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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
Recently on tumblr I saw a list of "10 captivating short stories" being recommended, and there were just as many stories by Isaac Asimov on the list as there were stories by women. Come on. Really?

So I decided to even things up and do a recs list of ten short stories featuring only two male authors and eight authors of other genders.

This was not hard! There's lots of great short stories written by people who aren't dudes, available to read online for free. The only hard part was narrowing my list down. (Also writing descriptions of each. I'm really bad at pithy enticing nonspoilery descriptions. My apologies for the below. I did my best.)

Here you go:

1. Never the Same, by Polenth Blake
Set on another planet on a colony that isn't thriving, exploring the family stuff of the main character at the same time as exploring the reason for the colony's difficulties. It's complicated and unsettling in the best kind of ways, and has a wonderfully interesting main character.

2. The Perseverance of Angela's Past Life, by Zen Cho
I figure at this point I have recced my favourite Zen Cho story (The House of Aunts!) often enough that it's time to take a break and recommend other Zen Cho stories because she has SO MANY good stories because she's a brilliant writer; her stories are never a disappointment. This one is about dealing with an overly-literal past version of yourself who you thought you'd left behind, and it is lovely.

3. The Cage, by A.M. Dellamonica
Look it's the canadian lesbian activist community werewolf baby story of my heart. IT'S BASICALLY THE BEST.

4. The Tempting: A Love Story, by James Alan Gardner
Definitely one of the weirder stories on this list, and I love it for that. I haven't reread it in a while and I don't actually remember the plot? Haha like I ever read for plot anyways. AT ANY RATE this is a deeply interesting story and I recommend it! or it wouldn't be on this list, obviously.

5. The Bride In Furs, by Layla Lawlor
An excellent fairy-tale-ish story, with a good fairy tale feel, that is all about ladies, aww yeah. INTO IT.

6. The Lady Astronaut of Mars, by Mary Robinette Kowal
It's about an aging famous astronaut who's been wanting another opportunity to venture into space for years. What a good everything. I cried and it was amazing.

7. Burning Girls, by Veronica Schanoes
Let me go with the official description because it's better than what I could come up with: This story "is a fascinating dark fantasy novella about a Jewish girl educated by her grandmother as a healer and witch growing up in an increasingly hostile environment in Poland in the late nineteenth century. In addition to the natural danger of destruction by Cossacks, she must deal with a demon plaguing her family." YEAH. And it's REALLY GOOD.

8. Sauerkraut Station, by Ferrett Steinmetz
Little House on the Prairie in space, is more or less its hook, and it IS that but it is also a million times better than that makes it sound. I had a lot of feelings.

9. Jackalope Wives, by Ursula Vernon
Ursula Vernon won a Nebula for this! And with good reason, holy crap. I mean I love every word Ursula Vernon ever puts down on page or screen but this is definitely a particularly good piece of Ursula Vernon's words. It's... I don't know, it's a fairy-tale-ish story with a strong sense of character and of place, and about identity and about making hard decisions. And stuff. I'm bad at one-sentence plot teasers!

10. Sleeper, by Jo Walton
The official summary: "History is a thing we make—in more senses than one. And from more directions." YEAH. This story starts off slowly but is totally worth the read! It's about a woman in the future writing a biography of a man from the 20th century who had secrets.

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Combeferre
A while ago kiki-eng made a post about ten sga fanworks they still think about sometimes. And I was like OOH WHAT A GREAT IDEA and started writing a draft list of sga fanworks I still think about sometimes and...the list got to be a LOT over ten.

LOOK I JUST HAVE SO MANY SGA FEELINGS STILL.

So I will start by giving you the unadulterated list of nearly-thirty fanworks I still think about sometimes (still incomplete; there's plenty of other fics I also still think about sometimes! I just made myself stop), and then I'll narrow it down to ten that I'll actually talk about.


