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June Booklog [Jun. 30th, 2015|05:56 pm]

The Monogram Murders - Sophie Hannah
Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover - Sarah MacLean
Say Yes to the Marquess - Tessa Dare
The Secret Place - Tana French

Last month I asked folks here for recommendations as to what I should read on my holidays, I got some excellent recommendations which I dutifully loaded onto my kindle, then, as you do, I bought a paperback in the airport...

Sophie Hannah got permission from the Agatha Christie estate to publish a new Poirot novel, which was... fine. The Monogram Murders is not up there with the likes of Murder on the Orient Express, nor is it as bad as the worst of Dame Agatha's; it's a solid, if unmemorable, Poirot novel. On the plus side, I didn't know who the murderer was until Poirot got all the suspects together in a room, which is a first for me; less because I am good at figuring this stuff out, and more because the David Suchet Poirot series is rerun constantly here, and I usually get about thirty-five pages into any given Agatha Christie before I go: Oh, I know who did it!

File under: reasonably solid published fanfic.

After I'd finished that my hosts kindly loaned me Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, the latest in a series of regency romances I'd been following. The really, really awesome thing about this book is that Chase, the slightly sinister owner of the gambling hell the books revolve around, turns out to be a woman. And I'd had no idea. A+ pronoun game there. I'm glad I read the paperback instead of the e-book, because I very much enjoyed the picture of the girl in the buckskin trousers on the cover, which I'm told is the first time a regency romance has had a woman in trousers on the cover.

Actually my problem with this book wasn't with the book (which is a perfectly lovely example of its genre) it was with me. As soon as you introduce a crossdressing woman to a story that's the book I want; I wanted an entire book of Georgiana scheming against the ton, and wearing trousers, and wrangling at least three separate identities.

I am completely loving Tessa Dare's Castles Ever After series (very excited for the third one coming out in a couple of months.) In Say Yes to the Marquess our heroine is trying to convince her absentee fiancé's disreputable brother to call off their engagement, the brother is trying to plan them an extravagant wedding, and there is an elderly bulldog; hijinks, and food fights ensue, and it is entirely delightful.

Also, Tessa Dare writes some of the most smoking sex scenes I have ever read, which I was of course reading while my plane descended into Glasgow, and I was sitting next to the sort of Glasgow granny who can sense impure thoughts a mile off.

The thing is, the more I fall into historical romance, the sadder I get that there aren't a bajillion f/f examples of the genre for me to read. I wants it, my precious.

The Secret Place is the latest, and in my opinion the best, installment in the Dublin Murder Squad series. The body of a teenage boy has been found on the grounds of a girls boarding school, and a year later the investigation is reopened.

There's been a reoccurring theme in the series about police partnerships souring and going wrong, and I liked that this one featured an unlikely partnership working out. It's got a really good take on friendships between teenage girls, how they can seem cliquey and claustrophobic from the outside, and be super important to those involved -- it's sort of what I'd wanted The Fever to be and had been disappointed.

There's also -- the more I think about it, perhaps there's always been a thread of magical realism in the series, what with what happened to Rob's childhood friends and what may or may not have been living in Pat's walls. But it's more explicit and yet never addressed here, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

I have been feeling nostalgic for 90s Star Trek (first fandom!) so I am dipping in and out of the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy. There's obviously an ongoing post-shows book series into which I have plunged heedless of continuity. On the one hand Ezri Dax is a ship captain, which is awesome, and the cast of characters is super diverse, both the human characters, and having really alien aliens; on the other Janeway has been killed off and Paris and Torres broken up, both of which are completely unacceptable. Also, for a trilogy purportedly about a war between the Borg and the Federation, needs more Borg. But mostly, Star Trek!

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Game of Thrones Season 5 [Jun. 22nd, 2015|02:06 am]

As I think I've said before, I rather enjoyed this last season of Game of Thrones, more than a lot of people seemed to. I shall now proceed to blether on at length about what worked for me, what didn't, and why the former outweighs the latter.

GoT S5, the awesome, the indifferent, and the eye-gougingly stupidCollapse )

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A Thing [Jun. 16th, 2015|12:20 am]
I remember being very excited about the idea of a female character centric remix back when it was first mooted a couple of years ago, and I am even more excited now that it's actually happening.

[community profile] femmeremix

Sign-ups are open through Friday, and you only need to have written three 500+ words fics per fandom that are either about a female character or could be remixed to be so. I meet those qualifications in, ahem, a number of fandoms.

The only reason I haven't signed up yet is that I'm thinking of knocking out a quick Agent Carter ficlet or two in order to sign up with that... if anyone has any Agent Carter prompts that they'd like to see dashed off?

