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Tales from the TBR



The book: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman



The summary:

In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer.

The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.

When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life.


How I found it: I don't remember the exact circumstances leading to the purchase of this specific copy last year, but I've been aware of the book since it came out in 2012. From the mid-90s through the early 2000s, Rachel Hartman wrote a minicomic, set in Goredd some years earlier, called Amy Unbounded, which was a delightful coming-of-age story about a young girl having adventures and learning her place in the world. (Sadly, the series is out of print, but it's worth tracking them down if you're interested, especially if there's a young girl in your life who needs an introduction to the world of comics.) So Seraphina went on my mental TBR, but I'm sure you all know how that can go.

What inspired me to read it now: Hartman's latest book, Tess of the Road, is a finalist for the Lodestar (the Not-a-Hugo Award for Best YA Book), and although I gather that it's not a direct sequel, I still wanted to read the Seraphina duology first.

The verdict: I have no idea why I waited so long to read this book, because it's a delight, although I could wish that the main character had read the situation and not waited quite so long to have some key honest conversations. (I find this trope particularly irritating, which is why I rounded my Goodreads rating down to four stars instead of up to five.) I fell in love with Seraphina as a narrator immediately, and I also adored Princess Glisselda and her best friend Millie. And also the prickly scholar Orma and the dashing and dogged Prince Lucian Kiggs. I could sit here and name favorites all day -- this world is full of fascinating characters, almost all of whom are easy to like (or dislike, in the case of many of the antagonists). Hartman's worldbuilding is both deep and intriguing, especially in the cases where she only drops hints -- draconic society, Goreddi religion (especially the heretic St. Yirtrudis -- I'm dying to learn more about her), the details of Goredd's relationship with its other neighbors. I also like her take on dragons: they are humanized and alien at the same time, just as any sentient species living among us would be. There are dozens of stories left to tell in this universe, and I will read every single one of them.

More thoughts, with spoilers. )

The primary goal of this Tales from the TBR series is to encourage me to read books that I already own. Although successful in this case, I have to call it a mixed success, because as soon as I finish this, I'm buying the sequel, because I have to know what happens next. Worth it, I'd say.
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[personal profile] catherineldf
My standard intro: a couple of years ago, I started an annual Earth Day post on things we were doing to make our household greener. Previous posts: 2018 2017 2016
Some of these things may be useful to you and yours if you're looking to tread a little lighter on our poor planet. I also do it for me since it's a way to remind myself of what we've done so far and what I'd like us to tackle next.

It is worth noting that we've spent years on this, making a few changes every year. My goal has been to add a few new things every year, which we are on track for. I will also note that most things on my list have had a direct cost savings in the longer term, particularly the ones with start up costs. But there are also things we can't do because of finances or the state of our yard and so forth, such as growing our own veggies (our trees shade much of the yard) and there are things that stay in the planning stages for years at a time while I figure out budgeting and so forth. We also own our own home in a very urban environment in a city which supports a lot of green programs and I've done quite a bit of research and planning on all of this to approach it holistically. I recommend Green America as a good resource for tackling environmental impacts from one social justice perspective.

What we've done so far:

Switched to reusables: lunch bags, dish towels, handkerchiefs, cups, straws, traveling utensils, grocery bags, yard waste containers, etc.
Switched to recycled/refurbished: all paper products, aluminum foil, electronics where feasible (refurbished iPads, router, etc.), some furniture, some clothes, plastic containers, food packages, garbage bags, etc.
Other things we reuse: wash and reuse plastic bags, recycle magazines and single use containers for art projects, buy bulk and reuse single use containers for storage.
Basic house greening: swapping out light bulbs to LEDs, additional insulation, improved windows, green cleaners, green care products, biodegradable cat litter, energy efficient appliances, solar fan in the attic to keep the house cooler in summer, water barrel, yard waste compost, city compost, city recycling, new plumbing with water efficient shower head, toilet and faucets, yard is completely organic and planted with pollinator-friendly plants, electric mower, we use grit to deice and our house is powered by 100% wind power through our utility.

