mayhap: (gathering data)
This is…pretty accurate, actually:

mayhap.dreamwidth.org is probably written by a female somewhere between 26-35 years old. The writing style is personal and happy most of the time.

It chokes on my LJ URL for some reason. Also, I fed it my tumblr, which it thinks is written by a middle-aged woman…possibly because the primary chunk of text on it is a quotation from an A. S. Byatt novella, so that's fairly accurate as well, if rather pointless.
mayhap: Holmes and Watson with text whatever remains however improbable (however improbable)
What I've been reading

I read both volumes of Matt Fraction's The Defenders, a sort of unconventional team book that starts out all messy and then gets brilliant and then canceled in short order. Alas.

I reread Surfeit of Lampreys, and I do still love the Lampreys. Plus Roberta Grey, honorary Lamprey, of course.

I read A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return, a graphic memoir about the civil war in Lebanon. The pairing of the art style and the subject matter obviously owes a lot to Persepolis, and indeed this is what made me pick it up, but Abirached also does some really effective storytelling through maps and floorplans and uses lots of fields of repeated figures (like the cars on the cover) in a visually striking way.

I read Broken Homes, the new Peter Grant book, and well. I'm of two minds. As a book, it really is, structurally, broken, so even though there are lots of little fan-friendly yay! moments, they're all embedded in a framework of wait, what? Like, I mean, mild spoilers/premise of book ) Also, spoilers/speculation ) But mostly I love this series too much to be objective and I think everyone should read it.

I read New X-Men Volume 1, the beginning of Grant Morrison's run, and it was entertaining enough.

I read Harlequin Valentine, a graphic adaption of a Neil Gaiman story. I am really not in love with the art, which is allegedly supposed to be "a combination of digitally enhanced photo-realism and dynamic painting" but just looks like the slightly-classier version of the fanart which is just airbrushing over a photo and pretending you drew it. But, I mean, the pages themselves are fine, and it's a legitimate artistic choice, I just don't like it.

I reread Death and the Dancing Footman, which I think wins for the Ngiao Marsh book with the least-representative title. I mean, there is a footman, he dances, and logistically the solution of the mystery does involve him, but it doesn't give you a hint of the setup. This book was published in 1941 and all the characters are gearing up for war in one way or another and thinking about how odd it is to investigate one death so particularly when lots of people are going to be dying indiscriminately soon, which is not a subject that generally comes up in your English country house murder. Also, two of the guests in the house reference Busman's Honeymoon; they have good taste in detective novels.

I reread Colour Scheme, which is okay (and has a great title) but not my favorite of the Alleyn-hunts-spies-in-WWII-New-Zealand duology.

I reread Died in the Wool, which, by process of elimination, is. I had forgotten/not noticed how cool the structure of it is.

I reread Final Curtain, and I love Troy, I love her as a POV character especially, and I love her reunion with Alleyn after their long separation during the war. There is a gay character among the group of suspects—this is indicated via incredibly subtle hints, like one character actually saying "He's one-of-those, of course, but I always think they're good mixers in their own way," which managed to go right over my incredibly sheltered head at twelve or thirteen—which I do not love. Ngiao Marsh's ability to characterize has come on leaps and bounds since the last serious spate of extended homophobia in book four, so that's something. Something fairly repellant.

What I'm reading now

I just started rereading Swing, Brother, Swing.

What I'm reading next

I put a hold on A Tale for the Time Being, because it was the only title on the Booker longlist that looked interesting to me, and it just came in at the library, so we'll see. Also, the next Ngaio Marsh after this one is A Night at the Vulcan and I'm excited about that one, although I've reread it enough times already that I actually remember who the murderer is.

(I never remember the murderer. The solution to the mystery is the first thing I forget about a book. This compensated somewhat for my chronic shortage of reading material as a kid.)
mayhap: hennaed hands, writing (Default)
What I've been reading

I read Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, a collection of short stories, each paired with a critical essay, edited by Justine Larbalestier. I think this is a great way to set up an anthology; it's like after you finish each story, someone is waiting eagerly to discuss it with you, which is awesome. (I got so mad at the essay about Karen Joy Fowler's "What I Didn't See", though. The author has a really bizarre reading where one offhand line is the true theme of the entire story, and also if you even acknowledge that it's possible to read it as 'literary fiction' you are a filthy collaborator and not, like, someone who's capable of seeing ambiguity in a without compulsively resolving it with a sledgehammer.)

