Reading notes, week 43

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Currently reading: After the Sandwiches by E.M. Epps. Last Atlantide book, alas (there’s one short story left). Starts with Lucien angsting about being Rosemary’s boyfriend because she doesn’t want to be his mistress. Strangely, neither Emma’s website nor Goodreads mentions the book, though I HAVE IT IN MY HANDS (or I’d think I’d dreamed that it existed). Search engines don’t find it either, however verbatim I’m searching. — Update: it seems to be Patreon-only, at least at the moment. (And now I realise I’ve given it an internet link in case people are looking for it, and oh my, that will disappoint them because it doesn’t actually say much about the book) Strangely, this is much slower to read than the other two, perhaps because it’s barely edited (honestly, it reads like fanfic, all the scenes Emma wanted to write but had no room for). But still, Atlantide!

Next up: I have the new Saint of Steel book by T. Kingfisher and also, on recommendation from a Twitter friend, On the Bias by Celia Lake (#6 of something but they can be read in any order). There are two more Alpennia books on the reread pile but I think I’ll read that after I finish Atlantide. (WANT MORE ATLANTIDE but E.M. Epps is writing other things now, which I also want but not as much). And someone pointed me to They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie, long overdue for a reread.

Index of reading notes is here.

Reading notes, week 42

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Octoner 19: The Deniability of Danishes by E.M. Epps. How Lucien Benedict’s parents met. Wonderful!

October 18: Terrible Hours, High Stress, Bad Jokes by E.M. Epps. How the king of Atlantide gets his research secretary. Oh wow, I like Koszkiewicz. It’s Patreon-only.

Cold Sandwiches and All by E.M. Epps. This is the kind of romance I like best, with a hint of magic and not taking itself all too seriously. I’d forgotten that this was the one with “you’ve made me miserable for twenty-four hours, now you owe me twenty-four hours of your time, doesn’t have to be all in one lump”, I thought that was the sequel!

Index of reading notes is here.

Dear Yuletide writer,

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Hi, I’m sinkauli on ao3. I don’t know who you are but I probably love you already for wanting to write for me.

General

Likes
A note about crossovers
Dislikes and DNWs

Fandom specifics and prompts

Alpennia – Heather Rose Jones
Fare Well Edinburgh Hogmanay 2020 Drone Show
Lord Peter Wimsey – Dorothy L. Sayers
False Doctrine – Alice Degan
Duolingo Welsh Course
Judge Dee Mysteries – Robert van Gulik

For ALL fandoms: I don’t need all the characters in my signup to be in the story. I don’t need only characters in the tagset to be in the story.

Likes

This is the easy part. Don’t feel yourself limited to things in this list! There are lots of things I like that I’m not listing because if I listed everything in the world that I liked, there would be literally no end. Any of these will make my face light up with joy, though.

