muccamukk: Jeff standing in the dark, face half shadowed. (B5: All Alone in the Night)
2017-10-18 09:35 pm
Entry tags:

Reading Wednesday

What I Just Finished Reading
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, narrated by Caroline Lee
Very enjoyable mystery/gothic history novel largely set in the 1920s. (I feel like Julien Fallows probably owes Morton money). I liked how the storylines intertwined and how each person's interest in the history changed how they saw it. The love triangle at the centre was probably the least interesting aspect, and I wish the story had had more focus on Grace, as the sections without her dragged a bit. Will read more by this author, in any case.

Bearista by Zoe Chant
Does what it says on the tin, though I could have used more coffeeshop UST, as those scenes were a highlight. However the main couple had great chemistry, and I liked how the heroine was strong, interesting and useful in a fight without being an action girl. Zoe is really good at heroines that feel real.
(I hope there's a sequel about Keegan and maybe a carpenter lady.)

A Long Day in Lychford (Lychford #3) by Paul Cornell
I really liked the emotion in this book, and how the characters were at odds for good reason. The feelings were very well conveyed, especially Lizzie's inability to connect with the other two. However, it felt a bit short to deal with all the themes it was trying to get in, and a lot of plot threads didn't feel resolved at all. Presumably they will be in the next one, but I wasn't left feeling like I'd read a whole story as I was with the first two. (Unless the fragmentation was itself a meta point.)

The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky
I mean, it's a book in which the main character (and most of the other characters) dies repeatedly and often horribly, but it's just really pretty okay! I don't know what to say past wow, shiny about the writing and the structure and the themes, and it's just really meaningful! I want to learn German so I can read it in German.

What I'm Reading Now
Audio: In the middle of a Station Eleven reread, as I've been thinking about it recently. Still really good!

Paper: Theoretically, Beren and Lúthien, practically, not much.

What I'm Reading Next
Library book, probably Black Apple as it's due next.
muccamukk: Text: "We're way over our daily quota of emo." (RoL: Daily Quota of Emo)
2017-10-14 08:45 am

Back, Media Reviews, Plans

So I wasn't gone gone, but I did spend less time online, and read a lot, and I think that settled me out a bit?

My conclusion, after all that, is that Discord and I are not mixy things. I keep picking fights on it, and it's not a good look, and I should just... not. (Nenya: "You pick fights on tumblr at the time!" Me: "But I MEAN to pick fights on tumblr; they just sort of happen on Discord.") Since I don't have the bandwidth for tumblr (fights or no fights), my ip is blocked on irc, and I don't understand twitter, I'm going to try to post more here. Hooray! (And since the site went to HTTPS, I don't get randomly logged out any more! Double Hooray!)

I mean to do a picture post soon too.

TV Watched:
Also think I need to not watch Star Trek Discovery right now. I can't add "and Starfleet sucks" to my list of problems this year.

Watched the new episode of Legends of Tomorrow (3x01) and enjoyed having my silly show back. I think that they made the Legends look worse than they (usually) are for effect, and I'm wondering what Rip's DEAL is, but yay! Silly show back! Now we just need to finish getting the band back together.

Movies Watched (mostly as perspective yuletide offers):
Hidden Figures (2016), which was not as good as the book, had enough NASA over-simplification to make my eye twitch, and really didn't need Kevin Costner in it that much, if at all, BUT was otherwise delightful. It's hard to say no to a movie whose premise is "Woman walks into room and does math, everyone cheers!" I liked the differences in approach of the three main characters, their interactions and friendships, and how they each figured out how to get through. Also: SPACE!

The Big Country (1958), which was the first Gregory Peck western I've seen where he didn't try to rape anyone, and therefore the best of the three. Otherwise it didn't blow me a way. The filming was gorgeous, and he was pretty slashy with Charlton Heston, but the romances were a bit flat, and the feud that drove the storyline was predictable (though a step up from The Yearling with Righteous Poverty vs Unrighteous Poverty, but isn't everything a step up from The Yearling?) Anyway, nice to have that man's face on my screen again.

Moonlight (2016), since Nenya hadn't seen it. Perfect. Beautiful. Loved it all over again. Amusing cast overlap with Hidden Figures.

