Well next she made me play Fire Emblem 9/10.
Actually we played Path of Radiance... I think in the spring? I don't actually remember, but I remember we spent the summer with FF9 and Kingdom Heart 2 and fall with FF7 (the final fantasies, I was the one who had already played with them though I hadn't finished either up till then) and I think PoR was before, so.
And in the last few weeks we did Radiant Dawn (there was a big gap because of technical difficulties with the data transfer and all sorts of stuff).
Anyway PoR didn't make that much of an impression on me... it's a fairly nice, but fairly straightforward story. I'm really not much into strategy game, and most of the time "playing" meant moving the characters where runespoor was telling me to. I also found the way that the characters we use in the game to fight the battles and the characters who have the most storytime focus are somewhat... not quite the same a bit hard in term of emotional involvement. Still, I didn't dislike it, by a far mile, I was enjoying the game and found quite a few characters to like. I latched very quickly on Soren and he remained by favorite through the game; also Jill has a most awesome character journey and I also found the birds interaction very entertaining and Ranulf pretty great.
Radiant Dawn worked on another level for me still. Part of it may have been being more used to the gameplay & storytelling style; but also because it's a story that works in a much more interesting and multi layered way. I love the way that each part somewhat deconstructs what has gone before XD I found the way we shifted PoV from sides was brilliant. Part 3 was my favorite, and also liked part 4 a lot (although I wish they had had more discussions addressing the awkwardness of it - likewise the last part and ending doesn't have enough discussions addressing reveals for my taste). ( hitherby spoilers )
To be honest, this wasn't a great year for anime and I was getting a bit disgusted with it by the end of spring. Summer was mostly crap too, except it had those two AWESOME show. So I guess there was that.
For the Winter shows that I mentioned before and which ended this year... Psycho Pass and From the New World are two that stand out as very well done, very terrifying dystopia which I'm disappointed in because I find them morally bankrupt. They have weird similarities underneath a very different style, too:
They both follow a heroine whose biggest distinction is an ability for emotional stability and recovery from psychological trauma. This ability, as recognized by their society, grants them special dispensation and decisional status.
They both end up having the heroines nominally repudiate the horrible control of their dystopia by the end, but really only for the form, while supporting them in their actions because the enemy they face, who try to uproot the horribly controlling dystopic societies are obviously manipulative, murderous bastards. Said enemies are the only genuine opponents to the dystopic society we ever really see (there are hints of more in one episode of Psycho Pass but it's n ever followed up on), therefore it seems to tacitly say that people's alternatives are between embracing horribly murderous and controlling dystopic societies or condoning horrible acts of murder in order to oppose them, despite the nominal rejections of the former we see in the ending. That's what I felt was morally bankrupt.
Of the two, I liked From the New World more, I found it much more fresh and original in its world building, with a much more interesting and genuine sense of horror (which kept getting deeper and more existential as we went in); whereas Psycho Pass' cyberpunk and gory aesthetics felt at times rather smug and patronizing. People who prefer Psycho Pass would probably rightly emphasize its heroine great agency in the plot by the ending. But they're both very well done stories, with excellent character work, atmosphere building and world building; and both are great SF works. Too bad that they end up being so conservative in the end in effect :/ I'm not even sure that was intentional (well it might have been with Psycho Pass, but I don't get the feeling from From the New World)
The second season of Chihayafuru was very, very good, although with a very different pacing from the first one. A lot of it was taken with a tournament arc, although it still feel as fresh as ever, with great, subtle characterization. We also got a few new characters, which I liked a lot, especially Sumire. And also loved all the developments to Shinobu. I hope there'll be more anime someday. I need to try out the manga too.
