chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

So, yeah I haven't done this for several weeks. Let's see how much I can get through here... .

Finished The Undoing Project. In the end, it was a biography of a collaboration, and the ending was rather sad: as one half of the partnership (Amos Tversky) became more famous and was offered more opportunities, the other half (Daniel Kahneman) realized that his collaborator was to some extent stifling him, not because Tversky didn't want Kahneman to have success, but because he wanted his partner to always be there when he himself needed a sounding board. In the end, Tversky received a MacArthur Genius Grant and other honors, then died too young of cancer. Kahneman went on to win the Nobel in Economics, which he could not share with his former collaborator because the Nobel is only awarded to the living. The subject matter (basically, what goes into human decision-making) interested me enough that I have bought (on deep markdown) a book by one of their more casual collaborators, Richard Thaler, and have added Kahneman's award-winning popular book Thinking, Fast and Slow to my wishlist.

For something completely different, I turned to Jackalope Wives, a collection of shorter fiction by Ursula Vernon. The works include not only the award-winning title story, which I had not read, but The Tomato Thief, which I had, and which won the Hugo in August for best novelette. Vernon is a great writer with a natural yet elegant voice and a wicked sense of humor, and I enjoyed the book.

I then read Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Gypsy Game, a sequel to her The Egypt Game. Egypt was important to my childhood, but as an adult, I'm much more conscious of concepts such as cultural appropriation. For this reason, I had put off reading this sequel. Actually, Snyder does take a shot at dispelling some of the more harmful myths about the Rom, and I'm not sad I read the book. I may not ever re-read it, though: it was kind of slight.

Next up was Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Witch, which was available as a Kindle deal a few weeks ago. The deal did its work as a loss leader, because at the end, I discovered that a sequel, Akata Warrior, had just come out, and I bought it at the full price. Books are my kryptonite. The two volumes concern the adventures and growth of a young "akata" girl, Sunny, who is an albino and gets almost as much grief from her Nigerian classmates because of that as she does for being born and partially raised in the United States ("akata" means an African American and is not a flattering term). Sunny discovers that she is a "Leopard person," which is one who can use magic. She becomes part of a small team with a shared destiny involving the destruction of a great evil. The books make an interesting compare-and-contrast to the Harry Potter series, and the Nigerian setting was completely new to me. I enjoyed both books.

Currently, I'm reading The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. It's reminding me of Martha Wells' Ile Rien books in setting and tone, although Cogman doesn't seem to have as much of a sense of humor as Wells does. There are several sequels, so I am hoping I end up liking this one.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

Here on LJ or Here on his review site.

His series title, "Because My Tears Are Delicious to You," is for reviews where he revisits a book he read as a young adult and sees how it stands the test of time (in other words whether it has been visited by the Suck Fairy).

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

Yeah, I seem to be doing this monthly. *sigh*

What have you just finished reading?

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. YA fantasy with a Slavic-based setting. The heroine is a prickly, skinny girl who is a cartographer with the army, but she turns out to be The Chosen One and gets swept off for special magical training. She's a duck out of water in a way that reminds me a little of Menolly in the Harper Hall in McCaffrey's Pern books, with the queen bee girls being rude and prickly to her. About midway through she suddenly becomes healthier and prettier because Plot Reasons, and then she starts to like to try on dresses, and I realized that I didn't like her nearly as much. I then had to castigate myself for this, because I'm sure lots of the intended readers would love that part. There was some silly romantical stuff too, which I also disliked. And then Bardugo completely confounded my expectations about what the last part of the book was going to be like. Well done, author! I still don't think it's a great book: too many things happening with too little run-up (for example, Alina's relationship wth her childhood friend Mal would have been better with more showing, less telling, of their shared history), but I think I'm invested enough to get the sequel.

The Snake Stone, by Jason Goodwin, is the second Master Yashim book. I begin to see what [personal profile] flemmings was saying about the hero's sex life. It's annoying because Yashim might as well not be a eunuch, except that it means he can visit the seraglio in the palace. He's starting to read more like a man with a slightly low-ish sex drive instead. The cultural and culinary details remain interesting, and I liked the info about pre-Victorian archeology and book-collecting.

The Little Death by Michael Nava is the first volume of a mystery series about a gay lawyer, Henry Rios. It features a tragic Boyfriend in the Refrigerator and lots of Evil Plotting by the rich and the famous. I like Henry, although his situation is somewhat depressing. I will probably try the next one as well.

