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Books [Nov. 27th, 2016|11:20 pm]

The Trespasser - Tana French
Smaller and Smaller Circles - FH Batacan
The Hanging Tree - Ben Aaronovitch
A Week to be Wicked - Tessa Dare
A Lady by Midnight - Tessa Dare
Beauty and the Blacksmith - Tessa Dare

I've liked all of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad books to various degrees, but I really, really loved The Trespasser. It's told from the point of view of Antionette Conway, partner of Stephen Moran one of the protagonists of The Secret Place. And I know the conceit of the series is that the detectives are different in each book, but, honestly I would read an entire series of mysteries about Moran and Conway. There's been a recurring theme through the books of partnerships crashing and burning, but Moran and Conway hit the rocks, and then come out stronger on the other side, and I just really, really love their partnership.

I am curious to see who the protagonist of the next book will be, because it's usually someone who was a supporting character in the previous book - but I can't think of any obvious candidates from The Trespasser.

Actually, the other thing that struck me was that the Dublin Murder Squad books have all had this thread of... magical realism, I guess, to various degrees. In The Secret Place it got a little more overt than I would have liked, but I think The Trespasser was the first one with no hints of it at all.

So, yeah, anyway, if you're interested in a series of Irish murder mysteries solved by detectives who seem like the very worst people in the world until you get into their heads, with occasional notes of magical realism then I can't recommend Dublin Murder Squad enough.

Smaller and Smaller Circles was billed as the first Filipino crime novel (or maybe just the first in translation?) and the main mystery, in which two priests investigate the murder and mutilations of slum kids is just... fine, but it's worth a read for the setting alone; the sense of place in a poverty stricken area of Manila is superb.

I really liked the first Rivers of London book, then got increasingly annoyed at books two-through-four. I had less than no interest in Nightingale, who seemed to be the focus of what fandom there was, and I was stubbornly, Scottishly annoyed at all the wanking over London. But I fell back into the series with book five and now The Hanging Tree. I am finding myself charmed all over again by Peter's narration, and especially enjoyed the inclusion of a transgender witch who wants to use magic to fly. I was a little underwhelmed by the revelation of the Faceless Man's identity, but as I care less about the overarching plot than I do about Peter, then eh.

I have been having a reading slump of late (I've been having an everything slump) and some regency romance always goes down easy, so I applied myself to Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series.

I got off to a good start with A Week to be Wicked in which a lady geologist tries to prove the existence of dinosaurs with the occasional help, occasional hinderance of a charming, insomniac viscount, and I really loved it a lot. Then I read A Lady by Midnight in which a music teacher and secret heiress falls in love with a taciturn, overtly unpleasant soldier, who's keeping a secret from the heroine about her dark past for her own good; not even the fact that they're co-parenting a puppy could make this my cup of tea. Beauty and the Blacksmith is exactly what it says on the tin: a well brought up young lady falls in love with a blacsmith; this was thin even by romance novella standards and didn't really have enough room to let the characters... be characters.

So, I think maybe that's my palate cleansed and I'm due a change of genre. I've got the Colson Whitehead novel The Underground Railroad, or maybe the second novel in Ken Liu's Dandelion Dynasty

I started but didn't finish Sarah Kuhn's Heroine Complex, it was just Too Twee for me. I only made it to the one third mark before I was rooting for the cupcake shaped demons to suck the sickeningly hipster San Francisco of the book straight to hell.

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it's that most wonderful time of the year [Nov. 27th, 2016|11:11 pm]
I booked my holidays; I'm off on a Guinness drinking jolly to Dublin & Galway for Hogmanay, hurrah.

holiday love meme 2016
my thread here

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Couple of Things [Nov. 19th, 2016|11:51 am]
Tiny, awesome news: a while ago I was talking about how two of my best friends had been going through the long, arduous process of trying to adopt a child. Well after, like, two years of paperwork, and interviews, waiting, and more waiting the adoption has come through. They are adopting a little boy of three, who likes dinosaurs and pretending to be a farmer.

He's coming to live with them in early January, and they're going to have a late Christmas then, because if you can't have two christmases in a fortnight when you're three and have just been adopted, then when can you? So I get to play Auntie Gillian, and have fun over the holidays trying to pick out the perfect present for a three year old.

Some cool things I have found out as an onlooker during this process: firstly, I didn't know this, but you still get the full year's paternity leave whether you have a baby or adopt an older child; and secondly, in addition to being able to prove that you're sober and able to keep the kid in shoes etc, the local authority the adoption was arranged through like you to provide evidence that you're not homophobic or transphobic, because who's to say that you won't get a kid who's gay or trans; which is apparently why my character reference, as someone who knows nothing about parenting but could testify that they're the very best sort of straight people, was very helpful.

I'm off to the rugby with the expectant parents this afternoon as a sort of celebratory last hurrah.

Wrote another fic; 7.5k in a week and written during the copious free time I've created by not watching the news or reading the papers:

Had A Dream I Was The Queen (woke up, still the queen) (A Song of Ice and Fire; Lyanna Stark/Elia Martell; Role Reversal AU)

"I have my son, I have a crown I never asked for, and seven kingdoms I don't know how to rule." Lyanna laid her hand on Elia's knee, squeezed, and said, "And I have you."

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Metaphorical Kayaking [Nov. 13th, 2016|05:13 pm]
I've been on a self imposed news blackout since Tuesday, which I broke today to check the UK headlines (on the off chance that Nicola Sturgeon has been advocating for ceding from planet Earth out of sheer bafflement) and the first thing I saw was a picture of Trump and Nigel Farage gurning in a gold plated elevator. And, like, sorry America, I know you've been through a lot already, but jaysus keep him, we don't want him back.

I think that's the thing I haven't been able to get my head around since Brexit. If there ever was a populist revolution, and God knows, maybe there should be, one of the ways you'll be able to tell that it's on the level is that it probably won't be being spearheaded by a self proclaimed billionaire and the anthropomorphic personification of the Daily Mail.

Anyway, on a totally different subject: asexuality.

I've been talking about being asexual, or grey ace, or kinda ace on tumblr for a while, mostly to get used to using the word. And the other day an anon asked me to talk about it, and I did, and because using words is good and how we get comfortable with them, I'm going to talk about it more here.

It's funny, because I knew I was gay when I was fifteen, but the asexual thing is a revelation I've had within, like, the last year. So that's the best part of twenty years between Hey, I'd like to kiss that girl and Hey, I'd like to kiss that lady but, er that's probably all...

I suppose it's not so surprising, it's always harder to prove a negative. And because I didn't have the word asexual until comparatively recently I called it all sorts of other things. I thought it was my hilarious self-loathing issues at play; I thought it was internalised misogyny or internalised homophobia; I thought I just had a low sex drive (like, really low, super low, nonexistent low.) I called myself celibate for a long time, but stopped because celibacy implies that you're somehow depriving yourself; it's not really a diet if you just don't care for the taste of cake.

I like grey ace as an umbrella term; a little because it makes me sound like a wizard in a fantasy trilogy, but mostly because I don't hate sex; I've liked it fine in the past, but if it were never to happen again I wouldn't notice or care.

I was a carer for an elderly relative with dementia for the better part of a decade; and let me tell you, that will put a dent in anybody's social life. But I came out the other side of that and of all the things I'd missed (having a job, going on holiday, being able to go out for the day without arranging respite care weeks in advance) sex wasn't one of them.

Kissing on the other hand? Boy, do I miss kissing.

I've been talking about this to one of my offline mates, and because, bless him, he got this blank-yet-attentive look at the word asexual, the analogy I've been using is about kayaking. To whit:

My relationship to sex is not unlike my relationship to kayaking. I’ve never had a bad or traumatic experience kayaking; I'm not like this because of some sort of near drowning. And if I met someone who I really liked and wanted to make happy, and they wanted to take me kayaking? Then sure, maybe. Enthusiasm is contagious, and people who’re very keen kayakers are often good at the technical, fiddly bits of kayaking. But it would never occur to me to suggest kayaking, and in all honesty I’d prefer to be doing almost anything else, up to and including actual, literal kayaking.

In conclusion: sex has now been renamed kayaking; for added confusion, kayaking will still be called kayaking.

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idk. [Nov. 9th, 2016|05:42 pm]
If I were an American I would probably be getting extremely hacked off with people who're not American telling me how sorry they are, but for what it's worth I am sorry, both about the result, and that I followed this clusterfuck of an election like it was reality tv and derived any pleasure from it at all. In my defence, I just assumed that a Clinton victory was a mortal lock, because I apparently haven't been paying attention this year and thought that we were still living in the world where Lawful Good would pull through in the end.

And, yeah, there are reasons to be frighted of Trump from this side of the Atlantic; from the slightly hysterical: this man's going to have the nuclear launch codes, and my house is within the fallout radius of Faslane where the American nukes eye-wateringly expensive "independent" British nuclear deterrent are parked, to the less alarmist: whatever direction the US goes the UK follows like a puppy missing its master's leg, likely more so than ever now that we're determined to burn all our bridges with the EU.

But it wasn't my election, and it's not my country, and I should stop word vomiting my feelings all over people who're going to be much more directly effected than me.

After the Brexit referendum, my sister who lives in the Republic of Ireland and had her life plan buggered sideways by the vote, drank six pints of Guinness, half a bottle of Tequila, vomited copiously, and spent four days in bed eating cold pizza and watching Netflix - and this is my sister the doctor, so this coping strategy has a medical stamp of approval - and on the fifth day she got back up.

Burying my head in the sands of fandom is more my thing. I actually posted a fic yesterday evening. Good timing, eh? You're a Wanker, Number 9 (GoT, Sansa/Margaery; kinda sorta an Imagine Me & You AU)

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Femslashex Reveals [Nov. 6th, 2016|12:43 am]
During the anon period of [community profile] femslashex I played that game on tumblr where you get people to guess which fics you wrote. Literally everybody who guessed was right. I'm very predictable apparently; also, I have a very recognisable over-reliance on the em-dash.

My main fic was:

The Fast Return (The Rook Files; Odette/Felicity)
As it turned out, Felicity had strong opinions on feathered dinosaurs. "It's not even like the feathers make them less scary. A twelve foot tall chicken trying to murder you is terrifying--" Odette dug her fingernails into Felicity's knee "--I would imagine."

Yay for getting to write in the current tiny fandom of my heart. Really, properly. I got the assignment and went: Hurrah, an excuse to reread a five hundred page fantasy novel I read not six weeks ago. I also wrote a treat because, well, I saw the words Root/Shaw and superhero AU and my lizard brain took over.

Lady Lazarus #1 (Person of Interest; Root/Shaw)
"Let me get this straight, you want me to join up with a slightly reformed supervillain and a man who's one bad life choice away from lurking on rooftops dressed as a bat while you play Alfred in a disused subway station?"

I got:

Contractual Obligations (Game of Thrones; Dany/Yara) which was great fun, because after taking the Iron Throne why wouldn't Dany have a harem?

Plus I read a load of other great fics that I highly recommend:

shake loose all your garnet jewels (Lord of the Rings; Eowyn/Arwen)
I've always wanted a fic where Arwen or Eowyn are part of the Fellowship, so one where they both are, and it's got femslash, and it's beautifully written, was pretty perfect.

smarter than the tricks played on your heart (Ghostbusters; Abby/Erin)
I came out of the film adoring the friendship between these two, so this lovely bit of shippy backstory was welcome indeed.

Frae Ilka Danger (Code Name Verity; Julie/Maddie)
A coffeeshop AU that really worked. Boy, does it work!

fighting in the emptiness of this labyrinth
(Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Tara/Faith)
An AU where Tara runs away with Faith? If this had been written back when I was in the fandom I never would have stopped screaming. I mean, I still love it now. But back then? Screaming. Forever.

She Moves in Mysterious Ways (Person of Interest; Shaw/the Machine)
I am an absolute sucker for fics about Shaw moving on with the Machine.

Little By Little, Inch By Inch (Star Wars/Voyager; Janeway/Leia)
Now that's how you do a crossover!

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To Say Nothing of the Dog [Nov. 2nd, 2016|11:48 pm]
Tonight I cancelled going to look at a litter of puppies because it's extremely hard to say no I don't want one when faced with a litter of puppies.

What happened was, some people down the road from me have two chocolate labradors, a brother and a sister, and they didn't get the boy dog fixed in time and, ahem. And I came up as a person who loves dogs and is a sucker for a good sob story.

It's not that I don't want another dog, maybe, but I got to thinking about not just two sets of vaccinations and insurance, but about possible future vet bills for a dog that's that inbred, and behavioural problems because the mum's just a puppy herself. And if I do get another dog I think I'd like it to be an adult rescue dog, rather than another pup.

Yay for me being responsible, I guess.

Maybe I could just go and look at the puppies? No. No, I couldn't. That's how I ended up with the dog I've already got; someone wafted a basket of puppies under my easily led nose. Actually, the other reason I got her was that I know the woman who owns her dad, and she felt so bad about him defiling the neighbourhood bitch that she was trying to find a good home for at least one of the puppies. Her sales pitch to me was if she's got her daddy's nature she'll be a great little dog. And this has proved to be not untrue, she has grown up to be a cracking dog; there was just a year and a bit there where she was a terrible, terrible puppy. And it occurred to me that it's been a while since I talked about my ridiculous dog.

