The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le GuinI bought this purely for two reasons.1) Ursula K Le Guin is also the author of the Earthsea series.2) Apparently this book is a highly regarded science fiction stand-alone dealing with gender through a race of… sort’ve hemaphroditic people.The whole plot revolves around Genly Ai, a human representative of the Ekumen, a non-political grouping of 80+ planets, who have sent Genly as first contact to the planet Winter/Gethen with the hopes of including the planet in their alliance.The people of Winter differ from Terrans in that for most of a month they are neither male nor female.  Although they possess both sexes sexual organs, neither are prominent, nor are they sexually active until a short period each month referred to as ‘kemmer’ in which the person differentiates into either male or female depending on the person they kemmer with.  This is supposed to play into their society as neither male nor female gender has ever been a negative or positive.One government on the planet is run by a so-called mad king, another by a political body that seems to be the communist representitive in the story.  There are more countries, but it is between these two that Genly and the Gethen native Estreven travel, trying to get positive answers to Genly’s task.  This is a slow and ardous process as both political bodies are disbelieving and scared about what may happen to their own power sources.Despite how this book is set up to show a race of people that are neither distinctly male or female, I did end up getting a bit cranky at how genders were portrayed.  Although the Gethens were neither strictly he nor she but a fluid mixture, Genly always referred to them as ‘he’ unless he found a negative ‘she’ trait about them.  His initial dislike of Estreven came from feminine aspects that got under his skin.  His landlady was labelled as such as she was a busybody.  I started getting pissed at the complete lack of positive feminine adjectives.  On a planet where male or female supposedly doesn’t matter, Genly sure disliked female.  And I could have dealt with that if there was an offset.  A positive representation somewhere from another perspective.  And yet there never really was.  Peeved.
Images in my head: the inhabitants of Winter, or Gethen, are supposedly very human looking.  Although they lend to an androgynous mixture of genders, they should just look a bit shorter and squatter then a ‘Terran’.  And while I could tell myself that in my brain, whenever I tried to picture them I had to keep adjusting away from instantly picturing Admiral Ackbar. It’s like he’s my brains go-to alien template. O.o?

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin

I bought this purely for two reasons.
1) Ursula K Le Guin is also the author of the Earthsea series.
2) Apparently this book is a highly regarded science fiction stand-alone dealing with gender through a race of… sort’ve hemaphroditic people.

The whole plot revolves around Genly Ai, a human representative of the Ekumen, a non-political grouping of 80+ planets, who have sent Genly as first contact to the planet Winter/Gethen with the hopes of including the planet in their alliance.

The people of Winter differ from Terrans in that for most of a month they are neither male nor female.  Although they possess both sexes sexual organs, neither are prominent, nor are they sexually active until a short period each month referred to as ‘kemmer’ in which the person differentiates into either male or female depending on the person they kemmer with.  This is supposed to play into their society as neither male nor female gender has ever been a negative or positive.

One government on the planet is run by a so-called mad king, another by a political body that seems to be the communist representitive in the story.  There are more countries, but it is between these two that Genly and the Gethen native Estreven travel, trying to get positive answers to Genly’s task.  This is a slow and ardous process as both political bodies are disbelieving and scared about what may happen to their own power sources.

Despite how this book is set up to show a race of people that are neither distinctly male or female, I did end up getting a bit cranky at how genders were portrayed.  Although the Gethens were neither strictly he nor she but a fluid mixture, Genly always referred to them as ‘he’ unless he found a negative ‘she’ trait about them.  His initial dislike of Estreven came from feminine aspects that got under his skin.  His landlady was labelled as such as she was a busybody.  I started getting pissed at the complete lack of positive feminine adjectives.  On a planet where male or female supposedly doesn’t matter, Genly sure disliked female.  And I could have dealt with that if there was an offset.  A positive representation somewhere from another perspective.  And yet there never really was.  Peeved.

Images in my head: the inhabitants of Winter, or Gethen, are supposedly very human looking.  Although they lend to an androgynous mixture of genders, they should just look a bit shorter and squatter then a ‘Terran’.  And while I could tell myself that in my brain, whenever I tried to picture them I had to keep adjusting away from instantly picturing Admiral Ackbar. It’s like he’s my brains go-to alien template. O.o?

