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soleiltropiques
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My book reviews/critique de livres! :-)

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July 17th, 2020

Given the fact that Yahoo/Geocities, in their infinite wisdom (*choke*, *splutter*, *cough*), have elected to delete all free websites from their webhosting service, I am posting the content of my two websites to my livejournal.

Regarding the recommendations pages, please note the following. If we have an email address for an author, we will post it with the thought that feedback is a nice thing for authors and we like to do what we can to encourage it. If however you see your email listed here and would prefer NOT to have us post it, just drop us a line (soleiltropiques@gmail.com) and we'll remove it. Thank you! (Please feel free to drop us a line if you have anything else you would like us to change with regards to a fic you have written. We simply wish to pay tribute to the fanfiction authors mentioned herein and we would certainly not go against anyone's wishes!)
Coucher de Soleil"s fanfic and Fanfic Favorites (formerly Geocities websites) can be found here...Collapse )

June 13th, 2015

And MORE recs!!!...

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Yep, I had more recs to post.

Fandoms are listed in alphabetical order, as are stories within a particular fandom. Also, for all our recs just go to the topmost post above.

Criminal Minds
-Father's Day, Better Late than Never, and The Friendship Suggestion, by blythechild. Rated PG-13 to NC-17 (Reid/Prentisss). Recommended by Bea.
Spencer Reid had a wife and daughter that he kept from the team for seven years.
NB: More fic by this author can be found here.
-Morally Indefensible, by blythechild. NC-17 (Reid/Hotchner slash). Recommended by Bea.
Author's summary: In this alternate version of present day, Reid is a disgraced, former FBI agent from the White Collar Crime division who has been wrongfully convicted of the brutal murder of his partner, Elle Greenaway. Sent to a federal penitentiary and thrown in amongst other killers, he doesn't expect to survive too long until he catches the attention of a mercurial thief and gang leader named Hotch. Hotch offers Reid protection but he expects much in return, and ropes Reid into a paranoid plan to oust the prison warden. The more Reid sees of Hotch, the less he trusts him, and the more he realizes that his life is no longer his to control. Who do you trust when everyone is out for themselves, and how far will you go to ensure your own survival?
NB: More fic by this author can be found here.
-One Cup, No Waiting, by blythechild. PG/G (Reid/Prentiss). Recommended by Bea.
An alternate take on how Spencer Reid and Emily Prentiss could have met.
NB: More fic by this author can be found here.
-Outward in the Same Direction, part 1, part 2, part 3, by dialectheart. NC-17 (Prentiss/Reid). Recommended by Bea.
Author's summary: It's an oddly quiet, sweet thing that shouldn't work but does, and she tries not to analyse it any further than the fact that he makes her happier than she's been in years.
NB: More fic by this author can be found on their livejournal.

Hunger Games (The)
-Twenty Four Victors, Twenty Four Tributes: Meet Your Quarter Quell Contestants, by aimmyarrowshigh. NC-17 (please note this is quite a DARK fic). Recommended by Bea.
Who were the twenty four Quarter Quell contestants? What were their stories?
Bea's comments: This is another fic that is so believable that you would think it was written by the author of the original novels.
NB: More fic by this author can be found here.

Star Trek: reboot universe (i.e. 2009 movie universe)
-Coming Home, by awarrington. NC-17 (Kirk/Spock slash). Recommended by Bea.
Author's summary: Set a few months into their first mission, the Enterprise is ordered to pick up a Vulcan Healer and transport him to the new colony. Once there they are sheduled to remain and assist with the early stages of setting up the colony. Kirk's liaison is his 'old friend' Ambassador Spock, now known as Elder Sepak, who takes the opportunity to help Kirk and Spock get better acquainted.
NB: More fic by this author can be found at their livejournal as well as here and here.
-Eyes Like an Impossible Storm, by waldorph. Rated PG/G (a tiny bit of Kirk/Spock). Recommended by Bea.
James T. Kirk's complicated relationship with his mother.
NB: More fic by this author can be found here.

