mayhap: hennaed hands, writing (Default)
Some years ago I found a copy of The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery, Volume III in a used bookstore, and I've never read it because, among other reasons, I'm constitutionally incapable of starting anything with Volume III. Some time during Femslash February I got frustrated that there wasn't more Anne/Diana fic, especially higher-rated fic (and seriously, why isn't there more Anne/Diana fic?), which extremely indirectly led me to finally put in an interlibrary loan for Volume I, 1889-1910, which I then in due time received. It makes for really fascinating reading. LMM burned all her previous journaling attempts at fourteen and started fresh, so it doesn't quite take her from Anne's age to author of Anne of Green Gables and its first sequel, but it's close. Young Maud (without an 'E') reminds me of her various young heroines in flashes while seeming to me like her own very different person.

The low-hanging fruit of biographical criticism is that LMM, raised primarily by her own aloof grandmother, returned again and again to stories about young girls who melt older women's hearts, so it surprised me that contemporaneously, at least from fourteen onwards, Maud barely mentioned her grandmother in her journal at all. Generally she alluded to her grandparents collectively, or if either was singled out for particular mention, it was her grandfather, pretty much always in the context of how they hampered her social life. Her focus as teenager was very much on writing about her relationships with her peers, male and female. It was only later, starting in her mid twenties, that she began to write about her childhood in retrospect. After her grandfather died, Maud was forced to live with her grandmother in order that she could stay in her own home, which probably had not a little to do with how the role of the older woman became so prominent in her work. The way she describes it, she found these things much more painful to remember than she thought that they had been to her at the time, which I think does comport with the way she presented herself in those earlier journal entries.

I hadn't read anything about either her long unhappy engagement to a man whom she realized, more or less the instant that she accepted his proposal, that she couldn't stand to be intimate with, nor her torrid love affair with a man that she didn't respect and had already decided that she would never marry but whom she could barely keep her hands off of. By her account, they got pretty hot and heavy, having ample alone time in the house where they were both boarding, and on one occasion only narrowly avoided having sex when she, though strongly tempted, refused. It seems like this was her only real experience with physical attraction, at least thus far, and it pretty much just made her miserable. By the end of this volume, she is engaged to the man she would marry, Ewan Macdonald, and knowing what I've read in passing in other sources about their marriage, it was like a horror movie as she talked herself into the engagement.

I was also surprised how little she wrote about her writing in her journal. Notably, she sprung Anne of Green Gables upon it as a fait accompli, which is rather amusing. She does then mention working on the sequel in subsequent entries, more like what I would expect.

I only realized after I'd finished reading the selected journals that this book was coming out in a month: Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery. It's a YA novel that looks to begin when she's fourteen, where it can draw on the journals, and climax with her sadly necessary decision to move back to Cavendish with her grandparents because her father's new wife is awful. I've placed a hold on it as well to see if it's any good.

Sidenote, mostly relevant to my own interests: teenaged Maud was apparently an avid and skilled baseball player. ♥ She says they played a modified game of ball at recess, and described another game, at a celebration of the Queen's Birthday: "After dinner Mr. Stovel made some bats and we all went over to the lake and had a game of baseball. It was glorious. Mr. S and I were on the same side and we just made things hum. We won the game, too."
mayhap: hennaed hands, writing (Default)
I haven't actually read any of these yet, but I thought I'd link them for [ profile] coercedbynutmeg and anyone else who might be interested in Rose Wilder Lane's writing outside the Little House books.

I am so close to getting my hands on a copy of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography! Only sixteen people ahead of me!

These books are all available to download or read online at any time:

The Making of Herbert Hoover (1919) is the solution to the mystery of why Rose Wilder Lane's papers are held in the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.

Charlie Chaplin's Own Story: Being a Faithful Recital of a Romantic Career, Beginning with Early Recollections of Boyhood in London and Closing with the Signing of His Latest Motion-Picture Contract (1916) is another, earlier biography, with an amazingly entertaining subtitle.

Henry Ford's Own Story: How a Farmer Boy Rose to the Power that Goes with Many Millions, Yet Never Lost Touch With Humanity (1917), likewise.

Diverging Roads (1919) is the only novel in the selection of public domain titles. It seems to be about a girl trying to make her fortune in telegraph operation.

