Yuletide recs!

I had a nice Christmas and, knock on wood, seem to have avoided catching any of the various illnesses that were kicking around my family. I've had some downtime in which to comb the Yuletide archive. There's always more, of course, but have a whimsical an not-at-all-exhaustive list of stories that have caught my fancy. Nine recs for The Craft Sequence - Max Gladstone, Terminator movies, Aliens, Tam Lin - Pamela Dean, Dublin Murder Squad, and Shakespeare PlaysCollapse ) This entry was originally posted at http://likeadeuce.dreamwidth.org/233637.html. Comment here or there, I'm easy.

The Yuletide Fairy came!

My holiday plans keep getting shuffled around because of various people getting sick (nothing serious, just a lot of 24-bugs and 'flu-like viruses' going around). My plan was to go see It's a Wonderful Life! with some folks in Richmond, but I haven't been that well and didn't really think anybody wanted to listen to me cough through the whole movie. So I was going to stay home and sulk but then, look, Yuletide came early! -- i.e., the archive for the annual rare fic exchange opened on Christmas Eve night rather than Christmas morning, as we've been accustomed, and I've been reading one fabulous story after another and oh, hey, how'd it get to be 1 AM?

I need to get up tomorrow morning and (probably) drive to my parents' (unless it turns out someone there is sick). So briefly, I've been putting some things on the yuletide_recs tag. Also, I got a fabulous story based on Max Gladstone's Craft sequence. It's post - Three Parts Dead, and it's just what I wanted to read when I finished that novel. Cat/Tara femslash, but primarily about Cat figuring out how her life goes back together after everything she both believed in and was addicted to (for her, essentially the same) was taken away. The story is one good reason and I rec it if you know these books, or just if you like these themes. (I'm looking at you, [personal profile] resolute).

AO3 also tells me I have a treat waiting for me in the archive but that hasn't been revealed yet -- so, treater, if I haven't commented yet, it's because my constantly-in-flux holiday plans have kept me from seeing it. I am looking forward to it and will get there.

Also, yes, I wrote a story in the archive, and it is the story in the archive most likely to be written by me. I realize that's a tautology but in this case it's also a clue. I've screened comments if you want to take a guess, and this time I swear I will write ficlets for the winners, because I need something to get me writing again. This entry was originally posted at http://likeadeuce.dreamwidth.org/233061.html. Comment here or there, I'm easy.

Encountered last night at Trader Joe's

1. An employee with Christmas ornaments woven into his beard. (I've seen this in joke posts on the Internet but this was the first evidence I've discovered that people are doing it in reality.) 2. A cashier wearing a T-shirt hand painted in a Hannukkah/Star Wars theme. He initiate friendly chit chat, as is the Trader Joe's way, and as I was going out, I said 'Happy Hannukkah' -- which apparently totally threw him even though he was wearing a shirt with a menorah on it? He responded to me with 'Happy Holidays' which might be what he thought I'd said at first? It was sort of a weird moment though I think he was pleased. He might have been trying to figure out if I was also Jewish. Which I'm not, but it's a slightly complex conversation around holidays with my family -- because my sister's kids are being raised Jewish, through their father's side -- going to Hebrew school and planning to have bat mitzvahs. So when we have a family celebration it is partly Hannukkah as well as Christmas? But it's hard to express that in casual conversation. 3. A middle aged white male customer on a cell phone, saying heatedly to someone on the other end of the phone -- "Diversity is more than just -- just --" Looks around at the rest of Trader Joe's, including me, lowers his voice and say "-- black -- women -- who are poor!" And then he darted off to be farther from the rest of humanity to continue his conversation. I can *only* *imagine* the things he wanted to say that he figured Trader Joe's wouldn't appreciate hearing. So only 1 out of 3 people I noticed on my shopping trip were completely horrible human beings? As far as I know? Actually a couple people were nice to me in the checkout line because I can never remember how the registers are set up at TJ's and where the carts are supposed to go. So happy holidays? In news of today, I have a gross cough and sore throat, so I stayed home from work hoping I could rest up (and finish writing Yuletide) before going to my sister's tomorrow (for Hannukkah -Christmas). BUT this morning I was woken up by a text saying tomorrow's not happening because her kids are sick. So -- that's a bit of a bummer but for the best as far as not spreading germs. And I have more time to work on Yuletide + I can eat the vegetarian appetizers I bought at Trader Joe's. This entry was originally posted at http://likeadeuce.dreamwidth.org/232751.html. Comment here or there, I'm easy.

