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Jul. 20th, 2011


Mistress of The Art Of Death - Ariana Franklin

So I read this book recently and I've no idea how I feel about it. Or rather I feel like I should feel more positively about it, but I don't, and the reasons are complex. This whole first book in the series is about the Jews of Middle Ages England (Henry II's time) and accusations of Blood Libel. So yeah, I was twitchy ALL THROUGHOUT.

There might be some minor spoilers )

In sum, perhaps I can't call this book universally unpleasing, but it may definitely not be for me. I am very grateful to have recently experienced truly enjoying a book and series (please CJ Cherryh don't be an ass), so I can remember what that feels like and compare it to this and know I did not. That a book can be adequately written and I still just not enjoy it.

*Enjoying a book means I can turn right around and re-read it immediately, or re-read the whole series immediately and also NOT just be waiting for fav lines, scenes or moments.

Mar. 15th, 2011


The Ear, The Eye and The Arm by Nancy Farmer

... I start a children's book. I flip the pages. Something seems wrong, off. Finally I can't take it anymore, I look up the author (not Black), I look up the plot. I sigh. By page 9 I knew, by page 27 I was sure. Newberry Winner or not, the messages in this book... Perhaps it would not twitch others, but it did, does, twitch me. Am I possibly seeing that the culture represented seems viewed from the outside in, no matter how fantasitical/futuristic it is? Or am I just seeing the subtext that privilege obscures?

For me, I think it is the twitchy assumption that even 100years in the future, various tribes of the African Continent will still be at arms with one another. A powerful black man in such a situation must be a General (complete with uniform w/ gold shoulder braid) - not a doctor, librarian, business man. A general who keeps his family in a fortified compoud.

And the concept of a 'Priase Singer' would likely be less twitchy if in this case it wasn't an English descended white male, hypnotizing the black characters with 'praise'.

Reading the summary on Wikipedia didn't help either when it seems less like the children advance because of their own smarts and wit and determination, than 'the spirits' show up and give them the strength of the ancestors and help save them through the possession of them, or the people sent to find them.

By page 27, I know the 'Praise Singer' is white with blonde hair. I do not know much of what the Mother, Father or three children look like. I do know that 100 years in the future it is still important that the children learn to chuck spears, and one child is considered too sensitive to be a warrior. Then there's the twitchy making of the General Father being a distant authoritarian - perhaps if he were white I wouldn't see so much subtext of 'Dictator'.

And then. there's the depiction of one set of African tribe being animal mutilating sadists......

Sometimes it feels I'm just an open wound and all these books keep cracking open my attempt to scab.

Feb. 15th, 2011


Kimi ni Todoke (anime series)

There is a season one and a season two (just started).

Season 1 Raving Here )

Season 2 Ranting Here )

Feb. 8th, 2011


Yumeiro Pâtissière (anime series)

I'm somewhat ambivalent about Yumeiro Patissiere. While it's like watching Iron Cheft meets Boarding School Adventures plus Fairies with some (so far,) slow paced romance and is enjoyable that way. I wince every-time one of the girls calls the other fat, or a girl decides she needs to be on a diet. I hate that it's expected culture, apparently in both the US and Japan (and who knows where else these days) for weight concern to be a major thing among girls. Especially when these girls are drawn so damn THIN. And the one woman we see who is heavier, while married, nothing is sad about her weight or if baking treats and sweets contributed to it. So then it was 'untouchable' ? But not when it's (english sub says at least) 13 year olds? Though even given that highschoolers often get pushed down to middleschool, with college goers pushed down to highschool, it's still teenage girls with the self conscious worry about weight threading through their lives.

Another thing I'm disliking? After episode upon episode of the main character being treated, hmm, not quite as an equal because she doesn't have the training, but as a contemporary and fellow student and a teammate - I'm very wincy at the idea of some Italian fellow making bets about 'making her his gf' when winning a challenge. For that matter, I cringe a lot at one girl throwing herself over and over and over again at one boy - like a never ending tide. Despite the fact said boy doesn't like her, doesn't like to be touched by her and while I cannot remember him saying no outloud, the fact that I have to search my mind for that at all, brings up more and more the gender reversal scenario of 'She didn't say no, so she must have liked it'. **shudder**

It's also grring to realize the protagonist (female - the main character) seems to have no skills whatsoever in claiming her personal space or autonomy with said Italian. Damnit, I enjoy the show, but this learned helplessness thing... Her being open and honest and forgiving of when people cheat her - at least she gets called airheaded for it. But the inability to smack someone's hand away? I am aware of cultural differences involved and yet it is still so painfully, invasively annoying. I guess because it ends up reading like one of the bars trying to lock women in 'performance of proper femininity'.

