vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

Second of the Spatterjay (sub-)series in Asher's Polity universe. Takes place about ten years after the end of the previous book. We do, again, follow several different viewpoint characters, on all sorts of moral sides of any situation that may happen in the book. Some are returning characters, some are new.

I'd definitely recommend starting with the first book in the series, but all in all an eminently readable book.
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I still have to review Extra Virginity as well, but I actually liked that one, so it will take longer to compose….

One of the things I did get done yesterday between work, the ball game, and the Epic Sunburn, was finish a slim book of short stories called A City Equal to My Desire by James Sallis. This wasn’t a book that was recommended to me, which means I don’t have to feel bad about truly disliking it. I found it in a keyword search on the library website for books about ukuleles, and it has a short story called Ukulele And The World’s Pain, which admittedly was one of the better stories in the book despite still not being very good.

From what I can tell, he did pick the best story out of the book to develop into a novel, “Drive”, but it is very obviously unfinished in short-story form. Sallis has a couple of ongoing problems in the short story collection, one of which is that he tends to skip the vital information you need in order to know what the fuck is going on. And not in a “the blanks slowly get filled in” way, or in a “your imagination is more terrible” way (though there is a little of that) but just in a way where like…he says something that you understand to be vital to the story but which is missing context, then spends like a page describing the fucking diner someone’s sitting in, and by then any context forthcoming doesn’t get linked back. It’s like being in the middle of a paragraph when you hit the photo plates in an older book – yes the photos are very interesting thank you but I need to finish the thought you were sharing with me before I go back and look at them. I think maybe he thinks this is challenging the reader but it’s not, it’s just annoying and makes what are otherwise interesting premises totally opaque. I shouldn’t need to work this hard for a story about a hit man who decides not to kill a politician. 

If the book had a more cohesive theme in terms of the stories, it might be more readable – he clearly enjoys building worlds and then doesn’t quite know what to do with them once he’s built them, so if this was an entire book of “weird and different worlds” ala Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, I would buy in more fully and I think he would have put a little more elbow in. But it’s not. It’s mostly “here’s a really interesting world and a person living in squalor in it does something while being in it”. Also he appears to be fascinated by describing things that are shaped like pi. And a lot of times it feels like he read a wikipedia article on something and wanted to share some knowledge, so he just kind of built a half-assed story around his wikiwander. 

And all of this I would probably let go if say, it was something I was noticing in a fanfic writer, or someone who was just starting out, or someone I felt was genuinely trying to get a point across. But there’s this inexplicable sense of arrogance to the collection, a sort of smugness to it that in professional writers drives me up the goddamn wall. Stephen King sometimes falls into the same trap, where it feels like the author believes they don’t have to respect their readers because they are The Writer. 

The thing about volumes of short stories is that you keep reading it because sometimes there is a real gem. And there are one or two good stories in the volume, but I don’t know if they’re worth the rest of it. 

So my review I guess is mostly me being annoyed, but it boils down to “If you like short stories in the SFF Noir genre, give it a whirl, but if you’re bored with a story none of them get better, so feel free to skip to the next one.” 

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[personal profile] copperbadge
I am like….90% sure I’m going camping this Friday. 

It depends a bit on the weather, but I’m mostly packed, I’ve cooked food that’s currently waiting in the freezer, and I have acquired the third Diane Mott Davidson book to read. 

The plan is to leave work early, catch the train to the campground, camp overnight, and in the morning hike out to a different train station further down the line, about a seven-mile trek, to do a longer endurance test than last weekend’s. Then I’ll catch the train home around noon on Saturday.

If something goes wrong, I can catch an evening train home on Friday until eight o’clock, or starting in the morning at 5:30, with little to no exertion. It’s pretty low-risk and I’m well stocked. I don’t have a sleeping pad, but my backpack has a partial one built-in, and I have one arriving tomorrow (though it might be too bulky, we’ll see). And honestly in this heat, I might just sleep on top of my sleeping bag in any case. 

Worst case scenario, the campground has heated, lockable shower cubicles with nice big floors. I’ve slept on worse. 

Caaaaaaamping! *jazz hands*

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Yet Another Book Meme

Jul. 18th, 2017 12:46 pm
stardreamer: Baby Got Book! (books)
[personal profile] stardreamer
50 questions about books!

1. You currently own more than 20 books:
2. You currently own more than 50 books:
3. You currently own more than 100 books:
Let's just lump all these together under HELL, YEAH.

4. You amassed so many books you switched to an e-reader:
Not really. I added the Kindle app to my phone for traveling convenience, and because of a few things I wanted which were only available in e-form. But I still prefer hard-copy overall.