  • Friendship. Unexpected, uncomplicated friendship is good! Complicated friendship too, I like any story with friendship better than one with only antagonism, but my very favourite stories are about people becoming friends, or people who are already friends, doing something together or turning out to have something in common which neither of them would have planned for. Peter and Harriet combing the beach for clues in Have His Carcase is one of my favourite scenes. Also the scene in which they decipher the code letter.
    Friends-to-lovers is okay but it’s a pity if that’s the whole point of the story.
  • Happy ending. I’m a sucker for happy endings, especially other happy endings than “people getting together as a couple”. It’s a good thing when people get together as a couple! But that’s not by far the only way to be happy. I also like open(ish) endings with the possibility or expectation of happiness. The ending of The Goblin Emperor is a good example: Maia and Csethiro are likely to end up very happily married, but at the end of the book they are friends and allies and partners, and for now that’s enough.
  • Cooking, food sharing, bonding over food. Recipes!
  • Autistic characters (canon or headcanon; Dairine Callahan comes to mind) who either come to terms with being autistic in the story, or have already figured it out and can handle it. Bonus points if they use their autistic traits to get things done.
  • More generally, disabled characters who work with their disability rather than “overcoming” it.
  • Religion (real-world or fictional) portrayed in a positive light, including people making light-hearted fun of their own religion.
  • Kidfic. Canon characters’ kids, canon characters when they were kids, canon characters who happen to be kids (Matilda), original canon-compliant child characters. Either POV or secondary characters.
  • Found family, chosen family.
  • Fluff. Domestic fluff, married fluff, established-lovers fluff, friendship fluff. Don’t worry if there seems to be no plot. One of the great strengths of fanfic is that it doesn’t necessarily have to have plot or conflict or any deeper meaning, though it may of course have any or all of those.
  • Discovery and detection. Plain detective work, casefic. Adventures in which people (children, for instance) find out things. People finding out things about themselves when they do something they didn’t know they could do.
  • Learning. School stories! Good or hilariously bad teachers. Give me a good training montage any day, or let someone teach themself. Achieving mastery by hard work.
  • Competence, intelligence, problem-solving, clever escape, clever (preferably non-violent) thievery. Self-rescuing princ(ess)es.
  • Missing-scene fic, interpolation, pre- and post-canon. (How did these characters get here? What was this person like as a student? What happens after the canon says The End?)
  • Cats, mice, meerkats, donkeys/mules/hinnies, elephants, birds (either as characters or supporting). Not “animals” as a category but specifically those.
  • Worldbuilding, with or without characters involved.
  • Fantasy nonfiction. Guidebooks, gazetteers, encyclopedia entries…

A note about crossovers

I used not to like crossovers at all, mostly because when I first started reading fanfic it was all about “I want to read more about X” and then I didn’t also want to read about Y. But I got better! I love crossovers between fandoms I’ve both (or all) requested, or with adjacent/compatible fandoms (will often end up as fusion), like The Great Mouse Detective with The Rescuers, or Lord Peter Wimsey with Miss Marple, when I’ve only requested one.

The greatest problem with crossovers is that if I know only one of the crossovered fandoms, the point may be completely lost on me, and it might spoil the whole story. I don’t know many of the really popular fandoms (Doctor Who or Supernatural, for instance). I don’t know many films, or any TV that’s been aired after, say, 1975. I don’t know anime or manga except Miyazaki, and not much of that.

To be on the safe side, find my profile (I’m sinkauli on ao3) and check my fandoms list and my gifts. If I write for it or have ever requested it, I’m bound to know it.

Dislikes

A lot harder because I don’t want to give the impression that I dislike everything. (But there’s enough that I do like in the list above that that impression is unlikely.) I’ll try to categorize.

Sex, romance

I don’t dislike sex! But I also don’t want any surprise sex sprung on me so I tend to request gen-only unless in very specific circumstances. I’m very picky. I’ve read some smutty stories that I liked but they were mostly joyful consent and vanilla sex. (Note that vanilla is a spice, a subtle and intense one, it doesn’t mean “bland”.) I’m not listing dislikes of particular kinks because, to be honest, for most kinky things people request or put in their likes or DNWs I don’t even know what the words mean. I’ve looked up some and almost invariably shuddered. So, mostly no kinks for me.

  • Rape, non-con. This is one of my hard DNWs. I consider it excluded when I exclude all sex, even though rape is usually not about sex but about power. I also dislike powerplay, hate-sex, and sex between people who are vastly disparate in age, power or experience.
  • Fellatio. (Makes me gag, even when it’s just words.) *deletes a sentence that’s all too explicit*
  • Casual sex without friendship. Includes PWP, I think. Casual sex in general, even between friends, is mostly a no-no.
  • Seduction for any other reason than that one person is in love with the other and is trying to get it across to them elegantly.
  • Soulmates, the trope with explicit markings or similar, it’s okay for a character to say or think “we were made for each other”.
  • Love triangles. A fully explicit and consensual triangle falls under “polyamory” and see next bullet point.
  • Adultery, infidelity. This includes contradicting, ignoring or breaking up a canonical pairing for the sake of a ship.
    Polyamory is okay but I don’t really prefer it.
  • Incest. I don’t care what Boromir and Faramir were up to in their shared bedroom when they were boys. Cross-generation incest is worse.

