Remember back when I used to (try to) write an AEL about almost every art I experienced? I used to start the AEL and add stuff as I went along. But then I wouldn’t finish writing up my thoughts on all those things, and then I’d start another AEL and do the same thing XD So I have all these unfinished entries in my Drafts folder. Since it’s been years on most of them, I’m obviously never going to finish them… so here I’m importing all the thoughts that were in a couple of them, whether they’re finished or not. To reiterate: this was all a long-ass time ago.
Batwoman (New 52) — I mentioned starting to read this series before, but this time I read the entire thing. And, geez, the instant you put on a bat symbol, things in your life just start arranging themselves around your childhood trauma to create as many stabbing reminders and painful parallels as possible, don’t they? I don’t know why it seems almost to feel like an AU to a lot of these writers to have Batman or Batwoman taking part in crime-fighting that has absolutely nothing to do with what happened to them when they were younger.
That’s not necessarily a complaint about this specific story, but it definitely applies. While it’s kinda fun to see Beth come back over and over again, I think I’ll probably get tired of it eventually.
Anyway, the stories in this series were great right up until the end. Medusa’s organization and all the monsters and mythology were very interesting and compelling, and I loved to see Wonder Woman get involved because of it. Diana and Kate are such opposites in so many ways, watching them work together was amazing. Much as I love Kate with Maggie, I also totally ship her with Diana. (And that’s a planned pairing in my DCAUniverse.)
Harry Potter — What work was Arthur Weasley doing at the Ministry during the Voldemort regime? I hardly think anything he did previously would have been considered useful by the Death Eaters. Obviously they wanted to keep him around, waiting for him to slip up so he could be arrested and/or spill valuable information about Undesirables — and he knew that perfectly well, so perhaps whatever flimsy nominal work they found for him to do wasn’t fooling anybody.
According to Rowling, Umbridge was “convicted of the torture, imprisonment and deaths of several people” — and rightly so! Umbridge is one of the most disgusting and unambiguously evil people I’ve ever read about, a truly wonderful character that I love to hate. I have to wonder, though… obviously nothing can justify the atrocities she committed during Voldemort’s regime, but did anyone at her trial take into account the fact that she was literally wearing a piece of Voldemort around her neck for part of that time?
I generally dislike it when “Why didn’t so-and-so think of such-and-such?” is referred to as a “plot hole.” As Dickens said, “it is always the person not in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done in it, and would unquestionably have done it too,” and how arrogant is it to assume that any rational being would naturally think of what you the uncompromised reader are thinking of in any given situation?
However, every once in a while, a character doesn’t think of something so obvious — something they thought of just before the incident in question, for example, something they think about all the time, or something they have deeply-ingrained psychological reasons not to forget — that I have a difficult time writing it off as natural forgetfulness in the situation and must consider it, if not exactly a “plot hole,” at least some negligence on the author’s part.
The running joke of stunning Dawlish gets funnier every time it comes up, until by the time you hear about Mrs. Longbottom doing it… well, I, at least, tend to be overcome with laughter at that point.
The Rogue by Trudi Canavan — Now this was the book I really wanted to get to — i.e. the one with the lesbians. And it was pretty delightful all over again. Because lesbians. Well, I mean, I liked the entire book, but seriously. Lesbians.
The first time I read The Black Magician Trilogy, I was extremely happy about Dannyl and Tayend, not just because it was a fun romantic story to follow but because I hadn’t encountered a lot of queer content in mainstream books yet. Then when I first started reading The Traitor Spy trilogy, I was pleased with the direction she’d taken their relationship because it seemed so realistic and veered away from what could have been fangirly territory. AND THEN. When Lilia appear and almost immediately starts a crush on another gal, I was in heaven. I’ve never encountered representation of precisely how I identify, but allosexual lesbian gives me massive feels nonetheless.
And Lilia’s story is hella interesting, even if it’s still completely unrelated to the business in Sachaka that makes up the main story of the trilogy. And I like that, after a reckless, whirlwind infatuation, Lilia learns important life lessons and then is allowed to take her time becoming interested in Anyi. It’s great that the second instance of queer representation evolves totally differently than the first, so it doesn’t feel like the author is checking boxes.
I have to admit that, after the first time I read this second trilogy, I completely forgot about the drama between Dorrien and Sonea; but I really liked it this time. It was good to wrap up what could be considered a dangling thread from the first set of books, but I thought it was also important in that it made Sonea aware of the fact that she could be ready for another romance in her life. That’s a crucial step, after emphasizing her lingering love for and sense of loss over Akkarin, in reconciling me to her eventual relationship with Regin. Also I love that Rothen picked up on the drama without having to be told XD
Elena of Avalor — Naturally the moment I finished Sofia the First, I dashed on to its spinoff expecting a series just as touching, engaging, and amusing with music just as excellent. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. It’s not a bad or unenjoyable show, but comparing it to StF (which I shouldn’t but inevitably do), I find it comes up short.
And I can’t even quite pinpoint what makes it so inferior. I think it’s probably simply that nothing stands out in EoA (effect of area?) the way so many things do in StF. The StF voice acting — speaking and singing — is head-and-shoulders above what I expect from most television and more in the Disney Big Theater Release league; but everyone in Avalor sounds pretty average. The songs Sofia and her acquaintances sing are phenomenal, and I listen to my Sofia the First playlist almost every day… whereas I can’t remember any of the songs from Avalor. And the character arcs of Sofia and Amber and James and Cedric and everyone are so well developed and interesting, whereas everyone in EoA seems kinda… standard…. I think about romantic pairings in StF all the time, and most of those characters are far too young for any such thing; while in EoA, where they’re definitely old enough to be thinking about it, I kinda don’t care.
This all sounds pretty negative, but I really think it’s a Just OK show. I haven’t watched any of it for a while because it doesn’t draw me back in any way, but it’s OK. I think maybe if I could watch it in Spanish I might like it better, but Prime Video doesn’t have a Spanish dub available, so whatevs.
The (Complete) Book of Dragons by Edith Nesbit — This book is a little sexist and a little soporific, but I’m still very fond of it. All the stories have some degree of charm, and a few of them are so damn sweet I can’t even. I think one of the things I like best about them, though, and perhaps better than I actually enjoy them for their own sake, is coming across parts I hold fast in my memory from when I first read the book as a child, and then things I don’t ever seem to remember no matter how many times I’ve reread it since.
Touching Divinity by Benjamin Medrano — Trying to support queer self-published books, and appreciating that this one had a real cover illustration instead of a stock photo of a duck-lipping white teenage girl, I bought both the Kindle edition and the audiobook of this long story/short novella. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it. Frontloaded with tedious worldbuilding disproportionate to the length of the work as a whole; characters uninteresting, with smiles constantly playing across their faces except when they’re smiling; and what I guess is supposed to be a plot twist at the end that you can see coming from the beginning… I actually couldn’t even read the whole thing.
“It’s pretty disappointing, given how much more professional it looked than so many other self-published books on Amazon. I still like the cover illustration, and the fact that it had an audiobook version at all put it head-and-shoulders above much of what I see when I’m browsing their LGBT section. But if there’s one thing I can’t stand (and actually there are a lot of things I can’t stand), it’s multiple sentences of dialogue with an attribution at the end,” she groused, a smile crossing her face.
Jane Austen miscellany — Ugh. This hurts me so much. I’m referring specifically here to The Watsons and Sanditon, but… did I talk about Lady Susan earlier? I forget. Anyway, The Watsons and Sanditon hurt me so much. I can’t make much in-depth commentary about either of them (actually mostly because I’m writing this AEL so damn late I’ve forgotten my more detailed thoughts), but the main point is that I WANT MORE.
I desperately want to know what would have happened in each of these stories, what she would have made of all these characters, who would have gotten married at the end, and so on. Because she was such a consummate genius at characterization and the drama that resulted from throwing her extremely well drawn characters together, she captures your attention and your interest and even your sympathy from an early stage — before you even know kind of story she’s telling. So clever and penetrating… why did she have to die…
I’m also ridiculously curious what she would have done with Miss Lambe, since people of color were so rarely even mentioned in her entire body of work, let alone characters that had any spotlight. It may actually be for the best that we’ll never know, because if Austen’s treatment of her had revealed the racism of the time, the world would have its heart broken and never recover.
You know, sometimes people ask a question like, “If you could talk to anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?” And I think here I’ve found my answer. I would ask Jane Austen to tell me the rest of the stories of The Watsons and Sanditon.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain — What a strange book this is. Is it satire of classical adventure stories? Is it a comedy of juxtaposition between then-modernity and romantic feudal Europe? Is it political commentary? Is it a philosophical treatise on the nature of man, society, monarchy, and war? Is it a fantasy story or even a faery tale meant to excite and amaze with an early example of (apparent) time travel?