C: Welcome back to Not Now, I’m Reading, your one-stop shop for all things genre. My name is Chelsea.
K: And I’m Kay.
C: And today we are kicking off our month of Star Wars extravaganza. Our all-Star Wars December. We are reading Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray. But before we get into that we’re gonna talk about what we’re currently reading and what we’ve just finished up. Kay, why don’t you go first, m’dear?
K: I am reading all of the things. Just, like, all of them.
K: Since the last time we’ve recorded, I looked at my reading log and was legitimately shocked by how much I had read. [Laughs] When did all of this happen? And then I realized it’s cause I’ve been going absolutely bananas with all of my audio reading lately and have read six audiobooks in the last two weeks, I think.
C: Really? Dang, girl.
K: And they were not short books.
K: I don’t know what was going on, I just had audio on nonstop. So I am rereading —
C: Why did you read Under the Dome? [Laughs]
K: — Under the Dome by Stephen King. Which I have not read since it came out eight years ago.
C: I can’t believe you’re rereading Under the Dome.
K: When I read it in hardcover. Guys, it’s not great.
C: It’s not.
K: I’m gonna throw it out there. But guess what? Guess who narrates that audiobook? Chelsea?
C: Who? Is it Wil?
C: Is it Raúl?
K: It’s Raúl.
C: [gasps] Shut up! Shut up, goddammit. Now I have to listen to Under the Dome!
K: And it’s like 34 hours.
C: Now I have to! Goddammit.
K: That was legitimately my exact response.
K: When I was going through my library’s catalog. [Laughs] I was like, well, I liked so much that other book he narrated. Lie. I liked how he narrated it, I didn’t like the book.
K: And there was only, like, four books in the catalog that Raúl Esparza had narrated and so I am listening to Under the Dome. Which is like 35 hours long, guys.
C: The heaviest of put-upon sighs.
K: I just. [Laughs]
C: I do not like that book. I have already read that book, but I. There is a thing inside me that now feels compelled to have to read it.
K: I legitimately remember nothing that happened. And I have not watched the show. So I kind of thought I would read this and then if I liked it at all I would watch the show. Cause I do like some people who were on it. But. I’ve heard it’s middling.
C: It’s okay.
K: But I dunno. I wouldn’t mind having a new show to have on in the background. It’s been a while since I’ve watched anything. And then I also listened, on audio, sorry this is like all white dudes today. [Laughs] Just cause my library’s selection of audio is not the best.
C: Hey, man. That’s just how that works sometimes.
K: It’s just what was available for me to read. I read the entire Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer since last time we recorded. If you’re unfamiliar with those, it’s Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance. And they all came out in one year so it was sort of serialized storytelling stuff, but I think they’re really just all one big book. With alternating points of view. Including freaking, in the last book, one of the alternating sections is in second person. I don’t know how anyone —
C: No thank you.
K: — could possibly read these not in audio. I don’t think I would’ve even finished the first one. The first one’s in first person. The second book is in third person. And then the third book is alternating between, I think it’s third omniscient and second and then third present? I don’t even know. I don’t even know.
C: That’s a lot of alternating.
K: It’s a lot of alternating. It works fine in audio. The narrators are all really good. There’s three narrators for the series. Including Bronson Pinchot? Is that how you say his name? From Perfect Strangers, the sitcom. He narrates the second book and is one of the three narrators on the third book. All the narration is great. It is so surreal. There are literally points where I’ll have been listening for like an hour and I’ll be like I have no idea what the fuck just happened.
K: Was I not paying attention? But no, I was paying attention. They’re just that weird. I gave all of them three stars. I think they’re fine. I think the writing is really gorgeous, but. I don’t wanna say not much happens, because a lot of shit happens. But it feels like nothing is happening as you are reading it. If that makes any sense.
C: Kind of?
K: It’s gonna be really great onscreen if they can pull it off. That’s why I was reading them, because Annihilation comes out, I think, in February. And that’s the movie who has Natalie Portman and Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson on a sci-fi mission. So obviously — and Oscar Isaac is Natalie Portman’s husband. Obviously I am going to that.
C: Yeah, we’re gonna see it.
K: And I wanted to read the books first. I really wouldn’t recommend reading them unless you’re doing the audio, because I think they’re kind of impenetrable.
K: The audio helps. They’re not my favorite. They’re a little literary and weird for me. If you’re into the slightly more literary sci-fi definitely, definitely pick these up cause you will like them.
C: No thank you. That’s not really my jam.
K: And then I had one more terrible white guy book that I listened to on audio because Raúl Esparza narrated it.
K: And my dad had read it, I recognized the author name. It’s Runner by Patrick Lee. And I recognized the author name as someone that my dad reads. My dad reads a shitton of thrillers.
C: Oh, is it like a Grisham-y political thriller kind of thing?
K: It’s actually an, it’s kind of a near-future sci-fi thriller, but you don’t find out until halfway through. Obviously I called it really early cause there’s a telepathy element.
C: Oh, yeah.
K: I hated this book.
K: And its treatment of women so much. And I could tell this was a book my dad had skimmed. Because there were parts of this book where I was like oh my god, my dad would have effed the book out of this book and not finished it. But my dad is a skim-reader. And there’s no way my dad would’ve been like yeah, you should read that, cause no.
K: Basically all the female characters have horrible, horrible abuse backstories or are currently being abused.
C: Oh, is this that book you were tweeting about?
K: Yeah. Where they got telepathic powers because of a defense contractor was experimenting on them and they were female prisoners who only signed on to be medically experimented on because they were all being raped in prison.
C: I don’t like that. That doesn’t sound great
K: Everything is awful. I don’t recommend Runner by Patrick Lee at all. Apparently his other series is better and it’s about some kind of urban fantasy slash sci-fi mission thing. But I, I wouldn’t read anything else by him after reading this one. I just. No thank you. No thanks. So that was a succession of fairly mediocre things by white dudes that I’ve been listening to on audio. And then I have a bunch of really good fics that I read cause I’m gonna share with you cause all that stuff was kinda garbage. First we’ve got Sixpence in His Shoe by scifigrl47. Who you’re probably familiar with if you’ve ever read anything in Marvel fandom. This one [laughs]
C: Oh Lord.
K: Steve and Tony accidently get married after they go to fight Von Doom in Latveria.
C: I remember reading this fic.
K: It’s fantastic. It is novel length, it’s like 104k. It’s long. But it is completed. It is absolutely hysterical. If you are a fan of scifigrl47 or if you are into the tone of a lot of the Marvel fic from around when Avengers fic was really big. It’s a very similar tone, still. I do really recommend that. I also read The New (New) Normal by copperbadge. Who we just blanket recommend.
C: I love copperbadge.
K: Love everything by copperbadge forever and ever amen. Never been led astray by copperbadge fic. I was trying really hard to think if I’ve ever read a fic by him that I didn’t like and I think the answer is no. And this is not normally my thing. Sick fic. That’s more Chelsea’s bag.
C: I love sick fic so much you guys.
K: I don’t understand why you like it so much! [Laughs] But this was adorable.
C: They’re squishies. I just love it. It’s my favorite form of fluff.
K: Sick people aren’t cute, Chelsea, it’s just gross.
C: But the people taking care of sick people are cute, because it’s gross. Do you know how much you have to love somebody to deal with their gross, sick body?
K: Like a lot.
C: That’s what I’m saying!
K: It’s just my particular trope, but this is a very cute fic. These were both written for Stony Trumps Hate 2017, by the way, so thank you people who auctioned. What a good fandom function.
C: Good job, guys.
K: Oh, and if you couldn’t figure out by my rambling, this is a Steve/Tony fic. Where Tony has a thing about germs which in canon is kind of a thing. He’s like don’t hand me things and its cause germs, and Steve thought it was cause he’s just kind of a dick, but there’s a reason for it. His immune system is shit. And I have one more and I know that Chelsea also read this one. Cause I made her read this one. [Laughs]
C: [gasps] I waited, guys. This is one of those ones that was published in chapter updates so I would get the email from AO3 and I would have to be like no. No. No!
C: You have to wait till it’s done. And then it was done! On Thanksgiving. So I read the whole thing in like a day.
K: What a beautiful gift. It’s with a crown of stars by thehoyden. Who is another one of our forever fave authors. It’s a Hannibal fic, it’s Will/Hannibal. It’s wishbabies.
K: I know that we mentioned this on the podcast before, but it’s finally done. If you don’t know what wishbabies are it’s when you literally wish for a baby and it shows up on your porch. [Laughs]
C: I’m making the dorkiest face right now.
K: This fic has everything! It’s got magical realism, it’s got marriage of convenience, it’s got kid fic, it’s got a happy ending. [Laughs] Which, it’s Hannibal, so not guaranteed even with stuff that’s mostly fluffy, but happy ending, yep. Check that box. So it is done. If you were waiting from the last time we talked about this until it was all posted, it’s all posted. You’re welcome.