Hugo-eligible suggestions?

In pursuit of doing productive stuff with my weekend that is not actually "working on Yuletide" (yes, yes, I'll get there), I went back through the stuff I've read on GoodReads to see what would be eligible for a Hugo nomination in the coming year (since I signed up to vote last year, I get to nominate this year I THINK IS HOW IT WORKS?) Then I figured I should do some organization of my future reading to get in as much SFF published in 2014 so that I have some kind of basis to nominate from.

So far I have three novels that I have read on my "at this point I think this is Hugo-worthy" list: 1. The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey (I just finished this, which is what prompted the list making; 'reasonably science-based zombie apocalypse fiction, with great characters and some amazing twists on tropes, sort of "Never Let Me Go" meets "The Passage," but better than either of them, a majority female cast including an awesome woman of color, if any of this appeals to you go read);

2. The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman -- or possibly the whole trilogy if it's eligible for nomination in that form;

3. The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. I've also got a to-read list of stuff that will probably get lots of nominating votes, including Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy, Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor, E. Bear's Steles of the Sky and Robert Bennett's City of Stairs Scalzi's Lock In and of course Ancillary Sword (I'm saving this to reread back to back with Ancillary Justice WHEN I HAVE TIME, lolol). So that's a decent reading list (and includes some books I already bought when I was feeling optimistic...) but of course I'm leaving off stuff that I haven't heard about. Also, note, that's a bunch of white people (they might not all be, but as far as I know...)

Basically -- rec me stuff that was published in 2014, particularly novels and novellas, with a strong preference for work by writers of color/ queer writers/ marginalized or otherwise under-the-radar stuff that you think deserves more attention than it got. Tell me why you like the stuff, too, of course, and why I might like it because that should help it get to the top of the pile. This is for Sci-Fi Fantasy, of course, but the Hugos seem to have a fairly generous definition of those categories. Also, I think YA and middle grade eligible/ in the same category as everything else (didn't Harry Potter win at least once?), though nothing that I've listed here is considered YA as far as I know. But I'm open to that too!

ETA: Re: wanting more writers of color, I'm going to do my own homework too, I swear, I just noticed the list I had accumulated through whatever usual means was very white and I am trying to consciously counter that.
This entry was originally posted at http://likeadeuce.dreamwidth.org/232211.html. Comment here or there, I'm easy.


Two book recommendation resources

1. NPR's Book Concierge is a neat interactive site that lets you sort some of 2014's notable books into a variety of categories. I found a cookbook for my sister-in-law using this last year, and there are interesting mini-reviews written by a variety of contributors.

2. The Penguin Hotline, discussed in detail in this piece is a 'low tech, high tech' system where you fill out a form with some info about the person you're shopping for and the queries get passed to members of the publishing house's staff to write personalized recommendations. I tried this for my brother based on what I know of his reading tastes and got some pretty solid recommendations back that I wouldn't have thought of but that feel appropriate. I sort of want somebody to write one in for me based on what they know of my tastes and see what it spits out ...

This entry was originally posted at http://likeadeuce.dreamwidth.org/232055.html. Comment here or there, I'm easy.


Reading Wednesday, 12/3/14

Oops, I disappeared for a while there. I've been busy with some things, and thinking about some other things and not sure this journal is the place for any of it. So I'll stick to posting about books for the present.

• What are you currently reading?

The Likeness by Tana French. I read French's first mystery, In the Woods a while ago, and liked but didn't love it, mostly because the narrator was such a horrible shit. (I think he was supposed to be, but I read it right after Gone Girl, I think, and it was a bit MUCH.) This book has a different narrator, and I like it a bit more. The plot is almost ridiculously implausible but I don't feel like French is going for strict realism here; a lot like Gillian Flynn, actually, there's a lot of character and mood and ideas. The pace is really deliberate, not to say slow -- it takes a long time for anything to happen, but the author is in such control of the narrative, and is so good with tiny, well-observed details that I'm happily along for the ride.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase is the book that basically everybody recommended when I said I was interested in checking out some romance novels. (I want to say 'contemporary' as in 'contemporary writers' though I know in romance that refers to setting, and this is definitely a Regency though it was published in the 1990s. Make sense?) Even though I'm not that familiar with the genre, it's pretty obvious that Chase is playing with some of the 'secretly vulnerable alpha male hero' tropes, and this (I think?) works as both a sendup of the conventions of Regency romance and as a romance itself. I'm finding it really funny but also legit sexy (I have this on audio on my phone and I listened to a bit of it on my break at work today and it was accidentally a steamy passage so I felt kind of weird and then I remembered a lot of people read romance novels on the subway plus I've WRITTEN sexy fanfic while sitting at my desk so stop being silly, self...)