Interpersonal stuff

  • Enemies-to-lovers. Even if it’s enemies-to-friends and then friends-to-lovers. Reconciling with your enemy: okay. Cautious friendship between former enemies: okay. Hopping into bed with someone who was once your enemy: nope.
  • Bigotry of any kind, unless fighting against it is a plot point. That includes homophobia, TERFness and other transphobia, sexism, racism, ableism, ageism and anything I’ve forgotten.
  • Religion-bashing, against religion in general, a specific faith or denomination, or bullying people because they’re religious; unless fighting against it is a plot point.
  • Abuse, particularly of people in a dependent relationship (children, elders, subordinates).
  • Pranks, practical jokes, humiliating people for the sake of it.

Disability, body issues

  • Pathological/medical view of autism or other neurodivergence, portraying it as something that needs to be fixed rather than as a characteristic of the person.
  • Disability as punishment, teaching-a-lesson or inspiration porn. Just let disabled people be people!
  • Discussions of disordered eating or weight (it’s completely okay if someone’s body type is part of the description, like mentioning that the person has dark skin or blue eyes or wears glasses or uses a wheelchair, but no fat-shaming or other judgmental language about weight please).
  • Gluttony, gross drunkenness (tipsy/merry is okay, maudlin is not), vomiting (whether from illness or overindulgence).
  • Body horror, torture, mutilation, gore, cannibalism.
  • Monstrous pregnancy, monster birth. Hard DNW.
  • Mpreg, which is a species of body horror in my book. Such a hard DNW that it will make me throw the virtual book against the virtual wall. (Ordinary pregnancy and childbirth is okay.)

Miscellaneous

  • Horror. Body horror is the worst, but any other horror is also a turnoff.
  • Werewolves, unless very well done. Vampires. Zombies. (Perhaps this falls under “body horror”.)
  • Unhappy endings, unresolved tragedy.
  • Current events, real-world contemporary politics. (Fantasy politics in an invented world is okay! Period politics in a story with historical background is okay!)
  • Suicide, suicidal ideation, depression.
  • Plague, pandemic, terminal illness. There’s enough of that in the real world that I don’t want to also read about it, not even about overcoming it.
  • Climate catastrophe, extinction, (post)apocalyptic anything. (Ditto, in fact.) Imminent/unavoidable destruction of a whole world or a significant part of it. A random natural disaster is probably okay if it’s not part of a pattern of impending catastrophe. (My 2020 Yuletide writer got that exactly right.)
  • Worldbuilding DNW: extra information about a setting that makes it less pleasant (“… but you didn’t know these sordid details”).

Fandom specifics and prompts

Alpennia – Heather Rose Jones

Characters: Any (Akezze Mainus, Anna Monterrez, Efriturik Attiliet, Tavit, Barbara Lumbeirt, Margerit Sovitre, Antuniet Chazillen, and Worldbuilding)

Please not above T-rated. I like friendship, teaching/learning, discovery, scholarship, exploring character interaction, women (and, in this case, men) being awesome. Please respect canonical pairings!

  • Anna and Efriturik friendship/tentative romance (HEA is hard, because there will be problems with the prince marrying an artisan who is moreover Jewish, but who knows). Please let Efriturik be a good guy who doesn’t take advantage of his position!
  • Barbara and Tavit explore masculinity and femininity; she crossdresses for utility, he is a trans man, how do they handle the dynamics individually and/or together?
  • Worldbuilding (and Anna Monterrez) (especially for Jewltide writers): explore Jewish culture in Alpennia, Anna’s background and family, the way she and her family handle living in a predominantly Catholic town.
  • Worldbuilding: Akezze and Margerit, and perhaps Barbara, doing scholarly things.
  • Worldbuilding: Antuniet and Anna doing alchemy.

Fare Well Edinburgh Hogmanay 2020 drone show

G- or T-rated; it’s of course possible to write drone porn but I’d rather not have it as a surprise.

