lydamorehouse: (cap and flag)
i can't actually say it's been a slow reading week, since I plowed through the remaining 21 volumes of Pandora Hearts. I also read an on-line, one volume, one-shot yaoi called One Yen Man / 1-en Otoko as well as got through volume 2 of another manga called Bunny Drop last night, which I mentioned here previously (and I have volumes 3-6 on my TBR pile).

It's funny how, despite the number of pages that the above represents, I always feel like I've read NOTHING when I've only read manga.  That's kind of sad, because, obviously, graphic novels and manga are just as "real" reading as any traditional novel.  I don't really know why I buy into the idea that somehow they're 'lesser.' 

Speaking of my my TBR pile, on it is a graphic novel called Skim by Marika Tamaki / Jillian Tamaki, a traditional novel called The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North, the second collected volume of Bitch Planet, Bitch Planet: President Bitch by Kelly Sue Decconnick / Valantine DeLandro, and a graphic novel The Stoneman Mysteries: Book One by Jane Yolen, Adam Stemple / Orion Zangara.

We'll see how much of this I get through in a week.  I need to at least get though The Stoneman Mysteries since I told Twin Cities Geek that I'd review that one for them.  Adam is, of course, a local author and Twin Cities Geeks likes to highlight the local interest stuff whenever possible.  

Meanwhile, I still have a pretty intense case of the blahs.  I blame the weather and the Nazis.

Reading

Aug. 9th, 2017 08:43 am
lydamorehouse: (swoon)
 It's Wednesday already again. It was a good week for reading, probably because of our extended stay up at our friends' cabin.  So, stuff I read:

Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey. A book I didn't expect to like, but ended up falling into easily.  It's about a Russian-Canadian witch and berserker/werewolf/vampires (?) I'm not quite sure how to explain the Kin, and that's the part I figured that I'd find stupid, but I really didn't.  It's one of those pseudo-literary novels where it's kind of also about families, both blood and made.  I ended up enjoying it.  

Then, I read half of Emmi Itäranta's The Weaver, because I was hoping for a sequel to The Memory of Water, which I really loved. Alas, this is not what I was looking for and so am giving up on it.  It's just a little bit TOO poetic for me.

I also read a graphic novel called Just So Happens by Fumio Obata. It's about a Japanese woman who has moved to London to pursue a career in some kind of design work. She's struggling with settling in, and then gets the call that her father died in a hiking accident.  She returns to Japan to try to figure out if she still belongs there.  It's kind of a non-story, in that nothing is resolved.  Our heroine never entirely feels at home anywhere.  The art is pretty, though.  It's a fast read. 

I got through half of the Pandora Hearts manga volumes that I took out of the library. (I took out six, read three so far). Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki is about... huh, how do I describe this thing? There's a rich/tragic little lordling named Oz, who gets caught up in a supernatural adventure, probably because he's the key to some mystery involving "the Abyss," and ends up in a contract with a devil.  I'm still not sure how I feel about this series. I watched the first 7 episodes of the anime on Hulu and am finding it compelling... enough. I think my problem is with the main character.  His daddy issues really just don't interest me, and my sympathy for royal dukes only goes so far.  I'm kind of the opposite of your average romance reader (at least the ones who seem to get a lot of books targeted at them, at any rate,) in that you really have to work overtime to get me to give ANY f*cks about rich aristocrats and their "tragedies."  Just slapping a title on a character does nothing for me--well, other than infuriate me. Luckily, our poor little rich boy has a companion that I like better. Sadly, it's turning out that he's a lost prince with a tragic backstory, too, so possibly there's no one in this story that will appeal to me. The only thing that's keeping me hanging on ATM is that there's a scene with the character I like (Raven) wherein his overlord accuses him of feeling "abnormally" towards Oz, which is Japanese code for gay, so here's hoping that Raven is queer AF.

Hoping a manga/anime character will turn out to be canonically gay never ends well, so probably this is an exercise in frustration all around.  Ah, well, I have nothing else to watch while doing the dishes currently, so I will keep with this.

You?
lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
It's late for me, but I'm just back from work at the Maplewood Library. Plus, I am trying out my new computer, a Lenovo. I'm trying to get used to the keyboard. There is a funny positioning of the shift key. But, I'm sure I'll adjust. PLUS, it turns out that my Mac was fixable. My friend Patrick played around with it today and got it up and running. Hooray!

So, let's see, what have I been reading? I actually managed a real book the other day. I read Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel. It read really quickly, but the entire thing was mostly written as a series of interviews (and a smattering of journal entries and news clippings) instead of an actual narrative voice. I never quite decided how I felt about that. On top of that, there was also a very weird intrusion of the "male gaze." The lead scientist is a woman who has become convinced that the giant alien statue they're assembling (not a spoiler, this is revealed on the very first page,) is female. She gets really excited when they find the torso, because it has breasts. I object to none of this. What I found... unnatural was her long description of the statue's breast, using words like "perky" and saying things like, "she was likely the envy of all the other girl statues!" I won't go so far to say that no woman I know talks like this about boobs, because there are always exceptions, but this very much had the feel of those things I'm sure you've read where a male author describes a female character putting on her sweater and thinking to herself about the sexy contours of her body in long, loving detail. (See current Twitter storm over John Updike.)

I'm half way through the first volume of a josei manga called Bunny Drop by Yumi Unita, which I am enjoying so far. It's about a young salaryman who ends up adopting his grandfather's love child. I'm weirdly a sucker for these kinds of stories, where adults who normally don't deal with kids, suddenly have to. It's kind of trope in yaoi, actually.

I also started Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey. I'm not very far into it, but I think I'll enjoy it. Like Bunny Drop, it starts with a funeral, only instead of grandpa dying, it's grandma.  

That's me this week. You?
lydamorehouse: (swoon)
 Over here in the U.S. we had this stupid* holiday that falls on THE FOURTH of JULY no matter what day of the week that turns out to be, and so I am utterly confused to discover today is Wednesday....

Did I manage anything?  One thing I have noticed about myself with these regular Wednesday check-ins is that, no matter how crappy a reading week I might be having, I have reliably read at least one or two volumes of some manga or other.  So, in fact, this week I have read:

Ten Count (Vol. 4) by Rihito Takarai. As I talked about in my extensive review of this over on MangaKast, this yaoi has to be the smuttiest thing my library is purchasing on a regular basis. It's chock full of seriously dubious consent and, while there ARE censor bars in place, they don't actually cover a whole lot of the graphic stuff up terribly well. NOT THAT I'M COMPLAINING. I'm just surprised.

Bloody Monday (Vol. 1) by Ryou Ryoumon/Kouji Magumi. I have not officially reviewed this one yet, but it's a fun combo of cyberpunk meets bio-engineered plague apocalypse story--or at least that's what volume one seems to be shaping up to be. Given my vague dislike of body-horror, I'm thinking I should probably flip through the next several volumes of this at the library before I decide whether or not to continue. This story, however, did have one of my most favorite EVER hacker moments, though.  Our hero's laptop with the super-secret intercepted transmission he's been trying to decode gets melted by the spy-villain, and he's super-bummed and the reader thinks, "Oh no! There goes all the evidence," but when the hacker's best buddy asks him about it he shrugs and is like, "I loved that laptop, man. I built it from the ground up. It's irreplaceable." And his friend is like, "DUDE THE SECRETS!!" Hacker is all, "Huh? Oh, I have multiple copies of that. One of them is even on the cloud. Do you think I'm STUPID???"  So that was awesome and a nice dig at the Hollywood trope of information somehow existing in a vacuum.  

