muccamukk: Girl sitting on a forest floor, reading a book and surrounded by towers of more books. (Books: So Many Books)
Missed this last week because I was too embarrassed to admit that I was still plodding through the 1812 book.

What I Just Finished Reading
Penric’s Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner
Another enjoyable outing, though the plot of this one didn't grab me as much as the first two. I enjoyed the new PoV character and liked meeting her and her family, and watching their relationship with Penric and Des grow. Penric is frankly getting a little over powered at this point. There doesn't really seem to be much he can't do, as long as he can figure it out. Still, I love Des, and the stories continue to be light and funny.


Terror in the Starboard Seat by Dave McIntosh
(Memoirs of an RCAF Mosquito navigator in WWII, who very much wanted to survive the war and go home, while his Jewish-American pilot wanted to kill as many Nazis as he possibly could.)

Highly entertaining, which makes the tragic parts even more of a punch. Both the author and his pilot never seem to miss a chance to tell a joke at each other's (and their own) expense. For all that McIntosh played up the battle to stay out of the line of fire while his pilot put them in it, they seemed to work pretty well together. The accounts of base life and interactions with the other pilots and the English were probably the funniest parts.


Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann, narrated by Christopher Lane
This ended up being something of a guilty pleasure. The style is way over the top and pulpy that I expected it to have been written in the early '50s, but that in itself circled back around to being charming despite itself. I don't know enough about the period to claim authorial bias one way or another, but all the characters were well introduced and easy to follow. Likewise I have no idea if the mystery solution is plausible, but the case was well made. I need to read more silent-era Hollywood books.


Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812 by James Laxer
It certainly a decent outline of the war, and I appreciated that it had more focus on the native American storyline than a lot of books do. However since both the title characters died very early in the war, it somewhat floundered for a theme in the latter third. (It eventually settled on minimizing American accomplishments, in a charmingly chippy way.)


The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass
Still 100% soapy nonsense, still pretty fun, still needs more lesbians. Got pretty melodramatic at the end there. I don't see why love triangles never seem to end in threesomes.


What I'm Reading Now
Library: A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder by Ma-Nee Chacaby with Mary Louisa Plummer. Um. Yeah. HOLY FUCK THIS WOMAN'S CHILDHOOD.
Audio: The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien. It's read by Chris Lee, which is pretty much all you need to know.

What I'm Reading Next
Probably a book about North Korea from the library. Not sure on audiobook.
muccamukk: Gregory Peck looks up from the book he's reading. (Books: Hello Reading)
What I Just Finished Reading
The Keys of the Kingdom by A.J. Cronin
So I totally read it because of the movie, and I probably enjoyed the movie better, but the book still had the gentle charm and humour, as well as a little more criticism of the Church. It also had Francis Being Right a bit more, which was less enjoyable. The section with his curacies in Scotland was probably my favourite.


An Extraordinary Union (The Loyal League #1) by Alyssa Cole, narrated by Karen Chilton
I was really excited about this book going in; it seemed like all the things I liked in one place. Romance, spies, the US Civil War! Huzzah!

Unfortunately it sort of managed the Civil War part and the fubbed both the spies and the romance. For me, an adventure romance novel has to balance the plot and the sexual tension so that they work together. This was way to heavy on the romance side, and kept hammering on about how the characters thought constantly of each other, and didn't spend nearly enough time on spying. The supposed superspies manage to meet twice and not exchange any useful spy stuff whatsoever! Also, the hero's contribution to the spying was to do basically nothing useful for the entire book. If he hadn't been there at all, the heroine would not only have done the spy thing, she'd probably have done it better. Both characters should have been really interesting, but the plot failed them.

The writing was really heavy handed. Part of his mission was to charm another woman, so every scene the other woman is in (and she's a total shrew!), he constantly thinks how he doesn't really like her and he wants to be with the heroine. Yes. We know. You told us the first 500 times! You don't constantly have to reassure the reader of something for them to know it. I felt like I was getting spoonfed a lot of the motivation. Also false rape aligation as a major plot point. Delightful.

The book concluded by getting a key fact of the Civil War almost completely wrong. Won't bother with the next one, despite the cliffhanger set up.


What I'm Reading Now
Library: Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812 by James Laxer, which I'm about 2/3rds of the way through, both title characters now dead, rest of the book summary of war?

What I'm Reading Next
For audio, might give Updraft by Fran Wilde a go. Library: A two-spirit journey: the autobiography of a lesbian Ojibwa-Cree elder by Ma-Nee Chacaby with Mary Louisa Plummer


Icon is from Nenya's Gregory Peck Black & White Icon Post.

I posted to [community profile] fanifesto: Ship Manifesto: Misty Knight/Colleen Wing (Marvel Comics)
muccamukk: Sam Wilson and Redwing (Marvel: Falcons)
What I Just Finished Reading
My Mother's Wars by Lillian Faderman, narrated by Suzanne Toren
Pretty brutal, but also a fascinating look at pre-WWII NYC and the Jewish community there. It's meant as a memoriam to the author's mother and her family, most of whom died in Latvia in the Shoah, and it's written very effectively and emotionally. I'm sure there are more comprehensive looks at that period, but this was certainly the most evocative that I've read.

(No, seriously I was not expecting graphic depictions of Holocaust in this book. I knew her extended family died, but this was on page. I'd be interested to read the follow up about Faderman's own youth, which she wrote about fifteen years before this one.)


The Elite (The Selection, #2) by Kiera Cass
Is this series good? Not really, no. Is it moderately addictive popcorn fluff? You bet! Would it be improved by adding lesbians? Wouldn't everything?


Penric and the Shaman (World of the Five Gods #1.6) by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner
Just as enjoyable as the first one. I liked watching Pen having grown into his skills and his role and his more settled relationship with Des. He's filled out a bit, but is still the character we first met. I liked the mystery and the road trip plot, for which the alternating PoV worked really well. It's been long enough since I read Hallowed Hunt that I don't remember how all that went, but the story stood well without too many background details. Looking forward to the next one.


What I'm Reading Now
Library: Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812 by James Laxer, which I'm about half way through. Brock is about to get it, which means Tecumseh is also about to get it not long after, and the latter half will be sans title characters.


What I'm Reading Next
Maybe the next Penric novella, or the Civil War one for audio. Probably the next Selection one for reading.
muccamukk: Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson walking arm in arm. Text: "We strolled about together." (SH: Strolling)
I buzzed through the Guns of Navarone the book yesterday (skimming for dialogue and slashy introspection, mostly skiping the fight scenes) and it was regrettablely not as enjoyable as the movie. I mostly just don't like that style of adventure novel, and found the dialogue quite clunky. Interestingly Mallory was more openly emotional, and he and Andrea were quite a bit closer and more overtly slashy (though the I'll likely kill you in the morning plot was gone). All two of the female characters weren't there. The two-three other slash ships weren't shippy at all.

