chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-08-16 09:16 pm

Wednesday Reading

Quick, quick, quick, 'cause I'm so far behind on commitments that it's really unfunny.

I brought along a virtual stack of stuff (mostly in my Kindle) on our vacation last week. I didn't get to a lot of it, but:

The Harbors of the Sun is the conclusion to Martha Wells' Books of the Raksura, and I'm really sad to leave her dragon/bee shapeshifters behind. I have to agree with [personal profile] muccamukk that the Pearl-Malachite show alone was worth the price of admission, and that "Everyone got something to do [and] we met all kinds of old friends again." I'm not sure that I believed in the Evil McGuffin, and I'll need to re-read the story to truly understand what happened to it, but I appreciated the effect that the incident had on Jade and therefore on Moon. And Wells didn't kill off Stone, which is something that I had somehow convinced myself would happen. *sighs with relief*

Monstress vol. 2 (Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda) continues the story of Maika Halfwolf, a very Liu antiheroine (I first encountered Liu through her Hunter Kiss series). A lot of the action takes place aboard a ship, and I enjoyed that a lot. The captain is a total badass. My heart is constantly in my throat with regard to Maika's Morality Pet, the adorable little foxgirl Kippa, but Liu does sometimes let the innocent survive her harrowing tales, so maybe Kippa is *not* marked for a dire end. I'm not sure what I think of the Power Maika is hosting, though.

I'm now reading Yoon Ha Lee's Raven Strategem. I'm enjoying the new characters and Lee's sly humor, but I miss Cheris right now.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-08-02 09:38 pm
Entry tags:

Wednesday Reading

I bought Paper Girls, vol. 2, at the local bookstore. This shop actually used to be part of the local Politics & Prose mini-chain, and it's physically in the Takoma location of the local mini-chain restaurant Busboys & Poets. But P&P has abandoned this little shop, and now it's on its own: even more incentive to buying things there. Sadly, they were sold out of Monstress, vol. 2.

In Paper Girls, things are still very chaotic. Our intrepid 1980s paper delivery girls, who had encountered aliens and/or time travelers in vol. 1, have now encountered one of their number as an adult. Apple computers and other Apple consumer electronics are playing a big and weird role in all this. I'm still not sure what's going on, but the whole thing is starting to give off a 20th Century Boys vibe, and it would not surprise me to find out that it's in dialog with that manga series.

I also re-read Marguerite Henry's Gaudenzia, Pride of the Palio. If you were a horse-crazy kid, you probably read Henry's Misty of Chincoteague, at the very least. Giorgio Tierni is the eldest son of an Italian farmer, but all he wants to do is ride and train horses. He works hard for his father in hopes of someday achieving this dream. His story becomes intertwined with that of a mare who was bred from the local breed of working horses but with a pedigreed Arabian sire. The breeder had hoped to end up with a horse who could win the Palio of Siena, a race with medieval origins that is run on the streets of the city itself. But the mare, Farfalla ("Butterfly"), is dismissed as too lightly built for the rigor of the race, and ends up an abused and overworked cart horse.

In the end, of course (the title gives it away), she is is re-named Gaudenzia ("Joy of Living") and becomes a champion of the race for which she was bred, but this is a story of the journey that takes her there, and how Giorgio became involved. It was always my favorite Henry horse story, and I enjoyed it this time as much as I ever did. Note that this is essentially a true story, although Henry tells it as fiction. See Gaudenzia's official Palio page, in Italian. Note that Vittorino, "Little Victor," was Giorgio's professional name as a fantino, that is, a Palio rider. The contradas are the city districts, each of which acts as a faction for the race. Their names are those of the heraldic charges that stand for each: Onda = wave, Lupa = wolf, etc. The medieval pageantry of the race was almost as enticing to me, as a child, as the horse story. Henry lays out the details of the Palio and its culture very clearly and beautifully, with a couple of artful info-dumps that are prize examples of how to do such a thing well.

chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)
2017-07-31 06:46 pm
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Monday Music

Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam is a controversial figure. I myself have not forgiven him for supporting the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. But I remembered this song the other day, had an overwhelming urge to listen to it, and found this lovely live version from a 2013 concert in Chile.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-07-26 09:58 pm

Wednesday Reading

After I finished re-reading The Story of the Stone by Hughart, I continued on with Eight Skilled Gentlemen (also a re-read). Both books are considerably weaker than Bridge of Birds, but they're both still amusing and full of interesting little details.

