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Books [Jan. 29th, 2017|11:12 pm]

Tempting though it's been to spend the last few weeks opening 1984 or The Handmaid's Tale at random pages and going: Oh, God, I have done a wee bit of other (mostly escapist) reading.

The Regional Office is Under Attack! - Manuel Gonzales
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers
Invasive - Chuck Wendig
Mort(e) - Robert Repino
The Nuns of Sant'Ambrogio: the true story of a convent in scandal - Hubert Wolf

At first glance The Regional Office is Under Attack! should have been so very much in my wheelehouse. There's a top secret agency of super-powered women saving us all from the forces of darkness! There's a splinter group of super-powered women! One of the main women has a metal arm! It's basically Die Hard with super-powered ladies! There's an exclamation mark in the title!

But, alas. It does that annoying thing where it pretends to be about women, but all the female characters are motivated/manipulated by a dude. The characterisations are thin, and I mean thin even by the standards of a Die Hard pastiche. The writing is, in places, just... not very good. I mean, the Regional Office itself seemed really cool, and there was an afterthought of a subplot where a character got taken over by her metal arm, and - it was like this book chose to tell the least interesting of all possible stories in the world it had created.

Luckily The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was much better. Okay, there wasn't much of a plot to speak of, it's basically a found family/group of misfits in space, but I didn't care because it was one of those books where I would have been more than happy to read about these characters doing not very much and bouncing off each other forever. There are great characters, fun worldbuilding, interesting aliens, and a lesbian romance featuring a human and a lizard alien; it was basically Jenny and Vastra IN SPACE. I can't overemphasise how much fun this was.

Invasive is about weaponised ants, because however bad things seem right now at least the ants aren't attacking. It's really fast-paced and fun, but maybe don't read it if you're afraid of insects, because I'm not at all and some of the bits about the sensation of insects crawling on your skin made even me squirm.

Mort(e) is also about an ant attack. In this the Ant Queen has been plotting war against humanity for thousands of years, and as part of her plan she gives housepets sentience in the hope that they'll rise up and kill their human masters. It's worth noting that while reading this I actually turned to my dog and earnestly said: "I love you very, very much, please don't kill me in the event of the insect uprising. Also, please remember that I gave you this rich tea biscuit even though you're not meant to have person food."

Also, in addition to sentience, the animals also get to be bipedal with opposable thumbs, and understand the use of semiautomatic weapons. I mean, it's mad as fuck, but it does that thing that some truly ridiculous books can, where they overshoot their silliness and come out the other side at really quite good, actually.

Sometimes I can be heard to complain about how hard it can be to talk to people on Tumblr, and it is, but one evening I managed to get involved a conversation that went from whether or not or I should write a La Maupin AU, to my own lapsed Catholicism, to Celtic FC, to people sending me recs for books about nuns, which was how The Nuns of Sant'Ambrogio came to my attention.

It's non-fiction about a nineteenth century Roman convent, featuring the attempted murder of a German princess by a nun, several other murders, lesbian initiation rites, and the ensuing cover up by the Catholic church. It was certainly a book where I had to readjust my expectations partway into the book, because I went into it expecting, I guess, 19th century nuns gone wild, and what I got was much dryer and sadder. I mean, it's interesting, especially if you have even a passing interest in religious history, but it's not salacious in the way the summary makes it sound.

Although, because the more things change the more they stay the same, I really enjoyed this quote from around the time of the First Vatican Council and the Dogma of Papal Infallibility: "Stupidity and fanaticism join hands and dance the tarantella, making such a caterwaul that one cannot bear to look or listen." Because, yeah.

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What. Is. Happening. [Jan. 22nd, 2017|10:57 pm]
So, they inaugurated Trump. And, like, because my brain has spent two and half months doing the Signal Not Found thing at the very notion of President Donald Trump I didn't realise how much denial I'd been in. That on some level I'd been assuming that it wouldn't actually happen, that something so catastrophically damaging that he'd be forced to stand down would come to light, or that he'd be caught on camera taking off his person suit like in that episode of The Simpsons (what, they were right about the presidency.)

