asakiyume: (Em reading)
I’ve finished reading It Happened at the Ball—very interesting to see the directions the stories took the theme.

I have to start with Sherwood Smith’s story, which is the crowning jewl of the collection. It’s a novella, which means you can really sink into the place, the characters, and the situations. If you’re familiar with Sherwood’s Sartorias-deles world, this story shows how Colend became its own nation—but if you’re not familiar, no worries at all. This story is completely comprehensible on its own.

The situation: A great ball is being held; all the nobility of the region will be at it. Warriors from an aggressive bordering state are also in the city, on a pretext of being interested in trade but actually planning an attack. They, too, are invited to the ball—what will happen?

The genius of the story is in the characters, especially the intelligent, charismatic, and above all kind protagonist, Martande Lirende. It is a delight to watch him defuse situations, deflect unwanted attention, and engage enemies without spilling blood (blood does get spilled, but not on screen). Here, for example, is how he reacts when a noblewoman he’s dancing with makes fun of the looks of the king:
“Prince Fish Face. Now the king. Surely you know that [name for him]. Everyone in the first circle says it.”

“Ah, but I find him beautiful,” Martande said.

Luor slanted a glance of derision, assuming shared mockery, to smack into a wall of sincere

“Beautiful,” she repeated, the exclamation half question. “I’ve seen him, when my mother presented me at court. He cannot have changed so materially in ten years.”

He lifted a shoulder as they dipped, turned, and met palm to palm again, toes pointed, shoulders back. “We know the word beautiful,” he said in that tone of calm sincerity, “but I expect we all define it differently. For me, that which delights my heart is beautiful, and King Eniad, in all his painstaking doubt and generosity of spirit, is beautiful.”

But it’s not just Martande whom we get an intimate feel for: it’s pretty much any character who steps onto the page--the elderly (female) Count of Ranflar, tasked with dancing with the warlord Rajin; the warlord himself, whose misreading of the ballroom is an object lesson in cultural blindness; Messenger Yedoc, struggling to express herself in a language she can’t speak well; even little Gelis, a child:
“Everything was fascinating! Even the older people. Usually so boring. It was strange, how expressive elders were when you couldn’t see their faces. ”

Seriously: even if you didn’t like any of the other stories in the anthology, it would be worth it for this one tale.

But I suspect you'll find things to like in the other stories--each has something unusual or interesting to recommend it.

the other stories )

And that’s all of them!
asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
Regret, sorrow, obsession, and yearning are so present in Forget the Sleepless Shores that it’s almost like they’re main characters. The human (and otherworldly) protagonists caught in their clutches often find words failing them—so light must speak, or clouds, or objects, or landscapes, but most of all, bodies must speak, skin to skin, sweat to sweat, intermingled breath, hands tangling in hair or gripping wrists. It’s sensuousness with an incandescent filament of the erotic threading through it, surrounded by the glowing unknowable.

Read more... )

The collection hits the marketplace tomorrow. That means you can still be ahead of the game and preorder now—here’s an Amazon link. Or, if you prefer, you can check out the book’s page at Lethe Press, the publisher.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
Look at this! I'm doing a Wednesday reading meme!

I'm reading Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning (Amusingly, for the first few days I kept thinking of as Nothing Like the Lightning. My brain was in opposite land, clearly). I started it because of Puddleshark's answer to my question about hopeful futures (and because I'd read interesting reviews of it, and Puddleshark's comment reminded me of that).

What an intriguing, absorbing book. I'm equal parts enjoying it and arguing with it (but I enjoy the arguing). I feel like a cat circling something new in its environment, fascinated, but also hissing.

There was a big reveal regarding awful crimes in the middle of the book, and it genuinely shocked and unnerved me. Maybe it was because I read it at night, but even as part of my brain was laughing nervously (because the awfulness was larded on so thick) another part of me was gasping like a fish.

