First round, focusing on books acquired recently:
The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho
I had forgotten this was only a novella; also it doesn't have chapters. But I read the first few pages and found it hilarious and decided it was a definite keeper. (I went straight back and finished it after I'd read the remaining four first chapters.)
Younger by Suzanne Munshower
This was a Kindle First offering last month. The prologue totally has me sucked in: a woman going on the run, her boss suddenly dies, there are secrets afoot to do with an experimental treatment that makes people look younger? Keeping this one.
The Book of Deacon by Joseph Lallo
The God Decrees by Mark E. Cooper
Defender by Robert J. Crane
I got all three of these in: Quest: Eight Novels of Fantasy, Myth, and Magic, which I was alerted to by Lindsay Buroker, whose first novel (which I've read and enjoyed) is in it. Sadly all three of these were boring me before the end of the first chapter.
I was a bit worried I was getting "bitch eating crackers" about epic fantasy, so I went back to Buroker's The Emperor's Edge and confirmed I still like that first chapter. These three just aren't my thing.
I think it's a good fun addition to the series but not my new favourite. It's very crowd-pleasing: there's a steady stream of funny bits and one-liners, and a running joke about swearing, and some nice little cameos and references, as well as some very effective dramatic big action sequences.
I was pleased that they had a lot of the wider team either making appearances or referenced in conversation, and also that big themes of the film are MCU-typical Yay Teamwork but also very explicitly Protecting people is more important than beating up bad guys.
Everything from now on will be spoilery.
( spoilertastic babble )
(yay Star Wars trailer)
I have a huge promotional tin of popcorn bigger than my head and I doubt I'm going to finish it. But it is a pretty tin.
Normally I am not that bothered about paperwork and get it done without much bother. I have been getting very stressed and procrastinatory about this set though. fanf made the mistake of asking me a couple of months ago why I "didn't just get a deed poll" and got a minor rant in return. The problem was not that the passport process was hard - it never was. It was that I was not doing the thing I knew I needed to do and descending into a stress spiral whenever I thought about doing it. I did eventually manage to split the job down into the smallest possible steps and slowly tick each of them off, and tonight was the glorious final bite of that elephant.
Anyway, passport is the last step. Pretty much everything I can change without it is changed. In general: organisations selling me things are happy for me to use whatever name I like; organisations running financial services have to meet anti-money-laundering regulations which result in very similar requirements which the passport will meet; everyone has their own process and many of them seem a bit thrown by the idea of reverting to birth name without getting divorced.
It would definitely have been easier to get the passport first (or a deed poll) and then the bank accounts, and then just trump every process by waving the passport and or bank accounts at them. I did want to see how far I could get without it, but I'm tired of that game now.
When Leonard and I lived in the Bay Area and drove south to Bakersfield to see his mom every few months, he got a satellite radio subscription. I'd navigate the music channels and look at the device to see the name of the artist and ask him to guess. When he couldn't tell, he often guessed "REM" (for loud stuff) or "Belle & Sebastian" (for quiet stuff).
Right now I'm working on an ambitious fanvidding project and am thus watching a bunch of other ambitious fanvids (e.g., chaila's "Watershed", danegen's "Around the Bend", counteragent's "Coin Operated Boy") to take notes on technique (e.g., exactly how many 100%-dark frames serve as a good stutter in frightening montages, versus how many blank frames help reset the eye and prepare it for a new sequence). Just now I was watching "Another Sunday" by Jescaflowne, set to "We Built This City" by Jefferson Starship. I checked the timecode scrubber. "Hey Leonard," I said facetiously. "Did you know that rock songs used to be four and a half minutes long?"
He looked at my screen as we made up Freakonomics-worthy nonsensical explanations of why this used to be the case. "What show is that?"
At this, Leonard developed a hypothesis that Stargate Atlantis and Supernatural are like REM and Belle & Sebastian, viz., if he can't tell what fandom a vid is, and there are spaceships and lots of guns, it's SGA, and if there are no spaceships and nearly no guns, it's Supernatural.