C: You’re welcome.
K: You’re welcome.
C: is that it?
K: That’s really it that time, I promise. I’ve only been talking for 500 years. [Laughs]
C: Unlike Kay I have still read no books.
C: That’s not true. I’ve not read no books, I’ve just not read very many books. But one of the books I did read I absolutely adored. It is in my top books of 2017 which should surprise no one because it is the newest Cat Sebastian.
K: [laughs] It’s so good!
C: It’s so good! It comes out next week, it comes out on the 12th of December, so a week and a day from this episode. Hop online and preorder it online right now! It’s called It Takes Two to Tumble and it’s the first book in the Seducing the Sedgewicks series. And this book is basically The Sound of Music, but with two dudes and really, really hot sex scenes. And it’s so great! Captain Phillip Dacre has returned home, or his ship has to go into dock for repairs. So he’s returned home to a house of unruly children who are being kind of looked after by Ben Sedgewick, who is the local vicar. And then Phillip shows up and wants to instill order and military rigidity and Ben is just a squishball who wants to love his children.
K: He gets home and they’re literally in the trees. At the moment I was like, well. This is perfect.
C: Okay, surly ship captain. Okay, priest. It’s almost like The Sound of Music. And then they were in the trees and I was like okay. Hold the phone, here. This is a thing we’re doing officially. This is a Sound of Music thing we’re doing. And it’s so good y’all. Cat Sebastian is so fantastic. We’ve read books of hers on the podcast, before. We’ll link to that in the show notes, but this is a wonderful start to a new series that I’m super, super looking forward to.
K: Friends, I gave this five stars. It’s the second romance I gave five stars this year and only the third book period that I gave five stars so it’s great.
C: I’m cheap with my five stars, but it was still super great.
C: And then I’ll go ahead and recommend a couple of fics to you guys. I feel pretty safe assuming that a good portion of the reason that Kay suffered through some of these super mediocre books by white dudes is because they were read by Raúl Esparza. And there’s this thing happening right now with this SVU place that we are living in. So I’m gonna recommend two SVU fics.
K: Feel free to judge us, heavily. [Laughter]
C: You know what? You can judge me all you want. I give no shits.
C: This fandom has given me so much delight in the last month. I don’t even care.
K: I’m glad I drag you into random fandoms and they don’t just make you sad.
C: Me, too!
K: Cause I would feel bad if I dragged you into random fandoms and they did not work for you.
C: To be fair, it probably. I should probably go ahead and say that SVU as a show does not bother me super bad. Cause I have become unfortunately pretty desensitized to violence against women. So it doesn’t trigger me to watch SVU.
K: You watch a lot of procedural TV. It’s just kind of a thing.
C: A lot of procedurals and crime-based TV. While it’s horrible the plot liens don’t keep me up at night, or anything. I can see how you might not be into this fandom if the source material is more difficult for you to watch in larger chunks. But guess what, y’all. This fic is so good. It’s just so good. [Laughs] This is one of those fandoms where, if the quality of the writing is something that will make you nope out super hard as opposed to the emotional development of a relationship, it may not be for you.
K: [snorts] It’s why I’m so ‘why am I tin this fandom??’ [Laughs]
C: Just in general across the fandom. Some are not as well written as others. But I don’t even care, cause the dynamic between Sonny Carisi and Rafael Barba is one I’m here for. The first fic I’m gonna recommend is Decide On Me by AHumanFemale. This is a soulbond AU case fic combo in which there’s been a hostage case that the SVU has had to deal with and it turns out that the hostage taker and the hostage he took are soulbonded which gets into a cool discussion on consent and the legality of consent in a universe where soulbonds exist. But in addition to that, then Sonny and Rafael realize slash become soulbonded and it’s just like. Ah. Guys. Guys.
K: You’re such an angst monster I knew you would love this fic. [Laughs]
C: I am the Hungry, Hungry, Hippos of angst. Shovel it in at the fastest possible ate you can. I believe if you listen to the last episode Kay referred to it obliquely as ‘that trash soulbond au that you’re trash for’ and I corrected her to say it is a thing of glory. I’m still standing by that. It’s amazing. But it is angst monster level, you guys.
K: And it’s long. Pleas mention how long that shit is. [Laughs] It’s like 60k.
C: Um….excuse you, it is only 59k.
K: Oh, pardon me.