These books are not exactly free, but you can check out ebooks from Open Library, or at least add your name to the waiting list, which is still pretty great:

Young Pioneers (originally titled Let the Hurricane Roar, 1932) is a novelized version of some of the same material that would later become On the Banks of Plum Creek. Under the original title the names of the characters were actually Charles and Caroline, but they were later changed to David and Molly; I'm not sure if any other changes were made at that time.

Free Land (1938) followed on the success of Let the Hurricane Roar but seems to be a less optimistic take on the same material.

Old Home Town (1935) is a collection of short stories originally published in the Saturday Evening Post which seem, from the introduction, to be aiming towards a sort of portrait of small-town life. Actual story titles: Old Maid, Hired Girl, Immoral Woman, Long Skirts, Traveling Man, Thankless Child, Nice Old Lady. I am not making these up.
mayhap: Orlando Bloom clutching a hardcover Lord of the Rings (canon)
I found a hardcover copy of To Say Nothing of the Dog at the thrift store today. Not only is the dustjacket in tolerable condition, I found a folded To Say Nothing of the Dog poster from the Science Fiction Book Club tucked in the back.

Why did they print a To Say Nothing of the Dog poster in the first place? I don't know, but now I have one.
mayhap: Russell Crowe throws up his hands goofily (*flails*)
Broken Age Act 2 finally has a release date, and it's only a month from now!

An Apprentice to Elves, the third book in Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette's psychic wolf idfest Iskryne series, also has a release date, and it's in October! That's not quite as good as April, but still pretty good!
mayhap: Liv Tyler with a book pressed to her face (Liv Tyler)
The 2015 Youth Media Award winners were announced this morning. Brown Girl Dreaming cleaned up with a Newbery Honor, a Coretta Scott King Award, and a Silbert Informational Book Honor, and Rain Reign got a Schneider Family Book Award (disability experience).

I haven't read any of the other winners or honorees. I placed a lot of holds at the library.
mayhap: Virgil and Dante looking aghast with text wth (what the hell) (what the hell?)
Even though I own a copy of The Documents in the Case—I bought it new at Barnes and Noble with my own money in high school, even—I'm virtually certain I had only read it once before, and literally the only thing that I remembered about it before I picked it up again was "something to do with mushrooms." (The cover illustration on the HarperCollins mass-market paperback is hilarious, with the pan full of mushrooms, one of which looks like a skull. Subtle!)

That meant that it was essentially a brand-new Dorothy L. Sayers book, a thing that would be priceless if I didn't strongly suspect that I hadn't much liked it the first time or I would have reread it before. Still, the prospect was intriguing enough for me to tackle it again.

Spoilers for The Documents in the Case )

Maybe in another seventeen years I will have forgotten this book again and I'll reread it and get annoyed a third time.
mayhap: (gathering data)
This was fun last year, so I have once again used my data from Goodreads to construct some charts!

5 stars 76, 4 stars 101, 3 stars 65, 2 stars 18, 1 star 1

First, the star ratings that I gave books. Four stars is by far the most common, because I do at least try to read books that I'm going to like a lot. I was also pretty free with five stars and three stars, chary of two stars, and only read a single book that I gave only one star. I enjoy leaving scathing reviews but do prefer to mostly not waste my time reading books that deserve them. I pretty much just hate-skimmed that one because I wanted to be informed when I hated on it.

ebook 141, my book 54, library book 93, interlibrary loan 14

A little under half the books I read last year were ebooks, the rest being either mine, the library's, or interlibrary loan requests.

fiction 245, nonfiction 62

Over three-quarters were fiction.

children's and YA 107, adult 138

I read almost exactly the same number of adult fiction books as last year, but twenty-seven more children's and YA books. Interestingly, that increase is almost entirely accounted for by the twenty-two Baby-sitters Club books that I reread as part of my canon review for Yuletide, which I suppressed from my usual Wednesday reading posts to maintain secrecy.

new 227, reread 80

That wasn't the only rereading I indulged in last year. I also finished rereading the Alleyn mysteries and reread all of Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia, in addition to miscellaneous other books. I feel guilty about rereading books sometimes because there are so many books I haven't read and want to, many of which are in piles around me at this very moment. On the other hand, books I've already read are easy to pick up because they're a known quantity, and there's pretty much always something that I didn't notice or appreciate before the latest reread.

War and Peace 1,273, other books 77,774

Finally, according to Goodreads, War and Peace made up 1.6% of the pages that I read last year.
mayhap: wee Matilda reads a book (Matilda)
It's ALA Youth Media Awards announcement day! I celebrated as I traditionally do, by rushing to put holds on a bunch of winning and honor books before everyone else does the same thing. This year I'm no deeper than five on the waitlist for anything, which is not bad. I look forward to receiving and perusing these items.

