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October Books [Oct. 30th, 2018|11:49 pm]
Netgirl
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Transcription - Kate Atkinson
The Wych Elm - Tana French
Cross Her Heart - Sarah Pinborough
Catwoman: Soulstealer - Sarah J. Maas
Record of Spaceborn Few - Becky Chambers
The Hollow of Fear - Sherry Thomas


Transcription is a historical novel that jumps around between WWII, the 50s, and the 80s. The bulk of the action is set in WWII where a young woman is drafted to transcribe bugged meetings between fascist sympathisers for MI5, it then picks up in the 50s and 80s where her wartime actions come back to haunt her. The WWII sections are really good; atmospheric, well drawn, and compelling. The parts set in the 50s are harder going, and contained more information about the internal politics of the BBC children's service of that era than I really cared to know. Recommended for fans of WWII novels and unreliable female narrators.

The Wych Elm is the first Tana French novel not set in her Dublin Murder Squad series, and doesn't have any of the nods to magical realism that I have such mixed feelings on in those books (I thought it worked in Broken Harbour, was a bit on the nose in The Secret Place, and that The Likeness was stupid.) In it our protagonist is Toby, the handsome, upper middle class poster boy for unthinking privilege. His privilege is put on spectacular display early in the novel where he confidently assumes he got his job as a green as grass graduate over a woman with decades of experience because he was the better person for the job, or when he runs off a guy who was hanging around his girlfriend's job and pestering her without even trying to understand why she was so frightened. All the same, he's not a bad guy, he's just...he's that guy. After Toby interrupts burglars at his flat and survives a terrible beating he goes to his Uncle Hugo's house to recover (because Toby is also the guy who has an Uncle Hugo), where a body is discovered in the garden. From there it becomes both a really engaging mystery (it edged close to having one too many twists for me, and I still can't decide if it pulled it back in time) and a study of the way Toby's privilege both no longer helps him (of course the police suspect the twitchy, nervous guy with the holes in his memory and the weird face) and still does (he's still a white guy with well off parents.) Highly recommended.

I remembered really enjoying Sarah Pinborough's Dog-Faced Gods trilogy years ago, so to say I was disappointed in Cross Her Heart would be something of an understatement. This thriller had too many stupid, ridiculous, suspension of disbelief shattering 'twists' to recap. But the one I found most egregious was the idea that a forty year old could convincingly pass herself off as eighteen to other teenagers for months on end. I mean, come on.

I returned to DC's YA series with Catwoman: Soulstealer after not reading the Batman instalment for the same reason I plan on skipping the Superman one, which is, you know, very much not caring. I actually, and much to my surprise, liked the Catwoman book a lot more than I enjoyed the Wonder Woman one. Maybe it was that I care for Sarah J Maas's writing more than I care for Leigh Bardugo's, or maybe it was just that the Selina, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn team up, and the idea that Harley's relationship with the Joker is toxic and she should be with Ivy instead played up to exactly what I like in my DC.

After frickin' loving the first book in Becky Chambers Wayfarers trilogy and being only so so on the second I am pleased to report that Record of a Spaceborn Few is a return to form. In this one we visit the Exodan Fleet, a human society based around the generational ships they first left Earth on. Like the rest of the series it's told using revolving povs and is rather light on plot, but the povs are endearing, and it's a really interesting study of an insular society and the people who choose to leave, choose to stay, and choose to move in. The whole series is really worth a shot, and you'll know almost instantly if the style isn't going to work for you.

All year I have had nothing but good things to say about Sherry Thomas' Lady Sherlock series; alas, I felt like The Hollow of Fear went off the rails somewhat. A little bit it of my discontent was the overly convoluted plot and the reliance on information the reader couldn't possibly have, but mostly it was that by now Charlotte Holmes is pretending to be the bedridden genius Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock's sister (who is somehow not Charlotte Holmes), and while wearing a false beard and fake paunch Sherlock's brother Sherrinford Holmes. I'm sorry, Sherry Thomas, but this is where I get off.