  • Sentient drones, either each one individually or as a hive mind. Do the drones know what they’re portraying, are they in on the story, or is it merely a set pattern?
  • Perhaps this is an actual magical ritual to bring in the new year. I’d say “or to fend off evil” but that would have to be some kind of supernatural evil, or it might cause you to write pandemic and/or current affairs and both of those are in my dislikes (and pandemic even in my signup DNWs). And in that case, what other magic can be done with drones?
  • Now I have visions of a Drone Show/Young Wizards crossover, and if that’s your catnip please go ahead with it! I can imagine Kit understanding the drones and vice versa!

Lord Peter Wimsey – Dorothy Sayers

Characters: Any (Alexandra “Kitty” Climpson, Bredon Delagardie Peter Wimsey, Charles Parker, Gerald Wimsey Viscount St. George, Harriet Vane, Helen Duchess of Denver, Honoria Lucasta Dowager Duchess of Denver, Mary Wimsey, Mervyn Bunter, Peter Wimsey)

  • Miss Climpson being herself, on her own or with any of the others. I like casefic!
  • Silly Peter/Harriet fluff, domesticness, the sort of things that make Busman’s Honeymoon so much fun. Sex (not above M) is okay for this pairing only.
  • Jerry and Bredon cousin shenanigans. I’d love Jerry-survives-the-war fixit fic, too; we could have teenage Bredon and fully adult Jerry.

DNW: AU in which Harriet is guilty, or is convicted while innocent.

False Doctrine – Alice Degan

Characters: Any (Charlie Boult, Evgenia | Evvie, Elsa Nordqvist, Kit Underhill)

This seems to call for Christian or Christian-inspired magic/supernatural stuff: angels, apparitions, mysterious light, miracles. But anything else exploring these characters and their friendship/love is cool too!

  • More of Kit and Elsa becoming friends (or falling in love, but they’re friends first).
  • Kit and Elsa when they’re married, between the books. Kit/Elsa can go up to Mature. Perhaps a scene with kid!Sara.
  • Charlie and Evvie friendship missing scene, or investigating something post-canon. Charlie is Anglican and Evvie is Greek Orthodox, and both are well-versed in their respective practices, if you can do something with that you’ll make me very happy. No sex between these two, Charlie has a boyfriend (who is an angel, okay) and Evvie is celibate.

DNW: religion-bashing (mild blasphemy or people harmlessly making fun of their own religion is okay).

Duolingo Welsh Course

I haven’t done Duolingo Welsh, but I’ve done enough other languages with Duolingo (and read Duolingo fic) that I know every course has its hidden hilarious stories (Italian: “my uncles are clowns”, Spanish: “I am not the captain, I am the king”). I love Welsh, so I want to read those! Bilingual Welsh/English, if you can.

DNW: anything beyond T-rated.

Judge Dee Mysteries – Robert van Gulik

Characters: Any (Tao Gan, Chiao Tai, Dee Jen-djieh, Ma Joong)

What I like most about this is the culture and interaction between characters, not the mystery/puzzle as such. I can’t say I approve of all aspects of the culture (the misogyny, brr!) and if you can fix that without gross distortion of the setting I’ll be pleased but it’s not necessary. Sex isn’t necessary either, though in the F/F case not excluded. Please keep it M at most.

  • small mystery with a cute kid (in the vein of “Murder on New Year’s Eve” in the Judge Dee at Work collection)
  • implied or foreground F/F between women who are already friends (but not behind their husbands’ backs, please; let them be widows or courtesans or unmarried bluestockings)
  • the judge and/or his assistants going undercover

DNW: explicit sex, gore, on-page torture or execution.

Reading notes, week 41

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October 14: Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie. I may have read this in the distant past but don’t remember enough to be sure. Also with Poirot and Ariadne Oliver. It’s got a good proportion of nice people, good and clever people who aren’t necessarily nice, morally ambiguous people and icky people. And the person who I hoped had dunnit, had actually dunnit! It does feel like it’s approximately the same book as Dead Man’s Folly, the way Sleeping Murder and By the Pricking of My Thumbs seem to be approximately the same book (as each other, not as the other two).

