highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: A large pile of things for work, because my officemate kindly solved my research block and now I have to madly scramble for ALL THE THINGS. Also, A Wrinkle In Time, and Science of the Discworld II.

Recently Finished:

GlenarvonGlenarvon by Caroline Lamb

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I really have no idea what this book thinks it's doing. About seven different things at once.

Things I liked about it: it is very Extra. It has no chill. It is not concerned with the possibility that its content is too full of Drama and Feelings. Given the context, I appreciate it as Caroline Lamb's great exercise in idfic.

The early encounters between Calantha and Glenarvon also did well at depicting the creepy-fascinating nature of emotional manipulation/abuse, I thought.

Things I did not like about it: it's interminable. Pacing, what pacing? It can't decide if it's a straight-up gothic romp (foundlings! child murder! ruined abbeys!) or a psychological drama or a political novel about Ireland. I'm pretty sure everyone dies at the end because Caroline Lamb couldn't figure out what else to do with them. The portrayal of the Irish rebels is actually pretty racist - especially with how they're all so simplistic they unhesitatingly adore Avondale despite, yanno, being *opposed to everything he is and stands for*.



Summon the Keeper (Keeper Chronicles #1)Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was silly and enjoyable. First read in... 2010 maybe? 2011? Uncertain. I cast off my hard copies when I left Sydney, because I really could see no reason why I'd want to re-visit this particular trash. Clearly I underestimated my need for low-brow trash! This series isn't currently available on kobo, so I ordered them second-hand for about a dollar each on alibris.

I continue to enjoy Dean, the hot and slightly dim love interest who cooks, cleans, renovates and provides transportation.

These books are also quite interesting in that if they were published ten years later (this is a 1998) book they'd be 'paranormal romance', but in the late 90s they're... urban fantasy? They have strong flavours of Charles de Lindt, as well as obvious influence from the 'romance fantasy' subgenre of Mercedes Lackey et al. The nice thing about these books, which they wouldn't be able to uphold if they were Paranormal Romance, is that the romantic subplot is firmly a SUBPLOT. This is a story about closing portals to hell with the aid of a hot dude, a ghost, and a talking cat.



The Hanging Tree (Peter Grant, #6)The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Hmm. On the one hand, this had a lot of things which fascinated me in it. On the other, I managed to entirely forget I was reading/listening to it for a couple of months, so it's evidently not as fascinating as it could have been. (I ended up buying the e-book as well so I could flip back through it to check details I'd forgotten, which you can't easily do with an audiobook)

I'm loving the growing supporting cast. I'm loving the development in Tyburn's character, and Gulleed's. Caroline was awesome and I devoutly hope the details/hints we got re: her and her desire to escape something are seeds for later plots (rather than red herrings).

My usual criticism of these books, that Aaronovitch is just not as good at writing detective stories as he is at worldbuilding, needs tempering: this book is working WITH that limitation. It's really not a detective story about drug crime; it's a magical realist macro-plot that happens to involve a couple of criminal investigations. This is a considerable improvement.

I continue to think that the developments in Leslie May's character are promising. I mean, not promising for her on a personal level, but fascinating and interesting and well-developed. I realise that is not the most commonly held view, but hey.



Started but didn't finish: Penelope Friday, Loving My Lady, a historical f/f romance that was just TERRIBLE. Terribly constructed as a romance plot, as well as dull prose. The basic story outline, 'young woman is left without resources by her father's abrupt death and leftover debts; a fascinating cousin takes her on as Companion, sexytimes ensue' should work, but everything about the execution was WRONG. It moved so quickly from 'death' to 'sexytimes', failed to actually establish why the hell either woman was attracted to the other, gave no weight to the protagonist's grief... also, I really threw it across the room when it said 'during the day, the maids were about and no physical contact could pass between us'. Dude, have you not READ anything about the 18th/19th centuries? AAARGH. Do not read this book. Tumblr let me down in recommending it.

Up Next: Many articles on gender and archaeology! Also, grading!

Music Notes: I'm definitely into the two tracks from the new Paramore album, oh yes. Under the power of suggestion from the Ben Aaronovitch title I've been listening to the Mockingjay movie single 'The Hanging Tree' a fair bit, too. I haven't actually seen the movie, but the song's fascinating and creepy.
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
Currently Reading: Nothing gripping. A lot of fanfic. The usual.

