lydamorehouse: (??!!)
All I know is that it's 2019. I have no actual idea what day of the week it is. Wednesday is my best guess.

My family all went back to school and work. I stayed home with kitty, who is still with us, but it's unclear how long (more under the cut at the end.) I was extremely grateful when [personal profile] naomikritzer reached out to offer to bring lunch and chat. She brought some potato/leek soup that was left over from a New Year's Eve party that she'd gone to. I supplied some day-old French bread, and she also brought a spinach and cheese stuffed naan that needed to be rescued from a freezer that apparently stopped freezing and used up. All and all a lovely meal, made more lovely by the chance to chat with a dear friend about anything OTHER than a sick cat for several hours.

It is also "What Are You Reading" Wednesday, and I can report that I read another short story last night. "Sour Milk Girls" by Erin Roberts which I kind of hated. There's no hard and fast rule that stories have to have a happy ending to be satisfying. Lots of people will tell you that they sometimes feel that grim endings are more realistic, but what "Sour Milk Girls" felt like to me was "mean girls being mean, the end." There was a clever sort of word-building going on, but one of the main plot points (memories being wiped) was never explained in context of the world. What was the point of it? What did the people doing the wiping (institutionally, and then, later, individually) get out of it? What was the benefit? And, then it was just "ha, ha, we were mean."

Or, so it seemed to me.

Well, I will keep hunting. I have five slots I can fill in my nominations for the Nebula, and I only have three filled so far. There are lots and lots of eligible short stories out there.

I'm also revisiting Starhawk's Truth or Dare.; Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery, which is a book I tried to read when it came out in the late 1980s. I'm not sure how this type of book bills itself. It's not non-fiction, though it tries hard to be, with footnoted research and a lot of academic language. It's kind of like creative nonfiction, maybe? With a dash of memoir and a lot of poetry? Starhawk (a native St. Paulie!) is one of those people that a lot of pagans my age read back in the day. She's probably best known for Spiral Dance, which is a bit more of a how-to. Possibly my revisiting of Starhawk should have started there, because I'm finding Truth or Dare tough going. Reading it has made me think about how little has changed and how many revolutions are still needed.

When I need something lighter (or to pass the time at the vet's office), I've been SLOWLY making my way through the first Longmire book, The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson. Shawn and I really enjoyed watching "Longmire," and Shawn found a copy of this at on the library friends bookstore's free shelf.

Cat update (not good) )
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Today, despite waking up to freezing rain, I took Shawn into work this morning, got myself some coffee, and made another quick run to PetCo for a bunch of cat food for Ms. Ball.

Friday is normally the day that I go meet my writing friends at Claddaugh Coffee. It was looking like it might get cancelled, since Eleanor is out of town and [personal profile] pegkerr was visiting family. But, [personal profile] naomikritzer and I decided to meet, anyway. I really, really needed to get out of the house and think about something OTHER than Ms. Ball and Mason is perfectly capable of looking after her while I was out for a couple hours. (I will give y'all an update under the cut, below.)

Hanging out with Naomi bolstered me enough that I was able to make a normal dinner for my family when I came home--something I really had NOT been up to for the last few days. To be fair, I made a staple: Indian chicken (sauce from a box), rice, and homemade (fake) naan. And, I fell asleep in my chair while waiting for the naan to rise. But, getting everyone to the dinner table felt like a real accomplishment.

I've been thinking ahead to the new year and one of the things I really want to get back to is my regular reading habit. It feels very weird not to have read much over the past few months. If any of you have suggestions for books, I'd love to hear them. Currently, I'm looking for new-ish authors (preferably PoCs, queer/trans folks, and/or women) who write science fiction/fantasy. I'm fairly well read in the last few years' SF/F award winners, as I challenged myself to read those a couple of years ago. But, even if you have something you love that doesn't seem like it would fit that, I'd still love to know what you've been reading and enjoying. There is no genre I won't read. I'm currently reading a Western, so, seriously, offer up anything! I'd even be up for a good non-fiction book.

The only thing my brain has had energy for over the last few days have been novelettes and short stories. I'm a SFWA member (smartest thing I EVER did, career-wise, was buy a lifetime membership) and so I've been prepping to nominate for the Nebula Award. Things I've read so far and enjoyed are:

A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E Harrow

You Can Make a Dinosaur, but You Can't Help Me by KM Szpara (has a trans character and is #ourvoices)

Cherry Wood Coffin by Eugenia Triantafyllou (Horror)

The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births by José Pablo Iriarte (has a non-binary character)

The Thing About Ghost Stories by Naomi Kritzer

I read several others, including: "The Court Magician" by Sarah Pinsker, which I enjoyed, but which felt like the author had discovered Orson Scot Card's book on writing and particularly the section about "the price of magic" and didn't really have much else for a story. I also read "Mother Tongues" by S Qiouyi Lu, which I liked quite a bit, but it actually HAS to be listened to via the podcast as there are large sections of untranslated Mandarin. I also listened to "Dandelion" by Elly Bangs, which I felt mostly 'meh' about, but that might be because everything was starting up with Ms. Ball about the time reading that one.

There were a number that I started, but gave up on, too.

I haven't read any manga in weeks. I need to get back into that habit, too. But, to be fair on that front, I did participate in Yuletide this year as a pinch hitter, so I was busy reviewing some of my favorites.

Okay... and now for the Ms. Ball update (TMI warning) )
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 I honestly do not know where the time goes.  