As for Zetsuen no Tempest, I felt it had a pretty weak ending. Overall it was weird, rather entertaining show, which sometimes delighted in doing quirky, anti-climatic stuff. I also loved the way Aika was characterized as the "already dead at the start little sister". She's not as awesome as Lia de Beaumont, but she was pretty cool ;) but yeah, often it was just... weird and not particularly coherent. Although, if several billions of the world population die in the middle of the show, I'd like to have more of a feel for that having happened >_>; mass slaughters with no real effect to the world is starting to be one of my peeves. I blame comics.
For the other shows I watched this year...
In the "why did I watch that again?" category, there was Karneval and Valrave S1 (I didn't actually watch the S2 which is currently broadcasting).
Karneval is a steampunk show has bishounens and pretty aesthetics and very little else. It's one of those show that tries to float by with cute charadesigns and tropish characterizations and thoroughly failed at plot. I mean, it did try to have a plot, it was just mostly incoherent and badly thought of, kind of mildly pleasant to watch if you didn't care too much about the plot or pacing though.
Valrave is space mecha/political drama/bodyjacking vampire show. It is a pretty weird case of trying to be like Code Geass but with a boring lead, more creepy gender dynamics (it's pretty infamous on the internet as The One in Which the Main Character Rapes a Girl) and not as interesting politics (it might get better in the second season). It did do a couple of things that were interesting, especially with the two female leads, and it did have a rather over the top "what the fuck" quality that made it interesting, but it's mostly a failure. (And I'm one of the people who think that despite being flawed, Code Geas was not a trainwreck).
Another SF mecha show, Gargantia was slightly more successful, in that it does end up being a mostly coherent story from start to finish, despite having an extremely weak middle. This one revolves around a genetically programmed space soldier who is shipwrecked with his mecha (and its AI) on a peaceful, low tech, sea covered planet. It's biggest failure, IMHO, is that it never properly lives up to the brilliance that was the first episode. It sets up some interesting things about cultural clashes and learning to communicate, but then is more interested in cute girls and cheap jokes to really pull it off. Then it ends up with info dumping a lot of interesting SF stuff about the history of the world and resolve them overly quickly. Wasted potential overall.
I watched a couple episodes of another mecha show before dropping it, and also the show in which they wish they had mechas, Attack on Titan, but quickly found myself bored/uninterested in either.
I also watched Red Data Girl, a shoujo romance with a supernatural premise about a girl who has a special connection to a powerful Goddess getting sent to a highschool for people with an affinity with the occult. I rather liked it, although it's a little bit weak and badly paced. The heroine is a very much on the overly timid and lacking confidence side, but I thought that made her character journey all the more interesting; and it had an interesting atmosphere.
And I watched an action shounen, Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited; mostly because I wanted to watch the show about not!Magneto and the not!Brotherhood of mutants, which it was wonderfully and crackfully entertaining as. It's also pretty fun and entertaining on its own right. Anyway, it's a spin off of Zettai Karen Children, a not!X-Men manga, which is supposed to be quite a bit too much on the loli, harem & comedy side to be something I'd be interesting in watching or reading; but The Unlimited is much more of a traditional shounen in mood, with a more dramatic tone and the lolicon jokes kept to a minimum. It did a few clever things with the plot, especially with the contrast of the PoV lead, a guy who joins the not!Brotherhood of Mutants at random but is actually infiltrating into them to spy and undermine them, and his reaction to Hyobu Kyosuke, the charismatic leader of radical
Remembering my reactions to it, I'm very much glad we're finally getting a Magneto ongoing soon in comics ^_^
And at last the two great shows from this summer:
Gatchaman CROWDS is a weird beast. In name it's a part of a very old sentai franchise, although it was really conceived as a story separately and tied to the franchise for production reason and doesn't end up having all that much to do with it. It is a pretty awesome reconstruction of superhero tropes in many ways, although it doesn't even have all that much action in it. It's one of the very rare case with an aspirational character as lead which I actually liked. I found it extremely thematically brilliant, in particular; although it also have a great visual style, a very catchy sountrack and some great characters. It does suffer a bit of a rushed ending (which might be fixed in the DVD release and/or planned second season) and of some characters being not as developped than others. But otherwise, I really found it brilliant. It's one of the most positive and empowering story I have ever seen on the topic of heroism. And it tackles the theme of heroism in the age of crowdsourcing especially in a way I found especially fascinating, inspiring and democratic. A lot of the discussions I've seen about it revolves around the lead, Hajime, who is incredibly upbeat and cheerful and also unbearingly independently minded (she tends to do what she decides is best, disregarding others opinions unless they give her a good justification); and - weirdly enough - not a PoV character, which makes her nearly hermetic at times. Careful watching does show her being extremely smart, observant and intuitive in her decision making; but she's actually pretty bad at communicating straightforwardly, so I understand why watchers sometimes found her frustrating. She is a little bit overly perfect at times (as I said, she is an aspirational character rather than an identifying one) but I still found her interesting. My emotional interest, however, was mostly triggered by Rui, who is introduced a few episodes in, as a not-quite-antagonist character and who is very earnestly, very passionately believes in saving people but has a lot more obvious emotional weaknesses in the way he holds himself.