Star Trek: Voyager
-Twisted, by Scott Martin. PG-13. Recommended by Bea.
Bea: Basically, a hilarious parody of this TV show. It had me ROTFL.

May 25th, 2015

A list of new fanfic recommendations -fandoms are in alphabetical order, as are fics within fandoms.

PS: ANY FORMATTING PROBLEMS HEREIN ARE A RESULT OF LIVEJOURNAL'S EDITOR SCREWING WITH WHAT SHOULD BE SIMPLE HTML CODE.

Criminal Minds

*How to Fight Loneliness, by MadLori (madlorific). R/NC-17 (Emily Prentiss/Spencer Reid). Recommended by Bea.
Author's summary: Spencer Reid and Emily Prentiss have been married for about a year when an old friend pulls the team into a case in Dallas, Texas that will test their mettle and put them through the wringer.

Bea's comments: Truly lovely fic - I wasn't sure about seeing these two characters being married and still working at the BAU together, but this author actually makes it WORK. All of the characters are spot on.

*Mistaken, by blythechild. NC-17 (Prentiss/Reid). Recommended by Bea.
Author's summary: Everyone has assumptions about Spencer Reid. It's all anyone has because he's notoriously hard to categorize. Prentiss decides to delve deeper but isn't prepared for the confusing character that she discovers benear his twitches and quiks - it's almost as if he's two different people. Since all of her assumptions appear to be wrong, it's hard to trust her instincts, especially when her instincts tell her that she's becoming fascinated by someone who may be incapable of becoming fascinated in return.
Bea's comments: Another really lovely fic. Lovely and humorous and faithful to the characters all at the same time.
NB: More of blythechild's fic can be found here
.

Divergent

*Three Parts Dead, by lolableu. NC-17 (Tris Pryor/Four). Recommended by Bea.
Deals with post-Insurgent events and Tris' fear of intimacy.
NB: More fic by this author can be found here.


Hunger Games (The)

*Their Last Night of Love: A Special Verity Presentation, Exclusively for Preferred Customers, by Yahtzee. NC-17 (Katniss Everdeen/Peeta Mellark). Recommended by Bea.
Author summary: Amid the media circus of the Quarter Quell, Katniss and Peeta try to create something real.
NB: More fic by Yahtzee is recced in these pages (see BtVS and Angel the Series sections, in particular) and can also be found here.

Pride and Prejudice
*Happenstance, by Abby B. Rated R/NC-17ish (Darcy/Elizabeth). Recommended by Bea.
Bea's summary: Based on the book as well as, apparently, the 1995 miniseries, this fic diverges from the novel when a rumour begins whereupon Mr. Darcy is said to have compromised Elizabeth. (Of course no such thing has happened, but was merely a misunderstanding arising from them being seen together.)

Star Trek (crossover between ST:TNG and Voyager)
*Passing Ships, by Ym. PG/G (crossover with ST:Voyager, with a tiny bit of Janeway/Chakotay).Recommended by Bea.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard's friendship with two generations of Janeway admirals. NB: More fic by this author can be found here.

Star Trek: Reboot Universe (i.e. 2009 movie universe)

*Lunch and Other Obscenities, by rheanna27. PG-13 (a tiny bit of Uhura/Spock). Recommended by Bea. Author's summary: Nyota liked her roommate just fine until she met her. Bea:Gaila was Uhura's Orion roommate in the first reboot universe film. NB: More fic by this author can be found recced on this page (see the Battlestar Galactica and the BtVS/Angel the series sections), and is also here.

*Still Life, by garryowen/dogpoet. NC-17 (Kirk/Spock slash).Recommmended by Bea. Author's summary: Traumatized by his experience on Tarsus IV, Jim Kirk runs away to Vulcan to undergo kolinahr. Bea: This is a reboot universe AU. Tarsus IV has not been mentioned in the reboot universe, but was briefly dealt with in the original Star Trek series: see here for more information on this (in the event you're as clueless as I was, LOL). NB: More fic by this author can be found here.