But all that aside, binding friendships, people cooking, and faeries that aren't annoying - for 63 episodes!

PS: Yes, the laugh IS very. very. very. very. annoying. Also the American.

PPS: There is a moment that mentions accessibility that damn near won me over despite all that seemingly approved cultural stalking and molestation.

PPPS: To anyone else who may have watched this? Selfish man is SELFISH.

Feb. 4th, 2011


Sake (anime series)

Oh sweet heaven, another anime where I'm all a twitter. MAH JOHNG is SERIOUS BUSINESS PEOPLE. Saki is like Angelic Layer, but with TILES. It makes me think of YUGIOH, only the contestants are all girls, there's gentle if obvious yuri and thought I know nothing of MAHJOHNG (seriously I play mahjohng solitaire so the most I can do is recognize the tiles) it doesn't feel like people are pulling things out their behinds at the last moment.

I am so pouty to discover it's not a longer anime. SO, POUTY. But now I MUST get my hands on the manga. It is so adorable. ADORABLE. Little baby lesbians EVERYWHERE. Ok technically it's all girls school 'best friend' closeness. But having gone to an all girls school, I know for a fact it is a hotbed of weird not quite lesbianism but don't you dare get between a 'couple' or trouble will happen, with them and their (shipping) fans!

Sometimes I'm busy living my life, dealing with things, so that it feels like a surprise, since I'm not currently thinking of relationships, to realize 'Oh yeah. I am SO gay. SO GAY'.

Feb. 2nd, 2011


Lucky Star (anime series)

I did not expect to find a slice of life, comedy, school life anime so enjoyable. But I really needed something light, where I wouldn't 'think' and thought, why not. And boom, I was hooked. There was all this meta about cliches, tropes, stereoptyes of Japanese people, tourists in Japan, anime and manga. And that was lovely. But what hooked me was teenage girls just talking - watching conversations flow the way they can in real life, naturally. And watching them discuss everything from periods to how to eat certain foods.

I did not realize I needed that. Well, I mean I know I greatly enjoy female focused things, or at least heroines. But knowing I enjoy a thing, and knowing it fits and fills a hole in me / tells a story I want to hear, are two different things. There are no big references to boyfriends and romance outside of friendly teasing. There is a whole lot of girl and family bonding, worries about school, different people having different goals and interests and ways of doing things...

1 Note. I started skipping the 'Lucky Channel' bits at the end after a few eps, because I greatfly dislike the trope of sullen + angry + violent girl and put upon boy. Tsun Tsun can go bite herself.

I wonder if there's Josei Manga that involves something like that? As most seem to center around if not focus on romantic relationships. If I could find Josei like Lucky Star where the 'girls' are grown up, with or without family that would be wonderful. Oh! yes! No disappeared, invisible, non caring, non involved parents in Lucky Star.

Jan. 19th, 2011


Arabian Nights (tv series)

A few nights ago, (a week maybe), I finally got to watch, from beginning to end, the 2000 mini series - Arabian Nights. I had only ever seen parts here and there, with the end result of being intrigued. As the years have passed, I was further intrigued. I remembered Aladdin's story was Asian. It is not often someone retells it as an Asian (Chinese) tale, it is usually Persian or Turkish or Arabian. Just that alone excited me, when I finally got the dvd in my hands.

But note I did not immediately post full of WHEE. There are some things I dislike about it. Some are quasi minor irritations - like pop culture references. Others are casting decisions and how things played out. I believe the female lead is Israeli born. But many characters were white and from the UK; British, in one case Welsh - and thus all were in 'brown face'. The sets and crew and technicians and costumers were all from Turkey, however.

Spoilers )

Dec. 30th, 2010


Nurarihyon no Mago aka Grandson of Nurarihyon

The show is actually interesting. I'm considering picking up the manga I'd seen before but discounted because the summary didn't do it justice. But I absolutely loathe the female character crushing on the main lead. Firstly, it's all she seems to bloody well do - crush, but be unsure she's crushing or why it matters the boy looks at another girl. But MOST irritatingly, she's such a frigging victim.

It's bad enough when female characters make such glaringly bad decisions - example; surrounded by bad guys who capture a friend, and then the female character decides to stop fighting or give up her advantage for the friend's safety. Bad decision. Why trust a bad guy, especially one you claim has no morality or reason just intelligence and drive? But that's just a bad decision, and depending on how old the female character is, somewhat forgiveable.

But 'Kana-chan' is a frigging Mary Sue of Distress.

