avengers:assassins back to back

Valentine Promptathon Fics and Graphic

The Valentine's Mini Promptathon over at be_compromised recently came to an end and I managed to complete a few things before the deadline this year, whoop whoop, so here you go - a new graphic and some new fics:

Title: The Path
Rating/Warning: PG (distressed Clint)
Length: collage graphic
Summary: Clint Barton, in all his messed up glory, joined a monastry in Tibet when he was twenty. Taught love for all beings, he would make a different call.
Author Note: The monastry featured is not actually in Tibet, it's in Bhutan. It's called the Taktshang Tiger's Nest monastry, which 'clings to a cliff 2,300ft about the Paro Valley floor', which seemed appropriate :) The Internet tells me the quotes are Budhist quotes; forgive me if they're not.

Link to image at the promptathon

Title: The Bowling Green Massacre
co-written with alphaflyer which was a lot of fun!
Rating/Warnings: Teen and up (typical MCU violence and swearing)
Length: 6569 words
Summary: Fallaces sunt rerum species. The truth isn’t all things to all people all of the time.
Authors Note: No cows were harmed in the making of this fic, although we can't say the same of the Brooklyn mafia. The views on protesters, capitalism and politics enunciated herein are strictly those of the characters.

Link to The Bowling Green Massacre on AO3

Title: both threat and promise
Rating/Warnings: Mature (for sex)
Length: 1414 words
Summary: For the prompt: There should be a word for a threat that is also a promise. Because that is what I want you to hold me down and do.

Link to both threat and promise on AO3
avengers:jane book love

February Books

GoodReads updated for February. This was a good month; I'd recommend any of these books! Cut for book chatter, no spoilers:

Hope In The Dark by Rebecca Solnit was one of those 'right book, right time' reads. A short book packed with ideas. Solnit looks at the history of progressive political action, how hope lies in action, how victories should be celebrated - and what victories there have been - without being dismissive because the utopian end goal has not yet been achieved, how political action should be a daily experience rather than reactionary, and how it's always too soon to leave or to measure sucesses and failures. The original focus/context, with the book being written in 2003-2004 during the Bush administration, was the protest against the Iraq War. My edition was updated with a 2015 essay and Afterword, plus additional essays from 2009 and 2014, spotlights new challenges, particularly climate change. That said, in the context of now I still found it all very relevant. There was a lot to digest, but it did leave me feeling hopeful, with a view to what I can do, and it was a moment where I read the right book just when I needed to.

Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly is a history of NACA's (later NASA) road to space travel that puts the Civil Rights movement and women's rights back into the narrative. It challenges the assumed/prevalent history in the best of ways and paints a picture of the many women, and men, who supported each other, worked with each other, raised each other up, and built on what came before. Eye-opening, inspiring, and important.

If you come to this after watching the film, the book focusses a little less on the individual lives of particular women but rather uses their stories as a focus to explore untold history. Possibily a little dry for some, but interesting and it does go past the story of the film to tell you what happened next in their lives. Then if you go back and watch the film again, you have a whole new appreciation.

In A Darkness Absolute Kelley Armstrong showcases her skills in pacing and building tension in this cracking thriller of a sequel that follows on from the excellent City of the Lost. Not quite as good as the first book, but only by a little, this is edge of your seat storytelling, with mystery, interesting characters and relationships, and a driven plot. Absorbing.

Tales From A Midwife by Jennifer Worth is a collected edition of three books about midwifery and district nursing in the 1950s: Call The Midwife, In the Shadow of the Workhouse, and Farewell to the East End. Educational and a slice of history, but Worth's ability to convey emotion elevates her stories to another level. The reader really feels for the people she talks about, she's excellent at capturing the moment and empathy, and in the stranger than fiction tales she delivers the human and the real. As someone who came to this after seeing episodes from the TV show, it was also interesting to find out what happened the main ladies in the end. Interesting, heart-warming, arm yourself with a box of tissues.

The first book/section was well structured, but the latter two sometimes seemed to be stories and essays strung together, a little haphazard. This may be because this is an abridged version, according to GoodReads, which I was unaware of.

And I managed to squeeze a graphic novel in there with Descender, Volume Three: Singularities. I continue to love the gorgeous, water-colour style art and the clever storytelling in this series. For volume three we get backstories for our main cast, including the robots.

I've started this month off with some short World Book Day books and I'm hoping to dig into some fantasy...
F:river with stars in her eyes

The Space Between Us

I was looking after my sister this weekend, so the first cinema trip I've gone on this year ended up being The Space Between Us, as it looked suitable for the sister and interesting enough for me. The overall verdict is that we both enjoyed it.