As a data point, I've watched zero SGA and one ep of SPN ("Fan Fiction"), but have spent happy hours enjoying fic and vids about both, particularly the critical readings -- if you're waiting for Ann Leckie's next Ancillaryverse installment, you could do worse than reading "Second Verse (Same as the First)" by Friendshipper/Sholio. I wonder whether the same thing will happen to me with Teen Wolf.
So many things about travel are only things I remember when I travel. Which is a shame, because some of those things I forget when not traveling are bad things about travel and I wouldn’t spend so much of the rest of my time puttering around being all “why am I so mysteriously averse to traveling? how strange!” Sure, I never forget the things about airports and aircraft being hostile to all things normal and human, I remember my three continuous days of insomnia after getting home from Romania in 2007, things like that. But that’s physical discomfort. I forget the emotions. I don’t remember the defensiveness of wanting to spend multiple consecutive days in dark hotel rooms (probably culture shock), I don’t remember the constant loneliness that nicely counterbalances that so that I’m unhappy even in the hotel rooms and I don’t remember the homesickness on top of it all.
I don’t remember the punch in the gut of “almost everything I love best in the world is somewhere else entirely”.
These memories obviously brought to you by being in San Francisco rather than Sydney right now. How else would I be accessing them? And you shouldn’t think of this as an unusual trip for me, this is pretty much every damn time. Not non-stop of course, or I probably would remember better why I have mixed feelings about travel. No. It’s an acute problem and I’m right in the target zone for it: more than halfway done with the travel, mostly done with the reason for the travel, why can’t I go home now?
As I’ve been telling people, last Thursday night was my first night away from A, ever. That Friday night through to this coming Monday night were/will be the second through twelfth nights, respectively. So that’s not helping either. Apparently she’s been pretty fine with it, which is in character. She doesn’t mind when we get babysitters, she doesn’t mind being dropped at daycare, it turns out she doesn’t noticeably mind that I vanished a week ago and that a couple of days later, V vanished too. (He’s gone to visit my parents.) C’est la vie?
On the bright side, I’ve finally been to Montreal! Which is actually part of this whole sad pattern too: I get this way worse when I travel as far as the US East Coast, or Europe, than I do otherwise. But still, I’ve finally been to Montreal! I didn’t really understand their seasons until I was flying in and I noticed that the waterways were still iced up, which I have never actually seen before anywhere, let alone anywhere in the middle of spring. I didn’t leave the city, but I did go and specifically look right at the river at Vieux Port. The ice was pretty slushy but it was extensive. I went to Notre Dame, which I wouldn’t have chosen for myself but am happy about; I wasn’t aware of the French Catholic history of Montreal and the cathedral is beautiful.
I was very Australian about the temperature, which is to say, it was above freezing, so why wear a coat? I run very hot in any case, even other Australians regularly look at my outfits and say “but aren’t you cold?” However by Monday, it was 22°C anyway (up from about -5 the week before) so I didn’t have to shock everyone for long. There was definitely much less ice visible on the way out.
Australian or not, I will admit that walking in the rain on Friday when it was about 3° and I had left my raincoat, conscientiously lugged all the way from Australia, in Outremont was a bit of a challenge.
I was there for PyCon and AdaCamp. The former confirmed that if I want to go to PyCon, some day I just need to go to PyCon and stop thinking that I can go on a work trip and actually attend the conference too. A number of people I know were very surprised to hear I was there given that they didn’t see me at all, and probably some more will be surprised when they read this. I have a more reasonable approach to AdaCamp: I can attend some of it and I do, and it is much as I picture.