Cut for Politeness )

Nov. 13th, 2010


Changes (Dresden Files) by Jim Btcher

Remember I said I wasn't sure I was going to give a deeper review of CHANGES - Dresden Files #12. Well, I came across a book review that has a problem with it. Has a problem specifically with an issue of bonding and emotional intent, clan building and the sense of responsibility. And now I feel urged to say something, because it never occurred to me that people could find Harry's reactions in CHANGES to be unrealistic.

Here Be Spoilers )

Oct. 26th, 2010


The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan

This is book one of something called The Moorhawke Trilogy. It got my attention because I checked the author's website, and saw posted fan-art of the characters, and one of the named three was shown to be very much brown. There were fans who understood a character is brown. So, I got the book into my hands.

And the character, Razi, is brown.

At first I thought this Psurope was further away or at least supposed to be, from our reality. But when it got to the part of pagan Arab bastard, spawn of some bitch witch, who bespelled the good king, before he could find himself a good Christian woman - I kind of grew somewhat... despondent. While the main characters are not aligned with the thinking of Arab pestilence and one in fact was born after a time period where such sentiments were common, and thus is in true shock to hear the words - it was still somewhat....

I can't find words for it. Thinking about it itself is just exhausting.

That is not, however, the reason I have as far been unable to finish the book. That reason is rather more confusing. I like Razi as a character, caught between a rock, a hard place, and a pair of shears. I like Christopher. And I can tolerate Wynter (the main and also female protagonist). What I find doesn't agree with me, and I am more than willing to call this a personal preference, is how the characters seem to float like skim skin on a body of cream.

There's intrigue, but we never get to see it, we only see the affects. The one time we do see pressure, it isn't carefully applied politics and manipulation, it's pure brutality and bullying.

Oh. I think I've just realized why I can't finish the book. But that reason is very much spoilerific. So I will think for a while on how to phrase it as obliquely as possible.*

Anyway, as I was saying, afloat a sea of cream; there are too many unanswered questions. On the one hand, some, perhaps all of the main characters (it is uncertain) don't know exactly what's going on. But the readers get no clue. Or at least I didn't. Things were apparently bad the generation before, but then came a good King - except now he's no longer a good king and is doing a lot of.... something. He's possibly a good man, doing bad things, for right reasons? Maybe? Or a once good man, dong wrong things, for misguided reasons.

I don't know. Whatever I was told, wasn't enough. I wasn't clinging to anyone. And I think part of that is that it's not the book I thought was being presented to me based on the first two chapters**. There was no one I really liked. There seemed to be a lot of jumping to conclusions, or assumptions and understandings about scenarios and I wasn't.... jumping. But I'm not sure this is a case of originality, as much as spotty story-telling.

It's sly, but there's a lot of tell not show. A lot of 'The character realizes than x means y. That water is wet. That this is how things are'. And that is irksome, especially when a sentence or two before there was a clear showing. But then instead of a follow through, we get an end cap of -tell-. It's all very.... aggravating.

Oh yeah, and there's nothing I particularly dislike more than a third party telling a female protagonist she's attracted to someone. It short circuits the whole process of two characters getting to know and warm to one another. To where it felt to me as if some of the supposedly 'attracted to' character's responses, came about because of that whole societal expectation of this is how you act when you are attracted to someone. Performance vs authenticity.

It's weird. I just read something new by Mercedes Lackey, noted how I had read it all before, by HER, multiple times in fact. And yet I cared about the characters, even as I groaned at them being stupid (Truth to tell this latest was a touch heavy handed, enough so I wondered and was somewhat disappointed to discover there wasn't an outside force influencing some of the angstier moments. I sincerely hope Lackey doesn't lose her touch there) In the case of 'The Poison Throne', however, the moments to build on relationships, and the characters emotional templates have that same drop of follow through as with the show show show TELL.

The plot, however, is somewhat interesting. It just hasn't been able to keep me going all the way. If I go back to it and finish, I'll update.

* I couldn't continue reading after realizing that the hairbrained escape the situation idea one character has, is so amazingly abundantly full of privilege. And even after said privilege (and thus the dangers it would pose) are pointed out, the character is seemingly still going to enact the plan.

** In the first two chapters of the book, I thought I was going to get a book about a character returning to courtly intrigue in an environment with supernatural elements like ghosts and communication with cats; courtly spy novel or courtly adventure novel. But I wouldn't classify the book I was actually reading as either of those. It comes closer to Fight Club meets Fantasy. That kind of despondent, cynical, dysfunctional world with dysfunctional familes and dysfunctional coping mechanisms headed to a dysfunctional end - but without Christopher Titus to make it funny.

