Aug. 31st, 2020 11:39 pm
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
Greetings, traveller! Welcome to Highly's House of Batshittery. Here you will find musings, rantings, sniggerings and occasional coherent thoughts on life, friends, medievalism, the Internet, and the oddities of expat existence. Oh, and cleaning. I tend to talk about cooking and cleaning a lot.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
What are you reading? Not much. Meandering through Portrait of a Lady, and consuming 'The Persian Boy' by inhaling big chunks then putting it down for a while.

What have you recently finished?
The Green Mill Murder: Phryne Fisher's Murder Mysteries 5 (Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries)The Green Mill Murder: Phryne Fisher's Murder Mysteries 5 by Kerry Greenwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was both a good read, and a *fascinating* exercise in examining the show's adaptation choices, perhaps the most fascinating of which was to make Charles a sympathetic character in a Doomed Love Affair. I can ABSOLUTELY see why they did that for the TV show, but the original was far more interesting and complex a character arc.

Trick or Treat (Corinna Chapman, #4)Trick or Treat by Kerry Greenwood

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the point where I give up on Corrina Chapman. I'd borrow them from a library if I was in Aus, but they are just not worth the $ for buying the e-books.


Ruddy Gore (Phryne Fisher, #7)Ruddy Gore by Kerry Greenwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was FUN. No one appreciates technical crew! Amen, folks. The book also revealed that my major perplexity with the TV episode is an addition: the TV episode had Lin Chung's wife be an arranged marriage shipped out from China, and that puzzled me - arranging immigration after 1901 should have been very difficult. The book has her from a rival established Melbourne chinese family. On the one hand, she's a much smaller part; on the other, I liked the way that subplot resolved itself around Phryne, without her needing to intervene. Less of the 'dramatic white intervention' effect, which is nice.

Hawkeye, Vol. 3: L.A. WomanHawkeye, Vol. 3: L.A. Woman by Matt Fraction

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eh. I had trouble getting into this one - I'm just not that interested in Madame Masque, I think. Plus the embarrassment squick. I know it's good character development, Kate needs to have a few pratfalls, but I miss the version where Clint fucks up and Kate is awesome.

The WellThe Well by Elizabeth Jolley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting! I picked this up on the way out of Sydney, but didn't get around to reading it on the long-haul (too engrossed in Alexander the Great). I liked it a lot, but it seemed a little... rough around the edges. The opening section was just a little too long and the ending too rushed.

What will you read next? Who even knows? I will try to put off buying any more Mary Renaults until next payday...
highlyeccentric: Divide by cucumber error: reinstall universe and reboot (Divide by cucumber)
I last bought paid time in August 2014, a twelve months subcription, but my paid time does not expire until 2016.

... I have no idea when someone gave me paid time or how to figure out if they did, but if someone did and that someone was you, thank you!

Ed: *scours inbox* apparently someone bought me paid account time in FEBRUARY and I didn't notice. SO SORRY, KIND ANON. BUT MY BUDGET IN NOVEMBER THANKS YOU GREATLY.
highlyeccentric: Manly cooking: Bradley James wielding a stick-mixer (Manly cooking)
So I accidentally tipped WAY TOO MUCH rosemary into the first stage of this recipe and the result was amazing.

Diet and accessibilty notes )

What you need and what you do with it )

Adapted from a recipe in Jack Monroe's 'A Year in 120 Recipes'.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: Not much. Slowly working through Portrait of a Lady again.

Recently Finished:

Things You Get For FreeThings You Get For Free by Michael McGirr

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This had been on my TBR list for a few years: I think I kept putting it off because closer inspection reminded me it was by a Jesuit priest. At any rate I was craving travel books recently, and ordered a copy. It made *excellent* plane reading, but was not actually a very good travel book. The tour of Europe was pretty standard and not the focus of the book: rather it ranged over McGirr's family and his early experiences in the priesthood. In that respect, I liked it a lot: he was surprisingly honest about the mix of noble and unhealthy drives that sent him into the priesthood in the first place. His narrative is not shy of his faith but not preachy, either, and when it comes to Europe and the places he and his mother went, it's massively nerdy. McGirr was a Jesuit, they tend to be nerds. It was like talking to the best kind of minister: yeah, a bit uncomfortable in places because we no longer share certain common assumptions of christianity, but also fascinating.

I left my copy with my Mum, who will probably puzzle over the religiosity, and it might also have been terrible timing, since it deals with the death of parents in some depth. Still, it's a book about a bloke who loves his mum, she ought to like it.

Fire from Heaven: A Novel of Alexander the Great: A Virago Modern Classic (Alexander The Great Trilogy)Fire from Heaven: A Novel of Alexander the Great: A Virago Modern Classic by Mary Renault

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hmm. I found this really engaging: I liked young Alexander from the bratty start, and the childhood scenes built into a fascinating character plot as the young adult alexander was continually torn between his parents. I'm not sure the adult scenes would have *worked* without the childhood ones.

