Congratulations to ar and gloss for winning the book giveaway! Please PM me or email me at manifesta at dreamwidth dot org with your:
1. mailing address
2. which book you would like
3. if you want it as an ebook
4. your preferred online book distributor, if you have one
I include the last just in case someone really wants to support an indie bookstore, etc. but otherwise I'll order through anything that can ship to you.
Thank you everyone for participating in 3W4D and the giveaway! I may not have been able to reply to everyone, but I've truly appreciated your thoughts, comments, and support.
A few of my own thoughts on the giveaway process:
1. There were three other potential books that I at one point had wanted to analyze but didn't: Elantris by Branden Sanderson (political fantasy), The Last Mortal Man by Syne Mitchell (science fiction of some flavor or another), and Vision in White by Nora Roberts (contemporary romance). The last was originally among my top five but I realized last minute that it's a trade paperback, not mass market. The first two were quite good, but only featured one woman as a protagonist, and while they would have been fun to dissect, I was torn over whether or not they served the purpose of the giveaway as I saw it (which was, at its core, to be empowering for women).
2. On that note, common characteristics of the books I analyzed include: female authors with strong female protagonists; added to or subverted the traditional norms of the genre in some way; an element of fantasy; and thorough worldbuilding and/or characterization. I mostly went with instinct when picking my list, and I think it turned out well.
I'd also like to note that these aren't necessarily my favorite books, but rather good books I've read in the last 8 months or so.
3. Everyone's posts they linked to on the giveaway entry page are so interesting! I've been trolling the latest things/3W4D pages but it seems that there was still content out there that eluded me. Thank you for sharing your meta, comment fests, and recipes with me!
For some reason, the poll creator isn't working for me, so if you'd like to answer in the comments: Which of the four books were your favorite?
Congratulations to ar and gloss for winning the book giveaway! Please PM me or email me at manifesta at dreamwidth dot org with your:
From Kiersten White, author of the upcoming YA Paranormalcy, on romance in YA:
"But I knew—KNEW—that we were meant to be together. And if I could just figure it out, convince him, I’d be able to root out his personal demons. He would confess he simply feared he wasn’t good enough for me/was actually protecting me, and we’d be able to have our happily-ever-after.It's good to know some YA authors are listening.
As long as I earned it. As long as I was good, and pure, and self-sacrificing. Then I could make it work.
Romantic, isn’t it?
Wait. You mean that was creepy? You mean that no girl should ever, EVER have to “earn” the right to be treated well in a relationship? That if a guy treats her like that, he is not worthy of her?
[....] So here’s to making sure that our girls know they are worth far, far more than a bad boy. That they shouldn’t have to work to earn the right to be treated like they deserve. That they shouldn’t have to sacrifice themselves or their dreams for someone to love them."
I particularly appreciated her emphasis on how women, and especially young girls, are socialized to believe that they must earn their happiness, and in earning it they must compromise themselves (which isn't portrayed as compromising oneself at all, but rather making a general compromise for the good of the relationship if not solely for the boy).
I think that, in regards to relationships, there is a very strong American rhetoric of "making it work." Couples are encouraged to compromise and to be flexible enough to take as well as give, which all in all is sound advice. Gender roles throw a wrench into the equation because women are already encouraged by society to give more than they take. And so when you look at the current trend in romantic YA (and especially in paranormal), what Americans see--because it's what they expect to see--is a couple "compromising" when what's actually occurring is a greater portion of the burden of "compromise" being shouldered by the woman.
It's been 3 weeks, and the moment you've been patiently waiting for has arrived!
Here's how it's gonna go down: As of today, Friday, May 14th, this post is open to anyone, anywhere*, to enter the giveaway. It will remain open for entries until 11:59PM PST on Monday the 17th. After that I will draw 2 winners at random and announce them in a different post. I will then ask them to email or PM me with their address information, which I will never ever distribute, etc. etc.
As a refresher, here are the rules.
The books I've analyzed are:
#1: The Drowning City by Amanda Downum
#2: Skin Game by Ava Gray
#3: Hawkspar by Holly Lisle
#4: Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer
In your comment, you should have either:
1 link to a 3W4D post you made exclusively to DW for the festival
5 links to comments you made on 3W4D posts
As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm going to be on a lovely little island without any form of internet connection over the weekend. After Friday night PST I won't be able to answer any queries until late Sunday at the earliest. Please have patience with me if I'm slow to respond to comments/PMs.
Thank you everyone for your interest in this giveaway and my posts! It's been a pleasure to promote some great books. And if you haven't had enough giveaways in your life, merisunshine36 is giving away 2 copies of N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
And out of curiosity's sake: A poll!
