You didn’t kiss anyone for two years. When you got back to the states, you even dyed your hair back to brown. You stayed in a closet of your own making. You got angry and seethed in silence. You hid behind your eyes and watched reality happen to other people.
When you eventually did kiss a guy and let life open up to you, it really was all you hoped it would be and more. It wasn’t just the kiss or coming out, though that was part of it. It was realizing you could be your whole self.
All this shit starts when we humans are tiny. I have a two-year-old son. Boys get the BLUE STUFF. Hard. Steely! Naval. Girls get the PINK STUFF. Soft. Squishy! Fleshy. Our son loves trucks. You think, “Oh, this is genetic. Boys are biologically attracted to boy things.” Until you see him playing with little girls and the girls are all like, “YEAH TRUCKS ARE AWESOME, MOTHERTRUCKER,” and that dashes that idea into itty-bits. Then you go to buy books and you see it translates there, too: the blue, the pink, the trucks, the dollies. So you realize, this boy/girl thing starts early in terms of writing and publishing. And that means it’s where you have to do some damage control early. Let your boy play with dolls. Let your girl read about trucks. Teach them early on to respect each other and everybody else. (AKA: “Hey, kid, don’t be an asshole.”)
And now I shall go out and read everything Wendig has written.
Which I'm pretty sure is a promise I've made before, but sometimes these things take time to stick.
Glamour in Glass: Glamourist Histories, #2, by Mary Robinette Kowal
I loved Shades of Milk and Honey, the first book in Kowal's Regency era fantasy series, and I mostly loved this one, too. Like, 95% loved it.
I continue to adore the magic system: It's quiet and somewhat sedate, but in creative, inventive hands, allows for WICKED COOL USAGE.
I love that in addition to the fantasy, it works very much as historical fiction—Jane and Vincent are in Belgium for their honeymoon, and Napoleon figures in heavily—and as a romance.
More pluses: The language and the writing, the attention to detail and the pure, awesome geekery of the author. In the Author's Note—DO NOT MISS IT—Kowal talks about how she created a dictionary comprised of Jane Austen's books and ran her manuscript of Glamour and Glass against it. She researched the history of every single word that the dictionary didn't contain, and she lists some that surprised her (and some that she kept anyway). She also talks a bit about how her world diverges from our own, and about what anachronisms she knowingly included. (Which is so much cooler than a blanket "IT'S ALT-HISTORY, ANYTHING GOES!" attitude. Ahem. In my opinion, anyway.)
You know that storyline where the heroine gets deliriously happily married and everything is awesome and so on BUT THEN she starts thinking OH NOES, MAYBE HE DOESN'T ACTUALLY REALLY LOVE ME? It's one of my least favorite storylines, and that's much of what goes on with the romance thread in Glamour in Glass. To be fair, Vincent is EXTREMELY withdrawn and irritable and distracted—which is especially bad considering they're on their honeymoon—so it's understandable that Jane would have those feelings, but it's not my fave. That is, of course, MY STUFF, and it totally works in terms of characterization—even drawing on the first book, because for various reasons, Jane doesn't have loads of confidence in herself as A Lovable Person—so really, unless you also dislike that storyarc, it's not much of a Con at all.
Also, while I love that the cover art incorporates bubbles (there's a whole important thread about using spheres of glamour), I can't help but feel that the model is WAAAAAY more conventionally attractive than Jane. I loved the cover art on the first book because I felt that it really captured that. Her dress, though, is BEAUTIFUL, and I have no beef whatsoever with it. Except that I don't own one.
Fans of the first one, fantasy-loving fans of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, anyone who likes fantasy that really delves into the mechanics of magic systems, fans of any of the above who also have an interest in artists and their techniques.
Sapphique: Incarceron, #2, by Catherine Fisher
I finally, finally got around to the sequel to Incarceron! Finn is now outside the prison, but is not really any less of a prisoner: he's suddenly living in a world of strict social protocol and every misstep he makes acts to further convince everyone—including Claudia, who until now has been his strongest supporter—that he's an impostor, rather than a long-lost prince.
Meanwhile, Finn's allies within Incarceron are still searching for a way to escape: they're hunting for Sapphique's magic glove, which might not even exist... but the prison is working against them, and it wants to find a way to escape itself.
Like the first book, the world-building is HUGE and RICH and DARK and COMPLEX. The cultures on the inside and the outside of Incarceron are distinctly different, but it's always clear that regardless of what side of the wall each character resides on, every single one of them is a prisoner in some way. Including Incarceron itself, which is a mindbleep and a half.
In addition to the world-building, the storyline is exciting, and the characters are worth caring about, the pacing is, like, BREAKNECK, and the whole thing is BANANAS in the best kind of way. Incarceron was super, but Sapphique was even better.
Erm. None for me, though it's not going to be an across-the-board crowdpleaser: see above about the DARK and BANANAS.
Fans of the first one. I wouldn't recommend it as a stand-alone.
Even picture books that are intended to appeal primarily to boys reflect
the tastes of the mother or grandmother that will usually be buying
them as well as the child they’re bought for. Picture book pirates are
less prone to combat than their counterparts in other media, monsters
and aliens less frightening, vehicles and machines less technically
detailed. Elements of danger and threat are tamed or omitted altogether
on the grounds of being unappealing or inappropriate. In short, picture
books with boy-friendly themes tend to be cuter and tamer than similarly
themed TV shows, films or video games.
So, on the one hand, I know that it would raise my hackles if an awards committee was comprised of all male judges.
On the other, I wanted to punch this article in the face. It's so, so entrenched in gender binarism and the idea that women are somehow incapable of appreciating books that incorporate elements of "combat, peril, villainy and technology". Barf.
(It seems that every single time I say that I have Big News, people immediately jump to that conclusion. So I figured I'd cut you all off at the pass this time.)
The news is:
Earlier today, I was offered the position of Head Librarian at my town's public library, and I accepted.
I can't even express how happy I am about it: it's a library that the town's residents LITERALLY built themselves, and so the community is really actively invested in it, and I'm so excited and pleased that they are trusting me with it.
SO VAIR VAIR EXCITED AND PLEASED.
Anyway, starting in early August, that's what I'll be up to in my library-life.
First item on the agenda? Building them a website.
Going forward? We shall see what we shall see, but I'm sure it will be awesomesauce unchained.
(I might sound somewhat blasé about it (for me), but I am SO. EXCITED. And, as Josh, Amber, my sister, Amanda, and a few others can attest, I've been so revved about the application/interview process, etc., that I've been a tad difficult to be around. So thanks to everyone for A) putting up with me and B) being so amazingly supportive. YAY!)
Read it in a newspaper. No kidding -- a real toddler swallowed a tiny pet turtle. Wrote a picture book about it and got back great rejection letters. "Very funny but this would teach small children to swallow turtles." Great editor suggested writing a longer book (chapter book) and using that story as the last chapter.