It's worth mentioning that I have had some awesome writing experiences remixing folks who write mainly slash, even if my first instinct is to scroll through looking for a fic about a female character to remix. But I'm more leery of being assigned to someone who wants to remix slash and having them go: oh, shite, not her, especially in fandoms like Merlin, where the assumption that your remixee will write predominately dudes is not unreasonable. That shouldn't happen this time; at least, not for that reason.

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Playing Catch-Up [Jun. 14th, 2015|08:29 pm]
Having been excessively charmed by the trailer, I caved and watched the leaked Supergirl pilot SupergirlCollapse )

And I have belatedly seen Mad Max Fury RoadCollapse )

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What I did on my summer holidays, by netgirl_y2k, age 32 and 1/4 [Jun. 13th, 2015|05:26 pm]
[personal profile] fitz_y and her partner H kindly invited me to stay with them in Berlin for a week, and then even more kindly refrained from dispatching me to the nearest hotel when it turned out they were unexpectedly going to have to move house that week. Such kind people, a kindness I repaid by making several counter productive attempts to help, and then sitting in the corner of their flat, drinking tea and giggling at the unfolding chaos.

Some things I did on my holidays

-Got horribly lost. I was given a free map of the city upon arrival; alas, it transpired to be a map of Prague.

-Drank a lot of beer. Like, an almost alarming amount of beer. Even that weird green one that you think is going to be lime or mint, then turns out to be some forest herb thing.

-Almost melted away to a wee greasy spot; I seem to have the knack for landing in Berlin during the annual heatwave. At least I didn't keel over from heatstroke in the food court of the KaDeWe this time.

-Stumbled across the fan park for the Champions League final at the Brandenburg Gate. Was befriended by some Spaniards who made me solemnly swear to support Barcelona.

-Relatedly, H was a very good egg about accompanying me when I decided that I wanted to watch the game live, and watch it in some terrifying east German gambling den. It was awesome, even if we did come home reeking of beer and gambling and clove cigarettes.

-Finally got to the East Side Gallery, which was pretty cool, although people were actually graffiting it while I watched; Justin was here is truly a message for the ages.

-Meant to go out to Sachsenhausen, but got distracted by beer, and football, and Spaniards. Did go to the Jewish History Museum, which is desperately, desperately sad, and the building is a work of genius with all these empty spaces and off-kilter floors keeping you off-balance; you can say a lot with architecture, I think.

-Drank more beer. Got particularly fond of Flensburger.

-Did a lot of ordering by pointing, and then consuming whatever totally unrelated thing was handed to me. The language options at my school were German, French, and Latin; for reasons I can no longer recall I did Latin. Was dispatched to an English language cafe for the afternoon; attempted to flirt with a waitress, and forgot how to say 'flat white', not even in German, I just forgot how to use words; oh the shame.

-Ate at the most famous kebab stand and the most famous burger stall in all of Berlin; at least I assume the burger place was famous, I can see no other reason why people would eat bugers out of a converted public toilet; I am a classy lady.

-Watched the latest episode of Game of Thrones with [personal profile] fitz_y and H, with us all chanting "Ride it! Ride it! Ride it!" at the final scene like we were watching some particularly enthusiastic yet inept pornography.

Actually, expect a big long post about this series of Game of Thrones when I get back into the swing of internetting, because it has been making me feel feelings, and hardly any of them the angry ones that most of my fannish circle seems to be feeling.

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May Booklog [May. 30th, 2015|11:54 pm]

So You've Been Publicly Shamed - Jon Ronson
Them: Adventures with Extremists - Jon Ronson
Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall - Anna Funder
The Creation of Anne Boleyn - Susan Bordo
Voyage of the Basilisk: A Memoir by Lady Trent - Marie Brennan

It turns out that what's really good for getting me back into reading more is actually having a dedicated e-reader rather than trying to read on the kindle app on my tablet (tumblr is a ridiculous timesuck, News at Eleven!)

I find Jon Ronson's pop journalism immensely readable and really enjoyed his latest, So You've Been Publicly Shamed, about public shaming in the digital age, and what it means now that there's no longer really such a thing as it'll all be tomorrow's chip wrapping. I had lot of natural sympathy with Ronson's view that call out culture had started from a place of good intentions and great justice (his example was people's reaction to Jan Muir's horrible, homophobic article about Stephen Gately's death; I suppose a fandom equivalent might be race fail) and has since migrated to a place of willful misunderstandings and unwillingness to let people move on.

