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[personal profile] helloladies
We're happy to welcome back [personal profile] owlmoose to Lady Business to share a guest review about The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal, a story set in the Spiritwalker universe, and jointly told by Kate Elliott (writer) and Julie Dillon (artist), who recently won a Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist.







For years as she grew out of innocent childhood and into budding womanhood, Beatrice Hassi Barahal had imagined a kiss. In a secret journal she wrote about her heartfelt longings and intimate adventures.

Unfortunately, despite her best efforts, the journal did not remain secret.

You can read it now. And you won’t be the only one who did. (source)


One of my favorite things about Kate Elliott's Spiritwalker trilogy (which I co-reviewed with Renay) was the strength of the friendship between the protagonist, Cat Barahal, and her cousin Beatrice. I loved how their relationship both drove the plot and provided the emotional core of the series. Along with the fantastic world building, Cat's relationship with Bee is my strongest driver to recommend these books to people. When I discovered that Elliott had written a short story from Bee's perspective, and that it had been published as a chapbook illustrated by Julie Dillon, I jumped at the chance to read it, and I was not disappointed. Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
We're excited to present a guest post about Final Fantasy X-2 from long time friend, [personal profile] owlmoose! Read on to find out why Final Fantasy X-2 is an awesome game experience and why you should definitely check out the new Final Fantasy X/X-2 remaster!


The following is a discussion of the videogame Final Fantasy X-2 from a feminist perspective, revised from a post I wrote on my journal in February 2011. Although I've attempted to make it accessible to general audiences, it does contain spoilers for FFX-2 as well as Final Fantasy X, and assumes a passing familiarity with both games and the Final Fantasy franchise in general.

Rikku, Yuna, and Paine


Final Fantasy is a videogame series published by Square Enix (formerly Squaresoft), one of the titans of the Japanese role-playing (JRPG) genre. As of this writing, there are fourteen main numbered installments, many of which have sequels and spinoffs. However, the main titles are not connected to each other in any way, save a few similarities in theme and naming conventions. Each main title is set in a completely different world, with new stories and new characters, and stands alone from the others. Final Fantasy X (FFX), the tenth main title, was first released to much fanfare in 2001. Although not universally beloved (get any two Final Fantasy fans in a room, and they will have different and often directly opposed opinions on which game is the best and which the worst), it was well received by both fans and critics overall, and it remains popular enough that it was remastered for the PlayStation 3 in 2013. It also inspired something that no other Final Fantasy game had, up to that point: a direct sequel. That sequel, Final Fantasy X-2 (FFX-2), was released in 2003, to a decidedly more mixed reaction. Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
cover and summary )

I love when my social media folks give me surprise recommendations that I love. Pretty sure I owe [twitter.com profile] fozmeadows for this one. I had completely forgotten about this book until her recommendation.

This book reminded of of all the contemporary romances I read as a teenager with bonus SF elements. These Broken Stars is the first book in the loosely connected Starbound trilogy. Tarver, a very young war hero who earned rank through military action and Lilac, the daughter of the head of LaRoux Industries, get thrown together when the spaceship falls out of hyperspace.

They're saved by Lilac's rebel engineering skills and their escape pod rams into a unknown planet. Tarver and Lilac, at odds due to Lilac's determination to be an asshole to all men because of ~mysterious~ reasons she convinced will save their lives, have to survive and seek out rescue. With their communications systems destroyed and hoping for a miracle, they make their way to the utter wreckage of their spaceship on a terraformed planet that shouldn't even be there. They handle the wildlife, the weather, Lilac attempting a multi-day hike in heels, and also Lilac hearing eerie voices. Best camping trip ever!

For some reason I thought there was going to be more romance-in-space happening, but it's not really in space. Space is just the glue that sticks Tarver and Lilac together and hurtles them toward their ~destiny~. This reminded me of a wilderness adventure story. There's a lot of roughing it, a lot of walking, tons of post traumatic stress, and disembodied voices in the shadows. It was probably only scary because I find woods inherently terrifying at night, but yeah, I totally turned on extra lights. I learned my lesson from House of Leaves.

