Aug. 31st, 2015 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: 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: Dr Who Season Five - She's Amy, and surrounded by Romans (Amy surrounded by romans)

Tim Hunt is undoubtedly a brilliant man in his field.

Tim Hunt is just one man. We will no doubt lose out if his mind and efforts are lots to science. But how much more are we losing every day, from all of the thousands of women whose jobs are that little bit harder than they need to be.

Tim Hunt didn’t create sexist attitudes. However, sexist attitudes- and the harm that they do- continue because we give them space to exist unquestioned. We tell men that the men above them feel this way- that these are the feelings they can have in private until they become powerful enough to share them in public. We tell women that this is how the people who could have been their role models feel. And we tell women that their presence will always be conditional on their accepting that.

Tim Hunt’s resignation isn’t going to solve the all-encompassing problems of sexism in science- or, of course, of the sexism throughout society from which it springs. But large-scale social problems are composed of countless everyday actions. And so are their solutions.

If Tim Hunt stays resigned, we’ll have lost one man. One smart man. One great man, even. But if we send a message that his views on women will not be tolerated, how many women- how many thousands of women and girls- will feel a little less worn down, a little more backed-up, a little more valued tomorrow?

Consider the Tea Cosy
highlyeccentric: Joie du livre - young girl with book (Joie du livre)
Recently Finished:
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and DisappearedThe Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finally finished this! It was amusing; I can see why it appealed to my father. It was witty and artful, but I found it annoying after a while - too self-concious of itself in the historical parts, and the modern sections were less interesting than the historical ones.

Monstrous Regiment (Discworld, #31)Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reread. YES GOOD.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling PantsThe Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bought the whole set in e-book format in order to binge-read them as I used to do (not sure where my hard copies are; either dispersed to undergrads or with my little sister). The binge-reading experience on this book was excellent, exactly as engrossing and poignant as it used to be.
Thoughts and noodlings on sex, dubcon, etc )

Currently Reading: Rosenwein's Emotional Communities. Student essays. Stuff.

Up Next: MOAR travelling pants. Also I'm expecting Hawkeye 1-5 'My Life as a Weapon' in the mail.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Because my wednesdays are vr busy.

Currently Reading: Wolf Hall audiobook, plus slowly through some hard-copy books

Recently Finished: This update finally catches up the backlog that accrued in January.

Lundy Bancroft, Why does he do that, which was enlightening and has all the problems the internet told me to expect, and I don't wish to review it but it was vr useful.

The RegularThe Regular by Ken Liu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a short story/novella found in Forever Magazine vol 1, which is available for free. I picked it up because it was nominated for the Nebula - not that I make a habit of reading the Hugo/Nebula nominee list, but I do make a habit of reading any Ken Liu that crosses my path (mostly through Lightspeed and Strange Horizons).

It's a really *interesting* story. The question of to whom the title refers - the client who is murdering a select group of high-class escorts, or the detective chasing him, is an ongoing mystery to unravel alongside the conventional detective plot. The sci-fi feature, that of cyborg implants from cameras in eyes (recoverable only upon death or major surgery) to improved muscles to emotional regulators, is deftly woven in with the detective plot, and the story's exploration of how those options might be used, abused and resorted to by people with different kinds of desperate needs... interesting.

More Than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamoryMore Than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory by Franklin Veaux

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was engaging, and in several respects more practical than 'The Ethical Slut'. There's a lot of good stuff here on breaking down one's wants, needs and desires; there is a more balanced emphasis than in the Ethical Slut on being able to expect others to step up and accomodate one's needs. However, there's also the common failure mode of all books in this genre: they exhort you to practice trust, to trust that your partners will want what's best for you, and so on. Well what if they don't? Rickert and Veaux do note that ending relationships may be the most productive recourse, but... well, distinguishing between points where the onus is on you to deal with your own shit and cases where you're not being treated properly is *hard* and they dither back and forth on it. Likewise they note the possibility of abuse as a separate case distinct from practicing healthy communication, as if no one ever tries to communicate clearly with an abuser, or as if abusive people are not at times excellent at imitating or manipulating best practice principles for communication.

Also, for a book written by a bisexual woman and a man who dates bisexual women, it is *startlingly* heteronormative, and gives a painfully simplistic/outdated definition of bisexuality in its glossary, and aside from one paragraph speculating on why bi and trans folk are more often found in poly groups than in non-monogamous gay or lesbian circles, ignores trans people entirely. There weren't many points where I thought 'hey this advice doesn't APPLY if you're bi', but still. Could've been executed better.

Sam Starbuck, The City War: a re-read, super fun and cute and not historically distressing!

