kmo: (omar)
Not much to see here. I'm still reading Wolf Hall, probably about 4/5ths done. I think this might be a new record for amount of time spent reading a book that wasn't...uh...Ulysses. I actually like the story a great deal, but I think because it's *~*literary fiction*~* and not the type of genre stuff i usually read, i don't get that compulsive "just one more chapter" feeling. Well, that and I've been pretty damn tired lately with the start of the semester and our whopping nine campus visits and all the meetings and politicking and what not. (which, btdubs is a sausage you do *not* want to see get made, at one point my very nice, very kind department chair was going around whipping votes so that it didn't degenerate into utter hair splitting and name calling.) so yeah, i haven't had as much time as i'd like to spend with He, Cromwell.

Speaking of "whipping votes," we finished s2 of House of Cards and it pretty much made for the best valentine's weekend evah because we are those kind of people. We also bought a new dining room table and some truly diva purple brocade chairs, which totally counts as romantic when you are new homo-owners trying to get rid of your old Ikea furniture that is falling apart. But anyway, HoC...oh you don't make too much sense, Evil West Wing, but you're kind of my favorite? I think you just have to accept that this is a show about power, not politics, and not think too hard. Frank and Clair Underwood want power because power exists, and they are willing to potentially destroy the US economy and the democratic party to get it. Also, I love their marriage- they are two of my favorite tropes: marriage of equals and unholy matrimony. I consider myself a pretty moral, compassionate individual, but damn do i really love villains and Machiavellian badassary. A;so- how hot was episode 11 spoilers )


I've also started watching True Detective on HBO. I'm into it, the narrative structure. This is probably the only thing I have ever really liked Matthew McConaghey in and he gives an incredible performance. Though, I have to say, I'm disappointed that the only women in this series seem to be wives, mistresses, strippers, and murder victims...or some combination thereof. True Detective is supposed to be more like an anthology series- more like American Horror Story I guess- where there is a new detective story every season. I'm really hoping that next season we get a lady detective. Or a lady boss. Or a lady villain. Because while this show explores white American masculinity really well...I am getting tired of every prestige drama being all about the manpain. 

Still on the fence about signing up for [livejournal.com profile] rarewomen . I'm thinking I will, but it's probably not best to make this decision when I am exhausted in the middle of the week. Le sigh. 
kmo: (Default)
Uh, this month I neither accomplished all the academicy things (hello pesky revisions and conference papers!) nor fannish things that I wanted. Le sigh. But after much trial and tribulation and blood, sweat, and tears (buckets of tears, really) V and I finally closed on our house on Friday! Woot! We're excited to finally own a place, but at the same time, trying not to be overwhelmed by the number of decisions that need to be made before we can move in next month. Also we are shite at picking out paint colors.

Anyway, onto the book reviews!

Swordspoint, Flavia de Luce #4, The Eight, The Broken Kingdoms )

I also signed up for the Women of Genre Fiction reading challenge. The goal is to promote female authors in SF/F. It's not too late to join- you are just asked to read 12 books by 12 different female authors that you haven't read before. I am retroactively counting Bujold, Kushner, and Erin Morgenstern toward my goal- and I could count Veronica Roth and Deb Harkness as well, but since I didn't particularly enjoy their books, I'm aiming to read more. I definitely want to use this challenge as motivation to finally read some Ocativa Butler and Ursula LeGuin. Nicola Griffith's Ammonite has been on my to-read list for a long time as well. I think Cathrynne Valente will be next, though- The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is sitting on my nightstand. I'm open to suggestions of course. You can see my tentative list (as kmo) on the challenge page.  

kmo: (orchis house)
 
So, although Jacqueline Carey's newest book, Dark Currents, the first in her Agent of Hel trilogy, came out in October, I only just got around to reading it. Partially, I was afraid that my expectations were just too high and that I would end up disappointed, as I was with much of the Naamah series and Saints Astray. And I'll be honest, I was dubious because paranormal romance/urban fantasy is not a genre I've ever really been into. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised and found Dark Currents very enjoyable. Daisy, the "reluctant hell-spawn," makes a fine heroine. She's half- All American girl, half-demon, and this gives her a grittiness and a sort of down-to-earthness that makes a nice change of pace from Carey's other protagonists (who I LOVE but, it's great to see an author that's got range) At the same time, Daisy has a lot in common with her predecessors. Like Loup and Phedre, she has strange genetic predisposition that she hasn't quite mastered. Like Imriel, she has a bloodline people fear. And like Moirin, she's the child of a single mom. Carey is fond of certain tropes- you could say she recycles them. But they just happen to be tropes I like, so I do kind get a kick out seeing how she mixes and matches them in her work. 

