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29 December 2012 @ 11:59 pm
HD Holidays 2012 Recs 1  
Before we get to the matter of this post, Vale Tony Greig, and WOO! Sir Wiggo!

Now. The age of miracles is not past: I have NOTHING to write that must be written right now. Admittedly I have loads that I ought to be cracking on with, but in the spirit of the holidays, I am reading fanfic instead. Hurrah! And so, some recs from the current hd_holidays. Where I have so far managed to read about 7% of posts … Oh well. Still, recs!

Take a Chance, Make a Change for stellamoon is just under 24,000 words of Harry the sore-backed Healer and Draco Malfoy, real estate agent trying to find Potter a house big enough to fit a comfortable bed. That they might both have designs on what goes on in that bed would surely have been easier to notice if Harry wasn't so exhausted and Draco so shy.

The author has a real lightness and surety of touch that made this a swift and enjoyable read. Friends and work situations are deftly drawn and although there is a comfortable familiarity about many of the settings, there are also moments of delicious originality, my favourite being:
"He was, however, a fan of the crisp notes bearing their Queen's head. Draco currently had a handful of them tucked neatly inside his wallet, much lighter than a pouch full of coins. In fact, so strong was his approval that he had been lobbying both Gringotts and the Ministry for quite some time for Galleon notes at the very least. If for no other reason than the fact a pocketful of weighty coins did nothing for the line of a good suit."

Department of Mysteries for amorette is a beautiful series of art panels with text. I was lucky enough to beta this piece, and it was a joy! From the opening images of a coolly interested Draco and a wary Harry, it's a compelling ride along with the two of them as they attempt to sort out things that have gone very wrong in the Department of Mysteries. The original material on the Ministry and magic is utterly convincing, and very clever, sketched out with shirt prose pieces that link the images. But it's the images that will stay with you: I am tempted to say boots! and patronuses! but then I would have to say longing! despair! kindness! action! and it would all come down to They're All My Favourites, as it may well for you.

Here's the Pencil, Make it Work for fireflavored sits at just-under 50,000 words, but the writing is so smooth and assured that it feels like nowhere near this length. To say that this is the most competently written story on my list sounds as though I am damning with faint praise in this age of arch commentary, but I mean that at face value: there is a lilt and flow to every aspect of this story that comes with skill on the part of the author.

The story itself is simple enough: Harry is worn out from the expectations of the media and has taken to prowling Muggle London, er, which is to say, walking around to familiarise himself with Muggle London. When he one day enters a new coffee shop, it comes as a great surprise to find Draco Malfoy behind the counter:
"Malfoy is working. He is wearing a nametag and a smock. He is counting muggle money and making various drinks with practised ease, and chatting to his obviously muggle co-worker like they do it all the time. He is flirting with the customers, most prominently with the old lady who comes in shortly after Harry sits down. He is humming along and even dancing a bit to the muggle music on the radio, swaying and mouthing the words as he pumps flavoured syrup into someone's latte like a normal, chipper fucking person.

What the fuck."

I will confess that I had my old pouf issues with the word smock, which means something very different for me, however, this added to the comedy on several occasions. Let us not speak of flavoured coffee: you people who would defend it know that you secretly want a milkshake. Philistines! And don't tell me it's popular: 50 Shades of Grey!

Back to the story, the central relationship is rounded out by a marvellous cast of canon and OC friends, who enrich our view of events and characters, with real depth and humanity. It's the perfect story for a bitterly cold or oppressively hot December or January day, when you just want to settle in.

Heart Music for icmezzo is a short piece of animation where Harry the Healer (clearly the new black) can hear music that no-one else can as he wanders around the children's wards of St Mungo's. Lovely soft watercolours that remind me of the colours of leochi, though with more (yet tasteful!) nudity at the end. It's a very pretty, gentle piece, with the scene of Harry and Luna in the garden and – I know you will be shocked to hear this – the nudes at the end the two standout images for me.