ETA: The poll doesn't seem to be working, and I'm too annoyed to fiddle with it. I'll try again later this weekend.
*Only caveat is that I have to be able to ship to you through an online distributor. Also must have a DW account or use Open-ID.
When I originally decided to do this giveaway-analysis combo, this was the book I was thinking of: Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer
Genre: Historical young adult
Release: September 2002
Jacky is a plucky London orphan girl who pretends to be a boy and enlists at a young age on a British military ship. She does so because she realizes that it's easier to live as a boy than it is as a girl, especially as an orphan.
One of the things that both baffled and irritated me for a long time was Jacky's longing to be a lady. It just didn't make sense--she's on a ship! Climbing the rigging! Firing cannons! And lest she lack in heterosexual sexual experiences, she even gets to snog cute boy(s)! Really, who would settle for being a lady and give all that up?
Jacky defies stereotypes. She's loud, brash, and blatantly flirtatious to the point of making ambiguous moral decisions, but she's also whiny, dramatic, and occasionally very irrational. She's got tons of flaws but a whole hell of a lot of charm. She can keep her head in a life or death crisis but burst into hysterical tears at the thought of far less severe corporal punishment. To wit: She doesn't make any kind of sense.
The book I would have preferred, the book I had expected, was a blatantly pro-female book that had an Alanna the Lioness-esque character who loathed any mention of restrictive forms of femininity and preferred men's roles. Being feminine was fine and all, but to prefer it? After experiencing the agency of living as a boy?
It's not a neat and tidy book. It's messy. Jacky's messy. She doesn't fit inside a box. She wants what any girl wants when she's lived a life of destitution but isn't too old to remember the time when she was a lady. Unlike the Alanna archetype, she hadn't chosen to take on men's roles--her survival had depended on it. She hadn't had the chance to experience what life could be like as a woman beyond her life as a girl on the streets. There's a world of difference there, hinging on choice and privilege. I may want her to want to continue kicking ass as a pretend-boy, but she's experienced the military's jagged edges, and while she's no stranger to rough living, she prefers comfort. When juxtaposed with the inelegant lifestyle of a ship's boy, a profession chosen out of necessity rather than desire, the luxurious life of a lady might begin to look good to me, too.
Her relationship with _______ further reaffirmed her desires for more traditional gender roles. He's conservative in his wishes for what he wants her to be--a lady--but tolerant of her wily ways. She wants to be a lady as much if not more so than he wants her to, and their mutual desires create a feedback loop. Despite this, Jacky really is quite the mischevious creature, and becoming a lady does not come to her as easily as being a boy.
(This isn't to say that the plot is about her becoming a lady. It's not, but it does influence some of her choices.)
Is Bloody Jack feminist? I'd say so. Jacky's simply not the traditional feminist heroine.
As an aside, the first two books of the series are not my favorite. Jacky's character become much more developed and nuanced in the later books, and her perception of her own sexuality and gender become clearer. If a giveaway winner has read the first one but not some of the later books, I'd cheerfully be willing to substitute this one for another in the series (given that it's availiable in mass market paperback or ebook).
Want to win Bloody Jack? Hand around until Friday, May 14th when I open a post for comments!
I'll be out of town (on a wonderfully remote island without any internet connection) this weekend so after Friday I won't be able to answer questions until late Sunday at the very earliest. Please look over the rules and ask any questions before Friday, if possible.
A quick recap: I'm giving away 2 books for three-weeks-for-dw three_weeks_for_dw (aka 3W4D). 2 winning participants will get to choose from a selection of books that I'll be analyzing over the course of the 3 weeks. Chosen books will range from romance to fantasy to YA. Here is the introductory post and giveaway rules, and all giveaway-related posts will be filed under the book giveaway and three weeks for dreamwidth tags.
I really love this one: Hawkspar by Holly Lisle.
Release: June 2008
So, as irrelevant but nonethless interesting background information, I remember back when Holly Lisle was still writing Hawkspar. She endured quite a bit in her struggle publish it in a way that did the book justice, and so to see it in its 600-page glory is cheering. Hawkspar a pseudo-standalone, pseudo-sequel to her other book set in the same world, Talyn (which is also very good). I've always been a huge fan of Lisle's worldbuilding abilities, but her novels prior to Talyn fell a little flat. They were okay. Not amazing, but decent. I feel like Talyn and especially Hawkspar are the height of Lisle's writing ability, the two books that went above and beyond all her previous works.