The Space Between Us starts with the first trip up to establish a colony on Mars, in a joint effort by Genesis Space Technologies and NASA, when it turns out a female astronaut is accidentally pregnant and dies giving birth on arrival. The problem is that the baby won't be able to survive the journey back to Earth, or Earth's gravity (true - they researched their shit), and they're worried that if they let people know about this and it's a PR disater it could cause problems for the programme, meaning no funding, meaning everyone comes home and the baby doesn't survive. So they keep it a secret.

Sixteen years later Gardener Elliot wants to come to Earth, to try and find his dad and to meet a girl called Tulsa from Colorado who he's been secretly in contact with online. She thinks he can't leave his house because he has a brittle bone condition. She's a street wise kid, lovess music, has been in foster care since she was four and is looking forward to getting the hell out of dodge when she turns eighteen soon.

A few adults support Gardener, saying he should get to go to Earth and he's old enough that they can do something about his health, so that happens. What follows could be corny and cringe-worthy, but the acting keeps it sweet. There's a lot of things that could have been explored and in greater detail, and the female characters orbit the main character Gardener without us ever getting to know more about the tantalising details dropped in about their lives, but overall I enjoyed it. It's had some far from great reviews online, but it's a nice little PG story about how wonderful Earth can be, and how interesting space travel can be, and people, with some nice comedy moments and first romance moments. It made me and my sister smile.

Then again, you all know I have a thing for space and found family, right? *grins* Um, and now I have notes on a fic that would be coda for this film set over a decade later... Oops.

avengers:team hawkeye

48 icons: because boomerangs

I haven't played around with the pretty pictures for a while, so have a bunch of mixed icons. Kate Bishop, America Chavez, Clint Barton, Lucky, Thor, Peggy Carter, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, and a dash of American Gods. You wanted those in an icon batch together, right? No? Well I did :p

01-03: Civil War II: Choosing Sides 3
04-05: America Chavez upcoming comic
06-10: Young Avengers
11: Hawkeye/Hawkeye vs. Deadpool
12-31: Fraction & Aja's Hawkeye
32: SNL Clint/Renner
33-35: send a raven
36-37: Agent Carter
38-40: American Gods upcoming tv show
41-43: Scarlett Johansson
44-48: Jeremy Renner


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girl reading

January Books

Also non-photographed: Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

My goodreads has been updated with short reviews for January's books, but I thought I'd start talking more about books on my LJ when I can. Because books!

My favourite book in January is a YA read, A Quiet Cry of Thunder by Sara Barnard: Steffi, who has anxiety and selective mutism, is starting sixth form without her best friend Tem and on the first day she's introduced to new student Rhys, who's deaf, by her teacher because she knows some British Sign Language. So begins a story of friendship, romance, first times, parent problems, and establishing agency. Barnard deftly incorporates issues (such as around gender, sexism, racism, ableism, grief, mental health) by embedding them in the daily lives of her wonderful characters, who I would not be surprised to see stepping out of the pages and walking down the street. Everyone makes mistakes, no one is perfect, and the story is full of heart.

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt is another YA read and one I'd been looking forward to since reading a sampler at YALC last summer. I was hoping it would be the convention story for convention goers in the way Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl is for fanfic writers, and it isn't quite. But! It is really good fun. Contains: convention friends, parental relationships, romance, pineapples.

Traitor to the Thone, which is the sequel to Rebel in the Sands, was a solid YA read, nicely non-Western, and is full of female friendships and relationships. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor is the story of aliens landing off the coast of Lagos and has interesting ideas, folklore, and gods, but is merely an okay read. (Both borrowed from franztastisch who is brilliant at finding non-Western books and lending them to me.) Sunstone: volume 5 delivers a reasonably satisfying conclusion to Stjepan Šejić's BDSM romance series, but as ever his writing isn't up to standards of his art. His art is gorgeous though.

In non-fiction The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*ck, which advocates not giving a f*ck to some things in order to save time, money, and energy to spend on things you do want to give a f*ck about, isn't exactly magical, but is reasonably amusing and I picked up a few tips. And The Unknown Unknowns is a lovely little short essay about the value of a good bookshop.

Currently reading: many non-fiction books, because I take forever with non-fiction, and Jennifor Worth's Tales From a Midwife, borrowed from a work friend (because I really need to get that read and returned!)
F:river with stars in her eyes

Arrival & Fantastic Beasts & Rogue One

Wrapping up my 2016 film reviews/comments, because I was on top of these until we hit December, heh.

First up: Arrvial. This film has Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, it's about languages and science, it's about the importance of and the difficulties inherent in communication, it's about first contact with aliens, I was predisposed to like this film, okay? Except then it was smart, educational, funny, and had a rare (at least in Western media, to my experience) type of ending where instead of it being BOOM BIG ENDING there were events and information that put into context everything in the film that you'd already watched, that brought everything into focus. And what reveals! If you're looking for an explosive alien movie with blowing things up and landmarks going up in smoke, this is not the film you're looking for. It's more like Contact, it's thoughtful scifi, and it's bloody brilliant.