I reread Death at the Bar, which is to Alleyn and Fox as The Adventure of the Three Garridebs is to Holmes and Watson. All the Holmes/Watson shippers (or, for that matter, platonic hurt/comfort fans, I guess) know exactly what I'm talking about. Although, unlike Holmes/Watson, no one on the internet seems to actually ship Alleyn/Fox. Including me. I mean, I wouldn't mind shipping it just to annoy Ngaio Marsh's homophobic ghost, but I just can't see my way to it. I'll have to settle for shipping Alleyn with Nigel Bathgate in the early books.

I read The Literature of Hope in the Middle Ages and Today: Connections in Medieval Romance, Modern Fantasy, and Science Fiction, which is a book I turned up doing a subject search at my library for either Science Fiction — Criticism or Fantasy — Criticism. I'm sympathetic to its thesis, which is essentially [thing that I love to read] has many things in common with [other thing that I love to read], but it's not exactly a deep or substantial analysis of the topic. Nice cover, though.

I read Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was, and loved loved loved it. It's deceptively episodic at first, and hilarious, but everything comes together in a big way at the end and ♥

What I'm reading now

I just started rereading Surfeit of Lampreys. I remember the Lampreys being one of my absolute favorite fictional families. I can't believe they retitled it Death of a Peer when it was published in the U.S.; first of all, that is a pretty boring title, even not in comparison with Surfeit of Lampreys, and second of all how could you possibly pass up that surfeit of lampreys joke, I mean really.

What I'm reading next

I have the other two Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, among other things.
mayhap: Javert smiling (happy Javert!)
I decided that the Wednesday reading meme should have a fannish counterpart, so I'm initiating Friday fics. Unlike my Wednesday reading posts, I'm not going to include absolutely everything I've finished with scathing write-ups of stuff I hated or was utterly bemused by, just things I think someone else should conceivably read if they're into that sort of thing.

Also this week I'm going to cheat and include things that I, strictly speaking, read before this week, because I enjoyed them and don't want them to be left out and also because I want this post to be longer and more interesting than it otherwise would be.

gonna make you have awful luck (1108 words) by sungabraverday
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Les Misérables - Victor Hugo, Curse Workers Series - Holly Black
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Fantine (Les Misérables), Cosette Fauchelevent, Mme. Thénardier, Azelma Thénardier, Éponine Thénardier
Additional Tags: Not Happy, Alternate Universe - Curse Workers Fusion
Summary:

Cosette is a curse worker. Fantine is not. She tries to do the best thing for her daughter, but it's not going to turn out well.


Short and, well, not sweet.


The Perils of Walking in the Rue de l'Homme-Armé (3690 words) by raspberryhunter
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Les Misérables - Victor Hugo, Les Misérables - All Media Types
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Montparnasse & Jean Valjean
Characters: Montparnasse (Les Misérables), Jean Valjean
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Fix-It
Summary:

In which Montparnasse finds that the perils of walking in the Rue de l'Homme Arme are twofold: first, that one might begin to think; and second, that one might come across a weak old man.


The most delightful fix-it, worked in the most unexpected of ways, and splendid Hugo pastiche, to boot.


More Than Bliss (15785 words) by tristesses
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Avengers (2012)
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Loki/Natasha Romanov
Characters: Natasha Romanov, Loki (Marvel)
Additional Tags: Dom/sub, Femdom, Masochism, Orgasm Delay/Denial, Chastity Device, Mind Games, Whipping, Subspace, Hurt/Comfort, discussion of suicide, Aftermath of Torture
Series: Part 1 of Ball and Chain
Summary:

The first time she sees Loki again, Natasha nearly puts a bullet in his skull. The second time, he threatens to kill her. By the third time, she has him on his knees and begging for her touch, and what's more, he likes it.


This is the first part of a series and the whole series is amazingly, smolderingly hot. I was really craving kinky Natasha/Loki right after I saw Avengers and there wasn't anything and apparently I just gave up slightly too quickly.
mayhap: hennaed hands, writing (Default)
What I've been reading

I reread Death in a White Tie, wherein Lady Alleyn continues to be the best and Troy barely manages to hold out against Alleyn's charms until the end of the book. I had a vague idea before I looked up the published order that there were more books in between the book where they meet and the book where the proposal is accepted, like there are in the Wimsey books. Actually, in the context of Ngiao Marsh's rather famous essay where she accuses Dorothy L. Sayers of "falling in love with her hero"—which, first, like that's a bad thing, and second, wow, pot, kettle much?—I think it makes sense to see Troy/Alleyn as Marsh's rewriting Harriet/Peter the way she thought it ought to have been done. I don't think the differences are quite as stark as she may have fancied, however.

I read The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction, which I adored. It might actually be my new favorite book by Justine Larbalestier, and I loved Liar a lot. I love how she dissects letters columns and fanzines as part of the same conversation as the stories and novels that she examines. The last two chapters drag a little and probably could have benefited from editing—the chapter on James Tiptree, Jr. is relevant to the larger subject, but less directly so than the ones that come before it and seems to include a lot of interesting but not strictly necessary detail, possibly because Julie Philips's biography hadn't been published yet to refer interested readers to for further information, and similarly the chapter on the history of the Tiptree award does not seem to benefit from the same perspective that allows Larbalestier to hone in on pertinent detail when dealing with older conversations. In spite of that, though, I would recommend it unreservedly (and honestly you can skim or skip those chapters).

I read The Cuckoo's Calling when it was revealed to be the pseudonymous work of J.K. Rowling. It is basically a very adequate mystery, with some definite strengths, and also some tics that remind me a little of Harry Potter, although by no means to the extent that I would have said that it could be written by her and no one else if I had read it blind. I'm thinking about making a separate post about it, because spoilers, especially with regard to the solution.

I reread Overture to Death, which is a very solid average sort of Alleyn mystery.

I read Action Comics, Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel for some reason, even though I completely hated the last Grant Morrison Superman I read. I only somewhat disliked this one, though, so, improvement! I like how, at the beginning, Superman's "costume" consists of his cape, a pair of jeans, and the same Superman t-shirt that nerds have been wearing for ages, but sadly he switches to a normal Superman costume pretty early on. I also liked the side stories about John Henry "Steel" Irons, who was new to me. Also this book is part of the New 52, so feh, anyway.

I read How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea, the Newsflesh novella with the zombie kangaroos. It…was okay? I like Mahir well enough in the series proper, but I liked him less as a POV character, especially as the novella seemed like it could have done with about 30 to 50 fewer pages of him alternately freaking out and falling asleep like a hyperventilating narcoleptic. On the other hand, as promised, there were zombie kangaroos.

What I'm reading now

Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, an anthology that Justine Larbalestier edited. I wish more anthologies paired every short story with a critical essay, because I'm a dork and I like reading critical essays about everything.
mayhap: Johnny Weir's swan costume with text talk to the glove (talk to the glove)
What I've been reading

I reread Death in Ecstasy, which was my least favorite Ngaio Marsh so far. The drugs subplot seriously strained my credulity—I don't consider myself to be an expert on heroin, by any means, but I can't find any evidence that anyone has ever smoked it in cigarettes. The main plot about the cult-y little church where they hand out these mysterious heroin cigarettes is not that much more realistic or engaging either. Also, this is the first book in my reread where Marsh's homophobia puts in an appearance, which is gross, especially since it's not just some throwaway characters but actually Alleyn and Fox (Foxkin nooooooo!) who get together to sneer at the poor harmlessly swishy acolyte boys nursing massive crushes on the tinpot cult leader. I mean, they are both hopeless doofuses but all this disproportionate animus makes me want to like them somehow anyway.

The next Ngaio Marsh I reread, though, was Vintage Murder, which is quite good. It's the first time she develops Alleyn as a character on his own, without the crutches of Nigel Bathgate (who will fade out of the books shortly) or even my beloved Foxkin, except in some adorable letters that Alleyn writes him. She does rely on two subjects that she loves: the theatre (again) and New Zealand (for the first time), including some breathtaking scenery porn. Alleyn makes astounding leaps in his ability to negotiate tricky social situations and control his impulses to be a total IRL troll, or maybe that's just limited to when he's hanging around with Nigel Bathgate, whose pigtails he takes such an inordinate amount of pleasure in pulling.

I reread Artists in Crime, which is an old favorite that I've reread lots of times and I still pretty much love it. I adore Troy, of course, but Lady Alleyn is the best.

I read Ann M. Martin's new book, Better to Wish, the opening part of a four-book family saga. It was good, although it feels like a much longer book was abridged to hit middle-grade length. (Why didn't I think of that? /lazywriter)

I read The Blue Faience Hippopotamus based on a recommendation from [livejournal.com profile] hermionesviolin (and her mom!), and it is, indeed, adorable. ♥

What I'm reading next

Hopefully more books than this week. It was a busy week.
mayhap: medieval tapestry bunnies with text plotbunnies (lagomorpha fabulae) (plotbunnies)
What I've been reading

I reread Dave Barry Slept Here because I found a paperback copy at the thrift store, which, as a bonus, tacks on a few pages at the end that bring it up to 1997, which IIRC made it more up to date than the actual textbook we used for AP American History in 2000-2001. Even though I have it semi-memorized, it never fails to make me LOL.