I’m in San Francisco now. I think five hours or so is the worst length of flight. Long enough that I spend about four hours thinking “OK, surely we’re nearly there” and checking out the flight map to find out that nope, we are in no way nearly there, short enough that there’s no institutionalisation to the plane environment. Just non-stop outrage the whole way. Plus no one feels sorry for you afterwards, unlike my Sydney to Vancouver to Montreal itinerary which caused some appreciative intake of breath from Montrealers.
Four more nights.
What I've read
SPIN by Nina Allen
This was for bookclub, and I liked it very much but found the (apparently intentional) ambiguity mildly irritating, and would have happily read a more straightforward book for at least as long again. I conclude that Nina Allen is very talented but possibly not to my taste.
Partner by Lia Silver
Third in the Werewolf Marines series I adore, I've read it twice and like it very much and am so glad these books exist and I can read them, and there's at least one more to look forward to :-) Partner continues from Prisoner (free at Amazon and Smashwords) with rather more sex and romance as well as lots of evil spy agency action, and resolving in a happy ending while leaving at least one thread open for further stories.
Hild by Nicola Griffith
Another one for book club, though I didn't actually manage to finish it before our discussion, I did enjoy it enough to finish it shortly afterward. It's very immersive and beautifully written and I'm not quite sure why it's marketed as fantasy when it's very clearly novelised history, like Rosemary Sutcliff (only less aimed at children).
Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon
The only book in the local library system by Josh Lanyon, this is a modern (1990s?) murder mystery set in LA. The police think the murdery mystery author friend of the victim did it; he knows he didn't, and it's possible he might be next. I enjoyed it and am resisting buying the entire series in ebook until I've caught up my backlog a bit. [ahahaha]
Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James
Continuing my progress through farcical Regency romance; this book wraps up a quartet of related novels and allocates happy ever afters all around.
The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho
A funny novella in the form of a diary by Jade Yeo, book reviewer in 1920s London, who gives a scathing review to the darling of the literati and then gets into even more trouble. I loved Jade's voice, I loved her cleverness and pointed commentary, and I was completely caught up in the story until the end. I've got a short story collection by Zen Cho waiting to be read, and am looking forward to it on the strength of this.
Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt (dnf)
Meh. I wanted to like this; its by the same author and earlier in the series as the Regency Batman romance and there is nothing obviously wrong with it, but it wasn't really working for me; when I did get interrupted and put it down for a few days, I found it very hard to pick back up. (also the whole "gin is terrible and should be banned" running plot keeps annoying me because of my support for drug law reform - speaking of political message fiction).
I keep thinking I'm just being moody and finding things to dislike, but then I go back and remember how much I liked Hild and Partner and The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo and Your Wicked Ways. So I think I'm actually just being very picky at the moment which, given my books:time ratio, may not be a bad thing.
What I'm reading now
Hellbender by Dana Cameron, third in the urban fantasy series with an archaologist protagonist, following Seven Kinds of Hell & Pack of Strays.
What I'm reading next
Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh before it really has to go back to the library
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie - rereading so I can write it up/discuss it in bookatorium
Justice Calling by Annie Bellet which I just bought because it was already on my wishlist thanks to davidgillon and she's just withdrawn from the Hugo ballot, and it's 99p on Kindle.
I’m in San Francisco from tomorrow (Wednesday) until Sunday! Most of the trip is a work trip, but I have figured out that I can make use of my Double Union membership when I’m in town and have fun, chill events in the space.
Double Union event: Button-making & crafts with Mary Gardiner
Mary Gardiner, our Australian member and a co-founder of the Ada Initiative, will be visiting San Francisco and wants to use our button-maker! Come make buttons and do assorted crafts (vinyl-cutter, 3D printer, sewing, etc.) and hang out with Mary and Valerie!
When: Sat Apr 18, 2015 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Where: Double Union on Valencia Street between 14th Street and 15th Street. See the visitor information.
This is open to Double Union members. It’s also open to non-Double Union members who are my friends!
For my friends
If you are not a Double Union member, and we’re friends, please email me at my personal address to let me know you’re coming. People of all genders welcome.