Books Meme + Update

Jul. 26th, 2017 04:35 pm
wendelah1: Fox Mulder reading (reading is fundamental)
[personal profile] wendelah1
Tomorrow my husband has an appointment to see someone who isn't his doctor because his doctor is on vacation. He's feeling worse rather than better. Maybe he needs a different antibiotic. We'll see.

I'm tired and distracted. I'm thinking about defaulting on my kidlit exchange. I can't focus on writing.

~/~/~

Books I finished:

Jane's Warlord by Angela Knight. This is yet another time-travel romance. The time-travel plot is silly but when isn't it? The serial killer plot is even worse but that's not why you're reading this book. The romance is standard fare. Warrior Boy from the future travels back in time to save newspaper girl, they have the best sex like ever, and girl returns with boy to his own time (and planet--did I mention he's not from Earth?) and they live happily ever after. She gets to take her cat, too. Luckily, the universe doesn't break from the strain. If you like your heroes to be hyper-masculine, super-human sex machines and enjoy sex scenes featuring bondage without safe-words between total strangers, this might be just what you're looking for. How do I even rate something like this? One star because it was a quick read, especially since I skimmed the sex scenes.

Time and Again by Jack Finney. It's an illustrated novel from 1970. Spoilers ) I thought the premise of the book was intriguing enough to keep reading but the execution left something to be desired. I solved the big mystery at the center of the novel by the end of the paragraph in which it was introduced. The romance fell flat. The ending was a complete dud. The style was serviceable Two lukewarm stars.

Books I abandoned:

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. I checked this out because of the Amazon series, which I can't watch. A consolation prize? I know it's a classic but dammit, the book is boring. I didn't care about the characters. The plot seemed inconsequential, which given the premise, is pathetic. Maybe the series is better written. Anyway, after 67 pages, I'm done with it.

The Peppered Moth by Margaret Drabble. You should know that I have read and enjoyed a number of Drabble's books. This was not one of them. It was about genetics and the English class system. I didn't get through an entire chapter of this turkey. Books about unpleasant characters leading unpleasant lives need a hook and she didn't provide one.

Books in the pipeline:

The third and final book in the kid-lit series I'm reviewing for my kid-lit book exchange. Title withheld.

Francesca, by Ezra Pound

Jul. 26th, 2017 11:36 am
runpunkrun: tree on a grassy hill against a blue sky (et in arcadia ego)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
Francesca

You came in out of the night
And there were flowers in your hand,
Now you will come out of a confusion of people,
Out of a turmoil of speech about you.

I who have seen you amid the primal things
Was angry when they spoke your name
In ordinary places.
I would that the cool waves might flow over my mind,
And that the world should dry as a dead leaf,
Or as a dandelion seed-pod and be swept away,
So that I might find you again,
Alone.



angry when they spoke your name )
musesfool: Reboot Uhura (never tell me the odds)
[personal profile] musesfool
So on Monday the realtor I've been working with sent me 10 listings to choose from and I said I liked five, and so I'm seeing 2 out of those five tomorrow evening (the two most expensive and also the two I was least interested in. funny how that works out. the one that was my fave accepted an offer yesterday and is thus off the market now. Sigh. eta: and there goes my second fave, with an accepted offer. but I'm seeing the last one on Saturday, so there's hope! I like each of these three, just not as much as I liked the other two and also they each have one drawback or another, I guess./eta). I'm trying to keep an open mind, but I'd really like to see the two I like more before I have to make any decisions.

How can it only be Wednesday? Yesterday felt like it was 8 days long in and of itself. Sigh.

What I've just finished
Nothing.

What I'm reading now
Still on Abaddon's Gate. I like it but not as much as the first two books so it's taking me longer to read (the fact that I haven't been getting a seat on the train hasn't helped). I feel like the new characters are not nearly as interesting as Avasarala and Bobbie, though I like Anna and Bull just fine. Melba, otoh... On the plus side, spoilers ) I'm about a hundred pages from the end so I'm guessing there's still some excitement to come.

What I'm reading next
Regardless, I did pick up the next book - Cibola Burn - because I do want to see what happens next. I just also wish we got the POV from the others on the Roci instead of all Holden all the time there.

