liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Katy by Jacqueline Wilson. (c)Jacqueline Wilson 2015, Pub Puffin Books 2016, ISBN 978-0-141-35398-2.

This book. This booooooook! [livejournal.com profile] ghoti found it and gave it to me for chanukah, and it is the most wonderful thing. I love Jacqueline Wilson, and I love Coolidge's What Katy Did in spite of it being problematic in that uniquely 19th century way. And it's a book about a protagonist who suffers a spinal cord injury which is not awful.

detailed review, spoils the main plot twist of both the old and the new books )

So yes, Katy is awesome, and if you don't absolutely hate the whole YA genre you should definitely read it.

Currently reading: Theoretically A journey to the end of the millennium by AB Yehoshua, but I'm stalled on it to the extent that I read a whole other book in the middle, so we'll see. I know lots of people read several books at once but it's fairly unusual for me.

Up next: Not sure, I've been given a lot of awesome presents recently and haven't got round to reading them all. I've seen a few very enticing reviews of An interior life by Katherine Blake, which [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel gave me a while back and it's not got to the top of my reading pile.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Recently read: I'm really impressed at people who were getting Yuletide recs out within a few days of the event!

fanfic and politics )

Currently reading: A journey to the end of the Millennium, by AB Yehoshua. I'm enjoying this, but with some caveats. It's subtitled A novel of the Middle Ages, but in many ways it's quite aggressively modern, and I think that is probably deliberate, but it's not the immersion in a different culture that I look for in historical novels.

I really like that it breaks the Eurocentric perspective of much of modern writing about the Middle Ages, it treats white Christians as this peculiar tribe eking out an existence in the barbarian lands of northern Europe, with the Jewish and Muslim viewpoint characters as the sophisticated travellers visiting these primitive lands and trying to avoid rousing the superstitious natives to violence. And within that, the plot about an African Jew who's completely bemused by this bizarre new German concept that marriage is supposed to be between one man and one woman. But the sexism and racism are twentieth century sexism and racism, projected back onto Ye Olden Dayes. The major female characters are nameless, just "The First Wife" and "The Second Wife," and the novel opens with a long and mostly pointless scene about the protag psyching himself up to satisfy both his wives in a single night. That's not, gender roles were different in the 10th century, that's exactly reproducing all the other litfic ever about middle-aged men angsting / fantasizing about their virility. Likewise the only Black character (though most of the main characters are not exactly white) is "the black slave" and seems to be very stereotyped, and again, it's modern racially essentialist stereotypes, nothing that feels authentically period.

I'm finding de Lange's translation a bit awkward. In some ways it's quite successful at conveying the feel of reading Hebrew, full of allusions to the scriptural language which is at the root of modern Ivrit, and it's poetic as I imagine Yehoshua's writing must be. But it's also quite intrusive, I don't want to be constantly feeling that I'm reading a translation. Never clunky, it's not over-literal to the point of being completely unidiomatic, but it's just distancing.

Up next: Surely Katy by Jacqueline Wilson, because I have been unknowingly waiting for this book for most of 30 years.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie; (c) Ann Leckie 2014; Pub Orbit 2014; ISBN 978-0-356-50241-0.

detailed review, with allusions to spoilers )

Currently reading: In a time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor, sort of, though really I haven't picked up anything new since I finished AS yesterday.

Up next: I so much want to spend time in Breq's viewpoint that I am tempted to break my usual rule and go straight on to Ancillary Mercy. (Side-note: I don't understand why books two and three are named this way round, since most of the plot of Ancillary Sword takes place on a Mercy. But hey.)
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Let's pretend it's just a normal Wednesday, shall we?

reading log )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: this was just bullet points but it grew )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: A wild sheep chase by Haruki Murakami, trans Alfred Birnbaum. (c) Haruki Murakami 1982, pub Vintage 2003, ISBN 978-0-099-44877-8. This was a present from [livejournal.com profile] ghoti, since it's a book she likes and it contains cute ears and I have very little exposure to Japanese lit. I found the book very mind-expanding and different from most of what I normally read, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

detailed review )

Currently reading: A time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor, as recommended to me by [personal profile] rushthatspeaks. Basically it's an account of how the author got kicked out of school and decided to walk across Europe to Constantinople, in 1933. I don't normally read travelogues, but I agree with the intro by Jan Morris, that Fermor is just an outstandingly good writer, and his descriptions are evocative enough to be exciting even though nothing really happens except that he walks around and visits places. He has the kind of assumption typical of a certain class of white English young men, that everybody will basically like him and want to help him out. He's also genuinely interested in the people he meets working on this assumption. In some ways the narrative style is reminding me of my uncle who at a similar sort of age drove a van to Australia.

I've nearly finished the section where he crosses Germany, noting the presence of the newly ascendant Nazi party but not dwelling on that to the exclusion of talking about the history and culture of the country and telling anecdotes about the various German people he meets on the way. The moment where he describes crossing the border from the Netherlands and seeing swastikas everywhere is a brilliant piece of writing, a paragraph of description of some Dutch St Vincent de Paul nuns, and then:
The officials at the Dutch frontier handed back my passport, duly stamped, and soon I was crossing the last furlongs of No Man's Land, with the German frontier post growing nearer through the turning snow. Black, white and red were painted in spirals round the road barrier and soon I could make out the scarlet flag charged with its white disc and its black swastika.

Up next: Not sure. I'm still looking out for A book with a color in the title for my very old Bringing up Burns challenge, or I may well read Novik's Uprooted.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: A couple of really great, thinky reviews:
I'm not always as enthusiastic about Laurie Penny as many people in my circle, but they hit it out of the park with Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless. It's a really nuanced and thoughtful piece about self-care and wellbeing, considering both the ways that these things are undervalued especially for women and marginalized people, and the ways that they are repackaged and exploited within the capitalist system. There's a bit of that irritating young lefty anxiety about whether one's life choices are sufficiently "radical", but still very well worth reading.

Currently reading: A wild sheep chase, by Haruki Murakami. This was a present from [livejournal.com profile] ghoti. It's very atmospheric, but the atmosphere it creates is somewhat bleak and miserable. It's sort of doing the litfic thing where the recently divorced narrator is sad because his comfortable but unexceptional life isn't as exciting as he might have hoped when he was younger, with the accompanying rather annoying attitude to women. But at about a third of the way through, this is looking like a frame for doing other things, a bit magic realist, a bit thriller, with the protag getting very politely kidnapped by the mafia boss. It's told in a somewhat non-linear way, so I'm not yet sure how all the different facets of the story fit together.

Up next: I'm travelling to Hungary next week, so I am not quite sure if I'll end up with loads of time for reading or very little. The next thing on my e-reader is Blindsight by Peter Watts. Unless someone wants to rec me a Hungarian book which is available in translation, in order to be thematically suitable?
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Hild by Nicola Griffith. (c) Nicola Griffith 2013, Pub Blackfriars 2013, ISBN 9780349134253. I bought this as a full priced ebook based on several really enthusiastic reviews, and I can certainly say it lives up to the hype.

detailed review )

Anyway, I was completely caught up in the book, kept finding excuses to read just one more page, and I was really quite disappointed not to be in Hild's head any more. I can absolutely see why this book is such a sensation, and I do strongly recommend it to readers of both speculative fiction and historical novels.

Up next: A wild sheep chase by Haruki Murakami.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently acquired I went on a bit of an ebook-buying spree because I was travelling and wasn't sure how much time I'd have with no internet, but also didn't want to take a big pile of heavy p-books with me. So:

  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik, as it's been getting a lot of buzz lately. And I like Novik's pacey, id-heavy writing, but I'm not massively fond of the Temeraire series.

  • Abaddon's gate by James SA Corey. The third in the Expanse space opera series of which I've enjoyed the first two.

  • Bring up the bodies by Hilary Mantel. I really enjoyed Wolf Hall when I was on holiday with more uninterrupted reading time than usual, so I was keen on the sequel.

  • I failed to buy Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer, the astonishingly brilliant blogger from Ex Urbe. Unfortunately it's region locked and I couldn't be bothered going through the palaver of pretending to be American and then breaking the DRM to be able to read the book, so. If the publishers are going to make it deliberately difficult for me to give them money, well, I'm not jumping through hoops, I'll spend the money on something else.


Recently read: Ghost spin, by Chris Moriarty. (c) Chris Moriarty 2013, Pub Ballantine Books Spectra 2013, ISBN 978-0-553-38494-9. detailed review, somewhat spoilery )

Currently reading: Hild by Nicola Griffith. I'd seen a lot of buzz about this as a historical novel for SF readers, and yes, yes it is. It's about the English Dark Ages, just at the start of Christianity reaching England, and it has absolutely masses of worldbuilding and exploration of the impact of technological changes on society, and just lets you pick it up from context. I know basically nothing about the seventh century, so I have absolutely no idea about historical accuracy, but the level of detail makes the setting seem extremely real and vivid. It's just amazingly weird compared to almost any made-up fantasy world; the characters seem like people, but their values and priorities are amazingly different from those of the modern reader.

In general I'm enjoying Hild really a lot. I love being immersed in the to me alien world, and I like and am invested in the characters, and care about all the political intrigue. I like the choice to tell the story from the point of view of Hild and her mostly female circle, so that warriors and kings and priests and so on are mentioned but always seen from the outside, in terms of their effects on female life. I'm just getting to the bit where people are starting to convert to Christianity, and knowing that Hild is in fact based on the historical St Hilda of Whitby, I can't not know that she is going to end up Christian. In some ways I'm a little disappointed by this, not because I mind reading about Christian characters, but because what will eventually become Mediaeval Christianity is so much more familiar to me than the pre-Christian cultures from between the Roman era and about the time of the book.