75% of this book is angst. The majority of it comes from Lilac, not Tarver, who is pretty well-adjusted and calm until the last quarter of the novel. Congratulations, book! You surprised me. Tarver and Lilac were a great match. I was rooting for them for the very beginning, through all the snark and yelling and wild rescues and slow development of trust. I didn't expect to like Tarver, because I am coldhearted and unyielding to the boys and men in YA fiction a lot of the time because I find them unbearable. But he was really fantastic, a solid support for Lilac. He never attempts to undermine her or make her feel broken or useless.

Although I liked Lilac's sections of the book more than Tarver's, the quick hits of the interrogation between the alternating chapters were where he really shines. The book really subverts the insolent, asshole trope by showing us Tarver when he's presenting a front to the world, and then showing us the Tarver who just wants to keep himself and Lilac alive. They're both hugely self-sacrificing. It's pretty adorable.

This book is either doing some really fascinating things or else I am just reading too much into the narrative, as I am wont to do when I latch on to something I love. The amount of parental control here is scary. Lilac's friends are people set by her father to watch her or bodyguards hired to protect her. Her freedom is limited, even among so-called peers, and the autonomy is nonexistent. There's a scene in the beginning of the book where Lilac, spurred on by her flock of friends because she knows they'll rat her out, viciously cuts Tarver down for daring to want to spend time with her. And perhaps it would be less affecting if I hadn't been on the receiving end of that sort of peer pressure, where there's something you want to do, someone you want to reach out to, but social necessity and severe personal consequences won't let you. Hello, all the cute girls I could have been making out with over the years! I'm sorry I was a dick to you just because my friends didn't like you/were scared of associating with lesbians. D:

light spoilers for book undertones/bad guys )

The book also raises the question I hated most from my philosophy classes about what makes a person the same person they were before some kind of catastrophic event — their body or their memories. I had so many screaming debates with friends about this with diagrams included (and at one notable debate, when a professor joined our discussion, called him a pretentious gasbag...yeah, I'm super classy). We were totally those annoying freshman having loud philosophical discussions about the integrity of memory, how energy couldn't be destroyed but only redistributed, and what cloning really means for personhood in the middle of the cafeteria or library lobby. I wish I could give this book to my younger self; she would have obsessed.

Definitely a fun, thinky ride. I'm a little disappointed that the next book in the trilogy is about a different set of characters, but I will hope for a tiny cameo/name drop from the authors just so I know Tarver and Lilac are doing okay (THEY BETTER BE DOING OKAY, AUTHORS.).

I want there to be fanfic of Lilac getting hired by a rival industry to build sexy interstellar ships and teaching Tarver how to hotwire hotrod spaceships. Can that be a thing now? Because I'm so there.

Other reviews )
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[personal profile] renay
cover of Fortune's Pawn


Devi Morris isn't your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It's a combination that's going to get her killed one day — but not just yet.

That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn't misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she's found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn't give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.

If Sigouney Weaver in Alien met Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, you'd get Deviana Morris — a hot new mercenary earning her stripes to join an elite fighting force. Until one alien bite throws her whole future into jeopardy. (source)


Holy fuckballs, friends, I love Fortune's Pawn. Read more... )

Other Reviews )
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[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... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Charlotte, Lizzie, Lydia and Jane. /


Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice posted weekly on Youtube. The story is told primarily through vlogs posted by Lizzie, but over time the show has come to include vlogs posted by side characters, vlogs featuring the entire cast as well as several social media outlets such as Twitter. It's fascinating to watch the story be brought to light in a completely different way. For more basics about the story so far and how to get started, check out posts by Iris and Chachic, as well as Ana, before diving into the non-spoilery discussion Renay and Ana had about the series below. Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
A grayscaled image of a girl in a vibrant blue feathered mask staring out at the reader


Karou is an art student with blue hair and a penchant for drawing monsters in her sketchbooks. She lives in Prague, and divides her time between school, her best friend Zuzuna, trying to avoid her lousy ex-boyfriend, and her adopted family — all of which are represented in her sketchbook: a gallery full of chimaera. They're fantastic and unbelieveable, part human and part beast, but very real. She doesn't know who she is, but she often wonders about her past and her future when so much of her life is running errands through doorways that lead all over the world to collect teeth for her adoptive family of chimaera, specifically Brimstone, the closest thing she has to a father. When she steps through the doorway to Marrakesh on a regular trip, everything she knows about herself, Brimstone, her family, and her life changes.

