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Sep. 16th, 2014 @ 06:04 pm books, early September
What, we aren't still in August? I think we are still in August. Except for the weather. That can be exactly like today as long as it wants.

Ilona Andrews, Bayou Moon. Did you think we were done with Ilona Andrews? NO WE ARE NOT.
Yeah, that’s all I have. Except that Andrews clearly have favorite characters and they are all in the Mire family.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Back at the library, readin’ the books in the back room....
This is definitely a Book for Schoolchildren. I can remember hearing people talk about the mangled Pledge and later wondering what the hell was going on in that writer’s head, to swap in real words like ‘vestibule’ which none of my classmates had ever heard of, thank you. Maybe I read The Moon Bridge that reading period or something*. As an adult rather than a kid, I was mostly... meh. I think as a kid I would have been meh as well, but for different reasons.

*Mrs Knapp of Carl Sandburg Middle School had a great thing with reading. Each little while, we got a new reading group. We signed up according to brief previews of the books, which were roughly themed, and kept journals during reading discussion groups. I can remember these books much better than the ones in the mediocre reading textbooks we had up until then.

Bruce Coville, My Teacher Fried My Brains. Meh? I read this because I read part of it as a teacher read-aloud and let me tell you, Coville knows what he’s doing with read-aloud. I mostly mismatched it because I’m not actually ten, so I wanted way more angst and way less smart-is-a-thing-you-are.

Catherynne Valente, The Bread We Eat in Dreams. I skipped “Fade to White” because I couldn’t, no seriously, and enjoyed almost every bit of this. Most of the poems I skimmed because poems, but I did try and some had interesting things going on.

Bruce Coville, My Teacher Glows in the Dark. I had read a portion of this to my kiddos at Penn, along with the previous one (I kind of jumped in and out, being a sub).

An Apple for the Creature, ed Charlaine Harris and Toni LP Kelner. A mixed bag, and not in an interesting way as Wolfsbane and Mistletoe was. Supernatural school stories. Mike Carey’s “Iphigenia in Aulis” was the best.

Mary Robinette Kowal, Shades of Milk and Honey. I once characterized this book as safe. In the sense that it wouldn’t wrench my heart out of my eyes with emotion.
This is not true. It wasn’t true then, either, but it was truer in the sense of all the big scary books that I am still not reading lest I have a feeling.
I set this book down ten minutes ago and said to Angela, “I am having a feeling.”
I want a Mr Vincent.

Bruce Coville, My Teacher Flunked the Planet. Not the ending I was expecting, but then, I figured the book was painted into a corner. I’m not sure if I would like it more twenty years ago. Probably, as I wouldn’t be critiquing the aliens’ methods.

Mary Robinette Kowal, Glamour in Glass. Continuing with my reread. This one drops off my radar save for the title-- I know what happens, I know what Jane and Vincent discover, and the entire emotional arc goes over my head. I can see it, but not feel it.

Without a Summer. Oh, poor Jane. You have walked directly into every mistake you make in this book. I expected it to be much more uncomfortable on reread, but instead it’s satisfying.

Valour and Vanity. Last extant book, mope. In the previous volume, I reread the trial scene; in this one, I reread the part with the soap.

As an entire, almost, set, I’m not sure what I think of each book being a different sort of story. I’d like to return to the very contained, constrained debut, almost, to see what Jane and Vincent do at a house party or something, when they’re in the form of an Austen novel but not shewing its style.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes, The Naturals. The things that bugged me about this book reminded me of Kelley Armstrong’s YA books-- the kids taken to a special school where there’s nothing academic happening, the archetypes of Hot Rich Good-Looking Guy and Grumpy Mr Right, the teenagers saving the day, the All Is Not What It Seems.
The part of this that bugged me most, in a generally really enjoyable book-- I mean, seriously, no one lies about what the ‘school’ is or hides talents from each other-- was that Cassie, the narrator, is just naturally better at profiling than anyone who’s been through years and years of FBI profiling training. Because what you are is more important than what you do. Your heritage determines your destiny. Nature over Nurture, every time, every book.
And really, that’s a thing I understand. If we take the wish-fulfillment aspect of YA, that’s the wish that makes the most sense. We can’t all be trained as thieves or relentlessly turn ourselves into gymnasts, actors, academic successes, or anything else, not at sixteen. At sixteen, I think there’s more anxiety about the work involved in becoming, as an active verb. Discovering a hidden talent or destiny makes you special without you having to work for it, to want it-- to own it.
I notice this kind of thing in large part because of a Wiscon panel I didn’t go to. I want more of the opposite.