What Is Eternal
Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose
the one with the atlantis queer community John isn't part of but needs to be
the one where Ronon becomes Canadian
unidentified and its dvd commentary
the hard prayer
written by the victors
girl scout cookies
the one with the lesbians
soccer practice
postcards to jeannie
verity's pretend relationship fic
a beautiful lifetime event
marines to the rescue
the one with khama nuts
the one where john reinvents pizza
absurdity theory
black helicopters
if you want to kiss the sky
the one where john has a kite shop
healing station argh
the one where Rodney's using a time machine thing to constantly interfere with John's life to keep him from dying
the one where they meet in a museum as teens and Rodney writes John a ref letter pretending to be a prof
the sedoretu one
found poetry
the one where John is Rodney's mathematician
the yeshiva au



So let's narrow this down! (narrowing this down was REALLY HARD.)



What Is Eternal, by gnine
SGA fandom dates back to the days when I still thought I just wasn't into vids - this turned out to be because I hadn't yet watched enough vids to have learned how to read them, because following visual narratives or visual arguments does not come naturally to me. But this vid was one of the few from SGA days that struck me enough that I rewatched it regularly, until I had figured out how to parse it. I think there are a few things about this vid that made it work for me back in the day. First: the song has very clearly articulated lyrics that allow me to actually follow what the singer is saying, and the song has a very strong through-line of actually saying something which I could then use to map onto what the images were saying. Second: I knew that I couldn't expect to understand everything, because I'd never seen the episode (s) in question, so I went in without expectations of it actually making sense to me. And I'd read enough fic that obliquely or otherwise referred to the events of the episode, that I could follow the overall arc if not the details. So between the strong song choice and just enough in the way of clear visuals for me to be able to have feelings, I ended up watching the vid on repeat a ridiculous number of times. Rewatching the vid now, there are still a LOT of clip choices that are absolutely incomprehensible to me because the brief clip stands for something larger that I'm not aware of, refers to something in the episode that I can't draw the connection to. And yet despite the holes in my understanding, the vid still works as a vid. And I still have lots of feels. (and I still love the song.)

Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose, by synecdochic
How do I even begin? THIS FIC. THIS FIC. I just. It's a masterpiece and I have a million feels. This was one of those fics that made bb!me feel like fanfiction can be genuinely quality literary work, and this fic is genuine quality but it has to be fanfiction for it to work. Your ability to understand the emotional through-line of the story requires you to understand both what happened on the show AND what fandom thought was a likely result for the characters of what the show was doing. All of that backstory is so lightly and delicately sketched, and yet so monumentally important for informing all of the things Rodney does in this fic. So I admire the hell out of this fic and also fall to emotional pieces over it because auuuuuugh what a good everything.

the one with the atlantis queer community John isn't part of but needs to be - Friendly, by speranza
It's a fic about QUEER COMMUNITY and that is not something I'd seen much of before first reading this fic, iirc. It's like, so much fic is about two dudes being gay in isolation and that is not my experience of being queer AT ALL. (though I wasn't yet identifying as queer when I first read this fic) But the bit from this fic that sticks with me the most is the moment where John is carefully removing from himself every symbol of his military status so that he can be a person instead of a symbol of dangerous oppressive authority. That is just a really great moment.

the one where Ronon becomes canadian - My Home and Native Land, by copperbadge
Look, what isn't there to love about this fic! iirc I came to this fic later, not in my SGA heyday, so it feels a little weird to group it with most of these other fics, but I mean I definitely think about this fic a lot so! I love that it has a really good outsider perspective from a non-earth character that respects the cultural traditions he comes from and also respects Earth's, and it's about kind of an inter-cultural dialogue and inter-cultural friendships and coming to find a place where you can feel like you fit when your home culture is no longer an option. Also it's about Canada so obviously that's a draw too.

DVD commentary of Unidentified, by fiercelydreamed
This was so revelatory to me as a young fan, this kind of really thoughtful analysis of a fic by an extremely capable writer. It's this kind of thing that opens a reader/aspiring-writer's eyes to what can go into putting together a quality story. I liked the fic a great deal, but it was the dvd commentary that I reread over and over and over again. I no longer remember much of what the dvd commentary actually said, but that's not really the point - the point was the writing nerdery. And I was so there for it, and I still think about it a lot.