I have a bunch of books around to try next, and I think I'll probably try Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal next? I just don't know if I'll be able to consume anything more dense than manga during Convergence week.  I will for SURE be reading a graphic novel called The Wendy Project because I got a review copy of it for my gig with TwinCities Geeks, which is due some time next week.  

You?

----
*stupid.  Okay, there's nothing inherently WRONG with the Fourth of July. I'm just not a huge fan of all the amateur firecrackers (the big ones are _fine_, but my neighbors' racket until 2 am TICKS ME OFF) and it's been painfully difficult to be anything resembling the traditional sense of "patriotic" since November, since what I love about my country is its IDEAL as a democratic republic that thrives on reasoned discourse.   :-P
lydamorehouse: (Default)
As I mentioned yesterday, I actually got a lot of stuff read over this last week. I started and finished:

Novels:

WAYPOINT KANGAROO by Curtis C. Chen. The finish was as good as the start, IMHO. Kangaroo is a combination of deep space science fiction and James Bond spy thriller, only if James Bond was a little more like a real person, albeit a real person with a superpower (the ability to open a "storage pocket" into an alternate universe.) Generally, I found WAYPOINT KANGAROO to be a fast and fun read.

Manga:

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (Volumes 1-4) by Izumi Tsubaki. As I said before, I loved this anime. (I loved it enough that I actually wrote het fan fic for it as a treat for Yuletide last year.) The story is very cute. Our heroine Chiyo Sakura has harbored a crush on Umetarou Nozaki since middle school. She finally works up the nerve to make her love confession and blurts out, "I'm your number one fan." Nozaki takes this in a weird sort of stride and... gives her his autograph. Sakura later discovers that Nozaki has been writing a very popular girl's romance under a female pseudonym. When I try to explain the humor here to people less familiar with manga, I say, "It's about gender stereotypes. It's like finding out that the captain of the high school football team is secretly writing lurid romance novels for Harlequin. And, even though he acts like a total meathead, he's super good at it, Nora Roberts level!" Part of the charm of Nozaki-kun is that Nozaki is kind of a meatball. He's the Japanese equivalent, anyway. He seems to over-think every romantic situation with the eye of a romance mangaka, but he misses the true point EVERY TIME. I can not recommend this series strong enough, though if you don't read a lot of manga, I would the anime because it's complete at one season.

Then I read the first three volumes of Behind the Scenes!! by Bisco Hatori. Hatori-sensei is most well known for her series Ouran High School Host Club which I attempted to watch, dubbed, several years ago and bounced out of. It's SO FAMOUS, however, that every once and a while I thumb through the tankobon at the library and think, "I should read this." Well, I never did, but now I've read Behind the Scenes!! which has a similar start in that our hero, Ranmaru, really just wants to get through college with the least amount of notice. He's been keeping his head down until he accidentally crashes the science fiction film club's zombie movie set and ruins the scene. Of course they're under tight deadline, so the Art Squad (those responsible for props and make-up and the support for all the film clubs on campus) gang-press him into service as an apology/retribution. Ranmaru, who come from humble fisher folk, discovers a hidden talent to make the most out of limited supplies, a skill that the perpetually broke Art Squad desperately needs. I found the first three volumes passably entertaining. I'm somewhat confused by the "negative personality" trope that Ranmaru fits in--there is a lot of weeping and feeling helpless that I find vaguely off-putting, but like Ouran, there is a large, quirky cast of supporting characters that I like a whole lot better.

Netsuai by Naono Bohra, a single volume yaoi, about two step-brothers who fall in lust/love. The only thing this one has going for it is that it's short and smutty. There's an attempt at a storyline involving a rich, traditional family, but that was mostly an excuse to break the brothers up so that they could run back to each other's arms. I'm not a big fan of these kinds of incest/pseudo-incest storylines, but no kink shaming from me. You do you. And, for my own part, this one squicked me less because even though the younger brother constantly calls his elder step-brother 'nii-san' they aren't related by blood. Their father married the elder's mother, but that's the only connection. We see a scene of the elder brother arriving in-tow.

Deadlock by Aida Saki/Takashina Yuu. I read all the available chapters of this on-going... well, technically it popped up under "yaoi" on Mangago, but there's way more romantic tension than there is actual smut, I'd be tempted to call it a prison-themed boy's love manga. Actually, if you've always wanted to know what yaoi is like but you're super-turned off by all the NSFW sex? You could consider checking out Deadlock, because there isn't even an on-screen kiss in all the eight or so chapters available on-line, yet it's very much set up like one of the more plot-heavy yaoi. The story is of a Japanese-American (I love when Japanese writers try to write Americans, btw... and this whole thing takes place in a California prison) who was a DEA investigator, Yuuto Lenex, who is framed for his partner's murder. The FBI approach him with a deal--they commute part of his sentence if Yuuto can find the mysterious prison boss going by the name 'Corvus.' All Yuuto knows about 'Corvus' is that he's a white guy with a burn scar on his back. Cue entrance of hottie white guy cellmate, Dick. I kind of feel like there should be a joke here, but Deadlock takes Dick very seriously (despite an utter lack of lowercase dick.) I enjoyed it the way you do when you're looking for prison yaoi, but I don't know that i could recommend it to anyone who wasn't at least curious about what yaoi was like....

Last night I read Princess Jellyfish (Volume 4, 2-in-1) by Ahiho Higashimura, which continues the story of the female-only otaku commune and one crossdresser's valiant attempt to save the commune from demolition by developers. You know, the plot did not advance all that much, given how many pages I read (355.) In fact, I would bet that the story has not yet advanced beyond what is shown in the anime (at least from what I can glean from Wikipedia's episode synopses.) Probably the most interesting developments are Read more... )


EDITED TO ADD: I knew I'd read so much that I'd likely forget something!  I also read all of "As the Crow Flies" a webcomic by Melanie Gilliman, which was recommended to me by Naomi and which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND to you.  It's actually pretty easy to catch up. I managed it in one day.  The link will take you to the last panel, but you can either go to the archives and start at the beginning or used the big arrow to take you back to the first one.  "As the Crow Flies" is the story of Charlie, a young African-American girl, who has been drawn to attend a women-only Bible retreat. She not your typical Bible thumper, and neither is this retreat, but Charlie deals a lot with the underlying racism in the idea of 'purifying' as 'whitening' and generally wrestling with being a feminist (queer?) and a Christian.  It's a very pretty webcomic, too, with colored pencil art.  Absolutely worth checking out.


Okay, I think that's everything. I suspect next week will be much more sparse. Not only am I working both tonight and tomorrow afternoon, I'm also desperately trying to finish up this proposal package AND our friend John Jackson is coming to stay with us over the weekend. I think I'll be lucky to read a few short one-chapter yaoi!

But the books I have in my I-would-if-I-find-the-time pile:

LAST YEAR by Robert Charles Wilson (novel)
READER: Book One of Sea of Ink and Gold by Traci Chee
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (vols. 6 & 7) --I'm waiting on 5 from St. Paul Library (manga)
Invisible Boy by Hotaru Odagiri (yaoi/manga)

I also put in a request at the St. Paul Library for Haikyuu! because I saw they had them and that's another one where I enjoyed the anime, but have never read the manga.


How about you? Read anything good over the last week?
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I managed to finish an actual (non-graphic) book and get halfway through another one! Go me!

I finished COMPANY TOWN by Madeline Ashby, which I liked a lot all the way to the last... oh, I dunno 50 pages or so? The action took a sudden uptick and the narrative got kind of... sketchy? Sloppy? It felt like it was missing critical bits of connective tissue. We'd jump from one scene still reeling from the events there, and be knee deep in another before really having a sense of resolution from the first moment, you know? Then, when it looks like everyone has sacrificed for the greater good, there's a plot twist that hinges on--and I'm not making this up!!--magical sex. (Not literal magic, but, like, 'whoops' we forgot the condoms so now I have your nano-bot superpower, too, just in time to save my life!)

All that being said, I liked the first part of the book a lot. Our main character Hwa, (Go Jung-Hwa) is a bodyguard for the United Sex Workers of Canada on one of the last remaining oil rigs/floating towns. The company town is being bought out by a new owner who is going to shift the industry to nuclear power. Hwa has Sturge-Weber Syndrome and, so, unlike most people, she's completely un-augmented. After a chance encounter, she ends up working for the new owners of the town. I think the thing I found compelling in the first part of the novel was the tension between Hwa and her new world. She's poor; the new owners, her bosses, the Lynch family, are über-rich. They're so augmented they're nearly cyborgs; Hwa is flesh and bone, and flawed, at that. That made for some compelling scenes/tension, IMHO. Plus, Hwa is badass.

I'm half-way through WAYPOINT KANGAROO by Curtis C. Chen, and enjoying it so far. The novel follows Kangaroo, a interstellar spy, who has a secret superpower: the ability to open up his own, private pocket universe. What I'm enjoying about Kangaroo so far is that he's kind of an anti-Bond (he keeps screwing up, is awkward with the ladies), while still having all of the fun parts of a James Bond-type character (speeder chases, Sherlock-level people/observation skills). Plus, what's not to love about James Bond in space? I also love the the pseudo-plot point, which is that Kangaroo has been sent on "vacation" to keep him out of the way while the spy department is audited, and Kangaroo SUCKS at taking it easy. (I say pseudo-plot, because it's clear that Kangaroo has stumbled into a much bigger plot.)

It's not hard to imagine that James Bond would, in fact, be terrible with downtime. And you hardly ever see that sort of thing in movies--high-adrenaline people having to deal with the fact that life is not all car chases and shoot 'em ups, so it's nice to see it explored in a novel. In that way, WAYPOINT KANGAROO almost feels like fan fiction. Fan fiction does this sort of thing a lot, i.e. asks the reader to imagine what happens when super spies have no urgent problem to solve? What happens during the downtime? Can a character like James Bond ever relax? Who is the spy when s/he is not wearing the 'persona,' the 'legend'?

So, I can't vouch for the ending of this one, but half-way through it's still quite engaging. Of course, I would have said that about COMPANY TOWN, too.

Things on my TBR pile still:

The St. Paul Public library finally coughed up volume 1 of Monthly Girl's, Nozaki-kun by Izumi Tsubaki. I started reading that, actually, but am finding the format (a series of self-contained, 4-panel shorts/one-shots) a little hard to adjust to, when I'm used to the more traditional storytelling of a manga. Luckily, I'm familiar with the anime, so I suspect when I get into it, I'll be able to rip through it pretty quickly. The art is lovely, actually, so that will help.

The other thing I picked up is the first three volumes of Behind the Scenes!! by Bisco Hatori. The story appears to follow the classic lost soul--Ranmaru Kuriso--who has spent his life apologizing for being in the way. He's drifting through his first semester of college, trying to keep his head down and away from people, when he finds himself in the way again. This time, he almost literally stumbles into the film club's shoot of a zombie horror movie. The loud, brash back stage crew adopt him. Wacky hijinks ensue. I expect that hapless Kuriso will also discover a secret superpower regarding prop construction or otherwise figure out that the back stage crew are "his tribe." Possibly there will be romance, as this manga is published by Shojo Beat.

Dear gods, do I actually have two shojo series right now?  Yes, yes, I believe I do!  How about them apples.

So, what are you reading?


lydamorehouse: (Default)
I kind of feel like an idiot that I only just discovered that on both Dreamwidth and LiveJournal, Wednesday has been a designated "What are you reading?" day for... well, probably since forever, for all I know.

I'm going to try to remember to participate, because I love reading other people's posts about their reading lists, even though lately I have been having a hell of a time consuming entire novels. I don't know if this problem has to do with mood, my dyslexia, the political situation in America, or my attention span. But, whatever causes it, I tend to ride it out by reading a LOT of graphic novels. So, since last Wednesday, I have read:

Princess Jellyfish (Volumes 2 & 3) by Akiko Higashimura: It should probably be noted that I read the two-in-one volumes of both 2 & 3, which actually brings me up to volume 6 of the traditionally packaged tankōbon. Princess Jellyfish is the story of Tsukimi, a nerd obsessed with jellyfish, who lives in a female-only commune. Her life becomes topsy-turvy when she mets Kuranosuki, the son of a high-powered politician, who likes to cross dress. The plot basically revolves around three basic questions: will the commune get sold out from under the otaku women in order to make way for a high-rise development? Will the others in the commune figure out that Kuranosuki is actually a man? And will Tsukimi fall in love with either Kuranosuki or his dorky elder brother? Princess Jellyfish is josei (basically: written for an older female audience), so, despite these romantic elements, I'm not automatically expecting a HEA. I have some caveats/reservations before I would recommend Princess Jellyfish, in particular around how 'performing femininity' seems to net the nerd girls more positive results than when they're being their authentic selves...(and I HATE that message and that trope). BUT, so far, there's enough progress in the 'hey, nerd girls have useful skills/inner beauty too!' counterpoint that I'm willing to roll with this and enjoy its whacky ensemble cast. A lot of people chimed in when I posted about this on MangaKast, because the anime is apparently VERY popular, despite there being only one season and it having been produced some time ago.

I read a number of one-shot and single volume yaoi on Sunday while I was waiting for the dozens of small batches of flieschkueckle to fry. I read Ace no Kyuujitsu by Nishida Hagishi (about a baseball star that hooks up with a cruise ship captain) and Host is Down by Nishin Matsumi (a one-shot/single chapter story of an android seemingly alone on a derelict ship).

The things I have in my queue/TBR pile right now include:

Manga:

Nozaki-kun Monthly Girls
' by Izumi Tsubaki. I loved this anime and, when I saw that the Saint Paul library had copies of the manga, I decided to try reading it as well. The title character Nozaki is a high schooler who also has a "secret" life as a shojo (girls' romantic) mangaka. I have volumes 2-4, because... libraries. But, I'm not sure that's going to stop me from reading these, since I know how the story starts thanks to the anime.

