Wanna read some F/F shifter stories for a good cause?

I don't have a story in this anthology - I really wanted to write one, but things intervened - but I did help put it together. [personal profile] sholio and [personal profile] ellenmillion have stories here.

She found her fated mate ... and so did she!

Meet the shifter women who will do anything to claim their mates, and the women who love them. From sweet to sizzling, from dragons to wolves to moose, these eight standalone tales of lesbian shifter romance all have a guaranteed happily ever after!

All profits from this collection will be donated to OutRight Action International which works to protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people across the world.

Read more... )

Her Wild Soulmate

Absolutely nothing to do with what she did or didn't say about books. I don't need help with books, as that's the one form of decluttering I already do regularly and in a way that satisfies me. This is about what I didn't already know and what I did find helpful, and how I used it as a jumping off point.

Some possibly relevant context is that I'm not a naturally good housekeeper, I'm untidy and disorganized in that way (except for books and other things I actively collect), and also that due to being sick for years, I have a large backlog of cleaning/decluttering I haven't done. My apartment doesn't look like the Howard Hughes residence, but it is cluttered and my natural tendency to lose things is exacerbated by that. Skip if you're sick of people discussing her, decluttering, or related matters. Read more... )
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
( Jan. 14th, 2019 12:13 pm)
I recently read Talisman, a graphic novel about Marcie, who has a book she loves as a child, loses it, forgets what it's called, and goes on a quest first to find and then to recreate it, which ends up changing her entire life.

I had multiple books like that. Children tend not to register author names or titles, and I travelled and moved often, including between the US and India, so I might lose a small-press book only published in India and never find it again. Some I have managed to rediscover, while some remain lost.

I have ascertained that Dariba the Good Little Rakshasa, about a kid demon who keeps getting in trouble because he's nice when he's supposed to be wicked, exists but seems unavailable. My most recent rediscovery was Mystery of the Witches Bridge; the beginning of the review explains how it was rediscovered. It was as much of a delight as when I'd first read it.

I used to read a children's magazine, Chandamama, which had a serialized fantasy story which I read in scraps and pieces, as I often missed issues and then found old ones in a friend's house, and so it felt beautiful and dreamlike. It had beautiful illustrations in a classic Indian style. When Lucy reads the story "for the refreshment of the spirit" in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and can then only remember that there was a king and a hill and a cup and a sword, and she'd give anything to be able to read it again, I think of my lost serial: there was a princess and a flying chariot and a Goddess and a lotus and a kingdom in the air, and I'd give anything to be able to read it again.

Another that haunted me was a book of fairytales from many lands. I think they may have been adapted by different authors as they had very different styles. They were more adult than usual. A tale from France had a rose who turned into a man; he raped a woman, felt guilty, and became a rose again. A Scandinavian tale had a young man tending a red bull for three sisters; there was one who was beautiful and seemed kind, but when she parted her hair he saw a third eye in the center of her forehead. He and the bull fled into a blizzard, and I think it was ambiguous whether they survived or not. Another tale, I think from either Africa or New Guinea, had a man and a woman in a boat on the ocean, and they ate yams in three colors, white and purple and black.

No one has ever been able to find this book. I found a fairytale that's similar to the one with the bull, but it's not quite the same story. I sometimes wonder if I dreamed it. But think it was real.

Did you have a lost book? If you found it, did it capture the same magic you felt as a child, or was it disappointing? Did it change your life?
If there was a cocktail called a Madonna's Rabbi, what would be in it?

(I realize that perhaps this requires some context. The context was that a surgeon whom I had been referred to for a surgical consult pressured me to see Madonna's rabbi, on the theory that studying the Kabbalah would fix me because my symptoms were all in my head and studying the Kabbalah with Madonna's rabbi had fixed the surgeon's extremely TMI physical symptom caused by his even more TMI marital problems. This was additionally surreal as I initially thought he'd said Madonna's rabbit, then realized that rabbits cannot study Kabbalah. I have bad luck with doctors. Anyway, when this came up in conversation I thought it sounded like a cocktail.)
A well-executed but somewhat standard science fiction novella on the old trope of “person from seemingly magical/primitive society gets exiled from it, discovers it’s actually a terraforming project gone wrong.” (This isn’t spoilery – readers will pick up on the overall premise, if not the exact details, way before the protagonist does.)