So like I mostly want fic for the movie, and there's exactly zero. [personal profile] giglet did a couple movie/book fusion things, which I liked, but there is no straight up movie fic where say Andrea finds Mallory after the war or we find out what happens to Roy. Boo.

I tried to make Nenya watch Going My Way, but she demanded Gregory Peck and would not accept Bing Crosby as a substitute. Which is fair, I guess.

Really pretty day today, so I mowed the lawns for the first time. Nice to see the sun.
muccamukk: Lt Bush salutes ironically. (HH: Salute)
What I Just Finished Reading
Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie (Great Discoveries Series) by Barbara Goldsmith
This series seems to be short summaries of people's achievements, but even given that I really liked this book. It didn't have room to get very technical or go into great detail on any given era, but was well written, interesting and didn't idolise its subject.


The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution by Deborah E. Harkness, narrated by Kate Reading
This is going to be one of those books that makes me annoyed at a lot of other books. I've read a fair bit about the scientific revolution, and this is all completely new to me to the extent that I'm now irritated at all the other books I've read for not including any of it.

It's a wonderful exploration of scientific culture in the late 16th-century, including pushes to increase mathematical literacy for national economic development, collecting-comparing-publishing findings from experiments, in fights over priority and credit, and government support of large-scale scientific projects, mostly focusing on how individual practitioners fit into all this. The idea that this was all going on, and that Francis Bacon (who the author dislikes!) was more or less whining because he didn't get to be in charge of it and gentlemen shouldn't get their hands dirty doing actual work, was frankly a little mind blowing.

Really good, very enjoyably read by Kate Reading, would recommend.


Desire Wears Diamonds (Jaded Gentleman #6) by Renee Bernard
So I haven't read anything else in this series, but clearly stumbled on the best one anyway. The author sets up the intro pretty well, and then I just spent the whole book drawing hearts around Michael and Grace, so who cares about the big arc plot (other than Michael is angst about it! Oh noes!) Michael just wants to atone by dying for his friends! But then he might have to die for his wife! And he can't do both at once! It's a challenge! Grace just wants a room of one's own.

I'm not sure if I'll back read, since idk if Michael will be in them enough, and I wasn't as invested in any of the others. Will keep an eye out for Bernard stuff though.


Four Wars of 1812 by D. Peter Macleod
I think this must have made a very fine museum exhibit, but in terms of trying to get a handle on the war, it just didn't have enough information in it. The art and pictures from the display were very interesting though, and I always appreciate an O'Brian reference.

(Speaking of [as the book also mentioned Forester], just watched Captain Horatio Hornblower, RN with Nenya, since I'd seen it ten years ago, and she hadn't at all. To conclude: "Ioan Gruffudd grew up to be Gregory Peck. Bush got less gay and slightly less hot. But it works amazingly well in continuity.")


Tropical Tiger Spy (Shifting Sands Resort #1) by Zoe Chant
Fun read. It was a bit slow to start, but once the action plot kicked off, I really enjoyed it. I liked how resourceful Amber was, though Tony's agency should seriously hire her, because she's way better at spy stuff. The action (and the "action") was very well written. Could have used a little more angst.

Tropical Wounded Wolf (Shifting Sands Resort #2) by Zoe Chant
Oh there we go. THAT one is angsty enough. Enjoyed it even more than the first one (because angst!), though the plot itself was a little slower. However, I appreciate trapped in peril plots, and both characters were very likeable. I'm curious what's going on with the resort though, so I hope Zoe writes more of these. Oh and the gazelle. Really great setting for a series.

(I was saying to Nenya, having just read Diamonds and Wounded Wolf back to back, is that the fantasy with heroes with massive self-esteem issues doesn't seem to be that you'll find someone who will tell you you're good, but that someone will tell you you're good, and you'll believe them.)


Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the Seventeenth-Century Mediterranean by Adrian Tinniswood, narrated by Clive Chafer
Okay, look, I came into this researching English relations with pirates in the 1600s, which is what this book is about, and had the information I needed, and the Anglo-centrism STILL annoyed the crap out of me. I know that the author's area of study is England, but 100% of his sources are English, and he appears to have put zero effort into finding contemporary sources from any of the actual pirates or people who lived near them (unless they happened to be English), or anyone other than the odd note from the Venetian Ambassador to London , which leaves this book MASSIVELY one sided.

There's a lot of acknowledgement that okay, yeah, the English perspective is happening here, and that's not the whole story, and pointing out how the English were wrong about things, but very little quotes from primary sources from any other country. And we're talking Ottoman Empire here, so it's not like this stuff doesn't exist, they LOVED records.

So a lot of the information was interest, but the whole book was incredibly frustrating.


What I'm Reading Now
Audio: My Mother's Wars by Lillian Faderman about Faderman's mom living in NYC in the '20s to '40s. It's very engaging so far, though I just started it.

Library: Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812 by James Laxer, which I'm about 100 pages into and the war hasn't started yet. It's well written but also super depressing because genocide.


What I'm Reading Next
I have the next Selection book as a library e-book, so I'll probably buzz through that. I'm not sure for audio. Maybe that new romance novel about US Civil War spies.
muccamukk: text 'Writers expressed themselves with cymbals' with a picture of a set of cymbals (Books: Writing)
What I Just Finished Reading
Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr., narrated by Ron Butler
Coming from the standpoint of knowing basically zero about any of this, I thought this book was a really good place to start. It laid out the social and political background, how the movement formed and why, the main players and their backgrounds and what happened from there.

It was a little bit repetitive, and the timeline zigzagged a bit, but mostly it read very well.

I would like to read some individual stories by Panthers, as this book was meant to be more academic, and I feel like there's a lot of voice and emotion left out.


Watership Down by Richard Adams
Third time I've read this, but first in a few years, but I remember so much of it so vividly from when Dad read it to use when we were young. It is very difficult to talk about a book as deeply foundational as this one. I noticed more character details this time, how the stories built on each other, how the chapter quotes tied in. Still in love with it, still get teary at the end.


The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass
Hard one to rate. One one hand, was it good? No. The world building is meant for people who thought the Hunger Games was too deeply considered and realistic, the obvious love triangle is obvious and all plot twists were predictable from page one.

However, I've gotta say that I needed to buzz through a book like this for pure soap to reset my brain, and it does exactly what it says on the tin entirely competently. I'll probably read the next two, while I'm at it.


The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher
So this is pretty much a creepy Nordic mythology retelling of Snow Queen except with lesbians. I was a fan. It was also really funny, and the characters felt well built and real. I loved all the talking creatures.


A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World by Robert Bringhurst
Absolutely fascinating and probably better read more slowly or more times than I did. As the traditions are so absolutely different than literature I'm familiar with, I had a hard time getting a lot of them as clearly as Bringhurst wanted me to, I think. What I did get was slightly dizzying in scope, and I feel like I'll need to go back to it.