The Hard Prayer, by rheanna
Frick, too many feels. I remember that when I was first recced this fic (I think Essie recced it to me?) I was kind of leery because post-apocalyptic is not really a genre calculated to excite me. But I was drawn in so fast. Rodney and John are so clearly deeply affected by the trauma they've gone through, and the ways they're affected are treated with such respect by the narrative, and the two of them help each other through the tough things but don't fix each other with the magic of true love or anything like that. And the apocalypse itself is so evocative and real-feeling and awful, and basically this fic is super emotionally harrowing and not one I could reread often but wow does it stick in one's mind.

verity's pretend relationship fic - paper cranes (upstairs, downstairs), by verity
Verity got into SGA fandom long after I'd left it but just for her I gleefully fell right back in. And for a long time I got regular fic updates in my email from her of the SGA fics she was writing. And all of them were so great and so up my alley. But this one was my favourite. So on top of being a wonderful piece of writing, this fic also reminds me of my SGA renaissance and of my friendship with Verity, and basically it's a happy place.

A Beautiful Lifetime Event, by astolat
...This is the fic that dragged me into SGA fandom. It's not even one of my top-fifty favourites anymore, probably, because SGA fandom has SO MUCH GOOD STUFF, but it is still a fic that is very important to me and that I will never forget.

If you want to kiss the sky, by siegeofangels
This is the first fic I have tagged in all my bookmarks ever as being about asexuality, so like, obviously it's gonna have stuck with me. It's a fic where "normal" is dudes having sex with each other all the time, and this is something John has had to put up with forever if he wants to be in the military, if he wants to be able to fly. It's a fic about not wanting sex in a hypersexualized culture, and how that's okay, and about finding a person with whom he can be himself.

Absurdity Theory, by julad
It's just so perfectly Rodney and Radek! And it's the right kind of ridiculously silly premise treated with a (relatively) straight face that makes for one of my favourite kinds of fics. I don't know, I don't have anything meaningful to say about this one, I just love it. Such adorable nerdery.

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Combeferre
Aww yeah secondary-world sf with interesting worldbuilding and a female main character, OBVIOUSLY I am there. Also I continue to love how Hopkinson writes.

I'm not sure what else to say about this book; I don't really feel competent to review it? It's really good but also really emotionally intense. I loved the worldbuilding, and found the content of the book to be good but upsetting - it deals with issues of sexual abuse and generally terrible parenting, so you know, approach with caution if those are topics you'd have trouble reading about.

And now that I've read two Nalo Hopkinson books, I'm pretty sure I need to read everything else she's ever written because she's so GOOD. But I also think that I'll need to space them out because she doesn't flinch from dealing with really serious issues face-on and I don't think I can handle a lot of that in quick succession.

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Combeferre
This book wasn't QUITE what I was expecting it to be. It's a nonfiction book written by a woman in the 1850's about her time in Australia, and I was expecting it to be something of a personal travelogue. And I mean it was very partly that, but mostly it was written as a source of information for people in England who were considering going to Australia themselves, so it was very focused on details of geography and economy and so forth, and not at all focused on her personal life.

The most extreme example of how completely Clacy neglects to talk about her personal life is that in one of the last chapters when she is to set sail for England again she mentions offhand in a single sentence that the reason for her travel back is that she is to be married and then the trip home will be the wedding-trip. So APPARENTLY she meets a guy while in Australia, falls in love, is engaged, and gets married, and we don't hear a THING about any of this. Gosh.

Ah well, for what it was, the book was not bad. Though I rather think it would be of more interest to people who are familiar with current Australia and can make comparisons, or people who are familiar with pre-decimalization British currency so that they can make any sense whatsoever of all the details of costs that Clacy gives.

The book was extremely Victorian, right down to a heartstring-tugging orphan girl. Also, hilariously, in an early chapter she is explaining things that make it difficult to sleep her first night in Australia and the paragraph goes as follows:

Dogs (Melbourne is full of them) kept up an incessant barking; revolvers were cracking in all directions until daybreak, giving one a pleasant idea of the state of society; and last, not least, of these annoyances was one unmentionable to ears polite, which would alone have sufficed to drive sleep away from poor wearied me.