Henry IV: The Righteous King by Ian Mortimer. I think this is the same book that was originally published in the UK as The Fears of Henry IV? Anyway, there's a lot of interesting stuff in here, but I'm finding it unintentionally hilarious because Mortimer stans so hard for Henry that it's hard to take some of his claims seriously. I just got to the part where he's explaining how Shakespeare totally wrote Richard II wrong and how he could have improved it. RPF writers and their grudges have nothing on historians.
• What did you recently finish reading?

Since I haven't updated for a month, I have LOTS of stuff and I'll try to hit the highlights.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler is an amazing novels about how we define family and memory and it's really really hard to say more about it except I was really moved by it. Though it either has a rushed final act or a loooong denouement that kept the thing from totally working, yet I still really liked it and would recommend. (Message me if you have specific questions about it, I just don't want to say more here!)

Then I went on a memoir kick: Yes Please by Amy Poehler is marvelous (especially on audio). It's an interest account of her rise in comedy, and full of observations about parenting and friendship and insomnia, and with a particularly smart and thoughtful section on learning how to apologize when you screw up. Poehler and I are roughly peers in terms of age, I constantly read things in this book that made me think of very specific conversations I've had with friends of mine, which to me, speaks very well both of Poehler and of my friends.

So Anyway.... by John Cleese maybe deserves its own post because I have a lot of feelings about Monty Python and particularly about Graham Chapman and what I really want to read is a book all about Cleese and Chapman's complicated relationship, which -- I think Cleese realizes is the most interesting thing in the story and that he's just not up to the task of capturing it. But it's not fair to hold it against him that he didn't write the book I wanted to read; there's lots of interesting stuff in here about the source of his humor, and his early career and some screamingly funny anecdotes, but it's not really a Python book, so don't go in expecting that. Also, Cleese is kind of a crank about "political correctness" (though I have NO IDEA what he thinks that term means), and doesn't seem to like very much comedy including his own, and thinks he understands a lot about human psychology but I remain skeptical.

Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming is not so much a celebrity memoir as a story about the author coming to terms with aspects of his family history. Warnings for discussion of physical and emotional abuse, PTSD, suicide, depression, parental death, parental estrangement and probably other things I'm not thinking of. It's not as bleak of a book as I'm probably making it sound -- Cumming is frank about how he's dealt with things and moved on and found contentment in his own life, and satisfying relationships with his mother and brother as well as the man he's now married to. But it's a book about estrangement and loss, and Cumming's frank about how he dealt with all of this. You don't have to be a fan of the actor to appreciate this book, although he comes across as such a sympathetic storyteller, and an owner of hard-earned wisdom, that reading it might make you a fan.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Suddenly everybody is talking about Raven Boys, which I've had on my kindle forever, so maybe I should get to that. I also have Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings and M. R. Carey's The Girl with all the Gifts on Overdrive for when I'm done with Lord of Scoundrels

This entry was originally posted at http://likeadeuce.dreamwidth.org/231788.html. Comment here or there, I'm easy.
I am perusing the love meme that [personal profile] kaberett is running.

I made a thread. You should make one too if you want. Or comment here and I'll say nice things about you :)

This entry was originally posted at http://likeadeuce.dreamwidth.org/231569.html. Comment here or there, I'm easy.


Reading Wednesday, 11/5/14

• What are you currently reading?

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is my book club's selection for this month, though I'm not sure I'm going to get through it. The narrator is a university researcher who decides to find a wife using the scientific method, because clearly all of his relationships have failed due to inadequate scientific rigor. So far, this is pretty much as annoying as it sounds. On top of that, it's not clear whether the narrator is supposed to be ASD or is just 'socially awkward' -- which caused me to look up an interview with the author where he, basically, he didn't do any research about Asperger's/autism, but ASD people have told him they liked it! The whole thing feels kind of skeevy to me, particularly as a lot of the narrator's behavior that is played as cute/funny/charming seems less like ASD behavior and more "clueless and rude", and particularly the kind of clueless and rude that comes from unquestioned privilege, since he seems to have grown to adulthood and had a successful career without his failure to appreciate basic social norms causing problems for anything but his love life.

