mayakittenreads: (GirlReading)
mayakittenreads: (BodyLibrary)
As usual, my blogging has been non existent - well, it is me. The fact that I'm finally making a post at night after being drugged in bed with a dizzy migraine all day is just how I roll. Mostly, it's because I randomly ran across an awesome book vlogger on youtube today and I'm feeling inspred. Let's face it, it probably won't last. What gives me hope is that I've no been using to do lists to organise my life on an almost daily basis for over a month now and it's been working. Mostly. Migraines and 'meh' days still happen. I've already starting semi-scheduling minimum reading and TV time, so perhaps it will work for blogging too. Perhaps if I put it on the weekend list?

So, lets start with what I've been reading in the last month-ish.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina
I read this back in late February. It's been on my to-read shelf since I saw Ambelin speak as the Guest of Honour at Continuum in Melbourne in 2014, but I hadn't got around to it (the story of my life). I finally picked it up as part of my determination to read more authors of colour. Ambelin is an Indigenous Australian author from Western Australia and this is the first novel in her YA series The Tribe. It's post the environmental apocalypse and shares the stories of a group of young people with illegal powers living in a forest on the outskirts of society. It literally covers the interrogation of the leader of these children, Ashala Wolf, over a few days. But more is going on than you think. It's about memory and friendship, power and dreams, and doing what's right. I really enjoyed it.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
I read this in the lead up to attending Contact 2016 which was held in Brisbane over Easter, with Ben as a GOH. Again, this was a book that had been sitting on my kindle for a couple of years, so I took the opportunity to read it. It's a London police procedural with magic and gods. It's the firstiin the Peter Grant series and is very enjoyable. I particularly liked the characterisation of the Thames and it's subsiduries. Enjoyable, will probably read more eventually, but not as gripping and mind bending as my other experience in a similar sub genre, Paul Cornell's Shadow Police series.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 6
I'm a wee bit behind in my Uncanny Reading (I supported both Kickstarter campaigns) but have picked it up again as my bus ride reading. This issue had a fun middle grade Scifi story, "Find A Way Home" by Paul Cornell and the bizzarity of the glitter frogs in "And Never Mind the Watching Ones" by Keffy R.M. Kehrli. As always there was some excellent essays and I think I'm starting to connect to the poetry more (I blame my current uni studies - "Biting Tongues" by Amal El-Mohtar rang clanging bells).

I also ended up re-reading all three volumes of A Tapestry of Lives by Jean Sims, one of my favourite Pride & Prejudice variation and extensions. I am currently over 600 page sinto the final book of The Obernewtyn Chronicles, The Red Queen by Isobelle Carmody, which is awesome, but requires large chunks of time (it's 1108 pages!).

TV wise, I've not watch much of note, though in the last week or so I've been catching up on a lot of Julia Zemiro's Home Delivery (a half hour interview show where she takes guests to their childhood homes & schools). I also finally watched episode 1.04 of Daredevil on Sunday and OMG the violence was so graphic I had to turn away and block my ears. I will persist with season 1, as it's Marvel, but I don't know whether I'll go further.

Now, I should stop here and try & sleep, so as to avoid missing another day of work.
mayakittenreads: (GirlReading)
Good grief, I have so many feels about this book. This is the best damn biography that I have read in a long time.

August is Tiptree month at my favourite podcast, (Hugo Award Winning!) Galactic Suburbia, as yesterday would have been the 100th birthday of Alice Bradley Sheldon aka James Tiptree Jnr aka Racoona Sheldon. I had never read this author, though I knew about her due to hearing many discussions of the James Tiptree Jnr Award and I knew Tiptree being revealed as a woman was a big shock and controversy at the time. I knew that she was known for science fiction that explored gender and sexuality. So when GS said they were going to do a spoilerific podcast (now 2) in celebration of her birthday I picked up an ebook containing the appropriate short stories (only partially read at this point) and sought the biography from my local library.

It's enthralling.

I read this oddly slowly for me, with 9, 10 or 11 page chapters taking much longer than usual, yet it didn't feel like it was dragging at all. I am utterly fascinated by this woman who is so very different from me, but yet I sympathise with her. I am a fairly calm and sensible person with a tendency towards laziness & procrastination and very little drive or ambition, and yet I felt that to have Alice's ambition and life experience would be something special. She lived so much, for all that she was rarely satifsied and not always happy. I wonder if I'm missing out on something, yet could I really cope with the agonizing confusion and self-hate that Sheldon went through?

She had such complex and difficult relationships with people, she was isolated, yet had warm friendships. She did extrodinary things at the same time as trying be a 'good daughter' and struggling with the role of wife.

Julie Phillips has written a sympathetic, honest, personal biography that made me fall completely in love with a woman I will never meet and never experience as anything other than part of history.

I'm looking forward to delving into her fiction and the commentary surrounding it.

And of course I can now liste to the Galactic Suburbia discussion. ;)

Books!

May. 31st, 2015 05:00 pm
mayakittenreads: (GirlReading)
I have been horrible at this blogging thing the last 3 months. I would blame being back to studying, but I've been a bit horrible at that too. The very early winter seems to have affected me badly. However, I am determined to post something before flying off to visit my new twin nephews tomorrow (OMG, I have NEPHEWS!), so I figure short reviews of all the books I've read since February will work. I hope you're all ready... here we go!

Indistiguishable from Magic - Catherynne M Valente
This is collection of various blog posts, speeches and academic articles that Valente has written over the years. She writes about life, politics, writing, geekery and so many subjects. Not every essay was relevant to my interests, but she writes in such an engaging style that I couldn't help but enjoy this book. There are 60 odd essays, so it takes a while to get through, but it is well worth it.

Who Was Queen Victoria? - Jim Gigliotti
This is a basic history book aimed at kids that I grabbed on Kindle when I realised it was Women's History month and I wanted to read something about one of my favourite English Queens. Very simplistic, but a reasonable overview of Victoria's life. Definitely meant for kids though.

Cranky Ladies of History - ed. Tehani Wessley & Tansy Raynor Roberts
One of my most anticipated books of the year, particualrly as I was involved in crowd funding it! It definitely lived up to my expectations. Stories about so many intriguing women that I have never heard of before. I want to know more about the Irish priate Queen and the Australia Doctor and motoring enthusiast. Bookended by half sisters Mary and Elizabeth Tudor, this book is full of women who did awesome thing, women who did terrible things but most of all, women who would not be silenced and instead got angry. Read it!

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories - ed. Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant
This book took me a year and a half to finish, which perhaps tells you my opinion. There were enough interesting concepts among the stories for me to keep at it, but nothing really jumped out and grabbed me.

Prudence - Gail Carriger
This was another highly ancipated book for me and I loved every word. I ended up banning myself from reading it in my lunch break at work because I kept burting into giggles. I've enjoyed all of the books in this universe, but something about the character interaction in Prudence tickled my funny bone and I spent most of the book in complete hysterics. A delightful romp involving fashion, tea, were monkeys, India, a truly ridiculous dirigible and a giant mechanical elephant.

The Severed Streets - Paul Cornell
I was looking forward this book so much last year after loving the first in the series and then did not get around to it. Holy hell was I sucked in once I started though. I was glued to it while stuck in Perth airport and then on a plane home. Screw sleep, I could not put it down. I had to try very hard not to shriek and flail and wake up my seatmates when I reached THAT MOMENT! Anyone who has read the book will know exactly what I mean by THAT MOMENT! How Cornell got away with it, I have no idea, but it was absolutely brilliant. Crime, London and the supernatural all in one deliciously gripping package.

Phantazein - ed. Tehani Wessley
This is the anthology that happened by accident, but I'm so glad it exists. The stories inside are full of fantasy and myth and magic. They are new fairytales, some dark and some light but all with that whymsical, mythic quality.

Kat, Incorrigible - Stephanie Burgis
This book has elements of some of my favourite things. Magic, Regency England, a sassy female protagonist, romance, adventure... yet I just could not connect with it. It's YA, which I also usually like but there was no emotional connection with the characters. There was crisis after crisis with no answers to the numerous questions until the very end and I don't even understand the magic system properly after finishing it. Not sure I'll read further in this series. Disappointing, really.

I've not included any comics here, but I continue to read Ms Marvel, and have tried Princess Leia and Hawkeye. ;)
mayakittenreads: (GirlReading)
Full disclosure: I backed the Kickstarter campaign for Uncanny Magazine. After a slow start to the month, I spend a few hours this afternoon devouring issue 2.

As I have already come to expect from the team, everything about this issue was high quality and full of the diversity that I love. As a starting point Julie Dillon’s cover art is absolutely gorgeous. It makes me think of Arabian Nights, Aladdin and the glorious look and feel of my old bellydance costumes, whilst still being a completely individual image.

My favourite story was probably Pockets by Amal El-Mohtar. There is a lyrical quality to the story that I can’t quite pin down, but the words near danced through my head. While I understood the fear the protagonist felt at items randomly appearing in her pockets, I couldn’t help but feel a thrill at the concept. The letter at the end was truly beautiful.

Ann Leckie’s Nalender was a fun story with a fairytale warning. The Heat of Us: Notes Toward An Oral History by Sam J. Miller felt like an all too truthful picture of the treatment of homosexuality in the recent past, wrapped in a supernatural occurrence and journalistic style. I feel the urge to look into history books on the subject now.

I found Love Letters to Things Lost and Gained by Sunny Moraine an absolutely fascinating look at the emotions and trauma involved in becoming an amputee and gaining a prosthetic, not to mention that the ‘science fiction’ element could very easily become science fact.

The stand out essays for me were The Politics of Comfort by Jim C. Hines and Age of the Geek, Baby by Michi Trota. Both made excellent points that I completely agree with about the SF/F community.

Go! Read!

(cross posted at Goodreads)

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