And then it sort of became a problem for me, not because of delicate sensibilities but because--how can I put it without spoilers--the crimes (and other things hinted at) seem to indicate an upcoming focus that not only isn't to my tastes but that I think is a real will-o'-the-wisp that writers should avoid chasing. Except that (a) I think I'm manifestly wrong: many people are equally fascinated by this will-o'-the-wisp; in fact, I'm the odd person out for thinking of it as a phantasm, and (b), maybe possibly the plot will escape that black-hole pull. But I doubt it. Although I hadn't been spoiled for the big reveal, I do know about some upcoming plot elements that lead me to believe that I shouldn't hold out hope for (b).

All the same. Quite fascinating, with lots of memorable lines. Today's:

It was the kind of anger we create to mask our guilt.

I'm also reading an ARC of [personal profile] sovay's short-story collection. Wow. I'm two-thirds through it, and it is breathtaking. I suspect everyone who reads me also reads [personal profile] sovay and knows Sovay is a person of penetrating insights and breathtaking turns of phrase. The stories are intense and mesmerizing.

These two quotes, from a story that will be new to the world with this anthology:

Her long arms were tangled with tattoos

And this:

Perhaps he could ... leave, finally, the city that had always felt like home in the same way that his parents had felt like family, demanding, endurable, unchosen.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
The fourth and last of Jennifer Montgomery's wonderful coffee shop romances is out, Iced Coffee Dreams, starring Wynne (short for Eowyn--her parents are die-hard Tolkien fans), who's working part-time at Campus Coffee over the summer. She has dreams of opening her own cafe one day, but she's prone to anxiety ... and she finds it impossible to say no to problem-customer Shannon, who comes in all too often with a "Hey girl, hey," and a request for extra caramel, milk on the side, an extra punch to her loyalty card--you get the picture. If she can't handle Shannon, will she ever be able to manage a cafe on her own?

Enter coworker Parker, who's reserved, but friendly. In fact, he seems to want to spend time with Wynne. He's interested in her dreams and has ideas for how to build her confidence.

All the details in this story are just perfect. Every time Wynne imagines a different type of cafe, I was thinking, "Yes, I want to go there." (Traveling pop-up cafe? Check. Garden cafe in an actual garden? Check! hot-air-balloon cafe? Ooh, Check! Tree house cafe? Check check check! I definitely want to go to that one.)

And then there was the moment when Wynne's friend Kayleen describes what she expected Indiana to be like:
“Infinite corn, bonfire parties, two boys in a mud-spattered truck give us a lift to the ol’ swimming hole where we all drink beer out of red Solo cups while dancing in the headlights of a circle of pick-ups,” Kayleen said.

“Gosh,” Wynne said, all false innocence, “You must have listened to a lot of country music to come up with a list like that.”

“It’s not my fault,” Kayleen said. “My mom played it all the time.”

This is a sweet romance, where the pleasure is in watching the characters get to know each other and watching Wynne learn to face tricky situations successfully. The characters are all **very** likable and relatable--it's very fun to spend some time in summer with them, and RIGHT NOW in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway is precisely the story's setting--long, hot summer.

Highly recommended!
asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
Briarley retells the story of Beauty and the Beast, imagining what might happen if Beauty’s father was man enough not to let his daughter sacrifice herself for him. Instead, he stays in her place.

In this retelling, it’s World War II, and the father is a parson who’s also a veteran of the Great War, and the beast takes the form of a dragon.

You know this is going to be a different type of retelling by the parson’s initial reaction to the dragon’s dilemma:
“The curse says you must learn to love and be loved, does it not? Those are the only conditions?” The dragon nodded, his head still buried in his hands. The parson broke a piece off a roll and buttered it. “Then I suggest you get a puppy,” he said.

Nor is this mere flippancy: “I have seen shell-shocked soldiers make great, great strides when they are given charge of a dog,” he says, and adds,
“A dog is a more loving creature than man. All the things that we wish we were, dogs are: loyal, faithful, loving, and cheerful in the face of adversity.

