rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2017-08-11 10:56 am

East of Midnight, by Tanith Lee; MagicQuest

Dekteon, a slave in fantasyland, escapes and blunders into a strange world between worlds where horses have bear paws and he gets hired by a man who looks just like him to guard him from the terrors of the night. At least, that's the excuse. But it turns out that his new employer has a much more sinister task in mind.

This odd fantasy has some very beautiful, striking images and scenes, and the first fourth or so has a wonderfully spooky, dreamlike atmosphere. Unfortunately, once Dekteon is sent to the matriarchy of cold, bitchy moon women and the sun men they rule, the magic falls away and is replaced by an annoying plot in which he gets the better of the entire society just by being a manly man and not doing what the women say. I'm not objecting just because it's sexist. I'm also objecting because it's dumb and boring.

Not one of Tanith Lee's best. Though I do love the cover, which is 100% accurately taken from the book. A woman with an ivory bow riding a horned lion is what I read fantasy for; wish she was in a better book.

It was part of the MagicQuest series, a fantastic YA fantasy imprint which reprinted (or originally published some?) books by Patricia McKillip, Jane Yolen, Diana Wynne Jones, Peter Dickinson, Robert Westall, Paul Fisher, and Elizabeth Marie Pope. They had great covers and sometimes also great interior illustrations, and I haunted libraries and bookshops for them - all were reliably worth reading, though I liked some more than others. (I never warmed up to Peter Dickinson, and the Pied Piper book was forgettable.) Except for the Westall book, I read all its books for the first time from that imprint; it introduced me to Diana Wynne Jones and Tanith Lee.

I wish the imprint had lasted longer, but it only put out 18 books. Looking them up now, I see that I never saw or even heard of The Last Days of the Edge of the World by Brian Stableford.

Anyone else read MagicQuest? What were your favorites and least favorites?
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
2017-08-10 12:56 pm

Fling/Marry Kill: Oldie Children's Books

Please comment if you've read any of these or others by the same author.

Poll #18676 Oldie Children's Books
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 38

Beginner's Luck, by Oriel Malet. Jenny is sure she'll be a famous ballerina. Victoria is sure she has no talent. James (9) writes a poem: "O venerable is our old Ancestor, to finance our first trip to the theater."

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10 (50.0%)

4 (20.0%)

6 (30.0%)

Cherry Ames, Army Nurse, by Helen Wells. An entry I haven't read in a series I loved as a kid; a young nurse helps her patients and sometimes also solves mysteries.

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12 (54.5%)

8 (36.4%)

2 (9.1%)

The Kelpie's Pearls, by Mollie Hunter. "The story of how Morag MacLeod came to be called a witch is a queer one and not at all the sort of thing you would expect to happen nowadays."

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16 (61.5%)

7 (26.9%)

3 (11.5%)

The Little White Horse, by Eleanor Goudge. When orphaned young Maria Merryweather arrives at Moonacre Manor, she feels as if she's arrived in Paradise.

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18 (62.1%)

8 (27.6%)

3 (10.3%)

The Magic Book, by Willo Davis Roberts. Apparently the only other sff novel by the author of "The Girl With the Silver Eyes," an old favorite of mine.

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14 (60.9%)

9 (39.1%)

0 (0.0%)

Otto of the Silver Hand, written and illustrated by Howard Pyle. A historical adventure by the author of fairy tales I used to love as a kid.

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10 (50.0%)

8 (40.0%)

2 (10.0%)

The Time of the Kraken, by Jay Williams. Thorgeir Redhair must go on a quest to save his people from the kraken, since they're too busy fighting another tribe to do anything useful. By the author of my old favorite, "The Hero From Otherwhere."

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12 (57.1%)

5 (23.8%)

4 (19.0%)

We Rode to the Sea, by Christine Pullein-Thompson. Horse story by an author of other horse stories I liked as a kid.

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13 (61.9%)

4 (19.0%)

4 (19.0%)

rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2017-05-26 01:08 pm

Welcome to Books: FMK

[personal profile] melannen has been culling her bookshelves by playing "Fuck Marry Kill" via poll. In the interests of doing the same, and also getting back to posting more book reviews, I have decided to join her. (I am doing "fling" rather than "fuck" just because my posts get transferred to Goodreads and I don't want EVERY post of mine on there littered with fucks.)