Hawkspar is a slave in a religious cult. Her eyes are replaced with the stones that goes by her name, and thus she becomes the new goddess of war, one of several goddesses whose eye are likewise replaced. She can no longer see what's in front of her, but she can slip into the streams of time and see the past, present, and future. The book is split into two POVs--Hawkspar's and Aaran's--but because Hawkspar's is written in first person, the reader is intimately connected with her every thought, and I think this may be why Lisle was so successful in writing about a character that is blind.
Humans are very visual creatures, and we depend on sight more than any other sense. A lot of the narrative in any book consists of visual descriptions of people, places, things. Because Hawkspar couldn't describe any of these things, Lisle was forced to focus on Hawkspar's thoughts, feelings. Her actions, others' actions. Lisle wrote this so fluidly that I was almost to the end of the book before I realized that, in the majority of Hawkspar's scenes, nothing visual had been described. She relied on other senses to describe the tangible: sounds, smells, texture. Hawkspar's sensory perception enhanced the overal feel of and my connection with the story.
There is at least one gritty scene that made me go, "It's not gonna go there. It wouldn't go there. ...holy cheesecake IT JUST WENT THERE." It was one of those moments where I knew that things would have to work out, because the story was no where near over, but I couldn't figure out how they could.
Hawkspar herself is calm and collected, but vengeful. She has insecurities, and feels incompetent at times, but she remains strong in times of crisis. I liked her a lot, if that says anything. She uses her Eyes to her advantage, but being able to see the future is only useful if the seer is able to make the appropriate decisions that would turn at least one possibility to her advantage. Hawkspar does just that, and plays a mental chess game with opponents that don't even recognize there's a gameboard.
( spoiler alert: discussion of Hawkspar's status as disabled )
Warnings: Trigger warning for mentions of sexual assault against tertiary characters. There's also a decent amount of violence, but oddly enough a lot of it's off-screen.
Want to win Hawkspar? Hang around until Friday, May 14th when I open a post for contest entries!
Just when you think I've fallen off the face of the 'verse, I come rolling on back with another one. This time it's Skin Game by Ava Gray.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Release: November 2009
If I were to list, off the top of my head, all the reasons I like this book, they would be (in no particular order): the hero is not a rapist, asshat, or domineering to the point of controlling the heroine; the heroine is highly independent, self-confident, and assertive; her magical powers (which are minimal, but impressive) do not define her; and Kyra and Reyes' sharp, fiery banter. The sex scenes are hot, too, although what Kyra thinks is kinky makes me laugh just a little on the inside.
Kyra's a badass conwoman/thief on the run after pulling off a major heist. Reyes is an assassin sent to kill her and bring back the loot. Too bad Kyra's skill is the ability to temporarily steal other people's best skills and use it against them. This paranormal is low on the paranormal (paranormal-lite?), and I wonder if that might be why I like it so much. Not necessarily because I prefer less emphasis on the paranormal--as a fantasy reader, that's simply not true--but perhaps because, by focusing less on Kyra's magical powers, Ava Gray was able to write her as fully fleshed-out character whose identity did not revolve around her power.
As I see it, the current structure for paranormal romance and modern urban fantasy allows the heroine to rely solely on her magical powers and/or her boyfriend(s) to get her out of a jam. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, because the paranormal/urban aspects are what define the subgenres, but when magic or guns or sexuality or boytoys replace any real characterization of the heroine--her personality, her intelligence--the book loses impact. It's easy for PR/MUF heroines to become cardboard copies of each other: the gun or the mysterious powers become all there is that you need to know. Kyra's strong in the sense that she's not easily manipulated, she's cunning, and she gives back what she gets. Her ability to steal others' skills doesn't overwhelm or define her. She is also Reyes' equal, and him hers (which I think speaks to his humanity and strength, too).
Another refreshing tidbit was Reyes' lack of magical powers. He still fits the physically-strong-hero mold, but Kyra has the advantage; she's something he's never seen, never dealt with before. And whatever strength he has is negated when she steals it.
Make no mistake, Reyes does use his strength, and has flash impulses that portray him as potentially controlling and even dangerous--but he never acts on those impulses without Kyra's consent. He's manipulative; he has to be. But the danger, the real danger, stays out of the bedroom. It's a fine line and I feel like Gray walked it well.
The cover baffles me. It's clearly supposed to depict Reyes in all his half-naked glory, even though the story revolves around Kyra. Her motivations, her plotline, her actions are what propel the story forward. But at the same time, I'm somewhat grateful that it's not yet another half-naked, leather-wearing woman on the cover. And I suppose it coincides the title.
Which, by the way, I had to look up: "A term coined by renowned investor Warren Buffett referring to a situation in which high-ranking insiders use their own money to buy stock in the company they are running." I had quite the "OH!" moment, although it doesn't make sense until the end.
