the real kwon
18 December 2014 @ 01:44 am
For my December meme post for the 14th, [personal profile] lnhammer asked 'which witch?'

There is really only one possible answer here:

Fortunately, by the metafictional nature of the beast, this witch does in fact represent all witches. I know what my decision is, which is not to decide!

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the real kwon
16 December 2014 @ 07:05 pm
In other news I have gotten quite behind on my December meme posts! I was supposed to do most and least favorite adaptations of books for [personal profile] thady on the twelfth, but this whole weekend got eaten by holiday parties, so we'll just pretend that's today.

It's a hard question to answer though! Can I cheat and count Much Ado About Nothing as a book, even though it's a play? Because the Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson Much Ado is so near and dear to my heart, and so VERY MUCH my formative Much Ado, that it's really difficult for me to accept any other adaptations -- even though it has flaws! So many flaws! Kenneth Branagh cut out all of Hero's best bits of dialogue, I know, it's an awful thing, and yet! THE WORLD MUST BE PEOPLED.

Also the Christopher Eccleston Revenger's Tragedy, which if we're talking about INCREDIBLY BIZARRE adaptations of early modern theater is my favorite hands down. One of these days I'm going to picspam this DW mercilessly with screenshots from that film, and then maybe you'll all understand. MAYBE.

Oh, OK, one more thing: I haven't actually seen this yet, so it's definitely cheating, but just the fact that there EXISTS an anime adaptation of A Little Princess that's a space opera about Sarah piloting a giant mecha is ... how can I put this? The knowledge of its existence is a balm to my soul.

As for least favorites ... can we also count books adapted into other books? Because ye gods, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. YE GODS. YOU WERE SO TERRIBLE, AND YOU UNLEASHED SO MANY HORRORS.

This is a fun topic, though. I encourage everyone to come rant about least favorite adaptations, should you feel so inclined!

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the real kwon
15 December 2014 @ 05:50 pm
Man. I mean. I knew about Isabelle Holland's Trelawny from the posts by Rachel and Sarah Rees Brennan, but there's knowing and then there's experiencing.

I have, now, experienced what may be the ultimate modern Gothic OF ALL TIME, , involving rabid rats, an evil North Vietnamese kidnapping plot, and more twin swaps than an entire season of soap operas (plus an ancestral suicide rafter, but no actual suicide. ONLY MURDER. And twin swaps.)Collapse )

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the real kwon
11 December 2014 @ 04:12 pm
A month behind everyone else: I read Ancillary Sword! I think everything needs to go under an Ancillary Justice spoiler-cut here probably.Collapse )

I remember seeing a bunch of reaction posts last month that I could not read at the time; if you made one, link me? I'm very curious what everyone else thought!

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the real kwon
10 December 2014 @ 11:42 pm
[profile] alassa_irena asked me about a place I would like to go for the December meme,, and -- well, I mean, lots of places, SO MANY places, but if I could pick one place and one place alone --

-- okay, I'm down to the wire for getting this post in while it's still technically the 10th, but a picture is worth a thousand words, right?


I had to google 'Welsh book town' to find these, because I knew it existed but I couldn't remember the name of it. It turns out the name of it is Hay-on-Wye. I WANT TO GO THERE. The dream is real.

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the real kwon
09 December 2014 @ 08:32 pm
I read an early draft of Stranger, by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith, but that was long enough ago that by the time it came out for real I had forgotten how much I liked it!

Stranger is sent in a post-apocalyptic southern California, but the kind of post-apocalyptic where everyone's had a few generations to get used to the changes and build new towns and economic systems and pay high prices for pre-apocalyptic artifacts that provide fascinating scraps of information on that strange historical era. Also the kind of post-apocalyptic where some people have mutant powers!