Pulling Leather (Pickup Men #3)Pulling Leather by L.C. Chase

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one was better than #2! It did not suffer from the don't-say-bi problem, except incidentally (#2's hero appeared a few times, and i suppose someone could have explained the concept of bisexuality to our self-loathing gay protag. It might have done him some good, broadened his mind a bit more). Chase did a good job in characterising Scott, a man struggling to come to terms with the fact that he's totally gay and also a homophobic arse with a history of beating up gay men. And it was handled pretty well, including Scott's troubling-to-him attraction to a rather fem guy.

What I really liked was that compared to Eric's POV in book 2, Chase seems to have mastered writing angst and indicating how the character's past contributes to his current fear without giving you super unrealistic internal monologue. Scott has angst up to his ears, and a complex set of fears, and these are obvious in small reactions and choices, so long explanation is less necessary.

The Burnt Toast B&B (Bluewater Bay #5)The Burnt Toast B&B by Heidi Belleau

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh now *this* was adorable. An out-of-work logger is trying to run his parents B&B, which he's kind of crap at, not least because he's never questioned that it's girls work and he totally doesn't do girls' work because he's a manly man, right? Enter a chirpy, in-your-face guest who is both macho (professional stuntman) and rather camp, and also trans. Our manly man Derek knoweth not what to do or how to be a reasonable human under such duress, especially when pink frilly aprons are involved.

I was very pleased with the substantial weight given to Derek's ex, 'an aging twink', who is an all-round good human and as much part of Derek's getting-a-clue as is cute young Ginsberg. What bugged me, even to the end, was that Ginsberg *knows* it's a bad idea to get into a relationship with someone who hasn't fixed their toxic shit, especially if that impacts closely on him. And I was really not convinced by the final scenes which are supposed to prove to us that Derek has completely changed and thought not one thought about toxic masculinity for months! Nah, that's not how this works.

Up Next: Given current trends, it would be surprising if I get through the next two weeks without buying and reading another Riptide book. I mean, I know I could find m/m romance of probably better quality and certainly better worldbuilding on the A03, but sometimes entirely new canon is fun.


Feb. 28th, 2015 09:24 pm
highlyeccentric: Dessert first - pudding in a teacup (Dessert first)
The blanket I am making is now long enough to wrap around me. I may never leave the couch.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: Wolf Hall audiobook, and a book on fatherhood in ME lit. Also other stuff on hiatus.

Recently Finished: Many things, including 'More than Two' and two cheap gay romance e-books.

Backdated Reviews: are finally catching up. One of these i finished in the last fortnight!

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished listening to this as audiobook in the Netherlands on my way back to Geneva, late Jan. I had forgotten how *good* it was. My perception had been skewed by the poor pacing of the movie 6A. Especially when read aloud at audiobook pace, the wandering-in-the-forest part isn't a drag at all: there are little ups and downs, highs and lows as each project builds up and unravels. Harry and Hermione alone without Ron is fascinating - the dynamic is just that bit different. Ron's character development is excellent. Molly Weasley made me cry. I love them all.

Foxglove Summer (Peter Grant, #5)Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really *enjoyed* this book. Kobna Holdbook-Smith's narration is still glorious: he can narrate my life any time. Beverley continues to be awesome. Spoilers! )

A Year in 120 RecipesA Year in 120 Recipes by Jack Monroe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fun book! It's less... practical, and a bit more wanky, than her first book, but I have made a tasty foods from it. I also made a very bad cake, but that might be my own fault.

Let it Ride (Pickup Men, #2)Let it Ride by L.C. Chase

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was worth approximately what I paid for it. I've had better books from Riptide before, but that was by Sam Starbuck, and he's his own special case.

This book could have done without the don't-say-bi approach; and there was too much explaining of Eric's angst in his internal monologue. I should have to work harder and get a more gritty feeling of how the angst works.

I also... hmm. I was in the mood for trashy cowboy romance, which I got. I *wasn't* in the mood for "you can tell it's true love because it's the most amazing sex, and it's the most amazing sex because it's true love". I get that that's a *thing*, but it irritated me. The narrative wanted me to believe Eric was wrong about Bridge's likelihood of getting over it rapidly, and tried to prove this to me by fusing LOVE and AMAZING SEX. Unfortunately, this just made me think Eric was probably right.

Also there was an unnecessary marriage proposal at the end. Whhhhy was that necessary.

Up Next:
Not sure! I still have to finish some things I started in January...


Feb. 18th, 2015 09:19 pm
highlyeccentric: A seagull lifting into flight, skimming the cascade (Castle Hill, Nice) (Seagull)
I'm kind of exhausted from the torrent of introspection over the weekend / earlier this week. Here, have a picture of a heron:

highlyeccentric: road sign: car eaten by monster (pic#320259)
Letter R given to me by [personal profile] nanila. It is quite a difficult letter.

Something I hate: Recidivism! No really I just wanted to use that word it's such a good word.

Something I love: Raclette? Raclette is not as much my true love as is fondue, but I love me some cheese-based winter foods.