[SPOILERS - things I loved]The alien language was beautiful. I loved the constant idea throughout that we progress by helping each other, by working together, culminating in the reason for the aliens' visit being that we're to be able to help them in the future. The idea of langauge and understanding as a gift! Time travel, the fourth dimension, as a lived experience! "I just found out why my husband left me," oh my heart, right in the feels. You think in the language you learn. Just. THIS FILM. I REALLY, REALLY LIKED IT.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Possibly unpopular opinion time: I thought the Harry Potter films were pretty, and creative, and some of those actors and actresses will forever be the face of their characters for me, but. They cut so much of the books in the earlier films that it damaged the plot and they could just never touch the books. My hope for Fantastic Beasts that as a film not based on a pre-existing story it would be forced to have a stronger plot in order to stand on its own merit. It did have stronger plot, and the creatures and magic were as magical as expected. It's not one I'm going to rave about, but it was enjoyable, I'd watch it again, some good funny moments and nice little details, I'd love to adopt a niffler and a bowtruckle, and the inside of Newt's suitcase was very well done.

[SPOILERS - some thoughts]I did fall into the trap of thinking that the little girl was the Obscurus host and I liked that it was Credence instead. And it had some lovely details and jumping off points - if I still wrote Harry Potter fanfic I would be enjoying the hell out of playing with those *grins*.

On the downside, I'm not sure how I feel about the Grindlewald reveal, mostly because to me Fantastic Beasts wasn't the introduction to a war story, but a war recovery story, with Newt and Jacob, but also other characters, finding their feet and discovering - literally in Jacob's case - magic, in discovering wonder and joy again. If this is just a nod to the wider world, well okay then. But if this is going to be a war franchise... we'll see. Also, um, what happened to diversity? There's a shot at the end of the female, character of colour head of MACUSA surrounded by a pack of all white, male auorors that slammed it in my face that despite two women as well as two men heading the cast (although the focus is on the guys; i'd be interested to see the screentime) there's a distinct lack of racial diversity that, especially considering there's no story source material and they could have done anything they wanted, is damn sad.

Well then. Rogue One. I'm not a fan of Star Wars as such; I consider myself to be more an enjoyer of Star Wars as someone who likes Things Set In Space. But even I appreicated how this prequel to A New Hope adds wonderful details to the existing 'verse and casts A New Hope in a new light. It's a good space-heist movie, there's some fun and humour very reminiscent of the original films which I enjoyed, and I appreicate the many shades of grey the film explored. And then that ending. I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THAT ENDING. As such, I think this is a good film but I'm going to need some time before I do any rewatching. To recover.

[SPOILERS - oh you want to hear about the ending - NO, REALLY, HUGE SPOILERS]The ending? Everyone dies. We're talking major major character death. But it works so well. When they first started going I jumped to the thought that characters dying would be a good explaination for why none of them then show up in the three films that follow it, but I was still holding onto a silm hope that maybe some of them would be allowed to survive. Because this film had managed to make me care about them. And then there was the moment where the Death Star plans are being passed from hand to hand by rebel soldiers as they're persued by Darth Vader, these nameless background characters dying to pass these plans on, a human chain, and that, THAT MOMENT, was for me the context of the whole film.

Rogue One is the story of nameless background characters, who have their own story and thing going on, who contribute to the big plot lines but we never see it. And I am a sucker for stories about background characters being brought into the foreground. I didn't expect to see that in a big franchise film. Bravo! And, as is the way with Redshirts (sorry, I know, wrong Stars :P ), they did. Tragically. Sadly. But this time we know their names, we know their stories, and it gave me all the feelings, but the moment that my eyes leaked? Those nameless characters persued by Darth Vader, their exit door closing, passing the plans through the slim remaining gap onto their fellow rebels, dying for it. Because I didn't know their names, or their stories, or anything about them, but the characters of Rogue One had given me direct empathy and for the first time I can remember I had leaky eyes at the death of background characters. Damn you Star Wars, you and your feelings.

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So, that was 2016. Up in 2017: I really, really want to watch Hidden Figures! And I am, of course, looking forward to Spiderman Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Thor Ragnorok. Not sure what else is coming out yet. What films are you looking forward to in 2017?
girl reading sunshine

2016 Big Book List

It's that time of year again - here's the books (and grahic novels) I read in 2016, organised by how much I enjoyed them and how highly I'd recommend them (rather than just dumping them on you).

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My most anticipated book release in 2016 was a closed and common orbit by Becky Chambers, which follows on from a long way to a small angry planet. They’re stories about found family and diversity set in space, perfect for anyone who loves things like Firefly. They are hugs in books and I highly recommend them! Frances Hardinge also landed on my list of favourite authors last year with A Face Like Glass and cemented her place there with this year’s read The Lie Tree - I love that woman’s creative use of language.