It’s an enjoyable read but there’s nothing really special here other than some nice flourishes involving Tchaikovsky’s favorite thing, bugs. The ancient technology is executed via bugs, the plot revolves around marking people as outcasts in a way that I think was inspired by how ants can tell that another ant is from a different colony, and there are some fucking creepy descriptions of the native bug life. Contains some unsettling body horror in addition to bugs, bugs, and more bugs.

Though this is short and so seemingly a good gateway drug, it doesn't really show off Tchaikovsky's strengths. Unless someone has a different shorter work they'd suggest, I'd start with one of his full-length novels instead.
[personal profile] cahn is reading for the first time, I'm enjoying the live blog which started here, with spoilers decodable at rot13.com: https://rachelmanija.dreamwidth.org/2242114.html?thread=25025346#cmt25025346

I put up this post so she can liveblog without either being spoiled or having to code everything. Please don't spoil her for future events. If you haven't read the book yet, be aware that there will be spoilers in comments.
I was delighted to see that way more people had read Ash than I had expected. My review elided most of the plot and character discussion because nearly everything about both is spoilery. So, if anyone wants, let's discuss Ash!

Massive spoilers below and in comments. I'm not doing another review, more some notes and providing a discussion space.Read more... )
Ash: A Secret History appears to be the faux history of Ash, a medieval woman who lead a mercenary company, in the form of a translation of a manuscript written shortly after her death, complete with a framing device of emails from its modern translator to his editor. It is that, but it’s also much stranger than just that. Don’t skip the emails, they’re not window dressing but essential.

The weirdness seeps in early on, with a version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” whose lyrics suggest an entirely different religious tradition. Ash hears a voice in her head which she interprets as that of a saint, but it's also referred to as a “tactical machine” or even “tactical computer.” The translator has a footnote with the original text to explain how he got that translation, along with a note that it obviously must really mean something else. What in the world is going on here?

Along with Shadows of the Apt, this gets my vote as one of the greatest giant fantasy epics that most people haven’t even heard of, let alone read. Ash is complete in four volumes, which were released all at once as it was written as a single gigantic novel. I recently re-read it, and went to see if there was an e-version partway through so I didn’t have to lug around four fat volumes. There is and it’s only $3.99 for the entire thing, which is why I decided to write about it.

Ash is definitely not for everyone. It’s both deeply weird and extremely dark. Eight-year-old Ash is raped (non-graphically, but…) on page one, then manages to kill the men who raped her. That sets the tone for the rest of the book. On a grimdark scale, it’s darker than Shadows of the Apt, but less dark than Gentle’s own Ancient Light - not “rocks fall, everybody dies,” but “rocks fall, a lot of people die. And also shit themselves. And do horrible things.”

Most of the characters are objectively terrible but I found a lot of them compelling and even likable despite that. My favorite is the most important queer female character. (There’s several, as well as important male characters). Also the adorable pet rats, who have a higher survival rate than the human characters.

There’s a very interesting central theme in Ash about the erasure and interpretation of history, particularly in regard to women. Ash is extremely unusual within the context of her time, as the female leader of a mercenary company, but less unusual as a woman involved in war as an active participant rather than a victim. That’s a part of history that tends to be erased or elided. Women in support roles (for instance, washerwomen) are not counted as part of the army, while men in similar noncombatant roles are. Exceptional men are lauded as such, while exceptional women are either erased or held up as proof that they are an exception and should not be viewed as proof of what women can do.

Here’s an example from the real world. I’ve read a lot of first-person accounts and histories of the war which is variously known as the First War of Indian Independence, the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and the Sepoy Mutiny. (That by itself an example of what I mean by erasure and interpretation of history.)

One of its leaders in the fight against the British forces was an Indian queen, Rani Lakshmibai, who was killed in battle. Multiple accounts attest that not only did she personally fight in combat, but so did other women. However, Indian accounts tend to say “There were women in the army, including as gunners,” and “the Rani was found dead along with two women in her personal guard,” while British accounts tend to say “So many men were killed that sometimes women were seen doing tasks such as assisting the gunners,” and “the Rani was found dead along with two of her handmaidens. All three were disguised as men.”

How are they getting such different narratives from the same set of facts? Multiple groups of people saw women involved in combat, wearing the same uniforms as the men. One set of people concluded that the women were actually handmaidens or other civilians and were in disguise. Another concluded that they were female soldiers in uniform, doing the things that soldiers do. Those are vastly different stories, suggesting vastly different things about the military culture of Jhansi.

Ash delves into that sort of thing from all sorts of different angles. It's an incredibly immersive experience if you’re up for it. I spent a couple days nearly entire devoted to re-reading the series, and I had a great time. The worldbuilding and story are fascinating, and the sff elements are really cool.

Warnings for rape, child abuse, misogyny, very graphic violence, homophobia (on the part of the characters, not the author), racial slurs, animal harm, and more.

Please no comments along the lines of "There's enough bad stuff in reality that I have no need or desire to read about it in fiction." That's a totally valid point of view, but seeing that comment every time I post on darker works makes me hesitate to post on them, and I'm trying to post more in general.

Ash: A Secret History

Gave up on writing a coherent review; incoherent notes below cut. Extremely spoilery! Read more... )

What a wild ride. So glad I heard about these books via Layla. Darkness and tragedy notwithstanding, they were wonderful and I wish there were ten more of them.

War Master's Gate (Shadows of the Apt Book 9)

Seal of the Worm (Shadows of the Apt Book 10)

King of the Cats involves Jaeger’s own people, the Ascians, with whom he has a very difficult relationship due to being both a Finder and a Sin-Eater, which in terms of respectability is the equivalent of being both an oncologist and a crack dealer, and the Nyima, who are bipedal lionesses; how they reproduce and exactly what their relationship is with what appear to be nonsentient regular lions is mysterious at the start (it's more complicated than "the lions are male and they fuck.") Both societies are involved in complicated negotiations at Munkytown, which is a satire of Disneyland.

I am not big on satires of Disneyland as it’s such an easy target and is essentially its own satire, and this book didn’t change my mind. The lion people were fascinating if you read the footnotes and almost completely incomprehensible if you didn’t. The negotiations were also pretty incomprehensible unless you read the footnotes, but only mildly interesting if you did. Great art, though. Also a hilarious bit where Jaeger deals with being chased by a mob by stripping, then fleeing when all the parents cover their children’s eyes.

Mystery Date features Jaeger only in brief cameo in which he has an unflattering moustache. The heroine is Vary Krishna, a student at both the university and of sex work, which in her case is a reasonably respectable and safe profession. She has massive crushes on two of her anthropology professors, one of whom is a sweet and lonely dinosaur-like being (a laeske), and one of whom is an extremely mysterious and cranky human man with prosthetic legs designed for a laeske who really does not appreciate his students making passes at him – yes, even if they’re as adorable and sexy as Vary. (Vary is extremely adorable and sexy.)

Vary’s story is partly about the experience of being a student crushing on an unavailable professor, partly about growing up, partly about culture clashes (she comes from an extremely rural background and the city is very foreign to her), and partly about the difficulty and rewards of relationships in general, in which there’s always culture clashes going on at an individual level even if there isn’t at a literal culture level. It’s funny and sweet. Also, her roomate is a humanoid Pomeranian in bondage gear.

Of all the Finder books I’ve read yet, King of the Cats has the most crucial plot information buried in the footnotes and not intelligible by just reading the story, while Mystery Date is almost entirely straightforward in terms of being able to get what you actually need to know just from reading the book. The only really important stuff in Mystery Date that’s hidden in footnotes are the solutions to some of the mysteries surrounding the professor, such as why his prosthetic legs weren’t designed for humans and why he wears a blindfold; the answers make perfect sense, but are much more mundane than I had imagined. That may well be the point as a lot of the story has to do with outsider/insider perspective, exotification vs. reality, etc.

In King of the Cats there’s elaborate and satisfying explanations of what’s going on in the plot in the footnotes, but for me, without the footnotes, the plot was basically “There’s a parody of Disneyland and Jaeger’s caught between two tribes. The lion people choose their new king somehow (how does that work???) (are we supposed to know who he is????) and the Ascian chief is trying to make peace with them and somehow this happens (maybe ???) (why???) (Is this good or bad for the Ascians???) (What did Jaeger have to do with it, if anything???)”

Apparently I mixed up the order a bit while reading; Dream Sequence comes in between these two books. I'll read that next. I suspect that this particular reading order flub is not crucial. The first collection has Sin-Eater, King of the Cats, and Talisman. The second has Dream Sequence, Mystery Date, The Rescuers, and Five Crazy Women. I bought the latter as at $8.95, it was a lot cheaper than buying three more individual volumes even though I already had Mystery Date.

Finder Library Volume 1

Finder : Sin-Eater, vol. 2

There are still a bunch of stories I haven't even gotten to yet. Lots of people wrote 5K+ this year. Here's a few more I enjoyed:

On the Shore, the Whalebone and the Horseshoe Crab. Aliens, post-movie but assumes Aliens 3 didn't happen. Great IN SPAAACE casefic with good dialogue and sizzling chemistry between Ripley and Hicks.

There were a bunch of good Annihilation movie stories. I especially liked the two centered on Josie and Anya, the beautifully eerie Cocoon and eerily beautiful Apotheosis.

Learning to See a Future, The Blue Sword - Robin McKinley. Pitch-perfect McKinley voice, about Harry and Corlath's teenage daughter being a bridge between her two societies, with great atmosphere and cameos from book characters.

There were three stories based on Sarah Monette's The Bone Key and I liked all of them. smiling, smiling (a direct sequel to "The Venebretti Necklace" and A Letter from a Private Patron are Claudia-centric, and the very well-written That Which Walks Unseen focuses on Booth, Ratcliffe, and an exceptionally creepy entity. (Incidentally, I don't think I ever recced The Book of the Duplicitous Dead from Yuletide 2016 but it's extremely eerie and has a wonderful concept. Definitely read if you're interested in fic for this fandom.)

Lodestone. Chronicles of Morgaine - C. J. Cherryh. Atmospheric exploration of a new world, Morgaine and Vanye's relationship, and the lengths they'll go to for each other.

A-Jobbing I Will Go. Medieval Manuscript Illustrations (penis trees, barnacle geese, etc). Colloquial voice; particularly hilarious conclusion.

Flourish. A Quiet Place. Lovely, delicate post-apocalyptic Christmas in a world where sound is deadly.

Always Be Somewhat Suspect. Rosemary's Baby. Beautifully written, neatly structured exploration of the worst person in the world - and, as one comment put it, he's in a story that includes literal minions of Satan.
I have a new book out under my Zoe Chant pen name. It's the final book in Protection, Inc. What a wild ride that's been. But if you like the series, don't worry - it sets up a spinoff, Protection, Inc: Defenders.

If you'd like a copy in epub, please email me or comment to this post.

Lost in the jungle. Pursued by dinosaurs. And that’s the least of their problems…

Tiger shifter and bodyguard Destiny knows Ethan isn’t the one.

No matter that the Recon Marine is the only man who can keep up with her, in a fight or on the dance floor. No matter how he makes her laugh, or how he makes her burn. Shifters always know their mates, and her tiger says he isn’t hers.

But when Ethan’s fire team goes missing on a secret mission, somehow Destiny knows he’s in danger. Drawn by mysterious instincts, she’s the only person who can find him...

And what she’ll discover will change everything she thinks she knows about shifters…and herself.

Discover shifters like you’ve never seen them before in this thrilling action-packed romance! If you love paranormal romance with strong women and tough men, not to mention dinosaurs and adorable flying kittens (yes, really), scroll up and one-click today!

Top Gun Tiger (Protection, Inc. Book 7)

A magical plague sweeps the world, turning affected humans and animals into monsters, and only the Nordic nations survive. (At least, as far as they know.) Iceland, which isolated itself, is the most advanced country in the world, Denmark has its human population living entirely on a tiny island, the Finns are considered odd and backward and have their own unique kind of magic, and cats are essential military supplies as they can sense trolls.

Characters are introduced in brisk and witty summations, then developed from there. This makes the large cast a lot easier to track, and gives the whole world a sense that it’s full of real people with quirks and agendas, even if they only appear on a single page. The main cast consists of a handful of expendable weirdos and misfits who have been selected to go on a mission into the Silent Land, where trolls and monsters roam unopposed, to bring back books. Old books are a rarity as trolls can be destroyed by fire, so big chunks of previous human habitation have been burned to the ground.

A stunningly beautiful, inventive, witty, fun, and sometimes spooky full-color webcomic. The cast is extremely likable, the world is wonderful, and the author’s in-universe military recruitment pamphlets (clearly gunning for cannon fodder), explanation of the grades of cats (A, B, and C, according to how much training they have), and so forth are both hilarious and great worldbuilding. I can’t overstate how much I enjoyed this or recommend it too highly.

I have a hard time reading comics online, so I read this in paper form. I’ve only read the first book, so I left off when the expedition has just started out and Lalli is seeing visions of a redheaded girl with a braid and freckles. Please no spoilers past that point.

The full-color art is absolutely gorgeous, as is the design of the paper book. If you can afford it, it’s certainly worth it; if not, you can read the entire saga for free online. Books 1 and 2 can be ordered in hard copy. I believe the story is still ongoing.
Thank you so much for writing for me! I love this exchange and I really look forward to whatever you create for me. I have requested fic only due to my total inability to come up with art prompts. However, if anyone would like to do an art treat, I would love that. Worksafe only please.

I have requested all of these fandoms before except for 'Salem's Lot, and you can find even more prompts by clicking the "fic exchange letter" tag. All previous prompts for these pairings are still valid.

If you want to cross any of these fandoms over with each other, feel free!

General Loves )

General DNWs )

The Leftovers )

Dark Tower - Stephen King )

Marvel Comics (X-Men, New Mutants, and Excalibur comics) )

The Punisher (TV 2017) (listed as Marvel Netflix) )

'Salem's Lot - Stephen King )

The Stand - Stephen King )

True Detective )
rachelmanija: (Autumn: small leaves)
( Jan. 1st, 2019 12:12 pm)
I wrote four stories this Yuletide.

On Wings of Song, for basketofnovas (slashmarks). 4000 words. Dragonriders of Pern, Mirrim/Menolly. Canon AU.

Menolly's life takes a different path.

I hold with those who favor fire, for Rubynye. 323 words (Yuletide Madness). Firestarter - Stephen King.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.

Who's got their hand in the oopsy jar?, for pariahsdream. A Simple Favor. Emily/Stephanie. Explicit.

It was like Emily’s breasts secreted perfect martinis instead of milk. Magical martinis that transmitted themselves straight into your bloodstream without having to pass your lips. With her fingers on the magic martini nipple, Stephanie lost the ability to form sentences or say the word no.

The Luckiest Woman in the World, for scioscribe. The Leftovers. Nora Durst/Kevin Garvey, Jr.

Nora Durst in another world.
rachelmanija: (Autumn: small leaves)
( Dec. 29th, 2018 01:26 pm)
I have barely even begun to read the archive, so there's much more that I have bookmarked but unread. A few favorites so far:

Battle Snails and Penis Trees - Medieval Manuscript Illustrations

I haven't read all of these yet but all the ones I have read have been utterly delightful.

The Marvels of Whitby. A pair of monks write each other about the marvels they have seen. Snails and hares cannot do battle like knights. They are too small and know nothing of metallurgy.

A Demand for Butter. Goodly reader, fair patroness in control of her own purse strings, consider then the question of love. Of battles to impress a lady fair.

Of snails.

rosy as a flushed red apple skin (never been as sweet). This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, you can purchase it for $39.99. Or login via your institution.

Other related articles:

On Symbols, Signs and What You Can Hold in Your Hand: The Semiotics and Realities of the Penis Tree by Heloise Peters.

Other fandoms

This Blank Card. Consider Phlebas. A very moving and well-written look at Perostock Balveda after the book, and also a good look at the Culture at that point in time.

Written In Another Key. Dragonriders of Pern. An adult Menolly, just made Harper, solves a sort of locked-room mystery with Robinton's assistance. A very nicely constructed and sweet look at Menolly growing into her new role, with a cameo by Audiva.

