It's awesome how your attitudes change as you grow up.
In this case, I'm specifically talking about books--because I've been reading Laurie R. King's Monstrous Regiment of Women
, the second of the Mary Russell books, and reveling
in it, and trying to figure out exactly what about it I disliked so intensely the first time. I thought I was about fifteen then, but now that I'm actually immersing myself in it, even though I remember virtually nothing about the story, I clearly remember where I was
when I was reading it--we still had carpet down, and hadn't taken out the wall in my room, so it had to have been a few years pre-surgery. (Everything in my memory shifts either to the left or the right of spinal surgery.) So I had to have been twelve or thirteen, and waaaay too young for it.
Usually I've had the reverse experience, growing out
of books and discovering they're actually...mediocre. When I was about eight, I spent a whole summer reading fifty or so Nancy Drew books, then had an abrupt realization that I was bored of them. Still, I developed a massive interest in "detecting" stories, and I think it was around that time that I ran into "The Speckled Band" in a collection of stories. It terrified me--and I sneaked back to it nearly every week to re-read it.
I think I must have read the majority of the Sherlock Holmes canon by the time I was twelve, and ran into Mary Russell around the time we got internet, because our public library had a page of recommendations for young adult readers, and Beekeeper's Apprentice
was on it. By the time I got to Monstrous Regiment
, it frustrated me by a certain absence of Holmes, and I found the events of the last third faaaar too intense and disturbing for me at the time, and I think I skipped over bits. I had a keen sense that the book was too old for me, though I'd already devoured the first one several times. And then there was, agh, ROMANCE.
And now I go, EEEE ROMANCE. *falls over* What can I say
? Seriously, some of the descriptions alone make me want to run around the room and flail. Like, pretty much every scene in which Holmes actually appears--and all of his his snark. Russell's sensitivity to his presence, and all her dawning realizations of her feelings. That bit where Veronica Beaconsfield is talking about Holmes' "attractiveness" as coming from his very austerity--and then concludes that he'd be "totally maddening in reality." It is also running my imagination positively wild considering events from Holmes' POV. *flailflailflail*
I LOVE THIS. *hugs book*
(Oh, and I have to mention: since I've read all of the subsequent novels, I'd been wondering why there's never been any real mention of Conan Doyle's fairy articles, because it had always seemed to me that it would be a RIOT to get Holmes' reaction to that. AND HERE IT IS. Seriously, WHY did I not re-read this book sooner? <3 <3 <3)
LOOK what mrjournals
drew me! Everything she does is gorgeous, but...but...I.... *flail* It's Jelvari, in flowy, flowery loveliness. It is so perfect I have no words. Her eyes
! Her hair
! Ocean background and all of those bold, bold colors, and the folds in her clothes, and the swirly details.... I WANT TO KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT. *flail*
I love this, I love this, ohhhh, I can't say how much I love this. <3 <3 I love it even more, maybe, because even though I've written
Jelvari dressed up for a few special occasions, I almost always draw
her in the most utilitarian clothes, and it is wonderful to actually see her looking...well, gorgeous. <3
Unrelated squee: if all goes as planned, I will be in possession of my own car next week. Yes, my own
! Stay tuned....
A backlog of books...I'm kinda failing this year in my resolutions to write about everything I read. (A resolution I've stuck with for nearly three years now--nooo, cannot start slacking now!)Sapphique, Catherine Fisher
Sequel to INCARCERON, which I rambled about here
. I have to admit right off, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first one, and I think that was mainly because Claudia wasn’t so prominent, and I also thought the Keiro and Attia side of the storyline dragged just a little? Also, I re-read the conclusion three times before I felt like I really got a handle on what had happened. Not only that, but oh, SO many loose ends. *gnashes teeth* WHY does Catherine Fisher not understand that it begs for a sequel?! How can she care so little about her characters?
Without spoiling anything: the story picks up a few months after the first one. Finn is trying (and failing) to learn princely behavior, and is obsessed with his promises he made to Keiro, and is not particularly thrilled with his new fate. Throw in an imposter prince who looks and acts much more of a prince than Finn, plus the very obvious reality that Queen Sia is not through plotting, and there are Dangerous Complications.
