spindizzy: She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain. (Book turned brain)
[personal profile] spindizzy posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Okay, I have definitely exceeded my minimum here, but in my defence, a lot of these are short!

  1. The Coldest Winter and Steven Perkins [Jump]

  2. Gangsta:Cursed.: EP_Marco Adriano Volume 2 by Kohske and Kamo Syuhei [Jump]

  3. Boundless by Jillian Tamaki [Jump]

  4. Song of the Lioness Quartet Books One and Two (Alanna: The First Adventure and In the Hand of the Goddess) [Jump]

  5. Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw [Jump] *

  6. The Imperial Radch Trilogy (Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, Ancillary Mercy) by Ann Leckie [Jump]

  7. Hawkeye Volume 2 by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Francesco Francavilla, Chris Eliopoulos, Javier Pulido, Annie Wu, Matt Hollingsworth, Jordie Bellaire, Clayton Cowles [Jump]

  8. Whyborne and Griffin Books 1-4 by Jordan L. Hawk (Widdershins, Threshold, Stormhaven, Eidolon (1.5), Necropolis, Carousel (3.4)) [Jump] *

  9. Hawkeye: Kate Bishop Volume One: Anchor Points by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, and Julian Totino Tedesco [Jump]

  10. Slam! Volume One by Pamela Ribon and Veronica Fish [Jump]

  11. Spinning by Tillie Walden
  12. Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear/a> [Jump]

  13. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee [Jump]

Cover of The Coldest Winter Cover of Gangsta: Cursed Volume Two Cover of Boundless

1. The Coldest Winter by Antony Johnston and Steven Perkins [Top]
I picked this up on a whim, and it's an interesting Cold War era spy thriller? There are twists and turns and I really enjoyed trying to work out what was going on and what the actual result was supposed to be, and it's very stylized in that way that thriller comics often are where it's really hard for me to tell the three generic white dudes with moustaches apart. Quick entertainment, but it didn't really stick with me.

2. Gangsta:Cursed.: EP_Marco Adriano Volume 2 by Kohske and Kamo Syuhei [Top]
Man, this spin-off is really going hard into the violence and horror. Like, I knew intellectually that that would be the case, because hi, it's a series about child soldiers raised to believe that an entire subset of people are monsters who don't deserve to live! Guest starring: realising far too late that MAYBE THEY DO DESERVE TO LIVE AFTER ALL. And this volume has events that are mentioned in volumes five and six of Gangsta, so the emotions are high.

... Basically it has very well drawn violence and everything about the actual contents is horrifying.

3. Boundless by Jillian Tamaki [Top]
I picked this up because I really enjoyed her work on This One Summer, but guys: no. It's literary fiction in comic form, and it is not for me. I was bored and/or befuddled by pretty much every story, but IT IS FINE, because I've sent it to [twitter.com profile] readingtheend who likes Jillian Tamaki AND literary fiction, so it has hopefully gone to someone who will either enjoy it or know who else to pass it on to.

Cover of Alanna: The First Adventure Cover of In The Hands of the Goddess Cover of Bearly a Lady

4. Song of the Lioness Quartet Books One and Two (Alanna: The First Adventure and In the Hand of the Goddess) by Tamora Pierce [Top]
— I actually talked about Alanna in the episode of Fangirl Happy Hour I was a guest on! I stand by what I said there (It's kiiiiiiiinda racist, it was still my intro to "proper" fantasy actually starring women, Tamora Pierce is still the only fantasy author I can name who writes about girls going through puberty as a thing that happens rather than a shocking plot development.)

In The Hand of the Goddess was the first Tamora Pierce book I read so I still have a lot of fondness for it. I forget how fast the plot moves – the Alanna books are very short books, but they cover three attempts on Alanna's life, Alanna playing around with her gender expression, and a small war. It's a lot of fun! I don't know that I'd in good conscience recommend it as a starting point for fantasy anymore, because it's very eighties fantasy – progressive for the time, but extremely second wave feminism and not very good at handling race. But with the nostalgia glasses on, I really loved it and it's still a fun place to revisit. I'd say if you want to get into Tortall though, start with The Protector of the Small quartet or the Beka Cooper books.

5. Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw [Top]
I reviewed Bearly A Lady for The Lesbrary! It's less like The Devil Wears Prada with fat bisexual WOC werebears than I hoped, but I really enjoyed it regardless!