The story takes place in the relatively stable town of Las Anclas and focuses on a set of teenagers:

ROSS, a solitary teenaged wanderer with a tragic backstory and severe PTSD, who is found mostly-dead by the (semi)-friendly inhabitants of Las Anclas
MIA, a socially awkward mechanical genius whose father is the town doctor and therefore is the one who is like 'PLEASE DAD can we keep him? :D' when Ross ends up in their spare room
JENNIE, Mia's best friend who has pulled slightly away from her due to being a rising star in the local militia and very competent at everything; also, telekinetic!
YUKI, who was adopted into the town when he was a kid after his own tragic backstory, and is desperate to learn enough skills to GO EXPLORING and GET AWAY
FELICITE, the mayor's pretty daughter, all sweetness and light on the outside and private schemes and jealousy on the inside; the actual worst and also the most interesting to me!

The first half of the book is a bit slow to start, mostly focusing on setting up the town and the dynamics and the tensions that exist between people who have mutant superpowers and people that don't; eventually there's an external enemy and a climactic battle and some very effective set pieces involving murderous singing mutant crystal trees, but it's the long-term throughlines that are most interesting to me -- that, and the feeling of community, and a lot of interconnected people who know each other very well and are important to each other.

My favorite plotline is Felicité's, because at first Felicité looks like the same Pretty Mean Girl who shows up in a lot of Sherwood Smith's books, but there's layers to her that that girl doesn't usually get. The exploration of her inherited prejudice and how that affects her is INCREDIBLY interesting. Felicité's whole family is set up as antagonists and for good reasons, but they're also real-feeling people who care about each other, and about the town, which is one of the things I like best about the book.

I also love that sympathetic characters often dislike each other or misjudge each other; Yuki's simmering irritation with Ross is ... kind of delightful to me? And all the different kinds of shapes the families and relationships take (not to mention all the people of different races and cultures and sexualities both foregrounded and backgrounded; I don't think any of the protagonists is white.) Although given the fact that the Ross/Jennie/Mia triangle involves mild relationship spoilers?Collapse )

And now I get to settle in and wait for the next book like everyone else.

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the real kwon
08 December 2014 @ 07:00 pm
Another day, another December meme post: [personal profile] metaphortunate asked me to talk about one thing in my life that I would most like to do that I think is impossible.

...OK the embarrassing thing about this answer is that I'm pretty sure it's Anne McCaffrey's fault, and specifically it's the fault of Dragonsdawn, which is ... not a good book, it's VERY MUCH not a good book, in fact it's in many ways a TRAUMATIZING book (NO SALLAH NO HE'S IN LOVE WITH ROCKS), but ever since I read it at the age of like ten I have really wanted to move to another planet. It would be so cool! It would be SO COOL. Like, the idea of the sense of wonder you'd get from that is overwhelming. This isn't about space, I don't actually care (I know, blasphemy, I'm sorry!) all that much about space, I've never dreamed about being in a spaceship really, in fact the idea kind of freaks me out. But being on a different planet, something totally outside of the entire range of experience on Earth, and trying to build something there -- there's something about that idea that activates my sense of wonder to the max.

And the thing is it is, like, maybe actually possible that within my lifetime, moving to another planet will be hypothetically possible. Like, what do I know? In fifty years maybe generation shipping it out will be a thoroughly feasible option. (Maybe it'll even look like the best option, or in fact the only option, but, uh, that's a depressing road to go down so let's veer away from that.) And when I was younger I would always sigh and be like, "but I have no useful skills that would make me a candidate anyway!" but ... I kind of have a semi-useful skill now, actually? EARTH-TWO WILL NEED ARCHIVISTS.

But as an adult, even if it was offered to me as an option right now, if it was possible in all external senses today, I know I couldn't go; it's not the externals that make it impossible, it's the internals. Because the thing is, I have family and friends and a network of people I value a lot, and I know that when it comes down to it, I am completely not the kind of person who's willing to give that emotional network up for the idea of adventure and a sense of wonder. There are times when I wish I was that kind of person because then I would probably have a more adventurous life! But most of the time I'm pretty OK with it.