Again without spoiling anything, though I am extremely tempted: Jared is awesomeness and win and I fangirl
him, because he sticks to their cause at the expense of himself, and…yes. *flail* I hope the movie is worth something and does Jared justice, because I desperately want to do Jared/Claudia music videos. (I already have ideas in my head, but naturally…lack material.) I have also made roughly a dozen different attempts at drawing Jared, but can’t exactly pin down my impressions, and it’s frustrating
. Here’s one I did
—but I’m not really happy with it, so I didn't finish it out. *sigh* Am still trying….
Must also add that if you finish it and find the conclusion unsatisfying, particularly in how Jared and Claudia end up, rj_anderson
has written very satisfying fic
that brings some fulfillment to those of us desperate Jared/Claudia shippers, and quite neatly ties up some other loose ends too. Yay! (mrjournals
, you will certainly want to read it!)The Fairies of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, by Laini Taylor
I really liked this book, but it did not altogether win
me, and I was about half-way through it before it really grabbed me. Due mostly, I think, to a combination of fantasy ingredients that leave me a little cold (djinn and demons always do, I’m afraid), and maybe more than that, the characters’ pervasive dialogue tics. There was just an awful lot going on in the book, so many creatures and magic systems and histories and prophecies, that it slightly overwhelmed the story, and even though I love a deep and intricate fantasy world, I also like it to be a little more…orderly. Whew.
But I think that’s mostly reflective of my own personal preferences. It had a lot of other things I quite liked. Yay, tough warrior faeries! Magpie was much awesomeness, and I loved Talon, and his skin-making, and also the whole idea of magic performed by holding glyphs in the mind—very, very cool. (And there was a line closer to the end, I think, about some spell being “a calculus of magic” which made me flail a little—description love!) The way Magpie was able to face the Magruwen and show him something of artless inventiveness and creativity, and the potential in small, “butterfly” things. All of the backstory about Bellatrix and her romance with Kipepeo (whose name, by the way, I love) was so very wah. *loves*
So yes…I will probably read the sequel eventually. :DPlain Kate, by Erin Bow
I have no words. Though I think that’s all right by now, because I’ve seen this book popping up on book blogs everywhere, and people have raved about it much more successfully than I could. What a gorgeous, gorgeous book…honestly, I will read anything
Erin Bow should write in the future, because her prose is deliciously addicting.
The plot: Plain Kate is a gifted woodcarver, and the setting is a very old Russian-esque one, very suspicious and superstitious. In this world, her skill looks like witchcraft, and being suspected of witchcraft is dangerous…and lonely. More so after her father’s death. To escape the looming danger, she bargains with a stranger named Linay who promises to give her her heart’s wish in exchange for her shadow. Why her shadow? There the story gets progressively darker and darker…and so achingly lonely in places, as this dark suspicion of witchcraft keeps following her and causing hurt both to herself and to those she befriends. But the absolutely beautiful moments are so, SO worth all of the darkness.
And of course, there is also Taggle, the cat who gains the gift of speech in response to Kate’s heart’s wish for a companion. BAH. Best cat EVAR. Cami, oh, Cami, you would adore
him—I was sorely tempted to dog-ear all the spots of awesome dialogue, but I didn’t, because it was a library book…. But yeah. What I loved most about his speech is that it is so very
Cat. It is as insightfully Cat as Eliot is in Practical Cats
Heh, admittedly, one of the other reasons for my fangirling may simply be my long-held fanaticism over anything remotely Russian. (Mostly Russian literature, but you really can’t read it knowledgeably without delving into the culture and folklore too. I think I would have gone further with it, if my Russian history professor in college hadn’t scarred me for life…I still have nightmares about his map quizzes. XD) But anyway—PLAIN KATE isn’t decidedly Russian either, which I think helps elevate it to something like dark folk-tale/fairy-tale status, and I love that. (Setting-wise, the only thing I can think of that it vaguely reminds me of is Trumpeter of Krakow
? Except that I really dislike that book, for various reasons…so the analogy ends there.)
Very highly recommend it.