The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternI’d originally heard about this novel thanks to Tumblr.  People posting photo’s of their own rêveurs outfits, declaring their love for the novel, that sort of thing.  So I thought I’d give it a try.Set in the late 1890’s and very early 1900’s, we have two magicians with differing opinions set their students against each other in a life-long, non-violent battle of skills with a circus set as the testing ground.The book itself weaves its story through three different points of view which follows the story from the beginning with the main protags, slips in the story of the characters who are there at the resolution, and the last view being what I ended up reading as the possible future of the circus.After finishing the book I have to say I didn’t love it.  It wasn’t terrible, and I do love how the three plots all converge at the end.  But I found it rather slow until the last third where everything finally came together.I’d like to think: that one day, I could be like Bailey.  Not expecially special, but just in the right place at the right time to become part of something magical…

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I’d originally heard about this novel thanks to Tumblr.  People posting photo’s of their own rêveurs outfits, declaring their love for the novel, that sort of thing.  So I thought I’d give it a try.

Set in the late 1890’s and very early 1900’s, we have two magicians with differing opinions set their students against each other in a life-long, non-violent battle of skills with a circus set as the testing ground.

The book itself weaves its story through three different points of view which follows the story from the beginning with the main protags, slips in the story of the characters who are there at the resolution, and the last view being what I ended up reading as the possible future of the circus.

After finishing the book I have to say I didn’t love it.  It wasn’t terrible, and I do love how the three plots all converge at the end.  But I found it rather slow until the last third where everything finally came together.

I’d like to think: that one day, I could be like Bailey.  Not expecially special, but just in the right place at the right time to become part of something magical…

The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce
Oh babies!  All grown up and apart from each other.  T_T  
The Will of the Empress is a stand alone book with all four circle kids meeting up again for the first time since they split paths years ago back in The Circle Opens quartet.
As the four had all been away from each other for so long, their mental connection originally forged in the first quartet has all but shut down. And Daja, Tris & Briar are pretty okay with that.  What they’ve done and had to deal with in the years seperate, they’re not sure they want to let the others in and see.
Sandry however, yearns for that connection to be reforged and her insistance that the others ‘must’ connect as a circle again really made me quite grumpy with her.  Probably because I wouldn’t particularly want to have another person having access to my brain thankyou very much and so I likely projected that feeling. 
But maybe the circles connection is not a totally a free pass into each others thoughts, so perhaps not as squick worthy as I originally felt.  But I was still all “hell no.  personal space!” whenever Sandry started guilting the others.
While there’s a lot of friction happening between the circle as it regroups after its years apart, the plot is moved forward by Sandry’s noble connections from  Namorn, most notably her cousin the Empress Berenene who decides that Sandry belongs in Namorn and therefore should be enticed/guilted/forced back to her mothers ancestral home and take up being a noble there.  And if the Empress has to marry Sandry off to a Namornese noble already under her Imperial thumb, detain Sandry’s friends, cause a legal ruckus or use stealthy sneakery to obtain what she wants, she will.  (Sort’ve plays part to the book title “Will of the Empress”, hur hur.)
Want: to read Battlemagic.  All the things Briar alludes to in WotE happens there and I want to know~.  There’s also Melting Stones that I have yet to track down and read, but Battlemagic is calling my name far more.

The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce

Oh babies!  All grown up and apart from each other.  T_T  

The Will of the Empress is a stand alone book with all four circle kids meeting up again for the first time since they split paths years ago back in The Circle Opens quartet.

As the four had all been away from each other for so long, their mental connection originally forged in the first quartet has all but shut down. And Daja, Tris & Briar are pretty okay with that.  What they’ve done and had to deal with in the years seperate, they’re not sure they want to let the others in and see.

Sandry however, yearns for that connection to be reforged and her insistance that the others ‘must’ connect as a circle again really made me quite grumpy with her.  Probably because I wouldn’t particularly want to have another person having access to my brain thankyou very much and so I likely projected that feeling. 

But maybe the circles connection is not a totally a free pass into each others thoughts, so perhaps not as squick worthy as I originally felt.  But I was still all “hell no.  personal space!” whenever Sandry started guilting the others.

While there’s a lot of friction happening between the circle as it regroups after its years apart, the plot is moved forward by Sandry’s noble connections from  Namorn, most notably her cousin the Empress Berenene who decides that Sandry belongs in Namorn and therefore should be enticed/guilted/forced back to her mothers ancestral home and take up being a noble there.  And if the Empress has to marry Sandry off to a Namornese noble already under her Imperial thumb, detain Sandry’s friends, cause a legal ruckus or use stealthy sneakery to obtain what she wants, she will.  (Sort’ve plays part to the book title “Will of the Empress”, hur hur.)


