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samvara: Photo of a turnip with an angry face carved in it (Turnip)
Friday, May 3rd, 2013 10:01 am
A copy arrived unsolicited ETA: as a surprise gift from a friend in the mail last week for [personal profile] maharetr and another copy came addressed to me yesterday. I might have read it and was looking through the table of contents when I found this:

Book - Gender

The case examples throughout the book tell stories about men and women who have battled depression. in the case of presentations, the mixed use of "he" or "she" is easy, deliberate, and purposeful. How-ever, when I speak in general terms or in terms of principles, I use only masculine pronouns. Why? it is simply too clumsy and distracting to try to work both the masculine and the feminine into each idea. so, to make the book an easier read, I opted for the less-than-perfect choice of the traditional masculine. I hope you will understand that its a choice made not of ignorance or preference but of necessity.

Dear Michael D. Yapko,

I hope you will understand that I do not read works that contain hate-speak, it is a choice made not of ignorance or preference but of necessity.


*Interesting note: the Amazon preview does not display this page but the Random house one does.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Monday, August 6th, 2012 08:24 am
SF short story, interesting, sad, creepy. Training a smart house to do laundry is harder than you might think.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Monday, August 6th, 2012 07:30 am
Friends don't let friends date vampires.

Fun look at the vampire romance trope from the perspective of a determined and feisty lass called Mel. Her best friend thinks the vampire at the local high school is worryingly attractive... will their friendship survive?
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Monday, July 4th, 2011 10:13 am
LibraryThing Early Reviewers copy.

Romance. Professional woman gets all giddy over a hot moviestar and 'saves' him from a busload of teenaged girls. They then semi-accidentally meet for dinner and, despite his bodyguard's hostility, manage to snatch a quick conversation. I presume a romance ensues but  I stopped here. I'm uncomfortable with portraying teenaged girls this way, I'm uncomfortable with the main characters, with the lavish descriptions of hair and clothes and the underlying flavour of hostility to women (those women are evil but I'm not like them).

It's quite possible this will appeal to others but I've drifted pretty far from traditional romance novels and this wasn't working for me. It should be acknowledged that Cinderella was never my fantasy :)
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 08:39 am
Rex Riders by J. P. Carlson. LibraryThing Early Reviewers copy. Dinosaurs in the wild west; it's such a great (and yes pulpy) concept and the illustrations are seductive. Young Zeke Calhoun is constantly getting into trouble. His uncle doesn't understand him, and his attempt to helpfully ride a neighbour's valuable, escaped stallion isn't working out as he planned. When he stumbles across an unconscious alien and his domesticated juvenile T-Rex he gets an opportunity to 'borrow' an even more exciting steed. I read the first 233/440 pages then admitted I just wasn't into it and put it down. This reads like a first novel pitched at a young audience. I found the shifting point of view a little confusing, initially this read like Zeke's story and later it shifted to being... Uncle Jesse and Bull's?  The character development was a bit flat and the exposition chunky - telling, not showing.  I did love the T-Rex Zeke manages to ride and Carlson obviously did too. I probably wouldn't pick up another book by this author but I might recommend it to young, dinosaur enthusiasts.

The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan. Young adult fantasy. Book 3. The Ryves brothers are deep in crisis, the Market is at war with the Aventurine circle and the leadership of the Market is yet to be determined. I have so much love for this series. The point of view for the final book is Sin (Cynthia) and it's a joy to ride along with her as events unfold. I really value the personhood found in the characters, especially the ladies and I value how central their stories are. There is such a lovely balance of whimsical humour and emotional depths that I found myself giggling one moment and holding my breath the next.

Courtney Crumrin Tales Volume 2: The League of Ordinary Gentlemen by Ted Naifeh. I'm enjoying the back story but love the works that feature Courtney the most. I was unsurprised by the plotline but enjoyed watching it unfold - Aloysius' world is a creepily dark as I could hope for.

Pet Noir by Pati Nagle. LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Noir detective style short stories about a superkitty "feline investigator" engineered to go undercover on a space station. Leon works for the Security department until he pays off the cost of his creation. In the meantime he badgers his human partner for food and fights crime! I enjoyed this. Leon is a convincingly reluctant, cynical cat detective and Nagle has captured the tone that makes the genre so enjoyable. The stories are reasonably light and build in a lot of humour but retain some of the darker elements. The first of the five stories is the weakest, it sets up the characters and the scene but Leon is a bit too savvy for a four week old kitten. Despite this, it's worth a read and I'd cheerfully read more of Nagle's work.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 09:32 pm
I've been looking forward to Heroine Addiction since I knew it was being written and it is with pure glee that I added it to my LibraryThing.