Seem to have suddenly and dramatically pulled through my art block this week...after forcing myself to sit down and draw anything I could think of for a straight three hours on Saturday. Roughly 75% of it was all awful, but! I am happy with a few things, at least, and I think some stylistic strides have been made too. Apologies in advance that these are all related to my own writing--I've done a few fandom things too recently, but am saving them for whenever I actually write up some corresponding book commentary. XD Also, I am having an extreme itch to do Mistborn fanart, since there's not much I've found to please me...but anyway.
Treljerin/Sohvi shippy-ness pic, for yay! <3 I haven't done colored pencils in awhile, so I was happy with how this turned out--though skin tones and blond hair continue to cause me angst. (There is no undo button with colored pencils! D:) I showed this one to Abi, not realizing that she's been out of the story loop for so long that Trel/Sohvi is News To Her, and she said that "Sohvi did not look like someone Treljerin would end up with." XD Heh, heh...this is Jelvari's thought exactly. (Actually, more like, "My brother has lost his mind
And Kirotis/Marisanthe (yes, I've shortened her name--does that seem easier, Cami?), not-quite-shippy. Mari is going to go through a lot of reinventing I think in my rewrite...it was 2006 when I last messed with her. >.< I am actually trying to decide if re-reading that draft would be helpful, or if I should try to forget it as much as I possibly can.
And this is so far future that it's not really even on my writing radar at the moment, but much older Kirotis coming back to his city, to Jelvari's, heh, "formal" greeting...as Head of State, etc, she's supposed to express approval about his return, though not too much. This may be too much. ^^
And now to supper, thence to prayer meeting. :) If this very ominous storm does not break over us sometime in the next hour.... *eyes swirling clouds dubiously*
I have been flailing a little over all
of the gorgeous steampunk jewelry
showcased lately over on the EPBOT blog, but the one thing I have fallen in love
with and desperately want?The Aquitaine Sundial Ring
No wait...I may actually want this more: A Nocturnal Stardial
*dies* Would I use it?
. Why of course
, I would. I already give impromptu lectures on constellations to anybody in my vicinity. This will merely make them
flee even faster
hang on my every word!
Want. So. Badly.And perhaps my drooling over it is not a little influenced by all of this research I've been doing lately on celestial navigation before the Renaissance. Yeah.
Mistborn: The Final Empire, Brandon Sanderson
I can hardly begin to go into detail about all the little things I enjoyed about this book, not without spoiling lots of things. I love fantasy worlds with very scientific magic systems, and this one is really one of the coolest I've ever seen. Here, it's "allomancy"--certain individuals can burn certain metals internally to enhance certain sensory abilities, or acquire other powers. Most can only burn one metal--but the ones they call "Mistborn" can burn all of them. Kelsier is a half-skaa Mistborn who's determined to bring down the empire and free the skaa--and also, as it becomes clear, get his revenge on the immortal and god-like Lord Ruler. As he's putting together his (insane) plot, he finds Vin, a street-urchin skaa--and a Mistborn as well. And sets about training her to her full potential, to integrate her into his plot.
Vin...Vin is incredibly awesome. A really smart, complex, and capable female character, though not without her blind spots. She starts out so suspicious and street-wise, and while she never loses her wariness, her evaluations of people gradually become more generous, a little more accepting, and you're carried along with it. (And then, if you're like me, you get a little blindsided by her naivete.) The whole process of her transformation from street urchin to someone who can actually blend in at court is a gradual, believable change...marked by nervousness that in the process, she may lose who she is. I love it too that she's small and not particularly impressive, but has all these deadly powers. ^^ Yeah, I identified with that. (Well. Not the deadly powers bit, but one can dream....)
She's also a fascinating contrast to Kelsier--she's willing to believe that maybe not all
noblemen are evil, while he's ready to make very sweeping generalizations about their evilness. (Neither position is without some justification--she's clearly a little too naive, and he's clearly a little too biased.) But that one scene where she calls him out, and tells him he's more nobleman than skaa...man
, I loved that, for how it exposed some of his latent prejudices. I don't know why, but I'm a little conflicted about Kelsier, and I liked seeing him get owned. Charismatic, but gah, teh ego!
I also pretty much fangirl Sazed, the steward, because he's that scholarly, loyal, protective figure who stands in the background and you underestimate him for awhile until he suddenly does something fantastic
. But I don't want to spoil that any more than I already have. Very much hope there's more of him to come.