I AM SO CURIOUS WHAT THE UNMENTIONABLE ANNOYANCE WAS. And also why she felt the need to mention that this annoyance existed when she had no intention of disclosing the details. I would think it would have something to do with sex, except that her accommodations for the night are a tiny building where all the gentlemen of her party are sharing one room, and she shares the bedroom (and bed) of the mistress of the house. So there's no rough Melbournians in the building to be having shocking and noisy sex.

It's also Victorian in its opinions of race, so, you know, there's that. There seems to me actually more casual racism in this book than in the confederate civil war diary I recently read!

Clacy includes a lot of anecdotes/stories of other people; I'm not sure how much to actually believe all of them, especially the ones she hears of from other people instead of seeing for herself. But there's one story of a woman she meets that I absolutely LOVE. The woman in question spends a bunch of time crossdressing and it is great. I would be very interested in a whole book about Harriette's life because she sounds like a rather more interesting person than the author of this book.

(If you want to read just Harriette's story, it's here, the first part of chapter nine on project gutenberg)

The book as a whole was remarkably well-balanced on the subject of whether or not one should make the trip to Australia. It includes good factual details of what to expect, and makes it clear that you can't just assume you'll strike it rich, and that you'll have to work hard, and deal with some fairly rough and dangerous circumstances, but also that things aren't hopeless and for a certain type of person the trip may be worthwhile.

All in all, though the book wasn't everything I hoped it to be, it was still an interesting and worthwhile read.

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Combeferre
Gosh, what an interesting book. And like, it's not actually a very plotty book but I'm pretty sure I have to put everything I have to say behind a spoiler cut.

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12th-Jun-2015 07:44 pm - on betas [fic: writing]
Combeferre
In my experience there are two main things that betas do to help you improve your fic:

1. point out things to you that you would never have noticed

2. point out things to you that you had totally noticed but were busy pretending you hadn't because you really didn't want to go to all the work that would be required to fix what's wrong

Both are deeply useful. Even if the latter makes me feel all like NOOOOO I was hoping I would be able to skate by and readers wouldn't notice the issue! WHY ARE YOU BRINGING IT UPPPPPPP.

(In conclusion: thanks, Essie, for being my beta.)

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Combeferre
This book is a real diary written by a young woman between 1862-1865 (with most of the entries being in 1862-3), talking about her experiences in the US Civil War. Sarah kept her diary as a place to write all the thoughts and feelings that it wouldn't be appropriate for her as a lady to ever speak out loud. And it is fascinating.

Oh, it can get kind of tedious at times - a certain amount of repetition of sentiment, some occasional unclarity that makes it hard to follow exact events, and a huge cast of characters it can be hard to keep straight and who she doesn't always bother to properly introduce/explain. But overall Sarah writes very well, and as a look into the thoughts of a Southern girl living through the war, it is very compelling.

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2nd-Jun-2015 07:58 pm - how to write Mad Max fic? [fandom: mad max]
Combeferre
I keep feeling like the thing to do with a new fandom is write fic for it, but one of the fascinating things about Mad Max: Fury Road is that the movie already DOES the things I would want fic for. There's nothing that I feel the need to fix via fanficcing.

It's already a movie about things that are probably spoilersCollapse )

I mean I could probably cater to the fluffiest part of my id and write a fic about hairtouching? Though I don't know who should be doing what to whose hair!

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30th-May-2015 08:30 pm(no subject) [me: my life]
Combeferre
Almost a year ago, [personal profile] melannen posted a thing about what one day's food looks like for her, with an explanation. She suggested she'd be interested in seeing other people do it, and I've been intending to EVER SINCE, aaaand I finally got around to it!

This is everything I consumed on Saturday, May 23, 2015.



Breakfast: One (slightly heaping) cup of rolled oats, with one (scant) cup of skim milk and a pinch of raisins. Yes, I eat it cold, not cooked into oatmeal; I like the texture of uncooked oats better, and it's WAY faster to make!

Morning snack: An apple. Usually I would eat an apple as part of lunch but on this day I was hungry well before lunchtime so I took the edge off with my apple. You will notice the apple is not included in the photo, because I forgot about it when I was setting everything out for the photo at the end of the day. Whoops.