I'm kind of underwhelmed by the prospect of another Newbery win for Kate DiCamillo, but Flora & Ulysses looks like it might be kind of cute, so maybe I will be pleasantly surprised. I'm utterly baffled by the presence of Navigating Early, the sophomore effort of Newbery winner Clare Vanderpool, on the Prinz honor list, because a.) I hated, hated, HATED this book, and b.) there is nothing YA about it. It is a very young book. That I hated. A lot.

Other award and honor books that I'd already read include Doll Bones (Newbury Honor, liked it a lot), Eleanor & Park (Prinz Honor, liked it), Rose Under Fire (Schnieder Family Award (teen category), loved it), and Two Boys Kissing (Stonewall Honor, disappointed by it). Incidentally, I really appreciate the existence of the Stonewall Book Award for GLBT books, even though I feel like sometimes their selections are a little mediocre and disappointing, but their logo is terrible. It looks like someone made it in Microsoft Word in five minutes. The actual seal version is a little bit better, but not much, like, Photoshop and ten minutes. This needs work. Literally all the other awards look more appealing.

The most exciting news I received from the YMAs, however, is that there is a new audiobook of Matilda read by Kate Winslet, which received an Odyssey Honor and which I can't wait to listen to. ♥
mayhap: (gathering data)
I used the data from my year in books on Goodreads to construct some charts!

my book 46, ebook 96, library book 88, interlibrary loan 13

I read more paper books than ebooks and twice as many books from libraries (my own and others) as books that I actually own (and thus can put off reading indefinitely).

nonfiction 50, fiction 212

I read way more fiction than nonfiction.

academic 15, popular 26

A little over a third of those works of nonfiction were academic, with the remainder being written for a popular audience.

children's and YA 80, adult 212

Returning to fiction, a little over a third of the fiction I read was children's or YA, while the rest was published for adults (I didn't use a shelf to track how much of that fiction was "adult").

fantasy 44, science 18, superheroes 16, miscellaneous 24

I have a shelf for "speculative fiction", which is the umbrella term I like for science fiction, fantasy, and things that don't slot precisely into either of those genres. When I started reading superhero comics I made a shelf specifically for them, since Marvel and DC comics combine the two pretty freely. Fantasy dominates the speculative fiction shelf, unsurprisingly; miscellaneous/not categorized further comes in second, which makes sense, because I like weird things.

Les Misérables 1.89%, other 98.11%

Finally, Goodreads says that I read 77,462 pages last year, and that the longest book I read is Les Misérables at 1,463 pages, making Les Mis a little less than two percent of what I read during the year.
mayhap: Pippin clutched in Gandalf's arm with text meddling in the affairs of wizards (meddling in the affairs of wizards)
As Yuletide season is already upon us, and NaNoWriMo is swiftly approaching, many of you may be casting about for suitable distractions to procrastinate with. (Hey, it's a very important part of my creative process!)

In that vein, I proffer Card Hunter, a cute and polished free flash game that is a sort of hybrid Dungeons & Dragons/Magic: the Gathering mashup. I am also mayhap there and I gather that there is presently a competitive multiplayer and some kind of prospect for a cooperative multiplayer mode, although I've just been playing campaign mode.

Conversely, if what you instead lack is NaNoWriMo motivation (and I'm looking at you here, [ profile] coercedbynutmeg), here is a copy of No Plot? No Problem! in original .epub and converted .mobi formats.
mayhap: magnetic letters reading put Smarties tubes on cats legs make them walk like a robot (put Smarties tubes on cats legs)
Nine episodes from series I of QI are available for legal streaming in the U.S. on Hulu! I mean, this is clearly still less than ideal, but it's a huge improvement over the prior state of affairs where no episodes of QI were available legally in the U.S. in any format.

Also, I just caught that A Tale for the Time Being made the Booker shortlist, which pleases me greatly as it is by far the best novel I have read thus far this year. ♥
mayhap: bedraggled ink-stained woman with text Doctor/Master shipper (Doctor/Master)
Don't you love it when you come across a piece of jargon or term of art that expresses something you had wanted to say with grace and concision?¹

I was reading Amy Richlin's chapter on reading Ovid's rapes in the collection of essays that she edited on Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome, where she alludes to "the model of fantasy derived from psychoanalytic theory, in which the subject oscillates among the terms of the fantasy" and instantly I thought yes, that, precisely!

