highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
What am I reading right now? A book on Fatherhood in ME lit; Christina Stead's 'For Love Alone'

Recently finished:

No books, but two volumes of Meanjin.

Meanjin (Vol 75, #1)Meanjin by Jonathan Green

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Enjoyable and interesting read, although I was not impressed with either the poetry or the fiction in this edition.

I particularly recommend:
Gabrielle Chan's memoir-essay Another Country
Michael Slater's essay Real Men Do Hit Women,
and Shannon Burns' The Lumpen Critic, on class anxiety and impostor syndrome in academia.

I also absolutely disrecommend this appalling essay. Which, in addition to being a poorly-veiled rant about the evils of women and minorities in literary discussions, apparently failed to cite its sources.



Meanjin 3 2012Meanjin 3 2012 by Sally Heath

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Moderately interesting. I particularly enjoyed this Rebe Taylor essay on the national memory of Truganini, and the uses and abuses thereof.



Up Next: Got a book on sibling love in modern American lit, for starters.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: Still plodding through Portrait of a Lady a few pages at a time, mostly in the bath. Current e-book is Christina Stead's For Love Alone, because an essay in Meanjin convinced me I should try it.

Recently Read:

Lives of Girls and WomenLives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I really liked this. It had one of the things I value in more or less realist modern fiction: a strong sense of place. It's set somewhere in rural Ontario, in the seventies, and it has... oh, I don't know, it's not as if I've ever been to rural Ontario, but the rural-ness felt *right*, the small town in a big continent thing.

The title is apt: there are men in this book, mostly as objects of annoyance and sexual curiosity, but the book is about girls and women, and the protagonist's measuring herself by and distinguishing herself from the women around her.



Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible ThingsFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I did like this, but perhaps not as much as I liked Let's Pretend This Never Happened. Sometimes Jenny Lawson's humour crosses lines into something that annoys rather than entertains or provides catharsis for me - I don't follow the blog, I like to keep my Blogess doses discrete. But then, it's worth it for the bright moments that shine through - the chapter on antipsychotics, for instance, is glorious.

An example of humour that annoys: most of the Australia chapter. It's not that I don't like jokes about Australia and at Australia's expense, it's just that most of these ones were... surface level. Oooh, kangaroos. And then there was a throw-away line Lawson having heard that Indigenous people used to commit cannibalism, sort of covered over with "can you blame 'em, i'd eat people who turned up on my land too", with *absolutely no consideration* of the racist, imperialist and often outright fabricated context in which these accounts circulate. Not being Australian is no excuse: you live in fucking America, you should have the common sense to think critically about any story that involves "savages" doing stereotypical "savage" things! (Mind you, in some places pre-colonial societies DID practice cannibalism and /or headhunting, and the wholesale banning thereof has been known to lead to social breakdown! It's an interesting topic and not one for throwaway jokes!)



Meanjin Vol 74, #4Meanjin Vol 74, #4 by Jonathan Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Subscribing to Meanjin was an excellent life choice. I particularly recommend the essay Sydney Takes Shape, which spurred me to start on Christina Stead.



For work: Jenkins, Convergence Culture, very good, very interesting; and Sexual Culture in the Literature of Medieval Britain, some good chapters and some good spots in the intro but also some deeply alarming ones. You don't just quote Zizek saying that protest against sexual harrassment is protest against sex itself and not INTERROGATE that, geez.

Up next: I am full of work energy and have borrowed MANY BOOKS out. Stuff on rewriting, translation, movie medievalism, the gentry in middle english romance, all kinds of stuff. I've got the autumn issue of Meanjin to keep me occupied backstage during Chitty Chitty next weekend, too.
highlyeccentric: Four years of college, and plenty of knowledge, have earnt me this USELESS degree! (Four years of college)
Currently Reading: A metric fuckload of fanfiction, mostly. And "Furiously Happy" by Jenny Lawson. It's been a while since I did these updates because I really have read very little since Jan.

Recently Finished:
Well, I gave up on Welcome to Nightvale the novel. Bah. Couldn't hold my attention.

I read The Scarlet Letter for work, and it is more interesting in that context than it was when it was supposedly leisure reading, but I don't want to review it.

Star Wars: The Force AwakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was... an odd reading experience. There was a lot about Alan Dean Foster's writing that I liked - his take on Rey on Jakku was particularly nuanced in ways I really wouldn't normally expect from a male sci-fi writer. I like his Finn much better than Rukka's, but he shortchanged Leia. I found the reading experience odd in that it was very hard to tell what was a cut scene (eg, the speeder chase on Starkiller) and what was Foster ad-libbing. Some of his ad-libbing, if that's what it was, was *excellent*. Either that or the final cut included lines that weren't as good as the original script.

What surprised me is how long it took me to finish it. I was expecting to binge-read it as I do fanfic, but nope. I read it slowly and critically. Huh.



Then CS Pacat, "Captive Prince", "Prince's Gambit" and "King's Rising".

Kings Rising (Captive Prince, #3)Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Let this stand as a review for the whole series.
I binge read this but I did not love it. Or I loved reading it but I didn't respect it? )
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
What are you currently reading?

Alan Dean Foster's Star Wars: The Force Awakens novelisation, mostly. Plus a book of Australian short stories. And some stuff for work.

Recently read?

Summer's EndSummer's End by Harper Bliss

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Blech. I mentioned to a friend I'd been reading some Riptide romances, and said friend recommended Harper Bliss for f/f romance. This was on kindle, so why not? Many reasons why not, it turns out: white people in an "exotic" location of emotional self-discovery or whatever. White people in S-E Asia who have lived there for many years and yet inexplicably still go swimming at midday (seriously, recipe for DYING OF SUNBURN, much?).

Many of these things I could overlook. I could even, on the basis of genre, overlook "healthy summer romance turns into co-dependent long-distance wtf". But if I wanted Magical Healing Cock (seriously! It was a dildo, but nevertheless, it was a Magical Healing Dildo) I'd go read early 2000s slash fiction.



Star Wars: Before the AwakeningStar Wars: Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was fun! I wasn't sold on Rucka's Finn story - especially not when Alan Dean Foster's Finn POV snippets in the novelisation are much more plausible, and do more with less - but Rey and Poe's were both great.



Funeral Games: A Novel of Alexander the Great: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC)Funeral Games: A Novel of Alexander the Great: A Virago Modern Classic by Mary Renault

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Hmmm. I'm not sure that I liked the super-wide scope of this one, with so many focalising characters. It was necessary, I suppose, to encompass the full political spectrum, but it felt like it was short-changing most of the possible character work. Bagoas, in particular, had no character development. I felt like I would have rather read a novel solely about Ptolemy, or solely about Euridyce, than one which tried to do all these things at once: but neither of those would necessarily have been a good conclusion to the Alexander trilogy.



Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: 200 Recipes for Healthy and Hearty One-Pot Meals That Are Ready When You AreFresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: 200 Recipes for Healthy and Hearty One-Pot Meals That Are Ready When You Are by Robin G. Robertson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Less interesting than I'd hoped.



Up Next:

Well, I bought a compendium of novelisations of the prequel trilogy, which might allow me to revisit Attack of the Clones with less pain than would be induced by having to watch Hayden Christian and remember that I once found him attractive.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: "Funeral Games", the last of Renault's Alexander novels; "Something Special, Something Rare", an antho of Australian short stories; and "Welcome to Nightvale", which is still like eating prawn crackers: crunchy, tasty in small doses, but utterly lacking in substance.

Recently Finished:

The Fifth Elephant (Discworld, #24)The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was a re-read, but for the first time in a long time. I hadn't noticed, when I read Snuff, how much of Snuff was a reprise on themes from this one.

