lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
Once again, I don't think I consumed a single actual novel, but a lot of manga have been read and enjoyed. This week, I read:

Sign Language by Ker, a manhwa (the Korean version of a manga, usually full-color and in web comic format) about the lust-affair between a part-time cafe employee and his deaf boss.

What Did You Eat Yesterday?/ Kinou Nani Tabeta? (Vol. 12) by Fumi Yoshinaga, a manga about cooking and eating and two gay guys for whom food is clearly their "love language."

I Hear the Sunspot / Hidamari ga Kikoeru by Yuki Fumino, a manga about a college note-taker who works for a deaf student, and their compelling slowburn love affair.

Breath (Vol. 1) by Chifumi Ochi, a manga about a jerk and the guy he blackmails. (Can you tell I didn't really like this one?)

I also read the preview copy of Nnedi Okorafor's Black Panther for my review job at Twin Cities Geek.  In fact, today, after I do the dishes and start the bread to go with tonight's jambalaya, I need to sit down and write a review for that.  I also still never turned in my review of As the Crow Flies, so I need to do that, as well.

My other book related news is that I've LOST a library book somewhere in my house.  I took out all 9 volumes of My Neighbor Seki, and I can't find volume one ANYWHERE.  I thinking that I might just read the first volume on-line and then return the others, so that I can focus on finding that book?  I hope that I don't have to confess to my colleagues at work that I managed to lose a book.  That would be so embarrassing!  I'm hoping it will turn up over the holidays. I have a bad feeling that it's somewhere in the bedroom, which could mean that I might have to clean... (drum roll, please).... UNDER THE BED.

The horror!

I'd love to hear what you've read this week or what you will be reading over the holiday break.  

lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
What am I reading these days, anyway? A lot of manga still. This week, I read My Hero Academia / Boku no Hero Academia volume 10, “All For One” / “Ōru Fō Wan,” Blood-C 1 by Kotone Ranmaru, and four and a half volumes of Nana by Ai Yazawa.  I was sort of 'meh' on the first two series, but I'm really enjoying Nana so far, which is good since I think the library has all 21 volumes.  In fact, I was thinking about taking off a little early to go get Mason by way of Roseville Library, so I may just return what I've read and pick up as many as they have in a row.

Nana is about two twenty-something women, both of whom are named Nana. Both are originally from small towns and they meet each other on the train to Tokyo, one wintery night.  Nana Komatsu is frivolous and the sort of giggly girl who pretty much falls for every man she meets.  Nana Osaki is a hardcore punk rocker, hoping to make it big. It's slice-of-life with a heavy dose of romance/sexy times. I have this huge weakness--particularly lately--for slice-of-life stories where there's just not a WHOLE lot at stake, beyond people just trying to live good lives.  So, I'm not entirely surprised that Nana is the one working for me out of the three series I read this week.

Otherwise, I continue holiday baking. Today, I made spritz:

a colorful array of spritz cookies

Here's a close up of ones I was surprised to discover have six-pointed star.  Perhaps for Hanukkah?
Hanukkah spritz?  Was surprised to discover a six-pointed star in the center of these.

The funniest part of all this baking is that we're really not expecting anyone for the holidays.  Shawn just really, really likes having a lot of cookies around.

Who doesn't?

How about you? Reading anything good this week?

lydamorehouse: (aizen's return)
...not only that, but Tom Hiddleston's MCU Loki. It was really awesome. I think I turned into a crow at one point. But, we definitely made an alliance with the giant ant people.

I blame this on the fact that Shawn and I watched Kong: Skull Island together. Was that movie panned? We LOVED it.

But, today is Wednesday, so I'm supposed to be talking about reading. I read a ton of manga chapters this last week and not much else. So, I read:

Koi to Kedama to Otonari-san by Suzaka Shina
Ekrano by Kitoh Mohiro
Weekend Lovers / Yokubari na Shuumatsu by Fuwa Kiriko
Blue Drop / Buruu Doroppu by Yoshitomi Akihito
Wombs by Shirai Yumiko
Legend of the President’s Glasses / Kaichou no Megane Densetsu by Irie Aki

Of those, the stand-out was Wombs. It's a very odd, but compelling science fiction manga about women soldiers who, when impregnated with an alien lifeform, are able to travel through an alternate dimension that moves them through real space.  The story takes place on an alien planet that humans (presumably from Earth) have colonized and terraformed.  We're at war not with the native species, but with a second group of colonizers (presumably ALIEN) who think this planet belongs to them. Since we were there first, it's a fight.  The women are used as troop (and supply) transport, but also as scouts because the various spots that they can hop between are a network left behind (or possibly still used by) the planet's natives.  There's a lot of intrigue about various military groups agendas, what the natives are, what would happen if we let one come to term inside a human host, etc., etc.  There's unfortunately, only one volume that's been officially licensed. If you want to read it, you have to look for it on scanlation sites, like Mangago, etc.  The scanlators seem to have done four out of the five available volumes.