Well, yesterday I worked at the library.  I discovered some time ago that the Dementors, who had been banished from Shoreview (due to the sunlight and remodel,) have shifted to New Brighton. I ended up working New Brighton for two Tuesdays in a row and I'm thinking that I need to put New Brighton on my 'only if there are no other hours available' list. The Dementors at New Brighton are much more mild than they used to be at the old Shoreview--no one, for instance, has called administration to harass me for enjoying my job too much (yes, this actually happened at Shoreview in the past.)  BUT, it's kind of a death by a thousand cuts thing, you know?  I've talked about this before, but I think in addition to the silent "you just did the thing, but I'll redo it in front of you" there's also the general SLOWNESS of New Brighton. I probably wouldn't notice the first bit, if I were generally busier.  But, it's just not. The library is tiny and on days like yesterday, when it rained for much of the morning and afternoon, it's DEAD.  

People have time to get on each other's nerves when there isn't much else to do.

So, there's that. But, I mean almost any work environment is survivable for short, four hour shifts.  Add to that that money is a strong motivating force in my life and it's, ultimately, not much to complain about, really.

Yet I love to complain, so there's that as well.

Anyway, since it's Wednesday, I should probably at least mention some things I've read. I just finished reading a wonderful manga series called SATURN APARTMENTS.  It's science fiction, and, despite the title, it actually takes place on a ringed "apartment complex" in the Earth's stratosphere.  Our heroes are window washers.  I kind of feel like that should be enough to sell you on this manga, because WINDOW WASHERS IN SPAAAAAAAACE!  But, what else can I say about it?  It's charming. The hero is very plucky and outgoing and relentlessly cheerful and optimistic. There is a secret about Earth's surface, and class warfare. 

This is not the kind of manga that inspires fan fic. There aren't a lot of ships to sail and the art style is very atypical.  If you're normally turned off by the big eyes, etc., SATURN APARTMENTS might be a good first foray into the world of manga.  Outside of the fact that it reads "backwards," the story is much more like a typical Western graphic novel. 

I still haven't been able to consume many traditional novels. I have one, the Taiwanese mystery that I mentioned before, on my bedside table, but I keep finding other things to do with my time. I continue blame Trump for this problem.  I get awfully depressed when I think about what's happening in my country, and then all my brain wants to do is curl up on the bed and play mindless video games (like not even GOOD video games, stuff that's the mental equivalent of 'Solitaire.') 

The rain was lovely last night and I hope my grass seeds and flower seeds take root and grow.  I have a couple more gardens to try to clear out and figure out, but, as always happens this time of year, it all ends up seeming so daunting.... I mean, my problem has always been this love/hate relationship I have with gardens. I LOVE gardens and the idea of gardening, but I HATE weeding and the actual physical labor that goes into creating and maintaining a good garden.

Speaking of physical labor, I ought to go do the dishes.
lydamorehouse: (Renji talking smack)
 I just got back from a walk to the Mirriam Park Library.  It's no more than eight (?) blocks from my house, but I almost NEVER walk there--partly because I'm lazy, but in another part because, to get there, I have to pass under highway 94 and it's kind of ugly.  But, the sun was sort of half out and I thought, why not?

On the way back, I decided to take the Aldine Street pedestrian walk OVER the highway.  That brought back a lot of memories of walking that way to "ding-ding" park with Mason when he was a toddler.  (Mason called it 'ding-ding' park because of its proximity to the railroad tracks. The crossing guard things make a very loud dinging noise when a train is approaching.)  As I wandered through those old haunts, it occurred to me that another fun thing I could do for exercise is take random walks through the city. I've fairly thoroughly explored my own neighborhood and I find it kind of unattractive, so I'm thinking about expanding outward.

I have a number of friends who live in interesting, far-away places and I always think, "Gee, if *I* lived somewhere interesting, I'd play tourist 24/7."

But, the thing is, I DO live in an interesting place... and more importantly, I have a Go-To card and live within spitting distance of a light rail stop. I could literally make a game of--on mornings when I don't work--getting on the light rail and going to a random stop, getting out, and wandering around. When was the last time I explored Dinkytown on foot?  It's been a while. Might be fun. If I do go, I'm going to bring along my camera so that I can take pictures of whatever I might find. 

Alas, it seems I've forgotten Reading Wednesday again.  The only thing I have to report is a bunch of manga.  I've actually started a mystery novel, the sequel to the Taiwan Night Market book I read some time ago last year.  This one is called INCENSED.  I like it because the author has the right amount of travelogue to mystery.  I'm not a huge mystery reader, so what *I* want is insights into living in Taiwan, particularly Taipei. As you all know, I have a dear friend living there now and so I love to be able to read up on things she might be seeing and doing, so I can pester her about them in letters I write.

She's one of the people that I think of when I'm thinking about how cool it would be to be living somewhere INTERESTING. 

Alright, so it's a bit late, but did YOU read anything good (or bad) this last week?
lydamorehouse: (??!!)
I... wow, I really have been crappy at keeping up with my reading. I didn't finish a single book, though I've read several hundred pages on a non-fiction book about teenage depression. (Don't worry, Mason is FINE. I just happen to have a number of friends whose kids seem to be going through this and I wanted to read up.) The rest of what I've been reading is manga, which I will enumerate below.

Lupin Sensei / Lupin III by Monkey Punch (vols. 1-4)
Kabeana Money Hole by Nakawaga Riina
Kabeana Heaven Hole by Nakawaga Riina
Ojii-sama to Neko / The Gentleman and the Cat by Sakurai Umi
Judge by Tonogai Yoshiki (vol. 1)
Our House Love Trouble by Owaru

Of these, probably the best (and, sadly shortest,) is Ojii-sama to Neko, which is ADORABLE and, for all intents and purposes, is the manga version of Mr. Putter & Tabby, a children's series I adored by Cynthia Rylant, which might be the root of my adoration of slice-of-life/no-drama-really-happens types of stories.

Speaking of MangaKast, (which we weren't, but I did review all of these at that site), I saw a funky sudden uptick in views a couple of days ago. The only thing I can attribute it to is that a link to my review site appears under my bio as Guest of Honor on the MiniCON page. It was listed as a place to sample my "work"... hahahahaha. More like SEE WHAT KIND OF PORN I'M READING!  