And that’s the type of story this is: the parson musing on the nature of love, different types of love, in the company of the dragon, who’s at first haughty, vain, capricious, and entitled, but gradually becomes… well, somewhat less so. Gray resists the easy out of a dramatic personality transformation—the emotional equivalent of taking off the glasses and having a character become suddenly gorgeous. Real people are beloved despite being prickly and short tempered. In this story, the parson has reasons for feeling both deep pity for and a deep attachment to the young man that the dragon once was.

The two talk not only about love, but also morality, vindictiveness, compassion—so much. And lest I’ve made it sound like some kind of milk-soaked graham cracker of a story, let me quickly also add that it’s **funny** too, as when the dragon and the parson have this exchange:
“That’s not how you learn to love, not at all. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it does not kidnap – ”

“You’re misquoting,” the dragon interrupted. “Paul doesn’t say anything about kidnapping.”
The parson replies, “I believe the injunction against kidnapping is implied by all the rest of it.”

It’s an original, moving, surprising story—I highly recommend it. It's available on Amazon here.
asakiyume: (glowing grass)
I read Semiosis because, like Children of Time, it promised to deal with alien intelligences—and it did: several, in fact. But where it really spoke to the other book, where I sense a zeitgeist thing maybe going on, was in how it raised and dealt with the questions of violence and free will. Lest that makes it sound too much like a philosophy or ethics treatise, let me quickly add that it’s also absorbing, imaginative, occasionally horrific, and occasionally hilarious. It kept me hooked even through moments where I had grave doubts, and I felt the end was well worth it.

Read more... )
asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)
I finished this and was deeply satisfied by it. I was in tears at the end! What a creative, compassionate well-constructed story.

What I really want to do is gloat about figuring out how the story would end, but I can't do that without spoiling it for people who are reading it or who might want to read it, and I have to say, I really enjoyed figuring things out on my own, and I want other people to have that pleasure too. So here's a link to my Goodreads review, which hides talk about the outcome under a spoiler cut.

It's really all that science fiction can be--this is why I like science fiction!

... And from a craft perspective, I really liked how Tchaikovsky seeded the story so that what bore fruit made sense: nothing happened that wasn't set up. Lots of webs of connection ;-)

I had quibbles about some things--at times some of the human characters' behavior was a bit bewildering to me--but those just fade away before my pleasure in the overall book.
asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)
I loved it! Here's a non-spoilery review (duplicates what I've put up at Goodreads)

The book's called Provenance, and it's a perfect title, because where things--or people--come from and what (who) they really are is a central theme. The main character, Ingray, is the daughter of a powerful politician from the Hwae system--only actually she's a child from a public crèche, and that sense of her own insignificant roots weighs heavily on her and affects her actions. Hwae society is very wrapped up in what they call vestiges, a term that indicates everything from historical artifacts to personal mementos and souvenirs (one thing that Ann Leckie is excellent at is strange-ifying things--like museums or the importance of artifacts--to reveal stuff about human nature), but what if foundational vestiges are false? The two people Ingray first interacts with are also of mysterious provenance, and their claimed identities change.

In terms of story, there are multiple plots and schemes interacting, from the very personal (Ingray's competition with her brother) to the statewide (Ingray's family is in competition with another family for influence) to the regional planetary (a neighboring federacy wants to manipulate or pressure Hwae into granting it certain concessions that will work to its advantage in the region) to the galactic (the treaty with alien species, which *no* one wants broken, but which is at constant risk).

Ingray is a **very** different protagonist from Breq (from the Imperial Radch trilogy--Ancillary Justice etc.): she's not superhuman in the least, and that makes her bravery extra-impressive ... and very persuasive. When you see her doing things she's terrified of doing but that she feels she has to do to for the sake of people she cares about, it's inspiring! Makes you believe maybe you could too. Not that that's what the book's aiming for, but it's a great side benefit.

And there's humor threaded through the book, whether it's the fact that "compassionate removal" is the Hwaen euphemism for prison or the fact that the Radchaai ambassador to the Presger just can't keep pronouns straight. There are also some uproarious examples of insufficient machine translation.

And some really marvelous aliens. Folks, you will love the Geck ambassador. She's just wonderful.