Want:
to read Battlemagic.  All the things Briar alludes to in WotE happens there and I want to know~.  There’s also Melting Stones that I have yet to track down and read, but Battlemagic is calling my name far more.

The Circle Opens - Shatterglass by Tamora PierceTris!  Oh you grumpy, lovely person.  I love her so much.  I also love that she (and also Daja) broke the apprentice trend.  The person she finds in this book isn’t someone that will be with her from here on out, they just need a hand up and a hearty shove in the right direction.
Also, tiny glass dragon.  I’m sure there is serious business in regards to it somewhere, but I need to have a moment or five to just fangirlishyly squeal at the idea. 
But it seems Tris is facing a lot of problems with people constantly underestimating her due to her age.  She is powerful and she is learned, but a large amount of scholars and mundanes alike can not attribute those aspects to a young girl and so therefore dismiss her.  It’s also not helpful that her power stems from a rare version of magic so that people are instantly suspicious and doubtful of her claims.
I’m worried about: How Tris pushes herself.  She wants people to accept her, so she’ll downplay her abilities to those around her, but for herself she seems to have an insatiable need to do more and more with her magic.  It’s like when she tried to hold back the tide in the first quartet with perhaps just the tiniest bit more restraint.  I’m scared she’s going to do herself some damage someday.  T_T

The Circle Opens - Shatterglass by Tamora Pierce

Tris!  Oh you grumpy, lovely person.  I love her so much.  I also love that she (and also Daja) broke the apprentice trend.  The person she finds in this book isn’t someone that will be with her from here on out, they just need a hand up and a hearty shove in the right direction.

Also, tiny glass dragon.  I’m sure there is serious business in regards to it somewhere, but I need to have a moment or five to just fangirlishyly squeal at the idea. 

But it seems Tris is facing a lot of problems with people constantly underestimating her due to her age.  She is powerful and she is learned, but a large amount of scholars and mundanes alike can not attribute those aspects to a young girl and so therefore dismiss her.  It’s also not helpful that her power stems from a rare version of magic so that people are instantly suspicious and doubtful of her claims.

I’m worried about: How Tris pushes herself.  She wants people to accept her, so she’ll downplay her abilities to those around her, but for herself she seems to have an insatiable need to do more and more with her magic.  It’s like when she tried to hold back the tide in the first quartet with perhaps just the tiniest bit more restraint.  I’m scared she’s going to do herself some damage someday.  T_T

The Circle Opens - Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce
Daja’s back in this book.  Again, I can’t say I was really looking forward to Daja’s book, but when it rolled around I was quite happy and getting all caught up with the story that I was given.
The setting of the book, a city where people get around by sleigh and skates, was a welcome turnaround from the more usual tropical/exotic lands that people often travel to.  However, I’m not personally fond of being in the snow and cold, so I found that I was shivering along with all the descriptions.  I felt a bit like Frostpine, that I should sit almost on the fire to feel warm again.
I did feel awfully terrible for Daja and her idolisation.  All I could think every time he popped up was ‘firebug!’ and she saw him as a hero of his people.  It made the truth coming out heartbreaking.  T_T
Scene in my head:  I’m not sure if there was an exact scene described as such, but I have a scene in my head where it’s cold enough to see your breath and there are roasting hot flames reaching into the night sky with sparks floating around among the stars.  …this may have been influenced by one too many campfire experience being projected upon the happenings in the book.

The Circle Opens - Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce

Daja’s back in this book.  Again, I can’t say I was really looking forward to Daja’s book, but when it rolled around I was quite happy and getting all caught up with the story that I was given.

The setting of the book, a city where people get around by sleigh and skates, was a welcome turnaround from the more usual tropical/exotic lands that people often travel to.  However, I’m not personally fond of being in the snow and cold, so I found that I was shivering along with all the descriptions.  I felt a bit like Frostpine, that I should sit almost on the fire to feel warm again.

I did feel awfully terrible for Daja and her idolisation.  All I could think every time he popped up was ‘firebug!’ and she saw him as a hero of his people.  It made the truth coming out heartbreaking.  T_T

Scene in my head:  I’m not sure if there was an exact scene described as such, but I have a scene in my head where it’s cold enough to see your breath and there are roasting hot flames reaching into the night sky with sparks floating around among the stars.  …this may have been influenced by one too many campfire experience being projected upon the happenings in the book.