The ending... I don't know how I felt about the ending. It seemed rushed, and both characteristic and uncharacteristic of Kyra. Also, I'm annoyed that character ____ is going to be the hero of the next book, because he came off as such a creeper in Skin Game. It would take a lot of convincing to redeem him as a hero.
Overall, a good read. I love the concept of paranormal romance in theory, but it can be difficult to love in practice. PR books tend to follow the same pattern, a pattern I tend to take personal issue with. Skin Game shakes things up and even does a little dance in all its rebellious glory.
Want to win Skin Game? Hang around until May 13th, when I open a post for entries (and don't forget to read the rules!).
Sorry for the delay on responding/commenting. I hope everyone is having a good Three Weeks!
First up: The Drowning City by Amanda Downum.
Genre: Political fantasy
Release date: September 2009
Downum has a lush writing style full of description. Her setting draws on South Asian culture, placing The Drowning City, and the quickly flooding city of Symir, apart from other European/Victorian political fantasies. I'll admit up front that as a White American still working on deconstructing my own privilege, the finer points that distinguish between what is the appropriation of a culture and what is not still elude me at times. I've scoured the web trying to find reviews that mention any form of cultural appropriation within the book and found none. If there is, it is beyond my current ability to identify. If anyone who has read the book feels comfortable chiming in, I would appreciate it. I suppose you could say this is my "I think it's okay, but I acknowledge that I may not be seeing everything I should be" warning flag.
While courts and royalty are mentioned, they do not seem to play a primary role; the focus is on lower-class characters, the mercenaries, activists, and of course Isyllt, a necromancy/spy sent to fund Symir's revolutionaries. What I like about TDC is its use of subterfuge as a plot device and the edgier character archetypes. Isyllt knows she's being sent to secretly topple a city as well as its government to the advantage of her own benefactor and she doesn't shy away from that. She also doesn't hold any illusions that a revolution will occur without a high price, but at the same time is willing to do what needs to be done. I think this mental neutrality comes in part from her personality and her role as a necromancer (which I suppose could interconnected). The closer she gets to the revolutionaries, the more she feels the conflict and the consequences, illustrating a form of character growth that challenges her previous ways of thinking.
I get the feeling that she's a little jaded, and while her reasons for being so are fleshed out, they are explained in a seemingly random infodump and then for the most part dropped. This made her seem a little whiny in the beginning, which is a startling trait to see in a necromancer.
I also wish she would use her necromancy skills more frequently, but the fact that she doesn't renders it all that more significant when she does. Her reluctance also forces her to base her choices on what she can and can't do without the aid of magic--choices that she sometimes, with bitter humor, later regrets. Her flaws are apparent, and she's far from perfect; you could perhaps even say that she's a little fucked up. There's a brief sex scene with a character who may or may not be on her side (but it's consensual, so woohoo!). I appreciated their casual simplicity, a no-strings approach that's outlawed in romances and doesn't make frequent appearances in fantasy. Downum didn't try to force an emotional relationship that wasn't there while still making it relevant and meaningful.
Two secondary characters and Isyllt's bodyguards, Adam and Xinai, have some of my favorite moments. Xinai is decidely badass, a competent, merciless assassin. But she is also a native to Symir, and when she comes home, she's welcomed by a bloody reunion that shakes her world up again. It takes all her strength to confront her past and her future, to sacrifice parts of herself to support her family and the survival of her culture. Adam and Xinai have some of the sexiest, endearing interactions in the book, and I really hope they show up again in the forthcoming sequel, The Bone Palace.
Want to win The Drowning City? Hang around until May 13th, when I open a post for entries (and don't forget to read the rules!).
I mentioned briefly, back in the dark ages prior to manifesta's renovation, that I wanted to do a giveaway of books that I thought were awesome. More recently I brought up the idea of analyzing some of these books, focusing what I thought was done poorly or done well, and there seemed to be some support for this idea.
So, here's the deal:
1. Over the course of the next Three Weeks I'll be posting about different books that I've read in the last 8 months. The facets I will focus on in my analysis will vary from book to book but ultimately stem from a feminist perspective, and I'd highlight whatever I thought relevant or simply struck my fancy.
2. I will try very, very hard not to post spoilers. If I do think something is spoilery but essential, I'll hide it under a cut.
3. My discussion of each book will not be comprehensive; i.e. if one of the female characters is stuffed in a refrigerator, I'll mention that, but if there are tragic plot holes, I might not mention that (though really, if there are tragic plot holes I think I'd be less inclined to consider the book "awesome"). Thus I wouldn't by any means consider my posts to be reviews, but because this is a giveaway, I suppose you could say that I'm endorsing them.
