Mar. 25th, 2016 09:01 pm
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
A list:

1) Is it just me or has March been a really long month (and is still not over)? I've been to the wake of a friend's mum, to prison (work-related), to court (both subordinate and high, also work-related), transferred to a different mail system, witnessed an eclipse (sorta), wrote fic, missed a tutoring session out sheer exhaustion, reacted (or not reacted) to news reports on terrorism and disasters, and replaced all the furniture in my room (I did not know I owned that many books). Not to mention AlphaGo v Lee Se-dol.

2) Speaking of Lee Se-dol (or as some websites have it, Lee Sedol), AlphaGo won the game by defying basic human instinct. That post is useful for people like me, whose strategic gaming skill only extends to tic-tac-toe. Kinda fun fodder for fic too, methinks.

3) Read The Bone Swans of Amandale, by C.S.E. Cooney, which was recced on Asking the Wrong Questions, mainly because the book cover reminded me of the last scene in Bridge of Birds. It is actually a re-telling of Pied Piper, and a rather good one. Enjoyed the narrator Maurice, fascinated by the Nicolas the piper and between being put off and impressed by Dora Rose. Nice touch with the three children. Wished there was more of the villain.

4) Read A Queer Trade by KJ Charles. I read her Magpie Lord series previously, didn't know there were new stories set in the same universe. The ML series was a little over the top, but gave me the feeling that a crossover with Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown would be great fun.

5) Speaking of period fiction (or not), here's an atypical introduction to the laws of Singapore (tho' this was taken from a case I was reading this week):

The island of Singapore was part of the territorial domain of the Johor Sultanate before 1824 when its sovereignty was ceded to the British. As a British possession, its inhabitants were subject to English principles of law. However, it was not until 1826 when the Second Charter of Justice (“the Second Charter”) introduced the entire corpus of English law (common law, equity and English statutes of general application) to Singapore so far as it was applicable to the circumstances of Singapore and its inhabitants and subject to such modifications as those circumstances might require (as the courts later held its effect to be such). The consequence of this development was that the general law was applicable to all except where the customs and personal laws of the inhabitants required that the general law be modified to suit their circumstances.

Yadda, yadda, you kinda see this general gist whatever case you're reading: criminal, civil, family, procedural rules, etc. With some modification it'd make a great period fantasy setting: colonial powers try their best, but they didn't count on what the natives had up their sleeves. Hehe.
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I finally managed to break the seventh string on my guqin while re-stringing it. Genius move, self. Genius. You and your unladylike strength. Don't have spares. On the other hand, this means I now have an excuse to buy silk strings for the whole qin, haha. Only it's now CNY and they don't deliver until well after Yuanxiao. I wait.


In the middle of [ profile] ursulav's The Raven and the Reindeer under the pen name T. Kingfisher (book launch post here), a re-telling of Andersen's "The Snow Queen". I don't really like Amazon's description of this as a "sly retelling", which is the only thing I don't like about this book. Everything else is excellent. There's a solidness and maturity about the writing that is really satisfying to read. It's the first time I enjoyed reading about Gerta and adventures in snowland with raven and bandit girl friend, as it were. (Always got annoyed with Andersen when halfway through as there was no follow-up with the little robber girl.) This re-telling, though, is lovely.
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Occupational Safety, Poe, Finn, Star Wars VII, by shadydave

The Importance of Being Edited, Miles Vorkosigan and fanfic, by shimotsuki

Thanks to [ profile] nineveh_uk for alerting to the fact that there are Daddy-Long-Legs fanfic:

Dear Walt, Judy/Jervis, Daddy-Long-Legs, by Bookwormsarah

The Diary of Julia Rutledge Pendleton: Excerpts, Daddy-Long-Legs, by shealynn88


Read Kings Rising by [ profile] freece aka C.S. Pacat. I was annoyed that it'd been 2 Feb here for hours and I had to wait on Amazon's timezone for it, but then it downloaded and I was happy. Repeats to self: Laurent is the blond one; Damien, no, Damon, no, Damen is the dark-haired one. Blondie is from Vere, Damen is from Akielos. Yup, gotcha.