***
selenak: (BambergerReiter by Ningloreth)
[personal profile] selenak
Having now read three of the four books the first two seasons of The Last Kingdom are based on, I find my original suspicion that Bernard Cornwell novels benefit from adaptions into other media because these take you out of the main character's head justified, though not always quite in the way I assumed. Because the novels are narrated by an older Uthred looking back, his narrating self can sometimes point out things his younger self did not yet see or realise, for example, that he wronged his first wife Mildrith, or that he underestimated Alfred early on because a chronically sick non-warrior valueing learning and feeling guilty about sex could not possibly be a strong leader in his young eyes. Otoh, older, wiser Uthred narrating still doesn't change the fact most female characters come across as more dimensional and fleshed out in the tv adaption than they do in the novels (Brida and Mildrith in the first, Hild and Aelswith in the second season - Iseult, alas, is a cliché in both versions).

The tv show cut or compressed various characters and slimmed down events, and given that they do two books per season so far, that's not surprising. But even if they took a longer time, I think some of the changes and cuts were to the narrative's benefit. For example: Cornwell has to come up with some pretty convoluted circumstances and far-stretched plots to have a teenage Uthred who is still with the Danes secretly present when Prince (not yet King) Alfred confesses about his carnal lapses to Beocca. In the book, he needs to be because he's the narrator and neither Alfred nor Beocca would have told him about this. The tv show dispenses with said circumstances and just has the scene between Alfred and Beocca, without Uthred secretly listening in, because he doesn't need to be in order for the audience to get this information about the young Alfred.

Mind you, dispensing with the first two times Uthred meets Alfred and letting their first encounter not happen until after Ragnar the Elder's death creates one important difference between book and show relationship that's worth mentioning. Book Uthred lies to Alfred (and Beocca) these first two times and point blank spies on them for the Danes, so the later "why do you keep distrusting me?" indignation rings a little hollow in this regard. Show Uthred does no such thing, so Alfred is accordingly less justified in his lingering ambiguity.

Another cut that somewhat shifts perception: the first novel has Uthred participating in a few Danish raids led by Ragnar, including one on Aelswith's hometown (though she doesn't know he took part). Now, in the show we go from Uthred the child to adult Uthred directly and adult Uthred is solely seen at Ragnar's home, with the deaths of Ragnar & Co. impending, but given adult Uthred later is shown to be already a skilled fighter, it stands to reason he practiced these skills. But I suspect the show avoided showing Uthred fighting against Saxon civilians this early on deliberately. Both show and books have Uthred loving the Danes but staying with the Saxons post Ragnar's death because various circumstances (and then Alfred's machinations) make it impossible for him to do otherwise. Only the book, though, spells out that Uthred doesn't start to feel any kind of identification/emotional connection to the Saxons until he sees them winning a battle (until then, narrator Uthred says, he hadn't thought Danes could lose, which makes sense given that throughout Uthred's childhood and adolescence, they were winning), when before he regarded them as weak and didn't want to think of himself as belonging to them. Which makes sense given Uthred is raised in a warrior culture and is a young, arrogant adolescent at the time, but again, I suspect the tv version avoids spelling this out in order not to make him off putting early on when establishing the character.

Otoh, the scenes the tv show adds in the two seasons where Uthred isn't present all serve to flesh out the characters in question more and work to their benefit, whether it's Alfred, Hild, Aelswith or Beocca. The notable exception is Guthred in s2, whose additional scenes make him look worse, not better than the novel does. Possibly, too, because in the novel Guthred is described having an easy charm that makes Book!Uthred forgive him even the truly terrible thing Guthred does to Uthred, and the actor playing Guthred on the show doesn't have that at all, and instead comes across as nothing but fearful, easily influenced and weak. (And show!Uthred while coming to terms with him doesn't forgive him.) I have to say, lack of actorly charm aside, given that Guthred does something spoilery to Uthred ), I find the tv version more realistic.

The push-pull relationship between Uthred and Alfred is there in both versions, but in the tv show, it comes across as more central. As my local library has it, I also read "Death of Kings", the novel in which, Alfred dies, not without manipulating Uthred one last time into doing what he wants him to do, and Uthred's thoughts on the man later, summing him up, are Cornwell's prose at its best:

I stood beside Alfred's coffin and thought how life slipped by, and how, for nearly all my life, Alfred had been there like a great landmark. I had not liked him. I had struggled against him, despised him and admired him. I hated his religion and its cold disapproving gaze, its malevolence that cloaked itself in pretended kindness, and its allegiance to a god who would drain the joy from the world by naming it sin, but Alfred's religion had made him a good man and a good king.
And Alfred's joyless soul had proved a rock against which the Danes had broken themselves. Time and again they had attacked, and time and again Alfred had out-thought them, and Wessex grew ever stronger and richer and all that was because of Alfred. We think of kings as privileged men who rule over us and have the freedom to make, break and flaunt the law, but Alfred was never above the law he loved to make. He saw his life as a duty to his god and to the people of Wessex and I have never seen a better king, and I doubt my sons, grandson and their children's children will ever see a better one. I never liked him, but I have never stopped admiring him. He was my king and all that I now have I owe to him. The food that I eat, the hall where I live and the swords of my men, all started with Alfred, who hated me at times, loved me at times, and was generous with me. He was a gold-giver.