I adored Hephastion. Sweet pining darling. I'm a bit sad about moving on to the next book, since it does not promise a vast amount of Hephastion. Speaking of which, I did very much love Mary Renaults snark in the afterward about the pointlessness of trying to claim Alexander as 'gay' or indeed straight. You go, Mary Renault.

My quibble remains, as with The Last of the Wine, with Renault's peculiarly euphemistic handling of sex. In 'Fire from Heaven' it got better as it went on, but the opening sex scene was a bizarre hash of metaphors involving forests and vixens and I literally did not realise we were supposed to assume the Great Consummation of Hephastion's Pining Passion had taken place until the narrative moved on to their friends paying up bets.

The Shepherd's CrownThe Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a good last hurrah. I was worried it'd be a disappointment, like Raising Steam, but I think Pratchett's late-stage writing was better suited to Tiffany and the voice/style he'd set up for her. A bit more linear than the adult discworld novels, a bit simpler and less prone to totally left-of-field swerves.

I wasn't expecting to cry at this, and no doubt my fellow plane travellers thought I was quite odd. But I did cry, at wee bit spoilery )

Also two Kerry Greenwoods that I'll catch up reviews of later.

Up Next: IDEK
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: Mary Renault, 'Fire from Heaven'

Recently Read:

The Demon's CovenantThe Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this book a *lot* better on second reading and with a few more years' age difference between me and Mae! I still like the version of her you see through Nick or Sin's eyes better than her as POV narrator, but being sigifnicantly older, old enough not to *need* to identify with her, goes along way to dissipating my aggravation with her. (I know, I was one of those people SRB objects to who disliked Mae and particularly disliked her kissing-many-boys coping mechanisms. It wasn't that I thought no one should kiss many boys: it's that I'd hyper-invested in Mae's little speech in book one about not getting caught in Nick and Alan's weird powerplay, and then she got caught in it anyway! Anyway that annoyed me less this time.)

Jamie is fab. Witty repartee is fab. On the other hand, Nick and Mae's relationship has not got less fucked-up with time. I know from experience that SRB and I both love dubious bonding magic stories but I pretty consistently dislike at least one major aspect of how she handles them, so yeah, that's a thing.

ProofProof by David Auburn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well. This was a hell of a ride.

Firstly the production I was working on was *magnificent* - a couple of people who'd seen professional productions and disliked the play said they liked GEDS' handling of it. It concerns a recently deceased genius mathematician who had an unspecified mental illness that looks a lot like paranoid schizophrenia; his youngest daughter, who gave up school to care for him; his elder daughter, who is not a genius but does think she knows best when it comes to caring for impractical geniuses; and Hal, a former grad student of the deceased who believes there might be genius maths work among his papers, despite his illness. The script is *difficult*: pitch it just wrong and you get something dismal, or too far the other way and you're callously laughing at mental illnesses.

It was tough going in places: the opening scene, where father and daughter argue about their respective mental illnesses, hit hard the first time I saw it. But then it was full of amusing academic jokes. And at the end of act 1 it abruptly turns from amusing family drama with some heavy themes to Joanna Russ's 'How To Suppress Women's Writing' in dialogue form and applied to pure maths.

I got irrationally angry at audiences for LAUGHING at "I didn't find it, I wrote it". I had to sit on my aggravation with my lighting tech tutor, who didn't think it was outrageous that the young prof disbelieved the twenty-something girl because "things like that happen all the time, people plagiarise things". Yeah, dude, and you're way more likely to suspect women regardless of whether or not they actually have plagiarised things! Aaargh.

My only quibble with the play is that Hal, the young prof, is kind of an entitled well-meaning white dude dick. In order for the play to resolve properly it has to allow him to *prove* to himself (and thus the audience) that Catherine has in fact written this ground-breaking mathematical proof. Which gives him a credibility I'm not sure he deserved. Cathy did get to smack him down, telling him none of his logic counts and he should have trusted her. But, because Cathy is also struggling to assert herself against her overbearing sister, Hal gets enlisted on team "there's nothing wrong with Cathy!" and instead of going to New York to be taken care of, she stays to talk maths with Hal. BUT. Cathy *had* been having hallucinations of her recently deceased father! (or were they dreams? Open to interpretation). Cathy took to her bed for a week and is clearly very depressed! She might be a maths genius, but she *is* ill, and while her sister's overbearing control would be a very bad solution to leave her with, I'm not sure Hal's "omg let me adopt the hot baby genius" is any better.

The ending holds together on a Doylist level: you get what you want, Cathy not going to New York and showing confidence in her mathematical skills. On a Watsonian level, I forsee either Hal sliding into controlling her, or total meltdown.