If you ever want to read what I think of the manga I'm reading, you can check out:  I review every manga I read.  Which reminds me that I should write something up about Kill a Kill, which I didn't finish because it turned out to be ecchi. 

In the department of things I'm watching, I just got caught up with Elegant Yokai Apartment Life (though Crunchyroll will likely release another one or two before the year is up, I suspect. I'm NOT a premium member, so I have to watch an extra week for the latest to free up.)  I started watching Mushi-shi, which I'm really enjoying.  I don't post much about the anime I watch because I'm SO SLOW. I'm kind of the exact opposite of a binge watcher. I watch one, half-hour episode a day, while hand-washing the dishes (we don't have a dishwasher.)  I have a couple of friends who can blow through an entire series in a matter of days.  I always feel like a slug in comparison.

How about you? Read anything interesting this week?

lydamorehouse: (Default)
What am I reading? What have I read?

I've been very slowly making my way through Scarlett still, which I think I mentioned last week. Part of my problem with things that I can't finish in one sitting these days is that, if I set the book down at all, some fresh horror will hit the news cycle and I lose days before I get back to it properly. I did manage to read two volumes of Yotsuba&! by Kiyohiko Azuma as well as various yaoi titles (Warehouse, a Korean manhwa, and Ai ga Matteru by Abe Akane) though, which is a marked improvement over the last several weeks.

I've got a ton of stuff in my TBR pile, actually, so I might want to hop to--including a graphic novel that I backed the kickstarter for called As the Crow Files. The actual print copies showed up on the door, so that's a huge yay.  

Otherwise, yeah, it's November, folks. In 17 days, I will turn 50.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 I'm beginning to realize why I previously never participated in these. Okay, the honest truth is that I didn't entirely realize they existed, but, the other part is that, because I hang out with science fiction/fantasy fans who tend to be voracious in their reading habits, I always feel woefully under read.  

Once again, which is, as I have noted in the past, very typical of me, I did read a graphic novel.  I read volume 5 of Ten Count

I have on my TBR pile a couple of manga that I have actually been dreading reading.  My beloved manga Gangsta. had a spin-off called Gangsta.: Cursed.  I read the first few chapters when they appeared online, but I gave up on them because the format they were being pirated in was hard to read and, more importantly, they were so, so violent and bloody.  The mangaka wrote them, but she did not illustrate them.  Since they don't follow a character I much cared for, I let them go. But the library had the complete two volume run, so I thought: "Okay, I should be a completist and finally read these."  

And yet there they sit.

I will probably bite the bullet and read them next however.

Mason also really wants me to read Scarlet, which is the sequel to Cinder, which I listened to the audio book of years ago and liked. He's a big fan of the series, so I agreed to try to pick it up.  That's probably the big book I'll be reading next.  Since I work at the library today, I will probably troll Locus Magazine for more recommendations.

How about you?
lydamorehouse: (swoon)
I think the ONLY thing I managed to read this week was SKIM by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. It was a good, if a bit depressing. I mean things turn around by the end, but getting there was kind of rough.  Read more... )

But, yeah, I don't know what happened to me, otherwise. I started THE SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF HOPE by Claire North, despite the fact that I bounced out of her THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST. I'm not feeling it so far, but I'm also not very far in. I will give it my traditional 50 pages to make or break.  

I know a lot of people who will slog through a book that they've started because they're just that sort: they're completists or stubborn or deeply optimistic (hoping it will turn around at some point!).  With my dyslexia, mild though it may be, I can't do that. If I'm struggling with getting into a book, that slows me down to a crawl and, because I'm also a serial reader, that means I'm not reading anything else.  

So, I've developed a litmus test.  If I'm still enjoying at 50 pages, I'll keep going. If I'm struggling, I'll still give it 50 to change my mind.  I do realize this means there are books I miss because they really pick up after page 150 or whatever, but see above. I just don't have that kind of time. I have give up books later than 50 pages, but 50 seems like a good amount of time for me to get used to a writer's voice or style, in case that's the only thing I'm cold to, you know?

What about you? Are you a stick to it no matter what person? Or do you have some arbitrary number of pages? Or do you just give up whenever? I know that Shawn, for instance, won't even give 50 pages if she decides the book is not for her for any reason. She reads really fast, though, unlike me, and, also unlike me, has several books going at once.  So, giving up on one does NOT necessitate hunting around for the next one (like it does for me.)

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.


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.

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.  


*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:


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.


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:


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.


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:

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.


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.

April 2019

 1 234 56
789 10111213
1415 1617 181920


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Apr. 18th, 2019 08:31 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios