Wednesday Reading Meme

Mar. 25th, 2015 09:53 pm
meganbmoore: (too many books)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
What are you currently reading

Currently in between.

What did you recently finish reading?

Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller. finished reading this, and it remained pretty enjoyable throughout. I'd like it if they did more rebels prequel books, particularly of Hera and Kanan acquiring Zeb and Sabine.

Vixen in Velvet by Loretta Chase. Third book in a series (I haven't read the first two) about three sisters who are French dressmakers and marry incredibly rich British lords. Entertaining, like most Loretta Chase, but the concept stretched believability a bit much for me, even for a Window Dressing historical Romance.

Cloche and Dagger and Death of a Mad Hatter by Jenn McKinlay. First two books in a mystery series about two cousins who run a hat shop. Cousin A became internet-famous thanks to a youtube video in which she's flinging handfuls of anniversary cake at her supposedly-single boyfriend. Depending on who you ask, she's either "a total nutter' (used frequently in the books by characters who have seen the video, but not a view supported by the narrative) or a feminist icon and symbol for women who discover they're dating cheating louses. Cousin B is the creative, free spirited cousin prone to leaving for weeks on end without a word to buy rare feathers, or spending her entire savings on crystals, both to be used in hats. People keep dying while wearing their hats, but more people keep buying them. More overtly humorous than a lot of the mysteries I've been reading lately, and very fun.

Tonari no Seki-kun vol 1-2 by Takuma Morishige. Manga that the anime I watched last year is based on. Studious girl has a neighbor in class who is always bringing absurdly complicated and involving things to do instead of paying attention in class. She tries to ignore him, but keeps getting caught up in his antics. Pretty much like watching the anime. (Which is not a bad thing.)

What do you think you'll read next?

I should probably devote the time I'd normally spend reading on RW for the next few weeks. (no Dear Author letter yet, only prompt in the signup is a brief one for a fandom I'm not familiar with. Insert panicky Megan.)

(no subject)

Mar. 24th, 2015 06:57 pm
skygiants: Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist looking down at Marcoh (mercy of the fallen)
[personal profile] skygiants
I already enjoyed Stranger, the first book in Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith's Change series, but I think Hostage, the next book, is even better -- and this even despite the fact that my favorite character Terrible Mean Girl Felicite does not have a POV in this one. I'm sorry, Terrible Mean Girl Felicite! I still love you and am rooting for your self-knowledge and redemption arc in a future book!

Hostage is admittedly starting with an advantage out of the gate. Stranger has to take its time introducing both Ross and the reader to the post-apocalyptic world of Las Anclas, so the action doesn't kick in until about halfway through the book; Hostage ratchets up the tension pretty much from the second or third chapter, when Ross gets kidnapped and carried off to the town of Gold Point, ruled by megalomaniac dictator Voske. So almost immediately you have Ross' attempts to escape, and Voske's attempts to coerce or manipulate him, the attempts by the townsfolk to rescue him, and then the counteracting viewpoint of Voske's daughter Kerry who has a vested interest in exactly the opposite of everything that our other protagonists want, and everything is extremely compelling!

Aside from the pacing, though, I really appreciate the way that Hostage works to further some of the stuff I liked best in Stranger; the series is really committed to showing the complexity that underlies antagonism, and avoiding portrayals of absolute evil. Voske comes closest, but even he's not cartoonish -- and while the way he runs his dictatorship is clearly wrong, and should not be supported, it's a wrong that still allows for most people to have things about their life and community and home that they value. As many dictatorships do. I mean, let's be real; I'm pretty sure everyone reading this post knows what it's like to live under a government that sometimes does terrible things. The point of the hostage exchange in Hostage is that it forces the kids in question to interact with their enemies as human beings, and really shows what that means. But it also forces them to take responsibility for the actions of their community, and shows what that means, too. Which is both a responsible way to write and makes for a really good story.

(Meanwhile, though I missed Felicite's POV, I also continue to love the portrayal of the Wolfe-Preston family in the background -- still antagonists, still kind of terrible, and still just as complicated and committed to their community as always. SO INTERESTING! And I hope someone writes fanfic about the gloriously angsty and super background Bounty Hunter Dude/Sheriff Crow romance. SO FULL OF TROPES I'M INTO, SO HILARIOUSLY 90% OFFSCREEN BECAUSE THE KIDS ARE JUST LIKE 'EW, WE DON'T WANT TO KNOW.')

icons: Gran Hotel/Grand Hotel

Mar. 21st, 2015 06:23 pm
meganbmoore: (jodhaa akbar: courtship)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 120 x Gran Hotel/Grand Hotel (season 1)

gran-hotel-96  gran-hotel-64 gran-hotel-71

here )

(no subject)

Mar. 21st, 2015 05:50 pm
skygiants: Jane Eyre from Paula Rego's illustrations, facing out into darkness (more than courage)
[personal profile] skygiants
In winter of 2012, I rewatched Fiddler on the Roof for the first time as an adult and got unexpectedly emotional. In winter of 2014, I read the original short stories by Sholem Aleichem that Fiddler on the Roof was based on and got unexpectedly emotional.

This endless winter, I read Alisa Solomon's Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof, a NONFICTION BOOK ABOUT THE PRODUCTION OF A BROADWAY MUSICAL, which I figured should be pretty safe, right? NO, ACTUALLY. IN FACT, it turned out to be the most unexpectedly emotionally affecting thing of all? OK. THANKS, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.

OK, actually, though, when I say that Wonder of Wonders is about Fiddler on the Roof, that is true; it is about Fiddler on the the Roof, which means that it's about the history of what it means to be Jewish in America -- and also what it means to be Jewish in places that aren't America -- and also what it means to see representations of Jewishness in places that used to have Jews, but don't anymore -- and what it means for someone to see themselves in a story, for someone to use a story to rediscover pieces of themselves they've lost, or didn't know they'd ever had -- and then, conversely, what it means when a single story comes to be identified so strongly with a certain piece of history that people forget that it's a story, and not the truth; that the "Bottle Dance" is actually Jerome Robbins choreography; that "Sabbath Prayer" is a Broadway song, and not an actual prayer.

Alisa Solomon starts, as you would expect, with Sholem Aleichem and the Yiddish theater (old friends to me by now!), and then moves to the 1960s and the collection of extremely assimilated second-generation Jewish dudes, who somehow came to the decision to transform a bunch of Yiddish-language stories into a mainstream Broadway musical because they thought it would be kind of cool, and then found themselves forced to terms with a heritage they had either wandered away from or actively shoved away.

I was expecting the stories of wacky Broadway hijinks, of obsessive directors and grueling rehearsals and conflict between blacklisted Zero Mostel and friendly HUAC witness Jerome Robbins. All of which I got! Along with extremely solid critical analysis of the ways that the show transformed Judaism into something friendly and digestible for American (and American Jewish) audiences, something that "handed over a legacy that could be fondly claimed without exacting any demands." (Do I feel like I resemble some of those remarks? YEP, SOMETIMES.)

I wasn't actually expecting the stories like the one about how at the end of the show, the book-writer gave the lyricist a mezuzah -- the first one that he ever owned. Stories like the ones about Jerome Robbins -- Mr. "I didn't want to be like my father, the Jew, or any of his friends, those Jews;" Mr. "Wash yourself clean of it -- bathe & scrub; change your clothes, cut your hair, alter your walk, your talk, your handwriting, recast your future, remold your life, your friends, your taste ... leave behind forever the Jew part" -- Jerome Robbins, who dedicated the show to his immigrant father. Jerome Robbins whose father came backstage after the opening night, asked 'How did you know all that?' and "threw his arms around his son and wept."

I'M SORRY, OK, I'M NOT MADE OF STONE.

Now, at this point I'm having a lot of feelings about Jerome Robbins and I've already gotten a lot from the book, but, like, Solomon has gotten us to the point of the show getting on Broadway and I figured we'd talk a little bit about the movie and we'd be done?