Somewhere I've been: Rotterdam airport? It's the airport for the Hague and I used it to get to [personal profile] niamh_sage's place christmas 2013.

Somewhere I'd like to go: I've already got tickets to Reykjavik at Easter!

Someone I know: ... I am having trouble thinking of anyone as the letter R connotes [personal profile] monksandbones's thesis supervisor to me. I haven't met her but I follow her on twitter?

A film I like: I went to a list of movies starting with R and the first two I recognised were 'Rachel Getting Married' and 'RED'. RED I wholeheartedly adore: how could you NOT love anything with Helen Mirren in a ballgown with a big gun? I'd forgotten about Rachel Getting Married (2008), but it was quite an interesting movie - a young woman gets weekend release from rehab to attend her sister's wedding, and finds herself back in the middle of family drama and despite the fact that this is her first time seeing them for ages, *she's not the centre of attention*. It was very interesting and sympathetically characterised and probably a better movie, objectively speaking, than RED. But it did not have Helen Mirren in a ballgown with a big gun.
highlyeccentric: Joie du livre - young girl with book (Joie du livre)
Currently Reading: Partway through lots of things, but not really actively reading anything. Unless you count the ENORMOUS pile of Old English textbooks I'm perusing for class. Some of the part-read things include Carpentaria; The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window; and the Lundy Bancroft book.

Recently finished: [twitter.com profile] msjackmonroe's new cookbook, a bunch of OE textbooks, and Aelfric's life of St Edmund. Also Foxglove Summer.

Catch-up reviews:

Barbara Baynton, Between Two WorldsBarbara Baynton, Between Two Worlds by Penne Hackforth-Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fascinating biography of a woman whose name should really be listed every time Patterson, Lawson et al are rattled off. I loved the attention to the way class differentials shaped her life, particularly.

What bugged me was the excessive use of her fiction to fill in gaps in her known life. The author is a descendant, and had interviewed many family members, and in most cases the *practical* details filled in from fiction make sense. What bugged me was that Hackforth-Jones wrote about Baynton's personal feelings with the same authority, even as she acknowledged cases where the fictional character was hardly a self-insert. For instance: it is not good practice to say that Baynton *was* afraid of theft and worse from swagmen simply because she wrote a harrowing short story about a country wife raped and murdered by a swagman, and in that story vividly depicted such fears. It is *possible* she had exactly those fears, but it is also possible that she did not feel them, or did not feel them so strongly, and elaborated from other sources.

There were however some excellent victories of documentary history here- for instance, the chain of deductions (from ship's papers, town records, and Baynton's own known lies), the figuring out that Baynton's mother had boarded a ship from Scotland with her husband, and arrived in the Upper Hunter region with another man who proceeded to live under said husband's name.

Oh Dear SilviaOh Dear Silvia by Dawn French

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This was a terrible book. Do not read this book.

It's *funny*, in places, but it's not executed with skill at anything except sitcom. Notably, the transition between Catherine and Sylvia's POVs is fudged, there's too much telling rather than showing of Catherine's motivations, and actually it's kinda gross - for a story about a woman in an abusive relationship - to have *so little* from her POV.

Also a story about a horrible abusive drug-addict husband-murdering lesbian who tears a woman away from her nice family. Icky. There are ways to tell that story but this is not it, and ending with the nice heteronormative family members restoring their power over the (comatose!) mother and shaming the partner who *they always knew* was bad for her... nope nope all the nope. Do not read this book.

Elizabeth Is MissingElizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a *delightful* book. I have never read a book from the POV of a dementia sufferer and this was remarkably well done. And super cute.

The actual detective plot is a bit shaky in the denoument, but that's OK, the book is adorable enough to get away with it. Excellent plane reading.

Up Next: In theory I should finish something first?
highlyeccentric: Demon's Covenant - Kitchen!fail - I saw you put rice in the toaster (Demon's Covenant - kitchen!fail)
I don't get to make Haloumi Pilaf much anymore, because the fried Haloumi really needs two people to eat it up (it tastes weird after it's cooled) and because haloumi is really hard to find here.

Today I finally made an acceptable alternative. I also solved my 'the spinach in this dish is giving it a grainy texture, wtf I thought I'd washed the stuff' problem, *and* the goat's cheese will last with the leftovers.

Dietary and accessibility notes )

What you need and what you do with it )
highlyeccentric: Manly cooking: Bradley James wielding a stick-mixer (Manly cooking)
This started life as roast parsnips and stuff with couscous, and that was really boring. Turns out the soup version is great, though.

Notes and accessibility )

Ingredients and what you do with 'em )
highlyeccentric: Image of a black rooster with a skeptical look (gallus gallus domestics)
If it weren't for the baggage debacle, I'd do it again, but with more care not to end up transiting through chinese domestic immigration, and not to end up with 30 hours return flight. (Mind you, they didn't *give* me any not hideous return flight options.)

Pros and cons )


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

August 2015

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