C: No, but yeah. It’s real long, guys. Real long. But it’s delicious. And then the other thing I’m gonna recommend is also pretty long. It is…okay, so I knew that I was gonna be super, super into this fic —
C: — when I got to the author notes and it says ‘This is fucking filthy, but it could be worse. I don’t know where it came from. Pleas respect me in the morning.’
C: And I just feel like anything that kind of leads off with that particular road sign is just something I’m gonna be super into. It’s 11,000 words long. It’s called No Shame in Asking by bitelikefire. It is a 5+1. And it is basically five times that Sonny gives Rafael a blowjob and one time that Rafael gives Sonny a blowjob. And you guys. I’ve read this fic like four times.
[Kay laughs hysterically]
C: Since the first time I read it. My hand was possessed and it always keeps clicking to read it in Google Reader.
C: And I don’t mean to and I don’t go in with the intention of doing that, but then my fingers do and then I’m reading it again and I don’t know what’s happening.
[Kay laughs breathlessly]
C: I think I just killed Kay. I think she might actually be dying.
[Kay’s still laughing]
C: I have nothing else to say, you guys.
K: I have no one to blame but myself for any of this.
C: You sent this to me!
K: I did.
C: I didn’t find this one.
K: Here’s the thing, guys. There are times when I will be reading a thing and I will be like I hate this. You know who would love it?
C: Me, it’s always me.
K: Or I’ll be reading a thing and be like you know, the writing in this is not great. But you know who would love it?
K: Because I know where Chelsea lives in her fandom garbage dump.
C: I don’t even care.
K: And I know what she likes.
C: You know what, just call me the fandom trash panda.
C: I will build my house of angst and live in it with so much gladness.
K: I mean, I enable you a lot.
C: You really do.
K: I can’t get mad. Cause I literally send you most of these things.
C: 95% of my bookmarks is shit you’ve sent me and then I go down the rabbit hole.
K: That I would never read again or bookmark. But like. [Laughs]
C: But I read a whole lot. Also I’m a creature of habit, so I’m like why should I read a new thing when I can just reread this?
K: I do also love to reread things. I would not reread the same things that you read, but that’s also fine.
C: That surprises no one.
K: Surprises literally no one.
C: Alright, friends. But that is all that I have been reading. Gonna go ahead and officially introduce the book we’re talking about, Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray. It’s the first book in, is it like a series or is it a group of like prequel novels that’s happening, or is they’re doing a pre-universe thing?
K: They have groupings of the novels that they have whenever they put out a bunch in anticipation of a new movie, but it’s not officially linked to anything in particular. Other than just cause it’s coming out now so the group of stuff coming out with The Last Jedi.
C: That makes sense, cause in parentheses it’s called Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And I’m like that’s cumbersome.
K: Yeah, all the stuff that came out two years ago was like Journey to The Force Awakens, so.
C: Oh, okay.
K: That’s just how they’re categorizing shit
C: That’s fair. So this is a book that is about exactly what it says. Leia, Princess of Alderaan when she’ still princess. She’s sixteen when the book begins.
K: It’s a YA book.
C: It’s a young adult book. It gets really into, kind of, Leia’s personality that rings really true. I really like the way Claudia Gray writes Leia.
K: I like how she writes Leia, but I thought the plotting of this was very clunky.
C: Really? That did not bother me so much, that did not stick out to me.
K: I am super hit or miss with Claudia Gray. I don’t know if we’ve ever talked about this.
C: I don’t think so. Cause you loved Bloodline, right?
C: I haven’t read that one yet.
K: And I’ve read some of her other YA and thought ew.
K: She wrote, it’s called the Firebird trilogy, I think? I hated those. Like haaaated those.
K: To the point where I didn’t even finish books and it’s a trilogy. And you know how I hate to not finish a trilogy.
C: Yeah, damn. That’s saying something.
K: I hated them. And I really love how she writes….I think her dialogue is great. I love how she writes relationships between young people. I think her plotting can be clunky as fuck in all of her young adult stuff I’ve read, though.
C: Was it the split between the politics and the home life stuff, or what do you think it was?
K: No, I think she did really well with that in Bloodline. There’s something about the way that she plots her young adult stuff that just doesn’t work for me
C: That’s fair.
K: I don’t know if she’s trying to make stuff more obvious for a younger audience and goes too far, or what. I don’t know.
C: I could see that.
K: I thought about it really hard and didn’t come up with more than it’s not working for me. It’s not awful. I do love how she writes Leia. But I thought the romantic storyline was really clunky and kind of ham-handed.
C: Just not necessary.
K: I thought the stuff with her parents was a little clunky. All of their arguments are very obvious and very ‘I am an angsty young adult.’