Uchouten Kazoku is not quite slice of life urban fantasy show set in Kyoto, adapted of the same novelist who did the also excellent Tatami Galaxy. It revolves around a family of Tanuki, 4 brothers and their mother, who are held as losers since the death of their father who was a pillar of the community. We especially follow the third brother, a laid back guy, as he takes care of his sensei, a bad tempered Tengu with a bad back, is teased to death by the human woman who learned magic from the Tengu, and deals with his family. It is gorgeous, with brilliant characterization, multi-layered relationships, wonderful storytelling, and great production value. It handles both comedy and emotionally poignant moments with brio. Can't think of any reason not to watch it. It did have a properly great conclusion, although it still made me yearn for more at the ending (there will be more novels but I don't think any ready for more animation anytime soon, sadly.) I don't have all that much to say about it, but it's just very, very good.
Of the Autumn shows I'm currently watching, there's mostly Kill La Kill (which is pretty insane in an over the top ridiculous way but also very clever and filled to the brink with political commentary IN A VERY WEIRD WAY. Also sexual objectification.) and Tokyo Ravens (a supernatural shounen series, in which I like most of the characters a lot but which isn't going anywhere yet in terms of plot and has annoying harem dynamics). Will have more to say about both once they'll be wrapped up. I also watched Samurai Flamenco for a while, but kinda got bored with it.
This year I also watched Sailor Moon S & R, which was wonderful. I did love Michiru and Haruka a lot. I also really loved Chibi Usa which I didn't think would be so hardcore as she turned out. That girl is wickedly brave and underhanded which is awesome. And also Hotaru! I had never really been told about Hotaru and her epic love story with Chibi Usa!!! There are a lot of hilarious quirky villains (runespoor decided that Eudial went off to work for Tony Stark after her apparent demise, which why not). It was funny to see all the... idiosyncrasies that I associate with Revolutionary Girl Utena appear more and more in episodes. I ended up a bit disappointed by the final for reasons which have more to do with reminding me of Magik's fate in Inferno (see my rant on it here). But overall, great stuff!! I dunno if I should watch the further seasons since as far as I've heard it all goes downhill from there.
I also watched Eden of East, a pretty weird political thriller series about an anmesia guy with a weird cellphone which holds money enough to fulfill all his wish as he's apparently taking part in a weird context to change Japan and the girl he meets who helps him out. That one has an interesting premise and some nice storytelling, and, at heart, a political critique that I didn't feel it really went far enough or consistent enough in order to tackle properly. A bit like Gatachaman CROWDS (which it suffers in comparison of) it talks of crowdsourcing and online communities pulling resources together as a source of positive change for the world, but actually felt pretty backward and anti-democratic in the way it tries to pull it through. Couldn't quite decide whether to be optimistic or cynical, I guess. Disappointing, although it's still a very interesting and mostly very well done anime.
