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Fandom Snowflake Challenge banner
Day 03
In your own space, set some goals for the coming year. They can be fannish or not, public or private. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.

For this one, I went back and compared my responses to this challenge from last year to see what I had and hadn't accomplished because, for the most part, they've remained the same. So:

  1. Get at least 2 more fanworks done than I did last year. Including the TARDIS blanket I knit for a friend's baby (pics incoming) I managed...one more than I did the previous year. So 50% of the way to the goal? And with an eye to that... [Edit: I forgot to include the dice bag I knit last year. So I did meet my goal!]

  2. Sign up for more writing challenges. I'm more likely to get something done if I have a deadline to feel guilty about, honestly.

  3. Write more original fiction - and finish it! I actually did write a fair bit last year, including coming in ~3K words shy of the goal in NaNo. TBH, it's probably because I got a smartphone in the fall and can now write stuff wherever I please and without having to balance a pen and notebook. So, yeah, an incredible piece of technology that the past could only dream about and I'm using it as a word processor. Um, sorry futurists of days past?

  4. Find a better job. I'm stuck at a call centre and we hates it precious! We hates it forever!

  5. Add my SPN fic to A03. I've been meaning to for years but I always forget it. Now, I've publicly set it as a goal and will probably feel guilty if I don't do it.

  6. Finally get around to playing Mass Effect - I know, I know! But I tried to start with 1 and apparently I should have started with 2?

  7. Code a browser-based game using HTML, CSS, and Javascript, or at least plan it out. Ouf, that one's ambitious! But I'm working my way through Free Code Camp & I've signed up for #100DaysofCode so we'll see. I've got a year.

X-posted from LJ.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
Amazon doesn't show when it's due to be released, though Hambly's last blog post indicates it's already for sale in the UK so hopefully soon. Linky: https://www.amazon.com/Pale-Guardian-Vampire-Mystery-James/dp/0727886770
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
Fandom Snowflake Challenge bannerDay 2

In your own space, share a book/song/movie/tv show/fanwork/etc that changed your life. Something that impacted on your consciousness in a way that left its mark on your soul. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.

Star Trek. Definitely Star Trek (TOS) but there's one scene in particular that leaps to mind: in the episode Who Mourns for Adonais the communications console is down and Uhura has to rig a subspace bypass circuit to fix it. Not have it fixed, not call up an engineer to do it for her, but do it herself. And she does. By herself, without help, and without anyone trying to take it away from her or asking if she's tried *screamingly obvious thing* already and then insisting on trying it themselves before they believe it doesn't work. In fact, Spock compliments her - yes, Spock! It was probably the first time I'd seen a woman on television doing something with electronics/computers that wasn't typing - and not much of that because we're talking circa 1984 here, max. Uhura working with computers meant I could work with computers, no matter the social cues already saying they were 'boys only', although of course social pressure happened and life happened and I wasn't able to get into the IT field when I wanted to. But I can strip and rebuild a computer tower, upgrade parts, and troubleshoot most of my own problems and this past year I began to seriously learn to code with an eye towards freelance web development. All because of one character and one scene.

You can watch the scene in question here, time index 3:59.
hoursgoneby: (hourglass)
Oh, god, I honestly can't believe it's 2017 already. Thank whatever powers might exist that the clusterfuck of 2016 is over - and that's honestly all I want to say about the past year. Pretty sure most people agree with me.

But! Snowflake is back! :D This is honestly one of the highlights for the start of the year and I'm grateful to everyone who stepped up as a new mod because I really needed this. That's definitely not a criticism of [personal profile] akamine_chan and co-runners! I understand they've had a tough year, and I also get that if you don't have the spoons, you don't have the spoons and need to step back and engage in some self-care. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that and whoever tells you otherwise is lying. *hugs for you all*

Fandom Snowflake Challenge bannerDay 1

In your own space, post a rec for at least three fanworks that you have created. It can be your favorite fanworks that you've created, or fanworks you feel no one ever saw, or fanworks you say would define you as a creator. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.

I'm still pleased with The Longest Night, a LoTR fanfic I wrote in 2015 for the International Fanworks Day challenge over on [livejournal.com profile] lotr_community. It came in 2nd place in the Tree and Flower Awards 2015 for Favorite Story Featuring a New Author, which was a most pleasant surprise!

Honesty, an SPN fanfic that I really need to remember to post on A03, is one I think I include in this challenge every year but it's one of my favorites. It's a drabble based around Dean and Future!Cas' conversation in the truck during 'The End'. Future!Cas breaks my heart, he truly does.

Through the Gates, a Goblin Emperor fanfic written for [livejournal.com profile] smallfandomfest Round 19 and based on the prompt 'It's not quite love, but it's not just duty, either.' It's about Maia and Csethiro's developing relationship, because I wanted to see more of that, dammit!

Calling Frequency, a Dead Space fanfic also written for [livejournal.com profile] smallfandomfest Round 19 and based on the prompt 'Trapped on Tau Volantis after the events of Dead Space 3, an injured Carver has to rely on Isaac for help.'. This one was challenging because a) I've only played DS3 single-player and thus only really know Carver through cut scenes and b) it's mostly dialogue and I had a hard time remembering to include actions and descriptions and not wind up with something that read like, as How Not to Write a Novel says, two disembodied brains in a jar having a conversation. But I succeeded!