I went back and read Them, where Ronson embeds himself with extremists of various stripes and discovers that they all believe in a secret cabal of powerful people running the world, even if they disagree about who exactly is in that cabal. This has... not aged well. It was researched and written in the late 90s, and you can sort of tell that it predates constant, easy access to the internet because a lot of Ronson's investigations/misadventures could have been rendered moot by five minutes on google.

I was very young when the Berlin Wall came down, and I remember seeing the images on TV but not really having any idea of what was going on or why, and like all products of the British eduction system almost everything I knew about Germany was in relation to WWII. So although I've been to Berlin twice (I'm going again on Wednesday, actually; I think it's a brilliant city) and done all the usual tourist things I still didn't know much about the rational behind the Wall or life in the GDR. So in a fit of belated intellectual curiosity I read Stasiland which was brilliantly researched and written, and fascinating, and awful. Recommended.

The central premise of The Creation Anne Boleyn is that portrayals of Anne Boleyn throughout history owe less to any historical fact and more to the prevailing social norms at the time; which is an argument that I, at least, find difficult to argue with. It's a cultural history that moves from Anne the historical figure, to Anne the patron saint of the reformation/villainess in chief in the Protestant/Catholic culture wars, to Anne the fictional character up through The Tudors, to Anne Boleyn online 'fandom'.

As much as I agreed with the author's premise, and as much as it was really, really interesting as a cultural history I did have... niggles. I'm not sure the editing was great (my point of view when it comes to editing, btw, is that if I notice it, it's probably not great) with lots of arguments, indeed entire paragraphs, repeated almost verbatim. There's lots of criticising other historians for not questioning unreliable sources (mainly Chapuys' letters), or speculating without making it clear that that's what they're doing, then turning around and doing the same thing herself. There's also some attacks on historians and writers who've tackled Anne; I've never read Phillipa Gregory, and I know that a lot of people hate her writing, but the attack on her felt weirdly vitriolic; I objected less to her digs at David Starkey whose documentaries have always had an unpleasant veneer of sexism for me. Anyway, interesting but flawed.

The Voyage of the Basilisk was the only fiction I read this month (non-fiction can be really good for getting out of a reading slump, I find) and in this installment our pseudo-Victorian lady dragon naturalist rides sea monsters and gains a love interest. If you're not already on this ride then I highly recommend you hop on; it is so much fun!


As previously mentioned I am off on my holidays later this week, to Berlin, no less, which is awesome because huzzah, holiday! and because it means I get to hang out with the awesome [personal profile] fitz_y and her equally awesome partner. But is less than awesome because it means I have to get on a plane. I... do not fly well. I have strategies in place for getting me through flights:

1. Have an extremely large Gin & Tonic in the airport.
2. Pretend I'm not going. I'm not going to get on a plane; I am, for unrelated reasons, going to fill this suitcase with a week's worth of clothes and toiletries. I'm not going, of course, and the fact that I've booked a taxi to the airport doesn't mean that I am. I'm not going; I am going to join this queue at security, though, because I'm British and it is a queue... and so on and so forth until the plane is taxing down the runway.
3. Have a book to read on the plane that is so engrossing that I forget that I'm however many miles up in the air and not just on the high speed train to Aberdeen.

Does anybody know of such a book? Seriously, though, a total page-turner, or the sort of book you just vanish inside, or both? A book to see off an incipient panic attack, if that's not too much to ask. Any genres, fiction, non-fiction, anything?

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In Which Your Heroine is a Crotchety Old Fandom Lady [May. 13th, 2015|05:49 am]
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-Tumblr always makes me feel like an old fandom lady, never more so than when it took my dash about forty-eight hours to go from doing cartwheels about Agent Carter's renewal, to panicking about the change of setting for S2 and the possibility of Haley Atwell being the only returning cast member. I don't know-- well, nobody knows. It could be brilliant, if they're doing a time skip then we're into early fifties Hollywood which is pretty cool. It could well be that I was right the first time, in my failure to have much time for the MCU, and Agent Carter S1 was just a brief, glorious aberration. Either way, I don't have it in me to worry.

Plus, I came to Agent Carter via Merlin (which crashed and burned into a toxic mess of misogyny, bitterness, and resentment), Doctor Who (which at the very least teaches us not to fear change), and the endless, endless bloody sniping in ASOIAF/Game of that's your adaption choice? So I think I have earned my slightly condescending Oh, you sweet summer children moment.

-Speaking of Game of Thrones, my overwhelming reaction to S5 continues to be: I understand why you made these adaptation choices, I don't necessarily agree with you with you about all of them, and I think in a few cases your execution leaves a lot to be desired. But my ambivalence is mostly drowned out by my gratitude that you're moving the story along before I was forced to perform a one woman reenactment of the Get On With It! crowd scene from Holy Grail.