5. You read so much you have a ton of books AND an e-reader:
That would be me. I should note that I also have a TBR stack on my Kindle app.

6. You have a book-organization system no one else understands:
Mostly it's pretty straightforward. Where people might disagree is some of my judgment calls.

7. You're currently reading more than one book:
Generally speaking, yes.

8. You read every single day: Yes.

9. You're reading a book right now, as you’re taking this book nerd quiz: No.

10. Your essentials for leaving the house:
My belt-pack and cellphone. I don't have to carry physical books any more because of the Kindle app.

11. You've pulled an all-nighter reading a book: Yes, many times.

12. You did not regret it for a second and would do it again:
If that refers back to #11, yes.

13. You've figured out how to incorporate books into your workout: Workout?

14. You've declined invitations to social activities in order to stay home and read:
This happens in the other order. I decline a social invitation because I don't want to go, and then I end up staying home and reading instead of doing something else.

15. You view vacation time as "catch up on reading" time:
Not as a rule. If I've spent money to go somewhere and do something, I'm going to do it. Reading may happen during travel time or in the evenings.

16. You've sat in a bathtub full of tepid water with prune-y skin because you were engrossed in a book:
No -- reading in the bath isn't compatible with showers.

17. You've missed your stop on the bus or the train because you were engrossed in a book:
No, but I did miss a fork on the interstate once because I was listening to an audiobook. That was the only time I ever tried to listen to an audiobook while driving.

18. You've almost tripped over a pothole, sat on a bench with wet paint, walked into a telephone pole, or narrowly avoided other calamities because you were engrossed in a book:
No! I loathe people who aren't paying attention to what they're actually doing.

19. You've laughed out loud in public while reading a book:
Yes. And then glanced around to see if there was anyone nearby who'd be likely to appreciate the joke.

20. You've cried in public while reading a book (it’s okay, we won’t tell): No.

21. You're the one everyone goes to for book recommendations:
Only some people. It's pointless to solicit recommendations from (or make them to) someone who doesn't share your taste.

22. You take your role in recommending books very seriously and worry about what books your friends would enjoy:
That's putting way too much emphasis on a matter of opinion.

23. Once you recommend a book to a friend, you keep bugging them about it:
I may ask them, once.

24. If your friend doesn't like the book you recommended, you're heartbroken:
Disappointed, sometimes. Heartbroken... no, I don't invest that much of my ego into it.

25. And you judge them. HELL, NO.

26. In fact, whenever you and a friend disagree about a book you secretly wonder what is wrong with them:
I would wonder what was wrong with someone who actually did this.

27. You've vowed to convert a non-reader into a reader:
No, I don't tilt at windmills. If it's going to happen, it'll happen with or without me.

28. And you've succeeded: n/a

29. You've attended book readings, launches, and signings: Yes.

30. You own several signed books:
Many! I even use "autographed" as a tag on LibraryThing.

31. You would recognize your favorite authors on the street:
Some of them, because I know them socially from cons.

32. In fact, you have: If you include "at a con", yes.

33. If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, you'd choose your favorite writer:
Maybe. Still stiff competition from Howard Shore, though.

34. You own a first-edition book: A few.

35. You know what that is and why it matters to bibliophiles:
It's about rarity and historical interest. And bragging rights, for some of them.

36. You tweet, post, blog, or talk about books every day: No.

37. You have a "favorite" literary prize:
I take more interest in the Hugos than I do in other prizes, but I'm not sure that translates into "favorite".

38. And you read the winners of that prize every year:
Not necessarily -- even for the Hugos!

39. You've recorded every book you've ever read and what you thought of it:
I try to keep up-to-date with entering books into LibraryThing, but that's partly to make sure I don't re-buy a book that's on my TBR stack. Sometimes I write reviews, but I don't feel compelled to do so.

40. You have a designated reading nook in your home:
Not really. Mostly I read either at the table while eating, or in my favorite chair, but I don't think of them as "reading nooks".

41. You have a literary-themed T-shirt, bag, tattoo, or item of home décor: Yes.

42. You gave your pet a literary name:
Of the current pride, Grey Mouser, Sunfall (of Ennien), Spike (from the Toby Daye books), and arguably Loki and Kitsune are literary-related; Spot, Winnie, and Catgirl aren't.

43. You make literary references and puns nobody else understands:
Yes, and usually my friends understand them.

44. You're a stickler for spelling and grammar, even when you're just texting:
Mostly. In casual writing I'll allow myself some leeway, and I don't beat myself up over the occasional typo.

