likeadeuce: (genius)
([personal profile] likeadeuce Mar. 22nd, 2017 10:41 pm)
What are you currently reading?

Getting back in the reading groove a little --

Finishing up Underground Airlines by Ben Winters on audiobook. It's sort of a noir/mystery set in an alternate history where the US Civil War never happened and slavery continues to exist in a few Southern states. The world-building is interesting, and the author seems to have a strong understanding of politics and history that makes me think, "OK, sure, that could have happened." It's tightly plotted with lots of twists, and while I wish the character work were a little stronger, the narrative voice is very good. Also, if anybody's read this, spoilery question )

I've read a little bit of Version Control by Dexter Palmer, a near future novel which I understand has an interesting sci fi premise but that I won't figure out what it is until later in the book. I like it so far, lots of possibilities.

And I was attempting to do a 'quick' re-read/re-skim of Sister Citizen, by Melissa V. Harris-Perry, which I recommended for my social justice book club based on having read it a couple years ago. But it's both so absorbing and so well-argued that it's not especially skimmable; hopefully I'll get through most of it before Saturday.

What did you recently finish reading?

I somehow missed Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game when I was a kid, noticed my library had it on audiobook. I enjoyed this. . .it's fun and a bit silly, with a large and potentially cartoonish cast of characters, but there turns out to be a lot more subtlety to the character portraits and relationships than it seems at first. Turtle Wexler for president.

What do you think you’ll read next?

If I ever finish what I'm working on, I need to get back to All the Birds in the Sky. From there I guess I'll see.
lebateleur: Sweet Woodruff (Default)
([personal profile] lebateleur Mar. 23rd, 2017 02:46 am)
What I Just Finished Reading

Nothing this week either, unless you count a ton of newspapers and magazines.

What I Am Currently Reading

Japan and Korea – Frank Carpenter
We've moved on to the government, which is particularly interesting because it's a contemporary account and I'm used to reading postwar histories.

The Strangler Vine – M.J. Carter
Finished except for the historical afterword (which in Carter's novels is nigh indistinguishable from her dialogue).

10% Happier – Dan Harris
This is the second time I've read this book and it holds up quite well indeed. Harris' narrative is honest and funny, and along with Batchelor, his explanation of the mechanics of meditation is as good as any you'll find in a secular volume.

The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
It's hard to enjoy a fantasy set in the Islamic State, which this novel essentially is, with its public hangings, drownings, exsanguinations, and torture-as-public-entertainment. Then we have the well-respected religious leaders who are actually frauds fleecing their gullible congregations for all they're worth (realistic, yes, but I want fantasy from my fantasy reading). Then we have the titular Locke Lamora and his gang of Gentleman Bastards, who rob the rich so they can...pile the money up in their hidey-hole because they have precisely zero use for it. And this makes them different from the obnoxiously privileged elites they're robbing, how? It's as if Lynch expects me to cheer for these characters merely because they are the main characters...but so far they're just as odious as everyone else they've encountered. I hope some character development is in store in the latter two-thirds of the book.

Don't Be A Jerk – Brad Warner
Warner is currently giving his take on the Bendowa and where it fits in Dogen's overall corpus. I'm still very much enjoying this one.

The Light and Shadow Tarot – Brian Williams & Michael Goepferd
Working through the twos and aces this week.

What I'm Reading Next
If my delivery isn't delayed (and I hope, hope, hope it's not) Carter's The Devil's Feast.
thistleingrey: (Default)
([personal profile] thistleingrey Mar. 22nd, 2017 07:16 pm)
Mirok Li, Der Yalu fließt, trans. as The Yalu Flows by H. A. Hammelmann (1956): as a young man, Li was instructed by his mother to flee north across the nearby Amnok River (a.k.a. Yalu) and escape the Japanese police, probably circa 1920. He never returned to Korea; from China he made his way to Bavaria and worked as a doctor until his death in 1950. Besides this book, which is a remembrance of his childhood---it ends quite abruptly after his river-crossing into Manchuria---Li left scraps of a second book, which Hammelmann describes as a reflection upon juxtaposing European life with his Eastern upbringing. Think about it for a moment: born around the time when the Japanese government began occupying Korea, departed shortly after the March 1 movement---and then, somehow, sufficiently at home in a Bavarian village that people came to him for medical consultation amidst the tumult of the Third Reich.

A whole paragraph of my notes-while-reading was eaten by something, probably OneNote, so I no longer have the romanized names that caught my eye. "Mirok" is 미륵, more usually Mirŭk or Mireuk, as in the usual Korean rendering of Maitreya, the Buddha; his father's given name is rendered "Kamtsal," and due to Li's childhood training in classical Chinese, I'm not sure what to do with that Wade-Gilesish ts- as filtered through German. Chŏl, maybe? Two more bits have floated up while I type---Li's father asks him once whether he has heard of the great Korean poet "Kim-Saggaz," and Li's teaching includes the works of "Mang-dsa"---that's Menzius auf deutsch, usually Mencius or Mengzi in English.

I can see why people place this and Younghill Kang's The Grass Roof together, but Kang's text is almost painfully satirical, whereas Li's is almost painfully earnest, too earnest to be much truer than Kang's. Li's account is nonetheless nearer the technically fictional yet memoirish Richard E. Kim's Lost Names (1970), as expected.

I really wish that more writers besides these men and Park Wan-suh (her preferred romanization) had felt empowered to express themselves in semi-autobiographical writing (with a visibility level enabling translation into a language I can read). It's selfish, but seriously, they're all from yangban families---why don't we have a wider representation of voices? At this point, if we don't, we won't---they're dead---unless someone's writings are discovered late.
viridian5: (Default)
([personal profile] viridian5 Mar. 22nd, 2017 10:09 pm)
I was right about the identity of David's parasite.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (cosmia)
([personal profile] skygiants Mar. 22nd, 2017 09:21 pm)
After reading Peter Beagle's Summerlong and being Tragically Unimpressed, I made my book club read Tamsin just so I could remember the Beagles I have loved before.

Tamsin is very much a Beagle I have loved before. As a teenager it was probably my favorite Beagle, even moreso than The Last Unicorn, just because I identified so hard with sulky, obstreperous Jenny Gluckstein, a Jewish New York teenager who moves to Dorset and promptly falls head-over-heels for a beautiful eighteenth-century ghost named Tamsin Willoughby.

I described the book this way in book club. "But I don't want to oversell you on how gay it is," I added, worriedly. "I mean I haven't reread it since I was a teenager. It definitely might not be as gay as I remember. Maybe it isn't gay at all, and I was just projecting!" assured, this book is very gay. We're not entirely sure if Beagle knows just how gay it is? There are numerous moments where Jenny describes in great detail the tingly feelings that Tamsin's quirky smile and vanilla smell and tiny ghost freckles make her feel, and then adds something like "I guess I'll probably feel that way about a boy someday!" Will you, Jenny? WILL YOU?

(I mean, maybe she will, bisexuality definitely an option, I'm just saying. The book is first-person, with the device of being an explanation of Everything That Went Down from the perspective of several years later for Jenny's friend Meena to read; the structure makes a whole lot more sense if one just assumes Jenny and Menna are by this point dating. Meena is in the book plenty! Thematically paralleled with Tamsin, even! Meena's jealousy of the time Jenny spends mysteriously disappearing to hang out with a ghost and Jenny's jealousy of Meena's tragic crush on The Boy She Pines For Across The Choir Benches is a whole thing!)

So yes, in retrospect, it turns out I still love Tamsin - even though, in retrospect, reading it now, it's a super weirdly-structured book. The first solid third of the book is all Jenny's SULKY OBSTREPEROUS AGONIZING TEENAGE FEELINGS about leaving New York, which is fine, I guess, except it introduces half a dozen characters that are super important to Jenny in New York and will never be important again. Then another character who's incredibly important to the finale of the book shows up maybe three chapters before the end, and Jenny's like "oh yeah, I forgot to mention her? But she's been here the whole time, having weird interactions with me the whole time, let's just pretend I've been talking about it, OK? OK."

Still, Jenny's amused-embarrassed voice looking back at all the time she spent as a hideously embarrassing teenager continues to ring about as true for me as it did when I myself was a hideously embarrassing teenager. I think I'm always going to love Tamsin for that.

(Also the tragic feline love story of between Jenny's actual factual cat and Tamsin's imperturbable ghost cat continues to delight.)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
([personal profile] sophia_sol Mar. 22nd, 2017 09:41 pm)
Sixth in the Confederation series. Not bad! Less Craig content than the last book, which automatically gives it a step up in my opinion. Craig is a lot more palatable when he's just one of the team and sort of background emotional support for Torin, instead of being an integral part of the plot.

Read more... )
ladyofleithian: (darkpilot: battle)
([personal profile] ladyofleithian Mar. 22nd, 2017 09:04 pm)
 In which Poe and Ben return to Coruscant to get debriefed for their first mission together.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. 

Author's Notes: I guess I did okay with this chapter. Writing the dialogue was pretty hard, though. (Oh, dialogue -- sometimes you come so easily, sometimes it's like the dialogue gods have abandoned me)

You missed the open skies, didn't you? )
Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir, season 1 and Christmas Special, 2015-2016
This has a strict episodic framework—repeated sequences, reiterated structure, etc. But it also begins with all aspects established, from supporting cast to superpowers—a mild in medias res. Subplots, small details, and the natural evolution of relationships explore those background aspects and add narrative depth, and the occasional deviation from the repetitive format has nice narrative flair. I'm normally ambivalent about the format of kid's cartoons, so I'm surprise by how well this worked for me on a structural level. And the protagonists's relationship! it's a star-crossed miscommunication-driven will they/won't they/of course they will hetero romance, but I love it anyway, thanks in large part of the way that Ladybug controls their dynamic both in and out of combat. There should be nothing for me to love here, but I found myself taken with it anyway; it's charming and unexpectedly compelling. I look forward to the next season. (I did find the webisodes frivolous, and skipped them. I prefer the French dub immensely, and wish Netflix weren't missing some of the audio tracks.)

Re:Zero — Starting Life in Another World, anime, 2016, White Fox
I came to this explicitly because a friend spoiled the protagonist's character growth (or, more specifically, the reveal that Subaru is a "nice guy" and that the narrative calls him out on it). I'm glad I went in knowing that, both because it's interesting to track the foreshadowing and because it helps justify such an awful protagonist. His later character growth is artlessly exaggerated, but it's still rewarding to see his behavior condemned and corrected. The plot, meanwhile, has an iterated/Groundhog Day-style structure (one of my favorite tropes) which is just clever enough to work and which sells the danger and violence—and that's a good thing, because something needs to counteract the anime styling at play. I would have liked this better had it shed its anime clichés—but I still found it incredibly engaging, cathartic, and satisfying. (I'm not sold on the ending, but my impression is that it works better in context of the light novel, as a yet another bait-and-switch happy resolution.)

The Great British Bake-Off, series 4, 2013
As calming and as sweet-hearted as ever, but I found myself more critical of the judging structure this time (I don't think judging week-to-week without taking into account cumulative performance is representative of real quality; I'm troubled by the cultural/educational bias implicit in the technical challenges), and of significantly less patience with the pacing of the reveals (so corny; just skip them). But even if my initial wonderment has passed, this remains such an endearing show, pure and lovely, engaging food porn and light reality TV, but without the pettiness that fuels so much of the genre.

Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor, anime, 2007-2008, Madhouse
The pacing here isn't as successful in Akagi—it's more strung out, teetering towards the repetitive and stretching the tension and metaphors too far. But! it's still so good! (Within FKMT caveats: no female characters; funny noses.) Such a fantastic foil to Akagi: this protagonist who doesn't want to risk, who isn't looking for the experience; who keeps landing himself in trouble and manages to scrape through almost despite himself. Like any good predicament porn, it's equal parts indulgent and discomforting, the perfect balance that pushes "dim ratbag victim of masochists" past the point of humor and enjoyable tension and into the realm of sincere, albeit frustrating, sympathy. I look forward to continuing with the next series.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
([personal profile] davidgillon Mar. 22nd, 2017 11:45 pm)

The other day I received a letter letting me know that Kent and Medway Wheelchair Services is being privatised (they were worried about this happening when I went through the system last summer). Now in theory it shouldn't make any difference to the service I receive, but, as I noted on Twitter, it does mean someone now expects to make a profit out of my needs/my wheels.

Today the new franchise holder followed my twitter account. Now admittedly it's a new account, but they're following a grand total of 7 accounts, only two of which are individuals, and the other one is Tanni, aka Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson, parliamentarian, multiple paralympian and the most famous wheelie in the country.

The scary thing is I didn't mention where I lived. They must have pulled it out of the #wheelchair stream from a week ago, figured out I was talking about them and made a note to follow me once their account was up.

Of course that's not remotely likely to intimidate someone from freely discussing the service they depend on.

Nope, not one bit.

(Well, not if you know me, but other people...)

viridian5: (Default)
([personal profile] viridian5 Mar. 22nd, 2017 08:08 pm)
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU [Oregairu] slash : “Complicated”   [@ AO3]
RATING: NC-17; Hayama/Hikigaya.
SPOILERS:“Thus, His and Her and Her Youth Continues to Be Wrong,” “His and Her Confessions Will Reach No One,” “And Then, Yuigahama Yui Makes a Declaration,” “And, Yukinoshita Yukino Is...,” “Hayama Hayato Always Lives Up to Expectations,” and “Still, The Thing He Seeks Is Out of Reach, and He Continues to Mistake What’s Real.”
SUMMARY: Keeping a secret and keeping a boyfriend get more complicated, especially when you’re not sure you want either.
NOTES: A sequel to “Keeping Up” in the And Yet, Hayama Hayato Can Still Surprise series. Thanks to [personal profile] akira17 for the beta!
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
([personal profile] sholio Mar. 22nd, 2017 03:31 pm)
SSR Confidential signups are still open - the signup period ends Saturday evening, March 25. You know you want to! :D So far we've got 18 people (not including me - I haven't gotten mine done yet. BAD MOD) - fic, art, and vids are all accepted. Since I'm running this, just ask me if you have any questions.

ETA: Also, if whichever anon promoted it at ffa is reading this, thank you! <3

FK_ficfest (Forever Knight fic exchange) is currently taking signups as well. This is a really pleasant, small-fandom fic exchange with a great mod.

Another thing currently going on is Muse Fusion at Torn World, a shared-world SFF project. Participants in Muse Fusion leave prompts for writers/artists to make a creative work in the shared world setting.
hannah: (Robert Downey Jr. - riot__libertine)
([personal profile] hannah Mar. 22nd, 2017 07:24 pm)
Having reached a good stopping point in the ongoing fic, I've now stopped. For the moment. So I can go over the prose on this other thing I wrote, and when I'm done with that, it's back to the fic to forcibly unwind and give myself a project with which to focus my imagination and waking hours.

Besides getting exactly the right fandom icon. But that's always an ongoing quest.

I think at one section a night, I can stay clear-headed enough to keep momentum and be strong enough to cut what's not working. So there's the rest of the editing, some background research, a little time considering certain bits and pieces, and then I guess I'm off to market.

It isn’t nice to taunt . . . and you still have nearly five weeks to wait before the novel itself can be in your hands. But if you need your appetite whetted just that little bit more, Tor has posted the first chapter of Within the Sanctuary of Wings.

April 25th. If you think you’re chewing your fingernails off, know that mine went away months ago!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

nenya_kanadka: "Intarwebz = serius bizness" (@ Intarwebz srs bsns)
([personal profile] nenya_kanadka Mar. 22nd, 2017 04:10 pm)
Goddammit, earwormed by failmeme again:

(to the tune of Turkey In The Straw or perhaps Battle Hymn of the Republic; and in response to the Serious Question posed in the first line)

Do you ever trap your nipple in the fold-out bit?
Do you play in nippy weather and then agonize your tit?
Do you briskly pump your bellows in the midst of all your fellows
Just to find you've trapped your nipple in the fold-out bit?

I think it's the "briskly" that does me in every time. 😂
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
([personal profile] staranise Mar. 22nd, 2017 05:01 pm)
I recently had a brainstorm and reserved the Tumblr URL [ profile] saltine-canadian. A little while later I decided I didn't want it after all. Are there any other salty Canadians out there who might want it?

(I also later realized that properly "salty" would be saline-Canadian; on the other hand the definition of "saltine" is "a thin salted cracker" and that is... not wholly inaccurate)

Permanent Residents, refugees, expatriates, and long-term residents also welcome to apply.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
([personal profile] liv Mar. 22nd, 2017 10:26 pm)
Recently acquired:
  • Can neuroscience change our minds? by Hilary and Steven Rose. Steven Rose was a big influence on getting me into bioscience, so I excited to learn that he's written a new book about debunking neurobollocks, a subject close to my heart. And that he's written it in collaboration with his wife, a sociologist of science.

  • Three non-fiction books to give as belated bar mitzvah presents: I went with A history of God by Karen Armstrong, 1491 by Charles Mann, and The undercover economist by Tim Harford in the end. I reckon that gives a reasonable spread of perspectives, periods and cultures to get a curious teenager started.

  • A whole bunch of mostly novels for a not-very-sekrit plot.

Recently read:
  • This is a letter to my son by KJ Kabza, as recommended, and edited by [personal profile] rushthatspeaks. It's a near-future story about a trans girl, which has minimal overt transphobia but quite a lot of cis people being clueless, and also it's about parent death among other themes.

  • Why Lemonade is for Black women by Dominique Matti, via [personal profile] sonia. Very powerful essay about intersectionality between gender and race. I've not actually seen Lemonade yet, because everything I've read about it suggests it's a large, complex work of art which I need to set aside time to concentrate on, I can't just listen to the songs in the background. And I'm a bit intimidated by the medium of a "visual album".
Currently reading: A Journey to the end of the Millennium by AB Yehoshua. Not much progress.

Up next: I am thinking to pick up How to be both by Ali Smith, which has been on my to-read pile for a while. We'll see.
naye: a shot of chihiro flying on haku under the moon (spirited away - dragonflight)
([personal profile] naye Mar. 22nd, 2017 09:10 pm)
After following the Westminster attack news obsessively for the first hour and a half after the original newsflash on my phone I have moved to cutting myself off. It's a tragedy for the families and friends of those who lost their lives, and for everyone else whose lives have been irrevocably altered, but there's no room to process or grieve in the media right now. Just this breathless minute-by-minute update of speculations and cellphone photographs and brief official statements and under all of it - more hate brewing; more fear. And people dead.

That's 2017 alright.

And I never know how to start a post with somber news and then try and move on, but I did have a lovely evening yesterday and I wanted to write about books and... Yeah.

Books, then.

I just finished...

John Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire and it was heaps of fun. I could hardly put the book down - it was released yesterday, and I finished it over lunch today. It's space-opera sci-fi with a big idea and a fast-paced plot involving really engaging characters. As the title gives away: it's the kind of space-opera with an empire, and as the story begins a new emperox (pronounced emperoh, like it's a French word) who never expected to succeed the crown is ascending the throne and also learning the horrifying truth her father was aware of but never acted on: the entire empire is facing an imminent collapse, and there's absolutely nothing she can do to stop it.

As if that wasn't enough there's merchant house intrigues, noble conspiracies, space pirates, planetary uprisings... and a piece of bad science has some seriously unforeseen consequences, proving once and for all why vigorous peer review should be a cornerstone of research everywhere.

I absolutely loved the cast of characters, and can't wait for Scalzi to get around to writing the sequel to this - hopefully more than one, because it's a fascinating setting with loads of potential, and I desperately want more of the characters. ♥

I'm currently reading...

Sherwood Smith's Inda which is interesting but also a total kaleidoscope of a book and it's making it really difficult for me to get a good grip on what I'm reading?

And when I say kaleidoscope I mean: the third-person POV shifts character constantly. Smith will literally let the reader peek into what's going on in the heads of every single person involved in a conversation - and then someone covertly watching them too, just for good measure. It feels like the POV practically skips in the middle of paragraphs - it definitely doesn't stay with one character for many whole scenes.

Add to that terms in two made-up languages, one that's close enough to one of mine to feel like it should be familiar (e.g. the title 'Sigun' meaning 'victor' because - yep that's what the 'sig-' prefix means in Norse; 'jarl' being an old title for a local lord) but never really settling anywhere I recognize in a most jarring way. I mean, it goes from those words I understand and can hang on to the meaning of without too much trouble to ones that sound completely made-up and carries a lot of meaning in-universe but they also sound very similar and so get mixed up in my reading (Sierandael, Sierlaef) and oh yeah also everyone has a first name, nickname, title, possibly a second title in a different language, hyphenated last name and potentially also a family relationship that changes how they are referred to depending on which of the myriad POVs they are described from.

Soooo... It's not that it's a bad book but it's pretty demanding and the plot is sort of... there? But the reader isn't given the full picture, just enough of it to realize that shit's going on and it's serious and also... intrigue...??

The world building is really great - seriously detailed, very interesting way of dealing with fantasy nobility and history and gender roles and things like that. But... Hmm. I'll probably stick it out - I'm already a quarter of the way through - but so far my curiosity about what's going on (and growing fondness for some of the characters) barely outweighs my frustration at having to do so much work reading the story.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
([personal profile] mme_hardy Mar. 22nd, 2017 01:07 pm)
Our master bathroom always contains three bathtowels, one on the top of the double rail and two on the bottom. Whenever I change the towels, I hang three; so does my husband. This weekend we found out that each of us thought the other needed two towels, and occasionally wondered why. As far as we can determine, the third towel got used only as an emergency handtowel.

Or maybe it was for the prophet Elijah, who knows.
yhlee: Yuri on Ice: Victor (animated) (YoI: Victor)
([personal profile] yhlee Mar. 22nd, 2017 02:41 pm)
How it works: Have a conversation (or several) by using your icons.

Animated Victor will start us off!

(Hi in real life I'm working on Revenant Gun revisions I swear)

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