sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
Sunday, June 19th, 2016 06:40 pm
So I love regency romances. Georgette Heyer is generally agreed to have been the creator of the genre, and is loved by most regency fans. And I can't stand her. I found myself ranting about why on twitter, but didn't have enough space to rant properly, so here we are.

I have only read a few Heyer romances, spaced out by the several years it took for me to forget how much I'd hated the last one before trying again. So I can't give an entirely informed opinion on her. Many people I highly respect adore her books, and that's fine. This is just why I don't like her. Note that the title isn't "why Georgette Heyer is objectively awful". I just get annoyed when she's presented as the Ultimate Regency Author All Regency Fans Love and All Regency Authors Should Emulate.
Read more... )
sqbr: Faith holding a spray can next to "Buffy the Vamprie Slayer" with Faith scrawled over the top (faith)
Sunday, September 16th, 2012 09:02 pm
I like romance novels. I like fantasy (more than non-speculative fiction, at least). But somehow the combination of the two is always GODAWFUL. Like, every single supernatural romance has the protagonist being a Special Angsty Snowflake. All other women are soft weak victims while she is tough and powerful, but also vulnerable. She tries dating nice guys but they can't handle her Power, she needs an even more powerful man, one who is SUPER manly and strong and arrogant and probably despises all other women as much as the narrative.

Blech. I find arrogance and misogyny super unattractive, even in my escapism. Not to mention giant men bulging with muscles.

"Bitten" by Kelley Armstrong came strongly recced, but I had a bad feeling from her being The Only Female Werewolf. Sure enough, they see all other women but her as only useful for meaningless sex and babies (there are no gay or asexual werewolves, natch) Eventually I had to check to see if she gets back together with her smug stalkery ex AND SHE DOES. Of course, he's the most obnoxious and unpleasant man in the story, he must be the romantic lead.

It's pretty well written and I like the main female character (for a start, she doesn't hate other women, woo!), but hits too many bad buttons for me. Maybe I'll skip to the end and see if I like the feel of it.

Then maybe I'll reread my Marjorie Liu. She actually has some VARIETY in her manly supernatural men. And then I will sigh and wish for f/f space opera romance.
sqbr: A happy dragon on a pile of books (bookdragon)
Friday, November 26th, 2010 02:38 pm
Enjoying Lost Girl made me decide to check out some paranormal romance-y books…which has reminded me why I like Lost Girl and don't tend to read paranormal romance.

Some vague spoilers but nothing significant.
Read more... )
sqbr: A happy dragon on a pile of books (bookdragon)
Friday, August 20th, 2010 07:07 pm
So it says a lot about regency romances that when I got "The Duke of Shadows" by Meredith Duran from the library and saw that it was set in India I was going to take it back unread because there was no way it wouldn't be horribly painfully racist. (The last book of hers I read was set in Hong Kong and managed to have no non-white/POC characters at all apart from two very briefly mentioned servants, which was a step up from what I was expecting but still not exactly good)

But I got very bored today so gave it a go: and it's not! It's by far the least racist regency romance I've ever read and is better than some contemporary ones! The hero is OMG of mixed English/Indian descent. (And still an English lord, of course. But he identifies as Indian as much as he does English) He spends a lot of time muttering bitterly about how the English are a bunch of oppressive thugs who should get the hell out of India.

It's not perfect by any means, there's still a moderate amount of "Wow, India sure is exotic!" going on, but for example compare the odious "heroine discovers blonde blue eyed hero is muslim prince, thinks it's sexy as hell, he dresses up in traditional clothes so she can exotify him" scene in "Captives of the Night" by Loretta Chase to the heroine seeing the hero fitting into Indian society while they're hiding in a village from The Plot, her being a bit freaked out and saying "You're Indian then, not English," to which he replies "What nice convenient labels."

I'm making this post now because part of me is sure it's just going to disappoint me (I'm only 1/3 of the way through) and I wanted to enjoy the moment while it lasted. Because my lord I was getting sick of the constant creepy racism in regency romances, and this is probably as good as it's ever going to get. (Oh regency romances, why can't I quit you...)