I'd read a few chapters of Captive Prince back when it was still on LJ, and liked it... sort of. The story was interesting, though slavefic isn't really my kink, but it was fun to read. Only I kept mixing up the two main characters. Not due to any fault in the characterisations, but due to my facility for confusing d/l/m/r sounds. Dalen, Daren, Ramen, Laumen, Lauden... it was frustrating. With constant reminders to self (see above), though, I worked though that, and got three books' worth of entertainment. spoilery? More opinions than about plot )
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So this is a thing. Every year I promise myself to read more books, and also, bookblog. It doesn't quite happen that way, so this is probably the first and only bookblog for the year until next year when new year resolutions re-strike.

Between You and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Read more... )

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. Read more... )

The Vorrh, by B. Catling. Read more... )

The Dark Forest, by Liu Cixin, trans Joel Martinsen. Read more... )


As I'd gone back to teaching English while applying to full-time jobs, I was commiserating with a fellow teacher on students. The school I teach at is for Japanese expats, btw.

ME: So, in the first lesson, I often ask things like what's your job, where's your hometown... What I find most wtf about them is that they'd look at you with their big, earnest eyes, and say something like, "My hometown is Kyoto. Have you heard of Kyoto?" *rants* Why wouldn't I have heard of Kyoto? It's only the second most well-known city in Japan. It's a major tourist attraction. It's the atypical Japanese cultural billboard. It's got temples and geishas, just to give a couple of the most stereotypical things that people know of Japan.

FRIEND: I know, right?

ME: *continues ranting* If it's a really obscure place, yeah, I freely admit my ignorance. But you're telling me you come from Hokkaido or Nagano, or Nagasaki and you ask me whether I've heard of these places?

FRIEND: I've never heard of Nagasaki.

ME: *extremely non-plussed* What? But... but it got atomic bombed!

FRIEND: I thought it was only Hiroshima.

ME: No, they got (atomic) bombed in two places, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

FRIEND: Never heard of that.

So this became a story where I complain about my students' insularity and end up finding something even weirder. This is supposed to be common knowledge, right? I mean, even if you knew nothing about Japan, you'd know that USA dropped two atomic bombs on Japan during WW2, right? Sure, it happened like 70 years ago, but still...

more rambling )
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Hydra-Headed, Auditorial case, Miles, Roic and other Auditors, the Vorkosigan series, by Glishara

A Bit Too Much Good Work, Byerly/Rish, WIP, the Vorkosian series, by a_t_rain

By Any Means Necessary, Ivan/Byerly, canon up to Diplomatic Immunity, AU, the Vorkosigan series, by Tevildo

Nightfall, Hiccup raised by dragons-AU, How to Train Your Dragon, by Leletha



1) (if it can be called reading...) Barbara Walker's Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns

2) The Vorrh by B. Catling, which has interesting images and little stories, occasionally feels like it's exoticising indigeneous people but overall not bad.

3) Barbara Mertz's Red Land, Black Land on "daily life in ancient Egypt", as the cover says. Chatty tone.
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Earlier in May I caught Age of Ultron, which was good in parts and senseless in others, and people with stronger opinions than me have already stated them, so. I did like [ profile] onyxhawke's review.

Caught Spy yesterday, which was a nice surprise as, for some reason I had been expecting a thriller, it was a comedy and was hilarious in parts. Read more... )



My Real Children by Jo Walton. I was at first confused that this was considered science fiction Read more... )

Bryony and Roses by [ profile] ursulav, see also ebook launch, under the name T. Kingfisher. Re-telling of Beauty and the Beast story: it's enlivened by the heroine being a gardener, the beast being sarcastic, and an intensifying mystery about how the beast came to be.



School, part 5 of earlgreytea68's Nature and Nurture series, Sherlock/John.

Jealous Gods, WIP, John/Sherlock, later Q and Bond, Sherlock, Skyfall, by xiaq. Also to intersect: Phaedrus, also WIP, Q, James Bond, Skyfall.

