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21st-Feb-2025 07:35 pm - Sticky: Introduction Post!
Combeferre
Hi there! I'm Sophia, and this is my journal. If you want to know more about me and about what you can find on my journal, this is the place!Collapse )
Combeferre
This is a collection of fairy tale-related short stories and poems, many of which T. Kingfisher had earlier posted on her blog as Ursula Vernon. So a number of these stories I'd read before, but some were new to me, and at any rate I don't object to rereading a good short story!

I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of the stories and poems in this book. Kingfisher's just so good at writing stories with emotional impact, striking details, and thoughtfulness. And with both love for and a critical eye towards the fairy tales she's riffing on.

There were only two entries that gave me an "eh" reaction, those being Night and Odd Season. Everything else was really great!

In my opinion the strongest entries were the bluebeard story, the loathly lady story, and the snow white story. And the titular story, Toad Words.

Dang though, I just want to read T. Kingfisher's fairy tale reimaginings forever and now I'm out of ebooks to buy! I hope she writes/publishes more soon.

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Combeferre
You guys this book is so gooooood

And okay there are many things to squee about but let me start with everything is spoilers, whoopsCollapse )

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14th-May-2016 08:01 pm - Eurovision 2016 [fandom: eurovision, thing: music]
Combeferre
Today was Eurovision time! Such a great event, I’m so glad it’s a thing that exists. I didn’t liveblog Eurovision this year but I did make notes to myself on my phone as I watched!

TO NOBODY’S SURPRISE the meta self-referencing interlude act “Love Love Peace Peace” was my favourite Eurovision song this year.

My runners-up: Armenia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Australia, Cyprus. Clearly the way to win my heart is to be a female singer with a neat aesthetic and a strong voice. (cyprus being the obvious exception)

This year I watched alone instead of with last year’s politically-savvy friend, which means the voting part wasn’t nearly as interesting to me since I didn’t get explanations about various countries’ relationships with each other. The Ukraine win definitely came as a surprise to me, and I’m guessing that’s more about the politics than the performance, though the singer did do a good job. I was also surprised by how close Australia came to winning!

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Combeferre
Okay, so I may have semi broken up with MCU but apparently that didn't stop me from going to see the new movie. Well, I'd heard T'Challa was great in it, and that sold me!

And I must say, Captain America: Civil War is definitely better than Age of Ultron! (Not that that's saying much, I know....) I actually genuinely enjoyed myself for the majority of the movie.

HOWEVER.

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At any rate: an enjoyable evening out, and I'm glad I went so I could form my own opinions on the movie, and I'm sure I'll inevitably read the fic based on this movie, but I am still not back into MCU fandom.

EDIT:

this is why I shouldn't post late at night without letting myself pause to review - I forgot to include something important re: the politics that I wanted to!

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Combeferre
Sings-to-Trees!!! Gosh I love the dude. I was first introduced to him when Ursula Vernon* posted about him to her livejournal, lo these many years ago. And now he's in book form! Along with a bunch of goblins.

(Here's a round-up of what Vernon posted about Sings-to-Trees back in the day, all of which is definitely worth reading; incidentally, my god, I've been following Vernon's online activity for more than a DECADE. )

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Combeferre
This is a Star Wars novel set just after the Original Trilogy, and the first official star wars novel I've ever read! Actually the first tie-in novel I've ever read for anything, I'm pretty sure. A new experience for me. And I understand that as tie-in quality goes this one is actually pretty good.

I found this book varying in quality - in some ways it was good, and in some ways it was not so much. But overall I definitely did enjoy it!

I was not a fan of the prose style (so choppy that I could never settle comfortably into the book because reading it didn't flow, resulting in me having to read much more slowly than I'm usually able to), and I found the action scenes boring and confusing, and there were too many viewpoint characters who were switched between too rapidly. And the "interlude" chapters felt like interruptions, as opposed to an essential part of the story, though they did add interesting details about what was going on in the rest of the galaxy.

I liked seeing how after the destruction of the second Death Star and the death of the Emperor and Darth Vader, the Empire is not actually all the way gone yet: there's still work to be done, lots of it. And there was a great collection of characters used to show this, a number of characters who are complicated, not all good or all bad, and obviously affected by life under the Empire.

