highlyeccentric: Manuscript illumination - courtiers throwing snowballs (medieval - everybody snowball)
Currently Reading: Too many things for work. A selected-poems book of Carol Ann Duffy's work. The Rose & The Dagger, which is the sequel to the YA Sheherazade one called The Wrath and the Dawn.

Recently Finished:

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1)A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is a reasonably good book. On the other hand, I really didn't need another christian-allegory spec fic in my life. At least Susan Cooper has a good world-built reason for DARKNESS SWALLOWING EVERYTHING MUST BE RESISTED CAN NEVER BE DEFEATED, and also she has Merlin.

Protagonist: a+ grumpy girl child
11-y old heterosexual romance plot: unnecessary and annoying.
Protagonist magical-genius younger brother: great character, but gave me a weird 'oh hai autistic stereotype' feeling.

I appreciate the effort to make the mother an Interesting Career Scientist, too, but ffs, you can't have a physics research lab in your basement.

I feel like this Toast piece on AWIT reflects probably a better reading of the book than I have: http://the-toast.net/2014/11/12/a-wri...



Meanjin Autumn 2017 (Vol. 76, Issue 1)Meanjin Autumn 2017 by Jonathan Green

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This wasn't a great issue, IMHO. I was displeased with it from the outset, where in the opening pages the results of the Dorothy Porter Poetry Prize were announced. The announcement noted the huge disparity between #s of men and women (candidates? Shortlist? Unclear), and then offered absolutely nothing further. They had thoughts on why there were more poems about animals than politics, but not about why more men than women, and gave no indication of any desire to do anything ABOUT that.

I really enjoyed Matthew Fishburn's essay on the collecting of indigenous skulls (by white people) in early NSW.

Andrea Baldwin's memoir-essay Occasionally, A Stranger to Watch the Stars With is worth a read.

John Clarke's Commonplace has some interesting gobbets in it.

Otherwise, I was not hugely impressed by any of this issue - particularly not the poetry.



The Dishonesty of DreamsThe Dishonesty of Dreams by A.J. Odasso

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I loved this. Not, perhaps, as much as I loved Devil's Road Down -I may never love any poetry collection like I love that chapbook - but this is a more mature style of poetry, and contains a number of my favourites, like Carnal Knowledge, and Five Times I Lived By Water.



Up Next: I've got a short-story collection by Ivan E Coyote near to hand...




Music notes: New Paramore album is excellent (I missed them the first time around but I am enjoying this revival). Under the influence of a fandom chain of suggestion I bought two Adam Lambert albums and am enjoying 'For Your Entertainment' extensively.
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: 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: 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.
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
Currently Reading: Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen. GB, The Style of Gestures (nearly finished!). A few other things on hiatus.

Recently Finished:
Crimes of the HeartCrimes of the Heart by Beth Henley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


On the one hand: damn, this is a fantastically written play. It's what my lighting mentor J dislikes most in plays: emotion-driven plot about women. A++. It does interesting stuff with class and gender - the two men who come onsstage are not the most important men in the plot, really: the director of the GEDS production described those more important men as 'forces of nature' offstage that the female protags have to deal with.

However.

However.

One of those 'forces of nature' is a fifteen year old black boy having an affair with an older white woman, who gets next to no say in his fate (which is determined by a white dude), and who is treated as an adult - and a sexually exciting one - by the women who discuss him.

We did this play in partnership with the US Mission and some UN gender program, and there was a special Q&A on Thursday night. Whole room full of Americans (except on stage, actually - two Aussies in a six-person cast!), and NO ONE brought this up. No one pointed out the racist elephant in the wings.

Folks, its 2016 and african-american boys get shot in the street because they're deemed adult and threatening, and you don't have *any* qualms about this play doing the same thing AND ensuring he never comes on stage or speaks AND sexualising a CHILD? No one noticed the white lady protag committed STATUTORY RAPE and the boy was punished for it? Oooohkay then.



Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This remained VERY GOOD FOR ME in the tropes department. I mean. Angsty denialist non-platonic but not-sexual bedsharing. I am so there. Also, there was a plot. It was a good plot! It had MANY women in it! They were all interesting! None of them died to further the Hero(ine)'s emotional wossame! Chaol is back; Chaol is awesome.

