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
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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
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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 Miéville.

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 )
chomiji: Goku from Saiyuki, looking confused. Caption: Huh? (Goku - huh?)
2017-05-20 02:16 pm
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Tumblr etc. Jargon Question

If something is tagged fandomedit, where fandom is (duh) a fandom, does it refer to photo-edits (such as finding a photo that looks like a character and then editing the photo somehow)?

Or am I totally off base, and if so, what does actually mean?

chomiji: Miyazaki's Totoro, standing in the rain with an umbrella (Totoro - umbrella)
2017-05-11 09:34 pm
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It's Too Effing Cold

The weather service said is was only 55°F (not quite 13°C) on the walk back form the Metro, but it felt colder. My unlined Goretex rain jacket was not adequate, and I was glad to find a pair of fleece-type gloves I'd forgotten I had in the pockets.

Honestly, 90°F in April and 55 in May. I want a refund on this bogus weather. Spring is usually my favorite time of year.

I shudder to think of what this is doing to the local fruit farms. Local strawberries are usually a big thing in June. And it's too cold to put in tomatoes, which would normally be growing well by now.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-05-10 10:01 pm

Real Brief Reading Wednesday

Life has been rather too much work-work-work this week. I realized I haven't checked up on Stand Still Stay Silent at all.

I'm about two-thirds of the way through The Hanging Tree, which is about to become the latest-less-one Rivers of London/Peter Grant book (the new one is due out in hardcover (!) next month). I'm enjoying it, although there's already been one kick in the gut. This is a good book to read near Mother's Day: some great and terrifying mums in here (especially Lady Ty and Peter's mum).

Before that, I did some comfort reading. I discovered two old favorites in ebook format: Shirley Rosseau Murphy's White Ghost Summer and The Sand Ponies. Both are pitched as horse stories, but actually, they're family stories with a dash of mystery. There are horses, and they're significant, but they're not actually what the stories are about.

Does anyone know whether it's worth trying to contact a publisher about scan errors in ebooks? These have repeated problems when the end of a paragraph coincides with the end of some dialog in quotation marks. Most of the time it wasn't too terrible for the flow of the story, but at one point several words were lost.

chomiji: Close-up view of hands, writing with a pen on paper (Writing)
2017-04-30 01:59 pm
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Aha, a Raksura Comm and Writing Exchange

So hey, I found this:

[community profile] raksura_fans

They have a challenge that's going to close for signups real soon and like NO ONE has signed up for it.

Schedule
Sign-ups: April 24-May 1
Assignments sent out: May 3 (or earlier)
Assignments due: June 14
Assignments revealed: June 21
Creators revealed: June 28

I'm not sure what to do myself. The comm has 22 members. But there is NOTHING in the exchange tag set, which I'm not sure how that would work .

ETA: Ah, the mod says to use last year's tag set, which has a pile of characters and relationships under "Characters."

And this is way last minute, but I only tripped over the comm and the exchange yesterday, while browsing Tumblr.

chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)
2017-04-24 09:41 pm
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Music Monday: "I Know That I Am Like the Rain"

One of my favorite songs ever, and perfect for this rainy evening:

"Kathy's Song"

This is credited as "Simon and Garfunkel," but I think that's Paul Simon I hear singing.

chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)
2017-04-17 09:26 pm
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Music Monday

Somehow, between one year and the next, most of folk singer Carrie Newcomer's ouevre has ended up on Youtube, so now I can subject you to my favorites (and maybe actually catch up on her newer albums).

"Betty's Diner" "Regulars and Refugees" was a concept album, with all but one or two of the sings supposedly sung by the owner and regulars of "Betty's Diner." The chorus to this really touches me ... even the parts of it that don't make sense:

"Sit right here and rest your bones,
No one's ever so alone,
You can take this world down off your shoulders.
I don't know why or how,
All I know is here and now,
You can take this world down off your shoulders ... ."

chomiji: Chibi of Mibu no Hotaru from Samurai Deeper Kyo, in a swimsuit and in flames (hotaru-too hot!)
2017-04-11 08:08 pm
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It's April 11 at 8:00 p.m. and It's 81 Effin' Degrees F

That's too darn hot. I'm going to have trouble sleeping, although I save moved a fan into the bedroom. (We're not going to turn the AC on for just a day or two.)

(That temperature is about 27°.C, BTW.)

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-04-05 08:54 pm

Why Look, It's a Reading Post

So actually I have been doing quite a lot of reading, much of it trying to get caught up to make Hugo nominations (which I did do, yay).