My faves: Sinjir Rath Velin and Mister Bones. Sinjir is an ex-imperial officer and Mister Bones is a modified battle droid. I liked them both a lot. But I also enjoyed reading about all the characters!

Plus: there's actual queer characters in this! Which is wonderful. Including one of our main characters, Sinjir! And among the secondary characters there's a lesbian couple and neither of them die! (my standards for queer representation, they are so low, wow)

I'm interested to see what'll happen next - I gather this is going to be a trilogy?

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Combeferre
Martha Smith Good was one of the first female ministers in the Mennonite church in Ontario, back when women in leadership in the church was a Really Big Deal. (This is tragically not that long ago. Also it's still a Really Big Deal in some parts of the mennonite church.) This is her memoir.

It's a self-published book, and has the various minor flaws that come with that fact. Could have used an editor to tighten some things up, that kind of thing. BUT. It is still really worth reading, because Martha Smith Good is clearly a really impressive person.

She was raised in a pretty conservative church, conservative enough that she did not get any education above grade 8 because that would be too worldly. But she still managed, in her adult life, to go on to college and eventually get her D.Min.

She was a pastor, and found churches who wanted her as their pastor no matter her gender. And when the denomination didn't want to ordain her despite it not being technically against the rules (and wanted to change the rules so it WOULD be against the rules!), she stood her ground for her right to be ordained and won. For a number of years she was the campus minister at Goshen College (a mennonite university in Indiana) and while there became the faculty sponsor for the first gay/lesbian student group because she felt called to work on behalf of the oppressed.

And she talks with openness about her various life struggles (including dealing with anxiety and stress, and getting married at 39 and acquiring 4 step-children at once, and of course all the sexist bullshit the church had to offer) and how she overcame them, and without any castigation towards people who made things harder for her.

And she never really makes a thing of what a big deal she was, the incredible things she was doing. She's just telling her story.

I'm glad she chose to publish this book, even though there (presumably) wasn't any publishing house interested in it. It's an important story and I'm glad to have read it.

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Combeferre
I was disappointed by this book. I'd heard great things about it! But apparently it is not for me.

LOTS OF SPOILERS.Collapse )

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Combeferre
It's like this book was written JUST FOR ME and it is SO GOOOOOOD.

It's a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Snow Queen", which was one of my favourite fairy tales when I was a kid. I reread that story about a million times! And unlike things like Cinderella it's not a story that anybody ever bothers doing a retelling of or deconstruction of or analysis of (I'm not counting Frozen because like hell is that actually connected in any meaningful way with The Snow Queen, whatever Disney says).

But T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) manages to capture in this book everything I loved about the original story while also making it BETTER.

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Combeferre
Okay, here's some really brief reviews of the latest three books I've read. (...you'll notice I haven't been posting a lot of book reviews of late. This is because I haven't been reading a lot of books. It's weird and it sucks and I hate it and I don't know how to fix it. I've only read 4 books, one of which is novella-length, since the beginning of 2016!)

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

Writing reviews of books that I unreservedly love everything about is a lot harder than writing books where I have complaints. Especially writing reviews of a reread of a book I love. What is there to say?

Well, here's something. After I finished rereading this book, I was trying to think about what I like so much about it. And I mean there are lots of things, both big overarching things and lots of small choices that were made, that all come together and add up to why I love it to the degree I do. But one thing I realized is.....its main theme has a surprising amount in common with my perennial feel-good reread, The Blue Castle.

thematic spoilers for Goblin Emperor and Blue Castle, no detailsCollapse )


The Seventh Bride, by T. Kingfisher

T. Kingfisher is a penname for Ursula Vernon, to keep her books for adults distinct from her books for kids. As Kingfisher she tends to write fairy tale retellings. This one is more or less a retelling of Bluebeard, though with fewer dead women, which is always nice.

I loved how the interplay between Rhea and the other wives made for the most important relationships in the book. And I loved the depth of complexity that Maria ended up having, more than I expected her to!

I don't seem to have a lot else to say about this book though. It was good and I liked it, the end? I guess?


The Terracotta Bride, by Zen Cho
I loved it and had a lot of feelings! And I wish I'd written more down immediately after finishing because I can no longer remember my thoughts in enough detail to write a more comprehensive review than this!

