Madam Secretary 1.4-1.9

Nov. 21st, 2014 09:28 pm
meganbmoore: (alice)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
spoilers )


I'm also current on Jane the Virgin, Happyland, The 100, Sleepy Hollow, State of Affairs and How to Get Away With Murder, but don't feel up to writing them up right now.  Feel free to ask me any questions about my thoughts on whatever in comments.  (Ok, i've gone on EXTENSIVELY about one thing in The 100 on twitter, but sometimes you have to get ranting out of your system.)

owning up

Nov. 21st, 2014 07:59 pm
inkstone: Michiko e Hatchin's Michiko from the opening credits (looking cool)
[personal profile] inkstone
Due to my massive writing binge during the summer and fall, I picked up some bad eating habits & stopped moving my body. Bad me, bad me. And I can definitely feel it in my body -- it's sluggish and stiff and slow and kinda bleargh.

So I'm going to start recording what I eat and my exercise here. I'll tag everything and put it behind a cut so you can scroll by, if you need to.

Since it's been several months of bad habits, I'm going to ease into it. I'm going to finish eating the packed food I have in the fridge and start off with the easy (for me) yoga DVD (Dance the Chakras), and then start in earnest on December 1.

(no subject)

Nov. 21st, 2014 08:20 am
skygiants: (wife of bath)
[personal profile] skygiants
Last catch-up Gothic post! I forgot to write up Barbara Michaels' Shattered Silk when I read it because it got overshadowed by Someone in the House and the MYSTERY OF KEVIN'S INVISIBLE SEX, but Shattered Silk is ALSO great, even though it's like the least Gothic Gothic ever to Gothic.

It is however deeply relevant to my interests because the protagonist is a woman who decides to restart her life after an emotionally stifling marriage ... by teaming up with her love interest's sister to open a vintage clothes shop in DC!

I mean this is a plot I would read with or without the Gothic thriller elements, which is good because for the first 3/4 of the book is not so interested in the art of suspense and SIGNIFICANTLY MORE interested in the art of restoring and reselling historical fashions.

EMILY: This dress I found has some weird marks on it! Almost like it was ... ripped with a knife!
KAREN: Ah yes! Interesting factoid: that's just what happens to silk when it ages! No knives were involved at all, but here are some tips for how to prevent it happening again! :)

EMILY: I think this wedding dress has a bloodstain on it!
KAREN: Huh! Well I think I found some techniques for getting blood out of dresses, it'll be fun to experiment with them! We can still make a profit! :)

EMILY: Do we think that mysterious and cranky old woman might have murdered her husband in her youth?
KAREN: I'm more concerned about the fact that she keeps trying to sell us boxes of damaged items with no resale value. >:(

Eventually people start to sinisterly break into Karen's house, making Karen's love interest and his friend Tony the Hot Mustachioed Cop quite concerned, and Those Mean Girls From College turn up to be Mean to Karen in a way that ends up significant, and I think someone gets murdered? And one dress actually does turn out to have a significant bloodstain after all, OK, fine. But mostly: Vintage clothes! Auction sales! Growing self-esteem through productivity and competence in a chosen field! Sleepovers with your new bestie! HISTORICAL FASHIONS, AREN'T THEY AWESOME, LET'S JUST ALL NERD OUT, please don't let the dog put his muddy paws on the antique white nightgown, NO STOP.

(no subject)

Nov. 19th, 2014 09:46 pm
meganbmoore: (Default)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 Has anyone who uses Android upgraded to Android 5.0 yet?  Is it a good upgrade?

(I ask primarily because for a couple weeks after the last upgrade, my Nexus's power drained a lot faster than it had before, but that did eventually stop.)