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Two Bits of Fluff [Oct. 23rd, 2018|12:46 am]
Netgirl
[community profile] femslashex is my favourite exchange of this year and every year, but this go round I was just not feeling the writing process.

First of all I learned an important lesson about not offering "Any" when what I really mean is these three specific pairings that I'm assuming are the only ones that anyone will be requesting. Which was how I came to write an Amita/Daphne fic for Ocean's 8 when I'd thought all the requests would be for Debbie/Lou, Debbie/Tammy, or at a stretch Rose/Daphne. So, anyway. That's on me.

Then I picked up a pinch-hit because the ship I've been most excited about all year is Sara/Ava from Legends of Tomorrow, and immediately after I claimed it I remembered that I'd already written a couple of fics about them, and had. Literally. Nothing. Else to say about them. Again, that's on me.

I'd don't think either of the results are bad, exactly, just nothing-y.

Who'll Play Me In The Movie Of Our Lives (Ocean's 8, Daphne/Amita)

Amita rolled her eyes, because of course Daphne Kluger was a triple threat.

Stuck in the Middle (of the Time Stream) With You (LoT, Sara/Ava)

Day 4:

Mostly Sex.

Like, even by Sara's standards, that was a borderline obscene amount of sex.


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Things I Have Been Putting In My Eyeballs [Oct. 12th, 2018|08:31 pm]
Netgirl
I let out a deep breath (that I hadn't known I was holding, in fanfic parlance) when the first episode of this series of Doctor Who aired and I found it delightful.

I still haven't watched Twelve's last series (well, I watched the christmas special for fifteen seconds of Jodie Whittakar, but I was pretty drunk) because of how Matt Lucas' Nardole bugged the shite out of me. And I'd been worried I'd have the same I-hate-your-stupid-face reaction to Bradley Walsh (people who watched the UK version of L&O might see him as a proper actor, but to me he'll always be the gurning bloke from that daytime quiz show that you only see when you're unemployed), and not that I wouldn't trade Graham for Grace in a hot second, but he was fine.

At first I'd thought the casting was a bit...busy, and that the TARDIS was going to be a bit crowded. But having seen the first episode, and after a run of Doctors who glommed onto one super duper special human and barely seemed to tolerate the rest of us, it is nice to have a Doctor who fell to Earth and immediately adopted four (4) people.

I like Thirteen's outfit...in theory. I like how it sticks two fingers up at the male gaze, I like how it actually does look like what you'd get if you plonked a blindfolded person down in a charity shop and told them to pick the comfiest clothes possible. On the other hand it looks more old-school than we've become used to in nu-who; less stylised and more costume-y. Hopefully I'll like it more on Sunday when we see it in motion more.

Let's be honest, there was no way I wasn't going to watch, and adore the first female Doctor, and having seen the first episode I'm just relieved that the show isn't going to make that difficult.

This last season of Elementary felt a bit disjointed. I know that there were behind the scenes reasons for that (it's a half season! Wait! It's a full season! It's the last season! Surprise renewal!) but there's no denying that it was weirdly paced; like with Sherlock's serial killer friend having to take himself off on a road trip for a bunch of episodes so that he could be the bad guy in the finale, and full of plot threads that never led anywhere; like, apparently Moriarty escaped from prison off-screen, but let us never speak of it again because we can't get the actress back.

I had mixed feelings about the Joan tries to adopt subplot. A woman who's never exhibited a single maternal instinct suddenly realises that she's desperate to be a mother is one of my least favourite tropes of all time, especially, as was the case with Joan, when it's because someone tells her she wants to be a mother. On the other hand, I'd be lying if I said I didn't find Sherlock's insistence that he feels no pressure to co-parent Joan's child (please let me co-parent your child, Watson!) delightful. Plus, now that the show's been surprised renewed I'd be surprised if that subplot comes around again. You'd have to change the structure of the show pretty drastically to accommodate Joan and Sherlock having a kid; unless you were going to treat the baby like Clyde and whip it out twice a season wearing an adorable hat and the rest of the time forget it exists.