It turns out that blind refusal to accept reality doesn't work, who knew.

Speaking of abject refusal of objective fact, I wonder how long it'll take to discover what the Trump people were trying to distract from by screaming about the inauguration numbers. I suspect that the next four years are going to be a good time to bury the lede; even today in the UK the headline was PATHOLOGICAL LIAR LIES, and way, way down in second place was THAT TIME WE NEARLY NUKED FLORIDA AND FORGOT TO TELL ANYONE, LOL.

Speaking of our vainglorious leaders, Theresa May seems to have decided to drive us all off the Brexit cliff edge, apparently emboldened by the way Donald Trump decidedly didn't promise Michael Gove a trade deal. I can almost enjoy the irony that the selfsame people who were screaming British sovereignty! at the top of their lungs are now so eager to hurry us into our inevitable future as Airstrip One, then I remember that this is really happening.

And Nicola Sturgeon, despite her almost heroic efforts to avoid saying the words: 'second independence referendum' out loud or in the vicinity of any recording devices, has backed herself into a corner where she either has to call a second referendum that she probably can't win or be seen as totally ineffective when it comes to dealing with the Tories over Brexit.

I voted for independence last time, and maybe I'm just that much more cynical now, but I feel like the choice right now would be between being Cold Greece inside the EU or a wholly owned subsidiary of Little England and by extension the Trump Corporation outside it. I mean, I know what I'd chose, but still.

In conclusion, Dear Talisker distillery, take all my money, send scotch.

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Dog Name Meme [Jan. 14th, 2017|07:21 pm]
I mildly suspect that in its original form this meme was about baby names...

1) What would/did you name your first [dog]?

Cyril. After which I was banned from naming the family pets.

2) What do you think makes a good name for a [dog]?

Human names that have fallen into disuse. This is why I have had dogs called Cyril, Eustace, and Vera, and why I seriously considered calling Freya Brunhilda (Hilda for short).

3) What do you think makes a bad name for a [dog]?

Anything you'd be too embarrassed to scream at the top of your lungs as a dog disappears into the middle distance.

4) What's a name that you love, but would never give a [dog]? Why?

Patrick. As in: Pat-the-Dog. I'll show myself out.

5) Did you do a good job naming your [dog]?

I failed with my out of fashion human names for dogs with Freya, as it turns out that there actually are a lot of little girls called Freya running around Scotland. On the other hand I did get the world's cutest three year old toddling up to ask what the doggy's name was, and when I told her the doggy was called Freya, her eyes went as wide as golf balls as she went: ...that's my name.

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fyi [Jan. 13th, 2017|09:23 pm]
I'm offering fic for the [tumblr.com profile] fandomtrumpshate auction (get fanworks; help fight He Who Must Not Be Named.)

Officially I'm offering fic of up to 10k in Person of Interest, ASOIAF/GoT, Supergirl, and The Rook fandoms, but if you're interested in something else I've written before or you know that I know, I'm flexible. (My AO3 page for reference.)

You can bid on me here.

And browse other people's offers here. I've already put a bid in on one of my favourite authors, and quite liked being able to combine doing a good thing with 'here is how much I appreciate you and your writing in stark numerical terms.'

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Holidays [Jan. 10th, 2017|07:53 pm]
So, I think because we had such a blow out in Galway last Hogmanay, and because 2016 had been largely, well, on fire, I had been putting a lot of pressure on myself to have an awesome time visiting my sister over New Year, and, well, um...

Things didn't get off to the greatest of starts even before I left. The guy who had offered to look after my dog (asked to look after her, really, as he's trying to convince his partner to get a puppy and wanted to show her what it'd be like with two dogs in the house) turned around and said: "By the way, we've got a cat. That won't be a problem, will it?" And, I dunno, man, are you very attached to your cat? My dog charges the telly when there are cats on-screen. So, I had a couple of fretful days looking at ferry charges and trying to work out if my breakdown cover would apply in Ireland (my car is made of rust and runs on happy thoughts) before the dog walker who takes Freya for me when I'm on double shifts said she'd be happy to take her for the week.

I hadn't seen my sister in nearly a year, and when we're getting along there's no-one I like better in the whole wide world, so I was really looking forward to spending a week with her. Unfortunately when we're not getting along the experience is akin to sticking your head in a bucket of wet cement, and I arrived to find her in a wet cement mood. She said she was loaded with the cold, and just off having to work over Christmas, and her plan for the upcoming week involved taking a bunch of sleeping tablets while I watched Netflix very quietly in another room.

So I spent the first night and a bit of my holidays huddled under my coat because it was too cold to sleep, alternating between watching Stranger Things (I liked it fine, but feel like I might have enjoyed it just as much if not more in my own house where there's central heating and a dog) and trying desperately to find an early flight home (for three hundred euros I could have flown from Dublin to Glasgow via Brussels and Heathrow over the course of nine and a bit hours; at one point I had my credit card in hand). The best thing that can be said about the beginning of the holiday is that my sister's flatmates were in Brazil. Because they're Brazilian, not because there's something about my sister that makes you want to flee for Latin America, although. Meaning I could at least sleep on the couch; if we'd had to share her box-room like usual I think there would have been a murder done; that or I would have a lovely souvenir from Brussels airport.

As siblings are wont to, my sister and I made up the next morning, and she confessed that part of her terrible mood upon my arrival had been that she'd taken a fistful of drugs the day before and had still been coming down.

(Sidebar: I don't have a problem with drugs. I don't partake, largely because I like my mood altering substances Scotch flavoured. But if you can keep it recreational and you're staying away from the stuff that will kill you, then you do you. The exceptions to this rule are if you are my baby sister, or if your system of measurement is by the fucking fist.)

So that was another argument; I feel like my pro-sobriety pitch might have carried more weight if I hadn't been holding a pint of Guinness while I was making it.

So I spent the first half of the holiday drinking alone and wandering around Galway. There's something particularly disheartening about going to the Atlantic Aquarium of Ireland by oneself (mostly cod; some eels.)

Eventually my sister and I did properly make up with the aid of a lot of Guinness, me trying to sound less judge-y about the drugs, her letting me turn the space heater on at night, and all the episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Her favourite character is Captain Holt, mine is Jake; this tells you everything you need to know about our relationship.

Speaking of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the moment of sisterly bonding I'd been looking for came courtesy of the most recent episode with us both going: What? What?? What?!?

I had thought the first thing I'd want to do in Ireland was see Rogue One, but the night before I left Carrie Fisher died, and that kind of took the wind out of my Star Wars sails. We did see it eventually, and I liked it, although spoilersCollapse )

What else? Um, Guinness still terribly more-ish and inexplicably nicer in Ireland than it is in Scotland. Beer wise, I also enjoyed Galway Hooker, more for the name than the taste.

OH! The night before I left I got spontaneously chatted up (in a not-gay nightclub, to boot!) by a hot nerd who looked a bit like Jennifer Lawrence who thought I had pretty hair and we got talking about shipping Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. The bad news: fucking Ireland; the good news: when she said I had pretty hair I managed to bite my tongue before I said I just hadn't washed it - my flirting game has improved flibberty-gibbet percent.

So I was just starting to enjoy myself when I had to come home. Like, yeah, two thirds of the holiday were pretty shit, on the other hand, I'm apparently cute in Ireland. I picked my dog up, and she's been staging a sulk that would make a three year old proud. I worried she'd picked up a bit of kennel cough, but no, the little bugger was just growling at me. She's a wee madam.

I downloaded the second season of Humans to start watching on the journey back. I'm really enjoying it so far; lots of Niska, little of Colin Morgan's stupid face.

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2016 Books Meme [Jan. 6th, 2017|02:21 pm]

I'm at naught for naught so far in 2017 (I meant to read a lot on my holidays, but everywhere had wifi, and also I was pretty drunk a lot of the time) so lets talk more about last year's books.

