spindizzy: A My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic style portrait of me. (Lady Business)
[personal profile] spindizzy posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Well, this sure is a mixed bag of things I read in the last month! I'm not sure how I ended up doing this weird mix of genres, mediums, age-ratings and degrees of... Let's go with quality, rather than consent, shall we? But I think I had a pretty good run of it all told, despite the fact that at least one of these books nearly got launched across a room at one point.

Books, graphic novels and manga read:
  1. Steven Seagull Action Hero by Elys Dolan

  2. The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale and LeUyen Pham

  3. Death of a Ghost by Margery Allingham

  4. Small Town Witch: Love and Wonder by Alex Singer, Jayd Aït-Kaci, Ariana Maher and Jen Doyle

  5. Small Town Witch: The Art Book by Alex Singer and Jayd Aït-Kaci

  6. Stranger in my Arms by Lisa Kleypas

  7. Behind The Scenes Volume One by Bisco Hatori

  8. Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat

  9. Prince's Gambit by C. S. Pacat

  10. Kings Rising by C. S. Pacat

Books, graphic novels, manga

Cover of Steven Seagull Action Hero Cover of The Princess In Black

1. Steven Seagull Action Hero by Elys Dolan -- I tried not to read it, I tried so hard, and yet I couldn't resist that premise (Especially when I had to take it home to make my friends groan). And for the most part it's quite funny in that "Hey, I recognise that trope!" kinda way, although there are points where that recognition is a bit "Oh for fuck's sake." (What's that you say? The hippo lifeguard is a large round lady who "rescues" people and leaves them traumatised in a corner because of how eager she is to perform the kiss of life? Oh for fuck's sake.) But apart from that it's not terrible, so it'll do!

2. The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham -- Oh, this was really cute! I love this, it has an adorable little round princess who enjoys being pink and pretty when appropriate - and then also enjoys being a hero in disguise, with her "unicorn" (it's a horse in disguise). I think it's so much fun! It's cute, it has a girl being awesome and inspiring other people, it has monsters AND nosy adults (who are both terrible problems in different ways), and -- it's just pretty great? The art is good, the writing is good, and I really enjoy reading Shannon Hale's princesses in general.

(I also recommend Shannon Hale's post about gendering books, because it has a heart-breaking anecdote about this book.)

Cover of Death of a Ghost by Magery Allingham Cover of Small Town Witch: Love and Wonder

3. Death of a Ghost by Margery Allingham -- This is really odd to describe, because the murderer is both suspected and revealed -- both to the protagonist and to the audience --really early on in the book, which is never what I expect! The writing style is really different from what I usually read, because it feels somewhat... Impersonal? Like the description is a step back from what's going on? I'm used to close third person, and this doesn't have as much of the POV characters' thoughts as I'm used to. But I think in general the story is quite well done! Even when we know whodunnit, it still does due dilligence to the "How and for god's sake why?!" (The how and why is literally the only thing I want from a mystery, this is why I've been known to read the last three chapters of mysteries and thrillers and walk away happy.) And there is a decent set-up of the house and its inhabitants, and Campion as someone who doesn't necessarily want to be involved but doesn't want his lack of involvement on his conscience? The denouement was also somewhat disappointing, but I'm pretty sure that was the point, so take that complaint with a pinch of salt.

(Also as a fair warning: there is some use of the n-word, although I don't remember it being used to describe people, and there is a really weird attitude to Italians, in that of the two I remember one is described as though she's a feral child and the other is described as... Pretty much too straight-forward to talk about things because they're obvious to her? It feels strange.)

4. Small Town Witch: Love and Wonder by Alex Singer, Jayd Aït-Kaci, Ariana Maher and Jen Doyle -- It came at last! I have been waiting for this since the initial sketches hit the internet in like 2012 and it's finally mine! *squeaks and clutches it*


Love and Wonder is a graphic novel in the literal sense; it's a pulpy noir novel, illustrated on every single page, and it looks gorgeous. [tumblr.com profile] chirart really knocked it out of the park on this one, because the art and the prose work together perfectly, especially on the sequences where the writing trails off and lets the art take over.