How to play: Fling means I spend a single night of passion (or possibly passionate hatred) with the book, and write a review of it, or however much of it I managed to read. Marry means the book goes back on my shelves, to wait for me to get around to it. (That could be a very long time.) Kill means I should donate it without attempting to read it. You don't have to have read or previously heard of the books to vote on them.

Please feel free to explain your reasoning for your votes in comments. For this particular poll, I have never read anything by any of the authors (or if I did, I don't remember it) and except for Hoover and Lively, have never even heard of the authors other than that at some point I apparently thought their book sounded interesting enough to acquire.

Poll #18415 FMK: Vintage YA/children's SFF
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 50

The Spring on the Mountain, by Judy Allen. Three kids have magical, possibly Arthurian adventures on a week in the country.

View Answers

19 (48.7%)

10 (25.6%)

10 (25.6%)

The Lost Star, by H. M. Hoover. A girl who lives on another planet hears an underground cry for help (and finds chubby gray cat centaurs if the cover is accurate)

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22 (53.7%)

13 (31.7%)

6 (14.6%)

The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, by Penelope Lively. Lucy visits her aunt in Hagworthy and is embroiled in the ancient Horn Dance and Wild Hunt.

View Answers

27 (61.4%)

6 (13.6%)

11 (25.0%)

Carabas, by Sophie Masson. Looks like a medieval setting. A shapeshifting girl gets accused of being a witch and runs off with the miller's son.

View Answers

19 (46.3%)

12 (29.3%)

10 (24.4%)

Of Two Minds, by Carol Mates and Perry Nodelman. Princess Lenora can makes what she imagines real; Prince Coren can read minds, but everyone can read his mind. (Ouch!)

View Answers

22 (52.4%)

11 (26.2%)

9 (21.4%)

rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2016-12-19 10:07 am

Huge Free SF and Fantasy Book Sale!

Via [profile] cofax, have an AMAZING selection of free (plus extremely low-priced) ebooks from Open Road Media.. It's weighted toward off from the 80s, which was a good time for sff in my opinion, and has some great stuff that should not be missed if you like that sort of thing, or want to have e-editions in addition to paper ones. Lots of stuff by both well-known and unfairly obscure writers, many women who ought to be better-known or have not published in a while.

I have no idea how long it will last, so grab what you want now. It's a long list and I mostly navigated by spotting books by authors I was interested in, then clicking on their names and sorting their author page by Kindle, then by price (low-high) to see if they had more freebies. Jane Yolen, Dave Duncan, Robert Silverberg, Nancy Springer, Patricia Wrede, R. A. MacAvoy (not her best books, sadly), and many more authors have multiple freebies. Weirdly, in a number of cases book two or three of a trilogy is free but book one is full-price; no idea what's up with that.

If there's anything on the list you'd like to rec, please do! Here's just a few of the many I rec:

People of the Sky, by Clare Bell. Interesting anthropological sf about a planet where people ride giant dragonflies. I have not read this in ages but recall enjoying it, so look forward to revisiting it. The Jaguar Princess, an Incan fantasy, is also free. Bell also wrote a series about intelligent prehistoric cats discovering fire; she is unusually good at carefully thought-out odd or non-human perspectives.

The Cursed, by Dave Duncan. Clever fantasy about a plague that brings quite original curse-or-blessing (mostly curse) superpowers to a medieval world. Heroine is a middle-aged innkeeper. I wish Duncan had written a sequel, but it's satisfying on its own.

I also picked up everything I have not yet read by Dave Duncan (I basically grabbed everything free of his - there's LOTS - Rose-Red City, Shadows, Strings, Hero, Wildcatter, Pook's World, Ill-Met in the Arena, Hero). He's a reliably enjoyable writer with consistently interesting, unusual settings and premises. Anyone read those or others?

The Ladies of Mandrigyn (The Sun Wolf and Starhawk), by Barbara Hambly. When the men of a township are kidnapped and enslaved, the women attempt to hire (and then kidnap) a mercenary to teach them to fight. Great (very realistic) martial arts and training sequences, large cast of well-drawn characters, thoughtful exploration of gender roles that goes beyond the obvious, and a super-dark magic system. I like this a lot and now I can take it everywhere I go.

