raven: (vorkosigan - creepy planetary conquest)
[personal profile] raven
So after some time of not, I am reading and watching TV again! Hurrah. I asked around for recs and [personal profile] shinyjenni told me to read Mars Evacuees, by Sophia McDougall, which I completely adored. (Charismatic teenager and her super-cool BFF are evacuated from an alien war, to Mars! Have adventures! Save the world from an alien threat, almost incidentally! It’s great. Actually, it reminds me of The True Meaning of Smekday, both because of the joie de vivre and because it has a thoughtful approach to race. Our protagonist, Alice, thinks she can hang around, join one or another of the factions, when the adults disappear and it’s just the child evacuees, in their base camp on Mars; her best friend, Josephine, wants to get out immediately. She’s black. She knows that whatever happens, when the white kids start re-enacting Lord of the Flies, it’ll be her they’ll come for first. I actually found this whole little section very upsetting.) I’m reading quite a bit of YA at the moment, mostly because of [personal profile] cosmic_llin, who loves it, and I used to know much more about it when I worked at the bookshop and it turns out there’s tons of amazing YA been published since 2008, who even knew.

Relatedly, I am also reading Frances Hardinge for the first time, because many of you love her and the teeny Cambs branch library down the road surprisingly had most of her books. So I’m working my way through, and, hmm. I liked but didn’t love Cuckoo Song - I thought it was very good, very well done, so interesting in the way it engages with tropes of psychological horror and women being branded as hysterics, as well as more traditional fairy-tales about women. I loved the way it grounds itself in the literature of the world immediately following the First World War (I am sort of doing this myself, in the novella that I occasionally refer to here as the Immensely Aggravating Fantasy Historical, so it was a bit urrrgh in the good way to see the same thing done so much better, so precisely and neatly!). But I think it’s too far out of my usual genres, just personally speaking – I’m not into horror as a general thing and I was too thoroughly creeped out to enjoy myself while reading it.

That was not true for Gullstruck Island, which I loved - it’s my favourite book of the year so far and maybe of the last few years. I think it was called The Lost Conspiracy in the US? Anyway, a proper review of it is forthcoming, I think, but in the meantime, aaaah, what a good book. It’s a secondary-world fantasy, set on an island of living volcanoes and magical creatures and people who can send their awareness aloft like birds, but also colonialism. Also people being complex and intricately political, like they are, but not for the sake of it. (I really hate books that are all about “intrigue”, whatever the hell that is.) It’s also joyously imaginative and funny and wonderful. My favourite thing about it is how one tiny interaction near the start of the book – Hathin, a twelve-year-old girl who doesn’t know yet she’s a hero, giving Minchard Prox, a man who by his own account is nothing but a bureaucrat, a shell full of water to drink – reverberates through the novel and builds up a whole chain of consequences, until the two of them have finally become all they ought to be, and finally understood each other. I love that awareness of how small things often do acquire such weight and heft.

The next Hardinge on my list is A Face Like Glass, I think. I’m looking forward to it.

Um, what else? I tried The Raven Boys, but sadly couldn’t really get into it, thus adding it to the list of Things Everyone Else Is Into But I Am Not. (A list that now includes Community – I tried it yet AGAIN, still no dice – Avatar: The Last Airbender, the entire Marvel films-and-TV universe, the Hunger Games, RPF of all stripes, and Frozen! And I wonder why I feel like my involvement with fandom drops year on year! I’ve no idea what to do about this, actually, except let it happen. I’m not going to suddenly discover a passion for superheroes, am I. Or figure out how to use Tumblr. Time to go gently into that good night.)

Urgh, that’s depressing. What else? Shim and I finished off Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and it was great and I loved it and there’s no more for a while, so we picked up Parks and Recreation again and oh, oh, oh my show. We’re in the middle of season 6 right now, and the show has seen better days, I think – it’s pretty well mined its seam of small-town comedy - but there is so much I love about it even at this stage. April is my favourite. I love grown-up April SO MUCH: April who’s learned so much about how to live from Leslie and Andy and Ron (and Donna and Ben!), but has never lost her essential Aprilness. She and Leslie teaming up to do stuff is my favourite thing.

I am massively behind on Brooklyn Nine-Nine but I know rather a lot about one of the upcoming guest stars! Definitely the next thing to catch up on. And despite my thing about Marvel, I am reading Ms Marvel and enjoying it. Maybe more on that at some point - it's a super-sweet comic about a brown girl with adorably quotidian brown girl problems, and I like it.

on 2015-03-16 12:13 pm (UTC)
skygiants: Mosca Mye, from the cover of Fly Trap (the fly in the butter)
Posted by [personal profile] skygiants
Frances Hardinge! Cuckoo Song and Fly By Night are my favorite books that she's written but I think Gullstruck Island is the best book that she's written. The thing about Hardinge (one of the many things about Hardinge) is that she is so very good about making her books never about just one thing -- there's always at least five things intersecting in the middle and reverberating around each other.

on 2015-03-16 01:40 pm (UTC)
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
Posted by [personal profile] starlady
I literally just finished Cuckoo Song tonight. I think, having read all of her books except Verdigris Deep, that this book feels like a level up in technique in some ways, but Fly By Night will always be my favorite, because MOSCA MYE (closely followed by Twilight Robbery), but I was also amazed at Gullstruck Island. A Face Like Glass is great too. I don't know. It's hard to decide. I can't wait for The Lie Tree.

on 2015-03-16 02:55 pm (UTC)
brainwane: spinner rack of books, small table, and cushy brown chair beside a window in my living room (chair)
Posted by [personal profile] brainwane
Thank you, as always, for the recommendations. And I'm curious to hear more about what does or doesn't grab you about the Marvel movies/TV shows, as I've started getting into the Marvel films recently.