Cover of Ancillary Justice Cover of Ancillary Sword Cover of Ancillary Mercy Cover of Hawkeye Volume Two

6. The Imperial Radch Trilogy (Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, Ancillary Mercy) by Ann Leckie [Top]
I know, I know, I am literally the last ever sff reviewer to read this trilogy, I know. And I read them all in one massive week-long binge, so I've staggered away with the impression that it's one book that's been split up to make it more convenient.

Regardless: please allow me to belatedly join the chorus of people yelling oh my god this trilogy is so good!

For those who have managed to miss it: Breq used to be a spaceship, a troop carrier controlling thousands of bodies. Now, she's only one single human body, with a mission of vengeance. And there is a lot going on in this trilogy – it goes in on colonialism, imperialism, privilege, and oppression (and the abuse that comes with it); and also kinda touches on gender in that the primary culture of this part of space all use she/her pronouns (and Breq is so bewildered by gender conventions outside of that space). The idea that the Radcha'i are bringing civilisation to the worlds they conquer is built into the very language they speak, and watching every part of this being unpicked is amazing.

The scale of the repercussions increases with each book, rippling out from Breq to one colony to the entire galaxy, and realising how each of these builds on what came before is breathtaking. Especially because the character arcs build really well; Seivarden trying to relearn how to be a person, and then to become a good person; Tisarwat's entire story arc; and just... Breq. Working out her place in all this and the world that she wants to live in.

I was going to be sad that I waited so long to read it, but honestly I'm just glad I got round to it because everyone was right and it's great.

7. Hawkeye Volume 2 by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Francesco Francavilla, Chris Eliopoulos, Javier Pulido, Annie Wu, Matt Hollingsworth, Jordie Bellaire, Clayton Cowles [Top]
This is the collection of LA Woman and the conclusion of the Human Disaster Hawkeye run (which is not what it's called, but you know exactly what I mean, don't you), for those who might be wondering what's going on with my numbering here.

I wasn't sure how I felt about Kate's LA Adventures! I really did not like the art style at all – it felt really off, like everyone was weirdly flat, but that doesn't necessarily make sense. I think it mainly threw me because I'm used to Kate being the functional member of a partnership, and when she's on her own it's easier to see that actually she is a kid who isn't used to having to fend for herself because she is like nine years old and spoiled rotten. It was hard to see her being persistent and smart, and yet having so much go against her! Also: what the hell, Madam Masque?! I love Kate, and I love mysteries, and I love her solutions to things, I just found this hard to read because something about her investigation arc (maybe the way that she was being constantly rebuffed and everyone responded to her with confusion?) set off my embarrassment squick and I can't put my finger on what! I really loved Kate's head-to-head with Madame Masque though, especially for the scenes where what she thought and what she said didn't match until...

But yes, absolutely A+ depiction of a teenage girl who's out of her depth and going for it anyway. Also: *shrieks loudly at the reveal at the end*

As for the Human Disaster Hawkeye arc: CLINT NO. Regular artist coming back, yes! Clint's poor life choices, no! This was my first introduction to Barney, and I really enjoyed seeing him and Clint fumbdling at being a family? I desperately wanted that to go well! And the explanation of how Clint got to be the disaster we know and love today? But it also engaged with the legal ramifications of what Clint did in taking over his building, which was interesting! Bad guys who are legally in the right(ish) are always interesting bad guys.

(Yes, my embarrassment squick did raise its hand a few times here, thanks brain.)

Also guys, guys, you know what some of my favourite tropes are? Planning montages, and a whole bunch of people banding together to save the day, so the ending and Hawkeye's family (blood and otherwise) banding together to save their home? YOU KNOW I AM HERE FOR IT. Especially because teamwork! Family! Clint learning to rely on other people!

... I've got to say though, I understand the moral of the Hawkdog (Dogeye?) story at the start, but I still have no idea why. Or even how that became a thing that I could put in my eyes.

Cover of Widdershins Cover of Threshold Cover of Stormhaven Cover of Hawkeye: Kate Bishop Volume One

8. Whyborne and Griffin Books 1-4 by Jordan L. Hawk (Widdershins, Threshold, Stormhaven, Eidolon (1.5), Necropolis, Carousel (3.4)) [Top]

I'm going to be honest with you my darlings; I always try to have one pulpy romance series on the go for when my brain is jam but I still want to read a book. And this one? Is pulpy as anything.