I'll mention a couple of things I was less enthusiastic about just to acknowledge that they were present: there was a budding romance for Ingray that felt unnecessary and a bit shoehorned in: the object of affection was an interesting person who did bring out the best in Ingray at some key moments, and I could see how *in time* affection/romance might bloom, but Ingray's attention--rightly--was completely elsewhere most of the time, so.

There's also a lot of explaining that goes on. I didn't mind this exactly--I think it's good to make stuff clear to your readers--But sometimes I felt that the level and wide-rangingness of the discussion wasn't credible for a situation. In the end, though, I decided to accept it as an artistic choice, like accepting in a detective story when the detective gathers all the suspects in a room at the end to go over what happened. It was a conscious decision, though.

But let me get back to my main point. This is an excellent, immersive, surprising, fun, thought-provoking, and moving book. Highly recommended.
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
The ending of this show was intensely satisfying and mainly (maybe not entirely) realistic. Thinking back over the entire story arc and all the characters, I do have a few criticisms, but mainly so much love and so much admiration for the storycraft and the character development. It would be an excellent show to use with kids to get them thinking about how characters grow and change (and why this is important) and what motivations are--but beyond all that, it's so engaging!

My main criticism was that the main conflict for Belky, the protagonist, gets sorted out three-fourths of the way through the show, and then, rather than simply focusing on remaining conflicts/difficulties, which are not as high-color but very important (things about how she relates with her boyfriend and her family--that sort of thing), a whole new existential threat is introduced, one that's kind of cheap and tired compared with everything else in the show. Furthermore, it involves Belky, who's generally wary and mistrustful, trusting a simply odious character, and while the show's at pains to show how that character wins her trust, it still just doesn't seem likely. And, it's very hard to focus on the very interesting stories of the side characters when there's this existential threat hanging over Belky. I would have been happier without that storyline, honestly.

BUT STILL. The remaining storylines develop the main supporting characters wonderfully. People make bad decisions for good reasons and then have to extricate themselves. People have to take emotional risks, and it isn't easy. There are lots of excellent heart-to-heart conversations.

And the show is really progressive, too: there's a young lawyer who's wheelchair bound who gets to be heroic and who gets a happily ever after: he's just the right person for the woman he ends up with. There's a gay guy who's portrayed as an accomplished, brave, smart person, who's always wanted to be a father and is able to co-parent with a single mother, while maintaining his romantic life separately. Belky has a moving conversation with the older of her two younger sisters about becoming sexually active and making it be about her choice and not something she's pressured into. Public, pressureful marriage proposals and apologies are shown to be NOT A GOOD IDEA.

And more and more--but this is enough for now. Gotta get back to the day's tasks.
asakiyume: (glowing grass)

The 2014 British series detectorists, about a pair of middle-aged men who search the countryside for ancient treasures, is idiosyncratic and wonderful. [ profile] wakanomori and I finished watching it a few weeks ago (it only has about 13 episodes), and I've been thinking about it ever since. It's low-key in every aspect, but indelible.

It's cinematographically beautiful: as the credits roll, close-ups of meadow flowers and insects haloed in sunlight alternate with long views of the English countryside, while Johnny Flynn sings, "Will you search the lonely earth for me / climb through the briar and the bramble / I'll be your treasure ... I'm waiting for you" (It's a beautiful song; you can hear it in its entirety here.) That tenderness of gaze is extended to the characters, too, people who would be unremarkable extras in almost any other story, but this show is about digging for what's underneath, and when you live with the characters for 13 episodes, you become really fond of them.

In the first scene of the opening episode, the two main characters, Lance and Andy, are out detecting in a field (the instrument you use when you're detecting is called a metal detector, but the people wielding it are known--at least in their own circle--as detectorists, hence the series title), and Lance finds a ring-pull from a can. He puts it in a plastic baggie with others like it. Andy asks, "What you do with them?" and Lance replies, "Pack 'em up, stick 'em on ebay. People buy this shit." "Sad tits," Andy remarks, and Lance says, "You said it." --got that? The guys who spend their spare time digging up ring-pulls are disparaging the folks who would purchase a ring-pull. I hasten to add that despite those remarks, the two are very good-hearted. But that juxtaposition is an example of the show's humor (though there's also more obvious humor).