The Demon's Surrender (The Demon's Lexicon, #3)The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now this, this I wholeheartedly loved. Sin is fantastic and I adore her, and this book gave so much to Mae's character through Sin's eyes. Plus, SIBLING LOYALTIES yes good. Sin's dad is pretty awesome. I like Sin's grandma, too.

The Last of the Wine: A Virago Modern ClassicThe Last of the Wine: A Virago Modern Classic by Mary Renault

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read most of this on the plane from Geneva to Melbourne via Abu Dhabi, and it kept me pretty much enthralled the whole way. A+ ten points, Mary Renault.

THIS BOOK IS REALLY GOOD. It's slow to start, and starting from early childhood gives the first part a distinctly different pace to everything after Alexis first rides out with Lysis. But it's good! Alexis is complicated and interesting - my only complaint would be that Lysis is a little less so, perhaps because of Alexis' narrow perspective. The historical narrative of the last days of the Pellopenesian War is gripping, and I loved how much it made me look up: Renault simply refers to things as if everyone knows them, and you have to just go with it. She's even better at that than Hilary Mantel, actually, who can be a little ponderous in giving explanations via character introspection.

grumbling about the romance narrative )

In short, I loved the book, but the m/m plot did not live up to the "tell gay stories in a setting where there is no stigma!" hype.

Up Next: For once, I know exactly because I plan my plane reading in advance. I have the Shepherd's Crown (hard-copy), and two more Kerry Greenwood e-books, for the plane after I've finished Fire From Heaven.
highlyeccentric: Book on a shelf, entitled "Oh God: What the Fuck (and other stories)" (Oh god what the fuck (and other tails))
Currently Reading: SRB, 'The Demon's Covenant'; Hawkeye vol 3; Henry James, Portrait of a Lady

Recently Finished:

Silver On The TreeSilver On The Tree by Susan Cooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, it was nice to finish the series, but this was not the best-structured of the lot. It was beautiful, with delightfully woven myth and literary references, but the great final question of Free Will fell terribly flat, since hardly anyone involved had exercised much free will along the way. I am now assigning Merriman to the Cryptic Manipulative Magical Mentor's Drinking Club (he will drink whiskey with Gandalf, Aslan, Dumbledore, and various others). The three non-magical children got particularly short shrift: their 'tests', especially the boys, were particularly frail, and there was no strong sense of what else they could have done and how they could've done it.

On the other hand: like all the others, this was *absolutely, intricately pretty*, which is worth a lot.

The Buried GiantThe Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a.. peculiar book. The quality of the prose is high: Ishiguro's narrator voices are engaging and I read at a fairly fast pace. I like the general premise, the meditation on mixed-race societies and on healing after war. BUT. It's obvious that Ishiguro isn't a historical/fantasy writer and I got the feeling he didn't _care_ as much about the social questions he raised as he did about the airy-fairy questions of memory and love. I have a strong suspicion I've read the 'Arthur brokers peace between Saxons and Britons, but it's tenuous and eventually his hand is forced and it all gets away from him' logic somewhere before - it's not medieval, but someone's done it. And they, whoever they were, did it *better*. This book needed to be about 1/4 longer in order to better flesh out the social aspects and deal with the fall-out of the death of the dragon.

Also I have absolutely no idea what to make of the ending, with the boatman, and I can't even tell if it's deliberately opaque or not. It might be supposed to leave you wondering if the boatman has tricked them, but if so, it's not signalled clearly whether it's MEANT to be ambiguous and what the other option is.

Among OthersAmong Others by Jo Walton

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book's strengths: excellent narrator voice; interesting, sharp insights on the world around her; immensely attractive evocation of the experience of being a teen sci-fi nerd, and what books come to mean in that context. Decent world-buidling re: fairies, magic, etc.

This book's weakness: plot, what plot? Nothing *happens*. There's about 1/3 of a plot missing: the book begins after the boss battle and proceeds to a peculiar final showdown where the protagonist is Now Free of Her Mother, but never explains what the boss battle was or how it had taken place. I expected asynchronous narration, telling the story of the 'main' events in retrospective, which is what I got, only most of them were missing. How did M&M discover the plot? How did they prevent it? WHO KNOWS.

Characterisation: Their mother is a ridiculous villain, her only motivation explained as 'crazy' and 'egotistical'. The only way this makes sense, given the scarcity of information on the actual conflict between mother and daughters, is if the mother is seriously mentally ill (narcissistic? untreated bipolar? IDEK i am not here for diagnosing flat characters) and Mori is, reasonably enough, traumatised by neglectful parenting but also delusional herself. If that was what we were meant to take away then the storytelling is fucking lazy for refusing to engage properly with the protag's experience and her mother's. If that wasn't meant to be the take-away then doubly lazy: why does this woman have no character? TL;DR Sarah Rees Brennan did 10 million times better with the 'malevolent magic-addled mother' plot.

