chaiya: (huh?)
My review for this book was always going to start with "I read this book so that you don't have to."

Unfortunately, it's taken me two weeks of trying to admit that it's worse than that. I couldn't finish reading this book.

You would think that a steampunky alternate reality book about Sir Richard Francis Burton (who, among other things, published a famous translation of the Kama Sutra during the Victorian era, after which he was knighted by Queen Victoria!) ... you would think that such a book would be, in a word, AWESOME.

It is not. The writing simply fails.

This is the third paragraph of the book:

From where she stood on the threshold of the "robing room," hidden by its partially closed door, Isabel Arundell could see that her lover's normally dark and intense eyes were wide with shock, filled with a sudden vulnerability. His mouth moved spasmodically, as if he were struggling to chew and swallow something indigestible. She longed to rush to his side to comfort him and to ask what tidings had wounded him; to snatch up that note and read it; to find out who had killed himself; but such a display would be unseemly in front of the small gathering, not to mention embarrassing for Richard. He, among all men, stood on his own two feet, no matter how dire the situation. Isabel alone was aware of his sensitivity; and she would never cause it to be exposed to others.

Okay, so the initial narrator (who, by the way, never narrates again, at least as far as I read) describes Burton as someone who suffers in silence, despite having obvious signs from across the room that he's in distress (and she can somehow see his eyes fill with vulnerability from across said room... which surely means his pals can see it, too?). The author then spends the next several pages describing how publicly Burton displays his distress. My trust in the narrative of the story or the authenticity of the characters never recovered, although I read the next 66 pages.

I don't remember who recommended this book to me as something that might be Hugo nomination worthy, but I hope I didn't get any further recommendations from that person.
chaiya: (asl "c")
I was somewhat dubious when I heard that Seanan McGuire, newly-minted winner of the Campbell Award this summer (aka [ profile] seanan_mcguire), was also publishing a series of books under a different pseudonym. Whyonearthwouldyoudothat? I asked. But it turns out she put a lot of thought into the answer, and she wrote a handy LJ post about it, so if you're curious to read more than the pico-answer, go over to her longer explanation. The most salient point, for me, is genre separation, and the fact that Feed has, as the author herself acknowledges, "a high body count." I agree with her that the audience for Mira Grant books has overlap with the audience for Seanan McGuire books, but they're not entirely the same. Yay, Venn diagrams!

Those of you who have ever watched a movie with me know the term "Crystal-friendly Movie." It means a movie that won't have lots of graphic violence, basically. I walked out on Sin City in the theatre, and nearly broke up with [ profile] hakamadare over his choice of movie that night. So you might be particularly confused when I say that this novel, a dystopian future in which lots of people die, graphically, on camera was one that I loved. It made me weep. It wrenched my heart. But I loved it. It was well written. It was poignant and powerful. It made me think. I want to buy lots of copies and give them to my friends.

It's the first book on my list of Hugo nomination submissions. You should all go read it, whether or not you're already a fan of [ profile] seanan_mcguire. Particularly if you're a fan of zombies, but I'm not at all a zombie person, and I absolutely loved this book. Even when it broke my heart.

[ profile] moominmolly and her crowd, this is so written just for you!
chaiya: (books)
I am a compulsive reader and collector of children's books. I don't necessarily have good taste in children's books when they are beloved works from my own youth (the Mode Series by Anthony Piers being one example). But when not blinded by nostalgia, I like to think that I ditch the poor ones and only keep exemplary modern ones. This one is a keeper.

White Cat is the first in a new series by Holly Black, a YA novel that is more urban fantasy than anything else. Magic in this world is hereditary, perhaps 1% of the population has it, and its practitioners are known as "curse workers." There's a lot of interesting social commentary to be had in these pages, and I read it with interest. I did have some difficulty pegging what age I'd deem this book appropriate for -- there's minor character death on-screen, no sex but some sexual situations, no drugs but coercive situations, and discussion of some complex ethical situations. The cover says ages 14 and up, but I think I'd give it to a mature 12-year-old I know.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The main character, a boy around the age of 15, is a likable ruffian. The female characters were sassy, not cowed by the powerful men in their lives. There were only really two female characters we spent much time on, as opposed to five male ones, but those two were quirky and interesting and nonstandard in practically every way. The male characters were diverse and layered, and the narrator surprised and pleased me on multiple occasions. He had a voice of honesty, even while calling himself a con man. I grew fond of him while reading this book, and intend to continue reading the series as it comes out.
chaiya: (books)
Okay, I admit it. I'm a bit of a sucker for books, movies, and entertainment in general. I will watch terrible tv shows in the gym, get hooked on a story or character, and go look it up on Netflix the next time I have a free hour. I have only once purposefully walked out on a movie without finishing it, so far as I can recall. For God's sake, I watched Andromeda at least partway into season five before I finally killed it dead. (For those of you who cringe at this revelation, I will say that only seasons one and two remain on our shelves. I'm not that tasteless.)

Given that background information, then, when I say that I nearly quit Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas a couple of times before page 50, perhaps you can read my full meaning in those words.

The novel is a meta-novel, really, about a writer-turned-book-reviewer who wants to have an affair, whose friends cycle in and out of her thoughts and days, whose boyfriend is a jobless loser. I kept wondering how much the protagonist/narrator, Meg, was a stand-in for the author documenting her own writing crisis and relationship drama. It made for an unsettling read. I couldn't get rid of that voyeuristic feeling that the author was talking about an insufficiently fictionalized self, particularly as the narrator often discussed how often her (the narrator's) novel draft changed when she added and deleted details from her (the narrator's) life. A bit more commentary ... )

I won't reread this book. That said, my writing this review is an example of my stepping off a cliff, according to the narrator. It can't have been all bad.
chaiya: (proud smile)
As a corollary to this post (which is still going strong and deserves a second look from early viewers), perhaps we should hear about GOOD sex. It might be less funny, but also more of a challenge, to my mind. ;)

Hard to describe you,
Sexy man with brilliant smile,
Making love with me
chaiya: (Evil Shoulder Angel)
Describe the worst sex you've ever had. In haiku.

My entry?

Seven months waiting
One minute of "oh em gee"

Oh, and also:

Try to think this through.
You have a vagina, too!
Know how to work it?
chaiya: (crystal as menolly)
I am still looking through the submissions I've gotten and getting organized within the department. So if you were holding off on sending something in, or if you forgot the deadline, please just send it in asap! The original announcement ... )
chaiya: (crystal as menolly)
Ever wonder what kind of advice Worf would give to a lovelorn fannish couple? Or picture how Malcolm Renolds might dispense his opinion if writing to a lonely computer jock? Want to show everyone how hilariously witty you can be while playing with these characters?

One of many things that I'd like to do this year with the Publications division is have pre-written content available for the Arisia Newsletter. Therefore, I propose a contest. Also posted to the Arisia LJ community, but just in case folks are interested ... )
chaiya: (Default)
Is it easier to make a station on Mars (i.e., on solid ... er, ground) or make a space station to float in space or orbit or something? How would gravity work on each, and which would be easier to make "normal" gravity for? Anyone know?
chaiya: (thoughtful)
[Poll #743772]

Edit: Or you can write your own favorite sentence about becoming a doctor in the comments...


chaiya: (Default)

January 2015

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