Up next: Don't know, I'm a bit less than halfway through Hild so it'll probably be a while before I pick up anything new. I've been hankering to read Ancillary Sword but I think in some ways the style is perhaps too similar to Hild for this to be the best choice to delve into next.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read:
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Between planets by Robert A Heinlein. (c) 1951 McCall Corporation and Robert A Heinlein, Pub 1968 Gollancz. [livejournal.com profile] ghoti lent it to me as a book she liked when she was a kid, and indeed, it's just the sort of book to appeal to my inner 12-year-old: a fun adventure story that feels sciencey and doesn't benefit from too much thinking.

thoughts )

Currently reading: In theory, The Dervish House by Ian McDonald, in reality I just haven't touched it in two months. I don't know why, I don't have anything negative to say about the book, it just somehow doesn't have momentum.

Up next: I'm somewhat tempted by Chocolat by Joanne Harris, another present from [livejournal.com profile] ghoti.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: The first fifteen lives of Harry August, by Claire North. (c) Claire North 2014, Pub Orbit 2014, ISBN 978-1-4055-2825-2. The first fifteen lives of Harry August is the sort of book I normally really like, intelligent SF which explores a cool idea. but it didn't quite work for me.

read more )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read:
  • A couple of striking pieces on people talking about their experiences of living in their bodies:
  • A thorough and informative long read about my brother's poetry book and the political background: Poets Of The Rifle: Cultural Resistance From Saharawi Refugee Camps, by Jen Calleja.

  • [personal profile] commodorified's thinky essay and discussion about how fandom talks about writing about rape. I've been meaning to link to this for ages, it's very complex and nuanced and I don't think I can really summarize it, but if you're at all interested in fandom culture and communities of trauma survivors more broadly it's well worth reading (if you can cope with a meta discussion about rape and trauma, of course).
Currently reading: The first fifteen lives of Harry August, by Claire North. I'm actually most of the way through, I'll probably finish it next time I have half an hour to spare. It's... ok, there's nothing obviously terrible about it, but it just doesn't give me any sense of wanting to read on to find out what happens next. It should be exciting, because it's all about Harry's arch-enemy trying to alter the timeline so that Harry never exists, risking destroying the whole world in the process, so there's plenty of both personal and global peril, but for some reason I'm not emotionally engaged with the plot.

It feels like much of the book is North exploring a cool idea, that rare people are "Ouroborans" who when they die return to their own births with their memories of their lives, now in the relative future, intact. But she never really moves on beyond exploring the implications of this cool idea, tFFLoHA just doesn't quite hang together as a story. I think a lot of my problem is that I don't like Harry August as a character, he's very self-centred and just annoying, and that's preventing me from engaging with the plot.

Up next: Next on my Bringing up Burns challenge list is A book by an author you love. So maybe it's time to read the third in Chris Moriarty's Spin cycle, Ghost spin. Or perhaps The Dervish House by Ian McDonald, which I was really excited about a while back but then didn't read because Brasyl really disappointed me.

Also I'm thinking of reading Das Kapital by Karl Marx, along with a friend who is looking to fill a gap. I love the idea of reading seminal texts collaboratively, but it's possible that this may be a bad idea as said friend is quite a bit to the left of me politically, which might make me an annoying reading partner. And if I do pick up a big scary political tome I will probably read a novel at the same time.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (c) 2006 Liu Cixin, translated Ken Liu, translation (c) China Education Publications Import & Export Corp Ltd 2014, Pub Head of Zeus 2014, ISBN 978-1-784-97154-0.

detailed review )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: The examined life: how we lose and find ourselves by Stephen Grosz. (c) Stephen Grosz 2013; Pub Random House Vintage 2014; ISBN 978-0-099-54903-1. This is a book of vignettes from Grosz' practice as a psychoanalyst, lent to me by [personal profile] angelofthenorth.

reviews, including glancing mentions of genocide )

The last two weeks have been a roller coaster, I've had loads of fun including a couple of long weekend breaks, and also quite a lot of stress both work and personal, and all that adds up to never getting time for DW. I feel a bit deprived that I'm only managing to talk about books here, I have lots of thoughts and lots of articles I want to link to and I miss all of you. But anyway, talking about books is a start.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: The Fresco by Sheri S Tepper. review has minor spoilers and some abortion politics )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read:
  • Lady of mazes by Karl Schroeder. (c) 2005 Karl Schroeder, Pub Tor 2006, ISBN 0-765-35078-5.

    long reviews with political commentary )

    OK, wrote this on the train yesterday, it's actually Thursday by the time I've got online to post it.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read

Currently reading: Lady of mazes by Karl Schroeder. I'm enjoying it really a lot. It's sort of doing that slightly clichéd thing of whether it's better to have safety or freedom, but it's also got some really interesting world-building exploring post-human civilizations, with some very nice characterization and plenty of exciting plot.

Up next: I don't know. I think I should maybe stop answering this question as I'm pretty rarely right about what I'll pick up next; I often don't decide until I find out where I physically am and what's available when I finish what I'm currently reading. I'm thinking of trying out the Your Blue-eyed Boys Captain America fanfic that people have been raving about, even though I'm not terribly into the canon; does anyone have a reading guide?
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read
  • The girl with all the gifts by MR Carey. read more )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read:
  • Finished the draft of my friend's unpublished novel that I've been reading for some weeks now.

  • In a blue velvet dress by Catherine Sefton. read more )

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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