This book, one of the required texts for my 10:00 AM Monday Human Sexuality class, suggests that the class, while possibly lacking in academic rigor, will not lack in amusement value. I am picturing a cross between a 70s encounter group and a "Let's all draw our vulvas, watch a video of women ejaculating, and then make an offering to the Great Goddess!" workshop.

Its arrival this week was perfect timing, given that the month to date was the sort which, to completely misquote Emma Bull's War for the Oaks, left me grasping for straws of comfort like, "No matter what else happens today, at least I still like my clitoris."

This is the sort of book which has an anatomical drawing of a clitoris, and a woman pointing to it and exclaiming "WOW!"

The book has some interesting information about clitoral anatomy (the little button part is just the tip of the iceberg; a large portion of the female genitalia is made up of clitoral tissue and structures.) But most of the book is basically, "Wow! A clitoris!"

There is a long chapter on female ejaculation, in which women enthusiastically describe their gushing orgasms, with slightly terrifying details like, "And then I had to mop the floor!" The author then notes that you too may be able to teach yourself to ejaculate, if you don't already. Personally, after I am done having solo or partnered sex, the last thing I want to do is mop the floor.

Despite some dubious history and a cringe-worthy discussion of the Tao and Tantra, this book is mostly harmless. I expect it would be delightfully eye-opening to any women who aren't already familiar with their anatomy or the possible range of their sexual response. But for a graduate course... seriously? This is the best you can do? If anyone knows of more academically rigorous or up-to-date or more culturally sensitive books on female sexuality, please rec them to me, and I will rec them to the school.

I also boggle that this apparent typo in chapter one didn't get corrected through many editions: From as far back as the Kinsey report in 1953, intercourse has not been found not to be the most effective means for women to experience the full range of their sexual response, and yet, penis-in-vagina sex remains the ne plus ultra of sexual activity.

And I boggle more at this: During full-blown sexual response, clitoral tissues expand enormously. The erectile tissues fill with blood, causing the clitoris to protrude enough, as one woman put it, "to fill my cupped hand."

The Clitoral Truth: The Secret World at Your Fingertips

Hilariously pornographic cheery illustrations below cut )
In my recent review of Zohra Greenhalgh's quirky fantasy Contrarywise, I wondered what had happened to her. She wrote one flawed but unusual and promising novel, a sequel which got a more mixed reception, and then seemed to have vanished off the face of the Earth. One of my commenters wondered if "Zohra Greenhalgh" was a pseudonym and if, perhaps, we now know her by another name.

I also wonder about Felicity Savage. She wrote three very strange, energetic, decadent fantasy/sf novels, than vanished. I didn't really like them, but she clearly had talent, and I expected more... which never came.

Is Meredith Ann Pierce still writing? I haven't seen anything from her in more than ten years.

Whose books do you remember, and wonder what happened to the authors? Do you see names here whose stories you know and can tell? (Without revealing any secrets anyone's trying to keep, of course!)
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rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
( Sep. 3rd, 2011 05:20 pm)
I brought some books with me, and also poked through the parents' library, which turned up some oddities. Please vote for whatever you think will be either good, or produce an amusing review.

[Poll #1775599]
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
( Jun. 18th, 2011 03:32 pm)
I am working on a boring task which requires me to be planted at my computer for a while. Let's play an amusing game so I don't go mad while working on it.

Recommend something to me that you think I'll like. It could be a book, a movie, a TV show, music, food, a place to visit, or an activity, and tell me why you think I'll like it. (If it's a book or show, please check my tags to see if I'm already familiar with it.)

In turn, I will recommend something to you. It can either be the same sort of thing (ie, also a food) or something you ask me to rec (ie, "Please recommend a YA fantasy novel with a female protagonist who isn't a warrior or a wizard. Ideally, she will have an animal companion who isn't magical and doesn't speak.") Obviously, the better I know you, the more likely I will be to rec something which you're not already familiar with, and which will appeal.
It is so fun being able to download books and carry them with me in a device which turns on instantly and is lighter than most paperbacks! I used to read sf where people had portable pocket libraries and be so envious. I am probably getting more enjoyment out of my Kindle than I would out of the much-mourned rocket cars.

Most of E. Nesbit's fantasy is available for free, including Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet, and The Story of the Amulet. Classic fantasy, still quite funny and readable, though attitudes about race, gender, class, and other political issues were in many ways typical for an English person writing in 1900. (In other ways she was quite radical, as she was a socialist and had an open marriage in 1880.) The Story of the Amulet, in particular, has some scenes of remarkable power and beauty. "We'll sail her straight for the Dragon Rocks."

There are a bunch of versions of the Mahabharata, though unfortunately I'm not familiar with most of the ones available on Kindle. I have to link Krishna Dharma's Mahabharata, though, because it has a highly indignant comment protesting the author's anti-Kaurava and pro-Pandava bias, noting, "I mean, I'm not saying the Pandavas weren't great, but come on! The Kauravas are villified to a point where it's annoying to read the tirades against them. For instance, we always hear "That sinful blind king and his foolish brain-dead evil horrible unintelligent demonic son Duryodhana will surely reap the consequences of their actions, surely destiny is all-powerful, it must all be arranged by providence." The comment was written by none other than Duryodhana! I had not realized that he had an Amazon account.

I also note Wren Journeymage (Wren Series), by Sherwood Smith, sequel to her Wren to the Rescue books, available only in e-book format. $4.99.

Sherwood has got quite a lot of books on Kindle, some only available as e-books, some simply good deals. For instance, her classic Crown Duel and A Posse of Princesses at $3.99, and a revised and polished re-launch of her space opera Exordium (with Dave Trowbridge), The Phoenix in Flight (Exordium), at $4.99.

While browsing Suzanne Brockmann's titles, I discovered this: When Tony Met Adam (Short Story). A new gay romance! I really admire her willingness to push the boundaries of the normally exclusively-straight genre romance market.

There are some nice deals ($4.90) on Rosemary Sutcliff titles I haven't read, Frontier Wolf, The Mark of the Horse Lord, and Knight's Fee. Has anyone read any of these? How are they?

Finally, Sarah Rees Brennan's The Demon's Surrender (Demon's Lexicon) is out! Though I plan to buy it in print.
Via [personal profile] telophase, Georgette Heyer's Cotillion is free on Kindle, no doubt for a very limited time. It's one of my favorites of hers, very funny and unusual for its genre. (Please don't spoil in comments.)

Also on Kindle, some nice deals on Marjorie Liu's cracktastic romance series about a detective agency of psychics, shapeshifters, etc. You can read my reviews of individual novels by clicking on the tag for her. I haven't read the latest, In the Dark of Dreams: A Dirk & Steele Novel, yet, but it's on Kindle for $1.99. Shadow Touch: A Dirk & Steele Novel, the one with the angsty psychometrist who meets a sad psychic healer while imprisoned in a laboratory (and then they take a train across Russia with a were-dolphin), is selling for $2.99. Eye of Heaven, the one with the Iranian-American electricity-powered hero and the lioness shapeshifter heroine who investigate an organ-legging ring while she continues her day job as a lion-tamer at a circus, is $4.99.

But I also frequent used bookshops and thrift stores! The latter are especially good sources for completely obscure books. My latest haul:

Beginner's Luck, by Oriel Malet (1952). Looks Noel Streatfeild-ish, about siblings in a pantomime troupe.

Captured, by Beverly Jenkins. African-American historical romance between "the most notorious privateer ever to command the high seas" and the "stunning slave" he rescues from a British frigate.

Under The Southern Cross, by Claire McNab. Lesbian romance.

THE DEADLY AFFAIR aka Call for the Dead, by John Le Carre. Very short George Smiley spy novel.

Tightrope Men, by Desmond Bagley. Suspense novel. I think I vaguely heard of the author? I grabbed it because I like "I woke up with amnesia" novels.



Anyone read or heard of any of these?
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
( Jun. 4th, 2011 09:25 am)
Amazon is having a 99 cent - $2.99 sale on selected Kindle books. Here's a few that may be of particular interest:

Predators I Have Known, by Alan Dean Foster. Yes, the Pip and Flinx guy. Based on the sample chapter, this is an awesomely and absurdly alliterative account of real-world predators he has known, as he happily traveled around the world to get a look at tigers, sharks, etc. I have a weakness for that sort of thing, and bought it. $1.99.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris's nonfiction book, Smart on Crime. She has an interesting background - her family is Indian and Jamaican, and important politicians on the Indian side - and the sample chapter is well-written and thoughtful. Will probably be depressing, as she is in favor of prevention and the American system as a whole seems to have zero interest in that, but I got it anyway as she seems to have some ideas I haven't heard before. $2.99.

Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer. For the love of God, skip the horrible anti-Semitic pawnbroker chapter. Otherwise, a really funny romantic comedy with great characterization. $1.99.

The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy. I have an enormous, slightly guilty fondness for this lush, engrossing, often very funny, and utterly cracktastic Southern Gothic epic about a family whose eccentricity, dysfunctionality, and mental illness goes so far over the top that it reaches the stratosphere. The movie doesn't really do it justice. Contains some racist characters, rape, self-harm, and many other disturbing things. Also contains some really excellent food porn. $2.99. Cut for GIANT SPOILER )

ETA: Those Who Hunt the Night, by Barbara Hambly. Really excellent vampire novel for 99 cents... but comments say there are huge formatting problems. Caveat emptor. I'm mostly mentioning it to alert everyone that she wrote a third novel in the series, Blood Maidens, which I did not know of till just now. Very exciting!
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
( Aug. 24th, 2010 05:28 pm)
This being said, I have not forgotten that I owe reviews! They are automatically on my list.

[Poll #1610328]
Tags:
As those of you who helped out with [profile] carefaithhope will recall, [profile] faithhopetricks is an awesome person whose family has severe health problems, a severe lack of money, and, because they live in the USA, very little ability to access needed health care. The money raised last time was extremely helpful, and her husband in particular is doing much better. However, there are still ongoing health issues and expensive medications to buy.

I am holding a read-a-thon to raise money for medical expenses for [profile] faithhopetricks, her husband, and their cats. I got this idea from [personal profile] karenhealey, and am stealing some of her wording.

What It Is

On July 2-3 (this Thursday-Friday), I will hold a read-a-thon, in which I will read in every moment I am not sleeping! I will post on books as I go to some extent, but may save some write-ups for later on the theory that there will be more enjoyable commenting and discussing if the posts are parceled out more.

How It Works

You may comment to sponsor me for a certain amount per book read. When the read-a-thon is done, I will count up the books and tell you how much your donation will be. You may set a cap on the donation total, regardless of the number of books read. ie, "I offer $20 per book, to a limit of $100."

Just as a benchmark, I can probably read 3-5 relatively short books in a day if I'm not doing anything else. This is based on my experience on airplanes.

What are the books?

Whether or not you are sponsoring me, you may nominate books for me to read. Sponsors will, of course, get priority, but this will also depend on availability, as I'll mostly be getting the books from the library. So sponsors should consider nominating several books in order of preference.

NOTE: YA and/or relatively short/not extremely dense books preferred. I don't actually read very fast, so shorter is better. Rereads are fine, but no books I've already reviewed online. I am not limiting this to authors of any particular identity, but I would like to read more books by LBGT authors and/or authors of color, so those nominations will be given extra consideration.

As some of you have derived great amusement from in the past, these do not have to be good books.

If you want to sponsor me, comment on this post with an amount per book and the book or books you wish to nominate.
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[livejournal.com profile] oyceter and I are going to Taipei, Xian, and Hong Kong this December! I'm so excited! It will be my first visit to Hong Kong and also to mainland China!

I need three sets of book recs. NO HARDCOVERS, and please check my tags to be sure I haven't already read it.

1. Just anything you think I would enjoy. I am especially looking for fun (ie, not about the Holocaust) fiction with Jewish, LGBT, and/or people of color as protagonists.

2. Does anyone have a recommendation for readable histories of China? Preferably by Chinese authors. I am starting from a position of near-total ignorance. Each book does not have to cover everything.

3. Sooooo, my last long plane trip I read a horrendous yet vastly entertaining awesomely bad book, Daughter of the Blood, which gave rise to the tag you see below. I think this is an excellent tradition which I ought to continue. Please rec horrendous yet entertaining novels which you would enjoy seeing me react to. I am thinking of Flowers in the Attic. That's about incestuous vampire twins locked in an attic, right?
I am in the mood for pop nonfiction on any topic, but I am especially interested in medicine, biological sciences, sociology and psychology, and adventure/disaster/survival. Please rec me.

Books I have already read: Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science and Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance (fantastic; highly recommended), most books by Jon Krakauer of which I especially enjoyed Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster, Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains, all of Malcolm Gladwell of which my favorite was Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why (great, but avoid the sequel), Freakonomics (shallow and dumb), the How We Live/How We Die books (Die is better), and mamy books by Jerome Groopman, Oliver Sacks, Sharman Apt Russell (Anatomy Of A Rose: Exploring The Secret Life Of Flowers is excellent), Diane Ackerman (I don't like her), Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II (excellent), Virgin: The Untouched History (smart, funny, and genuinely eye-opening.) But that sort of thing.

I'm basically looking for books that are accessible but not stupid, gripping, well-written or at least not poorly written, and informative. I would especially enjoy books in the adventure/disaster/survival genre by and/or about women.

If you rec, please check my sidebar to make sure you're not reccing books I've already reviewed here.
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The bookshop had a Gothic section! Complete with a series with titles like Alice, the Desperate and Ilene, the Superstitious. There was a complete list on the inside cover, but sadly the shop did not have Rachel, the Possessed.

Every single Gothic had a cover with a girl and a house. Some variations included a nurse, a doctor, and a house; a girl, a zombie Abraham Lincoln-esque figure, and a house; and, in the exoticized ethnicity category, a girl and the Taj Mahal, and a girl and a casa (according to the back cover.)

I now own...

The Satan Stone, by Louise Osborne. The great isolated mansion of Penetralia loomed bizarre and forbidding...

(There's no way that isn't deliberate, right? Right?)

Return to Darkness, by Willo David Roberts, author of many charming children's books including the seminal psychic kids novel The Girl With The Silver Eyes. Her Gothic heroine is a private duty nurse.

The Veil of Night by Lydia Joyce. Recced by Oyce as a sweet revisionist Gothic. Some desires flourish only in darkness...

Seimaden # 1 by Higuri You. What becomes of a man who spends his life in the underworld for a love that lasts beyond the grave?? This sounds Gothic, but it's actually manga, and very '80s-looking manga at that.

Two children's books, The Battle for Castle Cockatrice by Gerald Durrell and The Tiger's Apprentice by Laurence Yep.

Anyone ever read any of these?
I notice that many people have gotten curious about the original series after seeing the movie. There are also some quite good novels, many by writers known for original sf/fantasy. Here's a brief, non-comprehensive guide:

The Spirit of Wonder

Diane Duane did the best job of capturing the joy I felt when watching the series. You want to serve on her Enterprise – and her Enterprise probably has a place for you. Her crew is full of aliens, and her stories are all about the longing to breathe in the air of a strange new world.

Spock’s World intersperses a mission to Vulcan with a series of heartbreaking vignettes from Vulcan’s history; the alternation of the intense emotional content of the historical chapters with the more contained emotions of legal trial in the main story works beautifully. Spock's World (Star Trek)

In The Wounded Sky, the main character is a female giant transparent spider physicist, and the story is about the ultimate in exploring strange new worlds, a journey both inward and outward. Poignant and beautiful. The Wounded Sky

Enterprise: The First Adventure, by Vonda N. McIntyre. An epic of alien contact, featuring nice roles for all the main characters (even Janice Rand, who is mentored by Uhura), plus backstage comedy via an interstellar circus (!) and a very angsty and interesting original Vulcan character. Her new crew realistically fails to mesh, then gradually bonds; her aliens and descriptions of zero-g are lovely. Star Trek Enterprise The First Adventure

John M. Ford, as always a category unto himself

The Final Reflection
might as well be an original sf novel, as most of the characters are Klingons – and much more sophisticated and interesting Klingons than actually appeared on the show. A beautifully written and powerful story about power, politics, identity, and the costs and rewards of the choices we make. I can’t be more specific because I have no idea what was going on for a great deal of the story (let me know if you do!), but that’s true of most of Ford’s novels. The Final Reflection (Star Trek, No 16)

How Much For Just The Planet? A musical comedy. No, really. No, really. And it’s actually funny! It’s kind of a parody, but a very fond one. Kirk and the rest end up on a planet in which everyone acts like they’re in some old movie. Uhura lands in a film noir, and Kirk in a chorus line. There are hilarious film strips and an attack milkshake. Oh, just read it. How Much for Just the Planet? (Star Trek, No 36)

What if the Series Hadn't Been Totally Sexist?

My Enemy, My Ally,
by Diane Duane. A Romulan woman commander develops a prickly friendship with Kirk when they’re forced to adventure together for reasons of political intrigue. Lots of convincing detail about Romulan culture. My Enemy, My Ally There are sequels that aren't quite as good.

The Entropy Effect, by Vonda N. McIntyre. Time travel, Angsty!Fencing!Sulu, cool alien characters, several cool original female characters, and a rather slashy Kirk/Spock relationship: what’s not to love? The Entropy Effect (Star Trek)

Uhura’s Song, by Janet Kagan. This is another one that’s almost an original sf novel. When a plague hits, the cure involves going on a quest with a bunch of catlike aliens on their home world. There’s an original female character whom a lot of people call a Mary Sue, but all I can say is that I only wish Mary Sue was usually portrayed as Buckaroo Banzai, Trickster Archetype. Sweet and fun. Uhura's Song (Star Trek No 21)

Crossroad, by Barbara Hambly. A remarkably dark and often darkly funny story involving Lovecraftian horrors in spaaaaace. Christine Chapel is a major character, and her (non) relationship with Spock is developed convincingly and poignantly. Crossroad (Star Trek, Book 71)

Not My First Choice, But Worthwhile

Star Trek, Log One,
by Alan Dean Foster. Based on the animated series, this is nothing really special but nicely written.

The other novels by Barbara Hambly and Diane Duane are worth reading if you enjoy the series, as are Jean Lorrah’s. I note that Laurence Yep, Peter David, Joe Haldeman and Greg Bear all wrote novels for the original series; I don’t remember them, but they should be at least decent. I vaguely remember enjoying A. C. Crispin’s books.

Run Fast, Run Far

All the novels by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath are unreadable, though the “Phoenix” ones do have Kirk naked (and tortured) for most of the book. Avoid, even if that’s a selling point.

The Tears of the Singers, by Melinda Snodgrass. Oh God. Uhura meets a tousle-haired, temperamental asshole of a hot genius musician with a heart condition that will kill him if he gets excited. A planet of baby seal aliens are being clubbed to death by Klingons for the jewels they weep at the moment of death, only their song is holding the universe together. Kirk drafts the musician because he’s the only one who can translate the song, and he dies operatically in Uhura’s arms after saving the world. A baby seal alien spontaneously sheds a single perfect tear of woe, which Uhura makes into a necklace. The Tears of the Singers (Star Trek, No 19)

Did anyone read Spock, Messiah? Was it as dire as it sounds? SPOCK, MESSIAH! (Star Trek)
I realize that my last inquiry had a flaw: I am stuck at home and limited to the books I already own. But luckily, I had a period of burning out on romance and so have plenty that I haven't read yet!

A brief guide to my tastes in romance:

I like angst, competent women, PTSD if it's done reasonably accurately, crack (angels, dragons, etc), banter, action, bondage and light S&M, and bad-ass men if they're not jerks.