Books:

Waiting for me on the hold shelf of Ramsey County's Roseville branch are:

Company Town by Madeline Ashby
The Reader by Traci Chee
Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen

So, that's what I'm reading and hoping to read... How about you?





lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
The reviewer today (another Rachel) didn't have a lot to say, but it's still a very nice review: http://rachelrennie.weebly.com/rachels-blog/song-of-secrets-by-tate-hallaway-and-rachel-calish-a-book-review

A lot of the reviewers are anxiously waiting for Book 2. I certainly hope that Rachel and Level Up Press will be able to give it to them. For myself, I've had to take a step back. I won't be involved in subsequent books in the School for Wayward Demons series.

As I have said many places, I really enjoyed the writing process with Rachel, particularly when we were collaborating on the plot-light web version of this story. I can not even tell you how much joy (and hope) that brought me.

But revising was a particular nightmare, in part because we were constrained by having to follow the structure of what we'd already published on the web. And, as happens with two strong personalities with very different writing styles, there were also creative differences... and I left that process feeling that Rachel and I had very different values when it came to storytelling. We're both award-winning authors. so it's impossible to say that one of us is right and the other wrong. In fact, I think the fact that we're both so passionate for our art is the reason we had so many difficulties.

This was not an easy decision for me to make, especially given that my current publishing prospects are fairly bleak and, as I said, the initial process of writing with Rachel was so tremendously fun and valuable for me.

On the other hand, I know there are plenty of you out there who might be just as happy at the idea that I plan to use this opportunity to focus more on my own writing. I have UnJust Cause to finish, and there are other novels and characters in my head who are dying to get out and onto the page.

So, while I am saying goodbye, I wish Rachel and Level Up Press the very best of luck in the future.
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
Rachel contacted the people in charge of setting up the blog roll, and the issue seems to be resolved. So that's a yay.

There are two more reviews of Song of Secrets up: For the Love of Fictional Worlds and Reading with Pixie, which is, of course, MY favorite because the blogger called out Gabe as their favorite character.

I had a very brief, drive-by, attendance at Diversicon this weekend. Eleanor invited me to sit in on the MCU panel and, as I said on Twitter, I geeked out so hard that people were checking with me about authors for certain runs of comic book titles. (I'm good, but not THAT good. :-) Still, that made me feel like a super-geek and I appreciated it, deeply.

The rest of the weekend was eaten by birthday related activities including several hours at the Mall of America herding pre-teens around the amusement park. I did get to see my friend Frank who stopped by to hang out on the porch with my folks on Mason's birthday actual, which was very lovely.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
So, Rachel and I are trying a thing. For part of this month and next, our book Song of Secrets is going on a blog tour/blog roll. There have been three reviews so far and each one comes with an opportunity to win an autographed copy of the book.

Here's where we've been featured so far (in reverse order):
Song of Secrets: How Fiction Helps us Cope
Natural Bri
Rocking out to Song of Secrets


Please note, that because the blog tour is called Calish Couple, the reviewers are giving all of the kudos and praise to Rachel. This was, however, a book we wrote TOGETHER (and it was wonderfully illustrated by Mandie Brasington and Alexis Cooke). If you feel so-inclined, I would deeply appreciate you going to one or two of these sites and letting them know how much you love my work and ask them to please edit their reviews to reflect that fact that the book they seem to enjoy so much was actually also written by me.

Anyway, it will be curious to see how this works out for us!
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
Here's another list for me:

Broken Monsters, Lauren Beukes (Mulholland)
The Lesser Dead, Christopher Buehlman (Berkley)
The Unquiet House, Alison Littlewood (Jo Fletcher)
Bird Box, Josh Malerman (Ecco)
Confessions, Kanae Minato (Mulholland)
Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals)

These are the Shirley Jackson Award nominees. As Locus Magazine explains, this award is for "... outstanding achievement in horror, psychological suspense, and dark fantasy fiction. "

I think, too, this will help me decide what to review today. I usually have my reviews in to Bitter Empire by Sunday morning, but this weekend was surprisingly busy. I had my usual three hour shift at North St. Paul library and Mason attended the Teen Lit Con. My Mother's Day gift to Shawn was to take her fabric shopping and NOT COMPLAIN, which I managed on Saturday morning, as well. It was nice weather on Saturday, too, so I did a little light gardening, too--finally getting some things in the ground that we'd ordered. On Sunday, what Shawn said she wanted was food. So, I made her blueberry bread pudding for breakfast and then we spent most of the afternoon and evening making fleischkuechle - an ethnic food of Shawn's family (Germans from Russia.) We thought to only make two batches, which would have been a couple of hours work, but ended up with over a hundred some how and so we prepared and fried from 1 pm to 7 pm.

A little longer than either of us really wanted.

BUT the results are tasty, and now we have a stockpile for the freezer.

So, at any rate, I need to settle in and write up a review of Annihilation, I think. I'm not sure how much I should talk about this in that, but Annihilation is the only book up for the Nebula this year that I made it all the way through.

I got well over 100 pages into both Three-Body Problem and Ancillary Sword, but I gave up on both of them because I found myself caring less for the main characters. Both of those novels are very idea-driven, which is fine, but I just had no emotional investment whatsoever and when you start looking at how much of the book you have left with trepidation, I thought: nope, I'm done. Plus, no spoilers, but when I finally found a character that I liked in Ancillary Sword, they didn't last.

I tried Coming Home, (and Shawn shakes her head at me about this because Jack McDevitt is one of her all time favorite SF authors and I've had diner with the guy and he's AWESOME), but I just bounce out of almost every one of his books for some reason -- maybe because it's a long-running series? I'm not sure, because Shawn has them all and has tried, repeatedly, to get me to read them. I guess it's just one of those things.

The other Nebula nominee, Trial by Fire, I have upstairs and I started it.... and it's okay. It's just very hardcore military SF which I wasn't entirely in the mood for when I started it. I haven't sent it back yet, so I may still get through that one. I often really enjoy military SF, so I don't think that's necessarily the reason. Do you have this problem? Where you have to be in the right mood for a certain TYPE of book?

At any rate, I ripped through Annihilation like it was cotton candy. That surprised me because it is very psychological and atmospheric (not always my normal fave) and, in places, difficult. I have, in the past, not gotten very far into VanderMeer's works before. *whispers*He's one of those 'it' kids that I have to confess being predisposed AGAINST because of straight-up envy*/whispers* But I really ended up enjoying this book.

I'll see where I end up going with this review. The other thing I may end up talking about is the fact that I've heard rumors that the next target the Sad Puppies might have is the Nebula, which I think will be a far harder nut for them to crack because membership is actually fairly difficult to obtain. (And the Nebula, if you didn't know, is nominated and voted on SOLEY by the members of the Science Fiction Writers of America.)

So, lots of directions.

Right, I should go do that then.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
This weekend, the only thing I had 'on' was a Loft "First Pages" at Maplewood Library at 2:00 pm on Saturday. I was meant to be facilitating "Novel Writing for Teens." At last count, they had seven students signed up.

And... it was so gorgeous outside that not a SINGLE SOUL showed up.

I would feel bad about it, but this is fairly typical for these Loft First Pages, in my experience. I don't know if other instructors have an easier time getting warm bodies to fill chairs, but I have had zero luck. I think the MOST successful one had, maybe, three students? Talking a little to the teen librarian at Maplewood, we decided that a big part of it is that it's generally hard to get teenagers to make a concerted effort to come to an event like this (which is to say, free and of unknown value,) especially given all the other choices available (or required, ala soccer or what-have-you.) Add on top of that one of the first truly spectacular days of spring?