And from episode five we learned Kill The BoyCollapse )

- I have signed up for remix, and I think other people should too. There's no qualifying fandoms this year, which I like, because I always thought they skewed towards old, slashy fandoms and locked people into offering fandoms they were otherwise pretty much done with. But I'll be interested to see how matching shakes out, and if it actually changes what people are writing that much.

See, this is what happens when you grow old in fandom, you start noticing changes in fandom trends, which is a highly specific and difficult to explain hobby.

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Belated April Booklog + A Cautionary Tale [May. 7th, 2015|11:17 pm]
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Shadow Scale - Rachel Hartman
Fair Fight - Anna Freeman

Shadow Scale is the sequel to Seraphina, about a half dragon girl caught between a coming war between humans and dragons. I didn't like it quite so much as the first one; this is partly grading on a curve because I freakin' adored the first one, partly that the first half of the novel follows Seraphina as she travels around trying to find the other half dragons, and quest narratives do very little for me. I also wasn't thrilled about a wild love triangle appearing. I mean, I loved that Glisselda isn't straight (called it!) and that she and Kiggs went through with their marriage of political convenience. But I wasn't wild about Glisselda turning out to be in love with Seraphina, and if that kiss was meant to be an implication that Seraphina isn't straight herself and they're going to come to some sort of poly understanding it could have stood to be less... wishy washy. I still wonder if the decision to market the books as YA was made at a comparatively late stage, because the characters all seem to have been written as 3-5 years older than their stated ages; it would explain the pasted on love triangle, and vagueness of its conclusion too. I like that it is a duology (everything is a bloody trilogy these days) but I do wonder if it wouldn't have stood up better as one slightly longer volume.

Don't get me wrong, I did like them, and I do recommend them. I think Rachel Hartman did a bang up job with a premise that could very easily have veered into 'sparkling vampires' territory. I just liked the first one better.

Fair Fight is a historical novel set in Victorian England featuring three revolving POVs; Ruth, a boxer raised in a brothel, Charlotte an upperclass miss who is married beneath her station and forms an unlikely friendship with Ruth, and George a manipulative dandy who's involved in a long standing relationship with Charlotte's brother. You know how when you have a book with rotating POVs there's usually one where you go 'oh, not you again', but here I found all three characters compelling, and sympathetic, and repulsive in very different but equally fascinating ways.

I absolutely fell in love with this book, and I usually find boxing a bit... distasteful, but I absolutely loved it. It was a bit like The Crimson Petal and the White, a bit like Fingersmith, and a bit like Life Mask. Highly recommended.

Two thirds of the way through and I think I'll abandon The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. It's a play on the Scarlet Pimpernel and the first real dud of my stroll through historical romance; a bland plucky by the numbers heroine, and equally bland former rake with a heart of gold hero. And maybe it's because of the royal baby has been all over the news this week, but every time the heroine started talking about restoring the monarchy my grumpy inner republican (small r) reared her head.


I've got the election coverage on in the background. Hmm, if the exit polls are right Scotland should have taken independence when it was on the cards. I'm probably not going to stay up much longer, but before I go to bed have a story of the these people don't vote, do they? variety.

My sister is a doctor. An actual medical, dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor not a... doctor. She is a clever lady. She also wanted to vote Green today. I'd voted in the morning and texted her to say that there wasn't a Green standing where we live. We live in a Labour/SNP marginal, our Labour incumbent is a wanker and Dr. Sister hates the SNP. I assumed she'd hold her nose and vote Lib Dem, or spoil her ballot.

Instead - and again this woman is a doctor - she voted for an independent who she knew nothing about on the assumption that he was one of the harmless save-our-hills, save-our-hospital type independents. She went home and googled him; turns out he's a loon of the radical right, who got kicked out of UKIP for being too reactionary, and whose main platform is the reestablishment of the British Empire.

I've never been the brains of the family before; I don't like it.

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Had a Marvelous Birthday [May. 6th, 2015|11:13 pm]
-It was my birthday on Monday. I am now 32. I am very confused as to how this happened as I was 19, like, five minutes ago.

-I took myself off to see Age of Ultron, which was entertaining in the same way a fireworks display is entertaining, in that there were bright colours, loud noises, and explosions, and like a fireworks display, by the two hour mark I was starting to wonder what was happening back in the pub.

Bear in mind that I haven't read a comic book in my life, and there are huge swathes of the MCU I am still unfamiliar with, so maybe it made more sense to others.