Last Yuletide I added a Last Kingdom request at the last minute because I'd seen it had been nominated, and accordingly it was short, but this Yuletide I think I'll also offer, and will request in more detail and more characters. While the other historical tv shows I consumed during the last year were entertaining in various degrees, this was the only one which was also good.

TV Bulletin Board

Jul. 26th, 2017 09:22 am
colls: (Default)
[personal profile] colls posting in [community profile] tv_talk
Active DW communities:
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Any other TV comms around DW? Please let me know.

Keeping Track:
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Member's Corner:
[personal profile] shadowkat posted (NO SUBJECT)
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**********More member's posts are here
Have one that I didn't link? Feel free to leave it in the comments.

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CRIME DRAMA AND POLICE PROCEDURALS

Suggestions and feedback welcome.
yourlibrarian: Duran Duran on a boat (OTH-DuranRio-jeansmx)
[personal profile] yourlibrarian
1) The Road Home by Michael Thomas Ford stopped soon after it got interesting. Read more... )

2) The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst is literary fiction rather than a romance, even though the story revolves around a gay man's relationships. For various reasons it seemed to me like a cross between Gatsby and Brideshead Revisited. Read more... )

3) Speaking of books, I found this discussion about a recent trend in thrillers marketed to women something I was ambivalent about. Read more... )

4) HT to Petzi for this news: Chevrolet is discontinuing the Chevy Impala. Looks like it will be departing at the same time as Supernatural is.

5) HT to Paula for this article about the 100 greatest movie props. Although it's a reminder to me that I'm not a big movie watcher, I liked the idea of reviewing symbols. Also, Star Wars fans may be interested to read about the creation of light sabers.Read more... )

Book Post: Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Jul. 25th, 2017 09:59 am
igrockspock: (book)
[personal profile] igrockspock
Ruby, the title character of the book, is a black woman who fled to New York City when she was young but ultimately comes home to a black township in East Texas. Adjusting to life in the South after the freedoms of the North is harder than Ruby realizes it will be, and the pressure of her barely suppressed childhood traumas quickly results in severe mental illness (or, to be more accurate, something modern readers will quickly recognize as mental illness, while the townsfolk mostly blame her for "not keeping herself under control"). Ruby herself believes that she is haunted. As a child, she witnessed terrible things happening to other children, and now the souls of those children flock to her for protection. Readers get the choice of how to interpret these "haints" -- as a symbolic representation of being trapped in a moment of trauma, or as literal ghosts that cling to Ruby's skirts. The situation comes to a head when Ephram, who loved her from afar as a child, sets himself as Ruby's protector amid fierce opposition from his ultra-religious sister.

This book contains serious triggers for rape and child abuse, both of which are referenced below the cut.

I need to discuss this book with somebody (spoilers) )

Fic Recs: 2x11 Excelsius Dei

Jul. 24th, 2017 09:21 am
wendelah1: Mulder sitting behind his desk hiding his face behind his hand (facepalm)
[personal profile] wendelah1 posting in [community profile] xfilesficrecs
This is the worst episode of the season so don't bother watching it, if you haven't already. I hate this piece of gossa more each time I see it. Not even my love for Teryl Rothery, who played Dr. Fraser on Stargate SG-1, can save this mess. NEVER AGAIN.

Mulder's dismissive attitude toward "ghost rape" might be understandable except when you consider that Agent Spooky believes in "ghost everything else," as the Monster of the Week writer points out in their instructional video: "Elderly Ghost Rape: Know Your Rights." You should check that episode out. It was a classic, even for MoW.

MULDER: I think this will turn out to be a huge waste of time just like all the other X-Files on entity rape. Unsubstantiated phenomena.

Honestly, does that sound like something Mulder would even say? Are there more stringent criteria that have to be met in order for ghost rape to be taken seriously and investigated, as opposed to other crimes committed by spectral phenomena?

SCULLY: But in a substantiated crime.

And a serious crime, which no one except Agent Scully is the least bit interested in investigating. Come on, Mulder. Unsubstantiated phenomena is the very definition of an X-File.

What else makes this the worst? How about creepy old people hopped on magic mushrooms. Cultural stereotyping. An apparent cure for Alzheimer's disease that no one seems interested in pursuing further. Exploding bathrooms. Angry ghosts. And finally, an ending where no coherent explanation, paranormal or otherwise, is even hinted at by the writer.

Oh, and for the record, registered nurses who work in nursing homes do not give bed baths, or change beds, or clean patient rooms. In service of this ridiculous plot, the character needed to be in a patient room alone, so she got assigned the duties that are done by the housekeeping staff. This is how it actually works: There is one RN on per shift; she is in charge of the rest of the staff; they do all of the bedside care; she does physical assessments and writes care plans; when needed, she calls the doctor for new orders.

If I were handing out grades, this episode would get an F minus.

Fanfic Recs

There is only one post-ep fic for "Excelsis Dei" at Gossamer. Luckily, it is a good one.

"Butterfly" by Oracle
Rated PG | 30K | Category SRA | Archived 04-12-31
Spoilers: Excelsius Dei
Keywords: Mulder/Scully romance. Alternate universe.
Summary: 'I can still see it, Mulder. Every detail was perfect, as though we'd never left that place.

Sign-up period EXTENDED!

Jul. 24th, 2017 04:50 pm
weasleytook: (Default)
[personal profile] weasleytook posting in [community profile] crossovering
We understand that sign-ups are complex (particularly in this exchange) and many participants have more time to complete a sign-up on the weekend. Because of that, we have decided to extend sign-ups through the weekend. 

So with that in mind, your new sign-up deadline is: Sunday, July 30 at 12 (noon) p.m. PDT. (
Countdown here!)

We still plan on sending out assignments on the 30th, as planned. However, if matching proves difficult, we will adjust the schedule accordingly. Everyone will still get the 2 month window to create their assignments, even if we have to shift dates a little.

Relevant links:
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Illness memoirs, like child abuse memoirs, have a number of pitfalls. They’re about depressing topics and so are hard not to depress the reader, they’re often by people who don’t write professionally and so are not well-written, and as the subject is inherently self-focused, they can very easily come across as self-absorbed. Even if they manage to avoid those problems, many are valuable works of self-help, self-revelation, community-building, comfort, and calls to action… but are not interesting to someone who mostly wants to read a good book.

This one is a good book.

Julie Rehmeyer, a mathematician and science writer, chronicles how chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalopathy (CFS/ME) crept up on her until her entire life had vanished and she was frequently completely paralyzed. While she desperately tried to find a treatment, she instead encountered an array of quacks, snake oil salesmen, nice but useless therapists, nice but useless doctors, a patients’ community full of apparent crackpots, and medical literature claiming that it was a mental illness caused by, essentially, being lazy and whiny.

In desperation, Rehmeyer finally starts listening to some of the apparent crackpots… and when she applies her scientific training to their ideas, she finds that stripped of the bizarre terminology and excessive exclamation points, they sound surprisingly plausible. With her entire life at a dead end and nothing left to lose, she reluctantly decides to try a treatment which is both radical and distinctly woo-woo sounding.

And it works.

But unlike every other “How I cured/treated my illness by some weird method” memoir, the story doesn’t end there. Instead, she not only researches and theorizes about how and why it might have worked, she interviews scientists and doctors, and even arranges to do a double-blind experiment on herself to see if it’s a real cause of her symptoms or the placebo effect. I cannot applaud this too much. (I was unsurprised to find that every article I read on her book had a comment section claiming that her results were due to the placebo effect.)

Lots of people have suggested that I write about my own horrendous illness, crowd-sourced treatment, and jaw-dropping parade of asshole doctors who told me I was lying, a hypochondriac, or crazy. While you’re waiting… read this book instead. Though it’s not the same disease and she was treated WAY better by doctors, a lot of her experience with being beaten over the head with bad science and diagnoses based purely on sexism was very similar. As is much of her righteous rage. I am way more ragey and less accepting than she is. But still. It’s similar.

Overall, this is a well-written and honest memoir that shines a welcome light on a poorly-understood illness. Rehmeyer's perspective as a science writer provides for clarity, justifiable anger, and humor as she takes apart the morass of bad science, victim-blaming, and snake oil that surrounds chronic fatigue syndrome. It's informative without being dry, easy to read and hard to put down.