Issues/subplots: there are SO MANY LOOSE ENDS in this. But the most irresponsible is the bit where the protag's father made a move on her, was rebuffed, and then neither he nor the protag EVER DEALT WITH IT AGAIN.

Walton/Mori criticises 'Teen Problem' books but I can't help but feel that if Walton had more respect for the genre she might not have left that great irresponsible gaping hole. Less offensive but still lazy writing, the witch-aunts and the part where Daniel is being abused by said witch-aunts is acknowledged but never dealt with properly.

Conclusion, what conclusion: it was crap. The showdown with her mother was crap. The reunion with the Three Important Men In Her Life was crap. Great gaping questions remain - *what* did Wim tell her father to get him and Samuel down to Wales? How did Daniel evade the witch-sisters? Is no one going to notice that Mori is acting extremely peculiarly? What became of her mother wandering around in the hills anyway?

The Demon's Lexicon (The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy, #1)The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a re-read, but I haven't got a goodreads review of it for some reason. Short commentary: I LOVE THIS BOOK. IT IS VERY EXCELLENT. Also it is 10 million times better work than Among Others.

In 2009 I picked up K's copy of this, and she wouldn't let me take it away so I went promptly down to Kinokunia to demand my own copy because I could not continue to exist without it. In 2015 I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to find I had not brought my hard copies to Europe with me, so I bought the whole series in e-book and then devoured the first one in a single evening.

highlyeccentric: Julia Gillard making a Lleyton Hewitt salute (Gillard)
Draco grabbed Pansy's arm and pulled her behind the nearest tapestry. 'We've reached peak flag,' he said. 'It's on!'

It was the matter of moments to explain the situation to Crabbe. Most of them belonged to Malfoy: 'I feel our styles are divergent: you're all classic Death Eater, I'm more complex anti-hero with a possibility of later redemption. It's just not working for me. Also, I've been planning your public downfall since you rolled me four years ago and I can't think of a better time than four days before you meet the criteria for your Prime Ministerial pension supplement.'

Pansy's message was simpler: 'You're dumped, Crabbe. And you're taking Goyle with you.'

Even Rita Skeeter couldn't argue, epsecially when Malfoy fronted the media with his hair glinting perfectly in the afternoon sun and with no phalanx of flags to make his argument for him, but rather words, more than three, constructing an actual argument. Draco looked earnestly into the camera. 'We need advocacy,' he said. 'Not slogans. We need a different style of leadership, one that respects the people's intelligence."

Two hours later, Crabbe replied. 'We're not the Labor Party!' he declared. 'We are not the Labor Party! WE ARE NOT THE LABOR PARTY!

'Alas,' muttered the Australian Voting Public, remembering well that – mad as they may have been, and in all honesty they put cut snakes to shame – the Labor Party under both Harry and Hermione had provided stable government, passing legislation, negotiating intelligently with the opposition and cross benches and rarely embarrassing us on the international stage.

For hours they pretended there was still a decision to be made. Goyle announced: 'We cannot and we must not become a carbon copy of the Australian Labor Party.'

But it was all to no avail. Of the 99 votes, Draco received 54, Vince 44, and Kevin Andrews drew a picture of a penis.

Crabbe was out, having served less time than any Australian Prime Minister since the one who was eaten by a shark*.


The full saga of Vincent Crabbe and the Goblet of Bile can be found at blamebrampton's LJ.
highlyeccentric: Demon's Covenant - Kitchen!fail - I saw you put rice in the toaster (Demon's Covenant - kitchen!fail)
This is a simplified and budget-ised version of Melissa Clark's Rosh Hashana recipe at the New York Times. (Which, by a co-incidence of menu planning, I have cooked on the first night of same. Happy New Year, anyone observing!) Australians might want to save it up for late summer / early autumn, when plums are a thing.

Dietary and accessibility notes )

What you need and what you do with it )
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: Henry James, Portrait of a Lady (re-read); Susan Cooper, 'Silver on the Tree'; Kazuo Ishiguro, 'The Buried Giant', loan from a friend.

Recently Finished:

Land of the Seal PeopleLand of the Seal People by Duncan Williamson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a really interesting little collection - mostly selkie stories, with a number of 'Jack' stories thrown in (Jack being the folklore character found in Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack Horner, etc, but in these stories he's Scottish or Irish). Duncan Williamson was a noted storyteller amongst the Scottish Travellers (not Romani - Highland travellers are an indigenous Scots group, who tend to be closely affiliated with the Gaelic speaking towns), and this is a posthumous expanded collection of one of his earlier publications. He attributes some tales to his own family, and many more to the crofters and fisherpeople he worked with and for during his years as a roving odd-job man. The source notes on some of the stories are fascinating, and the tales themselves are diverse - what struck me as most common to all of them is that all are set in small communities where most people get by on subsistence living, and you can tell that this is Williamson's own community, because there's no fuss made of it. I like that - the books must be intended for a wider audience, but the stories are told as if the audience is part of his community.