Andy on the left, Lance on the right

From there ... small-potatoes stuff just happens, but it ends up being entirely engrossing. They confront rival detectorists who bear an uncanny resemblance to Simon and Garfunkle ...

... They get permission to detect on the land of Mr. Bishop, an eccentric who has a collection of rambunctious dogs that no one but he can see ...

and so on.

The one character I wasn't happy about at first was Andy's girlfriend Becky, who's completely uninterested in Andy's detecting hobby and who, when we first meet her, mocks him in a way that we're supposed to read as affectionate (I think), but which put me off. But eventually she grew on me, especially when she started helping them look for the location of a Saxon ship burial, and there were scenes that persuaded me that she really did love Andy. Their relationship still isn't one **I'd** want to have, but I was able to believe in it as one that was satisfying for **them**.

As for the minor characters, they were all golden, truly.

I also liked learning some detectorist lingo: "can slaw" for cans that have been shredded by agricultural machinery, "BOAT" (bit off a tractor) and "POACH" (piece of a combine harvester)--all things you might find while detecting in a field.

So, if you want something low-key, humorous, and beautiful to look at, you might give detectorists a try. (Here's a trailer for it. It's available on streaming Netflix.)
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

Now that we have Apple TV, we can watch Netflix on our TV, which is great, as we don't have cable. We've watched a few series and tried others, and we're getting pretty good at the quick reject. Below are three we rejected, plus two we're currently watching.

Travelers--quick reject No, change of plans! We're going to give it a chance.

This came highly recommended, and since I've liked other things the recommending friend has suggested, I'm willing to bet that the storyline is good, but it had the violence turned up to high within the first ten minutes. When we watched Continuum, each show had to have its five minutes or so of kicking and punching, and we put up with it, like we put up with the gross-out body horror stuff in Fringe, but when you *open* with vicious violence, that probably means it's going to be embroidered throughout the entire show, rather than making an obligatory appearance once or twice per show. You're signaling to viewers what your show will have. Therefore, not for us.

ETA: All that was true, but when Little Springtime joined [ profile] littlemoremasks in inhaling it, we decided to give it another try, and at the end of the first episode, we're feeling much better about it.

The OA--quick reject

Started out okay--a blind woman who disappeared from her home as an adolescent is rediscovered--with her sight restored--after she apparently tries to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. AND WHAT ARE THOSE SCARS ON HER SHOULDERS COULD SHE MAYBE BE AN ANGEL??? That seemed to be the working premise for the first half of the first episode: she looks Deep Into The Soul of the drug-selling golden-haired bully boy who lives near her and later pop-psychology-heals his burned-out teacher. She needs five agile, strong, able-bodied folks to help her perform a ceremony that will let her return to ... something. The bully and three of his pals show up--and then the teacher (who doesn't seem at all agile, but details, details), so the ceremony can begin. BUT FIRST LET ME TELL YOU MY STORY the woman says, and suddenly we're embarked on a long, involved backstory involving a Russian kleptocrat father (turns out our heroine is adopted) and visions and a neglectful auntie and .... too much. My engagement plummeted as the baroqueness of the main character's backstory skyrocketed. For his part, [ profile] wakanomori was put off by the bully character. So, not quite as quick a reject as Travelers (we watched the whole episode), but still: a no-go.

Sense8--quick reject

I liked the pun in the title and the title graphics--how are those for criteria for trying something? But the opening scene was shot with a purple/blue filter and was sexy-vampire-types making out--just not a scenario that interests either me or [ profile] wakanomori. (This was the quickest reject of the three, as we didn't even watch to the end of the first scene.)

3%--Hey Mikey! We like it!