Ilona Andrews, Gunmetal Magic. Not quite as good as the first time through, in part because enough little things add up in the worldbuilding to make me roll my eyes. Still worth reading, though. And now I want a Roman too.
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Sep. 5th, 2014 @ 08:42 pm books, late August
This is going to be a very one-note booklog. That note? WERELION.

I have some thoughts as to why most urban fantasy (that I read, at least) centers on the werewolf rather than the vampire. Beauty and the Beast probably has a hand in it, plus the cowboy vs proper English lord archetypes, but there's also the dead person vs fluffy puppy and that shapeshifters have a wider range of folklore to draw from. Werewolves aren't sexless corpses, nor do they make mindless thralls, nor, in general, do they have any special requirements for survival-- a vampire can't be a vampire without requiring blood (and a sexy vampire can't be a sexy vampire without requiring blood or sex) but a shapeshifter is more flexible.

That said, I did read a couple things that weren't urban fantasy.

Loretta Chase, Vixen in Velvet. I almost forgot to log this because of the Andrews binge later. Perfectly good Chase. That’s not meant to damn, just that it did its job, it had interesting people and solutions.

Jennifer Crusie, Trust Me on This. I had forgotten just how time-compressed this book is-- and in fact how time-compressed all Crusie is. I don’t think I’d put it together, this book’s four days and an epilogue, Agnes’ week, Bet Me’s relatively long month, Manhunting and its... week? Two weeks? No wasted time here.

Ilona Andrews, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, Magic Bleeds, Magic Slays, Magic Rises, Magic Breaks.
I have no idea why I suddenly had to have all the Ilona Andrews. But I did. Maybe it’s because the latest one wasn’t quite in my hands at the beginning of the month, and neither was anything else, so I just kept reading the excerpt. Whatever the reason, I went absolutely batshit about Ilona Andrews for the entire fortnight. I mean, seriously. At this moment, I have every book of hers but Gunmetal Magic and On the Edge within sight. I read the Curran stories even though they weren’t long enough or wrong enough about Kate. I would cheerfully read more. This is all I want to read right now forever.

“Magic Mourns”, “Magic Tests”. Because I also checked out the novellas.

Magic Breaks. I’m pulling this one out on its own because it’s the one that isn’t a reread. There’s a preface with background and a note saying that it might read like a final book, but it isn’t, and that’s a bit weird. It falls into the New Place Trap-- this would be that no book in a series has ever been improved by going to a new place-- and does it somewhat worse than Rises, but has a good alternative to the choice Kate has had throughout the series.
I also ran into trouble explaining the ending to the boy. He’s of the opinion that you always go after the big bad, here paraphrased as ‘God’, rather than any sort of prudence. In case of Lovecraft apocalypse, I am shoving him at the squids and running.
I might reread this one before it goes back to the library. I seem to have a problem.
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Aug. 31st, 2014 @ 10:07 pm Sunday, back again
I have not gone outside or put on real clothes or brushed my hair or done anything but lie about, nap, read, and be on the internet. I brushed my teeth when I realized what kind of day it was going to be.

Long weekends are great.
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Aug. 30th, 2014 @ 02:20 pm this has not been a good week.
Everything in the universe is trying to yell at me. Or at least it feels that way.Collapse )
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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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