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Nov. 11th, 2012

haru excited


Long time no post...again. Overall I haven't been doing so well for various reasons. I don't know, it's not as if I am particularly unhappy with my life, but I'm also not particularly happy, either.

My focus on Japanese remains, though -I have the JLPT coming up, which is a bit worrisome. But I have no one to blame but myself either way. Right now I just want it to be over so I can focus on the fun part of learning again...

I joined a scanlation team last week and am almost finished with my first translation. It was -well, parts of it were really difficult and mostly I just hope they won't kick me out for being useless.. they're really nice though, so I doubt they'll do that. I'll just have to work hard so I can be more useful. It's really fun, though, even more so because I'm translating stuff from my latest fandom. Which is...

Kuroko no Basket. A basketball manga/anime that's almost impossibly slashy. I didn't think I'd like this at all when I started watching it, but by the end of the first ep I had already fallen hard. I actually ship a lot of different pairings/ variations, but Takao/Midorima are my favourites, followed closely by Kuroko/Kagami/Aomine. But really, there's hardly a pairing I don't like, which is rare.

Yeah, so that's that. I think I really should try doing yoga regularly again, but where to find the time...

Jul. 7th, 2010

haru excited

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Day 09 - A book you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving

This one was very hard to answer! Because I very rarely pick up books I don't think I would like - even when people recommend something to me, I only really read it when I think I would like it. Even when it comes to required reading - like back at school or uni - I never picked up a book expecting not to like it (or if I did it, I didn't like it in the end). But I had to pick something, so I'm going with the first book of Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy.

It fulfills the criterion in so much as I was a bit wary when I started reading it. This book is just so popular, and if we're honest, popular very, very rarely equals quality. So I expected it to be okay at best, but I was really surprised. The first volume does take a bit to get going, but once it does, it ends up as some of the best crime fiction I've ever read, with great characters and a lot of sensible notions about gender and relationships and sexuality. And it's really exciting and suspenseful.

Jul. 6th, 2010

haru excited

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Day 08: Most overrated book

It didn't take me that long to write this post simply because I was too busy or not in the mood - this actually was difficult to pick. Runners up were all the books by Paulo Coelho, Erich Emmanuel Schmitt and Francois Lelord, but I've decided to be a little less cynical and let them be all inspirational and stuff. Instead I pick...

Audrey Niffenegger's The Time-Traveller's Wife. It isn't a bad book, not like Twilight, for example, but it's also not This Great Life-Changing Book and Superromantic, er, Romance. And the time travel stuff is stupid. The worst parts were the creepy scenes were when he - as an adult - meets her as a child and goes on about their One True Love. I don't care if he marries her later, it's still creepy. And she's a complete Mary Sue and I didn't like her all that much.

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haru excited

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Hello! It's me! And I'm actually going to continue with the Book Meme! In the post after this one, though - first let me tell you what's been going on with my life.

My vacation officially started today, and I feel good. I'm looking forward to almost two more weeks of not doing much. I also feel good about myself, for what's probably the first time this year. I've starting working out regularly again, and I wish I could just manage to *remember* that yes, it's not that much fun at first, but then it gets easier and I feel so much better. Stronger. Healthier. In control. Add to this my new haircut and hair color, and my new bra, and there I am, a happy Sophie.

Recreationally, I've mostly been reading comics and playing video games. I finally managed to finish Uncharted, and I'm almost done with Uncharted 2, and let me just say that these games are fantastic. Great plot, interesting characters, and a good mix between shooting people and solving riddles. And climbing shit. *g* (That one is a direct quote from the game.)

As for comics - well, those of you following my goodreads account may have noticed that the number of read Marvel comics has climbed up from 21 (before Captain America) to, uh, 100. (Neat!) Oh my god, that means I've read 79
trades in the last two months. I'm insane. And also not broke, thanks to my subscription to Marvel Digital. At first, I only subscribed because I'd read the first volume of Captain America on a Sunday and I am not a very patient person. But then I figured that I might as well read the comics that didn't interest me that much or that I wasn't very sure about online at first, and that has turned out to be a good strategy. I've caught up to Secret Invasion now, and I'm glad I didn't buy that one.

Comics and characters I've enjoyed most so far - apart from Brubaker's Captain America are, in no particular order:
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Speaking of somewhat irrational or maybekinda disturbing crushes on fictional characters: I have the hots for Nick Fury to a degree that is actually embarrassing. And I don't know why!

What I'm missing so far are really good female characters, though. I do like Black Widow, at least when she's with Bucky (hi, this is me shipping a het pairing! That almost never happens!). And Jessica Jones seems like someone I could like, but she's been with the baby most of the time. Oh, and I do like the Young Avengers!Hawkeye.