Home Improvement, Clint/Phil, AU, Avengers, by pagination.
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Not fic:

Rec from f-list, a narrative of the Hugos whatever, Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons: An Analysis of Theodore Beale and his Supporters, by Philip Sandifer



The Widest Golf, Phil/Clint, Avengers, Agents of Shield, by Pagination

Treason, Traitors and Treachery, James/Q, Skyfall, by Kryptaria and rayvanfox

Anarchy In The U.K., Charles/Erik, AU, X-Men First Class, by Yahtzee. I found myself reminded of The Student Prince by Fayjay, but it's still very good.



Death Comes to Pemberly, PD James. Not bad, has quite the flavour of Austen in some parts, with nice moments of sarcasm (though not irony), sprinkled liberally with cynicism. The exposition on Charlotte was delicious, if a little deadening. To the modern sensibility weaned on scenes of gory violence, Dary's squeamishness regarding dead bodies deserved an eye-roll. Plot was okay; the red herring was so obvious as to verge on being neon-coloured, the resolution was very deux ex machina and James' way of dealing with Wickam was a cop-out, frankly. I wished Elizabeth had more of a role in the investigation, but perhaps that would have made the novel more cosy-like, which is not probably what James wanted. I enjoyed, fangirl-like, the little bits that connected with the other Austen novels, such as Persuasion and (wee!) Emma.


May. 6th, 2015 10:39 pm
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
Books (instead of fanfic). I know, I'm astonished that I read them, too. But I recently discovered that my library does offer ebooks on loan, even though the selection isn't very wide, which means I can still borrow knitting books and fiction.

The Ocean At the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman )

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, trans. Ken Liu )

The Maze Runner by James Dashner )
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
Sins of the Fathers, Scorpius/Albus, HP, by blamebrampton, and the sequel, Fathers Who Could Do With A Spot of Sinning, Harry/Draco.


I read Cold Days by Jim Butcher and it was not awful. Either that or enough time away from reading his books have lowered my expectations enough to make it easier to bear with Harry Dresden's brand of describing women who were not for him, by gosh look at that body!, but no thanks, m'am, you're too sexy/scary/innocent. spoiler? I think? )


I went to donate blood today and it was a success! Well, I'm perhaps more gleeful than I should be, because it's the first time in years that my iron levels were high enough for me to do so. Though that was due to the iron supplements the staff gave me. Oh well. I should make it a regular thing; program the next appointment into my phone or something.
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Blind Spot, Hiccup/Astrid, How to Train Your Dragon, by ArtemisRae


More Heyer reads: Black Sheep, The Nonesuch, Sprig Muslin and Lady of Quality (last few chapters). Reading a bunch of Heyer within a few days really brings up the similarity of plot devices and the amount of variation that can go into stock character types. Also, Bath. Okay, I think I've got it mostly out of my system for now.

Probably because I have been have also been alarmingly distracted by the 2013 TV version of The Smiling, Proud Wanderer, aka The Swordsman. The novel is by Louis Cha, though much of the story in this TV version has been greatly changed in the adaptation, which I have mixed feelings about. I was never the greatest fan of the novel itself, probably because (1) I read it after the watching The East is Red where the so-called evil Dongfang Bubai was played by Lin Ching-hsia and I spent half the time looking for this character while reading (in the novels this character only appears for a chapter or so); (2) the hero of the novel Linghu Chong is arrghhh, stupidly loyal to his teacher when people have tried throughout the novel to tell him that his teacher is a dishonourable hypocrite bastard. On the other hand, it does make Yue Buqun (the teacher) a really great villain, almost Iago-ian in his manipulativeness. (Although I adored the music they created for the Sam Hui movie version.)spoilers and too long thoughts )
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A couple of books from the library.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. Spoilers within. )

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen )

Currently on a Heyer kick. Re-read so far: The Civil Contract, The Corinthian. Halfway through The Quiet Gentleman.
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Learning to Fly, Hiccup/Astrid, How to Train Your Dragon, Riders of Berk, by NRGburst

For the Public Good, Harry/Draco, HP, by blamebrampton



I've just finished reading Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie. It's really very much like a Gothic mystery, isn't it, even to the ominous portents and quote from a literary work? Except with more red herrings. Reminds me of early Barbara Michaels.