I... really hope that no one got a shock when they clicked through, if, indeed, that's where this significant bump in readership came from.  

Honestly, I was just chatting with another manga/anime WordPress blogger today about all this, and I really have no idea what drives people to--or away from--my manga blog. I've always just reviewed whatever the hell I'm reading (so long as it is manga-related), and YET, despite my haphazardness, I actually get fairly significant traffic to that site--if the statistics are to be believed. If I'm reading this right, I get about 300 visitors, on average, per day.  Maybe that's actually nothing, but that seems like a lot to me, especially given that I am writing about something very niche, and very random. And I have made no real attempts to connect to the manga/anime community. At best, I send off a link to my Twitter account. I don't even tap Tumblr unless I'm reviewing Bleach (dead now) or Blue Exorcist.

So, I don't know what to make of that.

The real question is: what are YOU reading? Anything good?

lydamorehouse: (Default)
I don't think I read ANYTHING this last week, besides the Internet, which is a monumental reading fail.  I blame MarsCON? Trump?  ....myself? (It's probably that last one. I could have at least read more of The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, since I ended up keeping it longer than I should've. I also could have picked up a few more manga, but I guess I just failed. I did write a little bit of fan fiction, however, so that's a positive.)  Still, I hate have a weekend with nothing to report. I endeavor to be better next week.  

On the other hand, having just been to the library, I have a *fantastic* TBR pile. Would you like to know what's on this fabulous list?  Well, you're in luck!

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnellly
Incensed by Ed Lin 
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock.

I'm still working through the debut authors from the Locus Recommended Reading list, but I did note that Amberlough seems to be up for a Lambda, too.  (A twofer!)  

Since I like to be completely surprised by the books I'm reading, I let Mason read the backs of these and pick one for me.  He chose An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors, which I started at the restaurant last night.  I'm not sure about it; it has airships, but I'm going to give it at least 50 pages, which is my deal with myself.

That's what I'm looking forward to reading. How about you? Read anything fun last week? Anything awful? Anything?
 
lydamorehouse: (ticked off Ichigo)
Oops.

Yeah, so, I guess the last few days have escaped me. I know where yesterday went: I worked at White Bear Lake library. While there, I discovered that I may have lost a book.... one that *I* checked out. I'm going to have to go to Roseville and confess today. The dumbest part is that I think I lost one of my OWN Japanese language books in the process. I think I returned a book that I actually bought at the Friends sale, thinking it was this missing one. But, I have turned the house upside down and the book remains at large. It's so weird, because I always put my library books in one or two places. I do this because our house is otherwise quite full of books and a library book can easily get lost among all the others.

Ah, it's going to be embarrassing. But, there's nothing for it.

But, so, yes, speaking of books. Last week I quit a number of books. I had been trying to find a good mystery that had Taiwan as a backdrop, but the books I found all wanted to be mysteries more than they wanted to be travelogues. So, I quit on Toroko Gorge by Jacob Ritari and Out of Turns by Anne G. Faigan. While looking for the authors of these books, I see that Ed Lin has produced two more books in his Night Market mystery series. I liked Ghost Month quite a bit, because the mystery was really quite secondary to all the interesting bits of scenery of Taipei and Taiwanese culture. Looks like Ramsey County has the next book, Incensed, so I'll put that on request.

I'm going to be forced to quit The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss, because it was due yesterday and when I went to try to renew it, it picked up a hold. Since someone else is in the queue for it, so I'm going to have to get back in line if I want to finish it. Which is a bummer because I was actually starting to enjoy it, despite the fact that I normally despise anything that breaks the 4th Wall.

And then there was the usual manga/manhwa/manhua:

Make Me Bark by Sagold
Hamerare Host by Kaneko Ako
Gentei Kareshi / Limited Boyfriend by Uni Yamasaki
Ani no Chuukoku / Brother’s Warning by Asada Nemui
Ore Monogatari!! / My Love Story (Vols. 1 & 2) by Kawahara Kazune / Aruko

Most of the above is yaoi/boys' love/BL, with the exception of Ore Monogatari / My Love Story, which is a shoujo (a girls' romance) about the type of guy who is never the hero of love stories, except in this case he is. He's a big bruiser type, but he has a gentle heart and, for once, a girl falls for _HIM_ instead of his classically handsome best friend.

I finally broke down and started watching "Ancient Magus Bride."  I am... wow, did NOT expect it to start the way it did, so we'll see if I stick with it.  There's only one season so far, however, so it might be something I can get through reasonably quickly while washing the dishes.

As I posted before, MarsCON is this weekend.  The only panel I'm NOT looking forward to is the manhwa/manhua one, despite the fact that *I* proposed it.  I proposed it, however, hoping that I was not, in point of fact, the only local person reading these.  I'm certainly no expert, and now I'm the only person the the panel.... on top of which, they seem to have slotted me in the "teen" track (because OF COURSE) and literally the only manhwa/manhua that I've read is COMPLETE SMUT.  I'm trying to decide what to do about it.... it's possible that I won't have much of an audience anyway, in which case we just have a roundtable discussion.  But, I should prepare a list of titles, maybe?  I dunno.  UGH, I'm not looking forward to it, honestly.

Anyway, how's you? What have YOU been reading?
lydamorehouse: (writer??)
 There was a lot of snow, but we had our "Silent" Reading party, anyway.

I would say it was a success. I honestly didn't know how much reading would actually get done, but think everyone other than Shawn and I actually finished a book.  I bailed on the book I was reading, actually. It was called OUT OF TURNS by Anne G. Faigen.  What I wanted was another book like GHOST MONTH, which I really enjoyed--which was a light missing person mystery that was really more a travelogue of Taipei.  The mystery was little more than an excuse to go places in Taipei and "show them off" to the reader. That was GREAT.  Mysteries are fine, but when I'm reading one base in another country, what I really want are details about that other country.