45. You've given books as gifts for every occasion:
Every type of occasion, probably. But not every single one of any type.

46. Whenever someone asks what your favorite book is, your brain goes into overdrive and you can't choose just one.
No. I have "all-time favorite" which doesn't change, and "current favorite" which does. I do sometimes get snarky and respond with, "You want me to pick ONE?" Especially since I like different books for different reasons.

47. You love the smell of books: Meh.

48. You've binge-read an entire series or an author's whole oeuvre in just a few days: Yes.

49. You've actually felt your heart rate go up while reading an incredible book: Probably.

50. When you turn the last page of a good book, you feel as if you've finally come up for air and returned from a great adventure:
Sometimes. When I do, I frequently go back and re-read it immediately.

(no subject)

Jul. 17th, 2017 08:48 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways to Give:

[tumblr.com profile] readera's partner, J, has been in the ER multiple times in the past three months, and their finances are very strained because of it. They're raising $300-$500 for transportation costs and medicine; you can read more and reblog here or give directly here.

[tumblr.com profile] sleepyheathen needs to make next month's rent and is selling items, offering commissions, accepting donations, and has an Amazon wishlist up. You can read more, purchase, or reblog here, or donate via paypal here.

[tumblr.com profile] tony-in-distress is trying to escape an abusive situation and hoping to take her siblings with her. She needs to raise enough money for a deposit on a safe house for her and her siblings to live in. You can read more and help out here.

Anon is raising funds to help a friend cover debt and pay for legal bills after her abusive husband took custody of their youngest son. You can read more and give here; unfortunately due to Australian law apparently they can't provide much information.

Sarah Sadat had to leave her job recently due to stress and is facing mounting medical bills for a failing kidney and previous hospitalization; she has surgery scheduled for next month, and is fundraising to help cover medical and other bills. You can read more and give to the fundraiser here.

[tumblr.com profile] ohstephyy was let go from a job three months ago and hasn't been able to get another one; there are also other costs coming up to cover. You can read more and reblog here; a paypal address is available at the post.

[personal profile] laurashapiro linked to a fundraiser for [personal profile] kuwdora, a talented vidder who is trying to become a professional editor. She has an opportunity for professional coaching from the editor of Burn Notice and Empire, but can't afford the expenses on her own. You can read more and help out here.

Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] tiarasnteakettles who is looking for work as a harpist, including attempting to purchase a harp that would be a massive upgrade from her current instrument and allow her more freedom in performance. You can read more about her situation and reblog here, including links to her Patreon and online store and Paypal donation address.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and has a fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

News To Know:

Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] wanderlust-anthology, an upcoming anthology of reimagined myths, legends, and folklore based on the theme Quests and Journeys. They are looking for creators for this anthology, which will be a full-color printed book with stories, comics, and artwork. You can read more at their tumblr or at the FAQ here; sign-ups close July 30th.

Housing:

Riel is looking for a roommate in Austin, TX to share a townhouse; she and the other roommate (male) are both grad students, and they do have a cat. Riel is very fandom-friendly. Lease starts in August. You can check out the townhouse here and get in touch at ariellayendler at gmail.com.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously unread.

This is the, what, ninth? eighth? book in Stross's The Laundry Files and the wheels on the hand-basket are truly on their way out, along a radial trajectory.

This book sees the return of many faces from previous books, as we slowly see things unwind around Bob. I am trying real hard to not let anything slip here, you see, as I feel that approaching the book spoiler-free is the most, ah, enjoyable? way of reading it. Surprising at least.

Anyway, Laundry Files, if you've read some of them before, you know what to expect. If you haven't, might I humbly suggest that this is perhaps not the best starting point (although it may well work as an intro novel). We do a fair bit of POV shifting in this book, even if it's primarily a "Bob" book (we also follow Mo, Mhari and Cassie, as well as the occasional follow-the-baddies).

All in all, a gripping read. I shall blame technology (and not being completely done with the previous book in time for the release) for taking this abysmally long to finish off something that was released a whole 4 days ago.

NorthAmeriCon report

Jul. 15th, 2017 07:04 pm
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
[personal profile] stardreamer
Cosplayers 1
I've been saving up for this trip for nearly a year, because I wanted to have the experience of taking an overseas trip while I still can. And, sadly, it looks as though not only will this be the only such trip I ever take, but it will probably be the last time I ever fly anywhere at all. The default cabin pressure during flight has been raised from 5,000 feet to 8,000 feet, and at that virtual altitude I have Issues -- to wit, it knocks me off my feet at the other end for the rest of that day and most of the next as well. And that's on a 4-hour flight; I don't want to think about what might happen if I took a trans-Atlantic flight.