Recently Finished:

CS Pacat, Captive Prince trilogy. I haven't edited my 2016 review, and my plot-related issues with the series have only exacerbated.

The Summer Palace (Captive Prince Short Stories #2)The Summer Palace by C.S. Pacat

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This solves exactly none of my political-world-building problems with the series, but it's pretty cute.



Meanjin Summer 2016 (vol. 75, no. 4)Meanjin Summer 2016 by Jonathan Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I liked this volume a lot. Alexis Wright's cover article was weighty, and absolutely worth a read.

Other highlights included:

Matthew Sini's The Marx of Queerness, a fascinating survey of the myth of "cultural marxism".

Arnold Zable's biographical essay on Sonia Lizaron, Holocaust survivor and founding member of 'The Concentration Camp Theatre'.

Andrew Ford's God and I, on writing liturgical music as an agnostic.

Fiona Wright's The Everyday Injuries, which. Wow. The woman can write. (CN: eating disorder)



Up Next: I want to get back to the Ben Aaronovitch audiobook I started on the flight back from Aus. Some audiobook time might be goood for my overall levels of chill.

Music notes:

Since last I posted re music, I have discovered that the Internet is right about Harry Styles: his new solo track is awesome. So is the new Paramore track, and I've pre-ordered that album.

I've been listening to a lot of The Black Sorrows lately, and bought the 'Hold Onto Me' album to go with the two I already have. That lead me to looking up Vika and Linda Bull, so I have a 'greatest hits acoustic' album of theirs as well.

Other music acquired:
Electric Six, 'Fire' - a pretty fun album but wow, I am not comfortable with its most successful single, 'Gay Bar'.
Eva Cassidy, 'Songbird' - a good purchase.
Chris de Burgh, 'Spanish Train and other Stories' - also part of the quest to legally acquire music I grew up with. Uncertain if this will turn out to have been worth the effort.
highlyeccentric: Demon's Covenant - Kitchen!fail - I saw you put rice in the toaster (Demon's Covenant - kitchen!fail)
This is really a mash-up of two recipes, with the ultimate aim of providing Sufficient Nutrients in a single meal. The first is Jack Monroe's Spinach & lentil daal, from their second book; the second recipe is the Epicurious Indian spiced eggplant recipe. Both have been customised by me, for me.

Access and dietary notes )

What you need and what you do with it )
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
Okay it's been... nearly two months since I posted one of these. Because it took about two months for me to finish more than one book. *hands*

Currently Reading:
For work: Wolfgang Iser, 'The Fictive and the Imaginary'. It's doing my head in.
For funsies: Uh... I've let them lapse, but technically I'm reading Science of the Discworld II, and The Hanging Tree (Ben Aaronovitch). And I've been puttering through Glenarvon again.
I've also been reading mountains of fanfic, in news that surprises no one.

Recently Finished:

Coffee BoyCoffee Boy by Austin Chant

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Meh. It was cute. It made me a leeetle uncomfortable with the boss/intern thing.



The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was every bit as good as the internet lead me to believe it was. Probably the only complaint I have against it was that the first half was kind of slow - but that might just have been that my brain was over-full at the time I started it. (Wait: it's kind of low on female characters, and the first interesting one of them died early on.)

For it's genre it's... hard work? Harder work than Six of Crows, certainly. I do intend to read the sequels, but probably not during semester.



Death by CoffeeDeath by Coffee by Alex Erickson

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


This is not a good book. It's not an egregiously terrible book in any particular way, but collectively, it annoyed me. The mystery case itself was interesting but the resolution was forced; the detective's methods of investigating made no sense; the characterisation was flat; the romance pasted-on.

I might've given it two stars if it weren't for the incredibly lazy use of 'poor me i am dumpy and my friend is beautiful - but I'm not FAT fat, just regular fat' as a short-cut to Everywomaning the protagonist. If the protag is THAT jealous of her best friend the best friend has made a poor life choice opening a business with her.