Whyborne and Griffin is an m/m historical fantasy romance series (stack your templates!), set in late nineteenth century Massachusetts, in a fictional town called Widdershins where things like "The town was built by cults, "The museum was built by a mad architect," and "Cloaked figures stalk through the town in the dead of night and it's very rude to notice them" are perfectly normal facts of life. Whyborne is a linguist who works at a museum and finds all of this perfectly reasonable; Griffin is a former Pinkerton agent from Kansas who finds all of this to be incredibly weird. ... No, I didn't know going in that it's actually fuelled by Lovecraft references either.

The stories aren't necessarily formulaic, but they do have certain beats that come up in every book. Whyborne learns a new aspect of magic, much to Griffin's dismay! Something terrible is revealed about Griffin's past! There is an epic misunderstanding that they should probably talk out like adults! One of them (usually Whyborne) tries to sacrifice himself nobly! Lovecraftian monstrosities happen! It's not necessarily bad that there are these repeated notes; this is why I have pulps on hand! It's just that if you're reading them all is quick succession, which is very doable because they're available in omnibus format, it's really noticeable.

I quite enjoy the way that this series manages to portray Whyborne as an anxious human being who is oblivious to the feelings of those around him, although the narrative is clear enough about them to the audience. I also enjoy the way that Griffin and Whyborne think each other is the greatest and bravest person in the world, even though they each have no self-esteem. I think my biggest issue with them is the way that the characterisation seems to jolt a little left of true during the sex scenes, because it's really noticeable. Like, it's noticeable that I feel the need to mention it here, okay. (Also I take issue with the fact that some of the chapter breaks are literally in the middle of a sex-scene. Sometimes even between orgasms. What. Why. I will put up with the hair-trigger erections, but why those chapter breaks.)

I think it's interesting that despite the book being from a very privileged perspective, it does at least try to engage with what that means. Christine, an archaeologist, is constantly subjected to low-grade misogyny; Griffin has not had the protection that Whyborne does of familial wealth to shield him in his queerness; Threshold and Necropolis manage to point out systemic racism in different ways, and Stormhaven manages to highlight the historical treatments of people with mental illness. I felt they were handled shallowly; your mileage may vary.

Basically, Whyborne and Griffin as a series is an enjoyable enough series; it's entirely nonsense pulp and high drama, so perfect for when that's what I'm in the mood for, but I have to be in the mood.

[Caution warnings: homophobia, misogyny, offscreen rape and sexual assault, false imprisonment; onscreen attempted rape in Stormhaven]

9. Hawkeye: Kate Bishop Volume One: Anchor Points by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, and Julian Totino Tedesco [Top]
Kate Bishop, Best of All Hawkeyes, has moved back to LA to start her P.I. company (She's not licensed, shhhh.), where she has to deal with stalkers, kidnappers, Science Gone Wrong, and worst of all: pick-up artists.

Guys, it's great. I wasn't sure how I felt about Kate's LA adventures in Hawkeye Volume Two, but here they're perfect. Kate is the exact degree of snarky, funny, and confident-but-learning that I wanted, and the mysteries make sense.

I love that Kate ends up with a team – some of them clients, some of them people she has casually press-ganged into helping her, some of them "So I found you shooting arrows at muggers and did I mention that you're really cool." And she has mentors, especially in the form of Jessica Jones – the specific asides in those issues where Kate makes a note of things Jessica does is delightful.

I really love the art as well, especially the way it makes a point of highlighting the important things that Kate's noticing (I.E. mini-donuts and hot abs).

I found it really interesting that all of the villains, at least the ones at the introduction to the mysteries, are like, general misogynist creeps? One is a stalker and harasser (and his friends, who all go "Man, she sounds terrible, let's ALSO BOMBARD HER WITH HARASSING MESSAGES!" boy I wonder what could have possibly inspired that) and another is a fucking pick-up artist. Spoilers: I don't think dude got his head kicked in like he deserves. There are other things going on, of course, such as mild control and monsters and Kate's dad, but it has this really great core of "You know what? That garden-variety cis dude dipshittery? Is not okay."

If you want to read about Best Hawkeye or want a low-powered superhero mystery, I would absolutely recommend starting here!

Cover of Slam! Volume One Cover of Spinning Cover of Karen Memory Cover of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

10. Slam! Volume One by Pamela Ribon and Veronica Fish [Top]
I really enjoyed this! I only know a little bit about roller derby (I tried it once, spent the entire time falling over, and I am too embarrassed to go back), but I think this explains what you need to know really well. The art is great, and manages to do the soft emotional bits just as well as the action scenes – plus I love the colours. The story is really fast though, rushing through the formation and cracking of a friendship at a breakneck pace... Which I guess is kind of appropriate for a comic about roller derby! The ending felt a bit predictable and almost twee to me? But it is a story about friendship and teams and it was a blast.