Man, it's personal confession o'clock I guess, if anyone else wants to talk about impossible things you would like to do then please come make me feel less embarrassed!

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the real kwon
07 December 2014 @ 08:33 pm
I was supposed to write about my current feelings about Les Mis for [personal profile] melannen on the 6th for the December meme, but instead I was at a bachelorette party in Atlantic City and the hotel didn't have free internet, which means you are spared the prospect of me attempting to answer this question after having drunk several shots of vodka.

Ugh, this is very long and full of petty complicated personal feelings and MIGHT AS WELL have been written drunk anywayCollapse )

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the real kwon
06 December 2014 @ 12:46 am
OK, so the basic premise of Eric Flint's 1632 is as follows: an entire Appalachian town, including the heroic local chapter of the United Mine Workers of America, gets accidentally transported through the space-time continuum and dropped in the middle of Germany's Thirty Years War. HIJINKS ENSUE.

BECCA: But Eric Flint, why did this town spontaneously travel 350 years back in time?
ERIC FLINT: Oh, whatever, I don't even care. Ummmmm … aliens did it for an art project!
ERIC FLINT: It was a very irresponsible art project and sometime in the future they will get their comeuppance.
BECCA: Will … the aliens ever appear again …?
ERIC FLINT: Nope! Anyway the point is the whole town time traveled, OK? THE WHOLE TOWN.

The experience of reading this book is kind of like having a background chorus of cheerleaders shouting “AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!” in the background at all times. Sometimes the cheerleaders are diegetic.

The good: OK actually it's a whole lengthy sff novel where the protagonists are almost all blue-collar or lower-class and from a rural area, which is extremely rare for the genre and cool to see! It is also actually less misogynistic than it could be – like, while there are a lot of rape threats as part of The Horrors of War and Evil German Mercenaries, all of the female characters from cheerleaders to hippie high school teachers to camp followers get agency, happy endings, and equal opportunity to murder the heck out of the bad guys of their choice with lots of lovingly described weaponry

The bad: First of all, Eric Flint does not believe Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. But second, and more importantly, all that aside it is VERY OBVIOUS that a middle-aged white dude wrote this book.

ERIC FLINT: You know why America is great? Because Americans BELIEVE in the value of human life! Everyone in America knows their life is valuable and worth something!
BECCA: This is a really painful sentence to read right now.

The ridiculous: ...OK I'm just going to have to summarize the whole thing. I can't stop myself!

Wow, this is like 2500 words long, I'M SORRY. THERE'S JUST SO MUCH.Collapse )

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the real kwon
04 December 2014 @ 05:11 pm
December 4th! [personal profile] the_rck asked me about one book I think everyone should read, which is a question I'm having a lot of trouble answering. People are so different! There are very, very books I would actually recommend universally. And even the books that I think almost everyone would like doesn't mean I think everyone should read them. VALUE JUDGMENTS ARE DIFFICULT. Like, I do think Howl's Moving Castle, for ex., is almost universally charming to some degree but I don't need it to be imposed on a high school curriculum!

...that's a good way to think about this, though, I guess. What books would I put on a curriculum, if I were designing one? Here's a few uncategorized options:

The Steerswoman, Rosemary Kirstein, because as well as being a good book it's a really useful way of understanding the scientific method

The History of White People, Nell Irvin Painter, because hey, let's start thinking about whiteness as a socially constructed race like everything else and not as a default template, thanks

The Stories of Ibis, Hiroshi Yamamoto, because yes, let's talk about sociology and humanity and relationships in the digital age, hypothetical high school classroom, let's do it!

Black Maria, Diana Wynne Jones (or Aunt Maria, depending on your edition), because OF COURSE I'm putting a Diana Wynne Jones book in my hypothetical classroom curriculum. "But why Black Maria, you don't even agree with most of Black Maria, it's full of bizarre gendered weirdness!" you may say, to which I say, "YES, ABSOLUTELY, LET'S ALL READ IT AND PICK IT APART AND TALK ABOUT IT." :D?

...uh, I don't think this really answered the question that was asked at all. Apologies!

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the real kwon
03 December 2014 @ 09:38 pm
For the third day of the December meme, [personal profile] saramily wanted to know what it is about terrible High School Musical-esque movies that makes us love them so.

Now, for the record, [personal profile] saramily was there when I watched High School Musical 1 and 2. It was 2009, we were in [personal profile] shati's basement, and we had all had MUCH TOO MUCH SUGAR to even begin to cope with the rapidly increasing surreality of these films. By the time we hit the point where Ashley Tisdale kidnaps Zac Efron, takes him to a secret cave, and attempts to seduce him by attacking him with sparkly fish costumes while he stares in increasingly traumatized horror --

You think I'm kidding? I'm not kidding.

-- ANYWAY, by this point we were all in what can only be described as an altered state of mind. Wisely or unwisely, we went to bed.

The next morning we woke up in horror.

EMMY: I dreamed about Zac Efron!
EMMY: He was my fiance and I had to introduce him to my parents!
BECCA: We were on a secret mission where we had to pretend to be married!
SHATI: I had insomnia. :(

So Shati was spared a mystical somnolent marriage to Zac Efron ... AT THAT TIME. HOWEVER. Three weeks later, we decided our lives would not be complete unless we watched High School Musical 3. Which we did. Over Skype.

The next morning:

SHATI: Guys, I had my Zefron dream! We had to sacrifice him to make the crops grow!
SHATI: In a way I think this means he symbolically married the world! :D?

...anyway. That was a long digression, which is not what Emmy actually asked me about, because she already knows the secret of how to summon Zac Efron on the astral plane for a ritual sacrifice. The actual question is WHY. Why did we feel so compelled to watch all three High School Musical movies? WHAT'S GOING ON HERE. IS IT RELATED TO HOW MUCH WE LOVE NEWSIES. (Yes, yes it is.)

And honestly, you know, I think there's a pretty simple answer: it's because a.) they are RIDICULOUS but b.) they are ridiculous without having a mean-spirited bone in their bodies. Like, lots of movies are ridiculous. Lots of movies are ridiculous with music. Take, like, Pitch Perfect, for example. Highly ridiculous! Certainly has its charms. But I can honestly say I will never have the deep affection for it that I do for High School Musical because Pitch Perfect (and Glee, and all those other self-aware teen musical extravaganzas) are straight-up mean in a lot of ways, while High School Musical is both hilarious and so earnest. We ARE all in this together! You CAN bet on Zac Efron or whoever you wish to bet on! The world will know, and the journal too! IT'S OK. Everything's OK.

...everything except the fish song. The fish song is not, in any universe or dimension, OK.

(But as a palate cleanser you can go watch the greatest musical seduction scene ever committed to film:


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the real kwon
02 December 2014 @ 09:00 pm
December meme, Day 2: [personal profile] aquamirage asked me about moments in musical theater that fuck me up every single time!

I'm pretty sure she asked me this because at the time we were watching Into the Woods and I was complaining vociferously about the fact that they cut "No More" from the upcoming film (THEY CUT "NO MORE" FROM THE UPCOMING FILM, ARGH); as you all know I have many, MANY feelings about Into the Woods, but for whatever reason "No More" is the song that, in fact, fucks me up every single time. I think it's because there's no bombast to it; it's the total resignation that gets me.

In other really obvious news that is obvious, I always think I'm cool and totally over it as I sit down to see a production of Les Mis, and then the first chords of "Look Down" strike up and NO, NO, I WAS WRONG, I'M NOT COOL, I'M NOT COOL! ALL THE FEELINGS ARE BACK. I'm pretty sure it's not even anything specific about "Look Down," it's just a Pavlovian response! Pavlovian feelings! Hello, fourteen-year-old Becca, I see you're back again!