Star Trek: Voyager

*Realm of Hope (The), by Mizvoy. PG-13 (Janeway/Chakotay). Recommended by Bea. Author's summary: Kathryn Janeway's life experiences have taught her to give up hope for her personal dreams. That's when a friend steps in to help her see that the future can be the realm of hope. NB: More fic by this author can be found here.

*Road Less Traveled (The), by elem. NC-17 (Janeway/Chakotay). Recommended by Bea. After going through the Borg transwarp hub (which in the final season of the TV show is what leads them home) this fic diverges by having events take a different path.

Supernatural

*Twist and Shout, by gabriel and standbyme. NC-17 (Dean/Castiel slash). Recommended by Bea. Authors' summary: What begins as a transforming love between Dean Winchester and Castiel Novak in the summer of 1965 quickly derails into something far more tumultuous when Dean is drafted in the Vietnam War. Though the two both voice their relationship is one where saying goodbye is never a real truth, their story becomes fraught with the tragedy of circumstance. In an era where homosexuality was especially vulnerable, Twist and Shout is the story of the love transcending time, returning over and over in its many forms, as faithful as the sea. Bea's comments: It is true that this majorly AU fic is not entirely faithful to the characters (a criticism I mention because I've seen many discuss this fic online). It is however a *beautiful* love story and entirely worth reading, IMHO. NB: More fic by these authors can be found here and here.

March 24th, 2015

Now, thankfully TV doesn't always inspire in me the level of RAGE that the most recent episode of NBC's medical drama, 'The Night Shift' inspired in me last night (March 23rd, 2015, episode titled: 'Don't Shift Where You Eat'). 'Cause otherwise I'd needing serious therapy. (PS: This discussion can be followed even if you have never seen the show -please do weigh if you wish to since this post is more about the portrayal of women in popular culture in general than any one specific show.)

A brief summary of the episode in question is here.

To summarize though, here is a brief summary of the plot point I am referring to.

Essentially, a female intern (i.e. young physician in training) has been 'hooking up' (term used during the episode in question) with a young male nurse. During the episode we are treated to the growing attraction between the aforementioned female intern and a male surgeon who has supervised said female intern on many occasions. As for the young male nurse, he was initially shown to be quite content as a nurse (i.e. rather than wanting to become a physician) yet another (male) character suggests that he seems unhappy and needs to figure out what is bothering him (my read of this scene was that this 'unhappiness' may refer to not having a more committed relationship OR it may refer to his 'only' being a nurse). Someone (male) during the episode asks someone else whether they have ever seen a successful relationship between a MALE nurse and a FEMALE physician. The episode ends with our young male nurse being witness to a passionate kiss between the young woman he has been seeing and the previously mentioned surgeon.

Question: Why did this make me so angry?

The answer: The answer lies in the power dynamics accepted in heterosexual romantic relationships. In other words this episode crystallized something for me which had been niggling at me when I watched other TV shows, namely that partnerships between equals are (sometimes!) popularly accepted, as are partnerships where an imbalance exists but the balance of power lies in the hand of the MAN (always accepted!). Yet to depict a relationship where the imbalance favors the WOMAN seems anathema.

In other words, still think we live in a 'post sexism' world? Why then is it impossible to have a sensitive and realistic portrayal of a relationship between a male nurse and a female intern (or fully-fledged physician, for that matter) on a show like 'The Night Shift'?