(no subject)

Nov. 19th, 2014 07:35 am
skygiants: Jane Eyre from Paula Rego's illustrations, facing out into darkness (more than courage)
[personal profile] skygiants
Speaking of Gothics, Lydia Joyce is a Gothic/historical romance author who writes books set in Victorian England which are ALL BASICALLY TITLED the same thing. I have read ... two of them...? Their titles both end in 'night...'? (THERE IS TOTALLY ONE CALLED 'MUSIC OF THE NIGHT' AND I FEEL I HAVE TO READ IT.)

OK, research indicates that the first one I read and the one that was the most fun was Voices of the Night, which is about a poor wannabe opera singer on the run from the Victorian mob and a rich dude who is trying to My Fair Lady her for a bet and is really disgruntled when his whole plot keeps getting derailed by the TARGETED BY THE MOB thing.

My favorite thing about this book is that there's, like, maybe two chapters' worth of pretense that the hero has a level of backstory angst that can even compare to the heroine's before both he and the author just give up completely.

CHARLES: My dad was a jerk who never loved me and had affairs!
MAGGIE: That's nice. I didn't have parents. Or a house. Or meals.
CHARLES: I'm cold and untrusting and emotionally closed off!
MAGGIE: I literally killed a guy.
CHARLES: ...
MAGGIE: ...
CHARLES: ...
MAGGIE: So are you going to help me protect my plucky street orphan family from the mob or what?
CHARLES: ....yeah OK

Maggie is great and plucky street orphan family are great; it seems tragically rare to get lots of characters in this kind of book who are actually lower-class (and not secret nobility/royalty in disguise). Of course it's a historical romance so they have to get married at the end, which I was actually kind of sad about because Maggie makes a really good case all through for why they shouldn't get married and how annoying it would be for her to live a lie for the rest of her life, and I do not feel her legitimate issues were adequately addressed. They didn't have to get married! She could've been an opera singer!

Shadows of the Night meanwhile is not as much fun but is sort of more interesting in premise -- it starts out with demure protagonist Fern getting married, and then coming to a belated, depressing realization that VICTORIAN MARRIAGE IS THE WORST and she has just relinquished all control of her life AND THAT'S HORRIFYING.

Meanwhile, her new husband, Colin, is not, like, that terrible, I guess, as Victorian husbands go (I mean. he's pretty solidly terrible) but super bored and doesn't understand why this marriage thing seems more difficult than it should be, and why his wife seems faintly resentful all the time.

So they kind of fake smile at each other for the first chapter or so and have a horrible honeymoon and a horrible wedding night (well, Colin thinks it's boring but fine; Fern, again, is viscerally creeped out and unhappy about the power dynamics inherent in the system) and eventually things build to a head and Fern smacks Colin in the face, and Colin's like !!! ... well that wasn't boring? ...I kind of liked it ...?? ... do it again maybe? and Fern is just like WELL THANK GOD PUNCHING YOU IN THE FACE IS SOMETHING I CAN HAVE CONTROL OVER AT LAST.

So then they run off to a big Gothic house in the country to sort out their marriage and have a whole plotline with secret history and attempted murder, which is all fine but distracts a little bit from the heart of the book, which is this exploration of the subtle horror that are the expected power dynamics of a Victorian marriage and whether there's any way within the system to rectify that and make it bearable.

And I mean, of course this is a romance novel, so of course they do, and having them become mystery-solving buddies through their Gothic travails -- while a fun plot in and of itself! -- allows the book to kind of cheat out on the question. ( I mean, I guess the Victorian marriage is the subtextual horror at the heart of the Gothic genre anyway, so maybe if you take it out and make it the actual, textual horror, the rest of the Gothic plot can't help but distract.) But man, I'm still kind of impressed the question was explicitly asked.

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Nov. 18th, 2014 11:55 pm
meganbmoore: (ever after: books)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
This was a somewhat awkward book, primarily because it's the book that marks the end of part one of the series, and also because it's the book that marks the series switching over to hardcover format. There's a character list at the beginning and a narrative prologue in the form of (IIRC) Barabas writing a journal entry to catch people up, but the book is burdened down not only by having to wrap up most of the plots that were building up to this point, but also having to explain what's going on to people who picked it up in hardcover but hadn't read the previous ones. So it's good, but awkward and/or clunky in places.

spoilers )

For a bit of amusement, I was looking at Amazon reviews earlier and there was a reviewer very put out because she hadn't know Andrews was a husband/wife team and declared it "subterfuge" because it hadn't been spelled out in previous books. Except that it was officially declared after...what, the third book? And has been part of the author bio everywhere (including Amazon) since then. And it wasn't exactly a secret before then, it just wasn't official.

And I get not knowing if you don't go to author websites and blogs and online review sited and haven't read other reviews (because quite a
few have mentioned it over the years). I mean, it's a bit of a stretch for me, but, I mean, SUBTERFUGE. I wonder if they get put out every time they learn an author's name is a penname, and not the author's real one. (And if they realize how many authors have written under more than one name, and how many pennames are for collaborations.)

(no subject)

Nov. 16th, 2014 11:49 pm
meganbmoore: (flight rising)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
These are dragons that I'm giving to friends in tomorrow's registration window for Flight Rising. They're all currently for sale on the site, but I'll take them down as soon as someone expresses interest. If you see more than one that you like, I'll most likely post what's left to [community profile] flight_rising Tuesday or Wednesday, and you can ask again there.

(Shoud such things sway you, most of these dragons are the offspring of characters named for Studio Ghibli, Clamp, Skip-Beat!, Angel Sanctuary and Samurai Deeper Kyo characters.)

here )

(no subject)

Nov. 16th, 2014 06:01 pm
meganbmoore: (woee: wendy + candles)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 I just finished watching season 2 of Witches of East End and I really love that show (despite the fact that literally everything about it when it comes to race makes me want to bash my face into the keyboard) however...


exceptionally annoyed spoiler )

And then I went to see when season 3 was going to start, only to learn that it was cancelled.  Off to be sad now, as opposed to posting actual thoughts.  (But for those who were still watching, feel free to comment about anything in the show that you want my opinions on.)

Big Hero 6

Nov. 16th, 2014 04:07 pm
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
[personal profile] oyceter
I feel with this, Frozen, and Wreck-It Ralph, Disney is really entering another golden age (I know, all the critics say that...), which makes me happy despite all my issues with Disney because Disney is so much of my childhood. I was afraid Big Hero 6 was going to be too pop-culture-referencing and wink-wink-nudge-nudge, as well as being afraid that the main character would annoy me (that's my biggest issue with How to Train Your Dragon) and that the blend of San Francisco and Tokyo would feel pasted on and Orientalist. Instead, it's a really good movie that made me cry more than once, has some great relationships, and did what I thought was a pretty impressive job of balancing gender roles and portrayals as well as having POC representation.

(That said, Disney, I will be so happy if you make your next geek-oriented movie with a female lead!)

Also, the marketing department did a really good job with the trailer; I think it only goes into the first half hour of the movie and doesn't let on to some pretty big things while keeping the overall tone of the movie.

What most impressed me about the trailer was how the first ten or fifteen minutes of the movie completely recontextualizes a lot of the scenes, so even if you've seen them a lot, there's more there when you see them again in the movie. As I mentioned, I was worried I would be annoyed at Hiro, and I kind of was... and then they introduced another character that helped a lot. Then when something happens and Hiro gets acquainted with Baymax the robot, it adds a new emotional layer to all the boy-plus-robot scenes from the trailer. Also, Baymax is hilarious and adorable, as the best companion robots seem to be. (Are there any girl-and-robot stories that mix coming of age with teaching your robot how to be more human or something? Boy-and-robot seems to be a distinct subgenre, with this, The Iron Giant, Terminator 2, and probably more I can't think of right now.)

Cultural appropriation, gender, and other considerations )

I am talking a lot about the more political aspects of the movie and not focusing on just how fun the movie is, I think partly because so much of it is in the background and not that noticeable if you aren't looking for it. I thought this was a really great example of how to have diverse characters and places and make it feel organic and not the central issue of the story, and it's what I would love to see more of, especially in genre stuff.