Most of the other things I've read this week have been online articles that are research for the same project that got me re-reading Master Li and Number Ten Ox.

After several days of that (and writing, and work being chaotic and stressful), I wanted something pleasant and easy. So I spent some time on Big South American River, looking up favorite children's authors. I discovered that not only has someone put a number of my favorite Sally Watson historicals into e-books, they also included Poor Felicity (although the author herself seems to have re-named it The Delicate Pioneer, which strikes me as a really "dead" title). I first read this at a Girl Scout summer camp, where I was a pudgy bespectacled weirdo bookworm who hated sports but was totally unafraid of snakes and bugs, and I haven't seen it since.

Felicity Dare is a sickly, rather spoiled 19th-century Southern (U.S.) girl whose parents lose all their money in bad investments and decide to go out west to settle in Oregon/Washington territory. Both parents die along the way, leaving orphaned Felicity to her good-natured but hapless uncle. They end up in what eventually becomes Seattle, where Felicity gradually becomes healthier because of being out in nature (shades of The Secret Garden!), makes friends with kids who would definitely have been considered below her social class back East (include some Native Americans), and learns to forage, cook, and shoot a rifle. There's also an ongoing feud with a rough-hewn boy who despises her for most of the book. In the end, when her snooty cousins show up at last (they went by ship instead of overland), she has to confront their faulty assumptions and her own grudges.

It's fun, slight but with lots of interesting details, and an easy, fast read (aimed at about 10-13 year-old readers).

chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)
2017-07-24 09:58 pm
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Music Monday

Idan Raichel Project: an Israeli group with members from around the world. The song is "Im Telech" ("If You Leave"):

If you leave who will hug me like this
who will listen to me at the end of the day
who will console and calm me
as only you know how

And if you leave who will I wait for by the window
in a festive dress
to come hug me so,
when you arrive

When you leave go, I'll go out to the sun,
in the golden field, morning and evening,
the moon will light up my face
which dreams all day long of you

When you come back,
you'll carry me in your arms,
from the field to the river,
you'll wash my face and tell me words
as only you know how.

Translated from Hebrew by Vered Klinghofer of Chicago, Illinois, USA.

chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)
2017-07-22 02:56 pm
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Father-Son Drum Duel/Duet

I give you Max Weinberg, drummer for Springsteen's E Street Band, and his son Jay. This performance was in 2009:

Talented, good-lookin' Jewish guys. ♥♥♥ :-D

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-07-19 08:37 pm

Reading Wednesday

I finished my last-minute reading of Hugo short fiction items and did my voting on Saturday morning. I think that there were a LOT of very good "shorts" this year.

I am re-reading The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart, which is the second of the Master Li and Number Ten Ox books. I also tried (really, I did) to read two Very Serious books, which turned out to be nearly unreadable and almost useless for their intended purpose. *looks shifty*

chomiji: Red 20-sided die for tabletop gaming (Gaming)
2017-07-16 02:31 pm
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In Which Sacrifice Saves a Character

We've been playing our second Numenera campaign for about a year now. Numenera is a rather open-ended system that encourages the GM to reward creative play: anyone can try to do anything, and there is essentially one scale and one mechanism for doing just about any sort of task. If you're trained (or the higher-level version, Specialized), you just have an asset (or assets) toward making the roll. The scenario is an ancient world situation (think Vance's Dying Earth, but with more Steampunk-ish elements), and the current campaign is ocean-oriented. We have a ship (and more recently have also acquired a small submarine), and most of the characters have seafaring or other aquatic backgrounds.

cut for long )
chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)
2017-07-15 09:21 am
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A Song That Soothes

Music and lyrics by Bill Staines; performance by Priscilla Herdman

"You can trust the moon to move the mighty ocean
You can trust the sun to shine upon the land
You take the little that you know
And you do the best you can
And see the rest with the quiet faith of man."