This is a Netflix original series made in Brazil, with a Brazilian cast. It has a Hunger Games premise: most of the world (? Or Brazil?) in the future live in squalor, but if you've been registered at birth, then when you turn 20 you can undergo "the process"--a series of tests. Three percent will succeed and be allowed to go to the blissful, almost mythical "offshore." The rest return to squalor.

First, it's just such a pleasure to see a cast of non-Hollywood faces, many of them people of color. It's a treat for the eyes. They're all beautiful (young people are pretty much always beautiful), but refreshingly unretouched. And the storytelling is good. We've watched three episodes. Each one has focused on one of a cohort of young people who are going through the process together. All of them have secrets, have done things they regret. Several have cheated or betrayed someone to stay in the process--but those same have also helped out others. There's a guy in a wheelchair who's more than an object of pity or inspiration. After so many shows where you can predict who's going to say what, with what outcome, it's refreshing to watch one where the details are unusual and (some of the) twists are unpredictable. The overseer has secrets of his own, and an auditor has been brought in to see how he's running things. It's gripping! This review has it right: "3%'s ability to captivate relies on both acting and storytelling, and succeeds on both counts."

But set your watching preferences for subtitles, because the dubbing is *very* stilted. (It's a tribute to how good the show is that we were putting up with the dubbing. Now that we've figured out how to get subtitles, we're going to enjoy hearing the actors' own voices.)

Atelier--Hey Mikey! We like it

This is a Japanese show (this one automatically had subtitles rather than dubbing--yay! This allows us to keep up with our Japanese) about a recent college graduate, Mayu, who goes to work for a designer-manufacturer of custom-made lingerie. I feared there was going to be lots of sexist how-important-beauty-is-for-a-woman talk--there was some of that in the first episode--and lots of male-gaze-y stuff, but on the contrary, discussions about beauty and style end up a lot more nuanced. The main character is more than just a pretty face--she works very hard, apologizes a whole lot, but also stands her ground and asks questions. You get discussion of business principles and markets, and about, well, underwear. The side characters are all interesting and likable. We've watched three episodes of this, too, and really enjoy it.

Have you seen any of these shows? Maybe you had a different experience with one of the quick-reject ones? Any of you seen the other two? What things are you enjoying (if anything) on the small screen these days?
asakiyume: (Em reading)

First Thing
I think many of my friends can identify with aspects of this cake-making (and life-living) experience:

There are only two things I really care about: impressing people and death sugar. Baking involves both of those things and I derive a lot of--what's the approximation of joy for a person who obsessively competes with others? Whatever that is, that's the thing I get from it.

But I'm also really impatient, not exactly a character trait compatible with baking. I don't wait for the oven to pre-heat. I don't wait for cakes to cool before I frost them. I don't even really have the patience for meringue to whip up properly. But damn if I'll let that stop me from getting ambitious when it comes to people's birthdays. Read more here

I especially like the fact that this cake has bees in it. I'm be-caked with bee cake.

Second Thing
A new StoryBundle collection of fantasy titles, all of whom are winners in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off. More than 250 indie writers sent in books (not me; I'm busy working on the next book), which were divided among 10 reviewers. Each reviewer chose one favorite title--and the result is this StoryBundle.

Third Thing
Rosarium Publishing, which brought us The SEA Is Ours (a collection of Southeast Asian steampunk) and Carlos Hernandez's The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria (such a great title), is raising money via Indiegogo. And CSE Cooney did this wonderful video blog post about their books.

asakiyume: (misty trees)
The Dubious Hills is mysterious, powerful, paradoxical story. It’s both very small (milk pans left outside, dogs sleeping on a doorstep, planting beans while school’s out) and very, very big (the nature of knowledge, pain, and freedom and compulsion). It’s a story that directly addresses philosophical questions while at the same time making you remember what it’s like to be five years old (or live with a five-year-old). It’s about coping with abandonment and loss; it’s about struggling to care for your little brother and sister in the face of a terrifying threat.