Bringhurst was also selling his point hard that he was talking about proper art, which was more or less preaching to the choir, but I suppose it did someone good. I should like to hear it spoken, as pronunciation guides elude me.


The Lost Child of Lychford (Lychford #2) by Paul Cornell
Very enjoyable, more so even than the first one. I liked tying in the bedevilment of Christmas rush for the vicar with actual bedevilment, and how the women are starting to work together as a team. It could have been a little too direct, but let each woman have their own beliefs and ways of thinking about and using magic. I'd be happy to read more of tor.com wants to publish them.


What I'm Reading Now
From the library: Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie by Barbara Goldsmith, which I just started, but is interesting so far. I'm curious how much it will include that I hadn't hit on the Curie research binge I did for that LoT fic.
Audio: The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution by Deborah E. Harkness, which I'm almost done, and was absolutely fascinating.


What I'm Reading Next
Probably finish up a few audiobooks I left hanging, then work through the library stack (in order of dueness):
Hot pterodactyl boyfriend by Alan Cumyn
Four wars of 1812 by D. Peter MacLeod with the Canadian War Museum 1812 team
Tecumseh & Brock: the War of 1812 by James Laxer
The theatre of the world: alchemy, astrology and magic in Renaissance Prague by Peter Marshall.
A two-spirit journey: the autobiography of a lesbian Ojibwa-Cree elder by Ma-Nee Chacaby with Mary Louisa Plummer
muccamukk: Marcus looking unimpressed. Text: "do tell" (Elementary: Do Tell)
What I Just Finished Reading
Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear: Russia's War with Japan by Richard M. Connaughton
Aahahaha. I finished it! It took me a month, but I read the whole thing.

The topic was actually quite interesting, but the author was vastly more interested in the minutia of troop movements than I ever will be. (I perked right up for the naval section.) I feel like almost all of the "At 2pm the seventh battalion charged Feature 1701-D and was repulsed by the second battalion" stuff could have been used for more cultural context of biographies of the major players. Prose was often clunky.

Anyway, I learned quite a bit about the war. Also troop movements.


Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman (Goodreads Author), Jay Kristoff
Gave up after two hundred pages or so. The plot and characters weren't grabbing me, and while the format was creative, it didn't add to my investment. The incessant low-level slut-shaming irritated me.


Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak, narrated by Michael Crouch
Theoretically I should love queer YA with supernatural elements, but the plot was just so dreary. The majority of the book just plodded in circles, which I guess was thematically appropriate or something, but didn't make for exciting reading. The romance was basically One True Love and once the trope stuff dropped off didn't really add much. The female characters were a couple of antagonistic mothers and... that was it, really. After setting up an interesting magic system, everything was reduced to handwavium, more or less.

Prose was a bit breathless and run on.


What I'm Reading Now
Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin by John D'Emilio, in which I'm up to about WWII. Interesting to read the pacifist movement from his perspective, rather than about people like Lindberg.

What I'm Reading Next
I'm still dithering on an audiobook. It'll probably be either Their Eyes Were Watching God of a history of the Black Panther party.
muccamukk: J'onn bends his head while Kara kisses his brow. (SG: Forehead Kisses)
Title: Vid: Brighter Than The Sun
Author: [personal profile] shinyjenni
Music: Colbie Caillat
Fandom: Star Trek (Beyond-focused, but all of it)
Characters: Everyone!
Rating: G, some fast cuts.
Summary: "Lightning strikes the heart", or, me/Star Trek OTP
Notes: It's just so happy! It makes me so happy! Also, I love "This is where it starts" over Uhura->Troi->Janeway.

Title: Savage Lovecast Episode 69: Pounded in the Butt By Savage Lovecast Episode 69 [Transcript]
Author: [archiveofourown.org profile] Edonohana
Fandom: Savage Love (Podcast) RPF/Chuck Tingle - WORKS
Characters: Dan Savage, Caller
Words: 2,100
Rating: Mature
Summary: Dan Savage: So you’re getting pounded in the butt by your own concept of linear time. Caller: Right. Dan Savage: What is that like? Caller: Well, Dan, it’s kind of confusing. On the one hand, it’s fucking amazing hardcore gay action. On the other hand, last month I was double-teamed by the sociopolitical implications of Putin influencing the American Presidential election in order to install a tiny-handed fascist Cheeto in the White House, and by the historical precedents of Trump’s demagogic takeover of America for the purposes of personal profit and destroying all the best ideals of our nation.
Notes: There's also a podfic.

Title: Welcome Home
Author: [archiveofourown.org profile] ShibaScarf
Fandom:
Characters: Ted/Booster, Michelle, Rani
Words: 1,700
Rating: Teen
Summary: Ted comes back to life, courtesy of Waverider. Who the hell is Waverider?
Notes: I'm basically happy to read Ted/Booster fixits until I die. This is a great one.

Title: Rivers of Ankh-Morpork
Author: [personal profile] melannen
Fandom: Rivers of London/Discworld
Characters: Peter, Angua, Vimes, Lady Sybil, Nightingale
Words: 6,300
Rating: Teen
Summary: The Faceless Man miscalculates, and Peter Grant falls into a river. ...well, more onto a river, really. He may have bounced.
Notes: Fun crossover with a nice bit of h/c towards the end.
muccamukk: The silhouette of Sam as the Falcon cutting across other pictures of Sam. (Cap: Falcon)
What I Just Finished Reading
Reread a bunch of classic JLI as well as the 2004 run, which is still the same old mix of really funny, really sexist and often oddly touching.

A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin, narrated by Bronson Pinchot
If you want to know about the astronauts of the Apollo Program, this is the best book I've read. It really digs into their lives and what it was like to work in space in that period. The book is funny and interesting, and covers a lot of the technical challenges, the training, and how the crews worked together.

It does not try to cover any other aspect of the Apollo Program. Mission Control is mentioned as a place that exists, but mostly in so far as the astronauts interact with it. An engineering team probably designed the rockets.

I would skip the long rant at the end about how modern NASA sucks, which seems obligatory in every Apollo book.

The narrator was a mixed bag. His dialogue was excellent and he often added a lot of humour, but he also did this breathless "They're going to THE MOON!!!" thing rather more than was needed.


The Burning Page (The Invisible Library #3) by Genevieve Cogman, narrated by Susan Duerden
The usual action packed adventures and daring do, with humorous asides from our heroine who'd frankly rather be reading a book and her winsome young draconic sidekick.