I still don't care much for the X-Men, but I guess that's okay. I can't be excited about everything! That would probably mean the end of the world. Or there just wouldn't be any excitement left for the rest.

Ok, I'm going to stop rambling now so I can go work on that meme. Which I will see through to the end! I promise.

Jun. 24th, 2010

haru excited

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The Return of Bruce Wayne #3 and Detective Comics 866. Spoilers.Collapse )

Oh, and I have to pick a book to read for a comic book club I'm in. And I don't know what to pick! I've narrowed it down to All-Star Superman and the first book of Promethea. I think since almost everybody has probably read All-Star Superman already, Promethea might be the better choice, but I'm not sure :/ I'll try and reread Promethea this weekend. There should be more than enough to talk about in there, and the art's gorgeous. (It *is* J.H.Williams III, after all.)

Jun. 18th, 2010

haru excited

(no subject)

Most underrated book

The Catch Trap, is, as far as I know, the only book by Marion Zimmer Bradley that isn't fantasy or science fiction. It is also, by far, her best. And it's currently out of print, both in German and English, which I really don't understand.

I'm hardly unbiased, here - it was the first novel about two gay men I ever read (I believe I actually read some non-fiction before, because ever since I knew what being gay meant I was curious. Hindsight 20/20..), and I loved it. I read it during my "will read anything by MZB I can get my hands on" phase and I'd borrowed it from the library, not knowing what to expect at all. I was thirteen, and I ended up skipping my Konfirmandenunterricht (I guess you could say bible class) so I could stay at home and read. It was glorious.

The book is set in America during the 1930s and 40s, and it tells the story of a circus family, the Flying Santellis, a group of trapeze artists. And it's the story of Tommy and Mario who are both part of that family (although not related - Tommy starts training with them at first and then becomes part of that family before falling in love with Mario). Their love story is definitely complicated, but fascinating and touching, and I think MZB does a great job capturing the time and its people, and also the magic of the trapeze. I've never been the kind of kid who dreamed about running away to join the circus, but after reading this book, that changed *g*

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Jun. 13th, 2010

haru excited

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A book that makes you sad

I don't cry that easily anymore, so when something manages to bring tears to my eyes it's saying something.

In Call me by your name, 17-year-old Elio and 24-year-old Oliver meet during one summer in Italy, when Oliver is staying at Elio's parents' place as a houseguest. They end up having a brief, but passionate and intense affair before splitting when Oliver returns home to America.

Call me by your name is not exclusively sad. But it's one of the most genuinely emotional (and by that I mean "not at all sappy") novels I have ever read. It's not perfect by far, but the longing and desire at the beginning of the book is so intense it made my heart ache. It's also one of the most erotic books I've ever read. Why then make it my "it makes me sad" pick? To say that their affair doesn't last isn't a spoiler - this is made clear from the very beginning of the book. But it all just struck a chord deep within me - remembering what it's like to be in love like that, to have reached that level of intimacy (or maybe never having reached that level with anyone?), made me feel wistful and melancholic, and the thought of what could have been with these two and what wasn't - that's why I picked it for this day. Reading this was very, very intense so it makes sense that the sad parts affected me as much as the not-so-sad parts.

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Jun. 12th, 2010

haru excited

Book meme, continued.

Obviously this isn't going to be a day-to-day thing - for some reason, things feel superbusy at the moment (I'm not even sure they are, it just feels that way. Anyway, I'm just going to post this whenever I can, it's not like I'm in a hurry :)

Day 05 - A book that makes you happy
At this point I think I should mention that I decided to exclude comics from this meme. Not because I don't think of them as books, but because I'm thinking about doing the same thing for comic books after I'm done with this one. I'm saying this because this question would be a lot easier to answer if I could pick comic books. Anyway!

What makes this question difficult to answer is that I wanted to pick a book that hasn't turned up yet/won't turn up again.

I like to think of Walter Moers as the German Terry Pratchett. Both mix satire with their fantasy, both are really, really funny, smart, and because they mix fantasy with their satire, still rather underrated and thought of as "not proper literature".

The City of Dreaming Books is by far his best book, in my opinion. It's the story of the travels of a young writer, Hildegunst von Mythenmetz (or, in the English translation, Optimus Yarnspinner) and his adventures in the city of Buchheim (Bookholm), during which he faces deadly bookhunters and dangerous books. It's set firmly against the background of his other books set in the fictional realm of Zamonien, but this time he really does take everything to new heights.

Why does this book make me happy? Because apart from being a great adventure tale and funny as hell it's also a love letter to reading, and books. And while I usually don't like books like this (books that are all about the Magic of Reading), here, like in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, it's done in a wonderfully non-saccharine way. And it really is hilarious. And, unlike many German books, this one is actually available in an English translation.