For the most part, I did a lot of rewatch this years. I'm just listing them:
Kaleido Stars S2 + OAV
Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Seirei no Moribito
Towards the Terra
Hikaru no Go
Haven't posted in an eternity, have I? The sad thing is, it's not even because I'm using tumblr instead. Haven't been posting on that either. (I've still been reading my flist on LJ/DW though). I don't have much interesting news to talk about (there was that time when my computer broke down during the summer and I lost all my files of comics, manga & music as a result. Still trying to recover from that -_-;) but I figure I still might use the end-of-year-surveys to talk about all the media from this year I haven't said anything about. So what do you guys want me to start with? Anime, TV shows, comics, books, something else? (well if anyone's still interested after my long absence and everyone leaving journalling that is).
For the rules, here is the English version:
1. I'm going to comment to this post with a list of fandoms and/or pairings I feel like writing.
2. Reply to said comment with requests and a prompt, and I'll do my best to write something.
3. If you want to write as well, then post your own list of fandoms and/or pairings you're in
the mood to play with as a separate comment to this post--so that people can request
something from you!
4. Feel free to pimp to your flist! New blood is always welcome.
well, I loved it. Pretty awesome story. Pretty awesome characters. Pretty awesome themes & stuff. Pretty cool gameplay too in so far as I can judge (not exactly a video game expert ^^). Very much hit me in the feels.
I just love the depth that all the main characters have. Nobody’s just an archetype/trope; they are really well layered and thought out psychologically speaking (and also very appealing!!!). There’s also a lot of random cool minor characters like Chocolate and Kate and Linart and so on, which are very well realised as characters. Obviously the villains (at least the big ones, the Desian Cardinals are pretty threadthin) are also extremely well characterised and multi-layered. I do love how much the antagonists spend their time plotting & scheming against one in the background while the protagonists do their stuff XD (there were several moments where I was like: “should I draw a diagram or relationship map of the Desian&Cruxis&Renegate politicking?”) And how much the story overall had twists & betrayals & double agenting. Bet on rewatch there’s a lot of hilarious moments of “you know that I know that you know and meanwhile we’re pretending for everyone else”.
Thematically, I love a lot of the subtleties and nuances although I think they are also weakened by the flaws of world building (I don’t think the discrimination of Half-Elves is well established as part of the setting on Sylvarant; and you keep butting on the weirdness of the discrimination against Half Elves being THE thing while there’s barely any Elves around so you wonder where they come from…) but from the very beginning with the situation in Isolia and the Human Ranch they set up things as pretty complicated and nuanced as well as completely appalling. And they typically don’t take the easy way out in term of calling out any characters on the mistakes or over simplification they may do, I like that.
Idk, does that answer your questions and do you want answers to something else? I definitly don’t mind talking about ToS right now ^^
( thoughts on the main characters, pretty long )
Okay, first she made me play Batten Kaitos, which was also good and also swallowed my life. But TALES OF SYMPHONIA OMG THAT STUPID GAME THOSE STUPID CHARACTERS ZEFOHZFOFHZIEUGREIBYHCFYUIFHEIUR
CUTEST GAME EVER
And by "CUTEST" I mean in the way that CLAMP does cute and I am not speaking of Card Captor Sakura, okay? OKAY.
some reaction shots as I remember them, spoilered:
( probably won't make any sense to anyone but me and runespoor but maybe someone else would like to read it idk )
( norse mythology, marvel comics, the administration, death gate, book of the raksura, cyteen, amber, left hand of darkness, lion in winter, princess tutu, mad men,vorkosigan, revolutionary girl utena, dc comics )
Which brings my reading list to:
Journey into Mystery
Thor: God of Thunder
So far so good:
Age of Ultron
Guardians of the Galaxy
I'm not sure why I keep reading this but I am?:
Looking forward to:
X-Men is one of the hugest and often most confusing corner of the Marvel Universe. Therefore despite its popularity it can be hard to get into. I’m hardly the most well read X-Men fan ever – yet – but I’ll try my best to give some pointers.