I'm going to be doing really quick write-ups here, because I'm covering several weeks. If anyone wants to discuss any of this in more detail, I'll do my best!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – Enjoyable ensemble cast SF: an accountant/business manager joins the crew of a small, independent working ship and finds a family of sorts. The setting is vaguely reminiscent of David Brin's Uplift series, in that Earth is a backwater planet joining a larger universe of many other sentient beings.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – Nominally, the sequel to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, although it follows only two of the characters from the original book. A ship's AI ends up in a humanoid (robot/android) body and has to learn to live with all that this implies; alternate chapters follow the backstory of the AI's new mentor/engineer as she grows up as a child slave in a robot-run factory. I actually enjoyed this more than the first book, but YMMV.

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett – Interesting fantasy of an emerging industrialized world (trains are pretty well established, but rifles are new) that until recently featured living, active gods. The action takes place in the lands that used to be god-protected, now conquered by its former slaves. The equivalent Earth civilizations used for the cultures seem to be Eastern Europe (formerly god-protected) and South Asia (former slaves), which gives a different flavor from the usual Extruded Fantasy Product. Diplomat and operative Shara Thivani, of the now-ascendant culture, investigates the murder of an academic in the central city of the former ruling nation and discovers something very disturbing. Strong female characters, including the lead. Warning: the opening scene is deadly dull … but it's meant to be, I think.

City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett – Takes place a few years after the previous novel. Former general Turyin Mulaghesh, an ally of Shara in the first book, is pulled out of her increasingly inebriated retirement to investigate the disappearance of an operative in backwater Voortyashtana, where an important new harbor is being built by the conquerors. Mulaghesh finds that the mysteries of what's happening in Voortyashtana have more significance to her than she could ever have imagined. I like Mulaghesh even better than Shara.

Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol. 20 by Yuki Midorikawa – This series remains its usual comforting, mildly spooky self, bless it. I do wonder whether the mangaka is ever again going to pick up the threads about the sinister exorcist Matoba, but he doesn't make an appearance in this volume.

Right now, I'm re-reading The Secret Garden as a break. Reading lots of new things tires me, even when I enjoy it. I have Cherryh's latest Foreigner book on my Kindle, and I'm still trying to make myself finish volume 1 of the manga A Case Study of Vanitas by Jun Mochizuki, which looks like something I *should* like (but as you can tell, it hasn't really grabbed me).

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-02-22 09:40 pm
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Reading Wednesday (Welp, I Started It on Wednesday)

This past weekend was Katsucon, so I have a stack of new manga. Most were recommended by "Year's Best Manga" lists on various sites, but one was something that looked intriguing when Great Big South American River brought it up in response to something else I was buying. As might be expected, I'm finding them a mixed bag.

Nichijou (Nichijou - My Ordinary Life) by Keiichi Arawi, vols. 1 and 2
Um, no. This comedy + slice-of-life high school series was billed as whimsical and surrealistic. It has a blocky, primitive drawing style that I'm presuming is deliberate. This does mean, however, that some of the surrealistic events have to be called out by the characters, or you wouldn't know what was up. When a wooden hand falls from the sky onto someone's head, for instance, it looks just as realistic as any of the characters' hands. And when the school principal tangles with a deer outside a character's classroom window, the student gazes at the spectacle with the same blank look she gives to just about anything.

The killer for me, however, was the treatment of the one character I found sympathetic, a robot schoolgirl who just wants to be a normal human being. Her creator, a child mad scientist, delights in tormenting her creation by refusing to remove the large windup key on the robot's back. She seems to have created the robot for just this purpose, plus some light housework. The whole thing left a bad taste in my brain. This one is going straight into the give-away pile.

Haikyū!! by Haruichi Furudate, vols. 1-3
On the other hand, I pretty much inhaled the first volumes of this shounen sports manga. While short, hyperactive Shōyō Hinata was in middle school, he saw a televised volleyball game featuring a player who was called the "Little Giant" for the way he dominated the game despite his small stature. Shōyō is inspired to nag and cajole his way to the creation of a boys' volleyball team at his own school. Despite their complete lack of a bench or any real experience or coaching, the team manages to avoid completely embarrassing themselves in their first and only real tournament, in which Shōyō encounters cerebral, athletically talented Tobio Kageyama.

In his mind, Shōyō paints Tobio as his nemesis, but when they both start high school, they find they're rookies on the same team. Not only that, but when their contrasting skills are put together, they become something special. At this point the story line kicks in for real as the remaining players on the team are introduced, along with their genial faculty sponsor who knows nothing about volleyball (and thus serves as the viewpoint character for similarly naive readers) and their coolly elegant manager, the only female character to make an appearance thus far. I especially enjoy the sweet senior player who has exiled himself from the team because, after freezing and woofing a key shot in a tournament, he feels he can't support his team mates properly (all the feels, Asahi!). This is probably nothing more than a typical example of its genre, but I'm enjoying the characters and their interactions.

chomiji: A chibi cartoon of Hotaru from the manga Samurai Deeper Kyo, with a book. Caption: Manga Joy (Manga joy!)
2017-02-15 09:08 pm
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Reading Wednesday: Behind the Scenes!! and Ms. Marvel

It's not that I haven't been reading actual books, but they have been re-reads: Gentemen of the Road,The Goblin Emperor. But the new stuff is manga and comics.