Four British Fantasists, which is a critical study and comparison of authors Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Susan Cooper, and Diana Wynne Jones. The author, Charles Butler, is a member of the DWJ online mailing list. The book was interesting, and now I'm wondering whether I should fill in some of the books that I haven't read that are discussed, especially by Lively and Garner. Although I remember bouncing off Garner's Red Shift, and the things he wrote after that are apparently even more experimental.

What are you currently reading?

Another re-read for a writing challenge, and also volume 10 of the manga Bunny Drop, which basically short stories about Daikichi and Rin that didn't make it into the main series (which ended, plot-wise, with vol. 9).

What do you think you'll read next?

I just got an Amazon order that includes volume 1 of Fumi Yoshinaga's manga series What Did You Eat Yesterday? Also, volume 3 of the hard yaoi manga Crimson Spell (by Ayano Yamane), and the latest volumes of Marjorie Liu's Hunter Kiss series (Labyrinth of Stars) and Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series (Broken Homes). The Aaronovitch has been getting mixed reviews, but I have to at least give it a try because the earlier books were so awesome. (These are both urban fantasy, for those unfamiliar with them, but very different in tone and scope.)


chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

Maybe I can get around to this ... monthly?

What have you just finished reading?

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, at last. For a while, it seemed like everyone on my f-list was reccing this. and I got a copy for Hanukah … but kept putting off reading it. It sounded like it was going to be unrelentingly sad, and also, as a Jewish child of the 60s, I was subjected to loads of documentary footage on Holocaust atrocities as part of my religious school curriculum, so I was very reluctant to read a story involving a Nazi prisoner. When I finally did read it. I was actually charmed by some of it, and parts were really quite funny. It is tragic, and simply intensely sad in parts, but it also ends with a sort of calm joy.

The Janissary Tree, by Jason Goodwin, is a charming and yet occasionally gruesome murder mystery set in early 19th century Istanbul, with a eunuch court official as investigator. There is the potential for all sorts of cultural shenanigans (orientalism, obviously, and misrepresentations of Turkish Islamic culture) here, and I don't know enough about any of it to say what kind of course Goidwin has steered. I did enjoy the book and appreciated its representation of a spectrum of human sexuality (although there was definitely a "kill your gays" moment). I did find it rather odd that Goodwin in general represents dialog in other languages by choice of phrase and occasionally non-English vocabulary, but for some reason, uneducated Greeks are given the sort of eye dialect familiar to me from British naturalist Gerald Durrell's Corfu memoirs.

Also, I should note that as [ profile] flemmings pointed out to me, this is a great book for foodies. Our hero, Master Yashim, loves good food and cooks as a diversion as well as for nourishment.

Finally, I read the last volume of the manga Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden by Yuu Watase, which ended about as could be expected. I was relieved that the young king didn't have a tragic ending. Also, I read volume 4 of CLAMP's Gate 7, which continues to be both pretty and pretty ridiculous, albeit entertainingly so. I understand it is now in hiatus, which rots. WTF, CLAMP publishers? People actually like your sparkly silliness. Don't you want to cash in on that?

What are you currently reading?

I am several chapters into the second Master Yashim mystery, The Snake Stone. I'm also doing a re-read for a story I'm writing.

What do you think you'll read next?

I still need to make myself start the manga Vinland Saga. Also, Fumi Yoshinaga's What Did You Eat Yesterday? has just started coming out in English. I'd read Yoshinaga's adaptation of the DC telephone book (supposing such a thing existed), so I'm definitely going to get this one. I also have a couple of YA novels lying around that I got for the holidays and never read. And who knows, maybe the put-one take-one shelf at work will produce the third Master Yashim mystery (that's where I got the other two).


chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Noel Streatfeild's Dancing Shoes and a Montreal travel guide.

What are you currently reading?

Peter Dickinson's The Blue Hawk, which I have almost finished (another re-read). I had forgotten how much I enjoyed that one! Really lovely use of language, and some interesting meditations on the nature of gods and those who worship them. Some of it echoes the points made in both Pratchett's Small Gods (1992) and Hodgell's God Stalk (1986) ... Dickinson's book was published in 1991, so make of that what you will. I'm also making my way through some manga re-reading for a writing project.

What do you think you'll read next?

I just downloaded the first two of E. Nesbit's "Bastables" series, which I have never read. I am very fond of her series featuring the Psammead, so we shall see. I'm also about to do a big book order for vacation reading, and I'll probably add on the next volumes of Natsume's Book of Friends and Black Butler, both of which came out recently.

(To my intense disgust, Ben Aaronovitch's next book is due out in the U.K. tomorrow ... but not due in the U.S. until 2014!)


chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery and Thursday's Children by Rumer Godden.

Rilla of Ingleside has, in some ways, more depths than the rest of the series, because Canada goes through WWI during the time of the novel. Young men go off to war, and several of the young women go off to volunteer support work as well. Rilla, who is a rather silly, spoiled little girl at the start of the novel, ends up keeping the home fires burning and also taking care of an almost-orphan baby: his father is off in the war and his mother has died. Rilla ends up (with her family's support) bringing him up "by the book." It's interesting to see an early take on this: she's worried about germs and so on, yet at one point (strikingly similar to the scene in the first book where Anne saves Diana's little sister's life), the child's life is saved by a rather bizarre old-style medical treatment. The book's final scene happens rather abruptly – almost an afterthought – but the last line is a killer! XD

The Godden book was a comfort reread, and I skipped some scenes in the first part, because they make me too sad (and that's saying something: there are a lot of sad scenes in the book). Doone and Crystal Penny are the youngest children of a grocer and his wife, a former chorine. Ma is devoted to the idea of making Crystal into the ballerina she herself always yearned to be, but she has no concept of the serious, hard-working side of ballet training and spoils Crystal abominably. Doone, an unwanted afterthought baby, is enchanted with dance and music and shows real talent at both, but between Ma's focus on Crystal and Pa's conviction that ballet is only for girls and queers, he has a really tough row to hoe. It all comes right in the end, not only for Doone, but also for Crystal: as horrid and spoiled as she is, she's also been mistreated by her family, and she needs to go through emotional fire to earn her happy ending. This book always strikes me as "Rumer Godden writes Noel Streatfeild," and it has the strengths of both authors.

What are you currently reading?

More non-fiction and also some fiction for story research, plus Wild Adapter vol. 4 (re-read). Volumes 4 (where Kubota gets taken into police custody after being observed at a crime scene) and 5 (the flashback to where Kubota finds Tokito, narrated by their young neighbor Shouta) are my favorites in this series. Not coincidentally, they also have the most scenes with my favorite supporting characters: Detective Kasai (who is Kubota's uncle), Dr. Kou, Anna, Takizawa the reporter (now a freelance journalist), and Shouta himself.

What do you think you'll read next?

I have downloaded Little Fuzzy to my phone. I am also going to be reading a tour book or two for our upcoming vacation.


chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan (literally, only an hour or so ago), and Anne of Ingleside and Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery.

The Morgan book was very much a mixed bag. It had some terribly exciting scenes that made me grin or exclaim aloud, some hot male/male sex, character angst and betrayal, and a female character who gets to have All the Blades, with Names,* but also some scenes I really wish I could unsee.

What are you currently reading?

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery, some non-fiction for story research, and The Life of Slang by Julie Coleman. The latter is a book I bought for my husband for Fathers Day, but he kindly left it on the Big Pile o' Reading Matter in the bathroom.

What do you think you'll read next?

My friend's MS is still eating my brain. Some more story research is also on the slate. I'm wondering whether I want to download and read The Blythes Are Quoted, which is apparently a number of short stories about characters from the Anne of Green Gables series and their descendants. I don't usually like short stories as much as novels, but so much of the Anne series is episodic that maybe it won't bother me.

*Did anyone else ever read Frostflower and Thorn by Phyllis Ann Karr? Thorn had named her blades, but Archeth in the Morgan book has much better names for hers, and more of them, too.


chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read), Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery.

Enchanted Glass is, as I remembered it, OK, but rather flat, especially in comparison with classics such as The Homeward Bounders. Fire and Hemlock, and even The Lives of Christopher Chant (the Chrestomanci books are not super-favorites of mine, in general).

What are you currently reading?

Richard K. Morgan's The Steel Remains and Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery. Also, I'm doing some nonfiction reading for story research, which will remain unspecified for now.

What do you think you'll read next?

That MS is sucking up a lot of time and brainpower. I'll probably continue on my Montgomery kick: Feedbooks seems to have all of the Anne series for download. And I'm still working on the Morgan book. I was amused at my reactions to the smartass protagonists' reactions to their opponents in the combat scenes that just occurred: I was grinning and almost snickering. Too much Fritz Leiber at an early age, I suppose.


chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Loveless (manga) volume 11, Seanan McGuire's An Artificial Night (October Daye #3), and Anne of the Island and Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery.

Loveless managed to ratchet up both the angst and the humor (spoiler for the latter: Yohji manages to unhook his first bra - Shinonome's, of course! She thwacks him on the head with a book.). I wonder if we'll ever find out how Seimei became such an awful person?

In An Artificial Night, Toby is getting a little more sensible, but just a little. I was really enthralled with the first two thirds of this one. Then McGuire started to adhere to a classical trope of legend – one with which I am very familiar – and did it basically paint-by-numbers, which sort of wrecked the whole mood for me.

In the Anne books, it becomes more and more clear that Montgomery has hundreds of little vignettes that she wants to share. Anne of Windy Poplars, which is framed as a series of letters from Anne to her fiance, actually got a bit tedious. The narrator's voice is a little more wry and tart than Anne's, and it makes a better foil to the endless series of incidents in which Anne manages to tame human ogres, dragons, and snakes. I was gratified that Anne had a couple of protégées this time around, as well as a young man whom she's trying to encourage to continue his education.

What are you currently reading?

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read; almost finished), Richard K. Morgan's The Steel Remains, and Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. The contrast in moods and subject matter between the latter two is giving me whiplash of the brain.

What do you think you'll read next?

I should try to re-read Redshirts by John Scalzi, and write it up. Ditto with Among Others by Jo Walton. The Morgan book will require antidotes in the form of more Anne and maybe some favorite children's books. I'm also beta-reading a book manuscript for an old friend, but I'm not sure that counts.


chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

The Killing Moon (re-read) by N.K. Jemisin

What are you currently reading?

Something by Rosemary Sutcliff, which I will not specify at this time (re-read). And bits and pieces from C.J. Cherryh's Regenesis (also a re-read). (Plus, the latest Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazines.)

What do you think you'll read next?

Probably The Shadowed Sun by Jemisin.


chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

So you all may recall my post from just about a year ago, regarding [ profile] rachelmanija's and [ profile] sartorias's unpublished YA novel. It had several gay characters, and the publishers to whom the authors spoke kept wanting to de-gay the book in a very cowardly and bottom-line-watching fashion: "If it only weren't the first book in the series ... if they were only minor characters ... if it were for an older audience ... " (and so on and so forth).

They have sold the book.

To a very real publisher, Viking (Penguin Group), and the editor will be someone they both like and admire immensely, who has no intention of removing the young gay characters.

Sometimes the good guys win!!!

chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Gojyo  - King of Hearts)

So it's been a bit more than a month since [ profile] whymzycal assigned me these seven things! Life has been rather complicated during that time, to say the least.

Cut for long )
chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Default)

Followups to the links I posted last week:

A direct one: What's going on with #yesGayYA
" ... before I can get to a number of other things, we have a publishing kerfuffle to discuss. Yes, another one. It's gotten pretty bad ... The long version: (Pack a lunch, you'll need it) ..."
[Excellent summary, with plenty of links , of the whole situation.]

A related one: Of Bigotry, Children and Culture:
"At four different points [in the show], the comedian asked for child volunteers to come up onto the stage and have themselves drawn ... The fourth and final time her hand went ignored, the girl in front of us let out a frustrated sigh and exclaimed, ‘He’s only choosing boys ... !’"
[About children, and the lessons that we may not know we're teaching]

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

If you enjoy the historical novels of Rosemary Sutcliff (The Eagle of the Ninth et al.), please check out the new LJ community Sutcliff Talk.

We've only just begun ... !

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

"We are published authors who co-wrote a post-apocalyptic young adult novel. When we set out to find an agent for it, we expected to get some rejections. But we never expected to be offered representation… on the condition that we make a gay character straight, or cut him out altogether ... ."