But, OK, let's try for something slightly less obvious. "I Don't Care Much," Cabaret -- that's another one where the total resignation of it is much more effective for getting me to feel a lot of complicated things than anything else would be. (The ending of Cabaret also really shakes me up if it's done right, but it's not always done right, and I've seen it done well enough often enough that a mediocre production won't do much for me except irritate me about the fact that it isn't better.)

A short list of other songs that make me feel feelings in shows, although not always the same feelings: "Easy as Life," Aida. The "Johanna" reprise that Sweeney Todd sings in Sweeney Todd. "Les Cloches" and "Liberes" from Notre-Dame de Paris. And, of course, ever and always, "Confrontation" from Jekyll and Hyde, a moment in musical theater that I CANNOT EXPERIENCE without getting totally fucked up with hysterical laughter. NO, NEVER! YES, FOREVER.

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the real kwon
01 December 2014 @ 11:16 pm
My first December meme post! ... will be written up very quickly because of a series of unfortunate events this morning that involved me missing my scheduled bus back to Boston and then accidentally leaving my laptop charger behind in New York in the subsequent chaos. (I did eventually make it back to Boston, I am not stranded in Port Authority in the rest of my natural life, though it felt for a while like a near thing.) Therefore I have about three hours of laptop battery life to hoard until Friday when my charger and I will be gloriously reunited, which will make for an exciting week.

But that's not what I'm supposed to be talking about here, my topic for the first day of the December meme, as requested by [personal profile] applegnat, is a woman I love and why!

I have two obvious answers to this question, because they are two women who made the bedrock of who I am, and the first is my mom and the second is Diana Wynne Jones.

Why do I love my mom? I mean aside from the whole mom thing, it's because she just keeps doing impressive and incredible things, and has been president of this and honored by that and was the first woman to achieve a full professorship in her department, et cetera et cetera, and if you'd just heard about her in that context you would have quite a different image of her I think than the person she actually is, which is the version of her I usually write about and so you guys hear about, this enthusiastic dorky weirdo who'll get briefly and hilariously obsessed with terrible television shows, who invents robots with iPads for heads in her spare time, who turns everything hard that's happened into her life into a wacky story, which is a convenient way of processing emotionally difficult things that I have inherited and which I'm grateful for. I'm really quite a lot like my mom in a lot of respects, which I am sometimes conflicted about, but there a lot of ways in which I am very, very happy and lucky to be like her.

So that's my mom, who shaped the way I interact with myself, a lot of it. And then there's Diana Wynne Jones, who shaped the way I look at other human beings. I mean, I've said this before, but I do think that because of Diana Wynne Jones I learned early to love characters for all the ways in which they're not perfect, for all their flaws in personality and all the ugly thoughts they carry around. And that translates over well to loving real people, I think, loving them for the people that they are, not the people that you want them to be, and loving them for all the ways in which they're not perfect. Diana Wynne Jones isn't perfect either. I love her for that, too.

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the real kwon
29 November 2014 @ 06:10 pm
The first thing I did after getting back to my parents' for Thanksgiving was go hunt for some books I know I used to own and cannot find at any local library, come on, past self, why didn't you keep better track of your stuff! I did not find the books, but while I was looking I turned up and reread Peppermints in the Parlor, the cutest little middle-grade Gothic the eighties ever turned out.

Emily Luccock is a Tragic Victorian Orphan who is kind of sad about her parents dying but perfectly willing to have a nice life with her aunt and uncle in their big fancy house.

HOWEVER! When she gets there, her terrified aunt gives her dire and mysterious warnings, her uncle is nowhere to be found, and the house is full of secret passageways and traumatized senior citizens!