Vera Noble has done her best to leave her superhero origins behind; but family is still family and when her father's mortal enemy comes to her for help she can't quite say no.

Fun and interesting exploration of family dynamics when the family business involves invading aliens, volcanoes and evil super villains. I love how the world looks when there have always been superheros and how many tiny practicalities are woven in. Vera is refreshing, witty and oh so human.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 10:47 am
Northlight by Deborah Wheeler. LibraryThing Early Reviewers. An emotionally repressed and terribly cool Ranger from the North makes her way inland to find someone to help her rescue her partner from an ongoing border war. She forms an unlikely alliance with an idealistic young scholar as secrets unfold around them. Has a lot going for it, creative, interesting, good characters. I appreciate a good post apocalypse story and really enjoy a story with complex female characters (of different ages even!). I wanted a more complex plot but would definitely read more of her work.

Dark Horse by Kate Sherwood. Boy from Wrong Side of the Tracks making Good through love of a Good Man and Horses Loses Boy but Finds other Boy(s) - what’s not to love. Quite nuanced queer poly relationship accidentally developing between people who are not philosophically poly. What actually won my heart was the way Sherwood wrote the emotional process of dealing with grief and past relationships, her characters felt very real.

Agatha H. and the Airship City (Girl Genius) by Phil Foglio. Novel of first Vol of the webcomic - I loved it! I found it a lot easier to absorb the rich details that are present in the webcomic when it was presented in text form and it was like a second voyage of discovery appreciating just how much there is to see in the webcomic.

Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, turns out I’ve read it before which is a little bit of a shame because people have been nudging it at me promising great things and while I enjoyed it, it wouldn’t make my re-read list (except how it sort of stealthily did). Also I liked it far more this time which may simply be not having the flu. In a city where Swordsmen fight Lord's honour battles for them, a rising star and his nihilistic lover are drawn into political machinations. Rich, complex world building and characterisation. I loved how many different plot lines were interwoven and really appreciated the queer characters. I wish the characters were more likeable, this has enough going on that it has strong re-readability but I'm not invested enough in anyone to want to follow their story.

The Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts. Creature Court (2). Satisfying follow on, I look forward to book 3. This kept up the pace and expanded further on the setup in Power and Majesty. Yay!
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 08:31 am
LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Mixed feelings. Maggie dreams of a city that her parents deny ever existed, but she is drawn to paint it at every opportunity. She is trapped by her unhappiness with her life and relationship with her body (wheelchair) and as her dreams become more real she is driven to pursue them.

From a narrative point of view I felt this was just getting interesting when the novel ended; it felt like the set up of a much larger story and not a story in itself. I do appreciate seeing a disabled character with a normal sex life - by which I mean taking just as many opportunities to be weird and screw things up as everyone else - but I was uncomfortable with how her disability resolved at the end of the story.

I would not seek out more of her writing based on this.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Friday, December 31st, 2010 11:31 pm
The count comes to 107 books partly due to comfort reading benders and the iPad says 294 items tagged 'Fanfiction.'  the Fanfiction count is a mix of converting old favourites for re-reading and downloading from the AO3 which has become my main source for fic.

Read more... )
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Friday, December 3rd, 2010 09:06 am
King's Blood Four, Necromancer Nine, Wizard's Eleven, The Song of Mavin Manyshaped, The Flight of Mavin Manyshaped, The Search for Mavin Manyshaped, Jinian Footseer, Dervish Daughter and Jinian Star-Eye by Sheri Tepper. Re-reading for comfort. There are a lot of ideas I like in these earlier books and I like reading books about women and their choices. I was particularly struck by Mavin explaining rape to Mertyn and how she covered some of the complexity of the social dynamic.

Cut for potentially triggering quote about sexual assult and food )

The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer and The High King by Lloyd Alexander. Re-reading also for comfort, my brain is tired. Gentle, heroic and probably very good for young-ish boys. Darn, this was one of the series I loved when I was a child and now I read it and it still has many fine qualities but it’s so obviously a story about boys, as if their story is the only one worth telling.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Monday, November 29th, 2010 08:55 am
New culture novel but would probably stand alone. Lededje Y'breq wants revenge for her abuse and subsequent murder. Her highly personal tale is woven through a much bigger one exploring of the use of virtual realities as Afterlives - specifically Hell(s) and the galactic war raging around it.