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Combeferre
My ship tags on pinboard were a total mess. I had no consistent method for deciding which name came first, so for any tag uncommon enough that it didn't show up as an autocomplete option, I had to look it up every time to see what I'd used in the past.

Some of my tags were ordered according to fandom's preferred usage (eg harry/draco), some of my tags were ordered according to which character is the more major character in the canon (eg moist/adora), some were ordered according to which character was my favourite (eg hilarion/alexios), and some were ordered according to whatever random decision I made at the time because I didn't know enough about the fandom to know how to tag (no example because these are obviously not fandoms that come easily to mind).

So this made it hard both to remember what I'd used in the past for a given ship, or to decide how to tag a new ship I'd never bookmarked for before.

BUT NO LONGER. Now all my ship tags are strictly alphabetical! I fixed them!

Aaand now the only agonizing part is figuring out what names I want to use for various characters, which can be remarkably challenging in some fandoms. And whether to alphabetize by names that are not actually names, for characters who don't get given names in canon (eg bahorel's laughing mistress - do I alphabetize her by B, by L, or not at all?)

At any rates, my efforts towards continual improvement of my pinboard cataloguing structure continue apace.

Next up: figure out how to tag for fandoms where there's multiple versions of canon with different names but fandom mostly treats them as one so a given fic could fit under either name, except for a rare few fics that are very specifically for one of the versions of canon (eg The Eagle aka Eagle of the Ninth)

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Combeferre
OKAY I'VE WATCHED THE STAR WARS PREQUELS. It only took me a month from beginning to end! Now, let's see if I still remember the formal logic I learned in long-ago philosophy classes:

Premise A: the prequels are kinda terrible movies
Premise B: I did not enjoy watching the prequels
Conclusion: I am now a prequels fan.

That...... doesn't look right.

I don't know what happened, but I now have so many feelings about the prequel era and prequel characters EVEN THOUGH I kinda hate the movies and had to struggle through watching them. So: everyone's right, between the people who told me not to subject myself to these movies and the people who told me there's some good stuff in them! The movies are terrible, yes, but also they are worth watching if you are me.

Although is it just me or is the third movie noticeably better than the first two? Or did I just get inured to the ways in which they're kind of crap?

ANYWAYS.

My main take-away from these movies is that I'm so mad that Anakin Skywalker seems to now be the Star Wars character I have the most feels about, across all trilogies. Like......no. Why. Why did this happen to me. I disapprove. Anakin's terrible. And yet I care so much!

I livetweeted my watching of the three movies because it was the only way to get through them. I will reproduce the highlights of my tweets below, followed by my other thoughts.


TweetsCollapse )


Other thoughtsCollapse )

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Combeferre
I haven't read a book for a month and a half (which is an ETERNITY for me) and this was just the right book to break me out of my weird bookless rut.

It's a book of - well, it does what it says in the title. A poetry collection, drawing on 12 different authors, all at least several centuries dead, who wrote about human relationships with God.

It's less a direct translation of the original works and more a loose paraphrase, which bugs the intellectual part of my brain because it just leaves me wondering what the originals actually said and how much Daniel Ladinsky is putting ideas into the original authors' mouths that weren't there to start with.

But the experience of reading this book was, dare I say, spiritual? It's the kind of talk about God and religion that I don't see enough of: irreverent and grounded and beautiful and full of love. It was a really meaningful read for me in a way I can't quite articulate.

Not all the poems in this book worked for me, of course, but enough of them did - and even the ones that didn't still helped contribute to the overall tone and feel of the book in a way that matters. Each one of the 12 authors had at least one poem that left me feeling all like, "yes. that."

Let me leave you with a poem from the book by Mira:

The earth looked at Him and began to dance.
Mira knows why, for her soul too
is in love.

If you cannot picture God
in a way that always
strengthens
you,

you need to read
more of my
poems.


Yeah, Mira. You're right. I do.

(in fact I plan to seek out more faithful translations of a number of these poets.)

EDIT: As [personal profile] rachelmanija kindly pointed out, these poems are in fact original works inspired by the historical poets, not translations at all. They read differently knowing that, I think, and I really wish the publishers had made that fact clearer. At any rate, now it's time to seek out actual translations of actual poems by the historic poets.

