Jun. 22nd, 2016

muccamukk: Dot and Phryne looking at each other and smiling, pretty hats. (MFMM: Companions)
Forgot this last week, but I'd been doing fic deadlines and hadn't read much anyway. I'm including this week a couple books I read as research for [community profile] ssrconfidential, but didn't post at the time because I'm Trying To Get Better At Being Anon.

What I Just Finished Reading
Finally gave up on The Kindness of Enemies by Leila Aboulela, which just wasn't working for me. Back to the library it goes.

I reread all of Marvel Adventures: Iron Man and Marvel Adventures: Avengers, which is still my fandom happy place, especially MA:A. I hadn't read MA:IM in long enough that'd I'd forgotten how it has my favourite Dr. Yinsin of all time. You know, the one who never likes Tony, and builds his own suit, and dies to protect his country. But then it harshed my squee by having a frankly pretty racist Mandarin plot (aren't they all?), and a lot of bad science (obviously reading the wrong genre), and Pepper being not awesome (though that smoothed out later in). It rallied when we hit a hilariously awful Howard Stark, who would win the Howard Is a Dick contest if not for all the other versions of Howard.


Long Red Hair by Meags Fitzgerald
I liked a lot of the ties between women here, the playfellows and adult friendships. I also liked that the book was sex positive even while the main character shaded a little grey (to my eyes). Her relationship with her parents was also cool.

The discussions of identity and shapes the main character toyed with (bisexual, celibate, feminine) and took on were well integrated, and didn't feel like lectures. The title red hair motif worked well.

I didn't get a lot out of the art, and because a lot of the characters were similarly-aged white women or girls, and the main character changed her hair constantly, I found myself confused as to who was who a lot of the time. I also wonder if I might have gotten more out of it having read the first one first.


The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington by Jennet Conant, narrated by Simon Prebble
I feel like the author kept trying to fit in the larger social and political context, but mostly just got side tracked a lot. I would have liked a lot more BSC and a lot less DC gossip (though I realise there was a good deal of overlap). Though perhaps the problem is largely that Dahl's involvement in the BSC was not that interesting, and he and his cohort tended to be jerks, especially to women.

The book wasn't badly written on a prose level, and had several interesting stories and characters, but as a whole it didn't seem to be that coherent. I kept running into the edge of things that would probably be more interesting on their own, but weren't covered in any depth here.


Artifice by Alex Woolfson, art by Winona Nelson
From the Pride humble bundle.

This was really well done. I was genuinely worried about the outcome and totally rooting for the characters. I admit that bb gay boys in love despite the hellish corporate overlords is pretty well what I want to read all the time.

In fine tradition of tropey gay romances, the consent issues were... a little blurry, but I felt like it worked out pretty well on the whole. The romance was mostly very sweet and authentic, underlined by very lovely art. I also liked all the extras at the back.


Jews Without Money by Michael Gold
Really enjoyed this. There's not really a plot, but the cast of characters and scenes are vivid and interesting. I really liked Gold's animated language and intensity. For all its gloomy subject matter, it's very funny, and largely avoid cliché.

Unfortunately, the digital edition I had seemed to be missing some sections. Still worth a read though.

(I think my favourite review of this book said, in its entirety, "No wonder the author was a socialist!" Though interesting better than half the reviews are in Arabic, so I guess it's very popular in the middle east right now?)


The Hoods by Harry Grey
Oddly compelling and sometimes funny, but on the whole I read it quickly to get it over with.

I think this would have been a better book had there been some distance between the author and the narrator (rather than a man essentially writing about himself). As it was, we got a lot of self-aggrandizement, and very little reflection, and I was left with the feeling that almost everyone in the book was a psychopath. His constant refrain that everyone else was illegit, and therefore it was fine that he was a thief and a murderer wore pretty thin, and the prose itself wasn't good enough to make up for all that smugness. And nothing in the world would be enough to make up for all that homophobia and misogyny, or the rape attempt by the main character.

I'm interested to see if the movie falls for the glorification, or does something deeper with it.

(So then I watched the movie and... that was a cultural experience, so it was. I mean, I think it did undercut the glorification by making Our Hero even less sympathetic (completed rape instead of attempted, for example), and by cutting out a lot of the self-congratulation. It also cut almost all of the homophobia and made the women way more interesting, especially Carol was no longer the evil poly kinkster who drove a good man to ruin, but an actual person with opinions and shit. Which was nice. I was watching the standard director's cut, but not the super long one, incidentally. It was really long! Also, it cut almost all of the book except for the first few chapters and the last few chapters (which were the strongest parts anyway) and made up its own plot and pacing, which would have worked, except the interwoven future plot was just so completely bananapants that I firmly believe it was indeed an opium dream. Finally, young Robert was rather pretty, but young Elizabeth was STUNNING.)


What I'm Reading Now
Balm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, which is set in Chicago just after the civil war. Just getting into it, but the characters are very interesting.


What I'm Reading Next
I want to do some research for [community profile] femmeremix so probably that.

Electra is next on my library list. I don't have an audiobook on the go yet, and am considering my options.


Oh, so movies, since I'm doing reviews of things. Nenya and I watched Spy which we loved and thought was the best. We also rewatched Michael Collins which had Liam Neeson yelling at people, so I was happy, also being slashy with young!Aidan Quinn, though the love triangle was silly. Also historical accuracy, not so much with this film. Anyway, Liam Neeson!

We also watched a pretty decent cam rip of Captain America: Civil War, which is certainly a movie that exists. Or four or five movies jammed into one movie, one of those. Please count me as the only person on earth who genuinely liked AoU, including the het ships, and mostly felt annoyed by CW. I did like T'Challa, but mostly wanted more Wanda and Sam, and less... everyone else, especially everyone else being a stupid jerk. The big battle was a fun use of powers, I guess? Maybe I've just expended all the Civil War feelings I'm ever going to have.
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