frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (BtVS: Tara and Dawn)
What I've read since I last posted

Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor. I liked this even more than Binti, mainly because it dealt with the emotional aftermath of the events in that book, because I found Binti's relationships with her family really complex and interesting, and because it has quests in the wilderness . Both books deal with Binti becoming a different person than who she was raised to be. It dealt with coming home after leaving and all the complex emotions really well. But then, on top of all that, Binti discovers that who she thought she was, what she thought was her heritage, wasn't even true. I like how the stories interrogate the notion of a pure, authentic, true cultural heritage (which exists in opposition to corrupting outside influences). As with Binti, and as with The Book of Phoenix, I really wished this book had been longer, and spent more time with the characters just interacting and with less focus on the plot/action.

The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor. This is an older book that Binti. The story is in principle really interesting, but I actually stopped reading it about 3/4 through because...there was just so much plot, so much action, so much movement from one place to another. I wanted time for the characters. I wanted to spend time with Phoenix before she escaped the tower, so I would understand her motivations more, and how and why her belief about herself and the world changed so much, so fast. I wanted to see her everyday life during that year in Ghana, not just have it described to me by the narrator in retrospect. It really reminded me of Kate Elliott's A Passage of Stars, in which so much happens and the main character just keeps passing through various events and people's lives and...I just want time for the relationships to breathe.

Among Others by Jo Walton. Written as the journal entries of a disabled Welsh teenager at an English boarding school circa 1980. She knows magic, she loves to read, especially SF, and she's fled an abusive mother and a family who she loves but who didn't protect her. One of my favourite books this year. The prose was gorgeous; the main character so deeply felt. (I did have a "goddamn it, I got tricked into reading YA again" moment. It's not that I have any problem with YA, I just wish I could find more stories centred on women over 30.)  An added bonus: the character takes the train from Shrewsbury to Cardiff several times in the book, and I took the same train to/from VidUKon while I was reading it! This was my first book by Walton but I definitely want to read more.

I've come to realise that for a story to really stick for me, I almost always need there to be a slice of life element. I think that's just one of the reasons my three favourite tv shows all have a lot of episodes where the characters are just doing stuff, getting serial character development but no major long-term plot developments, before the Big Plot starts.

What am I reading now

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty. A clone murder mystery in space! I was already sold from the moment I heard that description (which is funny, none of those things in isolation is something I'd automatically go for, but  in combination they sounded fantastic). As it happens, it's also a big story with fascinating politics going back hundreds of years before the time the story is set. And presents clones and cloning in a very different way than I expected. The prose is not nearly as lovely as Among Others, which I finished just before, so it took me a while to come around to this. But the unfolding plot has been fun and interesting and now I like it a lot.

What I'll read next

I really want to read The Power by Naomi Alderman, but I'm putting it off till I've read more of the books I already own. Probably Redshirts by John Scalzi (another author I haven't read any of yet). I also now have two volumes of Saga to read, which means I probably need to go back and skim/reread all the rest of them.

frayadjacent: Buffy with a goofy look on her face, text says "dork" (BtVS: Buffy dork)
What did you just finish reading?

The Golem and the Djinni, by Helene Wecker. I loved it. The ending was fantastic. And there will be a sequel! Coming out in 2018! Set during WWI! I'M SO PLEASED.

I want to say more about this book but I'm having trouble coming up with the words. Why is it so much harder to say why I liked something than why I disliked it? OK: all of the characters were really compelling, the story was interesting, the pacing was excellent, and the prose had this warmth and authenticity that I enjoyed. I'm so glad I get to spend more time with these characters. Next year.

Paper Girls, Vol 1 by Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson. Mr. Adjacent has been telling me to read this for about six months, and I finally did as a palette cleanser after finishing The Golem and the Djinni, before starting my next novel. I liked it! Once I read the rest of my TBR comics I'll buy the next volume.

Yes Please, audiobook, written and read by Amy Poehler. Meh, it was OK. It made me laugh sometimes, but didn't inspire me or motivate me or make me think very much. I was almost finished with this when I posted about it last week, so I won't add much. I listened to the last chapter walking home from work while Trump was inaugurated. She was complaining about the internet and smartphones.

What are you reading now?

An Accident of Stars, by Foz Meadows. This is my introduction to Meadows. I've still only read a little bit, but so far I am liking it well enough to keep on but not loving it. The story is holding my attention, but I haven't been really grabbed by it or the characters. And I find the prose a bit wordy.

I'm also having a reaction that I think is unfair and I'm trying to unpack: the two (thus far) POV characters have a much stronger sense of social justice than I'm used to in a character. In some ways they have worldviews a lot more like my own than what I typically read. And when a character says or thinks something social justicey, my brain immediately goes, "stilted language! Nobody talks like that!". Except, um, I talk like that. Sort of anyway. So, I haven't quite parsed what of it is that I find the prose awkward overall, and what of it is some unpacked baggage I didn't even know I had. I'll keep reading and see how I go. I thought about giving up once already, then remembered Kate Elliott's praise on the back cover, and kept reading.

