Christmas cocoa

A miscellaneous collection of things

- My fandom stocking is up! I love Fandom Stocking so much; it's such a delightful, no-pressure fest. (And they're still taking signups, if you're interested!) I've been having so much trouble writing lately that this is clearly not going to be one of those years when I try to put something in the stocking of everyone I know, but since I haven't really been doing holiday fic exchanges the last few years, this is where most of my fic-gifting efforts take place.


- Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith is really fun, especially if you're more into the community-building aspect of post-apocalypse scenarios than the destruction aspects (which I am). There's a large ensemble cast and an overall hopeful, "most people are basically good at heart" vibe. One of the things I liked about the book is that for the most part, even the really unpleasant people in the group (the bigots, the snobs) are still fundamentally decent and willing to come through in a crisis; it's not a case of ~everyone who doesn't get along with the main characters is EEEEEVIL~, which I really appreciated. There's also a general sense that, while the book (being YA) is primarily focused on the teenagers, the adults have a really interesting backstory that I want to know more about! I'm looking forward to the sequel.

- Dresden Files: War Cry - Graphic novel which came in my Amazon order yesterday, and turned out to be an unexpected delight because I somehow missed that it's written by Jim Butcher and is therefore actual canon (it takes place between Dead Beat and Proven Guilty). And as well as featuring the Wardens, so we get to see the comics versions of Luccio and Ramirez, it's FULL OF THOMAS. Thomas and Harry snarking at each other, saving each other's lives, etc ... in case that's, you know, an enticement for anyone. :> You get quite a lot of Thomas's POV in this, too, which is something that's lacking in the novels since they're all in Harry's viewpoint. The cover art for War Cry #5 (the graphic novel is a collection of 5 single issues) is also Relevant To My Interests. Sadly this is not an actual scene from the comic. But it is still nifty.

In general I kinda can't get over how much Butcher obviously loves writing Harry and Thomas, and how fanficcy his side stories with those two tend to be. (Still not over the birthday story. NEVER OVER THE BIRTHDAY STORY.) War Cry also includes a scene where [spoiler]Harry is mind-controlled into attacking Thomas, who employs the Steve Rogers Solution(TM): don't fight back, he'll stop on his own when he realizes he's hurting you! Luckily, Harry being Harry, it works. (And also confirms a longstanding headcanon of mine that Thomas would literally rather die than hurt Harry.)[/end spoiler]

Something I was also thinking about, Dresden Files-related, is that the part of the series from approximately Blood Rites to just before Turn Coat is where my heart is anchored in that series. I don't know if it's just because that was the general time period when I started reading so I imprinted on it, and it's not that there haven't been plenty of things I've enjoyed in the books since then, but that's "my" Dresden Files, and it was really nice to have another story from that era.

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Thank you for reminding me about fandom stocking!! I meant to check that out yesterday and completely forgot *facepalm* All signed up now! Just need to check what's been posted so far and see if anything catches my interest! *goes to check sholio's stocking*
I usually get reminded of it only when my flist starts talking about it! :D I can't follow the comm because you get inundated with a deluge of stockings if you do. It's so much fun, though. (And must be such an amazing amount of work for the mod(s). I'm so impressed they do it every year!)
...I just read your so carefully blocked out spoilers and now I must have this comic, omg. Also that cover art is quite nice, is that what the internal art looks like as well? I question whether any visual representation of Thomas can be accurate (incubus, come on!) but if the artist is giving it a good try...

(dangit, I'm going to be rereading that scene from Cold Days now! It's been like...a whole month since I last did that :P)
.... now I need to reread that scene too. :D I wasn't really thinking about Dresden Files at all until I read this book and now I've suddenly fallen into a pile of what I can only call FEELS. XD (The best part is, this whole book is totally canon!)

