firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat
Let's see if I can revive this habit.
There might be spoilers in the comments.

Books
Nisi Shawl, Everfair
Steampunk alternative history of the Congo Free State. The story is told through the eyes of a couple of dozen viewpoint characters. I'm glad I read this but I found it a bit dissatisfying. I was going to say simply that I felt unqualified to appreciate it (and I still think that's somewhat true, because I don't read much alternate history), but a few other reviews discussed the same issues, so I decided to review it after all. I loved reading a book based on the history of a part of Africa and something I had never studied or known about. I think it's a great contribution to the steampunk genre. I liked the diversity of the characters—not only ethnic diversity but also diversity in terms of the work they did (it's not a book where everyone is an aristocrat), their viewpoints, their religions, their relationships. I liked that it was not just a book about war and government but that the characters led their everyday lives and thought their everyday thoughts alongside the work they were doing to build a nation. But I think I would have liked the book better if it were twice as long (and therefore twice as detailed) or a series of books. Often I felt like I was reading a sketchy outline, or maybe more as if I were walking in and out of a room while a show was playing on TV and so I was seeing some scenes, enough to get the gist, but missing about half of it. I liked the steampunk inventions and the characters, but many of them didn't seem to get fully fleshed out. (Exceptions being King Mwenda, Josina, and Fwendi.) A character would crop up and I'd get a brief sense of what was in their head but then they'd disappear again. I felt the same way about the history that was being described. I've previously felt that Nisi Shawl was mostly a short story writer, and the sketchy style where you have to infer stuff works ok in a short story but I don't like it in a long novel.
Here are a few other reviews, which I encourage looking at if you're trying to decide whether to read the book.Audiobooks
Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races
Well narrated by Steve West & Fiona Hardingham. (I don't like books with double narrators because it bothers me when the same character has two different voices, depending on who viewpoint character is. But they did a good job because I was only distracted by it a few times.) YA fantasy based on humans racing something like the Celtic mythical water horse (Capaill Uisce). I liked the protagonists and most of the relationships felt nuanced. The villains were somewhat cardboard but they did have motives. I thought the ending felt wrong but that didn't spoil the book for me.

Movies
None this week

TV
Agents of SHIELD was back with new episodes last week.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: Just finished Season 2 (the DVD has some great extras; the one about the costuming was my favorite). Season 3 is not available on DVD from Netflix yet, and the OH doesn't like watching things via streaming, so we bought the DVD set of the first three seasons from shopPBS.com.

Nikita: Series from 2010–2013 starring Maggie Q, a sequel of sorts to the movie La Femme Nikita. We've watched about 5 episodes so far. It has a problem I've noticed with a number of American TV shows where I find it hard to tell some of the younger characters apart because the actors and actresses look too much alike (young, pretty/handsome, toned/buff, white).

The OA: Watched 2 episodes of this not-sure-what-genre-it-is-yet. Liked that it addressed the problems of second-generation immigrant kids. Someone told me there was problematic stuff later in the season.

Person of Interest: We're watching season 3 and have gotten past [massive spoiler]. Love the ensemble cast of this show and how it keeps adding new recurring characters.

Games
Bridge to Another World: The Others: BigFishGames hidden object / puzzle story
The ABC Murders: Point-and-click-and-solve-puzzles game based on the Agatha Christie Poirot novel of the same name

Date: 19 Jan 2017 12:20 am (UTC)
feuervogel: (reading)
From: [personal profile] feuervogel
That's how I felt about Everfair, too. I liked the story she was telling, but it really felt like I was reading a history book rather than a novel.

Date: 19 Jan 2017 02:08 pm (UTC)
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
From: [personal profile] feuervogel
Hmm, yeah. It was a summary of events, which to me reads like a history book (a popular history book, as opposed to a college textbook). I didn't connect with the characters because they mostly didn't feel real.

Date: 19 Jan 2017 02:31 am (UTC)
eeyorerin: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eeyorerin
I liked Bridge To Another World: Alice in Shadowland a lot. I wonder if it has the same viewpoint character?

Date: 19 Jan 2017 02:08 pm (UTC)
eeyorerin: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eeyorerin
Hm. I think that is the same one. I'll have to try it. You might like Alice in Shadowland!

Date: 19 Jan 2017 05:01 am (UTC)
kshandra: figurine of a teddybear seated at an office desk, looking at a computer (Default)
From: [personal profile] kshandra
Where did you find ABC Murders? I found three Poirot hidden-object games (and one Miss Marple) during my recent hyperfocus episode, but this sounds slightly different.

Date: 19 Jan 2017 06:03 am (UTC)
kshandra: figurine of a teddybear seated at an office desk, looking at a computer (ComputerBear)
From: [personal profile] kshandra
The Poirot stories are Dead Man's Folly, Death on the Nile, and Peril at End House; the Marple is 4:50 from Paddington. They were apparently released as a set on a long-out-of-print CDROM. Death on the Nile is available at shockwave.com; I confess I found all four as free downloads from varying sites of questionable legality.

Date: 19 Jan 2017 05:03 am (UTC)
serene: mailbox (Default)
From: [personal profile] serene
Oh, my, we're huge fans of Miss Fisher around here. LOVE her.

I stopped watching the OA after a while and just had [personal profile] stonebender tell me what happened. The combination of confusion and tension was too much for me to find it enjoyable.

Nisi's one of those authors I feel like I "should" have read but haven't. 'Course, that's a pretty long list.

Date: 19 Jan 2017 02:28 pm (UTC)
serene: mailbox (Default)
From: [personal profile] serene
Oh! I had forgotten reading (at least some of) Filter House. So never mind; I've read at least one of her stories. :-)

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firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
firecat (attention machine in need of calibration)

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