Caught in Crystal (The Lyra Novels), by Patricia Wrede. A series of standalone novels in the same world; others are also free. This one is my favorite. It has a rickety plot but a charming cast of characters and a great world. Kayl was once a member of a sisterhood of adventurers, but retired to marry, have kids, settle down, and run an inn. After her husband's death, she's a middle-aged mom... until her past comes back to haunt her. Virtually the only fantasy novel I've ever read in which the parent is the hero and she takes her kids along because, come on, who ditches their kids? I got a fantastic Yuletide fic for this once, Echoes. It's backstory so it's not spoilery.

Cards of Grief / Jane Yolen. Really unusual sf novel about a planet whose culture centers around grieving rituals. As usual for Yolen, it's an odd combination of fantasy and sf (I would call it science fantasy) and explores the process by which events become myth.

Dragonfield And Other Stories, by Jane Yolen. Lovely collection of her short stories. ETA: Just saw that Tales of Wonder is also free. It's even better. Get both. Merlin's Booke too.

Yolen has lots for free. I'd say it's all good except her books with Robert Harris, which don't read much like her.

I also bought many I have not yet read, such as...

Watchtower (The Chronicles of Tornor Book 1) and others by Elizabeth Lynn (classic fantasy I never got around to reading, involves lesbians and martial arts I think/hope?)

Moon Called and Wheel of Stars by Andre Norton. I seem to have not read these. There's other freebies of hers which I already have.

Reefsong and others by Carol Severance. Polynesian fantasy and island-set sf.

I also snagged miscellaneous free books I have not read by Robert Silverberg, Greg Bear, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Nancy Springer, Cynthia Kadohata, Lisa Goldstein, Pat Murphy, Elizabeth Hand, Jonathan Carroll, and Liz Williams. There's also quite a bit of free Piers Anthony. I mean. If you're curious.

Anything I missed?
rachelmanija: (Default)
2016-06-24 01:33 pm

Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer, by Lynne Cox (Part I)

I'm only halfway through this memoir of a world-record cold-water swimmer, which I am greatly enjoying, but I had to share a few excerpts.

Memoirs by athletes who are famous in non-famous sports are often very interesting: they're not about being famous and meeting other famous people and (often) getting addicted to drugs/fame/sex, they're about what it actually feels like to do their sport. (Also, they're way more likely to be written by the athlete rather than a ghost writer.)

The best ones are usually by people whose sports involve a lot of endurance and are at least somewhat solo (rather than team sports; you're competing as much against yourself as against others.) I am very interested in physicality, people's relationships to their bodies, the mind-body connection, and pushing the limits of the mind and body, so I like that sort of thing. Especially when interesting locales are involved. People who get seriously into things like rock climbing, long-distance swimming, mountaineering, etc, tend to have mindsets that would not be out of place in a Zen temple.

Cox discovered an aptitude for cold-water, long-distance swimming as a child; she was rather hilariously inept at all other sports, and had a three-year battle with a PE teacher who hated her and kept refusing to excuse her from volleyball to do stuff like train to set the world record swimming the English Channel at age fourteen. Cox was completely self-motivated; her family supported but did not push her.

At this point she is looking for new frontiers. This is all swimming in oceans, not pools. While stymied in her hope of swimming from Alaska to the Soviet Union by 1) everyone telling her that the water is so cold that she would die in ten minutes, 2) her only landing point being a Soviet SPY BASE which they understandably did not want to let an American on to, she joins a study on cold water swimming led by Dr. William McCafferty and Dr. Barbara Drinkwater (seriously), partly to pass the time and partly in the hope that she'll learn something that will enable her to swim in water that normally kills people.

Dr. Drinkwater explains that men have less body fat, and so tend to sink. Women have more, and so tend to float. But… "You're different. You have neutral buoyancy. That means your body density is exactly the same as seawater. Your proportion of fat to muscle is perfectly balanced so you don't float or sink in the water; you're at one with the water. We've never seen anything like this before."

Cox is fascinated by this finding, which meshes with both her abilities and her sense that she is, in fact, one with sea water. But they want to see how she reacts in a natural environment, not in a lab, so Dr. McCafferty and his wife walk their dog on the beach while she does her daily workout in the ocean.

Before and after these workouts, I'd hide behind a bush and take my core temperature using a rectal thermometer, the only way to get an accurate reading after an immersion in cold water. I always made a point of telling Dr. McCafferty my temperature just as joggers were passing; they'd give him quizzical looks, since it appeared to them that he was talking to the bushes.

Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer
rachelmanija: (Default)
2016-01-17 05:04 pm

Every Patient Tells a Story, by Lisa Sanders

Dr. Lisa Sanders is the doctor who inspired the TV show House. She is apparently a genius diagnostician and if her waiting list was not three years long, I would have already seen her. Her book is marketed as tales of medical mysteries and their diagnoses, complete with the doctor’s process of diagnosing, which is why I bought it.

Approximately 20% of the book consists of that. The other 80% is her opinion that the physical examination of the patient (as opposed to mechanical scans) has a long history, is very important, is underused and poorly taught, and needs to be taught better and done more. She’s probably right but it was incredibly repetitive. She could have summed up her thoughts on that in one or two chapters, leaving the rest of the book for the stories which is undoubtedly why everyone bought it. Annoyingly not what it says on the tin.

Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis

Any recs for books that are actually about diagnosis? (Medical, not psychological; I'm good on the psych front.)

Also, any recs for a book on antibiotics that is 1) about their current use, not their history (I'm familiar with their history), 2) comprehensible to a layperson?

I am particularly interested in learning more about how, after spending my entire life being told that antibiotics have very limited and specific uses and do not cure most things (due to doctors trying to cut down on inappropriate usage) I have recently discovered that, in fact, they have an extremely wide range of uses and "condition responds to antibiotics and, as far as we can tell, to nothing else" is nowhere near as diagnostically useful as I had assumed in narrowing down what that condition might be. For instance, d-cycloserine, an antibiotic normally used to treat tuberculosis, has cognitive effects which may make it useful in the treatment of PTSD.
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2015-03-20 11:20 am

First Chapter/Page Challenge

Warriors of Alavna, by N. M. Browne. Children’s time travel or portal fantasy. The first few pages, with a popular boy and an outcast girl stumbling into another world or time, grabbed me despite some irritating word repetition. (Yes, I got that the magical yellow portal mist felt oily the first two times you mentioned it.) Keep.

Can’t Catch Me, by Michael Cadnum. Fairy-tale re-tellings in a charming voice. Definite keep, probable read soon.

The Oracle Betrayed, by Catherine Fisher. Extremely vivid first chapter, in which a girl in a fantasy ancient Greece enacts a ritual involving a brass bowl full of scorpions, to bring death to a god incarnate and rain to her land. Definite keep, probable read soon.

The Complete Fuzzy, by H. Beam Piper. Classic sf that I’ve never read. The opening had nice vivid worldbuilding, and also a playful tone, which I hadn’t expected. It seems fun. Keep.

Shadow Prowler, by Alexey Pehov. Epic fantasy translated from Russian. I have never read any Russian fantasy, so I was excited to read something different from American and British epic fantasy. Then I hit this, on page one: Fortunately, I have yet to run into the demons who have appeared in the city since the Nameless One began stirring in the Desolate Lands after centuries of calm.

Nevertheless, I persevered. And encountered this on page two: The rumor is that the artifact that has until now held the Nameless One in the Desolate Lands is weakening, and soon he will burst through into our world from that icy desert covered with eternal snow. War is approaching, no matter how hard the Order of Magicians and the multitudes of priests try to put it off. It's simply a matter of time. Six months, or perhaps a year—and then all those things they used to frighten us with when we were children will be upon us. The Nameless One will gather together an army and come to us from behind the Needles of Ice, and the horror will begin. Even here, in the capital, you sometimes come across devotees of the Nameless One. And I'm far from certain that the Wild Hearts of the Lonely Giant Fortress will be able to hold back the hordes of ogres and giants. . .

Unless someone wants to tell me that this is actually a brilliant satire, discard.
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2015-03-18 12:15 pm

First Chapter Challenge

I am trying to beat a path through my unread books, which have gotten really out of hand. As in, I have no room for new books. I am setting myself a challenge: to periodically pick up unread books, especially ones on overcrowded shelves that I don’t even know why I own the book in the first place, and read one chapter. On the basis of that, it either goes back on the shelf or to Goodwill. (Or— likely frequent outcome— I finish reading the book on the spot.)

Obviously, these notes are not remotely full reviews, but are merely for entertainment purposes. Feel free to tell me if you think I’m about to discard something I’d enjoy if I persevered.

Voices After Midnight, by Richard Peck. Author was famous in the ‘80s, but I never got into him. Two kids from 1988 time-travel to 1888. I know this because of the back of the book, but the first chapter-and-a-half didn’t get to it. Extremely, extremely dated, packed full of references that were new and hip in 1988. Also, dullsville. Discard.

Sign of the Raven, by Julie Hearn. Another time travel children’s book, this one to the early seventeenth century, which also didn’t get to the time travel by the time I gave up. First chapter consists of a mom with cancer, lots of descriptions of a mysterious stench, and a protagonist I really didn’t like. Likely to be depressing and full of grossness. Discard.

Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest, by A. Lee Martinez. A minotaur girl in a Percy Jackson-esque world. The first page was funny enough to grab me, plus one rarely sees a female minotaur. Keep.

Anxiety and its Treatment, by Griest, Jefferson, and Marks. An intro to anxiety for people who’ve just been diagnosed with it, not a treatment manual, as I thought when I nabbed it from library discards. Too old and dated to be useful. Discard.

A Night Without Stars, by James Howe. This grabbed me enough to finish it, though I’m not sure I’d re-read. Italian-American, 11-year-old Maria has to have an operation for a hole in her heart. She’s scared and no one explains things to her clearly. At the hospital, she meets Donald, a boy her age with severe burns, whom the other hospitalized kids mock and ostracize. Donald and Maria bond over admitting their fear and being honest. Dated in many ways, which is too bad since it was obviously written in part for children who are facing surgery and probably wouldn’t be given to them now due to the datedness, but emotionally honest and sweet.
rachelmanija: (Default)
2015-02-09 12:14 pm

Requires Hate/Requires Love

If you are not already aware of the Requires Hate situation, there is a full report here. Briefly, a person who writes under the pen name of Benjanun Sriduangkaew was revealed to be the notorious harasser Winterfox/Requires Hate/Lesifoere/many other aliases.

For over ten years, Requires Hate made death threats and rape threats, and stalked and harassed many people, including myself. To date, she has not responded to my public request for her to promise to leave me alone.

She engaged in a systematic campaign to destroy the careers of writers whom she apparently saw as her competition, primarily women writers and writers of color, by abusing and intimidating anyone who reviewed their books, harassing and threatening the writers themselves, attempting to get the writers professionally ostracized, and engaging in blackmail. (The blackmail link goes to an anonymous report; however, I have personal knowledge of the blackmail and vouch for it.)

I am posting to state that I have reported her to the police. I previously didn't say so publicly because I didn't want to give her the pleasure of knowing that she succeeded in making me fear for my life. However, I believe that the chances of her retaliating violently against me or others, whether in person or by hiring someone, are lessened if she knows that the police are aware of the situation. If any harm comes to me, a detailed report is on file documenting that I have a longtime stalker with a history of threatening death and violent attacks, including acid-throwing.

Supporters of Requires Hate often try to garner support for her and suppress discussion of her abuse by saying that speaking out against her is inherently racist because she's a woman of color, and that to support women writers of color, one must support Requires Hate. This erases the many other women of color in the field - a number of whom have been abused by her. Despite her efforts to suppress other female writers of color, she is hardly the only one.

Marginalized people are often unfairly persecuted and falsely accused. It's reasonable to be suspicious when you first hear claims that a woman of color is abusive. But marginalized people are people, and some people are abusive. Some marginalized people are abusive. Supporting abusers is not justice.

If you would like to do something positive, I suggest that you make an effort to read and review the works of writers with marginalized identities, and to promote the writers themselves whenever possible, such as by considering them as convention guests, lecturers, columnists, and so forth. There are very genuine obstacles in their paths that non-marginalized writers don't face, and they could use your support. Also, I very much doubt that Requires Hate will revive her campaign of harassing reviewers, so it should now be safe to review again.

If you're not sure where to start, here is a non-exhaustive list of sff/mythic fiction writers with marginalized identities of various kinds. The majority are women writers of color. Writers who were targeted by Requires Hate are starred. Please consider purchasing and/or reviewing at least one book or story by one of these writers, or by another writer of your choice.