Through the Shadowlands: A Science Writer's Odyssey into an Illness Science Doesn't Understand

monday list

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:28 am
runpunkrun: combat boot, pizza, camo pants = punk  (punk rock girl)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
Things to do today:
  • make granola
  • take a shower
  • read Star Trek fic
Things I already did:
  • made appointment for eyeballs!
  • ate breakfast!
Things I probably won't do:
  • figure out how to finish this fic
  • work with me here Rodney
  • you've had three years
  • stop mooning around on the sidewalk
  • and end this
  • or I swear to god I'll set fire to everything you love
  • I'll do it
  • fire is much easier to write than a happy ending
  • ask anyone
musesfool: Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel (not alone in the dark)
[personal profile] musesfool
I cried my way through Gifted on Saturday, and I can only hope CEvans decides to do a sideline in loving dad roles going forward because it's a good look for him. Needed more Octavia Spencer, though.

And yesterday, I watched Orphan Black: Gag and Throttle
spoilers )

In SDCC news:

+ the Black Panther stuff all looks AMAZING
+ Thor: Ragnarok looks delightfully charming
+ Infinity War looks like a hot mess but features beardy Steve in a black stealth suit and Bucky with a new arm, so I'll get over Natasha's blonde hair, I guess. The ability of any movie to service so many characters, otoh...
+ Justice League looks like two separate movies being smooshed into one - I am into Wonder Woman and Aquaman, as well as Alfred and Jim Gordon, but skeptical of everything else. is this a spoiler? )
+ The Star Wars books in the lead up to The Last Jedi look like fun (CHEWIE AND THE PORGS! Legends of Luke Skywalker! A 16yo Princess Leia book! A Canterbury Tales-like anthology! With authors like Ken Liu and Elizabeth Wein and Saladin Ahmed in addition to Claudia Gray and Chuck Wendig!) I am excite!
+ I like that Captain Marvel is going to be set in the 90s - it explains why they cast someone so young as Carol, though I wonder if that means they'll recast for present-day Carol or what. And Nick Fury will be there! And maybe we could get a Peggy Carter cameo!

I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting atm, but work keeps interrupting. Sigh.

***

Fic Recs: 2x10 Red Museum

Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:26 pm
wendelah1: (Barbecue sauce)
[personal profile] wendelah1 posting in [community profile] xfilesficrecs
These are the same two fics that I recced the last time I did recs for this episode. They're linked--it's the same story, told by two different authors. "Camera Lucinda I: Latency," written by tree, is from Scully's point of view. "Camera Obscura I: Latency," by A. Kelley Nolan, is from Mulder's.

I think Nolan explains it better than I can.

Some really nice people suggested I explore the Mulder/Scully relationship through my personal timeline of their history. They're probably going to regret that. Nonetheless, this is the first in a series of several stories that will attempt to do just that, from Mulder's point of view. This is a companion series to "Camera Lucida," told from Scully's point of view. You should immediately go read tree's brilliant "Camera Lucida I: Latency." Honestly, you really must read them as a pair. We insist.

Thanks: To Anjou, for the initial spark. And a paean of praise to the beta goddess tree, for transoceanic encouragement and advice, for editing of uncommon brilliance, insight, and diplomacy, and for gamely and beautifully taking on Scully. This is an entirely different, and infinitely better, story than it would have been without her. And it was a whole lot of fun, too.


The link is to Nolan's author page at Gossamer as direct linking is not permitted.

"Camera Obscura I: Latency" by A. Kelley Nolan
EMAIL: akelleynolan@yahoo.com
RATING: R for sexual situations and language
CATEGORIES: VRA
KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully romance
SPOILERS: Season 2, specifically the abduction arc and "Red Museum"
SUMMARY: It was there all along, just waiting to be seen, waiting to develop.

Camera Lucida I: Latency (3316 words) by tree
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The X-Files
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Fox Mulder/Dana Scully
Characters: Dana Scully, Fox Mulder
Additional Tags: Missing Scene, Red Museum
Summary: Companion piece to Camera Obscura I: Latency by A. Kelley Nolan. A missing scene from "Red Museum."

Originally, they'd planned a series of paired stories but only these two were written, alas. I once wrote to Nolan to ask what had happened (of course I did, you all know me) but she never wrote back. I don't know what her timeline headcanon was so I'm left wondering what was going to happen.

They're both lovely but I tend to favor tree's just a little because, well, tree writing Scully is about as good as it gets for fanfic.

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