pick one of my fandoms (or three, or five ;) and i will tell you:
1. my favourite character and how i FEEEEL about them:
2. the character i never expected to love this much:
3. the character everyone else loves that i don't:
4. the character i love that no one else does:
5. my absolute most favourite pairing EVER:
6. the immensely popular pairing that i just don't get/like:
7. the pairing i didn't even think of at first but have been convinced of (and how):
8. my favourite non-romantic (/non-sexual) pairing/relationship is:
9. the character i am most like is:
10. the one thing i really really really really wish would happen (or had happened) in canon is:
11. a random au idea i'd love to see in fic (and plan to write? wish someone else would write?):
12: my personal headcanon includes:
13: my deep, dark fandom secret is:
and because thirteen could be an unlucky number to end on...
14: i am actually secretly the creator of this fandom! mwahahaha! and i am about to tell you something shocking/ awesome/ baffling/ behind-the-scenes-ish /unbelievable /spoilery /insert-adjective-of-choice-here:
( Read more... )
And also other stuff but they were part of discussions so I don't really feel like reposting them.
Second, short meta/rant I wrote on tumblr about the events regarding Daken at the end of Remender's Uncanny X-Force
( spoilers for UXF's final )
And third, I wrote a review for the first six issues of All New X-Men over on comics_reviews_etc
ANXM (has been solidly entertaining despite flaws of voice & characterisation (and continuity))
Journey into Mystery
Thor: God of Thunder
So far so good:
Looking forward to:
I've also caught up with vol 4-6 of Black Rose Alice, and while I love, it is very very id ficcy.
I also read the second volume of Brides Story, and it's still ridiculously good and gorgeous. Lots of wonderful silent panels that are so expressive and they went and OMG the scenes about the embroidery motives transmitted through generation *GUSH* I kind of love that the author sort of apologises in the annex about fan service. Oh, Kaoru Mori, here, you have my express permission to put in as many female naked bodies in anything you do as you want. Srsly she draws the best naked female bodies ever.
It's a decent story (though the person who decided on the font of the first few pages should be shot), but not as good as what I was hoping. It lacks something, I dunno, some sort of twist to truly make it a story. It's all too predictable.
So I did go a read Stumptown (it's shorter than Q&G), at least the first one (is the second a mini too? I think I'll wait for it to be over to read it); and it's brilliant. Don't have much to say beyond that ^^
Did I mention reading the recently finished run of New Mutants yet? I don't see it in this thread so I assume not. I remember the first time I tried it, while I was starting to get into Marvel, and I was confused and had a hard time getting into it. Man, it is so much better when you already know and like the characters!! Wells' run overall is excellent, very strong and focussed and epic. DnA's has a much more hazier sense of plot and characterisation although it does also have good moments (at least they did try to develop Cypher past bringing him back even if some of those development were weird and still lacking the answer to the question "did anybody bother telling his parents he's not longer dead?"). Some very random shipping though.
Also I read the first volume of Peter Madsens' Valhalla which is... hmm, less good than I was expecting? A bit too much of the sort of humour I don't care much for; but still good and funny.
Iron Man - Armor Wars
Solid enough story, but not very engaging. I think I might just have to give up on Iron Man and stick to fanfics when it comes to him.
Himitsu: the Revelation v5-9
So long since I'm catching up with this one. As always the stories are very good in all their dark & morbid glories (and the storytelling so much more understated than the animated adaptation, what a relief!), with some very fine tension and horror. I'm struck by how much more slashy than I remembered it is though. And somewhat surprised that I don't remember any of the stories from the anime, I guess they made up quite a few.
Also Captain America & Black Widow which was pretty good, if a little bit... quick? I dunno, not everything was, but sometimes it skipped forward in time in a way that felt a bit off. Anyway good characterizations and good use of alternate universe and alternate characters.