Lunch: A quarter of a loaf of rye bread, with hummus equaling about half a can of chickpeas, and half a tomato. My intention was to eat tomato slices on my bread-and-hummus sandwiches, but I forgot about the tomato until after I finished eating the other stuff so I just had it straight with salt and pepper.

Afternoon snack: Approximately a tablespoon each of raisins and dark chocolate chips, and a mug of decaf Earl Grey tea with a goodly quantity of milk and a wee bit of sugar. On a work day my afternoon snack would be a granola bar because they're super convenient, but at home that feels wasteful when I have other options.

Dinner: One bundle of asparagus, broiled with a drizzle of olive oil and a tablespoon lemon juice. Root vegetables (two carrots, two potatoes, an onion, and a clove of garlic) chopped and tossed with oil and 1/3 cup chickpea flour, and roasted.

Throughout the day: One refillable bottle's worth of water. I'm pretty sure my bottle is like 750 mL or so? I've...I've never actually checked. And it's old enough that any possible indicator markings on the outside of the bottle have long since worn off.

(One other thing I should mention about the nutrients I consume is that I do take a daily vitamin; I take this because I need the iron content. I do my best to eat high-iron food but it's hard to get enough, especially since I'm not eating quantities of meat on a daily basis. Iron in pill form fixes that.)

Calculating exact calories of what I ate sounds like way too much work; you will notice that I didn't even bother recording exact quantities of some things. For example: two potatoes, depending on the size of the potatoes, can be VASTLY different quantities of food. And none of the food I ate is prepackaged food that comes with nutritional information helpfully printed on the side. So unfortunately I can't compare myself directly with Melannen or with the people in the book she references.
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Combeferre
I'm sure you've seen all the rave reviews about Mad Max: Fury Road. The movie didn't originally sound like one I would be into, but the reviews convinced me. Last night I went to go see it and pretty much my entire reaction is "!!!!!"

Let me tell you that every single complimentary thing you have ever heard about that movie is completely true. I was absolutely blown away. What a quality movie. What a good everything. I think it's one of the genuinely best movies I have ever had the pleasure of seeing in theatre.

I don't even know where to start, because there's so much to say.

So I think I'm not even going to try to talk about ALL the things I appreciated because if I did that I'd be here all day and still have things I hadn't yet figured out how to say coherently. I will just write a list ten items long of some things I have to say about this movie and for everything else you can go google for other people's reviews.
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Combeferre
HOLY CRAP what a good book. I mean I had been warned how good it is! But it is REALLY REALLY GOOD. Also kind of surprisingly serious and deep? I was not expecting these kinds of happenings in a kid's book. Read more...Collapse )

IN CONCLUSION I NEED TO READ EVERYTHING ELSE HARDINGE HAS EVER WRITTEN.

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24th-May-2015 03:19 pm - Eurovision! [fandom: idek, thing: music]
Combeferre


Yesterday evening I watched Eurovision with a couple friends! We watched the stream a few hours later than live, because that's the time that worked best for us, so it wasn't IN THE MOMENT but it was still extremely fun. As you can see above, I tweeted my thoughts as we watched.

I've never actually watched all of a Eurovision program before, only seen individual songs that people have linked as being particularly good/fun/hilarious/amazing/enjoyable/whatever. So seeing the entirety of what Eurovision had to offer was actually in some ways surprising to me: I'd only ever seen the cream of Eurovision and wasn't expecting so many boring slow love songs with no fire or sparkles or weird costuming choices or anything. But there were still enough acts that really brought what I understand to be the spirit of Eurovision, and overall I enjoyed myself hugely. And I loved the little intro segments they did before each country's performance, that briefly introduces you to the country and then the performers go to Austria to participate in some sort of Austrian activity; they could also be pretty gloriously weird, though some of them were also just boring.

The hosts were, you know, hosts: awkward jokes, overly-large smiles, but they were competent at what they were doing.

And then the reveals of the votes! THAT TOOK FOREVER. And given how LONG that takes, did they really need to take so much time in between the end of the show and the beginning of the vote tabulation? I got pretty bored and ended up staying up definitely past my bedtime, and I didn't even make it to the end of the full Eurovision experience; I skipped out as soon as the last country had provided their votes.