We'll Have to Muddle Through Somehow. Iron Fist. Danny invites Ward over for Christmas. The Rand-Wing-Meachum holiday traditions may need a little fine-tuning. Sweet, funny, and a bit heartbreaking.

Old-Fashioned. The Punisher TV. Frank/Karen. Sweet but with appropriately rough edges, two wounded people cautiously feeling their way toward each other.

deep red bells. The Stand - Stephen King. A really imaginative/unusual, beautifully written canon divergence AU about Nadine Cross and Randall Flagg.

Seven Views of the Tay Bridge Disaster.
The Tay Bridge Disaster - William McGonagall. The original poem is famously bad - this poem on the same subject is very good, and not a joke.
Cemetary Polka Sandman. Death of the Endless/Thessaly (Larissa). Sensual and beautifully written, a pair of perfect character portraits and so much more. If you liked Sandman at all, you should definitely read this.

Unexpected. Dragonriders of Pern – Anne McCaffrey. Kylara/Lessa. Kylara Impresses a bronze dragon. Sexual tension rather than actual sex, but sizzling. Great characterization of both women.

Sanctum. The Scar, by China Mieville. Bellis Coldwine/Carianne. A touching and atmospheric postscript to the book, with Mieville’s diction but more kindness and comfort.

For Everything Else. Crazy Rich Asians. Rachel Chu/Eleanor Young. Five gifts Eleanor gave Rachel, and one gift Rachel gave Eleanor. Aptly tagged “infidelity” and “a truly shocking amount of money.” Fucked up and hot.

Welcome to the Family. The Exorcist TV. Kat Rance/Verity. Post-season two, a lovely bit of healing for the whole family.
rachelmanija: (Autumn: small leaves)
( Dec. 26th, 2018 11:52 am)
The Yuletide Archive this year is full of wonderful stories, complete with the yearly array of quirky, Yuletide-only fandoms. This year it's The Voynich Manuscript and Medieval Manuscript Illustrations such as knights fighting snails, penis trees, and barnacle geese.

Other fandoms that may be of interest include Crazy Rich Asians, C. J. Cherryh's Morgaine Chronicles, Stephen King's The Stand and The Long Walk, Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern, Ursula K. Le Guin's Always Coming Home, Earthsea, and The Left Hand of Darkness, and William McGonnigall's The Tay Bridge Disaster.

I got two absolutely fantastic stories. It was a great Yuletide for me.

Unfit to Be Strangers. The Leftovers. They're all alone together. A haunting and very moving story about grief and new connections in a post-apocalyptic world. It's spoilery for an aspect of the show which I would highly recommend not being spoiled for, so if you haven't seen it and are considering watching it, don't read this. But if you're definitely not going to see the show, this story stands on its own as it's about original characters.

Lifeline. The Punisher TV. A flashbang leaves Frank temporarily blind and deaf while attempting to rescue hostages, including David. If you like the show, you have got to read this story. It's 10K of exciting action and Frank & David interaction, and is very clever and impressive in that it's basically Die Hard only he actually is blind and deaf for most of the story.

I have four stories total between the main collection and Yuletide Madness, if you want to try to find them.
I woke up to TWO wonderful-looking Yuletide stories! I also woke up to family excitement and celebrations. I'm going to save the stories for when I can actually read them, which will probably be later today or tonight.
I checked this out of the library for the rather shallow reason of enjoying Cumming’s natural Scottish accent, under the impression that it was a memoir about his showbiz career and the title referred to his career path.

It’s actually a fairly intense memoir about his childhood with a physically and verbally abusive father, and how that came back to haunt him when he did a show where they researched his genealogy. While Cumming became fascinated with a relative on his mother’s side, a war hero who died under mysterious circumstances, he also found out some complicated secrets involving his father. The result was basically Alan Cumming’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Summer: Family Secrets Edition.

It’s well-written and Cumming comes across as very honest and likable. The story is interesting, though some parts start feeling a bit repetitive. It does talk about show business, but that’s more in the background than the foreground; it’s much more about difficult family issues, coming to terms with your past, and child abuse recovery. It’s a solid book and his voice is indeed lovely, though I’m still left wanting to know his thoughts on Cabaret.

Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming Audio CD



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