As La Vista Turns  (Queers of La Vista, #5)As La Vista Turns by Kris Ripper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a good ending to the whole series! Pretty delightful all round.

The romance plot suffered from the same failure mode that I noted re The Butch and the Beautiful: only one internal relationship conflict and it resolved too easily. The secondary plot(s) were great, though. Really great.



Up Next: Look, my hard copy to-read pile is getting terrifying. Also I found my summer Meanjin (it went missing for two months) AND my autumn edition has arrived, so I have catching up to do.

Music Notes:

I think the last time I added music notes to one of these I'd just discovered the Carolina Chocolate Drops; and mid-feb I did a top-75 tracks roundup that featured the YOI soundtrack, some more Mountain Goats and Lumineers tracks, and the like. I discovered binge-listening single tracks somewhere in there.

Music I have loved in the past few months:

- Hanggai, 'Horse of Colours' album (Mongolian folk-rock, discovered via [personal profile] leareth)
- The Waifs, 'Ironbark' album (SO GOOD. My gosh.)
- Sia's 'The Greatest' (from the album This Is Acting, which is pretty good but not as awesome as that one track is)
- Taylor Swift, '1989' album (binge-listened on a long-haul flight, I have no excuses)

Most recently I have acquired David Bazan's 'Curse Your Branches' (because this is a great time of year to discover a former christian rocker's break-up-with-God album) and Carbon Leaf's 'Nothing Rhymes with Woman' (via a new fandom pal). They are good musics.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
Yanno, the memes about how earth as a whole might be ‘space australia’ (ie, terrifying and threatening to beings not from there, how the hell do people survive).

A LIST OF REASONS THIS IS A SUCKY MEME

- This meme only exists about Australia, not about any of the other alarming environments humans live in on earth. There are lot of things that can kill you in the amazon, for instance. People live in the Himalayas! People live in the Saraha! People live in the Arctic Circle!

Oh. Yeah. The meme isn’t ‘some climates are extreme’. Australia’s just the furthest-removed-from-Europe climate you can think of that WHITE PEOPLE live in.

- Only it’s not. I refer you to the entire Southern US. Aside from the hole in the ozone layer thing, these are pretty similar climates!

- You know what? Australia isn’t an uninhabitable wilderness where only the most intrepid lunatics survive. It’s pretty scary if you’re white people used to Europe, I guess? Indigenous Australians were doing just fine at living with the climate and the local fauna and flora before we showed up, and they still are!

My point is: the source meme about Australia being a terrifying deadly place is pretty terrible. It’s insulting to the entire population of the continent; it’s really ridiculous coming from Americans (I mean, aside from the fact that you guys have guns, your continent is pretty terrifying, too. You get BEARS in your BACKYARDS. Allligators in your drains! Rattlesnakes! Earthquakes! You keep living in New Orleans!). And there’s this not-very-thinly veiled level of racism, in that the standard of ‘hospitable environment’ is skewed massively toward ‘what do white people think is ideal’.

Then you go and add space colonialism. Either Earth being colonised FROM space - when did an inhospitable environment EVER stop an imperialist power from setting up somewhere? Here, a comparison to Australia would indeed be appropriate. Or you want to ‘send the Australians’ to an inhospitable desert planet full of poisonous things in space. I just know the Australians you’re picturing there are, well, me. White people who gave got used to sunburn from hell and think 44 degrees is liveable weather. (And if you were picturing Indigenous Australians... great, now you’ve got a fantasy about transplanting them off the entire planet instead of off their traditional lands. Unless you are indigenous, maybe don’t do that.)

This has been: Australia is a perfectly nice continent, and was a lot nicer before white people and climate change, will you please think for a minute before exploiting it as your source meme for ‘the worst place to live’.

Ony I'm not putting this on Tumblr because that would be an invitation to Discourse.
highlyeccentric: Image of a black rooster with a skeptical look (gallus gallus domestics)
The ancestor recipe for this is Jack Monroe's ribollita (from their second book), but I've got lazy with it, and it's drifted back in the direction of minestrone.

Accessibility and dietary notes )

What you need and what you do with it )
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
Currently reading: I gave up on 'The House of Mirth'. No one in that book is going to be happy, ever, and I just can't. So I'm puttering through 'Lies of Locke Lomora' and started The Science of the Discworld II: The Globe. And for work I'm reading Wolfgang Iser, don't even ask.

Recently Finished: These are all catch-up reviews from earlier in January.

Pansies (Spires Universe)Pansies by Alexis Hall

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was... sweet, mostly. Uncomfortable, in that the main pairing is between one guy and the dude who bullied him in high school - but I knew that when I went in, and I think it did a pretty good job of *making* that uncomfortable, tackling the problems head-on.

It was just a little (a lot) 'throw away everything for love' for me. Which is a risk with romance novels, I guess.



A Christmas Hex  (Hexworld #2.5)A Christmas Hex by Jordan L. Hawk

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


This was a pretty cute short story, and it was nice to see some people in this 'verse through a lens that wasn't the police.



Hexmaker (Hexworld, #2)Hexmaker by Jordan L. Hawk

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was... interesting. I re-read Hexbreaker shortly after, and I think I do like that better, but this was a new layer of complexity (and a bit of a novelty in the series for its distinctly kinky bent). I enjoyed the exploration of the distinctions in this alt-historical society: which groups are more or less homophobic, and the entrenched prejudices against magical familiars among the wealthy.

My only qualm is that the series has done Viking hexes and Greek ones, so logically we can expect other Ancient Magic in further books - and I gave up on Hawk's Widdershins books for egregious white people fail vis-a-vis native americans *and* Egypt both. I really hope she avoids those two.



The 13th Hex (Hexworld, #0.5)The 13th Hex by Jordan L. Hawk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was actually a re-read from the Charmed and Dangerous anthology: possibly my favourite in it. Unlike many tie-in shorts, it carries real weight, and is as complex as the associated novels. Plus, Dominic is a sweetheart.



Up Next: I have about six things marked 'currently reading', most of which I've let lapse, so those are first priority. Also if I can find my Summer Meanjin I'll read that. (I put it in a Safe Place)
highlyeccentric: Demon's Covenant - Kitchen!fail - I saw you put rice in the toaster (Demon's Covenant - kitchen!fail)
If you're wondering why the slew of recipe posts, I'm stacking the [tumblr.com profile] speculumannorum queue again, and it gets Sunday Recipe Posts. I'm duplicating them here because they're easier for *me* to find here.

This is a slow-cookerised adaptation of Jack Monroe's Bolognon, which was itself a recipe which couldn't decide if it wanted to be bolognaise or bourguignon. I've recently realised that the main barrier between me and slow-cookery is not having the brain in the mornings to do food prep, whereas I have the brain in the evenings *but only after i've eaten a foods already*. Cunning strategy: the browning meat stage done the night before!

Diet and accessibility notes )

What you need and what you do with it )
highlyeccentric: Demon's Covenant - Kitchen!fail - I saw you put rice in the toaster (Demon's Covenant - kitchen!fail)
I can't find the original recipe for this, so here's a write-up for posterity.

Diet and Accessibility notes )

What you need and what you do with it )

Makes about 3 serves, give or take.
highlyeccentric: Demon's Covenant - Kitchen!fail - I saw you put rice in the toaster (Demon's Covenant - kitchen!fail)
A combination of my mother's Chang's Fried Noodle Salad (descended, by roundabout paths, from the one on the back of the Chang's packet) and this stir fry recipe.

Diet and accessibility notes )

What you need and what you do with it )

Makes 3-4 main servings and probably about 6 sides. Serves well cold the next day.
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
An important step in my getting-my-shit-back-together plan for the second half of winter: picking up the routines I dropped somewhere in December. Like this one!

Currently Reading:
Edith Wharton's 'The House of Mirth' is about the only thing I'm steadily working through at the moment - I started it in January and have been enjoying it, but keep shying away in anxiety as I can see Our Heroine is going to suffer Indignities and so on and so forth.
I started 'The Lies of Locke Lomora' but haven't got past the first chapter yet.


Recently Finished:
Quite a lot and most of it romance e-books. This isn't going to be the complete January accounting - I'll tack the rest onto the next update.