I don't know, I'm not an expert on this (I'm not even sure if I'm using the Asperger's/ASD terminology correctly) so I'd be interested if anyone has a different perspective.

I'm also working on a couple things that I'm redacting as they're relevant to my Yuletide assignment.

• What did you recently finish reading?

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. This ended pretty strong (though necessarily predictably). Recommended if you're interested in John Brown or on nineteenth century stories told from an African-American perspective. Not great on gender or trans issues (re: the latter, it's not terrible but has 'boy in a dress' as a running joke).

The Dead in their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley. I'm used to thinking of the Flavia de Luce series as lighthearted, but starting with the first book, there have been some really dark underlying themes, and this comes back to them in a major way. Basically, the whole arc of the series has been about an eleven year old girl learning to accept the reality of death, not just intellectually (which she's very good at) but emotionally. This book brings Flavia to that point, and also (finally) addresses some of the de Luce family's underlying mysteries -- though it also raises others.

Now I'm caught up with this series, and it looks like there is going to be a major status quo shift with the next book, which I'm intrigued by.

Meanwhile I really want a story where Flavia hangs out with the Elric brothers from 'Fullmetal Alchemist.'

• What do you think you’ll read next?

More stuff I can't talk about because of Yuletide?! Otherwise, we'll see.

This entry was originally posted at http://likeadeuce.dreamwidth.org/231372.html. Comment here or there, I'm easy.

Reading Post, 10/30/14

Reading Wednesday on a Thursday!

First of all, Yuletide assignments are out and mine is awesome. I also have plans to write a lot of treats this year, but we'll see how that goes.

Briefly, in books:

• What are you currently reading?

Continuing The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. Not a lot to add.

Started The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. I picked this up a while back when the ebook was on sale and hadn't gotten to it, but the author is doing an event in town next week and I figured I'd at least read a chapter or two. I might just end up tearing through, though -- it's long but so far is going very fast.

Also listening to The Dead in their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley, which means I'm almost caught up with the Flavia de Luce series. This one goes back a bit to the very tragic roots of the first book -- which had gotten a little lost for me in subsequent installments -- and it's a bit heartbreaking to see Flavia, so smart in some ways, be so naive in others. (Yes, Flavia, you're very good at chemistry. No, Flavia, you can't resurrect the dead. Though saying this, I want a crossover where Flavia hangs with Courtney Crumrin and Coraline. They really would take over the world.)

• What did you recently finish reading?

Speaking from Among the Bones -- the previous Flavia book

The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham -- I don't think this is Cunningham's strongest, plot or structure wise, but I love the prose and the depths and distinctiveness of characterization accomplished in a relatively small space. This has more the feeling of an oversized short story than a novel. Possibly a "for Cunningham fans only" and if your literary-fiction-to-avoid list includes "all the characters live in Brooklyn and write songs or work in clothing boutiques," "a major character has "epiphanies occur in Central Park," this checks a lot of boxes.

Hild by Nicola Griffith -- I started this in the spring and finally remembered to finish. I really love the depth of detail, in a historical world that's both exhaustively researched and wonderfully imagined; I love that I can't really tell where one ends and the other begins. I never could quite get a handle on what kind of book this was -- was it about politics, about sexuality, about coming of age? -- and I ended up liking that too. The way I read it, Hild starts out pretending to be a seer/visionary and in the process of faking so well, she teaches herself to be one. I'm interested to see where Griffith goes with the story of the adult St. Hilda that I understand is coming in the sequel.

Also, not actually reading but worth noting that I saw Gone Girl and thought it was just about perfect. I was somewhat ambivalent about the book, but I think I actually "got it" more seeing it onscreen.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I finally got Roxanne Gay's Bad Feminist out from the library, and I'm keen to get to that one. I also have The Rosie Project for my book club but am not nearly as enthused there. Maybe it will surprise me.

This entry was originally posted at http://likeadeuce.dreamwidth.org/231047.html. Comment here or there, I'm easy.

oops I accidentally shipped

I started lackadaisically watching this season of Agents of SHIELD and then 2x05 spoilers in case you're not caught upCollapse ) ... I'm going to keep watching for them and it's going to end in tears RIIIIIIIGHT?

This entry was originally posted at http://likeadeuce.dreamwidth.org/230475.html. Comment here or there, I'm easy.


prufrock, before he got famous

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