Things that are good about this book: Carrot. Bless his little socks, he's perfectly and earnestly genuine in his praise of Angua's brother, the *prize winning* sheepdog. But he's not actually simplistic: he has a carefully sorted out set of priorities and values that aren't merely adhering to simple rules or regulations. I'd forgotten that he'd resigned his post in this one.

noodling around )

A Modern Way to Eat: Over 200 Satisfying, Everyday Vegetarian Recipes (That Will Make You Feel Amazing)A Modern Way to Eat: Over 200 Satisfying, Everyday Vegetarian Recipes by Anna Jones

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Haven't actually cooked anything yet, but from reading, impressions:

I’m pretty happy with this cookbook. It’s a bit fussier than I usually am (i see no reason to purchase quinoa, or chestnut flour), but more practical than, say, Yottam Ottolenghi.

On the other hand, it got my hackles up right from the introduction, where Jones explains her food choices in terms of “too much healthy food leaves me miserably hungry, but equally I don’t like to rely on a lot of heavy carbs or dairy...”. I just... if it’s leaving you miserably hungry then it is not a healthy diet! OK so you don’t like heavy carbs, fine, but your definition of “healthy” needs rethinking. I’m also not keen on the fetish Jones seems to have for feeling “light” and praising foods as “light”. On the one hand... ok, many people have a personal preference against rich or carb-laden foods, for reasons of digestive comfort or whatever. But fact is fetishising “light” food translates to performing food virtuosity and implied thin-ness.

The Giant, O'BrienThe Giant, O'Brien by Hilary Mantel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I... don't know what to make of this. It was interesting. The characterisation was interesting. The description was interesting. The interlace of 18th c cultural and political issues was interesting.

Problem: there wasn't really a plot. It's a short novel, but such plot as it had would be better suited to a short story.

Close to Spider ManClose to Spider Man by Ivan E. Coyote

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Now this, I really enjoyed. It had two of my most favouritest things: a strong sense of place, and queers.

The only reason I didn't give it five stars was that I found myself *irritated* by the fact that it's short story collection, memoir, and novel all at once. The use of first person means that few of the stories have a named protag, although in all of them she's a gender-nonconforming AFAB person. In one she's named Ivan. It seems logical to read them all as the same person, but in that case, is it fiction or essays?

That confusion is probably part of the Art. But it annoyed me.


Also finished: a short romance novel, and the ST:TFA prequel novella thing.

Up Next: I have the ST:TFA novelisation on my kobo. Tempted to fix my "haven't seen all the prequels" problem via the novelisations.
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
For some reason I feel like books read were even bigger figures than usual in my life this year. Possibly because I have really struggled to care about my thesis. Maybe because I didn't really go head over heels for any media fandoms until Star Wars in December. Maybe because I spent a lot of time on planes. Who knows?

Anyway, I swear I used to do a book meme, but I can't find it, so I've taken a list of qs from Catherine Pope.

How many books read in 2015? According to goodreads, 87 books. Well, it says 86 but I only just filed one of my academic books, it hasn't updated yet. I don't file all my academic reading on there, but that's a good enough barometer.

Fiction:Nonfiction ratio: Huh, I'll have to count this one up. 71:16, but again, I don't log all my academic non-fiction. And some which I do I haven't read cover-to-cover, so that's a bit fuzzy.

Male:Female author ratio: 20 male : 2 m&f coauthored : 65 female (of which one now IDs as genderqueer, but was IDing as a butch woman at time of publication; three are woman-edited collections including work or substantial interview material from some men, all of which I think were likely queer men, and some non-binary people)

I... had not realised my reading list is so heavily skewed to women! That makes me want to track my academic reading more assiduously, as it would tip the balance back - but I'm not sure it would be enough to produce the usual majority of dudes.

On the other hand I only counted five authors I know to be non-white (six if you include Melina Marchetta, which for this purpose I reckon you should, because of how race politics in Australia are not the same as the US), plus two or three who I have a feeling might be Jewish but don't know for sure.

