starlady: (bibliophile)
So here's the other semi-secret reason that I wanted to finally read Sayers: Garth Nix has talked about having read her books, and now that I have finished The Nine Tailors, I am quite confident in saying that there is quite a bit of Sayers influence lurking in the Old Kingdom novels, which I love forever. Thematic spoilers )
Speaking of Lirael, I also think that there's something of Shrewsbury in the Clayr and their Glacier. Like Shrewsbury, the Clayr's Glacier is an all-female society, and it displays the same instinctive solidarity for which Peter commends the Shrewsbury dons and which thwarts the poltergeist who wishes them ill. Like Harriet, Lirael spends a good chunk of time longing for that community, but unlike Harriet, she also suffers a good deal because of its solidarity, which she is on the outside of through no fault of her own. And like Harriet, Lirael does flourish on the outside of that community eventually (and in a romantic relationship between equals).
starlady: Peggy in her hat with her back turned under the SSR logo (agent carter)
What I'm Reading
Well, kind of several different things including She-Hulk vol 2, and also none--I've been trying to get some reading done in Japanese, which takes a while and which means that I haven't been reading English books.

What I've Read
Jason Latour et al, Spider-Gwen Nos. 1-5 (2015) - So my friend B told me about this series when she came to visit me this year, it was for sale on Comixology, I bought it, and I loved it. Originally a throwaway concept in a multiverse event, Spider-Gwen (now webspinning again under the name Radioactive Spider-Gwen, post-Secret Wars) follows Gwen Stacey as she deals with the emotional trauma of Peter Parker's death and the problems of being the Spiderwoman in a New York that has no time for heroes…complicated by the fact that her dad is the police detective in charge of her case. I think I said on Twitter that the NYPD doing what the mayor says is the least believable thing about the comic; Gwen is great (though the art is pretty terrible), and I loved her sarcastic responses to the world, her problems with her friends/ex-bandmates in the wake of the changes in her life, and the glimpses we get of a villain-version of Matt Murdoch. Probably one of my favorite comics this year, ngl.

Charles Soule et al., She-Hulk vol. 1 (2014) - Cancelled too soon, this series follows She-Hulk as she struggles to set up an independent law practice and deal with being a superhero on the side. Soule has a legal background himself, and he's a great writer, so it's no surprise that the story and the character and the cases she takes are all top-notch, and that there's some interesting questions about what the law means and what it does floating around in the background. These stellar qualities are almost enough to make up for the fact that the art is frequently godawful; the covers are always the best thing about each issue. Still, I'm looking forward to the second, final volume, which I have waiting on my iPad.

Garth Nix, Newt's Emerald (2015) - Garth Nix does a Regency romance with magic, complete with cross-dressing, pining, and enough social engagements to satisfy even the ghost of Georgette Heyer. I loved it from start to finish and I would read a dozen more books set in this world, the end.

Garth Nix, To Hold the Bridge (2015) - This collects basically all the short stories Nix has written since Across the Wall and Other Stories, with the exception of the Sir Fitz and Master Hereward tales, and it opens with the eponymous Old Kingdom novella. All of the stories are excellent, though the publication of some of them evidently intersected with the period in which I was heavily into anthologies, as about half of them turned out to be ones with which I was already familiar. The one about the surfer boy vampire hunter is still one of my favorites.

Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor, Welcome to Night Vale (2015) - The Night Vale novel! Listeners, I enjoyed it quite a lot; it has remarkably few of the first novel problems you might expect, and all in all it did a very good job of carving out an experience that was still recognizably Night Vale weird but was also demonstrably different from the podcast in a way that took advantage of the medium. (The final chapter!) Bring on the next one!

James Tiptree Jr., Brightness Falls from the Air (1985) - Quite a good book, and probably as happy an ending as Tiptree could have written. On to the short stories.

What I'll Read Next
I have a pile of books I want to read before the end of the year, and doubtless I won't finish all of them. I would have to read 10 books in the next two weeks to tie my 2011 record of 87 books and 11 to beat it, which may or may not be doable, but on the other hand if I knock out a bunch of my comics backlog is probably possible. Wish me luck!
starlady: (heaven's day)
What I'm Reading
Silver Spoon vol 4 by Arakawa Hiromu - It's still great. Also I'm really jealous of all their fresh vegetables.

The Maker's Mask by Ankaret Wells - After the disaster of The Three-Body Problem I wanted some sci-fi that was about as different as possible. I've only just started, but I'm quite enjoying the book so far. Ladies! Pseudo-medieval post-planetfall politics! Genderqueerness! Assassins!

Razorhurst by Justline Larbalestier - I bought this while I was in Australia, and it's just been short-listed for an Australian literary award, so I'm hoping to finish it soon!

What I've Read
Clariel by Garth Nix - I think the best thing to say is, it was worth the wait. I'm really impressed at how many writerly tricks Nix pulled off here, and how a book written 11 years after its predecessor but set 600 years before can so effortlessly set up the next book in the series. I also was impressed at how suspenseful I found the book to be, given that I knew the ending going in. MORE OLD KINGDOM NOW PLEASE.

Stranger by Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown - At long last the #YesGayYA book is available in the world, and I quite enjoyed it, which to be honest is no less than I expected. The book is set in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, but it's a very animanga kind of livable, quotidian postapocalypse, and the society it portrays is interesting and believable, with just enough vampiric plantlife thrown in to keep things interesting. Honestly I think this book may appeal to fans of X-Treme X-Men, as it really is "the X-Men in the Old West" in some ways, even as it's also one of the most LA books I've read--not Hollywood, but actual LA with actual people. The food descriptions alone nearly made me want to book a flight back to California; I did go out to the best Mexican restaurant in Tokyo because of it. And, of course, I also found the characters interesting, and wasn't fussed by the switching between multiple protagonists, or by what happens to them.

Essentially, I disagreed with the [community profile] ladybusiness review on basically all points, and in particular, I wanted to mention that I don't think that queer characters in books should be treated like they're made of glass. A story in which being gay and suffering for it in whatever way is not the only story that should be told about gay characters, but at the same time, it's not like nothing bad that isn't about being gay ever happens to gay people, and what some of the gay characters in this book have to deal with in terms of parents and family is stuff that everyone has to deal with. I think it's just as important to represent those kinds of things in fiction because they are universal, or the next best thing to it, and gay readers deserve to have that chance just as much as straight audiences. (I also appreciated that gayness isn't just for white boys. Indeed, most of the protagonists are people of color, which was refreshingly realistic for a book set in future!Los Angeles.) I will say, however, that if you haven't liked Sherwood Smith's other books, I don't think you'll like this one. She has a very distinctive close third person POV style that, quite frankly, took me a while to get used to when I first started reading her books, and though obviously this is a co-written book and the style isn't "strictly Sherwood," if you will, there's enough of it in the prose that I'm confident in this prediction. All that having been said, I loved it, and I'm very excited to hear that Hostage, the sequel, is coming very soon!

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison - I was not expecting to sit down and devour this book in less than a day but readers, I did. IT'S SO GOOD. It follows Maia, the despised youngest son of the elf emperor who unexpectedly inherits the throne after most of the rest of his family die in a suspicious airship accident. I'm still bitter about The Mirror Empire and grimdark, and I really appreciated a fantasy novel with goblins and elves and airships and bridges in which the struggles are about how to overcome one's own ignorance and how to enact good policy for one's realm. Maia is deeply sympathetic, and his relationship with his mother's family--he is essentially biracial, being half-goblin and and half-elf--was particularly interesting. I'm not sure I should even mention that Katherine Addison formerly wrote books under the name Sarah Monette, but I do think that assertions that this book is totally out of character with her previous work is somewhat wrong. It's true that this book is in many ways the polar opposite of something like Melusine and those books, but in some ways Maia's struggles to figure out how to interact with the world reminded me very much of my absolute favorite of Monette's works, namely the Kyle Murchison Booth stories. I do think there are subtle continuities between this book and Monette's earlier work, but I would also say that if you bounced off any aspect of the Melusine novels, I would heartily recommend giving this one a try. Her prose is a delight in and of itself.

