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Aug. 19th, 2014 @ 07:21 am sometimes there's no mystery
Dear Brain,

Wow, that was a really obvious dream. Are you feeling all right? I mean, no subtlety at all, right on the nose.
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Aug. 18th, 2014 @ 09:06 pm books, early August
Post-Alpha, and I realize I should probably post a thing about that, I work in binary.

Wait, that's normal.

Anyway, I am either lolling about reading and endlessly checking my email or I am furiously productive. You know the saying 'if you need something done, ask a busy person'? I am a great busy person. Except when it's like pulling teeth to do anything upward of taking a nap. Books are often how I switch between the two states.

Does that have anything to do with the booklog? I don't know. I had a point when I started and then I remembered another book.

Mary Balogh, The Escape. More good disability in romance. Not actually that great a book outside of that-- there really isn’t much tension and just about everyone is very reasonable and adult.

Ilona Andrews, Burn for Me. Good... except for the fact that this is marketed and written as a romance. She’s practical and devoted to her family; he’s an incredibly powerful, wealthy, sexy, celebrity... and pretty much a sociopath. She calls him on it in one of the best speeches ever. He thinks at the end that he’ll get her eventually. The entire dynamic is (probably accidentally) exactly the one she used to get the bad guy to become interested in her, exploiting the usual dynamics in his relationships because they are bad dynamics.

Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor. So much fun, in a completely not gleeful way! I nearly started this book again when I finished it. Maia is another protag who does exactly what I think and hope I would do, and I don’t think that’s an accident. I enjoyed this hugely.

Julie James, Love Irresistibly. A reread because Julie James.

Frances O'Roark Dowell, Ten Miles Past Normal. Sometimes I pick up random good-looking YA. Sometimes I find a sympathetic protagonist dealing with problems I understand and have dealt with myself. Sometimes I don’t.
Which doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. Just really, really not the high school discovering-self book I was aiming for.

Jennifer Crusie, Manhunting. I may be past this one as a light read. Still enjoyable, though.

Joan Johnston, Montana Bride. Oh man. Mail-order bride, only she isn’t, she’s masquerading as the mail-order bride who was herself masquerading as a widow and mother of two, and lies and trust and kids who are not plotmoppets. Contrived, yes.

Skin Hunger. Nothing in this book’s cover makes me think it’s the first of a trilogy or series (this is not entirely true, but the library sticker covers the series name). It’s also deeply uncomfortable to read-- more than that. This is a book to flip off continuously.

Joan Johnston, Texas Bride, Wyoming Bride. Twits! Twits all the way down! I vastly exceeded my recommended weekly dosage of these books. The first one is so full of ridiculous prequelbait it is not even ridiculous. And twits. So many twits. Every last twit. No one is sensible.

Ilona Andrews, Magic Bites. Weeeeird. There haven’t been that many books to turn Kate of the first one into Kate of the latest one, have there? I didn’t remember much of the plot and liked the reread. Expect more rereads of Andrews coming up. I’m antsy, school’s just started, and there’s nothing new coming out in this vein right this second.

Susan Wiggs, Candlelight Christmas. I needed a sedative. This worked.
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Aug. 10th, 2014 @ 10:41 am booklog, a shamefully late July
I meant to post this on the 23rd, before I left for Alpha, but I forgot. It seemed best to keep July together, even with the number of books I read, because I was going to lose that last week... so, yeah, I apologize. This is late and long. August will be back to normal.

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Understood Betsy.
A strangely satisfying book, though the amount of Montessori irritated me. I grabbed it from the free cart and the rec center months ago-- it’s a 1917 book about a child with a serious case of the helicopter aunties sent to rural New England, where everyone is all Montessori all the time. Parts of it are really good, parts of it could be vastly improved with proper communication, and I liked the bit at the fair.
I am not irritated in retrospect by the Christian Science in The Secret Garden. Maybe it’s an age-I-encountered-it thing.

Mercedes Lackey, Blood Red.
I had very little idea of when this was set, the fairy tale was dealt with in the beginning, and you know, this was just about exactly what I thought it was going to be. I could have used a big told-you-so scene at the end, though.

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Bloodwitch
Least satisfying book in months, or at least it feels that way. That ending, I mean. That ending.

Sarah Zettel, Bad Luck Girl.
A good conclusion to the trilogy, though parts of it were too easy. I’ll have to recommend this to the Alphans.

Melissa Cutler, The Trouble with Cowboys.
The third one in this set has a really good title, so I was going to bring that home in case it lived up to it, and oh hey there’s three of them....
I had to bring some shirtless cowboys into the house. I’m the only one of us who hasn’t yet.
This has too much family-is-forever for me, but it does a good job of working within the sexy-cowboy trope. Amy, the female lead, has a cowboy fetish. So all the gratuitous boot-ogling is actually a sort of character thing.

Cowboy Justice. Cowboys and people who love them: KEEP YOUR PANTS ON FOR TEN MINUTES. You’re all absolutely stupid with pantsfeelings, and I mean stupid in its truest sense.
Also, the first book opens with a woman who had a meltdown on reality TV wanting to stress-dice some celery. This one opens with a shootout and having to kill your horse. That escalated quickly.

How to Rope a Real Man. Tell me, could you see this title and not be at least a little curious? This book is responsible for the increase in shirtless cowboys at Plumberley.
The set as a whole pulls its punches. Increasingly dire situations are defused with sitting down to actually talk, and because everyone is reasonable, everything is resolved.
But then, I didn’t start these books because I expected them to be good. I expected them to be interestingly tolerable and suitable for an evening’s literary sedative.

Nora Roberts, The Collector.
Meh? Notable mostly because it’s the second romance I’ve read recently involving a lost Imperial Faberge Egg.

Melanie Rawn, Touchstone, Elsewhens, Thornlost.
Okay, just go read everything Marissa Lingen has to say about these three. Such disappointment. Much drugs. Wow.

Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods and Monsters.
Thrilling conclusion of a trilogy that involves angels and demons and no Bible. Taylor’s structure is weird again-- oho boy it’s just as weird as the first book only with more frustration-- and there are too many chapter endings that end with... OR SO THEY THOUGHT! or at least very similar tension-mounters, but look, it has Liraz the Most Badass of Them All and Zuzana and Mik being adorable and definable voices-- the standard snarky YA narrator is only present in certain Earth-educated scenes. It has cleverness. I am almost willing to forgive all the characters for not letting anyone on Earth what was going on. But only almost.

Connie Willis, Miracle and Other Christmas Stories.
I started this in 2011 but didn’t want to break Connie Willis’ writing again by binging. So, yeah. Not as good as some of her novellas, but some stories are good.

Robin McKinley, Rose Daughter.
Every single book I have from the library is scary. Every one. And when I saw this on the shelf, I thought, “I want to read a book about housekeeping.”

Jim Butcher, Skin Game.
I guess I’m still reading this series. I’m not thrilled about it, though. But as you may have noticed, I do not have to be thrilled.
At some point, though, all the things I know and notice are wrong will add up to No More Fun Dresden Times.
That said, because really that’s the baseline, this was enjoyable. I like the minor characters quite a lot, even if I have to put up with Harry’s soul-searching and being whapped upside the head with his arrogance (him whapped, not me) to get them.

Elizabeth Bear, Shattered Pillars.
I meant to read the third one just next, but that clearly didn’t happen. Still enjoying them, or at least appreciating them.

Seanan McGuire, Sparrow Hill Road.
I didn’t know what to expect from this, but a short story collection wasn’t it. I liked it as long as it was a collection; a third to halfway through, it grew novelplot and each piece became much less self-contained. Also, gratuitous Incryptid inclusion.

Mary Rickert, The Memory Garden.
In my head there is a genre called ‘like Practical Magic’ that now contains another book. It’s not an easy book to read, not least because I kept wanting to hide the wine, but once I settled into it I enjoyed it a great deal.

Anne Bishop, Written in Blood.
A reread because I wanted light Mary Sue and the sequel’s out. Boy, Bishop’s female antagonists are unilaterally terribly done.
I realized partway through that Meg is not only a Mary Sue-- sort of a Mary Sue?-- she’s a particular type: the one who does everything exactly the way the reader thinks the reader would in that same situation. Not only a good character, but someone whose basic sense informs all decisions. There’s something here that makes Meg different from other characters, more like Beauty in Rose Daughter-- perhaps it’s another book about housekeeping in the end, even with the problematic alternate history. Meg is who we all think we would be in that situation.

Murder of Crows.
A remarkable lack of tension here. Seriously, zero tension, a betrayal of the state No Sexy Werewolves Here, and a bit too Anne Bishop in how gender dynamics work. There are times I like Bishop, but the correct dosage is just under one book until something changes.

Loretta Chase, Mr Impossible.
Possibly my favorite of all of her books, mostly because Rupert is so... bluff. Hearty. Cheerful. He is pretty absent from all the other books in this set, so his reputation as a good-natured hellion is entirely in this one. Normally, that bugs me, but nothing about Rupert can possibly bug me.
I want a Rupert.
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Jul. 14th, 2014 @ 09:03 am advantages to the blood posts
I feel like it's time to give blood again. Middle of the month, right? Isn't that when I usually give?

Nope. I have another week or so. I'll be cleared... the day before I leave for Alpha. Bad, because who knows what I'll be doing that week, but good, because that gives me time to find a nice blood-donation book to read.
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Jul. 5th, 2014 @ 11:34 pm Fireworks accomplished.
This was the first year in a while that I haven't had company on my blanket, even if it's people I don't know.

I spent some of the show working out how to get figure out the distance of a shell using the speeds of light and sound. I'm not there yet, but I also haven't gotten paper.

I like that I'm not the only person who whoops and claps at the fireworks, especially at the end. It feels very celebratory, all of us cheering as the fireworks go off, our voices echoing if we could only hear them, percussion in our chests and throats and hands.
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Jul. 5th, 2014 @ 09:06 am thwarted
My plan: pick up the boy, come back to my house, walk downtown, eat some street food, put out a blanket, watch fireworks, walk back. Gorgeous, cool night, not very humid, people out (street harassment: 1), had some issues at the jazz festival because it was loud and crowded... and the fireworks, we learned, are not on the fourth but the fifth.

I am not okay with this. I mean, I am, I'm totally over it, but then I think about it and I'm a little upset.

I'm not very good at checking the dates of things I know are going to happen. I like the fireworks in part because I know where and when they are. Fourth of July, everyone goes to Jazzfest and puts out blankets in front of the Old Capitol and then there are explosions right down there in Hubbard Park, close enough that the fireworks people can hear us cheer, presumably, and then there's a river of people going back to cars or houses and I'm part of that. There's nothing wrong with moving the fireworks from a perfect Friday night to a probably-damp Saturday... but it was going to be a perfect night. Now it's going to be a slightly-nervous night because of the rain.

Come on, fireworks. Don't fail me now.
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Jun. 30th, 2014 @ 11:08 pm books from June
Kate de Goldi, The ACB with Honora Lee. I have no idea why this was shelved YA. It’s about a nine-year-old and has very little plot, even of the books-we-read-in-third-grade kind. The illustrations worked very well with it, though, and I enjoyed reading it.

Sarah Rees Brennan, The Demon’s Surrender. Yes, Evil Rachel, I finally read it. I’m glad I did. I’ve checked that book out about seven times now. It wasn’t as wrenching as the previous one, which beat me up and spit on me, and I think some of that is that Sin is... well, Sin is awesome, but she’s also an observer for most of the plot and she knows it. The Alan-and-Nick-and-Mae-and-Jamie show is pretty good even when there's no place for Sin the Bystander.

Laurie R King, A Grave Talent. I’m out of Mary Russell and these exist, so. This had a surprise... well, there was a lot of pronoun game, enough that my not-in-1993 brain started wondering if perhaps gender-ambiguous Lee might be gender-ambiguous in more than prose. Sadly, no, but then, it’s rare enough to find lesbians in 1993 not-about-ladies fiction. I’d love for this series to have more of an emphasis on the tension between private and public, since that’s a major part of this book, and for King to stop playing coy with information.

To Play the Fool. I’m just going to spoil the hell out of this for you.
FOOL: I know things and won’t tell you no matter what!
COPS: Look, this is really annoying.
FOOL: La la la!
COPS: This is really, really important.
FOOL: I can quote things!
COPS: No, seriously, really, really important. Like dead bodies important.
FOOL: Oh, sorry. *tells everything, solves mystery*

With Child. I think that King shines with Russell because Russell is awesome and I’d read about her rescuing pansies from dirt if she felt it necessary. Kate is not so, and I think that in writing Kate, King... missed. Plus none of the stories have enough ending or consequences, which I am beginning to realize is just something I’ll have to cope with in mysteries.

Julie James, Something About You. A reread. I like these characters.

Kenneth Oppel, Boundless. I would be so much more okay with the ending of this book-- and it is the ending that I quibble with, for the most part-- if the final disposition of the main character had been foreshadowed at all. He has one ambition, one new sort of ambition, and he ends up going with a third that neither develops his talents nor enriches the world. It's just the kind of thing kids are supposed to want.
I’m glad I read it, though. It’s a fun, solid book with creepy ecology around the edges.

Laurie R King, Night Work. Unsatisfying, possibly because... you know, I’m not sure why. I think the lack of ending is getting to me. I want to know more of how things wrap up.

A Darker Place. DENOUEMENT. PEOPLE. I need some RESOLUTION.

Julie James, Practice Makes Perfect. Reread, and glad for it. Light! Charming! Stands up even when I know what’s going to happen! Features Pride and Prejudice!

Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. I feel like I’ve read this before. Because I have. And then it was a memoir. Much of the memoir talked about the confusion between Real Life and What Happened In This Book because they are similar... and yet I feel that this book is also a treatment of something more interesting. Little details were thrown out, like Jeanette preaching at church, and never shown, never given weight. I want to read the book this is a reaction to. Like if Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? is the meta of Oranges, I want what Oranges is the meta of.

Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld. Not the book I was expecting. I had expected (had read about?) a book featuring the particularly strange science of Discworld itself, the slow light, the chelonium, et cetera, and this is a book about our world with a frame story of Discworld. I started counting female names when it became apparent that in the first two hundred pages, I’d get two and some ambiguous ones, but that’s as much the fault of historical and current science as it is the fault of the researchers. The book also... well, I didn’t understand some of the things I do understand. So.
Also, do all books about general science, starting from atoms and going to animals, end with possibilities for the end of the world and/or averting it? Because that’s depressing as hell.

Sarah Beth Durst,The Lost. I would have gotten into this better if anyone had explained anything at all to the narrator. Ever. I mean, drop me into a supernatural creepy town with its own rules and I’m finding the printer someone lost and putting out a Guide for the Newcomer including local customs, rules, survival tips, and folklore.
Plus a minor bit of dissatisfaction at the end.

Courtney Milan, Proof by Seduction. The first Milan novel I’ve reread, and it stands up. I wasn’t worried... but I was also terribly, terribly worried.
It also answers a concern I’d had about the sequel: we do not see Ned, who I adore, Down in his book. We see him thus here. I like that. A lot of his emotional arc takes place in this book instead of his own-- his crisis, but not his coping strategies. And I love Ned.

Trial by Desire. Ned, oh Ned, I love how this book is so much about you discovering that your coping strategies, which totally work, are not optimal. They do what they need to, in that you are still alive and functioning as a responsible adult, but this book is all about getting from 'surviving' to 'thriving'. Plus Ned.

Julie James, It Happened One Wedding. I'm not sure why the publisher decided to rebrand James' covers, but I really want those shoes in a form I would wear.
In other news, still Julie James, still lots of fun, nothing sticks out at me from a few days later.

Laurie R King, The Art of Detection. We are getting... okay, so the line between Fiction and Not Fiction is blurry with the Russell books. Now it is blurry with the Kate books as well. I am not strictly okay with this.
Also interesting, and surprising to me, was that this book takes place something like ten years after the previous one. The private/public tension I liked in the first book was never followed up on. The relationship tension of With Child was never followed up on. The mistrust from Night Work. All the conveniently dead killers, all the emotional fallout, never brought up again.
I don't know if I want to read enough mysteries to evaluate if this is an accepted genre trope or not.

Kelley Armstrong, The Sea of Shadows. Why doesn’t this say GREAT NEW TRILOGY or something? Because then I wouldn’t have picked it up. I want standalones. Or at least a standalone.
Also, the setting is a Japanesque fantasy world. The heroines are both white with red hair. Yes, it’s meant to reflect that it’s a multicultural empire rather than a monoculture, but... white with red hair.

Mary Robinette Kowal, Valour and Vanity. I love it when a book is exactly what I want and expect. Kowal comes through with that and I know I can depend on her. I kept pausing and telling Angela what was going on-- “Nuns!” “Right now the main problem is poverty, and they’re being so cute about it,” and, “Pissed off nuns!”-- because I was so delighted.
And that’s the word for this book. It is delightful.

Holly Black, Doll Bones. It’s not The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, but it isn’t trying to be. I can’t help but be weirded out a bit-- I’ve read Black’s YA but not her middle-grade. So a book that isn’t so-dangerous-it’s-sexy, a book that doesn’t have scars and blood in the backstory, a book that is about adolescence’s beginning rather than its end, is... weird? Refreshing? Either way, it’s a good book, creepy in many of the right places, even if it does miss what I thought was going to happen at the end.