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Combeferre
The thing that's surprised me most since figuring out I'm agender is discovering how many constraints on gender presentation I've always felt - and still feel, much to my dismay! THANKS SOCIETY FOR THE BRAINWASHING I GUESS.

For years I've had people tell me (mostly admiringly?) that I dress very me, that I don't pay attention to what I "ought" to wear, but wear what I want. And I always thought that was true!

But....it's not true. I've experimented widely, yes, but always within the bounds of certain rules I had no idea I was working so hard to follow.

For example: a few months ago I decided to switch to wearing button-down shirts on my top half, mostly mens-styled shirts. I've always loved that look, but before my breast-reduction surgery there was no hope of such shirts fitting so I never bothered trying. But it struck me suddenly that now I COULD, so I did. And I discovered this vast and intense feeling that I'm not allowed to wear clothing that doesn't accentuate my feminine shape. That wearing these men's shirts make me look slovenly and unkempt because they're baggy or whatever. The mirror tells me otherwise! The mirror tells me I look great! And I love wearing these shirts! But my feelings are all NOOOOOOOO HDU.

And yesterday I went to get my hair cut. Usually my mom cuts my hair, because that's free and salons are EXPENSIVE. Mom's entire haircutting education is having cut mine and my sister's hair since we were tiny children, so although she's competent enough at what she knows, she doesn't know anything fancy. So she gives me a pretty straightforward cut that mostly just says "short". But she's out of the country right now and I needed a haircut so I went to a professional, and described the haircut that I actually want that Mom's not capable of giving me. And I got it, and I look great, it's exactly the cut I've been low-key hankering after for years and I love it - and then I proceeded to spend yesterday evening in an emotional meltdown because this haircut is too masculine and I'm not allowed.

So this is something I'm working on: giving myself permission to present myself the way I actually want to. But it's hard! And I hope I don't discover other "not allowed" areas in my continued experimentation, because it's really not fun.

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Combeferre
As I do every year, here's a list of all the books I read this year, with links to my reviews of them, and with stars (1-5) indicating my level of appreciation for the books. Italics mean a book is a reread. "nf" means a book is nonfiction.

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And here's my list of abandoned books for the year.

and here"s the commentary on my books readCollapse )

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Combeferre
Time (...past time) for the latest edition of abandoned books! Here's the books I started in the year 2015 and failed to finish for various reasons, with commentary.


1. Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits, by Robin McKinley & Peter Dickinson
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2. Beat to Quarters (aka The Happy Return), by C.S. Forester
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3. Phineas Finn, by Anthony Trollope
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4. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
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5. Fanny Hill
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6. A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T.E. Laurence, by John E. Mack
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7. Zahrah the Windseeker, by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
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8. Busman's Honeymoon, by Dorothy Sayers
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9. Miss Marjoribanks, by Mrs Oliphant
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10. Our Journey to Sinai: A Visit to the Monastery of St Catarina, by Agnes Bensly
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11. Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, by Kate Bernstein and S. Bear Bergman
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12. The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology, by Simon Winchester
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Combeferre
Two books that fit into Karen Cushman's usual wheelhouse of historical fiction about a prickly girl who eventually finds a place in the world where she's accepted for who she is and with people who care about her. It's a good wheelhouse! I liked both these books, but particularly enjoyed Matilda Bone because of how unsympathetic Matilda starts the book and how uninterested she is in learning a different way of thinking about things. Also there's a community of medieval female medical professionals! What a great setting.

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Combeferre
WHAT A GOOD omg. A portal fantasy where the main character is a scientifically-minded adult, and when she goes to the alternate world she's all just shiny-eyed trying to figure out the biology and geology and history, and how things are and aren't related to our world, and all that stuff. ugh probably this is spoilersCollapse )

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Combeferre
1. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Power
2. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel You Know It's True
both by Ryan North, illustrated by Erica Henderson

WHERE HAS SQUIRREL GIRL BEEN ALL MY LIFE.

I was cackling with delight all the way through. I don't even know what to say. I say thingsCollapse )

AND SO FORTH, I could keep going with many exclamation points for a long time. The long and the short of it is: yes good more please.

And like: I know this is an ongoing comic and I know there are more issues out that have not yet been released in trade paperback. So I COULD read them if I wanted to pay ridiculous prices for short and flimsy single-issue releases. But that's not how I prefer to read/buy comics. Sigh, my life is so hard.

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