Books read (I keep missing Reading Wednesday, so here we go):
Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman by Cathy Wilkerson
Reading this back to back with Assata, one couldn't help but notice that this was longer than it needed to be, but on the other hand, I'm young enough to have appreciated the context Wilkerson provided. I also appreciated the constant call backs in how she talked about her thinking at the time, and what allowed her and blocked her from seeing the flaws in it. It gave a really good read on what it felt like to be in a cult, and how Wilkerson emotionally progressed to the point where she needed to be in one. Also why she left and how that felt.

Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World by Joan Druett, narrated by David Colacci
Absolutely fascinating read. The author is largely pulling from the published accounts (plus ship's logs) of the voyages, but tells the stories well, and ads in great biological context to the adventure story. The contrast between the two groups of shipwreck victims was fascinating, and I love all the details of how one group was able to build things and prosper (though poor seals).

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, narrated by Paul Ansdell
Solid ghost story. I enjoyed listening to it as the narrator was very good.

Her Every Wish (The Worth Saga #1.5) by Courtney Milan
I was like, That's it! I've had a day! I'm reading a romance novel. And this was a good romance novel. I liked the heroine's determination to make her plan work, and her conflict with the hero was believable and came to a reasonable resolution, as did the plot. It didn't on the whole have any of the delight that I associate with Milan well done. I miss the Brothers Sinister series.

Me Sexy: An Exploration of Native Sex and Sexuality edited by Drew Hayden Taylor
I really enjoyed this. I loved how varied the essays included were, and especially that it included three queer authors all with very different perspectives. I liked the language lessons, and the essays that dealt with the effects settlers had on the different cultures. It was very well put together, informative, and often funny. I probably could have lived without the Boyden essay. I often don't get his writing.

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz
Super cute middle grade book about a 4th grader who accidentally starts a library out of her locker, and then ends up taking a stand on freedom of speech. It was very sweet and quite funny, and most of the kids actually sounded like they were 10-11. It was probably a touch didactic, but not annoyingly so.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kmmerer
Loved this book. Loved the combination of cultural history and beliefs, personal experience and science. Loved the compassion and insight of the storytelling. Loved the descriptions of plantlife in all the places she'd lived and loved. Loved the ideas, and proposed solutions. Need to read again soon.

Did Not Finish:
Legacy (The Sharing Knife #2) by Lois McMaster Bujold
I read two hundred pages of this and realised that I didn't actually care, skimmed to the end and sent it back to the library. I enjoyed the first one a fair bit, so I'm not sure from whence my apathy about this one, but I sure wasn't invested in a story that should have been my jam. Oh well.

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
Listened to a hour and a bit of the audiobook, and was pretty put off, basically. The narrator was overacting, but mostly it was so dreary and had some really odd fatphobia stuff. I'm... probably missing the point.

Ice Diaries: An Antarctic Memoir by Jean McNeil
I'm 100 pages in. I've been 100 pages in for... a while. The writing itself is gorgeous and insightful, but I'm just not invested in this woman's life. Back to the library it goes.
muccamukk: Misty running hard. Text: Got to Go (Marvel: Got to Go)
2017-09-06 06:20 pm
Entry tags:

Reading Wednesday

What I Just Finished Reading
Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur, with forwards by Angela Y. Davis and Lennox S. Hinds
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in US history or the history of the protest movement. The story is divided between Shakur's youth and entry into the Black Power movements, and the four years she spent on trail in the early to mid '70s, and both parts are illuminating, though I found the story of her growing consciousness more interesting. She really lays out what it felt like to be working class and black in New York in the '60s and '70s, and is very frank about how her personal ethics evolved including many past errors.

I wish there had been more detail about her transition from the Black Panthers to the Black Liberation Army, and what life in the BLA was like, but I understand the political constraints she was writing under (not wanting to drop the FBI on anyone's head). Perhaps there will be a follow up some day.

On a prose level, the book is strongly written, and cut through with Shakur's poetry. It's definitely a step up from most memoirs.


Anathema: Spec from the Margins, April 2017 (#1)
First issue of a magazine dedicated to stories by queer writers of colour. I always say that collections are a mixed bag, but I honestly really liked everything in this anthology save one story (life is too short for AIDS metaphors). I think the mermaid story "The Woman with a Thousand Stars in Her Hair" was my favourite this issue. Also excellent, the essay about using Kenyan vernacular to define a place for marginalised people, especially in relation to SFF.

"The Creeping Influences" by Sonya Taaffe
Eerie short story about a bog woman found by a group of peat diggers in '30s Ireland. I like what this story does with love and gender, and I'm very fond of the prose. Fond of Shimmer generally, actually.

What I'm Reading Now
Beren and Lúthien by J.R.R. Tolkien, slow going. I liked the first part, which was the initial version of the story in a fairytale style with the prince of cats, but retreading the lay isn't really my fave. I'm such a bad Tolkien fan.

Audio: Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman by Cathy Wilkerson. If nothing else, this is underlining what an achievement the brevity of Assata's book was. It's very interesting (she's still not a terrorist!), but probably could have cut some detail.

What I'm Reading Next
Library books! Or maybe that Worth Saga novella by Milan. Something lighter.
muccamukk: Bill standing in front of the TARDIS bookshelf. (DW: Queen of Books)
2017-08-30 11:34 am
Entry tags:

Reading Wednesday

What I Just Finished Reading
Cyberpunk: Malaysia edited by Zen Cho
Overall I enjoyed this collection. I will admit that a lot of the geographical references went over my head, but the cultural and political issues were fairly well laid out over the book.

As with any collection, the content varied, and I didn't finish some stories usually due to being unrelentingly grim, but most had a balance between dystopia and fight against oppression. The themes of personhood, surveillance and state oppression were pretty strongly represented, but many of the stories were humorous and some were hopeful.

It did make me curious about the definition of Cyberpunk, especially the punk part of that, and how that has evolved over the last thirty years or so.

(I got a copy of this book via goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Then I lost the book so it's pretty horrifically late.)

What I'm Reading Now
Audio: Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman by Cathy Wilkerson. A couple hours into this, and curious how/why our heroine is going to make the jump from college activism to blowing shit up.

Paper: Assata by Assata Shakur. Nenya gave this to me for my birthday, and randomly decided to read it next. I didn't think about reading two books about activists in the same period until I started it and went, "oh, right." So far I love it. She has such a strong voice. I'm curious about the lack of capitalisation on first person singular and how various words are deliberately missspelled (amerika for example). It seems to be a stylistic choice and I don't know enough about the culture.

What I'm Reading Next
Not sure, probably a library book.
muccamukk: Woman sleeping in bed, surrounded by books. (Books: Ballycumbers)
2017-08-23 09:06 am
Entry tags:

Reading Wednesday

What I Just Finished Reading
Beguilement (The Sharing Knife #1) by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Bernadette Dunne
Bit of a change of pace from say Chalion, but I enjoyed it anyway. It's a slow, sleepy romance novel, in which the odd demon is killed but the main problems are things like meeting each other's parents and realising that changing names on marriage is a problem when one of you comes from a matrilineal culture and the other from a patrilineal culture (to say nothing of who should make the first move). It's all set in summer in a secondary world version of rural New England (or something of that kind) following the downfall of civilisation. I'll read at least the next one for sure.

(Frankly, if the idea of a romance where the hero is much older and martial, and the heroine is young and domestic is not your thing, don't read this series. I'm fine with it, but I know it drives some people nuts.)


The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3) by N.K. Jemisin
I think the best compliment that can go to this book is that it didn't let my expectations down. All the complications and ambiguities and history in the first two books are extended and to some extent explained, and I was left feeling content in the ending. I thought it would break my heart, but in the end it was just really, really satisfying.

I loved how the three (four by the end) character plots worked together, and how the many ends of the world tie together and we learn who everyone is. I especially liked Essun's developing relationship with her new comm, and all the characters there. Plus there are a couple set piece scenes that are flat out stunningly written. Should start over from the beginning once I have time.

(I was to some extent reminded of The Book of Phoenix, especially in the backstory segments. Hoa and Phoenix have a lot in common, it turns out.)

(I liked this review for NPR by Amal El-Mohtar.)


What I'm Reading Now
Paper: Cyberpunk: Malaysia edited by Zen Cho, which I've been meaning to get to for ages. First story is good so far.

Audio: Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman by Cathy Wilkerson. Which I'm also just starting, but the intro was promising.