A lot of the reviews I've read were tired of the whole superhero thing, but I did not realize it was a superhero movie going in (I had it more pegged as an Iron Giant thing), so when Hiro starts seeing everyone as a superhero team, it totally cracked me up. Because if you are a boy with a giant robot and a 3D printer, why not?

And finally, I LOVED how the entire movie was a celebration of engineering and science and making things; one of my favorite parts is Tadashi showing Hiro his "nerd school" and how clearly he loves it. I feel I should say so much more about this, because it was a huge part of why I loved the movie so much (that, and the Tadashi-Hiro relationship) and I've spent so many words on the background stuff. Except I don't really have anything outside of how much I love it and how much they made an effort to show that the whole maker culture thing isn't solely a white guy thing.

On a completely random note, I'm amused by the Disney-Pixar-Marvel mashup so that the movie has the now-famous animation short a la Pixar and the post-credits scene a la Marvel.

The Good, The Bad, and The Good again

Nov. 13th, 2014 02:11 pm
meganbmoore: (emilia: eat your brains)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 1.  Flight Rising is having another registration window next Monday.  Which seems to be very close to the last one, given how long the wait was between the window I enrolled under, and the last one.  Once again, if you join (and you should) I will give you a dragon and STUFF.  And be available to you for questions.

2.  Two of my shows in as many weeks have had a woman who is a main character falsely accuse a man of assault to further her own ends.  Because, I mean, we don't have enough problems with society and the law judging and condemning abused women as it is without acclaimed media actively enforcing the idea that women fake assault charges.

If you don't know which shows I'm talking about, I can tell you in comments.

3.  Neither show, though was The 100, which I binged on last week and really like, despite a lukewarm start.  I should blather at you about it, except that I have an episode to watch as soon as I post this...

And now for something else

Nov. 13th, 2014 09:15 am
inkstone: Air Gear's Ringo pulling down her glasses (you can count on me!)
[personal profile] inkstone
Wow, thanks! Everyone's so helpful and candid. I really appreciate it. ♥

Today, I am asking for suggestions.

You know those genderflipped SFF covers that Jim Hines did? Remember this group one?

I need suggestions for a SFF cover that could receive similar treatment as that group one. Roughly the same gender ratio.

:D

(no subject)

Nov. 13th, 2014 08:13 am
skygiants: C-ko the shadow girl from Revolutionary Girl Utena in prince drag (someday my prince will come)
[personal profile] skygiants
I really enjoyed Unspoken when it came out, so I waited until the trilogy was finished in order to zoom through a reread/first read of Untold and Unmade.

To recap, the premise: Sorry-in-the-Vale is a peaceful English town with a DARK SECRET! The Lynburns are the deeply dysfunctional local gentry who've just popped back in after twenty years abroad, possibly with SINISTER MAGIC POWERS, MURDEROUS IMPULSES and DESIRES TO RULE! Kami is the plucky teenaged journalist who is determined to EXPOSE ALL, mildly hampered by an inconvenient psychic soulbond to the youngest and most dysfunctional Lynburn! It's Sarah Rees Brennan, so everything is very quippy interspersed with periods of extremely intense emotion!

You probably know already if this is the sort of thing you like. In addition to a devotion to quips and a high level of joy in lampshading EXTREME GOTHIC TROPES, here are some other things that I like about the series:

- Kami has parents and a family, and increasingly they are involved and do things! (Kami's dad is wonderful and I have a deep emotional attachment to him. I do feel sort of bad for Kami's mom because while I appreciate her storyline I think she is literally the only person in the books who never gets to make a single clever quip. Sorry, Kami's mom!)
- families in general! lots of people having emotional arcs to do with weird complicated families that are nonetheless there for each other in important ways, mostly
- Kami's angry friend Angela whose anger is wonderful to me wonderful
- Kami's less angry friend Holly whose emotional self-confidence arc is wonderful to me
- and Kami herself, who is a nonstop bundle of terrifying energy and whom I love!
- generally a sense that the story takes place in a community where people know each other, and various people are affected by the EVIL GOINGS-ON! in different ways, and all of those people are important, not just the protagonists
- the B-plot romance is lesbians!