I read Queen Victoria's Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, which was a pretty mixed bag. Some highlights, both good and bad, cut because even a sentence or two about selected stories is taking over the entry )

I read Invisible Romans: Prostitutes, Outlaws, Slaves, Gladiators, Ordinary Men and Women … the Romans That History Forgot. It's an enjoyable and readable book, although forced into a somewhat contorted shape by the author's choice to leave all texts produced by the Roman elites strictly alone, which leaves him with a very constrained selection of 'inscriptions and papyri, and [...] admittedly problematic insights from fiction, fable, Christian sources, fortune-telling and magic', not to mention the chapter where he just straight-up talks about 17th century pirates because there are good sources and he thinks they were pretty similar to Roman pirates as far as we know and come on, pirates, who doesn't want to read about pirates? I have to admit, I did enjoy the pirates.

I finished my reread of The Hobbit that I started, um, last December and accidentally put aside because something about this book is like Teflon and my eyes keep sliding off it. I had technically read it once, after I finished my very first LOTR read, but hadn't retained very much of it. It's just so episodic and wonkily plotted and weirdly narrated and possibly if I had read it when I was young enough I might have loved it, but if so that window of opportunity had closed when I did, so. Sorry, Hobbit-the-book lovers!

I read All-Star Superman, because it is one of the answers commonly given to the question 'What Superman comics are actually good?' I, uh, disagree. Vigorously. Also, I completely hate the art; the scribbly little lines in all the wrong places remind me of nothing so much as Rob Liefeld (although admittedly with a much firmer grasp of how objects occupy space and no footphobia or pouchphilia) and the digital coloring costs big money to print but looks cheap and unreal with the stupid plastic-y gradients everywhere. Everyone's clothes look like they are sewn from thick rubber sheets that flop and bulge everywhere and it's distractingly bad.

What I'm reading next

Going to reread As You Like It before Shakespeare in the Park this Saturday with [personal profile] wisdomeagle et al.! Also I have a biography of Marcus Aurelius for more research around the Gladiator AU dysfunctional bisexual incestuous threesome plotbunny that will not leave me alone, and I'm strongly tempted to go on and do yet another LOTR reread and maybe even pick up my old book-based Gandalf/Pippin story.
mayhap: hennaed hands, writing (Default)
What I've been reading

I read Point of Dreams, the sequel to Point of Hopes, which has everything I loved about that book, plus the mystery is set in a theatre, something which might as well have been taken from a checklist of things I love. I am still bemused by how un-shippy Nico/Philip is in the actual text—not only do they get together off-page, but even when their relationship is occasionally made the focus in this book, it's about 90% how-are-we-perceived-as-a-couple/how-am-I-perceived-in-pursuing-this-relationship to maybe 10% shippy feels. Which is explored in an interesting way, but I can see that I'm going to have to turn to fanfic if I want any shippy feels. That's okay, because fanfic is good at shippy feels and less good at murder mysteries or ridiculously intricate worldbuilding.

I read Invisibility, David Levithan's new book co-written with Andrea Cremer, an author I wasn't familiar with, and it was thoroughly mediocre. In Every Day, a book I liked but wasn't thrilled by, the mechanism of the central speculative conceit is never explained or understood at all and the characters just grapple with how it affects them. The first hundred pages or so of Invisibility are like that, but then they do introduce the magical system of the world and it's just incredibly generic and blah. The central het romance is also really boring—I mean, sure, you would probably fall instantly head over heels with the first person of the appropriate sex whom you were able to interact with in any shape or form, but that doesn't make it interesting to read about (or explicable from her perspective). If anything about the blurb for this book sounds remotely interesting to you, read Holly Black's Curse Workers series instead for a similar premise that is approximately ten thousand times better executed.

I read Casanova: Gula, and I continue to dig it.

I read Neil Gaiman's new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and for all some of the blurbs and early reviews were a bit hyperbolic and I didn't in fact think it was the best book in the known universe I really, really liked it. It has a lot in common with Among Others, another semi-autobiographical-novel-with-magic. It's good about what it's like to be seven, but also what it's like to remember what it was like to be seven.