What I'm Reading Next
Probably Moonglow by Chabon. Or something from the library, depending on the mail.
muccamukk: Gregory Peck looks up from the book he's reading. (Books: Hello Reading)
2017-08-16 11:05 am
Entry tags:

Reading Wednesday

What I Just Finished Reading
The Ariadne Objective: The Underground War to Rescue Crete from the Nazis by Wes Davis
I'll admit that I started reading this as Guns of Navarone background, but even given that I found it pretty shallow. Basically it recapped almost entirely from the reports and journals of the British officers, with the odd German thrown in, didn't consider the Greek perspective in more than the briefest passing mention. I read the first two thirds and then sent it back to the library because I just didn't care.

Coed Demon Sluts: Beth (Coed Demon Sluts #1) by Jennifer Stevenson
I saw the author talking about this on Scalzi's blog, and decided to give it a whirl. Pretty much read it straight through on the plane, and enjoyed it, I guess. On the whole, there was way too much talk, and not enough action (or "action"). I didn't really connect with the characters because a lot of the time they sounded like talking points, not people. The actual plot, when it occurred, was engaging enough. Not sure I'll bother with the rest of the series.

(Though I did have the great pleasure of the preppy young man sitting next to me on the flight asking me what I was reading.)


Hold Me (Cyclone #2) by Courtney Milan
Enjoyed this one even more than the first one. I totally got the issues both MCs had, and why they set each other's teeth on edge, but at the same time their alternate relationship was totally believable and in keeping with that. They had great chemistry and I loved how their genuine issues were resolved by working things out and patience, not but Surprise Drama.


The Edge of Worlds (The Books of the Raksura #4) by Martha Wells
It's always good to get back to the three worlds, and I really enjoyed seeing how all the characters had grown over the years, plus all the new cultures and places they encountered on their adventure. The book also brought something I'd wanted from the start, the glimmer of hope for at least some of the Fell, in an exploration of their culture as well. Heck of a cliff hanger though.

The Harbors of the Sun (The Books of the Raksura #5) by Martha Wells
I'm sad to see the end of this series, but what a great send off. Everyone got something to do, we met all kinds of old friends again, and Pearl and Malachite got to hang out (the Pearl-Malachite show was easily worth the price of admission).

The last act was Very Dramatic (well a lot of the book was), but really how much had changed since the first trilogy, and I love how much of a family everyone now has, and how many forms that takes.

(Loved this series so much, the sting of loosing it is lessened by Murderbot being so good, and by the snippits that show up on Wells' Patreon.)


Days Without End by Sebastian Barry, narrated by Aidan Kelly
** spoiler alert ** I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. It is a book about a gay man who is somewhat genderqueer who spends the entire book with the love of his life and is still with him at the end (they are in fact married with a family by about two thirds through). It was gorgeous. The writing was stunning. The content was often brutal.

Not in a Tragic Gay way, but in a wow the MCs were in the US army during the genocide of the Native Americans, and in the Union army during the civil war, and then we did another round of genocide in Wyoming. And so... yeah.

But on the other hand, it painted nothing as glorious, and I really appreciated a "Wild West" story that actually showed what was going on, and boy howdy did it not romanticise anything. And while it never excuses any of the characters, it does lay out how a lot of that happened, how even good men got sucked into being monsters.

So, gay HEA, beautifully written, uncountable slaughter, would rec the audiobook, as the reader has a pleasing Irish accent.

(This was strongly recced to me by Dad who goes in for depressing things with pretty writing. He also may have been trying to bond over queer content, which is nice. Your mileage will vary widely on how much you can handle the MCs being complicit in crimes against humanity, even if they were only foot soldiers, and in the army as victims of imperialism themselves.)


Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin, narrated by Ron Butler
I don't have a lot of the historical context for the first half, but the writing is so perfect, and the ideas are clear and sharp, and it's pure pleasure to read. (It's somewhat depressing how little has changed.)


Keeping Her Pride (Ladies of the Pack #1) by Lauren Esker
One of my favourites by Esker (still doesn't top Guard Wolf, but probably edges out Dragon's Luck)! I really liked Debi and her slow road to understanding and redemption. I love how her vision of herself changed, and part of that was just a matter of realising that yes, she could put sugar in her coffee. The business plot took something of a back seat until the end, but it's a fast read, and I mostly loved watching Debi grow.