The ending with Joan and Sherlock in London was so absolutely pitch-perfect that I'm almost bummed it wasn't the last episode because I don't know how they're going to come up with another ending that perfect.

I think I spent last week in the upside down because I watched the second seasons of Luke Cage and Iron Fist and Iron Fist was better, like, a lot better..?

At thirteen episodes Luke Cage was too long; three hours of it could have been cut, five hours of it could have been cut and nothing of value would have been lost. Luke wouldn't have had to lose three separate fights to Bushmaster in basically the same way; he wouldn't have had to come to the realisation that Harlem needs a king twice five episodes apart.

The first four episodes were lost to a pained and overwrought subplot to write out Claire Temple, the effect of which could have been achieved by holding up a scorecard reading: Rosario Dawson doesn't want to do these anymore ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

I mean it wasn't a total loss. The fight scenes, especially the free for alls involving Luke, Misty, Bushmaster, and Shades were A+. The overarching theme of power corrupting and Harlem needing a king was cool. Misty Knight has a bionic arm now - by the way, the badass lady cop with a bionic arm was my favourite thing about Altered Carbon too; sometimes I wish this wasn't such a specifically gendered trope with me, because if Bucky scanned as anything more than a total non-entity to me then I would never run out of fic to read - but it was way, way too repetitive, meandering, and just too long.

Iron Fist had a leg up in that it was a much tighter ten episodes, and also that after its balls up of a first season it had nowhere to go but up. Okay, I can't really be impartial about this season, because I only ever wanted one thing from this show, one tiny, super specific thing that I never, ever thought I'd get, and that was for Colleen Wing to be the iron fist.

Thank you, show. You can leave. Please show in Daughters of the Dragon.

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September Books [Sep. 29th, 2018|11:53 pm]
Netgirl
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The Feather Thief - Kirk Johnson
Everything Trump Touches Dies - Rick Wilson
Fear - Bob Woodward
Artificial Condition - Martha Wells
When Katie Met Cassidy - Camille Perri
The Governess Game - Tessa Dare
Red Sister - Mark Lawrence
Grey Sister - Mark Lawrence
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter - Theodora Goss
Lethal White - Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)


I was saying recently that I don't read much true crime because it makes me feel voyeuristic and just plain icky. I do have one big exception, and that's crimes where no-one gets hurt, and that are esoteric or just plain weird. The Feather Thief is everything I want in a true crime novel and more. It's the story of a classically trained flautist who as a child became obsessed with ye olde Victorian art of fly tying and ultimately knocked off several filing cabinets worth of centuries old preserved birds from the British Museum in order to maintain his hobby. It's weird and fascinating and awesome.

For a Scot I sure have read a lot of books about US politics this year. I read two this month. Fear doesn't really contain any revelations that are new to people who follow the news, or have, you know, eyes and ears. It's basically a drier, better researched version of Fire & Fury. It's also pretty obvious who talked to Woodward (Bannon, Porter, Cohn & Graham), and I know that if we wait for a boy scout to blow the whistle on this administration we'll be waiting a long time, because there isn't one, but I am super not interested in anything that lets wife beating Rob Porter paint himself as a hero. In the end Fear was mostly interesting as yet another Watergate comparison in an administration that could really live without them. Rick Wilson is a republican operative who I'm pretty sure I disagree with on literally everything except for the fact that Trump is the worst. Anyway, he hates Trump, is hilarious, and I think I enjoyed reading Everything Trump Touches Dies more than Fear.

The second Murderbot novella Artificial Condition was as good as, maybe better than the first - Murderbot makes friends with a spaceship! They're exactly as charming as everyone says they are. The only thing that sours me on them is the way they're being released as four novellas - four expensive novellas - when they'd easily make one long novel, or at least a duology. I'm not saying it's a money grab, but it feels like a money grab. Still planning on reading the rest of the series, though.

When Katie Met Cassidy; or, why do all lesbian romances suuuuccck, part a million. It's a slap-slap-kiss romance between two corporate lawyers (belch). And while it's nice that Cassidy, the lesbian character, is butch, she pretty much veers into parody, and the other character Katie is basically an amalgamation of every straight girl having a gay awaking. And, by the way, the book could have been about half the length if it had ever used the word 'bisexual'. Basically, ugh.

Tessa Dare's id - brainy heroines and grouchy rakes with hearts of gold - works for me so much more than I would have expected it to if you described it to me. The Governess Game is more of the same, and I really liked it.

A few years ago I read the first book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy, which was notionally about assassin nuns, but was in reality a sort of meh YA fantasy romance. Where, I have been wondering since then, is my boarding school story set in assassin nun school? And if that seems like a weirdly specific request, I'll have you know that it was more than satisfied by Red Sister and its sequel. And if the fact that it's a boarding school story set at assassin nun school isn't tempting enough for you, let me leave you with the first line: It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent, Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men. Highly fucking recommended.

In The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter Mary Jekyll, daughter of the doctor of the same name, meets Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein for adventures. Sherlock Holmes is there. As is Renfield. It felt like the author was too busy jamming in every victorian and gothic reference she could think of that she neglected to write an actual, you know, plot.

I really like the Cormoran Strike series. I liked Lethal White, and I'm sure I'll like the inevitable BBC adaptation even more. But holy smokes, it reminded me of the later Harry Potter books in the sense of really needing a good editing. I don't know if they just don't care, or know it'll sell like hotcakes anyway, but it was six hundred and fifty pages long and I feel like a good two hundred of them were superfluous. I also got a little snagged on the mentions of the Olympics and it being set in 2012; it didn't ruin it or anything, but it was a bit jarring in a book that came out just last week. Rowling can write the hell out of a mystery though.

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Fics What I Have Written [Sep. 24th, 2018|12:37 am]
Netgirl
Remix Revival and AU Exchange were two exchanges that I signed up for, received assignments that stumped me, was 98.5% sure I was going to default on, and ended up writing fics that I feel good about at the eleventh hour. A lesson to take forward into Femslashex. Or, even better than that, I could start writing now.

There are lots of valid ways to write a remix. You can change the pov. You can background the pairing. Or you can do what I did, which was to go "Well, there's nothing in the original fic that definitively says that Sansa isn't a werewolf.

And I Fall (Call of the Wild Remix) (ASOIAF, Sansa Stark)

Once upon a time there was a very scared little girl, who grew up and discovered that the best way to stop being scared was to become scary.

I matched for AU Exchange with the same person I'd written for in Fandom5k, and having only just written them 8k of no boys allowed AU where the women of Westeros were all politicians and journalists I felt a bit guilty about writing them another 3k of no boys AU where the women of Westeros are all criminals. But I got over it. And I know that Dany/Yara is a pairing that other people cared about for five seconds two years ago. But I got over that too.

The Casterly Rock Job (GoT, Dany/Yara)

"You want me to take over the sex trafficking business?" Yara asked incredulously.

"Take it over." Dany stood on her toes and nipped Yara's bottom lip. "Burn it down."


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August Booklog [Aug. 31st, 2018|12:04 am]
Netgirl
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Give Me Your Hand - Megan Abbott
Dear Madam President - Jennifer Palmieri
Leah on the Offbeat - Becky Albertalli
I'll Be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara
Future Home of the Living God - Louise Erdrich
Unhinged - Omarosa Manigault Newman
A Study in Honor - Clair O'Dell


Give Me Your Hand revisits Abbott's favoured topics of female friendship and female rage, this time set in a research lab studying severe PMS. And if you've liked previous Megan Abbott books you'll probably like this one too. I must admit though, I keep picking up her books thinking I'm going to like them more than I do, and I can't put my finger on exactly why they don't entirely work for me, because they're all technically brilliantly written, and about subjects that should be right up my alley. I guess they're maybe that little bit too dark for me.