The Circle Opens - Street Magic by Tamora PierceWeeeee, it’s Briar! Yeah, no secret he’s my favourite.  woot woot.  It was a bit of a surprise to see him so early on this time.  I was kind’ve expecting this quartet to follow the same pattern as the last one and have Briar’s book last, since both started with Sandry.  But no, Briar has his book second.  No complaints from me.  yay!Common theme throughout this quartet seems to be that the original circle now have to act as teachers as Briar finds Evvy, an ophan with stone magic, and while there are some stone mages about, none of them are suitable to teach.Picture in my head: Briar on the rooftops, using green magic to fend off attackers.

The Circle Opens - Street Magic by Tamora Pierce

Weeeee, it’s Briar! Yeah, no secret he’s my favourite.  woot woot.  It was a bit of a surprise to see him so early on this time.  I was kind’ve expecting this quartet to follow the same pattern as the last one and have Briar’s book last, since both started with Sandry.  But no, Briar has his book second.  No complaints from me.  yay!

Common theme throughout this quartet seems to be that the original circle now have to act as teachers as Briar finds Evvy, an ophan with stone magic, and while there are some stone mages about, none of them are suitable to teach.

Picture in my head: Briar on the rooftops, using green magic to fend off attackers.

The Circle Opens - Magic Steps by Tamora PierceWoot.  Back to Emelan with the circle kids.  Following the same pattern as last time of a kid per a book and we’re starting out with Sandry.It’s been a few years and Briar, Daja & Tris have all gone a travelling seperately to far and wide with their teachers.  Only Sandry has stayed behind  so the circle is pretty much split up.  Seems like this quartet around we have one circle kid only to a book.  No main focus and everyone else there to be back up.At the beginning of this story we find her staying with her Uncle Vedris who is recovering from a heart attack. (eep!)  Just as an aside, can I say I have a little crush on Duke Vedris?  bwoop.  The plot also introduces us to a teaching code of ‘you find it, you teach it’… unless you can find someone with the proper qualifications to fob it off onto.  Important plot point as Sandry discovers a child with dance magic and as she sorts out his teaching and tries to keep her uncle from working himself back to another heart attack, assassins are at work within the city and everything becomes a snarly mess.  Yay!Picture in my head: The last net on the floor, with Sandry making the only decision she could.

The Circle Opens - Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce

Woot.  Back to Emelan with the circle kids.  Following the same pattern as last time of a kid per a book and we’re starting out with Sandry.

It’s been a few years and Briar, Daja & Tris have all gone a travelling seperately to far and wide with their teachers.  Only Sandry has stayed behind  so the circle is pretty much split up.  Seems like this quartet around we have one circle kid only to a book.  No main focus and everyone else there to be back up.

At the beginning of this story we find her staying with her Uncle Vedris who is recovering from a heart attack. (eep!)  Just as an aside, can I say I have a little crush on Duke Vedris?  bwoop.  The plot also introduces us to a teaching code of ‘you find it, you teach it’… unless you can find someone with the proper qualifications to fob it off onto.  Important plot point as Sandry discovers a child with dance magic and as she sorts out his teaching and tries to keep her uncle from working himself back to another heart attack, assassins are at work within the city and everything becomes a snarly mess.  Yay!

Picture in my head: The last net on the floor, with Sandry making the only decision she could.

Saga [volume 1-2] by Image ComicsI’d seen pictures of this pop up on my tumblr dash and had been intrigued, but not enough to read it.  That was until some anonymous internet person decided to sum it up as a space opera, somewhat star-wars-ish, with a kick-ass married couple (and new parents) as the main two protaganists … well, I’m sold.I absolutely loved this.  All the characters, not just Alana and Marko, are brilliantly rounded and the universe they live in is a living breathing entity of itself.  I feel like I haven’t just been plonked down into a story out of no where, more that I’m viewing a small part of a larger story.  The story I’m watching is great and involving, but I can also see things moving on the periphery that are other stories moving.  <3  <3
Honestly can’t wait for volume three to come out.
Image stuck in my head: Volume 2, Chapter 10, Page 1.  No Marko, if I keep reading I have to turn the page… and I need to appreciate this page… a lot.

Saga [volume 1-2] by Image Comics

I’d seen pictures of this pop up on my tumblr dash and had been intrigued, but not enough to read it.  That was until some anonymous internet person decided to sum it up as a space opera, somewhat star-wars-ish, with a kick-ass married couple (and new parents) as the main two protaganists … well, I’m sold.