While this book certainly raised the threat level, and travelled to a number of exciting new locations, this one felt a smidge as though it were spinning its wheels. The big bad was ingeniously done, and I liked his evil plan, and the moral quandary it put our heroine in, but the ending felt a little pat. And for the first time in the series, Irene was able to say "because storytelling," which she'd managed to avoid previously. I also felt like Irene's relationships didn't really advance much, we didn't learn a whole lot more about the world building, and the love triangle that's shaping up is making me side eye. More winsome, less possessiveness, sidekick!

I still really enjoyed it, just not as much as the first two.


Apollo, the Race to the Moon by Charles Murray & Catherine Bly Cox
Very well written and enjoyable. Though it doesn't have room to be comprehensive, it gives good coverage to the program design that led up to Apollo with special attention to Mission Control. It's full of interesting and often funny stories, and weaves the technical challenges in very well. Doesn't cover the later missions basically at all. It also doesn't cover the astronauts, so pairs well with Man on the Moon.

Would read again.

Interesting with the two Apollo books, especially the Murray-Bly Cox one, I can see where the women from Hidden Figures fit in, but they really just aren't mentioned more than once in passing.

What I'm Reading Now
Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak on audio, which is wonderfully ficcy and angsty (he forgot his boyfriend! He has magic powers?), which I'm reading as a break from Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla: Biography of a Genius by Marc Seifer which is really dry, though is narrated by Simon Preable, which is always nice. Some day I will finish reading Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear: Russia's War with Japan by Richard M. Connaughton, though today is not looking good for that.

What I'm Reading Next
I'm going to try read one book a week for Black History month. I have a bunch on Audible, and more on the shelf.
muccamukk: Juli on a ladder shelving library books, sunbeams giving him wings. (Heart of Thomas: Wings)
My Internet is wobbly right now, and seems to be letting me post, but looking at DW is... intermitant. I hope to comment on all my [community profile] fandom_stocking things soon. Meanwhile:

[personal profile] likeadeuce asked: Fullmetal Alchemist manga. . .anything you have to say about it, really, I know it's been a while <3

I read this piecemeal from the library about four years ago, so it's more a matter of lasting impressions, and sorting lasting impressions out from fic I've read, most of which is by you :D

I was a little surprised at how young the protagonists were. I gather it's aimed sort of middle grade? But some of the art and characterisation around Ed especially felt a bit jarring in relation to the seriousness of the rest of the plot. I think some of that might be general expectations around Manga, and I didn't dislike Ed, but often found for example constant freaking out about called short a bit jarring.

The general humour in the books was usually pretty good though, especially the drier stuff.

I like Roy and Riza, and the whole take down the system from the inside, even at cost of their own lives plot. I'm not sure how much of that is osmosis from you, but the general feeling that their souls had been lost in the war, and that this was payment worked well. I don't especially remember shipping anyone, but did enjoy Roy's little black book.

I found a lot of homunculi stuff a bit tiresome. Some of the more powerful ones were interesting, but the sort of general background ones got too much page time.

I liked the Scar plot, and thought it was well handled, and liked when everyone got wound up and pointed in the same direction.

Pinyana (sp?) was great, and I wished there'd been more of her.

The setting was very interesting, believable steampunk imperium, where the author had thought about empire. I liked the hints at other empires and what was going on with them, and how the cultures interacted with what little we got.

I feel like somewhat haphazardly from the library was not the best way to appreciate the grand climax of the storyline. I remember at the time you saying that a Vol (whatever 23?) had been one of your favourites, and had packed his huge emotional punch, and me feeling that it was good storytelling but not feeling married to it.

That's pretty well all I got. I have a vague intention to reread it at some point, hopefully more coherently.
muccamukk: Woman sleeping in bed, surrounded by books. (Books: Ballycumbers)
What I Just Finished Reading
From when I was doing [livejournal.com profile] hlh_shortcuts:
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, narrated by Juliet Stevenson
Highly enjoyable and incredibly funny. I think Catherine is one of Austen's most relatable heroines, and enjoyed Henry very much. It is perhaps somewhat depressing how little things have changed since 1803, given that the Thropes felt entirely contemporary, especially John Thorpe's treatment of women.

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, narrated by Karen Cass
Whew, so that was a bit of a long haul, even on audiobook. I didn't mind the endless descriptions of scenery and feelings, but could have lived without the poetry. (We finally switched to Blanche's PoV, and I was like, Huzzah! Emily's gone! No more poetry! but of course Blanche also writes poetry, gdi.) The scenery was at least mostly descriptions of areas I've been to, and was pleasantly nostalgic. The funniest part was what an 18th-century writer thought 16th-century French culture was like.

That aside, I unironically enjoyed most of this story. It was a melodramatic soap opera, but the story certainly kept me interested, and I liked Emily trying to find fortitude in the face of all the awful things that kept happening to her. I know a lot of people feel like Emily spent too much time fainting and crying, but she really was a shy young woman who'd been orphaned and then terrorised for months. Poor pet.

It was a bit disappointing that only a third of the book took place at the title castle, and didn't even get there for ten hours of audiobook, but it was fittingly creepy, and they had more creepy buildings later.

I was interested in the general commentary about what to do if the object of your affection has rejected you, which solution seemed to be to shut up about it and leave the poor woman alone. Other behaviours were explored and condemned. Murdering the existing spouse is right out! But so is hanging around being a creep. I could, on the other hand, used far less "City people, especially women, bad; country people especially peasants, good."

Apparently someone abridged it to take out all the scenery and poetry, and it was less than half the length.


The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story by Horace Walpole
Struggling with what to rate this. It wasn't what you would call good, and it certainly wasn't scary, but it was unintentionally (and sometimes intentionally) hilarious.

Basically the author is a bored rich dude who wrote this for lolz, and it kind of shows, because it's everything and the kitchen sink, usually all at once; there's whole chapters of people just chasing each other around the countryside; everyone turns out to have a secret relative, be a secret relative, or both, and it ends with both a wedding AND a funeral. Nothing is foreshadowed.

Taken in the spirit meant, it's pretty entertaining.


The Old English Baron: a Gothic Story by Clara Reeve
This is supposedly a rewrite of Castle of Otranto, aimed at making it more plausible, but it doesn't really work as a rewrite, and on its own, it's a little dull.

Basically, Reeve looked at the chaotic lunacy that is Otranto, and said, "you know what bothers me, the peasant boy turning out to be of noble birth. I'm going to write a whole book about how that would work." Possibly unfair, as other elements are mixed in, including the unexplained magic armour, and various family dynamics, but the remix lost the fun of the original, and most of the women too.


And since last time I posted this (I wrote 20k of fic, and read few books):
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, narrated by Simon Vance
It's always so interesting to actually read something you've only run into via osmosis. The science of the aliens part was absolutely fascinating, and it holds up as solid SF now, even if we know rather more about Mars. The plot not so much, and I could have lived without the racism.

Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin
The language was beautiful of course, and I liked that setting felt somewhere real, not sort of vague Ye Olde Scotlande, but an actual farming community in the hill country.