Read more... )

asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
Someone out in the wide Internet suggested that I watch Kamikaze Girls (2004, Tetsuya Nakashima: Shimotsuma monogatari in Japanese), and I did--rather, we did; we watched it as a family--and it was very odd and very great. The protagonists have both escaped the dreary roles they were born into and created satisfying personas for themselves: Momoko, the daughter of a small-time failed gangster and a floozie who abandoned the family early on, has gotten into what she terms the 18th-century Rococo look, but which we know better as Japan's Lolita look: over-the-top frilly, fancy dresses. She's doing her best to remain untouched by life in backwater, style-compromised Shimotsuma, where she currently lives.


Then there's Ichiko/go, timid and unpopular as a kid, who was transformed by a chance encounter with the leader of a girl biker gang into a confident, slang-slinging, head-butting, bike-riding tough.


Momoko advertises some of her dad's old counterfeit Versace/Universal Studios gear (two great tastes that go great together! with Versace rendered as "Versach") to raise some money, and Ichiko comes to buy it--and then insists on a friendship between herself and Momoko, despite Momoko's diligent attempts to completely ignore her. Ichiko is emotional and romantic, Momoko is cool and aloof (she offers Ichiko a cabbage at one point and tells her it can be her new best friend. Ichiko doesn't take it well).

Ichiko tells high-color [this movie is VERY high-color--as you can tell from the stills, it's actually supersaturated] tales of key figures in her gang's history, but it's Momoko, who's had a keen understanding of human nature from a young age (dismissing her mother with the advice that she go off and enter a beauty pageant, as time's a-wasting and her mom's life is passing by1) who proves the master storyteller, saving the day at the end (though she herself is saved by Ichigo's aggressive affection, which provides sunshine for the first shoots of outward-directed love Momoko experiences).

The side-characters are fun too, from Momoko's eyepatch-wearing grandma to the gangster known as "the unicorn," thanks to his prodigious coiffure.

Watch the trailer. If you like the look, you'll love the film. It funny and sweet without being cloying.

1Her mom takes her advice.

asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)

I adored the book. My review is here. The one thing I'll add here is this: In Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy, there's some urgency about making sure that the Presger translators understand that organs, viscera, blood, etc., are supposed to be kept *inside* the body--sometimes with humorous effect, sometimes with pathos (and always with a hint of anxiety: this is a basic fact of how humans need to operate that we'd like others to understand about us).

That got me thinking about imagination. Imagination is something that's inside us--like (ideally) blood. But imagination works best (or at least, most generously) if we don't leave it there: if we get it outside us and into the world. We're all translators of our imaginations, struggling to find a language that will make it intelligible to others. When someone manages this, when they share their marvelous interior worlds with us, what a fabulous thing that is. Translator Leckie has done this. Well done, Translator Leckie--your imagination does belong outside your head, shared with the world.

asakiyume: (Em reading)
(I finished this on the plane on the way to Sirens.)

Reading Archivist Wasp is like navigating an intense, harrowing nightmare in the company of a true friend. Wasp, the young heroine, is the true friend, though she doesn’t know it. Her role—as recorder of ghosts and their ways, and (more importantly for her town) an executioner of them—means she’s a friendless outcast. She achieved her position by killing the last archivist, and three times a year, other young girls try to do the same to her. Her life has made her suspicious and untrusting, but from the very first, she shows gruff compassion for the ghosts and humans she encounters. Her compassion (and her curiosity, and, okay, a bit of self interest) lead her to agree to help a ghost supersoldier who does something no other ghost she or any of her predecessors have ever met could do: talk. He wants to find his comrade in arms, also a ghost. So Wasp embarks on a journey to the underworld.

The rest of the book unfolds Wasp’s own past and the past of her ghost companion and his friend, in a mutable landscape, pursued by terrors from Wasp’s life in the land of the living. As they search for the ghost’s friend, they themselves become friends—Wasp’s first experience of friendship. The pacing is perfect, and one scene in particular, where the ghosts whom Wasp has spared over the years come to her aid, was especially moving. The language throughout is sharp, powerful, beautiful:

And maybe that’s all a ghost is, in the end. Regret, grown legs, gone walking.

