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Movies


The Dark Knight Rises
2012 movie wrapping up director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. I didn't like it as much as the other two, but I thought they did a pretty good job with Catwoman. Also, I really want Bane's coat. (Costume designer Lindy Hemming "personally designed Bane's coat, which she admitted took two years to complete. The design was difficult as Hemming struggled to find a tailor in Los Angeles who could work with shearling.")

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Continues the tradition of telling the history of Middle-Earth by means of focusing on the humans that hang around with hobbits, with special emphasis on battle and escape scenes. This tradition started in Fellowship of the Ring. I saw it with a sweetie, who left to go to the bathroom (which was located on the other side of the theater) when the troll fighting scene in Moria started. When she came back, the scene was still going on. Well, in this movie, I could have spent half of my time in the bathroom and still not missed anything but battle scenes. Then again, since the title is Battle of Five Armies, I suppose I knew what I was in for going in. I watch these because I'm a Tolkien fan and Jackson's designers have done a fabulous job designing a Middle Earth that mostly tracks with the one that's been in my head ever since I first read The Hobbit at age 9. I don't think the plots track so well but I don't particularly care about that.

Planet B-Boy
2007 documentary about the 2005 Battle of the Year award for crew b-boying (aka break-dancing). The competition has taken place in Germany annually since 1990. I would have liked it better if I had understood more of the moves.


Episodics


Agent Carter
Marvel series about a woman agent in the 1940s just post-WWII. She was romantically involved with Captain America and played an important part in the war. Now that the war is over, she's working in a covert agency called Strategic Scientific Reserve but the men treat her like an office girl. So she starts taking secret missions on the side. First two episodes were very good and the third episode was pretty good.

Doctor Who
I heard that Netflix probably wasn't going to remove Doctor Who permanently after all but the threatened removal is a game of chicken with the BBC. Nevertheless I'm determined to catch up on Doctor Who before February 15. I'm currently in the middle of seaon 7 (11th Doctor with companion Clara Oswald. I REALLY LOVED the episode "The Snowmen."

Fiction


Jasper Fforde, The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next #3)
Competently narrated by Emily Grey. Fforde is a science fiction / fantasy writer comparable to Pratchett and Douglas Adams in his extremely high "clever idea to text ratio," absurdist humor, and complex world building. I'm liking this one better than the others. There is an extremely high clever idea to text ratio, and it makes me laugh fairly often. I recommend the first two books in this series, but I particularly liked this one, in which the protagonist leaves the "real world" and enters the "BookWorld," in which stands the Great Library (containing all books ever written, and all books ever attempted but not finished — the well of lost plots), and in which the organization Text Grand Central manages software that allows books to be written and read. Anyone who has worked in publishing or writing is highly likely to enjoy it.

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Movies

To Catch a Thief
Hitchcock with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly (and Edith Head doing costumes). I haven't laughed this much over a movie in a long time.
Read more... )
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My friend Katherine Lampe is an independent author who writes a series called Caitlin Ross. The genre might be described as "small town paranormal fantasy". The difference between this and a lot of other paranormal fantasy is that the protagonists are humans with the ability to work magic in various ways, rather than undead or fairies (although various undead, faeries, and other supernatural characters do make appearances).

Katherine Lampe's books as trade paperbacks on Amazon, as Kindle editions, or as Smashwords DRM-free ePub editions. (The first two books are temporarily unavailable to buy directly from SmashWords, although I am able to buy copies as gifts.)

http://www.amazon.com/Katherine-Lampe/e/B00BRWSDFO/

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/wysewomon

I want to introduce folks to these books so I'm offering ten folks a choice of the following:...

ETA: Gifts have been claimed! This post is now unlocked; comments are still screened.
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Movies

Advanced Style
Ari Seth Cohen has a street fashion blog called Advanced Style which focuses on stylish people (mostly women) aged 50 and over (usually a lot over). The blog has spawned a coffee table book, a coloring book complete with paper dolls and this documentary, which features a few of the women he photographs regularly. All of them live in New York City. You see them working (one works in a vintage clothing store, several teach), being photographed for ad campaigns, singing in a nightclub, being part of a flash mob at New York Fashion Week, visiting Los Angeles to appear on the Ricki Lake show, and more.

Edge of Tomorrow
Tagline is Lather. Rinse. Live. Die. Repeat. Time loop movie. Fairly entertaining in that twenty-teens excessively seriously dystopian way that movies can be. I liked the female protagonist, played by Emily Blunt, and that there was almost no (spoiler) romance between her and Cruise's character, although there was a little. (Wikipedia says the kiss between them at the end of the movie was unscripted and was Blunt's idea. I think it was a bad idea.) (end spoiler) I also loved the cranky old general character played by Brendan Gleeson.

Gravity
An astronaut and a scientist inexperienced in space travel get stranded in space. Much effort was put into making the space environment seem realistic, although the scenario is less realistic. If you can see it in the theater in 3D, definitely do that, but if not, it's wonderful in 2D on a large home TV also. Great soundtrack. Sandra Bullock is an amazing physical actress.

The Last Unicorn
Animated 1982 film of Peter Beagle's 1962 fairy tale. Liked it a lot. Proves that (spoiler) "the princess marries the prince and everyone lives happily ever after" trope could be subverted long before Frozen came along (end spoiler).

Men in Black 3
This one wasn't as good as the first one but was better than the second one. Doesn't pass the Bechdel test, but has Emma Thompson as the head of the agency. Boris the Animal and Griffin are fun aliens. Time travel to the 1960s is generally fun.

Shaft
Speaking of time travel to the 1960s...oh wait, this one was made in 1971, but close enough. One of the first and most iconic blaxploitation films, although apparently it annoyed white audiences for making too much of racism and black audiences for not making enough of it. (Gee not much has changed in 43 years.) The relationship between Shaft and his white contact in the police is fun. Everyone is wearing rust colored turtlenecks and lounging on fake fur rugs. Lots of product placement. If you want to make a point about male characters who would be called Mary Sues if they were female characters, be sure to mention Shaft. Now I want to do crossover fanfic with Shaft and James Bond.

Fiction

Up from the Grave, Jeaniene Frost (Night Huntress #7)
This is the last book in the Night Huntress series, although Frost has written other books set in the same universe. I'm somewhat incapable of explaining why I like these books, so have a collection of funny (some intentionally, some not) lines instead:
  • "Baring the majority of my breasts"
  • "That’s how two vampires, a medium, and a dog came to sit around a Ouija board in the back room of a floral shop."
  • "The fact that I hadn’t known what I was doing when it happened was almost moot by comparison."
  • "Groin cleavage"
  • "Changing someone into a vampire was downright prissy-looking by comparison."
Oh, and I really didn't like the way she described Detroit.

The Sittaford Mystery, Agatha Christie
Audiobook, well narrated by Hugh Fraser, who does a wide range of voices well. Published in 1931. Not part of a series, although it was rewritten for a TV show in which Miss Marple became the crime solver. Set in Dartmoor (English title: The Murder at Hazelmoor). The rural nature of the area, along with its bad weather, and the fact that someone can hide upon the moor play into the plot, but not the beauty or loneliness of the scenery as in Conan Doyle's or Laurie R. King's Sherlock Holmes in Dartmoor mysteries. My favorite characters are the chief crime solver, Emily Trefusis, who is the accused man's fiancée; and Caroline Percehouse, a cranky and very smart old lady. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is mentioned in the context of his being interested in metaphysics. I had trouble keeping some of the other characters straight. Enough red herrings to feed an army.

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Movies


The Expendables
Good-natured way over-the-top ensemble old guy action movie, directed by Stallone, with cameos by Schwartznegger and Bruce Willis, and a good performance by Mickey Rourke.

Nosferatu
I have never acquired a taste for the kind of acting that is often done in silent movies and my experience of Nosferatu suffered from this, but I'm glad I watched it. I wish I knew more about all the ways it was influential on movie-making. There's a famous scene where Nosferatu rises straight up out of his coffin. I found myself mumbling "wire-work."

Episodics


Hawaii Five-0 (reboot)
We're watching season 2, and enjoying this more since Masa Oki became a regular character

Fiction


Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost (#2 in the Night Prince series)
Vampire romance. I like them except that the plots are too heavily driven by manufactured relationship angst of kinds that would make a sensible person run screaming in real life.

Fire in the Blood, Blood on the Water (Vampire Files #5-6) by P.N. Elrod
It's the early 20th century in Chicago, and a journalist who was recently made into a vampire (Jack Fleming) works with a human British P.I. who used to be an actor (Charles Escott). They associate with gangsters and femmes fatales a lot but they mostly have modern middle-class values (e.g. the vampire doesn't hunt human victims but drinks from cattle at the Chicago stockyards). Although these are technically 2 novels, they come in an omnibus (Vampire Files part 2) and Blood on the Water doesn't really stand alone. I was pretty annoyed at the ebook because it was a badly done OCR conversion and had not been adequately proofread. For example, there is a character named Escott, but his name is spelled Escort half the time. And one character has a book called The Invisible Matt on his desk. I like the protagonists a lot and there are quite a few very competent female characters in the series. And this vampire has a really good romantic relationship that has no manufactured angst at all.

Nightingale's Lament (Nightside #3) by Simon R. Green
I want to like this series more than I do. Green has a fabulous imagination at times, but it's mixed in with a lot of fairly cliched noir tropes and moralism.

The Moor, Laurie R. King (Mary Russell #4)
This is really well written in loving detail. I loved her descriptions of the moor and it was amusing to see Holmes reacting to people wanting to talk to him about The Hound of the Baskervilles. The mystery itself I didn't care that much about...the villains were not very interesting, and for the most part the solving of the mystery wasn't very interesting either; it was more of an excuse to get Russell and Holmes interacting with local folks. For calibration purposes, I don't know anything about Sabine Baring-Gould. I will read more of this series.

The Sittaford Mystery, Agatha Christie
Audiobook. I picked this up while reading The Moor and was amused to discover it is also about Dartmoor. It's a little Dartmoor fest over here.

Games


Little Inferno
This is the most adorable, bizarre game ever. You have a fireplace and you can buy stuff and burn it. Weird things happen when you burn certain stuff. And you have a penpal. If that sounds boring, I hope you go try it out anyway.
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Movies


Frozen

I loved the "Let It Go" song and scene, but otherwise I didn't like it that much.
Read more... )
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I promise not to accumulate such a huge backlog of these in the future.

Movies


Captain Horatio Hornblower
Gregory Peck 1951 movie. It seems like Star Trek: TOS swiped some of the theme music and sound effects from it, as well as the concept of "Hornblower in spaaaace.") Pretty good sea adventure. I found the romance annoying.
Read more... )
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Movies


Appleseed: Ex Machina
2007 anime movie. A sequel to the 2004 Appleseed, which I saw but can't remember a single thing about. Deunan, a human, and Briareos, originally human but now in a cyborg body, are lovers and special ops partners. (Spoilers for general plot points) Briareos is injured in a battle and while he is recovering, the team leader tries to pair Deunan with another agent, who looks like Briareos used to look when he was a human, because he's a bioroid engineered from Briareos's DNA. Deunan is not happy about any of this. Some people try to take over the world with a satellite network, and the special ops team tries to stop them. I really liked this for the beauty of the fight choreography (especially in the opening scenes), for the relationships, and for the exploration of body and identity issues. It's a bit like Ghost in the Shell but more grounded, if that makes any sense.

Read more... )
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This one is a real page-turner.

Katherine Lampe writes something like paranormal fiction but her protagonists aren't vampires or shapeshifters. They and other characters in her books have some personal magic power, and also access power and communicate with supernatural entities use a variety of magic forms and rituals that are common in the Americas and Europe. This lets Katherine get her characters into and out of trouble using everything from Tarot readings to shamanic journeying to charms you can buy off the Internet or make with supplies from your local craft store, which I think is a lot of fun. In this story, for example, a love charm ends up implicating someone as a murder suspect.

The relationship between Caitlin and Timber (who are married) is a delightful change from the usual antagonistic romantic relationship (or its opposite, the soulmates-until-the-end-of-time-even-though-we-only-met-two-days-ago relationship) in many paranormal romances.

This novel uses elements and gods from African religions, and the antagonist is an African woman. Because people might feel this is cultural appropriation, Katherine includes an afterword explaining her choices and how she researched these subjects. Because of that and because I'm white and they aren't my religious elements or gods, my enjoyment of the story wasn't affected.

The story shifts between Caitlin's and Timber's POVs. They have really distinctive voices. For example, Timber is much more tentative about communicating with himself verbally. I really sense that his relationship to the world is mediated through his body.

(Spoiler of a general plot point) In this story Timber is subject to sexual harrassment and rape. There are other paranormal novels where a male character has a history of being sexually abused, but I haven't often read one where the abuse happens during the story.