Yeah, I'm not surprised no one came.

I get paid regardless. The whole idea of "First Pages," actually, is that they're meant to be drop-in and casual. I'm supposed to be ready to facilitate (notice my careful avoidance of the words teach or instruct) anywhere from ten to one participants. They specifically chose facilitators who are flexible and ready to offer any kind of help/lecture/prompts, etc. So, if I sit there for 90 minutes and chat with the librarian, so be it. The whole idea is that if someone wanders in with 3 minutes to spare, I give them whatever they might need in that time. The Loft only asks that I'm there and that I'm ready for whoever shows and whatever they want to talk about.

Plus, the librarian I chatted with on Saturday is THE person who is responsible for Maplewood's extraordinary graphic novel, comic book, and manga collection. So, we had things to natter on at each other about, no problem!

Then Sunday was gray and rainy and a perfect day to cuddle up and read. I finished a book I really enjoyed called A DARKLING SEA by James L. Cambias. I found this book on the Locus Award's long list in the debut author section. The story takes place on an alien planet where the life there is a lot like the things they've found here at the deep ocean depths--volcanic vents that support huge colonies of life. Human are there doing research and things go off the tracks pretty early and soon enough there's first contact with the natives *and* then the arrival of a third alien race that we'd previously made contact with who are unhappy with our "meddling."

It's a quick read, too.

Now I'm about a hundred pages into PEOPLE IN THE TREES by Hanya Yanagihara, which I'm also finding really gripping. This one is a written as though it's a biography of a famous scientist, complete with a forward and footnotes. I chose to read this one first because it's the one due back at the library soonest, plus it's also one of the ones that was up for a Kitschie and I seem to be going through those for Bitter Empire.

I also bounced out of LAGOON by Nnedi Okorafor after about 30 pages. In this book, Okorafor does a lot of what I'd call "head-hopping" (where the narrative switches p.o.v. without any obvious transition or other signaling, like a space break, etc.) and I got lost really quickly. Plus, I felt a little robbed when one of the major events (alien contact??) was glossed over and told in disjointed flashbacks (little one-liners from various p.o.v. characters). So I felt really unanchored, like I was just floating through the story without any sense of who I should care about or why. So, I set it aside. I might or might not give it another try later. It's probably just a style issue, but I've given up on other books in this challenge, some of them much further in, like Ann Leckie's ANCILLARY SWORD. (Interestingly, I bounced out of MOST of the books up for the Nebula this year.)

I'm not sure what to do about the books that I bounce out of, but since I'm doing this mostly for myself, I've been trying to give the books I read a "fair" chance to grip me. I arbitrarily decided to give most books 50 pages. I didn't quite make that with LAGOON, but I also gave up on GOBLIN EMPEROR after only about 20 or 25 pages (that one was just too high fantasy for me.)

Honestly? I feel a little guilty admitting to giving up on books, especially books I've challenged myself to try to read. But, the truth is, I'm actually a slow reader due to my dyslexia. Because it's hard for me to read, if I'm not INTO a book, I slow down exponentially. I COULD push my way through some of these books, but I think it would be at the detriment to how many books I'll be able to read and finish this year (and possibly massive library overdue fines!) I don't know that the number of books I get read is really all that important, but I also don't really intend to review anything I didn't finish.... so... I dunno.

Some of these books, I could return to. And maybe I will. But I might as well read the ones that grip me first. I feel like, at least, I'm getting a good sampling of what's out there and up for awards, and some books I gave a hundred or more pages--I gave up on both ANCILLARY SWORD and THREE-BODY PROBLEM well after 100 pages. I kept going with both of those because, particularly Leckie, is up for SO MANY awards and THREE-BODY PROBLEM is that book that everyone is talking about. (I dropped out of both those books, interestingly, because I just didn't care that much. The authors failed to give me a human/heart to hang on to, and I'm just not an idea-driven reader. I need to have some reason to care beyond 'whiz-bang.' And, I'm very fond of whiz-bang, as I read a lot of graphic novels/comic books/manga. But trust me, all the ones of those I love also have a human core--I don't need much, just something or someone whose story affects me.)

At any rate, I thought I'd confess all that here. Forgive me, Reader, for I have sinned...
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
First, a book review. I posted my review of Jennifer Marie Brissett's Elysium, or the World After up onBitter Empire. This is a book that 100% fits Tempest's Challenge, by the way, because Brissett is a woman, and, according to the bio in the back, identifies as a British-Jamacian American.

Here it is, Tuesday morning, and I'm mostly recovered from the one, 12-hour day I spent at Anime Detour. The thing that should be known about Detour is that the median age is 14. That means I'm approximately three times older than the average con goer, and SIGNIFICANTLY older than many, many others. This con is also very, very well attended, so much so that getting from point A to point B often involves a myriad of "excuse me!"s and "summimassen!"s as costume bits get jostled against you and there is a general press of bodies akin to walking against the flow on the streets of New York City during rush hour.

I am an extrovert, but I am not a fan of jostling.

Also, this year I wasn't in costume. We really only have the one. Mason says, we're like those three old women in the myths who share the eye. It's not even mine, I've been borrowing it from a fellow Bleach fan, Anna Waltz, for about three or four years now. (Luckily, she's pleased to see it so often used and is happy to continue to extend the loan.) Mason decided to go as pre-evil, pre-"hair lock" Aizen, so the only thing I needed to add to the costume was a captain's coat (a haori). So my friend Naomi and I did a little thrift shop hunting and found a silky bathrobe that only took a bit of removing of bits in order to passably pass as such. I painted on the appropriate number in Japanese (5) and Mason was good to go.

Mason as Aizen:



Aizen as Aizen:



Not a bad likeness, neh?

The five on the back, which you can't see here, pretty much cinches it for most Bleach fans. But, the nice thing is that Mason already has the hair and the glasses, as a kind of gimme, so he was very easily recognizable. In fact, in the first few minutes at con, Mason got the reaction I was expecting. I was taking his picture with an Ichigo (there is always more than one) and a stranger came up (like they do at cons) and exclaims, "Oh, I get it! It's all been part of Aizen's plan since he was, what, ten?" I corrected, "Eleven, but basically yes." Aizen, since most of you probably don't know, is that villain who is always saying, "Ah, so you see, every moment of your life up to this point has been planned by me!"

So, that was kind of the highlight for Mason's cosplay, I think.

We went with Mason's friend Molly who went as Kyubey from Madoka Magica. I saw a number of other Kyubey's but Molly was the only one who had the actual magical girl contract and soul gems for people to have. Most of the people Molly asked knew enough about the anime NOT TO SIGN THE CONTRACT. But she found a few to play along and those that did were really, really charmed by the soul gems she handed out (which I think were Lego gems or possibly beads).

Molly as Kyubey:



Kyubey as Kyubey:



Since I wasn't in costume and was mostly playing "mom," I ended up going to more paneling than I normally would at Detour. I went to two panels which were different versions of "What You Should Be Watching." The first one was run by a guy I instantly mentally labeled as "Anime Hipster" because, while these two things should be mutually exclusive, this was a guy who experienced anime the way hipsters experience everything: ironically. So, you know, his recommendations were all super-obscure and kind of arty in a way that didn't appeal to me because I am a rube who does not appreciate the finer things in life and how awesome irony is when its very IRONIC. For the most part I watched his recommendations with a lot of head shaking.

However, I did write down a live-action show called Aoi Honoo/Blue Blaze which is about a manga artist student in the 1980s.

The other panel like this I attended I actually ended up writing down a couple of recommendations. This person still had things on her list that I wasn't fond of, but Mason noticed right away that one of my favorite anime of this last year, "Barakamon," was on her list.

Of hers, the one I thought I'd be most likely to watch is called Hamatora. Mason pretty much loved all of her recs, but I only wrote down this one and one other, Akatsuki no Yona/Yona of the Dawn.

Though I think Mason and I have agreed to try Hamatora first, just because the action in the clip she showed us looked super cool.

Otherwise, as mom, I spent a lot of time hanging out at the manga library station because that was our designated "meet up" spot, and that way the kids could come and go from there as they pleased. I brought along GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE by Andrew Smith, which I'd been reading, and mostly just sat on a bean bag chair on the floor and alternated between people watching and reading. Even so, the press of people really wore me out.

A good time was had however.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Last night was my first "Mars Needs Writers" class at the Loft. I'm happy to report it's a nice size; there's an even dozen, (if you include me.) I was only expecting seven, so this is quite a jump.

It went well. VERY WELL.

The class seems willing to talk to each other and interrupt me and throw out ideas and share stories, so that's FANTASTIC. This is Minnesota, you know, so class participation can be sketchy. I like to know the lay of the land early, i.e., am I going to have to have a LOT of material prepared so I can monologue, or can I depend on some back on forth to help carry the lectures? I test the waters with the class' outgoingness by doing an exercise/lecture the first day that *can* work if I just talk the whole time, but also encourages participation if there's willingness. I ask for definitions of science fiction vs. fantasy. Obviously, I can just DO this by myself, but I always hope that someone will start throwing out thoughts, etc.

It always takes an explicit ASK and a few 'please, I won't judge's, but I had several talkers this time around, so this is going to be FUN.

Yay!

Plus I over-caffeinated, so I did the Lyda show with a lot of dork dancing and gesticulating. So I'm sure even for the shy ones, there was entertainment value to be had. I did promise them that the day after, I would post a slightly more coherent 'lecture' covering the important bits over on my Tate Blog. If you're curious about the content of my first class, you can read it here: "Woke Up Still Caffeinated...". Mostly the blog this time was me saying, "Oh, yeah, that thing said this guy said? It was actually this other guy."

So, should be good. Fingers crossed, anyway.

In other news, my second official review at Bitter Empire is out: Bullet Catcher's Daughter. Check it out!

Speaking of Bitter Empire, I got my first official review "assignment" and its a doozie! They've asked if I'd be willing to read and review some dinosaur erotica, which is, in fact, a Thing. I bought two of them. I will be reading them today. JUST TRY AND STOP ME.
lydamorehouse: (unimpressed renji)
This morning I was ready to take my car into Dave's Auto in order to get the blinker fixed. I packed up my charged-up laptop and gathered up everything else I might need in order to spend several hours at the library.

Mason came downstairs and announced he'd just been sick. We debated about keeping him home, but he said that he wanted to try to go. So we got ourselves ready and took him to school. Two steps from the car, Mason face planted like a pro. BAM! Straight down into the concrete. He says he wasn't dizzy, but it was a spectacular nose dive, nonetheless.

I pulled over, Shawn rushed out to give him a huge hug and I directed them both back into the car with a, "Nope, forget it, that's a sign. We should keep you home." I dropped Shawn back at work and stopped on the way home at my favorite Irish coffee shop to get a cup of coffee AND buy a green St. Patrick's day shirt. I figured maybe, just maybe the Good Neighbors had it in for us (we hadn't worn any green at all and Mason has plenty of Irish blood in him). So, as soon as we were home, I got Mason's huge shiner cleaned up, got him a new pair of glasses (his were completely wrecked) and tucked him into some GREEN (for protection, dammit.) Probably he'd have been fine to go to school, but screw it, that's the beginning of a No-Good Rotten Day if I ever saw one. We declared today "Fuhgeddaboudit Day" and "Nope Day."

When I called Dave's Auto, the guy on the other end of the phone was super-understanding. His whole family had gotten the flu and no one likes to face plant. So, I've got a new appointment for the car on Thursday. Our signal can keep being RANDOM until then. If nothing else, it's been nice enough out that I can hand signal my turns, if need be.

So today will be a day for doing other things. We may still end up at the library because some of the Terry Pratchett books I ordered for Mason have come in. Nothing soothes the soul like some Discworld books (or so I have been told.)

My first official, full-length review is up at Bitter Empire today: Meg Elison's 'Book of the Unnamed Midwife' is a Very Feminine Apocalypse. Let me know what you think!
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
What better day to schedule an appointment with the Tax Guy, than a Monday, eh? Yeah, well, it shouldn't be too painful. I made some money writing this year thanks to Audible.com and trickling royalties, but I was also having the government pre-take-out taxes on all the work I did for the Library. Between that and the money Shawn paid quarterly, I suspect we overpaid and will be getting a refund, as usual.

The only reason we go to a Tax Guy (this should be a title, like Captain, so I am capitalizing it A. A. Milne style) is because I don't want the headache of figuring out all the things. We have a child, we have a house, I have, like, at least three jobs (if you include my teaching) so it just makes sense to pay a little money to avoid tears and possible arguments. I think of the money we pay Tax Guy as money that we DIDN'T have to spend on couples' therapy.

The other trauma in my life is that our blinker on our car has become utterly RANDOM. It's not just blinking fast or suddenly quitting in the way that would make me think "Ah, I must replace a fuse" but RANDOM. Like, works some times/doesn't work at all/blinks twice and then quits. As Mason points out that makes our car one giant moving violation, so I'll be taking it into our friend Dave's Auto in Roseville tomorrow morning. Honestly, I suspect they'll find a whole bundle of wires that have been damaged by water or squirrels or something because I also have a very RANDOM (which I think should just be all-caps because it's deeply frustrating and random seems like a thing one should respect by shouting) engine light that pops on and off, as well as other dashboard Gremlins.

Otherwise, life continues apace. Shawn is fully recovered. She says she still gets weird twinges just after eating, as though the phantom gallbladder is trying to do its thing, but otherwise she's as good as new. I'm especially happy to report that she's taken back over laundry duty which is a huge relief to me personally.

Mason and I also recorded our MangaKast podcast: The Ywach Puppet Show

Having given up 200+ pages into THREE BODY PROBLEM, I'm currently reading a book that's up for a Lambda called AFTERPARTY which I absolutely adore.... except for one weird problem. The main character's name is... Lyda. For real, Lyda. Lyda Rose, no less. And, I know that most people have to deal with this all the time, but I NEVER come across a book with my name in it. NEVER. Add on top of this that the Lyda of AFTERPARTY is also a lesbian and is hallucinating angels. It's like someone wrote an alternate universe, real-person fic about me.