There is also a lot of complex love polygon soulbond-festooned relationship drama, which teetered frequently on the verge of being too much for me but usually managed to pull back into something non-annoying just in time. Slightly spoilery thoughts on this )

Also a lot of people die! I will admit I was not expecting quite so many people to die and was effectively sad about their deaths. Depending on who you are, this may be a bug or a feature. More spoilers )

(no subject)

Nov. 12th, 2014 08:42 pm
meganbmoore: (Default)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
What are you currently reading

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

What did you recently finish reading?

The Foundling, and Other Tales of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Several short stories set in the world of the Chronicles of Prydain, but before the main series. Mostly backstories about characters in the series and stories that were told during it, all pretty enjoyable. My favorite was the story about Eilonwy's mother.

The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal. The fourth Maggie Hope mystery, and one with a title which only relates to about the last 50 or so pages of the book. Centered around the days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, this one was a bit odd. MacNeal's audience is primarily American, as far as I know, so Pearl Harbor takes a fair bit of narrative priority in this one. The mystery that Maggie is involved in is almost perfunctory (I would have rather spent the time dealing with her PTSD after the previous book, and her Baby Spies seeing her as a demonic taskmaster) and most of the rest is setting things up for future installments, which look to be changing things up some. Not a bad or disappointing book, but a bit different from what I was expecting.

X-Men: Battle of the Atom. It's been long enough since I read a superhero crossover event that I had forgotten how inconsistent characterization and costuming can be with them. Errr...I was mostly confused by this. If I were caught up with X-stuff in general, I think I would have been into it, but as it is, I was mostly left with irritation at "Jubilee will grow up to be just like Woverine! But angrier and shriekier and irrational. I mean, she is a girl."

X-Men: Muertas by Brian Wood and Terry Dodson. I followed this one more easily than I did Primer and Battle of the Atom, mostly because most of the events were directly related to events in those two volumes, though I have no idea where Rogue went off too. I'm glad there was a mini Gen-X reunion this quickly into my dipping my toes back into superhero comics after years away, but wish there had been more Jubilee/Monet interaction.

Toradora vol 1-4 by Yuyuko Takemiya. Romantic comedy light novel series about a boy who looks like a scary gangster but is actually a sweet and harmless pacifist addicted to cleaning, and a tiny cute girl who's actually extremely rude and violent. They have crushes on the other's respective best friend, and join forces to help the other out. What I've read is entertaining and usually cute, but I don't see myself reading another 6 books about it, especially since it's starting to veer into fanservice territory and having an increasing "cute and helpless" aspect to the heroine ,despite her forceful personality. I do think I'll watch the anime, though.

Coffin Hill Vol 1 by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda. Eve Coffin is a police officer who returns to her hometown after being shot and leaving the force. The catch is that Eve comes from a long line of dark witches, and a monster she let loose as a teenager is back and abducting teenagers in the woods. I thought it was a minseries when I picked it up an the library, but it's an ongiong series. It's a bit bloody for my taste, but I like Eve and the mythology, and am interested in seeing what happens next.