Read the rest of Rachel Manija Brown's and Sherwood Smith's article about their experience at the Publisher's Weekly-hosted blog Genreville ... or, if you want to discuss it in more familiar surroundings, check Rachel's post on LJ or DW.

chomiji: Kyoshirou from Samurai Deeper Kyo, weeping.  Caption: Nor all your tears wash out a word of it o (Kyoushirou-tears)

What should I re-read right now, to remember her? She is the author of so many of my favorite books:

  • The Homeward Bounders
  • The Time of the Ghost
  • Fire and Hemlock
  • Witch Week
  • Deep Secret
  • Archer's Goon

And then there's always The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.

A bit of light has gone out of the world.

ETA: Obits by Other Authors

ETA: Mainstream Media Obits

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

Meliara Astiar and her brother Branaric are the Countess and Count of Tlanth, a small, rural province of a not-very-large kingdom named Remalna, which is ruled by king who's a nasty piece of work. The siblings and their supporters start a guerilla revolution. They are hopelessly outnumbered but wilderness-crafty, and they cause the king considerable grief before Meliara ends up in one of her side's own booby traps, gets badly injured, and is captured by the Marquise of Shevraeth, known as a wealthy fop but a cool head in battle. She eventually escapes but is recaptured - and then discovers that her current captor has also decided to overthrow the king.

At the end of what was originally the first book (this was first published as two volumes), Mel and her brother are awarded a considerable part of the king's ill-gotten gains. As the second book opens, Mel has used these funds to reverse some of Tlanth's general dilapidation and is refusing all invitations to court in the capitol because she distrusts and despises courtiers. Branaric arrives from his own court sojourn with an irrefutable reason for Mel to accompany him back, and she is soon involved in a much more civilized form of warfare. Her actions in the war against the hated king have made her something of a folk heroine (which, as Diana Wynne Jones observes, is something very different from a hero), and various factions court her with the idea of using her as a tool. At the end, she find her place and her love.

I liked this - well enough that I plan to look for some more of the author's work - but I didn't love it. Head-shaky things happened for Important Plot Reasons, and I didn't get along with Mel - who is the first-person narrator - very well. She seemed to me to be a different person than various characters and she herself wanted me to believe she was. There are also stereotypes at work: Mel is in many ways a red-haired Spirited Princess straight out of Tough Guide to Fantasyland, for example, and bad people are much more likely to be overweight than good people are.

Read more ... with spoilers and lots of nitpicking )
chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

The latest volume of Twelve Kingdoms once again picks up the story of Yoko, the former Japanese schoolgirl who becomes ruler of the Kingdom of Kei. It also introduces two other female characters of roughly the same age: Suzu, who had just been sold into indentured servitude in the Japan of the past when she tumbles into the world of the Twelve Kingdoms, and Shoukei, daughter of a tyrant who is killed by one of his ministers. All three spend most of the volume learning and evolving.

Yoko is not being taken seriously by her ministers, and she herself realizes that that she is making poor decisions. Like many rulers of legend, she decides that a sojourn in disguise as a citizen of her new land will teach her more about what's really going on. Suzu, after some some quickly summarized misadventures, ends up as servant of a whimsically cruel oracle who mistreats her. Although Suzu manages to escape, it's very much a case of out of the frying pan, into the fire. Meanwhile, Shoukei is removed to a remote village where she is given a new identity as an orphan. Unfortunately, her true identity as a tyrant's child is not kept secret enough, and her life becomes a torment until she, too, escapes.

For the first half of the book, I was actually quite exasperated with both Suzu and Shoukei - which is, I think, intentional. Ono does not shy from putting her characters through nastily realistic horrors as transformational experiences. Kinder methods might have eventually worked similar changes in both Shoukei and Suzu, but not as quickly. By the end of the story, the three young women are testing their new skills and outlooks in a dangerous political situation that eventually brings them together

The translation remains awkward, and everyone involved in quality control for this volume deserve a big slap in the face. There are typographical errors - especially toward the end, as though the editors had been running out of time - and one entire line has all the words run together so that it's almost unreadable. At least Ono's illustrations are as charming as ever.

Other Reviews of This:
by meganbmoore

chomiji: Nase Asumi with a wry smile on her face, and the caption Awesomesauce (Asumi - awesomesauce)

Right here!

Donald Sutherland is playing Uncle Aquila!

There's also an official movie site, which gives a release date of this September! (September 2010, that is.)

chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (augustus - shades)

They're making a movie of The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff! The idea got a great reception at Cannes!

(Thanks to sovay for the tip!)

April 2019

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