October 12: Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie. A new one! And there are some nice people in it (okay, including Ariadne Oliver). Also, Poirot being Poirot but in this setting it doesn’t annoy much.

October 11: De kinderen van de Grote Fjeld by Laura Fitinghoff. Childhood favourite. Oh my, it’s so Protestant. Didn’t like the ending as much as I did when I was 10-11, because it seems to short-change the co-protagonist Malena, “your brother gets this wonderful chance to fulfill all his dreams, and you’re going to be big sister to this spoilt little girl instead of her actual big sister who died”. She does actually consent to it, probably even likes it, but it grates. (And I wonder if Malena, and perhaps also Magnus, would have been autistic-coded if it hadn’t been written in 1948 but in, say, 2018.) But it still makes me cry at all the right moments.

Custom Options Available by Amy Griswold, another story from It Gets Even Better. Very thoughtful (and sexy, eventually) robot POV.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. Realised I had it with me when we had a host-a-murder weekend in the 1990s, mostly as a prop because not only the book but also the edition of the book we had was completely period, but don’t remember actually reading it so I’ll remedy that now (on recommendation; thank you, you-know-who-you-are). ETA: I had read it before, and the puzzle is okay but it suffers from No Nice Characters Syndrome, and the unreliable narrator isn’t very believable. The twist at the end isn’t believable either, it should have been foreshadowed SO MUCH.

Index of reading notes is here.

Reading notes, week 40

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October 9: The Hog’s Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts. Comfort cozy mystery after the mad whirl of teenaged girls. Like many Inspector French books, it has a faux ending at 2/3 and then has a completely new take on the mystery and a resolution! Deftly done. I like the wrap-up at the end.

October 8: Three Twins at the Crater School by Chaz Brenchley, a boarding-school book set on Mars (Octocon recommendation). Nobody’s nasty except the guy who is a bad guy anyway (and his henchmen), and some people are very school-story-appropriately unwise. I think there may be a couple of tuckerizations I’ve missed (judging by the one I haven’t). It feels so much like a book in the middle of a series that I feel there should be more, much more, and I want to read it all! I’ve heard that a second book is almost finished, and I’ll snap it up as soon as it appears.

October 7: Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis. Regency with dragons. It’s a romp! I just wish it had more of an ending, as soon as the ending is in sight it’s already over and I’m left thinking “what just happened?” Will certainly buy the books about Elinor’s two sisters when they come out.

October 5: Raised Roots by lady_ragnell. Modern (as in: set in fantasy version of “now”, people have cellphones) fantasy with witches. Very sweet and gentle, all the conflict is internal to people rather than interpersonal, and it ends on a strong possibility of HEA. It strikes me now that all the people whose skin/hair color is mentioned explicitly are white, but that doesn’t keep me from imagining all the non-mentioned people very diverse because it’s that kind of world.

October 3: Two stories from It Gets Even Better: Stories of Queer Possibility. Didn’t want to read a whole book of issue stories. The first one isn’t very much to my taste but it’s not long so I’ll just see what happens. I don’t mind first person present, but it’s a bit jarring when the “I” keeps addressing a “you” in non-epistolary narrative style, like “You smile at me”. (Also it turns out to be postapocalyptic dystopia. Which wasn’t in the content warnings as such, but “bomb shelter” ought to have been a pointer.) The second story is gentle feminist fantasy, much more what I wanted.

Index of reading notes is here.

Reading notes, week 39

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October 2: Millie Goes to School by Jackmerlin. 14 chapters, more than 30K, crossover of Chrestomanci and The Marlows by Antonia Forest (and now I want to read Antonia Forest). Wonderful. Such a breath of fresh air after all the other school stories. It’s got All The Things except the nastiness. Millie gets called a porpoise because she’s plump and can swim very well, but she subverts that, and comes second in the swimming event and wins the diving event.