As for the story... It's actually what I wanted! Which is impressive considering how long there's been for me to overhype this to myself! The worldbuilding is awesome (PROHIBITION ERA WITCHCRAFT!), the action sequences are really cool and are another part where the art and the writing go well together --

(Q: Is that not what you meant before?
A: Mate, no, I meant the sex scene.)

-- with some really cool applications of magic? And Kitty Lovelace is great. I already knew the major reveal about her character from the fiction available about her (and in fact that was part of what sold me on this book!), but it was still so much fun to watch it play out?

... I really loved this book, okay, I don't want to spoil it but it is super my jam.

Cover of Stranger In My Arms Cover of Behind The Scenes Volume One by Bisco Hatori

5. Small Town Witch: Artbook by Alex Singer and Jayd Aït-Kaci -- It's quite hard to find information about this artbook online, so I'm sorry that there's not a link or a picture; the artbook was a kickstarter reward and entirely worth it. The creators go into detail about their thought process for developing the characters (my favourite line from that bit is 100% "I imagined this as a conflict between an Ernest Hemingway protagonist and an F. Scott Fitzgerald protagonist."), which is new, and there are some of Chira's inital design sketches! I think I've seen most of these before, but I am extremely stoked to have them in hardcopy. The story included in the back -- Gingerbread Boys -- is absolutely amazing, an early twentieth century magical noir take on Snow White, with bonus commentary on the treatment on immigrants to the US. It does a lot of excellent things with the magic system established in Love & Wonder, it does really novel things with the structure (My favourite part, if I'm being honest, is the fake headlines on each page, like "Mr Silver, much to general frustration, emerges as a protagonist."), the relationship between Mr Silver and Bradley Weatherford -- in fact, the relationship between Mr Silver and everyone, because there's a tone of deadpan snark and being done with everyone

6. Stranger In My Arms by Lisa Kleypas -- Guys, I know I said I wasn't going to do this again, but I am weak. The blurb sounded really interesting! It sounded like it was going to be a case of stolen identity and the shenanigans that result when that came out! But... Oh god, it was a mess. 1) The dead husband who has miraculously returned? Actual rapist before his death. The turning point in their post-return relationship? He attempts to extort his wife into having sex with him, and then can't go through with it. That is the big "Oh he's a decent human being!" moment! WHAT THE FUCK, HE WAS EXTORTING YOU! 2) There was a beautiful thirty seconds where I thought the book might have an asexual heroine from the way she talked about herself and her feelings on sex, which I knew wasn't going to happen as soon as I thought it, but I was still disappointed. 3) The plot twists are obvious pretty much from the first chapter! 4) Let's not... Let's not even talk about how this book talks about India. Let's just not. 5) WHY IS THIS MARRIAGE SO FULL OF DUBCON AND SEXUAL ASSAULT?! EVEN WHEN THE RETURNED HUSBAND IS SUPPOSED TO BE SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE ONE THAT WENT AWAY?!

Guys, if I take another Lisa Kleypas book out of the library y'all have to stop me. It's not worth it!

7. Behind The Scenes Volume One by Bisco Hatori -- Oh man, you know when you read a blurb and go "This main character sounds familiar!" Yeah, I had that with this series, because the main character sounds like me. More competent and thoughtful than me, not gonna lie, but the "EVERYTHING IS MY FAULT AND I'M REALLY SO SORRY AND I KNOW WE JUST HAD A NICE TIME BUT I'M REALLY SORRY YOU HAD TO HANG OUT WITH ME AND I HOPE YOU DON'T HATE ME?" attitude is... Familiar to the point where I had to put the book down and laugh until I cried. Especially the responses of the people around him who are just like "Is the weather your fault?"

... Seriously, I can't get over how good a depiction it was of someone just being anxious. Even if the rest of the manga turns out to be terrible, I am keeping hold of it just for that.

I don't feel like I know most of the cast yet, but there was a mystery! There was a group of people subtlely and non-intrusively making someone feel welcome and comfortable with their environment while ostensibly doing other things! There was LOTS OF PEOPLE being GOOD AT THEIR JOBS and WORKING AS A TEAM. I don't know if I enjoyed the series enough to keep buying it, but I am definitely considering adding it to my pull-list.