The Evil Headmistress -- well, actually she's not a headmistress, just the owner of the senior citizens' home, but she fulfills every criterion of Evil Headmistress-itude so we may as well call her one anyway -- sets Emily to scrubbing floors on a starvation diet of gruel and stale bread. The other orphan scullery maid takes Emily's stuff, the senior citizens are too traumatized and intellectually starved to even attempt conversation when Emily comes to dust their rooms, and everything is terrible!

Fortunately, Emily befriends a plucky local fishmonger's son, who brings her nourishing fish syrup, encourages her to investigate the secret passageways, and helps her sneak kittens and intellectually engaging hobbies to the senior citizens. Eventually all the mysteries of the household are unraveled. Emily is reunited with her relatives, and, in a triumphant climax, the senior citizens get a cathartic chance to pelt their tormentors with peppermints. Happy ending for all!

Looking up the Amazon page just now reveals the existence of a sequel that did not exist at the age I was reading this book, but it seems to involve neither the senior citizens nor the nourishing fish syrup, so I'm not really sure what the point of it can possibly be.

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the real kwon
24 November 2014 @ 06:19 pm
OK, I'm not so far behind on my booklogging that this becomes super unwise, so ... why not, let's do this again!

December meme, pick a day and a topic and I will talk, you know the drillCollapse )

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the real kwon
21 November 2014 @ 08:20 am
Last catch-up Gothic post! I forgot to write up Barbara Michaels' Shattered Silk when I read it because it got overshadowed by Someone in the House and the MYSTERY OF KEVIN'S INVISIBLE SEX</a>, but Shattered Silk is ALSO great, even though it's like the least Gothic Gothic ever to Gothic.

It is however deeply relevant to my interests because the protagonist is a woman who decides to restart her life after an emotionally stifling marriage ... by teaming up with her love interest's sister to open a vintage clothes shop in DC!

I mean this is a plot I would read with or without the Gothic thriller elements, which is good because for the first 3/4 of the book is not so interested in the art of suspense and SIGNIFICANTLY MORE interested in the art of restoring and reselling historical fashions.

EMILY: This dress I found has some weird marks on it! Almost like it was ... ripped with a knife!
KAREN: Ah yes! Interesting factoid: that's just what happens to silk when it ages! No knives were involved at all, but here are some tips for how to prevent it happening again! :)

EMILY: I think this wedding dress has a bloodstain on it!
KAREN: Huh! Well I think I found some techniques for getting blood out of dresses, it'll be fun to experiment with them! We can still make a profit! :)

EMILY: Do we think that mysterious and cranky old woman might have murdered her husband in her youth?
KAREN: I'm more concerned about the fact that she keeps trying to sell us boxes of damaged items with no resale value. >:(

Eventually people start to sinisterly break into Karen's house, making Karen's love interest and his friend Tony the Hot Mustachioed Cop quite concerned, and Those Mean Girls From College turn up to be Mean to Karen in a way that ends up significant, and I think someone gets murdered? And one dress actually does turn out to have a significant bloodstain after all, OK, fine. But mostly: Vintage clothes! Auction sales! Growing self-esteem through productivity and competence in a chosen field! Sleepovers with your new bestie! HISTORICAL FASHIONS, AREN'T THEY AWESOME, LET'S JUST ALL NERD OUT, please don't let the dog put his muddy paws on the antique white nightgown, NO STOP.

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the real kwon
19 November 2014 @ 07:35 am
Speaking of Gothics, Lydia Joyce is a Gothic/historical romance author who writes books set in Victorian England which are ALL BASICALLY TITLED the same thing. I have read ... two of them...? Their titles both end in 'night...'? (THERE IS TOTALLY ONE CALLED 'MUSIC OF THE NIGHT' AND I FEEL I HAVE TO READ IT.)

OK, research indicates that the first one I read and the one that was the most fun was Voices of the Night, which is about a poor wannabe opera singer on the run from the Victorian mob and a rich dude who is trying to My Fair Lady her for a bet and is really disgruntled when his whole plot keeps getting derailed by the TARGETED BY THE MOB thing.