How many books read in 2016?


Heh, I remember when I used to hit the high seventies and shooting for a hundred books in a year didn't seem unreasonable. Stupid having to work for a living. I have now decided to aim for circa fifty-two; they're not going to revoke my bookworm card for 'only' managing to read a book a week.

Fiction/Non-Fiction ratio?

46 fiction.
9 non-fiction.

Male/Female authors?

34 female.
21 male.

Most books read by one author this year?

Rose Lerner and Tessa Dare (reading through their historical romance series'), Margaret Atwood (why can't I just accept that Atwood's writing does nothing for me?), Ben Aaronovitch (decided I do like the Rivers of London series after all), and Robert Jackson Bennett (WHEN does City of Miracles come out?)

Any in translation?

Nordic crime The Redbreast and Filipino crime novel Smaller and Smaller Circles.

Will try to do better next year.


Top five?

The Library at Mount Char - Scott Hawkins
Stiletto - Daniel O'Malley
Infomocracy - Malka Older
City of Stairs & City of Blades - Robert Jackson Bennett

Least Favorite?

I read a fair few mediocre books, but having adored Ready Player One a few years ago, the thirteen year old boy's wish fulfilment fantasy that is Ernest Cline's Armada was disappointing indeed.

Black Dog by Caitlin Kittredge managed to make girl hellhounds boring to me. And Emily Skrutskie's The Abyss Surrounds Us tragically managed to be not very good despite having both lesbians and sea monsters


Not sure.


I think I got Tana French's The Trespasser basically as soon as it came out, and I don't regret this.

Longest Title?

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, one of the better historical romances I read this year, with a hero on the autistic spectrum.

Shortest Title?

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Book that most changed my perspective:

Nothing really.

Next year I must try to be less preaching-to-the-choir in my non-fiction reading choices.

Favorite character:

Edie Bannister from Angelmaker, a badass octogenarian lesbian spy, whose secret weapon is the elderly pug she keeps in her handbag. The choice to kill her off at the three quarters mark to focus on the everyman character called, I kid you not, Joe Spork, is the source of grudge against Nick Harkaway that I intend to take to my grave.

Favorite scene:

Any one of the many times Odette and Felicity saved each others lives in Rook. Best enemies to friends to lovers arc ever

Favorite Quote:

Probably the opening paragraph of Rook.

To Felicity Jane Clements, Pawn of the Checquy Group and Ward of HM Government,

You are herewith called forth by the authority of the Lord and Lady, in accordance with your obligations and your oaths, to give service, in secret, for the protection and security of the Monarch, the People, and the soil of the British Isles.

On this day, you are to proceed with all haste into the London borough of Northam, to the location commanded. There, you will bend the abilities instilled within you to the task ordered.

To ensure that you remain unknown and that none will remark upon your presence, you will be given clothing to blend in among the populace.

To discourage civilians from approaching you, you will be sprayed with urine.

Bring milk and chocolate biscuits.

What do you want to read in 2017?

Good books, at least fifty-two of them.

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2016 in Books [Dec. 27th, 2016|06:53 pm]
I have to go to bed in a minute so that I can get up for my silly-o'clock flight to Dublin, so this year's rating system might have gone a bit weird.