It's weirdly difficult to find good novels that take place in Taiwan. 

Anyway, I started the STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMISTS DAUGHTER instead, and am enjoying that a lot.  I only wish I'd started it sooner, given the two dud books I bounced out of.

So, our party had, as I think I mentioned, a "high tea" theme.  Our friends brought Victoria cakes and a fruit terrine.  We provided finger sandwiches (cucumber!  cream cheese and walnut! brie and apple!) and scones with clotted cream and lemon curd.

And, of course, tea:

high tea for the reading party

I'm actually supposed to be a work right now, but Mason has, I think, a migraine.  He complained of a sore throat this morning, but he had bathroom issues and a really bad headache, that the Tylenol did not touch.  He is prone to sore throats in the morning, but the stomach and head thing could be related, as it's really common in younger people to have stomach upsets with migraines.  So, he's napping right now. If that doesn't punch through the headache, he's going to try to migraine prescription that his doctor gave him years ago (which he's never had to use.) I suspect that's going to do it.  The way this suddenly came on feels very much like one of his mom's migraines. 

We ended up taking him to school only to have to turn around and fetch him. I was able to let work know that I had to bail. I always feel bad when timing works out like this. No one can control a sick kid, but I work so rarely that you'd think the timing would work out better. Ah, well. It's not like I was on for a terribly long shift--only four hours. I suspect they can make it without any one, if the office can't get an emergency replacement.

So there you go. My weekend in a nutshell. You?
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Today would have been a fine day to call a snow emergency (and maybe even cancel school), but alas, I spent the morning unburying my car and shoveling 6-8 inches (15 cm - 20 cm) of snow from my sidewalk--officially, they're saying we only got 5 inches (12.7 cm,) but they clearly did not measure *my* sidewalk.

They're predicting another big storm to roll through on Saturday night. Of course, we had been planning to have a "Silent Reading Party" on Sunday. I'm hoping we can still do this, as it's SUCH a great idea. Forbes has an article about them, but the concept is pretty straight forward. You get together with friends and read. Our particular take was going to be: Reading plus English High Tea.  We're going to make finger sandwiches, scones, maybe a sausage roll, and, of course, tea. We were inviting our friends to bring PJs or comfy clothes, blankets, pillows, etc., and basically have a pajama day with fancy snacks.

I think even if our friends can't make it, we're definitely going to be hunkered down and reading. Luckily, I have a LOT of books to chose from right now.  Should be fun, no matter what happens. Plus, this particular group of friends (Rosemary and her mom) are very outdoorsy. I wouldn't put it past them to ski over here if the roads are otherwise impassable.  

Today, in about fifteen minutes, I'm off to Claddagh. First, I'm meeting up with the Loft manuscript guy (the one I was reading FOREVER) to fulfill the last of my contractual obligation to him, and discuss his book.  Then, I'm going to hang out with my lady friends who always gather there and probably debrief a bit, as well as catch up on the gossip... er, "networking." 

Mason is at robotics until late again tonight. They're actually on break from robotics, since everything is bagged, but the robotics folks traditionally help set up for the LEGO tournament, which is happening at Washington tomorrow.  He'll be there until 5 pm. They might actually be going later, but he wants to be back home in time to watch his favorite professional Overwatch team play competitively.  This is one of those areas where I feel VERY OLD, as the idea of watching someone play video games competitively, like a sport, seems pretty alien to me. Mason is super into it, though. He's got a team he's rooting for, players he knows "stats" for, and all of that.

Okay, I should go find some warm socks if I'm going to brave the outside again....

Ja mata! (Later!)


lydamorehouse: (Default)
I have a number of books that I'm currently reading, but I'm not sure if I finished anything. I did read four volumes (two in paper, and the others via scanlation sites) of Totsukuni no Shoujo / Girl From the Other Side by Nagabe, which is a very creepy/cool manga that I'd highly recommend. Otherwise, I have a book I think I started last week called An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King on my Kindle. I picked up a hardcover book, a mystery that takes place in Taiwan, called Taroko Gorge by Jacob Ritari...but it's a disappointment to me so far because what I really want out of mysteries set abroad is a travelogue with a small story attached, and currently I'm getting a lot of character study of a disgruntled, jaded American journalist and his hippy/New Age cameraman.

That's my reading.  In fact, I think I may head out early today because I have a bunch of things that need to make their way back to the library.  Maybe I'll poke around and see if there's anything else of interest there.

How about you? What've you been reading this week?
lydamorehouse: (yaoi)
Wow, today, huh? It started out nice enough with a Valentine's Day smooch from my wife, but then it proceeded to get... hassle-ish? Shawn needed to pick up doughnuts for her volunteers. We stopped at our usual place, Sugah Rush, only to discover a sign that said "Closed" with a "back at 7:30" sign underneath that.  Okay, that was weird, since they're usually up and running at 6:30 am, but okay. I dropped Mason off, then Shawn, bought myself a coffee, and drove back. I arrived at 7:32 am. The door was still closed. So I waved over the counter girl who explained, that no, they were closed the whole week (possibly for Chinese New Year?) I suggested maybe they handwrite a sign? Because we could have gone somewhere else rather than looping back.

I go next to Wollet's, which is open, but significantly more expensive. I make up the difference between what Shawn gave me from petty cash and have the nice lady there give me an assortment.

Off I go to MHS. Only to discover that the History Center's doors are locked AND I'm completely out of minutes on my phone. I see someone coming in and I say, "Excuse me, these doughnuts need to go to Shawn Rounds in the State Archives. Could you deliver them?" He says he could, and I think, "Okay, good. PROBLEM SOLVED."

Only, when I finally get home and call Shawn on the landline, she hasn't seen her doughnuts.

I think someone just stole our doughnuts.