Additional stuff: Committed to buying the bulk of our groceries at the local coops and farmer's markets.
  • In addition, we look for reuse and donation opportunities for everything we want to get rid of that's usable: clothes go to clothing swaps as well as donation bins, books go to libraries and benefit auctions, jewelry to benefit auctions, reusable computing equipment to organizations that refurb and donate it, etc. At this point, we compost and recycle much more than we throw out.
  • Committed to not driving anywhere a few days out of the month and carpooling more and taking public transportation when we can. Biking is not a option for us physically or scheduling-wise and we still need two cars for the moment, but I hope to go down to one car and car sharing in the future and we do walk a fair amount.
  • Meat free meals and days multiple times a week
  • Carbon offsets, particularly for plane flights and longer road trips. Offset programs that I like: Nature Conservancy, MN Tree Trust, Cool Effect, Million Metres Stream Project (if we travel outside the U.S., I look for local organizations to donate to).
  • Use CREDO Mobile for my cell phone as a much greener alternative to other companies
  • Investments - I screen out oil companies and other big polluters from my 401K, have my mutual fund holdings with Pax World Funds and own small amounts of stock in our local coop and in Terracycle.
  • Switched out my credit cards to cards with B-corp banks or credit unions. Regular accounts are at a local credit union.
What we've done since last Earth Day:
  • This is the first year we've gone backward. We had to have to our big ash tree in the front yard cut down due to various factors (Emerald Ash Borer, roots growing into the foundation, etc.). We'll be planting a serviceberry in its place and getting something more durable, better suited to our small front yard and producing edible berries in the bargain.
  • Got rid of one air conditioner and put in insulating curtains in the bedroom.
  • Replaced the utility sink in the basement. No more leaks!
  • Added insulation in the garage.
  • Added more native plants
  • Doubled down on cutting our food waste with more meal planning, more freezing of leftovers and more focus on making sure leftovers get eaten by incorporating them into other meals and so forth.
  • Added scrap metal recycling and rag recycling, as well as getting a paper shredder so we can recycle more paper.
Next up:
  • Getting a new energy efficient furnace/AC this summer
  • Redoing the attic (finally!). Between this and the furnace, we should be able to cut our house's carbon footprint by at least 50%.
  • Digging up more of the lawn and replacing it with native plants
Other things as I discover them.
And that's it for now. Feel free to share the things that you're trying or any questions you have about what we're doing.

Sidetracks - April 18, 2019

Apr. 18th, 2019 04:53 pm
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[personal profile] helloladies posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag. For more links and commentary you can follow us on Twitter, Tumblr. You can also support us on Patreon.


Read more... )

ClexaCon writeup

Apr. 17th, 2019 08:57 pm
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[personal profile] catherineldf
And we get double posts tonight because I skipped a week.

I spent a long weekend in Las Vegas at ClexaCon, which was an adventure. I flew out on Sun Country on Thursday morning in a blizzard, which was fun. 50 mph winds, snow, ice, other airlines canceling right and left, but Sun Country is hardcore and they just kept de-icing until it was determined that we could go (about 5 hours late).  It was pretty bumpy but we made it. By then, I’d been up since 3AM my time and just wanted to get to Tropicana quickly. I foolishly took a cab (the nice fans that I met traveling to ClexaCon from MN took a rideshare) and we both arrived at the same time. Then we waited and waited and waited. The hotel let us all hang out in the checkout line for 45 minutes before more staff arrived. Then there was something of a scramble to connect with my table assistant, Theresa, to get my badge, dump luggage and deal with FedEx, which charged an extra “resort fee” just for being there, on top a $200 shipping bill because I didn’t ship “early” enough (I thought 4 days would suffice). But they had my box of books and my table banner and we were able to get set up without too much pain. Then I went off to dinner with Rachel Gold, Andi Marquette and Rachel’s friend Patrice. This was followed by an hour or so of lounging in the lobby with Andi and sharing publisher gossip, writing careers, conventions and other fun stuff.
 
Friday was an amazing sales day. I gather it was not the case for many of the other vendors, but for our table, it was terrific. We had Queen of Swords Press titles, Blind Eye Books titles and Rachel Gold titles and everyone sold at least a few books. Lots of cards distributed, lots of newsletter signups, all good. We did a decent job of spelling each other and it was a fine, if overly long, day (the dealer’s area is open 10-12 hours per day, for 3 days running). I wandered upstairs, took a hot bath, read and collapsed. Saturday was about the same, only somewhat less so. I bought Season 1 of Wynonna Earp and some comics, chatted with a bunch of folks and sold books like mad. The hours continued to be pretty grueling. There were also many, many artist tables with similar items for sale and no signage for the vendor area, and no good way for the artists to make their table stand out, for the most part. This became significant as the day wore on. I noticed that foot traffic was definitely down from last year, but sales for us were better than last year. Sunday, foot traffic was nil, sales were very low and a lot of people were not happy on many levels for many sound reasons. In short, it was a very uneven con to vend at. Other publishers had not great weekends, but I think the comics folks had the worst of it.
 