De la petite taupe qui voulait savoir qui lui avait fait sur la têteDe la petite taupe qui voulait savoir qui lui avait fait sur la tête by Werner Holzwarth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I did not immediately realise, when I picked up this book and started to read it to a small person, that it was a book about poop. It is a very good book about poop, though! Plus it's good pronunciation practice - my reading comprehension is far ahead of my ability to articulate words, so I keep falling over my own tongue.

Flight BehaviourFlight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hmm. I really enjoyed this book, after a slow start, and a few times where I had to put it down and cringe in fear of expected embarrassments. I was terribly afraid Dellarobia was going to make a fool of herself over Dr Byron, but that was handled *beautifully*.

I ended up loving it for the sensitivity to class, opportunity, and rural mindsets. The confrontation between Dellarobia and the environmental activist whose recommendations were either beyond her means (buying hybrid cars, say) or something she and everyone she knew already did *because they were poor* (eg, buying second-hand) - that was glorious. And I loved the passage where Dellarobia starts thinking in technical terms, because... well, that's why my phone can spell heteronormativity. I am a big fan of 'plain english', and yet.

Structurally, the ending of the book was rushed - there were threads left hanging, especially re: Hester, and questions unanswered, and I ended with a dismal presentiment that Dellarobia's new life as a community college student would probably be unsustainable, given the realities of single parenting, poverty, etc.

Up Next: IDEK
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
It's Wednesday in Australia already, does that count?

Currently Reading: Kingsolver, 'Flight Behaviour'

Recently finished: Where recently means 'since 9 Aug 2015'...

Looking for Alibrandi: Australian Children's ClassicsLooking for Alibrandi: Australian Children's Classics by Melina Marchetta

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought this in e-book form and I am really regretting it. Usually I only buy e-books of... light reading? Phryne Fisher mysteries, or most YA. And this is YA, so that's the format I bought it in. Up side is, I won't now be tempted to cast off the hard copy when I move house or countries, because damn, how have I not owned this book and not read it since high school?

Longish review hereunder )

Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New EssaysFan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays by Karen Hellekson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a quick re-read of about half of the articles - I revisited ones I'd liked before and ignored the rest. The essay on 'archontic literature' remains brilliant, and I'm astounded I've survived this far without citing it.

Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the WorldGetting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World by Robyn Ochs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

as a book overall, I don't think the tiny-quotes-and-contributions format worked well; it read like a bizarrely large pamphlet. However, it was pretty nifty reading up on 2000s bi... everything; slightly disappointing to think how little has changed; and the last few sections, on politics, were very interesting, especially when some of the authors had fine-tuned their ideas since 'Closer to home: Bisexuality and feminism'.

Bad Feminist: EssaysBad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, I binge-read this in the space of a few days, that's how much I liked this. It's very, very good.

Thoughts as list )

Also finished: Land of the Seal People, which I'll write up when I've had time to think it over a bit more.

Up next: IDEK, are we pretending I ever have any clue what I'm reading next?
highlyeccentric: Joie du livre - young girl with book (Joie du livre)
And out of fortnightly sequence, too! Because I've read so damn many things lately I need to increase the frequency of these reports.

Currently Reading: Williamson, 'Land of the Seal People', an anthology of scottish Traveller & folk tales, frequently featuring selkies; Kingsolver, 'Flight Behaviour'.

Finished Recently: Busse & Hellekson, 'Fan Fiction & Fan Communities'; Ochs & Rowley 'Getting Bi'; Roxanne Gay, 'Bad Feminist'

Finished more than a week ago:

1066 and All That: A Memorable History of England1066 and All That: A Memorable History of England by W.C. Sellar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up at the brocanterie the other day and I SHRIEKED WITH LAUGHTER for the rest of the day. I haven't seen a copy of this since I was about 14 - I loved it then, but Horrible Histories were more my jam. Now I have the knowledge base to not only tell pretty reliably if the fact reported is true, bogus, or twisted, but also to get most of the UK culture/geography jokes. This, for instance, is much funnier if you know some UK place names. The test paper is... well, I could probably swap it for our general knowledge section of the exam and not get back answers any more bizarre than the standard. I wonder if someone HAS been swapping them?

Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell, #2)Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The long slow re-read of Wolf Hall by audiobook was in order to move on to this one, which I got through much more rapidly. I liked it a lot. A+. I'm particularly liking the way Jane Seymour's story is handled by the author - Mantel has worked hard to make available to the reader interpretations which the POV character, Cromwell, isn't thinking about. Eg: Jane Seymour is pretty clearly not interested in sex with Henry, but Cromwell is carefully avoiding letting that come to the top of his conciousness. Mantel has fantastic control over the close third person, it's brilliant.

Everyday Easy: One-potEveryday Easy: One-pot by Andrew Roff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Saw this somewhere in the UK, ordered it second-hand online. It's not *bad* but not as good as I'd hoped either. I made a pretty good stew out of it, but also a terrible frittata.

Up Next: Probably Henry Jenkins.


Aug. 15th, 2015 06:50 pm
highlyeccentric: Manly cooking: Bradley James wielding a stick-mixer (Manly cooking)
Things I have cooked today:

- toasted granola for 1x week's breakfast
- Epicurious Banana Coconut Muffins, homg, so good, do recommend
- basil-almond pesto (I've never made pesto before! And pine nuts are too expensive here! But eventually I had so damn much basil it became necessary to branch out)
- tuscan bean stew from the big red book

And I didn't even spend ALL day in the kitchen! Also got haircut, did grocery shopping, cleaned the bath, and washed the kitchen floor. Unprecedented productivity, wot.
highlyeccentric: Joie du livre - young girl with book (Joie du livre)
Currently Reading: Kingsolver, 'Flight Behaviour'; Ignatiev 'How the Irish Became White'. Others on hiatus.

Recently Read:

Kerry Greenwood, Flying too High, Murder on the Ballarrat Train and Death at Victoria Dock: These were all great fun! I think I understand why 'Flying too High' wasn't turned into a TV episode - the main plot was fine, but the secondary plot about pedophile kidnapping wouldn't make great TV. Murder on the Ballarrat Train was better in book form, I think - much more depth. Death at Victoria Dock was fun.

Plenty MorePlenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Absolutely *gorgeous* to read, but finicky and demanding to cook from.

Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science FictionTales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction by Douglas A. Anderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't know how long I've owned this for - perhaps since 2009? - but I only just got around to reading it. It's a collection of short stories by authors Lewis is known or supposed to have enjoyed. Not all have much in common with the Narnia books - for instance there was a 'letter from hell' cited as loosely connected to the Screwtape Letters. I skipped quite a few of the stories. However, I really enjoyed E. Nesbitt's "The Aunt and Amabel", about a universe through a wardrobe; and Andersen's "The Snow Queen", which I'd never read before. Foqué's 'Undine' was in there, and glorious; Walter Scott's "The Tapestried Chamber" I also loved.

Up Next: I give up even trying to predict this part.
highlyeccentric: road sign: car eaten by monster (pic#320259)
I HAVE COME UP WITH A CUNNING PLAN. Several months in advance, so I can prepare properly.

Things that I do in winter: stay inside, staring at a fixed point, consuming audiobooks or TV; consume vast amounts of cheese and potatoes; be miserable
Things that I do not do (much) in winter: exercise

Reasons I do not exercise:
- outside bad
- lack of outside-worthy clothes
- outside cold!
- decision fatigue: get home, go flop, no more going places
- depress: does not enjoy anything, therefore does not enjoy things normally would enjoy about running, eg, ducks
- outside too dark to see ducks!

Reasons I should exercise:
- lose weight? at least stop gaining weight? (this is the least useful motivation ever, but it must be noted that outgrowing my exercise pants significantly hampers further exercise)
- wish not to make fool of self on 'gentle walks' with swiss people (this is a good motivator: it is the only reason I'm running at all)
- short-term energy boost / smugness / etc (less effective in winter anyway, because depress)
- long-term supposed to be good for mental elfs?

Things I have already figured out are significantly more likely to lead me to exercising:
- monotonous routine (run same route. every time. bonus points if ducks)
- eradicate decision fatigue by using app which tells me what to do when
- minimal human interaction
- Ridiculous music choices
- bicycles if not on roads


GYM. Go to gym before 6pm, for minimal human interaction. Pick a gym between uni and home, in order not to get home and then go flop. If necessary, play the 'no speak french!' card for avoiding human interaction.
GYM HAS: running machine. Can stare into space and obey instructions. Bicycle machines that are not on roads.


CARROT: PODFIC. Headphones in ears is a great way to avoid humans in gyms!

I'm gonna be miserable, staring at a fixed point and consuming trash media anyway, right? If I can somehow convince myself that the best place to do this is in a warm gym while running on the spot, we might achieve either long-term mental elfs benefits or at least cardio-vascular fitness.

Salary goes up in September; there's a 'woman fitness' gym on my street with student deals. If I start this in october or november, when I still have some cope, I might be able to establish an actual habit?
highlyeccentric: Joie du livre - young girl with book (Joie du livre)
Currently reading: Kingsolver, Flight Behaviour; Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White; Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies (as audiobook); anthology called 'Getting Bi'.

Recently finished:
Hawkeye, Vol. 2: Little HitsHawkeye, Vol. 2: Little Hits by Matt Fraction

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was depressing! The bit entirely from Lucky's POV was entertaining, but mostly, this was five episodes of 'Clint Barton fucks up repeatedly and the women around him get fed up about it'. Which is fine! They OUGHT to be fed up, he is very annoying! But it was less fun to read than 'Clint and Kate save the day and Clint adores Kate the end'.