Ao Haru Ride/Blue Spring Ride Vo l1-4 by Io Sakisaka. Enjoyable but sometimes frustrating shoujo who meets her junior high crush in high school, only to find him with an entirely different personality. for the most part, it's very enjoyable with lots of friendshipping with Futaba (the heroine) and the other girls who join her in the student council. The romance is...also enjoyable, but also irritating. A lot of it is sustained by "something is about to happen, but isn't yet" and Futaba's love interest, Kou, is prone to "standoffish shoujo jerk moments. He's far from the worst about that, but a bit of a disappointment after Ren from Strobe Edge, who was really refreshing in that regard, and there's at least one time when his treatment of Futaba made me angry. I've heard some things about future volumes that make me leery, but I've enjoyed it so far, so I'm sticking with it. The anime adapts the first 4 volumes of the manga, minus the last chapter of volume 4, and is extremely faithful. The OAD is about Kou and Futaba's quasi-relationship in junior high, but only the last few minutes has anything significant that wasn't covered in flashbacks in the main anime/manga.

Barakamon Vol 1-2 by Satsuki Yoshino. Handa Seishu is a young calligrapher who gets exiled to an island by his father after he punches the curator of an exhibition for saying Seishu's work is boring. On the island, he constantly gets caught up in the goings on of the locals, particularly the local children and teenagers, when he's supposed to be working on making his calligraphy not-boring. And learning how to not punch old men for offering criticism. He very quickly becomes that guy who sits down to work after lunch and goes out to get a toy out of a tree so the local kids will stop yelling, and then suddenly it's getting dark and he didn't notice because the kids kept him that busy. The main local he interacts with is Naru, a 7 year old girl, and one of the children who used Seishu's house as a hangout while it was abandoned. (The youths collectively decide that occupation is no deterrent.) I find it a sad commentary on a lot of anime that there was zero sexualization of of a young girl being overly attached to the much older male protagonist. It's a very entertaining series. The first 5 or so episodes follow the first two volumes of the manga pretty faithfully, though some events are moved around a bit, based on my recollection of early anime episodes, and a few scenes didn't get animated.

And I think that's everything that i haven't posted on separately since I last did this.

What do you think you'll read next?.

The rest of Magic Breaks, probably start reading Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun.

Continuum: Season 3

Nov. 11th, 2014 08:14 pm
meganbmoore: (continuum: gun display)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
Well, that didn't go where I was hoping it would, but I mostly enjoyed this season.
spoilers )

Hey all, what's up?

Nov. 11th, 2014 03:59 pm
inkstone: chibi!Ace & chibi!Luffy from One Piece (better days)
[personal profile] inkstone
1. December's coming up, and I see that talk meme making its rounds again. I really enjoyed doing that last year, but this year I think I'll do something different. I'm going to talk about books, anime & manga! Maybe those things themselves or characters I like in them! And why! Or maybe there's this aspect that super frustrates me. And why. A different title, character, or aspect every day.

If there's a particular series, character, whatever you want me to chat about, drop a comment!

2. So I'm starting a new novel. Another thriller. I'm in the planning stages and, well, I keep coming around to this point and need help.

My protagonist has anxiety disorder. Looking at the initial notes I made over the summer, this wasn't something I planned but now that I'm fitting the pieces together in preparation to write, this keeps popping out at me. And it fits.

I've done some basic research, of course, but that's... er, rather clinical and won't cut it with my style of writing. And the available information doesn't really go into the experience of daily life with anxiety disorder. While bipolar disorder is a common thing in novels (and I have many thoughts about the way it's used in YA fiction), I don't run across anxiety disorders as often and when I do, it tends to be -- how to put this -- the more extreme versions (hyperventilating panic attacks, vomiting blood) and often for plot convenience or dramatic effect. I'm not saying these symptoms don't happen, and I'm not saying they don't happen at dramatic times either, but I want the "mundane," less dramatic experience of a daily life. Because, to me, that's the reality of a person and will help me write from the POV of my heroine. It's her experience and colors her outlook, right?

Anyway, if anyone would be willing to field some questions from me, I'd really appreciate it. Especially if you come from an Asian cultural heritage. And if you do, you'll know why I'm asking for that specific distinction in relation to a mental disorder.

ETA: OMG, so many volunteers, thank you so much! ♥ I'll still take volunteers from an Asian cultural background, though.

3. Hope you're all well! ♥

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