Cover of Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat Cover of Prince's Gambit by C. S. Pacat Cover of Kings Rising by C. S. Pacat

8. Captive Prince Trilogy (Captive Prince, Prince's Gambit, Kings Rising) -- I am reviewing these all together, because it really feels like one book that got broken up rather than a trilogy. And also because I straight-up marathoned all of these books in one bloody sitting last Monday, so it would be a little difficult for me to discuss them as separate stories! (I also, um, Had Opinions, so this is the cliff notes version; there will be more in-depth thoughts soon!)

I've heard the first book essentially described as "kinkmeme fill until 2/3 through and then intense political drama until the end of the series" and that is... Actually pretty accurate! The court that Damen is taken to reads like a slightly more functional version of that in Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty books (DO NOT READ THEM, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I SUFFERED SO YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO), with all of the non-con/dub-con/abuse (pretty much entirely between secondary characters rather than the leads) that entails, which drops off really sharply at... About that 2/3 mark! After which it is nothing but political intrigue and a surprisingly well done romance, considering it starts with "Shit I murderered this man's brother and then was sold to him as a sex slave by my brother!"

... Seriously guys I just had to cut out like a thousand words of Opinions As A Reader Of Too Much BL Manga, we're gonna have to name a time and place for me to do a more sensible post on it. I THINK I liked it! The second book is definitely my favourite for the drama and teamwork, the third book has maximum amounts of Damen being a god of war (I'm led to believe there is not as much art of this as there could be and I'm sad) and "I'm sure I've read this trope before" so... Yes? I think? I'm pretty sure that this was a thing that I enjoyed but that I want to talk about At Great Length to explain the qualifiers for that one.

Books in Progress

Whose Body? (I forgot how strange the prose style is!) An Unsuitable Job For A Woman (Two pages in and there's already a corpse, good pacing maybe?). Munnu (This appears to be a graphic memoir about growing up in Kashmir, with all of the people replaced with deer? Y'know what, sure.) Sally Heathcote: Suffragette (This seems to be somewhat similar in tone to Dotter Of Her Father's Eyes, which is good because I like the Talbots' work, but also bad because Dotter is really depressing. Cross your fingers for me.)

Reading Goals

Books read so far: 53/150 (8 new this post)
New-to-me female creators: 26/100 (4 new this post.)
#unofficialqueerasfuckbookclub count: 4 (Captive Prince trilogy, Small Town Witch artbook)

What's everyone else been reading since I last posted?

Date: 2016-05-22 02:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readingtheend.com
We've discussed this a bit, but yeah, almost the whole of the first book was an issue for me. The second one's way better because I absolutely love political machinations, and I appreciated the number of machinations in that one. The third one was fun BOTH for Damen getting to be a god of war AND for Laurent finding ways to control public opinion using his tricksy-hobbit brain. Always fun for me.

Date: 2016-05-22 04:02 am (UTC)
transcendancing: Darren Hayes quote "Life is for leading, for not people pleasing" (Default)
From: [personal profile] transcendancing
I just inhaled 3 Courtney Milan books (1-3 of Brothers Sinister series) and adored the hell out of them. Just what I needed! 'Captive Prince' series is on my list, but I haven't gotten there yet.

Date: 2016-06-26 05:08 am (UTC)
transcendancing: Darren Hayes quote "Life is for leading, for not people pleasing" (Default)
From: [personal profile] transcendancing
I will definitely post about it and try and remember to link this blog to it at some stage! Courtney Milan is like a soothing balm to the real world and it just... it's just so nice to read.

Date: 2016-07-08 10:28 am (UTC)
transcendancing: Darren Hayes quote "Life is for leading, for not people pleasing" (Default)
From: [personal profile] transcendancing
I've just finished my midwifery prac - marathon from all directions honestly, so more Milan and probably this series is just what is ordered. Hopefully budget allows!

Date: 2016-05-22 07:52 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
... Seriously, I can't get over how good a depiction it was of someone just being anxious.

Clearly, I need to get my hands on this asap. XD (Also Small Town Witch sounds fascinating!)


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