Favourite Book Read:
Ooohkay let's subdivide this:

Non-fiction for personal interest: Maybe Polikoff, 'Beyond Straight (and Gay) Marriage' - it put into (now slightly out of date) words a lot of things qualms I have with the marriage movement.
Academic reading: hum. Rosenwein, 'Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages', maybe? I didn't even list that one on goodreads until I was answering this. Oops.
Fiction for fun: I think the two Renaults from the Alexander trilogy, Fire from Heaven and The Persian Boy, take the biscuit.

Least Favourite: Dawn French's 'Dear Sylvia' is an awful book that should feel bad.

Oldest book read: Excluding various medieval primary sources, you mean? Looks like it was Emily of New Moon, pub 1923.

Newest book read: If you mean read most quickly on the heels of its publication date, that would be the two New Smut Project compilations in early April (publ late March). The book released latest in the year was... I was going to say The Shepherds Crown (publ August, read October), but, embarrassingly, it was one of the Riptide romance e-books, Stuck Landing. It was a pretty good read, too. Totally worth the nine dollars or whatever it cost.

Longest Book Title: I had thought this would be academic, but no, it was The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window And Disappeared.

Shortest Title: David Auburn, Proof

How many re-reads? Sixteen, plus I think I mustn't have logged my audiobook re-read of Wolf Hall.

Most books read by one author in the year? This was the year of Kerry Greenwood, apparently. Ten all up, most of them while travelling.

Any in translation? I think only The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared.

How many were from the library? Not enough. Plenty of the not-logged academic reading, of course. Of the ones I logged, only three, and one of those I subsequently purchased. The uni's english lit collection does not meet my requirements for leisure reading, I'm afraid, and I refuse to pay to use the American church's library (I could spend that eighty bucks on, oh, books!)
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: The Fifth Elephant (not Jingo, why did I think I had ordered Jingo?), my Christmas Eve pressie to myself. Convergence Culture. Technically, Welcome to Nightvale, but i got bored after a few pages and will try again some other time.

Recently Finished:

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next, #1)The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was a re-read, with newly-purchased e-book. It must have been four years or so since I last read any Fforde, and that is just too long.

I cannot review in any serious mode. It probably has weaknesses. I don't care, I can't remember them. I can't explain it's brilliance, either, except to say that when I owned the hard copy I photocopied the poster advertising TOAST (approved by the TOAST MARKETING BOARD) out of the back and pinned it to my walls everywhere i went. And I d0n't even really like toast. Just. The delightful surrealness that's only a tiny step from plausible (to anyone who sees the number of adds for APPLES or BANNANAS sponsored by their respective peak bodies in Sydney, at any rate). The genetically re-engineered dodos. The fact that this is not set in the "future" but the mid-eighties. I can only flail.

The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and RealityThe Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality by Rachel Hills

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I keep dithering on the rating for this. I *enjoyed reading* this. It told me nothing I did not already know (except for tidbits about frat culture, meh), and didn't always manage things I knew in newly insightful ways. But there were a lot of times I pointed at the page and said "yes this!". Hills is quite good at breaking down theoretical frameworks into accessible chunks, but then a lot of her data/stories from interviews is just... cycles of stuff, under-analysed.

I felt like I was not the target audience for this book (I am too academic and abstruse) but I *have been* the target audience. This book would have been very much what I needed 5-7 years ago.

It's also really quite surprising that, in a book about sex, she talked to only one asexual person and no one in a poly relationship? She talks ABOUT polyamory, but not *to* poly practitioners, and although she's read widely on a bunch of feminist topics, does not seem to have read secondary material on either asexual relationship styles or poly ones. Which... given both of these groups do a *lot* of talking about how sex doesn't have to be the crux of any given relationship, from very different perspectives, that omission seems odd.

Note to self- excellent summary of 'heteronormativity' on p. 79. Use on undergrads.