The interior artist is not the same, and the results are ... mmmmm. It's definitely better than the art in the early book-adaptation GNs, which I hated; this is pretty decent and certainly not bad enough to ruin the book for me. But it's also very comic-booky, and the artist has some annoying visual tics like drawing women in that characteristic comic-book "hips flung back and butt outthrust" post, or making people's limbs bend in weird ways. Some of the Thomas pages are really nice and some make me go "uh", and none of them quite nails what Thomas looks like in my head. You can see some of the interior art if you go back to that page I linked to with the cover (scroll down for it, or click on the cover art and then keep clicking through).
Gnine just read it and yeah, she liked the story but was of the opinion Thomas didn't look anything like Thomas. But I'm still looking forward to reading it - yay for more canon! ...and inevitably rereading some of the books as well. Oh the feels indeed! The thing is, I love a lot about Dresden Files, it's a fun series, neat world building, I love a lot of the characters - I really enjoyed Skin Game even if it had almost no Thomas or Molly. But Thomas & Harry are what hit me in the fannish place - they're the only parts I really reread (and there's a couple bits I reread a lot...) They're one of my favorite fictional brothers in anything, (which for me is saying something!) - their dynamic is just so perfect, how they tease and fight and love each other unconditionally. They're not codependent, but they're always there for each other, and just, awww! (It helps that Thomas is not only Harry's brother but also his PI partner - not specifically, but he's definitely the closest fit to the partner role found in most PI novels. And I always love those relationships, too, so...)
Yessss, there are many characters in Dresden Files that I love, but Thomas and Harry are absolutely where my fannish love of the series is primarily invested. Off the top of my head, I can't come up with a sibling pair I love more (which doesn't preclude that others may exist, but I'm drawing a blank atm ...!). They are characterized in a way that just seems to push down every button I have: they're prickly and damaged, they squabble all the time, but they absolutely ADORE each other and have no inhibitions whatsoever about admitting it, telling each other they love each other and so forth. And they fight together perfectly, anticipating each other's moves and doing whatever it takes to make sure the other is safe.

(... I may have read that Cold Days reunion scene more than once in the last day or two ...)
There are a few brother pairs I love at least as much (the Kaiba brothers, the Elrics, Thor & Loki), but they've got such different dynamics I can't pick favorites. Thomas and Harry are probably my favorite adult brothers with a functional relationship. I love how they're so different in a lot of superficial ways and so alike in the most important ones, especially in how they both feel about love and family.

(and in terms of family, probably the scene I am MOST dying for is whenever Ebenezer finds out that Thomas is also his grandson. That's gonna to be...interesting, I'm sure.)

"My brother is dead. You know how I know? Because if he were alive, he would've gotten in touch with me!" aaaaah I love how absolutely furious Thomas is when he thinks Harry is an intruder mocking his brother, and then how furious he is when he finds out Harry is really Harry, and why he died. And then he hugs the stuffing out of him. More perfect returned-from-presumed-dead could not be asked for :D

ETA: aaaaand now I'm getting out all my Dresden Files books with Thomas in them. Which is practically the whole series whoops...

Edited at 2014-12-12 08:41 am (UTC)
Yeah, that scene was absolutely EVERYTHING I wanted from a Harry-is-back-from-the-dead/reconciling-post-Turn-Coat scene. :D It totally lived up to expectation, even though Butcher made us wait for, what, 3 books for it?!

(Another brilliant touch in that scene was the inclusion of empath!Molly, because Thomas is so locked down with his intense emotions, and he's having SO MANY EMOTIONS about Harry that Molly can't even stay in the same room with him. Beautiful. XD)

But yeah, hugging the stuffing out of Harry while insulting him until he runs out of breath is pretty much the world's best thing, and EXACTLY how a presumed-dead reunion between those two should go down. :D

I still haven't given up on Thomas as the eventual wielder of Amoracchius, the Sword of Love, either. He can't touch it as a vampire, but it's so symbolically perfect for him; few characters in the series (besides Harry) are as deeply motivated by love as Thomas is.

and in terms of family, probably the scene I am MOST dying for is whenever Ebenezer finds out that Thomas is also his grandson. That's gonna to be...interesting, I'm sure.

ohhhhh man, I forgot we are still waiting for this! omfg. XDDDD This is going to be amazing. (Have we seen Ebenezer at all in the last few books ...?)