Fletcher wasn't my favourite hero, but he was solid and his issues made sense. His complicated relationship with his ex wife and their daughter made sense. I liked that the kid was there to be trouble as well as cute, as four year olds tend to be. She was pretty cute though.

Nice guest spots by various agents from the other books, but this was entirely readable as a stand alone. I haven't read Handcuffed to a Bear, where Debi first showed up, and followed it just fine.

(I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, which is horridly late. Sorry, Lauren!)


What I'm Reading Now
I've got the first Sharing Knife book going on audio, which I'm enjoying in a peaceable idfic sort of way. I can see why some people want to set it on fire. I quite like it.

I'm also drifting through Sister Emily's Lightship and Other Stories, a collection of mostly fairytale riffs by Jean Yolen, which is very good.


What I'm Reading Next
The Stone Sky is out. Once I've braced myself, I'll start that.
muccamukk: Bill standing in front of the TARDIS bookshelf. (DW: Queen of Books)
2017-07-19 10:30 pm
Entry tags:

Reading Wednesday

What I Just Finished Reading

Still No Word by Shannon Webb-Campbell
I read this slowly and several times. I have trouble writing about poetry, but I liked the clarity and feeling here.

Chalk by Paul Cornell
Hard to know what to rate this one. I think it does what it's trying to do with great effectiveness, but I'm not really interested in what it's trying to do? The story does claustrophobic, creepy and bleak, pretty well wall to wall, which I think is very true to the author's experiences, but like with Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane (with which this shared a lot of elements), I'm not that invested.

I liked a lot of the struggle for significance in the face of meaningless cruelty, and the storytelling itself was delightfully creepy (for those into horror), but it was a hard read.


The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice by Patricia Bell Scott
I knew very little about Mrs Roosevelt and nothing about Pauli Murray going in, and loved finding out about them. The book primarily focuses on Murray and her life, with the interactions with ER highlighted and context of ER's life at those times added. It doesn't shy away from their weaknesses and mistakes, which is nice in a positive bio. I felt that it gave me a strong understanding of both women, and of how their interactions with politics changed over the years. I now want to read bios of all the other amazing women they crossed paths with along the way.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, narrated by Kate Burton
I really enjoyed this. It's sort of meandering and reflective, with time jumps and backstory, but I just liked spending time living with these characters. There was a core of good intentions and kindness in most of them, even if most of them didn't always live up to that. The period setting was phenomenal.

The Quartermaster: Montgomery C. Meigs, Lincoln's General, Master Builder of the Union Army by Robert O'Harrow, narrated by Tom Perkins
Perhaps a little heavy on lauding our hero, rather than letting his achievements stand on their own, but absolutely fascinating for all that. I would have liked more on the mundane logistics of the Civil War supply system, and maybe a bit less building things before the war, though the War Department politics were very interesting.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, narrated by Bahni Turpin
I can't figure out if this book is not as clever as it thinks it is, or if I'm just not smart enough to get it. A problem I have with a lot of litfic, to be honest.

I was initially cooler on it, but reading some interviews with the author gave me a better idea of what he was doing, and that helped my appreciation of the book.

I admit that I did not find the surface narrative of Cora's escape that interesting, though I liked Cora herself, and it was kind of neat to pick out threads from various real slave narratives. The alternate history elements in the Carolinas were also pretty neat, though they didn't really tie into the railway being an actual railway, which frankly I don't get the point of.

There were themes of story telling and who gets to have a voice/tell the story of enslaved people, which I didn't really pick up on myself, but appreciated after hearing the author talk about it.

All in all I liked it, but don't really get the buzz.


Adrift on the Sea of Rains (The Apollo Quartet, #1) by Ian Sales, narrated by Jeffrey Schmidt
Competent alternate history, which is mostly enjoyable because of the massive amount of NASA nerdery. Though props to the author for starting the series with such an unlikable protagonist (the kind of man who thinks he's the best ever, but is clearly not someone who should be in charge of a gas station, let alone a moon base). The tech conceit was a bit handwavey, but it got the story where it was going, and I enjoyed how it unfolded.