EDIT: Have finished the book and I actually really liked it. Though partly for having just the sort of angst I like but doesn't appeal to everyone. One could justifiably accuse it of doing the "using momentous and painful events from the history of colonialised peoples as backdrop to white people's angsty romance" thing, it didn't feel overly appropriative to me, but I'm hardly the best judge.
sqbr: I lay on the couch, suffering an out of spoons error (spoons)
Thursday, August 19th, 2010 11:43 am
I have actual coherent thought I was hoping to make into a post but whenever I try I fall asleep. So! Links.

On generous listening I have linked to my reply which has some of my thoughts on the topic. (And when I am less sleepy, I will reply to her reply!)

Dirty Girls and Bad Feminists: A Few Thoughts on “I Love Dick”

This is an old post but it connects with some stuff I've been thinking about. I've been thinking about which criticisms of social justice activism etc I find helpful, and I think saying "What I/we should do.." rather than "What they should do.." is a big part of it.

On note of Classism trumping Racism A nice rebuttal to a point of view one encounters in various places.

Why Accuracy in Historical M/M Romance Matters This is similar to my approach to historical f/f and m/f etc. I have a niggling feeling that I'd disagree with some of it if I was more awake, though.
sqbr: She's getting existential again. It's ok I have a super soaker. (existentialism)
Saturday, July 3rd, 2010 10:35 am
(This post has no central thesis, I'm just rambling)

I read one of Loretta Chase's older romance novels the other day ("Viscount Vagabond") and realised I was really enjoying the fact it didn't have any sex in. Which struck me as odd since I've pretty much gotten used to sex scenes thanks to lots of fanfic and mostly enjoy them well enough, but then I realised what I was actually enjoying the lack of was stuff from the heroes POV about his Uncontrollable Animal Lusts(*).
cut because wow that got long )
sqbr: me cosplaying the bearded dwarf cheery longbottom, titled Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Sunday, November 8th, 2009 08:18 am
Two posts about the way "vanilla"/kink-free sex/romance/etc is as much a kink as anything else:
Gacked from Thingswithwings about [profile] kinkfreezone
Vanilla is not normal. Vanilla is a kink.

EDIT: It's been pointed out that I've conflated BDSM and unhealthy power imbalances (I do know they're different!) I can't fix my comments but will try and fix the post, sorry for being an ass.

Something the latter helped crystalise for me is the reason I get so irritated at a lot of romance stories. (EDIT: I'm not really talking about the whole kinky sex vs non-kinky sex thing in this post, that's just the topic that got me thinking)

I would not think that my tastes(*) are all that odd: I like romances to be between two people who I am convinced genuinely care about each other who take a while to realise they like each other and have an equal healthy relationship.
Read more... )
sqbr: pretty purple pi (Default)
Saturday, October 3rd, 2009 04:07 pm
SPOILERS, obviously. WARNING: brief references to creepy sexual stuff.

In short: Racism, angst, homophobia, angst, racism, angst, sex, ANGST, they lived happily ever after, the end.

But other than that it was pretty good.

SPOILERS! TRIGGERS! ANGGSSSSTTTT )
sqbr: Are you coming to bed? I can't, this is important. Why? Someone is wrong on the internet. (duty calls)
Friday, October 2nd, 2009 04:32 pm
So perhaps watching Dollhouse to distract me from the offensiveness of this novel wasn't the best idea (not that's it's particularly bad so far, for Dollhouse. The season premiere of Lie To Me squicked me more(*). But it's still...Dollhouse-y) And the episode of Xfiles I started watching was about a bunch of carnival freaks and I just didn't have the energy to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Ranting about this damn book some more )
sqbr: A happy dragon on a pile of books (bookdragon)
Friday, October 2nd, 2009 11:58 am
I think the main reason I feel like posting is that lj is down so I can't post there :)

Anyway: once it became clear that I wasn't getting anything productive done today (eg when I fell suddenly alseep after Cam went to work and didn't wake until 11) I was planning on spending the rest of today reading the book I bought yesterday. It's "The Hidden Heart" by Laura Kinsale, author of "Midsummer Moon" (a regency romance I read and enjoyed lately) But on the FIRST PAGE is "She..generously informed the Indians that the jungle monsters with holes for faces were no longer in pursuit..They had escorted the white woman out of Barrio do Rio in order to save themselves from the supernatural beasts that she had said would surely descend upon them if they hadn't."