L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs and Emily's Quest: a lovely re-read. This trilogy is so much better planned-out than the Anne books, and the characterisation more consistent. I loved them when I was young and love them still. However: Dean Priest is a creeper. This is a fact, and a disturbing fact too. He was written into book one with his role in book three already in mind. Creeeeeper. Teddy, on the other hand, remains sort of wet. I like the emphasis on their shared ambition, but she shares so very *little* with Teddy - not just in the third book, all the way along he gets little screen time, and we are told, rather than shown, that she likes him best, etc.

L.M. Montgomery, Pat of Silverbush, Mistress Pat: Ugh. Lucy Maud did get increasingly classist the older she got, didn't she? I get the feeling the Silverbush people would look down their noses at Anne. The first of these books is OK, fairly cute for what it is. The second is a hot mess. I cannot, cannot countenance the romantic plotline - it's a rehash of Emily/Dean Emily/Teddy, done badly. At least some effort was put into convincing us Emily was romantically interested in Teddy. Pat is... startlyingly and outstandingly aromantic, really. I don't know how else to read her desire to be a homebody but lack of desire to set up nesting with a family of her own, if not a rebellion against compulsory romance. And it would have been so *easy* to achieve that for her: there was a hitherto unmentioned servant cited as a reason she wasn't needed as housekeeper at her parents' new home. Remove the servant. Not have mother have a miraculous recovery. Have the maiden aunt fall ill and Pat move in with the bachelor uncle & said aunt as housekeeper. ANYTHING. UGH.

Devil's Food (Corinna Chapman, #3)Devil's Food by Kerry Greenwood

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was pretty good fun! Light, insubstantial, and occasionally weirder about food/weight than you'd expect for a book which is *literally about the evils of the diet industry*.

Up Next: An Alice Monroe, and maybe Jo Walton's Among Others
highlyeccentric: Joie du livre - young girl with book (Joie du livre)
Currently Reading: a collection entitled 'Tales before Narnia', which is surprisingly interesting.

Recently read: most recently, a stack of Miss Fisher e-books, which I will review in due course.

Catching up since last time I did this post:

Secret Scribbled NotebooksSecret Scribbled Notebooks by Joanne Horniman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I realised some way into this book that I must have read it before - I recognised certain turns of phrase. Horniman has a way with words, especially for small-scale description. Her actual plot skills are a bit weak, and... idek, so much of this book annoyed me. The love interest was bland. The teenage heroine's stories were exactly as self-absorbed and egotistical as you'd expect from teenage fiction (I feel this is a case where suspension of disbelief is important: if you're going to put your character's writing in your book, it should be publishable in its own right. Unless perhaps they are a child character in an adult novel).

I *enjoyed* reading this book, as I always do with Horniman - but mostly for the nostalgic opportunity to climb into her world and pretend I'm on the mid-north coast of NSW.

Finally: no one who grows up with mangoes everywhere on the mid-north coast thinks of them as 'exotic'. Or if they do this is because they have absorbed WEIRD ORIENTALIST SHIT from society at large. Pls stop.

A Dangerous VineA Dangerous Vine by Barbara Ewing

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*Overall*, I thought this was very good. It focuses on a white recent high school graduate in 1950s NZ, who is accepted into a civil service / university work-study program and assigned to work in the Bureau, the official title of which is never spelled out, but which handles Maori affairs. Hating French, and fascinated by the Maori language she hears at work, our protag manages to finangle special arrangements to take Maori as her required langauge for her Arts degree. She proceeds to blunder through the book trying to reconcile the fact that she loves the language and appreciates her co-workers with her "knowledge" that the language is dying and with the part where she keeps forgetting people outside of the Bureau are scathingly racist.

There is something a little bit odd about entering into a period/place specific race politics through the eyes of a white boundary-crosser: I do sort of feel like the protag's boyfriend Timoti, a Maori lawyer, would have been a perfectly interesting protag in his own right. But Ewing doesn't gloss over how *clueless* our white protag (Margaret? i think?) can be around her Maori peers even as she finds herself increasingly alienated from her white family/their expectations.
cue pedantic historicity problems about university education )

Female MasculinityFemale Masculinity by J. Jack Halberstam

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is gooood. I have many thoughts going in many different directions, p sure I can't do the book justice in review format.

Still to come: a stack of LM Montgomery and a stack of Kerry Greenwood.

To Read Next: Um... serious scholarship on the Prose Merlin?
highlyeccentric: Sign: Be aware of invisibility! (Be aware of invisibility)

This is me, with baby Gremlin's teddy. (Or possibly GremlinMother's teddy, Gremlin's not that interested in large teddies yet.) I babysat for a few hours on friday, which he spent asleep, so I spent a few hours napping in front of a fan and it was *glorious*.