Quite looking forward to reading the other two! Thanks so much for the rec, rose_in_shadow
I also read THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman today, which I really liked, somewhat to my surprise...because I'm generally a bit wary of books that tend to the macabre, even if they are children's books. But actually, what shocked me more is how much I adored Silas...which means that for the first time in my life I have very nearly fangirled
a vampire. But he's like...if Bagheera were a vampire, and we all know that Bagheera is awesomeness. (As far as vampires go: the original DRACULA petrified me when I first read it, but I'm just not interested in the more modern tropes. I can't seem to make myself care. Similarly with zombies--though with zombies, I honestly don't even understand
I am going to try to do this sans spoilers, which is going to be difficult. There are also drawings, one of which is sliiiightly spoilery. ^^Arrow, R.J. Anderson
So I think I have now successfully gotten at least half a dozen friends to read these books, but if you haven't already...consider yourself further pressured. I love them for the superbly developed characters, and the delicious prose, and the subtlety of their message, and totally satisfying dashes of romance. (So many sweet, shivery things!) They're really everything I've loved about various things I read as a kid, all rolled up into one package of awesomeness.
And I think this one has ended up being my favorite. It further expands on the faery world as we know it already, and picks up exactly where Wayfarer/Rebel
left off, with war imminent. (By the way, I also love how these books gradually and progressively expand outward to show you more of the faeries...and also that there are distinct perspectives and behaviors attached to each pocket of faery culture as we meet them.) Anyway, the focus this time is on Rhosmari, one of the Children of Rhys, who is determined to get back the Stone of Naming and avert involving the Children of Rhys in the conflict.
I am trying to even come up with all the reasons why I love Rhosmari. She’s book-smart and observant, and she has such a distinct and wonderful arc--totally realistic moments of doubt, where her perceptions of the world around her are simultaneously mistrustful and a little naive. (Her encounter with racism was heart-breaking--yet I so, SO appreciated that this wasn’t ignored, and when it came up at various points throughout the story, it was truly given the full weight of its ugliness, and yet it did so by being There without being The Point. Extremely effective, very balanced, and there needs to be more of this.) She has such a high standard of personal integrity, a need to be sure
of what she thinks, and of what side she’s on, and this ends up becoming a very realistic crisis point when she encounters the Empress. I also love what her arc says about firm belief, in that even though she’s very pacifist, this in no way means she is passive
, or that she’s unable to fight, or that she a weak person, or that she’s incapable of bending to do what a situation needs her to do—without betraying her principles. I found her fascinatingly complex, and really identified with her on so many counts.
satisfying conclusion to everything set up in the first two books (though there will be more, eeee!), and I think I am still flailing a little over the Totally Satisfying Romance too. Srsly. As much fun as it is to ship characters...it is so Uber Wonderful to get fulfillment. ^^
And here are my Outtakes of Squee, which I cannot organize in any fashion at all, so forgive me:Valerian
: I. Love. Her. And since I was madly shipping her with spoiler
, I was devestated by spoiler
--and I think I love her even more though it breaks my heart
that she can subvert her feelings because, as the Queen, she is driven to give, and doesn’t draw attention to herself. Those "austere and lonely offices," you know. Yet she’s regal without coldness, and commands so much respect. Anyway. She is awesomeness. For more than just this...the way she deals with arguments, and opposition, with such cool grace
: Well. I totally want to ship her with Broch now, but I don't know how she'd react to that. ^^ But seriously--she has some epic crankiness. Also (HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER) I was scared silly for a second near the end that she'd died. NOOOO. The computer named Burbage
: Need I say more?Martin
: Is BAD, and thus, also awesome, and I want to draw him as he first appears when he's begging Rhosmari to hide him. His interaction with Lyn is also a delight.Paul
: I haven't been nearly squeeful enough about Paul. But then he (HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER) KO'd a Blackthorn as payback for stabbing Peri, and thus, OFFICIALLY WINS AT LIFE.
And way more that I cannot list. If you haven't guessed from that, there are a lot of minor characters I FANGIRL, which is another reason to read these books. It is sort of...incredible to me that there is this much development of supporting characters in such contained bits, and in the midst of whirling action at that, but that's really the genius of it. So you must read them. And see for yourself.