Other favourites were: The City of the Lost, one of Kelley Armstrong’s best books in my eyes; the clever The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew, set in Nazi England in 2014; The Panoptican by Jenni Fagan, full of harsh realities and beautiful language; and Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt – I read Dicey’s Song years ago and finally got around to starting the series from the beginning. I also finally got around to reading The Complete Maus, which is as excellent and heartbreaking as everyone says it is. There are a fair few graphic novels in my favourites for 2016, for incredible stories and beautiful art.

M biggest disappointment was The Ables, which started out full of promise and descended into a sexist, ablest mess. Most confusingly popular book was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which has a good gimmick, sure, but as stories go certainly isn’t worth the hype. And ‘the worst book someone recommended to me’ goes to Nod, which was seriously not my cup of tea.

Of the single issue comics I’ve been reading this year – too many! - I especially love Bitch Planet, Saga, Giant Days, The Wicked & The Divine, Pretty Deadly, The Beauty, and The Hunt - lots of Image comics basically. I continue to read all the Serenity comics that come out, because reasons. And on the Marvel front I cut down a lot, but Doctor Strange has been amusing, fun, and features a great librarian, Civil War grabbed my interest with its Phil Noto variant covers and turned out to be an interesting story, and I’m enjoying the new Hawkeye.

At the moment for 2017 I’m looking forward to Sunstone volume 5, because 4 ended on a cliffhanger damn it; Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt, because I read a sampler and HELLO; Kelley Armstrong’s final Cainsville novel and A Darkness Absolute, the next City of the Lost book; Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology; and there’s a lot of hype around Caraval by Stephanie Garber and I’m always up for a carnival/circus plot.

What's everyone else keeping their eyes out for this year? And what were your best books of 2016?
avengers:sjohansson smile black&white

Art: Seventh Crow; Marvel Big Bang 2016

Guys, guys, I'm so excited that I finally get to share this with you! For Marvel Big Bang 2016 alphaflyer has written Seventh Crow, the third in her Avengers/007, SHIELD/MI6 series following 2013's Second Mouse and 2014's Locust Wind. Once again I teamed up with her to do the graphics and I wanted to try something I'd wanted to do from the very beginning, but was completely out of my depth: make a fanvid film style trailer. I ended up getting two years to learn how to do it and have a go - thank you to everyone on my f-list who gave me hints and tips! - as we were meant to post in 2015 but offline life got on top of us.

Now I get to present to share with you a brand new 34,000 word mission crossover epic fic from alphaflyer, accompanying graphics, and my first ever fanvid. We did the thing! I am so proud of us :D

Fic: Seventh Crow
Beta readers: inkvoices, jrbarton
Fandom/Universe: MCU/Avengers, James Bond/007 (Craig movies)
Rating: PG13
Word count: 34,000
Warnings: Canon-typical violence; swearing; two or three allusions to recent traumatic election processes
Summary: "One for sorrow, Two for joy ..." A long life in intelligence has taught M one thing above all: criminal organizations are like a tick embedded in the skin of humanity. You can never be sure you have pulled out the entire thing. What remains causes disease to take hold and fester.
Accompanying Art: Art for Seventh Crow
Artist: inkvoices

And I'm just gonna leave this here *grins*:

avengers:iron tony heart


I watched Morgan on Thursday night. The premise is that a corporate Risk Management Consultant is sent to an old building in the middle of picturesque nowhere because there has been an incident with an arficial, or synthetic, humanoid experiment and her job is to decide whether or not it should be terminated.

I do love a good robot or artificial intelligence story, but the set up for Morgan is more like a sci-fi thriller or horror, with the house in the middle of nowhere populated by a scientific team that may or may not be too attached to their creation, or may or may not have gone stir crazy, or may or may not be what they seem. And that's before we meet the titular Morgan. There's lots of creepy atmosphere and jumpy moments, and then plenty of flinch-worthy violence - or at least for my tastes. I've read reviews where it's said to be too predicatable or generic, but then I don't generally watch things that verge into horror territory.

But I liked the nods to things happening behind the scenes, the whys of Morgan's creation and the idea of whether or not artifical intelligence should be created with emotions and what the implications of that would be. Contrasted with how the hell do humans deal with emotion anyway?

Collapse ) So an Ex Machina style think piece it is not, but it gave me thinky thoughts and I enjoyed it for what it was. We also enjoyed figuring out where we recognised the cast members from.

Also, there's a reference to a past incident at Helsinki that made us think of Orphan Black - do people just like the name of the place or is it actually a major centre for genetics research? Heh.

And if you like robots and AI, excuse me whilst I throw a rec at you for the comic Descender. I recently read volumes one and two of the trade and am impatiently waiting for the third. It's a good story and the art is freaking gorgeous.