I'm hoping Shawn will call soon and let me know that I'm wrong and that they actually arrived, unscathed.

It's Reading Wednesday also, I guess? Well, I finished that manuscript that's been hanging around my neck like an albatross. So, that's definitely a good thing. I also read Tropic of Kansas by Christopher Brown, which is a book that I got from the library which was listed on the most recent Locus Magazine "recommended reading list," in the subcategory of debut authors. I like reading debut authors for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that since they're brand-new, it's extremely unlikely that I'll have to hunt up the rest of a series in order to enjoy their current title (sometimes, of course, this might be a first novel, but they have a ton of short fiction.) Also, obviously, it gives me a taste of the new blood coming into science fiction/fantasy.

I really liked Tropic of Kansas. I'm going to go over to Goodreads in a bit and see if I'm alone in this. Thing is, I could see people feeling differently, if only because the book very much goes off the "if things continue this way" premise of Trump-inspired future. Brown does take some pains to make it clear this is actually an AU, (Reagan's assassination is successful, for one,) but the fascist dictator and his "first girlfriends" bare a certain resemblance in spirit to 45. Luckily, the story is about the underground attempt to overthrow fascism, which is always a story I can read, even in these, the waning days of Babylon. (Goodreads has very mixed reviews that do seem to depend somewhat on one's political leanings.)

I read a couple of fluff volumes of manga, too. I read Plum Crazy!: Tales of a Tiger-Striped Cat (volumes 1 & 2) by Natsumi Hashing. I picked those up at the library, in the juvenile section (even though its Japanese publishing rating is  'josei' which is for more adult readers). This is a story about people who own cats, or maybe cats who own people.  Plum belongs to the household of a woman and her son who run a traditional dance studio in small town Japan.  Plum has adventures there and, along the way, discovers an abandoned kitten, who she rescues and who causes all sorts of trouble. It is, however, kind of about nothing at all... which is often the kind of slice-of-life manga I adore tremendously.  A good antidote to the dystopia of Tropic of Kansas.

What are you reading?

I'm off in a little bit to go fetch some ingredients for Mason's Chinese class. He and another student are making "longevity noodles with chicken" for the class's Chinese New Year celebration tomorrow.  I'm thinking about hitting United Noodle because I love that place. (I'm pretty sure I could get the noodles elsewhere, but hey, and excuse to go to United Noodle for the win!)

UPDATED DOUGHNUT STATUS: UNDELIVERED. But, Shawn was able, through an MHS-wide email, discover that my "helper" had dropped them off at the information desk with no note or explanation. Shawn is on her way to pick them up now. 

In related news, I now have minutes on my phone.
lydamorehouse: (??!!)
A lot has actually happened in the intervening week that I failed to report. A dear friend of mine, Peg Ihinger (known to a lot of readers as pegkerr), lost her husband, Rob, to cancer. His memorial was last Friday. Rob's obit ran in the Star Tribune. His daughters did the most amazing eulogies that broke me down to tears, which, considering that I'm far close to Peg than I ever was to Rob, is something.

Funerals are always awful, though I really enjoyed the fannish wake that was held for Rob in MnStF style. It made me think that something like that is very much what I'd like for... well, I guess what's weird is that I would actually like it FOR ME, which is to say, I'd want something like that while I was grieving, and the only thing that's wrong with that idea is that Shawn, my wife (the one I'd likely be grieving--banish, banish, banish), is not at all fannish. And, throwing a party might seems weird, you know:, "I'm a widow! Party for me!! Bring out the Irish folk music!" No, no.... okay, NO. Upon deeper consideration this is a terrible idea for my family, but it was absolutely perfect for Rob and his.

In completely different news, a friend from Wales sent me a care package of tea (thank all the gods! I was back to drinking Earl Grey, which, I had previously considered OK tea and now realize the errors of my ways), jelly babies, and two sets of United Kingdom "Game of Thrones" themed postage stamps. I'm not the world's biggest GoT fan, and have not, in point of fact, even watched a single episode of the HBO series. However, these stamps were just too cool not to try to get copies of. My friend very kindly obliged... I mean, I made her go to the post office twice, which makes me feel rather badly, but I have offered to return any care package in kind, if we could ever figure out if there's anything America doesn't already import to the UK. (In the past, I've sent her things from the Asian markets around here, because those items were harder to find in small town Wales.)

I have also, speaking of reading, still been slogging my way through the manuscript I'm critiquing for the Loft. I have been working at it, steadily, nearly ever day since I got it... it's just slow going when you're reading at that deep a level, I guess. The good news is that I officially have six weeks to finish it, and I don't want it to be hanging around my neck that long. I'm going to keep pushing at it, and hopefully by this time next week I can report that not only did I finish my work, but I had my meeting with the author.

I also signed up for MarsCON programming, so if you're planning on being there, I will be, too.

Things I have read. I'm currently reading an actual novel that I picked off the most recent Locus Recommended Reading List called The Tropic of Kansas by Christopher Brown. I'm enjoying this one so far, despite the fact that it should give me nightmares as it's clearly a dystopian extrapolation of the politics of the current administration.

I've decided I'm going to try to read as many of the debut books listed as possible, so I also have on my TBR pile: The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss and The Guns Above by Robyn Benis.

Read a number of manga this week, of course, including:

Renai Crown / Crown of Love (Volume 1) by Kouga Yun, and
Haru ga Kita / Spring Has Come by Kome Mochino

My library has had a sale of manga that they've weeded from their collection and so I bought several dozen titles, which I will be reading and reviewing over the next week, no doubt. I picked up anything that had a first volume, so it should be interesting to see the range of things.  I suspect I'm going to be reading a lot more shoujo than I normally would have, but what the heck.  The price was right: 5 for a buck.

How about all y'all?


lydamorehouse: (Default)
I spent most of last week reading a manuscript that I'm still working on critiquing for the Loft.