For the curious, previous versions of this challenge are at the following links: 2016, 2015, 2014.
Dec. 1st, 2016 10:58 am

NaNo 2016

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I tried for NaNoWriMo again this year and didn't quite make it to the 50,000-word goal. I came in 3,406 words short but that still leaves me with $46, 954 more words than I had at the start, and is much closer than last year's effort, which came in at about 10,000 words short. Also, this year's effort has more of a plot to it - I just need to figure out how the monster connects to the mystery door connects to the mine and how I'm going to sort out the socially imposed power imbalance between the leads and the demands of their respective professions to keep them together. Oh, and how the magic one character apparently has fits in - I write stream-of-consciousness and sometimes it makes for interesting results. The time I had to edit the line 'falafel would be good for lunch' out of a training doc on my editing pass particularly stands out.
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What I Just Finished Reading: Utopia, by Thomas More. Philosophy is not really my thing but I kind of get the impression it's a satire. (Granted, I'm 500 years away - literally, it was published in 1516 - from the target audience so I may be missing some things.) Or it could just be that it sounds too tightly regulated to me to be a paradise, but I'm told I have problems with authority. I found out that the title comes from two Greek words, ou and topos, that mean 'not' and 'place' respectively that just reinforces this. Utopia is not a thing humanity can achieve. (Frankly, I wouldn't want to live in it. Confess my sins to my husband monthly my ass, and that's just for starters.)

Radiance, by Catherynne M. Valente. Oh, I really enjoyed this one! It reads like something out of the golden age of SF, though more diverse and I'm glad to see it. It takes place in an alternate 1986 when talkies are a shiny new innovation and humanity has colonized the solar system. Moving back and forth between time periods, and using a variety of storytelling techniques, it tells the story of the mysterious disappearance of documentary filmmaker Severin Unck. The mystery is incredibly involving, and the world building is just amazing. I honestly want to tell you everything and nothing at the same time because it's so good and yet you should really go into it unspoiled.

Sadly, I no longer have my copy. It was a free download through the Tor book club and before I could do a backup [Edit: Radiance is one I bought, not downloaded through Tor, and I was able to get it back by syncing my Kobo library. Sorry, I was tired.] My ereader randomly reset itself back to factory settings. I woke up one morning, turned it on, and got the message that it was resetting. And swore. Happily, I was able to get all my books back save the Tor book club ones but since I wanted hard copies of Three Body Problem and Radiance anyway it's not too big a deal. I would have liked to finish the most recent one, from Elizabeth Bear, though.

Nor Iron Bars a Cage, by Kaje Harper, which can be downloaded for free: my link there goes to Smashwords but it's availabe on Amazon Kindle as well. Lyon was once a sorceror's apprentice but after the possession and death of his master, he became a hermit, rarely leaving his house and earning a living as a translator. Then, unexpectedly, his childhood friend Tobin appears, on a mission for the king and with a job for Lyon - one that means leaving the one place he feels secure.
With this one, I was worried that a) Tobin would be handle Lyon's past trauma in a typical romance-novel way (ie. healing cock), b) Lyon would end the novel completely over his PTSD (not how it works), and c) Lyon's disabled right hand would also be magically healed.

Fortunately, while Tobin insists that Lyon comes with him (not that either of them has any other option, it is a command from the king) he's still careful, considerate, and patient and makes sure he knows Lyon's boundaries so he doesn't cross them. None of this alpha-male bullying you into being what they think you should be bullshit. I really liked Tobin.

Lyon can handle some things better by the end but is still clearly suffering from PTSD and there's no suggestion he'll ever be completely healed of it. (I'm sick to death of seeing people magically 100% cured of their mental illnesses in fiction. It doesn't work that way. Aaand I'm going to stop the rant right there.) He does have to face the wraith that possessed his master, but the idea of facing your fears (exposure therapy) has merit and isn't treated like a cure-all so I'm OK with it. I grant you exposure therapy doesn't usually mean plunging straight into things in a magical circle to face one spirit while being aided by another but it's not like the book went straight from 'flashback-ridden, agoraphobic hermit' to 'boldly facing your fears with no other reaction'. I don't think it even hit that last one at all.

Lyon does end the book with a slightly greater range of motion in his right hand but it's never going to be 100%. It makes sense, though: the original injury had scarred over before it could be properly tended and there was a foreign object embedded in it. Removal of the object and what sounds like a minor operation, possibly to remove more scar tissue, plus some light physiotherapy would serve to improve things. I checked to see if there were a sequel: sadly, there was not. I'd've liked to read more about Tobin and Lyon.

Hexmaker (Hexworld #2), by Jordan L. Hawk. Malachi is a fox shifter and a thief, who witnesses a murder during one of his break-ins. Caught and held at the scene, he also finds his witch, Dr. Owen Yates, when the forensic hexman arrives at the murder scene. Owen Yates, who is a week away from his arranged marriage to an upper crust heiress, finds himself torn between his attraction to Malachi and his sense of duty. But as the hunt for the murderer draws them closer, Owen begins to question whether he can live a lie for the rest of his life.