October 1: Fifth Formers of St. Clare’s by Enid Blyton. This is #6; there is a sixth-form book, but it’s by Pamela Cox, and not in the public domain yet. I read the review first, so I was expecting the fat-shaming, but not that it would start so early and be so bad! And the fagging! The fifth form may be “where you learn to handle power”, but it turns out to be where girls learn to be upper-class English bullies, riding roughshod over anyone weaker or of lesser worth in their eyes.

September 29: Claudine at St. Clare’s by Enid Blyton. Suddenly they’re in the fourth form, in book #5! Seeing that they spent three books in the first form (and I don’t remember if #4 was in the second or the third) they’re going amazingly fast.

September 28: Summer Term at St. Clare’s, #3 in the series. This one has a tiny bit of culture shaming. After that I tried to skim #4 but it was very badly OCR’ed (which I didn’t remember) so I only read the end to see which one it was.

A bunch of Millie (from the Chrestomanci books) fanfic because I wanted to find one story: Checklist by allyndra. In which Millie makes a list of all the things she wants to do in boarding school, and gets to do them, mostly not the way she expected.

If No-One Ever Marries Me by shewhoguards. Christopher, Conrad and Millie, bickering like the teenagers they are.

The Time For Parting Come by athousandwinds. Christopher is sulking when Millie goes away to school.

Millie of l’Ecole Leman by thenewradical. Finishing school isn’t what Millie thought it would be.

Heathens by Blue Yeti. Millie notices she’s a lot browner and a whole lot less Christian than her schoolmates (except the one Indian girl).

Inappropriate Batwings and Assorted Boarding School Hazards by Satchelfoot. Making friends the canonical boarding-school way.

Millie Goes on a Date by jadelennox. Werewolf story, which I don’t usually read, but very cute. (“That’s what they’re calling it these days? Revising?”) It’s part of the Millie Goes to School Series, fanfic of fictional fiction!

September 27: Self-Reliance by russian_blue. Nice little Tarma and Kethry story with multiple mistaken identities. Also read it in week 19 of 2020.

The O’Sullivan Twins by Enid Blyton, #2 in the series. Found all the ones I didn’t have yet at Faded Page, the Canadian Distributed Proofreaders site. So fluffy, and surprisingly with much less fat-shaming than Malory Towers.

Eye Spy by Mercedes Lackey. Last of the Family Spies books I’ve actually got, there’s a third but I’d have to buy that. As I implied but didn’t spell out in week 15 of 2020 when I also read it, it’s sadly full of thinly veiled real-world politics: (villain with uncommonly small hands) Dudley Remp and (sensible old judge) Bader Genberg (a man, sadly) are all too obvious. Also, a copy editor missed that the king was called “Stefan” the first time he was mentioned; all other times he’s correctly “Sedric”.

Index of reading notes is here.

Reading notes, week 38

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September 25: The Hills Have Spies by Mercedes Lackey. I’d read it before but didn’t remember much. Parts of it are excellent. Parts of it are WAY over the top. (Kyree and dyheli and bondbirds and firebirds? A nonhuman entity that can do impressive magic in the blink of an eye? Come on!) But I like the coming-of-age story, though that’s perhaps also a bit too fast and forced.

September 22: Closer to the Chest by Mercedes Lackey. #3 of the Herald Spy trilogy. In which there are nunneries. Very comfortable book until now: only small bits of plottiness until at least 30%, no Large Overarching Thing. — A Large Overarching Thing after all! Which makes it turn into Gaudy Night in Valdemar. Not that I mind. The villain (and his sidekick) did it.

September 19: Closer to the Heart, the second Herald Spy book. In which they get married, not once but twice! (There seems to be plot, too, and reviewers are divided on whether or not it’s okay plot, but I read books for the characters anyway) Back to an annoying amount of eye dialect, but at least after all those earlier books I can read it without having to sound it out. — Eek, forgot all about the horrible scene in which Amily, who has Animal Mindspeech, can hear the mind of a man who is probably meant to be nonspeaking autistic because he “thinks like an animal”. She’s perfectly friendly and respectful and treats him like the human being he is! It’s just the explanation that makes me cringe. And now, also, Kirball. In the middle of a weapons-smuggle investigation. Really, Mercedes Lackey, do you have to cram everything into one book? (And isn’t it a bit … weak … to have Mags kidnapped AGAIN?)