For those of you who don't know, the Loft has a program where you can pay to have your manuscript critiqued by a professional, like myself. Like most things that go through the Loft, it's expensive. To be fair to the prices listed there, I work really very hard on these things and the critique is very thorough--everything from pointing out passive voice to plot holes. So, that's been eating up a lot of my usual reading time.

I did, however, get a few manga (and manhwa) read. I read BJ Alex by Mingwa. Even though this manhwa is definitely a yaoi, BJ does NOT stand for what you think it might. BJ in this context is a "Broadcast Jockey," the Korean equivalent of a YouTuber. I thought a bit about [personal profile] jiawen while I was writing my review, because the only BJs I've ever watched are mukbang, which is a whole separate kind of thing. (If you haven't heard of mukbang, which I certainly hadn't before hearing about it from her, it's basically a You Tube live-stream of someone cooking and eating food, while chatting with people who are texting into their channel. It should be unwatchable, but I have to confess to losing several minutes of my life to more than one, without subtitles, knowing absolutely no Korean.) So, this write up is probably more interesting than the manhwa was, but, if you like yaoi, it is pretty cute and I would recommend it. It's not finished. There were only about 4 chapters up when I read it.

I also read the first volume of Cat Paradise / Gakuen Sousei Nekoten! by Iwahara Yuji which is a manga about a girl and her cat and the magical academy they attend, where they gain superpowers and fight demons. You know, typical manga stuff.

Another manhwa I read was The Baker on the First Floor by GyaGa. This one follows a yaoi artist (whoa! meta!) who falls in love with the titular baker who, in fact, has moved in to the first floor of our hero's apartment building.  There is a wild amount of back story in this one, if you take it on, since both of them have ex-lovers they are hung up on. I mean, I read the whole thing, but it's not a top tier recommendation by any stretch.

Apparently, I also forgot to talk about a number of manga that I read during the big snow storm. If you're ever curious about the manga I consume (and there is a great quantity of it), you can read MangaKast--the site where I review literally everything manga related that I read. 

The other thing I read over the last week were letters that I received from a friend of mine between 1988-1990. I have several more years worth that I want to go through, because this particular friend led a very interesting life. He competed in the Gay Games in Vancouver as a body builder and lived all over the country, including the Castro in San Francisco during the late 80s.  The letters are a surprisingly rich queer history and I haven't even gotten to the part in his life where he becomes a porn star... He and I are FB friends and he said he might one day want to write a book about his life, and I totally he should. His letters certainly read like a novel.

How about you? What've you been up to? Wha'tcha reading?
lydamorehouse: (Default)
..though I don't think I have anything much at all to report.

The only thing I know I read for sure between last Wednesday and this one was about four chapters of Blue Exorcist / Ao no Exorcist by Kazue Katou because I made the decision to renew my subscription to Weekly Shounen Jump.

This was kind of a big moment for me, to chose to forgive them. I was fairly angry at WSJ over their treatment of fans of Bleach. I have my own separate issues with the mangaka of Bleach, Tite Kubo, and how he chose to end his run, but that was different from my frustration that there was never any official release from the English-language Jump regarding Bleach's ending. I was especially mad because it was clear from the pirate sites and their fan translators that the WSJ in Japan was letting fans know that Bleach would be ending soon.  I got into a bit of a Twitter storm with WSJ (English-language) over it because it felt very much like there was ZERO point in paying for a subscription that gave me LESS THAN what pirates could provide.

The other thing that frustrated me about my subscription which I paid doggedly because I felt I owed something to the creators of the manga that I loved, was that Jump was consistently at LEAST one week behind the pirates.  As I snarked in one of my tweets, literally the only thing my subscription to Jump gave me that the pirates couldn't was a stupid Yu-Go-Oh! card that I threw away as soon as it arrived.

But, I noticed that Haikyu! was listed as a Weekly Shounen Jump manga on the cover of the tankobon (the collected volumes), and I started to soften, especially since I know that My Hero Academia / Boku no Hero Academia is also a Jump product.  Add Blue Exorcist / Ao no Exorcist into the mix and suddenly that kind of bent the scales towards renewal.

I'm glad I re-upped, actually.  Not only will I get more Yu-Gi-Oh! cards to toss in the garbage, BUT, in all seriousness, it almost seems as though someone at Jump listened to my crazy ranting.  Blue Exorcist / Ao no Exorcist is actually two weeks AHEAD of the scanlators at the moment--or at least they were at the time I picked up my subscription again. Even just days ahead of pirates makes the subscription worthwhile, IMHO.  Especially since Ao no Exorcist / Blue Exorcist might be my favorite monthly serialized shounen manga currently. (I should note, in case that's confusing, my subscription to WSJ includes what they call Jump+, which is where their monthlies are serialized.)

Speaking of magazines (which Jump used to be), the other thing I've been reading is all the articles in the Atlantic, which Shawn bought me a subscription to for the holidays.  I guess that counts as reading, too, right?

How about you? Reading anything notable?
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
Man, it's a good thing that I didn't make a New Year's resolution about being better at blogging. I would have already messed that one up. I actually didn't make any resolutions this year. I have in the past, but this year I found myself thinking that the best I might be able to hope for is "be nicer," and then I immediately engaged in a knock-down, drag-out internet fight about the new Star Wars movie on my Facebook page and I thought, "Whelp, there goes that one."

Did I read anything this last week? No, I really didn't. I mean, yes, of course, there was a manga. It was really AWESOME manga (and a long one, 21 volumes) called: Shi ga Futari wo Wakatsu Made / Until Death Do Us Part by Takashige Hiroshi / Song Ji-Hyoung ("Double-S"). It's about a blind katana-welding vigilante who ends up as the bodyguard to a girl with pre-cognition.  It's literally everything you want from a story with that kind of premise, including scenes where our blind hero slices bullets with his microfiber space-age katana.  I mean, so CHEESY that it comes out the other side into SO AWESOME, you know?