I read Captive Prince: Volume One, the first part of that online original slavefic turned traditionally published original slavefic that a lot of people are raving about it and I was…less than impressed, let us say. Far be it from me to set myself up as some kind of authority on where Your kink is not my kink shades over into Your kink has unfortunate implications that you do not necessarily seem to be aware of, but I was really off put by the seemingly endless descriptions of how much contempt our titular captive prince has for the effete, made-up "pets" who comprise his fellow slaves in a hostile nation, who are somehow completely different from the slaves they had back home, because he says so, that's why. There is nowhere near as much tropey goodness as I was expecting, nor is the political intriguing plot solid enough to stand as a different kind of novel that just happens to feature slave tropes.

What I'm reading next

God, I don't know, I might read volume two of Captive Prince to see if it gets a lot better or if all the rabid fans are just on crack. And hopefully also some books that I legitimately enjoy. All this kink I'm not into reminds me that I need to reread Kushiel's Avatar for that Phèdre/Hyacinthe story I owe Bevy…
mayhap: wee Matilda reads a book (Matilda)
What I've been reading

As predicted last week, I read Abaddon's Gate, the concluding volume of the Expanse trilogy. These books scratch a Firefly-type itch—you have your space-faring future complete with all kinds of fancy medicine and weaponry, but scarcity is a thing and real food is a luxury and further out from the center you have a lot of people just scraping by. There's a scrappy found-family crew with a nifty ship who all love their captain, a creepy as fuck menace that can't be reasoned with, and even an incongruous retro genre fusion (hardboiled detective fiction, in this case), although that's more of a thing in the first book, Caliban's War. This book has decent series resolution, and, as an added bonus, one of the new POV characters is a lesbian Methodist pastor in space, which immediately made me think of [personal profile] hermionesviolin. :D

I read the first volume of Matt Fraction's creator-owned comic, Casanova: Luxuria, with fabulous art by Gabriel Bá. 'Trippy' and 'dense' are words that keep recurring in reviews, with good reason: each 16-page issue almost needs pages and pages of semi-confessional author's notes that follow so you can sort out what's happened so far, especially if you're me and comics is a second language for you. I'm digging it thus far.

I read Point of Hopes, which has some of the most delightful world-building ever, including all the lovely queer stuff, although if I did not know as a matter of fact courtesy of fandom that the two guys in this book canonically get together I would be pleased but incredulous at the prospect. My library did not have this book—I found my copy at a used bookstore—but they do have the next one so I can read it right away, yay!

I reread Switch Bitch, which is to say that I'd read all of Roald Dahl's stories for adults before, but it wasn't until I picked up a copy of this specific collection that I realized that all four stories collected in it, all of which were published in Playboy, are among my least favorites. The Uncle Oswald one is okay, even if it spends pages and pages setting up its premise for a series silly seduction adventures and then ultimately delivers something that is … not that, 'The Great Switcheroo' is decent yarn with an okay twist at the end, and the other two are deeply, deeply skippable, especially 'The Last Act', because seriously what the fuck even is that. Ugh.

I read The Moon and More, Sarah Dessen's new book. I really admire her ability to create friends and family for her main characters whose relationships feel lived-in and who number above the bare minimum.

What I'm reading next

Point of Dreams! ♥
mayhap: hennaed hands, writing (Default)
What I've been reading

I read the fifth and sixth Accursed Kings books, The She-Wolf of France and The Lily and the Lion, both of which were great. The Lily and the Lion actually pretty much wraps everything up for the important characters who are still alive in an epilogue, so I can see why the English language publishers figured that they could amputate the seventh book, but I am reading it in French anyway. (Incidentally, Team Alexandriz produces extremely high-quality pirated French ebooks. In case this is relevant to anyone else's interests.)

I read Guys & Dolls, the only collection of Damon Runyon's short stories that my library has, which inspired me to leave the following GoodReads review in pastiche, as I absolutely cannot get enough of the way that man turned a sentence: Damon Runyon is nothing less than our American P. G. Wodehouse, and if there is any higher compliment I can be paying him it is not coming to me at this precise moment, but if it is striking me sometime in the future I will not hesitate to edit it in, as I am not wishing to understate the matter.

I read two Caroline Cooney books that my library has in its ebook collection, Freeze Tag and Fatality. These are basically some of my favorite YA popcorn books. She characterizes very crisply.

I read (George), an E.L. Konigsburg book that just didn't work for me at all, and it does not seem that I am totally alone in this as I had to request it from outside my library system. The weirdest thing about this book (which is really quite weird, so there is plenty of competition) is how many other people are reading it completely wrong, to judge by the number of reviews and shelvings of it as a piece of realistic fiction about mental illness, a reading that I don't think is supported by the text and is anti-confirmed by authorial statements of intent, which I happened to have access to since...