A list of things I didn"t understand about Age of UltronCollapse )

On the plus side, my lack of familiarity with the wider universe meant that any continuity or characterisation snafus that may have irked other people sailed right over my head.

A list of things I liked about Age of UltronCollapse )

-Not unrelatedly, I very much enjoyed the recent Daredevil series, which I think benefited from notionally being in the MCU, but mostly being off in its own corner doing its own thing, so unlike Agents of SHIELD, and to lesser extent Agent Carter, it doesn't get tangled up in the continuity of the wider universe.

-Also, I am a great believer that a good cure for writer's block is to write something really ridiculous and self indulgent, so on that note here is an Agent Carter soulmate AU:

Because Girls Love Girls and Boys
Agent Carter; Peggy/Angie; 3233 words

Howard Stark and his bloody inventions.

(In which Peggy Carter has excellent teeth, the name Steven G. Rogers written on her skin, and Angie Martinelli.)

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AO3 Meme [Apr. 19th, 2015|08:15 pm]
I enjoy both talking about my fic, and watching short columns of numbers doing things slowly, so of course I enjoy that meme where you list your top ten A03 fics and wonder about them.

Top Ten by Hits
1. The Care and Feeding of Tiny Humans (and slightly larger Time Lords) (14060 hits; Doctor Who; Eleven & tiny Amelia)
2. Here Be Dragons (13085 hits; Merlin/Temeraire fusion; Morgana & Aithusa)
3. Every Rose Has a Thorn (and even tame wolves bite) (9021 hits; ASOIAF; Sansa/Margaery)
4. Keep the Bouquets, Throw Away the Grooms (6898 hits; Game of Thrones; Sansa/Margaery, arranged marriage)
5. Living Arrangements (5983 hits; Agent Carter; Peggy/Angie)
6. The Women Kings (5947 hits; Game of Thrones; Sansa/Margaery)
7. Those Who Favour Fire (5766 hits; Game of Thrones; Sansa/Cersei, Sansa/Dany)
8. They Will Crown You, They Will Take Your Legs (5627 hits; Game of Thrones; Dany/Doreah)
9. War Is Easier Than Daughters (5215 hits; Game of Thrones; girl!Jon Snow)
10. Practice Makes Perfect (4579 hits; Game of Thrones; Sansa/Margaery, high school AU)

Top Ten by Kudos
1. Living Arrangements (1029 kudos; Agent Carter; Peggy/Angie)
2. The Care and Feeding of Tiny Humans (and slightly larger Time Lords) (767 kudos; Doctor Who; Eleven & wee Amelia)
3. Keep the Bouquets, Throw Away the Grooms (660 kudos; Game of Thrones; Sansa/Margaery, arranged marriage)
4. Practice Makes Perfect (411 kudos; Game of Thrones; Sansa/Margaery, high school AU)
5. Everything But the Kitchen Sink (409 kudos; Doctor Who; Eleven & dalek!Oswin)
6. Every Rose Has a Thorn (and even tame wolves bite) (399 kudos; ASOIAF; Sansa/Margaery)
7. The Women Kings (366 kudos; Game of Thrones; Sansa/Margaery)
8. The Game of Courtship (268 kudos; ASOIAF; Sansa/Margaery)
9. Those Who Favour Fire (262 kudos; Game of Thrones; Sansa/Cersei, Sansa/Dany)
10. The Sides and All the Corners (228 kudos; Once Upon a Time; Belle/Ruby)

-I never thought that anything, ever, would garner more kudos than The Care and Feeding of Tiny Humans, which is my fandom claim to fame, as it were.
-I suppose that's the difference between anything MCU adjacent and all other fandoms ever since the heyday of Harry Potter.
-Happily, I do think Living Arrangements is a bit good, and now I wish I'd bothered to come up with a better title for it.
-I assume there's some sort of bot thing going on with Here Be Dragons, because thirteen thousand hits for a gen fusion about the female villain and a one ep guest star, wtf?
-I am oddly gratified that inexplicable bot activity not withstanding, and despite my having written nearly twice as many Merlin fics as anything else, there is no Merlin on either of these lists, not even my M/A remixes. Hurrah!
-I find it interesting that my Game of Thrones fic - or fic written early enough in the life of the show that you could still use both tags in good conscience - seems to be more popular than my ASOIAF fic, even though I think my book fic is better, and I had always thought that the book fandom was bigger. Just louder maybe?
-Sansa/Margaery is still a very popular pairing even though they haven't interacted since mis-S3 and likely never will again. Gosh, I love fandom sometimes.

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