I think I ended up shipping evil!Natasha with the person she was working for ^^
Emperor Doom, brilliant in a tragi-comic way and loads of fun.
Super Villain team-up 1-4 (The one with Namor & Doom)
Loads of fun! Those two are so cute together.
Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph & Torment
Holy shit that was good. Gorgeous art, gorgeous storytelling, brilliant characterisation. A beautiful bittersweet tragedy lacking the usual comedic tone that Doom's usually got but without trading them for lack of clarity.
The only thing I disliked was the way all the multicultural magicians were made to look like fools and then fawning all over Strange.
Anyway I ended up posting some scans & commentary of this one on tumblr if anyone's interested: http://demoiselledefortune.tumblr.co...p
But there was also some new to me stuff:
Puella Magica Madoka
A deconstructive and dark take on Magical Girls, in a very Faustian way. ( Read more... )
Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha
Magical Girl meets Science Fiction seinen, with friending everyone for greater justice and also overwhelming weaponry.
( Read more... )
Sailor Moon S1
With a skip-the-filler rec list. I was a little bit bored with it at the beginning although it was cute and funny; but it really gets into its groove by the second arc and then you get really attached to the characters and the story and the emotional moment and you realise why it's so iconic a series for so many people.
Both runespoor and I turned into very big fan of Zoisite.
Oban Star Racer
Actually a French cartoon, albeit one with a lot of anime like visual style and genre convention ;)
A Science Fiction racing pod series about a young girl who wants to connect back with her abandoning asshole of a father who gets thrust as a result into the big racing game that will determine the geopolitical balance of the whole Galaxy for the next 10,000 years and thus could save the earth from the evil aliens who'd like to conquer it.
( Read more... )
On my own I watched:
Chihayafuru: An anime series of this year, about a girl trying to found a club for the obscure Japanese card game of Karita that's she's passionate about, along with her unlucky childhood friend.
( Read more... )
The House of the Eliotts S1 & a good 2/3 of S2
So somewhere on failfandom_anon I saw someone saying they couldn't get into Downton Abbey because they kept hoping for it to be House of the Eliotts. Since my own watching of Downton Abbey I kept hoping for it to be something else, I thought perhaps I could enjoy this more.
And it is very good. It's certainly much less sentimental than Downton Abbey (which is what I hate most about that series), and while it is still pretty soappy at times, it doesn't feel like it goes completely unbelievable (yet).
It's a Brittish series from the '90s. The story is set in the '20s, and focusses on two upper middle class young women as their controlling and overly forbidding father has just died and they have to find out how to live on their own, and finally enjoy their freedom, and set up a fashion house. It's really great in term of development of female characters and their relationships.
I don't think they handle class issues any better than Downton Abbey does, though, and possibly worse; though they get more into that in the second season and I'm curious to see where it'll lead.
An American buddy private detective show set in San Diego. Excellently well done, a shame it only had one season before cancellation. One of the main character is a recovering Alcoholic who lost his job as a cop and had his marriage broken by his addiction; the other is a former thief.
( Read more... )
X-Men Evolution S4
And I finally finished the last season. Had some difficulty with that because I was really getting sick of the bad characterisation of some characters and mishandling of the X-Men themes by the end. Not only did they mess up with Magneto, Pietro, Wanda, Storm and Mystique, but they also managed to fuck up with Gabby and Legion at which point there is just no forgiveness.
The second season will remain my favourite part of the series.
And for the anime series I watched this Autumn season:
Kami-sama Kiss: A very cute romcom about a young highschool girl who just lost her home due to eviction who becomes the new God of the Land (despite being human) at a local shrine, and then has to deal with her new temple familiar, a bad tempered, acidic tongued wild fox.
( Read more... )
K (may have a second season somewhere down the line): A urban fantasy series revolving around two magical groups skirmiching against one another - one is a gang, the other are rules-bound and uniforms-clad - the mysterious young happy-go-lucky student who may or may not be evil (spoiler alert: he turns out to be a Nazi scientist, but a nice one. Bet you didn't see that coming. Yeah, I'm spoiling you guys because I don't think people want to watch series where the protagonist turns out to be a Nazi scientist, surprise!, especially a nice one) and the samurai who is looking for him in order to kill him (if he is evil).
( Read more... )
Zetsuen no Tempest (still on going): This one revolves around two highschool student who are childhood friend, one is a reckless, selfish hotheaded, and the other - our viewpoint character - is more levelheaded and somewhat manipulative; as they get involved into a big epic magical showdown that involves Lovecraftian fruits turning whole cities' populations into metal and a Magical Princess exiled on a desert island communicating with out protagonist with a "voodoo" doll. Also there was the hotheaded's sister who died a year ago, and his resulting quest for vengeance, and our protagonist hiding a key fact to him about his relationship with the sister. Oh, and, also, there are a lot of Shaekspeare quotes. Especially Hamlet and the Tempest (at some point our protagonist actually muses that he's trying to shift the story from being Hamlet into being The Tempest, with a happy ending).
( Read more... )
Psycho Pass (still on going): A distopic cyberpunk series about cops in a society where everyone's Psychological status is constantly monitored for the sake of determining if they're a potential criminal (or, for that matter, to determine what's the best life for them), with a fresh new cop who is a young, idealist, supposedly very smart woman, and one of her subaltern, belonging to the group of the Potential Criminals who do the actual investigation in cases.
( Read more... )
From the New World (still on going): Another distopic SF story, this one about the society a thousand years from current days, that exist in a world where humans develop telekinetic power. It follows a group of children as they are educated and socialised in a very agricultural and seemingly peaceful world, but where they are taught to fear all sorts of creatures on the outside, as well as the possibility to turn into demons. As they grow up, they find out a lot more about their world and the terrible secrets it hides.
( Read more... )
Stuff like that I realise I'm such a crappy sick person; it was only a cold though a rather unpleasant one and yet I was completely self indulgent about my "feeling too sick to do any shit" mood. Tsk.
So yeah, this has been a personal post. I haven't done one of those in...... whoooff! At least! How are you guys doing anyway?
Havemercy, Shadow Magic, Dragon Soul, Steelhands by Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett
A series of fantasy novels with steampunk dragons by the authors of the shoebox project.
Those are very average stories. The writing is fluid enough and the characters endearing enough that it is enjoyable to read; but the plots and worldbuilding are seriously lacking. It gives me the impression of treading water, all shallow glitter, no depth. Especially it's frustrating how most of the books are made of entertaining and sometimes witty characters interacting with characters in a slashy or canon gay way; and then oh shit, we need to have a climax; let's go with a rushed plot resolution! Most characters have very little agency; and even when they do, it doesn't feel very earned by the progress of the story. Quite aggravating after a while.
There's also very few female characters. And a maab character presenting as female whom the narrative is very unclear whether they are trans or a crossdresser.
The dragons - in themselves - are pretty neat, but they are the only details of world building that actually are. I also liked that the big war was ended in the first volume; and the rest were stories dealing with the aftermath of said war. There are not enough books dealing with aftermaths.
Roman Blood, Arms of Nemesis, House of the Vestals, A Gladiator Dies Only Once, Catilina's Riddle, Venus Throw, Murder on the Appian Way, Rubicon, Last Seen in Massilia by Steven Saylor
A series of Murder Mysteries set in the latter days of the Roman Republic.
I've been enjoying those a lot. Very solid storytelling and characterizations; that really manages to set the world of antique Rome and the complex mix of quasi modern urban life and completely foreign thinking that was the norm then. Murder mysteries are a great way to explore that world - and its politics - although it feels like it tries too hard to showcase the important historical events in ways that make the plot suffer from times to times. Though with the importance of corruption and muddled morality, some of the stories take an almost Noir atmosphere which is very interesting to see in this setting. I also appreciate the sense of sensuality in the writing - details like cooking and sexual appeal being underlined very frequently (and in a very bisexual way).