Remember Owen Yates, from Hexbreaker? He's not as much of a straitlaced ass as he initially comes across as. I would call him more constrained, actually - a lot of his public persona seems to be just that. He's a lot more likeable and sympathetic than I initially thought he would be. I also like that this book broke with the "he's my witch but how can I tell him??" bit that Hexmaker and Hexbreaker seemed to indicate would be the formula for the series. We get to learn more about the history of magic in the world, plus there's a touch of clockpunk, and more of the theriarchist conspiracy. I'm looking forward to seeing where that's going.

The War of the Flowers, by Tad Williams. Theo Vilmos, a struggling rock singer, is unexpectedly shoved into the parallell world of Faerie and finds himself a pivotal figure in the looming war between the six Great Houses and the rest of the beings that inhabit the realm.

After the boredom that was Otherland, I was a bit leery of picking up another great thick Williams book but The War of the Flowers didn't disappoint. The world was developed and nuanced, and gave a sense of truly being inhabited. I liked the idea of Faerie with industrial development and the problems that come with it. I admit I did see most of the plot twists with Theo himself coming (well before he did, like Simon from Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn he's often not the fastest at thinking things through, seems to be a characteristic of Williams' everyman characters) and had suspicions about a few of the others, but there were one or two I did not see coming. And it gave me the sniffles at one point and I nearly missed my morning bus today because I just had to finish reading it! I want to reread it again already just to see what I missed first time through.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
First things first, the work news is that I did find a job. It's working the phones in a call center - excuse me, contact center  - and I do not like it but it goes by quick and pays rather well, so there's that. Seeing as I was out of money, I can't complain too much. Also studying web development and WordPress development and hoping to maybe get some freelance work, along with trying for some freelance writing work but no one's biting yet. *sigh* Who signed me up for this 'being an adult' nonsense and what were they thinking?

What Am I Reading

What I Just Finished Reading:
Non-Stop Till Tokyo by K.J. Charles. A young woman threatened by theYakuza must go on the run and try to find a way to prove who the real culprit is. It's an early work and it shows, and while the idea is interesting I thought the overall plot felt a little too thin.

Charmed and Dangerous, edited by Jordan Castillo Price. It's an anthology of LGBT paranormal fiction, and overall quite good. A couple of stories fell below the bar but the rest I really enjoyed. (Yes, yes, there's a Whyborne & Griffin short in there, but it doesn't count because I'd already read it. Right?) Worth checking out, certainly.

Fallow (Whyborne & Griffin #8), by Jordan L. Hawk. Like most of the rest of the readership I'm going to start with this, just to get it off my chest: ugh, that cover. I know the author's thrilled with it, and I did think through whether I was just reacting because it was new or because I genuinely don't like it and...I genuinely don't like it. I liked the originals better. Anyway, now that's done...

Goodreads Summary: When a man from Griffin’s past murders a sorcerer, the situation grows even more dire. Once a simple farmer from Griffin’s hometown of Fallow, the assassin now bears a terrifying magical corruption, one whose nature even Whyborne can’t explain. To keep Griffin’s estranged mother safe, they must travel to a dying town in Kansas. But as drought withers the crops of Fallow, a sinister cult sinks its roots deep into the arid soil. And if the cult’s foul harvest isn’t stopped in time, Fallow will be only the first city to fall.

It's easy to overlook because Whyborne is generally more dramatic about things but Griffin has a much more screwed up past. That becomes even more apparent when we get to Fallow, which is a spiteful little place just overflowing with pettiness and homophobia. Yeah, fun. I'd raise an eyebrow at the museum letting Christine and Iskander go along on pretense of an archaeological expedition except that since Bloodline it's been made pretty clear that, in Widdershins, Whyborne's wishes are to be respected. Particularly after the events of Maelstrom. The book is ok, but it's not my favorite out of the series, or even the strongest of the 'away' novels. (That would be Necropolis.) The next book, Draakenwood, is out in 2017 and I'm definitely curious about that one since we've been getting hints about the nature of the Draakenwood since the first book but never gone in. In between, I think we're getting a short story about Persephone and Miss Parkhurst.

The Just City, by Jo Walton. The Greek gods Athena and Apollo create a city based on Plato's Republic and populate it with people drawn from different periods of time. I liked the concept, and I liked seeing how the city developed. The side plot with the robot workers was fascinating and I wish it had gotten more page time. But I found it hard to track what was going on because every single character's voice was the same, and no one really ever expressed any emotions. They were like that even before they got to the city or else I would see it as a result of trying to enforce conformity. As it is, it just read like flawed writing.

Blood of Elves, by Andrzej Sapkowski. Not enough Geralt. Too much Triss and Yennefer.

What I'm Reading Now: Just finished Blood of Elves before writing this so I haven't picked anything else up yet. Utopia, maybe?

What I'm Reading Next: Probably something I've read before. It makes it easier when you're reading between calls because you know you won't have an uninterrupted train of thought for more than a few minutes at best.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
Title: Calling Frequency
Author: Hours Gone By
Fandom: Dead Space 3
Pairing/Characters: Isaac Clarke and John Carver.
Rating/Category: PG for swearing
Prompt: Carver’s always had an issue with trust, and he’s not one to rely on anyone but himself. Now that he’s doing just that, he finds Isaac’s a lot different than what he imagined.
Spoilers: For the Dead Space series, up to the post-credits scene for Dead Space 3.
Summary: Trapped on Tau Volantis, an injured Carver has to rely on Isaac for help.
Notes/Warnings: Probably very mildly AU: I haven't played Dead Space: Awakening yet.