1. When We Were Animals - Joshua Gaylord (extended metaphor; meh)
2. Aurora - Kim Stanley Robinson (humans are doomed; good)
3. The Library at Mount Char - Scott Hawkins (contemporary fantasy; YAY)
4. The Heart Goes Last - Margaret Atwood (spec-fic; meh-to-good)
5. The Guest Room - Chris Bohjalian (thriller; good)
6. Black Widow - Chris Brookmyre (scottish crime; good)
7. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie - Jennifer Ashley (historical romance; very good)
8. Black Dog - Caitlin Kittredge (girl hellhouds; the lower end of meh)
9. A Slip of the Keyboard - Terry Pratchett (I miss you, pterry; good)
10. The House of Shattered Wings - Aliette de Bodard (historical fantasy; probably actually good, but meh)
11. Armada - Ernest Cline (13 yr old boy wish fufillment; very meh)
12. The Redbreast - Jo Nesbo (nordic crime; does what it says on the tin)
13. Sweet Disorder - Rose Lerner (historical romance; good)
14. Day Four - Sarah Lotz (horror; fine)
15. In the Labyrinth of the Drakes - Marie Brennan (lady dragon scientist; YAY)
16. Jane Steele - Lyndsay Faye (serial killer Jane Eyre; YAY)
17. The Three - Sarah Lotz (horror; eh, fine)
18. True Pretenses - Rose Lerner (historical romance; points deducted for Tories)
19. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel - Sara Farizan (teenage lesbians; made me happy in my heart)
20. The Just City - Jo Walton (thought experiment fantasy; fine-to-good)
21. Waiting for Doggo - Mark Mills (dogs; why did I read this, again?)
22. League of Dragons - Naomi Novik (dragons, lower-case-yay)
23. Forty Signs of Rain - Kim Stanley Robinson (humans are doomed, points deducted for pervy protagonist)
24. The Language of Secrets - Ausma Zehanat Khan (canadian crime; fine-to-good)
25. Angelmaker - Nick Harkaway (contemporary fantasy; loses ALL THE POINTS for killing off the lesbian octogenarian spy; bad book, no biscuit)
26. Birthdays for the Dead - Stuart MacBride (scottish crime; ew)
27. The Witches: Salem, 1692 - Stacy Schiff (non-fiction; some witches, mostly footnotes)
28. Stiletto - Daniel O'Malley (YAY, YAY!!!; three exclamation marks, surely the sign of a deranged mind)
29. Four Roads Cross - Max Gladstone (dead gods and magic lawyers; yay)
30. Listen to the Moon - Rose Lerner (downstairs-downstairs historical romance; very refreshing)
31. The Geek Feminist Revolution - Kameron Hurley (essays; preaching to the converted, so eh)
32. Asking For It - Louise O'Neill (feminist YA; OH GOD WHY WOULD YOU LET ME READ THIS?; but good)
33. City of Stairs - Robert Jackson Bennett (fantasy; YAY)
34. Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch (they folly has an away day in the countryside; good)
35. In Harm's Way - Doug Stanton (non-fiction; fine)
36. Stone Mattress - Margaret Atwood (short stories; why can't I just like Atwood as much as other people do?)
37. Labrador - Ben Fogle (dogs;...dogs?)
38. Infomocracy - Malka Older (election related spec-fic; ARGGHHH; but very good)
39. Do You Want to Start a Sandal - Tessa Dare (historical romance; does what it says on the tin)
40. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu - Joshua Hammer (non-fiction; title better than the book)
41. Think of England - KJ Charles (m/m historical romance; lovely)
42. The Abyss Surrounds Us - Emily Skrutskie (teenaged lesbians and sea monsters; not nearly as good as it sounds)
43. The Girl Before - Rena Olsen (feminist fiction; unreliable narrator; good)
44. City of Blades - Robert Jackson Bennett (fantasy; BUT WHEN IS THE THIRD ONE COMING OUT?)
45. The Trespasser - Tana French (irish crime; very good)
46. Smaller and Smaller Circles - FH Batacan (filipino crime; meh)
47. The Hanging Tree - Ben Aaronovitch (urban fantasy; ...what happened in this one again?)
48. A Week to be Wicked - Tessa Dare (historical romance; best in its series)
49. A Lady by Midnight - Tessa Dare (historical romance; ...how is the same author who wrote a week to be wicked?)
50. The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead (spec-fic; very good)
51. Beneath the Surface - John Hargrove (non-fiction; so Seaworld is like a cult, huh)
52. Notorious RBG: the life and times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik (non-fiction; I hope RBG is taking her vitamins)
53. The Wonder - Emma Donoghue (historical fiction; good)
54. Any Duchess Will Do - Tessa Dare (historical romance; fine-to-meh)
55. Weapons of Math Destruction - Cathy O'Neil (non-fiction; fine)

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2016 Fic Meme [Dec. 26th, 2016|11:40 pm]
'k, so I'm probably not going to be able to finish any more fics before I go on holiday tomorrow. Farewell, [community profile] fandom_stocking fills I wanted to write.