I highly recommend it, but I'm not sure it's available in any commercial venue. Oh, looks like you can consume it legally:  https://www.amazon.com/Until-Death-Do-Part-Vol/dp/031621390X.  Well, I might have to support this, because I really loved this whole stupid story. The art is really pretty amazing and I loved the characters a lot. If you want to read my review, as usual, you can find it over on Mangakast:  https://mangakast.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/shi-ga-futari-wo-wakatsu-made-until-death-do-us-part-by-takashige-hiroshi-song-ji-hyoung-double-s/

I didn't manage to get any further in the other PEN award novel that I took out from the library.  That one might be a lost cause, after all.  But the library lets me borrow it for three weeks, so I'll keep it around for a while yet in the hopes that I'll feel in the mood again soon. 

How about you?  Read anything of interest this week?

Today is the first day that Mason will be a volunteer debate JUDGE of middle school debate teams. He's going to be over at Highland Park Middle today with a bunch of his colleagues from Washington Tech.  He's super nervous about it, which I understand, but I suspect it will go well (knock on wood.) But, because this is volunteering, I'm going to play chauffeur to a number of his fellow debaters, which should also be interesting. I should see what Google Maps thinks is the fastest route between Washington and Highland.... 

Anyway, the joys of parenting, eh?

lydamorehouse: (yaoi)
I actually read a book. Like, you know, the kind without pictures. It was called Sonora by Hannah Lilith Assadi. I picked it up because Locus Magazine suggested it MIGHT be of genre interest and it was on the long-list for the PEN award. There was one genre moment and it COULD have gone the route of magical realism, but the novel pulled its punches on that aspect in favor of a more "literary" bent. For me, that made it less appealing. I can't, however, say that I HATED the book, because I didn't give up on it. I read the whole thing. I would not, however, recommend it to genre readers. I would say that there was a lot of "navel gazing," except the heroine, Ahlam, lives a wholly unexamined life. She just frames it very poetically.

So, that was a bit of a bust. I did start the PEN prize winner, Out in the Open by Jesus Carrasco, which I'm liking better, though I'm also still waiting for the possible genre element to start. I think maybe it's being set in a dystopian Mexico, but because everything is so rural where we are in the story at the moment, it's not entirely clear yet. It's also not super gripping, so I've set it down and haven't felt a burning need to pick it up right away again. So, we'll see if I can report it read by next week or not.

Otherwise, I did consume my usual amount of manga: You & Me, Etc. / Bokura ni Matsuwaru Et Cetera. by Kyuugo and a chapter of Renai Game by Chidori Peko, "Cinderella and the Shoemaker," both of which were yaoi, neither of which were terribly sexy. Alas. Kind of a "meh," week for reading.

Meanwhile, debate continues to rage on my Facebook feed about Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I find it really kind of amazing, but people are still chiming in either positively or negatively about that movie.  I've continued to engage some folks, but, as I've said many times, if you have a good reason for disliking it, I'm not going to argue with you. I have one friend who wanted a particular character to go one way, and was disappointed when that didn't happen.  Fair.  But, it's people who want to insist that it was bad writing and just stupid... I mean, yes. You're not wrong. Star Wars has never been written on the same level as, I dunno, 2001: Space Odyssey.  This is the same franchise that has "I hate sand. Sand is coarse. It gets into everything. Not like you. You're soft." for dialogue from the young man who would grow up to be Darth freaking Vader.  I mean, of course, we should EXPECT better, but... I'm not sure how much more to expect is reasonable.  Star Wars was never meant to be great literature, IMHO.  But, if that's what you hated, that's fine, I guess. I'm not going to waste hours attempting to prove that the newest Star Wars is the pinnacle of writing prowess, especially since I don't believe that myself.  :-)

I just thought the movie was fun, and I'm surprised so many people seem to hate it with SUCH burning passion.

The movie broke box office expectations (and records?), so people are seeing it. I don't really know what kind of stock to put into box office numbers, because there are plenty of popular movies that 1) I have never seen ("Titanic," being the prime example of that. Still haven't seen it. Have no plans to.) and 2) that I personally think were kind of dumb (too many to list.) So, I don't think there's any particular vindication in the box office success of this film.  I do wonder if the hater population is just loud and vehement, rather than as wide-spread as I'm being led to believe by various fannish media outlets. 

Well, it might make a good topic for a panel discussion at some point, at any rate.  Goodness knows, I've had plenty of practice arguing my points about the movie.  And it's a welcome distraction from the THREAT OF THERMO-NUCLEAR WAR, for f*ck's sake.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Absolutely EVERYTHING.

Except I don't think I did much reading this week. Possibly a manga or two. Oh, yes, I did read My Neighbor Seki / Tonari no Seki-kun (Vol. 1) by Takuma Morishige, but I didn't much care for it.  It should have been perfect for me, it's one of those low-drama slice-of-life type stories I've been craving lately, but it was TOO silly. The story is about a middle grade girl, Rumi, and her desk neighbor, Seki. Seki brings toys to school and plays imaginative games with them that Rumi gets emotionally invested in... to the point that SHE'S the one who gets in trouble for goofing off, not him.  This seems to be a never-ending gag.  I could have read the remaining eight volumes that I'd checked out of the library, but I just didn't trust that the story would ever move beyond this. TBF, normally, I don't need it to. This time, I was just much more "meh" about the set-up. Also, I'm a really hard sell on certain types of broad humor, in manga (often the exact same stuff will work just fine for me in anime.)

I also skimmed an on-line manga called Acid Town by Kyuugo. This one, I started to really like, but then the mangaka seemingly got enamored by some side-characters I cared a whole lot less for, and this angst-y yaoi turned very plot-heavy in a way made me skip through a lot of the action waiting to reconnect with our main characters. I reviewed this one because there was enough in it that I found compelling, but it's not something I'd recommend to anyone who doesn't already consume a LOT of manga.