Written for [livejournal.com profile] smallfandomfestRound 19, June - July 2016
Read more... )
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
Title: Through the Gates
Author: Hours Gone By
Fandom: Goblin Emperor, The (Katherine Addison)
Pairing/Characters: (use full names rather than initials) Maia/Csethiro
Rating/Category: PG
Prompt: It's not quite love, but it's not just duty, either.
Spoilers: (if applicable) Takes place after the end of The Goblin Emperor.
Summary: It's not quite love, but it's not just duty, either. Maia and Csethiro’s relationship develops.
Notes/Warnings: (if applicable) Fun fact: my spellchecker kept trying to change Csethiro to ‘Cset Hero’ and ‘Csevet’ to ‘Clever’.

Written for [livejournal.com profile] smallfandomfest Round 19, June - July 2016.
Read more... )
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What I Just Finished Reading: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch. Not sure about the end of this one. I thought we'd come to a good stopping point for a trilogy, but then it just kept going? The fourth book is out this fall so we'll see, I guess. I can always pretend the last few chapters don't count if I want to. :P

Bomber's Moon (Under the Hill #1), by Alex Beecroft. After Ben Chaudhry is threatened by elves he accidentally sees on their midnight ride he contacts the Paranormal Defence Agency for help. Chris Gatrell, a WWII pilot shot down and sent forward in time by these same elves, answers Ben's call for help and finds himself attracted not only to the case but to Ben as well. But just as they think they've found a solution, the voice of Chris's wartime lover Flynn, trapped by the fae 70 years ago, warns that there is more danger than they imagine. Can Ben and Chris face down otherworldly forces and build a relationship together?

Well, yes and no. This book ends on one of the most blatant cliffhangers I've ever seen, meaning you have to buy the following book if you want to find out what happens. It probably wouldn't have annoyed me as much if they weren't priced at the cost of a complete book each. Said annoyance was also mitigated by the fact that I bought them during one of ARe's sales and only paid the cost of a single book anyway. So:

Dogfighters (Under the Hill #2), by Alex Beecroft. Kidnapped by the fae Ben is confronted with a past life, lover, and supernatural history he doesn't remember. Back on Earth Chris not only needs to find a way to Ben but a way to convince the police he isn't Ben's murderer. In the face of an impending invasion, Flynn and Chris work from opposite sides to stop the Fae but even with the help of a dragon, Chris's fellow Paranormal Defenders, and a ghostly bomber crew will they be able to save the Earth - and Ben and Flynn?

I really wanted to like this better than I did. It was okay but it had way too much going on, and a number of characters who just seemed to get dropped for the sake of the ending. It also feels weird that Chris was wondering if the two weeks he was lovers with Flynn was long enough to consider a relationship and then he just hops into one with Ben in only a week? A number of plot points were just dropped, seemingly for the sake of getting Ben and Chris together. It should've either kept the simpler 'find out what angered the fae in the first book and fix it' plotline, or been expanded into a longer book or a series.

Lead Me Into Darkness: Five Hallowe'en Tales of Paranormal Romance, by Santino Hassell, J.R. Gray, Kris Ripper, J.C. Lillis, and Roan Parrish. This was a free offering on ARe so I downloaded it because why not? It was OK. I honestly can't remember anything about the individual stories though.

What I'm Reading Now: The Boss, by Abigail Barnette. Sophie Scaife never expected to see the man she had an amazing one night stand with six years ago again, much less to suddenly find out he's her new boss, billionaire publishing magnate Neil Elwood. Sophie can't resist rekindling the spark they felt between them that night - and neither can Neil, who has never been able to forget the woman who submitted to him so beautifully. But when their no-strings-attached fling becomes something more will Sophie need to choose between her lover and her career?

Abigail Barnette is the pen name of Jenny Trout, who did a wonderful recap and takedown of the Fifty Shades of Grey series you can read here. The Boss is designed to be the antithesis of FSoG and it is, oh yes it is. There is respect, affection, actual goddamned discussions of what people want in the bedroom, and a female protagonist who absolutely has her own sexual agency. She talks, she thinks, she initiates encounters, she cheerfully talks about her fantasies and masturbating to them, she's a submissive but she isn't treated as a doormat nor does she act as one. She's also not jealous of or threatened by other women. Pretty much, if you put her in a room with Ana Steele it'd be like matter and antimatter and the only reason I'm not suggesting it is that I like Sophie much more than I hate Ana. (To be clear, I don't hate Ana because she's a victim - that's not her fault, it's never the victim's fault - I hate her because she's a snide, greedy, grasping, jealous, willfully stupid, elitist ass. But she still doesn't deserve Christian Grey.) Really, the only issue I have with The Boss is Sophie's repeated use of the word 'cunt' but that's being used by Sophie to describe her own genitalia, not as a slur or an insult so that just falls under personal preference.