Manticoria for ashiiblack will probably be the longest fic of the fest at 70,000 words, but it's worth the effort. I know that traditionally one is meant to say only lovely things about fest fics, so you can call me honest, a rebel or a bitch when I say that this is a flawed fic. I have to say that upfront, because you will notice things as soon as you start to read that might make you stop, and that would be a tremendous shame, because its flaws don't matter half as much as its successes, and indeed, some add to them. Set after the war, there is no time to rest because the wards that protect wizarding Britain from Muggle view are falling. With the New Ministry at a loss, the students whose seventh year was interrupted by the war are called back to Hogwarts and divided into teams then set to work on parts of the problem in a bid to see if they can solve the problem that has defeated the older generation. Because it worked last time …

The level of imaginative effort that has gone into this story is immense and sustained. Much of it is anchored in original ideas of wandlore that are complex and compelling. Harry has had dreams ever since he won Draco's wand, and he is not alone. But personal feelings must be pushed aside as they battle against seemingly insurmountable difficulties and an increasingly desperate deadline. There is a broad cast brought in to play here and all move in and out of the action as characters rather than as plot devices – in itself a great achievement – as the impossibility of succeeding in time becomes more apparent and more terrifying.

As to the flaws, most are byproducts of trying to write a big story in a small period of time: literal errors, shifts in the scope of some parts of the story, sections that could do with expansion or added clarity – especially the politics … Some are a matter of taste: having the Celtic pantheon suddenly invoked at every turn irritated me hugely, but that's probably because I spent too much of my childhood on communes listening to women named Storm telling me how you had to wait for the Elder tree to give you its wood for a wand and then being sent off to gather herbs for their 'spells' while they made cow eyes at my father. That I kept reading regardless is a testimony to the main parts of the story being strong and vital.
lee: xmas- fanficsnegurochka_lee on December 29th, 2012 01:24 pm (UTC)
Ahhhh, thank you for these! I've only read one, and am so far behind I didn't know where to start. Also, your reviews are awesome. :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 30th, 2012 01:24 am (UTC)
I'm hugely far behind, too! I started at one end, and then did some reading at the other end, and now I am sort of skimming merrily and will have to go back and look at the whole fest properly at some point!

Cheers dears, so are yours!
oakstone730oakstone730 on December 29th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
Lovely rec list. This has been an amazing month of reading and your first three recs are among my favorite. I am giving Maniticoria another try, on your recommendation. I'd stopped reading it after the first few hundred words but decided to push through as you say and there are a lot of good things about this story.

Total aside, because I forgot to comment about your puppy vs bicycle story. I still have that image of the poor little backpeddling puppy in my head and it makes me smile every time I think of it.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 30th, 2012 01:29 am (UTC)
Yeah, Manticoria was one of those ones that I was tempted to go 'Meh, stuff it' about early on, and I'm glad I didn't! Despite its issues, it was a jolly good read!

Oh, that puppy! It's still making us laugh. Mr B and I keep impersonating its 'Ohdearohdearohdear!' expression and movements. It was so sweet!
(Deleted comment)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 30th, 2012 01:21 am (UTC)

You will shortly be in luck! It's been hard to write anything about Australian politics this year, because it has become so outrageous that it satirises itself. But an end-of-year round-up is underway!

And I have been putting off commenting until I have time to go back and read through them properly, but I have loved your last posts: the photography is beautiful and you sound as though you are having some wonderful experiences!

Happy New Year!
Meredythmeredyth_13 on December 29th, 2012 05:52 pm (UTC)
I'll never forget how friendly and cheerful Tony Greig was at early morning rugby matches when my brother's school was playing his son's. It's sad that his family have lost him so early. :(
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 30th, 2012 01:23 am (UTC)
It's so very sad! Though on the other hand, I watched my grandfather due of lung cancer and it was brutal, so it may be that this saved him suffering. Still: remission and another 20 years would have been a far better option! It reaffirms my atheism when I look at things like this and then realise that Dick Cheney is still kicking on.
Nennenenne on December 29th, 2012 06:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the recs.

The Heart Music is really lovely, I couldn't agree more. :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 30th, 2012 01:30 am (UTC)
It has such a nice feeling about it, which I know sounds silly, but it and the Pencil story both had the feeling of being created by very kind people.
Bubba: Amnestyabsynthedrinker on December 29th, 2012 08:37 pm (UTC)

Thought this might amuse and interest you.

Happy New Year!

blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 30th, 2012 01:36 am (UTC)
Oh they are so wrong! They make my Grand Nationals look like trainers! But brilliant commentary, nonetheless!