Jennifer Palmieri worked in both the Obama White House and on the Clinton campaign and her contribution to the ever growing "what that fuck is happening?" genre is a slim volume framed as a letter full of advice for America's eventual first female president. Dear Madam President is a quick read - I read it in a single sitting - and its biggest takeaway is that people hold women to different, and harsher standards than the do men. Not an original observation, to be sure, but a valid one, and one that a lot of people seem weirdly reluctant to accept.

I didn't read Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda but I did really love the move adaptation, and there was a bit (the bit where all the kids are meeting up in costume to go to Bram's party) where it seemed like they were hinting at Leah having a thing for Abby, so I jumped straight into the second book Leah on the Offbeat where that is indeed the case. God, if I'd read this book as a teenager teen me would have over-identified like whoa with nerdy, overweight but not bothered by it , never been kissed Leah Burke. And thirty-five year old me really loved the book too.

I don't read a lot of true crime. It's like Gillian Flynn says in her introduction to Michelle McNamara's I'll be Gone in the Dark, you have to accept that you're making yourself a voyeur to the worst thing that's ever happened to another person. And the fact that McNamara died suddenly while writing it added, for me, another layer of ick to it. But there had been a lot of buzz about this book looking the golden state killer, a serial rapist and murderer who terrorised Californians for a decade during the seventies and eighties, not least because not long after its publication he was finally caught. McNamara is a brilliant crime writer, a brilliant writer full stop, which is never more obvious than in the places that her collaborators have had to fill in the blanks to get the book ready for publication. And it is darkly fascinating. But, still, ick.

Future Home of the Living God is a reproductive dystopia (there's lot of them about lately) set in a world where evolution has stopped, and in some cases started running backwards. The scene where a sabre tooth tiger eats a chocolate lab while our protagonist watches out her kitchen window illustrates the premise well, but, darn, I could have lived without it. Pregnant, and later on fertile women, are expected to turn themselves into the government to see if they can produce quote normal unquote babies. It was brilliantly written; it was also meandering, bleak, and ultimately unsatisfactory.

Okay, I'll hold my hands up. As part of my continuing addiction to the soap opera/prelude to the end of the world that is US politics, I read Omarosa's book. I am not proud of myself. I also felt like I needed to shower after finishing it. If asked to summarise it I would do so thusly: Holy revisionist history, Omarosa!

A Study in Honor is a near future, pre-cyberpunk, political dystopia set in a US riven by a second civil war. Janet Watson is a PTSD riddled veteran with a malfunctioning cybernetic arm who through circumstances ends up sharing an apartment with undercover federal agent Sara Holmes. It is a perfectly acceptable pre-cyberpunk, political thriller. But the weakest thing about it, the very weakest thing, is pasting on the names Holmes and Watson. Look, just because Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain and you can use it, doesn't mean you should. Watson's PTSD was really well done, and making her black and a lesbian was an A+ choice. Although I did have some quibbles about the way the book leaned into its portrayal of race, which as the whitest person in the world second only to Benedict Cumberbatch I am utterly unqualified to comment on; I'll just say I was not surprised to discover that the author was white too, and leave it at that. But Sara had nothing in common with Sherlock beyond a last name; she was a spy not a detective, and her "deductions" were the result of cybernetic implants and high speed wifi. She was also a blank slate; the name Holmes obviously being meant to stand in for any depth, personality, or characterisation. It was really disappointing.