I had already had some issues with programming, who after insisting on adding an author to a panel we had already set up, failed to ask either her or the rest of us when we were available. They then proceeded to schedule the panel in the last timeslot so that it overlapped with the close-out of the Dealer’s Room on Sunday (where closing out early is discouraged, taxes have to be paid in cash and Theresa would have had to deal with packing up if I wasn’t around). When I asked them to consider changing it, I was informed that I “could just close up early.” Given that tables cost over $300  and last year’s Sunday sales were pretty decent, I opted to not appear on the panel. The author they were so eager to add? Left Saturday due to a scheduling conflict. The moderator was never informed that half the panel had bailed, just to make things exciting.
 
And speaking of exciting, there was a Saturday night dance party, scheduled to run until 4AM. I was on the 4th floor. At 2AM, I got blasted out of bed by a wall of dance music. From the first floor. Neither the air conditioning nor ear plugs made a dent in the volume. In desperation, I called the Tropicana Hotel desk to ask if they could get the volume turned down (apparently on the lower floors, beds were shaking from the noise) and was informed that they had “no control” over the event space (which is in in fact part of the hotel) and that lots of other people were calling so maybe they’d send somebody by to ask about turning things down a bit. Reader, this did not happen and I thought a whole lot less of both the Tropicana and ClexaCon as I lay awake for 2 solid hours before finally falling asleep for another hour before having to get back up again for another long day in the vending area.
 
In the meantime, other vendors had a much rougher weekend. It turns out that there was a leadership shakeup between this year and last, which was definitely better organized. Lots of things went awry and responses ranged from the clueless to the disrespectful and people are pretty pissed about it. There were apparently differences in what people were charged for tables, no signage for the vendor area and other significant issues that made this a very expensive con to travel to, but not make money at. Sales wise, we did well, but it certainly didn’t cover all our costs. We worked the table in shifts, which helped with the ridiculously long hours. But it still sucked doing it on too little sleep, which was the case for all of us. Would I go back? It depends. I’d like to because I sold books and met some nice people and I had some good chats, but this year’s event has taken a huge physical toll on me and the various and sundry semi-spontaneous fees (FedEx, noted above for example, plus The Tropicana’s charges) meant that I spent more than I budgeted for. So very much a mixed bag. At the same time, it is a unique event that focuses on queer women and allies in fandom and I hope they get their shit together and that there are more of these to come. Apparently 6 members of the leadership team resigned in the last two days so it’s not too clear what will happen next. Sigh. Now to rest up and prep for the
UntitledTown Book Festival in  Green Bay in a week and a half.
 

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Queen of Swords Press Title #8! I feel a sense of accomplishment and such! :-)
Available at Queen of Swords Press and a bunch of other places. It's terrific, just saying.


jesse_the_k: amazed Alanna (hero of Staples/Vaughn SAGA comic) (alanna is amazed)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k

Ingrid Tischer's name was mentioned several times at the recent SDS@OSU conference. Ingrid Tischer is a disabled white woman who works in the philanthropy sector. She blogs the hell out of that experience and much more, with honest surrealism and humor. She spouts “FEDup rants” opposing TED’s goal of making knowledge a commodity.

You can spend hours exploring her site; this essay lent itself to excerption:

My FEDup™ Rant: RespectAbility, Class and Race Privilege, and Leveling the Erring Field

quote and great takedown of Hockenberry )

boost: What's On Your Nightstand?

Apr. 16th, 2019 06:24 pm
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[personal profile] jesse_the_k
The Nightstand Collective collects described photos from the bedside tables of people who are chronically ill.

https://www.thegeographyofillness.com/the-nightstand-collective

I feel seen


I keep expecting to wake up and have the energy to write up what I learned at the SDS con. Maybe tomorrow? Or next week?


I did go swimming for the first time since Doc said "rest my hip." The water was so delicious! I get to trade water for cognition. I'm so grateful I don't have any deadlines right now.