My flight out left at 10:35, but (working back) that meant I needed to be at the airport by 8:30, which meant I needed to leave home by 7:30, which meant I needed to get up no later than 6:30. Generous estimates all, but if the choice is between sitting in the waiting area for 2 hours and missing my flight, I'll take the former. And in point of fact, that's how it worked out; I was running early enough that the traffic thru downtown wasn't horrendous, I found the long-term parking lot I intended to use without trouble, and the bag-check and security lines were only 3 or 4 people long.

I had decided that since I was traveling solo, money spent toward making things easier for myself was worthwhile, so I sprang for the Early Check-In option with Southwest. This got me into the A boarding group, which meant that it was easy for me to get a window seat with bin space directly above it for my first carry-on bag. The flight was uneventful. Someone I know had told me that the San Juan airport was "a pit", but either it's been significantly spruced up since she was last there or she has a very different definition from mine; it was a lot like the Nashville airport. I retrieved my checked bag and got a cab to the con hotel (apparently the hotel itself doesn't run a shuttle).

The con )


Random notes:
- I would doubtless have gone to more of the panels if it hadn't been so goddamn cold on the convention level. I was feeling not really up to snuff all weekend for various reasons, and that made me even less inclined to sit in an ice-cold function room.

- I think this is the first con I've ever been to where I bought nothing from the con itself. There just wasn't that much to buy.

- Also because of not feeling up to snuff, I didn't take very many pictures.

- The streets in Old Town make the ones in the French Quarter look wide! One parking lane and one traffic lane, and you didn't see any SUVs or pickup trucks because there wasn't space for anything larger than a standard sedan to get thru.

- I had taken quite a bit of money with me, and came back with about half of it -- see above about nothing much to buy at the con. The largest chunk of what I spent, aside from the hotel, was on food and cabfare.

- I gave out a few no-Nazi buttons at the con, and two more to employees at the bookstore.

- Puerto Rico is primarily Spanish-speaking. Although everyone I interacted with was bilingual, all the signage outside the hotel was Spanish-only. I was happy to leave the navigation to my taxi drivers!

Bottom line: While I didn't get as much out of the weekend as I might have hoped, I'm still glad I went.

2017 - #72, "The Skinner", Neal Asher

Jul. 15th, 2017 01:55 pm
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

This is the first book in the Sptterjay series, set in Asher's Polity world.

Time-wie, the Spatterjay books fall well after the rest of the series (bar, possibly, Transformation), but as the first two books takes place entirely (or almost entirely) on the planet of Spatterjay (see how the planet meshes with the name of the series...), it's not massively important exactly how it lines up timewise.

We follow a couple of different viewpoint characters. Ehrlin is a Hooper (that is, someone who's been infected by the leech virus, present in most (if not all) lifeforms on Spatterjay), who's been away from Spatterjay for a while, having adventures. Janer is employed by a sentient hornet hive, that he (some decades ago) spent two years indentured to, for killing one of its bodies at a football match. Sable Keech is a reif (basically a cyber-enhanced walking corpse), and ECS monitor. Sniper, a war drone. And Windcatcher, which I shall say nothing about. And a few more, who get walk-on POV roles.

Fundamentally, this is a story about loss and revenge. And how these things change, as time passes. I guess there's some talk about life and what immortality may mean for the human condition.

Again, this is a Polity book so it's kinda grimdark, in places.
moon_custafer: (Default)
[personal profile] moon_custafer
 Finished reading Many Dimensions (1931) yesterday. I've been trying to ration Charles Williams' novels, given that there's only a half-dozen. This one rates pretty high: moustache-twirling villain gets his hands on the Stone of Solomon! Time travel as trap! A mystical artifact whose powers include being infinitely reproduceable! Tetragrammaton! Heroic self-sacrifice! Kinky subtext!

No, really -- it might be because I looked up Williams and came across some stuff about his personal life, but the two main characters, Chief Justice Lord Arglay and his devoted secretary, Chloe Burnett; well, the villain just assumes they're sleeping together, the reader knows they aren't, but I really do think they're in some kind of non-physical but mutually satisfying D/S relationship. This is an important plot point, since in one chapter Lord Arglay is able to draw on the bond between them to free Chloe from Sir Gile's attempted mind-control and on the other hand, Chloe's ability to freely submit to someone/thing she respects and loves* makes her the only person able to wield the Stone properly, because unlike everyone else, she doesn't try to impose her own will upon it. 