C: And they’re repetitive. By the third time they’re fighting about her parents not telling her things she needed to know?
C: I was like okay. We get that. This is obviously a communication error you guys are having.
K: We got it. We understand. Really you don’t have to do this over and over. I did really enjoy the narration. I think we both did this on audio?
C: Yes, ma’am.
K: It’s narrated by Saskia Maarleveld. And I’m really sorry that I definitely just butchered her name. But I thought the narration was great and, as always, production values are super fantastic on Star Wars audiobooks. They do sound effects and music transitions and it all sounds really good.
C: It’s all great.
K: I don’t know that I would’ve even finished it fi I was just reading it. I gave it three stars and probably a whole star of that was just cause I enjoyed the narration of it. And I still listened to it at three times speed. And if I like the narration I usually listen to it a bit slower than that. [Laughs]
C: I was gonna say. I listened at 2.5 but that’s my default speed, so it doesn’t mean much. I like the idea that the dilemma or issue of wanting to operate and being expected to operate, but also being intentionally withheld from the details? I felt very sympathetic to and thought Claudia Gray did a great job about Leia doing the best she could to operate in a certain set of circumstances she had while knowing she didn’t have all the knowledge she needed. I’m gonna say something spoilery, so go ahead and fast forward for the next minute if that’s going to bother you. I liked the idea that her love interest would’ve ultimately betrayed her. I thought that raised cool conflict between loyalty to the planet and the senate and galaxy on a bigger level. I think that if he hadn’t ended up dying and so it would’ve been interesting to see how that potential relationship could’ve developed. Given that he would’ve ultimately betrayed her for the good of the planet as opposed to the good of the galaxy.
K: Agreed. I thought the amount of time we spent with Moff Tarkin was interesting.
C: Yeah, man.
K: I don’t think I realized in canon that they knew each other quite as well as they apparently do. That adds some new, interesting shades to A New Hope. I thought it was really interesting, I don’t know that we knew this in canon before, that Breha has artificial I think lungs and heart? Or just lungs. She was in an accident when she was like Leia’s age. And we find out that that’s why they adopted, because they didn’t want to put the additional stress of a pregnancy on her. Which, we’ll just not even get into the bizarre pregnancy healthcare situation in the world of Star Wars. [Laughs]
C: We should see if we can track down that article where everything in the franchise would’ve been different if Padme had gotten proper maternity care. Cause. I had not realized until I read it that that was completely true.
K: She had no idea she was having twins?
C: She was just like. It was just her and that one droid. There’s a lot of.
K: A lot of weird.
C: Things that could’ve happened differently.
K: So many things could’ve gone so much better for everyone in Star Wars if some minor thought was put into the healthcare of women.
C: Or just in general.
K: It’s like real life. So.
C: Oh, god. Insert laugh-cry and sob-cry emojis back to back, because.
C: It’s 2017 we’re living in.
C: Can you tell I’m so excited for the calendar to have a different year on it?
K: Not that that’s even going to fucking help anything.
C: Nothing functionally changes. But the general vibe of this whole year I’m just ready to not have to say 2017 ever again in my whole life. Anyway. On that super positive note. Did we have anything else?
K If you are a huge Leia fan I would recommend it. I love Leia so I’m glad I read it and got some more background info on her. Always happy to have new canon info on ladies that I love. But I thought it was just kind of middling. I didn’t think it was great.
C: I think if you’re looking for, like you said, some decent young adult female protagonist SFF this would be a good one to pick up. Even if you’re not super into Star Wars as a whole. I dig it. I miss Carrie Fisher. That’s the other thing I was thinking this whole time.
C: Always and forever.
K: Literally always.
C: Alright friends. That’s about it. That wraps up all our feelings about Leia, Princess of Alderaan and also our first installment of our Star Wars December. We’ll be back next week to do a stats kind of breakdown and to talk about some goals we have for the podcast coming up in the future. We’re also gonna be recommending some Star Wars fics to keep on theme. Then the week after that we’ll be coming back to talk about Phasma by Delilah S Dawson. Do we wanna say that we have a special guest coming?
K: We do have a special guest coming.
C: And it’s gonna be super exciting.
K: Our resident Star Wars expert who is not us. [Laughs]
C: So join us for that. Until next time, you guys can come and find us on the website. On Twitter. You know where to look for us. Take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and I hope you read good things. Bye, guys.
K: [singing to the tune of ‘Everything is Awesome’ from The Lego Movie] Everything is awful! [Laughter]