The first book is essentially a paranormal police procedural. It's quite a contrast to the travelogue type books Carey usually writes, as the action takes place within the boundaries of Daisy's hometown. But again, I enjoyed the mixing of the fantasy and the mundane. And as a police-procedural type mystery, the plot moves steadily and it's entertaining. A lot world-building happens in this first book, so it can at times feel a bit like "these are the people in my really strange neighborhood." I expect we're being set-up for a more in-depth showdown over Daisy and her demonic birthright and the supernatural and mundane residents of Pemkowet in the next two books. I don't know why but the tone and the pacing and the presentation of many love interests for Daisy reminded me a lot of the Stephanie Plum books than any fantasy series that i'd read. Go fig. 

Likes )

Critiques )

In short, if you like urban fantasy/paranormal romance along the lines of True Blood and Lost Girl or quirky female police procedurals like Stephanie Plum, I'd recommend this series to you. Kushiel fans- what can I say? If the Kushiel series is a long, elaborate feast of many exotic courses, Dark Currents is like a hamburger and a microbrew at your favorite pub. Which is not a knock against it- because who doesn't enjoy a good burger and beer?  Preferably in this case a delicious Bell's Oberon or Two-Hearted for Michigan pride. 
 

  
kmo: (mistress)
While I wait patiently for my rarewomen assignment, I'll share a fic I wrote with you. It's just a little Carmen Sandiego character study that I wrote as a way of getting my fanfic groove back after so much stress. I was beginning to wonder if the well had run dry for me on this fandom, but nope. Well, let's just say i still have a lot of plotbunnies but not usually easily executed one-shots, so I decided to just write it.

Canyon (1470 words) by kmo
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Carmen Sandiego
Additional Tags: Angst, Character Study, Villain Protagonist
Summary:

Carmen reflects on the nature of canyons, grand and otherwise.



While I'm on the subject of female criminal masterminds, let me give you my review of Queenpin by Megan Abbott

This book, it rocks )

In other news, I just finished Jacqueline Carey's newest book, Dark Currents! I liked it. So expect an extra special review post from me about it soon.
kmo: (claudia)
 
I received some excellent books as Christmas gifts. I usually ask for things I've been wanting to read  but don't quite desire enough to buy myself and are too popular still to be checked out of the library. So, this year I received The Night Circus, The Magician King, and A Discovery of Witches. I'm particularly excited about the latter, since I have heard it is basically Lady Historian porn and my adviser is BFFs with the woman who wrote it. Who is actually in real life a big name Lady Historian of Early Modern Europe and coincidentally, a lesbian. We'll see if that makes the het romance in the book more or less believable.

In other news, I gave my BFF of 26 years Kushiel's Dart for Christmas. A few months ago, she asked me "Have you read Fifty Shades of Gray?" Should I read it?" And I was like "HELL to the NO." Friends don't let friends read bad porn, amirite? I told her that if she wanted to read a book about S&M, she could do better. And I meant to send it to her ages ago, but forgot. I have a feeling she'll enjoy it- she's gotten into ASOIAF (though more so, the tv series) so she's no stranger to fantasy epics. Prediction: she will love Phedre/Joscelin and the religious aspects because of our messed up strict Catholic upbringing. She will approach Phedre/Melisande with the same disapproval and lack of comprehension she displayed every time I pursued an inappropriate relationship with a mercurial older woman. (i have a TYPE, ok? and her name is Queen Bitch) I seem to remember she went through an angel phase during high school. If she can make it through the first 300 pages of ornate prose and intrigue, I think I might have a convert.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, The Dark Wife, Doctrine of Labyrinths )
kmo: (Default)
Obligatory Sandy Update: We were extremely fortunate down in our part of Southeastern VA. Days of rain but we didn't lose power. Sandy was gentle compared to Irene- that biotch knocked my power out for a week! And now we have a house full of "hurricane supplies" (liquor and junk food)...which is both a good and a bad thing. But overall, I feel really blessed. I have friends and relatives in the NJ-DE area that don't expect to get electric back for at least a week, and it is COLD there. This is my 2nd hurricane and I can honestly say, give me a blizzard any day over this ish. 