My favorite thing about this book is that there's, like, maybe two chapters' worth of pretense that the hero has a level of backstory angst that can even compare to the heroine's before both he and the author just give up completely.

CHARLES: My dad was a jerk who never loved me and had affairs!
MAGGIE: That's nice. I didn't have parents. Or a house. Or meals.
CHARLES: I'm cold and untrusting and emotionally closed off!
MAGGIE: I literally killed a guy.
MAGGIE: So are you going to help me protect my plucky street orphan family from the mob or what?
CHARLES: ....yeah OK

Maggie is great and plucky street orphan family are great; it seems tragically rare to get lots of characters in this kind of book who are actually lower-class (and not secret nobility/royalty in disguise). Of course it's a historical romance so they have to get married at the end, which I was actually kind of sad about because Maggie makes a really good case all through for why they shouldn't get married and how annoying it would be for her to live a lie for the rest of her life, and I do not feel her legitimate issues were adequately addressed. They didn't have to get married! She could've been an opera singer!

Shadows of the Night meanwhile is not as much fun but is sort of more interesting in premise -- it starts out with demure protagonist Fern getting married, and then coming to a belated, depressing realization that VICTORIAN MARRIAGE IS THE WORST and she has just relinquished all control of her life AND THAT'S HORRIFYING.

Meanwhile, her new husband, Colin, is not, like, that terrible, I guess, as Victorian husbands go (I mean. he's pretty solidly terrible) but super bored and doesn't understand why this marriage thing seems more difficult than it should be, and why his wife seems faintly resentful all the time.

So they kind of fake smile at each other for the first chapter or so and have a horrible honeymoon and a horrible wedding night (well, Colin thinks it's boring but fine; Fern, again, is viscerally creeped out and unhappy about the power dynamics inherent in the system) and eventually things build to a head and Fern smacks Colin in the face, and Colin's like !!! ... well that wasn't boring? ...I kind of liked it ...?? ... do it again maybe? and Fern is just like WELL THANK GOD PUNCHING YOU IN THE FACE IS SOMETHING I CAN HAVE CONTROL OVER AT LAST.

So then they run off to a big Gothic house in the country to sort out their marriage and have a whole plotline with secret history and attempted murder, which is all fine but distracts a little bit from the heart of the book, which is this exploration of the subtle horror that are the expected power dynamics of a Victorian marriage and whether there's any way within the system to rectify that and make it bearable.

And I mean, of course this is a romance novel, so of course they do, and having them become mystery-solving buddies through their Gothic travails -- while a fun plot in and of itself! -- allows the book to kind of cheat out on the question. ( I mean, I guess the Victorian marriage is the subtextual horror at the heart of the Gothic genre anyway, so maybe if you take it out and make it the actual, textual horror, the rest of the Gothic plot can't help but distract.) But man, I'm still kind of impressed the question was explicitly asked.

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the real kwon
13 November 2014 @ 08:13 am
I really enjoyed Unspoken when it came out, so I waited until the trilogy was finished in order to zoom through a reread/first read of Untold and Unmade.

To recap, the premise: Sorry-in-the-Vale is a peaceful English town with a DARK SECRET! The Lynburns are the deeply dysfunctional local gentry who've just popped back in after twenty years abroad, possibly with SINISTER MAGIC POWERS, MURDEROUS IMPULSES and DESIRES TO RULE! Kami is the plucky teenaged journalist who is determined to EXPOSE ALL, mildly hampered by an inconvenient psychic soulbond to the youngest and most dysfunctional Lynburn! It's Sarah Rees Brennan, so everything is very quippy interspersed with periods of extremely intense emotion!