I refuse to wear stilettos because they are so terrible for the body. I own mad platforms and the Grand Nationals, which make you walk on demipointe, but they all distribute weight well and just require concentration, rather than damaging your feet with each step.

I remember when I first started to wear heels and three inches was a daring height, with plenty of beautiful shoes available at one or two inches. Now they start at four for most labels and young women cannot run after bagsnatchers. Madness!
Bubba: Mal's Topabsynthedrinker on December 30th, 2012 01:46 am (UTC)

Speaking of Fluevogs, I just bought a pair for my "ass-kicking" BF for Christmas. He now looks like a cross between a Biker, a Nazi, and a Viscount! But with just the right jeans and just enough Hermes cologne to be noticed, he's what's for dinner!


blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 30th, 2012 01:55 am (UTC)
Those are perfection! Well done, you!
bk7brokemybrain: Rickman OMGbk7brokemybrain on December 31st, 2012 02:26 am (UTC)
OH PLEASE TELL ME WHERE TO GET THOSE BOOTS!!! And do they come in wide? I've seriously been trying to find one boot that covers many moods and these are dressy enough yet tough enough to handle their role. Seriously, they are perfect for me. Plz plz plz tell me what they are.
thank you.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 31st, 2012 07:21 am (UTC)
They are Fluevog Montagu boots: http://www.fluevog.com/code/?w=attribute%3AUnisex&pp=2&view=detail&p=16&colourID=2429

See if you can find somewhere to try them on. I have wide feet and some Fluevogs are brilliant on my, while others are less good. These look to be at the good end.
bk7brokemybrainbk7brokemybrain on December 31st, 2012 03:46 am (UTC)
Found the link! Thank you for introducing me to this company!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 31st, 2012 07:23 am (UTC)
Too slow! But hurrah! They make great shoes and even I can walk in their heels (after shattering my right foot, this is definitely not a given!)
Bubba: Amnestyabsynthedrinker on December 31st, 2012 01:32 pm (UTC)
Sorry, LJ was down at my end and all attempts to get you the link failed. I am glad to see that you have found it. The BF has been wearing them since he received them and says it will be another week before they are completely broken in. He paraded about the house in the things all day yesterday in nothing more than boxers and a Rolex. Thanks goodness he has to work today or I would surely kill him.

bk7brokemybrain: facepalm Alan Daviesbk7brokemybrain on December 31st, 2012 02:31 pm (UTC)
Boxers and a Rolex?? I wish we were on IJ, i have much more appropriate icons for that image, lol.
Thank you! I read some of the reviews of the boots. I have wide feet and muscular calves. I'm not sure if they would fit my legs. Did he order a size up or down? Most ppl were ordering a size down. IDEK....

Oh, and Brampton, ty for the recs!

Happy New Year!
uminohikariuminohikari on December 30th, 2012 05:55 am (UTC)
Out of curiosity, what does smock mean to you?? Google is not turning up anything.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 30th, 2012 06:32 am (UTC)

or this:

or this:

But I think the author meant more like an apron. Certainly I have never seen anyone in a coffee shop wearing any of the above!

Edited at 2012-12-30 06:34 am (UTC)
uminohikariuminohikari on December 30th, 2012 07:06 am (UTC)
Aha, yeah, I've only ever seen smock used to mean apron! Or rather, it brings to mind the things we'd put over our clothes as small children when we fingerpainted...
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 30th, 2012 08:13 am (UTC)
We had awesome smocks like the middle image for painting. I confess that I have pulled some linen out of my stash and plan to make myself a lovely new Artist's Smock for 2013, to go with my new easel :-)
ashindkashindk on December 30th, 2012 08:02 am (UTC)
To me, smock means the embroidery on the first picture, so I was confused too. My grandmother had aprons with smock on them, but the aprons themselves were never called smocks, they were aprons. Smock was just decoration.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 30th, 2012 08:12 am (UTC)
Yeah, as a verb, I am used to it meaning the decoration, too. But I have owned and worn all of the above! (Totally imagining Draco in the third, mind you! ;-) And now I feel like doing some embroidery, if only there weren't so much knitting to finish!)