What I'm Reading Next: We know by now there's no use in predicting that. :)
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
I've honestly been terrible about keeping track of what I've been reading, so let's just start this off with what I'm reading now: The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch, third book in The Gentlemen Bastards series. I'm riiiight about the point where I usually get my heart ripped out and stomped on so now it's just a matter of waiting.

What I'm Reading Next: Hopefully finishing The Kingdom of the Gods by N.K. Jemisin. I went through the first two books in the series really fast, but I just can't get into this one. I think it's because I don't really like the protagonist. After that, I'm not sure, but at the beginning of August I shall be reading Fallow: Whyborne & Griffin #8 by Jordan L. Hawk. It looks like she's got new models for the covers, and I'm not sure how I feel about them yet. Anyway, it is now available for preorder. It's one of the 'away' books, which usually don't grab me as much, but they are headed to Kansas so hopefully we'll see some resolution for Griffin regarding the distant and recent pasts.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
85% of people have experienced a dream so real they weren't sure if it happened or notI've woken up absolutely certain that I've had conversations with people, gotten up in the middle of the night and done things, written down ideas - and then when I ask about it or look for the proof there's absolutely nothing. Hunting all over the house for that fantastic novel idea that you had and you KNOW you wrote down an outline for and it's NOT THERE...yeah. Not fun times.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic, by JoSelle Vanderhooft. Still liked it by the time I finished it, which can be an iffy thing with short story collections. It's odd how one short can affect your view of the whole sometimes.

Point of Hopes (Astreiant #1), by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett. The world is a  fascinating one - think an alternate 16th century or so France - where your sexuality is no big deal, and the society is a matriarchy, a fact that's revealed as something that's just there, instead of whacking you over the head with it. I REALLY liked both the main leads, and the way the relationship develops between them. Again, without banging you over the head with it. My only issue with it is similar to the one I had with Death by Silver: the conclusion to the central mystery of who is stealing children and why feels rushed, as though the authors realized they were coming to the end and had to tie ends up.

The 13th Hex, by Jordan L. Hawk. This is the short-story intro, previously published in Charmed and Dangerous, to Hawk's new Hexworld series. Because it's a short story things move along fairly quickly, and there isn't as much world or character building as I would have liked. (To be fair, it was never intended to be the intro to a series.) Dominic Kopecky is a would-have-been witch who instead spends his days drawing hexes for New York's Metropolitan Witch Police. Familiar-without-a-witch Rook (also a shapeshifter) brings a murder by patent hex to his attention, a murder that everyone else claims has been solved - and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way. Honestly, you're probably going to guess at least one of the reveals long before it happens, but it's still a fun little read.

Point of Knives (Astreiant #1.5), by Melissa Scott. This is a short story set between Point of Hopes and Point of Dreams, centering not exactly on the beginning of the relationship between Eslingen and Rathe but on how they want to take it further, and the debate over whether they should. Plus, pirates! And more murder. There was still some veering away from the mystery into the relationship when it felt like the former should have taken precedence, but as with A Death at the Dionysus Club versus Death by Silver, it's not nearly as intrusive. Not that I'm complaing about the relationship, mind, even if I was reading it and going "come on, come on, you guys, you're perfect for each other!" ")

Point of Dreams (Astreiant #2), by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett. I love theatre. It might have paid like crap but one of the best jobs I ever had was usher/bartender at a live theatre. I got to see all the shows and get paid for it. :D So that may be influencing how much I liked this book because it centers around a live theatre, in what seems to be Astreiant's theatre district. Eslingen is hired on at the theatre, which is set to put on a politically important play, as a sort of drill instructor for the chorus. As the chorus is made up of nobles who won a lottery, you can imagine how much fun he has. A series of mysterious murders place the play in jeopardy, and Rathe must find the person behind them lest disaster strike on opening night. We get to see more of the politcal sphere of Astreiant, as well as more about how magic and astrology work in this world. On the personal side, Eslingen moves in with Rathe (yay!) and they navigate that new aspect of their relationship. BY TALKING TO EACH OTHER.

Fair's Point (Astreiant #3), by Melissa Scott. I can honestly say I've never read a mystery involving dog races and magic at the same time before. And we get to see a lot of magic, much more explicitly so than in the first 3 stories, with more information on how the magic works. As with the Lynes & Mathey stories, magic is integrated into the world, not just something practiced by strange people on the fringes. There's a little more on matriarchal politics. Eslingen and Rathe are still living together - yay! -  and there are some nice bits of domesticity. Eslingen has received an offer to be part of a new type of guard, meant to back up the points and have jurisdiction outside the city, and while Rathe has reservations about it, he handles it like a reasonable person. The mystery plot was carried along apace, with no bumpy side-trips into the sub-plots, and was both fascinating and terribly confusing.