The Book of DRAGONS (Annotated)The Book of DRAGONS by E. Nesbit

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was really... interesting. Essentially it's a collection of fable/fairy-tale stories involving dragons, in various settings (from the magical realist to the outright fairy tale). I found myself grating a little at the gender tropes in some of the stories (the princess is always fixed, while the hero - rarely a prince - is more active and mobile), but after a while, came to the conclusion that, within those norms, it does a pretty good job. The princesses have character, and preferences, and get a full share of POV-narration. I particularly enjoyed the one where the princess married the pig-boy.

There was one which I suspect Phillip Pullman has read - a brother-and-sister pair run away to the North Pole and rescue a dragon - which was well executed, except for the comic antagonists, the 'fur people', who were supposed to be funny (they're all made of fur! not skin!) but were a pretty obvious Sami/Inuit caricature.



One Life to Lose  (Queers of La Vista, #4)One Life to Lose by Kris Ripper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I liked this *much* more than The Queer and the Restless. Partly because Cameron is a character type I have endless love for; partly because the triad dynamics were really really well managed; partly because the romance plot actually worked with the murder plot (perhaps it did better here because this one wasn't trying to be a detective novel as well).



Glitterland (Glitterland, #1)Glitterland by Alexis Hall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This one was surprisingly good, if somewhat more emotionally challenging than I normally want from my romance e-books. The POV character has depression-dominant bipolar, and that really fucks him up, and fucks with his ability to maintain relationships. This isn't a story about Finding Someone Whose Love Makes It Better. Consequently it's tough going, as a story, but I like it the better for it.



Wanted, A GentlemanWanted, A Gentleman by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is an excellent book of its kind. It's very genre-aware (which is what gets it 4 stars), it plays with the 'daring elopement' tropes delightfully, and is quite deft with the two protag's background/family situations and their consequent relationships with ideas of liberty and the practice of living freely.



For RealFor Real by Alexis Hall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Okay, Alexis Hall's stock-in-trade appears to be POV protags with notable anxiety/intimacy issues. This one is *really well done*, but really put me through the emotional wringer: it's pretty heavy kink, and the combination of that with the emotional wossname was, erm, perhaps not what I shoulda been reading while having a long-drawn out Anxiety myself.



Up Next:

Honestly, I am really hoping I get enough brain back to make some real inroads in academic non-fiction :)
highlyeccentric: Manuscript illumination - courtiers throwing snowballs (medieval - everybody snowball)
1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?

... saw an opera? Not live, though, so I'm not sure if that counts. Co-wrote an article. Oh, and visited Africa! (Morocco only, but it's a new continent for me).

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I'm pretty sure I didn't make any, and don't expect to make any more. Unless muttering I am gonna make it through this year counts as a resolution.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Nope!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No.

5. What countries did you visit?

UK (both Scotland and England), France, the Netherlands, Morocco, Australia. I think that was it.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

Last year I said motivation, and I *did* get some of that! Rather erratic, but it happened. If I say 'a sex life' will I get an erratic one of those this year?

7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

The actual *date*? I am probably going to remember the 21st of December, for ridiculous fandom reasons. Also we had an awesome work party.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I can now SEE the end of my thesis ahead of me. I have to actually DO it but I can SEE it. Also I co-wrote an article on gifsets.

9. What was your biggest failure?

As for 2016: don't even. I don't wanna talk about it. Everything. Nothing.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Brains, so much brains. (As per 2015, then) Also I had too many colds.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Hmm. A new camera? A fair bit of new music?

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My boss has been pretty awesome this year, actually!

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

THE GLOBAL VOTING POPULATION. Except for Austria, you go, Austria.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent and living expenses. Burgers and air travel.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

STAR WARS. And the ice skating anime!

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

A *lot* of songs, because this year was the year I suddenly cared about music. Stevie Nicks and Don Henley's 'Leather and Lace' might be the stand-out, though. Or Halsey's 'Hold Me Down'.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier, but only because I had a slightly better time with winter depression and then I came home to the sun for christmas.
ii. thinner or fatter? fatter
iii. richer or poorer? Richer, but i have more large expenses coming up.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Cooking actual food instead of eating out.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Having controversial opinions on Tumblr

20. How did you spend Christmas?

ON A PLANE.