... I also read TalkTalk (the printed version) a collection of Konigsburg's speeches throughout the course of her career, or at least until 1995, when it was published. I understand that there is a video version under the same name, but I can only find it on VHS so I can't watch it. A fair bit of interesting stuff about her writing and career.

I read Celebrating Children's Books: Essays on Children's Literature in Honor of Zena Sutherland for E. L. Konigsburg's contribution, "Ruthie Britten and Because I Can", those being her answers to the question "Why do you write children's books?", and I enjoyed it very much.

What I have put down in disgust rather than read

I thought The Marble in the Water was going to have another piece by Konigsburg because it was catalogued that way in WorldCat. It turned out just to have a really misleadingly-formatted table of contents where it looked like a selection of chapters by different authors but those authors were actually the subjects of criticism by the sole author, a David Rees. As his critical style consists of making unsupported Word of God pronouncements about everything and as I was not in sympathy with a single one of his judgments I put this book back down again very quickly.

What I'm reading next

I actually know this one this week! The third book in The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey, who is actually Daniel Abraham and George R. R. Martin's assistant, Ty Franck, writing under a collective name, just came out and I'm definitely going to be reading that.
mayhap: Liv Tyler with a book pressed to her face (Liv Tyler)
What I've been reading

I read Tolkien's unfinished alliterative Arthur poem, The Fall of Arthur, which is good and quite good in bits, although man, Tolkien does not have much sympathy for poor Guinever. Lancelot gets some of my favorite parts, though:
There Lancelot     over leagues of sea
in heaving welter     from a high window
looked and wondered     alone musing.
Dark slowly fell.     Deep his anguish
He his lord betrayed     to love yielding,
and love forsaking     lord regained not;
faith was refused him     who had faith broken,
by leagues of sea     from love sundered.


Christopher Tolkien's notes are exhaustive and dull. Tolkien's own words on Anglo-Saxon poetry, adapted from a 1938 BBC broadcast, are briefer but livelier.

I read the two books in Diana Wynne Jones's Magids duology, Deep Secret and The Merlin Conspiracy. (Actually, I started reading The Merlin Conspiracy first, and then realized it had to be a sequel to something and ordered Deep Secret from the library.) They sit pretty oddly next to each other, since I would say Deep Secret is pretty clearly adult fiction and The Merlin Conspiracy is just as clearly juvenile fiction (as indeed they are placed in my library system). I totally adored Deep Secret, which is very clever and funny and typically Diana Wynne Jones, in spite of the fact that I pretty much anti-ship shippy spoilers under this cut )

Quite a lot of people seem to dislike The Merlin Conspiracy, whereas allowing for audience/genre shift I liked it, especially since Nick is my absolute favorite character from Deep Secret and I like what it does with him as a POV character very much. It feels much more like a Chrestomanci book. I can actually get behind more shippy spoilers )

I read the The Art Forger, a book I picked up off the new books shelf at the library, because who doesn't like art forgers? It is a fun, twisty story based around the Isabella Gardner Museum heist.

I read the second, third and fourth books in Maurice Druon's Accursed Kings series, the ones that George R. R. Martin is promoting in their new printings as "the original Game of Thrones", and deservedly so as there are marked similarities to his own work — a plot revolving around a royal succession clusterfuck, a broad scope of action and a range of variously likable POV characters and even magic (well, magic that the characters believe in, anyway). Of course, spoilers are a lot easier to come by, since you can just google the French kings of the 14th century, but you read for the page-turniness and the actual historical facts are a bonus.

Although I got the first book, The Iron King, from the library in the new printing, I just have really badly OCR'd copies of the next five, and the seventh hasn't been published in English yet at all, so I'm planning to take a run at in French and maybe really improve my vocabulary regarding pieces of armor and other late medieval type things.

What I'm reading now

The fifth Accursed Kings book, The She-Wolf of France. (It sounds better in the original where wolf is more naturally genderable: La Louve de France.)

What I'm reading next

As above, the sixth and hopefully also the seventh book.
mayhap: wee Matilda reads a book (Matilda)
What I've been reading

I read the latest two Roma Sub Rosa books and also the second collection of short stories. I'm still not sure what the materialistic explanation for some of the supernatural-seeming goings-on in The Judgment of Caesar is actually supposed to be, but I totally ship Cleopatra/Caesar/Ptolemy now. Bisexual incestuous threesomes are my preferred method of conflict resolution.