* She's generally a people-pleaser, but when her Nice Guy(TM) boyfriend Frank tries to nag her into lending him the Stone so he can pass his exams, she refuses.
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
A mango mixed jelly freeze from Chinatown is the best decision I have made all week.

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[personal profile] copperbadge
My parents signed me up for Nextdoor, which is like some kind of community-based mini facebook, and I am signed up in their neighborhood, which is (as we have established) The Boondocks.

I don’t mind belonging to their Nextdoor, it means that I will be kept abreast of local news, but also the local news is hilarious. 

The latest messages concern a HEATED DISCUSSION about hoof trimming because someone posted asking if anyone knows a farrier who will trim miniature horse hooves, which apparently most farriers have some kind of BASELESS PREJUDICE against according to this poster. Battle lines are quickly being drawn between the various camps including:

Miniature horses don’t need hoof maintenance the way regular horses do
Miniature horses ABSOLUTELY need hoof maintenance you monsters
Farriers who won’t do miniature horse hooves ain’t shit
Farriers who won’t do miniature horse hooves have their reasons
Miniature horses are some bullshit
Everybody shut up about miniature horses
I Have A Miniature Horse For Sale

I can’t wait to see who wins. I suspect it will be me. 

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[personal profile] moon_custafer
 zzszzzzzAz (Nana stepped on the keyboard.)

I seem to recall that in the past, I could see my Facebook friends' conversations, but couldn't join in unless I was friended to the OP. Has that changed? Lately I've seen some friends have to ask who the FOAF was who'd showed up on their wall and begun arguing vehemently with them.

Today I had to unfriend a high school acquaintance for this reason; he reacted by sending a PM saying he'd only friended me because he missed our late mutual friend Angus, and that I was "poisoning" his memories. Pretty much confirmed that cutting ties was a good idea, but it hurt that he dragged Angus into it.

Now I'm going to be wondering how safe it is to comment on anyone's FB post, if I'm forming a link to let anyone on my flist join in. I may have to go through it and pare down.

ETA -- reread his comments and it looks as though my friend's account might be set to allows FOFs to comment, but I'd still better think about who I might be bringing along when I comment.
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I just got home and the apartment REEKS of burnt toast. Which is weird since a) nothing is on fire (I checked), b) I haven’t even MADE toast in like a week, c) it didn’t smell like that this morning when I got home from running, and d) the smell is most intense when standing on my welcome mat just inside the door. 

I think Ghost is mad at me. They often express themselves with smells near the doorway. But I haven’t even done anything! The designated Ghost Drawer in the card catalogue shelf (under G, for Ghost) is open and everything, I checked. 

I cannot order you a pizza tonight, Ghost, I already have grocery delivery coming and I don’t want the Domino’s guy and the Peapod guy to make it awkward. We’ll have pizza on Thursday. 

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vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

First book in Jansen's Ambassador series. I must've confused this with another "interstellar ambassador" book, since my distinct memory was "ugh, do not like". This, as it turns out, is wrong.

Where was I? Ah, yes, Cory Wilson, our intrepid viewpoint character, is just about to start his job as ambassador for Earth to the gamra assembly, part of the interstellar crowd that run The Exchange (basically, what enables interstellar travel). And as part of the upcoming travel, he's talking to the president of the UN (well, it's called something else, and it seems to be an actual ruling body, and, you know...) when the unthinkable happens. And the unthinkable is taht there's a direct attack on said president, while our POV character is in the office.

And from there, things start unravelling at a frightening pace.

All in all, eminently readable. Now I'm vaguely interested in chasing down my previous post about this one.

(no subject)

Jul. 10th, 2017 08:18 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday! It's a brief one today, which I appreciate given I'm just getting back from vacation.

Ways to Give:

[tumblr.com profile] readera's partner, J, has been in the ER multiple times in the past three months, and their finances are very strained because of it. They're raising $300-$500 for transportation costs and medicine; you can read more here; they're currently working to add a donation link, so I would bookmark and check back in a day or two.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and has a fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

Help For Free:

[tumblr.com profile] steverogersandhiscyborglovers linked to a survey by the Vatican, which is asking for information about the attitudes and values of 16-29 year olds of all faiths, worldwide; it's available in Italian, English, German, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. This is the first time the Vatican has put out an online survey and it's an opportunity to share your opinions with the church (even if the demographic gathering is a little limited; they only offer "male" and "female" options for gender). You can take the survey here.


And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.

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