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You Can Never Go Back [Aug. 18th, 2018|12:27 am]
Netgirl
We all have those shows that we love that were cancelled before their time: one of mine was The Bletchley Circle about former Bletchley Park code breakers who get caught up in a murder investigation. It only had about half-a-dozen or so episodes all in; the first series was entirely, utterly perfect, the shine had come off the second somewhat, but it was still good and didn't deserve to be cancelled. So I was delighted when I heard it was getting revived for a semi-reboot with half the original cast: The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco.

They've aired four episodes of it, and guys, it is not good. It feels really thin and cheap, which I suppose shouldn't be a surprise as it was made by a US channel that barely exists yet. Not to mention that 1950s Britain was a very different world from '50s California, and that could have been fodder for a good fish out of water story. Instead it just felt like they'd taken characters from one genre and dumped them wholesale into another; like they've taken the characters from Game of Thrones and deposited them into, idk, Altered Carbon without explanation.

And the writing was -- okay, the original show hasn't been on any streaming service I have, so I haven't rewatched it in years, and I'm probably remembering it through rose-tinted glasses, but I remember it being better written than this. It wasn't even just that the mysteries weren't well plotted, though they aren't. There's an especially baffling scene scene where Jean exits the frame and the camera lingers on the walking stick she's left behind - because people often move to one of the hilliest cities in the world only to discover that they no longer need their mobility aids. And, like, the show aired a handful of episodes that hardly anyone watched six years ago - no one can remember whether Jean walked with a cane or not. If you don't want her to walk with a stick just don't give her a stick.

And, okay, the first iteration of the show never explicitly said that Millie wasn't straight, even though she'd obviously been in at least unrequited love with Susan during the war, and she was one of those female characters who fetch up on historical dramas (Patsy on Call the Midwife is the example that comes instantly to mind) where every lesbian watching immediately goes: one of us! one of us! one of us! So I was always going to side eye the choice to hook Millie up with the blandest tertiary male character in the history of bland tertiary male characters. But I took some comfort from the fact that they seemed to be dropping some hints that Jean might not be straight - there was a subtle as a brick through a window line about her being a confirmed spinster.

There was a weird-ass bit at the end of the last episode which intercut the canon married couple with Millie and her cardboard policeman date, and with Jean and Hailey having a fireside picnic on the beach and going skinny dipping in the pacific. Hailey is the youngest of our new code breakers, although she seems to be more of a mechanic because I don't even know what this show is trying to do or be. And, like, it was the most 'Harold, they're lesbians...' scene I have seen in ages. And yet I have seen television before; I know that the show's oldest and frumpiest styled character is not going to be written into a romantic subplot with a borderline teenager. So were they fucking with us, are they so painfully heterosexual that it didn't occur to them that other people might read it as romantic, or is it just holy bad editing, batman? Having seen the rest of the show I'm going to say a little of column b, a little of column c.

By the way, none of that is diminishing my desire to write fic where Hailey is actively pursuing Jean, and Jean is being baffled and Scottish and Presbyterian about it.

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A Very Average AO3 Meme [Aug. 15th, 2018|12:58 am]
Netgirl
I'm apparently not the only one who noticed that those other AO3 memes draw attention to outliers (Living Arrangements is an outlier and ought not to have been counted.) So here is a different meme that is meant to be a little more representative, a little more... average.

Average Word Count: 2285
Average Hits Count: 2741
Average No. of Kudos: 211
Average No. of Comment Threads: 10
Average No. of Bookmarks: 39 (I can only assume that most of these are private notes to self saying 'don't read anything by this author again, she's weird and doesn't know how to use semi-colons.)

Work(s) closest to the average word count:

So, the closest is The Trouble with Witches (at least the evil get to go home early on Fridays) at 2288 words. It's a Merlin fic featuring neither Merlin nor Arthur, where Morgana fucks off out of Camelot to undergo personality rehabilitation under the purview of a baby dragon and benevolent ruling queen.

Pretty fucking representative, I'd say.