Dedicated today to myself, because I need to calm down and move forward.

chomiji: Chibi of Muramasa from Samurai Deeper Kyo, holding a steamer full of food, with the caption Let's Eat! (Muramasa-Let's eat!)
2017-07-13 08:49 pm
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Dry-Fried String Beans with Pork for Supper

Over the winter, we got a "lamb share" CSA from one of the vendors (Cabin Creek Heritage Farm) at the Takoma Park Farmers Market. We liked it, but they don't have lamb over the summer. The Mr. is particular about his beef and doesn't want it to have been frozen, so we went for "mini pork share" this time.

Cut for CSA details and cooking description/rough recipe )
chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)
2017-07-10 08:29 pm
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Music Monday

On The Dark Side - John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band (as featured in the movie "Eddie and the Cruisers")

If the song sounds vaguely familiar but somehow you don't think you ever heard it, you may be thinking of songs by Gary "U.S." Bonds, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, or … Bruce Springsteen. They're all exemplars of the Jersey Shore Sound, which for some reason always feels very hamische (like home) to me. In the comments on this one, in fact, someone complains that Springsteen stole this style from Cafferty and Southside Johnny.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-07-05 09:58 pm

Reading Wednesday

Drive by:

Progressing slowly through Too Like the Lightning. Still reminds me of Diamond Age in the setting.

A Bad Bad Thing has happened in Stand Still Stay Silent, so I have had to resort to comfort reading: the manga Bunny Drop at the moment. The event in SSSS should not be discussed here, because it is a spoiler like whoa.

Finished with the reason for re-reading Fruits Basket, so I need to bundle them all up and put them back in the basement bookcase from whence they came.

chomiji: A young girl, wearing a backward baseball cap, enjoys a classic book (Books - sk8r grrl)
2017-06-28 07:43 pm

Exchange at Fic Corner: C'mon, It'll Be Fun!

The Exchange at Fic Corner is a gift exchange for fic based on children's and YA books and short stories from picture books to edgy teen novels. The FAQ can be found on Dreamwidth (and I think on LJ still).

June 18th - June 27th - Sign-Ups
June 28th - Assignments Sent Out
August 21st - Deadline for Stories
August 28th - Collection Goes Live

Tag Set (on AO3)

Sign Up Form (on AO3)

chomiji: A young girl, wearing a backward baseball cap, enjoys a classic book (Books - sk8r grrl)
2017-06-26 09:57 pm

Exchange at Fic Corner ... Signups Close on Wed. Eve (U.S. Eastern Time)

The Exchange at Fic Corner is a gift exchange for fic based on children's and YA books and short stories from picture books to edgy teen novels. The FAQ can be found on Dreamwidth (and I think on LJ still).

So I had these dates ALL WRONG:

June 18th - June 27th - Sign-Ups
June 28th - Assignments Sent Out
August 21st - Deadline for Stories
August 28th - Collection Goes Live (Hmm, I need to ask the mod - it looks like they changed that date ... sometime the first week of September, at any rate)

Tag Set (on AO3)

Sign Up Form (on AO3)

Good timing for a Yuletide warmup, perhaps?

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-06-21 09:33 pm

Reading Wednesday

I finished All the Birds in the Sky. It wasn't bad, but it just sort of ended: too much build up, not enough resolution. And now I'm annoyed by the title, because although it sounds really nifty, it doesn't have all that much to do with the story. This is not going to be my top vote for best novel, I'm afraid.

Also in Hugo reading, I read through Ursula Le Guin's Words Are My Matter, a collection of recent short non-fiction pieces. I love Le Guin as an essayist, and the first part of the book contains some good examples. But the back half-and-a-bit is introductions to books and book reviews, and I found those less interesting. A number of them were for non-genre literary or magical realism works that didn't sound as though they'd appeal to me. She did mention a couple of Western (as in, Western U.S.) novels that I might want to look up, which I will mention here partially for my own reference: Crazy Weather by Charles McNichols and The Jump-Off Creek and The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss. Also, although Perdido Street Station pretty much put me off China Mielville for life, her review of Embassytown is making me reconsider.

Overall, unless the rest of the Related Works are very mediocre, I don't think this will be my top pick in that category.

I have just started Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, which is short-listed for Best Novel. A number of the readers on File 770 had trouble with this book, but I'm not finding it problematic thus far. Possibly the fact that I actually like Anthony Burgess' A Dead Man in Deptford (link goes to Kirkus review), which was also purposefully written in the style of an earlier era, has something to do with this. I'll have to see where the book goes, of course.