Furthermore, why then was it apparently impossible for the producers and writers of Star Trek: Voyager (see also here for more info on this show) to give Captain Kathryn Janeway a long-term relationship (a potential partner who was hinted at early in the show was actually her first (and male) first officer)? Instead, the male first officer was paired with a female character whose hierarchical status was lower than his. "It is very possible that the J/C romance wasn't developed because it made the male producers and writers uncomfortable. At the end of the series, in a move which was essentially the antithesis of fanfic, Chakotay [(i.e. the aforementioned first officer)] is paired with the younger, larger breasted, lower-ranked Seven." (Excerpt is from the article, Somogyi V. Complexity of desire: Janeway/Chakotay Fan Fiction. Journal of American & Comparative Cultures 2002; vol. 25 (issues 3-4): pp.399-404.)

Finally, why are there so many problematic aspects to the relationship between Claire and Jamie Fraser in 'The Outlander' book series written by Diana Gabaldon (and apparently also in the associated Starz television series)? To recap: the relationship starts with a certain power imbalance, partly due to the fact that Claire is slightly older and more experienced than Jamie is about certain aspects of life (in particular, about sex and relationships). Claire is also (at this point anyways) depicted as a very strong woman who knows her own mind. She is also considerably more educated than Jamie (she is in fact a twentieth century nurse in the 1740s!), at the time these two characters marry. In other words, at this point the power imbalance is in Claire's favour. In relatively short order however, Claire 'misbehaves' (such details aren't entirely germane to the discussion at hand, but for those who care, she runs away to try to return to her time but of course cannot explain this to anyone, including her new husband) and is 'punished' by her new husband by being beaten "within an inch of her life" (!!). Days later, Jamie further enforces a changed power dynamic by raping Claire. (For further details on how problematic this show and the books are, go to my previous post here.)

Misogyny forges on.

PS: My use of the expression "'only' a nurse" in the text above uses quotes around the word 'only' because I am referring to the apparent attitude of the characters in show regarding nurses. This in NO WAY reflects my personal feelings towards the wonderful and courageous people who work as nurses all over the world. (NOT an easy job!)

October 23rd, 2014

I admit it, I'm a *huge* fan of the 'Outlander' series which is now in its first season on Starz (airs on Showcase in Canada), LOL.

The TV series is based on the book series written by author Diana Gabaldon, of which I read the first two books or so a few years ago before losing interest. I'll openly admit that I prefer the TV show's take on the material -for some reason I find it more romantic, despite the fact that they're being pretty faithful to the books. Odd of me perhaps, but there it is.

Something that has been niggling at me lately was how the series would handle certain issues.

Issue #1 or domestic violence perpetrated by the so-called 'romantic hero': there is a scene where Jamie BEATS his wife. Quoting from a blog called 'Persephone Magazine' which says it very well:

"When she ditches the Scottish clan she’s hanging out with to get back to the magic stones that worked as a portal, she gets herself and the Scotsmen into some trouble. Jamie Fraser, the new husband she didn’t ask for, and who unfortunately the reader has probably fallen for by that point, decides he has to punish her for this.

Claire says he can’t beat her. Jamie says, “Did I want to break your arm, or feed ye naught but bread and water, or lock ye in a closet for days–and think ye don’t tempt me, either–I could do that…”

You’re swooning, aren’t you? I’ll give you a moment.

She says she’ll scream, he basically says, “Ha, ha, you sure will,” and he reaches for a belt. When Claire accuses him of being a sadist, he thinks that’s funny, too. “I said I would have to punish you. I did not say I wasna going to enjoy it.” This ends with Claire, as she describes it, “Half smothered in the greasy quilts with a knee in my back, being beaten within an inch of my life.”"
(I'd also encourage all and sundry to read the full post at Persephone Magazine, as I heartily agree with their comments on this.)

Surely I can't be the only one who is really disturbed by all this, as well as by the fact that some readers AND NOW SEVERAL VIEWERS AS WELL are defending this.

SAY WHAT???

Issue #2 or rape perpetrated by same so-called 'romantic hero': In a later scene, Jamie RAPES Claire. Yep.