Sexual harrassment is often used as a plot driver in the paranormal genre in ways that make me uncomfortable: there is a trope (I'm looking at you, Charlaine) where male characters use sexual harrassment against female characters as a form of flirting/power-jockeying with other male characters. I hate that, and I am glad that is NOT happening in this book.

I was glad to see Tintri Fionn again, from an earlier book. He's one of my favorite characters.
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Movies

The Bodyguard
Thai gun-fu/wire-fu action comedy. We stuck it on our Netflix queue several years ago because we like Tony Jaa. We started watching it with few expectations and ended up REALLY impressed. The director-star, Petchtai Wongkamlao, is a SUPERB actor and comedian. There are lots of very long choreographic gunfights and kung fu fights in various styles. Tony Jaa is on screen for only a few minutes in a scene set in a supermarket. The funniest scene was (no, I'm not going to tell you, it's funnier if you don't know what's going to happen). The star is a little plump but nothing is made of this. There is another fat guy in the movie who wears outrageous costumes (normally I wouldn't like this, but the people making fun of this character are portrayed as ridiculous and he is portrayed as dignified; also they make fun of his costumes and not his size, so it didn't bother me). One of the actors appeared to have Down Syndrome. On the less enjoyable side, there was some sexism and body mockery among some minor characters that did bother me, but the rest of the movie made up for it. For all that I liked it, I wouldn't recommend it as an introduction to these genres.

Guardians of the Galaxy
I made a separate post about this.

Episodics

The Wire
Seasons 1–4 were the best serious television I've ever seen. We had heard that Season 5 was good, but not as good as the other seasons. We watched three episodes and were not very happy with it, so we decided to stop watching. The episodes of Season 5 we watched had moments, but overall it was feeling meaner than the previous seasons, and we thought that some of the character development wasn't right. E.g. it really bugged me that McNulty went from all-but-teetotaling throughout season 4 to drunk-off-his-ass and cheating every night starting in episode 1 of season 5 and no reason was given for the change at all. I also looked at the plotline for the rest of the season and I didn't want to watch Omar or Prop Joe or Snoop getting killed although I'm sure the actors turned in great performances on those scenes.


Nonfiction

Robert Greenberg, Mozart: His Life and Music
Series of lectures by a professor of music. He is way over the top; listening to him is more like listening to a stand-up comedian than to a typical professor. But if you don't mind that or like it, it's fun. Of course he spends much of the time vociferously debunking various myths about Mozart's life. (One I didn't realize was a myth, although I should have, is that "Amadeus" is not Mozart's real middle name; that is, he was not christened that and didn't use it during his lifetime, except as a wordplay.) There are bits of good music, if you like Mozart music and/or his contemporaries. I thought Greenberg could have done a more thorough job of explaining what to listen for in the music, but he did do some of that.


Fiction

Kerry Greenwood, Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher #1)
Continuing

Tessa Harris, The Anatomist's Apprentice (Dr Thomas Silkstone Mysteries #1)
Narrated by Simon Vance, who is very skillful but I am starting to hate him. This series "uses a fictional character Thomas Silkstone to examine the beginnings of forensic science, anatomy and surgery" (sez Wikipedia) and is set in the late 1700s. There's a lot of dissection/autopsy porn. It's got a classic mystery plot (country estate, lots of suspects, dark family secrets revealed, etc.) that's done well until just before the end. There's also a romance, which I didn't find very compelling. I didn't like the ending very much.


Games

A New Beginning
Daedalus point-and-click game/story about time travel and environmentalism. I got sucked into it (there's good voice acting and the Bent Svensson character is interesting), but I didn't really like the story. There is an interesting female protagonist but she gets verbally abused a lot throughout the story (for incompetence), she has a technical job but constantly has to ask male characters about technical stuff, and then she sacrifices herself at the end to save the male protagonist. There were some things I liked about the gameplay, but I am not clever at lateral thinking (or grinding through trying every combination of possibilities) of the kind that this game often relies on for its puzzles, so a lot of the puzzles were too obscure for me, and I used a walkthrough.
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http://www.npr.org/2011/08/09/139248590/top-100-science-fiction-fantasy-books
NPR's 2011 Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books
as voted by listeners (readers)
and all the finalists: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists

Key:
Have read
Have started but not finished
Want to read or re-read
Hated!
!!!!! Loved!
????? Should I read this?

!!!!! 1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (!!!!! the radio play)
3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
(!!!!! the first one)
????? 5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
Read more... )
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What are you currently reading?

When Gravity Fails (Marid Audran #1) by George Alec Effinger
I'm really glad I'm listening to the audiobook this time. I'm able to focus on some of Effinger's awesome writing that I missed before because I was gobbling the book to find out what happens next. I am really impressed by how much and what kind of attention is paid to the female/trans characters. Marid has a male gaze "gaze of people who find women attractive," but it's so much less othering than most male protagonists'. I just got through with a beautifully written section where Marid is describing his girlfriend put on her makeup. It doesn't seem like it should be hard to write this way, even for men, but I almost never see it. (Note, some of the language and concepts used to describe trans characters is outmoded and might be offensive.)

On the Edge (The Edge #1) by Ilona Andrews
Urban fantasy/romance. Ilona Andrews is the pen name of a husband and wife writing team. This started out OK but now the protagonist is being hounded and manipulated by two men with romantic designs on her, and she seems completely unable to handle it. I'm really sick of that trope, so I might give up. (If you have read it and can tell me one way or the other whether it gets past this, let me know.)

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

Breaking Waves: An Anthology for Gulf Coast Relief edited by Tiffany Trent and Phyllis Irene Radford
Ocean-themed, mostly SFF short stories and poetry

What did you recently finish reading?

A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King (#3 in the Mary Russell series)
The mystery they had to solve in this novel wasn't all that great, but I love King's writing style, and I really like the character of Mary Russell, and I like how the marriage is progressing. So I will read the next one. And now I'm very curious why [personal profile] wild_irises said "I hate A Letter of Mary with the kind of blazing passion we reserve for books that break the "rules" we've decided to care most about." (I can think of several such rules that were broken, but I don't know which one(s) she meant.)

What books did you acquire this week?

The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan, which won the Tiptree this year
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What are you currently reading?

When Gravity Fails (Marid Audran #1) by George Alec Effinger
Cyberpunk noir. My third or fourth time through this novel, although I've read the other two in the series only once so far. Effinger creates/captures a culture different from his own and people with sexualities and genders that aren't the same as his in ways that seem compassionate and mostly non-Othering. The novel is set in the future in a city where the majority population is Arab and Muslim. I can't speak to how accurate Effinger's portrayal is of this culture, and I'd welcome opinions about that. This time I'm listening to an audiobook version narrated by Jonathan Davis. Overall Davis captures Marid and the other characters pretty well, but I'm a bit frustrated because I can't figure out the rules he is using to decide when to use his native American accent and when to use other accents.

On the Edge (The Edge #1) by Ilona Andrews
Urban fantasy. Ilona Andrews is the pen name of a husband and wife writing team. I've read a couple of books in their Kate Daniels series, but I got stalled in that series for some reason. Part of it is that there were a lot of fight scenes that I found too long and boring; that's not the only thing, but I'm not sure I can articulate the rest. So far I'm liking this one better but I'm not very far in.

A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King (#3 in the Mary Russell series)

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

Larger Than Death by Lynne Murray (#1 in the Josephine Fuller series)

What did you recently finish reading?

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner (Riverside #2), audiobook narrated by Ellen Kushner, Barbara Rosenblat, and others

Produced by Neil Gaiman. Read by Ellen Kushner, Barbara Rosenblat, with the help of some other actors. I thought the production (which is being marketed as "illuminated") was too busy—there were random sound effects such as swords clashing, people murmuring in the background, doors opening and slamming. The narration was also very theatrical. I like more low-key narration, so this took some getting used to. I ended up liking the narration OK but I never did get used to the sound effects.

I liked the story quite a bit—the playfulness of this setting; the way sexual orientation is almost entirely a non-issue; the exploration of adolescence, gender roles, and class. Most of the characters are complex, interesting, and on journeys that involve growth and change (although there's a cardboard villain and another character who is entirely admirable...and I REALLY wish the female scholar hadn't been stereotyped in the way she was).
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What are you currently reading?

A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King (#3 in the Mary Russell series)

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner (Riverside #2), audiobook narrated by Ellen Kushner, Barbara Rosenblat, and others

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

What did you recently finish reading?

Lilith's Brood, (aka Xenogenesis), Octavia Butler. I loved this so much even though I was seriously creeped out by it. Alien aliens! Real biology! Ambivalence, adaptation, allies, bonding, captivity, coercion, communication, conflict, consent, enemies, family, freedom, gender, genetics, genocide, healing, hierarchy, identity, knowledge, needing, reproduction, resisting, sex, symbiosis, telepathy, tribe, wanting, war, xenophobia.
These essays are linked from the Wikipedia page; I posted them before but I thought they were worth posting again.
"Dialogic Origins and Alien Identities in Butler’s XENOGENESIS" by Cathy Peppers
Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy: A Biologist’s Response by Joan Slonczewski

August Heat by Andrea Camilleri (Montalbano #10). Audiobook. Montalbano is a Sicilian cop. Almost all the novels are about sex crimes, and I usually figure out the plot before the end, but I like them anyway. The translator and narrator are really good.

What books did you acquire this week?

The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri (Montalbano #11)
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What are you currently reading?
Lilith's Brood, Octavia Butler

A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King (#3 in the Mary Russell series)

What did you recently finish reading?

The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution by Sean B. Carroll (audiobook). I liked the parts where he was talking about how scientists are finding evidence of evolution via gene sequencing and other studies of the details of chromosomes and DNA. But there wasn't enough of that. I didn't like the parts where he talked about how and why creationists are wrong—I agree that they're wrong, and maybe it's actually important for every popular science book about biology and evolution to make this point at length, but I am bored with reading about it.

Where Angels Fear to Tread by Thomas E. Sniegoski (#3 in the Remy Chandler series). Urban fantasy where the protagonist is an angel who has chosen to pass as human. Very broad strokes of comic book style horror with some characters who have names from the Bible, although the similarities pretty much end there. This one felt more broadly horrific than the previous two. It wasn't all that well written, but I gobbled it, and then felt vaguely queasy afterward.

What books did you acquire this week?

Picture book about the White Pass Scenic Railway tour in Skagway, Alaska
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What are you currently reading?
Lilith's Brood, Octavia Butler

Where Angels Fear to Tread by Thomas E. Sniegoski
I switched from audiobook to ebook for this series because I wasn't loving the writing style enough to want it read to me. I found the beginning annoying. But I've only read a few pages so far.

The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution by Sean B. Carroll (audiobook)

What did you recently finish reading?
Dangerous Mourning by Anne Perry, #2 in the Inspector William Monk series, set in the mid-19th century. Audiobook well narrated by Davina Porter, one of my favorite narrators. Although it's called the Monk series, this book's main protagonist is Hester Latterly—she does the primary footwork for solving the mystery. I really liked it for its attention to class and women's issues, and for character development. I also think Perry does a good job with dialogue.

Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire, the fourth book in the October Daye series. Liked it a lot. McGuire does a great job of pacing and reveals and drawing out the story arc.

What do you think you’ll read next?
I'm going on a trip without much Internet access, so I downloaded several ebooks:

A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King (#3 in the Mary Russell series)
Larger Than Death by Lynne Murray (#1 in the Josephine Fuller series)
Cranford by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
The Vampire Files, Volume Two omnibus by P. N. Elrod (contains books 4–6 in the series: Art in the Blood, Fire in the Blood, and Blood on the Water)
Ventus by Karl Schroeder
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What are you currently reading?
Dangerous Mourning by Anne Perry, #2 in the Inspector William Monk series, set in the mid-19th century. The first book in this series was interesting but not a standout. But I'm really liking this book for its attention to class and women's issues. Some books use an historical setting as an excuse to let protagonists be sexist and racist with impunity, but this one does not. (And as a result some of the characters' attitudes are probably more modern than they would really have been.)

Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire (October Daye #4)

Lilith's Brood, Octavia Butler

What did you recently finish reading?

Elizabeth Peters, Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody #1)
Mystery series set in late-19th/early-20th (this book in 1884-85). The protagonist is based in part on a real Victorian novelist, Amelia Edwards. This book was written in 1975. There is quite a lot of racism in this book, unfortunately. Not the hateful kind but the "they're so backward" kind. It's probably historically accurate to some degree.

P.N. Elrod, Bloodcircle (Vampire Files #3).

What books did you acquire this week?
Where Angels Fear to Tread by Thomas E. Sniegoski
Ancient, Ancient, short fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam. One of the 2012 Tiptree winners.
Cloud and Ashes: Three Winter's Tales by Greer Gilman. One of the 2009 Tiptree winners.
The Mount by Carol Emshwiller
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What are you currently reading?