Work(s) closest to the average hit count:

Abu el Banat at 2769 hits, an ASOIAF fic about Oberyn and his daughters. Not at all representative of me because it's about a dude, but simultaneously extremely representative of me because even when a fic is about a dude it's about the women around him.

And it's a little further out at 2684 hits, but How to Ruin Your Life and Disappoint Your Loved Ones is an ASOIAF fic where Lyanna lives and is the one to rebel against the mad king, Elia lives to be queen on the iron throne, and Sansa Stark is the heir to Winterfell, and it might be the most me fic I have ever written.

Work(s) closest to the average no. of kudos:

(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To at 214 kudos. It's a Margaery/Brienne modern political bodyguard AU, where Margaery is pretty fucking gay, and Brienne is pretty fucking awkward.

Pretty fucking me, yes?

Work(s) closest to the average no. of comment threads:

I used to feel like 10 was on the unrealistic end of average comments, but ifYoung Hearts (the dangerous book for girls remix) a Merlin No Boys Allowed Hogwarts AU that sank like a stone when it was first posted can get to 10 comment threads over time then maybe it is accurate after all.

I think comment culture is the huge difference between fandom in the days of LJ and fandom now; back then you got all the comments you were going to get in the first 24 hours, now I'll only get a couple of comments the first day but they'll continue to trickle in forever.

Now things sit on AO3 long enough to find their audience. I've found my audience! That audience is ten people! And that's awesome!

Work(s) closest to the average no. of bookmarks:

Spot on at 39 bookmarks is Schrodinger's Simulation, a Root/Shaw fixit that continues to tread my well worn tracks of Hey, That Lady You Thought Was Dead, She's Not Dead, Don't Think About It Too Hard.

Well...those were certainly some representative fics.

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Telly [Aug. 2nd, 2018|11:05 pm]
Netgirl
I watched five episodes of the second season of Westworld, and then went: um, I'm not sure slogging through another five hours of this is going to clarify anything for me. I guess I shall let it live on in my mind forever as a one season wonder.

I hope the second season of Killing Eve is close to as good as the first, because the first was perfect in every way. I think I feel about Killing Eve the way my friends who liked Hannibal felt about that show - Hannibal was not a show I could ever watch; partly because of too many dudes on the dance floor, but mostly because I am far too squeamish for it. I was once walking the dog while listening to a podcast where they were talking about Hannibal and I had to stop and sit down on a park bench with my head between my knees. Killing Eve has the push-pull without the gross out stuff.

The second season of The Handmaid's Tale got off to kind of a rough start, not least because the first four episodes are just an exercise in holding your breath waiting for June to get dragged kicking and screaming back to the Waterford house. But after that it did have some standout episodes (the Canada one, jfc). It also did one significant thing right, I thought, which was making Serena Joy a sort of secondary protagonist, teasing her possible defection from Gilead, and allowing season three to go back into the Waterford house without having to have June there; I think if June does end up back at the house then that's it, suspension of disbelief has been well and truly killed. The season ending didn't entirely land with me, it didn't do really anything to convince me that June wouldn't escape Gilead if given the chance, or that there's anything she can do by staying.

The thing about Serena Joy is that Gilead is the wish she made on an evil monkey's paw, and she deserves every kicking it gives her, I know this, and yet... I think I understand a bit more about what people see in characters like Kylo Ren, not in the sense of thinking they're really the hero (nah) or enjoying their unabashed villainy (if that's what floats your boat) but in watching them through your finger's going: fuck's sake, just this once do the right thing, for once in your useless life, be a person.

Anyway, my complicated Serena Joy - end of S2 feelings in fic form:

Better Not Wake The Baby

Serena Joy fucking Waterford.

Yeah. June kind of judges herself for that one, too.

Or,

June and Serena escape Gilead together.