April So Far

Apr. 16th, 2019 06:16 am
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[personal profile] sartorias
An extremely rough month on the family front, and tomorrow I go north for another stint on the far front. (The one at home has been bad enough.)

News is worse. As I walked through the kitchen at different hours yesterday, both times the news coverage was showing the Notre Dame spire falling, which gave me a sharp, unpleasant throwback first to 9/11, but then also (in black and white) to certain clips of President Kennedy's assassination, which you could not get away from, late '63, early '64. TV, magazines, had those same pictures, now permanently etched in my memory.

Re Notre Dame, that 800 year old edifice has taken hits before. Notably, the French Revolution. It was very badly damaged by revolutionaries. It was gussied up superficially by Napoleon so that he could be crowned emperor there (though French kings had actually been crowned and buried at Reims and St-Denis respectively). It wasn't until Victor Hugo wrote about it so nostalgically (he also did that about other parts of old Paris in Les Miserables) that it was finally restored as much as nineteenth century tech was able to do so. I believe some of those famous gargoyles appeared then, if I'm not mistake, remembering my tour as an awe-filled student in 1972, listening to the tour guide heavily French-accented German.

The dawn of the automobile has done nearly as much damage as the revolutionaries, just not to the art, which was carried out. Whenever I smell diesel smoke on a city street still, I'm thrown back to the Paris I roamed in '72, and then again in '75, which smelled of diesel first, then equal parts cigarette smoke and urine. (there were outside urinals for men in those days, and there was also a lot of alleyway and building pissing). The urine never hurt the church building, but I bet anything that grainy smoke that got all over your clothes and in your hair after a day's wandering certainly did. It had had an entire century of accumulation.

Notre Dame was a living church--that is, unlike many, hadn't been turned into a museum, but was still consecrated. I image Palm Sunday masses were held earlier that day, before the fire.

In other news, something that likely only excites me--the narrator for A Sword Named Truth is really taking the pronunciation seriously, and even consulted me about overall narrative tone. Wow, this is what the A-listers must feel like. I don't expect to ever get this kind of attention again. I am so grateful.
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Cover of Any Old Diamonds


Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes is the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, with a bitter grudge against his wealthy father. The Duke intends to give his Duchess a priceless diamond parure on their wedding anniversary—so Alec hires a pair of jewel thieves to steal it.

The Duke's remote castle is a difficult target, and Alec needs a way to get the thieves in. Soldier-turned-criminal Jerry Crozier has the answer: he'll pose as a Society gentleman and become Alec's new best friend.

But Jerry is a dangerous man: controlling, remote, and devastating. He effortlessly teases out the lonely young nobleman’s most secret desires, and soon he’s got Alec in his bed—and the palm of his hand.

Or maybe not. Because as the plot thickens, betrayals, secrets, new loves, and old evils come to light. Now the jewel thief and the aristocrat must keep up the pretence, find their way through a maze of privilege and deceit, and confront the truth of what's between them...all without getting caught.


Alec Pyne is the cast-off son of a duke, who hires a pair of jewel thieves to rob his father in revenge. Cue constant threats of betrayal, unexpected feelings, and HEISTS. Oh, and as you may have noticed when I squeaked about this before, I really liked it. It has possibly knocked Spectred Isle off its spot as my favourite KJ Charles book, which em>seriously takes some doing.

Read more... )

Day 5: Trip Home

Apr. 14th, 2019 06:55 pm
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[personal profile] jesse_the_k

My last conference event was a free lunch, with fond farewells to new friends.

MyGuy & Bella pick me up at 115. We’re returning on the hypotenuse from the journey down on I90 to I60 to i70, traveling state and US highways. Sometimes known as blue roads because that’s how they’re shown on paper maps.

and so we dawdled northwesterly )

Fandom: Thor

Apr. 14th, 2019 01:59 pm
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[personal profile] escritoireazul
Previously in this long time marathon: I apparently did not write about rewatching Captain America, Agent Carter, Captain Marvel, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man 2.

I am sick right now, sore throat and exhaustion and all, so what better time than to rewatch Thor? I had zero interest in the movie until I saw a gif set on Tumblr that included Sif and then I was 100% into giving it a try.

And then I fell in love with it.