Gotten Used To Coffee Sweats (Jessica Jones; Jess/Trish; 2k)
Trish woke to discover that when Jessica had encountered a warm body in her unconscious attempts to construct a blanket fort she had simply folded Trish into its construction.

(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To (Game of Thrones; Margaery/Brienne; 3.5k)
Margaery is the heiress to a political dynasty, and while she's getting over a bad breakup with a Teen Choice Award winner she develops a crush on her painfully shy new bodyguard.

the wanting comes in waves (ASOIAF; Arianne/Tyene; 1k)
You cannot poison a predator with her own venom, sweet cousin.

Supergirl vs. the Bullies (Supergirl, Kara, Cat; 1k)
“You shock me, Keira,” said Ms Grant, plumbing depths of sarcasm with which Kara was only passingly familiar.

Twenty-Eight Days Earlier (Person of Interest; Root, Shaw; 1k)
Shaw found Root’s lack of squeamishness when it came to looting corpses refreshing.

Turn Around Three Times Before Dying and The Downhill Existential Crisis (Person of Interest; Root/Shaw; 4k)
The one where Shaw has a daemon and is severely fucking pissed off about it.

You Are Part Of A Machine (you are not a human being) (Person of Interest; Shaw, Fusco; 3k)
Lionel had never once been in any of Samaritan's simulations, and Root never, ever died in them. But Root was dead and Lionel was here, ergo this was real.

Sing The Body (Electric Remix) (Person of Interest; Root; 2.5k)
"What the hell kind of leet speak name is Root?"

Children Are The Future (Game of Thrones; Sansa/Margaery; 1.5k)
This isn’t a perfect world, Margaery, but I would choose it over any other.

a minor fall and a major lift (ASOIAF; Sansa/Willas; 4k)
Sansa held a takeaway cup of hot chocolate in one hand, and what was either a prehistoric wolf or the world's largest husky was taking marshmallows gently from her fingertips.

When I Argue I See Shapes (Person of Interest; Root/Shaw; 2k)
Sorry, John, Root thought as heavy unconsciousness dragged her under, I have to go see an ASI about a girl.

Everybody Says That You're So Fragile (ASOIAF, Lyanna, Elia, Ashara; 3k)
Lyanna Stark thwarts a kidnapping, and receives an interesting offer.

The Fast Return (Stiletto; Odette/Felicity; 2.5k)
Apropos of nothing and without any input from her brain, Odette announced her desire to lick champagne off of Felicity's abdominal muscles.

Lady Lazarus #1 (Person of Interest; Root/Shaw; 2.5k)
Shaw was pretty sure that Root had given herself her own supervillain name.

You're a Wanker, Number 9 (Game of Thrones; Sansa/Margaery; 5.5k)
"We have six brothers between us and I'm a lesbian," said Margaery, pushing her skirt down to her knees. "How are we so bad at this?"

Had A Dream I Was The Queen (woke up, still the queen) (ASOIAF; Lyanna/Elia; 7.5k)
Rhaegar marries Lyanna Stark, and runs away with Elia Martell

Fics: 17
Words 45653
Kudos: 2537

Overall Thoughts:

The first half of the year was totally phoned in. The PoI daemon AU is the first one that's any good at all. I wonder what could have happened in June that made hiding in fictional worlds seem appealing, hmm?

What's your own favourite story of the year? Not the most popular, but the one that makes you happiest:

Speaking of the daemon AU, Turn Around Three Times Before Dying. Writing Sameen Shaw and her judgemental ocelot daemon gave me much joy this year.