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Movies What I Have Seen Lately [Jul. 31st, 2018|11:35 pm]
Netgirl
I actually ended up going to the midnight opening of Solo in a half-empty cinema because my neighbour had a spare ticket. And for a movie that literally nobody wanted it was...fine. Quite obviously they should have swapped Woody Harrelson and Thandie Newton's roles around, because otherwise what even was the point of casting Thandie Newton? And they should have held it up for six months and released it at Christmas. Partly because it was too soon after The Last Jedi; I was sitting in the pictures when the yellow star wars logo popped up and I was like: Star Wars? I've just seen Star Wars. It's too soon. Plus, it means that the only big holiday movie this year is going to be the second Fantastic Beasts film; a movie with even more questionable casting choices than Solo, and Solo cast Emilia Clarke as a ninja crime boss. She was actually much better than I expected her to be, but you get my point. The thing I really don't understand about Crimes of Grindelwald is that you've got a character who can canonically change faces, and the knowledge that Johnny Depp is a cocksplat is unavoidable; it's not like anyone was going to ask questions if Grindelwald still looked like Colin Farrell.

Okay, I know I shouldn't apply any thoughts whatsoever to the new Tomb Raider movie but it did two things that really annoyed me. The first was that thing that a lot of movies and shows do, where they show what's clearly meant to be a fairly down at heel London flat, except it's got a roof terrace and a view of the gherkin. If you're a down on your luck Russian oligarch, maybe. Look, if Lara's making her living as a bike courier and refusing to touch her inheritance then she's living in a tower block and commuting in for three hours every morning. The second thing is, and I know it was just to get that sequel baiting shot of Lara with the two guns in, and maybe American movie producers have a skewed idea of how easy it is to procure firearms, but you cannot buy paramilitary weapons from the back room of a Ramsdens gold store. Good action sequences though.

I read Disobedience earlier in the year and thought this is going to be really hard to make into a movie, especially considering that the first trailer had made it look like a romance between the two women. In the book I never really got the sense that they really still had feelings about each other; Ronit was just a convenient vessel for Esti to pour her long repressed lesbianism into, and when Ronit finally did take her to bed it seemed to be less about Esti and more as a giant fuck you to the orthodox community that hadn't exactly welcomed her home with open arms. A hard setup to turn into a romance, yes? And as a result the changes the movie made to it seem like they were in love and might end up together someday felt pasted on, while leaving the ending ambiguous enough as to be unsatisfying. And if you've heard anything at all about this movie you probably heard about the bit in the sex scene where Rachel Weisz spits in Rachel McAdams' mouth, which doesn't make any more sense in context, and in fact the entire sex scene is a weird and uncomfortable watch. The movie is better as a study of an insular religious community than a relationship study, and the book does that better than the movie.

I didn't watch the new Jumanji film when it came out because I had thoughts about one of the only two female characters being played by Jack Black, and it seemed like they were doing a smurfette thing with Karen Gillan. Obviously, those were too many thoughts to be having about the frickin' Jumanji reboot, but they were also completely wrong, because it was the most delightful movie I'd seen all year, and it held that title until the next night when I watched Love, Simon.

I didn't see Love, Simon when it first came out, but I did read those opinion pieces about how we as a society are past needing sweet romantic comedies about two boys falling in love, and now that I have seen it I would like to join the chorus of people inviting the writers of those pieces to fuck the entire way off. Maybe we don't need Love, Simon but we don't need Jumanji either, and both of those movies made a terrible weekend at work (we had two residents, one of whom I adored, pass away) a little more bearable.

I entirely missed Wimbledon this year, as I was too busy biting my fingernails as England got perilously close to winning the World Cup. For the record, I unironically supported England up to the quarter-finals (by the standards of English footballers, Southgate and Kane seem like decent enough blokes who make it hard to work up a good head of nationalist steam) at which point I went cripes, they might actually win this and switched my allegiance to Croatia. Instead I watched Battle of the Sexes. Who would have thought Emma Stone would make such a convincing Billie Jean King? I think it was properly the best film I've seen since...gosh, Spotlight.

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