The middle of this book was like a doorway, in fact, and when I stepped through my first reaction was "WTAF?" followed by: I AM DISAPPOINT.

I really considered making that my entire summation of my feelings on this novel, then decided it would be a waste of a chance to make Ana gleeful if I didn't share my Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thoughts regarding this story (you're welcome, Ana). This book was like a great date that's going well. Everything is flowing, conversation is good, there's a subtle attraction and maybe you're thinking of how low your condom supply is. Then something terrible happens and you end up going home alone because of bad touch or the realization that maybe you don't really want to date a self-proclaimed hoarder or [insert nightmare scenario here]. And also, it's raining. And maybe you left your cellphone at the bar accidentally and then your wallet gets stolen and it's just utter crap and you feel cheated and the entire universe sucks. Spoiler goggles equipped — let's proceed into the abyss of my sadness.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
cover of The Witness showing a forest stream with a small waterfall


It's stopped surprising me that the things to snap me out of reading slumps continue to be the books and authors of my childhood. There's something about picking up a familiar author that takes me back to my bedroom, the rolling waves of my waterbed, the lamp burning until two in the morning, and all the comfort and security I felt back then. I don't feel judged. I don't feel like I'm not going to get it. I don't feel the weight of the entire genre hovering over me, judging me for not having read all books that led the author I'm currently involved with to their stories. Even when I dislike the book the familiarity of the story and the characters make me feel welcomed home. Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
plain white and gray cover featuring a girl in a green dress pressing against a glass bubble she's encased within


Matched by Ally Condie: Cassia trusts the Society to make good decisions for her: what to eat, what to read, how to care for herself and who, ultimately, she should love and marry. When the Society matches her with Xander, a childhood friend, she's sure that he is her ideal match. She feels lucky to know her Match. Later, she attempts to learn more about Xander, and instead of seeing his face on her screen she sees the face of Ky Markham, a boy on the edges of her social group. The Society tells her this is an isolated incident, a breakdown in the system, and to focus on her future with Xander. Unfortunately, spurred on by doubts laid by her grandfather and her own curiosity about Ky, Cassia can't help but wonder about paths she might take without the Society to guide her way. She can't help but wonder about a future, not with Xander, but with Ky. She can't help but wonder about a future with the luxury of choice.

The farther away from this story I get, the more I am torn. There should be a word for a book that is both predictable and pedestrian, and yet somehow still compelling. I picked it up on a whim at the library when they didn't have Under the Never Sky (HEARTBREAKING), remembering that there was some kerfuffle about it and some other similar book, plus that it had sold for some ridiculous amount of money and I wanted to know what in the world publishers were throwing their money at these days.Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
cover of Chime featuring a pale, blonde girl with dark eyes on a root-filled sepia toned background


I purchased Chime last year after I read Ana and Thea's review. Immediately after, meaning I closed my browser and we went to the bookstore and I bought it right off the New Young Adult shelf. Their review is wonderfully concise. I agreed with them for the most part, although in different ways. To orient myself, a few things that pinged me from their review. The rest of this post is vaguely spoilerish if you want to go into the book knowing very little:

Read more... )

Ana, I meant to read and review this for your birthday, and managed it a month late (still counting that as a success). There aren't any concrete thoughts here, but I would love it if, as I've seen done you do before when others have had trouble finding their voices about a book, you would join me in the comments and ask me all the questions and we can have a long chat and it will be exciting and illuminating (everyone else can come, too!). ♥ I will preemptively warn for rampant spoilers in comments.

Other reviews:
things mean a lot, The Book Smugglers, books i done read, Janicu’s Book Blog, skygiants, yours?

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