NamelessNameless by Sam Starbuck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Oh, this was *pretty*. It isn't perfect - its pacing is slow and at times non-existent. But it's so pretty.

As usual I'm disappointed with the barely-thereness of the romantic plot: I actually feel like it would have been a stronger ending *without* any kissing. Or if the romance had had more weight earlier. And this time I'm side-eying the Miraculous Healing scene - I feel like it would have held enough weight if Lukas had merely Magically Fixed the problem-in-the-moment, not the problem-for-good. I mean, people with chronic heart conditions still get to decide they *choose* their lives? And could even manage to have a boyfriend inna big city! That could've strengthened the flimsy relationship conclusion, too.


Not substantial enough to review individually: Starstruck, There's Something About Ari and Stuck Landing, by L.A. Witt, L.B. Gregg and Lauren Gallagher respectively. All of them are low-priced gay romance ebooks from Riptide Publishing, all set in the same "Bluewater Bay" story-world. I really liked Witt/Gallagher's work (same person, different names, one for m/m and one for f/f stories), whereas I won't be picking up any more LB Gregg after There's Something About Ari, which was a hot mess of inexplicably poor characterisation and messy plotting.

Witt/Gallagher seems to do a fine line in "Uptight Man/Woman With Issues Must Overcome Issues To Woo A Man/Woman Who Is The Embodiment of All Those Issues", which is basically what I buy Riptide books for. Closeted man must overcome fears to woo the fearlessly out! Biphobic lesbian must get her head out of her arse to win love of hot bisexual stuntwoman! I'm cool with this. And deeply amused by the Totally-Not-Teen-Woolf-RPF "statistically improbable numbers of gays make a werewolf show" setting.

My one problem with the Witt/Gallagher ones is that Levi's bisexual-or-not status seems to flipflop wildly. I mean, I could grok "man identifies as gay although bisexual is technically more accurate", but I cannot grok that his *ex-girlfriend* and closest female friend hasn't figured out he is not totally unattracted to women? The scene were he gave said female friend a dressing-down for her biphobia re: her current ladyinterest was delightful, but the the entire rest of the narrative of Stuck Landing presumes he's gay, both before and after that conversation. It's weird.

Up Next: ... idek. Finishing the current ones, then stocking up e-books for travel, I guess.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Also I have read very little in the last month.

What are you currently reading: pottering through Portrait of a Lady, still; made inroads on 'The Sex Myth', and right now rolling around gleefully in a newly-purchased e-book of "The Eyre Affair". Plus for work I'm getting back to Convergence Culture.

What have you recently finished reading: ie, in the last month.

The Persian Boy: A Novel of Alexander the Great: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC)The Persian Boy: A Novel of Alexander the Great: A Virago Modern Classic by Mary Renault

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I liked this *very much*. Renault seems to have got over her weird euphemistic compulsions around sex; Bagoas makes a great narrator; and my fixation on historical accuracy when it comes to minor details is pleased with the fact that the horses have no stirrups, and this is regularly indicated without mentioning the word 'stirrup'.

I just. Alexander. D'aww. Hephastion. D'aww. Bagoas, triple D'aww.



The Secret RiverThe Secret River by Kate Grenville

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I... don't know what to make of this. I was gripped by it, and spent a lot of time trying to track geographical details on the Hawkesbury via googlemaps. It's so easy to forget how *isolated* those parts were from the main settlement. On the other hand, I do not understand why Grenville has her protag trade coal with a penal colony in Port Stephens. There is neither penal colony nor coal in Port Stephens - that's Newcastle, any basic wikipedia user can tell you that.
spoilers, inconclusive thoughts on race dynamics )



What will you read next? I bought myself a copy of Jingo for Christmas. :D
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.

I remain utterly baffled that you could NOT BE AT ALL UNNERVED THAT YOUR BOYFRIEND IS WORKING FOR A FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE AGENCY.



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: 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: 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.
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: 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: 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: 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.

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