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance by Lois McMaster Buhold
Bujold's book about Ivan, at last!
I was... a little bit disappointed with it? I enjoyed reading it a lot; there was a lot of fun bits to it, and it developed a lot of my favorite characters, not only Ivan, but By, Duv, Alys, Illyan... but it had a very... soft middle. Very mellow and lacking in plot. And the eventual plot resolution was a little bit silly. And I resented its Fruits Basket syndrome (happy het ending for EVERYONE! I mean, not that I wasn't expecting Ivan/By seriously, or that I mind By being bi in itself; but going out of your way to have him bi and set up in a het romance when most of the major characters in the series have already ended up in het couples was... pushing it to an uncomfortable point.) Tej was pretty endearing, and the whole In Law thing rather hilarious in execution. And OMG, the fan teasing, THE FAN TEASING!
Iorich by Steven Brust
You know, I'm not sure what's wrong with me and Vlad Taltos bookss. I read them and I enjoy them, and two months after, let alone 6, I have absolutely no memory about what happened in them.
Oh wait, was it the one with Aliera being accused and Vlad having to play lawyer? Yeah, I think it was.
Yeah, it was cool.
Man, I'm the absolute worst at reviewing Brust's books.
Spy Hill by Dusk Peterson
A war story/gay romance novella. It was okay I guess? Except like most Peterson stories it has that undertone of preachiness with is irritating.
Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
Third book in the Rivers of London series. Continues being very cool, very well written and atmospheric urban fantasy. The metaplot advancement is slow, but continues. Not much else to say.
Fer de Lance by Rex Stout
So I tried reading a Nero Wolfe book, and so, I was a little bit bored? Not bad, just not really anything to grab my attention.
Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones
Neglected adopted kid liberates "Luke" from his magical prison and he becomes his BFF but shit, now "Luke" 's family is coming to try to get him.
Awesome, utterly charming story. Loved the narrator and how ressourceful he was, this is a delightful, extremely charming as well as dangerous version of Loki; but I especially want to hit this book with most writers - fan or pro - of comics Asgard stuff to tell them "THIS IS HOW YOU WRITE ODIN KAY?" ♥
(poor Tyr, tho).
Snake Agent & The Demon and the City by Liz Williams
Those are... somewhere between urban fantasy and magical realism (perhaps with a dash of cyberpunk too) crime novels set in Singapour. Very neat atmosphere and world building, filled with rich details and Chinese mythologies. The characters are pretty neat so far, although I'm very unsure about the treatment of the female characters (lots of threats of rape and being sold into sexual slavery - at a cosmic level, since hell - which is a big part of the setting - has a lot of brothels) and of the portrayal of lesbian relationships in the second novel. I think I need to read the two other novels of this series before I say more...
A Night in the Lonesome October by Zelazny
The players and their animal familiars gather, to take part once more in the ritual that will or will not open the doors to Cthullian creatures. Seen from the pov of one of the animal familiar.
That novel is still as awesome as I remember it. Very fun and quirky.
The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson
A Heian era fairy tale rewriting about a fox falling in love with a man, and how far she'll go to try to seduce him.
This is a lovely story, with great writing and wonderful bittersweet nuances in characterizations, somewhere between a romance and... something else? Not sure exactly how to describe it, but in many ways it felt much more like a literary novel than a genre one.
Keeper by Greg Rucka
A noir/crime stories about a bodyguard hired to protect a doctor working at an woman's health clinic as she recieves a lot of threats from a Pro Life movement.
I thought I might as well what prose works Greg Rucka has done, and... well actually I found it not very much to my taste. It's a solid story and certainly well told; but I think it lacks what I like in crime stories (the exploration of a peculiar setting) too much for me to really enjoy.
Oh, also, I reread the Administration series, and it is still the best.