Sep. 16th, 2010


Laced With Magic - Barbara Bretton

Was not intended for me.

It's the second book in a series but it's the one the library got to me first, so I picked it up yesterday. I thought, yarn, knitting, the supernatural and it's supposedly also 'cozy mystery'.

I reached page 2 of chapter 2 and that was pushing it. I utterly hated it. And I sat there at the bus stop and I started wondering about the whole 'black & brown children don't read' and I realized if I got as agitated, depressed, angry etc as a small child at so constantly not seeing myself in books or anything like my experience WITHOUT it being pain porn, poor porn, ghetto glam porn and the like? I probably would have ended up not being a reader. If books hold no promise, why spend time?

Anyway, the book lost me (pg 2, chpt 2) when the male pov said something along the lines of 'I never expected to fall for a tall skinny blonde'. At which point I started laughing right there in the bus stop, like someone who's a little unhinged. Cause statistically given all the supernatural mysteries and wanna be thrillers out there? I'd say his expectations should have been damn high. Heck, given what's on tv, it's actively PROMOTED that what a white man should want is a skinny tall blonde. So wtf is with the surprise? What? Cause she knits? That's oooh so subculture, exotic, avant garde, different?

But that was just the straw that broke the camel's back. The rest of the haypile was an entire chapter where this pov female character talks about how her ENTIRE TOWN thought she was hopeless because she was in her thirties, unmarried and without a child. And apparently in the first book, finding a man, or having some sexin' activates her magical powers. And I really couldn't stand that whole blatant 'life doesn't begin until Prince Charming Shows Up'. But it got worse, it was all this telling about magical love and yes, I suppose if one read the first book there might have been showing there. But there wasn't any showing here. There was a whole lot of lackluster lust - apparently if you say the word kinky and use blindfolds for any reasons, as a reader (female reader?) the underwear should already be moist.

The real weight of my displeasure came from the first chapter having the supposed protagonist with the point of view of now she'd caught the man, she wanted to trap him, overwhelm him, manipulate him into staying in her little town with her for a while longer. But she wasn't going to TALK to him about it. She was going to sex him, and make woo eyes, and try to let the environment and surroundings seduce him, but NOT talk to him. The entire town has a vested interest in this man, because of a position in the town he's currenly holding and could continue to hold if things work out right, if he decides he wants to stay - but SHE isn't TALKING TO HIM, because she doesn't want the bubble to pop and everything is so perfect the way it is.

How the hell is everything so PERFECT if you can't talk to the man, because then things might be RUINED. Perfect doesn't come with IMPENDING RUIN. It just doesn't.

So we have 'life doesn't begin until the man' and 'important things are happening but we won't discuss it - he should just know' and then there was the fetishizing. And ok, I admit it is novel that someone's getting all rubber knees over a human male, but fetishizing is STILL fetishizing; his human warmth, his mortal blood... geeze. And it gets creepier when she's thinking about his normal mortal family who have normal mortal expectations for him, and how if he stays with her, he won't have any of that.

I'm not certain how he won't have happiness they could appreciate for him just because he moves from a big city to a small town. After all they don't know anything about the supernatural or what dangers he might face. But moving away from family is this huge traumatic thing? In America? When in this case his family isn't more than a 4-6 hour drive, 1 hour plane ride away? Really? So that's creating a problem that doesn't really exist for sake of drama. And I just...


That's too much for me to have to accept AND nothing but white people.

I'd be happier if there hadn't been invasion of the non-scary vampires in YA. Cause sticking to YA for the past year has meant crisper storytelling and less reliance on blanket tropes.

Jul. 14th, 2010


The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter - Susan Wittig Albert

I don't even KNOW where to start. Oh. In case that sentence is misleading - these books make me REALLY REALLY HAPPY. I'm currently about to start book 4; The Tale of Hawthorn House. And I admit to being ever so pouty that there will only be 8 books in the series. I currently own two - picked up a year or so ago at a library sale that I only got around to reading now (the joys of discovering yet another box that hasn't been unpacked). And I've borrowed four from the library.

I love these books. The mysteries involved so far, aren't always murder (most foul). I love the continued characters of the village. I love the description of village life. Despite even one occasion of 'cannibal savages' mentioned (eta: and now *sigh* 'gypsies' stealing babies), I can still identify with the gossip, and nosiness and sense of extended family. And in this case it's not just the humans who're extended family, the village animals are too. Cats, dogs, an Owl, a family of badgers - it's wonderful.