The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself (The Apollo Quartet, #2) by Ian Sales, narrated by Jeffrey Schmidt
Again with pleasing NASA nerdery (though stop explaining abbreviations! anyone this far down the NASA rabbit hole knows what LEO stands for, let alone USAF! I liked the conflict between civilian NASA and the Air Force space corps.

However, the hero is more or less why I don't read SF by dudes unless it's recced. His entire character is basically Sad Because His Wife Left Him. There are no significant women in the story other than the ex-wife.

I also didn't believe the central plot point, which I won't spoil, but will say was a handwave too far in terms of science. You can't just wave the word "Quantum" around and expect me to believe it. I might not have minded as much if I'd liked the hero, but here we are.

Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above (The Apollo Quartet, #3) by Ian Sales (Goodreads Author), narrated by Trina Nishimura
I mean, It's always nice to read an AU where the Mercury 13 got to go to space, even if they continued to get screwed over by NASA, but I didn't find the plot of this one very compelling. Sales clearly couldn't think of much to do with female astronauts other than have them do the same stuff all the guys had done and then cheat them out of the moon walk, so half the plot is about a male deep-sea diver who is looking for a spy satellite's cargo. I basically felt like I was reading a non-fiction book about the US spy program, with a Korean War AU on the side. Thin on both characterisation and plot. Author describes make and model of every plane, train and automobile in story. Does not need to do this.


Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan, narrated by Suzanne Toren
I know everyone read this when it came out ages ago, but I admit to having read the preface and then skipped to the bits about T.E. Lawrence, at the time, so this is my first go through.

I really appreciate the historical perspective, and how the author kept focused on the conference, but provided the background for each of the major regions and disputes. The personalities of all the diplomats were very well drawn, and I liked the heavy use of quotes and original sources. They helped keep me engaged in the storyline.

The conclusion regarding the spin out from the peace conference was very interesting, and I'll have to check out more books on the topic.


What I'm Reading Now
Theoretically a couple things, practically not much.

What I'm Reading Next

No idea.
Going on a trip starting tomorrow, so probably a lot of romance novels. *remembers to charge e-reader*
muccamukk: Holmes examines a Santa hat. (SH: Christmas Hat)
2017-06-26 10:14 am
Entry tags:

Murderbot and Gender

One of the things I liked about Martha Wells' Murderbot Diaries series is that the title character is some sort of android/human clone hybrid and has neither a sexuality nor a gender. The books are written in first person, but all the outside characters refer to the Murderbot as "it," and frankly it's fine with that. Wells mentioned on a recent AMA: "I feel the core of the character is that while Murderbot is obviously a person, it isn't human and doesn't want to be human, so while other characters might give it pronouns, it's not going to want to pick any for itself."

I know at least one person who found the use of "it" over "they" for non-gendered pronouns uncomfortable, while Nenya liked it for reminding the reader of the profoundly non human nature of the SecUnit. Reading reviews, I noticed that people used a variety of approaches to deal with Murderbot's gender, and I did a quick tally of them.

214 Reviews on Goodreads as of this writing
  • 137 of them don't use pronouns for Murderbot (a few seemed to be deliberately avoiding doing so, but mostly these reviews just said something like "Good book, will read the next one.")

  • 5 of them are in a language I don't speak (I'm taking a Murderbot approach to this, and half-assing my research)

  • 44 (61%) of them used "it"

  • 12 (17%) of them used "he"

  • 8 (11%) of them used "they"

  • 8 (11%) of them used "she" (Ann Leckie's got them trained!)

Speaking of Leckie, she has recced this series as well. I feel like Murderbot and Breq could have a profitable conversation, really.
muccamukk: Juli on a ladder shelving library books, sunbeams giving him wings. (Heart of Thomas: Wings)
2017-05-31 01:42 pm
Entry tags:

Reading Wednesday

What I Just Finished Reading

Guest of Honor by Deborah Davis
A lot of this book felt like filler, going into eating habits of past presidents and various largely unrelated people, and the first third or so was pretty basic biography (probably more interesting to someone who had not just read Up from Slavery). However, once it hit the relationship between Washington and Roosevelt, it picked up quickly. There were lots of great original quotes from news media at the time, and details of the complicated interaction of race and celebrity.