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones - I read this because [personal profile] littlebutfierce mentioned it in a December meme post, and I devoured it. It's a masterpiece and if you haven't read it you must do so now--I especially recommend it to those of you who, like me, are rather over the whole Tam Lin thing or never even got into it in the first place. (Ironically, I've read a lot of Tam Lin books and will read more. But as Jones herself says in this book, if you can't find things worth reading in fairy tales that is your problem.) It is not very Tam Lin-ish even though it's a Tam Lin novel; there's far more of T.S. Eliot in here, which makes me happy because Four Quartets is my absolute favorite Eliot. That said, I am not ashamed to admit that I relied quite heavily on [personal profile] rushthatspeaks' two essays explicating the ending to understand what happened, and to those who may have found it confusing, I highly recommend those posts: We only live, only suspire/Consumed by either fire or fire and The way upward and the way downward are the same.

Silver Spoon vol. 3 by Arakawa Hiromu - Still excellent. I appreciate the peeks into Arakawa's philosophy, which was an aspect of FMA that was de-emphasized as things went on, understandably.

What I'll Read Next
Probably the book after the Wells one, since I'm given to understand that they're a very tightly knitted duology. Also more Diana Wynne Jones! And more Silver Spoon of course.
starlady: (the architect)
Nothing says "the vernal equinox" like a review of Lord Sunday with special attention to humanism in The Keys to the Kingdom. If you're me, anyway. Happy turning of the seasons, all! The weather is gorgeous by me; it's such a nice change.


Nix, Garth. Lord Sunday. New York: Scholastic Books, 2010.

This is the seventh and final volume of Nix's The Keys to the Kingdom series. While I think the individual volumes are ever so slightly uneven, the series overall is pretty damn awesome, and I liked it quite a lot. It's definitely better than The Seventh Tower, Nix' other series for middle readers (though TST is pretty cool too).

I was very disappointed at the ending of the sixth book, Superior Saturday, and was quite interested to see how Nix would wind up the series in this volume. Basically, it was awesome, I thought; I really liked the ending, and while everything necessarily is compressed to an extent (I was really quite surprised at how the book is not a doorstop… *pointedly does not look at JKR and Deathly Hollows), I think Nix manages to do justice to almost all of the various plot threads he kept running. I also think, given that the book is dedicated to Roger Zelazny and Philip Jose Farmer, that I am possibly missing resonances throughout the series by not having read either author. Ah well.

Also, I ♥ Suzy Blue. She is really, really quite amazing. And I enjoyed Nix' explicit quotation of Rodin's The Thinker rather more than I ought.

Let the Will be done. )

Well the keys to the kingdom they're mine again )

This is a good place to ask: does anyone have a link to a simple explanation of how to do descriptive text for images? 
starlady: Yuna from FFX-2: "My own ending" (ending)
I finished Sir Thursday this morning & I have to say it was excellent. Garth Nix is back on the top of his game. Drowned Wednesday was very rough around the edges, the pacing was off & it was obvious that it had given him a lot of trouble, but Thursday was a perfectly plotted page-turner from start to finish. Say that five times fast. Thursday's child has far to go. )

Thursday's vice was most definitely wrath. Monday was sloth, Tuesday greed/avarice, and Wednesday gluttony. I think that Lady Friday will be lust, Superior Saturday (and did I read in #3 that Saturday is female?) envy, and Lord Sunday pride. Of course, it's possible that Sunday will be envy (of the Architect), and Saturday pride (in being Saturday?), but that seems weak. Or Friday is envy and Saturday is lust (for power). Oo, I like that too.

My question is, is Arthur gaining virtues as he encounters the Trustees' vices? C.S. Lewis says there are four cardinal virtues, prudence, temperance, bravery, and justice, and three 'holy virtues,' faith, hope, and love. Hmm. Anyway, go read The Keys to the Kingdom.

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