*Saladin Ahmed
*Athena Andreadis

Samhita Arni
Samit Basu
Joseph Bruchac
Joyce Chng/J. Damask
Zen Cho
Aliette de Bodard
Tananarive Due
Zetta Elliott
Andrea Hairston
Nalo Hopkinson
S. L. Huang
*N. K. Jemisin
Alaya Dawn Johnson
*Caitlin Kiernan
Yoon Ha Lee
Malinda Lo
*Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
*Karen Lord

Lyda Morehouse/Tate Halloway
Shweta Narayan
Ty Nolan
Nnedi Okorafor
*Cindy Pon
Michelle Sagara/Michelle West
Sofia Samatar
Cynthia Leitich Smith
*Kari Sperring
*Tricia Sullivan

Judith Tarr
Shveta Thakrar
*Liz Williams

If you want to talk about Requires Hate, feel free to email or PM me. Please do not discuss her in comments. Trolling and off-topic comments will be deleted.

I am enabling comments ONLY for the discussion or recommendation of works by marginalized writers other than her, and for topics related to that. (My book reviews are tagged by author: surname.) Feel free to state a subgenre or tropes that you like, and maybe I or other commenters can rec something for you.

Please note that you don't necessarily know exactly how people identify, so stating the nature of a writer's minority identity is not necessary. Let's not do any identity-policing or arguing over whether any given identity is sufficiently marginalized to be called that. Definitions differ, so we can all decide that question for ourselves.
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2014-03-17 11:02 am

Genre romance recommendations: No assholes or ingenues allowed

Please recommend some M/F genre romance novels which break the conventional wisdom on the rules of the genre. I'm particularly interested in recent books, like published within the last 5-10 years.

(Genre romance = books published as romance novels. Books which contain a love story but were published as something else, such as science fiction, are not what I'm looking for as they have different rules.)

1. Books where the romantic lead is not an asshole. He doesn't domineer over, sneer at, have contempt for, dismiss, try to control, blackmail, kidnap, or try to rape the heroine, EVER. If he starts out doing so and then reforms, he's still an asshole and the book is disqualified.

2. Books where the hero is not an "alpha male." That is, he's not cocky, not wealthy, not domineering or controlling, doesn't have a traditionally manly occupation, isn't aggressive, has some traditionally feminine interests, etc. (For instance, the hero of Cotillion.)

3. Any "bad girl/good boy" romance.

4. Any books where the heroine has traits or an occupation which are traditionally masculine. Lots of contemporary romance novels have heroines who are professionals, businesswomen, etc - I don't mean that. A heroine who is a criminal, a military helicopter pilot (Suzanne Brockmann did that), or has "alpha male" traits herself would be unusual. Or a heroine who's had lots of sex previously, enjoyed it, and doesn't feel guilty about it.

5. Any books where the hero is sexually submissive and/or the heroine is sexually dominant, and that's not the entire point of the book. (ie, not Natural Law, where that's the entire premise. Suzanne Brockmann's Dark of Night would count, since there's lots going on other than Decker getting off on Tracy giving him orders.)

6. Any books which have an unusual level of questioning of gender roles, characters with serious previous relationships that didn't end in death or misery, books where the hero and heroine are completely equal and he never dominates her, books where the hero and heroine have actual cultures and religions (and that's not the entire point of the book), etc.

They don't have to hit all these points, just some. But if, for instance, the heroine is a thief but the hero is an asshole, or the hero is a sweet computer geek but the heroine is a naive virgin, please say so.
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
2013-12-02 12:30 pm

Giant Kindle sale and Mary Renault question

Kindle is having a huge book sale, with many tempting items at $1.99 - $2.99. This includes multiple books by specific authors, like Barbara Hambly, Elizabeth Wein, Octavia Butler, Virginia Hamilton, Kate Elliott, Jonathan Carroll, and Mary Renault.

A few obscure books I wanted to mention are...

The Winter Prince, by Elizabeth Wein, one of my two favorite King Arthur novels. (The other is The Once and Future King.) Wein's is short and intense, narrated by Medraut (Mordred). In this version, there is no Lancelot and Arthur has two legitimate children, a son and a daughter; this makes it read very differently from other versions.

Dragonsbane, by Barbara Hambly. Beautiful fantasy novel about a middle-aged woman who once slew a dragon, who gets called out of retirement. Great concept, great characterization. This is a stand-alone novel with a terrific ending. Many years later, Hambly wrote some sequels. DO NOT READ THEM.

The Darwath Series: The Time of the Dark, The Walls of Air, and The Armies of Daylight, by Barbara Hambly. Portal fantasy! Very good portal fantasy, with vivid characters, excellent martial arts sequences, and a heroine whose research skills, learned while she was getting a degree in medieval history, come surprisingly in handy. This trilogy is complete in itself. There are sequels but I don't really recommend them.

A number of Hambly's books are on sale today, and I rec them all with the caveat to avoid belated sequels to stand-alones and trilogies. I especially adore The Ladies of Mandrigyn (the sequels are OK but not as good) and The Silent Tower/The Silicon Mage (ditto).

The Velvet Room, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. A children's book in the "secret garden" mold, about a lonely girl who finds a secret room in a big house. Not fantasy, but definitely has a numinous feel. A number of her books are on sale today. I snapped up one I never even heard of before, Season of Ponies
, in which a girl gets a magical amulet which summons a herd of rainbow-colored ponies. All I can say is, my inner eleven-year-old is still alive and well and wants a herd of rainbow-colored ponies. Also a fire lizard.

Several good and obscure Jane Yolen books are on sale for $1.99. Cards of Grief is a poetic science fantasy novel about a planet whose art and culture revolves around grieving, seen partly through the perspective of its inhabitants and partly through the eyes of a perplexed space explorer. It's strange in a good way. Also Dragonfield: and Other Stories, short stories, mostly excellent.

Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (The Cecelia and Kate Novels) and sequels, charming epistolatory Regency romance with magic.

Wild Seed , by Octavia Butler. Stand-alone fantasy/sf set in Africa, my favorite (and least depressing) of her novels. Two immortal mutants match wits through the years, a woman shapeshifter and a man who jumps into a new body when his old one dies, killing his host whether he wants to or not.

A Passage of Stars (The Highroad Trilogy). Space opera by Kate Elliott, whose existence I somehow failed to know of before.

I have never read anything by Mary Renault, though I keep meaning to. If you could rec one or two of her books to me, which should it be and why?
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2013-02-06 02:57 pm

Self-published Book Recs

With e-publishing getting so easy (unless you are trying to format poetry, sigh), there has been a boom in self-published books. I've found that if I apply the same selection methods I do to traditionally published books (premise, recommendations, reviews, read a sample), the quality is surprisingly similar.

For example, my single favorite romance novel of last year was Courtney Milan's Unraveled. (Click on author tag to see my review.) For a different type of example, click my "awesomely bad books" and "implausible plots" tag-- most of those books were traditionally published and edited by professional editors.

Since self-published authors don't get any publicity beyond what they can drum up themselves, I'm sure there are many self-pubbed books and authors which are completely off my radar. Please recommend self-published books or short stories to me. (I'm not including reprints of books which were originally traditionally published.)

I am already aware of Courtney Milan, Andrea Host, Sarah Diemer, Zetta Elliott, Neesha Meminger, and Judith Tarr's Living in Threes. If you want to rec them in comments for the benefit of other readers, go ahead, but please try to additionally rec something else which I may not know about.
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
2012-09-15 07:40 pm
Entry tags:

Book Poll

[Poll #1866417]

Feel free to pre-emptively discuss these or other books in comments.
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
2012-09-15 07:40 pm
Entry tags:

Book Poll

[Poll #1866417]

Feel free to pre-emptively discuss these or other books in comments.
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
2012-07-21 03:00 pm

You might as well face it, you're addicted to lit

Books obtained at library sale. Please comment if you've heard of or read any:

Dangerous Waters, by John Burnett. Arrr - no, this is actually nonfiction about modern pirates.

The Final Solution: A Story of Detection, by Michael Chabon. Mysteries, Holocaust survivors, codes, and a parrot.

Folk Tales from the North, by Winifred Finlay. North England, I believe; titles include "The Laidley Worm of Spindlestone Heugh" and "Mary-Ann and the Cauld Lad of Hylton." This is exactly the sort of thing that makes library sales so great.

The Rocking Horse Secret, by Rumer Godden. Children's book, never read it. Godden's work is very much love-it-or-hate-it for me. Probably my favorites are Thursday's Children (ye Gods, what a hideous cover), about brother and sister child ballet dancers, but really about families, ambition, talent, and the longing for talent, which isn't the same as the longing for fame, and In This House of Brede, a beautifully written, meditative book about life in a nunnery - no, really, it's great. (Warning for non-graphic but upsetting death of a child.)

The Game, by Diana Wynne Jones. One of her last books which I haven't yet read. Whatever this particular one is like, her work will forever be a treasure and a joy to me.

