rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
( Apr. 14th, 2012 04:23 pm)
Please share opinions on any of these, should you be familiar with them:

Elegy for Iris, by John Bayley. Memoir by Iris Murdoch's husband, of their life together and her slow decline due to Alzheimer's. I'm sure it will be incredibly depressing, but a peek inside convinced me to buy it: it's really, really well-written.

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You: A Novel, by Peter Cameron. Mainstream YA novel, though it looks like it's borderline adult. I love the title, and the first page is in a similar style.

Night Gate: The Gateway Trilogy Book One and Winter Door: The Gateway Trilogy Book Two, by Isobelle Carmody. YA fantasy; the third book does not seem to exist, or at least not yet. Love the premise: a teenage girl whose best friends are her four dogs goes through a magical gateway into fantasyland, where her dogs are transformed into humans with similar personalities to their doggy selves. Links to inexpensive Kindle editions.

The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece (P.S.), by Edward Dolnick. Nonfiction about the brazen theft of "The Scream;" looks really fun. Discounted on Amazon.

Deathworld (Wildside Edition), by Harry Harrison. I am a sucker for "everything on this planet can kill you!" Only 99 cents on Kindle.

The Icarus Girl, by Helen Oyeyemi. Mainstream magic realism about a Nigerian/English girl with a creepy best friend. I'm guessing the best friend is ambiguously a spirit/folklore being/imaginary. I've heard good things about this.

Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language, by Katherine Russell Rich. (Currently discounted to $6.00.) Memoir by American woman who moves to Udaipur (a city in Rajasthan) to study Hindi. It looks like it pays a lot of attention to the process of learning a second language as an adult.

A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, by Ronald Takaki. A history of America in terms of its non-dominant groups: Asian-Americans, Irish-Americans, Jews, Indians, etc. I've read portions of this before, but not the whole thing. What I've read was well-written and detailed, and did a good job of pulling together many different perspectives to give a broad yet personal view of America.

Gentlemen's Alliance +, Vol. 1, by Arina Tanemura. Fluffy-looking shoujo manga. In return for a business loan of 50 million yen, the prestigious Kamiya family gave their daughter Haine away to the Otomiya family. Haine, now an Otomiya, is appointed to the student council of the exclusive Imperial Academy, a private school for the aristocracy. Even though Haine is of proper lineage to be on the council, she finds herself struggling to find her place among the many secrets of its elite members, especially those of the president who holds her heart--Shizumasa Togu, aka "the Emperor.
I need recommendations for books which are likely to appeal to an 11-year-old who likes sf, fantasy, and the Alex Rider series, AND to a 10-year-old who likes mysteries and Lemony Snicket. To clarify: a single book must appeal to BOTH kids.

On a completely different topic, I double-checked with my Queer Narrative professor, and got an okay to do a fictional therapy session with a queer character from a historical work. He said to just insert myself-as-therapist into their historical context. I am leaning toward one of the heroines in Sarah Waters' Fingersmith. Lots of issues regarding social narratives, personal "stories," "problem-saturated narratives," queerness, and "madness" there! (I could also counsel them as a couple, but we haven't yet gotten into couple's counseling so I don't feel on firm ground with that.)
rachelmanija: (Fishes: I do not see why the sex)
( Nov. 30th, 2011 12:32 pm)
[Poll #1799574]

Final paper is looming terrifyingly on the horizon. I have limited time this week, and it is due Monday. I have widely varying knowledge on the topics I listed on the poll, but I would have to do substantial research for any of them. So if anyone has tips like, "This one slim volume is the single best resource on the soul-figure/asexuality/fisting which can be read in a short period of time," please go for it! (These are not all the possible topics. They're drawn from a much longer list, whittled down considerably by factors like lack of interest and the phrase "object relations," which in my very short experience so far tends to point to excessively eye-glazing articles.)

I got so frazzled last week that I misread the due date for the final paper for another class, and madly wrote and turned it in yesterday... a week early. I guess that turned out to be a good thing, all things considered.