I retain one pet peeve: WHERE does this society get its chocolate from? Possibly cocoa plants grow on the Southern Continent, but the existence of cocoa doesn't give you tasty chocolate treats to share in your female homosocial bonding time. You need cocoa, and industrialisation, and milk solids, and a bunch of other stuff.



Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5)Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


For some reason I thought this was the finale of a 5-book series, but NO.

I find this very upsetting. Very, very upsetting. Still. Props for Interesting Ladies and Tropey Magic Sex.

I tell you what though this book really shows off Maas' skills with paralipsis (where a narrator holds back information). It's not easy to do and do well in close 3p POV - characters naturally think about their stuff! She made good use of it in the first few books, esp vis-a-vis Celeana's identity: but in those cases, it was usually information Celeana was avoiding thinking about or had actively repressed (best way to pull off close 3p POV paralipsis); and the audience always ended up with more information than either Dorian or Chaol. This time, it was things Aelin was *actively plannning* that got elided, and the audience knew no more than the rest of them. The effect was... odd. It made it hard to get a grip on Aelin - but I think that was the point. We end this book feeling like Aelin lied to *us* as well as everyone else. Chaol's earlier concerns make a LOT more sense, and... I think the same paralipsis technique is being deployed in Dorian's POV. Either that or he's gone completely passive and traumatised, which would be understandable but less fun. I'm working on the theory he is or will start scheming some time soon. And he'd be justified in it.



Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Oooh, now, this. I wasn't as emotionally INTO this as I was into the Sarah J Maas ones I finished right before it - but perhaps that was whiplash, coming off the emotional rollercoaster of Empire of Storms.

This is a very *good* book. Being less emotionally caught up in it, I had more time to admire the work, which is solid: great worldbuilding, skillful use of in-media-res (starting in the middle of things - well, at the beginning of the heist but in the middle of all the character's complex individual plots) and analepsis (flashback type thing) to fill in the gaps and deepen the characterisation. Also, good work on the ladies. And some really impressively disturbing elements - HOW did she think of Kaz' Traumatic Backstory? HOW?

Will definitely read Crooked Kingdom, but I need a break for a bit.



Meanjin Spring 2016 (Vol 75, Issue 3)Meanjin Spring 2016 by Jonathan Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I desperately awaited this arriving and it did not disappoint! The lead essay by Lauren Rosewarne on 'The Rise of the Single Woman' was much better than its short-excerpted SMH version. Greg Jericho's essay on politics, polling and data wonks was very interesting. (Both unavailable on public web, so no link) Melissa Howard's piece on the court of family violence was beautifully constructed. The fiction I was less enamoured with, this issue.



Up Next: I need a break from YA fantasy, so the next up will probably be fiction in hard copy (the YA fantasy stuff I read in e-book). I have 'Patience and Sarah', and 'At Swim, Two Boys', and a handful of non-fiction also waiting to go.




Music notes: back to fixation on country music, apparently. I blame the sound program for Crimes of the Heart - I bought a Dolly Parton album and a June Carter Cash one because of key songs being used in that play.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: A stack of stuff on adaptation and the like, for work. Also Patricia C Wrede's 'Searching for Dragons' and Caroline Lamb's 'Glenarvon', both of which are great in their own ways.

Recently finished: A couple of linked short-stories in the Charm of Magpies world, which I won't bother reposting.

Still working through a backlog of reviews of cheap m/m romance books to post:

Think of EnglandThink of England by K.J. Charles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was *interesting*. The thriller plot was just substantial enough to hold up, and the character work between the two leads was fascinating - I really enjoyed the "flamboyant dandy is actually dangerous as hell" aspect. A+ good work.



A Fashionable Indulgence (Society of Gentlemen, #1)A Fashionable Indulgence by K.J. Charles

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I very nearly didn't continue with this series. Regency romance tropes don't do it for me, in and of themselves, and this one... it was readable. The romance plot didn't grab me, but the cast of characters was interesting; the underlying thread of Decent Historical Grounding re: early 19th c dissidents kept me going.



A Seditious Affair (Society of Gentlemen, #2)A Seditious Affair by K.J. Charles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This I liked better than A Fashionable Indulgence - it really picked up the historical political subplot and ran with it. The tension between the two protags, and their respective politics, was very well done - well enough done that I'm willing to swallow the improbable happy ending.



A Gentleman's Position (Society of Gentlemen, #3)A Gentleman's Position by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Terrible cover design aside, I LOVED THIS BOOK. I loved it so much. I read it twice in a row. I do not feel like trying to explain *why* I loved it would do much for my dignity, but I really really loved it.



Holding the ManHolding the Man by Timothy Conigrave

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I did not mean to binge-re-read this book, but I bought it to double-check a fact in the movie and accidentally lost a lot of Saturday to it. On the bright side, that allowed me to develop a lot of fine-grained observations about the memoir-to-film adaptation choices, and the difference between those and a novel-to-film adaptation, and so on.

I first read this some time during my masters - probably early on, since I haven't listed it on Goodreads. It's... a very important book. It's well-written, engaging, and all round good reading. But it's also important to me in being very specifically queer and *Australian*. For instance, I realised while taking meditation classes at ACON in Sydney that those classes must be the direct descendent of the classes which Conigrave describes himself and his partner as taking, shortly after their AIDS diagnosis.

There's also something generationally specific, I think. I came out well after the AIDS crisis had passed. I don't even think that, growing up, I was aware of AIDS as a specifically "gay disease" - I suspect the good work of the AIDS Action Councils and various Australian governments on destigmatising and educating through the 90s must have had something to do with that, because I can't imagine my school passing up a chance to vilify teh gayz. And yet AIDS, insofar as I thought about it growing up, was a risk of drug use, not a Gay Evil. I don't know anyone who died of AIDS; I do know that the treatments now are sufficient that a positive diagnosis is by no means a death sentence. This book carries the weight of the history I missed, the men and women whose lives and activism brought us here; and it's specifically *Australian* as it does so. That's important to me.



Meanjin (Vol 75, #2)Meanjin by Jonathan Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


All-round a good edition, but I don't think I was in the right space to fully appreciate it.

I found the short story The Voice, about a boy soprano who revolts at the idea of losing his identity as a soprano... interesting. I think there's probably a very fine line between an interesting story about identity, desire and fear of puberty and something that's trivialising to trans experience, though, and I'm not sure where the line lies.

The lead article by Mark Davis on Australian culture wars was very engaging, and informative, and so on, but I don't know what to *do* at the end of reading it.

There was a most aggravating article by Glyn Davis and Ian Anderson on indigenous self-determination, which presented me with interesting historical figures I didn't know about, but also grossly misused the case for self-determination to argue against the provision of robust federal support for indigenous communities, and to present independent commercial enterprise as the only route to self-respect for indigenous people. I don't know anything about Ian Anderson but I should've known better than to read anything by Glyn Davis except with the deepest suspicion.

Recent Meanjins have been featuring sketches from a book called 'Their Brilliant Careers' (Ryan O'Neill), of fake biographies of caricatured Australians. This issue had a profile of footballer John "Jonno" Johnson, which. Wow. I grew up in Knights territory at the height of the Johns brothers' success, and wow, that is an ON POINT satire.



Up Next: Well, I have 1-3 of 'Whyborne and Griffin', for my next cheap m/m e-book binge. But I'm hoping to get through the Enchanted Forest Chronicles first...




Music notes: Have become abruptly obsessed with James Bay. Bought the album a while back, liked it, but only started binge-listening to it this past week.
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
Hello hello, once again it's July and I have read a GREAT BIG STACK OF BOOKS.

Currently reading: Ben Aaronovitch, Foxglove Summer; Meanjin 75.2

Recently read: You know how I said I was going to read Phryne Fisher while travelling? Yeah. I didn't. First I read a stack of magical-realism queer erotica set in London, and it gave me the literary equivalent of the "at once, to Pink Flloyd!" reaction I get from listening to MCR: at once, to Ben Aaronovitch! I almost resisted, but then I was *in* London watching my Dad have the surreal experience you have when you, an antipodean, arrive in London and find that the reality does actually look quite like the version in Neverwhere. I already own a hard copy of Neverwhere, so do not need a kobo copy, but the e-books of the Rivers of London books, they called out to me. So I bought them all.

Reviews, going back to where I last left off:

The Night FairyThe Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Update: gave this as present to Miss Seven for her birthday; re-read it before doing so. All sentiments of previous review still stand.
----
Oh, this was absolutely adorable. Flory, an injured juvenile night fairy, adapts to life in a giantess' garden. Flory's quite a character: she's not nice, nor often kind, but is engaging to read about. Even her acts of generosity don't seem to come as *kindness* so much as determined altruism.

I'm not convinced that the feature of the ending wherein she discovers her wings are growing back was actually necessary. She'd made friends and found several alternative means of mobility - adding 'and also her wings are cured!' doesn't add anything, and does repeat the magically-walking-cripple trope.

The illustratons were wonderful.



The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies, #1)The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Oh now this I liked a *lot*. It had something that the Alpennia romances don't: grit. It's not *sweet*, and it's not really a romance, it's definitely erotica. It was gritty, not just in the sex - there's quite a lot of blood and violence involved in the general plot, too.

The magical realism worldbuilding was good, for the price mark; the detective plot sound, and didn't try to over-reach itself.



The Mystic Marriage (Alpennia, #2)The Mystic Marriage by Heather Rose Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Now this was gripping! Plot solid, world-building solid, and character work really interesting. I love that the book took a difficult-to-like character from the previous book, and while making her *sympathetic* did not necessarily make her *nice*. Some of my quibbles re: the ending of book one were also smoothed over, as Jones has clearly put actual thought now into how you go about constructing a partnership as ladies of independent means in the 17th century.



A Case of Possession (A Charm of Magpies, #2)A Case of Possession by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Excellent follow-up to the Magpie Lord, in every possible way.



A Case of Spirits (A Charm of Magpies, #2.5)A Case of Spirits by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Cute, short, and a bit lighter than the others. Good work for a short splice-in story.



Flight of Magpies (A Charm of Magpies, #3)Flight of Magpies by K.J. Charles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This one I am less happy with, largely because of the ending gambit. Obviously, IRL, if a job is making someone unhappy and their significant other has the money to support them, well, quitting is fair enough.

But I wanted Stephen to be Magical London's Commander Vimes, dammit. And I *don't* count 'rich lover whisks poor clerk off his feet' as a good romantic conclusion.

The gritty, not-sweet aspects of the sex that I liked in the previous two pushes a little further into unhealthy here, too. Not badly written, but a little more difficult to get into (for me, at this time, idek).



(FYI, the Alpennia books are on Amazon and Kobo; the Charm of Magpies ones are at Samhain Publishing's website)

Stacked-up reviews of the Rivers of London series to come when I've finished Foxglove Summer.

Up Next: I got partway into KJ Charles' Jackdaw before buying up the Rivers of London books, so I'll go back to that. I've got a couple of books to read asap for work, and I seem to have bought Gentleman Bastard in a fit of... something.




Music notes:

Fixated on Amy MacDonald at the moment. Picked up the best of Katrina and the Waves, because of a craving for 'Walking on Sunshine'. Not sure if that warranted buying the ENTIRE CD, but anyway.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
It's been nearly a month since I put one of these up, because it's been nearly a month since I finished a book that wasn't for work!

What are you reading: I'm actually reading Portrait of a Lady in larger chunks instead of a few pages a week, at the moment. I'm finding the second half more interesting than I did last time I read it. For work, I'm between major books at the moment; and for my own peculiar purposes I'm reading Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closest.

Oh, and I'm gritting my teeth and ploughing through Stead's For Love Alone. Annoying love interest man has just left Sydney, so maybe the going will get easier. I just. I'm torn between wanting to SLAP him, wanting to SLAP the protagonist for wanting to shag him, and knowing exactly why she does because. Well. It's like Stead reached forward in time, extracted my terrible taste in men, and put it in a novel.

Recently finished:

The Essential Vegetarian CookbookThe Essential Vegetarian Cookbook by Bay Books

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Picked up from the work shelf - I don't think much of the Asian section; the pies and roasts look good, but overall, the collections not ideal for cooking-for-one. It might go BACK to the work shelf.



The Best Australian Poems 2014The Best Australian Poems 2014 by Geoff Page

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Very interesting, as usual! This was a gift from clavicularity, who accepted my peculiar request without question.

I'm posting some selections to speculumannorum.tumblr.com over the next few weeks. I particularly liked Victoria McGrath's The Last Say.


Something Special, Something Rare: Outstanding short stories by Australian womenSomething Special, Something Rare: Outstanding short stories by Australian women by Black Inc.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


It took me a while to get into this, but in May I started reading the collection in earnest and really enjoyed it. The collection did okay, I think, at representing 15 or so years of writing, a range of ethnicities (both authors and protags) and a couple of queer protags (I do not know about authors). I was a bit uncomfortable with Gillian Mears' 'La Moustiquiare', a story about an indigenous female lackey and the dying stockman who kept her as servant. It didn't strike me as *racist*, it was perfectly aware the girl was being exploited and so on, but I'm still not sure that was a white woman's story to tell. (Compare it to Tara Jean Mears' 'Cloud Busting' - that left Mears' work in the dust. Surely there are other short stories by indigenous women and about indigenous women that could better complement it than Mears' work.)

Particular highlights:
Gillian Essex's 'One of the Girls', a story about a mother feeling out-of-place at her daughter's concert, and about fragile connections between family.
Fiona MacFarlane's 'The Movie People', which performed a delightful transition from realist to absurd.
Karen Hitchcock's 'Forging Friendship', for the anachronous narration and oblique way of dealing with queer realisation.
Alice Pung's 'Letter to A', which is just... arresting, sharp, beautifully worded.
Anna Krien's 'Flicking the Flint', which was tough going - it's a story about domestic violence and it doesn't have a morally satisfying conclusion - but very very well done.



And for work, recently: bits of Denis Flannery, 'On Sibling Love and Queer Attachment in American Writing' (interesting but densely psychoanalytical); bits of Micheline Wandor's edited collection 'On Gender and Writing', personal essays by 80s feminist authors (I wanted the Angela Carter essay, which was good; others also good; whole thing every 80s). Finally finished Rachel Moss 'Fatherhood and its Representations in Middle English Texts': SO GOOD.

Plus I tore through Phillipe de Beaumanoire's romance La Manekine (// OF and Eng text and trans), which was a riot. I have never seen a medieval text go so all out on the 'erotic abstinence' thing with a MARRIED COUPLE. (Adulterous lovers? Sure. Virgin saints? Sure. Married couple reunited after seven years' exile and yet waiting until the end of Lent? That's a new one on me - really well crafted, too)

Up Next: For funsies, I'm not sure: I have a few e-books, but I'm giving myself iPhone RSI, so need to pick up something hard copy. For work, I've found an early modern life of St Dymphna and I am going to have a TIME with it, I tell you. Plus a stack of books on Emaré, and Cinderella topoi, and the like.

Current and recent music notes: Gonna add this in here, because I seem to be more into music than I used to be.

- bought a triple CD set of Bushwhackers songs, great life choice. There are a LOT of songs about masculinity and sheep. When I start a folk band singing queered-up versions of traditional ballads we are also going to sing a folked-up version of ACDC's 'Dirty Deeds' and we're gonna call it Manly Deeds, Done With Sheep.
- really loving Gillian Welch.
- bought some Ian Moss CDs (iTunes) and am enjoying that too: I'm a bit obsessed with 'Tucker's Daughter', which was my favourite song when I was... four or five, I think.

Fact

Nov. 22nd, 2014 06:03 pm
highlyeccentric: A bare-chested man punching the air: ladies' stay-up stockings on his arm (Lingerie Fuck You)
I am really enjoyin' the album Pretty In Scarlett by Murder Ballads. Featuring some folk songs, some prog-rock, and The Ballad of Captain America's Disapproving Face.

I reckon [profile] kabarett ought to check it out. Possibly also the rest of you.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
GUESS WHO SAW GREAT BIG SEA LAST NIGHT? IN THEIR FIRST-EVER SYDNEY SHOW?

YES ME. Also [personal profile] kayloulee. And it was fucking amazing.

Here is a long ramble! )

TL;DR I had a fantastic time and we sang and danced and it was fantastic.
highlyeccentric: Sir Gawain: as gay as christmas - especially at christmas (Gawain)
What the hell, I'm procrastinating!



That's actually the only 'Australian' carol I'm halfway fond of. Although I have fond memories of this one, which was my minister's favourite when I was in high school. The actual song's pretty twee, though.



This one I have loved since I first got my hands on the Medieval Baebes - but especially since I discovered that it is a great tradition amongst Australian uni choristers to sing the Gaudete with ridiculous things to the verses. Tt's close enough to the common metre that you can squish things in. The Australian national anthem. The Ring Poem. A random string of numbers which someone once arranged in just the right order, and which many choristers have now memorised. And the ever popular "Mary had a little lamb / she also had a duck. / She put them on the mantelpiece and taught them how to GAUDETE, GAUDETE CHRISTUS EST NAUTUS..."



And this is a new one - I first heard it last weekend, at the SUMS Carolfest. I find the idea of people running all the way from England to Bethlehem with torches somewhat amusing.

Speaking of amusing, they also performed The Angel Gabriel. I have it on good authority that there are members of SUMS who have never sung 'most highly favoured lady', preferring 'most highly flavoured gravy', or, in some cases, 'most highly flavoured lady'.

Most hated carol? If I never hear "So this is Christmas/ War is over" again it will BE TOO SOON.
highlyeccentric: Firefley - Kaylee - text: "shiny" (Shiny)
OMG. I may be showing my age here, but KILLING HEIDI. I whacked Reflector onto my MP3 for the hell of it, and damn, I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed them.

Here, have Mascara</>:

highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
... and they will expand in wildly divergent directions.

Joel describes himself as a 'genre fanatic', which seems to mean that he's a splitter instead of a lumper: he likes listening to lots of things, and cutting them up into smaller and smaller categories. Tonight I have acquired a slew of Dance Gavin Dance, who apparently fall into the genre of 'post-hardcore'. I heard Joel playing them last night and took a fancy to them.

I have also acquired a couple of albums of My Chemical Romance, who are not so bad overall and quite excellent in spots. Needlessly shouty at times, but then so were Silverchair, and I loved them to shouty pieces when I was fifteen. The first few songs of 'The Black Parade' didn't grab me, but everything from 'Welcome to the Black Parade' onwards has been fun. ('Welcome to the Black Parade' itself reminds me of Pink Floyd, which association will probably have me strangled in the first ever co-operative effort by emo kids and old school rock fans. ETA: Ooh, and 'Mama' is good stuff, also reminding me of Pink Floyd.)

I'm using an old USB keyboard of Joel's, and I can see why he got rid of it. It's very strange. And it needs to be BASHED to get anything typed at all. Next task is to plug in my new mouse- which I shall name Reepicheep, naturally.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (waltrot)
THE Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, evoked dramatic Old Testament imagery to recall drought-devastated Australia, call people to a life of love and resurrection, and urge them to forgo a life of "fat, relentless egos".- SMH


Let's see what Shirley Strachan has to say about this:



Lyrics here for those not You-tube enabled.

Here endeth the disrespect for the day.

~

PS- you mean you didn't already know what terrible taste in music I had? You mean you've never experienced the glory that is seventies Australian glam rock? Witness: Horror Movie; Livin' in the Seventies; and, excellent if you need to scare off neighbouring feminists, Women in Uniform.
*Sighs* If livin' in the seventies would've meant I had more opportunities to ogle Shirley Strachan, clearly I was born three decades too late...
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (One Way)
Not a meme, just an excuse to waste time with LJ and itunes.

my top 25 most played songs, with commentary )

There you go. How boring.

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