There are also arts that I did! Yay, arts! These books make me want to draw. I blame teh faeries. ^^
Rhosmari, when she escapes in the tunnel "like a loosed arrow," and also a second, wingless one. I did her wings wrong in the first one -- because I hadn't read far enough yet to know that they were blue and purple butterfly wings. *headdesk* I thought about redoing this...but I'd have to redo the whole color scheme to match. Figures I had to go with greens and browns--I'd seriously considered reds first, which I could have fixed more easily.
Rhosmari and Timothy in the pipe -- wings corrected this time. Mmmm, I loved this scene....Rhosmari tilted the beam upwards, and beneath its softened glow the two of them met face to face." (pg. 274)
And next...I hope to ramble a lot about the first book of the Mistborn
trilogy, while I am still in a state of SQUEE AND FLAIL. (*cough* Um, I fangirl Sazed LIEK MAD, so prepare yourself. I seem to have this terrible tendency for finding secondary characters to lavish all of my wuv on. And I begin to see a pattern...all of the main characters in my own stories? Tend to start out as secondary characters. Yeah.)
Snagged from rose_in_shadow
!List fifteen of your favorite characters from different series, and ask people to spot patterns in your choices, and if they're so inclined, to draw conclusions about you based on the patterns they've spotted.
No particular order!
1. Eugenides (Queen's Thief)
2. Sherlock Holmes
3. Samantha Carter (Stargate: SG-1)
4. Peter Wiggin (Ender's Game)
5. Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)
6. Midna (Legend of Zelda)
7. Peeta (Hunger Games)
8. Horatio Hornblower
9. Europe (Monster-Blood Tattoo)
10. Sokka (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
11. Jill Pole (Chronicles of Narnia)
12. Uhura (Star Trek)
13. Faramir (Lord of the Rings)
14. Vicky Austin (Madeleine L'Engle)
15. Jared Sapiens (Incarceron)
*tilts head* Hmmm.
(By the way, I have been following all of this casting stuff for the Incarceron movie, and I am not quite sure yet what I feel about the Emma Watson as Claudia rumor. Maybe it just that she's nothing like my mental image? I am, I have to admit, rather intrigued
with the idea of seeing her do something that is scary and cold and very not Hermione. ^^ But admittedly, I'm way more concerned about who they cast as Jared.)
Busy lately with various things…mostly writing, actually. Even though my method currently seems to be: write 200 words, edit 200 words completely out of existence, rewrite 200 words, edit out 100 of them…oh, wait a second, I should do this whole section from a different POV…. *scratch* I think I’m mainly just out of practice, and having some serious trouble focusing. But things are getting done…even if it is all just backstory stuff helping me stall working on the actual rewrite. *hides from it*
But I’ve been reading too…..Conspirata, Robert Harris
Second book in this trilogy about Cicero, and I think I would have enjoyed it more if there hadn’t been so much…skippable stuff in it, and also some fairly strong language here and there. :-S
Still, it was very historically accurate and well-researched, and story-wise, I think I liked it better than the first one. There was less summary and much more doing
-- and Cicero’s transformation into being totally stuck on himself after his successful speech against Catiline was amusing, and really awful, and so utterly realistic
at the same time. Harris does a really excellent job of making his characters line up to historical facts while still making these developments the plausible outcomes of their character…not as if the events were mere marks he had to hit along the way. If that makes any sense? It’s quite fluid, and doesn’t feel like intentional
I do have a slight quibble about his depiction of Caesar though, because it really seemed to end up a bit extreme here. Portrayed as a bit more insane psychopath than…very shrewd politician and diplomat, not to mention military genius. I just don’t quite buy the “the world is just a joke” attitude, because I haven’t really seen that in anything I’ve studied. Scarily ambitious, yes, and totally in it all for himself, extremely rash, and also freakishly calculated
down to a minute level (reading him in Latin…the cold exactitude
of his language). But here…hm. His personality just felt slightly off to me, like Harris was trying to make him resemble some of the more…unhinged Roman emperors. Many of the assumptions aren’t without basis, if you read between the lines and need explanation for some of his decisions, but personally, I just didn’t quite find it believable as it went on. Still, with everything tinted by Tiro’s perspective, some of this can come down on the side of bias. *g*
And I actually translated Cicero’s denunciation of Catiline in college (“Oh, the times! Oh, the morals!”), so that was awfully cool to actually see it written out in action like that. One of the best scenes in the book, definitely. Yay!