Perhaps I should try Frances Hardinge; I have enjoyed Pat Barker and maybe there are similar qualities there.

Are you looking for recs at all?

on 2015-03-25 11:07 pm (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] brainwane
Thank you for going into more detail. And I'll have to consider _Mars Evacuees_. (And I am also reading Ms. Marvel in trades!)

Remind me, have you tried Lavanya Sankaran? Have we already talked about this? I've blogged about her a bit. Some other things I have been enjoying:

* watching chunks of old television commercials with my spouse and using that as a jumping-off point to talk history and culture
* The Europa Report which has super brave scientist explorer women
* Courtney Milan romances
* Better Call Saul, whose protagonist is a beleaguered lawyer (the most recent episode, Rico, made me jump up and down with law fangirl glee)
* Beloved by Toni Morrison, OMG, it's a classic for good reason

Best wishes.

on 2015-03-16 03:22 pm (UTC)
eccentric_hat: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] eccentric_hat
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been really good lately--a whole lot of good Holt moments.

I sympathize with, well, feeling out of sympathy with fandom. I like the MCU okay but superheroes aren't really my fictional flavor of choice, and sometimes I get tired of watching people beat each other up just for the sake of following other people's conversations about it. I've abandoned the current British dramas I used to watch and that's shut me out of some conversations too, although the "Downton Abbey and Sherlock failed to live up to their narrative promises" conversation is one I've had so many times it feels like a form of fandom in itself. My very favorite fandoms have usually been small ones, anyway, often so small that there's nothing new between one Yuletide and the next, so I've gotten used to dry periods.

on 2015-03-16 04:27 pm (UTC)
frith_in_thorns: Hardcover books standing upright (.Books)
Posted by [personal profile] frith_in_thorns
A Face Like Glass! I adored it, and I think it was my favourite book I read last year. But it made me deeply, deeply jealous, because it was exactly the book I desperately want to be able to write.

(Also did you ever cross ways with Frances while you were in Oxford? She's just lovely as a person :) )

on 2015-03-16 04:30 pm (UTC)
vacillating: text on a multicoloured background: Gone to play poker, back when I run out of clothes, your muse (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] vacillating
I'm enjoying Ms Marvel, too, though I thought the Loki cross-over issue was disappointing.

The thing I'm binge-watching at the moment is Big Bang Theory - hadn't realised you were also a fan until I found Looking For par'Mach In All The Wrong Places on AO3. :) Loved it!

on 2015-03-16 07:10 pm (UTC)
soupytwist: girl, reading in bed (get caught reading)
Posted by [personal profile] soupytwist
I am really glad I was right that you'd like Gullstruck Island. The sheer AMOUNT of stuff she shoves in a relatively small space is just incredible. I want to write with that kind of richness and empathy and just, gah.

Thankyou for the rec of Mars Evacuees, that sounds like absolutely something I'd enjoy!

on 2015-03-16 10:19 pm (UTC)
shinyjenni: Cass sits cross legged, wearing her Batgirl costume, reading a book and rubbing the back of her head (cass)
Posted by [personal profile] shinyjenni
Really glad you liked Mars Evacuees! And oh, good point about its similarities to Smekday.

Ms Marvel is so wonderful, I'm consistently impressed by just how good it is. ♥

on 2015-03-17 01:08 pm (UTC)
deathbyshinies: (no kids)
Posted by [personal profile] deathbyshinies
> And I wonder why I feel like my involvement with fandom drops year on year! I’ve no idea what to do about this, actually, except let it happen. I’m not going to suddenly discover a passion for superheroes, am I. Or figure out how to use Tumblr. Time to go gently into that good night.)

I wonder if maybe it goes in cycles? My relationship with fandom c.2003 ("Lord of the Rings! Harry Potter! Buffy! All of the love and all of the SQUEE!!") was totally different to my relationship with fandom c.2008 ("urgh, why will people not STFU about Doctor Who, no seriously, the next time somebody does Weeping Angel I am going to run around stabbing everyone while they have their eyes shut")... and I now feel like things have swung back around my way again ("Why, yes, fandom, I do believe I would like copious amounts of fairly ridiculous porn about Captain America and Tony Stark, how kind of you").

ETA: I just realised that reads slightly like gloating -- apologies; I hope everyone gets excited about something that's appealing to you soon.
Edited on 2015-03-17 01:09 pm (UTC)

on 2015-03-21 12:24 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] enname.livejournal.com
Sophia! Whom I adore and is the loveliest person. Her three Roman novels are also fantastic, although in a slightly different vein to Mars Evacuees. Also writes the most fabulous canon!Holmes fanfic.

Eh, while I do like Community I don't like the other fandoms. Hunger Games bores me, so does Game of Thrones, MCU .. well I like Thor, but for the mythology/comics and not the films, the rest make me angry and meh. I tried Parks and Recreation and just couldn't keep going, even though I could see it was good. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is lovely though.

Miss Fisher will be aired here in Oz soon, so that is something to look forward to. :)

on 2015-03-24 08:28 pm (UTC)
tau_sigma: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] tau_sigma
I’ve no idea what to do about this, actually, except let it happen. I’m not going to suddenly discover a passion for superheroes, am I. Or figure out how to use Tumblr. Time to go gently into that good night.

...that is depressing, but I think I feel a bit like that too? Except I feel like I never got to be properly in fandom in the first place - in my teenage years, when I was too busy worrying about what everyone else thought and trying to please my mother, etc. Woe.

Also, I feel like there is SO MUCH to be into now. Was it always like this? *sigh*

I am pretty much babbling, but mostly, um, hello you. <3

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