Then I was in a very Latinate mood and I flicked through X-Treme Latin, one of Henry Beard's collections of ridiculous things translated into Latin. I'm a sucker for any old dumb joke if it's translated into Latin. Also, 'SpongoRobertum QuadratoBracatum'.

I reread T-Backs, T-Shirts, COAT and Suit, which is still the only place I have ever heard or seen thongs referred to as "t-backs". Kind of middling Konigsburg, but I do like Chloë and her dieresis as a narrator. And at least all the items in the unwieldy list title are of equally great significance to the plot, unlike some other titles I could mention. Well, t-shirts are iffy compared with the others, but I'll let them slide.

I read/reread Neil Gaiman's Make Good Art Speech with the bonus fancy typography for gift-giving and such. It is very attractive as a physical object and it is a nice speech.

I read Holly Black's new middle-grade book, Doll Bones, which is nicely creepy but I felt like the kid characters were a little too self-aware or too articulate about being right on the cusp of being Too Old to Play With Dolls. It's a fine line to walk and I tend to prefer not saying anything outright that you can imply vaguely instead.

I read Why Read the Classics?, which collects the titular essay and 35 introductions/essays/bits of literary miscellany by Calvino, who is of course always interesting about anything, including the books I haven't read yet or never plan to.

I really enjoyed Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature by Emma Donoghue, an entertaining survey of implicit or explicit lesbians in literature, grouped into six categories or tropes: the Travesties (that is, cross dressers, in both directions), the Inseparables, the Rivals, Monsters, Detection and Out. I particularly liked that she included a lot of medieval and Renaissance materials, since that's one of my things.

The Shadow of the Sun is A.S. Byatt's first novel and the last one I hadn't read. My copy has a nice new introduction by the author, who is always good at writing about people who write and writing about her own writing. As for the book itself, well…it's like a dry run at the Frederica Quartet, only all the characters are seriously 100x more annoying. (I loved the Frederica Quartet, but let me tell you, it was certainly not because of how completely non-annoying the protagonists were.) Byatt is so worried about making her girl-who-goes-to-Cambridge character a Mary Sue that she goes overboard in the opposite direction, making her a dull and incurious slab. Meanwhile, the older academic who grooms her, seduces her, dominates her (although not, mysteriously, employing any of the breathlessly-alluded-to-but-never-elaborated-upon sadistic practices with which he makes his wife's life a misery during his affair with her), impregnates her and finally entraps her is so goddamn creepy that I could throw up. On the other hand, it is Byatt, so it is all beautifully written with lots of nicely observed little moments.

I also read On Histories and Stories, which collects some of Byatt's essays about writing, including her own.

What I'm reading now

I have this book, Antigones, which looks great, except the beginning is all about Hegel and I hate Hegel so it's kind of a slog.

What I'm reading next

If I knew, I'd probably be reading it now instead of posting here. I think I may just amputate this part of the meme in the future unless I have something specific in mind.
mayhap: Liv Tyler with a book pressed to her face (Liv Tyler)
What I've been reading:

I've been reading Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa books and really enjoying them. I just finished #9, A Mist of Prophecies, and I've been really enjoying how the last few books have been shaking up the usual mystery formulas, not to mention the rise of Caesar. The only reason I'm not reading the next book in the series right now is that I'm waiting for one of my library's virtual "copies" to be "returned".

I reread Father's Arcane Daughter as part of my kick to reread all of E. L. Konigsburg's books after she died last month. I don't own a copy and had only read it once before, and I believe the last time I read it, I didn't anticipate the unexpected reveal and it left me cold. On reread, I was not paying enough attention and it is adequately set up and also a really good book.

I read China Court because I really loved In This House of Brede (the made-for-TV adaptation with Diana Rigg is merely okay, but it does have Diana Rigg in it, so) and also because Jo Walton namechecked it when she was talking about what she did with her book Lifelode, which I loved loved loved. This book is sort of like what L. M. Montgomery might have written if she was doing something really experimental with narrative structure.

I read The Tyrant's Law, the new book in Daniel Abraham's The Dagger and the Coin series, and it was as compulsively readable as the last two, although as the middle book in a five-book sequence (and not the third book in a trilogy as I had oh-so-mistakenly gotten into my head) it kind of has that middle-book feeling that the second book in a trilogy gets. I would totally recommend these books to fans of A Song of Ice and Fire, and also to people who feel like they would enjoy ASoIaF more if it involved less rapiness and more banking.

What I'm reading now:

I just started The Silver Pigs, the first book in another series of ancient Roman mysteries, which is also a hard-boiled detective pastiche. I have not yet decided how well this combination is working. (To be fair, it is the first book and it may come to work better.)