I would like to state that babies continue to be excellent academic therapy. Gremlin can be a difficult little human (although I've not had him at his most... explosive. Just shouty. I have yet to meet the 'crapocalypse' mode). But he doesn't care about my thesis. He is extremely demanding but these demands do not include 'think complex thoughts'. Ergo, he is good for me.

Moar photo )


Jun. 29th, 2015 04:39 pm
highlyeccentric: Dessert first - pudding in a teacup (Dessert first)
A note pertaining to the Cambridge geeks:

nothing personal, but I'm electing to withdraw from the great society of cambridge geeks and their exes, at least for a while. Accordingly, I've unsubscribed from all but a few such persons (those I met independently on DW who turn TURNED OUT to be w/in six degrees in the cambridge geekosphere).

Not personal to any of you in particular. A *normal* person would've done this as a strategy to facilitate getting over Dr J; I am not a normal person, but I find that, having reached a state that can be described as 'over' him, I've along the way shed the great desire to BELONG TO THIS CLUB. Given that that perspective was leading me to view y'all through peculiarly fairy-dust lenses, imma gonna take some large steps back. Esp from Dr J's relatives, lovely though you all have been to me.

Should I run into you in person for IRL reasons however I shall be pleased to see you.
highlyeccentric: Joie du livre - young girl with book (Joie du livre)
Sorry for the hiatus folks! I read stuff. And moved house.

Currently reading: Rosenwein's 'Emotional Communities'; an anthology called 'Tales Before Narnia'; a non-fiction collection called "Getting Bi"

Recently finished: Or finished since last update, anyway...

Ann Brashares, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Girls in Pants and Forever in Blue: all re-reads for the first time in about five years. I found them surprisingly repetitive when read back-to-back. I found I got very, very annoyed with the cumulative effect where no one is happy about or after sex. Except for when Lena sleeps with the cute guy she's not romantically attracted to. I thought it was particularly crap to throw Tibby into a pregancy scare on the *first time* - particularly when that just adds her to the growing list of Sisterhood protags who have total traumatised meltdowns after major "first times" (not all intercourse - see Lena and her early shennanigans with Kostos). I think the series as a whole would've gained if Tibby's crisis had been after her second or third sexual encouter, really. Give the girl some chance to enjoy it, geez.

As I think I said in the review of Travelling Pants: women in these books are emotionally wrecked by sexual forays. Why... didn't I notice this before? How much of a contributor was this to the fact that I thought that was, yanno, just what happens when you start having sex, you go through the emotional wringer?

Sisterhood Everlasting (Sisterhood, #5)Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eh. This was not a great book. I liked Bee-as-parent, but her early characterisation felt stilted. I am so very, very sick of Lena's one-true-love complex. Carmen was a well-rounded character, that was a nice change. I wish Brian had been fleshed out better.

I was REALLY INFURIATED with the 'no one contacts Brian when his partner dies' thing. That's NOT HOW IT WORKS. De-facto relationships are a thing in most American states, they certainly are in Australia (where Brian and Tibby were living). If they called the American embassy in Aus, someone would've got in touch with him. It's THAT EASY.

Also: Ann Brashares knows nothing about Australia. You don't eat Lucky Charms in Australia, and you don't get junebugs in summer.

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a WeaponHawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this very much! I found the art style very easy to read (I'm not great with visual information - the Young Avengers episode included as a bonus, while good as a story, I found more difficult to read), and Clint's characterisation as hilariously doofus-adorable as promised. I love the use of second-person address to the reader from Clint's internal monologue, that works very well.

I really, really love Clint's total adoration of Kate. I appreciate that Fraction et al made it clear early on that he wasn't interested in sleeping with her, and that's a *bonus* for both of them. There's just this total "oh my god she's perfect" mentor-friend thing, it's glorious and I want to read five thousand episodes of it (I gather the relationship goes sour later, and just hope they *tell* that story well).

CarpentariaCarpentaria by Alexis Wright

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. This took me a long time to finish. It's a very... demanding book. It's beautiful, of exquisite literary quality, but very demanding. It doesn't make the plot easy to follow; it doesn't even go out of its way to make any of the characters "identify-with-able", although most of them are finely drawn, right on the edge of realism and myth. I was very fond of Elias who came from the sea; I found I didn't actually like Will Phantom much, he was hard to get a grip on; I felt bereft by the story's dropping Angel Day in her unsatisfying ending; and it took me a long time to warm to Norm Phantom but in the end I did. I was sorry Hope was such a marginal character.

It's odd, I don't want to claim this too strongly because we're white people, but Norm Phantom in particular ended up reminding me of my grandfather. This is not the first time North QLD indigenous men have reminded me of my grandfather: location, class, lack of formal education must add up to something not exactly identical (because race) but similar.

Other recent reads to be filled in later: Halberstam, Ewing, Horniman

To read next: I've another Halberstam on my shelf; I'm looking for the right fiction at the moment, and haven't found it.


highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)

November 2015

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