I do not like leading men who are jerks, wilting heroines, pregnancies, men bossing around women, and babies.

Clearly, my ideal would be a cracktastic story with lots of action, a tough heroine, a bad-ass hero, and her tying him up. Sadly, I only know of one such novel, and I've already read it. (Laura Kinsale's Shadowheart.) But if anyone knows of any other examples, please rec and I'll get to them when I can leave the house! (Gay, lesbian, and poly examples welcome.)

Based on that, which of these would I enjoy?

[Poll #1384736]
I am sick in bed and reading romance novels. If you love me, rec me something angsty. Does not have to be genre romance, just contain a romance and angst. I've already read the Lymond Chronicles, Gaudy Night, and all or most of Emma Bull, Laura Kinsale, Suzanne Brockmann, Lois McMaster Bujold, Ellen Kushner, and Marjorie Liu. If it's a famous work of fantasy or sf, I have probably already read it.

Create your own romantic hero/heroine below! I leave it up to you whether your choices reflect your actual fantasies, a character you'd like to read about, or just what you think would be most hilarious.

Jewel-colored eyes, metallic skin, poetic hair, and secret identities )
Help me prioritize my to-read stacks! Please comment to tell me which I should read first and why, and if there's anything I should avoid and why.

Note: This is just the first poll.

Other note: I have already read and enjoyed other books by Butler, Myers, Johnson, and Liu.

[Poll #1342964]
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
( Jan. 7th, 2009 05:11 pm)
The Borders at the Promenade had a 40% going out of business sale. People were rushing about with armfuls of books in a manner which made one think of predatory or carrion-eating life forms, like vultures and sharks.

I ran into an old friend and forced him to buy one of my very favorite books from last year (now out in paperback), Atul Gawande's Better, ostensibly an account of how excellence in medicine is achieved or not, but also a fascinating psychological and sociological analysis of how individuals and groups achieve success or failure. Unlike most works that supposedly provoke thought, this one actually does. I found it very inspirational, and also an extremely engaging read. Highly recommended.

For myself, I scavenged the manga shelves, sadly largely picked-over by the time I arrived, and got myself some volumes I'd been missing in series I'm already reading or have finished reading: Angel Sanctuary, Sand Chronicles, Afterschool Nightmare, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Hikaru no Go.

I also bought the first two volumes of High School Debut, which I have not yet read.

Remaining book purchases:

Sick Girl, by Amy Silverstein. Memoir of a woman who gets a heart transplant at the age of 24; this does not solve her health problems, but rather leaves her chronically and severely ill. Recced by [livejournal.com profile] branna. I read this last night. A defiantly non-inspirational illness memoir, well-written, informative, and refreshing in its lack of "I am so glad that I have a chronic illness because it taught me so much about life and brought me closer to my family."

Breathe My Name, by R. A. Nelson. A YA novel, apparently about a girl adopted after her mother went insane. I liked Nelson's previous novel Teach Me, which had somewhat cliched subject matter but a great voice.

The Caliph's House: a Year in Casablanca, by Tahir Shah. Travel nonfiction. A British family moves to Casablanca, into a house reputed to be inhabited by jinns.

Eating India: an odyssey into the food and culture of the land of spices, by Chitrita Banerji. Food/travel/history nonfiction. Looks both informative and fun.

Early India: From the origins to AD 1300, by Romila Thapar. Looks informative and not fun. But hopefully a good resource.

The Last Mughal: the fall of a dynasty, Delhi 1857, by William Dalrymple. I've read a lot about this period but not from this angle (focused on the last Mughal Emperor.) I like Dalrymple's writing style, especially in his other book, City of Djinns, that alternated a memoir of his life in modern Delhi with a history of the city.

Babur Nama. The journal of the Mughal emperor Babur, beginning when he inherited a kingdom at the age of twelve in 1494 and continuing through his rule in India. Random flip-throughs revealed poisoning attempts, a resolve to try wine for the first time, battles, and other fun stuff.
.

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