I put in yet another interlibrary loan request for the work cited in case I found anything else interesting in there, but just that single phrase is perfect to me.

¹And, relatedly, can you suggest a more elegant way to put that? *g*
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 [ 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.


Jun. 24th, 2013 08:14 pm
mayhap: flying raven with text argent, raven volant (raven volant)
Feel Films, the production company that's adapting Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell for television, have just optioned Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series! I'm so excited, and I think my British murder mystery-watching parents will probably enjoy watching this one with me. We're still mourning the end of Lewis and outraged that Ben Miller is leaving Death in Paradise, which is unacceptable and might as well be a different show going forward.

Plus the fourth Peter Grant book, Broken Homes, is due out next month! Double squee!
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: Orlando Bloom clutching a hardcover Lord of the Rings (canon)
I reread/finished Les Misérables mostly for the purpose of being able to say, authoritatively and with actual citations, that where the musical differs from the book I like the musical better, particularly where all things Javert are concerned.

I mean, I also genuinely enjoyed reading it on its own merits, with significant overlap between my very favorite parts and things that are patently unsuitable for adaptation to musical theater, such as the forty-page parenthesis concerning the history and practices of a convent in Paris and the effects generally of enclosure and the contempletive life on practitioners and society. (Actually, I would drop everything and fly to see a show that turned this into a big musical number, but I don't think my presence would make up for the other theatregoers demanding their money back in droves.)

But yes, the dynamic between Javert and Jean Valjean in the book is completely unsuitable for my purposes, which are all porny ones. Book!Javert does not have nearly enough angst, or indeed feelings of any kind, although I am strangely touched by his concern, evidently either repressed or unrealized until he is on the point of offing himself, that prisoners are being docked 10 sous when they drop a thread and this is unfair as it does not affect the quality of the finished cloth. JAVERT YOU DORK, ILU BUT YOU ARE HOPELESS. ♥

I still ship him with book!Valjean, but it's more because Javert is the only one who appreciates him at all because Cosette and Marius are such ungrateful, oblivious meanyheads. Especially Marius, the unbelievable twit. Valjean sort of enters into a bizarre, unsafe, unsexy D/s relationship with him at the end and I am so not into it.
mayhap: hennaed hands, writing (Default)
Somebody at Baen Books has had the clever brainwave that, instead of printing up Advanced Reading Copies, sending them out for free, and then watching as they inevitably oozed onto the open market where die-hard fans bid them up to top dollar which neither the author nor the publisher would share in, they could just make the ARC available to anyone who wants to read it in advance for fifteen bucks. Which is what they have done, here. (It is technically not completely proofed, but LMB and her betas do very professional work. It is completely worth your $15.)


Talk Vorkosigans with me, people!


Apr. 30th, 2012 01:32 pm
mayhap: hennaed hands, writing (Mai Yamani)
I just finished reading the Queen's Thief books while primed by [personal profile] ellen_fremedon's post on the subject, so I couldn't help noticing that Sounis's reemergence in A Conspiracy of Kings forms a perfect natural sedoretu. I ship all four marriages kind of a lot, but the het couples are obviously too cute to break up.

(Incidentally, can I just praise the craft that goes into writing four books in a series that each end with the exact same plot twist? It's like M. Night Shyamalan directed four movies that each end with the revelation that Bruce Willis is, in fact, dead. [That probably would have been a better reveal at the end of The Happening.] That takes serious writing chops.)

I won my copies of The Thief and The Queen of Attolia from Worldbuilders 2010, so Megan Whalen Turner drew a cow in the front of my book. It is adorable: )


Jan. 20th, 2012 08:51 pm
mayhap: Renaissance wise man with text I've had a crush on that king since I was sixteen (I've had a crush on that King)
I found a nigh-pristine first edition of Trojan Gold on the clearance shelf at my local Half Price Books for a dollar! Hardly a priceless incunabulum, to be sure, but it pleases me greatly. It joins my two mass market paperback copies, which have been demoted to 'copy for reading' and 'copy for reading in the bathtub' respectively.

I finally turned off anonymous comments on LJ. I would have liked to have left them on, but deleting all the stupid shoe spam was starting to seem like a part-time job. Since I have yet to be spammed on DW, however, anonymous comments are still on there.

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