I usually love his books but for me this tipped over the ‘too gross’ line where the suffering described doesn’t justify the payoff the story achieves.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Thursday, November 25th, 2010 01:00 pm
You definitely need to have read other books in the series, have a fondness for the Vorkisigans in general and Miles in particular. Miles investigates a finance scheme involving trading cryogenically frozen people on a planet deeply interested in death and aging. A failed kidnapping attempt sees him stumbling, hallucinating into the run-away heir (and his menagerie) of the force-frozen leader of a cryo reform movement. Shenanigans ensue!

Spoilers )
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Monday, November 22nd, 2010 08:33 am
Digger by Ursula Vernon. Graphic novel and web-comic. Digger is a wombat who ends up in very different world, far from home which she handles with gorgeous wombattish pragmatism. The plot is a mix of heroic quest and slightly creepy whimsy, I love the variety of female characters and the humour. The art relies on lots of blacks, has great atmosphere and is good at conveying emotion. [personal profile] maharetr has the first three books and was giving me one every time I finished another assignment. After I finished book three she gave me the webcomic link and I caught up - loved it, will follow the continuing adventures with enthusiasm.

samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 01:38 pm
I have been reading, just haven't been reviewing. I've also been comfort reading.
  • Wintersmith, Making Money and I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett. The first and last are Tiffany Aching books who I am still very fond of and I enjoyed her continuing adventures. I particularly liked the bad Don't Pay the Ferryman joke. Making Money follows on from Going Postal and was fun.
  • A Kiss of Shadows, A Caress of Twilight, Seduced by Moonlight, A Stroke of Midnight, Mistral's Kiss, A Lick of Frost, Swallowing Darkness and  Divine Misdemeanors by Laurell K. Hamilton. Re-reading and catching up while sick, good mindless reading.
  • Turning Point, Fortune’s Wheel, Fire Margins, Razor’s Edge, Dark Nadir and Stronghold Rising by Lisanne Norman. Re-reading in preparation for reading book 8 Shades of Gray that I now have sitting on my 'to read' pile at home. First contact space opera with a decent female primary character and a lot of interesting stuff about race and gender.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Saturday, September 4th, 2010 01:59 pm
I wants an electronic copy of Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal but cannot find a seller in Australia.

I can Paypal you $ and would prefer the apple version to other stores.

ETA: Whee! Thank you thank you thank you!
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Thursday, August 19th, 2010 03:06 pm
  • New mattress has arrived! Mattress shopping apparently involves having a bunch of conversations about products while lying down - I see the value but felt a bit uncomfortable at times.
  • Have been given a vast quantity of gulab jamun - people need to come over and help eat them.
  • Saw Inception, loved it.
  • Read My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. An account of an aneurysm and subsequent recovery from the perspective of a brain scientist. Fascinating and inspiring insight into how the brain works and what bits are 'us' and what bits are 'the machine.' Glad I read it, bits of the book keep popping up as I integrate it with my world view. She did a TED talk as well.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Friday, July 23rd, 2010 10:17 am
LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Graphic Novel. This grew on me unexpectedly after I re-read it. I re-read it unexpectedly!

I'm a fan of post-Apocalypse stories and post-Rapture isn't done all that often. I think it suffers from concentrating on the B plot and not having a strong A plot but I like the way the various stories ramble along. Or maybe I liked the various stories enough to forgive them for rambling along.

Ella and her (mutant) baby are looking for somewhere to live after her apartment burns down. The world is very weird. Angels, magic, communal farming and the incarnation of Famine all make an appearance.

Less of a production piece and more of an armchair chat.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 10:45 am
Much beloved. Kicks off immediately after Scout's Progress ends and fills in a lot of the blanks for those of us who love the series to bits. Definitely not a book to start the series on - the epic romance of Aelliana and Daav.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 09:52 am
Biopunk dystopic science fiction. Brutal, ugly and atmospheric depiction of a rising civil war in post-global warming Bangkok. Thai isolationist policies have buffered them and their precious genebank from ecological disaster but pressures are mounting. Anderson from the Western 'calorie companies' is seeking access and Jaidee from the local Environmental Ministry is the last line of defence.

I wanted to like this more than I did. I'm not sure why the book is named after Emiko the Windup girl, she's the character with the least agency. She exists more as a symbol through which other stories are told then as a person in her own right which is normal when men tell stories but makes reading man-stories rather alienating. I'm afraid the ugliness overwhelmed me.