21. How will you be spending/ did you spend New Year's?

At the parental abode. We had one of Mum-s friends for dinner, and went to see the local kiddie fireworks, and then I stayed up doing memes.

22. Did you fall in love in 2015?

Ask me that in five years.

23. How many one-night stands?

None.

24. What was your favorite TV program(s)?

SO HAVE I MENTIONED YURI!!! ON ICE? Because suddenly I care about anime now. This is the first time in a very long time that I've consumed a media where I have no genre knowledge and no access to the source language. It's been a wild ride.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

No, but I like some people less.

26. What was the best book you read?

I think that might be Hutcheon & Flynn, 'A Theory of Adaptation'.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Gillian Welch, perhaps? I didn't fixate on one of her songs, but I acquired and loved several albums.

28. What did you want and get?

The sense that I can finish my PhD.

29. What did you want and not get?

Magic brain cures.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

Uhmm... Carol, perhaps?

31. What did you do on your birthday?

Nothing much, except for being annoyed that so many people thought doing nothing much on my birthday was sad.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Aside from magic brain cures, nothing much. Perhaps a really good housemate/cohabitation buddy, but being solo is better than having miscellaneous housemates.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

MORE STAR WARS T-SHIRTS.

34. What kept you sane?

Did fandom keep me sane or make it worse? Who knows.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Oscar Isaac, apparently. Not sure how that happened.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Oh god don't EVEN.

37. Who did you miss?

Kayloulee. Katie. Kristen. People whose names begin with K, apparently. (I said this last year and it still stands)

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Maybe some of my new fandom buddies - deputychairman and bomberqueen17 both stand out. Or new academic twitter pals - the individual known as T.S. Wingard is pretty spiffy.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016:

All those years of obscure nerding pay off. I mean. Most of the great academic stuff I did this year is just repurposed fannishness; and half the things my boss asked me to add to my work were things I already know of as fandom phenomena.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
This is pretty hard to do - it feels like the first half of 2016 is so sharply divided from the second.
Try the Mountain Goats: "People might laugh at your tattoos; when they do get new ones in completely garish hues"
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
2015 meme.

How many books read in 2016? According to Goodreads, 110. Aka, Quite A Few.

Fiction:Nonfiction ratio: 82:28 (the nonfiction category includes poetry, plays, issues of Meanjin, and work reading - plus there was plenty of work reading I didn't log at all)

Gender breakdown of authors: 21 by solo or collaborating male authors; 6 mixed-gender collections or magazine issues edited by men; one M&F co-edited collection; 1 mixed gender collection edited by a person of some variety of genderqueer that I can't easily determine (Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore edited a collection mostly about gay men, positions self as an insider among that community, but writes under a name originally used for drag; I can't find a recent piece authoritatively assigning any pronouns to them); 3 books by genderqueer authors; 2 all-woman collections; 75 books by solo or collaborating female authors.

So, still heavily skewed toward the ladies! A bit sad that the male-edited collections are mostly Auslit magazines or anthologies.

At this point last year I did a rough count of definitively non-white authors. Once again this is tricky: do I count which authors are white *in my context* or in theirs? I know Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick wrote of herself as white, but it would seem weird to count Ben Aaronovitch as white. CS Pacat is Aussie-Greek and emphatically declares herself as not white, but that makes it feel even weirder not to count Eve KS! Plus there are cases where... counting Banana Yoshimoto seems different to Ken Lui. One is a successful author in the majority culture of her native language, one is writing from an anglophone minority position. But the latter is writing in the globally dominant language and the other occupying the niche of 'foreign translations'.

Anyway, it only comes to 12 (excluding Eve KS and one US author whose bio says she was born in Jerusalem but about whom I know nothing else). And five of those books were by the same person. So only two more than last year. Some of the edited collections contained a good diverse representation, but as far as I know all the editors were white. Hmm. Note to self, improve on that score.


Favourite Book Read, subdivided:

Non-fiction for personal interest: Maybe Eve KS's 'Epistemology of the Closet'? That crosses the boundary between work and personal. Otherwise, the re-read of Holding the Man
Academic reading: Hutcheon & Flynn 'A Theory of Adaptation'. OH WOW so much wow.
Fiction for fun: Hard to say. I read a lot this year - most notably my rapid discovery of some really cool indie romance lines. That means though that few individual books stand out. I think the credit goes to Ken Liu's The Paper Menagerie, that was a really amazing short story collection.