Deborah Coates, Strange Country. What I learned in this book: the Badlands are a small place, compared to many places. We went there when I was eight or nine. In my head, the Badlands go on forever, like the Southwest. They are not something one drives through on the way to someplace else.
Coates’ voice is strong throughout the book; I think it would be great in audio, possibly better than in text. I found myself frustrated at a few points, wanting to snarl, “Why are you writing like that?” but it’s dialect and voice all the way down. I do not speak Big Empty Place. I speak Town with Sidewalks and Schools Surrounded by Corn and Dairy Cows. Big Empty Place is a little hardcore for me, especially given how many people there end up dead.

Alice Hoffman, The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Definitely by Alice Hoffman. She’s really good at writing the books she writes. Someday I will find more people who write like she does, and then I’ll have a lot of books to read.
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Jun. 25th, 2014 @ 08:54 pm because it is a thing
Gave blood. Uneventful. Tired now. (I did a lot of other things while I had the car out to give blood.)
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Jun. 11th, 2014 @ 11:25 pm three photos at a wedding
1) The ceremony was more Jesusy than I expected. The pastor talked about how men and women are partners, different in important ways, and how the woman must submit to her husband, who must love her as Jesus loved the Church.

The entire bride's side of the church made a discreet yet heartfelt growling sound. My mother muttered, "Submit, shit," and made another relative laugh.

Ceci, the bride and my cousin, shot him an oh-no-seriously? look. One of her friends caught it.

2) Because this is the first time in a while we've had all nine Haugh cousins together, we had a lot of group photos. A previous group photo involved the eight cousins doing reindeer antlers for some reason. Near the end, when we were tired of standing and smiling, Mom said, "Now antlers! So Chacho can do it!" because said cousin wasn't alive for the old picture.

We whined. We made disgruntled faces. We caved. We always do, with Mom.

"Now look pissed and flip off the camera!" JM shouts, and BAM it's done. No arguing. No hesitation.

3) The reception had a photo booth, which I thought would be cheesy and turned out to be fun. The Haugh sisters piled in, all four of them, and showed the pictures to the Suarezes because really, they were at least one-third adorable-- six shots per sheet, everyone was at least one-third adorable.

The Suarezes came back with five faces.

Don't do this. Not in Mom's hearing. Yes, she's the ringleader here as well.

So she comes over to the cousin table and announces that we have to beat the Suarezes. We manage it with eight, including Chacho, who then participates in the Suarez nine-person photo. They also have two people under the age of eight. Cheaters.

"We have to do more!" someone says, and I shut it down. We do not want to escalate this too quickly. For one thing, it's time to eat. For another, we want to walk up to the Suarez tables at the end of the reception and give them something they can't beat, even if it's only because the photo booth is shutting down.

Toward the end of the reception, we pile over there. We manage ten... but we can do better. We were strategizing as the flash went off, after all. So we try again.

And we walk that picture right on over to the Suarezes with eleven full-sized adults.

(We set two records for the photo booth: not only did we take more pictures than the photo booth guy had ever known taken, we were the only people to cram that many faces in.)
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May. 31st, 2014 @ 01:23 pm I will elaborate later.
Laurie R King, Garment of Shadows.

Dnf bc dialect. Nope. Nope nope nope. Ask me and I can explain.

Sherri L Smith, Orleans. The perfect book post-Wiscon even if I didn't like the ending. I appreciate the book more than I enjoyed it.

Cat Crimes II, Greenberg and someone else. Note to self: when the Cedar Rapids Gazette is the best blurb on the cover, when the copyright date is 1992, just don't.

Mary Anne Mohanraj, The Stars Change. Both Angela and I read this, and we agree: this is not erotica. At all. There must exist a word that means that everyone in the book has an active, healthy sex life but the sex isn't shown nearly as much as in a typical romance novel.

Someone, Formerly Shark Girl. Verse. Meh.

Kelley Armstrong, Brazen. No closure whatsoever on any front.

Cherie Priest, Fiddlehead. Not exactly the ending I expected, particularly the very ending where it really... well, it escalates.

Jenn Reese, Horizon. I still think the mermaids are wrong and so is how the snakes fight. But I have ranted about that to Angela multiple times.

Really. Ask me to design a mermaid sometime.

Probably some others. I wish I could remember. Will update when I can.
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