You probably know already if this is the sort of thing you like. In addition to a devotion to quips and a high level of joy in lampshading EXTREME GOTHIC TROPES, here are some other things that I like about the series:

- Kami has parents and a family, and increasingly they are involved and do things! (Kami's dad is wonderful and I have a deep emotional attachment to him. I do feel sort of bad for Kami's mom because while I appreciate her storyline I think she is literally the only person in the books who never gets to make a single clever quip. Sorry, Kami's mom!)
- families in general! lots of people having emotional arcs to do with weird complicated families that are nonetheless there for each other in important ways, mostly
- Kami's angry friend Angela whose anger is wonderful to me wonderful
- Kami's less angry friend Holly whose emotional self-confidence arc is wonderful to me
- and Kami herself, who is a nonstop bundle of terrifying energy and whom I love!
- generally a sense that the story takes place in a community where people know each other, and various people are affected by the EVIL GOINGS-ON! in different ways, and all of those people are important, not just the protagonists
- the B-plot romance is lesbians!

There is also a lot of complex love polygon soulbond-festooned relationship drama, which teetered frequently on the verge of being too much for me but usually managed to pull back into something non-annoying just in time. Slightly spoilery thoughts on thisCollapse )

Also a lot of people die! I will admit I was not expecting quite so many people to die and was effectively sad about their deaths. Depending on who you are, this may be a bug or a feature. More spoilersCollapse )

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the real kwon
09 November 2014 @ 10:44 am
I should have stopped for a Deep Space Nine episode write-up a few weeks ago, but at that point we were only two episodes away from Trials and Tribble-ations, and I was like, you know what, SCREW IT. WE'RE HOLDING OUT FOR TRIBBLES. And we did. And it was amazing.

The last four episodes of Season FourCollapse )

And the first six episodes of Season FiveCollapse )

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the real kwon
07 November 2014 @ 08:14 am
I kind of can't remember if Sherwood Smith's A Posse of Princesses is hypothetically tied into one of her larger universes or not. It stands perfectly well alone, anyway; one of those charming swashbuckling comedies of manners that involves a bunch of balls and swordfights but the real point is personal growth!

Our Heroine Rhis is the princess of a tiny mountain kingdom who loves BALLADS and ADVENTURE and whose first trip outside the kingdom involves a giant month-long house party in another, bigger kingdom, the point of which is to introduce the prince of said kingdom to ~all the eligible ladies~.

Aside from Rhis, main characters include:

- Prince Lios, who is charming and handsome and clearly having a blast, but seems to spend a lot of time conferring privately with
- Prince Lios' cute scribe, who seems to know massive amounts about foreign languages and diplomacy!

(I called where this was headed from the introduction of these characters, and I do enjoy how it was handled, though I would also have been A-OK with it turning out not that way too.)

- Rhis' new BFF, who like Rhis loves ballads and who also loves boys (but has a boyfriend at home! so she totally can't date any of the cute guys at the party! right? ...right?)
- Lios' sweet foreign cousin who is extremely great at lots of things but extremely bad at speaking the local language
- that warrior princess from the local tribe of horse nomads
- That Beautiful Mean Girl

(Sherwood Smith always has That Beautiful Mean Girl, and I always hope she's going to turn out to have inner depths after a rocky start and it never happens, alas. I did appreciate Lesser Mean Girl who grew out of being a mean girl and into an all-consuming obsession with horses. Well done, Lesser Mean Girl! Make something of your life!)

- that guy who is super into Rhis' new BFF (but she has a boyfriend at home! so she totally can't date any of the cute guys at the party! right? ...right?)
- that guy who's the son of the local troublemaking evil warlord, which obviously was never going to go wrong

So all these people hang out and have courtly drama until something snaps enough that they all get to have swashbuckling chase scenes across the country, and everyone starts growing into themselves and learning important things about their characters, and eventually all turns out well and it's all deeply charming! And Rhis has a romance and that's also very charming!

And then spoilers for the ending which is clearly Making A Point which is valid but which I also think is slightly sillyCollapse )

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