Least Favourite: 'Summer's End' by Harper Bliss was a spectacularly meh romance novel.

Oldest book read: Excluding various medieval primary sources, I think that's Henry James' 'The Portrait of a Lady'

Newest book read: Excluding the issues of Meanjin, I think the book read most quickly on the heels of its publication date might have been the 'The Force Awakens' novelisation, and the latest released in the year was Kris Ripper's 'The Queer and the Restless'.

Longest Book Title: That would appear to be 'Fatherhood and its Representations in Middle English Texts' (Rachel Moss)

Shortest Title: Banana Yoshimoto, 'Kitchen' (Ursula Veron's 'Nurk' doesn't count, it has a subtitle)

How many re-reads? Only seven

Most books read by one author in the year? 8 novels or novellas by KJ Charles (via Samhain ebooks)

Any in translation? Banana Yoshimot's 'Kitchen' (and the // edition of La Manekine, I guess)

How many were from the library? Not enough.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
It's been something like six weeks since I did a WAYRW. Here, some reviews. Mostly short, because time has passed.

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I. loved. this. book. All the things I loved about the first book in the duology, plus some really solid character development work.



The Bluest EyeThe Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I read this one for a seminar I was auditing (thus the 'fiction-for-fun' tag is not entirely accurate). It was really, really good - particularly notable, I thought, for the well-written but not voyeuristic rape scene(s). I was very impressed with the links made between the father's early experience of consent violation himself and his later abuse of others, and the delicacy with which Morrison balanced that. Her afterword suggests she now would have done some of those things differently, but I'm impressed all the same.



The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a fun read! It was much stronger on the frame plot and weaker on the embedded narratives than I'd expected, but I enjoyed the characterisation and delicate interplay. I'm a bit iffy about the lead romance, but I suppose as someone who read the entire Captive Prince trilogy in 48 hours I can hardly talk.



The Best Australian Poems 2015The Best Australian Poems 2015 by Geoff Page

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


It's probably not that this collection was less memorable than its predecessors, but merely that I wasn't in a poetry-remembering mood for the second half of the year.



The Butch and the Beautiful  (Queers of La Vista, #2)The Butch and the Beautiful by Kris Ripper

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I read this one on the plane, and it fulfilled my plane reading requirements. I *loved* the subplots involving Jaq's teaching work. However, I don't think the main romance plot was sufficiently developed - the couple essentially only had one misunderstanding to overcome, and the majority of tension was derived from a fact about Jaq that was told, not shown (she shies away from commitment), and her angst about that. More of an up-and-down pattern in the main relationship would have strengthened it, I feel - eg, if they had had some sort of early demi-crisis on the theme of the Main Crisis, the stakes would be higher.



The Queer and the Restless  (Queers of La Vista, #3)The Queer and the Restless by Kris Ripper

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This one was better developed in terms of romance plot structure - there were early hiccups in the lead relationship, and a mini-version of the main crisis. The integration of the romance plot with the secondary plot was stronger, here, than in The Butch and the Beautiful, as it's the secondary plot that's causing Ed to behave unconstructively in his relationship. HOWEVER. The secondary plot was left hanging, and the novel integrated detective tropes so well that that was unsatisfactory. Plus, although obsession with murders isn't great, I think I have to come down on 'team ambition' rather than team 'quit your job and go on adventures'.

'Go on adventures in your statutory paid vacation time' doesn't seem to be an option, in America. Seriously, this guy had had his job for two years and hadn't taken any time off? WTF.



The Sleeper and the SpindleThe Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a present from friend R, who knows me well. I opened it in Geneva, so as not to have to carry it to Aus, and then promptly realised I needed to carry it home to share with Dad.

It's good. It's classic Gaiman, the illustrations are gorgeous. I was a leetle disappointed around about 2/3 of the way in when I thought it was going to give me lesbians, but I think I prefer the weird twisty version. I suppose weird and twisty with lesbians would be better still, but there was enough unmarked eroticism in what we got to please me anyway.



Nurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave ShrewNurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew by Ursula Vernon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This I got for my little sister for Christmas and it is VERY GOOD and I want to give copies to EVERYONE I KNOW at once. It's pretty obviously indebted to The Hobbit, but in a good way. I think the thing I loved best about it was the neat utilisation of all the apparently-extraneous details. Bilbo Baggins' pocket handkerchief is a sign of his fussy ways, but not actually a plot device; Nurk's clean socks ARE plot devices. Very little was mentioned in this book, other than in Grandmother Surka's journals, that didn't tie back to something else later on.

highlyeccentric: Manly cooking: Bradley James wielding a stick-mixer (Manly cooking)
(I've tried a few times this year to reverse-engineer this recipe from a basic pancake, and failed)

Makes 24

3 eggs
2 tsp honey
1/2 cup water
3 mashed bananas
1/4 cup SR flour
Dash extra baking soda
2 tbsp melted butter

Beat eggs, honey and water together. Mix in bananas, stir in flour and mix until blended. Cook as for regular pancakes.
highlyeccentric: Demon's Covenant - Kitchen!fail - I saw you put rice in the toaster (Demon's Covenant - kitchen!fail)
[personal profile] kayloulee made this for me when I turned up on short notice in Aus for a funeral in 2015. It is a good food.

The source recipe is this tasty and authentic Pan-Fried Honey Hoi Sin Noodle recipe at the Woks of Life. Some of the adulterations are K’s work, some are mine.

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: Leigh Bardugo's Crooked Kingdom, for funsies. A book called 'The Genesis of Narrative in Malory's Morte Darthe' for work. And I started The Bluest Eye, for a class I'm auditing.

Recently Finished: You'll note my pace has finally slowed, partly because work, and partly because I've taken up knitting again and so am watching more TV.

The Enchantment Emporium (Gale Women, #1)The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a second read (at least?) - I foolishly gave my copy away when I left Sydney, thinking I would not need to own such admittedly flimsy stuff. WRONG. I love flimsy stuff. Weird faintly incestuous polyamorous magic stag-people and their pies, A++.



The Wild Ways: An Enchantment Emporium Novel (The Enchantment Emporium Book 2)The Wild Ways: An Enchantment Emporium Novel by Tanya Huff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I loved this - I find Charlie a much more compelling protag than Allie, I loved 14-y-o dragon Jack, and I am up for anything involving improbable magic and celtic folk music. I... might need to go out to Newfoundland in the summer one year.

BUT. The selkie thing made it somewhat harder to ignore the Special White People fantasy of it all. (I mean, the first book is really the worst culprit - the whole 'tie to land' thing as if the land had no previous spiritual significance for anyone!) Scottish magic creatures in Canada... defending the environment (good) and protesting seal hunts (not actually good for the indigenous people around there!) I just... I'm a sucker for transplanted Celtic mythology, but so much of it is really spectacularly clueless, and these books are no exception.



The Future Falls: An Enchantment Emporium Novel (The Enchantment Emporium Book 3)The Future Falls: An Enchantment Emporium Novel by Tanya Huff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Okay, book. If you're going to make me ship a somewhat worrying older-cousin/younger-cousin wossname (which I'm a little disgruntled about, I *liked* their mentorly dynamic), and you're going to sell me on it... that is a terrible resolution full of plotholes, and without so much as a kissing by way of payoff.

Also the giant asteroid thing was a bit... much.


And I finally finished and scanned relevant bits of 'Founding Feminisms in Medieval Studies', for work. That made my 100th book logged in Goodreads this year - the first time I've met my nominal goal (I don't actually care about meeting the target, just about seeing the running tally throughout the year).

Up Next: Oh, so many bookses. I picked up a Mary Webb from the work shelf, I might turn to that next for light reading.




Music notes: it's a long story but I've just discovered the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and bought their album 'Genuine Negro Jig' for my birfday. Just. Do yourself a favour and go and enjoy their Bluegrass cover of Blu Cantrell's Hit Em Up Style. It's genius and I am in love. Particularly with the lead female singer, because of my established weakness for lady violinists. But the whole band is pretty awesome.

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