I’m quite looking forward to the last book, especially seeing how Harris deals with some of the upcoming angst
in Cicero’s life. Yup. ^^
Poor Timothy is having to read House of the Seven Gables
for literature right now, and since I somehow escaped it both in high school and in college, I’m reading it too so I can help him with it. You know…I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to nineteenth century lit—antebellum women’s lit and slave narratives ended up being my secondary focus—and I really try not to judge the literature of the time by contemporary standards…but ugh, I fiercely
dislike Hawthorne. I hate the way he hangs onto his metaphors and bleeds them dry
. I can’t stand how he spends fifty pages on the description of a garden, never mind how in-your-face symbolic it is. Don’t get me started on the portrayal of the Puritans. Or on his nastily condescending descriptions of women. (And really, most of my annoyance could be partially the influence of nineteenth century American women’s lit, because it’s vastly ignored, and yet ends up much more realistic, and the women characters often have awesome depth—and now I just can’t help seeing infuriating stereotypes in all the supposed classics by male authors of the time. Anyway. Brief rant—if I’m a feminist, I’m only a nineteenth century one, heh. :P)
I have a much more fun stack of books accumulating, after I finish this though. First book of the Mistborn
trilogy, which rose_in_shadow
recommended, a few other younger YA things, plus Sapphique
--should it ever come in from the library
. Wheee! (Speaking of Arrow
, I actually had a dream that I got an empty package
, and not the real book. SADNESS. Yes, I angst
Abi and I went to see Megamind
this afternoon, and okay, seldom have I adored
something quite so much. The characters are just totally delightful, the plot is tight, and the dialogue is infinitely
quotable and full of wit, and I love it to pieces
. (And I am happy I finally found a theater that wasn't showing it in 3D. Because 3D makes me ill.)
And now, how about
some thoughts on Voyage of the Dawn Treader
I still feel mostly confused
about the movie, because I really wanted to like it, and there were some parts I really did like. I loved the beginning scenes, how the painting came to life, etc. I really
loved Reepicheep, and I was surprised by how well they developed Eustace's friendship with him. (And Eustace was awesomely Eustace - very well cast, oh, yes.) And...yeah, seeing dragon!Eustace fight the sea serpent was awfully cool. And I really did rather like the expansion on Lucy's moment with the page out of the magician's book. But the moments I liked were interspersed with moments of total "WHAT," that I really felt like I was being torn between fluctuating opinions too much to just enjoy
it. (In exemplum: like the way they tossed Eustace's transformation in with getting the last stupid sword. Liked the transformation scene - even if it wasn't quite spot on - but I was almost too distracted by all the stupid location hopping and Insert Sword Here stuff that I just kind of...gave up.)
Which brings me to...The Mist. I'm...sorry, I just...man. Are there words to express my annoyance with this whole concept? See, I wouldn't have minded so much if The Mist just happened to appear and coincide with each instance of temptation and/or testing, as some Uber-Obvious symbol. It's when they turn it into this actual physical FORCE OF EVIL, which for some reason requires slaves as sacrifices and seven completely random swords to break the spell that I start getting irritated. I mean...why
? WHY? Even my dad, who does not watch many movies and hasn't even read the Narnia books, thought this whole thing was completely absurd.
I know Dawn Treader
doesn't hang together particularly well as a book, but I don't understand why they had to turn it into something it wasn't to make a movie out of it...and turn it into something that didn't hang together particularly well either. Couldn't they have upped the Let's Unify Narnia quotient? Why does fantasy have to devolve into stereotypical Save the World from a Nameless Threat? I'd be the first to admit that the book would need a more obvious unifying theme to work as a movie, but it seems like they could have found something better. Lame.
*siiiigh* I didn't completely loathe it, but like with Prince Caspian
, I have no strong desire to re-watch it.
And I really want
to look forward to The Silver Chair
, because I love it WAY TOO MUCH (and it was just a little exciting to have Jill's name mentioned at the end of this one), but...I'm afraid I'm going to have to settle for cynicism so's not to set myself up for massive disappointment again. :-/