Also, I am pleased that the author and one of the main characters are Australian and that there have been specific references to Australian flora. I miss me some gum trees.

Ms Marvel, Vol 1 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. I purchased the first four volumes a year ago, read the first two, and then got distracted. So now I'm starting over! Still like it.

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: the Untold Story of English audiobook, written and read by John McWhorter. I'm liking this as much as his podcast, Lexicon Valley, which inspired me to buy this. I'm about midway through chapter 1, where he presents evidence for the considerable influence of Celtic languages on English grammar. This influence at least partly explains why English grammar is so different from that of other Germanic languages. And apparently the magnitude of this Celtic influence is dismissed by many linguistic historians of English, who say things like, "oh the Angles etc just killed them all and it's totally a coincidence that English, Welsh and Cornish share traits that are unheard of in most other languages". o_O (To be fair, McWhorter acknowledges that historians of English who said that didn't realise how rare those shared traits are. But that's because they didn't bother looking.)

What will you read next?

I'm not sure. I haven't decided how much I want to devote to reading Hugo-eligible books for this year, so I can nominate, or just focus on books I currently want to read + Hugo-eligible books for next year. I'm a slow reader so a head start doesn't hurt. For my walking-to-work audiobook, I'll probably get one of the Great Courses books -- either the one on culinary history or the ordinary people's history of the ancient world one (that one seems to use the same definition of "ancient world" as my 10th grade history class did, mostly focusing on Egypt, the Fertile Crescent, etc). The books are expensive but you can get them on audible for a regular monthly credit. Or I'll just keep listening to back episodes of "Stuff You Missed in History Class", which I'm enjoying tremendously.

One of my goals is to read all my currently-owned comics, which includes Saga Vol 6. Like with Ms Marvel, it's been so long I feel like I have to start from the beginning, or at least one or two TPB's back. The way I'm going I can probably wait till Vol 7 is out in late March. /o\

Free book-shaped space

I'm so bummed I can't go to Worldcon in this year. I was hoping it would be my first Worldcon, but alas. Fuckin August.

frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (!Squee!)
I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT [personal profile] ghost_lingering  MADE MY SAGA FESTIVID.

(This is probably not news to many of you, but I just returned from a weekend away from the internet so I am delighted.)

(Also I didn't actually know. But I wondered, what with the source and the audio and the excellence.)

frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (SU: pearl with roses sword)
I've really enjoyed all the Festivids I've watched so far. I've mostly watched vids for sources I'm familiar with, which is more this year than previous years thanks to things like Bunheads and Bedknobs and Broomsticks and (once I catch up with canon) Supergirl.

But of course I want to give a special shout out to the vid made for me, because it is awesome. I received Your Mother, a Saga vid focusing on Alana and Hazel, and it is gorgeous. I am pretty unfamiliar with comics vidding, and what the vidder did with visual effects was stunning. They also made fantastic use of the rhythms of the source, spoken word. And the vid has so much heart and determination just like Alana. I love it dearly.

Alas, I dropped out of Festivids due to a back injury. So I didn't make a vid.

I watched Frozen for the first time a few weeks ago, on an airplane. It was great fun and I regretted not having seen it in the cinema. I have hangups about the way Pixar et al draw people -- I like a lot of other things about their animation, but I think the people look weird and it bothers me and when I see previews all I can think about is how I wish their faces were hand-drawn. But Frozen made me think I ought to try and get over that, because I enjoyed it a lot and wished I hadn't watched it for the first time 2 years late on an itty-bitty screen.

On that same flight I also watched the first episode of iZombie. I dunno, maybe it was the delirium of being 13 hours into a 14 hour flight, but I liked it a lot. I read the comic for quite a while and enjoyed it at first, when it was "zombie uses brain-eating telepathy to solve murders". But the comic quickly became an apocalypse story that I found over-the-top and excessively plotty and incredibly boring. I'm thinking the tv series is unlikely to go down that route. The characters played off each other well and I found Liv and Ravi to be very compelling. Also Ravi is a rare example of a television character who is physically My Type. And he's a kind person which I find very attractive. So I enjoyed that as well. I haven't managed to watch any more but I hope to.

I'm slowly catching up on Supergirl. It's reminding me of early Buffy and most of Xena, in that I love the character interactions and yawn at the plots. But the characters are great. not so much spoilers as vague references to spoilers for the first ~9 episodes )

The latest Stevenbomb, from a few weeks ago, was possibly my favorite yet. This show just keeps knocking it out of the ballpark.


frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (Default)

September 2017

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