That is a terrible picture of the dog, but it may be the best one of me that's ever been taken.

-Her name is Freya. She also answers to chicken, buggerlugs, madam, Bruno, and drop it drop it DROP IT.

-She is a Mostly Labrador. Which means she's three quarters Lab, to one quarter *shrug*

-She is 25kg, often covered in mud and things you really want to be mud, and she thinks she is a lapdog.

-She is the friendliest dog in the world. Unless you want to come into my house, in which case she thinks she is Batdog.

-She can't bark. She can manage one bark, but then she chokes on the second.

-She doesn't understand fetch; she does however enjoy having tennis balls kicked directly into her mouth.

A brief list of things Freya has chewed:
-The downstairs curtains up to the height of, like, a small puppy standing on her hind legs
-The interior of a puppy crate
-Two muzzles purchased specifically to stop her chewing
-The interior of my mother's car

A brief list of things Freya has needed to be rescued from:
-Next door's cat
-The middle of a herd of dairy cattle
-An adolescent swan
-Five inches of water

A brief list of things Freya hates:
-Unaccompanied men
-Next door's cat
-Humpback bridges
-That suspicious looking outcropping of rocks halfway down the hiking trail

A brief list of reasons Freya would not survive on her own:
-She walked face first into a rose bush and looked up at me pitifully while I removed a thorn from her nostril
-I sometimes try to give her food in, like, a puzzle toy to keep her occupied and she always ignores it on the grounds that easier food will be along shortly. Sometimes she'll bring the toy to me to get me to fish the food out for her. Why have a dog and bark yourself, I guess.

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Books [Oct. 30th, 2016|11:05 pm]

Do You Want to Start a Sandal - Tessa Dare
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu - Joshua Hammer
Think of England - KJ Charles
The Abyss Surrounds Us - Emily Skrutskie
The Girl Before - Rena Olsen
City of Blades - Robert Jackson Bennett

Do You Want to Start a Scandal sits squarely in the middle of the pack when it comes to historical romances. The heroine was a little too wilfully innocent for my tastes, and the marquess/spy with the tragic backstory that is our hero a little too controlling. I liked it fine, more than it sounds like, but it's still just...fine.

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu is one I picked up largely because of the title. From it, the summary, and everything I'd heard about it I assumed I'd be getting a heist story about kick-ass african librarians keeping historical documents out of the hands of Al Qaeda. What I got was a history of Islamic extremism in Mali, and judged on those grounds it was good - well researched, well written, and interesting. But I'm docking it major points for not really being about what it purported to be about.

Think of England is a m/m historical romance set early in the twentieth century. It did occur that it was perhaps not unlike some Any Two Guys fic you might read in a megafandom, and from which I would have promptly back-buttoned because holy characterisation! But as original fiction I found it exceedingly charming.

Not related, but not, you know, unrelated: where are the f/f historical romances?

YA fantasy has become a hard sell for me in recent times, and The Abyss Surrounds Us is pretty typical of the genre, it has a hard to believe dystopian setup, a seventeen year old being sent on a life altering mission, that surely a better trained adult would be more suited for, and a formulaic romance, but. BUT. It has lesbians and sea monsters, and I am weak for lesbians and sea monsters. It really is good fun, although a word of warning - it's the first instalment of, I think, a duology so it doesn't have a neat ending.

The Girl Before is about a stockholm syndrome suffering woman who's both the victim and perpetrator of human trafficking. It's really, really good. It's also a hard fucking read.

I had the usual reaction to City of Blades, which I understand is: When is City of Miracles coming out!? I don't know how many fantasy novels there are where the protagonist is a one-armed woman general at the upper end of middle-age, but if you only read one this year then it should be this one. Highly, highly recommended.

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Fic & Procrastination (a winning combination) [Oct. 11th, 2016|11:33 pm]
Wow, yuletide signups came and went quickly. I guess that answers my am I going to participate this year? question for me.

I haven't thrown my hat in the Yuletide ring for years. As in, the last time I did Game of Thrones was an eligible fandom. I got out of the habit when I worked retail and December was neatly divided into thirds of working, sleeping, and stress crying.

It's probably for the best I'm sitting it out, because I still haven't started my [dreamwidth.org profile] femslashex fic (jfc, self.)

See, I have this attention span thing where I can only work on one fic at a time and I already had a PoI fixit open on my desktop. It was probably going to be posted in chapters anyway, because there are a couple of big pov changes, so I thought if I posted the first chapter I could temporarily move on. So:

When I Argue I See Shapes (1/3, Person of Interest, Root/Shaw) which is really equal parts a canon divergent AU where Root succeeds in her no good, very bad plan to hand herself over to Samaritan, and a canon compliant fixit where everything is inception.

It sort of worked; of course now I have a dangling WIP.

Then I got tapped to write a last minute pitch-hit for got_exchange:

Everybody Says That You're So Fragile (ASOIAF; Lyanna, Elia, Ashara) which is half my effort to save as many of the Dead Ladies Club as possible, and half Lyanna Stark: masked vigilante.

And now I'm going to write my femslash fic.

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Things I Have Been Putting In My Eyeballs [Oct. 9th, 2016|11:49 pm]
-I had one day off this week, during which I fell into a Luke Cage shaped hole and emerged blinking into the light thirteen hours later. Nothing's been done, the house is a state, my ironing was done by means of hanging it in the bathroom while I showered, and I have no regrets. That was the good shit.

Incoherent Luke Cage RamblingsCollapse )

I think Luke Cage is my favourite Marvel show yet. Jessica Jones was brilliant, I though, but it cut a bit close to the bone for me to actually call watching it enjoyable. I only wish Iron Fist looked better, and less like it was sponsored by the Game of Thrones casting department's off day.

-I belatedly got around to watching Star Trek: Beyond which I hadn't seen right away because all the trailers made it look like a generic action flick in space. But, actually, for a film that destroyed the Enterprise before the thirty minute mark it felt like the first reboot film that had actually been made by people who like Star Trek.

It certainly felt more like Trek than Star Trek: Gap Year or Star Trek: Is This Casting Racist? It helped that the cast, Kirk, specifically, looked like actual grown ups in this one.

Beyond is definitely closer to Actually Good than merely Better Than Into Darkness, but I still hold to my views that Star Trek is better suited to the small screen.

-I tried to watch Batman v Superman last time I was laid up with period pain (Dawn of Justice, quite possible more fun than bleeding from your vagina), largely because the Wonder Woman trailer had looked really good and I wanted to see her bits. I didn't get to Wonder Woman; I'd lost the will to live by twenty minutes in and decided that lying on my bed in silence more fully experiencing my stomach cramps would be more fun. Has anyone done some sort of Diana supercut?

-I've been really enjoying Pitch, this is a bit surprising because I know nothing about baseball and if I'm going to keep watching I should learn something of the rules if only to quiet the voice in my head that keeps saying they're playing cricket wrong. Also baseball is a bit like rounders, right? And once in primary school I broke my teacher's nose playing rounders because my shocked and appalled reaction to actually hitting the ball that had been thrown at me was to hurl the bat backwards over my shoulder.

Tales of my sporting incompetence aside, I think Pitch has been excellent so far. I really like the mentor-student vibe they seem to be going for with Ginny and Mike, with Ginny being Mike's legacy. I'm not shipping them, but I can totally see why people would. If I squint I can see myself shipping Ginny and her agent, but mostly I love the friendships been Ginny and Mike, and Ginny and Blip, and after the last episode want Ginny and Tommy to be unlikely bros forever.

-I have just finished a rewatch of all seven seasons of The West Wing which I started on the night of the Brexit vote. In times of great hardship President Bartlet comes to me...

(Actually this entire post is brought to you by my pre-gaming with Jack Daniels and the Hamilton soundtrack for the second presidential debate.)

At the end of season seven I still feel like Vinick should have won the election, and Santos wasn't characterised enough beyond 'the democrat.' And I hate that Josh ended up chief of staff, I can't imagine that he'd be any good at it.

I really didn't like that they brought perennial nice guy Sam back; his character felt dated even when S7 aired and even more so now. Also, there was an awkward line of Sam's, about America being a nation of centrists and Santos being just the president they needed to bring people together which felt like it had escaped from and earlier draft of the script where Vinick won. And it wasn't even bringing back a character from the earlier seasons that bothered me, because the return of both Amy Garner and Ainsley Hayes to serve on the senior staff worked for me, and actually in light of that it bothered me even more that the final 'what's next?' scene was the president and three guys in identical suits.

Even so, I will defend the finale forever if only for the scene of Donna being shown into her fantabulous new office as First Lady's Chief of Staff.

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