Honestly, in my head, I've just been switching to Lydia. That makes it all better.

I will say that I ended up having to reach out to the author, Daryl Gregory to tell him just how eerie it was to be reading about a Lyda who has so many similarities to myself and I got a Tweet back from him:

tweet from Daryl Gregory

Which was just perfect. I am now rooting for him to win the Lammy (sorry Alyx!)
lydamorehouse: (chibi renji and zabi)
 I have some VERY AMAZING cover art design to share with you guys for the book that Rachel Calish/Gold and I have written.  This is the story that we've been publishing in serial form over at http://entertheunseen (and re-issuing, as it were, on WattPad as well).  The cover art was designed by Rachel's friend Kristin Smith, and I really love it:



 
 
This is, at the moment, a GIANT TEASE because we're still in the production phase.  The book, however, will (baring acts of god[s]) be available for purchase at MarCON (March 6 -8).  Kristin did an amazing job with the interior as well and there will be illustrations through out from our artists Alexis Cooke and Mandie Brasington.  There will be an ebook version, as well, but I have no idea when that will be available.  Of course, as soon as it is, I'll link it here.  I'm assuming we'll sell the print version via the usual e-bookstores, too.  (This is where, once again, I'm SUPER-GRATEFUL not to have to be the only one in charge of dealing with all this, because the dealing with Amazon.com, etc. is never fun.)

In other news, Happy Friday the 13th.

My day started out pretty crappy, but I think it's turning around (fingers crossed).  But, it was just that we had Wyrdsmiths last night, which is always great--though it's being made more awesome by the fact that we've successfully shifted the group so that it's working better for everyone involved (at least in my opinion). But, Wyrdsmiths keeps me out late.  I was out until after 10 pm, which isn't late for most people, but I have to get up and moving at 5:30 am in order to get everyone in the house off to where they need to be.  Honestly?  Shawn gets up at 5:30 and I lay there complaining about it until closer to 6:00 am, but it's still rough when you didn't manage to get to sleep until nearly midnight because you foolishly had a cup of coffee and thus needed a bath and a bit of reading to settle down.  

Speaking of reading, I finally got my hands on a copy of THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE by Meg Elison.  As I've said many times before, I'm trying to read my way through the books that were nominated for the Philip K. Dick award this year. This one will be number four, since I've already read MAPLECROFT: THE BORDEN DISPATCHES by Cherie Priest, THE BULLET-CATCHER'S DAUGHTER by Rod Duncan, and MEMORY OF WATER by Emmi Itäarnta.  The current book THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE is also science fiction (which MEMORY OF WATER was) and, like that book, is also an after-the-fall story, though BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE follows much closer on the fall of civilization.  It's also told in several "frames"--there's a bit at the beginning which is further in the future, where we see a school of scribes who's job it is to copy this book... and then we get the story that they're presumably copying, but both in journal entries and in storytelling, so that part is a bit odd, and takes some getting used to. But, despite the clunkiness of the device, I'm enjoying the story... in so much as one can "enjoy" a story that is basically every woman's worst nightmare for the end of the world ever--most of the women died of a mysterious plague and so what is left are roving bands of men who are basically looking to capture, rape, and own any woman they can find. Our hero is a cross dresser (another repeated theme---as the hero of THE BULLET-CATCHER'S DAUGHTER did the same, though for very different reasons.)  

So I don't know if that's affecting my mood, but it might be.  Because it's pretty intense.  

It probably doesn't help matters that I'm also watching a somewhat disturbing anime called Zenkyou no Terror, the "heroes" of which are actually terrorists bent on blowing things up.  

:-)

So, stay safe and well everyone!


lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
I just spent about a half-hour queueing things up on the School for Wayward Demons Tumblr page.  During the process I was chatting with a friend who encouraged me to link to my other Tumblr page (which if you go there RIGHT THIS INSTANT, you'll see I did.)  It's a funny thing, my resistance to... invading this sacred fan space I've made for myself with self-promotional things.  It's REALLY silly when you consider that I have no qualms about posting links on my fan tumblr space to my reviews of manga or my podcast or my fan fic.  She asked me if I was afraid to tarnish my professional reputation with my fan one.  My response?  No, it's the other way 'round.

I'm really protective of my fan spaces.  BUT I don't mind people knowing about them.  In fact, I will happily give out my fan name or my AO3 account handle to anyone who asks me at con.  I'm very, very proud that at CONvergence last year, in the women's bathroom, I had someone shyly ask if it was true that I was "junko from AO3."  It turned out, the woman asking was the person who podfic'd my Bleach/Free! x-over, and, once I confirmed and she told me who she was, we did the dance of squee with each other.

So, it's not like I care if people who are my fan friends find out I write professionally, or vice versa.  

I guess it's strange, but I almost feel like self-promoting my original fiction on my fan sites sullies them somehow.  I mean, I should get over that, because, as my friend said, "The data stream is so fast.  No one will really notice."  Which is VERY, very true.  I used to worry that if people found out I was a professional writer on my AO3 account that the tenor of the conversation would change.  The very last thing I want is for people to stop telling me when I suck because, you know, I guess you know better because you're some kind of pro.  Which is, of course, bull.

I sometimes wonder if that's partly why Rachel and I don't get many comments over on entertheunseen.com or why they're not more critical on either of my Wattpad entries.  (It could be, too, that both those venues require some kind of log-in.)  But, I think, often people are reluctant to tell someone they perceive as a professional that they'd like to see the story go another direction... face-to-face/directly.  Obviously, people are happy to say all sorts of things about professional writing on review sites once a book is done and dusted.  I mean, I can understand this hesitance.  People are afraid of being yelled at.  But, I THRIVE on critique.  I love it.  And fan fiction has been a great place to be treated like a peer by a large number of people again.

At any rate, I suspect I've said all this somewhere before.  It's one of my favorite topics to hold forth on. But, so if you want to tell me what-for (and check out some of the new content that's been added) on Wattpad, there is a new installment of School for Wayward Demons up:  Gabe Runs (into Darkness.

Also, my review of the latest chapter of Ao no Exorcist (#64) is up on MangaKast.

In other news, I finished reading Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta.  It was the first of the books I've read so far that are on the Philip K. Dick award nomination list that I would call straight-up science fiction.  It's also a very... subtle, quiet book, despite having a LOT of tension woven in throughout.  I found it very interesting.  The story follows a woman who is the tea master's daughter in a future Scandinavia where we've depleted much of the Earth's viable drinking water.  There's been a kind of post-oil apocalypse and the 'past world' is shrouded in mystery, mostly understood by the things recovered in the plastic graveyards on the outskirts of town.  I would totally recommend the book without any reservations, so long as you weren't expecting a rip, roaring, page-turning thriller.  The ending is also very much a downer, and the only sense of hope comes from the prologue and the implication that there might be a second book to continue some of the threads that don't really get answered.  But, I didn't mind that, surprisingly.  

Now I'm waiting for Book of the Unnamed Midwife to show up through Inter-Library Loan.  Then, the last one will be the Jonathan Strahan book (which he seemed to have edited, Reach for Infinity which I'm reading last because I'm not a big fan of short story collections.)  In the meantime, I think I'm going to start a Melissa Scott book that Shawn nabbed off Amazon when the Kindle version when on one of those 99 cent sales.  