This part was particularly fun to watch with my friend B. For many countries, he made guesses based on history and politics as to who each country would give top points to, and almost every time he wagered a guess he was right. Magic. The only one that he got really wrong was saying Ireland would give UK 12, and they in fact gave UK like 1 or something. He was flabbergasted.

I was interested to see how many votes Russia got; for a while there they even looked like they were going to win. Between their extremely mediocre act and the current political situation with their expansionist tendencies, I really didn't think they'd do well at all. The lead Russian singer though was super adorable in how emotionally overwhelmed she was by everything.

The actual winners, Sweden - well, I did actually enjoy their act, unlike Russia's, but I also thought it wasn't nearly the stand-out that most of Europe apparently did.

I felt kind of bad for Austria that they got zero votes after having won last year, but then I wouldn't have given them any points either, so. Their one redeeming quality was setting the piano on fire.

My top five acts:

1. Serbia (that glorious majestic singer with amazingly sparkly hair singing about being beautiful when being different) (unfortunately this youtube version doesn't actually capture the true sparkliness of her hair)

2. Belgium (idek, it's just great)

3. Latvia (ooooh a song that doesn't just sound like your standard pop!)

4. Georgia (look at that outfit!)

5. UK (it is fun and charming and involves glow in the dark outfits! though it felt like the man was doing more telling the woman how to behave than the other way around, which I was less fond of)

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Combeferre
A fun book, but the main character is the sort to get into scrapes often enough that I found it kind of stressful. I definitely had to skip to the end and read the last 50 pages or so when I was halfway into the book, or I don't know if I could have made it. It's a kid's book set in, idk, probably approximately the Regency era except with magic. I liked the magic, and I liked how the three sisters were very much sisters, and I liked that the stepmother was not in fact a terrible stepmother. But it was largely an extremely light read with lots of implausible happenings and I just never really actually cared about it.

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Combeferre
It's been a while since I've made further progress on my read-through of the Brother Cadfael series, but look! I'm back to it! This one was a really good one, imo. I mean, the theme is right there in the title - a lot of the book is really interested in theology and heresy and scriptural interpretation and interpretation of the early church fathers (particularly Augustine and Origen). Which I AM THERE FOR. I would have been there for even a much larger quantity of this sort of focus in the book!

Of course, given that it's a Cadfael book, there is also a) a murder and b) a romance. Read more...Collapse )

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Combeferre
The author's note at the back references Eva Ibbotson, and with good reason. This book definitely shares a lot of characteristics with Ibbotson - but with the notable difference that it doesn't have any of Ibbotson's recurring problematic themes. And it has the extra bonus of having all of Vernon's particular charm and strengths. So, like, Ibbotson but better. Which is exactly what I want out of middle grade fantasy so I am delighted!

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10th-May-2015 09:24 pm - Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
Combeferre
I got my hands on an ARC of this aww yeah. And oh wow, what a good book!

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Combeferre
I don't even know how to encapsulate how much I love this book. I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH. I remember when I read it the first time one of my early reactions was a deep certainty that this would be a book I would want to reread many times over the course of my life. I am getting started on that now! And gosh I love everything. I have so many feels about it all!

Looks like last time I read this book I didn't manage to write a particularly coherent review, and I'm afraid this time won't be any better. In fact I'm just going to end here. Urgh. WHAT ARE WORDS, HOW DO YOU SAY THINGS.

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Combeferre
What a great book!

I had trouble getting into it at first, because it is a dystopian urban fantasy - a genre that doesn't appeal to me - that opens with spoilers I guess!Collapse )

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4th-May-2015 07:13 pm - The Mummy [post type: movie reaction]
Combeferre
The other movie I watched this weekend was The Mummy. A hilarious thing about mine and Verity's friendship is that despite the fact that both of us are bad at watching movies we inevitably watch at least one when we visit each other. But! The reason why we can do this is that we have similar issues with watching movies, finding things too stressful or too embarrassing. So actually we are ideal people to watch movies with each other!

So when Verity told me we should watch The Mummy I was initially skeptical, but very quickly agreed that if she said I would like it I would probably like it.

I LIKED IT.

I don"t actually think any of this is spoilers but better safe than sorryCollapse )

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