I didn't really have a lot to hold onto in terms of plot or character. The plot is basically a series of terrible things happening because the farming community is terrible, and the main character trying to work out an ethical way through until he eventually stumbles on an out. I guess it's more than happened in The Telling, but none of it really grabbed me.

I gather each of the books in this series has a different but connected setting and character, so I may try the next, but I'm not rushing out.


The Saga of the Mary Celeste by Stanley T. Spicer
Informative but extremely short. I would have liked to know a lot more details.


I started and abandoned both Dust Tracks on the Road by Zora Neale Hurston and The Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist by Sunil Yapa, the former for not grabbing me, and the latter for being unbearably pretentious.


What I'm Reading Now
Listening to A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin, which has too many astronauts, and not enough mission control. Reading, in fits and starts, Rising Sun, Tumbling Bear about the Russo-Japanese war, interesting, but a lot of troop movements and not enough cultural background or bios of people involved.

What I'm Reading Next
Probably Apollo: Race to the Moon, which I've been promised has more ground people. Might go back to the Tesla bio on audiobook. Library books.
muccamukk: Text: Let me just go in the next room and crochet, while you have cigars and brandy and talk about beheadings. (HL: Men's Business)
Title: An' to the Greenwood She Is Gane
Author: [personal profile] muccamukk
Fandom: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen/Highlander (Catherine, Mrs. Allen, Rebecca, Amanda, et cetera)
Rating: Teen
Word Count: 7,000
Notes: written for [personal profile] hafital for [livejournal.com profile] hlh_shortcuts. Thank you to Valtyr for advice and support, and Nenya for beta reading.
Summary: I assure you that my forthcoming (and longer) letter will be completely factual on every point, devoid of speculation, and possessing only the barest descriptions and no poetry of any kind. Yours,—Catherine Tilney
muccamukk: Juli on a ladder shelving library books, sunbeams giving him wings. (Heart of Thomas: Wings)
What I Just Finished Reading
Gate of Ivrel (Chronicles of Morgaine, #1) by C.J. Cherryh
It's difficult to describe the emotional intensity of this book. It's like when Tolkien talks about Elves in the Silm: Everyone we meet is The Most Renowned Swordsman/Bowman/Singer/Bottlewasher/Etc. Everyone in this book is having The Worst Week Ever. The backstory is neatly summarised in the prologue in two competing documents (the SF perspective of events, and the Fantasy perspective), and then we're off to the races. The characters have already had every totally awful thing that's possible to happen happen to them by the time they meet. They're both desperate and at their worst, and within about half a page they're both pretty well in denial about how co-dependant they now are. Terrible things continue to happen at an average of 1.6 times a chapter.

So it's pretty dramatic, is what I'm saying, but I really liked how the characters handled it. Morgaine has been doing this for like a thousand years, everyone she knows is dead, she's probably going to fail, possibly causing the End Of All Things. She is the most stoic brave little toaster ever. Vanye has been living in exile, and just wants a hug, and his honour to be restored. He's very interested in honour, which is an unfortunate habit in what is basically a designated woobie.

The world building is very interesting. One of the best SF from a Fantasy perspective books I've read, with the iron-age PoV character making as decent sense of things as he can, while still letting the reader in on the SF elements. There is a lot about court politics, especially the morality of leadership and abuse of power (something the last '70s fantasy novel I read was also very interested in), and family obligations.

Definitely reading the rest of the series, though possibly after a break.


Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention that Launched the Military-Industrial Complex by Michael A. Hiltzik
This book felt really scattered to me. It wanted to focus on Lawrence, but it also wanted to talk about Big Science, but it also wanted to talk about the military, and yes all three were intertwined, but the author kept rabbiting off after different threads, and it just didn't really come together for me. The later chapters especially dragged on, spent way too much time on who was on what committee, and didn't draw a very clear picture of the military and non-military use of various projects.

The pre-WWII stuff was interesting, as I hadn't read much about that, and had the attention to scientific detail that the rest of the book more or less dropped.


American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant by Ronald C. White Jr., narrated by Arthur Morey
So this was unapologetically and ragingly partisan, which was pretty charming on the whole. I've heard enough outlines and other sides on Grant to patch in the details, and it's explicitly meant to stand in opposition to anti-Grant books.

In any case, I like Grant, and am happy to read all about him, and the book is detailed and interesting. I hadn't heard much about his later life, and even the war stuff which everyone knows pretty well had some fresh takes, while mostly avoiding getting bogged in details. I think my favourite sections were the presidential campaigns, which were so bananapants back then.

The narrator did a good job, but there a lot of small either reading or copy errors, with the wrong word in places.

I'd be interested in an bio of Stanton next.


Child of a Hidden Sea (Hidden Sea Tales, #1) by A.M. Dellamonica
This was really fun. Marine videographer and professional student bamphs into a portal world and immediately decides to science the shit out of it. The secondary world is fascinating, for its similarities and differences with our own, and I loved all the different islands and cultures. Plus most of it is set on a boat, which makes me happy.

I thought the protagonist was going to be a little self-inserty (sometimes a problem with portal books), but she worked out to having enough good qualities and flaws to spend a book with, and her relationship with her family was fun. Looking forward to the next one.


A Daughter of No Nation (Hidden Sea Tales, #2) by A.M. Dellamonica
I enjoyed this one even more than the first one. It really dug into the characters and worldbuilding, and I couldn't put it down. The action sequences were gripping as well, more so than the first book, especially the two battle scenes.

I'm really enjoying exploring the world with Sophie as she tries to find her place in it, and learning more about Stormwreck and what and where it is. The politics were very well drawn, and I'm looking forward to the next one to find out what happens next.


The Nature of a Pirate (Hidden Sea Tales, #3) by A.M. Dellamonica
Great conclusion to the series. I enjoyed how it wrapped up most of the major questions, but didn't make it all too neat. I could imagine more books in this series, but don't need to have more to feel the story is complete, which is a nice balance.

I found the action climax a little weaker than the second book, but the political and family drama pulled the rest along nicely. Would have liked more with Sophie's birth parents.


When She Came Home by Drusilla Campbell, narrated by Jane Jacobs
By the numbers story of a female marine with PTSD, which managed to be so predictable that I found it extremely calming. I liked the main character and was invested in things working out for her, which of course I knew they would. The book could probably have used about 80% less explaining what everyone was feeling and why, but somehow I didn't mind.


What I'm Reading Now
The War of the Worlds on audiobook, which I'd never read, and genocidal racism in the opening aside, it's been pretty good. It's one of those books where it's interesting to see how much I picked up via osmosis, and how much is new to me.

Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston from the library, which I've just started. So far my favourite part is Mara Angelou's deeply ambivalent introduction (more or less to the tune of: "It's good for black people to tell their own stories, and this is... certainly a story told by a black person. I guess.")