Quoting from another blog:

"Claire and Jaime get into an argument.  Unable to comprehend or accept Claire’s autonomy, Jaime responds with sexual violence, stating that she is his woman and he’ll have her whenever he damn pleases.  And then he rapes her.  Brutally.  As Gabaldon takes you through the graphic rape, I get the feeling that I’m supposed to be turned on.  But instead my feminist insides were raging in a putrid turmoil.  I felt sick.

The next morning the couple wakes up cute and happy.  Apparently it had been some great sex, despite the pain, bleeding, and bruises.  Then Jaime wants to have sex again, and Claire responds “No way, I’m way too sore.”  His response? Too bad. And then he rapes her again.  But he is gentler than usual, so apparently, it’s okay.  And after all this violence and rape, Claire finally realizes that she loves him. So much so that presented with the chance to return to her own time (spoiler alert) she chooses to stay with Jaime, her lover, her protector, and her rapist.  WTF?"  (Again, the full post is here and is definitely worth reading -it discusses how this book/TV series is basically yet another example of rape culture. Here is another discussion of this, also really worth reading.)

I was, until recently, wondering what Starz' take on this problematic material would be. Especially given the fact that Ronal Moore is at the helm of the series and I was a HUGE fan of the recent incarnation of Battlestar Galactica.

Now that I have an answer as to how the TV series will handle this, I'm really rethinking my decision to follow this series. Here is the answer (SPOILERS for episode #9 of the series are ahead), from Ms. Gabaldon herself:

"So, for example, in the book, there’s a scene where Jamie beats Claire, right, in the first Outlander book?

DG: Well, he doesn’t exactly beat her. He’s not punching her in the mouth or throwing her against the wall. He spanks her with his sword belt because she did something incredibly dangerous and nearly got them all killed. This was basically what the Highland justice was like. If you screwed up, you got punished for it, and then you were back in the good graces of the clan. That’s what he’s doing; it’s his duty as her husband basically to correct her, set her on the right path, and mind you, she doesn’t like it because she’s a twentieth-century woman. She’s very affronted that he’s hurting her.

But do you think that will be portrayed in the TV show the same way it was in the book?

DG: I know it will. I’ve seen it."

And Ms. Gabaldon's further comments on people's objections:

"What sort of reaction do you think that that will get from viewers?

DG: There will undoubtedly be a certain amount of knee-jerk feminism from very young women. Anybody over the age of thirty-five will appreciate both the cultural conflict in that scene—it’s one of my favorite scenes, in fact, because each person in it is completely right according to his or her own view of the situation, and yet, in this untenable situation, they aren’t both going to get their way. When push comes to shove, he outweighs her by eighty pounds. Most people, as I say, above a certain age will appreciate it for the inherent ironies and also for the considerable humor in the situation." (This is quoted from here. You can also see parts of the interview here.)

I am just raging right now, about the 'knee-jerk feminism' comment, as well as the fact that she also minimizes what the beating for one thing, by referring to it as a 'spanking'. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not comfortable with labeling a scene where a woman gets beaten 'within an inch of her life' with a belt in this way, as 'spanking' is a term rather reminiscent of consensual bedplay, for example.

For the record, I am not a 'very young woman'. Neither am I given, I think, to 'knee-jerk feminism'. To wit, the fact that I am going to reserve final judgement until I watch the show's take on this. (I already know that I agree with those commenting on the problematic nature of the books' take on it.)

Anyone else bothered by this? Anyone? (NB: Note my 'quixotic' humor choice below, since evidently with regards to mass media and popular culture thinks this is all A-OK, apparently.)

But what am I talking about, OF COURSE people think this is fine and dandy! 'Fifty Shades of Grey' was the #1 bestselling book of 2012. Silly me!

October 7th, 2014

Want to see someone (a mod, no less) make incomprehensible arguments (which they never took the time to clarify further afterwards, I noted) in response to what I meant as a legitimate comment?