We were not done. The chapters about the follow-up productions about Fiddler are in some ways harder-hitting than the section on the creation of the musical itself. Solomon starts with the first Israeli production, in a macho 1960s Israel that had for years been attempting to distance itself from the idea of the sad little weak victimized Jew of the shtetl and the Holocaust. From there, she jumps (in what is maybe her most hard-hitting chapter) to 1968 and a highly publicized high school production -- highly publicized, because it was performed by black and Puerto Rican students at a Brownsville school, in the middle of the ugly and incendiary 1968 Brownsville teacher's strike that was being framed by everyone involved as "blacks vs. Jews!" And after that (with a brief stopover to talk about the movie) she moves to a recent production in Poland, performed in a village that -- before the Holocaust -- was 50% Jewish.

Solomon is neither sentimental nor nostalgic about Fiddler. She's writing about the ways that this particular image of Jewish identity has been retold, recreated and reformed for various audiences and various moments, and she does so clearly and critically. Academically, historically, it's all fascinating. I think it would be fascinating for anyone. But it's about my culture, and in a very real way it's about me, so, you know, there's a lot that I wasn't reading academically.

I certainly don't agree with Solomon all the time, especially at the very end, when she makes some sweeping statements about contemporary Jewishness that are maybe true for New York Jews but I think are A STRETCH AT MINIMUM to apply to Jews in America overall. That doesn't mean I don't think she's brilliant, because I do; and it doesn't mean I'm not also a little upset to have been ambushed by all these feelings about my identity as an American Jew and all of the history that's gone into making me the kind of Jew I am right now, because that is definitely also true.

Empire 1.11-1.12

Mar. 19th, 2015 09:28 pm
meganbmoore: (kajol)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
So, the Empire season finale happened. Not really unpredictable, in that a lot of it was things fans hoped for/theorized about a lot, but still quite a ride.

Nonspoilery:

The purple lipstick was strong this week.

spoilery )

I also watched the pilot of CW's iZombie and enjoyed it. it's getting a lot of Veronica Mars comparisons, and...well, yeah, pretty much the only way to make it more literally "zombie!Veronica Mars" would be to replace Rose McIver with Kristen Bell and put the characters in hight school.

(no subject)

Mar. 16th, 2015 12:50 pm
skygiants: Kyoko from Skip Beat! making a mad flaily dive (oh flaily flaily)
[personal profile] skygiants
Over the past two weeks, I have been on - I think eight different airplanes? THINGS HAVE BEEN HECTIC. The most dramatic event was last week's family-plus-[personal profile] genarti trip to Jamaica, the departure date of which unfortunately happened to fall on a day that the entire East Coast was due to be out of commission due to a major snowstorm. I managed to reschedule our flights the day before so that we would leave 7:30 that night instead of the following morning. Of course at this point I had not yet packed.

ME: It's fine! I'm a quick packer, and home is only 15 minutes away from the office! I'll run home after work, do a quick packing job, and be ready to go!
THE UNIVERSE: Hahahahaha you think it's going to be SO EASY, do you?

So of course when I got home at 4:30 it turned out I had lost my keys and could not get into the house.

An hour later -- after a panicked call to my roommate, who valiantly battled her way through the city at rush hour to come to my rescue -- I finally managed to run into the house, throw everything into a backpack, and flee to the airport. We got there! WE DID IN FACT GET THERE.

However what I didn't have time to do until our layover was put any books on my Kindle, so instead I comfort-reread some of the Courtney Milan Brothers Sinister books that I liked best from last year and as it happens never wrote up. WHICH I WILL DO NOW.