That was about it.  Normally, Christmas is a great time for me to catch up on reading, but I actually ended up really busy the day after Christmas.  We had gotten FREE tickets to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi at 9:15 am on the 26th, and, just as I was headed out the door, my boss from Ramsey County Library called asking if I could fill in for someone who had suddenly quit. I like to do these emergency saves time to time, so that my boss thinks favorably of me, so I agreed. It was kind of a mistake. The movie was GREAT (thank you to those who encouraged me to go), but it wasn't over until noon, and with getting everyone back (we took Mason's girlfriend along), I wasn't really back home and settled until 1 pm. That just MESSED ME UP.  Plus, I am super grateful for the FREE tickets, but OMG I'm not sure I would ever do a movie that early in the morning again.  

First of all, it's just plain weird to see a movie in the morning. Secondly, I did NOT consume enough coffee.  I think, had I to do it over, I would have made sure to get up earlier and made a trip to get an espresso drink from somewhere. For some reason, I was expecting the theater to have better food options.  We went to Oakdale, which I had remembered as being so full-service that they have a bar in the theater. So, I figured they'd have something decent for breakfast, since they have almost a full menu around lunch time.  But, no. The only options were popcorn and pretzel bits.  I opted for the pretzel bits because... small salty bagels?  NO. VERY BAD CHOICE.

We also saw it in mega-ultra max or whatever the better than IMAX version is... and, I didn't need that. We actually had the best seats for that kind of experience (way in the very back row), so we could see the whole screen, but everyone coveted those seats, so I was knee to knee with my neighbor.  

All of that aside, I loved the movie.  Probably because I had read so much hate, I was really expecting a terrible film.  I thought it was fun, very worthy of the Star Wars franchise.  My ships are battered, but unbroken, honestly.  Sure, they tried to spray no homo on some folks, but I'm not entirely sure it worked, especially since a huge part of my personal head canon involves polyamory (and an ace Rey). But, that's all I can say without being spoiler-y and I'm not sure I'm up for a full written dissection, ATM.  I literally can not understand any of the hate.  Given all the warnings, I expected the film to be "messier" than it was. The porgs were fine. WTF, fandom. Chill out. Phantom Menace was a WAY sh*ttier film. Okay, one small spoiler )Not that I have feels about it or anything. :-)
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: (nic & coffee)
 It's Wednesday! I actually spent a good portion of this morning reading so that I could report that I have FINISHED all 21 volumes of Nana by Ai Yazawa.  Whoo!  Of course, I raced to the end only to find out that the mangaka is on indefinite hiatus and the end wasn't the end, but sort of just stopped due to her illness.  :-P Eh, the non-ending ending was traumatizing, but it was still a good (highly-addictive, very soap opera-y) series. 10/10 would recommend.

In other news, I feel fairly productive in a complaining sort of way.  When I went out with the kitty litter, I discovered that our recycling bin had not been emptied.  I called Eureka and talked to a very diligent person, who seemed very concerned.  We've been missed a number of times, so we'll see if anything will actually be done. He promised to have the drivers tag us next time, if somehow the missed pick-up is our fault.  I will be very pissed off if they say it is, however.  BECAUSE our recycling is so particular, I make it part of my Monday morning routine to make sure that the bin is situated properly. They have these stupid robotic arms and so they say they have to have two feet or some crazy distance around the bin for them in order to pick it up. So, after dropping Mason and Shawn off, I always go to the back and pull in our garbage can (they ALSO come on Monday, but are capable of actually just pulling the thing around to dump into their truck) and double-check to make sure the recycling bin is close to the alley and unobstructed.  It's stupid and a hassle, but it sucks more when we run out of room in the bin because they miss us for weeks at a time.

But, having had a mostly successful conversation with Eureka, I finally wrote a letter to my city council person, Russ Stark, about the parking situation in our neighborhood.  We don't have a working garage. We never have, but that's never been much of a problem in the past, oh, 15 years or so.  There was always plenty of room on our block to park in front of our house. These last few years, it's become really difficult.... in the middle of the day.  I suspect Russ is NOT getting a ton of complaints about this, because many people come home AFTER the parking clears up.  But, I will often come home at 8 am and there will be no place for me to park.  

A lot of it, ironically, is due to the fact that we're a block from the Fairview Green Line stop.  I don't know what is appealing about our neighborhood, but people come here to leave their cars and then take the train into work. I've watched them do it.  One time I ended up sitting in my car for an extra fifteen minutes listening to the end of a radio program, and sure enough I watched THREE different people park their cars and walk to the train station.  

The rest of the traffic belongs to employees of the businesses on the end of our block.  I wish that the businesses had been required to provide parking for their employees, but for some reason they weren't. The irony is that there's a huge parking lot at the end of our block. It belongs to Wendy's and the Russian Tea House. The Russian Tea House has rented out some of their space, because the energy company parks their vans behind the tea house.  But, I wish Wendy's would make a deal with the other employers.  The lot sits empty and our block fills up.

At any rate, I asked Russ to consider permit parking. It would, at the very least, cut down on the ditch and ride people.  (If you're going to commit to public transportation, you should go all the way!) 

We'll see, once again, if anything comes from my complaint.  But, hey, I've only been putting it off for months. I'm glad I at least wrote something finally.

I don't know if it's the weather or the fact that my usual Wednesday group has moved to Friday, but I'm feeling a little down today. I should be happier.  Mason told us about the win in Alabama last night.  But, but somehow I'm just feeling low.  And work called.  They want me in New Brighton from 5 to 8pm.  It's only three hours, so I said yes.  It'll probably be good for me to go out and earn a little money, too.

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?

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