I got volumes 2 and 3 of Behind the Scenes!!; I have finished 2 and am about a third of the way through 3. I'm expecting that, like Ouran, this will eventually develop a running plotline, but at the moment, it remains episodic. Maasa, the girl who specialize in special effects makeup, is convinced that she ought to have a boyfriend, but her attempts in this direction always end in disaster because she's fascinated with gory horror flicks, and her interests always come out at inopportune moments. She tries again with a group date, fails, and drags herself back to the Art Squad, where her friends are sympathetic but not pitying. We also see more of Ranmaru's seemingly perfect and snooty cousin Soh (he lives with her family), a high school student: in fact, her life is not what it seems, and the Art Squad helps her find herself a little more. In vol. 3, the Art Squad participates in Film Camp, in which one of the uni film clubs goes to film full time on location while classes are on hiatus. The film features an actual paid actor: a 7-year-old prodigy who rubs Goda, the Chief, the wrong way. I'll have to see how this plays out.

I also read the latest Ms. Marvel volume, Civil War II. This series is certainly full of All the Feels. The first part of the story finds Kamala Kahn dealing with a squad of rather fascist-leaning do-gooders whose plans put Kamala's ethics through a veritable obstacle course. One of the pieces of fallout from this episode breaks Kamala's heart and sends her in search of a change of scene to Pakistan, her family's homeland, where she learns another lesson in why it can be tough to do good.

chomiji: A chibi cartoon of Hotaru from the manga Samurai Deeper Kyo, with a book. Caption: Manga Joy (Manga joy!)
2017-02-01 09:27 pm
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Reading Wednesday

Hey, long time no post, and this one will be short, but I've got to start getting back to posting somehow.

So I just started what looks like a delightful new-to-me manga series. It comes with an impeccable pedigree for being delightful: it's by Ouran High School Host Club's Bisco Hatori.

Behind the Scenes!! stars awkward, terribly introverted Ranmaru Kurisu, who was the odd one out in his family of hearty, hardy fisherfolk. Now at university, he's been creeping around trying not to draw attention to himself. One day, he encounters an apparent Zombie Apocalypse and is so shocked that he passes out. When he wakes from his faint, he discovers that it was a movie scene and that he has been rescued by the eccentric, creative members of the Art Squad, who provide costumes, makeup, sets, and special effects for the university's three film-making clubs.

Can Ranmaru find himself with this bunch? The answer is, of course, yes, and it's as much fun for us as it is for him.

There are two more volumes so far (I only have vol. 1 currently), and I will be picking them up ASAP. It's a good (if temporary) antidote to the current sociopolitical horror show.

chomiji: Two ghostly princes looking pained, with caption Oooh, that's really got to hurt! ... (Stardust Princes-ouch)
2017-01-18 07:46 am
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Embarrasing Injury

So on my way to work yesterday, I came up the escalator at the Metro station to find that a train was just pulling in. The guy ahead of me was going slow and blocking my way, so as soon as I got off the escalator, I ran around him and headed for the second car, which drops me off right at the bottom of the stairs at Union Station (where I get off).

As I bounded along, I felt something catch and then pop free at the bottom of my pelvis, where my butt joins my leg. Man, it hurt!

And still hurts, although it's a little better this morning, after some Alleve overnight. From info I found online, it looks like I may have slightly torn the tendon(s) at the top of the various hamstring muscles, which attach at that point.

So here I am, literally butt hurt. Ow.

Gotta remember that I'm too old (or at least, not in good enough shape) to be running for trains. :-(

chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)
2016-12-03 06:46 pm
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Because It Heals My Heart

Springsteen looks like such a kid in this, although I think he was actually close to 30 at the time. The in-concert energy is palpable even over the Intarwebs, both among the band members and out in the audience.

Looking at this and listening to it just makes me feel so much better. Because even today, the Boss still loves us and stands up for what's right.

ETA: The video embed service on DW seems to be messing up—it doesn't load, and at one point I got an error that the server (on DW) wasn't responding. You can view it over at LJ or use the YouTube link. It's a live performance of "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" from 1988.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2016-11-16 08:52 pm
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Wednesday Reading

IT'S A SECRET!

(Re-reading canon for Yuletide. Many volumes of canon.)