 ETA: I also think there is a fine line that writers walk when writing about evil / ugliness / suffering and that if it isn't balanced in some way with redemption / insight / growth then the former is not justified. For me, the brutality, sexual assault and sheer ugliness was not redeemed.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Saturday, June 19th, 2010 11:26 am
Shards of Honor, Barrayar, The Warrior's Apprentice, Mountains of Mourning, The Vor Game, Cetaganda, Ethan of Athos, Labyrinth, Brothers in Arms, Borders of infinity, Mirror Dance, Memory, Komarr, A Civil Campaign, Winterfair Gifts and Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Diplomatic Immunity:: Miles and Ekaterin's honeymoon is cut short (with no sympathy from Gregor) to pursue a political disaster unfolding in Quaddiespace. There's been a murder, Bel Thorne is back and the Cetagandans appears to be gearing up for something. Fun and best suited to existing Vorkosigan Saga lovers as it spends loving time on Miles and Co. without really breaking any new ground. I liked many things about it and feel it's a solid addition to the series.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 10:32 am
Science fiction, part of the Culture series and totally accessible. The story follows four royal siblings of the Sarl (a not particularly advanced race) in their quest to not die from murdering intrigue (with dubious success) and explores the various mentor relationships that exist between the more 'advanced' races.

I love that even the Culture isn't sure if the Veil or the Iln were in the right. I love the way Djan interacts with her assigned combat done - especially when she has to leave it. I like the way being part of the Culture is a state of mind that allows people to choose meaning in their lives.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Thursday, May 13th, 2010 10:02 am
Graphic Novel with art by Salgood Sam. This was released as a free download to whet appetites for the follow up Sword of My Mouth. The art is dark, in pencil sketch style and suits the theme. The story itself seems to stagger around a bit and I'm hoping it's mostly setup for Sword of My Mouth, it has a lot of good ideas but doesn't quite tell a story so much as present a series of scenes.

Post Rapture! It seems the Christians were right; an un-numbered amount of people floated off into the sky leaving behind the unwashed immoral majority. There are 'splitters' who believe they can repent and still be saved, a couple dressed as a Mummy and a Bird-woman, military angels around to mop up the worst of the unbelievers and a talking dog.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 12:07 pm
Science fiction, part of the Culture series and methinks one best approached via the first three books. Big and complex; this ties in a massively complex plot focussed on the nature of the universe, with a love affair gone bad and its 40 year consequences. I suspect you have to have a certain type of patience to read this happily as the threads take ages to come together. I think this novel’s strength is less in the overall plot, than in what it says about the characters involved. I love it for focussing on the giant Minds (AIs) and their complex philosophising. I love that they are simultaneously incredibly advanced and just as creepy, manipulative and self-reflective as everyone else.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 10:59 am
  • Try Me by Parker Blue. LibraryThing Early Reviewers. YA urban supernatural paranormal romance fantasy. Val is one eighth incubus; super fast, super strong, has a telepathic part hellhound terrier and refers to her demonic side in the third person (Lola). She works for the Special Crimes Unit who aren’t keen when they find out she’s part demon, rides a funky motorbike and has a cool nurse flatmate who can cook. She’s also called ‘Slayer’ by a fair chunk of the local vampire population due to a bad habit of stabbing them with wooden stakes when they are bad. This is a sequel so maybe if you've read book one you have more sympathy for the characters. There was some dense exposition at the beginning that helped bridge the gap but I never quite got over the writing style. Lots of telling but not showing, and a bit heavy on the dialogue. On the plus, chock full of ideas including some interesting demon mythos. I probably wouldn’t have finished it if it hadn’t been an Early Reviewers book.
  • Smart Women Finish Rich: 7 Steps to Achieving Financial Security and Funding Your Dreams by David Bach. Not bad, had to translate form American but sensible and accessible.
  • The Snow Cow by Martin Kochanski. LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Ghost stories for skiers - wot it says on the tin. I found some of the stories inaccessible - I was stopping, and paging back to see if I'd missed something when I got to the 'punchline' which I am blaming on the writing because it happened more than once. I enjoyed reading about skier mythology and seeing other, familiar tales recast in ski lodges and would have appreciated better female characters.
  • Fledgling by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Re-reading for love.
  • Saltation by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Advance copy because I'm hooked on Theo. Read in a single sitting, will probably re-read and am looking forward to the next book.
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 08:48 am
LibraryThing Early Reviewers Book.

The story of tough workaholic veterinarian Maggie growing up and growing old(er) in Memphis. This didn't quite work for me, Maggie seemed so emotionally isolated and driven that I found her hard to warm to. I felt like all the relationship building and being human was happening off camera and the storytelling felt a bit choppy. This might have worked better as a much shorter book (maybe a series of vignettes).

I adore James Herriot and Gerald Durrell so have pretty high standards when it comes to animal stories.