I'm glad I read it so close to Washington's own book, as it presents him in a very different light than what was essential a sales pitch for his school. He was a lot more politically involved than he liked people to think. Of course being a Washington book, it can't help but take the odd shot at Du Bois (no one seems to like both), and was more in favour of Roosevelt than I've seen in other places.


Tiger in the Hot Zone (Shifter Agents #4) by Lauren Esker
Like the Dragon story, this one was more mystery adventure, and less romance, especially in the latter half. However, the romance was well done and I believed in the couple who were really sweet together, and what I really WANTED was a continuation of the arc plot from last book. Which I got in spades.

I liked both MC's. Their issues felt real to me, and affected how they acted, but weren't OTT melodramatic like some romances are. I really enjoyed watching them learning to trust each other and working out how they could be a couple when they're from such totally different sides of the tracks.

Also the revelations of the mystery were AWESOME. Total vote for more Valeria plot soon.

(I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)


A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder by Ma-Nee Chacaby, with Mary Louisa Plummer
So this was very well told, but also by nature of the story incredibly brutal (I switched to a book about North Korea for something less depressing). I would have liked more insight into what being two-spirit meant to Ma-Nee, but even without that her life was very interesting, and I liked how the book was put together. Really worth a read, but pretty well warnings for everything.


Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus
I'm not always into steampunk, but I appreciated how this one just handwaved everything science and went straight for a political thriller, which was very well done. There was a lot of action jammed into a 100-page novella, but the characters still felt fleshed out and I liked the shape of the world. Desmond, our hero, managed to get a fair bit of backstory and characterisation into relatively few info dumps, and most of the ones he included were meta commentary on storytelling itself, which was neat.


Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
Absolutely hilarious. I can see how it was adapted from a monologue, as the voice is so strong and the format is really fast-moving with lots of jokes and pictures. It took me a couple hours to read through. The more serious matter in the book (all of it really) is played pretty lightly, but no less touching for that. Of course, some of it is made more tragic in retrospect.


The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde
Interesting format and intense storytelling, but I'd probably had a longer book in the same world that wasn't as tragic. Especially given small spoiler )


All Monsters Must Die: An Excursion to North Korea by Magnus Bärtås, Fredrik Ekman, translated by Saskia Vogel
If you don't know much about North Korea (which I don't), this is a solid if somewhat whimisically organised introduction to the country's history and culture. It's set in two frames: a tour the authors went on, and the country's film industry, especially as it related to the kidnapping of two South Korean directors. As much as I might have appreciated something more straightforwardly chronological, I found this book very interesting, and it did answer most of my questions.


Black Like Us: A Century of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual African American Fiction edited by Don Weise
As with most anthologies, it's a mixed bag. The historical essays were great for setting up the context, but then the inclusion of stories written before 1950 was very slim, and not much more before 1980 either. I also wish there had been more short stories and fewer novel excerpts (especially ones depicting graphic rape and on-page gay bashing leading to death). However, I also found a lot of great new-to-me authors, and revisited some old favourites.


Also listened to that Peter Grant story that's free over at Audible, which was cute.

What I'm Reading Now
Library: The Ariadne Objective: The Underground War to Rescue Crete from the Nazis by Wes Davis, which is fine, but way, way too focused on the British officers, and not terribly interested in the Greeks.

E-book: Chalk by Paul Cornell, which is creepy as fuck.

What I'm Reading Next
I keep meaning to get to that latest Erin Bow novel.
muccamukk: Boromir with a blue filter. (LotR: Boromir Blue)
2017-05-03 04:08 pm

Reading Wednesday

What I Just Finished Reading
The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien, narrated by Christopher Lee
About 80% of my positive feelings about this are because of Christopher Lee reading the audiobook. He seemed to be having a good time, and I enjoyed listening to him. The other 20% is for a couple added characters and the general prettiness of Tolkein's writing. 0% is for Turin, who I've never liked, and this book makes even more unlikable. The entire story always struck me is completely pointless. I was never sure what the curse was meant to be? Was it just inflicting Turin on as many people as possible? The man had no redeeming features other than he was pretty and good in a fight, but all the decent characters kept getting in fights over him like he was the best thing ever. In any case, it was certainly a very effective curse. I don't know why Morgoth didn't just curse all his enemies and let them finish each other off.