At the library, I spotted Recollections of Rosings by Rebecca Ann Collins, which, as far as I can tell, is Sense and Sensibility Pride and Prejudice fanfic, going all the way to The Next Generation. (There was a whole shelf of them at the library.) I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced that P&P fanfic can be kept up in that fashion. (Well. At least it's not Sense and Sensibility and Zombies.) This particular volume looks like it might invent a villainous backstory for Lady Catherine de Bourgh, so I picked it. ^_^

ETA for correcting P&P for S&S. My only excuse is I enjoyed S&S more?
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[ profile] earlgreytea68 announced that she published her first book. It's here. Also there's a free prequel novella for those who want to dip their toes in first.

Three things struck me after reading the book )



Knight Magic, Sherlock/Harry Potter merged/crossover, John/Sherlock, by suitesamba.

Paparazzo, Tony Stark/Peter Parker, Iron Man/Spider-Man crossover, by basingstoke. And the sequel Tabloid
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Elizabeth Peters, aka Barbara Michaels, aka Barbara Mertz died on 8 August 2013.

I came across Crocodile on the Sandbank and Ammie Come Home as a teenager on two separate occasions in the library, not realising at first that they were written by the same person. Thereafter I devoured her books with the sort of single-minded fevor that only teenagers are capable of. I had not read a lot of funny woman writers before, and I certainly had not read a lot of writer who could introduce me to Egpytology, American and English history and literature, vintage clothing, and (a topic I was totally ignorant of) gardens, while letting me go on read-apades with heroines who were bold, retiring, bookish, loud, plain, gorgeous, but every one who had a distinctive voice of her own. For years, the sole reason I wanted to go to Egypt was to play Amelia Peabody (it's on my bucket list). I wanted to solve mysteries. And that her heroines usually ended up with the guy that understood them best satisfied my need for romantic yarns without my having to suffer through romantic novels. (There was a dearth of decent romantic paperbacks at my library; other than Heyer, most were really awful - the rest were Barbara Cartland.)

She was the writer whose books, once I could afford it, would choose to buy. I developed a minor case of collector's craze and had a little list wherein I'd tick off to ensure that I had every one of her books (I do). She introduced me to the pleasure of reading mysteries and from there, detective stories. She helped me to feel that studying literature (or any other intellectual pursuit) was perfectly fine if you wanted it, because there was value in understanding the human condition.

Her later books, I felt, were not as scintillating; perhaps because I had grown away from the genre, and partly because, I think, some of the verve had gone out of her writing. They didn't seem as bright and sparkling; not as smoothly narrated as I remembered. The Amelia Peabody books seemed mired in nostalgia: I had a hard time getting into A River in the Sky (but what a lovely title) simply because I was resentful at not getting a book that told me "what happened to Amelia in the 1930s/1940s?". But it was only the last few ones: The Laughter of Dead Kings is not on par with Silhouette in Scarlet, but I adore Vicky Bliss just as much. I think the prevalence of information technology, especially the ubiquitous mobile phone, texting, social media, made the world a very different place from the one Mertz had been accustomed to building and writing about, especially those of her books set contemporaneously. It's a small pity, but when I think about it, there have been very few writers who have been able to write a good yarn where the characters are (like many of us now) constantly using mobile apps, without having to break up the prose with bits of reproduced texting and photos.

The Amelia Peabody books are still awesome. I defy anyone to read The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog without muttering "Another shirt ruined!" thereafter.
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Betwixt and Between, Mycroft, Sherlock, John, Sherlock, by ivywatcher

An Empty Station, Lestrade, John, Sherlock, Reichenbach, by ivywatcher

All destinations approximate, general, humour, time-travel, Avengers, by jonesandashes, pollyrepeat


Am still reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, as I have been for the last few weeks. It's not bad, definitely has a whiff of Judith Merkle Riley that I appreciate (except JMR wrote from the POV of female characters which I have an absolute soft spot for) and that I am sort of cognizant that Mantel is relating the events leading to a super-important part of Britain's history. And it's entertaining. But I definitely have to take it in small doses because present tense narratives - grrr. Do not like.

Picked up this book (haven't started it) John Saturnall's Feast by a (as one might guess) man called Lawrence Norfolk. Apparently A.S. Byatt said it's "Brilliant" on the cover, which reminds me that I really ought to take such recs with a liberal pinch of salt.