(The derby names are AMAZING, by the way. I absolutely believe that there are real people out there with those derby names.)

11. Spinning by Tillie Walden [Top]
I reviewed Spinning over at The Lesbrary! It's a graphic memoir (yes, you know me, I love those) about her time as a child competitive figure skater who grew up to be an artist. It's a beautiful book and the narrative thread is really well constructed, but when it starts talking about her coming out or her first relationship, it's really painful.

12. Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear [Top]
I know, I know, everyone else read this one five years ago, but I'm finally getting around to it now! I reviewed Karen Memory for the Lesbrary – it's not live yet, but I'll add the link in Adventures Elsewhere when it is!. It's a steampunk gold rush story focusing on sex workers investigating a murder, and it's great and pulpy and I really enjoyed it.

13. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee [Top]
So, I was promised a fun romp across Europe as a young man, his best friend (that he's been in love with for years), and his sister, go on their Grand Tour, with bonus pirates and highwaymen. What I actually got was emotionally devastating, to the point that I had to put the book down and cry for a while about halfway through.

I can see why people are describing it as a romp – it definitely has the structure of one, with the running across the Continent and repeated peril, and Monty's narrative voice (which is great) is definitely belongs to someone who should be having fun adventures. It's just that (without spoilers) when the story starts to peel back the layers over everyone's backstories and wishes for the future, the story gets really bleak for me. Especially because of the way it explores axes of oppression; Monty is canonically queer (it doesn't use the word, but he explicitly says he's attracted to men and women), but he's a young healthy white man who over the course of the book starts to realise that not everyone experiences the world (or consequences) the same way that he does. Which isn't to say he's not got serious problems (can I just give blanket caution warnings for pretty much every blood family in this book), but he starts to realise that his best friend (who is biracial and has a disability) and his younger sister (who is forbidden for attempting to achieve her dreams due to her gender) aren't living the same world he is.

... I'm having trouble putting my thoughts together for this review because I really overidentified with Monty. I too feel like a useless queer with Multiple Issues, objectively stupid reasons for living, and much more competent friends! I too have the constant realisation that I should have said this or a better friend would have done that, and get fixated on one solution to a problem when there is no earthly reason to believe that it will help! And watching Monty feel all of that and grow and be better just wrecked me.

I have some issues with this book that start with "Oh god I feel like I'm reading this through my fingers because I can't look, why is the middle bit dragging" moves through "The relationship drama is killing me," and ends with "What happens to Monty at the end sure has narrative precedents, but also connotations," but on the whole I think I enjoyed it? So I would say, if the sound of the "Highwaymen, pirates, prisons, disguises!" adventure sounds good, know that it is a good book, but has a lot heavier stuff inbetween it. I'm looking forward to the sequel!

Currently Reading

Buried in Beignets by J. R. Ripley — I would be enjoying this more if there wasn't something seriously off about the main character. Like, if it was just that she was telling everyone that her husband was dead (they're divorced) that'd make sense? But it's that and a complete lack of understanding about the law, and her constant background judgement of literally everyone she comes across? It's weird. Very weird.

Reading Goals

Reading goal: 109/150 (21 new this post) Prose: 54/50 (14 new this post; MISSION COMPLETE! \o/)
New-to-me female authors: 24/50 (7 new this post; Annie Wu, Jordan L. Hawk, Kelly Thompson, Pamela Ribon, Veronica Fish, Elizabeth Bear, Mackenzi Lee)
#getouttamydamnhouse: 37/80 (4 gone this post)
#unofficialqueerasfuckbookclub: 36/109 (10 new this post; Bearly a Lady, the Whyborne and Griffin series, Spinning, Karen Memory, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue)

Date: 2017-12-08 10:49 am (UTC)
subsequent: (-revolution? don't mind if i do)
From: [personal profile] subsequent

so I've staggered away with the impression that it's one book that's been split up to make it more convenient

I binge-read the series over three days (even with work, because I FELL into these books) and tbh, same. I'm really glad I picked it up once the three books were already published - it just felt natural going from one to the other, and I wouldn't have wanted to wait for the next part to be released!

Date: 2017-12-08 01:45 pm (UTC)
oracne: turtle (Default)
From: [personal profile] oracne


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