Now Your most popular:

I guess it just goes to show that if you like something you're writing, no matter how ridiculous, other people will too, but it's still the daemon AU.

Story of mine most under-appreciated by the universe, in my opinion:

Partly because I think it is a bit good, and partly because people should recognise that seven thousand words is, like, epic length for me and reward me accordingly, but Had A Dream I Was The Queen (woke up, still the queen).

Easiest Story to Write

Root's death made me feel feelings, I poured those feelings into You Are Part Of A Machine (you are not a human being). I also have a lot of feelings about Shaw and Fusco's friendship, and am quite pleased that I correctly predicted them as the last two standing. (I know that Harold is technically alive too, but I sort of feel like narratively speaking he shouldn't be, so.)

Most fun story to write:

It's a toss up between (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To my Margaery/Brienne bodyguard AU, and my Sansa/Margaery Imagine Me & You AU You're a Wanker, Number 9. I have reached the silly AU portion of my wending path through Game of Thrones fandom.

Hardest story to write:

a minor fall and a major lift, because I got the prompt for a Sansa/Willas coffee shop AU - and I'm not the greatest lover of those types of AUs, and I've never particularly cared for Willas who is a non-entity in canon and often a deus-ex-happy ending for Sansa in fandom - and I childishly went won't, shan't! Then I got over myself and decided to write the best coffee shop AU my strange little heart could come up with, and I ended up being quite proud of the result.

Fic writing goals for 2017?


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Books (and some holiday babble) [Dec. 24th, 2016|07:50 pm]
In a last ditch effort to make my place more festive I've been putting the holiday cards I received on display, and an alarming number of them are made out to 'Gillian & Freya' and, like, do these people not know that Freya's a dog, or have they just gone, well, we've given up on her ever finding human companionship, but it's nice she has that dog. This is why you shouldn't give dogs people names.

The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead
Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, Seaworld, and the truth beyond
Blackfish - John Hargrove
Notorious RBG: the life and times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik
The Wonder - Emma Donoghue
Any Duchess Will Do - Tessa Dare
Deadpool: Dead Presidents
Weapons of Math Destruction - Cathy O'Neil

First thing, The Underground Railroad is exactly as good as everyone says it is. The story of a slave named Cora escaping from a Georgia plantation is brilliant and relentless and difficult to read, and I highly, highly recommend it. If I have tiny, teeny wee niggle it's with the alternate history hook of the underground railroad being an actual, literal underground underground. The book would have been just as amazing and awful as straight historical fiction, and I'm not sure why you'd introduce an element like that and then not use it. But, anyway, I loved it

Beneath the Surface is by a former Seaworld trainer and his slow disillusionment with his dream job. And by now I think we all know that Seaworld is a corporation and not any sort of conservation or educational organisation, but here it sometimes seemed to operate almost like a cult. Reccomened for anyone who enjoyed Blackfish or likes those 'escaping Scientology' memoirs.

I picked up Notorious RBG largely because on the title. It's quite clearly based on someone's tumblr page, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, the authors clearly realised that there was a market for an easy to read biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg interspersed with cool tumblr-esque graphics. I liked it, but I think I might be read for more heavyweight entires in the genre of badass political women.

The Wonder is a historical novel about an English nurse who is hired to verify that an Irish child who claims to have survived without food for four months truly is a miracle. For a novel that's mostly two characters in a room together it has no business being as compelling as it is, but that's Emma Donoghue for you.

I tend to read historical romance series in order, although I know you don't have to, because I like seeing the callbacks to earlier couples, but with Any Duchess Will Do I really wish that I hadn't. I know that loveable rogues are a staple of regency romances, but Griff the notional hero in this one, was also Halford, the using-women-as-poker-currency utter dickhead in a previous instalment, and as such it was difficult to take his iron woobie-ness seriously. Shame, as I might have rather liked this otherwise.

I, er, glanced through Deadpool: Dead Presidents before I wrapped it up to give to someone for Christmas. Wade Wilson fights zombie US presidents. I feel good about my choice of Christmas gift.