What I'm reading next:

Well, the rest of the Gordianus the Finder books, when I can get them. Also I have a collection of Damon Runyon stories from the library that I've been wanting to reread since I watched Cinderella Man (which frankly could have used a little more Runyon in the script department).

Also I want someone to read Dan Brown's Inferno for me and summarize how terrible it is wittily.
mayhap: Tezuka wearing Inui's collar (collar)
I succumbed to peer pressure and (*cough*) other temptations and signed up for a kink bingo card. This should be fun. :D
mayhap: Tezuka wearing Inui's collar (collar)
I succumbed to peer pressure and (*cough*) other temptations and signed up for a kink bingo card. This should be fun. :D
mayhap: illustration of young girl consulting tattered map (Dave McKean)
Ganked from [livejournal.com profile] aesc, it's the post your favorite bit of poetry meme! Except that I am notoriously incapable of having a single favorite of anything, so this is just the poem that's been running through my head today.

Dream-Pedlary

Thomas Lovell Beddoes

If there were dreams to sell,
What would you buy?
Some cost a passing bell;
Some a light sigh,
That shakes from Life's fresh crown
Only a rose-leaf down.
If there were dreams to sell,
Merry and sad to tell,
And the crier rang the bell,
What would you buy? )
mayhap: illustration of young girl consulting tattered map (Dave McKean)
Ganked from [livejournal.com profile] aesc, it's the post your favorite bit of poetry meme! Except that I am notoriously incapable of having a single favorite of anything, so this is just the poem that's been running through my head today.

Dream-Pedlary

Thomas Lovell Beddoes

If there were dreams to sell,
What would you buy?
Some cost a passing bell;
Some a light sigh,
That shakes from Life's fresh crown
Only a rose-leaf down.
If there were dreams to sell,
Merry and sad to tell,
And the crier rang the bell,
What would you buy? )
mayhap: Kristy and Mary Anne, pillow fight! (Kristy/Mary Anne)
The italics that were in the original have been misplaced, because I suck. Sorry. :(

Mary Anne and the Original Problem Children, written for [livejournal.com profile] wisdomeagle, who is just that awesome
Baby-Sitters Club/Bible crossover. G. 4,112 words.
Janine's extra-credit time machine lands Mary Anne with a pair of interesting sitting charges: Cain and Abel. Yes. Seriously.

You can tell it's a good summary when it has the words "Yes. Seriously." in it. (So, yes, I continue to fail at summaries on a regular basis.)

From when Ari suggested the idea to when I posted it, a mere sixteen hours elapsed, which is how I can tell that this is the best plotbunny ever.


Read the rest )
mayhap: Kristy and Mary Anne, pillow fight! (Kristy/Mary Anne)
The italics that were in the original have been misplaced, because I suck. Sorry. :(

Mary Anne and the Original Problem Children, written for [livejournal.com profile] wisdomeagle, who is just that awesome
Baby-Sitters Club/Bible crossover. G. 4,112 words.
Janine's extra-credit time machine lands Mary Anne with a pair of interesting sitting charges: Cain and Abel. Yes. Seriously.

You can tell it's a good summary when it has the words "Yes. Seriously." in it. (So, yes, I continue to fail at summaries on a regular basis.)

From when Ari suggested the idea to when I posted it, a mere sixteen hours elapsed, which is how I can tell that this is the best plotbunny ever.


Read the rest )

Woe!

Aug. 20th, 2006 03:37 pm
mayhap: sketchy Draco in green with text Slytherin (Slytherin)
My Sam has left me! His lame excuse was that he needs to attend "classes" so he does not "flunk out of school" and "become a hobo living in a cardboard box". Which, okay, but if it were a cardboard box with internet access, that wouldn't be so bad, right?

Now who will keep me up until five in the morning (or later!) playing the Sims? Who will play tennis with me and hit balls into the net while coming up with dorky catchphrases? Who will talk to me for hours about how Kaidoh is hot?

Well, okay, we can do that one over IM. But it's not the same.

My dad and I revived the daddy-daughter film experience and saw Snakes on a Plane yesterday. He has no idea to whom all his base are belong, is unaware of how his hed is attached, and generally would not know a viral internet meme if it bit him, but he instantly grasped the appeal of Snakes on a Plane, namely: there are snakes, and they are on a plane. Seriously, if you are sick of the whole Snakes on a Plane phenomenon, listening to your father repeating the phrase with a sort of awe will make it amusing all over again.

There were only like, six of us in the audience, but hey, we had fun.

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