What I'm Reading Next
Maybe Their Eyes Were Watching God, if I don't bail out on Hurston. I have a bio of Tesla. Some litfic library book I don't remember ordering.
muccamukk: Woman sleeping in bed, surrounded by books. (Books: Ballycumbers)
What I Just Finished Reading
Harpist in the Wind (Riddle-Master #3) by Patricia A. McKillip, narrated by Simon Prebble
Possibly not the strongest conclusion to such a fantastic series, but still very good. I really liked a lot of the discussions around the ethical uses of power, which really was the core of the series. The world building continued excellent, and I still love all the layers of history and magic.

Unfortunately, a lot of the characters I liked from the first one were more or less sidelined, and there were some long road trip sections that dragged.


The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Total soap opera, but well written and totally addictive. I enjoyed the alternate history of the Royal family, though I feel like after all that, they could have ended up with something a bit more of an AU than present day. The characters were likeable and fun, even if the plot had an element of OMG, NOW WHAT? to it.


Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon, narrated by Tara Sands
I enjoyed this so much! It was, granted, aimed pretty young, but it packed a hell of an emotional punch, and aside from being fun and creative and full of turning things into dragons, it had some really good discussions of abusive relationships and the ethics of good, evil, and slightly wicked.

It was ticking a long nicely, and then the evil Sorceress showed up, and I spent the rest of the book going, Oh! My heart! I am very fond of characters who are Resigned to Their Fate to the point where they don't even hope for better.

Also they kept turning things into dragons. It was great.


What I'm Reading Now
Audiobook bio of U.S. Grant, which I've just started (due to relistening to my favourite angsty bits of Hangnail five times in a row), the author led with a character glossary, which must be very helpful in a paper book, but is not riveting listening. On the bright side, I have heard of most of these people, which is always an encouraging feeling when one has read several books on the same period.

Paper I'm still plodding through Big Science. I'm up to depressing purges and loyalty oaths. I should just sit down and finish this thing off.


What I'm Reading Next
The Grant thing is 27 hours long, so that for a while. Physical reading, not sure. Go back the Cherryh, and then start that A.M. Dellamonica portal fantasy. Which reminds me, that's the bid item in today's auction.
muccamukk: River looking out of the frame, half turned away. (DW: River)
Haven't done one of these in a while. I'm leaving off a bunch of research reading for stuff with anon periods. Also, hi! Back now, I think.

What did you finish reading?
The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher, narrated by Kaylin Heath
Well that was... horrifying. I mean, I guess I should have been warned by Vernon's YA author name, but jeeze. There is a lot of body horror in this book, though not happening to the heroine, and a lot of a teenage girl in terrifying situations. I was reading this to get away from my gothic run, and did not realise it was a Bluebeard retelling, and was therefore way more gothic than anything else I'd read.

All that aside, I quite liked it. The language was modern and chatty, and it was a clear case of made up fantasy land, which may or may not be set in a post-apoca future, or just on a slightly secondary world. The capitol is never named, people know about South American fauna, magic makes the hollyhocks plaid.

The main character and the various living wives we meet are coping with an extremely dire situation in a variety of messed up ways, and they were quite well drawn, if perhaps a little one-note. I did like how our heroine interacted with them, and how she was an essentially kind person who just got stuck in this awful abusive situation, and I liked that the blame was placed squarely where it belonged, by her at least. Clockwife was my favourite.

Should read some of the stuff meant for a gentler audience at some point.


The Dispatcher by John Scalzi, narrated by Zachary Quinto
I keep trying Scalzi, and I keep not liking his writing. I think it's time to admit are differences and go separate ways. Probably still read his blog.

I'm fine with the high concept set up, sure, whatever, but if something like that existed, there is no way literally everyone on earth wouldn't know all the graphic details, because holy shit people coming back form the dead! So having the main character explaining to everyone, including a cop? Super awkward, especially when he seemed to know all the legal implications and the cop hadn't even heard of them. The cop seemed pretty bad at her job and unaware of what was going on, so the mc had to do basically everything.

I figure out who did it and why miles before the protagonist did, as well, which didn't help. And while it had black and latino leads, it failed the Bachdel test. I'm not sure why the entire Dispatcher profession was male, either.

At least this one was free. Two stars because I like ZQ's voice, and the poor man was trying so hard.


A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar, narrated by Josh Hurley
I enjoyed this much more on audiobook than I would have as a paper book, I think. I suspect I would have gotten bored and wandered off pretty early in, and spent far too much time looking things up in the dictionary. As it stands, I enjoyed (for the most part) listening to the overly-elaborate language flow over me, and enjoyed the story when it happened to occur.

It was not a fast-paced book, but I enjoyed the setting, and the religious conflict that the narrator inadvertently ended up in the middle of was interesting, if slightly depressing. I found the ghost character almost entirely unsympathetic, which was fine, she didn't have to be likeable, but the narrator mooning over her half the book was a bit much given how horrible she was to everyone, by her own admission. On the other hand, the narrator was at end-of-Gulliver's-Travels levels of detached from reality at that point.

The frequent tangents into local mythology/folk lore/poetry were better than such thing often are, although the whole story did sound very samey, instead of a plethora of voices as one would expect from that. King James translation of what was actually going on, maybe; the narrator never could resist a ten-cent word. Having different narrators, or even one for the story sections would have helped.

Not sure if I'll read the next one. It took me long enough to get through this.


The Riddle-Master of Hed (Riddle-Master #1) by Patricia A. McKillip, narrated by Simon Prebble
Fabulous book. I miss high fantasy that dgaf about how magic worked, or what the rules were, and just fell into mythology like a watercolour painting of fog. The characters are drawn so clearly and beautifully, and it's impossible not to feel with Morgon as he's wrenched away from the life he wants and given one impossible choice after another. It's also a middle ages(ish) secondary world fantasy that is full of women in just about every role.

Loved the narrator. Hell of a cliffhanger ending though.


Heir of Sea and Fire (Riddle-Master #2) by Patricia A. McKillip, narrated by Fiona Walsh
Even better than the first one, with a tighter plot and a second look at a lot of minor characters from the first story. I love that it was the adventure of the off-page fiancée from the first book, one of the warrior princesses, and the previous main character's little sister. The book again had a fabulous voice, though slightly different from the first, and taking a different perspective on the same characters we'd already met. I still love the sort of water colour tarot deck feeling of the mythology, where a character can turn into a crow basically because he does that, and the armies of the dead are bargained with over a fire.

I also loved the very Taran Wanderer for grown ups feeling of trying to find ones self, and honing magic and skill to service your existing identity, rather than letting them control who you are. I loved how the story was about our heroine finding herself, but also about her finding the old hero of the last book, and bringing him back, through sea and fire.