I would also like to point out that, after me nattering about it for the last two days, Orion has now started a full reread of the series beginning with Storm Front. :D (I reread it myself a couple of years ago, I think around the time Ghost Story came out .... and this is a rewarding series to reread, because it's so evident that, even though the first couple of books are much thinner than the later ones, Butcher had a great deal of the main arc-plot planned out from the very beginning ...)

Edited at 2014-12-12 08:59 am (UTC)
Oh, I love the idea of Thomas wielding Amoracchius - I'm really not sure that's where that's going, but it's a brilliant idea regardless! Thomas ridding himself of his Demon does seem to be a possibility for his fate. (it has the right amount of bittersweet, if doing so makes him mortal, and so Harry will outlive him. Though I'm actually thinking the series might just go for the super-happi endo anyway, I get the feeling Butcher tends in that direction, what with his lack of killing almost anybody...) And as you say, Thomas's whole story is all about love, so...

...I have to admit, I really love Thomas/Justine, and Justine in general...which I kind of feel like I shouldn't, there's some problematic stuff there I'm sure, in how Justine lives so much just for Thomas, and the dubcon-ness of incubi...but ahhh they're so bravely and stupidly devoted to each other, it pushes my buttons.

I've never done a full reread - the number of books at this point, gah - but I might someday, I think it'd be worth it! For the length of the series it's impressively coherent - especially since the early books do feel like episodic adventures, but they build the universe well enough that when the epic story gets going, it doesn't feel like a complete overturn, but like shifting gears while still staying in the car you've come to love.
Thomas/Justine ... I knowwwww, I love them too; they're probably my only real ship for this series. I found on the reread that I actually enjoy Harry/Karrin, which I'd been really iffy on before, but I still wouldn't call them a hardcore ship for me. Thomas/Justine is, though, as troublesome as the ship can be. ...Though I also get the impression that Butcher kind of knows it and we get a lopsided view of the ship because we only ever see it through Harry's eyes, who is basically just seeing it via Thomas. Have you read the short story with Marcone and Justine, where she is basically doing her own badass stuff with the lake goblins and runs her con game on Marcone? IT'S GREAT. And she's got way more agency in the short story than she tends to get in the series proper.

... though I absolutely hate the "fix" that they've currently found to the "can't touch each other" problem; I guess it's not the world's worst thing, but I do think it's less of a happy solution than the author apparently thinks. :P

One of the things about Butcher as a writer is that, while I am certainly not gonna say he doesn't have his biases/problems, he is REALLY DAMN GOOD at POV, which means that running everything through Harry's POV means you get a view of the whole world that is biased according to Harry's biases. Someone once told me that Butcher's fantasy series doesn't have much at all of the "describing all the female characters according to their physical beauty" thing that the Dresden Files series does a lot, which means that's a Harry thing, not a Butcher thing. And while Justine's story is certainly not without its ickiness, I also feel like there is a ton of Justine agency, especially regarding Justine/Thomas, that we never get because we only see when she's interacting with Thomas in Harry's presence.

ohhhh god, I so hope you are right about the happy ending. I think you're basically right that Butcher gets attached to his characters and doesn't like to kill them. In fact, I think a big part of what makes the series as much fun as it is, is the amount of love he has for the characters (which comes through very strongly in the writing). I just desperately hope that the series will end in a place that won't BREAK MY HEART INTO A MILLION PIECES.
That's a good point about Butcher's POV, and Harry's biases biasing the story! I have to give Butcher credit, while on the one hand there is some sexism in how Harry relates to women (which Harry is aware of, which helps) and Butcher does love his femme fatales...he also does write really awesome female characters. Not only does he have a ton of them, but I love a lot of them, and as much as I love the guys, which is not true of a lot of series. Molly is my favorite character along with Thomas, Lara and Mab are maybe my favorite...villains?...antagonists?...of the series. And then there's Justine, and Lash, and Murphy of course. The only female characters I consistently don't care for as much are Harry's love interests (even Murphy falls to this a little...though like you I might enjoy them more on a reread?) which really I'm not sure why, but oh well.