P.N. Elrod, Bloodcircle (Vampire Files #3). Urban fantasy/detective-mystery. I find these books kind of interesting and calming, but some people might find them dull. The're set in the 1930s and written sort of in the style of old pulp noir novels, but they're somewhat less gritty and less sexist/racist than many of those. In this one more than the previous two, I think, there's somewhat more telling than showing, at least in the first chunk. I mean there's a lot of time spent on characters telling each other about things that happened in the past, and characters watching other characters, which isn't the usual style for genre fiction these days. The partnership between the main character and the sidekick is unusual. There's very little tension between them, and they're more or less equal partners, although with different strengths. So again that makes less opportunity for high drama than in many genre books. I like that the vampires in this series have some traditional vampiric traits along with the "drinking blood" one.

Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire, the fourth book in the October Daye series.

Lilith's Brood, Octavia Butler. Hey, I just found an article about this trilogy by Joan Slonczewski, who is one of the guests of honor at Wiscon this year: "Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis Trilogy: A Biologist's Response" in which she says vague spoilers )

What did you recently finish reading?

Driving Mr. Dead, Molly Harper. Paranormal romance one-off set in the Half Moon Hollow universe. Harper is a great comic writer, and some parts of the subplot about the heroine's fiancé ring true. There's something off about the characters in this one though. The vampire starts out with a certain personality and then suddenly changes to another personality, and I'm not persuaded as to why. Actually that makes me realize that characterization is just not Harper's strength in general, or perhaps I should say that her characters in general are kind of broad. (The main protagonists sometimes have more depth.)
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
What are you currently reading?

Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire, the fourth book in the October Daye series.

Lilith's Brood, Octavia Butler

Driving Mr. Dead, Molly Harper. Paranormal romance one-off set in the Half Moon Hollow universe. Harper is a great comic writer. There's something off about the characters in this one though.

What did you recently finish reading?

Once Burned (Night Prince #1), Jeaniene Frost. Audiobook narrated by Tavia Gilbert. Paranormal romance, spinoff from the Night Huntress series, featuring Vlad, a secondary character from that series. Frost writes a compelling storyline with good pacing, but I didn't like this as much as I like the Huntress books because the protagonists' points of conflict are too similar to those of the Huntress books. Unfortunate, since Vlad in the Huntress books was different from your run of the mill "centuries-old powerful vampire" protagonist...he was powerful but seemed to have a sense of humor about himself. In this book he's not that way.

Great Detective Stories (contains Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter," Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Crooked Man," and G.K. Chesterton's "The Man in the Passage"), narrated by David Case.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Maybe Nalo Hopkinson's Sister Mine, because the OH got it out of the library.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
What are you currently reading?

Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire, the fourth book in the October Daye series

Lilith's Brood, Octavia Butler

Great Detective Stories (contains Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter," Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Crooked Man," and G.K. Chesterton's "The Man in the Passage"), narrated by David Case. David Case is one of my favorite audiobook narrators.

What did you recently finish reading?

Katherine Lampe, The Fits o' the Season. Fifth in the Caitlin Ross/Timber MacDuff series. This book relies on stuff that happens in the third (A Maid in Bedlam) and fourth (The Parting Glass) books in the series. Small-town fantasy/Paranormal romance but with a difference, in that the POV characters are human witches and shamans, not vampires/werewolves/faeries. This one is a set of interrelated shorts from Timber's point of view. Interesting magical and shamanic and violent things happen, but I especially like that it's an exploration of love for the long term, the kind you need to start building after the pedestal you stuck under your loved one crumbles. A lot of urban-fantasy/paranormal-romance books look at this from the point of view of a female protagonist, but this book looks at it from the point of view of a male protagonist.

Charlaine Harris, Grave Secret, the fourth and (so far) last in the Harper Connelly series (paranormal fantasy/mystery). Harris started this series in 2005, after her other series (although the Sookie Stackhouse series has lasted longer). Harper Connelly is a psychic with a single talent, the ability to sense corpses and know what the person died from (but if the person was murdered, she doesn't know who did it). She and her step-brother make a living by helping people using this talent. I think Harper Connelly is Harris's most interesting protagonist. This book has a mystery in it like the others, but it also delves heavily into Connelly's past and family dynamics.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Maybe Nalo Hopkinson's Sister Mine, because the OH got it out of the library.

What books did you acquire this week?

Philip K. Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (the Kindle edition was on sale for $2 last week, and a friend recommended it to me).

Melissa Scott, The Kindly Ones. I don't know anything about this, but the Kindle edition was free last week, so I figured why not.

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