Not much else is going on.  I finished up the two seasons of Tiger & Bunny that Hulu had, and have, on recommendation, started watching Zenkyou no Terror/Terror in Resonance while I wash the dishes.  It's quite a shift in tone, I must say.  Zenkyou no Terror follows two very disturbed and unusual young men (who to refer to each other by numbers because they were raised in some kind of horrible orphanage) who are exacting their revenge on society by... well, by being terrorists.  So you know, from heroes to villains.  It's a bit of whiplash, but I'm enjoying Zenkyou no Terror the same way I enjoyed DeathNote.  It's kind of fascinating to go deep into the criminal mind.  Like in DeathNote, there's a smart, vaguely outsider to root for on the other side, on the good-guy side.  So, I've got that to cling to.  I'm very, very worried for the female character in Zenkyou no Terror, but you know... it's early days.  I'm only on the fourth or fifth episode so far.

Like much of fandom, I'm anxiously waiting for the arrival of this month's Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan.  The things I've seen on Tumblr from the raws make me kind of happy (*anxiously grabs abs*)... I'll have a review up as soon as we see in English.



lydamorehouse: (ichigo adorkable)
Mason and I have the worst luck sometimes.

I went out today to get some groceries and noticed that it was, in point of fact, a f*cking GORGEOUS day. So, when I came home I talked Mason into heading out to "the slopes," as we call the the St. Paul Country Club's Golf Course hill. We piled into the car with a couple of sleds... and it was AWESOME. I bet we went up and down that hill twenty times, screaming all the way down, and hiking our way back up happy (if exhausted.) Right at the very end, we decided to go down together on the toboggan. We'd done this before, mind. The second time was spectacular (the first time I was so scared I clung to Mason and said words an 11 year old should probably not hear from their mother.) So, it seemed a safe bet. Except, of course, somewhere right at the foot, when we were nearly free and clear, something happened. I think an edge of my butt slipped off the sled and we flipped.

And Mason face-surfed his way down.

To add insult to injury, I think rolled over him, like an alligator going into a death roll...

But, despite this mayhem, the most we suffered was some road rash and bruises. No trips to the hospital required. It was just... a painful end to a previously PERFECT day sledding.

The good news is that we got in a solid two hours of fun before disaster hit. I tell you though, something was gunning for some kind of pain, because we watched at least one kid hit a tree (they're all padded, but that's still a jolt), and two others go so fast in their plastic sled that they not only cleared the ridge (a natural up slope that usually stops most sled) but launched themselves over the steps (only barely missing the metal hand-holds) and crashed into the fence. It's not easy to describe the distance they went, but it was INSANE. Moreover, if either of them had been about two inches taller they'd have had some serious head injuries--because they went THROUGH the stair railing. THROUGH it. They were both wearing helmets (which neither Mason and I ever do, though we probably should, given our track record.)

Insane.

But, I don't Mason and I regret going. It was so much fun.

In other news, I finally saw "Edge of Tomorrow." Wow! I'd heard it was a good science fiction film, but I'd no idea. Very well done. If you haven't seen it and you're into SF, I recommend it hands down. No question. Say what you will about Tom Cruise, but he picks really good SF films to be in. Shawn and I both really liked "Oblivion" too.

I'd gush more about it, but I don't want to spoil any of it for people who haven't seen it yet.

When I was at work on Saturday, I learned how to do an inter-library loan because I wanted to continue my hunt to read all the Philip K. Dick award nominees this year. I've got THE BULLET CATCHER'S DAUGHTER by Rod Duncan. The Ramsey County library system had MEMORY OF WATER by Emmi Itäranta, so I'm having that pulled for me, and we managed to inter-library loan ELYSIUM by Jennifer Marie Brissett.  So I'll probably have two books waiting for me next Saturday.  Which is a little dangerous given how slow I read, but I'll read the ILL book first since those can't be renewed.  

Did I tell you about MAPLECROFT: The Borden Dispatches?  I ended up mostly really enjoying that.  I only add the "mostly" because I was a little unhappy with the ending. I suspect that, in a quest to be historically accurate, Cherie Priest went a certain way, which was a shame because it short-circuited some character growth.  I ended up not much caring for one of the main characters thanks to that.  But, I'd still recommend it, though I find trying to tell people about it very difficult because it usually goes like this, "So, okay, the main character is Lizzy Borden, yeah, yeah, that one, with the axe! Right, so she's using her axe to hunt, erm, these freaky sea creatures or maybe aliens or something Chthulu-like..." and by this point most people are backing away VERY SLOWLY.

Even while I'm saying, "No, seriously, it's GOOD!"

It actually got under my skin so much when I was reading it that I had a dream about water running in our house (which is an image Priest uses a lot.)  Plus, let's be honest, with my dyslexia, the fact that I got all the way to the end is a huge testimony to the strength of this book.

Okay, I'm going to go nurse my sore knuckles and maybe settle in with some Bullet Catcher.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
I mostly wanted to log-in to tell you that an interview I did with Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith went up on GayYA.org sometime ago and I missed its debut. It's a fun little conversation about all the hassles they had during the process of trying to find a publisher for their novel Strangers (which I read and enjoyed.) The interview is called: "The Question of Queering the Mainstream Novel..."

Otherwise, I've mostly been lazing about enjoying the heck out of my Christmas/New Year vacation. I had to work yesterday evening for five hours at the Maplewood Library, but otherwise I've been doing a whole lot of nothing. I'm an extreme pro at nothingness. Turns out, I can do it pretty much all day when I put my mind to it. To be fair to myself, I've actually worked quite a bit on the novel that Rachel and I co-wrote as the School for Wayward Demons. I even had a few brilliant insights into how to work tie some scenes together, so that's a win.

I should probably download some of the pictures I took over Christmas/Solstice and post them here so you can see all the fun stuff we got. Naomi asked me what our favorite gifts were this year, and I think for Mason it was the book by the XKCD author What If...? and the giant LEGO set of "Metalbeard's Sea Cow."  Shawn favorite things were a pair of garnet earrings that Mason picked out for her and a pair of fuzzy hand warmers I found for her.  Me, it's hard to say.  I got a lot of nice things, but probably the best for me was the money got from my folks which I instantly ran out and put on a coffee card at Claddaugh and, of course, the two pound bag of foreign coins that Shawn got for me.  Okay, this is a weird thing you probably didn't know about me, but I LOVE weird, old foreign coins.  In fact, I'm always carrying five coins on me at any given time. Why?  Well, it started as a silly Feng Shui thing that I read about long ago, but it just kept on as a... thing, I don't know.  Just a thing I do. But, I periodically lose the coins, so I like having a bunch around to replace them.  Plus, just digging through the lot of them is fascinating.  This year the prize was finding a Soviet coin, complete with the CCCP and the sickle and hammer.  (I also carry around a coin that was clearly made to be a pendant for someone, as a hole was drilled in it, and it's old enough to have been carried during the Civil War, though I think it's Canadian.)  At any rate, this is just a fun weird thing I like.  

So there.

Okay, I just asked Alexa to spell Feng Shui (except I'm never sure how to pronounce it anyway) and I must have really f*cked it up because she said to me, "Technology is complicated.  I don't always understand it myself."

Preach it, sister.

 

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