Finally, I'll be re-reading some of Fruits Basket, Because Reasons. Does anyone recall the number of the exact volume in which Machi shows up? It's when she wrecks the student council room, if the Wikia is to be believed.

chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)
2017-06-19 09:06 pm
Entry tags:

Music Monday

Yes, it's stereotypical marital sex roles all the way down, but it still sounds like summer to me:

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-06-14 09:30 pm

Reading Wednesday

Drive-by post: reading All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. I had been arguing with myself back and forth about getting it, but then it became a Hugo finalist, and so I got it in the voting packet.

I'm interested in it, but I feel a little uneasy about where it's going, and also it's somehow not super-enjoyable on the emotional level. I think there are too many misunderstandings and seeming betrayals. On the other hand, the depiction of the slow-motion slide into dystopia, with bits and pieces of technology and societal systems failing and people seeming to just shrug their shoulders and adapt, is kind of interesting.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-06-07 08:17 pm
Entry tags:

Reading Wednesday

So I have been re-reading "Books of the Raksura" (link to author's site), because Reasons. OK, one good non-secretive reason is that the final volume (*sob*), The Harbors of the Sun, is coming out soon. How could I have forgotten how involving these are? Also, I had forgotten a major plot development near the end of The Edge of Worlds (Spoiler; highlight to read: the young half-Fell queen who seemed to actually have good sense, plus her equally reasonable half-Fell followers ... I hope Malachite doesn't rip them all limb from limb before we find out what's up with that.)

I also read one of the Hugo novella finalists, The Ballad of Back Tom by Victor LaValle. It's a Lovecraft pastiche and critique, with an African American protagonist. It was pretty involving, but I wouldn't say I liked it. One of the other novella finalists, The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, is also a Lovecraft pastiche and a bit of a critique too, in that it involves mostly female characters. I'm not sure what the deal is this year with Lovecraft pastiches. I read some of his stuff back when dinosaurs ruled the earth and got the general impression that he expected you to be horrified by describing things as too horrifying to describe. I was not impressed.

I might as well add that of the remaining novella finalists, I loved Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire (although she didn't stick the landing) and Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold. Why do I really like Bujold's fantasy but am decidedly meh on her SF?

I still have two novella finalists to go: A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson and This Census-Taker by China MiƩville.

chomiji: A silhouette of a couple watching a famous kiss in a movie, with the caption I've Seen that Movie Too (film - I've seen that movie too)
2017-06-03 10:56 pm

Wonder Woman

This movie is awesome and you should go see it right away.

Cut for some vaguely stated spoilers )

I cried and cried for the last 15 minutes, I was so happy.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-05-24 09:36 pm

Reading Wednesday

[personal profile] lady_ganesh hooked me up with some really good stuff: Maggie Stiefvater's YA series The Raven Cycle. This consists of

  • The Raven Boys (finished!)
  • The Dream Thieves (finished!)
  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue (finished!)
    and
  • The Raven King (still reading, unlikely to finish tonight)

Also, apparently some extra-story authorial snippets exist (I only just discovered this while checking the titles of the main series).*

In the little town of Henrietta is a posh boarding school called Aglionby. The mascot of the school is a raven. Eccentric local girl Blue, the scion of a houseful of psychic women (including her mother, Maura), thinks Aglionby boys are nothing but trouble. Local wounded-at-the-core boy Adam is attending the school on scholarship; he has managed to become best buds with the charming and earnest Gansey (that's his last name), whose circle also includes the tough-but-brittle bad boy Ronan. And then there's Noah, who shows up somehow at the off-campus digs that Gansey and Ronan share in an old factory.

Gensey is obsessed with the local ley line, which he thinks will lead him to the tomb of the Welsh hero Owen Glendower. The others are drawn into his search—including Blue, who starts out as somewhat of a mascot but becomes something much more. There are dreams, magic, terror, and lots of fast cars.

Parts of this seem to be the love child of Alan Garner's The Owl Service and the better "After-School Special" types of teen novels, but it's very involving and tremendous fun. The writing has some weaknesses, especially when Stiefvater seems to be marking time until she can get to the Good Bits, but she's very good at action sequences and the spookier parts are truly chilling.

Cut for long and maybe a spoiler or two )