As a side note, apparently the meaning of 'derailing' has gotten pretty large/broad with regards to this group. Because it is apparently derailing to ask a question which directly relates to a post. (The derailing comment was never clarified either, such that I'm starting to wonder whether I was the one derailing the conversation, to be honest.)

But here is the link, so you (i.e. assuming anyone reads this little journal) can make your own mind.

I think I'm starting to realize why ontd_political seems to be going down the tubes lately.

ETA: In a related note, I won't be posting there again. It just isn't worth it if this is the level of response one can expect.

September 19th, 2014

There certainly isn't a dearth of these to choose from.

So far I've done the following:

(1) Kevin Sorbo

(2) Charlize Theron

(3) Mark Wahlberg

(4) music legend James Brown

(5) Eric Clapton

(6) Motley Crue's lead singer Vince Neil

(7) Sean Penn

(8) Donald Trump

See the post here. Yikes.

September 10th, 2014

On being poor

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As a person with limited financial means (things have REALLY been tight lately, in particular), here are some thoughts.

(1) ALL wages should be indexed to the cost of living (or be subject to regular increase in some other way). Otherwise, you are essentially getting a very gradual yet inexorable downgrade in your wages, which may well impact your standard of living and indeed your ability to live your life.

...Well, perhaps I would exclude the wages of Hollywood sports stars (as well as some others), who can negotiate pay issues quite well on their own, than you very much.

(2) Minimum wage is not only necessary, IT SHOULD ALSO BE INDEXED TO THE COST OF LIVING.

This SHOULD be a no-brainer, yet it seems to be regularly disputed throughout the world.

Go figure.

(3) The services sector is the largest sector of the world's economy. As such (i.e. it represented almots two thirds of the world's GDP in the 1990s), it is UNACCEPTABLE that such a large proportion of lower-rung workers in this sector be paid 'minimum wages' which differ substantially from that accepted as the minimum for everyone else.

This brings me to sub-point 3.1: The concept of TIPPING should either be abolished or tipping (or receiving tips) should be considered an occasional luxury, rather than a portion of an employee's salary.

This, again, should be a no-brainer, yet it is also disputed. (For instance, the province of Quebec, Canada, has a minimum wage of 10.90$/hour yet has a separate minimum wage of 8.90$/hour for employees receiving tips).

(4) Inflation is measured in many countries using the Consumer Price Index or CPI (link is to Canada's version). This index "(...) is obtained by comparing, over time, the cost of a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. Since the basket contains goods and services of unchanging or equivalent quantity and quality, the index reflects only pure price change".

This index has been criticized (see also here), with good reason, IMHO.

One interesting note is that the prices for certain items have fluctuated more than those for other types of items. For instance, food prices have reportedly far outstripped all other items with regards to price increases/inflation. Another note is that in many cases producers have maintained the same price for a portion size (e.g. a package of cheese) while reducing the actual package size as an alternative price increase tactic. (See for example here.)

The point is that we need a control of prices for essential items such as food and medicine. One reason being that if your salary is indexed to the CPI you could still have difficulty buying food if it increases at a disproportionate rate with regards to other items.

This, again, seems like a no-brainer. Go figure.

More to come soon, because I have a lot of thoughts on this.

September 5th, 2014

Our dog Felix (Félix) passed away yesterday. We got her in 1999 when she was 9 months old, so she was almost 16 years old (a venerable age for a doggie).

We'll miss you, Félix.

6035_600

August 21st, 2014

Here are some examples of some current or former celebrities who showcase the fact that Hollywood is still a 1) white, 2) male, 3) straight, 4) cis, 5) ableist, 6) (I should
probably add Christian here) -dominated and bigoted environment. (The same goes for the music world, clearly, as well as several other places, ugh.)

So far I have deets on Kevin Sorbo, Charlize Theron, Mark Wahlberg, music legend James Brown, Eric Clapton, Motley Crue's lead singer Vince Neil, Sean Penn, and
Donald Trump.

Click to read more if you dare...Collapse )
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