There’s a sequel in the works. I’m very curious to see where Nicole takes us next.

ETA PS (two) First, this review in School Library Journal expresses in more depth many of the things I would have liked to say if I hadn't written this so late at night, and second, there might be spoilers in comments (because I like to talk about things I read), so take that into account as you read here...

asakiyume: (Em reading)

In case you'd like to hear *more* of what I liked about Alif the Unseen, here is a copy of what I wrote on Goodreads.

Characters I absolutely loved, talking about philosophical, intellectual, and spiritual questions and ideas, while meanwhile moving through an exciting, imaginative plot, and with liberal doses of good natured humor throughout—what more could I possibly ask for! I loved this book.

Alif (that’s his handle, not his real name) is the rather clueless, somewhat emotionally obtuse computer hacker who has the misfortune to be the ex-lover of a young woman who’s just been betrothed to the head of the secret police in an unnamed Middle Eastern Gulf Coast country. Worse, he’s a talented hacker, and he’s designed a program that can identify a person from their keystrokes, word use, etc., regardless of how they disguise themselves. You can imagine what would happen if the state got hold of that. Double worse, his ex has sent him a mysterious book, an ancient manuscript, which, if it falls in the wrong hands, may set dire events in motion.

Read more... )


Aug. 29th, 2015 07:36 pm
asakiyume: (the source)
It's been a whole week since I posted. I used to never let a week go by without posting; I couldn't bear to. I don't know precisely what's changed, though I have some ideas . . . but enough of that.

Here are some things I've been thinking about and would like to talk about more at some point. Alif the Unseen. I finished this book and loved it. It was funny--I was reading humorous bits out to family members--had excellent characters, an exciting story, and faith was an integral, moving part of the story in a way I liked. I'll make a Goodreads review at some point, and I hope I'll say more, but that's the executive summary.

Ondine. [ profile] sovay reviewed that movie here, and I was very taken by what she said. The movie was everything she said it was, and the character of Annie, the daughter who weaves a story for her father and the woman he pulls from the sea, interested me very much--her role as the storyteller. I want to say more about that at some point, too.

The uses and limitations of empathy. The movie Ex Machina (flawed, dissatisfying film, but it did spark conversation here) got me thinking about what gets said about empathy and humanity and sociopathy, etc. etc., and I realized that, to me, it's more important how people ACT than how they FEEL. There are exceptions and caveats and curlicues, and I thought I might post a whole entry on this topic, but who knows when? But yeah, that's been on my mind.

Lastly--photos. Today [ profile] wakanomori and I went for a bike ride and crossed a bridge. On one side, the water ran to sky; on the other, there were water lilies:

And some extremely contemporary graffiti was inscribed on the bridge:

asakiyume: (Em reading)
So much time has slipped by between when I said I wanted to talk about books and now, and in the meantime, other books have also arrived, plus other reading matter--I feel like Little Springtime, who has an LJ tag, "Oh LJ I have so much to tell you!"

What I want to do is give you some tastes of books I'm reading or have read recently. This entry is way more text than anyone wants to see in their friends feed, so I've put the quotes and discussion under cuts. You can choose which ones you want to read, come back when you have time, etc.

Boy, Snow, Bird
Helene Oyeyemi

Read more... )

The Summer Prince
Alaya Dawn Johnson

Read more... )

The Worth of a Shell
MCA Hogarth

Read more... )

Lia Silver

Read more... )

LJ, I still have loads more to share, but it's a sunny weekend day, and I think Little Springtime and the healing angel and I might try a picnic.

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
The various participants in the Storybundle have been interviewing one another. Here, Brad Beaulieu interviews C.J. Brightly about The King's Sword. I was fascinated by her background in political science and her work for the military and national security organizations.

And here, [ profile] sartorias has a conversation with [ profile] dancinghorse about male and female narration and the world of her book Arrows of the Sun.

I'm heading over to read that one next--come join in the conversation either at Book View Cafe or at [ profile] sartorias's blog.


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

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