Index of reading notes is here.

Reading notes, week 37

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September 17: Closer to Home by Mercedes Lackey. By way of comfort reading. — Goodness, I didn’t remember it was Romeo and Juliet meets Red Wedding! At that point I didn’t even care about most of the people any more (the protagonists, the silly-goose girl, and the tough clever lady, yes; all the feuding nobles, no). At least the silly-goose girl was spared from being shamed and fostered to the tough clever lady, and someone managed to rescue the innocent little dog. The only thing I really don’t get is why the crown princess is wearing mourning dress at the end: none of the people who died were from her family (fortunately)!

Rather spectacular DNF: The Fire’s Stone by Tanya Huff. Picked it up on recommendation from a friend who assured me it had no vampires (the main reason that I haven’t read anything by Tanya Huff until now). The body count is high, and the means of achieving that body count often more gruesome than I like. One protagonist is likeable, but met another at 7% and he’s a thoroughly unpleasant person. After a spot of torture (by that unpleasant person’s even more unpleasant siblings) I’m putting it aside for now. May try again when I’m less fragile from real life.

Index of reading notes is here.

The dream engine embarrasses me

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By making me show up at a doctor’s office wearing only a (shortish) T-shirt. It was probably some kind of specialist or therapist, because I’d had to go all the way to Maastricht for it. (We currently have a house-guest who lives in Maastricht, so the exact choice of place may be from that.) I could retrace the steps that had made me leave the house in my bare bottom, but that didn’t help much, nor did it explain why I didn’t notice until I was in the waiting room – it would have taken me two and a half hours by train to get to Maastricht, let alone the walk from the station to the practitioner. I went back to the station and found a vast expanse of building sand in front of it, with only a narrow walkway to get to the entrance (which is quite a normal situation for stations in the Netherlands). Once there, I was with friends/acquaintances who apparently lived or at least stayed at the station. When I said “I’ll have to go to the Hema to buy some pants” one of them said “Oh, I’ll open it up for you” because he happened to be the manager of the in-station Hema store. (There are indeed Hema stores at some large stations, and this station actually has one, I looked it up.)

It was a large Hema store for a station, but they had only one pair of pants even approaching my size, in shiny grey nylon. But that didn’t matter, because I was fully dressed again, and could even feel my ordinary cotton Hema pants under my skirt. I browsed the store a bit more and found very pretty masks, some with poetry on them, but they all badly needed washing so I didn’t buy one.

I must have stayed with my friends for lunch, though I did go into town later (with some language confusion of “into town” versus “into the town centre”). We had an impromptu sing-along of folk(ish) songs that the store manager’s mother, who was one of the people present, was going to sing at a concert. I contributed the refrain of “The Housewife’s Lament” translated into Dutch, because she had translated all the verses but couldn’t get a grip on the refrain. The refrain is actually the only part of the song that I have translated (in waking life) and when I sang it she loved it. Also another Peggy Seeger song in Dutch translation, and something in Finnish that was easy to sing along with, and something medieval.

Also, the green bag was there that I used to have in waking life, and loved, and wore out completely, and had to throw away, so I folded the dream-bag up and put it in the bag I was carrying, vice versa would have been awkward because the green bag was much smaller.

Cat cuddling a battered green backpack

That bag. Cat not included.

Reading notes, week 36

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September 11: The Mystic Marriage by Heather Rose Jones. (Argh, the reviewer doesn’t get the names right, which is a pet peeve of mine, but the review is otherwise very good.) I’d completely forgotten the gruelling, but ultimately happy ending!

And oodles of new fanfic this week, because I discovered a new favourite writer. They and I must be moving on opposite ends of the same fandoms, because they’ve been writing in fandoms I know (and like) for years and I never stumbled across their stories until now.

Index of reading notes is here.