I remember when I picked up the first two, Zvi cracked up. "You're buying RPF? You're buying professionally published RPF!" And then there was the laughter. And there I was going. "But it's RPF about Beatrix Potter. BEATRIX POTTER! How can you not understand how cool that is?!!" But I'm going to bet that the adventures of cotton tail rabbits and kittens who lose their mittens aren't as set in her heart as happy childhood memories of good booky times, as Potter's books are for me.


I thought I'd posted, turns out I hadn't. So I get to do the eta about the 'gypsies' and sigh about how tired I am of looking away or trying to let things slide in order to have some form of entertainment and more importantly, not implode on myself with continued fury at the casual isms of the world and the obvious ways authors show which isms are important to them to address. Still at least there's been some pointing out so far in this book 4, that everything gets blames on gypsies and foxes because it's easier and oblique reference that the more the farmers believe tales and run off the caravans, the less work the Rom find as harvest hands, the more they need to poach etc, to make ends meet.

Jul. 7th, 2010


Secondhand Spirits - (Witchcraft Mystery 1) -Juliet Blackwell

"x is like the Imelda Marcos of dresses"

This, plus a non First Nations individual clutching her medicine bundle, vs protection pouch, satchel, whatever. I can't make myself continue to read. I realize that others can push aside such things; the daily micro aggressions. But life is too short. I'd rather read stuff that doesn't hurt and offend me - support writers doing it right.

On the plus side (maybe), I'm just skipping right along through the possibilities. Though I'm getting nearer to avoiding white writers all together.

PS: Given that the gimmick in this mystery is vintage clothes and I was glazing over descriptions of clothing pieces, colour, fit and other fashion hoo has - I was already giving it a chance.

Jul. 5th, 2010


The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender

I don't know how I feel about this novel. I found myself wondering if it was comparing autism to unwanted magical gifts of intrusion. And that spun the entire tale to me. And at other times I saw weaved into it the subtext of the security in selfish self absorption in children and how that protects them from their parents, alongside the emotional abuse (unwilling) when parents lean on their children and expose them to emotions and conflicts they have no scope for. There were reflections on unhappiness and choice and practicality and strength.

And yet, I'm fairly certain some of my unease wasn't intended - unlike the unease surrounding family secrets and conflicts and emotional distance and dysfunction, and emotional immaturity combined with a certain emotional lack of skill and the need to balance being needed with being used with feeling like a person instead of an accessory.

I liked the ease of prose - the journal, talking quality. I think I favour that style.

Jun. 21st, 2010


Surrender None: The Legacy of Gird - Elizabeth Moon

Finished a couple hours ago. Only had to put the book down three times at most I think. I could handle that it's a fantasy story about the inequities of serf-dom and what it takes to build a stable and equal society. The magic had a place. I skipped a lot of the battle scenes. Apparently I can just about handle 3 in a book, and they'd better all mean something for character growth and plot momentum - after that I can take no more.

In fact, it made me start thinking of the legacy of D&D and how that plays into a lot of current fantasy ideas/ideals and how that started as putting a fantasy twist on medieval table top war games AND how LOTR was Tolkein's attempt at an English Mythology of 'How The People Won Their Land', pulling from the legends of land claiming of Europe. But still, war + fantasy seriously bores me. I know this is just my thing, but whoa on boring.

Anyway, my major problem with the book is the ending. What. The. Blue Shaded Breath was THAT Elizabeth Moon? That was such a cop out. This whole book building up about the cruelty of those in power stemming from the need to keep power and how cultural misunderstandings between peoples furtheres the ideology of superiors and inferiors and how resentments of the oppressed can become fodder to create a new class of oppressed/ a new class of overlords.

And then rocks fall. everyone dies?


Here be the spoilers )

It so took away from all I'd come to appreciate about the world building and how things fit. I only raised my brow once at 'horsepeople on the ___ border'; I forget which border. I found myself thinking of all the bits of history I'd learned during my years fascinated by Robin Hood. The fantasy elements actually added some realism. Strength of character (not personality but determination, moral fiber etc) made a difference, not prophecy and some deific appointment.

First damn fantasy book by a non PoC writer I've read in a damn long time. And then Rocks Fall. Everyone Dies.

Oct. 2nd, 2009


Queen Of The Orcs - Morgan Howell

Let me get this out of the way right from the start; this is a what these people need is a honkey book. There is no getting away from that. None.

But that said, I found myself liking what the particular honkey in this case brings to the table; which is guile and the ability to understand treachery, deceit and betrayal.

Queen Of The Orcs )

Sep. 21st, 2009


Absolute Peace Treaty

Aka: Zettai Heiwa Daisakusen

Click For... )

Aug. 30th, 2009



Read more... )


D. Gray Man

Lost minutes into the second episode. *sighs, rolls eyes* )

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