Out of curiosity, what do you hate about Justine's current solution to her and Thomas's situation? It amuses me (but I am rather fond of committed open relationships, so...) (Though how long can Justine feed Thomas for, is that limited, or if she's careful she can keep it up indefinitely...?) But yeah, they're probably my only real ship for the series as well (I really loved Murphy/Kincaid, but I knew that wasn't a permanent thing. And I confess to shipping Harry/Molly in a bad-idea-now-but-someday-could-really-work way...)

And I am so hoping Butcher is too attached to his characters to kill any of them. I'm a little worried that when he's reaching the series' end and won't be able to write them any more anyway, he might off a few, but...yes please no heartbreak, I love this series too much and don't want it ruined for rereading!

Yeah, the women are great, and I think that's what makes it obvious that any slight bias is actually Harry's biases shading the narration -- though I also don't think Harry's as much of a chauvinist as some readers seem to think he is; or I guess I should say, I know quite a few people who were turned off by that aspect of the narration, and my reaction is "... really? It seems awfully mild to me!" Mostly I just think it's due to being inside his head and therefore getting his honest, unvarnished reactions to everything. (Not that someone wouldn't be perfectly justified in being turned off by it; I'm just not that bothered, in general ...)

But yeah, ha, talking about love interests, I think Susan and Elaine are the only female characters I haven't really clicked with -- Elaine in particular; here again, I found her much more tolerable on the reread, but I remember my reaction to her introduction was definitely that I wished she'd stayed in backstory territory because I liked her a whole lot better as Harry's idealized "one that got away". She never seemed to emerge as a full-fledged person; I felt like even after she'd been in a couple of books, she STILL doesn't seem like much more than Harry's idealized ex-girlfriend.

Out of curiosity, what do you hate about Justine's current solution to her and Thomas's situation? It amuses me (but I am rather fond of committed open relationships, so...)

You know, now that I'm thinking about it, I'm having trouble putting my finger on why it bothered me so much at the time (and, thinking about it, I'm not entirely sure if it still bothers me). I guess it kind of feels like a ... narrative cheat, or something, because it's so simple at its basic level; the only thing that would not make it work is the emotions involved, but I guess I have trouble wrapping my mind around the idea that the emotions would actually work out. On the other hand, thinking of it as a poly relationship -- or, well, a consensually open relationship -- actually does help. I guess I'm also wondering how much damage this is doing to Justine and her random bed partners. But yeah, I absolutely love Thomas/Justine as a couple; like you, they're basically my one true ship for the series, even though there's a part of me that thinks I shouldn't ship them as much as I do, considering that if you really think about it, the whole thing is basically "woman falls in love with her rapist", augh. >_> But I do ship them madly, and I think it's difficult to argue that it isn't 100% consensual in all ways now, and has been for a really long time. (I also find it kind of adorable/amusing how healthy they actually are as a couple, considering how healthy they really SHOULDN'T be, but they truly are. I think you could actually make an argument for the two of them being even more solid than the series' other big established couple, Michael/Charity, considering that Charity is STILL -- unless I'm forgetting something -- lying to Michael about her magic and there's the ongoing tension about his "job", whereas Thomas and Justine seem to have all their cards on the table with each other and love each other wholeheartedly despite having intimate knowledge of each others' flaws ....)

And yeah, as Molly establishes herself as an adult, I kinda feel like the Harry/Molly potential is moving out of dirtybadwrong into "might actually work someday". Give them another 10 years and they might really have something -- in fact, this is just now occurring to me, but while I've been assuming all along that Harry/Murphy was endgame for the series .... that's not necessarily the case. It might actually go Harry/Molly instead! (Though I definitely think it's going to be one of those two ... well, assuming all the principles survive. AUGH.)