Thor )

The Thor trilogy is one of my favorite parts of the MCU, mostly because Thor is one of my favorite characters and I love the science fiction meets fantasy weight of them. Overall, not as good as the Iron Man trilogy, but Thor as a whole has a stronger character arc across the MCU. This is by far one of the most beautiful movies of the MCU, too.

Fanwork Recs — April 11th 2019

Apr. 11th, 2019 08:21 am
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[personal profile] helloladies posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Fanwork is awesome and sharing fanwork is even more awesome. Join us as we keymash and squee over our favorite fanwork, from fic (both written and podfic) to art to vids and meta and back again.

If you find something you love, we encourage you to comment/favorite and let the creator know you enjoyed their work. :D o/


Recommendations included:
  • Digimon — art (1)

  • Dragon Age — fic (1)

  • MCU — cosplay (1)

  • Pokémon — art (1)


Read more... )

What fanwork have you loved recently?
st_aurafina: Rainbow DNA (Default)
[personal profile] st_aurafina
[community profile] multifandomdrabble was fun, as always, and I was very lucky with gifts:

- Try A Hand Too by [archiveofourown.org profile] Lady_Katana4544 (Person of Interest, John/Harold, the worst fake couple scenario imaginable. So cute and fun!)

- Jam Today by [archiveofourown.org profile] Meatball42 (Person of Interest, John/Grace/Harold, lovely domestic fic, with John taking care of Harold and Grace both.)

- Pancakes by [archiveofourown.org profile] syrupwit (The Punisher, Karen/Frank, lovely quiet middle of the night scene.)

(Also, I haven't talked much about The Punisher, but I've watched all of S1 and a couple of S2 so far, and ugh SO GOOD.)

- let me google that for you by [archiveofourown.org profile] Hyacinthus (The Exorcist, Verity and and a stealth connection made with Kat Rance. So very Verity!)

And I wrote three:

- Homecoming (The Exorcist, Marcus Keane/Peter Osborne)

- Helpmeet (Hannibal, Chiyoh/Bedelia Du Maurier)

- New Pathways (Star Trek: Discovery, Hugh Culber/Paul Stamets)

Fic: Multifandom Drabbles

Apr. 11th, 2019 03:32 pm
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[personal profile] st_aurafina
Title: Homecoming
Fandom: The Exorcist
Rating: Teen
Words: 100
Characters/Pairings: Marcus Keane/Peter Osborne
Warnings/Content: Domesticity, early mornings
Notes: Written for [archiveofourown.org profile] hyacinthus

Summary: This is something Marcus has never known.

Also at the Archive

It's a month of mornings before Marcus realises )

---

Title: Helpmeet
Fandom: Hannibal
Rating: Teen
Words: 100 words
Characters/Pairings: Chiyoh/Bedelia Du Maurier
Warnings/Content: D/s, Breathplay
Notes: Written for [archiveofourown.org profile] humanveil

Summary: Chiyoh is the perfect PA.

Also at the Archive

On the book tour, Chiyoh is the perfect PA )

---

Title: New Pathways
Fandom: Star Trek: Discovery
Rating: Teen
Words: 300
Characters/Pairings: Hugh Culber/Paul Stamets
Warnings/Content: Fix-It of Sorts, Healing, First Dates, Triple Drabble
Notes: Written for [archiveofourown.org profile] sys

Summary: Paul is hurting and Hugh knows he should feel something.

Also at the Archive

Everything Hugh says hurts Paul )

Giveaway notice

Apr. 10th, 2019 10:40 am
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[personal profile] sartorias
Poking my head out of the bunker to pass the word that DAW is offering a giveaway of A SWORD NAMED TRUTH, the first in the RISE OF THE ALLIANCE series. (All written, just not scheduled yet!)

This is a pre-copyedit version, for anyone who wants to see it ahead of pub date in June, or who likes to compare drafts with the finished book!

More deets here

Adventures Elsewhere — March 2019

Apr. 10th, 2019 09:32 am
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[personal profile] helloladies posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Adventures Elsewhere collects our reviews, guest posts, articles, and other content we've spread across the Internet recently! See what we've been up in our other projects. :D


Read more... )

Our Favourite Media of March 2019

Apr. 9th, 2019 09:28 pm
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[personal profile] helloladies posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Each month, we look back over the media we loved in the previous month, from books to film to video games and more.


Read more... )

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