I absolutely loved this.  All the characters, not just Alana and Marko, are brilliantly rounded and the universe they live in is a living breathing entity of itself.  I feel like I haven’t just been plonked down into a story out of no where, more that I’m viewing a small part of a larger story.  The story I’m watching is great and involving, but I can also see things moving on the periphery that are other stories moving.  <3  <3

Honestly can’t wait for volume three to come out.

Image stuck in my head: Volume 2, Chapter 10, Page 1.  No Marko, if I keep reading I have to turn the page… and I need to appreciate this page… a lot.

Circle of Magic - Book 4 - Briar&#8217;s Book by Tamora PierceAdmiting that I was hanging out for this one.  Briar quickly took place as my favourite of the four and I really wanted to read his story.So! We have a unknown plague affecting the populace of Summersea.  Through a street friend of Briar&#8217;s, he and Rosethorn are quickly caught up in its spread and as such the whole everyone has to work hard to find a cure.I really loved this book,  Really really.  Absolutely ripped through it.  I was only pacified by (what I felt to be) the abrupt ending by knowing that there is another quartet that continues to flesh out the four.  Otherwise it sort&#8217;ve felt like&#8230; &#8220;oh, big thing happened! We don&#8217;t want anyone to find out.  Hurrayzzzzzt-end-.&#8221;  These books read too fast.  ~sadface~  I need an exteme amount of more please.Image in my head: Briar reaching out to touch Rosethorn&#8217;s sleeve.  T_T behbeh.

Circle of Magic - Book 4 - Briar’s Book by Tamora Pierce

Admiting that I was hanging out for this one.  Briar quickly took place as my favourite of the four and I really wanted to read his story.

So! We have a unknown plague affecting the populace of Summersea.  Through a street friend of Briar’s, he and Rosethorn are quickly caught up in its spread and as such the whole everyone has to work hard to find a cure.

I really loved this book,  Really really.  Absolutely ripped through it.  I was only pacified by (what I felt to be) the abrupt ending by knowing that there is another quartet that continues to flesh out the four.  Otherwise it sort’ve felt like… “oh, big thing happened! We don’t want anyone to find out.  Hurrayzzzzzt-end-.”  These books read too fast.  ~sadface~  I need an exteme amount of more please.

Image in my head: Briar reaching out to touch Rosethorn’s sleeve.  T_T behbeh.

Circle of Magic - Book 3 - Daja&#8217;s Book by Tamora PierceI want to like Daja more, and while I certainly don&#8217;t dislike her, I&#8217;d have to place her at the bottom of the four in interest.  I&#8217;m more of a Tris person and I&#8217;m attracted to Briar-like characters&#8230; so Daja (and also Sandry in some ways?) are harder for me to warm up to.  (ho ho, a fire pun!)  So I sort&#8217;ve approached this book as more of a stepping stone to the rest of the books.
I did like getting a better look at how Daja feels and copes with what her life has become.  Like Sandry, she&#8217;s learned to wear a public mask to hide her internal struggles.
I was so damn ecstatic when she stood up and showed her worth to the Traders.  Bam!  Very satisfying.  Not only that, but that the self confidence that didn&#8217;t depend on the other Traders that she gained?  Booyah.
&#8230;And the magic she can do is kind&#8217;ve all sorts of amazing. 
Image in my head: the living metal.  It kind&#8217;ve creeps me out, but still holds this sort&#8217;ve &#8220;cool&#8221; factor?

Circle of Magic - Book 3 - Daja’s Book by Tamora Pierce

I want to like Daja more, and while I certainly don’t dislike her, I’d have to place her at the bottom of the four in interest.  I’m more of a Tris person and I’m attracted to Briar-like characters… so Daja (and also Sandry in some ways?) are harder for me to warm up to.  (ho ho, a fire pun!)  So I sort’ve approached this book as more of a stepping stone to the rest of the books.

I did like getting a better look at how Daja feels and copes with what her life has become.  Like Sandry, she’s learned to wear a public mask to hide her internal struggles.

I was so damn ecstatic when she stood up and showed her worth to the Traders.  Bam!  Very satisfying.  Not only that, but that the self confidence that didn’t depend on the other Traders that she gained?  Booyah.

…And the magic she can do is kind’ve all sorts of amazing. 

Image in my head: the living metal.  It kind’ve creeps me out, but still holds this sort’ve “cool” factor?