Also, I have to register for classes tomorrow and am worried that I won't be able to get into the classes I am most dying to take, now that I know who the best professors are.

Given my current state of stress-driven absent-mindedness, I should probably mention now, since it randomly popped into my mind, that there is a new Sarah Tolerance book out! I have my own copy of The Sleeping Partner: A Sarah Tolerance Mystery, and am saving it for the winter break, when I will have more relaxed time to read. Also, Sherwood Smith's Blood Spirits (Coronets and Steel), sequel to Coronets and Steel, is out! I read it in manuscript, and it is excellent. Both series will satisfy all your "women who fight with swords amidst a background of history and intrigue" needs.

ETA: Okay, I'm doing fisting. I found the Pat Califia essay I had recalled. It's called "Gay Men, Lesbians, and Sex," and it's worth reading. On Google Books. If anyone has further good fisting resources, online or offline, keep them coming!
Can you please recommend me books on sex/couples therapy and/or male sexuality which are a) not too densely academic - literate and thoughtful pop psychology is fine - and are neither sexist nor heterocentric? Trans-friendly/non-cis-centric would be great too, but I realize that may be even harder to find in pop psych.

I already have Hanne Blank's Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Hetrosexuality on my radar, but I think it's not quite what I'm looking for, for this purpose. (I have not yet read it, but look forward to it immensely.) Ditto The Guide to Getting It On.
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
( Oct. 17th, 2011 08:50 am)
Like I have time to read MORE BOOKS. However, when I dropped by the library to return something, I saw that they were having a book sale…

Please comment if you’ve read or heard of any of these and want to prioritize my reading, snark, recommend, say, “Oh hell no,” etc.

Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America, by Margot Adler. Nonfiction on Wicca and neo-paganism in the US. I’ve read it before, I enjoyed it, I wanted to own it.

The Ghost Road (William Abrahams), by Pat Barker. Book 3 of the WWI trilogy; I will read Book 2 first.

The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (Vintage), by Bruno Bettelheim. I read this ages ago and figured it was time to read it again.

Surviving Madness: A Therapist's Own Story (Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies), by Betty Berzon. Memoir by a “psychiatric patient, groundbreaking therapist, and gay pioneer.”

Ghost in the Water, by Edward Chitham. Puffin mystery; I often like obscure Puffin British kids’ books.

The Princess and the Hound, by Mette Harrison. I have been meaning to read this for ages.

A Taste of China: The Definitive Guide to Regional Cooking (Pavilion Classic Cookery), by Ken Hom. Memoir/cookbook/history of regional Chinese cooking.

Kingdom of the Winds Volume 1 (v. 1), by Kimjin. Manhwa set in a fantasy ancient Korea.

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing. Classic survival nonfiction which I have not yet read.

Tales from The Red Rose Inn and Other Plays, by Don Nigro. This guy’s plays were always being advertised on Samuel French editions of other plays I was reading, and I always felt vaguely curious about him.

ETA: Oh, drat, I realized that I actually do know who he is. Due to vague curiosity, years ago I read his Seascape with Sharks and Dancer, which featured the original Manic Pixie Dream Girl, subtype Her Mental Illness Makes Her Beautiful. If I recall correctly, the hero fishes her out of the ocean after a suicide attempt and feeds her hot chocolate with marshmallows, which she obnoxiously adorably insists on calling "mushroons." (sic.) It turns out that her cathartically related Dark Trauma was that she used to live on an intersection where fluffy kittens constantly got squashed by cement trucks. And then, for bonus topical relevance and preachiness points, there was an abortion. Because she was Too Damaged to Bring New Life Into the World.

Empress of the World, by Sarah Ryan. Teen lesbians at summer camp for gifted kids. This premise could only be improved if they had psychic powers.

Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin. Narrated by a dead girl. I usually dislike posthumous fantasy – it tends toward the soggily spiritual – but I liked the excerpt on the back cover.
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!)
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]
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.
[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.
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?


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags