jacquelineb: (stark raving sane!)

Macbeth with James McAvoy

So I was worried about the lack of blood on my website? Macbeth is one of the darkest, bloodiest of Shakespeare’s plays, and this production, directed by Jamie Lloyd and performed at the Trafalgar Studios in London, had lots and lots of blood!

Plus, James McAvoy as Macbeth? Wasn’t going to say no to that opportunity when a friend mentioned it on Facebook. And when she managed to get us seats at the back of the stage, virtually on the stage, for the play was going to be in the round, I was even more intrigued. So back in March, we met in London to see the play.

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Mirrored from jacquelinebrocker.esquinx.net.

jacquelineb: (stark raving sane!)

The Book of Dragons by Roger Lancelyn Green, illustrations by Krystyna Turska, Puffin Paperback (1973)

Book of Dragons - Front Cover

Front cover of the Book of Dragons

Roger Lancelyn Green is more famous for his collections, similar to this one, of Greek myths, stories of Ancient Egypt, Robin Hood legends, and Arthurian tales. His work was not part of my childhood, but from what I have read, many children who grew up in the 60s and 70s recall these books with fondness.

I can see why this one perhaps does not have the same level of fame. Bringing together dragon stories and trying to present them with any cohesion is a difficult task. The very act of defining what a dragon is fiendishly complicated (more so with European dragons) and further difficulties arise deciding what stories to leave out because of the plethora of myths. Where does a collector being? By geographical location? By era? By type of myth i.e. similar thematic elements?

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jacquelineb: (conspiracy of cartographers)

Mayday poster

A girl on a bike in a flowing dress, decked in flowers, cycles through town, passing (apart from a troupe of Morris dancers) four men with sinister stares. When the girl, Hattie Sutton, goes missing, her absence from the May Day parade as May Queen conspicuous and troubling, we know one of these four is to blame. The question Mayday asks is which one, and why.

Rather than this being a question for the police, it is one put to four family members of these men – wives, brothers, sons. “You’d know if someone you loved killed someone,” Hattie dark-haired twin sister Caitlin says in the first episode. This is the thematic crux of the show – how much do we know about the people who are, supposedly, closest to us. And indeed, how much do we know about ourselves and what we are capable of when pushed to the edge. The four sets of suspects/suspicious family members all reveal themselves in surprising, shocking ways you did not anticipate from the outset of the show. I really did like this as a concept – a very unusual way of setting up a mystery.

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jacquelineb: (macaroons)

The Complete Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs

I’m not sure how well-known outside of Australia these stories – and art work, especially – are. Even if you didn’t read, or had read to you, the stories of the gumnut babies Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, their friends Ragged Blossom, and Mr Lizard, and those dastardly Banksia men, if you’re Aussie, you know the image of a gumnut baby well. These you can see on the cover here, whose dress and life is based on the gumnuts produced by the eucalyptus tree.

Taking an educated guess, I’d say the illustrator and author of these stories, May Gibbs, was trying to create a kind of Australian fairy in that very Victorian/Edwardian vision of what a fairy was (certainly not the darker Celtic Fae, but rather a kind of sweet creature who hopped from flower to flower). It would be an interesting question to explore – the creation of Australian folklore and tales in the absence of one that immigrant Australia could call its own. How indeed do the gumnut babies sit along side the Aboriginal Australian dreamtime legends and storytelling – not uncomfortably, but Gibbs was certainly, and not surprisingly, employing a more English tradition in her depiction of the Australian bush and Australian nature.

And I think that is good thing. Being blessed with a gift for illustration and wonderful detail (I don’t have a copy of the book on hand but I remember the pictures of both the Australian bush and under water scenes, with clever detail that uses the minutiae of nature in creative ways) though, Gibbs saved it from being merely twee and sweet and gave us something quite beautiful. For me personally, I think it gave a connection back to Australia (as a child, I was brought up in Jakarta) that I think was vital, for it only became a lived experience when was 9.