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Jun. 8th, 2010

haru excited

(no subject)

Day 04 - Favorite book of your favorite series

Another simple choice - First against the wall, the sixth book of the Administration series, stands out for several reasons. Basically, you can split this book in two parts, both of which I loved for different reasons.

First, there's the political thriller part. There's been a revolution in all parts of the Administration, and since Toreth is very much a part of the oppressive regime, he's in trouble. But rather than being executed, he ends up having to help with the rebuilding. And that's where it gets interesting. It's about what happens after a revolution, and it's a bit depressing to see how many ideals have to be sold at the end of the day, I suppose.

There's also the fact that you can't help siding with Toreth here. It's reminiscent of tv shows like The Sopranos where you're always cheering on the mafiosi rather than the FBI who is trying to catch them. What makes it a little easier in Toreth's case is that his nemesis, Carnac, is the most loathworthy character I have ever read about (at the same time, Carnac's not completely unsympathetic, which makes it worse). So you have an exciting plot and moral dilemmas - but that's only half of it.

The other part of the book deals - of course - with Warrick and Toreth. First, we get one of the most heartbreaking scenes I have ever read (and I mean it, that one scene is so so horrible I had to take a break and walk around my apartment after the first time I read it) and then we get the best make-up scene I have ever read. And I mean that, too.

Toreth and Warrick's relationship is endlessly fascinating to me. Part of it may be because Toreth's fears, while stemming from his - let's call it - special issues for the most part, are just the same fears a lot of us have. Trusting someone is really, really scary, and the thought that the person we want to love us might one day stop doing that - it's horrible. But because it's Toreth, those fears are given a much sharper expression and stand out more, or at least that's what it feels like for me. And that's why I love this book, and these books, as much as I do, because they allow me to explore some of these issues in a way no other book has until now.

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haru excited

I suppose it somewhat makes sense to post this and the next one on the same day.

Day 3: Your favorite series

Manna Francis' Administration series

This series most definitely isn't for everyone. It's a series of m/m science fiction books set in a dystopian future where there are no bad or good guys, only better guys and worse guys. One of the worse guys, and really the main character of all of the books, is Val Toreth, a sociopath who works for the European Administration as a para-investigator, i.e. someone who investigates crimes and tortures people. Looking at the meme, you'll hear more about him at a later point. One of the better people is Keir Warrick, a scientist who's developed something called the Sim, a virtual reality doohickey. The two of them meet and begin a rather unusual relationship that is more or less the main focus of the series.

Although saying that does the books injustice somewhat, because while their relationship is the main focus for most parts, it isn't the only thing that matters. For one, there are the crime story plots which - while they aren't on a Stieg Larsson level - are well done and engaging. The world the author has built is intriguing (and the worldbuilding isn't too longwinded like it sometimes is in sci-fi novels) and explores some very interesting issues about the things we are willing to accept as a society in exchange for securit. Then there is a cast of interesting additional characters that you also come to care about.

At the end of the day, though, this series stands and falls with Toreth and Warrick and their relationship. It starts out as an interesting fling for both of them - interesting for Toreth because Warrick is actually a challenge for Toreth, and stands up to him, and interesting for Warrick because Toreth ends up being able to give Warrick something he has been craving, namely the ability to surrender control. The BDSM aspect is the main reason I can't recommend this to everyone, although it truly is just an aspect. Not all the kinks mentioned in the books are my kinks either, and I still got something else from the stories.

What I love about the series is how the relationship between Warrick and Toreth allows the author to explore issues like trust and love. Due to Toreth's personality, everything is a little more extreme than it would usually be, and it hurts the reader a little more, too. But in a good way. And Toreth himself is just really fascinating.

I also love that no matter how much you come to love Toreth - somewhat despite yourself - the author *never* lets you forget what his job is. You aren't allowed a "comfortable denial" or say something like, "Well, he isn't that bad, really." It's very well done. Warrick likes to say that he fucks Toreth, not his job, but he, too, never forgets and that's how it works.

This series is not the best written series in the existence of literature. It doesn't qualify as "great literature", but I love it. It's always solidly written and even great at times, and Warrick and Toreth's relationship pushes a lot of my buttons in terms of the issues mentioned. I've written pages upon pages about these books in my personal diary, because when I first read it I could not stop thinking about it and the characters involved. It's an emotional roller coaster ride and if there is one thing I love it's when a book (or a movie, or a show) makes me feel and think.

One thing I have to add in regards to the emotional roller coaster: the first time I read this there were moments when I would have paid someone to read on for me because I was too scared of what might happen to read on. I don't want to spoil you, but I can tell you that this series is Sophie-approved. *g*

And if you click on the link above, you can see that you can read most of the books for free on the author's website, although I encourage you to buy the books if you like them. Their printed on demand, and they're very nicely done.

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