The books I reread were The Heiress Effect and The Suffragette Scandal. The Duchess Affair is the one about Jane Fairfield, the heiress who turns her own tactlessness and amazingly terrible taste into a POINTED WEAPON to stop ANYONE from trying to marry her EVER, so that she can instead stay home and act as a buffer between her sister and all the terrible doctors her guardian keeps engaging to try and cure her sister's epilepsy. Unsurprisingly, I think she is amazing. The romance is between her and a rising politician who is struggling up from a low-class background, and the conflict is because he thinks he needs a quiet political wife and Jane decides she likes being tactless in terrible clothes and does not want to squash back down into appropriateness. Oliver the politician is fine but less interesting. He is also less interesting than the sweet but too-short B-plot romance between Jane's sister and an Indian law student with complicated feelings about colonialism, but I am still glad that we got the B-plot romance at all.

The Suffragette Scandal is the one about Oliver's sister Free, who runs a feminist newspaper that is being targeted by an EVIL DUKE who has a CRIMINAL BROTHER who was LEFT FOR DEAD and then CAUGHT IN A WAR ZONE and TORTURED and FORCED TO BETRAY HIS FRIENDS and is now full of PETTY CRIME AND PTSD. Yes, he is the love interest, how did you guess? I mean, he's not boring! And Free, whose life story borrows liberally from Nellie Bly, is pretty amazing. I do constantly appreciate Courtney Milan's dedication to giving her heroines interesting and unusual fears and traumas, and "still haunted by that time she checked herself into a prostitute's lock-up for the big scoop!" ranks high on the list. It has the same problem that The Duchess War did for me, with a third-act betrayal that I feel was probably not narratively necessary, but is highly enjoyable nonetheless. Also: the B-plot in this one has lesbians! (A-plot with lesbians, MAYBE SOMEDAY, we live in hope.)

The one I did not reread: The Countess Conspiracy, the one about the secret science genius who discovers heredity and the dude she pays to publish her work for her. Given givens, I should have really liked this one, and it didn't actually work for me very well, but I read it long enough ago that I can't really remember much about why? This is not a very helpful review.

(I also did not reread Talk Sweetly To Me, the concluding novella with a black mathematician heroine, but that's mostly because by that point I could actually download all the books I had meant to put on my Kindle for vacation to begin with. I did like it though! Again, largely for the heroine and her family, I don't remember terribly much about the love interest. But that's OK.)

(no subject)

Mar. 16th, 2015 12:27 am
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
Tonight's code push is now complete! As always, please report any issues here.

(We're particularly interested in issues with HTTPS browsing; we're getting closer to ironing out all the bugs, but we know it's still not perfect.)

EDIT: If you're not getting the inline reply form -- if you're getting redirected to another page to comment -- please clear your cache and then restart your browser.

PLEASE NOTE: If you're coming to report an entry in your journal not displaying properly, and there's a <table> in the entry (or you're reporting a problem with your journal displaying properly and there's an entry with a <table> somewhere visible on the page): please check the entry's source and make sure the HTML of the table is constructed properly. We've made a change to our HTML cleaner to be more strict about missing tags and tags that were closed in a different order than they were opened. Most of the display problems people have reported have been because a table in an entry was missing closing </td>/</tr>tags!

Rarely Written Dear Author Letter

Mar. 15th, 2015 10:08 pm
meganbmoore: (levy writes)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
These are fairly short prompts, as they're mostly fairly "anything goes". With the exception of The Musketeers I have a fairly detailed writeup for the fandom in my tags.

prompts )

(no subject)

Mar. 15th, 2015 08:46 am
skygiants: Ben Sisko with hands folded and goatee (diplomacy!)
[personal profile] skygiants
And now we're done with Season Five of Deep Space Nine and I'm still reeling a little bit from how good the ending of the season actually was; I wasn't expecting any of that!

Episodes 17-26 of Season Five, under the cut )
fu: Close-up of Fu, bringing a scoop of water to her mouth (Default)
[staff profile] fu posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
FYI -- We're scheduling a code push for Sunday 9PM PDT / Monday 12AM EDT / 4AM GMT.

Should be fun! We'll have another post up when we're about to start.

icons: Tonari no Seki-kun

Mar. 13th, 2015 09:27 pm
meganbmoore: (tnkk: get off me i'm reading)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
114 x Tonari no Seki-kun

tnsk 22 tnsk-104 tnsk 58

here )

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