The stories themselves… I think there was something a little deeper in them than most of the other children’s books I read. There was adventure, but there was emotional connection, and fear, and friendship too. But really, I’d give these to someone just for Gibb’s lovely illustrations. :)

And who else is writing for Nanolomo? Click to find out!

Mirrored from jacquelinebrocker.esquinx.net.

jacquelineb: (lady in green)

I first read Nikki Magennis a few months ago when I picked up Best Erotic Romance (edited by Kristina Wright, see here to purchase). Her story, ‘Dawn Chorus’, which closed that anthology, was one of, if not the, standouts. So when Nikki put a call out for reviews (and a free copy) of her self-published anthology Crooked Hearts, I couldn’t resist.

Crooked Hearts cover

And I wasn’t disappointed. Nikki writes elegantly and poetically, a deep sense of both eroticism and romance, and also just the right amount of the grit of reality that doesn’t revel in it, but acknowledges that it is there and affects the way characters perceive the world.

There are touches of bondage and restraint (a creative, theatrical take in ‘Catch Me If You Can’) and submission to pain, as well as the more overt depictions (‘Under His Hand, I Blossom’ especially, an intoxicating D/s story on a mountain hike), and always, there are deep, intense connections between the characters, bonds forged in only a few sentences. Also present are the deeps aches of want and desire – the opening story ‘At the Break of Day’ especially brings this out, as does ‘St Hunna the Holy Washerwoman’, which also ventures into magical realism without quite crossing into the fantastical.

Erotica it definitely is, but it is not all idealised situations and sex. Characters live in intense relation to each other – the neighbours in ‘Dawn Chorus’, the couple in ‘St Hunna’, even the doctor and waitress in ‘Save Me a Bite’ who encounter each other in a diner. The intensity was only increased by Nikki’s use (for the most part) of first person POV. There is the sex that doesn’t happen, the sex that we want and don’t get, as well as the moments of finding each other. There is also the humour – Dublin-set ‘Picking Apples in Hell’ is particularly funny, and ‘Night Song’, told entirely in dialogue, uses the device to great effect.

I like an anthology that places its stories conscious of the relationship to the others. Crooked Hearts begins with ‘At the Break of Day’ and ends with ‘Dawn Chorus’, which seems very fitting, not only in the time frame of the early hours of the day, but also the desperate need of the first piece contrasted with the deep satisfaction found in the last.

What can I say? I thoroughly recommended Crooked Hearts, and am looking forward to reading more of Nikki’s work.

Crooked Hearts can be purchased at:

Read more about Nikki Magennis and her work at her author website.

Mirrored from jacquelinebrocker.esquinx.net.

jacquelineb: (conspiracy of cartographers)

Pitt Building, University of Cambridge
Back of the Pitt Building, Cambridge, UK. Near where I work.

Unknown Mami

I missed last week’s review – completely exhausted for various reasons and though I planned to do it Monday, other things cropped up. So let’s try for what’s been happening over the past two weeks.

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jacquelineb: (jar lanterns)

9 Songs

I was about 16 when I overheard my mother having a conversation with someone about the US version of Queer As Folk, which had just started airing in Australia late night on (of course, any Aussie will say) SBS. The friend said, not in a condemnatory fashion but more rather surprised, “It’s very confronting.” The thought that ran through my head was: really? What’s so confronting about it? Luckily I didn’t say this out loud, because I realised after my lack of shock at QaF’s more explicit scenes was no doubt due to me being an already seasoned reader of slash fanfiction. (Google it. Ask me about it you’re curious.)

Which probably accounts for my very mild response to the film famous (or infamous, depending on your view of the world) for having the most graphic, unsimulated sex on film outside of pornography, 9 Songs; or at least mild in terms of the sex.

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Mirrored from jacquelinebrocker.esquinx.net.

jacquelineb: (lonely Lawrence)

I recently had an unfortunate fall out with a friend. Well, ex-friend now. I won’t go into too many details, but the blow up was sparked after this person having made a couple of comments that made it clear they did not like that I wrote erotica. In amongst the many things that were said (and there were many, many things said, on both sides), the idea came up that I don’t handle criticism well, and was defensive about the writing that I do because, deep down, I wasn’t sure that I really believed it was ok to be writing erotica.