4. There will be two (2) winning participants, which means I will be giving away two (2) books,* though I will be posting about more books than that. Winners can choose which book from the ones that I've posted about as their prize. I don't have a finalized list of books that I intend to include, but they'll range from fantasy to romance to paranormal romance and include at least one YA. I realize this isn't a very broad spectrum and won't suit everybody, but it's what I like to read.
Because Three Weeks is a celebration of Dreamwidth and a way to foster content and community, there are a few rules. You must do one of the following to enter the giveaway:
a. post at least one (1) entry of 250 words or more exclusively to Dreamwidth (personal journals, comms, etc.) for the festival, content choice up to you; if you want to do photos, vids, poetry, icon spams, etc. that's fine, too
b. post at least five (5) comments of 50 words or more (each) to Three Weeks-related content** during the festival
Don't know where to start? All posts tagged with three weeks for dreamwidth or threeweeks will show up on this feed: http://www.dreamwidth.org/latest?feed=
The word minimum is more of a recommendation than a strict guideline. Quality over quantity.
I reserve the right to disqualify any entries or comments that I consider to include hatespeech of any kind.
5. At the end of the Three Weeks festival, the week of May 10th, I will make a post that people can comment on to enter the giveaway. Your comment, in order to be considered eligible, MUST INCLUDE a link to your entry or five separate links to your comments. (If you're not sure how to link to comments, look for a 'LINK' button around or below each individual comment.)
You do not have to be subscribed to me to enter. You also do not have to link to or comment on my journal or entries, but if you'd like to signal-boost the giveaway, I'd appreciate that.
I recognize that not everyone who reads DW content has a DW journal. I could require that people sign up with the site in order to participate, but I don't want a flood of otherwise unused accounts sitting around after the festival's done. I will accept open-ID*** participants that post comments on Three Weeks-related content but ask that you consider trying out DW. We're pretty cool. Really.
Questions? Thoughts? Feel free to comment, message me, or email me at manifesta at dreamwidth dot org.
Ironically, this week is my busiest of the quarter, so I may not be as active around the community as I would like. I will try to read and comment as much as possible, but my response time to any queries may be slow. Please have patience with me.
And on another vein, I truly wish I could give away more than two books, but it isn't plausible at this time. Perhaps in the future I'll do a used-book giveaway, which may cut down on costs.
*Giveaway open to everyone on the planet as long as I can ship to you through B&N, Amazon, or some other book distributor. If you would prefer an ebook version, then assuming there is one, I can do that, too.
**I chose to restrict comments to Three Weeks content in order to promote feedback within the festival itself. If anyone has serious issues with this, I will consider changing it to include comments on entries outside the festival.
***I will not accept anonymous entries because I won't be able to figure out if you were the one who actually posted the linked comments.
madame_parker is new-ish to DW and is a bookworm with fannish interests. Go say hi!
ephemere talks about gaming, culture, history, and economics.
lea_hazel comments on books and general general geekery, and makes the occasional but highly amusing psychological observation.
three_weeks_for_dw starts on Monday the 26th! To echo erda the easiest way to contribute, if you don't have the time/don't want to write up anything in a post, is to comment! I'll be posting... something. It's a surprise (even for me!).
When I was considering spending money on Dreamwidth, I always circled back to, "Why?" I could pay as much or less for a domain of my own. Avatars don't mean that much to me, though I am excited that I no longer have to cycle between my favorite ones, and honestly, the majority of the perks that differentiate between the free, paid, and premium paid accounts have never interested me. Then I wondered where that money would go and what exactly I would be paying for, if not these optional add-ons.
What sets DW apart from other blogging sites in my mind is that it supports safe spaces. It is a multi-layered community that works together, developers and members alike, to ensure that everyone feels welcome here. It's become a mecca for academic and creative types to gather and exchange ideas. In some ways I feel like to support DW is also to support a larger cultural movement of awareness and respect.
Some journals and comms that I think encourage this statement (for followfriday!):
hooked_on_heroines-- meta on women characters and quickly becoming very active
ladiesbigbang-- still accepting sign-ups until April 30th! Want me to cheer for you?
academia-- for people interested in scholarly pursuits
fantasy-- meta on all types of fantasy, also quickly becoming more active
staranise-- fun, interactive posts on writing, psychology, and fandom
miss_haitch-- lots of yummy meta on writing, plus provides tons of great links
three_weeks_for_dw begins on April 26th! I still haven't decided what I'm going to contribute for the fest, but I will be doing something.