Apparently (from the blurb) the protagonist's mother once told her son of an ancient Feast, etc, and in the book the protagonist will one day serve such a feast. I was seduced by the idea of a man carrying out his mother's legacy and serving loads of lovely food. It was a moment of weakness.

I'm getting more and more leery as I browse through the book. Here's the third to fifth paragraphs from the first page: Read more... )
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Not reading new fics; am just following WIPs for now. Nature and Nurture just updated!



Started reading the Harry Potter books (for the first time in years) and just finished the Chamber of Secrets.

Also halfway through Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. People kept reccing Bring Up the Bodies so I thought, I should read the first book of the series, right? And Kinokuniya had a sale.

Did not expect present tense narrative. Not my fondest mode: here it treads a line between being invisible and immediacy, occasionally distracting. I'm not sure if I enjoy all the moments of internal fancies that the narrator aka Cromwell himself has - I'm not used to it, probably because I don't expect it in historical fiction. Also I see that I must get up to speed on that part of history again, after having forgotten most of it. I wonder what history looks like to a bystander and not a doer.

Also found Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich in the library. Yay!

And someone in my f-list recced Georgiana Darcy's Diary by Anne Elliott, fanfic of Pride and Prejudice. Kindle version was free at Amazon. Nice enough to read on the way to work, but... spoilers? )
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Apparently the pairing name for Q/Bond is 00Q, which reminds of that drink named Qoo. I prefer not to take James Bond movies seriously (and switching off whenever James Bond has any sort of onscreen interaction with a woman who is neither M nor Michelle Yeoh), so I've been having fun with:

A pox on all your machines, Q/Bond, Skyfall, by scioscribe

The sheer lack of professionalism, same pairing, same author.


Copy of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance came in the mail a couple of days ago. Finished it yesterday. hackneyed plot saved by good writing - spoilers within )


May. 1st, 2012 11:34 pm
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So on Sunday I read The Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich )

On Sunday I read I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Prachett )

And on Monday I read Small Gods, by Terry Prachett )

And then today (Tuesday) I watched the Avengers movie [spoiler free] )
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So, before my exams ended I had all kinds of plans for what to do after. I would knit! Read! Knit and read! Make jewellery*! Write! Watch TV! Write and watch TV!

And then exams ended and I became thoroughly unmotivated, content just to sit on my ass all day. (Although I must say the dream (nightmare)** about flunking exams didn't help.)

Anyway. Got some motivation back now. Sent Christmas cards. Cleaned desk. Knitted (and knitted). Read (and reading).


Limited Release, X-Men (First Class), White Collar-ish AU, Erik/Charles, by [ profile] rageprufrock

These Three Things Remain, Avengers, Steve/Tony,by Siria

When the Lights Go On Again, Avengers, Steve/Tony, link is to chapter 1 (19 chapters in all), completed, by [ profile] seanchai and [ profile] elspethdixon


Persuasion, by Jane Austen. Re-read, but in fairness, a very, very infrequent re-read, and it was in my kindle. (Sense and Sensibility is more my speed.) Fun to notice (again) all the details and all the swipes Austen takes at pretentious people.

Four Souls, by Louise Erdrich. Connected to Tracks, contains seriously scary Fleur Pillager and always hilarious Nanapush. A trifle wordier than I like, and perhaps a little too declaratory, but still awesome. I don't always like "lyrical writing" in my reading, but when Erdrich is good, it doesn't feel tedious or overwrought; it just works.

The Rich and the Dead, edited by Nelson DeMille. Collection of mystery short stories. Some interesting.

*Sort of. I'm an amateur amateur jewellery maker. My expertise extends only to making earrings by attaching pretty beads to earring hooks.

**I don't think my subconcious was being fair when it created a scenario where I flunked an exam on Shakespeare, and to be even more insulting, it was on Hamlet, a play which featured in my school career three times and which I still know pretty well.


Dec. 11th, 2009 09:35 pm
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*looks at Fifthmus and Yuletide challenges* Well... at least today I don't have to work late.

Title: Heriot
Author: Margaret Mahy

Title: The Complete Cosmicomics
Author: Italo Calvino

Two bookblogs )
Reading Darwinia now.


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