It got me thinking about the different kinds of criticism that people involved in creative pursuits, if they take them seriously, have to deal with. And, of course, how I handle it.

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jacquelineb: (stark raving sane!)

50 Shades of Grey cover

Reading Remittance Girl’s astute review of 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James, made me set set aside my writing plans for the day to finish reading it and knock something off the ‘currently reading’ pile. [I started the review and then came back and finished a few weeks after.]

I was, of course, curious about it when it came out – being erotica that has has done so well, making sales in ways that much modern erotica aspires to but doesn’t quite manage, it struck me as something that one ‘ought to read’, in the way that any kind of publishing phenomena becomes self-perpetuating in that readers start to read just to see what the fuss is about.

Basic plot (if you’ve somehow missed it): Anastasia Steele, Ana, an English student, is sent by her friend, who is ill and needs a replacement, to interview billionaire industry tycoon Christian Grey. Attraction between them ensues. But Grey has a dark secret – it’s not a spoiler at this stage to say he’s into BDSM, and he wants Ana to become his Submissive, a proposition that she is alternatively aroused and repelled by. Tension results from their trials to negotiate this and from Ana’s attempts to understand what is in Grey’s past that makes him desire ‘such things.’

Rambling thoughts below the cut.

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Mirrored from jacquelinebrocker.esquinx.net.

jacquelineb: (stark raving sane!)

Been a full on week, and mostly dancing related; Tuesday teaching kicked off again, as did the Wednesday night class I go to, followed by a meeting on Thursday and a very late night dem-ing and helping run a ceilidh at a local barracks on Friday.

So today have done little that is productive. Met up with a friend for coffee, and watch Red Road in the morning on LoveFilm instant. Initially had it on my list because Tony Curran is in it (oh man, he’s lovely to look at, and on a fraction less shallow scale, impressed me as Vincent van Gough in Doctor Who and King Stephen in Pillars of the Earth), but came away exceedingly impressed with Kate Dickie’s (who I knew I’d seen before but it took a net search to realise she is Lysa Arryn in Game of Thrones performance, and curious about director Andrea Arnold’s other films. Atmospheric, beautifully made and gripping (and just to show what a one-track mind I have, it also featured a very compelling sex scene, which I suspect one wasn’t meant to find hot, but, well…Tony Curran as I said.)

(Tangentially, I wonder what Arnold was trying to say with the many inclusions of random and not so random shots of dogs – I have my thoughts but that would give away the ending a bit much and it works better not knowing where it’s all going. Update: Interesting review (with spoilers) here that theorises not only on the dogs but the use of other animals in the film.)

But, now for some more sentences.

Continued from here

Brendan reached out to Marc’s shoulder, brushing over his skin, frowning as his fingers found the scratches. “You’re hurt.”

Marc’s eyes fell to Brendan’s fingers on his shoulder. Holding the rifle and the lantern, Marc couldn’t touch him back. He shrugged. “Just scratches.”


Brendan’s gaze shifted up to the night sky. Marc followed it. In their hurry, they hadn’t noticed the moon, not quite full, hanging in a cloudless sky.

Brendan grinned. “Now there’s a thought.”

Continued here

Mirrored from jacquelinebrocker.esquinx.net.

jacquelineb: (Default)

The anthology has been attracting some notice, which is lovely. So far, the following reviews have been posted. Very encouraging!

Review by Kitty StrykerThe desires in “Erotica Apocrypha” are both primal and divine, and they will captivate and enchant you. But beware when the gods come to seduce you… you may not get out alive.

Review by LJ LaBarthe – LJ reviews each story individually, but of mine she writes: I am so glad to see this here. This is Perun and Veles and their ongoing struggle. Beautifully written and very hot.

Mirrored from jacquelinebrocker.esquinx.net.

July 2015

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