Updraft (Bone Universe #1) by Fran Wilde, narrated by Khristine Hvam
Very different from the short stories I've read by Wilde (which tend to creepy), but still really enjoyable. I've never read a setting quite like this, and the details and practicalities of it seem very well thought out. I liked how the language shaped around the air world. The origins of the world aren't explained at all, but I hope future books will get more into what the towers are and where they came from.

The culture built on the world was shocking in its brutality. The contrast between the physical beauty of the place and the ruthlessness of the laws worked really well. As is usual for heroines of YA dystopias, our girl is the right person at the right place at the right time, but it worked for me here more than it often does.

Our Heroine was an interesting character. She was easy to identify with her ambitions and hopes, but was occasionally frustrating to read as she rarely seemed to think a proposition through and only felt moral quandaries when she came at them face to face. Which I suppose is not unlike many teenagers. She did seem to be learning by the end? (I'm not sure if this is an offshoot of an uncritical heroine or editing errors, but there seemed to be continuity errors where the same thing would occur to her for the first time more than once.)

Really looking forward to the next one.


Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington, narrated by Noah Waterman
This is essentially 100+ pages of pamphlet trying to raise funds for his school, and is thus relentlessly optimistic and positive. I think the only things he said he didn't like in the whole book were lynchings and unions.

I found Washington as he presents himself here somewhat difficult to relate to, but still found this book compelling. It's certainly an ode to bootstrapping and respectability politics, but on the other hand it's very hard to speak against the sincere effort the man put into doing as much good as possible, for as many as possible. At one point, he's asked what he does for fun, and he basically says that for fun he likes to get his work done early in the day so he can do more work later in the day. Which I believe. He seems to have married a series of workaholic women and produced with them an equal number of workaholic children. We hear very little about his interior life, though the sections about his anxiety and love of gardening were touching.

I'm very interested to read an outside look at his life, as so much of this book was positioning himself very deliberately in the political situation of 1900. Which was probably the most interesting part of the book, though I'm somewhat lacking on context.

(I'd queued up a bunch of these books for February, then ended up not listening to many of them.)


All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells
Our Hero in this is a pretty standard Wells character: The lost young person with out a family or home, who falls in with a new group of people and has to decide who they are in relation to their new circumstances. We saw it with Moon in the Raksura books, and all the way back to Cade in The Element of Fire. This book crams a lot of emotional journey and backstory into a very small space, but when we meet the Murderbot (no name, no gender), it's already in the middle of its story, already traumatised, newly free, it mostly just wants to hang out and watch tv, and not interact with people at all ever. Given my recent brushes with depression, boy do I feel that damn Murderbot. The secondary characters are pretty vague and I mostly couldn't keep them straight, but I think that was mostly a sign of how little the Murderbot cared about them.

I've heard a couple different opinions on where the story goes from there (I was spoiled on the ending going in). It's certainly a different place from where I would have thought it was going to go, based on having read a fair bit of Wells, but for me the ending worked. It especially resonated with my interaction with depression and coming out of depression. I'm interested to read the next one.

(ETA: SPOILERS for this in comments)


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. I'm somewhat stalling out as it's really bleak, but she's just gotten sober, so I hope the rest of her life will be less horrible.

Audio: Guest of Honor by Deborah Davis, about Booker T. Washington's dinner at the White House. Just started it, so far retreading Up From Slavery as context.


What I'm Reading Next
May continue my abandoned black history month reading and hit Souls of Black Folks on audio. Also library books.
muccamukk: Girl sitting on a forest floor, reading a book and surrounded by towers of more books. (Books: So Many Books)
2017-04-26 08:47 am
Entry tags:

Reading Wednesday

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)
2017-04-12 09:45 am
Entry tags:

Reading Wednesday

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)
2017-04-05 01:12 pm
Entry tags:

Reading Wednesday

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)
2017-03-30 05:30 pm

Adaptations

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)
2017-03-29 10:05 am

Reading Wednesday

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)
2017-03-22 08:41 am
Entry tags:

Reading Wednesday

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)
2017-02-08 05:49 pm
Entry tags:

Reading Wednesday

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)
2017-02-03 02:30 pm

Recs: Four things that made me smile last week.

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)
2017-02-01 11:42 am

Reading Wednesday

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)
2017-01-15 07:17 pm
Entry tags:

Talking Meme: Day Ten

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.