Emma Donoghue, Parasol Protectorate, Flavia de Luce )
 
Only read 3 books this month. *shrugs* I know I had said I was going to read Dark Currents but I got all nervous that I wasn't going to like it and so I put it off. :( Maybe next month. But I just ordered Cloud Atlas for myself because I really want to see the movie and I am one of those people who absolutely has to read the book first. Well...has to read the book first if I think the book is any good. 
kmo: (thesaurus)
Hey YA fans, I just wrote a review of Shannon Hale's Princess Academy over at Juvenile Instructor, my friend AHK's Mormon Studies blog. You should check it out! And comment. Most of the writers on that blog are dudes and I feel I may have scared them away with my discussions of teenaged femininity. 

I didn't say it in my review, because I was trying to play nice over there in the LDS sandbox,  but after reading Ash and Huntress. this one came off as quaintly heteronormative. 
kmo: (claudia)
It's that time of the month. Nope, I mean that other time of the month. Not counting that book on Victorian pornography I got to read for my dissertation (Did you know Jean Jacques Rousseau spent most of his life pining for a woman to spank him?) I read a mystery novel, a short story collection, and some YA fiction with lesbians. G

ETA: Who has 2 thumbs, speaks limited French and just got her copy of Dark Currents in the mail today? This moi! Guess what I'll be reading in October.   
Maisie Dobbs, Neil Gaiman, Ash & Huntress )

kmo: (house pride)
Yesterday I overhauled my CV to make it look more like a grown up's, so I decided to try out a new format round these parts as well. I really liked the look of the magic paper, but the column layout felt awkward to me. Anywho, since it feels like fall is in the air, I thought I'd share what I read on my summer "vacation" (major air quotes). I give you the good, the meh, and the please don't read this. 


The Good

Keturah and Lord Death, Martine Leavitt- Wow. This YA fantasy set in pre-industrial Europe was beautifully written, lush and brought me to tears several times. Young Keturah meets Lord Death in the forest and uses a story to bargain for her life. It's sort of a mashup of the Persephone and Hades myth by way of Scheherazade. I am so impressed with the way the author managed to both make it feel as familiar as a fairy tale and yet render the characters all so vividly real. I can't recommend this one enough. 

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin- Jemisin has been on my radar for awhile, and this story did not disappoint! Yeine, a warrior woman from the provinces learns she has been made heir to her world's evil empire. What follows is a tale of intrigue, murder, and sexy gender-bending fallen gods. It ticked a lot of my women-of-color feminism, post-colonial theory buttons in a good way. I can't wait to read the next two, but I will miss having Yeine as a narrator. 

India Black, Carol K. Carr- so this is the first of Carr's Madam of Espionage series. India is a madam and brothel-keeper in Victorian London who gets swept up into spies, the great game, etc, when a customer dies in her establishment. I was thrilled to hear about this and perhaps a little jealous, because I once said I wanted to write a series of mysteries starring an ex-prostitute in antebellum America. The pacing and adventure aspects were only so-so, but India is an absolute hoot- a cynical woman of the world and kind of a bitch. I mean those things as compliments. Will definitely check out the next two books. 

If You Follow Me, Malena Waltrous- as someone who spent time studying abroad in Japan, this memoirish tale of one American girl's year as an English teacher in the JET program was right up my alley. At times it was a little precious for me kind of overshary in that "oh my God, I am listening to someone's therapy" kind of way. I originally wanted to read it because when the novel begins, the protagonist is in a closeted relationship with another female teacher.

It doesn't work out for them, they both end up with men. Le sigh. But even so, I bought the protagonist's romantic journey, so it wasn't a dealbreaker for me.

Rec'd to people who like fish out of water stories, travelogues, black comedy. 

The Meh

Sevenwaters Series, Juliet Marillier- There were many things I liked about these books. Their setting in pre-Christian Ireland reminded me of The Mists of Avalon, Marillier's use of mythology and story-telling is similar to the Kushiel series and the Queen's Thief books. But overall, I found her heroines a bit on the milquetoasty side, almost borderline Mary Sue-ish. They are all so "good" and self-sacrificing and wonderful...until they meet a male love interest and then suddenly they're Tracy and Hepburn. Liadan, the heroine of the second book, is especially guilty of this. I think the first, Daughter of the Forest, is the best written. And yeah, I'm on the fence about them, yet I managed to read all three pretty quickly, so go fig. 

Don't Read This

The Swan Thieves, Elizabeth Kostova- Having really enjoyed The Historian (which is about historians, and vampires and my alma mater, so a winning combination) I was really looking forward to Kostova's new book. I really shouldn't have been. Talk about your pretentious prose. I found the male characters unlikable and the plot altogether boring, saw the big "twist" ending coming a mile away. It was so long and drawn out, but I kept reading thinking it would eventually pick up and become interesting. Alas. I don't often say this, but maybe it needed more vampires? Or more historians? Run, don't walk, away from this book. 


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