The narrator of this book was also good, but I wish she and the last guy had put their heads together, as they pronounced most of the proper nouns slightly differently (calling the land of Hed Head or Heed, for example). I wish I'd found this series sooner.


Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
Very interesting, and certainly better than Rise of the Rocket Girls, both in terms of prose and organisation. I liked how it incorporated the politics of the Space Age and the Civil Rights Era with the women's lives. It made a good choice of picking four women and sticking with them through a relatively brief period (WWII up through the Mercury Program, basically), rather than trying to cover dozens over decades. It adds some wonderful depth to other Space Age books, and I hope to see these women mentioned more often from now on.

The language was perhaps a bit overwrought in places, and I could have used slightly less context and slightly more science, but that's spoken from someone who's read a lot of Space Race books. There were also some small editing errors.


What are you reading now?
I'm about half way through Harpist in the Wind, the conclusion of the Riddle-Master trilogy. I'm picking away at Big Science again, having gotten it back from the library, and binge reading Royal We.

What are you reading next?
Probably go back to Cherryh and finish the Morgaine books. Audiobooks, idk, maybe Updraft by Fran Welsh.
muccamukk: Darcy sitting at a table drinking coffee, flowers on her right. (Thor: Breakfast Table)
What did you finish reading?
Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
I'm reading Blazing World next partly to tell what I think of this book, which honestly felt very much like the author's notes at the end: She read a bunch of Virginia Woolf and then wrote a novel about Margaret Cavendish.

I appreciated all the historical detail, and the research the author put in, and it was certainly literary and attempting to show warts and all, but I don't think I came out with a hold of what was driven Cavendish to write, or at very least what was driving her to publish. The prose is dreamy and disconnected, with occasional vivid moments, and the end impression of Cavendish is the same. Which doesn't marry with what I've read of her writing.

I am left perplexed.


The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World by Margaret Cavendish the Thrice Noble, Illustrious, and Excellent Princesse, the Duchess of Newcastle.
So this book is very much of its time, which is interesting in an of itself because the form of the novel hadn't really hit England, let alone been codified, and the author has this huge amount of space to do whatever she wants.

Granted, whatever she wants is more or less long sections of complaining about the Royal Society (a Tradition Swift would pick up and run with), and attempting cosmology, which was theoretically interesting, but did tend to drag on. Also there are very few full stops, fewer paragraph breaks, no dialogue punctuation and the spelling is eccentric.

However, it also allowed her to write a secondary world sff story where in someone from a made up world traveled to yet another world, became its empress, and started talking to people from our own world on the astral plane. Which was pretty nifty, but then the empress starts hanging out, on the astral plane, with the author of the book in a way that is described in the text as "Platonic" but which I would called "Slashy as all get out" and I really can't tell if this is basically self-insert self-cest or what, but it's fascinating.

AND THEN! The Empress decides to invade and conquer her original world, and there is an earnest discussion of the efficacy of a zombie army, but they eventually go with submarine warfare and aerial fire bombing. And then the book ends. Which in and of itself, upgrade the book to four stars.

If I were to read it again, I'd read up to where she starts talking about philosophy, then skip to where the Duchess of Newcastle shows up and read through to the end of the war, then skip the five pages of describing lutes and read the epilogue.

(I saw a couple reviewers saying Cavendish invented the submarine, which is incorrect. There were working(ish) submarines in England in the 1620s, which were witnessed by Constantijn Huygens, who was in Cavendish's circle. It might be the first novel portaying submarine warfare though?)


What are you reading now?
Gate of Ivrel by C.J. Cherryh, which is pretty fab. Also rereading Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch.


What are you reading next?
Presumably Well of Shiuan, and also some library books once I get back home.
muccamukk: Creedy and Quinn reenacting a lightsaber battle. Text: "Bedtime Stories" (Reign of Fire: Stories)
[This is copied from the Imzy comm Cherryh Blossoms]

Planned format: I will post every 3-4 chapters, include a little summary of events, and then people can comment as they like. I know a couple other people haven't read it before, so if you're doing a reread please included spoiler warnings for future events from the same series.

I'm also totally flexible, so do let me know if you think something else would work better!

Summary: Spoilers )
muccamukk: A heart drawn in beach sand, ocean in the background. (Lights: Beach Heart)
What did you finish reading?
Icon (Persona #2) by Genevieve Valentine
This really is the other half of Persona, to the point where there's no recap of any kind, and if you haven't read the previous book since it came out, well, hope you remember who everyone was. I mostly managed to catch up, but it felt less like a story of its own and more as picking up the threads of the first book and carrying on with them.

It continues with Valentine's classic trapped characters trying to make a rigged system work for them, while slowly being corrupted by the system. Which is pretty bleak for YA, I must admit, as it tends more to grim compromise and the bitterest sweet rather than happiness for anyone.

I liked the characters and the writing a lot. It felt very hyper-vigilant and detail focused, with every bit of body language recorded and searched for meaning, and all the characters watching and working out all angles, and any real emotions repressed and only showing through the cracks.

I enjoyed the hell out if it, and out of the plotting and politics, but it's probably not everyone's style. Definitely read them both at one time.


Breath of Earth (Breath of Earth #1) by Beth Cato
I really liked the main character and found her plot compelling, trying to find answers about herself and solve a more specific mystery, while a war she may or may not be complicit in rages all around. It was well done, and a difficult book to put down. Again it was a bit short on women, basically having the heroine and two antagonists, but they were all well played. Romance may have been slightly pasted on, but I liked that she was into the DLI primarily because he was decent to her.

For the most part, I liked the world building, especially the incorporation of Hidden Ones from various cultures, in a way that felt respectful, and was interesting and something that I hadn't seen before. Excellent use of various shapeshifters. I admit having wished for more of an explanation than "We've always had magic, but history and culture is almost exactly the same, save the last 100 years." It didn't really work for me, but I was willing to handwave it, as that was clearly all we were going to get.

Looking forward to the next one.


Engraved on the Eye: Short Fantasy and Science Fiction by Saladin Ahmed
Short collection, but very enjoyable. Two of the stories were set in the same secondary world as Throne of the Crescent Moon (including a bit of backstory that I'd read somewhere before), and the rest were a mix of SF and F short stories in a variety of worlds.

I think that "Where Virtue Lives" the backstory for how Raseed ban Raseed met Doctor Adoulla Makhslood was my favourite of the bunch, even if I'd read it already, but the dark supervillain comedy "Doctor Diablo Goes Through the Motions" and the dystopic SF mystery "The Faithful Soldier, Prompted" were also excellent. The only story that didn't really work for me was the closing one, which fell a bit D&D campaign.

Very much enjoyed over all, looking forward to more.


What are you reading now?
Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton, a very short novel about Margaret Cavendish, a writer in Restoration England. Very short.


