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[personal profile] bookgazing
Image of Hannah, Violet, Dee and Betty from The Rat Queens


In 2013, Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch's Rat Queens burst onto the graphic novel scene to a general cry of delight. As the blurb for Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery says, 'Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they're in the business of killing all god's creatures for profit.' Basically, they're an awesome-sauce gang of outrageous ladies. With their overwhelming quest for a destructive good time, their battle lust, and their defiant fashion sense, the Rat Queens provided the kind of rowdy, confident female gang many fangirls just couldn't resist.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] bookgazing
Red, white and blue Short Business logo


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] bookgazing
Red, white and blue Short Business logo


The first strange thing Nadia pulled from her pocket was a piece of fudge. It was a perfectly ordinary piece of fudge. But Nadia hated fudge, and couldn’t imagine how she’d come to be carrying it around. She remembered this in particular because it was a bright, cool autumn day and she’d dug into her jacket pocket instinctively, looking for change to leave in a busker’s open violin case, and had come upon the piece of fudge instead. After staring at it awkwardly for a moment, she dropped it into the violin case and hurried away before she could see whether the busker was scowling at her or not.


After reading Amal El-Mohtar's "Pockets" and "The Truth About Owls" back to back I suspect I'm going to spend June cramming all of her work into my eyes. Although very different in tone, both of these stories appealed to me for similar reasons. Both display a concentration on the pace and flow within individual paragraphs, show off El-Mohtar's sharp eye for detail, and manage to hit my feels by leveraging just the right amount of melancholy optimism. If loving "The Feels" is wrong I don't want to be right (also it's not wrong).

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. )
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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
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... )
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... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
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.


Clare & Renay's Adventures in: Xena


Xena: Episode 101, "Sins of the Past"


Clare: As I've mentioned, I did not watch Xena: The Warrior Princess growing up, what with being raised by Anglophile French wolves. I did give the pilot a shot a few years ago in college, but I found Gabrielle so annoying that I couldn't make it into the second episode. Luckily, that changed this time around!

Renay: The most I knew about this show is that two of my friends were in love with it and wrote lots of self-insert fic about it, and later, I would discover, lots of Xena/Gabrielle fic that was SUPER GAY but they were always like "no! they're just friends!" even though by that time I was already pretty deep into slash fic and going "wow, this is SO GAY, guys!" I never watched the show because a) I didn't have the right channels and b) I was really bad at serialized shows. I'm better now because of DVD boxsets and Netflix/other streaming, because as all the shows I'm watching now are proving, I'm still REALLY BAD at serialized shows. Waiting is THE WORST. Read more... )
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[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... )
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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 blurb )

I came out of Captain America: The Winter Soldier going, "This is totally like this book I'm reading!" I have made it utterly no secret that I love Steve's magical flying shield and the way he chooses to use it in fights. In fact, I would watch two hours of fight scenes to watch Steve fling that sucker around with split second decisions about trajectory and *mumblemutter* forces. So this book was a lot of fun (neat characters with diverse talents! interpersonal conflict! rad superpowers!), but also frustrating because of the writing.

Cas doesn't have a specific totem; she uses everything at her disposal and the math flying through her head to make calculations help her take people out with rocks, bust through a group of gun-wielding criminals, and get out of tough scrapes. If she did have a totem, it would be a loaded gun (but not a Glock, I get it book, she hates Glocks). It would be even better filmed (dear Hollywood, I will write this screenplay, call me!), but it's a pretty great premise even in book form. vague spoilers?? )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
Tomb Raider reboot logo


The Tomb Raider franchise is incredibly long running with huge amounts of multimedia content, so of course I know almost nothing about its history. Tomb Raider debuted back in 1996, two years before I graduated from Nintendo to Playstation. I missed the boat on the initial launch of the franchise and never picked it up. The 2013 Tomb Raider, a reboot of the series, is my first experience with it other than the films.

1996 Tomb Raider game cover with Lara holding her iconic guns


I was aware of the first film, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, because when it was released I was constantly on the lookout for stories with women at the center. Even though the film didn't get a good critical response, I still loved it. I liked the sequel just as much, although that one didn't do as well either critically or with audiences. I had been so sheltered and subject to regressive media that my parents liked that these movies were like catnip. An intelligent, hardworking lady with incredible physical skills! Outsmarting everyone! Being both badass and empathetic! It was impossible to resist. Read more... )
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[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... )

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