Re: killing chars off - I know! He really does seem to be deeply invested in his characters, though -- it's obvious, especially, with all the side stories, that he spends a lot of time thinking about what they're up to between books -- and so far he has yet to kill any of the core characters, so there is hope ...
Elaine had the cards stacked against her, for me - it's really rare for me to like those long-lost 'one that got away' girlfriends. (Don't ask me about the latest Locke Lamora book >.>) I think it's mainly because those characters are pretty much always romance first, and a sort of romance I don't really go for. My favorite romances are either those which sneak up on me and I'm not expecting them to happen at all, or established couple situations in which they're already together when we meet them (and then they're more relationship than romance.) Also I'm very iffy on pining (I like certain specific situations, but most unrequited romance in fiction makes me grit my teeth.)

Thomas/Justine works for me so well partly because it is established - and they are functional, as you say, we see how well they work together. I think that also alleviates some of the potentially skeevier aspects, since we don't actually know the details of how they got together (I don't think? unless I'm forgetting them...which I might be, I definitely don't have a good memory for long series. Like, I had no idea Michael didn't know about Charity's magic, I just assumed that had come out a while back? ^^;) Anyway, with Thomas and Justine, it could have been non- or dub-con at the beginning...but it might not have been? Given Justine's mental health issues she might have sought him out deliberately. I'm sort of happier not knowing there, tbh. Though the unusual nature of an incubus does mitigate a lot for me (I admit, I'm not nearly as disturbed by magic-induced impelled sex as maybe I should be, because it's something so completely fictional...)

As far as Thomas and Justine's current situation goes - ahhh that's something I've been wondering, what the exact nature of it is! As I was seeing it, the damage is to Justine; I don't think Thomas feeds on Justine's partners? My interpretation of what was going on is that Justine has sex with her partner of the night, removing the true-love issue; then she feeds Thomas, getting the true-love protection back, so then she has sex with another partner, etc etc. I'm not actually sure that's what's happening, but as I recall Thomas references Justine's playmates, not his, so...? In which case, yeah, I see it as a consensual open relationship. Though my impression is that it is a temporary solution, and they're hoping to improve it somehow.

I'm wondering if endgame is Harry/Murphy with Harry/Molly implied in the future, after Murphy is gone, since Harry as it stands is likely going to outlive her by a couple centuries...assuming the principles survive, yes, aaaaagh I don't want to think about that alternative!

Also War Cry came in today's mail, eeee it's fun, and also, two page spread devoted to Thomas musing on his backstory with Harry, awww! (having just reread those scenes in the books, the artist clearly was reading them as well, I may not agree with all his interpretations but I admire his attention to detail!)
Oh yay, you got it! \o/ Yeah, ditto on the "not necessarily my interpretation" on some of the scenes, but yeah, so much fun to see them, including Thomas's Buffy shirt and being the World's Worst Roommate. XD

I absolutely love how much of Thomas's narration in War Cry is basically Thomas contemplating how much he adores Harry. They're so cuuuuuuute~~!
How do people submit their wishlists to fandom_stockings? Is it like a private message? I'm curious because I've never done it for fear that I wouldn't be able to give something back if I did submit a wishlist, but it seems like it's a no-obligation thing.
Just go to the signup link and follow the instructions to post a comment. Basically, there is a template you copy, fill in your information and requests, and then post as a comment to the signup post. The mods will post your stocking for you, keep the comments screened, and then unscreen them in early January so you can see what you got. :) And yeah, there is no obligation to create any fills, as far as I know.

Edited at 2014-12-10 09:58 pm (UTC)
Now I must find War Cry I love Thomas and Harry snarking. I really missed Thomas in the last Dresden novel
I was really surprised at how much I loved this! I think I had somehow missed that it's an official installment of canon, like the short stories, rather than a tie-in sort of thing. And I wasn't expecting so much Thomas, and so much great stuff with both of them. :)
. . . I should probably find myself a copy of that graphic novel, I think.
I really enjoyed it! :) It felt like getting another book to me, albeit a short one.
Still not over the birthday story. NEVER OVER THE BIRTHDAY STORY.)

I'm so not curious. Nope, absolutely not.

(In which part is that? *makes pupy eyes*
The birthday story is actually a short story -- in addition to the main Dresden Files books, he's also written a bunch of short stories in the universe, and this is one of them. It's called "It's My Birthday, Too", and it's in this collection (which includes stories with spoilers up to "Changes").