What are you reading next?
Shall I continue my alphabetical wanderings through my e-reader? Shall I choose at random? Who can tell?
muccamukk: Joan Watson highlighted in purple and black. (Elementary: Joan)
What I Just Finished Reading
The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America edited by Mark Kurlansky
The editor found a stash of unpublished WPA files about food culture, and put them together as a shorter book. I read the North East Eats section, and then sort of skimmed the rest. The South part was pretty damn racist, which we were warned for, but there was also a wall-to-wall sketchy treatment of Native Americans, as so many traditions were casually looped back to early America, and well... Anyway, interesting as it went, and some good recipes and history, with the occasional humour bits, but probably better read a bit at a time rather than straight through.

"The Year of the Crocodile" (Cyclone #2.5) by Courtney Milan
(I'm puzzled by the numbering as #2 isn't out yet). Short story about Blake and Tina's parents meeting for Lunar New Years. This was hilarious, and exactly what I needed to read on a down night.

Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorpe, narrated by Donna Postel
Detailed and insightful look into the lives of three non-combat soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq during the recent wars. I liked how the book covered how they integrated into the military, their service and what happened to them after the got home. Lots of things to think about.

Status Update (#gaymers #1) by Annabeth Albert
Made of 100% fluff, and very enjoyable for it. Manic Pixel Dream Boy rescues archaeology professor from the closet. It was cute and often funny. The ending dragged on far too long, and could have used fewer dogs.

Midnighter Vol. 1: Out by Steve Orlando
Midnighter is almost as good a go to for wanton violence and gore as Ares, though also more gay, which is nice. This had a pleasing amount of carnage in it and at one point the Midnighter kidnapped Dick Grayson to go on a coffee date and then they ended up handcuffed together, which was not the least slashy thing I've ever read.

The plot was pretty nonsensical, but I'm not super invested in that. As a long term Authority fan, I've got to say "The Midnighter Dumps Apollo in Order to Find Himself" is a little played out, especially since we never seem to get an Apollo book out of all that.


Do Shut Up, Mister Simms by Rachael Acks
Absolutely charming novella about the dashing steampunk captain's stalwart right hand man, and the adventures he really doesn't want to be having, especially not with his captain's love interest (entirely incidentally, the captain and the love interest are both women). Very funny and enjoyable. Unfortunately it's the last in a series and while it reads fine on its own, I can't seem to find the rest of the series anywhere. I gather the publisher went under. (I e-mailed the author, and she said that she was waiting on a new publisher. So I've subscribed to her mailing list and will hopefully pick them up when they're out.)


Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from a Bootlegger's Manuall by Matthew Rowley
I could have used more text and fewer pictures of illegible pages from history, as the actual content was probably about fifty pages, but this was still a fun, light and often interesting read. It probably wasn't news to people who know a lot about the Prohibition in the US, but I learned a lot about the technical side of bootlegging.

I appreciated that the author didn't just lean on his found manual, but pulled recipes and techniques from other period books, and tried to translate how they worked (or didn't!) into modern terms and explained what the originals actually meant. I'm not invested enough in cocktails to start making ingredients, but still enjoyed it.


Lady of Devices (Magnificent Devices #1) by Shelley Adina
Steampunk novel about the daughter of a Marquises who doesn't want to be a proper lady, but wants to go build steam engines. I lasted twenty pages, and failed to care. I think I got it for like a dollar though, so oh well.


What I'm Reading Now

Just started Icon (Persona #2) by Genevieve Valentine, which I'm enjoying so far, though it's been so long since I read the first one that I've forgotten a lot of the politics.

Still listening to an audiobook of A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar, which almost everyone I know didn't like (except [personal profile] likeadeuce?), but I'm really enjoying. I think it does better on audiobook, where you can just let it flow by all lyrical and stuff, and not worry that plot is occurring at and exceptionally slow rate, if at all. I'm also enjoying all the religious conflicts and plotting.


What I'm Reading Next
I'll be in town, so something off my e-reader? Probably finally getting to the new Martha Wells book (which I've been saving), and maybe continue my alphabetical by author treck through the contents. Saladin Ahmed next, at least.
muccamukk: Steve standing with his arms folded, looking disapproving. (Avengers: Judgy Arms)
What I Just Finished Reading
Missed last week, but it's been a bit dire all over anyway. Finest in popular fantasy I either didn't enjoy or flat out didn't finish.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, narrated by Priya Ayyar
I really dislike this book, and almost half is more than enough of a chance. The hero is a controlling asshole who hides information from the heroine who is 100% under his power (he more or less kidnapped her). The heroine keeps trying to set boundaries only to have them stomped on. There are no other women. The writing is overdone and not very good. I can't actually tell what the world building is like because everything's a flowery metaphor. South Asian mythology angle was nice. Did not finish.

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie
Won't rate this as I'm so very far from the target audience, which is apparently very small children who live in London. It was quite sweet, and interesting to see the early version of Peter Pan, but dragged on a bit. I did like the scenes with Peter interacting with human children, which is I guess what we're going with for the next book.

Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie
I liked some of this. Peter was effectively quite creepy, which was enjoyable, and a lot of the descriptions and whimsy were nice. However it was really difficult to get past how profoundly racist it was, and the sexism didn't help. I know, I know, 1911, but I really can't picture presenting this to an actual child.

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen
Read about 140 pages and decided that life was too short for this shit.

I don't believe in the world, and I don't like the characters. The author has basically said that if you take 21st century Britain and America, took away their technology, they'd turn into boilerplate 1980s fantasy novel "Middle Ages Europe," complete with 99% white people, women not getting to do anything, feudalism and the Catholic church as the only religion. Which, lol, where to start?

So the protagonist is a princess who was raised away from the court and basically knows nothing except history and botany, and shows up and starts judging everyone, from the street walkers to the courtiers ("The prostitutes need to get better jobs!" "Wait why is the palace spending this much on servants?" Pick one!). You can tall the bad guys because they're all ugly rapist slave owners. The only other women are a dead mother, an absent guardian, an evil queen, and the maid. The only black people are a sex slave and a minstrel/bandit.

Never has a book made me wish I were reading The Goblin Emperor, and I didn't even especially like that one either.

On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz
My mom really liked this, but I found it actively annoying and bailed three walks in.

What I'm Reading Now
Library: The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food from the Lost WPA Files edited and illustrated by Mark Kurlansky, collection of essays about food culture in Depression-era US, divided by region. Varies from history, to humour to recipes, very interesting, but slow going.

Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorpe, breaking my ban on books with "girl" in the title already, about three National Guard soldiers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, a bit chatty, but very interesting.

What I'm Reading Next
Louise Erdrich maybe? I really need to read something well written soon.

Library, I think the first volume of Midnighter by Steve Orlando needs to go back soonish.

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Muccamukk

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