GUH

It was written in 1986 so there's quite possibly a magical anti-racist learning experience later in the book but I'm not sure I can bothered waiting to see (especially since even if there is I'm still going to have trouble liking her as a protagonist), and googling about to check is more effort than I really feel like. Dammit. I was just thinking yesterday about the difficulty of writing historical/fantasy etc settings without buying into all the classism /racism/sexism etc. But there's dodgy subtext and then there's "LOL RACISM".

EDIT: And googling "racism Kinsale "The Hidden Heart"" got me lots of reviews of the book which happened to have unrelated references to racism elsewhere on the page, including one by oyceter, one of the creators of "International Blog Against Racism Week", though it is from several years ago and I remember her saying she used to be much less aware of this sort of thing. HMM.
sqbr: A happy dragon on a pile of books (bookdragon)
Sunday, July 26th, 2009 04:42 pm
These are two Marjorie M Lui "Dirk and Steele" supernatural romance novels.

So far there are two common themes in this series:
1)The love interests are soul mates and are drawn to each other pretty much the moment they meet, thought they tend to fight against it out of a mix of cynicism and hard-won self defense based on Bad Past Experiences.
2)To some extent the male love interests tend to feel like they're fulfilling different ever-so-slightly-furry-ish supernatural creature fetishes.

Soul Song was sexy fish-man
The Wild Road is basically sexy Goliath from Gargoyles
The Last Twilight is sexy black African man who turns into a cheetah (which is imo a bit problematic)

The Wild Road
So clearly I wasn't the only teenage girl watching Gargoyles thinking "You know, he's kind of cute for an animated non-human."

This was fun. I liked the protagonists, though both rather hardened by difficult circumstances they weren't as irritatingly angsty as the previous lot, and I found the plot quite engaging and thrilling. The female protagonist has lost her memory, and I thought the "redefining and rediscovering yourself when you don't know who you are or were" thing was done pretty well.

Note:This is explicitly set after "Soul Song" and has some spoilers for it's plot.

The Last Twilight

I started reading this at the shop and ended up buying it because I wanted to know what happened next. The main character is a CDC disease specialist, and her life dealing with epidemics was quite engaging if rather gross for a romance. Being a Marjorie M Lui book the plot quickly shifted, and it was a bit less engrossing in the middle, but overall quite an enjoyable fantasy thriller and I liked the relationship between the two leads.

I'm not the best judge of this sort of thing, but I've seen enough criticisms of the way people of African descent are associated with animals/predators etc to be a bit uncomfortable with the way the male lead was exotified by the female lead, although he is a quite well rounded and engaging character.

On the plus side we got lots of interesting African characters, and distinctions were made between different African countries and cultures (eg the male lead is Kenyan, and misses the plains while in the jungles of the Congo).
sqbr: Torchwood spoilers for various episode numbers: Jack dies (torchwood spoilers)
Sunday, December 7th, 2008 01:15 pm
Not feeling at all review-y but I keep meaning to post about these. So:

A review I did of the graphic novel Persepolis. Very good autobiography of a girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.

Also I finally got around to watching the 90s movie Dating the Enemy. I have a major soft spot for body swap/change stories, especially genderswap, but it is so often done badly I've kind of given up on the genre. This isn't a fantastic film (the writing/directing etc is...ok. For an aussie film. From the 90s) but it did manage to have some clever/insightful touches, and most importantly made the central couple's differences largely a function of who they were as people rather than their gender. Also the characters have a refreshingly fluid attitude to their sexuality for a mainstream film :)

Hmm. Dating the Enemy and Wives and Daughters are about the only two romantic movies/tv shows with a female science nerd lead I can think of (And no Roxanne, The world is not enough and any other films with hot "physicists" don't count :P) There need to be more!