Weapons of Math Destruction is another one I picked up because of the title. It's all about how algorithms - from what we see on facebook to personality tests when you apply for a job - control our lives much more than we think we do (computer says no), and how human biases are baked in. It's almost a shame the author is American because I would have loved to read her take on the DWP and atos.

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End Of Year Fandom Meme [Dec. 19th, 2016|11:35 pm]
How's it time for this already? It was January five minutes ago...

1. Your main fandom of the year?

Person of Interest, still.

I mean, I think we all knew it was cancelled before it was officially cancelled. And I found the fifth season, by and large, extremely satisfying viewing, but my lingering thing is: if the final season was that good with all the network fuckery going on, how good could it have been if they'd been allowed a freer hand?

And also, because I came to the show and the fandom late, and because the fandom seemed to dwindle to almost nothing so quickly (partly, I think, because the finale was so solid) I'm sort of here going: no, come back. I'm not done yet...

2. Your favourite film watched this year?


I was on the phone to my sister the other night talking about all the things we're going to do/drink/watch when I visit for Hogmanay, and she said that she hasn't seen the new Ghostbusters because the internet seemed to hate it. And I screamed - honestly I probably didn't even need the phone, I'm sure I could be heard across the Irish Sea - THE INTERNET IS WRONG.

It's possible that the first thing I'll do when I rock up in Galway is plonk her down in front of a screen and just stare at her for two hours daring her to hate it.

3. Your favourite book read this year?

Trick question, dude! Because, like, objectively the best is Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, and the most eerily timely is Infomocracy by Malka Older.

But the book that made me happiest in my nerdy, lesbian little heart is Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley, which is the only book I've read twice this year; partly for the corporate merger between the public school, posh bastard magical department of the British government and the Eurotrash chapter of Mad Scientists Inc., and partly because of how very much I ship Odette and Felicity.

4. Your favourite TV show of the year?

A toss up between Luke Cage and Westworld, because I am not above forgoing sleep and fucking up my back by spending thirteen hours hunched over a laptop if your show is good enough.

That said, I would sell Westworld for a sixth season of Person of Interest. I mean, I get that Westworld is probably objectively the better show, but the fannish heart wants what it wants.

5. Your favourite online fandom community of the year?

I loved participating in [community profile] femslashex, but mostly I am just here in my corner doing my thing.

6. Your best new fandom discovery of the year?

Legends of Tomorrow Sara Lance.

7. Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?

It was kind of amazing (in the jaysus, I can't look away from this car crash type way) to watch The 100 crash and burn, like, six weeks after I'd binge watched two seasons of it.

I'd never seen anything like it, and I'm a veteran of Doctor Who, Merlin and Game of Thrones fandoms.

I mean, Root's death sucked for me because I loved Root (also, holy dead lesbians, Batman!) but it didn't have the combination of terrible writing, over-invested fans, and arrogant showrunners that made The 100 mess truly special.

8. Your TV boyfriend of the year?

Lionel Fusco.

I may have misunderstood this question.

9. Your TV girlfriend of the year?

Sameen Shaw.

This one I understand perfectly.

10. Your biggest squee moment of the year?

The last shot from Person of Interest.

Shaw, dog, ringing phone. That was, to me, almost Leverage finale levels of perfection.

11. The most missed of your old fandoms?

Not really a fandom but, I keep looking at my shelf of Discworld books and feeling fresh pangs of sadness over Terry Pratchett, because boy could we have done with his voice this year.

12. The fandom you haven't tried yet, but want to?

I have the second season of Humans to get to, and it looks good, and I liked the first one, and Niska! But, eh, I still have a Merlin related aversion to Colin Morgan's stupid face.

13. Your biggest fan anticipations for the New Year?

Wonder Woman

On the one hand, I AM SO EXCITED. On the other, I made it through twenty minutes of Batman v. Superman and not even the prospect of Gal Gadot could make me keep watching. So I'm just goggling over the trailer and going: please be good, please be good.

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