By the Light of the Moon, by Dean Koontz. What can I say? I sometimes get the craving to read his books on plane trips, and I have a plane trip coming up.

Le Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory: Two Volumes Complete (Unexpurgated Edition). I've never read the whole thing, I want to check it for PTSD references, and I wanted a hard copy.

The Golden Nineties, by Lisa Mason. I enjoyed her time-travel sf novel, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (San Francisco Time Travels), but never saw anything else by her. Looks like she's putting her books up on Kindle.

Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army, by Kayla Williams. Memoir by female Iraq War veteran.

When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession, by Irwin Yalom. In nineteenth-century Vienna, a drama of love, fate, and will is played out amid the intellectual ferment that defined the era. Josef Breuer, one of the founding fathers of psychoanalysis, is at the height of his career. Friedrich Nietzsche, Europe's greatest philosopher, is on the brink of suicidal despair, unable to find a cure for the headaches and other ailments that plague him. I have enjoyed Yalom's nonfiction. Dipping into his classic work on group therapy, Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy,, I was delighted to find a particularly annoying type of person/behavior pattern named and described as "the help-rejecting complainer."
rachelmanija: (Default)
2012-07-07 12:44 pm


1. Can someone link me to the very funny review of Dan Wells' I Am Not A Serial Killer? I remember them making the point that sociopaths are not typically deeply concerned about the fact that they lack empathy.

2. What Would MacGyver Do?: True Stories of Improvised Genius in Everyday Life. Note title.

Randomly chosen story of improvised genius # 1: People annoyed at inability to bathe and resultant stinkiness caused by water shortage during hot summer get the genius idea to... wear cologne.

Randomly chosen story of improvised genius # 2: Writer hired to write story for book realizes that she has no story, and gets the genius idea to... recount the plot of a MacGyver episode as if happened to her.

3. If you live in Los Angeles, I have found the best tempura bowl in the city. It's the newly opened Hannosuke (other location in Tokyo) at Mitsuwa Market on the west side.

I had a good feeling when I saw that it served exactly two things: the tempura bowl with whitefish, and the same tempura bowl with eel. I haven't tried the eel, but the whitefish bowl is amazing. There is a fried soft-boiled egg, which you break and mix into the rice. The sauce is at the bottom of the bowl, so you have to stir well. The bowl includes crispy nori, perfectly (lightly) cooked shrimp and teeny scallops, a pepper, a prawn, and a slice of sweet potato. It is perfection. Here's some photos.

4. Apparently Betsey Johnson is going out of business? I am sad. And also madly dashing to her two stores in LA today. I realize that I do not have any actual need for adorable and totally work-inappropriate girly dresses, but she is my favorite designer and there could be some great deals. Maybe I can wear them while visiting my mom in Asheville, North Carolina, where she is currently hanging out with the apparently sizable Baba community there.
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
2012-06-10 01:44 pm

Gay YA that isn't sff

Malinda Lo (Ash and Huntress) is celebrating YA Pride: "Every Friday in June, I’ll be listing the YA novels first published in 2012 that include LGBT main characters."

Books published in the first quarter: January through March.

From that list, I'm especially interested in the dystopia anthology, Brave New Love, with LGBTQ stories by Steve Berman, Nisi Shawl, Elizabeth Bear, Amanda Downum, and William Sleator, and Street Dreams, by Tama Wise, a Maori writer. "Living life on the sidelines of the local [South Auckland] hip-hop scene, Tyson finds that to succeed in becoming a local graffiti artist or in getting the man of his dreams, he’s going to have to get a whole lot more involved."
rachelmanija: (Text: She runs lunatic)
2012-06-01 10:48 am

Things I Have Due On Tuesday or Wednesday, Which I Have Not Yet Started

1. Paper for Mindfulness-Based CBT class.

2. Paper for Life as Practice class.

3. Very complicated paper for Psychological Testing class, including analysis of multiple test forms and graph-drawing.

4. Presentation on Trauma-Based CBT.

Other Things I Have To Do Before All That Is Due:

1. All-Day CPR class.

2. Two tutoring sessions.

3. Four-hour block of on-call time with police - I am crossing my fingers they won't call, but I can't rely on having that time free.

4. Five and a half hours of classes.

Send cheer, encouragement, macaroons, book recs for when I'm done, a file baked in a cake, etc.