the same after they're cleaned, but the gossips never talk about that.


Polenth Blake's "Never the Same" is a strange, dark story that shows the importance of shaking up well used SFF narratives and introducing radically new fictional voices. It's also a story that left me wondering if I could trust anything that I'd read, and yet still weirdly satisfied by what I'd read.

A little like "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" it's difficult to analyse "Never the Same" without giving away all the story's secrets, so consider this your spoiler warning.

Read more... )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[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 102, "Chariots of War"


Clare: Because "Chariots of War" doesn't have any worldbuilding or character introduction to do, there's a little less territory to cover here. Xena discretely deposits Gabrielle in an inn before wandering off to do… something? Because of the camp nature of the show, I tend to riff when I watch the episodes, so riff!Xena clearly abandoned Gabrielle. But I'm not sure what actual Xena was up to before she wandered across the peaceful village.

The episode's character development reaffirms the basic Xena and Gabrielle dynamic: Xena is hard and closed off, Gabrielle is soft and open. But they both get love interests this episode to prove these things. Darius is a father and a committed pacifist, representing the domestic sphere that Xena wants but can't allow herself to have just yet. The best way to represent these conflicting emotions, of course, is for Xena to put on his dead wife's dress in soft lighting and bad weather. (Also, dressing a woman in your dead wife's clothes is not going to convince anyone that you're not sleeping together.)Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
I'm engaged in an ongoing battle with Kate Elliott's backlist. Currently, her backlist is winning. I've knocked out the Spiritwalker trilogy, Jaran, Spirit Gate, and now part of The Very Best of Kate Elliott for a total of 5 (and a half). Only 17 more to go (19 if we count the upcoming Court of Fives and The Black Wolves). Is there anyone out there who has finished everything? Did they ever return from their quest? I feel like everyone who does should get a celebratory ribbon or certificate of some kind. I may print myself one when I finish. She's written nineteen fucking books not to mention ancillary content and short fiction. Why is she not a guest of honor at every single convention in the United States? Get it together, SF convention culture, geez. Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
cover of Stranger


Many generations ago, a mysterious cataclysm struck the world. Governments collapsed and people scattered, to rebuild where they could. A mutation, "the Change,” arose, granting some people unique powers. Though the area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, its technological marvels have faded into legend. "Las Anclas" now resembles a Wild West frontier town… where the Sheriff possesses superhuman strength, the doctor can warp time to heal his patients, and the distant ruins of an ancient city bristle with deadly crystalline trees that take their jewel-like colors from the clothes of the people they killed.

Teenage prospector Ross Juarez’s best find ever – an ancient book he doesn’t know how to read – nearly costs him his life when a bounty hunter is set on him to kill him and steal the book. Ross barely makes it to Las Anclas, bringing with him a precious artifact, a power no one has ever had before, and a whole lot of trouble. (source)


Friends, I am conflicted about this book.

(Now I'm wondering how many of my book posts start like that. Probably a ton.) Read more... )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
If you like ~forbidden romance~, ghosts, spaceships, epic fantasy space opera, wildly different types of characters and cultures with complicated motivations and plans, the intense politics of war spliced together with the politics of parenthood and freedom of choice, you may, indeed, love Saga. Saga is an award winning, ongoing comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. It's beloved for good reasons, and Renay and Ana were quickly won over by the art, the story, and the amazing characters.

And also, of course, the cats.


cover of Saga


When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. (source)

Text and image spoilers through volume three.

Ana: So… shall we start by talking about Hazel? :D Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
What does it mean when a book is released as YA fantasy in one country but adult fantasy in another? What IS epic fantasy, anyway? Should everyone read One Piece (YES)? Does it matter if most of the awesome parts of a book have to be found in hindsight and require qualification? Are revenge narratives over kingdoms even interesting anymore? Does Joe Abercrombie like pain and suffering to the exclusion of everything else*? Renay and Ana from The Book Smugglers tackle these questions and more using thousands and thousands of words.

* lies; we don't tackle this at all, because the answer is obviously yes.


cover and blurb although the blurb got a little overwhelmed with itself )




Spoilers.

Renay: So, that happened. Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay


Jo, the firstborn, "The General" to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father's townhouse to await the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their distant and controlling father, until the day he decides to marry them all off.

The girls, meanwhile, continue to dance, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn't seen in almost ten years. Suddenly Jo must weigh in the balance not only the demands of her father and eleven sisters, but those she must make of herself. (source)


Everyone kept telling me to read this, so hey friends: YOU WIN. You were all 100% correct, and I shouldn't have looked at you dubiously when I heard the words "fairy tale retelling". I apologize for doubting you, especially Ana, since you think I would've learned my lesson after Chime and The 10 PM Question specifically (I will never learn my lesson, probably). Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies


For hundreds of years the Guardians have ruled the world of the Hundred, but these powerful gods no longer exert their will on the world. Only the reeves, who patrol on enormous eagles, still represent the Guardians' power. And the reeves are losing their authority; for there is a dark shadow across the land that not even the reeves can stop.

A group of fanatics has risen to devour villages, towns, and cities in their drive to annihilate all who oppose them. No one knows who leads them; they seem inhumanly cruel and powerful. Mai and Anji, riding with a company of dedicated warriors and a single reeve who may hold a key to stopping the deadly advance of the devouring horde, must try, or the world will be lost to the carnage. But a young woman sworn to the Goddess may prove more important than them all . . . if they are not too late.


Spoilers. Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
Just when I think that Teen Wolf has gone over too many sharks and I'm going to shunt it aside for more quality television, they do something like "117". It's like finding a treasure chest or a health pack right before a surprise mini-boss. I had fun this episode, and thus, I am appropriately terrified for "Muted", which I'm sure will take all the good feelings this episode engendered, turn them into shards of my hopes and dreams, and sprinkle them at my feet.

Teen Wolf does amazing things when it embraces that its premise is silly and departs from that place rather than trying to manufacture drama. As long as it keeps its eye on the prize of "Maximum LOLs" or "Maximum TEARS", episodes tend to be enjoyable. It's obvious that Jeff Davis wasn't the main writer on this episode because although it gets lobbed at our eyeballs like a 45 minute youtube video by someone who's just learned how to use jump cuts, it manages to stay mildly cohesive. I know zilch about critiquing screenwriting, but seriously, the last ten minutes were exhausting. I want to ask Eoghan O'Donnell if this was on purpose. I had narrative whiplash. O'Donnell wrote "Galvanize", too, which was one of the excellent, tense episodes at the start of Season 3B, but I don't remember it being quite this high-strung. Even more guilt for Derek Hale. )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
cover, blurb, etc. )

The Expanse continues to be my favorite space opera series. I love it so much, friends. SO MUCH. That means I will continue to harass everyone to read the series. Sorry, Ana and Jodie, you're screwed. Just picture me lurking around your to-be-read-lists, casually inserting Leviathan Wakes (background reading) and Caliban's War (my real goal) every time you remove them. That's why you keep finding them there. I admit it. It's been me this whole time.

I love it so much I want it to be PERFECT so I can continue reccing it obnoxiously. As per usual, the harder I love something the more I'm often trapped going, "Well, this is GREAT but these things are here aren't so awesome…" and then it's a spiral into I Complain Because I Love.

Leviathan Wakes, why are you so TROUBLESOME? )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
cover for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe


'Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.' (source)


Spoilers.

Read more... )

Other Review )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
Emma stands behind Snow, who is dressed in her curse world contemporary clothes but holds a bow and arrow


Once Upon a Time’s first season brought us a wonderfully campy fantasy show with a cast full of all kinds of women. Its second season lost the thread a little bit, but Jodie and Clare were already hooked. Watch them tackle the show’s second season, from beloved ships to skeevy pirates to the show’s race problem.


Clare has already jumped into season three, while Jodie's UK location as usual puts her woefully behind on the US show gossip. Expect blunt spoilers for season two and vaguer hints about season three. )

Here’s hoping that Once Upon a Time starts being a little more cohesive and lady-centric come season three. Jodie is waiting for season three to come to her side of the Pond. Clare is watching season three Stateside on Sundays with increasing delight and incredulity.
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
Raven render in bold black strokes of a paintbrush with a glowing red center.


"There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve," Neeve said. "Either you’re his true love…or you killed him."

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore (source).


Seriously, screw this book, all its feelings, its twists that gutted me, and its characterizations that made me want to rip my heart out and chuck it across the room so I could just stop the misery. Fuck this book for having, apparently, three follow ups, the second of which only came out this September. My rage over the fact that I'll have to wait yet another year for more after The Dream Thieves is eclipsed only by my love of these characters as they find each other, discover one another's secrets, and begin to tie themselves together with friendship and magic. Read more... )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
Book cover for Cold Magic which shows a front facing image of Cat Barahal. She has dark hair curly hair. To the left side of her is a curlicue pattern and behind her is something that looks like machinery. The bottom of the cover shows a blue mountain range.


It is the dawn of a new age... The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy.

“I was not a bard or a djeli or an historian or a scribe and I was certainly not a sage, but that didn't mean I wasn't curious…”

Young Cat Barahal thinks she understands the world she lives in and her place in it, but in fact she is merely poised, unaware, on the brink of shattering events. Drawn into a labyrinth of politics involving blood, betrayal and old feuds, she will be forced to make an unexpected and perilous journey in order to discover the truth, not just about her own family but about an ancient secret lying at the heart of her world.

Cat and her cousin Bee are part of this revolution. Young women at college, learning of the science that will shape their future and ignorant of the magics that rule their families. But all of that will change when the Cold Mages come for Cat. New dangers lurk around every corner and hidden threats menace her every move. If blood can't be trusted, who can you trust?
(source)


Renay and Jodie present an epic co-review, with extreme spoilers, of some epic fantasy. How appropriate. tl;dr )

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Queer lady geek Clare was raised by French wolves in the American South. more? » twitter icon webpage icon

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