Too Many Fairy Princes, by Alex Beecroft. Right, so, there was a sample of this one at the end of one of K.J. Charles' books and  - okay, I admit, I was entirely made curious about this by the line "I will skin you and write satirical verses on the leather". Maybe it was just because it was late at night but it made me laugh. Fairy prince Kjartan (who goes by Kai on Earth, mustn't give away your real name and all) is forced to teleport to an unspecified destination when one of his brothers tries to kill him to clear the path to the throne. (Yes, like Stardust.) Artist and gallery worker (part owner, I think?) Joel Wilson's day has gone straight to hell when he finds out his boss not only owes money to a loan shark, but the loan is due AND there is no money in the bank. Joel needs a miracle: he gets a fairy prince in a trash bin. We get a rather sweet romance with elves, mobsters, royalty, deadly sibling rivalry, occasionally disturbing culteral differences, and the discovery of Nutella. The relationship is on a long, slow, burn and given what elves have been told about humans (not, mind, without reason) and vice-versa (again, not without reason) and how they meet it makes sense: they're both carefully making sure the other's not in a vulnerable state or affected by outside influences so that there can be no doubt about the validity of consent. It's not quite Will They Or Won't They, but it does take a while. Overall it's some nice brain candy if you're looking for something entertaining but not demanding.

What I'm Currently Reading: I got distracted with knitting and haven't started a new book. Yet. Oh, hey, The Goblin Emperor...
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: A Queer Trade (Rag and Bone #0.5), by K.J. Charles. This is a short story set in the same world as the Magpie Lord, and takes place I think sometime in the last 2 books of the Magpie trilogy. Returning to London after visiting family, apprentice practitioner Crispin Tredarloe finds his master is dead, and the landlord has sold off his possessions, save those specified in his will, but including piles of paper that could prove very dangerous in the hands of anyone other than Crispin. He tracks down the papers and finds them in the possession of waste paper dealer Ned Hall, and together they try to prevent a disaster.

I like the ideas, the characters, and the overall story, though I quibble with the idea that Crispin, having just learned of his master's death that morning and in the midst of a desperate search for dangerous magical items, would pause in his frantic search to briefly fantasize about Ned, let alone make out with him in public, however briefly. Grief can make people do strange things, and sex is definitely a way of dealing with it, but it was jarring here. Still, it was a nice setup for the Rag and Bone, the full novel featuring Crispin and Ned.

Jackdaw, by K.J. Charles. Also set in the world of the Magpie Lord, Jackdaw picks up the story of Jonah Pastern (the young windwalker from Flight of Magpies, and this book will not make sense if you haven't read that) and his former lover, Ben. This didn't really have a plot the way the other books in the 'verse do, it's more of a 'slice of life' type of thing, though at times a fearful one (Jonah) and an angry one (Ben, and damn justifiably too), fraught with worry about being caught, both by society and the justiciars.

Rag and Bone (Rag and Bone #1), by K.J. Charles. This overlaps with both Flight of Magpies and Jackdaw and if the series continues in that vein I may have to start drawing diagrams to figure out who's doing what where and when. After the events of A Queer Trade, Crispin is now apprenticed at the justiciary, trying to learn how to use his powers properly and it's not going well. Graphomancy may not be viewed as legitimate magic, but more and more it seems to be the only kind he can use. He's viewed with suspicion by other practitioners and his relationship with Ned is under strain. Worst of all, old, wild magic is stirring in London, and there are no justiciars to handle it, or even hear about it, meaning it's all up to Crispin and Ned.

Sadly, there was no Saint, although there was more of Mrs. Gold. I enjoyed it, and I definitely felt the relationship between Ned and Crispin was slightly better done than Lucien and Stephen. I also definitely picked up on the feeling of trying to get something DONE when everyone above you is busy with something else and this is important too. (Granted in my case it was 'this software change will completely nuke 90% if our procedures, we need a workaround', while everyone else was worrying about budgets or something, but...)

SPECTR: Series 1, by Jordan L. Hawk. I opened it up to do a search on something for a discussion I was having with [livejournal.com profile] hamsterwoman and, um, ended up reading it again, though not from the beginning. Oops?

What I'm Reading Now: Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic, by JoSelle Vanderhooft. This short story collection is working better for me than the last few I tried. It's another of the ones I picked up during Lethe Press's sale. With just one exception so far the shorts tell complete stories all of which, well, do what they say on the tin. :) You've got women dealing with problems without being defined either by their orientation or their relationship with a man. You've got urban fantasy mixed wtih regular fantasy mixed with science-fantasy and while I'm not reading it straight through I am pleased to come back to it, unlike the last two collections that I felt I was just slogging through.

Still going with The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England too. (It's my upstairs book and I haven't been upstairs much.)

What I'm Reading Next: I haven't decided yet. I've still got a lot of the Lethe Press stuff to get through, plus physical books.

I also already hit the goal for the Goodreads reading challenge I set up at the beginning of the year! Probably because I've had the space I used to use for work filled up with time to read instead. So I just upped the number, we'll see how that goes.
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I don't think this is a complete list, because I use Goodreads to track and I'm sure I haven't been entering things properly lately. Oops.

What I Just Finished Reading: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black. I can be iffy on vampire fiction, especially stuff that came out in the past 10-15 years or so (since whenever Twilight hit, really) but this worked really really well for me! It definitely helps that, like the James Asher series, you're never allowed to forget that the vampires are predators who feed on, use, and kill humans. I thought the worldbuilding was well done too: it didn't feel like a world where vampires happened and everyone carried on as normal, except, oh yeah, vampires, it felt like one where vampires happened and the world was very nearly screwed and is now desperately trying to pretend everything is normal. Vampire reality shows and vampire presence on social media, vampires being kept in quarantine - these are all things I can see happening. I can see why it won/was nominated for so many awards! My local library is sadly low on Holly Black titles but I'll keep an eye out for more of hers.

FYI, I do believe Hambly is working on a 7th Asher novel. :)

Hainted, by Jordan L. Hawke. This was a lot smoother than I'd expected a first novel to be, and I quite liked it. Dan Miller is a young man in his early twenties, forced by the death of their parents to look after his younger siblings and run the family farm. Dan was raised by his mother to be a haint-worker, someone who can lay restless spirits and undead (haints) and send them on to the other side. After a traumatic experience on his first solo job, after the death of his parents, he's given up haint-working, only to be drawn back in when Leif Helsvin, tall long-haired* blond goth, shows up in town needing help to track down a necromancer.  There's an interesting mix of North Carolina folk beliefs and Norse mythology present in this, plus the aforementioned necromancer, undead, visits to Hel**, and tons of magic. And Taryn! You know how Hawke's work always has at least one female character who kicks ass and is awesome? In Hainted that's Taryn. (Christine from W&G is still my favorite though.)

* Definitely a theme in Hawke's work. Mind you, I quite like that theme and am not complaining.
** If you're unfamiliar with Norse mythology, no, that's not a typo. :)

BTW, Hawke has a new series, Hexbreaker, coming soon. The link there is to her site's entry on it. 1 book plus a short story that was previously printed in Charmed and Dangerous are due for release in May.

A Death at the Dionysus Club, by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold. I liked Death by Silver and I think I liked this even more. :) The case is bizarre, the relationship between the two men continues to develop nicely and realistically, and the sequence where they discuss outing themselves and the consequences is genuinely wrenching. (I mean, a 'what if they find out!' moment is bad enough in 20th/21st century Canada, but in Victorian London? With the very real possibility of hard labour in prison and the complete ruin of your life? Christ that's an appalling thought.) I did think that the growing tension between Mathey and Lynes regarding their sex life detracted from the murder mystery plot for part of the novel, but I was pleased to see they resolved it by - gasp! - talking to each other. Then we got back to the missing hearts and all was well. I'm really hoping there'll be a third book!

Uh, I think I also read through some short story collections that I got with the bundle containing Beyond Binary in the Lethe Press sale, but while I don't dislike short stories by any means, a lot of them tend to have a few problems: they feel like a scene chopped out of something larger instead of being a complete story in themselves; there isn't a proper ending; they try hard for realism by adding little details, usually of something unpleasant, and they wind up just coming across as grubby; they tend to remind me of being forced to read Canadian Literature (CanLit) in school. I realize that last is not universal, but pretty much all the CanLit they made us read dealt with:Cut for complaining about CanLit. )
What I'm Currently Reading: The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England, by Kristine Hughes. It's very interesting to read through and see how the society shifted over time. The articles aren't overly long and detailed, and many of them are collections of information from other sources, but you can gather information without feeling overwhelmed, and the bibliography for each chapter is listed at the end of the chapter, so if you want more you know which books to look up for further detail. It might help a little to already be somewhat familiar with the era, since there aren't many pictures. If you don't know what a frock coat is, for instance, you might be confused.

What I'm Reading Next: I haven't decided. I have given up swearing it's going to be The Inheritance Trilogy because really, we all know it's not. Maybe I'll reread The Resurrectionist now that I've got a physical copy of the (gorgeous!) book.
Mar. 3rd, 2016 04:10 pm

Meme thing

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Rules: Bold all of the things that apply to you.
Cut because long. )
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What I Just Finished Reading: Spiritride (SERRAted Edge #7), by Mark Shepherd. Well, if Elvendude was a fantasy anti-drug PSA, this tried to be a cautionary tale set during the Satanic Panic of the late 80s/early 90s. It just didn't work for me.

Death by Silver, by Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold. A gaslamp fantasy with an intriguing murder mystery, metaphysicians working as detectives, magic as a part of everyday life, well-developed characters (even minor ones!), and a slowly blossoming love story between the main leads.  The worldbuilding is just fantastic; not a single thing feels forced or info-dumped, and it blends so very well with the Victorian age. Murder, mystery, and scandal. Lovely! I'm so glad I finally picked this up.

Dangerous Spirits (Spirits #2), by Jordan L. Hawk. (I talk about the 1st one here.) See how I was talking about Henry having room for growth on that first entry? He hasn't hit it yet. If you read Whyborne & Griffin and had times where you wanted to tell Whyborne to get his head out of his ass, you'll probably want to slap Henry. We did get more of Vincent and Lizzie's background, which was nice, but I didn't think there was nearly enough of Jo. The ghost story is very interesting but doesn't feel as well fleshed out as it could have been. I'm waiting till book 3 - where I really fell for Whyborne & Griffin and SPECTR - but so far it's average.

Mocker of Ravens (SPECTR 2, #1), by Jordan L. Hawk. SPECTR series 2 picks up a few months after series 1 ends. Sadly, Kaniyar and Tiffany have both moved off-page (hey, Tiffany grows on you, really) but Caleb, Gray, and John wind up with a new partner, Zahira, who I just adored from the start. (It's that thing I have for smart women again.) Gray likes her too, actually. On the down side, Caleb and John are experiencing workplace harrassment - garlic oil on the doorknob of their office for Caleb, an ass of a new boss who thinks John should go back in the closet - and no one but Zahira is willing to work with them, largely because of her fascination with Gray. So that, and the scent Caleb and Gray pick up of an unknown NHE that also isn't a demon, seem to be the arc for this series.

Heart of the Dragon, by Jordan L. Hawk. Short story, threesome porn, about a virgin set to be sacrificed to a dragon and the knight who comes to save him. Turns out that while the dragon doesn't eat people, he does shift into a handsome man and invite the virgin to stay the night. It was OK. I did like this quote though:

"...so let me get this straight. They dressed you up – the silk shirt is very nice, by the way, quite fetching – dragged you here, and chained you to this post. Which they planted in my doorway, thank you very much – with the expectation I would eat you. And this is supposed to make me less upset? Is logic a foreign concept to you people?"

Dancer of Death (SPECTR 2, #2), by Jordan L. Hawk. Set on desk duty by the aforementioned asshole boss, Caleb, Gray, John, and Zahira (henceforth referred to by initials, because OMG so many names) are sent back to the field when the bodies of people who have been danced to death start showing up. The plot in this one is possibly the tightest of the series, and includes another instance of world-building that might not actually hit you unless you're familiar with the ballet Giselle. (There's a handy author's note at the back if you're not.) Oh, and Gray starts referring to C, J, and Z as 'his' mortals.

You know, just in case he hadn't been compared to a cat enough already. :P

What I'm Reading Next: Still working on that annoying problem where my library loan isn't recognized on my Kobo with The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I think I'll just bring my knitting up here and read it on the computer, it's probably easiest. Then Hainted, by Jordan L. Hawk, and then possibly The Inheritance Trilogy, which has only been staring at me across the living room for, like, a month.
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Right, so audiobooks aren't really my thing, seeing as I have a set of voices for the characters in my head and spend a lot of audiobooks going BUT THAT'S NOT HOW THEY SOUND! But if they're yours, and you like or are curious about W&G, the author is raffling off 5 copies of the Widdershins audiobook. Here be the link.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: Flight of Magpies, by K.J. Charles. This was my favorite out of the series. It brought some of the plot threads from the first two novels, particularly the first, and featured a lot more of the other characters, especially the other justiciars. Also Saint! Lots of Saint, who has been learning to fight from Merrick: "...she is now able to flip herself through the air like a dervish and kick a man in the face three times before landing."

I like Saint.

There's a bit more detail about the different kinds of practitioners, and an introduction to the protagonist of Jackdaw that's threaded rather nicely through the plot. There's a touch of romantic conflict, but not so much romantic misunderstanding as two people being bullheaded.

Feast of Stephen, by K.J. Charles. A short story set immediately after Flight of Magpies, it's just a short slice-of-life story. I remember thinking it was cute but can't recall anything about it.

The Otherworld, by Mercedes Lackey. It's books 2 and 3 of SERRAted Edge, both dealing with children who are victims of abuse. The 2nd book/half of Otherworld deals specifically with child sexual abuse, and contains quite a bit of violence as well, fair warning.

Both books are told from the elves's point of view, which is interesting. It's not totally alien because they've lived here and interacted with humans for quite some time, but you do get the feeling you're dealing with someone not quite human, rather than just a ditzy human. (Though Mac, book 2, honestly does slip into that territory sometimes. Sweetie, you've been here how long and you don't know not to put plastic under a heat source?) It's also set firmly in the early 90s: I can tell from the reference to 'horrendously pink' slouch socks. (Mine were tie-dye.)

Elvendude, by Mark Shepherd. This is listed as SERRAted Edge #6 but it doesn't have any of the characters from the first four books. (I think 5 might be an art book? It's out of print, certainly.) It's pretty much an 80s anti-drug PSA in fantasy novel form.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley. *sigh* Even better the second time through.

SPECTR: The Complete First Series (SPECTR 1-6), by Jordan L. Hawke. While this was written as six separate books, I think it reads better in this form, because it really is one continuous story. The romantic subplots feel rather arbitrary, but I did like seeing Caleb's developing relationship with Gray. I wish we'd seen more of Kaniyar: she's the kind of person I'd take pains not to come to the attention of, while taking notes on how to handle people from afar. Tiffany too: actually her entire family has a very interesting backstory that is also a major spoiler. The books are short, about 100 pages or so each, so I went through the whole thing in about 6 hours. I described it as feeling like hard candy, which is true, but there's nothing wrong with a piece or two of candy now and then.

What I'm Currently Reading: Spiritride, by Mark Shepherd. This takes place a year or so after Elvendude and, it's just not kept my interest so far - though to be fair I did stop for Watchmaker - but I expect I'll pick it up again now that I'm done SPECTR.

What I'm Reading Next: Not sure yet. Possibly Jackdaw by K.J. Charles, or The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, if I can figure out why the DRM on the library loan doesn't want to cooperate. Then maybe the rest ofThe Inheritance Trilogmn, which I also have in omnibus form, plus one more novel, which I desperately hope I do not drop on my foot.


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